Tag Archives: parenting

Thou Shalt Not Lie

This is a commandment that I actually agree with. I’ve heard atheists argue that this can be a problem because occasionally telling a lie is the right thing to do, such as if you were hiding a Jewish person in your attic in Nazi Germany. This is one of the few cases where I tend to agree with the Christians instead of the atheists. I would make a few exceptions for if you’re lying to a government entity or a selfish corporation, but I believe that it’s never okay to lie or deliberately deceive an individual a person.

However, I find it truly ironic that atheists tend to be the ones who keep saying there should be exceptions to this commandment, then they turn around and follow it nearly perfectly. On the other hand, Christians tend toward the opposite: they believe wholeheartedly in the absoluteness of this commandment, then make up all sorts of excuses to avoid following it.

And sometimes it blows my mind just how common and acceptable lying really is in our society, and it makes me angry, to the point where I wish people would shout about this commandment more often.

Too often we don’t even stop to think about a blatant lie or even consider that it might be morally wrong. For example, in my state, bartenders are legally required to flat-out lie to people’s faces when they ask what time it is, telling them that it’s fifteen minutes later than it really is. Instead of recognizing this as a direct violation of one of the Bible’s commandments, we simply call it “bar time”.

Then we lie to our children, and for the lamest reasons too, such as convenience, or because we think it’s cute. We tell them about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny as though they’re real, without bothering to care about how that distorts their ability to perceive reality or how it teaches them that lying is acceptable if it makes someone feel good temporarily. Then many adults (admittedly not all) occasionally lie to children simply to mock them and laugh at their gullibility. I remember my first-grade teacher did this on a regular basis.

Recently a friend had a problem with her son’s behavior. The kid had clearly been wrong for what he did, but she was so desperate to find an immediate and absolute solution that she told him that whenever he was bad she would always find out, no matter what, that adults always know when you do things like this and you’ll always get caught. As I heard this, I was watching the kid’s face and could see his complete lack of respect for her bold-faced lie. Kid’s aren’t idiots and they know that they can get away with stuff, because they’ve gotten away with stuff in the past. Saying things like that simply encourages kids to distrust everything their parents say and teaches them how to lie themselves.

Lies, lies, lies. For some reason people only seem to see lying as wrong in our society if it’s happening to them.

These Four Walls

In 2011, I started writing a story about a woman living in a house who is being visited by demons every night and getting raped by them. This was inspired by a friend who was (and probably still is) having to live through this. After I wrote the first couple sections here, I wound up getting a roommate and my social life kind of exploded and I just haven’t had the time to come back. Now I’ve forgotten a lot of the mood that I wanted to portray with this. I still remember the actual events I was going to write out to conclude it but I can’t quite remember how I wanted it all to feel, so I decided not to return to this story.

However, yesterday I was looking through old drafts and found this and was surprised that I really like what I’ve done with it so far, so I figured I’d post what I have and finish it off with the outline I had in mind.

This story is kind of told from the perspective of the woman’s house. You still see inside the characters heads and you still have only one POV character at a time, but all the events of the story occur in the home and I think my plan was that in the end she would have some kind of communication with the house and it would help heal her of the delusions she was so convinced were real demons.

So here it is:

2011.

After midnight the demons would make contact and promise they were about to rape her. Most nights she would fight, her soul crying out in fury, but blocked deep in sleep. She would rise and walk to the living room to stand motionless for unknown periods of time, staring at Simon’s urn above the fireplace, blocking every other part of her mind. She would pray to wake, plead for morning, but remain, seemingly for hours, in a daze, aware she was dreaming and sleepwalking, but unable to do anything about it. She would awaken exhausted, sometimes on the couch in the living room, sometimes in the den, the porch swing, and occasionally, David’s old room.

Other nights it would prove too much and Susan would give up, prepare for the pain and humiliation, then wait for it. The spirits would invade her from the back of her mind, manipulating, distracting and tricking her with her own emotions. She would lie, half asleep, quietly sobbing, pleading with them to stop, but the more pain she felt the more they would laugh, the more they would tease, until finally, she had no choice but to bring them in, to ask them to get it over with, to sink into that helpless reality and accept that God had handed her soul to the demons for their pleasure.

