Hosting Highlights Week One

Our guest from the Dominican Republic is teaching us as much as we’re teaching her. Today, after telling me how underwhelmed she is by not recognizing any of the food and not liking what she’s tried, she told me she’ll miss our country.

I asked her why, since she’s only been here a week, she would miss the vastly different culture.

“Because it’s comfortable,” she said. “Is that the right word?”

I tried to hide my surprise, since she seems decidedly uncomfortable with our 50 degree mornings and bouillon-free cooking. I asked her what she found comfortable about Berkeley.

“Because people here follow the rules. When I walk on the street I’m not worried about motorcycles driving over me or cars accelerating to hit me if I try to cross the street. Here I can walk and enjoy and look.”

That’s a pretty big cultural difference. I don’t even know what to do with that, really, except let it wash over me. Taking for granted being safe on the sidewalk (though I don’t, actually, since I lived in Santa Monica when the farmer’s market accident happened and since a friend was hit by a car right in front of the school as he picked his kids up for the day) is a rather large reason we are, in fact, comfortable here.

Rosí also told me she thinks it’s funny that my husband handles the laundry and most of the dishes. I asked what she meant.

“In my country, men do not clean. That is the woman’s job. Not very many men help.”

I told her something that might be common here, but is certainly foreign to her. “But I don’t think what he’s doing is helping. The house is not my job. It’s the whole family’s job. Everyone who lives here needs clean clothes and dishes and good food.”

To my surprise, she agreed. “This is exactly how I feel!” Well, then. I guess I only have to work on the whole grain bread and you’ll be as Berkeley as anyone else.

There are less heady matters, too. She taught me the Spanish for peanut butter. I taught her the curbside  difference between reuse and recycle. And that it’s “a few minutes” or “a little while” not “a light minute.”

We’ve taken Rosí hiking and berry picking, to a museum and several grocery stores. And long the way we’re polishing her English a bit.

She told me that she needs to eat more to gain weight. She says that she’s unhappy being thin, but that her whole family has this problem. In fact, “The fattest person in my family is my mother. She’s about as fat as you.”

Um, we need to work on the phrasing a bit. But as long as we’re being honest…

We’ll see as the weeks wear on whether I’m willing to ask her questions that puzzle me. For example, each time she meets a man in my life, she asks if he is in the military. There have been five different men about whom she asks about military status. I don’t understand this. Perhaps she came into this arrangement thinking that some man I know is in the military; or maybe she thinks a high percentage of American men are military personnel? I feel as though I should walk her to the Navy recruiting office and introduce her to a petty officer or two. Just to be able to answer “yes, he’s in the military. And so is she. Because women here do that, too.”

Plan B

Hold the phone.

After promising that science would “inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health,” President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services has overriden an FDA recommendation to allow over the counter sales of Plan-B, an emergency contraceptive quick access to which is necessary for efficacy.

Since when did we decide that setting a precedent of overruling the FDA was a good idea? Is that a power you want future Presidents to have, Secretary Sebelius and President Obama? Because believe me, the next Republican President will gladly take your idea and apply it to every FDA recommendation he doesn’t agree with. (Yes, I assume the next Republican President will be male, even if they don’t take the White House for 12 years. That was not a casual lack of gender awareness; that was an intentional choice of gendered pronoun.) Science and math are not something one can disagree with. To paraphrase Ira Flatow today on Talk of the Nation, “Pythagorean Theorum? I don’t believe it. It’s only a theory.”

Since when does politics get to trump science? Didn’t you state as a goal, President Obama, that you wanted:

“To ensure that in this new Administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisers based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That is how we will harness the power of science to achieve our goals — to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives.”

And didn’t you say this:

Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health…. The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions.

Sir, you are going to pay for this politically. Severely. You just ruined your relationship with liberal voters and women voters. Really, really dumb move.

Since when does the government get to tell women that they have to wait for the right pharmacist at the right pharmacy at the right time, else be forced to have an abortion? 72 hours is a tight window if you live in a small town and have to find a willing pharmacist during pharmacy hours when the people you can’t trust aren’t watching (for instance the husband who will beat you if he finds out, or the parents who will throw you out if they hear about your need for emergency contraception).

Hillary Clinton said that she believes “in the freedom of women to make their own decisions about the most personal and significant matters affecting their lives.” Once the FDA said Plan B should be sold over the counter, Secretary Clinton fought for three years to implement that recommendation.

