Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Adopt a Homeless person

 

As I ride along all the outdoor restaurants resembling greenhouses in the cool autumn chill, I wonder how long outdoor dining will continue.  Today the city will begin indoor food service but with 25%
capacity, the restaurants will have to continue their outdoor dining to make ends meet. 

At the same time, I heard on NPR that DeBlasio has caved into the UWS wealthy lawyered-up contingent and removed over 300 homeless residents from the hotels turned shelters in that neighborhood. 

This is where everyday math comes in!

Here is the equation in the form of a word problem:

NYC restaurants are struggling.  Nearly 10,000 restaurants (documented which means more in the outer boroughs) have set up an oasis of outdoor dining. 

+
Soon the temperatures will start dipping below 40 degrees and the posh well to do neighborhoods especially will continue outdoor seating with heat lamps.

+

The homeless population will continue to be tossed around by the city from shelters to hotels and end back up on the streets, where it will continue to get colder and colder.

UWS neighborhoods do not like their hotels being used as shelters because they bring crime and drug use.

+

1 in 10 NYC public school students are homeless.

Most people would agree (even people who don't like homeless people in their neighborhood) that children need homes (or at least a safe warm place to sleep) in order to do well in school.

=

The city should create a program where restaurants can "adopt" a homeless family.  Where after the restaurants close at 8 or 9pm, they take in a homeless family until the next morning.  They would feed the family with left over food that would normally get pitched and give them a warm place to sleep outdoors. The city would give the restaurants huge tax breaks and pay them for every family they house.

The families would be registered and background checked, etc...and have protection from the cold, food insecurities and storage for their belongings during the day. 

People need to get creative with problem solving...

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Fantasy Non-Fiction of Steinbeck

 

We just returned from a week of "camping".  I put camping in quotes because it was not camping in the truest sense.  We were car camping, sometimes pitching tents on friend's parent's summer home's yards.  We had lovely drives though on uncongested highways and back roads, stopping at Amish farm stands, and all the while I read my book club pick out loud to my fellow travelers for entertainment, since we were never organized enough to download any media for the ride.  

So after almost a year of being in a book club, it was finally my turn to pick a book!  I initially chose Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was a book I'd been wanting to read for a long time...but since the libraries were not open and the book has a total of 588 pages, it was nixed and so I searched for another shorter book, with lighter summer reading on my mind.  At the same time, I was putting together Hiro's summer reading list, combing through, library lists, and Hunter High School lists of the past, and somehow, all the lists became jumbled up in my mind, and thus John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley was chosen.   

So as I read this genre I call Fantasy Non-Fiction, I had my own rambling thoughts on traveling, subtitled: Travels with Harley: reconfirming the shithole country that we call America.  (btw, Steinbeck's travel book is a fantasy for anyone who is not a white male.  There is no way anyone but a white male could have traveled in this manner back in 1960, rambling leisurely along in a truck, no matter what type of dog you had as a companion. And this guy's research  and subsequent book, found Steinbeck's book to be fiction as he retraced his route in a Toyota Rav4-which coincidentally is our car)

Steinbeck's book was published in 1962, and in a sense, he already saw the shithole-ness of what was happening to our country: the necessity for trailer park living, greed, planned obsolescence, death of cities, and overall trashing of the environment by people disguising it as progress.   We saw this everywhere we went.  In one camp site, we were the only ones in an actual tent.  Everyone else was in huge trailers, hooking up their RVs to every imaginable "luxury" of electricity possible.  Just 3 hours outside of NYC we passed signs put up by delusional people that said things like "GUN OWNERS FOR TRUMP!" and "Trump 2020, make America Great".  I did see one huge banner on a farmhouse that said "Biden: Truth overLies", which made me a bit hopeful.

