Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Architects of Fear

     Many years ago, I watched an episode of ‘The Outer Limits’ called ‘ The Architects of Fear’ (it’s available on HULU) in which some scientists tried to find a way to unite the world. What they came up with was a common enemy. One of the scientists picking lots, lost and found himself transformed into a hideous alien. The world did come together under the threat of an alien invasion. What ‘The Outer Limits’ episode failed to delve into is what else, beside agreement to fight a common enemy, occurs when a deadly threat is thrust on the world. The world requires strong leadership. Oft times this leadership is reinforced with readily curtailed personal liberties. Many may be unaware that we are still living with the deeply unconstitutional Patriot Act, that was enacted after 9/11. Phone calls are monitored and recorded. Texts and social media is, as well. If certain words or other red flags occur during your interactions, it will be reviewed for any potential terrorist activity. People can be held indefinitely without being charged or even given an explanation. People can and have been tortured. New rules or lack of them can be kept secret from everyone. This matched with ever evolving technology makes for ever increasing intrusive means to police the populace. Facial recognition and genetic histories that are being bought and sold - and in the case of US citizens, we are paying companies to own our genetic history and our DNA, under the ridiculous guise that it will reveal our ethnicitie(s) and race(s). Every self- hating member of almost every ethnic and racial group readily sent in their hundred bucks. These companies now know who you are related to and what illnesses and vices you are predisposed to. They also now own your DNA and it can and will be sold without your permission or knowledge. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out where this could lead to - especially with our money hungry, savage healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. (Technology also makes it very easy to deep fake anyone on film and now leave genetic evidence as well.) The question I pose is, how can the one percenters - the ones who control the power in this nation and the world - achieve the goal of a compliant, passive and totally monitored populous?  A pandemic is one way, of course.

    In that now infamous province in China, there were reports of a lab that constructed  military grade viruses. Is that what this is? Something that was intentionally or mistakenly released to start the formatting of a New World order?  Does it matter? No, not really. The results will be the same. This virus has the potential to mutate and come back continuously. In order to ensure a  healthy and productive work force, it may be necessary to monitor all of us continuously, as well our physical locations - already done via our phones. Think body temperature, think genetic predisposition to this virus,  think actions that may weaken the body towards the virus. I read today some doctors speculate that young healthy people who vaped marijuana are especially hard hit if infected. Right after reading that I heard recreational marijuana is off the table for NYS. (I strongly believe all drugs should be legalized, in part because no government should be allowed to police our consciousness and also it is the only logical way to help addicts and greatly curtail crime. Drugs such as MDMA, DMT and psychedelics can change the world for the better. Eventually a Brave New World drug like SOMA will have to be legalized to further enslave the masses - I always thought it would be marijuana, but perhaps there’s something new that will be marketed.) So are teachers’ Spring break. No discussion, no refusal and not a word from the UFT. Hey there’s a pandemic going on - shut your mouth and do as your told. Look to your union president as an example of how you should behave. The European settlers of the New World decimated the native population via contagions. The British government and American entrepreneurs enslaved the Chinese with opium. We’ve recently lived through the opiate epidemic facilitated with Chinese fentanyl and now this. Are we experiencing karma on a national level?

    Are we willing to sacrifice personal liberties and privacy to remain safe? Overwhelmingly, I would say yes. Your lost Spring break will be the first in a series of painful acquiescences. This virus has the tremendous potential to make all of us compliant sheep and you know what happens to sheep.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Re-Post : Are You an Enabler?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Are You an Enabler?

