October 31, 2007
At 10:00 PM we will be hosting a special podcast on the subjects of education, indoctrination and political ideologies (we are responding to the latest debacle/outrage at the University of Delaware. See our post, here).
Joining us will be Dr Sanity and Mamacita, educator extraordinaire and author of Weekly Scheiss. We hope to be able to include others in what is a very necessary airing of ideas and ideals and conversation about the role of education in our society. Listeners will be able to participate in the conversation. The call in number is 347-215-7863.
October 31, 2007
“It has become a kind of religion that you can’t criticise because then you become a traitor to the great cause, which I am not.
“It is time we began to ask who are these women who continually rubbish men. The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests. “Men seem to be so cowed that they can’t fight back, and it is time they
A reader writes in:
Dear Dr. Helen:
After reading your last column on men’s rights, I have to ask, what are your thoughts on whether or not men should get married?
Wow, that is a tough question. Let me start by saying that many of you emailed me about my last column on men’s rights to say that I was wrong to blame men for “not showing up” to fight against the courts and laws that treat them worse than common criminals—without due process, constitutional rights or any say in government intervention into their private lives. But it seems that women are getting ahead in the workplace (in NYC and other large cities, they earn more than men) but men are falling behind in the domestic realm which includes marriage. I understand that many of you feel that I am “blaming the victim”—in this case men—but I will use in my defense the refrain preached by Martin Luther King: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed…”
…How could someone tell young men or older men not to have families? A good family is a wonderful thing; however, I admit to having been naive enough to do a post on marriage at my blog thinking that I would hear about the positive things men liked about being married. Boy, was I wrong. Here is what I heard instead:
Dr Helen’s column will get your attention and is provocative in that it will make you think. Her advice is practical and useful- and that’s a lot less common a commodity than it used to be.
Read the entire post- and be sure to read the comment thread.
As it happens, exactly two years ago today, we wrote about marriage and Maureen Dowd (how’s that for irony?) Here’s an extract (post is on mirror site):
…it isn’t success that makes women less desirable. It is the deceit that often accompanies that success that makes women less desirable. A successful woman isn’t less likely to find a mate or have a successful marriage- unless she equates success in business with success in marriage or relationships. The biggest deceit is the self deceit…
…There are legions of men, over 40, that are looking to partner not with a twentysomething, but rather another like minded 40 something.
Men seriously looking at marriage are not looking for a trophy- they are looking for a wife, someone who understands the meaning of the word ‘home,’ in every sense of the word. There are a lot of men that have tired of the perfectly coiffed, weekly manicured and exercise compulsive woman. Men want women that put their marriage, not their ‘self esteem’ and ‘identity’ as a priority…
Men want to worship their wives- not because they are successful or powerful, but because they are their wives. ‘In all the world, you have chosen me!’ Is it really any different for women? Marriage is about the sharing, not the sharp retort, to be applauded. Marriage is about a partnership, not the parties. Marriage is about a lot of things, none of which are about external success and power…
October 31, 2007
Yesterday, Dr Sanity agreed to a session on the couch.
Our conversation was thoughtful and nuanced, direct and insightful. We talked about therapy, drugs, the politics of the psychiatric profession today and how those politics influence real politics. If you’ve ever wondered what make a psychiatrist tick or what influences a physician to make psychiatry their specialty, check out Dr Sanity on the couch.
October 31, 2007
NEWARK, Del., October 30, 2007—The University of Delaware subjects students in its residence halls to a shocking program of ideological reeducation that is referred to in the university’s own materials as a “treatment” for students’ incorrect attitudes and beliefs. The Orwellian program requires the approximately 7,000 students in Delaware’s residence halls to adopt highly specific university-approved views on issues ranging from politics to race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy, and environmentalism. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling for the total dismantling of the program, which is a flagrant violation of students’ rights to freedom of conscience and freedom from compelled speech.
“The University of Delaware’s residence life education program is a grave intrusion into students’ private beliefs,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “The university has decided that it is not enough to expose its students to the values it considers important; instead, it must coerce its students into accepting those values as their own. At a public university like Delaware, this is both unconscionable and unconstitutional.”
The university’s views are forced on students through a comprehensive manipulation of the residence hall environment, from mandatory training sessions to “sustainability” door decorations. Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training” session at which RAs were taught, among other things, that “[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.”
The university suggests that at one-on-one sessions with students, RAs should ask intrusive personal questions such as “When did you discover your sexual identity?” Students who express discomfort with this type of questioning often meet with disapproval from their RAs, who write reports on these one-on-one sessions and deliver these reports to their superiors. One student identified in a write-up as an RA’s “worst” one-on-one session was a young woman who stated that she was tired of having “diversity shoved down her throat.”
According to the program’s materials, the goal of the residence life education program is for students in the university’s residence halls to achieve certain “competencies” that the university has decreed its students must develop in order to achieve the overall educational goal of “citizenship.” These competencies include: “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society,” “Students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression,” and “Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality.”
At various points in the program, students are also pressured or even required to take actions that outwardly indicate their agreement with the university’s ideology, regardless of their personal beliefs. Such actions include displaying specific door decorations, committing to reduce their ecological footprint by at least 20%, taking action by advocating for an “oppressed” social group, and taking action by advocating for a “sustainable world.”
In the Office of Residence Life’s internal materials, these programs are described using the harrowing language of ideological reeducation. In documents relating to the assessment of student learning, for example, the residence hall lesson plans are referred to as “treatments.”
In a letter sent yesterday to University of Delaware President Patrick Harker, FIRE pointed out the stark contradiction between the residence life education program and the values of a free society. FIRE’s letter to President Harker also underscored the University of Delaware’s legal obligation to abide by the First Amendment. FIRE reminded Harker of the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), a case decided during World War II that remains the law of the land. Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing for the Court, declared, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
“The fact that the university views its students as patients in need of treatment for some sort of moral sickness betrays a total lack of respect not only for students’ basic rights, but for students themselves,” Lukianoff said. “The University of Delaware has both a legal and a moral obligation to immediately dismantle this program, and FIRE will not rest until it has.”
