Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Writes: My Last Correspondence With Ned Vizzini, RIP Ned

Unwritten: My Last Correspondence With Ned Vizzini



 
From: “Ned Vizzini"
Hey, sounds like me!  I’m headed towards ruin quick.  Hope all is well

-------------- Original message ---------

From: “Ned Vizzini"

I’m not good, Elyssa. Very depressed.  I was such a different person when I knew you.  But maybe I will be different soon. 

-------------------------

From "Elyssa D:

god ned-- I wish we could talk—based upon what I’ve read (what you’ve posted on line and through your interviews) it seems as though you are going through all the emotions and emotional chaos that I was experiencing the first year we met back in New York.

Another friend of mine just checked himself into a psych ward after a suicide attempt and I feel so helpless because I care and respect you both so much.

it is funny because I always thought that if I could just finish that damn book I was working on ten years ago—or just finished law school, my PhD. or any number of things—everything would be okay.

It confuses me because you finished your book—rob finished law school- I finished nothing.

A few weeks ago, I “lost my shit” so to speak, came across your interview, and was completely blown away—I used to be the crazy one—now I have my sanity back but nothing else.

having been through several crises myself, I came to believe that when you see someone in crisis, they become so overwhelmed and confused that they do not know what to do first—and how to dig out of the hole they have dug for themselves.  I decided that rather than asking, I just try to figure it out and give it to them, no questions asked, no thank you necessary.

How many people have told you, “Call if you there is anything I can do” and when you do call—nothing!  Nothing but disappointment and regret.  So I have decide never to ask somebody what they need—

Mostly because they don’t even know themselves— hen I came to the realization a few weeks ago that my transient existence is so tangential that no one would notice if I never took another breath—I tried to figure out what I needed so that I could give it to myself.
 
so I started going back through my old journals to see if I could identify the missing element of my life—you know that “thing” that would both make it all go away and make all come together so I could be a whole person again.
 
That thing is a figment of my imagination.  I used to think it was being loved by a man—I had that.  That wasn't it.
 
Then I thought it was having money.  I had that.  But that wasn’t it either.
 
Then I thought it was health insurance—but no, that was not it either.
 
 
Then I thought it would be having that oh-so-critical Ivy League degree.  I have that.  That still wasn't it. 
 
So obviously, none of those things could have been “it.”
 
The thing I need most, I lost long ago, and that was hope. Perhaps I never really had it at all.

So I guess some things just can’t be bought, learned, earned, or acquired. 
 
I think of the long twisted road, and I remember one of my favorite childhood movies, where a girl named Dorothy was so determined to find her way home after a great storm.  Disillusioned and distracted, Dorothy would not yield to the many obstacles that had been placed in her way.  Determined to meet the great Wizard, she stayed one path. 
 
Yes, there were detours, obstacles, and the Wicked Witch of the West.  Each of these obstacles may have taken her of course, yet she never once lost sight of the road home.   She believed in one thing, the Wizard, and his ability to bring her home.  

Having great faith and determination, she never strayed far off the path to righteousness.  Dorothy had a clearly defined goal, a means to get there, and a bright yellow brick road to guide her.  Through her determination and unyielding faith, Dorothy never once doubted that she was on the right path. 
 
In the Wizard of Oz, the yellow brick road may have been the path she was taking, but through her determination and blind faith, she was able to bring others onto the road t enlightenment.
 
The lion found his courage; the tin man got a heart.  The scarecrow got some brains—and even Dorothy got what she needed most. 
 
Dorothy began her journey looking for one thing.  She needed to get back to place she began, and find her way home. Dorothy teaches us a valuable lesson, but she was lucky enough to know what it was she so desperately longed for... home.
 
If all I had to do was click my heals three times and find my way home, well, sadly I would not even know where home is.  Yes, they say home is where the heart is, and perhaps that is part of the problem.  But for some of us, out childhood homes were not places of happiness and nostalgia.  They are places from which we run, searching endlessly for that magical place and can only hope that we have come across a road that is clearly marked to guide us in our destination. 
 
Of course, we know there will be that take us off course, and it will up to us to find our way back.  Unfortunately, there is a certain point when we lose our direction and we lose our faith.  As I grew older, I came to realize recognize that my feeling of detachment went far beyond having a dysfunctional childhood a broken family life that even my sister and I never lived in the same house for more than a year or so in the summertime.

So no matter how long I have been in Nashville, in many ways I am, in fact still a stranger.  I am a stranger because homeless is a state of mind. 
 
In my mind, I like to think a home is a place of acceptance, shelter, and a place you can find forgiveness, comfort and recognition.  For most, going home means to reconnect in a way so that you are reminded that you have something, someone, who will always have your back. 
 
Homer represents more than a structure; it represents a strong foundation that will always be there whenever you need to feel safety and comfort.  For me safety is marked by the boundaries that are supposed to keep me safe and protected. 
 
