Archive | October, 2012

To PBS’ Jeffrey Brown: It’s not so much fragmented nation as people who don’t agree with ME are morons

31 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: John Stark of the Bellingham Herald wrote a report about a speech given by Jeffrey Brown of PBS. Stark reports in the article, PBS newsman sees danger in fragmented nation:

A fragmented nation and a fragmented audience for news is making the country more difficult to govern, PBS News Hour co-anchor Jeffrey Brown said during a weekend talk at Western Washington University.

A generation ago, before cable news channels and internet news sources, most people got their news from the same small collection of sources: three major TV networks and a hometown newspaper or two, Brown said. People gathered around their televisions for the assassination of a president, a walk on the moon, and other major events.

“It was an age of mass media news, one audience sharing a common experience,” Brown said. “For the most part, the mass audience experienced such things together.”

Brown, featured speaker for the university’s Fall Family Open House Saturday, Oct. 27, contrasted that world with the one we live in today, in which Americans can restrict themselves to cable news stations and internet news sources they find most congenial.

“For the most part, we now live in the world of niches,” Brown said.

Good Golly Miss Molly” is moi ever glad that this election is OVER. Let’s review the experience of one peep, moi. After moi made her decision and announced her choices, she posted the info at both Facebook and Twitter. The onslaught then began, people must have been incredulous about moi’s picks. Obviously, she lacked information, she must have been out of her mind. Despite the fact moi said that she knew who she was voting for and was voting on the basis of FIRST AMENDMENT considerations, the attempts to dissuade moi continued. Moi warned people and eventually put several people on hiatus from being Facebook friends.

What did moi deduce from this episode? It really is about respect and true tolerance. The threshold for Facebook friend is fairly low, but that category is fairly representative of a society or a culture. What moi found is is simply too hard for many people to respect the views of another person who may have different views. Many people are so condescending that they honestly believe they are the source of all truth and that people who disagree with them are morons.

No, Jeffrey, while it is true the country is fragmented, the real issue is tolerance and allowing that those who do not agree with ME are not evil or morons. They are simply different. In this era of hyper-partisan politics and different views on social issues it more important than ever to as the Beatles said, “Let It Be.” Just let people have their opinions, their politics, their religion, and their space.

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.
John F. Kennedy

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The great cultural divide: Many of us will never be secularists

28 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: There are many folks who simply just don’t get that there are many people of faith. This faith group is of a variety of religions and a variety of theologies. Some “liberal” strands of faith have no theology or interpret their theology in line with contemporary social thought. They see religion as part of a wider social movement. For this group, there are no fixed theological positions because the emphasis of their faith is “social justice” however that is defined. Many in this secularist religion group simply do not understand that many of faith have a fixed theological perspective on religion. They feel that theology does not change because the cultural context has changed. In this group there are eternal positions because they are very cognizant of an eternal life. Moi thought the many attempts to persuade her by providing lists of people who support a particular position were laughable. People who made the lists or who thought because this prominent person or that prominent person supported a position would make moi and many others jump on board were clueless. What they did not realize is that moi and others, to paraphrase the old Righteous Brothers song “believe in forever.” It doesn’t matter how many people, whether they are prominent or not believe something, that doesn’t change the theological perspective. Many of these proponents do not believe in the Bible, that it is a stupid little book that only morons follow. Moi suggests that these secularists spend some time digesting the book of Daniel. People of a non-secularist faith are not morons and really don’t want to be treated as such. So, the question is how do various groups operate in the society were all have to live.

Anthony B. Robinson has posted the intriguing opinion piece, Can religion and politics play nice?

All,” Volf terms “totalism,” (others might call it totalitarianism). Religious totalists want one religion, their own of course, to be legally established and in power, governing all aspects of a society’s life. This is true of radical forms of political Islam as well as for some versions of right-wing Christianity. It is what is sometimes decried as “theocracy.” Totalism, however, relies upon coercion, which Volf claims, “violates the central command [of God] to treat others as we would like them to treat us.”

The second big option is “nothing,” or “secularism,” which asserts that religious convictions really don’t belong in public debate at all. Believers, according to perspective, are to keep their faith “private,” limited to personal and family matters. In public and politics, religious conviction should be put on “idle.”

This is the Jeffersonian “separation of church and state.” Secularism is also the argument of the “New Atheists,” like Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. The problem here is that, in the name of liberalism, some world views are ruled “out of order,” and secular liberalism becomes in its own way coercive.

This is where Volf splits from traditional views. Instead of “separation,” he argues, the role of government should be neutrality. Volf proposes a third alternative that is based on accepting that we live in a society with a great and rich pluralism of religions, faiths and world-views (comprehensive philosophies that may or may not be religious in nature).

He speaks of the role of religions in such a pluralistic society as to that of being, “One player on the field; one voice among many.” In other words, different religions or world-views may each contribute their voice in the public discussion. They have as much right to share their views (in a non-coercive and legal way) as anyone else. But they have no right to have their views privileged or established.

Volf accepts that religious (and other) communities in a complex, pluralistic culture will continue to disagree and argue. And that’s not a problem. He would agree with the great Jesuit theologian of the mid-twentieth century, John Courtney Murray, who said, “A good argument is a great achievement.” (When was the last time you heard a “good” argument?)

The overriding question which Robinson tries to evade is whether the “Separation of Church and State” has gone too far.

Brian J. Hershorin of Expert Law has written the following discussion in the article, The Separation of Church and State: Have We Gone Too Far?

Taken literally, the Establishment Clause does not mention anything about a “separation between church and state.” This notion, which came about through a letter written by President Jefferson to the Danbury Connecticut Baptist Association in an effort to support the Establishment Clause, has now become a major source of discussion in the Supreme Court. In fact, the Establishment Clause and this fiction of a “separation between church and state” have been the driving force in many Supreme Court decisions that have little to do with establishing a national religion. It seems as if they arise as a way for state institutions to stay politically correct, so to not offend the melting pot American religions.

Modern interpretations of the Constitution have allowed the Supreme Court to stretch the meaning of the Establishment Clause beyond its original intent.

The U.S. was founded by a group of men with various religious philosophies.

Mallie Jane Kim’s U.S. News interview of history professor Thomas S. Kidd and article, The Founding Fathers, Religion, and God of the discussion highlights the role of religion:

What role did religion play during the Revolutionary era?

It’s there in ideas that help to motivate and unite the Revolution, most importantly the idea that all men are created equal that [Thomas] Jefferson articulates in the Declaration of Independence. That is not to say that all the Founding Fathers were exactly the same on their personal faith.

How did people with different religious beliefs unify?

A good example of this is the relationship between Jefferson and his evangelical supporters, of which he had many. Evangelical Baptists loved Jefferson, and they were one of his key constituencies in the 1800 presidential election when he was elected president over John Adams. That seems strange to us today because Jefferson was a skeptic personally about Christianity; he doubted some key Christian doctrines like the resurrection and the divinity of Christ, but he was the champion of religious liberty. When Jefferson writes the letter in which he uses the phrase “the wall of separation between church and state,” which is in 1802, he’s writing to a group of his evangelical supporters in Connecticut.

How did religion inform the Constitution?

The most important of those [religious principles] is the idea that you need to check and balance power within government because giving too much power to any one person or one branch of government is dangerous because of human nature. There was a widespread assumption among the Founding Fathers that people were naturally sinful, and if they had a chance that any one person would become a tyrant.

