Back in the day, the Paden City High School band engaged in hazing by assigning freshman “slaves” to seniors during the week of “band camp,” which occurred at Bethany College in West Virginia. We boys not only had to dress as women but had to march in costume, including pantyhose and water balloons in our bras.
We also had to wear dog biscuits on strings around our necks and eat them at our masters’ command. And we had to go through a gauntlet of humiliation one evening, where all of the seniors dumped molasses on the freshmen and put us through other trials. We didn’t know what was coming because we were all blindfolded. I remember washing my hair with Coca-Cola every night of my freshman year to try to get all of the gunk out of it.
All of this occurred with adult consent and supervision. No parents objected. It was all considered perfectly normal. The tradition went on for years until someone crossed a line that brought an abrupt and merciful end to it. I heard that Bethany officials intervened because of the way one particular freshman was forced to dress and walk through the shared cafeteria, but maybe that was just the band camp equivalent of an urban legend.
It was always a bit ironic that this behavior happened on the campus of a “Christian liberal arts college.”
I didn’t realize until today that the “adults” in Major League Baseball had been engaging in and tolerating similar hazing:
Now those practices have been halted. “Times have changed,” players’ union general counsel Dave Prouty. “There is certain conduct that we have to be conscious of.”
Welcome to the 21st century, athletes of America!
Filed under: Culture and Education and News & Politics and Sports
That reality alone would be enough to irritate Clinton’s supporters under normal circumstances. Now add to that the fact that few political analysts expected Trump to win and that many people rejected Trump as a candidate not only because they disagreed with his political philosophy and policy ideas but also because they deemed him unfit to be president.
That is a recipe for the kind of hostility Americans are seeing in the days since the election, be it in street protests that sometimes turn into riots or bitter and angry online exchanges. Some students were so distraught by Trump’s election that colleges canceled classes. It’s ugly out there right now.
The country needs voices of reason in this atmosphere, and one of them emerged a couple of days after the election in an unexpected place — West Virginia, the heart of Trump territory. Every county in the Mountain State voted for him, with Oklahoma being the only other state where that happened, and 69 percent of West Virginians voted for Trump.
Three days after the balloting, as news of post-election angst and turmoil mounted, West Virginia University president E. Gordon Gee issued a statement to encourage free speech, responsibility, tolerance of all views and open debate in the WVU community. Here’s an excerpt:
The statement is full of progressive buzzwords like that aren’t always as open-minded as they sound when uttered within the context of 21st-century academia. “Incivility,” “hatred” and “discrimination” too often are used to describe those with conservative values, for instance, and only conservatives are expected to show “respect” and “empathy” toward those who are different from them.
But the principles are sound if applied fairly across the political spectrum, and America will be a better nation if they are. Let’s hope leaders like Gee mean what they say for a change and model those attitudes for the country.
Filed under: Education and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and West Virginia
Behold the power of enlightened rednecks:
Remember that the next time you read an article trashing West Virginia or hear some elitist tell a joke about those hillbillies in the Mountain State. A little redneck common sense made the researchers at my alma mater skeptical, and a little hard work on their part exposed the alleged deception of a multinational corporation.
Filed under: Business and Education and Government and News & Politics and Rednecks and West Virginia
If the Internet has taught us anything about the news, it’s that the outrage of the week (or day) isn’t always as simple as it seems on the surface.
The heroes and villains that journalists love to anoint in their coverage rarely live up to the hype or down to the demonization. The trite hashtags that the online masses parrot without contemplation seldom reflect the complexity of a situation. The conventional wisdom about winners and losers usually isn’t all that wise.
Think back to the deadly police incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore or the jailing of county clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky. Such explosive stories typically involve a chain of events where several people make bad decisions. Just one burst of wisdom could break the chain of foolishness, but no one finds the will or courage to exercise it.
As the stories play out, I often wonder what should have happened at every point along the way.
With that in mind, I’m debuting a new feature on this blog. As opportunities arise, I will compare what actually happened in a given story with “What Should Have Happened.” I won’t address the possible motives behind given decisions; I will simply explore how the various players could have changed the outcome by behaving differently.
I’m going to start with a topic that garnered significant attention last week – the arrest of Ahmed Mohammed, a 14-year-old in Texas, for taking a harmless, homemade “clock” to his school. Suspecting that it might be a hoax bomb, school officials called police, and police briefly detained Mohammed. The school suspended him a couple of days. Local news coverage fueled global outrage, much of it online with the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed.”
Here’s what should have happened:
Filed under: Education and Media and News & Politics and People
Homer Hickam, the enlightened redneck from Coalwood, W.Va., who rose to rocketry and writing fame, knows exactly how 14-year-old Texan Ahmed Mohammed feels. Both were falsely accused of mischief during their scientific adventures, Hickam for allegedly starting a forest fire with an errant rocket launch and Mohammed for presumably perpetrating a bomb hoax in his school.
Hickam empathized with Mohammed in a blog post that recalled not only Hickam’s own arrest but also some of the run-ins that other brainiacs have had with authoritarian school bureaucrats and police officers:
The other examples of nonconformist geniuses being suspended for their creative pursuits included a boy who made a cardboard mockup of a rocket from a potato chip canister and a girl on the honor roll whose science experiment produced a puff of smoke on school grounds.
Hickam gave the latter student and her twin sister scholarships to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and now he is offering the same thing to Mohammed. “Space Camp is one place where really bright kids can blossom. … I’m there often enough to see how youngsters, often picked on at school for being too bright, thrive when they find themselves with other students just like them.”
