Hurry, Gwen, They're Killing People!

You don't have to be in the JW camp, with its cautious stance toward 'entertainment overload,' to conclude that 7.5 media entertainment hours a day is a lot.  I mean, what with sleeping and work/school, is there really time for anything else? Yet the Kaiser Family Foundation just released a ten-year study that indicates today's young people do exactly that, be it TV or YouTube or Hulu or Facebook or Twitter or Tooter or God knows what else. And since they multi-task, they manage to wring 10 hours' content out of that 7.5. Kids [from another source, not Kaiser] are developing rickets, of all things. Rickets!....that disappeared 200 years ago. And yes, Kaiser found all the correlations you would expect: lower grades (from an already dismal level in the U.S.) and increased trouble with the law.

Kaiser said the largest block of time percentage-wise was still TV (counting streaming video), so I'll limit my remarks to that. Besides, that's what I know best. It's my generation. With regard to newer technologies, I know enough internet to blog, of course, but I'm hardly cutting edge. And if you ask me WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) I will reply that Jesus would use a phone with a wire attached to the wall - he would never use a cell phone, let alone one with 'apps'! So TV is what I'll write of.

One of the toughest things about working in the group home was that the TV was always on. It was sort of like a shrine in the center of the house, and it wasn't easy to avoid. The volume was always turned up. And...what was it?....it wasn't so much the soft porn, though there was plenty of that. And it wasn't so much the graphic violence, though there was plenty of that, too. It was the breathtaking stupidity of most of it.....a common thread you never got away from.

"Hurry Gwen, they're killing people!" I'd holler when CSI or some like show was coming on. "Oh boy, now we're talking!" she'd respond. "Blood and guts! That's what I want to see!" I'd once said something 'judgmental' about such programs, only to find that she loved them, so I gave it up. You can't change grown people. Besides, she was a good worker, likable, and I got along with her well. Why, as Eccles 7:16 queries, be 'righteous overmuch?' We'd joke about it -we had our lines down pat - what else could one do? "Why'd God make bad people?" I'd ask. "To kill em!" she'd reply. On nights too busy for her to fit in the shows, I'd offer to call the TV station. "Can you cut out the plots tonight?" I'd propose. "We're a little tight on time right now. Just line the folks up, good and bad alike, and kill em! We'll fill in story ourselves."

One day Gwen came to work with an axe and killed three co-workers and.....Oh, all right!...I made that part up, but you never know when she may start! I must have seen hundreds of TV murders that season, and that's without trying. I mean, I didn't glue myself to the set, as some did, but you'd still stumble across several per night.

Actually, those Law and Order type shows are not the ones I have in mind for "breathtaking stupidity." The writing here was generally crisp, even clever, though obsessed with sex and violence. But they were ever apt to become propaganda pieces for contemporary issues. One character would parrot boiler-plate liberal lines for a given topic; another would spit back the conservative line - man, I hate being preached to by TV cops! In my experience, law enforcement people don't do that. Largely apolitical, they go about their work with a gallows humor, ever convinced that, in true SNAFU fashion...Situation Normal - All F**ked Up (**'s mine)...their best efforts will be undone owing to some screw-up at higher levels.

No, the real drivel and tripe was to be found in reality and gossip shows. These I couldn't abide at all (nor could Gwen), though I might be sucked into a 'cops and robbers' program sometimes. TV execs went orgasmic when they discovered, not only will people debase themselves for free, but others will tune in to watch them do it! And celebrities....listen, they're okay if they're singing or acting or whatever they're supposed to be doing, I guess, but get them talking -like in an interview.....well, four times out of five, you just don't want to do that. I mean, as often as not, they don't know anything, yet these are the role models put before kids 7.5 hours a day.

Make no mistake, this 7.5 hours is not the fault of the kids - you don't blame them for it - but of the adults and of a society that cannibalizes its young, exploiting them for money, pitching them product after fad after gadget, hooking them in any way a profit can be made. More specifically, it's my generation at fault - all of those in it really, except me, oh....and others of Jehovah's Witnesses.  Um...and a lot of others too. In fact, most persons are exempt as individuals. But collectively there is much blame. Fueled by self-interest and a colossal misunderstanding of what makes people tick, the world embraced values that almost guaranteed decay - the only question was 'when.' Regarding the Kaiser study, the FCC is said to be studying the findings. Do you think they'll do anything? Not anything of substance, anyway. Maybe they'll invent some ratings, offer some recommendations, coupled with stern warnings that parents ought to do a better job in monitoring what their kids view. Well....who would argue with that?...that's how I ended up at that Weezer concert....wasn't I the only grownup there?...but a healthy society constructs itself so as to not make a parents' job impossible; in the final analysis, you sort of need parents if you think the species ought to survive. And no parent wants to play 'bad cop' 7.5 hours a day, even if, by some miracle, they have the time to do it.

I remember when Paul McCartney was said to have died in a car crash, and the other Beatles covered it up with a look-alike, and campus radio spoke of nothing else for days on end. My roommate urged me (unsuccessfully) to install a reverse gear on my turntable so as to play all Beatle records backwards, looking for hidden clues such as were to be found in Strawberry Fields (I buried Paul) or Revolution #9 (turn me on, dead man). The mainstream media was oblivious to the story, notwithstanding that the Beatles were the most popular rock group to date. They didn't ignore substantive news to break in breathlessly with update after update, as they would today, as they recently did with....say...the Tiger Woods sex escapades. I recall only one grumbling opinion piece, after several days had elapsed, to the effect that the Beatles...those precocious kids... may have fooled us all with their practical joke, but it was a sick laugh they must be having. That's how it was with 'young people' stories. I was upset about it. I wanted more airtime for our g-g-g-generation. Some sensational group would be the rage among the young - I'd want to see them on TV, and all I'd get was a lousy five minutes at the end of the Ed Sullivan show!

