Tag Archives: Los Angeles Times

Courage requires a thick skin

If you want everyone to like you, then you shouldn’t be a writer Steven King noted in his masterpiece on writing, On Writing.

Sensitivity often goes hand in hand with having a “thin skin,” keenly sensing others’ emotions. This election year has driven home to me that courageous individuals willing to fight for what they believe in are somehow able to withstand intense criticism, bullying, and sometimes even sabotage and hatred.

Today’s Los Angeles Times article, Soldier for the climate change cause, about scientist Ben Santer who is willing to get way out of his comfort zone, articulate the extreme significance of climate change, and subject himself to decades of intense criticism made my day.

There have been so many others. Michael Moore’s 5 Point Plan for 2017 is hilarious and practical.


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Filed under Democracy

Losing Out on Potential Teen Power — Our Curriculum is Costing Us

“It’s amazing that a kid can have an idea and end up serving other kids in the community,” said Nicole Peters, development associate of Door of Hope (Girl Scout’s project provides hope through hoops by Bill Plaschke).

The Jan. 22, 2016 Los Angeles Times article tells the story of Claire Dundee. She spent seven months earning her Girl Scout Gold Award by organizing a basketball court construction project at the Door of Hope apartment complex, which provides transitional living for women and children left homeless as a result of domestic violence.

“For kids going through trauma, to be able to do kid things, that’s such a big thing,” said Tim Peters, executive director of Door of Hope.

Why isn’t school more like this humanitarian teen’s project?

Claire gained estimating, project management, negotiating, fund raising, and event planning skills — sophisticated skills that can be transferred into the marketplace.

Not to mention confidence and the joy she gained from knowing that she was responsible for improving the lives of children whose young lives have already been scarred by poverty and violence.

Outdated Curriculum

Many teens nowadays are losing critical developmental years playing to their weak suit, academically advanced curriculum that emphasizes theory and memorization instead of problem solving and creativity. Figuring out how to pull off a project of the magnitude of Hoops for Hope involves a lot of creativity. Although we associate creativity with music, art, and theater, resourcefulness and problem solving demand creative thought processes.

Not everyone is wired to be an engineer, a medical doctor, or a professor. So why does our curriculum generally play to only two (linguistic and mathematical) of the eight intelligences? (According to Howard Gardner, there are eight intelligences: musical, spatial, linguistic, mathematical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic, and each individual has a blend of them.)

With the technology that exists today, teens could learn math, writing, software, interpersonal, and so many other skills while tackling community problems and the nuances of the marketplace. Foreign language skills could be cemented by engaging in joint projects with students in foreign countries.

The possibilities are endless. Instead of all but the most academic of teens emerging from high school in a sleep-deprived daze unsure of career options and with little self-knowledge, we could end up with most teens graduating high school engaged, community-oriented, and confident of their future.


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Filed under Education

The Power of NPR Radio and the Power of Denial

Sometimes hearing someone’s voice without seeing their image feels more intimate than seeing that someone in person or watching that someone on television.

Hearing Amity Bitzel on NPR describe the terror of surviving her father’s drunken rages and physical, mental, and emotional abuse…

…and then hearing him calmly deny her accounting of her childhood and mention horseback riding lessons and other privileges bestowed upon her startled me.  I wasn’t there, and there is no tangible way for her to prove her case.

  • I doubt he made up the horseback riding lessons.
  • I doubt she made up the drunken rages.

Healing from the psychic wounds of child abuse is a theme I explored in my novel and a theme that Nancy Werlin nailed in her novel Rules of Survival and Dave Pelzer depicted in his brutal memoir The Lost Boy.

Denial Mined as a Theme

David L. Ulin’s Jan 31, 2013 LA Times review of Christa Wolf’s novel A City of Angels includes a conversation Wolf had with a psychologist about her own experience forgetting wartime events and quotes the psychologist as saying, “A person can forget anything.  They need to, in fact.  Don’t you know this line from Freud:  We cannot live without forgetting,”

Radio is more a part of my life than TV or social media.  I listen to the radio when I drive, when I cook, when I write, when I’m relaxing with my children, and sometimes when I write.  National Public Radio, NPR, has become my connection to national and international events and more.


Filed under Mental Health and Addiction, Writing and Social Media