How did religion and politics intersect?

The early presidents set a pattern of routinely having proclamations of days of prayer and fasting. Early Congresses hired chaplains and put them on the payroll to lead sessions in prayer and so forth. Even Jefferson, who is known as this kind of far-reaching, strict separationist—we view him that way today—would attend church services in government buildings.

What did religion contribute to this era?

One is the principle of religious liberty for all people and the free exercise of religion that’s guaranteed in the First Amendment. And then also the notion that all men are created equal. It’s such a simple proposition, and yet it’s deep and powerful that whatever men may say, that we’re all equal before God, and that God is our source of rights. Later on, Martin Luther King [Jr.] called this America’s creed.

How has church-state separation changed?

We’re certainly a much more diverse society in terms of religion than the time of the founding, but I think that constitutional jurisprudence now has moved in the direction of having a one-size-fits-all model of church-state relations that leans toward the more secular interpretation. That is certainly not what the founders would have envisioned. It also can easily send a signal that the government is not just neutral on issues of religion, but that in some cases it’s hostile to interests of religion in general, and I think that is an impression the government should seek not to make.

How can people overcome religious differences to work together now?

Jefferson strikes me as an excellent example for more skeptical or secular folks in America today. He has his own doubts about faith, but he doesn’t necessarily need to impose those on people of faith. Conservative believers could also learn from some of the evangelical Baptists at the time of the founding, who were more than willing to support politically someone like Jefferson, even though they didn’t share his own beliefs.

This discussion brings us to the concept of tolerance which is not necessarily a secular idea.

Many secularists don’t view secularism as a religion. Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok writes in the article, The Religion of Secularism:

Secularism is the way most people live today. Its aim is to place traditional religion on the “back burner” of life and to instill a completely new way and outlook on life. Traditional religion taught that man lives for G-d and is here on earth to serve Him. The secular religion teaches a different credo. Man is here on earth to live for himself, man created G-d in his own image, not the other way around. G-d (and thus traditional religion) is here to serve the needs of man. The individual is paramount and his desires are sacred. While many might not desire or be willing to view secularism as a religion, the philosophy underlying it definitely fits the dictionary definition of what is a religion. One just need do a standard web search of online information and the official and accepted definitions of both religion and secularism become clear. Looking at them side by side one should be able to

draw one’s own conclusions. The Wikipedia, free online Encyclopedia has provided these statements. Religion—sometimes used inter-changeably with faith or belief system—is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices, values, and institutions associated with such belief. In its broadest sense some have defined it as the sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe Secularism means: in philosophy, the belief that life can be best lived by applying ethics, and the universe best understood, by processes of reasoning, without reference to a god or gods or other supernatural concepts.

A religion is a “belief concerning… the… divine.” Secularism is “the belief… without reference to a god.” Reference specifically not to mention a god is as much a statement of religion as is the mention a god. One way or the other a relationship between man and god is established, one in favor, and one against. Nonetheless, both fit the dictionary definition of a religion.

See, Religious restrictions index: how do countries compare?

Tolerance is defined as:


  1. The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily…: “religious tolerance”

If there is anything this past election has taught, it is the secularists are no more tolerant than the “religious Taliban” they claim to hate.

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Justin Timberlake: What the Hollywood ‘progressive’ crowd REALLY thinks about the peeps

27 Oct


I feel your pain

Bill Clinton

In some quarters of society, politics and show business for example, many elites want to convey to the peeps that they can “feel your pain.” Their mantra is: If one can sincerely fake insincerity, then you really have something. Moi first discussed the new “Gilded Age” in All that glitters in the ‘Gilded Age’ is not gold

Justin Timberlake is doing some serious damage control, according to the Daily Mail article, ‘I am deeply sorry’: Justin Timberlake apologises for ‘distasteful’ wedding video which mocked the homeless:

Justin TImberlake has issued an apology over a wedding video which mocked homeless people.

The singer, 31, who married Jessica Biel, 30, in a lavish $6.5million ceremony in Italy last week, branded the clip ‘distasteful’ and admitted he was ‘deeply sorry’ about the incident.

He was eager to distance himself from the controversy, making it clear he had ‘no knowledge of its existence’ and had ‘absolutely ZERO contribution to it.’

The video was created by Justin’s real estate friend Justin Huchel. It shows real homeless people on the LA streets purporting to be acquaintances who couldn’t make it to the opulent ceremony….

The video, which was first obtained byGawker and was allegedly shown at their post-ceremony bash, starts with the message, ‘greetings from your Hollywood friends who just couldn’t make it.’

After Eddie, the film then switches to a transvestite, who says: ‘Good luck and watch your man.’

It closses with a shirtless bearded man, who said: ‘Justin, Jessica, it’s me, Herbert.’

The full film is actually 8mins and 30secs long, and at points features Justin’s solo hit SexyBack.

A man’s voice is heard speaking off-camera at one point, apparently Huchel’s, and he asks a man when he last saw Timberlake and Biel, adding, ‘Did you and Jessica mess around?’

After the brief messages it fades to black screen with the titling, ‘Love Huch and Rachel.’

Huchel’s attorney Michael Saltz confirmed the video was shown to guests at the wedding in a letter sent to Gawker after the estate agent was approached for comment.

Timberlake’s crowd is not the only bobble-head group who was caught in the act of disparaging those considered to be less worthy.

According to the Seattle Times article, State Democratic Party will donate money from JZ Knight after offensive comments, guru to many famous and many stars unloaded with the following comments:

Knight made the controversial comments in one of her famous sessions in which she claims to channel “Ramtha” – a 35,000-year-old warrior. She has thousands of students who follow the teachings of the ancient spirit and founded an 80-acre school complex in 1988 in Yelm.

The Democrats’ about-face came after more videos of Knight were released Friday by the Freedom Foundation, a conservative Olympia think tank. In one video, recorded last year, Knight goes on a profane rant about “the invasion of the Mexicans who just breed like rabbits.” In another, from the same event, Knight says that “all gay men were once Catholic women.

That followed earlier videos, distributed by the state Republican Party, in which Knight made other offensive comments about Catholics, Jews and others. Republicans had called for the Democratic Party to return the Knight donations but were met with refusal until Friday.

(The videos can be viewed at this web site, but be warned, they contain vulgar and offensive language.)

The Economist published an interesting review of Charles Murray’s Washington Post commentary.

In Charles Murray’s new elitism, the Economist opines:

Mr Murray goes on to describe how self-sorting among the new cognitive elite leads to ever-increasing stratification. Following an example set by David Brooks in “Bobos in Paradise”, he looks to the New York Times‘ weddings announcements.

Three examples lifted from last Sunday’s Times: a director of marketing at a biotech company (Stanford undergrad, Harvard MBA) married a consultant to the aerospace industry (Stanford undergrad, Harvard MPP); a vice president at Goldman Sachs (Yale) married a director of retail development for a financial software firm (Hofstra); and a third-year resident in cardiology (Yale undergrad) married a third-year resident in pathology (Columbia undergrad, summa cum laude).

