I Told You So!

I told you so! Nobody wants to admit it. And those who do admit it, just shrug it off. But I told you so!

Back in December or November I visited my step-son’s public elementary school for a day. Afterward, I wrote a post which included that the most surprising thing was how little the kids were taught during their day. I wrote that they received “maybe two hours” of instruction.

I promptly pulled him out and began homeschooling him.

Now that the kids are all home, my daughter says that she has “half-an-hour to one hour” (happy to correct my “hour and a half?” clarification until she wished she hadn’t) of schoolwork a day. In exchange for an 8+ hour rigamarole charade, the kids can work for 30 minutes? Every public school teacher should be fired. Then flogged. They are nothing but lying liars.

I told you so!

30-60 minutes. What the mother-effing sh!t are they doing the rest of the day in those buildings?

What a waste. What a shame.

What a waste. What a shame.

What a waste. What a shame.

On Neglect of A Child

This is mostly a time capsule, but also a public thank you note and call to action.

I had always thought of “neglect” as a strictly physical or emotional thing. I think I always pictured a skinny, filthy boy. Maybe the boy had a tear coming down one cheek.

No longer.

Neglect now looks like a happy boy, but one who constantly lies. The lying is so pervasive that truth itself needs constant defining.

I want to record two observations that have shocked me, not because they’re unbelievable, but because they’re perfectly coherent despite being as alien as aliens.

Firstly, I recently watched a boy be immediately repulsed by my request to make a written record. It’s a look money cannot buy. Despite lacking most indicators of critical-thinking for his age, he knew immediately that the action of writing would put his well-honed methods at a disadvantage. Specifically, if we timed an event (say Math Facts) and just announced the result out loud, making no written record, the next time we discussed it, it simply became a battle of who cares the most. A, “Huh-uh. I didn’t take that long,” or, “I didn’t go that fast,” depending on the child’s mood. But with the written record, there is now accountability. And with accountability comes responsibility. And responsibility brings fear—because we’re talking about a child who has never known responsibility because the adults never taught him to read and write. And we fear what is new.

The second observation is along the same lines, but the inverse angle. With no written record, conversations and moods tend to follow the energy of the group—no matter their particularly disadvantageous content or claims. The important thing to note is that there is no undesirable consequence for the child in talking like this—just go with the flow, and add something in kind. The specific example is as follows. Recently someone influential in the boy’s life (with apparently no awareness for the power of their words) remarked the boy was becoming fat. Keep in mind, the boy is not becoming fat. Anyhow, the boy then recounts how he didn’t have kool-aid at lunch that day. The audience laughs. Then I say, “We’re actually gonna just do water for lunch from now on in any case.” He, surprisingly, says, “That’s okay! I have plenty of kool-aid in my stomach already.” More laughs all around. Then at lunch the next day, he absentmindedly asks, “Can I have kool-aid?” I say, “No. Didn’t you say last night that you were fine without it?” Oh, the look on his face. Again, it was priceless.

For me, these observations and this new understanding of neglect and accountability and responsibility and truth are priceless.

Oscar-style, “I’d like to thank the Academy (like the actual Greek one of antiquity), my parents, my teachers, my sister, my church leaders, my friends, and just about everyone who every picked up a writing utensil and wrote with it and encouraged me to do the same from the earliest age. Also, I’d like to thanks all those, many of the self-same people, who called me out for lying from a young age—despite the nowadays perceived harshness of that simple act. I don’t know if it felt unpopular back then, but either way, thank you.”

For you, dear reader, hold the children accountable. Teach the children to write. In other words, don’t neglect the children.

Renaming the Bible

As I mentioned, I was recently in Judges. Then the last few days, I have been studying Thessalonians 1&2.

I don’t want to rename the Bible. Moreover, I wouldn’t be able to. The idea is ridiculous. But I would like to share what I would call it, that is, in an imaginary world.

I’d call it… Actually I can’t put it into words.

It’s something like a self-help book that teaches you how to accept happiness in your life.

“Accept Blessings”. That’s about as close as I can get. But that sounds like an military order, not a book title.

“How to Accept Blessings” might be more accurate, but now I don’t know if I would have ever picked up a book with that title.

All I’m really trying to say is that the more I read the Bible, the more I see that people around me do not know how to be happy, how to make two good decisions in a row (let alone how to add a third), and the more I see that even when life doesn’t appear to be unfolding in our favor, it is.

