Monday, August 23, 2010

More on Parenting

A teacher ed professor (who had been in the business a long time) once pointed out in a meeting that some researcher had good and bad teachers teach with all kinds of methodologies, and guess what? it didn't make a difference what teaching methodologies they used. Good teachers were successful and bad teachers were not.
In the same way, I suspect that some parents will hardly lift a finger for their kids, and others will do anything (and more). And (most importantly) some kids will do well and others will have a hard time. 

My mother gave a lecture about the rights of parents (50+ years ago). She was a strong believer that kids shouldn't rule their parents, and also that the parents need to listen to themselves rather than the "experts."

I feel like I'm sinking in this picture. And that the tar balls are all over... but they are kind of illuminators rather than poison.

Have a nice day!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Too Close

Robert Genn writes:
"Also, I want to mention the extreme expectations that current parents have for their children. Children have taken on a god-like role and have become the focus for everything from prepping for stellar futures to daily parental companionship. Parents sacrifice their own lives for the potential brilliance of kids. For better or for worse, raising kids well is the new religion."

My parents weren't into this, but a lot of today's parents are. They don't call it "indulging" but rather "love." A previous generation gave everything to the job. We really try to run ourselves ragged, don't we? Why?
Did you know that sometimes octopuses (there are three plural forms of the word octopus — octopi, optopuses, and octopodes)  die of nervous exhaustion?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Judge: So you think you are innocent, huh?

Joe: Yea, until proven guilty.

Prosecutor: Did you steal that donut?
Joe: Innocent.

Prosecutor: Until proven guilty?

Joe: Yea. What do you think, I'm an expert on the law?

Judge: You know right from wrong, don't ya?

Joe: Right from left, on a good day.

Prosecutor: Do you frequent donut shops?

Joe: Doesn't everyone?

Judge: Please answer the question directly.

Joe: Frequently.

Prosecutor: This tape shows you putting a donut in your pocket? Did you do that?

Joe: Innocent.

Judge: Until proven guilty. Dismissed!

P.S. I woke up in the middle of the night with the fallacy here. The phrase is: "presume innocent." It is not to say that you are "innocent until proven guilty" but rather presumed, which is almost like... "no matter whether you are innocent or guilty, we will assume for now that you are innocent."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Getting Hitched

Last night at Mother's (our favorite veggie restaurant slowly not becoming our favorite) we were talking about whether we should eliminate weddings and just have civil unions between any two (or more?) people (or even between a person and their pet(s)). Linda suggested that churches could do weddings, but the state would just do civil unions. I agreed (which doesn't make a great conversation, does it?). I'm taking a course in improv comedy and we are learning that agreement is essential to good dialogue. I am more prone to disagree that must come from get bored too quickly (or maybe it is just that I hear the beat of a different drummer). I remember a friend telling me in college "if two people think the same thing there is only need for one of them" (she's still a friend).

In any case, with my daughter getting engaged, I started wondering (outloud) why do people get married anyway? It seems curious that we seem to be hardwired to go along certain paths, some of which are not always that easy. We grow up thinking we'll go to college, get a career, get married, have kids, see the kids get married, and say "congratulations."

Why? Why don't we say "congratulations" to someone who decides to live on the street? Why do we believe that there is but one path. Is there only one way to live life, and if you don't follow that path then something is wrong with you?

As I looked around the restaurant, I started to see everyone being driven by their primal needs and desires. They were eating (hopefully because they were hungry), they were going to the restroom (supposedly to eliminate), they were dressed attractively (perhaps to sexually titillate others), and they were talking (perhaps in anticipation of some sexual union). And then there is the exchange of food for money (what is that about?).

What is all this about?

It is so interesting that we haven't progressed much from the first humans on earth. Our technology provides countless comforts and conveniences. But what is really different?

Just wondering...

Monday, August 9, 2010

For whom did I vote in 2008?


I don't remember. Sometimes people say this because they are ashamed or embarrassed.  With me it is not the case. And sometimes people know the name of the person who they voted for, but the candidate changed so much pre to post election that they can honestly don't know for whom they had voted. That also is not the problem, though we haven't "had" many of the presidents that kept their promises.

I was torn between three candidates. One had great charisma and came from my old neighborhood. His kids even went to my grade school. It seemed like he'd be a real president and that he'd bring the country together. And he would get us out of wars. The second seemed to share my idea that the government that does the least rules the best. I agreed with him (though politically incorrect) that our economy was fundamentally sound. But I didn't like his anger or his sarcasm. The third candidate shared many of my views (I'm a libertarian with a small "l"), but he was unlikely to win. So voting for him was (for me) throwing a vote away.

As you see, I was totally undecided, and I saw no good way to decide, other than to go to the polls at the end of the day, going into the poll booth and vote. I don't even remember whether it was electronic voting or one of those punch the hole deals. (Excuse: I was also dealing with a job with numerous responsibilities and voting was not one of my top priorities.) And would my vote matter? Though there have been some significant elections where one vote made a difference (like the first time Hitler was elected into his first position of power), I didn't think (in my heart) that my vote would make much of a difference.

Late in the day I went to the St. Louis nursing home down the street where we did our voting. Or it could have even been in Austin (according to my wife). That's how little I remember. No... I just got a "visual." It was the nursing home. Maybe I should have been a resident?

The guy in front of me (or maybe behind me) and I started talking. (I love to start conversations when I'm waiting in line). Totally improperly, I asked him for whom was he going to vote. He told me some story about how his overtime was taken away from him and one of candidates, if elected, would restore the candidate. I suspect that must have been Mr. Obama.

I remember thinking that it wouldn't make a hill of beans difference to me who won, but it might bring more money to this kid if his candidate won. And maybe he had a sick kid who needed some operation... etc.

So I went into the polling booth... and that's where my memory ends. My only chance to remember might be to go to a hypnotist.

And now this all brings up another question. What would I do now? Subject for another post.

Consuelo's in Austin

Thursday, August 5, 2010


How does a moral person behave? I've often heard that capitalism is immoral because it chooses profit over the common good. Communism, on the other hand, is moral, because workers are paid according to their needs. And yet we bask in the benefits of capitalism, using our "profits" to buy bigger houses and cars.

If there is a heaven and hell, one might think that the profiteers would go to hell and those that put the public good first would go to heaven. I know a hard working plumber named Frank. He charges a fair price and does a good job because he knows that a good reputation is his best chance for success. He takes his money and buys a boat and clothes for his wife. Frank doesn't give a hoot for the underdog. And he makes sure that his plumbing works, because he doesn't want to be called back to do the same job twice. Is he a moral person? Frank never gives a penny to charity. Frank doesn't even care if the underprivileged get food or shelter.

Where will Frank go when he dies? Yet, when Frank does his good work, people consider him a "godsend."

I know another plumber named Joe. He goes to church every Sunday and gives 1/10 of his income to the church. Joe is a "first class slob." Most of the jobs he does need to be redone by Frank. His church tells him that he is a moral person and that heaven is assured because of his tithing. Is it?

Do we choose vendors (restaurants, barbers, mechanics) because they are moral, or because they do a good job? Do we really care that their mission is to make money (and the more the merrier)? Could the world function without any "morality" or "compassion"?