Teacher’s Corner: The Girl who Cried Wolf

We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf, which, in one version or the other is something adults tell children to warn them about the danger of lying or making up emergencies when there are none. The adults never bother to sit down and think about how fucked up the story and its message are, because if they did, they’d tell it to adults to warn about a different danger.

The boy who cried wolf is sent out to herd life stock, but children aren’t meant to be alone al day, they need company, they need intellectual stimulation, so the kid makes up stories to get people to pay attention to him. When he does so repeatedly, none of the adults asks “but why does he keep calling us, what does he actually need?” I know, the story is supposed to play in olden times when people didn’t give a fuck about the needs of children, but it’s told by adults today so I think the criticism is fair.

Instead, the adults decide to no longer pay attention to the kid at all, with the catastrophic result that we all know, and then the blame is put on the kid and not the adults who failed to keep him safe. This thinking has consequences, and it can have catastrophic consequences here and now. Slight CN for predatory behaviour.

Some kids at our school live in group homes. On Friday, those kids came to us and told us that on their way to school, three men in a red car had bothered them and talked to them and that they were afraid, with one of the girls being in tears. I called the group home to inform them about the incident and make sure the kids would be picked up after school so they were safe. The head of the home asked me which kids were affected and I told him the names, randomly starting with L. “Oh, you know”, he said, “we’re having some difficulties with L right now”. Man, do I know? I see L every day, I know she’s got her issues. “She likes to make up stories”. “I know”, I said, “but H, B and A are telling the same story.”

That was enough to convince him and they sent somebody to pick up the kids. Now imagine a world that was the exact same, except that H, B and A were with their families. In which L had been the only child those men in the car bothered. A world in which her story had been treated as “the girl who cried wolf” and they had left her alone without protection. Because she’s a kid who is in a difficult situation, who likes to make herself seem more important by making up stories.

So, dear adults, here’s the real morale of the story: When a child says they’re in danger, you run. If a child has made up stories about danger 99 times, you still run when they cry danger the 100th time. And then you sit the fuck down and think long and hard about why the kid is making up stories and you talk to the kid and try to find a way for them to deal with their issues that does not result in fake alarms. You do NOT handwave away a report about predatory men because of who made the report. If you want to talk to children about why making false alarms is bad, tell them that they’re wasting the time of the rescue services and that this may be dangerous to somebody else who is in real danger. The story about the boy who cried wolf is a story about adults failing their duty to keep children safe, so if you want to keep telling it, tell it to each other.

Remember Montreal

As chigau pointed out, it’s been 29 years since the École polytechnique massacre in Montreal, yet the story is all too common almost 30 years later. A white man who thought the world owed him a certain place went out to kill women, because he thought they were taking what was rightfully his, denying him his due.

While the event shocked not only the Canadian public, the ideology that led to it is far from eradicated. From Elliot Rogers over the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High to Alek Minassian killing women in Toronto, the pattern of entitlement and violence continues. And these are only the cases that make headlines, the cases where the victims were more or less randomly chosen. It doesn#t even get into the thousands of cases where men kill their (ex) partners or just a woman they hardly knew for turning them down.

And whenever these cases happen, the discussion is the same: mental illness is blamed*, women themselves are blamed. It’s a well practised dance around the violent misogynist mass murderer in the room.

This is why on this day of all, I have no moment of silence, but loud anger. For all of our sisters who have died and who will still die at the hands of men who think they are owed the world, and at the words of those who always have more empathy for the murderer than his victim.

 

*Before somebody feels the need to mention that X, Y, and Z had a history of mental illness, spare yourselves the time, I’ve got none for that discussion. While mental illness may make it easier for those men to turn to more extreme actions, it didn’t instil a hateful ideology into them and no mental illness ever forged a gun.

Teacher’s Corner: Burn the whole fucking system to the ground

Some days you just can’t even. You realise that the so called “free world” is so utterly cruel that you want to cry. Instead, you try to mitigate the harm it is causing.

One of the most marginalised groups in Europe are probably the Roma people. Even though they were just as prosecuted by the Nazis as the Jews were, this is apparently no reason to protect them today. The are still prosecuted, suffer pogroms and basically nobody cares. They have no future in their “home countries” and when they migrate, they suffer even more discrimination. For example, they cannot seek asylum in Germany, because, well, reasons I guess, and since they are often from non European Union countries, they cannot simply settle either, or get any welfare payments, except for the basic child subsidy.

