SubscribeStar Saturday: Educational Tyranny

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Apologies to readers for the delayed post.  After a long but productive week and a drive to Athens—not to mention a late-night dose of NyQuil—I’m getting a late start on this post.

Education is a field that tends towards authoritarianism and centralization, especially when faced with a major problem outside of its usual scope.  The field’s emphasis on safety—understandable given that teachers and administrators work with children—can become, in certain circumstances, pathological.

Schools, especially public schools, sit at the uncomfortable nexus of politics, liability, and conformity.  Various political schemes to improve education often backfire, instead creating onerous additional tasks that rank-and-file faculty shoulder.  Centralization of control at the State and federal levels, rather than aid classroom teaching, often merely force conformity on the profession, while creating unrealistic “benchmarks” that don’t align with local conditions or needs.

The ever-present fear of lawsuits reduces administrators to whimpering toadies, themselves often filled with silly pedagogical theories from bogus education programs.  Educational dogma is fully onboard with social justice foolishness, and education programs are excellent at producing dedicated Cultural Marxists and “activists,” all eager to indoctrinate students into the prevailing cult of groupthink.

Within this milieu is the tendency for professional educators to possess a bit of an authoritarian streak.  There are plenty of good teachers with an authoritative approach to both their subject matter and classroom management (the buzzword for “discipline” or control of the classroom), but some teachers and administrators relish control over their tiny little domains.  Small people ruling small fiefdoms tend to possess rather inflated senses of their own rightness and righteousness.

The Age of The Virus, then, provided the perfect conditions for justifying all manner of policies and procedures that do little to help children learn, but do a great deal to empower administrators, district offices, and the like with the pretexts for depriving students, employees, and parents of any modicum of personal and academic freedom.  The very same forces that would hawk abortions with the rallying cry of “my body, my choice” also gleefully mandate experimental mRNA vaccination regimens and literal muzzles—even for vaccinated employees!

Locally, the Darlington County School District has tied vaccination to COVID leave, an invention of the federal government that allows teachers quarantined or sick due to The Virus to receive paid COVID leave in lieu of their regular sick leave.  Per the article at the News & Press (emphasis added), “‘Some people may think this is controversial,’ Education Superintendent Tim Newman said. ‘Sometimes, you just have to take a stand for what you think is right.'”

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Festivals in The Age of The Virus

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Just when we thought life was returning to normal—or, perhaps, when we thought life was being allowed to return to normal—a wacky new variant of The Virus has reared its viral head.  We’re told it’s hyper-contagious, though the fact that it’s even milder than the original recipe is seldom mentioned.  Just as New Coke wasn’t as good as Coca-Cola Classic, so the Delta Variant is a poor imitation of The Wuhan Original.

Well, the sequel is never as good as the original.  Unfortunately, our public health overlords at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don’t see it that way.  They and their lackeys in the media are going full-scale alarmist, now recommending even vaccinated individuals to wear masks.

But, wait, didn’t The Vaccine purchase our freedom from masks?  Aren’t masks of dubious effectiveness, anyway?  Well, never mind.  The Cult of COVID holds sway among our ruling class, and they’re never wrong, and certainly never the architects of unmitigated disasters.  Let’s all chant the necessary rites—“Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve!”—“Socially Distance!”—“Wear a Mask!”—and surely St. Fauci will make the necessary sacrifices of civil liberties to appease the angry god COVID.

Among the many casualties of our adherence to this death cult is the many public events, those places where we used to gather to celebrate our shared history, heritage, and culture, and simply have some fun.  As the weather slowly hints towards crisp autumnality, it’s worth considering the fate of our beloved festivals.

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TBT: First Week of School in The Age of The Virus

School is back, and while I’d like to think The Age of The Virus is in its twilight death throes, the powers-that-be seem intent on foisting fearmongering variants upon us, no doubt as a pretext to strip us of more of our civil liberties.

Regardless, we’re starting back normally this year—as normally as possible—with a whopping 408 (and counting) students.  Considering we had fewer than 100 students a decade ago, that’s a pretty huge change.

Hopefully we won’t have any major outbreaks this year, as we largely avoided last school year.  We managed to get through with only a few isolated cases among students and faculty, and finished up with life largely back to normal in the final two months of the year.

It’s interesting looking back to the beginning of last school year and seeing how the year progressed.  The fiasco of using Loom lasted about two weeks for yours portly; I quickly reverted to using the desktop version of Google Meet to record my lectures.