So this is my home.  I don’t necessarily feel safe here, but I do feel consistent.  I do not have to worry that I will be forced to switch schools, neighbors or friends every six months just because my parents could not get it right.  What they failed to realize is just how very wrong it really was.  

Changing schools, changing friends, changing siblings; changing myself just enough each time so that I could fit in. But after 16 years of constant change, I never got the opportunity to find out anything real about myself.  Even my name was changed when I moved--- dad called me Liz, and my mother called herself any number of last names as she desperately tried to hold on to her youth, her beauty, and delusional fantasies of entitlement and sacrifice that I think she may actually believe. 

I have never had plastic surgery, could not afford it anyway, but what do have is a clear memory, vivid nightmares, and a place of my own.  What I also realize, is that until I can live free from fear and dependence, I will never truly be able to know what it feels like to be at home.  

If home is where the heart is, then homelessness is clearly just a state of mind.  And today I have some hope that I might someday no longer feel just as homeless at home.  So now I know more than ever, that homelessness is a far more than a concrete structure or family property. 
 
I will always feel a little homeless at home.  It is knowing that you are the thing that remains constant—regardless of any dreams I may have, I will never have the constant I would need to get bring a child into this world--- as much I  would like to. 
I envy those who feel they have so much in their lives that they can trust without any reservation that the world is a loving enough place they want to share with a child. Especially a child of their own.  

No, my mother told me long, long time ago, that I can never have children.  She also told me last year, that I could not have a dog.  My own mother does not think I am capable of raising a puppy.  Maybe she’s right.  She put her fears into action when she once donated my cat of 14 years to the animal shelter under someone else name so that I truly was left without any ties to the condo I stayed in for a few short months while I tried to come up with a plan to take him and myself far from a place where we could be safe and live free. 

I adopted him back from the animal shelter 40 miles out after learning that she had used someone else’s name at the agency so I could not find him on my own.

I will not look elsewhere to find the essentials things healthy children receive that in turn makes them healthy adults. 
 
I will never be “healthy” but I do think I wish I could give more than what I have received.  I regret never being the kind of “community member”, I think I could have been, and I doubt I will get over the sheer humiliation of having to love this way for so many years when I should have been doing so much more.
 
In having truly been able to do the great things for society that I believe I could, but I can’t regret not giving no longer need constant reassurance, recognition, or validation, but I will always question whether things could have been different if only one person had taken the time to show me I was worth it.  That I deserved more than what I could actually afford and realize that I do give so much in so many other ways.  

The ways that people cannot calculate or see just how badly the ones who received them needed those gifts.  It was the little things.  It was Kody, it was Desiree, but above all else, it was me setting goals, the feelings of that my feeling I would never and was no longer subject to bi-annual custody disputes and shifts  and us to realize that homelessness is merely a state of mind. 

Where would I go?  10 years “down the road” and now, more than ever, I realize I am truly and deeply, “homeless at home.”  
 
You see it is not so much that I doubt myself, I just don’t trust that people will not do horrible things even if that means doing nothing at all. 
 
I do have much love to give.  Actually too much.  So much that it often pours out of me in inappropriate sentimentality.  I know when I need to keep to myself, and I know when my anxieties starts to make others a little anxious.  I know because as I see you react to me be anxious, it only makes me that much worse. It is one of my worst, but at times sometimes, that sensitivity is also at times a wonderful attribute and god given gift.

But should that prevent me from getting out into the world just because other people think I should be don’t like me … that’s not my job.
 
I have spent more than half of my life in self-imposed isolation, and the other half wondering how I can be less annoying and high strung so others would want me around.  The sad truth is, yes, I am annoying, but also, I am perceptive and very aware.  Sometimes I do it purpose. 
 
I should not have to live in isolation because I have nervous tics or sometimes say the wrong thing.  But regardless of what people seem to think about welfare recipients being lazy bums guess what—FUCK you right back.  

For many years, I have kept chose to keep to myself just in case I really am so horrible to be around that even my own mother thinks I would be better off dead.
 
Rest in Peace, Ned. You were loved. 


Elyssa D. Dursnt, Ed.M. © 2008-2013




http://LastWritesRIP.blogspot.com


Sunday, November 10, 2013

In God We Trust: Applying the Lemon Test for Public Funds for Parochial Schools

In God We Trust: 
The Lemon Test and Public Funds for Parochial Schools

Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M 



Guiding Questions

1. How can school vouchers reach a balance between serving the public interest and preserving individual freedoms and rights? 
2. What additional arguments can be presented for against the use of school vouchers for parochial schools?
3. How is the issue of school vouchers for sectarian institutions different or similar from issues surrounding prayer in school?
4. What are the common issues relevant to both charter schools and voucher programs?



