Department Of This Is Beyond Depressing
Sub-Department Of Are We Abetting A Nation Of Crybaby Snitches?
“As gold sunlight filtered into her kitchen, English teacher Mary Wood shouldered a worn leather bag packed with first-day-of-school items….
Everything was ready, but Wood didn’t leave. For the first time since she started teaching 14 years ago, she was scared to go back to school.
Six months earlier, two of Wood’s Advanced Placement English Language and Composition students had reported her to the school board for teaching about race. Wood had assigned her all-White class readings from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘Between the World and Me,’ a book that dissects what it means to be Black in America.
The students wrote in emails that the book — and accompanying videos that Wood, 47, played about systemic racism — made them ashamed to be White, violating a South Carolina proviso that forbids teachers from making students ‘feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress’ on account of their race.”
( excerpted from, “Her students reported her for a lesson on race. Can she trust them again?: Mary Wood’s school reprimanded her for teaching a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Now she hopes her bond with students can survive South Carolina’s new laws.”
By Hannah Natanson, The Washington Post, 9-18-23 )
I read Between the World and Me. I think every American should read Between the World and Me. I wish that a book like Between the World and Me had been published when I was in my American History and social studies classes in high school, and if it had been, I know we would have been able to read and discuss it.
Gaaaawwwwd, it makes me feel old, to read about this shameful South Carolina policy. Old in a different way than the usual, “In my day…” story, which is often the tag line for a Good Old Days ® conservative cultural sentiment.
Why does it seem as if we are going backwards?  Moiself was able to benefit from so many high school classroom topics and discussions that some people, apparently, would find “controversial” (read: threatening) today, but that which we students managed to deal with. Isn’t that the point of education?
I remember when a couple of friends of mine, who were taking the Logic class given by one of our high school’s most respected teachers, told me about how they were frustrated after a classroom discussion wherein a student brought up the topic of religion: this student thought that some idea(s) presented in the class threatened his religion in particular and/or dismissed the idea of taking something “on faith” in general, and wanted the class to discuss it. Being a class on logic, i.e., a class on learning to employ and evaluate different kinds of arguments  and learning how to recognize good or bad arguments, students who made illogical and or unsubstantiated claims re their religion were challenged, and the mistakes in their arguments and claims were pointed out to them, by both the teacher *and* by fellow students.
( I sooooooooo wanted to be in that class!  )
I listened to my friends’ recounting of the class’s discussion; I pointed out where I thought the other students and teachers had made excellent points, and gave my friends the, “Hey, chin up – this is good for you!” support. My friends accepted my feedback – one of them had to pout for a minute, as she was initially put out by the fact that I didn’t just jump to her defense, no matter what, but she was thoughtful and gracious about it.
And that was that.
It never occurred them to run whining to their parents like a tantruming toddler:
“Mommy, Daddy, that mean Mr. Guggenheim made me feel uncomfortable!
My teacher corrected me when I made false assertions
and used faulty reasoning!
My teacher introduced me to new ideas!
My teacher attempted to teach!
What’s with students – in an *Advanced Placement* class – turning into narcs? WTF ?!?!?! Coate’s book is just the kind of thought-provoking material “advanced” students should be reading and discussing.
This is yet another sad example of the wimping out by and dumbing down of the American student, and it is happening on all sides of the cultural and political spectrum. Those college students who essentially put their hands over their ears and assume the nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah I can’t hear you posture, as they bleat, “We feel threatened! We need safe spaces in order to learn!” while they shout down and/or attempt to censor professors and guest speakers with whom they disagree? Same coin; opposite side.
And what kind of parents would report a teacher for…..arrrrghhh. My own parents were conservative, both with regards to politics and religion, but it never would have occurred to them  to presume to tell my teachers what and how to teach.
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Department Of I Don’t Give A Rat’s Ass About What Percentage Of Tag Fees Go Toward So-Called “Conservation Efforts,”
I Wish All Hunters Would Hunt Each Other And Leave Other Creatures Alone
Yet another misguided attempt at forging common ground. Because, yeah, what can unite us human beings – despite our differences in skin color, origin, religion, ethnicity, etc. – is the All-American ® desire to kill other living beings for the sheer, bloodthirsty fun of it sport.
“Hunters of Color, founded in Corvallis in 2020…is a nonprofit intent on diversifying the outdoors, specifically hunting. The organization has flourished since its inception, with ambassadors in Texas, Washington, New Mexico and many more states. It offers a mentorship program, hands-on restoration opportunities and anti-racist education services. The organization aims to confront and remove barriers for people of color interested in hunting.”
