There's an Episcopal/Anglican magazine called The Living Church, which I'll admit I've never read and am therefore not endorsing nor repudiating. And the article I would point you to is behind a pay wall.
However, I here present to you the most important part of September's issue.
That's our church, our choir director, and one of our most important ministries. Resurrection Players draws children (and their families) from all over the area. Tim has an amazing talent for making children, from preschool through high school, comfortable with public speaking, singing, and dancing. (He's pretty good with adults, too.) If you ever want to meet a future Broadway star in his very beginnings, getting to know the kids in Tim's plays would be a good bet.
I wish this had been available for our children; at least one of them would have absolutely eaten it up. I'll bet several of our grandchildren would love it, too. But none of the grandkids is closer than 1300 miles away, and the program did not exist when our children were young.
However, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate this opportunity for those who can take advantage of it. It's not just about theatre and performing. It's about developing skills and confidence, and getting the whole family connected with a good community.
Insist on answers to your letters in writing. "Come in and we'll talk" is never an acceptable answer.
I'm still cleaning out files, and finding gems. This one came from an article by Dale Berlin, "Tips for Parents from a Parent Who's Been There," published in NETWORK for Public Schools, Winter 1988 Vol. 13. No. 4. The author presents several tools of basic parental advocacy for ensuring that a child is not being treated unfairly in school.
Why did I choose this one to highlight? Because the "let's talk" tactic is on the rise, not only by schools but also by employers, businesses, government officials, and other authority figures. More and more people seem to be allergic to putting their words in writing. I'm dealing right now with a local government official who refuses to answer by e-mail some straightforward questions about our city's recycling practices. She'll be happy to discuss it on the phone, she says. Maybe that just means she thinks it will take less time than typing out a few sentences, or maybe she thinks she can explain the situation better orally, or maybe she wants to give an intentionally fuzzy answer (I've gotten a lot of that recently). Whatever the reason, what I want is facts, serious facts about a serious situation, and I find answers to be a lot less slippery when they're pinned down in written form.
I obviously trust our financial advisor, or we'd find another one. But he does have a significant strike against him: he doesn't like to communicate by e-mail. If we send him a question over e-mail, he will call us on the phone to answer, or if the question is complicated enough, schedule an in-person meeting. I suspect he's just more comfortable speaking than writing. I'm the opposite; f you want clarity and truth from me, ask me to write; my verbal answers are much less likely to be accurate. But I understand that some people are different.
However, in some situations it's not just a matter of preferred communication style. Words written down have been purveyors of serious meaning for millennia. Written words may no longer be literally etched in stone, but they're still more permanent than what is spoken. More importantly, you can go back and refer to the text if there is a question about what was said. There's a reason secretaries take minutes during meetings, and the court reporter's job is critical.
Printed-on-paper communications have the advantage of being on a material medium. On the other hand, e-mails have the advantage of being easily searchable, so sometimes I prefer one, sometimes the other. Texts, social media messages, WhatsApp, and the like are also text-based, and useful in their own sphere, but much more ephemeral and difficult to search, especially since there are so many platforms. Video and audio formats are orders of magnitude less searchable; how much time is wasted going back over a recording trying to find out where in the two-hour presentation the speaker mentioned something you later want to refer to? Much too much, in my case.
And often, as in the above-mentioned situations of what someone is doing with our children, or our money, oral communication doesn't leave a record at all. Long ago I read the advice that every phone call and in-person meeting should be followed up by an e-mail to the effect of, "This is what I remember of our conversation; if you don't respond to this e-mail and correct me, I will assume you agree with my summary." Great advice, but also a time-consuming pain, and I'm not good at remembering to do it.
It's true that there are benefits to spoken communication that one doesn't get when the words are in writing, especially since the time-honored art of conveying and interpreting emotional content with letters has all but died out. Emojis just don't cut it. I love a good chat among friends. Bring back campfires, family meals, and tea parties!
But if you're my child's teacher, or my financial advisor, or my employer, or my government, nothing says "I will stand by what I say" better than putting it in writing. That won't stop you from going back on your word, or being wrong, or just changing your mind, but at least it will be clear that you did.
