Ugly America.

(Photo: Courtesy of Pleasant Run Elementary School).

(Photo: Courtesy of Pleasant Run Elementary School).

INDIANAPOLIS — The day should have been one of glory and celebration for five fourth-graders.

The Pleasant Run Elementary students had just won a robotics challenge at Plainfield High School, and the students — new to bot competition this year — were one step closer to the Vex IQ State Championship.

The team is made up of 9- and 10-year-olds. Two are African American and three are Latino.

As the group, called the Pleasant Run PantherBots, and their parents left the challenge last month in Plainfield, Ind., competing students from other Indianapolis-area schools and their parents were waiting for them in the parking lot.

“Go back to Mexico!” two or three kids screamed at their brown-skin peers and their parents, according to some who were there.

This verbal attack had spilled over from the gymnasium. While the children were competing, one or two parents disparaged the Pleasant Run kids with racist comments — and loud enough for the Pleasant Run families to hear.

“They were pointing at us and saying that ‘Oh my God, they are champions of the city all because they are Mexican. They are Mexican, and they are ruining our country,’ ” said Diocelina Herrera, the mother of PantherBot Angel Herrera-Sanchez.

These are minority students from the east side of the city, poor kids from a Title I school.

“For the most part, the robotics world is kind of a white world,” said Lisa Hopper, the team’s coach and a Pleasant Run second-grade teacher. “They’re just not used to seeing a team like our kids.

I have no doubt it’s true that they are not accustomed to seeing a team like the PantherBots, but how is that an excuse, in any way? That is disgusting behaviour, and I have no doubt if slurs were being slung at their milk white children, they would be beyond offended, and threaten to sue. This is the exact sort of shit that the Tiny Tyrant has enabled, and I have no doubt the bigots are all faithful Trumpholes. And I’m supposed to listen to their “side of things”? I don’t think so.

…Three weeks after the incident, the PantherBots won the Create Award — for best robot design and engineering — at the state championships, which qualified them for the Vex IQ World Championship next month in Louisville. They will compete there with students from all over the world.

And they say they’ll walk in with confidence.

“They yelled out rude comments, and I think that they can talk all they want because at the end we’re still going to Worlds,” said team leader Elijah Goodwin, 10. “It’s not going to affect us at all. I’m not surprised because I’m used to this kind of behavior.

The fact that any 10 year old child is accustomed to such vile behaviour should break the heart of any adult, it should certainly affect those who are parents, but this is not the case with Trumpholes, no. A brown child just couldn’t possibly be as smart as a white child. And they wonder why they are called racist and deplorable.

“I was afraid they would let it get in their heads and wig them out,” Hopper said. “We sat down and talked to our kids, and obviously we let them share their feelings.

“They were on top of it already,” she said. “They said: ‘We know they are mean. We know they were jealous. We’re not going to let it bother us.’ One of our guys said ‘to take stuff like that and let it make you stronger.’ ”

Just a few months ago, the PantherBots knew nothing about robotics.

The low-income school was given a grant to develop a robotics program. Fourth-grade teachers were asked to identify 10 students who had potential and exhibited leadership qualities.

And yet, we have Trumpholes in the Regime who think that no poor people should be getting in on that education business, oh no.

A huge shout out to the PantherBots, for a job well done, a great attitude, and best of luck at the Worlds! These are the kids who would grow up to make America great, if they were allowed.

Via USA Today.

What Is It About Wisconsin?

Rep. Glenn Grothman (YouTube).

Rep. Glenn Grothman (YouTube).

Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Glenn Grothman…is there some pool deep in the wilds of Wisconsin that tosses out empathy-devoid politicians? Grothman has decided that it is very necessary to cut federal aid to students because … goodies. Yep, goodies.

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) complained Tuesday during a congressional hearing that low-income students are spending their Pell Grant funds on commercial goods that he deems unnecessary, reported Inside Higher Ed.

“I know in many ways in this country we hate the middle class,” Grothman said. “We love the rich, we love the poor and we hate the middle class.

Wait, wait, wait, wait. “We” love the poor? Since when has anyone or anything rethuglican demonstrated a love for poor people? The constant efforts to strip every teensy safety net is love? Yeah, definitely Nineteen Eighty-Four here.

People wonder why — sometimes they use the Pell Grants, too, for goodies and electronics, and they resent the fact that by doing it right, their kids are penalized.”

Uh, most middle class kids have all the goodies and electronics, y’know. I realize it’s probably been a hundred or so years since Mr. Grothman has seen the inside of a classroom, but these days, it’s rather important to have those goodies and electronics. Things do change over the years, sir. I’m still a bit at a loss over just what constitutes “goodies”. Computers and phones are pretty much standard equipment these days, and quite necessary in pursuit of your education.

