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stupid people

So I clicked on the name of my town in someone's profile and it went into a search of users in my area, and I found that this idiot who used to plague me had posted tonight. (Up late... blah blah.) I've been very, very good about not reading her so I figured, screw it, she can't possibly be posting about me. Clicked on her and y'know, I can't tell if she is. She's gone completely friends-only except for a few kitty pics because, as she put it, "I value my privacy."

Yeah, that's peachy. She didn't value my space but oh, nobody can infringe on hers.

It's not a bitter thing about not being able to read her so much as amazement at the utter gall of that woman. How many communities has she bitched about me in, now? Two of which were started to bitch about me? Talk about privacy. OK, in the past I've posted about anything and everything in my life, including random things going on in my head and I've shared some really difficult emotional shit with the world, so in that sense I have not had privacy and it was OK as long as nobody messed with me. Just because I might metaphorically wander out into public naked, after all, gives nobody the right to touch me. She's continually put on airs about being this great mature person who's had a somewhat hard life but learned from her mistakes, but when it comes to me her inner brat comes out to play and she's just as big an idiot as I've ever been.

And now... "I value my privacy." Wah. Try respecting other people's space too.

For some reason her boyfriend's changed his LJ name again. Who knows why. That's another nut. I was the butt of their jokes because I changed mine or abandoned one journal and went to another for several years running, but this is the second name change in two years I've seen from him, and he used to follow me around. The first time I saw him online, in fact, he'd friended me without introduction in a journal I had specifically set up to get away from those bozos (not just him and her, but some of their friends). I'd met him once in person before that and I'd had no grievance with him. Since I noticed him bitching about me in their little communities, that has obviously changed.

I can think of one reason he'd have done it, because the name he had before indicated a location in which he no longer lives. Oh, OK then. Brain not operating at full capacity tonight. I get it now.

Anyway. I used to reserve my bitching for their behavior for the most part but now, I'm just inclined to say they're fucking lunatics and assholes besides and leave it at that. Far from coming out of bitterness I'd say it's a marker of my improving mental health. No, I'm not being unfair calling a spade a spade and I'm not going to turn myself into a doormat anymore trying to hold on to the higher ground when they don't think I have it to begin with. Not that what they think matters, and I fully expect all of them to come to the end of their lives never having meant very much to anybody in particular nor having done much of anything to make the world better than it was when they came into it. Irrelevance is hardly a punishment in a world of six billion people and counting, but seeing them resigned to it makes me feel better.

Interestingly, she's unfriended GirlDaddy and Whiny, finally. Got tired of their part of the trainwreck, I suppose. I hate to say I have anything in common with that walking pile of garbage, but in this case I suppose I do.

I wonder if either of 'em's still reading me to any degree. Well, that's why I have one of the items in my profile, so I can tell when someone links to me. If they start in with the bullshit again, I'll know and it won't take me accidentally running across it six months from now. I don't know if it'd be enough to make a case with LJ Abuse, but I'd sure try.

Mr. Gatto, your slip is showing

Anyone who gets to know me in the blogosphere for long enough will figure out that I'm one of those weird liberals who--gasp!--isn't crazy about public schools. I do think it important for the government to fund educational resources, I just don't like schooling or the cultural-social structure of schools. I base this feeling not only on what I have read from homeschooling and unschooling advocates and activists but also on remembering my own public school experience. I was one of those "gifted" kids who got frustrated and stifled by the system (in part; I stifled myself too), so I can attest these people know what they're talking about.

With that in mind I have enjoyed John Taylor Gatto's works to a great degree. He was once a New York City schoolteacher until he got a Teacher of the Year award in the nineties, and his acceptance speech was a rant about everything that is wrong with compulsory schooling. Since then he has retired from teaching and has written several books on the origins of American public schooling, its influences and what children are really learning from the schooling process. He has also, unfortunately, interspersed these fascinating bits of information with diatribes about how evil and unAmerican Pagans are (not modern-day Neopagans, but still) and how Christianity and particularly the Catholic faith are more conducive to cultivating American values. So he's a real mixed bag for me. (I like John Holt much better, frankly--he was obviously a progressive.)

The mixing continues when I read something like this:

We do not ask for an end to government schools, only that they be forced to compete.

All right. As far as I know, the vast majority of private schools work under the same mechanism as does public school: top-down authoritarian hierarchy, teaching information to students rather than guiding them in their own learning, using a system of class hours and bells to wrench students away from one subject to the next, and peer orientation that leads to bullying and other dysfunction. Gatto has said he has a problem with schooling. If that's the case then it should not matter where the school's funding comes from.