I just learned that one of the young doctors in our family is going into the field of pediatric allergies, and I can't be happier. Brilliant as she is, I don't expect her to find all the answers to some very complex questions, but I'm thrilled that she thinks the problem worth working on.
For decades I have been wondering: What is causing the great increase over my lifetime in allergies, autism, and autoimmune disorders? Growing up, I'd never even heard of someone allergic to peanuts, and now I'll bet everyone knows at least one person who is. In my day (by which I mean not only my childhood and earlier but my children's childhood as well), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were even more of a childhood staple than chicken nuggets later became. I suspect everyone today also knows someone on the autism spectrum—a lot more than one that if you live in Silicon Valley or the Seattle area. I hear the location association often blamed on "nerds marrying nerds," and I'm sure that's a factor, but hardly the only, or even the biggest one.
Throwing the net wider now than the three A's I mentioned above, it's my impression that, despite decades of medical advances, children are in general significantly less healthy than they were when I was a child. We were, in some ways, a lucky generation. Antibiotics were new and therefore very powerful. Vaccines were vanquishing dangerous diseases like smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, and polio; tetanus was no longer routinely killing infants. (I'm one of the few people remaining who may still have a residual advantage over the general population if we ever get an outbreak of smallpox.) Improved sanitation had largely freed us from other dread ills, although in the case of polio it was a mixed blessing.
We also mostly had mothers who both were there for us day and night, and yet encouraged us to spend most of our free time playing outdoors, roaming the neighborhood, exploring the nearby woods, until dark and without sunscreen. (Yes, we did have and use sunscreen on the beach when visiting Florida, but never, as happens these days, for the hours and hours we spent outside at home.) We didn't have "devices" that encouraged us to live indoors, except for books and games, and even so we were frequently admonished to "go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine."
We had school, which was bad enough for our health, but it rarely intruded on our after-school lives. We did not have social media, and our parents were married (to each other). I didn't meet someone whose parents were divorced until I was a sophomore in high school. Our parents had a different approach to cleanliness, too. Environmental dirt was mostly considered "clean dirt"—there were no antibiotic soaps or cleaners, and if we washed our hands after using the bathroom and before meals, we were good to go. Hand sanitizer was non-existent in our lives. Face masks? They were for surgeons, not children. Catching measles, mumps, German measles (now generally known as rubella), and chicken pox was about as routine as catching a cold, except that we didn't have to stay out of school for a cold. And most of us caught them all in kindergarten despite the mild quarantine. Best "vaccination" I ever had: my rubella titre was still extremely strong after I graduated from college; for all I know, it still is.
"Artificial foods" were on the rise, but for the most part we knew where our food came from; not all, but most of our milk, fruit, and vegetables were local, fresh, and more nutritious than what our children are eating today. Sadly, I didn't grow up with access to raw milk, but our home-delivered milk was at least not homogenized. We had local stands that sold their own fresh-from-the-field fruits and vegetables, quite a contrast to the "farmers' markets" that I can shop at today, which are likely to have more craft booths and out-of-state (or country!) produce than local food. This was changing rapidly, but our food was still much more likely to have natural, beneficial microorganisms than artificial chemical preservatives. "Convenience food" was virtually non-existent, and any kind of restaurant meal very rare.
Then again, we also had very unnatural childbirthing, and doctors who actively encouraged mothers not to breastfeed, and clouds of radioactivity passing overhead, and margarine. No generation has all the advantages. The point is not so much that our childhoods were idyllic as that they were very different, and sorting out what factors might contribute to the rise in allergies, autism, and autoimmune disorders cannot be easy. "Welcome to complex systems."
Here are a few possibilities that I, as an experienced layman, think might be contributing to our children's diminished physical, mental, and emotional health:
- Nothing. The apparent increase in frequency of these afflictions is not actually real, but an artifact of the fact that we've started to pay attention to them, and perhaps changed a few definitions along the way. I used to accept that as an answer, but I'm no longer buying it. It's too much, too pervasive, and we don't dismiss other diseases just because we're paying more attention to them. There are more cancer cases showing up in part because more people are living to get cancer, instead of dying of something else earlier. And our new technologies are making us more aware of the disease at earlier stages. But that doesn't mean that there hasn't been a real increase in cancers, nor that cigarette smoking, chemical spills, bad diets, and radiation aren't significant factors in that rise.