Put another way, the starring character, Jesus, is supposed to have said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” And you won’t find that information anywhere else but in “Accept Blessings.”

See? That’s just not powerful.

Trying again.

And you won’t find that information anywhere else but in “How to Accept Blessings.”

Hmm. That’s definitely worse.

I guess we’re stuck with: And you won’t find that information anywhere else but in the Bible.

Bamboozled Out of Baseball

I’ve swung back-and-forth quite a bit during this pandemic. The two ends would best be characterized by denial and anxiety. Today something new is bubbling up. I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been bamboozled.

It started as I considered this notion of “essential”. Actually, it started by reading what exactly was “essential” according to the government, and seeing how markedly it differed from my previous understanding of the word.

Now, it continues to build as I focus on how this is exactly how a socialist economic system works: Central planning. In other words, someone, not me, decides what I believe is essential.

Before the pandemic, Americans were doing just fine determining what was essential for their life. If we made a lot of money, we couldn’t live without extravagance. If we didn’t make any money, we survived by driving for Uber.

We were never satisfied with our fancy cars and ever changing diets, or we were eternally grateful to be able to make more money at will.

Now, the government is both feeding us the horrifying information about the disease and determining which parts of our lives are essential. This is a problem.

More pointedly, I just want to repeat that Major League Baseball is essential to summer.

Hey, You! Sleepy-head! Wake up! What is essential to you?

Two Ways Jack Reacher Stayed Healthy

Obviously we watched Jack Reacher last night. I was struck by two parts. The first is when TC explains how, through training and repetition, someone not smart can be made to appear smart. It reminded me of what I was trying to say about illiterate children.

Secondly, my dad told me today that he did not buy the toilet paper that was seemingly destined for him to buy as it sat on the shelf at the store. I repeat: my dad did not buy available toilet paper. Hear me clearly: the toilet paper had his name, in cursive—at least if you look in the right light—on the packaging and he did NOT buy it. Bravo. That reminded me of TC’s answer to the blonde’s anxious query, “Should I be afraid?!” Cruise says, “Are you smart?” Blondie says, “Yes.” Tom then says, “Then don’t be afraid.”

Let’s Play Ball Instead of Panicking

More in the “diary” vein of blogging.

We don’t have a tv. Consequently, my step-son doesn’t watch movies or tv on the regular. Every once in a while I show him something on the laptop. Last night was Sandlot. He noticed this one as I searched for Goonies the last time, and so I figured it’s a good wholesome film and it might even set him up with the desire to attempt some baseball in the coming season. It’s also uncannily about a boy moving in with a step-dad (who won’t let him touch his stuff) and being new to the neighborhood–all true-to-life circumstances for A-.

Let’s play baseball again. This post serves as my call for MLB to return to the field. Despite not being the most fanatic fan, I still cannot imagine an American summer without America’s past-time. Sooooo, instead of canceling summer, let’s cancel panic and play ball. I’ll be there the minute the gates open.

Second, and I hid this point on purpose, we need to talk about what panicking is. Actually I can’t. I shouldn’t. I want to, but I won’t.

Suffice it to say, I’ve instructed my family to not buy a toilet paper pack bigger than 18 rolls the next time we find any. 18 is the size we’re currently on, having purchased it back in February sometime before any of the hysteria. So that’s why. But from now on, if the choice is 18+ pack vs. 4-pack, then we get the 4-pack. Someone has to set the example.

What are we going to do without toilet paper? After a quick internet search, I’ve come to resolution. Cloth rags and a diaper genie. And probably a lot less fast food.

You all are going to have to live with the fact that you panicked. I’m going to have some extra laundry.

But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to claim that I encouraged others to end the hysteria.

The Train Has Left The Station

The last time I visited a doctor my recent seminary studies entered the chat and the man subsequently commented, “Didn’t I read that they found his bones?”

That covers why I won’t be trusting doctors’ non-medical opinions.

Difficult times reveal character. They don’t create it. They don’t foster it. They simply provide an uncommon stage in a theater with better lighting.

In this post I intend to write something I’ll be proud of having written when I circle-back to it in the future. I’m not trying to say something wise. I’m not trying to calm anyone. I’m not trying to predict anything.

The train has left the station. There is no future point which will be accurately called the turning point. But the train didn’t leave the station recently, it left the station years ago. When we received the breath of life, the train began its one way trip.

