My Free Floating Anxiety About the Future of our Children

It is easy to romanticize the past, both that past we knew and that we have only dreamt about. 

I’m reminded of Edward Arlington Robinson’s poem; Minever Cheevy"

“...Miniver mourned the ripe renown

   That made so many a name so fragrant;

He mourned Romance, now on the town,

   And Art, a vagrant...”

Not only do we romanticize the distant past, we misremember our own. 

Thinking about public school and school shootings, I remember my youth as idyllic, but was it really? 

We all lived in the ‘50s with the threat of nuclear annihilation.  Today’s school children live under the threat of personal annihilation.  I don’t think the two are comparable.

We could just crawl under our desk and be all right.  It was a pure fantasy, but we didn’t know that as school children.  We worried about clothing fads and our bully and why we didn’t get invited to Johnny’s birthday party.

Living under the threat of the door flying open and some misguided person ending your life on the spot is completely different.  There is not the threat of mutually assured destruction that kept leaders of nations from firing missiles that would end the world.  There was no illusion of being a winner or a hero, however misguided.  There would just be radioactive slag.

Somehow that threat was better than the one school kids live under now.


This morning, I thought of my daughter who sometimes trades her beautician services for goods – barters – and wondered who invented money.  (Stick with me this ends up relating to school.)  At times she has had phone calls and told the person on the other end that she is cash poor and can’t afford anymore trades. 

I didn’t teach her bartering; pathologists don’t have many skills that anyone would willingly want in exchange.  She learned bartering on the street.  “I’ll trade you two falafels for a tie dye.”  And, she has her Grandpa Charlie’s genes.  Charlie sold and traded and everyone left smiling.  It was a wonder to watch.

However, there is the problem of being cash poor.  Despite the assertions of Sue Lowden, the 2010 candidate for the Senate from Nevada, chickens don’t make good health insurance.  Ms. Lowden’s assertion was that the healthcare crisis could be solved by paying doctors with chickens. 

You might not have enough chickens, and a doctor can only eat so many chickens.  Too, the chief financial officer at the hospital might take a dim view of Ms. Lowden leaving chickens in his office in payment for her gallbladder surgery.


So, who invented currency?

I asked Mr. Google this question and was referred to a website; “Wonderopolis”.  There I found an answer.  I found that illustrious donors like Toyota and the Kellogg Foundation support its parent -, - but had a hard time finding who does their research or exactly who Families Learning is.

The answer at Wonderopolis was:

“No one knows for sure who first invented such money, but historians believe metal objects were first used as money as early as 5,000 B.C. Around 700 B.C., the Lydians became the first Western culture to make coins. Other countries and civilizations soon began to mint their own coins with specific values.”

Knowing too much my mind raced off to Lydia, the iron age kingdom located in what is now Western Turkey, Lydia the biblical “seller of purple” who was from Thyateira, south of modern day Istanbul and due west of Athens, Greece, and Lydian mode, which uses the fourth note of a major scale as the root tone.  (You will need to talk to a real musician for more information.)

Examples of Lydian mode:

There were no references at Wonderopolis.  Admittedly this site is for “K-12 and learners of all ages”, but it still seems that there should be some explanation.  Am I being unreasonable in asking for footnotes or at least a bibliography at the end?  There were embedded links, but they mostly went to where to leave your tip money.


This site seemed intended for home schoolers, and I’m a little leery of home schoolers.  It’s not that I don’t think a child can get a good academic education that way, but it all depends on their parents’ intent, know-how and dedication, and it does nothing for socialization.  I know a man whose daughter was home schooled and it was extremely successful in getting her into college and later a good career, but I also know a woman – the daughter of a now deceased friend - who smokes dope, drinks someone else’s wine every night, and, because she couldn’t be bothered to get her kids dressed for school in the morning took them out to be “home schooled”. 

She now has a bright teenage daughter with a fifth grade education (who has gotten a GED) bussing tables and a son with a second grade education who will wind up in prison or dead.