This is not the only major inconsistency I've seen from him; another bit was about how standardized tests are bunkum, and yet he stated elsewhere that educating children in a different way would mean higher test scores. If standardized tests are bunkum (and I agree with him, they pretty much are), what the hell point is there in doing something that results in higher scores? Why not trash testing entirely, or at least radically change its structure?

I doubt he's being inconsistent on purpose. Gatto comes across to me more as a bombastic ideologue who shoots off at the mouth before he really thinks things through. It's very possible that eventually he will catch his own errors and rectify them. I would hope.

He's definitely way off base about The Market reforming schooling, though. The Market already has its hand in matters. The entire system of public school is being co-opted by corporate interests because they want a ready-made and compliant workforce. They also want to find ways to advertise their products and services to impressionable children, building brand awareness from an early age. If American schooling were completely opened up to "market competition," we'd see an even further dumbing-down of what valid curriculum there is left, in favor of completing our evolution into mindless consumerist drones.

Better to slay the beast entirely rather than sell it to a new owner.

It's not been a real gas

Early last year I had had enough of various and sundry drama-tic items I'd had to tolerate from GirlDaddy and my father had recently offered to take me in if I decided to move back home. So I took him up on his offer and moved to points south with GirlRaven in tow. We stayed down there until I figured out I couldn't get her to a pediatric urologist within a hundred miles of us; there were two in the entire state and I think the listing that told me this was outdated, because Mom told me the one in New Orleans had moved to Virginia. I had no car and nobody who could really drive me that far (to NOLA or to the other location in Shreveport). Meanwhile, back in Ohio I could hop on the bus and have us to her original doctor in about twenty minutes. No contest. We moved back north.

While we were gone GirlDaddy had tried to sublet our old apartment because we couldn't get out of the lease. In the midst of all of this, I had fallen behind on the gas bill. I don't remember whether I thought I was paying it off or whether I knew I was not paying it off in full, but shortly after I paid a large chunk of the gas bill, at any rate, all of a sudden the account had reverted to the landlords. At the time this was not a big deal.

Later, though, after I moved back, I should have gotten the gas signed back over to me. And I meant to do this, but either I wasn't in front of the computer when I thought about looking up the gas company's contact information, or I wasn't thinking about looking up the contact info when I was in front of the computer. And I went on like this... for an entire year.

Don't ask me. I can't figure me out sometimes either.

We did somewhat keep up with the payments, though; the landlords would occasionally send us copies of the bills they'd paid and we'd reimburse them. So that's not so bad. We still owe them money now, in fact, but we'll catch it up this year. No biggie.

I was the biggest flake in this matter; the current mess is entirely of my making in the sense that I could have prevented it by getting my account signed over last friggin' year.

On the other hand, I'm mystified that the landlords let things go on as long as they did. I mean, it's in the lease agreement that I'm supposed to pay the friggin' gas bill. All utilities except water, garbage and sewer (which in this town, I think, are all one bill?). They would have been fully within their rights to shut off their obligation to the gas company for my apartment--and it would have been a lot more humane, not to mention a lot more sensible, to do this during the summer months last year. We got back here in May, after all.

I also don't get why they took over the gas bill in the first place if we were supposed to be subletting the apartment. They didn't even tell me (or GirlDaddy, to my knowledge) that they intended to do this. Better to have left it alone until we found a subletter. It wasn't like they took over the electric bill, after all.

So... I could have prevented this by not being a flake, but I wasn't the only flake. But, considering I live in a building that's had graffiti on it for over a year now, in which at least one apartment's kitchen floor has been tiled over twice (mine!), in which at least one apartment's bathroom tile and vinyl floor are not grouted and/or sealed properly... need I go on? It's no surprise they're flakes.

To an extent that's beneficial to me because it could be worse. I could have anal-retentive landlords who inspect my apartment every month and treat me like a recalcitrant child if one single speck of dust is out of place. (There are such landlords. My mother has to tolerate one in her apartment community.) But, frankly, I'd rather have landlords who fell somewhere between in that nice Happy Medium zone.

Frankly, I think I could do a better job landlording with my nipples, except for that pesky dealing-with-psycho-tenants part. And that's pretty sad, because I am a flake.


