Sunday, September 19, 2010


I don’t think he’s a bad guy –– Dr. Wesley Scroggins –– when he advocates for the banning of books in Republic High School’s library and language arts curriculum, and his objections to teaching children about their bodies.

He’s simply another member of a small but vocal Christian conservative movement who is given too large a podium and too much credence for the insignificant minority his represents. Fundamentalism makes for headlines and controversies and dollars but it does not represent the average viewpoint.

I think Dr. Scroggins’ biggest problem is his perspective. The blinders of some factions of Christian conservatism and the ivory tower of academia can hide the real world from those with good but misguided intentions. He does not mean harm. In fact, I suspect Dr. Scroggins means to do good by trying to ban what he considers obscene from all persons, despite what might be in their very best interests.

For context, read Dr. Scroggins’ opinion in the Springfield News-Leader (which is only available for seven days because the News-Leader fails miserably as a news organization.

As an educator, I see everyday the words, deeds and thoughts of youth. My perspective is based on my real life experiences with young children, tweens and teens.

Fourth Grade Sex Education
Dr. Scroggins was aghast to discover that students in fourth grade are taught about reproduction. Students (pre-puberty and older) are not only aware of sexual intercourse and other sex acts, but some are actively engaging in the practice. This includes fourth graders. The reasons are varied but here are a few reasons that kids engage in various sex acts:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Peer pressure from older siblings or friends
  • Need to feel like and act like an adult brought on by a need for control
  • Early puberty
  • Curiosity

It is the intention of educators, many of whom in this area are Christian, is to educate children so they make good decisions. What we want from our fourth graders is for them not to have sex or engage in sex acts. Teachers, understanding students behaviors first hand, know this cannot be the only approach because children do, much to our chagrin, have sex or sex-like activities. Our goal is to educate students so if they choose to engage in sexual activity, they can at least do so to avoid pregnancy and diseases.

A decade ago, I read an article in a magazine for Christian youth minsters about the increase of oral and anal sex among middle school Christians. The kids, you see, felt that because they had not had traditional sexual intercourse, they were not having “sex”. They were just goofing around. No one could get pregnant, therefore the parents would not find out. They were free to do what they wished. Since that time, the idea of indiscriminate oral or anal sex has only increased among our youth.

One is unaware of such trends, even among Christian youth, unless they work directly with real-world children in real-world settings. Kids do not talk about such things are church. These are very real issues facing kids. For those with harsh criticisms of kids and their feelings will not be privy to real conversations even if they associate with teens. Kids are smart and can detect judgmental adults. They will avoid real talk with those adults at all costs.

Middle School Sex Education
Dr. Scroggins is quite upset over the fact that high school sexuality discussions include: homosexuality, sexual intercourse, sex acts and prevention. I am not privy to Republic’s sex education curricula so I cannot adequately discuss the accuracy of his statements as to what is and is not taught. However, the editors noted that the school district’s primary focus is on abstinence. I can speak about schools in a general sense.

As state above, educators understand the real world of teens and act accordingly. It should not come as a surprise to Dr. Scroggins or anyone else that middle school and high school students are trying to come to grips with their own sexuality (straight, gay, transgendered). Teens are well aware of homosexuality and the discussion is nothing new to them. If this is a surprise to adults, then those adults are grossly out of touch with kids and teens.

When my wife worked at a mental health facility, she encountered a young, sexually active teen. The girl did not have the information she needed to make good choices. While we would hope she would choose to be abstinent, she disagreed. However, she tried to take steps to protect herself. Unfortunately, the teen was not adequately educated due in large part to people like Dr. Scroggins. The teen mistaken used grape jelly in the place of contraceptive jelly and her body had serious medical complications. If children and teens are taught appropriately, then they can make safer decisions even if they are not the decisions we would wish for them to take. Dr. Scroggins must be aware that even devout Christian teens sometimes have sex; use drugs, alcohol and tobacco; and use profanity.

Book Banning
Dr. Scroggins is on a crusade to ban books he deems inappropriate for high schoolers based on the language use or subject material. Slaughterhouse Five, Twenty Boy Summer and Speak are three he wants banned.

Christian, atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or undefined persons have all heard the f-bomb. It is not a new word and it is not outside the common lexicon of teens of any faith. The fact is, its exposure is not uncommon among tweens and children let alone it’s use. I have heard the female c-bomb screamed loudly in elementary. Tenured elementary teachers and principals are not at all shocked to hear a 7-year-old use such words, although we deal with it appropriately. It is sad, I agree, but not unusual or shocking.

As for his objections of the mention of the rape of a character as pornography, I can only shudder at his thoughts that rape be seen as sexually gratifying to anyone.

The fact is, too many students are disconnected from literature and reading because much of the canon does not engage them, connect with them, or resonate with them. Books that deal with human atrocities, while scary, powerful and emotional, are a part of our daily news cycle and life in general. We cannot, despite our good intentions, shelter teenagers from the world if we want to prepare them to work and live independently in the world.

Rape of teens and rape by teens occurs more often than I think Dr. Scroggins is aware. Real world teachers, juvenile officers, social workers, therapists and physicians are aware of the great harm that teens undergo at the hands of adults and other teens. Teens are also aware. It is of utmost importance to teach our young adults how to appropriately deal with and address the world around us. Literature is a safe way to engage students, teach students and cultivate empathy and ethics.

To that point, I offer this video by Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak. In it she reads a poem that uses the real words of teens who have been uplifted and helped by her book.

This poem by Laurie Halse Anderson was created using actual letters sent to her by readers. The impact of the story on students is obviously positive and powerful. The literary and emotional significance far outweigh any negatives.

I understand Dr. Scroggin’s attempt to make this a better world by sheltering our children from things. However, this approach does not work with real children. It simply makes students incapable of handling the events of the world when they encounter them. Banning books and refraining from teaching students authentically only serves to harm the greater society. I know it is hard for him because he is trying to purify our culture. It is a fruitless endeavor in so far as you cannot mandate purity or innocence. Life is what it is. Educators act and react to society and prepare children and teens to live in that society as healthy adults.

That is my perspective.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Damn. I am so mad that I missed the big announcements made by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Thankfully, due to the intersection of tubes and whatnot, I am able to stream them at my convenience. The boys, who in my opinion provide the best news coverage anywhere (although I like Rachel Maddow, too), use comedy to tell it like it is and shoot us straight in the irrational ass.

If you have not already, you should watch these videos:
Here are some suggested rally signs/posters, thanks to Stewart:
  • I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler.
  • 9/11 was an outside job.
  • I am not afraid of Muslisms, Tea Partiers, socialists, immigrants, gun owners, gays.

If you have ever called, labeled,  implied, suggested or even mentioned Hitler in the same paragraph as a given political party or it's leader(s) then you are in need of rational thought. Not that you are a bad person. It's okay. Everyone freaks. As Stewart said: "take it down a notch."