Grothman complained that poor students were given grant aid that he believes is largely subsidized by the middle class, and he said those taxpayers are resentful that their own children must take out loans to pay for their education.

He “believes”? How about some evidence? That would be good. You aren’t supposed to govern based on your opinion.

“People get tired of the American government hating the middle class, and they have to kick in for their kids’ programs, so their (own) kids have to take out loans,” Grothman said. “Well, the kids from some other families seem to get things for free.”

Oh gods. Yet another fucking idiot who doesn’t have the slightest idea of how things work, or just how damn difficult it is for kids in poverty to attain college, or how hard you have to work to get a grant in the first bloody place. No recognition of all those kids who don’t make the cut for a grant, either. Of course, if America was the kind of country that actually gave a shit about its citizens, an education wouldn’t cost much, if anything, at all. Other countries have such a system, and they have smart, happy, productive people. Oh, but that would be socialist, oh no! And yes, to fund such a system, you have to pay taxes, but it is to the benefit of everyone. Here in Amerikka, if the bloated military budget was brought down to be in line with most other countries, you wouldn’t even have to raise taxes by much. You could educate a whole lot of peoples with that money. This would also mean completely overhauling the fucked up college system here, too. Much better to just make sure poor kids can’t ever get in.

He suggested first-year students should be ineligible for Pell Grants so the government was not “wasting money” on students who won’t graduate.

“At least have, for your freshman year, have the kids who aren’t in the middle class take out loans like the kids in the middle class already have to,” Grothman said. “That way you could make sure that everybody was going to college after are more serious about college. Do you think that would be a fair thing to do?”

No, I don’t think that’s fair at all. No one should have to go into debt to get a fucking education. That is something a government should provide. Insisting poverty ridden students get into equal debt of their middle class peers is not fair. And why do I have this feeling that what you really mean by “students who won’t graduate” are women, who are only in college to husband hunt, because of course they don’t want an education, no.

Grothman also claimed he had “anecdotal evidence” that Pell Grants, which are allocated based on financial need, discourage students from getting married so their income remained low enough to qualify for aid.

“If you don’t get married, of course, it’s easier to remain in poverty and not get Pell Grants,” he said. “I’ve heard it from several people.”

AAUUUUGGH NO NO NO. That’s it – it’s more than obvious Grothman had no fucking education whatsoever, and any fucking idiot who uses anecdotal evidence as if it means something – that should immediately disqualify you from the job. What. A. Fucking. Idiot.

Via Raw Story.

Word Wednesday.

Words1Glaucous

Adjective.

1 a: of a pale yellow-green color. b: of a light bluish-gray or bluish-white color.

2: having a powdery or waxy coating that gives a frosted appearance and tends to rub off.

– glaucousness, noun.

[Origin: Latin glaucus, from Greek glaukos gleaming, gray]

(1671)

Suddenly, a wave of very big rats, with glaucous eyes and lips drawn back from shining ridges of teeth, came boiling out of the darkness.” – The Wicked, Douglas Nicholas.

And, some other nifty color words:

Murrey / Perse / Cramoisy

 
Murrey, noun: a purplish black: Mulberry. [Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French muré, from Medieval Latin moratum, from neuter of moratus mulberry colored, from Latin morum, mulberry.] (15th Century).

Fastened to his surcoat was a brooch worn as a badge: a silver disk inlaid with murrey-colored enamel, against which the white fountain of Blanchefontaine stood out, rendered in raised silver.” – Something Red, Douglas Nicholas.

Perse, adjective: of a dark grayish blue resembling indigo. [Origin: Middle English pers, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin persus.] (15th Century)

Cramoisy: adjective: of a crimson colour. noun: crimson cloth.

[Origin: French cramoisi, from Spanish carmesi, from Arabic qirmzi, equivalent to kermes.] (1375 -1425)

She took the cramoisy gown from his hand and folded it, and then held the perse up against herself, looking down at it.” – Something Red, Douglas Nicholas.

A BIG Book!

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big-book-gigantic-turnip-5

big-book-urashima-taro-4

Oh, if I had young sprogs, I’d get these books in a heartbeat, which puts a whole new spin on interactive books.

The Big Book is precisely that – a children’s story that unfolds into a gigantic single sheet, revealing a beautiful illustration of something central to the story. The redesigned children’s fairytale adds another dimension of interactivity to storytelling, allowing kids read a story with their eyes, ears and whole body.

