Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I can think, offhand, of about nine different behavior patterns I’d like to see cut from the gene pool – being a Winger, tailgating, and using leaf-blowers being right up there at the top of the list – but there are really good reasons why we don’t just start weeding, folks.
Look up the genetics behind malaria sometime, for a nice thought exercise: there’s one.
Look up the eugenics movement at the beginning of the previous century for another.
Here’s a third: maybe fat guys have other genes attached to them that maybe we might like to keep in the gene pool – like, oh, I don’t know – intelligence? Creativity? Not being an asshole? You weed out the genes for obesity, those genes go with them. I’m not even a geneticist, I just did a few years as an anthropology major, and even I know that.
Also, notice what the medical report says about the program they are imitating:
"The program's roots began in countries such as India and China , where the respective governments of those countries are attempting to stem the tide of overpopulation. Sums of money are paid to men who submit to voluntary vasectomy. The program is highly effective, given that the incentives for action are both a limit to overcrowding (societal concern) and monetary gain (personal concern). Given the effectiveness, The San Francisco Medical Society took note and took action. "
This program is sterilizing guys at random -- random folk from the gene pool who don't want to have kids. There's no attempt at eugenics at work here.
Whereas our buddies in California have an agenda:
"By offering such a highly effective form of birth control freely to men who, by clinical diagnosis, have been deemed genetically inferior to the normalized median of homo sapien development[by which they mean, they have decided these guys are too fat], such a gene line would effectively be eliminated. "
There is a giant difference between trying to cut down the overall size of a population and trying to weed out specific genetic strains from a population. These guys don't need to pretend they don't know that, either.
Similar bills, let us not forget, are being pushed through legislatures in eight or nine other states, including Colorado and Kansas. Academic Bill of Rights, Horowitz calls these things. Many on the Right are all for this nonsense.
The Right for a university student to sue a professor because the professor tells him that evolution is, in fact, based on evidence – and creationism is not.
The Right for a university student to sue a professor because a professor tells a class that, in fact, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – because that means the professor is showing liberal bias in the classroom.
The Right for a university student to sue a professor because a professor tells a class that the flood story in Gilgamesh predates the flood story in Genesis – because that suggests that the Christian Bible is not literal truth, which shows bias against Fundamentalist Christian religion.
What exactly will we have, if these people win? Not universities. But apparently universities are not what they are after.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Head on over there to Dr. Laura's website and any number of the Right-Wing Wimmen's blog's if you don't believe it. Lots and lots about how women need to stay thin (Dr. Laura's big on this one) and if they don't, how do they expect their men to care about them?
(Have a look at Dr. Laura's photograph some day. Eating disorder? You make the call.)
And the Shiavo case, which I've been staying away from, is all about this -- a woman trying to stay skinny so her parents would love her. Starving for affection. Now she's exactly what they want: exactly what all Conservative want their women to be: wholly in their control, wholly something they can use.
Well, D.E.D. space and Lawyers, Guns & Money and Dr. B. are all covering this one already
but I thought I'd yap about it anyway.
Women need to stop caring what they weigh.
If women let other people -- male or female -- decide what their bodies should look like (especially if those other people have decided that that image is something impossible, for heaven's sake!), what their bodies should be like, they're letting them control something basic about them.
That's a major problem.
Women are also, by letting themselves be convinced that it's their own bodies that are at fault, that are the problem, letting themselves be distracted from the real issues.
So here are some things to remember:
(1) Weight is not the issue. Healthy lifestyle is the issue. Lots of studies to back this one up. Get some exercise and eat right and you'll be doing as well as you can, unless you get a terminal disease, let me add, which by the way you really have not much control over. Oh, not smoking is a good plan and staying away from those transfats, that'll probably help, but who knows why the big C hits some people. It just does. (I speak from experience here.)
(2) Being 10-60 pounds overweight has no effect on your health. Not kidding about this one. Look it up.
(3) Dieting, on the other hand, is so extremely destructive to your health, ai, you would not believe how bad it is for you. Dieting is what kills you. Not being overweight. Dieting. CUT THAT STUFF OUT.
(4) Furthermore, all that time you're spending worrying about what you're eating and whether you're eating too much and what you're going to eat next and what you're going to eat tomorrow and how much weight you're going to lose next week and how much you weigh now and how many calories were in your lunch and so on and on and on? Do you know what you could be doing with all that time and intellectual energy? Electing someone to office who wasn't Bush, just for starters. Solving the energy crisis, for another. Learning Hebrew. Writing a novel. Playing with your kids. Planting a garden. I don't know, whatever you want. Just stop wasting your time on diets! Good Lord! Life is short! Do something that matters!
All right, then.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Over in Florida? They're passing that Academic Bill of Right, the one Horowitz has been dancing around the country lying about, but they're also considering allowing students to SUE professors who tell students that they're wrong about things.
Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.
“Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue.
Every single one of you who voted for Bushco? This is the world you wanted. I hope you like it.
Now Steve Sailer is happy to report, on his blog, about a study that's been done, showing that teachers in schools discriminate against kids with these funny names:
Richard Morin writes in the Washington Post about a study of Florida students by economist David Figlio that found:
Here's a reason to think twice before naming your newborn Ashlee, Da'Quan or LaQuisha: Economist David Figlio says his research shows that children with such names fare worse in school than siblings with more typical first names.
And it's not the children's fault, says Figlio, a professor at the University of Florida. He argues that teachers subconsciously expect less from students with first names that have unusual spellings and punctuation. As a consequence, he says, these boys and girls suffer in terms of the quality of the attention and instruction they get in the classroom -- differences that show up on test day.
Sailer goes on to say it's probably got not as much to do with the teacher's discimination, though, as it does with the fecklessness of that (black) mother, who is, no doubt, a slut, and an ignorant slut -- you know how black folk are:
"The kind of woman who names her son D'Shawn or Trevon is more likely to have children by more than one man than the kind of woman who names her kid Alexander or Ansel. If she gives one son a super-black name and another son a more mainstream name, it might mean they had different baby-daddies with different tastes, and different child-rearing styles and/or different genes."