I've noticed liberals and conservatives linking to these videos (or news stories about these rally videos) all over Facebook and it gives me great comfort to know that there are people aplenty who desire rational thought above emotional and illogical hate-mongering.

A little peace does the soul a lot of good, whether it's given by God or your own intelligent mind.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Yong Zhao, Professor at Michigan State's College of Education, offers a thoughtful, respectful, well-crafted defense to the opposition toward No Child Left Behind. Anyone interested in America's educational system will find this engaging. Whether America agrees or not is left to be seen.

No Child Left Behind and Global Competitiveness from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I have come to the conclusion that I do not need external motivation to seek good, try to do good, or to do my damndest to be good.

I recently read an article about the human need (or lack thereof) for God. The pro side of the article stated, in essence, that human beings – society if you will – needs God to give us parameters lest we fall into a place where we do not know right from wrong and commit unspeakable atrocities. It is God, the writers contended, that gives us right and wrong. That ethics and morality are owned by God and given to us by the grace of God. I have always accepted such views (in previous decades) because the alternative, I was afraid, would lead to my immediate and painful destruction. 

Yet ... here I am happy, successful, content, and most importantly, flame retardant. I wasn't struck down by the almighty for not needing him to make me good.

The discussion, which I have enjoyed immensely, has been philosophized upon by persons much smarter than myself and hosts of articles, essays and books expound upon the spectrum of ideas. The whole thing reminds me of our constant discussion in education, i.e. student motivation and behavior modification.

Education philosophies are bubbling with how best to deal with students. Texts, movements and a host of professional development opportunities are aplenty. Do we offer external rewards to change student behavior and increase student motivation or should our efforts be focues on creating an internal locus of control for students so they study, work, and act appropriately because they want to not because we bribe them to do so? 

It may seem an easy question to answer but I offer that the questions are the same for both ethics/morality and school behavior programs. To be consistent, one who believes that God is required in order to have ethical and moral behavior should also believe that students require external motivation (bribes or punishment) in order to have appropriate behaviors. The the contrary, if one believes that goodness can and does exist in spite of the existence of a higher power (or belief in said higher power) then one should also support an internal locus of control (that's fancy education lingo for self-motivation) in students. 

I think I believe in the need and existence of both. That is to say, there are students (and humans) who will do good and be good and seek good for goodness's sake. They will study hard, listen closely, follow directions, and act appropriately because that is who they are. On the other hand, there are students who, despite your best efforts, richest rewards and deepest bribes, will poop in your eye. Most kids (and most adults) are somewhere in between. 

I suppose that means that some people need God to tell them what to do, how to act, and what to think because they are incapable or unwilling to do so on their own. Perhaps, like my kindergartners, they find peace and comfort in the predictability and comfort that knowing offers them. That is not to say, of course, that someone who needs God or finds peace in prayer is immature or juvenile. Perhaps I should say that I think we are all juvenile and immature regardless of belief. You choose whichever makes more sense to you. Others do not need an external force to define right and good and beautiful for they feel comfortable with not having concrete answers for the big questions.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


My daughter has been asking about baptism and our beliefs a lot lately. The baptism discussion spurred on by the book Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume; our beliefs discussion came about because we have been visiting another church. 

At this age of child development it is normal for a child to adopt the same beliefs as the family. Kids require a foundation of what they believe as it gives them peace and helps them make sense of the world. Besides, if kids do not have a foundation they can understand (religion, science, or some hybrid) they risk being caught up in any old cult or crazy belief that comes along. However, my wife and I –– despite the implication that we are imposing our will on our daughter –– feel that our daughter needs to be exposed to varying perspectives on life and religion so she can create her own theological beliefs. As her parents, it is our job to help guide her toward good and rational and nondiscriminatory belief systems.

We asked about baptism at our former church. Children must be in sixth grade and go through a class to prepare them for such a decision. Most choose baptism but some do not. I believe a class is important, even required, to help the children come to understand their decision. I think if a child is seriously asking they should be supplied the information and opportunity. I believe an arbitrary grade restraint serves only to push away an inquisitive child and is counter to most educational theories.

The real problem with baptism, in regards to our former church, is the credo that one must believe in order to be baptized. Here is the belief system that one must claim in order to be baptized in our former church, as quoted from the website forwarded to us by the current minister:

Baptism is a public act by which the church proclaims God’s grace, as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through the use of a visible sign of God’s gracious initiative and the human individual’s response in faith. With other Christians we affirm that baptism is at once a divine gift and a human response.

Baptism, as a gift of grace, received by faith, expresses its meaning in a variety of images: new birth; a washing with water; a cleansing from sin; a sign of God’s forgiving grace; the power of new life now and the pledge of life in the age to come. The meaning of baptism is grounded in God’s redemptive action in Christ, it incorporates the believer in the community in the body of Christ, and it anticipates life in the coming age when the powers of the old world will be overcome, and the purposes of God will triumph.

  1. This credo forces one to believe that Jesus was the human form of God on Earth. This is something we simply do not believe.
  2. It assumes that we are sinners, evil, and in need of constant redemption. We do not put upon our daughter any guilt theology. 
  3. This credo also requires a belief that God gives us some divine gift through a symbolic tradition. We do not believe that we got a job because God willed it, children with disabilities are born to sinful parents as a punishment from God, or that God opened up a parking space because I just prayed for it. (All of these are actual beliefs from actual persons I know directly.)

We spoke to our daughter about this credo and what it means. Upon discovering what she had to believe in order to be baptized, she was much less enthusiastic. For goodness sakes, a 10-year-old scoffs at the idea of a virgin miraculously popping out a baby (let alone a God) and she laughs at the idea of a whale swallowing a man only to spit him up later. She is quite aware of the acidic digestive system and the fact that whales have comb teeth.

Some Christian churches may not actually believe these things either, but they do not actively discuss these issues for fear of losing people and money. They present these issues from time to time, but they are introduced as subtext. Southern Baptism minister Clayton Sullivan wrote  about the division between orthodox Christianity and the post-Enlightenment Christian scholarship in his book "Rescuing Jesus from the Christians":

"Two groups, however, are negatively affected by the conflict between post-Enlightenment scholarship and entrenched orthodox Christianity. One group negatively affect are members of the clergy who received their theological training at seminaries where they were exposed to contemporary biblical scholarship (the kind of scholarship encountered at schools like Emory University in Atlanta and the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge). Before attending seminaries they innocently assumed there was an obvious or normative Christian gospel. But after acquiring a seminary education, they ponder the question: What is the gospel? Discombobulated, they spend their entire professional lives in a quandry. They slip and slide when expounding the kingdom of God to their parishioners. In this regard they resemble pigs dancing on ice. While preaching on race relationships, they circumvent Jesus' opinion that Gentiles are dogs. While preaching about Jesus dying on the cross as a sacrifice for mankind's sins, they inwardly grope for an atonement theory that would make sense out of what they proclaim. Their mouths and minds are not connected. Unsure of what the gospel is, these pastors employ gospel substitutes."