But the most depressing part about our trek out in nature was that there was no nature. Not the type of peaceful , secluded, at one with Nature, nature.   I was on my Travels with Harley: in Search of Nature.  You cant go for 15 minutes these days without hearing man made noise, no matter where you are.  At our first campsite, as the 10pm curfew wound down the sounds of drinking, radios and streamed tv, we could still hear the rumbling of 18 wheelers tumbling down the highway.  And everywhere we went, even in the most remote areas, there was plastic.  At a campsite in the Adirondacks, as we looked for kindling, I picked up a usb flash drive, broken plastic bits of packaging, plastic wrap, etc.  When we went swimming in Schroon lake, Hiro got a plastic splinter in his hand.  On another day, when we went canoeing, we saw styrofoam cooler bits and plastic bags tangled up in the marsh, and nearby on a seemingly deserted shore, we saw a solitary loon dying.  We were not innocent either.  No matter how much we tried to adhere to the "You bring it in, you pack it out" rule, bits of refuse still fell out of pockets, a plastic cup blew out of our canoe and as we tried to retrieve it, it just sank, and no matter how much we tried to contain our litter, we seemed to be guilty of not leaving with everything we came into the woods with. 


Friday, July 17, 2020

Black Teachers Matter

As I impose the 39th week of school- aka Summer Home School, I am thinking a lot about remote learning.  As the school chancellor and his minions said last night in a technically challenged info session, no one knows what fall will really look like. Parents are being asked to make decisions about remote learning versus hybrid instruction without having any information to make these decisions.

But I solder on and force my kid to stay engaged with some type of instruction and other kids while we shelter in place before embarking on our next camping trip.  So far in addition to his regularly scheduled violin lessons (which sadly replaced the Suzuki institute in the woods) he has:

  • History of Composers (taught by his private violin teacher through BkCM)
  • Vote For Me! A free course on the workings of our political system through Varsity Tutors
  • Puzzling With Pythagoras- A 2 day fun math class  through Outschool
  • STEAM: Activism and Wireframing and Coding course sponsored by MoCADA.
  • SCAMP! = SCHOOL AND CAMP ROLLED INTO ONE: taught by an artist friend
Am I a tiger mom?  Probably...Well actually I'm making him take these courses so I can get my own work done, preparing to teach remotely this fall.  I don't lurk while he is "in class", but what I've noticed in passing is the stark difference of instruction between face to face school instruction and these new Zoom classrooms.  

The biggest difference is that there are black teachers and a diverse student make-up.  Of the five classes, he has three black instructors, and in one class, not only is he the only Asian student, he is the only non-black student.  He has NEVER had a black teacher in his 6 years of public school, which if you think about it, is disgraceful really.  Thinking back, the only teacher of color he's had were Asian ELA and Math teachers, and a black interim social worker who he never saw. We have a pretty segregated school system in New York City.  It took Zoom to create parity.  

Looking further back at my own K-12 education, my hazy memory can only name one black teacher- and she wasn't even a subject teacher, but my cheerleading squad coach.  WTF!.....oh and there is my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Jaworski, who I didn't regard as a teacher of color but see her only as the best teacher ever.  This is back when St. Louis decided to desegregate schools by bussing  black kids from the city to the white suburbs;  just the kids, not any teachers.  No white kids and teachers were bussed into the city, thereby making it a half-assed desegregation theory...

It is so important to have teachers of color, especially in the current awakening of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Yes, Black lives have mattered, and have since... always, but how can we teach our kids this, if they don't know any black teachers to look up to? I see my kid being exposed to different styles of teaching through these online classes and I'm also reminded of the inequity of the school system.

I've been preparing for my fall classes, and soon I'll be facilitating Remote teaching workshops to Faculty.  The scramble to remote teaching and learning back in March was a reality-check for those who have been using the old methods of Lecture based teaching.  Because faculty were so freaked out and needing new methods to use in an online platform, remote teaching started a much needed conversation about Equity, Inclusion, Diversity and Universal Design when it comes to student/teacher interaction.  We are now discussing trauma based instruction- a concept that would have been laughed out of the room if it came up 10 years ago.  Some, if not most, faculty who have been teaching for decades never had to think about these issues but now is forefront in every conversation. We are starting from ground zero through Zoom teaching.
 
This is why remote learning is a valuable instruction method, as we reflect on what we have been doing wrong and how to do it better.  I'm not saying we should all be remote 100% in the fall, but just saying that we should be using this technology to even the educational playing field.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Remote-Hybrid-Outdoor-with stadium seating.

We just returned from our "workcation", where we spent a week digging ditches, weeding, and roughing it in a tent with no plumbing.  We returned to discussions of will NYC Public  Schools open?  And it's not looking good....
I also went on my first bike ride since our return, and rode first, past lots of bars and restaurants creating outdoor spaces, some makeshift lots consisting of random pallets and traffic cones, and others much more elaborate with plants and matching decor.    


