OmegaDad accepted a position in Big City, NM, yesterday. The job starts in about 8 weeks. We took OmegaDotter out to dinner after her team gymnastics for the day and told her…
Sigh. I remember what it was like for her when we moved here to Suburban Alaska, those first few weeks when she didn’t know anyone at all, and I spent time cuddling her every day after school for a week while she processed being away from her One And Only True Love and her friends from Arizona.
Now she has to go through that again.
Oh, I know quite well that within a year, she’ll have new buddies galore, and thanks to the Miracles Of Modern Technology she will be able to keep in touch with her old buddies. But for a few months, it will be very difficult for her.
In the meantime, I have been struck—quite unexpectedly!—by sadness at leaving Alaska. While I will never, EVER miss the long, cold, dark dark dark winters, which leave me dull and depressed and miserable, I will miss the mountains, the long summer days, the fun of having daylight change so rapidly from short to long to short again. I will miss the chance to see the northern lights. (Alas, last night, when the latest wowza geomagnetic storm hit, it was overcast here and the almost-full-moon was shining behind the overcast. So we got a lovely pearlescent sky, but none of it was the northern lights, wah!). I will miss having actual seasons. I will miss the thick, sweet, peaty smell of the wet boreal woods, which is so different from the light, dusty, vanilla scent of dry ponderosa forests.
I will also miss that odd plus to living in Alaska, the yearly PFD check. While we should have banked it, we used it for such things as flying down to…the Southwest!…right around Christmas, or, last year, out to the Southeast. Those trips were something that kept me sane during the darkest days near winter solstice.
I don’t have many friends here, myself; we managed to deposit ourselves squarely into the Bible Belt of Alaska, filled with conservatives. I remember during the last presidential campaign arriving at the dotter’s gymnastics facility to be greeted with a bleacher full of women wearing “Prayer Warrior for Sarah!” pins. On the other hand, our next door neighbor is a lovely liberal lady with her equally liberal female partner (who has had to deal with some really ugly experiences as a result); I will miss her and her family dearly. Also, the family of OmegaDotter’s dearest friend are liberal and laidback; I’ll miss them too.
I’ve been busy, because two and a half weeks ago OmegaDad suddenly discovered he had a (very typical) middle-aged man’s problem that needed “routine” surgery. My last blogpost was written while we were waiting for the “routine” surgery. Need I say that the phrase “routine surgery” has become somewhat…um…tainted for me after the past year? After all, my mom had “routine” pacemaker surgery, and my dog had “routine” abdominal surgery, and both died.
So it was amazing how the tension went out of my shoulders as soon as I got OmegaDad back home from the outpatient surgery and things went swimmingly well.
Okay, they went swimmingly well from my point of view, not his. He is still not happy, because the healing is taking longer than a day or two, and thus he can’t do all his normal activities, nor can he sit for very long and veg out at the computer, wandering the twisty, turny passages of the Intartubes.
The nice thing about the whole affair for me is that it has kept me busy. I’ve been cooking, schlepping out to the chicken coops, mowing the lawn, reminding about pain meds, washing dishes, in addition to handling the dotter’s affairs—all of which is normally split between the two of us (mostly on his end; OmegaDotter’s schedule keeps me plenty busy normally). The busy-ness has made it so that mom’s death has been pushed into the background of my mind. Oh, it’s still there, and easily ramps back up when anyone wants to talk about it, but it’s been pleasant not to be constantly feeling like there’s that black hole in the pit of my stomach.
In the meantime, there are two stories I want to mention here that have caught my attention in the past week.
First off, there’s the press-and-blogger viewing of “Wo Ai Ni, Mommy”, a documentary that follows an 8-year-old from China who is adopted by a family from the U.S. The film will be premiering on PBS in August; this is the trailer:
When I first watched that trailer, many months ago, it broke my heart. I imagined OmegaDotter—also 8 years old—in that situation, being taken from her family of four years in the U.S. (Faith was living with a foster family for 4 years) to be adopted by a family from China. I thought about how she would feel, what it would be like for her, and watching Faith cry that she wants to go home to China just…well…words can’t say how much that hurt.
Two bloggers—Malinda and Peach—were invited to the preview. While I think that the original plan of the documentary was to be a feel-good happy-happy adoption story, they got a different feel from it. Read their reviews (linked on their names) and see what you think.
The second story is that of the hoo-rah at ScienceBlogs. The gist: ScienceBlogs is a collective blog about (surprise!) science, with a stable of about 70 bloggers from all walks of science, including science journalists, medicos, physiologists, professors, physicists, biologists, archeologists, mathematicians, etc. It started in 2004 2006 and has gained quite a reputation as the go-to place for science on the web. This week, however, a blog was introduced called “Food Frontiers”, which was an “outreach” of PepsiCo. It was given the same prominence as all the other blogs (all invited to join), but was obviously a corporate thing bought and paid for, though not explicitly labeled as such. And, interestingly enough, while previous semi-corporate-linked blogs had been introduced beforehand, this one hit the SB front page with no warning whatsoever.
Well. The shit hit the fan. The question of the firewall between editorial and advertising was debated far and wide. A subset of the bloggers left the site in response, with pretty candid “farewell” posts explaining why. A number of other bloggers said they were dubious, at best, and were considering leaving. One blogger sniffed that it was all a bunch of hysteria over nothing in a very disparaging way. The management (and, probably, PepsiCo) decided that this was a Bad Scene All Around, and removed the corporate blog in question. All that’s left is the post mortems.
I watched this with great interest. My immediate response upon reading the original “hi, there!” post on Food Frontiers was, WTF?! This is an advertorial, damn it! What’s it doing not being marked as such?!?! Ewwwwwww!!!!
For those who don’t know, an "advertorial” is what publishing calls advertising posing as editorial. In the journalism world, such things are (alas) often necessary to pay the bills, but definitely clearly marked as advertising, usually done in a totally different design than the remainder of the magazine. Including an advertorial in the midst of the magazine, using the same design, giving it the same editorial weight as writing by the staff, and not marking it (clearly, plainly, obviously) as advertising is a big no-no. I mean, it’s taboo. Really, truly. As someone who spent 10 years writing and editing in business journalism, I can tell you (and those bloggers and commenters who think the whole uproar is a tempest in a teapot) that no matter how you feel about journalists and the ethics of mainstream media, when I say “taboo”, I mean totally, utterly, absolutely, no doubt about it, this is a line in the sand, TABOO. You do not do this. And if you do this, and someone finds out, and you are called out about it, you lose serious credibility as a journalistic source.
It’s like, say, having sex with your sister, that’s how taboo it’s considered.
I was appalled, myself. I guess I have that verboten written upon my subconscious in letters of fire or some such thing; it was such a visceral response.
(Interestingly enough, I think mom’s response would not have been that emotional. She was very pragmatic and less likely to imbue the journalism biz with idealism. However, she would definitely have thought it was a sincerely bad idea, and rolled her eyes at how stupid it was for the management at ScienceBlogs to take that approach.)
Anyway, here’s a round-up of all the ScienceBlogger’s takes on the subject, and various commenting from other sources, courtesy of BoraZ (one of the bloggers at SB). Alas, it’s not in chronological order; every search I’ve done on various search sites hasn’t produced one, so…start at anything dated July 7 and work your way forward.
One thing about the tale of Artyem, the Russian boy adopted then returned, which I have seen only one post directly address, and which has been bothering the hell out of me:
When was some idiot child going to use that tale to be mean to my dotter? When was someone going to tell her that we were going to send her back, because that’s what people do to adopted kids?
Oh, there were plenty of posts about the feeling of loss and abandonment that some adopted people feel, long into their adult years. There were plenty of posts about the whys and wherefores of this woman’s case. There were plenty of posts about the ethical, moral issues. But not really any specifically saying: I have an eight-year-old child who was adopted, and I’m terrified that someone is going to use this story to HURT HER.
There was one night last week where she was snuggled up on the Big Chair in the living room. I was walking by, and she asked me to sit with her because she had something to say to me. Now, OmegaDotter has a tendency to do this when you’re not paying attention to her, and it always turns out to be something lame, being used an an excuse to Get Attention. I was dubious. Then she said, “I’m sad about adoption.”
Oh, boy. I immediately sat down. So we talked—a little bit—about what made her sad. She’s getting better at being able to say these things, but not any better about the whys. I asked her why she was sad, and how she was sad, and all she could do was say she was sad.
“I know it’s sad for you sometimes. It’s happy and sad for your dad and me; we’re happy that we adopted you, but sad that you had to lose your birth family for us to adopt you, and sad that it makes you sad.”
So I had to ask her, “Has anyone been teasing you about being adopted?” She shook her head no. We snuggled a bit, she bounced up, and that was that.
Um. Okay. Was that all? Hm.
I kept wondering during the week, what do I do? Do I ask her directly if she’s heard about the story? Do I just let it sit? What if I let it sit and someone pulls it out like a trump card in the midst of a kid fight? Will she talk to us about it or just keep it hidden tight? What do I do?!
This evening at bedtime, the dam busted. I was giving her her goodnight kiss, and looking at her I couldn’t just let her be defenseless against this story. I knew that at some point, someone would pull it and cut with it and it would hurt like a knife.
“Hey, kiddo. Anyone at school tell you about the boy who was adopted and sent back?”
Hey, I never said I was subtle about these things…
Her eyes widened, and she shook her head.
“Anyone tease you about being sent back to China?”
“Well, there was this story in the news this week about a 7-year-old boy who was adopted by a woman who ended up sending him back.” I held her by the side of her head and stared into her eyes. “And I just want you to know: We would never, ever ‘send you back to China’. Never, ever. You’re stuck with us, girl!” I kind of choked up on the word “stuck” so it came out funny.
“Styuck?! Ha! You’re styuck with me!” she giggled.
“I mean it. You’re stuck with us. We would never send you back to China, no matter how horribly you behave.” I gave her the hairy eyeball (my tone and my mugged expression made sure that the “no matter how horribly you behave” was taken as an exaggeration, not a condemnation). She smiled. It wasn’t a “haha, that’s funny!” smile. It wasn’t a “I’m being cute and know it” smile. It was a big happy smile.