    Every so often I'll watch Dr. Phil. Now Dr. Phil isn't a real doctor, he's just an average, albeit  charismatic guy with common sense. Lots of parents go on there and they all have the same problem. They are financially supporting a family member who shouldn't be supported. For instance, their twenty something year old isn't working, has a drug habit, keeps getting arrested, sneaks others in to have sex with and as a reward he/she gets a place to live, the car, money, and all their bills paid -including the phone. These parents don't know what to do and things are getting worse - the other siblings are horrified and losing respect for their parents; the parents are anxiety ridden and it's affecting their jobs and relationships with each other. Now it's common sense to know what to do - the problem is you have a life long relationship and deep loyality to this person, even though you're being used and manipulated. Actually doing the right thing isn't just right for you, but for the self destructing loved one. Unless you stop giving him/her what's wanted there is no reason for them to stop their behavior  - but this isn't enough, the person will more than likely have to be thrown out. This creates enormous guilt, but is nessesary for yourself, your beloved son/daughter and your family. It seems like every family in the country is going through this.

     Now this scenario seemed very familiar to me and it dawned on me that as a UFT member I was having a similar problem. I felt guilt in finally making the hard decision not to pay dues to an organization that has continually disrespected me over the past decade. They didn't even send me a ballot for the latest joke of an election. They lost my UFT retiree membership enrollment. Great news. Why did I even want to continue to give my money to this corrupt organization? Deep seated loyality and remembering the past when things were good. What motivation does the UFT have to change? None. What's going to happen if we continue to support the UFT? At best it will stay the same, but most likely the top down undemocratic actions of the UFT will get worse and not because of the Koch brothers or Gates - they have been on our backs for a long time (Gates' money incentivized Bloomy to close every large high school in the Bronx, with a completely impotent UFT watching on the sidelines). Don't rationalize the wrong decision to keep supporting Mulgrew and his cronies - they are using us and our money for their own self interests. They will cry Janus! from the rooftops. The real threat to the UFT is not from Janus - it's from the corrupt and deeply undemocratic Unity machine that strangles all legitimate dissent via rigged elections and completely silencing and/or assimilating their vocal critics. I could start a long egregious list of abysmal acts against the rank and file - ranging from A (for ATRs) to Z (for not backing Zephyr Teachout over Cuomo for governor), but if you're breathing you already know it all to well. They have absolutely no reason to change unless they are made to see what a truly f--ked up organization they are. I'll put my measly eight bucks in a jar and if the UFT ends the ATR pool, stops retirees from voting in elections, actively fights Fair Student Funding, actively speaks out against the Open Market, stop their loyality oaths, voting in blocks OR open their doors to any kind of inclusivity to those of us that are excluded, I'll rejoin and give them whatever is in the jar. You working stiffs will have to wait until June to opt out. I would have opted out last June, but James Eterno persuaded me to remain. Things haven’t become more democratic - it’s gotten worse - the few that were able to initiate positive change inside the snake pit are now newly elected Unity members. Maybe Mulgrew will see the writing on the wall before then and start representing those that need it most - veteran teachers, untenured teachers, ATRs and those teachers that have been targeted for exercising their well paid for rights. I see no other way.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Lessons to be Learned Part 2: Be Careful Who You Trust