No, I didn't like it. But now I see it was a protection, from adults who still felt a collective sense of responsibility toward the younger generation. Or maybe they were just fuddy-duddys out of touch with changing times, but nonetheless, it was a protection. Let kids have their own generation, let them cultivate their own interests, but not to the exclusion of all else. Construct your society so that doesn't happen. Link them with ideas of the past, ideas that have roots, ideas that have endured over time.

Sigh....has not the now-older generation largely given up on their roots...roots that didn't work out too well, anyway, so as to live vicariously through their young? That's why the prurient interest in youngster's 'sexuality.' That's why pedophilia episodes get top ratings. That why the VH1 "news special" The New Virginity, (younger staff watching it eagerly at the group home, convinced they're watching real 'news') whipping up interest in how long this or that young celeb will hold out.

That's why I don't chafe much at the Watchtower's cautions on today's entertainment, even though, just between you and me, they lay it on pretty thick. But they don't lay it on 7.5 hours a day, do they? Take it as a sign of concern. These are decadent times. There is a place for forthright counsel, and one does well to take it to heart.

**********************

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Pundits, Michael Jackson, and Joe

After his 2003 acquittal on molestation charges, it barely mattered which pundit you read - the verdict was the same: Michael Jackson was all washed up. Yes, his flamboyant lawyer may have gotten him off, those pundits conceded. But the public knew better, and they were fed up. From now on, it was asserted, Michael was a has-been - a footnote, a freak. He was tabloid entertainment, and nothing more. His career was wasted, his relevance was long gone. When he died some eventual day, would anyone even notice or care?

But now it's clear that the only ones irrelevant - the only ones out of touch - were those pundits themselves. One week after Michael Jackson's death, an L.A. police official anticipates his funeral: "We are preparing for an event of historic proportions," he says. When the news first broke, Google had to shut down access to the story, so numerous were the inquiries. I've seen everyone except the governing body doing Michael Jackson moonwalk steps on YouTube!

Those pundits had him convicted on that molestation charge, even if the courts had not. They'd presented him to the world guilty as sin, rescued only by legal spin. But it ought to be manifest by now that the public didn't buy it. That's not to say he wasn't eccentric, if not downright strange, but you don't go to jail for being strange. At least, not usually. As for me, I recalled the prosecutor's star witness was a kid who's family had brought similar charges against others in the past, and had been well paid for it. Now....when you're going into a fight, you lead off with your best punch, and if a veteran paid victim was the best punch they could muster......well, I just figured Michael was the target of overzealous prosecution.

This is not the first time we've seen pundits living on a different planet. Lee Chugg used to marvel how Awake! magazine could capture the real concerns of whatever 3rd world people they were covering, whereas Time or Newsweek could not. The latter would descend as if from a different world - overeducated and privileged beyond words compared to their subjects. So confident that their priorities - that of human, and usually government, solutions - must also be the priorities of their interviewees. So subtlety dismissive of anything smacking of tradition, superstition, or religion. The local folk knew they were dealing with a different, self-aggrandizing breed....and would tell them whatever they wanted to hear. Awake's people, on the other hand, were neighbors - cut from the same cloth - not above or beneath in rank, and they'd come away with the real picture.

Who are these pundits, anyway? From where do they come? Don't they stem from that obnoxious kid in school who was always going to "tell?" None of us could stand that kid. Even though things sometimes went down that really needed telling - still we knew, or at least suspected, that kid had ulterior motives. He just liked to get others in trouble and/or elevate his own importance. And when that kid graduated, he (or she) became a journalist. Oh, they're not all like that, I suppose, but enough of them are that even the genuine ones come under suspicion.

The same pundits who once told us Michael was washed up, now tirelessly tell us that, while his mama was a saintly Jehovah's Witness, his father was an over-controlling tyrant who beat his kids - thus accounting for the singer's woes. Well.....maybe.....but I'm certainly not buying it on their say-so. Frankly, two or three generations ago everybody beat their kids, if by beating you mean spanking and such forms of corporal punishment. It was thought to be an element of discipline. The first to give it up was the strata from which came most journalists, and after passage of time had sufficiently distanced them from the practice, they proceeded to browbeat everyone else over it. Black families were among the last to give it up, and now the practice is regarded as near (sometimes actually) criminal. It's an amazing turnaround in a relatively short time. I'm not arguing to bring it back, mind you, but it's by no means clear that its abandonment has given us a more secure, well-adjusted crop of kids. So no, I don't necessarily buy that about Joe. It's too easy for those on their high horse to cherry pick past events, ignore extenuating circumstances, and portray flaws as if they were absolutely normal routine. Can any of these pundits really identify with raising nine kids in the inner city? In an age where men walk away from large families and responsibility, Joe recognized and nurtured the charismatic talent his youngsters' possessed. Were it not for Joe's "over-controlling," none of those now-idolizing pundits would ever had heard of Michael Jackson.

And as for the "saintly JW mama".....well....of course...aren't we all? Saintly, I mean.

Back when I used to banter with Nate Dredge the Mormon, (oh oh. He's fallen off the wagon, I see - his last post almost 4 months ago) we used to compare our respective 70's child superstars. Mormons had Donny Osmond. We had Michael Jackson. Alas, our guy flew a lot higher than theirs, but as is now clear, it was at great personal cost. I used to imagine he might one day return to the faith from which he had veered. But it wasn't to be. Publications of Jehovah's Witnesses frequently caution that fame in this world is not without price - that the world stands ever-ready to devour those it glorifies. Who would ever think that the most striking example would come someone once within our own ranks?

