How to Make a Blomelet: Do Not Add Water

This entry is the first egg in a blog omelet, a “blomelet” if you will. A common phrase in our tempestuous and whimsical (tempestical? Hmmm, not sure about that one) is “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” One typically says this when he/she has to do something unpleasant to achieve some favorable result. In the case of the egg, the egg is broken – this is bad because there’s no going back, that egg is going to get cooked or will need to be thrown out. There’s also a chance for foodborne illness, a sad hen mourning the loss of another unfertilized embryo, and so on. The upshot to all this heartbreak is the savory omelet that will result.

That said, let me be the coiner of a new phrase – “you can’t make a blomelet without writing some suckass posts.”

That said, what you are reading is not the “blomelet”, but rather a suckass post that will serve as a sacrifice to the savory “blomelet”.

That said, I’ll be upfront – I’m out of practice, so this post will suck major ass, I need to shake the dust off. Again I say, you can’t make a blomelet without writing some suckass posts. How many suckass posts does it take to make a blomelet? Beats me.

That said, I will start this suckass post in earnest. Let me start by apologizing for this post and the dearth and sporadic publication of the last few entries. Moreover, I apologize for the lack of topical continuity. Part of the problem was all the squirrels and shiny things that distracted me from the purpose of this blog – to chronicle my “injourney”. To put that into perspective, my last entry was titled “Follower Analysis…and Some Hotdogs” and before that “The New Ramtha: a Short Story by JL Wilson – Read and Vote Please“. The former had to do with gaining my 100th follower, the latter was a short story I entered into a short story contest. Consistent I amn’t (why not? It works and you know it does). There was a time, in the long, long ago that I updated this blog weekly, I want to do AT LEAST that.

That said, this is my pledge to me that, henceforth, I will regularly contribute to this blog and the content will be topically relevant.
That said, I think it’s time for some fun facts, new and old, about Jarrett –

1. That said, here is the first fact – my injourney started about nine years ago when a number of factors, not least of which was a congenital malformation in my brainstem, caused a brain hemorrhage, festooning the Pons portion of my brainstem with blood.

a. That said, here’s a supporting fact for the first fact – much the same as water is toxic to the wicked witch, so blood is to neurons.

b. That said, here is a fact that further explains the first supporting fact of the first fact – how did the witch go so long without touching water? Did she bathe in her own spit or something? Yuck!

c. That said, I digress.

2. That said, here is the second fact – the episode described above with the blood, neurons and malignant female wizards caused a number of issues and disabilities that are still with me today.

3. That said, here is the third fact – I opted to have surgery to remove the cause of the hemorrhage to prevent future eruptions.

4. That said, here is the fourth fact – these two occurrences (the hemorrhage and surgery) have set me upon a lifelong “brain injourney”.

a. That said, here’s a supporting fact for the fourth fact – “brain injourney” is a clever portmanteau of “brain injury” and “journey”.

5. That said, here is the fifth fact – this blog is gluten-free. Eggs don’t contain gluten and neither do suckass blog posts.

a. That said, here is a supporting fact for the fifth fact – seriously, food manufacturers, the “gluten-free” labeling is getting ridiculous. I’ve seen it proudly stamped on a few products that are leagues away from gluten – I can’t remember any right now, but I’ll get back to you. It’s on the order of a peanut butter advertising that it’s “alcohol-free”.

b. That said, here is a fact that further explains the first supporting fact of the fifth fact – Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. Gluten is composed of two proteins, Gliadin, and glutenin. In the presence of water, this rascally duo conspires to form gluten. Gluten is what makes dough “doughy” and elastic. Some unfortunate souls cannot digest gluten properly, causing it to get stuck at various points along the gastrointestinal tract and bio-terrorize from the inside out (excessive gas, upset stomach, diarrhea, etc.).

c. That said, this is the last fact related to gluten, I’ll revisit this at a later date, it is a topic far too big for a few facts.

d. That said, here is a fact that further explains the second supporting fact for the fifth fact and connects it to the first supporting fact of the first fact and thus brings us full circle – water is a menace. It’s out there creating proteins that are indigestible, and cause some to experience gastrointestinal horrors just shy of an alien popping out of the belly. On top of that, it’s mercilessly killing the “wicked” witches (how wicked can one truly be when surrounded by cute little monkeys?) And if M. Night Shyamalamadingdong is to be believed, it’s lethal for space invaders as well.

The Wicked Egg of the Wheat Protein
“How about a little gluten, Scarecrow?”

e. That said, here is a summary of water’s transgressions –

i. It’s potentially harmful to humans
ii. It’s no friend to supernatural beings
iii. It’s a fine howdy-doo to our visitors from the stars. Think of it like having guests from another country and serving them acid to drink

That said, I will wrap this up – Indeed, this entry sucks major ass, and I both love and hate it. Here’s to a scrumptious, gluten-free blomelet! I welcome your comments, they are the little flakes of cheese that will add much-needed flavor to this culinary literature (liculinature?)

That said, the phrase “that said” occurs 23 times in this post (including the previous two)

That said (24), FIN

That said (25), @JarrettLWilson

Follower Analysis…and Some Hotdogs

I wish to talk today about a milestone. My first ENTRY in this blog was July 1st, twenty ought oh nine. On the 30th day of May, twenty ought eighteen, I got my 100th follower. I thought it might be time for some “analytics” as the captains of e-commerce like to say (to me, they’ll always be “statistics”).

