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Showing posts with label Michael Jordan Generation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Jordan Generation. Show all posts

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Can Parenting Be Taught?

The biggest problem in education today is the parents. Period. I've written about this before and now it seems that a trend is emerging in education discussions. We need to start teaching people how to be better parents and this recent cover story from the Christian Science Monitor illustrates just how we can.

The stakes are high. Parental improvement might seem like a national pastime these days, given the unprecedented volume of advice books, blogs, and lectures coming at moms and dads across all demographics. But for lower-income women like those in this classroom, and others like them across the country, improved parenting skills can not only increase a family’s happiness, it can also dramatically improve a child’s long-term educational achievement, lower the chances of juvenile delinquency, improve health measures, and reduce poverty, according to a growing coalition of child-development experts and scientists.

Further, we instructors do not have the time to teach students basic manners and respect for elders. We don't have enough time to hit the standards in a school year as it is. I'm really sick and tired of having students look at me with that quizzical expression when I tell them to do something. It's as if they have never heard an adult tell them what to do. Over the years, a greater percentage of students are showing up to junior high without the foggiest idea of how to behave. Far too many parents have done a very poor job raising them.

Of course, this is a big reason why I am a big supporter of the president.

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act allocated $1.5 billion for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program to expand parent home visitation initiatives, such as the Nurse-Family Partnership, which pairs registered nurses with pregnant, at-risk women. School systems across the country are collaborating with programs such as Families First to expand their parent education classes.

It seems like a small amount but ECFE is absolutely vital if we are going to turn this tide around. And it can't all be done federally as the CSM article notes.

Local governments are also getting involved, coming up with their own ways to try to improve parenting. (Providence, R.I., for instance, recently launched the Providence Talks program to “close the 30-million-word gap,” a reference to the difference in the number of words spoken to a baby with lower-income parents by the age of 4 compared to a child with higher-income parents – a difference shown to have long-term educational repercussions.)

All of us at the community level need to work together to be better parents. The rest of the CSM piece details how we can do that. So, let's get started!

Friday, April 04, 2014

The American Bro

This piece by John Saward is simply a masterpiece. His details of the modern American male are dead on right. Example...

Being flagrantly offensive, irritating people, making noise, commanding an audience—this is what fuels him; this is his required voltage. He is on the phone with someone named Ryan or Tyler or Kyle; he is saying “cunt” or “nigger” or “slut” out loud, then half-apologizing to no one in particular. "I GOT NO FILTER, BRO." He tilts his head and neck back, cackling at the ceiling, electrified by the degree to which he does not give a fuck, by this ability to appall other people, to make your mouth hang wide open like you were witnessing a wildfire. 

He is not saying words now but just grunting and ejecting "YOOOO" and "DUDE" in varying cadences, asking Ryan or Tyler or Kyle when they are getting there, what they brought, if they are pumped. He is pushing it to the limit, going hard, pouring J├Ąger into a plastic cup, making the conductor wait. All he can hear is his brain-engine humming, the bolts coming loose, people chanting his name. He is a renegade, he is looking women in the eyes for a period of time that blew past bold and is bordering on restraining order, but maybe this turns her on, he thinks; maybe he is dangerous, maybe he is going to walk over to her right now. He is alive to a degree that you will never be capable of, and he is scaring all the inhabitants of the universe back into their homes.

Far too many young men like this out there...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Between Two Ferns Lies Regret

Much ado has been made about President Obama's recent appearance on "Between Two Ferns" a Funny or Die interview show hosted by Zack Galifianakis. Critics have said it was undignified and beneath the president. Yet the one who comes off as a real douchebag is Zack Galifianakis, not Barack Obama. I get the whole concept of the show is supposed to be a roast type atmosphere but you can be critical of the president (as Jon Stewart has been when he has interviewed him) without demeaning the office. And that's just what Galifianakis did.

I like Zack Galifianakis and will always continue to see his films as he is a very funny guy. But this was a real career blemish that's going to stick with him for a while. Here is the full piece.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Another Reason To Hate MSNBC



 Really?

Global Parents

A recent discussion with my daughter's principal regarding the image below








































ended up going a lot longer than I expected (nearly 30 minutes!) and produced a term that I'm going to be using a lot on this site: Global Parents.

