Saturday, December 31, 2016

Only God Knows

As we enter a new dimension, which is what I am referring to with regards to the future Il Douchebag-in-Chief's administration and on this New Years Eve I worry about where we are heading as a Country, both in domestic and international policies.

The new Ed Secretary, Betsey DeVos is another wealthy person with an idea of where Education should head and that is to church.  To her the concept of separation of Church and State is a silly notion and has no reasoning to her lack of reasoning.

I attended Catholic schools from grades 6-12.  Prior to that I attended a Luthern School and a non denominational private school at grade 5 which I loved.  When it came to discipline and authority the Lutheran's had nothing on the Catholics.   I saw both paddles, rulers and corporal punishment in lower grades and equal amount of faith as curriculum from what I can recall.

By the time I got to Catholic High School I look back and think it was basically a "basic" Education.  I can only recall one or two Teachers and only one favorably and frankly I have little to say about Blanchet other than I went there.  So when people compare private education and of course religious orientation as a matter of distinction I want to point out that they are much like Universities who make more money from out of state residents, the same go for those who pay tuition and affiliation to the Church.  So I did not think I was being indoctrinated, recruited or encouraged to join the Catholic Church nor become a Lutheran.    I just remember my fifth grade Teacher, a Minister with the Lutheran Church being a stern and unpleasant taskmaster whom I hated and then going to Middle School for 6-8 at St. John's Catholic School.  I remember all the Teachers there as complex and caring and some simply incompetent.  And is that which defines what  is a real school, be it public or private.

So are Teacher's better?  Are they smarter? Better curriculum?  No and yes.  And that is the same in public schools.  Some Teachers simply have the greatest resource - time - in which to offer support and in turn growth for kids who are struggling.  The class loads are smaller and that is one reason as well as a culture of a school that encourages self discipline and self success.  I am not sure I had that at Blanchet as I am a contrarian by nature and throughout my life I have heard the "I did not expect this from you" more times than I can count.  And that quality still today guides me in life.  I am truly the epitome of what defines "grit."

As a person who has spent most her professional life Substituting to avoid the politics of Education but allow for positive interaction that Teaching provides I have been an outlier in every sense of the word.  I see quite a bit and have been through more phases of Education than I have had hot dinners.  My move to Nashville, however, has utterly destroyed any desire to either Teach or Sub in a classroom and my resolution for the year is to simply make it work for both of us.  And by that I mean the few kids I do like and me as a way of making a living while looking for a new way in which to do so.

It is one thing I have learned about the Jesus fear-ers - no they don't just love Jesus they fear him - is that fear is the dominate emotion in their soul.  I used to believe that loving God or whatever name you wish to apply was a gift of love and peace, a way to find confidence and security in your soul to always know God had your back.  Not in the Bible Belt.  God is to be feared and that suspicion and doubt dominates every encounter with every individual here.   As I have frequently lamented that this belief that Racism is the dominate factor in life here is in fact incorrect, it is all socioeconomic. The whole idea of "working hard" and rising above one's station is that which comes from Christian dogma and that failing is an intrinsic factor and not that of extrinsic hurdles put in place to challenge said rise.

And ironically as I have also said that despite a city littered with Universities and Colleges, both public and private, the City of Nashville has less than 30% of its populace educated with post secondary degrees.  An irony that is even more noted as Vanderbilt University is the City's largest employer.  Things that make you go hmmm.

Nashville Public Schools are an abomination.  The district is too large and goes back to the 60s when  Davidson County and the City of Nashville were forced to desegregate.  So by taking all the schools that existed as a part of the the larger county, they bundled them together to make  a singular district and this is the end result - a hot mess.   It has not succeeded in any level despite the efforts in which to do so.   At some point you have to ask yourself after 40 years when will this stop and why not look busting it up to let schools and communities to resolve this themselves.  When you still bus kids 45 minutes or more a day, and when you take kids out of their neighborhood or simply rebrand the school in the neighborhood without looking at the systemic problems that exist in that area you are hiding the problems.  Instead why not  have a school that can provide a harbor in which to help its members improve the quality of their lives, find ways to work within the community or at least the chance to find some alternative, a port in the storm.  What I do see here is just maintenance, a way of retaining the status quo and I suspect that is largely the point.  Again, racism here is subtle but it is insidious and always centered on money.  As said schools would cost money.   I stay within my 20 minute circumference of schools in which I go but even with the City I have areas that are no go regardless. And that says there is a larger problem than reading and writing.

That places me in the situation that has questioned my own values and beliefs.  I thought at one point, "has this place made me a racist?"  And then I simply realized that I meet no one of any color in the public schools that have half a brain and many of them have more letters after their name then our own President who simply has a J.D.   It is every example of what defines an excess of Education that serves no one but the school who provided the degree.  When you meet stupid people consistently you realize it is a systemic and long term problem and being the smartest person in the room here is marked here by a very low bar.

And when I read the below article about voucher programs in Indiana where our actual President was Governor, the results were what one expected.  You can give a man a voucher but without a horse with which to travel he cannot get to the river to drink.   It is a clever way of maintaining the staus quo but pretending to offer choice and options.  But clearly that is not what is happening.

And one comment stood out from the over 1K that responded.  A man who said this is Indiana and this is a State with a low level of Education so when the "smart" person with the degree tells them something they accept that as sacrosanct and do not question the validity of the statement. And that goes to the rest of America. I know I live in Tennessee.  Whatever bullshit they are peddling in the esteemed Universities here is just that bullshit.  So of course it then validates the idea that State Education is useless and that only some school are good.   Wow it is a parallel universe to public K-12 Education.   Private is better and religious schools are better than nothing.   And the costs reflect that or do they?  Well only God knows.  

So when I read the below article about DeVos and the Indiana School System it was to say the least interesting. Basically to surmise, taxpayers are now subsidizing the same people who would go to a private school anyway and that those who then elected to take advantage of said vouchers did not need to do so and had sufficient income in which to enroll their child anyway.

What is not discussed is why poor families don't enroll their students into private schools. Well the Voucher is a subsidy and it does not cover all the costs associated with private school education. I have written before about the Christian School, Franklin Road Academy, and it is for grades 9-12 18K just to walk in the door.   Then there are additional costs and fees, including owning an Ipad,  and my favorite, the required missionary trip that all Students must take to graduate.  Where that is reminds me of Book of Mormon but I doubt it is that fun.   And then add to this  you have to get there and it is nowhere near a public bus stop and private service is not provided.    Our secular schools here shove that fear of the Jesus down your throat while taking dollars out of your hands. If I recall the story Jesus chased money lenders from the Temple and disavowed those who pursued money. Funny, here in the Bible Belt money is the value to overcome evil.   But that is the South, a contradiction, or what I call "So Nashville." 

And the same people that are sure religious dogma is a way of instilling value and worth and that the taxpayers would be more than happy to supplement that, I wonder if they would feel the same if a Madrassa opened shop.  Things that make you go hmmm. 

Fear fear and more fear. And from fear comes ignorance. I see it on a daily basis and the word of God is not owned by the rich but they seem to have patented it.



How Indiana’s school voucher program soared, and what it says about education in the Trump era


By Emma Brown and Mandy McLaren
The Washington Post
December 26 2015

Indiana lawmakers originally promoted the state’s school voucher program as a way to make good on America’s promise of equal opportunity, offering children from poor and lower-middle-class families an escape from public schools that failed to meet their needs.

But five years after the program was established, more than half of the state’s voucher recipients have never attended Indiana public schools, meaning that taxpayers are now covering private and religious school tuition for children whose parents had previously footed that bill. Many vouchers also are going to wealthier families, those earning up to $90,000 for a household of four.

The voucher program, one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing, serves more than 32,000 children and provides an early glimpse of what education policy could look like in Donald Trump’s presidency.

Trump has signaled that he intends to pour billions of federal dollars into efforts to expand vouchers and charter schools nationwide. Betsy DeVos, his nominee for education secretary, played an important role in lobbying for the establishment of Indiana’s voucher program in 2011. And Vice President-elect Mike Pence led the charge as the state’s governor to loosen eligibility requirements and greatly expand the program’s reach.

The idea of sending taxpayer funds to private and parochial schools is one of the most polarizing propositions in education. To proponents, the rapid expansion of Indiana’s program is a model for giving more families better educational options. But Indiana’s voucher program is seen by many public school advocates as a cautionary tale.

Most recipients are not leaving the state’s worst schools: Just 3 percent of new recipients of vouchers in 2015 qualified for them because they lived in the boundaries of F-rated public schools. And while overall private school enrollment grew by 12,000 students over the past five years, the number of voucher recipients grew by 29,000, according to state data, meaning that taxpayer money is potentially helping thousands of families pay for a choice they were already making. Most recipients qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, according to state data, but a growing proportion — now 31 percent — do not.


“The political strategy that voucher supporters have used is to start off small and targeted — low-income families and special-education students — then gradually expand it to more groups,” said Douglas Harris, a Tulane University professor of economics who favors choice but has been critical of DeVos’s free-market approach. “That’s also something the Trump-DeVos team will likely try. The term ‘Trojan horse’ comes to mind.”

Indiana’s program offers vouchers to low-income families, giving them an amount equal to 90 percent of the state funds that otherwise would have gone to their assigned public schools to educate their children. That figure ranges from $4,700 to $6,500 per child, depending on the school district. Children from more-affluent families get half that amount in vouchers.

