ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the May 3, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by Anthony Barrette. It also fills the "classic villain" square of my 4-1-16 card for the Archetypal Characters Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Education Is What Survives"


It was Jackie Frost and
her husband Fireheart who
spearheaded the movement
to establish a school for
superkids in Canada.

Their daughter Aurora was
still an infant, but they wanted
to lay the groundwork for
her education later.

They spoke to other parents
and other soups and those
who like themselves were both.

They spoke to day care workers
and teachers and principals.

They shared the statistics about
the rising rate of superpowers and
the falling age of manifestation.

"This is something that Canada
needs for the future," Jackie said.

"Ah, but whose future?"
purred a smooth, familiar voice.

"Everyone's," Jackie said through her teeth
as her nemesis Contretemps sidled out
of the crowd in his expensive suit.

"But that's not quite true," he replied.
"You're talking about diverting
quite a large amount of tax dollars
to a school for ... special needs.
That's hardly everyone, my dear."

"A school benefits all citizens by
teaching the children who will
shape our future," Jackie said.
"Education is what survives when
all your other hopes have died out."

Contretemps snorted.
"Education is what survives
when what has been learned
has been forgotten," he corrected.
"It's nothing but a fancy piece of paper.
Knowledge is what matters, and you
don't need a special school for that."

"We're not asking for much!"
Jackie said. "We just want
superkids to have the same kind
of opportunities that ordinary kids
enjoy: a school suited to their needs."

"Yes well, you're asking for 'not much'
to the tune of eighty million dollars of
hardworking Canadians' tax money,"
said Contretemps. "For half of that, we
could build a commercial development
more than twice as large -- with a hotel,
a conference center, a condominium row,
a 2-4 Store, and a central parking garage --
which would actually benefit everyone."

By then he was attracting attention,
which he always did, and Aurora
needed changing, so Jackie had
to abandon the floor in search
of a family washroom.

"How can a businessman be
a politician?" Fireheart said
as he walked alongside them.

"Bribery," Jackie said darkly.

It was a lot easier to fight Contretemps
when he was wearing his krevel combat suit
and wreaking havoc as a supervillain than
when he was wearing Italian silk and
encouraging people's selfish nature.

"Maybe it won't be so bad," Fireheart said.
"Lots of people have kids, any one of whom
could manifest superpowers at any time."

By the time they got back, though,
Contretemps had not only sucked in
the major investors and the politicians,
but also a pool of parents enticed by
his description of how the development
would benefit hardworking families.

Yet another attempt to establish
a school for children with superpowers
had fallen through, just like all of
the others that had come before it.

"This is why we can't have
nice things," Jackie grumbled.

* * *

Notes:

"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."
-- B.F. Skinner

School construction costs are high, and the cost of education starts a lot of arguments. I based my estimates on this article about school costs, doubling it to account for the higher price of soup-specific goods ... and it would've run way over budget if it had been built.

Special education includes both gifted and disabled students, and those who are both. Special education is drastically, chronically, and illegally underfunded. A particular problem lies in cutting programs for gifted or average students to fund the extremely expensive accommodations needed by disabled students. Because students with disabilities have some legal protections for their needs, while others students do not, this also encourages schools to cut the less-protected programs. The same thing happens to superkids in Terramagne: without legal guarantees of meeting even their most basic needs, they often get shorted. You can't learn to write if you keep lighting your pencil on fire and the school doesn't have any superproof supplies.

A 2-4 Store is a Terramagne-Canadian chain that sells various products in large cases, similar to Sam's Club. While primarily intended for business and commercial supply, they're also open to individuals and thus a great way to save money for large families or special events. The name comes from Canadian slang, pronouncing 24 as "two-four."

Public education has a lot of benefits for everyone. Unfortunately, many people view it as an expense instead of as an investment. People want to keep their money. That means most people without kids don't want to spend any on education, and most parents want to spend it on their own kids instead of someone else's. In Local-America this leads to massive shortages in funding. Even in Terramagne, there are always arguments about how much education costs and who should pay for it.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-09 05:33 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I get into this argument with other childfree people, some of whom bitterly resent "their" tax money being spent on education. My response is to say that other people's children will be my doctor and dentist, my business suppliers and librarians, the cooks at restaurants where I eat out, the clerks at the checkout when I shop. If I want competence in those areas, it behooves me to contribute to the public school infrastructure which teaches that competence.

This generally has the effect of shifting the argument to being about the public school system in general, but at least that's a different argument, and one about which I have other lines of attack.

Missed opportunity

Date: 2016-05-09 03:12 am (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
I'm sitting here wondering why Jackie didn't just hand Aurora off to Fireheart -- "Hey, can you take care of her for me?" -- so she didn't have to bail. I don't see anything in either of their character sheets that would suggest that Fireheart wouldn't be willing to change diapers, or that Jackie wouldn't want him to be able to do it, or feel diminished as a woman if he did. Not only that, but she could spin her actions as showing how much better parenting works when both parents are caretakers.

That way, she wouldn't have had to abandon the meeting to Contretemps. Things might have come out better -- maybe much better -- if she'd stayed.

Re: Missed opportunity

Date: 2016-05-09 04:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> I'm sitting here wondering why Jackie didn't just hand Aurora off to Fireheart -- "Hey, can you take care of her for me?" -- so she didn't have to bail. I don't see anything in either of their character sheets that would suggest that Fireheart wouldn't be willing to change diapers, or that Jackie wouldn't want him to be able to do it, or feel diminished as a woman if he did. Not only that, but she could spin her actions as showing how much better parenting works when both parents are caretakers. <<

Like you said, it's a missed opportunity. Fireheart does about half the childcare. It may even have been Jackie's turn. But I suspect a much larger part of the cause is that they're new parents in general, raising a superkid is even harder than raising an ordinary baby, so they're exhausted, also frazzled after trying to convince people to support the school proposal, when they're not actually economists or politicians, and that undermines their ability to make the best decisions.

