Poetry: punishment or purification? Legend of the carrion crow…

Are certain times of your life punishment or purification this poem might ask?


Legend of the Carrion Crow
~~Wordsworth McAndrew

They call you Carrion Crow
scorn to eat your flesh
spit when they see you administering the last rites
call you Cathartes: the Clean-up,
yet if they only knew
the secret of your strange religion.

Once you were the silver bird of the heavens
once you flew as high and as free as only a bird can.
The sky was yours for you were king of the air
but here was the secret of your discontent:

it was not enough to just live and die, not-knowing.
You kept asking, whence came I, whither go I, and why?
The sky must hold the answer, you thought, and sought
long and desperately to glimpse what lay beyond it.

Relentlessly you fought pitted bone and feather and tendon
against the blue barrier that mocked you, locked you off
from the secret world behind its curvature.
But you were more determined than it knew and could fly higher.

So you perspired at your quest until, one inspired day,
you flew so hard and so fast against the blue
closing your wings at the last minute for penetration
that at last you had a look at the other side.

Nobody knows what you saw
when you passed through
but you burned in that sacred blue fire
and returned, black as coals, dumb,
numb from the experience
to become this mendicant preacher
minister to those souls who die without sacrament
trading blessings for food
a saved soul for a full belly.

And now when I see you
crowding a carcass for the unction
or nailed against the sky like a crucifix
with the two spots of tarnished silver
beneath your wings where you’d closed them
I long to have you say a De Profundis for me,

when I die, and I wonder:
Was yours a punishment or a purification?

Court strikes down freedman disenfranchisement by Cherokees


Cherokee court rules against Cherokee freedmen amendment- excerpt:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A Cherokee Nation court on Jan. 14 overturned an amendment to the tribal constitution that denied citizenship to non-Native American descendants of tribal members’ former black slaves.

Tribal District Court Judge John Cripps ruled that a 145-year-old treaty between the tribe and the U.S. government provided that “freedmen” and their descendants were to be citizens of the Cherokee Nation, so the amendment passed in March 2007 was “void as a matter of law.”

Native American tribes are allowed to determine membership based on blood or lineage, “unless it is restrained from such determination by limitation of treaty or statute,” Cripps wrote in the four-page ruling. “Such is the case in this instance.”

Diane Hammons, the tribe’s attorney general, said the tribe respectfully disagreed with the decision. The tribe is based in Tahlequah, in northeastern Oklahoma.

“We believe that the Cherokee people can change our Constitution, and that the Cherokee citizenry clearly and lawfully enunciated their intentions to do so in the 2007 amendment,” Hammons said. “We are considering all options, including our right to appeal to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court.”

Tribal spokesman Mike Miller said Principal Chief Chad Smith wouldn’t have any comment.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen Association, said the group was happy with Cripps’ decision. The organization represents descendants of former slaves of the Cherokee Nation and other tribes.

“We feel saddened that so many resources and so much effort has been used to dis-enroll the freedmen people, but we are grateful that there are some officials of the tribe that are willing to study the law and fairly interpret it, and are willing to advise tribal leaders to abide by it,” Vann said during a telephone interview Jan. 14.

Some Cherokees and members of other tribes in the southeastern U.S. were slaveholders, and they allied with the Confederacy during the Civil War in the 1860s. After the war ended and slavery was abolished, the Cherokee Nation and the federal government signed the Treaty of 1866, which said the freedmen and their descendants “shall have all the rights of native Cherokees,” the ruling noted.

The issue has been debated and litigated over the years, and two lawsuits are pending in federal court in Washington.

Jan. 14′s decision came in the case of Raymond Nash, a non-Native American descendant, and more than 200 others who received notices after the amendment passed that their citizenship was being terminated. There were so many who challenged the election outcome that the court appointed a lawyer to represent them and treated all appeals as a class action, said attorney Ralph Keen, who represented the group.

Read more at:


Keeping the “good” and “little” in children: recipies for resisting the wired world’s corrosive influence


In her books Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl (2010) and Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy (2012) author Cannah Gresh offers excellent observations on how the “wired world” and the electronic media is eroding family life, transferring attention and energy to other venues, lessening actual human contact and ability to see beyond “me”, and creating kids with shorter attention spans as electronic distractions loom larger. Of the 17 books she has written, she says the two above have been the most draining, Quote from Six Ways to keep the “Good” in Your Boy:


“Out of the 17 books I’ve written, Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl and this one have been the most emotionally draining for me. Why? Because our family is full of drama. We are often fighting to keep the “little” and the “good” in our family. We pick fights when our kids reach for the tree and I don’t like it…

I realize that television, cell phones, iPods and other technology also whisk our boys away from reality into a world that’s often unsafe. Overall, the average boy will absorb 38 hours a week of video games, computer time, music, television and radio. One of the obvious problems with being so plugged in is this: If your son is glued to a screen for 38 hours a week and, as most do, attends a public or private school, how much time does that leave for you to interact with him to form a value system that directs him towards “good”?.

