Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Michigan Mess

There are so many things wrong with college football that it's hard to keep track of them on a regular basis. That's basically why I've stopped paying intense attention to it; I used to be in front of the television much of Saturday afternoons during the autumn, but it's been a long time since I watched a college football game beginning to end. But I still know enough about it to have an idea of what's going on within it, and there have been a few developments in the last couple of months that are very noteworthy and show that perhaps some changes might be coming. The NCAA lost in court twice in recent months, in the O'Bannon case and in the Northwestern player union case; although both are going to be appealed for years to come, at least the precedent has been set that business as usual is both wrong and illegal.
Which simply codifies what has been common knowledge for some time: in a nation full of corporate parasites that suck the blood and life out of those that do the grunt work, the NCAA is arguably the worst of them all. There is no reasonable justification for the way that the NCAA treats its "student-athletes" in the two major money-making sports, football and men's basketball, and football is worse than basketball because the physical cost of playing the sport is so much higher and the numbers of young men affected are a lot greater. What makes the situation so infuriating is the sheer level of the hypocrisy that is apparent with every public utterance, every exploitative practice. But a secondary gallstone has been the people that have risen to the top of not only the NCAA itself, but the type of person that has risen to prominence, both as coaches and as administrators, at the colleges themselves. This is not going to be a post detailing every asshole in major college football; I could be here all morning only listing names. Suffice it to say that any enterprise where someone like Nick Saban is the top of the shelf is seriously and terminally morally challenged.
But nowhere has the rot that is modern college football become more starkly apparent than at the University of Michigan. Michigan has a very long and storied history as one of the nation's premier football powers, and it also is one of the better academic institutions that comprise major college football, as well. Up until a few years ago, Michigan was still enjoying its historic levels of success on and off the field. Major slippage first started becoming apparent around 2008, when the school hired, in a rather messy and ugly way, Rich Rodriguez to be the football coach. The problem was that Rodriguez was still coaching West Virginia when he was hired, and then Rodriguez was something less than successful during his three years there, leading to his firing after the 2010 season.
The man that fired him was the recently hired athletic director, Dave Brandon. And, not to beat around the bush, Dave Brandon is symptomatic of everything that is wrong in 2014 America. He is a former CEO of Domino's Pizza, and he has made his money and his reputation in corporate America during the last thirty years. And as such, his emphasis is overwhelmingly on two ephemeral and morally untenable factors: maximization of revenue and image. In four short years, Brandon has become infamous around Michigan for trying to make a buck off pretty much everything associated with Michigan, basically shitting all over Michigan alumni, fans, and traditions in the process. Brandon is also, according to virtually everyone that has come into contact with him, obsessed with marketing and the image of Michigan, and that image is tied in inextricably with winning at all costs, a mindset that led directly to this weekend's fiasco.
Michigan, after a sort of revival in recent season, is having perhaps its worst season in memory so far this year. Last week, in an effort to turn the season around, coach Brady Hoke, Rodriguez' successor who increasingly looks out of his element, yanked the starting quarterback in favor of the backup. The backup had an awful game, and Michigan, favored over Minnesota by nearly two touchdowns, got its head handed to it. Literally, in the quarterback's case; he got his bell rung  badly on a fourth-quarter play and clearly had a head injury. It took two plays before the coaches removed him, and then, incredibly, Hoke and his staff sent him back into the game.
The quarterback, Shane Morris, has a concussion, which got the media's attention because of the lawsuits that former players filed against both the NFL and the NCAA recently noting the long-term damage done to players because of concussions. But what has been particularly distasteful has been the series of excuses put forth by Hoke and his staff as to why Morris was put back in the game. Hoke has claimed that no one on the Michigan staff saw Morris was hit in the head, and then, after he made it to the sideline, that Morris was cleared by the doctor to return. The real story is, apparently, that the two backup quarterbacks for the game could not find their helmets and Hoke didn't want to use a timeout to stop the game.
Didn't want to use a timeout to stop a game that Michigan was losing by 16 points with about twelve minutes left to play.