This article will address concerns regarding the long-term outcomes of school choice and voucher programs. Specifically: do school vouchers exacerbate the inequality between the rich and the poor?
Since I believe that health care and education are both social goods, I have some reservations about letting the free-market run amok during such a critical point in history. Is it wise to allow for-profit market forces to dictate public goods when natural rights are at stake? 
The shortcomings of the Medicaid managed care programs, Medicare supplemental insurance policies, and demonstration projects such as the privatization of prisons provide sufficient evidence of the dangers of profit driven corporations in American culture. Corporate scandals with food and other suppliers contracted by the Board of Education in New York City in the late 1990's provide excellent examples of how easy it is for private companies to manipulate funds away from the target recipients.
It was not too long ago that private managed care companies offered gifts to boost enrollment by enticing desperate Medicaid recipients to join their plans. This marketing strategy is simply offensive when we are dealing with a social good albeit health care or education. Vulnerable populations are frequently exploited through corporate contracts and there is little reason to believe that for-profit conglomerates would treat public schools or economically disadvantaged students and families otherwise.
Arguments on both sides of the school voucher issue are very similar to those presented for and against charter schools and free-market school choice. Smrekar (1998) presents four key issues that have been at the center of the school choice debate: (1) economic, (2) political; (3) social justice; and (4) pedagogical.
The economic argument in favor of school choice points out that our current public education system resembles a monopoly. Proponents argue that the introduction of choice into the educational marketplace will promote competition and force schools with poor performance records to improve or close (Friedman, 1968).
The political argument is centered on the democratic ideal that the freedom to choose where your child attends school is a fundamental right. The political argument also triggers strong feelings about the role of education in a democratic society. There are those who feel that the public school is intended, at least in part, to create a common set of core values that is best served by the public sector. 
At the core of the political school choice argument is a debate regarding the benefits of providing a common set of experiences in a democracy versus promoting individual choice and liberty (Smrekar, 1998). This issue, while not dead, was challenged in 1925 when the Supreme Court ruled in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 (1925)) in favor of parents who sent their children to private school. This argument continues today and is at the center of both school choice and curriculum debates.
The social justice argument is a bit more complicated and there is little agreement on any front. Proponents argue that school choice empowers the poor to participate in the education of their children by giving them the same options available to wealthier families in the United States. According to a 1997 poll in USA Today, 47% of parents would send their children to private schools if they had the financial resources (Doyle, 1997).
Information is an essential component to any school choice program. In order to ensure social equity in school choice programs we need to be sure that the "poor" are fully informed of their choices and are not taken advantage of in the open market. Research has shown that the act of "choosing" has positive effects on the school environment and promotes parental involvement in their children's education (Doyle, 1997). Additional components of the social justice argument have focused on the nuts and bolts of choice programs, and point out how there are several different ways that choice programs may (wittingly or unwittingly) promote social inequity (Cookson, 1995). Such arguments focus on transportation problems, admissions policies, the availability of information, and how we define "choice" and implement policies regulating recruitment, enrollment and performance of participating schools, (Cookson, 1995; 1997).
The pedagogical argument points out that school choice programs are better suited for the individual needs inherent to a pluralistic society. Although some feel there is value in providing core curriculum and a common set of basic skills, there is a current trend towards specialty schools that focus on the arts and sciences, technology, vocational training, etc. Educators look towards successful magnet schools as examples of the pedagogical success that demonstrated the importance of school choice and parental involvement as indicators of educational outcomes. Some educators fear that the introduction of school choice and voucher plans would prompt the best students to leave public schools and that this would have a negative effect on the overall climate of public classrooms.
Among the various school voucher programs, there is considerable controversy surrounding the program design that gives qualified individuals the choice to attend parochial schools using public funds. Traditional arguments against this type of school voucher program have focused on the constitutionality of using state funds for sectarian institutions. In theory, public schools are believed to be completely independent of religious institutions and provide a place where young adults can join together and develop a core set of "American" values and "democratic" principles. Just this year, states such as Tennessee have modified the curriculum to include Bible class in publicly funded classrooms. It is not yet known how this will be implemented given the number of students who did not meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) benchmarks. They are just now trying designing the course content and have not yet selecting the text to be used next fall (2008).
Historically, the church had a key role in the education of children in America. During the National Period (1780-1830), churches were used to educate children, and the King James Bible was used as a reader in these classrooms (Smrekar, 1998). Derek Neal (1997) points out that much of the current sentiment against Catholic schools is not a reflection of their excellent performance record, but rather an indication of the anti-Catholic sentiment which swept the country during the late part of the 19th Century (Neal, 1997). Neal argues that until that point, there was no contest to religious education as long as it was Protestant.
