Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Dollar a Day, and Other Observations About Ducey's Education Funding Proposal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 2:39 PM

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Governor Ducey surprised me by proposing $114 million in new education funds for the upcoming state budget. That's $90 million more than I expected. According to Senator Steve Farley (D-Tucson), most of that comes from highway funds. Meaning, to paraphrase It's A Wonderful Life, every time a school bell rings, a roadway gets a pothole.

More than $100 million for education isn't nothing. It's not nearly enough (It moves us from 49th in per student spending all the way to . . . 49th), but it's a significant amount of money. Unlike last year when Ducey called money covering the increase in the number of students and inflation "new money"—that was a lie—this time, it's actually new money, above and beyond the required stay-even funding. We need to remember, however, this is only a proposed budget. The legislature passes the budget, not the governor. It's going to take some gubernatorial arm twisting to get the anti-"government schools" crowd to vote for all that new money. Don't be surprised if the final education budget comes in quite a bit lower. I hope no one is taking Ducey's money to the bank yet.

Let's take a look at how Ducey wants his proposed education funding to be spent.

His proposed teacher pay hike gets the most buzz, but it's only $13.6 million, compared to almost three times as much—$38 million—for "results-based funding." The pay raise comes to about a dollar a day, which is more of an insult to teachers than a pat on the back. It's wealthy, Cold Stone Stone Cold Doug Ducey saying, "Here's a crisp new dollar bill for each of you for the great work you're doing!" I hope he doesn't expect current teachers to go out of their way to thank him, or prospective new employees to flood school districts begging for one o' them high payin' teachin' jobs. Saying "I raised teacher salaries" makes for a great campaign pitch come reelection time, but a dollar a day doesn't put food on a teacher's table.

That $38 million for "results-based funding," on the other hand, is real money for those lucky schools that get a chunk of it. It's a third of Ducey's new money, and it will go to 10 percent of Arizona's schools. That comes to an average of more than $350 per student for each of the recipients, which is more than the $325 per student schools received from the Prop 123 money. All his other proposals are small ball stuff, but this one can have some big league consequences. It's enough for the schools to increase and improve their teaching supplies and technology and still have money left for significant teacher raises, all of which will make those schools more attractive to parents and teachers. And most of it will go to districts and charter schools educating the most privileged students. The main educational beneficiaries will be the current winners in the state's income inequality wars. To the victors go the "results-based funding" spoils.

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Lando Chill Drops Latest Vid ('Early in the Morning') And it's Lovely, and it Kicks Ass.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 12:54 PM

Lando Chill's latest video is a sweet and temperate tour of Northern Arizona (Winslow, Flagstaff, and Kaibab National Forest), full of lover's joy (Chill and Laísa Laiia), without any dreaded maudlin overtones. The tune and video each effortlessly balance gentle flow and wide-eyed optimism for a deep appreciation of being alive, and unalone. Kudos to directors Malcolm Critcher and Symeon Platts for capturing the beauty. Also, it's a nice respite from the upcoming presidential inauguration where that old orange-pigmented mook gets his hideous day.  


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The Fake News Frenzy

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 10:50 AM

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The most recent presidential campaign has reignited many Americans' Facebook rants about "journalism these days," and how it's all turned into a biased, money-centered propaganda machine. No one could log into Facebook during the run up to the election without reading one or more lofty diatribes on why the candidate they support will be the next Messiah and how "the media" has a merciless vendetta against him or her.

Yes, news organizations all across the country missed an important mark while covering the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump by writing that Trump's victory was a "shock." I'd bet good money that many hard-core Trump supporters didn't share that same sentiment, so why was it spreading like wildfire in election night coverage?

