Free the Frozen People!


After seeing this sign in a local grocery store, I carefully searched the entire frozen food section, but I could find neither the frozen Mexican, nor the frozen Asian. Since they were gone, but the sign indicates they were there at one point, I concluded that the experiment was over, and hoped they had thawed out both experimental test subjects, found them still healthy after a few days in cryogenic suspended animation, and sent them home, each with a fat check to compensate them for the huge risk they just took.

However, even with compensation and signed consent forms, I still have certain ethical reservations about scientists performing this sort of experiment on actual human beings. Why not freeze, thaw, refreeze, and rethaw mice, instead? Is PETA really that scary?

Are they still doing these experiments, in my town or elsewhere? If so . . . free the frozen people!

There is one last thing about this whole thing which I just can’t figure out, though, and that’s this: why were they storing their frozen, experimental, human test subjects in the middle of a central Arkansas grocery store in the first place?

Welcome to Arkansas: The Tornado State

arkansas the tornado stateWe’re under a tornado watch here, for approximately the thousandth time in my life. Seeing a “tornado watch” alert is about as rare here as seeing a Walmart.

Do wake me up if there’s a tornado warning, though, please.

A Serious Government Reform Proposal for the State of Arkansas

News item ( giant Slip-‘n’-Slide may be coming to downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. Here’s a photo from the news story.


To reform state government, I think we should have this event come here every time the state legislature is in session, and have it on the capitol grounds, right here in Little Rock. Why? That’s simple: if Arkansas lawmakers spent each session on a Slip-‘n’-Slide, they’d do a lot less harm.

Public Education in Arkansas Is Under Attack — By Our Own State Legislature!


For details on the efforts of the majority of the Arkansas State Legislature to ruin public schools in Arkansas, please watch this music video:

The AEA (Arkansas Education Association) is doing everything they can to resist this flood of anti-education legislation. If you are eligible for membership in the AEA, and join, that will help with these efforts — for the strength of the AEA grows as our number of members increases. If you work in an Arkansas public school, you can join. Students can join also, and so can those who have retired from work in the field. For information on how to join, please click here.

The Arkansas Education Association, or AEA: How (and Why) to Join


The Arkansas Education Association is the oldest, largest, most effective, and most well-established professional organization (and union) for educators in Arkansas. I’ve been a member for years, and will explain why, below. First, though, here are three ways to join:

  1. A local affiliate of the AEA exists in every school district in Arkansas. My local is called PACT, the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers. In the nearby Little Rock School District, the local AEA affiliate is the LREA: the Little Rock Education Association. If you know members at your local, ask them to put you in touch with the teacher at your school who serves as the Representative, or “Rep,” for your school. You can then simply ask your Rep for a membership form, fill it out, and return it to them. The Rep will take it from there.
  2. A second way to join is through the AEA’s website, at This involves filling out and printing a paper form, and then mailing it to the AEA’s office in Little Rock, using the address at that website.
  3. There’s also a third way, and it doesn’t require paper forms, nor postage stamps. You can join our national organization, the NEA, through their website, at, and this will automatically make you a member of your state and local affiliate at the same time. Also, this works for educators and support staff in other American states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well — unlike items #1 and 2 above.

So . . . why join these affiliated local, state, and national organizations? Well, first, let me give you some idea what it costs to be a member. I pay dues of $23.08, by paycheck deduction, twice a month, and that’s the total of my NEA, AEA, and PACT dues. (This amount will vary in other school districts, since each local sets their own dues.) In return, I have a network of people dedicated to (1) protecting my rights as a teacher, everywhere from my own classroom to Capitol Hill, (2) helping me develop professionally as a teacher (through collaboration with an extensive network of colleagues, as well as formal, for-credit Professional Development opportunities), and (3) being ready to come to my legal defense, should I need such assistance.

It is important to remember that a teacher can do absolutely nothing wrong, and still end up in a situation where such assistance is needed — to defend yourself against a false accusation, for example. I’ve been falsely accused of unethical conduct, via an anonymous complaint, in the past; it isn’t a fun situation. Because I was already a PACT/AEA/NEA member, help was provided at no extra cost, and my name was fully cleared. Had I not been a member, I might have had to hire an attorney in that situation — if affording one was possible, but it wasn’t. Few teachers have tens of thousands of dollars on hand to privately hire an attorney, should such a need arise in connection with their jobs, and I was no exception — but union membership takes care of that, if (and only if) you are already a member when trouble strikes. If I consider the dues I pay, vs. what attorneys charge when hired by individuals, I realize the truth: union dues are one of the best bargains available — anywhere.