A mandatory University of Delaware program requires residence hall students to acknowledge that “all whites are racist” and offers them “treatment” for any incorrect attitudes regarding class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality they might hold upon entering the school, according to a civil rights group…
“A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. ‘The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination….’”
The education program also notes that “reverse racism” is “a term created and used by white people to deny their white privilege.” And “a non-racist” is called “a non-term,” because, the program explains, “The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism, to maintain an aura of innocence in the face of racial oppression, and to shift the responsibility for that oppression from whites to people of color (called ‘blaming the victim’)…”
“Such utter contempt for the autonomy and free agency of others is the hallmark of totalitarianism and has no place in any free society, let alone at a public university in the state of Delaware,” the letter said.
Especially alarming, Harris told WND, is that the school defines learning specifically as “attitudinal or behavioral changes,” not acquiring any sort of knowledge and ability. [emp-- SC&A]
Tonight, at the late hour of 10:00 PM we will be hosting a special podcast on the subjects of education, indoctrination and political ideologies. Joining us will be Dr Sanity and Mamacita, educator extraordinaire and author of Weekly Scheiss. We hope to be able to include others in what is a very necessary airing of ideas and ideals and conversation about the role of education in our society. Listeners will be able to participate in the conversation. The call in number is 347-215-7863.
October 30, 2007
…the Sultan of Brunei was the most celebrated globe-trotting billionaire, living a life of extravagant luxury. But now he has been forced to reveal the extent of his indulgences by supplying the Privy Council in London with details of his personal finances.
The revelations have come as a result of a bitter legal battle between the world’s richest monarch and his “playboy prince” younger brother, Prince Jefri. The latest chapter in a decade-long feud concerns an accusation by the Sultan that his younger brother failed to pay all of a £3bn ($6,172,860,000USD) out-of-court settlement in 2000…
A 50-page report submitted to it reveals astonishing levels of spending. Among his payments to friends and employees, the 61-year-old Sultan spent £7.3m ($15,000,000USD) and £6.59m ($16,374,000USD) on two house supervisors, and £5.86m ($12,000,000USD) on each one of his five public relations officials, named Janet, Prall, Shelly, Vicky, and Yoya. He also spent £1.26m ($2,592,000USD) on a badminton coach and £1.25m ($2,572,000USD) on masseuses and acupuncturists, as well as £48,859 ($100,000) on the guards for his exotic bird cages…
The Sultan is understood to own numerous one-off luxury cars, his own personal Boeing 747 complete with gold-plated furnishings, six smaller planes, two helicopters, and a theme park worth $1bn.
His younger brother, Jefri, whom the Sultan introduced to polo, has for decades been one the world’s most notorious playboys. He is rumoured to have converted a passenger jet to carry polo ponies and had gold-plated toilet brushes installed. He once owned a 50-metre yacht called Tits, replete with tenders named Nipple 1 and Nipple 2, and reputedly wore pornographic watches that showed a couple copulating on the hour (very, very classy- SC&A)…
The Sultan, who rules over a population of 375,000, lives in a gold-domed palace at Nurul Imam which is larger than the Vatican, with 1,788 rooms and a banqueting hall with 5,000 seats.
Jefri has been hired by Timex as a watch designer.
October 30, 2007
Get with the program…
The latest Sanity Squad podcast is up… Dr Sanity, Neo, Shrink and ourselves. We talked about the political narcissism of candidates and voters (Yes, we were talking about you). We spoke about Europe and the new Euro realities and we gazed into the minds of…well. you’ll just have to listen in.
Have you dropped by Fausta’s Carnival of South America and Latin America? You haven’t? Why not? No need to be be afraid- no one will be looking at your at your tango, mambo or samba moves (‘keep moving your rear in a figure eight. That’s the secret to all Latin dancing- a collaborative effort between your ass and feet’). Check it out- lots of neat and interesting stuff going on out there.
Speaking of podcasts, Dr Sanity will spending a bit of time On the Couch with Sigmund, Carl and Alfred podcast. Feel free to eavesdrop at 3:00 PM and if you have mastered toilet training, you are invited to call in at (347) 215-7863 and ask the former NASA organic waste in space specialist. We really don’t care if you are toilet trained, but years of dealing with crap that floats has made Dr Sanity rather sensitive. It also goes a long way in explaining why stupidity is always in her cross hairs. Bring your own tissue.
The latest example of a Dr Sanity No Crap Zone can be found here. Live and learn.
October 30, 2007
“Muslims who want to live under Sharia Law were told…to get out of Australia…
…some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state and it’s laws were made by parliament. “
…clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia..one the Australian law and another Islamic law is false. If you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps then, that’s a better option…
Immigrants, not Australians, must adapt. Take it or leave it. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture…
I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia…
We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become a part of our society, learn the language!
…Christian men and women, om Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented… If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture…
We will accept your beliefs and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us…
…We are happy with our culture and we have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from. By all means, keep your culture, but do not force it on others.
This is our country, our land and our lifestyle, and we will you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian Beliefs or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of another great Australian freedom,
The right to leave…
That’s called ‘clarity.’
Now, let’s look at reality. If the US or Australia or Canada were such oppressive places, why do so many people want to immigrate to those nations? What kind of a person would bring his family to a place where he knew they would be persecuted?
Why immigrate to a free nation, only to try and change that nation into the kind of place they came from? Why leave paradise?
Think about it.
October 29, 2007
That’s right, the entire Sanity Squad will be together tonight for another brilliant, scintillating and utterly mesmerizing BlogTalk Radio podcast.
Join Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped, Neo-neocon and ourselves as we shepherd you into the pastures of insight, understanding and intellectual stimulation (we are not responsible for what you step in as negotiate the unfamiliar pastures).
