This week, GorT sits down with Coder in Crisis (@CoderInCrisis on Twitter) to discuss computers, science fiction, and prognosticate about the future of technology.
Your Gormogons are, to a man,* all Roman Catholic and pretty astonishingly versed in our faith. If you’re not a Roman Catholic, or a Gormogon, you might not find this post particularly appealing, but the Czar happens to know that a few of us are getting pretty annoyed with some of our fellow practitioners. The Czar understands there’s even a podcast brewing in which some of us will be barking loudly at the moon about the way Roman Catholics have been treating themselves for some time now.
The Czar won’t mess with that podcast, but he will grip quite a bit on another related issue. His 12-year-old is taking on his formal religious education right now, and part of that program required him to take part in a…well, the Czar isn’t sure what you’d call it, since he was merely asked to drop off the boy and pick him up when done. Maybe they called it a retreat? Who knows? But what it was…was a disaster of Protestant proportions.
As many of you know, Catholics tend to be pretty particular about their faith, and right now there’s a growing irritation with more come-as-you-are Catholics and encroaching liberalism from folks who would rather change their faith’s time-honored beliefs than admit that what they believe is incompatible with the catechism. We will leave that for the podcast.
Let’s get right to the point. We dropped the boy off at a nearby church (not our own, but one in a neighboring town), and rather than leave him to fend for himself in a strange building with people he doesn’t know, the Czar escorted him in to ensure—more practically—if the Czar even got him to the right church, let alone the right entrance. We were at the correct place.
Inside the vestibule of the church was a crowd of people, engulfed in remarkably insipid Christian rock tunes. No, these aren’t the folk-song ukulele poems that Ghettoputer abhors, written by hippie Catholics back in the 1960s; these are modern nursery-rhyme New Testamenty singalongs set to a rock beat. You know the kind that play on late-night commercials in the cable wasteland channels, usually by groups named something like FellowShip? So this live, five-piece rock band is thumping out one of these songs at a deafening volume, while another half-dozen 50-something-year-old guys are wandering amid the crowd of adolescents eagerly clapping their hands and trying to get the kids to sing with them.
Not surprisingly, the crowd of approximately one-thousand kids (that’s no exaggeration: this place was packed) stood around, in total embarrassment, pretending that whatever was scrolling on their phones was the most urgent thing imaginable. “Uh, can’t sing along with you right,” you could imagine one kid shouting, “My mom just texted to say London has been eaten by a gigantic serpent. Millions dead, my dad is missing.”
So picture this mayhem: happy, utterly gushing Jesus-is-my-BFF song pounding over the amplifiers, six cheerleaders old enough to be any of their dads clapping (ON ONE AND THREE!**) to the song, and about one-thousand kids all desperately pretending to be doing something else to avoid making eye contact with these clowns.
For non-Catholics, this is probably not surprising; this sounds every bit like a typical Christian youth group meeting: well-meaning but utterly incompetent adults pretending that church is way funner than Xbox or the skate park or whatever you kids do these days, dorky-ass songs that would be pathetic even if they were about sex and dope, and a bunch of adolescents in dire need of escape.
“What the hell is this,” asked the Czar out loud. This was one hula hoop challenge on the volleyball court away from being a Baptist youth group. What the hell was happening here? Eventually, someone recognized the Czar’s boy and whisked him away, slapped a name tag on his shirt, and pushed him into the church itself, and told him to sit and join the concert.
Two-and-a-half hours later, the Czar picked him back up, and the boy looked shell-shocked. “Don’t say anything,” we advised him. “Just sit in the car and relax. Forget it even happened.” We drove home in relatively silence, until about one mile from home, he vented.
“That was stupid. I’m tired of how these things screw up everybody’s day, even yours, because you had to drive me! We got nothing out of this. It was a waste of time and money. We didn’t even talk about faith. They just wanted us to think this was some big party.” And so on.
Here’s the deal. Like all faiths, Catholics have a big influx of new members in the form of babies. They get baptized, accompany the parents to church every Sunday, and start to drop away as they become adults. Then they fall in love, decide to get married, and come back to church every week to more-or-less prove they’re loyal and just don’t need a place to hold the wedding. They have kids, and pretty soon they start coming every week for the rest of their lives.
