On Going Barefoot and Dress Codes

From the archives. LTE Nov 2001. The precise links may not be valid, but the sites are still up. This issue ended with the Principal and I sitting down. The person simply asked me to wear shoes. They understood where I was coming from, but it was simply a request. So I did. If they had tried any other tack, I would likely have fought the rules.

I was recently informed that shoes are required for all visitors entering the Longbranch School buildings and perhaps any other MISD building governed by similar ways of thinking. I agree to temporarily comply with the request out of courtesy to those that have requested it. This short period will allow me to present reasons why my choice to wear shoes, should remain my choice. MISD may also use this time to present reasonable arguments to justify depriving me of this choice.

Dress Code – I read the dress code prior to enrollment and agree to do my best to see that my children adhere to it, as students. If your an employee of MISD, you no doubt have a similar code that you agreed to when your employment began. As a visitor to any campus, I am not bound by either . Much the same as I am not bound by the employee dress code at Wal-Mart or Kroger. I hope MISD does not decide to hold all visitors to the same code as the students.

Health Code – As far as I know there are no health codes, city or state that require I keep the bottom of my feet covered. Exceptions would be if I was employed in food service. If there is a high probability that I will suffer some injury without foot protection, I would be wise to wear something. In the time I have been traversing the halls of Longbranch I have yet to see an example of sloppy housekeeping. Quite the contrary, the floors are clean, soft, and warm. My thanks to the hard working staff that help to keep them that way. If the issue was health, gloves would be required for students and employees.

Liability – I do have the occasional doubts about our judicial system, but I do not believe that MISD could be held responsible if I should hurt myself while choosing to go without shoes. Informal investigation done by others found very little reference to bare feet in common insurance liability policies. See accompanying document.

Setting a good example – Should we have to wear shoes when visiting a school that requires it’s students to wear shoes, on the premise of setting a “good example” ? No one will argue the merits of setting a good example. I wish more people would work to set better examples regarding the things that really matter. There is and always will be a difference between many of the guidelines we ask our children to abide by and those that apply to adults. They deserve the same respect, but the rules may be different. I tell my children that I can go without shoes because I am responsible for what happens. I am better aware of the dangers and have more resources to handle those dangers and their consequences. Until they are more responsible for themselves and what happens to them in the world at-large , perhaps they should wear shoes. It would be a bad example of another kind for me to go along , simply to “fit in”. I hope my children grow up with the critical thinking skills that are needed to decide when to follow and when to speak up about things that may not follow majority thinking. Whether it be peer pressure or simply the status quo.

The document I have provided covers many of the finer points of going barefoot. It can also be found on the web at http://www.barefooters.org/key-works/KeyArticles.htm.

If your interested in specifics regarding children, shoes, and why it makes a difference. Or the influence of the 1.2 Billion pairs of shoes we buy a year (1996), ( which over 90% are imported ). Or perhaps the reasons we wear shoes beyond what is healthy for our feet.

Check out http://www.unshod.org/pfbc/

 

In light of this information. What is the imperative that supersedes my right to not wear shoes ?

Believing Things w/o Research.

From the LTE archives. circa 2003. I don’t have the original letter from Mr Snyder and have not tried to locate it. – ed

I appreciate Steve Snyder , Midlothian Today 2-13-03 , for checking out those items noted for the “Stella” Award. I was more than willing to believe the stories of extraordinary lawsuits with big awards. It supports my feeling that I pay too much for insurance and the inflation eating my paycheck has a tangible foe.

Superstition is a part of our culture, whether it be Tarot Cards, guiding stars, tea leaves, or spirits that listen to our wishes, guide our daily lives, and determine the outcome of sporting events. Some people will be willing to believe things even when critical investigation shows them to be false, unlikely, or perhaps even in violation of physical laws, as we know them. Some will fail to investigate things or listen to critical analysis because it’s already works for them to believe ‘as is’. In many cases it is not possible to prove, beyond all doubt, that these things don’t exist or are not possible. I suppose I’m not really ready to stop giving others the ‘benefit of the doubt’ when I hear things that may be unlikely. The world could possibly be worse off with a world of cynics and those that would require 100% proof before going forward. We would still be in the Dark Ages if many people in our history had not moved ahead with only unsubstantiated ideas to guide them. You should be willing to believe people or events relative to the cost of such a belief. It really does me little harm if someone wants to bless me when I sneeze, knock on wood when there may be some danger of altering time and space by speculating on the future, or attribute the course of our lives to purple triangles on the far side of the universe. So long as I am not required to adopt their superstitions, support them involuntarily, or base substantial action or even inaction on their likelihood, people are free to think as they wish. When someone requires that you give up time-tested theories of how the world works, it’s time to require more than unsubstantiated claims.