It was originally designed by Japanese illustrator Mao Fujimoto in 2011 as a school project (we actually covered it back then, so we’re super happy it’s finally been turned into a product). Fujimoto came up with the idea by following a keen fascination about what it would be like to ride on the turtle, which carries the young fisherman to a sub-sea palace in Urashima Taro, one of Japan’s most beloved stories.

Now, Urashima Taro and The Giant Turnip have been turned into real books thanks to Seigensha Art Publishing. Each features Fujimoto’s beautiful illustrations accompanied by story text in both Japanese and English. So not only is it great for storytelling, it’s also useful for learning another language!

Because it’s designed to be spread out on the floor and walked/crawled on, the books are made from water-resistant, highly durable paper so it holds up to toddler abuse.

You can see, and read much more at Spoon & Tamago.

The Expressive Rights of Others.

The California Aggie, Jay Gelvezon/Courtesy.

The California Aggie, Jay Gelvezon/Courtesy.

“The expressive rights of others.” Quite the phrase, isn’t it? That’s the new free speech, at least applied to those with repugnant viewpoints. In the ongoing effort to quell dissent, this is the new rallying cry of the decidedly exclusive conservatives and lovers of fascism.

…The intent of these bills isn’t to protect student speech; it’s actually to suppress it in favor of guest speakers who, at times, support white nationalism, LGBTQ discrimination and other hateful worldviews. By funding the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, wealthy conservatives are enabling the promotion of hate speech while stifling student dissent. Whether or not Koch, for example, agrees with the hate speech he indirectly sponsors, he certainly benefits from a more friendly academic environment for far-right ideologues who often deny climate change and praise his extreme brand of tax- and regulation-free capitalism.

The Goldwater Institute’s model bill allegedly ensures “the fullest degree of…free expression,” but it explicitly states that “protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity shall not be permitted and shall be subject to sanction.”

It goes on to say, “Any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year, or expelled.”

Under this code, imagine that a student protests a climate change denier and gets a brief suspension. Then the College Republicans group brings in a full-on white nationalist. Will this student do what she thinks is right and protest a racist who’s given a platform at a respected university, or stay home because she’s risking expulsion? This campus “free speech” legislation is essentially an attack on student speech and an elevation of ultra-conservative ideas that many people in university communities think have no place in American society.

“These laws would create a chilling effect on students who reject the idea that white supremacists or climate deniers are simply representing an ‘opposing viewpoint’ that should be tolerated, and who are rightfully relying on their first amendment freedoms to stop the rise of fascism and prevent global climate catastrophe,” Wilson, UnKoch’s senior researcher, told AlterNet. The group has been conducting research into Charles Koch’s considerable ideological donations to higher education, most of which goes toward free-market programs.

Charles Koch Foundation representatives say that conservative views are underrepresented in higher education, and the foundation’s massive university donations—which fund free-market academic centers, professorships, grad students and lecture series—are necessary for academic freedom. This view is shared by other conservative billionaires and higher ed donors including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who recently said to the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, “The education establishment [tells you] what to think…the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.”

the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.” Okay, then why are you doing just that? Oh, because you don’t mean that at all, no. You’re fully in favour of free speech, er, expressive rights, as long as those expressive rights are extolling the virtues of white supremacy and fascism. Anything else, not so much. It’s of minor interest to note how much the cons have jumped on the branding wagon. “Different words will make it great!” No, they won’t. To paraphrase Shakespeare, fascism by any other name would still stink.

Legislators in some states including Illinois and Tennessee have introduced bills in 2017 that explicitly mention sanctions on student protesters. Illinois’ bill, proposed by two Republicans, lifts this language, and additional passages, nearly verbatim from the Goldwater model. Also sponsored by Republicans, the bill in Tennessee—nicknamed the “Milo Bill” after an event at the University of California at Berkeley featuring the racist “alt-right” icon Milo Yiannopolous was canceled due to protests—directs universities to enact free speech policies that include “sanctions for anyone under the jurisdiction of the institution who interferes with the free expression of others,” and it gives faculty “the right to regulate class speech.”

In North Carolina, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest intends to work with legislators on a Restore Campus Free Speech Act, which would create “a discipline policy that would punish students who shout down visiting speakers or deprive others of their right to free expression, a tactic commonly known as the ‘hecklers’ veto.'”

Last year, Forest floated a measure calling on the University of North Carolina’s board of governors to create a system-wide policy that would impose harsh penalties, including expulsion, on students, staff and faculty members who disrupt classes, public meetings or events. The Koch-funded Generation Opportunity lauded the effort at the time. Forest has said that yelling at a guest speaker “has never been free speech,” and he’s called campus protest methods “terrorist tactics.” No one introduced a free speech bill that year.