The numbers below that you will contemplate shortly after I finish this statement, are a data hotdog – it’s comprised of this and that to form a deliciously fulfilling tube of meaning. The “parts” I’ve so revivified include – time, number of posts and number of followers. Each factor represents an obscure part of an animal that can’t survive cuisinically (why not?) by itself. Like a butcher of information, I will grind these ingredients together, and produce…

Listen, I like this analogy, but I’m ready to get on with the data processing. To that end –

VARIABLE #1 – TIME:
It’s been 8.8 years, or 465 weeks, or 3,255 days, or 78,120 hours since July 1st, 2009. One or all may be used to represent time in my calculations. Therefore, I’ve decided to call any variable dealing with time, “TIME”.

VARIABLE #2 – LABOR:

You are reading my 200th published entry. That is, it wasn’t published at the time of the 100th follower. Therefore, I put in 199 posts worth of toil. Moreover, I estimate my total word count to be in the neighborhood of 85,291, by adding the word counts of every 19th -20th post and averaging it. That average came out to 428.6 words per post.

VARIABLE #3 – FOLLOWERS:
I have 100 loyal readers. That can be construed in many ways – such as 200 pinky toes connected to 100 brains that enjoy stimulating content. Or 93 or so appendices occupying space inside 93 or so of my readers. This assumes that my followers are consistent with the statistic mentioned HERE reporting that 7 percent of the population experiences an appendicitis at some point.

I feel like I’m flagrantly digressing. Getting back to the point – as a function of TIME (t), FOLLOWERS (f) increases at a rate of about 3.1% of a new follower everyday or a new follower every 32 or 33 days. I think of it like earning followers piece by piece, by this time tomorrow I will have earned a foot or perhaps a hand and forearm of some lucky reader.

As a function of LABOR (l), I gain one follower for every 1.99 posts. At a fitting rate of 199/3255 (I move so very slowly) – one post every 16 days.

Using my word count estimate of 85,291 – that’s 100/85,291 or .12% (.1172%) of a follower for every word, or one follower for every 852.91 words.

Application: up to and including HERE, there are 466 words or about 466 x 0.1172% = 0.546152 (55%) of one new follower. In more practical terms, I only need to write ~387 more words or work 83% as hard to gain a complete follower. At my current rate, such a task would take 85,291 words/3,255 days = 26.2 words/day. Three-hundred-eighty-seven (I can’t start a sentence with a number, so unsightly) more words divided by 26.2 words/day = 14.77 days. Thing is, I’ve written 77 more words already and I’m not done, so this post might earn me 1.4 or even (dare I say it?) 1.75 more followers!

In short, (f)=0.001172l, where l=t/0.038163. Thus, assuming everything remains constant, a period of say, 214 days (π x 100) would result in 214 days/0. 038163 = 5,607.526 words, netting me 0.001172 x 5,607.526 = 6 full bodied followers, the torso and part of the hips from another (6.57).

Inferences: like any blogger, one of my goals is to reach as many whole people as possible. Based on the numbers, reaching my next milestone – 1,000 followers, gaining 900 more – would take 29,306.058 days. If there is no change in the time I commit to blogging, that will take about 80 years (29,306.058 days)/ 0. 038163 or 767,918.45 words. In 80 years, I’ll be 117 years old. I’m not going to bet on living that long – I don’t think blogging would be high on my priority list anyway.

Listen, I transposed the 5s and 2 in the number of days figure (3,255 became 3,522). I’ve just spent an afternoon not only correcting those figures but editing the portion above “Application: up to and including HERE, there are 466 words…” so it stayed at 466 words, lest I recalculate the figures. That said, I don’t want to fade this post out gracefully; I’m hungry, I’m just abruptly halting now to go eat…a hotdog sounds good.

—–

One more thing. there are 779 words above the line, this post should snag me 779 x .001172 = .913 or 91% of a new follower. Assuming this individual is a female of average weight (168.5lbs), that’s 153.335lbs of follower. For the average dude, weighing in at 195.7lbs on average, that’s 178.07lbs of flesh that will soon receive an email every time a spin a yarn.

In closing, I’d just like to point out that the numbers listed above, notably the near 800,000 words and ~30,000 days, as big and unwieldy as they seem, are perfectly rational to me. If you’re like me, you feel belittled when some fatcat starts spouting off about Apple being worth 40 kajillion dollars or that Trump paid $17 million for this or that trivial thing. When used in this way, numbers are meaningless – merely a device for the bourgeoisie to show the proletariat how high they can count. I don’t see the numbers in this post as numbers, but as little pebbles I can collect to someday make a mountain of meaning. Won’t you be one of my pebbles?

Webp.net-gifmaker

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

“The New Ramtha” – a Short Story by JL Wilson – read and vote (please!)

“THE WAIT IS OVER! You may now read the short story People Mag calls “a story by JL Wilson” & EW raves “has characters & a story”

After you read my story  (below) and recover from how awesome it is, go here – https://shortfictionbreak.com/spring-18/ scroll to the bottom and click on the green “blah blah blah VOTE blah blah” button (I forgot what it said, the important stuff= it’s green and it has the word “vote” on it). Drop the tick box thing down and scroll to the very bottom and vote for “The New Ramtha” by J.L. Wilson (fancy huh?). Next, share this and tell your friends to vote for my story.

