A Peak Inside the Life of Homeschooling Families


Home-education allows for tremendous opportunities to grow outside of the confines of standard Public Schooling, and yet, few are aware of what life is like in the homes of those who choose to teach outside the system. Rachel Papo wanted to change that.

Rachel Papo has compiled a collection of photographs of children who are homeschooled. She spent two years compiling the collection which shows children of all ages, and in all aspects of their lives.

Mostly Rachel has focused on the lives of the children in an attempt to capture the spirit of the way they grew up outside the classroom. The collection takes a look at children in the classrooms – which may also double as bedrooms, children at play and experimenting with nature, and the children at rest.The pictures give us a glimpse into the lives and routines of life outside the traditional schoolroom, and allow us to share some of the ways that the children learn. Some parents choose to integrate their children into nature, instead of study it from a book. Children learn to grow up with first hand experience of animals and how they live.

The artist: A little girl draws with chalk on a giant black board in her room which also doubles as a classroom 
The artist: A little girl draws with chalk on a giant black board in her room which also doubles as a classroom

“I chose to focus particularly on the lives and routines of the children, in an attempt to capture their spirit, and the meaning of growing up outside the conventional four classroom walls,” Papo wrote on her Kickstarter for her photo series entitled, ‘Homeschooled’ that can be pre-ordered in book form on the site by pledging $50 or more.

In nature: Photographer Rachel Papo said that some of the families made the choice to homeschool their children so that they could learn in nature as oppose to in a classroom 
In nature: Photographer Rachel Papo said that some of the families made the choice to homeschool their children so that they could learn in nature as oppose to in a classroom
At play: A little girl pays with a hula hoop as her mother and teacher looks on with delight 
At play: A little girl pays with a hula hoop as her mother and teacher looks on with delight
One with the animals: This little boy's parents chose to integrate a wildlife education and practical skills into his daily learning as oppose to sending him off on a school bus 
One with the animals: This little boy’s parents chose to integrate a wildlife education and practical skills into his daily learning as oppose to sending him off on a school bus
Spirit: 'I chose to focus particularly on the lives and routines of the children, in an attempt to capture their spirit, and the meaning of growing up outside the conventional four classroom walls,' Papo says on her kickstarter which has raised thousands 
Spirit: ‘I chose to focus particularly on the lives and routines of the children, in an attempt to capture their spirit, and the meaning of growing up outside the conventional four classroom walls,’ Papo says on her kickstarter which has raised thousands
Alternate to traditional education: 'As the criticism of the U.S. education system grows among parents, so does the appeal of homeschooling. Together with today’s increasingly fast-paced, connected culture, this choice seems an almost natural one for many families, 'writes Papo
Alternate to traditional education: ‘As the criticism of the U.S. education system grows among parents, so does the appeal of homeschooling. Together with today’s increasingly fast-paced, connected culture, this choice seems an almost natural one for many families, ‘writes Papo
Schedule: 'As I was photographing them I allowed myself, for a few hours each time, to escape into their mysterious, magical world – one which emphasizes an embrace of nature in environs that nurture the imagination,' writes Papo
Schedule: ‘As I was photographing them I allowed myself, for a few hours each time, to escape into their mysterious, magical world – one which emphasizes an embrace of nature in environs that nurture the imagination,’ writes Papo
'Though still a controversial and heated topic, the number of homeschooled children in America is growing rapidly,' says Papo who photographed a little boy at play 
‘Though still a controversial and heated topic, the number of homeschooled children in America is growing rapidly,’ says Papo who photographed a little boy at play
Another perspective: ''I devoted two years to my photographic research and the result is a quiet meditation on the home education movement, from the children's perspective,' says the photographer 
Another perspective: ”I devoted two years to my photographic research and the result is a quiet meditation on the home education movement, from the children’s perspective,’ says the photographer
Pious: Some of the families chose to homeschool their children so that they could focus on their religion 
Pious: Some of the families chose to homeschool their children so that they could focus on their religion

The collection shows unique shots of alternative ways that children can learn, with their parents all agreeing that homeschooling is the best method for their children. As criticism grows for traditional teaching methods, these parents agree with the alternative method of education. In an increasingly fast paced culture, this seems a way to slow life down to a point where children can learn from nature.

“As the criticism of the U.S. education system grows among parents, so does the appeal of homeschooling. Together with today’s increasingly fast-paced, connected culture, this choice seems an almost natural one for many families,” writes Papo.

“Though still a controversial and heated topic, the number of homeschooled children in America is growing rapidly. For the past year and a half I have been photographing a small number of families living in the Catskills who practice homeschooling,” she adds.

Nap time: A homeschooled child takes a break from all her studies by taking a little nap in the snow 
Nap time: A homeschooled child takes a break from all her studies by taking a little nap in the snow
Rachel Papo wanted to capture the perspective of the children in all their unique learning and living spaces. Pictured here is a little girl name True  
Rachel Papo wanted to capture the perspective of the children in all their unique learning and living spaces. Pictured here is a little girl name True
Nature's classroom: Those who homeschool their children opt to nurture their creativity by allowing them to learn in nature 
Nature’s classroom: Those who homeschool their children opt to nurture their creativity by allowing them to learn in nature
Music maker: Others chose to homeschool their children so that they could focus on making music or art 
Music maker: Others chose to homeschool their children so that they could focus on making music or art
Silly: A number of parents sought to nurture their children's creativity and their ability to have fun without judgement from their classmates 
Silly: A number of parents sought to nurture their children’s creativity and their ability to have fun without judgement from their classmates

The amazing collection of children and their school activities can also be purchased in book form.

“I devoted two years to my photographic research and the result is a quiet meditation on the home education movement, from the children’s perspective. As I was photographing them I allowed myself, for a few hours each time, to escape into their mysterious, magical world – one which emphasizes an embrace of nature in environs that nurture the imagination,” writes Papo.