I am not interested in going to a church that is too fearful of simply presenting other scholarly and religious ideas or paths to God. I want to speak about these ideas openly and discuss them and leave open the opportunity for multiple beliefs by different people. I want a more courageous and open community that will offer the congregation the seminary experience. I do not want subtext or hidden messages. I do not want to be forced to believe that Jesus is a God, nor am I willing to force my family to undergo guilt theology just to be baptized, even if that guilty theology is only presented during baptism. No one in our home believes in the inherent evilness or sinfulness of humans. We make good choice and we make bad choices and we live our lives in an attempt to do more good that harm and learn from our mistakes. Sin is fine for those who want it, but guilt theology (even in minute amounts) is not for us. 

So I guess she's decided that baptism is not for her. Or at least that is what she indicated this morning. She is 10, so that might change, but I suspect it won't. We will continue our religious education by learning about many different belief systems and continue to support goodness over all things and love as a foundation for those good beliefs and works. 

Sunday, July 04, 2010


For the record, I do not care for filibusters on Supreme Court nominees. I find it unfortunate that the Dems opened up this can of proverbial worms. We would be better without it. I wonder if the Repubs can every let it go and put it all behind us?


A friend recently told me, "I'm wary of people who think they have all the right answers." This morning we flipped channels and found a religious program. We stopped to watch the train wreck. The program invited people to submit questions by Internet. The men would read the questions on air and then answer them using the Bible. 

To one person they commented that it does not matter what you think or believe. The only thing that matters is what the Bible literally states. 

I suspect two different people could hear that statement and come to very different conclusions. Refer to the first quote in order to infer what my response was.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I left my church.

I am going to attempt to explain the journey that has brought me to this place. However, I offer my thoughts to those who choose to read –– not as an persuasive essay meant to convert or as a document whose merits are up for debate. This is my personal story and I invite all persons to share in my experience so as to illustrate such journeys to those who may or may not be familiar with paths.

Months ago I left my church and my family chose to come with me.

The church did nothing wrong, changed nothing. The congregation did not anger or damage me and I, as far as I know, did them no wrong either. I have journeyed to a place where I could no longer pray and worship as I have in the past. To do so further would constitute a fraud on the church, the friends, society, my family and myself. I chose not to live a dishonest existence and I refuse to fool myself any longer.

I have never been able to pray in earnest in the same ways others do it. It has felt contrived and unnatural to me from the beginning despite my attempts to find it an authentic experience. When I was a child, I went with my grandmother to her Church of Christ church. During the many prayer times there the men flowed from the pew, kneeling and crying and amen-ing while a man lead them in a talk with God, as only men can truly do. I kept my head bowed, but my eyes always crept under my brow for a glimpse of those men. I observed them and wondered: “What are they doing and why are they doing it?” I still have the same questions. The difference between then and now is that I am no longer forced to keep my head bowed and I can look around at those prayer-kneelers square on and ask the question openly.

In only one short period of my life has prayer ever felt self-compulsory. I took a religious notion during my late tweens and early teens. Not because God gave me peace, answers or understanding. I was scared of sin, mostly of masturbation and sexual feelings, which I was told lead me on a hell-bound train of suffering and disappointment. I could hear the whistle blow in my heart and head and I lived in circular pattern of feelings > thoughts > guilt > clemency > redemption and then back to those pesky feelings of sin again.

Women’s breasts were sinful satchels of gyrating trickery meant to lead me to an eternity of weeping, wailing and teeth-gnashing. To give in to my own right-handed desires was a thing of evil. Natural thoughts of sexuality were a disappointment to God. Questioning our beliefs led to Satanism and death.

I prayed, my friends, many times daily to make it all go away. It did not. I started each prayer with an eloquent beginning letting God know how awesome he was and ended each prayer with “in Jesus’ name”. It still did not. Nothing worked. The cycle continued until I could stand the constant feelings of inadequacy and remorse no longer.

I think the more it did not work and the more I questioned the more traditional I became in my beliefs, as if I was the problem and my beliefs were just not powerful or hungry enough. The more evangelical I became the more it did not work.

In my late teens I gave up the practice of prayer. I felt compelled to go to church, if for no other reason but for my parents and other adults (and perhaps myself) charged with my raising to continue thinking I was a good Christian boy. And so I smoked and drank and screwed around a bit, but I could not shake the guilt of it, especially the sexual activity.

Come college, I was done with church, but I still held onto many of my church-going ideals. I think I somehow thought that no matter what I did, if I still said I believed in the old time religion I would be okay. At the same time, I was exploring with some different views of religion, although they were all within the Christian realm. I was too scared of hell to venture too far or to openly ask too many questions. I kept myself tied to my dogma.

As is pretty consistent with many American homes, it was my wife that pushed me towards finding a church. We were married and she sought out that connection to God for us and for our future daughter. The funny thing is that I wanted a church much like what I grew up with. I find that unbelievably perplexing, as I hated everything my Baptist church taught me. However, I was still fearful and that fear drove my decisions. Even if I didn’t really buy into it, if I went and pretended, then all would work out in the end. I suspect this is the case for most Christians. The wife talked me into looking at other churches, some which might have other beliefs. I went along and we found a church that fit my changing viewpoints and even influenced some beliefs, to which I am grateful. It took a while. I did my duty for many years –– contributing to the church, tithing, volunteering. Prayer was out because it’s never worked for me.

Despite my church duty, there has been a nagging all these years, a voice of reason that has questioned everything since I asked my Baptist preacher why it was so sinful for us teens to go to the school dance. To which he retorted with the sinful gyration bit. That boy who knew then that Brother Bud was wrong about women’s bodies being intrinsically sinful has been clamoring at me for years, but I feared that voice too much –– too much. What would happen if that boy was right? What would I have then?

Turns out, nothing happens. For years now I have not prayed and yet I continue to be blessed, to use a Christian term. I don’t think God blesses me any more than I think he blesses the greedy, corrupt, corporate moguls or the atheists. Somehow, God-fearing or not, people continue to reap rewards in this life. It has nothing to do with the Christianity or God, although it makes followers feel better. I don’t begrudge anyone their good feelings.