We have a couple of Roma kids, and many of them live in absolute poverty. They live in homeless shelters, they live in run down houses. It is often difficult to talk to the parents, because we need an interpreter (thankfully there is a charity that works with us). therefore we often don’t even know what the problem is. One kid only came to school sporadically. She’s 11 years old, has lived in at least three different countries, can hardly read or write and is often sick.

Well, it’s not that the family didn’t want to send her to school, they send her whenever they have money for the bus. Oh, and they don’t have health insurance, so they cannot send her to the doctor, but if she feels ill it’s probably, because they have no food left. But if she fails in school, leaves without any qualification, marries young and has many children, it will of course be blamed on their culture. You know, because “those people” are like that.

Now that we know we can try to mitigate the effects. Get her a bus ticket, ask her if she’s had breakfast. The bus ticket is paid by a charity, the breakfast is something we just do among us teachers. Even if we can help her, what a poverty of humanism does this reveal in one of the richest countries on earth?

Teacher’s Corner: Come for the stress, stay for the misogyny!

It’s an open secret that female teachers often have a harder time than male teachers*. Not because we’re worse teachers, but because society tells kids, especially those assigned male that men have to be respected and women not so much. This is especially obvious when there are serious clashes, like it happened today.

As usually, the matter at hand was pretty unimportant. During class one boy put a handkerchief in front of his mouth, like the bad guy in  western. I told him to put that thing away and that if I saw it again that day I’d confiscate it. As the bell rang for recess, he had that thing in front of his mouth again and I told him to hand it over, which he did. But the hanky wasn’t his, but a classmate’s, who now protested loudly. Now, since he knew what would happen if I saw that thing again and still lent it to his classmate, I saw no reason to hand it back there and then. I told him he could pick it up after the 6th lesson, as it is usual in our school when we confiscate things. I had momentarily forgotten that they only had 5 lessons that day, but before I could correct myself, he yelled “are you fucking kidding me?”

I told him that I had just been about to correct myself, but for that disrespectful yelling, I would stand by lesson 6. Now, many of our students have problems with the difference between owning something and possessing something and the right to use something. They keep thinking that us taking stuff away from them for a defined period of time is theft (sadly many parents think the same). So the kid tried to threaten me with calling his mum who would pick it up for him! I called his bluff and invited him to do so. After lesson 6, because then I would have time to talk to his mum.

At that point he yelled the German equivalent of “go fuck yourself, bitch!” Well, he got part of what he asked for, I called his mum and told her to pick him up because he could no longer participate in school that day. I still have the handkerchief.

What was kind of surprising was my internal reaction. I’m used to a lot. Again, I work with kids with many issues in a neighbourhood with many social problems and I don’t take their shit personal. If they yell at me I usually shrug my shoulders, wait until they calm down, tell them about the consequences and move on. And I’m also not angry with that boy. He actually apologised and I accepted it, but for 5 minutes, I was completely shaken. Not because a kid had yelled at me. Or insulted me. But because for those words that cause a gut reaction in me and many other women, because we know that they are so often accompanied with violence. Because they are meant to put us into our place, to make us afraid. Just for a moment he succeeded. And there are no equivalent words that would do that to a man.

 

*Exceptions apply. I once had a male colleague who had serious problems with a class with whom I went along fine. One of the boys in his late adolescence chose that particular colleague to have his dominance fights with.

Thank goodness he found the culprit!

Pope Francis

Source: Wikimedia

Remember when “liberals” praised Pope Francis for being so progressive? Our lovely progressive Pope had to deal with some nasty issues like priests massively raping kids for decades and of course he promised to do whatever he can. So you’ll be glad to hear that he’s found the culprit.

The Devil.

Yes, you heard right. The Devil. The literal horns and hooves devil, who did it to undermine the Roman Catholic Church.  Oh, wait, did you think that the abused children were the victims here? You could not be more wrong! The real victim here is the church.

What an elegant way to absolve your horrible abusive institution from all the moral blame, especially those poor priest who were obviously under satanic influence.

Teacher’s Corner: I hate parents

Obligatory #not all parents, but if you’re one of those I don’t hate, we probably hate the same people.

I basically have two types of special needs kids: kids with learning difficulties and kids with socio-emotional difficulties. The later group can basically be divided into three groups: kids whose issues stem from their environment and past, kids whose issues are medical (ADHS, autism spectrum, …) and both. Which is why I hate parents.

