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Electoral College

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.27.12

You know, if Frankenstorm actually suppressed voter turnout in states along the Eastern Seaboard, then that would be an argument in favor of the electoral college. Delaware and Maryland don't lose their contribution just because their turnout is temporarily suppressed.

Obviously it's possible that some natural disaster could disproportionately affect one party in a state - say by taking out the only large urban city - and the electoral college wouldn't protect against that.


 

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Sartorial investigations

Posted by Ben
on 10.26.12

Let us grant that a reet (or reat) pleat may be, even paradigmatically is, found on a zoot suit: what manner of pleat is it? Is it just any pleat that a zoot suit has? A question that can be approached two ways—perhaps the zootness of the suit is consequent on the reetness of the pleat, reetness being a criterion of zootness—or, perhaps, when once it is granted that the suit be zoot (something that can be determined independent of an analysis of the pleats), the pleats need must be reet, whatever their physical characteristics might be? Or could one have a zoot suit whose pleats were not reet, and a reet-pleated suit which was not zoot? But if that's the case, surely there must be a way of characterizing reet pleats? And yet in all of several minutes I did not hit on one.


 

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High on the hog

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.26.12

I can legally drive 85 and hit hogs more easily than you can.


 

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Open call for nominations

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.26.12

Category of Songs: Biggest Gap Between Quality and Catchiness.

I nominate Taylor Swift's We Are Never, Never, Never, Never, Never Getting Back Together.


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Predator Paranoia

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.26.12

Dear Mineshaft:

I'm a lurker with a teenage daughter in a small progressive private school, which I'm very happy with. She's enthusiastic about her academics, and the way the school is run encourages the students to be actively responsible and helpful in a very adult way. I think she's matured a lot in the year she's been there. The teachers are the best thing about the school, and are very personally involved with each student's development. You may see where I'm going with this.

There are two teachers who I have no reason to think anything bad about. I mean that. They're both excellent teachers, engaging, interesting, and she thinks both of them are wonderful and chatters about the latest goofy thing one or the other of them has done all the time. I don't think this is bad. I'm very happy to see her that involved in school. Nothing specific has happened to make me unsettled. But after the Penn State story, and the Horace Mann story, I keep thinking that men who prey on teenagers often do it by being charming, friendly, good teachers who are very involved with their students.

I have two questions for the Mineshaft: I feel guilty about being suspicious. These two men are both good teachers who make the school a better place for their students. I think teachers should be encouraged to be more like them. The same behavior that makes me suspicious, because it could be used to enable preying on their students, is behavior that I think is wonderful so long as it isn't being used to enable preying on their students. Is it wrong to suspect people of being monsters just because they're doing good things that happen to be the same sort of good things that monsters are likely to do?

Also, how should I be effectively suspicious? I hope that even if the teachers I'm worried about are risky, that my daughter won't be the one he goes after, or at least that we'd pick up on any kind of grooming, because she does talk about her interactions at school a lot, and we would notice if anything started sounding peculiar. And I understand that predators tend to identify vulnerable children with uninvolved parents, which would not describe her at all: we're involved, and her teachers know we are, and while she's a little awkward she's not socially isolated and she's very outspoken. Nonetheless, does anyone have advice on what to watch for or how to be cautious without implicitly slandering people who I don't have any specific reason to suspect? I don't even want to talk about this with people I know, because I really don't want to do any reputational damage to either teacher by suspecting them. I haven't even brought it up with my wife, because I don't want to make her worry.

Paranoid Paul

Dear Paul:

Ugh. First, I sincerely hope you're as paranoid as you've called yourself, and there's nothing to worry about. Second, you said a couple of times that there really wasn't any specific reason to worry about either of the teachers, other than generally that they were warmly personally engaged with their students. I think you should probably think hard about that -- I think mostly if people are uneasy for no reason, there often is a reason that they haven't pinned down. If there's something specific that's setting off a red flag for you that you just haven't identified, you should try to identify it, and work from there. But say that there really isn't anything, and that the situation is as you've described it -- predators work by being affectionate, entertaining, and good with kids, which means that anyone who's affectionate, entertaining, and good with kids is a plausible risk for being a predator.

Oy. First, I wouldn't feel bad about being suspicious. There are a lot of high school teachers fucking their students. My high school, I can think of two stories, and when it's come up here, a lot of people have similar stories. So you're not suspecting people of terribly unlikely evil behavior, you're worrying about the sort of thing that does happen all the time, I think you're right to be very cautious about sharing your suspicions, because you don't want to discourage 'being a good teacher whose students love him'. But it makes sense to be watchful.

On how to be effectively suspicious? Damn if I know. Your daughter is a little older than Sally, if she's in high school, but I've worried about similar sorts of things. I would guess you're right that even if one of the teachers you've noticed is looking for victims, that simply by virtue of the fact that you're paying enough attention to worry that she's probably an unlikely target. But I really don't know, and I worry as well.

Mineshaft? People with older kids especially? Any thoughts?

LB


 

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This state is stupid.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.25.12

In response to the threat of having international organizations monitor the elections, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott tweeted:

UN poll watchers can't interfere w/ Texas elections. I'll bring criminal charges if needed. Official letter posted soon. #comeandtakeit

The official letter that posted soon thereafter said:

The OSCE's representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE's representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE's representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.

