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My World on April 7, 2005

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: April 7, 2005
Latest Update: April 7, 2005

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takata@uwp.edu

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Ugh! The iron tablets aren't working yet. I didnt crawl out of bed till noon. But I'm eating lots of healthy stuff and ought to be wide awake again soon. The cable people finally got here at 5:10 p.m. They were supposed to get here between 1 and 5. Then they told me that they were just going to hook up the cable modem, and they wouldn't have anything to do with making sure that this all worked on my computer. Great. Now I'm not only anemic, I'm ISP (Internet Service Provider for real people who don't talk that jargon)- challenged.

I wouldn't let them hook up their silly cable to my computer for fear that if anything went wrong, I'd lose contact with the site and with transform_dom again. So now I have Earthlink and Adelphia Cable together. I'll tackle it soon, hopefully with either Michael or another tech nearby to keep me out of trouble. At least, I'm still in touch.

As if that weren't enough, Sir Geoffrey of Kashmir (the little-used to be- grey and white rescued cat) just complained of my housekeeping skills because yesterday when all those techs were here, I threw things into the space behind my computer screen. That's one of Sir Geoffrey's chosen spots. Of course, I dutifully cleared his place, he settled down for five minutes, and then left. My world and welcome to it.

Today I'm just going to start with commenting on transform_dom from the most recent messages, because I haven't learned to effectively use its search engine. Hopefully, I'll just get through them all. Feel free to get my attention to other messages by sending me the numbers on jeanne.

Jacqueline and Michael are discussing in Message No.3912 the age-old dilemma of how we socialize our young to our values while the young are experimenting with and declaring their independence. There are no easy solutions. But most of our young people don't end up selfish, greedy, non-caring, and valueless. They maybe go through hormonal changes with some not-so-well-advised risk-taking and thoughtlessness, but most of them turn out to be ordinary folks with an ordinary sense of social, economic, and political justice. By ordinary, I really mean dominant discourse. When Abu Grahib happened, ordinary folks didn't think it was just fine and why not. Ordinary folks were shocked and bewildered because they didn't know how to handle the cognitive dissonance of "good American kids" doing that kind of stuff.

I'm no expert on rap and hip hop, but I'll bet if we can get some of our young people to share with us, we'll find that there's a difference between fantasy and the expression of pent-up frustration and the fear of both an infrastructure that doesn't listen to you and real-world dangers, and that the ordinary kid, though hardly convinced that we the previous generation did the right, reasonable, or good thing, anyway at all you want to define those terms, doesn't plan a Columbine binge, doesn't hate us, still wants our love as much as we want theirs. The paradox of human relationships?

Guys, I'm old enough that I was horrified at the site of Elvis shaking his hips. Now let's compare that to television adds for Viagara and company today. My mother would have a stroke in shock. What about young women baring their tummies with Zelnorm or something scrawled across them? Where's the respect for young women there? My mother is gasping on my shoulder, and I'm gasping right along with her. But I agree with Michael. As much as I'd like to give Zelnorm or whatever a piece of my mind about "appropriate social messages" for a TV audience, I don't want to censor them because of what I know about censorship. It doesn't work. The game is really about power, and they have more money and more power than those of us who are horrified, and that superior power will end up hurting us through our censorship, not them.

Notice I said I agree with Michael. I'm not sure either one of us is right. What we're really saying is that strategy and politics mean we can't win that way. Rather than fight what I consider a losing game, I'm willing to ignore it. What if we discovered other ways to fight it? Jacqueline also brought up in Message No. 3886 the idea of Gospel rap. There, as near as I can understand, you can take the beat, the sound, the senses to which our bodies respond with joy and movement, and simply link them by association to values we would like to share. In psychology we call that stimulus-response technique, Skinner, remember?

I think we might be wrong if we just accept the violence, hate, and ugliness, like the Nazi websites that seem caught up in the most recent school shootings. But just policing such things brings up the deeper questions of what we should do as a community when there are those who are proliferating ides that harm the community. The whole issue of what is "right" and "wrong" and how we convey that to our community members, and where we draw the lines and call "wrong" a "crime," all that says we need to find ways to turn some of the harm that has already been done into a good faith hearing for those we need to try to understand, before they act on what they've heard and seen in ways that most of our kids never, never would. Restorative justice represents one approach to this, but even then, restorative justice focuses more on the victim than on what led the perpetrator to be a perpetrator. What made the kid that took the violent message hear that part and act on that part, and how do we reach him or her? Big questions for the whole big field of criminal justice.

One Message No, 3905 on transform_dom that made my day was Peter's response to a Passel of Cats. Peter shared with us some of his creative writing. And it's all about relationships. "That was until the timid one found a way in. With baby adorability and a constant hunger, the fourth shone in a truly unique way, just as his counterparts do." Peter, they sound just like my cats, moving in slowly, discovering who they are, and amazing me in the wonder of it all. Dogs, too, though we're missing one now. That's why I'm trying to get the house back together. And you know, the other day I saw a woman on TV who loved parrots. She had cats and dogs and turtles, too, and a passel of kids to go with them all. The parrots amazed me - never thought of them in terms of relationships before. Maybe answers to the violence of some of the new music and to some of the worst of TV and theatre are all around us. We just need to look and listen a little harder, hmmm?



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