Occupy Nightmare

Gauging the increasing vertical wind shear with his famous Cockatoo comb over, Donald J. Trump looked me straight in the eye and asked, “If you are elected President of the United States, what measures would you take to wipe out our national debt?”

He had decided to hold presidential debates at Zuccotti Park, following the swimsuit competition in Iowa, because the rest of the country was besieged with political sex scandals, embarrassing gaffes, and unimpressed voters. Protest signs in the Park displayed pictures of the Grand Old Party (GOP) candidates and a single word that reflected the general consensus of the crowd, given the choices – “Meh!”

The political yammer was now between me and an ex-hooker from the Bronx; the wind shear developing perpendicular to The Donald.



Photo: Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Wikipedia
“Two strategies come to mind that I believe will reduce the pork fat while simultaneously wiping out our national debt:

First, while outsourcing has become a popular way for large companies to save money, poor states like Delaware have been overlooked. A man working at a factory job in New York earns twice as much as a man doing the same job in Dover, Delaware, where the pay is equivalent to salaries paid in Beijing, China. I suggest that more companies be given a stimulus to outsource work to other companies in underdeveloped cities across America. The product could then be labeled properly ‘Made in America,’ and everyone would be happy, including the poor fellow bent over in Dover, who will be appreciative and vote for me in November.”

The crowd cheered loudly. Ten fellows, who were holding dollar bills for my opponent, gave them to my campaign manager instead. He put them under his Hello Kitty belt buckle.

“Second, I would advise the slugs in Congress to consolidate. States like Rhode Island with only four electoral votes can be easily merged into States like Massachusetts, which has 13; Vermont can go to New York; New Hampshire to Maine; and so forth, until we evolve into an economic Godzilla. Then, we can go overseas and stomp on China for pirating, bootlegging, and violating US copyright and trademark laws. We should then be able to raise about $17 trillion just on the booty that we find in Shanghai.”

More cheers and shouting came from the crowd. Even my opponent was shaking her booty.

Someone started to shake me.

“Wake up, wake up!” my paramour shouted. “Were you having a nightmare?”

Utterly disappointed that the whole experience was based on an underdone potato, I asked the typical morning after question, “What did I say?”

“You were screaming something about not getting 10,000 signatures for the Dover ballot.”

“Was that before or after I invented the GOP drinking game ‘Webster Says “Newt” Means Salamander’?”

Zero Tolerance Bullying Withers Under Scrutiny

Zero Tolerance is a festering mold that’s destroyed when its putrid nature is exposed to the disinfecting power of the sun.

We saw that festering mold destroyed this past week here in Central Indiana, after an outrageous suspension of more than 50 high school students was lifted, following protests, laser-guided media scrutiny, and national mockery of the situation.

This past Tuesday, in the town of Clayton, west of Indianapolis, six Cascade High School students were suspended after a prank of decorating their school with 11,000 Post-It Notes the previous night.Post-It Notes fill Cascade high school door

District superintendent Patrick Spray, who has apparently forgotten what it was like to be in high school, was outraged — OUTRAGED! — that students would pull such a prank. So he suspended the kids, including the valedictorian, salutatorian, and senior class president, for trespassing, entering the school without permission, and for being unsupervised while on school grounds.

Actually that’s not true, said the students. They got permission and a key from a school board member, who’s also one of the students’ mother. And they were supervised by a school janitor, who’s also the mother of one of the students.

Oh really? said Spray, and then fired the janitor, Kim Rouse.

Dude, it’s Post-It Notes. It’s 11,000 Post-It Notes that the kids paid for themselves. They even made sure to pull a prank that wouldn’t damage school property. It sounds like he was just upset because he looked like an idiot when the kids pointed out that they never actually violated those rules.

The following day, after 57 more students peacefully protested the suspensions, Spray realized he overstepped his bounds and behaved irrationally, so he apologized to everyone, and promised Rouse she could have her job back.

Just kidding. He suspended every protestor. And with 460 students in the high school, Spray — an education professional who probably uses phrases like “disrupting the educational process” — disrupted the educational process of more than 10 per cent of his students, thus ensuring the rest of the school wouldn’t pay attention either.

Even on my best day as a fourth grader, I could only disrupt the educational process of 20 other kids. This guy managed to do it to an audience 23 times the size of mine with slightly less dramatic histrionics. Trés impressive.

Because if there’s one lesson we want to teach our children, it’s that the only way you can assert your power is to be a petty little tyrant who throws a big hissy fit when he’s made to look like a bigger idiot than he was the day before.

But bullies, like festering molds, cannot stand the harsh sunlight of public scrutiny and awareness. And as the outrage grew, and a lot of media people and concerned parents began to ask a lot of uncomfortable questions — like “Really?” and “Don’t you think that’s a bit much?” — Spray backtracked, and lifted the suspension of the Post-It Six. He also removed the suspension from their academic records, and they were allowed to return to class.

