Archive for October, 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows – Definitely a school that lived up to its name!

It’s not ironic that a bullied teenage girl in Canada committed suicide during a month dedicated to dealing with and discouraging bullying. It’s just tragic and a sign that no matter what we do, bullying will always be around until both parents and children learn to take personal responsibility for the world around them.

Because earlier this year, we also found out that teenagers who tried to stop bullying got in trouble, like in Florida where a girl on a bus stood up for a mentally disabled student and was then herself called a bully. And what about another case, this time this month, when a mother forced her 13-year-old daughter (here in the Houston area) to beat up another girl?

Do we really have no idea of what makes someone a bully?

The girl shot by the Taliban is just another example of bullies. Just like the Texas mom, they’re grown up bullies out of the school yard, but still trying to control other people’s actions through the use of violence, fear, and intimidation.

And I know I’ve said it before, but I know where this comes from. I spent five years in a Catholic school where the officials had no idea how to deal with bullying, other than blaming the victims or pretending it wasn’t happening. The parents of the bullies didn’t care, either. Their precious little snowflakes would never do such things. It didn’t matter that their precious little snowflakes were actually precious little bastards. The parents closed their eyes just as the school did, and my sister and I both suffered for it, along with anyone else who got in the way.

Now I wonder, just like I do when I see these news stories, how do the bullies feel? Do they feel justified? Do they feel proud of themselves? Are they honestly that devoid of humanity?

What about my now-grown-up bullies from 20+ years ago? What would they say if they met me on the street? Would they apologize? Would they justify their actions out of embarrassment? Out of a true belief that they’d done nothing wrong? Would they understand what they had done? What if their own children are being bullied? Are they outraged at the lack of response?

I can’t always blame children for doing childish things, but when it gets adults involved, and when it goes on for so long, I have to think that there is something going wrong out there…

Southern portal and eastern (downstream) side of the Monroe County Bridge 114, which carries Friendship Road over Stephens Creek (a Salt Creek tributary) east of Bloomington in Salt Creek Township, Monroe County, Indiana, United States. It was built in 1898.

Southern portal and eastern (downstream) side of the Monroe County Bridge 114, which carries Friendship Road over Stephens Creek (a Salt Creek tributary) east of Bloomington in Salt Creek Township, Monroe County, Indiana, United States. It was built in 1898.

How do you know that someone has changed or not changed?

It may sound like a vague question, but I’m serious.  It all came up on Facebook.  One old friend asked another old friend if, since we were once again local to each other, half way across the country from where we grew up, if we ever hung out.  We had, once.  And while I’d extended several other invitations, all of them were shot down (although kindly).  And that reminded me of how our childhood friendship had ended (years and years before Facebook existed).  I had called this friend to hang out, and she told me that she thought I was “too weird” and she didn’t want to hang out anymore.  A crushing blow to a sixth grader.  Now, not so crushing, but another reason to think people are too judgmental of other’s choices in life.  This friend now seems rather “weird” herself in some ways.  But, hey, isn’t our own personal weirdness what makes us unique and fun?

But there’s still a little of that sixth grader in me, and I wonder, has this friend really become as enlightened as she seems?  Or is she still the same girl who was cruel to me all those years ago?  Do people really change?

I have one other Facebook friend I wonder this about.  She also blew me off oh-so-many years ago.  I learned where I ranked in her hierarchy of friends – as long as I was helpful, she wanted me around.  Beyond that, I was Queen in the Land of Blow-Off Land, and she would deign to shower me with her presence only when it was convenient to her.  But I still accepted her friend request on FB because somehow I still cared.  So has she changed?  Does she actually care about me and my life?

I have no idea.  I can’t answer these questions.  I’ve already culled the people who weren’t ever truly friends with me or who hadn’t changed from the pettiness of grade and high school, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.

At the same time, I’ve been happy to rekindle some friendships – people who just fell out of my life for one reason or another: moving, changing schools, bad scheduling.  And there are other people I’d like to find and “friend.”  But what if those people have changed for the worst and would disappoint me?

So how to tell who’s a FB friend or foe?

So this morning in the car, I was listening to “Imagine.”  And first off, it was kind of funny to think that the guy singing about “imagine there’s no greed” and “no possession” was, at the time, extremely rich and had plenty of possessions.  But that’s not actually my point.  It was after that when I took it further in my mind and made some new connections.

Lennon was shot and killed by a man (whose name I won’t mention – why glorify a killer who wants to be glorified?), and said killer was found at the scene, reading a copy of “Catcher in the Rye.”  The killer said that the book was his statement.  It caused a lot of blame – it was obviously Salinger’s fault for writing the book.

Reagan was shot by a man who wanted to impress Jodi Foster because of his love for her, and his need to get her attention and respect.  Did anyone blame Jodi for the shooting?  No, her existence wasn’t at fault.  But Salinger’s book was…even though the book did nothing more than Jodi Foster did.  It existed.  Someone used it for a bad thing, but that didn’t make it bad, any more than what Jodi Foster did made her bad.