The Church, like most faiths, has a real problem keeping the adolescents coming regularly, so they try to compete with the joys of increasingly emancipated childhood. These occur in the form of youth ministries: basically, the sappiest people in the world—you know you are—trying to convince a bunch of weary, over-programmed kids that God can be just as whack and dope as Instagram filters and pizza pockets.
The problem, which perpetually escapes the adults who run these programs, is that kids are way smarter than that. Adolescents, particularly those in the 12-to-15-year-old range, are almost perfect bullshit detectors. The average kid of this age knows the adult doesn’t really believe the material they’re peddling: the average adult also would prefer to sleep in on Sunday, hates the cantor, thinks the sermon was way off point, and will probably sneak out right after Communion.
The goofball music is unlistenable. The happy-clap-hands dads walking around trying drum up enthusiasm clearly hate this stuff as much as the kids, probably more so. The adults know the kids hate this pretend joy, and the kids know the adults are aware of it, too. It’s a big charade.
And right now, there are a couple of youth ministers firing up Gmail to send us an angry letter, rebuking this cynicism. “Czar, I have been a youth minister for 15 years, and I cannot tell you the number of kids who have thanked me for the fun times and wonderful experiences, often coming back years later with their own kids just to thank me.” Sure, they think you were the best. Guess what, chief? They were bored out of their minds and are being polite to you.
Catholics, you see, have started to embrace this aspect of happy-Jesus Protestantism, and the Czar, for one, doesn’t care for it a bit. He’s not alone, and yes, he is grumpy about it.
The source of this pathetic display of pretty evident. Confirmation—that most serious of sacraments, when you tell a kid “Look, you’re old enough to make up your own mind. Are you in…or are you out?” And most will say “In.” Hooray! Another confirmed Catholic on the mailing list!
Except, once confirmed, the Catholic child no longer attends religious education. Why should he? Why should she? She’s confirmed, and now the onus is on the child to show up on time for Mass every Sunday, participate in the sacraments are appropriate, and live good, full Catholic lives. There’s no need to attend classes on weekends or evenings during the school year: they’re confirmed. They’re done with that. They’re members in good standing, now.
Which means the funds to the local religious ed program dry up. So to milk the program for a couple more years, the local churches have been pushing back age of confirmation from 12 to 13. Then from 13 to 14. Now it’s 15. That’s three more years, meaning hundreds of bucks per year per kid for three more years.
The problem is, as you can quickly imagine, is that it’s back-firing. Kids are less inclined to even show up for mass once they’re confirmed. They’re spent: they’ve been taught, for three or more years, that Catholic church is one, big hoke-fest of bad songs, creepy-weird adults clapping their hands, and interdenominational get-togethers which sort of weakens the whole system.
Something’s gotta give, and soon, the Czar figured. And two weeks ago—not in time to prevent the catastrophe witnessed yesterday—the Czar received a letter from his local church quite frankly addressing this point. With surprise, the Czar read that the local church is thinking of pulling Confirmation back to the age of 12, which it was for centuries. The letter explained that there’s no benefit in prolonging it, that the programs are becoming watered down to make them last longer, and that the kids, frankly, think the religious ed experience, well, it sucks. A more efficient program, focusing on teaching the foundations of the faith rather than personal experience, might well be in order…and starting in 2019, the local church will be re-vamping the program.
About time. Before, you know, the Jesus-is-my-entertainer experience scares them away for good.
The Czar leaves the rest of you to listen to an upcoming podcast from his fellow world-controllers, who will demonstrate that this intrafaith thrashing isn’t limited to Muscovy.
*Well, a despot, a Sith lord, a wizard, a mad scientist, a robot, and whatever that leaves ‘Puter.
** Few greater musical sins.
And by that title, I mean I’m doubling on how down I am on the Oscars…and Hollywood in general.
