A phantom menace of a chess game

I went to the Oscar documentary shorts program at the West End Cinema in Washington DC Sunday (Media commentary blog), an as I entered the lobby, I saw a plastic chess board set up.

I set up a position  1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Qb3 dxc 6 Qxc4 00 7 e4 a6  (the Hungarian variation of the Russian system of the Grunfeld, Kaplan. game 7.12, B p 96).

When I came out of the movie 2-1/2 hours later I see someone had finished the game and Black had won a piece, at about move 20.

I can’t quite reconstruct it, but I’ll take credit for a win with Black.

Kaufman gives a trap 8 a4 ?! (8 Be2 is standard and much better) b5! 9 Qb3 c5! 10 dxc5 Be6 11 Qa3 b5! 12 Qxb4 Nc6 and Black follows with Rb8 and Rc3

(Posted: Monday: Feb. 13, 2017 at 2:30 PM EST)

Empathy shaving rituals: should one’s body become a bargaining chip?

I wanted to pass on an NBC News video from Jan 31 about body empathy, here.

The story concerns a high school principal who publicly shaved his head (or allowed it to be shaved) to show empathy with a student who had been bullied and whose grandfather might have terminal illness.

The video says “it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s what’s inside”.

I’ve written before about “Be brave and shave” barbering benefits (like one at the Westover Market outdoors on the patio in Arlington VA a few years ago).

I’ve never felt that my own body should become a “bargaining chip” so that crosses a line with me. That’s true even given my own alopecia and, as aging man, bald legs.  I’ve never been cool with the idea of making anything that happens to someone OK – yet I understand at an intellectual level that this bears on collective resilience.

On p. 29 of the DADT-1 book, I mention the “Tribunals” hazing ritual at the College of William and Mary in the fall of 1961 – now more than a half century ago.  It was to happen the last Friday night in September in the basement of one of the dorms.  “They” would shave the freshman boys’ legs, under the urban legend that for one of them, it would never grow back.  There was a Spartan idea that ritual body shaming anchored male fungibility and willingness to play warrior for the group, and codify social ideals of male performance (in intercourse) later in life.  This ritual made more “sense” in those days, before swimming and cycling had become popular individual sports.

We would see this kind of idea surface in Season 1 of the Apprentice when Troy McClain “took one for the team” and allowed his legs to be waxed on camera.  Donald Trump mentions that in his book “How to Get Rich” but it’s never been mentioned in the campaign or during the early days of his presidency. There is always a first time.

Someone on Facebook recently sent a picture of someone with neurofribromatosis, and challenged all the friends to send the person a birthday greeting, and then complained when no one would, over the putative lookism issue.  I’m not sure that the word of this is. It’s a kind of pimping of affection.

(Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 12 Noon EST)

More details about how my William and Mary expulsion in 1961 unfolded

I just wanted to add a little detail to the narrative of this Jan. 10, 2014 chronology of my fall semester 1961 as a freshman at William and Mary.

On p. 6 of the DADT 1 book, it says that I met up with my parents at Rogers Hall.  I think actually I was standing on the corner of Duke of Gloucester and Richmond Road, as my parents’ Galaxie, my father driving and Mother in the front seat, swung around.  In those days you could drive on Gloucester.  I think we parked at what was then called Rogers.

I don’t have any proof of my parents’ movements that Thanksgiving weekend, so what I report is the best of my recollection from what my parents told me then.

I believe that my parents would have gotten the call from the Dean from an operator at the Scotts’s house in Charlotte, NC around 8:15 PM or so.  They were probably watching television on the living room, or they could have been playing cards (my parents liked to do that). My father probably took the call, and probably didn’t tell Mother about it until they went to bed.

As far as I know from what my father said, they had stayed in Charlotte for the weekend.  Father wanted to go to a particular church service (a little odd for a Thanksgiving weekend ending) Sunday before returning.  My parents must have suspected that some sort of existential issue was at hand.  After all, I was an only child.  If I was gay, I probably would never give them grandchildren, and the family lineage from their marriage would die out.  I think that was what they believed but wouldn’t say.

