Humanity

President Obama at Newtown, CT

The original purpose of this blog was to be a journal of the tears I shed, why I shed them, and whether they were worth shedding. The murder of twenty children and six adults in Newtown, CT has had me crying a few times, over the last few days. Here is President Obama’s speech at a prayer vigil for the victims. It also made me weep, but, as always, I’m glad I took the time to listen.


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VICTORY!

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Why Obama Now

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Eureka! USPO-ISP!

cell-tower
I just had a wild idea…

I live in a rural area, and my income is dependent on a reliable internet connection. Because I’m rural, I’m paying three or four times as much as broadband customers in other regions for much slower access speeds. There are cellular data plans, but they’re not competitive, yet, with wired broadband, and the wireless data carriers aren’t required to stay net-neutral.

I think what we need a national wireless network. A modern equivalent of Rural Electrification to get wireless broadband to every corner of the country. A network where you didn’t have to buy an unnecessary land-line or tv-cable package or cell-phone contract to get connected. A net-neutral on-ramp to the internet that won’t mess with your data or access speeds in order to gain some sort of competitive advantage. A network that every computer, laptop, and tablet could connect to, anywhere, all under a single personal or family account.

Naturally, we’d make this new national network part of the US Postal Service. It’d still be for profit like the current postal system, but it’d be the Public Option for broadband access. Profit isn’t the main directive, providing access to a critical service is. The costs would be low so as few barriers to entry as possible for the average citizen, and there could be federal assistance in place for lower income families. It would be parallel to the existing wireless networks of the cell phone companies, but it’d force them to be more competitive in price and service.

And it would create thousands upon thousands of solid, union jobs.

Too crazy?
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The Final Encyclopedia

The Final Encyclopedia
I’ve been re-listening to the audiobook version of Gordon R. Dickson’s “The Childe Cycle,” recently, and I’m currently on “The Final Encyclopedia (TFE). It’s probably my favorite though it really is difficult to chose as every story in the Cycle has amazing characters and elements. That’s probably why I usually think of it as a complete set of works rather than individual books.

I’m not sure how old I was when I read my first book from this collection (probably around junior-high), but I know which one it was. It was “Dorsai!” Dorsai! is practically a pamphlet compared to TFE - 7 hours in audiobook compared to over 30 hours - but it’s the lynchpin of the set. The main character of Dorsai! is Donal Graeme and it’s also the story that introduces Kensie and Ian Graeme, his uncles, that for all the brevity of their appearances have a massive influence to the overall arc of the Cycle.

Lost Dorsai
I can’t begin to describe how influential these books have been to me, but one of the main things that’s been running through my mind is the concept of the Final Encyclopedia, itself. In the books it’s described as a futuristic repository of the sum of all human knowledge (as imagined in the early 80’s). A tool that would allow humanity to unlock it’s true creative potential.

In the main, I think Dickson was right. The Internet in its current form is essentially what he was describing the Final Encyclopedia to be; a tool that a scholar can use to bring whatever knowledge he or she doesn’t already have immediately to hand. And - despite what detractors would say - I think we’re using it to essentially accomplish what it was ultimately used for in the books; the further evolution of humanity.

This is an amazing time to be human.
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Downside Up



I watched this with my son, and it was just beautiful and moving. Pretty much reaffirms everything I believe to be important. (And I love Peter Gabriel. That song was a good choice. I highly recommend watching it in HD and fullscreen.)
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1549

I'm sure we've all heard this amazing story. I have to admit it has me pretty choked up. The amazing captain who stayed calm and competent and thinking of others as he faced what could have been his final moments. The amazing crew who was right there with him helping him get those passengers to safety. The first responders who sped to the scene despite potential danger to help. And the passengers for staying calm and helping each other as they quickly evacuated the plane. This was not some hand-picked group chosen for their talents or special abilities, but rather a sample of regular people. These are some fantastic people and I'm glad I live in a culture that allows people to be the best of what they can be.