 

 

“You’ve captured me,” the oversized sleeves of his purple robe billowed as he spread his arms and presented himself to a waifish youth pacing the floor opposite. “What now?” he asked, bemused.

The youth muttered incoherently and upped the tempo of his pacing. His mind was a tempest of doubt and insecurity. What now The words bounced around the inside of the young man’s head, his head ached from all the intrigue.

“Oh, I see…” the robed man put up a long, grey finger. “…you didn’t expect to get this far.” The taut ashen skin on his face became a landscape of sharp hills and furrows as a sinister smile transformed his face. He risked a few chuckles; enough to patronize, but not incense his captors.

The youth abruptly halted. His head snapped to face the old man. “Even now, the Ramtha, the murderous tyrant, bane of the people, laughs? You laugh knowing that I can have you killed where you stand?” The deep, penetrating baritone voice belonged to an adolescent boy in the throes of puberty.

The old man cackled exuberantly.

At length, he composed himself and in a velvety smooth voice said, “If you were standing where I am standing, which someday, you probably will, you’d laugh too, dear boy.” His eyes flashed knowingly as he spoke.

The young man clenched a fist and lunged at the Ramtha. The moment his fist would have connected with the man’s greying temple, he pulled up short.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t order your death right now?” asked the lanky young man harshly.

The Ramtha, unfazed by the sudden maneuver, calmly replied “If you wish to take my place as ruler of Lemuria, you’ll need more tactful methods of enforcement than a gang of thugs.” he gestured to the cadre of soldiers around the room.

“Ruler of Lemuria?” muttered the youth, perplexed. “How…” he trailed off, stifled by another effervescent display.

The Ramtha recovered from his latest outburst. He placed his hands on the youth’s shoulders and bored an austere gaze into the young, naïve eyes.

“Kareb? May I call you Kareb?”

Kareb nodded.

The man leaned into Kareb’s ear, causing a few of the soldiers present to produce pistols and lurch anxiously.

“I fear one of your men might make a grievous mistake, shaky as they are, and we have some high-minded talk they need not be privy to.” he whispered.

Kareb pulled back from the grey head and stared intently into its dark eyes, looking for deceit.

After a long moment, Kareb raised his arms, palms down and signaled the men to stand down and said they needn’t be concerned – the old man was harmless without a unit of his legion behind him.

Reluctantly, the men stowed their weapons and exited. All except one. Gerald, a childhood playmate of Kareb’s, still had his pistol leveled at the old man. Visibly shaking and breathing rapidly, he plainly was no warrior.

Still, he was gripped by a courage rooted in a life of downtrodden poverty and abject abuse at the hands of the Ramtha’s regime.

Kareb held out a hand gloved in the same hide leather of his tunic and kilt. “It’s fine, Gerald. I’ll be fine. Join the others.”

Gerald stood for a long moment, “You sure? Remember Olaf’s?” His voice trembled with a volatile mixture of fear, repressed fury, and teenage angst.

“Definitely, my friend. He will gain nothing by killing me, where will he go? We have this entire complex.”

The Ramtha faced Gerald, “Heed your friend, boy. You’ve done well to get him this far, but only he can continue…”

Gerald spat on the floor and left the office without lowering his weapon or looking away from the Ramtha.

The door shut, they were alone.

The Ramtha put his hands behind his back and started to amble around the room. “Well, here we are. Rather, here YOU are…”

“I don’t want a recap. I want answers.” Blurted Kareb forcefully.

The Ramtha stopped, “Answers? What questions?” he queried.

“What did you mean by I’d someday stand where you are standing?”

The Ramtha turned to face Kareb, his face scrunched with suspicious curiosity. “You really don’t know?”

Kareb stared blankly.

“YEE!” The Ramtha stomped a foot and clapped enthusiastically. “I had my doubts about the boys at the Bureau of History and Enli…”

“Know what?” asked Kareb.

“…ghtenment. But Heinrich’s Jugend Programm has…”

“KNOW WHAT, DAMMIT?” Kareb snapped, his furious eyes burned into the Ramtha.

A baleful smile returned to the Ramtha’s face.

He ambled back to Kareb.

“You’ve got a fire burning inside you, m’boy. It’s critical that you learn what I’m about to tell you at this point in your ascension…” he trailed off leadingly.

“Ascension?”

“You can’t be this clueless and be the leader the people need, lad.” said the Ramtha.

“I once stood where you now stand, having the same conversation with the then Ramtha…”

“… the then Ramtha? But you…”

“… are the eleventh Ramtha since Ramtha emerged 300 years ago.” the Ramtha interjected.

Incredulous, Kareb’s eyes narrowed at the Ramtha, trying to pierce the smokescreen of the old man’s body to his soul to find truth.

“I’m A Ramtha, THE Ramtha is a concept fed to the populous. The Ramtha is not a man, it’s an office; a grand part played on a rotting stage in a melancholy production.

“Don’t you see? Lemurians can’t rule themselves. The revolution occurs when a new Ramtha takes control – the people won’t know and they don’t need to. As far as they know, the Ramtha is divine, an immortal god king. They simply can’t know the truth.

“The results of past attempted coups were disastrous. Lemuria was a wasteland ravaged by war before the Ramtha.

“You have two choices. You can remain the proud messiah, free Lemuria from the tyranny of the Ramtha; then watch Lemuria destroy itself, or take up the mantle of the Ramtha and guide Lemuria into the future. Therefore, you’ll need me alive, to serve as an advisor.”