They would refuse, telling her she had to beg for it. She had to want it. She had to need it. She had to fall into that pit of demonic desires and forgo everything good and pure, and allow her mind to become that of a slave. The spirits promised that someday the torture would prove too much for her, and she would fall, broken and sobbing to her knees, pleading for the revolting act that would provide that final release of acceptance at becoming a simple, degraded servant to the darkness that dwells at the bottom.

She would awaken terrified, exhausted, telling herself it wasn’t real, but forever thankful that she never took that final step. She would stagger to the kitchen, hit play on her husband’s video cassette, then sit at the computer in a daze to accept her gifts and tend her crops, pushing everything from her mind to think of nothing but gaining gold and experience on her farm.

Later in the day she would think about her nightmares. She would hear David screaming at her, attacking everything she cared about, telling her she was delusional, that all these experiences come ultimately from the church, from God, and the destructive conflicts that religion brings to the minds of believers. He told her the very thing she loved the most was a lie that had caused all the pain she was now experiencing. It was all just mental processes gone wrong, damaged and distorted from years of obsessive spirituality and prayer.

Perhaps there was no point to all this, there were no demons to blame, no angels to look toward. Perhaps all this was just her own thoughts. …and the rape… just her own blocked desires, buried through years of repression and an acceptable but unsatisfying marriage, from years of playing it safe, trying to be good, avoiding carnal pleasures, and for choosing sacrifice and devotion to God instead of embracing life. The torture could all be her own doing, all based on simple science and psychological processes.

But that demon was too horrible to be true.

——————————-

His father’s tortured screams echoed through his childhood home as David sat, rapping his fingers on the kitchen table. “Are you gonna play FarmVille all day, Mom?”

“I’ve just got to collect my gifts and harvest and visit some friends,” she replied absently, her eyes glued to the screen as though she needed to become one with the monitor.

“That’s gonna take you two hours. I thought we were gonna go out to eat.”

“I can make you grilled cheese and soup.”

He sighed. “No, I can make it myself. Don’t want you to lose out on any farming time.” He stood, but stopped to stare for a long moment at his father on the television in his hospital bed, his face contorted as he whimpered, burying his face in the pillow.

“Do you need anything?” Susan asked.

“Can I turn this off?”

“Why?”

David watched for another long moment. “I don’t like watching Dad dying. No wonder you see demons.”

“If I had a better video, I’d play that, but it never occurred to me that I’d lose him until he was lying there in the hospital. This is all I have of him.”

“Pictures,” David said.

“It’s 2011. I need more than pictures. I need to hear his voice.”

“But he’s in so much pain…”

“Yeah, but his voice still comforts me.” She glanced over her shoulder toward him. “Why do you need to criticize everything I do?”

“It’s just so… morbid. And I worry what this stuff might be doing to you.”

“Fine,” she replied. “You want to turn it off, then turn it off.”

“No,” he replied, stepping toward the refrigerator. “If you like it that much, I can deal… but…” he chuckled nervously. “Why can’t you watch Jeopardy like normal moms your age?”

“I’m not smart enough for Jeopardy.”

“Oh, don’t say that…”

“You know it’s true,” she replied. “I can be honest about it. You of all people should understand I don’t have the brain for that kind of thing. My mind is broken, like you always say.”

“I don’t say that. What I say is that we’re all imperfect products of evolution–”

“Here we go…”

“Our brains developed over millions of years of randomness, confusion, and animals bumping into each other. We’re never going to be perfect–we’re never even going to be rational–but we can find ways to deal with our minds the way they are if we have the courage to admit to ourselves how our lives really work.”

“It’s all about brains and chemistry to you.”

“We need to recognize that much before we can understand who we are and where we’re going as human beings.” He stared into the refrigerator. Nothing looked good. He wasn’t here to eat anyway.

He stood in silence for a long moment, listening to his father’s heavy, pained breathing, the background static of the video and the hum of the refrigerator.

“I like watching the video,” Susan said absently, followed by a long pause. “Maybe I can find a clue.”

“To why he was walking in the road?” David asked.

Another long pause. “Yeah.”

David slowly shut the refrigerator. “This isn’t Scooby Doo, Mom. Sometimes accidents happen. He just wasn’t thinking, wasn’t paying attention. It’s been three years. It doesn’t matter at this point.”

“I want to know.”

“I know you do.” He sat back at the table with a sigh and a scrape of the aluminum chair against the floor.

“I know you’re trying to find some way to blame it on our beliefs.”

