“Nothing to Prove” – the Newest Best Thing

The Doubleclicks‘ new song “Nothing to Prove” is out!

I have been a fan of The Doubleclicks for many years now.  I feel almost proprietary about them sometimes because I live in the same town, go to their small local shows and feel like I can say “I knew them back when they FIRST opened for Paul and Storm!”  There is nothing not to love about them and their music.  My favorite for several years running was “Velociraptor” — until a few months ago, when they released the brilliant “Impostor,” about Curiosity, the Mars Rover.  That moment when we all watched him land on Mars together –with the NASA/JPL guys just as anxious as we were– was like this bonding moment for space geeks worldwide.  The DoubleClicks brought all that together in their amazing song about the rover – because really, we’re all faking it.

But TODAY, they released their newest song – “Nothing to Prove.”  We knew it was in the works because they’d sent out an appeal for Geek Girls to send in videos of themselves.  But the final product is just …beautiful.  “Nothing to Prove” is the ultimate anthem for girls and women who face censure because they dare to work and play in a male dominated world… and they are good at what they do.  Just like the Female Athlete, the Female Geek has long been sidelined with comments about not being a “real” Trekkie, or that she can’t “really” be a gamer because… vagina!  This video is the voice for the whole community – male and female geeks and nerds alike.  

The video is a stream of messages from women of all ages and backgrounds declaring their pride in what they love and who they are.  Some also testify to how they have been shunned just because they “wear a pink skirt.”  Fantastic cameos by some of our favorite geeks: John Scalzi, Paul and Storm, Amy Berg, Adam Savage, and Wil Wheaton add to the message that this isn’t only about girls — this is about all of us.  Declaring that any world is off limits to anyone is not cool.  But somehow, this has become okay in many corners of geekdom.  The video is an excellent chaser to Aisha Tyler’s new book Self-Inflicted Wounds.  Her Nerdist interview with Chris Hardwick a couple years ago was one of my favorites because she talked about the open letter she wrote where she did NOT apologize for being a female gamer.  It is about time girls get to stop having to defend themselves.  Like the Doubleclicks sing: we have nothing to prove.

doubleclicks

Aubrey and Angela Webber – The Doubleclicks

I was six years old when my dad took me to the theater to see “Star Wars” in 1977.  It is one of the clearest memories of my childhood. I remember so few girls in the audience, but my dad was awesome, and I was brave – it was my first Big Person movie (not a cartoon).  And from the first moment those words scrolled across that giant screen, I was found.  My world exploded with possibility.  In some ways, I was lucky because my dad was in the Air Force and I grew up on bases where I could ride my bike to the flight line and watch super cool jets take off.  In fact, we were stationed in Hawaii back when astronauts still fell out of the sky into the ocean and were scooped up by the Navy and brought to the Air Force base to fly home.  Yes, I was the only third grader who brought for show and tell my most prized possession: an autographed picture of the earth from space – a picture taken and autographed by Jim Lovell himself:

The Earth - from the Moon's orbit, Christmas 1968, by Jim Lovell

The Earth – from the Moon’s orbit, Christmas 1968, by Jim Lovell

But I grew up in the 70s, and despite it being the first full decade of actualized feminism, I still lived in a world where my interest in space and adventure and science fiction was discouraged in favor of growing up to be a good wife and mother.  I idolized Dorothy Hamill, not because of her pretty ice skating outfits, but because she could fly through the air and she didn’t need anyone to help her.  I religiously watched Linda Carter in Wonder Woman and I thought about what it would be like to jump over buildings. But I considered Space Camp out of my league.  I let those other voices creep in, and slowly I became more intimidated by math and science.   I read scifi in private and didn’t join in with my brother be to learn to write in elvish or speak random lines of Klingon.  I watched the stars through my telescope as a hobby but never thought I was smart enough to take a college class in astronomy.  Why?

I know not all GenX Geek Girls let society stop them – there are some incredible women my age who have forged the path for nerdy women and girls.  I was a full grown adult before I started to not care anymore and let my internal geek once again blossom.  I’d channeled my geeky tendencies into the social scientists and became a huge history and political geek until I became a teacher and earned 2 masters degrees in the stuff.  I grew through my experiences as a human rights worker, and when I became a mother.  Now as a single Geek Mom, my son and I spend hours with Zelda and we play Settlers of Cataan together religiously.  Our book shelves overflow with random Magic cards and Lego spaceships.  I’m proud to be a Geek Mom and whatever my kid geeks out about is awesome.