There is no excuse for this level of callousness and moral gangrene. If there was ever an indication of how those running college football feel about the young men that actually play the game, this is it. They are gladiators, chattel, wood to be fed into the chipper. And as reprehensible as Hoke's actions were, the ultimate responsibility here is Brandon's. Brandon has created the atmosphere where image and "the product" mean everything, where wins and losses are (much) more important than basic player safety, and where justifying the ethically unjustifiable is par for the course. With every passing day, with every nonsense and bullshit response, it is becoming clear that Hoke is going to be unemployed soon; Michigan is already having a terrible season, and this episode may well lead to a player revolt. What is less certain, but certainly ought to happen, is that Brandon needs to be fired posthaste as well. The alumni and fan base already hate him, and it has become clear that his Domino's model is ill-suited for his current position. As poor shape as Michigan was in on the field in 2010, it's even worse now, and there has been no indication that Brandon has any idea of what he's doing. And even if he did, someone as morally empty and valueless as he is should not be in charge of a tadpole puddle, much less a major American university.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. But I'm going to wager that Brandon blames Hoke and keeps his job a while longer. And maybe, in the long run, it is better that he does, because then the entire tottering edifice of the NCAA may come crashing down that much sooner.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review: THE THING WITH FEATHERS

I love books like Noah Strycker's The Thing With Feathers. I'm not, in real life, a fan of birds, at all. I think they're completely alien in the flesh, what's left of dinosaurs. But this book looks at aspects of different birds of the world and relates those characteristics to very human traits, and these little essays make for an incredibly interesting book--and perhaps a new appraisal of birds. A few tidbits from this volume: the homing abilities of pigeons, the incredible flocking abilities of starlings, the ferocity of hummingbirds, penguins and their fears, the incredible memorization abilities of nutcrackers, and the ability of magpies to recognize themselves in a mirror. There are also a bunch of human-related bits of information that are fascinating; I had no idea that there was a Memory Contest every year that pays the winner thousands of dollars, did you?
And all interesting information aside, I think the ultimate conclusion of this book is that, for better or worse, it is impossible to read this book without thinking that it is a complete, total vindication of the evolution of species. Not that the essential truth of evolution is questioned by anyone with a functional front cortex, but these are the kinds of arguments that those fighting yahoo nitwits on school boards across the nations should be marshaling and challenging the creationists to explain with any sort of reasoning other than "I choose to believe otherwise." The fact that a life form as different from us as birds exhibits some basic similarities to us on emotional, not just cognitive, levels in some ways is a profound argument that evolution from a distant common ancestor is absolute truth. The fear shown by penguins to get in the water is a perfect example. If a group of human beings were perched on the edge of an ice shelf ready to go in the water, and there was a good chance a great white shark or a crocodile was lurking just below the surface or under the ice--would anyone want to go in first? As often happens with penguins, would someone jostle someone else into the water? Penguins do this because of leopard seals, seals whose primary food is penguins; it is a perfectly obvious example of emotion, and emotions are supposed to be an nearly exclusively human province. Certainly, birds aren't often thought to have any.
This is one of those excellent books that one will never see at Barnes and Noble but will pick up every time at a library. It's one of the more interesting reads I've had this year.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How Hard Can This Be?

The Minnesota Vikings, during the time frame when Mike Tice and Brad Childress were their head coaches, had a pretty good team. But until 2009, they never won more than nine games in a season, and never got out of the wild-card round, for one reason and one reason only; they could not identify and/or develop a quarterback that was actually deserving to be a starter in the National Football League. In 2009, the Vikings rolled the dice and signed the ancient Brett Favre to play the position. Favre was not as good as he was in the glory years at Green Bay, but for one season, he had enough left to make the team the best team in the league, losing the NFC Championship game in excruciating fashion. The following year, he played like a 40YO, the team around him got old, and the Vikings descended to the basement of the league. They then wasted the last three years of Adrian Peterson's career playing Joe Webb, Christian Ponder, and Matt Cassel at quarterback, and even though Teddy Bridgewater looked good playing yesterday, the team still has not truly turned the corner or played up to the potential of its parts for well over a decade now, wasting the careers of Peterson, (the prime of) Randy Moss, Jared Allen, and Matt Birk, perennial All-Pros all  because they could not get even adequate play under center on a consistent basis.
But the quarterback carousel in Minnesota looks positively golden compared to what the last fifteen years have looked like in Buffalo. The last Buffalo Bill playoff game was the Music City Miracle; the Bills have not made the playoffs in the 21st century. The quarterback in that game for the Bills was Doug Flutie, who is six months older than I am. Since that game, the following men have started games for the Bills under center: Rob Johnson, Alex Van Pelt, Drew Bledsoe, J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Brohm, E.J. Manuel, Thad Lewis, and Jeff Tuel. If you've never heard of most of these guys, there's a reason why: with the exception of Bledsoe, a borderline Hall of Fame player that came to Buffalo because Tom Brady pushed him out of a job in New England and gave the Bills three years of reasonably competent play, few of these guys could even stick around as backups on other teams. The second best player on this list is probably Fitzpatrick, who has shown enough to at least start games for three other terminally bedraggled franchises, and, of course, Fitzpatrick was the starting quarterback yesterday in the Bills game--for the Texans, who won the game.
