All In All It’s Just Another Brick In The Wall

Many years ago, when I was strange in judgment,  (okay, stranger than now) a bunch of school administrators thought it was a good idea to round up the lot of us who asked too many questions, who didn’t sit still, who read ahead, and who challenged teachers and put us into two forms.  (This was in Portugal where schools work on the form system.  A group of some number of students – in our case, 34 – has a classroom to which the teachers come.  The students have all classes together.  Grades are posted by “form.”)

The two forms quickly became the highest scoring in the school.  They also quickly became troublemakers.  My form’s adventures included (but weren’t limited to) convincing the chemistry teacher we were possessed, until she locked herself in the classroom closet praying the rosary.  After that we had another teacher; sabotaging the electricity in the school (they shouldn’t have put us near the board, should they?) so that the class we had after sundown with a very boring teacher had to be cancelled.  There was other stuff.  At one time – half of ninth grade – we were in open war with the directive council which was what revolution-era Portugal had instead of a principal.

We weren’t exactly bad seeds.  Most of our teachers loved us and came to our parties and went out with us to the beach in the summer (we stayed in touch for a long time.)  It was just a certain type of teacher brought out the worst in us.

All this to lead up to the point when we greeted the French teacher (who was one of our favorites but had done something to offend us) by standing up and singing “We don’t need no education; we don’t need no thought control;[can’t remember this lyric anymore]; Teachers, leave the kids alone.”  She showed she got it by sighing, waving a hand and going “Oh, sit down.  Let’s talk.” Which was JUST the way to handle us.

Which brings me to – in the United States, any of us, alone or severally would have been expelled or worse.  Worse?  Well, even some of our minor peccadillos would have got us put on endless detentions with the real hard cases, they would have got us interviews with the school psychologist, they would – probably – have got us tracked into special education for emotionally disturbed kids.

Were we?  I don’t know.  I started my essay for my AFS application with a quote from Farenheit 451 “I am seventeen and I’m insane.  My uncle says both happen at once.”  (I’m too lazy to look up the exact quote but it’s something like that.)  Then there is the genius factor.  This is not the place to argue what IS high IQ or what importance it has to society.  I test oddly in IQ tests, because my verbal is above what they can quantify, my math is average and my visual is low enough to be considered mentally damaged.  You can take your pick and consider me either a brain damaged genius, or, more likely (particularly considering that how fast I write is abnormal) an idiot savant.  I’m cool with either and I don’t care, because my job doesn’t require me to fit into a neat category.

What I can tell you is that what can only be termed “genius” and madness runs in the family, particularly on mom’s side.  And that the two are often conjoined.  Also, I can tell you that my “gifted” form picked by choosing every “so sharp she cuts herself” girl in my class (it was an all girl’s school) had the same conjoined presentation.  Most of the kids there were brilliant and had odd health issues and bizarre mental quirks.  One of my best friends and possibly the most multi-gifted woman I ever heard of (besides being stunningly beautiful) burned herself before burning/cutting yourself was fashionable.

Also, because (like Miss Marple) I was raised in a village, and one where most people’s family had lived for generations (if you had only been there three generations your family nickname was wherever your ancestor had come from.  You were a “stranger”.)  Also I was my grandmother’s shadow, which means I heard a lot more history and gossip (and historical gossip) than people normally get.  So I have some idea that heredity for “intelligence” works oddly and that you often get mentally slow and genius from the same parents.  (And in my case, in one person.  Two, two in one!)

Without going into the uses of genius to society (I don’t know, most geniuses end up being useless even to themselves, but perhaps the exceptions makes it worth it?  It takes a goat to move the sheep forward?) I have to tell you that if you want genius, you have to take a certain amount of odd behavior.  If you want innovation, you have to tolerate people who don’t fall in line easily.  If you don’t want to stagnate, you have to have Odds.  You have to tolerate odds.  You have to give them room to be themselves –  as long as they don’t disrupt other people.

I used to think that what the school did to us, herding us into two forms then hiding us (one of our classrooms was in the attic, past all the broken furniture, in a room so small that if you sat by the window – me – and needed to go to the bathroom, you had to walk on people’s desktops.) was terrible, but after seeing two kids through k-12 in the US I think it would be a brilliant way (given smart enough teachers) to deal with our odds.

Because, you see, the problem is school bureaucracy.  Bureaucrats, and people trained to deal with kids as groups and classifications and  “pathologies” don’t see the difference between quirky Odd and outright disturbed.

And this is a problem when school shootings happen.  Yes, you knew I was going to come to it.

(No, I haven’t talked about it, except by fulminating the person so silly as to send me an email asking me to support gun control.  I’ll dispose of it here since this is not what the article is about.  Gun control is great.  You should always keep your gun under control, not have your finger on the trigger unless you’re pointing at something you mean to shoot.

Governmental gun control is a bad idea.  It’s a bad idea that makes totalitarians salivate.  Hitler was all for it.  And our current crop, with their China-envy very much wish they could keep guns out of the hands of civilians.  It’s is JUST so hard to herd the populace when they might shoot you, after all.

Among other charming things, Portugal was gun-controlled when I grew up – probably still is – which meant crime was rampant.  Also that I – being an odd – got offered guns (really cheap) every time I walked into the train station.  I can honestly say no gun salesman has ever accosted me on the street in the US.

But let’s say the US managed to establish better gun control than Portugal.   It still wouldn’t work.  The technology is not that hard to create/spoof/build.  Are you going to go after anyone with equipment that can make guns, too?  Also, as a parting shot, I wonder how much all those would-be-statists would love gun control if they couldn’t have armed body guards.)

Anyway, when school shootings happen, it is impossible for anyone living in Colorado not to flash back to Columbine.  And what I’m flashing back to, precisely, is what happened afterwards.

Because it was decided the school shooters were odd – and they weren’t, really.  They were psychopaths, which is something QUITE different – and that they were bullied – no, they really weren’t.  They talked about shooting the bullied and the lonely.  The other is a narrative created by the media – this led to all sorts of distortions in the schools.

About a month after Columbine we had floods from torrential rains.  At the time I didn’t own a car (we had one, my husband drove it to work) so I walked to pick up my preschooler.  I wore a raincoat with a hood.

Imagine my surprise when I found guards at the school pointing guns at me.  You see, the shooters had worn “trenchcoats” – so close enough for government work.  Even though the shooters weren’t parents, picking up little tykes, and even though everyone there knew me, and even though it was pouring rain.

I had to be patted down before collecting my kids.  Because they valued the children’s safety so much they’d thrown their brains out the window.

This was confirmed by their way of dealing with “shooter in school” which was to lock the little ones in classrooms.  (Can you say sitting target?)  For the longest time, my kids got the lecture every year “if there’s a shooter alarm, you break the window and get out and run home.  We’ll deal with the school.”  (Yes, there were more detailed instructions on how to run, and what to do if the shooter was in THEIR classroom.  I’m not stupid.)

But the real impact of it didn’t hit until the kids were in middle school.  Anti-bullying regulations were so strict that it was Napoleonic law.  If you were accused by more than one person, you had no defense.  A group of unscrupulous girls used this to BULLY my younger kid by using administrators.  They’d accuse him of calling them things, following them home, etc, and the administrators didn’t  believe me when I said I was picking him up, so he couldn’t follow anyone home, and that I’d personally seen one of the girls follow him calling him names.

You see, my child was Odd – brilliant, but he had a speech impediment, he was a little overweight, and he was fond of playing by himself, often fantasy-based games.  He didn’t fit in.  He was the square peg in a row of neat round pegs.

And this brings us to what I’m already seeing floating around after the Connecticut tragedy.  Instead of looking at our broken mental health care system (yes, there are civil liberty doubts involved in whether the guy who sits on the corner calling foul names and weeing on himself should be institutionalized.  But then there are civil liberties issues and doubts with taking guns away too.  Weird how people in charge only worry about one set, uh?  My friend Pat wrote about the mental health angle to the tragedy here.) schools are looking at how they can best regiment people, so that anyone who deviates from norm can be flagged as a potential problem.

Because never letting a crisis go to waste is always the function of totalitarians, from the highest in government to the lowest school principal.  And what these people want is control.

When my kid was having issues at school, he kept begging me to come have lunch with him (picture that – sixth grader wants mom to sit with him at lunch.  That’s how bad it was.)  So I finally did.  And I found their cafeteria had assigned seats and that the vice principal spoke ALL THROUGH lunch and the kids were supposed to sit there and listen.  I hadn’t realized I’d sent my kid to school in prison.

I know not all middle schools are like that, but from what I hear a lot are.  Middle school is where the odds are fashioned into “shape.”  They told us over and over he had to learn to “behave like other kids.”  And let me tell you, compared to me, my child wasn’t even that Odd.

I remember the bad ideas in the wake of Columbine.  I’m afraid what they will be now.  School shootings aren’t that common, but they are, of course, horrible and attention grabbers.  And because the media amplifies them, they seem to be MORE common.

Which means people hungry for power love to use them to get the ability to pound all those square pegs into round holes, and to make all those goats into sheep.

It won’t help, but it will give them power.  And you see, in the end, that’s what it is.

And if there’s a thing guaranteed to take a normal, quirky odd, and make him into a psychopath, it’s trying to make him into a standard issue model.

So all that’s being done is to our (Odd) purpose worse than nothing.  Instead of preventing tragedies, it’s more likely to precipitate it.

But it will give tinpot — and other — tyrants a chance, so, hey…

All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

425 responses to “All In All It’s Just Another Brick In The Wall

  1. I often wonder if, I’d been in school after a Columbine-type shooting, I’d have been classified as “odd.” I certainly was the odd man out often enough.

    • Odd kids were harrassed at schools by other kids after it. One in fact reported being asked whether she had a list of people to shoot.

      • Well, I never got asked THAT, but I sure got more than my share of teasing and harassing.

        • I didn’t get bullied too much because I was really good with revenge. Whatever worked so I wasn’t bothered too much in elementary school. Jr. High was a different story. My friends were scattered in different classes and I hadn’t started to show my sexual characteristics so it was hell in the shower room. Plus I was pretty private–

          My good friend found me one day with my skirt wrapped around my ankles. She yelled and screamed at the girls who did it and when we left she said it was because I had done the same for her in elementary school. I lost a lot of confidence that year– when I realized that sex (12 years old mind) was more interesting to other pre-teens than reading or writing. My parents took me out fo the next school year–

          I didn’t have much to do with people until I was 18 and had to deal with the boss’ daughters. They were popular in their small pond. I learned how to deal with them, which gave me an advantage when I left for far distant shores.

          On the same note about bullies– I found more adult bullies than kid bullies– Parents, administrators, power-grabbing bottom-feeders– and so forth.

          • For the record, getting secondary sexual characteristics EARLY is no picnic. My breasts came in at 8 and by 9 I had A cups. Fortunately I’m large and combative (large for Portuguese. I was a size seven and five six well… by 12. Smaller at 9 but still bigger than people my age, even boys) so it never too hold. Instead, I just lived every day knowing most of the people in school HATED me. (Well, except the two years in the Odds form.)

            • I was small for my age and was always near the bottom of my class in height. I was also usually the youngest in the class as well. My birthday was only one or two weeks before school started. Plus I didn’t start growing until I hit fourteen and changed drastically. Everything came at once–which wasn’t fun either. I grew over six inches in less than three months. My pants were capris. ;-) I tripped on imaginary lines–

              I did have a friend in elementary school who started showing around 8 or 9. Her parents married her off at 14 (a hispanic catholic family). She had four children by the time she was eighteen. I just couldn’t imagine why. I have another friend (she is older than I am). I don’t know if it is the Spanish/Portuguese heritage that causes the early puberty, but she also had early puberty–

              • Would you ladies like us gentlemen to vacate the thread so you can girl-talk in privacy? ;)

                • Hey we aren’t talking about the gross stuff– but if you want to??? ;-) The change in shape is one of the most traumatic occurrences of girls– there is really no way to completely prepare a girl for such changes.

                  • Besides– girls really need their fathers during this time– Moms are not that reassuring–

                    • Sort of related to that: one really good article I read some time ago talked about how important it is that as a parent you’re happy and comfortable with who you are, as well as what you look like. Actions speak ever so much louder than words do, and kids are if nothing else extremely observant of their parents’ behavior. When you as the parent clearly indicate you have a lot of problems with your self-image or body-image and whatnot, how on earth is your pre-teen/teen going to think of their changing body as perfectly normal? Sure, that doesn’t eliminate the anxiety change induces, but I think if everything surrounding your body is normalized in everyday life it makes the transitions much less jarring.

                  • I’ve found, being the mother of boys, that I can’t say even the most innocuous things without getting them screaming TMI. I mean, one of them is medically inclined, so when the OTHER asked what a speculum was, I started explaining, including the fact that gynecologists ALWAYS keep them in the freezer (this is a joke every woman will get.) BOTH boys ran out of the room with their hands over their ears. (Sigh.) And they say girls are the fragile sex…

                    • I spent 5 years working in a medical lab.

                      Interestingly, the people that had the most problem with handling the blood and other samples tended to be ladies, at least in my experience.

                      Me, I never had a problem eating before, during, or after a shift.

                    • I’m the only guy I know who’s not at all bothered by the more graphic forms of girl-talk. I think they’re fascinating, personally. I do also work with blood and all that without being squeamish about it. Maybe I’m just a terrible example of a male human ;)

                    • This lab tended to hire temp-to-perm, probably to see if the people could handle the samples — in more ways than one.

                      It was a source of amusement among us how some of the temps would leave for a “bathroom run” or a “break” and just never come back.

                    • LOL. My sister-in-law, the vet tech, always came up with some interesting dinner conversations.

                      On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > ** > Conservative Wanderer commented: “I spent 5 years working in a medical > lab. Interestingly, the people that had the most problem with handling the > blood and other samples tended to be ladies, at least in my experience. Me, > I never had a problem eating before, during, or after a shift” >

                    • LOL– oh my hubby used to drink with a hospital corpsman who like to carry a vaginal clamp in his pocket. If a woman or girl tried to pick him up, he would pull out the clamp and use it to put ice in his drinks. The girls/women would leave immediately.

                      Well that’s the military humor for you–

                    • My wife is laughing uproariously at the corpsman story. Of course, that’s mostly because we’re both military and know plenty of corpsmen.

                    • Again, it’s the difference in WHERE you are raised, and what you did at the time. I have never NOT liked girls. I liked some of them more than others, of course… When you raise livestock, the birds & bees lecture is pretty passe. My parents were strict Southerners, so I was taught to ALWAYS respect women. I can truthfully say I have never hit a woman in anger, even the few that deserved it.