It is a sad reality that some (not all, but some) administrators have a nasty habit of bullying teachers. In fact, such bullying was exactly what drove me to join PACT/AEA/NEA in the first place. The bullying continued after I joined, so I then reported it to my local’s contacts, and the organization intervened to protect me — successfully. Later, I witnessed similar bullying, of my fellow teachers, by a different administrator, and that’s what prompted my move from being a dues-paying union member to being a much more active union member, and a building Representative as well. In that role, I had the privilege of intervening personally, to do my best to stop such adult-on-adult bullying, and enlisted the help of others, whenever such help was needed. Again, such efforts were successful, although our own confidentiality rules do not allow me to describe the specifics, for we carefully protect the privacy of our members. (Important side note: all of this bullying described above happened in schools other than the school where I currently teach. This is not a coincidence; I am at my current school on purpose, so that I can work with good administrators every day. When teachers are well-treated, as is the norm at my current school, we can do a much better job focusing on, and meeting, the educational needs of our students.)

This is what union members do: we help each other. We protect each other. We support each other. Until the miraculous day when every single person in management and administration suddenly begins behaving ethically, 100% of the time, unions will be needed, and our work will continue to be important. We protect the working environment in schools — and that same working environment is the learning environment for America’s children.

There are other, more dollars-and-cents-oriented reasons to join, as well. For example, through the NEA, I have a quarter-million-dollar life insurance policy which costs me only $32.73 per month — an excellent price. Shopping discounts exist in abundance. There even exist benefits which I haven’t even used yet, simply because there are so many.

Of all the benefits of membership, there is one, above all others, which makes the argument for membership most compelling to me, and that is related to the legal right of representation. For AEA members, the statement below is both vital, and true:


“An employee shall be entitled to and shall be offered the opportunity to have a witness or representative of the employee’s choice present during any disciplinary or grievance matter with any administrator.” This is an Arkansas state law (A.C.A. 6-17-210). Any time an administrator in my district breaks this law, by denying any PACT or PASS member’s request for representation, it is imperative that union leaders be informed of this illegal act, without delay. (One way to reach them is by calling the PACT/PASS office, at 501-374-4955, during business hours.) PACT is our teachers’ union, and PASS is our union for support staff. We work together, which is as it should be. (Those AEA members in other locals, in similar situations, should contact the corresponding leaders of their own locals.)

Union members have representation provided to them upon request, whenever the need for it exists, at no extra cost — for our dues, and the dues of our colleagues, have already paid for it. Those who are not members, by contrast, are at the mercy of the market to find representation, on their own — with no well-organized, powerful organization backing them up, as we have as AEA members. In my opinion, this seals the deal — if you work in an Arkansas school, you can’t afford not to join the AEA, for the benefit of representation, alone. As for the numerous other benefits, they simply make membership an even sweeter deal.

One last thing: should anyone who tries to join the AEA encounter any difficulties doing so, feel free to ask for my personal help, in a comment to this post — and I promise to make certain you get the help you need.

My Early Play with Informal Numbers, Such as Umpteen: A Look at Early Development of a Special Interest in a Young Person with Asperger’s


As a young child (before I started school), my strong interest in mathematics was always there. No one knew I had Asperger’s at that time, but it is clear to me now, in retrospect, that I was a young “Aspie,” in the early stages of the development of a special interest.

I cannot remember a time without my math-fascination, to the point where I speculate that I was motivated to learn to talk, read, and write English simply to bring more of the mathematics in my head into forms which I could express, and also to gain the ability to research forms of mathematics, by reading about them, which were new to me: negative numbers, fractions, names for extremely large numbers, and so on. I would devour one concept, internalize it, so it could not be forgotten, and quickly move on to my next mathematical “snack.” The shift to geometry-specialization took many years longer; at first, my special interest was simply mathematics in general, to the extent that I could understand it.

I was too young, then, to even understand the difference between actual numbers, and informal numbers I heard others use in conversation, such as zillion, jillion, and especially umpteen, and, armed with this lack of understanding, I endeavored to figure out the properties of these informal numbers. Zillion and jillion were uncountably large: that much seemed clear, although I could never figure out which one was larger. Umpteen, however, seemed more accessible, due to the “-teen” prefix. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me to simplify umpteen to a more fundamental informal number, “ump,” simply by subtracting ten from umpteen, following the pattern I had noticed which connects thirteen to three, seventeen to seven, and so on. This led to the following:

1ϒ – 10 = ϒ (umpteen minus ten equals ump)

I wasn’t using upsilon as a symbol for the informal number “ump” at that age. Rather, I simply needed a symbol, today, to write this blog-post, so I chose one. The capital Greek letter upsilon seems like a good pick. I’m using it more like a digit, here, rather than a variable — although, when I first reasoned this out, over forty years ago, I had not yet learned to distinguish between digits, variables, and numbers, at least not using other peoples’ terms.

Occasionally, I would hear people use ump-based informal numbers (I grew up in Arkansas, you see) which clearly seemed larger than umpteen. One such “number” I heard was, of all things, “umpty-ump.” Well, just how large is umpty-ump? I reasoned that it had to be umpteen minus ten, with this difference then multiplied by eleven.

