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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 39,441

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That's a hard one,

considering that I've read thousands upon thousands of books. I've never thought of any title as being "life changing," but that the reading of so many broad, diverse things has.

And I think that anything "life changing" would probably be highly personal, and might not be for anyone else.

The earliest "life changing" book I can remember was when my 4th grade teacher read My Side of the Mountain to us. I bought it from our book order when it came around, and have had a copy of it for almost 5 decades now.

It was life-changing because it was the first time I recognized myself. It resonated like a tibetan singing bowl in my soul. I wanted to BE Sam Gribley. I wanted to leave behind my life and live in a tree, alone and uninterrupted by human interaction. While I loved the book, I was horrified when his family found him in the end, moved to the mountain, and started to "civilize" it, making him move back into a house.

It was the first clue to who I was, and who I am: a Lone Wolf, an introvert, who craves solitude like air.

Another? The Bible. I picked it up when I was 16 to read because I was tired of being made to feel inferior by new people in my life because I hadn't been raised "Christian." I read it straight through, beginning to end, twice. I compared it to what I heard being said in the church I was pressured to attend, by the pastor and the attendees. I noted the contradictions in the Bible itself, and between what it said and what was being taught in the church, and how the church members lived their lives. Then I left it behind. I still have a copy on the shelf somewhere, along with my Boomer Bible and other similarly blasphemous versions.

Those 2 Bible readings added greatly to my background knowledge in understanding and negotiating western culture, traditions, idioms, etc.. It also sparked a life-long interest in comparative religion, a study in which I've amateurishly dabbled.

There are plenty more, but not for this post. The time spent sorting through memories of books read is well worth it, though, and will probably continue as I move on with the day.

Nader and Rand?

I threw a shoe at my tv last night. Why? Because some local fucking Republican was airing a campaign ad about how Republicans will make sure that we help people "the American Way" by "pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps." Ridiculously transparent propaganda. As one of the outliers in that false myth, I know that people don't dig their way out of poverty with bootstraps.

I fucking hate political propaganda that encourages people to, en masse, adopt false memes. And, of course, EVERY campaign season, we are fucking BURIED by them, from both sides.

Nader is a false boogie-man pulled out every fucking campaign season to attack the left, blame them for the 2000 selection, and try to bully/scare people into voting for fucking neo-liberal corporate dems. Every political campaign needs an "enemy" to promote the "lesser evil" meme, because, god knows, there are very, very few candidates worthy of supporting on their own merits in these days of corporate ownership of the whole process. So faithful partisans always have to have an enemy to bash, and devote so much of their time and energy into doing so.

I, for one, think that time and energy would be better spent cleaning our own house, so to speak, but then, I AM a lone wolf when it comes to politics.

One of those enemies I've read more and more vitriol against the last couple of years has been "libertarians." Rand Paul, while a Republican, seems to be a favorite example of a "libertarian." To see him linked with Nader in an OP for a double whammy of "evil" is not surprising. Just discouraging. As for the point? Nader suggesting a marriage of the left and right? Not going to happen, but it's not a surprising suggestion. After all, those of us on the fringe of mainstream corporate politics are always looking for ways to break up the corporate status quo.

For the record, I do not now, never have, and probably never will, hate Ralph Nader, blame him for the 2000 selection, or make my voting decisions based on what he says or does. I've also never voted for him.

For the record, I don't give a fuck about Rand Paul. While I don't like him, I also don't plan to spend any energy giving him time and attention in any kind of forum.

I care about issues, and about what the Democratic Party is doing with them. That's ALL I care about, and that's what drives my voting decisions.

I'm never going to vote for a Republican. Never. Efforts to convince me that they are "bad" are a waste of time. I already know that. Efforts to marginalize the left, or to bully them into line? With this far-left Democrat, those efforts are not only an utter failure, but tend to have unintended consequences...the more I see, the less I respect or listen to those voices.

I'm looking for candidates to vote FOR, and that has to be based on their positions and records on issues...not on their opponents.

But that's just me.

That's a coincidence.

I was just thinking about this topic this morning, as I got ready to leave the house.

It started as I reached for a bra, mentally groaning, stretching my chronically aching, inflamed back and tight shoulders, and wishing again that I'd grown up flat chested instead of a triple D, regardless of how thin, or not, the rest of me might be. I remembered the knowledge, from about age 11, that I'd never have trouble attracting male attention, and that other girls were envious. I remembered learning, over the years, what a double-edged sword that was, and that I couldn't ever expect males to be interested in me as a person rather than an object. I remembered the years learning to hide, to blend in, to be unnoticeable and unmemorable so that kind of attention would be directed elsewhere. I thought about the relief it was to become "too old" to attract sexual attention.