Then I continued on my Western bike loop around Flushing Meadows and Laguardia Airport and thought of an "outside the box"  idea about school...  Since Covid is transmitted primarily indoors in crowded spaces for prolonged amounts of time, why not take schools outdoors? As I rode past Citi Field, I wondered what is the seating capacity of that huge empty space? 


Answer: Citi Field capacity= 41,922

And that's just the seats in the bleachers, so if you set up seats on the field, a few schools could occupy a huge outdoor space like that until at least mid October when it starts getting cold.

Here are the numbers for other outdoor spaces which are currently not being used at least until the end of the year as most sporting events have been canceled: 
Arthur Ashe capacity = 23,771
Yankee Stadium capacity = 54,251
Icahn Stadium capacity = 5000
Forest Hills Stadium capacity = 14,000
MCU Stadium (Coney Island) capacity= 7,000

New York City is also a place full of parks and green spaces.  Here are the list of the largest public parks by size:
Pelham Bay Park, Bronx= 2,772 acres
Greenbelt, Staten Island = 2,316 acres
Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx= 1,146 acres
Flushing Meadows Park, Queens= 897 acres
Central Park, Manhattan = 843 acres
Freshkills Park, Staten Island = 813 acres
Marine Park, Brooklyn = 798 acres
Bronx Park, Bronx = 718 acres
Alley Pond Park, Queens = 655 acres
Forest Park, Queens = 544 acres.

and in addition to all these parks, every neighborhood has playgrounds and public parks that could easily be utilized- all with water fountains and bathrooms (probably cleaner than most middle school bathrooms according to Hiro).  If restaurants and bars can construct outdoor seating for 10-20 people within a matter of days, I don't see why the DOE couldn't do the same. 

There was a movement for creating schools in the great outdoors that began in Wisconsin in the 1920's and never really took off.  The children in younger grades can really benefit from learning outdoors, and as we dive more and more into technology, something this radical could be a refreshing change.  Perhaps we can rethink what education is and instead of adding more technology and hand sanitizers to the mix, retreating back to washing our hands with soap and water and engaging with nature could get our kids back to learning about what really matters.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Blurring Race

The first time I read "Snowy Day" to my kid, I thought- what a lovely simple story about snow falling in Brooklyn.  The second time I read it, I noted that the main character, Peter is a black boy and how the story had nothing to do with his race, which is one of the many reasons that this Ezra Jack Keats book is beloved by all, and even the post office made the snowy exploits of Peter into postage stamps.

I don't know why I thought it was Brooklyn, but the illustrations were so soothing, even when the children got into a snowball fight, and life seemed so sweet and simple. When the only conflicts and mysteries of life came from the disappearing of a snowball from his pocket. I must have read this book to Hiro a thousand times.

I always assumed that Ezra Jack Keets was black. He grew up in East New York. Even when he had a retrospective at the Jewish Museum, it did not dawn on me that he was not black.  Even when I saw a photo of him, I was still convinced that he was black.  There are black Jews right? The pictures we create in our minds with ingrained prejudices are hard to break.  But does it really matter if the author of all those books about Peter and Archie and Amy and Suzie and all the pets were black, or white or Jewish or not?

We live in Woodside Queens, where our next-door neighbors are Irish on one side, and on the other side is a Bhutanese Snooker Hall Bar and Restaurant. Also on our block are Mexican, Black, Columbian, Korean, Chinese, Greek, Italian, and Filipino families as well as families consisting of mixtures of several races and cultures.  As an Asian person, when I first moved into the neighborhood, I got spoken to in Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalong, and Japanese, when I entered stores and restaurants.  Every culture just assumed I was one of them, and immediately spoke to me in their mother tongue.  And even now, I cannot often tell a Columbian person apart from a Korean person, nor does it really matter. This is what a melting pot does, it blends and blurs racial markers and makes them irrelevant so we can see the uniqueness of every individual.