The Bills starting quarterback at the moment is Manuel, who is in his second season. Manuel showed a few--not a lot, but a few--flashes of competence as a rookie, but looks absolutely lost this year, and seriously afraid to throw the ball more than a few yards down the field. Opposing teams are starting to pick up on this, and yesterday's game turned when JJ Watt jumped into a passing lane for a quick out and gave the Texans a Pick Six. The Bills were in the red zone at the time, after Fitzpatrick had been intercepted on the second half's first play; instead of reestablishing a ten-point lead or at least getting a field goal, they were suddenly losing, and the game got worse from there. This is about the sixtieth time this particular scenario has happened in the last fifteen years, by the way.
The Bills have talented players all over the field. They have wide receivers that can play down the field. They have not one, but two excellent running backs (it's fair to wonder just how good Fred Jackson's career would have been on a good team). They have one of the best defensive lines in football, a competent secondary, and a couple of good linebackers. The offensive line isn't half-bad. If this team had a good quarterback, it's a playoff team, especially in the division it plays in. But the offal they keep putting under center is killing them. I mean, Geno Smith and Ryan Tannehill are better than Manuel. If Michael Vick was quarterbacking this team, they would win eleven games. If any reasonably competent quarterback was playing they would at least break .500.
But this is a full decade and a half of startling incompetence in the front office;the failure to identify a professional quarterback prospect kills this team year after year after sickening year. For God's sake, if the Bills had picked up Tim Tebow three years ago, they'd be in better shape than they are now. Manuel's pro prospects look no brighter than the guy that he replaced at Florida State, Christian Ponder, who went from last year's starter to third string in Minnesota this season (and who, in a cruel twist of fate for Viking fans, is likely to be starting when the Vikings play Thursday night; Bridgewater got hurt at the end of the game yesterday, and Cassel is out for the season after an injury, too).
The Bills don't win games because they consistently cannot get the ball in the air more than ten yards down the field. A team with Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Scott Chandler as its primary receivers should not have this problem. Between those three, and the combination of CJ Spiller (does it mean anything that the Bills seem to lead the league in players whose first names are initials?) and the Infredible Hulk, this ought to be a good offense. The Vikings in 2009 were the best team in the league with a decent quarterback playing for them. It's not unreasonable to think that the Bills could be, too, if only someone competent could be found under center. Shit, Flutie would do better than the last few guys that have played there, and he's nearly 52 years old.
The Bills signed Kyle Orton to a contract at the end of training camp. Orton is no great shakes, and is not going to take the Bills to a Super Bowl. But Orton has been reasonably competent--not great, but competent--for three other teams over his career. At least he can throw the ball twenty yards down the field more than once a game. Yes, Manuel's career is only twenty games old, but he has shown zero this year that would indicate that he is going to be anything more than he is right now.
And what he is right now is the latest in a series of awful Bills quarterbacks. This team is torture to root for. Trent Edwards, come home; all is forgiven.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Nation of Debt Slaves

My generation has born the brunt, thus far, of the seismic redistribution upward of income in this country since the beginning of the Reagan Administration thirty-four years ago. But while few of us have bettered the station we started from, and few of us are able to look forward to a retirement where we are financially secure, most of us have been able to live adult lives without a gigantic, crushing burden of spiraling debt afflicting us for the entire span. That luxury, sadly, is not going to be available to our children's generation. Just in the last few days, I have come across:

  • My own daughter, valedictorian of her graduating class, attending one of the best universities in the nation, winner of nearly forty thousand dollars in scholarship money as a high school senior, already struggling with mountains of student debt incurred in the last year, and with veterinary school coming after her (early) graduation, there is a very real possibility that she will owe several hundred thousand dollars in student loans before she ever starts practicing. 
  • My friend's son, also a very high academic achiever, is now a senior in college and has accumulated nearly six figures in student loan debt despite a work study placement for nearly a calendar year in Greene, which meant he could live at his parent's home instead of on campus.
  • My daughter's aunt's son, who delayed going to college for a year because of lack of funds, and had to transfer to the local community college after a year at a SUNY school because he was already swimming in loan debt. 
