Saturday, December 15, 2007
What's Going on?
It's high time I update this blog. Sorry for the delay. Not that anyone ever reads it, although I do get comments from students about it. Ah, yes, those Enloe students. I send them with great regularity to kandah.org to get their assignments, and they notice the lack of updates at the main page. So astute they are.
I recently completed the book The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, by the incomparable Robert Fisk. He's a correspondent for the British newspaper the Independent, and he's based in the Middle East and has been for many a year. Robert Fisk has been covering wars in the all the tormented regions of the Middle East for years, and his firsthand accounts of the atrocities and the politics and the bloodthirsty megalomania of the conflicts' main players are unsparing and without peer. The most astounding aspect of this dense and compelling book is the thread that winds its way throughout: the Western powers' zeal to control and manage the regions according to its own geopolitical goals has resulted time and again in failure. Nobody has been able to force the Arabs and Persians to bend completely to the will of the Western powers, and current attempts to forge new realities on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan through military means is yet another example of the failures of Anglo-American foreign policy folly. We in the West simply continually to repeat mistakes of the past. We support corrupt dictators, and when they begin to put the interest of the countrymen above that of the American interests, we work, either explicitly or covertly to undermine and take down the regime. It's depressing, this book is, but Americans need to know how bankrupt American foreign policy is the primary cause of the regions current political malaise.
I am working my way through a Pimsleur series of language CDs, namely, Eastern Arabic I. My familiarity with this particular dialect of Arabic is generally advanced, but I thought I could benefit from a more aural, formalized course of study in the language. The dialect offered in this particular series is closer to that spoken in say Damascus Syria than the one I would be more exposed to in Palestine, but I am skilled enough the appropriate lexical and pronunciation adjustments. I would recommend the series. Makes for decent listening on my 45 minute jaunt to work very morning.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Step Right up
The pictures in this section are ones I took at the Church of the Holy Sepulchure in Jerusalem. The massive edifice is a testament to the significance Jerusalem and its environs should hold for the Christians of the world. Let's hope that Israel's propaganda allies in the American Christian Church, mostly a conglomerate of ultra-rich, rabid right-wing Evangelical sects, step right up and condemn the restrictions imposed on their brothers in the future Palestinian state. Read the article:
Israel rescinds Arab Christian clergy travel rights in W. Bank - Haaretz - Israel News
Friday, September 21, 2007
Other things going on, oh, why not, I'll mention the new DVD I picked up, about my old friend Frank Zappa. Not a personal acquaintance, mind you, just his music and monstrous creative genius exacting my aesthetic tendencies. This particular media event profiles his two early-mid 1970s records, Apostrophe(`) and Overnite Sensation. Now, there is some fantastic music on both these records and I would recommend them to anyone interested into first-rate orchestral rock, but some indecent imagery on one song in particular makes the pair of classic recordings a mature person-only affair. And even that song is a funky, soulful masterpiece that presages the emergence of rap/hip-hop lyrical delivery styles by 5 or 6 years. The sheer musicianship is astounding, and it's a minor miracle that such proficient players took part in Frank's absurdist compositional sensibilities. So there, I recommend the Classic Albums Series documentary on Frank Zappa's twin outing, Overnite Sensation and Apostrophe(`) You can buy it direct from
Monday, September 3, 2007
New School Year, New School
After 14 years teaching German and a variety of other subjects at Southern Durham High School, I begin a new school year plying my trade at a new high school, Enloe High School, in Raleigh. I started last week, earlier than intended, and what an eye opener it has been. You must understand: I have only taught at one school, Southern High, and that was my yardstick of what a modern urban high-school was like. How they are run, how the students behave, the curriculum, athletics, and everything else, all these attributes of Southern's peculiar culture and evolution informed my view of high-school. So anything other than Southern was doomed to the inevitable comparisons.
Now I'll try to avoid the comparisons and say this: my years at Southern have been a rewarding and challenging experience of ups and downs and successes and frustrations, but on the whole, I made an impact there, and the school has made an impact on my psyche as well. I'll miss my colleagues in the Foreign Language Department, all of them, and the other teachers as well. I found them all to be a mostly caring and professional faculty, and I was honored to be a part of it all those crazy years. Southern had that reputation, but I ignored it mostly, and focused on how to keep the kids focused on higher learning. Difficult task at a school struggling with a history of low achievement and rising ruffian visibility. The kids there, despite their generally socially obtuse collective demeanor, are a deserving lot who need talented teachers just like any other group of teenagers in the Triangle's public high-schools. So Best Wishes, Southern High School! I'll see you at graduation.