" Naming your kid Jamal instead of James sends him a message about how you expect him to act, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that individuals Jamals act more like the average Jamal on average than individual James do."
There's more. It's charming.
I'd point out to Steve that over here in Arkansas white folks have been naming their kids Fab'ezia and LaZilla and other funny names (funny by my standards: I'd guess their parents must think these names are just fine), but no doubt he would just see that as corruption in the culture: thos Black Folks Leak, or something. Hollywood. Who knows.
Also, the point of the Washington Post article? Which Steve seems to have missed?
"But, [Figlio] said, names can have a subtle effect, and teachers need to be aware of this potential bias. "
Saturday, March 26, 2005
“This guy wants to teach evolution in the public schools,” I explain. “Those guys don’t want him to. Because they’re Christians, and they believe it contradicts their text.”
She watches the movie awhile. “Who wins?”
Hah, hah, hah.
Isn’t that a funny question?
There's this bit in the movie I had forgotten, where the lawyer for the Christians asks the lawyer for the science teacher why he wants to take "the beautiful dream" away from the Christians, especially since it's all they have.
"Like my Golden Dancer," says the lawyer for the science teacher wistfully.
The science lawyer tells about Golden Dancer, a rocking horse he had longed for as a child, how beautiful it was in the store window, how much he wanted it, how it shone in the sunlight. Glittering stirrups, gilded saddle, the works.
Then he gets it, Christmas morning, leaps on it, starts to rock, it falls to bits: it's made of wax and glue and pressed board. It's a lie, a sham. It won't hold together.
Even if it's all they have, if it's not the truth, we don't teach it. What's true: that's what we teach in the schools. That's what will get them through.
(Of course, you know what the kid got from the movie: now she wants a rocking horse. Ai.)
But way cool anyway:
The big news this week [is] that a Tyrannosaurus Rex discovered in Montana has reportedly yielded soft tissue, including blood vessels and possibly even cells ...
The discovery could lead to new information about dinosaur physiology and the relationship between dinosaurs and other animals; similarities have already been pointed out between the dinosaur's blood vessels and those of an ostrich. But scientists were quick to play down the Jurassic Park possibility - that of finding some intact genetic material and using it for cloning.
Friday, March 25, 2005
I taught the New Testament right before break -- and I was right, BTW, most of my students missed all the quiz questions on the Sermon on the Mount, including the one on where Jesus wants us to pray -- and clued my students into where the word "Easter" comes from (from Eastre, an Old English goddess of the Spring, a fertility goddess, more or less), and asked them why they thought they had all those chicks and bunnies and eggs in their baskets, then, if not to celebrate fertility?
That always dismays about half of them and delights the other half.
But I have noticed that lately, here in the Wal-Mart, we are getting, along with the bright yellow marshmellow chicks and chocolate eggs, white chocolate crosses (no bleeding Jesuses on them, yet), and little eggs that hatch out tiny replicas of Bibles: to remind Your Child of the True Meaning of Easter.
And, up in Fayetteville, in the Target, you can buy, instead of an Easter basket? For your little boy? An actual Combat Hummer! Complete with detachable rocket launchers to fire at enemy soldiers! You put the candy inside, see, and after he's eaten the candy, he can fire the rocket launchers at the enemy! Onward Christian Soldiers!
The True Meaning of Christianity!
Arkansas. You can't make this state up.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
I always did drop in, but now it's my first stop most days, and it takes me quite awhile, most days, to get away from the site.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
I'm not nearly as convinced as one of Jack's commenter's is that we will triumph in the end. I know too many of Rush's ditto-boys. They're too hooked on the story of themselves as the victims, and too wild with delight at being given permission (by Rush and now by Bushco) to set their hatred free -- convincing them that their hatred is neither justified nor helpful, and they are not, in fact, the victims in this country: whose voice is powerful enough to do that?
I don't see anyone around at the moment who can do it.
Here's why it doesn't work:
When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff.
What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion.
That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule. Acknowledging the Harvard study would have forced the agency to consider more stringent controls, said environmentalists and the study's author.
The Harvard study concluded that mercury controls similar to those the EPA proposed could save nearly $5 billion a year through reduced neurological and cardiac harm. Last Tuesday, however, officials said the health benefits were worth no more than $50 million a year while the cost to industry would be $750 million a year.
Hammitt's Harvard Center for Risk Analysis has been widely cited by the Bush administration on various science issues. Hammitt assumed leadership of the center from John D. Graham, who is now the administrator of the Federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Hammitt noted that Graham was criticized during his confirmation hearings for being "pro-industry."
"I didn't think that was terribly fair," Hammitt said. "Now here we are, doing the same kind of analysis and it comes out in a more environmentally protective direction than EPA is, and they ignore it. There is an irony in that."
The Harvard study was commissioned through EPA grants to an independent nonprofit organization of northeastern-state governments that works on regional environmental issues. Praveen Amar, director of science and policy at the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, said the EPA provided about $270,000 in funding for the project. Amar said that scientist Glenn Rice, Hammitt's co-author, is an EPA employee who had been given time to work on a doctoral thesis at the Harvard center.
"Are you saving the industry a billion dollars but taking away $10 billion worth of benefits for the general public?" Amar asked.
The problem with "Free Market" capitalism is that it's not free. It's manipulated, always, owned, always. Someone benefits, someone's getting really rich. When there's that much money at stake, is that someone going to let the welfare of a few hundred (million) poor (theoretical) saps he doesn't even know get in the way of his making a couple more gazillion bucks?
Let's be serious here.
Especially when that guy doesn't actually believe what the scientists tell him about, oh, global warming. Or the damage industry is doing to the environment. Because his preacher told him Jesus wouldn't let that happen. And who knows more, Jesus or some scientist? And if something bad happens to all those people down river, well, it's just because they weren't right with Jesus. Or didn't work hard enough. Or something.
Can't be his fault. He worked hard all his life for everything he has. That's all he knows.