                      Having raised two daughters, I know how much it helps their self-esteem to have our support. I had several “interesting” talks with my youngest daughter’s principal in high school. Most of the time it would end when he said “I can’t take it any more!” He was definitely glad my daughter graduated, especially after she’d beaten several of the boys that teased her into submission. Teaching girls how and WHEN to fight does wonders to their self-esteem.

                      I learned to box when I was about 14. Until my boxing accident against a sparring partner (WAY out of my weight class), I was set to become the leading boxer for the academy in the 188-lb class (I was 17-0 in freshman competition). I would go to the gym once or twice during each of my military tours and work out on the overhead and body bags. After about 30 minutes of that, I had a very pleasant tour. I never taught my daughters to box, but I DID teach them how to break arms, kneecaps, and if things got really bad, the larynx (thank you again, MSgt Han!).

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Heh. Older son is like that, younger son (who is taking anatomy this year), would probably start explaining what it was for.

                    • It is when the kid starts explaining the valid medical reasons for storing that thing in the freezer that you know they have found their calling.

                    • My gynecologist ASSURES me it’s not stored in the freezer…

                    • Sure, you’re gonna believe a guy who, given the wide variety of medical specializations possible, chose to make his living looking into ladies hoo-hoos*?

                      *Or do ladies have hoo-hahs? I must have missed the memo.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Actually, that’s what I had in mind, I just didn’t say it right.

                    • Athena’s tendency to lose her clothes in DST appalled Robert, because his MOM wrote it…

              • I don’t think it was location either because both of these women came from different locations. My childhood friend was born and raised in the US. My second friend was born in Mexico and came to the States when she was a pre-teen. Got to be family genetics in those cases–

              • Wayne Blackburn

                I was also very small for my age (you’d never believe that now) – I crossed the 5 foot line at 14. I grew nearly 4 inches after I graduated high school.

                It certainly made my 10-year class reunion interesting. A couple of the people who had picked on me in school got a little wide-eyed when they realized they now had to look UP at me.

                • I slowly grew another two inches until I quit at about 20 years old to 5ft 8in. ;-)

                • ….You didn’t happen to be friends with the daughter of the family down the road, whose mother was in the hospital at the same time as yours for birth, did you?

                  My mom’s best friend in school did the same “scare the heck out of the old bullies” thing at his 10 year reunion. She’d been bigger than him all through school, and she ain’t that big. (Tough, but that’s a given.)

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    Dunno – did she grow up in Northern Kentucky?

                    In a way, I kind of hope not, because that would mean that I didn’t know that some girl thought of me as her best friend. The notion of having missed that would suck.

                    • Heck, no, it was in Oregon, and you would DEFINITELY know. The entire family is a bit hard to miss.

                      It was just a little startling how close the stories were, though. ^.^

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      … and you would DEFINITELY know.

                      Ha! You have no idea how dense I was when I was younger. :-)

                    • Well, there’s the way that he greeted mom at the reunion, which I’m not going to share because it’s a little too good as an identifier. *grin*

      • I was voted most likely to bring a gun to school. (with the implication that it would be for murder)

        The school took this seriously enough that they set me up with an adult mentor– me, not the guys who forced a drunk 15 year old to drive them home while they were drunk and got a (sober on the way home from work) classmate killed, not the various thugs and criminals, not the guy who tried to steal my backpack or the one that stabbed me with a chisel in shop– to come in and “talk” with me.
        I scared her off, because I was basically an adult that happened to be in her early teens, and I didn’t have the life experience to recognize that treating her the same way any other adult would was a bad idea. I was supposed to be a hurt child wishing to lash out, not a rather shy young woman with no interest in pop culture and strong views on socializing with those who would say nothing worth hearing. I wasn’t what she expected, so that scared her.

        Difference is, I can look back now and see that, and I don’t think most of the other folks involved bothered to think about it at all.

  2. It’s probably the Odd in me that made me worry for four paragraphs that you weren’t going to get around to closing those parentheses. ;-)

    Some of this is resonating with me because we’re having trouble with our boy in school right now.

      • Oh, you just had to, didn’t you?

        • Free-Range is a BAD man.

          • I noticed that.

            Now I’ll have trouble sleeping tonight.

          • And now, having received that benediction, I can die happy. :)

            • Don’t you dare. We’re not done with you.

              • Beware the Wrath of the Sarah!

              • But if he dies we can grok him fully. That’s good, right?

                • Nah, he’s tough. Particularly around the head… ;)

                  • Lots of salt and vinegar helps. We just need to marinate him a little ;)

                    • Salt and vinegar belong on fish and chips.

                      Not potato chips, and not skulls. :p

                    • The human skull I have is just a replica. Hmm… Well, if anyone needs a place to stash something like a real one, there is always room in my bookcase. Just mail it labelled ‘gift’, our customs rarely check those. >:)

                    • LOL. They’re great for drawing…

                    • Or as props for photographs.

                    • Of course, preferably already cleaned. A smelly package might interest customs.

                    • Someday in that future where we have money and come to pay a visit, I’ll tell you about when my mom thought what I really needed was a full prosciutto…

                    • Oh, hah, last time my mom visited she calls me at the airport, absolutely furious with rage, because some customs official took her garlic from her. I have no idea why she was bringing her own garlic, apparently the US doesn’t sell that stuff. She told the customs official that she hoped it would give him heart burn when he ate it, haha (I think the guy responded that OF COURSE they can’t eat it, they have to destroy it).

                    • Last time my mom came over was before 9/11. Among other things she brought… plums, grapes, other stuff I can’t remember and half the cake they’d had for tea the day before. She got away with bringing it all in, because she’s a little old lady scary beyond all reason (Only good line in The Emperor’s New Groove. My kids immediately shouted “GRANDMA!”)

                      My kids remember her visit mostly because of the plums. They sat on the front porch and ate plums and she ENCOURAGED them to spit out the pits into the yard, which they loved.

                    • Oh, this was in 2009. I was seriously convinced they would detain her. Considering she was several states away I was not looking forward to spending my holiday break visiting my mom in jail for punching the customs official :p

                    • “Of course, preferably already cleaned. A smelly package might interest customs.”

                      LOL. I had compliants from the Post Office once about a package leaking, when I was mailing uncleaned skulls. (animal, not human)

                    • Mailing uncleaned animal skulls? that must have an interesting story attached. (It doesn’t have anything to do with the Brain Depository, does it? Once, I was on a road trip in west Texas, and stopped for lunch in some small town. On the way in, there was this little storefront with “Brain Depository” on the door and this little mail-slot type thing maybe a foot or two off the ground. Might have said “deliveries 9 to 5″ or something like that. No explanation, no nothing. Just a door labelled “brain depository” with a delivery slot on it. Wasn’t even open, so I couldn’t even walk in and ask ‘em what they did. One of the stranger things I’ve seen. ‘Course, there’s probably some utterly mundane explanation for it *somewhere*, but I haven’t found it yet.)

                    • Nothing to do with the Brain Depository (maybe a clinic that test for rabies?). Just pure, evil, capitalism; somebody wanted to buy them to clean (with beetles) and resell at a higher price. So I was perfectly willing to sell. Anybody who wants to ship such items should make sure they are sealed in leakproof plastic bags before boxing them up. The Postmaster/mistress tends to get cranky when said boxes leak while in the mailroom.

                    • *shrug* hey, if people will pay money for it…

                      Rabies testing makes sense. I guess when animal control or whoever has to shoot a critter acting weird they just ship it off to get tested.

                    • I once read somewhere that if an animal you suspect of rabies is attacking you, “do not shoot it in the head, so the brain remains undamaged for rabies testing.”

                      Excuse me? If an animal is attacking me and I suspect it has rabies I am going to be a lot more concerned about stopping it before it gets within biting distance of me (if I know it is attacking it is probably already very close to biting distance, if not within it) than I am of making sure a rabies tester in a lab somewhere doesn’t have a ‘damaged brain’ to deal with.

                    • I once read somewhere that if an animal you suspect of rabies is attacking you, “do not shoot it in the head, so the brain remains undamaged for rabies testing.”

                      If you do shoot it in the head, they can’t test at all.

                      If they can’t test at all, they have to assume you have rabies.

                      That involves something like a dozen shots, in the stomach, with a needle that looks more like a knitting needle than a sewing needle.

                      My sister was attacked by a dog, who was put down before anyone considered testing it for rabies– thank goodness, the owner used a very high powered gun and shot the dog in the chest because he couldn’t bear to shoot it in the head. (Was a wonderful dog. Then it was tortured by the neighborhood children, while nobody was around. My sister knew it when it was a wonderful dog, and it didn’t recognize her anymore.)

                    • The new rabies treatment doesn’t involve the multiple shot to the abdomen any longer. But yes all the people I know who have been treated for rabies were treated long enough ago to get those. As a friend of mine who got that treatment said, “when going in to get my last shot, right in front of the hospital I started to walk across the street, and a dumptruck was coming. I didn’t care if it hit me or not, because I figured it would be lot less painful than going in for the shot.”

                    • I happen to LIKE salt & vinegar potato chips. It’s an acquired taste developed when I lived in jolly old (soggy) England.

                      I’m sure he’d much rather be marinaded in the local brew, so we’ll include a bottle — along with the salt & vinegar.

                    • Okay, you’re just sick. :p

                    • I like salt and vinegar potato chips too. It’s moot, because I can’t have potatoes. (And oh, I miss them.)

                    • Well, we already knew you were sick, Sarah. After all, you as much as admitted it in this post. ;)

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Sick? What? I thought it sounded like a plan.

                      And Salt & Vinegar chips are great. They can get to be a little too much if you eat too many at one sitting, though.

                    • Oh, it’s a plan… a sick plan.

                      And I’m more into plain potato chips or barbecue.

                    • yup. You have to eat them slowly, otherwise they’re no good.

                    • Friends you’re grokking fully OR potato chips? (She asks, confused.)

                    • Salt and vinegar chips! Sorry, kinda lost track of what was at the top of that sub-thread, there…

                    • All you salt-and-vinegar chip fans, I have a cookbook by Alton Brown (the cooking geek of Good Eats fame) that uses salt-and-vinegar chips as a breading for pork chops.

                      I don’t think he’d appreciate it if I posted it on a public forum, but I might be persuaded to share it in email… just run my username all together and stick @gmail.com at the end. :)

                    • I’d say both.

                    • Nods. that’s what I thought.

                    • Tim’s are the very best salt & vinegar chips. Although his jalapeno chips are even better.

                    • As long as they’re not fried chips, I’ve never gotten the appeal of drowning my fries in vinegar. Dutch people eat fries with mayo (though it’s somewhat different than mayo in the US, hard to explain except most people here who hate mayo seem to like the Dutch version). Or mayo and ketchup, which are called “war fries” because the ketchup looks like blood. Heh.

      • Gee, Thanks!

        On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > Free-range Oyster commented: “Just for you, Jasini: http://xkcd.com/859/ > ” >

      • Wayne Blackburn

        And I counter with:

        http://xkcd.com/1144/

      • Oooohhh, you rotten stinker…

    • Did you ever have to program in LISP?

      • Close enough – Racket (based on scheme), for a programming class I took fall semester. Boy, do I hear ya on the parentheses.

        On a semi-related note DONE, done, done with finals! Hallelujah! I thought I’d never have time to come back here.

        • Were you told on the first day of class that a left parenthesis was a “paren” and a right one a “thesis”?

          For those of you who did not suffer through that language — actually, you can speed up the class considerably with that shorthand.

          • No, actually, I wasn’t. I think I’ll start using that, though. Much clearer than just trying to list out all the parentheses aloud, losing your place, and trying to properly indicate whether they’re closing or opening.

            • At one point I had a story going with a character named Paren. He had a twin brother, not in the story, named Thedic. It was fun.

              On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 6:52 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

              > ** > txgecko commented: “No, actually, I wasn’t. I think I’ll start using > that, though. Much clearer than just trying to list out all the parentheses > aloud, losing your place, and trying to properly indicate whether they’re > closing or opening.” >

              • The YA — Shadow Gods — has 2 twin boys, Lex and Jag. The parents were college students, had twin boys, decided they’d never be able to afford luxury cars, so they named the boys Lexus and Jaguar…

      • Wayne Blackburn

        No, but I tried to program i LITHP, once.

        (Runs very fast)

    • You’re not alone in that. The first part. I was the kid with the trouble in school. For a while, at least.

  3. /No dark sarcasm in the classroom/Teachers! Leave theme kids alone.

  4. > Which brings me to – in the United States, any of us, alone or severally would have been expelled or worse.

    In 2012, probably yes. In the 1970s and 80s I had some teachers who, like your cool teacher who got the joke, understood black sheep students and played well with them.

    > The technology is not that hard to create/spoof/build. Are you going to go after anyone with equipment that can make guns, too?

    I started my first business (http://smartflix.com) after reading Neal Stephenson’s book Cryptonomicon, particularly the minor bit about HEAP (the Holocaust Eradication Pod – an open source gun plan). I realized that if hard times came, I needed to know metalworking and gunsmithing – and so did other people.

    The business didn’t make me millions (or even hundreds of thousands), but it did two things: it introduced me to metalworking, and it got me in the habit of working for myself and making my own paycheck – both good lessons to learn!

  5. The purpose of public education in the United States is to disseminate socially acceptable ideas as determined by academic “elites.” You are a “good citizen” if you support environmentalism, gay rights, and gun control. Which is a lot easier than actually being good by maintaining personal standards of moral conduct. It’s much easier to just repeat the pre-approved party line and accept moral absolution. See how easy it is to be a liberal? No thought required.

    • Yep. Just like Thomas Sowell said so many years ago, I believe in Vision of the Anointed, all you need to be a lefty is to parrot what the “good people” on the left tell you to say.

    • That has always been the purpose of public education in the United States. It’s just that the index of socially acceptable ideas has changed.

      My wife and I were lucky. Having been born in 1975, we managed to get out of the public school system before any of the _really_ bad stuff came down. But the signs were already there.

      Send my kids there (if we ever manage to have any)? I’d sooner die.

      • When I was in public grade school a very long time ago, reading, writing and arithmetic were the primary subjects. We saluted the flag and said the Pledge of Allegience every morning. Once I learned to read (Dick and Jane) I was off and running. I don’t remember any party politics at all.

        • That’s when the socially acceptable standards were less…um… ivory tower.

          In addition to actually teaching math and reading and “what happened” type history, there were things like “don’t hit girls” and “respect the flag” and “there is good and bad.” Not so much now.

