Schooling rant

November 9, 2003 at 9:29 pm | In yulelogStories | 3 Comments

Via Alas, a Blog I came to this post by Timothy Burke, who describes taking his 3-year old daughter to a museum. The problems that he describes, caused by the behaviour of some of the older children visiting the museum, strike me as deriving from factory school segregation, or rather: from the experienced mis-fit caused by factory school segregation vs the conditions given in actual heterogeneous society.

This is a pet peeve of mine, so bear with me.

Basically, I feel very strongly that it’s not normal to lock kids up all day long with others of the same age. I don’t see how we can expect these kids to be able to behave “normally.” How would we adults feel if we were told that we could only associate with exact age-mates all day long, every day from Monday to Friday? How would we feel if that condition were then exacted: cut-off birth dates, exact ages only (within an 8-month margin), all day every day. That’s it, those are the only people you get to see from now on. The higher-ups would tell us we were being “socialised,” uh-huh. But we’d probably say something rude. After a few years, however, we would definitely forget how to behave around younger people and we would probably be afraid of older people.

Duh, that about sums up how school kids are socialised, and how many of them feel. They hate younger kids (because these remind them of their own lack of power) and are afraid of older ones (who typically show precious little empathy toward the younger ones).

Factory schooling encourages anti-social behaviour. Counter-measures might entail smaller one-room schoolhouse type settings, school situations where there is constant interaction between older and younger children, kibbutz or commune type situations, and of course homeschooling, which allows for real socialisation-in-society. I can’t think of any social benefits that derive from the factory school model. Bullying? Fear? Cliquishness? It cracks me up when people say, “what about socialisation?” in response to the fact that we homeschool. You can’t honestly believe that the factory school can socialise your kid for the good? You can’t seriously believe that the problem doesn’t get worse the older your kid gets, the closer he or she gets to middle or high school?

The situation that Timothy Burke describes would probably not occur among children who know what it’s like to be around younger kids, or who have been empowered in their own schools with leadership positions vis-a-vis younger children — or who visit museums in a mixed-age continuum of 6 to 16 year olds vs packs of 12-year-olds. Educating a person should entail teaching them to wield power over less powerful members of society (viz. younger children), to wield a mentoring role, to wield a nurturing, care-taking role. The only way you can do that, however, is by actually trusting them with real responsibilities for less powerful members. You don’t teach it in classrooms or workshops, they learn it by doing. You keep things small. You let them play together, too. You don’t lock them up in classrooms all day long where they only experience their agemates and one adult (the teacher). That’s a recipe for disaster. Our society has moved past that model — who actually still works within that model? — and the misfit between how we live and how we school our kids is contributing to their expressions of anti-social behaviour.

You want kids to behave better? Give them more power, and stop treating them like babies and locking them up with kids only of their own age.

The servants stole the fishforks

November 8, 2003 at 7:14 pm | In yulelogStories | 3 Comments

The breaking scandal over the Royals in the UK might be turned into a morality play, but I think that it’s really a management question. To me, the scenario that derives from the innuendo thus far is that Prince Charles was on the receiving end (so to speak) of sexual services provided by Michael Fawcett, his servant. Fawcett’s dominant position could have swelled his head of course, and when his fancy then turned to another royal servant, a misguided sense of entitlement “allowed” him to male rape the other man. Fawcett would have been doing so under the delusion of impunity, fed by the knowledge of access to the royal arse. The Royals can’t live by modern management techniques. They don’t even understand management, the bane of modernity. In the world of management, you have to want to live safely if you want to keep your job reasonably secure, and this means that you do not have sex with subordinates. You cannot let a subordinate develop delusions of grandeur based on sexual misconduct. As a good manager, you do not allow your employees to exploit privileged positions to assault or intimidate other employees. It’s just not done. Anymore. Because among other things, management makes sure that all is public. There is no private. Foucault was right, as were Adorno & Horkheimer: we do live in an age of constant surveillance and “regularisation” of drives. It’s seeping into our private lives via advertising and the normalisation of pornography — your sexual fantasies are colonised to the point of no return, baby: there is nothing, but nothing, left for you to imagine. It’s all designed to make you behave according to “norms,” which are managed. As for the workplace, there is no room for unregulated behaviour. It’s sad, but true: Chuck wants Fawcett’s faucet where? Forget about it, those happy-go-lucky days are over. Unless of course Chuckie-baby has a death wish and wants off the management team. In the managed world, there is no continuity, but everything is always the same. Not very royal-sounding, is it? I would almost prefer to have the Royal family say, “Well, bugger me with a fishfork! And to hell with you all, we do whatever we please.” At least then they’d be different. The very worst thing that’s happened to them and with them is that they tried to be like everyone else. How boring. They should go away if they’re going to do that. With any luck they will.

