Forget it, Jake, it’s 2020

Enjoy the pretty flower; it’s likely to be the only pleasant thing in this post.

We went out and bought pumpkins and got the boy’s Halloween costume earlier today, and at some point during the trip I sighed, and my wife asked me why. My answer was that she should assume that if at any point between now and, oh, two or three weeks from now, she hears me sigh, it’s because I’m under an absolutely immense amount of stress basically all the time and I’m trying to discharge some of that.

Not that that’s specific to me, mind you; we’re all neck-deep in bullshit right now. We went to Target after the pumpkins because the boy needed new shoes and I got an email from a student apologizing for not turning in any work this week. She’d been in a mental hospital.

I wrote her back and told her she was to do none of the work for my class. I’m going to exempt her from everything she’s missed. I absolutely refuse to let my class be another source of stress for this kid. She doesn’t need it.

(Incidentally, I tweeted out this article about teaching and learning in 2020 earlier today, and I endorse every word of it.)

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide how vocal I want to be about calling upon a school board member to resign. If you remember my 2020 endorsements post, you may recall a tepid endorsement of current board member Leslie Wesley, who I don’t actually get to vote for or against because she doesn’t represent my district. I was, at the time, less encouraging a vote for her than a vote against her opponent, who is, to put it mildly, a local crank.

Unfortunately, Ms. Wesley got busted today for plagiarizing her candidate statement to the South Bend Tribune more or less in its entirety, basically just changing the city and district names of a 2018 California school board candidate’s essay. She first claimed that she’d written the piece in 2016 and actually accused the other woman of having plagiarized her, then switched her story to blaming a staffer, because people who run for school board need staff members.

Sure.

This is one of those situations where the initial situation is bad and then the lying about the initial situation just makes it even worse; her insistence in that article that nobody running for office ever writes their own articles is horseshit, because she’s not running for President, she’s running for fucking school board, and the initial suggestion that she’d simply just dusted off a statement from four years ago and reused it and slandering the stranger who got dragged into this against her own will is obscene.

There was also apparently a bunch of inflammatory bullshit on Facebook when this initially came out, all of which has been deleted, but including this charmingly inexplicable comment:

Hell, even if she’d written the statement in its entirety this year, any statement by a school board member trying to be reelected to office this year that never once mentions Covid, further not discussing the fact that she voted twice to return us to school, is not acceptable.

She needs to go. I would rather have a crank on the board than a shitty liar, and she’s a shitty liar even if she’s not a plagiarist. Fuck her. She needs to resign, to hell with the election.

So I gotta decide what I’m going to do about that. I considered using her picture on this post and decided against it; I thought about using her name in the headline and decided against that. I’m on Facebook under Luther’s name, not my real one. And my audience here isn’t as locally concentrated as one might thing, because my friends and family are all over the place.

(I wonder if WordPress has a way to do state-by-state traffic tracking? That might be interesting.)

At any rate, I can use my Big Platform, which probably isn’t as Big as I need it to be given how hyper-specific this issue is, or I can begin raising hell on my own, using my real name. It’s not like I haven’t gotten into the habit of emailing the entire board and the superintendent whenever the mood strikes me.

(Some Board members have replied to every message. The superintendent has replied to every message. Several Board members have replied to at least one. I have never heard a single word back from Ms. Wesley. Perhaps she doesn’t have a staffer to check her mail for her.)

Anyway, I gotta think about this. But if you are local, and especially if you’re in the third district for the School Board race, be aware of this, and if you haven’t voted yet, please vote accordingly.

In which … something, I suppose

I have news of immense personal and familial value to share, but I’m waiting for somebody to take my leash off so I can do said sharing. And as of right now, I remain leashed. So I gotta come up with something else to talk about today.

Y’know. Like a chump.

Today was the first day of hybrid learning, and it was also yet another day of utterly shit covid numbers from both the nation, the state of Indiana, and my county. The number of kids in my classes ranged from three to, I think, five, or perhaps seven at the high end. Tomorrow will be similar, and then next week once the kids have realized that “return to in-person schooling” does not, in fact, even vaguely resemble anything like the school they remember, our in-person attendance is going to drop even lower than that. Luckily for me, I’ve gotten over the guilt. The people who were in my classroom today had the easiest gig in the world, and it’s only going to get easier.

On the other hand, there’s at least one more teacher in the building approved to work from home, and an email went out this morning looking for volunteers to cover her classes, so we’ve already run out of subs and available bodies on the first day. In, I must needs remind you all, in accordance with prophecy.

We’ll see how long it lasts. Word is the health department is about to put their foot down on this whole mess; we’ll see.

On yard signs

I had to do some running around tonight– I had my final LASIK follow-up appointment, and stopped by my dad’s to mutilate him give him a haircut, and I have some thoughts. Now, these should not be taken especially seriously, and I want to emphasize that they are based on a snapshot of maybe 10-15 miles of driving on a small number of streets in the Democratic part of Indiana. Take this all with a substantial amount of salt.

Nonetheless!