Catholic schools have traditionally served the children of the working class. They were a major socializing force earlier in the century and continue to succeed with children who might otherwise fall through the cracks in public schools. Despite tapering enrollment, Catholic schools remain a viable force in the private sector providing a reasonably priced private education to American children. Neal conducted a study that looked at the graduation rates of minority children attending Catholic schools compared with children attending public schools in the inner cities. Controlling for demographic variables, (parent's education, parent's occupation, family structure, and reading materials at home) closer analysis revealed graduation rates for urban minorities are 26% higher in Catholic schools compared with public schools in the same communities. Although Neal found similar benefits for whites and in suburban communities, this effect was most profound for urban minorities.
Other studies have focused on identifying the qualities that make Catholic schools successful. A number of factors have been identified by Bryk and Lee, including active parental participation and the benefits of school choice in creating an inclusive community that fosters a common set of values and ideals (Bryk & Lee, 1995). Interestingly, the very same variables found to enhance the performance of Catholic school students are remarkably similar to the reported benefits of magnet schools and choice programs. Despite the excellent performance records of Catholic schools, there are currently no voucher programs that allow parochial schools to participate in state funded voucher programs.
The reason for this is quite simple, but not necessarily correct or in the best interest of our children. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of public funds in religious institutions. However, it can also be argued that it is unconstitutional to exclude parochial schools from voucher systems because it violates the student's free expression of religion. In addition, voucher programs require a conscious decision on the part of the student and the parent. The state does not enforce a blanket endorsement of any one religion. I use Catholic schools as an example because they represent the majority of parochial schools in urban America.
Voucher programs typically undergo strict scrutiny for all four reasons mentioned above, but this issue is especially true of any choice or voucher program that channels funds into Parochial schools. For this reason, Catholic schools and other schools with religious affiliations have been excluded from voucher plans up until this point. It is not politically viable to institute a choice or voucher program at any level (at the district, state or national level) since similar plans have historically presented long-standing, hard-fought, legal challenges to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Since the Supreme Court has not ruled on this issue, most challenges up until this point have taken place in state courts[1]. These state decisions have been split, and while there are a few voucher programs operating in Wisconsin and Ohio, neither permits sectarian schools to participate in their programs. Milwaukee designed a voucher system that included parochial schools in 1995 but later revised their proposal after the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction against expansion into religious schools (Kremerer & King, 1995).
School choice programs that involve vouchers have not been tested in the Supreme Court, but there is a long history of court cases that challenge the flow of money from the public sector into private, sectarian institutions. The recent pattern of Supreme Court rulings has lead some legal scholars (Kremerer & King, 1995) to conclude that school vouchers would pass constitutional muster under the following circumstances:
1. Provides payments in the form of scholarships to parents of school age children
2. Allows parents to choose among a variety of public and private sectarian and nonsectarian schools for their children
3. Gives no preference to sectarian private institutions
Voucher programs up until this point have encountered substantial resistance from the legal community and a number of civil rights and political organizations. This becomes more pronounced when the voucher model includes sectarian institutions in the model plan and state court rulings have been inconsistent in decisions surrounding the constitutionality of voucher programs.
The definitive case regarding school voucher programs is Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)). The Court's ruling in Lemon was based on three components that came to be known as the "Lemon Test." The Lemon Test applies the following to any Constitutional challenge of the Establishment Clause:
1. The government action must have a secular purpose
2. The primary effect must neither advance, nor inhibit religion
3. It must not result in excessive governmental entanglement with religion
Since voucher programs do not generally provide support directly to the institution, individual freedom and choice remain intact. Individual families are empowered by educational vouchers since they choose the school and religion appropriate for them. Qualified schools are not determined by religious affiliation and all schools are required to adhere to state and federal regulations that increase accountability. Similar issues came before the courts in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 (1925)) as well, however Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)) is considered to be both the landmark and test case currently before the courts.
The reason for this is quite simple, but not necessarily correct or in the best interest of our children. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of public funds in religious institutions. However, it could also be argued that it is unconstitutional to exclude parochial schools from voucher systems because it violates the free expression of religion. In addition, voucher programs require a conscious decision on the part of the student and the parent. The state does not enforce a blanket endorsement of any one religion. I use Catholic schools as an example because they represent the majority of parochial schools in urban America.
Teacher's unions are resistant to bring in a new system that has the potential to upset their job status and security. It will likely be a number of years before we truly understand the effects of magnet schools and can evaluate the implementation of school choice programs that are already in place. Because we are dealing with such an essential human, social good, it is my recommendation that we do not implement a largest-scale voucher program until issues of access and equity are resolved on other public fronts. We must ensure real choices for the students and families who are not information savvy and may be limited in their ability to recognize the real value of their options. We must find a way to ensure the equitable distribution of resources so that education truly does will empower the poor.
Is it time to apply the Lemon Test to school vouchers? 
 You decide.