The squabbles between a one-cup communion or mini-cups, unleavened bread versus hot dog buns, church on Sunday or Saturday, one being or a trinity, or what constitutes appropriate dress at church is now lost on me. In fact, many of those arguments have wounded me and have kept plenty of folks out of the pew. I have a friend whose church requires members and frequent attendees to wear a jacket and tie. Members who cannot afford it will be supplied one. For those like me who have an inner questioner, we receive the message –– usually unintended but sent all the same –– that we are not holy enough, good enough, righteous enough to hear their version of God. The arguments that divide religions and denominations are nothing but man-created dogma and actually have nothing to do with God. I have to fix myself to be accepted into their church fold. Some require you to be one of their own to take communion. Others reject if you are divorced or gay or are pregnant and unmarried. The message is all the same regardless of the circumstance and the wounds caused by it are deep and damaging. The atrocities and discrimination committed in the name of one God or another have devastated me profoundly. It’s all done because of fear of man’s misguided understanding of God.

I am no longer fearful. I do not believe that fear should be the foundation of any religious belief; however, I know that fear is the fuel for most Americans even if they refuse to acknowledge it as I have done for years. I have chosen to rid myself of the shackles of the traditional view of the Christian God in search of a better spiritual quest.

I am down with Jesus. He was a great leader and reformer. I dig his teachings, as I understand them. But I can no longer accept the perfection of a book most of which was written more than 100 years after Jesus’ death. A human was not really swallowed up by a whale and spat out later; a woman did not spontaneously conceive. All of humanity was not spawned from two humans who had boys as offspring. Such stories predate Jesus by millennia or more; they are simply old stories retold and repackaged for a different people.

We have such stories because humans looked at the world around them and tried to explain it. A Native American tribe in California did not have science to rely upon when they tried to explain earthquakes. They could only explain such occurrences through their own experiences thus they conceived a great catfish under the earth caused the tremors. A real understanding of the world –– science –– did not come along until thousands of years later. There is no way the framers of the bible could explain life in any other way but through mythological stories. Mythology and oral stories are humanity’s traditions, but they are not reality.

So many of us have questions about whales and conception and lineage, but we are unable to release the dogma for fear. I have a friend who, when provided with biblical evidence contrary to his belief he said simply: “I cannot believe that because then I would have to change other beliefs.” I get it. I understand that fear-based retort all too well and have clung to such dogma the majority of my life. It’s scary to change your beliefs.

Interestingly enough, once I stripped my life of religious dogma, I found myself free of fear and able to look at religion and spirituality in a much broader and deeper way. I am able to make observations and discover my own truth based on experience, research, and even science.

While many religious persons claim to have the answers and know the one true path, I have only one certainty: I do not have the answers and neither do you. I do not believe there is one path to spirituality or a connection to a higher power. I am amazingly content to not know the answers, and to continue to search for my own path toward goodness, beauty and truth. 

Monday, June 28, 2010


Fellow blogger, Ian, has some thoughts about prayer that I find coherent and well played. I've had the same thoughts recently, but I see no reason to say it when he's done such a good job.

- Posted from my iPad using BlogPress (for now)

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Rights and freedoms are skanky political fodder these days. So many are fighting for their rights over the rights of others, and there are no easy answers when rights conflict. One school district suspended a student for wearing rosary beads. Mother meets with school adminstrators.

My thoughts are as follows:

1. Students should have the right to dye their hair, pierce their eye brows and wear a religious symbol.
2. Schools have a duty to protect students from gangs, drugs bullying.
3. Students should not be able to use religion to disguise gang-related behavior.

So the question really becomes "are rosary beads being used by gang members in schools to circumvent the schools's anti-gang measures?" I am a teacher, but not in a high school. This is not an issue in my school, but I have no information on the use of rosary beads by gang members.

I do not believe we have enough information to make an informed decision. I did notice -- and this is significant -- that the student was allowed to wear the beads so long as he wore them under his shirt. Such a compromise would allow for a student to honor his family and still be in compliance with an anti-bully policy. He would not accept that compromise. I wonder why? The story never said.

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I submit to you, for your comedic pleasure, Jason's top ten list of BP oil excuses.

- Posted from my iPad using BlogPress (for now)

Friday, May 07, 2010


You know I am spent when I turned down the opportunity to see a comic book movie on opening night. I was supposed to meet one of my peeps, but I just couldn't do it -- my body is just too dang tired.

I am excited to see IRON MAN 2, but that will just have to wait until I recover.

- Posted from my iPad using BlogPress (for now)

Thursday, May 06, 2010


What to do for Mother's Day? My daughter and I bought this necklace for my wife. It's not really something she would buy for herself, but we really loved it.

I still need to go shopping for my mother. It's hard to buy for someone who has so much. I don't pick jewelry for my mother. She has impeccable taste.

- Posted from my iPad using BlogPress (for now)

Sunday, May 02, 2010


I was watching the news the other day about the immigration law protests. In the background I saw a man carrying a sign depicting the Arizona governor wearing a Nazi uniform with the SS on her sleeve.

If you read my blog, you know how I feel about the Nazi rhetoric. While I'm not a fan of the law, I don't see a reason to call anyone Nazis. It is just nasty.

- Posted from my iPad using BlogPress (for now)

Thursday, April 29, 2010


A local opinion piece in the News-Leader has spurred all kinds of trouble.

Rhetorica has a lot of information about the issue. Not only did the patriotic writer (as he is billed) refer to African Americans as "colored youth," but the editor has taken heat for not being an editor. Rhetorica does a much better job than I would.

- Posted from my iPad using BlogPress (for now)


As soon as the Arizona immigration law hit the news, Skinny Kitty commented that Missouri would jump on board. She was right, according to the News-Leader

Fortunately, it won't likely pass this year, but you wait. They will try it again.

- Posted from my iPad using BlogPress (for now)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Take your kids.

- Posted from my iPad using BlogPress (for now)


We are entirely too enamored with the "Nazi" label these days, if you ask me. It's reared its ugly head once again with the crazy Arizona immigration law. Make no mistake, this law is more about getting rid of brown skins (who are taking over as the majority) than it is about being here legally.

As crazy as the law is, the folks who sponsored, wrote, lobbied, or voted for it are not Nazis. They may be a lot of things, but hey are not The SS.

Enough of the Nazi talk, already.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This article sent to me by a Jack operative.

At first it seems that a Mom is great for giving up her fancy career for her kids. I'm not sure that it really benefits your kids when you quit your job to micromanage their child's high school and pre-college goings-on.

Seems to me, if your kid cannot write his own college entrance exam then he's not ready for college. Helicopter mom! This Is hovering gone awry.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Walmart is in trouble again, this time with a lawsuit against them for gender bias. Here's the stat I found interesting:

70% of workforce are females
30% of management are women

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I am trying blogging from my iPad, in the chair, while watching TV. Right now it won't let me type in "compse" mode. I have click on "edit HTML" but that works just fine.