Well, I hope she’s reading Obama the riot act tonight. I hope Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Obama are right this minute telling that man how reprehensible it is to let politics dictate science.

Politics, by the way, that the OTHER SIDE hold dear.

Your supporters, President Obama, DO NOT SUPPORT YOU IN THIS.

Holiday Gift Abuses

I just posted a link to Jonathan Liu’s phenomenal list of the best toys of all time that included a stick, a box, string, and dirt.

Then someone on that Twitter thing showed me this and I was undone.

Seems these days girls don’t have to get their science in the kitchen. Science for girls is now…in the bathroom. Baking is so 1950s. In 2012 we exfoliate.

How long will it take before girls get their science in the lab, like the so-called boys’ science kits offer?

Science kits are great gifts, even though almost all science can be done with regular household ingredients and a grownup who can read. But apparently girls can’t be interested in science unless it’s Barbied. And they can’t forget what’s important: being “pretty.” Ugh. Read Peggy Orenstein’s post on these horrifying “spa science” and mani/pedi appeals to girls that seek to either trick them into doing that abhorrent-and-boyish-activity known as science or dumb it down enough that “even girls” can find it fun.

Yuck. Hope any child in your life interested in science gets the chemistry and physics set, not the one branded for their early objectification.

Come on Barbie, let’s go party!

We at Naptime are doing our best to raise two feminists. Our boys know that grownups do dishes, laundry, sewing, construction, parenting, policing, fire fighting, paying, cooking, driving, and fixing. Both know men with ponytails, boys who wear pink, girls who like mud and bugs…any gender stereotype our society fosters, we fight. Hard.

And one pervasive social pressure I’ve been working to eliminate since I was pregnant with Peanut (honestly, because I thought he was a girl and didn’t want her buying into “should”s) is the oppressive body image issues that American women, especially, are saddled with. I don’t talk about body size or dissatisfaction.

Peanut pointed to my belly about a month ago and proclaimed that I was probably going to have another baby because my uterus was making my tummy pretty big. I shuttered slightly, then smiled and explained casually that after a baby sometimes it takes a while for tummies to get small again, and that sometimes they never do.

He also came home from year two of preschool and asked what “fat” meant because they heard a story at school where fat didn’t seem to mean part of the fat/protein/carbohydrate triad.

I think it’s important that my boys grow up to be men who see people for who they are and what they do, not what they look like or how they can be labeled.

Well, my chickens came home to roost on a run today. I was pushing ButterBaby in a jogging stroller, and Spouse was behind me, pushing Peanut. Halfway up a moderate hill I hear, “Mommy, it looks like two monsters bonking each other. But it’s just your bottom.”

I laughed. Hard. For about half a mile. He seemed pleased.

Look, I have at least double the rear end I did before gestating two kids. But I don’t know what it looks like from behind. Running. And my self worth is not wrapped up in how my almost-five-year-old describes my ass. Maybe it does look like monsters. I asked him later how the monsters were bonking each other. On the head? Side to side? “Of course not,” he answered. “They were bonking each other on the mouth.”

Honestly, that baffled me a bit. But I went with it. It’s his story, not mine.

Because what I realized pretty quickly, is: this is not about me. This is about Peanut’s storytelling skills. He often spins interesting yarns and interrupts himself halfway through to say, “This is only in my imagination.” He gets the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. And is his version, my bottom is two monsters. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say when he gives them voices.

1950s rap

Toyota has a viral youtube campaign for their minivan that they think is ever so clever.

I think it’s painfully backward.

In the lengthy ads, a very white middle class heterosexual family expounds on how cool they are in their minivan, which Dad has dubbed the Swagger Wagon. In the most recent ad, the family sings a rap about said vehicle.

How delightful, no?


In the song, Dad boasts how he participates and subverts gender stereotypes by having tea parties with his daughter and her dolls. Mom sings about how facile she is with jello and cupcakes, how she tends the kids’ wounds. While Dad mugs and poses in the van, Mom handles the lunch, the school play, and the song’s bridge—a potty break for their eldest.

Is this rap written for a 1950s audience? (The black and white images are a clue.) Why is Dad helping only with the tea party and nothing else? Why is Mom defined by her baking skills, her cheerleading costume, and her self definition as a former “college chick”?