Anyway, we're all sick, and it's Spring Break, the confluence of which has kept me from doing much posting. It was also my birthday. I got four Beatles CDs from Mr. Delagar & the kid & Uncle Charger (Mr. Delagar's buddy), along with Trivial Pursuit: The Book Lover's Edition, which is way cool. It's like watching Jeopardy when all the categories are literature.
The CDs are because I have only recently discovered the Beatles. This is because I grew up in a house with a record player or a radio of any kind. My father had a transistor radio which he kept in the bathroom, to listen to ball games on while he shaved, which I once accidently dropped in a sink filled with water (I never told anyone about this, and did you know if you put transistor radios on window sills they dry out good as new?), but that was it. I never heard music growing up, not until I started riding the bus to high school -- an hour each way and the bus driver played the radio, probably to keep us quiet. That's all the music I got, and I know almost nothing about music, which drives Mr. Delagar, who (among all the multiple other things he does) composes music insane.
Anyway, I like these Beatles. They're pretty cool, aren't they.
(I know, I know. I feel like someone who's discovering, I don't know, light bulbs or something. Hey, look at these! Shiny!)
Monday, March 21, 2005
Basically it's a post that notes we are now up to 108 prisoners dead in captivity in the Iraqi war, most of them due to violent causes -- charming, yes? -- whereas the North Vietnamese, those evil bastards, only killed 114 of our boys when they were holding them prisoner and torturing them in their hideous evil prison camps, and, oh, yeah, just what has America become?
Commenters try to argue this away with math, and with claiming it's different because Iraqis are e-e-e-vil, and various other ways.
I remain horrified and shaken.
Bushco is destroying my country. They might have destroyed it already. They're up there in D.C. pretending to care about a woman whose brain is gone, pretending to care whether it matters whether a dead woman keeps breathing, while meanwhile they have bombed a country to pieces, killed thousands of its citizins, tortured 108 of its people to death while they were prisoners, while they were our custody, and meanwhile, meanwhile at the same time they are bent on passing a bankruptcy bill that will make large chunks of the population serfs to credit card companies, destroying social security, undermining the press (see this one:
and destroying the environment.
Horowitz out to wreck the universities. The Far-Right Fundies are after the science museums. Legislators all over the country are after not just abortion or sex education but birth control.
I knew it was going to be bad when King George won a second term, but Good Lord.
Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.
The pledging group was also less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the researchers found.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention [evolution] - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures.
In science museums, we're banning the use of the word evolution. Science museums! Because it might offend the Fundies.
Well, I tell you what, if it offends them that much, let stay out of the science museums. I won't wander into their church and practice my secular humanism and they don't need to impose their fact-impaired creationism on my science museums.
This is so offensive I can hardly breathe. They've already destroyed science education in most of American high schools, they're looking to destroy it, via Horowitz, in the universities, and now they're coming for the museums?
As Glen at Brooklyn Bridge puts it,
The fact that science museums are succumbing is really unnerving. I doubt that fundamentalists make up a large part of, say, the Natural History Museum's regular visitors here in New York, or its equivalents anywhere. Should they (must they) biblically cleanse their other exhibits, too? Stay tuned.
If this goes on, secularists will be the ones home-schooling their children. Reality-based materials will have to be smuggled in from Canada and Europe.
The trouble is, the professors in these cases cannot defend themselves with the facts about these cases. They aren't allowed to go to the media and say, Listen, little James did this, actually, and the test question was this, and this was his answer, and here is actually why I gave him a D.
The professor can't even say whether little James got a D or not.
The professor can't even say whether little James was actually one of her students or not.
It's called the Buckley amendment. We can lose our jobs if we say one damn thing about little James.
And little James can say anything he wants to about us.
So some student goes to Horowitz with the wholly bogus claim that her professor gave her a midterm exam question: "Explain why George Bush is a war criminal," and when she, ardent patriot that she is, instead argued that it was Sadam that was the evil war criminal, her nasty liberal professor gave her an F.
Horowitz travels all over the country for six months, whoring this story to Winger audiences and to legislators, making God knows how much in speaking fees, I might add, and the only trouble with the whole speech is that it's a flat out lie.
See these sources for details:
In 1213, our basic Freshman comp course, we teach our students to check their sources. Why didn't Horowitz check his sources?
You have to wonder about that.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
These programs encourage little girls to swear they will stay virgins.
Little girls define that as not having vaginal sex.
So what kind of sex do the girls have, then, as they grow up and meet guys and start having to deal with bodies that want to have sex?
Well, they have anal sex, and oral sex.
And, because the only kind of sex ed they have ever had is the kind that teaches them that no kind of protection works, ever, well, they just don’t use any kind of protection while they’re engaging in this very risky sexual behavior to protect their “virginity.”
In fact, "kids who are trying to preserve their technical virginity are, in some cases, engaging in much riskier behavior," said lead author Peter S. Bearman, a professor at Columbia's Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. "From a public health point of view, an abstinence movement that encourages no vaginal sex may inadvertently encourage other forms of alternative sex that are at higher risk of STDs."
Just 2 percent of youth who never took a pledge said they had had anal or oral sex but not intercourse, compared with 13 percent of "consistent pledgers."
Debate on Abstinence
The report sparked an immediate, bitter debate over the wisdom of teaching premarital abstinence.
Deborah Roffman, an educator and author of "Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex," said youths who take virginity pledges are often undereducated about sexual health.
"Kids who are engaging in oral sex or anal sex will tell you they are practicing abstinence because they haven't had 'real sex' yet," she said.
Bill Smith, public policy vice president for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, said, "Not only do virginity pledges not work to keep our young people safe, they are causing harm by undermining condom use, contraception and medical treatment."
Conservative academics said the paper overlooked earlier important findings about adolescents who take virginity pledges, most notably that they have fewer pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births.
World O'Crap has the link
(I did but my stinking blogger won't take it, don't ask ME why)
And what is Bush’s reaction to this news? Why, he’s giving another $206 million in federal funding to abstinence-only funding, of course! A program that doesn’t work, that supports Red-State values? That encourages young girls to have more oral sex? Why wouldn’t he support it?