          • Heh, yeah these days kids can’t read, can’t do even basic math without a calculator, but they know the answer to every problem is more money and tech, and that there’s a giant hole in the ozone layer but it’s ok, because Algore will save us all with his windmills and solar power. *eyeroll* Can you tell I went to grade school in the 90′s? And I was one of the ‘problem children’ that pointed out the fallacies and lies in the textbooks, questioned the teachers (respectfully but firmly), and was always either reading ahead, reading my own books hidden in my lap, or drawing– and when teachers would try to catch me ‘not paying attention’ because ‘no one can possibly pay attention when they’re not looking forward like a good student’, I’d recite the last few minutes of their lecture back to them. *evil grin*

            Oh, I was also constantly questioned about my odd behaviour, and bullied by both classmates and teachers. Pre-Columbine, I fit most of the signs of “Your Classmate May Be On Drugs” that were announced over the PA every morning during Drug Awareness Week. Post-Columbine, I fit the profile of the “loner, individualistic, potential-serial-killer disturbed type who’ll kill us all”. Between that and undiagnosed ADD, I spent a lot of time talking to the guidance counselor. And when I wasn’t with the guidance counselor, or being stood up in front of the class and being called names by teachers, my classmates would ask me if I planned on killing anyone, or knew how to build bombs, or things like that.

          • I started school back when there was still formal prayer in the classrooms. Still, the changes to progressive education had already started, and being an ODD was not socially acceptable.

            Daddy started law school the day I started kindergarten. So, when my alphabet went: A is for assault, B is for battery … on up to H is for Habeus Corpus the teacher called Daddy in for yet another conference. (The first one had been to chastise my parents who, they insisted, had permanently broken me by teaching me to read and do long division in my head before I entered school.) The conference ended when the teacher said, ‘But words like that, a five year old can’t know what it means,’ and Daddy replied, ‘Did you ask?’

            • Oh wow– kudos to your parents CACS

            • Marshall. At three or four. Elizabethan English and perfect fake-Shakespeare. This was RIGHT AFTER he gave up on the selective mutism thing, and decided to talk to people who weren’t me. (To my great relief. Even Dan thought I was nuts.)

              I was working on the Shakespeare series, so I often played audios or videos of Shakespeare’s plays, in order to get the “feel” before sitting down for a writing session. Marsh internalized it. He could switch it off and on. He could also quote Shakespeare and apply it to things like “Why I should be allowed to eat glue” or “Why I don’t feel like fingerpainting.”

              Pre-school teacher called me in horrified. It appears I too had permanently broken the child.

              Years later, on a whim, and without studying the part, he auditioned to play Petruchio in the school play and was the best Petruchio EVER.

              He rarely quotes Shakespeare now, unless he’s much moved…

  6. Gregory Peter DuPont

    Bravo!! You are always worth reading and sharing! Keep it coming!

  7. “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.” When I first saw “The Wall” I was pretty impressed with that particular song– I have heard it is worse in the school systems now– my grandson is having problems with school in Washington State right now because he is a mechanical genius (doesn’t do well with the new math, but when taught “real” math he does great)– and he has two eyes that do not track– it makes it hard for him to read and other things- His grandfather (my hubby) has the same problem, but he learned how to use it to his advantage many years ago.

    Because of these “disadvantages” the school officials want to put him in the slow classes. It makes me mad enough to spit– (and other things)

  8. “The technology is not that hard to create/spoof/build. Are you going to go after anyone with equipment that can make guns, too? ”

    The Nazis were unable to contain the Resistance sufficient to prevent their building guns. So the question is — what are you going to do that the Nazis didn’t?

    • The British sent the Poles and others the VERY simple blueprints for the Sten submachine gun. And those blueprints are still floating around in the circles inclined to such things. It would actually be easier to build a blowback submachine gun than to build a major cartridge pistol. It’s more difficult to make the mechanism STOP shooting bullets.

      • It has been noted before, many times, that the entire scheme of gun regulations and restrictions is based on the assumption that a bunch of redneck machinists won’t go out in their garage and just start cranking out the forbidden items. Juxtapose that with the fact that semiautos are *much* harder to make than fully automatic weapons, and you have an “interesting” situation simmering.

        • Note, also, how they are turning “semiautomatic” into a magical scare phrase, capable of firing multiple rounds a second. They should know better, so the conclusion is that they aren’t interested in accurately addressing the issues.

          • An interesting effect of making ALL guns illegal would be that if I face prison for having any firearm then there is absolutely no reason for me to limit what I make and carry.

          • I don’t think they actually *know* what “semiautomatic” means – they just hear “automatic” in the second part of the word and mark it down as scary.

            • I don’t think they care — their goal is not to shed light but to generate heat.

              For further on this subject, visit the bloggers at Powerline. Start with this one [ http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/12/sandy-hook-the-corrections-begin.php ] and look for the posts titled “Most Outrageous Reporting of 2012″ and “A word from Stephen Hunter” (links omitted to save Sarah the trouble of “approving” this post) — Stephen Hunter is the creator of the Bob Lee Swagger series and wrote the single most informative article on the topic of Dick Cheney’s hunting accident (which, to its credit, the WaPo published.)

              • In the wake of Sandy Hook, much attention, all of it negative, has been focused on the Bushmaster rifle that Adam Lanza apparently used to commit his murders (news accounts on this point have varied over time). The rifle is commonly, if meaninglessly, referred to as an “assault weapon.” But homicides using rifles of any sort are rare, as well as declining. In 2010 there were only 358 homicides involving rifles, compared with 1,704 in which knives were used, 540 that involved blunt objects, and 745 in which the victims were simply beaten to death. So the idea that there is some kind of epidemic of violence involving semiautomatic rifles, or any other sort of rifle, is nonsense.

                From the Powerline post cited. Note that this means you are roughly 500% more likely to be killed with a knife as a rifle; 150% more likely to be killed with a blunt object as a rifle, 200% more likely to be beaten to death,

                Another correction restated the calibers of the handguns: “The guns were a 10-millimeter Glock and a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer — not .10-millimeter and .9-millimeter.” Big difference. Sure glad the NY Times employs an army of editors and fact checkers — who knows what kind of mistakes they would make otherwise.

                • Reminds me of a story I saw years ago.

                  The reporter described in great detail the sound of the ejected brass hitting the floor, as the shooter fired… a revolver.

                  If you don’t see a problem there, you’re not a gun-savvy person.

                  • Facts are a paternalistic construct that more enlightened people can ignore at will. It’s the FEELING of the story that matters, duh.

                    • Maartje, thank you for correcting Conservative Wanderer’s attempt to smother us in that Male Privilege thing: FACTS.

                      I — puts chin in air — have a woman’s way of knowing. IOW — I PFA. (Actually I don’t. I research everything, but that’s of course because I was browbeaten as a child and had my self-confidence destroyed. Sniffle. / sarc off.)

                    • Sarah, you shoulda been an actress.

                      And please, just call me CW. Much easier to type.

                    • Is your last name McCall?

                    • McCall is hardly a Dutch name ^_^ Sorry!

                    • I’ve been meaning to ask, is Maartje a first or last name, and is it pronounced Mahr-t-ee-a and if a last name is it a cognate of Martin (which exists in EVERY European language.)

                    • It’s a first name, although my actual name is Maarten (pronounced with an extended A, like Maaaahrtuhn. I usually tell Americans to hold the sound for twice as long as they think they need to, heh). -je is the dimunitive form of a name, and it’s usually attached to the root of a word. My friends here call me Maart sometimes so I figured I’d go with that for a change. It is derived from Mars, like Martin and a host of other names like that across Europe :)

                  • ARG– ARG– I have shot a revolver and ARG–

                  • Dean Koontz made that mistake in “Phantoms” and he apologised profusely after someone pointed it out.

                  • Oy. Y’all ever see The Dissident Frogman’s The Complete War Correspondent’s Basic Boomstick Training ? Somehow I think a majority of reporters haven’t…

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  But “assault weapons” are more likely to be used in the defense of self against Thugs of the State, so they need to suppress ownership of them.

                • Another correction restated the calibers of the handguns: “The guns were a 10-millimeter Glock and a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer — not .10-millimeter and .9-millimeter.” Big difference. Sure glad the NY Times employs an army of editors and fact checkers — who knows what kind of mistakes they would make otherwise.”

                  It has been pointed out repeatedly that the shooter had an AR-15, usually with the fact that he didn’t use it omitted.

            • Perhaps they think it means you have to pull the trigger to _start_ shooting. (You know, seeing as how, whenever one tries to discuss gun safety, they seem to think that normal guns just go off by themselves…)

        • Very valid homebuilding options aside, consider that if all the combined efforts of Federal, State and Local law enforcement over the past thirty years of the War-On-(some)-Drugs has not been able to prevent, or even appreciably reduce, the successful importation of multiple millions of bales/bricks/units/tons of all the various controlled substances into the US every year, there is absolutely no fracking way that these same Fed/State/Local resources could possibly prevent the import of the multiple millions of tons of firearms and ammunition using the same now-well-proven smuggling methods, routes and personnel.

          Anyone proposing otherwise is either no longer in touch with reality, or is pursuing objectives other than those they publicly state.

          • That doesn’t work here either, and we are a much smaller country with hell of a lot more surveillance of everybody and everything already in place. Unregistered guns still seem to pop up rather regularly in the crime statistics, sometimes because somebody gets killed with one, most often found when the police look for something else.

          • One notes that for guns, you need one purchase to last you decades, for self-defense.

        • In a writer’s workshop, I read a passage at the beginning of a Jeffrey Deaver novel that was just…. odd. Murderer kills people with a .22 rimfire submachine gun with a home made silencer/suppressor. Then next chapter, someone says it’s a .22 Uzi he bought in a gunstore. There’s no such thing. I suspect it was a home made firearm, and that the publisher changed it.

          • Which would actually be feasable, since you can buy subsonic .22lr ammo (getting it to function in a submachine might be another matter, but if you were building the gun yourself you could design it to operate at the lower pressures of most subsonic ammo). Movies where they screw a silencer onto a high-powered rifle and they are magically silent always irritate me. If the bullet is traveling over the speed of sound when it exits the gun it is going to produce a sonic crack. All a silencer* does is trap and slow down the escaping gasses pushing the bullet; slowing them under the speed of sound prevents them from providing a sonic crack, but does absolutely nothing to the one produced by a bullet traveling at supersonic speeds.

            *silencer is an almost uniquely American misnomer, properly called suppressors they do not silence a gun, but simply suppress the sound produced by the propelling gasses. In Europe the common nickname is ‘mufflers’ and it is considered rude in many European countries to fire a gun without a ‘muffler’ attached to lessen the disturbance to the neighbors. (much like it is considered rude here to saw the muffler off a car and then drive it through the neighborhood, giving smoke shows at every stopsign)

            • Criticize movie handling of guns all you will, many a life has been saved because some gangsta wannabee fired his handgun employing film-demonstrated technique of firing while holding it sideways.

              • Oh yea– I snort over that one– So cool– so inaccurate–

              • There is actually an explanation for that. Some SWAT teams use a ballistic shield (proof against rifle fire unlike vests) that is held in front of the individual who looks out through a glass view port. They often hold their sidearm around the side in front of the viewport canted sideways. So the gangsters are copying the stance of a SWAT team member who has a big huge shield held in front of him.

  9. You have made me grateful that I sent my kids to private school.

  10. I have long believed that for many on teh [sic] Left the gun is totemic. Having denied the concept of personal responsibility they are forced to attach blame somewhere and therefore the gun becomes the scapegoat, absorbing residual guilt. Given the magical thinking that prevails, it follows that by expunging the gun from society we eliminate the threat represented by the gun.

    The fact that this is nonsense is irrelevant, they are not seeking true safety but merely the illusion of safety.

    This delusion is recognizable as far back as the 1940 film His Girl Friday with its “manufacture for use” explanation for the anarchist’s crime and persists into modern society as expressed in the musical Chicago.

    • Yes, they’ve resurrected the doctrine of the deodand.

      • In Michigan we have a law that any firearm used for suicide must be destroyed. We had one vindictive fellow suicide with his relatives very valuable antique gun. Theory is a relative might use it too, overcome with grief. In this case the fellow assured the cops he’s have gladly shot the fellow himself if he’d known what he planned.

        • I trust they pay the family for the property seized, although a) that does not compensate for the loss of a valued heirloom and b) since the property was used in commission of a crime they could probably use that as a basis for seizure.

          • Wait, what? How is a suicide a crime? That doesn’t make any sense. Not to say you’re wrong, just… governments?!

            That’s like saying if I take money from my own pocket I can be charged with stealing (well, that’d be one way to make sure everyone’s a criminal)…

            • I think its just one of those things that was never taken off the books. I’ve never, ever heard of an attempted suicide being charged for the attempt.

              • From what I understand it is one of those really wierd laws, attempted suicide is not a crime; successful suicide is a crime however. (I’m not sure of the punishment for it, but as far as I am aware it has never been shown to lower the suicide rate)

                • Given how people work, I’d guess suicide is a crime so that you don’t have people “helping.”

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  In one of his “The Rest of the Story” bits, Paul Harvey told of a man who tried to commit suicide while he was waiting to be tried for stealing. He was stopped from doing so, then tried for that, convicted, and dragged to death behind a horse.

              • I have to say that the military is a little different than normal population because in most respects the military actually owns you until you finish your enlistment. Even retirees are still considered part of the military and can be brought back to the military– (happened when they needed gunners for the battleships)–

                • They also have a certian amount of time that they can call you back after you are out. I had a friend that had been out of the Marines for (I think) 4 years, and they called him back to send him to Afghanistan.

                  • Well – the contract is actually eight years– 4 years active and 4 years ready reserve. While you are in the ready reserve they can call you back anytime.

            • It’s murder.

              It’s not like any other crime ceases to be a crime when you put yourself outside the reach of the law’s long arm.

              • Conceptually, though, if we call suicide murder than spending your own money is theft just the same. Obviously, having the right to life means having the right to choose to end it implicitly granted. If you can’t choose when you end your life, if someone else decides that for you or needs to give you permission for it to be okay, you’re not a free person. Just the same as the right to owning property means you have the right to also give it away. You can’t have one without the other.

                Maybe the law doesn’t recognize it as such, but then the law is stupid and inconsistent with the principles laid down in the DoI, and should be changed :)

                • Obviously, having the right to life means having the right to choose to end it implicitly granted.

                  But we don’t have a right to live. We have a right to not be killed by human action. If we had a right to live, it would conflict with reality.

                  The right of property includes the right to use it; it’s not the right to have that property, so much as the right for it (and use of it) not to be taken by someone. If lightning strikes your iPod, your rights haven’t been violated, even though the property has been taken from you.