One of the most difficult transitions for progressive couples who become parents is the reality of how even 50/50 marriages become 90/10 marriages when kids are thrown into the mix. The sheer volume of work mothers do, and the fact that it tends to be time sensitive, repetitive work (meals, tidying, errands, school) contrasts with the paucity of work inside the home most fathers do (and the fact that it tends to be ‘get to it when you can’ weekend, one-time, big project work). And the new division of labor causes marital strife.

Is that what you celebrate in your silly minivan ads? That families can fight in the front seat while the wee ones sit with headphones and DVD players in the back, oblivious to the real work of being a family…the day to day bickering over details, like the fact that I’ll be damned if I’m ever defined by how my baked goods perform at the school bake sale or refer to any of the years I busted my ass in higher ed as the days when I was a college chick.

Thanks for the stereotypes, Toyota. Sure makes me think less about your cars driving unintentionally into oncoming traffic.

Awesome children’s books

After reading this AP story on gender-biased children’s stories, and after hearing a compelling feminist reading of the Berenstein Bears books at the Southwestern Popular Culture Association conference a few months ago, I’ve redoubled my efforts to find rocking children’s books. (I’ve already posted about how, in our house Ming Lo’s wife has a name, not just “Ming Lo’s wife” and dads appear in stories that are only written about child and mum.)

One new title in our library, after hearing friends’ laments about princess bullshit and distress over the Barbie dilemma, is The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. The short version? Princess rescues the prince, and when he criticizes the paper bag she had to wear to get there, she heads into the sunset without him.

Between thid princess and finishing Flux, which reminded me that, though Spouse and I negotiated roles before  getting married and before having Peanut, we need to revisit the discussion to readjust the “default” setting of mom doing everything related to anything. So I’m going to hand off all the domestic duties to Spouse (haven’t told him that yet) because I’m trying to raise a feminist, and that can only happen if I do more of my freelance work and less housekeeping. (You may TOTALLY borrow that justification for yourself. It’s genuinely why I’m slacking on housework [starting now; before this I was trying desperately to do a decent job because of social expectations] but intentional transition of work avoids being shirking and will teach the whole family a lesson *only* if Spouse actually picks up the slack.  Otherwise we just become a penicillin experminent gone awry. I’ll keep you posted.)

Dire consequences and desperate measures

A discussion last weekend at the playground with a creative, lovely, and wicked smart lady yielded the following observation: we’re all desperate to protect and justify our choices. After reading Peggy Orenstein’s Flux and The Atlantic Monthly’s article “The Case Against Breast-feeding,” the glaring truth to me is not that one side of each debate is right or that each side despises the other’s choices, but that we each have a lot at stake in making sure our decisions were at least good, if not the best.

Breast or bottle, nighttime parenting or cry-it-out, stay at home or work and daycare—we all have the same secret fears that the choice we are making is costing us more than it should. Hanna Rosin’s “The Case Against Breastfeeding” really isn’t a case against breastfeeding. It’s a case against the all-or-nothing mentality that has parents segregating into those who chose wisely and those who are ruining their children. And the root of our belief in our own choices and our disdain for any different points of view is the hope that we’re doing what’s best for our families. And if we’ve chosen incorrectly, we risk not only breaking our children, but also having lost all the effort we poured into our choice. Rosin is not arguing that women should not breastfeed. After nursing three children, she’s simply wondering why she felt that was the only choice, why the pedants on each side of the debate swear the others have lost their minds (or feminism or chance at a healthy child). Why the black-and-white thinking? Because we’ve all gone through a lot (a lot a lot a lot) of trouble to do what we’re doing, so it had better be right.

I postponed (at least0 or gave up (at worst) two outstanding careers, one potential career, and a path toward a PhD to stay at home with my son because I thought, given my endless research that confirmed nothing except that I’d eventually have to make a choice, that staying home was most likely to give him what he needed to grow into a delightfully useful member of society. If I’m wrong, and I should have focused more of my daylight hours on myself and my career, then maybe I’ve wasted these years and he will blame his miseries and failures on me. Or, even worse, I will be an empty shell of a person, having subjugated my only self for a person who becomes a serial killer and about whom the history books will only write that I ruined his life and sense of what the world should be and that he stabbed his neighbors.

Conversely, the women I know who work outside the home, who decided that they needed to create a family in which each person’s work is vital, in which attentive, loving care can come from a paid helper as long as it’s consistent and supportive (they hope) made their decision to give their children what they needed to grow into a delightfully useful members of society. If they are wrong, and they should have focused more of their daylight hours on their children, then maybe they’ve missed the most important years, and their children will blame their miseries and failures on parents who worked their children into the margins of their lives. Or, even worse, these parents will be bitter, unfulfilled shells of people, having chosen empty pursuits and subjugated their children’s needs, resulting in a generation who become a serial killers and about whom the history books will only write that their mothers ruined their lives and sense of what the world should be. And that they stabbed their neighbors.

