Another Goodstorm Horror Story–And still no black tee with a union bug

My readers want black tees with “We will not be silent” printed in Arabic. I want to offer a tee that is not made by sweatshop labor.

Goodstorm had a black union-made tee that came in large sizes, as well as smaller, fashion-fit black tees from American Apparel, a U.S.-based non-union company whose fair labor practices have been documented. But Goodstorm stopped paying its shopkeepers. My own problems with Goodstorm have still not been resolved.

I thought Goodstorm was a problem just for shopkeepers, but now it looks like customers didn’t receive the goods they ordered either. Blogger Zootso set up Goodstorm shop and ordered some stuff from it to see what would happen. The first orders merely arrived late. Subsequent orders did not arrive at all and Zootso was able to get a refund (but not the goods) only after much wrangling.

I am still looking for the internet fulfillment company that will offer that ethically-produced black tee .

Posted in Fair Trade, T-shirts. Comments Off on Another Goodstorm Horror Story–And still no black tee with a union bug

No, you may NOT hit a child in my classroom.

I thought I had seen everything in my classroom. We are far away from the main campus, so we can pretty much do what we want.  Food not allowed?  No problem in my classroom. Children not allowed? If the moms want to learn English , they have to bring the children.  Keeping them from disturbing the class requires endless patience and more than a little experimentation.  But worth it. When you educate the mother you educate the whole family.  Or so I tell them. I even have a mom that breastfeeds in the classroom.

But today there was something new.  A new student , trying to keep her small child quiet, hit him. Of course there was no question I could not keep silent about this, but I froze, and in a split second tried to remember everything I knew about dealing with this on the employment level.

There was the neighbor who told a cryptic tale about someone–a “mandated reporter”–who had reported child abuse but some unnamed dreadful thing had happened as a result, and that person would never make such a report again.  Then there was the day working in a public agency when I was sitting at my desk and suddenly became aware of one of the City’s Finest standing behind me. A co-worker had witnessed a client hitting a child and, slipping away from his desk, had gone to the administrator’s office and called the police. The mother had thought nothing of it at the time, but as the discussion progressed, it was revealed that she herself had been abused as a child and was now horrified to realize her own role in perpetuating the abuse.

So what did I actually witness in my class?  Was it abuse?  No.  It was playful, but meant to control the child’s behavior.  But why hit a child gently if they do not understand you can also hit hard? It was a pattern, and I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg without knowing how much was under the surface.

What was my own legal obligation?  This state has a law about “mandated reporters”, that is, people who are required by law to report any child abuse they witness or risk losing their jobs.  I don’t know if I am a mandated reporter, but probably not.  Children are technically not permitted in the classroom, so technically I never see children as part of my job. But there are all kinds of people running around that building who are definitely mandated reporters, and this mom would eventually run afoul of them if she didn’t figure out another way to manage her child. I could help my student understand American culture and law without appearing to make any value judgments.

A class discussion ensued where I tried to get a basic Spanish vocabulary to talk about what was going on.  What was the Spanish word for hit?  How do I explain “illegal”?  I could certainly explain the awkward situation it place me in to have something illegal go on in my classroom when children were not even permitted there in the first place.  The student had to leave early, so as she left I asked the other students to help think of ways to help her. The other students tell me hitting children is common in Mexican classrooms.  Mexican teachers will also pull the children’ hair.

But in my classroom, no one is going to hit any child, even symbolically.

Do Blondes Really Need Jay Leno?

I used to think I couldn’t get along without Jay Leno. When I returned from the Middle East in November of 2001, it was Leno’s monologue I watched every night to catch up with the current political jokes. At first it was “Where’s Osama Ben Hiding?” every night. Then with the Iraqi standoff, there was that hilarious fake game show with Saddam’s press secretary. I had everything timed exactly to catch Leno’s monologue then flip to Letterman in time to see the Top Ten List countdown. But since the Hollywood writers’ strike I haven’t watched much of late-night television.

romneyandblondes.jpgThe other night I tuned in to the Leno show again just to to see Mitt Romney’s guest appearance, and I was sorry I did. Mitt was asked no difficult questions and said nothing remarkable. But to fill time, Leno told a joke about someone who was stupid simply because they were blonde. To make it worse, the camera did a prolonged shot of someone blonde in the audience laughing politely, as if to make fun of them both for being blonde and for being polite. Apparently, blondes are not “us”. Blondes are “them”. And Leno has a psychological need to tell jokes that disparage people. Perhaps he needs to dig a hole under someone else to make himself look taller. Whatever.

I ask you, if Leno were to tell a joke about people with black skin being stupid, would that be acceptable? Or would people write in to tell him it wasn’t fair to blacks? That it would be damaging to little black children to try to make people think there was something wrong with being born black? Oh, you would hear from them all right, and from the parents of the children too. Jesse Jackson would start a boycott. Jay Leno would be lucky if he ever worked again.

leno1.jpgWell, if Leno can’t get away with trashing black people, maybe he can get away with trashing blonde people. Maybe Jay Leno thinks hate speech is acceptable as long as northern Europeans are the only target.

But you know, during the writers’ strike I discovered that I really don’t need to watch the Tonight Show anymore. I don’t even miss it. The best political humor is now on Saturday morning’s National Public Radio with “Wait, wait, don’t tell me.”