- Greatly increased quantity, frequency, and complexity of routine vaccines. (Have we saved them from traditionally rare and/or mild childhood diseases only to saddle them with life-long disabling conditions?)
- Too little challenge to children's developing immune systems (variations on the "hygiene hypothesis").
- Breastfeeding may have made somewhat of a comeback since I was a baby—at least it's no longer routinely discouraged by doctors—but for most nursing is vastly different from the experience of past generations, which were exclusively breastfed for many months and continued to enjoy this transfer of benefits from the mother's own immune system till age two or three.
- Children are spending much less time outdoors, which by itself comprises many changes: less exercise; less exposure to sun, wind, rain, and other vagaries of nature; less interaction with wild animals and plants; less chance for independent action and exploration; less opportunity for social interaction in the form of pick-up games; less time for solitary walks and thought, for staring at the sky and watching the clouds—each of which is actually a broad spectrum of experiences which no amount of vitamin D supplement, Discovery Channel videos, organized sports, and zoo, garden, and museum visits can replicate.
- Smaller families. It's a lot easier to say, "go out and play," when you several children, and your neighbors have several children each; not only are your children almost guaranteed to find playmates, but there's safety in numbers; if someone gets hurt there will most likely be people there to help, and to run for additional help if needed. Large families also have a built-in support system—ask anyone who found his family isolated under COVID restrictions.
- Hidden environmental toxins. Certain kinds of pollution have been cleaned up beautifully since my earlier days—our air, rivers, and lakes look a lot cleaner, and we're much more careful now about heavy metals and radioactivity—but they're full of less obvious but perhaps more harmful junk, such as herbicides that have been shown to change male frogs into females. What could go wrong with that?
- Changed eating habits. Unbalanced diets, artificial colors and flavors, lack of micronutrients, excessive processing, accumulated pesticides, unhygienic conditions along the food chain, allowing children to be picky eaters, Coke for breakfast, eating on the run instead of at the family table—any number of factors could be trivial, or highly significant.
- Unstable family situations. A good family may be the best predictor of good health.
- Repeated exposure, at earlier and earlier ages, through social media, movies, television, books, video games, school, peer conversation, and even personal experience, to levels of violence, sexual content, adult acrimony, and general divisiveness—once experienced only by children in truly appalling situations, such as war zones.
- Stress levels for children at an all-time high, again excepting the rare appalling situations. What's more, many of their stressors are novel—our bodies have been training for eons to deal with periodic starvation, but being bombarded daily with tragic news from all over the world, not to mention having to decide whether one should be a boy or a girl, is not something we've been equipped to handle. This kind of stress has physical as well as mental and emotional effects.
I'm sure you can easily add to this list.
Of a few things I'm certain: (1) Our children's mental and physical health is in serious danger, (2) there is not one clear culprit in this tragic situation, but an interaction of many factors, and (3) as a society, our priorities are really screwed up.
While not denying climate change, nor the need for integrity in sports, nor our sins of the past, nor our inter-relatedness with other parts of the world, it's clear to me that we are spilling vast multitudes of ink, money, and angst on relatively distant and/or contested issues, while barely acknowledging the suffering and even death of children "right next door." There's been a remarkable improvement in prevention and treatment of adult cancers, but for decades almost none for children, probably because it isn't a research priority. We obsess over slavery from 200 years ago, but a film like Sound of Freedom, which brings to our attention the beyond-shocking world of modern-day slavery, not to mention pedophilia, child pornography, and the role of Americans in producing, facilitating, and consuming the evil, is mocked, derided, and trivialized by those with the most power and influence. (It's hard not to speculate that there might be some conflict of interest there.)
There's a place for training children to avoid the things they are dangerously allergic to, and for teaching compensatory strategies to those with autism spectrum disorders, and for developing new medications and strategies for dealing with autoimmune diseases. But it's high time we recognized that these are stopgap, third-best measures, far inferior to prevention and cure.