                  • That’s why I said right to life, not right to live. I am fully aware we don’t have a right to remain alive (at possibly some other’s expense). But the flip side of having the right to not be coerced by others actions, is that you’re free to act yourself. It is implicit in the right to life. And life is most definitely something you must actively work to keep; we’re not living automatically and must sustain our existence. And *that* means that if we don’t get to decide when we don’t want to live any more, we’re most definitely not free. What is more basic to a living organism than the choice to continue living or not? If the government criminalizes the choice to end your existence (either actively or passively doesn’t much matter), then they own you in a fundamental sense, and you don’t have a right to your own life any more.

                    • In spite of the common short-form for “right not to be killed” being “right to life,” a right to life would be a right to be alive, to live.

                      Your argument would mean that no-one is free, because having property does not mean you can do whatever you want with it. Even something as simple as throwing it out the window can’t be assumed as a given.

                      Now, a great many people have admitted that if you think freedom from coercion by other thinking beings and their actions is your ultimate goal, you can’t be around anyone or even in a place where others have ever been. The actions of others will have effects, not matter how inocculous. That’s why it’s usually changed to “directly hurt by” someone else’s action. Then you get into defining what is meant by “directly” and “hurt” and what can be done about it if your actions cannot be countered by those of others under a proposed system. It’s a matter of assumptions and base definitions. That leads to: if you are looking to end your existence then you’re acting irrationally, and thus are not free either. You can disagree, but it’s one of those basic assumptions.

                    • I agree that a right to live would be hopelessly contradictory, but I am not talking about that, so it’s a moot point.

                      The only restrictions on true rights are made when exercising your right conflicts with someone else’s right. In the case of property, by *right* you can do whatever you want with it if it doesn’t coerce any other human being (i.e. violates their rights). But centuries of constitutional law indicate (well, to the extent the supreme court was rational anyway) that the right to property by necessity includes the right to transfer and/or dispose of it. In parallel, the right to life works much the same.

                      Saying someone isn’t allowed to decide when they want to die is *identical* to saying they can’t decide how to spend their money, or preventing them from selling their house. I know today the government violates property and freedom of contract rights left and right, but that doesn’t diminish the original principle, which is what I am discussing.

                      Stated another way, criminalizing suicide is implying that you can violate your own rights, which is a position that has any number of logical difficulties. In the absence of that, suicide objectively harms nobody else, so on what grounds could we forbid it?

                    • No, it’s close to– but not identical to– saying they can’t burn down their house.

                    • Okay, since I am nothing if not consistent I will concede that is a fair analogy. And assuming nobody else lives there, a person has every right to do so IF they can make sure the fire doesn’t spread elsewhere.

                      Look, a suicide is a different beast entirely if you’re actively endangering other people doing it. But most situations aren’t like that.

                    • It’s a holdover from when law tried to prevent sin. At least that’s what I got from reading Agatha Christie’s two suicide-averted stories. In Portugal, when I was a kid, it was criminalized for that reason. In practical terms? I think it was because they could arrest you and prevent you from harming yourself.

                    • No offense to Mrs. Christie, but England’s common theories on most anything to do with religion– especially if it’s described as a “holdover”– should be treated as very, very suspect and double-checked, preferably with an eye to a straight line of evidence that flatly states whatever they assume. There have been at least two big movements that don’t bother to look at what actually happened in a situation, so long as they can make up a story that works OK with their assumptions, which is then passed on as fact to folks who have nothing to do with the funky movements.

                      It’s kind of like anything to do with the Vatican from the Times of London– you’re lucky if they manage to get the names right, let alone the positions, and kiss the theology good-bye. (“List of new sins,” my cat’s hind leg.)

                    • You keep showing that you have the assumption that the highest good is “not causing objective harm to others.” By implication, most likely with the modifier “unless they agree to it.”

                      On top of the basic assumption, that means deciding what counts as harm, when it’s objectively true that someone has been harmed, what counts as agreement, what is someone harming another rather than a basic effect of something that was agreed to, etc. There’s also the assumption that each person is an island, able to be totally isolated from others.

                • “Obviously, having the right to life means having the right to choose to end it implicitly granted.”

                  Obliviously, that can’t be obvious in the sense you mean, because those who think suicide is murder obliviously do not agree with it.

                  • I mean obvious in light of the constitutional principles involved. I do think that if you consistently apply those then what I am saying is the only interpretation that doesn’t create a hugely contradictory mess, for reasons I alluded to above.

                    • Obviously, you can’t be right, because the guys who established those principles did not agree.

                    • As far as I know suicide isn’t criminalized in the constitution or any other founding documents. What the Founders personally believed it to be is a great deal less relevant; there is almost certainly a strong religiously inspired moral taboo on the subject that informed those opinions. I’m not saying that automatically makes them wrong, but when there is a conflict I’ll side with the logical implication of the principle.

                      I realize, though, that my choice of the word obvious was mistaken in this context. I mostly wasn’t expecting much disagreement on that point, or I would not have used it :)

                    • Maartje, the US Constitution established the powers and limitations of the US Federal Government. At the time the Constitution was written, suicide would have been a matter for the state/local governments not the Federal government.

                    • As far as I know suicide isn’t criminalized in the constitution or any other founding documents.

                      Nor is it declared legal, even in principle.

                      when there is a conflict I’ll side with the logical implication of the principle

                      The logic rests on your assumptions– including that your basic ideas are more valid than theirs.

                    • Maartje– I understand that suicide and assisted suicide is legalized in certain European countries. From my upbringing (I came from a really religious household), suicide was considered a sin on the same level as denying the Holy Ghost. (Denying the Holy Ghost would find you thrown out of the church). Also, you will pay in the afterlife over and over with the sin– (and many churches believe suicide is a sin). I left that church long ago–

                      I have found though in a more logical way that suicide doesn’t just affect the person who died– it ends up affecting family, friends, and others in very destructive ways. We knew a family (they were Ute Amerindian). The mother had committed suicide when the children were small. The children were sent to foster homes. Of the family (there were five children if I remember right) four of them committed suicide. Several of the cousins committed suicide. It turned into a virus into the entire family (or seemed to). Only two people survived. One was a daughter and one was a male cousin who married my sister.

                      I knew one of the boys who committed suicide. When a member of the family suicides especially in front of children (yep–even more horrifying), the children believe that they caused it. Plus if things get a little tough the think suicide is a logical solution instead of asking for help.

                      This is only one case– I have seen it happen other times in the little town I lived near.

                      My second thing against suicide is that it is a great loss of potential.

                      My third thing against suicide is that a person with mental illness should be treated instead of encouraged to kill himself.

                      And, my last objection is that when assisted suicide is legal, our seniors are encouraged (by counseling) to request being killed so that they do not cause money problems for their families. Now that is horrendous in my opinion.

                      However, I dealt with a girl who would call me in the middle of the night many times, saying she was going to commit suicide. I can’t tell you how wearied I was of her. So I reported her finally when I had enough (she was not even a relative). They did put her in a watch– Of course when you are dealing with the military, they discharge them (with a General discharge) instead of making them get treatment. Of course when they are out of the military they can do what they want to do.

                      So I can see why it is a crime– Suicide imho affects everyone in the orbit of the suicide.

                    • There has been a Supreme Court decision in recent decades upholding the right to choose one’s own medical care, and especially the right to refuse it. But that’s solely in the context of terminal illness.

                    • There is a difference. Suicide is actively seeking to end a life, which involves an act of commission. The other is accepting a disease process and allowing it to happen, in this case it is an act of omission.

                    • Robin– very different from suicide–imho

                    • Robin– very different from suicide–imho

                      Same way that the Church recognizes the right to refuse treatment– but points out that food and water are not medical treatment. Sort of like it’s still murder if you leave a baby on a snowbank, instead of an active means of killing him.

                      ********

                      Aaargh, I’m trying hard to come up with a way to explain the difference in world view… the one that popped into my head that would not require face-to-face talking for a long period, preferably with alcohol involved, is that the Founders recognized on a basic level responsibilities. Not just those that you see, will and formally accept, but the implicit ones you assume simply by being. Every right comes with a responsibility.

                      Every ability comes with demands on it.

                      If your philosophy cannot recognize that others have a claim on you, even if you don’t want them to, then it’s really hard to wrap your mind around.

                    • I agree; these conversations would be easier to have in person with some good drinks.

                      I’m not trying to argue that suicide is a good course of action under most circumstances (it usually isn’t), or that it doesn’t affect other people (it almost always does). But there’s a giant difference between the moral case for/against suicide, which I feel like you’re more focused on, and whether or not there should be legal prohibition of it. In that sense it’s much the same as any number of vices. Drinking heavily is bad for you and may very well kill you, but it’s not *illegal*.

                      My point is that unless you can show that suicide somehow violates some other person’s rights, it should not be a *crime*. Like any right, people can make bad decisions but it’s their right to do just that, and the state should not intervene *if it doesn’t violate anyone else’s rights*. I’d be the first to talk someone out of killing themselves as I think it’s often not really what the person wants or needs, they’re just desperate for some help and they can’t figure out any other way to solve the situation. But they still have the *right* to make that choice.

                      The implications of saying that a person cannot kill themselves, by right, really are extremely far-reaching, because death is such an immensely important part of life. If the government can tell you when you can die then they *do* control a significant part of your life by virtue of that alone.

                      Does that clarify my position at all? I’m really not trying to convince anyone that we should celebrate suicide, or endorse it as a useful course of action.

                    • But there’s a giant difference between the moral case for/against suicide, which I feel like you’re more focused on, and whether or not there should be legal prohibition of it.

                      There is another of your assumptions showing up– from previous points, you think that the only reason to outlaw something is because it directly causes what you agree is harm to an unwilling party.

                      Even what you consider rights is an implicit assumption.

                    • I realize that’s an assumption as well, but what other basis for legislation would there be that is compatible with a limited form of government? Most alternative justifications for laws other than whether they cause demonstrable harm to people through rights violations leave the door wide open for expansion of government power.
                      I’m certainly not saying that I am the final word on what should constitutes right violations, but there must be some clearly identifiable principle underlying the statute for it to be objective and fair, and constitutional.

                    • I realize that’s an assumption as well, but what other basis for legislation would there be that is compatible with a limited form of government?

                      Well, the limits you want to apply would change that answer; not everyone thinks that more gov’t power is the worst possible side-effect….
                      Balancing restrictions on the individual with the greater good.
                      Recognizing reneging-on-obligations as “harm.”

                      There are MANY identifiable principles underlying statues. There doesn’t have to be just one.

                      Even your idea of what is “fair” is not objective! They rest on the idea of a shared culture, with shared assumptions– getting people to recognize even the most basic ones, like “most people, historically, do not recognize all humans as people.”

                      You’re the one that wants to change things, so the weight is on you to show it’s not consistent, and do so in a way that works with several centuries where it was considered consistent.

                    • Drinking heavily is bad for you and may very well kill you, but it’s not *illegal*.

                      While drinking heavily is not in and of itself illegal, drinking heavily and then acting in such a way so as to endanger yourself, others or property while under the influence is.

                    • I understand what you say as perfectly as I can… however I am not really arguing about the moral side of it (only incidentally)– I am telling you that it does have an affect on others in a very negative way. It is NOT a victimless crime– and some of these suicides try and take others with them (such the current situation). I am just saying that I am of the opinion that is why attempted suicide is a crime. (Plus attempted suicide uses medical resources of which the suicide usually can’t pay for) –of course if a person has committed suicide, it is not a crime because he is dead…(I am only using the personal pronoun he — as a collective pronoun… so he she it, whatever.)

                    • That’s an arguable position. (Obviously. You argued it.) Whether it’s obvious is another matter.

                    • Plus Maartje– I do understand that you do NOT celebrate suicide– I see that you are thinking it as a right issue. I am of the opinion that suicide is NOT a right– Rights are — to be able to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Founders used the term God-given rights–

                      So — I am doing my soap box again– please forgive me. ;-)

                    • I’m not arguing that suicide is a separate right, but that it is implied by the right to life, which is one of the most basic rights we have as human beings.

                      This conversation branched enough that I no longer know who raised this point, but I certainly agree that if someone kills themselves and in the process of doing so endangers/kills others, that invalidates their right and should they survive, we probably should try them for the harm they caused.

                      But in other situations, while there is a significant impact on other people, I think we need to differentiate between these situations where the damage is financial or emotional (i.e. you lose a parent who is a breadwinner, for example, so everyone is worse off… but breaking someone’s heart or not providing income for the family isn’t by itself a violation of their rights), with clear uses of force (like in situations where you have murder/suicides, or someone accidentally suffocates their kids along with themselves).

                      Certainly, the parent who commits suicide leaves their children (much) worse off, but they didn’t violate their children’s rights in a meaningful way, because there is no right to be taken care of by someone else. There certainly is a moral obligation there, though. We might say that the parent has a legal obligation to provide for their kids, but then that is no longer specific to suicide, it would apply just as much to any other type of abandonment.

                    • “Right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” is not the same as the right to kill myself– No I won’t argue more because I have stated what I want to state.

                    • That’s fair. We can leave it at that. Thanks for the discussion, everyone :)

                    • Not providing income or physical care for the family, particularly when children are involved, is called abandonment, and abandonment is considered a crime. Therefore suicide when you have minor children would logically fall into a category of candidates for being illegal as it is a permanent irredeemable form of abandonment.

                      (I say this fully recognizing that there are plenty of living people who do not shoulder the responsibilities they have taken on…)

                    • We’re argueing this back and forth, and really it’s kind of a mute point anyways. What exactly is the government going to do to someone who has already committed suicide? If they prosecute attempted suicide, POSSIBLY that might cause the potential suicidee to make sure they do the job right, but if they are successful the only person who can punish them is God (or Satan), last I checked the afterlife is still out of the jurisdiction of the US Justice Department.

                    • AAAAUUUGGGHHH!!! Moot point , not mute point.

                      Sorry, that’s one of my buttons. (Goes to sit quietly in the corner after that outburst.)

                    • ROFL. Calm down Naleta, it’s not like someone confused Capital and capitol. THEN you’re justified in going unhinged, screaming, “No, the troops didn’t ride through the capitol. The horses would break something.” Er… at least I DO.

                    • I mean obvious in light of the constitutional principles involved. I do think that if you consistently apply those then …

                      Then it would be a first. The only thing consistent about the interpretation and application of Constitutional Principles is the inconsistency of their application and interpretation.

                      Sad but true. And it is too late to turn that clock back; efforts to do so only engender further inconsistencies.

                    • “AAAAUUUGGGHHH!!! Moot point , not mute point”

                      I spelled it moot in my head; my fingers just didn’t obey my brain.

