Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What wasn't debatable: the absence of Frederick Douglass & the Columbian Orator

So I watched the Trump/Biden 'debate' tonight. What came to mind was this, from one of America's greatest essayists, writers and orators, Fredrick Douglass's "My Bondage and My Freedom", who educated himself via a collection of classic forensic & oratorical speeches in the Columbian Orator - not because something said tonight reminded me of these speeches - please - but because absolutely nothing said tonight, reminded me of any of these speeches, or of those minds capable of and interested in grappling with them, or of a people interested in listening to that effort. The direction and theme of modern education (first floated in the 1830's, BTW), was that reading and learning the speeches of people like Cicero - the type of learning that our Founder's generation and America was formed from - was 'elitist'. Well, beyond who you or I believe 'won' or 'lost' this debate tonight - whether the debaters, the moderator, or a good chunk of the audience - what they most definitely did not bring to mind, was the image of important ideas, delivered in an eloquent and forceful manner, that once marked an educated American mind. What was on display tonight, was the fruit of the deadened heart and soul of modern education (get your kids out).

IOW, neither the debaters, moderator, commentators, showed an understanding of the importance of an educated - not schooled - mind, guiding or moderating their words and manners. There was no sign of the following, in this 'debate':
"... When I was about thirteen years old, and had succeeded in learning to read, every increase of knowledge, especially respecting the FREE STATES, added something to the almost intolerable burden of the thought—I AM A SLAVE FOR LIFE. To my bondage I saw no end. It was a terrible reality, and I shall never be able to tell how sadly that thought chafed my young spirit. Fortunately, or unfortunately, about this time in my life, I had made enough money to buy what was then a very popular school book, viz: the Columbian Orator. I bought this addition to my library, of Mr. Knight, on Thames street, Fell’s Point, Baltimore, and paid him fifty cents for it. I was first led to buy this book, by hearing some little boys say they were going to learn some little pieces out of it for the Exhibition. This volume was, indeed, a rich treasure, and every opportunity afforded me, for a time, was spent in diligently perusing it. Among much other interesting matter, that which I had perused and reperused with unflagging satisfaction, was a short dialogue between a master and his slave. The slave is represented as having been recaptured, in a second attempt to run away; and the master opens the dialogue with an upbraiding speech, charging the slave with ingratitude, and demanding to know what he has to say in his own defense. Thus upbraided, and thus called upon to reply, the slave rejoins, that he knows how little anything that he can say will avail, seeing that he is completely in the hands of his owner; and with noble resolution, calmly says, “I submit to my fate.” Touched by the slave’s answer, the master insists upon his further speaking, and recapitulates the many acts of kindness which he has performed toward the slave, and tells him he is permitted to speak for himself. Thus invited to the debate, the quondam slave made a spirited defense of himself, and thereafter the whole argument, for and against slavery, was brought out. The master was vanquished at every turn in the argument; and seeing himself to be thus vanquished, he generously and meekly emancipates the slave, with his best wishes for his prosperity. It is scarcely neccessary(sic) to say, that a dialogue, with such an origin, and such an ending—read when the fact of my being a slave was a constant burden of grief—powerfully affected me; and I could not help feeling that the day might come, when the well-directed answers made by the slave to the master, in this instance, would find their counterpart in myself.

This, however, was not all the fanaticism which I found in this Columbian Orator. I met there one of Sheridan’s mighty speeches, on the subject of Catholic Emancipation, Lord Chatham’s speech on the American war, and speeches by the great William Pitt and by Fox. These were all choice documents to me, and I read them, over and over again, with an interest that was ever increasing, because it was ever gaining in intelligence; for the more I read them, the better I understood them. The reading of[124] these speeches added much to my limited stock of language, and enabled me to give tongue to many interesting thoughts, which had frequently flashed through my soul, and died away for want of utterance. The mighty power and heart-searching directness of truth, penetrating even the heart of a slaveholder, compelling him to yield up his earthly interests to the claims of eternal justice, were finely illustrated in the dialogue, just referred to; and from the speeches of Sheridan, I got a bold and powerful denunciation of oppression, and a most brilliant vindication of the rights of man. Here was, indeed, a noble acquisition...."
No matter who you or I might've favored in the 'debate' tonight, none of the parties involved showed any notion that words and how you use them is important to living your life, none displayed anything worth aspiring to. It's safe to say that nothing from this debate will ever be positively used by anyone in the future - there will be no future 'Columbian Orator' containing any of the text of this evening. Does that matter? Well, do you really think that We The People will long survive having the power that America has, without having minds that even aspire to a familiarity with, let alone mastery of, the sound reasoning and eloquent expression of those ideas that alone can direct and restrain that brute power?

C'mon man.

That's a problem.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Supreme Court and We The People's lost opportunity costs

There's not much that I think I need to add to what I said on the last election year SCOTUS nomination four years ago, other than perhaps to re-emphasize a couple key points:
  • The President of the United States of America is elected to a term of four years, and during any day, hour, or minute of his term, he has the power to nominate a new Justice to the Supreme Court, with zero restrictions on that nomination as relates to the age, gender, race, political leanings or dying wishes, in who he chooses to nominate.
  • The nomination of a justice to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, by the President, obligates the Senate to give 'advice & consent' to that nomination.
Was it - technically speaking - giving 'advice & consent' to President Obama's nomination of Garland, for Senator Majority Leader McConnell to say that the senate would decline to approve any nominations made during that year? Sure. But it was a cowardly evasion of responsibility for the Senate to consent in doing so.