They would have had a quiet drive back to Williamsburg, a lot of it along US 52, through South Boston, VA, in a time before there were a lot of interstates.

Nevertheless, they would stay together for 25 more years, as my father would pass away from prostate cancer on January 1. 1986, being ill for only a short time (he could not tolerate being a “burden”), but my mother would live until December 14, 2010, having a long decline in the last three years.

(Posted: Friday, January 20, 2017 at 8 PM EST)

“Duty” and “Relationism”

Yes, I am pondering the “giving back” issue, and I’ll add a couple comments from a soliloquy started Nov. 2 and 15.

There are two parts to this in my mind: duty, and relationism (previous post).  The “duty” part is pretty well covered in the “Epilogue” of DADT-III.

The most obvious way people have duty is from the immediate consequences of their choices, like “choosing” to have a child.  But people can have duty from a lot of other sources, like receiving inheritance that wasn’t completely earned.

We’re used to seeing volunteer organizations sell the idea of “service”, and, as I have noted, some are not very transparent in how they do it and are rather bureaucratic.  Some make a point of needing contingent volunteers for special days:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Martin Luther King’s Birthday, which has become an informal “national day of service” (this year, four days before Trump’s inauguration).  George Washington University has a day of service, a Saturday, for students early in the fall semester.

I do think that seeing service from everyone does have some stabilizing effect.  For those who really are less “fortunate”, it starts to look like it makes more sense to play by the rules – if others play by them in some higher sense.

But it is very difficult to be of service sporadically, without having more ties to the people involved.  And a lot of us have lived in totally separate worlds.  I didn’t have personal contact with people we see as needy, especially as presented today in the media, and in social media (as in “gofundme” pages).  When I was working on my “long track career”, I worked unpaid overtime (even incurring some extra expenses) for production support, and I thought I was taking my turn “paying my dues” in almost Maoist spirit.  But at certain times in my life, as when I mingled with the Ninth Street Center in the 1970s and then later in the 1980s as an “AIDS buddy” (or “baby buddy”) and even at MCC,   I ran into people, who made less money in the competitive workplace, and had to co-depend and accept encumbrance alien to me.  They tended to have some emotional bonds alien to me.  But it made the idea of “service” seem more natural.

People do knock and snap their fingers at me, figuratively, to get me to notice them more “personally”.  They want me to let them matter more, in a personal sense – and get me away from my cherry picking.  What does all the knowledge and wisdom in the world mean, when published, if others don’t “need” it in a relational context?

(Posted: Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 11:30 PM EST)

Cultural gender fetishes and how they affected my view of personhood

In order to support some upcoming discussion about “gay rights” (so to speak) in the Trump area on my recent News Commentary blog, I need to become candid about some of “what made my head tick” when I was growing up, through high school, the William and Mary expulsion, and particularly my 1962 stay at N.I.H. , where I felt very much like “The Manchurian Candidate”.

I’ve described fully my having “fallen behind” other boys during elementary school, and perhaps only beginning to start catching up as an older teen in senior high school.  I described in my last post my entry into music and piano, as if something downloaded from another consciousness.  (In any universe, on any planet, the mathematical relations in music would be the same.)  It seem that my disinclination for more “manly” things may have been a waiting game strategy (a kind of “hedgehog”, by analogy to chess opening theory) to make more room for music and creative expression.  My resistance to playing contact football seems, in retrospect, a wise choice out of narrow self-interest – avoid brain injury and concussion.  It turned out I was medically right on many of my snarky comments about diet and “fats”.  My father would complain that “I read” something rather than believe what people in authority told me, and history would prove me right.  Were I only Milo and an editor on Brietbart!