With this new system of inclusive teaching we can do a lot for these kids. We can give them leeway in a way that wasn’t possible, often with me acting as a calming influence, taking them out of the context that is causing the conflict, spending the time somewhere else. Some kids write their tests alone with me in a room because for them it’s important to keep talking. That way they don’t disturb their classmates and don’t have to waste their energy on keeping quiet.

Those things are great, but they are only ONE part of a complex issue. I am not a psychiatrist, I cannot prescribe drugs. I’m not a therapist, I cannot do behavioural therapies or talk therapies or whatever*. And most importantly, I cannot change their homes. Some parents will simply refuse to see how big their kid’s issues are. We’ve got one mother who is convinced that her son is a little genius. He scored 122 points in one subtest of an IQ test! Sure, he refused the parts where he was expecting to perform poorly, and even if you believe in IQ tests, 122 isn’t exactly a genius, especially not when it’s that one peak. She therefore firmly believes that her son isn’t actually a kid with the emotional development of a three year old who is still suffering from the abuse that happened to him as a three year old. Her son is just way too smart for us and plays with us. She also believes that she can tell us how to run the school. Charming.

Another mother’s hobby is to threaten the teacher, because her darling innocent boy whom I saw chasing another kid through the school building and had to physically prevent from hurting that kid badly is being unfairly picked on.

And then there are the ones who simply don’t care. You implement checklists, systems with rewards, you write into their homework notebooks like every day and they will simply ignore it. The kid hasn’t had a pen to write with for 3 weeks? Who cares?**

All of this makes me very angry. Not because it’s exhausting to deal with those kids. It is, but I get paid for it and in the afternoon I go home. I’m angry because when those kids go home nothing has changed for them. Their chances are getting smaller with every day they’re not getting the support they need and that their parents are denying them, and our hands are bound because without the parents we can’t even get the school psychologist to talk to the kid. And it makes me even more angry when I see how their peers are doing who are getting that support. Surprisingly, often those kids do best who are in group homes because their responsible adults can deal with all of that without having their own lives and decisions challenged. I just wished that parents would leave their own vanity at the door and work for the good of their kids as well.

*Though a big part is actually listening.

 

**Yes, I know many parents in our school are poor. But just giving the kid a bottle of water to drink instead of a soda would both free enough money for a dozen pens a month and do the kid some good.

10 Plants: Bulldozed To Death.

In this June 17, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. | Photo: AP Photo / Jim Mone.

In this June 17, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. | Photo: AP Photo / Jim Mone.

That’s right: Confronted with a small-scale illicit marijuana grow on public land, the [Pennsylvania] State Police deployed a helicopter and the on-scene bulldozer and managed to kill their target. But that’s not how the cops tried to spin it.

Brought to you with utter disgust and contempt, contempt for fucking cops, who seem to be good for only one thing: murder. Contempt for the puritanical, colonial bullshit which is a complete blight on Amerikkan society.

You can read all the sordid details here.

I’d Prefer Abe Simpson…

The 72 year old Tiny Tyrant finally went there: “Get offa my lawn!” Just for the record, if there were desperate, frightened people standing on my lawn, I would do whatever I could to help them.

Source. You can see other choice responses at RawStory.

Alternative Bullshit.

Fool’s World Map: ‘Stultorum Infinitus est Nemerus’ G201:1/43. Source.

I was reading a post at Pharyngula about the “Intellectual Dark Web” idiots, and came to an abrupt halt over these sentences:

There is also an irritating but genuine grain of truth deep beneath the layers of whining. Campus leftists and their allies in the media are often no more open to alternative perspectives than the New Republic white male elite of two decades ago; they can behave badly too.

This was my comment in response:

I came to a screeching halt in front of this disgusting apologia. The rest isn’t worth my time. This is utter bullshit, there’s no “irritating, genuine grain of truth” there at all. “Alternative Views” is nuspeak for the same old evil bigotry and discrimination that people keep trying to resurrect. Sticking an “alt” in front of these old chestnuts doesn’t change a fucking thing. I can’t even say just how much I’ve come to loathe the word alternate, thanks to all the immoral, evil, toxic assholes embracing it, as if it heralded new ideas. All the whining is because people recognize their crap for what it is, and they aren’t interested in hearing it, or providing a venue for it. It’s about damned time, too.

