A Prison Nurse’s look at Sandra Bland’s Death

Sandra Bland
by Paul Spector RN, EMT-P, CPT. U.S. ARMY Ret.

I worked as an RN in a California State Prison where staged “suicides” occurred regularly. I fought for my patients, know how the cover-up works and have some insights. In 2012, I was hit by a truck, so this paper is done with a lot of help, individuals risking jobs and lives.

Behind badges and Rank, Sociopaths lurk in American prisons. Cameras are their enemy.
With scant information, some of our conclusions will be proven wrong. As more is known, we feel there will be more lies, inconsistencies and abuse uncovered. With more data will come more clarity, but the Code of Silence must be penetrated.

Prison deaths from mistreatment are mislabeled “suicide”, allowing continued abuse and avoiding lawsuits. I’ve spent 8 years trying to stop the practice that killed Sandra Bland.

Sandra’s capture, abuse and lynching is a hate crime. Usually the facts are buried with the bodies, thousands of bodies, but this is Sandra Bland, Star of Sandy Speaks.

In prison, infliction of mental and physical agony on helpless captives provides sexual pleasure to sick individuals. No penetration is needed, violent predators value power and control more. Sandra’s treatment, particularly isolation, are techniques found in CIA prisons and Guantanamo Bay. They are unbearable and leave no marks. The UN calls it torture.

A big sociopathic thrill is causing the victim so much pain they kill themselves. At my prison, CMC, a sociopath’s playground, practiced professionals using drug overdoses combined with agony in a setting of strict isolation and neglect were used to induced “suicide”. Often the target is provided with a sharp object or a plastic bag. It’s still not suicide. Sometimes though, it’s a murder made to look like suicide.

From the beginning, your driving is fine. Officer Encinia, spots you and does a U turn. Driving his cruiser aggressively, you pull over, unaware he is a predator. His act is for the camera, smoothly creating and escalating a confrontation to disguise your kidnapping as an arrest. He plans to assault you, this is about power and control, not your driving or your cigarette.

Using threats and a weapon Sandra is forced from her car. Everything that follows is for the entertainment of her abductors and has nothing to do with lawful detention whatsoever. After stealing your phone and removing you from camera range the coward attacks. Wearing a sheet, he might be OK with video but he needed the uniform to trick Sandra into surrendering.

The attack is vicious. Serious pain from metal cuffs and a wrist twist forces her to pull away, a practiced technique, part of a take-down. Following you to the ground, straddling you with knee on your spine and neck is the stuff of bondage and humiliation pornography, as is his screaming at you to stop fighting as he inflicts the worst pain of your life.

This sick scenario is experienced primarily by sexual assault victims. I’ve treated these injuries in ER’s, they are consistent with gang rape. Like Sandra, not all such victims survive. Totally inappropriate here of course. Even without penetration, this is a savage, ultimately fatal, sexual assault.

He enslaves your body but not your spirit. That’s why he pounded your head into the ground. When terror and agony couldn’t break you, he went after your mind. A smart, strong Black Woman had no place in his world so he tried to kill you. He was afraid you would Speak.

Others joined in assaulting you off-camera, trusting the “code of silence” to protect them. You now need an ambulance. As an ER nurse and a paramedic, I’m angry your request is denied. Confused and injured, your booking photo reflects trauma, both physical and psychological.

Isolation is used in N. Korea to break POW’s. Victims like Michelle Knight say it’s worse than the beatings, rapes, and starvation. It causes brain damage. Forcing Sandra to endure this additional torture was as cruel and unusual a punishment as can be imagined. It was, in fact, a death sentence, no trial needed.

My patients were regularly poisoned with Gabapentin and other drugs. Your THC ingestion in jail is poisoning too, even if you took it willingly. Cavity searched, you take nothing in and eat what they give you or be force fed. Pot didn’t contribute to your death but may have made you easier to kill and pin your death on drugs. Blaming pot for your death indicates desperation.

The plastic bag, one of the few items in your cell, is too convenient and is not supposed to be there. Deadly as a gun or knife, don’t be fooled or misled, it’s not incompetence, not a mistake, it’s a weapon. It’s there for a reason. Everyone working in prison knows this. Suicided for a traffic ticket! This SCREAMS setup.

