Petition to Restore Local Control to All Arkansas Schools Now Suffering Under State Control


I wrote a petition the night before last, on It has surprised some people by how very right-wing it sounds, and I’d like to take this chance to respond to that criticism.

There’s an old saying, based on a mixture of truth and stereotype, that people over age 30 who are aren’t liberals have no heart, but people over age 30 who aren’t conservatives have no brain. I am neither liberal nor conservative (and certainly not a Democrat nor a Republican), so, if this saying is true, I must have no heart, nor brain, myself, since I am over 30 years old . . . right?

Wait, that can’t be true; I need both a heart and a brain to type! I guess, then, that I do have both, but somehow, politically, the two interfere with each other, cancel each other out, or something like that. I’d like to think that this allows me to “cherry-pick” the good ideas which exist within liberalism and conservatism, both — and also allows me to disagree with the unreasonable ideas found in both political camps.

Anyway, if you’ve been wondering how I could write something that sounds as right-wing as this petition, now you know: as a neo-Jeffersonian (my own political label, which I invented myself), I’m free to use right- or left-wing arguments if, and only if, they make sense to me. The “end taxation without representation” argument, for restoring local control to Arkansas schools now suffering under state control, is certainly one with which I agree. Because of where we live, we are one of the many families being taxed for public schools, but without any representation by an elected school board to govern those very same schools. This is an issue that was supposed to be settled by the American Revolution. Not only is taxation without representation unfair and unethical, it is also un-American.

Here is a link to the petition. Especially if you live in Arkansas, please follow the link, and read it, at least. If you agree with it, I then ask that you sign it, add comments if you wish, and share it with others — especially any Arkansas voters you know. I will not, of course, ask anyone to sign something with which they disagree.

The fact is that this mess of state-controlled public schools, in Arkansas, was created on the Democrats’ watch. That is easily verifiable. The previous Democratic Governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe, could have easily put an end to this madness, had he chosen to, but he failed to do so, even when asked to by over 1,500 people, in an earlier petition-drive, several years ago.

Last November, Republicans swept the mid-term elections here, and now control the governor’s mansion, both houses of our state legislature, and our state’s entire delegation to Congress. Less than a week ago, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson replaced a previous Commissioner of Education, appointed by his Democratic predecessor, with a new Commissioner of his own choosing, Mr. Johnny Key. It was under a previous Commissioner of Education that the last such state-takeover of a school district (the Little Rock School District) happened. Commissioner Key may not be the most popular person in Arkansas at the moment, especially among Democrats, but my inclination is to give the man a chance to demonstrate that he can do a better job than his recent predecessors.

A new party is in power now. This petition asks them to fix a serious mistake made by the other party. As it is petitioning two Republican leaders in our state, Gov. Hutchinson and Commissioner Key, it is more likely to succeed if it uses conservative arguments. That’s another reason I wrote it the way it is written: simple pragmatism. Make no mistake, though — I do agree with every word of it, or I would not have written it in the first place.

[Note: Although I am a public school teacher, and the Little Rock School District is mentioned above, the LRSD is not the school district where I teach. However, my school district is also one of the ones suffering under state control — it was taken over several years ago — so I have seen, first-hand, that state control simply doesn’t work to improve schools, for reasons explained in the petition itself.]

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Phobias? What phobias?

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893

It just occurred to me that there are an absurd number of common phobias, such as claustrophobia or acrophobia, for which I have the polar opposite — an unusual attraction to the commonly-feared thing or situation. (Since I am no stranger to anxiety, so this is rather odd.) Claustrophobics fear enclosed spaces, while those with acrophobia fear heights. If someone told me that a sensory deprivation tank was available for my use, atop the nearest mountain, I’d drive straight there, climb the mountain, get in the tank, and seal myself in for hours, for two reasons: I love being in enclosed spaces, and also absolutely love heights. Combining the two would be awesome!

There is a proper word-ending for the opposite of a phobia, of course: “-philia.” Unfortunately, though, use of words which end with -philia is problematic, due to the fact that the most often-used words with this ending refer to criminal acts. There’s nothing wrong with the words “claustrophilia,” nor “acrophilia,” to a linguistic purist. To a pragmatist, though — which I am — the undesirable effect of reminding the reader of such horrors as pedophilia must be taken into account. For this reason, I find it preferable to state that I have the opposite of both claustrophobia, and acrophobia.

