Book Reviews: I’ve finished reading two books this week: What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren, and Educated by Tara Westover. Both have been books that leave what I call a book-hangover, which is to say that they were both so good that it’s been difficult to get into another book immediately after. Cat Warren’s book about her work and training with her cadaver dog, Solo, is a thoroughly researched and engaging story. It’s not your sentimental dog tale where you need a box of tissues at the end. Not that kind of book – you are safe. I learned so much about the science of dogs and scent and about how handlers train and work with these dogs. Warren’s dry humor, quick wit, and solid science make this a thoroughly engaging read.
Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated, is a heart-wrenching story about her very unconventional childhood. Westover was home-schooled in the loosest sense of the word and never set foot in a classroom until she was seventeen years old. Her father, most likely mentally ill, is a survivalist and the Westover children spent their days stocking the root cellar for the End of Days and working their father’s scrapyard. Their mother is an herbalist and midwife and her essential oils and other cures were used to treat all of the family’s injuries including third-degree burns and loss of fingers. To escape the abuse of her older brother and to make her own way in life, Tara buys a math book and an ACT practice book, teaches herself math, and gets into Brigham Young University. She doesn’t stop there. I could not put this book down and now I can’t quit thinking about it.
Speaking of Education: As you may remember, my students are participating in free-choice reading this semester. I started building a classroom library last spring and through my Amazon Wish List and my own weekly trips to thrift stores and second-hand book shops, we now have just over 300 unique titles (plus some duplicates) in our classroom. I’ve been giving updates on my blog about their progress but the short version is that so far, here at the end of week four, this is a success. I have students that have read multiple books now. They are writing about what they are reading and they are talking with me about their books. Even better, they are asking me for suggestions for their next books as well as giving me titles to add to our Wish List! Keep in mind, most of my students came into my classroom telling me that they don’t read for pleasure and could not remember the last book they read outside of required school texts. It’s still early in this project, but I’m really encouraged by what I’m seeing in my classroom every day! It’s very exciting to watch!
Still Speaking of Education: It’s an election time in Louisiana and our governor is proposing a teacher pay raise. John Bel Edwards is up for re-election in 2019 so it’s apparently time to get the teachers on board. He thinks a $1,000 annual pay raise will do it. Let me make this very clear: he can give me whatever pay raise he wants to but until he returns teacher autonomy to the classroom and abandons canned, scripted lessons, I’m not voting for him. Period. Call me a single-issue voter, I don’t care. I.Don’t.Care.
Louisiana officials declared an emergency, called out the National Guard, shuttered schools and closed courthouses as Tropical Storm Gordon drew near, but the weather system bucked east and left the Pelican State unscathed.
Such false alarms are the cost of a robust emergency response system, scientists and government officials said Wednesday. Some worried residents could become desensitized to future alerts.
“People think they’re getting over-warned,” said meteorologist Frank Revitte of the National Weather Service’s Slidell office, which issues forecasts for southeastern Louisiana.
There is a reason why slut-shaming exists. If sluts are not shamed — if promiscuity is celebrated and glamorized the way Sex and the City did — more young women will waste their youth the way Julia Baugher wasted hers. Who would want their daughter to end up that way, having ruined her reputation and squandered so many chances at happiness, desperately hoping at age 37 to settle for a “reasonable choice”?
. The reason why this struck me is that I just got back home from a week staying with my friend Vinne Kelly hie brother and his 90 year old Dad in Lithonia GA right in sight of Stone Mountain. I went to school with 40 years ago with his brother George who lives a few minutes away A few hours before we flew out Saturday Night we had lunch at Bradley’s Bar-B-Que (the best BBQ I had during my trip)
While eating I thanked Mr. Kelly for having us in his house. He replied that he had taught his sons to have many acquaintances but few friends.
Now one of the things that age has taught me is that the easiest way to tell the difference between a friend and an acquaintance is either during a time of trouble or when you are about to do something incredibly stupid, foolish or both.
It’s my experience that an acquaintance will regardless of their own actual opinion will go along with what you are doing and if it’s something that society is accepting or encouraging, might even even encourage you on.
For example to suggest to a young woman going to college that he best way to avoid a bad situation might be to avoid excessive drinking at a party or even better avoiding such parties where people drink to excess is something that will cause woman’s studies departments all over the nation to label you as a misogynist who wants to control women.
To suggest to a girl like Miriam Weeks aka Belle Knox that rather being paid to have sex with strangers on film so that people can forever masturbate to the sight of said film to make up for your shortfall in the $70k tuition and expense cost at Duke, “settling” for a college that might cost 40K a year might be a better and more dignified decision can get you tagged as a fundamentalist and pilloried on social media.
To state that getting a disease like AIDS is almost impossible if you follow the biblical rules concerning sex (celibacy before marriage monogamy afterwards) while also eschewing drugs and sharing needles and marrying someone who does the same you are homophobic
To suggest to a co-worker that having an operation to remove their penis and taking hormones for the rest of their life in order to pretend they are a girl is not only dangerous but that the suicide rate of such people is very high might even get you fired in some states.
Yet the reality is all these messages an actual friend, someone who really cares about you, might say if you are leaning in any of these directions while an acquaintance would go along to get along.
We live in an era where basic sense that our grandfathers knew and understood is called “hate” that voting the wrong way gets you tagged as a Nazi and eating at the wrong chicken place make you in the eyes of some a bigot. It’s no coincidence that when people quote St. Francis they leave out the key line from his lists of things to be an instrument of the Lord’s peace beause it doesn’t match the “hippie” image that they’ve created of him.
Where there is error, Truth
It’s that lack of the courage to speak plan truths aloud combined with an age where acceptance on social media by people you will never meet is of more value than having actual friends who will see things as they are and tell you so that is the cause of much of the trouble in the world.
I suggest that Ms Baugher like many of the women Stacy McCain writes about have many acquaintances but few real friends who were willing to take the risks of rejection, derision or social opprobrium to warn her away from bad life decisions.
That is a crying same and until that deficit can be tackled she and those like her will need our prayers.
Closing on a brighter note Bradley’s Bar-B-Que was really good and you should give them a shot if you’re in the area