Friday, March 18, 2005
I guess I really just don't have a handle on the Red-State Moral Values point of view.
Certain sorts of speech are e-e-evil.
Burning the flag (like Rachel Corrie did a few years ago, as a form of political protest) is e-e-e-evil.
Loving people in ways certain sorts of Christians don't approve of is e-e-evil.
But torturing prisoners to death? Why, that's good old fashioned family values!
Thursday, March 17, 2005
I'm diametrically opposed to this plan, for the obvious reason: I watched it as a kid and it took me months to get over it. It might be that I never got over it.
On the other hand, I'm thinking (as she sits pestering me with questions about Old Yeller), maybe it's a good thing that I never got over it -- maybe it helped to shape who I was, maybe it helped to craft the soul I have? Certainly it was a tragic event in my childhood, blah blah blah, but do I help my child by keeping her from experiencing tragic events? And certainly that is what drama is for, isn't it? A safe way to experience tragedy?
Meanwhile -- while I am trying to work this out -- you must picture the kid stomping around my office, demanding,
"But why did the boy have to shoot his dog? Why couldn' t the mother shoot the dog?"
"But why did the guy who wrote the book make the dog have rabies? Why would he do that?"
"Did they feed Old Yeller anything while he was in the corn crib?"
"Why didn't the boy's father shoot Old Yeller? Where did he go?"
"Was Old Yeller a mean dog before he got rabies?"
"How long did Old Yeller last with rabies?"
"Did all dogs get rabies back then? Is that why the writer of the book gave him rabies?"
"Why did the writer make it so the boy had to shoot his own dog? Was it just so it would be really sad?"
"I don't like that ending. They should make another Old Yeller, with a better ending."
And so on. A question every three point two seconds, most of which I can't answer, and none of which help me to reach the answer to my essential question: would it be good for her to watch Old Yeller or not?
Meanwhile, though, Jesse over at Pandandon has some more on Horowitz, basically on how his "sources," and I use the term lightly, are likely all bogus, which I figured they were when I read through them, having heard a number of similiar complaints myself, from aggrieved students, and then discovered the true stories when I went round to talk to their professors and classmates.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
(One of my quiz questions is always: Where does Christ say you should pray: (a) In church (b) around flagpoles (c) in your closet. They always get that one wrong.)
Man, though, I can see why Levitican Christians want the 10 Commandments posted everywhere and not this Sermon, despite the fact that this Sermon is what their guy was about and the Commandments (of which, BTW, there are 614, not 10) are what our Law is about.
I mean, listen to some of this stuff:
From Matthew Chapter 5:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
33: "Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' 34: But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35: or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36: And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37: Let what you say be simply `Yes' or `No'; anything more than this comes from evil.
38: "You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39: But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40: and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41: and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42: Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
And, from Chapter 6 of Matthew:
5: "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6: But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19:"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
24: No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
And, of course, the ever-famous:
15: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16: You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17: So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.
Now, imagine if, instead of those famous 10 Commandments, these bits were up on the walls of Courtrooms and Schoolhouses all over the Nation – along with, mind you, a fine selection of quotations from other Wisdoms literatures – from Buddha’s Deer Park Sermon and bits from the Bhagava-Gita and Plato and Confucius and maybe some Zen Koans – see, that would, well, actually enlighten people.
I’m just saying.
And if there’s anything Levitican Christians don’t want --
We're at the point in my History of the English Language course (or HEL class, as we like to call it) where we're studying dialects. I always start with British dialects: I show the students about ten minutes from A Hard Day's Night and about fifteen or twenty from Genesis: A Songbook, stopping frequently to inject such witty and insightful comments as, "Now listen here, he's dropping his H's, " or "See how his accent is different from the rest of them? He's Cockney, and they're all very RP, d'you hear the difference?"
Anyway, after that, I send them out to "collect" accents. They have to watch some British films or some TV shows with British actors on them and make notes on the accents and turn in reports to me about these accents. I usually give them a list of about ten movies and shows they can watch -- shows and movies I know, so that I'll be able to judge what kind of a job they're doing on the results: Bend it Like Beckham, My Fair Lady, Love Actually, Monty Python, that sort of thing. But yesterday one of them asks can she use Supernanny.
"Well, what sort of accent has Supernanny got?" I asked. "Is it RP?"
"I don't think so," the student said. "She says asseptible and stuff. I don't think that's upperclass, is it?"
"Well, even if not RP, you could still use it," I said. "Let me watch it, anyway."
So last night the kid and I watched it.
And can I say for the record we were APPALLED.
Not at the Supernanny. She seems very nice. We liked her a lot. (Accent seems to be middle-class London, BTW. Does say asseptible, but only under stress, does tend to drop her g's, but likewise, doesn't drop her h's, is non-rhotic, so I'm thinking middle to working class London, but if anyone actually knows, could you let me know?)
No, the appalling part was the family.
More specifically, the parents, who just let the three kids do whatever they wanted.
Supernanny had to, before she left the house, literally had to teach the mother how to say no. The mother did not know how to say no to her children. Suppernanny sat down with her and gave her lessons on how to say, "No. Don't do that." "No. Stop that." "No, that is not all right."
Because? Previous to these lessons? Mom couldn't do that. Kids just slammed each other around, knocked each other off tricycles, ate with their hands, jumped on the furniture like monkeys, and mom would say, now and then, in this helpless voice, "What are you doing? What is this? What's going on here?" But never, "No! Cut it out!"
My kid watched in shocked horror, especially the scenes in the supermarket. "These kids are horrible," she confided to me. "These are worse than the pre-schoolers at my school!"
"Don't worry," I said. "Supernanny will fix them."
And she did.
Supernanny is now the kid's hero.
Friday, March 11, 2005
but he’s being so pathetic here, I can’t resist.