As Sen. McConnell obviously had the votes to decline to take up the nomination, he also had - if either he or his fellow senators took their responsibilities seriously - the votes necessary to properly examine the nomination of Merrick Garland, and if they had done so, they would easily and rapidly have found abundant evidence (some of which I pointed out in this post) that Merrick Garland, due to egregious and deliberate misinterpretations of our constitution, and an appalling lack of respect for the individual rights of the citizens of the United States of America, was manifestly unfit to sit upon the Supreme Court. Not only did they have the votes to do that, they also had the rare opportunity to demonstrate and teach the American people, and the anti-American contingent amongst us, exactly why nominees such as Garland were unfit for office on the SCOTUS, or in any branch or agency of our nation's government.

But the GOP led Senate punted instead. Opting for the juvenile (and soon to be empowering) 'no nomination will be considered', option.

The fruit of that pathetic 'easy out' have been on abundant display in the media, such as when former Clinton campaign chairman and chief of staff George Stephanopoulos, now charting unbiased news (*cough*cough* B.S fake news*cough*cough*) on Sunday mornings for ABC, to ask Sen. Cruz:
"Do you have the votes ... to confirm before the election?"
, as well as with Sen. Graham's confident assertion that
“We’ve got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election,”
to push through Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election, based upon counting political noses alone, without any regard for the qualifications of the Justice being nominated to the court, which is unavoidable, as that potential justice HAS NOT EVEN BEEN NAMED YET.

Additionally, past performance being a definite influencer of future action, it also helped shape the appalling spectacle of the President of the United States of America, being heckled while paying his respects to the deceased Justice Ginsberg at the Supreme Court's building, to the despicably barbaric caterwauling of those who've been been burning up our cities, tearing down our statues, and spitting upon the United States of America in general and directly and indirectly heaping vitriol upon the Constitution by which We The People formed our nation through.

There is, and necessarily always has been, a political component to nominating and voting upon justices for the Supreme Court - and there should be, that represents our, you know, We The People's, voice. But where it should be an aspect of the process, it has now, through a long, long, string of events across decades, it has now become the primary step in all such nominations, and Justice, and We The People, can only be the poorer for it.

President Trump has the absolute constitutional power to name a new justice to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, yesterday, today, and every day until the end of his term. I just wish that through the costs of all of the lost opportunities, I could see equally clear evidence that We The People are deserving and worthy of it.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Shouldn't you be concerned that your calling ''Whataboutism!', makes it all about about you?

The word 'about' can be interesting in the way it often directs our attention. It can send us on towards where it's wise to go, but more often than not, it sends us on to where it's easier & more pleasing to go, while dragging you and all of your baggage along with it. If you've seen such matters playing out with your otherwise reasonable friends, probably especially over the last few weeks, you know how disturbing it can be. But what about if it's you?

Of course the most obvious example of this today, is where our attention tends to go to at the mere mention of a certain person's name (perhaps one comes to mind for you?), and as the pitch and intensity of the voice audibly rises - an inflection so pronounced that it's even detectable through text - how aware are we that others might be aware of that inflection point in us as well?

It's something worth being concerned about, because it's concerning to see - words matter, and your use of them matters, and because ideas - or the lack of them - have consequences, even for yourself.

Don't be this person
You should be concerned about what happens to you through your words, as when, following that inflection point, you allow your words to describe the person in question in cartoonishly one-dimensional terms - pro or con - it's disturbing for others to listen to. Are you are aware that since what your words describe (in outrageous charges or praises & inappropriate terms) are not describing someone who's recognizably human, they're unlikely to influence the other person's thoughts about the inflected person in question? So not only are they wasted words, but more to the point, as such feverish descriptions are unworthy of serious consideration, do you really think that your words are going to let you escape from serious reconsideration, for having said them?

And then there's the point where 'About' can lead us eagerly unawares into false assumptions about what we're even being asked to think about.

For instance, for most people, when someone has brought up an unexpected over reaction to a scenario, it's a typical reaction, and a very reasonable response, for them to bring up a similar situation, so as to ask what led you to be inflamed about the one, and yet dismissive of the other. That is not an attempt to ignore whatever problem it is that you're inflamed about, but an effort to discover how you distinguish one from the other, in order to either see what they themselves might have missed, or to point out something significant in what you might have missed.

But, the year 2020 being what it is, today such questions as honestly asking 'but... what about...' can come freighted with so many false assumptions, blind spots, and baffling misdirections, as to get you accused of fallacious reasoning for daring to try to understand the other person's outrageous position. For myself, I confess I can't help myself from, not infrequently, dropping an 'about' like a banana peel in their verbal path, just to see if the inflected person I'm talking to will watch their step and consider the nature of the question asked, or... will they instead blindly skip on down the path of the easy out, escaping into charges of 'Whataboutism!', making the issue less about the question involved, than their own inability to reasonably consider any questioning of their inflection point at all.

If you've been lucky enough to not be familiar with the newly re-popularized charge of 'Whataboutism!', it's a tactic that was last popular with defenders of the USSR, as a means of escaping attention and judgement for something that was clearly wrong, by citing what might narrowly and ambiguously be called a similar situation, with the implication being that by means of that thin similarity, you are no better than they, and so have no moral authority to denounce their actions. For instance, Americans might once upon a time have brought up the USSR's political persecution of Solzhenitsyn's freedom of speech, or the killings of the unexpectedly politically incorrect such as Leon Trotsky, at the hands of KGB assassins, to which the defender of communism might've responded with "What about America's persecution of Al Capone for breaking the IRS's rules, or the FBI's killing of John Dillinger?!", essentially 'arguing' that 'Two wrongs make... it all, alright'.

That is what 'Whataboutism!' is all about, using false comparisons and ambiguities to deflect and escape from the task of making, or facing up to making, an honest evaluation.