I’m also relieved that I won’t be livestreaming classes anymore.  I don’t have anything to hide; it’s just a huge hassle getting online kids logged in, much less engaged.  There’d frequently be times when I was ten minutes into class and a student would log in after being marked absent; sometimes I wouldn’t catch that the student had entered class, and the student would then complain about the absence.

More frequently, students would log in the moment I’d sent the attendance e-mail to the registrar, so I’d have to resend the e-mail.  Sometimes the registrar wouldn’t see that second e-mail, and I’d get a call in the middle of class asking if the “missing” student had logged into class.

Those were minor issues when compared to bigger problems with the online platform—students suddenly switching to distance learning on test days, for example—but still headaches.  It probably cost a good five-to-ten minutes of class time just to take attendance.

Well, here’s to the normal amount of craziness and bureaucratic overreach of the typical school year.  With that, here is 28 August 2020’s “First Week of School in The Age of The Virus“:

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TBT: Back to the Grind 2020

This past Monday, teachers at my small private school resumed work, sitting through our annual OSHA blood-borne pathogens training and another sales pitch from the AFLAC representative (start offering long-term disability insurance, AFLAC, and I’ll buy a policy).  Registration for new and returning students is now in full swing.

Last year was a unique school year, with its own challenges and opportunities.  As I detailed in this post, we had a host of new sanitation procedures, as well as the odious masks.  This year, the masks are optional, but we’re still sanitizing desks and checking temperatures at the door.

Unlike last year, we’ll have all the fun stuff again:  pep rallies, chapel, etc.  I know the students will be excited for some fun events to return to campus.

Of course, that means yours portly will be back to hustling to satisfy the bottomless appetite for audio-visual production values the students (and my administration) crave.  One silver lining of last school year was the vast reduction in constant events and activities, which allowed me the time to focus on teaching and grading.

Oh, well—here’s to another year!  And here’s 10 August 2020’s “Back to the Grind 2020“:

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TBT: Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus

Earlier this week I was having a conversation with someone on Milo’s rollicking Telegram chat, in which we were trying to figure out the name of a short story involving people living in underground cells, communicating only via the Internet.  I had a feeling I had written about it before, but could not remember the name of the story.

Turns out it was E.M. Forster’s novella “The Machine Stops,” originally published in 1909, and I wrote about it in this catch-all post from the early days of The Age of The Virus (so early, in fact, I was not capitalizing the first “the” in that moniker, which I have texted so much, my last phone auto-predicted “The Age of The Virus”).  I compared the story to Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”–a story that apparently is assigned regularly in India, because pageviews for it always seem to coincide with large numbers of site visitors from the subcontinent.

But I digress.  The story sounded eerily like what our elites asked us to do during The Age of The Virus:  stay home, get fat, consume mindless entertainment, and don’t socialize.  Granted, some of us could go outside and plant gardens (I still got fat, though), but the messaging was not “become more self-sufficient so we can mitigate disaster” but “buy more stuff and don’t do anything fun.”  It was depressing to me how many people embraced this line of reasoning, turning government-mandated sloth into some kind of perverted virtue.

I appreciated the break that The Age of The Virus afforded us, but it came with the severe curtailment of liberty—and Americans ate it up!  Instead of people boldly throwing ravers and partying down, laughing at our elites, we instead retreated into our hovels, shuddering in the dark.  When I did through a big Halloween bash, it was a massive success—because, I suppose, people had finally had it.

I guess that’s the silver lining.  With that, here’s 3 April 2020’s “Phone it in Friday XI: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part IV: Liberty in the Age of The Virus” (perhaps the longest title of any blog post ever):

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TBT: Albino Giraffes Poached

I’ve had animals on the brain lately, especially dogs.  Perhaps it’s my girlfriend’s sweet German shepherd puppy, or my parents’ photogenic rat terrier; regardless, I realize I am becoming a softy for critters.

Not just the furry, charismatic ones, either:  I’m considering adding a small frog garden to my existing flower beds, as I have a number of toads and frogs that take up residence in my beds and planters already.  Giving them a murky little pond to splash about in would be fun, and might help cut down on some bugs in the yard.

So it is that I’m looking back to this horrible story from March 2020, about the poaching of two rare albino giraffes in Kenya.  In the original piece, I make quite a few wild speculations about the nature of the poachers, even implicating the 50,000 Chinese immigrants to the country.