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Atheist Hall of Fame

My heart sunk right into my toes when I read that Randy Newman was an atheist, just after I posted that he was not. But I see now for sure that he is, because he is listed on the Michael Nugent Famous Atheist Site. There's a lot of famous people there. For example, from the Nugent site (with my comments in brackets):

Douglas Adams (1954-2001)

 

Douglas Adams was an atheist British writer who wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [I liked that book], Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and several episodes of Doctor Who. [HA! I knew it] He described himself as a ‘radical atheist’ in order to distinguish himself from agnostics. .....In his final book, The Salmon of Doubt, published in 2002, Adams addresses people who believe that God must exist because the world so fits our needs. He compares them to an intelligent puddle of water that fills a hole in the ground. The puddle is certain that the hole must have been designed specifically for it because it fits so well. The puddle exists under the sun until it has entirely evaporated.

 

[Whoa! What a devastating illustration! All you need do for it to be perfect is find an intelligent puddle of water]

 

Bjork (born 1965)

 

Bjork is an atheist Icelandic singer and actress whose first solo album, Debut, was named Album of the Year by NME. In 1994, she said

 

:

‘I’ve got my own religion. Iceland sets a world-record. The UN asked people from all over the world a series of questions. Iceland stuck out on one thing. When we were asked what we believe, 90% said, ‘ourselves.’ [sigh...of course] I think I’m in that group. If I get into trouble, there’s no God or Allah to sort me out. I have to do it myself.’

In 1995, Bjork said

:

‘I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say f**k the Buddhists.’

[*'s mine]

 

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

 

Isaac Asimov was an atheist Russian-born American writer and professor of biochemistry, whose prolific output of over 130 books covered science fiction, mysteries, popular science, history and memoirs. In 1982 ,

Asimov said:

 



‘I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, [now it's intellectually unrespectable to say anything else] because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic.....

[as I posted here, Asimov might have faired better had he become one of Jehovah's Witnesses]

Richard Branson (born 1950)

Richard Branson is an atheist British entrepreneur whose Virgin group includes more than 350 companies. He is also involved in humanitarian projects and holds world records in long-distance ballooning. Writing in his autobiography about one of these balloon trips,he said:

 

 

‘I do not believe in God, but as I sat there in the damaged capsule, hopelessly vulnerable to the slightest shift in weather or mechanical fault, I could not believe my eyes.’

Richard Dawkins (born 1941) and Sam Harris (born 1967)

 

[tell me about it. I've got a whole category on the latter fellow, and a bone to pick with the former]

....................................

Wow! Just look at that roster of atheists! They've got impressive people on their side! But it was my posts about Randy Newman and this blog in particular that led me to the Nugent site:

And guess who's in our corner? Well, maybe not in our corner, but at the very least not in THEIR corner. I'll wait...

Go on, guess...

It's in the title....

Ok, it's

Randy Newman! Take a look. It seems his dad was a pretty outspoken atheist and he picked up some of it. You just never now who's gonna be on your side these days, do you?

 

.....................................

Well....oh yeah?! Oh, yeah? OH YEAH?!!! Just look who we have on OUR corner:::

We've got Prince! HAH?! How about that?!! Prince, who played the half time show at last years SUPERBOWL, the most important football game in the whole wide world!!

And we've got Venus and Selena Williams!!! Did you reflect upon THAT?! The Williams sisters, who've dominated woman's tennis for years and who've pounded all challengers into MUSH!!

Mickey Spillane, the most-selling author of the 20th century! NOW I bet you're sorry you took us on, aren't you?!! His hard-hitting fictional private investigator, Mike Hammer, was the most graphically violent character of his time, and he became LESS SO after Mr. Spillane became a Witness in 1952.

Okay, okay, it's a bit juvenile, isn't it? I mean, in a world of several billion people, you don't think ANY group can claim some celebrities? And is it really so that having celebrities on your side somehow bolsters your case? Some of the silliest people to have ever walked the planet are celebrities (all of them, really, except our guys). They don't lead the same lives we do. They don't face the same pressures. Having them in your camp is not that big of a deal.

Actually, the three I've referred to are somewhat of an aberration. It's well known that the Watchtower organization discourages basking in this system's limelight in favor of low-key Christian activity. The above persons have never been in Watchtower print, but all the time we read of this or that character who forsook potential or actual fame so as to "have a fuller share" in service to God. Trust me, we are criticized for it from those who think achieving fame is the purpose of life, yet our stand is in harmony with the Bible, which matters most to us:

But we exhort you, brothers, ......to make it your aim to live quietly and to mind your own business and work with your hands just as we ordered you; so that you may be walking decently as regards people outside and not be needing anything.  1 Thes 4:10-11

The world's values and the Bible's values are pretty much opposite, so being prominent in the former usually poses unique challenges towards the latter. Generally, our people conclude they are not in position to attempt both. But not always, as the above examples show.

 ***************************

Tom Irregardless and Me       No Fake News but Plenty of Hardship

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Serena, Venus, and Obama

It is a strange quirk of contemporary life that the two dominant players in woman’s tennis today are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Moreover, they are sisters. Imagine, year after year ….seven of the last nine, the Wimbleton crown boils down to a family affair, one sibling or another, sometimes a deciding duel between them. That’s how it was this year, with Venus finally besting her sister Serena to capture the crown.

It’s a strange quirk because, for one, there’s not that many of Jehovah’s Witnesses to start with, and for another, they generally keep out of the limelight. Indeed, they are encouraged to do so. Watchtower literature is replete with accounts of persons who gave up potential or even actual stardom in this or that field so as to “have a greater share in the ministry.” Fame and spirituality abound with conflicts. You can get yourself in odd situations, as Prince did. How many superstars manage not to get a big head? How many have marriages that last more than ten minutes? Some do both, of course, but with lesser mortals idolizing their every move, and photographers hounding them everywhere, it is a significant challenge.

But the counsel to go low-key is just that: counsel. It’s not law. It serves to sway the majority of Jehovah‘s Witnesses, being from a respected source and all. Still, individuals embrace it only to the extent they are inclined or feel able, for any number of reasons. As for the Williams sisters…..well, they just like to play tennis, I guess.