The New Elite marry each other, combining their large incomes and genius genes, and then produce offspring who get the benefit of both. We are watching the maturation of the cognitive stratification that Richard J. Herrnstein and I described in “The Bell Curve” back in 1994. When educational and professional opportunities first opened up, we saw social churning galore, as youngsters benefited from opportunities that their parents had been denied. But that phase lasted only a generation or two, slowed by this inescapable paradox: The more efficiently a society identifies the most able young people of both sexes, sends them to the best colleges, unleashes them into an economy that is tailor-made for people with their abilities and lets proximity take its course, the sooner a New Elite — the “cognitive elite” that Herrnstein and I described — becomes a class unto itself. It is by no means a closed club, as Barack Obama’s example proves. But the credentials for admission are increasingly held by the children of those who are already members. An elite that passes only money to the next generation is evanescent (“Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations,” as the adage has it). An elite that also passes on ability is more tenacious, and the chasm between it and the rest of society widens.“Genius genes.” “Cognitive stratification.” “Passes on ability.” Let me put this plainly here, because Mr Murray won’t. Attention all tea-partiers: Charles Murray thinks Barack Obama is smart, and you’re dumb. Just as, in “The Bell Curve”, he argued that the main reason black people earn less than white people is that most black people aren’t as smart as most white people, he argues here that the main reason people in small towns and rural areas earn less than people in coastal creative-class cities, and why they have less influence on national culture and government policy, is that they were by and large too dumb to get into good colleges. Furthermore, he argues that the main reason they were too dumb to get into those colleges is that their parents were dumb, too…

Bottom line, Timberlake, Knight and their cronies have perfected the art of faking sincerity among their public and revealing their true selves to THEIR CRONIES. No wonder they are what the public seems to want in public life. If one can sincerely fake sincerity, then you have something.


U.S. Income Inequality: It’s Worse Today Than It Was in 1774

The Surprising Truths About Income Inequality in America

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California high school: The ‘fantasy slut league’

25 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi’s attention was caught by Bryan Toporek’s Education Week article about a “fantasy slut league.” It was one of those “say, what” moments. Many women struggle with feelings of inadequacy, but to to volunteer to be used, as the kids say, as someone’s bitch? Well, what’s going on? Alison Fitch has a great article at Self Esteem4 Women. Com, Feeling Worthless:

No matter how tough your childhood, no matter how rotten your luck, you can CHOOSE to enrich the world every day simply by the way you interact with others, by the way you make caring decisions, and by the way you feel about yourself.

If you’re feeling worthless right now, then I’d like to ask you a question. What proactive steps have you been taking recently to overcome those feelings? Many, many women – when I put this question to them – answer with something along the lines of “um, well, nothing really because I feel stuck in a rut”.

Those women, all of them, are certainly not happy that they feel like that. But feeling like that is a habit that has become – almost paradoxically – a source of comfort to them. Why? For one of two reasons:

  1. Feeling worthless is a safe option because it reduces the amount of pain you suffer when things go wrong. If you already know that you’re no good and that no one will fall in love with you, or give you a job, or even care enough to listen to you, then when a rejection wings its way towards you – which it certainly will because it happens to all of us – then you’re better prepared than most. You can say: “Ah ha, you can’t ruin my life because I already knew this was going to happen; I already knew that you didn’t really love me/want me/value me!”
  2. Feeling worthless is an easy option; if you’re worthless there’s no need to try to do well and succeed in the things that matter to you because there is simply no point. Also, if you act as if your opinions and your desires are all worthless then people leave you alone. If you say you have no remarkable skills or talents then there is no need to apply them. If you say that you are a useless, hopeless nobody then people will expect far less from you. And just maybe you could get lots of sympathy and perhaps even another person (on a white horse in shining armour) coming to your rescue to sort your life out for you.

deep down, all of us really WANT to feel valued

But, the harsh truth is, we will feel valued only if we are willing to contribute something to the world around us. And whether we contribute anything or not is a choice. OUR choice.

Obviously, the young women drafted into the “fantasy slut league” felt pretty worthless before they were drafted.

One of the hallmarks of a generation or a cohort are attitudes which were formed by the period of time in which the generation or cohort existed. Perhaps, the best capsule to explain the attitude differences between the early days of the women’s movement and the sex is one way to climb the ladder of success ethos of the Sex in the City crowd is in the Dolly Parton movie, 9 to 5 which was released in 1980. It is interesting to read the NOW 1966 Statement of Purpose which states principles such as:

WE BELIEVE that it is as essential for every girl to be educated to her full potential of human ability as it is for every boy — with the knowledge that such education is the key to effective participation in today’s economy and that, for a girl as for a boy, education can only be serious where there is expectation that it will be used in society. We believe that American educators are capable of devising means of imparting such expectations to girl students. Moreover, we consider the decline in the proportion of women receiving higher and professional education to be evidence of discrimination. This discrimination may take the form of quotas against the admission of women to colleges, and professional schools; lack of encouragement by parents, counselors and educators; denial of loans or fellowships; or the traditional or arbitrary procedures in graduate and professional training geared in terms of men, which inadvertently discriminate against women. We believe that the same serious attention must be given to high school dropouts who are girls as to boys.

The naive little idea which NOW was enunciating at the time that was that women should get educated and gain experience so that they would be qualified on their merits for promotion. Women’s ENews has an article about the casting couch syndrome which the movie 9 to 5 highlighted and the early women’s movement fought so hard to overcome.

In the article Sexual Harassment  Sandra Kobrin correctly takes the likes of Polanski and Letterman to task.

But, is there to be no questioning of the behavior of a generation of young women fed the pablum of Candace Bushnell of Sex and the City fame. To quote Ms. Bushnell:

. . . She was obsessed with clothes and status, how she never gave a thought to being responsible for her own actions, or even what she might do for anyone else-making her the ultimate example of all that was wrong and misguided about young women today.”

Candace Bushnell (One Fifth Avenue)

One wonders if young women taking the trip through whoredom have  read that quote? Brett Michael Dykes writes at the Yahoo Blog about The Women of the David Letterman Scandal, all of whom seem to be well educated with the possibility of traveling a number of paths which did not have to include the casting couch.

Bryan Toporek reports in the Education Week article, Calif. School Responds to Student-Athlete ‘Fantasy Slut League’:

Piedmont Principal Rich Kitchens sent a letter to parents on Friday, Oct. 19, which was posted on Piedmont Patch, spelling out details about the student-athletes’ sordid fantasy league and explaining why no one has been punished.

According to the letter, over the past 5-6 years a group of varsity male student-athletes “drafted” females in their school and earned “points” for engaging in certain sexual activities with said females.

The principal’s letter didn’t go into specifics about what activities earned points, but in fantasy football, for instance, points are generally awarded for receptions, yards gained, and touchdowns. Use your imagination to fill in the rest.

Most of the females didn’t know of their involvement in the league, the letter alleges, although some were aware of their participation.

Students of both genders allegedly felt pressure to participate, with older students allegedly providing alcohol for younger students at times “to impair judgment/control.”

The school hasn’t punished the student-athletes involved, however, because the activity was judged to be off-campus, and thus not subject to school discipline.

“At this point, because we do not have specifics about participants or victims, our focus is on education and understanding moving forward, not discipline for past activities,” Kitchens wrote.

How will the school move forward? According to the letter, Kitchens will be instituting meetings at the beginning of each sports season “to address issues of sportsmanship, conduct, and integrity.” The school’s drama teacher is developing an assembly to address the issue as well.

