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Name: Mister Rea
Gender: Male
Hometown: Houston
Home country: Moon
Current location: afk
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 47,191

About Me

mostly harmless

Journal Archives

As a teacher, let me tell you why arming teachers won't work. (a rant)

(1) It's dangerous. It's not a stretch to say most teachers would be gun wielding newbies. And newbies make mistakes; accidents will happen. And sure, most teachers will just say, "Not me" and refuse to go to class armed.
One reason we have to make public policy is that people sometimes exercise bad judgment. We have unemployment insurance because people pick the wrong jobs for themselves. We have homeless shelters because some people fall into poverty and can't maintain a home. We accept people into emergency rooms, even if they can't pay, when they've made dumb mistakes on motorcycles or while using pruning sheers.
To err is human. To be unforgiving and say, "Screw you for being irresponsible; you don't deserve help" is to stand in polar opposition to basic human civility.
And so, when inevitably, when you hand a bunch of noobs DOE approved classroom guns, even if they've gone through a 10-hour two-weekend course in basic gun safety, you're gonna have incidents--including accidentally discharged weapons around minors. You're gonna have lawsuits, you're gonna have injuries, you're gonna disrupt the fundamental relationship of in loco parentis that defines a teacher's care for their students.

(2) It's reckless. Teachers are role models. Yes, even to recalcitrant teenagers, they behave in ways that students will inevitably emulate. And students emulate teachers not just because they're young, but because students are humans. In a society, we constantly renegotiate norm references. When a leader does a thing, it sends a message to all those in their community that that behavior is normal, acceptable, desirable.
Historians often wonder why there was a resurgence of the KKK during World War One, particularly when this was still the middle of the Progressive Era. One critical answer was that there was a reform minded, otherwise liberal president who also just so happened to be a complete racist. Wilson perversely thought both his good government initiatives and his nationalizing of Jim Crow standards, including the full segregation of the civil service. In stark contrast to his two equally progressive predecessors, Wilson sent down the message from high office that racism was a-okay. The populace followed suit. When a minister of a church embezzles, when a president inveighs against official corruption, when a mayor steps up and says "let's be compassionate to our city's homeless," when a company says either "let's give to our community's charities" or "let's lie on our annual reports," the people whom they lead tend to follow suit. Role models matter because humans are a gregarious animal.
And so if teachers model packing heat on campus, their young charges will follow. The example alone will encourage students, other staff, parent & community volunteers to do the same. Guns are powerful alluring things. If teachers conceal carry, others will conceal carry, even if the rules forbid it. That's how people are. And conflicts over those rule violations will happen--unnecessary conflicts. And other normal school-based conflicts between teens or between students and staff, will turn into armed conflicts. Normalizing guns on campus is chumming the waters.

(3) It's stupid. Students are rules testers. They are boundary testers. It's what immature adolescents and pre-adolescents do. Schools are little sociological sandboxes where young people discover what it's like to exist as a person within a bureaucratic organization. And one of those rules they test is 'Thou shalt not steal.' Kids steal things all the time. And of course they usually get caught--but not always. And a gun, being the alluring, powerful thing that it is, will draw the attention of many young kleptomaniacs. This happens even in "safe" and "nice" schools, cause Five-Fingerism afflicts representative cross sections of American society.
Ask any teacher. Kids steal art supplies. They steal dry erase markers. They steal books from the lending library and calculators from the plastic shoe tree hangers in the class closet. They sure as hell go after any cell phones the teacher has confiscated from other students.
Can you imagine a middle school classroom where one or two guys aren't distracted by their teacher's gat peeking out of her coat? Or where the art teacher, needing to quickly switch over to a smock for the next project, somehow forgets to lock his desk when he temporarily moves his Sigsauer into the file drawer? It'll be a daily, unnecessary threat to classroom safety, multiplied daily by 10,000 classrooms across the country. Shit will go down and conflicts will ensue.

(4) It's uninformed. Think about all the minority youths and young adults who've been shot by police, many of whom were unarmed. But often even an armed civilian can and should be interdicted by the law without the police resorting to legal force. The internet's replete with images of armed white suspects being detained and cuffed. It's the oldest story in human civilization; the armed force of the state being used to control the unruly or nonconforming individual. But there's something in the American character that makes race a major determiner of how lethal a force the police are willing to exert to maintain order (tho not always law and order).