That's right. We are like the little yippy dog that will guard the fuck out of its house, to protect it from the mailman.


 

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Guest Post - Bedside Manner

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.25.12

Thorn writes in:
I read this post when it went marginally viral a month ago, but it was absolutely on my mind after the excellent experience I had with the local children's hospital ER with Mara from 1-5 am today. The doctor was careful to respect her bodily autonomy as much as possible and the nurse was able to keep her calm and distracted while they slowly and gently did their examinations.

I think the pull quote from the article is probably:

As we left the hospital, hand in hand into the night, my daughter looked up at me and grinned. "Well, Mama, at least I didn't have to get stitches." I looked back at Julia, with her bandaged head and big eyes: "But honey, you did get stitches." "Really?" she twirled. "Well it was fun." Andshe jumped into the car.
The entire experience was so profoundly different from any other medical encounter I've ever had as a mother. I understand that in an emergency, the priority is to fix the damage as fast and efficiently as possible. But Krauss offered such a higher level of care that I wanted to know more.

Not meant as a child-specific prompt, but I'm curious what sort of bedside manners are effective in treatment rather than just putting people at ease.

Heebie's take: the linked post is totally fascinating, especially the first third, which is a narrative of what happened when the author took her daughter in with a gash on her forehead. Basically, this doctor's area of research is reduction of anxiety in children undergoing medical procedures.


 

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Good morning, unAmericans.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.25.12

Fuck insomnia. 6:30 am will be awesome in four hours.


 

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Teenage years

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.24.12

This girl's teen experience sounds worse than mine was, and certainly more traumatic, but not so different than I can't recognize what she's talking about. For me, it was localized in 7-8th grades. In particular, I remember:

1. an ongoing saga about whether or not my legs were sufficiently shaved. The kid sat in front of me in Social Studies and would reach back and feel my legs and give his diagnosis. However, the kid was not-yet-out but gay-ish, and also more popular than me, so it seemed like I was getting elevated into some popular set of teasing. I can imagine another girl taking it worse, though.

2. I relate mightily to her gap between her parents and the school environment. After the above incident happened once or twice, I asked my mom if I could have a razor so I could start shaving. My mom said, "That sounds reasonable...how about for Christmas?" (which we did celebrate), and this was probably March. I was too embarrassed to clarify to her that that was much too far away.

I used my dad's razor one time, and he pointedly asked my brothers "Who dulled my razor?" in my presence. After that I biked down to the drug store and bought myself some razors. Also I got horrendous razor burn routinely but there was no internet and so I just got used to it.

3. Bra-snapping and thinly veiled reasons to grope someone: I remember this happening some, and I remember seeing it happen to other girls a lot. I also remember explicit comments about girls bodies, of the kind in the link, but I assumed everyone involved was playing by the rules of popular kids, and therefore just enjoying life so much because they were (more) popular (than me).

I wasn't invited to parties and situations where more overt harassment might have occurred, but I know such things happened to other people at those parties. (I also wasn't such a pariah that I got bullied. I had a set of friends, and we were rather tame, and that was that. I sufficiently loathed most of my peers enough to make school a rather miserable place to be, and also I thought being popular would be awesome, and I wasn't bothered by that contradiction.)

In 9th grade, I went to a magnet high school, and the environment was radically different - hippies and nerds and such, but not the same sort of heightened emphasis on popularity at the expense of everything else, which is how I'd characterize 7-8th grades.

Via FB


 

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Suing the state

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.24.12

Texas is being sued by over 500 school districts for simultaneously ratcheting up standards and slashing funding. This POS article helpfully makes points like:

With school districts comprising more than $108 billion of that debt (municipal debt is at $98 billion), we're reminded that public education has hardly experienced limited access to taxpayer dollars.

Does this sort of thing ever result in better funding, even when the court rules with the plaintiff? I'm having trouble seeing how a positive verdict will have any effect on the budgeting process.

Similarly, what exactly happened after California was ordered to release 30,000 prisoners? Did they? (It doesn't look like it.) What happens if they don't?


 

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You can learn to be an ass.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.23.12

Racism may be learned. Shocking, I know.

Not in this article, but the thing in science reporting that drives me most nuts is when "you can see part of the brain lighting up in a scan" is equated with "therefore it is innate". Obviously things that are learned after you're born will cause the brain to light up as well. All the brain scan is is a snapshot of the brain at that moment in time. It doesn't tell you the history of the brain and when that brain acquired those connections.


 

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Debate Thread

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.22.12

I'll be away doing school crap, so the responsibility falls on you to make this thread an accurate and comprehensive account of the third and most exciting debate. Without your steadfast re-creation I might otherwise never know what happened.


 

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Local and State

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.22.12

What are the most important votes, locally or state-wide? If someone had money burning a hole in their pocket, is there a particularly good state or local issue or candidate, where their money would make an especial difference?


 

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Backwash

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.22.12

A (very) few McCain supporters have defected and now support Obama. They tend to be older white men on the Atlantic coast who value character and experience above all else.


 

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