4 hankies
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Delivery

Since there's no Apple Store within 600 miles of me, I do most of my shopping online, and have used all sorts of different package carriers to deliver things for me. DHL was a nightmare, and the post office is a little slow but extremely reliable, and the big two - FedEx and UPS - were always about the same.

Except that I just got a call from my mom relating a story to me that has me totally floored. My dad is a Vietnam Veteran and also a Registered Nurse. Years ago, he was exposed to Hepatitis from a needle stick and now is on medication to treat some liver problems. The VA ships him his medicine every week via FedEx. The scheduling is a bit tight and typically it arrives exactly when he's going to be needing it, and delays in shipping would be disastrous. Until recently, the young man that drove the route through our town for FedEx understood that my parents both work during the day and might not be home to accept delivery and was perfectly happy to grant their request to simply leave the package at their front door so they could have it the day it was delivered instead of delaying arrival until one of them happened to be home.

Around Thanksgiving, a new person started driving the FedEx truck that services my parents area, and despite repeated requests and explanations, refused to simply leave the package. Technically, the package required a signature and she simply wasn't going to deliver the medicine without one. This lead to many days of my parents scrambling to try to be home on the day of delivery despite the fact that they couldn't get a precise time of arrival from FedEx and had to sometimes wait hours simply to be available when the FedEx truck arrived. My dad called the VA and got them to drop the signature requirement hopefully to facilitate an easier delivery.

The next week (the week of Christmas), the new driver didn't arrive at all despite the tracking page on FedEx's website saying that the package was on the truck to be delivered. My dad called FedEx and was finally able to convince them that he desperatly needed to have that medicine and to have her come back. It was nearly 6 p.m. by the time she arrived, well after the she was supposed to be done for the day. When she arrived she was angry and told my dad, "I don't care what sort of problems you have, I'm not leaving the package without a signature." This got my dad angry and he told her that he wanted the name of her supervisor and that he didn't want her to be the person delivering to them, anymore. She refused to give her supervisor's name or even her own first name so my dad wrote a letter to the CEO of the company explaining the incident and why, if they didn't fire her, they should at least have another person deliver to his house.

The finishing touch on the story? Today my dad received a letter from FedEx explaining that they're not going to deliver
anything to his house, anymore.

After failing to deliver critical
medicine to a veteran, they've decided to fire my dad as a customer. Amazing.
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Springfield Victory Mission

This isn't a post about something that made my weepy. This is about something that made me furious. I was watching the very touching Monday night (12/8/08) Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on my computer via my Dish Network DVR. Craig's mother passed away the prior week, and he was eulogizing her on his first show back from attending her funeral in Scotland.

I was weepy through much of that. Both my parents are still alive, but I do understand loss and it's very easy to empathize.

Toward the end of the show, though, I was skipping through the commercials and I happened across a local commercial for "Springfield Victory Mission" in Springfield Missouri. The commercial showed a man very solemnly stating that he'd had a difficult life, but that Springfield Victory Mission had helped him turn his life around. That's great, as far as it goes, but the infuriating part was that the end of the commercial had a narrator saying the tag line; "
Springfield Victory Mission... eliminating poverty from the inside out."

My jaw dropped. I couldn't help myself. I jumped up from my chair, fists clenched, and roared at my computer screen, "Oh, FUCK YOU!" I was floored that they would say something so horrible and insidious. There's a lot of injustice in the world, and a lot to make me angry, but I'm not the type who typically yells at their TV. This made me completely lose control, though. The insinuation that religion (or the lack thereof) determines whether some kid goes to bed hungry, or even has a bed to sleep in, for that matter, is just evil. The idea that people earn poverty by choosing (or having been indoctrinated with) the wrong beliefs is simply vile. And its subtle hinting that poverty is a result of internal lack rather than external forces - especially forces that might be completely out of a person's control - is beyond wrong.