Even when I hid who I was because it just wasn’t the “girl thing,” through it all, Yoda was on my back.  There is a reason I take my personal motto from him (and why it is tattooed on my leg in Gallifreyan): There Is No Try.  It is no longer a world where girls should feel ashamed OR afraid of the multitudes of universes available to them.  There is no reason not to jump into the fray of whatever you love and love it well, no matter what close-minded people think.  And it’s also okay to be just a little over 40 and still proud that when you were 15, you got to sit in the actual Batmobile when your dad took you to the car show.

I’ve already procrastinated doing my research work this morning by watching this new video a dozen times. I’m really hoping they’ll be in Seattle this October at Geek Girl Con.  “Nothing to Prove” from The Doubleclicks is awesome, because it says it all: there is no reason why any of the women and girls featured in it should ever feel censure or silenced – nor should any of us.  It’s time we not only said it but believed it: We have Nothing To Prove.

 

 

 

In Which a Civics/Sociology Teacher Asks Some Questions About A 20 Hour Mass Detention in a Major American City

Wow.  I binge-watched a really intense suspense thriller this week.  Oh, wait…

I’ve been thinking a LOT about the unprecedented situation in Boston on Thursday/Friday.  (as evidenced by some of my status posts yesterday) An historically unique event happened.  Not the capture of a terrorist/murder suspect.  Not a massive manhunt.  Not racist/sectarian accusations based on ignorance and sensationalism.  All those things have happened lots of times before.  But in American history, there has never been a complete and total lockdown of millions of people in a major metropolitan area for 20 hours in order to perform a police action…and one in which the citizens completely complied.  I pass no judgment on the situation at this point because it’s too early in the understanding of it or even the processing of it.

But I have a LOT of questions about the ramifications of this event with regard to A) sociology: the group behavior that was clearly observable within the situation and outside of it; and B) the political issues of it with regard to a society that rarely sees the surrender of rights in the pursuit of safety so vividly played out in front of them.

The following are questions/thoughts I’ve had so far.  I invite you to add your own questions and thoughts.  This is only the start of a discussion so there don’t have to be answers and no one needs to defend anything – this isn’t a debate, it’s a brainstorm.  Yes, I’m being a little teacher-y, so you have to suffer for the fact I don’t have a classroom of students right now to inflict this on, but on the other hand, it might be a way for you to work through what you yourself have experienced this last week.  Because even though you might not have been in Boston or Watertown, you experienced the terror of a viscous bombing attack and the resulting affects of that fear, anxiety, grief and anger.  Perhaps just thinking through some of these things will help you process it a little.  I’m focusing solely on the time period of 10pm EST Thursday through 3-4pm EST Friday, which is the period in which the lockdown occurred.

There are many reasons to execute a “stay in your homes” directive: natural disaster, chemical spill, crazy killer on the loose, etc.  But never have we seen this sort of thing, with a major American city brought to a complete and total silent standstill, with millions of people cooperating in their own indefinite sequestration.

I think it’s instructive to note the difference between this specific situation and the resultant debate after 9/11. There has been ongoing questions about the removal or limiting of 4th Amendment rights (among others) via the PATRIOT ACT.  That is a MUCH broader situation and in some ways, that makes it more difficult for people to grasp in any practical way with regard to their own behavior.  When it is a nebulous “that doesn’t affect me” situation, it is hard to get a lot of citizens riled up about it (much to the dismay of Civil Liberties defenders).  We have already shown a general willingness to give up some 4th Amendment rights at the airport, etc.  While the following questions are aimed specifically at the Boston/Watertown situation, I do wonder if the last 12 years has been a subtle conditioning of which we only now realize the the extent.

So I’ll start.  Here are my initial questions and thoughts about the lockdown period.  This is COMPLETELY about the detention issues – NOT about the bombers, the case, the mechanics of the search itself, or any other part of this (all other worthy conversation topics) – I’m just right now thinking through the singular situation witnessed and experienced by millions during the quarantine.