The biggest challenge in education today are the parents. There isn't even an issue that comes close. Our schools aren't collapsing. In fact they are doing much better these days (more on that in a future post). It is the parents that are collapsing. Crappy parents, far too many crappy parents, are the reason why our country's education system has problems. At the crux of their shittastic personalities is the flaw of being in constant negotiation mode over the grades their child receives. This, in turn, leads to the much larger problem of not understanding what globalization truly means.

Many parents thinks their child deserves a better grade and they constantly whine about how they think their child did enough for an A. They are essentially fighting for and rewarding mediocrity. Ultimately, this type of approach works against the future of their children as they are inadequately preparing them for the future. If we are going to be competitive in the global marketplace and continue to be a superpower, it must start with excelling at the core subjects. They have to think globally, not locally. In the moment of trying to finagle a good grade for their son or daughter they miss the bigger picture. Do they honestly think that Chinese parents are bartering for a better grade when their kid did average work?

We always talk about demanding more of our children and our education system. But what about the parents?

Friday, February 07, 2014


Monday, January 27, 2014

The Solution to the Abortion Issue

With the passing of another anniversary of the Supreme Court decision on Roe V Wade, it occurred to me that solution to the abortion issue is really not all that difficult. Unfortunately, the two deeply entrenched sides make it seemingly impossible move on the issue. As I have gotten older, this issue has crept up my priority list and I think our nation needs to change the law as it stands today. There are still far too many abortions that happen every year (mostly by single women in their 20s) and this sad fact illustrates that people are being horribly irresponsible with sex. So how do we shift the paradigm?

The first thing that needs to happen is we need to tackle the demand side of the equation. Why do so many women in their 20s get abortions? Do they not know about birth control? Are they stupid? Part of this may be that sex education programs two decades ago were not what they are today. Teenagers today are taught that sex should only happen in loving, committed relationships with serious attention paid to birth control and family planning. The falling teen pregnancy rate shows that kids are abstaining until they are older or using birth control effectively and that is a good thing. A young person's mind isn't fully developed until they are 25 anyway. Honestly, I don't think people are ready to be parents on just about every level until they are 30. Younger parents are part of the reason why we have the problems we do today (see: The Michael Jordan Generation). So, single women in their 20s need to be targeted with marketing, community support, and social pressure to practice healthy sexual habits. That would eliminate some of the demand.

We can also look at the supply side of abortion and curtail it more than we are doing right now. We shouldn't outlaw it completely as that would give rise to a criminal element that would raise more problems, cost more money, and essentially create a whole new series of headaches. A woman's womb should not be a ward of the state. An embryo does not have 14th amendment rights. Here is where the question of "what is life?" needs to be answered. Prenatal development shows us that the heart isn't even beating until week 6. There is no brain function until week 7. It really isn't even a fetus until week 10. Given these facts, I'd say all abortions should be completely illegal after week 10 at least. I'd go as far back as week 6 if it means gaining concessions from the pro life crowd (more on that in a bit). In sum, it's not a human being without a functioning heart and brain.

With abortion legal only up until week 6 period, most people would pay more attention to their sexual habits and be more careful. I realize that Democrats would be loathe to embrace this but if they are truly the party of making laws that prevent people from hurting themselves or others, they should fall in line with this. Of course, they won't be the only ones that should concede on the issue. If the Right truly wants to be pro life, they should put their money where their mouths are and raise Medicare taxes to include free coverage for every child under a certain age. If changes to the abortion law were implemented as I describe above, there would inevitably be more unwanted children. We already have too many now so steps would have to be taken that these kids were taken care of outside of the womb as well. Aid could be given out based on salaries via Medicaid if need be but women who would have had an abortion because they couldn't afford to care for their kid will need some kind of assistance...certainly more than we have now.

I think that if all these steps are taken, our country would see abortion rates fall dramitally. Perhaps we would eventually see demand drop to such a point that few places would even offer them anymore. Take away the demand, you take away the supply. People would be forced to think more seriously about their sexual choices. But if mistakes are made, if a woman is raped, has sex with a family member, or is in a life threatening situation, they should have some sort of an option that won't detrimentally alter their life (and the life their child) forever. There is a way we can ALL be pro life and I sincerely believe the path I have outlined here is the best option.