“We’ve got a few irons in the fire from the school’s point of view, but my whole impetus for sending out the letter was to communicate with parents some facts about what’s going on,” he later said to the Los Angeles Times.

Kitchens’ letter also says that current varsity student-athletes have also pledged that the “fantasy slut league” will not be continued, moving forward.

A word of advice to any student-athletes looking to start their own imitation fantasy slut league: Don’t do it. Nothing good can come of it.

As technology only becomes more ubiquitous and linked, and Google searches only grow more important in terms of college and job applications, the last thing you need is a Google search on your name to return “founder of _____ school’s fantasy slut league” as the first result.

Stephen Perrine has a good article, How To Bimbo Proof Your Daughter  which is also good advice for sons.  The point is parents must engage their children and offer them alternatives to the culture which is trying to turn children into Snooki, Miley, Lindsey, and Paris clones. Remember that education which includes not only the academic, but positive role models is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and school. All parties must be involved and engaged.

The American Psychological Association has written a report Sexualization of Girls and the Executive Summary contains the following definition:

There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;

  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;

  • a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or

  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.

This society is setting up women and girls to make some personally destructive choices which have nothing to do with a liberating and healthy sexuality. Much of the culture is simply aimed at demeaning and trivializing women. Children of both sexes need to be urged toward education, training, and life experiences which grow them as responsible and caring people. They should be urged to make choices which benefit them and the society in which they live. Unfortunately, there are some who enter the world of whoredom because they are forced. There is a lot of information about human trafficking No one in their right mind would honestly advocate that someone they care about was “in the life” or “on the game.” But if young women are going to voluntarily take the road of whoredom, then you need to sell yourselves for Goldman Sachs type $$$$$$$$$$. That is what Miley, Britney, Janet and the other pop tarts have done. Short of that, you might as well be walking the streets looking for a really nice car that isn’t leased so that you can become the next “Pretty Woman.


Bimbos, himbos, and role models                              

Children too sexy for their years                               

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Not P.C., but it is true, parents and parenting matter

24 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Many “progressives” want to put forth the idea that families don’t matter, particularly in low-income communities of color. It is a different story in middle and upper income “progressive” families as they “helicopter parent “their children. There are some awesome single-parent households, but moi is going all “OLD FART” on you and saying that children need two active, engaged,and involved parents to thrive.

Annie Murphy Paul has written the thoughtful Time opinion piece, Why Parenting Is More Important Than Schools:

A study published earlier this month by researchers at North Carolina State University, Brigham Young University and the University of California-Irvine, for example, finds that parental involvement — checking homework, attending school meetings and events, discussing school activities at home — has a more powerful influence on students’ academic performance than anything about the school the students attend. Another study, published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, reports that the effort put forth by parents (reading stories aloud, meeting with teachers) has a bigger impact on their children’s educational achievement than the effort expended by either teachers or the students themselves. And a third study concludes that schools would have to increase their spending by more than $1,000 per pupil in order to achieve the same results that are gained with parental involvement (not likely in this stretched economic era).

So parents matter — a point made clear by decades of research showing that a major part of the academic advantage held by children from affluent families comes from the “concerted cultivation of children” as compared to the more laissez-faire style of parenting common in working-class families. But this research also reveals something else: that parents, of all backgrounds, don’t need to buy expensive educational toys or digital devices for their kids in order to give them an edge. They don’t need to chauffeur their offspring to enrichment classes or test-prep courses. What they need to do with their children is much simpler: talk.

But not just any talk. Although well-known research by psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley has shown that professional parents talk more to their children than less-affluent parents — a lot more, resulting in a 30 million “word gap” by the time children reach age three — more recent research is refining our sense of exactly what kinds of talk at home foster children’s success at school. For example, a study conducted by researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health and published in the journal Pediatrics found that two-way adult-child conversations were six times as potent in promoting language development as interludes in which the adult did all the talking. Engaging in this reciprocal back-and-forth gives children a chance to try out language for themselves, and also gives them the sense that their thoughts and opinions matter. As they grow older, this feeling helps middle- and upper-class kids develop into assertive advocates for their own interests, while working-class students tend to avoid asking for help or arguing their own case with teachers, according to research presented at American Sociological Association conference earlier this year….

This comment is not politically correct. If you want politically correct, stop reading. Children, especially boys, need positive male role models. They don’t need another “uncle” or “fiancée” who when the chips are down cashes out. By the way, what is the new definition of “fiancée?” Is that someone who is rented for an indefinite term to introduce the kids from your last “fiancée” to?

Back in the day, “fiancée” meant one was engaged to be married, got married and then had kids. Nowadays, it means some one who hangs around for an indeterminate period of time and who may or may not formalize a relationship with “baby mama.” Kids don’t need someone in their lives who has as a relationship strategy only dating women with children because they are available and probably desperate. What children, especially boys, need are men who are consistently there for them, who model good behavior and values, and who consistently care for loved ones. They don’t need men who have checked out of building relationships and those who are nothing more than sperm donors.

This Washington Post article made me think about the importance of healthy male role models in a child’s life. This article is about a good male role model, a hero. Number of Black Male Teachers Belies Their Influence

“I love teaching, and I feel like I am needed,” said Thomas, 33, of Bowie. “We need black male teachers in our classrooms because that is the closest connection we are able to make to children. It is critical for all students to see black men in the classrooms involved in trying to make sure they learn and enjoy being in school.”

The shortage of black male teachers compounds the difficulties that many African American boys face in school. About half of black male students do not complete high school in four years, statistics show. Black males also tend to score lower on standardized tests, take fewer Advanced Placement courses and are suspended and expelled at higher rates than other groups, officials said.

Educators said black male teachers expose students to black men as authority figures, help minority students feel that they belong, motivate black students to achieve, demonstrate positive male-female relationships to black girls and provide African American youths with role models and mentors.

The reason that teachers like Will Thomas are needed, not just for African American kids, is because the number of households headed by single-parents, particularly single women is growing. Not all single parent households are unsuccessful in raising children, but enough of them are in crisis that society should be concerned. The principle issues with single parenting are a division of labor and poverty. Two parents can share parenting responsibilities and often provide two incomes, which lift many families out of poverty. Families that have above poverty level incomes face fewer challenges than families living in poverty. Still, all families face the issue of providing good role models for their children. As a society, we are like the Marines, looking for a few good men.

Jennifer Aniston got into a flap about her opinion regarding single motherhood. As reported by the Celebitchy blog in the post, Bill O’Reilly Takes On Jennifer Aniston’s Pro-Single Mother Comments  Aniston said:

Women are realizing it more and more knowing that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child. Times have changed and that is also what is amazing… that we do have so many options these days, as opposed to our parents’ days when you can’t have children because you have waited too long. The point of the movie is what is it that defines family? It isn’t necessarily the traditional mother, father, two children and a dog named Spot. Love is love and family is what is around you and who is in your immediate sphere. That is what I love about this movie. It is saying it is not the traditional sort of stereotype of what we have been taught as a society of what family is.