Other proposed laws, like North Dakota’s, which was introduced by six Republicans, omit sanctions provisions but state that a university may restrict student speech if it blocks entrances to buildings, obstructs traffic or interferes with events. Much of the North Dakota bill comes directly from the text of the Goldwater model legislation.

That’s by no means the end of it, either. Alternet has a good, in-depth look at the “new” expressive rights of others, and how it will strip a great many people of their expressive rights. Recommended reading.

Word Wednesday.

Words1Peregrine.

adjective.

1. having a tendency to wander; traveling or migratory.

2. coming from abroad.

[Origin: Middle French peregrin, from Medieval Latin peregrinus, foreign, from pereger being abroad, from per through + ager land (that is, beyond one’s own land)

(1350 – 1400)

There were a score or so of the peregrines, come from Carlisle, most them burghers, guild-brothers in the tanners’ guild.

– Something Red, Douglas Nicholas.

This Is My Body.

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This Is My Body. A figure stands in the middle of the image with arms outstretched. A red headband covers the forehead and long, loosely braided dark hair, parted in the middle. White streams down the face, and the eyes are red and swollen. The body has a bleeding wound on its side, a hole in each palm, and three rubber bullet wounds. Dark figures with riot gear border the figure to the right, while water from a vehicle cannon shoots down at the figure. (Art done by Joann Lee Kim).

Joann Lee Kim has a stunning body of work, do yourself a favour and wander over for a long look. I came across Ms. Kim’s work at The Establishment, specifically an article by Dae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr., about the days when 500 ministers descended on the NoDapl camp. I was there for that, and talked to several of the ministers. The ones I spoke with all seemed rather dazed and overcome by everything happening at the camps. The particular perspective of the article is an interesting one, and quite important, I think: Christianity Is Co-opting The Justice Movement. It’s an excellent article. Solidarity is more important than ever, as is making sure that solidarity is intersectional and inclusive. When it comes to christian involvement in major social justice fights, particularly indigenous ones, it is very important that attention is seriously paid to the colonial roots and colonial mindset which still rules most peoples’ thinking and actions, especially those of churches.

Have a read, highly recommended. And when you’re done, have a look around at the rest of The Establishment, a lot of good writing going on there.

76 Scientists On A Glacier.

The women of Homeward Bound. CREDIT: Anne Christianson.

The women of Homeward Bound. CREDIT: Anne Christianson.

…Seltzer’s colleagues were more knowledgeable than your average gaggle of tourists. The travelers on her trip were all scientists, and several of them focus specifically on climate change. What’s more, her 75 companions on the three-week trip were all women, bound together on the largest-ever, all-female expedition to Antarctica. The trip was the focal point of a year-long leadership development program called Homeward Bound, which aims to groom 1,000 women with science backgrounds over the next ten years to influence public policy and dialogue.

While women made up more than 50 percent of the US workforce in 2016, they represented only 24 percent of workers in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. Representation in public policy is even worse: Women hold less than 23 percent of parliamentary positions worldwide, and less than 20 percent of Congress is female. The founder of Homeward Bound told Reuters that inspiration came from the trip from hearing two scientists joke that a beard was a requirement to land an Antarctic research leadership role.

[…]

Steltzer echoed similar experiences. “At one point in time, women were present in equal measures to myself at a peer level,” she said. “But now that I’m in my early 40s, an associate professor, in many environments I’m in there are fewer women. There are ways we can do better.”

[…]

For Anne Christianson, a younger Homeward Bounder, the trip took on special importance for her work. Christianson is completing a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, and her dissertation focuses on how climate change disproportionately affects women in developing countries. She points out that, while it was easy to see the consequences of climate change watching glaciers in Antarctica, it’s important to keep in mind how climate change threatens women around the globe.

“We have these cascading impacts [of climate change] on women that simply aren’t seen in men,” Christianson said. “Women generally don’t have enough capital to build our own resilience to climate change.”

Rising temperatures are melting Antarctica. CREDIT: Anne Christianson.

Rising temperatures are melting Antarctica. CREDIT: Anne Christianson.

For Westerners, it’s easy to see climate change as a threat to poor and rural women in distant, impoverished countries. But climate change isn’t just melting glaciers in Antarctica and flooding cities in Bangladesh. It’s already imperiling women within the United States, and the threat is getting more dire. Over 83 percent of poor single mothers in New Orleans were displaced in the post-Hurricane Katrina housing crisis — a statistic that bodes ominously for future climate disasters.