Okay. I admit it. I’m angry. I’m angry because of what I’ve read from the doctors. One published his letter to his family. Another actually claimed “the sky is falling.”

Rather than the doctors admitting that their professional expertise does not extend beyond certain boundaries, they are now answering the general public’s cries for help—despite knowing that they’re out of their element. A doctor knows how to help our acute problems—most of the time. They do not know how to oversee the inhabitants of the earth.

Doctors are not elected. They are not appointed by god. These are facts.

I’ve spent a great portion of my waking hours discussing Jesus with folks. Never, not once, have I heard someone say, “You know what? I think I want in. How do I get eternal life?” That doesn’t bother me or cause me to doubt the value of that task. And I’m talking eternal life.

Doctors are screaming that we’re all going to die—BIG NEWS!—and they’re dismayed that no one listens? Join the club buddy. The back of the line is right over there.

Three Interesting Pontifications

  1. I’m going to relate the disregard for Biden and Sanders’ age to the current government response to see-oh-vee-aye-dee nineteen.
  2. I’m going to teach you bravery.
  3. I’m going to escape again.

Let’s begin. Like many of you, I have long been perplexed by Biden and Sanders’ age. This is because for as long as I can remember, our culture’s socially-approved political and historical posture has included the denigration of old white men. With the sought for and welcomed shut-down of America by these same socialites, not to mention their shaming of any folks who say, “Don’t worry”, I am no longer perplexed. What is now abundantly clear, even to a dunce like me, is Americans are in a state of denial regarding death.

Next, professional pilots must pass flight physicals on at least a yearly basis. As it was devised by pilots, this rule is naturally incredibly wise and far-thinking. And yet, it can be stressful on the day. Imagine with me that you’re not sick and you must go to a doctor. The doctor during this interaction has the power–not to tell you that you’re sick–but to bring an end to your career, and quite probably your childhood dream.

Again, as a pilot there is at least one day a year where even though you’re not sick, you must transfer the controls of your life to a person who has the power to crush your soul. How do we do it? Or, more specifically, how do I do it? Firstly, I tell the truth. The truth is that that doctor’s no more in control than I am. Something bigger is going on. Secondly, I remind myself that it’s not a one-time visit. As a professional pilot, I have to be healthy every day. The minute I feel unhealthy, I have to land.

In other words, the fear lies in applying incorrectly intense focus on that one doctor visit, and the courage lies in spreading out the focus over a lifetime. More simply, when I begin to dread the flight physical, I change my perspective.

Hey you! If you’re feeling afraid, change your perspective. (Don’t worry.)

Lastly, I made my wife watch Field of Dreams with me last night. I had mentioned the film to her and my step-son the other day, and when I tried to summarize it, I couldn’t get through a summary without crying. Weird. Anyhow, recently when we’ve watched a film, I have loved the new-to-me sensation of contemplating what she (a non-Western immigrant) must be thinking as she watches it, considering that she doesn’t know any of the multiple references each film makes and uses in order to be a coherent whole. (For example, forget ((or add to)) ballplayers themselves as being a new entity; think of watching the “I’m melting” line as the ballplayer walks into the cornfield.)

In any case, with all the hysteria and uncertainty and “shuttering” going on, last night, I didn’t want to see the movie from her perspective. I just wanted to imagine what it was like for Ray to rush to the field after his daughter told him there was a man standing on it. I just wanted to imagine seeing a ballplayer standing in the outfield under the lights in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. I just wanted to imagine that I still lived in America.

Written Record of One Conclusion after Observing One Illiterate Child in the 21st Century

This post is tricky for two reasons. Firstly, the child I’ve been observing could someday read it. Secondly, while it’s true that you’re reading this, I’m not sure you’re ‘literate’.

To cancel out any negative repercussions possible within the first reason, I want to clarify that my intentions are to simply record an observation that is interesting to me. There’s no judgement here. You didn’t cause yourself to be illiterate.

Regarding the second reason, I consider literacy to include the actual ability to imagine that you’re someone else. Literacy is not about lofting the sounds of symbols into the air. It is about understanding the author’s written ideas, their point-of-view, inasmuch as they can be understood by a reasonable person.