=====================

  • There has not been one reported instance of resistance or defiance of the lockdown order so far (perhaps some will emerge as we proceed into the aftermath).  There was also NO concern expressed by the millions of worldwide onlookers during the event.  Now there are some things being published about it.  But during that 20 hours, I saw no clear discussions on any social networking or major discussion sites, and none on any of the msm coverage that indicated any concern about the issues contained within this police action. Until it started getting dark again and people started wondering how long it would go on.  That is amazing to me.
  • Millions of people agreed to be interned in their own homes for almost 24 hours. What combination of powerful incentives caused this to be so successful?  Is fear that powerful?  Is need for safety that powerful?  Is respect for authority that powerful?  Are those three things the unbreakable combo of behavioral control?
  • Thousands of people agreed to waive their 4th Amendment rights without an argument.  Their homes were searched relentlessly by militarized police.  This alone raises some interesting questions:

4thAmendmenttextAmongst those thousands of homes, statistically it would be impossible if many of them did not contain criminal evidence of some kind — drugs, evidence of violence or abuse, neglect, sanitation concerns, very ill people, stolen goods, etc.

On the one side, what would have happened (or what did happen that we didn’t see) if the search was refused or resisted?

On the other hand, what kind of domestic situations that otherwise might not be legally tolerated were seen by police in the course of the searches that they either a) cannot do anything about, or b) will unconstitutionally follow up on because the perceive an ongoing threat to society or the people living in the home?

Was there ANY hesitation or concern by ANY of those subjected to the searches, or ANY attempt to resist the search on Constitutional grounds?

  • Considering the lack of resistance displayed by both the participants in the detention and the onlookers (us), can we draw any conclusions about the strength of the Social Contract that secures the 4th Amendment… or even the 3rd (which we NEVER reference or use, but which actually may be historically instructive in this unique case).
  • I realize that people from all political sides shout very regularly that Americans are sheep and don’t think for themselves.  But I think this situation calls on some deeper thinking here.  Put yourself in Watertown.  How would you have reacted to the order?
  • Thinking on that, what do we now know about how simple it would be for a republic to slip the bonds of liberty and AGREE to tyranny?  Is just the right combination of fear, need for safety and respect for authority all that is needed?
  • Was the 20 hours of non-resisted detention of a major metropolitan area ONLY because of “terrorism?”  Were we observing a direct and contained result of the true power of terrorism?
  • Was the 20 hours of non-resisted detention of a major metropolitan area ALSO because of fear of the militarized police action itself?
  • I don’t know if I am unique among my audience here, but I have actually been in the middle of a militarized police action that locked down the town I was in.  This was in Northern Ireland towards the end of the Troubles.  The same sort of closed-in feeling with helicopters, tanks/saracens, military barricades and borders, searches, and quarantine.  It is scary (beyond what I can describe adequately here) and it creates PTS by simply the nature of the situation.  Now we have a major metropolitan region of millions that have the same resultant PTS.  This is similar to the the PTS that exists in Baghdad and Syria, Palestine and Israel on a regular basis.  So what behavioral modifications will occur both in the Boston area, and the rest of the country because of it (I am talking about personal and group behavior, not government policy).
  • Most likely, one clear result of the situation this week will be continued acquiescence to authority in order to secure safety over liberty.  This may not necessarily be a bad thing, depending on a person’s perspective (I am not agreeing or disagreeing) — but just for starters, I’m guessing there will be little resistance to the “London-ification” of American towns and cities.  That is, the complete and total CCTV observation of every square inch of populated area.  What does this mean for our future behavior and understanding of the 4th Amendment?

