Fishing in the Sea of Life
This is a fish story. No, this is not a story about the one that got away or the one you took home for supper last night. This is a story about some of the fish that swim in the "sea of life" and some of the people who champion them. There are the "halo fish," "political fish," "tax fish," "doomsday fish" and "reality fish."
"Halo fish," supported by the Michael Oleskers of the world, aimlessly splash around in their school trying to hold their halo high for all to see. The tremendous energy they expend, constantly adjusting their halos, trying to convince everyone to believe what they espouse. This causes them to develop deformed spines and they swim so erratically that they become known as "dodger fish."
"Political fish" happily swim in their school, willing to do or say anything to get re-elected, thereby maintaining the status quo, enabling them to collect their perks and steal more for their retirement.
"Political" fish are also known as "liar fish." They sometimes dodge military drafts, traffic tickets and restaurant bills by issuing overdrafts that they ignore or deny that they wrote.
"Tax fish" are the constant companions of the "political fish" and they always support them by their Sun polls, editorials, commentaries and other means so as not to upset the apple cart.
The "reality fish," usually supported by the silent majority, drive the above named fish into the school of "doomsday fish," where they are destined to finish their lives not knowing that the death switch has already been thrown, but they just haven't received the fatal dose.
An article in The Sun about the city's economic problems struck a real nerve.
An incident in Fells Point on a recent Saturday makes it difficult for me to have any sympathy.
As a resident of Columbia, my wife and I decided to have dinner in Fells Point after a theater matinee because we had not been there for several years.
After a long search, I finally found a parking space in a legal spot but a sign covered the parking meter and stated the meter was jammed. I considered this to be a lucky break and parked.
After a very enjoyable dinner, imagine my disgust when I found a ticket on my car with the notation that it is illegal to park in a spot with a defective meter.
I asked two nearby city policemen about the law. They said they had never heard of it and suggested I "fight it." I don't intend to ask for a trial because the cost of time off the job and parking downtown would be more than the $17 fine.
But I am at a loss to understand the logic of such a law.
The city is not losing any revenue because the meter would not accept coins.
And it's certainly not my fault that the meter would not work.
If the city is interested in attracting suburbanites for an evening's entertainment, it sure is going about it a strange way.
As a teacher in a public school, I have just completed five totally unrewarding and frustrating days administering the Maryland School Assessment Program testing instruments. If I am frustrated, the frustration level of the children must be tenfold.
One of the first things we as teachers are told is not to require children to stay put for long periods of time, and yet testing times are in segments of over 60 minutes. The children get tired and extremely bored. They bang down their pencils and quit or give a half-hearted effort at best.
Somehow, this does not strike me as a fair testing practice but then I haven't heard too many real people call this assessment fair, equitable or useful.
To add insult to injury, those who must administer the test are asked to do so with little or no knowledge of how best to do so. Test givers are distributed materials 10 minutes before testing and expected to do the job well. Sort of like putting a neophyte in the cockpit of a Boeing 747 jet and saying "you're flying this plane out of here in 10 minutes."
The cost of this test, especially in these times of recession, is frivolous. Children do not need to be tested to distraction in order to improve. They need sensible programs, well prepared people in the schools and -- sorry, America -- discipline.
The Stadium and Its Fans
Congratulations to Baltimore for Oriole Park at Camden Yards. What a magnificent example of architecture for the people it is, with its promenade in front of the ballpark, its spacious walkways and seating inside, and its great views.
How pleasant it is to go to a ball game and then, afterward, to be able to stroll through downtown Baltimore and enjoy its restaurants, bars and shops. I intend to do it often.
This "people place" and its related developments, such as the light rail line, restore faith in the idea that the downtowns of our cities can be vibrant, stimulating and fun places to visit.
Alfred S. Sharlip