Remember a prerequisite of being “good: is that your son is wired and programmed to consider the needs of others- tho think outside his own desired and be useful to his family and community.) It’s the fact that sitting in front of a screen is becoming an addiction in and of itself. We have seen it with gaming. A screen is the ultimate distraction.”
–Dannah Gresh Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy


A good read for parents, particularly of boys, who are in trouble these days- from greater incidences of suicide and violence to declining educational performance. To reverse these trends will take hard work. Politicians and bureaucrats will not get the job done.

Et tu Subway? Touted “foot-long” comes up short

Touted “foot-long” comes up short

Et tu Subway? Their “foot-long” is only 11 inches. A guy in Australia did the actual measurement. Subway said the “bread was not baked to our specifications” and then that Subway “Footlong” is a registered brand and not a measurement of length. But their advertising gives just such an impression with one ad- showing a one foot measurement. You too Subway? Who can you trust these days?

See some commentary here:

Problems getting services for children with autism – one mother’s story


Getting services for children with autism is still a problem for too many moms. Had a nice lunchtime visit with one mom, where the topic came up, as seen in the video segment below. It should not come to having to sue a school district to get services but that is the case for some mothers. Hopefully there are better avenues to resolve problems before they get that far. One thing struck me in making this video. Tyler Cowen’s book on “the autistic economy” asserts that the digital era has opened up bold new opportunities for persons with autism. But what if kids or adults with autism do not have much interest in computers or digital technology?


On another note, this mom did negotiate a super discount on a Walmart display video camera – 20% and no more the manager said firmly. But she kept smiling and asking and he caved for over 30%. I got a snippet of the moment on film. She was impressive!

Autinomics (auti-nomics) – creating your own economy


Autinomics (my phrase) a process, system and framework, dedicated to  exploring how digital technology, hands on projects and collaboration can create new options in education, work and culture for neurodiverse (autistic) individuals. It also applies to neuro-typical (non-autistic) persons as well. For a great statement on this, see Tyler Cowen’s book “Create Your Own Economy.”

The “new” economy:” In his book, “Create Your Own Economy”, Cowens argues that the digital age means customizing your own life, creating your own economy of the imagination, unshackled from tedious bureaucratic structures and machine-age formats. For persons with autism, the 21st century promises a truer liberation to achieve their own goals and realize their own capabilities. “Economy” in this sense refers to networks of exchange for the mutual benefit of transactors. The things “exchanged” need not have conventional monetary value.

Some of this draws in some ways on his earlier work: “Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist,” that draws on economic principles to explain quirky human behavior, choices, and ways to live a better life. An entertaining read, and not just in relation to autism.


Downsides and the need for balance: I am not sold on the digital world and economy as a panacea for all the things Cowen talks about. I maintain that the freedom of “the digital era” in turn can skew human contact, and impoverish spiritual and moral values. How often has one seen technology like cellphones crowd out face to face interaction.  True, communication is enhanced in some ways, particularly across great distances, and in the variety and volume of information transmitted, but the downside is a growing impatience, less privacy, information overload, and replacement of “carbon unit” interaction and contact with less rich digital substitutes. The “connected world” is always “on”- offering less privacy, less time for spiritual contemplation, less patience, less nuance, less control over time, and eroding the traditional virtues of home and hearth.

A balance is needed- the old saw Winston Churchhill quipped about: technology being on tap, but not on top. The same principle applies to neuro-diverse and neuro-typical. The new options of the digital era must work in tandem with the “carbon” world, to offer a fully-satisfying life.

The case of the vanishing kids


Desegregation had several failures in implementation, contradicting the almost utopian expectations of bliss some put on it , or claimed for it. But it had its successes and humorous moments. This one is good for a bit of a chuckle on a slow day. In 1972, Flagler County was the last school district in Florida to desegregate. School Superintendent James Craig, made a last ditch appeal on his own, after the School Board had thrown in the towel. He argued that there could not be any desegregation of black kids because there were absolutely no black kids at all in Flagler. Only members of the Oriental races could be identified, hence there was no one to desegregate to. The Court sardonically noted: “In the long march from Mansfield2 this Court has seen, heard, or heard of everything3-everything, that is, until today.”  (United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 1972. No. 71-2323)

More ingenious was the modus operandi of one Texas school district that argued its segregation of Mexican-American students was only because of their language difficulties, and was only confined to the first grade. But as the court noted:

“The Superintendent’s order had permitted segregation of Mexican Americans in the first grade only-as a means of combatting a prevalent language deficiency. Driscoll Independent School District’s coup was to keep Mexican American students in the first grade for the first four years of their educational careers..”


