Friday, March 14, 2014

Who Needs an AR-15 When You've Got a Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet?

In the annals of adaptive re-use I propose that every home be equipped with cast iron skillets.  You can (if you are of that ilk) cook anything from a roast to vegetables to cornbread in them, and when your husband gets on your last nerve (as mine has) you can employ them as a disciplinary tool.  (I believe in corporal punishment for grown adults.)  Plus, even a good skillet costs far less than a good gun with all the ammo and licenses and camo.

I live in a state that is home to hunters.  All kinds of people hunt here.  Enjoy it.  Part of how they were raised.  yadda yadda.  I have no problem with any of that.  But where and why did all that morph into these Army of One nuts who sleep with one eye open because the government (and it's just a matter of time) is gonna get them?

In my limited experience, here's how the government of the US of A gets it's domestic enemies:

1.  RICO (racketeering) prosecutions,
2.  infiltration of organizations via wiretapping and informants thereby sowing the seeds of mistrust, e.g., COINTELPRO, and letting vanity, ego and paranoia do the rest,
3.  persistent and relentless auditing by the IRS.

By the time the gov'mint whips out their guns, most of the damage is done.

So what if you haven't paid all your taxes?  You just aren't that important, fella.  Your hypervigilance about your own personal safety makes me wonder what you are so afraid of?  But what is more worrisome to me than the kind of naivete that leads to thinking your door is the one getting kicked in at 4 am is the indifference of many of these folks to what we so quaintly used to call the common good. For them there are not even any arguable issues to be considered to balance the tension between individuals' possession (and use) of firearms and the safety of those who don't.  And yeah, I've read the 2nd Amendment and could spend the rest of my life reading the judicial decisions that have flowed from it over the past 200+ years, but this has long since escaped being a jurisprudential argument and has become something else.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

And the Winner Is ....

I don't care about the Oscars.  I don't.  And it's not sour grapes.  I don't know if my indifference coalesced before I'd served on several award panels and saw up-close-and-personal how the sausage was made or if it happened because there were whole years of my adult life where I didn't see first-run films much less own a television or if it's just the fact that over the course of a life one loses interest in things whether it be Fashion Week, the novels of Jane Austen or bathing.  Just don't know.

But, I am endlessly fascinated by by social psychology, group psychology, and the political science of cultural institutions and events.  Here's what I think will happen -- either Steve McQueen will win Best Director and/or 12 Years A Slave will win Best Picture.  Both deserve honor on merit alone, but to borrow from Mae West, merit has nothing to do with it.  In this era where even a blind man can see that social inequality has broadened and hardened in this nation, why not make a grand and empty gesture to celebrate our American Redemption Story and Our Never-ending Struggle to Live Up to  Our Ideals.  With the added benefit that the film was an allegory set in the 19th century, and we are not like that now.  Are we?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wise Voices in CT About Education

I was teaching in NYC schools when No Child Left Behind avalanched into American education.  For those of us who treasure creativity, novelty, self-teaching by exploration and an eclectic education the principles behind NCLB were alarming.  Many teaching artists were both alarmed and wary of what it would mean for our work.  The law and the school system's policies that followed from it fundamentally changed how and what we taught.  And our revolutionary and transgressive roles in school were diminished.

It didn't take long before many of us turned our backs on the work.  We would have left anyway.  You can only work so long as an itinerant artist-educator.  At some point you long for focussed commitment -- either to your art or the teaching.  But even if I'd stayed longer, my analysis and critique of educational policy would have been disregarded.  I had no juice.  But the people I'm linking to do have juice.  One is the legendary Dr. James Comer, whose work I'd known of since the 1980's and the other is the Superintendent of East Lyme, CT Schools, Dr. James Lombardo, interviewed yesterday on WNPR-FM's Where We Live.  Lombardo wrote to Governor Malloy, Education Commissioner Pryor and others in state government enumerating just how wrong the "reform" initiatives the state is pursuing are and the false premises that led to them.

I hope these voices are part of a tide being turned.  It may be too late for much of public education, but perhaps that's the point.  I sometimes wonder if urban public education has become like early 20th settlement work.  Upper class women, prior to their coming out balls that signified their ascension into society would work with The Poor.  They performed charity work that by no means upended the systemic order of things.  The status remained quo.

Anyway, the links:

 New Haven Independent interview the Dr. Comer, and story on Dr. Lombardo's letter to Malloy et al.