“We’ve already had our own climate refugees in the Gulf and in Alaska,” Christianson said. “The majority of people in poverty in this country are women who will be less able to adapt to what’s coming with climate change. Having more resources allows you to move away from sea-level rise and heat waves, to switch jobs, to find alternate sources of food and fuel.”

Even for progressives in the United States, the link between climate and gender can be hard to grasp. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) attempted to start a conversation on the issue in 2015 in by proposing a resolution to recognize “the disparate impact of climate change on women and the efforts of women globally to address climate change.” The bill moved nowhere fast in Congress and became a target for right-wing media, as outlets like Breitbart, The Daily Caller, and Fox News mocked a line in the bill that linked climate-induced food insecurity to prostitution.

[…]

Both Christianson and Steltzer say the female perspective in science is more important now than ever.

“There is a certain understanding that women scientists have of how hard it is to be heard, and right now all scientists are understanding what women scientists have experienced,” Christianson said.

“We’ve been in this state before, but a lot of our male colleagues haven’t,” Christianson said. “Because we’ve had to fight so hard for our personal rights, now that we’re trying to make our voices heard in our field of interests, and now that men are joining us for the first time, really, we can have more of a leadership role in how to make our voices heard.”

According to Hayhoe, that’s already happening. Female leadership in climate at the international level as playing a role in shifting the climate conversation.

Excellent reading, highly recommended. Full story here.

More good reading: Women are leading the way in HIV research.

Word Wednesday.

Words1Obdurate / Obduracy.

Adjective.

1 a: stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing. b: hardened in feelings.
2: resistant to persuasion or softening influences. Syn., see Inflexible.

– obdurately, adverb.
– obdurateness, noun.

[Origin: Middle English, from Latin obduratus, past participle of obdurare to harden, from ob– against + durus hard.]

(15th Century)

Obduracy, noun, plural -cies: the quality or state of being obdurate. (1597)

I’m Milan, the man said, not offering his hand nor any shred of comfort in his voice, which was strangely accented, a dry obduracy to it as if each word were something to be wrestled then spat out. ” – Eleven Days, Stav Sherez.

Segregation Is A Great Choice!

President Donald Trump, right, meets with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais.

President Donald Trump, right, meets with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais.

Too much stupid. Too much open hate. Too much bigotry. Too Much. DeVos, the secretary of education…yeah, just go read. Oh, and what are people upset about? That Kelly Whatsherface had her feetsies on a white house couch! Oh Fuckin’ My. I could not possibly express my scorn for this country and the people in it.

Following President Trump’s meeting with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities on Monday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement applauding the schools as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.”

“They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality,” she continued. “Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

[…]

One HBCU president who met with Trump and DeVos on Monday was frustrated with how things went.

In a blog post, Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University in New Orleans, wrote that plans for the day “blew up” after the HBCU leaders were taken to the Oval Office to meet with Trump.

The whole fucking mess is here.

Word Wednesday.

Words1Pernicious.

Adjective.

1. highly injurious or destructive.

2. archaic: wicked.

– perniciously, adverb.

– perniciousness, noun.

Pernicious implies irreparable harm done through evil or insidious corrupting or undermining.

[Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin perniciosus, from pernicies destruction, from per – + nec -, nex violent death.] 15th Century.

I found this fellow at the bottom of the chest under a lot of other stuff. Fortunately our pernicious vicar hadn’t quite got to it before his collapse.” The Ghosts of Sleath, James Herbert.

Word Wednesday.

Words1Philippic.

 
Noun.

A discourse or declamation full of bitter condemnation: Tirade.

Origin: Middle French philippique, from Latin and Greek; Latin philippica, orationes philippicae, speeches of Cicero against Mark Antony, translation of Greek Philippikoi logoi, speeches of Demosthenes against Philip II of Macedon. Literally, speeches relating to Philip. (1592).

That was the kind of outburst Stefan had to put up with for five years as I worked on the Wharton bibliography, wading through file cards and fits. The explosion would usually be followed by an overly detailed explanation of what I was reading, then a philippic of one form or another. No wonder he was sick of everything Wharton.” – The Edith Wharton Murders, Lev Raphael.

Word Wednesday.

Words1Louche.

 
Adjective: not reputable or decent; dubious, shady.

[Origin: French, literally, cross-eyed, squint-eyed, Old French losche, from Latin luscus blind in one eye.]

And so it is with old HPL: the very model of an 18th century hipster, born decades too late to be one of the original louche laudanum-addicted romantic poets, and utterly unafraid to bore us by droning on and on about the essential crapness of culture since Edgar Allen Poe, the degeneracy of the modern age, &c. &c. &c.

– Equoid: A Laundry Novella, Charles Stross.