Interest: Papo began photographing the families after she moved to Woodstock, New York in 2010 with her husband and her baby daughter 
Interest: Papo began photographing the families after she moved to Woodstock, New York in 2010 with her husband and her baby daughter
Hand-on learning: She grew interested about how each family chose to educate their children outside what is usually considered the American norm 
Hand-on learning: She grew interested about how each family chose to educate their children outside what is usually considered the American norm
Working: Some parents sought to teach their children practical working skills rather than have them learn in a chool environment 
Working: Some parents sought to teach their children practical working skills rather than have them learn in a chool environment
Reading: Siblings read at their home in the Catskill mountains which also doubles as a school 
Reading: Siblings read at their home in the Catskill mountains which also doubles as a school
Cooking: A young girl cooks in the kitchen as part of her home-school education in the Catskill mountains 
Cooking: A young girl cooks in the kitchen as part of her home-school education in the Catskill mountains

Bloodbath in Downtown NYC After Driver Shoots and Mows Down Pedestrians From Car


(NY) Multiple people were killed near Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon in a wild incident that involved a shooting and a car ramming into victims on the West Side bike path, police sources said.

The mayhem happened at West Street and Chambers Street at 3:15 p.m. The shooter is in police custody, cops said.

Witnesses described a scene of terror, saying the shooter ran over two people before plowing into a school bus.

“Jesus! A car just ran over 2 people and then crashed into a school bus. I see two dead bodies and citibikes on the floor destroyed,” a Twitter user wrote.

The suspect then got out of his vehicle with two guns, another witness said.

“What happened was there was a car crash… he came out of one of the cars. He had two guns,” a 14-year-old Stuyvesant HS student said. “We thought it was a Halloween thing. He started running around the highway. There was another guy in a green shirt that was chasing him around.”

“I heard four to six gunshots – everybody starts running,” she added.

Video of the scene shows at least two people lying limp in the street. Photos show a smashed up Home Depot rental truck, and two mangled Citi Bikes.

Counter-terror police were searching the truck for explosives.

“Oh my god I just heard gun shots and ran with my dog. Downtown. F–k,” Josh Groban tweeted.

Police shut down the FDR south of 34th Street to rush victims to Bellevue Hospital.

Original article appeared in the NY POST

Judge blocks enforcement of Trump’s transgender military ban


A federal judge on Monday partially blocked enforcement of key provisions of President Donald Trump’s memorandum banning transgender people serving in the military.

As CNN reported, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly blocked provisions of the memorandum concerning the enlistment and retention of transgender military service members, holding that the plaintiffs “have established that they will be injured by these directives, due both to the inherent inequality they impose, and the risk of discharge and denial of accession that they engender. ”
The judge also blasted Trump’s initial abrupt announcement via Twitter that came “without any of the formality or deliberative processes that generally accompany the development and announcement of major policy changes that will gravely affect the lives of many Americans.”
In partially granting a preliminary injunction pending appeal, the judge said the plaintiffs — current and aspiring service members who are transgender — are “likely to succeed” on their due process claims.

The judge said that the effect of her order was to “revert to the status quo” that existed before the memo that was issued August 25. The memo indefinitely extended a prohibition against transgender individuals entering the military and it required the military to authorize, by no later than March 23, 2018, the discharge of transgender service members.
Trump administration lawyers had asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that it was premature because the Pentagon is currently studying how to implement the President’s directive and no action would be taken until after the policy review is completed.
They also argued that “federal courts owe the utmost deference to the political branches in the field of national defense and military affairs, both because the Constitution commits military decisions exclusively to those branches and because courts have less competence to second-guess military decision making.”
But Kollar-Kotelly, of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, declined to wait, ruling that even though the policy was still subject to review, the government’s arguments “wither away under scrutiny.”
“The Memorandum unequivocally directs the military to prohibit indefinitely the accession of transgender individuals and to authorize their discharge,” she wrote, “this decision has already been made.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said, “we disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps.”
Ehrsam added: “Plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging military service requirements is premature for many reasons, including that the Defense Department is actively reviewing such service requirements, as the President ordered, and because none of the Plaintiffs have established that they will be impacted by current policies on military service.”

Harsh words for Trump’s tweets

Kollar-Kotelly also had harsh words for the administration, highlighting the “unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement” of the ban that initially came in a July 26 tweet and the fact that the “reasons given to them do not appear to be supported by any facts.”
In her 76-page opinion, she actually posted a screen grab of the President’s tweets on the subject.
“After Consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” read one July 26 tweet.
And Kollar-Kotelly said that the President’s decision was not supported by the facts.
“All of the reasons proffered by the President for excluding transgender individuals from the military in this case were not merely unsupported, but were actually contradicted by the studies, conclusions and judgment of the military itself,” she wrote.
Shannon Minter, a plaintiffs’ lawyer and legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called the ruling “a complete victory for our plaintiffs and all transgender service members who are now once again able to serve on equal terms and without the threat of being discharged.”

“Although this ruling is very preliminary, it’s significant in at least two respects,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN legal analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “First, it is based on the judge’s conclusion that the Constitution in some way limits the government’s ability to discriminate against transgendered individuals. Second, it once again recognizes that the President’s words (and tweets) have consequences, especially when those words are turned into official policy.”

Three former Trump campaign officials charged by Special Counsel – Why it Matters


Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Monday revealed charges against three former Trump campaign officials — including onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort — marking the first criminal allegations to come from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.

(WASHINGTON POST) One of the three men charged, former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, admitted making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with a foreigner who claimed to have high-level Russian connections. The agreement was unsealed Monday.

Court documents described extensive efforts Papadopoulos made to try to broker connections with Russian officials and arrange a meeting between them and the Trump campaign, though some emails show his offers were rebuffed.

The third person charged was Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates.

The charges collectively show how Mueller is aggressively probing the lives of those in President Trump’s orbit — digging into their personal finances while also exploring whether they might have coordinated, or tried to coordinate, with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Papadopoulos ultimately admitted to lying to the FBI about his interactions with people he thought had connections with the Russian government. He has been cooperating with investigators for three months — having been first arrested and charged in July after landing at Dulles International Airport on a flight from Germany — and has met with the government on “numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions,” according to a court filing.

Manafort and Gates were charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges.

At a court appearance Monday afternoon, Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty.

The charges against Manafort and Gates did not reference the Trump campaign, a point President Trump noted on Twitter Monday. “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” Trump wrote.

“ . . . Also, there is NO COLLUSION!” he said in a follow-up tweet.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the special counsel’s announcement “has nothing to do with the president” or his campaign. She said there was “no intention or plan to make any changes with regard to the special counsel.”

