A Suggestion for Jane Fonda

So now Jane Fonda’s trying to apologize for doing her part in Vietnam.

Bad move. They’ll never accept your apology.

In fact, I can assure you this: some people gain in self-esteem and power by hating others. Other people aren’t set up for forgive certain acts. And quite a few of them would find their world emptied of meaning if they forgave you for what you did.

Here’s what you need to do: Tell them “Fuck you, then!” and move on.

Not publicly, mind you. Just to yourself.

You’ve done your part, and just because many of the people you apologized to would only be satisfied with a horrific death after elongated, painful, torture (whether from them, the Viet Cong, God or some rare, painful disease) doesn’t mean you have to degrade yourself further for their sake.

Oh, and by the way: we could care less about your self-insecurities. Some of us have disabilities (physical and psychological) holding us back, others have to deal daily with other’s problems, and others have made bad decisions that cause us problems to this day. Somebody’s temporary insecurities that cause them to pause from moment to moment of megafame is not going to make any of us weep or say “poor girl.” Get over it.


The State Of Chicago Poetry is WHAT???

My fellow poets,

I am happy to report that the state of Chicago Poetry is good, very, very good.

CJ, CJ, CJ…as much as I respect the fact that you’ve dedicated good time to keeping us up-to-date on the Chicago Poetry Scene; I must disagree with you. Things are as dim for Chicago Poetry as I’ve ever seen the scene. And I’ve seen some really dead scenes in my day.

It’s not that people aren’t trying, God knows. I know you do your best, as others do. And I can only claim seven years of knowledge on what went on around here. But I know what I see, and what I see isn’t necessarily good.

There’s much less out there than before. I know Wednesdays used to have three or four venues going on, and I used to have to decide which venue to go to Fridays. Look at the other dates, I’m sure you remember more venues going on any day of the week.

Plus there’s less on the radio than used to be. Yes, I know you now do podcasts, but it’s not the same — we’ve lost the chance that someone will stumble on one of our poets on the radio and LIKE them.

Some of the old standbys are still going on, thankfully enough. Weeds, The Cafe, The Green Door, Coffee Chicago — all are good venues still going on. However, there are other venues which have gone and haven’t been replaced. Venues which are missed more strongly because there’s nothing to replace them with.

And that’s why I have to disagree with you, CJ, over the above comment. I know what I see, even from my distant perch of Munster, Indiana.

Shuttle Launch

NASA Launch Debris Images

I remember visiting Cape Canaveral about three years ago, during a vacation. When we passed by an old external fuel tank, the hostess told us that they used to have the whole thing covered with metal, but when they figured they didn’t need the covering, they saved thousands of dollars in fuel.

Then came that wintery Saturday in 2003, when I turned on the TV and saw Mission Control looking as it usually does, but a voice-over said they’d lost contact with Columbia. Sure enough, I turned out to be the first to tell a group of people there the news, in part because many of them had been there the night before and I just got there.

Turns out the unprotected insulation (protection removed to save fuel during launch, it turns out) punched a hole in the leading edge of the left wing of the Columbia. The shuttle didn’t have a chance (although once again the cockpit was the last item to fall apart, in a cruel twist of fate leaving the humans to know they were doomed).

So now I’m watching the prelude to today’s launch (would be at work; as it turns out I had something else to do) and I notice there’s been an adjusted form of the last setup. While they supposedly didn’t have any foam in the area from where the chunk that hit Columbia fell, they still had the insulating foam sitting naked on the launch pad.

With eight million changes supposedly done to make sure things were better, the one change that I wanted to see was the one thing not done. How long before the next deaths? I see NASA puts the risk at 1 per 100 launches. Add the cover, you can increase that number to at least 1 in 250, maybe better.

What Daley Will Be Remembered For

For me, the litmus test for Daley is this:

When the Elder Daley wanted to create a new University for the city of Chicago, he looked over a bunch of sites near the loop. Of all the sites, only one area was considered safe enough to go into at night: Greektown, a strong base of Daley support. Daley said “To hell with them” and built the university over much of Greektown.