                      Go ahead and speak your mind, no need to sit mootly in the corner.
                      /runs/

                    • “No, the troops didn’t ride through the capitol. The horses would break something.”

                      Personally I think there are quite a few things in the capitol that would be improved by a horse stomping on them. (Ok, well quite a few people at least)

    • Quibble, re: His Girl Friday it was ‘production for use.’ (If you beg to differ I will suffer the task of sitting down to watch it again just to check. :-) )

      Oh, and for any who have not seen the film, I would highly recommend you do. It is Howard Hawk’s remake of The Front Page starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.

  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_pistol I’m fairly sure this is what Sarah was offered in the train stations. From WWI to the outbreak of WWII, the Spanish were building this pistol for the French. They didn’t have enough factory capability in the majors, so anyone who was capable of building a simple blowback Ruby could subcontract. After France fell, the Spanish government told the subcontractors, many of whom were basement machine shops, many of which the government didn’t know about, to stop. Please. No more Ruby pistols. Ha, fat chance. Hey, cute Portuguese girl, want a good .32 pistol for self defense?

    • I don’t think it was for self defense. I was very angry in those days. It came across in pictures.

      • By the way, a couple of days ago, a truckdriver and a friend of his stole a shipment of 100 Smith and Wesson handguns and literally were selling them on the street.

        • Back about the time I was in high school a friend was offered a 1911 .45 with U.S. stamped on the butt (I don’t remember the price) and a M60 for a $1000.
          The armory at Fort Lewis had been robbed a few weeks before that, so for some reason my friend suspected they might be a leeettle bit hot!

          • Ah, hell, US arsenal was the main supplier of the Irish Republican Army. When National Guard Armories actually contained, you know, arms, the bank robbers looted them fairly regularly. An oddly cast TV movie I saw in the Seventies, with Henry Winkler as a crooked military quartermaster selling M16s to terrorist Sissy Spacek was apparently based on fact.

    • There are some people who collect as many variations of the Spanish “Eibar / Ruby” pistols as they can find.

  12. By the way, if police point a pistol at you and demand your ID, DO NOT REACH FOR YOUR ID. That’s how any number of innocent people have been shot by the cops. Just raise your hands and keep them up and wait for them to calm down and approach you.

    • Similarly, if pulled over, roll down the window, keep your hands on the wheel, and don’t go digging in the glovebox for paperwork until the cop asks you for it.

      • Exactly– and remember that the nice policeman is just a part of another gang and is suspicious of anyone who is not in his immediate gang.

        • And he has no idea if you’re a nice law-abiding citizen or a doped-out gangsta with a penchant for filling cops full of lead.

          Don’t give him a reason to think you’re threatening him.

          • He always assumes you are a doped-out gangsta– because he wants to go home at night– and if he kills you, then he will get a few days off with pay.

            • Maybe in your town.

              I live in a sleepy community of about 30,000 with a small uniformed force (supplemented by the county sheriff and state police, of course), where the crime that made the news most recently was the discovery of a counterfeit $1 bill at a local feed store.

              Here, the cops probably assume any crazy driver is a kid on his learner’s permit or who just wants to show off his nice pickup to the local girls. :)

              • I miss those days of small-town policeman who know the members of their community– ;-) Ours have a few problems– my hubby even knows some of them, but we are treated the same as the ganstas–

              • Wayne Blackburn

                You’re town has a higher population than my whole county, but we have a Meth problem here.

                Still, even the drug dealers who lived on my street were generally nice guys. They were raided and hauled off a couple of years ago, though.

                • We had a neighbor a couple of streets over that decided to make crystal meth in her basement, with the help of her live-in boyfriend (I personally think it was his idea from the beginning, but I’m not a cop). Her daughter and mine knew each other from school. The cops finally busted them. The house has sold three times since then. I guess you can’t get the smell out or covered up even with ten coats of Kilz.

                  • The problem in our area is that drug dealers move into empty houses and then leave when they are finished. The bank finds out when they check on the property and find it unlivable. Or there have been meth dealers making meth in hotel rooms–

                  • It’s not just the smell. It’s a hazard.

                    • To elaborate:
                      If it’s done right, there’s highly toxic cast-offs, both vapors and stuff that can be dumped out back.

                      If it’s done wrong, you’ve got that, fire, explosions, etc.

                      Plus the risk of someone breaking in to steal the drugs, and we all know how very careful the drug-related are with their bullet trajectory…..

                    • Yes, and it can make you ill. The only way to cope with it is to STRIP the WALLS down to the studs, then rebuild.

                    • My inner 11-year-old saw “strip” and “studs” in there and nearly snorted hot sweet tea out my nose. Pity, as the schnozzola could stand rinsing.

                    • “To elaborate:
                      If it’s done right, there’s highly toxic cast-offs, both vapors and stuff that can be dumped out back.

                      If it’s done wrong, you’ve got that, fire, explosions, etc.”

                      A lot of this depends on which type of meth is being made, the original (to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t done any in depth research on the subject) often called prope-dope, is VERY touchy, and if done wrong tends to cause booms. Pill dope, made from ephedrine or psuedoephedrine is much less touchy and unlikely to explode, while fires can still develop because a lot of flammable liquids are used, that is mainly due to idiocy on the part of the cook. Bathtub dope is what is commonly made in hotel rooms, made in a bathtub as the name implies, it is unlikely to cause fires or explosions. All of them however leave some really nasty toxic byproducts.

  13. The policy of hiding passively in a classroom after attempting to lock doors has always infuriated me. The cower-in-place policies are quintessential bureaucrats’ dreams. It certainly makes their life later, tagging ‘n’ bagging, more convenient – especially if the students are seated alphabetically …

    The real answer to any active shooter incident is to use every tool at your disposal to get away as fast as possible and if you can’t escape the shooter, to resist with every tool you have. Throw things, bite, scratch, claw … the works.

    A bit of history, the worse school mass murders in the US? 1927 in Michigan. The weapon? Explosives.

    • The bureaucrats want people to cower in the classroom because that’s what they would do, therefore — because they are the most intelligent people ever, just ask them — that’s The Correct Thing To Do.

      Sorta like the logic of driving a Pious… er… Prius.

      • One of the disturbing things about that whole fiasco with the tracking devices in schools (out of many), is that it can also be quite easily abused by one of these maniacs. All it takes is for them to get into whatever part of the school has the tracking monitors that tell them where all the kids are. Oh well, one more reason to homeschool.

        • IF I ever have another kid to educate (could happen. If I ever have enough money, I’d STILL like to adopt) he/she will NOT see the inside of a school building till college. Even if I have to fight city hall to homeschool.

      • Almost caused an accident the other day. See, my husband is NOT political and had not heard that particular idiom. So, as we’re driving behind a car which did something odd, I told Dan “Be careful hon. Chances are they don’t think laws apply to them, since they drive a pious.”

        The ensuing laughter made Dan unsafe as a driver for a second…

        • Good thing I wasn’t taking a drink when I read that, or it would now be all over my laptop.

        • Great. Now, in addition to the possibility of being killed in a wreck with an SUV driven by somebody who thinks the laws of _physics_ don’t apply to them, now I have to add the risks from the drivers of Prii who merely think themselves exempt from the Rules of the Road.

          • Hey! I drive an SUV, and I for one am fully aware of how much space my vehicle takes up.

              • Sarah with an SUV…

                That’s just a little scary…

                • Expedition. Before that I had an OLD suburban. We bought the suburban to make do while looking for another car. Someone sold it to us for 1100 (All we had in the bank at the time) because they’d been in an accident and didn’t want to repair it. instead they took the pay out and used it as downpayment on another car.
                  Well… we did get another car (for Dan) but the Suburban JUST kept going and going. It was missing a front bumper and the left side was stove in and I found that people got out of my way as soon as they saw me coming. I LOVED that car. Unfortunately, apparently related to the lack of a front bumper, the steering slowly decayed, and after five years we had to get rid of it.

                  • Hyundai Santa Fe… 2005, one of the last ones before they changed body styles. It’s been a good, reliable vehicle for me, even though I got it used. I am definitely considering another Hyundai when this one finally goes to the junkyard.

                  • Missing bumper probably caused by collision that caused damage to the frame. Would eventually cause steering problem. To keep driving was a risk the owners did not want to take, but it turned out to be a solid, smart gamble for you.

                  • I drove a Lada Niva for several years. Only off-road capable car I have ever been able to afford, but as I have said before, Ladas are somewhat better than their reputation. And that Niva was surprisingly good on bad roads. And in winter. Noisy (inside, especially when driving faster ear plugs would have been a good idea), and used a lot of fuel, but the only time I got stuck anywhere was when it sank up to the axles in mud. I really miss it. Wish I could get another one, but they have not been exactly popular for decades so not that many used ones around. And I can’t afford most of the other off-road cars or SUVs even used.

                    I did almost squash a small car with it once, though. I was changing lanes and that little thing had managed to hide exactly in the blind spot. Fortunately it came visible to me before I actually hit it, but it was rather close.

            • Not really about the amount of space. Just about those SUV drivers whose behavior clearly demonstrates that they believe that 4 wheel drive grants them an exemption from “momentum equals mass times velocity”.

              To observe them in the wild, just visit the ditches beside any interstate highway in the Northern half of the United States, during winter time. (Or, for that matter, anywhere at all in the US after a sufficiently heavy rain.)

              • Must be where you live… here, it’s not the SUVs that end up that way, it’s the idiots with the pickups jacked up so high they need stepladders to get in.

              • We have a lot of SUVs here — mountains plus snow… and most don’t do that, but yeah, I know what you mean.

              • I have a short story in my Naked Reader collection in which I described, accurately, driving from Gastonia to Cherryville NC in bad snow, and passing one raised four wheel drive pickup truck after another skidded too far off the road to be retrieved except by tow truck.

                • Driving an early-Seventies Chevy Nova.

                • This reminds me of the time we were coming home from a trip to Toledo during an ice storm. An idiot in some 4-wheel drive vehicle zipped past us (we were in an E-150 conversion van). We passed him about 20 minutes later. He was in the ditch and we were still creeping along on the road.

                • These are usually the idiots that live in a city and never drive anywhere they actually need 4-wheel drive, but have a big jacked up truck because, ‘it looks cool.’ Get a little snow and they think, “Let’s take my truck, IT’S A 4-WHEEL DRIVE.” Two problems with that,
                  1. You still have to know how to drive in conditions, regardless of what you are driving.
                  2. 4-wheel drive helps you move… not stop.
                  3. It only helps if you actually ENGAGE the 4-wheel drive.

                  Ok, that was three, so, sue me.

                  • Yeah. I drove down from NH to Raleigh NC to get married in 2009 when that December blizzard hit the East Coast. I was stuck in DC traffic when it started snowing and was unable to go anywhere, ended up driving for 22 hours straight. It was utter madness on I-95 that day. 18-wheelers falling over everywhere, cars crashing and sliding. I was so glad I was used to driving in snow, AND had my snow tires on.

                    Also, do you know how much it sucks to have to hold your bladder for 10 hours after drinking 2 energy drinks? =P

                    • “Also, do you know how much it sucks to have to hold your bladder for 10 hours after drinking 2 energy drinks? =P”

                      No, one of the advantages of being a guy is that you seldom have that pleasure. All you need is an open car door to preserve modesty :)

                    • Pish-tosh – not even that. All that is needed is a wide-mouthed* bottle with resealable lid.

                      *Sigh – the 7th Form boys will please stop boasting about “how wide” a bottle you require. As the song says, It ain’t the meat, it’s the emotion.

                    • “As the song says, It ain’t the meat, it’s the emotion.”

                      There is a typo in there, you added an extra letter to the last word.

                    • Nyah – the songwriters left it out. Ask the ladies. (The trollops will concur with you.)

                    • One of my sisters was in Washington DC a year it snowed. A lot. Her roommates were from Georgia and India. She drove them a lot that winter.

                      Her big complaint was that they were just as stupid about snow for the last storm as the first.

                    • Yeah, now when I visit NC during the winter it makes me nervous going outside because people just lose what little common sense they have when the weather turns snowy. I never drove in snow before coming here and it took me all of a few weeks to get the basics down. Peoples…

                    • Oh yeah. Dan and I — when we lived there — watched people in four wheel drive vehicles fishtail in half an inch of snow. (We moved from Charlotte 20 years ago.)

                    • Yeah. I went last winter (granted it was mild with little snow) driving on my all-season tires, although I did buy the ones that had the very best snow ratings for all-seasons. Once you figure out how to control the car in modest amounts of snow, though, that helps a great deal. Of course, I wouldn’t try that on worn-down tires in a bad storm.

          • After moving over to the Seattle area, I thought that there was just something about owning an SUV or large pickup that made people unable to drive decently.

            Having been here a few years, and calmed down enough that I can notice something besides the guy who just tried to run over my big, red van, I’ve realized: it’s not that the SUVs are especially bad drivers, they just drive like all the other city drivers. IE, like idiots who think the laws of physics are similar to the laws about the stop sign they just rolled through. You just NOTICE them because…well, they’re large and more likely to be a threat. Same way that really bad truck drivers are usually just driving like normal car drivers. (Yes, there are a lot of good drivers on the road, and responsible people. That’s the only reason there aren’t more deaths.)

            • The only people more cursed at, west of the Rockies, than Seattle drivers; is California drivers.

              Oh, and truck drivers are like refrigerators; close the door and the light goes off. /looks around for any truck drivers, ducks and runs/

              • Same folks, these days.

                I know SOME truck drivers are OK, but… heck, I remember growing up, truckers were some of the few drivers mom COMPLEMENTED. Real pros.

        • YOU’RE the one! 8^)
          Actually, I think Colorado Springs drivers are really bad. I’ve driven in places like Rome, Frankfurt, Paris, Denver, Dallas, New Orleans, Saigon and Panama City, Panama. The people of Rome are in a class by themselves, but Co. Springs could also qualify for that distinction. Defensive driving is critical to survival in this town.

          • NOT as bad as Denver, and nowhere near as bad as Charlotte, NC. No, trust me on this.

            • Not as bad as Panama or the south end of CA– ;-)

              • I just got in a little while ago, so I have question. When did they stop teaching people to DIM THEIR HEADLIGHTS WHEN FOLLOWING SOMEONE!!!

                • I have no idea bearcat– maybe about the time they forgot to teach the students to read???

                • I have wondered the same. Some of the new headlights are mighty bright even when dimmed, in some states there has been discussion about whether those lights are illegally bright. Then, because of their height, the headlights on trucks and suvs can be a problem to lower vehicles, particularly if they are following too closely. (Do they still teach safe following distance?)