My position at Enloe entails a day-long spell of teaching only German, and that I find thrilling and rewarding. No more Computer Programming, which had become at Southern a bit of a drag on me, for various reasons. Teaching at Enloe is really a dream gig for me, and I am going to run with it. The kids at Enloe seem eager and polite and positive, characters and individuals with a sense of humor and a sense of what a school's mission is. I am stoked about it. Go Eagles! Go Spartans! See ya!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
So here are some pictures of our family member Rosie the Beagle. She'll be missed.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Summer Nights, Starry Skies
The moon also shined bright that evening. I always like looking at our satellite with this modest scope of moon. The craters and mare are crisp through the viewfinder, and it always amazes me that an object so far away - 384,000 km - can appear with such stark detail in my head, in real time. It may seem mundane, peering at the moon, but it offers some spectacular vistas through any telescope. I offer you all some pictures of this stargazing session. Maybe one day soon I will get more ambitious and lug the telescope to a better viewing locale. But there is nothing like being able to step outside my back door and visit with the night sky, however limited my horizon might be.
Here is the moon taken with the same camera, with an exposure of 8 seconds and an f-stop of 2.8. An another, a close-up of Luna, for your enjoyment:
Thursday, July 19, 2007
It was 40 years ago this summer
I was a small child when the Summer of Love, 1967 took off San Francisco. So do I even have a right to mention it here? I wasn't really there? Well, of course I can mention it, because we all know this little old hippie movement had a huge impact on American culture. Rolling Stone Magazine this month covers the 1967 Summer of Love with a sweet collection of articles of not just San Francisco, but also London and New York and Los Angeles, other cities hosting highly creative musical and artistic movements. Detroit is profiled also, the Motor City, Motown, but it was also a major American city that erupted in racial violence and symbolized a darker reality of relations between black and white people in America.
So why not? How about a few Youtube videos of great cultural moments from 1967. It'll be a tribute to my upcoming trip to San Francisco, where I might experience some of the spirit of this age. By the way the mp3 Sample of the Day to your right should be digested. Within months of the eruption of the Summer of Love, Frank Zappa came out with a devastating musical critique of the youth movement of the late sixties. He voiced private concerns of the Sixties leaders themselves, and also public concerns and thoughts of the government leaders of the day. They mostly dismissed Flower Power as a wasteful youth movement that encouraged . . . . .brb
Jimi at Monterey
Detroit Race Riots
Frank Zappa at the Garrick Theatre, New York
Saturday, July 14, 2007
The Great War for Civilization
I am making my way through this terrific book, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East. It's a journalist's account, one by the great British journalist Robert Fisk. He's put himself in harm's way repeatedly to bring to us armchair diplomats and current event analyzers first hand accounts of history in the making. The man has covered the Middle East since the mid 1970s; he was there during the Iranian Revolution of 1980, the Lebanese Civil War, the Israeli invasions of Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, the bloody Iran-Iraq War, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the US coalition to oust him under President Bush, Sr., and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Robert Fisk has interviewed America's archenemy Osama bin Laden, and heard his threats on the West a few years before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US. This particular book is a fascinating travel documentary and war journal of these monumental events that have led America and her allies to the current predicament it now finds itself.
His prose is sometimes elegant, sometimes difficult, but the scenes he evokes are exactly what Americans need if they truly want to fathom the lives of the major players in the region. We can't make decisions in a vacuum without requisite background, and Mr. Fisk provides that all important background, and often it isn't easy to digest. He has heaps of criticism to throw on American, British, German, French and other rouge players who have worked to destabilize the region through amoral alliances with despots and dictators. Read this book; it's monumental.
Some links for you.
- Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 - from the Iran Chamber Society - not a bad overview of the war.