Look, it’s easy for mainstream America to bash on Hollywood – some regarding the prominent political leanings, some over their demonstrated social bankruptcy, and others for jealous reasons such as their salaries. I’m not focused on any of those things here.
In the last day or so I came across someone stating, essentially, that Hollywood has moved from telling stories to selling messages (my words). Then I read, friend of the Gormogons, Jonah Goldberg’s piece at the National Review. Two things gripped me. First:
…no one should be surprised when the ratings for the Oscars are lousy, given that they mostly celebrate movies that are hostile — or simply unappealing — to vast swathes of the movie-going and TV-watching audience. Particularly when those honored are so liable to preen about how clever and brave they are.
I don’t think getting paid large amounts of money to portray a character in a movie that, as Neil deGrasse Tyson pontificated on Twitter, “challenges & disrupts [our] world view” is brave which makes them sinfully prideful when they do preen about it at the Oscars. Ok, maybe that’s not a shocker to you, dear reader. I’m open for challenging movies. I’m married to a Radio/TV/Film major and we have seen a wide range…and as bad as some have been, I’ve never walked out on a movie (although, probably should have). Where Hollywood is missing the mark, however, with regards to “selling messages” is two-fold: (1) they don’t listen to their own messaging (e.g. corrupt hierarchies of power leading to abusive behaviors) and (2) subtlety as the messages are frequently heavy handed – from Wall-E to Three Billboards (which Mrs. GorT and I enjoyed but remarked at how over the top it was with regards to the actions of various characters and the resulting lack of consequences*).
The second part from Jonah’s piece that struck me was:
John Podhoretz made an interesting point: One reason the ratings for the Oscars are down is that few Americans see most of the nominated movies anymore….This is just one facet of the larger problem with Hollywood fare these days. While there are more and better niche movies appealing to different segments of the society, there are fewer big “event” movies that everybody goes to that are also worthy of Oscar consideration.
Let me spin that another way. Where are the really great stories that inspire us through entertainment? I don’t think anyone is advocating that the actual and implied actions at the end of Three Billboards is what we want in society, for example*. Not that long ago, movies were a means of escape – 120 minutes where we could relax and be entertained. We were taken to galaxies far, far away where Good fought Evil. And on time traveling adventures that made us laugh while seeing that we can change our future. Maybe people are right and there are only 7 plots in the world: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Rebirth, Comedy and Tragedy but there are so many unique and interesting stories out there.
I’m glad A Wrinkle In Time is making it to the silver screen, it was a favorite of mine growing up. And Amazon’s adaptation of The Man in the High Castle has been awesome. But there are so many other great stories out there across a variety of age ranges: The Great Brain series by John Fitzgerald, Roger Zelazny’s Amber series, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, and more.
I just think that the Oscars are representative of the movie industry as a whole and should make no bones about it. The Academy should come out with a statement describing why certain movies are nominated and awarded and why others aren’t. This won’t happen, because they can’t do that.
* if you don’t know what I’m referencing because you haven’t seen the movie and if you don’t care about spoilers, hit me up on email and I’ll fill you in.
‘Puter was attending Mass yesterday when …
STOP LAUGHING! ‘Puter goes to Mass every week and on all Holy Days of Obligation! He used to do First Fridays, too, but that’s another whole story.
As ‘Puter was saying before he was so rudely interrupted, he was at Mass praying and thinking. ‘Puter realized that for all the agony and stupidity that is Twitter, Twitter’s also a force for good. Now stay with ‘Puter here for a minute, people.
Twitter has demonstrably been a force for good in ‘Puter’s life. He’s made virtual and IRL friends he never would have met but for Twitter. ‘Puter’s Twitter friends have made him a better person by showing him the goodness of people everywhere.
There are others in ‘Puter’s Twitter feed who are quietly and faithfully raising wonderful special needs kids who don’t make a big deal out of it. The Schultzie family, for one: mister, missus, and Muffin Bear. Schultzie is surely wondering where this is going, and will quickly dismiss what ‘Puter’s about to say, but ‘Puter’s going to say it anyway. Adopting a special needs kid, caring for said kid as your own, and working hard to ensure that kid thrives is God working through us. It is an example of people quietly making a difference for others because of their inherent goodness and the strength of their faith. It is humanity at its best and an example to rest of us of what families can accomplish together.