So a great big, "Up yours!" for Springfield Victory Mission. Whatever good work you've done by helping those in need you've undone with your insinuations that, until they drank your kool-aid, it was really what they deserved.
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Mars Phoenix

I've been emotionally attached to the Mars Phoenix mission from the beginning. My son and I watched it's landing live and cheered. Also, I tend to anthropomorphize things, which means I end up empathizing with them. Add in the fact that the mission team also has a Twitter profile for the lander and it's even harder not to feel for that little machine. Then this comes across Twitter:



Hard not to feel some pride and sadness. 2 hankies
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Ezra Phoenix Chatterton 1996-2008

I've written about Ezra, before. He's the young man who went to Blizzard Entertainment and made a World of Warcraft Non Player Character in Bloodhoof Village through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I just saw that Ezra has passed away.
www.ezrachatterton.org

My thoughts are with his father and the rest of his family. 4 hankies
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Craig Ferguson - 10/2/08

This one's a two-parter:



I thought it was pretty touching that Craig would meet this kid, see how remarkable and fantastic he was, and then get him on the show, right away. (2 hankies) Then came the whammy, at the end of the show:



This was just really touching. I've always liked his humor, but now I have a lot of respect for the man, too. 3 hankies
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Early morning conversation with the boy - 9/15/08

I've been having a rough time, recently. I'm having a difficult time, financially, because gas and just about everything else is getting more expensive and we've been living on a fixed income for years. Also, I got into an argument with my folks, yesterday, because I pointed out that Republican shenanigans are why my Mom's retirement account with AIG is in jeopardy. They're both hard-core Religious-Right Republicans and my Mom actually ended up shouting at me about it, telling me to "shut the fuck up!" (She rarely cusses...) It didn't matter if I was right, they were entitled to their opinion. Pointing out that you can't have an opinion that's contrary to actual facts only made it worse. Naturally this stirred my ever-lurking insomnia and when I got up at 6am, this morning, to get the kids bathed and fed before school, I was feeling pretty rocky.

My girl is autistic and for some reason was really pissed off that I put syrup on her waffles so she was yelling and screaming all through breakfast. A little while later I was just chattering at her while I was dressing her (she's completely non-verbal all conversations with her are one-sided) and told her that I was going to be taking care of her for the rest of my life, so she'd just better get used to putting up with me.

My son heard this, and immediately hopped over to where we were sitting and asked, "When you die, can I take care of her?"

I told him, "Well, son, that'd be very nice of you, but I don't know if you'll really want to. By then you'll have a wife and kids of your own, and you may not be in a position to."

I then turned back to my daughter, putting her shoes on, and continued, "Which is sad because when I'm gone she'll have to go into an institution, and there won't anybody who loves her, there."

And I started to cry.

I wasn't expecting it. It just flooded over me. The realization that this poor girl, a grown woman by then, who simply can't make sense of her world, will be shuffled off into some sort of institution where she'll be stored away to count down the rest of her days. 5 hankies.

** Addendum **

This was an unusual event for me. As this diary illustrates, I cry a lot, and all sorts of things can trip me up and push me past my emotional tipping point, but rarely do I cry about events in my own life. Which, when you look at the facts of my life - widowed at 28, lost the love of my life who was pregnant with a son I never got the opportunity to know, and an autistic daughter that I'll likely be caregiver to for the rest of my life - is really astounding.

There are days I feel put upon by the universe, and days I feel sorry for myself and inwardly grumble that my life couldn't have at least been simpler, if not altogether more fortunate. But since I finished grieving for my wife and second son (which did take about 2 1/2 years, though) - but once I finished grieving their loss, I rarely am made sad by my own circumstances. Today, really, it wasn't even my own circumstance that made me sad. It was the idea that there will be a time in my daughter's life that she won't have somebody who loves her as much as I do. Hell, even typing that sentence is making me teary-eyed, again, but it's not for me - it's for her.