“No matter how bad I am?!”
“No matter what, kiddo.”
Then she needed the details of the story, so I gave her an abbreviated version. She asked me when it happened. I told her. She got indignant: “On your birthday! That’s sucky!” I mentally blinked—that hadn’t even occurred to me. She decided she wanted to go KILL the woman. Oops, nip that in the bud right quick, OmegaMom! Then she decided she wanted to write a letter telling the woman she was mean and cruel and—bad word alert!—shhhh!—stupid. She wanted to see a picture of the woman; was she pretty or ugly? Which was a good opening to OmegaMom’s standard “pretty people can be mean, too; it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what’s on the inside” shtick.
Which, of course, led to the dotter pretending to rip off her skin (her own skin) to see what was inside (all very dramatic and done in a silly way), which led to “did you know my bladder is right here”, pointing to the middle of her abdomen, “not down here”, pointing to right above the pubic bone. Which led to the dotter explaining that her teacher had shown a picture of the insides and the bladder was in the middle and did I know the stomach wasn’t round, but was shaped like a banana?
So. I feel better just getting it out there in the open. The story itself, and the underlying fear that some adult adoptees say they always had, that they would be “sent back”.
The story of the single mom who adopted a 7-year-old from Russia, then sent him back unaccompanied on an international flight with a letter that said—essentially—“I’m sending the defective goods back” has been reverberating through the news and the adoptive community for the past week.
I’m trying to organize my thoughts here, so I think I’ll do it bullet-point wise while I’m organizing.
They had had the boy for six months. Um. Okay; everything I’ve read says that it takes the child being in a family as long as the child has been in an institution for any real attachment to take place. Six months is no time at all in terms of family growth and re-settlement and stability and and and…
The adoption agency in the U.S. had been doing the follow-up visits and reported no problems at the last visit, which was about a month ago.
Russia is angry. Well, dammit, they’ve been angry about a series of adoption-related issues over the past few years; what does it take to (a) have them realize that good and solid information about a child’s behaviors and issues is needful and necessary for a safe and stable adoption situation; (b) have them decide there are serious problems with the current Russian-international adoption approach and figure out how to change it; (c) have them just decide to shut down the international adoption program entirely?
Now, a lot of folks are faulting the adoption agency for approving this woman for adoption. The adoption agency in question is actually used quite often by families in Alaska for adoptions from China, and they have always had good “cred” in the Alaska FCC mailing list.
I’ve read their “questions and answers” sheet about the case, and, reading between the lines, it sounds like this woman never asked for help. In addition, the agency claims that they have always found another family for a child who is not a “good fit” with the family that adopts him/her.
Why didn’t this woman ask for help???
Was she unprepared?
Well, supposedly she had ten hours’ worth of training in the ins and outs of international adoption.
Okay. First off, ten hours isn’t shit. It’s what’s required by law, but it’s still not shit. Not for something like adoption. Period. Oh, we had that same ten hours of training ourselves, via videos from our out-of-state adoption agency. Even so, even though it’s a lick and a swipe at the potential issues that can crop up in adoption, it certainly mentioned the worse-case scenarios multiple times.
At which point, we went online and researched it for ourselves.
Well, actually, we had gone online and researched it for ourselves long before we got those videos. We joined email lists. We read up on attachment issues. We read up on ways to foster attachment. If we had been adopting an older child, we would have researched ideas for fostering attachment in older children. We talked and talked and talked about these possibilities.
But y’know, there are a lot of people out there who are…blinded…by their hopes and dreams. A person who is blinded like that will hear the training, but not listen. They will fall victim to magical thinking: “Oh, yes, that sort of thing happens, but it won’t happen to us!” Or, “Oh, yes, if that happens to us, we will be able to Make It All Better Through True Love!” Or something. Probably, we, too, were victims of magical thinking. But when it became obvious to us that OmegaDotter had some issues, we didn’t cover our ears and sing, “La, la, la, I’m not listening!” All that prior research made it very easy for me to go to our pediatrician and discuss our worries and specify why we had them, and our selection of a pediatrician with international adoption experience made it so that when I approached her about these issues, she was able to come up with a therapist (occupational therapy) who could help.
Right there, though, is a crucial element: We asked for help. When we realized we needed help, we reached out.
While I am fully aware that journalists are incredibly able to twist a story or leave out important details, and that speaking to the grandmother in a case like this is, essentially, relying on hearsay, the grandmother claims that the mother “talked” to psychologists, but did not take the child in for any sort of therapy.
Dudes. If you’ve adopted, and you’re facing problems with your newly adopted child, you don’t rely on a phone call or two for either diagnosis or therapy. Period. You get your child into therapy with a qualified therapist of some type who has experience with children adopted from institutions, experience with attachment disorders, sensory disorders. To boot, any psychologist who makes a diagnosis over the phone without seeing the person in question is a disgrace to the profession. (Some of my long-time readers may recall a specific controversial instance where this was done.)
If you are adopting, here’s a word of advice: Your agency is there to help you. Not just before the adoption. Not just during the adoption trip. If you’re having problems, your agency should be able to help you. It’s part of what you’re paying them for.
But because these options are available doesn’t mean all people take advantage of them. If you’re a person who has been blinded by the “I’m going to rescue a poooor helpless cheee-ild from a cold, loveless, dead-end life in a (::shudder::) orphanage!” spiel, you’re probably not going to be the kind of person who actually listens to the (ain’t shit) ten hours of training. You’re probably not going to be the kind of person who realizes that, with older children, there’s a honeymoon period, and after the honeymoon period, it takes hard work. Even if you’ve got a beautiful, innocent, sweet baby girl, being a parent takes hard work once the honeymoon period is over with.
(I’d be very, very interested to find out the percentage of adoption disruptions correlated to age at adoption and country of origin. It would be nice if this information were actually tracked. Certainly, it seems that there are a helluva lot more news stories about disruptions or accounts of abuse for children adopted from Russia; is this actually the case, or am I suffering from confirmation bias here? I find myself wondering if there’s an inherent issue at work, being that people who are adopting from Russia are [typically] adopting from there in hopes of not being a “conspicuous family”, and, not having it in-your-face, as it were, are less likely to internalize the need to confront the less pleasant aspects of older child/international adoption/adopting institutionalized children?)
When I wrote that last post, it was going to be followed up by the “And she’s all better now, whew!” post. But I had things to do that weekend, and places to go, so didn’t write.
But I did notice that mom hadn’t blogged for a few days, and she hadn’t sent me any email. So I picked up the phone to call her (I previously had been calling her every day, but then thought she was better, so stopped).
At which point, she asked me to come out to Arizona again, saying that things were worse.
So here I am in Arizona, with mom. I managed to sneak in during a break between the storms that have hit Arizona (and California before that). The airplane was delayed two hours on the tarmac in Big City due to a malfunction that turned out to be a Ghost In The Machine, and missed my connecting flight in Salt Lake City…but Delta showed how absolutely wonderful it is by automagically rebooking all the people who had missed their flights onto the next available flight. This was very cool–all we had to do was take our existing boarding pass, run it beneath a scanner, and a brand spanking new boarding pass for the rebooked flight was printed out.
But when I got to Phoenix and got to the car rental place, a snag occurred. It seems that we didn’t have enough money in our account to cover any car rental (if I had had a credit card, that would have worked, but they automatically block out more money for debit cards, no matter how little an amount of time you want to rent)…paychecks being deposited on Saturday didn’t help. I was tired. I just wanted to get up to mom. So I parked myself on one of the chairs in the middle of the huge car rental complex and proceeded to sob my heart out.
Then I called OmegaDad.
Have I mentioned how much I love OmegaDad? Well, okay, just thought I’d mention it again.
Anyway, he arranged for the inter-city shuttle to pick me up and get me up to Prescott. Yay, OmegaDad!
Driving up was an adventure–but the good kind. See, since I wasn’t driving, I didn’t have to worry about all the water crossing the road, or the high winds, and was perched up nice and high so I could peer out the windows and see over concrete barriers on bridges and wash crossings. All of which were flooded with rushing water. Waves. Crests on the waves. Waterfalls coming down the rocky roadcuts that we were traveling between. Snow mixing with the heavy rain when we got to Prescott.
(Up in Small Mountain University Town, they have had something like four feet of snow. Roofs are collapsing on businesses–the ice rink, the big, comfy used bookstore, the fabric store, more–and the city mayor has declared that all businesses must clear their roofs or face a fine. The powers that be also closed the main highways around SMUT for 24 hours.)
Anyway, I am here with GrannyJ. We are working on getting her into a nursing home for a few weeks, to see if they can do anything. We’re talking about her maybe moving to live with my brother. Lots of things to talk about. She is not doing well, but she is–as ever–my sharp-witted, fun, sweet mom.
In the meantime, consider me a poster child for the Sandwich Generation: OmegaDotter’s birthday is tomorrow, and she is in her first “real” gymnastics meet tomorrow, too, with judges and not every participant getting a trophy. We had a little birthday dinner Wednesday, and gave her the family presents, but I wasn’t able to arrange her party in time…that’s up to OmegaDad.
I know a lot of bloggers who are having issues with their moms these days. KatKaz (damn, should proofread when I’m posting at midnight!), Laurie, Lorrie, V…I’ve kept so quiet with them about their problems because…well, it’s kind of a “La, la, la, I’m ignoring things!” approach. But we’re past the ignoring problems part here, and I want to apologize and shout out to all of you to say, “Hang in there, kiddos.”
I will keep all & sundry posted; I wasn’t planning to post tonight, but saw Anon in AV’s comment, and thought I should update.
Today we thinned out the beets. We had two sizes–itty bitty embryonic beets, and almost-beet-sized beets. We ate the mess of embryonic beets, cooked with their greens, and it was yummy. Tomorrow or the next day, we will eat the almost-beet-sized beets.