CCTV_Systems

  • What legal decision had to be made to include National Guard in a policing action?  I realize that a governor is allowed to call up the NG for in-state safety/security issues.  So were they clearly kept on a “public safety” mandate so that there was no posse comitatus crossover?  How will we know? Does it matter to us?
  • How will the people subjected to the lockdown and searches change their everyday behavior in response to their understanding of those 20 hours?  Beyond PTS problems that will have to be treated, what, if any, changes have occurred or will occur in their thinking about their own personal liberty?  What about the thinking of the millions of observers who vicariously soaked in the fear and sequestration?
  • Will this type of action ever be possible again?  I’m going to assume Americans aren’t going to just pretend all of these issues don’t exist.  At least I hope there will be some discussion about these things — so will that make us just as willing the next time a city is terrorized by the possibility of continued violence and pain, to draw upon the successful conclusion of THIS detention and agree all over again to the same methods?  Or will it increase the possibility of resistance the next time and cause a disruption in the ability of authorities to insist on a suspension of normal behavior (resistance to authority)?
  • This was not undertaken in an aggressive anti-population method.  In other words, natural resistance that would occur when your ENEMY is trying to intern you (a la Wolverines!) was not present during this situation – this was done by trusted public safety organizations in the name of security.  Does that make it acceptable?
  • Boston is an incredibly multi-cultural city.  The population affected by this detention and cessation of normal activity included virtually every cultural background, immigrant group, since-the-colonies descendants, and all other mixes in between.  How did, if at all, those cultural backgrounds play into the social contract that was enacted during the detention?
  • Very clear and consistent studies show 30% of our population is authoritarian.  Meaning, there is rarely less than 30% and usually more in a large group of Americans that prefers to follow authority and do what they’re told.  So what factors contribute to increasing that to an almost 100% compliance?
  • How conditioned are we to jump to political conclusions based on a racist or anti-muslim framework (almost identical to anti-immigrant/communist framework of the 1920’s & 30’s), that we are willing to exchange our liberty and natural rights for what we perceive to be our safety?  It’s easy to judge from afar, but if we place ourselves in the midst of terror — how able are we to think independently about the nature of that terror?
  • As was made clear during the entire ordeal, the mainstream media cannot do the above (resist flying into the stereotyping, hate & fear mongering political sensationalism), so how independently are we processing information outside of what we are being told?
  • What will security forces learn from this episode that will play into future actions like this one?
  • Do we care?

In the end, the detention of the population didn’t actually work.  During the investigation phase, it was the two times that the police actually released the public to participate that significant advances were made.  Knowing now, as we do in hindsight, that the liberty of the people, with all its inherent dangers and risks, is actually more conducive to solving a situation like this than removing liberty in the name of security, will that affect our future acquiescence to the same sort of situation?

On the very first day my students took a government class with me, among other thinking questions, I asked them to choose between Security and Liberty — which instinctively was more valuable to them.  The conclusion of the course brought us to the understanding that there is a fine balance between the two in a republic, but that balance is reliant upon citizen awareness and participation.  In the end, how does this event affect that balance, if it does at all?

The End of a Decade No One Wants to Talk About

I haven’t taken to commenting here on everything in the news like I used to with my blogging.  The main reason is that I just don’t have the time anymore (I used to sit in an office all day bored out of my mind – so blogging was crucial just for sanity’s sake).  The second reason is that I find myself not quite able to stand thinking too much about what’s in the news these days.  My capacity for righteous anger has dwindled quite a bit in the last couple of years.  I don’t think I’m more cynical – but perhaps more resigned.  This may not be a good thing, and I try to temper it by exposing myself as often as possible to people who inspire me.  But this week may also trigger a bit more for me because my son is 10 1/2 years old and the context of this week’s news simultaneously makes me think about his first decade of life.

This week has been especially bristling for two reasons: The Steubenville Verdict and Ten Years Since The Invasion.

The Lingering Stench of Rape Culture

On Steubenville, I have once again felt the weight of sadness and anger a how our deeply ingrained rape culture can excessively comment on the plight of the perpetrators and criticize the victim.  John Scalzi’s post on the issue covers it as clearly as I would want to – and much better than any actual news outlet has bothered.

Relevant:kidnapI want my son to grow up in a culture that teaches boys and men not to rape.  Not one that says “girls, you better behave or you might get raped!”