Because they’re celebrities, everyone wants to know their opinion on everything, and because they are black…..what about the first black Presidential candidate? Are they excited about Obama? Venus declined the question. But Serena effused she was "excited to see Obama out there doing his thing.''...."I'm a Jehovah's Witness, so I don't get involved in politics. We stay neutral. We don't vote,'' she said. "So I'm not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn't for my religion.''

Now, for the most part, no one cares. She’s not voting? Ah, well, just one more odd factoid about a quirky religion. But here and there were some critics with very pronounced opinions.

For example, the “friendly atheist” passed this very unfriendly judgment: "Because we all know God hates people who have a sense of civic duty." And a race-oriented blog whose URL I have misplaced fretted that Serena was letting down the entire black race! What if all blacks were Jehovah’s Witnesses and didn‘t vote? the blog host opined. Why, then Obama wouldn’t have a chance. What about that, Serena?

A number read into Serena’s remarks that she, and by extension all of Jehovah’s Witnesses, would love to vote for the next Pres, but the over-controlling, mean JW organization won’t allow it. Vic Vomidog, author of Forty Years Down the Toilet….My Wasted Life with Jehovah’s Witnesses, was of that opinion. Even the Associated Press bought into that view, writing that the Williams sisters "say they're not allowed to vote because of their religion." 

Jehovah’s Witnesses take any number of positions that go against the grain of contemporary thinking today. It’s well, when called upon to explain why we do this or don’t do that, that we give a reason. For example, you don’t say we don’t accept blood transfusions because we’re Jehovah’s Witnesses. You say we don’t accept blood transfusions because the Bible speaks against it. That's not a detailed answer, of course, but it points in the right direction.

You don’t say we don’t celebrate Christmas because we’re Jehovah’s Witnesses. You say we don’t celebrate Christmas because the day is not Christ’s birthday, because he never said anything about celebrating his birth anyway, and because most Christmas customs come from non-Christian sources.

Sometimes it’s just as well to deflect the question. Not that you’re ashamed of your position. It’s just that you want to be known primarily as one who trusts in God’s Kingdom, or who makes known God’s name and purposes. You don’t especially want to be known primarily as one who doesn’t take blood and doesn’t celebrate Christmas. As a corollary to your main position, okay, but not as a main position in itself. So, for example:

Q: “So how was your Christmas?”

A: “Quiet.”

Now, what do you say about not voting? Look, the Williams sisters are athletes, not JW spokespersons. They can hardly be expected to give long-winded statements on religious convictions. Few want to hear it anyway. Easier to say “we can’t do it.” Serena’s answer’s not bad, really. She said we are neutral. We are. Frankly, I don’t know any quick sound bytes to give reporters when asked about voting. Oh, I suppose you can say “our vote is for the Kingdom” or some such pious remark, but it leaves an odd taste, doesn’t it? and raises as many questions as answers.

The Bible uses the word “ambassadors” illustrating for us the politically neutral role Christians are to play:

“We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ’Become reconciled to God.’”    2 Cor 5:20

If you were an ambassador from a foreign country stationed here in the U.S. (where I am), you would adapt to all laws and customs locally. You’d likely come to love the land in which you live, and its people. But when it came to the politics of your host country, you wouldn’t take a position…nor would anyone expect you to. It is not your business…your business is to represent wherever you are ambassador from. Even if heavy issues develop and positions evolve for which, since you live here, you may have some feelings, still, it is not your job to take sides. Your lack of involvement would not be because of callousness, or apathy, or lack of interest in fellowman…but it is simply not your place, representing another government, to take sides in the disputes of your host country.

Now, God’s Kingdom is a government very real to Jehovah‘s Witnesses. It is the government with which God will bring an end to human rule, unite all peoples, restore earth to it’s original paradise state, and extend everlasting life to all those under it’s rule. We view it as the only hope for mankind. No amount of tweaking of human governments will ever approach what God brings through his own rule. We believe that it rules from heaven now, and will shortly extend its rule earth wide. Those who believe in it are charged to represent it, to announce it….in effect, to act as ambassadors of that government. And an ambassador does not vote in the country in which he is stationed.

There. That's an explanation. But it runs substantially longer than a sound byte, doesn't it?

I only came across one other place on the web that gave a reasonably accurate reason for our non-voting. Here.It seems worthy of mention, if only because it stands alone.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Few Odd Fellows But Plenty of Weirdos

Mrs. Sheepandgoats and I blew into Ithaca just as the whole city was about to “stand up for peace.” Of course, we didn’t know they were going to do that. We’d just come down to catch the tail end of the three day music festival. But we hadn’t been in town more than half an hour before some counterculture type person urged us to get to Stewart Park where, at 3 PM, folks would congeal into a giant peace sign. They planned to photograph it from the air and submit it to the Guinness World Record organization. Instead, we risked being seen as warmongers and stayed in the Village Court section, where a cajun band called Bayou Road Krewewas playing.

For a quick mini-excursion, you can’t go wrong traipsing down to Ithaca. My wife and I do it a lot. Just 90 miles southeast of our Rochester home, Ithaca is a college town. SUNY (State University of New York) at Ithaca perches high on the hill to the south and Cornell University straddles the eastern one. The city proper is crammed on a shelf at the foot of Cayuga Lake, but it doesn’t really fit, so it flows up into the surrounding hills, climbing as if ivy. Up there, the streets…commendably gridlike on the shelf…throw off all restraint and writhe here, there, and every confusing where. Descending one of those hills on a snowy day is no job for an atheist.

Four or five creeks cascade from the heights into Cayuga Lake. “Ithaca is Gorges” say t-shirts and bumper stickers. It’s true. Gorges cut deep into the earth right through the heart of the city - two of them pass through Cornell itself. Students bustle on campus above while, two hundred feet down, others hike the gorge as if in a different world. Within ten miles of the city can be found over one hundred waterfalls…I’ve heard some say as high as 150 (Mrs Sheepandgoats and myself strive to find them all).….and some of them are truly spectacular. The local earth museum highlights the fossils and sedimentary layers thus exposed. Try visiting sometime, as I have, with Tom Pearlsandswine. Hear him muttering throughout about the “wiles of Satan,” and challenging museum staff at every exhibit. You’ll want to bury your own head in that sediment.