In 2003 there are still many places around the world where people are dying in battles to see who has the most powerful supernatural friend(s). The outrage is our failure to use intellect and experience to realize our potential as human beings guiding the destiny of this planet. We need to encourage critical thinking skills and the ability to look for long-term solutions. We can’t do that if we are willing to relinquish control of our destiny to forces that cannot even be proven to exist, much less exert control.

Thanks Mr. Snyder, now if we can convince a few billion more people, the world will be a better, safer place.

When The 9th Circuit Spoke and Nobody Cared

From the LTE archive circa 2003. ‘Under God’ in the Pledge was in the news.

Thanks Ninth Circuit Court

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court voted 15-14 to take no

further action regarding its June, 2002 ruling in NEWDOW v. U.S.

At that time they declared that “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional and was the equivalent of government endorsed religion. The First Amendment to our Constitution prohibits government from promoting or establishing religion and religious belief. The Pledge of Allegiance should be secular. It is, ideally, a statement of unity for a free people, regardless of whether one believes or disbelieves in religious teachings. This case has nothing to do with the right of people to recite the

Pledge of Allegiance. The decision by the Ninth Circuit panel focused on the inclusion of two words, ‘under God,’ that were not part of the original pledge. The statement that the United States is a nation ‘under God’ is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism.”

Unfortunately our Attorney General just does not seem to get it when he said that no effort will be spared to preserve the rights of our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag or this time when he avowed to defend American’s right to declare their patriotism through the voluntary recitation. This has nothing to do with patriotism and I doubt that any school child considers it voluntary. It’s about linking religion with patriotism and it is wrong for the government to be doing it.

So, yes , Mr Ashcroft , as long as “Under God” remains in the pledge our school children will be deprived of this patriotic exercise.

Yes , Mr Ashcroft , as long as you continue to leave this phrase in, it will be just as unconstitutional as school prayer.

As long as the government continues to attempt to associate patriotism with a monotheistic, obviously Christian, god, they will miss out.

Fortunately, millions of school children everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief that they no longer have to pretend to believe in the majority religion just to show their patriotism. Perhaps the courts are right on , just as they were in 1963 with prayer.

“We may not — we must not — allow public sentiment or outcry to

guide our decisions,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote. “The Bill of Rights is, of

course, intended to protect the rights of those in the minority

against the temporary passions of a majority.”

What the recent decision did change from last June , is to narrow the scope to only encompass school recitation of the Pledge as long as it contains ‘Under God’. If we can eliminate the reference to the supernatural, the Pledge will again include all Americans. Currently it is a religious test, contrary to the fourth amendment to the Constitution.

If we just declare that it is unconstitutional to allow the Pledge in public school because of the religious phrase and do not remove the phrase entirely, we will indeed be doing our school children a great injustice.

Politics and the 2+ Party System

From the ‘Letter to the Editor’ – Midlothian Mirror archives circa Nov 2004. I found 2 versions, you can choose which moves you.

It is unfortunate we have so little choice for leadership in this country. We have the “current leadership” and “perhaps not quite as bad as the current leadership”. It appears to make little difference since the same powers will be running the country, regardless of our choice. We have the Demopublican Party and beyond the fence we have those others that have not been allowed on the playground. Neither of the top two parties are addressing the outrage that exists in this country today. Should I expect them to, that would be admitting that there is something to be outraged about. Really everything is fine, go back to your job, if you have one, your going to need the money.

I hope nobody really still believes the Middle East war is about WMD’s or atrocities committed by the powers in Iraq. Considering Saddam Hussein was committing those same kinds of atrocities when he was working for us, one has to wonder why it took us this long to get a conscience? Is there still anyone who thinks that Iraq had a strong enough connection to the terrorism of 911 to warrant the death of tens of thousands of innocent people in Iraq. I am also sorry if you were taken in by the weapons of mass distraction like “They hated us for our freedom” and “If you don’t agree with us you’re with the terrorists”. This war is about control of Middle East resources, “New American Century”, showing force, and the economics of war. Our nation is dependent on war and its economics, just as Eisenhower warned in a speech after WWII.