References
Cookson, P.W., Jr. (1994). School choice: The struggle for the soul of American education. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Cookson, P.W., Jr. (1995). ERIC Digests: School Choice.
Doyle, D.P. (1997). Vouchers for religious schools. Public Interest, 127, 88-95.
Haynes, C.C. (1993). Beyond the culture wars. Educational Leadership, 51(4), 30-34.
Houston, P.D. (1993). School vouchers: The latest California joke. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(4), 61-64.
Kremerer, F.R. & King, K.L. (1995). Are school vouchers Constitutional? Phi Delta Kappan, 77(1), 307-311. 
Kremerer, F.R. (1995). The Constitutionality of school vouchers. West's Education Law Reporter,101 Ed. Law Rep. 17.
Kremerer, F.R. (1997). State Constitutions and school vouchers. West's Education Law Reporter, 120 Ed. Law Rep. 1.
Neal, D. (1997). Measuring Catholic school performance. Public Interest, 127, 81-87.
[1] Including a decision that was handed down regarding a choice plan in Ohio. (12/18/2000)

Elyssa D. Durant © 2007-2014

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Living With Autism: Why is It Different by Steve Borgman

Living With Autism: Why Is It Different?


Sometimes, I wonder if I am seeing the same things through my eyes that the rest of the world is seeing through theirs.

Unknown quote

It’s embarrassing when you tell someone you are on your way to meet them but then get caught up in your own world and completely forget about them–until two days later.

It’s embarrassing when you’re completely lost in the same small town you’ve lived in for the past five years because the road you usually take was blocked and you needed to turn down an unfamiliar street.

Aspie Writer, Adult Autism Is Embarrassing

Living with autism can create stress: there are difficulties that interfere with home and school life, friendship and romance, work and play, and even health.

But why?

Dr. Valerie Gaus, author of Living Well on the Spectrum, tackles this subject in her chapters on brain differences.

Two Sides Of One Coin

Dr. Gaus encourages you to see autism spectrum differences as both vulnerabilities and strengths.

When our differences cause ongoing stress in many ares of life, you can feel helpless, focused on the negatives.   However, in order to solve problems in your life, increasing your life satisfaction, you’ll need use a rational, objective approach.

Being objective, she suggests, means seeing your differences as both vulnerabilities andstrengths.

Remember you have many human characteristics in common with other people.  All people in the world live with problems and stress.  And your life is not always filled with stress.

Furthermore, every person with autism has different challenges, since no two people on the spectrum are alike.

There are four major categories of differences autism can produce in your life:

  • thinking differences
  • social differences
  • emotional differences
  • sensory and movement differences

These differences can make you more vulnerable to the challenges and demands of daily life by taxing your “stress immune system.”

Why?

First, autism spectrum differences your differences cause you to experience the world different from most people around you.  As you experience life differently, you can interpret life differently and act differently than others, which can lead you to meet stressful events more often in your daily life than typical people.

Second, unless you deeply understand your differences, you may have fewer coping strategies available to you.  Without coping strategies, you’re left unsure about how to handle many types of problems and demands life imposes on you.

For example, when family members make noises at your home, whether it’s singing, chewing loudly, or scraping chairs, you may experience sensory overload and stress without much time to recuperate.

Thinking Differences

Input, Processing, and Output

Dr. Gaus uses the examples of finding your keys on the middle of your hallway floor at home to explain how human information processing works.

During the input stage, the brain receives input from sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch) and filters out irrelevant data; this is also called perception.

So as you walk into your hallways, and see the keys in the middle of the floor, your brain is able to filter out the wallpaper, floorbaords, or carpet; it chooses to focus on the keys, and not on those other items, so that the visual input of the keys is what gets through to the processing area of the brain.

During processing, the brain analyzes the picture of the keys, comparing it to the pictures of other images stored in memory.  From keys, to familiar keys, to my keys!  Your brain then recognizes that the keys aren’t by the hook on the door, where they usually are, and makes a guess that you dropped them there by accident.  Your brain may imagine that you’ll be frustrated looking for the keys on the hook in the future, so it makes a plan to pick up the keys and put them on the hook.

During output, you make a decision based on the data from input and processing.  You carry out the physical act of picking up the keys and putting them on the hook.

Here’s Dr. Gaus’ summary of the above:

The human brain is processing information all the time: this is called cognitive activity.

New information goes through three stages:  Input, Processing, and Output.

When all the stages run smoothly, the output is some action that helps a person adapt successfully to a situation– sometimes called adaptive behavior.

Dr. Gaus goes on to ask,

What if your brain…did not filter out irrelevant information and you did not even notice the keys on the floor?…did not identify the object on the floor as your set of keys?…did not think ahead about the consequences of not having the keys by the door?…did not make the plan to put keys back by the door?…did not keep your attention on the plan long enough to have you carry out the plan of putting the keys back in their place?

These operations of input, processing, and output work differently for people on the autism spectrum at any given time.  People on the autism spectrum tend to experience problems related to thinking differences in two categories: a) problems withmanagement of information and b) problems with interpretation of information.

I’ll get into those specific categories in an upcoming post.

Aspie Writer (http://www.aspiewriter.com) illustrates how autism differences can create stress and embarrassment in her post, Adult Autism Is Embarrassing.  When you read her article, you’ll have a full understanding of how this all ties together.

I hope you gained a better understanding of why living with autism is different.  What’s your experience been?


Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm think I'm being followed by a bot... Am I grandiose or paranoid?

What the Fuck is an EFF-bot?
I have to say that I think there have been several Twitterbots created just for me.  Such as the @effbot or the @Swear_Bot and let is not forget the cute and lovable #twensored duck.  