Sunday, OmegaDad made homemade peach ice cream, brownies, and bread. Saturday, he brought home two pints of the best blueberries I’ve had in ages. It’s been a few days of eatin’ around here!
ETA: Oh! I forgot! Today was the anniversary of the first moon landing. I don’t remember it very well, but do remember watching it at my grandmother’s house down in Jacksonville. We were telling the dotter about it, and she kept asking, “He was the first man ever to walk on the moon?! EVER?!” Then she asked who was the first woman to walk on the moon. We said no woman has ever walked on the moon. Now she wants to be the first. Anyway, in honor of this occasion (warning: language, but quite appropriately inappropriate!):
Pop culture icons of my childhood and early adulthood are dropping like flies. Ed (”Heeeere’s Johnny!”) McMahon, Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett, and now–in a real shocker–Michael Jackson.
Fawcett repositioned herself from pop-actress and B- or C-movie star to tragic figure by chronicling her death to anal cancer in a documentary that was shown this May on TV.
Ed was, of course, Ed, all the way. Like many others in these uncertain economic times, he was facing foreclosure on his mansion last year, but managed to re-negotiate with help from friends.
What can one say about a guy who started out with an angel’s voice, moved on to pop-music stardom and creative risk-taker with “Thriller” and its associated music video–which was a ground-breaker when they made it–and then became a mockery for multiple alleged cosmetic surgeries and accusations of pedophilia…?
A tragic figure all around.
I am finding all of this somewhat shocking, and a nasty reminder that we’re all getting older. McMahon was 86 and had lived a long and full life; Fawcett was 62; Jackson…? How old was he? Oh, that’s right, he was 50 years old.
Wait a minute.
I am 50 years old.
So there it is: my youth is officially over with. I can start reading the obituary pages of the newspapers, scanning them for names I know. Next up is starting to drive slower. Then I’ll be saying, “Eh?! What’s that?! Speak up, sonny, I can’t hear you!” One foot in the grave already…
We spent the weekend doing weekend-ish types of things, including OmegaDad replacing the tree swing out front (it had an untimely demise due to rotting rope, which resulted in OmegaDotter being dumped and getting a small rope burn on her fingers). And while this was going on (and laundry and cleaning and luvvin’ on chickens and stuff like that), I was watching the flood of information on swine flu on the Internet blossom and spread like fungus spores.
Watching the Twitter feed on the search term “swine flu” has been fascinating.
Some utterly baseless rumors and misunderstandings (these are all things I have personally read on Twitter):
Since this new version contains elements of avian influenza, swine influenza, and human influenza, it can’t possibly be natural; it’s been cooked up as a biowarfare weapon. (Flu viruses swap DNA all the time, it’s why they mutate and we need new vaccines every year.)
It’s a plot by Barack Obama to take attention off of the economy.
It’s a plot by Barack Obama to force through his national health care agenda.
It’s a plot by the libruls and Barack Obama to extend government control.
The meeting between Barack Obama and Felipe Solis, director of Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum (Solis died the next day) was an attempt to assassinate the President.
Sasha Obama has the swine flu.
The reason the swine flu has shown up in the U.S. is because of illegal immigrants. (Let’s just ignore the fact that the majority of the cases identified so far have been due to–eek, gasp!–tourists returning from Mexico.)
It’s a plot by Big Pharma to drive up medicine sales.
It’s the result of a slow news week and all media hype.
It’s the END OF THE WORLD!!!!!!
You can get swine flu by (eating/fucking/looking at/smelling) pork.
The governments of the world are overreacting.
The governments of the world are underreacting.
It’s the fault of big, bad factory farms.
I am sick–it must be swine flu!
I am sick–I wish everyone would stop saying it’s swine flu!
OMG, I am afraid to leave the house because of swine flu!
Dudes, just chill out–x people die each year because of ordinary flu/because of car accidents/because of poorly prepared medications/choose your pet issue–so we don’t need to worry.
Fifty kazillion riffs on the xkcd web comic related to swine flu and Twitter.
Another fifty kazillion bad swine flu jokes (oinkment, kids kissing pigs, when pigs fly, etc.).
The psychology of the Internet rumor mill is just amazing to me.
Now, I have been reading the blogs of people who are actually involved with epidemiology (in particular, Effect Measure and H5N1), and they are confronted with two choices: Either react now, or react later. If they react later and the flu fizzles, hey, it’s okay. But if they react later, and the flu doesn’t fizzle but turns into a pandemic akin to the 1918 flu, we’re all in deep kimchee. If they react now, and the flu fizzles, well, it’s like the boy who cried wolf. Do it too many times, and the one time it’s needed is the time that everyone will yawn, go “Ho hum, another flu panic…” React now and the flu is a baddie? Then everything is in place to stage quarantines, border closings, flu meds, and more when and where it is needed.
Right now, it’s really too early to tell. The reports from Mexico are not good. What I’ve read is 1600+ sick, with 150-200 deaths so far. (Actually, what I’ve read in some places is 1600+ hospitalized, which is a major difference.) By the end of this week, there should be much better data, including how fast it is spreading outside Mexico.
And, of course, maybe by the end of the week, they can figure out just what the major differences are that are causing fatalities in Mexico, but mild cases elsewhere.
I’ve been using email and the Internet (in varying forms) since 1992.
While I’m really not good about replying to emails, I’m very good about sending snippets out and about, to OmegaDad, to GrannyJ, to varying friends and relatives. A link here (”Oooh. This is interesting!”), a photo there (”Hey. Here’s the dotter’s school pic.”), reminders (”Pick up some milk on the way home, and we’re out of cat food.”), a kml file (”Look at the aurora map!”), a YouTube video (usually a funny one).
I read the news online; I have the local blatt bookmarked, so I know what’s going on around Small Alaska Suburb and Big City, I have Small Mountain University Town’s newspaper bookmarked (though I haven’t been reading it much lately, which is an indicator of finally moving on, I guess), I have MSNBC and CNN bookmarked.
Think about it. You’re used to the connectivity. You’re constantly in casual touch with friends, relatives, coworkers. You’ve even gathered together a community that spearheaded your election victory with “MyBarackObama” social networking.
And now…now…your security officials are telling you you must give it up while you are the president.
I couldn’t do it. Give up my email? My IM? My blog? No more quick dips into the Internet stream to see what the daily zeitgeist is? No zipping over to Los Angeles news sites to see what the status of the SoCal fires is? No link to the weather?
It’s one thing to turn it all off while on vacation; that’s just a week or two. But for four or eight years?! Ack. No.
You’ll get my Interwebs from me when you pry it (them?) from my cold, dead hands!
Today, two separate sets of astonomers released news that they had photographed planets in other solar systems.
Of course, one’s immediate thought is of Apollo- or shuttle-style photos of big blue marbles. Alas, no; that’s a long way off. What we have is one real-light image of a large planet circling Fomalhaut (nicknamed “The Eye of Sauron” because of its lovely red ring surrounding an unblinking bright pinprick pupil), looking like just another dot, and not one, not two, but three planets circling a star gracefully named HR8799 (which sounds like one of the multitudes of operating procedures put out by, say, a university human resources department), photographed in infrared.
Oh, man. It is just so kewl, even if they are still just dots. We’ve come a long way; astronomers are finding evidence of planets everywhere they look, it seems, whereas just a few decades ago there was serious discussion that planets might be a rarity in the universe.
From the sublime to the wonderfully ridiculous: Last year, some scientists arranged something called “Dance Your Ph.D.”, in which scientists were asked to do an interpretive dance of the subject of their Ph.D. thesis. This resulted in some splendid dances (which you can see here). The winner was a stylized primitive hunt of antelope, followed by the hunter sharing the feast afterwards, illustrating his thesis titled “Refitting repasts: a spatial exploration of food processing, sharing, cooking, and disposal at the Dunefield Midden campsite, South Africa.” The contest was such a success that this year the AAAS is sponsoring the 2009 Dance Your Ph.D. contest. Go visit and watch the videos; there’s a tango about electrons and lattices, some mice sharing pheromones, marine animals being caught in nets and dying, insulin growth factors binding proteins, and more!
All of which makes me want to remind you: Science is Fun(damental)!
Sorry to be so crude, but we’ve got two senate races now that are real squeakers–one right here in Alaska!–and a third that is still undecided.
Right now, Mark Begich is three votes ahead of Ted Stevens, he of the “tubes” description of the Internet. Stevens is being called “convicTed” by liberal voters because of his recent conviction; I can tell you that our neighborhood was filled with “Republican for Mark Begich” signs, so that’s an indicator of some sort. For some reason, Alaska still has not counted some 30,000 votes; they counted 60,000 or so today, all mailed in or provisional ballots. Before this, Stevens was ahead by a few thousand.
In Minnesota, Al Franken and Norm Coleman are doing the do-si-do: first one’s up, then the other, then the other. Right now, Coleman is ahead by 204 votes, well within the required automatic recount that Minnesota law provides when races are closer than a certain margin. The official recount begins next Wednesday, and is expected to last until December.
In Georgia, neither Saxby Chambliss (the Republican) nor Jim Martin has the required 50% plus one (the Libertarian candidate siphoned off the additional votes), and they are looking at a runoff election in December.
If all three Republicans in these races end up losing…then the Democrats would have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. (Whether this is a good thing or not I leave up to my readers to decide. I, personally, do not want the FBPM; I like the checks and balances and negotiations that would be required to court the two independent senators or lure a Republican over.)
The “lice incident” was not. The school nurse moaned to me about how that class has driven her nuts because a few parents are paranoid about lice; the dotter’s reportage was garbled, thank heavens (she had said that Nurse Lady had found cocoons in her hair!!!!! ACK!).
The award was for creative writing and art. No surprise there!
Obama had a press conference today which served to indicate a few things: 1) He is not president yet, which he reiterated three times to my counting; 2) he takes the economy issue very, very seriously; 3) Paul Volcker was standing to his left and was shown during almost the entire press conference, so that’s an indicator of the type of economic advisor he’s going to tap; 4) he’s not going to discuss his security briefings; and 5) the new White House dawg will need to be hypoallergenic.