Kareb stared at the Ramtha in disbelief as he struggled to rebuild a shattered worldview. Kareb clamped his eyes shut and went to that horrible night at Olaf’s bistro. Five inquisitors from the Bureau of History and Enlightenment broke into the Olaf’s, a local haunt for the youth in Kareb’s small borough, to thwart a “rebel co-op”, it was really a welcome home party . Kareb knew this because Gerald’s sister was there, the gathering was for her and her newborn daughter, Gerald’s niece. All present were beaten and the women raped, then flayed and burned alive. Is that the price for our security? The thought made him shudder.

The Ramtha continued, “You are here to play your part in this production, now you must choose – be the savior who destroys the world or the tyrant who saves it.”

The office door creaked open. Gerald entered, “Excuse me, I left my…”. By this time, he was arm’s length from the Ramtha. In one fluid movement he halted. He withdrew his gun and shot the Ramtha in the head. The Ramtha’s body crumpled to the ground, the stump that was his head gushed blood.

Kareb lurched back, face twisted in shocked disbelief.

“Whuh…???” was all that Kareb could say.

He watched as Gerald scurried haphazardly across the room to the desk and snatch up a fountain pen. Then, without looking up, he hurled himself at Kareb and buried the pen in Kareb’s neck.

Attempting to speak, Kareb could only gurgle through the blood in his throat.

He fell to his knees, blood covered the left half of his body, pooled on the marble floor. “I heard everything.”

Gerald, his voice starting to crack, held his friend under the arms so he didn’t topple. He looked down at him, “I won’t live through another Ramtha, even if he is my closest friend.” His eyes welled up with tears. “You were wavering, so I’ve decided for you.” Gerald’s lower lip began to quiver. “Remember when we were kids? After weeks of planning we were going to get back at Sigurd and his thugs on the playground? One look at him and you turned white and walked away. Like then, you’re turning white. Take heart, friend. Your death will redeem us all.”

He put a finger on his com, and in a panicked voice yelled, “COME QUICKLY! BRING A MEDIC! The Ramtha stabbed Kareb with his fountain pen. PLEASE HURRY! HE’S FADING FAST!” —

Gerald looked upon the bloody mess that was his best friend; stared tearfully at his glassy, lifeless green eyes and closed them for the last time while What now? What now? What now? reverberated inside his head.

Social Dysfunction and Mass Shooting

For the content below, I reference THIS post.

I’m not sure why I thought that data collection for this project would be a walk in the park, but the more information I gather, the more I realize that I have even more to gather. Let’s say I start researching how a shooter got his guns (of the 10 or so shootings I’ve researched on that parameter, 100% of the firearms were obtained legally, with a majority doing so despite a record that should have prevented the sale).

 

Big digression, sorry. I’ll start looking for how they got guns and see something about exposure to domestic violence. Then I’ll remember a blurb about so and so watching his mom get beat up, so I’ll add that variable.

 

All told, this dataset contains 20 (as I count them) variables, including –

three demographic measures (it’s been a while since grad school – some of these might not belong to “demographics”). These are the “invariable variables” – the shooter was stuck with these upon being born –

  • Location (state)
  • Date of birth
  • Race

 

Six components that the shooter had some control of –

  • Specific location of shooting
  • Date of shooting/age
  • Graduation date
  • Death toll
  • Injured toll
  • Status of shooter (suicide, KIA, or captured)

 

Three variables of what I will call “life experience”

  • Military status
  • Relationship with the father
  • Exposure to domestic violence

 

Seven dealing with guns

  • Shooter use of AR-15
  • Shooter use of an automatic weapon
  • Shooter use of handguns
  • Shooter use of other semi-automatic
  • Any other weapons
  • Total number of weapons
  • Legality of gun acquisition.

Diagnosed and/or suspected mental and social disorders.

I’m jumping the gun here when I report that, of seven of the more recent shootings, at least four had either been diagnosed or been suspected of having some disorder on the autism spectrum (including Asperger’s). Compare that to one out of every 68 kids in the US are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My methods and results are far from conclusive, but warrant a closer look, in my opinion. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that individuals with autism are inherently violent; merely that, as a social disorder, higher functioning individuals on the spectrum may lack the social coping mechanisms of the typical person, yet they are exposed to the same reality of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other perversions of social norms that the rest of us must face. More than the disorder itself is the treatment, or rather lack thereof. A study released in 2016 by the CDC “shows that, overall, less than half the children identified with autism (43 percent) had received comprehensive developmental evaluations by age 3.” In effect, it’s the lack of intervention that is to blame, not the disorder itself.

 

Ok, that was a big digression, please forgive me.

 

Another common factor that became apparent was military status – of the nine of the more recent shootings, four of the shooters were either active, discharged or interested in joining a branch of the military. Again, this figure is far above the national average of 0.4% or roughly 1 out of 250 people…

 

I have to stop myself now. I’m drawing conclusions from an incomplete dataset of a handful of cases. In the statistical world, that’s a sin.

In any case, I think there is evidence that this issue is far more complex than simply restricting access to guns.

This should not suggest that we should abandon the effort to better control guns. Access to guns gives the crazy inside these individuals form and direction.