Not to be forgotten is Sean Bannion and his beautiful family. Sean would surely tell you anyone would do what his wife and he do, but we know that’s not true. Quite the opposite, in fact. Just look at the statistics on abortion of “imperfect” fetuses. It’s a slow-motion genocide, a crime against humanity, and an abomination before the Lord.
The presence of these wonderful children and their loving parents reminds us that all life is valuable, even life far too many consider disposable. Standing up for all life from conception to natural death is our duty, one parents like Schultzie, Mrs. Schultzie, Sean and Mrs. Sean model well.
There are strong, serious, funny people coping with as-yet incurable diseases in ‘Puter’s feed. And you’d never know it unless they told you. ‘Puter’s looking at you Patriot Musket and Chelie. People who have dealt with, for example, diabetes for all or a large portion of their lives. They accept this fact and get on with their lives just like everyone else. No whining, no complaining, no nothing. Their strength and quiet determination is admirable. There will be a cure someday for diabetes and all diseases, and ‘Puter hopes his friends are there to celebrate that day.
There are people coping with mental illness, including but not limited to depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADHD, to name but a few. Each of these people allows us to see mental illness through a lens of humanity, the humanity and dignity of a friend. They remind us daily that many Americans are affected by mental illness and that they are first and foremost good, decent people working hard to get better. People who just happen to struggle with a mental illness. ‘Puter’s thinking in particular of one wanton Nutmegger, but won’t name her because ‘Puter’s not certain she’d want to be identified.
There are people living with addiction and recovery therefrom. Their existence and hard work remaining clean reminds us that we can accomplish anything to which we set our minds. God’s help doesn’t hurt either. There are even some recovering people who share their stories in quiet, appropriate moments like David Edward. The witness of those who choose to share their stories is important to all of us lest we forget that addiction affects everyone somehow, even if only through our relationships with others.
Each of us has people like the foregoing in our Twitter feeds. Often we don’t take the time to realize what these people are teaching us by their presence and interaction with us. ‘Puter’s seen dignity, perseverance, kindness, generosity, self-control, stoicism, duty, in each. Above all, the unifying characteristic of each person mentioned is the transformative power of love in their lives. Love of others, love of self, and/or love of God.
‘Puter is thankful for the example each sets for him as he strives to be a better person. And ‘Puter is thankful for the quiet reflective time in Mass and grace of God that allowed him to see this clearly for the first time this weekend.
So don’t be too quick to dismiss Twitter as a force for good. After all, the Lord works in mysterious ways.
GorT “watched” the Oscars last night. By that, I mean I had it on in the background and occasionally looked up to see what was going on with the show while doing some work on my laptop.
The Oscars were boring. Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue was blah. It seemed like they had 10 video montages when all they needed were one or two*. The live performances of best songs nominees were fine (with the exception of “This Is Me” from Greatest Showman which was great). And the nominated films aren’t the ones that people are spending money to see. The Oscars have leapt the shark. It is time for a serious reboot.
Monologue and Atmosphere
Jimmy Kimmel isn’t the right guy for this event. His jokes were lame and many fell flat on delivery. The introduction was lackluster and really didn’t energize the crowd or the TV audience. During the monologue he praised “positivity” but then went on to bash Trump – so much for positivity. #LoveTrumpsHate, right? Oh wait, liberals can hate because they hate out of love. Are you following that? Aside from that, the various movements were represented throughout the night. Of course, they open the Oscars with a shot of Meryl Streep. Who KNEW about the Weinstein abuses and did and said NOTHING. But this goes to exactly the problem that, apparently, still exists in Hollywood: there is a hierarchy of power. Streep is at the top. It’s why they cut to people like her, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, etc. in the crowd during award shows. Environments with power structures like this are highly susceptible to abuses and coverups. The musicians Common and Andra Day did a song in the middle of the Oscars with various “activists” on stage behind them. He used the lyric about when “they go low, we go to the heights” – which I’m not sure everyone would characterize the type of anti-Trump rhetoric is staying on the high road.