Financially, I zigged where I should have zagged again and the gas is turned off. Long story I'll get into later; I don't have the patience now, mostly owing to a full bladder. Suffice it to say there was more than enough stupidity to go around between my landlords (who, one, had no real reason to get my gas signed back over to them and, two, should have taken their names back off of it last summer when, OMG, the weather was still warm), myself (who shoulders most of the blame), and GirlDaddy whom I told, back when this became a real issue, what I needed to do to get it turned back on and he never bothered to put two and two together and go, "dur, the weather's too nasty for them to walk to Kroger to pay the bill, guess I should get my ass off of work and give them a ride over there!" One bit of stupidity after another. Thank Goddess for microwave ovens and space heaters.

So I've been quite irritable today and fretting about finances again and snapping at GirlRaven, who always seems to notice when I'm out of sorts and reflects it right back at me, magnifying the situation to a point it didn't need to reach. Sigh.

On the plus side I did get to talk with BoyRaven today. He talked on the phone with me for so long, in fact, that he shocked his grandmother. He's not a phone person. So I got a little ego boost because I'm the first one with whom he's spent that long on the phone. Go me.
Published on Thursday, March 1, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
Who's Afraid of the Employee Free Choice Act?
by John Logan

The Employee Free Choice Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation being considered by the new Congress, yet many people have probably never heard of it. If they have, they have most likely heard the version that corporate America and right-wing want them to hear: that the bill would deny employees the right to vote in workplace elections and leave them exposed to coercion by unscrupulous union organizers. It's a good line, but nothing could be further from the truth. The entire purpose of the Employee Free Choice Act is to defend employee choice and protect them from the employer intimidation and harassment that is currently endemic in the American workplace when employees attempt to form a union.

So who's behind the well-financed and well-organized campaign of misinformation against the Employee Free Choice Act? One of the groups leading the offensive is the comically misnamed Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. The Coalition has announced its intention to 'fight this legislation every step of the way to make sure that it never rears its head again.' Although it claims to represent ordinary employees, the Coalition is, in fact, made up entirely of powerful corporate groups and trade associations who oppose giving employees the right to choose a union free from employer interference Another group that has run television commercials and newspaper ads attacking the Employee Free Choice Act is the Center for Union Facts, run by the notorious lobbyist, Richard Berman, whose previous campaigns include ones in favor of relaxing drunk driving laws and discounting public health concerns about obesity. Berman's in good company. Other Employee Free Choice Act opponents include the National Right to Work Committee, another well-funded anti-union group that claims to represent ordinary employees but is, in reality, bankrolled by powerful corporations and conservative foundations.

Also mobilizing vigorously against the Employee Free Choice Act is the sizable and sophisticated industry of 'union avoidance' law firms and consultants. These firms have made millions of dollars by encouraging employers to conduct aggressive (and often illegal) campaigns against efforts by their employees to organize. Among developed nations, the United States is alone in having a powerful industry dedicated to undermining employees' right to form a union. If the Employee Free Choice Act were to become law, these firms stand to lose enormous sums because they would no longer be able to conduct their no-holds-barred campaigns based on fear and coercion.

One of the largest union avoidance law firms in the nation, Jackson Lewis ' which tells employers to treat attempts by employees to form a union as 'war' ' has described the campaign against EFCA as 'the battle beginning.' Another law firm specializing in anti-union campaigns, Ogletree Deakins, believes that it is 'imperative that the business community act now' to defeat this 'extreme' legislation.

And the list goes on. Many more groups oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, all of them the representatives of powerful and well-financed corporate interests and right-wing organizations, none of them the representatives of ordinary employees. Several of these groups have stated that defeating the bill is a top priority and have announced their intention to punish any member of Congress who dares to vote against them. Predictably, the Bush Administration is committed to defeating the Employee Free Choice Act. Vice President Cheney recently assured a group of corporate leaders that the President will veto the legislation if Congress were to pass it.

According to the NLRB annual report, over 31,000 employees were fired or discriminated against in 2005 simply for supporting a union. The powerful groups that oppose the Employee Free Choice Act never mention this appalling state of affairs. The Employee Free Choice Act would impose greater penalties on employers who fire workers for choosing a union. The bill also ensures that employees who form a union would at least gain a first contract. Union avoidance law firms advise employers to keeping fighting after employees form a union, telling them, 'You haven't lost until you sign a contract.' As a result, over one third of new unions are unable to win a first contract. The Employee Free Choice Act would change that sorry situation.

Finally, the most inconvenient fact for opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act: studies demonstrate that there are now 60 million Americans who would like to join a union but who are unable to do so under the current system of sham workplace elections that allows employer intimidation to flourish. The Employee Free Choice Act would protect the rights of those 60 million Americans against the powerful organizations that are mobilizing against it. And that's why passing the Employee Free Choice Act is the number one priority for those who believe that workers deserve the right to form a union free from coercion and harassment.

