Sunday miscellany

  • FloridaCurrently Reading: I’ve finally gotten around to reading Lauren Groff’s Florida (2018), a collection eleven well-crafted stories set in the state where I grew up. I like the stories’ strange characters. The New York Times called the stories “haunting,” and they certainly are that. 
  • Are We Learning Anything in School? Jesse Watters, a conservative commentator, interviewed a bunch of people on the street for Veterans Day in a manner similar to what Jay Leno used to do on the Tonight Show. He asked such questions as “Who did we fight in World War II,” “Who bombed Pearl Harbor?” “Who did we fight in the revolutionary war?” and othe facts that seem basic to understanding the country from a history and civics point of view. There were a lot of wrong answers. Too many. Watters and I don’t agree on many things, but my take on this poor showing of knowledge is that it demonstrates one of the reasons everything is so polarized: we don’t seem to have a common base of information.
  • May be an image of 5 people, people standing and outdoorsLiving Jackson Magazine. This short-lived Georgia magazine brought great articles with high production values and crisp writing to the readers of Jefferson, Georgia in the northeast section of the state. I wrote most of the magazine’s book reviews, focusing on local and regional authors. I felt a bit of nostalgia when I came across this old photograph that appeared with an article on Georgia writers, “A Truck Load of Authors” published in 2006. When I posted this picture on Facebook this past week, that 1961 Studebaker pickup truck got more attention than the people.
  • Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone: A Novel (Outlander Book 9)Diana Gabadon: When Diana published the first of the nine novels (counting the one about to be released) in 1991, we were both members of the CompuServe Literary Forum. She posted snippets of Outlander (the first novel) on the forum and these created a lot of discussions about writing. The books are long, detailed, and require a great deal of research. However, I don’t think any of us thought then that the series would still be in progress thirty years later. Go Tell The Bees That I’m Gone comes out on November 23. I appreciate her work as well as the fact that as long as the forum was active, the help that she offered the aspiring writers there was a godsend. I was lucky to meet her once at a book signing in Atlanta. Plus, she wrote a blurb for one of my novels!

Have a great week.

Malcolm

Underpaid Teachers

“That has become the rallying cry of many of America’s public-school teachers, who have staged walkouts and marches on six state capitols this year. From Arizona to Oklahoma, in states blue, red and purple, teachers have risen up to demand increases in salaries, benefits and funding for public education. Their outrage has struck a chord, reviving a national debate over the role and value of teachers and the future of public education.”

Source: Exactly How Teachers Came to Be So Underpaid in America | Time

According to the article, teachers’ salaries–when adjusted for inflation–are less today than they were in 1990.

I see no excuse for that. My father was a university professor. His salary was probably among the lowest in our neighborhood. My mother was a teacher before she was married. Low pay, of course. I was a teacher and couldn’t make ends meet.

Experts will cite reasons for the small amount of money states spend per pupil and the problems with teacher’s pay. I can boil that down to one reason: we really don’t care enough about our kids to pay for schools that will make a difference. We wonder about drug usage, students addicted to texting, the fact that schools don’t teach more technical (job-oriented) subjects or life skills (how to balance a checkbook) subjects, the fact teachers are being forced to teach the test, and the fact that it’s apparently no longer safe for kids to walk to school forcing somebody to drive them there and pick them up in the middle of the adult workday.

Yes, all those things matter. But we’re not willing to pay what it takes to fix it.

Frankly, I’m tired of hearing the excuses.

–Malcolm

Isis Bookstore vandals must be stupid

Here’s the news story that caught my attention: Bookstore named ‘Isis’ becomes target of vandalism

IsisbooksEven though this Denver bookstore has been around for thirty-five years, some bumpkins think it’s associated with the recent terrorist group ISIS.

The store has been hit four times recently: does this mean one stupid vandal hitting the store over and over or multiple stupid vandals hitting the store one time each?

The terrorist group is giving the Egyptian goddess Isis a bad name, not to mention spoiling the 1975 Bob Dylan song by the same name.

This Dáesh (ISIS) logo seems hard to mix up with the bookstore's logo.
This Dáesh (ISIS) logo seems hard to mix up with the bookstore’s logo.

The the bookstore’s owner said that “the goddess represents women, healing and magic, and she says it’s a fitting name for a store that features books and gifts from all types of world traditions and spiritual sources. The shelves include Christian, Hindu, Native American and Pagan texts, to name a few.”

Obviously the vandals have never heard of the goddess, much less noticed that nothing about the store (inside or out) looks like it has jihad sponsorship. The logos don’t look the same either, even if one is color blind as well as stupid.

At times I wonder how it is that the facts and myths that were once basic common knowledge are shrinking. On the other hand, maybe the criminals who targeted the store wouldn’t know squat in any era.

–Malcolm