Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy birthday, little man

Cooper turns two today. Two years ago right now, they were about to have an emergency intervention in the labor room. It's amazing how fast things happen when something goes wrong. Cooper's heartrate started crashing, and all of a sudden it was like a swarm of nurses and doctors magically appeared in my room. Terbuteline shot, oxygen mask, intensive monitoring for the next few hours. Everything turned out okay, though, and after 10 minutes of pushing, out popped the most beautiful little creature I had ever seen. My first words: "Hello, baby."

It's hard to believe two years have gone by. He's no longer a baby. He's a little kid. Complete with "No!" and kisses for momma and pulling a couch cushion onto the floor, laying down on it, fake snoring, and then laughing and getting up and running off to do something else.

In the last week, I've seen a glimpse of his future, some combination of


Start a child in the way he should continue

For today, though, I can't help but think of him like this:

Ben of Arabia

Happy birthday, little man. You're going to be all grown up before I even know it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cooper's newest trick

Jumping off of things. Steps, couches, he doesn't care. It's amazing more kids don't end up with brain damage.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's like he is inside my head

I have this dream on a regular basis.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Student e-mails are a source of joy.

I just had a student email me saying, "I missed class on Monday. Can you tell me what I missed? Also, what is this "Reading for Wednesday" on the class website?"

Ummm, it's the reading you need to do for Wednesday. I thought the title was self-explanatory, but no.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It all balances out...hopefully

Today was a great teaching day. Lots of participation, lots of interest in the topic, lots of energy. That's good because the papers I graded over the weekend made me cranky. I think they hit every one of my pet peeves:

1. Turning in an early draft for feedback, and then not changing any of the things that I pointed out in your final draft. Thanks for wasting my time.
2. Misuse of the word bias. After I gave them all a copy of New Kid's open letter on the topic and we went over it extensively in class.
3. Lack of evidence. That's nice that you think that, but why do you think that?
4. Lack of research, which lead the to the inability to make two and two add up to four. They had the first two, but they couldn't find the other two, which made their papers add up to around 3.2.

Oh well, extensive commenting and discussion of their papers in class will hopefully result in a better second set of papers.

Why I should carry a camera

As I was driving to work today, I was following an SUV. Across the top of the rear window, in nice big letters, was emblazoned the following factoid: Fat kids are harder to kidnap.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Two thoughts about the media

1. I've been following the Jim Cramer v. Jon Stewart fight for the last week or so, and thought Stewart demolished Cramer on Thursday night. The NBC family of channels had been giving plenty of play to the story in the buildup, and having Cramer on their "news" shows, but as far as I can tell completely dropped the story on Friday after he lost. It wasn't even on Olbermann. Disappointing proof of the power of media conglomerates to determine what the news is.

2. All the voices who have been blaming the tanking stock market on Obama for the last few weeks have been conspicuously silent for the last four days as the market has rallied. You can't have it both ways. Either he's responsible for the good times, or he's not responsible for the bad. Or you can be an adult and realize that the market isn't the president's personal plaything and responds to a lot of stimuli that are not controlled by the president.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A much less eloquent rephrasing of the last post

My guild in World of Warcraft had one rule: Don't be a dick.

I think that is what I was trying to get at in the last long post. Is it possible for people to not be dicks to each other when they don't share the same belief system?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No love for Big Love

I saw a news story the other night about the upcoming episode of Big Love showing LDS temple ceremonies and clothing, and the outcry from some members of the church. While I loved the official LDS Church response, I went online to see exactly what the fuss is about. A quick google lead me to stills from the upcoming episode showing one of the actresses in what looks like temple clothing. Further browsing lead me to a discussion thread about the topic that was mocking LDS temple clothing and the wording of the ceremony. Most upsetting was a link to the temple ceremony with the title, "Your secrets aren't sacred anymore."

This upset me for many reasons. Primarily it is because something that is sacred to me is being treated in such a disrespectful manner by so many people. But I was more upset about the lack of understanding of what it is to be sacred. Just because you know about it and are posting a link to the information doesn't make it less sacred. The temple ceremony has never been secret. Even before the advent of you tube and google, the entire temple ceremony was recorded in the Library of Congress. The official church position has been that the temple isn't secret, it is sacred. We don't discuss what goes on in the temple because of the sacred nature of the ceremonies that are performed there.