Duct coffee fluff piece

November 7, 2003 at 10:26 pm | In yulelogStories | 3 Comments

I would not be able to have my morning coffee if it weren’t for duct tape.


Ok, here’s the story: I have a really cool coffee maker that grinds the beans and then makes filtered coffee, all without my having to intervene. Except for initial ministrations of duct tape, that is.

The machine is a Melitta Mill & Brew, which is probably the best breakfast friend that a person can have, short of just a little lovin’ early in the mornin. You fill it with water, you put beans into the grinder-filter combo, you close it, you set the timer, you switch it on. You go to bed or wherever else you go before returning to fill your need for coffee. At the appointed time, the machine grinds the coffee and makes hot java for your pleasure.

However, within months of buying the Mill & Brew, a little tab broke off the lid of the grinder-drip filter combo. This tab was essential to letting the machine “lock,” which allowed it to turn on to grind the coffee. Without proper closure, the machine couldn’t turn on and therefore didn’t work. Daily duct taping allowed me to continue using the machine without having to repair it (read: buy a new one since it’s literally impossible to repair anything these days). This sordid business of ripping at the silver-grey roll has been going on for at least 18 months, perhaps longer (I tend to block distressing memories). However, about 4 or 5 months ago, I banged the glass carafe against a countertop corner and broke a triangle-shaped piece of glass out of the carafe’s lower half. Hmmm… Duct tape to the rescue. Every other day I have to replace the tape, and aside from occasional hissing — when the duct tape fails and hot coffee leaks through the interstices, hitting the hot plate — it’s not so bad. …Not really so bad.

But now I’ve broken down. I ordered a new Mill & Brew. I can’t really afford to spend money on inessentials, but even I had to draw the line at nearly half a year of duct-taping my coffee-maker carafe. It was no longer a fashion statement, it was a nuisance. And while some people might be ok with buying preground coffee, I wanted a new Mill & Brew. I’d rather duct-tape my biscotti, my brioche, my pain au chocolat than buy preground coffee or hassle with grinding my own (a locally roasted bean, exceptionally good) in a separate machine.

My new Mill & Brew, incidentally, has a steel carafe. This is a good thing, especially for those hot & heavy mornings, all that banging and grinding around. …Glass can be so dangerous.

Safety catch not on

November 6, 2003 at 10:29 pm | In yulelogStories | 4 Comments

Via Alternet‘s sidebar, the link to this picture:

Alternet’s caption, via Lakshmi on The Media Mix:

All boys anti-abortion club
The publicity photo on the White House website of George Bush signing the late-term abortion ban says all we need to know about who is making decisions about women’s bodies. See Ma, no women! Added note of irony: the photographer is a Tina Hager.

These men revolt me. Smug, fat, paternalistic, so bloody safe — never hungry, poor, open-minded, or in danger. Safe, that’s what they seem. So safe. They can put women in danger, and they don’t give a damn because they’re safe. Why is it that they can keep making the world a more dangerous place for nearly everyone, but they stay safe? That should change.

Butter is better

November 5, 2003 at 9:14 pm | In yulelogStories | 15 Comments

Gee, what a load of dubious matter. I just took one of those Myer-Briggs Tests, and came out an INFP — that’s Introverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiving type. I can’t believe people would be so bereft of any sense of their own personality as to give credence to this stuff. Yet it shows up on blogs and elsewhere. Caveat bloggerus: never ever trust suppposedly serious people who can’t even properly spell the name of a person they’re honouring — other INFP types identified via a link are Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis [sic].