  • A former client from my job that is already, three semesters from graduation, on the hook for nearly a hundred grand in student loans.
  • Another kid of an acquaintance of mine, who took my money when I was at Price Chopper the other day, working 24 hours a week in addition to going to community college because the loan spigot was already overflowing.
  • An adult friend of mine, making it to college for the first time in her early thirties, with an amount of debt more than her income in any one year in her life up to this point accrued in her second semester of school. 
I am sure that there are more; these are just those that have crossed my radar in the last couple of weeks. 
I am almost embarrassed to talk about my own college experience to those trying to go today. Between TAP, Pell Grants, Regents, and a couple of other scholarships, I actually took in more money in aid than I spent to go to college until I was a first semester senior. I went to a state school, Geneseo, which obviously cost less than someplace like the University of Scranton or the University of Rochester like some of the people outlined above. But when I was deciding where to attend college and Cornell was one of the places that was possible, I don't remember the sums being bandied about being anywhere near half what some of these numbers today are. To be sure, I would have needed whatever aid Cornell gives football players, or gave, to have attended there (and they decided not to), but I would not have left college after four years with a debt load of two or even three hundred thousand dollars. Not even close. 
What we are actually doing to ourselves, as a society, is returning to the societal composition of the pre-New Deal years--when only the already-wealthy will be able to afford to go to college, regardless of ability, and those that struggle to put themselves through it that have a surplus of talent and ability will be few and far between--and a huge minority in any places that matter. And that's a best-case scenario; the worst-case is that ten or twenty years down the road, there is a mass default of those owing much more than they can ever pay back. And I'm not sure what's going to happen then, because those that are owed the money have never, in the history of mankind, just forgot and forgave the debt. A big part of nearly every cataclysmic civil war in every society that ever has been, clear back to classical Athens, has been over the issue of massive debt, with one faction advocating widespread cancellation of debt and the forces holding the debt determined to maintain control and leverage at all costs--all costs. 
We are already at a place where this is distinctly possible. Most of my generation is much more in debt to credit card companies, mortgage companies, child support obligations, etc. than our parents' generation ever was. Our children are going to be even more indebted, and we're still going to owe. If the housing bubble experience taught us anything, it's that those owed the debt will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to collect, and laws, never mind common decency, are flimsy inconveniences ignored without consequence to get what they are owed and then some on top of it. At some point, there will be a tipping point regardless of other factors. But with a looming catastrophe due to the steadfast refusal to adapt to climate change also coming into play--in thirty to fifty years, large sections of this country are going to be too hot, too dry, or both to support the populations that they currently support; those people have to move somewhere, and there aren't any great reserves of unoccupied land anywhere--, this is going to get ugly. 
I've thought for a long time that my daughter is unlikely to live as long as my mother has. I tend to be a little more sanguine about the prospect of long-term debt for my children, because I really think that we cannot maintain the course we are on for a whole lot longer. I accepted a long time ago that there is no viable retirement plan for me; I have enough debt that I cannot realistically hope to stop working voluntarily pretty much until I die. I do not intend to be a burden to my children; I have intellectually already decided that I will either take my own life when I am not able to support myself, or I will go down swinging--I have ideas but I have no wish to become acquainted with the security apparatus of this country just yet. Emotionally, I'm not quite in total acceptance of that, and spiritually, faith in God and that things will work out if I do the right thing consistently has gotten me further than I thought possible when I was starting at a debris field of Hiroshima proportions in late 1998. But that I am even thinking along these lines is a damning indictment of just how far down the slope we have slid during my lifetime. It was unthinkable in 1981, when I graduated high school, that the widespread affluence of society at that time would not continue to be the norm. 
Part of the foundation of the widespread affluence was higher education for a substantial portion of the population. It was the ticket, at that time, to a better place, a better station in life. Today, it as become as much a ball and chain tying the graduate to a lifetime of debt and ultimate servitude to the financial parasite class as a ticket to a better life. What a sad and tragic turn of events. 
And what a national disgrace.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Poor Night's Sleep

I'm not a deep sleeper most of the time. I'm usually asleep by eleven at night and awake at 4:30 most of the time. I've started to readjust my weekend patterns a little so that I can sleep in somewhat, to at least 6:30 or so, and the last few weekends I actually didn't get up until the sun was already up, which is kind of unusual for me. I haven't been quite as tired recently as I have been in the past, and it's been helping in a bunch of areas of my life.
