Friday, January 29, 2016

Constitutional Education, Nerdily

Laney will finish her 10th year in CPS schools this year.  In that time, almost all of her teachers have been superlative. You'd never believe that listening to the folks who run our school system; you know, these guys:

Darth Rauner, Rahm and Forrest Claypool
They'd have us believe that CPS teachers are overpaid, incompetent jerkwads.  But what do they know? They don't send their own kids to CPS.  I'm pretty sure their kids go to The Durmstrang Institute and think that CPS schools are for suckers and taxpayers and, you know, poor people (ewwwwwww).

But our experience with CPS has been great. There was only the one time she had a teacher that might not have been great.  But we could be wrong because it came at a time when Laney was switching schools anyway, thus ending a seven year experiment with a commute so arduous the inside of my car began had begun to feel like Rura Penthe.

This means we came to Middle School blithe in our confidence that Laney would always enjoy a superlative educational experience.

Laney came home recently with a 63 page packet, consisting of alternating pages between dry text lessons about the Constitution and questions about what they'd just read about The Constitution.  I cannot fathom a more boring way to learn about The Constitution. And we really need our kids to learn about our primary governing document, since a solid half of us seem to believe that this what it says:

It took Laney longer to complete it than it took George RR Martin to finish The Winds of Winter (he sent me an advance copy: Arya's dead now) and she did not end up filled with a passion for Constitutional study.  Rather, her relationship with the United States Constitution can be best summed up thusly:

Get it?  I'm saying she'd like to shoot the Constitution on account of how boring it is.  I was trying to squeeze a Star Wars reference in here too. I know.  It's a strained metaphor.  But you get to see Dreamy Han Solo.  That makes everyone happy right?

It's only fair to acknowledge that I'm only really getting one side of this.  I also know that teaching is goddamn hard job for which people are woefully under-compensated whilst forced to deal with pain-in-the-ass parents and these guys who are doing their damnedest to make sure their compensation is even worse:

And it's also a valuable lesson for kids to learn that sometimes things are hard and sometimes you'll have to work with people with whom your style doesn't jibe.  

Still, I wish her reaction to learning about The Constitution was like this:

That said, her dad is a huge history nerd.  I'll put him on it.    

This is a good plan.  I'm done with complaining now.  Bye!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Seriously, Where Are You People Shopping?

This Atrios post I read earlier this week has been buzzing around my head for a while:

...somewhere there was a discussion of people carrying guns and some self-proclaimed liberal made the argument that the fact that he carries a gun makes it less likely for violent situations to escalate because the fact that he has a gun and knows he has a gun means that the price of escalation is too high.  The example he gave was that if someone bumped his supermarket cart he would de-escalate the situation because if he didn't then the fact that he has a gun could lead to things getting out of hand.

Like Atrios, I was a bit taken aback that a supermaket-cart-bump is a situation with potential to escalate.  In my experience, a supermarket-cart bump either results in an accepted apology or, barring that, someone walking away like this: 

Further, there was this comment on a friend's Facebook from someone saying that they didn't shop in places where guns aren't allowed because those are places where they don't feel safe.  Let me make this clear - if the store has this sign:

The potential shopper was like this:

Er... where the hell are these people shopping?  Are they buying groceries in Tombstone, 1848?  Are they picking up tampons and toilet paper from the pharmacy at Pablo Escobar's? Is the only place they can get the really good tomatoes a shop in Mogadishu that's only open between midnight and 4:00 am?

Lookit: I live in a neighborhood with a lot of guns and a lot of shootings.  In the past year alone, there were 28 shootings within a 1-mile radius of my home.  And I still feel perfectly comfortable going, unarmed, to the grocery store.  Do you know why I feel that way? I'll tell ya! Because I am extremely unlikely to be driven into a murderous rage because someone bumps my supermarket cart, as is the case for literally every single other person who is shopping that day

How do these people stand living in a world where kill-or-be-killed informs every mundane detail of their lives?  How can they stand to be alive, feeling constantly on-call to take a life, even when they're just running fucking errands?  It sounds awful.

One caveat: I know it's not impossible that you're gonna get murdered at the Wal-Mart. But the circumstance for when that's happened recently is not, I think, what these frightened folk are thinking of.  

Let's take a look at John Crawford's face and try very hard, amidst all the Star Wars gifs and sarcasm to see the tragic, human cost for all this paranoia.

Monday, January 4, 2016

On the Self LOL

I've blogged about this before, and will likely blog about this again, but for the love of the FSM can we all agree to stop the rampant abuse of the LOL?  Of all the myriad and egregious internetty sins, this is the worst.  It is worse than sharing poorly sourced and obviously untrue nonsense simply to shore up your own already well known opinion.  It is worse than leaving vague and self-pitying status updates.  It is not really the worst.  It is not worse than spouting racist/sexist nonsense. It is is still TEH WORST!  Let's all agree to stop it.

I'm going to help by outlining the situations in which "LOL" is appropriate. There are two, listed below in order of effectiveness:

Derisive disapprobation.  There's a new profile of Megyn Kelley in Vanity Fair, in which they refer to her as "a conservative champion who transcends politics with her skillful skewering of windbags of both parties."  LOL.

Someone ELSE Says Something Funny.  People say funny stuff on the Internet.  When you find something amusing that someone else has said and would like to let them know that you found it amusing, but are maybe running late for a meeting or have to pee or something, just throw an "LOL" at them in the comments.

Don't say "LOL" to confirm that what you just said is funny.  That's lame.  You know that guy who laughs super loud at his own dumb dick jokes?  Don't be that guy.  That guy sucks.

And don't say something shitty and then follow it up with an "LOL". That kind of self-LOL doesn't mitigate the shittiness of the sentence it follows.  Rather it makes it a helluva lot shittier.  It means you've gotten to say something shitty but now feel inoculated from objection to your shittiness.

In the interest of transparency, I went and got my feelings super hurt by such a Facebook comment yesterday (comment has since been deleted by moi).  And while I recognize that I'm being sensitive, a little childish and a lot passive-aggressive in working this out in my blog, I don't care. It's my damn blog.  And I shall continue to preach to my massive readership (all three of you) that there is almost never a good reason to stick an LOL after something you've just yourself said.

So, let's remember this going forward: don't LOL yourself.  LOL-ing yourself will cause hair to grow on your palms.  When you LOL yourself, you make Jesus cry.  Your dead grandparents are watching you LOL.  I use this metaphor on purpose.  I'm saying that it's a form of social media masturbation.