Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kitten's mommy

I stupidly let Squeak escape March 1 when we moved, and we've been trying to get him back since.  We know where he is, pretty much, and he shows up on camera, but he looks like he will take a deal of catching.

Meanwhile, Gayle wound up with a two-day-old kitten, now a couple of week old, so I've had to become one of her two mommies.  Among other things, new kittens can't pee or poop by themselves.  Mommy has to lick their soft parts to make that happen.  Not my tongue, dear readers, but hot water on my hand and then I have to simulate this maternal action in the morning.  So I get to be thrilled like any mommy when baby pees, and still more when she poops.  I do not receive thanks for this service, only vigorous protest, because, doubtless, I'm not nearly as good at it as mommy was.

She now looks somewhat less like a little rat, and a bit more like a kitten.  Both eyes are now open, and she is starting to prick up her ears.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Update on fight I discussed on Feb 17

This one attracted some comment, so I suppose it deserves an update. 

With a lot of hard work we settled up pretty much in mediation, though technically the mediation failed and we finished up an hour or so after the mediator left.  But we were all done with the real work when she left. 

Administrative Law Judge June Lehrman is an outstanding mediator.

I can't talk about any detail, but I can say that the kid got what he needed, and so did the district.  We didn't either of us get all we wanted.  Sir Mick, as usual in these matters, called it right - "You can't always get what you want."

I like mediation.  You learn a lot about peace-making.  It is an area in which the Office of Administrative Hearings is usually very good. I've only had two bad mediators - both pro-tems - and a couple so-so, but the rest very good to outstanding.  June Lehrman was outstanding.  It was a very tough case for all.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Some say the devil is dead . . .

Some say the devil is dead,
the devil is dead,
the devil is dead.
Some say the devil is dead and buried in Killarney.
More say he rose again,
he rose again,
he rose again.
More say he rose again, and joined the British army.

This little tune was going through my head a couple of day ago as I was leaving a meeting with a famly about a kid who has, in the usual manner, been altogether ripped off.

It's not exacly serious theology!  It's a funny thought, put to a cute tune.  But I did get to thinking.

In fact, as the Irish have known well, the devil has certainly joined the British army, and that's a serious thought.  The devil joins all sorts of armies, pretty much anyone that wants to sign up

Very helpful guy that way.

All we have to do to sign up the devil is to adopt his ways - lying, stealing, killing, and destroying.  Such admiration of these means constitute our true worshsip of Satan.

So the trouble is that we're not just signing the devil up; we're signing up in his army, to be his disciples, no matter what our cause.  The end never justifies the means, because the means always become the ends.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Lust for Power - and Resulting Stupidity

It's commonplace to cite Lord Acton's dictum that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Who can doubt it, as we look around in the world?  But I want to look here at one of my current cases, Rowland Unified School District.

These parents and this school district will never be good friends.  They need a divorce.

Since this arose, they've taken a couple of steps to ensure that we have to defend the family.  The kid is owed 50 minutes a week of speech and language services, so after the IEP meeting the vice principal chose to sit there, and that was fine.  What wasn't fine is that he interfered, chitchatting with the speech and language pathologist (SLP) and keeping the kid from getting the service, which we can prove.

And then they stepped things up, sending an "intern" named Guzman to do the service, supposedly, but actually to ask a lot of nosy questions about the kid's family life and other things which CA Ed Code 51513 forbids them to go into.  It's pretty obvious that Guzman, if that's his name, is a school cop in plain clothes.

So, obviously, the kid can no longer go to school.  It's not safe.

This play for power is pretty stupid, we think, since it requires the parents to keep him out of school and to push back, which we've done so far with a flyer detailing this and other stunts.