It is not 'Whataboutism!', however, to ask about a reasonably similar situation in order to try to identify and clarify what you think makes the two things different, but it is a form of 'Whataboutism!', when you attempt to evade making those clarifications by calling their effort 'Whataboutism!'!

And so, yes, with that very much in mind, I'll often ask a person about a similar scenario, with particular attention to my use of the word 'about', in asking something along the lines of:
"I see that you're upset about this, but what about when [Trump, Obama, Bush 43, Hillary, Clinton, Bush 41, Perot, Reagan, Carter, etc., etc., etc.,] did something similar with '__[yada, yada, yada]__'?"
, for myself at least, my 'about' actually is an effort to get the person I'm talking with, to give their judgment of the differences between the issues; but the point of my comment is not only what [etc., etc., etc.] did when doing '[yada, yada, yada]', but what their own reaction to the comparison in question, was. Not the '[yada, yada, yada]' itself, or the [etc., etc., etc.] who did it, and NOT whether they themselves approved or disapproved of it, but what their response to that situation was then, and what their response is to making a reasonable comparison to it, now.

IOW, the About in question is NOT 'about' either situation in question, but their own ability, or inability, to reasonably consider and respond to their own inflection point. And if they were able to respond reasonably to that instance of '[yada, yada, yada]' by [etc., etc., etc.] then, what do you suppose it is about the person in question, that causes their voice and intensity to rise so high, and their own reasonability to fall so low?

Hmm? What about me? I'll admit... though I don't think there are any people who inflame me like that, there are some topics that can quickly get a rise out of me, but I'm aware of and on the lookout for those situations, and being aware of your own weaknesses, means that they're unlikely to escape your attention for more than a moment, and will rarely drive you through an entire argument. 

For some such inflection point to routinely drive you into instant and lengthy rants, or to in any way direct or drive you through your days, implies not only a lack of awareness about yourself, but about what's important in your life, and doesn't wasting your time on words without meaning, mean that you're missing out on what it should all be about?

Are you aware of your own inflection points?

You should be aware that when your words have no visible basis in reality, not only are they are unlikely to cause another person to think differently about the person in question, but they likely will cause many of us to have 2nd thoughts (and often 3rd & 4th ones) about you, and about your ability to think about [etc., etc., etc.& '[yada, yada, yada]', today.

Don't get me wrong, there may be an argument to be made for the 'side' you see yourself as promoting, but you aren't making it! And you're damn sure not helping to spread it.

In this case at least, in jumping to the easy out of 'about', you only succeed in making the issue all about you.

I think you might want to think about that.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Happy Constitution Day - The 233rd Birthday of considering the greatest of all reflections on the perils of human nature

Today, a day that hasn't warranted a 'Google Doodle', is the 233rd birthday of the United States Constitution. Peruse it or lose it... and the liberty it was written to preserve. What was signed as completed upon this day, two hundred and thirty-three years ago, September 17th, 1787, by thirty-nine of the fifty-five Framers, was the Constitution of the United States of America, and whether you stand in respect for, or disrespectfully turn away from, the Flag, the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance, you do so in reference to that document which is the oldest existing instrument of its kind, still in operation.

Why?

Is it simply a list of rules for governing by? Is it nothing more than a favorite fossil of 'white people'? A document of oppression? Frederick Douglass once thought so, but because he was a thinker in order to understand what was true, he didn't stop with answers that were given him by others, but continued on thinking upon the matter, and discovered the Truth which such vile falsehoods seek to smother and erase.

But today I'm really not much concerned with your answers to those 'points', but am only interested in whether or not you are familiar with the ideas, principles and purposes which animated the writing of it - are you? And if not... what worth can your opinion - pro or con - have for me, or for anyone else?

Whether you mouth its praises, or make showy protests against it, without understanding what it is you are referencing - your praises and protestations fail to even rise to the level of being wrong, they are but verbal dust to be brushed away, meaningless and of no consequence. But if you are one of that thoughtless many, you may take comfort in the knowledge that you are in the happy company of millions of such Pavlovian 'Conservatives', Pro-Regressive Leftists and Libertarians, for whom the United States Constitution is little more than a paper bell which they bark at.

But for those of you who do see it, not as a mere object of ink upon paper, for those of you who don't insult the memory of they who strove to produce it as having been anything other than men of flesh and blood, for you who understand that it was written so as to give physical form to, and to best enable, the implementation of some of the greatest political ideas of Western Civilization -
  • that Individual Rights result from the nature of being human("...are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."),
  • that men who understand that are capable of self governance,
  • that well ordered argument can lead to a self-correcting means of governance,
  • that such a system, established by such a people, can enable lives lived in liberty while in society with others, so long as the beast of Power is bound down and limited by laws whose purpose is to uphold and defend the Individual Rights of every person
, and that for such a people, intellectually armed through a document such as this, Liberty is possible.

But it is only possible for those who understand that.

For those intemperate folk who simply wish to sing the praises of, or rain curses down upon, that

Friday, September 11, 2020

Remember, Remember the 11th of September

Remember, Remember the 11th of September
And now it is September 11th once again, and once again it is time to remember. We remember September 11th because of what happened upon September 11th, 2001. September 11th is not 'Patriot's Day', and it's damn sure not 'a day of service' (other than military service). September 11th, 2001 is a day to remember that the full brutality and destruction that man is capable of was deliberately visited upon America in New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville Pennsylvania. We should remember. We should reflect. Those responsible should have been and should be destroyed, and those whose negligence had enabled it, and those who excuse it, and those who minimize it, should be despised and reviled by all who remember. We must remember so that the horror of September 11th, 2001 is confined to the past and is not allowed to slip past us and out into another clear blue sky in the future.