David sighed as he stared at his mom’s back. She didn’t hate him. He knew that. She did, however, believe he might be sent from hell. Perhaps this was why she refused to look away from Farmville while in his presence. “I’m not trying to do that at all. Everyone makes mistakes, regardless of what they believe.”

“I feel like you’re always trying to pick away, to find something you can criticize about the church, like how you’re constantly blaming my nightmares on the church.”

“Yeah,” he replied. “And I stand by that one. That’s why I don’t get nightmares, because I don’t believe in the supernatural.”

“Hmm…”

“What do you think about going to see someone, like a professional?”

“I’ve talked to a lot of people about this.”

“At the church?”

“Yeah,” she replied.

“Well, I think it would be good for you to get an opinion from someone outside of the church.”

“Hmmm…” she replied.

“Did anyone ever come forward about the money?”

“The money?” she asked.

“The six hundred dollars they left on the porch?”

“No. I’m sure it was just someone from church trying to help out.”

“Yeah, probably.”

 

So I think so far you can see the woman has a son who is an atheist, and this is a point of contention between them. She’s addicted to FarmVille and a handful of other online games. (Retired women are now technically the largest demographic for video gaming, playing mostly facebook style casual games). She also has a video

In the next section I’m going to go back to about 2009 or so, and show the father befriending a few teenagers who are clearly trying to take advantage of him. He gives them money for something, twenty bucks here and there, telling him its for the church or something. We see that on some level he knows he’s being used, but he wants to believe so badly that these are good Christian kids and keeps giving them money, unbeknownst to his wife, who does not like them. Their lies become more and more outlandish, and each time, one part of his mind believes them and another part can clearly see they’re lies. At the same time, however, he has some very deep conversations with the kids about the meaning of life, God, the meaning of being good. I think there may have been a scene where the woman finds out he’s been giving them money and they have a fight about it, and the man talks about how important it is to give people the benefit of the doubt and have faith in the good within all humans, even if it’s hard to see sometimes.

But then one of the kids takes the religious manipulation a bit too far and tells the man that to prove your faith to God you should close your eyes and step blindly out into traffic. God will protect you, and you will prove yourself worthy… I don’t know, I had a plan on how to make all that sound plausible but can’t quite remember how I was gonna do it. The man doesn’t believe them and realizes they’re just messing with him, especially because the other kids are suddenly saying the guy is crazy… but over the next couple days, the man can’t get the words out of his head and in a moment of passionate prayer, the man decides to go for it, closing his eyes and stepping out into traffic in front of their house. Since the story is told from the house, all we hear is the screeching of the tires and a woman screaming for someone to call 911.

When the woman hears her husband is in the hospital and probably won’t make it, she realizes she has nothing to remember him by, pulls the old VHS camcorder out of the closet, not stopping to think her cell phone could probably get a better picture, and sets it up to record him, but he’s in so much pain that she never gets to hear his real voice. Of course, we don’t actually see the hospital room, and only the things that happen in the home. She watches the video over and over, thinking that it’s close enough to the real him, and in a weird way the video comforts her, at least on the surface, but in reality she’s watching him die over and over, which doesn’t help with the nightmares.

I think in the end she gives up and lets the demons overtake her instead of fighting them, and at the same time, allows herself to embrace her son’s perspective, which she views as a demon as well, but finds that the demons don’t feel nearly as demonic as she thought. I think her son’s perspective inspires her to think the house is the problem, like it’s haunted and she just needs to get out, which isn’t really the case, but at least she’s thinking in some kind of real-world cause and effect way, so she sort of merges her religion with her son’s perspective and it leaves it implying that she’s on the way to exorcising these demons. There was supposed to be something about the house itself subtly helping her along with this idea, but I can’t remember how I was going to do that.

There was also supposed to be a scene in the son’s childhood but I completely forgot what that was about. Also, shortly after the dad’s death, the kid who told him to do it, comes back and leaves the money on the porch.

I dunno… it woulda been cool if I’d finished it but the outline doesn’t do justice to the vision I had 🙂

A Spanking Made Me Kinky

I think one of the reasons anarchists have such a hard time communicating is the fact that the things that led us to become anarchists are so personal and outside of the norm that we can’t talk about them. The main events that led me to become an anarchist are, for the most part, things that are not easy to talk about. Maybe we don’t want to get someone in trouble, don’t want to admit to wrongdoing ourselves, don’t want to admit that we can identify with the criminals, maybe because we were too traumatized by the event, or in the case of this story, just because it’s embarrassing. It just seems like the really powerful experiences that cause us to become anarchists are things that aren’t socially acceptable to talk about in everyday conversations.