I remembered being raised by a wonderful mom who was attracted to, and addicted to attracting, "bad" boys, and how truly BAD they were, and having to negotiate the environment with them in it. I remembered growing up always feeling inadequate, because my tomboy self was never "pretty" nor "girlie" enough for her. I thought about how, still, when I'm 53, she still constantly comments on what I look like, what I'm wearing, my weight, etc., etc., etc., and how, still, in her mid-70s, she is still overly (to me) obsessed with what SHE looks like.

I thought about the way she was raised, the lack of love and total lack of confidence and esteem she grew up with, that she learned to value herself when boys and then men valued her for something...something that was never her otherwise intelligent intellect or her heart and soul. I forgave her, and by extension, all of my sisters across the planet who feel that they need a man to validate them, because I understand. I understand where it comes from, I understand what it feels like, and I understand that I'm unusual in being able to break that pattern in my own life. I'm thankful that I had 2 sons and no daughters to pass that conditioning on to; that my sons grew up expecting the women around them to be whole people, and that, as adults, they treat women that way.

We're all in different places on the continuum. It's all interconnected, and social/cultural/gender evolution is a complex process.

While it's been a very long time since the 70s,

I think I remember a bit about my experience with weed and with the people I enjoyed it with.

I don't think it distracted us from enjoyment of nature or the arts; the opposite, in fact. Unambitious? Maybe, if "ambition" is about making your mark or place in an aggressive, competitive, capitalistic society. I'm not so sure that's a bad thing, though. It could be our culture would be a lot healthier if we dialed way down on those characteristics.

Brooks may be right about laws molding culture. I think we just have profoundly different visions for the culture we'd like to see.

What laws might I enact to "mold" the culture I'd like to see? To start with:

1. A carbon tax or deduction. Produce zero biological children? A great big deduction. One child? A moderate deduction. Two kids? No deduction, no tax. More than two biological kids? A carbon tax for every child over two, increasing with each addition.

2. A socialized national health CARE program, guaranteeing physical and mental health care, vision, dental, hospice, home care, prescriptions, and alternative care to every person, free at point of service.

3. A truly 100% public, 100% FREE at point of service education, pre-school through trade school or university, at any point in life, for every person. No privatization, no high-stakes testing, the public education system designed and managed by actual EDUCATORS.

4. Expanded social security, starting earlier and paying more.

5. Guaranteed clean, safe shelter and minimal income to every person, regardless of circumstance.

6. A restorative justice system, offering re-training and rehabilitation to all offenders, and long-term or permanent incarceration only for those who pose a danger to others. All those incarcerated, long or short term, treated with dignity and humanity, and guaranteed safety, healthy food, and whatever other services they need to learn to function well with others. Corporate criminals required to use their assets to restore the lives of those they damaged.

7. Energy production and distribution all public, not-for-profit.

8. Free, fully-funded and developed, easy and convenient public transportation systems everywhere.

9. A guaranteed LIVING wage.

10. Labor unions required for all jobs; strict, and strictly enforced, labor regulations.

11. Strict, and strictly enforced, environmental regulations.

12. The end of "free" trade; a trade system based on strict labor and environmental standards.

That's a start.

I have to call bullshit.

Yes, various conditions can be over-diagnosed and mistreated.

But Oppositional Defiant Disorder is REAL.

I know. My grandson was diagnosed, once we got him away from his very troubled mother and got him the physical and mental health treatment he needed.

We're not talking about people who question authority, who think independently, who resist conformity. I do all of those things myself; hence my screen name on DU and the consistent attacks here for not being a good enough Democrat. So does my son, his father, who is even more so than I. Neither of us, though, is ODD.

ODD is an extreme. It has several causes. In my grandson's case, neglect, abuse, lack of supervision, inconsistent and harsh discipline through the age of 4...definitely.

The person with ODD has control issues, and takes those issues beyond the edge of extreme. Even at the age of 3 or 4. They will do ANYTHING to "win," including endangering and hurting themselves and others. They don't respond to the ways most kids learn civility or how to make appropriate choices. Adults in their family have to be trained to go outside their own experiences to make any progress at all.

They don't need medication, unless it's addressing a related condition. They do need intensive therapy and training in self-management and choice making, and their families need training in how to interact with them to help move things in positive directions, rather than feeding the problem.