What I'm really hoping for is an app for blogger.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


I really didn't anticipate engaging in the Facebook experience as much as I have. I find I use it more as a blogging replacement (micro-blogging) than as a personal social sharing. I find news stories and with the click of a button I can share that story on Facebook and give some kind of opinion, albeit a very small one. 

I wish news sites had a Blogger button I could click and automatically log into blogger, complete with a link provided. It doesn't work that way, but I think it would help the blogging community. The problem with Facebook is that there isn't room to write anything of any significance (unless you use their blogging took but who does that?)

Interestingly, I am using the blog format to discuss this. No, the irony isn't lost on me. I still love to write and that's not what Facebook is about. I just wish news outlets made posting to blogger easier, more intuitive ... more Mac-like.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


There is plenty of talk in the news, on Facebook and in the streets about Nazis lately. A few people are touting signs with Obama sporting a Hitler mustachio, but I discount those folks as nuttier than a hoot owl. 

This post is about regular folks, normal people if you will, typically rational folks who are gumming up dialogue with references to Nazis, and history repeating itself, and other nonsense. I maintain it is all very uncivilized and does nothing to help us remember history and stay on the righteous path. 

I've stopped commenting about it on Facebook because very good people are irrationally linking Obama to Hitler. They aren't saying Obama is Hitler, and in fact they say the opposite. Then comes the "but ..." and the linkage begins. 

Just this morning I caught a news story on MSNBC about a new Harris poll asking Republicans if  Obama is like Hitler or the Anti-Christ. Couldn't find the MSNBC video, but I did find this Yahoo news story. The results?

57% Republicans (32% overall) = Obama is a Muslim
45% Republicans (25% overall) = Obama not born in the US and ineligible to be president
38% Republicans (20% overall) = Obama "doing many of the things Hitler did"
24% Republicans (14% overall) = Obama "may be the Anti-Christ"

According to Michelle Goldberg as paraphrased by Yahoo News, "Respondents without a college education are vastly more likely to believe such claims, while Americans with college degrees or better are less easily duped."

The poll surveyed 2,230 people.

Judas Priest! I did a quick Google search of Obama like Hitler and found more than I needed. Here are a few:

All of this reminds me a lot of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" mantra used to "love" homosexuals while still voting in favor of laws that make homosexuals unequal to us straight-screwing folk. All of this, every single bit, is because of fear. It's making normally reasonable human beings and turning them into Obama-Hitler crazies. Can't we just talk about the issues? Can't we debate the merits of health care without being batshit lunatics? 

Listen. I don't blindly follow the guy. He happens to hold many of the same views I have so I tend to agree with him. I am quite unhappy with the fact that we still have the Patriot Act. I think he should do a better job at communicating with Congress. 

This is turning into a circus, a really bad circus. Even John "Across the Aisle" McCain told the American people not to expect any GOP cooperation on legislation for the rest of the year. That is about the midterm elections (GOP jobs) and not the business of the American people. Remember, there are more than 200 Republican amendments in the health care reform act. Despite what they say, Republican ideas were included. You can forget that. It's now all about elections, even though we are months away from those.

It's all nuts. People need to calm down and read the articles that state explicitly how health care reform will impact us. There are some really great things in that legislation. We should do the people's business and not be on constant campaigning status. 

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I've always maintained, and continue to maintain, that there is no such thing as a Christian politician. That is to say, I don't think any of them are honest. I do support the ones that hold more of my views.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


A few weeks back I posted my enthusiasm for the movie above. I am even more jazzed about it than every, especially after watching the R-rated trailer on YouTube. I was not enlightened enough at the time. Now I realize that this ain't a kids movie. Oh boy, it is not. 

So don't take your kids, nephews, or cousins unless you are okay with them hearing the c-word (for a ladies dainty parts) and the queen mother of all dirty words. It starts with an "F" in case you are a Polly-Anna. 
I am so getting the guys together to watch this at the theaters.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I've added the pages feature to Fat Jack's Erratic Rants. I did this so you can continue to follow the articles, reports and analysis of how the health care reform pages will impact you, your employer,  your family and your friends. 

The links are under the header. Keep coming back. And I would appreciate any Fat Jack operatives to send me any links.


It's Spring break and the daughter is thinking about her summer activities. Drama camp, guitar, cheerleading, soccer, basketball? What will she choose? The wife and I are working out the details in committee and we hope to bring the vote to the floor soon:

  • How many activities is a 10-year-old allowed? 
  • Is she getting enough exercise? 
  • Is she too involved? 
  • What activities promote her strenghts? 
  • How can we build on her weaknesses? 

Don't expect any stupid amendments or an attempt to slow the process down. The decisions must be made, as they are in the best interests of the child's development. 

There's more to life than sports. Big time. Music does wonders for the brain and mathematics specifically (according to research). We need a nice balance and assurance that there is plenty of sweat time. She is so good at drama that we cannot neglect that either. Then there is the issue of what the daughter wants. We believe in choice. 

The daughter is interested in basketball. She cheers like a banshee at the Lady Bears games and had a blast watching her older cousin play in a tourney. So it was off to the store today to pick up a girls' basketball. A pink and white, indoor-outdoor, intermediate size fit the bill. We've spent the last hour dribbling, practicing proper shot form, and playing P.I.G and Around the World. 

We'll see where that takes us. We have a b-ball goal and never bought a ball. We needed one anyway. So no big deal to buy one even if she doesn't play in a league.


I do have a real, legitimate religious question related to health care. 

Many of my friends believe that God has his hand everywhere. That God controls who is elected and what is done. God's will be done. Many people were praying about this health care issue – for and against. So if this many people prayed for God's intervention and we believe God answers prayers (inot always in the way we want, but in what he thinks is in the best interests of his plans) can we then extrapolate that the passage of health care reform was God's will? That he determined it was the best path for America? He does not ignore prayer and there was tons of it. Or do we only do that when we like the outcome of a thing. Then it's God's will. If we disagree, then it is the Devil's work? How do serious followers of Christ answer these questions?


It passed. Now what? No gloating. No songs. No disrespect. It's time to move on. We need to be informed about how the health care reform bill that will affect all of us. The Kaiser Foundation put out a fantastic Q&A guide on how this sweeping legislation will affect us. 

It is a wonderful breakdown to help you understand the basic ins and outs. The Kaiser Foundation went on to offer information on those items that will take effect immediately. 

I am going to print both articles out and give to my elderly grandmother. So watches the news so much and has been very frightened about all of this. Lots of people have been fearful. In fact, I would go so far as to say that people were more afraid than angry, but that's just my opinion. I'm hoping that these articles will help her be informed and less scared. She can hold the documents, make notes, underline, read and re-read. 

Information is power. Power means less fear.

The New York Times also put out a great story that details how you be affected. There are different ways to search the information (by individual, by employer, by Medicare, by Medicaid. So you can find your individual circumstances and get information pertinent to you. 