                  Many are still taught to dim their lights when following. I know The Daughter was; she was also taught safe following distance, but I digress. Something more insidious is happening. Students in school are learning a lack of regard for the actual material one is being taught. There is a pervasive attitude of ‘will it be on the test, after which I can forget it.’

                  • Headlights are seldom correctly adjusted.

                    Pet peeve of one of the shade-tree mechanics that worked on my car– he’d never had a car come in, even for an oil change, where the lights weren’t adjusted illegally high.

                    • True, but obviously (I know that is a dangerous word on this thread ;) ) not the problem when the car following me dims its lights for oncoming traffic, then immediately flips them back to highbeam in my mirrors as soon as the oncoming traffic passes.

                    • Ah! The common donkey anus phenomena!

                      It means you’re going too slow, as evidenced by being in front of them, or that they’re just jerks.

    • My kid said that, today, the Social Studies teacher — an ex-military dude — was telling them that if someone appeared with a gun… Throw things, shout, scream, run around, be confusing and resist. (And, presumably, distract the person while the ex-military guy closes to take away the weapon… The teacher didn’t mention that part, but that would be my distinct suspicion.)

      New Hampshire is, in many ways, an Odd state.

  14. When I was in high school in the late 90s/early 00s in the Netherlands we had a pretty ill-behaved class, but for the most part it wasn’t the type of behavior that was violent or dangerous in any way. The way the education system there worked we were actually all the top 10% or so of students based on academic scores, and for the most part just walked all over the teachers. Unless they were the type of teacher who just demanded, and got, respect. Funny, that :)
    Still, I feel like from what I’ve seen here in the US that would never be tolerated. I don’t know enough to say for sure whether that’s a justified difference in approach, or if it’s just that there is a fundamentally mistaken assumption that schools here use in dealing with ‘problem’ students.
    I do think that the kind of separation based on academic proficiency and desire to learn hands-on skills (almost like apprenticeships) in high school can be very helpful, as you have much less of a variance in ability in any given group. Here it feels like teachers are constantly going over/under the heads of half the class, no matter what they do? And lastly, it was very common for kids to be held back a year if they didn’t do well enough. You never saw a 6th grader whose abilities were on the 3rd grade level; if that was the case they would be held back a year or two so they’d be closer to their actual level. I don’t know why that happens less over here, either.

    • It’s because, Maartje, we can’t possibly damage the fragile self-esteem of a student by not passing him/her on to the next highest level. PC at its dumbest is displayed in the average school district.

      • Ah, I forgot about that one. It’s the perennial idea of placing the cart before the horse. As if giving a kid the consequence of hard work/success makes them more likely to want to work for those things. I suppose it may be too much to expect some people to follow the direction of causality. They certainly don’t teach it in schools.

        • Keep in mind that “tracking” was pretty thoroughly discredited when it was learned that schools had been systematically abusing the process, inducing racial bias.

          Of course, rather than correct the abuse they threw out the entire idea, with predictable results.

          “Disparate impact” is all the judges need to know to decide that a test is unfair, even though the difference being measured demonstrably exists. See: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/reading_riting_and_race_HuOzG2iaw6tOmSHkdzo8mI

          WARNING: The material at that link is likely to make steam come out your ears.

          • What do you mean by “tracking”? I don’t know if I’ve seen that term used in this context before.

            • Approximately, it means discerning a child’s level of ability to learn, and teaching them accordingly.

              Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Well, use the word around anyone who lives inside the education bubble, and they’ll react as if you’d just proposed that they take up murdering babies and drinking their blood.

              No…that’s not quite right. They’d give the whole drinking-infant-blood thing a far fairer hearing than they’d give any discussion of “tracking”.

              • Oh, yeah. While we’re at it, let’s toss out the other babies with the bathwater, too. Surely, if someone abuses something we should just ban it for everyone right? (Any parallels with gun control are *entirely* accidental). It’s rather fascinating how many ‘solutions’ end up hurting the innocent. You’d almost think it wasn’t a coincidence, but that would be rather cynical.

              • It is, of course, monstrous. How can you teach the bright students bad study habits if you give them sufficient work?

            • From Wiki:

              Tracking is separating pupils by academic ability into groups for all subjects or certain classes and curriculum within a school. It may be referred as streaming or phasing in certain schools. In a tracking system, the entire school population is assigned to classes according to whether the students’ overall achievement is above average, normal, or below average. Students attend academic classes only with students whose overall academic achievement is the same as their own.
              Among older students, tracking systems usually diverge in what students are taught. Students in academically advanced tracks study higher mathematics, more foreign languages, and literature. Students in less academic tracks acquire vocational skills such as welding or cosmetology, or business skills, such as typing or bookkeeping. Students are usually not offered the opportunity to take classes deemed more appropriate for another track, even if the student has a demonstrated interest and ability in the subject.
              [SNIP]
              Although, in theory, track assignment is based on academic ability, other factors often influence placement.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracking_(education)

              In America those “other factors” typically meant “Race” while in Britain it boiled down to “Class.”

              • It boils down to class in Germany, too. Except the children have a chance to escape, which in some countries is impossible.

                • I never got that impression in the Netherlands, although I really only experienced how it worked for me at one school, which may not reflect the whole. But the way they structure it there is to use a combination of standardized testing plus the elementary school teacher’s opinion of the student’s ideal environment for learning to figure out what would be the best track for them. After that, you just need to get passing grades to stay in your track, and high grades to get to a higher one. Either way, it’s based on academic achievement and fairly well-established rules, so I don’t think too much bias comes into play.

                  My cousin started in one of the lowest tracks due to undiagnosed dyslexia, and eventually graduated from two tracks higher by working really hard. All I can say is that from what I know over there it works quite well. But the Netherlands never had much of a class/race division like you had in Britain/US, so maybe it’s the culture that makes it harder to do?

                  • I live in the US now Maartje– but I was in Germany for six years when my hubby was a contractor for the US military. We lived in the upper levels of a house of a German family and saw it happen to their oldest son. He had the grades to go into the highest level. The tracks in Germany have to be brought to the parents and the parents say whether the child can go on an academic track or not.

                    In his case his family were offended that he could go to the university because they were strong working class people. So he was not allowed to do it. However when he finished his track as a chemistry technician (mostly vocational track), he went to the academic track– only because he had gone through one track, he had to pay for it this time. It was a lot of money. Plus in the middle of it he had to do his two years in the German army. His only option was to go through schooling for a medical track (I think it was chiropractic doctor) because it was new and no one wanted to do it. –this kid was smart and could speak more than two languages. His English was as good as mine.

                    • I live in the US now, myself. And wow, that’s a rather awful situation. I don’t think we had to pay extra to be in school longer, but that would have sucked. The parents chose what high school to apply the kid to, I suppose, but most of the time I think the school would place them at the appropriate level. I don’t know how they resolved differences of opinion, though. I can ask my dad, he was a vice-principal forever so he knows a lot more about how some of these systems functioned. I was just a teenager who had books on his mind ^_^

                  • “But the way they structure it there is to use a combination of standardized testing plus the elementary school teacher’s opinion of the student’s ideal environment for learning to figure out what would be the best track for them.”

                    Actually that sounds like a tremendous amount of bias could come into play. You have a much higher opinion of elementary school teacher’s non-biased opinions than I do.

                    • Let me explain that a bit better: what schools primarily look at is the standardized test scores, there’s certain cut-offs for each track. The teacher’s opinion only comes into play when someone tends to test poorly and the parents/teacher argue that they should be placed into a higher track than their test scores indicate because it doesn’t accurately reflect their abilities.

                      Under normal conditions the test that determines where you start off is sort of like the 6th grade equivalent of the SAT.

                    • I got put in the below average track in third grade, because I had a speech defect, and anyone who talked that badly had to be stupid.

                    • Yeah, I mean the best way to do it in my mind is to highly individualize education, like how most people home school, except maybe using a lot of online resources. Of course, that doesn’t work in brick schools with their massive overhead.

                      Still, in terms of public schools, I think splitting the kids up according to ability (to whatever extent possible) is better, on a balance, than keeping them all together. Oh, one final thing I forgot to add is that in the Netherlands you can send your kid to any public school you want, so if you disagreed with how one school handled your child it was easy enough to go some place else. Over here, with most kids being assigned a specific school, that would create a much more powerful monopoly that you can only break by moving (which usually isn’t an option).

              • Interesting. The local high-school appears to offer voluntary “tracking” (though they don’t call it that!), but the “talk to the parents of the kids who’ll be here next year” presentation didn’t suggest that you had to choose a track and stick with it. I wonder if the options will be free for the kids to choose, or if there’s going to be pressure one way or another.

                (Considering that “vocations” may be more quickly profitable than something “requiring” a college degree… Not a bad idea to offer the tracks!)

                • How can there not be pressure? What would we do, put the kids in isolation?

                  • Pressure from the school counselors, I mean — i.e., if they’ll really let the kids choose according to interest (and, presumably, ability), or if there will be a tendency for the area’s few Blacks/Hispanics to be pointed at Vocational instead of College tracks, or what.

                    Can’t stop pressure from parents…

              • That’s pretty much how it worked during my school years, too, only the difference in classes didn’t show up until high school. What it did in the earlier grades was to give the teacher an idea of what to expect from his students, allowed him to adjust his curriculum to meet the capabilities of his students, and to know what group would give him the most discipline problems (top and bottom 20%).

                In high school, there was a college prep path, a vocational/technical path, and a third path – can’t remember what it was called – maybe business. There wasn’t a lot of choice available. The school REQUIRED 4 years of English, 4 years of PE, 3 years of math, 3 years of science, and 2 years of history/social studies for all students. The different paths were offered through “electives”. There were six periods a day, so a student usually only had one or two electives per semester. It took 17 credits to graduate (1 credit = 1 full year of instruction. Half-credits were for a semester). A student would only need four electives to graduate (PE only counted for 1/4 credit per year). I think I graduated with 21 credits. Most of the kids in the “college prep” track graduated with an equal number.

                • Sounds pretty much like my high school, only I believe we had to have 3 years history/social studies (one of those an elective) and 3 years PE. Our PE counted as a normal credit however, so there was 24 credits possible in 4 years, and you needed 23 to graduate. The town ten miles away had 4 classes per day, and a full credit for each semester, so 8 credits per year, and they only needed 18 credits to graduate. Needless to say many kids that didn’t have the necessary credits to graduate changed schools and went to Rochester, were they could graduate without taking summer school and/or a fifth year.

  15. I read things like this here and shake my head in wonder. I guess I lived in a fool’s paradise and didn’t know it.

    I was never really bullied in school. You don’t pick on people who have anywhere from 25 to 30 cousins in the same school that can rally in seconds, and WILL defend you. We may fight among ourselves, but we united when outsiders attack any of us.

    Our school divided our class (all 130 of us) into five groups by the end of second grade. If you were in the upper 20%, you went into one group, and the rest were sorted by their placement. That way, the bright ones were not held back by the slow, and the slow got the extra attention they needed without burdening the rest with the kind of repetition such classes required. A few people would migrate from their group to one higher or lower, depending on how well they did, but the group was pretty well defined most of my school years — all 12 of them.

    As for disarming the United States: there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 MILLION weapons in the United States. Before the people designated to collect them could do more than begin, they’d all be dead. A little statistic: only about 15% of the people of the 13 original colonies were actually strongly committed to independence, yet they defeated the strongest military in the world of that time. There are thirteen million veterans in the United States between the age of 20 and 80. About 80% of those would probably rebel against a government the would try to confiscate our personal weapons. The US military at this time, thanks to Clinton, Bush, and Obama, numbers somewhere between three to four million. Yeah, they have all the fancy equipment, but who says they’d follow the lead of someone on the path to become the first tyrant government of the United States? Most of them are angry at Obama for many reasons. It wouldn’t take much to push them into open revolt.

    We live in VERY interesting times. I just pray to God that we survive it as a free, independent nation.

  16. You know we are in trouble when the first thing the press does is immediately report on the killer’s popularity, whether he was considered to be successful enough for his age, etc. It is just an excuse to say the good people are those who fit and the one’s who don’t are the problem. They never told us about Obama’s college career even though we are entitled to know what ideas motivate our leaders. It was enough that we peasants know that he was a cool guy by high school and college standards.

    The same applies to gun control. Those of sufficient station (including actors) get to have the right of self-protection, those not so fortunate have their ability to say no removed.

    There are those who would say that worrying about how to prevent gun control and how schools handle non-conformity trivializes the horror in CT but it is hard to see how respecting individualism does not create greater respect for individual human life. Dehumanization in society only makes it harder for those who are mentally challenged in discerning reality to see that what they are doing has consequences. Just as in the mind of the Left a classroom is an object within society to be managed as seen fit so in the mind of the mass murderer the classroom is an object to be managed as seen fit. Probably no coincidence that when the well-socialized psychopaths are in charge government takes the place of mass murderers.

    • The well-socialized sociopaths are always in charge. The poorly-socialized sociopaths scare the voters too much, the the non-sociopaths don’t want to be in charge enough to get the job.

    • The government is pretty much THE mass murderer these days. Not here, just yet, because there are still all those guns in private hands, but they are tirelessly working to change that. Look at
      http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/MURDER.HTM
      for a reality check

    • Interestingly enough, the one actor all the media quoted in favor of the Second Amendment was Samuel L. Jackson. Very leftist, but he was one of the original Black Panthers, and he has stuck with the group’s pro gun self-sufficiency streak.

      • [SEARCHENGINE] “eric holder columbia university rotc” for interesting reports on our Attorney-General’s youthful views on arms and The Man.

  17. This one strikes many chords with me. I’ll have to post more detailed thoughts on this after my trip to Ohio.

    After some school shooting, it was decided that in the event that a shooter was loose in my highschool, everyone would lock the classroom doors, and all the students would hide under their desks. In the event anyone was locked out in the hallways, we weren’t to open the door for them for any reason. We were also instructed to not offer any resistance whatsoever to any school shooter, because that would antagonize them. It was better that we lay down and die for the sake of our classmates than risk angering the maniac.

    In a rare outbreak of sanity, our German teacher told us “$@$% that ##$%! Here’s how this will really go down – if any maniac decides to break into this class, you’re all to rush him with the sharpest, heaviest objects you can get your hands on, and I’m leading the charge.”

    • I love your German teacher!

    • It was better that we lay down and die for the sake of our classmates than risk angering the maniac.

      If students are allowed to get the idea that they are capable of taking direct action on their own behalf, think what kind of society would result! Far better to inculcate patterns of obedience to authority … at least, better from the viewpoint of those in authority.