This blog was written by an anonymous person referencing an article written by someone only identified as "Andrew," with no last name, no qualifications given for the statements made. When "Andrew" has had to put a 4 yo into a restraining hold to keep him from extreme violence to himself and others around him; when he's stood under a very tall tree, terrified that the 4 yo will fall after he scrambled up faster than adults could reach him, afraid to climb after him for fear he would throw himself onto the rocks below, hoping that if he fell he could be caught, and knowing that no "coaxing" in the world would get him down; when he's had to chase a 4 yo over a fence and into miles of public forest that he could be lost in for way too long, with that 4 yo looking back at him with a feral grin because he was "winning;" when he's had to find a way to get a 4 yo to eat when he's made up his mind not to...for 2 days...when he's had a 4 yo unlatch his seatbelt and launch his arms around the driver's neck on the highway, only to take off across that highway in the midst of traffic when the car was pulled over for safety...

When he's had to give up his job so that he can show up at school at any given moment to remove his child; when his entire adult life is given to therapy, counseling, a special school for children with these kinds of problems, and all trips into the public arena are determined by whether or not the child is in a good enough place that day to do so safely...when it takes 8 years of all of that therapy and retraining to get to a point that the child can interact, privately and publicly, with civility and reasonable behavior, but STILL has control issues which he struggles to manage every day...

When he wants to give his full name and his qualifications to speak authoritatively about mental illness...

then "Andrew" can make pronouncements about whether or not ODD is real. Until then, I'll stick with my grandson's team of doctors and other acknowledged authorities whose credentials can be checked.





Interestingly enough, when an ODD student enters our school, I'm the one called to assist the assigned teacher, or, if the child is in my grade level, he or she will be placed in my class. Why? Because there are specific strategies for working with these kids, and I've already been trained.

"Women are life support systems for pussy."

Yes. It's a shocking statement. Where did I hear it? From my ex-husband, who passed it on as a "joke" he and "the boys" heard at the local pub. This was about 20 years ago.

Just last week, I had a conversation with my class of 8th graders about how to express disagreement or anger without put-downs. It was partly in response to a major temper-tantrum thrown by a student who didn't like what someone had to say about her choice in boyfriends (too young,) and partly because we were preparing for a classroom debate, and discussing rules of order.

We talked about how, in modern politics, put-downs are the norm. About how adults on both sides of the party lines generally discuss politics by calling names and putting the other side down, rather than by presenting facts and logic about issues. They all agreed that "that's what my dad/mom/etc. does." I told them that one "persuasive" propaganda technique is to push emotional buttons, because when emotion is engaged, logic and reason flee. That, when trying to convince masses of people with differing povs to vote a certain way, it's the norm in politics to paint the "other" as "enemy" using emotional buttons. That they couldn't do this in a classroom debate; that they needed to recognize it when they see it, but that we'd be using facts, logic, and rules of order.

In other words, the adolescents in my classroom would have to be more mature than the average adult debating politics.

What does that have to do with the thread title? This:

Women come with background experience. When we have been treated as sexual objects valued primarily for our sexual attractiveness or services enough times, by enough males, we tend to perceive looks, stares, leers, and comments as predatory. This IS reality.

It might be that background culture and experience play a big part in our perception of male attention. My mother, in her 70s, was raised in a time when a woman's place was to serve men, be subservient, and take care of herself. Her value was in her attractiveness and her service. If a man looked and made comments, she was complimented, because she knew she was doing what a woman was supposed to. She knew her place.

Of course, she also excused physical abuse, which I witnessed and experienced my entire life growing up with her. I was smart. Smarter than many of the boys, who didn't like that. They did like that I was physically precocious. I didn't have boyfriends as a teen, because they didn't want me to open my mouth, except in one circumstance. I was a tomboy. I didn't decorate myself to attract them. I didn't have to. Slender, long legs, narrow waist, trim hips, and over-sized breasts were enough, no matter what I did or didn't wear. This worried my mother, who was constantly trying to dress me up and make me "pretty." To this day, she carefully says nothing about my appearance unless I wear something she likes, or do something with my hair she likes, and then she lights up and gushes about how "pretty" I look. I've been somewhat of a disappointment, having spent most of my adult life successfully grooming myself to be unnoticeable one way or the other. It's a conditioned response to the behaviors some men have been defending here at DU.

I've been married twice. In both instances, my husbands liked my physical appearance, but not my brains. Which is why I gave up trying to be married or in a relationship after the second marriage ended. I couldn't find men who liked me for myself. Unless they were gay. When I wasn't offering "eye candy," I was invisible, which I found preferable.