We will be discussing political narcissism of both candidates and voters and we will discuss Mark Steyn’s article on the morons who believe the horrors of war can be defined by Hollywood.
Tonight’s podcast will be a good one. Be sure to participate. The call in number is 646-716-9116.
October 29, 2007
Recently, the current herd of presidential candidates have had much to say about national healthcare programs and government funded college education for all. Candidates are falling over each other making promises they know they have no intention of keeping, even if they could.
Have you ever noticed how it is always the same group of people who want government to give more while at the same time ask for less and less in return? Nowadays, progressive ideologues have relegated the Peace Corps to history and disrespecting the very institutions that make up our democracy has become religious dogma. Voters who choose ‘inappropriately’ are ‘Nazis’ and every election is ‘stolen’- unless of course, the progressives are satisfied with the outcome. In that case, the ‘people have spoken.’
In The Bootstrap Nation; Bill Clinton’s Best Legacy?, the Anchoress breaks stride with the march du jour. As is often the case, she has trouble walking in lockstep with anyone. Clarity and a bit of insight will do that.
… we’ve been talking, for the last few days, about socialism and socialized programs, and why they don’t work, or how they encourage mediocrity. As the discussion spilled over into the comments sections, I wrote:
Sometimes people need a hand-out, yes, but making it a way of life has never ended up being a positive…No handout can replace the sense of pride one gets by accomplishing things on one’s own.
The emails on this subject have been wide-ranging and in one of them I was taken to task by a reader identifying herself as a “progressive” and requesting anonymity, who wagged a finger at me for advocating a “bootstraps” mentality that – to this woman’s way of thinking – is a “tired old canard” belonging “to the last century.”
…I wonder if my progressive reader would feel differently about the “bootstraps” mentality if she were to consider that Bill Clinton, one of her heroes, brought its value into sharp focus.
The Anchoress makes clear that that the conversation isn’t about politics. In fact, that is the last and least important of issues she addresses. Her discussion centers around the elevation of man and her observations about how that elevation is reached. Her views are more scientific than political.
We know that the highest achievements of man have always come about a response to restrictive thinking or restrictive ideologies. The environments that have restricted man from exercising his full potential produce two kinds of people- those who resist and ‘think outside the box’ and those who acquiesce.
Those who acquiesce become dependent. They lose the drive to achieve. Of course, human being are hard wired to achieve, so beating that drive out of us takes some work. Everything we know as instinctively true must be upended.
Life becomes defined as a zero sum game. Your success comes about as a result of someone else’s failure. Victory comes about at the cost of another’s shame. If you take pride in accomplishment, you only highlight the humiliation of someone less accomplished
Of course, those beliefs are the least ‘natural’ of human instincts and those beliefs are antithetical to science.
From the beginning of time, man has competed against nature, himself and other men. If he hadn’t, we would not have survived as a species. As a species, we need to exceed our capabilities and capacities. We excel because there is a fire in our bellies that cannot be extinguished. To fulfill our destinies as human beings, we must look within and find a way to leave our mark and excel. Animals adapt to their environment. Man adapts to his environment and excels in that environment.
Dr Sanity’s Science Is Under Attack- But From Whom? is a perfect complement to the Anchoress post. First, she quotes Yuval Levin:
..the left actually has a much more complicated set of problems with science that are explored far more rarely than those of the right. Scientific advance, for instance, is the great engine behind capitalism, and is in that respect responsible for much that the left has disliked about the west since the 18th century. Much of what progressives oppose is precisely progress. Science, extended beyond its appropriate bounds, is also the chief contemporary threat to our continued allegiance to the principle of human equality, which has been at the heart of the liberal worldview. Put simply, science seems to demonstrate we are not equal—this after all is the problem many on the left had with The Bell Curve. Of course, it only seems that way if you take a very peculiar view of what the principle of equality actually is. We are equal not in our natural capacities—obviously we are not all equally strong, or smart, or tall, or healthy—but in our standing as human beings in relation to something higher than ourselves. But the left is no longer well equipped to offer that defense of equality, since it requires all manner of premises they have given up.
She then goes on to make some very biting observations:
The assertion that I hear repeatedly in the academic setting is that science is “under attack” from the religious right. Yet what I actually observe time and again is that it is the secular left that is intent on suppressing ideas and research that aren’t ideologically pure…
One thing you can say about the religious right is that their desire to teach “intelligent design” (a theory I do not think has sufficient evidence to be included in children’s science textbooks) basically represents a rather desperate desire to have their religious views respected in a system that has deliberately and with malice aforethought been excluding them for years. even as other “religions” views are substituted. As examples, consider that even the word “Christmas” is prohibited in schools these days for fear of offending some sensitive leftist’s feelings; but these same leftists are eager to make sure kids learn all about Islam (we don’t want them to become Islamophobic, do we?), or that the religion of the left– multiculturalism– is integrated into the curriculum without so much as a by-your-leave.
We are also subjected to grown women (or should I say “indoctrinated feminists”?) who presume to call themselves “scientists” swooning when a University President suggests the possibility that factors other than sexism–i.e., biological considerations– might be at work in explaining disparities between women and men in academia. That University president was forced out of his position for daring to have such ideas and expressing them in a spirit of open-mindedness.
I guess some ideas are far too threatening to be freely discussedand debated.
So, which of the above two scenarios has had the most chilling effect on free speech in this country? The debate about intelligent design? Or the lack of one about the biological differences between males and females? I submit that the latter, which had serious repercussions on that particular University President and effectively warned anyone who might want to explore theories other than sexism that they would be appropriately persecuted.
Meanwhile, no one who advocates intelligent design theory or creationism has ever advocated (that I am aware) that evolution theory be struck from the curriculum and not be allowed in public discourse or debate. All they ask is that their ideas be included in the debate.
When politics dictates what is and isn’t human nature, humans will be abused.