Indiana’s program has succeeded in reaching children who otherwise would not have the chance to attend private schools.

Stephanie Schaefer of Newburgh, Ind., is a stay-at-home mother of six children, four of whom have used vouchers. For her 13-year-old daughter, Eliana, the opportunity to attend a private school was transformative: After struggling with learning disabilities and falling behind at her highly regarded public school, Eliana was able to catch up, thanks to more-personalized attention at Evansville Christian School. Her progress was a relief for her and her parents.

Schaefer said she and her husband, an engineer, own their home and consider themselves middle-class. “We have a comfortable living, but we struggle when it comes to extra,” she said, and they never could have afforded private school without help from the voucher program.

“I don’t think public education works for every kid,” Schaefer said. “Parents should have the right to be able to find out where their child can fit, where their child can get the best education.”

Indiana’s legislature first approved a limited voucher program in 2011, capping it at 7,500 students in the first year and restricting it to children who had attended public schools for at least a year. “Public schools will get first shot at every child,” then-Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) said at the time. “If the public school delivers and succeeds, no one will seek to exercise this choice.”

DeVos, who had lobbied for the program as chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, hailed its passage and proposed that other states follow Indiana’s lead. Two years later, Pence entered the governor’s office with a pledge to extend vouchers to more children.

“There’s nothing that ails our schools that can’t be fixed by giving parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach,” Pence said during his inaugural address in 2013.

Within months, Indiana lawmakers eliminated the requirement that children attend public school before receiving vouchers and lifted the cap on the number of recipients. The income cutoff was raised, and more middle-class families became eligible.

When those changes took effect, an estimated 60 percent of all Indiana children were eligible for vouchers, and the number of recipients jumped from 9,000 to more than 19,000 in one year. The proportion of children who had never previously attended Indiana public schools also rose quickly: By 2016, more than half of voucher recipients — 52 percent — had never been in the state’s public school system.

“Governor Pence supports the rights of parents to exercise choice and select the best school for their children,” Kara Brooks, Pence’s press secretary, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

The state Education Department says taxpayers are taking on $53 million in tuition costs that they were not bearing before, although it is unclear how many of those students would otherwise attend public schools — with state funding — if there were no vouchers. Voucher proponents dismiss the estimate as inflated by a Democratic state education chief.

Mychal Thom, head of Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne, estimated that at least half of his school’s 366 voucher recipients last year would have enrolled at Concordia even if the voucher program did not exist. “It’s just reduced some of the financial burden on families to attend,” he said.

Janelle Ruba, principal of Adventist Christian Elementary in Bloomington, said the same of her small school: “Most of the students were already in our school, so the vouchers have just helped with their payment.”

According to state data, more than 300 Indiana private schools accepted vouchers last year. Voucher recipients composed more than 75 percent of students at 44 of those schools, most of which identify themselves as Catholic, Lutheran or Christian.

Opponents argue that vouchers are not reaching the children most in need of better schools. They also assert that voucher programs violate the constitutional separation of church and state by funneling public dollars into religious schools, including those that teach creationism instead of the theory of evolution. Indiana’s program survived a legal challenge in 2013, when a judge ruled that the primary beneficiaries of the vouchers were families, not religious institutions.

Indiana has no financial reporting requirements for private schools that receive public funds, leaving taxpayers with less oversight and accountability than with the state’s public schools. And although the state’s voucher program has more stringent academic expectations than many others — private schools must give the same state tests as public schools, are graded on the same A-to-F scale and can be prohibited from accepting new voucher students if they perform poorly — there are loopholes.

Small schools do not get letter grades, for example, and thus are immune to the consequences for poor performance, according to state education officials. Even schools deemed failing sometimes continue receiving voucher money, according to state records.

Horizon Christian Academy, for example, had three campuses at which 85 percent of students received vouchers in 2015-2016, bringing in a total of $2.8 million in state funds. Horizon has not fared well on the state’s grading system, and one of its campuses received two F’s in a row, a performance so poor that the school should have faced consequences this year, according to state law.

Horizon consolidated its three schools into one, which was then allowed to continue accepting new voucher students this fall — though Tammy Henline, a Horizon co-founder and its superintendent, said the consolidation had nothing to do with avoiding accountability: “Having everyone in the same building makes things a little simpler.”

Robert Enlow, president and chief executive of EdChoice, an Indianapolis-based organization that advocates for vouchers nationwide, said he wondered why voucher opponents are not as skeptical of persistently terrible public schools as they are of private schools. “We have schools that have been dropout factories in this state forever,” he said.
Effect on public schools

Even as vouchers have shored up many parochial schools, public schools have been squeezed: State education spending has not kept up with inflation, and still is not as high, in real dollars, as it was in 2011, according to Lawrence DeBoer, an economist at Purdue University.

But it is not clear how the vouchers have affected public school finances. Indiana state tax money follows children to whatever schools they attend, so public schools that lose students also lose revenue. But spending on vouchers has not affected the rate of growth in overall state aid to local districts, DeBoer said, noting that the $132 million price tag for vouchers in 2016 was a tiny fraction of the $6.9 billion that local districts received from the state.

It is also not clear that vouchers are an effective way to boost student achievement. Some research has found that after using vouchers to transfer from public to private schools, Indianapolis students experienced no change in language arts performance and saw a decline in their math performance. Studies of other statewide voucher programs have made similar findings.


Glenda Ritz, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, said Indiana has spent nearly $375 million to date on a voucher program that has yet to be evaluated. “Before replicating this program on a national level, Hoosier taxpayers deserve a full accounting of the impact this program is having on student academic achievement and diversity as well as the fiscal impact on public school funding,” she said.

Other studies have found that voucher programs boost college enrollment and completion rates, especially among minority and low-income students.

To some Hoosiers, worries about school funding and student achievement are secondary to questions about the effect that vouchers might have on public education’s role as a civic institution. Private schools set their own admissions standards and can reject students for any reason, leading to concerns about segregation not just by race and class, but also by faith, ability and disability.

“If we’re going to expand vouchers further, folks have to grapple with: Are we going to distribute public funds to private entities that can practice discriminatory or exclusionary practices?” said David B. Smith, superintendent of public schools in Evansville, Ind.











Friday, December 30, 2016

Ends vs Means

As I end the year I was planning my end of year rituals to both cleanse and prepare for a New Year. I have nothing good to say about 2016 other than getting out of Seattle. That was the priority and inevitability and I am thankful that I am no longer in such a place of darkness. Is Nashville lightness? I don't know but is not Seattle and that is a start.

My greatest fear is having the last conversation with my former Attorney regarding my case and its inevitable loss. I tried and I lost in every case. I am yet to know why. The civil case was technical losses and none on substance of the issue and that I did on my own so to lose on that was expected but I know the truth and the Attorneys did as well. One now has an office under the monorail a great step down from the tower office he once occupied. So there is some satisfaction there and why he left that firm much like the truth in law I will never know.

My other case, criminal was finally put to death. I lost. I knew I would when I realized the Attorney's focus on the initial brief and their inability to focus on case law. Once they tried to keep me in the middle and not about the law that was violated and my rights denied we would lose. I was right. And in true Kevin Trombold fashion he failed to tell me the Judge's decision made over 10 days ago. If I wanted to appeal further he certainly pushed that envelope, but then again I expect nothing less from a man whose level of engagement and honesty with regards to my case was near to non-existent. I had fired two Lawyers before and then I realized they are all like him and I stayed with the one I brought to the dance and that dance was hell in every sense of the word; I can assure you that once you enter Court, regardless, you are guilty and they will go out of their way to ensure that.

I found this today:

A few additional legal suggestions from a burned out public
defender:

1. Don't try to talk your way out of a situation with
police. Time and time again I have had clients who thought
if they just explained the situation that the police would
let them go. It's ironic that the Supreme Court is deciding
whether or not to ditch Miranda when so many people, even
after being read their rights and hearing it constantly on
TV, don't exercise their right to remain silent. "I don't
know anything" is about all you want to say.

2. Don't consent to a search. If the police ask you, "Is
it alright if we search you/your car/your luggage"? Say no.
Tell them you're too busy now for a search.This makes
it almost impossible for your lawyer to challenge the search
later. Particularly don't consent if you have something to
hide. They may well go ahead and search you illegally, but
at least you didn't consent.

3. If your paid lawyer isn't doing a good job, Fire him as
soon as possible.Similarly with a public defender, take
steps earlier on to get rid of one who's not doing his job.
Don't wait till the day of trial! Also have some specific
complaints against a public defender, not just vague
dissatisfaction. Finally, about 90% of clients who think
they want a new public defender wimp out and back down when
he sweet talks them or they actually get to complain to the
judge. Don't back down, it's your liberty on the line.

4. Don't expect justice. This is probably impossible to
explain to anyone who hasn't actually been through the court
system. Everybody complains about the courts, but inside,
in their heart of hearts, they expect that they will be
treated fairly. In addition, most people think that justice
is what they want and that the judge is a sort of Father
figure who will understand and be sympathetic to them. Not
only will you not get what you want, but you probably won't
even be treated fairly on an objective standard.


My best advice is do everything you can to stay out of
court, but if you do get arrested get the absolute best
lawyer you can and spend whatever is necessary, unless you
value your money more than your liberty.


