Friday, May 29, 2009

Motley Penguins rock the house

Thanks to Heather, here's some video of the first-ever performance of the fabulous Motley Penguins:

Motley Penguins video

I don't like the Motley Penguins... I LOVE 'em!

A googolplex of thanks to Heather for sharing this.


Heather has posted several videos from LiG. Here's the followup action from the talent show. Two minutes worth of the incomparable Greybeards. Hey! That's about all you can stand of those characters!

The Greybeards video with their calliphygian backup group: The Hot Backup Chicks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Return of the King

No! Not that one!

Sadly, not that one. He is still missed.

And certainly not that one. Ick!

We're talking about this one!

Rex, olim futurusque!

It was foretold long ago in The Book of Oblivion that the great king, Cap'n Franko, would return one day when his people needed him most. At the end of the Hippie Age when the last battle had been fought and (Phyrrically) won, the great king put aside the trappings of war and rulership and disappeared into (The Book of) Oblivion, leaving his beloved subjects to find their own way in the world.

Time passed and the people forgot. They slipped into the dread terrors of the Disco Age, the putrescent Big Eighties, the diaspora of the Lost Nineties, and there seemed to be no hope. The music world of the Third Millennium had become a howling wasteland of demons from the lowest pits of Music Hell: Britney Spears, the Jonas Brothers, *country* rock! O ye transcendent gods!

Rock Ragnarok was surely upon us.

Some anticipated the return of the great king. Some said he was merely mortal and had died long ago and could never return; it was just silly superstition. Meanwhile, quietly, outside the ken of men, the forces of darkness conspired, and wrought foul magicks in dismal sites too outre to describe, to prevent that very event. But their evil was not puissant enough to stop a power so elemental.

At the moment of no hope, he came. From the mists of time, from the lost world of rockin' rhythm 'n' blues, he returned to ours in our hour of need, drawn by the energy of the gathering of powers at the LIFEisGood celebration of existence.

Much time had passed and the great king had changed and aged. He had long ago put aside his warrior guise and accoutrements. (Dontcha love the hat?) This was not the old king (rex olim) of arma virumque. This was a different being, rex futurusque. He returned to us in glory and power, carrying the formidable Green Sceptre of Shaken Beads, given to his queen, the inestimable KreweQueen Ronnie, by her ancestress, the QueenMother, Mary of Priest Point Beach Club, an entity feared even unto the gates of Hell itself, and loaned to Cap'n Franko by his beloved KreweQueen for this parlous quest. He also wore the storied Shirt of Extreme Luminescence, a wild magick of the olden times. [Both items pictured above being used against some obviously fearsome demons by the returned great king.]

The great king returned not alone to his people, for he was wise beyond his years. Well, maybe appropriately wise for his desperately advanced years. Nonetheless, he came to succor his people and engaged his hardy krewe to assist.

There was the indomitable KreweQueen herself. Regal, aloof, and yet warm and fuzzy, prepared to pound the Percussion Device of Rhythmic Sound, capable of shaking even the streets of Hell itself.

The young princesses, too, joined the quest, standing beside the king and queen, prepared to fight the good fight against the demons of crappy, mediocre pseudo-rock. Princess MJ carried into battle the mighty Acoustic-Electric Guitar of Exquisite Sound whose public name is Gretsch G3700 and whose secret name is Isolde, a name never to be revealed to the forces of mediocre music lest she lose some of her power, the name alone powerful enough to vaporize lesser demons instantly. Princess Chloe bore upon her person the incredible vitality of Cornelius, the GSR200FM, he of the double-digit hurts, errrr, I mean, Hz, Thumper of Torsos. O fabled wonder! Mirabile auditu! Even the Greater Demons quake at the sight of him and cower when they see the Princess preparing to pluck his power.

Together they became more powerful than the sum of their individualities, functioning as the Motley Penguins!

A truly wise king wants to be ensured of victory. Therefore, the great king enrolled not only the Royal Family in his quest but sundrie kindes of goodly comrades. Childe Jeff of the house of Sabo, he of the shining pate, baron of bass. Childe Russ of the house of Anguish, of the fierce mien and wicked axe delivering anguish to all, near and far. Together they formed the magnificent Senectobarbi, or as they are called in the vulgate, The Greybeards.

The KreweQueen, too, added allies, in the persons of two demigoddesses: Shonna of the Well-Used Running Shoes, goddess of power, speed, and getting up early. Rockin' Robin the Hula-licious, goddess of erotic dance and spiffy costumes. Together with the KreweQueen, their powers manifested as The Hot Backup Chicks!

A fearsome fray, lasting long into the lugubrious lunar light, led us to victory over Rock Ragnarok. The disastrous demons of mediocre music were violently vanquished in a triumphant tableau of sweaty senectobarbi... and lucious ladies.

Mission accomplished!

But fear not, loyal subjects! Your king will not desert you precipitously. There are adumbrations of good vibrations gathering in the land of zephyrs and that bodes well for the future. However, there are the possible peregrinations of the vile Santa Ana demons appearing there to sow burning depression upon the land. Therefore, I, your bountiful king (and handsome, too!), will remain on this plane of existence with my trusty krewe, both the Motley Penguins and The Greybeards. If needed, we are prepared to appear at this gathering to once again bring rockin' rhythm 'n' blues to the righteous and vanquish the maudlin monsters of mediocre music.