It's not completely foolproof and perfect but it's better than what we have now which is, quite simply, a tragedy being perpetuated by hubris filled ideologues.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Good Words

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”. (Pope Francis, EVANGELII GAUDIUM, November 2013)

Perfect for Thanksgiving Day. Not so perfect if you are conservative. Cue the ad hom and other assorted logical fallacies.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

It Begins (And Ends) With The Parents

Nearly all of the challenges I face as an instructor are due to poor parenting. Parents do indeed really suck and they are getting worse. Even the number of sucky parents are on the rise as our culture becomes more and more cemented in the misplaced and harmful values of the Michael Jordan Generation. It's very clear that parents are just not doing their job.

Never was this statement more true than with the parents of the shooter in the recent Sparks, Nevada Middle School shooting. While it hasn't been fully confirmed yet, the student who killed teacher and vet Michael Landsberry and wounded two other students likely got the semi-auto 9mm from his parents. What the hell were they thinking? And what kind of a fucking country do we live in where a guy who does tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan lives through that but gets shot in his hometown? It's stuff like this that completely disgusts me.

This would be a clear example of people who should not be allowed to own guns and why our laws regarding arms need to be changed. Their license to own a gun should be taken away and they should face criminal charges. I'm wondering if they were "live free or die" types like Nancy Lanza who also thought it would be nifty to let her mentally ill sun have access to her guns.

The facts of this case have been very slow in coming but my takeaways are that it's clear there was some sort of bullying involved (more on that later), the shooter was mentally ill, and his parents are directly responsible. Further, this latest incident has led me to reflect about Newton and come to the conclusion the ideology that bloviates from the gun community is also responsible. This is particularly true in the case of Nancy Lanza who bought their lies to such a degree that she felt she needed a fucking arsenal to protect herself.

It begins and ends with the parents, folks. If they don't do their job, we end up with situations like this. And more and more of them these days are failing miserably.

Monday, April 15, 2013

He Is Saying Things That Need To Said

There are so many things to love about Peter Brown Hoffmeister's recent piece that was banned from the Huffington Post that I don't even know where to start. He is saying things that need to be said and forcing us to confront a very deep fissure in our culture. In many ways, he speaks to the heart of the problem with young men in this country and how a few of them end up going on shooting sprees.

He should know. He was one of those young men and he made it out and became mentor and teacher himself. Correctly, he identifies the ingredients that get these young men to the point of shooting people and it's not just the guns.

Now I am not anti-video game crusader Jack Thompson. I’m not suggesting that everyone who plays a video game will act out that video game in reality. But I am saying that it is very dangerous to allow troubled, angry, teenage boys access to killing practice, even if that access is only virtual killing practice. The military uses video games to train soldiers to kill, yet we don’t consider “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ training for addicted teenage players? A high school boy who plays that game 30 hours per week isn’t training to kill somebody?

Now combine that with a mom who buys into the whole "live free or die" horse hockey and decides to allow their son access to a large quantity of weaponry and you have a disaster. Why is that the parents of these shooters never have their feet held to the fire? In the final analysis, it's primarily their responsibility. Nancy Lanza was a complete and total failure as a parent and her incompetence resulted in the deaths of 26 people.   There are thousands more like her out there and they truly, truly suck. They need to stop sucking. Yesterday.

Where are the parents in this situation or others like this one?

I was walking behind two teenage boys in the hall at my high school the other day and I heard one talking about slitting someone’s throat. He said, “I just came up behind him, pulled out my knife so quietly and cut his throat.” The other boy said, “Yeah, then I killed everyone else in less than, like, 10 seconds. Just slaughtered them.” 

I looked at these two boys: Tall and awkward. Unathletic. I knew that they weren’t tied-in socially, that they both struggled in classes and with peers. Yet they were capable of incredible and sudden violence on screen. Together, they could slit throats and shoot everyone. I asked one of them later, and he said that he played Call of Duty “an average of 40 hours per week, at least.” 