I have to trace what made me tick, indeed.  By about third grade or so, I had become vaguely aware that society expected men to protect women and children, in total and not just in individual circumstances.  It seemed that women were more “valued” and men were fungible, at least until they were established as husbands and fathers.  This would all comport with what George Gilder wrote in his books like “Sexual Suicide” (1973) and “Men and Marriage” (1986). This is following a period were, one by one, my parents defuse the old ruses about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Stork (the last was the most difficult).  By age 8 or so I must have understood that I had come from my mother very physically (and while I’m at it, I can remember a very early session about learning to feed myself, about when I was turning 3, one of my earliest conscious memories).  Still, I didn’t know all the missing pieces: that pregnancy can be very trying for women, and needs to be supported by husbands (future dads) and society as a whole.  Yet, I might have suspected it.  My mother had a hysterectomy when I was 9, I think.  I also recall, when I was 9, my parents talked about adopted a younger sister for me, but then the talk about it stopped.  I would be practically, as well as biologically, an only child; the future lineage of my parents’ 1940 marriage (when my father was already 37) was in my hands.  I had not been conceived until my father was 39, and, in the fall of 1942, I was, according to my NIH records, a “planned” child.

I also slowly became aware that physical modesty was viewed as more socially significant for women than for men.  Breasts were a big deal, and two-piece bathing suits showed too much.  Maybe by age 12 or so, I could understand that one reason for “public decency” is that adults need to save “revealing” for the bedroom, so that marriage will be fulfilling, and remain so for decades (and produce “enough” babies).  We know that’s even more critical today in Muslim cultures, where the use of coverings and loose clothing (and burqa) is a way of preserving future male interest in their wives.

I recall, when entering seventh grade, being apprehensive about the loss of modesty in PE locker rooms. But it was about that time, age 11 or 12 (particularly the summer before junior high school) when I began to pay more attention to “men”.  I noticed that often men seemed to have more body hair than women.  This effect was particularly noticeable in a racially segregated society, because that observation is much more true of Caucasians than of any other races.  I recall my father making comments that supported such a notion.  One time when Aldo Ray (“The Naked and the Dead”, 1958, which I need to see for its political message) appeared on television (BW in those days), my father said, “Look how hairy he is.”  Other times, he would remark about some fat men, “pot belly, no ambition”.  I got the idea that men’s bods do matter.  But nobody was supposed to talk about it. Mother would remain mum about his gratuitous observations.

Then, during those summers in Kipton, Ohio, I had a playmate companion, an aunt’s foster child on the farm, who was a big fan of the Cleveland Indians in their heyday (with the “Big 4” pitching rotation) and Mother (while Dad was away on sales trips) would take us kids to plenty of day baseball games in Cleveland in “The Mistake by the Lake” (old Municipal Stadium, with its wire outfield fence).  I remember ace lefthander Herb Score’s injury from a batted ball, underscoring that sports involves physical risk.  We built cardboard stadiums, and a real stadium of sorts, with an outfield fence, on a plot on the Ohio farm.  But this other kid, David, also (at about age 13 or so) would make remarks about other men’s appearances, including mine.

So through my early teen years, I had this curiosity about male body parts, normally just out of sight, by clothing conventions, including wearing neckties for business (and the fanatic dress codes of IBM and EDS, requiring long socks and garters).  There was a reason for office dress codes in the day (“The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit”, classic film): to keep attention away from men’s appearance, which was necessarily kept fungible for dangerous occupations and sometimes for war (World War II had been won only a decade before) and onto females.  It seemed that in those days, women “needed” husbands and did not feel oppressed by lower pay or the expectations of stay-at-home.  As a boy, this didn’t make complete sense – and, just as I predicted by the time I went to college – attitudes changed radically in succeeding decades.  I was beginning to get the idea that active marital male sexuality  (with penetration and procreation) was to become connected to having a dependent wife (and later children) and the necessary division of labor in era with less labor-saving technology.