So this is a clip from an autobiography that I tried to write years ago and gave up on because it just wasn’t turning out very well and I happened to come across a few weeks ago and decided to salvage. Not my greatest writing, but hopefully for some people it can open a new perspective on a classic issue.

——————-

I went to a  babysitter a few times as a child who I’ll call Melissa. I didn’t really like her too much as she just seemed angry, and I wondered why she’d decided to be a mom and a babysitter if she was constantly mad at kids for being kids. But she wasn’t abusive by any means.

    She took us to McDonalds once and I didn’t understand what I was ordering. I was used to getting chicken nuggets and wound up getting a hamburger, which is normally something kids like, but I’ve never liked hamburger for some reason and I couldn’t finish my happy meal.

    Melissa didn’t like that and tried to force me to finish my meal, and finally said that I couldn’t have my happy meal toy, a little plastic boat, which for some reason, I wanted desperately. I tried to argue, but as a little kid you just don’t have a grasp over the language, even if you understand the concepts logically that you want to communicate, and it’s harder to deal with emotions at that age, because your feelings are so foreign and powerful, so you wind up whining or crying and being difficult. To me this is perfectly normal and not a big deal. It’s just a sign that kids need to get a better grasp of the language and have more experiences to put their emotions into perspective.

    But she didn’t feel that way, so she hit me. Not hard, of course. It was just a slap to the hand, and the pain was gone within seconds, but somehow it instantaneously and permanently changed my personality.

    As I saw it, the only time you hit a person is if they have absolutely no value as a human being. The only reason you would need to go that far is if a person is so insane, so stupid, so illogical, and so completely worthless, that you simply cannot communicate with them through any kind of words, pictures or stories.

    I told Melissa that I was going to tell my parents and she insisted that they would support her decision and that I had deserved it.

    The event kept coming back to mind, and I kept wondering if I was really as worthless as Melissa had been telling me. One day my mom told me that I’d be going back to Melissa’s house and she noticed that I was very upset, and finally coaxed me into talking about what happened.

    To my relief, my mom was just as upset by the incident as I was, and immediately changed her mind about sending me there. I thankfully never saw Melissa again, and my mom explained that Melissa had been the wrong one. She was the one who was too stupid to understand how to communicate, not me.

    And my mom saying that, I believe, saved me from a very dark and depressed path that I could have taken.

 

    But here’s where it gets interesting.

    I did not stop thinking about the spanking. In fact, quite the opposite, over the weeks and months, I thought about it more and more, and in my mind, turned it into a whole ritualistic event where she had pulled my pants down, taken me over the knee and spanked me repeatedly in front of everyone in McDonald’s, instead of the quick and discreet little slap on the wrist that had stopped hurting almost before I’d had a chance to cry about it.

    And slowly, the more I thought about it, it turned from a horrifying and degrading event, into a wondrous and magical empowerment that gave me powerful and baffling emotions, but left me yearning for more. Within a few months, I was fantasizing about spankings every night, and it slowly became an obsession.

    I started scheming about how I could find another babysitter that believed in spanking… but I didn’t want the sissy little hand slap. I wanted the full on, over the knee, humiliation in front of the other kids, the kind of punishment that makes you cry and beg, the kind you still feel the next day, the kind that leaves little red spots to remind you for days afterward.

I spent many hours trying to think of ways that I could first find a babysitter like this, and second, trick my parents into sending me to her without having them find out about it. Then I would be able to just go crazy and misbehave however I wanted and would be rewarded with the most wondrous thing I could imagine, real discipline.

    But of course, I never succeeded at that.

    And I was never again spanked, and I did not figure out until I was almost twelve years old that my spanking fetish was sexual in nature. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I had been spanked at some point after that. I usually consider my experience with Melissa to be my first sexual experience, but it was not sexual at the time, it only became so afterward. If I had been spanked again, after developing my fetish, I don’t think I can predict how I would have developed.

    Either way, I had a full-on spanking fetish by the time I was in kindergarten.

 

    My spanking fetish melded into more complex fetishes over the years, and I began to fantasize about all sorts of domination, specifically anything police related, and anything child-discipline related. I fantasized about being thrown in prison, being handcuffed, being ordered to stand in the corner or even being forced to write sentences. Sometimes when I was by myself, I’d pretend I was being punished, and I’d see how long I could stand with my nose to the wall like the teachers would do to kids at school.