Is this what we want angry, adolescent boys to do? Do we want to give them this practice? Do we want them to glorify violent actions, to brag about violence in the school’s hallways? Or even worse, given the perfect equation of frustration + opportunity + practice, do we want them to do as Weise, Roberts, and Lanza did, and act out these fantasies in real life? Do we want them to yell, “I am the shooter” as they enter a crowded mall – as Roberts did? Or dress like video-game shooters – as Lanza and Roberts were – before heading into a murder spree?

When I was an awkward teenager, all I thought about was sex. All my friends were the same. We smoked pot, listened to music and were obsessed with progressing around the bases in terms of carnal escapades. That is definitely not the case today. Sex is very verboten subject with teenagers and they are much less sexual active than they were in my generation. There are drugs, of course, but they are viewed so negatively by our culture that the deviance takes on a truly ugly hue for the kids that do them...even marijuana. I can't help but think that if some of these kids just smoked some pot and made out with their girlfriends or boyfriends, they might be more at peace.

Hoffmeister closes the piece with a direct appeal to parents. I agree with it completely and I will close with it as well.

Get kids outside. Take them out and let them wander around in the woods. Let them canoe across a lake. Let them backpack through a mountain range. Give them a map and compass assignment. Give frustrated youth an opportunity to challenge themselves in the natural world. Have you ever heard of a school shooter who’s hobbies are kayaking, rock climbing, and fly-fishing? If that seems absurd – and it does seem absurd to me – we might be onto something. I don’t think that those hobbies can create a school shooter. There’s just something abut the natural world that defuses anger. I know this because the outdoors helped saved my life. An outdoor diversion program for troubled teens started the process when I was sixteen. Camping and hiking and climbing helped me mature further as a nineteen and twenty year old. And now, as the director of a high school outdoor program, one of my student leaders said recently that “the outdoor program saves lives.” That’s not me. That’s nature. Kids need the outdoors. Help the young people. Get them outside.

Amen.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Hallelujah!

I was very heartened to see this recent piece in the Atlantic about how our culture has finally shifted away from the "bumbling dad" stereotype. In many ways, we had become like the sex kittens and brain dead secretaries of the 1960s and 1970s.

I remember the old days, when the only media dad was a bumbling dad, flummoxed by diapers, mystified by breakfast cereals, as incompetent at managing a household as his wife was hyper-efficient. In sitcoms, and in the commercials that aired during sitcoms, Dad was comic relief; everyone knew that power in the home (economic power, especially) resided with Mom.

I have been lamenting this for years. It's such a stereotype, not simply of dads, but of all men that feeds the malaise that is the Michael Jordan Generation.

Now, though, it seems like things have changed.

Now, however, the marketers have realized their error, and dads—involved, caring, competent dads like me—are coming to the foreground. We see them with their daughters in car commercials, and with their daughters in other car commercials, and sometimes they even use Google! And not just to, you know, Google stuff. At last, we fathers have been recognized as an important demographic deserving of the attention of America's most creative capitalists.

The car commercial that comes to my mind is the one where the dad is telling his daughter, who is shown at age 6 or so, not to text while she drives. Suddenly, she is no longer 6 but 16. That's how dads really are...like Cliff Huxtable....not Benny Hill.

I really hope things stay this way. Men are not baboons who exist only to eat, watch sports and sleep on the couch while the wife does everything that requires competence.

Monday, February 04, 2013

A Very Stale Conflict

The recent conflict over the nature of social studies curriculum is tired, old and very, very stale. Yes, we know that the liberals can't stand the fact that America has actually done a whole lot of wonderful things in  including the spread of free market economics around the world which has clearly raised prosperity in such remote corners that it's likely world hunger will be eliminated within 50 years. Or that our military has ensured this freedom across the globe and saved countless lives from a whole host of threats, both human and natural. And we know that conservatives are literally foaming at the mouth even at the mere hint of America being at fault for anything in its 200+ year history. Whenever anything bad happened (slavery, coup in Iran, Vietnam, Iraq II), it was no one's fault. Shitty things just happen sometimes and if you blame America, well, you're a fucking commie!

What both sides in this debate completely fail to realize is that they are having the wrong argument and are wasting an enormous amount of time. The discussion shouldn't be about content. It should be about rigor. The same level of attention that is applied to math and reading should be applied to social studies. That includes high stakes testing with severe repercussions for those districts who fail to achieve the basic standards set out by the state in history and civics.