Men could shave their beards, and that didn’t matter, because almost everyone did.  Men might or might not be circumcised, and that didn’t matter, because “you” would never ‘get to see” anyway in a “decent” society. (Well, just maybe the locker room or barracks).  Nevertheless, during my teen years a cultivated a fantasy about what the more public parts would look like if “revealed”.  In fact, “reveal” could become a party game.  “Texture” mattered.  Over the years, I noticed a differential progression in the appearance of young men as they matured.  Some were “fat” and I simply ignored them.  Body hair would appear first on the legs, then sometimes conspicuously arms and later chest, or sometimes not.  This seemed like a secondary sexual characteristic marker that was allowed to remain just barely out o sight, so women (and men) could make something of it if they wanted to.  At the same time, given male fungibility, it was reassuring to me to notice that some men had some attributes or properties that women didn’t have (or at least as much), and men had something to be ranked by.

One mid August evening in 1961 (maybe three weeks before leaving for William and Mary), I was at a particular friend’s house.  Six months older than me, I had “looked up” to him (“upward affiliation”).  He had conspicuously hairy limbs.  I barely had my driver’s license and he drove me around.  (I actually did do most of the driving with my parents down to WM – I remember US 60 all too well.)  I suddenly noticed that I had an involuntary erection around him.  I don’t remember whether he noticed.  He was straight.  I suppose that if he had been gay and responded, my life could have had an “alternative universe” course.  But that experience was watershed.  I would hold back on this for weeks in the subsequent therapy at NIH.

Later, I would find that the possibility of “desecration” could induce excitement,  There is a scene in the 1970 film “The Andromeda Strain” (as in the book by Michael Crichton)  where a research subject, before being allowed into a virtual Fort Detrick in the desert, goes through a photoflash chamber to removed (maybe permanently) all his body hair before a required “body analysis”.  I don’t recall any such subsequent scene right now in all of cinema, and it was omitted from the cable remake a few uears ago.  I was aroused instantly by that.

I mention the “Tribunals” on p. 29 of the DADT-1 book (iUniverse 2000 version). Cycling and swimming were generally not as popular as individual sports in 1961 as they are now, and drag was viewed as the world of the “effeminate”.  Tattoos and other body art were not as popular or even acceptable then (in “upper classes” at least).   So it was viewed somewhat as a desecration for a man to allow any of his body to be shaved except his beard – all pretty irrational but set up by custom. Sometimes, particularly in the 70s and 80s, printed gay porn would make something of this.  So a college hazing session premised on leg-shaving could make some sense (as I go into a little detail in the book, and will re-iterate in my screenplay).  During later debates on DADT, it came out (pun) that stuff like this would happen in the Navy, especially when ships crossed the Equator. (I covered some of this train of thought in Section 7 of Chapter 2 of the DADT-III book, the section being called “An Alien’s View of Anthropology”).

Indeed, I worried that something would “happen” to my best friend “M” when he went away to VPI, with all the freshman hazing.  But it didn’t.  I saw him, with some suspense, in December 1961, after my disgraceful return home, after his first quarter at VPI ended for Christmas.

But all of this belies a more disturbing attitude of mine, somewhat apparent perhaps in William and Mary dorm life, but particularly at NIH.  I do recall that one of the straight boys who taunted me in the dorm a month before the expulsion was himself very fat, and very determined to prove he could have a girl anyway, and I could make him feel bad about himself as unsuitable.  Later, at NIH, as I had noted here Jan. 14, 104 and in the books, many of the people on the unit, especially the women, were not very intact.  Two or three of the men were more attractive and stable, and I befriended them.  But others, who didn’t “measure up” in society’s standings which had become my own (ironically), I made a point of showing animosity toward, even “hatred”.  One of these men was a “stereotyped queer”, to borrow from the derogatory language of the past, as I somehow thought of myself as better than that.  (One of the female patients was transgender and wanted to be a man, but the world simply had no way to process this in 1962.)   I would set up situations to make the “weak” self-destruct, as in the way I handled a rogue unit ping pong tournament, where I played “keep the ball on the table” and let others lose control over missed slams.