See, Andrea Peyser’s Gals Being Lost in ‘No Man’ Land

Children need role models of both genders to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Niesha Lofing of Mc Clatchy Newspapers has a wonderful article which was reprinted in the Seattle Times, Father-Son Bonding Key to Development The article begins with the story of Mike and Brandon Mc Nealy, a father and son who built their relationship by working on 1979 Lincoln Continental and then describes their road trip across the country to the 30 major league baseball stadiums. The article has some great advice on how dads can connect with kids:

Why does the culture think that the opinion of any celebrity should be valued above common sense? Celebrities will often repeat the mantra that they are not role models and really want to work on their art or their craft. But, many young people look up to these babbling heads as if they are an example of the best way to live. For most young folks, a more realistic picture of single motherhood can be found at MTV’s Teen Mom.

Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. writes in the Psych Central article, Fathering in America: What’s A Father Supposed to Do?

What’s a Father To Do?

  • Embrace your responsibility. Once you are a father, you are a father for life. The knowledge of fatherhood changes a man. It can be a source of pride and maturity or a source of shame and regret. Even if you have good reasons for not being actively involved, acknowledging your paternity is a minimal gift you can provide to your child. With it come many legal, psychological, and financial benefits. If you want to be in your child’s life, it also protects your rights to have time with your child should you and the child’s mother have a falling out.

  • Be there. In study after study, kids consistently say they would like to have more time with their dads. Regardless of whether a dad shares a home with the children and their mother, the kids need dad time. Working together on a chore or simply hanging out can be as meaningful as attending events or having adventures. Kids want to know their fathers. Just as important, they want their fathers to know them.

  • Be there throughout their childhoods. There is no time in a child’s life that doesn’t count. Research has shown that even infants know and respond to their fathers differently than they do to their mothers. The bond you make with a baby sets the foundation for a lifetime. As the kids get older, they’ll need you in different ways but they will always need you. Insistent toddler, curious preschooler, growing child, prickly adolescent: Each age and stage will have its challenges and rewards. Kids whose parents let them know that they are worth their parents’ time and attention are kids who grow up healthy and strong. Boys and girls who grow up with attention and approval from their dads as well as their moms tend to be more successful in life.

  • Respond to the needs of the kids, not your relationship with their mother. Regardless of whether you are getting along with your girlfriend or wife (present or ex), your relationship with the kids is exactly that: your relationship with the kids. The kids need predictability. They need care. They need a loving relationship with you. They need whatever financial support you can provide. None of these things should depend on whether you’ve had a disagreement or fight with their mom. None of these things should ever be withheld as a way to get even with her.

  • Be in a respectful and appreciative relationship with their mother. Being a good dad is certainly possible both inside and outside of marriage. Regardless of whether you and their mom can work out how to be a committed couple, you can support each other as parents. Kids grow best when their parents treat each other with respect and appreciation. The kids then don’t feel torn between the two people they love.

  • Do your financial share. Kids need to be fed, clothed, housed, and cared for. Children whose parents provide for them live better lives, feel valued, and have better relationships with both their parents. They need the role model of a responsible male acting responsibly. Just as they need you to be present in their lives, regardless of whether you live with their mom, they also need you to live up to financial obligations to the very best of your ability.

  • Balance discipline with fun. Some dads make the mistake of being only the disciplinarian. The kids grow up afraid of their dads and unable to see the man behind the rules. An equal and opposite mistake is being so focused on fun that you become one of the kids, leaving their mother always to be the heavy. Kids need to have fathers who know both how to set reasonable, firm limits and how to relax and have a good time. Give yourself and the kids the stability that comes with clear limits and the good memories that come with play.

  • Be a role model of adult manhood. Both boys and girls need you as a role model for what it means to be adult and male. Make no mistake: The kids are observing you every minute. They are taking in how you treat others, how you manage stress and frustrations, how you fulfill your obligations, and whether you carry yourself with dignity. Consciously or not, the boys will become like you. The girls will look for a man very much like you. Give them an idea of manhood (and relationships) you can be proud of.

Beyond these considerations, there is little agreement about how an “ideal father” should behave. It doesn’t seem to matter (in terms of the mental health of children) whether fathers work out of the home or stay home with the kids. It doesn’t seem to matter what job a dad has or how much money a dad makes, as long as he is doing his best. It doesn’t seem to matter what his interests and skills are, as long as he shares them with his children. It doesn’t seem to matter whether a father is very physically affectionate or loves more quietly as long as the kids know that he most certainly cares about them. What matters is for fathers to be committed to their children and involved with them over time. When fathers take that responsibility seriously, their children are more likely to do well and the fathers have few regrets.

Jesse Washington of AP wrote a comprehensive article which details the magnitude of the disaster which is occurring in the African American community. In the article, Blacks Struggle With 72% Unwed Mother Rate which was reprinted at SeattlePI.Com Washington sounds an alarm which if you can’t hear it, makes you deaf.

This is not about racism or being elitist. This is about survival of an indigenous American culture. This is not about speaking the truth to power, it is about speaking the truth. The truth is children need two parents to help them develop properly and the majority of single parent headed families will live in poverty. Children from single parent homes have more difficult lives. So called “progressives” who want to make their Sex and the City life style choices the norm because they have a difficult time dealing with the emotional wreckage of their lives, need to shut-up when it comes to the survival of the African American community. This is an issue that the so called educated classes and religious communities have to get involved in.

If you are a young unmarried woman of any color, you probably do not have the resources either emotional or financial to parent a child(ren). If you don’t care about your future, care about the future of your child. If you want to sleep with everything that has a pulse, that is your choice. BUT, you have no right to choose a life of poverty and misery and misery for a child. As for those so called “progressives?” Just shut-up.

Michael Jackson said it best with the lyrics to Man In The Mirror

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It’s Merry Christmas, Dammit!

22 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi dropped by the dollar store today to find out what is happin in the world of the peeps. The dollar store has Christmas stuff out already. Say what? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. That got moi thinking about tolerance and what all those P.C. folks define as tolerance. Usually, it means my way or the highway. Here is a definition of tolerance:




a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.


a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

Notice the emphasis on “permissive.”

Moi really doesn’t have any problems celebrating any person’s holiday which has a buffet attached and if your holiday has a wine toast, moi is there early and well help you set-up. Moi is secure in what she believes so she can wish you a Happy Chanukah (Hanukkah), Eid, Festivus, Happy Birthday Madeline Murray O’Hair, and Happy My Dog Looks Cute, whatever. It is all about wishing the other person the best.

This is the definition of holiday:




a day fixed by law or custom on which ordinary business is suspended in commemoration of some event or in honor of some person.


any day of exemption from work ( distinguished from working day).


a time or period of exemption from any requirement, duty, assessment, etc.: New businesses may be granted a one-year tax holiday.

This is the definition of Christmas:


1. A Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus.

2. December 25, the day on which this feast is celebrated.

3. Christmastide.

So, businesses and others who want to remove Christ from Christmas are more than happy to make most of their year’s profits from a festival while denying the reason for the celebration. If someone is so unhinged as to not be tolerant, should we tolerate their attitude?

Moi loves Christmas, it should have trees, lights, and glitter. If one wants to throw in a Menorah, Crescent, and Uncle Festus, that is fine. Just put lights on them. Christmas should look like Vegas.

The great thing about being an OLD FART is folks know one is politically incorrect a great deal of the time. So, Merry Christmas, Dammit.

