Archive for the ‘literacy’ Category

Bush Book Deal!

January 14, 2009

Bush Book Deal!

Last Sunday, President George W. Bush told Brit Hume of Fox News Sunday about his retirement plans:

Bush: …I plan on writing a book.

Hume: Do you?

Bush: I do.

Hume: A history of your presidency?

Bush : You know, I’m not quite exactly sure what it’s going to be, but I’m toying with the idea of maybe describing the toughest decisions I had to make as President, and the context in which I made them, because one of the things that –


Book Festival for a Nation of Non-Readers

September 26, 2008

Book Festival for a Nation of Non-Readers
Featured book of the Book Festival. Really.

Instead of distributing millions of free books to America’s children or restoring the NEA and NEH budgets, U.S. Library-Lady-in-Chief Laura Bush is hosting what we fervently hope is the last National Book Shill Festival on Washington, DC’s National Mall tomorrow, Saturday, September 27, 2008.

The festival presents our greatest living American authors: Dionne Warwick and her psychic friends, Laura Bush & Jenna Bush (what a coincidence!), Chris Duhon ( NBA Chicago Bulls) and Ivory Latta (WNBA Atlanta Dream; “good friend” of LeBron James and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges).

This year there is a Featured Book: Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out ( Candlewick Press, 2008) about the public housing facility currently occupied by, um, Laura Bush.

P.S.: Tomorrow is the start of Banned Books Week, celebrating the Freedom to Read since 1982.

Our sympathies to the beleaguered employees of the Library of Congress whose valuable time and resources have been wasted on this absurd Book Fest. It will probably rain tomorrow, too. Stay home and read banned books.

Why Web Newspapers Stink #1

August 10, 2008







This morning I tried to read a story in the Washington Examiner. It was about a new website. The article had hyperlinks to every random article in old Examiners but no hyperlink to the website the article was about. Exasperating. A typical online newspaper. It could have been the New York Times or Washington Post website.

Newspapers made of inky cellulose are losing readers. Younger and more affluent readers tend to read newspaper websites, if they care to read news at all. Newspaper editors are boomers, who either fear losing web readers or don’t have a clue, so they forbid or avoid full use of hypertext, insisting that each newspaper constitute a closed, self-referential system, with hyperlinks only to itself. What infuriating nonsense.


WaPo Video

June 11, 2008

WaPo Video

Now that the old farts senior journalists at the Washington Post have taken buyouts and has stocked a Virginia cubicle farm with teeny-bobbers young guns, WaPo is “cross-training” staff writers to make home videos with the Canon HF-100 (about $600 a pop). Like other newspapers, WaPo faces a future of expensive dead trees and declining American literacy, so digital video in a Right-to-Work state spells “convergence.” Microsoft chairman Steve Ballmer says so, too.


5th Most Literate or 5th Most Literary?

December 28, 2007

5th Most Literate or 5th Most Literary?

Washington DC has been ranked #5 overall in the annual Most Literate Cities List compiled by Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).

I find this rather odd, since it is well-known that 37 per cent of the District’s adult population is functionally illiterate. What gives?


The U.S. Dollar Gets Loonie

September 23, 2007

I cannot tell a lie, hoser . . . .

For over 30 years you could get a Canadian dollar plus small change for a U.S. dollar bill. Today a greenback gets you a single Canadian dollar coin, called a “Loonie” after the swimming bird stamped on it. That is what economists and politicians mean when they say U.S. and Canadian currencies are “at parity.” 

Here’s what I say. A buck is a buck in Canada and the U.S. NAFTA means we buy and sell the same products, mostly. Toronto plays in the American League and Montréal plays in DC (we call them the Nationals when they win; so far they remain the Expos).  Put it all together, eh? The U.S. of A. is now Canada. 


11th Street Literacy Test

September 14, 2007

11th Street Literacy Test - No Driver Left Behind.

One-third of U.S. adults are said to be functionally illiterate, and the District of Columbia is no exception. I introduce in evidence my twenty years observing the 11th Street Literacy Test.

At the intersection of East Capitol Street and 11th Street, facing East-bound traffic at the foot of Lincoln Park, is a large sign beneath a traffic signal. The traffic light is the conventional red-yellow-green type, with an arrow pointing towards the right, which lights up red and green at regular intervals.  (more…)

Books. Heard of them?

September 10, 2007

Mercer Mayer

The 2007 National Book Festival will be held on the National Mall Saturday, Sept. 29th. There is still time to actually read a book before attending.

 The Library of Congress and hostess Mrs. Laura Bush realize Americans don’t really read books, whatever Librarian of Congress James H. Billington says in the press release. That’s why NBA and WNBA basketball players, people dressed like children’s television characters, and TV news personalities (with books about the times they were actual reporters) will wander the grounds. 

 Pavilions are organized like a shopping mall bookstore: Teens & Children; Fiction & Fantasy; Mysteries & Thrillers; History & Biography; Home & Family; and Poetry (I think there will be performance poets to wake you up). Don’t miss the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program in the Pavilion of the States (Noisy patron? Phasers on “stun!”).

 70 authors, illustrators and poets, some of them famous for being well-known, will talk about their books and sign them. Do they flog books at these things, like at a bookstore appearance? If so, the press release is too polite to say so, perhaps because Judith Martin (“Miss Manners”) will be there. Authors to pester include Edward P. Jones, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen L. Carter, and N. Scott Momaday.


No Substandard Teachers Left Behind

August 24, 2007

No bumping! 

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee told the Examiner that 68 educators, with a combined annual payroll of $5.4 million, will not be placed in schools this term but, due to their contracts and seniority, their employment cannot be terminated. 

The skills of these teachers, aides, and assistant principals may be too weak to allow them to teach our children, but their experience should not go to waste, nor should they sit idle while collecting public salaries.


Over one-third of the District’s adults cannot read a food label or complete a job application, and the rate of functional illiteracy is even higher for the incarcerated. 68 educators are available to help remedy this problem. Right now, immediately. Put them in half-way houses and D.C. Jail. Start a second shift or night school at the jail if demand exceeds capacity of the facilities.


Mayor Fenty has coordinated Adult Literacy programs under the State Education Office. I am sure the Chancellor and Deputy Mayor for Education could expedite detailing of these DCPS employees to the SEO for this vital effort.


And if some of the idle educators do not feel up to the challenge and decide to pursue other opportunities, good luck to them. The salary lines freed up can be used to hire more skilled classroom teachers for DC’s children.