3 days and your wounds are still filled with dirt, infected. No TD shot? Pain or fever meds? Antibiotics? Neosporin? Ice? X-rays for your wrist’s, arm, shoulder, ribs and neck? A band-aid? Lab work? A CT after the bad man, happy you had epilepsy, pounded your head into the ground? Ariel Castro took better care of his victims, as, sadly, did most slave owners.

The intake forms with questions on depression, suicide. Who filled them out? It should have been done with medical staff, but they would have treated your wounds, seen you were too traumatized to sign, corrected discrepancies, set up 15 minute checks, a suicide watch and seizure precautions at the very least. Ignoring dozens of cuts? There is no possible excuse, this paperwork reflects not just incompetence but intentional deceit.

In death, your body appears to be dehydrated, probably from neglect, fever, and internal injuries. Video shows guards drinking bottled spring water in front of you! At CMC disabling the sink to force victims to use the toilet for drinking induced dehydration. Using physical and psychological abuse, they sickened and tortured you beyond human understanding.

Fellow prisoners were prevented from cleaning your wounds or God forbid, comforting you. Exchanging your pretty dress for ugly “pepto pink”, Officer Encinia gave your broken body to his co-workers, lying in his report. He doesn’t want you to Speak. Not ever.

An unbroken chain of cruelty striped you, a Champion of Freedom, of all Freedom. From smoking a cigarette to breathing air, no life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness for you. To these uncaring monsters it’s a fun sport, a prison lynching they fully expect to get away with.

Nothing to do with a traffic ticket or cowardly Officer Encinas’s “injuries”, these are the actions of sociopaths and racists. Armed, violent predators using badges as a weapon. Events during and after your killing are the result of planning. It is even possible you were targeted before the phony traffic stop as Officers can track plates.

Locking you in a room with a dead phone and a garbage bag was intentional. Effective in separating you from your loved ones and rescue. The nonworking phone also justifies taking you to other locations, supposedly out of “kindness” but it’s a ruse. If you were removed from camera view, I suspect the worst.

At CMC this would mean humiliation and “phone book” therapy – beatings with objects that leave no mark. Waterboarding and other airway obstruction techniques, like suffocation with a plastic bag are popular and also leave no marks. The rule is keep silent or it will happen again.

In California, Doctors incorrectly certifying “suicides” are paid by the State, Texas seems no different. The organization responsible for the racist Sheriff, Officer Encinia and the incredibly negligent prison staff is given every opportunity to do a through, professional job of tampering with the evidence.

The fact your body did not show signs of a violent struggle is meaningless. Drugged or unconscious, restrained or not, the captive is 100% helpless. Use of a plastic bag to make murder look like suicide is a known prison technique. As a suicide method it’s hard to do with 2 good arms, beyond her now limited physical abilities, not part of Sandra’s knowledge base.

No defensive wounds will be found if the killers are prison workers. A big part of the game is “proving” they are smarter than the law by getting away with it. The FBI teaches them evidence procedure. Gloves on, killing with a plastic bag is easy, no prints, no struggling, no evidence.

Filled with purpose Sandra, release at hand, about to start your dream job, be reunited with your loved ones, your mission and your camera phone, you had zero motive for suicide. For you, it’s party time. Your abusers have the problem. They can’t let you Speak, a potent motive for murder.

Your faith in God, your life’s mission to make Black Lives Matter, made you, like Joan of Arc, unbreakable, a Warrior of epic proportions. With over 30 years experience, including in a Forensic State Mental Hospital, I assure you this is not and, for numerous reasons, could not, be suicide. Her death is a setup, staged. Sandra was kidnapped, violently assaulted and killed. She did not take her own life with a planted garbage bag!

Prisons excel in cover-ups. False reports and coordinated lies now discredit Law Enforcement Nationwide. Black Lives continue to slip away as Grand Jury’s look away. Supported by tax dollars, teams of lawyers and military hardware, the carnage will not be stopped by bad publicity or wishful thinking – not in Waller County, Texas, State Prisons or anywhere else

Capitalism, the greatest set of lies ever told…

Economic prosperity has been engineered out of our society except for the top .01% during the Lost Decade.