Are the American people really comfortable with the tens of thousands that have died in our pursuit of Middle East control? Here we are, nearly 2005 and we are still killing totally innocent men, women, and children with programs like “Shock and Awe”. It’s a disgrace that with all the resources at our command and the power of the American people, we could not accomplish our goal without destroying families, families just like yours and mine. Through no fault of theirs, or anyone they know, their country got itself on the global bully’s hit list. Imagine friends and maybe family being killed outright, or dying from lack of clean water, little food, and poor medical facilities. Infrastructure our military industrial complex is getting rich on destroying and then subsequently getting rich on rebuilding (supposedly). I can see where thousands of new terrorist recruits are willing to give their lives in revenge. I don’t feel safer, do you? We are openly showing the rest of the world exactly what Osama Bin-Laden wanted them to see. The bullying tactics that America employs around the world to get its way. Speaking of Bin-Laden, where is he? Will he ever be captured? Perhaps that’s no longer relevant to the mission.

I’m pleased to see so much information finally coming out about 9-11, although several years late. Most people will never see that so much evidence is in contradiction to this administration’s story. They have so lied to this country about 9-11 and that’s a pretty sorry way to govern. The contradictions and outright lies have been around since months after the attack and are only now hitting mainstream press, in a safe non-alarming sort of way. The major media in this country were and still are fully complicit in the “weapons of mass distraction” effort. They have earned my distrust for years to come for being such cowards.

I would like to set aside one day a week in appreciation of those that went to fight in Bush’s war. They have my utmost admiration. At the same time, we need a day of silence and reflection for all those that paid a greater price and did not return alive. In opposition to the policy of the Bush administration, silently sending them back home and hoping it doesn’t draw too much attention. This country needs to be allowed to mourn each and every loss. Not only our own, but those in Iraq that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. War should be a last resort and it was not the case for this one. Our leadership lied and many innocent people died.

America can still rescue its reputation for freedom and integrity. We don’t really want the type of respect you show the neighborhood bully because you don’t want to be the next victim. Do we really want to incite the rest of the world to build up it’s own arsenals for that inevitable day when it will be their turn to have something America wants. Do we want everybody on the planet working to rebuild their defenses because of America the bully? But, we are the biggest arms merchants in the world. What goes around comes around.

It may take longer than you think to get back to the America you and I remember from days past, especially if we continue to limit our choices to tweedle-dee and the tweedle-dum of the Demopublican Party. So, Vote Tweedle if you like the way it is. Vote for one of the others if you’re tired of seeing America lose its reputation in the world year after year. But vote, and help your friends and neighbors to vote. Voter apathy tells those in charge; nobody cares, nobody’s watching, and nobody can stop us.

The next is an ever so slightly different version. – ed

I am totally frustrated with, and disappointed in our current leadership. It’s not like we really are offered a choice. We have the “current leadership” or “other than the current leadership”, the same powers will be running the country and little will change. Those that could have made a difference in this situation have remained silent but are just as responsible for our current situation. Mainstream press, are you listening. Moderates in the #2 party, are you listening. It appears we have what Robert Ringer called the Demopublican Party in “Restoring The American Dream” (1979). It’s a shame nothing has changed.

I hope nobody still believes this is about what weapons Iraq had or atrocities they committed. It’s about control of the Middle East, New American Century, and global hegemony. We have become an Empire and it will only get worse. Are we really comfortable with the tens of thousands that have died in our pursuit of Middle East control? Here we are, nearly 2005 and we are still killing totally innocent men, women, and children with our “Shock and Awe”, what a disgrace. With all the resources at our command we could not accomplish our goal without killing families, families just like yours and mine. We had Iraq essentially blockaded for ten years and we could not neutralize the threat he presented. We’re not talking about some subversive organization. This was the active governing body of Iraq, and this is the best we could do. Put your self in their situation for just a moment, I often do and am deeply saddened by it. Through no fault of yours, or anyone you know, your country got itself on America’s bad list. Imagine 20, 30 or 50% of your friends and maybe family being killed outright, or dying from lack of clean water, no waste purifying plants, and little food to go around. Infrastructure our military industrial complex is getting rich on destroying and then subsequently getting rich on rebuilding (supposedly). I can see where we have created thousands of new terrorist recruits. Many seeing all they had being destroyed by this invading force. Another country whose leadership was so entrenched in archaic methods that it could find no better solution to neutralize a threat to both Iraqis and the rest of the world. We are openly showing the rest of the world exactly what Osama Bin-Laden wanted them to see about how America deals with problems around the world. What an embarrassment. Speaking of Bin-Laden, where is he? Word on the net is he will be paraded out just in time to be used in the Bush re-election effort.

It’s great to see all the facts coming out about the 9-11, although way too late. Most people will never see that so much evidence is in contradiction to this administrations story. Information that has been around since months after the attack, it is only now hitting mainstream press. “They hated us for our freedom” and “If you don’t agree with us you’re with the terrorists”, thus began the assault with “weapons of mass distraction”. The major media was in full cower mode and they need to make it right, not to mention begging forgiveness for totally not doing their job. I will never trust them again. The cover-up of the truth behind 9-11 and the efforts undertaken to make sure the 9-11 commission came up with only token gestures to satisfy those in power is disgraceful but wholly predictable. I mean Henry Kissinger, really.