Given that The Virus originated, most likely, in a Wuhan virology lab—suggesting the Chinese were working on some kind of horrible biological weapon—I’d say mistrust in China’s motives is justified.  It’s also a very weird culture, as the wet markets proved.  The Chinese long believed rhinoceros horn to be an aphrodisiac; how far-fetched would it be to think they would believe something similar about the flesh of an albino giraffe?

For that matter, Africa is still a land filled with many folk beliefs and superstitions.  Albino humans in Tanzania, for example, are the targets of witch doctors, who harvest albinos’ body parts for use in their dark magicGavin McInnes frequently mentions the belief among some African tribes that bald men’s heads are filled with gold.  And there is the horrific practice of AIDS sufferers raping virgins—especially very young children—in the belief that doing so will cure their affliction.

These are terrible things—far more wicked and evil than the murder of two albino giraffes.  But how we treat God’s Creation, even in its lower orders, is a reflection of how we treat one another.  Animal mutilation and murder is a key sign of a future serial killer or sociopath.

With that depressing preamble, here is 24 March 2020’s “Albino Giraffes Poached“:

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Decency Prevails: Make-A-Wish Foundation Rescinds Mask Requirement for Children

Well, this morning’s post aged poorly, but thankfully so:  The Make-A-Wish Foundation has reversed their decision to require terminally ill children and their families to be fully vaccinated in order to received their wishes.

You can read the full statement and a three-point summary here.  Here is the second bullet point from the summary:

We understand that there are many families whose children aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet, and we also know that there are families who are choosing not to get the vaccine. We respect everyone’s freedom of choice. Make-A-Wish will not require anyone to get vaccinated to get a wish.

The line about respecting “everyone’s freedom of choice” is key:  the organization received enough blowback that they’ve reversed their rhetoric from that of the “vaccinate-or-be-a-second-class-citizen” COVID Cult crowd to “you can make your own decisions about your healthcare.”  That’s a big shift, and demonstrates the power of speaking out against further Virus-related insanity.

Kudos to The Make-A-Wish Foundation for doing the right thing.

—TPP

TBT: Cass on Our Diminished Income

The other day my students and I were talking about the Model T Ford, which in the 1920s ran around $6000 in today’s money for a new car.  It is impossible to find a brand-new vehicle of any make for $6000 today.  Granted, a Ford Focus, for example, is packed with way more technology and safety features than a Model T from 100 years ago, and that technological advancement gets factored into the price.

But consider that in the 1990s, when Kia hit the American market, they advertised a new sedan for around $6999 (in 1990s’ dollars).  What would that be twenty-five years late—maybe $9000 or $10,000?  That price point, too, is virtually impossible.

I managed to purchase my current vehicle—a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV—for right around $9100.  It has around 45,000 miles on it when I bought it, and had been a rental vehicle before I purchased it.  I got a steal on that car—the closest comparable I’ve found since then was a list price of around $8900 (the list for my car was $8000 even).  That’s for a four-year old subcompact hatchback.

I got lucky when I found that car.  I figured it would be easy enough to find a decent car for under $10,000 when I began vehicle shopping in late 2019.  Boy, was I wrong.  Vehicles last longer than ever before, and maintain their value a very long time.  They’re also, as mentioned, packed full of technology and safety features that weren’t present even twenty years ago.  Trucks in particular hold their value extremely well; to find a truck in my price range, I’d have had to purchase a Ford F-150 from 1994 with half-a-million miles on it.

It’s great that cars last longer and are safer.  But those features—many of which drivers will never need or use—drive up the costs substantially.  Such was the point of an illuminating Twitter thread by Oren Cass, which demonstrates that, despite earning more money, Americans’ expenses for basic goods are substantially higher, requiring a whopping fifty-three weeks of pay to cover now versus a mere thirty weeks in 1985.  Naturally, given that there are only fifty-two weeks in a year, that presents a problem.

I don’t know the solution, but as I wrote a year ago, “Something’s gotta give.”

Indeed.  Here is 28 April 2020’s “Cass on Our Diminished Income“:

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When Does it End?

At my second Town of Lamar Council Meeting, my colleagues outvoted me 4-1 to renew Lamar’s mask ordinance for another sixty days.  They also shot down my proposal that we reopen council meetings to the public, who can currently only attend online via Facebook Live and Zoom.

That’s precisely what I expected to happen, and I appreciate their reasons:  concerns about safety, etc.  The big, lingering question—one I can’t get out of my mind—is “when does it end?”  At what point are we safe “enough” to remove our masks?

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