To WCSD Superintendent and Board Chair

Response to editorial by Katy Simon Holland (chair, WCSD board of trustees and Kristen McNeill (interim superintendent ), guest columnists, Reno Gazette-Journal “My Turn” column, August 11, 2019.

Reading your editorial in theReno Gazette-Journal caused me to think we are probably looking to another year at least, maybe an administrations’ worth of maybe minor adjustments where a total rethinking leading to total reworking is, at minimum, what is really needed if the District is to become a good an proper one for the cause of better community.  The passage cited below expresses much the same thing as most celebratory missives coming from dysfunctional public institutions.  “We are better than we look; we are going to look even better very soon.”  Very cheerful and positive and without anything that shows that the issues at hand have actually been adequately contemplated.

“The foundation of WCSD has always been — and will always be — to provide a quality public education experience to all of our students, by embracing their race, gender, abilities, language and culture. It is vital that we prepare all of our students, from pre-kindergarten through high school, for the world outside the classroom. We know that the education our students receive will stay with them throughout their lives, and we are so grateful to all of our educators who have taken on this tremendous responsibility — this is a calling. And to all of our staff, thank you. Each of you plays a vital role in the promise of public education — to produce community minded and contributing individuals.”

What keeps you and the District from becoming involved in bold new initiatives that change a problematic educational situation is profound reluctance to admit that there is anything wrong with the District as it presently exists or with a recent history that, understood, helps to make sense of those presently extant problems. There is possibility for making WCSD a great institution for the education of young people, potential to help them grow to their potential as human beings to become highly capable individuals who can participate effectively as informed and thoughtful members of a democratic society.  The changes needed to make this happen have not been honestly addressed, in part because goals that reflect such ends have never been firmly established as the goals of the school system.

The real goals have been to insure that those who employ the workforce have the workers they need, these “community leaders” never getting what they want because the “training methods” they endorse at a particular moment fail to produce workers with the skills they need when they are hired in the moment that follows, the latter quite different always from the former.  They would do better for themselves and the students, as individual human beings, by allowing for a curriculum shaped to grow individual human potential rather than commercially desired job specifications.  Of course, an independent mind is a dangerous force in a society in which exploitation is rampant and the exploited are kept in line by being educated to have others think for them and telling them how to think and what to do.

That last line probably sounds radical and it is because it speaks to a radical truth that few in education want to discuss, whether education should be for social adjustment and job training or whether it should be for helping individuals learn to exploit their own intellectual resources—this likely fomenting pressure for social and economic change–or whether it should be to train human beings to willing do others bidding unquestioningly—the status quo, no matter how wrong or harmful it be, maintained.

If we could agree that the only good answer is the former, then we could get on with getting somewhere in regard to building schools that helped individual human beings grow into truly good and productive people, productive rather than destructive, community oriented in the sense that they demand such things as fairness, equity, and justice and are always concerned about acting in the best interests of what is good and right and humane, even if for acting upon such principles the rewards that come to those who violate them must be forsaken.

I have every reason to believe that if I were to walk into classrooms a month from now, what is going on in them will be much like what I would have seen in the years past, even in the shiny new schools the District is so proud to now have on line.


It’s just a hill. No, a magical hill…

Temple Mount Clashes: Jordan Condemns ‘Blunt’ Israeli Violations as Jews Allowed in Holy Site

Children talking.  But no!  Adults armed with laws and political decisions to keep at bay those who believe the hill is magical, who disagree on what kind of magic it means.  And they will fight–some to the death if they have to–to have the magic their way.  Adults!  Adults fighting over magical things as though they are real, about things supernatural that in a sane world of sane people would be understood to be meaningless because they are nonexistent, cannot exist except in the minds of crazy people.  Those crazy people are not only given room to be crazy, but to affect–and infect–others with their craziness! This is not a little thing because the infection affects the daily lives of everyone on the planet, the crazy religionists and everyone else and their can be no sensible resolution to the issues these crazy people fight about because the issues are about fantastical things that a child of 10 should know to be to be fantastical.  But these are adults and they teach their children that their–the adult’s–fantasies are real and not only real, but so real and so important as to not be questioned this because, if questioned by the child, the question logically pursued, he or she would understand how fantastical and unreal this stuff the parents believe to be real and more true than what appears to reasonable people as reality.

Crazy shit respected by adults as at at least important and meaningful as what is real and those crazy shit adults keep teaching their kids to confuse reality for fantasy and fantasy for reality, the fantastical reality ever unprovable so made special so that the children will not question it and the real distorted to the point that adults from different gangs believing in different fantastical realities climb a hill that members of both gangs believe to be magical and they fight each other and the consequences are real, on that fucking hill and then in streets surrounding and then in towns and villages and cities around the world, killing with a particular kind of self-righteous viciousness that comes with knowing that some fucking god is on their side.



“The Family”

Watched the first two episodes.  Worth watching.  Offers an interesting look into the relationship of government and politics in the USA and into that attitude of the “very religious” who want (and receive) acclaim for their piety, commit the kind of sin they condemn others for even thinking about and then ask for and are given absolution by their brethren and sisters in faith.  They are the “chosen” and as God loves them best, he forgives them above and before all others.  Those who believe themselves to be infallible even when they fail are some of the most dangerous people around.