Given the chance, I would like to shake the hand of every person that returns from the Middle East for fighting Bush’s war. They deserve a special day of appreciation for real patriotism and sacrifice. I think we should also have a day of silence and reflection for all those that did not return alive. In opposition to the policy of the Bush administration, silently sending them back home and not allowing the entire country to mourn the loss.

This president has increased the dangers from terrorism 10 fold. This president has increased the danger of nuclear incident by turning it’s back on every major arms control treaty we had going before 2000. Other nations are scrambling to make sure they have defenses against an attack by America should they get included in the Axis of Evil. Arms control was working until Bush. Our world is substantially more dangerous because of Bush. Our constitution is weaker because of Bush and the Patriot Act I and II.

We need regime change in November. Anybody but Bush.

Yes, Our Civil Liberties are Going Bye Bye

This was responding to a Letter to the Editor in Midlothian Mirror in June 2004. Just a blurb, but still putting it out there along with the other stuff that is only getting worse. I don’t know if MISD went ahead with random drug testing, what a disastrous idea.  

Ms Mattocks is right to be concerned for eroding civil liberties ( Midlothian Mirror 6/2 ). Just keep in mind, it’s been building for years. Many feel neither safe nor proud.

We have legitimized “Pre-emptive” war. We can invade other countries based on what they could be doing, even if the reasoning later proves to be false and we knew it.

We have the “Patriot Act”.

This legislation was anything but patriotic to the America I know and love. Simply a laundry list of legislation waiting for the right national emergency. None of which would have passed had it been read and debated. None of it so needed as to relinquish our civil liberties. “Patriot Act II” is not far behind, beware.

We have ‘Random Drug Testing”

We are now testing individual school age kids for drugs before we have any proof they are using them. The word “Random” changes nothing. Guilty until proven innocent. If we’re going to apply this reasoning to the kids, let’s apply it to the entire MISD staff. How many people would tolerate random stopping of 25% of the vehicles on the road, just in case.

We have “Enemy Combatants” held in Off-shore prisons. Just like the corporate big boys, move outside the borders and you don’t have to obey the laws.

Sorry, there is no one agency to talk to about this. It comes from the top. You can however vote in November. Regime change begins at home.

We are Still Not in Control

Repost from the archives. It would be nice to say these ideas are no longer useful, but they are.

My sympathy’s to ( name withheld ) Opinion, The Midlothian Mirror Jan ,2003) and the dismay felt with regard to the world around us. It has taken us a while to get here and the trip back would be a long one, even if it were possible. Just because the problems are complicated, does not mean we aren’t able to apply a few simple ideas to bring back that sense that we have a say in what goes on in our world.

A major problem in this case is a loss of control by the individual to effect change for society. We appoint others to manage the bigger world for us, a perfectly valid concept, then wake up one day to realize that we have lost our say in the big picture. We can often have a profound effect on those around us and make the world better that way, but still feel powerless to sway the course of society in general. There are times when we have to gather together and make our voices heard. If you have some area of interest with ideas for change, seek like-minded groups. Regardless of the interest, there are groups out there. You may not always outnumber those that feel the opposite on particular issues, but don’t underestimate the power of large groups to be wrong. There are also many things going on today that only need the light of day to expose less than honest motives behind them.

Don’t be silent, VOTE. Use it as one of your most cherished rights and let those in control know it will be exercised regularly. Use it to decide what kind of a world you want to live in and the world you wish to pass onto those that will have it for eons to come. I can understand those that say the issues are too complex and their vote would not be an informed one. I suspect adding a few hundred million active voters would go a long way towards making sure the issues got explained in terms everyone could understand.

Spend your resources where they will count. Almost just as powerful a force for change is your money and what you choose to spend it on. Spending it as close to home as possible may translate to a more powerful voice for change and perhaps build a stronger community. This is especially important when you buy food. I’m afraid the future will show us what a grave error we make in allowing the family farm to disappear, not startling news to most of us. When you do part with your money, be informed about what kind of corporate citizen you support. In many cases they may be marketing one image and contributing to something totally different in practice. Perhaps that cheap price at the national discount store is costing you more that you think, in terms of contributing to things you don’t like about the world. Don’t buy from that company that pays it’s top management over 20 times what the average worker gets. Don’t buy from that corporation that just moved its headquarters to a PO Box in the Bahamas to avoid taxes. Your dollar is one of your most important tools of change. – and don’t forget to vote.

