Not so long ago, I posted a blog about being an old and jaded woman who doesn’t believe someone like Bernie Sanders stands a chance in the general election.

Well, now I…still don’t believe Bernie could win. (Although Scott Walker has dropped out, thank the gods!) But I do have to make note of something I’m seeing… Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day, and I took the day off from work so I could spend it all registering voters. Because I’m a giant political nerd. Oregon does technically have the new law where you automatically get registered to vote if you have a driver’s license or ID at the DMV, but a lot of (especially younger) people who don’t have IDs might fall through the cracks, so voter registration drives continue to be an awesome thing.

We did our registration drive at a local college, and the students were incredibly enthusiastic about signing up. And the main reason for their enthusiasm? Yep, you guessed it. Bernie. Lots of young people who wanted to make sure they could vote for him in 2016, who wanted to make sure they were registered Democratic so they could vote for him in the primaries. So Bernie’s campaign to win the White House may not be realistic, but he is getting a whole new generation of Americans excited and involved in the election process. I doubt that the students would have been so fired up if it had been just Hillary or Biden running.

Or maybe they would have been. The number two reason I heard from our brand new voters was: “I don’t care what happens–I don’t want Donald Trump to win.” There are certainly some colorful personalities involved in the 2016 race, and that may motivate high voter turnout. Whether or not that’s a good thing? We shall see when the election results come in…

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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?

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.

Higher education in America–or at least access to it–has been on a downward slide.  According to this depressing New York Times article, state and local financing for higher education has dropped 7 percent since last year, just as costs are rising and students are having to pay more.  And if you want to get even gloomier, look at the trend over the past 25 years–the percentage of higher education costs coming from tuition and fees has increased to 47 percent from 23 percent in 1987.  So yes, more of the cost of college is being shifted onto the family and the student.  Good thing our wages have been going up over the same time period…oh, wait.

And now, the sequester–here to make things even worse.  Remember, it was supposed to be dumb and arbitrary, and it is.  Work-study programs and grants are going to sustain serious cuts.  Also, origination fees on college loans are expected to increase.  All in all, about 70,000 college students are likely to be affected, and they are low income students–the ones who can least afford it.

Until recently, some financial support for universities was provided by that evil, evil stimulus bill, but that funding has now run out.  There is a Higher Education Act coming up for a vote in the future, but considering that this is the Congress which for the longest time couldn’t get its act together on violence against women, I’m starting to suspect this bill will get blocked, like everything else these days.

We are doing this to ourselves–and have been for a while–just as our international rivals such as China are looking for ways to offer their educational institutions more subsidies and support, and thus give themselves an edge in global competition.

But hey, these student moochers, right?  Why are they expecting government support?  Never mind that a good education gives them a better chance at being productive citizens–and not needing social services–after they graduate.  On the other hand, if our education system goes down the tubes, that dreaded 47% will turn into an even larger and more impoverished underclass–is that really what we want?