1ϒ – 10 = ϒ (umpteen minus ten equals ump)

10(ϒ) = ϒ0 (ten times ump equals umpty)

ϒ0 + ϒ = ϒϒ (umpty plus ump equals umpty-ump)

Factoring ump out of the third equation above yields the following:

ϒ(10 + 1) = ϒ(11)

Next, ump cancels on both sides, leaving the following, which is known to be true without the involvement of informal numbers:

10 + 1 = 11

Having figured this out, I would then explain it, at great length, to anyone who didn’t make their escape quickly enough. It never occurred to me, at that age, that there actually are people who do not share my intense interest in mathematics. (Confession: I still do not understand the reason for the shockingly small amount of interest, in mathematics, found in the minds of most people. Why doesn’t everyone find math fascinating, since, well, it is fascinating?)

What I didn’t yet realize is that I was actually figuring out important concepts, with this self-motivated mathematical play: place value in base-ten, doing calculations in my head, some basic algebra, and, of course, the fact that playing with numbers is ridiculously fun. (That last one is a fact, by the way — just in case there is any doubt.)

I did not distinguish play from work at that age, and considered any interruption absolutely unacceptable. This is what I would typically say, if anyone, including my parents, disturbed me while I was working these things out, but was not yet ready to discuss them: “I’m BUSY!”

Everyone who knew me then, I am guessing, remembers me shouting this, as often as I found it necessary.

Bumper Sticker Design for Arkansas Ice Storms

arkansas bumper sticker

I need two of these for my car — one for the rear bumper, and one for the front. I drive, on icy roads, about as well as the average Arkansan. This means I am proficient at sliding into ditches. It also means that, if our current weather forecast proves to be accurate, I’ll be staying home for at least the next 42 hours.

Rampant Islamophobia At “The Gun Cave” — an Indoor Firing Range in Hot Springs, Arkansas, With an Owner Who Wants Her Range to Be A “Muslim Free Zone”


When I heard there was a indoor firing range in Hot Springs, Arkansas, only an hour away from me, and that this establishment doesn’t want Muslims there, I looked up their phone number, 1-501-767-9944, and called them. Before accusing them of Islamophobia, and threatening to urge others to boycott the place, I wanted to know if they had changed their policy to something more, well, sane.

The woman I spoke to corrected me, by telling me that her establishment was not banning Muslims, but simply making it known, on the Internet, that Muslims are not welcome there. She asked me, rather than reading all the stuff on the Internet written against her position, to read her statement at — and I agreed to do so. Why not read her statement first? I saw no reason not to.

When I read it, I found one of the most shockingly ignorant pieces of writing on the subject of Islam which I have ever encountered. Just for starters, she uses the word “Islamist” in place of the word “Muslim,” an error I have never seen before, even though I have read plenty of disgusting anti-Islamic material. The two words don’t even have definitions which are close to each other!

Here’s a particularly appalling excerpt from the site:  “I view Islam as a theocracy, not a religion. Islam is the union of political, legal, and religious ideologies. In other words, law, religion and state are forged together to form what Muslims refer to as ‘The Nation of Islam.'” (Clearly, even though she claims to have read the Qur’an in its entirety, she has not heard of such things as the long, bloody Iran-Iraq War, fought between two majority-Muslim nations, only one of which — Iran — is, or was then, a theocracy.)

In actuality, many real Muslims (and well-educated non-Muslims, also) know that the Nation of Islam (or NOI, as I call it, for clarity) is a small, non-Islamic religion founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1930 — and that there is absolutely no connection, other than a similarity in the name, between the religion called Islam, which originated in the Middle East, and the very different religion practiced by the NOI. You can find the original religion called Islam (the real one) described right here — — on Wikipedia, which is an objective source, precisely because anyone can edit it. If, on the other hand, you look at Wikipedia’s corresponding article on the Nation of Islam — at — you’ll see that Islam, and the NOI, have nothing in common except for a proper noun appropriated, without justification, from a centuries-old religion. The beliefs and practices of Islam, and the NOI, are no more alike than those of, say, Christians and Hindus.

I won’t try to catalog the numerous other mistakes in the post on her website, simply because they are so plentiful, but I do encourage you to look at this appalling website for yourself — just as the woman I spoke to on the phone asked me to do. If nothing else, the numerous writing errors (for example, “Muslims” should always be capitalized, and the writer really needs to use spell-check) should convince you that this place is a hotbed of ignorance.

This place deserves to be boycotted, permanently. They also deserve to go out of business, as all bigots should. They deserve to be “called out” for their ignorance, also, and that’s exactly what I am doing in this blog-post.

Let the boycott begin! Also, please call these people, and tell them what you think of their incredibly misinformed position. Their phone number, again, is 1-501-767-9944. Places like this are not helping the world become what it needs to be — a world where Christians, Muslims, those of other faiths, and the non-religious can coexist peacefully.

[Image credit:  I found the “empty head” image above, online, at — and believe it to be legal to repost this image. If I am mistaken, however, I will remove it, or pay reasonable royalties, at the request of the image’s owner.]

The Ill-Fated Quest for “Genesis”


In the “too funny to be made up” category, I recently had someone ask me for help, because he could not find “Genesis” in the paperback New Testament he was reading. I referred him to the complete Bible on the bookshelf, told him to look in the front, and somehow didn’t laugh until he was out of the room, but this took extreme effort.