This article was written in response to this series of articles on Medium. You can follow the link for the main article thread. I took umbrage at this last assumption:

“The free market has lifted more billions out of poverty than any thing done by anyone in the past two thousand years. Governments, usually autocratic, sometimes despotic and occasionally democratic (see Greece, Venezuela etc) have caused far more harm to working people than supposedly evil capitalism.”

Yes, the “free markets” have lifted more billions (of dollars) out of “poverty that they created” than any other form of government in the history of the world. Yes, the engine of capitalism is only too happy to:

  • Destroy millions of lives to claim the land of early America in order to gain economic strength against the Old World. Native Americans are one of the first near-genocides which make the United States the economic powerhouse it is today.

  • Enslave Africans for free labor to power the economic engine of the early United States giving it access to economic leverage unable to be matched by any other nation. The US maintained this dominance for at least three hundred years by not having to pay wages for any of this economic power gained by slavery.

These first two stellar examples of capitalism create the foundation for the great economic advantage enjoyed by the United States for centuries.

  • This economic advantage is perpetuated by the United States economic dominance of other nations after World War II when most nations where war was held were forced to rebuild, the United States was happily able to profit because little or none of the war happened on US soil. Nor did the United States suffer the devastating losses in life that many other nations did during the war.

  • Manipulate the media to control what people know about how millionaires make their money and keep the general knowledge of money market manipulations, graft and corruption, insider trading, political machinations (See: ALEC) which enrich select members of our society.(See: Koch Industries, Walmart, Wall Street Banks)
  • Create economic engines using legislation to bust unions and prevent workers from having better pay, safer work environments and the ability to pay bills with only one full-time job (with benefits) rather than three part-time ones (without benefits)
  • Boast of their profit margins being the greatest in the history of the free world while paying their workers stagnating or even diminishing wages while the top .01% happily scamper away with billions of dollars in profit and unpaid taxes while storing their wealth in overseas banks.
  • Capitalize off of the cheapest labor it can find even if it has to first impoverish a nation so it can then profit from it. (See: most modern free trade agreements)
  • Create poverty in a system of government by creating false divisions between groups in order to profit from the dissent caused as a by-product (American GIs returning from World War II were given completely different opportunities depending on their race. White GIs could buy property in many major cities where Black GIs could not. Decades later that economic disparity allowed generations of Whites to leverage their homes as a means of sending their children to college and better economic opportunities for later generations while Black GIs had none of these options except in a few states of the union. Later these cities became areas of urban poverty such as Detroit.)
  • Manipulate markets in order to create profit using questionable ethics and mathematical models (see: 2008 economic recession, HSBC money laundering for criminal cartels, Wall Street Banks bailout and subsequent payouts to CEOs and executives)
  • Utilizing privatization of public services, resources, and land to profit from the commons being sold to the highest bidder while providing the lowest quality of care or support for said services. (See: Prison industrial complex and the trillion dollar waste of the War on Drugs.)
  • The greatest boondoggle of the free world is the US’s Military Industrial Complex (and the defense contractors who profit handsomely — See: Haliburton profits from Iraq War) from the United States preference for perpetual warfare, incursions into other nations (exploiting their natural resources, creating dissent, the support of dictators until they become inconvenient — See: Saddam Hussein) and military spending eclipsing all other forms of spending in the nation.

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All told, the U.S. government spent about $718 billion on defense and international security assistance in 2011 — more than it spent on Medicare. That includes all of the Pentagon’s underlying costs as well as the price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which came to $159 billion in 2011. It also includes arms transfers to foreign governments. — Washington Post
  • And many, many other examples of exploitation, extermination, and big businesses ability to ignore externalities caused by their corporate and economic abuse of the capitalist model.

Yes, capitalism has done a lot for the world (and could have done a whole lot more) but not because it was benevolent or because it is an effective means of sharing the wealth because in most cases, as it is practiced in most of the world, it is neither.

Capitalism as a model is designed to keep fantastic wealth in the hands of few and varying degrees of poverty for everyone else.