I migrated out of this, to have a couple more partially reciprocated “crushes” on straight friends who would marry and retreat (from me, at least) into their own worlds of family transformation, as if crossing some sort of psychological Schwarzchild radius.  In the 60s and 70s there was truism, that when men get married, they gain weight, get bellies, go downhill, and become less physically “masculine”.  That’s far from always true, although the Family Research Council wanted to make a lot of the idea that many married men show testosterone loss when nurturing their own kids.  But in time, many men do lose their physical mojo, get fat, or go bald in the legs as well as on the pate.  I would wonder, as a teen, how could their wives still want them, when there were “better men” around to peek at?  Again, I was fantasizing in a problematic area, seeing people as less than fully human when they became too fallible, as if I really would have relished the values of ancient Sparta.

So, I wonder, why do authoritarian politicians rise and sometimes make real threats to the lives of individual people who are somehow now “in”?  (It remains to be seen how dangerous Donald Trump really is, but many observers warn that authoritarians tend to not be kidding when they make quasi-personal threats at those whom they perceive as enemies.)  I can look at my own attitude toward others, reflecting onto them the animus that had been directed at me, as if I could somehow be better than them, in my own visible space.  A lot of people, when troubled by provocations of others, will “retaliate” and “fight with their fingernails” this way;  but when it becomes socially acceptable to do so, society as a whole becomes more vulnerable to demagogues and authoritarians, as most people are not prepared to process so much being hurled at them.

In the early part of my “therapy” (before NIH), my father once said that the first psychiatrist had said, “You don’t see people as people.” Ironically, as I wrote this today, the following essay, “What makes a person a person?” appeared on FEE, by philosophy professor Erica Stonestreet, from the College of St. Benedict (I think in Minnesota).

I’ll close this long recitation recalling a couple other quirks.  In the Army, when you wore khakis. You weren’t supposed to have an undershirt, as that was “unmilitary”.  Think about it.  Then, in early 1998, after I had fallen and sustained an acetabular hip fracture and had to prepared for surgery, the nurse came by to do the electrocardiogram and warned she could have shave some if she couldn’t get a reading.  Then, as I recovered, I had a wrist IV for a few days, and a nurse came in and said (as an “iv-critic”), let’s save some hair on your arm” as she adjusted it.  In a hospital, you forget your quirks and get used to anything.

(Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 3:30 PM EST)

What explains my sudden interest in piano at age 8?

One of the most important events in my own personal history was my starting piano lessons.

I believe that I started them at age 8 in February 1952. My parents bought a console spinet Kimball piano which was given away in 2003 before I moved back from Minneapolis.  I now do all my piano on a Casio 88-key keyboard.

I was already having difficulty adjusting to the expectations on “boys” to play sports and become part of the group in third grade.  I don’t recall such issues in second grade, although some narrative report cards from first grade suggest some issues.  I also had some tendency to interrupt others in class discussions and draw attention.

I don’t know why these developed.  But the music is even more of a mystery.  I remember wanting to take if, but not knowing why.  I became very good at it, and I believe I played in my first recital in early 1953 and had played in the first festivals (where you got a rating from judges on your play) later in 1953.  (I’ll look through some old scrapbooks later and try to get the dates).

I could wonder if this is evidence of reincarnation.  If so, I have no direct memories of a previous life (despite some dorm experiments with hypnosis in graduate school at KU around 1967).  Maybe music somehow gets passed from some sort of distributed consciousness to the microtubules of the developing brain.  My difficulties with “manly” activities might be explainable by premature pruning in order to focus more on music.

(Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2016 at 5 PM EST)

Dropping a night double header in chess (at a Christmas party); the “5-second delay” issue in action tourneys

I hadn’t played rated chess in a while, so last night I returned to the Arlington Chess Club for the Christ mas party.

I played in the action, and withdrew after the first two runs (running late) after two losses.   I had decided to play some openings I didn’t know very well, and this time I paid for it.