     This morning I was watching Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick from Texas saying that seniors, like him, would risk getting infected to save the economy. My coffee cup nearly fell out of my hand. After my initial shock, I started questioning why this ‘person’ was being given a national platform and why his statement was being given any credence. This  Lieutenant governor is basically saying money is more important than lives. Maybe others’ lives are less important than money, but you can bet your bottom dollar that his is worth more than all the money ever printed - past, present and future - especially, if he says otherwise. Trump and his toadies on Fox News believe similarity, which is why this toady fromTexas suddenly became big news with his grand plan. I pictured Trump doing a jig in his boxers watching it. His businesses are bleeding money and if he can flip the switch, we’ll all be bleeding and his businesses will be pumping dollars. I thought to myself, watching this pathetic LG, that there must be a whole lot Texans kicking themselves over this guy, who is putting everyone’s life up for a game of spin the Corona bottle. This is a potential nightmare scenario for us as a nation - one that became a reality for NYC teachers last week.
    Last week, we had our own version of Dan Patrick, knowingly send people out to get sick and/or die. Not to ensure a stable economy, but to make sure automatic dues keep rolling in. You see, if  Michael Mulgrew had told his constituents, NYC Public School teachers, that all the schools were potentially unsafe, because of the virus; and/or that traveling into any school was potentially unsafe because of the virus; and/or that once surrounded by other teachers and administrators that the virus could be contracted from others; and/or that if the virus was contracted, it could infect others, including family members, then those statements could be seen unfavorably under the Taylor Law and the automatic dues checkoff stopped. That would mean teachers would have to consciously decide and make the effort to ensure the UFT got their dues. So instead of warning or stopping or advising teachers not to go in for a distant learning training, he remained silent. (I found it especially jarring, ironic and idiotic, as this was done right after he fought to close the schools.) When one sits and thinks about that silence and what that silence means, it speaks profoundly to what he is as an individual and what the UFT has become as an organization.  I don’t know about you, but if Mulgrew and the UFT tried to save my life and the lives of my family members, I would have no problem signing over my last dollar to him and the UFT. Likewise, I would have no problem pulling my last dollar from him and an organization that risked my life and the lives of my loved ones. As some of you get sick or worse, and I pray that is not the case, remember.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Lessons to be Learned ; Part 1 - Do Your Own Thinking

    As a product of Catholic school, thinking for oneself was a big no, no. When confronted with a question or answer that didn’t make sense, we were told it just was. We were also told to follow directions and never question or refuse a request from a teacher ( who were all Christian Brothers). We were to give our teachers the same respect as our parents or be met with severe punishment. It seems to me that many teachers in the DOE were similarly raised or later molded accordingly. I figured out long ago that I had to think for myself. What’s good for others, even those you trust, is not necessarily good for you. It’s saved my life several times, and if you don’t eventually learn this lesson it may eventually cost you everything you have.

    Last week, I had a friend call me to tell me she was going into her public school to learn distance learning. Of course, I did my best to dissuade her and told her she should learn distantly. Her response was the UFT would not allow her to be sent into a contaminated school. I told her you have to assume they are all contaminated. Then she said something that shocked me. She said, ‘if it’s my time, it’s my time. I’ve had a good life and if I die trying to help children then I’ll die a good death.’ I asked her to please think of all the people who love her and depend on her. She told me her children were grown and gone, and to stop worrying about nothing. Today she has a fever and bad cough. I told her husband there’s testing at Glenn Island Park in New Rochelle and he should take her there ASAP. He said he would.

    Now, ‘Jane’, is like many teachers I know. Good hearted, kind, trusting and completely loyal to the UFT, up to and including to the point where she has trusted them with her life. I said this once and I’ll say it again - if this doesn’t wake you up to what the UFT has become, then nothing will.

   Stay safe.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Meandering Thoughts, March 2020


   De Blasio continuously gives me pause. It’s much the same reaction I have when I listen to President Trump. Both are spectacularly incompetent and dangerous. They are dangerous because they are full of misinformation, platitudes and can create a tremendous urge towards self-destruction for any audience that may be listening to them. I already had one TV that committed suicide and jumped off my fireplace.

  This afternoon Big Bill was on again attempting to lengthen his 15 minutes of fame like a salt water taffy maker would have when creating that delectable treat. Every word out of his mouth reiterates panic and contradictions. To call him a hypocrite would be like calling Ghandi a good man - it goes far deeper than that. It got to the point today that I had to turn him off. He is THE turn off. His buffoonery has catapulted our old devilish fiend Cuomo into the stratosphere of demi -god. Andy  looks like a superstar because he has common sense. Common sense is in short supply these days especially from elected officials. I think this is the one trait that should be required in all elected officials. If you have a leader that has this one quality, you really can’t go wrong with that person in times of crisis.