 Play Video 0:32
Watch Paul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign manager, enter the FBI field office
Former campaign manager for President Trump, Paul Manafort, entered an FBI field office in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30, following reports that he plans to turn himself in for charges stemming from an investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Reuters)

“We’ve been saying from day one there’s no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and nothing in the indictment changes that at all,” she said.

Sanders sought to minimize the case involving Papadopoulos — which appears directly related to the investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia — asserting he had an “extremely limited,” volunteer role in the campaign. She said that “no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.”

In a January 2017 interview with the FBI, Papadopoulos told the agency that a London-based professor claimed to him he had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.” But Papadopoulos said initially he viewed the professor as a “nothing.”

In reality, according to his plea, Papadopoulos understood the man had connections to Russian government officials, and he had treated him very seriously as he tried to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

After a March 2016 meeting with the man, who was not identified in court records, Papadopoulos emailed a campaign supervisor and other members of the campaign’s foreign policy team and claimed the professor had introduced him to “Putin’s niece” and the Russian ambassador in London.

Papadopoulos, a low-level member of the Trump campaign and a former intern and researcher at the conservative Hudson Institute, claimed the purpose was “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”

The government noted, in fact, the woman was not Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s niece, and while Papadopoulos expected the professor would introduce him to the Russian ambassador, that never happened. But in the months that followed, Papadopoulos continued to correspond with the woman and the professor about a possible meeting between the Trump campaign, possibly including Trump himself, and Russian officials.

“The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready,” Papadopoulos wrote to a senior policy adviser for the campaign on April 25. Two days later, he emailed another high-ranking campaign official wanting “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump.”

The campaign officials were not identified in court records, and there was some indication they were wary of the junior member’s efforts. At one point, a campaign official forwarded one of Papadopoulos’s emails to another campaign official, saying, “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” DT would appear to be a reference to Donald Trump.

Sanders said: “He asked to do things. He was basically pushed back or not responded to in any way”

Papadopoulos’s effort continued into the summer of 2016, and in August 2016 a campaign supervisor told Papadopoulos and another foreign policy adviser they should take a trip to Russia. That ultimately did not take place, according to the plea.

Lawyers for Papadopoulos said in a statement: “We will have the opportunity to comment on George’s involvement when called upon by the Court at a later date. We look forward to telling all of the details of George’s story at that time.”

The indictment of Manafort and Gates focused on their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.

The special counsel alleged that for nearly a decade Manafort and Gates laundered money through scores of U.S. and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts, and gave false statements to the Justice Department and others when asked about their work on behalf of a foreign entity.

All told, more than $75 million flowed through offshore accounts, the special counsel alleged. Manafort, the special counsel said, laundered more than $18 million, using his wealth acquired overseas to “enjoy a lavish lifestyle” in the United States, purchasing multimillion dollar properties and paying for home renovation.

Gates did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort. Manafort was spotted walking into the FBI’s Washington Field Office Monday morning; Gates was spotted at the federal courthouse in the District.

Spokespeople for Mueller and the Justice Department declined to comment over the weekend. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment Monday, and a spokesman for the special counsel’s office did not return messages seeking comment.

According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates arranged to hire two Washington-based lobbying firms to work on behalf of their Ukrainian clients, arranging meetings with U.S. officials and boosting their public image in the United States.

Though it was not named, one of the firms referenced in the indictment was The Podesta Group. Tony Podesta, the head of the firm, announced to colleagues Monday he was stepping down.

Prosecutors say that Manafort and Gates arranged for a Brussels-based nonprofit to nominally hire the Washington companies to hide the fact that the two men were working for Ukrainian government officials; otherwise they would have been required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

In fact, prosecutors allege, Manafort was communicating directly with then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych about the effort, promising in 2012 to provide him weekly updates about the effort.

To further obscure Ukrainian involvement in the lobbying effort, prosecutors say payments to the Washington firms were routed through obscure offshore companies. Prosecutors say that when the Department of Justice approached Manafort and Gates in 2016 and 2017 about whether they should have registered as foreign agents for the work, they responded with false and misleading letters, indicating they had not directed the lobbying effort and asserting they did not hold records reflecting their work, even though later searches showed they did, according to the indictment.

Manafort and Gates also were accused of willfully and intentionally trying to hide funds kept in foreign bank accounts — Manafort from 2011 to 2014 and Gates from 2012 to 2014. And Manafort was accused of filing fraudulent tax returns — stating on tax forms he filed from 2008 to 2014 that he controlled no foreign bank accounts.

The men made tens of millions of dollars for themselves, the special counsel alleged. From 2008 to 2014, according to the indictment, Manafort arranged to wire $12 million from offshore accounts to pay for personal expenses — including $5 million to a home renovation contractor in the Hamptons, more than $1.3 million to a home entertainment and lighting vendor based in Florida, $934,000 to an antique rug dealer in Alexandria, and $849,000 to a men’s clothier in New York.

While the men were set to first appear before a magistrate judge — as is normal — the case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, 63, a 2011 Barack Obama appointee.

Jackson worked as federal prosecutor in the District after graduating from Harvard Law School and specialized in complex criminal and civil trials and appeals at Trout Cacheris. While at the firm, she represented former Democratic congressman William J. Jefferson at his corruption trial, made famous by the $90,000 in bribe money stuffed into his freezer and a legal battle over the raid of his Washington office.

Jackson contributed $1,000 to Bill Clinton’s 1992 Democratic campaign.

Mueller was appointed in May to oversee the probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, taking over work that the FBI had begun in July 2016. Their interest in Manafort, though, dates back to at least 2014 — long before Mueller was appointed or Manafort was connected to the Trump campaign.

While Mueller’s probe has focused on Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, investigators have shown interest in a broad array of other topics.

Those include meetings the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow in December, and a June 2016 meeting at Trump tower involving the president’s son, Donald Jr., and a Russian lawyer. Mueller’s team has requested extensive records from the White House, covering areas including the president’s private discussions about firing James B. Comey as FBI director and his response to news that Flynn was under investigation, according to two people briefed on the requests.