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It's not often we go to a movie theater. Seriously. I may have forgotten something, but I believe the last time we did so was in 2016, to see "Sully." But yesterday I couldn't resist venturing out for "Sound of Freedom."
Why? Well, for one thing, the subject—modern-day slavery and human trafficking—sounded important and serious and worth spending time on. I look at the ads for so many movies these days and they sound boring at best. For another, I unexpectedly caught an interview with Tim Ballard, the real-life hero upon whom the film is based, and then later another with Jim Caviezel, the actor who portrays him. Ballard was a Homeland Security agent who quit his job of bringing down paedophiles in order to focus on rescuing their victims. I'm generally leery of movies that are "based on a true story," because they are so often inaccurate, but over and over again, Ballard would say, "yes, that really happened," or "that's actually understated," and he obviously approves of the film. Caviezel's interview was inspiring as well.
Perhaps the largest factor driving my desire to see "Sound of Freedom" was the surprising, even virulent opposition to the movie from sources I would have expected to cheer any effort to bring light into the deep darkness of slavery, kidnapping, human trafficking, and the exploitation of children. Unfortunately, that seemed to fit into a pattern I've been observing recently, that of downplaying the very existence of modern-day slavery, and pushing the idea that sex workers especially, even children, are voluntary participants in the business. Since no sane observer of human nature and human history could possibly really believe that, I had to see what it was that had generated such fierce opposition.
The only conclusion I can come to is that either (1) evil is now, if not worse than at any point in human history, at least more generally accepted by ordinary people as normal, or (2) there are a lot of rich and powerful people who have a great interest in the sex-slave trade. Probably both.
Even suggesting that is likely to get you labelled as a "conspiracy theorist"; as the makers of "Sound of Freedom" have learned. My opinion has always been that there's no need to call conspiracy anything that can be explained by mere human stupidity, but these days I'm seriously considering making myself a t-shirt that proclaims, "The Conspiracy Theorists Were Right."
Anyway, "Sound of Freedom" has my highest recommendation. Those who are accustomed to the ultra-fast-paced movies of today might find a few scenes a bit slow, but that didn't trouble me at all. The film is rated PG-13, which is pretty mild considering the subject matter. It's a story about a very dark and evil subject, but is nonetheless filled with goodness and hope. That's hard to beat.
Go ahead, do yourself a favor. See "Sound of Freedom." I'm not sure how young an age group should see it. Definitely our three oldest grandchildren could, but for younger than that it might be too intense. Probably PG-13 isn't a bad guideline.
It's not an easy film to watch, especially for parents and grandparents, but it's a good one.
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There's a place for professionals, and a time to enjoy the excellence that can only be attained by those who have dedicated most of their lives to a skill, a craft, or a subject. But be it music or sport or cooking or thinking, there's a special place in my heart for amateurs, where the roots are.
Take music. From church choirs to Irish seisiúns, from singing in the shower to singing your baby to sleep, amateur music has heart.
Our New Hampshire family, all nine of them, recently performed at a camp they were attending. Two French horns, two clarinets, two trumpets, a trombone, and a home-made cajón with multiple percussion sounds. (The baby has a French horn mouthpiece.) The eldest French horn player arranged a medley of music from The Pirates of the Caribbean for the group.
Last year they created, for the same camp, a moving video of a Lord of the Rings medley. This time they were confident enough to tackle a live performance. (And to share both with the world via YouTube, which takes a different kind of confidence.)
Decidedly amateur (root: "one who loves"). And decidedly fun. As I hear it, the months of preparation for this event provided a great opportunity for both musical and character growth. I can imagine.
You know I'm a big fan of Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying—the folks I call my favorite Left Coast Liberals. There's a lot we disagree about, but plenty of common ground, and I admire their dogged search for truth and willingness to follow where it leads, even if that sometimes aligns them with people they were once taught to despise.