I could swear the effbot was so hot on my trail, that within 15 minutes of sneaking in a different hashtag to outsmart the effbot; it added that code as well (#EFF) and started hijacking those tweets as well.  

Yes, I do believe I am being followed by a bot.  Does that make me grandiose or paranoid?

So much so, that I in a couple of friends to test the Bot – to see just how much human supervision a Bot needs in order to function and evolve. 

We learned very quickly that the effbot had somehow singled me out. I wrote the effbot a letter and asked him to give me the “F” word back, but the effbot did not reply.  

I took it upon myself to say #EFF the #EFF'n effbot!   

I don't know when the effbot was created (of course I am writing while the Twitter is down so I have no way of checking) but about three weeks ago I woke to find a whole bunch of tweets with the hashtag #EFF.  

At first I assumed that it was just a polite way of sneaking in the word "fuck" into a tweet.  So I used it everywhere. I would say #EFF you, or #EFF that.  And before long people started asking what the #EFF does #EFF mean?  

I got replies listing everything from “Early Follow Friday” to the “Electronic Foundation Frontier”  So I spent about 48-72 hours trying to figure out what the #EFF is #EFF.  

All this for an eff’n Bot? 

You see at first the effbot only picked up tweets that used "eff" in sequence.  For example, "I am so eff'n late for work" or, "Twitter really needs to fix the eff'n problem with @replies."

So my initial response was to hit retweet and I typed into my mini QWERTY keys on the TwackBerry and wrote, #EFF=FUCK.

Well this confused some people why was I saying the f-word in response to an innocent tweet.    Well I don't remember anything about that tweet except that someone had asked "what is #EFF?" 

Well of course, being barely awake and reading the miniature font on the screen of my BlackBerry, I was eager to jump in to the conversation and screen there some confusion over the meaning of what I now know to be a is called a hashtag) of the "hashtag" #EFF.

Realizing that people were confused that I was assigning a "superlative" to a hashtag, I decided to go on a mission to uncover the significance of #EFF.  

So I took it a step further, and responded with some = from the Spanish Inquisition: Forbidden Use of Carnal Knowledge.

Alternatively, from England where one (well, I suppose two) people had to get permission to engage in sexual relations; warranting a notice that read, "Fornication Under Consent of the King."

So I woke up one morning and saw one of my favorite twitterbuds latest tweet #EFF.  Now bear in mind that I was brand new to twitter, had never heard the word hashtag and was determined to figure out what the damn EFFbot was. 

Turns out it was used by one of two groups of people: pussies who are too PC to use the F word and those who support internet freedom and the Electronic Freedom Foundation or eff.org

It took me a while to figure it out, but I'll never forget the flood of eff'n tweets that got me through one of the darkest times of my entire life. 

Bring on the EFF-bot. How I loved thee. 


Elyssa D'Educrat © 2009-2013



 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

~ nomen est nomen ~

~ nomen est omen ~ 
       Petit image  Nomen est
omen
Version April 2005


IN RETE NOMEN EST OMEN
by fravia+ ~ text in fieri (I doubt I'll ever finish this section) 


The lore of names

Nothing more than the web, in this new Millennium, underlines the old truth aboutnomen est omen. I could hardly find a more telling demonstration of the deep link between old-medieval sources research and today-web understanding (and researching).

Just to make a simple example: think at all the querelles about and around Internic, where people are buying and hoarding domainnames for vulgar commercial purposes: if I would have bought Altdorf.com, say, soon or later (probably not very soon, seen the slowness and incompetence shown in every web-related matter by all european local administrations :-) the swiss city of Altdorf would have to pay me in order to get it back. And that is exactly what has happened: if you check the following altdorf.com link, you will see how some clown (in this case "ultimate search inc" in Hong Kong) has bought it with this hope. 

Whanna make money? Buy all domainnames corresponding to the big cities of, say, Morocco and wait for that country to catch up on the web (which btw is happening more quickly than you would suppose).

Domainnames are cheap, and you could buy yourself a dozen every year just for fun.
People do that all the time, as you may check using netcraft (which is useful also for other searching purposes, as explained elsewhere on searchlores). 

Actually when you search for internic itself you'll immediately bump into the 'name' problem once again: dozens of commercial bastards have set up half-bogus internic sites, each one with a name slightly similar to internic, in order to cash easy money from all the zombies of this planet, unable to search and thus also unable to buy directly themselves their own domains from the real internic.

Here you can gaze in awe yourself, using the incredibly useful netcraft, at the high towers of names... discover how many people have already registered, say, altdorf.com
Search:search tips
 
Example: site contains [searching] (a thousand sites eh!)


Names of the querries

Think -moreover- at all the difficulties you will have, when searching, if you don't know the NAMES of the querries. Think reversely at how easy it is to find any application (for instance, say, softice) on the web, using search engines and/or the ftp-search servers, once you know (or imagine :-) THE EXACT NAMES the files or zippeed archives you are looking for have been stored into.
You'll often have to try it for yourself. You'll need to understand the 8.3 old dos convention. Try to access 'not found' pages, or pages you suppose should be there, alternating lower and uppercase (significant for Unix severs), or trying the suffixes *.htm, *.html, *.shtml. Try jpg and gif as suffixes for your target EXECUTABLES, try docpdf or txt as suffixes for your target PICTURES or mp3.