He’s attempting to explain why it matters that gay people are gay – why it’s right for him to hate gay folk: why Jesus wants him to be mean to the homosexuals:
And he’s using big words while he does it, to show you that he’s at Harvard Law now, in case you might have forgotten:
The rise of the homosexual movement is a textbook example of societal amorality devolving into societal immorality. The rationale behind societal amorality is the myopic question: "How does my immoral behavior hurt you?" The answer is: It may not, in the short term. But when society sanctions your immoral behavior, that does hurt me. If millions of people accept the deviant as normal, that reshapes society in vastly destructive ways. Your moral self-destruction may have no consequences for me, but destruction of societal standards always has consequences.
When the stigma left single motherhood, society felt the sting in rising rates of single motherhood and juvenile crime. When the stigma left sexual licentiousness, society felt the sting in rising rates of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, emotional emptiness and nihilism. Your immoral personal behavior may not affect me, but exempting your immoral behavior from societal scrutiny certainly does. A society without standards is an unhappy, unhealthy society -- a society with no future. And all of us have to live in that society.
The problem with Ben’s little analysis, above and beyond the fact that
(a) single mothers and teen pregnancy are two different things and
(b) homosexuality and teen pregnancy are a wholly other and third thing,
is that – bing bing bing – teen pregnancy rates did not rise after the stigma left single motherhood; teen pregnancy rates fell.
(See this chart, for example:
And, of course, juvenile crime rates have been plummeting for years.
(Have a look at Mike Males’ website for lots of data on this one:
but this is just more of conservatives hating/fearing kids, frankly.)
The rate of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases may indeed be rising, but I’m not seeing how that’s the fault of teen mothers – is Ben going to claim that’s not connected to adult males having adulterous relationships?
And may I just ask, while I’m on the subject, who Ben imagines these teen girls are having all this sex with? Imaginary bunnies?
Not to mention, any emotional emptiness and nihilism Ben might be feeling is his own problem, not something he can stick on the hook of teen mothers. The teen mothers I know don’t report any emotional emptiness or nihilism.
(Yes, I know plenty. This is Arkansas. We have no sex ed in the schools. Half my students are teen mothers.) They report that having their kids is the best thing they ever did, and being mothers is the best part of their lives.
I might not agree with that – I’d want them to think that getting an education, maybe, is the best thing they could do – but that’s what they say.
And anyway, Ben? You were supposed to be talking about destructive things being gay could do to society. How, exactly, is some guy being gay going to hurt you?
He’s not going to dump a bunch of nihilistic babies into your culture to run wild and commit crimes and mess up your streets, now is he?
So your lame analogy doesn’t hold, Ben, does it?
I mean, even if it had been a good analogy?
Which it wasn’t?
What are they teaching Ben up there at Harvard, anyway?
Besides big words?
on Steven Mintz’s Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood.
It sounds like an interesting book. But this bit here is the bit I want to go off on:
In his penultimate chapter, “Parental Panics and the Reshaping of Childhood”, Mintz examines the often hysterical reactions of adults to purported dangers threatening their children, from unfounded accusations of sexual molestation to a general fear of abduction, internet pornography, sexual promiscuity, drug taking, and the possible link between “grunge, hip-hop, and youth violence”. As American society has grown ever more conservative in the past several decades, it would seem that adults’ hostility towards youth – “rooted in fear of disorder, and loss of control; fear of ageing, and envy of life not yet squandered”, as the social critic Edgar Z. Friendenberg eloquently remarked – has been disguised as efforts to “help” the young.
Because that is the thing: that Conservative hostility toward their own children, the adversarial relationship all their child-rearing books seem to start with – to accept as a matter of course – that of course your children will be small demons who will try to cheat, lie, steal, deceive, and triumph over you if you don’t beat them into submission, that of course you must crush your children at every turn or they will turn into rapists and thieves –
Well, it goes hand in glove with this attitude toward children, doesn’t it?
For all those who believe juveniles are never culpable enough to deserve capital punishment, consider this: Not everyone in hell is over the age of 18.
(The Rev. Mark Creech, as quoted by s.z. on World O’Crap
Yep. Jesus tortures babies, Jesus burns toddlers in a lake of fires, so why shouldn’t Wingers beat them with sticks? And why shouldn’t Texas give fifteen year olds lethal injections?
Little jerks got it coming, after all.
Someone has to teach them a lesson.
(What’s that you say? Do unto others, you say? Turn the other cheek, you say? Suffer the little children, you say? Forgive your brother, you say?
What are you, some sort of damn liberal?)
Well, hatred for the other, for the criminal, for the sinner – that’s one thing, and it’s also something we need to fix.
But these folks are afraid of their own children.
These folks see their own children as the Other.
And no kidding: they really do.
Children are the enemy to conservative parents. That’s why they’re so adamant about the need to beat them. Children have to be beaten if they’re going to be controlled, say conservative parents.
(Forgive me, by the way, if I don’t use the cute word spank here. “Spank,” as defined by John Rosamund, means one or two smacks with an open hand on the clothed bottom of a child under the age of five. That’s not what these parents are talking about in any respect. These parents are talking about beating children.)
Well, what do you need to control? Do you need to control someone you respect? Someone you love? Someone you see as a member of your family, another human being?
No, you control the enemy. You control the dangerous other.
Both women and children fall into that camp, for the Levitican Christian – at least according to their rhetoric.
(2) Our new provost is a Southern Baptist. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
(3) My husband has decided he wants to make an independent film. Did I mention I'm already on Xanax? Did I mention we just went through bankruptcy? He says it won't cost "that much" in these days of digital cameras and that he can save up what it will cost from what he's making teaching on line. I even believe him. Sort of. And I really like his idea for the film. But -- AARGH! AAAARGH! AAAAAARGH!
(4) Midterm grades were due two days ago at noon. Which is really funny. Maybe I'll get mine in tomorrow by midnight. It's a possibility. Records is getting all snarky about it, but what I say is, if you want me to get my midterm grades in on time, don'y schedule midterms at the same time you're scheduling advising and then assign me eighty-seven majors to advise, not to mention four classes to teach with four different preps. All righty?
All right then.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
This posting by professor b.
and this chart which I found via a post at Atrios
and various other posting and the comments on them around the sphere – for instance, at Crooked Timber,
for instance – have just made me unable to shut up anymore.