I hope to have a more complete dataset soon and will report back with more conclusive observations. Stay tuned…

One more thing – You may not have heard about it, but on Tuesday 3/20 a Maryland student tried to shoot up his high school. He was thwarted by the School’s resource officer – I feel he should be mentioned by name and marked as a hero – Blaine Gaskill was reportedly facing the shooter within seconds of the first shot. Thanks to his prompt response, the shooter only fired on two individuals – Desmond Barnes was shot in the thigh and has been released from the hospital. Jaelyn Willey was shot in the head, rendering her brain dead. She was pulled off life support and died Thursday 3/22. My condolences to her family and friends…

273irg

I was initially incensed by the lack of media coverage, thinking there just weren’t enough dead school children to make headlines. Then I decided that it was a good thing. No doubt the shooter in Maryland was inspired by the Florida shooter, who was inspired by another school shooting and so on. By not sensationalizing it, perhaps we’ll get a reprieve from the bloodshed. There’s an idea media, don’t have a “breaking news” orgasm and ejaculate sensational information every time there’s a shooting. Just a thought…

 

FIN

 

@JarrettLWilson

 

The Second Amendment and the Freedom from Fear

Peep this here, internet. A nice gentleman at the Stonehenge Corner responded to my post about snowflake syndrome and the second amendment.

His opinion, notably on gun control, runs counter to my own.
Instead of resulting in strife and foul language, we’ve approached one another amicably, with a genuine desire to find out what’s behind all this violence.
I think that we’ve arrived at a satisfactory alternative to guns as the root cause – a cause that I will be delving into in greater detail on my next post. The issue I speak of is fatherlessness. To find out how we arrived at this middle ground, you’ll want to read my original post linked above, his response – which I’ve reblogged here and our commentary on his blog.
Please feel free, nay compelled, to comment with constructive suggestions and opinions – agree or disagree. Be part of a solution. You are but one voice, but together we are an ear-splitting din.

Happy reading!

The Stonehenge Corner

bill-of-rights

The attack on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkville, Florida, by former student, Nikolas Cruz, has generated much anger, bitterness and arguing. In the nineteen days since the shooting, Florida has banned AR-15 rifles, only to rescind that legislation fifteen minutes later; survivor David Hogg has become a media star and the new face for gun control; and, according to a new survey, the solid majority of people who make up the Left in America, want to ban guns—not just AR-15s but other rifles and handguns as well.

I wrote last time that tragedies like Parkland become the nuclei of what has become the cyclical gun debate between the political divide when other questions, such as fatherlessness, would be more important debates to have. But, as I also admitted, (paraphrasing Samuel Johnson) people do not so much need to be taught new things as reminded of things and…

View original post 1,804 more words

Mass Shooter Profiles

As reported LAST WEEK, I’ve started to compile a database of mass shooter profiles.

I didn’t get near as much done as I would’ve liked. All the same, I’m going to publish my labors up to now.

I haven’t collected all the data that I’d like to and, as a result, I haven’t started running basic statistics (frequency tables, etc.) But, there are a few curious trends I’m picking up on.

Firstly, I’m using the top 20 shootings listed HERE as a starting point. Wikipedia has a similar page, but every fact is linked to a more credible reference. During my initial sweep, I didn’t take note of how many guns the shooter had or the category of the weapon(s). I will continue to add –

  1. Gun data
  2. More specific notes about the shooter – including analyzing background. The words “autism”, “Asperger’s”, “loner” and “bullied” are mentioned frequently – I’d like better numbers on that stuff for each shooter
  3. More shootings. I’ve decided to go beyond NCLB, but not rule it out as a key factor in our troubled times.
    1. NCLB era shooters can be isolated from the rest of the shooters to see if they possess some unique characteristic that might point more definitively to issues caused by the parameters of NCLB

A few curious coincidences (curioundences?) I’ve found are –

  1. The prevalence of social development disorders, like autism spectrum disorder mentioned above, and
  2. The desire to enlist or successfully joining a branch of the armed forces.

All that said, here is the table that I’ve labored to produce. Again, it’s not finished, with the way things are going it’ll probably never be finished, unfortunately. If there are any variables you feel should be included, please leave a comment.

Uhh, I dont’ know why, but despite all my effort to get the data into an embedded spreadsheet, it defaults to the bottom. Scroll up a ways to see the content.

No Culture Left Behind

I’ve a third component for my list of agitators resulting in school violence, read about the first two HERE. I’ve pontificated HERE on the dog and pony show that is standardized testing. The third element in this trinity, along with 1. The second amendment(al), and 2. “Snowflake Syndrome” (we’re all part of the same compost heap), is the education system itself.

 

I’ll start with a picture –

Snap 2018-03-03 at 19.06.44
*http://healthycures.org/everything-rigged-medicine-elections-food-media-living-fabricated-fairy-tale

This image doesn’t reflect the myriad of technological changes in education, which is the point. I wouldn’t be out of line if I say that learning modalities and the tools to cater to those modalities are vastly different. In a manner of speaking, it’s like trying to upload rotary phone firmware (insofar as it has firmware) onto iPhones using a coaxial cable.

 

That is to say, the content is outdated and the transmission medium is incompatible with the hardware.

 

What should we do? Give the kids more tests and give the teachers guns!