Mueller is also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice leading up to Comey’s firing. His team has been actively presenting records and bringing witnesses before the grand jury in D.C. for the last three months.

Trump hired Manafort onto his campaign in March 2016, when he was locked in what looked to be a months-long slog against Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to amass delegates and secure the Republican nomination. Manafort’s role early on was to oversee the Trump campaign’s delegate operation and to prepare for a potential floor fight at the Republican National Convention that June.

Manafort, along with his deputy Gates, initially shared a makeshift office on the fifth floor of Trump Tower, taking over a conference room where a giant map of the United States hung on the wall marking the cities and towns where Trump had campaigned.

During their time at Trump Tower, Manafort cultivated close relationships with Trump’s children and quickly earned their internal support. Manafort’s authority over the campaign grew and, with the strong backing of the Trump family, he soon was named the campaign chairman.

Manafort feuded internally with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as they two men jockeyed to gain control over campaign strategy and operations. In June 2016, Trump fired Lewandowski at the urging of Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Manafort assumed full control of the campaign, with Gates operating as his No. 2. Together, they orchestrated the GOP convention in Cleveland, oversaw Trump’s vice presidential selection process and devised the campaign’s strategy for the general election against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

In August, however, after news reports investigating Manafort’s past work for Yanukovych in Ukraine, Manafort was sidelined and effectively replaced at the helm by Stephen K. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, who respectively were named the campaign’s chief executive officer and manager. Manafort then resigned from the campaign, but Gates, his business partner and protege, continued to play an important role.

After the election Gates directed the inauguration plans, including fundraising, under Tom Barrack, Trump’s close friend and adviser.

FBI agents working for Mueller raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria in late July, armed with a search warrant that allowed them to enter at dawn without warning the occupants. Such an invasive search is only allowed after prosecutors have convinced a federal judge that they have evidence of a crime and they have reasonable concern that key evidence could be destroyed or withheld.

Prosecutors also warned Manafort they planned to indict him, according to two people familiar with the exchange. People close to Manafort and Gates, though, said the indictment came as a surprise to both.

Though both men knew Mueller had been closely scrutinizing their behavior, they had expected some kind of alert when an indictment was imminent. Even over the weekend, they were telling people close to them that they had received no such notification and did not believe they were the subject of the seal charges.

The tactic might suggest Mueller hoped to use the element of surprise against the two men to potentially stun them into a desire to cooperate against other members of Trump’s team.

Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, said late Friday, “we are not commenting tonight.” A person familiar with Flynn’s defense said he, too, had received no notice of pending indictment.

Wayne Holland, a McEnearney Associates real estate agent who helped Manafort buy the condo in Alexandria, Va., that was raided by the FBI this summer, testified Oct. 20 before the grand jury in Mueller’s probe after he and his firm were unsuccessful in an effort to quash subpoenas, Holland said Friday.

Holland declined to discuss his testimony, first reported by Politico, but confirmed that an opinion unsealed Friday denied his and his firm’s motion to quash a subpoena by claiming real estate broker records are confidential under Virginia and District laws.

Obviously High Gary Johnson Endorses Larry Sharpe for Gubernatorial Run


Accusing a former Governor, and LP presidential nominee, of drug use, may seem disrespectful – that is, unless it’s Gary Johnson. The same Gary Johnson who runs Cannabis Sativa, Inc., a Nevada company that sells, in Johnson’s words, the “creme de la creme” of marijuana products. Also, the same Gary Johnson who admitted to eating marijuana edibles while running for President.

Recently, Gary endorsed Larry Sharpe for his Gubernatorial Run, and we at Think About Now, are glad that he looks to be enjoying his retirement from politics

What are your thoughts? Did Gary look high to you too?

The Gender Pay Gap Is A Myth


Recently, the Washington Post took it upon themselves to regurgitate – once again – the myth that there is a gender pay divide with a deliberately obtuse headline

The guiding idea is that, because women make 77% of what men make for the “same work”, that from Oct.26 to the end of the year women work for free. That statement isn’t true, and here’s why.

The 23-cent gender pay gap is just the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. That’s absurd. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. So, it’s not taking into account whether you decided to be a teacher vs. a physician, a pediatrician vs. a neurosurgeon, a sociology major vs. a finance major, a new employee vs. a 20-year manager, or if you work 30 hours vs. 40 hours a week.

When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers. 

As a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Professor, Christina Hoff Sommers, has noted, much of the difference comes merely from the college majors that both sexes go for.  Here is a list of the ten most remunerative majors compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Men overwhelmingly outnumber women in all but one of them:

1. Petroleum Engineering: 87% male

2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% male

3. Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% male

4. Aerospace Engineering: 88% male

5. Chemical Engineering: 72% male

6. Electrical Engineering: 89% male

7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% male

8. Mechanical Engineering: 90% male

9. Metallurgical Engineering: 83% male

10. Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% male

And here are the 10 least remunerative majors—where women prevail in nine out of ten:

1. Counseling Psychology: 74% female

2. Early Childhood Education: 97% female

3. Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% female

4. Human Services and Community Organization: 81% female

5. Social Work: 88% female

6. Drama and Theater Arts: 60% female

7. Studio Arts: 66% female

8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% female

9. Visual and Performing Arts: 77% female

10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% female

Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. Early childhood educators and social workers can expect to earn around $36,000 and $39,000, respectively. By contrast, petroleum engineering and metallurgy degrees promise median earnings of $120,000 and $80,000. Not many aspiring early childhood educators would change course once they learn they can earn more in metallurgy or mining. The sexes, taken as a group, are somewhat different. Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.

But you see, people can’t be trusted to make the “right choices.” Which is why when these differences are brought up, the going theory is that the patriarchy is pushing women towards these types of professions. the National Organization for Women and the American Association of University Women have stated as much.

In its 2007 Behind the Pay Gap report, the AAUW admits that most of the gap in earnings is explained by choices. But this admission is qualified: “Women’s personal choices are similarly fraught with inequities,” says the AAUW. It speaks of women being “pigeonholed” into “pink-collar” jobs in health and education. According to NOW, powerful sexist stereotypes “steer” women and men “toward different education, training, and career paths.”