It’s great. It’s historic. Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey teared up on national TV. The first black American president.
He was my candidate. I’m glad he won. But…Now he’s stuck with the job.
And here comes my cold-water, wet-blanket, pessimistic post. Sorry. If you’re still feeling giddy with happiness, go somewhere else and don’t read this post until a few months have passed; I don’t want to rain on your parade.
I had a draft post entitled “the Janitor-in-Chief” (based on John Mauldin’s column, “Electing the Janitor-in-Chief“) which I never published, all about my (usual) dismal outlook on the economy, and the mess that the president-elect (whoever he might be) would inherit, and I’m afraid that my pleasure in Obama’s victory is highly tempered by that outlook.
It’s a mess. It’s a royal mess. I reiterate my prediction that the new president will be a one-termer. I hope not, but the economy is racing down the toilet, and there’s a helluva lot more bad economic news to come. Auto industry executives have been quoted as saying it’s the worst their industry has seen since World War II; Goldman Sach’s investors’ outlook note leaked today says that they’re revising their unemployment estimate upwards from 250,000 jobs lost in October to 300,000, and they expect it to keep getting worse; commercial real estate investment is drying up; the ISM factory index is the lowest it’s been since 1982; real personal spending–which fuels 70% of U.S. GDP–plummeted at an annual rate of 3.9% in the month of September; and on and on and on.
I’d love to think that the hearts and flowers and joy and luv-luv-luv will win over the 53 million people who voted for McCain, but given some things I’ve read on the ‘net today, and some things I’ve heard on boards and in emails, we’ve got a whole slew of people out there who think that Obama is a Marxist/Leninist/socialist/communist/jack-booted thug who is out to tear down the structure of the United States and RUIN US ALL.
(Hey, it’s the right-wing’s version of the liberals’ dreaded October Surprise, the staged terrorist attack that would give BushCo the excuse to call for martial law and suspend the elections…)
Yup, Barack Obama, who the lefties think isn’t left enough, is too moderate and centrist, is a communist thug. Sigh.
And I sit here thinking to myself: What?! Why on earth would anyone want the job? Why on earth didn’t we let McCain take it, and have him get stuck with the tar and feathers, the anger and frustration and disillusionment that will greet the upcoming years of cleaning up the mess that BushCo left us with?
Gah. Maybe I’m feeling like this because it’s November, and the light is vanishing fast, and it’s been cold as hell. Or because some folks who I really love and respect are taking this…um…not well.
(Edited to add: Okay. That’s it. The last. I was so excited. So happy. So thrilled. And realizing that intelligent, sensible people whom I know and love are scared just shocks me to the core and makes me want to cry. I see hope; they see fear and hatred. I see trying to change some of the gawd-awful stuff that BushCo has done; they see destruction. I see an intelligent, moderate, quiet man who will do his best to do a competent job; they see a Hitler-like demagogue. And I want to cry.)
Anyway, to read a better (less pessimistic) take that looks at the practicalities, go read John Scalzi’s post, “Reality Check“.
And really, truly, I’m very happy Obama won. I watched the speech and teared up. We made OmegaDotter watch with us, telling her it was a historic occasion that she would remember all her life. It’s amazing that the U.S. was able to actually vote–clearly and decisively (though not a landslide, as some would claim)–for a black man as president. Forty years ago, one would never have imagined this day.
I’ve kept meaning to write about Nebraska’s “safe haven” law, which took effect in July.
That’s the one that people across the nation eyeballed before it was passed and then told the legislators, “OMGWTFBBQ?!”
Okay, they didn’t quite say that. I do think there were quite a few “OMGWTF?!” comments, though.
That’s because Nebraska did not denote a specific age cut-off for their safe-haven dropoffs. They used the language “child”…and, in Nebraska state law, a “child” is anyone up to the age of 18 (the age of emancipation). Safe-haven advocates and opponents from across the nation read this law and said, over and over, “Dudes! Get a grip! Don’t you realize that people will use that mile-wide loophole to drive their teenage kids through?”
The legislator who wrote the law smiled, shook his head at their naivete, and said, “Oh, really. Please. That’s not going to happen! And if it saves a single life, it will be worth it!”
September 1: Male 14–left by mother at Omaha police station. Currently in foster care.
September 13: Male 11–left by grandmother–another report says mother–at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha; currently in foster care and partial hospitalization.
September 13: Male 15–left by guardian aunt at Bryant Medical Center West, Lincoln.
September 20: Pregnant female 13 left by mother at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha. Returned to mother.
September 22: Male 18, turned himself in to hospital in Grand Island; too old for foster care, but can receive services.
September 24: 9 siblings, 1-17 (left by father, Gary Staton, at Creighton University Medical Center ER).
An 18-year old sister who does not live at home was not abandoned. All these children are now in foster care and several relatives have requested custody.
September 24: Male 11–left at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha.
September 24, Male 15–left by guardian uncle at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha; uncle plans to relinquish guardianship.
October 5: Male 12–left by guardian grandmother at Brian LGH West, Lincoln.
October 5: Male 12–left at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha.
October 7: Female 15–her 34-year-old mother attempted to dump her and was talked out of it by hospital authorities.
October 7: Female 14–Driven across the river from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and left at a hospital by her grandmother.
October 12: Male 13–Michigan mother drove to Omaha, Neb., to leave the child at a city hospital early that morning.
Even Saturday Night Live got into the act, apparently, including a “news item” about another drop-off in their “Weekend Update” segment this past Saturday.
Well! After this bounty of out-of-control teens being abandoned by their parents risk-free due to the poorly written safe haven law, Nebraska state legislators have seen the light, and are planning to amend state law to change the age reference to “no more than 3 days old”. But it may take a special session to do it, since the legislature is on recess and doesn’t meet until January. In the meantime, rather than call a special session, the governor has authorized $100,000 (and up to $200,000 more if that’s not enough!) for the department of Health and Human Services to spend on a special hot line for troubled parents. They’re also sending a letter to adoptive parents and foster parents with information on how to get help if they are having problems with their children.
Though it has absolutely nothing to do with the housing bubble, I can’t help but be amused by the similarities: numerous people saw the unintended outcomes, specifically warned those in power, and were ignored. And what happens? Exactly what the naysayers said was going to happen…
Do you ever have those moments of total paranoia? The kind where you’re sure everyone else has telepathy but you, and you just know they’re laughing at you and pitying you? Or where you finally settle down to sleep for the night and then all the dogs in the neighborhood start barking, very loudly, for a long, long time, and you’re sure that Someone Is Out To Get You?
It’s just me, then?
Well, yeah, sure, I knew that all along; I was just joshin’ witya, y’know?
Anyway, one of my ongoing paranoiac sureties in life is that when I have a Great Idea, somehow or other I am really subconsciously broadcasting it nonstop over the Jungian undermind. That’s why, when I started plotting a really way kewl science-fiction-y novel based on the idea of a previously unknown disease spreading like wildfire through the industrialized modern world, bringing it to its knees, six months later that very same novel came out and raced up to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. And my idea for a totally useful and helpful device for the kitchen (which I can’t remember now), which showed up at our local fancy kitchen store six months later…
Well, now it’s time for yet another one of my ideas–my abso-damn-lutely fine ideas–to be stolen by someone else via that pesky Jungian overmind. Or undermind. Or whatever it is.
For years, I’ve had a fantasy of owning a store, a very specialized sort of store. One with one large room separated into four bays. Targets at one end. A table or rack at the other end, laden with cheap old dishes, china, and crockery purchased at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army. One with an entrance at which I would stand by the cash register, ready to take money and hand out safety goggles and industrial-strength earmuffs to deaden the noise and direct the customers to one of the four bays. My customers would be able to pay me…oh, I dunno, say $20?…and then spend the next half-hour enthusiastically working off all their angst and fury by throwing the dishes as hard as they could at the target at the other end of their selected bay.
Bobcat: So we bought a kids plaything with swings and slides and a tower, courtesy of some money GrannyJ provided us, plus savings from the dotter’s dollar container.
This requires installation, of course.
Which requires a spot in the yard.
Which requires that OmegaDad make things complex, by planning to dig the area out, surround it with beams, and fill it with wood chips.
All very well and good, but there’s this “digging out” that needs doing. Yesterday a.m., OmegaDad dresses in his scruffiest work clothes, grabs his shovel and pick and wheelbarrow, and sets out, all manly-like, to do his yeoman duty.
I wander out a little later, and he mutters about how it would all be easier if he had a Bobcat.
He mutters it to me a little later. And once more. And I say to him, “Well, why don’t we rent one?”
After some to-ing and fro-ing, we decide to do it, he calls the rental place, they bring a Bobcat over, and he starts to work.
Have I mentioned it’s been raining like crazy lately? And that the yard is soaked?
Do you know what happens when you drive a Bobcat around a rain-soaked lawn?
And when someone who used to be expert at smoothing out lawns but hasn’t done it for 20 years decides to go at it?
Let me just say that at a point yesterday, I was out in the yard and just peered sadly at the large hole.
To add insult to injury, it rained like crazy last night, as well. So the hole is now a big mud hole.
OmegaDad promises me that it will be fixed and by next summer the lawn will be looking bee-yoo-tiful again.
Drama: We had OmegaDotter’s current BFF, K., over to spend the night. The end result was two full-on scenes with tears and misery on both sides, and one time OmegaDad asking why they bothered to be friends, since they made each other miserable, and one time OmegaMom did the same thing. When they weren’t fiercely hurting each others’ feelings, they were busy running around and being happily noisy. How two girls, 6 and 7 years old, can make the house sounds like it’s filled with an entire soccer team of little girls, plus a couple of elephants, I have no idea.
More Drama: The Mother of All Bailouts. Treasury Secretary Paulson is running a $700 billion save-the-markets-from-total-meltdown program by the Congress and the President as I type. The markets were down 900 points in two days until rumors of the bailout began floating, at which point the markets gained more in two days, percent-wise, than they have since…
The current plan is all of one page long. It includes this fun little piece:
“Sec. 8. Review. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
Ahem. That’s not funny, folks.