Hiro also makes colorblind assumptions. He thinks a classmate who has a white father and a Hispanic mother is Chinese because she is taking Mandarin classes...because why else would some kid be forced to take a language that was not her mother tongue?  He also thinks that an Indian classmate is Black because she has dark-ish skin.  I wonder if this colorblindness promotes raising an anti-racist kid, or the opposite?  The great thing about Ezra Jack Keats' images is that they seem so ordinary and that childhood "should" look like that. By sharing these books with children, the construct of a blended race neighborhood becomes ordinary. Black children and white children are in a world where a black teacher is in charge of a pet show, though if you were to watch the news these days, this seems like a fabrication from a children's book author's imagination.

The Game: 
Slow Looking with Peter
 
The Pet Show

I introduced this game a few weeks ago at our Family Friday cocktail hour, with this image by Ezra Jack Keats, after reading the Slow Looking books.  The goal was to get people to look closely and carefully at something and though a Zoom game session with drinks may not have been the perfect setting, it did slow down our time together to create pockets of interesting conversation. At one point, someone commented that a group of adults has probably never stared at this image for so long, which was probably true. 

It can be played in a Museum, through Zoom or anywhere.

Players: 2+

Age: old enough to be able to write the alphabet.

The Gear: an image of some type, pencil/pen, and paper, timer.

The set up: 
If you are playing from home with people in the room with you, find an image from a book or magazine.
If you are playing virtually with others on Zoom: find an image on your computer and share the screen so everyone can see it.
If you are in a Museum (do you remember those?), find a work of art everyone agrees on and sit in front of it. (I really miss going to museums even though most of them symbolize white looting...but anyway ....)

To start: write the alphabet vertically on the left side of your paper. Set a timer for 15 minutes or however long you want to play.  Ideally, pick a time and double it or add 10 minutes to the initial time, long enough so that your mind starts to wander. The point is to look at the image longer than you think you can.
When the timer starts, look at the image and write down things you see that start with every letter of the alphabet. 

The objective: 
You want to find things and write down items that seem obvious that everyone else might see.

Point system: If you want to do this as a meditative activity, you don't need to keep score.  But since everything is a competition in our house these days, after the timer goes off, take turns and report what everyone wrote down.  You get one point for every item that others also wrote down.  For example, if for the letter "A" you wrote down "Afro" and 3 other people also wrote down "Afro", you all get 4 points.  The object is to try to be in unison, not to be unique and cleaver. The goal is empathetic looking.
Everyone keeps their own score and is played on the honor system.

What was fascinating about looking for things that started with tricky letters was that several people saw things that were not there.  For example, for the letter T, three or four people saw a Turtle, which does not exist in the painting.  All four said the green hat on the boy who is popping his head into the frame on the left side was a turtle.  Or you really had to look at the picture's narrative to understand what was going on.  Both Philip and I said "Itch" for the letter I- what the boy on the left was doing.  

Friday, June 26, 2020

Do the Math

I was sitting at my desk,  Zoom-working when I heard from the other room;
"Ugh, guess what the idiot said now!?"

So I yelled back:
"I don't even want to know- but ok what did Trump say?"

Reading from the paper, Hiro continues, "the idiot has made five dozen false claims about mail balloting since April"

DO THE MATH- I suggest- so after looking at the calendar and counting how many days have elapsed since April, Hiro announces that the idiot has lied at least once a day since April .  And that's just lies about the Post office mind you!

The Math looks like this
12 days in a dozen
5 dozen x12= 60
30(ish) days in a month
2 months have elapsed
60 divided by 60 
=
one lie a day about mail in ballots.
_______________________________________________
***
I've been working on a games book for kids for a while (as some of you already know).  Most of these word games were originally written to be played on train or bus commutes with your kid but now that we are sequestered in our homes and staying away from public transportation, I've been rethinking these games.  The following used to be the preface to the Math games section:

I teach in an art school. Two actually—I’m an adjunct.  Many of my students hate math. That’s why they are in art school, where SAT scores do not determine their futures. But then, I teach them how to make stuff. I teach them how to make stuff stand up and sometimes hold not only its own weight, but an external weight. They get scared because deep down inside, when they have to make something that is constructed out of a rectangular cube or a truss system out of equilateral triangles, they know math is somehow involved.

