Who Are Doctors Who? Not That Kind of Doctor

15 11 2011

Learning is fun, not work. Schooling is work, not education. . . I believe school screws up such lessons as these, and all the hapless [not-very-doctor-like] folks who receive them.

So as I showed you right here at Snook, Young Son became the Doctor Who sort of doctor this year for Halloween:

Then this morning as I opened up and aired out my own mental Tardis with some sunshine, caffeine and my cable company’s connection to the cosmos — you’d know if you knew who doctors like us play in real life, that a Tardis is unbelievably larger on the inside — a jolt of recognition hit me:

All while I was sitting here
in my favorite Tardis-sized t-shirt: Read the rest of this entry »





“Partisan Polarization” Just Another Pathology of Hypercompetition?

13 09 2011

Conservative ideology and racial resentment swamp every other factor. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s counterproductive to even mention racial resentment these days. Maybe it’s unfair to lots of tea partiers who care only about taxes and big government. But unless there’s a problem with Abramowitz’s data, it’s there. Pretending that it’s not doesn’t make it go away. . .

These fears and resentments were of course stoked by right wing politicians, media commentators and websites . . .

There’s been an exhaustion of all patience followed by widespread progressive grumbling (or was that just me?) about the single-minded, spittle-flecked viciousness of win-at-all-costs in our politics, denying the humanity of one’s opponents let alone enemies, up to and including television caesars pandering to the bloodthirsty hordes, Dick Cheney still defending torture for personal profit, Rick Perry supporters cheering executions as pro-life governance.

“How you play the game” isn’t much of a consolation prize for the defeated even when it’s just a game, much less when the stakes are so high that you literally can’t afford to lose. “Living well as the best revenge” only adds insult to injury in forced competition that puts your health, wealth, dignity, liberty and life itself at risk.

We’ve cocked a snook several times at competition versus collaboration in different spheres, wondering whether it’s gotten all out of whack and what those experiences can do TO kids rather than FOR them. We’ve even looked at killer-instinct gameplay about chess specifically, the power of this next story:

I dare say this chess board may survive a nuclear blast! The pieces are made using .223 caliber bullet shell casings, decorated with cuts, slashes, curls and bends.

Photo source

She was, and is, a ferocious competitor, a psychological attribute that is quite separate from purely intellectual ability. As the former US chess champion Joel Benjamin reported after playing her: “It was all-out war for five hours. I was totally exhausted. She absolutely has a killer instinct.

Well, there you go! If only all our daughters were so ferocious about “winning” think what Read the rest of this entry »





Wanna Help Think About “The Help”?

31 08 2011

I was up past 3 am reading in bed and couldn’t quite finish, but I’m ready to talk and it seems worth its own post if not several posts.

Already I’ve been swamped by outrage from my African-American female friends, particularly those who didn’t grow up in the Jim Crow South themselves, and I’ve heard (and felt myself) some reverse-outrage from “white women” in response, particularly those who DID grow up in the South and resent being lumped together and set apart by people insisting that the lumping and setting apart by race is wrong, especially after a half-century when we really believed the woman part of that phrase had taken precedence over the white part — but there’s plenty more power of story to this story than race and region to think and talk about, too.

So consider this an open thread for all our friends, to discuss The Help.

The Upside of THE HELP Controversy:
I thought about my own power and class privilege. Seeing The Help has made me even more committed to challenging racial disparities in Hollywood. And it has reminded me to keep encouraging people of color to write, produce, and direct films—to keep fighting for our stories to be told through our own eyes, not through others’ fantasies.

Mostly, seeing The Help made me want to hear my own grandma’s experiences. I have a plan for the next time I visit her in North Carolina. I’m bringing my Flip Cam, sitting next to her, listening to her story, and recording it—on my own terms.





A Musical Theatre Unschooler’s Ode to Last Harry Potter Premiere

14 07 2011

I woke up this morning to discover — posted as a new note on his FaceBook page — what Young Son had been up to all night. Talk about flow! 🙂

As far as his mother knows, this is the first song parody he’s even tried to write, so it just astounds me.