 

I think it’s time for some fun facts about standardized testing –

 

Listen, I don’t have access to fancy databases like I did in college. I know what I’m looking for, but JSTOR or Ebsco Google Scholar is not. That being the case, the information contained here is a curious mix of stuff I go looking for and what Google allows me to have. In this case, I would’ve liked an article from a longitudinal research study based on data from a tidy sample of a few thousand students from all grades across the country (notably high schoolers and people who were in HS during the NCLB transition from 2003-2007). I actually did find something like this, but I found myself more concerned with figuring out how NCLB SOOO left children behind.

 

Allow me to digress briefly – among educators, NCLB is a four letter word (… you know what I mean).

 

Briefly, it turned teachers into robot bureaucrat prostitutes (hereafter referred to as “robureaucrutes”) whose primary functions are to submit a form for just about everything that happens in the classroom or during school hours and turn their tricks (teach) to tests whose validity and reliability are questioned to this very day. In exchange, they are given a pittance.

 

By its title, we are to conclude that no child will be “left behind”. There isn’t a “No robureaucrutes (Teachers) Left Behind” bill.

 

Indeed, I am one of those lost souls, but that is a horse of a different color – I will digress no more.

 

In fact, I’m at a good place to relate it to our troubled times. If NCLB can be said to have one lasting impact on public education, it’s unrest. Students are nervous that, despite high grades, they’ll perform poorly on the state exam, and potentially get held back, or denied entry into a desired academic program – be it college or maybe a HS AP class.

 

Meanwhile, the robureaucrutes are scared they’ll lose their jobs if their students’ scores don’t cut the mustard.

 

That’s okay, these rigorous assessments hold every child to a high, transparent achievement standard, right?

 

If by “rigorous” you mean hard on minority groups, the answer is yes. We know this because, in many cases, test scores have stagnated and the achievement gap has widened.

 

For example, according to THIS ARTICLE, math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP (a standardized assessment of student achievement in a variety of subjects – scores are reported by demographic group, race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status), shows both a widening achievement gap between minority students and white student and diminishing returns in both math and reading in grades four and eight.

 

Much time and resources go into teaching strategies that target minority students.

 

But all the shooters have been white dudes, right? I can only speculate that white students feel marginalized by an increased emphasis on closing the achievement gap.

 

Another theory – school staff are so busy with minority groups that they don’t notice the warning signs.

 

NOTE: I AM IN NO WAY PROPOSING THAT AN EMPHASIS ON MINORITY EDUCATION IS BAD. MERELY THAT A POTENTIAL UNINTENDED SIDE EFFECT IS THE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF WHITE STUDENTS.

 

More to the point, I am pointing out that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Assuming this is true, we can expect school officials to start scrutinizing the metrics of their white male students, to the detriment of minority groups.

 

Thus the cycle of extinguishing the fires of the American public education system continues.

 

What about the tests themselves? THIS ARTICLE says students spend 20-25 hours each school year taking a test. This amounts to “about 2.3 percent of classroom time for the average eighth grader.”

 

This may not sound like a lot until you consider the hours upon hours of test prep. Put another way, teachers are forced to forgo more useful skills – say, coming up with a simple monthly budget or reading and writing cursive to have more time to “teach to the test”.

 

Concerning the former, the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) contains a “financial literacy” component that purports to measure –

knowledge and understanding of financial concepts and risks, and the skills, motivation and confidence to apply such knowledge and understanding in order to make effective decisions across a range of financial contexts, to improve the financial well-being of individuals and society, and to enable participation in economic life.

I tell you what, dear readers, in my ~12 years in education, this is the finest example of educationese I’ve come across – it lithely straddles the hair thin line between ingenuously vague and technically obnoxious. It’s verbose – pregnant with buzzwords (“effective”, “knowledge”, “skills”, etc.) to show the reader how important it is, but it doesn’t state any concrete or measurable parameters. Fear not, dear reader, I’ve waded through the mire of needlessly grandiose *ahem* verbiage contained in the PISA supporting documentation to give you a clearer idea of what 22% (roughly one in five) of our nation’s youth don’t understand.

Here’s the gist – “financial literacy” as defined on the PISA includes an understanding of –

  • Insurance policies
  • Pensions
  • Budgeting for “household goods and personal items”
  • Bank accounts
  • Inflation
  • Interest
  • Accessing financial information
  • How to calculate a percentage
  • Currency conversion

There is quite a bit more, find it HERE if you’d like some stimulating reading while on the toilet or some such situation.

It is long time for me to get to the point. In short, the focus on testing has pulled the rug out from under the culture of our education system. Education doesn’t serve students anymore, it serves itself. The result has been the neglect of students who feel lost. They’re given little direction beyond always having a #2 pencil and filling in the right bubble – this is not a life skill. Imagine your outlook on life if you suddenly discover that the “real world” is a place where you have to manage your own money, but you have no money because “bubbling with extreme care and meticulous detail” is not counted as a worthy skill.

While writing this, quite a few ideas poured into my skull related to this issue. Firstly, are testing companies, like ETS and Pearson, pulling strings at the US DoE? Seems to me that a company that has made a name for itself through standardized testing would go to great lengths to make sure the government continues to mandate tests.

 

Also, I’ve posted a few times about peddling the English language like so many products at your local convenience store (HERE and HERE if you’re still on the toilet or like to read great writing). I teach English to Chinese kids online. In a recent conversation with an older (age 16), nearly fluent student (fludent?) the issue of school shootings came up. He likes to talk about lofty, philosophical stuff so he perked right up. I asked him, with an education system far more strict and intrusive than ours, why weren’t they having trouble with guns. He thought about it, and he answered it jokingly, but it was more profound than he realized. He joked that they do shoot each other with guns…water guns.