 

I have to build their confidence. First, I tell them that in high school, I was good at math and could have gone all the way through AP Calculus if I hadn’t been a slacker. I understood the concepts hiding in the Pythagorean triangles, but what is the point of proving that a shape that is obviously a triangle to be a triangle. I found geometry class to be asinine. I think my students relate better to someone who got a C+ in Geometry than a math whiz. Then I share that what I’ve learned in all these years of teaching is that being good at math is more than knowing equations and memorizing tables. It’s more important to comprehend the world spatially, to be able to recognize patterns. If you play music, you intrinsically understand fractions. If you can read a map, you understand coordinates. If you wait tables, you understand the value of money and calculating percentages. This is what math is. These games will hopefully teach these same lessons and be fun to play as you navigate around the city with your child.

__________________________________________________________

This is a game from that chapter:


The Math Curse

Our New Common Core Math has joined real estate and restaurants as one of the top subjects of party conversation for parents of public school students. No matter what grade your child is in—even kindergarten! —you will have to learn to do a lot of ridiculous word problems in a workbook called Go Math or something similar. This is where Common Core really enters your world. The week my son brought home the Go Math workbook was the same week we discovered Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s book The Math Curse.

 

From the same wacky pair who created The Stinky Cheese Man, The Math Curse uses humor to tackle the serious subject of math and entice children to focus on the trickiest of equations. The book’s fictional narrative begins when the math teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci, tells a young boy that “almost everything can be thought of as a math problem.” Thus begins the “math curse.” Mathematical questions are disguised in history, art, P.E., and even how to divide birthday cupcakes. Smith’s masterpiece of layout and design enhances Scieszka’s story. It uses surreal, collage-like illustrations combined with a dizzying variety of fonts to create diagrams, charts, and multiple-choice quizzes with the answers as silly as the questions. This smart and entertaining book is for every child who dreads math, and every parent frustrated by Common Core.

 

***

And here is another from that chapter specifically written to be played on trains:

Everyday Math

 

I was six when I moved to this country from Japan and I fit the stereotype: pigtailed with crooked teeth, bespectacled, brainy, and ahead in math by at least three grades. This was back in the day when you could excel with numbers even if you didn’t know how to speak, read, or write in English. Recently, I asked one of my Chinese students who had come to this country during high school as an exchange student if she was ahead in math when she entered high school here. She said she wasn’t. I realized then that the new math being taught in American schools is not the same as the math I grew up with. Now math is a whole new monster that has to be mastered through the English language. Math is not about memorizing numbers, tables, or equations. Math is dependent on how well you can read. This new emphasis on literacy puts math in the context of the everyday world. This game builds on that concept.



***

So now that we are avoiding going outside to find math equations, I've been looking at the newspaper where you can make-up thousands of games you can play with your kid. Just the number of lies told in one day can probably be contained in a math workbook for the entirety of a Go Math workbook. 

***
Another idea would be to make a math workbook focusing on social change with word problems using the messed up history of our country. An example problem might look like this:

Number of slaves kidnapped from Africa
and shipped to the US (between 1620-1866)
=472,381
Number of  slaves in the US (according to the 1860 census) 
= 3,953,762
Cotton made up 60% of the US export 
equal to $200 million a year (in the years leading up to the Civil War) 
Which equals $6,178,048,192. in today's amount.

How much back pay (in dollars) would each slave be owed today?
***

And finally...
The following graphs on current Covid cases caught my eye this morning:




Just at first glance the number of new corona cases seem pretty equal between Georgia, Illinois and New York.  However if you look at the numbers on the left, Georgia's cases is counted in 1,000 person increments, while Illinois is counted in 4,000 and New York in 10,000.  I'm not sure if this was an issue of space in the paper, but really they should have put all of the states on one graph to really show the proportion per state. 

So here's a Math exercise for the weekend: Change the numerical increments of new cases to 100 people per state, change the color of each state and overlay them on top of one another.  This could be an art project as well... full on STEAM ahead!



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

MASKS & BEARDS

As we begin the second phase of continuing to spread the virus, I'm surprised more companies have not begun selling masks in full force.  So far, we have the home made ones from March, the white masks given out by cops at Gantry State Park now with sharpie doodles so it doesn't look like we have diapers on our faces,  and I just ordered some Hunter High School masks to support the PTA.  