Do what you can to guard against negative influences in your life. Turn off the TV, and then only use it intentionally. There are tons of things to do instead of watch TV, most of them substantially more rewarding. Our media feeds on itself and is not working to our benefit. Its business is to make you consumers and attempt to entertain in the process, only so you perceive value. Choose carefully what you do watch and who is paying the bill. Especially if you have children and are concerned what they are being subjected to. The same goes for the computer, your kids can be computer literate without having to spend 5 or 10 hours a week staring at the monitor. Keep an eye on those that market to our children in the classroom. Sometimes it’s not easy to spot, but the corporations know how important your children are to future revenues. They spend enormous amounts of money to create new consumers. Ask our teachers, they are likely aware of the influences and may also feel powerless to stop it. – Vote

Don’t Waste, conserve and recycle – we are a nation of consumers, and not very astute ones, at that. The ‘happiness by consumption’ doctrine can be an incredibly negative force in our daily lives. We expend a great deal of personal energy on collecting things that offer very little to improve our lives before they get discarded. Then we pay someone to take them away and store them in the ground somewhere, usually in a part of town or the world that has little say about it. Trust me – the stuff is in someone’s backyard. Tell the fast food place you don’t want the latest bobble, made 3000 miles away, stuck in your lunch sack. Look at what you buy in terms of how it contributes to a better world and is it sustainable. I think most everyone sees our planet going downhill and think it has too much momentum and is to powerful to stop. Perhaps this destruction of our own ‘house’ saps our pride and makes us feel powerless. That’s a high price we’re paying for so-called progress – Vote

Be Informed – As long as the Internet is still relatively uncontrolled, we have a wonderful tool to get diverse opinions and network with those that feel as we do. If you’re getting all your news from network television and conglomerate news, you likely have no idea what’s really going on, and why. A good percentage of the major media sources in this country have no reason to really inform you, it leads to change. The Internet is a necessity for anyone that is tired of the direction this world is going. Initially, what you find out will not make you feel better. But it is a necessary first step to getting better control over what goes on around you, and feeling better that your doing all you can for the things that concern you.

Oh Yea – Vote.

Is Mad Cow Still With Us?

Letter to the Editor from 2005 about USDA and Mad Cow ( Bovine spongiform encephalopathy – BSE ) and its human cousin, Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease CJD. It was a big thing back then and there is no reason to believe is was defeated. I have to believe it was just downplayed until it was no longer front page fodder. Considering its connection to Alzheimers, a disease that has not let up, we should still be concerned.

From the letter:

In reference to a letter published in the paper that the USDA is doing such a great job dealing with Mad Cow’a great job with BSE (Mad Cow), I totally disagree, the USDA has taken a poor stance. While the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1996 had several recommendations, including extensive testing, the US is one of the few ( if only ) nations that paid little attention to them. Almost every nation that has followed the WHO recommendations for testing have discovered many more cases of BSE. Why have we not found as many cases? Don’t test, don’t find. The USDA planned to test 38000 cows in 2004 (from this 2003 source) which barely exceeds what Europe tests in a day. We need to be testing millions of cows a year, we need to test every single cow that is slaughtered for human consumption. There have been several meat processors that have tried to advertise complete testing of every animal, only to be informed by the USDA that they will lose their USDA certification if they do so. Many countries already test every animal, why can’t we. According to testimony, it would only add pennies to each pound of meat. Perhaps if the USDA were not so ‘involved’ with the industries we rely on them to protect us from, they could do their job. Maybe it’s the revolving door between the USDA and the industries it was created to regulate. Maybe it’s money … nah.

Despite assurances from the USDA that cows are no longer fed to cows, it is still ok to feed cow blood to cows and still ok to feed cows to chickens and pigs and then use those animals to feed cows. Plus the regulations to not feed cows to cows is voluntary by the millions of beef producers and judging by budget cuts, government oversight is not a high priority. Are we also watching all the imported beef? Many countries that have taken public health seriously are banning practices that are still commonplace in the US. It is time to ban any feeding of animal protein to livestock destined for human consumption and substantially increase the testing of healthy animals, not just downer cows. The supposed ‘firewall feed ban’ in the US to keep cattle from contracting this disease is a joke and it is putting the health of Americans at risk. How many happy cows out in the pasture do you see eating other animals? The USDA and the Meat industry need to stop treating this like a PR problem. ‘Public health is more important than profit’ should be the USDA’s motto. USDA, prove to us that your doing everything you can (by WHO standards). Prove to us that you’re not the tobacco industry of the 70’s, telling us it’s all just fine. C Everett Coop, where are you when we need you.