Screw healing.

We should pick at the wound, keep it burning. Remember the parents on the plane heading in to strike the Towers, their child sitting next to them... remember the people in the Tower on the phone to 911, crying, scared, burning from the heat, and then screaming as the impossible happened, the tower collapsed beneath them into nothingness. Remember the wives, husbands, children, of those who just went to work that day, and had their lives and world stolen from them by islambie thugs.

Remember that no matter what idiot politician or educationista prattles... we are a people who have known, and still know freedom and liberty and law, a people who believe it is good to live a moral life and pursue our happiness where we see fit to choose to. Remember that there are alleged human beings who wish nothing more than to destroy that possibility.

Remember Sept. 11, 2001. Be angry, feel hatred, seek the destruction of those who seek yours. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do so, and remember that those who lost their lives, and those who have since given their lives in this cause, have hallowed this day far beyond and above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say today, but History - in reflection and action - will remember what happened, and it will take note of whether or not we remember. It will take note of whether or not we take note of those who had taken, and those who have given, the last full measure of devotion -- and it will judge whether or not we here are highly resolved that these dead shall not have died in vain; whether or not this nation, shall continue to give birth to, and stand up for and defend freedom, and it shall judge from that, whether or not government of the people by the people for the people, shall, or shall not perish from the earth.

And it will judge and act accordingly.

Remember September 11, 2001.

In remembering what happened on September 11th, 17 years ago, I've patched this post together from a number of memories and posts and comments I've made from then to now. Where they began, of course, was on the morning of September 11th, 2001, when my wife, who was a flight attendant with TWA, called me as I was driving into work on I-70, just passing through Earth City, to tell me a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.

I was thinking a Cessna, but she said it sounded like it was larger, the impact too large. I knew a plane had once hit the Empire State building on a stormy night, but she said the weather looked clear, how could that be possible? As we were talking, another jet hit the other tower.

That made it clear what was going on, we decided that she'd pick the boys up from school and bring them home.

I continued on into work, and news came that another plane had hit the Pentagon.

A blue streak of horror and animal fury blasted back at my radio as the news came that one of the towers was collapsing. As I walked into work, 7th floor of A.G. Edwards, people were crowded around the T.V. in the lobby and the second tower came down.

I went to to my desk, one of the guys there was trying to get a hold of his son who worked in one of the World Trade Center towers. I to our project coordinator and told him I wouldn't be working that day, and headed for home.

I told the boys the obvious as we watched the news, that the world had just changed, we were at war, and nothing would be the same.

To those who want to think of this day as a time for healing or a day of service, Fuck You. We are not going back to the reflexive evasion of reality which is what made this day possible.

Political Correctness began its well deserved death that day ten years ago today, it may be a long, agonizingly slow death, fitting perhaps for the cancer that it is, but it was the beginning of the end of the view that it is in any way good or proper to pretend a lie can pretty up the truth.

The lie is nothing but darkest evil, and the light of Truth chases, confines and obliterates it... as we have, and will do, to those who did this evil – you are nothing, and to nothingness you will be returned.

And yet there are those who will shake their head and ask "How do you kill an idea?"

How do you kill an idea? If it is an idea that people are not open to discussing, an idea that will not tolerate reasonable alternatives, an idea that requires your death or your submission, then the answer to that question is a very simple one:

You cannot defeat an idea.

All you can do is make physically certain that those of the enemy who might survive a war with you, would live in constant fear and dread at the thought of that idea ever again being in their head, let alone upon their lips. You cannot defeat an idea, you can only make people determined to no longer entertain them, because of the memory of the war they fought with you over it, and the fear of the possibility of such a conflict ever happening again, is too painful to think about

How do you kill an idea? By killing its hosts, and causing everyone else to fear and dread the thought of thinking it.

Screw healing.

We should pick at the wound, keep it burning. Remember the parents on the plane heading in to strike the Towers, their child sitting next to them... remember the people in the Tower on the phone to 911, crying, scared, burning from the heat, and then screaming as the impossible happened, the tower collapsed beneath them into nothingness. Remember the wives, husbands, children, of those who just went to work that day, and had their lives and world stolen from them by islambie thugs.

Remember that no matter what idiot politician or educationista prattles... we are a people who have known, and still know freedom and liberty and law, a people who believe it is good to live a moral life and pursue our happiness where we see fit to choose to. Remember that there are alleged human beings who wish noting more than to destroy that possibility.

Remember Sept. 11, 2001. Be angry, feel hatred, seek the destruction of those who seek yours. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do so, and remember that those who lost their lives, and those who have since given their lives in this cause, have hallowed this day far beyond and above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say today, but it will remember what happened, and it will take note of whether or not we remember.

A proper foreign policy is "Mind your own business & we'll mind ours. Mess with us or ours, and we'll destroy you. Period."

Anything less, reasoning with those who are unreasonable, giving measured responses in reply to savagery, etc., are concessions and only serve to enable those who wish us harm.

Perhaps more than anything else, remember that forgetting how and why the attacks of 9-11 were made possible, guarantees that its horrors will be revisited upon us, courtesy of our willful inability to recognize their approach, and the cost of that will be history rhyming itself once again, as the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more:

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Please, try to remember 9/11 as the lesson we won't have to learn once more.

Reality will not be denied, and Evil will not be turned aside because you choose to turn away from it. Deny that, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return. Please. Just face the facts and learn the lesson so we don't have to learn it once more.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Prior to 'Never Forget', how about 'Try to remember...'