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FIRST AMENDMENT defense or ‘pro-life’ crazy: Labels used NOT to describe, but to demean

21 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: There is a race between partisans of all types to get the jump on labeling or defining anyone who has a different opinion with a “label.” Usually, that “label” will be as demeaning as possible and often loaded with charged words. For example, calling a politician a “socialist” is meant to demonize. Saying that a political figure supports a “war on women” is another politically charged description. Often, people’s opinions are more nuanced than these politically charged terms describe. Back in the dinosaur days, the aspirational goal of those who were journalists was to accurately report the news. Now, the goal seems to be frame the news to support a particular agenda. A case in point is a Seattle rally in support of the FIRST AMENDMENT.

Mark Miller and KOMO4 News staff report in the article, Pro-life rally continues battle over health care reform:

A boisterous rally Saturday in downtown Seattle shows that the battle over President Obama’s health care reform law isn’t over, even though some of it has already taken effect.

A crowd of about 200 gathered outside the U.S. District Courthouse to speak against the law and stress their belief that the government is trying to dictate morality.

The group consisted of conservative, mostly religious-affiliated protesters who have opposed health-care reform all along, and still want the president to take some of it back. The say the law is an attack on their religious  freedom.

Political Research Associates has a great capsule description of Dehumanization and Demonization:

To understand scapegoating we must consider how we identify and perceive our enemies. A first step is marginalization, the processes whereby targeted individuals or groups are pictured (in the sense of being framed) as outside the circle of wholesome mainstream society. The next step is objectification or dehumanization, the process of negatively labeling a person or group of people so they become perceived more as objects rather than real people. Dehumanization often is associated with the belief that a particular group of people are inferior or threatening. The final step is demonization, the person or group is seen as totally malevolent, sinful, and evil. It is easier to rationalize stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, and even violence against those who are dehumanized or demonized.

Demonization fuels dualism-a form of binary thinking that divides the world into good versus evil with no middle ground tolerated. Dualism allows no acknowledgment of complexity, nuance, or ambiguity in debates; and promotes hostility toward those who suggest coexistence, toleration, pragmatism, compromise, or mediation.

Aho observes that our notions of the enemy “in our everyday life world,” is that the “enemy’s presence in our midst is a pathology of the social organism serious enough to require the most far-reaching remedies: quarantine, political excision, or, to use a particularly revealing, expression, liquidation and expulsion.”

We are at a point in this society where ideas and people are labeled not to describe, BUT to demean. This rally could have just as easily been labeled a march in support of the FIRST AMENDMENT, but that probably would not reflect the political views of the reporter. Moi proudly wears the moniker ‘OLD FART’ because that is the way a person who wanted to demean and demoralize moi wanted others to describe her. People stand up to bullies by throwing their taunts back at them. This was a march in support of the FIRST AMENDMENT. People that support this action may have many opinions about a variety of subjects. Moi is personally against abortion, but supports the current law. Moi supports birth control and moi supports the FIRST AMENDMENT. So there

It’s easy to demonize from a distance.
Rick Warren

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Leadership vacuum leads to leadership vacuous

21 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: As moi watches the debates, she sees not leadership, but leadership vacuous.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.
Peter Drucker

So much of economic development and full employment is based on an educated and skilled population. Third world countries are undeveloped for many reasons including unsustainable debt, corruption, and being disadvantaged in the world system of trade. One of the primary reasons that third world countries are third world is the limited education opportunity for the majority of their population. Moi wrote about the myopia of our leaders and our time in All that glitters in the ‘Gilded Age’ is not gold:

The Gilded Age” was a term coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book, The Gilded Age. Here is a portion of book summary by Shmoop:

Key Points

  • Rapid economic growth generated vast wealth during the Gilded Age

  • New products and technologies improved middle-class quality of life

  • Industrial workers and farmers did not share in the new prosperity, working long hours in dangerous conditions for low pay

  • Gilded Age politicians were largely corrupt and ineffective

  • Most Americans during the Gilded Age wanted political and social reforms, but they disagreed strongly on what kind of reform

The “Gilded Age”

Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner were the first to call the years after the Civil War the “gilded age.” Struck by what they saw as the rampant greed and speculative frenzy of the marketplace, and the corruption pervading national politics, they satirized a society whose serious problems, they felt, had been veiled by a thin coating of gold.

So what future have the Goldman Sucks, cash sluts, and credit crunch weasels along with we don’t care, we don’t have to Washington Georgetown and Chevy Chase set – you know, the the “masters of the universe” left those on a race to get through college? Lila Shapiro has the excellent post, Trading Down: Laid-Off Americans Taking Pay Cuts and Increasingly Kissing Their Old Lives Goodbye at Huffington Post:

This government, both parties, has failed to promote the kind of economic development AND policy which creates liveable wage jobs. That is why Mc Donalds is popular for more than its dollar menu. They are hiring people.

This economy must focus on job creation and job retention and yes, hope. Both for those racing through college and those who have paid their education and training dues. “You deserve a break today at Mc Donalds,” the only employer who seems to be hiring.

The way the U.S. chooses its leadership is similar to a tontine:

Definition of TONTINE

: a joint financial arrangement whereby the participants usually contribute equally to a prize that is awarded entirely to the participant who survives all the others

The political process does not allow for brilliance, just a dogged survival.

Aline Hanle posted the Top 5 Intelligences of the Brilliant Leader:

Here are the top 5 intelligence of leaders who do not only care for the well-being of a system but for the harmony of the beings that make it.

1 – Listening Intelligence

Leaders have ears before having words. They know patience before active decision and they have learned to be present without the need to show off. Listening Intelligence is the ability for the mind to be a recipient to the inner-voice as well as others so that the need is clearly understood and the action that is required to fill it is carefully aligned. These two are the results of a listening intelligence process in which silence isn’t a place without words but more so a space with an attention to details and an intention to support.

2 – Intuitive Intelligence

Leaders who only follow their mind end up falling short of visions. Intuitive intelligence is the gift of the visionary leaders who can perceive beyond the predictable and the comfort zones. Leaders whose let their minds open to the invisible yet the felt access a field of infinite possibility in which creativity dwells. This creative flow empowers the beholder with an enthusiasm that strengthens his/her journey with purpose and seals his/her path with meaning.

3 – Emotional Intelligence

Intellectual may serve mainstream education but it is emotional intelligence that serves humanity. Kindness isn’t found in the mind but in the heart. Emotions are carriers of feelings and feelings are how human beings relate to each other. Ultimately, the brilliant later is he/she whose heart is sensitive to his/her own emotions as well as the emotions of those around him/her. To connect with our own self is to feel who we are and to bridge with another is to offer a chance to be compassionate with feelings that aren’t our own. To lead with brilliance is to relate to fellow humans and create ways to expand their experiences. Emotions are vessels of expansion, stagnation or contraction. Giving a space for emotions to be is one of the essence of leadership.

4 – Intellectual Intelligence

When the heart is open, it unleashes a powerful flow of creative energy. This wave is pure dynamic momentum filled with onrushing spirit. Intelligence Intelligence is the ability to offer a structure for this flow to find direction. An artist is one whose flow is wild yet without a sturdy framework, this power will vanish in the formless only to be renewed, transformed and rearranged in another idea. Leadership holds the space for linear thinking so that plans, processes, strategy, systems, tactics, projects guide the flow into a purposeful matter.