 

Then I jested that I hope he didn’t melt, as per Isaac Asimov’s “Rain, Rain Go Away” and that led to a discussion about how the commoners of today are the sugar people and the government is rain… it was way philosophical.

 

The profundity comes from the idea that he would find humor in the very idea of someone shooting up a school in China. I’m not suggesting that education is without dysfunction in China, but that is another horse of a new hue…

 

For a third time, I’ve wandered away from my thesis – “trigression” to be sure.

 

I’ve produced a flow chart summarizing my stance –

 

As I was producing this graphic, I investigated mass shootings and found that many are not in a school. However, most were perpetrated by a white male who was school age when NCLB took hold – this is a broad generalization I know – I think I’ll look at the shooters themselves next time to get an idea of their school lives.

WORKS CITED

 

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

The Second Amendment and “Snowflake Syndrome”

I’ve been somehow involved in education for about 13 years. At this point, I’m subbing – mostly at the local HS, sometimes at the local middle school where my education career started. I’ve a daughter in public school.

 

With all the school shootings, am I scared for myself, my daughter, and the students I’ve come to know? Yes.

 

I don’t espouse the idea that violent video games/movies, etc. are responsible; seems to me that this belittles the issue – like avoiding a cancer screening because the abdominal pain is “just indigestion.”

 

I do think that, like a stubborn virus or infection, the cause is a gnarled lattice of factors fit for Dr. House.

 

Submitted for your review, internet, I’ve identified two components that I believe to contribute to our troubled times –

 

  1. The second amendment/right to keep and bear arms –

Let me start by saying that the right itself is not the issue. The issue is the narrow-minded, no compromise mentality of its proponents

 

Does your right to keep and bear arms supersede my right to peace of mind from knowing that my daughter, her friends, students I’ve come to love in my own way, and my own person are safe as we go about our daily lives? Another way to say this might be my right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

 

Listen, we don’t have an amendment that specifically says “The right to attend school without fear of being massacred by a confused guy with an assault rifle.” BUT, we do have one that “Protects rights not enumerated in the Constitution.” (amendment #9)

 

This is a gross oversimplification of that amendment, but we can no longer imply safety and security for ourselves individually in this once great nation (still waiting for you to “make it great again”, comrade president – dead school children and unchecked bigotry do not a great country make).

 

Anyway, as “The right to attend school without fear of being massacred by a confused guy with an assault rifle” is not “enumerated” and we’ve become perverted enough as a nation to think that the right to own a shiny piece of metal that makes lots of noise and puts holes in things is more important than the life of someone’s child, perhaps it’d be appropriate to “enumerate” this right or invoke the ninth?

 

Let me be clear – I’m not saying take away all guns. I’m simply saying that we need to have a more rigorous process for acquiring a gun and to prohibit the sale of assault rifles to civilians.

 

To accomplish that, we need to compromise.

 

HERE,  the blogger from Engineering, Parenthood, and a Solid Attempt at Adult Status

provides several compelling reasons why civilians don’t need automatic weapons.

 

Ok, I feel like I’m digressing. Shootings are merely one symptom of a much deeper problem. Getting back to the virus/infection analogy. There’s a school of thought that says that society functions like an organism. A dysfunction occurs when some part of that organism fails to perform properly and throws the whole system into chaos.

 

So, what social organ is dysfunctional? It would be tacky of me to raise this point and not offer my explanation, so here goes –

 

  1. “LOOKATME! LOOKATME! LOOKATME!”

 

In my opinion, our country suffers from an affliction that I will call “snowflake syndrome.” We have become accustomed to praise and recognition of our achievements, no matter how small, we are surrounded by stuff we want but can’t afford and a social media juggernaut that has evolved beyond our control.

 

This paints a picture of a world of material success and social acceptance – for most Americans, is that the case? The individual has taken over. Instead of “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, it’s “ask what my country can do for me, then sue for more”

 

Listen, internet – my education is in sociology. Indeed, in my case the old phrase “if your only tool is a hammer, every problem is a nail” rings true. When I hear of a mass shooting or other such atrocity, I instantly look for information about the suspect’s race, gender, socioeconomic background, affiliations, etc.

 

Such information can be compared to ingredients in a recipe – each of us is a dish made with slightly different ingredients and preparation instructions. Time in the oven could be family makeup, oven temperature could be schooling experience (public/private, and so on), an extra teaspoon of salt might be an abusive dad.

You will, as many have, say this is far too simple for a creature as complex as a human.

Such a “flavor” prediction is far from possible at this time precisely because of its complexity. Is it possible? Given rigorous application, yes I think so.

 

“But wait, I’m a special and unique snowflake!” cries the millennial. In a way, that is what the school shooters are saying with their actions. Gloominess and despair that was once reserved for suicide have become a license to commit atrocities in order to take center stage in a nation obsessed with being a unique individual.

We are not a nation of ~327 million people, we are a collection of ~327 million egos that happen to live on the same patch of earth.

 

Based on the demographic data from 2016 found HERE), that number includes a hair over 200 million white people. To each individual white person living in the US I say, you are not special.

 

Almost 60 million of that population is Hispanic or Latino. To each individual Hispanic or Latino person living in the US I say, you are not special.

 

African Americans are more than 42 million strong. To each individual African American living in the US I say, you are not special.

