In which I self-censor

My general mood for the last several days

I am trying very, very fucking hard right now not to write an entire post about how we need to burn down a certain racist shithole of a school in Kentucky and then take what’s left after we’ve burned it down and throw it in the ocean. I am as angry about this horseshit as I have been about anything in a very long time. Martin Luther King Day weekend is always a trying weekend for me, because I am so, so, so very sick of white people (and it is always white people) trying to turn him into The Nicest Man Who Ever Lived, and it just never ever fucking stops.

That the former happened during the latter is not helping my mood one goddamned bit. And let’s be clear here: the boys are assholes, yes, and I suspect that a number approaching but not quite reaching 100% of them will remain assholes as grown-ups. But there’s a reason I’m directing my ire at the school and not at the students.

(WordPress, right now is not the time to start fucking with me about how you can’t handle italics anymore. Not. The. Time.)

No, the real reason I’m pissed is that at no moment anywhere in any of those videos is any adult presence at all seen. I have taken kids on these trips before, remember. Not just as a chaperone; as the person in charge of the trip. You have two jobs on these trips: 1) to get the kids safely home to their parents, and 2) to make sure that at no point during your trip are any of your students showing their asses. And … well. You may have seen the video of the one kid literally tearing his shirt off.

If any one of my students at any point during any of my trips to DC had even had a dream about taking off his shirt and making a fool of himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, when he woke up he would have been on a bus, by himself, halfway home already, and probably hogtied to boot.

And there is no evidence of any adult presence anywhere in any of these videos. None. These kids are being allowed to do whatever the fuck they want, and what they want is to make asses of themselves in public and shout things about rape at passing women.

And all this was before the blackface imagery came out, and at that point I don’t even care what the fuck happened at the Lincoln Memorial any longer. If this school lets these kids show up at basketball games in blackface it needs to not be a school any longer, and I will not be entertaining any suggestion otherwise from anyone. The Memorial’s almost irrelevant at this point. Gaslight away, assholes. The school lets them show up to basketball games in blackface. We’re done talking about whether they’re all racists or not.

Fuck it. Fuck them. Fuck all of this.

I’m tired.

In which I am content

unnamedI admit it: I’m feeling slightly guilty right now about the fact that I’m not going to work again this week.  The note from my doctor specifically said that I was not to return to school before November 2nd, and the main reason was that we wanted to check on the new medication.  Well, so far, the new medication’s been fine, although I can come up with at least one example in the last couple of weeks where I was fine one day and emphatically Not Fine for several days after that.  Point is, I’m following orders.

I’d be off today anyway, though, because for the first time we have a fall break, and today is the last day of that fall break.  As it turns out, the preschoolers at Hogwarts (have I mentioned this?  From now on, my kid’s school is Hogwarts) had a field trip today, and they went to a farm in southern Michigan– here, specifically.  They put out a general call for chaperones last week and since I didn’t really have anything else I needed to be doing today (again, I’d have been off of work anyway) I decided to tag along.  And… well, it was a hell of a lot of fun, actually.  There’s perfect October weather outside.  We went on a hayride and explored the farm and picked and ate apples and grapes right off the tree (or vine, as the case happened to be) and the boy got a pumpkin to bring home with him.  There are now four pumpkins in the house; I probably ought to get thinking about what I’m going to do when I carve mine, because I wanna do something fun and creative and having an idea of some sort would probably help with that goal.

Speaking of perfect October weather, I was lucky enough last night to get a gorgeous one-day-before-full moon and a completely cloudless sky, so I hauled out the telescope.  I need to get an attachment to make taking pictures easier, but I did manage this one:


Searching for Malumba is out tomorrow!  I’ve officially hit my goal for pre-orders, but if you want to make me even happier, it’s available in print and digitally here.  Expect more about that tonight.  🙂

In which the kids are fine, shut up

A note, before I start: I had to do research and learn what the hell the difference is between Holland, the Netherlands and Denmark before writing this post.  So obviously I am supposed to be writing right now.

Anyway.  This picture’s making the rounds:

tumblr_ngp1r0FJEa1qz6f9yo1_1280Here’s what you’re supposed to do: you’re supposed to look at this picture and go arr wharglebargle kids these days yarr, and be all mad.  In case you don’t recognize it, that painting on the wall back there is Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, which isn’t actually called that officially but whatever.  The idea is that these kids– who look, to my eyes, to be maybe eighth- or ninth-graders, are in the presence of Priceless! Artwork! and instead of reverently gazing upon it they are daring to look at their phones.  Horror!  Terror! Decline of society!  Wharrgarbl!  Facebook is so angry about this, guys.

tl;dr version of this post:  Oh shut up.