Among other things, when we stepped out of the IEP meeting, they promptly yukked it up about how stupid I am, which is fine - I'm better off conceding that point!  But then the SLP began to boast about how she was going to "stalk" me on the internet, and indeed went on to state that she was going to take a couple of kids to "TP" my house.  My house has been toilet-papered before, and was none the worse for wear, so I'm not trembling.  But the proposal was - shall we say? - unprofessional, and for their lawyer to sit there and condone the suggestion was pretty unprofessional too.

Their attorney is quite confident that if we taped these goings on we can't use it because it's forbidden by the Penal Code - 632 is the provision that might apply.  Just as Vladimir Putin is not so far presenting the evidence surely in his possession that MH-17 was in fact shot down by a missile and cannon fire from a Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi-25, I will sit for now on just what evidence we have for these remarkable things. 

Enough for now to point out that this district's insane conduct is driven by their lust for power and domination over the kid and his parents.  A rational calculation would lead them to settle up and be rid of the whole thing, which will be getting a lot worse for them in several ways, the higher cost of fighting being only one of them.  Only their insane need to dominate and bully the family makes them just keep digging deeper.

It does seem proper here to say that if we did get this information by taping without their knowledge, it is in fact a perfectly lawful tape, fully admissible in any proceeding, because Penal Code 632 and its exclusionary rule do not apply - for two reasons:

1. The CA Ed Code provision states than when we give 24 hour notice of taping, then "notwithstanding Penal Code 632," we can tape.  The "Rule of Surplusage" in statutory interpretation holds that "a statute should not be interpreted in a way that renders a word superfluous."  Accordingly, since Penal Code 632 doesn't apply anyway if it's known that you're taping - there's the recorder on the table, and that's why credit card companies tell you on the phone that they're taping - "notwithstanding Penal Code 632" can't mean anything if it applies only when they know they're on Candid Recorder.  It can only mean that taping the meeting without their knowledge when you've given notice that you're taping the meeting does not bring in 632.  If they actually wanted privacy, they could have left the meeting, as we did.

2. Moreover, even if that were not so, the CA 2nd Court of Appeal ruled in Evens v Superior Court in 1999 that 632, and therefore its exclusionary rule, does not apply if it can be expected that the conversation will leave the room.  The Evens court spoke of a classroom, and the expectation that people will talk about it outside.  How about the IEP meeting while we were out?

Clearly the district people in the room when we were out had no expectation that their conversation would not leave the room.  The SLP was going to talk to the kids about TP-ing my house.  The vice principal was going to talk to his boss and others about why he was going to be spending all that time in the room with the SLP.  The lawyer was going to talk to the special ed director and others about the meeting, to shape their plans accordingly.  Anybody in the room that didn't like the unprofessional conduct that she witnessed might have talked to us or someone else.

It's easy to see how stupid the district people are being here, just as it's easy to see how stupid Samson was, or the disciples of Jesus in the gospels.  But the lesson is that just because we don't see ourselves being that stupid doesn't mean it isn't so.  None of these others saw how stupid they were either, when caught up in it.

We see here what it does to your brain cells to be a control freak - and let's learn it well.  But let's not mock!  "Thank you God that I'm not like other men" never ends well.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sanity and madness - it depends on what we do with "Do to others as you want them to do to you"

Summing up his teaching on prayer - how do you talk to God and expect God to listen - Jesus concluded: "Whatever you want men to do to you, do so to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."  In this he was restating Rabbi Hillel with approval, when someone asked him to sum it up when standing on one foot: "Whatever you hate, do not to others.  This is the whole Law.  Now, go study."

It's not for nothing that Jesus and Hillel said that this is the law and the prophets. We blow it off, and we're just insane, which is why the American empire and its people are insane. We go by this rule - the punchline of Jesus's teaching on prayer - and everything comes clear.


Simple example. If Russia spent $5 billion to subvert the government of Canada and install an anti-American regime that wanted to join a military alliance with Russia and China, and post nuclear missiles aimed at the US on its territory, and which attacked, say, British Columbia and killed several thousand people while driving several hundred thousand into Washington and Oregon, what would we expect the US to do about that? What is wrong with Russia doing about it anything up to what we would expect the US to do?