They also repeated the call about Black Panther as the first superhero movie with a black lead. I think Will Smith (Hancock), Robert Townsend (Meteor Man), Damon Wayans (Blankman), Shaquille O’Neal (Steel), and Hally Berry (Catwoman) might disagree (even given that some were flops and/or comedies). Also, a few notable events: a credibly accused rapist won an award for best animated short film. A movie about a minor having a sexual relationship with an adult received multiple nominations and won for best adapted screenplay (paging Roman Polanski). These pronouncements, nominations, and awards only further undermine Hollywood’s attempt at credibility when it comes to issues about equality, sexual abuse, and bettering society.
All in all, GorT would characterize the hosting and atmosphere as alienating. For those that really listened, Kimmel said that Hollywood is or needs to lead the change against sexual abuse and harassment. I’ve been working for companies for twenty years that have annual, mandatory “safe workspace” training sessions and zero tolerance policies. I know of cases where employees have been fired for violating it. Twenty years. Jimmy Kimmel, Hollywood is WAY behind other industries. Hollywood isn’t leading the change – Hollywood is part of the problem.
I don’t get how the Academy picks the winners. It clearly doesn’t follow the “majority vote” model if you use American audiences. Here is the list of the top 20 (plus a few main Oscar nominees) box office revenue films in 2017 and how many “major” Oscar category (Best Picture, Screenwriting, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Best Soundtrack) nominations they received:
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi (0)**
- Beauty And the Beast (0)**
- Wonder Woman (0)***
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (0)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2** (0)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (0)
- It (0)
- Thor: Ragnarok (0)
- Despicable Me 3 (0)
- Justice League (0)
- Logan** (0)
- The Fate of the Furious (0)
- Coco** (0)
- Dunkirk (1)
- Get Out (3)
- The Lego Batman Movie (0)
- The Boss Baby** (0)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (0)
- Kong: Skull Island** (0)
- The Greatest Showman** (0)
39. The Post (2)
48. The Shape of Water (7)
51. Darkest Hour (2)
52. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (6)
56. Lady Bird (5)
I get that because a movie is popular means that the movie is exceptional. I also get that due to movie release dates, annual box office revenues isn’t a great measure, but I think it suffices for the point I’m making. I’m happy to revisit this in 2019 and use a first year revenue for each of the films. I don’t think it will be significantly different. The point being, I do believe that truly exceptional movies should transcend from an Academy nomination to the box office.
GorT gets it – Hollywood is using shows like the Oscars, Emmys, etc. as their bully pulpits to posture themselves and make sure that they seem like good people so the audiences will keep paying upwards of $20 per ticket to see the films and support their extravagant lifestyles. But I think these award shows need a serious reboot. Kimmel’s joke at the beginning regarding the first Oscars being 15 minutes long might have some truth behind it.
Anything over 2 hours long is too much. Keep the In Memoriam montage (except hit ALL the people who passed away last year), awardees get 2 minutes tops and only one speaker for group awards****. And essentially ditch the emcee – do it all via voice narration and kick it off with a montage of the nominees. At least it would reduce some of the self-congratulations that takes place and make it a little more palatable.
* As stated above: they need an opening montage to replace the monologue and the In Memoriam montage
** These films were nominated (and some won) in other categories outside of the major ones
*** Wonder Woman is an Israeli actress LEADING a blockbuster superhero movie and Hollywood gave it ZERO nominations.
**** Sorry folks, one speaker only, so pool your notes, pick a competent speaker, and have them cover the whole thing.
As “discussed” in the previous episode, we are proud to launch our “Meet a Minion” series with this episode in which ‘Puter and Mo (@molratty on Twitter) spend a while chatting about various topics. It’s worth a listen, so grab your cup of coffee and give it a listen. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.
Sometimes it’s nice to sit and ponder things on a quiet, snowy Upstate morning. Today is not one of those days. ‘Puter knew it was going to snow, and snow a lot overnight. ‘Puter determined to get up early, exercise, snowblow his driveway, and leave for work 30 minutes early. And so ‘Puter did.