- Iran-Iraq War - from the Columbia Encyclopedia
- Map of the Iran Iraq War
- Iran-Iraq War and Waterway Claims
- Robert Fisk - Wikipedia Entry
- Articles by Robert Fisk from his current Newspaper, The Independent
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Cartoon Jazz and Electronic Travels
His music is a diabolical mixture of big-band jazz, frantic bebop, European chamber music and sounds from an immense variety of sources. I have a sound file to the right you can click to enjoy a Raymond Scott snippet. I'd recommend the Manhattan Research Inc. recording. It's a grand collection of chamber music performed on his ever growing collection of electronic sound generating equipment. The once CD that aided in his revival of sorts in the early 1990s was the record Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights, a compilation of his most well-known cartoon themes all done in a big-band jazz orchestra format.
Some Links on Raymond Scott
- Official Website of Raymond Scott
- Wikipedia Entry on Raymond Scott
- Video of the Raymond Scott Quintette - War Dance for Wooden Indians
- Amazon.Com Collection of his CDs
Other news: Southern's webserver underwent an unauthorized and unintentional erasure of ALL data. Backups were old but they did the trick.
Monday, June 25, 2007
My favorite time of the year has begun: summertime in North Carolina. Hot muggy nights with the windows open, the sound of insects and frogs a symphony. Hazy sunny days, high temperatures a green paradise. Nothing nicer than North Carolina in the summer.
A trip to Wrightsville Beach last weekend highlights a good beginning to this summer. The ocean was a welcome change of scenery. I always find trips to the ocean recuperative, and this time was no different: always good memories of trips to the ocean. And Wrightsville Beach's proximity to Chapel Hill makes it a prime destination for busy beach lovers.
No travel to the Middle East planned for the summer; the past couple of summer saw me in Ramallah visiting family and learning the ins and outs of doing business in the area. It's a troubled area these days, what with the Hamas victory in Gaza separating the Fatah-dominated West Bank from it and dashing hopes, temporarily probably, of a unified Palestinian State. I hope next year to return to Ramallah, like it or not. For the most part, I like it.
Have a good summer everyone. I'll try to kepe this page updated as the season moves forward. Peace.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Current Items of Interest
Poachers killed one of the two remaining white rhinos in Zambia this past week, on Monday. These magnificent animals ar ekilled for their horns. People in various parts of the world value these horns for medicinal purposes. Hogwash, for sure, these horns, whose composition is basically hair and skin. have no value in medicine. It's another example of supernatural thinking destroying our environment.
A Few Links
- Internation Rhino Foundation
- Arkiv - Images of Life on Earth - White Rhino Entry
- World Wildlife Fund - The White Rhino
- Victoria Falls - Southern Afirca Places
- Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe and Zambia
Bob Dylan wins a presitigious art award in Spain this past week. His career in music and society is most deserving of this recognition. In 2004, his entire lyrical ouevre was among many outstanding literary masters considered for the Nobel Prize for Literature. One day, Bobby Zimmerman may get it. If not, his contribution to world culture will always remain secure.
Gaza is spiralling to a bloody conclusion of its simmering civil war between Hamas loyalists and Fatah militiamen. It looks like Hamas has the upper hand, much to the gross disappointment of Israel and America most likely, who want to see the democratically-elected Hamas government fall. Hamas positions are unproductive to the peace process, to say the least, but the West should have given them a chance to find redeeming value in winning a popular election and therefore attempting to govern. Instead, American-led boycott of the government created widespread devastation of the Palestinian civil society and forced Hamas to dig in its heels to even more hardcore position points. Even while it struggled to find moderating streams of consciousness in its political program, Israeli and American pressure always led to them to radical things, specifically those Qassam rockets raining wildly on southern Israeli, with legendary inaccuracy.
To the right are Palestinians displaying near a Fatah police station in Gaza City yesterday during a demonstration of some sort.
So just a few things on my mind today.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Late May, 2007
A few updates to the webpage, nothing major, just the addition of a few favorite links to the right. These websites were removed temporarily, but now they return, allowing me easier access to news sources I need and enjoy. A personal website, if anything, allows you to manage the WWW to your liking, to keep things easy to access. By default, it's a window into someone's personality. In short, a website is whatever you want it to be.
Like for instance, a place to post a recent picture I took on the West Virginia turnpike, while travelling from Michigan with family members. I like the lush green background of the West Virginia hills, and thought I would share it here.