My son is 10 1/2 years old, and he has been exposed to feminist and progressive parents his whole life – but more and more, his learning environment is the world around him, not just us, inside his home.  …Primarily, the world around him ONLINE.  How I manage to guide him in his online life has become more of a priority than I ever dreamed ten years ago.  Where he gets his worldview will be largely influenced by his exposure to what he sees and learns online.  His generation will grow up straddling two worlds: the digital and the physical.  And they will have to make choice after choice how to code switch and translate one to the other and back again.  Our ability as GenX parents, whose exposure to an online life arrived after we were out of puberty, to judge the quality rather than quantity of time spent in both worlds will be particularly crucial to our kids.  They aren’t growing up in a clearly compartmentalized world, where they live in the physical world so many hours a day and then have limited access to the digital world.  They are constantly exposed simultaneously to both.  Their access to both will only get easier as they grow up.  Thus, the need to be able to make healthy choices about both.

And a huge part of those healthy choices need to be about how boys learn to to be human beings that don’t expect it’s their world and girls just live in it at their pleasure.  Girls have to learn a whole new set of skills to establish their own humanity and independence as well.  Steubenville has reminded me that this small town shit where football rules and you can live in satisfied bigotry and misogynistic superiority your entire life still exists. But I have the opportunity to raise my son to want no part of it.

The Anniversary.

Most days, ten years would seem like a long, LONG time ago.  But it doesn’t anymore.  I was 31 on the day we attacked and invaded Iraq. I was still a very new mom and the invasion affected that part of me profoundly.  This was what I posted on my blog that day:

Wednesday, March 19, 2003
      ( 6:44 PM )

Mama Solidarity
Please light a candle and say a prayer for all the Mamas in Baghdad and all the rest of Iraq tonight (and in these next days) who are trying to figure out how to protect their children. I can’t even imagine the kind of terrorized fear that Mamas and children (and the Daddies too) must be feeling right now, waiting for the invasion, knowing it’s coming. I feel so responsible and I feel so helpless. May you and your babies be safe and unharmed…and may grace and comfort be in your hearts. The rest of us Mamas are praying for you.

I entered that week in a daze that I’m sure thousands of other Americans felt: how did we let this happen?  We KNEW Bush was lying.  We KNEW this was wrong.  We were in the streets by tens of thousands… and before the invasion, MILLIONS around the world were in the streets.  Yet nothing seemed to be able to stop it.  So that feeling of helplessness, mixed with guilt, mixed with anger, mixed with fear for our own troops and the innocent, helpless people of Iraq, just warred within us and all around us while our own country started a horrible, horrible war.

IRAQ-US-WAR-MASSIVE RE-CROPIt’s sometimes hard to think back and remember how it all felt, and yet at the same time, it is still so near the surface.  Possibly because no one has ever been held accountable for this travesty of global injustice.  Not the architects of the invasion: Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice.  Not the media giants who went along, not questioning.  Not the political actors who worked to silence the truth tellers like Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. Not the military industrial complex that made billions of dollars in profit by harming our own soldiers.  Not the Wall Street bankers who began a years-long campaign to short-sell this country right into the crapper.  None of them.

My son spent the first eight years of his life attending anti-war protests.  He was still in the womb at his first one (we were among the few who also protested the invasion of Afghanistan.  I am curious as to why it is so popular to be for THAT invasion.  As if it is so much more justifiable to bomb and invade an entire country for the actions of an independent group sheltered by a bunch of tribal dictators.  If the 9/11 bombers had been from Portland, and some of the City Council had sheltered them or given them a way to get away secretly, would the government have been justified in blowing the hell out of all of us who live here?  According to our brand new foreign policy in 2002, evidently they would have).  He got to ride in the stroller the first years – he graduated to the Red Wagon after a while.  And eventually he walked along side me.  I feel grateful that he has grown up in a city where this kind of behavior is not only acceptable but expected of the general population.  He has grown up in a community with kids his age who have followed exactly the same anti-authoritarian path.

My son at his 4th anti-war protest.  He carried his own signs by this point.

My son at his 4th anti-war protest. He carried his own signs by this point.

There are a lot of children in the United States who are my son’s age – well a few months younger than my son.  He was born just ahead of the 9/11 Baby Boomlet (there was evidently a LOT of end-of-the-world-sex going on that horrible September).  That means there are tens of thousands of ten-year-olds in this country right now who are as old as the anniversary of this invasion.  The country in which they spent their childhood was one that has produced a generation of wounded veterans, both in body and spirit.  It’s a country which is the biggest aggressor in the world.  It is a country in which their parents are struggling economically more than their grandparents ever had to.  It’s a country in which their education will cost more than it ever has, where they are more likely to be hungry or in poverty than ever before, and where their government is more broken than ever before.