I'd wager that none of these people has been in a classroom in the last decade because the simple fact is that young people don't give a shit about civics or history. Without the priority placed on it by the state, why the fuck should they care? Our education department, as well as others across the nation, is hammering it into them that math and reading are more important than any other subject. Certainly, they are important but when many of the kids I get into class don't know who the vice president is or how a bill is passed or that there are even three branches of government, that should be a strong indicator for change.

The first thing that needs to happen is that the conclusion of 9th grade should bring with it a basic civics and history exam to be taken by all students. By that time, they should have taken both a US History and a government class so they should have the knowledge. The data we could glean from such exams could be an excellent metric for the pedagogy of today's social studies teachers. It's long been my belief (and the data would likely bear this out) that social studies teachers skate by on doing the minimal amount of work. They don't have a fire under their arses that really needs to be there if we are actually going to get young people to have enduring understandings about history and civics. We have enough to compete with anyway with all the other social influences in kids' lives.

By the time they get to me, I see the results. They don't remember much of what they have learned and had instructors that spent a lot of time showing movies or going on field trips. I'm really sick and tired of people living the stereotype of the social studies teacher being just a slight jump up from the gym teacher. Hell, I'm tired of people living the gym teacher stereotype as well. I'd say that they have done a pretty poor job as well when you consider how rotund our nation's children have become although I know it's not entirely their fault.

So, let's forget this stupid debate about the content of social studies and what political view needs to be studied and focus on the fundamental goal: mastery of basic civics and history. We've gone far too long with young people not understanding the history of our government, how it functions, and the people that have been and are involved making decisions that affect all of our lives. Connections need to be made to their daily lives and the importance of what happens in government and in history must be illustrated in new and exciting ways for each and every student.

It's time for social studies to be taken much more seriously.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Government Created Wealth

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching a documentary about the Grand Coulee Dam. It was part of PBS's American Experience series that I have enjoyed for many, many years. Here is the program in its entirety and I recommend watching the whole thing before you comment on the rest of this post.  



Watch Grand Coulee Dam on PBS. See more from American Experience.

My initial awe at what went into this project and the enormously positive outcome gave way to a profound sadness because a project like this could never happen today. Why? Because "the GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.." (Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein)

Before the dam's construction, the likely ancestors of the Tea Party behaved in a similar fashion as described by Mann and Ornstein, shouting all too familiar cries of dissent. Proponents of the dam were called "crackpots" and "Coulee Communists." Big private power interests fought fiercely against it. Collier's magazine downgraded Grand Coulee and, as the structure rose higher, it was labeled as "socialistic, impractical dam-foolishness." Even experts, engineers and geologists debated its usefulness. The president of the American Society of Civil Engineers branded Coulee as "a grandiose project of no more usefulness than the pyramids of Egypt." A Spokane paper sneered. "Baron Munchausen," it said, referring to the legendary liar, "thou wert a piker."

They were all wrong.

The Grand Coulee Dam, a taxpayer funded, government project, resulted in millions of dollars for the defense industry (60,000 planes and the creation of plutonium-239 were built using the power from the dam) and an explosion of agriculture in the state of Washington due to irrigation of a once arid, massive area of land in the Northwest. In fact, it provides irrigation to 2,000 farms in the area. The Grand Coulee Dam is one of the top produces in the country of hydro-electric power.Entire towns...economies...grew up around the building of the dam as thousands of people and a massive amount of materials were needed in its construction. The entire region was changed and became very prosperous as a result of the dam.

So, the Grand Coulee Dam is an example of how the government can create wealth. I realize this is sacrilege  for the right wingers out there but the facts are the facts. So, why again can't we do something like this today?

Looking deeper than the reasons I listed above, one becomes even more confused. Economic conditions were worse back in the 1930s. Unemployment was higher. The private sector had been shown to be a collection of greedy buffoons who were, in essence, addicted to gambling and using the nation's (really, the world's) economic structure as collateral. People put their faith in government and it paid off. The same thing should be able to happen today, right?