We know that tomorrow is the 19th year since 9/11/2001, but something that struck me this morning, was that 19 years ago today, 9/10/2011, was the last day of the world as it was before... the next day. A few things come to mind... do you remember what that felt like?

Try to remember what it felt like, to stroll into the airport, maybe with little kids in tow, and dashing down the concourses, all the way out to the gate so they could watch the plane pull up to the jetway? Craning their necks, maybe hoisting the littlest onto the shoulders to be able to catch first sight of their Mom or Grandparents coming off the plane? 

Try to remember what it felt like when people still were conscious that they should behave as if they had manners - even if they failed, even if we thought it was bad even then, try to remember how much better the worst then, was to what is routinely thrown at us through the media today?

Try to remember what it felt like before your privacy was routinely 'snooped' on and monitored?

Try to remember what it felt like, before Google, Twitter, Facebook and all the other Social Media platforms made it possible for someone, anyone, to 'search' your past comments and pictures and embarrass you, make thousands of strangers infuriated at you, and possibly lose your job or place in society? Try to remember what it felt like to make a comment, or a joke, without that at the back of your mind?

Try to remember what it felt like when everyone assumed your gender based upon your being male or female, and most were repulsed by openly Marxist organizations?

Try to remember what it felt like before having people routinely rioting in our streets?

Try to remember what it was like before athletes took a knee for the National Anthem.

Try to remember what it was like before you began to realize that the leaders in our school systems were opposed to America (they were then too, but most of us didn't realize it).

Try to remember what it felt like when schools didn't openly try to keep parents from 'listening in on' their children's lessons, or attempt to help their kids 'come out' as transgender?

Try to remember what it felt like to be sure that no matter our bitterest political disagreements, there was no doubt that we'd come together after any disaster, natural or otherwise.

Try to remember what it felt like to not feel concerned that you might be targeted for identifying as an American in the company of other Americans?

Try to remember what it felt like,

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow...
Try to remember when life was so tender
That no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That dreams were kept beside your pillow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That love was an ember about to billow.

Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow...
Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
Altho' you know that snow will follow.
Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
Without a hurt the heart is hollow.
Deep in December, it's nice to remember
The fire of September that made us mellow.

Deep in December our hearts should remember,
And follow...



Monday, September 07, 2020

Sit down Karen, management can't solve our school systems' problems - Education or School Systems pt 5

We've gone through the nature of our school reforms, their 'progressive' ideas and purposes, deceptive lessons being taught, and the systemic nature of our school systems failings which puts them and the education they deliver into fundamental opposition to not only America, but to the idea and purpose of education itself. Those reasons, and more, are what had prompted my too unpopular opinion, that
"The schools being closed is the best thing to happen in 2020 - why would you want to reverse that?!"
, and to ask why would you send students or teachers back into our school systems, especially today, when other options are appearing everyday for both students and teachers?

In this post I'll touch on those new options and link to more information on them, but first I want to point out the recklessness of assuming that some of the other options available - namely Charter & Private schools - are in any meaningful way, inherently different from the Public schools, as if there's something in their names which makes them fundamentally different or immune from what has ruined the rest of our school systems - there is not. To be sure, there are good Charter schools, and there are good Private schools, but they are good because of their own defining goals and methods, not simply by dint of being a private or charter school - there is more to the matter than what is in a name.

If you ask me why I say that, I'll turn the question around and ask: Why would you think that they would be meaningfully different? Are you going to judge a school by its cover? What is the educational 'change' you are truly looking for... school management?! Sit down Karen, that's not going to get you anywhere. Nothing will actually change if you aren't actually changing the part that drove you to call for change in the first place!

What changes can you expect the 'charter' & 'private' names to somehow bring you, when their administrators, councilors, curriculum writers, textbook buyers, and yes, even teachers, are all sporting the same degrees, PhD's, and years of training in 'progressive' educational theories, attitudes and the purposes for it, from the same colleges and teaching schools which have little to no interest in providing an education that'll help your child to become an independent, capable and virtuous person? What change can come of delivering much of the same publicly approved curriculum, in the same manner, with the same purpose, and targeted to the same all important state standards? True, changing brands may get you a more skilled and efficient (and expensive) delivery system in management and staff, encouraging better behaved students, and enabling teachers to be more effective, which sounds great, until you stop to consider that what that amounts to is getting a better grade of the same materials - the 'cream of the crap', as it were - with a more efficient means of administering the state approved daily dosage of educational poison.

I'm disinclined to choose that as an option.

To think that switching from public schools, to Charter or Private Schools, based on nothing more than the 'quality' of their delivery system, is to forget, or worse, to ignore, that our schools are not simply accidentally neglecting to do what they should do and once did, but are fundamentally opposed to what they once did, and to why it was done. It's worth noting that the assistant principal rioting for BLM in this video from Rochester, NY, is a graduate of those same standards, is considered by those standards to be educated, and he is, he has been, and he will continue to be, guiding teachers in the education of their students (though, he will be spoken about his bad words). What possibility of 'Change' do you see there? Unless what needs to be changed and expunged is clearly identified, there will be no change brought by changing the names of the schools management from public, to charter or private.

When a problem becomes intolerable, it is in our nature to want to try and fix it, or failing that, to want to change to something new, but have you also have noticed that it seems to be in people's nature that when they've become dissatisfied with a familiar product, that they rarely choose to change to something that is really and truly new? Instead they tend to look for a difference that they're familiar with, and such moves tend to deliver all of the 'difference' of switching from a Chevy Camaro to a Pontiac Firebird, either unaware or unconcerned that both are GM products, built from the same design, and parts, and with little but cosmetic differences between them. There are also those who, having 'done their own research' into sportscars, might choose a Ford Mustang instead (or maybe even a Porsche), without ever considering how fundamentally different any of those options are from what they should have been seeking to begin with. Of course picking and choosing between appearances and effects is fine if what you are needing really is a sportscar, but what if unbeknownst to you, what you should be seeking isn't a sportscar, or even a car at all?