He’s still asleep so for now I can only speculate how it came about. (When I checked just now, one of his Jim Dale-performed Harry Potter audiobooks was playing, as it has all night every night since he started putting together a premiere character costume and pre-purchased his ticket for tomorrow.)

He’s studying French with a private tutor, yet I wonder whether he noticed his parody particularly fits today as Bastille Day, set as it is to music from a French musical, his all-time favorite, Les Miserables.

For my part, I never imagined much less planned for Bastille Day to figure into our unschooling musically or any other way, even though it already has done, for both of them.

Young Son and Les Miserables power of story

Harry Potter power of story

You’ll appreciate this much more if you have the soaring Les Mis lyrics and rhythms in your head, which doubtless aren’t QUITE as deeply bred into everyone as in my house:

Okay? Did you play the video? Do you have a goose-bump or two? Then here we go, exactly as he wrote and posted it! [hush falls over the audience]

“Ode to the Harry Potter premiere”
by Young Son Ross on Thursday, July 14, 2011

(To the tune of “1 day more” from Les Miserables)

‎FAN #1: One day more, another day another costume piece, in this never ending wait to the release. The fans all seem to know it’s time, to buy tickets is not a crime, one day more.

FAN #2: I will not live until that day, the day when it all ends forever

Read the rest of this entry »





Desperate for Control? Abusive Parenting, Abusive Politics

8 04 2011

As we talk more about morals and monsters in politics and schooling, check out this comment from discussion last year that might speak to Ben and others on how this all connects:

GOP = Authoritarian

Specifically, authoritarian parent!
That’s the finding of a researcher-author I heard interviewed driving kids around last night. The new car came with a free satellite radio trial and I was trying out some new channels.

“Authoritarian” equals order and control, tradition and therefore fear of and resistance to change such as women and minorities getting the vote, immigrants streaming across a border changing the economy and voting patterns, the competitive rise of other nations in world affairs, same-sex marriage rights, etc.

Hence any challenge to authorities that keep order and control is the ultimate offense.

GOP is increasingly authoritarian because it feels increasingly under threat, which causes emotion to take over cognition in the attempt to resolve those threats and restore “order.”

And apparently an increasingly accurate way to predict American political party by degree of authoritarianism, is to ask not about policy issues directly but about parenting priorities and attitudes. Right up Snook’s alley!

It makes sense then, that loving uniforms and clear hierarchy and rules and order whether military, police, gun-bearing militia (even zero tolerance in school discipline and dress codes) are predictably not Democratic.

And it makes sense that like parenting, politics too can turn coercive and even criminally abusive. When traditional Authority fears losing control, it does in fact lose control!

For parents who are desperate for control over their children, when spanking doesn’t work (and often, it will not), the relationship turns abusive, either physically or emotionally or both.

Their survey instrument was described as a series of forced choices between pairs of words such as curiosity or manners, kindness or obedience. The interviewees choose which they believe is more important Read the rest of this entry »





Thinking About What I’m Thinking About

3 03 2011

Meta-minded JJ.

Snook just rolled to a pattern-perfect round number: 444,000 hits. It looks so neatly ordered that I might just leave the front page up without refreshing, until I get tired of seeing it.

Last night I passed this place again. A dozen serious young students in white, and I noticed how tall and slender yet well-proportioned, uniform in physique as well as, well, uniform!

Did they self-select into something that suited their body type in the first place, or did this activity affect how they grew and developed, making them better in such predictable ways that after the fact, it seemed they were born to it?

Which came first, I mused. The kickin’ or the edge? [groan]

And does that answer, whatever it may be, apply to our politics and religion, what attracts and repels us in life as we wind up living it, fashions and friends and mates and careers?