Ite! Missa est.

[N.B. All photos from the "new king" on down are from LIFEisGood2009, courtesy of Linda Peden. Thank you, Linda!]

Thursday, May 21, 2009


My (sporadic) blogging is taking a break for the duration of LIFEisGood. I'll do a trip report when we're back home next week.

I do hafta mention, however, that I got a compliment on my poetry. How cool is that? I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which poem received the praise.

Monday, May 18, 2009

More about Louisiana

You're from South Louisiana if...

When you were a kid your parents gave you a dog for Christmas and you named him Fideaux and you loved him and fed him and played with him for years until one day when he was about 8 ft. long (bigger than all the other dogs in the neighborhood!) your folks said he ran away. Man! Do you miss your sweet doggie. He was a little bit feisty but he was great water dog. Good memories, cher!

(Jerry's friend Mike Chalona pictured. Notice Fideaux's cute homemade leash.)

You heard about dem rich people wit dem koi ponds, spending thousands of dollars for each fish. Mais jamais de ma vie! Silly people. You jes go to the saltwater inlet at da backa your place and feed the local remora. Dey sweet yeah, dem jolis poissons. And dey don't cost nuthin', too.

(Chloe hand-feeding a remora.)

This is your commuter car. (You got some money, you! Dat's de yuppie sportscar commuter. Dat ain't no pirogue, no!)

And dis, cher, is your yacht club. Well, de expensive sidea de club. All dem Lafitte skiffs an shrimp boats be stayin' at de run-down docks opposite dis here. Dis de old money side certainement. (Yes, this is the side opposite the slip of the Zombie Princess.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Now I'm worried

We all know, at least passively, that the economy is deep in the shitter. I haven't thought about it too much because we don't live beyond our means. Too much, anyway. (grin) And I've felt, again passively at least, that things are changing for the better. The anarchocapitalists and their deregulation are out and we're reinstating some of the sensible things we did after the 1929 crash. After all, even Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill warned against an unrestricted capitalist free market. And John Ford Nash, Jr. proved mathematically that anarchocapitalism doesn't work. Assuming you consider Economics a science and addressable by mathematical processes, that is. Me, I'm not sure I do; but all those Economists certainly do.

But today scared me.

I've previously mentioned, in one of my typically cynical posts, the Centurion Card, aka the Black Card, or as Kanye West calls it, the African-American Express Card, which they offered to a limited clientele beginning in 1999. With a one-time signup fee of $5K, an annual fee of $2500, and a required annual spending minimum of $250K, I was not one of the people to whom Amex offered this card. Damn! And I really wanted one, too. I'm sure I could spend $250K a year on personal stuff if I tried.

Today I was offered the opportunity to join the second-tier semi-elite. Or something like that. Barclays (Visa) is now offering a Black Card of their own. Only costs $500 in annual dues, plus $200 annually for each additional card, and ya don't gotta spend a quarter of a million dollars per year, although I'm sure they wouldn't mind if you really wanted to use their card for that level of purchasing.

When you look beyond the fees and all the fabulous extras you get with the Barclays (Visa) Black Card and check the fine print, you might notice that the APR is 13+%. Cash advances are 20+% and the default APR is 27+%. There's a 3% transaction charge, no maximum.


My current cheesy, proletarian, nonelite Visa card is nowhere close to that kind of fee structure. Is this a hidden tax on the rich? Ayn Rand wants to know. Right now.

This is why I'm worried and how I know we're in serious trouble. I quit Microsoft in 1995 (That's 14 years ago!) but today they're offering me a Black Card. Barclays must be completely fucking desperate; so now, I'm scared.

Thanks for the offer, folks, but I think I'm gonna just tear this fucker up, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my working-class brethren, and stick with my lame-ass old school Visa card which has no annual fees and an APR which, as one might say in Calculus, approaches zero as a limit.

Workers of the world, unite! Arise, ye sons of the proletariat! Eat
the rich! I hear they taste a lot like... bacon! Yum! I feel a new recipe coming on.

5 worst movies meme

Ok, so several friends are doing this on FaceBook. I don't like FB apps, so I'm just gonna do it here. I also find it interesting that there are lists of top movies which have large numbers, like the "Top 250," but with worsts I'm limited to 5. Ha! No I'm not. I'm just gonna list a few of my least favorites.

First, lemme say that this is a list of movies I've actually seen (or walked out of, at least). There are a number of movies I simply have not watched because I knew they'd be horrendous, e.g. Battlefield Earth. Those are not included in this list.

In alphabetical order (letter-by-letter, numbers and special characters first):

These ones is not our preciouses. We hates 'em forever. Gollum!

300 I loved Sin City. However, this big, lame, stinky turd is an entirely different matter.

Big Fish Sorry. I guess I just didn't get it. Pedestrian and boring.

Boat Trip I used to like Cuba Gooding. What happened?

Children of Men Nonsensical. Some of the action scenes were ok but the "plot" and concept were… well, nonsensical.