Have these groups noticed that American women are now among the most educated, autonomous, opportunity-rich women in history? Why not respect their choices? For the past few decades, untold millions of state and federal dollars have been devoted to recruiting young women into engineering and computer technology. It hasn’t worked. The percent of degrees awarded to women in fields like computer science and engineering has either stagnated or significantly decreased since 2000. (According to Department of Education data, in 2000, women earned 19 percent of engineering BA’s, and 28 percent in computer science; by 2011, only 17 percent of engineering degrees were awarded to females, and the percent of female computer science degrees had dropped to 18.) All evidence suggests that though young women have the talent for engineering and computer science, their interest tends to lie elsewhere. To say that these women remain helplessly in thrall to sexist stereotypes, and manipulated into life choices by forces beyond their control, is divorced from reality—and demeaning to boot. If a woman wants to be a teacher rather than a miner, or a veterinarian rather than a petroleum engineer, more power to her.

People should stop using women’s choices to construct a false claim about social inequality that is poisoning our gender debates.

CIA Considered Bombing Miami and Killing Refugees to Blame Castro


Donald Trump’s bold promises earlier this week to finally blow the lid off the JFK assassination mystery by declassifying reams of secret documents turned out to be a tease. The National Archives ended up making public only a fraction of the JFK documents last night.

Still, the 2,800 papers included in the new document dump confirm some salacious details of America’s decades-long quest to kill or depose Fidel Castro — including a fairly shocking plan by the CIA to sow terror in Miami.

It was the Miami News Times that was first to report on this: After Castro’s revolution succeeded and thousands of Cubans fled to South Florida, the agency actually considered murdering a boatload of refugees, assassinating exile leaders, and planting bombs in Miami — all so Castro could be blamed for the chaos.

The basic idea was to turn world opinion against Castro and possibly justify a U.S. military invasion by pinning the atrocities on him. The details of the sinister plot are included in a summary about Operation Mongoose, a 1960 covert op hatched by the CIA under President Dwight Eisenhower with the aim of toppling Communist Cuba.

The campaign was included in a report on “pretexts” the U.S. could conjure up to justify a military intervention in Cuba. The paper was sent by Gen. Edward Landsdale, a top Cold War officer who worked with the CIA to plot out Operation Mongoose; he sent the report, which included nine other “pretexts,” on April 12, 1962, to Gen. Maxwell Taylor, who would soon become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Here’s how the report described the plan:

CIA Considered Bombing Miami and Killing Refugees to Blame Castro

via National Archives

Just to reiterate how crazy this idea is: The CIA thought about blowing stuff up in Florida and murdering innocent refugees simply to make Castro look bad.

Thankfully, that plot was apparently never carried out. The Mongoose doc includes other frightening plots hatched by the spooks in Washington, including an idea to use biological weapons to ruin Cuba’s crops, possibly leading to famine and an uprising against Castro:

CIA Considered Bombing Miami and Killing Refugees to Blame Castro

via National Archives

That plan was also apparently spitballed.

Operation Mongoose has hardly been a secret. The covert project, which for a time was headquartered in a secret base in Opa-locka, has long been studied by Cold War scholars and JFK conspiracy buffs. It’s not even immediately clear whether the details about sowing terror in Miami are new, though a quick web search doesn’t yield any stories about that particular idea. (Update: As some astute readers have noted, much of the newly posted Mongoose details at the National Archive were already released as part of a plot called Operation Northwoods, which President Kennedy reviewed but rejected.)

Other documents confirm some of the sillier pieces of the plot, including the CIA’s infamous plans to use absurd devices, such as exploding cigars, to kill Castro. The newly released papers include reports detailing plots to use a poisoned wetsuit and an exploding seashell to murder him and describe the CIA’s willingness to collaborate with the Mob to oust the Communist leader.

None of those details are particularly new — the wetsuit and seashell ideas were outlined in 1979 in a book about the CIA by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Powers.

Americans will have to wait at least another six months to find out whether the hundreds of documents the CIA refused to include in yesterday’s dump include any clues as to JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s deeper ties to intelligence agencies or the Soviet Union.

In the meantime, let’s just be grateful the CIA decided not to blow up Miami in the name of going after Castro.

First Survey of Grown Unschoolers: Findings Show Extraordinary Results


Originally posted by Peter Gray on his Psychology Today Blog.

Peter Gray is the author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

In a study that preceded the one to be described here, my colleague Gina Riley and I surveyed parents in unschooling families — that is, in families where the children did not go to school and were not homeschooled in any curriculum-based way, but instead were allowed to take charge of their own education. The call for participants for that study was posted, in September, 2011, on my blog (here) and on various other websites, and a total of 232 families who met our criteria for participation responded and filled out the questionnaire. Most respondents were mothers, only 9 were fathers. In that study we asked questions about their reasons for unschooling, the pathways by which they came to unschooling, and the major benefits and challenges of unschooling in their experience.

I posted the results of that study as a series of three articles in this blog — here, here, and here — and Gina and I also published a paper on it in the Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning (here). Not surprisingly, the respondents in that survey were very enthusiastic and positive about their unschooling experiences. They described benefits having to do with their children’s psychological and physical wellbeing, improved social lives, and improved efficiency of learning and attitudes about learning. They also wrote about the increased family closeness and harmony, and the freedom from having to follow a school-imposed schedule, that benefited the whole family. The challenges they described had to do primarily with having to defend their unschooling practices to those who did not understand them or disapproved of them, and with overcoming some of their own culturally-ingrained, habitual ways of thinking about education.

The results of that survey led us to wonder how those who are unschooled, as opposed to their parents, feel about the unschooling experience. We also had questions about the ability of grown unschoolers to pursue higher education, if they chose to do so, and to find gainful and satisfying adult employment. Those questions led us to the survey of grown unschoolers that is described in this article and, in more detail, in three more articles to follow.

Survey Method for Our Study of Grown Unschoolers

On March 12, 2013, Gina and I posted on this blog (here) an announcement to recruit participants. That announcement was also picked up by others and reposted on various websites and circulated through online social media. To be sure that potential participants understood what we meant by “unschooling,” we defined it in the announcement as follows:

“Unschooling is not schooling. Unschooling parents do not send their children to school and they do not do at home the kinds of things that are done at school. More specifically, they do not establish a curriculum for their children, do not require their children to do particular assignments for the purpose of education, and do not test their children to measure progress. Instead, they allow their children freedom to pursue their own interests and to learn, in their own ways, what they need to know to follow those interests. They may, in various ways, provide an environmental context and environmental support for the child’s learning. In general, unschoolers see life and learning as one.”