Hope sparkles from the wheel, and all possibility is contained therein. And the man who can sharpen his own knife, and teach his children that craft, will never be helpless or hungry or cast aside as worthless. He will, therefore, be at peace, and so will his house, and columnists will write about it in wonder.
…the helping hand of necessary, but structured, social aid can uplift and encourage, while the hand-out of creeping socialism can only deplete and depress our human spirit, drive and ingenuity. It is a legacy of which any good conservative would be proud.
The truth the Anchoress speaks of is crystal clear- and that is why truth is so often under ferocious attack by those who need to negate the science and hard wiring that defines the human species. Their desperation can often times be regarded as pathetically desperate. The deceit of that desperation comes easily.
The generations of souls lost and forgotten to the socialist ideals and dreams of utopia will not be forgotten- especially by those that had to endure the ‘utopia’ that tried to extinguish the fire that made us human. As we have noted before, Utopia cannot be imposed without tyranny.
The elevation of man has always been a mark of honor and has served as the foundation of our greatest achievements. Socialism, the ideologues who would limit man, ideas and science, is the mark of Cain of our times. Those who wear it proudly, have learned nothing.
Those who have learned nothing, have failed at life.
Portions of this post have been previously published. Given the current campaign huffing and puffing, we thought readers might want to avoid the hot air.
October 29, 2007
The BlogTalk Radio podcast covered a lot of ground. We discussed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), the MSM gone AWOL in Iraq and deliberate efforts by the MSM to avoid reporting what is really going on in Iraq.
We also talked about the realities of urban warfare and the lack of political unity and weakness of the current Iraqi government. We also discussed how the Iraqis, both Shia and Sunni, are now cooperating with Coalition forces are determined to build a nation independent of the attempt to foist various agendas on the Iraqi people. According to Sanchez and Fumento, the MSM are deliberately obfuscating and denying that truth.
We also discussed ‘Baksheesh‘ and how that single cultural notion and reality influences every relationship, exchange and negotiation in the Middle East.
Fausta’s BlogTalk Radio podcast with Matt Sanchez, Michael Fumento is a keeper.
October 29, 2007
Via Mamacita, who knows more about schools, education and what it means to teach kids than most anyone. While you might not see or hear the train coming, she does.
American kids, dumber than dirtI have this ongoing discussion with a longtime reader who also just so happens to be a longtime Oakland high school teacher, a wonderful guy who’s seen generations of teens come and generations go and who has a delightful poetic sensibility and quirky outlook on his life and his family and his beloved teaching career.
And he often writes to me in response to something I might’ve written about the youth of today, anything where I comment on the various nefarious factors shaping their minds and their perspectives and whether or not, say, EMFs and junk food and cell phones are melting their brains and what can be done and just how bad it might all be.
His response: It is not bad at all. It’s absolutely horrifying.
My friend often summarizes for me what he sees, firsthand, every day and every month, year in and year out, in his classroom. He speaks not merely of the sad decline in overall intellectual acumen among students over the years, not merely of the astonishing spread of lazy slackerhood, or the fact that cell phones and iPods and excess TV exposure are, absolutely and without reservation, short-circuiting the minds of the upcoming generations. Of this, he says, there is zero doubt.
Nor does he speak merely of the notion that kids these days are overprotected and wussified and don’t spend enough time outdoors and don’t get any real exercise and therefore can’t, say, identify basic plants, or handle a tool, or build, well, anything at all. Again, these things are a given. Widely reported, tragically ignored, nothing new.
No, my friend takes it all a full step — or rather, leap — further. It is not merely a sad slide. It is not just a general dumbing down. It is far uglier than that.
We are, as far as urban public education is concerned, essentially at rock bottom. We are now at a point where we are essentially churning out ignorant teens who are becoming ignorant adults and society as a whole will pay dearly, very soon, and if you think the hordes of easily terrified, mindless fundamentalist evangelical Christian lemmings have been bad for the soul of this country, just wait.
It’s gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad.
Now, you may think he’s merely a curmudgeon, a tired old teacher who stopped caring long ago. Not true. Teaching is his life. He says he loves his students, loves education and learning and watching young minds awaken. Problem is, he is seeing much less of it. It’s a bit like the melting of the polar ice caps. Sure, there’s been alarmist data about it for years, but until you see it for yourself, the deep visceral dread doesn’t really hit home.
He cites studies, reports, hard data, from the appalling effects of television on child brain development (i.e.; any TV exposure before 6 years old and your kid’s basic cognitive wiring and spatial perceptions are pretty much scrambled for life), to the fact that, because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, “It’s like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it.”
But most of all, he simply observes his students, year to year, noting all the obvious evidence of teens’ decreasing abilities when confronted with even the most basic intellectual tasks, from understanding simple history to working through moderately complex ideas to even (in a couple recent examples that particularly distressed him) being able to define the words “agriculture,” or even “democracy.” Not a single student could do it.
It gets worse. My friend cites the fact that, of the 6,000 high school students he estimates he’s taught over the span of his career, only a small fraction now make it to his grade with a functioning understanding of written English. They do not know how to form a sentence. They cannot write an intelligible paragraph. Recently, after giving an assignment that required drawing lines, he realized that not a single student actually knew how to use a ruler.
It is, in short, nothing less than a tidal wave of dumb, with once-passionate, increasingly exasperated teachers like my friend nearly powerless to stop it. The worst part: It’s not the kids’ fault. They’re merely the victims of a horribly failed educational system.
Then our discussion often turns to the meat of it, the bigger picture, the ugly and unavoidable truism about the lack of need among the government and the power elite in this nation to create a truly effective educational system, one that actually generates intelligent, thoughtful, articulate citizens.
Hell, why should they? After all, the dumber the populace, the easier it is to rule and control and launch unwinnable wars and pass laws telling them that sex is bad and TV is good and God knows all, so just pipe down and eat your Taco Bell Double-Supremo Burrito and be glad we don’t arrest you for posting dirty pictures on your cute little blog.