But today, I had a really weird and not-so-good dream (or maybe it was two, because there were two distinct theaters of action that I can recall), and I woke up at 4:15 and didn't really get back to anything other than a little drowsy. The dreams were unsettling, involved people that I don't necessarily want to write about doing things I definitely don't want to write about, and were vivid enough that I am remembering detail when wide awake, which is a very unusual occurrence for me. Some people believe that dreams are Messages From The Other Side or God talking to you, but except in the very rare cases of foreshadowing (of which I've had a couple over the course of my life--I had very detailed dreams of one uncle's death and something that happened to MOTY at times when I was not around either, and weeks later both happened exactly like I had dreamed), I've come to believe that dreams are simply our subconscious minds trying to sort through the currents of emotions and feelings that we are going through in our waking lives. I did have a conversation last night after the meeting that kicked up some stuff for me, and Sabrina was with her aunt last night out of town and not here when I went to bed or woke up. Even though neither dream involved my daughter or my better-than-friend directly, it's not hard for me to connect the dots what I was dreaming about to both.
I was just commenting to someone yesterday that the monkey cage has been quiet recently. They're not screaming or flinging shit at each other today, but they're awake. There are times when I have to take a deep breath, say a prayer for guidance and strength, and have faith that moving forward in the right direction, in the right way, is going to work out. I didn't hear anything bad yesterday, or have any reason to be really disturbed. But listening to someone else talk about some of the ghosts that inhabit their minds made me realize that I've got a few haunting mine, too. Ghosts can't do you any harm, but they can make you harm yourself if you let them. I'm trying not to do that. I've got a day ahead of me that I've been looking forward to for many days, and I'm not going to let some bizarre phantasm of a dream ruin it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: THE FRACKING WAR

I was disappointed in Michael Fitzgerald's The Fracking War. I was hoping for something like The Army of the Republic, a really good novel I read several years ago that brilliantly explored the tension between peaceful and violent environmental activism. This novel set out to explore the same ground, with the added bonus of being set in a place that is very familiar to me--the region of the country where I live. The protagonist of the novel lives in Horseheads, about sixty miles from the chair I am sitting in, and the fracking operations that are the focus of the book are taking place not far from here, just across the Pennsylvania border.
Some of the problems identified in the book are problems that I am keenly aware of. My brother is an attorney, and his practice has grown considerably in recent years as he has taken on clients that are negotiating land leases to the gas companies--who are notorious for writing one-sided, exploitative contracts unless the lessee pays close attention to the fine print. The one resource, the one advantage, that this economically depressed area of the country has that is going to be increasingly important in years to come is not natural gas, but water--plenty of fresh water readily available because this part of the country has not had severe drought in hundreds of years. Fracking, as the book details, poisons groundwater and also is a major problem to dispose of, and that has been very much an issue in the Southern Tier in recent years, even though New York still has a fracking ban in place. The issues surrounding "gasbags," the workers for the gas companies themselves, are something I see up close and personal; many of them are housed in the hotel that our agency has its offices located in, and the drinking and drug issues that they bring to the table during their down time is something we've all become rather too familiar with in recent years.
I am personally extremely opposed to fracking, and also am no fan of any fossil-fuel company; their willingness to put the eventual actual extinction of the human race on the table in their pursuit of short-term profit is so morally repugnant that, if I was younger and did not have children, would probably lead me to deeply involved in the anti-fracking movement. I am aware of how the game has been rigged politically, and I am disgusted by what the gas companies do to both the land and the people that own it. In other words, this could have been a really good book. And the basic action in it--the fight against fracking companies--does have its moments. But as a book, this novel has several major flaws that compromise the enjoyment level. The hero writes for a daily newspaper, whose influence on the world is dwindling and isn't going to ever approach the levels that this guy in the book is given credit for. The gas company guys are cartoonish in their villainy; you never get the sense that real human beings are being depicted. The love story subplot has possibilities, but ultimately becomes a distracting sideshow dead end. And the hinge on which the plot turns--that the public turns on the fracking companies in a sort of new Vietnam-level protest movement, and law enforcement around the company do not suppress or even join the protests--has been shown by recent events in places like Ferguson to be a complete fantasy.
I am sure that there is a really good novel to be written out there on this subject. This book, while not horrible, isn't it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Juvenile Swine

My daughter, despite what she thinks on some days, is a very attractive young women that draws a fair amount of attention from boys in the high school. Attention that isn't all that welcome, in many cases, but that comes with the territory. She has been asked out, flattered, paid attention to, flirted with, and a few other things, I'm sure, in the last couple of years. She's not terribly boy-crazy--depends on the boy, I guess, but in general she's not starved for attention, needy, or in nascent co-dependence. On occasion, she will mention to me that some boy, usually but not always a grade or (in a couple of cases last year) three ahead of her showed some interest in her, but when she headed them off and told them that she did not wish to either go out with them or continue to be bothered with them, they left her alone.