    I started feeling like I was insane. All the adults everywhere spoke of prisons, spankings and other discipline as being deterrents, and implied that everyone, everywhere, sees these things as being unpleasant. I felt like an outsider to the human race, like my whole mind just ran backwards, so I hid my feelings.

    But eventually I couldn’t take the secret any more, and one day when I was ten or so, I decided to just take the leap and tell one of my friends, a kid I’ll call Jim, about all my feelings. I expected him to be shocked, to tell me I was insane, that there was something wrong with me, but I needed to tell someone, and if he ran home and told his parents and had me thrown in a mental institute, I figured I could deal with that, because it would probably be for the best.

    But Jim was not appalled by my revelation. Instead, his eyes lit up and his mouth dropped open, and he cried, “Dude, I’m the exact same way! I love spankings… My mom has this stick that she hits me with… and I know exactly what to do to get it… I like it when she hits me five times… ten’s a bit too many, but five from the stick is just right, and I’ve figured out just what to say to make her just mad enough so she hits me just as hard as I like it… it’s the most awesome thing ever… I can’t think of anything I like more than that stick hitting my bare butt.”

    And he continued on, and I started to get creeped out, as my fantasies had never involved any family members, but as he went on, talking about his own wild bondage fetishes that went beyond anything I had envisioned, I realized that I was not so crazy and abnormal after all.

 

    But part of me thought that Jim and I had been some kind of cosmic coincidence, that we were two freaks of nature who just happened to be placed on our road, and I continued feeling like an outcast and freak because of my feelings, until I was twelve years old and found some porn magazines in my grandparents attic. Most of the magazines were standard 1970’s Playboy and Penthouse, but there was one magazine called Nugget that focused on abnormal fetishes. When I found this magazine I sat down and read it nearly cover to cover.

    I haven’t looked through other issues of Nugget but this one had some rather professional sex and fetish related articles. For example, there was an article by an historian about a cult in the early 1900’s, led by a woman who believed the penis was a demon and created a wide array of creative and unintentionally erotic bondage devices for her male followers to wear to prevent them from getting erections.

    There was also an article by a psychologist, discussing the basis for sexual fetishes. He explained that most sexual fetishes are based on emotional trauma. Rape victims typically have rape fetishes, people who fear imprisonment have bondage fetishes, and of course, people who were emotionally traumatized by spankings, have spanking fetishes. He also explained that these feelings were quite common and that the vast majority of people who have them are completely unaware that they are surrounded by numerous other people with similar experiences and feelings.

    I now consider that issue of Nugget to be one of the most empowering things to happen to me in my youth. Finally I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t a freak. I could still lead a normal life. And most importantly, I knew that there were actually women out there that shared my fantasies, that I’d actually be able to have healthy relationships without hiding and shutting out my feelings.

    And it has always bothered me that the law says that I never should have had that experience. So many parents and law enforcers believe that that magazine should have been taken away from me, that sense of empowerment, of finally belonging, of finally understanding who I am, should all be taken away from me, to be replaced with the fear and loneliness of confusing and seemingly demonic sexual thoughts.

 

    Ever since then I have embraced my fetishes and sought to fulfill them in healthy and reasonable settings, and I’ve discovered numerous others who had very similar experiences as my own. Some stories I’ve heard are nearly identical, and I know now that having a full-fledged spanking, bondage, or discipline fetish by the time you’re in kindergarten is not uncommon. It’s only uncommon to talk about it.

    But having said all that, I should say that if you asked me if I would choose to take that spanking event back, to have it un-done so that it never affected my sexuality and never gave me these wild fetishes, I’d probably say no. Spankings are a wonderful and beautiful thing and I wouldn’t want to give that up.

    But I often wonder about all these parents spanking their children, still totally convinced in their simplistic, black-and-white attitudes about punishments, convinced that it’s discipline while blinding themselves to the sexuality of it and ignoring the long-term psychological consequences.

