Friday, June 17, 2005

See you later CDG

Greetings friends... from the Horatio Travelogue.

Well... I'm sitting on the floor in Paris/Charles De Gaulle Airport. And I will officially dub this place "the twilight zone."

Upon arriving, they allowed us to deplane on these super-modern-looking glass Skyway bridges. But, someone failed to unlock the door at the far end of the bridge, so we were stuck in a long line in this enclosed tube (insert claustrophobia here). Because they were glass (and modern-looking, which is important in Paris) we got a great view of the bedlam of little carts driving back and forth below us. Holy crazy! Imagine a traffic jam of golf carts all wanting to go different directions. So much for traffic rules (or sense). The modern-looking sassy glass bridge also gave us another great demonstration of the greenhouse effect. Hmmm... maybe building these sassy bridges with clear glass and no air conditioning wasn't such a hot idea after all.

When they finally released us, I followed the signs telling me how to get to my terminal... only to find out that they led me right out to the tarmac (see bedlam referred to above). After asking the unhappy lady in the yellow traffic vest where on this green earth i was supposed to go, she ushered me onto a bus... which then took off and joined the airport traffic bedlam (all this, in a "secure" area).

Yeah... the next fifteen minutes were more like driving in Cairo than driving in Paris... except there were no cabbage-laden donkey carts. But, finally they pulled me up to a back entrance door marked by a hastily-made sign: "2E"

Now, for those of you who don't remember Paris CDG Terminal 2E, check this out:

Yep... leave it to Paris to invest billions of dollars into a new, ultra-modern, space ship-inspired terminal (which was already over capacity the day it opened) and then have it collapse a year later. So, what is terminal 2E now? Well, it looks a lot like a bus station. They took the signs from the old terminal, repainted a storage area, added doors, put up a few coke machines (charging 2 EURO for a can of coke... vive le france), and have tried to move on. I guess they are rebuilding the terminal.

Now I am sitting next to the ONLY open plug in the entire area (and I cased the place... I'm glad I found this one). And, it seems they added a WiFi hub to keep their passengers from tearing their ears off and gnawing on the ugly furniture.

So, I'm off on an adventure. People say I should be afraid of the Middle East. Personally, I'm more afraid of the Paris airport. When stuff like this happens in the Arab world, it is quaint; when it happens in Paris, it is an embarrassment.

Those are my thoughts. Where to next? Oh yeah... The Middle East.

That is all.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Who Leaves Children Behind?

You know, I have never quite understood all the fuss about the No Child Left Behind act. Of course, I was spoiled... I had a great education. So, I already come at this from a privledged point of view.

But, as I read the news, I am finding out that hundreds of thousands of children around this country are NOT LEARNING TO READ. Yes... we are the strongest country in the world, yet 70% of inner-city fourth grade students can not pass a basic reading test. That is appalling! What are we accomplishing in this country if we aren't even teaching our children how to read???

For the last six months, I have been around people who were pushing that legislation because they believed in it with all their hearts. I have kind of followed along for the ride... because I didn't understand enough about the legislation. Then, a few days ago, I commented about the law to a fellow student. Said werf responded with disgust: "It's a crappy law."

Huh? Why is it a crappy law? This is what I understand is the purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act:

1) That schools be held accountable for student performance. That means, that schools should be encouraged to accomplish something.

2) Schools who wish to recieve federal funding should use researched and proven methods of teaching literacy.

3) Students should be tested regularly to make sure they are meeting basic literacy goals.

In this process, the federal government will provide funding to schools that reach basic literacy goals, and focus on helping schools that do not.

I'm just trying to figure out why it is so evil that we expect kids to learn how to read? Why is it a bad law that requires results out of our school system?

Oh... of course... the federal government should not be involved in education. Personally, if our education sector is perform as badly as it says it is, let's get the government involved. I'm a conservative, but if something ain't working, maybe sometimes the government should get involved.

That is all... for now.

Virtues of the Democratic Party

It has been a while since I posted here... and there have not been many things I have been sufficiently passionate about to write a rant. Well, the other day a fine reader of the 100 Hour Board asked:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What are some virtues of the Democratic party?


This was my response:

Dear Quoηdam,

The Democratic party does have a lot of virtues. Recently, they don't seem to be implementing or pushing those virtues very well.

Democrats have always been the champion of those without a voice... the little guy. They have effectively courted groups that represent the poor or afflicted: Unions, ACLU, blacks (although this is changing... more blacks voted for Bush in '04 than any other previous Republican), and the environment. They have also actively courted liberal women by promoting abortion and women's rights. Generally Democrats also believe that government can more effectively manage an economy rather than leaving management to free market forces. This usually applies to more universal health care benefits.

A friend of mine just said: "THIS incarnation of the dem party has done a shoddy job of things." And that friend is exactly right.

Recently the Democratic party seems to have lost its vision. It has spent a lot of time trying to put together a majority from a variety of minority interests. In the 2004 election, John Kerry lost because nobody could figure out what he believed. Democrats hate the word "flip-flop," but it is the buzz word that lost them the Presidency.

According to Karl Rove (who I found to be a surprisingly charming fellow), today's Democratic party has not articulated a vision of where they want the country to go. They are playing defense constantly. Check out the 2005 State of the Union by President Bush and then the response by Harry Reid and Congresswoman Plasti-Girl (Nancy Pelosi is her real name... but she looked like a stretched plastic doll that day). Bush talked a lot about a bi-partisan vision of going forward... even quoting prominent democrats (for which he was booed by the Democrats). The Democratic response was all defensive, offering no real view for where the country should go... only saying that "President Bush is wrong, we can do better."

So, historically speaking, the Democratic party has a lot of virtues. The most recent incarnation of the party, however, seems to be focused only on bringing down President Bush at all costs. And, to me, that isn't good enough. Give me a vision of where you want to go... and lets talk about it.

This leads me back to a rant I wrote in my http://horatiotastic.blogspot.... in March. Political parties reflect the beliefs of those who are most active in them. They represent the aggregate beliefs of those who participate. If we don't like the way a party is moving, we need to get involved. Right now, the uniting force of the Democratic party seems to be: Get Bush. The Republican party at least has a direction: spreading democracy around the world.

Giving the option between taking out the Commander in Chief during a war and a broad vision of spreading democracy... give me democracy. I may not agree with all the methods, but I like the direction they are going. Then, it is up to me to get involved and make sure my ideas are known.

There is my rant on Political Parties. Believe and vote as you will.

That is all.

Horatio the Political Junkie