A Solemn Thought for Saturday

This is from an Austrailian blogger whom I follow. The Wilde quote applies across many times and places, including now in the US with rising poverty and income inequality while rich individuals and corporations don’t pay their fair share in taxes and receive subsidies and other tax breaks. Meanwhile, cuts are made to needed assistance for housing, food, education, and other services for the low- and middle-income folks.

Unload and Unwind

hypocricayThank you to Asylum Seeker Resource Center here in Australia for this quote.

I find it apt considering the circumstances surrounding the current budget and even more so considering the resources you provide that should be provided by our government.  So thank you for this quote and thank you for the work that you do.

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A Wiccan Wedding

Today, I accompanied my daughter to the wedding of one of her middle/high school friends. The weather was beautiful. The setting, in a stone and wood pavillion overlooking part of a state park in the Finger Lakes, was lovely. The bride and groom were glowing, just as you would expect with a young bride and groom.

What was different was the ceremony, which was Wiccan. Having never been to a Wiccan ceremony, I was curious about how it would unfold. Wicca is a nature-based religion, so the ceremony included elements of nature. There was a lot of focus on the symbolism and blessing of the rings. The rings were blessed with earth, fire, water, and air, each of which also represented one of the four directions. The vows focused on mutual love and care, as the rings were exchanged. The final element of the ceremony was a literal tying of the knot, as woven cords representing the two families of origin were draped around the hands of the couple and tied to symbolize their union.

During the couple’s first dance, a mother sparrow flew into the pavillion with food in her beak. She alighted only a few feet away from where they were dancing, remaining there for about thirty seconds, before flying up to the rafters and over to her hungry chicks in a nest hidden in the base of a lighting fixture. Another blessing from nature.

Not again…

Here we are again. The top news story is about yet another mass shooting in the United States, this time in Isla Vista, California. Sadly, it seems appropriate to re-post this entry from April 3, 2014, which couples the country’s problem with mass shootings by deranged persons with the aftermath of a local mass shooting.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Last night, when the news broke about the shooting at Fort Hood, the first thought many people had was “not again.” Not again at Fort  Hood, and not again in general.

The timing was especially poignant for those of us in the Binghamton NY area, because today marks the fifth anniversary of the American Civic Association shootings, in which fourteen people died, including the mentally ill gunman, and four were wounded.

Despite the tragic loss of life, the ACA shooting is usually not present in the list of mass shootings that gets recited in the media when the next horrible shooting comes along. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Aurora. Newtown. Fort Hood.

I am not saying that we should not be remembering these other mass shootings. We should, and we should be doing more to avert similar deaths and injuries in the future.

What I do find disturbing is that so many have forgotten about the ACA tragedy. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why.

I am afraid that the primary reason is that the gunman and most of the dead were immigrants. Most of them were gathered in one of the American Civic Association’s classrooms, taking a class to improve their English skills, when they were shot. They were from Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Iraq, Haiti, Brazil, The Philippines. Two were in Binghamton as visiting scholars. Others had been resettled in the area as refugees. The ACA is well-known in the area as a gathering place for immigrants to study English or prepare for citizenship tests. Several of those who were shot were employees or volunteers who had embraced this important mission. Somehow, though nearly all of us in the United States are descended from immigrants or are immigrants ourselves, the story of the ACA shootings did not embed itself into our minds as have some of the other tragedies that took place in schools or other public settings. I’m sorry to say that I think people see themselves or their grand/children as being just like those gathered in an elementary school or at a movie theater, but that they don’t see themselves as people from a different country, with a different skin color, speaking with an accent, working toward citizenship.

Five years on, I don’t want these people to have been forgotten. I want them to be remembered – and to be remembered as neighbors, as members of our community, as people like us.

 

Decalogue For a Reader

I appreciated this post. I was particularly amused by number eight.
JC

Attenti al Lupo

  1. You have the right to read                               oldbooks
  2. You have the right to read whatever you want
  3. You have the right to stop reading a bad book
  4. You have the right to stop reading a good book
  5. You have the right not to like a famous book
  6. You have the right not to like any book
  7. You have the right to reread the same book
  8. You have the right to be bored by Moby-Dick
  9. You have the right to not understand a book
  10. You have the right to read sitting on the toilet

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school district election day

Today, across New York State, voters are heading to the polls for school district elections. For some reason I have never been able to ascertain, school budgets are the only ones that are voted on directly in New York. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that school budgets fail as a general statement against taxes, forcing second votes on revised budgets or austerity budgets that cut all extracurriculars and all-but-bare-bones transportation.

This year, there has been an unusual amount of advertising to pass the school budget. I think it is to convince people not to use the budget vote as an opportunity to take out their frustration with the contentious rollout of common core standards in the state. For the record, I no longer have school-aged children in my household, so I haven’t experienced common core directly in my family. I do support the concept of common core, to cover fewer topics in a school year, but in greater depth, in contrast to the current trend toward a mile wide but an inch deep approach. New York State’s curriculum has long been infected with survey-itis. For example, in the social studies curriculum, a survey of US history is taught in fifth grade, again as a two-year sequence in seventh and eighth grades, and then again as a one year Regents course in high school, locally usually taken in 11th grade. Because so much time is devoted to rushing through large amounts of material, there isn’t time to engage in in-depth analysis of any time period or theme. When I was in high school in Massachusetts several decades ago, we had options for semester-long US history courses in Civil War and Reconstruction, Minorities in America, Presidential Greatness, or several other options. Already expected to have an overview of our country’s history, we were able to develop deeper understanding of the hows and whys of history, which also helped to inform our lives as active citizens.

The upset over the implementation of common core seems to mirror two statewide changes that happened during my children’s school careers, the ending of local high school diplomas in favor of more rigorous Regents diplomas for all graduates and reform of state-wide tests in fourth and eighth grades and high school Regent exams. It also mirrors the transition to a new high school honors program on the local level. The root of the problems with all these changes was not that the final goals, but the transition itself, in which students are tested in the new framework without the benefit of the years of preparatory study that is in place when the transition is complete, resulting in lower test scores as these students catch up to the new standards. It seems that the same mechanism is happening with the transition to common core.

The other oddity of this election locally is that we have eight candidates running for four board of education seats. Given that candidates often run unopposed or with only one more candidate than seats available, this year is a hot contest. Even more unusual, there is a group of four being presented almost as a slate, advertised together in mailings, on yard signs, and in hand-delivered fliers, and endorsed by the local teachers’ union.

Voting is from 12-9 PM today at the local elementary schools. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

UPDATE:  The budget passed by a wide margin. All four of the candidates endorsed by the teachers’ union were elected; the two incumbents who were running for re-election got only 50-60% of the voting totals of the successful candidates.

WordPress Meet and Greet #3 – All Bloggers Welcome

OM is hosting another opportunity for bloggers, authors, photographers, etc. to post their links and a blurb to go with it in the comments of this thread. Check it out! You may find some new blogs to follow and get some new reads or follows for your own work.

HarsH ReaLiTy

Well this is the third post I have done like this so far and I have seen some great connections. I’ll keep doing these off and on and I think they provide a great way for “active bloggers” to network.

All bloggers are welcome to use this post as a “Self-Promotion” thread for their blog, projects, causes, writing, books, eBooks, food, fashion, or whatever you are into. You may post links, book covers, or whatever you like and feel free to revisit and leave a new comment as this thread will quickly fill up. I’ll leave this post as a sticky through May.

Hopefully some authors, photographers, painters, writers, and bloggers will take the opportunity to push their work. Please keep promotional comments on the posts dedicated for that purpose.

Feel free and re-blog or share this post. Thanks!

-OM

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