One of our mutual friends called Family Services about the situation years ago, and was told that DFAC didn’t have the resources to follow up on that; they were busy protecting children who were being physically abused.  I’m sure that they would deny being that honest.


My worry is that children who are being taught in school are not encouraged to think or ask where the information they are being given came from.

The kids’ worry is that the doors will fly open and some miscreant will open fire and kill them all.

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Comment by koshersalaami on February 22, 2018 at 7:16am

I think it makes political and moral sense to work on gun control, but only a tiny fraction of the population of schoolchildren will ever experience anything like that. It’s a little like worrying about plane crashes but feeling fine in a car, where you’re statistically way less safe. But ultimately that doesn’t matter because even though the odds are so long, so many kids will worry about the possibility. But you’re right, the dangers of not questioning sources of information is individually really likely and collectively way more dangerous than school shootings. That’s proven by the current Congress and President. 

In a lot of those examples I didn’t hear it. The Simpsons’ theme, where it never occurred to me to listen for that, is an excellent example of Lydian. Zeppelin’s Dancing Days, used in the video, is an example I give, as is West Side Story’s Something’s Coming. 

OK, technical explanation that any musician will get:
Modes are sort of predecessors to major and minor scales. Modes, like major and minor, are seven note per octave scales. You can put them in any key, but the easiest way of conceptualizing them is that any mode can be played on a piano using white keys only, like major and minor can, as long as you start on the right note. Sticking with white notes, if you start on C you get a major with all white notes and if you start on A you get a minor with all white notes. If you start on F, you get Lydian, F being the 4th degree of C Major, the major with all white notes. 

That’s how you find it, but what it actually is is a major scale with a sharp fourth. If you play an F Major scale it has a B flat, but an F Lydian uses a B natural. If you take any major scale and sharp the fourth you get a Lydian. That sharp fourth is the Lydian sound. 

How you write it in musical notation is to treat the mode like a major scale (it has a major third, so it is an altered major scale) and sharp the fourths individually wherever you find them. So, if you’re playing in F Lydian, the key signature has a B flat (the F Major key signature) and you just write naturals whenever you play a B. You might be tempted to just use the C Major key signature (no accidentals) so you don’t have to alter anything as you write, but that key signature tells the player that you’re either in C Major or A minor and you want the player to know from the outset where Home is. 

Did that make sense to you? If not, just think of Lydian as a major scale with a sharp fourth and forget the rest. By the way, major and minor scales are also modes: major is called Ionian and minor is called Aeolian, but neither mode was used much (if at all) in the period when music took place in modes rather than keys. 

Comment by koshersalaami on February 22, 2018 at 7:19am

Your “Trump is an excellent conduit for change” is kind of what my last post was about. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on February 22, 2018 at 7:29am

Kosh, I followed that. Yxollidian seems to be used a lot, but I am not sure why. It seems to overlay the A blues scale.

Comment by Rodney Roe on February 22, 2018 at 7:31am

FM I never thought of Trump as a blessing in disguise. Good point.

Comment by koshersalaami on February 22, 2018 at 7:48am

Mixolydian is used because it’s a major scale with a flat seventh, and blues uses the flat seventh. 

What the Hell, more theory, though you may know parts of this already:
Ever wonder why a major chord with a minor seventh is called a Dominant Seventh? There are three major triads in any given key signature without alterations. Assuming we’re in a major key, they are: Root, one, called Tonic; the fourth, called the Sub-Dominant; and the fifth, called Dominant. If you add a seventh to each of them without any alterations, just staying in the key signature, at tonic you get a major chord with a major seventh, at sub-dominant you also get a major chord with a major seventh, but at dominant you get a major chord with a minor seventh. In traditional music, when you heard that dominant seventh chord, it was usually going to resolve to tonic. Classic 5 - 1 resolution (which, incidentally, Frank Zappa hated). 