For longer than I have known of them, YouTube has been profiting off their popular DarkHorse Podcast without remunerating them in any way. That is, YouTube "demonetized" them, which means that they can no longer get revenue from the ads YouTube attaches to their posts. The ads are still there, but YouTube takes all the profit for themselves, instead of just a percentage. (Okay, I'm aware that 100% is also a percentage; you know what I mean.) It's a dirty trick, and forces content creators to tie themselves in knots trying to avoid giving YouTube an excuse to demonetize them or to shut them down altogether. In frustration and protest, many creators have left YouTube. But that's a tough way to go, as YouTube's stranglehold as a video content platform is exceedingly strong.
One alternative that has become more and more popular is Rumble, largely because it makes a point of censoring only the most egregious content (e.g. pornography, illegal behavior) while encouraging free speech and debate, including unpopular views—such as the idea that the COVID-19 virus was originally created in the Wuhan lab during U.S.-sponsored gain-of-function research. While widely accepted now, it was not long ago that expressing such an opinion on YouTube was a fast track to oblivion.
Rumble has been steadily making improvements, but it's still not as polished and easy to use as YouTube. YouTube still has a virtual monopoly, so few content creators can afford to drop it altogether. And if your content has no political, medical, or socially-unacceptable content, it's hard to find the incentive to make the effort to switch. So I won't be boycotting YouTube any time soon.
That said, I'm glad to see that while we were out of the country, DarkHorse began moving to Rumble. Apparently they will do what many other creators have done, keeping a smaller presence on YouTube, which has by far the wider reach, while enduing Rumble with additional content. Viva Frei, for example (my favorite Canadian lawyer's site), does the first half hour or so of his podcast on both YouTube and Rumble, then invites his YouTube viewers to move to Rumble for the rest of the show. How it will eventually work out for DarkHorse I don't know yet, but for the moment, their podcasts still appear on YouTube, but the question-and-answer sessions, along with some other content, are exclusive to Rumble.
In honor of DarkHorse's new venue, and to give myself a chance to learn how to embed a Rumble video here, the following is the Q&A session from Podcast #175.
Embedding the video turned out go be easy enough, but I haven't yet figured out how to specify beginning and ending times. So I'll just mention that the section from 12:47 to 31:10, where Bret and Heather deal with the subject of childhood vaccinations, is particularly profitable. It may lead some of my readers to realize how insightful they themselves were many long years ago.
Heather's brief environmental rant from 1:11:35 to 1:12:45 is also worth listening to.
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The following is excerpted from an article in the June 1980 National Geographic magazine: "Indonesia’s Orangutans: Living with the Great Orange Apes," by Biruté M. F. Galdikas, adjunct associate professor of anthropology, University of New Mexico. Her son, Binti, was born at their research camp and lived there until he was three years old.
Bin’s development during the first year helped clear up my own thinking. Up to that point most of my adult life in the forest had been orangutans and more orangutans. … After five years of living with orangutans, I had reached the point where the line between human and ape was getting somewhat blurred.
Sometimes I felt as though I were surrounded by wild, unruly children in orange suits who had not yet learned their manners. They used tools, liked to wear bits and pieces of clothing, loved to indulge in junk food and candies, were insatiably curious, wanted constant affection and attention, expressed emotions such as anger and embarrassment in a manner seemly very similar to human beings.
Further, laboratory studies that indicated apes could use sign language and were capable of complex reasoning made me wonder. I was actually beginning to doubt whether orangutans were all that different from human beings.
But Bin’s behavior in his first year highlighted the differences very clearly, and offered me a new perspective. At the same time I was hand raising Princess, a 1- to 2-year-old orangutan female. A 1-year-old orangutan merely clings to its mother (or me in this case), showing little interest in things other than to chew on them or put them on its head. For Princess the main interest in life seemed to be sustenance. This trait would continue throughout life; orangutans are extremely food oriented.
Bin, on the other hand, was not particularly food oriented; in fact, unless he was very hungry, he gave all his food to Princess. He was also fascinated by objects and implements and would watch in great concentration whenever Rod or I, or an orangutan for that matter, used one of them. He was constantly manipulating objects. Another major difference was that Bin babbled constantly, while Princess was silent except when squealing.