Let them fucking whine, but don’t be trying to sell their shit as some sterling truth that’s truly new. Farrell should be smacked for writing such idiocy.

This is an ask, an ask to consider their brave, “new” views, which are exactly the same as the very old views, which place almost all people firmly in the inferior camp for one reason or another. It’s pushing the colonial mindset with its genocidal bigotry, the same old fucking bullshit people have been fighting against for much of history. There are always more smug bigots than there are thinking, accepting people, because bigotry is easy. We all live within frameworks of institutional and systemic racism of some sort, here in Ustates, it is the framework, and has been from the start. Just getting some people to even see that framework is a serious, brain-breaking chore. That framework makes it very easy to slide into bigotry, it’s a very comfortable fit for many people, and some of them just insist on justifying their “alternative, radical” views. Those views are not alt-anything, they are as old as the hills, and firmly status quo mainstream. They are not radical, they stink of the banality of evil.

These are people who are waving the Persecution Banner, while pulling down obscene amounts of money, most of it from bigoted fans who are stuffed full of aggrieved entitlement. These are people who are so damn desperate for power, they will say anything, and do anything for a chance at real power. I suspect at least some of them are laughing their arses off on the way to the bank every month, but this does not make them less harmful. They embrace obscurantism while smiling and claiming “science” backs them up. They want to be seen as great leaders, carrying the one and only torch of knowledge, only they understand enlightenment, and that enlightenment is in silencing and oppressing those deemed inferior, dismissing the hordes of the great unwashed with a faint wave of a hand. Bring up the days of the gentry to them, and you’d no doubt hear a chorus of wistful sighs.

It’s all bullshit. It’s not even alternative bullshit, just the same old centuries long song. There is not one alternate thing about it, not one truly new view, not even a hint of originality. These are people who long for the bad old days, and cry at every opportunity because they can’t have that.

Bullshit. Piles and piles of bullshit.

Dear Jim Bakker, Go Fuck Yourself.

Jim Bakker, a fan of the fanatical Jan Porter and her ‘heartbeat’ bill, has somehow come to the conclusion that there were two scientists who would have cured cancer, but they were aborted by evil wenches who had the unthinkable, autonomy. Naturally, Jehovah was the one who decided to “send” these two scientists, rather than doing something straightforward, like simply eliminating all cancers, which would be rather amazing, as it would require our cells to behave differently across our various lifetimes. Or Jehovah could have simply dropped a bit of super-duper brilliance on any of the current scientists researching cancer. Lots of choice there, to say the least.

Jim Bakker claimed that God has sent two scientists to earth who would have found the cure for cancer, but they were both aborted before that ever happened.

Bakker was interviewing extremist Religious Right activist Janet Porter and former Rep. Tom DeLay about their efforts to get Congress to pass Porter’s “Heartbeat Bill,” a radical piece of legislation that Porter brags will outlaw abortion “before the mother even knows she’s pregnant” and will be “the foot in the door” to eventually completely outlawing abortion. Bakker declared that Porter’s bill is “the most important thing going on in the world right now.”

Janet Porter is a dangerous fanatic, whose life desire is to stomp on women, ensure they will never have bodily autonomy, and she has no problem with women dying, she considers that suitable punishment for any women who dares to think her life is her own, and that she has the right to make her own medical decisions in privacy. If we actually had a government, rather than a regime, she might not be so worrying, but considering the regime currently in power, there’s a great deal to dread.

“This program could be an important cog to stop abortion in this country,” he added. “The thing we have done in America, we have killed our babies. We have killed the future of America. I told you the other day about a story, someone said they asked God, ‘Why haven’t we had a cure for cancer?’ And He said back, ‘I gave you two scientists that had the cure and both of them were aborted.’”

Oh FFS, the effing helicopter story. This is the stupid christian’s answer to anything and everything. I have seen and read so many fucking versions of that idiocy over the years, I’d like to cheerfully strangle the idiot who started it. Most christians think that’s just brilliant, which tells you a lot about most christians. As for a “cure for cancer”, there’s no such thing, and it’s not likely there ever will be. That’s because cancer is not one disease, it’s hundreds of diseases. Even within a category of a specific cancer, there are different types of that specific cancer. Cancers are born of cell mutations, and there have to be a number of different mutations before anything turns into cancer. Cell mutations often happen which don’t turn into cancer. Some cancers are easier to treat than others, and have a high remission rate. Research into cancer is constant, and it’s a never-ending race against time. A great deal of progress has been made, and a great many people are able to live their lives out, rather than die an untimely death.