Capitalism in its current form rewards those with money to leverage the system for their benefit, avoid any form of jurisprudence which might hold them accountable for the destruction of the environment, abuse of the people affected by their machinations or responsibility to anyone for the devastation left by the wars which enrich and power those elite enough to not have to worry about sending their children to war.

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. – Washington Post

Let’s not brag about Capitalism as if it was some holy grail of goodness making the world a better place because when you look around, if you are rich enough, you know where the bodies are buried for your incredible wealth to exist. And have the money to keep the secrets necessary for it to be a success story claiming no one got hurt in the process.

Bison were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground.

<drops mike, walks away.>

With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories like Daredevil’s even significant?

My @Quora answer to With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories …

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

#ALL_LIVES_MATTER

Daredevil's stories matter for the same reasons your story matters. President Obama gets more press in a day than most of us will get in a lifetime. Does that mean our lives matter less, to us?

Comic companies are always forced to ask the question: If I have cosmic stories with beings who are like gods, can alter the very fabric of reality, shape matter and energy at will, why should a guy who beats up muggers get the same kind of treatment in the comics?

Because to the guy struggling to pay his bills who experiences a mugging one day and loses a month's pay, that is a world-shaking event. His life is rocked. Screw the cosmos, how will I feed my family, pay my rent, get to work without money? This man needs a hero, too. Someone who relates to life at his scale.

You see, Peter Parker relates to the common man. The average fellow on the street may not know WHO Spider-Man is but he knows he cares. He's relatable. Spider-Man stops to save construction workers from the sides of buildings. Helps women getting mugged in alleys. Protects the common citizen from the most extraordinary of problems, in a way people can relate to.

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When people meet Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Superman, these guys are awesome. Full of awe. Far removed from the common man's experience. They are like gods. You don't relate to gods. You tend to worship them. Their story is one of aspiration, you aspire to be like them but you recognize they are distinct from you, the same way you are distinct from your pets.

The common man is looking for something a bit more down to Earth. Daredevil is his hero. Batman is his hero. Spider-Man is his hero. These guys may play in the Big Leagues, but remember the little guy in all of this. They work first hand with the people, not as a concept, but as a concrete reality.

Yes, they can be scary too. That is part of their mystique. But ask the people whose lives they change with their "small" acts of heroic bravery and they will all tell you about their encounter with one of those "little" heroes.

It's not the scale of the hero, its not the cut of his jib, its not the flash of his cape. It's the moment when he helps someone figure out what matters in their lives. A moment of self discovery. A moment of transformation. A moment of something bigger than they are.

It's a problem heroes have been contending with for a long time. And one not easy to shake. Ask Green Lantern:

It's the story that matters, the same way the ancient tales of Hercules and Odysseus matter. Hercules was a hero whose strength was legendary and though his tales told often of his strength, he was known for his challenges, his drunken rages, his inability to forgive, his moral failings were ultimately his undoing.

Odysseus lacking the brawn of the former was forced to be clever, to learn from his opponents, to out-think his foes. Stories are for the people reading them, seeking to find new ways of thinking, new ways of being. Sometimes we fight against the world from the position of Hercules, confident in our power and ability to protect ourselves.

And sometimes we have to fight like Odysseus using our wits, planning ahead, thinking tactically when our enemies are simply more powerful than we can overcome.

Stories both great and small, of heroes whose power rivals stars and mere men whose feet are made of clay both can teach us how to be. They can help us, define us.

#ALL_STORIES_MATTER

With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories like Daredevil's even significant?

How to Solve America’s Biggest Problems with Bernie Sanders!

Bernieclass-full If you’re new to my blog, you may wonder who that young firebrand challenging the political status quo is. His name is Bernie Sanders and he is running for President. Some of you may be discovering who Bernie Sanders is for the very first time, and this is okay. Bernie Sanders is one of those best kept secrets, a politician who has both a brain and a heart. Compassionate to a fault, Sanders is one of the few politicians who is neither beholden to corporate interests nor concerned about catering to corporate economic dismantling of the dwindling “middle class” in America. I came to know about Bernie Sanders a number of years ago through a podcast/YouTube broadcast called The Thom Hartmann show, where Bernie Sanders meets with Thom on Fridays to discuss the issues of the nation. Bernie takes calls, answers questions and challenges issues that need challenging, in plain language, no BS, no filler.