Do you image that teachers, gifted with the tools of tolerance and a philosophy of inclusion and equality, are going to behave with less racial discrimination than police will? I fear you imagine wrong. But it gets so much worse when you arm a bunch of teachers. Like it or not, police and teachers share one characteristic in the range of job duties they perform. Both professions require a public employee to assert control over a variety of civilian situations. A good cop will be in control of street confrontation, should the need arise. The good teacher is in control of her classroom while students pursue often individual learning events.

But the critical difference is that when confrontations arise, the police officer usually has the luxury of giving 100% of his focus on the individual needing to be contained, controlled, or corralled, when the peace of the community is at contention. And yet even with all their training, all too often police officers go into territorial mode and use too much force, too much lethal force, to control the people they confront. All too often the result leads to a hail of bullets flying about the open street. Sometimes the wrong innocent bystanders get struck by.

Now translate that same dynamic to a classroom. Only where a cop is charged with controlling a single situation with one or two agitated people (and even then, often reacting wrong and resorting to force), the teacher is often in a purposefully and creatively chaotic environment with multiple distractions, a plethora of moving parts, a thousand distractions going on simultaneously in enclosed space. -Great self-directed learning occurs in situations that may look (and often come close to) true chaos. Good teachers are taught to toe up to that line because that is where actively learning happens. Good teachers know how to still keep it safe, but of course sometimes things don't work out perfect. Kids are still kids. Should a heated incident arise, as happens with younger teens and their rollicking hormones, then reasserting control becomes important for the safely of the students that the teacher's responsible for.

And so, inevitably, when some kid with issues at home or some poorly controlled rough-housing slips in among the 30 active learning arcs playing out simultaneously, some teacher, with only a tiny fraction of the armed peace officer's training and experience, amid the confusion and the need to redirect the chaos, is going to over react.

And sadly, the human character is such, that if you put a tool in a person's hands, they will use that tool--even if it's very much the wrong tool. This human propensity is why the militarization of police forces since 2001 has led to the occasional, but periodic, misapplication of force. If you give cops urban assault vehicles, they'll use UAVs to resolve street situations even when hindsight discloses that a lesser application of force would have been better. This are all too frequent errors of judgment made by experienced, senior police officials. A rookie teacher with a gun trying to function in a stress-filled rambunctious class in a desperate moment will inevitably, tragicomically, and periodically make the same mistake. They'll have that perfect storm moment that all new teachers experience several times in their young careers and the gun will come out. Or a kid will grab for it. Or it'll fall from their holster. Or, if it's locked up, it'll be nudged out of the broom closet or off the book shelf and the box will pop open.

They'll be trained not to overreact, they'll be trained how to defuse these moments... and some times the training won't work.

How often will it happen? Once or twice a year across the country? Once or twice a month? I have no idea, but how many people are killed by armed curious toddlers every year? It sounds like a ridiculous premise, right? And yet in a typical year more Americans are killed by toddlers than terrorists. I know it sounds like a joke. But dumb things happen all the time in life. Especially in schools. I can't count the number of idiotic (and in hindsight laughable) incidents that could have been dangerous over the course of my 20+ year career. All teachers know what I'm talking about. Those moments are rare, but there are a million classrooms in America. Putting a gun in even 10% of them will inevitably produce, at regular intervals, needless tragedies.

And of course doing so won't do anything toward preventing yet another mass-shooting incident like we've saw in Florida last week. The worst part of the president's suggestion is that it's irrelevant to the problem we're all worried about. It's not just a band-aid on a wound; it's a band-aid on a wound put on the wrong knee. To sum up:

* Arming teacher won't prevent any shootings
* It's highly unlikely to even foreshorten any shooting sprees.
* It's damned likely to create circumstances in which new shootings occur.
* It's going to encourage a lot of people who shouldn't have gun to try out carrying one anyway.
and finally
* It's just another Republican thoughtless dodge ginned up without any thought applied to consequences or scale of funding.