He was originally going to reduce the suspension of the remaining protestors from two days to one, and let them serve it during school. But by Thursday, Spray said he would vacate their suspensions as well, and the suspensions would not be placed on their academic records either.

Do you remember that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when Principal Rooney was facing complete and utter failure to catch Bueller skipping school, and instead had to ride the bus home with a bunch of mouth-breathing kids?

Yeah, I’ll bet it was kind of like that for Spray. I can’t imagine the bitterness he had to swallow when he met with the concerned parents who thought he was a bullying little tyrant overstepping the bounds of decency and sanity.

Spray has said he will still recommend to the board that they fire Kim Rouse, the janitor, but from all reports, the board has indicated they won’t go along with that, which will be one more feather in Spray’s Big Cap O’ Failure.

While all hindsight is 20/20, it looks like Spray should have just forced a grudging smile, lectured the kids about respect for property, and let them clean up the mess, like they originally offered. Then none of this would have ever happened.

Instead, for the next several years, Patrick Spray will be remembered as the Zero Tolerance despot who was beaten by a small group of thoughtful, committed high school kids who did the one thing that many schools still don’t teach:

To stand up to bullies on behalf of those who can’t.

Schools Cancel Bake Sales, Fun

School after school are overstepping their bounds, interfering in people’s personal lives and liberties, practicing the dark art of behalfism.

Behalfism is when a small vocal group tries to speak on behalf of another group that really doesn’t want or need it.

In this case, schools are canceling their bake sale fund raisers, because administrators are concerned about childhood obesity. According to a recent story on National Public Radio, schools are so concerned about childhood obesity, they think that if they can cancel their once-a-year bake sale, they can somehow overcome it. In fact, schools in California, Texas, and New York are limiting bake sales to only healthy food.

Collection of cakes

Aww, I can't stay mad at you.

Because if there’s one thing parents want to buy to help their child’s school, it’s a low-fat vinaigrette salad and organic gluten-free organic soy milk muffins. With raisins.

Before I go on, let me say that I recognize the seriousness of childhood obesity. I’m not “for” it, or arguing that it’s not a problem. I believe kids should go outside and play, not eat junk food, and limit their TV and video game time. So I believe it’s serious.

But I don’t think one bake sale a year, where parents will buy one cake or one plate of cookies, is going to result in obese children.

What I do object to is when the very group of of people that cancel a bake sale to keep kids from getting fat also cut PE classes and recess, which also kept kids from getting fat. While most schools still have PE classes and recess, many of them are reducing the amount of time they last, and are not allowing kids to ride their bikes or walk to and from school.

When I was a kid, we had two recesses a day, PE class two to three times a week, and I rode or walked to school nearly every day. There were no rules about riding or walking (not like the schools where I live), gym was considered an important part of our education, and we played outside without any rules against running or playing certain types of games.

It’s rather disingenuous of a school to cancel a bake sale in the name of childhood obesity, when they also eliminated and overturned the opportunities for the kids to get exercise.

“Oh, but the kids can exercise at home,” say the childhood obesity behalfists. “The parents should be encouraging their kids to play and get exercise.”

Yes, they should. They should also be the ones to tell their kids not to eat an entire cake or plateful of cookies. The schools either need to butt completely out of kids’ personal lives, or they need to be completely involved. They can’t pick and choose based on the hot button issue of the day.

When you look at the number of times parents take their kids to McDonald’s, let them play video games for three hours a day, and don’t let them play organized sports because they’re worried their precious snowflakes might get hurt, I don’t think an extra piece of cake is going to do much harm. It’s a veritable drop in the lard bucket, and they’ll be no worse off than they were beforehand.

On the other hand, the kids whose parents actually make them eat healthy food and play can afford to let their kids have a once-in-a-while dessert, even if said dessert is not made with wheat germ, low-fat yogurt, and carob.

What makes matters worse is that these bake sales are a direct benefit to the schools that sponsor them. According to the NPR story, a school in Maryland was able to generate $25,000 in sales, while a New York mom usually raised $50,000 through bake sales.

That’s enough to pay a PE teacher’s salary to get all the fat kids outside running around for 30 minutes a day to work off the piece of cake and the Big Mac they had at dinner the night before.

If a school wants to get involved in whole child growth and development, which is the argument for sticking their fingers in their students’ pies, then they need to do two things: 1) teach the kids that dessert, like anything else, should be consumed in moderation; and, 2) they should use the money raised from a proper bake sale to fund more physical activities, which will teach the kids physical wellness.

Until then, school officials need to find a new way to raise the lost funds. Maybe a casino night with a cash bar.

Photo credit: tannazie (Flickr, Creative Commons)