Or maybe even a short snippet from a current album I am listening to, one by the late great Frank Zappa, called Imaginary Diseases. It's a live recording of his Petit Wazoo band, a more streamlined version of the big band music he was experimenting with in the early 1970s, post-Flo and Eddie. Until I find a useful way of delivering this audio from blogger, I'll just give the link to the beginning 20 seconds of the DC Boogie from the Frank Zappa record, Imaginary Diseases.
The Educational Musings link to the right, Issues at Southern, needs an update and soon I'll prepare a final summative report of my time at Southern this past year. A good year it has been, and I intend to enjoy more good years at Southern.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Webacademy Year Wrapping up
The past year saw me teaching German online to a bunch of high-school students from around North Carolina, mostly Cumberland County. The Cumberland County Webacademy afforded me this opportunity to extend my German classrom outside the Durham area and into cyberspace for real-time, synchronous instruction. The students were great, the milieu of the Whiteboard and the chat window and the Microphone - yes I was speaking to them in real-time - was a milieu the kids understood. Ah, yes, Technology, the common language of the new generation. I hope to continue with this work next Fall in the newly constituted North Carolina Virtual Public School, which builds upon the successes of the Webacademy and creates a statewide umbrella for not just North Carolina students, but also for anyone around the world. Thanks, students, for an outstanding year of German online. Above to the left is a screenshot of last night's final Live Classroom Session. Get a taste of the CyberGerman, gone live!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Alternative News Sources
Saturday, May 19, 2007
"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered . . . But that's been a radical departure from all previous administration policies."He blasts the Iraq War, Middle East peacemaking, the environment, and even faith-based government initiatives, where he says
"The policy from the White House has been to allocate funds to religious institutions, even those that channel those funds exclusively to their own particular group of believers in a particular religion. As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one."
Read extracts from the President Carter interview at the Arkansas Democratic Gazette. There is an audio extract there also of these "fighting words."
Carter blasts Bush on his global impact - Yahoo! News
Sunday, May 13, 2007
on the Road to Jerusalem and the Holy City Itself
As promised, I offer another slideshow of original photos I took in the summer of 2005. These deal with the road trip to Jerusalem from Ramallah through the Kalandiya checkpoint, one of the hundreds Israel uses throughout the West Bank and into Jerusalem. Kalandiya has taken on a permanent status, with buildings and roads and gates erected there, and it has a generally more organized system to controlling the movement of peoples. In any case, Kalandiya remains an obstacle for most Palestinians. I went through it each time en route to the Holy City, and I never experienced any problem, other than delays.
So here it is, I hope you enjoy this slideshow of the Road to Jerusalem
Here is another presentation of these pictures: a webpage of thumbnails you can select at your leisure.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
A Short Slide Show of a trip to the West Bank, Ramallah Palestine
For the past two summers I had been spending a few weeks in Ramallah. I visit relatives, do some sightseeing, keep my parents and uncle company, live like the Arabs and Jews do, mainly. I feel right at home there, and traveling there with my brothers are highlights of my life. So in the coming weeks I'll post some slide shows like the one above of my travels to that tense yet beautiful part of the world. You can call these series of slide shows a commemoration and remembrance, because this summer I am staying put stateside, barring any emergencies.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Detroit Tigers in First Place!
Yes, I follow some baseball. It's a baseball renaissance for me. I am revisiting a totem of my childhood, when in the Detroit suburbs we enjoyed tons of pro baseball at Tiger Stadium downtown. Some great memories, following the classic team through ups and downs. They are a on a peak now. Last year they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, but the Tigers got there in great dramatic style, and they deserve to be called a great team.
And now they are rocking. Too bad I don't get to see them that much down here. But their website remains the definitive online spot for Tiger News.
They are now in first place in the AL Central division, ahead of Cleveland by half a game!
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Walmart Teacher of the Year?
Go to page 54 of this *.pdf file to see my name listed there.
Now, I was pleased by this recognition, what teacher wouldn't be. I set aside my personal feelings about the Walmart experience, something I do not regularly indulge in, and accepted the award graciously. I thought briefly: now, did I share my views on Walmart with this group of kids, like I have with other groups in the past, the big mouth that I can be? I was hoping that no cheeky student of mine would blurt out something like, "Hey, Mr. Kandah, I thought you don't like Walmart?" in front of the Walmart reps and my principals. Walmart supports education, and I applaud that. With the profits they rake in every year they can afford to support local education, and that's fantastic corporate citizenship.
