Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 28, 2011

Mark Irons: “Oh the humanity!”

Filed under: Alameda, Guest blogging — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

We all know that infamous cry from the newsreel footage on the fateful day when the Hindenburg suddenly burst into flames and was, within seconds, reduced to a heap of glowing embers. Lately, in thinking about our fair ship of state in Alameda, I’ve gotten that image and cry stuck in my head, and intuitively I’ve been grasping for analogies. Alameda always has enough public opinion to fill such a gasbag. Even though for years the hydrogen was thought to be the culprit in the disaster, the thin skin covering its frame has become suspect as a key component, it’s coating possibly causing flame to viciously rip across the air ship. That too might be applicable. The actual spark or ignition remains unknown and so is a missing link in the analogy, but thankfully we haven’t reached that step anyway. There were however, immediate sabotage theories, so if Alameda finally does go down in flames the Hindenburg analogy may continue to be useful.

Lauren offered me this guest slot weeks ago and I’ve toyed with lots of ideas, but ultimately I’ve felt so emotionally rung out after two parcel tax campaigns, one general election, investigations, firings, hirings, and human tragedies, that I’m left with this feeble analogy as a means to humor myself.

Not everybody who posts comments on this blog considers it a privilege, which is particularly ironic since some of the biggest detractors of the blog make the most hay and use the platform for leverage they couldn’t provide for themselves, which speaks volumes top their character. I consider it a privilege to have the platform to begin with, and more so to get to guest blog so let me try not to waste it.

One night I was channel surfing while flipping blog ideas in my head, when I ran across an old documentary on Simon and Garfunkel. In discussing how they felt about their art, it’s impact and purpose, Art Garfunkel said he thought that our inner selves are always following an impulse to merge with the rest of humanity. He described his art as an attempt to do that, but said that many human interactions though they often seem to fight against humanity really at their core stem from the same impulse to merge with it. No matter how combative or misdirected that somewhere we all want to be one with something larger than ourselves. Oh…. I thought, the humanity. Then they played Bridge Over Troubled Water.

As a commenter some of my most strident and combative posts have been about education and that is for a number of reasons. On the one hand I squandered many opportunities to be better educated so I have come late to a special appreciation for the process. Second, as mentioned many times, my spouse has dedicated herself to the honorable profession for over a dozen years, and though I know first hand her dedication and that of her colleagues, in many regards they continue to be disrespected for their efforts.

My wife Ann has been so engrossed in grading final term papers the last couple weeks that she was barely aware of Weinergate, or that ding dong Palin’s gaffs about Paul Revere “shootin’ those shots and ringin’ those bells”. And frankly she couldn’t really care less, though she managed to follow some of the more critical news like the Syria uprising. But she also gave the faculty speech at Alameda High senior commencement Friday. Because of my cynicism, I have at times ribbed this woman for being what I consider Pollyannaish, but that’s doubly unfair because she is the better half of this union when it comes to attitude. Anyhow, Ann has never read one word of any blog nor posted a comment as far as I know, but I wanted to take this opportunity to give her a wider audience by posting the commencement speech here.

Mark Irons never shies away from stating his opinion on-line, but would much rather spar with you in person over a cup of coffee.



  1. Yawn…Based on that I would say eliminate the “faculty” speech….the only thing missing was “Dust in the Wind” playing in the background.

    Comment by Make it go away — June 28, 2011 @ 7:08 am

  2. “No matter how combative or misdirected that somewhere we all want to be one with something larger than ourselves.”

    Comment by playing in the background — June 28, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  3. Thanks for posting this, Mark. I am a big fan of Ann and was glad to have the opportunity to see her speech.

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 28, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  4. I love the irony of seeing Susan’s name connected with anything to do with humanity. Apparently those who can’t do, teach.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — June 28, 2011 @ 10:23 am

  5. So nice to hear from you Adam, now get back under that rock.

    Comment by John P. — June 28, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  6. And apparently those who can’t do or teach just attack.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — June 28, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  7. “I consider it a privilege to have the platform to begin with, and more so to get to guest blog so let me try not to waste it.”

    Comment by John — June 28, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  8. John, I think it is time for you to go away…..You have become so annoying that even if you were to make a good point no one listen. Honestly, when you first started posting I would read what you had to say and now I just skip over it.

    Comment by J.E.A. — June 28, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

  9. Adam, do you ever have anything positive to say? Your statements and responses to almost everything that goes on in Alameda is what in Samuel Johnson’s dictionary are what is referred to as pervicacious — one who is spitefully obstinate; peevishly contumacious. Once in a while you might try on some of Susan’s humanity.

    Comment by Richard Hausman — June 28, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  10. The rain today is lovely.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — June 28, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  11. Very nice, Adam. A very good first step!

    Comment by Richard Hausman — June 28, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  12. J.E.A.

    M. I. has turned that B 25 spicket on full blast on me since the day I tried to post on here. I thought you wanted to see his video blog.