This ten year anniversary is not just a reminder of the devastation we  have wreaked upon Iraq.  It’s a reminder of the devastation we have wreaked upon ourselves.  And maybe that’s the real reason why nobody really wants to remember.

"An Owie to One is an Owie to All"- Mama's Little Activist -

“An Owie to One is an Owie to All”
– Mama’s Little Activist –

An Open Letter to the President on the Occasion of his Mixed Metaphors

Today:

“I can’t do a Jedi mind meld on the Congressional Republicans” — President Barack Obama

no, no, no...

no, no, no…

Dear President Obama:

You can either do a VULCAN mind meld or a JEDI mind trick.  They are not the same thing.

SW-v-ST

Either way, you might as well not waste energy with the Dark Side.  You have violated the Prime Directive so many times by now anyway with no results.

… and by this point what you ACTUALLY need is just one good Space Cowboy to deal with those dumbasses.  Captain Mal to Congress:

captnmal

In conclusion – Mind Meld, Mind Trick – whichever.  You were re-elected in a landslide for a reason. Be the Jedi you were meant to be.

obama-lightsaber-02Sincerely,

Teachacari

 

A Handy Socratic Dialogue About Sequestration (or, WTF is going ON with our ridiculous government?)

TeachaCari explains Sequestration to her former students:

20130224_sequester_cartoon

Put your seatbelts on, this is gonna be FUN!

“Teachacari, what IS Sequestration?”

It is a really dumb name given to an action that SHOULD have been called “We Don’t Want to Govern so We’re Gonna Fuck Things up More.” It is what is called in political science terms a “poison pill” – something destined to not be enacted because it’s so bad. The idea was concocted in 2011 when Congress didn’t want to raise the debt limit, in order to keep a stalemate from happening again, they put into place the worst possible of WORST scenarios that would kick in if they didn’t get their job done and make a budget by March 1, 2013. This would be an across-the-board cut that would hit the most painful parts of the operating budget of the US government. It would be like trying to motivate yourself to get your essay written by midnight or else your roommate would be obligated to start chopping your fingers off one by one. Obviously, they would NEEEVVVVEEERRRR let that worse, possibly worst, thing happen, so it’s all good!” Tomorrow, the worst possible thing happens.

IceCube
“Teachacari, they are only cutting 2% of the federal budget. Surely that’s not so bad!”

2% of the AVAILABLE federal budget. There are parts of the federal budget that are separately protected, and where MOST of the federal budget lies: social security, medicare, etc. Including Congress. Congress’ pay is protected in the actual Constitution. So solving this whole problem by kicking them the fuck out and using their salaries (which is all our shared fantasy, and we know it) to balance the budget isn’t actually an option. So when you take away all the parts of the budget that can’t be messed with, you’re left with what is called “discretionary spending” — which is the leftover part that actually runs the government and the country (remember this, from your fabulously insightful high school government class?). So it’s actually closer to over 10% of the discretionary budget that will get cut — and the departments have no say in HOW to cut it — they actually have to chop the same percentage out of all parts of their budgets – which will hurt like hell.

stormtrooper
“Well, teachacari, you’re just making it sound all frightening and shit. It’s just the federal government – and we need a smaller government anyway.”

That may be true, however: making a smaller government by hacksawing off vital functioning parts of it, instead of making it more EFFICIENT with thoughtful cuts that take into account the long term needs of the country, is sort of like saying it’s easier to deal with that wound on your forearm by just chopping your arm off at the elbow. Your arm will be smaller, so less hassle to deal with and less spaces to get a wound next time!


“I don’t really give a shit, Teachacari, I just do my own thing so government doesn’t affect me anyway.”

That will be fun for you. If the cuts take full affect, which it will likely take about 3-6 weeks for that to happen, here are a few things that will happen:

The FDA will have to cancel thousands of meat inspections. This means meat processing stops in some plants. This means less distribution and availability of meat. Prices skyrocket and there are shortages. But, I guess you could just eat less meat. And less everything, since all food production prices will eventually be affected.