Deer Hunter Christopher Walken was good. Everything else was horribly overdone. Well, Walken was, too, but he made it work.

The Duellists One of the few movies I've ever walked out on. Deadly dull.

Fight Club A lotta people really like this movie. I found it idiotic and it got worse when they revealed the "surprise" ending. Fight club is for pussies.

Gigli 'nuff said.

The Green Berets Vile, pro-VietNam War propaganda piece by the notorious draft dodger, John Wayne.

Grindhouse Yes, I loved Pulp Fiction and El Mariachi - much more than Desperado - but this drive-in homage was worse than anything I saw when there actually were drive-ins showing grade Z movies.

Lawrence of Arabia
Waaaay too self-aware and self-indulgent for my taste and I have a soft spot for war movies and sand-and-sandal epics.

Miami Vice I was a fan of the tv show. It was perfect in its own perverse context. This movie was like an emo version. A bad emo version.

Pluto Nash When a firm director has control of Eddie Murphy, he can be good. When he's free to do his own thing, this is the result.

Se7en I just don't get it. This movie was thinly plotted, poorly acted, and, worst of all, ill lighted. I could barely see anything in any scene. Artsy? I guess. Enjoyable? Not so much.

Star Wars 3 Maybe 2, also. And 1 wasn't all that wonderful.

Titanic I agree with the reviewer who commented that it took less time for the actual sinking than for this movie's run time.

Troy Ack! I tend to love sword-and-sandal epics with very little reservation, but this… Oh, dear Gawd!

Anything with Jerry Lewis

Anything with Will Ferrel

Anything with Ben Stiller

Anything with Adam Sandler, except Happy Gilmore

Anything with Michael Keaton, except Night Shift

Anything by Tim Burton, except Ed Wood, a nearly perfect movie

Anything by Sam Raimi, except Spiderman (Evil Dead series? Please!)

Pretty much any remake, e.g. The Thing, The Day the Earth Stood Still, etc. I rest my case.

Pretty much any sequel, except Aliens

Monday, May 11, 2009

You know you're from Louisiana if...

Your sunglasses fog up when you step outside, even in December.

You reinforce your attic to store Mardi Gras beads

You don't look twice when you see pink flamingos in yards of upscale subdivisions during Mardi Gras.

You save newspapers, not for recycling, but for tablecloths at crawfish boils.

Your ancestors are buried above the ground.

You drink Community Coffee, have tried Starbucks, but don't see what all the fuss is about.

You take a bite of five-alarm chili and reach for the Tabasco.

You sit down to eat boiled crawfish and your host says, "Don't eat the dead ones," and you know what he means.

You push little old ladies out of the way to catch Mardi Gras beads.

Little old ladies push YOU out of the way tocatch Mardi Gras beads.

Your town is low on the education chart, high on the obesity chart, and you don't care because you're No. 1 on the party chart.

Your house payment is less than your utility bill.

You know that Tchoupitoulas is a street and not a disease.

Your grandparents are called "Mam-Maw" and "Paw-Paw." (Mostly if you're from "da parish." In which case, you also speak Chalmatian.)

Your tante Izetta calls to say that she has time to pass by but she can't get down, and that makes sense to you.

Your Santa Claus rides an alligator and your favorite Saint is a football player.

You cringe every time you hear an actor with a Southern or Cajun accent in a "New Orleans-based" movie or TV show.

You have to reset your clocks after every thunderstorm.

You're walking in the French Quarter with a plastic cup and it's filled with an alcoholic beverage.

When it starts to rain, you cover your beer instead of your head.

You've eaten at one or more of these restaurants, AND know how to pronounce them: Prejeans, Tu Jac's, Gallatoire's, Ralph & Kacoo's, Brunet's, or Mulatte's.

You eat dinner out and spend the entire meal talking about all the other good places you've eaten.

You call home just to find out what yamomm'an'em are having for supper tonight.

The crawfish mounds in your front yard have over taken the grass.

You greet people with:
"Howzyamomma'an'em?" and hear back "Dey fine!"
Hey, dawlin'. Where y'at!
We was out by the neutral ground in fronta Kay'n'bees.
Dem crawfish ain't lookin so good dis season, no.

Some N. O. accents here.

Community Coffee, Haydels, Zapps, K&B, Abita, etc., are essential. We love makin' groceries and savin 'em when da devil done paid his due.

Every so often, you have waterfront property.

When giving directions you use "uptown," "downtown," "backatown,"
"riverside," "lakeside," "other side of the bayou," or "other side of the levee."
Classic N.O. directions: "Get off the Interstate at Veterans Highway, then turn left where Pelican Bowling Lanes *used to be*."

When you refer to a geographical location "way up North'" you are referring to places like Shreveport, Little Rock, or Memphis, where it gets real cold.

You can pronounce Tchoupitoulas.(Also, Thibodeaux, Opelousas, Pontchartrain, Ouachita, Atchafalaya.) And you pronounce the Greek muses as: Turps-ick-oh, Mel-pom-een, Thale-ya, etc.

You don't worry when you see ships riding higher in the river than the top of your house.