How the Health Care Overhaul Could Affect You

(Update: Be sure to check back often. I will continue to post these kinds of informational articles as they become available to me. Attention Fat Jack operatives: Send links my way.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010


CBS News offers a nice article on the bill. You know the one that everyone's talking about: Health Care Reform. 

There are some great things in this bill. Great things. For instance:

I started to list them, then figured that if you want to know, you can just click on the link above and read the story yourself. No need to reprint it here. How are these things bad? They are not, in my opinion. But I tend to see Jesus as an advocate and supporter of the poor and downtrodden, not one who trods upon them.


I'm pretty liberal on most things, something you should have already noticed if you stop by very often. So it may surprise you to learn that two of my favorite news programs are MORNING JOE  and FOX NEWS SUNDAY. Both are Republican-learning programs. 

  1. Both shows do a good job offering various viewpoints.
  2. Both seem respectful to liberals
  3. I get a good feel for how Republicans and conservatives see the world and particular issues.

I want to know what other people think. The most important reason is that I feel these shows give me the tools I need to be self-governing. There are plenty of liberal-based shows that do that as well. But I want to know more about those who oppose me and I want to be able to see it in respectful and intelligent ways. Both shows seem pretty fair most of the time.

I watch MORNING JOE every morning while I work out and get ready for work. I check out FOX NEWS SUNDAY every week I can.


Yesterday, the wife and I decided to watch Michael Moore's documentary, CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY. I find his movies interesting and his approach humorous, knowing full well that I need to take him with salt ... lots of salt.

I have a sense of humor and thought it was funny to watch it on the eve of the only significant health care reform vote Congress has ever had the opportunity to vote upon. I'll have the TV on today and cannot wait to watch FOX NEWS SUNDAY (a show I watch every Sunday morning). I'll try to check out MEET THE PRESS, too (a show we sometimes catch.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I keep seeing this Google Springfield business on blogs and especially Facebook. I saw it again on Carbon Trace and wondered why I wasn't supportive of this movement. I do support the City of Springfield's effort to get Google to bring its fiber optic project to the Queen City. Currently, there are 6,717 fans on Facebook. Cool.


This story from Yahoo is just another example of how homosexual persons are excluded from society. What is the rationale for excluding homosexual persons from health-related research studies? Who knows, but what we do know is that it is going on at a rate that was higher than expected.


I hear an anti-gay marriage argument all that time that states that gays already have equal rights and what they are seeking are special rights. There simply is no evidence to support that claim. None. 

Enter Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia. According to Talking Points Memo, he repealed a law that prevented employers from firing a gay employee just because they are gay. He did so by executive order. He was okay with adding veterans to the non-discrimination policy, but took out protections for gays. Adding some and taking away others nulls the "special treatment" argument. 

Homosexual persons are not afforded the same protections and equalities as other persons. They are second class citizens in many ways and the leaders of the movement to keep them down are Christians.


Many congressional bills are not perfect when they first hit. Civil rights protections have continued to evolve (or devolve in the case of one Governor). The health care bill is not perfect and there are things I do not like (favors insurance companies too much) and things I wish were included (single payer system). 

For years the Democrats have been trying to get some form of health care reform. The Republicans took great pleasure and pride in the fact that they shut down Hillary Clinton's attempt to make a go of it in the 90s. The talking points of that same party have continued to be, not on passing some form of health care reform, but on stopping it. The rhetoric is slowing changing to repealing it if passed. 

I understand people's reservations. I have them, too. Will it cost more money than they expect? That is a possibility and it's scary. We need something. What we have does not work any longer. Pundits keep saying that this plan mirrors what Gov. Romney's health care reform did in his state. That makes me wonder if this really isn't about fear and keeping a liberal president from succeeding. 

We need health care reform and despite what the Republicans on television keep saying (America does not want the bill) many, many Americans do want and need health care reform. I know that Glenn Beck says that social justice is evil, but Jesus was for it and so am I.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Just read the quote, then we'll talk:

“I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, ‘Excuse me, are you down with this whole social justice thing?’ 

He went on to relate social justice with "communism" and "Nazism." He also alluded that both the communists and Nazis were advising the White House and he claimed a new history to prove it.

Like it or not, social justice is a central theme with Jesus. If you strip that from the church's teachings what do you have left? You have lots of Old Testament stories of wars, animal sacrifices, food restrictions and plenty of rebukings. Caring about and fighting for the social equality for all persons is not a communist or Nazi belief. It is called love.

I think we are coming to a point where we are merging our political and religious beliefs to the extent that we are changing the ideals of one to suit the needs of the other. It's dangerous.

Churches everywhere are drawing lines in the sand on this one. He may have a chalkboard. He may have plenty of belief. He may have a bully pulpit, but that doesn't buy you much when you link churches with Nazism.

Friday, March 12, 2010


While we are talking about crazy, why not mention the New Zealand woman who sold two vials containing the souls of the dead in an ebay-like auction for nearly $2,000 usd?

Vial one contained the spirit of an older gentlemen from the 1920s. The other held a truculent girl. Apparently, a Ouija board was used to capture the apparitions. Fret not, dear readers. The glass containers were dipped in holy water to "dull the spirits' energy."

My comic book guy (who tipped me off to the story) and I want to know what happens if the corks pop during shipment. Does the UPS truck become haunted? How does one go about pouring a soul into a glass tube? Do you run around scooping air into the vial? Perhaps you siphen the air around the Ouija board then exhale it into the container? Perhaps you smoke too much dope?

Oh I know. You just believe the spirits into the vials. 

(Who is crazier: the seller or the buyer?)


The 16-year-old boy had a urinary tract blockage. His parents had God. No one sought medical treatment and the boy died from heart and kidney failure – a completely preventable medical condition. Now the parents have been sentenced to prison for criminally negligent homicide.

The issue brings up all kinds of problems: freedom of religion, thou shalt not kill, child abuse. Oh crap, it just goes on and on and the shades of gray really complicate things. What if the same were applied to a family who had a standing DNR and pulled life-sustaining treatment from their terminally ill 15-year-old daughter? How do we reconcile the two viewpoints? Each had a child that was allowed to die. 

Perhaps it all comes down to hope. In the first case, the teenage boy had a simple complication that could have been treated with meds, giving him the opportunity to exist. In the later example, the girl was terminally ill and was being kept alive by machines. She had no hope of recovery. 

Even with such a distinction (very black and white) there is the issue of disability? Could we then argue that a child with a significant disability and who will not live past into double digits is therefore terminal and should be allowed to die? What of cancer patients? At what point do we draw the line?

I'm not sure I have the answer for you, but I can make judgments in my own mind that seem good. But it comes down to perspective. Personally, I think the parents who withheld medical treatment for a preventable disease are nuttier than a hoot-owl and I feel little sympathy for the outcome. If we get close to those gray lines, it becomes harder to figure out. 