This is about when I try to offer counterevidence, a bit of optimism. For one thing, I’ve argued generational relativity in this space before, suggesting maybe kids are no scarier or dumber or more dangerous than they’ve ever been, and that maybe some of the problem is merely the same old awkward generation gap, with every current generation absolutely convinced the subsequent one is terrifically stupid and malicious and will be the end of society as a whole. Just the way it always seems.
I also point out how, despite all the evidence of total public-education meltdown, I keep being surprised, keep hearing from/about teens and youth movements and actions that impress the hell out of me. Damn kids made the Internet what it is today, fer chrissakes. Revolutionized media. Broke all the rules. Still are.
Hell, some of the best designers, writers, artists, poets, chefs, and so on that I meet are in their early to mid-20s. And the nation’s top universities are still managing, despite a factory-churning mentality, to crank out young minds of astonishing ability and acumen. How did these kids do it? How did they escape the horrible public school system? How did they avoid the great dumbing down of America? Did they never see a TV show until they hit puberty? Were they all born and raised elsewhere, in India and Asia and Russia? Did they all go to Waldorf or Montessori and eat whole-grain breads and play with firecrackers and take long walks in wild nature? Are these kids flukes? Exceptions? Just lucky?
My friend would say, well, yes, that’s precisely what most of them are. Lucky, wealthy, foreign-born, private-schooled … and increasingly rare. Most affluent parents in America — and many more who aren’t — now put their kids in private schools from day one, and the smart ones give their kids no TV and minimal junk food and no video games. (Of course, this in no way guarantees a smart, attuned kid, but compared to the odds of success in the public school system, it sure seems to help). This covers about, what, 3 percent of the populace?
As for the rest, well, the dystopian evidence seems overwhelming indeed, to the point where it might be no stretch at all to say the biggest threat facing America is perhaps not global warming, not perpetual warmongering, not garbage food or low-level radiation or way too much Lindsay Lohan, but a populace far too ignorant to know how to properly manage any of it, much less change it all for the better.
What, too fatalistic? Don’t worry. Soon enough, no one will know what the word even means.
October 28, 2007
MHNN (Ann Arbor, MI)- Have you ever wondered what patients tell their psychiatrists? Have you ever wished you could listen in on a therapy session?
Dr Pat M Santy, internationally known psychiatrist and author of the weekly Carnival Of The Insanities, has provided MHNN an advance copy of her new book, “Weekly Sessions,” in which she records some of what she has heard in her Ann Arbor experiences.
Dr Sanity notes that virtually all of the quotes she presents were made by patients prior to their starting on medication.
“Doc, I’m so glad the Edvard Munch painting “The Scream” has been recovered. Howard Dean can finally relax. He won’t have to shoulder the burden alone.”
“Doc, I was so pleased to hear The LA Times dropped the term “wild” describing fire and is using the term “undocumented” fire instead.“
“Doc, have you heard? Robert Byrd will be appointed Grand Wizard pro tempore of the Senate!”
“Doc, John Kerry said something I’ve been thinking about: If you don’t do well in school you’ll get stuck fighting fires in California.”
“Doc, I’m depressed. According to the NY Times: Fighting fire creates even more fires.”
“Doc, Great news! San Andreas Fault in California has been renamed George Bush’s Fault.”
“Doc, what is this world coming to? Now the Dutch want to follow Ahmadinejad’s lead. They just declared “there are no dykes in Holland!”
“Doc, have you seen the latest issue of People Magazine? Sean Penn and Rosie O’Donell were quoted as saying we are ‘hated’ on other planets.”
“Doc, why is this administration lying to us? Iran and Syria have just declared a Hezbollah victory in the world series!”
“Doc, I know how to make a fortune! I’m going to sell Castro T-shirts as soon as he’s dies!”
“Doc, Nicholas Sarkozy has his own problems. Just yesterday he was presented with an ultimatum that began with “France out of Paristan!”
“Doc, I have bad, bad news. Santa has been grounded! PETA filed an animal cruelty suit in Superior Court.”
“Doc, JK Rowlings has dropped another bombshell! Dasher and Prancer came out of closet and are now advocates for legalizing same-sex marriage for reindeer.”
“Doc, have you heard? Now Comet and Blitzen are refusing to serve with openly gay reindeer.”
“Doc, a whole bunch of U of M college professors have resolved to vilify America, Israel, Jews and Christians twice as much as last year!”
“Doc, I have read a secret, internal ACLU report. Did you know that George Bush wiretapped Martin Luther King?”
“Doc, former DC Marion Berry wants to initiate a new holiday, “Crack History Month.” Pretty cool, huh?”
“Doc, the ACLU has another internal, secret report that says Dick Cheney was seen on the Dealy Plaza grassy knoll.”
“Doc, I had a horrible nightmare last night. I dreamed the NYT headline was ‘Reparations Movement Takes Aim at Largest Corporation that Benefitted from Slavery: The Democratic Party, to Sue for 800 Billion Dollars.”
“Doc, have you heard? California Democrats have proposed vote-by-phone voting.”
“Doc, how are we going to spin this one? The North Pole has shut down as the elves unionize, demand warmer work environment.”
“Doc, what are we doing in Iraq? Have you seen the latest NYT headlines?: U.S. botches strike in Iraq; Marine choppers fail to hit aspirin factory.”
For more insight into reality, see Dr Sanity’s Carnival Of The Insanities.
Some of these quotes were ‘borrowed.’ All are credited to wonderfully crazy people.
October 26, 2007
Cue the music as Fausta strolls down memory lane.
From This Old New Jersey House, published at NJ.com:
…The apartment was cheap because it was right next to Routes I-285, I-80 and 46. You would say it was accessible; I’d say it was noisy. We put aside my entire salary. My shoe and book purchases went on a 16-month-long hiatus…
We decided on a small two-story colonial on a cul-de-sac at walking distance from where my husband worked, the kind of house that real estate agents advertise as “charming, classic, solid, and bright,” which is also a good description for the kind of girl you’d want your son to bring home to meet you…
The closing took place at the seller’s lawyer’s office, which was heated for sauna duty. We bravely sweated it out but halfway through the process Mr. Seller turned to Mrs. Seller and asked her to remove her jacket. Mrs. Seller was affronted at this since she was wearing a heavy blouse, not a jacket. Her reaction was loud and unkind. The proceedings came to a grinding halt until the sellers reconciled.