A junior senator of Vermont, Sanders considered himself an Independent, working neither of the major parties and sometimes finding fault with both. He’s been a senator since 2007 and has been involved in politics since 1979. I’m not going to spend a lot of time going through Bernie Sander’s political history, that’s what Wikipedia is for. What I will say is this: if you have read my blog, particularly the entries on politics, political funding, educational funding, prison advocacy and other ideas which promote equality and opportunity in this nation, you will see Bernie Sanders and I agree on almost EVERY level.

If I were Frankenstein seeking to create the perfect politician to run for office on the ideals I believe this nation should be supporting, I would have created Bernie Sanders (I might have made him a bit younger) but I suspect, should Bernie win, the energy and vitality he has brought to his job as Senator Sanders will only increase as President Sanders. I plan to transcribe this speech when I don’t have as many deadlines pending. Listen to it while you are doing something else if you’re really busy, but listen to it. He is talking about the things few, if any politicians are saying today, things that need saying and changing. If he should win the Democratic nomination, I would vote for him without hesitation (and if he could convince Elizabeth Warren to run as vice president) it would be the most fantastic nomination ticket in the history of the United States, or at least since Senator Barack Obama…

Published on Apr 11, 2015

Watch Bernie and be inspired! Vermont’s Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks on topics from climate change to income inequality in a Town Hall Meeting in Austin, Texas, on March 31st, 2015.

The Town Hall Meeting discussion items includes: How to . . . 1) Overturn Citizens United and Get Big Money Out of Politics; 2) Deal with Obscene Wealth and Income Inequality. 3) Combat Climate Change. 4) Create Democracy NOT Oligarchy. Learn more at: http://BernieSanders.com Videography/Editing by Jeff Zavala, Grace Alfar and Ruwan Perera An Austin Indymedia Production http://austin.indymedia.org

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Secret Wars – Big Pimpin’ Marvel Style

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Welcome to Prequelandia: Where nothing really changes, so nothing really matters!

It has taken Marvel quite some time to get around to it. We’ve all wondered and waited for Marvel to take the leap. If you’re a reader of DC Comics you know what I’m talking about. Rebooting the Universe.

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Marvel has teased with it in the past. Age of Apocalypse,  House of M or the recent Brand New Day were stories which looked like they restarted the Marvel Universe by changing some element in the past by using time travel, chaos magic or some other uber-powerful magic or technology.

And each time the event was over, Marvel turned its primary universe, dubbed Earth-616 back to its normal self, warts and all. The offending universe was splintered off (if it was good and well received) and was given a Universal designation. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a designation of Earth-199999, for example. If a universe was not well-received or the event was short-lived, it might be erased from continuity completely. Strangely enough, unlike DC, Marvel embraced its shadow universes, giving designations to hundreds of them.

But they never appeared to seriously embrace the idea of rebooting/erasing Earth-616, the core canon Marvel Universe.

Now, Marvel has taken a page from the DC Handbook on “How to Restructure Your Universe in 3 Easy Reboots.”

The Marvel 616 Continuity is being erased.

Death of Earth-616

Goodbye history, goodbye relationships we have grown to know and love.

Goodbye ideas created by greater writers than the current crop of hacks could ever be. Will there be a chance for those minority heroes who were just starting to take off? Probably not. Who knows, they may reappear when the event is over but no less than 33 books are being shut down for the duration of SECRET WARS II.

But not to fear because Marvel, like DC has too much invested in the characters, but nothing in the readers. Comicbook.com has the entire list of books that are going to “end” for the duration of Secret Wars.

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What does this mean for the readers? We will get: New costumes, loads of new costumes for fanboys to scream and cry over, gnash their teeth at women getting pants, breast reductions and sensible shoes.  Creating new relationships between ideas which might have occurred 10-50 years apart, now they will be fused together in hellish symbiosis which will make absolutely no sense to anyone except the crazed hyper-caffeinated writer and editor who dreamed it up.

Exhibit number one: The daughter of Cyclops and Emma Frost: Ruby Summers

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Characters will be rebooted and will now have entirely new histories which will be aborning again, like a movie reboot where you have seen the origin half a dozen times but now this time we’ll get it right.