    I try and use a little humor to survive this jungle and try and learn something about what others in City are saying versus the paid mouth pieces for alot of so called “Good of The Community” entourage. Lighten up a little JEA Groove Tube was pretty funny satire and some great clips.

    Comment by John — June 28, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

  13. Enjoyed reading your wife’s speech. Nice inspirational pause in the day. Thank you and thank her.

    Comment by Catherine — June 28, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  14. So John, Adam would really like it if you would do some of your mile long comments on his famous yet unused site. You can do 5 or 6 comments in a row and not even bore people. I agree with you JEA its time to go John.

    Comment by John P. — June 28, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  15. 9: Richard used a word above – pervicacious – that I had never seen before. I looked it up and found this in the online Merriam-Webster Thesaurus:

    Entry Word: pervicacious
    Function: adjective
    Text: Synonyms OBSTINATE, bullheaded, closed-minded, deaf, headstrong, incompliant, mulish, pertinacious, self-willed, ||sot

    Thanks for an intriguing word, Richard!

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 28, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  16. Hindenburg? . . . Analogy? . . . As an Aviation Safety Specialist (U.S. Naval Post Graduate School Monterey 1986) I would have described the Hindenburn incident as a disaster (fire, deaths, crash, Chapter 11 for Hindenburg Airlines, etc) . . . What is the Hindenburg disaster analogus to? . . . Public education at Alameda High? . . . Graduation? . . . Having to get a job? . . . Having to do your own laundry? . . . Prolix speeches? . . . Overpaying Educrats? . . . Losing the Big Game? . . . No more free movies in class? . . . Someone throw me a bone here . . . Nuance is lost on me . . . Jeff

    Comment by Jeffrey R Smith — June 29, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  17. Isn’t Hausman the wag who coined the term “Silicon Island” to (not) describe Alameda?

    Comment by not mayberry — June 29, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  18. Oh Jeff, you are so erudite, anything you say is lost on all of humanity. We wait with bated breath for to be graced with more wisdom from that sage Uncle Cuspus.

    Comment by M.I. — June 29, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  19. “Mark Irons never shies away from stating his opinion on-line, but would much rather spar with you in person over a cup of coffee.”

    Jeff. Enjoy your Cup of Coffee.

    Comment by John — June 29, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

  20. Thank goodness you’ve given some other options! And all this time I thought he was drawing an analolgy with the Hindenburg at the beginning and the speech at the end.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 29, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  21. 27. With all your antics you have a lot of balls to complain about getting a little resistance from me. With “miniscule intelligence”, I’m just not smart enough to ignore you like everybody else. By the way Chief, how’s that volunteer fire company project coming ?

    Comment by M.I. — June 29, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  22. B25

    When everyone figures it out that these Pensions and Benefits for life for the Fireman are Costing the Alameda Citizens about 2,500,000 for someone retiring at 50 and getting 75K Annual Retirement. Most will be getting alot more.

    Price an Annuity with that same sceanario and you will see where we are at.

    Or about 5 or 6 Houses in Alameda Completely Paid For.

    Those Making 150K + annual retirement with full benefits around 4,500,000

    Or about 10 Houses fully paid for in Alameda on Average.

    Keep multiplying that out for all the City workers and Police Ect.

    Then State Workers County Workers Utilities Teachers will be interesting how it all plays out

    Comment by John — June 29, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

  23. Erudition . . . the word is so over-used . . . the only thing that stands between us and erudition is a stack of unread books . . . Jeff

    Comment by Jeffrey R Smith — June 29, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

  24. 22. how much are Koch brothers paying you?

    Comment by M.I. — June 29, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

  25. 1. I joked to Lauren when I submitted the blog about whether I should include one more preemptive line to the people that would insult Ann. Something like “If you think you can do better, go ahead.” Not that it would actual stop anybody. This was a high school commencement speech after all. Directed at 17 year old kids. If you want the Gettysburg address write your own, but the prerequisite is to earn the right by teaching 150 different kids a day for 13 years and be sure to get two hours sleep the last week before delivering it, because you were grading term papers for deadline every night. If some find it overly sincere, so be it. It was from the heart ( and it takes a lot of heart to live under the same roof with me for 20 years). Just today another parent stopped her on the street and complimented her. I think it was better in it’s actual delivery because the words were animated by a real person. Which reminds me “go away”, when you deliver your great oration be sure to include your real name so we can give you full credit.

    Comment by M.I. — June 29, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

  26. Ann’s speech was marvelous, and it was well- received by all, including myself. Ann gave of herself constantly, perhaps to extremes, to OUR children! people like Adam and John were exactly who Mark refers to: big gasbags with nothing to add to this site. You should start your own blog, call “Vile on the Isle!” Folks can turn to you for a daily dose of vitriol and negativity, get it into and out of their systems, and then go on to better sites where people try to actually communicate.

    Comment by SFB — July 5, 2011 @ 9:15 am

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