This has left me wondering for the last few days if we have lost the concept of sacredness in our society. I'm inclined to say yes, especially in a day where profaning the name of deity is part of mainstream entertainment. When people don't understand why things are sacred, and are willing to respect the sacredness of the beliefs of others, it leads to disrespect or worse. Some things are sacred to certain belief systems. They don't share those things freely with others who don't share the same beliefs, because the lack of understanding and necessary context makes them difficult to comprehend and place in an appropriate normative framework. I remember reading about mystery cult initiations in pre-Christian times, and the idea that not everyone was ready to receive the highest levels of spiritual knowledge was commonplace. You were taught the law you were willing to live, and not exposing people to higher spiritual laws was done out of protection of the person not willing to live the more demanding part of the doctrine. That's what the temple is for the LDS faith. It is for mature adults who have shown dedication to and belief in the common doctrine of the church to continue their education. I guess you could say it's the Mormon equivalent of grad school.

The temple ceremony, to those who are not familiar with, and adherent to, LDS doctrine is going to look weird. Heck, I grew up in the church and the first time I went to the temple I thought it was weird. The important key to understanding LDS temple ceremonies is the knowledge of the symbolism that is used throughout the ceremony. The entire ceremony is symbolic, and so is the clothing that is worn during the ceremony. It requires a lifetime (or beyond) to fully understand everything the temple ceremony is designed to teach, and requires study, prayer, and ongoing personal righteousness. Without someone translating the ceremony to a non-adherent, it is going to look wacky. Television is not the hermeneutic device that makes that understanding possible.

I don't watch Big Love, mostly because I don't have HBO, and I haven't seen the episode where this is supposed to happen. I'm not assigning intentionality to the producers or writers for their decision to show these ceremonies. I'm also not saying that the LDS church deserves special protection or treatment. All religious traditions deserve respect and understanding. My biggest concern is that this shows an ongoing degradation of the concept of the sacred in our culture. Some things are too important to be bandied about for the sake of entertainment. The temple ceremony, to me, is one of those things.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just one of the reasons I love my husband

We've been discussing the economy, and the reaction to the stimulus package from a certain section of the population. This is what he said:

"The more you know about something, the more you know you don't know about that something. I like the inverse of that too: The less you know about something, the less complicated you think it is. I like to know stuff, and in doing so, I find that life is more complex than I thought it to be before... but that is good. Knowledge is like light... the more you have, the greater detail you can discern. Life is beautiful in all its complexities. I have pity for those that choose to dwell in darkness while yelling at the seekers of light that they are doing it all wrong...

There are only a few things that I've chosen to be annoyed by, and it looks like Ignorant Pride dressed up as Populist Rage is one of them."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My own private crazy Idaho

I grew up in California, and I didn't think anything could compare with the crazy that is California politics.

And then I moved to Idaho.

A couple months ago one of our state legislators introduced a bill to require people to sign their real name when posting on the internet. I'm not sure how he was planning on enforcing that out of Boise.

And now, this. Go read, I'll wait.

Done? Good.

Okay, Representative Harwood, a few basic concepts of constitutional law. One, states aren't sovereign. Not even in your whacked out reading of the 10th amendment does it say that states are sovereign. It specifically states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In this country, the people are sovereign. It's why the Constitution starts "We the People" because it was the people that entered into the social contract, not the states. And that part about powers prohibited to the states is fairly significant here, because your desire to tell the federal government what kind of laws they are allowed to pass is contrary to the supremacy clause, which is found in Article VI of the Constitution. We fought a war about this 150 years ago, and the idea of nullification lost.

Now, I understand the importance of symbolic statements and political grandstanding, but don't drag the Constitution into it. You demean that document every time you try to use it for partisan purposes.

And, by the way, Idaho gets $1.21 back for every dollar we spend in federal taxes. With the market in the position it is right now, that's a pretty good return on investment.

Reading times two

One of the things that I saw from this experience is that I wanted to be reading more, and working with books more than I currently was. Fun books, not stuff I have to read for my dissertation. I started posting to an online book discussion group at the beginning of the year, and one of my reviews of a book I was reading caught the eye of the woman who runs the Fantasy Literature site. She asked me to apply for a reviewer job, and it quickly fell into place where I am now a reviewer for them. They pay me in free books. ARCs, to be specific. Advanced Reading Copies. That means I get free books, and I get them before other people do, and I am supposed to be opinionated about them. It is the perfect gig for me.

In my work reading, I stumbled across a reference to a book that is either going to make my lit review 1000 times better, or make me have to restructure my entire dissertation. I'm hoping for the first option. I have an ILL request out for it, so I should know within a week or so. I'm just going to go ahead working as if it will all be okay.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I wonder...

...what it is about kids that make them take a headfirst dive off your lap and land square on their face 10 minutes before they have a doctor appointment so that I have to explain the welt on their forehead?
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