Dikto’s classic Spider-Man will be replaced with some super-amazing well-drawn, mega-realistic, soul-less cardboard cut-out. He may be black, he may be white, but we will return to the beginning of his career (or maybe not) it’s all so Secret (Wars). Or perhaps we will have the dimension-crossing Spider-Gwen or the enigmatic Silk to create Spider-Man and his Amazing Spider-Friends!

Asgardians, gods or aliens (or both)? Mutants, 200 or 2 million? Magneto, Omega or not-Omega, Nick Fury, white or Black? Will it be SHIELD or HYDRA or AIM or maybe a fusion of all three: SHYAME?

What about Hercules? Poor bastard always played second fiddle to Thor, then he was erased and replaced with a Chinese young man named Cho whose super-power was hyper-calculation. What a low blow…

Eternals, Deviants, Mutants, Inhumans, Galactus, Watchers, Soul Gems – So many amazing threads over the decades are in the hands of a group of people who have not proven adult enough to handle even one of these themes well…(Franklin Richard’s makes Galactus HIS herald? Need I say more?)

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Celestials turned over in their stasis chambers and Eternity closed the comic shaking his/her/its damn head.

How fitting this reboot should be based around the product that made Marvel the most money, started the horror of extended comic events and created the most loathed character in comics, The Beyonder. Okay, maybe he wasn’t the MOST loathed, but I couldn’t stand him and when he finally disappeared from the Marvel Universe, I gave a hearty cheer. I wonder, does this mean he’s back too? Ugh.

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I can foresee nothing good coming from this event because like DC’s New52 Marvel will not address any of the underlying problems in its universe. There will still be too many white guys, white aliens and white metahumans who will lord their powers over the Marvel Universe reminding minorities of their place. There will be too few women in positions of interest and authority waiting to be rescued from refrigerators.

This is purely a money grab. Since new readers don’t care about continuity, this means Marvel can reboot, restart and throw out stuff that might not make any sense to them any more and cater to an audience who knows nothing, has no history and can maybe try to bring order to its chaotic universe.

Hey Marvel, ask DC how that’s worked for them so far…

Intervention Time: Marvel, you make decent movies. This wasn’t always true, but since you founded the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I blame that on Joss Whedon. Your comic line, which you have admitted is nothing more than a gateway drug to your movie industry has suffered lately. You are not impressing me with going back to the Secret Wars to correct the problem.

You remind me of an old pimp wearing the suits he used to wear in his heyday, thirty years ago, strutting through the neighborhood where he used to be King and having people shaking their head wondering who this crazy person is, shouting “They better have my money.”

Yeah. It’s just like that.

I’m like Thor, I’m outta here.

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I Quit! – ‘My profession … no longer exists’

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FROM THE DAILY KOS (But I so endorse every word!)

Teacher’s resignation letter: ‘My profession … no longer exists’
Valerie Strauss April 6, 2013

Increasingly teachers are speaking out against school reforms that they believe are demeaning their profession, and some are simply quitting because they have had enough.
Here is one resignation letter from a veteran teacher, Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, N.Y.:

Mr. Casey Barduhn, Superintendent
Westhill Central School District
400 Walberta Park Road
Syracuse, New York 13219

Dear Mr. Barduhn and Board of Education Members:

It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than twenty-seven years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.

As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I know that I have been fortunate to work with a small core of some of the finest students and educators on the planet.

I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation.

With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that  “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised.

STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.

A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian.

This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?

My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.

Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven. Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.

After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.

For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.

Sincerely and with regret,

Gerald J. Conti
Social Studies Department Leader
Cc: Doreen Bronchetti, Lee Roscoe
My little Zu.

This is not from me. This was eloquently written by a true expert in their field whom everyone should listen to, educator, Gerald J. Conti. I picked it up from an article in the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss. Read it and learn…there will be a test after.

Why do Japanese have blue eyes and blond hair in anime?

A Question from

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Answered by Martin Schneider:

Keep in mind that anime follows a complex visual language, where seemingly innocuous elements carry deeper meaning. And hair color is among the first and foremost, especially when dealing with female characters.