Clearly Leno has decided he doesn’t need blondes.

So tell me, why do I need Leno?

Posted in Media. 1 Comment »

Who won the Democratic Debate–Edwards, Obama, or Hillary?

I’m still looking at the transcripts for the January 21, 2008 Democratic debates on CNN. Who won–John Edwards, Barack Obama, or Hilary Clinton?

Here are the links to the transcripts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.

And here are the T-shirts:

a T-shirt for Hillary for President,

a T-shirt for Edwards for president,

and a T-shirt for Obama for president.


Obama Tee Edwards Tee Hillary Tee

It will be interesting to see which shirt is the most popular.  Right now the Edwards bumper sticker is ahead of everything else.

Posted in Election 2008, Merchandise, Obama, Products, T-shirts. Comments Off on Who won the Democratic Debate–Edwards, Obama, or Hillary?

Did Syria’s President al-Assad really eat with Israelis?

I’m still chuckling over a humorous piece in The Onion about the Mideast peace talks in Anapolis earlier this month, titled “Syria Attends Mideast Peace Talks For Free Continental Breakfast”. Perhaps The Onion‘s reporters, their reputations preceding them, weren’t permitted in the same press room with the mainstream press? Whatever happened, they did manage to get a couple shots of Syria president Bashar al-Assad.

syriasassad.jpgBut what is on the table in front of al-Assad in that formal conference portrait?

And why doesn’t al-Assad’s big plate of Danish rolls have a shadow? The table is highly polished, and everything else on the table, no matter how small, has a reflection.

Can you say “photoshop”?

Naughty, naughty Onion.

The Onion continued with their tongue-in-cheek explanation:

In Tehran, meanwhile, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was not invited to the talks, was highly critical of the summit, claiming that the European-style breakfast was indicative of a pro-Israel bias.

“It is quite obvious that the Annapolis summit will offer little real substance to those in attendance,” Ahmadinejad said. “The little single-serving boxes of cereal are not even sizable enough to constitute a real meal.”

Nevertheless, many within the State Department said they were encouraged to witness a number of delegates working together to clean up a cup of spilled coffee. At one point, the Israeli prime minister even offered to give up extra napkins to Syria’s president in order to stop the liquid from flowing over the side of the counter.

Funny stuff, but it made me stop and wonder–did all those people really eat together? The way I understand the Arab food symbolism, Arabs can have tea with anyone. This is an expected part of a meeting. An airing of opinions, as well as the hoped-for consensus, always takes place in the presence of those ubiquitous little tea glasses.

But food is a different matter. Eating with someone is a statement of acceptance, at least out in the boonies among the country people. I wonder how the diplomats interpret it. And if the Syrian entourage really did eat with the Israelis.

Posted in Arab culture, Middle East, peace, Syria. Comments Off on Did Syria’s President al-Assad really eat with Israelis?

Links for teachers of English as a second language

The following links have been recommended within the community college system:


Cultural Awareness

Mozaik Magazine explores racial and multicultural issues with its online magazine and extensive archives.

Comparing Cultural Differences: Mexico with Canada & the United States

Multicultural Pavilion–a detailed and thorough list of resources and links about varied cultures and the effect on education. This is mostly a K-212 resource, but the information is useful for adult classes.

Minority Literature/Multi-cultural Resources-Poems, stories and criticism from many cultures

Center for Multilingual, Multicultural Resources.This site is oriented especially toward adult education.

Culturegrams. these are four page summaries of history/culture for msot of the countries fo the world. Only a sample is online. The others need to be ordered.

Cultural differences: Are we really that different? a thought-provoking article from someone who has had genuine experience.

Working on Common Cross-Cultural Challenges. A summary of the major impact points in cross-cultural communication.

Professional Associations Related to Adult Education

(some have continuing education cpu’s)

Teachers of English to speakers of Other Languages. an international organization for ESL and EFL tachers at any level (K-12, adult ed, higher ed.), with state and local chapters throughout the world. anual converntion in the U.S. or Canada, other professional develop[ment activities, journals, materials, job bank for members and more.

Illinois TESOL-bilingual Education. The Illinois state affiliate of TESOL, for people involved with ESL or bilingual education at any level. Annual statewide convention, other professional development activities, newsletter, job bank on the web for ESL, adult educators and others.

Commission on Adult Basic Education. COABE. A national organiztion for adult educators. Annual convention, newsletter, and other professional development opportunities.

Illinois Adult and continuing Educators Association IACEA. Affiliated with AAACE; Illinois organization for anyone involved with adult education. Annual convention, legislative advocacy for adult ed.

American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. AAACE. An international organiztion for adult educators. Annual convention, journals, materials.

Adult Numeracy Network. ANN. A national organization for adult education math teachers. Annual convention, newsletter.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. NCTM. A national organization for math teachers at all levels. National and regional conventions, journals, materials and more.

Some ESL links for students

These website sites are recommended within the community colleges system for students of English as a second language. Companion site for English for All videos (vocabulary practice)

Posted in EFL, English as a Foreign Language, English as a Second Language, ESL. Comments Off on Some ESL links for students