See, I declared bankruptcy this year.
This is after ten years of being in debt to the credit card companies.
At the end, I owed over a hundred thousand dollars.
What was up with that?
Wide-screen TVs? Hundreds of dollars worth of shoes? Luxurious vacations down to the islands?
Despite what those who have commented at Dr. B’s site and at Crooked Timber seem to think, no.
First, I got cancer.
As my doctors kept jovially assuring me, thyroid cancer is the type to get, if you have to get cancer at all, very high cure rate, very treatable, but even so – ha ha ha ha – cancer costs you some bucks, let me tell you. And getting cancer in Louisiana will really cost you, cause guess what, folks?
Hospitals down there can charge you interest on the money you owe them!
Twenty-four percent interest, in my case. It was cheaper to put what I owed on the credit cards, which were only charging me eleven percent interest at that point.
Then I had a baby. Then I had surgery, to remove a pesky gall bladder.
For all of these, I ended up owing the hospitals, and the doctors, and the various other medical technologists, money above and beyond what my medical insurance covered – lots of it. The kid was born in Idaho. Idaho also allows hospitals to charge interest on what you owe them. North Carolina, where I had the surgery, does not – but it does allow hospital to turn your bill over to collect agencies. Charming.
In any case, and meanwhile, we moved three times during all of this, and all of those moves also went on the credit cards, because universities do not pay moving expenses. (Certainly I could take the moving expenses off on my taxes, and that would matter, I suppose, if I were in one of those income brackets where such things made a difference.)
Meanwhile, changing jobs three times in ten years meant COBRA payments three times in ten years (any idea what COBRA payments run?), and my trailing spouse not getting a real job, and, once we had the kid, child care expenses that made it not worth him getting a McJob.
Meanwhile, trying to make the minimum payments on the credit cards, or even paying off a little of the growing debt, meant never being able to build up any savings, so that whenever anything went wrong – the kid got sick, or the car broke down (and of course we only ever had one car, and of course it was a cheap piece of junk that was always breaking down), or someone got sick – we had to put the emergency on the credit cards.
There’s no wide-screen TV in our house.
There’s no trip to the islands or Europe in my past.
There’s no Gee, I think I’ll buy a six hundred dollars worth of DVDs this weekend while you scrimp and save and bring home your sack lunch to eat for dinner, Mr. Middle Class Person.
In fact, I have about five pairs of shoes, only one of them decent enough to wear to work, and my clothes are so shabby my students joke about them. My parents buy all the kid's clothing, or I get them from relatives. Our cars are both (we do finally have two now) still ancient pieces of junk, and mine, the oldest, still breaks down on a regular basis.
So what really happened here?
The medical system is broken. That's what happened here. When I got a catastrophic illness, it destroyed my life. I couldn't recover from it.
And three months ago, the sheriff came and pounded on my door and shoved a lawsuit in my face, saying Discover card was suing me for a quarter of my salary, because I couldn’t make the minimum payments on their credit cards anymore. (Haven’t been able to, not for months. Know why? Because my medical insurance cost six hundred dollars a month, the co-pay on my drugs is three hundred a month, my rent is eight hundred a month, and I’m a college professor – you do the math. Where’s my Xanax, BTW?)
If I hadn't been able to declare bankruptcy, in other words, I'd be a slave to Discover card right now.
So, yeah. This bankruptcy bill is a really, really, really bad idea.
Not just because it impoverishes us, though, folks.
Because people get desperate, folks, well, damn. They do desperate things.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Yep. Over two billion dollars of federal subsidy to Wal-Mart. God knows how much state and local subsidy, and how much Wal-Mart gets in tax breaks. All so Wal-Mart won’t have to pay its employees a living wage. All so Wal-Mart can sell you cheap teeshirts. Except they’re not very cheap, are they? Not when you figure in the extra federal, state, and local taxes…not to mention the human misery that goes along with them.
It’s the first law of thermodynamics, folks: no such thing as a free lunch.
(Okay, okay: the first law of thermodynamics is actually energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but it means the same thing: if you rob Peter to pay Paul, you’re going to end up paying Ed through the nose down the line.)
This is the hardest thing, I find, to get my students to understand. I teach it in all my classes, because it is, after all, an integral part of literature: the web of connection.
Ahimsa, says Indian philosophy: do no harm; and since everything you do does harm, do very little.
(It’s like that study they’ve been doing that’s tracking the damage done by drive our cars on the Interstate. We’re killing so many bugs that way that birds are going hungry. Birds get less to eat, so there are fewer birds. Fewer birds mean less prey for bird-eating varmints, creating a hole in the ecoweb…)
Right living, says Buddha, and consider all the connections to your actions – not just what you do, but what the thing you have done will do, and what that will do, and so on, and so do no harm.
Is the world better or worse when you have harmed your neighbor? asks Socrates. Well, obviously it is worse, Socrates. And will you be better off or worse off if you have to live in a worse that is worse? Obviously I will be worse off. So do not harm your neighbor, you lunkhead, says Socrates, what were you thinking? Do no harm!
And the thing is, we are all connected.
Americans like to yap about rugged individualism, and laissez-faire capitalism, but, listen, it’s all one big web. If Wal-Mart doesn’t pay its worker enough, those workers don’t just go away and live quietly and miserably on insufficient funds.
Those workers show up at ERs. Those workers show up needing food stamps. Those workers need emergency housing because they can’t make their rent because they tried to pay their medical bills or they tried to buy their prescription medication or they tried to make their car payments.
Who funds all that stuff? Do we just shrug and say, hey, tough, starve? Hey, tough, die? Hey, too bad, be homeless? You can’t buy antibiotics, learn to like coughing?
(I bet Ann Coulter says we should.)
Here’s why that wouldn’t work, though, folks: the underclasses? They don’t just quietly shuffle off to starve. They don’t just quietly let their kids starve, either. You want to look into just why the New Deal got set up before you go shuttling the sucker, IMHO.