I found it fascinating that many of the traits associated with the emergence of humankind were already expressed in Bin’s development before the age of 1: bipedal locomotion, food sharing, tool using, speech. These differentiated him sharply from an orangutan of equivalent age. I knew from my experience … that orangutans were capable of such behavior at a later age, but it never developed as fully.
In a post from earlier this year, The Domestication of City Dwellers, Heather Heying expresses many of my doubts about the crazy new "15-minute cities" concept, along with some I hadn't thought of.
Fifteen minute cities are intended to reduce sprawl and traffic, facilitate social interactions with your neighbors, and give you your time back. If it took fifteen minutes or less to get to all the places that you need and want to go, imagine how much more possibility there could be in life.
You might well wonder how such remarkable results will be achieved. The answer is: through restricting automobile travel between neighborhoods, fining people who break the new travel restrictions, and keeping a tech-eye wide open, with surveillance cameras everywhere.
Apparently, say the promoters of fifteen minute cities, we need to promote access over mobility. In their world, the definitions are these: “Mobility is how far you can go in a given amount of time. Accessibility is how much you can get to in that time.” The same post further argues that “Mobility - speed - is merely a means to an end. The purpose of mobility is to get somewhere, to points B, C, D, and E, wherever they may be. It’s the 'getting somewhere' — the access to services and jobs — that matters.”
This is not just confusing, it’s a bait-and-switch. Speed is not the same thing as mobility. Being able to “get somewhere” is mobility. Mobility means freedom to move. This freedom has been undermined for the last three years, in many countries, under the guise of protecting public health.
Fifteen-minute cities would further restrict your freedom to move. Your ability to get anywhere will be restricted under the pretense of making it easier and faster to get everywhere that you really need or want to go.
Dr. Heying goes on to explain several of the problems with this reasoning, and the whole article is worth reading. Including the footnotes. But few of her points were the ones that immediately jumped out at me.
First of all, who decides what exactly it is that comprises "everywhere that I really need or want to go"? One dentist is just as good as any another, right? Once upon a time, one church (Catholic) was all that any town needed; who really needs churches of different Christian denominations, not to mention mosques and Hindu temples?
If there's a public school within 15 minutes of my house, certainly I don't need to send my kids to a private school that may be located outside my neighborhood? In fact, this 15-minute city idea has a strong odor of our American public school system—in which children must attend the nearest school, and parental choice in education is strongly opposed—writ large.
And how will these convenient services for "everything we need and want" be set up? Who gets to open a grocery store in which neighborhood? What if no one wants to open a store there? Will some neighborhoods have only government-run facilities? Will we have mega-stores with every variety of foodstuffs instead of family-run ethnic markets? Or maybe no stores at all, just Amazon Prime? Do we really want thousands of tiny libraries, art museums, and concert venues, each offering a tiny fraction of what is now available? Or will we be told that we should get all our culture and information online?
And worst of all: Granted, it would be wonderful if all our loved ones lived within 15 minutes of our homes. Imagine having all our friends so close, and grandchildren just down the street! But how will that be accomplished? Our friends and family are spread all over the globe. Of course I'd like them to be closer—but not at the cost of imprisoning them! Even if they were all forced to move into the same 15-minute neighborhood, how long could such a situation be sustainable? Population control on a massive and tyrannical scale?
Besides, anyone who has grown up in a small town knows not only how wonderful they are, but also how insular, parochial, and restrictive they can be. If our COVID lockdowns produced a massive increase in suicide and other mental health problems, just wait till we've lived in 15-minute cities for a generation.
And if in that one generation people have come to believe that living under such tyranny is normal and good—the only word for that is tragedy.
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I couldn't resist that subject title, because it certainly grabbed my attention as the lead-in to an excerpt from a conversation between Mary Harrington and Bret Weinstein. As I've often said before, the whole conversation (1.5 hours) is worthwhile.