People are obviously dying due to a virus but yet, some refuse to wear masks in public...like the Asshole squatting in the White House.  Are they so vein that covering half of their faces makes them feel oppressed? I would rather see less of these people's faces.   There are historical, cultural presidents of face covering and most all of them involve hiding women, so it's about time these people of privilege start covering their faces as they sip tropical drinks through their plastic straws.  Western countries have tried and some have succeeded in banning face coverings, citing women's rights as a disguise for xenophobia. 

Hiro read a book titled "The Breadwinner" in fifth grade, and we just watched an animated film based on it.  The story takes place in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule where women had to be covered and could not leave the house without a male relative escort.  The 11 year old protagonist named Pavarna cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy so she can work to save her family.  Ironically, the veil that hides her from the Taliban is the absence of long hair and putting on the mask of confidence of a boy.   Men also had to follow strict facial covering laws, and were required to grow beards of a certain length, and if they did not abide by these rules, could be punished harshly. So if any women wanted to go out, they needed to be escorted by a bearded male.  It's also sad to note another parallel I read about a few weeks back, where an adult black man felt that he needed the accompaniment of his toddler daughter to safely walk around in his neighborhood. 

I wonder if this is where the term "beard" for the person who is used to cover up a person's identity- came from?  As in:  the woman was a beard for her gay friend when they went to his parent's house, to disguise his sexual orientation....makes you wonder about these connections.

So what's your preference these days?????


Different face covering types and reasons for them:
Niqab & Burka- for religious modesty
Cowboys bandanas- for protection from dust and sun
Wedding Veils-  for modesty and obedience, and a way to" hide the prize" for arranged marriages
Litham- in Africa, males wear these to protect from dust and sun.
Sehra- male wedding headdress made from flower or beads.
Isn't this one just beautiful? Apparently it is made of fresh jasmine.  I'd like to see Trump's face covered with this.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Simple Language for Simple Minds

Happy Juneteenth, a holiday I sadly learned of not in a history class but by reading the Food section on the Times.  

A holiday that should be a national holiday.

A holiday that should actually replace July 4th- since all men were NOT free after the hyppocritical declaration of independence was signed.  

I heard the Emancipation Proclamation read this morning and found the document to be a bit of legalize gibberish.  Perhaps if the words were easier to relate to and understand by the common population, Abe Lincoln might have had an easier time relaying his message.  In 1870, about 20% of the entire adult population was illiterate, and 80% of the black population was as well, so even if you had "heard" about Lincoln's proclamation, it was never a document that could be passed around and read by the people it was meant to free, and even if you were literate, there was a slim chance of understanding the contents of all the legal gibberish.

The Racist Asshole Trump  has used the word "bad" 950 times in speeches since the beginning of this year.  This is a word we teach to toddlers and dogs. 

Just doing a quick thesaurus search, there are about 50 synonyms that can replace the word BAD- meaning something that is of poor quality, add another 22 synonyms if you mean BAD as something that is immoral or harmful.  But yet the RAT does not use those words often, if ever at all in his limited vocabulary. 


I looked at some "grown-up" words used in the Emancipation Proclamation to see if RAT had used any of them in his speeches this year.  Here are a handful, never uttered by the manchild with a toddler's vocabulary:

to wit                        rebellion            considerate            henceforward            respectively

countervailing           suppressing         accordance            enjoin                        faithfully

garrison                    Emancipation

As an exercise- in reverse from the earlier game of RAT Edit.  The following text takes the words of Abe Lincoln and makes it understandable to the RAT's fan base:


Jan 1,1863

An announcement by the president.

On September 22, 1862, I said that all slaves in the bad states fighting the good states are free forever.  Everyone needs to know this, and if anyone tries to say otherwise, they are wrong and bad.

My name is Abraham Lincoln and as president I am telling you that all slaves are free, in the states of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, but some areas within those states can go on with business as usual so congress won't try to have me killed.

If you are free, please don't do anything violent unless its in self-defence, and from now on you should get paid for your hard work. 

Now that you are free, you can join the army and use all the army stuff like guns and ships.

I'm telling you this because it's the will of God.  This is what I am telling you today in Washington on January 1, 1963 

Abe Lincoln


here is the actual document

January 1, 1863

A Transcription

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Nature of Compromise and the Specificity of Language.