© 1999 Christopher Warnock, Esq. (chriswar@bellatlantic.net)

Not that money matters but it does. But frankly in my case I could have spent a lot more and the outcome would have been the same, I felt it then I feel certain of it now. It is an utter crap shoot and in reality you have what left? No money but a sense of freedom? Unless it is a massive felony you need to do an analysis and decide what matters. I spent on both cases over 30K and frankly that is a lot of money and what is necessary is debatable to only one - the Lawyer. They have set this system up and in turn have vested interest in retaining it as such for their own fiduciary gain, it is not about liberty or the truth it is about money - theirs.

And so when I read this article I thought well maybe this is some improvement as this is business and industry that needs some "disruption."

Again, regardless of the type or nature of your legal needs, do not expect understanding, compassion, intelligence or belief. Expect derision, disregard and poverty. The ends justify the means and without means you may not get Justice you just have a better chance of buying it.



When Finding the Right Lawyer Seems Daunting, Crowdsource One

By ELIZABETH OLSON
THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEC. 28, 2016


To resolve a legal dispute, the first thing many do is try to hire a lawyer. Too often, that is easier said than done.

Now, an online service offers crowdsourcing to hire a lawyer, an effort that if broadly adopted could make it easier for people trying to cope with turmoil like divorce and personal injury.

Matt Panzino started looking for a lawyer when his former employer accused him of violating a noncompete provision in his employment contract.

Mr. Panzino, 41, had moved to Phoenix earlier this year with a new job selling medical devices. When his former employer threatened legal action in Chicago, he quickly realized that he needed an advocate to defend him.

Friends told him about Legal Services Link, an online service that connects those needing legal services with lawyers willing to render them. He signed up online, then posted an anonymous summary of his legal dispute.

“Within a matter of a day or two,” Mr. Panzino said, “I had four or five different attorneys who responded, describing their professional qualifications and background.” He ultimately settled his case with the help of one of the lawyers who replied.

Others like Mr. Panzino want to circumvent the conventional and often inefficient routes of checking lawyer directories, searching online for legal specialists or asking friends or family for referrals.

State bar associations have so many requests for lawyer aid that some are seeking to move beyond offering lawyer referral lists and considering online platforms.

The State Bar of Arizona, for example, is exploring such technology, citing a huge demand for lawyers in situations like closing the sale of a house, fighting for child custody or pursuing redress for an injury.

“There is a huge gap between those who need legal services and those who can get them,” said John F. Phelps, the chief executive of the State Bar of Arizona, the nonprofit group that regulates lawyers. “We have an online directory, but we get thousands of calls.”

To hasten delivery of legal services, the bar association is taking several measures, including partnering with Legal Services Link to better help those who either represent themselves or go without legal advice.

Legal Services Link was founded by Matthew W. Horn, a lawyer at the Chicago firm SmithAmundsen, who got the idea for a platform while searching for a practitioner to help him with estate planning after he and his wife had a child.

“I asked friends, made calls and sent out emails,” he said. “But I couldn’t tell whether the attorneys were interested. It seemed like a lot of wasted time on both sides.”

He decided to see if crowdsourcing could apply to legal services, using a method similar to Uber’s ride-hailing service, which connects a consumer to a crowd of suppliers.

Other online legal services, like Avvo, provide directories of lawyers who are rated by consumers, on-demand legal advice and fixed-price legal services.

Legal Services Link, which began in May 2015, creates a marketplace where a person can list a legal need to available lawyers.

The site has 700 lawyers, many in the Chicago area — but not all — who pay $250 a year to be listed with their areas of expertise.

Clients post summaries of legal disputes, list their geographic location and select a payment preference. The choices are hourly, a fixed fee or contingency, which is a portion of whatever is recovered in a successful lawsuit. There is no cost for posting.

Lawyers can then respond, providing their name, practice specialties, experience and a cost or a range of prices for the legal service being sought. The lawyer also states what a problem of that type can cost. The client can compare the responses and decide whether to contact any of the lawyers for more specifics — and, possibly, to hire one.

Mr. Horn, together with his partner, Ryan Caltagirone, operates and monitors the platform to make sure only licensed lawyers use the site and handle complaints that arise.

There is no guarantee that a client will find an affordable lawyer — a consumer may find that a legal service is too costly — but the online platform helps pinpoint possible lawyers and allows the consumer to compare prices.

So far, the online service has had 600 clients and 500 legal needs posted. There have been about 300 matches where clients found a lawyer — usually one who practices individually or in a small or medium-size firm.

While state bar associations offer lawyer referral lists, a recent study, “Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States,” found they were not working well. Most poor people and a majority of moderate-income individuals lack “basic civil legal assistance,” including help on “evictions, mortgage foreclosures, child custody disputes, child support proceedings and debt collection cases,” the American Bar Association report said.

State bar associations, according to the report, need to expand their online offerings and marketplaces “for the public to find needed legal help.” There are a number of suggested improvements, among them panels where needy individuals are matched with lawyers to help them with essential legal matters.

Another way to connect clients with appropriate legal assistance is online crowdsource matching. Legal Services Link, Mr. Horn said, already draws “a lot of clients of modest means who may qualify for pro bono services but do not want to go through the process necessary to receive them.”

Those with a low income must prove they qualify for free civil legal services, but it is time consuming to gather all the forms and other information. Mr. Horn says he is working to help Arizona offer an online option to streamline the verification process there.

One way Arizona hopes to make people more aware of their rights to counsel and to encourage greater use of lawyers in vital civil disputes is through mobile technology, Mr. Phelps of the state bar said.

“About 80 percent or so of the state’s population has smartphones with access to the internet and mobile applications,” he noted.

That can help bridge the lack of connectivity between clients and lawyers who rely on existing methods of referrals, he noted. The partnership with Legal Services Link also could help expand the number of lawyers willing to take on specific cases pro bono.

Mr. Horn said he hoped that the result would be “to help all clients, even those of no means, connect with the perfect service provider for them — be it an attorney in private practice or a pro bono organization.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Year at End




I think this might be the last blog post for the year. It has been horrific on every level for me personally and I suspect for others it has been the same. I have watched as Icons have passed without warning and others who I had forgotten whose last breaths reminded me of the breaths of laughter they gave - thanks Zsa Zsa.

I am not okay in any sense of the word. Immense grief, immense anger and the depression that results from both have paralyzed me in ways I had hoped were forgotten. I though my life came to an end in 2012 and it had just not in the way God planned, for whatever reason he kept me alive that night and plunged me into the most horrific past four years that I used to say was my cancer. If I survived that I could survive anything and here I sit in Nashville a city that I have come to question why I ever came here and I realize that I would have said that about anywhere as I was running from and not to anything.

I need to write books. I have no interest in freelance writing even though I could use the cash and it would keep me out of the Nashville Public Schools; however, I think it would keep me from writing what I need to write. So my resolution is to write my ass off, to ignore kids, schools and just draft, research and draft more. I need to write as I need to breathe and I need to breathe to keep living. This year took the lives of many whose time it was and whose time it was not.  And I have no intention of eulogizing or writing lengthy in memoriums about how they affected me.   When Joan Rivers and Robin Williams died the connection to my family was through them and now all these deaths are all mine, they were ones who I loved through the ages thoroughly unrequited but not I am sure unwelcome. I sat in stadiums, in cars, my bedroom, my living room or plugged in listening, singing along and just feeling alive reading or hearing about them in their lives. Some I knew and some whose work I did but it did not mean they were ignored. As in life we pass through doors and brush against strangers not realizing the electrical exchange that just took place as a natural reality that occurs in science and the affect is no less essential. 

How to make things work will come with time. I am listening to George Michael and tears are coming now after I danced my ass off in the park thinking how lucky we have been to have such fun in both youth and age all from the same song. That is a legacy worth leaving.

So as 2016 ends the year on a Star Wars like explosion I realize that there is no Hans Solo coming to my rescue and that heaven is a hell of a gay disco right now. Ah I am glad however to have my place in line held for right now, I imagine the doorman is quite picky about who gets in and as he should.

I said today to an idiot (as this is Nashville and that is all there is here) who works in the infamous clothier Manuel's shop, that I am ending I think for now my Magical Mystery Tour and spending time just sitting at a rest stop and reflect on what my journey has brought me. He goes, "well that term has already been used and that people might not understand what you mean as it is not yours." Okay another idiot on which to end a note of a day of tears, so I responded, "Yes I am quite aware I appropriated it and that is the point as I use it as mutual point of reference but thanks." Then I walked out and thought I will never walk in there again. That is what I have learned in Nashville that people here are morons so walk away and out.
 
I did my self inventory already this year and I cannot do it anymore it brings no peace nor soundness of mind and without those you cannot write a last will and testament and that may be also a good thing.

A year ago I burned the names of my enemies and froze them in bags in my refrigerator and buried them when I moved as if to leave them in Seattle. Well that damn wind followed me and I did not clearly dig deep enough. So it is time to do this again and let the ashes take them with the wind to another destination

 He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle themselves away - Raymond Hull 

As George Michael now sings about faith I know that it has many meanings.  And for me Faith is a belief, a hope that there is something at the end of the road that is there to welcome you. Be it to the gay disco or to the holy roller hall of fame, whatever floats your boat, let's just hope there are enough boats for us to find our tribe. I think I know the one I want to board and it is a hell of a party boat.

So ending this year seeing good movies, some bad ones, amazing TV and some not so amazing, reading good books and some dogs and always listening to good music as there is none bad on my playlist.