    There are so many things that can come out of this current crisis that it boggles the mind. I cannot fathom that Biden or Trump will be our next president. Every time I see Andy on the TV, I think it’s going to be him. Watching Andy handle himself makes me think that scenario may not be such a bad thing. And that’s saying something for me. I have had a deep loathing for Andy for many years.  I’ve often seen him as the anthesis of his father Mario. It’s gotten to the point that I  never call the Tappanzee Bridge ‘The Mario Cuomo Bridge’ – not because of the father, it’s because of the last name. All of that has changed. Looking at Cuomo during this crisis, I’m thinking he could trounce Trump. I think Trump has figured that out as well, while making up with him. I’m still hoping for Bernie, of course.

    As weeks go into months, I do not foresee good things for NYC. I was in the Bronx this morning and saw large groups of teenagers openly smoking weed and being very boisterous. I don’t have a problem with that per se, but boredom, no guidance and lack of money isn’t a good mix. I’m sure the National Guard will be policing NYC, if this crisis continues. The Westchester parks were packed today. White parents can’t control their kids either and I saw a lot of frayed nerves. Then there’s the couples I’ve seen arguing. Divorces and pregnancies will be way up - hopefully not from the same couples.

    My school in Westchester is closed as well, of course. I thought today was Saturday and am back to going to bed at 3AM and getting up at 11. My gym is closed and with Boca Harry in town, I’m packing on the pounds. Well that’s ok, in retrospect. Please be cognizant of your health and the health of others. Stay well.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

March 2020 Vision in a Myopic World


   The past few days have been surreal. I rarely watch TV, but since the virus has started to expand here, it almost never goes off. I changed that yesterday. I turned off Trump, deBlasio and Mulgrew simultaneously. Bliss.  My daughter is doing six hours a day of distance learning. Her senior trip was canceled and her prom - with the possibility of graduation also. Additionally, we planned to visit several colleges this month - all cancelled. I decided to make a quick escape. I took a day trip up to Beacon with Boca Harry. (World famous for his pre-apocalyptic parties, he’s in town planning for the big one.)  This was only after visiting the supermarket. All the meat, toilet paper and cat food was sold out. I very rarely eat meat and have plenty of cat food and toilet paper - for now. There should be limits to how much of everything we are allowed to buy - especially if it’s essentials. In 1994, when I taught at Prospect Heights HS, I carried a roll of toilet paper in my book bag, because there was never any in the restrooms - many teachers ended up using the NY Post or Daily News (I’m not joking). No one reads actual newspapers anymore, and we can’t wipe our butts with our phones, so prepare accordingly. Ahem ...

   Back to my day trip. Beacon was basically shut down, except for a liquor store and a coffee shop that offered all types of beverages, including hard cider and wine. We spent most of the afternoon there relaxing by a waterfall and laughing with two attractive, out of work yoga instructors. Boca Harry then decided to look for more exotic alcohol (his favorite is Core Gin) so we visited the liquor store. Everywhere I went, no one was wearing gloves or masks, everyone was well oiled and everyone was looking for a good time.

   Knowing what I know about NYC, I’d say alcohol and drug use are way up. Boredom isn’t a good thing for those ill accustomed to it. Good thing I’m a boredom master because of five years as an ATR. I no longer ever get bored. I can chill in the middle of a riot or watching a Yule log. No matter where I go, there I am. Everything is a state of mind.

   Ok, what to do. Everything or nothing and everything in between. Many aren’t taking the virus seriously. Do so at your own risk and everyone else’s. I think there should be a two week national quarantine. If that doesn’t happen then, in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to self quarantine, unless you have an underlying condition. That’s not to say I’d be going into work at a Amazon or NYCDOE warehouse- but I would take precautions just for everyday activities. Gloves are needed. Go outside and get some exercise. Avoid crowds. Check in on older folks (via technology) and protect yourself from all dangers real and imagined. All my progressive, gun hating friends are buying out the gun shops. Keep those guns safely stored and stay well (and sober).