The Family on Netflix: Watch

Many years ago-during the second Bush’s administration, I read the book The Family.  I already had a deep sense of the deep problem this country faced because of the role religion had been allowed in the decision making process that is the essence of democracy, a process that needs be based in rationality if meaningful and effective debate is to take place as citizens use their intelligence to make decisions that affect the lives of millions–actually billions–of other people.  I watched as presidents, all I had experienced in my lifetime, gave credence to religion, honored it, made sure that the people of the country knew that they were religious people themselves and treated whatever foolishness came from whatever pulpit-well, except for a few–as something not only as important as the rational, but something bigger, a way to truth they gave legitimacy even when the pronouncement of churches would be understood to be pure horse shit by any mildly thoughtful human being.

I wondered about the Billy Graham phenomenon throughout childhood, wondering why my Jewish parents would watch the crusades as if to not do so was un-American, and I saw presidents who I did respect treat the lout as something other, as a high ranking American dignitary, a man endorsed by the leader of the country as a special man, as a man beyond good.  A holy man.  Few held such stature and the highest elected officials in the nation conferred it upon him, one after another, never one to say anything publicly ever about who the man was or what he really represented.  Of course,

Popes and priests and pastors and reverends and rabbis held special places in the culture, too, people “above,” people to be respected automatically for the clothing they wore and the places where they worked.  I listened to some of them sometimes and what they said, what of it made sense, made no more sense than what others around me had to say, but still, what they had to say was to be respected more than what those others had to say because they were religious people, anointed not only by their churches but by American society and its leaders, as something better.

As it turned out, a frightening many of these men–always men then–were some of the most rotten human beings on the face of the earth and rarely brought forth to account for their sins.  This was before the born-again Eva but ngelical movement rose in anger against those heretics who were trying to bring sense to the scene, beginning to question the righteousness of religion as a force in civic life in a democracy.  TV preachers were not a new thing when Jim and Tammi Baker came to do their salvation work, but they tested tolerance for the kind of outright stupid garbage people in the United States might buy.  Jim and Tammi sold well.  And when more traditional, well-know, well respected TV men of the cloth began to show too much of what was beneath the coverings, they were forgiven, most keeping their spots on the networks for their Sunday shows.  Baker, the born again and, therefore of the purer kind to his audience, was caught with his pants down he and his kept a good amount of money for their “good works.”  Tammi became a talkshow phenom and Jim is, I think, preaching on cable somewhere now.

Ronald Reagan gave these nutcases the presidential nod for their work on several occasions and the right-wing christian movement was christened with a presidential blessing. George W. Bush won election on the “strength” of his alliance with the right-wing christian movement and told the American people that he made his decisions with the help of God.  Not the big flinch that, in a sensible society, should be expected.

Pure insanity, I thought.  A culture undermined by its cultural-religious underpinnings, its hopes for a sensible democracy being made impossible by the acceptance of nonsense as information on par with that the was sensible.

Jeff Sharlet’s book blew my mind.  It came out while I was flipping out over our then Congressman, John Ensign, a real scumbag who, it turned out was living in a boarding house in D.C. where other evangelical holies lived as members of what Sharlet called “The Family.”  The story the book tells is beyond comprehension because it deals with an incomprehensible reality that played–still plays a role–in American politics.  American politicians, for the sake of a god, working with African dictators to get legislation passed to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death!!!!!!!!

Much more in the book that is cringeworthy because of who the cast of characters is and the role they have been and are allowed to play in the life of this nation gone insane.

Now Netflix is running a short-series based on Sharlet’s work.  I haven’t seen it but I will. I think others should too, to get a little deeper understanding of the madness that still is allowed to serve as legitimate contribution to our political discourse.








“Writing is really a way of thinking–not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.”


From ‘The Nation’




Toni Morrison, Whose Soaring Novels Were Rooted In Black Lives, Dies At 88



For a long time now we have been experiencing what, without too much reflection, must be understood as a profound national crisis.

We are not responding well.

We are not in crisis mode and looking for remedy as if it were essential that we find it soon.

If we go on going on as we always do we do so ignoring the true nature of the situation.  And by doing so, we allow our fellow human beings to be harmed.

We need to stop this crisis of madness and it is madness that has befallen us, every day new mad acts taking place before our eyes.  We squeal and then forget until new victims are destroyed.  We give little time at all to think about those whose misery and whose deaths do not make the headlines.

If we took the time to reflect, honestly, with out the blinders we use to keep us “sane,” we would, if humane, have to feel deep pain, pain we could not tolerate.  We are tolerant.  We let pass what should never be aloud to pass by decent human beings.

We need to take the time to do what is needed to restore decency and, if we really are decent people, we will do it now.


Shut it down

Isn’t it time that sensible people just stopped, stopped the machine from running so that time could be taken to reflect upon the fact that things are bad enough right now to demand change right now so that no innocent person more should have his or her life affected by the madness we experience daily in so many wants?

It is time.  It is past time.  The innocent dead are victims of our neglect and cowardice.

Shut it down.  Make the quiet felt.  Stop the dollars from flowing.  For a day or two or three.  Make quiet the weapon for fighting against the outrageous reality we are now forced to accept.


Mulvaney disqualifies white nationalists from owning guns

El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language


Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said it was outrageous to hold Mr. Trump responsible for the acts of a madman or suggest the president sympathized with white supremacists.

“I don’t think it’s at all fair to sit here and say that he doesn’t think that white nationalism is bad for the nation,” he said on “This Week” on ABC. “These are sick people. You cannot be a white supremacist and be normal in the head. These are sick people. You know it, I know it, the president knows it. And this type of thing has to stop. And we have to figure out a way to fix the problem, not figure out a way to lay blame.”