So alluring is Ithaca that some graduate from the colleges and stay put. They obtain four year or six year degrees, then they hole up in some commune on the hills growing organic food. Or work at the local bookstore. Or start an earth-friendly “green” business. According to this webmaster, Ithaca’s been called "One of America's Most Enlightened Communities" and one of "The Top 10 Places to Drop Out of Society." Perhaps the two titles aren’t as mutually exclusive as they at first appear.

An eclectic bunch….some of them. Generally quite pleasant, though you can’t be one who clucks his tongue at unusual characters. Opening day parade for the music festival consisted of “an automotive ballet composed of a procession of Volvos in synchronized driving formation. A group of burly He-Men toting chainsaws as if they were trombones…..A distinct absence of Odd Fellows, but no shortage of weirdos,” according to the Ithaca Journal. I’m told by the local congregation that these folks tend not to be real receptive to the Bible’s message, perceiving it as a ploy to restrict their freedom. I once worked with a young woman whose divorced father turned up years later as a nudist in Ithaca. So I’m not so sure I want to run down to Stewart Park and make a giant peace sign with them. Besides, what would Winged Migration Man (WMM) say? Were any of his old buddies among those who called the peace sign the "footprint of the American chicken?"

WMM is the retired fellow who spent 24 years on a nuclear submarine (see comment section) keeping the world safe, he maintains, by deterring Soviet attack. It sounds plausible enough to me. And if he plays the “Neville Chamberlain” card, I will absolutely acquiesce to him. Mr. Chamberlain was the British Prime Minister…there were several like him… who “stood for peace” just prior to WWII. He reached agreement after agreement with the tyrannical Nazis, each of which was broken, yet each time he was lauded to the heavens as a great peacemaker. But history judges him harshly. Had he and his peers stood up to Hitler early on, tens of millions might not have died. Unfortunately, hawks tend to see Hitler everywhere, and are ever ready to strike. Many say the current President is like that. Only in hindsight do we know which concerns were appropriate and which were overrated.

Besides, an aerial peace sign strikes me as a frivolous gesture…..appropriate for a music festival, okay - but for a serious political statement? What if it had rained that day instead of the picture perfect weather that was really had? Would even half of the participants have shown up? You must understand that I come from a people (Jehovah’s Witnesses) that have stood for peace when it cost them their freedom and, in some cases, their lives. Over 10,000 Witnesses were incarcerated in Nazi Germany for their neutral stand during the 1930‘s and 1940‘s. In the United States, 4300 were jailed for refusing military service. To this day, our draft-age people in certain countries are routinely incarcerated for their peaceful stand. So having seen people really stand for peace, I don't read too much into a human peace sign on a sunny day of leisure.

About 6000 people assembledfor the big sign. It will be a record if Guinness accepts it, since they’ve not yet kept track of peace signs. An organizer enthused that "we're not going to trash any weapons because of this, but if everybody has the same idea in their mind, that they are coming together in peace and unity, then there's a community started." Um….yeah….I guess....whatever that means.

Actually, there is one circumstance in which I gladly would have taken part. If I could have driven down with a busload of my friendsfrom the home. It would have been a win-win for all. My friends would have had a ball…..they’d each have gotten a peace sticker. Since about half are in wheelchairs, they'd take up more space when seen from above, a plus for the organizers. Civilians could easily be drafted to wheel them around, especially in Ithaca. And if Carolyn decided to indulge in her favorite ranch dressing and milk beverage, or if Jackie ate her peace sticker, no one would bat an eyelash. They’d chalk it all up to our beautiful diversity.

………………………………...............

Wolfgang Kusserow, a 20 year old German executed by the Nazis for refusing to go to war, made this answer to the military tribunal:

“I was brought up as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to God’s Word contained in the Holy Scriptures. The greatest and most holy law he gave mankind is: ‘You shall love your God above all else and your neighbor as yourself.’ Other commandments read: ‘You must not kill.’ Did our Creator have all this written down for the trees?”

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Tidy Dogs of Ellicottville

Although most quality of life measures have declined duirng the past few decades, there are a few bright spots. For instance, people today have to clean up after their dogs.

This was not always the case. Dogs were once permitted to let loose any place they pleased, and few people my age escaped the experience of sliding headlong through a pile of you-know-what, say, in pursuit of a fly ball. Let me assure younger readers - there is no experience quite like it. But now folks follow around their dogs with inside-out plastic bags, ready to pounce at the first sign of nature.  How can this not be a good thing?

It's in this light that we must view modern efforts to tax or sue industries that deal with hazardous and/or sinful products - cigarettes, gambling, alcohol, asbestos, lead, guns, pollutants of all types, even piping hot Mickey D coffee. To varying degrees, all these items exact a social cost. Why not have the makers clean up their messes, just like we do with our dogs?

But has the pendulum swung too far? Driving into Ellicottville (about 100 miles to the southwest of Rochester), one encounters a sign informing that unnattended, defecating dogs will not be tolerated, and then adding "dog waste is unsanitary and harmful to our children." It's not the prohibition that forces a double-take; it's the preaching.

Ellicottville was once one of those tranquil backwater towns where homes were mobile but the five vehicles in the yard were not, where hogs roamed freely in the streets and houses, where "yeppur" was the pleasantry most frequently heard, a town that then-campaigning Eliot Spitzer included in his observation that upstate New York reminded him of Appalachia.

Ellicottville differs from neighboring towns, however. It sports a ski resort: Holiday Valley. In recent years the trendy people have discovered E-ville and have decided to make it their own. It used to be that for the price of a postage stamp you once could buy any property in town, now land prices are out of sight. And, of course, the high-brow folk bring their wisdom with them. Like the aforementioned sign. Dogs have been pooping in the woods since the beginning of time, yet the outsiders just have to lecture "did you know that s**t smells?" with every confidence that the local dimwits will be dutifully grateful and wonder how they ever managed on their own.