Opposing the Department of Education Doesn’t Mean Opposing Education

Ron Paul seems to get attacked on his stance on education. At first glance it seems that getting rid of the department of education would be insane. Your first reaction is to think “oh, he doesn’t think people should be able to get an education,” but this judgement isn’t fair. Somehow it seems like we’ve gotten to a point where in order to support something people are required to support it on a massive scale and in an absolute fashion. For some of us we just don’t see our federal government handling our education better than the average state. For the most part we’re not opposed to public education and certainly not opposed to teacher’s unions. We don’t want to hack away and destroy education in America, as many Ron Paul haters seem to think. We simply want the states to handle it, as the Constitution suggests, and wish to give more power of choice back to the students, parents and teachers, with a carefully planned transitional period to ensure the new systems will run smoothly. While people may have legitimate disagreements with Ron Paul’s stance on education, the fearful, gut-reaction responses are not warranted.

I found it difficult to find a clear history of our education system and test results, but I have heard it argued that since the department of education was established, test scores have gone down and waste has gone up. The sites I found basically gave me this understanding: public education began on the small scale in America before the USA was even a country and grew steadily until most communities had some kind of public education system. In 1867 the original Department of Education was created, but it was mostly information based. It studied the school systems, and provided a knowledge-base for educators to reference and probably some other school support structures, but from what I gather, did not particularly regulate the system or make demands. The school systems continued consolidating until shortly after World War II, when there was a “significant expansion of Federal support for education” which seems to have continued through 1979 when the Department of Education was “recreated” and became basically what we know today.

Now get this: according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “Between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, the suicide rate among U.S. males aged 15-24 more than tripled.” It doubled for females.

Am I the only person who sees a connection between the rigid policies of our public education system and the teen suicide rate? It seems to me that you cannot have a discussion about education without factoring in teen suicide rates, because suicide is the best gauge we have to see how the system is working on an emotional level. This isn’t just because of the way kids are treated like cattle, or degraded by other students, teachers, or the system itself, or because they are never given a choice or a voice in their own future, but also because of the way they know the system is not preparing them for the real world, and because some of them have become wise to the fact that they are only being given the information the federal government wants them to have. For every teenager who commits suicide there are countless more who are miserable, fed up and pissed off at the system. We owe them something better.

If you have watched any of the It Gets Better campaign directed at the LGBT youth, it feels like a beacon in a sea of hopelessness. …”It get’s better” …but to me it feels more like something you say to a kid when you want them to stop complaining, when you know nobody is going to help them… But it’s not a false statement. It does get better… when they graduate high school and are finally allowed to make their own choices and go places where they are accepted. Why is the federal government doing little to nothing to make things better in our public schools in the meantime? The bureaucracy is a major part of why our kids are having such troubles and why so many are being left behind. The massive, one-size-fits-all rules makes kids feel like their specific situation is not represented or cared about and that the only way to make anything better is to succeed at a national campaign. The massive bureaucracy is so daunting that it makes parents, teachers, community activists, and most importantly the young people, feel as though they are helpless to change anything in their own education.

Now, giving all the power back to the states is not a perfect system. A couple would probably start teaching creationism. I don’t like creationism any more than anyone else, but it’s a small price to pay for allowing parents and students control over their own education and taking control back from a system that appears to be failing. Giving education back to the states would allow us the flexibility to try different ideas. The science of education is constantly evolving and the federal government is not keeping up. We could be trying all kinds of different ideas. Granted, some ideas would not be that great, but overall, it really seems that fewer kids would get left behind than in our current system, and we would have the opportunity to discover far superior, less painful and degrading ways of educating our youth.

You can disagree if you like. That’s fair if you want to argue that we already know all the best ways of conducting education and that the federal government is implementing them significantly better than the average state or local community could. It’s fair if you have arguments against Ron Paul’s desire to phase out the Department of Education or against the idea of allowing the states or the people more control, or if you say the tenth amendment was not well thought out and should be ignored. What’s not fair is to accuse us of being opposed to education or that we don’t want free and equal access to education, because that is very far from the truth.

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references:

http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/role.html A history of the Department of Education

http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_id=050fea9f-b064-4092-b1135c3a70de1fda American Foundation for Suicide Prevention stats page. (You may note that since the mid 1990’s, suicide rates have been on the decline, but I believe this is more because of public awareness and new medications than it is because of changes in how we treat our young people.)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/dec/07/world-education-rankings-maths-science-reading Countries ranked by quality of education. USA actually isn’t doing too terribly, although I have read that we spend more per student than any other nation, so we’re not getting the greatest return on our investment.