You judge a poboy by the number of napkins used.

The waitress at your local sandwich shop tells you a fried oyster poboy "dressed" is healthier than a Caesar salad. You agree.

You know the definition of "dressed" and you like your roast-beef poboy sloppy wit debris.

You can eat Popeye's, Haydel's and Zapp's for lunch and wash it down with Barq's and several Abitas, without losing it all on your stoop or banquette. (Me, I like Ranadazzo's better than Haydel's. And I miss McKenzie's. And Schwegmann's. And K&B. And… Sigh! New Orleans just aint the same no more.)

The four seasons in the year are: Crawfish, Shrimp, Crab, and King Cake.

You wrench your hands in the zink with an onion bar to get the crawfish smell off.

You're not afraid when someone wants to "ax" you something.

You don't learn until high school that Mardi Gras is not a national holiday.

You don't learn until high school what a "county" is.

You believe that purple, green, and gold look good together (and you will even eat things those colors).

You go to buy a new winter coat (what most people would refer to as a windbreaker) and throw your arms up in the air to make sure it allows enough room to catch Mardi Gras beads.

Your last name isn't pronounced the way it's spelled.

You know what a nutria is but you still pick it to represent your baseball team.

You have spent a summer afternoon on the Lake Pontchartrain seawall catching blue crabs. And then eating them, no matter what those scientists say about "pollution."

You describe a color as "K&B Purple."

You like your rice and politics dirty.

You pronounce the largest city in the state as "Noo Awlins."

A friend gets in trouble for roaches in his car and you wonder if it was palmetto bugs (A term invented by Florida chambers of commerce cuz "flying roaches" just sounds off-putting to tourists.) or those little ones that go after the french fries that fell under the seat.

You know the big roaches can fly, but you're able to sleep at night anyway.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Louisiana.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Ronnie

[A poem for you. It ain't Scarlet Pimpernel quality, in that it doesn't rhyme in four places. Actually, it doesn't rhyme at all. But it's a poem, really. I think. Anyway, it's from the (my) heart. That's gotta count for something.]

You Are

You are:

the sunlight warming my face, reaching me in a bit more than
minute minute minute minute
minute minute minute minute
after origination.

my beguiling moonlight, (reflected stellar luminescence)
illuminating me only a tick more than 1
ONE! A singularity althought not a singularity.
second after its reflection.
(angle of incidence equals angle of reflection)

my glowing starlight,
distant, imperious, seeming cold but originating from furious fusion,
impacting my existence in a timeframe varying from as little as 4+ years
lightyears, that is, frantic wavicles
streaming madly through dark matter on their way here
to quite a large number from departure.

my big G, difficult to measure quantitatively,
but preeminent as one of the essential components of my universe.
The big G stands for [whatever I choose from its multiexistence in superposition]

my e, both
Einstein's e, derived from mc^2,
and the e representing that exquisite physical value –
the elementary charge of a subatomic particle.
elementary, my dear Watson.

more constant than Avogadro's number
and I know you can make better (guaca)mole.
Avogadro and avocado are NOT congruent!
Only one relates to (guaca)mole,
the other relates merely to a (simple) mole.

beyond mere quantum mechanics
What's beyond the edge of existence?
What's beyond the edge of that?
in that you are both a dimensionful and dimensionless constant

my Anthropic principle,
strong vs. weak becoming moot in this context.
No subjective valuation of strong or weak
only what is.

The Observer [watching!]
effecting and affecting my wave-particle duality,
as I am yours. [watching back!]
We achieve complementarity.

the Big Bang of
us=family{Maier}, transcending, somehow,
for OUR quantum
the uncertainty principle.
principles not rules, right?

my universe.
our universe and we're still just in its Planck epoch,
barely moving into our grand unification epoch.

my TOE!

Happy Mother's Day. I love you.

Star Trek review

The new old generation. Or something.

So, I've been a Trekkie since the original series on tv in the '60s. (Yes, it was in color! Very cool!)

I watched all the spinoffs, although I wasn't religious about Voyager. I went to the first Star Trek movie when it came out and I'm such a loyal fan that I spent money to go to the second movie (Khan!) after enduring the first. Shudder! Thankfully, the second provided redemption for the first. Since then, the movies have been hit and miss but I have remained a fan.

My favorite ST movie? I hafta agree with the cynical reviewer who, after watching Galaxy Quest exclaimed, "At last! A good Star Trek movie." After Galaxy Quest, my fave hasta be 4: The Search for Whales; but then, like Spock, I probably took a little too much LDS in the '60s.

So this latest offering… A new look, a new-ish timeframe, new actors, same bad science – IOW, classic ST. Regarding bad science, I gotta at least give 'em credit for not even trying to make up one of their patented "tech the tech" explanations when they simply referred to "the red stuff." Why try to explain the inexplicable or unscrew the inscrutable? Let's just call it "the red stuff" and have it do what the plot requires. More action sequences coming after these expensive special effects. Let's move it along, now. More to see. Don't worry your pretty little heads about believability. We're banking on a SERIOUS level of "willing suspension of disbelief."