Don't give me a gun.

facebook is down. Every time that happens, I assume North Korea has nuked us

Is this just me, or do other people go there too? Is this what adjusting to the reality of a "President Trump" looks like?

Yeah, all this bickering between Hillary and Bernie loyalists is pretty depressing.

I teach teenagers. I see them getting into these idiot feuds and pointless disputes about what happened last week all the time. I used to think, "Meh, they'll grow up and get over it eventually."

I'm starting to wonder if growing up is a hopelessly retro concept.

Vocabulary for the Age of Trump #1: "state capture"


Get used to this term. You're gonna see a lot of it in the next 4 years and it'll be nice to be able to call it something.

from Wikipedia:
[font size="4"]State capture is a type of systemic political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a state's decision-making processes to their own advantage through unobvious channels, that may not be illegal.

The influence may be through a range of state institutions, including the legislature, executive, ministries and the judiciary. It is thus similar to regulatory capture but differs through the wider variety of bodies through which it may be exercised and because, unlike regulatory capture, the influence is never overt.

Another distinguishing factor from corruption is while in case of corruption the outcome (of policy or regulatory decision) is not certain, in case of captured state the outcome of the decision is known and is to very high probability to be beneficial for captors of the state. Also in case of corruption (even rampant) there is plurality and competition of 'corruptors' to influence the outcome of the policy or distribution of resources. In case of captured state, those deciding are usually more in a position of agents to the principals (captors) who function either in monopolistic or oligopolistic (non-competitive) fashion.[/font]

"Captors" we should understand to mean the people who have captured the state. That is, people who didn't just assume offices of trust, but interred those offices with a specific intent to plunder the public wealth. A minor example is how Trump used his position as nominee of the Republican Party to put money in his pockets--renting out his private property (plane, Trump Tower office suites, resort hotel) to the GOP apparatus at highly inflated rates.

The looting of the GOP, of course, will pale in comparison to the looting of the federal treasury. This has already started with Secret Service needing to set up shop in Trump Tower. Of course it's perfectly reasonable and indeed necessary for the President's home to be protected. But Trump seems to be charging the government the same rates he was charging the RNC, a rate about 8 times higher than what he charged his own campaign organization before he got nominated.

So, yeah, corruption refers to using government authority to line the pockets of the office holders. State capture is when that's the whole point of entering government, rather than serving the public.

It's gonna get ugly, folks. Strap in.

I am from the Blutarsky wing of the Democratic party

I'm in the mood that I don't want Obama to pardon either of those fuckin' turkeys

Fry them both, I say. Pluck their little stupid feathers out, guillotine their stinkin' necks, and stuff 'em both. Grrrr....

The 96 year cycle

For devotees of American history, looking for a pattern of past events to judge and anticipate the incoming Trump Administration by, I'm going to suggest we look at the Harding Administration (1921-1923)

Tidbits from U-S-History.com. The parallels should just jump out at you

Domestic Affairs:
The undisputed goal of the Harding administration was to use governmental powers to assist American business and industry to prosper ó a trend that had begun during World War I and accelerated during the New Era of the 1920s.

Election of 1920:
The American electorate turned against Wilsonian idealism and interventionism and embraced a "return to normalcy" promised by Warren G. Harding.

A postwar economic downturn begun under Wilson continued into the early months of the Harding administration.

Emergency Tariff Act (May 1921).
Stop-gap aid was extended to U.S. farmers until a more comprehensive tariff measure could be written.

Immigration Restriction Act (May 1921).
Congressional immigration reform introduced the first use of a quota system.

Budget and Accounting Act (June 1921).
Congress granted broad powers over the preparation of annual federal budgets.

Revenue Act of 1921 (November 1921).
Treasury Secretary Mellon won only a partial victory in his quest for tax reduction.

Fordney-McCumber Tariff (September 1922).
A blatantly protective tariff answered the pleas of many American producers, but sharply reduced overall foreign trade.

Resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan:
The reappearance of the Klan was evidence of some Americans' resistance to a fast-changing postwar world. The new organization targeted more groups and movements than had the original during Reconstruction.

