May 16th, 2004

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This is a really unpopular opinion but...

I feel the need to vent.

With all the recent coverage of school desegretation / resegration, I have to say, I have to admit that over the years I've come to the realization that I don't really like the idea of desegregation, at least, not the kind that's enforced by busing or any other (to me) "extreme" measures. It's not that I don't feel the concept is admirable or that I believe that the American education system never needed any help as far as equity (hello!), but there are so many things in the method that turn me off.

Fundamentally, I just find it ridiculous that in order to create some kind of integration, kids who who normally go to a neighborhood school -- one they can walk to and meet kids from their neighborhood -- have to be shipped all the way across a city or county! To me, neighborhood schools are very important and if a school -- at the elementary, middle or high school level -- isn't based on the neighborhood model, it seems to me flawed. ( I was put in a special school across town for the first three years of school and it sucked not living in the same area as the other kids. Blocking the option to walk or bike to school is also something that runs counter to good transportation and neighborhood planning.

Yes, I think it's good to mix together races (or income blocks, which in some cases is what desegregation amounts to) but the whole artificiality of it really bothers me. For example, I've read too many stories about black kids having to ride 1 1/2 hours out of the city every day to go to schools in the suburbs for purposes of "integration" and/or to get a better education. It seems to be the better way to approach things is to fix the schools in the city!

I also get ticked off with the notion that a school that's primarily one race or ethnic group -- for obvious example, all black -- is a school that's automatically bad. To me it seems like some kind of self-hatred or self-mutilation or racism to think that there is something wrong with that. While income of an area affects the schools strongly, due the fact a lot if based on property taxes, people always point to race instead, not wanting to address the class issues. It's hard to run a school that's all poor kids and their poor working parents... but this is not the same thing as saying it's hard to have an all-black school. Too often, this is how it's stated! I mean, to me it seems normal that a kid who lives in an area which is mostly mixed is in a school that's mostly mixed, or a kid in an all-white area is going to a school that's all white... To me, doing it another way is just artificial!

In my high school we had a program called A Better Chance that brought disadventaged but bright black girls from New York City. They attended our high school for four years and lived together in a house on Main Street. Not that I had anything against any of the girls -- far from it -- but the whole fact our town was basically "importing" diversity (there were only like 2 other blacks in the whole school, of 1300 students) really seemed funky to me. I think the girls got an awesome education, but I hated the artificialty of it, along with the smug "Aren't we soooooo good to provide them this chance!" attitude of the people in the school. It was like they'd bought a goat for a poor community in Central America. I know that sounds awful but that's always how it struck me, even back then! Seriously...

Every time I consider my opinions on this, I think that perhaps I'm being a complete asshole... maybe I'm just saying the same crap as anti-desegrationist morons always say. Maybe it's just that I don't understand something... That I am too young to really get the alternatives or that I'm too priviliged by education but somehow the thing bothers me. (Caleb is bothered by it too, which is maybe not so surprising considering he's from Vermont, the "whitest state in the union" where there's almost no point at desegregation since it'd be mixing whites with whites.)

P.S. I know there are lots of "buts" to be made against what I've said and I acknowledge that, because I know it's a very, very complex issue not only in terms of race but class... Still, those facts don't necessarily jam over the opposing points.
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Sime-Gen obsession

It's weird, but ever since I read the Sime-Gen Unity Trilogy -- by now a year and a half ago -- I've been rather obsessed with it. I say it's weird because the actual book is actually written in a mediocre style with some plot points and concepts I find hard to take... and most of the fan fiction based on it is also similarly annoying... and yet I find it fascinating. This week, for example, I basically reread the whole trilogy cover to cover (again), some scenes multiple times, all the while saying "Ugh, this sucks but... I can't resist it!" I've already posted on this LJ how I keep reading this one actually great fanfic over and over and over... like I swear I'm trying to suck it dry! Last year I read just about every fanfic out there, which is quite a lot. I read even the bad ones and even the ones set in this weird Medieval Russian AU setting... and I couldn't stop myself!

I was thinking today about why it is I keep being drawn the Sime-Gen world, despite the fact I think a lot of it's kind of crappy, and the best I can figure, there's something about the idea of total co-dependent-symbiosis that really appeals to me. And maybe by reading through the books and fanfic over and over, I will eventually come up with an original plot of my own involving a similar theme or evoking similar emotions. I know I've done that with other books, obsessively reading over them and then writing fiction that plays out what are to be the best conflicts or scenarios. So it's not that I am reading Sime-Gen because it's so great, but because the basic concept strikes a chord in me and as I read, this chord is struck again and again and I form a better idea of it.

Oh, and BTW, for an example of something I find really off-putting in both the S-G books and fan fic, there seems to be almost a rule that the first 10 pages of any story have been to heavily dosed with "background" information on the Sime-Gen universe, biology, physiology, a politics. Like the story will be taking off and mention tentacles and suddenly there'll be this little paragraph explaining what tentacles are for, what selyn is, what a Companion is... And I just don't see why this is done since I would guess that a person reading a Sime-Gen fan fic or even, say, anything other than the first S-G book, would KNOW all this! It's as if Anne Rice started off every freakin' Vamp Chron book somehow going over what a vampire is, how they suck blood, how they make new vamps, what vampires are vulnerable to, etc. (Yes, I know AR does in fact start her books out mainly the same lame-ass way but that's another issue.) I mean, why can't the stories (esp. the fanfic) just start out assuming we readers are know what's going on? It's not as if this stuff is being published to a general audience, so I just don't get it.

There is more I could get into, as far as some of the lame bits of Sime-Gen, but that one thing has lately been striking me as quite annoying. I know when I write out the fanfic idea I've had for months, I'm going to avoid that particular practice and just jump into the damn story.
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    "I Know There`s Something Going On"
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It hurts my ears

Lately this station I listen to (the VH1's 80s one) keeps for some reason playing a lot of Iggy Pop... just how the mix is, all different Iggy Pop songs coming up. I keep being intrigued ("What the hell?!"), but I'm not sure I would actually like a whole album worth of him. I think it might be like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which I enjoy in doses of one or two songs but whose Best Of album I gave away to a friend* because it made me totally nauseous. Why is it that some artists are like that? It's not even that every song is the same, just somehow as soon as it's more than a couple of songs you start feeling just SICK of them?

* Cannot resist adding that said friend received the album because he was a dead ringer for Nick Cave. I noticed this one day watching Wings of Desire: "Like... OMG, it's Chris!" We found a Nick Cave web site and I swear to crap, Chris nearly passed out to see anybody who looked like him in almost every picture... at least the 80s pictures. Unreal.
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    "Billie Jean"
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Attn. people w/o allergies

I'm curious, what do normal ears feel like?????

It's weird how your body learns to ignore all kinds of physical symptoms like pain. Like my ears either ache or itch or just really hurt a lot but to me, unless it gets really bad, it's just a sign I'm alive :) I'm sure it's been like this for years and years too. The times it gets worst is when I fly and I totally feel like a tent peg is being rammed down my ear canals. Supposedly it because of my allergies and I guess I take my allergist's word on that. I had thought it would get better after my doctor "zapped" the chronic sinus infection I had, but guess it wasn't just the infection making them itch. Right now got a bad ache, like somebody socked me hard inside my head :(

On a related note, does anybody wake up feeling like, I don't know... they've actually slept? I sure don't.

P.S. I am working on Mat Man stuff now. Thus all the posts. Ugh, do I HATE this mat work!
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    "Dead Man's Party"