John Logan is a lecturer with the London School of Economics.

To-do notes

Stuff I want to do soonish:

-Get my home organized. It's a mess. Again.

-Feng shui my home. I think what I might do is start out following Black Hat Sect, which is basically Western feng shui at this point, because it doesn't require compass readings. Later on I want to delve more deeply with the Flying Star school. It appeals to my inner geek.

I'm only going to be able to get so far with this with my lack of funds. I'm just going to have to fly by the seat of my pants. I've also been wondering how effective it might be to use Western symbols to represent some of the concepts symbolized by traditional feng shui "cure" objects. Like, Chinese coins tied up in the shape of a sword? Does nothing for me. Three-legged frogs? Ditto.

-Get real clothes. Like, interview-type clothes. I really need some, and shoes too. Even if I don't get a job anytime soon, knowing I could if I had to would do wonders for the amount of worrying I've been doing.

-Start some kind of financial program. I'm thinking some weird hybrid of Your Money Or Your Life and The Total Money Makeover, because the former is a broader framework for getting along better with money, and the latter has an excellent system for paying off bills and setting up an emergency fund. Related to that...

-Save up at least $500 as soon as possible, and preferably $1000 if I can swing it, for an emergency fund.

-Dump my cell phone and switch to a prepaid. I can't afford the damn thing for the amount of phone calls I get. If I could switch to 300 minutes a month I might keep it, but my choices are 200, 400, and 500, and the jump from 200 to 400 is rather large in terms of monthly fees. I don't get enough phone calls to justify having to pay a large bill every month, and I don't want to do business with AT&T, so I'm not getting a landline. It'll make things interesting trying to keep up with friends and family but I hardly call any of them as it is, and if I put ten or twenty bucks a month on the phone, in no time I'll have the minutes to do a nice sustained conversation. Barring that, I could *gasp* write them letters. Lots cheaper.

-Drop down to a lower kbps level on my broadband, which would save me at least five bucks a month.

-Dump Avon, because that's not going to get anywhere soon enough to do me any good, and putting together an emergency fund should be a higher priority.

Wow. Lots of stuff there...


GirlDaddy informs me that the first nationally known Republican to bitch out Coulter for calling John Edwards a faggot was none other than John McCain. Upon further investigation, the local college rag has reported on it too. GD also says McCain was the only one of the front contenders who wasn't present when she gave her speech. Ain't that something. The man still has a spine. Of course, Coulter probably doesn't have anything on him. We've been wondering for a while what Shrub has on him that he's been kissing Dubya's ass so hard.

Now I wonder if that's really it. Perhaps, instead, McCain is trying to get into Karl Rove's good graces so he has half a chance in hell of gaining the nomination. If that's what it is, that's one scary-as-hell testimony to how deeply Rove has sunk his fingers into the GOP machinery. I mean, who the fuck IS this guy, anyway? He's probably never going to run for office. What's the point?

I'm still not happy with the way McCain's behaved in regards to Dubya. I probably would still not vote for him, given that. But it's heartening to see that someone in the GOP isn't goose-stepping along with all the freaks.

Water go down the hooole...

The joke going around accompanying this is not true, but the video is real. And you know what'd happen if they closed the bathroom door. Pitiful Kitty Yowl. Heh heh heh. Better them than me.

Oh dear Lord... literally...

Anybody out there watching this Discovery Channel "The Tomb of Jesus" crap? I'm half-convinced it's a fictional TV show they put together to poke the fundies.

(For the record, I don't think Jesus-as-portrayed-in-the-Bible actually existed. For a while there I even wondered if the "Pisonian Conspiracy" guys were onto something. I dunno, maybe I still halfway do, but anyway, the Bible's a fantastic mythological work. And to me that's all it is.)

edit: OH DEAR LORD. They were having a fucking wet dream over the one person in the tomb who wasn't genetically related to the Yeshua guy--Mariamne, who they think was Mary Magdalene. I wasn't really paying attention to the details of the DNA testing. Turns out they were checking the mitochondrial DNA. WELL NO FUCKING SHIT. Of COURSE it wouldn't match. *headdesk*headdesk*headdesk* SOMEBODY KILL T3H ST00PID PLZTHX.

editedit: And smack me with a cluebat while you're at it because I originally wrote "Jesus" up there instead of "the Yeshua guy." ARGH.

You learn the damnedest things on IMDB

Did you know Robert Englund auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker back in the seventies?