Harding, of course, ended up running one of the three most corrupt administrations in US history (rivaling and possibly surpassing those of US Grant and George W. Bush). An essentially lazy and shallow man (with a weakness for the ladies) he may have gotten elected by promising to take things back to the way things used to be, but his real weakness was in relying on too small a pool of advisors who misdirected him and held too much sway over his final decisions. Or indecisions, more often than not. Warren Harding was in over his head.

His lack of hands on management and the time period's emphasis on wealth-as-success led to his appointment of a bunch of crooked and venial underlings who sought every opportunity to use high office to loot the country. They were far from being the Republican Party's best and brightest. Harding valued personal loyalty over actual competence (or maybe just lacked the mental acumen to tell who was competent and who wasn't). A lackadaisical press corps more or less played along, with a few exceptions, because a war-weary society, still jumpy after a series terrorism attacks by foreigners, was disinterested in following the details of the little scandals. The scandals just slowly piled up in the young administration's first two years.

In some places, the coincidences are uncanny. In other cases they don't quite play out in such parallel details. The bigger trend to look toward the future is the extent to which Trump's 3rd stringers and lobby jockeys go all Teapot Dome on us. His big projects like wall building, infrastructure rebuilding, immigrant monitoring and controlling, and deregulation of industry safety standards will be full of opportunities and temptations for official corruption. It will be a circus of corruption. It will take loads of poking from activists to get the mainstream media to pay attention to it.

This is where we at Du will be able to play a role. We must become an echo chamber to raise some noise--from here and then spreading out to all other parts of the internet and broadcast media--about the corruption in Washington.

Barack Obama in Kenya at 27 "A Journey in Black and White" (A Film by Auma Obama)

This is a film I've heard about, but never seen. It shows a young Barack and Michelle before they married visiting the Obama family in rural Kenya and exploring Luo and Kenyan culture. He's a thoughtful young man, an American abroad, and an experienced community organizer seeing the potential and impediments in a society struggling with its colonial legacy.

Sadly, the YouTube version has been watermarked by some western party. But it's well worth the 20 minutes out of your life to see this.

I hear the Flat Earth Society has members all around the world

When you fly from California to Japan, you get in an airplane, sure, but then what happens is that the plane flies up over the clouds and is then up in the air for a mysteriously long time. Have you ever wondered why that is? A VERY long time. See, you start to wonder--why are we up above the clouds, where we can't see the surface below? What are they trying to hide? Could it be that the whole time, the PLANE IS FLYING EASTWARD, over Europe and Asia, to create the illusion that we're going "around" the "globe", but they don't want you to see the TRUTH?!

And then, while you're up in that flight, if you go to see the compass in the pilot's cabin to prove the whole thing... what happens? They won't let you in! And if you bang and bang and bang on the cockpit door and DEMAND TO SEE THE TRUTH, they'll call security--and they're always dressed like stewardess but they always seem SURPRISINGLY STRONG!! and instead of simply letting you in and prove their so-called "westward" flight, they drag you back to your seat, humiliating you in front of the other passengers and YOUR OWN GRANDMOTHER and tie you to your chair with zip ties... and where did those zip ties come from? Why would they even have them if they didn't have something to hide? Have you ever noticed that?

Don't believe what they want you to believe, my friend. You've got to fight for your freedom. Vote Jill Stein!

WaPo: If you remind people they're going to die one day, they tend to like Trump better


This might be the darkest theory yet about why Donald Trump keeps winning

The reminders arenít explicit, and they probably arenít part of an intentional strategy. All the same, much of Trumpís rhetoric could have the effect of bringing his viewersí omnipresent fear of death closer to their conscious minds, according to Sheldon Solomon, a psychologist at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

That includes his emphasis on terrorism, unsurprisingly, but also his preoccupation with immigration. This focus might be helping Trump, since Solomonís recent research shows that people who are thinking about death are more likely to say they support him. Study subjects who were prompted to talk about their own death later rated their support for Trump 1.66 points higher on a five-point scale than those who were prompted to talk about pain generally.

ďIím not suggesting that any of this is calculated, but almost everything that he does is demonstrably effective for raising these non-conscious, existential concerns that in turn make his kind of candidacy all the more alluring,Ē Solomon said.

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