This $700 billion is to be spent purchasing assets of unknown worth from faltering financial companies, then figuring out how to sell them to someone else. The problem is that many of those assets are backstopped by mortgages on real estate where the price is still falling. No-one knows how much that stuff is worth. But Uncle Sugar Sam is gonna make everything all better, you betcha, and those financial companies that went blindly ahead playing with money on the assumption that real estate always goes up (wrap your head around that one for a few minutes) are going to be taken care of, all nice and tidy.
My personal preference is a conglomeration of suggestions from various commenters on various financial websites:
Rather than create this new, sweeping agency/power backed by $700 billion, increase FDIC to $500 billion, or the entire $700 billion.
Increase deposit insurance to $250,000 per depositor. Insure money market deposits and interbank loans for 12 months.
FDIC judges ACTUAL capital ratios (not fakery reported on balance sheets), and seizes banks that don’t meet existing FDIC regulations.
FDIC seizes BIGGEST weak banks first (the original commenter names a bank rumored to be very big and very much in trouble, but I’m removing that) and moves down, to maximize positive impact on public trust.
FDIC corrals bad assets and auctions them off slowly over time. FDIC sells good assets and deposits to good banks.
Investors in seized banks are treated as in a bankruptcy: equity is wiped out, debt is worked out based on remaining equity, if any.
Executive management of seized banks, is fired, blackballed from other seized banks, and passed to FBI for investigation.
Dividends of $.01 from all financial companies until things are cleaned up.
Any “golden parachute” clauses for current financial company executives are null and void.
Institute a website that lists each transaction purchased by the government. This could list the details of the asset, the PAR value, the selling institution, the underlying characteristics, the originators of the loans, the price the government paid (and eventual sold the asset for) and any other relevant detail.
Right now, there’s wrangling going on. The Dems are saying, well, if you’re going to throw $700 billion at this problem, let’s add some more money to create another stimulus check.
Look, the whole financial market went into a tailspin and almost froze up last week. There are plenty of commenters at my regular blog stops who think the Paulson plan is only going to postpone things. There are plenty of people who are terrified that if nothing gets done, and quickly, the tailspin and freeze are going to continue on Monday. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m pretty sure I don’t really like the plan as it currently stands…
In my previous post, I deliberately left out a rumor that had been sweeping the internet, that Palin’s fifth child was actually her eldest daughter’s child. First off, I don’t like repeating unsubstantiated rumors, and secondly–well, whoo boy, some of the “reasoning” that went on was just silly.
For instance, she didn’t look pregnant, and all women who are on their fifth pregnancy look much more pregnant than their first, and here’s a picture of her with her first, where she’s all blown up like a balloon, and no-one knew she was pregnant until she announced it in her 7th month.
Obviously, the people who used that as reasoning have never been around a woman who has gotten pregnant more than once–or else they have, and they assume that all women follow exactly the same pattern as the woman/women they have known. Palin had her first child when she was a stay-at-home mom-to-be. Now she’s a high-powered go-getter who likes to run. I know someone who “likes to run” who was pregnant with twins, who didn’t look pregnant at all until she was in her 7th month.
Then there’s the “44-year-old women don’t get pregnant accidentally” commentary. This was bolstered with deep discussion about the success rates for IVF for women in their 40s.
Excuse me while I howl with laughter at that one. Haven’t these people ever heard of “oops babies” or “menopause babies”? And applying statistics on IVF success rates for infertile women to a woman who had already had four children and is obviously fertile as all get out is…um…let me put this gently…stupid as hell.
What about the “Mat-Su Regional Medical Center’s baby nursery web page doesn’t show Trig Palin being born on that day!” excuse. Somehow, the nursery web page is supposed to be equivalent to official hospital records. ::blink:: The last I had heard, those nursery web pages were strictly a voluntary thing on the part of the parents.
We’ve got the “no woman in her right mind would get on an airplane to fly eight hours when she was leaking amniotic fluid! She would have checked into the nearest hospital!” Maybe, maybe not. Maybe she’s not a panicky person? Maybe she actually (gasp!) called her OB and (gasp!) asked what to do and was reassured that things would no doubt hold until she made it…home. Yes, amazingly enough, she may have wanted to give birth at the hospital she was familiar with, with the doctor she was familiar with, surrounded by her family? The birthing fascists are particularly appalled at this one, pointing the finger of judgmental disapproval at her for risking the life and health of her baaaaaybeee. Wondering just how dire “leaking amniotic fluid” is, I approached Teh Mighty Google. And nowhere did I see “OMG, get to a doctor right away, an eight-hour airplane flight is bad bad news, your baby may die!” In fact, a lot of the websites I found said, “First, find out if it is amniotic fluid” and “it can be because of a small tear in the sac that can heal or it could be pre-term labor” and “then your doctor or midwife can help you decide what to do, depending on how premature your child is…”
My assumption: She checked with her doctor, her doctor told her given the circumstances she could fly back home and s/he would see her the next day, and when she was seen, the doc said, looks like you’ve leaked a lot of fluid, and it’s probably best if you give birth today.
But, hey, that’s me. It just amazes me that there’s a whole slew of women out there whose battle cry is “pregnancy is not a medical condition!” who seem to have gone bonkers at the mention that Sarah Palin was OMG leaking amniotic fluid and obviously she doesn’t have the judgement to become a vice president. I would have thought that there’d be a whole slew of women who thought, “Hey, a mom who’s given birth four times, capable and competent, knows her body, knows how her body handles pregnancies, she and her doctor together think it’s okay to return home, way to go Sarah!” Nope.
So I didn’t discuss that rumor.
But this morning McCain and Palin decided to release the news that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant and getting married because that rumor was getting so much notice on the intertubes. Sigh. Yes, I do think that Bristol’s pregnancy is relevant given Palin’s policy of support for abstinence-only sex-education. Yes, I do think that Bristol’s pregnancy is relevant given Palin’s policy of wanting abortions to be illegal. Yes, part of me wonders if Bristol has actually been given a real choice–abort, adopt out, have the baby–or was told what to do. I sorrow for the abrupt change from carefree teenager-hood to parenthood for her, but am sure that she’ll do just fine given the support of her family. I’m glad that under current laws, Bristol has the choice, and I will do what I can to ensure that my own dotter, when she is 17, also has the choice should she be in that situation.
But y’know what? There are plenty of other things about Palin that should concern people who are voting in this election. I don’t think, frankly, that the state of her family is anyone’s business. Let’s concentrate on the issues, people. There are oodles of issues that the two campaigns differ widely on. Let’s not get caught up in gossipy, judgmental finger-pointing.
This public service announcement brought to you by OmegaMom, She Of The Shiny Halo.
On Friday, in a move calculated to upstage Obama’s Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech, John McCain announced his surprise selection of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his running mate.
A horde of angry feminists immediately shouted that John McCain was out of touch for selecting an inexperienced, lightweight, far-right woman as his running mate as an attempt to gain their votes. What?! They shouted. Do you expect us to vote for you just because you have a woman as your running mate!? How condescending! How blatant! How obvious!
Well. I, for one, do not think McCain selected Palin because he wanted to appeal to hard-core Democrats who were romanced by Hillary. Nor was he trying to get hard-core feminists. What I think he was trying to do (aside from shaking up the race and energizing the GOP) was to appeal to two different constituencies: The hard-core right-wing Republicans, who were only very grudgingly willing to vote for McCain, holding their noses as they did so, and the large group of undecided independent women who were voting for Hillary because she was a woman and they were excited at the prospect of a woman in the White House. A fair number of those women were Republicans, whose (confusing to me) dedication to gender advancement was momentarily in ascendancy over their Republicanism, but who now have a choice that is much more to their taste. Another fair number were women who would be willing to go either way, depending on which collection of interests they felt more compelled by, and they will find Palin appealing because of her youth, her vigor, her integrity, and her story.
In other words, by this choice, McCain alienates those who were (surprise!) already alienated by him and the Republican party and gains points with his core constituency and a large group of undecided voters.
So: What about Sarah?
My email box had a few emails from friends and relatives asking me what we think of her.
She’s pro-life/anti-abortion: She walks the walk, doesn’t just talk the talk. The Palins knew early on that Trig was Down’s Syndrome, but the pregnancy was continued anyway. There are those who get angered by this, because they’d say, “Don’t assume that everyone who learns they’re having a child with Down’s Syndrome will automatically abort!”. That’s not my assumption. My assumption is that there are a lot of folks who are “pro-life” who will claim that abortion is horrible under all circumstances, only to be faced with a similar circumstance and decide that, oh, well, it’s okay for me.
Pro-Oil: Well, it’s Alaska. The entire state is pro-oil.
Pro-Corporation (Anti-Environment): She’s for opening up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. She has pushed through a natural gas pipeline that was stalled for a long time. She opposes putting polar bears on the endangered list, and thinks global climate change is a buncha hooey.
Family Values (Anti-Gay): Marriage should be between a man and a woman, period; abstinence-only sex-ed is the way to go, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Openly supported “teach the controversy” in science classes when it comes to science versus “intelligent design”. Then waffled and said she meant when students bring it up.
Claimed to support “transparency” in government, but keeps hella lot of stuff under wraps when requested. For instance, the governor’s office refused to release state scientists’ emails protesting the state’s official position about opposing putting polar bears on the “in danger” list because the emails were “preliminary” and “not relevant”.
After thinking about the whole “experience” thing, though at first I was worried about McCain dropping dead and her not having experience, it occurs to me that no-one has experience being the president of the United States, and it’s a learn-as-you-go job. She seems to have done fairly well as governor of Alaska.
My conclusion: I see a lot to admire in the woman, but her values are not my values.
