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AvatarComments by Roland Dodds*


Well said Michele. I am also a teacher and have dealt with similar concerns in my 10 years on the job. Thankfully, I have never been in a situation like you describe. I am actually a bit shocked by the behavior of the teachers mobilizing students the way they did and then shamming teachers who didn't actively recruit. I have never seen anything like that first hand, and I teach in the Bay Area.

While I recognize education is never value-neutral and will always result in some folk criticising any perceived attempt at "indoctrinating" children, it is in public education's best interest to simply let students organize themselves to address problems they see in our society. We can teach them how to do that through the lens of historical analysis, but it will almost surely be better for the students if they take on activism without being conducted by their teachers.

On “The Company We All Keep

I hear you, and I recognize that this is an odd argument for me to make considering my background. I first got into blogging in 2004/2005 to criticise the ways totalitarian leftwing groups were operating in existing political movements. I said at the time that it was a duty of mainstream antiwar/left wing orgs to disassociate themselves from groups like the RCP and not make excuses for militants like Hamas. I write for Harry's Place which has made a name for itself for calling out those types of tendencies on the left in British politics. (Many commentators are discussing the Corbyn/antisemitism stuff right now, arguing Corbyn has not done enough to address the problem. I happen to think Corbyn is moving in the right direction and saying the right things, but that is another discussion).

And while it is what-about-ism, I think the black community does have ground to stand on when they are asked to attack NoI while alt-right figures and ideas go without mention in conservative white society. Obviously, there will be those that say you must reject all these forces equally, which is a position I can get behind. I simply think that an understanding of why these groups/figures/ideas gain traction gets lost in a politics of constant condemnation without reflection.

On “I saw my daughter’s first school play, and it was awful.

Expect more in your future for the next decade of your life!

I had a terrible youth play experience last week as well. I invited a local Shakespeare company to our school to perform. They are a reputable group; an institution in this area. We knew this was their youth wing, but we didn't expect them to be 12-13-year-olds. They insisted on not using microphones.

While they gave passionate performances (you could see that all the children performing wanted to be there) it was an indecipherable performance. Not only was it impossible to hear them, they were too young to understand the finer aspects of acting and Shakespeare and thus it appeared to be one child running through their lines quickly with another child then going through their lines. The student audience was baffled for an hour and a half.

It was the worst thing I have ever subjected my students to.

On “Setting The Books Free

"We didn’t have lockers at my high school in the 90s. I think it might have had something to do with drugs"

Same here. I Never knew the joys of a locker in my entire juvenile education but always dreamed about how awesome it would be to have one (they still had the lockers at the school: they were simply boarded up to remind you of what you couldn't have).

Oddly enough, as noted by Will, the school I work at has lockers and we can't get the kids to keep things in the damn thing. They would rather carry it all around with them all day.

The grass is always greener I guess.

On “The Evangelicals are Hypocritical and They Don’t Care

A fair question and I also respect how realist minded right-wing evangelicals are in their will to power. You have to hand it to them in their ability to disregard decades of moral grandstanding for victory where it counts.

But I also think the backlash against this current moment in evangelical politics is not going to be from the left (which was always against them). It will be in other Christian and religious communities that will see the abandonment of stated morals for what it is. Especially if Trump and the Republicans fail to win elections going forward, there will be some reflection by the those wishing to see moral character as a key element of an elected offical.

On “What The Heck Are We Doing In Syria

2035 pundit: Who could have predicted this totally unforeseen outcome?


Yep. I suppose the Kurds are also looking at their best options, and America seemed it even when our support has changed with the winds at every turn.


"Yet, the US now has an announced military presence in Syria; the current US government indicates that it is going to stay there indefinitely."

If we have a permanent role in parts of the country, we are pretty bad at actually exerting any influence there. Our "ally" in Turkey just attacked our "allies" the Kurds in a move that should terrify everyone.

And here I was told that Trump would be the leader other countries would respect and not challenge. So much for all that.

On “Morning Ed: Politics {2018.01.12.F}

"This always perplexes me because we had a whole war for independence against the idea of monarchy and for self-government."

Well, some of this nation's ancestors did. Just from my small orbit of people I speak with routinely, I would say very few are supportive of the democratic enlightenment aims of those radicals.

On “The Seventh Annual Mindless Diversions Unsolicited Shopping Guide

I didn't submit my recommendation, but you should have everyone come visit beautiful Sonoma County and enjoy the beer/wine. I will give you a personal your.