Here's another simple example. Even now, the US population today is not short of people walking around with guns and criss-crossed guts. Some of them blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people, besides other assorted killings over the years. Now let's suppose the People's Liberation Army occupies the United States and installs a Chinese puppet regime in DC - a sectarian regime oriented to minorities that have been shut out in the past, as the US did in Iraq. Let's suppose further that the PLA was routinely killing US civilians, breaking into their homes at 2 AM, raping women, and dragging people off to torture centers, while arming and training black and Latino militias to fight against the resistance of formerly dominant ethnic groups such as white folks, as the US did in Iraq to the formerly dominant Sunnis at the hand of Shi'a militias.

What would happen in the US under such a regime? Would there be shootings, roadside bombs, and suicide bombings - keeping in mind that the very popular movie Independence Day featured a heroic American suicide bomber?

Now if we would think it improper for us to be done this way, what excuse does an American Christian have to think that it's anything but abominable to do it to anyone else? Why should we not expect people to respond as we would?

Monday, January 05, 2015

What counts this year, 2015

Gayle and I were reading Numbers 19 last week, and she was quite frustrated with the subject matter. So she shouted at God, "Why don't you come down and show us what this means?" 

And so it was.  She cried out for understanding, and God gave it to her, just as promised.

Little stuff like this is really essential - in a dismal time, for God to show up once in a while so that that there is no question that this God is as advertised and does come through.  And especially in the sped advocacy work, "Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord."  Which certainly reminds me that in that case I'd best be very honest and upright with everyone, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.  Even if I can win without God being around, and that's hardly likely, it's emptiness.  It's futile.

There's good reason not to look for prosperity in this world this year.

As the new year 2015 comes in, it looks so far much like 2014 only worse.  The 1% will doubtless continue to grab it all for themselves as they have been doing so well with the help of their enablers such as George Bush and Barack Obama.  The fracking bubble and the stock market bubble will go on a while longer, but who knows how long?  All bubbles pop, since the tulip bubble of 1637 on up, but who can tell when?  Can they use that next crash as an excuse to enrich the same thieves as Bush and Obama conspired to do at the end of 2008, or is sovereign debt so much worse now that it won't work that way this time?  Stay tuned.

The evil clowns that govern us are stoking up tensions with Russia over Ukraine.  Maybe they expect the Russians to cave.  Can they be that stupid?  Have they forgotten that Russia endured 20 million dead to stop the Germans, and they expect Russia to knuckle under to some economic pain?  Does anyone think that if Russia, China, or some other hostile power intent on cutting the US down to size contrived to overthrow the Canadian government, installed a neo-Nazi regime, and drove several hundred thousand Canadians into the United States, the United States would let that stand?

Various jurisdictions have made it crystal clear that police officers will not under any circumstances be held accountable when they lynch young black guys on the street for trivial reasons or no reason - and a very large proportion of American white people approve.  How smart is it just now, as the economy approaches another collapse, to show 12% of the population that it is considered subhuman and undeserving of the basic respect due to all human beings?

In addition, several hundred thousand young men have been sent to far-off places to commit bloody crimes, or at least to condone them in others.  They have been traumatized, and when brought back home, have been cheated out of the care they deserve and often dumped on the street.  And these have all been trained in counter-insurgency (and therefore in insurgency), often having guns and definitely knowing how to use them, in an economy that has no use for them.  Have these adventures abroad, and the creation of such a class of men, really been a good idea?

But to me the most alarming thing is not these bad things in the world.  Our most serious problem is the utter apostasy of professing Christians.  That's not new.  The non-negotiable essentials for American Christians, and especially evangelicals, have always been to be conformed to this world, to be respectable in its eyes.  For this reason, American Christianity has always been good at crusading against drunkenness or other things that the world finds disreputable, but whatever the world approves, whether mass murder, imperial violence, white supremacy, or - at the moment, homosexuality - US Christians can never resist.  Thus the disciples of Jesus, professing to be at least, who are called by him the light of the world, never choose to be so, since to be the light always demands that we reject lying and walk in the truth, and that always involves persecution by the darkness, starting with the darkness in ourselves. 