The only way he left office was in a casket.

As for the younger Daley, he waned to build a new airport in Chicago. When he looked over the area, he realized it would be built over the largest white area in South Chicago. Too chickenshit to do anything down there, he turned around and started blocking the Peotone proposal.

Thing is, had he gone ahead with the building of the Hegewisch airport, we might be getting a workable schedule for the rebuilding of the O’Hare Airport. That southern airport would make for a much more airplane-friendly Midway (ever seen how tightly things are packed there? They have to use engines in overdrive to stop the planes), and could even work overtime as O’Hare was rebuilt into a modern airport.

But…instead we got him trying to block Peotone while rebuilding O’Hare in his image.

In the end, Mr. Daley will be remembered well (as people will have to, as they’ve kept him in office too long to think objectively about him) but don’t be surprised is he misses the “Best of Chicago” list by a wide margin. He’s a good administrator, but when things NEED to be done he’s not the person to do them.

Sunday Song Lyrics: Improper Dancing

By Electric Six

Everybody’s doin’, what they shouldn’t be doin
Everybody’s doin’ it in the middle of the street
Everybody’s movin’ what they shouldn’t be movin
Everybody’s moving it in the middle of the street

Improper dancing in the middle of the street [x3]
Somebody better notify the cheif of police

Everybody’s freakin’ who they shouldn’t be freakin
Everybody’s freakin’ in the middle of the street
Everybody’s showin’ What they shouldn’t be showin
Everybody’s showin’ it in the middle of the street

Improper dancing in the middle of the street [x3]
Man those people must have demons livin in their feet

And I want to reach into the fire of your heart
I want to program all those beats right from the start
Have you ever been to NEW YORK CITY?!

And music starts to play (play)
Bodies start to sway (sway)
Debbie Lee’s the DJ in the middle of the street
Beats are droppin; Bodies rockin
Hearts are stoppin; Electric shockin
I can’t believe what I am seeing
In the middle of the street

Improper dancing in the middle of the street [x3]
Somebody better notify the cheif of police



If nothing else, the lead singer makes you pay attention. I love the “Stop — CONTINUE” part, wish it had come in the bridge part of the song, or to introduce the third verse.

Why Daley will go down…

Remember Meigs field?

I do.

I also remember the day it was torn up.

I found out when I made it to work (I was working at a business that made news for people). When I entered, the TV was on and on it was a picture of a couple of runways with big “X”s torn through them. Then I saw Mayor Daley blustering on about the safety of the nearby skyscrapers being why he tore up the airport.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thing is, when he tore up Meigs field, he had just won an election where there were three people ballot but for all intensive purposes he was unopposed. And it wasn’t that anyone of any clout wouldn’t run against him, it was that there was nobody of enough clout to run against him. That’s probably why he felt safe enough to tear up the airport in preparation for a casino on the island (or so I still believe).Thing is, there were four guys who were in run-offs. I don’t know whether he felt things were in the bag or whether he figured he could do without them, but he tore up Meigs Field the day before the run-off elections. And guess what: all four of the men he “supported” lost.

And after that? Well…look at the headlines. All the corruption in Chicago (it’s a big city, there’d be corruption even if it was run by fundamentalists on a vow of poverty and chastity) is now pointing up in his direction, and even if there was nothing being done by him, he’s gonna be stuck with the responsibility. Already there’s plenty of people hoping to get at him, that field will be narrowed down to two or three (maybe one, if everyone gets together and agrees to cooperate).

More on Daley Later

The Strange, Sad Story of Madalyn Murray O’Hair

I remember first hearing about the disappearance of Madalyn Murray OHair and her family (of the willing) a few years after the deed. When the subject came around, I felt she had been murdered, as she would not have just gone quiet. A friend disagreed, believing they were living elsewhere with lots of money, far from scrutiny.

