Saturday, February 26, 2011

What Women Should Be Allowed To Do

I have spent years trying to get conservatives to provide a checklist stating what activities and traits women are supposed to have and which ones we're supposed to avoid. I want a concrete definition of "feminine," straight from the self-described experts on the subject. Mostly what I get are Potter Stewart blathers about, well, stuff. So, I'm going to ask the Internet for help on this subject. I've learned from one John C. Wright that that being taller than a man isn't feminine. All women really long for someone taller, which would surprise a number of Hollywood starlets who married short and ugly producers, but maybe starlets aren't good study subjects.

The Wright article is one giant pile of fail, which deserves a longer take-down, but I'm slowing returning to blogging so this is just the beginning.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Eating the seed corn

The Austin school district administration has in its very finite wisdom decided to balance its budge by firing teachers, especially foreign language, music, and art teachers. Bowie High School is eliminating German, meaning 135 students will be stranded for their REQUIRED foreign language credit. 135 is too many kids for the existing teachers to absorb, so the school will probably have to hire another teacher anyway. The feeder middle schools will probably eliminate German as well and won't replace it with another language, so I suppose that will save some money.

Now, this might be defensible in other places, but Austin pays its superintendent nearly $250,000 per year, plus another godawful amount in allowances, perks, and benefits. Maria Castarphen, the current bench-warmer in the office, is therefore among the top 5% earners in the country, in the same leagues as big-deal CEO, and the same sort of vampire on society. Cutting her salary in half still puts her in the top 10% earners in the country and would save the salaries of at least three experienced teachers. That, of course, is not an option, apparently because paying boatloads of money ensures us of, well, something.

Then there's the whole bit where Governor Hairball rejected $32 BILLION dollars in school assistance because Congress pegged it to classroom instruction. Our schools are going broke but we're not going to take the extra cash because Perry can't use it for things other than classroom instruction. Danke schoen, Governor. You'll have to ask my son to translate that though. He did get that far in the class he can't take anymore thanks to you.

I honestly cannot understand why some groups in this country have such a loathing of public education. Religious conservatives especially hate it, mostly based on their own idiot myths about what gets taught in schools. Do schools waste money? Sure, but so does every other entity that ever spends money, including the people who complain about schools.

Schools do something that a certain type of conservative really hates: they produce upward mobility. Not only do they provide knowledge and skills for making a living, but schools also provide information that allows students to improve their tastes and habits, mimicking the upper class. (Actually, given the behavior of today's moron socialites, the students have better taste and behavior.) Kids from the projects can learn Shakespeare; kids from the trailer park learn about Beethoven. Even if very few of these kids keep up the study for a lifetime, that's a few more than would have without the public schools. Those kids lives are immeasurably better for attending school.

That, in the minds of the current crop of Republicans is exactly the problem. They've been fighting a war against upward mobility for decades, by undermining unions, public benefits, college grants and funds, and especially public education. If the Unwashed Masses can get a good education and then go on to college, we UM's will displace their spoiled brats who then will have to distasteful things like study instead of get drunk or stoned on the weekends. Further, an educated populace isn't going to continue to consume the smelly dreck the Overlords spew as popular culture. No one who's ever read Shakespeare will buy Dan Brown or "Left Behind" novels. Listening to a good performance of the Brandenburg Concertos precludes listening to whatever crud Clear Channel's selling this week. If the populace develops good taste, then the Overlords will have to pay actual competent people to produce things, meaning less insane profit margins.

There aren't enough members of the Overlord class, however, to explain the hostility to public schools these days. There is something much more sinister afoot here: envy. Actually, the Latin word "invidia," which literally means "evil looks," is a better word for this attitude. "Invidia" was used by the early Christians who defined the 7 Deadly Sins to refer to the attitude of resenting another's good fortune or rejoicing in another's misery. This means more than being less-than-pleased when a friend gets a big promotion or buys a house or car. Invidia constantly tells us that its objects don't deserve those nice things and shouldn't have them, even when the envious person doesn't want or can't use what she envies.

How does invidia connect to a rejection of public schools? Easy. Some people are smarter than others, and some are more energetic than others. Stupid, lazy people find it uncomfortable to know that smart and energetic people exist, because the contrast between the smart and energetic and the lazy and stupid themselves makes the lazy and stupid look bad. The only place where the stupid and lazy can't escape the smart and energetic is the classroom. The stupid and lazy resent anything that shows that improvement is possible. If schools don't exist, then nothing would ever confront the stupid and lazy with their own deficiencies and failures. They're perfectly happy to make better people miserable if it makes themselves happy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's been a really long time

Since I've posted anything.