Many interesting approaches are listed on the 'rabbits' section. 

Do you actually know what all these formatnames REALLY mean? Did you ever have a look at the format of -say- a jpg image? Do it. Hexedit it.

A searcher MUST be able to recognize a gif or a jpg image looking at the code. 

It is extremely important that you can imagine synecdochically the NAMES of the targets you are searching! Note moreover that such names are a-changing all the time. This happens routinely for the names of the most interesting targets you may seek :-) 

It is true that you can search for something even WITHOUT knowing it's exact name, but it is worth OVERESTIMATING the importance of names. 

Compare the following searches (and try to understand why they work):
Petit image


It is impossible to overestimate the importance of names on the web. Let's take a simple example: the robot.txt file, that is used to tell search engines which directories and files they should not index on a specific site. Thus anything that has been put inside a 'robots.txt' file will not be found by your searchqueries. This file is just a list of names. And you can access this file easily, looking for it in the main directory of your target site, entering per hand the URL with the following pattern:
http://www.targetsite.com/robots.txt
Thus, once you have seen the names, you can type them directly into your browser in order to access the various 'non public' subdirectories and pages.

Another classical 'nomen est omen' problem is encountered when you search for programs. Let's take Wdasm for instance as an example, this is a 'speedy' disassembler written by Peter Urbanik (hi Peter!) that has helped whole generations of both wannabie and capable crackers. This program anyway is not known to be on the net under the nameform "wdasm" and its stemmings (wdasm89, wdasm.zip wdasmdis.exe etcetera), yet you'll probably fish it (through ftp, local/regional fishing, deja or agoras) in its 'w32dsm' nomenestomen incarnation... therefore anyone knowing this will be able to fetch this program, and those that don't know this wont be able to fetch it... it is as simple as that.

You begin to understand what I mean, don't you?
What I mean is that ANY program or game or image or sound is ALREADY somewhere on the web, you just need to know its name to fish it out.

Names as weapons

But names (well... words) are also powerful WEAPONS. 
As the reality cracking section of my site demonstrates, an interesting observation is that a correct use of TERMS when cracking reality, can help quite a lot (by the way: the very term 'reality cracking' is quite catchy eo ipso, should you have not noticed it... :-)
Rhetoric is a very neglected yet incredibly powerful science (these two aspects being most probably correlated :-)
Whomever reads (and heads) his "Lausberg" will soon be able to destroy anything in sight!
As an example let's take MacDonald. The experience demonstrates that simply explaining to the poor slaves how awful (and dangerous) is the food there, will not break the 'perceivness of coolness' that especially young zombies are frequently victim of. So what is necessary is to 'break', or to 'crack' their PERCEPTION, throwing against their teeths a 'truth revealing' phrase that will forever destroy the plastic wrappings i.e. the 'bounds' of their consumistic slavery.

This is extremely easy if -at times- you can build a powerful (and sharp) rhetorical statement.

 Eating at MacDonald? That's 'reverse shitting' 

I won't go here into the rethorical tricks hidden inside the phrase you have read. There is a section of my site that deals with this kind of tricks. Let us just state (and hope) that we will use always such tricks in order to 'illuminate' people for their own good (I repeat: let's hope it, who knows? Just cross your fingers and toes, trying to control feelings is always a very dangerous ave...)

Anyway: this is just a simple example: The real message is: you should never underestimate the amazing power of words! A capable linguist is as powerful (and as dangerous) as a capable advertisement 'creative' (these morons being evil dark forces whereas... us 'reversers'... being of course sons of the light :-)

Fact is, that few of those that have heard or read the above 'reverse shitting' definition will hencefort be able to feel once more - when eating a BigMac - their advertisement induced 'coolness'... See? Using a couple of well-chosen terms we have compensated (and destroyed) the power of their advertisement propaganda :-) 

A medievistic cut

You wish to understand more about this 'nomen_est_omen' stuff? Here a 'medievistic' yet rather useful 'cut' (if you follow the three hints below you are in for a long ride... see you back in a couple of years time :-)
  • As a foretaste in english:
    Gudmund Schuette's Our forefathers ('The Gothonic nations'), Cambridge, Unipress, 1933 (especially vol.II) read it and be prepared to gasp in awe.
  • to keep rolling (in German):
    M.Schoenefeld, Woerterbuch der altgermanischen Personen- und Voelkernamen, Tilburg 1910, reprint Heidelberg 1965, his 'etymologischer index' is almost unsurpassed, note his assertion: "Zu den unvollkommensten Erzeugnissen der Menschen gehoeren unstreitig die Woerterbuecher"
  • dulcis in fundo:
    Ernst Foerstermann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch, Bonn 1900, reprint Muenchen 1966, this is a book that IMHO anyone researching to-day web names-matters should carefully and seriously study in order to learn some metodology... Bienenfleissig was Foerstermann...