Also, Contretemps is just plain better at this stuff than they are. He was waiting for them to make a mistake, any mistake, didn't have to be that one. They don't have the skills to get through a whole event without fumbling something. He consistently wins on a social/economic footing. Jackie Frost against Contretemps in the field has a chance of beating him, because she's a lot more skilled there; and two on one, they usually win against Contretemps. That's actually one reason why he doesn't engage in as much active mayhem as he used to -- which is an oblique improvement in circumstances.

>> That way, she wouldn't have had to abandon the meeting to Contretemps. Things might have come out better -- maybe much better -- if she'd stayed. <<

Well, it would have taken him longer to find a way to mop the floor with them.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-09 04:15 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Oh, now you've done it again, you've pissed me off.

Tell me you're plotting something for this oily (and very UN-Canadian) devil to have to Get Lost....

Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-09 04:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Oh, now you've done it again, you've pissed me off. <<

:D

>> Tell me you're plotting something for this oily (and very UN-Canadian) devil to have to Get Lost.... <<

I do not have active plans in that direction. I know that Contretemps is the nemesis of Jackie Frost, and while she can sometimes best him in combat, when it comes to social/economic contexts he definitely has the upper hand. No nation is monolithic. He's just speaking for Canada's business interests. It makes him popular in some circles, and very much hated in others. I wanted to show an example of how soup-friendly ventures often get quashed.

Of course, if you want to drop a rock on him next prompt call, you are absolutely free to do that. ;)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-09 04:56 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
I'd drop a very *big* rock on him, but that would violate the Eriadni Edict and put us all in Nuclear Winter... I get very Treecat-like when faced with people like this that put my entire community at risk for the sake of Mammon (which is the one g-d I consider unredeemably evil, primarily because they are insatiable... )

What's next month's subject?

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-09 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> I'd drop a very *big* rock on him, but that would violate the Eriadni Edict and put us all in Nuclear Winter... <<

Yeah, that big of a rock would not be good. 0_o But it would not take a rock that big to wreck his day. With his Luck ability, Contretemps could deflect one, or even a few. He's not strong enough to avert a whole landslide. You could, for example, drop one on his car.

Another option would be to have a family of bears visit the leadership retreat that Contretemps is attending, because someone got careless with the food. That would play neatly into having Fireheart rescue them, because he does a lot of wilderness work.

>> I get very Treecat-like when faced with people like this that put my entire community at risk for the sake of Mammon<<

That is understandable. It's irritating when people are greedy, and Contretemps is certainly that ...

>> (which is the one g-d I consider unredeemably evil, primarily because they are insatiable... ) <<

... but he's not actually wasting money. The development is a valid proposal and well designed. The things he advocates for are practical; he's all about infrastructure, roads, utilities, etc. He doesn't think that public money should be used to fund the arts, education, etc. -- if people want that stuff, they should pay for it themselves. He has luxuries of his own, but they don't exceed his resources. And while he bought himself one of the world's best violins for personal gratification, he also got an equally splendid piano because some of his friends and minions play that. Contretemps is a magnificent bastard, but he's not 100% dick.

>> What's next month's subject? <<

May 14-15 is the Creative Jam with a theme of "surprises and the unexpected."

June 7 is the next Poetry Fishbowl on "All Creatures Great and Small."

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-09 11:53 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
You been reading the "Maxims of highly effective mercenaries" again? I.e there's no such thing as 'over-kill', only dead and 'I need to reload'.

A tungsten crowbar from orbit would be quite enough to ruin his day, just as long as no-one else is in the parking lot.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-09 01:49 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have the Rule 37 poster... Image
Edited Date: 2016-05-09 01:49 pm (UTC)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-09 04:09 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Okayyy then.... [and yes, I misremembered it.]

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-05-09 05:50 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (tux)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
I don't always react that way... but once I decide it's a target, stand clear of the blast radius, please. I like keeping my storytellers in one piece!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-09 07:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natasiakith.livejournal.com
I think Kraken should drop a lot of half-trained soup kids in his lap. Any means necessary. And since "no school for you!" was his idea....

O_O

Date: 2016-05-09 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
ROTFLMAO!!!

I am now imagining the disgruntled parents of superkids staging some version of the bus trap where a bunch of breastfeeding mothers protested the persecution of breastfeeding by letting their hungry infants shriek instead of feeding them.

Only instead of crying babies, it would be kids teleporting, phasing, raining, shapeshifting, and some kid covered in melted chocolate tugging on Contretemps' silk suit and saying, "Can you teach me to do the Luck thing? Your superpower feels like mine, only I don't know how to make mine go right."

The real kicker is, Contretemps is not a whackjob. He couldn't simply fight his way out of there. He's perfectly willing to be horrid to adults, but far less willing to endanger or upset children. Not to mention what a publicity disaster it would be if he got caught on camera making them all cry.

I think this would be even funnier than the rocks or the bears.

Re: O_O

Date: 2016-05-09 11:49 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Hee... Now picture him literally being handed a toddler who's learnt to teleport her poop out of her body because she doesn't like going potty... and she's not too fussy where she sends it.

Re: O_O

Date: 2016-05-09 01:50 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
LOL ewww..... LOL ewwww....

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