The funny part is the parents probably believed – really believed – that God would just save their son. Just because someone believes doesn't make it truth or reality. I'm sure they think they felt God talking to them or through them or around them. That don't make it so. They can feel God all they want (or think) but science shows us we have a dead kid.


There's too many hateful people with Jesus in their heart. 

That's my sermon for the day. You can quote me if you like.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


In yet another school-sponsored bully session against homosexuals, a Mississippi high school cancels prom after a student (and the ACLU) filed suit when the district forbade a lesbian student from wearing a tux and attending with her girlfriend. 

Once again, Christians are at the forefront of the movement to discriminate. A local Baptist pastor, Bobby Crenshaw, defended the move as biblical. The mayor is supportive of the school district's decision, too. There was a time when we didn't allow Blacks in schools or at white water fountains. These homosexual haters claiming God are going to find themselves very embarassed at the way they have portrayed God one of these days.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ has kicked out one student and prevented a younger sibling from entering simply because their parents are lesbians. They have the right, of course, as they are a private school. That doesn't mean that it is in line with God's teachings. 

My question centers, not on the church's beliefs, but on the church's consistency with following God's will as they define it. Are people who engaged in any of the following also being denied a religious education based on not following the strict tenants of the Catholic belief system?

  • Divorcees (even if they are remarried)
  • Anyone who has engaged in an extra-marital affair
  • Those who curse
  • Smokers
  • Alcoholics
  • Families who use birth control
  • Masturbaters

My guess is, no. The only families whose children are not allowed to go to this school are those whose parents are homosexual. It's not discrimination if it God's will. Just remember, this is done by those who love the sinners so much.


This is a good funny lampooning the ever-weepy Glen Beck.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


My PRIMUS playlist inexplicably loaded first on my iTunes player today. I have no idea why as I haven't listened to that band for years. I nearly forgot how much I love their funky sound and funny lyrics. The bass lines are wicked-cool and the cymbal work on NATURE BOY is hypnotic. I've included the lyrics to two of my favorite songs from the album, Pork Soda:

My name is Mud
Not to be confused with Bill or Jack or Pete or Dennis
My name is mud and it's always been
'Cause I'm the most boring sons-a-bitch you've ever seen
I dress in blue-yes navy blue
From head to toe I'm rather drab except my patent shoes
I make 'em shine, well most the time
'Cept today my feet are troddin' on by this friend of mine
Six foort two and rude as hell
I got to get him in the ground before he starts to smell
My name is Mud

My name is Mud, but call me Alowishus Devadander Abercrombie
That's long for Mud so I've been told
Told that by this sonsabitch that lies before me bloated blue and cold
I've got my pride, I drink my wine
I'd drink the finest except I haven't earned a dime in several months
Or were it years
The breath on that fat bastard could bring any man to tears
We had our words, a common spat
So I kissed him upside the cranium with an aluminum baseball bat
My name is Mud

I pull the blinds then I take my clothes off
Dance around the house like nature boy
My genitalia and pectoral muscles aren't quite what I would like them to be
But you don't see me
No one can see me

I pull my blinds
Fill out my income tax form
Pen in hand I write so legibly
I have my kitty. His name is Allowishus, I stroke him
But you don't see me
No one should see me

I pull the blinds
For the sun glares off my tele and I find it quite so irritating
I have my videos-loads of Ren and Stimpy
Bottom-a bit of pornography
But you don't see me
No one should see me

I've been persecuted since I sailed in through the door!
And I've been known to sing a song in 3 and 4 and 5!
And I've been gettin my ass chewed since the day I arrived!

I'm home alone, my friends, soaking in all the pork soda I can before the family arrives. I love finding old music again. It's like reading an old book.


THE BIG BANG THEORY is the funniest show on television in years. I like being the key demographic because shows are made for me and I love it. Screw getting old. These four guys are my friends – well, not the genius part but the geeky, comic, sci-fi, technology part for sure. Geek is chic, baby. 

Who knew that the senior citizen channel (CBS) could put out something so hip? Click here for the official page.


Jason's Top Ten Fave Lines from Fat Jack's Erratic Rants. We didn't expect our own top ten, but thought it was fun. [Insert best Beavis and Butthead giggle.] Thanks for the ribbing, Jason.

We sincerely appreciate Jason's funny bone as he gives us funny things to talk about. By the way, one of my favorite blogbytes involves the phrase "donkey-on-turtle sex,"which I support.

Monday, March 08, 2010


No doubt you've heard that THE HURT LOCKER stomped out any real aspirations of AVATAR. The sci-fi flick won some well-deserved statues for special effects and other things, but a stolen script didn't win out in the end. [whew].

More than anything our group noticed how poorly the Oscars were produced and directed. There were so many sloppy mistakes and awkward moments that it affected the enjoyment. The crowd was visibly more somber than usual (and I'm not talking about George Clooney's schtick with hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin). Every time they panned the crowd, folks looked like they were genuinely bored or unhappy.

Once again Quentin Tarantino was snubbed. It really seems that the Academy hates Tarantino for some reason. It is the blogger's opinion that Tarantino is the greatest film maker of my generation.

I had a great time anyway, although I was dragging this morning. I added some new movies to my Netflix queue. 

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Now, you can fully enjoy all the Academy Award goings-on even if they do give AVATAR an award it doesn't deserve. (Click of the keyboard to J.R. for the link.)

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Cinephile and Oscar genitalia-toucher, Jason Rohrblogger, already has his Academy Award speech ideas on the net. Now all he has to do is move to Cali, work as a waiter, get discovered after pleasing the director, make a movie that spares us any full frontal nudity or back hair, and win his Oscar. Then he can thank everyone with such statements as (my personal fav):

I especially appreciate my fellow nominees for not being talented enough to compete with my performance this year.

Jason. When are you going to feature your number one Internet fan and promoter in one of those handy-dandy top ten lists?


Apparently, people are so enamored with the magical world of Pandora depicted in the movie AVATAR that they are experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts because they can't live there. All this crazy hubbub over a movie that is a nothing more than a weak mishmash of ideas stolen from other scripts covered in an admittedly well done CGI gravy. 

Oh yeah. Fans are reporting experiencing depression and considering suicide according to CNN. I can't stand it. The only thing that movie did well, and does deserve an Oscar for, is the CGI. And I simply can't explain AVATAR inducing depression except to say that people must walk in with profound sense of malaise and depression to begin with. 

I can see how it's ripping of other scripts might make one angry. I'm depressed that it's up for so many Oscars. I might self-mutilate by slamming my head against the wall or gauging my eyes out with a hot poker if AVATAR wins. But killing myself over its cinematography or story? Judas Priest!