Round 1

I had White.  1 e4 e6 2. D4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e5 Nd7 6 BxB QxBe7 7 Nf3 (?!) – Book is f4 and it is much better) a6! 7. Be2 (? Already necessary is Bd3 and Qe2) c5 8. dxc Nc6 9 a3 Qxc5 and White’s advance e pawn cannot be defended and Black won rather easily. In comparison to the advance French, this fares poorly, as there is no c3 (there is a real gambit in the Advance French but it doesn’t have a really good reputation anymore).

Round 2

I intended a full Slav

1 e4 d5 2. D4 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 dc 5. a4 a6 (but Bf5 should be played now if that is Black’s intention) 6 e3 Bf5 7 Bxc4  r6  8 OO Bb5  9 Qe2 OO (but now White’s e3 plan is turning out to be much stronger than it should, and Black has walked unto a bad QGA  I had wanted the Ne5 stuff but got the move order wrong).  10 Rd1 h6 11 e4 Bh7 12 e5 Nd5 13 Ne4 Nbd7 (this normally happens sooner) 14 Ne1 b5 15 Bb3 Nb6 16 Nd3! Be7 17 a5 Nad7 18 Qg4 Kh8 19 Nc5 NxNc5 20 dxNc5 Qc8 21 Nd6 BxN 22 cxB White has achieved  a complete bind, black would have no defense to a K-side P storm now Qd7 23 Qd4 Re8 24 Re1 Nf6 25 Bd2 Nd4 26 Bxh6 1-0

Black has to be careful to get move orders right, or “innocuous” systems will indeed let White build up a bind in the center. I found another book that says Black should allow Nh4 (now take time with h6), go to g6 and take back with the F pawn.  Despite White’s two Bishops, Black has good chances with the open F file and White’s King N is gone.  Also my early a6 is imprecise, and Black usually plays Nbd7 sooner in this old line.  But since I didn’t play best, my opponent built up a center bind with the N’s and a dangerous attack with open lines.

The tournament was played G30 with a 5-second delay after the “5 minute warning”.  This is relatively new, and the old mechanical Benko clocks don’t support it.  In fact my simple Blitz clock doesn’t either, so I’ve got to order another one.  But the use of the 5-second delay can lengthen a one-day action tournament.  (The first round didn’t get started until 8:30 PM, almost as if this were an ESPN pro football game with television rights.)  One game in round one got caught in a 2-rook _ 2 pawns each (same side of the board) ending.  Both players kept making moves within the  5 seconds.  Soon the TD was manually counting moves toward a 50-minute limit, until Black blundered a rook and lost the game.

But in general the 5-second delay reduces the likelihood that the player ahead in time but with a worse or losing position will win by time forfeit.  It encourages taking more time to get better positions early in the game.  To win, you need to be able to find good moves within 5 second each move if you have a better or winning position but are behind.   It could make the “soundness” of lines (even gambits) in faster speed tournaments more important, as the “lower rated” players now are much stronger than they were a half century ago when I entered this world.

For fun, above, I gave a game that Carlsen lost with White against a Grunfeld in 22 moves, tossing a piece.  But White’s Qd2 idea seems self-cramping and illogical.  Black was already better.  Larry Kramer is right; the Grunfeld is surely one of Black’s best defenses to d4.

 

I do recall de facto segregation when I graduated from high school in Arlington VA in 1961

A Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post today recalls the racial segregation in Arlington VA schools in the 1950s, link here.

I entered tenth grade in Washington-Lee in September 1958 and graduated (as one of 14 valedictorians) in June 1961.  There were a few token black students then.  I think Yorktown had opened in 1960.  The big football rivalry was with Wakefield.  The letter refers to Hoffman-Boston  .  It is now an elementary school (I subbed there once in 2004, by accident, so to speak) and I didn’t recall it had included an all-black high school, which got inferior supplies and school labs.