A compare-and-contrast duo: Back in April, Lenore Skenazy was taken severely to task by NY Times readers for her story of allowing her 9-year-old son to ride the NYC subway all by himself! Oh, the horrors. So she created the website FreeRangeKids, posted the column again, and now has 440+ comments. Today, in a weird sense of deja-vu, I read the post “Riding the subway–to school?” on ParentDish, all about kids 8, 9, and up riding the…wait for it…NYC subway all by themselves to go to and from school. The semi-approving post has had all-of-three semi-approving comments. Where’s the outrage there was for Skenazy’s column? Ironic.
Speaking of judging others’ parenting styles, check out CrabMommy’s tale of being dressed down for dressing down her tot in public. I am so glad I was able to wrassle OmegaDotter out of various stores while in full tantrum mode without anything like that happening to me. I seem to recall one time when I hauled her out of Costco under my arm, plopped her into the carseat in the car, slammed the door, and sat out on the hood of the car while she completed her tantrum, and got actually applauded by a few passersby who had seen the whole scene erupt.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen very often, and is now a thing of the past. I seem to recall it being closer to her fourth birthday than her third, but that was long ago. Yay!
Readership: I probably won’t futz with the RSS feed, mainly because I’m too lazy. Har! But also because, if even one of my readers finds partial feeds inconvenient, it’s not worth it to me. (Ahem. See my halo? I think I’ve shown it off before. It glitters, y’know!) Of course, the same day I was lamenting low readership stats in a half-concealed plea for people to please visit my blooooog (and so many of you took pity, thank you!) someone “Stumbled Upon” me, and I immediately got a big boost for the day. Isn’t that ironic?
Last week, the news headlines were filled with Georgia.
“Russia invades Georgia!”
“Russia moves in as Georgia fights separatists”
“We are all Georgia!”
“Georgia Bigfoot found!”
Wait a minute! What?! How did that last one sneak in there?!
But there it was–two hunters claimed they had a real Bigfoot body in a freezer. They were going to subject it to DNA tests. They were going to Reveal All in a press conference. They were working with “Mr. Bigfoot”, the guy who has spent something like 17 years of his life hunting the elusive Bigfoot and with the host of Squatchdetective radio, another Bigfoot enthusiast.
The news shot around the world! It showed up on FOX news, and other news sources! Everyone was excited!
Once upon a time, there was a great land called Acirema, ruled by scholars and politicians and wizards. For many years, there was were plagues upon the land that swept through on a regular basis, killing children and the elderly and infirm, and occasionally leaving the people that they attacked disabled–blind or deaf or having miscarriages or brain damage or inability to breathe or paralysis. The people kept on keeping on–they were sorrowful, but used to losing children at an early age, and tended to those who were damaged as best they could.
But the wizards of the country decided to join with other wizards around the world to study the plagues and see what they could do.
They learned that by using a magical potion of soap and water, they could fend off many diseases. They discovered that clean water and clean houses helped. For some diseases, like the grey marrow, they invented magical machines that helped those who were paralyzed walk, and helped those who could not breathe to breathe again. But that was after the fact, and the wizards delved deeper and studied harder, and soon discovered the little creatures that caused the plagues, and came up with magical potions called vakseens to keep the plagues from…er…plaguing the children.
The people rejoiced. No longer would their children die from the wheezles. No longer would they have to fear the summer months, when the grey marrow flourished. Now they didn’t have to worry about their older children being unable to have children of their own after having the lumps.
Before the wizards developed their magical potion, for instance, 5.7 million people around the world would die each year from the wheezles. Even in the magical country of Acirema (which was very advanced, and had the money to keep the water clean and educate people about the soap and water combination) before the potions saw thousands of children dying from the wheezles annually. But after the potions were developed and spread around, the wheezle creatures fled, and the number of children dying from the wheezles diminished to NONE each year, and on average only 50 or 60 cases were reported by the medical wizards each year.
The people, being people, soon stopped rejoicing, had their kids take the magical potions as a matter of course, and forgot that the wheezles (and the grey marrow and the lumps and the malign influence and the cough-alot) were actually killers. They got used to thinking of them as “childhood diseases” that were No Big Deal, just something you worked through if your kid caught it, because the wizards took care of any serious cases.
Life went on.
Children were born who had never even known someone who had one of the horrible plagues.
They grew up.
They started to have children of their own.
Some of those children had odd behaviors, where they turned away from others, and the wizards called this “self-turning”. This was very rare–twenty years prior to this story, only 5,000+ children in Acirema’s schools were diagnosed with self-turning by the wizards. But the number of children who had this issue kept growing, and by five years prior to this story, there were 118,000+ children in the schools who were self-turning.
The parents of these children were scared. The wizards were studying this problem, too, but the wizards weren’t finding answers fast enough. After all, they had worked miracles before! Surely they knew what was causing this horrible problem! Maybe…Maybe it was even something the wizards had done!
Some people began to spread the word that it was, indeed, something the wizards had done…and that something was the magical vakseen against the wheezles. The parents cried out, “Don’t use that horrible vakseen! It will give your children the self-turning! It has Bad Things in it, especially liquid silver!” The wizards studied this, and found no connection, but just in case, they took the liquid silver out of the vakseens. But the number of children who were self-turning did not decrease after the liquid silver was taken out of the vakseens. The parents, still scared, said there must be something else in the vakseens. The wizards, who knew about the need for children to get vakseens because of something called “herd protection” (if more than a certain percentage of the children were to get the vakseens, all children would be protected, because the horrible wheezle creatures wouldn’t be able to find hosts to grow in, but if less than that percentage got the vakseens, the wheezles would come back each year, bigger and stronger), kept protesting that children needed the vakseens.
All of which leads us to today. Or at least, the past few weeks. A few weeks ago, a lady named Amanda Peet, who stars in the latest X-Files movie, caused a flap at Cookie Magazine by saying in an interview that she thought that people who don’t vaccinate are “parasites”. One of my regular blog stops, CrabMommy, said something similar when cheering Amanda Peet on.
Oh, the wails and gnashing of teeth! The cries of “tell me that when you’ve held your screaming, thrashing child down as they have a seizure!”! The uproar about the horrible, awful, nasty vaccines that cause autism caused Peet and CrabMommy to have to apologize. CrabMommy apologized in her own personal blog, as well. And I am left…aghast? Speechless? Angry? Frustrated?
Folks, this disease kills children. An estimated 242,000 children died from measles worldwide in 2006. Every year prior to the introduction of the MMR vaccine, children in the U.S. died from measles, mumps, rubella. Not just one or two. THOUSANDS. And after the introduction of the vaccine, these days, how many children DIEfrom these diseases in the U.S. today?
Chew on that for a while.
(In more personal news, today–the day before OmegaGranny arrives–has been sunny and glorious. Isn’t that just the way of things?!)
Thanks for the nice comments about my mushroom pics! I like them, and just wanted to share.
One of the comments was from John, at AdopteeNetwork, which is a new social networking site for adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents. Of course, I checked it out before approving the comment, and it looks pretty neat. John and his brother Peter, both adopted from Korea, have been absorbed by the ins and outs of adoption for many years. If you check out the forum there and you’re a regular adoption blog reader, you may recognize some of the handles. Looks like it’s brand new–like maybe two weeks? Go check it out.
She likes my moose stories, apparently. I blush. Go read Prez’s latest post about dealing with a L.A.Z.Y. Teen, and console her in her travails. In the meantime, I have to think up 7 blogs to pass the award onto.
She did it so long ago (July 9) that I had to scroll through–holy moly!–nine pages of entries to find that one! She has fun with her blog, also writes for Neatorama and a few other places, and actually makes a living blogging. AND she’s raising two kids as a single mom. I don’t know how she does it. Anyway, I have to pass on the Arte y Pico award to 5 bloggers.
Any time I think that infertility sort of made me crazy for a while, I encounter a story like this, and realize, “Hey! I wasn’t that crazy!” The worst of it is that this woman was charged and convicted of the same thing in 1990. That is some crazy. Really.
Nothing major going on, no great thoughts shakin’, just hanging out in the sun…ahhhhhhh.
The chickens are loving the new coop. The babies are loving their new digs in the "temporary" coop.
Our new tractor mower finally got put to use…then we promptly bent a blade on one of the (thousands of) rocks in the yard, which we discovered as OmegaDad cut a lovely swathe through the front yard where one side of the mower cut the grass 3 inches high, and the other side scalped the grass down to the ground. Oops.
The wild roses are blooming, with lovely big pink five-petaled flowers peeping out of the greenery. The roadsides hereabouts now have lupine blooming, too, and it’s a totally different lupine than I’m used to. The lupines here are deep violet, with white tops; the lupines in Small Mountain University Town were blue all the way through.
In the news…
California started offering gay marriage licenses this week, and the state is looking forward to a boom as gay couples from across the country fly out there to get married…because California’s law states that these marriages are valid in other states. (I’m not sure how it works, but that’s what I’ve heard.) Coming this fall: California constitutional amendment vote on a "protect" marriage amendment. Which, as John Scalzi points out, would invalidate all those marriages being made. Ahhh, the warm embrace of Christian fundamentalist love.
Fox News, trying to be hip, became tragically hip by accident when referring to Michelle Obama as "Obama’s Baby Mama", not realizing that "baby mama" is for unmarried moms. Or did they? After all, this is the network that has regularly let slip "Osama" in place of Obama, had an onscreen person seem to advocate assassinating Obama, and called the loving fist-bump that Michelle and Obama exchanged when he locked up the nomination a "terrorist fist jab" (first suggested in . Oy! Every time, of course, they backpedal. I’m sure they mean well. Really! But for another point of view, let’s go back to Scalzi for an excellent rant.
The AP decided to start sending cease-and-desist letters to bloggers for quoting from articles and providing links. A "quote" to them is five words. Eh? Whatever happened to "fair use"? Bloggers, needless to say, are up in arms and talking boycotting AP news, using other news aggregators instead. There was a meeting wherein AP, "backing down", offered to let bloggers use quotes at a per-word price. A five- to 25-word quote would cost $12.50. Oy!