Then, recently, we had an arrest in Katy, Texas.  A 19-year-old man who had posted multiples pages and questions about how he wanted to go out by killing a group of elementary school students, noted how long police response would take, and asked how to videotape it.  Sounded pretty serious, but he claimed it was just a joke.  What *made* him think about it?  And would we blame the elementary school students who were killed?  Or would we find something else to blame?  Because, of course, there has to be blame assigned, right?

Why do we have to blame something – or someone – when something bad happens?  I have nothing against blaming the person who committed the act.  It’s their fault.

Does this relate to our concept of victims?

We like to blame them, too.

We put out signs in parking lots, telling us not to put our stuff out because then someone might be tempted to steal it.  We tell women not to wear clothing that’s too “skimpy” or “attractive” because then someone might be tempted to rape them.

Why don’t we work on stopping bad people instead of training good ones? Last night, I watched the second episode of “The Mindy Project,” and one of the characters had a tattoo on his stomach that said “No More Stealing Cars.”  He reversed the blame game – instead of making up a sign to tell other people to stop tempting him, he made up a sign to stop from being tempted.  Now, I’m not saying that’s always possible, but maybe he had the right idea…

Scales

Scales to check the balance…
by AntonyB at fr.wikipedia, CC-BY, via Wikimedia Commons

But there are definitely some things that go beyond “unfair.”

I work as a college professor. And I’ll be honest – at best, I get $1,600 a class. For a semester. Think about the number of hours I put in per month, and you’ll see, it’s not nothing, but it’s sure not a lot. That’s because I’m an adjunct. Colleges and universities love us cheap adjuncts because they can pay us nothing and then be able to do things like this…

Turn a blind eye to a professor who spend $600/night hotels. Who rents Land Rovers at $180/day while traveling for “school business.” Who buys $8,000 worth of Mont Blancs for “computation by hand written devices.”

And the professor in question sees no problem with the spending because it’s not tuition, state, or federal funds. It’s from the “private sector, mostly big oil companies, which pump big bucks into the University for a research program that Dr. Weglein runs.”

So…what we’ve learned is that a professor sees no problem with lavish spending because he feels like he earns it by being a corporate shill. Ya know, before, in a previous blog, I said that I disagreed that the academic system was totally corrupt. I may have to take that back because, obviously, the system is corrupt. And maybe it still isn’t right to cheat, but we need to look at how our higher education system is being run, and maybe we need to look a bit closer at not just our students but our educators, too.

Posted: October 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

This is just one of those important things to read…why do we think this is romantic and sweet? It’s sexual assault. What is wrong with our culture?

Crates and Ribbons

The kissing sailor, Greta Zimmer Friedman, George Mendonsa

Most of us are familiar with this picture. Captured in Times Square on V-J Day, 1945, it has become one of the most iconic photographs of American history, symbolizing the jubilation and exuberance felt throughout the country at the end of World War II.

For a long time, the identity of the pair remained a mystery. It certainly looks passionate and romantic enough, with many speculating that they were a couple – a sailor and a nurse, celebrating and sharing their joy. This year, however, historians have finally confirmed that the woman is Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental nurse at the time, and George Mendonsa, a sailor.

Have a look at some articles about it. Do you get the feeling that something is not quite right?

Huffington Post

Daily Mail

CBS News

A few facts have come to light. Far from being a kiss between a loving couple, we learn…

View original post 508 more words

Pennies

Pennies, CC-BY, via PDPhoto.org

I should know better.  I know I should know better.  But sometimes I’ve found interesting or otherwise amusing ads on Craigslist, so I tend to check out the listings for jobs.  A few weeks ago, I found a listing (now gone) that asked for someone willing to take an online class in place of the “student” for $500.  What a joke – $500!  That’s a lot of effort.  And not a lot of money.  And, well, you know, that whole ethics thing. 

But today I found two new listings that were pretty funny.  First, this one:

http://houston.craigslist.org/wri/3295837572.html

What an awesome opportunity!  You can write an 80-page (20,000 word) novella in four weeks, as well as an outline, and you’ll be paid a whopping $150, which comes out to about $.0075/word.  And, of course, you’ll be doing it as a ghost writer, so you sign away all rights, get no royalties or future publishing rights, and your name won’t be on it.  Although, to be fair, why would you want your name on something that you wrote in four weeks for a whopping $150?  Cause it’s either totally crappy, or you’re really into selling yourself short because it’s good and you should get a lot more money – and credit – for it.

But, wait, there’s more!

If you’re not insulted yet, check out this ad:
http://houston.craigslist.org/wri/3302459602.html

They are looking for graduates with a 3.4 or better GPA who have graduated from a “prestigious” college…and they include links at the bottom so you can check and see if your college made the cut.  The example they provide for what they want in the subject line of the email is Princeton.  Because, you know, Craigslist is just full of Princeton and other “prestigious” college graduates who are desperate to work on k-8 curriculum.  And, you know, only people from “prestigious” colleges are worth hiring.