      • I wonder also to what extent there is a fear of litigation at work here. Perhaps some school districts are terrified that if they tell the teens to be more proactive they’ll be held liable. Of course, if it was my kid in that situation I’d be a hundred times more pissed if they told them to hide, but I don’t know if that’s true for every parent. I can certainly see people freaking out over a more proactive approach…

        • That’s likely part of it.

          In the recent past, I remember several stories of store clerks in the US who were fired after stopping robberies, instead of meekly obeying the robbers… presumably because the company didn’t want the liability.

          • Kinkos and the banks tell the cashiers to give it over– My brother was a cashier when he was robbed (at a bank). He grinned at the robbers because he knew he’d get two paid days for the trauma– No the robbers didn’t shoot– Another case I heard about, an off-duty policeman was at the bank. He had the kid outside on the ground (in the middle of the winter). When he said he had dynamite, he backed off with the gun trained on the robber. The would-be robber was on the ground (in the middle of winter) while a robot cut his backpack off of him and then they exploded it. The robber is still in prison…and he was an illegal going to the college –

          • Autozone was the most recent to lose my business that way. I ought to send their corporate office a copy of the several-hundred-dollar receipt for parts I bought elsewhere last week and a note on why it’s not *their* name at the top there…

            • Go for it.

              Betcha you’ll get a form letter back.

              • I’ll up the ante, and say if he gets any response back, it’ll be a “Thank you for your business, we appreciate the support” letter. Maybe with coupons.

                On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                > ** > Conservative Wanderer commented: “Go for it. Betcha you’ll get a form > letter back.” >

            • In all fairness to the “hand it over” policy as a baseline/recommendation – by the time a punk with any experience has cased the joint (and you, as the clerk, have not let it be known – subtly – that you’re aware of his casing/preparations, and moved to cut his options down) and actually initiated the holdup, he’s doing it because he’s a) far more likely than even us to deal out violence instantly and summarily, to save face/etc., and b) because he’s rigged the game in his favor.

              Aa guy who’s threatening violence as part of a burglary almost always has a demand that, if met, will keep everyone arrive, and isn’t likely to go off and shoot people not viewed as a threat to their ego or bodies.

              An opening may be found to deal with b) – often the presence/arrival of a third party not expected to be a threat – in which case you may have a chance.

              That said – firing a clerk who successfully resisted – and thus showed good timing and judgment, is asinine and a dick move. I fully concur that one should avoid business with any company firing a clerk who resists.

              • The Captain America: The First Avenger disk (it may be on the DVD, it may be only on the Bluray) has a bonus short featuring Agent Coulson (may he rise again) as a third party in a convenience store hold-up.

                • My apologies; Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer (2011) is on the Thor Blu-Ray.

          • Union Road, South of Gastonia NC. Early Eighties. I talked with the clerk who had just been fired from the local 7-11 because he shot and killed the enraged robber who had all the money he could possibly get (the system of slow change renewal keeps the robbery take to a minimum, no matter how this enrages the robber against the clerk) and continued to try to bash his head in with a tire iron. The clerk said he would never consider potentially lethal force to guard his own or anyone else’s property, but without the snubnosed revolver the chain refused to allow him to carry, he would have been murdered.

    • Here here.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      My plan for such an eventuality is to tell everyone else to throw things at him, in order to distract, and I would charge. Not because I’m superman or anything; simply because 300+ pounds of lunatic crashing into almost anyone will take them down, and if they’re not the size of an NFL linebacker, that just might be permanent.

      • I never liked those drills. I mean for a fire drill, tornado drill, whatever you get up and *do* something to avoid the threat – go outside, go downstairs, etc, but for this we’re supposed to just… sit here with the lights off? To me, it always felt like it was a placeholder or something – like, we don’t have a proper drill for this, so we’re just going to *practice* having a drill. When they first introduced them at my high school, they said in assembly that they’d been developing a plan for stuff like that ever since virginia tech, which was about 2 years prior. And then we had the first drill, and I just sat there thinking “you spent two years consulting with experts to tell us to sit on the floor with the lights off? What the heck?” There’s the two basic human responses – fight or flight. And if they won’t encourage fight, they ought to at least encourage flight. Instead they’ve opted to encourage ‘wait like lambs for the slaughter’ which is not, in my humble opinion, a good idea.

        • “you spent two years consulting with experts to tell us to sit on the floor with the lights off? What the heck?”

          Two years, attending weekend conferences in places like Vegas & Oahu, staying at four-star resorts with open bars — paid for by grants from the Department of Education, DHS and OSHA.

          • snort. it wasn’t a bureaucracy effort, though – it was a little private school, and I *knew* the administrators and teachers who would have been involved with the planning. My literal first impression of the drill was that they’d gotten a dud of an expert who hadn’t come up with anything after being paid for two years, so they’d dropped him and decided to have a placeholder drill and would introduce the actual plan later. I figured right then that I’d save myself some listening time, and that if I ever actually heard shooting I was just gonna take a chair to the window and make for the hills. I mean, after a couple more drills it *kinda* sunk in that that actually was the plan, but it felt like a joke – you don’t have a real plan, so you just have us sit here in the dark. Seemed like a little bit of a betrayal, actually, that they couldn’t come up with anything better than that and I had to think up one on my own.

            • At least they didn’t have you donning bright orange shirts under the thesis that shooters were conditioned to avoid shooting anything orange.

              Which raises the question: what would be the optimum digicam for school shootings? Bookcase patterns? “Stand in front of the bookcase and wemain vewy vewy still.”

            • It gets better. My older kid’s high school has a network of tunnels underneath. Not only were they not part of an escape plan, when he was attending — right after the school in Russia got taken hostage — NO ONE WAS INSPECTING THEM. Kid organized patrols with classmates of going down there every so often at irregular intervals and making sure no one was oh… storing explosives there. Of course he had to do it unarmed, which wasn’t good. BUT at least it was being checked. And he designed an escape plan involving those tunnels. Because no one else was doing it.

    • Was your German teacher a Marine, by any chance? 8^) Seriously, that’s what I would do – throw something at the shooter to distract him, and then try to give him the biggest body slam anyone ever experienced.

  18. “Gun politics in Norway incorporates the political and regulatory aspects of firearms usage in the country. Citizens are allowed to keep firearms (normally for hunting and sports shooting). The acquisition and storage of guns is regulated by the state.”
    [SNIP]
    To own a gun in Norway, one must document a use for the gun. By far the most common grounds for civilian ownership are hunting and sports shooting, in that order. Other needs can include special guard duties or self defence, but the first is rare unless the person shows identification confirming that he or she is a trained guard or member of a law-enforcement agency and the second is practically never accepted as a reason for gun ownership.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Norway

    Anders Breivik

  19. Prohibition and limits on guns can be counted on to be as effective as the prohibition and limits on drugs and sexual trafficking are, and as prohibition and limits on alcohol was.

  20. Ahhh yes. Schools as prisons. Got that impression a looong time ago as I wondered in bewilderment at just how hard it was to get into my old high school to say hi to the teachers.

    If one believes John Taylor Gatto, it may even be deliberate. The degree to which it is so depends on how much credence you give his sources, but damn of teachers don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to only properly certified and unionized teachers being able to teach kids well.

  21. Keep in mind that for many of these members of the Managerial Class the technical advances made possible by the Odds is not especially appreciated. What they value above all is stability, gradual change … and by “gradual” they mean “makes molasses in January in Vermont look fast.”

    For many unions their work rules actively impair production changes that enhance efficiency and reduce costs to consumers. The MSM is bleeding vast quantities of dollars trying to publish crap on dead tree — and fighting tooth and nail to prevent alternative modes. I could go on, but it would merely be taking a buggy whip to a dead horse, trying to drive it into a stable where a mucker could reclaim its manure for recycling.

  22. When I switched schools in 5th grade, I encountered the “you read for pleasure, you must be strange” crowd (all-girl school). But bullying was not an option, since I was tougher and way more stubborn than any of them; even in groups they couldn’t make me give up, and I was the biggest kid for a couple of years since I hit puberty early. So I digested the lesson about the value of resistance in earning respect.

    I have to say this small (largest class = 40) K-12 school accommodated its odds well (of which I was one of the oddest) by letting us accelerate in place (I answered all the questions in the math books, 2 or 3 years at a pop until they ran out) doing self study, as long as we didn’t disrupt the rest of the students, letting us take more than the maximum number of classes, and sending me off to the local college for extra math classes my last two years. I appreciated it, the greatest enemy being boredom.

    BTW, I lived in Newtown, CT for 20 years. See my husband’s reminiscences post the shooting: http://neveryetmelted.com/2012/12/17/an-adorable-little-town/

  23. These days, I find myself wishing I was in school; then I could get what I most desired — expelled.

    My schooling predates the outbreak of school shootings (I think there was one in the US the entire time I was in school), but I think everyone knew full-well what The Plan was if something like that happened: “Assuming he’s not the shooter, get behind CF — he will attack, he will kill, and he *really* doesn’t care if he lives or dies”.

    (On the subject of Suicidal Insanity: I suspect there are truckers who still speak of the winter day on I-29 between KC and Omaha, and an ’84 Chevy 4×4 pickup with an 8′ whip antenna doing the speed limit in the packed-snow-covered left lane…. :) )

  24. Truth in Advertising laws should require all “Gun Free Zone” signs be changed to “Fish in a Barrel Zone” signs.

  25. When I hear the MSM and Liberal Politicians (but I repeat myself) say “we need to have a discussion” about guns in America, for some odd reason that resonates with the same tones I heard when Sister Mary Catherine responded to my excuse for not doing the assigned homework (A diorama? That’s stupid and a waste of time!) by advising me “we need to have a discussion about your attitude.”

    Or when Beloved Spouse looks at the bagful of books just purchased, looks at the stacks on the shelves, on the tables, on the cabinets, chairs, mantel, floor and informs me “we need to have a discussion.”

    Maybe we are going to have “a discussion,” but I suspect I will be expected to be mostly listening and not much “discussing” — although I think before I finish the “discussion” somebody plans on me saying “Yes, you are absolutely right, it is only reasonable and it will be best for everybody in the long term.” Except … they aren’t, it isn’t and it won’t be.

    • Whenever I here politicians or the MSM mention having a discussion, I immediately think of parents talking to their misbehaving kid, who is just old enough to understand multisyllable words (without being positive of their definition). In that case ‘discussion’ means: sit down and listen, as I tell you what is going to happen if you don’t do what I tell you to.

      I didn’t handle ‘discussions’ well as kid (and I respected my parents, unlike politicians), why do they expect me to handle them any better as an adult?

  26. Thank you for your story and insight. It’s refreshing.

  27. Pingback: Birthday Highlights | Pseudo-Polymath

  28. Pingback: Stones Cry Out - If they keep silent… » Things Heard: e241v3

  29. When I was in early elementary school (and to some more benign extent, throughout highschool), I was somewhat eccentric.

    Inconsistency upset me. Not being able to understand things (and by understand things, I mean have a complete working picture in my head, not a trite story or just-so soundbyte. I had to be able to *see why* something worked). This lead me to ask tons of questions, and to get frustrated with incomplete or contradictory answers (and if I simply lacked the ability at the time to understand the real reasons why things work, not the ‘lies told to children’. The deficiencies of ray optics in explaining diffraction, how gravity explained orbits when I didn’t have ODEs, things like that. As you can imagine, this is just about *everything* from the perspective of a 2nd grader).

    This behavior drove my teachers up a wall. No one could understand *why I cared*, much less had the patience to try to explain things to me. In particular my second grade teacher, who tried to have me institutionalized. The school had decided I was defective, and needed to be “fixed”. For a rather nightmarish year, some psychopharmacologists had me on all sorts of mind-bending drugs and monitoring equipment in an attempt to “fix me”. Eventually, after some rather frightening experiences, and the general impression that all the drugs were distorting who I was, my parents had enough and moved me to a different school for third grade, and got me the hell away from the psychopharmacologists. I slowly learned to be more normal (or at least pass) and fit in tolerably.

    But had my parents not had a say, if it were up to my enraged 2nd grade teachers, I wouldn’t have had a future – I wouldn’t have graduated college, wouldn’t have served in the military, wouldn’t be pursuing my PhD, just because I stuck out and annoyed the wrong people when I was 8.

    I suppose you could say I was one of the Odds. The type that is in danger whenever people decide that if they just get rid of all the square pegs, their world would be much more predictable.

    • We had to do the same because Marsh’s preschool teacher decided he was autistic (she’d studied AUTISM see, so…) and she told the first grade teacher who told the second grade teacher. Let’s just say if I hadn’t got him away he’d never have LEARNED anything. And no, he’s not autistic. He has sensory issues (what Cyn referred to as eyes not working together only in his case it’s his ears too, and his sense of touch is “off.” Well, not anymore. It’s growable-out-of in his case and he’s now almost normal. This syndrome SOMETIMES coexists with autism, but it’s also normal in math-gifted, visual BOYS. So…

      Then in middle school they decided he was a discipline problem for reasons stated in article and we brought him home to homeschool for a year, and then he went back to another school with NO MORE PROBLEMS.

      If we hadn’t been able to pull him out and walk, he probably would not be in college and doing well now.

      • I find it very scary that this type of thing is happening to boys– especially gifted boys.

        • This points up the problem of expectations (and branches into far more issues) — you interpret data because of your expectations. An inquisitive boy who has been labelled “difficult” may exhibit the identical behaviour as a boy labeled “bright & inquisitive” and get entirely different responses. This has been shown to occur even in such minor things as teachers’ reactions to children’s names, with identical behaviour from Kenneth and Jamal being interpreted very differently.

          • I’ve been doing a type of science outreach through the graduate school at a local sixth grade, and I’ve actually tried really hard to not assume anything about the kids even if they have ‘diagnosed/identified’ issues, and just respond to their actions. I feel like a lot of these labels, especially for young kids, tend to be self-reinforcing, and vastly color people’s responses to their behavior.

            There’s also the issue of the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’, which is another form of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you expect a certain kid to behave poorly and to fail to learn, and you tailor the material to what you think their level is, it’s extremely easy to make that outcome more likely. I think that applies just as much to the Odds if they mistakenly get picked up on the school radar. And not all kids make it through the system in spite of all the roadblocks… It’s a damn tragedy.

      • Since my daughter is autistic, and in several honors classes in High School, I find using that as an excuse to not teach someone reprehensible. (And she was diagnosed by the hospital, not the school. At most, the schools here are only allowed to suggest they get tested.) It does take the teachers a little readjustment to realize that just because she doesn’t appear to be paying any attention, it doesn’t mean that she isn’t processing what’s going on.

