I’m not there

Got a copy of “I’m Not There,” the soundtrack from the edgy Dylan movie of the same name. What an amazing two-CD set. Covers of Dylan songs are often better than the originals (except to Dylan purists) but I have to say, I’m greatly impressed by just about every track.

Here’s a few:

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. What a sly joke, to have one of Dylan’s early Greenwich Village rivals play

Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind, Jack Johnson.

Simple Twist of Fate, Jeff Tweedy.

Ballad of a Thin Man, the Million Dollar Bashers.

Waiting for Superman

Aaron Swartz:

Despite repeatedly insisting poor kids just need better teachers, the film [Waiting for “Superman”] never says what it is that better teachers actually do. Instead it highlights the voices of American Express pitchman Geoffrey Canada and Bill Gates, whose obsessions with higher standardized test scores have led their schools to cancel recess and art in favor of more hours of scripted memorization.

Why bother with art if teaching is just about filling kids’ heads with pre-determined facts? The real crisis in American education isn’t teachers’ unions preventing incompetent teachers from getting fired (as awful as that may be), it’s the single-minded focus on standardized test scores that underlies everything from Bush’s No Child Left Behind to Obama’s Race to the Top to the charter schools lionized in the film.

Real education is about genuine understanding and the ability to figure things out on your own; not about making sure every 7th grader has memorized all the facts some bureaucrats have put in the 7th grade curriculum.

Pledging allegiance

There’s a reason why TV shows and movies so often depict judges as power-hungry, egomaniacal and yes, a little bit crazy — because in real life, so many of them are. (And the phrase “sober as a judge” is meant to be ironic.)

TUPELO, Miss. – When a Mississippi judge entered a courtroom and asked everyone to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, an attorney with a reputation for fighting free speech battles stayed silent as everyone else recited the patriotic oath. The lawyer was jailed.

Attorney Danny Lampley spent about five hours behind bars Wednesday before Judge Talmadge Littlejohn set him free so that the lawyer could work on another case. Lampley told The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal he respected the judge but wasn’t going to back down.

“I don’t have to say it because I’m an American,” Lampley told the newspaper.

The Supreme Court ruled nearly 70 years ago that schoolchildren couldn’t be forced to say the pledge, a decision widely interpreted to mean no one could be required to recite the pledge.

On Thursday, the judge again asked those in the courtroom to pledge allegiance to the flag, which stands to the right of the bench.

“I didn’t expect the Pledge of Allegiance, but he asked me to do it so I did it,” said Melissa Adams, 41, who testified in a child custody case that was closed to the public.

Lampley, 49, previously refused to say the pledge in front of Littlejohn in June. He was asked to leave the courtroom, but returned after the pledge.
The attorney told the newspaper Wednesday it was a problem for the judge and himself to work out, yet blogs across the country lit up with fiery comments and support for both sides.

Resistance is futile

I can’t be any more clear: Police abuse won’t stop until voters get involved. That means finding out which local politicians have authority over your police force, going to the public meetings and getting as many people as you can involved. It can be done, it has been done. It’s one of the few relatively easy things to improve in local government.

But if all you do is read about it and say, “Tsk tsk,” (because after all, it didn’t happen to anyone you know – yet) it will continue to spread.

DALLAS – A former Department of Public Safety trooper who was accused of using excessive force during a traffic stop now faces criminal charges.

Trooper Arturo Perez was charged with misdemeanor assault for the incident that happened on the Dallas North Tollway in October 2009.

An attorney for the victim said while she was driving her passenger grabbed the wheel and caused her to crash into the wall near Lemon Avenue.

The 22-year-old suffered very minor injuries when her airbag deployed. But she called 911 and that’s when things got worse.

Dash camera video shows Perez handcuff the woman and slam her into a wall.

“As a chief felony prosecutor, a county judge, a state district judge, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s horrific,” said Attorney Randy Isenberg. “Clearly excessive brutal force, he snapped. He lost his temper and he hurt her really bad.”

The victim was treated at a hospital for a deep gash in her chin. She also had cuts on her knees.

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