I watch my female students being groomed by their mothers to be the flower attracting the bees; I watch my girls obsessing over fashion and hair and makeup and I worry about them. I worry whether or not they will find boys that like THEM. I see that they do; while there are still predators, and teenage boys still gawk, I see most of my boys treating my girls like people rather than "life support systems for pussy." I see that we have slowly evolved. I see hope for the future.

I'm a grandmother. I learned the art of camouflage and have used it well, and now I'm past the age men are interested in leering at. It's been a long time since I had to worry about men evaluating me for sexual potential. I haven't forgotten, though, and when I read all of the "debate" about how men think it's okay to stare at and make comments to and about women they've never met, and how about "militant feminists" are the problem, the politically correct surface layer is cracked, exposing the corruption of a group that supposedly supports social justice.

Men, I have no problem with those of you who like to look at women. It's how you go about it that is at issue.

I'm off to run last minute errands; I'll be back in a few hours to see what DUers have to say about my input.


It's been well-established, since long before the current deform models, that the biggest predictor of standardized test scores is parent SES.

Brain research informs us about the critical birth-4 year period when neural connections are formed that are crucial to later academic learning...long before children get to kindergarten, ensuring that students enter public education already ahead or behind, and, in terms of brain development, tend to continue the way they began. Those starting behind CAN grow more connections, although not at the pre-K rate, and they do; of course, so does everyone else, so they don't "catch up."

Our society is based on capitalistic values: competition, haves and have-nots, the "bootstrap" myth. Our society is not interested in closing economic gaps and equalizing the playing field. Our economy and our society depends on keeping a large pool of cheap labor and cannon fodder. Getting to blame teachers and the education system for "failure" is just a bonus for privatizers who want access to all of the public money spent on the system.

If the U.S. truly, honestly, wanted to improve the education of all, we'd start by eradicating poverty, and making sure that every person in the U.S. had fundamental rights to clean, healthy, safe, shelter with light, heat, etc.; appropriate clothing; abundant healthy food; easily accessible, high-quality health care, including mental, dental, and vision, free at point of service, funded 100% by taxes; clean, safe neighborhoods and communities, with parks, libraries, etc., etc., etc., close to all; a guaranteed minimal income for all, a job for all who wanted it, and a living wage.

That right there would increase learning without changing ANYTHING at schools. If we then wanted to provide every person with equal access to a world-class education, we would:

1. Fully fund every aspect of public education, including daily PE, health, counselors, art teachers, music programs, etc., etc., etc..

2. Reduce all class sizes to the optimal 15 that research tells is best.

3. Make pre-school universal and free.

4. Invest in comprehensive parent education programs: at school, on tv, at obstetrician's offices, as public service announcements on tv, radio, internet and bill-boards, etc., etc., etc.; blanket the culture with the information about how to raise children birth - kindergarten, and how to support students once they started school. Things like keeping them away from electronic toys, tv, etc. for several years; direct conversation and interaction with adults; developmentally appropriate play/exploration opportunities; singing, rhyming, poetry, storybooks, cooking, building, climbing, and all of the things that develop strong language skills and strong brains. Things like a dedicated reading and homework time, when there are no electronic distractions going on. Things like parents modeling reading and language and learning as family values by engaging in them themselves. Things like regular extended family conversations.

5. Make college, university, and/or trade school universally available and free.

Whatever it takes.

I certainly wish we focused more on student needs and less on tests, teacher bashing, privatization, etc., and I've been saying so since before the public education attacks went national with NCLB, let alone RTTT.

Whatever it takes.

Let me tell you what it "takes" for just a few of my students this year, and they are not outliers:

Student # 1: Please give him a place to live; a safe, clean, warm place to go home to each day where he can keep his things without losing them, have a decent meal, a bath, and get a good night's sleep. Clean laundry would be good, too.

Student # 2: His case worker is searching for his 8th foster home in 3 years. Let them find someone who will keep him, in spite of the difficulty and stress he brings to their lives, because he's almost out of time. He's been diagnosed with a bunch of stuff, and classified, at the age of 11, as a budding sexual predator, following in the footsteps of the abusive father he was taken away from way too late. If he's not going to grow into an abuser or spend his life behind bars or both, someone has got to quit pushing him away and be there. NOW.

Student # 3: His parents are divorcing, and his mom has announced to him that she's glad to be free, and never wants to see him again. His dad is overwhelmed, angry, and lacks parenting skills. He cares, but doesn't know how to provide the kid with stability, with that combination of love, patience, structure, and firmness that he needs right now. The kid is deeply angry, lashing out at the world, and is also on the more extreme end of ADHD.