In alphabetical order, then, here are some common phobias for which I have the polar opposite:

  • Acrophobia, fear of heights — See first paragraph, above.
  • Aerophobia, fear of flying — Just being a passenger on an airplane is thrilling, especially at take-off. Once, at about age twelve, I actually got to take the controls of a small plane for a little while, and that will remain one of the peak experiences of my life.
  • Ailurophobia, fear of cats — We have cats, and I’ve had cats all my life. I admire their “cattitudes,” for one thing; they are somewhat like my own.
  • Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders — I try my best to protect every spider I see, wear a spider necklace, have a spider tattoo, and have spider-decorations in my classroom year-round, just because I like spiders that much.
  • Atychiphobia, fear of failure — If I had this, I would never begin work on any challenging math problem, and . . . well, what would be the point of existing like that?
  • Autophobia, fear of being alone — The fact that I traveled over 11,000 km, alone, in my late teens, proves I don’t have this problem.
  • Barophobia, fear of gravity — A bad idea for anyone with mass! If I had it, I wouldn’t be writing this, for I’d be too busy freaking out. All. The. Time.
  • Bibliophobia, fear of books — Yeah, well, I can’t even narrow down my favorite-author list to fewer than four, as seen here.
  • Claustrophobia, fear of enclosed spaces — See first paragraph, above.
  • Cyberphobia, fear of computers — Wow, that would make it difficult to maintain a blog!
  • Glossophobia, fear of speaking in public — As a teacher, I actually get paid to run my mouth, so this one is . . . out!
  • Gynophobia, fear of women — They may scare a lot of lawmakers, judging from the political “war against women” in America, but I’ve always preferred the company of women to that of men (sorry, guys).
  • Islamophobia, fear/hatred of Muslims and Islam — I’ve blogged about this; you can find those posts here.
  • Melanophobia, fear of the color black — My favorite color!
  • Negrophobia, fear of Black people — It’s a common affliction where I live, this being the American South, but I couldn’t do my job if I had this problem, for a majority of my students are Black. I can’t think of any reason why a person’s albedo, high or low, should be a problem for me. I’m not allergic to melanin, after all, and have viewed racism as evil since I first became aware of it, as a child.
  • Nyctophobia, fear of darkness and night — If I could get away with it, I would be completely nocturnal.
  • Ombrophobia, fear of rain — I don’t even own an umbrella.
  • Ophidiophobia, fear of snakes — Have you ever had a twenty-minute stand-off with a copperhead? I have. I was probably fifteen or so at the time. My reasoning: running toward or away from the snake might be dangerous, and walking away wasn’t an option, since I was standing on a rock in the middle of a river, with the snake on the next rock — so I held my ground, and simply stayed on “my” rock. The snake did the same on his rock, for about twenty minutes, and then it jumped into a river and swam away, ending the standoff. This wouldn’t have been possible with ophidiophobia.
  • Triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number thirteen — Why would anyone fear a number, especially one of the smaller primes? Wouldn’t that mean not being able to count more than a dozen things at once? There’s plenty of evidence on this blog that numbers don’t scare me.

The next time anxiety is a problem for me, I’ll try to remember to think about this list of anxiety-problems I don’t have, but which do affect many other people. I could certainly have it worse when it comes to anxiety, and it harms nothing to keep that in mind. In fact, it might even help.

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My Impressions, Upon Wearing a CPAP Machine, at Home, for the First Time

I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. As a result, I now have a CPAP machine, on me and running, for the first time at home. The headgear reminds me of the uniform Alex Summers wears, as Havok of the X-Men, except that his nose isn’t covered, as mine is. I also have shown no ability to focus the energy from cosmic rays at targets of my choice, or anything remotely like that . . . at least not yet.


Others seem to think I look a tad more ridiculous, however.

As far as how I sound, I literally have to keep my big mouth shut for this thing to work, so my wife (without whose help I couldn’t have gotten into this contraption) always gets the last word now. (Also last snicker, etc., as she just pointed out to me, happy that she can talk, without risk of interruption, for a change.) As she was putting it on, though, I talked as much as I could, until she reminded me that I’m not supposed to talk while, um, “CPAPping.” However, my last bit of chatter for the night sounded like Darth Vader doing an impersonation of Stephen Hawking.


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My Personal Endorsement of Cathy Koehler for AEA Vice-President / NEA-RA Delegate

My friend, Cathy Knox Koehler,​ is the president of the LREA, the union of teachers & support staff in the Little Rock School District, which was taken over quite recently by the State of Arkansas.

Since my own employer, the neighboring Unmentionable¹ School District, had this happen almost four years ago, and our own unions have suffered greatly as a direct consequence of this state takeover, I’d like to do what I can to support and help the LREA in their current, all-to-familiar-to-me situation.

