Jewish World Review Sept. 3, 2002 / 26 Elul, 5762

Joanne Jacobs

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Consumer Reports

First, win the war | One year after Pearl Harbor Day, Americans were launching battleships, writes Mike Antonucci of Education Intelligence Agency, responding to the National Education Association's Sept. 11 lesson plans and plans for candlelight vigils, bell ringing, free long-distance phone calls (huh?), etc.

Annual formal memorials came after the war was over...How should we honor the victims of September 11 and their families? By locating all those who support, direct and harbor terrorists, and destroying them. When they are utterly defeated, then we can put up the shrines, develop lesson plans and argue endlessly over what really happened.

Antonucci notes that the academic who wrote the don't-blame-anyone material for the NEA is listed as an expert in biological rhythms, hypnosis, sports psychology and youth baseball. Today, Little League. Tomorrow, the world.


Toby Keith's Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue/The Angry American is a song popular with ugly Americans, says John Sutherland in the Guardian.

Outside the metropolitan areas, two kinds of programme dominate: the God channels and "C&W." Bible-bashers threatening hellfire and fat guys with silly hats, twanging geetars, fu-manchus and pony tails, serenading purty gals, Chevy Tahoes, bars duskily lit by Budweiser neon, and the "real" values of red neck and blue collar.

Umm...He can hear all that -- obesity, hat, mustache, ponytail -- on his car radio? Those Brits are sensitive.

Sutherland believes liberals are "enraged" by Angry American's ass-kicking. His enraged liberal is "Paul" Jennings of ABC, who "is from that distinguished generation of newscasters who dragged middle America back from the Vietnam madness." He means Peter Jennings, of course. I don't know what he means about the dragging part. The soldiers came back on airplanes.

Jennings, by the way, claims he likes the song but dropped it from his musical Fourth of July special because he didn't think it should go first, as required by Keith's busy schedule.


Bloggers are jeering at a Norwegian charity that objects to the McAfrika -- allegedly inspired by African cuisine, though it looks a lot like a cheeseburger to me, only with fancy bread. Apparently it's "insensitive" to imply that Africans eat food not donated by worthy Europeans.

Scott Ott of Scrappleface reports that McDonald's is opening a protest-oriented restaurant.

"We looked at the demographics and it just made sense," according to the news release. "Protestors are everywhere and they're very vocal about what they like and what they don't. In essence, they're the ultimate target market. If our regular customers stood in the streets shouting about their personal preferences, we'd be out there with tape recorders. These protestors have really opened our eyes to opportunity.

The new restaurants will not serve piping hot coffee, nor anything with fat, nor products containing monosodium glutamate (MSG), nor anything that might have come from a mad cow, nor the new McAfrika sandwich.

But what will they serve? I have the solution: Cater to hunger fasters. Serve nothing.

McNothing without Grilled Bun and Special Sauce: $4.75

McNothing without Bun, Sauce and without Medium Water: $5.75

Supersized McNothing without Large Water: $6.75

Crispy McNothing Fingers without Flies: $5.25

McNothing Happy Meal (comes with nothing -- not recommended for children under 18): $4.75


With an emergency credential, two weeks of training and some borrowed supplies, Larry Slonaker taught seventh grade "language arts" at a Gilroy, Calif., middle school. Slonaker, a San Jose Mercury News writer who took a year's leave of absence, writes on what he learned as a teacher. First lesson: It takes superhuman patience.

Slonaker spent the first week on commonly misspelled words, including "its" and "it's." For homework, he assigned students to write a sentence for each of 10 spelling words. When he collected the homework, he discovered most students still used "its" as a contraction.

That was the day I first felt an inkling of how much patience I would need. The feeling was distilled in one simple sentence that came from a happy-go-lucky student in sixth period.

After several preliminary missteps ("Were are my shoes at?" and -- optimistically -- "Their is not eny homework for today"), he submitted this for sentence No. 8:

"Its a plauser to meat you Mr. Slonaker."

For several moments I stared at this -- particularly at the words "its" and "meat." I began to picture my body passing through a hamburger grinder, with the student hospitably turning the crank.

Then there was the time the janitor found a crumpled piece of paper with "kill Slonaker" written on it 17 times. At least "kill" and "Slonaker" were both spelled correctly.

In part two, Slonaker deals with classroom management. What do you do when your students shoot staples at each other with rubber bands? Hide the stapler. It's easier to deal with missiles made of paper wads. Or, as one student wrote: "I trove a think to my freend."


Scrappleface posts Ten Reasons To Criminalize Homeschooling, including:

Most parents were educated in the underfunded public school system, and so are not smart enough to homeschool their own children.

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JWR contributor Joanne Jacobs, a former Knight-Ridder columnist and San Jose Mercury News editorial writer, blogs daily at She is currently finishing a book, Start-Up High, about a San Jose charter school. Comment by clicking here.

08/26/02:Out of their field, out of their minds?
08/20/02: Fun with failure

© 2002, Joanne Jacobs