Regardless, a generalized hatred for media coverage is unjustified. After all, journalists are the ones who maintain your Fourth Estate and are ultimately the glue that keep your democracy intact. I recently saw a tweet by Sarah Jeong, a contributing editor to the online publication Motherboard, that said, "Audiences say 'journalism' when they liked it and 'media' when they don't," which in my experience so far could not be more accurate. Journalists are undoubtedly a public pain in the derriere, but we're also an undoubtedly necessary one.
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As a budding journalist myself, I have seen these rants by my own peers and have taken them personally at times—even if it was aimed at a national outlet. While my youthful idealism is still somewhat intact (but diminishes a little more with every passing semester), I am not naive enough to deny that poorly-written and completely false reporting is still out there. It's out there more often than it should be.

The most recent outrage over the unvetted Russian dossier is a particularly painful controversy for those of us trying to save the reputation of reliable reporting. However, the overwhelming majority of news and journalism in the world is still fair and truthful, and it's a shame that the hysteria over fake news gets more spotlight time than the incredible, breakthrough work that reporters kill themselves for and sacrifice personal time and sleep for every single day.

For all the readers out there, I humbly ask you to hear my takeaway plea: keep an open mind about journalism and the news industry. Sure, it has flaws, but every other industry does too. How can the world expect improvements in our field if you don't even give us up-and-comers a chance to prove you wrong?

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Cinema Clips: Paterson

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 9:04 AM


Adam Driver plays the title character in writer-director Jim Jarmusch’s latest, a bus driver with a penchant for poetry.

His name is Paterson, he lives in Paterson, New Jersey, and he sets his folded clothes out every night so he’s good to go in the morning. His wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) aspires to be a country music singer, eagerly awaiting a new guitar the couple can barely afford (Also, it must be noted that she can’t play guitar).

The film offers no substantial plot; it’s simply a snapshot of a normal, pleasant life being led by two people who aspire to create art in their spare time. Jarmusch always does well with these sort of observational stories, and this is no exception.

Driver is terrific here, capping a great year that included Midnight Special and a great performance in the muddled Silence. It’s a funny, sweet performance without him really trying to be funny or sweet. The big events in this movie consist of Paterson taking his bulldog for a walk or meeting a fellow young poet who makes him feel insubstantial.

If you love Jarmusch, you will love this movie.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Song of the Day: 'St. James Infirmary' by Allen Toussaint

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 5:09 PM

The first thing you do when you hear the late great Allen Toussant’s take "St. James Infirmary" is at the first imprint of sound consider the amount of times this anonymous standard has been recorded, much less played in a dormant piano bar by a pair of hands that feel its languishing generosity. 
Allen Toussaint on stage at the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans, 2009 - MARIE CARIANNA
  • Marie Carianna
  • Allen Toussaint on stage at the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans, 2009

And now, the slow tap dance is moving with a handclap and you’re inside of it: the restrained piano that fingers the keys, then loves them in full honor of both song and instrument, trading space with the acoustic guitar, and bending the strings with such passion where not one note is wasted, nor a single lyric sung, free of his classic horn charts that through the decades made so many seminal albums great. Here on the Bright Mississippi, released well after Katrina, in 2009, the river that gives and takes equally from its people. A land that could only raise an artistry, in all things beautiful and impoverished, this, the majesty of Louisiana, and of Allen Toussaint.


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Laughing Stock: Safe Space for Dirty Comedy

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 11:00 AM

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“Safe Space Comedy” is a newish thing in U.S. comedy clubs. By proclaiming “safe space comedy,” a club or event hopes to assure women that they can enjoy a trigger-free show without fear of harassment. The idea originated from high-profile harassment complaints in revered Los Angeles and Chicago improv theatres. Recent growth in the trend responds to Donald Trump’s very open misogyny. His vulgarity likely will encourage others to abandon whatever sensitivity they’ve portrayed during the Obamian years of arguable comity. Women now anticipate being demeaned on the regular, and not just emotionally.