Well, I just found something I can do, toward this goal — I just voted to help Cathy become the Vice-President of the AEA (Arkansas Education Association), and also send her, as an AEA delegate, to the NEA-RA in Orlando, where she can work on getting help with this problem (states taking over school districts), as well as bring the problem to the attention of others, nationwide, who have not (yet) experienced it.

I’m asking my fellow AEA members to vote for her as well, which you can do at this website. The voting deadline is 5:00 pm on April 13, 2015. To vote, you will need your voter ID number from your membership card.


¹This unmentionability is a result of my employer’s Social Media Policy; I’m not allowed to do anything which someone might construe as my speaking as a representative of my employer, so I don’t name them here, on my personal blog, to avoid having that happen.

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Using the Rhombic Dodecahedron and the Rhombic Enneacontahedron to Create a “Near Near-Miss” to the Johnson Solids

This is the rhombic dodecahedron, the dual of the Archimedean cuboctahedron.

Rhombic Dodeca

While the rhombic dodecahedron has 12 faces, there are many other polyhedra made entirely out of rhombi, and most of them have more than twelve faces. An example is the rhombic enneacontahedron, which has two face-types: sixty wide rhombi, and thirty narrow ones. It is one of several possible zonohedrified dodecahedra.

Zonohedrified Dodeca

As the next figure shows, the wide rhombi of the rhombic enneacontahedron have exactly the same shape as the rhombic dodecahedron’s faces, so the two polyhedra can be stuck together (augmented) at those faces. These wide rhombi have diagonals with lengths in a ratio of one to the square root of two.

Zonohedrified Dodeca with RD

The next picture shows what happens if you take one central rhombic enneacontahedron, and augment all sixty of its wide faces with rhombic dodecahedra.

Augmented Zonohedrified Dodeca

Since this polyhedral cluster in non-convex, it can be changed by creating its convex hull, which can the thought of as pulling a rubber sheet tightly around the entire polyhedron. Here’s the convex hull of the augmented polyhedron above.

Convex hull of RD-augmented REC

The program I use to make these rotating images, Stella 4d (which you can try here), has a function called “try to make faces regular.” If applied to the convex hull above, this function leaves the triangles and pentagon regular, and makes the octagons regular as well. However, the rhombi become kites. The rectangles merely change, getting slightly longer, while rotating 90º, but they do remain rectangles.

convex hull of RD-augmented REC after TTMFRegular worked on the octagons

After creating this last polyhedron, I started stellating it. After stellating it eight times, I obtained this polyhedron:


Once more, I applied the “try to make faces regular” function.

Unnamed after TTMFR

This polyhedron has five-valent vertices where the shorter edges of the kites meet. These are also the vertices of pentagonal pyramids which use kite-diagonals as base edges. By using faceting (the inverse operation of stellation), I next removed these pyramids, exposing their regular pentagonal faces.

Faceted Poly

In this polyhedron, all faces are regular, except for the red triangles, which are isosceles. (There are also triangles — the pink ones — which are regular.) Each of these isosceles triangles has ~63.2º base angles, and a ~53.6º vertex angle, with legs just under 11% longer than the base. This is a judgement call, for “near-miss” to the Johnson solids has not been precisely defined, but I see an ~11% edge-length difference as too great for this to be classified as a “near-miss,” even though I would love to claim discovery of another near-miss to the Johnson solids (if it even turns out I am the first one to find this polyhedron, which may not be the case). It is close to being a near-miss, though, so it belongs in the even-less-precisely defined group of polyhedra which are called, quite informally, “near near-misses.”

For the sake of comparison, here is a similar polyhedron (included in Stella 4d‘s enormous, built-in library of polyhedra) which is recognized as a near-miss to the Johnson solids. (I do not know the name of the person who discovered it, or I would include it here — I only know it wasn’t me.) It’s called the “half-truncated truncated icosahedron,” and its longest ledges are just over 7% longer than its shorter edges, with the non-regularity of faces also limited to isosceles triangles. However, this irregularity appears in all of the triangles in the polyhedron below — and in the “near near-miss above,” the irregularity only appeared is some of the triangular faces.

Half-trunc Trunc Icosa

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Icosidodecahedral Stained Glass

icosidodecahedral stained glass

Polyhedra are of the areas (there are at least a few others) where the fields of mathematics and art intersect. Stella 4d, the program I used to make this image, is a great tool for the exploration of this region of intersection. This software may be tried for free right here.

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A Polyhedron Featuring Octagons, Hexagons, and Pentagons, All Irregular

Convex hull of chiral pair compound of snub cube duals

I made this using Stella 4d, software which you can try for free right here.

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