Incidentally, we all know what s**t stands for. So why not say it? The truth is that I'm trying to clean up my rating.

Have we come too far in our quest for safety and sanitation? Tom Whitepebble has already opined that today's obsession with safety is itself a fallback positionfor people unable to change things that really matter, so they redirect energy to hassling all the rest of us with more and more "safety" rules. And in the September 17, 2007 Wall Street Journal, reporter Cynthia Crossen points out that we've been down this road before. Almost 100 years ago began another safety campaign in the United States, a campaign progressive for its time, yet the palest shadow of what gets pushed today.  Syracuse NY, only 90 miles east of here, slapped "Safety First" warnings on sidewalks, utility poles, restaurant menus and theater programs. "No one in Syracuse can get away from the sign of 'Safety First,'" boasted the local newspaper. Somewhere else in the state, a Museum of Safety opened, and the theme echoed throughout the country.

But in time there was a backlash: wasn't America becoming a nation of wimps? "Life must be lived as an adventure if it is to be worth carrying on," said someone from the National Bureau of Casualty and Surety Underwriters in 1923. And Francis Greenwood Peabody, a Harvard theologian agreed: "What an undiscouraged and expectant person wants is not 'safety first' anymore than a sailor wants to lie safely in harbor."

I wonder what he would say today if he tried to scale a modern store-bought stepladder, with dire warnings at every step, turning to absolute panic as one nears the top. Yes, we really have become a nation of crybabies. Ah, but for the good old days where dogs pooped anywhere and nobody gave a sh.....well, I mean, people just adjusted.

 

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News But Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Second Life, Avatars, and the Real Life

There was a lull in our work. We were awaiting some new religious commission or discovery - perhaps something we could enter in the next Judge First, Ask Questions Later religious conference, that august assemblage to which we last year submitted two worthy entries but this year have come up with zilch. To kill time, we broke out the Acquire game, a personal favorite of mine, even though Monopoly and Life are better known. All the regulars were there: Wheatandweeds, Weedsandwheat, Pearlsenswine, and Fishenchips. Our former science officer Tom Tombaugh was also there, more full of himself than usual, flush with success from his latest scientific breakthrough. I have to hand it to him; it really was brilliant. Since Aristotle's time, scientists have wondered why, when ducks are flying in 'V' formation, one arm will be longer than the other. In a blinding flash of insight, Tombaugh hypothesized that it was because there were more ducks on the longer arm! Of course, fellow scientists laughed their sides off, as they had done with Semmelweis, but careful measurements verified Tombaugh’s hypothesis! I would not be surprised if this advances his reputation considerably among the scientific community, which was unimpressed with his last, rather ‘pedestrian’ research on sock-eating shoes.

So all of us were moving our little pieces around, wheeling and dealing with play money, when in walks Tom Whitepebble - the same Whitepebble who made an everloven fortune in the courtesy newspaper delivery business. We invited him to play, but he declined. Games like this are made for losers, he maintains, who can’t make it in the real world, so they strut around pretending to be millionaires in the board game world! Naturally, we were all indignant, but also a little hurt, for what he said was basically true. None of us have made our financial mark in the world, and, come to think of it, I can’t recall Bill Gates ever playing Monopoly.

I recalled this experience upon when I came across a Wall St Journal article about a fellow who spends all his time playing Second Life. Second Life, as many readers will know better than I, is an online game in which you, represented by your “avatar,”  interact with other players who are represented by their avatars. There are hundreds of thousands of players, I’m told, and together they make up an online world, which can become more interesting to them than the real world. You can do everything in Second Life that you can in the real world, and a lot more, since you are unrestrained by such factors as family responsibilities, financial hardship, health or age infirmities, physical distance, or social inhibition.

The character featured in the article is almost sixty years old. He discovered Second Life while recuperating from surgery. He plays it virtually every waking moment, as long as fourteen hours a day, the Journal reported, pausing only for bathroom breaks! His avatar is a twenty-something muscular hunk, a fond remnant of his actual sixty year old self. He develops shopping malls and creates designer clothes. (in real life he works at a help desk) He’s idolized by all his employees, sort of like Michael Scott, I guess, and when he logs on after a long absence, his workers all welcome him back and earnestly inquire as to his health. (I haven’t yet figured out why anyone would play Second Life and be an employee rather than a king.) He has an online wife, a pretty avatar he met some time ago. They set up house, they work together, shop together, do everything a married couple might be expected to do…yeah, everything! In real life, he’s never met the woman, and has no intention of doing so. In Second Life, they are inseparable.

Now, this fellow has a wife in the real world, and she’s not happy! “Leave this loser,” her kids urge her. (It’s the second marriage for both of them) But she sticks with her man, if he can really be called hers. He is a good fellow, she maintains, who has been sucked into an online addiction. Someday he will wake to find he has squandered his whole life in a make-believe world! She brings him breakfast while he’s tapping away at the keyboard. Hours later she returns. “You didn’t touch your breakfast,” she says. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t notice it.” (Mrs. Sheepandgoats would dump my breakfast over my head at that point.)

Imagine. An online world so engrossing that people prefer it to the real world! Next to Second Life, Acquire and Monopoly are mere….well….board games.