On “the receiving end

I think I felt the same way for s short while in my youth. Looking back on it now, it seemed like a silly thing to believe since I routinely had girlfriends when I wanted them. That perception of being undesired as a young person might very well carry some negative baggage forward into adult life.

Slightly off topic, I wish there were more opportunities to reach young men who feel disregarded by women when in their youth. My advice for young men, and I pray there are better voices for this message since the MRA crowd has captured many young men's minds, is to relax and enjoy your youth. Stop feeling that you are a "nice guy" who deserves someone and just pursue the things you love; every woman I know finds that entitlement off-putting. Read books, play music, travel and stay involved in social organizations beyond bars that have a good mix of men and women. Don't turn your frustration towards women your age into hatred for women. Just enjoy being free and recognize your passion for life will attract mates to at one point. And if that woman who falls for you went through a phase where she wanted bad boys or older men, you won't care because you had an adventures youth and are happy to have her adult company now that you are both mature.


This is an interesting angle @leeesq. I am happily married and in my 30s, but if I were to re-enter the dating scene, I can find nothing more terrible than courting a woman in their early 20s. Much like Kristen, my taste in women changed as I got older, but it is also due to the fact that I remember what it was like dating 20-year-old women when I was a comparable age. Informative and necessary, but something I never want to repeat.


Great piece Kristin. I enjoyed reading it.

My wife and I were talking about this very issue the other night, and I brought up an aspect of the older man/younger woman dynamic that she found bizarre but I think is relevant.

For the average younger man (teenage to early 20s), it is often a challenge to get a girl's attention. At least, it may appear to be for young, inexperienced, insecure and likely poor young men. For some of those young men who feel spurned by girls their age in their youth, hooking up with younger women in their 30s is basically a revenge fantasy. They are sticking it to the women their age (also now in their 30s/40s) who these men feel did not give them attention in their youth. Whenever I decide to dip my toe into MRA sites, this seems to be a recuring undercurrent to the older man/younger woman dynamic.

On “Linky Friday: Housing the World

I love this piece for a couple of reasons. One, it presents what I often see at universities (a small group of activists doing something stupid or overreaching while most people roll their eyes) and an actual liberal backlash to cultists that are a few feet away from being in Bob Avakin's orbit.

On “Linky Friday: Suspicious Minds

M2 - Expectations of marriage with young does seem to be an issue. The article also states that those who have a social network to get different types of emotional support have happier marriages, which also seems evident. Keep friends, social clubs and sports when you get married; you and your spouse will be happier for it.

On “When The Same Explanation Justifies Execution And Exoneration

It is true that certain jobs attract certain types of people (as a teacher, I see very similar liberal "do-gooder" types float in and out of the profession for example), but I think a lot can be done in training to minimize bad behavior. It may not be relevant in the case Sam brought up, but I would like to see fewer officers recruited from the 22-27 age range. These young men/women rarely have enough interpersonal and community experience to do their jobs like we need them to, but end up being a majority of those picked up by local departments.

On “Usurping the White Saviour

Excellent piece Jim.

On “Will Teaching About Growth Mindsets and Grit Work?

It's funny that this was posted today. My school had a big lesson on this very subject yesterday. I agree with your overall argument; kids will know when they are making improvements and getting better at something.

I find, working with middle schoolers (a group not known for their cheerful daily positivity) that simply reminding them that their lives are actually pretty good comparatively helps break them out of a negativity spiral. It's unrelated from developing a "growth mindset" but connected in that its clear those who manage the modern world well seem to put daily problems and challenges in perspective.

On “The New Doctor

That kid show has politics? Are they worse than Harry Potter politics?

On “A Case for the Conscience Exemption

I also have issues with public sector unions. Yet, I am a member of the teacher union in California and would not work in a teaching gig in the US without a union. I have seen the horror show that follows and so I am less likely to say they are not worth having in any public sector gig.

On “Tiny Houses

I had similar thoughts. Every documentary on the small house movement made me hate the kind of people who seemed to be attracted to them. I appreciate people learning to build their own and developing the skills of the craft, but I will stick to my study full of books over the minimalist approach to life.


I personally love their second record "Frances the Mute." It is when the band embraced their prog identity completely. More people love their first record "De-Loused in the Comatorium" which is more rock-centered and sounds a bit more like the work they did with At the Drive-In.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.