There's a children's word game that we used to play called "Would You Rather", and every parenting book has a version of it. It is meant  to give your child the power to make their own decisions and limits the choices when creating a way to compromise.

Would you rather...
  • have pizza or pasta for dinner?
  • have the power of flight or the power of invisibility?
  • go to college or go to work after high school?
  • be the only black CEO of an all white company, or be a white manager of a minority owned company?
  • die for a good cause or live as a Nazi?
  • defund the police or increase police spending?
You pose a dilemma in the form of a question and the other person must chose one choice over the other.  But the "Would You Rather" form of choosing A over B is never fair because the person making up the options always has the upper hand... as in the Slave Trade Compromise or the Three-Fifths Compromise from 1787.  Do you think Slaves had a say in any of the proceedings of these compromises. I don't think so.

A variation of "Would You Rather",  comes up often in our house when trying to compromise with one another, when one person wants the other person to do something and makes up a list of things to chose from.  So instead of would you rather...it now plays out as:
 If you do__________ I will do ___________.
As In:
If you take a shower tonight, I will let you sleep in for an extra 15 minutes tomorrow.
or
If we can get a dog, I will do aerobic exercise every day.

It's a form of bartering, which I feel will make a comeback as society  enters into an economic depression, and without a visionary leader who can create something like the New Deal, it will be necessary to have this skill.

Hiro and I have taken these skills to a new level of haggling and bartering (with crazy side deals) to the extent that our nephew Phillip refuses to play Monopoly with us. But isn't Monopoly about the art and skill of persuasion?

If you give me Boardwalk, I'll give you my Pass Go $$ for the next two turns, and you never have to pay rent on all my Green properties AND I'll clean my room tomorrow.
or
I'll give you all my orange properties if you practice violin 2 times a day this month and take a shower every night.

There is a lovely folktale called "The Girl Who Would Be King" where as usual, a childless king is looking for an heir and poses a challenge to any who is brave enough.  He sends three people, (a scholar, a thief, and a young girl) off on a quest to buy something to fill his grand hall with less than a penny.  Of course the girl succeeds, not only once, but she fills the room three times.  The one thing that stuck with me about that story was the creativity of the girl as well as her mama telling her "when you trade and barter, make sure that both parties are pleased in the end to ensure that the trade is good."

Last night's bartering tactics looked like this:
What I do:  Get HBO

What Hiro will do:  
  • won't watch Marvel movies until August
  • Stop bugging me about getting HBO
  • Stop bugging  me about getting a dog until August
  • stop bugging me about getting a PayPal account
  • go on a long bike ride tomorrow
  • will give me 5 points (long story on the point system)
  • infinite glitter pounds.
So I signed up for an HBO one week free trial last night so Hiro could watch some mind-numbing X-men movie.  When I asked him to go on a long bike ride with me, he casually told me that all of those demands were for getting HBO monthly, not just a one week trial, but being the generous person that he is, he will abide by all the rules except the biking one.  Specificity of language is so important when haggling with an eleven year old, as they tend to take EVERYTHING literally. I have to keep reminding myself to proofread his language. In the end, was I happy?  Not really, because I didn't catch the loophole...and I'm just exhausted from these back-and-forth deals.   His tactic now is to wear me down until I say yes.  

The marches and riots are the wearing down of the establishment, until people get what they want.  But the big problem is how the word DEFUNDING is being defined. 

Does it mean UN fund? Not to fund? Stop funding?  or Reduce funding?  Anyone using this word needs to first define it clearly: 
We all know what the verb to FUND means:
To FINANCE
BANKROLL
ENDOW
PROVIDE CAPITAL 
PAY FOR...

but what it gets really murky when you add DE in front of those words.   Biden needs to reverse his stance, get his ass in gear and define what he means when he says he will not support defunding the police. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Check Your Own Biases

Last week, a friend posted a powerful story on Facebook about an incident that happened to her on the train.  She described the scene and told the story of someone who had been wronged, outraged, spurting profanity and racial slurs, being ignored, and how bravely she came to the person's aid.  She  cleverly told this story without any mention of the persons race and at the end of the story, asked what the person looked like in our mind's eye.  She also asked us to fill in the blanks for the racial slurs he had spurted.  Maybe because of the current BLM climate, I assumed the person was black, which was wrong.  In fact the scene she described and the picture in my mind was very different.  We often incorrectly label things in our minds to try to make sense of things...