Find your playlist and dance like no one is watching. You have nothing to prove but to yourself and find the song that you can sing with all your heart and passion. Live life and live it to the end.

Happy New Year.







Gift Cards

 This case will be interesting as I believe  it will open the door on the issue of civil asset forfeiture and what that means regarding appropriating personal property without being convicted of a crime.   That said the fees and fines associated with our justice system are egregious regardless of a individuals guilt or innocence and they largely affect the poor in more substantial long lasting ways.

The reality is that all of them are money makers and the exaggerations of safety and security are used to manipulate people in believing this is all for good.  You cannot get into the discussion around any crimes, victimless or otherwise, without someone shrieking that they have a family member/friend/acquaintance/distant relative/boss/co-worker/dude who pours you coffee/somebody they sorta kinda know whose life was destroyed by this crime.  Yes and punishing everyone else is going to do what exactly for you or them? Stop it forever?

I was threatened on Twitter when I sent the article about the DUI charges to the coffee drinker to Radley Balko and he re-tweeted it and of course every psycho fuck immediately sent me tweets about how coffee is dangerous.  Really so being charged for a DUI which under the law in the State of California does not specifically say caffeine is appropriate for if he was just driving inappropriately then cite him under traffic laws and not for a criminal misdemeanor.  Well logic and facts again in this age are not acceptable when you have your own knee jerk emotions caught up in your knickers about things that matter TO YOU.  Remember it is always just about you.


Charged a Fee for Getting Arrested, Whether Guilty or Not

By ADAM LIPTAK
THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEC. 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — Corey Statham had $46 in his pockets when he was arrested in Ramsey County, Minn., and charged with disorderly conduct. He was released two days later, and the charges were dismissed.

But the county kept $25 of Mr. Statham’s money as a “booking fee.” It returned the remaining $21 on a debit card subject to an array of fees. In the end, it cost Mr. Statham $7.25 to withdraw what was left of his money.

The Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear Mr. Statham’s challenge to Ramsey County’s fund-raising efforts, which are part of a national trend to extract fees and fines from people who find themselves enmeshed in the criminal justice system.

Kentucky bills people held in its jails for the costs of incarcerating them, even if all charges are later dismissed. In Colorado, five towns raise more than 30 percent of their revenue from traffic tickets and fines. In Ferguson, Mo., “city officials have consistently set maximizing revenue as the priority for Ferguson’s law enforcement activity,” a Justice Department report found last year.

An unusual coalition of civil rights organizations, criminal defense lawyers and conservative and libertarian groups have challenged these sorts of policies, saying they confiscate private property without constitutional protections and lock poor people into a cycle of fines, debts and jail.

The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear a separate challenge to a Colorado law that makes it hard for criminal defendants whose convictions were overturned to obtain refunds of fines and restitution, often amounting to thousands of dollars. That case, Nelson v. Colorado, will be argued on Jan. 9.

The Colorado law requires people who want their money back to file a separate lawsuit and prove their innocence by clear and convincing evidence.

The sums at issue are smaller in Ramsey County, which includes St. Paul. But they are taken from people who have merely been arrested. Some of them will never be charged with a crime. Others, like Mr. Statham, will have the charges against them dismissed. Still others will be tried but acquitted.

It is all the same to the county, which does not return the $25 booking fee even if the arrest does not lead to a conviction. Instead, it requires people like Mr. Statham to submit evidence to prove they are entitled to get their money back.

When the case was argued last year before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Paul, a lawyer for the county acknowledged that its process was in tension with the presumption of innocence.

“There is some legwork involved,” the lawyer, Jason M. Hiveley said, but noted that it is possible for blameless people to get their $25 back. “They can do it as soon as they have the evidence that they haven’t been found guilty.”

The legwork proved too much for Mr. Statham. He never got his $25 back.

He did get a debit card for the remaining $21. But there was no practical way to extract his cash without paying some kind of fee. Among them: $1.50 a week for “maintenance” of the unwanted card, starting after 36 hours; $2.75 for using an A.T.M. to withdraw money; $3 for transferring the balance to a bank account; and $1.50 for checking the balance.

In its appeals court brief, the county said the debit cards were provided “for the convenience of the inmates,” who might find it hard to cash a check.

Mr. Statham is represented by Michael A. Carvin, a prominent conservative lawyer who has argued Supreme Court cases challenging the Affordable Care Act and fees charged by public unions.

Mr. Carvin said the county’s motives were not rooted in solicitude for the people it had arrested. “Revenue-starved local governments are increasingly turning toward fees like Ramsey County’s in order to bridge their budgetary gaps,” he wrote in a Supreme Court brief. “But the unilateral decision of a single police officer cannot possibly justify summarily confiscating money.”

“Providing a profit motive to make arrests,” he said, “gives officers an incentive to make improper arrests.”

Ramsey County did not bother to submit a response in the Supreme Court. “We have not filed a brief in opposition to the petition, nor do we plan to,” Mr. Hiveley said in a Dec. 8 email. The county, he said, would take its chances before the justices without presenting its side of the story.

Six days later, the Supreme Court ordered the county to file a brief in the case, Mickelson v. County of Ramsey. It is due Jan. 13.

Through his lawyers, Mr. Statham declined a request for an interview. He lost in the lower courts, which said his right to due process had not been violated by the $25 booking charge or the debit card fees, which were both, the trial judge said, “relatively modest.”

It is true that $25 is not a lot of money — unless you are poor. It represents almost half a day’s work at the federal minimum wage, a federal judge wrote in a dissent in another case on booking fees, and it is nearly the average amount the government allots to help feed an adult for a week under the federal food-stamp program.

In its appeals court brief, the county took a different view of the economic imperatives. “Municipal services,” the brief said, “come at a cost.”

A Rear View

I am watching a repeat of Seth Myers with VP Joe Biden as the guest.  He is speaking with regards to Donald Trump's recent video release and other interviews with women who "allege" that Donald Trump was a raving pervert.   Well guess that ire worked out didn't it.

What I always found interesting is early in the Obama Administration Biden was appointed to investigate the Ivy League schools, particularly Yale, with regards to allegations of rape. This was called "It's On Us" and then as time passed and Biden moved on to wax the Chevy on the South Lawn,   Tile IX became the weapon in which to draw attention with regards to the increasingly important matter of sexual assault on college campuses across the country.  And in 2015 this became the fuel in the fire in the documentary The Hunting Ground.   And while we may disagree about the statistics about sexual assault or harassment we agree one rape and one assault is one too many and there comes a point when saying STOP is not enough.

So watching Biden rage on about women I found it fascinating as he was on the Judiciary Committee when another such allegation  of sexual harassment came before him from a woman named Anita Hill and the man, future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  I guess Trump is a lightweight as there was another woman who never told her story and was sidelined by whom - the Justice committee that Biden chaired.  And to hear him wax indignant on Trump is irony upon hypocrisy.

And Obama was interesting this week as well as he claims had he been able to run a third term he would have won against Trump, bringing an end to the budding bromance and peaceable transition that he promised only a few weeks ago.  Well Obama when running against Hillary in 2008 also said he would have never appointed Thomas either. I guess that says that!

Gender, Race and Sexual Harassment the same issues brought to light again.  Ah hindsight it is best looked at through the rear view mirror.



Biden and Anita Hill, Revisited

By Kate Phillips
The New York Times
August 23, 2008

When Senator Barack Obama mentioned last week at the Saddleback Church faith forum that he wouldn’t have appointed Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court bench, perhaps he had already been reviewing the presiding role that his now running mate, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., played in the judge’s confirmation hearings long ago.

Mr. Biden at the time was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And while the Delaware Democrat ultimately voted against confirming Mr. Thomas, he was widely criticized by liberal legal advocates and women’s groups as having mismanaged the allegations of sexual harassment made by Ms. Hill against her former employer, Mr. Thomas, at the Department of Education and at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at those hearings.

It was another time and another place, but the issues of race, gender and politics intersected in a volatile way that still may hold resonance today, especially given the interplay of those themes (granted in entirely different ways) during the epic primary battle between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Some women, invariably of Senator Clinton’s age, who were actively involved in opposing Mr. Thomas’s confirmation in 1991 recall the narrow vote (52-48 in favor) as “a day of shame for the Senate and a day of shame for women,” as one lawyer said this week. The episode in time evoked strong reactions from women across the country, who viewed the judiciary panel as 14 white men who too easily dismissed Ms. Hill’s accusations and who did not allow the testimony of other women who might have corroborated or helped buttress her account to prove a case of sexual harassment.

We’ve contacted several of the people involved at the time. Some of them do not want to be on the record now; they worry that they need to preserve their fire, were Mr. Obama to be elected, to weigh in on the next round of judicial selections.

Interestingly, though, some have pointed out that while public opinion first indicated a repulsion for Ms. Hill and favored Mr. Thomas, and then somehow shifted a bit as women were weighing in, more women were elected to the Senate and the House. And as others point out, the backlash sentiment among women voters, whose refrain about the Senate at the time, (and men in general) became “they just don’t get it,” may have become influential in propelling the first President George Bush to sign the 1991 civil rights bill. And in electing Bill Clinton to the presidency afterward.

At the very least, sexual harassment came to the forefront of public debate and was much discussed on all sides, post the Thomas hearings.