No. Because the last 30 years have seen a systematic attack on the institution of government that is so egregious...so profoundly inaccurate...that I fear the national perception is forever changed. Even as little as two years ago, I have caught myself saying (in derision), "Well, this must be a government operation." It's become part of our zeitgeist to hate the government and yet we so desperately need its structure and organizational principles right now to get ourselves out of this sluggish funk. Combine this with near worship we have of the real Gordon Gekkos of our country and our federal government doesn't stand a chance.

Yet, it's terribly obvious that the private sector is not going to be able to improve our economy on its own. Their motivation is for profit. That's great when you are exclusively operating in the free market. As we have seen far too many times, the free market isn't a universal panacea for all things economical. This is especially true because the government...our government and the governments of the world...are partners in the economy. They have to be because governments can sometimes improve market outcomes. And the Grand Coulee Dam is an excellent example of exactly how this works.

President Obama has been trying to do this for the last 3 1/2 years and has been massively derided for it. He's a "big government liberal" who wants to blah blah blah...have any of the people who say this ever taken the time to see the results of a project like Grand Coulee?

In truth, we don't even have to do something as massive as the Grand Coulee Dam to get our economy moving again. We could simply start with a massive repair plan for our nation's highways and bridges. That would put people to work which would, in turn, generate revenue for the government and the private sector. In essence, I'm talking about the president's jobs plan. 

Of course, the Republicans will never pass anything that could signal a success for the president in an election year. To put it simply, they, like the detractors of the Grand Coulee Dam, have a vested interest in the failure of such policies which essentially means they have a vested interest in the failure of our economy.

And, since the perception of our government is not what it was in 1933, they may very well succeed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Kinder, Gentler Cult

Take a look at this video below.



This is the first volley against Obama by American Crossroads, a Super PAC run by Karl Rove and some other like minded individuals. The ad is running in swing states like Florida and Ohio. It struck me as interesting for several reasons.

First of all, where's all the Barack X stuff? Well, apparently it's gone because it doesn't play very well. 

Middle-of-the-road voters who said they thought the country was on the wrong track were unmoved when they heard arguments that the president lacks integrity. And they did not buy assertions that he is a rabid partisan with a radical liberal agenda that is wrecking America.

Well, that's because it's not true and doesn't exist in reality. The fact is that even though many people don't agree with the president's policies and/or feel disappointed, they still like him personally. If he is attacked in a manner that was recently floated by some high level conservatives, you can say buh bye to the independents and swing voters. This would be why Mitt Romney always inserts that line "The president is a nice guy but..." into most of his stock answers to questions. He, like McCain before him, knows about the dark side to American populism.

Another thing that struck me was where was the husband? The ad obviously intimates that this is a single woman as she complains about her life and struggles in the job market. VERY interesting considering this is from a conservative group. Have they seen the writing on the wall and know they can't win without the women's vote? This, along with the leaving behind of the Barack X garbage, is a sign of progress. Even though I realize that there are millions of Americans who need to have Barack X to get out of bed and identify themselves every day, themes like this give me hope. Sorry, fuckos, I guess you can't win by calling the president a Kenyan socialist who constantly apologizes for America, spent more than anyone ever in the history of forever, raised taxes, is destroying free enterprise, and is making us weaker.

Yet neither of these points can hold a candle to the two more subtle messages contained therein....two messages that hilariously expose the metaphorical slip, if you will, of the right's dress. Remember all that talk about how if people are having financial problems, it's THEIR fault and blaming others for their own shortcomings is sacrilege? Well, I guess that's gone now because none of this woman's problems are her fault. The fact that she is low on cash and has adult children living at home is the fault of the government.

Wow.

Truly, one of the most titanic examples of hypocrisy I have seen in awhile. And, uncharacteristically, a complete capitulation.

Diving deeper, we can clearly see the Michael Jordan Generation on full display. The reason she has two adult kids living at home is because she has done a poor job in raising her children. Like many in her generation, she has babied her kids to the point where the can't function outside of her home. And without a two parent home it was likely made worse. But that's all the fault of the liberals and their social agenda, right?

No, it's not. This is how our culture is right now and it's truly awful. It's not because of the government or the education system (whose job it is most certainly not to parent or nanny) or the unions made up of people who make 50K a year or less. It's the fault of all of us because we have allowed our culture to be mostly socialized by the corporate owned media who tell us that the definition of success is a guy like Michael Jordan.