…we set off to “make the house our own” because Mr. and Mrs. Seller had decorated the house in Early Taco Bell style. Acid yellows, vitriolic greens, and bitter oranges covered every surface – even the pink-tiled bathroom.
…We found another tenant, a great guy who must have been Mr. Monk‘s long-lost younger blond brother…
We found a “charming, classic, solid, and bright,” much larger colonial…
It was love at first sight.
October 26, 2007
The Sanity Squad podcast is scheduled for 10:30 AM. This morning, Dr Sanity an ourselves will discuss how individuals and group employ the most wonderful, creative and insane ways to deny reality. We will also examine the great lengths some people will go to maintain their separation and distance from reality.
Should you become overwhelmed with the urge to speak with Dr Sanity or ourselves, the call in number is (646) 716-9116.
Get smart, quickly. We know you are only pretending to work, so make the most of your limited on earth and listen to the Sanity Squad podcast at 10:30 AM.
The Sanity Squad podcast is now archived and available for your listening pleasure, intellectual stimulation and to feed our magnificent sense of narcissism.
Shrinkwrapped has written a post, Where Do I Come From, in which he discusses the case of a woman who is suing two doctors and Planned Parenthood because of a failed abortion.
Perhaps I am more sensitive to these issues than this reporter, but all I could do upon reading this was imagine the struggles this poor young girl is due for. She will inevitably know that her mother didn’t want her, that her life was weighed against the cost to her mother’s life style and found wanting. In fact, her mother did not even love her enough to decide to tolerate the discomfort of a pregnancy and then give her to someone who might have desperately wanted her enough to adopt her.
Teaching a child that he or she is loved is perhaps the single greatest gift we as parents can give to our children. There is no replacement for the comfort, safety and peace of mind a child feels that comes from knowing he or she is loved.
Love is many things of course, and cannot be easily defined. In a world in which science plays so crucial a role, it is also clear that in many ways, love can be counter evolutionary.
In discussing love, we must also clarify the kind of love we are talking about. There is reciprocal love and there is unconditional love. They are very, very different.
One kind of love can indeed be described as an evolutionary derivative. The other is entirely antithetical to the notion of strict scientific evolution.
Reciprocal love can be very powerful. It is shared- that is, I love you because you love me. I fulfill your needs because you fulfill mine, and so one. There is a balance, an equilibrium- an exchange. That kind of loves implies a great intimacy, and certainly, popular culture reinforces that. “He/she completes me. He/she understands me,” and so one. In fact, that kind of love is an exchange, a trade, a basic economic principle in action. Love is conditional, freely given as long as certain needs are met. In the end, however, that kind of love can become reflexive- that is, feeding the evolutionary model. We are satisfied and sated as long as we get what we want.
Of course, reciprocal love is not a bad thing. Reciprocal love makes the world go round- we can marry, have a family and live perfectly comfortable lives. It is also true that human nature does respond to to the give and take dynamic. We are after all, self oriented.
While reciprocal love is beneficial, it is also conditional- and often temporary. People change. They grow, change and sometimes, they regress. The only thing for certain is that people do change. When that happens, some of the original ‘deal’ of reciprocal love is abrogated. What happens then? What happens when you find someone who exhibits superior qualities, or qualities more in line with your own? Is the relationship over because some elements of the ‘deal’ have changed? Those realities have contributed to and will continue to be the cause of more exsanguinated marriages.
Lastly, reciprocal love by itself, no matter how powerful, cannot capture the greatness that each of us is capable of. Reciprocal love may sate our egos, but it cannot support our yearning for something more.
Unconditional love is very different. You don’t have to look far to find it. If you have siblings or parents, you can comprehend the beginnings of that kind of love. Still, those relationships are only warm-ups to the potential of real unconditional love. Finding the right mate and having children take center stage in the life drama of unconditional love.
Unconditional love is not easy or reflexive. Unconditional love requires effort and investment. We choose to behave in certain ways with no guarantee of a payoff. In fact, we make our choices with the full understanding that the payoff may a long way off in the future, if at all. We make choices because they are the right choices, the right thing to do, not necessarily because they are the most expedient or logical of choices.
Unconditional love differs too, because when we say ‘ I love you,’ we are not referring to that part of you that makes us feel good. We are rather saying that we love who you are. We see the true picture- the strengths, the flaws, and despite it all, we love who you are, what your potential is and what you can teach us, in our quest to be better. That love recognized because we share a unique bond. We ’see’ each other, without filtering that intimacy through our needs.
I do not love you because you are beautiful- but rather, you are beautiful because I love you. I do not love you because I need you- I need you because I love you. Of course, we recognize and value the qualities of our mates, but the love is not limited by the parameters of those qualities. To love someone simple because they are smart only, is a recipe for disaster. Real love is not defined by the parameters of those qualities. Unconditional love transcends those qualities, and reaches into the very essence of the object of our affections. There is no rhyme or reason. To those that understand unconditional love, the mantra is as follows: I may never see that ‘payoff,’ but in fact, I don’t care- I still love you because we are one soul.
As the counter-evolutionary dance of unconditional love unfolds, we do not- and should not, escape the realities of romance, reciprocal love and all the other necessary ingredients necessary to bring to people together. If however, in the process of finding true love, we allow our souls, our very beings, to emerge, we can reach a space and place where unconditional love can be found. We can reach the point were we can recognize the shared bond that cannot be broken.
We reach a point where partners become a part of each other- and life without each other becomes almost unimaginable.