Awesome Graduation Speech

I’m a little late putting this up because I wanted to make some more comments, but decided just to put it up anyway. Someone posted this on FaceBook and I thought I should post a link to this High School graduation speech that I thought wonderfully expressed many of my frustrations with the educational system in the United States. I wish we’d had a speech like this at my graduation.

A couple of my favorite quotes from the speech:

doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

Here’s the full speech: http://blog.swiftkickonline.com/2010/07/valedictorian-speaks-out-against-schooling-in-graduation-speech.html

Meat.org | The Website the Meat Industry Does not Want You to See

Meat.org | The Website the Meat Industry Does not Want You to See.

This site has a seriously crazy video on the homepage that I just had to share. The most shocking thing I’ve seen since the scene in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution where none of the kids could recognize a vegetable. To me this video is an example of how capitalism drives industries of all kinds toward cruelty. If it weren’t for the profit margins driving these industries and the laws protecting them from all the furious and horrified people out there, these kinds of scenes wouldn’t occur.

I was thinking, isn’t it funny how many parents shield their children from the concept of death, sometimes even lying to them about the death of their pets. In my favorite show, Kid Nation, there was an episode where the kids killed a few chickens for dinner and I read later about the fact that some people found this controversial, like kids shouldn’t have the right to have a real understanding of what they’re eating and learn proper respect for the animal. At the same time we’ll feed them meat from these factories without telling them about the cruelty they are supporting. Sure it’s not traumatizing, and the parents don’t need to go through the effort of talking to their kids about it, but I wonder what it does in the long run to a kid’s ability to feel compassion in general when they grew up ignorant of and unable to do anything about the cruelty they themselves are committing.

New True Story: Twinkies and Ho Hos

I just posted a new, very short true story under my ‘silly and pointless’ category, called Twinkies and Ho Hos. I personally think it’s a pretty funny little story about some of my little quirks. I suppose it’s not entirely pointless because it draws attention to the health crisis in modern society.

I’ve been on a real obesity kick lately. In fact, I’m riding my exercise bike as I type this. I’m not sure how I got on this kick exactly. Perhaps it’s because of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Hulu or the fact that I got plantar fasciitis recently in my foot and when reading up on it, found that fat people get it a lot more because of all the weight we’re putting on our feet. As an overweight man who walks long distances on a regular basis, my feet can take a beating. Or perhaps its because I want to be more attractive to the ladies. One way or the other, I’m determined to get into shape. Hopefully writing about it will help because everyone will know if I fail.

So on a related topic, I am dumbfounded that our government can justify outlawing marijuana and other drugs, spreading hatred and destroying lives over things that have never killed anyone, but won’t do a thing about the obesity epidemic and continues to allow McDonald’s and Taco Bell to market themselves as though they are actually selling food as opposed to garbage. I know someone, for example, who thinks I’m insane for not supporting law enforcement and has repeatedly made an example out of nudity and says that if we didn’t have laws, half the people would be running around naked, as though that would be some kind of miserable society and something we don’t have the capacity to get used to. But she is obese, and doesn’t seem to consider how she (and admittedly myself as well) appears to others, especially  children (and hungry people in other parts of the world). Kids see us and think that if it’s okay for us to neglect and disrespect our bodies, it’s fine for them too. It’s not okay to get piss drunk in front of children, so why should it be okay to be unhealthy in other ways in front of them?

We often make rules in schools that kids must wear uniforms because we don’t approve of their choice of clothing, but for some reason there’s no rules against teachers being morbidly obese.

Many people are disgusted by obesity in the same way my acquaintance is disgusted by nudity (perhaps the obesity issue is part of the reason so many people are opposed to nudity). But people who want their partners to be thin and healthy are portrayed as being “shallow”, and “only concerned with appearance”, and this idea is becoming more prominent, and overweight people seem to be increasingly convinced that they should be treated the same as everyone else, and in some cases get special treatment, and that they deserve to be seen as just as attractive as healthy people. We’ve reached a point where overweight people outnumber the healthy ones and are having a real affect on politics. This is only going to make things worse.

I think what might be what got to me was the high-school student on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution whose doctor told her that she only had seven years to live because of her unhealthy eating habits. This wasn’t someone he seeked out to make an example out of. This was someone who just showed up and wanted to help Jamie in exchange for getting some help herself. And I have met people who were bigger than her.

I know this is an angry, possibly offensive rant, but I’m as angry with myself as anyone else. I’ve been overweight most of my life and even during the times when I was skinny, it was  because I wasn’t eating much rather than because I’d actually gained a healthy lifestyle, so this entry is sort of myself demanding that I make a real, long-term change in my life.