        On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 3:02 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “We had to do the same because Marsh’s > preschool teacher decided he was autistic (she’d studied AUTISM see, so…) > and she told the first grade teacher who told the second grade teacher. > Let’s just say if I hadn’t got him away he’d never have LEARNED anyt” >

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Speaking of hearing problems, I have a WEIRD one.

        It appears to be one of the symptoms related here:
        http://www.gemmlearning.com/central-auditory-processing-disorder-symptoms.php

        If I’m not already paying attention to what you’re going to say, it can take me up to several seconds to process speech that I hear. I know that someone has spoken, and at first, it sounds like a jumble, but I can actually track my processing of it to turn the sounds into words I can understand, and then I know what was said. I nearly drove my mother nuts by always responding to her with “What? (pause) Oh.”

        That was the final item that made me decide NOT to go into the military. I figured I would never last Basic anyway because of it.

        • That’s not normal?

          Both the driving someone nuts and the delayed hearing thing.

          My problem is that if I’m not paying attention, I’ll hear the oddest miss-hearings. (Thankfully, REALLY odd.)
          “Fire torpedoes!”
          WHAT?
          “I said, we’re having potatoes tonight. What did you think I said?”

          Extends to reading things, too. Generally, I misread street signs as commentary on whatever I’m thinking about or hearing on the radio. It would be pretty easy to duplicate on video, so I keep meaning to suggest it as a special effect…

          • This is worse for me because of mid range hearing loss.

            Also, back when I spoke seven languages and four of those (English, Portuguese, French German) as I now speak English, if I were in linguistically mixed company, I found if I were tuned to one language, the delay to understand the other was almost a minute long. I called it my “tape changing” time.

            • That gets fun when I talk to my mom on the webcam in Dutch and my wife asks me something in English. It can take at least several seconds for me to mentally switch gears, and often I may respond in the wrong language. I am so fluent in both that they’re almost interchangeable in my mind. Oops.

              • This still happens when I’m on phone with mom in Portuguese (she doesn’t speak English) and Dan shouts something from downstairs like “What did you want from the grocery store, again?” … I shout back a list in Portuguese. Half the time he understands it. Half the time he shouts back “And in English?”

            • When The Daughter came home from the summer language program she attended in Tokyo she took a while to adjust to hearing English again. It did have an up side. She and I were in a department store to pick something up when we came upon a parent seriously berating a child. It made me cringe. I said something to The Daughter about the incident once we had gotten out to the isle. She just looked at me with incomprehension. She had not processed it. (I also had to get used to her using various Japanese comments and vocalizations …)

            • I’m grateful to have been spared that difficulty by the grace of “Portuglish”. I spent a lot of time in Brasil around Americans who had gone semi-native. Even around those who spoke English, they would generally converse in a mashed up patois of Portuguese and English, switching languages from phrase to phrase or even word to word depending on which better expressed what they were saying. Probably would have given you headaches, Sarah. I can’t recall any off the top of my head, but I remember there being quite a few jokes and quips that only made sense if you spoke both languages fluently. Had a devil of a time trying to explain to people what was so funny.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            HAHA! “Fire Torpedoes!” ;-)

            Yeah, I forgot that one. I have it, too, but possibly not as much as you, because I don’t think of it very often. I don’t think I do the misreading street signs thing. My biggest visual problem is completely missing parts of things. I was delivering papers once (my one and only time trying to have a paper route), and I missed three houses on a cul-de-sac* simply because I didn’t see that they were marked on my map. I’ve also been known to miss things on a grocery list, even when I was marking them off as I went.

            * That’s weird – spellcheck doesn’t recognize “cul-de-sac”, but it suggests, among other things, “cool-de-sac” and “cult-de-sac”. Very weird.

          • No, I think it’s normal, just some abnormal person, without this problem, tried to convince Wayne that they were normal.

    • It is probably a big improvement, to live in a country such as the US, where the institutional response to such behavior (which basically comes down to “being too smart to fit in with a system optimized for mediocrity”) is drugs, rather than bullets.

      Still sad, though.

      My brother-in-law was basically ruined by such people. Congrats on getting out with your soul intact. Not all are so lucky.

    • Our kid’s second grade teacher wanted her held back a grade, despite all her tests showing her doing fine. (It was all on the social side of things, really.) This was prior to her Asperger’s diagnosis and IEP — more’s the pity; the IEP is a lovely stick to have held sweetly behind my back. I adore it. It worked out that we didn’t do that — all her friends were in her grade and she would rather go to an entirely different school than be held back — and she got an excellent 3rd grade teacher, and an okay 4th grade one.

      …she’s still in the mode of requiring answers, and not arguments from authority. (Happily, she seems to not need aides much anymore, so we don’t have to worry about her clashing with THAT problem. Which is good, because I was about to hunt down an aide and go Mama Grizzly on her butt.) Yeah, sometimes that’s not scaleable, but being frank about it and explaining later works so much better than trying the same “oh, hey, let’s keep running head-first into the wall! maybe it will work THIS time” stuff.

  30. I’d like to share my run-in with the shrinks, because it’s so funny.

    I was working in Schierstein, Germany, at the 497th RTG — a super outfit to be a part of. My job was data-base manager for our computer system. That also meant I, or the three people working for me, previewed and approved all outgoing intelligence messages, as well as signing for and distributing all incoming messages that didn’t go directly to the database (most of them). Because of that responsibility, our shop was manned 24/7. Well, there weren’t enough of us to cover everything without some real shift scheduling nightmares. The NCO that ran the entire shop and I didn’t get along, so any shift shortfalls were given to me to cover. That meant I worked days, swings, and mids, sometimes fourteen hours at a time, every week. I did that two and a half years before I finally had a PHYSICAL breakdown — my body just gave out, and I was unable to lift my arms, much less anything else. It didn’t help that I’d been working for a week with walking pneumonia.

    My commander decided that my problems were all psychiatric, and sent me to an in-patient psychiatric ward at the local hospital. That’s usually the death knell for any job requiring a security clearance. I was there for about seven days. On the seventh day, a Monday, I had an interview with the hospital commander and the chief of psychiatry at the hospital. On the eighth day, “interesting” things began to happen. By the end of the week I had a two-week vacation authorized, and I came back to a totally different job in a different section. I learned later that several very high-ranking officers got a blasting from the hospital commander, including the 2-star chief of Intelligence at Ramstein. The section I’d been working in had its hours cut from 24/7 to 16 hours a day, and had two more people assigned. Several officers and NCOs had notes added to their personnel records. I had no more problems until I was almost ready to retire, and had to have some significant medical work done (my first cervical fusion).

    I was VERY lucky. I’ve heard of horror stories from several other former military, and from civilians. Being branded a mental case in the military is usually the death knell of a career.

    • Mike W. wrote:
      ” Being branded a mental case in the military is usually the death knell of a career.”
      My husband is a civilian but has worked as a civilian contractor on a number of DoD contracts. Even though he is a civllian he never went for any kind of counseling because he wouldn’t be able to retain his job.

      • He never went for any kind of counseling because he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to retain his job.

        • If it was during the Clinton years, with darn good reason– they started banning people who’d ever been to see anyone about PSTD from ever owning a weapon.

          And they wonder why there are issues getting folks the help they need now…

          • I was in the CT (crypto field) and getting mental help meant you were taken out of your field and worked somewhere else (like cook or other low job). People were afraid to talk to anyone who was in the mental health field. Also it could get you banned from traveling outside the US, which kills promotions in most military fields.

            • Also, for people who want to adopt, having mental health ‘issues’ of any kind can pretty much make that impossible, especially for international adoptions. I have friends who want to adopt one day who basically can’t talk to counselors even if they would really benefit from it. It’s messed up =/

  31. I don’t know where in the conversation this will insert itself (gads – take a sick day and look at what happens!) but it strikes me that the Daughtorial Unit has (in past complaints) hit upon one of the problems with suicide and why it could be illegal: improper disposal of human remains.

    There are good and significant reasons why all societies have rules for properly disposing of human remains, and suicides tend to ignore those pretty thoroughly.

    • That’s actually a rather good point.

      For that matter, we try to ensure that people can’t make big choices when they’re not sound of mind.
      Trying to kill yourself is a pretty classic example of “not sound of mind.” (And, for those of you who think suicide is a perfectly sane thing to do– it’s pretty dang hard to stop crazy people who really want to off themselves. Sane, it’d be hard to show it was suicide and not a random attack of stupid. Drinking heavily and going out to shovel the porch…in the park…during a blizzard….)

  32. Less than five years after Columbine, I found myself living in Littleton, CO, two blocks from Columbine High School. It was a strange time to be starting teaching in Colorado; primarily because I was from California and the culture is a bit different (it’s the lack of air, methinks). I was getting ready to start teaching middle school in Denver (a charter school, so I didn’t need a license. Yay!) and I realized right off the bat that my class was a little… different.

    You see, to get federal funding at a charter school (this was how it was back in 2004, don’t ask me how it works now) you needed to have 33% of your school be eligible for “free or reduced lunch” (i.e., very poor kids). The location of the charter school was near the old Lowry AFB, which is a very affluent development now, so no poor kids were to be had. If there were any lower middle class kids here, they were in the younger kids, because most of the kids here were better dressed than I. With better cellphones, I’ll add. The school’s Brilliant Solution? They bused in the kinds from Five Points, which is one of the not-so-nice (about as close to being the hood as I’d give anywhere in Denver, as a survivor of East LA, Chino and La Puente) neighborhoods. They now qualify for federal funding, which allowed them to hire me. Me! My very own classroom! And upon my first day of teaching…

    …I noticed that every single kid in my class was black. Oh, except for the lone Mexican girl, which I felt was strange, given that there are quite a few Mexicans in and around the Denver Metro area. I was surprised but excited (hey, my people, right? The poor, disadvantaged, ready to prove the world wrong through poetry and dance and sh*t… I forget which, but I saw it in a movie once.) until I peeked in on the class next door.

    I felt like I was stepping into a Hitler’s Youth recruiting classroom. I mean, holy sh*t were they white. Not “my skin is white, but I’m American!” white, but more like “My Injun name is ‘She Who Shines Like Freshly Fallen Snow’” white. I swear to this day that one girl hand a Gucci accessory handbag sitting next to her desk. I glanced back to my classroom, where the kids were writing about what they wanted to learn about that year in school (I hadn’t had time to draw up a syllabus, since I was a replacement for someone who was a replacement for someone who… you get the idea), and felt a momentary stab of panic. Holy crap. My kids are black! (And one lonely Mexican)

    Curious about this, I went to the director of the school (no principal, but a Director. It was an odd little school, but it seemed nice enough) and asked him what was up with all the black kids in my class.

    Dir: You mean the African Americans?

    Me: Black, African, whatever. They’re kind of, you know, lumped together in my class.

    Dir: Is this a problem?

    Me: Not really. I was just wondering about classroom interactions and stuff, since I noticed John’s class (one of the other middle school teachers and nice guy) was kind of the polar opposite. *chuckle*

    Dir (completely missing my pun. Bastard): Something something diversify our school through something something quality learning experience something something more comfortable with their own… friends and neighbors.

    Yes, he paused. I think he really wanted to say “their own people”, but at this hippy commune (at least, that’s how I viewed it two years later when I was “asked to resign due to budget restraints”) that would have been a no-no. So my class saw what had happened and ran with it. They were the “Black Class” and they wanted base all their studies of the year on… My American Heritage.

    I couldn’t have planned it better myself. They wanted to base everything on their American heritage. They didn’t give a damn about African heritage or history. They wanted American History, English (they loved Ender’s Game, since I was able to BS my way through explaining it to the Director how the forced heritage of Ender being a Third child with much expectations and yada yada yada… point being, he bought it), Science (oh they had a f***ing field day when we got around to the social aspect of science and Eugenics). These kids were the round pegs trying to be fit into the square holes, and I had every single one of the rebellious bastards.

    I _loved_ those kids. They were a nightmare for the other teachers (“I don’t want to sound racist or anything, but those kids in your class are the most impolite little bastards I’ve ever tried to teach) and they were very chatty in class, with debates and discussions ranging from why America is so awesome (They took a vote and then decided because we _could_ take a vote about what was so awesome made it the awesomest. As I said, _loved_ those kids) to whether or not the Civil War was a Very Bad Thing.

    Needless to say, when the end of the year came around and the kids reapplied to continue there, they were denied and new, “needs based kids” were bused in. My little hellions were shipped throughout the Denver Public School system and left to languish. Mother grappin’ DPS and their stupid little arrogant whoremongering bast… ahem.

    The new kids were square pegs, perfect fit for the quare holes. They kept their heads down, did their work, and made my life hell (well, okay, their parents did by demanding I pass their little babies and then demanding that I not give them homework and how dare I force them to read more than ten pages a night what kind of evil human being am I? *sigh*).

    So… long rambling made short, I think forcing the wrong peg into the wrong hole usually ends up with everybody miserable and a lot of hurt feelings.

    Thanks for sharing, Sarah. Sorry I got to rambling.

    • Thanks for sharing that – sucky ending aside, that’s an encouraging perspective. I’m happy to know that there are kids who want to *rise above* their difficulties and embrace their heritage, rather than be defined by their race or their class or what victim category some jackass bureaucrat put them in.

  33. Patrick at Popehat wants to have a national conversation about media control with tongue in cheek … I think.

  34. Weapons grade snark from Tamara …
    I loved this line:

    If someone was a real helicopter parent, you’d think they’d go down to William Golding Memorial Elementary and do a dust-off…

    • You … I almost feel guilty for exposing this crowd to Tamara … bwaaahaahaaa. Nope, I don’t.

      • Umm, exactly how many of this crowd do you figure haven’t been exposed to Tamara?

        • I don’t know, this crowd seems to have a 100% correspondence with Whittle’s Slackers and there’s probably a good number of Morons too. Not a 100% of THOSE but 100% of you (or close) are also slackers and possibly morons. So, you’re… Moron slacker odds… and it’s not an INSULT.

          My son says “We’re very odd people.”

        • OK, point bearcat.

    • Hmmm, who was the moron who couldn’t paste a simple URL … uh, me.

      • I now feel a bit better. I had no idea who Tamara might be, and linking to this page made me more confused than sleep dep could account for.

      • eh, even if you do do it right, seems like half the time wordpress has a snit and ties it up in a knot. I *still* haven’t figured out how to make it like quote tags. I pulled ‘em off once, but then wordpress was on to me, and they’ve never gotten through since :(

  35. Back to the original post, when I graduated my class voted for ‘We don’t need no education’ as the song we wanted to walk to for graduation; but our class ‘advisor’ ( one of the teachers) vetoed it, and then vetoed our next two choices because he didn’t like AC/DC. Turns out he would give us ‘advice’ if he liked our choices, if not he would give us orders.