Everything is connected including this distracted and distracting brain-dump of a post. I’ve been hacking my head off for a week and it’s wearing on other parts of my body now. With every coughing fit, my lower back twinges; my abdomen feels like it’s herniating; my throat rasps and stings; my brain pounds inside my cranium; my ears ring and I can hear blood rushing inside. Plus the coughing has kept me up so many nights now that my eyes are red and bleary, my joie de vivre and general hygiene sinking toward apathy. I see and understand yet am helpless to resist . . .

.





School House Rock Smarter Than Tea Party?

6 01 2011

Cock of the snook to the brilliant Dr. Rachel Maddow and thank what’s left of the American people’s common sense for the common good, that we elected a constitutional scholar as president for these raving lunatic times:

So to quote Dr. Maddow, let’s get the Constitution-reading Party started!





Ideas of 2010: Happy Thinking!

17 12 2010

Better than shopping or Christmas punch for holiday stimulation. . .

Think of fashion constrained by public dress codes for example, as Snook often does over t-shirts, kilts and serious hats.

This collection offers all sorts of ideas to unwrap, everything from the Armored T-Shirt and the Bra Gas Mask to End-of-Men Fashion and the Raw Meat Dress. (Oh, not to give, um, short shrift? — to the Small-Enough Youth Condom and Performance-Enhancing Basketball Shoes!)

For the 10th consecutive December, the magazine has chosen to look back on the past year through a distinctive prism: ideas.

Our digest of short entries refracts the light beam of human inspiration, breaking it up into its constituent colors — innovations and insights from a spectrum of fields, including economics, biology, engineering, medicine, literature, sports, music and, of course, raw-meat clothing.

Happy thinking!

Maybe the expressive antics themselves are enough to ponder without delving into what ideas they represent, a thought suggested by the magazine quoting Andy Warhol.

Or maybe these ideas are best contemplated not individually but as one panoramic whole, power of story like A Christmas Carol forcing us to face how we got here, where we are and where we’re heading, unless we somehow wake up sufficiently to change our future and fast?

And just where is that, would the piece have us think? Read the rest of this entry »





EDUCATION NATION Tuesday: Different Memes for Different Dreams

28 09 2010

Gen. Colin Powell and his wife Alma are the morning’s featured guests. Part of it really is inspiring, how education begins the moment a child connects the sound of his/her mother’s voice to the face, about the big answers to our education crisis being commitment and caring and whole communities helping to “keep each child in play” — good power of story.

Powell power of story. 😉

They head up America’s Promise Alliance. He says it’s not all schools but about 2,000 schools are drop-out factories, mainly in “doughnut holes” where a community got left out of everything, and that in only one more American generation when minorities become the majority, we’d better have already changed those school settings and educated those future adults, so they can step up and lead the nation. She says that high school dropouts aren’t just economically locked in but are most likely literally headed for prison. They are saying too many kids from the schools they’re working to change, can’t even get into the military.

So it’s both a moral imperative but also practical self-interest in our own defense.

Here’s the downside of what I heard: their prescriptions for relentless parent pushing and militaristic boot camp examples — teachers breaking teens down to build them back up as a well-trained credit to the uniform, parents teaching unquestioned obedience and “minding the adults” even before kindergarten Read the rest of this entry »





All Plucked Up: Playing Chicken at the Polls

28 05 2010

More for Thinking Citizens to peck to pieces and squawk about, in the public dress code wars. How shall we apply what we’re learning about controlling message clothing in public places for FEMA volunteers and band students, about t-shirts and purity rings and serious hats, to um, chicken costumes?

Re: free speech in how we dress and which authorities can rightfully regulate what we choose to wear where.

“There is no statute prohibiting dress that includes costumes,” wrote Erin Neff, the group’s executive director. . . one chicken-dressed man went in to vote, and came out with an “I voted” sticker stuck on his feathers.

. . .State law prohibits signs, distribution of literature, or wearing campaign buttons, clothing or insignia in support of or against a political party, candidate or ballot question at or near polling [s]ites. Violations are a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,000 fine.