Okay, I’ve been on the exercise bike for two straight hours now (the first hour I spent playing Mario Kart Wii) and I’ve soaked through two bath towels, so I think I can afford to give myself a break and start working from my big computer.

Sign the Food Revolution Petition

Join Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and sign the petition.
"Seven billion American dollars are spent every month in Afghanistan, but we can only get 4.5 billion out of the government for a 10-year-plan to keep the obesity epidemic from killing children." - Jamie Oliver

I just discovered this new show on Hulu, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution about some famous chef I’d never heard of who went to the fattest city in America to try and transform their school lunch program and promote healthier eating habits in America. I’ve only seen a couple episodes but it can be quite shocking at times to see how some people eat and what the schools are feeding to our kids, so I wanted to pass on the link to sign his petition to start making a transition in our public schools.

Junk food and healthy eating is something I struggle a lot with. It’s certainly a weakness of mine, but at the same time, our whole capitalism based society is blatantly promoting poor eating habits because it’s the quickest and easiest way to make a buck.

Check out his PDF of some shocking facts and figures on obesity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baconaise - "everything should taste like bacon. You can choose to agree or disagree."


My Two Newest True Stories: The Borrowed Car and Grumpy old Man

I haven’t been posting much the last few days as I’ve been working on the beginning to another novel that I may or may not continue called I Kill for Money – A Love Story About Cyborg Assassins, but I have posted a couple new true stories about myself.

A few days ago I put up The Borrowed Car about a time back in my drug dealing days when a complete stranger loaned me her car so I could go buy a bunch of weed from another complete stranger. There’s nothing really deep or meaningful here, just one of those funny little stories that drug dealers can get involved in.

Today I posted a very short true story I call The Grumpy Old Man, about a time when I was a kid and an old man got very angry at a friend and I, but was lacking in communication. This is one of the experiences that led me to believe that anger and punishments (even though we weren’t actually punished for anything) are highly over-used and counter-productive, especially with kids. Far too often kids and even adults are punished for things when they have no idea what they did wrong. Even the psychology textbooks agree that this is counter-productive to proper development.

And in a completely unrelated subject, another reason I haven’t been posting this week is I feel like I should say something about health care, but I promised myself when I started this blog that I wouldn’t get nasty and start calling people “monsters” or “selfish” like I too often did in my old blog. It’s difficult with health care because it’s literally a matter of life and death for some people, and a source of some stress in my life, and that’s something I can’t help but take personally. Let’s just say I believe that if we must have a government, then that government’s primary concern should be the health and well-being of its people.

Bart Simpson, Addicted to Punishments

I watched a recent episode of The Simpsons (Postcards from the Wedge, Season 21 episode 14 – spoilers follow) where Marge and Homer decide to let Bart do whatever he wants because otherwise he’s going to drive them crazy with stress. Bart then gets frustrated with his new freedom and talks about it with the bully, Nelson, who tells him that he’s got to up the ante, to do something really awful to get their attention. Bart takes this advice, then writes a note, pretending to be Lisa, telling on himself so that he would get in trouble.

The specific things Bart did to get in trouble were definitely outlandish, but the core idea behind the episode I believe is quite real and relevant. Kids can very easily become addicted to punishments and discipline. They don’t necessarily enjoy it (though many do), but they can come to a point where they feel more at home while being punished than they do anywhere else. They can become addicted to the lifestyle, which is something I think many parents overlook because they believe that only pleasurable things can become addictive. In these situations, parents and teachers often simply try to increase the dosage of punishments, which can halt the young person’s behavior temporarily, but ultimately drives them further into the lifestyle of punishment addiction.

We can see this in adults as well with the phenomenon of “stupid” criminals, the guys who go out and commit crimes without a plan and without seeming to care whether or not they get busted. It could be that many of these criminals became addicted to punishments when they were children. They’re not actually “stupid” for letting themselves get caught, they are merely addicted to the lifestyle of being repeatedly caught and punished.

Perhaps this has to do with an avoidance of guilt, or the satisfying of guilt. Without that punishment, they must feel guilty for the things they’ve done, and they get on a psychological pattern early in life that allows them to believe that everything’s even again as long as they’ve endured their allotted punishment. This is why I feel that over-use of discipline and punishments is one of the most dangerous things you can do to your children.