What if in this analogy, you, your father & grandfather, who have all been fine with picking between sedans & sportscars, did so because all were unaware that your great grandfather was made to settle for a token car because - for his own good - he had lost the opportunity to choose from the well furnished homes that his father & grandfathers had had the luxury of choosing from? And if you discovered that that was the case, wouldn't you, shouldn't you, be angrily questioning why your grandfather, your father and yourself weren't given the option of choosing and furnishing a home, but were by omission made to settle for a flashy way of fleeing one?

You might think my analogy is an odd one, but it seems less odd as you consider just how different our modern school systems - public, private, charter - are, from the structure, materials and purposes of the traditional education that America began with, and was formed from. Today's school systems presents us with the 'sportscar' option of education as the means of equipping you with the skills useful in 'getting a good job' to take you from here to there, and in that scenario getting an education that takes you farther and faster in terms of delivering more economic bang for your buck, seems very sensible indeed.

OTOH, a traditional education was directed towards enabling a student to live well, here and now and into the future, being fully capable of living well in any 'there' that the course of your life might take your 'here and now' to. To that end, education didn't concentrate on imparting the skills useful for the jobs of the moment (a usefulness which can change in the blink of an eye from needing those who can operate a lathe, to those who can 'write computer code', leaving a person who's learned little more than 'useful skills' with skills that've become useless), but with transmitting the timeless knowledge and principles of what was once called a 'well furnished mind', a mind, as Cicero put it,
"... so constituted as to be furnished with senses, and to have excellence of intellect which the whole nature of man obeys, in which there is a certain admirable force of reason, and knowledge, and science, and all kinds of virtues; for the things which are parts of the body have no authority to be compared with that possessed by the parts of the mind..."
, to George Turnbull’s "Observations upon Liberal Education.in All Its Branches" (1742)
"...The way therefore to judge whether education be upon a right footing or not, is to compare it with this end; or to consider what it does in order to accomplish youth for choosing and behaving well in the various conditions, relations, and incidents of life. If education be calculated and adapted to furnish young minds betimes with proper knowledge for their guidance and direction in the chief affairs of the world, and in the principal vicissitudes to which human concerns are subject, then is it indeed proper or right education. But if such instruction be not the principal scope to which all other lessons are rendered subservient in what is called the institution of youth, either the art of living and acting well is not man’s most important business, or what ought to be the chief end of education is neglected, and sacrificed to something of far inferior moment...."
, so that the educated person, whether schooled at home, in grammar school, or college, became an informed, independent, capable and virtuous person, capable of acquiring any skills that the moment might require.

Such systems of schooling as varied as traditional and modern education are, are as varied and at odds as the students they 'produce', as are their reactions to the world they did or didn't expect to find. The person with a well furnished mind is at home in their life no matter the circumstances of the moment, and sees those circumstances as being temporary and open to improvement, and when improvements are identified as being dire, will pledge their lives and sacred honor to improving them. The person trained only in getting from here to there, will never feel at home anywhere, and they will stop at nothing in their efforts to get away from here and to the mythical land of 'there' while spewing F'bombs and pledging to F'up any and all of those in their way.

What a century of school reforms have brought us, are numerous changes in making distinctions that make no difference, and have saddled us with modern educators who consider the Assistant Principal in the video above, to be in good standing with the standards of modern education. Such standards have also given us college professors who argue that it should be legal for grown men to have sex with children, as well as educators in Fayette Co. Schools who word quizzes for 5th graders that 'targeting law enforcement' to appear to be the bad guys, as well as a college professor & author declaring that: ‘They Have Deputized All White People To Murder Us’. It should come as no surprise at all that these same standards of education are being fully represented in the course offerings for first year students at the College of Washington and Lee, with a class in "How to Overthrow the State", which gives a fine demonstration of the logical ends that scholastic weasel wording such as this:
"...exercises emphasizing writing as a process. All sections stress active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis..."
, inevitably leads to, because it is inherent in the nature of our school systems. Why do I say that? Because 'Writing as a process' is concerned only with the process of quickly getting 'from here to there', and not in considering how right and true that either here or there might be, 'active reading' is typically a means of conditioning readers to scan for keywords and virtue signals, and 'various methods of critical analysis' is wacademese for the pragmatic pursuit of power for ends which justify any and all means. That knowledge and those virtues that would have given some meaning to the 'education' that our systems lie about delivering, is, as it must be, nowhere to be found. I'm not going to say more here on that, lest another ten pages of HTML should spring up on the spot, but you can find it in my blog, or a more brief clue to it here.

It is what it is
If what you think of as being the purpose of education, is no different from those who changed and reduced our school systems into what they are today, what 'change!' do you expect to get by changing from Public to Charter or Private School? And why do you expect any? If you do not know what you are changing from, or for what purpose change might be needed, then you may very well make choices whose actual changes amount to distinctions without a difference, and the opportunities that will be unknowingly lost to the lives of those so 'educated', will be tragically unlimited.

But hey, 'Good job', on getting a 'good' education so you can go out and get a 'good' job, right? I'd warn against dwelling too long on what might be meant by 'good' in any part of that, but... given such an education, there's probably no need to.