Yet without too great a leap in creative thinking, one may view this life as if it were a second life, which would relegate the online Second Life to Third Life. For the Bible makes clear that this life is not the “real” life. Sickness and death are not part of God’s purpose for humankind; everlasting life is. An earth brought close to ruin by human activity is likewise not His purpose; a paradise earth, much like Eden (which literally means garden, or paradise) is. Neither is happiness marred by evil and suffering part of His purpose, but instead unsullied life under Kingdom rule. We limp along as best we can in this system of things. Some find success and overcome obstacles better than others, but in the end there’s little difference between us. A mere few decades finds us all senile and in diapers, en route to the grave. That’s why Paul encouraged Timothy to….“give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.        1 Tim 6:17-19

There is some basis, therefore, in viewing this life as a Second Life, and your real self as an avatar! And perhaps some advantage. The joys of this life one can experience fully, if our WSJ character is any guide. But the hardships that this life throws at you, things not always within your power to fix, you may be better able to handle with an “aw hell, it’s just an avatar” attitude! Like any board game or online game, this life comes to an end. You may have hotels on every square or you may go directly to jail - do not pass Go, but the game does end for all. The real life, however, does not. Jehovah’s Witnesses live as happily as they are able to in this life. But it’s the real life that they look forward to.

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Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Start Your Own Religion!

At the Whitepebble Religious Institute, awed students hang on every word dropping from the lips of esteemed and pious instructors like Tom Weedsandwheat, Tom Loavesenfish, and even Tom Pearlsandswine. These guys make the religion game look so easy that students begin to imagine they can do it too. Of course, they can't, so when the inevitable handful of pupils timidly approach an instructor to ask how to start their very own religion or at least a sect, or if need be, even a cult, our responsible staff always discourages it. It's not as easy as it looks.

Sure, the perceived perks readily present themselves. As founder of a religion, you can assume any title you want. Make one up. The longer the better. Moreover, replacing the second or third syllable of your name with the 'ou' sound (pronounced 'ow'), accenting that syllable,  then appending an "ism" generally makes for a respectable and pious-sounding name. Not always, of course. Thomousism sounds downright ridiculous, but that is only because of the rodent, a contingency that will not present itself for most substitutions. Girl names, especially the trendy ones ending in "i," fare especially well. Let's face it, "girl" religions are hot today; the founders generally ask, not so much if  they can do better than guys, but how can they do worse? All the same, as a purely practical measure, we do not recommend starting one's own religion.

The trouble is, having started a religion, you have to go and find disciples. Now, you may think that you can find cool ones, but hard experience shows that the cool ones are already taken, and you will get stuck with pinheads and oddballs. Of course, they are disciples and so you have to teach them stuff, but, as pinheads and oddballs, you will find they are absolutely impervious to knowledge, much as are fenceposts, and they will consume every minute of your time. Plus, they continually embarrass you by loudly pronouncing judgement on everyone in sight. You also have to take them on field trips...not merely to the zoo or the fish hatchery, but to mountaintops and desert plains, preferably during extreme weather. How are you going to keep any semblance of a social life with all that running around? True, as a religious organization, all that mountain climbing gear is tax deductible, but the challenge of documentation is formidable. And to top it all, if they really get nutty and start to do things like, say.. commit mass suicide so as to hitch a ride on an incoming comet, the government comes in with tanks and flamethrowers and destroys you, your compound, your disciples, and takes away your tax exemption! Decidely, it is not worth it.

The Whitepebble Institute has always assumed such stern counsel has had it's effect on our students. But we don't know it for sure. They're  our students, for crying our loud, not our kids. You can't follow them around everywhere. Recently, though, we've been scratching our heads with regard to a certain former pupil.

It turns out that the next Judge First, Ask Questions Later religious conference is to be held in Krukordistan, a wretched little country if ever there was one. Organizers, however, were offered a good price. So we at the Institute bought a travel book in order to become familiar with the place, and we came across this remarkable paragraph under the heading Religions of Krukordistan. It seems the fourth most populous faith in the country is "Kathouism."

The guidebook describes the group as "relatively recent in appearance. Most scholars fix the date of origin within the past 100 years, but the really smart ones give a time period much shorter....say, just a few years. A very strange religion, its members, mostly cool, though there are some oddballs and pinheads, are forever trekking through deserts and climbing mountains in rotten weather. (the weather in Krukordirstan is always rotten...doubtless that is why the faith has caught on here so quickly.) It's founder, a young woman with a braid, (which her disciples are constantly pulling, much to her exasperation) absolutely insists on being addressed by her full self-assumed title: Most Laudable Audible Very Litigious Double Dutch Duchess of the Sky! Her only formal training appears to be from some half-baked religious institute in the USA, and she is known to keep several irons in the fire in case she may someday tire of religion."

Kathi used to sit in the back row, quietly. Sometimes she would sleep. Sometimes she'd fuss with her hair. Nobody ever dreamed she was paying the slightest bit of attention.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Death and Rebirth of the Placebo

For just a brief moment, there was no placebo; there was no such thing. Just for a day. Placebo had its 15 minutes of antifame. And then the day passed, placebos resurfaced, and they've ruled ever since, just as before.

That day was May 24, 2001, and the front page read Survey Finds Placebo Effect Imaginary. From the Associated Press:

"One of the most strongly held beliefs in medicine, that dummy pills or other sham treatments greatly help many patients, has been called into question by Danish researchers who found little or no "placebo effect" in dozens of studies."

Those Danes had looked at study after study after study in which the experimental new drug was compared to the look-alike dummy pill, the placebo. If the new drug was any good, test results beat that of the placebo. But where researchers bothered to include a third group receiving neither drug nor placebo, the Danes found that that group fared about the same as the placebo group. In other words, people sometimes get better all by themselves! They sometimes do, in fact, just about as often as those who received the placebo.

I spoke to a few people involved in pharmaceuticals. They hadn't read the paper and hadn't heard of the survey and didn't believe me. A few days later, I googled "placebo." Conventional wisdom ruled once again. My article was buried many pages back. It took forever to find it. (But you can find it here.) Nobody ever touched the subject again.

I suspect placebo is a notion too good and too lucrative to let die. After all, when you're testing your new drug for efficacy and you can't wait to urge people to ask their doctors if it's right for them, you want it to seem like it has teeth. If it's so much better than the placebo and the placebo is so much better than nothing.....well, you've got some powerful stuff. But if the gap between nothing and placebo collapses, then your drug is not so effective as you thought. Better to keep that gap intact: broad shoulders for all new meds to stand on!