And not the winner of the science fair. Or the mathlete. Or the Model UN winners. Or the...well, I think you get the idea.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gay And Retarded

There's not a day that goes by that I don't hear the words "gay" and "retarded" in school. In fact, I myself have said them in the past on several occasions while out at the pub or some other such social occasion.. But something clicked in me many months back and I realized that I just didn't want to say them anymore. If you sit back and think about it, if something is "gay" that means it's stupid. That's connecting stupidity to homosexuality. And if something is "retarded," that's belittling someone who has a disability. So I stopped saying them. Most of my students still do although they know I don't like it. I might throw them a look or make a quick comment which usually elicits a quick apology. They don't really mean much by it and, sadly, it is part of their slang these days.

They may not mean much by it but, people being who they are, will always take things further. What happens at that point? Well, this.  I've had several requests to comment on this story and so here it is.

I'll start off by saying that the Anoka-Hennepin School District from the top down has done an awful job of handling this situation. Rather than focus on handling the bullying side of it and adopting a zero tolerance rule for such behavior (as is the case in both my district and my children's district), they chose to give a forum to people who talk of "radical homosexual agendas." (side question: Just what exactly is the "agenda that homosexual activists are seeking to advance?") This lead to the very justified entrance of GLBT and civil rights groups which, in turn, leads to a situation that is FUBAR. In playing the "Cult of Both Sides" game, they ended up losing.

What the school district should have done was tell the No Homo Promo crowd that, under no circumstances, will they tolerate people being treated poorly for any reason. As Howard Stern so eloquently explains at the end of this post, there should be zero tolerance for these people.

Now, to be fair, the situation isn't exactly as depicted as it was in the Rolling Stone article. We have this recent vote in which the policy was changed. And we have another look at the school district in which we see a different angle to what was originally reported. Some of what the school district officials say in this latter article ring true. The original article is distorted and the side of the story that isn't being told is seen in both of above links.

The fact of the matter is that teachers have far too much on their plate to talk as much about sex as all of the stories seem to illustrate. Other than health classes, there really isn't that much cause to talk about homosexuality and kids don't really bring it up-in a bullying environment or otherwise. There is some of random stuff here and there that goes on in most districts but, for the most part, this sort of thing isn't common. Essentially, the Anoka-Hennepin suicides (along with their recently reversed asinine policy) are an anomaly. Just like GSAs aren't "sex clubs," rampant bigotry leading gay kids to suicide is also an outlier.

There are far too many other mountains to conquer such as making sure students achieve state standards, perform well on the various standardized tests they need to take, and trying to inspire and motivate completely checked out parents to give at least one shit about the lives of their children. Tiptoeing around the issue of homosexuality isn't something that most educators have the time for these days. Hell, some days, the simple act of motivating a student to do a simple assignment on the Constitution is nearly impossible. Some are tired, some are ADHD, some are intervention, some are bored, and far too many simply don't care. Again, this all comes back to the parents of the Michael Jordan Generation expecting "The Help" to nanny their kids.

Still, it's tough not to get angry when you hear people like Barb Anderson, the founder of No Homo Promo, Rick Santorum, or Michele Bachmann, whose district is the home to Anoka-Hennepin schools, talk about homosexuals. They sound like fucking Nazis and I'm being kind in saying that. Part of me really struggles to say that this situation is an outlier and I shouldn't take it as the norm which is more or less the reason why I wrote what I did above...to convince myself. And the times they are indeed a-changin' as most younger people don't give two shits about whether someone is gay or not so I'd do better if I thought about that more often.

But 9 kids are fucking dead and people who think that it was their "gayness" that caused it are very, very dangerous people. Gay people used to be subjected to asylums and electro-shock therapy. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali said, "To be tolerant of intolerance is cowardice." Howard Stern expands on this point in this clip.



It's times like this when I have to have patience and remember that one of my biggest heroes is the non-violent Dr. King.

And that people like Barb Anderson, as history has always shown us, end up in a fucking bunker somewhere.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Back To School

As students across my state head back to school today, I was very heartened by a recent conversation with my gym buddy, Edward. Recall that Edward is an evangelical minister and is just about as right wing as you can be.

