Sunday, April 24, 2011

the fix….

I few months back, I went to see “Restrepo”, a documentary directed by Tim Hetherington.  Hetherington died last week in Libya, a casualty of the wars he covered, just like over 4000 plus soldiers since we decided it was our place to mediate all of the Middle East.

For those who have seen “Restrepo”, the feeling of helplessness can’t be overstated.  Why is it that we feel the need to fix these unfixable places with people whose best interests are not served by the fix?

I’m not sure what the answer is.  But, I do know this.  When somebody drops bombs on my home, threatens my livelihood, and then tries to call himself my friend, I’m skeptical, no matter how noble the cause.  And, that is the role we’ve chosen in Afghanistan.

Hetherington’s movie shows us the difficulty in fighting in such a place.  The enemy and the friend looks the same.  The enemy and the friend make deals for survival.  The enemy and the friend don’t want the war we’ve imposed on them.

He shows us how horrible the war is, and that the scars don’t need to be visible to be real.  He shows us that wars aren’t video games, but life and death realities whose outcomes aren’t about who’s right or wrong, but who’s in front of the bullet when it arrives.  And, in the end, it may be the survivor who’s most injured.

Survival there isn’t about what is right, but who will pay the most.  Does the Taliban have the better deal?  Does Al Qaeda offer cover?  Does the eradication of the poppy fields really mean a better life? 

The people of Afghanistan don’t have TVs, or understand the world situation.  They just want to survive from one day to the next.  The future is an esoteric argument, something to deal with tomorrow by thinkers, not survivors.

So, it is in that light that we fight.  We are just the next in line trying to fix this unfixable place.   And, eventually, we will leave, just like everyone else.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

a misunderstanding…..

I just read a blog of a friend of mine who saw “Waiting for Superman”.  For those of you who have not seen this movie, take the 90 minutes and take a look.

The basis of the movie is how our educational system is broken, the people out there trying to fix it, and running into the traditional roadblocks of unions and poor administration trying to protect their personal interests.

I’ve written several blogs about how I believe unions are bad for education, and really, most public jobs.  I don’t belong, nor would I ever belong to a union, not because I don’t believe in their validity, but because they would restrict my ability to earn to my potential.

I actually believe unions are in place because administrators are lazy, that administrators don’t want to do the hard work of evaluating their employees.  It’s easier to index everyone into one standard, no matter how different the output is.  Oversight is hard work.  And, this is the bargain we’ve made.

So, as I rail against unions, and more specifically teachers’ unions, it’s not about wanting to reduce the pay of teachers.  I don’t like that great and poor teachers are paid the same.  Where is the incentive to be excellent?  Why should that great teacher be paid the same as the poor teacher?  And, why are we even paying a poor teacher?

I’ve always felt that education should be about the kids, not job protection.  Yes, we need to be fair to the teacher, but the only way to do that is to treat them differently, not the same.  The good teacher should be paid more, much more. 

Maybe, with that system, we’ll draw better teachers, instead of people choosing an occupation because it has three months off in the summer with an almost lifetime guarantee, and retirement benefits before the age of 60.

We need to do better.

I’m baaaaaaack……

You might have noticed I’ve slowed down on blogging recently. 

On March 4, I left for a visit to Omaha, Nebraska for a meeting with a company called Hayneedle.  This was the first in what could be called a mega travel month. 

The following day I left for Los Angeles to do a photo shoot for four days, and then China for a week before I made my way to Tijuana, Mexico for a couple of days, then to Seattle for a couple of days, Chicago for a day, Salt Lake City for three days, High Point, North Carolina for five days, Boston for a day and Philadelphia for two days.  Needless to say, my suitcase got a workout. 

While in China, blogging and Facebook are not available, so I kind of get out of the habit.  By the time I was in Mexico, I was getting a little tired.  The time changes and sleep patterns change so much, it’s hard to figure out when to have my eyes open and when to have them closed.

By the time I got to Seattle, I was on autopilot.  That’s not a time for real creative or constructive thought.  My brain mostly thinks about how to get the easiest meal and find the most comfortable pillow, and to seem somewhat competent in my job.

And so it went, city after city.  But, now the crazy travel is over.

So, if you’ve noticed I haven’t visited your blog, I apologize.  I will return, and maybe you’ll be sorry about that.  I will try to sharpen my skills and challenge the thinking that I find so interesting out there in cyber world.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

justice evaded……

Edward Wayne Edwards

In 1980, Tim Hack and Kelly Drew attended a wedding in the town of Concord.  They were never seen alive again.

Decades passed before their killer was found, a now elderly, infirm man named Edward Edwards.  He was in a mood to clear his conscience of these killings, along with others he committed over the years.

He was found guilty in Jefferson County Court and was given life in prison, which in his condition, was little more than a parking ticket.  But, he wanted more.  He wanted to be executed.

So, he was extradited to Ohio, where he confessed to other killings, and where they have the death penalty.  He was found guilty on March 8 of these murders and was given the death penalty.

Edward Edwards died on Friday of natural causes, exactly one month after the conviction that would lead to his death.  So, even in dying, he managed to evade the justice he so rightly deserved.

I’ve never believed in wishing harm on others, or damning someone to Hell.  But, if anyone deserved it…..