For women of a certain age, perhaps, the memories are still vivid, and Senator Biden’s pivotal guidance and leadership on the Judiciary Committee remain a matter of controversy. The advent of the Internet and YouTube preserve and resurrect that era. Perhaps because of Mr. Biden’s failed presidential bid earlier in the cycle, there are several takes of his questioning of Mr. Thomas posted on YouTube. It’s a very interesting spot in time, captured on video. Several takes are now uploaded: One | Two | Three | Four.

“He was basically playing judge,” Susan Deller Ross, a Georgetown University law professor and expert in workplace sex discrimination, said of Mr. Biden, adding “the other side was playing advocate” for Mr. Thomas. “I’m sure you remember nobody played advocate for her. I don’t think he did well and he bears responsibility for Mr. Thomas being on the court.”

Ms. Ross, who was one of the lawyers assisting Ms. Hill, asserts that Mr. Biden treated Mr. Thomas too even-handedly because of the racially charged nature of the hearings. (Remember Justice Thomas’ charge that he had been subjected to a “high-tech lynching.”) Ms. Ross said that Mr. Biden “was accused of being labeled racist, so the Republicans were blackmailing him and he pushed the levers to make the case look like there wasn’t a case when there was.”

From not permitting other witnesses like Angela Wright to testify who would have been favorable to Ms. Hill, to not permitting affidavits from an expert on whether a pattern of behavior needed to be established to prove sexual harassment, Ms. Ross concluded: “He did everything to make it be good for Thomas and to slant it against her.” (Mr. Biden and his staff at times indicated that Ms. Wright and others weren’t willing to testify, but the record and books written since appear contradictory, as these women were held waiting in the wings for days.)

Over the years, Mr. Biden has defended his role in the hearings. In “Strange Justice,” a book about the Clarence Thomas confirmation, authors Jill Abramson (managing editor for news here at The Times) and Jane Mayer, author of “The Dark Side” and a writer for the New Yorker, extensively document the internal and external machinations surrounding the hearings and interviewed Senator Biden several times.

He made decisions, they wrote, based on his views of respect for a person’s privacy about what and wouldn’t be let into the hearings – including the pornography rentals and Mr. Thomas’s thin legal record. (At Saddleback, Mr. Obama, a former law professor at the University of Chicago said, “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation.”)

(At one point, Senator Biden’s aides and then he told Ms. Abramson and Ms. Mayer that digging in too deep on Mr. Thomas’s intellectual legal prowess would’ve been a problem. One aide said, “it was a racial thing.” Mr. Biden himself said, “There was in fact a concern about whether or not to make the guy look stupid – what would happen if you embarrassed him.”)

In one interview, the two wrote that Mr. Biden said later that he had tried to be a statesman, to uphold decency standards. In the end, however, he conceded that his motivations might have been “misplaced.” On excluding the pornography issue alone, they quoted Mr. Biden as saying that he acted, “in fairness to Thomas, which in retrospect he didn’t deserve.”

Maybe this is all ancient history. Senator Biden is indeed credited – by Democrats and those on the left – for also presiding over the rejection of Judge Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. And in opposing the placement of now Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

Ms. Ross, who was a Clinton supporter during the primaries but adds that that shouldn’t be held against her in her views of Mr. Biden a la Anita Hill, and others do credit Mr. Biden for being a staunch proponent of laws against domestic violence. Of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas era involving the senator, Ms. Ross said, “I don’t know if other people still care after all these years.”

Another pivotal player from those years said she was told by a friend the other day, in mentioning Mr. Biden’s actions during that era, that she needed to “get over it.”

In the last few days, as we tried to reach out to people involved in the Thomas hearings, we kept hearing the same thing. Mr. Biden’s role in the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas saga was so long ago as to not be relevant. It was a long time ago.

Funny how that phrase, though, “get over it” keeps coming back. It’s the one Mr. Obama used in a meeting with supporters of Senator Clinton about how women, once they really learned what Senator John McCain represented on their issues, would “get over it.”

Last year, when Mr. Thomas published his memoir, Anita Hill wrote an Op-Ed in The Times, basically saying well, she wasn’t over it. And in another interview this year, now on YouTube, she talks about the role of gender and politics in the 2008 cycle, although she never mentions Mr. Biden or her own role.

In the epilogue to their book, Ms. Abramson and Ms. Mayer write that members of the Judiciary Committee – Democrats and Republicans alike – came to offer some regrets for the haste in which Ms. Hill’s allegations were dealt with and by some, challenged, and dismissed. The hearings went into overtime on a weekend in October of 1991, and so many matters were put into the record. The matter was so hastily dispensed with, these lawyers said, that there was no time for a comprehensive report for other senators to digest and consider.

For his part, Mr. Biden said in one of the interviews in “Strange Justice”: If the polls are correct, 85 percent to 86 percent of the country knew who I was and had an opinion of me. That’s a highly unusual exposure for a senator.” And he told them, of those surveyed, more than a majority felt he had been “fair.”

As a short aside, one of Mr. Biden’s key aides at the time, who reviewed the allegations and dealt with Ms. Hill, was Harriet Grant, who is now married to I. Lewis Libby, otherwise known as “Scooter.”



Craig's List

When I am bored I read Craigslist. I look at Jobs for freelance writing jobs, I look at rentals and peruse of course the Personals.  That section is broken into more categories than the entire site combined.   And all they really need to do is simply just have a singular classification - I want to get fucked. They could divide that into willing to pay or not going to pay.  They are charging the Backpage Editor with pimping, I guess Craig still feels this dated site offers some type of old fashioned hook ups.  What.ever.

I have used Craigslist to hook up, yes to get laid, to buy or sell stuff and find jobs and rentals.  I have not done so in years.   It is not a safe site and even when I was looking for an item and responded on Craigslist thinking I was in Nashville how bad could it be, I was wrong.  I only met the Gun toting faux Rabbi but that was enough to remind me that Craigslist is not a safe site. I found my apartment on Zillow and frankly I will go back to Ebay if I want to sell or buy anything and did so recently to get a Dyson heater.  Ebay has dramatically improved and many companies list there on Amazon for refurbished items.

So if I wanted to get laid I would now go to Tinder or not. I have no interest in that and then I realized I have no interest in having some asshole thrust himself on top of me and pump is flaccid tool inside, me, throw a condom in my trash for me to clean up and him pretend he gives a shit about me as a woman let alone human being.  I live in Stupidville and I meet idiots on a daily basis so when I am home that is my sanctuary and the last thing I want here is a destruction of that peace.  My mother was right, take them to a hotel, don't bother exchanging names, do your business then leave. Oh wait that is illegal isn't it.. well only if money changes hands and there is no way I would fuck anyone for free, a nice dinner maybe. 

I cannot believe at age 57 that I have to accept a life without love or companionship even friendship as that is simply not possible with that of the other sex.  I read the article below and went, "yeah men would fuck a hole in the wall, god I hope these guys don't have pets."

When does the depravity of men end?  Well why don't we find out when it begins.  I am sure this is a biological based function that I used to think was learned and for years I blamed Mothers for this issue but it seems beyond that.  There is something deep within the man's brain that requires them to fuck, fuck constantly and not feel worthy unless they are sexually active.  Jesus H. Christ I am exhausted from trying to understand this and frankly I don't think we spend enough energy trying to understand the sexual compulsions of men.  This explains rape, infidelity, molestation and other sexual predilections of men that verge on criminal.    And yet I am pro prostitution as I believe that is the true resolution to much of this.. Oh wait now you are a sex trafficker, which I believe will makes things worse.

Instead of Viagra we can come up with Sopressa that will stop this shit and enable men to simply socialize, be functional and have stable relationships.  That and have legal drugs and prostitution which could be taxed, monitored and safe.  Well this is my dream America, as in literally a dream. Just like having a happy functional relationship with a man.   

Men ask yourselves what is this about?


December 18, 2016 8:00 p.m.
The Phenomenon of ‘Bud Sex’ Between Straight Rural Men
By Jesse Singal


A lot of men have sex with other men but don’t identify as gay or bisexual. A subset of these men who have sex with men, or MSM, live lives that are, in all respects other than their occasional homosexual encounters, quite straight and traditionally masculine — they have wives and families, they embrace various masculine norms, and so on. They are able to, in effect, compartmentalize an aspect of their sex lives in a way that prevents it from blurring into or complicating their more public identities. Sociologists are quite interested in this phenomenon because it can tell us a lot about how humans interpret thorny questions of identity and sexual desire and cultural expectations.

Last year, NYU Press published the fascinating book Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men by the University of California, Riverside, gender and sexuality professor Jane Ward. In it, Ward explored various subcultures in which what could be called “straight homosexual sex” abounds — not just in the ones you’d expect, like the military and fraternities, but also biker gangs and conservative suburban neighborhoods — to better understand how the participants in these encounters experienced and explained their attractions, identities, and rendezvous. But not all straight MSM have gotten the same level of research attention. One relatively neglected such group, argues the University of Oregon sociology doctoral student Tony Silva in a new paper in Gender & Society, is rural, white, straight men (well, neglected if you set aside Brokeback Mountain).

Silva sought to find out more about these men, so he recruited 19 from men-for-men casual-encounters boards on Craigslist and interviewed them, for about an hour and a half each, about their sexual habits, lives, and senses of identity. All were from rural areas of Missouri, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, or Idaho, places known for their “social conservatism and predominant white populations.” The sample skewed a bit on the older side, with 14 of the 19 men in their 50s or older, and most identified exclusively as exclusively or mostly straight, with a few responses along the lines of “Straight but bi, but more straight.”