What can you do? Look closer at the assumptions you're making in what you are changing from, as well as what you are changing to, and why. Don't make a change based upon what are popularly assumed to be 'the answers', but on what answers follow from asking worthwhile questions. Why are you contemplating sending yourself or your child to school for years? What do you seek to gain in exchange for the years of life that will be invested into that new system? When considering 'school choice', start at the beginning: What are they teaching and why are they teaching it? If they don't give you a very different answer from 'to get a good job!', then that choice is simply choosing a Firebird or Mustang over a Camaro, while leaving yourself homeless. The choice to settle for a change in management and materials which in and of itself is all the change that public, charter or private schools amount to, will change nothing of value or consequence in regards to receiving an education that's worthy of the name.

When I participated in the push a few years ago in Missouri to reform our school curriculum, I was reminded that our school systems were the first and true genesis of the 'deep state', as I saw firsthand as the bureaucracy of the state dept of education, disregarded and dismissed the stated aims of our legislator's laws, and chewed our reforms up and spat them out, without swerving from or slowing the 'progress' of their goals in the least. The problems are systemic, they are fundamental to the entire structure & purpose of our school systems in what they are and what they were designed to accomplish and why, and they have been there from their creation, a design flaw that has only intensified, expanded, and metastasized their 'unintended' side-effects throughout our school systems, and into our society today. And remember that the path that led to where we are today, began with our turning away from the aims of a traditional education to equip us with the 'useless' skills of being at home anywhere in a 'well furnished mind', to fleeing it in a 'sportscar' for rushing off from here to there with little or no understanding of either location or your part in it.

When you listen to the words of the assistant principal, when you see the faces of the mostly upper middle class antifa & BLM supporters who are violent in manner, language, and even physically assaulting bystanders, police, the elderly and even pregnant mothers, look at their faces. Don't make the mistake of being swayed into thinking that their presumed wealth, class, race, religion, or even their political affiliations, are of any real significance - they're not. What is significant is that you're seeing the self satisfied and thoughtlessly sure faces of what humanity looks like, when it lacks an education worth having - even though most have had lengthy and inestimably expensive educations in the schools that We The People have paid for, and insisted they attend, in order to 'get a degree and get a good job'; faces that are entirely concerned with getting from here to there, and with no thought wasted on what either here or there truly is, or what it'll mean when that distant 'there' becomes their ever present 'here'. That brutality of language and action IS the product of just such an 'educational system' as that, and has been blatantly obvious for those who've bothered to look at the evidence that has been there for all to see, for at least fifty years now. It was once understood that, as James V. Schall noted in his "A Student’s Guide to Liberal Learning", that:
"...The person who was most free was the one who had the most control over himself. The person who was most unfree was the one who was ruled by pleasures, money, or power..."
, a person at home in their well-furnished mind, is in control of themselves, and free, that is what 'to educate' once meant. These people in our streets today are not displaying self-control, they are not free, and they don't want liberty for themselves or for you, they passionately want to get from here to there by any means necessary, and if they think that punching you in the face means getting closer to 'there', they are unquestionably sure that those ends justify their means.

And people are wanting to send students and teachers back into them?

These concerns were easier to brush off when people still at least aped the manners leftover from the fruits of an earlier education, but that is no longer the case today, and now that we are here in the place that we are, we all need to stop doing it. What excuse can there be for sending students or teachers into a system that welcomes treating the horrifically murderous ideology of Socialism & Communism, as a basis for after-school clubs?! Does that really sound like a 'good idea' to you? Why would you choose the 'option' to send your children to be taught by people you do not know, and do not know what it is that they intend by 'educating' students, and who have little or no choice but to teach to an agenda that was designed by people that they know nothing of, in order to bring us to where we are today - students who not only lack an understanding and regard for the finest achievements of Western Civilization, but despise them? There is no longer an excuse for sending students or teachers into a system, whose products are on display in the faces of these brutal zealots who are tearing up our streets and tearing down our statues.

We live in a time that is in desperate need of people who'll read and think and discuss ideas with others, yet for the last several decades most of us have been taught to scan 'informational text' to answer 'fill in the blank' & 'multiple choice' worksheets, and to 'take a stand' on popular positions, as visibly as possible. Resist. Think beyond the easy answer. If something sounds good to you... ask "why?', ask what premises it presumes & depends upon, and also 'what would follow from that?' and continue that at least three levels deep. Bad things follow when people rush after what sounds good. Resist 'change!' that changes nothing.

We don't need new means of putting cheap old wine into new skins, we just need good wine
Again, it seems to me to be important to ask: Why send kids (or teachers) back into a system of such proven failures? It is too late for the management approach today, modern educational theory deeply influences and guides the ideas, actions and materials, of even those who think they are 'reforming the system' - but the fact is that you can't reform a process that is intended to eliminate the system it operates in. It must be ended. Nothing else will 'work'.

Fortunately there are new and exciting developments that have been spontaneously popping up around the nation since the school closures began, in the form of alternatives that are being led by both parents and many good and dedicated teachers, and new businesses seeking to connect them to do what they love - teach - to the kids of ten to fifteen families, in the form of 'micro-schools' or 'learning pods'. "Introduction to Micro-schools - Katherine Curry and Jackie Mania
What is a micro school? A new wave of tiny schools is sweeping the country offering new options for parents, teachers, and students. Although there is no common definition that covers all micro schools, the understanding that students benefit from personalized learning with close access to teachers is creating an interest in reinventing the one-room schoolhouse where the emphasis is on individual student growth. Micro schools vary in size, approach and governance, and these schools “model a combination of one-room schoolhouse, blended learning, home schooling and private schooling” (Horn, 2015, para. 2).