Society is a web. It sounds very pretty to be all libertarian and say that capitalism can regulate itself and people should be responsible for their own outcomes and everyone should look out for his own end and if we just leave the market alone the invisible hand of the market will work things out – but we aren’t individuals. We’re a society. We all live in the same place. We all breathe the same air. We all drive on the same roads. What happens to your kids will have an effect on what happens to me, and what happens to me is, in fact, going to effect you. The food I eat matters to you. The movies I let my kid watch shape your future. (You’re lucky, by the way: I’m very selective about what I'm letting her watch.) What car I drive does make a difference in your life. Yes, it really does.
So you can say it’s up to every parent to see to the education of his or her children – but that’s just not so. If we don’t pay to educate kids today, we end up paying, as a society, down the road: for them as non-productive citizens of one stripe or another.
And we can say it’s your business whether you wear a helmet on a motorcycle and whether you drive a Hummer and whether your vehicle is polluting the atmosphere or not – but again, not so. Those things affect all of us. When your motorcycle goes down and your skull fractures and you end up needing a million or more dollars in medical repairs, who’s going to pay for that? (Hint: it ain’t the insurance company.)
And if I’m neglecting my kid, or smacking my kid around, is that any of your business? Why, yes, it is. Because that makes my kid much more likely to end up a danger and a cost to society, down the road. You had better step in.
We are all each other’s business. This is why “It takes a village” was not nonsense. This is why the “It takes parents” rejoinder is nonsense. Of course it takes parents. Guess what? It also takes a society.
We are a village. This is why Socrates was right when he said he was a citizen of the world. We are all the same thing. Smart folk realize that. Blind folk pretend they can separate themselves off, pretend that it’s possible for one person to act alone and for his actions to effect no one but himself – but that’s a lie.
Wal-Mart can’t underpay its employees without damaging this country.
You can’t have cheap teeshirts without having high taxes.
Somewhere down the line you’re going to pay.
Monday, March 07, 2005
We're the country that doesn't care when actual living things suffer: only when fictional/mythical critters do.
So go ahead and beat your kids.
Let the animals suffer so you can have cheap chicken.
And then get all spiritual over the Passion of the Christ.
Cause that's What Jesus Would Do.
Well, I'll just have him know, that here in NW Arkansas, some of OUR folks buy five or six of those magnets to stick on THEIR Hummers.
And some of them are red, white and BLUE!
And some have RAZORBACKS jumping through them!
So what more does the ungrateful twit want?
I mean, he doesn't expect us to actually change our lifestyle or anything, does he? To show that we value his sacrifice? Does he?
Surely he realizes that would be asking way too much?
Huh? Doesn't he?
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Over at Balloon Juice,
John Cole read the same story I did, several days ago -- about the 16 year old who got her 18 year old to stomp on her womb until she miscarried her twin fetuses: he's now being charged with a felony, because of a state law that makes a fetus equal to a human life, making what he did murder, while she's not being charged with anything -- and came to a wholly different conclusion.
John Cole's reaction is that both the girl and her boyfriend should be charged, though he's good enough to concede that "perhaps" it shouldn't be with "capital murder."
My reaction, of course, is that this was exactly what was wrong with requiring parental consent for abortion. The reason this girl was driven to this sort of bizarre and desperate behavior -- which if Mr. Cole had bothered to read the news report he would have discovered -- was because her mother had decided she should not have an abortion.
The girl, at sixteen, didn't want to have a child. She sure didn't want twins. She didn't want to get married. She didn't want any of this. The mother was forcing this on her. The mother was taking her choice away from her. Had the choice been left in the girl's camp, there would have been no stomping and no heinious act for John Cole to be shocked by. There would have been a first trimester abortion -- or, probably, a judicious use of birth control, much earlier on.
Imagine such a thing.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Whoopi and Bill were going on about how “kids today” just weren’t disciplined, and claiming it was a “generational” thing. Whoopi dragged out the kids screaming in the supermarket chestnut. Bill claimed black parents were raising their kids better than white parents —— I assume because black parents whup their kids more, or at least he believes they do, and because he believes that’s a really good thing.
That’s when I got too annoyed to listen to any more to it.
But I’m reminded of a column I read recently in our local paper —— can’t remember who wrote it, but it was about some show on TV (which I have never seen) about a Supernanny. Apparently this Supernanny comes in and takes over when parents have done a horrible job of raising their kids. She imposes discipline on the kids and order on the household and the parents are amazed and grateful. She does it, admitted the columnist, without spankings. The columnist actually said something like this “She doesn’t allow for spankings, which is a problem —— but that’s another column!”
In other words, this nanny took monster children and turned them into well—behaved children, and did it without laying a hand on them, and this, for our columnist, was a problem.
Why, I would like to ask.
Why is that a problem.
Wihy do we in America insist that our children must be beaten?
And what, I would like to also ask us to notice, will have to be the inevitable result?
I was at the mall a few days ago when this guy —— a full—grown man, at least forty years old —— struck an infant, a little girl who couldn’t have been more than a year old, her hard on the leg. Why? Because she was crying.
What did he think that was going to teach her?
If you're looking for the roots of violence in America, it ain't watching violent TV shows, and it ain't violent movies, and it ain't SATAN either, folks. It's having your own folks smack you around. It's having the people who are supposed to be the source of your love and security attack you on a regular basis, and tell you they're doing it because they love you.
That's why we're such a disturbed and violent nation, folks. That's it right there.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Because after Bushco destroys us all with the bankruptcy bill and social security “reform” and tax “cuts,” after all the real jobs are outsourced and the drug companies and credit card companies have garnished all our wages, after Bushco has finished destroying the environment so that a few of his buddies can grow even more obscenely wealthy, after they have made Levitican Christianity the state religion and outlawed both abortion and birth control (along with “willful childlessness), and destroyed any chance of social mobility, eventually --
Eventually, you know, not yet, obviously -- because so far most of us are still playing X-Box and EverCrack and watching The Apprentice -- but EVENTUALLY we're going to wake up and remember we're Americans, damn it, and we don't play this --
Eventually Bushco is going to reap this whirlwind --
So they've gotta be planning ahead.