‘Puter got to work to find a text transmitted en route informing him the office was closed until 11:00 AM. Suck it, world.
‘Puter will be departing the office four hours early today as a result. Well, probably not. ‘Puter’s boss, the company president, will schedule a meeting for 4:00 PM because it’s Friday and that’s how he rolls.
‘Puter’s pretty fired up as a result, so he thought he’d drop a few lines on the site. One must comply with Meaux’s Order for the Preservation of Gormogon Awesome-osity.
Here are some words requiring more frequent use: Huzzah! Archaeopteryx. Homonculus. Dildo. Warpig. Jank. Sure, forty percent of the aforementioned words are made up, but that doesn’t matter. Do it for the children.
Old people should be banned from driving during morning and evening rush hours. You’re retired. Stay off the damned roads so the rest of us can get to work. Someone needs to slave to pay your Social Security which is broke and which we won’t get. You sure as Hell didn’t. You’re sucking more out than you ever put in. And say thank you once in a while, Meemaw.
America shouldn’t listen to children about anything. The last time America listened to kids was the 1960s, and look how the 1970s turned out.
We should raise the legal age for everything to 30 unless you’re living on your own, paying taxes, and fully self-supporting.
Thinking about it, if you’re living off the taxpayer, you shouldn’t get a say in government spending. You should get representation, but taxpayers should get to approve any federal budget in an up or down vote. Not you, 16 year old gun grabber. Not you, Meemaw who faked a disability then retired at 62 and is now 80. Not you, public school teachers and other government employees. If the government treats you as its child, you get the vote of a child.
Someone should start a charity that does nothing but purchase guns for abuse victims. The charity would train recipients to use them properly. Call it Planned Personhood maybe. Or Hugs for Handguns.
People shouldn’t be so hung up on looks. As we get older, we realize we all get dumpier, even the ones of us who remain objectively hawt. Be a good person. That goes a long way and doesn’t fade with age.
Shoveling snow is a young man’s job. Thank God for snowblowers. Also, why did Frosty the Snowman run out into the street? He heard a snowblower was coming.
‘Puter watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 last night. ‘Puter has no idea why Sylvester Stallone was in that movie.
That’s pretty much it. ‘Puter’s got more to say. Way more, in fact. ‘Puter just doesn’t want to ruin this post with rants on gun control, or abortion, or banking law, or overregulation, or how both parties now completely suck on rule of law and basic constitutional concepts.
GorT read ‘Puter’s latest post with amusement – enjoying his tossing of District Board Policies at the board – until GorT got to the footnotes. For those that didn’t read that far (maybe validating one of the footnotes) or missed it in ‘Puter’s formatting, I re-present the item in question here:
Also, the extension GorT put on the blogging software that says this post’s readability “needs improvement” can suck it. Those programmers’ moms “need improvement.
So, the “extension” in question is actually in place to help people find the blog via internet searches. Specifically, the extension raised the following issues with ‘Puter’s post:
- The copy scores 49 in the Flesch Reading Ease test, which is considered difficult to read. Try to make shorter sentences, using less difficult words to improve readability.
- The text does not contain any subheadings. Add at least one subheading.
- 39.4% of the sentences contain more than 20 words, which is more than the recommended maximum of 25%. Try to shorten the sentences.
- 16.7% of the sentences contain passive voice, which is more than the recommended maximum of 10%. Try to use their active counterparts.
- The text contains 3 consecutive sentences starting with the same word. Try to mix things up!
- 1 of the paragraphs contains more than the recommended maximum of 150 words. Are you sure all information is about the same topic, and therefore belongs in one single paragraph?
Keep in mind, ‘Puter (the once-English major) is giving the computer guy an issue over a programming thing. So here is the computer guy taking on the English critiques*.