We are hosting an Oscar party this year, thanks to both of us being employed. (I was still getting my master's this time last year.) Skinny Kitty is out of town all weekend for a scrapbook retreat and that leaves the daughter and I to get everything ready. I'm not dirtying up a kitchen to cook for 15 adults and 5 kids, just to clean it up all by myself. No thank you. Skinny Kitty will come home on Sunday to several gourmet pies from Arris' Pizza.

In celebration of the Oscars sometimes ridiculous winners, I offer 5 Reasons the Oscars Matter Even Less Than You Thought from Those bastards are going to choose AVATAR to win all kinds of nonsense. I just know it. I will spew like that girl in THE EXORCIST. Therefore, we are changing our rules of engagement. No longer will attendees mark down their best guesses for who will win at the Oscars. This year, we are recording who we would choose if we were the judge and jury. 

If you need more Hollywood laughs, try out these stories from the same comedic crew at Cracked.


Remember these guys dancing on treadmills in their music video? How cool was that? Well, the band known as OK Go has a new video featuring an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine. These guys are so much fun to watch. They are a group who has really merged music and video, making them a band that must be viewed and not just listened to.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


The child of mine was spirited away with the cousins toward Oklahoma, giving the wife and I a weekend to ourselves. It's been a long while since we had time together as a couple and I didn't know how much I missed and needed that time. 

We have enjoyed long romantic dinners, movies, some shopping and much needed talk. I hope we don't neglect ourselves for so long as I don't think that makes for good relationships. Although our relationship is strong, it is much more connected now that we had some time alone. 

THE HANGOVER and SEVERANCE were much required R-rated escapes. THE HANGOVER, in my opinion, is a true date movie, but then again I am a bit strange. SEVERANCE was a whoop and holler comedic slasher.

Not to neglect our artsy fartsy side, we also watched INSIDE DEEP THROAT – a documentary film about the pornographic movie from the 70s that profoundly changed the sexual attitudes.  I had no idea any X-rated movie had such an impact on society. Thousands of regular folks, who would never watch porn otherwise, flocked to movie theaters to see DEEP THROAT. The documentary is rated NC-17 and is certified fresh (82%) by Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Speaking of educational issues, KY3 reports budget problems for Missouri's K-12 institutions to the tune of $43 million (2 percent shortfall). Rep. Maynard Wallace (R-Thornfield) wants to change the law to allow school districts to reduce teacher pay (the story does not say how much of a reduction) and eliminate professional development in order to keep their jobs. 

Personally, I'd rather get paid less and still have the opportunity to do the job I love so much, rather than become unemployed. That's just me. I'd rather not see cuts to my salary at all.


CNN carries the second installment to a story I mentioned earlier today. All the teachers and administrators at Rhode Island's lowest performing high school were fired by the school board. (How exactly do you put that on your resume? As if there were any teaching jobs out there.)


CNN has the story of a Rhode Island school district superintendent whose desire it is to fire all the 74 teachers in the lowest performing school in the state. The problem with stories like this is that it is  presented very few specific facts (except overall scores of the students). The story does not help the population govern itself as we cannot make educated decisions because we are not really educated. 

  • What is the culture of the school? Is it a positive and encouraging atmosphere or a toxic one?
  • What is the culture of the families in the school community? Do they support making their children better or disdain all things educational?
  • What is the overall attitude of the teachers?
  • What is the overall attitude of the administrators?
  • What kind of district support (money) does the school receive compared to other schools?
  • What kind of district support (not money) does the school receive compared to other schools?
  • How is the district responding to the specialized needs of persons in poverty?
  • What pedagogy are the teachers using to educate the students?
  • How do the teachers design learning environments specific to persons in poverty?
  • What amounts of tutoring are already going on in the school?
  • What are teachers doing to reach students and establish strong relationships?
  • Why is there such a turnover rate with principals in this school?

In order to determine the causes of the problem and make strides to repair the damage and educate students, harder questions must be asked beyond graduation rates and math proficiencies (both important questions in identifying there is a problem, but superficial questions in regards to addressing the problem.) 

To even take a side with this lack of real questioning is to succumb to certain political and world views rather than addressing the individual school's issues. I have my own world views and could make sweeping statements based on those world views, but it would be just as uneducated as both of the persons interviewed. In order to properly govern ourselves, we need deep questions and further exploration.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Why don't you limit enrollment?

That's what Missouri House Appropriations members asked of university presidents this week in response to the crisis facing higher education budgets in 2012. The AP quoted Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirwood, (through the Springfield News-Leader), "As bad as 2011 looks for us, in 2012 we're going over a cliff." Elementary and secondary schools are also facing serious cuts in the coming years.

It seems to me that limiting enrollment is counter productive to boosting an economy. If people are out of work, then new skills and education are the keys to getting into a more robust field. If we limit access to higher education, then even when jobs open up, there won't be enough qualified people to fill them. I don't understand the logic when it comes to contempt for education.


I give a big fat Pfff to all things figure skating and ice dancing. I recognize those are the most popular events at the winter olympics (and requires a lot of athletic prowess), but it's like sitting through a romantic comedy where everyone is dressed in Mardi Gras costumes. The enjoyment of which just proves that people don't have very good taste. Downhill skiing, super g, snowboarding, snowboard cross, curling, and luge, are much more interesting and exciting. Yes, even curling. I find it so strategic and interesting. 

My friend Jason Rohrblogger has some suggestions for new winter Olympic sports. I only find one failing in his list: His number 10 is my number one.

Is it wrong to find that most of the events I enjoy involve the possibility of bodily harm?  Not very civilized, I know, but I can't help it. The impending doom jacks the whole thing up to an acceptable level of engagement for me.  Curling being the exception. It's so cerebral and strange that I am fascinated with it. I suppose that might be because the sport is more accepting of those with less-than-athletic physiques. What is the deal with those little brooms? Do they really make a significant difference? 

For those who need more comedic Olympic nonsense, you are directed to read the 5 Ways to Enjoy Terrible Winter Olympic Events.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The Bus is plunging deep into political discourse today, and for good reason. It is coming to light that hundreds of conservative legislators who voted against the Stimulus package are now cutting ribbons and taking credit for the good the Stimulus has produced. The head of the hypocrisy campaign is Missouri's own Roy Blunt. 

It seems the Stimulus did much more than opponents claimed. It put legislators in a quite a quandary to vote against a thing that ultimately saved jobs and created good things in their communites. So they simply take credit for the good things even though the Stimulus really paid for it. 

Saving jobs during a Depression-close recession is the same thing as creating jobs. The longer it goes, the more evidence that no stimulus likely would have left us with a full fledged, all-out Depression. A depression is not good on any society. Thank goodness we don't have one.

Thanks Bus-Man. Please keep driving; I need the ride.