So apparently, there were a few recommendations made on my behalf at this Walmart, enough for them to take notice and sport me a $100 Walmart gift card and a $1000 check to the school. But I don't even shop at Walmart! I will now; I'll get school supplies for student projects. My next step: make sure the $1000 check is spent on Foreign Language supplies!
Thank you Walmart, and those parents and students who nominated me. It is great to make an impact on America's youth.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Early May 2007
I posted something at my education issues blog, something mostly on the current composition of my German 1 class this semester. Some general observations, nothing major. A fellow teacher remarked how blogs are silly little vanity things, and she asked why anyone would want to pour their hearts out to anonymous cybernauts everywhere. I told her in my case, and everyone has a case, I just do this to consolidate my thoughts, my idea matrices. Since I am a public high school teacher, it makes sense for my community to get insights into my thinking doesn't it?
My wife also looked at kandah.org and remarked how there are few pictures, too much reading. A common complaint by todays gee-whiz / cheese whiz generation, people who need to be titilated at every turn. So to that end I offer up a picture of the sombrero galaxy as seen through various filters.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Another Find in the kandah.org vaults
And another website I just dug up, one I wrote for the legendary Survival Study Skills class I taught for a spell at Southern Durham High School. This one dates back to 1999 or as. There is a resource page on India linked there, one of dozens I created for my websites.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Archives and Diversions
It exists as a record of my initial ideas of teaching and the development of these ideas as I struggled and sallied forth as an educator. There is a link there to a few writings of mine, things I prepared for some education courses at UNC - Greensboro in the mid 1990s, and my master's thesis, which I defended in April of 1995. Interesting cultural artifacts, I might say. I enjoyed reading again a paper I wrote called Towards an Appreciation of the Neurobiological Basis for Speech Acquisition and one about herpes virus infection and pregnancy. Enjoy.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
For instance, this past Saturday, I went to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools job fair. That's always an experience for an educator like myself teaching in eastern Durham County. All in all, a decent morning among fine teachers and administrators.
I have been writing a bit about blogging and its uses in the secondary classroom. Blogging indeed is a vital medium.
Very glad to see my good friend and fellow educator, Chalice Yehling, has revived his classic Cyberlatin program of Study at Middle Creek High School, where he now teaches. Cyberlatin Lives!
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
More News on Blogging in Education
It is interesting also that this woman's district (she is a principal of a high school) has asked her to put a disclaimer on her. Should I? I certainly have before. I am associated with Durham Public Schools currently, so here is my disclaimer: the views expressed here and on associated blogs written and maintained by me are solely my own and do not represent the views of my employer. This article is worth a read. And edublogs.org is where I will experiment next with my great blogging journey.
Administrators Who Blog
Monday, April 16, 2007
The Blog in Educational Circles
EdBlogger Praxis Find Examples of Educator Blogs Online
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Current Books I am Tackling
The Three Pound Enigma - The Human Brain and the Quest to Unlock Its Mysteries, by Shannon Moffett. The author is a medical student and a writer, and her book focuses mightily on consciousness and how it relates to the physiological properties of the brain. Visit her website, linked above, to learn more about her book and the themes she explores.
The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, by Rashid Khalidi, Professor of Arab Studies and Chair of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. Another book about the seemingly intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Professor Khalidi attempts to illuminate the reasons why the Palestinians were never able to cement their own state in the land of their birth, starting from the Ottoman Period up to the present time.
The Great War for Civilisation; The Conquest of the Middle East, by Robert Fisk, journalist for the British newspaper, The Independent. Mr. Fisk is one of my favorite writers, and his long experience in the Middle East as a journalist gives his first hand accounts of the major events of that troubled region an intense poignancy and relevance. It is a massive tome, this book, but no doubt it will be well worth the read, as is most everything he writes about the Middle East.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Welcome to the Newest Incarnation of kandah.org
The hope in this frame of kandah.org is to focus on Internet news and links pertaining to the state public education in this country, and also collect website links that I regularly visit to keep enlightened on issues that interest me.
Thanks for visiting.