5 – Universal Intelligence

Universal Intelligence is the power to relate to what is greater than what is seen, identified and labeled. It is a sense of connection to all that is and the conscious way of living in harmony with everything that constitutes the Universe, whether one relates directly to it or not. The Leader of the 21st century embodies the principles of unity, compassion to all beings and respect for all Life. It isn’t enough to lead, win and conquer. it is now essential to lead, love and embrace.

Politics has always been a tough business, the Ides of March is one example of how brutal politics can be. Many times those who serve do so under tough conditions, often with little thanks. Still it is time to recognize that there must be some investments made for the future. Even more, the political process has got to be purged of the huge glut of partisan single-issue money which leads to leadership vacuous.

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You call your kid prince or princess, society calls them ‘brat’

19 Oct

Here is today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Urban Dictionary defines brat:

1.A really annoying person.
2.A person that is spoiled rotten.
3.An annoying child that wants something that no one will get for him/her.

Most folks have had the experience of shopping in a store like Target and observing a child acting out or screaming at the top of his or her lungs. Another chance for observation of family interaction is dining out at a restaurant when children may act out. Without knowing the history, it is difficult to assess the root cause. Still, an observation of how the parent(s) deal with the tantrum is instructive about who is in control and where the power resides in a family. It appears that in many families the parents are reluctant to be parents and to teach their children appropriate behavior, boundaries, and manners.

Carolyn Jones has written the interesting Time article, You Annoyed Me at Hello: Why Kids Still Need to Learn Manners:

It’s fall, which means that the new academic year has started. It also means that my husband, a 37-year-old college professor, has started to shake a fist at his inbox. Why? Because, as surely as leaves fall from trees, my husband’s new crop of undergrads won’t know how to address him. They’ll toggle between no salutation, using his first name only, or greeting him with a cheery: “Hey!”

Sadly, being called “Hey!” by a teen doesn’t inspire my husband’s cheer, nor does it establish the rapport the sender may have wished. Instead, it makes the vexed professor and his wife wonder whether titles are as defunct as an iPhone 4 charger.

Our concerns aren’t just academic. We have a daughter, not yet three, and like many parents, we have grand ambitions for her. One is that we’d like her to be a polite member of society starting, we believe, by addressing adults as Mr., Mrs. and Ms.

But we have an awkward problem. None of our parent-friends agree.

Now, these parents are our friends because we like them, their values and their kids. Yet despite our similarities, their children address adults by their first names, and we don’t want our child to do the same.

Are my husband and I irredeemably stuffy? Most likely, but to find out for sure, I sought professional help.

Peggy Post, director of the Emily Post Institute, and descendant (by marriage) of the eponymous writer who’d formally introduced America to etiquette, was kind enough to take my call.

I still say it’s a good idea to teach our children to use appropriate titles,” Post said, after listening carefully to my quandary. “Mr., Mrs. and Ms. are not necessarily old-fashioned. Though our world is informal these days, a lot of adults still expect children, especially ones they don’t know, to refer to them by their titles.”

Etiguette, manners, and boundaries can be taught.

Ann Marie Sabath, author of Business Etiquette: 101 Ways to Conduct Business with Charm and Savvy, posted Ten Etiquette Rules for Children at Oprah.Com:

1. How to Dine
When invited to a pre-arranged meal, always use your utensils from the “outside in.” After all, utensils are set in the order that food will be served.

2. Telephone Manners
When calling a friend, identify yourself to the person who answers the phone before asking to speak your friend. By doing so, the parents or other family member who answer the phone will appreciate this courtesy and see you as friendly.

3. On Correspondence
Anytime it takes someone more than 15 minutes to do something for you, send the person a thank-you note. By doing so, the person will know you really appreciated what was done for you.

4. Be Gracious
When you are sent an invitation that requires an RSVP, be sure to let the person know if you will be able to go to the gathering. After all, “RSVP” means “respond if you please.”

5. Shoes Are Important
When getting dressed each day, be sure that your shoes are well-maintained. People associate the way you take care of your shoes with the way you handle detail in the rest of your life.

6. Be Open to New Foods
When you are invited out to eat and are served a food that is not your favorite, try a piece of it anyway. You may be surprised and find that you end up liking it.

7. Ask Questions
When talking with friends and family, always make a point of asking them questions about themselves. People will see you as interesting if you are interested in them.

8. At the Table
When eating a roll, be sure to break off a bite-sized piece at a time. No bread-and-butter sandwiches, please.

9. Be Friendly
When you are in school, be cool by making a point to talk with that new kid in your class. If the tables were turned, wouldn’t that make you feel good?

10. The Rule of Twelve
When talking with others, always use a form of thanks and the person’s name in the first 12 words you speak (“It’s good to see you, Mary,” or “Thanks for picking me up from soccer, Dad.”) By following this rule of 12, people will want to continue to do nice things for you.

The basis of manners and boundaries is simply the “Golden Rule.”

The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the Golden Rule” which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World

At its simplest, it’s really just “being kind.” Caring about other people. That means putting that kindness into action and treating people with compassion. It means trying to understand people’s beliefs and needs. It means not harming others and actively working to eliminate harm….
What concrete steps can people take to start to put the Rule into practice?

Practically, there are steps that institutions and individuals can take to make a difference.

Institutionally, there are anti-discrimination and accommodation policies you can put into place to ensure that employees aren’t unduly thwarted in their ability to practice their religions. Educational institutions can make sure that teachers are properly trained to create inclusive, multi-cultural and multi-religious classrooms. And hospitals can work proactively with patients who may not want treatment that conflicts with their religion.

There are also things we can all do on the individual level. We can notice people who are not from our own group – people who have different practices or beliefs – and be interested in them. We can be curious about who they are and what their lives are like, without applying stereotypes. We can ask questions with curiosity and respect and truly listen to and digest the answers. And we can be willing to share about ourselves, our own beliefs and our own experiences.

Finally, we can work together, whether in workplaces, schools, community groups or governments to ensure that people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints are
involved in decision-making. By making all voices heard – and really listening to each of those voices – we can solve many of the problems we face together.

And when we do that, we’ll get to the gold.

Some form of the “Golden Rule” is found in most religious traditions.

Children are not mature and adults can not expect the same level of maturity that most adults are presumed to have. Parents are not their child’s friend and have to provide guidance, direction, and boundaries.

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Single gender classes: Is is time to separate some boys and some girls?

17 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi’s mantra is: There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is what works to produce academic achievement in a given population of children.

Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a republican and Barbara Mikulski, a democrat have written a common sense opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, A Right to Choose Single-Sex Education:

Education proponents across the political spectrum were dismayed by recent attempts to eradicate the single-gender options in public schools in Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Maine and Florida. We were particularly troubled at efforts to thwart education choice for American students and their families because it is a cause we have worked hard to advance.

Studies have shown that some students learn better in a single-gender environment, particularly in math and science. But federal regulations used to prevent public schools from offering that option. So in 2001 we joined with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Susan Collins to author legislation that allowed public schools to offer single-sex education. It was an epic bipartisan battle against entrenched bureaucracy, but well worth the fight.

Since our amendment passed, thousands of American children have benefited. Now, though, some civil libertarians are claiming that single-sex public-school programs are discriminatory and thus illegal.