I spent the better part of this afternoon absolutely crying my eyes out. I mean wracking sobs and using up most of a box of tissue. Every time I'd try to come back to this post to edit or finish it, it'd set me off again and I wouldn't be able to do anything. I guess once I do have a chance to stop and think about the tragedies that are happening to me and mine, it hits me much harder than all these times when I merely get misty-eyed over a touching movie scene or a tragic comic book hero.
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Colin the Whale Euthanized

I know that sometimes there's no choice, but it doesn't make it less painful. It's so easy to empathize with higher mammals because in so many ways they are like us. 3 hankies
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Olympics

I just saw the medal ceremony for the 55KG men's freestyle wrestling. Henry Cejudo of the US won gold. My son and I had watched a couple matches while getting ready for school, but I hadn't realized the US had already taken the gold. Hearing the Star Spangled Banner while that young man stood up there, so proud, really moved me. 3 hankies
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Women's Fencing

I saw this article linked on Digg. I found the photos (and captions) very moving. The one of the young woman doubled over, crying after her defeat made me teary-eyed. 1 hankie
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Discovery Channel Song

I haven't seen this commercial in months, but a short version was just on as I was watching "Dirty Jobs." The first time I saw it I just fell apart. I laughed and cried, and watched it over and over. It still makes me cry. Tears of joy and pride. We are a remarkable species living on a remarkable planet. The very fact that we're capable of realizing this just fills me with hope and happiness. 3 hankies

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Barack Obama at the Annual NCLR Conference



at 3:58:

"Maybe the system is not designed for people like us."

It was a comment about education, but it reflects a broader feeling that so many people share; that the system just isn't working for them. And they're right - it's not.

The system isn't working when a child in a crumbling school graduates without learning to read, or doesn't graduate at all.

The system's not working when a young person at the top of her class, a young person with so much to offer this country can't attend a public college or university

The system isn't working when hispanics are losing their jobs faster than almost anybody else are working jobs that pay less and come with fewer benefits than almost anybody else.

The system isn't working when twelve million people living in hiding and hundreds of thousands are crossing our borders illegally each year.

When companies hire undocumented immigrants instead of legal citizens because they want to avoid paying overtime or avoid unionization or exploiting those workers,

When communities are terrorized by ICE Immigration Raids,
When nursing mothers are torn from their babies,
When children come home from school to find their parents missing,
When people are detained without access to legal council,

When all that is happening, the system just isn't working and we need to change it.


This is a nation of immigrants. It's sad that many of us quickly forget that and make the modern immigrant experience such a harrowing one. 2 hankies
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The Sugarmonster

I just read this remarkable post, and it has me floored.

I've been overweight most of my life. My dad has this weird food=love thing and I was a fat kid because of it (we used to come home from the weekly grocery shopping with boxes and boxes of snack cakes and he was always encouraging me to eat, eat, eat). There were kids worse off than me, but I always felt like a fat kid and occasionally was treated like one, too. When I finally moved away from home and went to college, I lost about 80 lbs. and looked and felt better than any other time of my life. That's also, ironically, the point at which I met my wife. She also had always been a little chunky and had just shed her excess pounds, as well. We celebrated our newfound love by immediately getting pregnant. That was ok. I was ready to take a break from school so I started working and we got an apartment together and she stayed in school to finish her degree.

Pregnancy put pounds on the both of us. By the time our first son was born, we were both a little chubby, again, though not serious. Then we moved to Chicago so she could do her post-grad work and internship (Registered Dietician), and I got a job at an ad agency doing web work. She was already pregnant again, but we'd take walks with our son in the stroller, and I'd also go bike riding on my own. One bit of exercise that I got most every weekday was I spent my lunch break at a park near my work walking for about 45 minutes, or so. I was still a bit chunky, but in reasonable shape. She gave birth to our daughter, finished her school and got her license and a job at a big Hospital down in the city. We signed a mortgage on a nice townhouse in a good suburb and got pregnant a third time. Things were going well.