The Phoenix Mars lander, at the Martian pole, scooped a hole in the ground and found "white stuff". I look at the pictures and am taken back to Lubbock, TX, and environs, where half the places you dig, you’ll find satin spar gypsum. In layers. Alternating with red dirt. Like the picture. Alas, I can’t find any really decent pics online, though I know we have plenty in our boxes. We also have some lovely specimens that you have to handle extremely carefully, or it will break into pieces. Really interesting stuff.
Ah! Forgot two items: Boomerific has lost her home to flooding in Iowa; as a result of a "flood" of offers for help, they have set up a Target registry for replacing items lost in the flood. And Karen (of the Nekkid Ovary) has had her lovely daughter Chloe Ellen.
Yeehaw. We now have a black candidate for president, the first time in mainstream political party history.
No, really, I am pleased. But I personally would have been pleased with Hillary, too, and she would have made history as well, being the first female candidate for president for a mainstream political party.
(We’ve had both in offshoot parties before.)
And now we have pissed off Dems saying they would rather vote for McCain than Barack Hussein Obama.
I’m left wondering why.
Why would someone who voted for Hillary Clinton prefer John McCain over Barack Obama?
There’s a bunch of folks who just plain dislike Obama, especially since he didn’t stop at the word "bitter", but went on. As a result, people didn’t look at why he thought they were bitter–being ignored by politicians for three decades–they only got huffy about being seen as religious, gun-toting bubbas. Which totally wasn’t the point, but, hey, they don’t like him now, consider him a condescending elitist, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Of course, there’s the strategic reason: McCain wins, gets stuck with the mess left behind by BushCo, ends up with a one-term lame-duck presidency, and Hillary Clinton sweeps in on her white horse to save the day.
Okay. That’s a valid strategy. But it ignores some serious things, in my point of view.
It ignores the Supreme Court, for one thing. McCain, being Bush Light, may not pack as many strict conservative justices in as Bush Regular would…but they’ll still be leaning on the conservative side.
It ignores his stated intention to continue the war in Iraq.
It ignores McCain’s health insurance plan, which is to do to health insurance companies what was done to credit card companies and banks in the 80s and 90s…loosening regulations in order to encourage competition. Hey! Look what that’s gotten us now! Usurious credit card rates, fifty kazillion people being offered credit who shouldn’t have been, a bubble in real estate prices as a result, and the ensuing crash. Yeah, I’d really like to see that applied to health insurance…
It ignores the fact that McCain is anti-choice, whereas both Hillary and Barack have been unrelentingly pro-choice.
I have a personal beef against McCain, which is something that lost him my respect back a few campaigns ago…when the Bush campaigners did a whispering campaign against him that insinuated that his adopted daughter Bridget, from Bangladesh, was an illegitimate bastard black child. What did McCain do? He did nothing. And after his campaign was over, what did he do? He cozied up to the Bush regime. Pah. So much for Mr. Maverick. I would have voted for him eight years ago…but there is no way I can do it now.
One of the most interesting things I have read in a long time was an interview where someone was asking Obama what his first acts would be in the White House. Obama said he would collect all the Executive Orders signed by the Bush administration and review them for constitutionality.
Woot. I say, woot!
In the end, though, I am not hopeful. I think whoever wins this election is going to be a one-hit wonder. Why? Because whoever wins will be stuck fixing the mess that BushCo has left us. A grinding economic mess. A grinding military mess. And no matter what actions are taken to fix those messes, people aren’t going to like them, one little bit, and when the next election rolls around, they’re going to toss whoever it is out on his ear.
In the meantime, and totally off-topic, but perhaps explaining my sour mood: I hate mosquitoes with a fiery passion. The problem is that they like me. Nom nom nom, is what they say when they scent me and home in on my skin. We have an industrial strength mosquito herd out by the area where The Grand Coop is being built. I go out and help OmegaDad measure and cut and screw, and the mosquitoes are chowing down on me like I’m food from a fancy, expensive caterer being dished up for free.
We did not have mosquitoes in Small Mountain University Town.
Aside from that, we had Ballet Recital Madness–The Preview (aka the production run-through of the recital). Some lovely dancing, some extremely tired but very well-behaved three- to six-year-olds, a few glitches, and some laughs. Next up is Thursday, dress rehearsal.
I may actually have real content here tomorrow, but can’t promise anything on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
Wait. Really. Here’s the scoop: If you’re a popular blogger, you’ll get tabbed for a Big Internet Site Job, get hooked on exposing too much of yourself, ruin your personal relationships, have a nervous breakdown, think about leaving blogging entirely, and end up pretty much where you were to begin with, except (maybe) older and wiser.
On a different subject entirely, can someone explain to me why everyone is (gasp!) shocked and horrified that Clinton, while discussing the ins and outs of primaries, mentioned Bobby Kennedy’s assassination? I mean, she also mentioned a few other situations where the nomination wasn’t set until after the convention. Dudes, she isn’t advocating assassinating Obama. Really. She may have been stupid to say such a thing, given how tender and delicate everyone’s sensitivities are these days about any perceived slight or threat or…whatever it was. I swear, these days people just need to keep their yaps shut about everything, because someone is going to be (gasp!) shocked and horrified.
The Chinese adoption community has been rocked by the news that Steven Curtis Chapman’s youngest daughter was accidentally run over by one of their sons. I read the story and my heart froze; his daughter was five years old. Once again, motherhood has changed my outlook–I would have read it and sympathized before, but now I read it and the hair on the back of my neck rises because OmegaDotter is six years old and scatterbrained and I could so easily see her paying attention to something else and running right behind the car as OmegaDad pulls out of the driveway.
But not underage. At this point, 15 of the 31 "girls" who were pregnant or already mothers that Texas CPS claimed were underage have turned out to be adults.
The anonymous, hushed call that started it all? "Sarah was officially considered to be a real person until Monday, when CPS dropped her court case, acknowledging that she doesn’t actually exist. State police are now investigating the calls for help from "Sarah" as hoax phone calls, made by an adult from Colorado with a history of making false reports."
I do not condone old men using the cloak of religion to force underage girls into "spiritual" marriages with other old men. I do not condone child abuse. I do not condone sexual abuse.
But ruthlessly sweeping through the compound and separating 440 children from their families in the guise of "doing good" makes me think of the road to Hell. It’s paved with good intentions, as we all know.
Were there girls being forced into marriage and childbirth against their will? I’m sure of it.
Were all of them? I’m sure not.
Does the end–rescuing women and children from life in what seems to be a cult–justify the means? I don’t think so.
But other people seem to think so. While there is a contingent of people like me who found the entire operation a sweeping infringement on civil rights, there is also a contingent who has been saying, "If there are underage girls there who have been trapped, then it’s right." My thought is what should have been done is an examination–case by case–before any warrants were served, before any children were taken.
While I tend to think that all religions are essentially lunacy, and I regard people who live their lives circumscribed by religious beliefs with a certain amount of befuddlement, this does not mean that their civil rights are negligible, eligible to be tossed aside for the "good of the chiiilllldrunnnn".
Given also that my forays into adoption research made me aware of the inconsistent oversight of foster care from state to state, and even county to county, and the fact that many states offer what is essentially a "bounty" for children to be moved to adoption as soon as possible, and the relentless market for healthy white infants, and I am bound to cast a jaundiced eye on such a widespread sweep as this.
The good thing is that the eyes of the mainstream media are upon this case. The faults of the MSM aside, when the journalists are in full cry, the tendency for things to be hidden away, shadowed, swept under a rug will be difficult to fulfill.
I am sure that there will be some cases where the separation of the children is justified. But there was never a justification for the full-scale raid. Even if the "ends" are good, the "means" were not. If a sweep like this is done and no outcry is raised, then the next time the sweep may be aimed at…inner city welfare mothers…homeschoolers…who knows. The outcry and the subsequent examination it has provoked is a Good Thing to this observer.
I trekked off to the doc-in-the-box to get antibiotics for my sinus infection, which was feeling like someone was jabbing an ice pick up through my cheekbone. Actually, OmegaDad and I trekked off, and I got to see The Wound. It turns out that Dr. SledDog did not slash his throat; he merely used a paper punch to punch a hole in. As the helpmeet, it is my duty the next few days to take a monstrous long Q-tip, drench it in H202, and plunge it into the gaping maw of the hole, then dig around the edges. Ewww. The things we do in the name of love.
In the meantime, I’ve come across some discussions on the intertubes that have to do with intent–as in, "Well, hey, if this offends you, it’s not my fault, and I’m going to keep doing it! So there!"
Firstly, we have the tale of the tavern owner in the Atlanta area who has jinned up a T-shirt featuring Curious George eating a banana, and labeled it "Obama ‘08". The question was, is this "racist"? In the comments to Pharyngula’s write-up, an interestingly large number of folk did not "catch" it–people from Europe, young people from America, and a few folk who obviously knew it was denigrating yet sneered at the idea (mostly people who crashed Pharyngula from elsewhere, I think). Given the quotes from the guy who did it, it’s pretty obvious it wasn’t intended nicely, yet an argument arose in the comments section as to whether "paying attention" to it, recognizing the past connotations of "black person = ape", was, in fact, perpetuating the racism. And whether there really was racism intended. And whether it’s better to ignore such things or fight them.
A few people in the thread suggested that those who did not think it was racist buy it and wear it around their black friends, and see what the response was.
It’s interesting that there are honest, intelligent people who do not think it was racist; it promises hope that the "black people = apes" trope is receding into the mists of history. At the same time, it obviously hasn’t, because enough people know the coding to realize it’s offensive and wear things like this for that reason. So is it better for the trope to fade in general consciousness, but still resonate in two areas–the targets (black people) and the perpetrators (racists)? In other words, is it better that something be seen–and called out–as racist by the general public, or be glossed over, shunted aside?