See excerpt of  Flagler decision below:

457 F.2d 1402


UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v.
Craig, Supt. of Schools, School Board of Flagler

County, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 71-2323.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

March 29, 1972.


Stanley D. Kupiszewski, Jr., DeLand, Fla., for defendant-appellant; James O. Craig, pro se.


Jerris Leonard, Asst. Atty. Gen., Brian K. Landsberg, Atty., U. S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., John L. Briggs, U. S. Atty., John D. Roberts, Asst. U. S. Atty., Jacksonville, Fla., David L. Norman, Asst. Atty. Gen., Roderick N. McAulay, Atty. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for plaintiff-appellee.


Before JOHN R. BROWN, Chief Judge, and INGRAHAM and RONEY, Circuit Judges.


JOHN R. BROWN, Chief Judge:



As a last gasp in the struggle against desegregation in the Flagler County (Florida) School District, Superintendent James O. Craig, now alone and unaided by the school board, appeals pro se from the District Court’s order enjoining the operation of racially segregated public educational facilities and requiring the immediate implementation of a unitary school system, including compliance with the semi-annual reporting provision of Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, 5 Cir., 1970, 426 F.2d 1364.1



In the long march from Mansfield2 this Court has seen, heard, or heard of everything3-everything, that is, until today.



Here the District Court, after finding that Flagler County was operating a dual school system, ordered the immediate implementation of a unitary school system on August 7, 1970. The School District resisted, arguing that it did not know what the term “race” or “ethnic origin” contemplated. It contended that it could not assure that Negro students were not being discriminated against because it did not have a Congressional definition of the term “Negro.” What began as an ingenius quandry soon became disingenuous when HEW offered these definitions:




persons considered by themselves, by the school or by the community to be of African or Negro origin.




persons considered by themselves, by the school or by the community to be of Asian origin.



Similar guidelines were announced for identifying American Indians, Spanish Surnamed Americans and All Others. Thereupon, the School District blithely filed a Supplemental Report identifying all teachers and students in the District as “Orientals,” since they were so “considered by the school.” Therefore, it reasoned, there was no discrimination, since there was only one race in the entire school district (i. e., “Orientals”) and it could not be found to be in noncompliance with Constitutional standards.



With no surprise to anyone the District Court summarily rejected this absurdity and to the credit of the School District and the good sense of its members, the Board consented to a decree, avoiding any further embarrassment by urging that contention in this Court. The School Superintendent, who was named as a party-defendant in the suit below as a matter of form, appeals singly pro se from the District Court’s order.



His argument is that he cannot enforce the District Court’s order because it contains no definition of what is a Negro and therefore, he contends, the order is vague and uncertain. Justice Douglas’s statement in Tijerina v. Henry, 1970, 398 U.S. 922, 90 S.Ct. 1718, 26 L.Ed.2d 86, sufficiently answers that argument-”One thing is not vague or uncertain, however, and that is that those who discriminate against members of this and other minority groups have little difficulty in isolating the objects of their discrimination.” The record indicates that in the past the School District has apparently had no difficulty identifying Negroes for the purposes of segregating them. For desegregation they can be identified with similar ease.


Appellant’s other argument, that he does not know how to implement the District Court’s mandate that discrimination in the system be rooted out completely by use of non-discriminatory assignment of students (as the Trial Court suggests, on the basis of alphabetical order) is without any redeeming merit.


Whether viewed as frivolous under our Rule 20, which it clearly is, or on the merits-or more accurately, the total lack of merits-the appeal utterly fails.





The United States instituted the present action nearly six months after the entry of a consent decree providing a desegregation plan for the county, because the first semi-annual report required by that decree failed to include statistical data relating to the racial composition of student bodies and faculties



Jackson v. Rawdon, 5 Cir., 1956, 235 F.2d 93, cert. denied, 352 U.S. 925, 77 S.Ct. 221, 1 L.Ed.2d 160



See, e. g., Hernandez v. Driscoll Consolidated Independent School District, 2 Race Rel.L.R. 329 (S.D.Tex., January 11, 1957). There, the school district tried to circumvent an order of the State Supertendent of Public Instruction, promulgated as a result of a court order in Delgado v. Bastrop Ind. School Dist., Civil No. 388 (W.D.Tex., June 15, 1948). The Superintendent’s order had permitted segregation of Mexican Americans in the first grade only-as a means of combatting a prevalent language deficiency. Driscoll Independent School District’s coup was to keep Mexican American students in the first grade for the first four years of their educational careers