First, I’ll give ‘Puter a pass on the Flesch Reading Ease test since our blog doesn’t pull any punches and we’ll use difficult words and more complex sentences because we believe our readers can handle it. Why we should write more simply to make our posts easier to read baffles me. We had a priest who taught at Catholic University periodically visit our parish growing up. GorT, Sr. told my brother and I to listen closely to his homilies which frequently used challenging words and took complex issues head on with no sugar coating.
Second, we don’t need subheadings unless we want to use them. Pound sand.
Third, clearly this extension hasn’t met ‘Puter. He is not one short of speech and will gladly weave a complicated statement.
Fourth, hmmm, this surprised me. ‘Puter isn’t passive nor one to make heavy use of the passive voice.
Fifth, did you spot it?
Sixth, when ‘Puter writes who knows if all the information is about the same topic. Keeping him focused can be a challenge.
* By the way, the extension rates this post’s readability as Good.
For our new Meet a Minion series, ‘Puter recorded a podcast episode featuring Meaux (of @molratty fame) last night, and it probably didn’t suck. It will definitely suck less once GorT gets time to edit it. Anyhoo, one of the questions ‘Puter asked Meaux was what, aside from collectively dying in a fire, we could do to improve our product. Meaux quickly answered, “Post more.”
So, in response to Meaux’s thoughtful criticism, here’s a post for today. ‘Puter will try to post more frequently in the coming weeks and months, maybe even doing a travelogue from his upcoming trip to Scotland, the ancestral home of Scott tissues and toilet paper, which, to be quite honest, are no match for Brawny paper towel’s absorptive properties.
You may have heard about the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. If you haven’t, you must be deaf, so you’re probably reading this in Braille or some other fake language.
Because current high school attendees are spawn of America’s Worst Generation, of course the larval hippies are staging a walkout because dumbass kid power totally rules! ‘Puter’s local school district is no different, packed to the gills with spawn of liberal Boomer hippies who don’t understand guns much less existing gun control laws. FYI, larval hippies, New York has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. But dumbass kids gonna dumbass kid.
In response to the stated intent of these benighted, smug, asshat teens threatening to walk out of class disrupting Tablet’s education and Mrs. ‘Puter’s job, ‘Puter drafted the following letter to the district’s superintendent, edited to remove identifying information.
Dear Superintendent [X],
I received your email regarding the upcoming student protests to take place in [District]. You note that the students will “protest and support the control of the sale of firearms.” As you surely know, gun control v. gun rights is a hot-button, partisan, political issue. The issue divides Democrats and Republicans, gun owners and non-gun owners. Elections nationwide turn on politicians’ positions on firearms. With the possible exception of abortion rights, it is difficult to think of a more partisan, political, divisive issue.
The District does not yet appear to know what the student protesters plan to do, nor has the District determined whether it will allow the student protests or offer programs or instruction on the issue of gun control. As the situation remains in flux, I reserve judgment.
Before the District moves forward and understanding the District has made no determination as of yet, I have the following questions and concerns.
Your email seems to imply the student protest advocating for gun control is curricular in nature. You identify the Parkland shootings and their aftermath as a “teachable moment.” While this is true, it does not affect the nature of the proposed walkout student protests. It does not seem political protests held during school hours advocating only one side of a politically fraught issue would be curricular in nature. If you believe such protests would be curriculum based, would you please explain why you believe so?
It was not clear from your email whether any student protest activities will occur during the school day. [District] Board Policy 7411 requires student groups meeting for non-curriculum related activities to “meet up to 10 minutes prior to the commencement of classes or for a maximum of 45 minutes after the dismissal of classes.” I assume any such protests would not be held during instructional time, and to the extent they were, the District would discipline participating students accordingly.
Further, [District] Board Policy 7411 mandates “[s]uch meetings will be held only when … 1. They do not interfere with students’ academic achievement; 2. The safety of students is provided for; and 3. The cost of transportation and other expenses are paid by the organization and not by the School District.” Any protests occurring during the instructional day would surely interfere with students’ academic achievement if for no other reason than they were not in class to receive instruction. The remaining students (if any) would also be impacted as I would imagine teachers are not going to teach to a classroom where half or more of the students have walked out. Further, to the extent the protests are held (whether or not the District sanctions the protests), the students should be responsible for paying all costs associated with providing for their safety, including the allocable salary expense of any attending police officers, sheriff’s deputies, teachers, or administrators.