This, as we drift into 2015, is why the darkness is very great, and we are in serious trouble.  My advice to my fellow Christians now is not to be concerned with religious activities, but to make sure that you can call upon the living God and find him in your daily affairs.  In a world of lying, are you capable of recognizing and letting go of your own love of lying in specific ways each day?  And figure that if the world around you doesn't see you doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with your God, then that has not yet happened. 

As others have noted, it's getting to feel in the United States like the last half of the 1850s.  One way or another, difficult times are coming.  Maybe a really thumping economic crash and attendant social turmoil will be delayed through 2015, maybe not.  I'm certainly no good at timing such things.  But it is time to get real.

Desmond Tutu used to say in South Africa that everyone in this country is in favor of change, so long as everything can stay the same.  Well, whatever happens, it's not going to stay the same much longer.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Guest Post - Tim Wise

Tim Wise can't be topped for good sense today, so I make way for him:

Original here, but reproduced below for your convenience.  A Christian will be reminded that Jesus didn't get nailed on wood for being nice:


This past week, Chris Rock noted in an interview that although racism remained a real and persistent problem, he was glad to see that America is now producing the nicest white people in its history.

Perhaps. But if so, this only suggests the pitiable limits of niceness and its utter irrelevance for the production of something approaching justice, or for that matter even insight. And if so, it may merely signify how far we had to come out of the pit of whatever one takes the opposite of nice to be: mean, nasty, cruel, selfish, and so on. In short, it’s pretty thin gruel in the pantheon of praise, however sincerely Rock may have meant it.

One can be perfectly nice, after all, and still fail to see that which is right before you, staring at you from the computer screen as you watch Eric Garner killed on the streets of Staten Island with an illegal chokehold. The officer who applied that pressure to Garner’s neck might himself be “nice” in the sense that he is kind to old people, babies and animals. Likewise, the grand jury that decided yesterday not to indict him for any crime might well have been filled with nice people, who send get-well cards to sick friends and relatives, participate in Secret Santa at work and volunteer at the local food bank. And what of it? Their niceness did not, clearly, provide them with the gift of comprehension, as they managed to watch an officer kill a man who posed no threat to him whatsoever—no reaching for his gun, even in some paranoid fever dream, no charging him like a bull, or as Darren Wilson put it to justify his killing of Mike Brown, like “a demon.” Their niceness came laced with nothing so helpful as empathy as they watched a man choked to death, gasping for air, all because he had been selling loose cigarettes on the street and dared to tell the officers to leave him alone when they decided to harass him for that most serious of crimes.

Their niceness, however real it may be in some abstract sense, means nothing. It will neither bring Eric Garner back nor prevent the deaths of more just like him. So too, I suspect there may be at least a few nice white folks on that grand jury outside of Akron that refused to indict the officer who killed John Crawford a few months ago in the Walmart there. Among their number may well have been at least a few white folks, for instance, who have nursed a wounded bird back to health or taken soup to a shut-in. But from this possibility, we are supposed to conclude what, exactly? Perhaps only this: that nice people can watch cold blooded murder on video—a video that completely contradicts what the officer said about the incident, and also gives the lie to the claims of the possibly nice white man who first alerted police to Crawford’s presence in the store—and still see nothing at all in the way of a crime. Clearly whatever part of the brain controls niceness is not remotely connected to one’s optic nerve, so let us at least make note of this for future reference.