Monday, March 16, 2020

Call me Irresponsible 🎩

    As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m incessantly coughing and flushed. Could I have the virus? Possibly, but probably not. You see I get the same symptoms every March and April. I was thinking about the past few days, when my buddy who works at 52 Broadway got in touch. He said foot traffic outside Superman’s Ice Palace at 52 Broadway is down 90%. If this keeps up, I’d steer clear of Wall Street, as those folks won’t wait for the virus - they’ll be taking the roof. The economic fallout will wipe out all the gains from the past few years and then some. Trumpy shouldn’t have down played the danger of this virus and should have prepared. His arrogance and dyslexia will have profound effects and unfortunately cost lives. It should, however, see the end of him and his equally repulsive and arrogant counterpart, Bill deBlasio.
   Yesterday, DeBlasio finally agreed to close the schools. Well, it really wasn’t deBlasio - it was Cuomo. DeBlasio was on the tube telling us to stay away from groups of people, large and small, and all venues where they may congregate - bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms. One of my other buddies, who works out at Big Bill’s gym, texted me this morning - ‘Big Bird has landed and is doing the chicken dance’! Unbelievable! No not really. You see, the people we have entrusted to lead us are remarkably unprepared to do so - whether it be Trump, deBlasio or Mulgrew.
Mulgrew pleaded all weekend with deBlasio to close the schools. He even went so far as to call him
‘irresponsible’. When I read that I pictured Big Bill in a tux, singing and dancing to that oldie but goodie, ‘Call Me Irresponsible’. (I thought to myself - ‘oh yeah, that’ll work.’) Perhaps you’ll be reading just that in the next edition of ‘The NY Teacher’. Just the opposite was readily apparent to me. Mulgrew was the very picture of incompetence this weekend. Teachers were screaming at deBlasio. They should have been screaming at Mulgrew. Here’s the comment I wrote on the ICEUFT blog - ‘This really isn’t deBlasio’s problem, anymore. He does what he wants, when he wants, especially with the schools and with teachers. This is issue is now on Mulgrew. Mulgrew approaches every challenge from a predisposition of weakness. However, his letter is strongly worded for him - calling the mayor ‘irresponsible’, but it’s still a form of groveling and pleading ; hoping to get the parents to back him up, like a scared kid taking on a bully. Hasn’t he learned anything from his time with Bloomberg? Stop asking and start doing. No one, especially deBlasio, has any respect for Mulgrew (everything deBlasio has asked for he got on a silver plate - no interest teacher loans for our back pay, an expedited ATR termination process, an inferior contract with givebacks, no discipline policy, grade fraud, the list goes and on ), and most rank and file members no longer believe anything that comes out of Mulgrew’s mouth. If the Mayor refuses to close schools for an extended time period (and in all likelihood he will refuse) Mulgrew has to refuse to send teachers to them. That’s it. If he doesn’t do that, he may as well shut down the UFT, because as teachers and their families start getting sick or worse, he and the UFT will not be forgiven. . Nothing has changed. Incompetency is still being exhibited in all its glorious indifference by deBlasio and Mulgrew. No teacher should be training for anything inside a NYC public school, until they are thoroughly disinfected. The virus can live up to three days or more on uncleaned surfaces - so there’s no way Big Bill should be asking and no way Big Mike should be agreeing. I could go on and on for pages just about this, but you get it. The bottom line is you’re taking a big risk with your life and your family’s if you do go in, for what most definitely will be a ridiculous farce of an on the fly training.
    Now, that’s not to say distance learning isn’t a valuable asset. As the economy starts to sink deeper and deeper, the training, you may begin and endure tomorrow, may replace you in the near future. Wouldn’t that be ironic? Risking your life for a training, that could one day replace you, and Mulgrew readily agreeing to send you there. Just some thoughts for breakfast tomorrow morning. Stay well.