To the extent District personnel are involved in any manner other than supervisory, [District] Board Policy 6430 applies. It states “[t]eachers may not use their classrooms or school surroundings as a means to promote their personal political views and beliefs.” Participation in a pro-gun control protest and rally would violate this policy. There is a difference between holding a classroom debate where both sides of an issue are fairly and accurately presented and a political protest where only one side of an issue is advocated, as the Board’s policy recognizes.
To the extent federal funds are used in any manner in support of the student protests, including but not limited to maintenance of the school property, accommodation of special needs students to participate, etc., so doing would violate both federal law and [District] Board Policy 5560 which prohibits use of federal funds for political expenditures.
Please note that use of District resources to promote only one side of a partisan political issue violates the constitutional prohibition against use of public funds for partisan purposes. Phillips v. Maurer, 67 NY2d 672 (1986). Even indirect support to espouse a partisan position has been deemed improper. Permitting use of school facilities also lends an appearance of prohibited partisan activity by a school district, which should be avoided. Surely the issue of gun control is a partisan issue as we have seen in the aftermath of the Parkland shootings.
I do not disagree with you that the issue of school shootings and proposals to limit or eliminate them going forward is an important issue. It is certainly one with which high school students should grapple. However, if school facilities are used to promote only one side of the issue, no matter how indirect the District’s involvement, the District would be in violation of its own policies, state law, and federal law.
I am certain you will do your usual good work and thread the needle on this difficult issue recognizing both the students’ legitimate concerns as well as those of the taxpayer. I support your thought that this can be a learning opportunity for [District’] students. I know [the District] will handle this situation properly and look forward to hearing how the District plans to do so as events become more certain.
Thank you for your time.
So, yeah. We’ll see if ‘Puter’s e-missive has any effect whatsoever. ‘Puter’s betting not since the teachers union’s a bunch of worthless hippies and the administration’s terrified of them. Lord, a decision in Janus v. AFSCME cannot come soon enough.
* Buried lede: ‘Puter can write.
** Also, the extension GorT put on the blogging software that says this post’s readability “needs improvement” can suck it. Those programmers’ moms “need improvement.
China has long had a funny reputation in America. To some of us, it’s a Communist Thugocracy, playing a coy game of psychology to convince idiots that it’s really an efficient, socialist modern country with ordinary people enjoying a marriage of culture and high-tech advantages, when in reality it’s a horrible place quite likely to kill innocent people. To the rest of us, it’s an efficient, socialist modern country, et cetera.
In fact, it seems to be a weekly occurrence: a journalist writes a piece about something nice or worthwhile in China, and someone on social media immediately corrects that journalist with the horrible facts of concealed tragedy. Okay, some of China’s apologists confess, China isn’t all that great, but it’s definitely getting better!
China’s President Xi Jinping has decided to settle that question by deciding that his two-term limit is null and void, and he’s basically Mao for life, now. Ironically, one of the first things China did after Mao died was ditch the leader-for-life system because of all the further misery it brought to an already miserable land. Even grotesque Deng Xiaoping understood this, and while power transition in China has been something akin to musical chairs, at least there was the pretense of novelty.
The apologists are going to have a very hard time with this. Is China expanding her navy? No, they’re just spreading their natural right of…oh hell, yeah it looks like it. Is China oppressing the people in its western regions? No, they’re just encouraging a two-way form of diversity…no, no, that’s probably oppression. Is China undermining American business with secret gateways into software and hardware? Why, that’s just crazy, paranoid delusion with no basis…well, actually, they could, easily.
Worse, this is a blow for socialism and communism. As you know, the defense for those nightmarish social constructs is always some form of denial. “Those examples you give are not true communism, but a distorted, maniacal form of dictatorship.”
Well, guess what China just chose? For all the praise American liberals have for China’s government, China’s government has just decided to become one of those bad examples of bad communism.
Looks like the Cold War 2 has begun.