Meaning that in most cases, the color of an anime character’s hair does not reflect some natural hair color or a racial stereotype – instead, it is supposed to be a hint towards their personality and their role in the plot.

I guess it’s high time for yet another crash course in anime hair color symbolism… take a seat.


Yellow hair:

The most widespread meaning is simply “someone special”. This holds especially true for shoujo (for girls) manga/anime titles, where you can pretty safely bet that the most important female lead will be blonde. Occasionally, it can also signify “the rude/inconsiderate foreigner”, for example a non-Japanese character with an abrasive or rude personality – but that’s more of an exception than the rule.

Blue hair:

…typically signifies a quiet, softspoken, intellectual, sometimes even introverted character – albeit often one with a surprisingly strong will. In addition, such characters tend to get portrayed as refined, tradition-oriented and feminine, quite often even as examples of the Yamato Nadeshiko ideal.

Red hair:

…strongly suggests a tomboyish, inconsiderate, loud, often headstrong, “leader” archetype. This character will often charge ahead and/or speak her mind without holding back. In the extreme case, this behavior will go all the way to the point of acting rash or even stupid. Also tend to have voracious appetites.
Note: agressive shades of orange pretty much fall into the same category.

(Bright) Green hair:

Mostly extinct these days – but bright green hair is most often the sign of the “genki girl”, another comedy-oriented character archetype. Such a character is chipper, upbeat, active, sports-minded and energetic. However, unlike a redhead, this character is more feminine and less prone to blindly rushing ahead – and usually displays normal or above-average levels of intelligence.
Note: darker shades of green typically carry similar connotations as “blue”.

Purple hair:

Also near-extinct – at least when it comes to intense shades of purple. What is still somewhat common, however, is characters with lighter/paler shades of purple. These almost always come with long, flowing hair and typically signify some sort of detached, noble, cultured, dainty, often even mysterious, “fantasy princess” archetype.

Pink hair:

Ah yes, pink. The one color that has undergone the strongest shift since the beginning of my anime career. Originally, this color was rare, and reserved for a select few childlike characters. But then… the moe phenomenon happened. And made this color the industry standard for dozens of “cutesy-moe-female-leads”. Today pink hair is pretty much everywhere… yet some of the attributes have carried over. Even today, pink characters still tend to be not very bright, somewhat innocent, naive – and often idealistic to the point of being silly.

Brown hair:

Brown stands for “warm+friendly normal” and is the most common “day-to-day-life side character” haircolor. Similar to black, the underlying message is not very strong – still, brown is most popular for longtime childhood friends, or all sorts of “safe/reliable” love-interests. Characters with this hair color tend to play some role in the plot, and be close friends of the leads, but they still represent normality and following social expectations… sometimes to the point of being boring.

Black hair:

Being the most widespread Japanese hair color, this does not nearly carry a meaning as strongly predefined as most others – in fact, it can simply mean “the everybody”. However, in cases when the character has long, flowing black hair, it can be intended as a shorthand for “noble lady / Japanese princess / idol of the whole school” characters. In that respect, it sometimes once again overlaps with the Yamato Nadeshiko notion.


Surprised that you didn’t find “white” in the list, yet? Well, that is because luminance/brightness is typically on an orthogonal scale to the various colors above…

Simply put, the brightness of a character’s hair communicates how down-to-earth<–>otherworldly a character is. The darker a color, the more that character lives in the here and now – and the brighter, the more esoteric, distant, magical and surreal he/she is…

With the extreme version of that trope, signifying “utter otherworldliness”, being plain white:


Disclaimer: The archetypes listed here describe the stereotypical expectations that characters of a certain hair color will incite in an experienced audience of anime viewers. But guess what, sometimes the industry dares to *gasp* subvert expectations. In other words, these are strong, recurring patterns – but not hard-and-fast, immutable rules.


TL;DR:
Hair color in anime carries an intended meaning – and that meaning will typically easily override any sort of “normal” coloring that you would expect in terms of “realism”. As such, in most cases, it is futile to try to interpret any anime hair color as being a representative of some real-world race/hair color.

Why do Japanese have blue eyes and blond hair in anime?