And they are:
The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon.
All those Free Speech Zones Mr. Bush has been setting up? And the pepper spray and rubber bullets? And the arrests of protestors and such?
That was just the warm up.
At the University of California in San Diego, neuroscientist VS Ramachandran noticed that a disproportionate number of patients - around a quarter - with a condition called temporal lobe epilepsy reported having deeply moving religious experiences. "They'd tell me they felt a presence or suddenly felt they got the meaning of the whole cosmos. And these could be life-changing experiences," says Ramachandran. The feelings always came during seizures, even if the seizures were so mild, they could only be detected by sensitive electroencephalograms (EEGs). Between the seizures, some patients became preoccupied with thoughts about God.
The conviction that God exists? Speaking in tongues? Visions?
All seizures, folks.
And I’m betting they’ll find a connection between this and why so many ex-drunks, substance abusers, and folks with bulemia end up finding Jesus too: abuse your blood chemistry and your brain long enough, hell yes, you’re going to see Jesus.
If you don’t see Giant Pink Lizards first.
And, as I’ve said before, I truly don’t care if you people want to get together and worship your Giant Pink Lizard, uh, your Lord Jesus.
Just stop trying to inflict him upon my nice civilized country, okay?
Thursday, March 03, 2005
It’s not hard to predict where this is going, and it’s likely to get more ridiculous further down the line. I can foresee a day when science textbooks are banned from some classrooms because, say, they teach that the earth is older than what some people think the bible shows it to be.
How have the good folks of Nebo solved their problem? Well, students may now need parental permission to take psychology classes. Next year, it’ll be Geology.
Via Mousewords http://www.mousewords.blogspot.com/
1500 American Soliders dead so far.
Who knows how many Iraqis, because we aren't counting, because they don't count, and we don't care.
I posted this over on Infinite Stitch, but one of my students came in today telling me how shocked she was to see in a presentation that Iraqi children actually looked well-fed, well-dressed, normal --
She expected them to look ragged and poor, you understand.
We've been fed (by Faux News, by Rush, by the rest of the liars) this idea that Iraq is or was a disaster area, that it was a third world country, that it needed us to save it -- well, it's been saved, all right. We've saved the hell out of it.
Go have a look at these photos and see what a good job we've done:
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
This whole thing, Horowituz included, is whacked. As Pharyngula points out, and as I pointed out in the post below, anything positive the bill claims to give us, we already have -- students already have all the "rights" this bill says it will give them, as do all the faculty.
All this ABOR is doing is attempting to destroy the intellectual integrity of higher education the way the religious right has already pretty much destroyed the intellectual integrity of our high schools and lower schools -- where, mostly, where Jen Shroder's notion of history is the one that passes as the truth, where gay bashing is the norm, where evolution is rarely taught or even mentioned in the classroom.
The've won already in the high schools and lower schools. Now they're coming after the universities. They're calling it "academic freedom." If it was freedom, dudes, you wouldn't have to legislate people into doing it.
My students always get annoyed when I point out that cows enjoy lesbian sex -- this is after they tell me that gay sex is "unnatural" -- but of course, as this article points out, cows do:
Dairy cow herds can also be intensely sexual. Webster describes how the cows become excited when one of the herd comes into heat and start trying to mount her. “Cows look calm, but really they are gay nymphomaniacs,” he said.
And that's because -- d'oh -- no kind of sex is "unnatural," despite what Far-Right Christian patriarchs would like their women and children to believe.
But, reading past that fun paragraph, more things are to be learned in the essay, such as this:
Cows are also capable of feeling strong emotions such as pain, fear and even anxiety — they worry about the future. But if farmers provide the right conditions, they can also feel great happiness.
And that cows gain intellectual pleasure from solving puzzles.
And cows get depressed when they are abused.
And cows and sheep form friendships and make enemies and can recognize their fellow cows and sheep, even months and years later.
All this is data from papers being given at a Compassion in World Farming conference.
I know, I know -- Compassion in Farming -- who needs that?
So why isn’t it called ChristianBloggerCon or ChristBlogCon or some variation thereof? As a conservative Jewish blogger, I find it troubling that conservatives have trademarked “God” as Christian.
Sorry, Matt. Despite all the sterling work Dennis Prager has done for you guys, Conservative Christians just aren't buying it. You can claim validity for your religion all you want, but as Jen Shroder has pointed out, [Their] God only accepts one true religion, and Judaism ain't it.
Here's a tip. Maybe you should consider hanging out with a more reasonable class of people next time.
They say they’ve made it clear to the kid that telling the teachers about Kate harassing her about going to hell at school is not, in fact, tattling, and that she is, in fact, supposed to go to a teacher immediately if Kate starts up with it again. They say they’ve told all four of the kid’s teachers and the head of school about the situation.
The kid says Kate left her alone yesterday.
Aside from the part about how I'd have liked to been given a head's up about this happening all along, I like how the school is handling it, I have to say.
*Names have been changed, as usual
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
March 1, 2005
I was wondering if you might have a few words with Kate and sort of encourage her to stop talking to The Kid about heaven and hell.
As you know, we’re Jewish. We don’t believe in Jesus, and our religion doesn’t really focus much on heaven or hell: the rabbis taught us we should mend this world (tikkin olam) and this is what we are teaching the kid. So when Kate asked the kid whether she was going to heaven or hell, about a month ago, I’m afraid the kid’s answer didn’t really make a lot of sense to Kate, and apparently Kate has gone into full salvation mode. Anyway, she’s been going after the kid pretty strong, and the kid’s starting to have nightmares about going to hell.
The kid says she has asked Kate to stop, and has told Kate she doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, and that neither of these has done any good. She says she’s afraid to tell any of her teachers because that would be tattling. I told it wouldn’t be, but she's unconvinced. Anyway, she said it would be all right if I wrote a note and asked you to talk to Kate. She doesn’t want to get Kate in trouble, because as you know Kate is her best friend. She just wants Kate to stop threatening her with eternal damnation.
So if you could kind of ask Kate to stop talking about religion at school, I’d appreciate it.