Turned out that, while I was right, there were plans along my friend’s line of reasoning, and it could easily have been the other way around.

Of course, what’s interesting is not of the murder, but the way she lived. She was belligerent to the point that even her ideological allies were made uncomfortable, and seemed to take pleasure in doing things to piss people off. Indeed, it seemed the only people who could put up with her were ex-cons; and Madalyn seemed to like hiring them because they were easy to abuse and cheap.

But you know the rule: You Get What You Pay For.Read More »

Home Schooling 4: Differences in Public Schools, 1955-2005

One thing that always bugs me when it comes to debates: When people make an effort to narrow the focus to the immediate question by forgetting important information. As I noted in one of my earliest blog entries, there was ten plus years of what was an occupation of Iraq without it being called as such, and in many ways what we’re going through in that would have happened anyway.

Same with the Home-Schooling stuff. Everyone doing it seems to forget what has happened in the meantime — both the home-schoolers who, having started on their home schooling odyssey, have come to believe that children would be better off totally uneducated than suffer through public schools, and the anti’s who have come to believe that the 1964 Madalyn Murray OHair ruling is the only possible explanation for their flight from the world.

There’s more to this than any of the above. There’s also the mythology that our public schools have been in a decline since the mid fifties — something which even those supporting our public schools believe in some form or fashion. And much of this is steeped in ignorance of (at least some part of) what has happened since:

  • Public schools used to be able to depend on a cheap, educated, settled source for their employees: College Graduated Wives, who had few options for jobs in the fifties. Since then, expanded opportunities for women have forced schools to spend more money on teachers and accept a lower quality of teacher. Now, many schools are hitting on a new angle: “People who’ve made some success in their lives, but want to serve the public good.” A sure sign of desperation in this society, where anything outside of a strict devotion to the personal bottom line is by definition suspect.
  • There has developed a tradition of dissing schools in the United States. From rappers talking trash about school to MLM exploiters talking about how all the richest men in the world either dropped out (of Yale, Harvard or Stanford) or never attended school, America has learned the joys of dissing school. This when all the other industrialized and industrialized-wannabee nations of the world are pouring their love and money into all their school systems.
  • Social Promotion. When I went to school (in the seventies and early eighties), a lot of my fellow students had been held back a grade or two, and it had been used as a threat on my parents. Now these school districts are so worried about holding students back that they let kids who would benefit from an extra year of school go up with the rest. Stupidity grows amongst the whole of the student body from that.
  • Entitlement (interrelated with the point directly above). Nowadays students and their parents expect automatic promotions up grades. So much so that sometimes the parents will yell at, threaten and even assault a teacher who THREATENS to fail a student. That student should be ashamed, but here’s the parents making him feel proud by their defense of him.
  • School buildings need so much more today.Used to be you built a cinder-blocked building with windows, blackboards, desks, some pipes for heating and a plaque stating the name of the school and when it was dedicated. Now you gotta have air conditioning, computers and the wiring for broadband, architectural stylings, enough parking space for the parents driving their SUVs to pick up the children, multiple gyms (so that you can give kids recess in the rain) and tin roofs.
  • Funding Changes. Used to be schools were funded solely by local property taxes and while it wasn’t a perfect form of funding, the majority school districts were able to get what they needed. Nowadays much of the funding comes from Sales Taxes and Lotteries. Sales taxes are a good idea as it gives a centralized point of equal funding for rich and poor districts; but the Lottery is a stain on School Funding by virtue of its being a Sin Tax. And any service which depends on another’s sins is automatically sullied by this relation.

Understand this: I am a supporter of public schools. Fact is, the education of the children is something that everyone should be interested in, and it’s amazing the jobs lost because of how uneducated Americans have become.