Filed under: Aviation and Education and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment
You may think it’s impossible to forget how to ride a bike, but this video proves otherwise. It is an amazing demonstration of how the brain works. I don’t quite understand it — but that makes it even more amazing.
A Facebook friend who watched the video said the bike made at least two changes in the brain’s how-to-ride-a-bike algorithm — the second being that the change in the handlebars forces the rider to put most of this weight back on the seat rather than leaning forward.
“If you lean into the turn with pressure on the bars, you will push the front wheel in the wrong direction,” he said. “So, it is not just about left-right; it’s about a bike that is in fact impossible to ride with a normal position. You have to have almost 100 percent of your weight on the seat.
That may well be, but it doesn’t make the experiment any less fascinating to me. The fact that every person who tries to ride the backward bike fails is the most impressive to me. If science class had been this interesting, I might have gravitated toward it as a field of study instead of journalism.
Filed under: Culture and Education and Human Interest and Video
Back in 1995 during the heyday of the war on Big Tobacco, anti-smoking groups created what they thought was a clever marketing campaign. They contrasted the powerful warning labels for cigarettes in other countries with the weaker labels here in the United States.
To illustrate the point, the clueless crusaders sent sample labels to every member of Congress and to journalists like me. There was just one problem: The labels were on actual packs of cigarettes. Activists who had dedicated their lives to kicking tobacco’s butts had become charity tobacco distributors for a day. Free smokes for everyone!
That irony came to mind today when I saw this “public service announcement” against guns:
“What the ad-makers are encouraging is highly illegal and invites danger,” The Daily Caller noted in describing the ad. “The boy would be guilty of weapons theft, illegal concealed carry and carrying a weapon on school property.”
That last point is the most outrageous when you think about the senseless zero-tolerance atmosphere that anti-gun zealots have inspired in public schools. Children can’t even use their fingers to simulate gun play or shape a pastry to look like a gun without being punished severely.
Who’s the ad wizard who thought it would be a good idea to tell students to sneak actual weapons, and presumably loaded ones, onto school property?!
That’s actually a rhetorical question. Her name is Rejina Sincic, and she is standing by her creation, to the point of calling people “cowards” for not sharing it. Thousands of YouTube viewers have voted the video down, compared with a handful who actually like it, yet she still can’t see the hypocrisy of it all.
That’s what happens when you’re blinded by a superiority complex.
Update, Dec. 27: The backlash against her video, including the Hit & Run blog calling it “the worst anti-gun PSA of all time,” prompted Sincic to make private her original upload, which I had embedded here, and block all comments about the new version, which is now embedded above.
Filed under: Advertising and Culture and Education and Hunting & Guns and Video
Comments: 1 Comment
West Virginia University has an excellent leader in E. Gordon Gee. He’s currently only on tap to fill the job for a couple of years, but he’s showing himself to be just the kind of administrator the university needs in a challenging time.
I was skeptical earlier this year of WVU’s decision to bring him back to a job he held early in his career. It seemed like WVU was looking backward instead of forward. Gee also has a history of running his mouth in ways that reflect poorly on him and the schools he has led.
But Gee has won me over. He still has the fun-loving character of a young man, as evidenced by his tweet when ESPN’s College Game Day visited Morgantown, W.Va., in October.
Yet he has exercised the kind of wisdom that only comes with age — and perhaps from having learned from his own mistakes. Gee understands that, in the words of King Solomon, there is “a time to tear apart and a time to sew together, a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
Filed under: Education and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
I remember the ancient time — back in my high school years — when nerds became the heroes of Hollywood plot lines. Movies and television shows celebrated the geeks who were scorned by the jocks, cheerleaders and other cool kids.
This helps explain why so many people embrace the “nerd” label these days. But as Charles Cooke explains at National Review Online, today’s nerd are pretenders. They have corrupted the word for political purposes, and they are the anti-type of Hollywood’s heroic dweebs, plagued by the very air of superiority the nerds in cinema resisted.
And who are the targets of their bigotry? Rednecks, of course. As Cooke says:
I was fortunate to find a happy medium in my youth. I was a “band baby” for two of my four years at Paden City High School and a “football animal” for one. I was never quite talented enough to get much playing time in any of the official school sports I tried, but I also wasn’t among the last people picked when I joined my peers for backyard football, pickup basketball and the like. I ranked among the top 10 percent of my small class but also opted to study to be an electrician at a vocational school rather than take college prep classes my junior and senior years.
I was part nerd and part jock. I enjoyed intellectual pursuits yet also appreciated the folksy wisdom of those who were educated at the University of Hard Knocks. In other words, I was — and am — an enlightened redneck. And that’s the worst nightmare of the Neil deGrasse Tysons of the world.
Filed under: Culture and Education and Entertainment and Hatin' On Rednecks and Movies and People and Rednecks and Sports and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment
Every evening on Fox News’ “The Five,” the co-hosts close the show with quick rants and raves about the “One More Thing” on their minds. I say a hearty “Amen!” to Greg Gutfeld’s tirade tonight because he mocked the phrase “outside the box.”
I hate that phrase so much that I once wrote a local newspaper column called “Inside the Box.” This is the essay that started my own weekly rants:
Filed under: Business and Culture and Education and Family and Food and Government and History and Media and People and Weather and West Virginia
|previous posts »|