 

Even the American Indian/Alaska native population sports a shade over four million. While this certainly makes you more unique I still must say to each individual American Indian/Alaska native living in the US, you are not special.

 

I hear the refrain of a lonely white person in Hawaii “surely I am unique among all these copper-colored people!”  . To you I say “nay! You are but one white bird in a flock of 266,400!

“What of me? A female in the far flung land of Alaska.” To you I say “don’t despair madam! You share that frozen chunk of earth with 350,499 other members of that whimsical gender!”

 

It gets better, dear reader. Take heart, foreign-born male of two or more races located in Payne county, OK, seek and ye shall find 71 other souls in circumstances as unique as yours.

 

I could continue on like this – “I’m a white woman with red hair living in Waldo county, and I’m so frustrated that I can’t fit a whole hand into a Pringles can.” I don’t know if you will find other redheads living in Waldo county vexed by the same predicament. Believe it or don’t, a community over 900,000 strong shares your frustration. Find it HERE. You’re welcome.

 

Some of you are asking “where’s Waldo… county?” It’s in Maine. The county seat is the city of Belfast.

 

Moving on… if you’re like me, then you can’t abide standing idle watching your hot pocket spin as its bombarded with microwaves. That’s 90 seconds that you could’ve spent cleaning out your belly button or throwing away expired cans of pinto beans. Look no further than the Facebook group entitled “Accomplishing something before the microwave reaches :00” I tell you what, I’ve since joined this thriving (1 million +) association of go-getters, and I’m wracked with anticipation to learn the nuggets of wisdom that are surely waiting for me.

 

HERE is a short list of groups that cater to very particular interests. You can bet that if there is a group established for the sole purpose of spending Sunday mornings cleaning public toilets in Japan for the fun of it, you’ll find something out there that offers an opportunity for you to rub elbows with like-minded individuals who are as “unique” as you are.

 

It is my first instinct to apologize to anyone I’ve offended with my words here. However, the persons inclined to be offended by my message are the ones who most need to hear it. That said, let me offer some consolation – you are very, very special; as special as everyone else on this plot of earth with its imaginary borders and it’s constitutional government.

Bashing Through the Prose, In 100 Days…

I recently tried an accelerated writing program offered by thewritepractice.com. The program is designed to help the aspiring writer complete the first draft of a novel in 100 days. It is aptly named “The 100 Day Book” program, the brainchild of Joe Bunting (not to be confused with the “100 Novels in a Day” program from Bo Junting).

Full disclosure – I didn’t finish a first draft, but I’m still pleased with the overall experience. To finish a draft would’ve been great, but I did come away with several valuable lessons.

First and foremost, I learned that I am what Kurt Vonnegut refers to as a “basher”, as opposed to a “swooper”. Hard as I try, I can’t churn out 800 to 1,000 words a day. The basher

“goes one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before going on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”

The swooper

“write[s] a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work.”

Teh Basher
“Hey Joe, where you going with that hammer in your hand?”

I did have a few breakout sessions where I produced 1,000 words, so I can swoop, but for the most part, I bash. All the same, no matter what your approach, this program provides sage advice, deadlines and a support forum for other aspiring writers to hold you accountable and provide feedback on your writing.

Perhaps the most useful feature of the program is the daily email tips to spark the flame of goodly writing inside the budding writer. Notable examples –

“Today, have a character do something. It can be as small as eating a cookie or as dramatic as drawing a gun on someone. Whatever they do, use it to show us who that character is and make them stick in our minds.”

And

“Open up your book to something you wrote a few days or weeks ago. Glance over it and take a few minutes to laugh. Then, once you’re feeling good about writing again, jump back to today’s scenes and keep writing!”

Uno mas,

“Challenge yourself to write something deliberately bad today. What’s the worst sentence you can imagine? Write it down, and then keep writing.”

 

This last tip is especially meaningful for me. As were all the messages concerning what a pissant perfectionism can be. That was what held me back – the unquenchable desire to be perfect.

Many of the daily emails harped on the myth of perfection. Applying the practice tips from these messages were tools that allowed me to write 1,000 words in one day a few times.

I saved all the emails and plan to revisit them as I do my own thing.

BONUS! A cute lady with a squirrelly last name sends you weekly emails with your progress and other words of encouragement. Perhaps most impressive of all is that both cute, squirrelly last name girl and the Joe himself always responded to my questions and concerns with a genuine, not canned response, and in a timely manner.

And Joe is a good sport, I’d message him on Facebook, starting with “Hey Joe, I heard you shot your lady down” or “Hey Joe, where you gonna run to now?” and he played right along.

I was way short on the word count, but that’s because I need to get over this idea that my writing must be perfect as soon it’s written. I’m happy with every single word that I wrote – wish there were more…

I suppose that’d be a complaint – the program didn’t write a book for me. Writing a book is frickin hard, but this program breaks it into manageable tasks, making the process a more… manageable task.

Another perk was weekly author interviews. I attended a few, and it always got me thinking about my own writing process, but while sitting there listening I was jonesin to write, so I skipped some. Looking back on it, I wish I would’ve sat attentively through all of them, that’s part of the experience that I paid for.

In closing, I’d say this program would benefit any budding writer. You may not finish a book, but you’ll be writing and you’ll gain an understanding of the logistics involved in writing a book. In the end, if my ho-hum attitude toward interviews is any indicator, you get out what you put in.

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