The fact is big pharma pushes a lot of drugs on us. We (in the USA) spent $2.7 billion on prescription drugs in 1960. By 2002 it was $162 billion. There were 600 prescription drugs to choose from in 1960. By 2002 it was 9000. Plus 4000 over-the-counter. Are we that much sicker that we need all those meds? Or conversely, are we that much healthier now that we have them?

And where did this term "meds" come from anyway? They're medicines, dammit! Isn't "meds" a sneaky con attempt to make them seem warm and fuzzy, friendly-like?...every day you take your meds just like you take your tea, or chocolate.

 

That's why when Pop goes to the doctor and the doctor "puts him on" this or that drug, Pop tells him to forget it. Either that or because he's a stubborn cuss. But it's hard to tell someone 85 who's in perfect health that he'd be so much better if he'd just be gobble down more pills. It's a standing joke with us. I meet him in the doctors office, after his yearly physical. (it took forever to get him to agree to those, and he only did so for insurance reasons) "What do ya think, Pop?" I ask, "Want me to get a wheelbarrow for all your pills?" "HA!" he says, "that'll be the day! No pills!"

Most people, overawed by our age's slobbering idolization of science and the doctor's high-priest membership of that discipline, obediently swallow anything they're told to. Not Pop. "Your blood pressures too high," the doctor says, reading his machine. "I want you to take these beta-blockers." "What I'll do," Pop says, "is buy one of those machines myself and see if I can get the blood pressure down with diet and exercise. If I can't, then I'll think about your beta-blockers." He's been able to do exactly that, aided with an immediate drop in blood pressure that comes just from not being in the doctor's office, where we're all at our hypochondriac worst.

Yeah, the old boy thinks that if you steer clear of drugs then one day you'll die in your sleep or drop in your tracks. And isn't that what we all want? A graceful exit when we go. But if you gobble down every pill someone pushes at you, you'll waste away slowly sans dignity in a nursing home. Who's to say he's wrong?

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Tom Irregardless and Me       No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

John T Gatto and Growth without Educators

When did we lose teachers and gain educators? Isn't that new word pretentious? Doesn't it imply that we'd all have empty heads without them?

It's just just the opposite. It's hard to prevent children from learning. Witness their ability to pick up a language. Without any instruction at all, they absorb whatever language is spoken in the home. If two languages are spoken, they absorb two. If three languages are spoken, they absorb three. We read a lot to our children when they were infants and toddlers. Classics like Go Dogs Go! and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. They picked it right up and were both reading before kindergarten. Beyond pointing to the words we read, we never showed them how. 

If learning is so natural why do so many kids not do it? It's not because we have too few educators. It may be because we have too many.

John Taylor Gatto was named New York City Teacher of the year in 1989 and 1990 and 1991. In 1991, he was named New York State Teacher of the Year. But then he turned on his fellow educators! Yes, he agreed, he was a good teacher. But it was only because he bucked, at every turn, the stifling strait jacket of the school system. The district where he worked twice suspended his license for insubordination. He was too innovative, and the bureaucracy too inflexible to accommodate. In 1991, he quit. Writing to the Wall Street Journal, he declared that he could no longer "hurt kids to make a living."

But might he have waited for "school reform?" He observed: "Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard....School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be "re-formed." [italics mine]

Visit Mr. Gatto's websiteand you'll see he's working on a Ken Burns style documentary about the education industry, The Fourth Purpose. "The time for pussy-foot measures with the forced schooling institution is long past," he says. "....What justice cries out for to break this logjam is shock treatment." It promises to be good.

In the right environment, flowers will grow all by themselves. It's a natural process. They don't need professional "sprouters" to measure and critique every move. Our homeschooled son never went to school, save for a brief stint in the 6th grade. He went through a phase in which he would read for hours on end. Huge tomes, mostly history. My wife, Mrs Sheepandgoats, had some allies in the school system and she went running to the local principal. "I don't know what to do," she pleaded. "He won't do any of his workbooks. He just sits and reads all day!" "He reads? said the principal incredulously. "Don't do anything!" Yet had he been in that principal's school he would not have been allowed to read. They would have made him do those workbooks. Thus a naturally enjoyable experience (learning) would be made hateful.

Our boy entered 6th grade mid-year. It was time to give it a try. Rochester City has an odd system of school assignment. You are usually but not necessarily assigned to your neighborhood school. But since our boy went suddenly, he had no say whatsoever and was assigned to a gritty school with a cross-city bus ride. Never being in school before, how would he fit in? we wondered. Would he be a nerd? Would he be beat up and picked on? Somewhat to our surprise, he had no difficulty whatsoever, turning the "socialization" myth on its head. At the end of the year, he had a choice to continue in school or to homeschool again. He chose to homeschool. "I had no time to read when I was in school," he said.

During that 6th grade year, his teacher declared pi was 3.14. My son, because of things covered before, knew that 3.14 was a rounded number, and the actual decimal value stretched on forever. He stated such, and the teacher was upset to be contradicted!

Every parent likes to think their kids are naturally bright. We do too. Yet we fear that their brightness may not have been allowed to flourish without homeschooling.

The next time the boy saw a classroom was age 16, at the local community college. They gave him placement tests since they weren't sure how to regard homeschoolers. Consequently, he was assigned remedial math (remedial from a college point of view. In other words, he was age-appropriate) Yet his reading comprehension, they informed us, was "off the charts" They were slow to believe that he had not already had college courses. Interestingly, he never regarded himself as abnormally bright. "I had no idea there were so many stupid people," he said afterwards.

Not everyone will be in position to do as we were able to. Nor was it the answer in every way. I don't mean to suggest that you can't attend public schools and thrive. You can. They hold some advantages over homeschooling. But they're not very flexible. You have to skirt around many shoals.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me                  No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)