Shrinkwrapped’s few words thunder at what is an unnecessary tragedy in the making:
I have treated many people who have had to confront feelings of being an unwanted child, an imposition and intrusion on their parent’s life. Often enough there has emerged evidence that their parent(s) did harbor significant ambivalence toward them… The recognition and resolution of such feelings is difficult and painful. It is hard to imagine the pain for a child who is forced to confront, in the starkest terms possible, that she was unwanted.
This post has been previously published.
October 25, 2007
Great pickup by Mamacita, of the superb Weekly Scheiss.
There has been much controversy lately about middle schools in our country handing out birth control to their students, or considering doing it. Darren from RightOnTheLeftCoast (see blogroll) posted about it recently, and there was also a link on Drudge. Personally, I think giving birth control to middle school children – especially sans parental permission – is an absolutely horrible idea. As a teacher of middle schoolers, every day I watch this age-group make the absolute worst decisions one could ever contemplate. By and large, their emotional maturity has yet to even come close to catching up with their physical and cognitive capabilities. That is a dangerous combination of circumstances.
The common argument people make in order to defend the distribution of birth control to teens and preteens is that, “They are going to do it anyway, so we might as well make sure they are doing it safely.” Horsesqueeze! How easily people forget that once upon a time, teen pregnancy was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. Young people fifty years ago had the same exact urges as the young people of today; human nature is human nature. The difference is that through parental, societal, and yes, religious pressure, the young people of yesteryear were much better able to delay gratification and not catch the diseases and early pregnancies that plague our youth of today…
After hearing about middle schools handing out birth control, and after hearing about my story of the boyfriend/girlfriend at my middle school, I want you to ask yourself something: Did it make you feel any better that the 8th grade boyfriend was going to pick up condoms on the way to have sex with his 8th grade girlfriend? Or did you think that these two should live in a world where having sex at the age of 13 should simply not be an option whether they are using birth control or not? That world once existed, and I wish to God that it still did.
October 25, 2007
Not hearing voices? Well, we have the fix for that.
We talked for a while about Fausta’s background. While she hails from the warm sands of Puerto Rico, there is more to her than sand in a bathing suit. She has family that hails from Europe and she herself traveled extensively in Spain and lived in Italy (where she trouble doing laundry). Her perspectives are different from that of most Americans. She sees more nuance and subtlety than most. Unlike most Americans she is multilingual- and that alone influences an already expansive world view. She can look in from the outside and look out from the inside.
With Dr Sanity, we talked about what it means to be an American- those who take that blessing for granted and those who don’t. The story she tells of her grandmother as a stowaway to get to this country is profound.
With Dr Sanity’s insights, an already good podcast gets even better. Her remarks on an ‘exceptional America’ are most striking.
October 25, 2007
Jane Hamsher, the ‘Mistress Mandy’ at Firedog Puddle and author of Senator Joe Lieberman’s victory over Ned Lamont in the last Connecticut elections is reviving the whispered question once more.
Does she really work for Karl Rove?
In her post, Just Call Him Slummy Joe, Hamsher rails against Senator Lieberman, referring to him as a ‘slumlord.’
You can add slumlord to Joe Lieberman’s list of job descriptions..
As it turns out, Senator Lieberman is the executor of his uncle’s estate, the owner of the property in question.
When his uncle died in 1995, Lieberman was named as co-executor of the estate with family attorney Harold Bernstein; he’s paid about $25,000 a year for his trusteeship duties…
Given Lieberman’s status and influence, it’s fair to ask some questions about not only the timing of the deal, but the overall context within which it was made. Even if Lieberman himself is not a beneficiary from this sale, his extended family is…
Of course, referring to the Senator from Connecticut as a ‘slumlord’ does invite comparisons to other political figures favored by the folks at Firedog Puddle. Surely Ms Hamsher had to know this- and that can only lead to speculation that a) Hamsher is a complete idiot (and we know she not) or b) she really is a GOP operative who works for Karl Rove.
In looking at instances of Democrat ‘slumlords’ or those who benefited from them, Andrew Cuomo comes to mind.
Cuomo wants to become the state’s highest law enforcement officer, but that hasn’t stopped him from attaching himself at the hip to a onetime scandal-scarred kingpin of a housing empire he denounced himself when he was Bill Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Never one to be far from the action, Hillary Clinton is closer to slumlords than she is to Chinese dishwashers. We won’t even get into the anti Union people she is cozy with. See this Village Voice expose.
Of course, Al Gore is the real deal slumlord. If it weren’t for Mistress Jane Hamsher we might have forgotten all about this.
Tracy Mayberry, who rents an apartment from the Man Who Gets An Oilcan Every Father’s Day, in Carthage, Tennessee, says he not only failed to fix overflowing toilets and backed up sinks, but also threatened to evict she and her disabled husband, mentally retarded daughter and another daughter with a seizure disorder. He then picked up her puppy and nailed its ears to a two by four, which he proceeded to fling over a bridge abutment. Okay, the last part was made up.
The Senior Senator from Massachusetts belongs to a family clan blessed with a net worth of nearly $500 million. Back in 1935, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr., purchased Merchandise Mart, a Chicago real estate company, and according to Schweizer:
“…in 1947, he divided its ownership among family members and put it in the form of a trust…. [it] was not set up in their home state of Massachusetts, New York, Florida, or even California. This trust wasn’t even domiciled in the United States. Instead the Kennedy trust was set up in … Fiji.”
Now why establish a trust on an island best known for headhunters? The Fiji-based trust allowed the Kennedy’s to avoid “…the possibility of scrutiny by the IRS and federal authorities,” according to Schweizer. Worse, the sanctimonious Kennedy clan that demands the rich pay their fair share has “an intricate web of trusts and private foundations” that helps the family avoid the IRS.
For example, the family paid only $134,330.90 in estate taxes despite a family fortune thought to be between $300 and $500 million at the time of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.’s death in 1969. That was a tax bill of .04 percent, and Schweizer informs us that the figure is based on the lower end of the estimated family fortune.