Since this is a qualitative rather than a quantitative study, it’s important to recognize that the particular men recruited by Silva weren’t necessarily representative of, well, anything. These were just the guys who agreed to participate in an academic’s research project after they saw an ad for it on Craigslist. But the point of Silva’s project was less to draw any sweeping conclusions about either this subset of straight MSM, or the population as a whole, than to listen to their stories and compare them to the narratives uncovered by Ward and various other researchers.

Specifically, Silva was trying to understand better the interplay between “normative rural masculinity” — the set of mores and norms that defines what it means to be a rural man — and these men’s sexual encounters. In doing so, he introduces a really interesting and catchy concept, “bud-sex”:

Ward (2015) examines dudesex, a type of male–male sex that white, masculine, straight men in urban or military contexts frame as a way to bond and build masculinity with other, similar “bros.” Carrillo and Hoffman (2016) refer to their primarily urban participants as heteroflexible, given that they were exclusively or primarily attracted to women. While the participants in this study share overlap with those groups, they also frame their same-sex sex in subtly different ways: not as an opportunity to bond with urban “bros,” and only sometimes—but not always—as a novel sexual pursuit, given that they had sexual attractions all across the spectrum. Instead, as Silva (forthcoming) explores, the participants reinforced their straightness through unconventional interpretations of same-sex sex: as “helpin’ a buddy out,” relieving “urges,” acting on sexual desires for men without sexual attractions to them, relieving general sexual needs, and/or a way to act on sexual attractions. “Bud-sex” captures these interpretations, as well as how the participants had sex and with whom they partnered. The specific type of sex the participants had with other men—bud-sex—cemented their rural masculinity and heterosexuality, and distinguishes them from other MSM.

This idea of homosexual sex cementing heterosexuality and traditional, rural masculinity certainly feels counterintuitive, but it clicks a little once you read some of the specific findings from Silva’s interviews. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that rural masculinity is “[c]entral to the men’s self-understanding.” Quoting another researcher, Silva notes that it guides their “thoughts, tastes, and practices. It provides them with their fundamental sense of self; it structures how they understand the world around them; and it influences how they codify sameness and difference.” As with just about all straight MSM, there’s a tension at work: How can these men do what they’re doing without it threatening parts of their identity that feel vital to who they are?

In some of the subcultures Ward studied, straight MSM were able to reinterpret homosexual identity as actually strengthening their heterosexual identities. So it was with Silva’s subjects as well — they found ways to cast their homosexual liaisons as reaffirming their rural masculinity. One way they did so was by seeking out partners who were similar to them. “This is a key element of bud-sex,” writes Silva. “Partnering with other men similarly privileged on several intersecting axes—gender, race, and sexual identity—allowed the participants to normalize and authenticate their sexual experiences as normatively masculine.” In other words: If you, a straight guy from the country, once in a while have sex with other straight guys from the country, it doesn’t threaten your straight, rural identity as much as it would if instead you, for example, traveled to the nearest major metro area and tried to pick up dudes at a gay bar. You’re not the sort of man who would go to a gay bar — you’re not gay!

It’s difficult here not to slip into the old middle-school joke of “It’s not gay if …” — “It’s not gay” if your eyes are closed, or the lights are off, or you’re best friends — but that’s actually what the men in Silva’s study did, in a sense:

As Cain [one of the interview subjects] said, “I’m really not drawn to what I would consider really effeminate faggot type[s],” but he does “like the masculine looking guy who maybe is more bi.” Similarly, Matt (60) explained, “If they’re too flamboyant they just turn me off,” and Jack noted, “Femininity in a man is a turn off.” Ryan (60) explained, “I’m not comfortable around femme” and “masculinity is what attracts me,” while David shared that “Femme guys don’t do anything for me at all, in fact actually I don’t care for ’em.” Jon shared, “I don’t really like flamin’ queers.” Mike (50) similarly said, “I don’t want the effeminate ones, I want the manly guys … If I wanted someone that acts girlish, I got a wife at home.” Jeff (38) prefers masculinity because “I guess I perceive men who are feminine want to hang out … have companionship, and make it last two or three hours.”

In other words: It’s not gay if the guy you’re having sex with doesn’t seem gay at all. Or consider the preferences of Marcus, another one of Silva’s interview subjects:

A guy that I would consider more like me, that gets blowjobs from guys every once in a while, doesn’t do it every day. I know that there are a lot of guys out there that are like me … they’re manly guys, and doing manly stuff, and just happen to have oral sex with men every once in a while [chuckles]. So, that’s why I kinda prefer those types of guys … It [also] seems that … more masculine guys wouldn’t harass me, I guess, hound me all the time, send me 1000 emails, “Hey, you want to get together today … hey, what about now.” And there’s a thought in my head that a more feminine or gay guy would want me to come around more. […] Straight guys, I think I identify with them more because that’s kinda, like [how] I feel myself. And bi guys, the same way. We can talk about women, there [have] been times where we’ve watched hetero porn, before we got started or whatever, so I kinda prefer that. [And] because I’m not attracted, it’s very off-putting when somebody acts gay, and I feel like a lot of gay guys, just kinda put off that gay vibe, I’ll call it, I guess, and that’s very off-putting to me.

This, of course, is similar to the way many straight men talk about women — it’s nice to have them around and it’s (of course) great to have sex with them, but they’re so clingy. Overall, it’s just more fun to hang out around masculine guys who share your straight-guy preferences and vocabulary, and who are less emotionally demanding.

One way to interpret this is as defensiveness, of course — these men aren’t actually straight, but identify that way for a number of reasons, including “internalized heterosexism, participation in other-sex marriage and childrearing [which could be complicated if they came out as bi or gay], and enjoyment of straight privilege and culture,” writes Silva. After Jane Ward’s book came out last year, Rich Juzwiak laid out a critique in Gawker that I also saw in many of the responses to my Q&A with her: While Ward sidestepped the question of her subjects’ “actual” sexual orientations — “I am not concerned with whether the men I describe in this book are ‘really’ straight or gay,” she wrote — it should matter. As Juzwiak put it: “Given the cultural incentives that remain for a straight-seeming gay, given the long-road to self-acceptance that makes many feel incapable or fearful of honestly answering questions about identity—which would undoubtedly alter the often vague data that provide the basis for Ward’s arguments—it seems that one should care about the wide canyon between what men claim they are and what they actually are.” In other words, Ward sidestepped an important political and rights minefield by taking her subjects’ claims about their sexuality more or less at face value.

There are certainly some good reasons for sociologists and others to not examine individuals’ claims about their identities too critically. But still: Juzwiak’s critique is important, and it looms large in the background of one particular segment of Silva’s paper. Actually, it turned out, some of Silva’s subjects really weren’t all that opposed to a certain level of deeper engagement with their bud-sex buds, at least when it came to their “regulars,” or the men they hooked up with habitually:

While relationships with regulars were free of romance and deep emotional ties, they were not necessarily devoid of feeling; participants enjoyed regulars for multiple reasons: convenience, comfort, sexual compatibility, or even friendship. Pat described a typical meetup with his regular: “We talk for an hour or so, over coffee … then we’ll go get a blowjob and then, part our ways.” Similarly, Richard noted, “Sex is a very small part of our relationship. It’s more friends, we discuss politics … all sorts of shit.” Likewise, with several of his regulars Billy noted, “I go on road trips, drink beer, go down to the city [to] look at chicks, go out and eat, shoot pool, I got one friend I hike with. It normally leads to sex, but we go out and do activities other than we meet and suck.” While Kevin noted that his regular relationship “has no emotional connection at all,” it also has a friendship-like quality, as evidenced by occasional visits and sleepovers despite almost 100 miles of distance. Similarly, David noted, “If my wife’s gone for a weekend … I’ll go to his place and spend a night or two with him … we obviously do things other than sex, so yeah we go to dinner, go out and go shopping, stuff like that.” Jack explained that with his regular “we connected on Craigslist … [and] became good friends, in addition to havin’ sex … we just made a connection … But there was no love at all.” Thus, bud-sex is predicated on rejecting romantic attachment and deep emotional ties, but not all emotion.

Whatever else is going on here, clearly these men are getting some companionship out of these relationships. It isn’t just about sex if you make a point of getting coffee, and especially if you spend nights together, go shopping or out to dinner, and so on. But there are sturdy incentives in place for them to not take that step of identifying, or identifying fully, as gay or bi. Instead, they frame their bud-sex, even when it’s accompanied by other forms of intimacy, in a way that reinforces their rural, straight masculinity.

It’s important to note that this isn’t some rational decision where the men sit down, list the pros and cons, and say, “Well, I guess coming out just won’t maximize my happiness and well-being.” It’s more subtle than that, given the osmosis-like way we all absorb social norms and mores. In all likelihood, when Silva’s subjects say they’re straight, they mean it: That’s how they feel. But it’s hard not to get the sense that maybe some of them would be happier, or would have made different life decisions, if they had had access to a different, less constricted vocabulary to describe what they want — and who they are.



Forrest Trump

I have been writing about intelligence and education and how the two are often aligned as a measurement for success and as the song goes.. can't have one without the other; however, we also like to point out the American Unicorn of the self made myth.  This includes such individuals as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs. 