But blues tonality is different. In blues, instead of always resolving from a dominant seventh, you resolve To it. That sound is tonic. A dominant seven is your One chord. Looked at modally, that happens in Mixolydian. Which makes complete sense: Mixolydian is on the fifth degree of major, putting it in the same tonality as Dominant, which is also on the fifth degree of major but, unlike the mode, is defined as Not One but Five, whereas Mixolydian is its own One. 

Comment by koshersalaami on February 22, 2018 at 8:16am

The fact that Lapierre is a total creep should be as surprising as Rush Limbaugh or Anne Coulter being total creeps. 

Comment by Rosigami on February 22, 2018 at 8:57am

Interesting discussion. The music stuff is always fascinating. 

I do want to say something about schooling/homeschooling. I think your examples are misleading. I've taught in public and private elementary and secondary schools for most of my adult life. I've seen PLENTY of ne'er-do-well parents and kids in every variety of iteration. (good kids/bad parents,  bad kids/good parents, bad kids/bad parents...) 

On Long Island, kids in most of the places I taught had access to a lot of services to help with educational and emotional issues. None of which makes kids any smarter or better-adjusted, imho, because at least some of the time the problems are simply not fixable, and you can't go into peoples' homes and fix peoples' intelligence or their parenting skills or economic conditions etc.

Here in Washington, even federally mandated services are often extremely limited by the amounts of money and resources districts have available to them. Kids who need reading services, for instance, are often coached during school hours by classroom volunteers consisting of a few retirees of stay-at-home moms. 

Kids with behavioral issues are sometimes strongly advised to be medicated for easier handling or pushed to be taken out of school and home schooled. 

And parents do it. My own district (and many in my area) have programs in place for home school education from elementary through high school, including online classes and support groups for parents. 

In my personal experience as an art teacher, I have a small studio where I hold art classes after school, and I'm busy. (Another thing many Washington schools don't provide is formal art classes. Kids do get music class, but nothing like what kids in NY get) 

I hold a weekday morning class specifically for homeschoolers. I've done it for years. Most of the kids seem just like any other school kids.
My current class, though, has some issues One of the kids has a brain injury that makes it impossible for the local district to deal with him. He is the sweetest kid, and he loves art. Two of the kids are siblings that seem to me to be extremely delayed and again, wouldn't function at their grade level in an institutionalized school setting. Their mom seems a little out of her depth but also seems very diligent about trying to educate them. I don't see that a teacher with 30 other kids in the room would be able to do any better. These two seem unable to retain any information and I don't think regular school would be able to fix that. The fourth kid seems fairly bright and well-adjusted.

Socialization does not seem to be an real issue. They all participate in sports and church activities give them time with other children on a regular basis. 

I've also tutored some homeschool kids in academic subjects over the years (I'm certified as an elementary school teacher in Washington as well) and don't see my students as any different from their schooled peers. Kids have difficulty with math and language arts no matter where/how they are being taught. 

Comment by Steel Breeze on February 22, 2018 at 9:14am

i remember in the 70s when plane hijacking became almost 'normal'....then the govt announced that armed air marshals would be assigned to random flights and bam,no more planes full of defenseless folk.....hijacking was no longer so popular.....

Comment by koshersalaami on February 22, 2018 at 10:56am

That’s exactly what they can’t do.

Comment by J.P. Hart on February 22, 2018 at 5:03pm

RR you sd [sic} 'We all lived in the ‘50s with the threat of nuclear annihilation. Today’s school children live under the threat of personal annihilation. I don’t think the two are comparable.'
Apparently this conversation attempts to refine paranoia between 'micro' and 'macro'.

Statistically odds of WWDestruction have not improved.
True, specifically in the U.S.A., schools, malls, churches, concerts public assembly et alli have been increasingly stalked and targeted. True, sales of WMD accelerate whenever horrific murder befalls our most vulnerable.
Hey but guess what?
We are not afraid!
For a free people with limitless resource we sure have not gotten better defending against evil. Perhaps the entire matter is rigged.
And if that is the fear, it's too late. Don't go around tonight.
Holy Bay of Pigs!


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