The announcement went on to state that participants must (a) be at least 18 years of age; (b) have been unschooled (by the above definition) for at least two years during what would have been their high school years; and © not have attended 11th and 12th grade at a high school.

The announcement included Gina’s email address, with a request that potential participants contact her to receive a copy of the consent form and survey questionnaire. The survey included questions about the respondent’s gender; date of birth; history of schooling, home schooling, and unschooling (years in which they had done each); reasons for their unschooling (as they understood them); roles that their parents played in their education during their unschooling years; any formal higher education they had experienced subsequent to unschooling (including how they gained admission and how they adapted to it); their current employment; their social life growing up and now; the main advantages and disadvantages they experienced from their unschooling; and their judgment as to whether or not they would unschool their own children.

We received the completed questionnaires over a period of six months, and Gina and I, separately, read and reread them to generate a coding system, via qualitative analysis, for the purpose of categorizing the responses. After agreeing on a coding system, we then, separately, reread the responses to make our coding judgments, and then compared our separate sets of judgments and resolved discrepancies by discussion.

Unschooling Is for the Future

The Participants, and Their Division into Three Groups

A total of 75 people who met the criteria filled out and returned the survey. Of these, 65 were from the United States, 6 were from Canada, 3 were from the UK, and 1 was from Germany (where unschooling is illegal). The median age of the respondents was 24, with a range from age 18 to 49. Eight were in their teens, 48 were in their 20s, 17 were in their 30s, and 2 were in their 40s. Fifty-eight (77%) were women, 16 were men, and 1 self-identified as gender queer. The high proportion of women probably represents a general tendency for women to be more responsive to survey requests than are men. It is not the case that more girls than boys are unschooled; indeed, our previous study suggested that the balance is in the opposite direction — there were somewhat more boys than girls undergoing unschooling in the families that responded to that survey.

For purposes of comparison, we divided the respondents into three groups based on the last grade they had completed of schooling or homeschooling. Group I were entirely unschooled — no K-12 schooling at all and no homeschooling (the term “homeschooling” here and elsewhere in this report refers to schooling at home that is not unschooling). Group II had one or more years of schooling or homeschooling, but none beyond 6thgrade; and Group III had one or more years of schooling or homeschooling beyond 6thgrade. Thus, in theory (and in fact), those in Group II could have had anywhere from 1 to 7 years (K-6) of schooling/homeschooling and those in Group III could have had anywhere from 1 to 11 years (K-10) of schooling/homeschooling.

The table below shows the breakdown of some of our statistical findings across the three groups. The column headings show the number of participants in each group. The first three data rows show, respectively, the median and range of ages, the median and range of total years of schooling plus homeschooling, and the percentage of respondents that were female for each group. It is apparent that the three groups were quite similar in number of participants, median age, and percent female, but, of course, differed on the index of number of years of schooling plus homeschooling.

Their Formal Higher Education After Unschooling

Question 5 of the survey read, “Please describe briefly any formal higher education you have experienced, such as community college/college/graduate school. How did you get into college without having a high school diploma? How did you adjust from being unschooled to being enrolled in a more formal type of educational experience? Please list any degrees you have obtained or degrees you are currently working toward.”

I’ll describe their responses to this question much more fully in the next article in this series, where I’ll make ample use of the participants’ own words. Here I’ll simply summarize some of the statistical findings that came from our coding of the responses.

Overall, 62 (83%) of the participants reported that they had pursued some form of higher education. This included vocational training (such as culinary school) and community college courses as well as conventional bachelor’s degree programs and graduate programs beyond that. As can be seen in data row 4 of the table, this percentage was rather similar across the three groups.

Overall, 33 (44%) of the participants had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher or were currently fulltime students in a bachelor’s program. As shown in data row 5 of the table, the likelihood of pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher was inversely related to the amount of previous schooling. Those in the always-unschooled group were the most likely to go on to a bachelor’s program, and those in the group that had some schooling past 6th grade were least likely to. This difference, though substantial, did not reach the conventional level of statistical significance (a chi square test revealed a p = .126).

How Public Schooling Cripples Our Kids

Of the 33 who went on to a bachelor’s degree programs, 7 reported that they had previously received a general education diploma (GED) by taking the appropriate test, and 3 reported that they had gained a diploma through an online procedure. The others had gained admission to a bachelor’s program with no high-school diploma except, in a few cases, a self-made diploma that, we assume, had no official standing. Only 7 of the 33 reported taking the SAT or ACT tests as a route to college admission. By far the most common stepping-stone to a four-year college for these young people was community college. Twenty-one of the 33 took community college courses before applying to a four-year college and used their community college transcript as a basis for admission. Some began to take such courses at a relatively young age (age 13 in one case, age 16 in typical cases) and in that way gained a headstart on their college career. By transferring their credits, some reduced the number of semesters (and the tuition cost) required to complete a bachelor’s degree. Several also mentioned interviews and portfolios as means to gain college admission.

The colleges they attended were quite varied. They ranged from state universities (e.g. the University of South Carolina and UCLA) to an Ivy League university (Cornell) to a variety of small liberal-arts colleges (e.g. Mt. Holyoke, Bennington, and Earlham).

The participants reported remarkably little difficulty academically in college. Students who had never previously been in a classroom or read a textbook found themselves getting straight A’s and earning honors, both in community college courses and in bachelor’s programs. Apparently, the lack of an imposed curriculum had not deprived them of information or skills needed for college success. Most reported themselves to be at an academic advantage compared with their classmates, because they were not burned outby previous schooling, had learned as unschoolers to be self-directed and self-responsible, perceived it as their own choice to go to college, and were intent on making the most of what the college had to offer. A number of them reported disappointment with the college social scene. They had gone to college hoping to be immersed in an intellectually stimulating environmentand, instead, found their fellow students to be more interested in frat parties and drinking. I will describe all this more fully in the next article in this series.

Image by Twenty20.