For good or ill “dirty comedy” has enjoyed a long history of popularity. It has traditionally evoked laughs at the expense of, not only women and relationships, but also every flavor of what we’ve called “diversity” in recent years. Gary Hood, for years a godfather to Tucson standup, but a victim 2016’s relentless death march, is often imitated for the way he asked, “Clean or dirty?” Doug Stanhope, a national comedian out of Bisbee, boasts a large following for some apparently drunken, slothful and often filthy sets. Your humble scribe first laughed to the raunch of Red Foxx records her sophomore-year best friend sometimes brought over from her brother’s collection. Two new open mics could let Tucson comedy fans have it both ways. Mo Urban, who co-hosts the popular Comedy at the Wench series, has launched a new open mic at the early-for-comedy-hour of 6:30 p.m., the third Wednesday of every month. It’s at Café Passe, 415 N. Fourth Ave. A social worker who’s been outspoken about comedy offensive to women, she says “I have not defined the space, but I think it’s been safe because people know me.”

Meanwhile, Tucson comedy regular “Jose Joey G,” who first presented comedy at the Screening Room, now promises what he calls a “safe space” for “dirty” comedy at The Mint Cocktails, 3540 E. Grant Road. Having taken heat from some women comics after a routine based on one of Donald Trump’s more egregious quotes, he says he wanted to create an open mic where audience members might be less likely to harass comedians about objectification and insensitive references to body parts. The Mint, which opens 10 a.m., daily, is said to be Tucson’s second-oldest dive bar (after the Buffet). It features male and female burlesque performers on weekends. A permanent comedy schedule hasn’t jelled yet; follow The Mint on Facebook for calendar info.

Delores Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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Hi, I'm Delores!

I'm a pretty 3.5-year-old mama dog and I need a home. I was found as a stray so the Humane Society of Southern Arizona doesn't know a lot about my history. They do know that I love other dogs and I love to run!

I'm part of the Jog-A-Dog program so I get to go on an extra long run with volunteers and it's my favorite part of the day! I'm looking for a home where I can get daily exercise, play time and maybe a doggy friend to hang out with!

I need a home, but if you aren't looking to adopt you can still help homeless pets like me by donating to HSSA's fund to build a new home!

They are asking people like you to help them raise 3 million dollars! Click here for more information about the new shelter and how you can help today!

If you want to give me a home give HSSA a call at 520-327-6088 ext. 173 for more information!

Lots of love,
Delores (836517)

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Hidden Figures: A Captivating Story of Incredible Women

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 8:46 AM


Katherine Johnson, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the last century—and still going at age 98—gets the movie she deserves with Hidden Figures, an entertaining, enlightening and educational look at the contributions of her and her cohorts to NASA and space flight in the late 1950s and after.

Johnson was part of a segregated division at NASA in the ’50s, a wing of mathematicians who did the work that actual computers do today. The movie depicts the humiliation she and two other historical African American figures, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, went through while solving equations that helped put men safely into space and return them to their families.

The women had to put up with a lot of racist bullshit on their way to, during and after work, and the film shows their hardships, albeit in PG fashion. There was a stretch where Johnson was making monumental calculations for the likes of Alan Shepard, yet she wasn’t allowed to use bathrooms in her building or drink from the same coffee pot as her white counterparts.

Taraji P. Henson plays Johnson, the “smart one” astronaut John Glenn personally demanded check the coordinates before his historical flight launched. Henson is perfection in the role, depicting Johnson as the super awesome nerd she is. She has a scene where she takes her fellow mathematicians at NASA to task for their racist ways, and it’s a stunner. Henson gives the film, and Johnson, the true sense of majesty they deserve.

Octavia Spencer is her usual great self as Vaughan, doing the work of a supervisor without the title and curious about that new IBM thing they just installed down the hall. Vaughan would become crucial to the implementation of computers at NASA, as well as being the agency’s first African American supervisor.

As Jackson, NASA’s first female African American aeronautical engineer, singer Janelle Monae is so good, it’s easy to forget that this is just her second movie role. (She was also excellent in 2016’s Moonlight.) Monae acts with the confidence of somebody who has been at it for decades, not a single year. She is undoubtedly one of cinema’s great 2016 discoveries.

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Bernadette Peters

One of Broadway's brightest stars, Bernadette Peters has dazzled audiences and critics with her performances on stage… More

@ UA Centennial Hall Sat., Jan. 21, 8 p.m. 1020 E. University Blvd.

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