Then my wife died in a car accident. I was laid so low and so out of sorts that I started smoking again and basically sat down for two and a half years. No more exercising - hell, hardly even any walking. I was convinced by my family to leave the suburbs and use the life-insurance money to buy a house down in my hometown in Arkansas where the cost of living was about a quarter of what it is in the Chicago suburbs and I could more easily afford to be a single parent. Except Illinois is flat and the Chicago suburbs are full of sidewalks and parks and paved walking paths. In Arkansas, not so much. There are some walking paths, but they're relatively rare and not usually flat. With the hills it can be very difficult to walk very far unless you're already moderately healthy - and I was no longer even moderately healthy. Bike riding is worse - you have to be pretty damn fit to bike in the Ozarks. Not an entry-level area. So the weight packed on, though to be honest I really wasn't paying much attention to it. I was busy mourning my wife and an unknown son and trying to learn how to be a single parent (and discovering that my little girl was low-functioning autistic).

Just as a side note to all the assholes who cry in horror when they hear about somebody obese and shout, "But how could you let yourself get so fat?! Don't you just want to curl up in shame that you're so lazy?!" The answer is that sometimes there's so much other shit going on that you don't even realize it's happening.

So the weight was building up and somewhere after about 3 years I decided it's time to quit smoking. It's bad for me and it's just damn expensive, anymore. So I quit. It's not too hard once you get up the courage to actually do it. Except the pounds really started piling on once I wasn't smoking. I was already pretty fat by this time, but suddenly I got huge.

Now I started noticing. By the time I finally got my life in enough order that I could focus on figuring out my weight, I was tipping the scales at about 420 pounds. Some of the horrible, humiliating things she describes in her post were starting to happen to me, and, frankly, it scared me. My kids are already shy one parent, I didn't want them to be totally orphaned.

Thankfully, things are a little better, now
*. I'm still fat, but I'm mobile and capable.

That's not the point, though. The point is that I empathized with this young woman, not just because I empathize with everybody, but because I've been a ways down the road she went down, and it's a bleak place to be. Also, I feel just a burning rage at jerks who've never had to cope with a serious, debilitating problem like this, yet feel perfectly free to offer the harshest criticism and the cruelest taunts. To them a I give a righteous "Fuck You." 3 hankies




* (I eat a little better, now, that I've learned to cook at home more instead of always just taking the kids out for fast food. Also, one of the best things I've done for my health is to replace my office chair with an exercise ball. I've seen videos and posts making fun of it, but after just 3 weeks of sitting on a bouncy ball instead of puddling in an overstuffed office chair, I lost 30 pounds and felt far, far more energetic. I'm still working towards getting healthier, but thankfully I'm no longer at the point where the smallest tasks completely drain me. I'm feeling mostly pretty normal, now. This fall I'm going to start walking my kids to school instead of driving them. That should help quite a bit, too.)
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Buzz Aldrin punches conspiracy theorist.



I'm trying to make sense of my reaction, here. First, I don't like the way the clip is edited. Showing the punch over and over is completely unnecessary and too sensationalist. It's almost reveling in the violence of the incident and essentially undermining the truly outrageous parts. (I don't advocate violence, but there are times when you're perfectly in your rights to use physical means to defend yourself or even your honor. Bart Sibrel - the man accosting Col. Aldrin - clearly deserved a punch in the face.) Buzz Aldrin was essentially being libeled by this man who was calling him a liar and a coward. Colonel Aldrin rode millions of miles in a glorified tin-can with death millimeters away and was the second person (of only handful, all told) to step foot on a world that wasn't the one of his birth. And that's why I think I teared up: The shock at this man coming up to try to physically and verbally intimidate Col. Aldrin... I'm just outraged and angered. Col. Aldrin is a true hero not only for the United States, but for the world. His achievements and the achievements of the Apollo program were a milestone for Humanity and a major step in our advancement as a species. To denigrate those accomplishments is not only to denigrate the heroes who actually accomplished this herculean task, but to denigrate all of Humanity, as well. What a shit-head. 3 hankies

(I tried and tried to find a version of this video that didn't have the instant replays, but couldn't find one. Seems like everybody missed the point.)
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Vilayanur Ramachandran: A journey to the center of your mind











The more I learn about the human animal, the more amazed I am.
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Sir Ken Robinson: Creativity











17 minutes in, talking about "epiphany" and the dancer. 2 hankies. The whole talk is wonderful, really.
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TED: Arthur Benjamin and "Mathemagic."