So too, the cop who killed 12-year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland and then lied about it—a lie we can all be quite sure of because that killing too is on tape—might well have once adopted a rescue pet, or donated $500 to a women’s shelter, or coached little league and treated his players well, even when they struck out with the bases loaded, thereby costing the team the big game. And those who will seek to rationalize that killing (and oh yes, there are plenty who do), might be nicer than say, a sadist like Bull Connor, or Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam—the killers of Emmett Till, for whom the word nice would have been scarcely appropriate—and yet, again, one wonders about the value of such an accolade in times like this? That many whites are nicer today than those who regularly strung black men up from trees is an incredibly low peg upon which to hang one’s hat. And let us not forget, even those white men had wives who quite nicely, one suspects, made sweet tea and chicken salad for the lynchings perpetrated by their husbands. No, nice is less than meaningless.

In fact, I’m starting to wonder if nice might actually be the problem.

Nice is like a set of noise canceling headphones, which disallows those possessed of it from hearing the cries of others suffering under the weight of injustice. Nice is precious, nice is content, and nice does not want to hear of pain. Niceness cannot brook anguish because anguish disturbs the sleep of the just.

Nice is like one of those aromatherapy masks you can get at a day spa. It slips right over the eyes and lulls you into a state of relaxation with the pleasant aroma of lavender. Nice is a soothing massage, a warm cup of tea, or Enya.

Nice is the blue pill from the Matrix—the one Morpheus offers to Neo, which Neo does not take but most white folks have—and which allows us to remain oblivious to the world and how that world is being experienced by those who have had no choice but to ingest the red pill, simply so as to understand what the hell is happening in their own lives.

Nice is the enemy of justice because to raise one’s voice against oppression is to be instantly pegged as not nice, as disruptive, as unruly, as dangerous. To block traffic, or interfere with the all-important Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center is not nice. To interrupt the symphony orchestra in St. Louis, or the drunken revelry of nice white baseball fans at a Cardinals game is not nice. To signify sympathy for a murdered young man in Ferguson, with even a gesture as simple as raising one’s hands as you come out of the tunnel before the football game is not nice. It is, to some—who would rather just watch black men entertain them with a few nice interceptions—worthy of punishment, or professional discipline. How dare they, say the nice white people who paid good money to see black men play gladiator for the glory of the hometown team.

Nice people change nothing. They never have and they never will. Those who are nice are so invested in their niceness, in their sense of propriety and civility that they rarely raise their voices above a whisper, even in the face of sweltering oppression. Nice white people were the ones who didn’t own black folks during the period of enslavement but also didn’t raise their voices against the ones who did. Nice white people are the ones who didn’t spit on sit-in demonstrators but also had no problem spending money with businesses that had remained segregated all those years.

To be nice is to have an emotional stake in the prevention of one’s own pain. Nice people don’t like to look at the ugly. It’s upsetting, and most of all because it puts us on the hook and calls forth our humanity to actually put an end to that pain. Precisely because most people are good and decent and nice, they turn away from any evidence that the world, and their society is less decent than the sum total of its citizenry. It’s too much to take in. This is the irony of niceness: unlike persons with antisocial personalities or severe sociopathy who quite enjoy pain and suffering and often seek to cause it, those who are nice are so wrapped up in rainbows and lollipops as to make gazing upon the truth a bridge too far.


Nice people do not protest, angry people do; and right now, I’d trade every nice white person about whom Chris Rock was speaking for 100,000 angry ones. But not those who are angry at black folks or brown immigrants or taxes—we have more than enough of them. I mean 100,000 who are angry enough at a system of racial injustice to throw ourselves upon the gears of the machine, as Mario Savio once insisted. A hundred thousand angry enough to join with our brothers and sisters of color and say enough. A hundred thousand who are tired of silence, tired of collaboration, tired of nice, and ready for justice.

In short, and though I know it won’t strike you as, well, nice: fuck nice. And if you’re more disturbed about my language here than the death of black men at the hands of police, then know that you are the problem, and you’ve made it clear what side you’re on. It will not be forgotten.

Tim Wise is an antiracism educator and author of six books on race and racism. His website is www.timwise.org and he tweets @timjacobwise