I remember that in General Education (English and Social Studies together) starting in the fall of 1955 in seventh grade at Swanson Junior High (which ran until ninth grade then), the teacher, Mrs. Hillman, explained Brown v. Board of Education to us.  But it would take a long time for the ruling to be implemented.  One could rent Peter Gilbert’s 2004 documentary “With All Deliberate Speed” (review ).

I also subbed at Wakefield in 2004-2005 (it now has a new building) and at Washington-Lee the same years, when it was in the second of its buildings, and it is also rebuilt.

Could I have really create a third act as a math teacher? Here’s what I think would have happened

I wanted to review a potentiality that I gave up during the 2000’s, that I might have had a second (or third) career as a high school mathematics teacher, possibly teaching AP calculus in the best of outcomes.

I got “laid off” from ING officially as of December 31, 2001 (I was notified on December 13), and got a little more than eight month’s severance.  I stayed in Minneapolis until the end of August, 2003.

After I had returned home, and tried selling subscriptions for the National Symphony Orchestra, I learned suddenly from a local news broadcast in March 2004 that school systems had a “career switcher” program to train teachers in a fast track.  I also quickly found out that I could work as a substitute teacher in Virginia without a license, and started on April 30, 2004.

I’ve covered the issues I encountered with four posts here in early 2014.  But the question remains, could I really have become a teacher if I had been determined enough?

I did get back into the math pretty quickly, and I actually passed a math Praxis exam (given at the University of the District of Columbia) in mid September 2005.  I believe that it is quite credible that I could have recovered most of the knowledge that I had when I left graduate school (with an M.A.) in early 1968 before going into the Army when we had a draft.

In fact, it is possible to imagine that the outplacement company provided by ING (Right Management) might have steered me to this opportunity sooner had it known.  “No Child Left Behind” had just passed and school systems were already gearing up to add math teachers in mid 2002.  However, the outplacement company was not very aware of circumstances outside Minnesota, where I was living (and where subs needed licenses).  Theoretically, I could have returned by the end of August 2002 (when a lease expired), subbed in Virginia for the next school year, attended a quick certification course of 180 clock hours in the spring, gotten a license, and been teaching high school math in the fall of 2003.

The “big problem”, as far as my own ethics was concerned, was “conflict of interest”.  I had self-published my political views, without a gatekeeper, in such a way that they could easily be found by search engines.  If I had the power to grade students and determine their futures, this could create ethical problems because students could find my views online (and this did become an issue in 2005 with the incident involving my self-posted “fiction” screenplay, “The Sub”, as explained here March 6. 2014.)  I may have given this link before, I may have given this link before, but here is the white paper I had written on the issue while still at ING and in Minneapolis in March 2000   and here is what my own “blogging policy” was at the time.

There were also possibilities that I could get temporary positions as a long-term sub, without a license, at $25 an hour or so, and be responsible for a class for a month or so.  This nearly happened in the summer of 2005 with geometry (I did one day on my own, pretty well, before the sections were consolidated).

There was even the idea of teaching a night class of adult education in math, which did not require a license, as I found out in the late fall of 2005, just before my “Reputation-gate” over the screenplay led to my stopping.  (I graded some papers in 2006 and subbed again in 2007.)  There are curious and ironic parallels between this whole incident, and the unraveling of Hillary Clinton’s campaign over a complication of her “email-gate” and supposed involvement with Anthony Weiner’s own scandal, as revealed by James Comey shortly before the election – so I guess I had not heard the last of this.  Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made mistakes similar to mine.

I can only say, in retrospect (where hindsight trumps [pun] over foresight, and maybe even foreskin) what would have had to do with my self-publishing had I aggressively sought to become a regular teacher.