Their Careers

Question 4 of the survey read, “Are you currently employed? If so, what do you do? Does your current employment match any interests/activities you had as an unschooled child/teen? If so, please explain.” Our analyses of responses to this question led us to generate a brief follow-up questionnaire, which we sent to all of the participants, in which we asked them to list and describe the paying jobs they had held, to indicate whether or not they earned enough to support themselves, and to describe any career aspirations they currently had in mind. Sixty-three (84%) of the original 75 participants responded to this follow-up questionnaire.

The great majority of respondents were gainfully employed at the time of the survey. Exceptions were some of the full-time students and some mothers with young children. Of those who responded to the follow-up questionnaire, 78% said they were financially self-sufficient, though a number of these added that their income was modest and they were financially independent in part because of their frugal lifestyle. Several of them described frugality as a value and said they would far rather do work they enjoyed and found meaningful than other work that would be more lucrative.

Collectively, the respondents had pursued a wide range of jobs and careers, but two generalizations jumped out at us in our qualitative analyses and coding of these.

The first generalization is that a remarkably high percentage of the respondents were pursuing careers that we categorized as in the creative arts — a category that included fine arts, crafts, music, photography, film, and writing. Overall, 36 (48%) of the participants were pursuing such careers. Remarkably, as shown in data row 8 of the table, 79% of those in the always-unschooled group were pursuing careers in this category. The observation that the always-unschooled participants were more likely to pursue careers in the creative arts than were the other participants was highly significant statistically (p < .001 by a chi square test).

The second generalization is that a high percentage of participants were entrepreneurs. Respondents were coded into this category if they had started their own business and were making a living at it or working toward making a living at it. This category overlapped considerably with the creative arts category, as many were in the business of selling their own creative products or services. Overall, by our coding, 40 (53%) of the respondents were entrepreneurs. As can be seen in data row 9 of the table, this percentage, too, was greatest for those in the always-unschooled group (63%), but in this case the differences across groups did not approach statistical significance.

In response to the question about the relationship of their adult employment to their childhood interests and activities, 58 (77%) of the participants described a clear relationship. In many cases the relationship was direct. Artists, musicians, theater people, and the like had quite seamlessly turned childhood avocations into adult careers; and several outside of the arts likewise described natural evolutions from avocations to careers. As shown in data row 6, the percentage exhibiting a close match between childhood interests and adult employment was highest for those in the always-unschooled group, though this difference did not approach statistical significance.

All of these generalizations regarding unschoolers’ subsequent employment will be illustrated, with quotations from the surveys, in the third article in this series.

Image by Twenty20.

Their Evaluations of Their Unschooling Experience

Question 7 of the survey read, “What, for you, were the main advantages of unschooling? Please answer both in terms of how you felt as a child growing up and how you feel now, looking back at your experiences. In your view, how did unschooling help you in your transition toward adulthood?”

Almost all of the respondents, in various ways, wrote about the freedom and independence that unschooling gave them and the time it gave them to discover and pursue their own interests. Seventy percent of them also said, in one way or another, that the experience enabled them to develop as highly self-motivated, self-directed individuals. Many also wrote about the learning opportunities that would not have been available if they had been in school, about their relatively seamless transition to adult life, and about the healthier (age-mixed) social life they experienced out of school contrasted with what they would have experienced in school.

Question 8 read, “What, for you, were the main disadvantages of unschooling? Again, please answer both in terms of how you felt as a child growing up and how you feel now. In your view, did unschooling hinder you at all in your transition toward adulthood?

Twenty-eight of the 75 respondents reported no disadvantage at all. Of the remaining 47, the most common disadvantages cited were (1) dealing with others’ criticisms and judgments of unschooling (mentioned by at least 21 respondents); (2) some degree of social isolation (mentioned by 16 respondents), which came in part from there being relatively few other homeschoolers or unschoolers nearby; and (3) the social adjustment they had to make, in higher education, to the values and social styles of those who had been schooled all their lives (mentioned by 14 respondents).

For 72 of the 75 respondents, the advantages of unschooling clearly, in their own minds, outweighed the disadvantages. The opposite was true for only 3 of the participants, 2 of whom expressed emphatically negative views both of their own unschooling and of unschooling in general (to be detailed in the fourth article in this series).

Question 9 read, “If you choose to have a family/children, do you think you will choose to unschool them? Why or why not?” One respondent omitted this question. Of the remaining 74, 50 (67%) responded in a way that we coded as clearly “yes,” and among them 8 already had children of school age and were unschooling them. Of the remainder, 19 responded in a way that we coded as “maybe” (for them it depended on such factors as the personality and desires of the child, the agreement of the other parent, or the availability or lack of availability of a good alternative school nearby), and five responded in a way that we coded as clearly “no.” The five “no’s” included two of the three who were negative about their own unschooling experience and three others, who despite their positive feelings about their own unschooling would, for various reasons, not unschool their own child.

The fourth article in this series will delve much more deeply into the advantages and disadvantages of unschooling as perceived and described by these respondents.

Image by Twenty20.

Limitation of the Survey

A major limitation of this study, of course, is that the participants are a self-selected sample, not a random sample, of grown unschoolers. As already noted, relatively few men responded to the survey. A bigger problem is that the sample may disproportionately represent those who are most pleased with their unschooling experiences and their subsequent lives. Indeed, it seems quite likely that those who are more pleased about their lives would be more eager to share their experiences, and therefore more likely to respond to the survey, than those who are less pleased. Therefore, this study, by itself, cannot be a basis for strong claims about the experiences and feelings of the whole population of unschoolers. What the study does unambiguously show, however, is that it is possible to take the unschooling route and then go on to a highly satisfying adult life. For the group who responded to our survey, unschooling appears to have been far more advantageous than disadvantageous in their pursuits of higher education, desired careers, and other meaningful life experiences.

Stay tuned for the remaining three articles in this series (to be posted later, one at a time), where you will read much more about these grown unschoolers’ experiences, in their own words.

What are your thoughts and questions about this study, to the degree that I have described it so far, or about unschooling in general? What unschooling experiences — positive or negative — have you had that you are willing to share? This blog is a forum for discussion, and your stories, comments, and questions are valued and treated with respect by me and other readers.

