“Academics isn’t for everyone”

Kay Brooks is championing the idea of doing away with high school for most people, saving it only for “for the very brightest of students.” 

America, the idea that there is stuff, taxpayer funded stuff, in this country that is just “for” the best people is so gross I almost don’t know how to talk about it.  We’re going to look at twelve and thirteen year old kids and decide that educating them is a waste? 

You know, Bridgett’s been chronicling all the ways the economy sucks ass, from the failure of the housing market, to the rising of the cost of consumer goods, to folks getting out of debt by volunteering to go to Iraq.  And yet, because the stock market’s still doing okay, we’re supposed to pretend like everything is fine and that, if individual people are suffering, it’s because they’ve fucked up, not because they’re on the wrong end of a monumental con of the American people in which the rich and powerful try to convince us that, if they’re doing okay, everyone is doing okay.

Let us just state with certainty that, if working class people felt that the economy was doing well, that there were more than enough jobs to go around, the immigration debate would have no traction.  But people do feel that jobs, good jobs they’d be happy to do, are being taken by illegal immigrants.

And now folks who have jobs, folks who have a little security, are advocating adding workers from 12-17 into the job market as well?  What jobs, pray tell, are they going to do?  Are there a shit ton of jobs out there for folks with an eight grade education? 

Forget it.  I think they know there aren’t any jobs out there for these kids.  There’s no training you can give them that employers will take seriously.  (Think about it.  Do you want to hire someone with the reading and math skills of a twelve-year-old?)  This is about keeping poor people in their place, denying us the educations we need to better our lives, in order to keep us stupid, compliant, and disenfranchised.

The public school system, for all its problems, is a powerful tool for equality.

I can only assume that’s why some folks are working so hard to undermine it at every turn.

The Greenman

I believe I am as packed as I can be until I throw the stuff I use in the morning in the suitcase in the morning.  I cut off my broken fingernail so that it won’t snag on things.  I washed the dog and did a load of dishes.

And I got my Christmas ’05 present.  A lovely lime iPod I named the Greenman.


Let the Unfocused Fretting Begin

Among many, one of the reasons I was glad to go to Boston is just to be remined that I do actually like to travel.  When most of my travelling is for work, I forget that.  Because I really don’t like this part of travelling for work.

When I get to the airport, I’ll be fine.

But right now, I have to do laundry, pack, make sure I have my passport and some good reading materails in my bag, as well as my wallet.  I need to go deposit some checks.  I also need to do some dishes and make sure that the stuff that didn’t get in the boxes of stuff sent from work gets in my suitcase.

The truth is that there’s not that much to do, actually, and I will be able to do it all just fine.

Right now, though, I feel kind of paralyzed by it.

The Butcher is supposed to be getting me a new Ipod today, to replace the one he washed (Ipods–not waterproof, who knew?), so I will have that to take with me.  My flight to Montreal is all kinds of stupid.  I’m flying to Dallas to fly to Canada.  I booked my trip, so I have no one but me to blame, but I can’t for the life of me remember why I thought that would be a good idea.

I’m nervous about the money thing.  I know I’ll be able to pay by credit card for almost everything, but what about the cab from the airport to the hotel?  I guess I do need to get some cash exchanged.  I’ve never done that before, either.

The Professor and I were out looking at houses yesterday, just for kicks.  She goes out of couriosity.  I go just to feel justifiably angry at my lot in life.  Anyway, we were talking about how one of our mutual friends is really interested in understanding “class” not just as in how much money you make, but class in terms of culture.

In other words, it is a difference, not just in terms of income, but in terms of expectations and understandings of how the world works that you would spend ten thousand dollars on a purse because you found it more aesthecially pleasing than the five thousand dollar purse while I would decide that a purse ought to cost $20-$25 and I go to Target and get a purse that costs that much.

The Professor was saying how weird it is because when she’s at home, she feels like she knows more about music and art and movies than just about anyone in her family (so to them, she is “cultured” in some way that they are not), but within her own department, she feels like people, at the least, think it’s peculiar that she seems to really like movies instead of having a proper appreciation of cinema.

And I was talking to Martin Kennedy a little about this, too, about how you cannot underestimate the importance of knowing how to fit–who to go to in order to hear about jobs, who to listen to for financial advice, even how to best present yourself to get into college.  It’s not knowledge everyone had or has access to or is even aware that they’re lacking it.

In other words, sometimes it embarrasses me to sit here and say “Oh, gosh, wow.  I’m leaving the country for the first time in my adult life and I’m excited and nervous and a little scared and also thrilled” even though I know I’m not even going to be out of driving distance of my loved ones.  If something goes wrong, they can always come and get me.  In other words, I’m just going to Canada.  It hardly counts as international travel.

But I am excited and nervous and I want to share that with you, at the same time I know it marks me.  It tells you more about me than I might otherwise be comfortable sharing with you.

And I don’t really know why it embarrasses me.  Maybe for the same reason it pisses me off to drive clear down to Nolensville and see them selling houses for $300,000.  It makes me feel like I don’t belong–both things, that I haven’t ever left the country as an adult and that I’ll be lucky if there’s any place I can afford to live in Nashville by the time I can afford to buy a house, make me feel like the rube who doesn’t get how the world works in ways that are utterly obvious to everyone else.

I can’t help it.  If I’m not going to fit in, I want it to be because I’m a rebel, not because I’m a bumpkin.  I could play the game, but fuck your game, not there’s a game?  What game?

I want to be cool, what can I say?

I’m all the time bringing Mack music that I love and forcing him to listen to it and he always waits patiently through song after song that’s meaningful to me and hurrying to turn it off as quickly as he can afterwards.

It hurts my heart that Mack doesn’t like my music.  (He’s a little disdainful of my choice in movies, as well, but I figure, “I don’t really watch movies,” sounds sufficiently snobby as to not reveal that my bad taste spreads across genres.)  Of course I want the cool kid to think I’m cool, too.

But alas, folks, in the hours of music I’ve brought him to listen to, he’s only ever once said, “Hey! I love this.” (“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Whithers, if you’re keeping score at home.)  Mostly he’s all about how it’s too noisy or lacking in talent or whatever.

The other day, though, he said, “All your songs sound like hymns.”

Boy has that stuck with me and boy do I like it.  All my songs sound like hymns.

I love the idea of revealing, by way of my song choice, that I’m interested in finding the sacred in the profain, and that I’m still comforted and challenged and moved by the structures my parents instilled in me as a child.

Now I cannot wait for the arrival of my Ipod so that I can sit in airplanes and in airports listening to hymns I didn’t quite recognize as being such.