The best idea that I can come up with is that I would have had to remove most of my content online (even from search engines, which can be done), with the exception of the footnote files which further edit the two books available at the time.  The books could have remained available for sale through Amazon, etc.  as long as the cooperative publisher was willing to carry them.  However, access to the supplementary footnotes would have been limited to those with logon access granted from having bought the books. There would have been no “attention drawing” by offering free stuff (to search engines).  As long as I had the power to affect the lives of students or subordinates, that’s how this had to be run.  I could only have my own voice if people were willing to pay for my content in a normal manner, which meant, I somehow met their “needs”.  If I needed help dealing with discrimination, I would have to give money and support to organizations to speak for me, and often to speak for other people with whom I often disagree on fine points (of “intellectual honesty” or “truth”).  That’s what “most people” have to do today, but that profoundly insults me now.  I could have maintained a small sales site (like most authors) and professional resume site.

Let’s say I had taught from 2003-to 2013, when I turned 70.  That would have taken me past my mother’s passing, and certainly cleared any issues of my “mooching” into inheritance.  (Remember Ayn Rand’s character “Wesley Mouch” in “Atlas Shrugged”?)   It’s likely I would have lost the use of my “Do Ask Do Tell” mark to some Trump-like character who claimed he could make money with a shallow commercial use of it as a trademark and employ real people.  The books might have disappeared.  Since I would no longer be online, my influence on the debate over “don’t ask don’t tell” stops, and it’s even possible that the repeal in 2011 might not have happened.

However, upon stopping teaching, with enough savings, I could have re-published the books, under new names, and then written a third book about the same time (coming out in 2014), and it might have actually sold better, because in some ways I might seem more real and credible.

Of course, that’s risky, and conjectural.  Suppose I pass away before then?  Then the books are lost.

Another possibility that I had to watch, from 2003 to the end of 2010, was the possibility, however remote, of attracting hostile targeting not only to myself but also my mother.  (That idea has appeared on the world post 9/11;  I had never considered it when writing the book and posting it online in 1998.) That had at most a “marginal” chance of happening, but then again, the coincidences that led to “Reputation-Gate” were quite improbable, but they happened.  My mother was not computer literate (and it wasn’t practical to teach her – really it wasn’t), and fortunately neither were her cohort friends, or it’s likely I would have heard more about this.

(Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at 11:30 PM EST)

 

 

 

A note on my legal name, nickname, author name, domain names, and blog names

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I did want to note that the two legacy domains (doaskdotell.com and billboushka.com) are both working on Verio’s new servers, but the old WordPress technology blog (posts through 2010) no longer functions there.

I did save most of the postings in text and I believe I will simply add them on my “free” WordPress account. (Some are available now, see last link on Nov. 28 post).

I also have an old IT resume site    “John W. Boushka” is my legal name, and since the W. stands for “William”, “Bill” became the nickname that my parents gave me. “Bill” is the name I’ve used for my authored books.

I do have a potential issue down the road with these two names.  I had set up my Facebook account as “John W. Boushka” in 2010 under the belief that Facebook required legal names.  Facebook now says that the use of nicknames for accounts is OK as long as they are logically associated with the real name and are in everyday use (policy).   I have also have a blog (on Blogger) called “Bill Boushka” (on Blogspot), which is equated to “billbouska.me”, to separate it from “billboushka.com”.   I may not need the little 2006 “billboushka.com” site (I’ll decide in early 2017), and want to use it for the Blogger domain.  I hope I don’t have a trademark issue because I use “two names”.  But that’s all because of my practice on Facebook, which I had though was required in the past.  (For Twitter my account name is “JBoushka” based on John).

I could get rid of the “John W.” resume site (in 2017) , as I no longer need it (I no longer seek conventional IT jobs).  I could use only “Bill” for domain names since that is how my books are known (again, branding).  Likewise, three of my WordPress domains (besides this one) start with “Bill’s”.  But I would still have a problem in being known publicly as “John W” on Facebook.

My understanding is that the older Facebook policy probably was not totally commensurate with trademark law as usually understood by ICANN and for domain names.

I could consider embellishing the design of “Bill” with a graphic to create a “trade dress”.  For example, Milo Yiannopoulos uses a nice trade dress for his first name.

A repository of footnotes for my DADT books and other stuff