To be clear: The 2001 law did not require that children be educated in single-gender programs or schools. It simply allowed schools and districts to offer the choice of single-sex schools or classrooms, as long as opportunities were equally available to boys and girls. In the vast and growing realm of education research, one central tenet has been confirmed repeatedly: Children learn in different ways. For some, single-sex classrooms make all the difference.

Critics argue that these programs promote harmful gender stereotypes. Ironically, it is exactly these stereotypes that the single-sex programs seek to eradicate.

As studies have confirmed—and as any parent can tell you—negative gender roles are often sharpened in coeducational environments. Boys are more likely, for instance, to buy into the notion that reading isn’t masculine when they’re surrounded by (and showing off for) girls.

Girls, meanwhile, have made so much progress in educational achievement that women are overrepresented in postgraduate education. But they still lag in the acquisition of bachelor’s and graduate degrees in math and the sciences. It has been demonstrated time and again that young girls are more willing to ask and answer questions in classrooms without boys….

No one is arguing that single-sex education is the best option for every student. But it is preferable for some students and families, and no one has the right to deny them an option that may work best for a particular child. Attempts to eliminate single-sex education are equivalent to taking away students’ and parents’ choice about one of the most fundamentally important aspects of childhood and future indicators of success—a child’s education.

America once dominated educational attainment among developed countries, but we have fallen disastrously in international rankings. As we seek ways to offer the best education for all our children, in ways that are better tailored to their needs, it seems not just counterproductive but damaging to reduce the options. single-sex education in public schools will continue to be a voluntary choice for students and their families. To limit or eliminate single-sex education is irresponsible. To take single-sex education away from students who stand to benefit is unforgivable.

All options for types of institutional structure must be on the table.

Denise Williams had a hit with a catchy little tune, “let’s hear it for the boy.” The question for many parents and schools is how are boys doing? Time summarized the issue of the “boy crisis.” Boy Crisis

There was, for example, Harvard psychologist William Pollack’s Real Boys (1998), which asserted that contemporary boys are “scared and disconnected,” “severely lagging” behind girls in both achievement and self-confidence. The following year, journalist Susan Faludi argued in Stiffed that the cold calculus of global economics was emasculating American men. In 2000 philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers blamed off-the-rails feminism for sparking The War Against Boys, and two years later writer Elizabeth Gilbert found The Last American Man living in a teepee in the Appalachian Mountains.

The Seattle Times reported on the study by the respected women’s group American Association of University Women (AAUW) AAUW Report

Both boys and girls are doing better in school, so there’s no reason to fear that school systems favor girls at boys’ expense, a women’s advocacy group says in a study to be released today.

It’s the freshest argument in the boys vs. girls debate in education, one in which the group, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), has been a major player. Having said in an influential 1992 study that the education system worked against girls, it now argues that the real crisis is racial and economic disparities, not gender. “The mythology of the boy crisis continues to be influential,” said Catherine Hill, the association’s director of research. One reason, she added, is that “people feel uncomfortable with the success of girls and women.”

Some readers might be thinking, a women’s group declaring there is no crisis. Right. Is there a crisis or a problem with boys? For every book, report, or study citing the difficulties that some boys are having, there is another book or study that questions the findings. Vanderbilt University researchers conducted a study of how boys and girls differ in some activities. Vanderbilt Study According to the Vanderbilt study, girls have an advantage over boys in timed tests and tasks. That finding is significant because many classroom activities are timed. A good summary of gender issues is provided by the Kansas Education Association. Gender and Achievement Issues

Boys’ Barriers to Learning and Achievement

Gary Wilson has a thoughtful article about some of the learning challenges faced by boys. Boys Barriers to Learning He lists several barriers to learning in his article.

1. Early years

a. Language development problems

b. Listening skills development

2. Writing skills and learning outcomes

A significant barrier to many boys’ learning, that begins at quite an early age and often never leaves them, is the perception that most writing that they are expected to do is largely irrelevant and unimportant….

3. Gender bias

Gender bias in everything from resources to teacher expectations has the potential to present further barriers to boys’ learning. None more so than the gender bias evident in the ways in which we talk to boys and talk to girls. We need to be ever mindful of the frequency, the nature and the quality of our interactions with boys and our interactions with girls in the classroom….A potential mismatch of teaching and learning styles to boys’ preferred ways of working continues to be a barrier for many boys….

4. Reflection and evaluation

The process of reflection is a weakness in many boys, presenting them with perhaps one of the biggest barriers of all. The inability of many boys to, for example, write evaluations, effectively stems from this weakness….

5. Self-esteem issues

Low self-esteem is clearly a very significant barrier to many boys’ achievement in school. If we were to think of the perfect time to de-motivate boys, when would that be? Some might say in the early years of education when many get their first unwelcome and never forgotten taste of failure might believe in the system… and themselves, for a while, but not for long….

6. Peer pressure

Peer pressure, or the anti-swot culture, is clearly a major barrier to many boys’ achievement. Those lucky enough to avoid it tend to be good academically, but also good at sport. This gives them a licence to work hard as they can also be ‘one of the lads’. …To me one of the most significant elements of peer pressure for boys is the impact it has on the more affective domains of the curriculum, namely expressive, creative and performing arts. It takes a lot of courage for a boy to turn up for the first day at high school carrying a violin case….

7. Talk to them!

There are many barriers to boys’ learning (I’m currently saying 31, but I’m still working on it!) and an ever-increasing multitude of strategies that we can use to address them. I firmly believe that a close examination of a school’s own circumstances is the only way to progress through this maze and that the main starting point has to be with the boys themselves. They do know all the issues around their poor levels of achievement. Talk to them first. I also believe that one of the most important strategies is to let them know you’re ‘on their case’, talking to them provides this added bonus….

If your boy has achievement problems, Wilson emphasizes that there is no one answer to address the problems. There are issues that will be specific to each child.

Single Sex Classrooms

Wesley Sharpe offers the pros and cons of single sex classrooms. Single Sex Classrooms Seattle Child describes the atmosphere at O’Dea and reports that for some boys, this is an environment where they thrive. Seattle Child Some children have achievement problems and social adjustment problems. When other solutions have not yielded results, single sex classrooms are seen as a possible solution. The New York Times reports on single sex classrooms in the Bronx. Single Sex Classrooms

The single-sex classes at Public School 140, which started as an experiment last year to address sagging test scores and behavioral problems, are among at least 445 such classrooms nationwide, according to the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education. Most have sprouted since a 2004 federal regulatory change that gave public schools freedom to separate girls and boys.

The nation’s 95 single-sex public schools — including a dozen in New York City — while deemed legal, still have many critics. But separation by a hallway is generally more socially and politically palatable. And unlike other programs aimed at improving student performance, there is no extra cost.

We will do whatever works, however we can get there,” said Paul Cannon, principal of P.S. 140, which is also known as the Eagle School. “We thought this would be another tool to try.”

Wilson and Cannon are correct in stating that there is no one solution to solving a child’s achievement problems and a variety of tools may prove useful. Whether there is a “boy crisis” can be debated. The research is literally all over the map and a variety of positions can find some study to validate that position. If your child has achievement and social adjustment problems, whether there is an overall crisis is irrelevant, you feel you are in a crisis situation. There is no one solution, be open to using a variety of tools and strategies.

So, how is your boy doing?

There should not be a one size fits all approach. Strategies must be designed for each population of kids.

Other Resources:

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success

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