Another item of "intent versus effect" is in Karen’s story of her dad’s response to her daughters names. The first is that he doesn’t like the chosen name for the new baby. The second is he makes fun of her current daughter’s Chinese middle name. Her daughter’s middle name is "Chao Xing" (chow shing), and her dad teasingly does the "ching chong" thing with it. There’s a lot wrapped up in it, specifically a "why remind her she’s Chinese?" attitude, a "you’re making too much of this" (the adoption) attitude. The problem is, it’s all too easy to slide from that to the "ching chong chinaman" song. Right now, Karen’s daughter is only a toddler…but as she grows older, this kind of thing can hurt. (Google "ching chong Rosie O’Donnell", or "ching chong Yao Ming" or "ching chong Margaret Cho" or "ching chong Helene Chung".)
The third item that caught me was posted by YouKnowWhereYouAreWith, pointing to an article in Canadian MacLean’s Magazine, about the abrupt slowdown in adoptions from China, possible reasons behind it, and the question of whether international adoption is A Good Thing or reflective of colonialism. Once again: intent versus perception. Adoptive parents aren’t looking to practice cultural genocide (and, frankly, they aren’t, because the cultures are still there, still going strong–perhaps it’s more a case of "cultural theft"?). But some folks see it that way. The question is: if adoptive parents are providing the dollar motivation for cultures to not clean up their act, aren’t they helping perpetuate the problems that provide the commodity (babies)?
Anyways, all stuff to think about. I’d write more, but that ice pick in my cheekbone is pushing a bit harder, the dotter is in bed, OmegaDad is soon to be in bed, and I’d like to go there myself.
When we adopted OmegaDotter, we had A Plan. That plan was to–as soon as possible, i.e., a year after signing on the dotted line for the dotter–apply for another adoption from China.
Well, that first year was…difficult. Having a baby in the house is life-altering, tiring, exhilarating, fun, wearing. And then I got laid off. Oops. So we decided to put it off another year. But then that next year, OmegaDad had some health issues that required all our attention. So we decided to put it off another year. Then we learned that OmegaDad’s health issues put us off the list for China, including the special needs list. So we sulked and dithered and dilly-dallied. We thought about other programs.
One of the other countries we thought about–for a very, very short while–was Vietnam. But it was never a real serious discussion. For one thing, it was much, much more expensive than China. And while our first year was chugging along, word was building that corruption was rife in Vietnam adoptions. In 2003, the U.S. put a total freeze on adoptions from Vietnam until it could be demonstrated that the adoption system had been cleaned up to the point where the U.S. Embassy could feel relatively assured that the corruption had been rooted out. In 2006, Vietnam and the U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding re-opening international adoptions from Vietnam to the U.S.
Part of the problem was that the wait for adoptions from China had drastically slowed down. And some of the thousands of potential adoptive parents who were desperate for a child began to turn to other countries for an "interim" adoption–figuring that any adoption from another country would be finalized long enough before China got around to them that they’d still fit the qualifications (a year–or was it six months?! it’s never been quite clear–between adding any new child to the family). Vietnam had a reputation for being quick, if you were willing to spend the money, so families started queuing up.
And then, in October and November 2007, families who were trying to adopt from Vietnam started getting Notices of Intent to Deny from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (or whatever its official title is these days). The NOIDs were based on suspicions or indications that something was amiss with the proposed adoptions; that the children in question were not actually abandoned, not actually the children described by the documentation, maybe the result of baby-selling, maybe the result of kidnapping. The potential parents, alas, were already in Vietnam expecting to be able to bring their babies home, and the NOIDs stopped them cold. Many decided to simply stay in Vietnam with the babies until things cleared up.
Rumors began building in the Vietnam adoption community that the U.S. would not renew the MOU when it expired, in September of this year.
A week or two ago, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi issued a "Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions in Vietnam", along with a "Warning Concerning Adoptions in Vietnam". The warning specifically states "recent field investigations have revealed incidents of serious adoption irregularities, including forged or altered documentation, mothers paid, coerced or tricked into releasing their children, and children offered for adoption without the knowledge or consent of their birth parents." The summary states that U.S. officials in Vietnam had investigated more than 300 cases over a six-month period; to give an idea of the percent of potential adoptions investigated, there were 828 adoptions from Vietnam by U.S. parents in 2007.
It seems pretty clear that this is not a witch hunt by U.S. officials. The stories in the summary make it plain that corruption and bribery are rampant in the process.
The problem is, of course, that potential adoptive parents are wildly emotionally involved. It’s practically impossible to expect potential adoptive parents to say–when confronted with an official piece of paper that claims that the baby you have been holding and cuddling and thinking of as your "own" for two weeks and that the Vietnamese courts have declared is your "own"–"Oh. You’re right. We can’t adopt this child–the evidence is too overwhelming that her birthmother was scammed out of her baby. Here. Take her back." So the adoptive families pull strings, and heartstrings, trying to get the NOIDs revoked, removed, the immigration visa approved, ogodogodletusgohomewithherplease.
I’d like to think (ahem. See my halo here? It’s nice and shiny! And I got it cheap!) that in that situation, OmegaDad and I would do what we thought was the ethical thing. It is, of course, easy for me to say; we are safe and sound and working on our dotter’s sixth year home with us, and even the rumblings of corruptionin the Chinese adoption system seem to have cranked up after her adoption. And I have already said, in the midst of another post, that at this point, if someone came forward with evidence that her birthfamily had not abandoned her, I would fight tooth and claw to keep her with us…though I would also like to think (halo, remember?) that we’d do whatever possible to make sure we could take her to China on a regular basis to visit her birthfamily.
So when a good internet bud of mine forwards a plea to call, email, write, fax senators, congresscritters, and the INS/USCIS on behalf of one of the families who has been stuck in Vietnam since last fall, facing a second NOID, I am left unsettled and disturbed. My heart breaks for the adoptive parents. My heart also breaks, though, for the birthfamily. I feel I cannot, in good conscience, do any such thing without full knowledge of the particulars of the case (and I tend to suspect, given that the word is the INS/USCIS is going to issue a second NOID, that the particulars are pretty egregious). What if it’s the case where the birthmother’s baby was withheld from her by a hospital so that she would pay the hospital bill for a premature birth? Or the one where the birthfamily, fallen on hard times, was told by an orphanage official, "Hey–leave the baby with us for a while until you get back on your feet…We’ll take care of him, and you can take him back home when you’re better off and more able to deal with it…"? Or the one where the birthmother was a young single woman who was being housed in a maternity home, and told, after the birth, "Oh, by the way, unless you can pay us back the year’s income that it cost us to house you, we’re going to have to take your baby away…"?
In the end, I am sorry to say, it still seems to come down to money.
The newsies are agog at the notion that Miley Cyrus has (gasp!) revealed herself (gasp!) in a truly artsy pic by Annie Leibowitz, and by (gasp!) a picture of her lounging against her boyfriend that (gasp!) shows her midriff (o the shock, o the horror!). Stories are written saying that she is setting foot on the primrose path to ruin that has been taken by other teen stars lately–specifically Britney and her ilk.
Our culture is totally schizophrenic. On the one hand, we’re practically drowning in pictures and videos of scantily clad females doing all sorts of things that one might expect scantily clad–or unclad–females to be doing. Licentiousness abounds. On the other, a 15-year-old has a few pics taken and suddenly Moms Of Pop Culture Unite to prostrate themselves upon their chaises longues, hands to their foreheads, having the vapors that the Queen of Pre-Teen Clean is allowing herself to be defiled. The hordes of teeny tweeny Hannah Montana fans are suddenly going to transform into an army of mini-Lolitas, and it’s All Miley’s Fault. Prudery rears its ugly head.
Kozmik All help us: 22-year-old teachers have MySpace pages. And they…and they…omigawd, how can my trembling fingers write this?? They have pictures on those pages! Pictures of (gasp!) themselves holding (gasp!) bottles of tequila! Or, even worse, paintings they have done showing women’s lingerie peeping out from under upflung skirts. Or (shudder!) paintings of frontal nudes!
And they say things! Like "rocking out with some deaf kids. It. Is. Awesome."
Or talking about bl0w j0bs.
Or showing posters about cartoon sperm.
What is wrong with these teachers?! Have they no decorum?! No reserve?! Aren’t they aware they are molding young children’s minds?! How dare they have lives of their own! How dare they have thoughts of their own!
Now, granted, each and every one of the things mentioned above could be taken too far. Let’s not show pictures of orgies featuring oneself in the buff. But in and of themselves, my opinion about the examples in the article is…well…um…hell, these are 20-something teachers.
I was party-hearty girl until I reached my early 30s. Well, not as "hearty" as some, but I went out, I drank, I partied, I danced, I stayed up all weekend long, I had hangovers, I talked sex with all my buds, I toked joints, I had sex, I listened to rock-n-roll. And if the web and blogs had been around then, I’d probably have blogged about all of the above.
It might have been drearily boring. I have to admit that my overwhelming response to most blogs or MySpace pages put out by folks in their late teens and early 20s is that they are an appallingly vacuous, inane collection of stream of consciousness gossip, in conjunction with angsty poetry. This is why, when I use the "next blog" button on Blogger, I go through about fifty blogs before I find something I would consider even vaguely interesting.
I can’t imagine Mrs. Shoetree, the dotter’s kindergarten teacher, having a webpage with a poster about cartoon sperm, or paintings of frontal nudes, or talking about "rocking out" with anyone; she is, after all, older than me, and more staid. But if she did I wouldn’t care, because she’s a damn fine kindy teacher who my dotter adores. Which is, after all this bloviating, my main point: Folks, teachers have Real Lives. Yes! I know it’s a surprise, but, hey, there it is, and it’s my pleasure to pass this piece of arcane knowledge on to you. Teachers are Real, Live Human Beings who, amazingly enough, have been known to go to parties, or fall in love, or be indiscreet.
In a refreshing departure from administrative powerhunger, some administrator actually said that webpages should be handled case by case. (What, no standardized testing?!) On the other hand, another administrator type had this to say: "We all understand the importance of living a public life above reproach…"
Dear lord. We are doomed; the only people who will go into teaching or politics twenty years from now are people who are upright, humorless prigs…
Name: OmegaMom Home:SouthwestAlaskaSouthwest About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 10-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.