Somebody should write a Dr. Seuss-style physics book for the ST writers of the last coupla decades. Red shift, blue shift, I shift, you shift. The big G, you see, affects you and me. mc^2 equals e and EMP after deltaT gives a field of B. Etc.

Oh well, even the original ST only featured a coupla episodes written by actual s-f writers who knew what the hell they were writing about. Otherwise it was, as the tv companies wanted it to be, "Wagon Train in space."

What can I say about this latest offering?

Expensive special effects. Adequate (meaning average) ST plot. Characters? I have only two significant complaints: Uhuru and Checkov. Everyone else was ok; I accepted them as the new avatars of their antecedents. But Uhuru, no. Couldn't swallow her. And Chekov, completely inaccurate personality depiction. Minor quibble: cutesy alien pal for Scotty. Maybe if they'd explored a xenosexual tension between them, but as it was, nah! Waaaaayyy to damned cutesy.

Speaking of sex. TOS was shown on tv in the '60s. We all understand the restrictions of that medium at that time. This is a movie being shown in 2009. Am I really to believe that Kirk, the horned one, has wild, green-skinned, "Orion slave-girl" sex with a partner who's still wearing a bra-and-panty set less revealing than most bikinis? Bah, humbug!

Grumps aside, it was a fine ST offering. If you're a Trekkie at all, you should enjoy it. Even if you're not, you might find it amusing.

Live long and prosper! Bones seems to have figured out how to do that.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Faux followup

Imprimis, I wanna thank all y'all for your comments. I appreciate them more than you may know.

Secundus, I could write about this guy for weeks but there is one area I want to clarify now. My post just kinda lumped his sociopolitical philosophy together with his faux unschooling. I didn't mean to imply by that that everyone who shares his philosophy is, by definition, a faux unschooler. Au contraire, cher! There are a number of people whose philosophies are closer to his than to mine (fuzzy-thinking, Marxist-wannabe, leftover hippie trying to function in a capitalist society that I am) but who are, nonetheless, real and actual and wonderful unschoolers. For example, Miranda, Stephanie, and Heather.

These, and others, are from a sociopolitical philosophy quite antithetical to mine and similar to his but they are genuine unschoolers. That's the difference. He is a faux unschooler, not because of his life philosophy, but simply because he's an asshole. He'd be an asshole and a faux unschooler if here were a leftover-hippie socialist instead of a Randian "objectivist." So, please, don't misconstrue my barbs at his faux unschooling as barbs at his weltanschauung. Yes, I find it distasteful but that post was not a political exercise; it was about unschooling. I prefer to discuss philosophy, however you define that, face-to-face and well-lubricated with Brobdingnagian quantities of alcohol. It's more fun that way.

Tertius, a couple of folks (You know who you are and I don't wanna call you out for attention in case he ever does find his way here.) commented that this guy was reminiscent of a member of their local ng(s). Here are a coupla comments he made on SSUDs which might give you an idea of how he feels about women.

His quotes are in green.

I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say and to being a part of a list dedicated to dads. I’ve been on a couple of moms lists for quite a while. Those lists have been good at times, but I’ve felt a bit out of place in the discussions with my rational approach to all issues.

Yes, we men are rational creatures, unlike, you know, mere women. If only they'd invent a RealDoll that could cook and clean, life would be perfect. Snicker.

And his comment to a dad who's having problems dealing with his son:

I’m sorry about the problems you’re having with your 10-year-old, Name, but you’re actually not having any problems with your 10-year-old.
Your problem is your wife’s pampering of your son and (probably) believing it is her duty to take care of him. There is no such duty.
In my view, you’ll have to work with her on help-withdrawal, as I outlined in a previous email. Your son simply does not respect your wife for being a toady to his whimsy.
Until she gains the confidence to run her own life as she pleases (possibly with lots of your help), then she’ll continue to pamper – and cause great strain on everyone involved.

Yeah, you betchum, Red Ryder. It's up to us rational men to help the little lady grow a pair of her own (metaphorically speaking, of course) and control that demanding little shit.

And if you really wanna learn more about him and how he thinks, his lair home base is included in this quote/post from SSUDs:

BTW, I have defined “unschooling” for other lists and at my blog: many times.

And a bonus tidbit from his website about you gals: I write about... dating (women say they "love to laugh" - uhuh, well, who the hell doesn't?!)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Faux unschooling

Recently there was a thread on the SSUDs ng which captivated me. One participant there was so bizarre that I sat in open-mouthed amazement reading the shit he spewed in an UNSCHOOLING ng. Even more incredible was his self-delusion that he was (is) an unschooler.

Any philosophy will inevitably have a broad spectrum of followers. There are the orthodox, the unorthodox, the heterodox, the heretics, and those who are simply creating their own version of the thing. But, until now, I hadn't realized that there were Pharisees coopting the term "unschooling" for their own nefarious use. It irritates me. I wanna tear open the whitewashed facade of their sepulcher of claimed unschooling and reveal the putrefying corpse which is their true epistemology.

One of my earliest long, unschooling-related posts on this blog was my three-part Math Rant which was inspired by a pompous prick of a meretriciously tedious mathematics teacher. It wasn't specifically an unschooling post, it was more an indictment of our educational and societal relationship to math. My only actual unschooling post was the essay I wrote for Jon Gold and posted here. Therefore, this is only the second time I've written specifically about unschooling.

