I’m a happy sucker for canned foods. I completely agree with the person–I think it was some generic Portland indie rocker–who said that opening a can of food is a little bit like opening a present. Some of my most contented moments in life happen while cracking open a can of herring in tomato sauce or baked beans. My love for canned food is also prompted by the fact that I will do just about anything to avoid cooking. I thank the gods on a regular basis for having been born in a time in which I don’t have to cook, or sew my own clothing, or churn my own butter… People tell me that gratitude is important, and so here’s something I’m grateful for–my laziness.

Another connoisseur who clearly appreciates the modern genius that is canned food–and its many uses–is the principal of W.F. Burns Middle School in Valley, Alabama, Priscella Holley. She has sent a letter to the parents of her students requesting that the kids bring in cans of food so that they can be used as weapons. The way this will work is that there will be a stash of cans in the classroom, and if an intruder enters the school, the kids can throw the cans at him. The principal expressed the hope that this would distract the intruder or even knock him out.

Predictably, the biggest criticism of this idea has come from the people with a gun fetish, who wish everyone in the school would be armed. To each their own kinks, I suppose. I, for one, think there’s nothing more heartwarming than a photo of a middle school class surrounded by machine-gun-wielding teachers, Third World Somalia-style.

In any case, for the first time in my life I have a reason to visit Alabama–free canned veggies! But am I woman enough to accept the challenge? Would I be brave to enough to stroll into W.F. Burns on a surprise visit, knowing that there will be a herd of middle schoolers waiting to hurl cans at me? Should be easy enough to grab a few of the projectiles and retreat quickly, or so one would think. But middle school kids are frightening creatures. I know, I remember them. They might point their fingers and make fun of me, and send me screaming and crying for the door without being able to complete my mission. Hmmmm.

I wonder if the kids at W.F. Burns like herring?

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Ah, the scent of children’s tears and crushed dreams is in the air–must be time to go back to school.

I remember how much I dreaded this time of year when I was little. I knew I could look forward to spending my days getting mocked by my old Communist teacher, who hated my family for not being Communist, and attacked by my Catholic schoolmates, who hated my family for not being Catholic. After long, blissful months of drawing, reading and flying off on imaginary adventures, I had to slouch back into the building where everything I was and liked would get stomped on as “weird” and “stupid”.

Later on, my school experiences in places other than my mind-stifling Polish hometown were much better, so much so that I would look forward to September. Positive teachers and welcoming classrooms made all the difference. So this year, I’m wishing all the kids going back to school a place which expands their imagination and desire for knowledge rather than squashing it. A place which is considerate of students with different religious and political beliefs. And may the butterflies they feel be ones of excitement, not of anxiety and fear. School should not be a scary destination.

So now we have this dork to deal with in my local area.  A man (his name remains unknown, as he refuses to identify himself to the cops) who has decided to stand up for his Second Amendment rights by parading with his gun in front of elementary schools and middle schools.  Naturally, this causes people to call 911, parents are panicked, schools go into lockdown mode.

Fine, I get that you’re trying to make your point–you have the right to keep your guns and you don’t want anyone to take them away from you.  But this guy has to know that, especially after the horrific Newtown shooting, this kind of act is going to rile up emotion and fear, and I can’t help but think he must be getting some asshole satisfaction out of that.  Well, isn’t he oh so powerful.  A lot of the wanna-be militia types all seem the same–bunch of potbellied middle-aged warriors with an ego problem.

I wonder if there is anything that can be done to stop him, but there probably is no solution.  It’s legal for him to be on the sidewalk just outside the school.  You don’t really want to get into an argument with him, because he’s armed.  So I suppose for the time being he can continue proving to everyone that he’s got the biggest penis in the neighborhood.  Which I strongly suspect is not the case.

I’ve been hearing so much fearmongering about Common Core lately that I just had to go and check it out for myself.  Common Core is a set of new educational standards which has been adopted by most of the country at this time, and it has already been compared to the Hitler Youth and described as Marxist indoctrination.  As always, rumors of the Apocalypse are much exaggerated.

When I went to the Common Core page, I saw scary objectives for kids such as this one:  “Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.”  I looked in various sections, such as History and Science, to see if I could find any propaganda about climate change or sneaky suggestions to share your financial profits with the less fortunate.  But I found nothing except requirements for mastering specific technical and analytical skills in each grade.  For those of you who are petitioning against Common Core, if I have missed something, please let me know.

Perhaps this is the problem:  “Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.”  Many of the commentators who bash Common Core are not just religious, but of the fundamentalist religious bent, and I’ve found that fundamentalists dislike the idea of children being taught to dissect and challenge what they read–after all, one day they might challenge what they read in the Bible, and then what?

If people are this scared of something as simple as Common Core, I can’t imagine how they would have felt about my Dutch education, which included very open sex ed and a class on world religions, in which kids from different religious traditions were encouraged to describe their faith to their fellow students.  I think I’ve turned out just fine–and I can tell the fundies that I didn’t end up sexually promiscuous or an atheist–but they probably think I’m messed up anyway, so I won’t waste my time.