The FAA will have to limit airport tower time. This will mean furloughing workers and flight delays and cancellations across the country, which will disrupt travel, business and other cascading schedules. But, I guess you could just plan not to be affected by that… by not going anywhere.

Tens of thousands of federal workers will lose up to 20% of their salaries until the end of the fiscal year (September ) by having to take non-paid furlough days. This will mean they may not make their rent or mortgage payments, and they certainly won’t be buying consumer goods. This means if you work in retail or service industries, YOUR job may be affected because your employer won’t be making the same revenue, especially in communities with a high number of civilian government workers. But, maybe you can just try to ignore that too because, fuck them.

Thousands of teachers (approx 30,000) could be laid off for next school year because federal assistance to state education budgets will stop. In addition, thousands more aides and money that goes to help students with disabilities will end. Head Start will stop for about 70,000 kids. And food aid to women and children (WIC) will end for thousands more. But who cares, you’re not in school anymore. You got your K-12 education already, and you’re not on WIC, so let them fend for themselves!

In the end, you can probably survive and still not give a shit about what happens to those people or the economy. Unless you buy into the idea that we’re all in this together and that the general welfare of the country will eventually be something that helps or hinders you, depending on how healthy it is. Those are just a few examples of the cascading effect of what will happen in the weeks following Sequestration. There may not be a sudden scream of agony from the economy because it won’t all happen at once. But in the next few months, if nothing is done to stop it, not only is the government facing ANOTHER one of its self-imposed “fiscal cliff” and debt limit standoffs, but the reverberating effects of THIS self-imposed fiasco will be taking full foothold in the economy and every day people’s lives.

10inrain
“Teachacari, how the fuck did we get a government that behaves this way after almost 300 years of practice?”

My political philosophy answer: As James Madison warned us over 200 years ago, the reason you need a balancing, self-accountable government was to avoid the splits and conflict that would inevitably come from the formation of factions amongst the diverse regions of the country. In order to maintain that balanced self-accountability in a central government, you must depend upon the civic virtue of the country’s citizens who exercise what deTocqueville later called “enlightened self interest” to elect representatives who will seek to find that balance and govern in the interest of the general welfare of all the people while maintaining their individual rights. Not such an easy task. And one made even harder when you make only short term decisions and take no account of the future. Our civic virtue is in badly need of repair.

James Madison IS DISAPPOINT.

James Madison is DISAPPOINT.

My history answer: There has never been some magical, halcyon era when we didn’t have corruption in our national government, or where all sides got along fabulously and sang show tunes together in the lunch cafeteria. There have ALWAYS been corporate-backed legislators and, since Andrew Jackson, there have always been industry-based business people in charge of executive departments. It doesn’t matter what party the president or legislature is. So we are not dealing with something that cannot be overcome when it comes to the various individual gripes we have with this government. Those things have been successfully and progressively dealt with before and we have history to prove that it can be done. But, the thing is, we have NEVER had a body in Congress that makes up a significant amount of the majority in the House and a debilitating minority in the Senate who have the goal to ACTUALLY DESTROY GOVERNMENT. These people ran campaigns on promises to bring government to a standstill. To stop the work of a representative democracy, all in the name of bringing a federal government they disapproved of to its knees. And here’s the clincher: PEOPLE ELECTED THEM.

morans

My teachery answer: You can be cynical and decide you just don’t want the government anymore because it’s too corrupt for you and nothing will fix it. It’s been on a path to this sort of thing for years now, so let it die. If that’s the case, then tomorrow will be a nice way for you to toast that inevitability. If you’d rather NOT have things go down that way, then GET OFF YOUR ASS AND CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS AND SENATOR and let them know that they may not have to take a furlough day this year because of Sequestration like thousands of their constituents will, but you know a damned good way of furloughing them forever in 2014.

Engage

/lecture

Teachacari out.

“Effective teaching can be measured” — with test scores, of course!

Today, the Gates Foundation released its third and final component of the Measuring Effective Teachers project – the big education reform study led by Harvard economist Thomas Kane.