Obviously, this guy really pissed me off. He bothered me so much that I felt compelled to compose a response to his commentary here where I can be blunt.

For the sake of anonymity (kind of), let's call him Soi-disant Selfish Unschooling Dad Shithead #1, acronymed to SSUDS1 and pronounced "asshole." Hey! It's English. Well, it's American English. If you can pronounce G-H-O-T-I as "fish" then you can pronounce S-S-U-D-S-1 as "asshole." I'm the Chubby Checker of written-to-spoken American, baby.

As background, conceptual info, I probably should tell you that he's an Ayn Rand "objectivist." If you're unfamiliar with this (Lucky you!), it's just Any Rand's sophomoric attempt to turn selfishness plus unrestrained Capitalism into an actual (utopian) philosophy. Yes, they truly do believe that selfishness is a virtue. Think of this "philosophy" as the country cousin of fortune cookie philosophy and you're close to the mark. Just remember, selfishness is a virtue. Really.

Let us begin. His comments are directly quoted and they're green.

SSUDS1's declared definition of his variant of unschooling sounds not unreasonable.

Unschooling is a means for childrearing in which the parent recognizes a child’s free will, thereby allowing the child to choose her own values, decide upon her own virtues, and acquire her life-knowledge on her own timeline, free of any parental coercion.

But speaking of cognitive dissonance, let's look at his behavior. After all, actions speak louder than words.

By the age of 4.5, ALL kids know what’s right and wrong. Some are better at pretending they don’t. By that age, you can essentially treat them like adults, mutatis mutandis, because they can engage their rational minds equally, allowing for a lack of many facts and an ease of reasoning that comes from practice through the years.

I believe he accurately chooses mutatis mutandis over ceteris paribus here because he assumes the parent has been working on the child since birth to mold/change the child into a creature the parent wants the child to be. To harken all the way back to Piaget, SSUDS1 is a firm believer in "social transmission" rather than "reconstruction of knowledge." That is, a relationship in which one partner is dominant (the parent, obviously) and the other is… not. Beliefs, including both knowledge and mores, are transmitted one way, rigidly, despite the fact that children develop their own concepts of ethics from observing the world independent of parentally-imposed concepts and often in opposition to them. The alternative method, which Piaget calls "reconstruction of knowledge," is where the partners are more equal, mutually examining their universe, and knowledge is derived openly and flexibly, rather than by edict of the authority figure. Which one of these sounds more like unschooling to you? Right. And yet SSUDS1 adamantly embraces social transmission. He is the Pope, always speaking ex cathedra to his congregation of one.

Just as mutatis mutandis is the accurately-chosen description for his process, my Pope photo is also precisely chosen. It's Pius XII, the original Nazi Pope, as opposed to the current Nazi Pope, Joey Ratzinger.

…unschooling does not mean un-informing or un-judging or even un-dictating in certain circumstances. And, most importantly, it does not mean moral relativism (or absenteeism) on the parent's part, including a complete laissez-faire approach to child-rearing. That is just as destructive as public schooling on a child's brain. They must hear from us what is good and bad, and we must be confident of what we know to be right and wrong, so that we can explain those things well. I highly recommend Ayn Rand's Objectivism to gain that confidence. The foundation of a good life is rational absolutes.
Right and wrong are black and white in every single situation of life, so the parent's primary duties are to create a non-coercive environment and to help foster the child's rationality, which includes pointing out right and wrong, helping to piece things together, helping make moral decisions upon the character of those we know, helping understand the importance of good health and eating habits, determining the best way to treat others, making conclusions on religion, welfare, public schooling, theft, laziness, lying, obesity, beauty, evolution, Gang Green (environmentalists), work, friendship, charity, conditional love (which is the only kind of love), integrity, etc.
There is no such thing as unconditional love. It is an oxymoron because we put conditions on the moral character of each person we know. If we did not, then we could just as easily marry a prostitute as a seamstress. And we could love a drug-addict thieving child as much as a child of great humanity, benevolence and learning. The phrase "unconditional love" is, unfortunately, one of the most prominent and heinous in our society. My child will be my friend and confident throughout our lives together only if she makes the decision to be moral, including honesty, integrity, productivity, justice, etc. I expect that to happen, so I look forward very much to our long lives together.