  • In general, there are fewer yard signs out than I would normally expect this close to the election.
  • Most of the signs that are out are for local or statewide races. There are a lot of school board signs, and more than I’d expect for the coroner’s race.
  • There are a handful of yards on this drive that can be reliably counted upon to have a sign for everyone running in whatever political party the house belongs to. Interestingly, while the Democratic houses all have Biden signs, the Republican houses do not have signs for the other guy. Houses with signs for him tend to have only a sign for him.
  • If you have this in front of your house I’m going to assume you’re a crazy person:

I assume that the stake is because of vampires. Like, seriously, people, the man is an atheist and he hates you.

  • I only saw one yard with that sign but it’s uncomfortably close to my house.
  • There is no gubernatorial race. Not one sign for Holcomb, even in the “we have signs for everyone” yards, and none on their own, and not one sign for his opponent anywhere.
  • There are also a couple of houses that reliably have large signs for Jackie Walorski– like, the size that require 4×4 posts driven into the ground– and those houses do not have signs up for That Guy either.

Again, draw no conclusions from this and I make no predictions. I’m mostly writing this now so that I remember to compare it to what that same drive looks like on, say, the 30th.


Many moons ago, I had a kid in my class named, oh, let’s call him Lafayette, for the usual “it amuses me for reasons I won’t reveal” rationale. Lafayette transferred into my room in December, and on his first day took a seat as far away from everyone as he could get and didn’t make a sound. He got called down to the office after about an hour and didn’t come back. When I inquired about it later, I was told that he’d been expelled from his previous school for threatening to murder his teacher, and that we were honoring the suspension. He’d be back in January.

For the record, while he wasn’t a great student by any stretch of the imagination, I had no real discipline problems with Lafayette. He was, on his worst day, squarely in the middle of that group in terms of his behavior.

The year after I had him, a photo of him went Facebook viral, as his mother forced him to stand on a street corner for several hours carrying a sign announcing to everyone who drove by that he was failing all of his classes and was generally not a good person. I can’t find the picture now, but it still resurfaces every now and again.

Several years later, at 16, he was arrested for attacking an elderly woman, beating her unconscious, and stealing her car. He’s in state prison now; the soonest he has any chance of getting out is 2027. I assume he was tried as an adult.

His younger brother, who wasn’t ever in my class but who I met at least once, is currently the subject of a manhunt for murder. They haven’t caught him yet, but his face is all over the place.

In which I might do it anyway

I feel like “you need to reconsider this decision, and you need to reconsider it right now, before someone dies” might be slightly too intemperate of a message to send the School Board and the superintendent, but this is where I’m at right now:

Three mini-posts

I did, unfortunately, end up watching most of the “debate” last night, giving up at about the 2/3 mark when it became clear that the Beast was not going to stroke out or have a heart attack while I was watching. It was every bit as horrible and depressing as everyone says it was; there simply should not be further debates while this person is in office. There’s no goddamn point. There have been some rumblings that the rules are going to change from the debate commission, but if they’ve provided any specifics I’ve not seen them yet. Basically unless the moderator has the power to cut microphones there’s no further point in entertaining the exercise any longer.

We missed the sadly predictable moment where he refused to condemn white supremacy. Which … no one should have been surprised. White supremacists, the Klan, and the Nazis are clearly his people, and there has been no reasonable doubt about that for quite some time. He’s not going to condemn them because he’s one of them. That’s all there is to it. And yes, you are a bad person if you continue to support him. It’s not up for debate.


I think it is still the case that I own every album-length release Public Enemy has put out, including their live album. I generally find out about them by accident now, though, and while it’s kind of depressing it’s been true for a while that the band’s best days are behind them. The fact that they continue to mine the well of songs from Yo! Bum Rush the Show and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back after all these years is … well, it’s a choice, is what it is, and true to form this release has three or four different tracks that pull material from those two albums, plus a remake of Fight the Power with a bunch of new verses by non-PE rappers.

That said … I think I”m on my seventh or eighth listen already, and I just discovered it on Tuesday, so they’re doing something right. I mean, it’s PE. It’s Chuck D and Flavor Flav, despite the fact that Flav has been kicked out of the band at least seven or eight times by now. I’m enjoying it.


I got an email from Human Resources this afternoon, late enough in the day (no doubt on purpose) that there was no real point in asking for any clarification, informing me that my request for a length-of-the-pandemic e-learning job had been approved. (I assume it’s length of the pandemic. How long this job is slated to last was not mentioned, and honestly I can’t criticize them for not knowing.)

This rather portentous paragraph was in the message:

As we begin to start school back next week,  please be aware that your grade level, subject, or building designation could change based on the demand for eLearning in the school corporation.   We will continue to modify based on student attendance, eLearning requests, and building needs. 

Now, next week is the last week of the quarter, so my assumption is that I still have my current job next week. But I literally have no idea what they will have me doing the week after that. None at all. I mean, I’ll probably still end up teaching math in my current building, because seniority, but I have no idea.

And, I suspect, neither do they.

The pandemic started in March, y’all.

So that’s fun.