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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Review of "Year Zero"

Year ZeroYear Zero by Rob Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was quite a ride, but a bit of a let down at the end.

The premise of the novel is that humans have a particular talent in music that other beings in the universe do not possess, and when pop music radio and television was discovered by the billions of beings in other galaxies, they began to, illegally by our standards, download our music. Thus the conflict, all of those downloads created an enormous debt that some in the far off ether want to cancel by destroying Earth and all its inhabitants.

Basically, the book is a satire of our culture. The books protagonist, the man who holds in his hands the fate of all humanity is; the horror, the horror; a lawyer whose firm specializes in music copy write law. The book's spoofing only begins with lawyers and their trade. Reid sets his sights on pop music, reality television, video gaming, stereo equipment, unions (both the good and the bad), cab drivers (both the good and the bad), record executives, and, did I mention lawyers?

The writing style reminded me of Douglas Adams "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", filled with fast paced changes in characters, settings, and situations along with nonsensical conflicts and even more nonsensical resolutions.

I felt that the novel's resolution was a bit of a let down taking place as it does in a courtroom located in a galaxy far, far away. However, this is in keeping with a novel that is centered mainly on the absurdities the law creates mainly for the profit of lawyers.

By the way, did you know that Paul McCartney is going to live to be 164?

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OCTOPODICON 2012

I attended Octopodicon 2012 at the Magnuson Hotel in Oklahoma City. I met many great people, got some ideas for my school's Steampunk Reading Club, and enjoyed myself.

Here are pictures of some of those attending.


I asked him if he knew any songs from "The Mikado." He didn't.




From the Metropolitan Public Library. She is displaying a book my  school's Steampunk Reading Club will be reading next, "The Steampunk Anthology."




Two young Steampunkers

Captured but uncowed!



I warned her not to fly to close to the sun.

Trying to navigate a course with a flying machine.
A fencing demonstration

This is "Copper Claw," a Steampunk performance group. Her name is Ay-Leen the Peacemaker.  I didn't get his.

Leanna Renee Heiber I plan to get her book as a possible Steampunk reading. Very intelligent person.

The Old West is a popular Steampunk theme.

Kind of a spooky outfit.

Toymaker


I believe they have a shop named "Otherwhen Oddities" www.otherwhen.net
Please correct me if I'm wrong.

His name is Montague Jacques Fromage, the entrepreneur of the SteampunFunk Bizarre. www.steampunkfunkbizarre.com


Pirate in jail awaiting bail
Another jail bird. This was to raise money for a charity.
I told those whose pictures I took about my blog. I should have gotten more names, so if anyone wants to give me a name for the pictures, I would be grateful.

Had a GREAT time!
(Recently the members of the AFT-OKC voted to reject the contract that the union leadership negotiated with the district administration.  The union went back to the administration and asked to reopen negotiations, which the administration rejected.  There will be a second vote by the membership. This will be on whether or not we choose to go to impasse, which is a long process and will delay ratification until next year sometime.
The union sent out a flyer urging members to reject impasses and to accept the negotiated agreement as it was first presented.  
I recently resigned as Executive VP of the union because I felt the union leadership has been very neglectful of our membership. This was my response to their flyer calling for us to accept the agreement.
We really only have ourselves to blame for having lost the vote on the contract. 
I include myself in this because until recently, I was a part of this whole mess.
We have approved worse contracts than this, but the perception among the members is that we have not been on their side during the changes going on in the district.
We have not spoken out against those who have blamed the teachers for the perceived failures in the schools. In fact, several statements Ed has made have given the impression that we agree with those who believe that by firing teachers, we will somehow transform the culture in our schools, much of which is beyond our control.
These are forces involved with poverty, racism, neglect of the problems brought on by these forces and a host of other ills.
We have neglected this because we did not want to be perceived as giving excuses rather than solutions.
We could have been working for reforms while we were pointing out that simply firing teachers will not bring the sort of systemic change that is needed to truly and permanently turn our schools around.
This sort of change seems to be happening in places like Harlem, but we have never brought this up to my knowledge, and certainly not to the knowledge of those who voted down the contract.
Now, we are on the verge of losing this union.  Even if those showing up vote to reject impasse, as you urge, those hundreds of members who feel abandoned by their union will be tempted to "vote with their feet" out of the union.
This could have been avoided had we played it smarter, had we talked about the need for real change in our community.
We brought this on ourselves. I want no further part of it.  I will vote to go to impasse and urge others to do the same.