Sunday Song: Bad Time

(Note: I’m taking a break in my “Home Schooling” postings. Will post the fourth part tomorrow)

song done by Grand Funk Railroad, written by Mark Farner

I’m in love with a girl that I’m talking about
I’m in love with a girl I can’t live without
I’m in love but I sure picked a bad time
To be in love, to be in love

Well, let her be someone else’s queen
I don’t want to know about it
There’s too many others that know what I mean
And that’s why I’ve got to live without it
I’m in love with a girl I’m talking about
I’m in love with a girl I can’t live without
I’m in love but I feel like I’m wearing it out
I’m in love but I must have picked a bad time to be in love
A bad time to be in love
A bad time to be in love
A bad time to be in love

Well, the stories crawling back to me
From my friends and the people that I wanna see
The things they say I know just couldn’t be true
At least not until I hear it from you
‘Cause I still love the little girl, I’m talking about
I’m in love with a girl I can’t live without
I’m in love but I feel like I’m wearing it out
I’m in love but I must have picked a bad time to be in love
A bad time to be in love
A bad time to be in love

You know that I love the little girl I’m talking about
I’m in love with a girl I can’t live without
I’m in love but it feels like I’m wearing it out
I’m in love but I must have picked a bad time to be in love
A bad time to be in love
A bad time to be in love
A bad time to be in love

For those not in the know, Grand Funk Railroad (sadly, the train looks like it’s derailing) is a band formed in Flint, Michigan in the late 1960’s. Despite bad reviews and little radio airplay, the band was a major success through the early seventies. Looking at the timeline it’s amazing that the band was able to release two LPs a year in the early seventies; nowadays once every two years is considered excessive.

Home Schooling 3: Why you might consider it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still believe we’d better improve the public schools (and no, unlike most conservatives I don’t believe that LESS money is the way to do so). However, I must admit that there is plenty to say in favor of home schooling:

  1. Full focus on the child, vs teachers scattered over 30-150 students
    quite simply even the most dedicated elementary teacher has to spread his/her time amongst twenty-thirty students. And if your student is one of the good students, your child will be ignored for the problem child, the child not quite getting it, and the cranky ones. High school, the same teacher has to juggle two-three different classes for 150 people and make sure there’s enough for the average child to make it, with little or no time to help someone having trouble over a single point. As a home-schooling parent, you can see what you child needs and go straight to it.
  2. Child can run forward in a subject if he wants to.
    Sounds like a horror story you hear from the right, but a then-friend (I lost track of her soon after) said she was pissed over a teacher who said the student was too far ahead, and had to forget some stuff to fit in the classroom.
  3. You teach what you want
    While it’s obvious what the christian right wants taught (six days of creation is exactly 144 hour long, if it’s human and has a heartbeat it’s filled with holy life, etc); there is something to be said about deciding what your child should know. After all, you do have a responsibility towards the child, why not give him the best you can?
  4. Follow your child in his interests
    Here’s where home-schooling can really shine. If a child has an interest in a subject vastly different from the normal cirriculum and you see its worthiness, YOU CAN LET HIM/HER GO THERE! This is something public schools just cannot do, as they’re stuck with having to deal with a group of students, not just a single one.

You will need lots of dedication and interest, though. Plus you’d better have a strong connection to both family and an outside community.

This is why home schooling is a conservative Christian phenomenon, and will stay so until it gathers enough steam to disrupt public schooling (which I say it can do, and am guessing it WANTS to do). Liberals are totally fixated on everyone’s “Freedoms” that they give short shrift to responsibilities and community. Libs talk about “a diverse community” when in fact a community is based on SHARED ASSUMPTIONS, BELIEFS AND HABITS — something Liberals abhor, and something which conservative christians come by easily, since they attend church and make friends within that group. Christians also reach out among themselves, both within denominations and outside of them.

Also, too many liberals have learned to take the easy way out — depend on the government and other paid tools to give them what they want. Conservative Christians, despite certain mistakes, are learning to depend on themselves; that has served them in the past and may serve them in the future. After all, one of the complaints in latter-day Rome was that the infrastrucure was falling apart and Rome was losing people, but the people still in Rome were kept entertained and happy.

Next: differences in public Schools from 1950 until today