( excerpt from “The outdoors are for everyone:
Oregon nonprofit aims to diversify hunting,” Oregonlive.com )
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The Podcast I’m Looking Forward To
(Sub-Department Of Note To Moiself:
Time To Stop Complaining And Appreciate Something)
Moiself has a long line of podcast episodes in my listening queue, but the one going to the top of the list will be the one that was previewed on the last Clear + Vivid podcast I listened to, which was C+V host Alan Alda’s interview with Maya Shankar. Shankar, a gifted violinist, had her hard work and dreams smashed by an injury which ended her dream of a musical career. Yet it was the end of that dream, and that career, which led Shankar down another path: to a PhD in neuroscience…which led her to being appointed to science advisory posts with both the Obama administration and the United Nations.
As if that episode wasn’t interesting enough (and it was), here was the teaser for the next C+V episode, featuring Matt Walker, the “…go-to expert on everything to do with sleep, from how it keeps both mind and body healthy to why we dream.
(Walker speaking; my emphases):
“I often think of dream sleep as a Google search gone wrong. Let’s say that I type into Google, ‘Alan Alda,’ and the first page is all of your…accomplishments, but then I go to page twenty, it’s about a field hockey game in Utah, and I think, ‘Hang on a second, that’s not…’ but if I read it and I look, there’s a very distant, very non-obvious association. When you start to collide things together that shouldn’t normally go together, it sounds like the biological basis of creativity.
And no wonder, as a consequence, no one has ever told you, ‘Alan, you should really stay awake on a problem.’
How can I not resist a preview like that?
Sometimes I feel as if Alda and his C+V staff write their podcast episode previews for an audience of one: moiself. The podcast’s focus is on communication; host Alda has a passion for the subject, both as an actor and as a lifelong science devotee (Alda hosted Scientific American Frontiers, and founded Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.)
Here is the mission statement for C+V:
“Learn to connect better with others in every area of your life. Immerse yourself in spirited conversations with people who know how hard it is, and yet how good it feels, to really connect with other people – whether it’s one person, an audience or a whole country.
You’ll know many of the people in these conversations – they are luminaries in our culture. Some you may not know. But what links them all is their powerful ability to relate and communicate. It’s something we need now more than ever.”
Alda’s guests include many scientists, but not exclusively. He interviews people from across the spectrum of professions, including music and art. One of his most memorable guests (IMO) was Paul McCartney. Alda spoke with McCartney about communicating through music and the process of composing a song. Some of Paul’s songs he crafted deliberatly: When Paul was struggling with his grief over John Lennon’s death, Paul’s late wife Linda, knowing music was the vehicle through which her husband dealt with emotional issues, suggested he write about his feelings for his childhood friend and former Beatles bandmate…and that prompt resulted in McCartney’s heartfelt song, Here Today.  Other times, McCartney noted, although he would still apply his musical skill and experience in fine-tuning a song, the original idea for a song appeared organically, or out-of-the blue, as when he awoke one morning with the complete melody for Yesterday in his head, after having “composed” it in a dream. 
Here are just a few of the guests and subject titles of recent C+V podcasts.
* Adam Mastroianni: Why You So Often Get It Wrong
* Nancy Kanwisher: Your Brain is a Swiss Army Knife
* Dan Levitt: You Are Stardust. Really.
* Adam Gopnik: The Joy of Getting Good at Something Hard
* Brenna Hassett: Why We Are Weird
So, if you haven’t already…check it out!
* * *
Department Of Reasons To Read Your Junk Mail
Because you may just stumble upon gems like this:
Robyn, you’re invited to a FREE Seminar and Meal!
SMART CREMATION – your local pre-planning experts.
*Smart* cremation. As opposed to, uh, foolish or stupid cremation, where you, like, stumble into the crematorium chamber when you’re not really dead yet?
Also head-scratch worthy: the invitation’s envelope was addressed to, “The Robyn Parnell Family.” Hmm. Does my family have plans for me, to which I am not privy?
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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
* * *
May you not “stay awake on it” when contemplating your next challenge;
May you occasionally, actually, read your junk mail;
May you creatively “collide things which shouldn’t go together”;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Perhaps because WE ARE.
 Such as categorical syllogistic logic, propositional logic, predicate logic….
 But, alas, I was never able to fit it into my schedule, which was weighed down with everything else I either wanted to or had to take, and the class was offered only once a semester, at one time of the day.
 And I did ask them about it – about what they would do in similar circumstances – years ago. This was when I’d read an article about students complaining to parents about a teacher teaching something that the student didn’t like – something which was not factually incorrect, or presented in a rude or condescending or nasty way, but a mere fact, which made the student (translate: a fact which their parents had told them was not a fact, as in something about religion and/or the civil War) uncomfortable.
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org