What is unique about a micro school? Learning environments vary considerably among micro schools. Students may attend school only a few days each week, or they may attend in a more traditional, five days each week, schedule. What these schools have in common is that they offer personalized learning, access to teachers at a very low ratio, innovative approaches to pedagogy, and “a fidelity to personalization and success for all in small communities” (Horn, 2015).

In most micro schools, class size is limited to fifteen students or less, and many schools encourage mixed age level groupings. Classes meet less frequently and can be taught through a flipped classroom or blended learning approach. Class time usually involves hands-on, activity based learning that often pairs students with experts in their fields. Lectures, worksheets and book work are replaced with carefully constructed activities that foster the individual growth of students. These schools often develop content and curriculum that inspire passion for learning through real world application...."
I hope it goes without saying, that 'Micro-Schools' by name alone won't significantly alter the nature of the education they deliver, from that of public, charter or private school, but they do put it much more easily within your grasp to ensure that such a change is made, and to do so intelligently, and in concert with others of similar interests and goals. The key is to choose an education to help students develop into well informed individuals with an intellectually integrated understanding of the habits, knowledge and aims of Western Civilization (Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian), with a strong emphasis on striving to live up to its ideals of truth and justice, for the purpose of enabling a student to become a virtuous and independent person capable of living a good life, in a society blessed with liberty. A person so equipped has, as Mortimer Adler described, has,
"... a good mind, well disciplined and its present process of inquiring and judging, knowing and understanding, and well furnished with knowledge, well cultivated by ideas."
, and is self-evidently a benefit to themselves and to their community, because they will tend to be more consciously capable of distinguishing, and choosing to do, what is wise and true, because they understand that to be a greater value to themselves and their community. That, and not the schools attended or degrees accumulated in them, will mark them as being Educated.

I've been asking this question of why we should continue sending either students or teachers into our school systems for some time now, and I've been getting answers from parents and from teachers which quite understandably expresses their anxiety over the desperate circumstances that ending our school systems would incur upon them, ranging from what to do with their kids so that they can work, to not being able to afford other options, to - especially by older teachers - not being able to risk their careers, and I understand their well founded and very real concerns. Parents, students, teachers, community - are undeniably in a very difficult situation.

And of course those concerns, valid as they are, don't address the point of the question, which is that if the system is not only broken, but is visibly harming students, and teachers, communities and the nation itself, is preserving your comfort and convenience really the answer you want to go on record for excusing it with? How many more years do you imagine that this system will be able to sustain - or will even be interested in sustaining - those benefits you are currently in fear of losing? Aren't those difficulties going to be easier to deal with now, today, than they will be with each passing day of more 'education' that the assistant principals in our school systems will have injected into our lives?

I can't help thinking of Jefferson's description of the difficulties surrounding another peculiar institution, and how successive years of kicking it down the road to another year, turned out in the end:
"...But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other..."
That our schools are closed is such a bizarre and unexpected gift of 2020, I urge you, please, don't squander it, and don't be duped by the sham of frantically seeking to get from here to there, that calls for 'change!' that changes nothing. What we are facing today is what our school systems' designs could not avoid producing, no matter what their intentions might have been. Let them go.

We are facing a deadly virus today, and it is most definitely spread through our school systems - stop sending in your students and teachers to be infected by them.

******************************************************

Here's a selection of some of the more interesting links I've found, in no particular order, or endorsement, other than as a means of getting a wider perspective on Micro-Schools and Learning Pods:
Introduction to Micro-schools - Katherine Curry and Jackie Mania
"What is a micro school? A new wave of tiny schools is sweeping the country offering new options for parents, teachers, and students. Although there is no common definition that covers all micro schools, the understanding that students benefit from personalized learning with close access to teachers is creating an interest in reinventing the one-room schoolhouse where the emphasis is on individual student growth. Micro schools vary in size, approach and governance, and these schools “model a combination of one-room schoolhouse, blended learning, home schooling and private schooling...” (Horn, 2015, para. 2)"

Microschooling Is The Decades-Old Relic That Is Becoming The Latest Education Trend
Families are looking into microschooling amid the coronavirus pandemic. By Meghan SchillerAugust 17, 2020 at 9:15 pm

Families Priced Out of ‘Learning Pods’ Seek Alternatives
Should public school systems provide teachers for small-group instruction?

Pods, Microschools and Tutors: Can Parents Solve the Education Crisis on Their Own?
As school openings remain in flux, families grapple with big questions about safety, money and politics.

What is pod learning and why are they putting districts on the defensive?

'Pandemic pods' and 'micro-schools': How parents are finding ways to help their kids — and themselves — manage schooling at home
By Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune 7/30/2020

Parents turn to microschooling as distance learning begins in Clark County
KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas•August 24, 2020

Problematic Women: Back to School, Sort of, and the Future of Education
Virginia Allen / @Virginia_Allen5 / Lauren Evans / @laurenelizevans / August 27, 2020 / 4 Comments

Here's how many more students will be home-schooled in Maricopa County this fall
Lily Altavena - Arizona Republic

Pandemic Lessons: Homecoming, Homeschooling, and the Home Economy

Many parents don't know about these small group teaching methods for remote learning
By Kristin Thorne - Thursday, August 27, 2020 5:56PM

Families Priced Out of ‘Learning Pods’ Seek Alternatives
Should public school systems provide teachers for small-group instruction?

Pods, Microschools and Tutors: Can Parents Solve the Education Crisis on Their Own?
As school openings remain in flux, families grapple with big questions about safety, money and politics.
By Melinda Wenner Moyer - Updated Aug. 18, 2020

I Run a Tutoring Company. I Get Dozens of Calls a Day About Learning Pods.
This is what the scramble to teach from home looks like. BRIAN PLATZER AUGUST 12, 2020