As were lifting he turned to me and asked what was involved in becoming a teacher. I told him and then asked why he was interested. He said he was thinking of becoming one at either the secondary level or college. He'd like to have another job in addition to the ministry that he runs and, with his wife's business struggling right now, he thought it might be a good field to look into for some stability. Of course, I told him that the high pay and exotic travelling were a big plus:)

Even though he and I differ on our ideological views, I was pretty amped that we was interested. Quite honestly, we need all the help we can get. I know that wherever he ends up, he is going to push his religious beliefs but I don't really care. Yes, he believes in Republican Jesus but at least he has convictions. So many people today don't. Maybe a few kids will be inspired and motivated by him to actually give a shit about something other than fucking X Box or their smart phone and go out into the world and be productive. And this is what led us to a point of mutual agreement that made me happy on this, the first day of school.

Parents suck.

Actually, they don't just suck. The majority of them are doing a fucking horrible job. He sees it every Sunday in church and I see it every day in school. All of us see it when we go to Target or Wal Mart. In fact, Edward said, "Liberal and progressive ideals are not the problem in schools. Parents are the problem in schools and in places like my church." He then went on to tell me a series of stories of incidents he has seen over the years at church which echo what I see every day in school. They ranged from a complete inability to discipline to encouraging children to misbehave.

The main avenue of socialization of children is parents. For a wide variety of reasons, they have ceded this authority to people outside of their home. People like me and Edward are ill equipped to handle the individual needs of so many children. So, they end up being socialized by their friends and the corporate owned media. I don't know about any of you other parents out there but I wouldn't trust the socialization of a styrofoam cup with several of my children's friends. To begin with, none of them have basic manners. Their social skills suck and most seem to care only about sports. And many of them are socialized by corporations as well so everything is geared around the incentive of materialism. Even at grade school age, they have smart phones and watch endless hours of TV. Why?

Because their parents are too busy, either with work or simply being selfish and lazy, to hang out with them and do something. To put it simply, parents don't raise their children anymore. Parents don't fucking parent. They can't be bothered to do it so it's left up to people like me and Edward. Unfortunately, this leads to both of us (especially me) getting the blame when a child isn't doing well. Geez, you'd think I could easily socialize 100+ kids a day and turn them ALL into winners. What a lazy ass I am! With parents, it's always someone else's fault...never their own.

This is largely what our culture has become, though, so I guess I shouldn't be shocked. We are a nation filled with people who completely fail when it comes to reflection. It's easier to blame someone else or come up with wild eyed conspiracy theories on why our schools have these problems. Pointing the finger at the parents simply isn't done.

Even if we could point the finger at them, what then? We can't force parents to do a better job. Can we? If so, how?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How Sarah Could Win

I haven't really talked about Sarah Palin in awhile as I have refused to be a part of the bizarre relationship she and the media have with one another. She pretends to hate them but needs them desperately...doing an excellent job of playing them any chance she gets. In return, most of the media talk about how stupid she is yet they still fall all over each other to cover her.

Honestly, it's pathetic. She's at the point right now where she can say whatever she wants and get away with it. The Paul Revere thing is an example. She says something factually wrong, the media go ape shit, her supporters foam at the mouth and accuse the media of asking her gotcha questions, and she becomes the headline.

Maher had an interesting take last night on how Sarah Palin could win the 2012 election. First, we have 40 percent of the country who would never vote for the president even if he personally saved them from drowning. One can see the validity of this statement by reading my comments section. Second, people tend to vote for who they dislike the least not who the like the best. In looking at Sarah's negatives, it would seem that people dislike her more. But figure in the economic situation coupled with the fact that she is hot and it could turn out to be her that they dislike the least. Finally, it sucks that is has come to this but anyone could get elected in this dumb fucking country.

That last one is a frustration but it really is true. If Sarah Palin were 300 pounds, had short hair, and was missing teeth, would she still be as popular? Would anyone even be listening? No, they wouldn't. We not dumb because we lack intelligence, although that is part of it. We are dumb because looks matter more than skill. Appearance and what is cool is more important than competence. That's the Michael Jordan Generation, though.

We don't give a shit about the steak. All we care about is the sizzle.