Gosh! Where to begin? Dictating an absolute hierarchy of right and wrong. Gee, I forgot that was a requirement for being an unschooler. Must've missed that handout at the big unschooling meeting. And I think the word he was looking for was "pernicious" when he described the OBVIOUSLY ABSOLUTELY WRONG concept of "unconditional love." (Brief aside: His example of marrying a prostitute vs. a seamstress is fascinating to us Seattleites because in the early days of the city all the prostitutes listed their occupation as "seamstress." That'd probably confuse the shit out of poor old SSUDS1. Who can you marry if the prostitutes are seamstresses? Oh, dear Odin! Confused... Mind spinning… Must regain control. Must impose (my) logical absolutes on reality. Phew! Better now. Back to my main line of invective.) Not to mention those damned Gang Green environmentalists. (Shun the unbeliever! Shun! Nasty global climate change hoaxers.) Oh yeah, and fatties ("obesity" which follows "lying" in his nonexhaustive, and probably inexhaustible, list). I hafta remember to point out to my kids the ABSOLUTE WRONG of being fat and I guess I'd better lose some weight cuz I'm pretty sure hypocrisy is an ABSOLUTE WRONG. And those fucking welfare recipients. How do I hate them? Let me count the ways. Blah, blah, blah. Like SSUDS1, I highly recommend Ayn Rand's writings… if you're having trouble falling asleep. Personal disclaimer: Yes, I am a MORAL RELATIVIST and my opinion is that Ayn Rand was an idiot and, worse, a bad writer. I guarantee I'd put that on my list of ABSOLUTE WRONGS. Should I kill myself now or can I wait til I finish composing this philippic?

To believe that there is no black and white is actually schoolish. That's exactly the kind of moral relativism that is taught at every high school and university in America and it leaves children only with cognitive dissonance. There is no contradiction between wanting a child to have her free will and self-determination and my absolutism and judgmental philosophy in life and child-rearing.

Again with absolutism's superiority to relativism, calling it "schoolish." Ouch! A hit, a very palpable hit. Not! [In relative colors, not black and white. Get it? Boy, I'm so witty sometimes.] Show me someone who claims to be an absolutist and I'll show you a self-deluded person. Ooooh, and here's some fabulous cognitive dissonance! Your child is allowed by you, the authority, to have free will within the confines of your absolutes. Is this another of those "killing for peace" or "fucking for virginity" types of American Zen koans? Define "oxymoron." Hell, for this guy, forget the "oxy" part.

Once a child gets to be about 4.5 or 5, there can be an expectation on the parent’s part that the child understands rules and can be held accountable for those rules (which are based upon solid principles). Such young children will sometimes honestly forget or stray a bit, and in those occasions, a simple talk or reminder is all that is needed. But children have their moods, as adults do, and when that mood becomes a catalyst for obstinance and irrationality, then discussion in some cases simply won’t do the trick. That’s when the adult has little choice but to say, “OK, you’re not wanting to listen, so I’m going about my business, and you can take care of yourself --until you’re ready to talk.”

Rules. Oh, but they're based on principles. That's ok, then, isn't it? Of course, if the child is "obstinate" and "irrational," well, that's when it's necessary to escalate the DefCon status. Reluctantly, of course. More in sorrow than in anger, ya know? But how often is a two-year-old irrational, anyway? I mean, it probably doesn't come up all that often, right? I remember when our kids were two and… Oh shit! Fuck me!

But I'm not ready to fully comment on this quite yet. Read the next sentence, then I'll put on Jeremiah's cloak and ream this SSUDS1 a new 1.

If the child refuses to see his own bad acts for what they are, I choose to withdraw my loving until I see a change in behavior.

Yeah, you read that right. The unschooling, free-will, noncoercive (All of these are his own actual labels for his actions.) method he uses with his child is withdrawal of himself and his love from his child until she learns her (more accurately, SSUDS1's) lesson.

That's so vile, so abysmally disgusting, lemme repeat it so it can sink in. It's not something we wanna simply read as a single sentence and zoom on past. When his child does something he doesn’t like, he withdraws his physical presence AND HIS LOVE until she learns her lesson. This has been his methodology all her short life. Not only is that not unschooling, it's not even reasonable in the context of traditional parenting. Or human psychobiology, for that matter. Here's a kid who's gonna need a whole team of shrinks for a coupla decades after she leaves home. Of course, in the context of operant conditioning, this is an absolute, sure-fire, utterly nuclear-level negative punishment. And it certainly works. It works like a sunnavabitch. Guaranteed to produce the desired result: an obedient, compliant, eager-to-please subject, I mean, child. A subject (sorry, child) who knows that she'd better toe the line and anticipate il Papa's wants or she will be (once again) declared unworthy of her parent's love. Is there anything a parent can do to a child that's worse than withdrawing their love? Despicable.

Is that behavior modification? Certainly. That is, after all, exactly what we are attempting to achieve in our children…

Do I really need to comment on this sentence? I thought not. Who gives a fuck whether you call it behavior modification or operant conditioning or just some pencil-dick brute emotionally abusing his little girl? It's simply evil with a capital E. And vile, too, cuz that's just rearranging the letters in evil, after all. This guy probably used a Skinner box, I mean, an air crib when his daughter was an infant.

Reality is stark and real, and I think parenting should be the same.

Thine own mouth condemns thee. "Parenting should be stark." Wow! Yep, that sounds pretty much like most of the unschoolers I know. Y'all would agree with that, wouldn't you? Maybe even bleak, huh? I sincerely want my kids to grow up in an environment (Oh shit! I forgot, "environmentalism" is one of the BAD things. Oh well, continuing anyway…) which is as dark and cold as infinite, crepuscular, Helium-liquefying interstellar space smothering a tortured plain whose surface is constantly scoured by the shrieking twins, Boreas and Aquilo, and dotted with sickly, glowing fungi of contorted shapes and configurations repellent to the human eye and disturbing to the psyche. A place where the blasted landscape is occasionally punctuated by foetid fens of stygian gloom and mephitic effluvium, gathering darkness to themselves like a cloak in a seemingly purposeful attempt to conceal the awful purity of their flagitious existence.