According to Peter Schweizer,
“…the current (2005) inheritance tax rate is 49 percent on any money passed to your children after the first $2 million…a farmer or small businessman worth $2.26 million who didn’t have the benefit of Kennedy tax shelters and foreign-based trusts would pay the same amount in estate taxes as the Kennedys did on their entire half-billion-dollar fortune.
Amazing hypocrisy abounds. Imagine, a farmer or small businessman, with a net worth of $2 million, paying the same amount of taxes as a family clan worth a half-billion dollars. This is not the stuff of liberal “economic fairness.” It most certainly is not the kind of outcome Senator Kennedy would boast about to his so-called “progressive” liberal supporters.
The Kennedy clan maintains most of their fortune “in trusts today which are structured to keep the family from paying higher taxes… [Senator] Kennedy receives nice checks every year from trusts set up in 1926, 1936, 1978, 1987, and 1997,” says Schweizer.
Senator Kennedy and his family have adopted other means besides trusts to avoid paying higher taxes. In one particularly sordid case in 1980, Senator Kennedy benefited from a political connection to Cook County, Chicago’s Democratic tax assessor, Thomas Tully. Mr. Tully had assessed the Kennedy-owned Merchandise Mart’s property value at $22.8 million when in fact its true value was $35 million. The discrepancy meant the Kennedys saved an estimated $8 million over a two year period. It also meant that Cook County’s public schools were short-changed a few million dollars in property tax revenues. Given Senator Kennedy’s long-standing support for public education, one would expect this example of hypocrisy to have a sobering impact on his supporters.
For the record, the Senator from Massachusetts only visits Massachusetts. He spends most of his time and pays taxes in Jeb Bush’s tax friendly state of Florida.
Of course, assigning culpability to Joe Lieberman for the actions of his relatives begs the question- should Teddy’ I forgot to call the police‘ Kennedy be questioned for his relationship to other Kennedy’s with less than savory reputations?
Joe Kennedy’s fortune was built in no small measure by his bootlegging enterprises during prohibition.
Joe Kennedy orchestrated daughter Rosemary’s lobotomy because she was retatrded. This was done without Rose Kennedy’s knowledge. Rosemary is still alive close to the caring and loving Kennedy clan- warehoused in Wisconsin.
Joe Kennedy was a Nazi sympathizer who made money in dealing with the Hitler regime. It appears that some Nazi sympathizers are perfectly acceptable in mixed company- if they are the right kind of Nazi sympathizers.
After Teddy Kennedy drove a car off a bridge in Chappaquiddick, investigators said ‘he killed that girl as if he put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. Those who investigated the incident said that Mary Jo Kopechne may have lived as long as two hours after being trapped in the car.
Michael Kennedy had an affair with an underage babysitter.
William Kennedy Smith was accused of rape at the family’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate. He was acquitted. Other women have come forward alleging Smith assaulted them as well.
Joe II Kennedy, as the Catholic Church for an annulment to end his 12-year marriage. Initially granted the dispensation, the annulment was overturned after his former wife wrote a very unflattering tell book, “Shattered Faith” (which he did not serioulsy challenge).
There is much more, but time, space and bandwith are limited.
Thank you Jane, for inviting the comparison between Joe Lieberman and just a few of the Democrats you so admire. If you want to play some more, we’re game.
Please give Karl our best.
October 24, 2007
Clearly, not all girls ought to be brought home to meet mom.
CANBERRA (Reuters) – An Australian barmaid has been fined for crushing beer cans between her bare breasts while an off-duty colleague has been fined for hanging spoons from her friend’s nipples, police said on Wednesday.
Police in Western Australia said the 31-year old barmaid pleaded guilty in the local magistrate’s court to twice exposing her breasts to patrons at the Premier Hotel in Pinjarra, south of the state capital, Perth.
The woman “is alleged to have also crushed beer cans between her breasts during one of the offences”, in breach of hotel licensing laws, police from the Peel district of Western Australia said in a statement.
The barmaid and the hotel manager were both fined A$1,000 ($900), while an off-duty barmaid was fined A$500 for helping to hang spoons from the woman’s nipples, police said.
“It sends a clear message to all licensees in Peel that we will not tolerate this type of behavior in our licensed premises,” local police superintendent David Parkinson said.
That’s a good idea. Let’s keep this kind of behavior restricted to parking lots, back alleyways and school yards.
October 24, 2007
Why is the story of CEO’s getting together to study the Bible newsworthy? Would CEO’s gathering to discuss Peter Singer’s thoughts on euthanasia and infanticide be equally as newsworthy?
Why does the JK Rowlings revelation that Dumbledore, fictional Headmaster of Hogwarts was gay, more talked about than Female Genital Mutilation or the ongoing slaughter in Darfur? Why aren’t we outraged that Osama bin Laden has called for war against those who would help the Darfurese?
Why does Richard Dawkins vitriolic deconstruction of religion and faith become the cocktail chatter of the ‘glitterati,’ while the complex moral tales of Noah, Jonah, and Job are disregarded?
Why is the sexualization of children so readily accepted? Why, as Rollo May asked, has the commercialization of sex and pornography to been allowed to influence our society and culture, in a way that has made us believe that love and sex are not necessarily directly related? Why do fashion choices for kids include clothing that are entirely inappropriate for children?
When did the concept of modesty, in behavior, dress and lifestyle become so anachronistic? Why do we see couples viciously argue in public or in front of their children, as if they had no self control whatsoever?
If modern society really sheds a past that was so restraining and cumbersome, why do we still crave romance, marriage and intimacy? Why have we come to equate intimacy with the physical manifestations of sexuality?
Why do we say we ‘need our space’ and at the same demand the ‘right’ to know someone else’s most private thoughts? Do we treat those closest to us nicely because they deserve to be treated that way by virtue of the relationship, or do we go the extra mile because that elevates us and our relationship?
More questions, later.