In this one, you can see chapter divisions if you hover your mouse over the progress bar. (approximate starting times in parentheses)
- Feminism against progress - history (2:45)
- Disagreement over progress and liberation (9:00)
- Digital and sexual revolution (25:50)
- Sexual marketplace (43:10)
- Traditional gender roles and hypernovelty (50:10)
- Internet and silos (57:20)
- Libertarian approach to sex industry (1:00:00)
- Sex is not recreational (1:09:00)
- The patriarchy (1:17:00)
- Porn and sexual violence (1:26:45)
If I were to recommend an excerpt, I'd go from Libertarian approach to sex industry through the end.
Just two quotes for this; it's far to annoying to extract them from the audio.
At one time, children would have played a sport, and they would have been very passionate about it, and what has happened is that has been transmuted into an act of consumerism, where what you do is you support a team, or you are very avid about a particular sport that you watch on your television, and so instead of playing baseball you are consuming baseball...."
That doesn't seem related to the rest of the discussion, but they go on to tie it in with sex. I picked this one to quote because it makes an important, more general point about participation versus consumerism, and I immediately added music to the list. As one church musician told me, "In worship, of course I want the music to be excellent. But I'd rather have a little old lady plunking out notes on an out-of-tune piano than sing hymns with a professional sound track."
And here's the rest of the vegan bacon comment. Agree or disagree with the statement, you have to admit it's an unforgettable image.
Contraceptive sex is like vegan bacon; it's kind of the same, but is it any wonder that people are adding a lot of hot sauce? Because the flavor just isn't quite there.
A lot has changed in 35 years, and not all for the better.
Looking through some old journal entries, I read about a time when our five-year-old daughter spiked a fever at night.
She ran a fever last night. I don't know how high, but she was delirious [her not-uncommon response to fevers]. If it weren't so serious, it would be entertaining, listening to her describe the things she sees. Normally I would wait a few days to see what would happen, but things are so busy that I took her to the doctor, since if she were going to need an antibiotic, I wanted it started right away. But: "It's a virus, $32 please."
She can go back to school tomorrow. "Why not?" they said. "That's where she got it in the first place."
Can you imagine that scenario taking place today? Yet that's the way life was, and I think those were saner times.
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The 20th anniversary DarkHorse Podcast is full of apparently random interesting topics. If you have the time for the whole hour and 40 minute show, you can skip to about minute 11:30 to get past the ads. There is discussion of sea star wasting disease, then a very long section on telomeres and how both the New York Times (no surprise) and the New England Journal of Medicine (more concerning) recently managed to ignore critical information that was known 20 years ago.
I enjoyed those parts, but if you just start at 1:13:00 you'll get 26 minutes of really good stuff, I think. From finding truth in the words of people with whom you have serious disagreements, to the complex problem of moving forward without losing the good of what you've left behind, to why dishwashers that use less water might poison the environment by forcing the use of more and stronger detergents.
My favorite part, however, and the part I think some of our family members will appreciate, is the discussion of Elimination Communication at about 1:28:10, and the idea of the new mother's "babymoon" period just before that. (They don't use either of those terms, however.) Not that our famly will find anything new there—and it's been known for years among the homeschool/home birth/breastfeeding/raw milk/organic food/homesteading/etc. crowd. What's so interesting to me is that it shows up in this podcast, totally unexpectedly. In their naïveté about the subject, Bret and Heather get some things wrong (as their listeners were quick to point out) but they get a lot right, too, and at least they are aware of it, which most people are not.
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The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler (47North, 2016)
The Thief's Daughter by Jeff Wheeler (47North, 2016)
The King's Traitor by Jeff Wheeler (47North, 2016)
Jeff Wheeler is a prolific author with enough books to keep me going for a very long time. Due to the length of my current reading list, it will be a while before I get to any of his other fantasy worlds—unless our grandchildren start reading them. But these three were a delight. I'm very grateful to the friend who recommended Jeff Wheeler to me. Here's what she wrote about his books:
As for Fantasy, Jeff Wheeler is at the top of my search list. Though I am long past the age of the readers his books are aimed at, I thoroughly enjoy the worlds he has created, borrowing liberally from the Arthurian Legend, Shakespeare, and the Bible! Sometimes his allusions are obvious; others, I have a belated OMG moment when I realize a certain character is actually a well-known figure from our own legends of the past. I should add that through thick and thin Wheeler emphasizes the honorable behavior of his young protagonists, including chastity.