Okay I could sit down point out that all of the above had immense family support and as for the first two gentlemen were in Harvard when they elected to drop out and their businesses were not built on the backs of their own sweat.  Gates is a known bully and the varying owners of Facebook and lawsuits showed that Zuckerberg was hardly alone in his dorm room sweating through his hoody.  Jobs has had many documentaries and books about his mythology so when we keep coming up with these old tropes why not talk about Carnegie and Rockefeller and how they created the steel and gas industry on the sweat of the immigrant backs they exploited in which to do so.  We can include the Koch's and Walton families who have long legacy's of family money in which enabled them to secure their position at the right wing table of crackpots.  But none have ever managed to get the seat of the head of that table, the ultimate position - President of the United States.

And then came Trump.  Wow this is the biggest boondoggle con on America since the circus came to town.  P.T. Barnum said there is a sucker born every minute and there are 62,979,636 who proved that statement.

Yesterday the New York Times, a paper that is going under or is a jewel, depending on the mood of our Il-Douchebag elect, had an interesting cover story about the Trump "Empire."  I actually think the show Empire has a bigger business and Lucious has a higher net worth than Trump.   There has been no validation or documentation that supports the bombastic claims of Il Douchebag of said worth.  I often think that Empire was a case of foreshadowing of what was to come as the creator Lee Daniels loved soaps of the 80s such as Dynasty and Dallas and it appears the 80s are back, just sans shoulder pads.   Our new first Diva of the Dynasty prefers one sleeved garments and his highness prefers Chinese slave labor over Saville Row so we will rely on the TV Empire for fashion and style.   Perhaps Joan Collins can do a drop in to the White Trump Tower  House and swing a purse to land a blow to Kellyanne Conaway, the Krystal of this story line.

The article to the Times is here.  Note that the Trump family industry seems to have massive gate keepers and protectors to the Il Douchebag in Chief.  And when finally the meet and greet occurs it is a brief moment that seems to focus on personal looks and his toys.  I recall during the audition phase of casting,  Carly Fiorina, who had once been derided for her looks, came out and spoke about Trumps possessions, in the same way the businessman did after his meeting.  He is consistent there at least.

As I read the article again the 80s came to mind and the Presidency of the Voodoo Reagan.  He too was well into his 70s but unlike Il Douchebag had some Governmental experience and a well tested team behind him to act as Gatekeepers and Minders to ensure that few had access to Reagan. I have always suspected that Reagan was already in the early stages of Alzheimer's as did others  and that while not diagnosed until he left office it was simply thought of as being "old" and "forgetful" both common, however, not fatal effects of aging.    It just makes little to no sense nor believable that days after his leaving office suddenly Reagan was ill when we are now quite aware of the disease and its progression.   And I feel the same way about Trump.   There is something not right there or he is just truly stupid but a bully.   At least Gates was/is smart in addition to being a bully, there is something to that.   And that is the key to success, if you can't win on your own baffle them with bullshit.  And Trump that is the deal he has mastered.

Then I found this article in Newsweek from August.  And once again it is clear that the business acumen and claims are all grandiose and unsubstantiated.   If that is one skill Trump has is a way of utterly lying to your face and yet people seem to give him checks and votes.  Well the idea of a Government of checks and balances is clearly in place for a reason, let's see how Trump bullshits his way around that one. 

But he does have an ability to insult people and demean them once they have insulted them.  The consistency on that is another Trump signature, along with tacky decor. 

Note that suddenly the Trump Foundation is closing shop and talks about an advisor running the show with the sons.  Stay tuned as Trump likes to say.    Back peddling is another skill set the Trump family have managed to do quite well. 

This conflict of interest and other lies and bullshit dominate Trump and follow him like Linus with his blanket.  I truly fear this Presidency as it is as I have said, the revenge of the stupid.    This is however the best stupid can do with regards to revolution as that would require smarts, clear leadership and well this thing called effort beyond Tweeting hashtag slogans.   This, regardless of the side you are on, has shown to be a problem.  From Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, to even Black Lives Matter, we have found loud voices, important issues but no clear leaders, plans or politics in which to vest and engage.

I want to point out that the Keystone Pipeline was the one action that showed determination and organization and how effective that can be when one chooses to stand up and stand proud.  And we have seen this on the right with the odd Ranchers and their taking the federal building. Regardless of your politics you see what it takes to actually get attention and in turn response.   But lasting attention and in turn success has yet to be proven and that is the hard line that few are willing to stand in.

That is the real problem as when one comes forward to lead, to organize, that one will have to be vetted, tested and have to stand up to demonstrate leadership under duress.  Funny, we elected a President who did none of that.    Well stupid is as stupid does.





Monday, December 26, 2016

Dumbo, Not the Elephant

"I love the poorly educated," said Donald Trump during one of his massively over ego gratifying rallies. What he should have said was, "I love the uneducated."  Clearly he doesn't get the difference between the two.  But it was not just the uneducated, poorly or otherwise who voted for Trump, it was "the" Blacks, "the" Mexicans and "the" ladies who voted this man into office.  Then let's talk about the close to 60% of Americans who don't vote and many of them the Millennal generation who are so highly educated (I mean they are the ones with billions in student debt, there's some smarts right there).  So much for Education.  Intelligence, however, is debatable.

We have a bizarre sycophantic relationship with Education, constantly quoting how much more in lifetime earned income one with a degree makes.   Of course that means the right degree,  from the right College, the right cut of one's jib or aka color, one's gender,  one's family and one's socioeconomic  background are all variables that of course enable that equation to come up with that salary figure.  

Now of course economic downturns, business consolidations or failures, changes in industry are all extrinsic factors that must be deducted from the equation. Then we have those intrinsic ones that include family or personal emergencies that can lead to more deductions from this equation now making it quite a complex polynomial in which one uses to determine one's lifetime net worth.  How they come up with that number let alone the historical context that is outdated is also not disclosed so that it could actually be tested and documented for accuracy.  It is just something that report generators cite and sometimes they find contrary facts and figures to support their thesis, such as this one.   (The best read is the conclusion and summary for those not into boring data).

But we truly believe that those with a degree are "smarter" "better" "brighter" and the reality is that stupid is as stupid does.  Funny that one of Hilary Clinton's early campaign slogans was "I'm with Her."  They should have changed that to read, "I'm with Stupid" and had two sides with the slogan and arrows pointing in alternative directions.

I have little to no respect for Trump but I understand the frustrations and anger of those whose lives did not bear the fruit of the Clinton boon.  Truly I look back on the Clinton debacle years and will likely do the same with regards to Obama as well.   They are both complex men with high end degrees and credentials and yet seem utterly disconnected from where they came and who they came from.

I live and work with stupid people.  I feel frustrated, alone, angry.  But I get it as I see it at ground zero, the schools.   The children are simply reflections in the mirror so the level of disrespect for individuals, for intellect, self management and of course aggression control are all minor versions of the adults in their lives.

And while we still hear the same script about the value of education there has been little done to actually improve it.  Clinton did nothing to repair Regan's debacle with education funding and Obama just re-branded the Bush No Child bullshit with Race for the Top.  Kids are not behind nor need to race to anything, they need consistency and compassion.      I see little of either in public schools but I see a lot of junked curriculum,  frustrated Teachers, Parents and even more so confused and frustrated children.    With junk you get junk and this is our education system - a junk yard.

So we underestimate the stupid and do so at your peril.  They are the majority and they are not silent.

The War on Stupid People

American society increasingly mistakes intelligence for human worth.
Edmon de Haro
The Atlantic

As recently as the 1950s, possessing only middling intelligence was not likely to severely limit your life’s trajectory. IQ wasn’t a big factor in whom you married, where you lived, or what others thought of you. The qualifications for a good job, whether on an assembly line or behind a desk, mostly revolved around integrity, work ethic, and a knack for getting along—bosses didn’t routinely expect college degrees, much less ask to see SAT scores. As one account of the era put it, hiring decisions were “based on a candidate having a critical skill or two and on soft factors such as eagerness, appearance, family background, and physical characteristics.”

The 2010s, in contrast, are a terrible time to not be brainy. Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.

It’s popular entertainment, too. The so-called Darwin Awards celebrate incidents in which poor judgment and comprehension, among other supposedly genetic mental limitations, have led to gruesome and more or less self-inflicted fatalities. An evening of otherwise hate-speech-free TV-watching typically features at least one of a long list of humorous slurs on the unintelligent (“not the sharpest tool in the shed”; “a few fries short of a Happy Meal”; “dumber than a bag of hammers”; and so forth). Reddit regularly has threads on favorite ways to insult the stupid, and fun-stuff-to-do.com dedicates a page to the topic amid its party-decor ideas and drink recipes.

This gleeful derision seems especially cruel in view of the more serious abuse that modern life has heaped upon the less intellectually gifted. Few will be surprised to hear that, according to the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a long-running federal study, IQ correlates with chances of landing a financially rewarding job. Other analyses suggest that each IQ point is worth hundreds of dollars in annual income—surely a painful formula for the 80 million Americans with an IQ of 90 or below. When the less smart are identified by lack of educational achievement (which in contemporary America is closely correlated with lower IQ), the contrast only sharpens. From 1979 to 2012, the median-income gap between a family headed by two earners with college degrees and two earners with high-school degrees grew by $30,000, in constant dollars. Studies have furthermore found that, compared with the intelligent, less intelligent people are more likely to suffer from some types of mental illness, become obese, develop heart disease, experience permanent brain damage from a traumatic injury, and end up in prison, where they are more likely than other inmates to be drawn to violence. They’re also likely to die sooner.