Except for one kid. She told me last spring about a kid two grades ahead of her (three years older than her) that asked her to some dance/junior prom/whatever it was, and had a bit of a hard time taking "no" for an answer. And after school yesterday, she told me the same kid had approached her and asked her to go to the prom with him. This year's prom. The one held in June every year. Sabrina said she didn't answer him directly, just said that the prom was nine months away, but was clearly upset about it, enough so that she posted on Facebook about it. And my dad antennae are very much twitching at the moment; this kid seems to be a bit obsessed, especially since Sabrina mentioned to me that she has blocked him on Facebook and blocked his number from her phone (I guess with iPhones, you can do that).
When she told me that, a serious discussion was held. She said she was thinking about going to one of the principals (Binghamton has one for each grade, which 1) doesn't seem to be resulting in any less manageability among the student population and 2) sure seems like an overkill of administrators getting administrator salaries in a school district that, large as it is, has a few hundred less kids attending it than the high school I graduated from that did just fine with a principal and three vice-principals) and asking her to intervene. I told her that, although in her mind the kid is firmly established as a creepy pain in the ass, she needs to do a few things first. For starters, she needs to tell the kid that she is not going to the prom with him, and then she needs to tell the kid that she's not going to change her mind, and that if he asks her again, or if in fact he continues to engage her in any way (they do not, thankfully, have any classes together this year; they did last year) she is going to consider that to be harassment and that she is going to take the matter to authority should he do so. Once she has done that and made it explicitly clear where the boundary lies and that the kid's behavior pattern crosses them , then she should go to the principal and tell her what she's felt necessary to do, and that she will be returning to the principal if the kid can't abide by her wishes. As much as my hackles are up because it is my daughter, I am aware that I am hearing only one side of the story, and that, creep or no, the other kid has to be given a chance to do the right thing before he can be called to account.
I have my doubts that's going to happen, but I've spent twelve years in an agency where due process is taken seriously, and I've spent just as long working with school administrators and know what is effective and what isn't. In view of other factors in play, too--the kid is African-American, and any conflict, real or potential, in Binghamton High School that involves kids of different races is treated like dynamite because the perception of unfair treatment of minority students is established enough so that new disciplinary procedures were put in place last year--I want to make sure that Sabrina, uncomfortable as she has been regarding this kid, knows the difference between just reacting on feelings and making sure that when she does respond, her actions don't become the focus of what authority is looking at. I've played enough hockey in my life to know that too often, the guy that retaliates is the one that ends up in the penalty box.
Sabrina doesn't exaggerate, so I am sure that her account of how this kid is is accurate. I can't say I'm happy about the development, but given how young males are in this day and age, it was a pipe dream to believe that my kid was only going to be paid attention to by healthy, respectful young men. I hope that this nips the budding little stalker in the bud. If it doesn't, at least we're playing by the rules and we've done everything we can do to give the kid a chance to do the right thing before bringing in authority. But boys need to learn, preferably before the eleventh grade but whenever the opportunity comes into play, that no means no, and that continuing to ask and make a nuisance of yourself is not behavior that makes you more endearing to the person you are trying to get to say yes. And that persisting in such behavior does constitute behavior that is going to bring consequences. It's not flirting, it's not wooing, it's not healthy.
And males of a certain age--here's some advice. Is there a gray area? A small one. But if you need a handy little pocket guide as to where it might be--if you've been blocked from Facebook and her phone, you crossed it a while ago. It's extremely unlikely that you have met the love of your life when you are 18 years old and she is taking the same class you are when she is a freshman. And because she makes your little pecker go "Schwing" when you are laying in your room at night instead of doing your homework does not mean you have any "right" to even try to make those little fantasies come to life. And you might want to thank whatever you pray to that you live in this day and age, because if some kid thirty-five years ago was doing what you do to my daughter to one of my sisters, you would have gotten accosted as soon as you stepped off school property by several large, muscular men that my father was well acquainted with who would have told you that if you didn't want several plaster casts to be your fashion accessories for the next several months, you needed to stop what you are doing immediately and stay stopped.
There are times when I think the old ways were better. They were certainly more effective.