“Effective teaching can be measured,” the authors wrote in the latest installment. They’re sure of it because they used a randomized experiment to figure it out. Reliable teacher evaluations, the paper claims, include “balanced” proportions of teacher observation, students’ standardized test scores and student surveys. And for the first time, the randomized trial shows that teachers who perform well with one group of students, on average, perform at the same levels with different groups of kids.

Incentive programs like Race to the Top are forcing school districts to change their teacher evaluation systems to rely heavily on test scores, and the important components of observations and student feedback are often left out of the equation.  This study shows that, simply put, a good teacher is a good teacher with any set of random kids.  The problem will always remain how to measure the “good teacher” part.

In these days of Educational Reform, teachers are finding themselves more and more tossed by the various pressures arising from high stakes testing.  There does need to be a reliable way of ensuring that students are receiving the best education possible.  But I think that the contemporary method of putting all the results and all the blame on the teachers alone is not the way to ensure better education or even more rigor.  Good teachers will rise to higher standards and requirements, but simply judging them on the often arbitrary results of standardized student test scores is not the way to ensure that kind of performance.

[List] Reasons Why I am Voting for President Obama

I am a registered independent (actually, in Oregon, it’s termed “non-affiliated”) and have voted both parties and third party in my voting past.  In fact, I’ve probably voted third party for president almost as many times as I’ve voted for one of the two major parties.  There has been a push from conservatives fed up with the GOP and progressives fed up with the Democratic Party to vote third party this year.  The libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, is highly attractive for his independent stand, and the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, stands for all the progressive ideas that Ralph Nader stood for twelve years ago.  But this year is not the year I can take the chance because the stakes are so incredibly high and our country truly is at at turning point as we come out of the affects of the economic disaster brought on in the last ten years.  (I admit to having been scarred by the “both parties are the same” argument that robbed Al Gore of tens of thousands of votes in 2000).   It is incredibly close this year, and I actually believe that it WILL make a difference to vote for one of the two main parties.

If a third party is to actually have any power or participatory presence in our representative democracy, they can’t start with a figurehead at the top.  They need to follow the GOP model of the 1970’s: infiltrate all the lower/local offices, build up to statewide offices, take over governorships and state legislatures, then get into Congress.  Abraham Lincoln didn’t become a third-party president on his own.  There were already masses of Republicans and Radical Republicans in state offices and the Congress and Senate by the time he got elected in 1960.  In fact, he wasn’t as liberal as they were at first — the foundation of those third-party politicians were the ones who pushed the Emancipation Proclamation and moved Lincoln to become the President of ending slavery.  Just running someone for president as a third party option does not create true change in our system (even if they do earn the percentage necessary to participate in debates the next time around, there STILL won’t be fundamental change until down-ballot offices are filled first).  So I hope that the people who really are motivated to vote third party this year for president will also go on to put their third party candidates into more down-ballot offices leading up to the next presidential election.

Meanwhile, there are very real reasons why I am voting to re-elect the President.  No, I’m not completely happy with all of his decisions.  I certainly believe that he chose a Wall Street friendly economic team and his use of unmanned drones and his Afghanistan policy are extremely troubling.  On the other hand, the argument that he isn’t much different than Romney is absolutely ridiculous, and THOSE are the reasons I am voting for him.  He has already shown he can change and move, that he is someone who reasons through problems and considers big-picture ramifications.

My top ten reasons I’m voting to re-elect the President –because these are truly in danger in a Romney presidency:

  1. The Supreme Court
  2. Health Insurance Coverage for all Americans
  3. Protection of Social Security and Medicare
  4. Equal Pay for Women
  5. Protections and equality for Women’s health issues & reproductive rights
  6. The end of DADT and DOMA (and the support of equal marriage)
  7. Science
  8. Renewable Energy Incentives & Commitment
  9. Diplomacy with the rest of the world (not bullying and posturing)
  10. Federal Emergency Protections in times of Crisis

Also, I actually believe in a representative democracy and a federal government whose primary goal is the “General Welfare” of We The People.  Electing someone who stands against that essential idea: a government of the people, for the people and by the people, makes absolutely no sense.  And this year, with the race so close, voting for a third party simply does not make sense to me either.