When the term meritocracy appeared in 1958, it was in a dystopian satire.

Rather than looking for ways to give the less intelligent a break, the successful and influential seem more determined than ever to freeze them out. The employment Web site Monster captures current hiring wisdom in its advice to managers, suggesting they look for candidates who, of course, “work hard” and are “ambitious” and “nice”—but who, first and foremost, are “smart.” To make sure they end up with such people, more and more companies are testing applicants on a range of skills, judgment, and knowledge. CEB, one of the world’s largest providers of hiring assessments, evaluates more than 40 million job applicants each year. The number of new hires who report having been tested nearly doubled from 2008 to 2013, says CEB. To be sure, many of these tests scrutinize personality and skills, rather than intelligence. But intelligence and cognitive-skills tests are popular and growing more so. In addition, many employers now ask applicants for SAT scores (whose correlation with IQ is well established); some companies screen out those whose scores don’t fall in the top 5 percent. Even the NFL gives potential draftees a test, the Wonderlic.

Yes, some careers do require smarts. But even as high intelligence is increasingly treated as a job prerequisite, evidence suggests that it is not the unalloyed advantage it’s assumed to be. The late Harvard Business School professor Chris Argyris argued that smart people can make the worst employees, in part because they’re not used to dealing with failure or criticism. Multiple studies have concluded that interpersonal skills, self-awareness, and other “emotional” qualities can be better predictors of strong job performance than conventional intelligence, and the College Board itself points out that it has never claimed SAT scores are helpful hiring filters. (As for the NFL, some of its most successful quarterbacks have been strikingly low scorers on the Wonderlic, including Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly.) Moreover, many jobs that have come to require college degrees, ranging from retail manager to administrative assistant, haven’t generally gotten harder for the less educated to perform.

At the same time, those positions that can still be acquired without a college degree are disappearing. The list of manufacturing and low-level service jobs that have been taken over, or nearly so, by robots, online services, apps, kiosks, and other forms of automation grows longer daily. Among the many types of workers for whom the bell may soon toll: anyone who drives people or things around for a living, thanks to the driverless cars in the works at (for example) Google and the delivery drones undergoing testing at (for example) Amazon, as well as driverless trucks now being tested on the roads; and most people who work in restaurants, thanks to increasingly affordable and people-friendly robots made by companies like Momentum Machines, and to a growing number of apps that let you arrange for a table, place an order, and pay—all without help from a human being. These two examples together comprise jobs held by an estimated 15 million Americans.

Meanwhile, our fetishization of IQ now extends far beyond the workplace. Intelligence and academic achievement have steadily been moving up on rankings of traits desired in a mate; researchers at the University of Iowa report that intelligence now rates above domestic skills, financial success, looks, sociability, and health.

The most popular comedy on television is The Big Bang Theory, which follows a small gang of young scientists. Scorpion, which features a team of geniuses-turned-antiterrorists, is one of CBS’s top-rated shows. The genius detective Sherlock Holmes has two TV series and a blockbuster movie franchise featuring one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. “Every society through history has picked some trait that magnifies success for some,” says Robert Sternberg, a professor of human development at Cornell University and an expert on assessing students’ traits. “We’ve picked academic skills.”

What do we mean by intelligence? We devote copious energy to cataloging the wonderfully different forms it might take—interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, and so forth—ultimately leaving virtually no one “unintelligent.” But many of these forms won’t raise SAT scores or grades, and so probably won’t result in a good job. Instead of bending over backwards to find ways of discussing intelligence that won’t leave anyone out, it might make more sense to acknowledge that most people don’t possess enough of the version that’s required to thrive in today’s world.

A few numbers help clarify the nature and scope of the problem. The College Board has suggested a “college readiness benchmark” that works out to roughly 500 on each portion of the SAT as a score below which students are not likely to achieve at least a B-minus average at “a four-year college”—presumably an average one. (By comparison, at Ohio State University, a considerably better-than-average school ranked 52nd among U.S. universities by U.S. News & World Report, freshmen entering in 2014 averaged 605 on the reading section of the SAT and 668 on the math section.)

How many high-school students are capable of meeting the College Board benchmark? This is not easy to answer, because in most states, large numbers of students never take a college-entrance exam (in California, for example, at most 43 percent of high-school students sit for the SAT or the ACT). To get a general sense, though, we can look to Delaware, Idaho, Maine, and the District of Columbia, which provide the SAT for free and have SAT participation rates above 90 percent, according to The Washington Post. In these states in 2015, the percentage of students averaging at least 500 on the reading section ranged from 33 percent (in D.C.) to 40 percent (in Maine), with similar distributions scoring 500 or more on the math and writing sections. Considering that these data don’t include dropouts, it seems safe to say that no more than one in three American high-school students is capable of hitting the College Board’s benchmark. Quibble with the details all you want, but there’s no escaping the conclusion that most Americans aren’t smart enough to do something we are told is an essential step toward succeeding in our new, brain-centric economy—namely, get through four years of college with moderately good grades.

Many people who have benefited from the current system like to tell themselves that they’re working hard to help the unintelligent become intelligent. This is a marvelous goal, and decades of research have shown that it’s achievable through two approaches: dramatically reducing poverty, and getting young children who are at risk of poor academic performance into intensive early-education programs. The strength of the link between poverty and struggling in school is as close to ironclad as social science gets. Still, there’s little point in discussing alleviating poverty as a solution, because our government and society are not seriously considering any initiatives capable of making a significant dent in the numbers or conditions of the poor.

That leaves us with early education, which, when done right—and for poor children, it rarely is—seems to largely overcome whatever cognitive and emotional deficits poverty and other environmental circumstances impart in the first years of life. As instantiated most famously by the Perry Preschool Project in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in the 1960s; more recently by the Educare program in Chicago; and by dozens of experimental programs in between, early education done right means beginning at the age of 3 or earlier, with teachers who are well trained in the particular demands of early education. These high-quality programs have been closely studied, some for decades. And while the results haven’t proved that students get a lasting IQ boost in the absence of enriched education in the years after preschool, measures of virtually every desirable outcome typically correlated with high IQ remain elevated for years and even decades—including better school grades, higher achievement-test scores, higher income, crime avoidance, and better health. Unfortunately, Head Start and other public early-education programs rarely come close to this level of quality, and are nowhere near universal.

In lieu of excellent early education, we have embraced a more familiar strategy for closing the intelligence gap. Namely, we invest our tax money and faith in reforming primary and secondary schools, which receive some $607 billion in federal, state, and local revenues each year. But these efforts are too little, too late: If the cognitive and emotional deficits associated with poor school performance aren’t addressed in the earliest years of life, future efforts aren’t likely to succeed.

Confronted with evidence that our approach is failing—high-school seniors reading at the fifth-grade level, abysmal international rankings—we comfort ourselves with the idea that we’re taking steps to locate those underprivileged kids who are, against the odds, extremely intelligent. Finding this tiny minority of gifted poor children and providing them with exceptional educational opportunities allows us to conjure the evening-news-friendly fiction of an equal-opportunity system, as if the problematically ungifted majority were not as deserving of attention as the “overlooked gems.” Press coverage decries the gap in Advanced Placement courses at poor schools, as if their real problem was a dearth of college-level physics or Mandarin.

Even if we refuse to prevent poverty or provide superb early education, we might consider one other means of addressing the average person’s plight. Some of the money pouring into educational reform might be diverted to creating more top-notch vocational-education programs (today called career and technical education, or CTE). Right now only one in 20 U.S. public high schools is a full-time CTE school. And these schools are increasingly oversubscribed. Consider Chicago’s Prosser Career Academy, which has an acclaimed CTE program. Although 2,000 students apply to the school annually, the CTE program has room for fewer than 350. The applicant pool is winnowed down through a lottery, but academic test scores play a role, too. Worse, many CTE schools are increasingly emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, at risk of undercutting their ability to aid students who struggle academically—rather than those who want to burnish their already excellent college and career prospects. It would be far better to maintain a focus on food management, office administration, health technology, and, sure, the classic trades—all updated to incorporate computerized tools.

We must stop glorifying intelligence and treating our society as a playground for the smart minority. We should instead begin shaping our economy, our schools, even our culture with an eye to the abilities and needs of the majority, and to the full range of human capacity. The government could, for example, provide incentives to companies that resist automation, thereby preserving jobs for the less brainy. It could also discourage hiring practices that arbitrarily and counterproductively weed out the less-well-IQ’ed. This might even redound to employers’ benefit: Whatever advantages high intelligence confers on employees, it doesn’t necessarily make for more effective, better employees. Among other things, the less brainy are, according to studies and some business experts, less likely to be oblivious of their own biases and flaws, to mistakenly assume that recent trends will continue into the future, to be anxiety-ridden, and to be arrogant.

When Michael Young, a British sociologist, coined the term meritocracy in 1958, it was in a dystopian satire. At the time, the world he imagined, in which intelligence fully determined who thrived and who languished, was understood to be predatory, pathological, far-fetched. Today, however, we’ve almost finished installing such a system, and we have embraced the idea of a meritocracy with few reservations, even treating it as virtuous. That can’t be right. Smart people should feel entitled to make the most of their gift. But they should not be permitted to reshape society so as to instate giftedness as a universal yardstick of human worth.