New Study: Parent Technology Use Linked To Child Behavior Problems


Parents may feel like the constant love and attention that children receive makes up for the little time time spent here and there on text messages or Facebook checks. However, a new study shows that it takes very little parental distraction with technology for children to exhibit behavior problems.

Previous studies have shown that technoference, or interferences caused by technology, can damage couple and co-parenting interactions, but no studies on technoference between parents and children existed until now.

Professor Brandon McDaniel of Illinois State University surveyed 170 U.S. families and correlated parent distraction with technology to child behavior problems. The average age for mothers and fathers were 31.82 and 33.34 years old, respectively, and most families had more than one child.

The results showed that techno-ference increased behavior problems in children. The problems included acting out, turning inward with feelings, exhibiting aggressive behavior, or crying spells.

The study states that techno-ference may occur during face-to-face conversations or routines such as mealtimes or play and can make children feel like an intrusion has occurred when a parent interacts with digital technology during time together. The study shows it takes just a small amount of interference for a child exhibit behavior problems.

On average, mothers and fathers perceived that two devices interfered with interactions with their child at least once a day. Almost half of the families reported techo-ference 3 or more times a day. Mothers perceived their phone use as being more problematic than fathers, but both mothers and fathers associated interference with greater behavior problems and more child screen time.

McDaniel admits that the study was limited due to the use of parent self-reports of both the use of digital technology and child behavior.

“We need to critically examine our device use. This is just the day and age that we live in. These devices are designed to absorb our attention,” McDaniel said. “Yes, you’re going to be distracted sometimes, but we need to try to minimize those distractions, realizing that your children are not always going to be little.”

His words are a reminder to parents that they are in this for the long haul, and that present interactions with children shape their adulthood.  So, even if we use technology to talk about and record our children, it breaks our attachment with them. They don’t understand our desire to share their cuteness with the world; they only view it as an intrusion upon our relationship with them, and we are modeling our addictions to technology to them.

Professor Brandon McDaniel researches and teaches about family relationships, parenting, child development, and media/technology in family life. He says “My work is focused on understanding many of these “new age” influences on family relationships so that we are better able to serve families’ and children’s needs and improve the quality of their relationships.”


Stop Putting Your Keys Between Your Fingers for Self-Defense


We’ve seen it in the movies and many of us have done it ourselves, but putting your keys between your fingers in self-defense is a terrible idea. Lifehacker recently covered this in fantastic form:

Even if they haven’t gone so far as to get formal self-defense training, many people (particularly women) have considered what strategies they’d deploy if they were attacked by a stranger. A popular thought is that one would use an object on your person as a weapon of defense—like keys, for instance.

The technique known as “The Wolverine”—wherein you put your keys between your fingers, ready to jab an assailant—is widely known, but according to self-defense instructors, it’s also not a great approach. The belief that putting your keys between your fingers will make your hand into a deadlier weapon is so common a misconception, in fact, that every self-defense expert we spoke with said that they had at some point dispelled the myth for a student. But as Gabrielle Rubin, founder of self defense course Female Awareness, tells us, even if you’re starting out with less-than-ideal strategies in mind, “I love that you’re thinking of something.” Here’s some more effective ideas to keep you safe—and yes, some of them still involve your keys:

Put Your Keys On Something to Give You Reach

The problem with the keys-in-hand gambit, Rubin points out, is that if you’re at the point where you’re trying to jab at someone with your fist, they’re already closer than you want. She suggested putting your keys on something called a kubaton, which is a kind of keychain based on a small bamboo weapon that can be used to hit your assailant (and also keep track of your keys). It’s both a weapon if they get near you, and a handle you can hang onto while beating them with the weight of the keys themselves.

“I put it on a carabiner,” says Rubin, “So if I was to hold them and swing them on the carabiner, I could swing them like a nunchuck.”

Another option would be attaching your keys to a lanyard or chain, for optimal swinging, though this is assuming you’re rivaling a janitor with your key collection.

Hold the Keys In a Way That Won’t Hurt You

Putting your keys between your fingers may be reminiscent of a wild animal or your favorite Marvel action hero, but the potential for damage to your own hand is high. Matan Gavish, founder of Krav Maga Academy, tells us that holding your keys this way will likely cause more problems for you than your assailant.

“First, the metal jagged area of the key can easily cause damage to the skin between the fingers when being used violently,” he wrote. “Sharp pain like that can lead to opening of the fingers which will immediately reduce the effectiveness of any strike.”

The base of the key hitting the inside of your hand after impact would also be painful, he added, all of which means you might drops your keys, leaving them vulnerable to a bad guy scooping them up. (And you’d be locked out of the house.) However, Gavish does note that if you have to throw a big ring of keys in someone’s face to get away, that’s an option.

He also suggests that if you must use your keys to fight, try “closing a fist around it with the sharp edge coming out the bottom or pinky side.”

To Jab or To Pound

When it comes to using your keys, consider how you would want to use them. Rubin boiled the available techniques down to two factors: “hit bone, poke flesh.” If you’re holding your keys like Gavish suggested above, you’re poking. Go for the eyes, throat, solar plexus and groin. If you’re holding them as more of a club, you want to hit them in places with a lot of bones. Striking someone in the hand is always far more painful than the forearm, for example, which is generally protected by fleshy muscles.

Chris Moran from JKD NYC also shared some photos for an effective strike, and though he didn’t have quite as harsh a critique of the Wolverine, he did say that the technique limits a person “to striking in punching mechanics.” He suggested two ways to hold your keys depending on many you have, and then coming down on an assailant like you’re “drawing a ‘X’ with your hand for attacking.”

The overall message is that keys can be used as a weapon in a confrontation, but some tactics are much more effective than others, and the most widely-publicized method may actually be counterproductive for your safety.

The simple idea of “I’ll use my keys!” is tied to what Rubin calls the “illusion of safety”; lots of people are afraid to carry more serious self-defense devices, because they fear they’ll be turned against them. Also, most of us would rather just not think about the upsetting prospect of being attacks. But if someone is close enough to poke with your keys, you’re probably better off pulling their hair, scratching with your fingernails, and going for their eyes. Also, she points out that scratching someone “gets their DNA.”

Hmm, wonder why no one wants to think about all this.