For there to be ‘a cure’ for all cancers, that would qualify as a miracle, because no one treatment is effective against all cancers, that’s why current cancer treatments are targeted. So, Jehovah’s “two scientists” wouldn’t have been able to do shit where cancer is concerned. Once again, the sheer weakness and ineffectiveness of the christian god is what stands out. What’s the fucking point of being a god, if you go to the trouble to imbue a couple of blastocysts with miracle performance, but you couldn’t choose people who not only truly wanted a child, but had the necessary circumstances to have that child, and see that it gets a good education to boot? Or you know, wiggle a godly pinky finger and take care of the cancer business yourself?

To a christian, it doesn’t matter what the fuck happens in any given situation, their nasty, pointless god always gets the credit, especially when credit belongs to the people who make a life and death difference to someone.

As someone struggling with cancer treatment, this fucking attitude is infuriating, to say the least. A great many people over the years have helped to make brilliant leaps in treatment, and if I make it through treatment and come out clean on the other end, any gratitude I may have will belong to them, not the ugly ass god of christians. It is very christian to decide to use something like cancer to try to force the regressive oppression of women though, because cancer is still the big fucking scary, and too many christians are stupid and gullible enough to buy such awful dreck as some sort of skillful reasoning.

RWW has the story.

Saving A Tree, One Drip At A Time.

IV treatment helps Pillalamarri live another day. Courtesy of District Administration, Mahabubnagar.

IV treatment helps Pillalamarri live another day. Courtesy of District Administration, Mahabubnagar.

An amazing story, this.

If the roughly 800-year-old banyan tree in Mahabubnagar, India, could talk, it would probably tell you the IV inserted in its branches is saving its life. Termites infested the tree, reportedly one of the oldest in India, and gradually chipped away at its wood until the poor banyan was near the brink of death. Last December, some of the tree’s branches fell down because of the infestation, resulting in officials closing the attraction to the public.

Known as Pillalamarri because of its many interweaving branches, the banyan tree measures 405 feet from east to west and 408 feet from north to south, according to Mahabubnagar District Forest Officer Chukka Ganga Reddy. The crown of Pillalamarri extends to 1,263 feet and the tree is spread across nearly four acres. Underneath the tree stands a small shrine that supposedly dates back to the year 1200, but the tree’s exact age is unclear. Nevertheless, calling the Ficus benghalensis a great banyan tree would be an understatement.

Pillalamarri’s branches bend close to the soil. Courtesy of District Administration, Mahabubnagar.

Pillalamarri’s branches bend close to the soil. Courtesy of District Administration, Mahabubnagar.

Such greatness attracts 12,000 tourists per year from every corner of the country to awe at its sheer vastness, but this tourism has also caused some troubles for the tree. According to Telangana Today, when Pillalamarri turned into a tourist attraction nearly a decade ago, the state government cut down branches and built concrete sitting areas around the tree for tourists. Tourists picked at the leaves, climbed on the branches, and carved names into the bark. Furthermore, to keep the area clean, the grounds team burned fallen leaves, which was bad for the soil. A recently installed dam on a neighboring stream restricted water flow to the tree.

I will never understand the pointless destructiveness humans indulge in. A 700 year old living being should, at the very least, garner some respect.

…Officials initially injected the trunk with the pesticide chlorpyrifos, but saw no improvement. So they tried another method to prevent decay: hundreds of saline bottles filled with chlorpyrifos, inserted into Pillalamarri’s branches.

“This process has been effective,” Reddy told the Times of India. “Secondly, we are watering the roots with the diluted solution to kill the termites. And in a physical method, we are building concrete structures to support the collapsing heavy branches.”

…Despite the tree’s stable prospects, the public won’t be seeing Pillalamarri any time soon. When they do visit in the future, “this time people have to see it from a distance away from the barricades,” said Reddy. For now, drip-by-drip, the banyan tree’s health is returning to its former glory.

What a shame that all those who would show proper respect won’t be able to do so anymore. I’m impressed and happy that a way to treat Pillalamarri has been found, and profoundly sad and disappointed by the people who were so damn destructive. It doesn’t speak well of humans at all.

Atlas Obscura has the full story, and lots of links.