Yeah, that's a pretty accurate depiction of how life is and I wanna be sure the kids learn that stark, but real, lesson early and well. I mean, I wanna be a good dad, ya know? I can be Boreal if I hafta. It's for the kids' own good.

What should kids be like?
I wanted to say in my previous email that my daughter cleans up all her own messes and has done so since she was 3.5. She’s been pouring her own drinks since the day she turned two (with my help in opening some containers). She’s been making coffee for the household since she was 3.5 (she asked to do it and sometimes gets up before I do so she can do it). She’s been dressing herself since she was 3. She cleans up the kitchen dishes about a quarter of the time (and would do more if I asked, but I’m much faster at it and just go ahead and do it most of the time). My ex-wife (who is extraordinary with Livy also) and I have never told Livy no on any of the above and make ourselves readily available for help in most cases.
My daughter and I will go days or even weeks without a disagreement or a confab on what is right or wrong. She rarely leaves anything lying around (dirty dishes included) because she knows that we honor others’ existence by honoring our own and taking care of our own messes. She knows she is free to make her room look as if a category 4 tornado just went through, but that common areas are to be cleaned after play.
She likes to cook her own food, including microwaving and stovetop work. She knows that simply taking the last slice of cheesecake without asking me if I’d like to have a couple of bites isn’t fair, and so she asks with the loveliest voice if I would like to have some.
She likes to help other kids do stuff. She likes to do stuff for me, like making my coffee and giving me pieces of her desserts. She plays hard with the neighborhood boys and girls. Though all of the kids occasionally bicker over something, they all usually work out things without parental involvement.
All of this is not to say that everything is always halcyon. We’ve had our three-hour standoffs in the past, wherein she would simply not admit to having lied (ownership of thoughts takes time in kids) or would not acknowledge that my time is my time or something else. She has even proven me wrong a couple of times on what I promised. I didn’t think I was wrong, but her recounting of what I said proved that I was. Her strong will and adamant remarks got my attention and made me respect her even more.
She is a delightful sprite with an iron core. She knows that right is right and wrong is wrong – and that everything else is simply play time. I think the reason she is this way (and that every child should be this way) is because she has found that my ex-wife’s moral character and my moral character are as hard as the rocks in our front yard. They will not break. This comforts children. It gives the lovely, benevolent feeling that as long as they themselves abide by the proper rules of respect for oneself and others, then the mind is utterly free to explore this wild, amazing world – and that parents won’t get in the way of the exploration, and will in fact want to join them many times in the journey.

I feel so abyssally sad for this poor little girl. Here's what I posted on the SSUDs ng after reading that.

Ack! What should kids be like? They "should be" just who they are; that's what.

The one thing they should absolutely NOT be is Skinnerized automatons, molded
into obedient little Stepford children.

Your daughter knows that taking the last slice of cheesecake without checking
with her deity is a sin and is punishable in extremis. Her god is clearly a
selfish god. Then again, in your universe, selfishness is a virtue, isn't it?

This is unschooling? Hell no! It ain't even close.

Think about her life. Here's a kid who's known since age 3.5, and probably even before that, that she'd better clean up after herself or daddy wouldn't love her. Who, at 3.5, knew that she'd better get up before daddy to make his coffee or he wouldn't love her. Who cleans the kitchen whenever she can before daddy does it because she worries that if daddy hasta do it, he might will find her unlovable. Who, as I said in my ng post, knows that taking the last slice of cheesecake without checking with her deity is a sin and is punishable in extremis. When you fail to anticipate god's wants, god ceases to love you.

Yeah, that sounds like unschooling to me.

To wrap this up, I'm gonna bastardize Martial, substituting adeo for nec and atque for hoc, changing his original concept to fit my feelings: [Explained in P.S. below.]

Non amo te, SSUDS1.
Adeo possum dicere quare
Atque tantum possum dicere:
Non amo te.

And now I'm gonna go hug my daughters, kiss them all over their radiant faces, and love them unconditionally. If loving them (unconditionally) is wrong, I don't wanna be right. (wink and a nod to Percy Sledge)

You can call me heinous, or you can call me RJ, or you can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay; but ya doesn't hasta call me… Well, if you're an SSUDS1 (Remember my preferred pronunciation of this word from the beginning of this diatribe.), ya doesn't hasta call me at all. I'd prefer that.

Unconditionally yours,


P.S. It has been gently suggested to me that I should give a brief explanation of Martial's poem and my variation. The original is:

Non amo te, Sabadi.
Nec possum dicere quare
Hoc tantum possum dicere:
Non amo te.

I do not like you, Sabadi.
I am not able to say why
I am only able to say this:
I do not like you.

By substituting adeo for nec and atque for hoc, I changed it to:

I do not like you, SSUDS1.
I am able to say precisely why
And I am able to say just this:
I do not like you.