I teared up at the very end of this one. I was also laughing at the same time. I think it's because I wanted to stand up and applaud the guy. Sorry about giving away the ending. 1 hankie

(I know these posts seem to come in fits and starts, or maybe repetitive as I watch multiple episodes or clips from the same source, but I'm just documenting each time I get weepy as they happen.)
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TED: Jill Bolte Taylor on her stroke.











Just watch it. A remarkable and beautiful talk from Jill Bolte Taylor. It helps reinforce my belief that we are a truly remarkable species and that we don't need to resort to fairy tales or the supernatural to discover the profound and powerful truths within us. 4 hankies

(Somebody on Digg.com posted a list of most popular TED talks that I'll likely be working my way through, so expect more of these, soon. TED talks usually cover profound material.)
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TED: Susan Savage-Rumbaugh on Bonobos











Chimpanzee and Bonobos have long fascinated me. These close cousins of ours are proto-people. This video illustrates that in an impossible-to-deny fashion. I don't mind eating meat, I don't even protest most animal testing (if it's necessary). People are a few rungs up the evolutionary ladder, and I do value a human's life more than most other animals. The other great apes, though... they're practically human. They deserve to be treated as such.

A bit over six minutes in: "This is a smile on the face of a Bonobo." 1 hankie

At the very end: "We're sharing tools, technologies, and language with another species." 2 hankies
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Where the hell is Matt?



Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Sometimes, I just see something that so reinvigorates my faith in this fantastic creature that is Homo Sapiens. Artisans and engineers and poets, we are the height of evolutionary achievement, and yet we are selfish and jingoistic and sometimes downright crazy.

I so thoroughly enjoyed this video and so thoroughly felt it's power that I was both laughing and crying for nearly it's entire duration. 4 hankies
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Oral is Normal

I saw this article on Digg, today, and it essentially says that today's teens, when they fool around, aren't just having plain ol' vanilla vaginal sex, they're also having oral sex, as well.

To that I say, "Good."

To me that's a sign that teenagers are much more knowledgeable about sex than we who grew up in prior generations. They know more and if they're doing more diverse activities, they're probably enjoying it more, too. All to the good.

There's no point in arguing about whether or not they
SHOULD have sex - the fact is they do or they will no matter how we adults feel about it. So our jobs (as their parents, relatives, or friends) is to make sure they're educated and able to assess and reduce the risk involved with being sexually active - and it certainly doesn't hurt that their knowledge makes them enjoy and appreciate their sexuality more than we did.

When I was a teenager having sex with other teenagers, it was, on the whole, pretty bad sex. I had pretty bad sex with my first couple of lovers when I was in college, too, but this time there was a big difference. This time my lovers weren't blushing virgins who didn't know any better. They were equipped with the knowledge of what to expect and what they liked. And sadly I still knew very little. So I studied. Partly through the Sinclair Institute's fantastic Better Sex Video Series, and partly hands-on, but I studied and learned. Eventually I not only had the knowledge of what I liked and what my lovers would likely enjoy, but how to mitigate the risks of being sexually active. All these things that were never taught or talked about when I was a teenager though I was in dire need of it.