Quickly, then, the word of the day is “mimic”. That’s the best way I can think to capture the process. I have now watched for many months a unique-to-me case of an illiterate child growing up. They look just like us. Dress like us. Eat the same food. Drink the same beverages. But when it comes to talking, they exhibit a totally different pattern. Without having been read to in the womb, without having been read to as an infant, without having been read to as a toddler, without having begun to read in kindergarten, without having been reading on their own for the next three years, the illiterate child can only mimic sounds.

Think bird calls or mating calls–nature style.

I suppose in the pre-television/pre-entertainment-on-demand days this might have been an acceptable path to wisdom. But in our day, what this can mean is the child picks the reaction they like best–say laughter–and then begins to mimic or simply repeat the words which the characters uttered which preceded the laughter. Again, think about how a young animal might learn to imitate its parent’s audible warning or mating calls.

The important, and new-to-me, thing that I want to draw attention to is the lack of thinking. At the illiterate level, the child makes noises to obtain desired responses. Maybe crying for food, age-inappropriate jokes for laughter, coughing for a hug, gulping loudly for encouragement–all things that would be missed by a deaf parent.

Even more to the point, the illiterate child can start to use words instead of sounds, but–and don’t miss this–to the child the words are still merely sounds. They are empty words. If another set of words accomplished the desired goal, the illiterate child would use those. For the illiterate child, achieving the desired response is the only thing that matters.

Put inversely, coherence has no place. Truth has no place. Consistency has no place. Particulars have no place.

Again, for the illiterate child, achieving the desired response is the only thing that matters.

There is a flip-side, too. If I’m right, it means that for the literate there is something more in life.

Then Pete and H- Sang On That Day

In three years of Seminary coursework, I never did find myself tasked with the Old Testament book of Judges much. Helping edit a friend’s chapter-a-day devotional emails, I recently have been prompted to read it. And I’ve not been disappointed. It’s like Braveheart, Gladiator, and 300 all rolled into one.

This post is my volley into the C-O-V-I-D-1-9 written commentary foray. Setting the scene a bit, I’d say it’s probably best to picture a large post-NFL game parking lot brawl (or better yet maybe COSTCO at the toilet paper aisle) and some mesomorph man annoyingly jumping in only for cheap shots and then hopping right back out again before some seasoned ignoramus can counter-attack.

Early in the book of Judges, an account begins which involves the rare-to-scripture female protagonist. This Deborah is a prophetess who encourages the military leader, Barak, to fight a war. She then warns him, or advises him, however, that the honor (consequent to winning) will be given to a woman. Skipping ahead in the story, we learn that the defeated, fleeing king, Sisera, thinks he has found safe keeping in the house of a friend–having accepted the invitation of the friend’s wife. Picking up the story there, the Bible records, “But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, ‘Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.’ And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple.”

That’s all interesting, fine, and dandy (reminded me of the antler-to-the-neck in Braveheart). But it’s just the setup. What I want us to focus on is Deborah’s (and Barak’s) celebratory song–or the last part at least. It goes:

Out of the window she looked and lamented,
The mother of Sisera through the lattice,
‘Why does his chariot delay in coming?
Why do the hoofbeats of his chariots tarry?’
Her wise princesses would answer her,
Indeed she repeats her words to herself,
‘Are they not finding, are they not dividing the spoil?
A maiden, two maidens for every warrior;
To Sisera a spoil of dyed work,
A spoil of dyed work embroidered,
Dyed work of double embroidery on the neck of the spoiler?’

Mockery. Blatant, pure, and chilling mockery. Deborah goes two levels deep in her scoff. She doesn’t just mock the dead Sisera’s mother, but adds the consolation that she can imagine the “wise princesses” offering. Cold-blooded stuff.

Which brings us full-circle to the hysteria. Here’s our victory song:

You thought government was god of the universe–God in the flesh.

You thought the government could solve all problems.

You bet hearth and home on the government.

And now you’re buying *extra* toilet paper.

Hahahahahaha.

You don’t even know why!

Hahahahahaha.

And you have to explain it to your kids.

Hahahahahaha.

The look on your kids’ faces is judgement from your maker. They know you’re unhinged. They can’t do math. They can’t read. They wouldn’t know what critical thinking was if it hit them square in the jaw. But they know what too much toilet paper looks like.

Hahahahahaha.

H- said, wide-eyed and earnest, “I hope they buy some plungers too–if they’re going to be flushing all that down the pipes.”

Hahahahahaha.