Do not worry too much. This linguistic AND web-related problematic is quite relevant for all sort of searchers, yet there are different ways to 'countourn' (or even to solve) it. Reading the essays and lessons on my site you'll be again and again confronted with the old nomen est omen truth, and you'll find ways to avoid confronting it, paths that will go trough it and ways to harness its power for your own aims.
Far from being finished...

Petit image

(c) III Millennium: [fravia+], all rights reserved

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

UNWRITTEN: Dear Dad

July 23, 2013

Dear Dad,

I apologize for not getting back to you sooner but I had to process my thoughts before responding. 

Unfortunately, I had to withdraw from the course and defer admissions since I was about $950 short and was unable to borrow the money from Karen since she told me that she could not afford to lend me the money. 

I was devastated and felt she was being dishonest with me since she just sold the condo my grandmother gave her for over $750,000. 

It wasn't worth fighting over since we both know that it may have resulted in a drawn out battle like the one she had with her brother when Grandpa Al died. 

I was in a deep depression when I saw the deed to the house since Karen promised that she would leave the property to Lauren and I to return the favor. Instead, she threw out all of our things and I collected photographs you had taken of us when we were little girls. 
 


 

On a side note, she also wants us to reimburse her for the ObGyn bill when I was born! 

I can't tell you how disappointed I am since I would only need one more class after that for my degree and I was really looking forward to a visit with you since it has been a while and I have some things I want to tell you. 

I finally get it. 

I just wish I could have "gotten it" earlier in life so I could have made better choices and decisions. 

Now that I am growing older, I see a lot of myself in you. 



 

I have always respected you. Your amazing focus, work ethic, and self discipline. 

Hate to break it to you, but even though I don't have to, I actually kinda of like you!

I used to make fun of you for buying three pairs of the same jeans and cutting them at the ankles. 

Guess what? I do it now too!  I buy three of everything too because I have to come to value comfort more than fashion. 

My ears are sensitive like yours and I go apeshit when I hear noisy teenagers on a train. And if I had a badge? You bet your ass I would flash it too!

I have zero tolerance for histrionics and manipulative behavior and I would rather be told the most awful truth than a well constructed lie. 

I make good eye contact and often find myself speaking in monotone, repeating the same words until they come out just right or are understood. 

I don't know if these traits are from your strict upbringing or if they are a genetic predisposition since I have come to learn that they are common for people with Aspergers Syndrome. Echolalia, sensory overload, a need for consistency. 

Like you, I can be extremely focused and have special interests that have allowed me to become one of the "top four policy analysts to graduate from Columbia's program in the last 40 years" and "the only person [Congressman Cooper] knows in the state of Tennessee capable of understanding the complexities of the relevant health care law and policy issues."

Things haven't worked out the way I hoped and planned but you never told me life was fair or that everything would be okay.

I resigned from my job with the state because I couldn't tell my clients (juvenile offenders or victims of horrific abuse and neglect) that things "would get better" when I knew in my heart that they were in for a cruel, unjust ride through a corrupt welfare system and had little to no chance of surviving in this society if they expected to rely upon the "system" to meet their basic needs. 

The system is designed to keep people locked into a dependence and learned helplessness with little chance of ever breaking free.  
 
Having lived on under $17/day for more years than I care to admit.

I simply could not be a party to encouraging children and young adults to subscribe to that mindset and tell them their lives would improve; that the system would help them achieve independence when I knew damn well that I was fostering false hopes by encouraging a lifestyle of dependence that would likely continue into adulthood. 

It broke my heart. It broke my spirit and it broke my faith in the system. 

I no longer want to save the world. Quite frankly, I have given far too much of myself and my time working with charities and volunteering with non-profit agencies that paid me far less than I deserved because I let them. 

I am paying for that now. But maybe someday, I will feel confident enough to   demand a real salary and maybe even collect royalties on my publications and the book I wrote that sold 62,000 copies without paying me a dime. 

I hope you will read it someday if you haven't already and know that I finally learned to speak and write the way you taught me to... 

I do hope you know that despite my past and residual anger, I love you and hope that you love me too. 

Love, 

Liz



 


Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.
Research & Policy Analyst


On Jul 23, 2013, at 7:39 AM, Marc Durant
wrote:

Did you ever make it to Columbia and NYC?
__________________
Marc Durant
Durant & Durant LLP
325 Chestnut Street
Suite 1116
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2611
www.durantlaw.com
________________________________________
From: Elyssa Durant
Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 7:19 AM
To: Marc Durant; Schuessler George; Rick; Stu; Social Justice; Vaxen; Joel; Elyssa Danielle Durant
Subject: Yahoo's Very Bad Idea to Release Email Addresses | Threat Level | Wired.com

Holy mother of God!!



Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.
Research & Policy Analyst