At least it looks like today's teens aren't as bad off as I was (despite those abominable "abstinence-only" sex ed policies). "Good," I say. Maybe this generation will be less messed up than those that preceded it.
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Crier

I've always been an emotional guy. I remember the first time I cried at a movie was when I saw Disney's "The Fox and the Hound" when I was about 7 years old. I don't recall much about the movie, but I do remember I cried buckets because they couldn't be friends, anymore. Books, TV, Movies - hell, even sappy commercials. Any touching story had the potential to make me weepy. My wife was the same way. I remember more than once we'd be watching TV together and something emotional would happen, and we'd look at each other at the same time with tears in our eyes. Sometimes we'd laugh because we were such saps, sometimes we'd just snuggle closer and continue watching. (Side note: That's one of the things I miss most - she and I were so in sync on so many levels.)

So I've always been a weepy guy. Then my wife died and I went into a long, two-and-a-half year grieving period where I cried a
lot. Sad tears, angry tears, tears of resignation - her death turned me inside-out, emotionally. Grief ends, though, and in time I came back to my senses and my personality started to re-emerge. Except now I'm even weepier. My eyes well up with tears at the drop of a hat, now. Commercials about graduation or mother's day, small emotional moments in movies and TV shows, even relatively un-empathetic characters have my full empathy, now. It feels ten times stronger than it used to be.

I don't usually mind it, though. I think empathy is one of the more valuable characteristics a person can have and the reason I react so strongly is because I
feel so strongly. Powerful emotions have their attraction, even negative ones. It's not that I only cry at sad things, either. Pride, anger, joy - if it's strong enough, it'll bring tears to my eyes. So the fact that I get weepy doesn't bother me, but sometimes I wonder exactly how much and how often? It seems like a lot, but is it really? So I've started a Cry Diary. A blog where I keep track of my tears and what caused them. It might give me an idea if I have a very poetic soul or I'm just a huge pussy.
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NASA Family gathering.

I recall times when I was a kid when we'd gather as a family. Mostly it was at meals, and a fair amount around the television. I don't look back at TV with any fond memories, though. Even as a kid I found most TV to be a waste of time, and that's exactly what I used it for - to burn through my childhood because I was clueless as to how better spend it.

Tonight I gathered my own little family around the television. We didn't watch any sports or some milquetoast, censor-safe drama or comedy, though. We watched NASA TV live and saw the JPL team guide the Mars Phoenix through EDL (entry, descent, and landing). My 8 year-old son and I were excited and waited on the edge of our seats during the "Seven Minutes of Terror." It went flawlessly, though, and we cheered with the engineers at the JPL mission control when the telemetry showed touchdown.

There are times when I wonder if I'm doing everything right as a parent, but tonight there was no doubt. Getting him excited about science, engineering and math and instilling in him a love for knowledge and exploration that spurs the growth of all of humanity... I can think of no better things to help him as he develops.
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Anti-Christian Antics in Wisconsin School

Some religious zealots - specifically Christian zealots - are trying to paint this as anti-Christian. They're being biased and short-sighted, but they're correct in thinking that the school is in the wrong, here.  I had something similar happen with my son in his second-grade class, though it was our lack of reverence that got him into trouble.

After I'd picked him up from school, one day, he was acting upset. I asked why and he explained that he'd been held inside at his desk for part of recess (the standard punishment for second-graders). When I asked why, though, I got a bit of a shock. He was being punished for using the exclamation "
Oh, my God!" This seriously worried me. I stopped by his classroom the next morning and had a chat with his teacher about it. She said a couple of the kids in class were highly religious and were taking offense to hearing what they considered a blasphemous phrase. I, in turn, had to explain to the teacher that by officially punishing my son for not following a particular religion's tenets she was in fact establishing a preferred religion. I explained that we were not religious and I really wanted to avoid that. I had no problem with her explaining to him that it'd be polite not to say that phrase, but I couldn't actually allow her to punish him for using it. She understood the distinction, thankfully, and was willing to work with me. Unlike the teacher in this article. The school in the article needs to unbend a bit on their rules, and the parent of the zealous student also needs to unwind a bit. I grew up around such zealotry - that's why I'm making certain that my children are exposed to as little of it as possible.
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