Longer version:  Have you ever been in an art museum?  I have. I’m terribly fond of the Art Institute of Chicago, for starters, and have been in several others.  Do you happen to know what art museums are?  They’re exhausting.  Even if you’re grown, and you’re interested in art, they’re exhausting.  It is entirely possible– I have done this!– to be a grown, educated adult who is interested in art and accidentally walk right past, oh, incredibly famous works of pointillist art that you’ve seen in a million places before and not even realize it because that is what art museums do to your brain.  I have done this!  It had to be pointed out to me that I was in the same room as that painting.  And that painting is huge!  It’s literally ten goddamn feet wide and I missed it.

So, yeah.  First thing, then: Art museums are exhausting and those seats are there for a reason.  So shut up.  They are more exhausting when you’re fourteen.

Second thing: These kids are already almost certainly European– the museum is, after all, in Amsterdam– which means, as I consult my list of stereotypes, that they’re already smarter and more educated and Worldly than American kids anyway, and using a picture of some European kids to go arr wharglebargle blarg America RUINT!!!1!11!! is an especially obnoxiously American way to look at a picture.  I guarantee a good 2/3 of the people complaining are convinced they’re looking at American kids.

Third thing: Here’s the room this painting is in at the Rijksmuseum:

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 7.29.53 AMYou will note that they have provided quite a lot of seating space in this room.  It’s almost as if you’re expected to want to sit down at some point.  Here’s the same room from a slightly different angle, with people in it:


Note the old man on the right, sitting in nearly the same place the kids are and– argbjarglewharkleflarken!– checking his phone!

To continue the theme of Pictures, here’s a floor plan of the Rijksmuseum:


You can click on this to make it larger if you want; just know that the Night Watch is in the circled part at the top– and that the entrance to the museum is at the bottom.  In other words, the painting is specifically and deliberately put in a place where you have to walk through most of the museum to get to it.  So unless you proceed directly there immediately, you will have already Seen a Lot of Art by the time you get to the Night Watch room.

Here’s the thing: I have, on numerous occasions, taken fairly large groups of 7th and 8th graders on field trips to cultural destinations.  Long field trips.   Four day field trips.  So I have a passing acquaintance with how kids behave on these types of things.  Now, it is most likely that these particular kids are Hollish teenagers on a day trip of some sort, but it’s entirely possible that they’re from somewhere else and on a longer trip– and that, in other words, they’re probably exhausted by now.  Even if this museum is ten minutes from their homes, they’re still probably tired by now.

Do you know what you do when you’re taking students to a museum?  You let them go, and you tell them “We’re meeting in XXX place at XXX time.”  You do not try and keep a big group of kids together for the entire time you’re in the museum.  It doesn’t work.  If possible, you break them into smaller groups and put each of them with a chaperone, but there’s generally nothing wrong with just letting them go.  I’ve been doing this for years, literally, and have never had my kids get into any sort of bullshit while out in public.  Sometimes they get a little loud.  That’s it.

In other words: 1) There’s nothing wrong with sitting down in a museum; that museums, in fact, provide furniture for sitting, even in rooms with priceless works of art that one is expected to gaze reverently at for some length of time that an otherwise uninvolved denizen of the interwebs might deem appropriate;  2) It’s entirely possible that they’re sitting down because this is where they’re meeting everyone; 3) It’s also entirely possible– in fact, likely– that what a bunch of them are doing is showing each other pictures that they’ve taken during the trip, because not all of the museum is going to be a no-photography zone, and 4) stop being so judgy, asshole.

Lecture ends.  I should probably do some work now.

I’ve gotten a heads-up that this post is about to get a bit more attention than usual, so forgive me for this, but: Hi!  I’m Luther Siler.  There is a lot more blog where this post came from, and you can find me on Twitter at @nfinitefreetime.  I also write books about space gnomes and voyages to Mars that people have claimed to find amusing.  You might too!  Thanks for reading!

Not in jail yet

…although technically I haven’t avoided jail yet, as we’re still on the bus maybe an hour from home and I may have to murderbone one of these fools in the back of this bus to convince the others to get off my last nerve.

(Yes, that says murderbone, and is not a typo, although it was originally, one of my most frequent typos while trying to write on the phone being a “b” showing up when I’m trying to hit space. I decided I liked it.)

For the most part, though, this has gone better than I expected. The Museum of Science and Industry appears to have been entirely gutted and renovated since I was last there, which wasn’t terribly recently but wasn’t so long ago that it’s been lost to the mists of time or anything like that. The last time I was there it was outdated and frankly rather lame. That is no longer the case at all; it may be my favorite Chicago-area museum now.

More later tonight, maybe; typing on the phone on a bus is getting annoying. Assuming, again, that I don’t kill any of them. Have a picture:



Because I’m on a bus right now with sixty seventh graders, heading to a museum in Chicago.

Seriously MAKE ME DIE