But another provision says the law is not intended to prevent a person from voting “solely” for wearing political insigne that cannot be reasonably removed or covered. In such cases, the statute says election workers should take “such action as is necessary” to allow them to vote “as expediently as possible” before showing them to the exit.





More T-Shirt Controversy, This Time Among Adults Not Acting Like It

20 05 2010

A conservative Christian mom who’s been active in our state for many years in homeschool politics and done much good work, posted this on her Facebook page today, saying she was a little offended that the women couldn’t express their faith on t-shirts while volunteering for FEMA and that “everyone gets a voice but us”:

FEMA Apologizes After Volunteers Asked to Remove Faith Based T-Shirts for Video

I pointed out that according to the story she’d linked, the offending photographer had been officially apologized for by his agency’s top official Craig Fugate, and then promptly fired, all for having offended the two women volunteers with his request. I asked how getting someone fired for inadvertent offense, particularly in this economy, furthered the faith-based values at issue.

Her reply was that she didn’t know he was fired, but what he’d attempted was censorship pure and simple. So c’est la vie, let him eat cake, if he can afford it on his unemployment check? Faith-based loving your neighbor, yeah boy, we need some more selfless volunteer service like that, to make America a better place!

The thought flashed into my head that Corrie Ten Boom’s sister took the bible quite literally and would not lie even to the Nazis searching for Jews hidden under her kitchen table. She told them right where to look. It wouldn’t have been my choice but it makes sense within her belief system, that’s all I’m sayin’ . . .

So here is my next response:

What I can’t wrap my mind or heart around, is the idea that when Christians are offended by not being able to express who they are in the context of FEMA, it’s a firing offense for the man who so offends them — but in another branch of the federal government, the opposite is a firing offense. Express who you are and YOU get fired. [Don’t ask don’t tell, of course]

Christians are on one side and then the other, not consistently against offense OR censorship.

Never mind nice Christian ladies on Facebook talking among themselves as they certainly are free to do, but what about the Republican Baptist US Congressman sworn to uphold the Constitution and quoted in the story?

“I shared with him that we just didn’t want to have a situation where the government would take the position that volunteers from churches had to be something different from what they were . . .”

What does he really stand for, and is that stand more faithful to modern American legal principles or barbaric ancient middle-eastern mythologies?

What do y’all think about this one?





Time for “T-Shirt as a Second Language” Test, Ready?

7 05 2010

If you were here for this, get your serious thinking hats ready for this:

That wasn’t the only symbolic protest on Cinco de Mayo. About 20 students showed up at Pioneer High School wearing “Border Patrol” T-shirts. By the end of the day, administrators asked them to remove the shirts, which they apparently did with no problems . . .

Snook’s community of thinking parents host ad hoc honors seminars from time to time: Harry Potter and book banning, homeschool hegemony and the parents’ rights movement, Sarah Palin and fightin’ mad white women. One of the topics that just keeps on giving is the power of story in school speech and dress codes, particularly combined on t-shirts.

No “evolution” shirts in marching band, we can’t have a high school associated with gasp, science! Though it was admittedly “not directly against the school’s dress code” and not reasonably construed as anti-bible, even unintentionally, a few offended parent/teachers nevertheless successfully demanded the band’s new shirts be collected, destroyed and replaced with school budget money.

There was no issue of students (or their parents?) starting a riot at school over the marching band shirts, or none I recall. One boy sent home in another state — for wearing his heritage-proud kilt to school — was told it was for his own safety, to prevent not a riot but just stereotypical school bullying (for wearing girly clothes, as the principal saw it.) Another boy was sent home for “being disruptive”, supposedly, when he wore Pastafarian pirate regalia to school. Were all the anti-pirate toughs about to beat him up too?

Confederate battle flags and t-shirts in the South do start school riots, disrupt “the learning environment” and get kids hurt for real, never mind the slogans and songs — been there, done that, let’s don’t play it again:

With the U.S. Supreme Court declining to hear the case, this leaves in place the lower court’s August 2008 ruling that upholds the school’s policy. The appeals court states that Read the rest of this entry »