Student # 4: A nice kid, a loving, if somewhat chaotic and scattered, family; he is smart, funny, fun, and lost in a cloud of disorganized confusion. He can't ever find what he needs. He walks down the hall with an armload of unorganized stuff, leaving a trail of papers, pencils, etc. behind him. This is not an exaggeration. He gets out of his seat every 2 minutes, on average, because he just remembered something that has nothing whatsoever to do with whatever he's supposed to be working on. He doesn't remember anything he's been told, even when he's been told every day for a month, until you tell him again, and he says, "Oh, yeah." He doesn't know which side of his paper is the front side, or what a margin is for, or how to write on lines.

Student # 5: A wonderful, engaging young man walking to the beat of a different drummer; reasonable intelligence, but completely uninterested in anything remotely academic or intellectual; has mastered the art of escaping into his fantasy world in any setting, while looking like he's engaged in whatever he is supposed to be doing. Will good-naturedly spend a little time on a task if I sit next to him and talk him through it, keeping him out of his own world and trying to learn, but only while I'm there totally focused on him. As soon as I move onto another student, he is "gone" again.

Students # 6, 7, 8 and 9: Drug babies raised by grandparents. Not related; 4 different sets of grandparents. Severe problems with focus, organization, and the ability to llisten, read and communicate clearly in spoken or written form.

Student # 10: Dad has never been in the picture, wasn't interested in being a father. Mom was more interested in partying, and dumped him off at her parents, never to be heard from again. He's spent the last 6 years being shuttled from one family member to another, NONE OF WHOM WANTED HIM, and moving from school to school as his living circumstances changed again. He's a nice kid. He's lovable. I don't know why his family doesn't love him, but this kid needs some therapy and a stable home.

Student # 11: Suffers from chronic depression; divorced parents are too busy fighting to get him the help he needs.

Student # 12: Doesn't eat at lunch because parents don't send her with food or money. Doesn't eat breakfast at home, either. I keep her supplied with "snacks" that I allow anyone to eat in class.

Student # 13: Suffers from anxiety disorder that severely impacts her ability to function academically. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I spend copious amounts of time "conferencing" with mom about it, and mom is usually crying and/or ranting, because her anxiety levels about the kid are more extreme than her daughter's. Mental health services are not included in the families insurance.

That's enough to go with; I could list a whole lot more. Whatever it takes: Where's the food, the stability, the love, the counseling and therapy, and the smaller setting with more one-on-one support that these students need?

I think calling people trolls

without naming names is chickenshit, myself.

I also think acting like an enraged middle schooler on crack, spewing hate, poor spelling, lots of ugly names, and way too many exclamation points, is a juvenile, tasteless, and clueless way to make a point which mirrors the worst of the freepers, tea partiers, and right wing "morans" that this site is supposed to oppose.

If you have a problem with something someone posts, why not say so to them, directly, countering their position with evidence and logic? Why "sneak up on" them with personal attacks?

Not only do I have friends who are Republicans,

I have friends who aren't human.

Some of my best friends aren't human.

I have friends who are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents. Christians, Jews, Muslims, athiests, pagans of various sorts, agnostics...even skeptics. All races, many cultures, many creeds.

Friendship is a positive human characteristic. There are so many destructive human characteristics, all based in hate, fear, and greed. I don't want to feed the worst that people are capable of, so I do my best not to indulge in hate, fear, and greed.

It seems like so many LIKE to hate. They CRAVE hate. They are addicted to hate. When one source of hate becomes socially or politically incorrect, they find other ways to hate.

Politically, hate is celebrated. It's celebrated by the party faithful. It's celebrated at Free Republic. It's celebrated at DU.

I often hear political opponents referred to as "sociopaths," "psychopaths," etc..

I have to say that I think attachment to hate is a kind of mental illness.

I think hating others is one way weak, insecure people put themselves "up:" by putting other's down. It's an immature emotional response that evolved people work through in adolescence and leave behind when they become adults.

Or they should.

Seeing people as fellow flawed and beautiful human beings, having empathy for humanity, especially for their lacks, is necessary for personal evolution, and for the positive evolution of the species.

Friends? I connect with my friends through our commonalities, not our differences. I try to be sensitive to when it's a good idea to air differences, and when it's better to let them lie. I'm old enough to have been raised on this code: leave politics and religion out of social conversations. When it IS time to respond to someone who has political, religious, or philosophic differences, I've found that responding gently, respectfully, and leaving them with food for thought and no reason to escalate the topic is usually pretty effective.

Especially when we walk our talk for the world to see.
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