Jackie is very pissed off about this. Believe me, I am channeling her. In that vein, remember: The name is Yule. With a Y. The last name is, for better or for worse, Heibel (a vain cause, scroll down; n.b. it means nothing; I have no religion). Spelled with one l, and ei pronounced as in Fleischman’s Margarine. And never ever serve me margarine, that’s the devil’s sperm in a plastic bucket.

I Green Eye

November 5, 2003 at 5:17 pm | In yulelogStories | 7 Comments

Hey, Stu (of Nov.4): no blue eyes on this mongrel! The only blue jeans I’m expressing are the ones I’m wearing, dearie….

And it’s 1, 2, 3, …

November 4, 2003 at 9:43 pm | In yulelogStories | 4 Comments

CBC Radio had an interview with the head of the American Selective Service System this morning — I caught only 2/3 of it, but gathered there was talk of starting up the draft again in the U.S. The Selective Services guy said that they hadn’t yet had any directives, but …. And no, they wouldn’t be drafting women, just men. If they drafted, that is, …but of course nothing definite yet, just preparation, routine, ‘s all.

I put it out of my mind, thinking it’s just another Soviet Canuckistan plot to make the US look unstable (like, as if it needs the help, mentally I mean), but tonight I read a reference on Wood’s Lot to this issue, too. And he points to other articles, especially this one, which you can read, too.

Hmmm, I wonder whether corporations will be able to collect dead peasant / worker insurance on employees (current or past) who die as a consequence of being drafted into war? (Thanks to Betsy for that link.)

“Even the Catholics know that they can’t all be popes”

November 3, 2003 at 8:32 pm | In yulelogStories | 1 Comment

An interview with the ghost of Karl Marx in Prospect Magazine:

Karl Marx: All this I analysed. All this I deconstructed (yes, I keep up with modern charlatans). The result: the first theory of fascism. So don’t tell me I have ever been under any illusion about the people. I know how to look at the harshest reality with equanimity. I realised we had lost, as your socialist friends have now. And I plucked up my courage and went to work. I spent my days in the British Museum reading room, solitary and proud, my soul devoured with rage, my arse festered with carbuncles, but my mind doing its duty, the duty of intellectuals: face reality.


Interviewer: And feminism?
Karl Marx: I did write that great social changes are impossible without the feminine ferment. But there is far to go. The majority of workers in the world are now women, but the vast majority of feminists are not workers. What many western feminists want is to share power with western man. And why not? Who would want to be some schmuck’s hausfrau? But this makes no difference to the feminine army of labour. [More…]

(via Arts & Letter Daily)

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition…

November 3, 2003 at 8:09 pm | In yulelogStories | 4 Comments

I went to a party the other night, Pats, and I thought I looked so gorgeous, so cool, darling, and I just flirted and was loud and cool all night, darling, yeah, I was Kathleen Turner and Marisa Berenson. I came home, I looked in the mirror, …and …I was entirely annihilated. My hair had sort of gone flat and parted itself in the middle and had a bit of food here [she points to side of her head], …don’t know how I got it…. No lipstick, …eyes like pinholes… I looked like a two-hundred year old, Red Indian, dead, duh-warf. Eddy, in AbFab‘s Birthday episode (Take this test, btw; I’m Patsy — big surprise, heh….)

I can totally relate to Patsy’s best friend Eddy though…
I put a mirror near my desk in the kitchen where we do all of our school work, desk work, ya-da-ya-da-ya-da, that stuff. Look up sometime when you’re thinking hard. Yegods! I thought Hallowe’en was over!! Eyes like pinholes, 200 year old dead what’s-it, yup, that’s about right. That’s me. How in hell did I get this old? I thought all those substances were supposed to kill me years ago…!
PS: I’m older than Birthday, so it’s even worse….

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