And we make assumptions. This is what jumping to conclusions will do.  When people make decisions with their emotions and fears.  My mother and I immigrated from Japan and I grew up in St. Louis.  I learned about this country from a southern states perspective.  I learned English while using racist vocabulary against black people without knowing I was doing it. It was learned.  I knew that when people called me "chink" or told jokes such as "how do you name a Chinese baby?  You drop a metal bowl down the stairs", it was hurtful and wrong, but in my eight year old mind, it was more hurtful because I was being called Chinese.  And in the learned racist mind of a Japanese child, the Chinese are inferior to the Japanese. The levels of racism are very complex.  

Racism is learned and ingrained. It happens when one group of people think they are better than another.  My mother moved us out of University City so that I could go to a "better "school.  Sure, Ladue looked good on paper, but in my mind, the diversity of the U-City school system was much better.  We lived in a lower economic neighborhood than most of the other Ladue High School students, but there were always worse.  The worse was a neighborhood within walking distance called Indian Meadows- renamed as "Indian Ghettos" by local kids probably so we could feel superior. Indian Ghettos was primarily a black neighborhood, and I never though twice when referring to it by that name.  There are so many things we've said and say still that we are clueless or and have nefarious origins.  If you are curious there is actually a website" http://www.rsdb.org/ though some of them don't make sense to me.  For example why would it be bad for a white person to be called Abe Lincoln? 

I took an American History summer school class between my Junior and Senior year, and was fascinated and sickened by the Civil war.  What stood out for me at the time was how even poor white people in the North actually supported slavery, because if there were slaves, they would never be the lowest man on the racist totem pole. White trash trumps having dark skin apparently, which seems to be a thought most Racist Asshole supporters have.   Privilege comes in so many forms and no matter how small that privilege is, one tends to hold onto it at all costs. It's like the ridiculous separations that airlines make with cloth stanchions to make one group feel more superior than another.  You are fooling yourself if you feel superior because you get to walk down the left side of the barrier 30 seconds before everyone else.

Over the weekend on NPR's Weekend Edition, there was an interesting discussion on race, racism and allyship, with commentators Jay Caspian Kang and William Garcia-Medina.  Where do Asians and Hispanic American's fit in the BLM movement?  

People tend to say,  "I cannot be a racist because...
I have dark skin
I have been discriminated against
my wife is black
I have black friends

etc...but is that enough to be an ally?

Latinos And Asians Grapple With Racism, Allyship Amid Ongoing Protests



Friday, June 12, 2020

Rethinking the Hero Complex

Americans are totally obsessed with Heroes; We make hundreds of superhero films, praise the "heroic" efforts of the military, put up monuments for fallen war "heroes".  The world is split between good and evil, thus when it comes to policing, we need "New York's Bravest" to keep us in check.  The nicknames for the Police and Fire Departments originated around the Civil War, derived from phrases already in use to praise the valor of soldiers.  

So it's no wonder that the police have access to millions of dollars of surplus combat equipment because we have been equating the police with solders.  When army troops are pulled from actual war torn countries, the same equipment used to fight Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram are being used against 75 year old peace activists in Buffalo NY.  This is why we need to demilitarize the police. They are not patrolling a war zone as they are trained to believe. 

The police motto in most states is something akin to "Protect and Serve" and with this another line should be added- "do no harm". 

Taking our obsession with superheroes, we need to revamp the police and take all that money saved by making cops wear superhero outfits.  They need to look more like protectors and less like military.

So let's look at some fictional figures that protect: 

Spiderman 
Dr. Strange
Iron Man
Jessica Jones
Captain America
Ninja Turtles
Superman
Batman
Wonder Woman
Black Panther
Robin Hood
Captain Underpants.
to name a few....



It only makes sense to take off the blue military uniforms and make them dress in tights and onsies with a flowing cape.  They could get Marvel to sponsor them instead of taking the money from tax payers.

Adopt a Homeless person

  As I ride along all the outdoor restaurants resembling greenhouses in the cool autumn chill, I wonder how long outdoor dining will continu...