You certainly don't need to catch all his allusions (or even any of them) to enjoy the books, but they are delightful, like finding hidden Mickeys at Disney World, or Easter eggs in a computer game.
The Queen's Poisoner, the first in the Kingfountain series, was a true joy to read, probably because the protagonist is young. The second, The Thief's Daughter, was not so hard to put down because the character has grown enough to make romance—one of my least favorite genres—a significant element, but there was enough action to get me through it. Plus, the romantic element has an interesting twist. And in the final book, The King's Traitor, you get all three: interesting children, romance with surprises (but not too much), and satisfying action.
All in a world where good is good, evil is evil, and both degradation and redemption are real.
It begins early, the idea that there is only one right answer to a problem.
Here's part of a journal entry from when one of our children was in first grade:
She brought home several papers of the kind in which she had to identify beginning and ending sounds. The focus of one was a set of images, for which she was supposed to indicate whether the "p" sound came at the beginning or the end.
Next to the picture of a policeman, she had indicated that the "p" was at the end, and the the teacher had corrected it to the beginning, without further comment.
You can probably guess what comes next.
I asked our daughter what the picture was, and she replied, "cop."
What if I had not been there to assure her that her answer was perfectly correct, and to explain why the teacher thought it was wrong?
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Allow me to play devil's advocate here.
Tallahassee Classical School has made the news as far away as Australia because its principal was pressured to resign over (among other issues) an art lesson that included an image of Michelangelo's famous statue of David, which upset some children and parents. And once again, Florida, and those who objected to the photo, are being demonized because of it.
Don't get me wrong. We haven't made it to Florence yet, but you can bet David will be high on our list to see when we do. And if you're going to study classical art, you are going to run into a lot of images people could object to. Naked women, for example, are a whole lot more common than naked men. Rape, orgies, wars, graphic violence, eroticism, prejudice and "hate crimes"—it's all there, because great art reflects reality. Granted, it's far more tastefully done than what comes out of Hollywood, but still, it's there.
That said, there is SO much great classical art available, that were I teaching an art course to sixth graders, I'd probably leave that one out. Unfortunately, sixth graders are an age group that cannot be trusted to be mature about anything involving naked body parts or bodily functions. I remember how my own class of about that age reacted when a parent came into school and shared slides of his recent trip to Europe, including the famous Manneken Pis.
Unless you are choosing to be provocative, David is hardly necessary in a child's brief introduction to art.
If I had to choose one sculpture to represent Michelangelo, it would probably be his Pièta—but you can run into controversy there, too. Would people be so down on the parents if they had objected to the image for religious reasons, as some surely would have?
There's the point: different parents will find different things too objectionable to teach their young children. Which is why the school, very intelligently, had instituted the policy that parents are to be allowed to see the curriculum materials, and must be notified of anything that might be considered controversial. A blanket statement at the beginning of the course, something like the following, would have prevented a great deal of stress and misunderstanding:
This is a course in Renaissance Art, and as such will feature a great deal of Christian and Classical imagery, including religious themes, graphic violence, and unclothed people. We believe these works of art to be of sufficient importance to include them. Parents are welcome to view the materials and have their children excused from lessons they believe would be harmful.
I would hope for something similar with regard to music. You cannot study great Western music without including the music of the Christian Church; many schools no longer try, for fear of lawsuits, thus eviscerating their choral programs. Explain up front why you are including these great works, allow parents to excuse their children if they disagree—and get on with the job.
The school (on the advice of their lawyers, of course) is not giving any details about why the principal was pressured to leave. But I suspect it was less about the actual content of the class and more about violating the policy of not leaving parents in the dark.
One more point: most objections I hear against the parents who did not want their children to see the materials are mocking them for not being comfortable with pictures of naked bodies. That is, the parents are upset about something that their detractors have no problem with—which to my mind delegitimizes the objection. Everyone has something they consider out-of-bounds for being taught to their children; we should image that, instead of what we have no problem with, as the issue here.