Wait a minute, that’s exactly the same outcome as the other moms! We’re all screwed!

Or we’ll all just fine.

But nobody is going around saying, “I hope I made the right decision so that my children don’t stab their neighbors.” (At least in my neighborhood. But I lead a sheltered life. Maybe your neighbors say it. Maybe about your kids. Wait, which choices did you make? Quick, tell me, so I can judge you.) Instead, we secretly hope that we made the right decision, missing a large chunk of our children’s or our adult selves, counting each mistake, tallying each proud and loving moment, and hoping it’s all enough.

Ah crap, I didn’t nurse long enough. My child will be obese, stupid, and chronically ill.
Ah, crap, I nursed at the exclusion of my own sanity. My every waking moment has been for someone who really didn’t get that much from it.

Ah, crap, I let my child cry it out and now she’ll have insomnia and a sense of abandonment as an adult.
Ah, crap, I lost years of sleep attending to my child at night and now they’ll get to college and cry for me in the dorm every night.

And so on, ad nauseum.

Because if we made the wrong decision, we’ve screwed not only ourselves, but our children, as well.

So we disdain the people who make decisions different than our own, and align ourselves with likeminded people because we need to know that others feel our pain and share our justifications; because, deep down, we suspect it might be okay no matter what we do. And all things being equal, we might like a do-over. Or a medal. Or both.

Flux and another book on the choices of motherhood

I’m most of the way through Flux by Peggy Orenstein, and I have to say, I dig it. And not just because she reiterates in a sentence what I posted months ago: “Ambivalence may be the only sane response to motherhood at this juncture in history, to the schism it creates in women’s lives.” I’m not quite done reading Flux, but I’m struck by the sharp contrast it offers to another book I just read.

In the first chapters of I Was a Really Good Mom before I Had Kids I empathized, felt validated, and could chew on other moms’ struggles as I read. Then came the final chapter. I’m willing to put a small amount of money on my theory that some editor, probably a man, told the authors that they couldn’t just write a book of commiseration for moms, of how tough it can feel sometimes; and that this probably-man told them that they needed to solve the perceived problem, not just relate it. “Give those moms some perspective. Fix what looks like ambivalence,” because heavens knows we can’t be ambivalent about parenting in this culture. And that imaginary editor in my totally unsupported theory ruined their otherwise fine book because the final chapter, in its insistence that a new outlook will make all the pain and self-effacing bullshit of parenting go away erodes the rest of the book’s power. Some advertising guru undoubtedly said, “you can’t sell the headache and you can’t sell the aspirin. You have to sell the great things people can do after they take the aspirin.” Well, the book only worked for me when it described the headache, thank you very much. So go ahead and read it, but stop before the final chapter.

Both IWARGMBIHK (before it’s given a shiny new pair of rose-colored glasses) and Flux (when it gets to the motherhood choices section) articulate what my friends and I have all been saying, “A day doesn’t seem that long when you are working,” says a stay at home father in Flux. “But, boy it’s a long time when it’s just you and this kid that doesn’t speak, and she is always wanting your attention. And when she’s asleep, then there are all these things that have to be done before she wakes up. There’s absolutely nothing I have ever experienced that was always bearing down like that. Nothing even close.” I’ve said before that 114 hour weeks at McKinsey paled in comparison to the energy and stamina needed to stay at home full time, without help, with a young child.

In Flux, Orenstein, allows women to wedge uncomfortably in the cracks between rock and hard place without trying to fix them. Where women find they genuinely can’t have it all, and have to decide between power and childrearing, have to sacrifice something, either kid or self, to exist in our society, Orenstein lets them twist and narrates their ambivalence. Like IWaRGMbIHK, Flux focuses on educated, middle class women, and their problems are small when compared with the realities of moms working three jobs or facing life in which they are virtually powerless—abused and silenced because of their chromosomes. But no matter how high up Maslow’s Pyramid you rise, the problems still feel big. Existential crises are important, even if they aren’t on par with dissentary sans clean water.

Orenstein lays bare, if not raw, the choices career women, single mothers by choice, and women who sacrifice career for children make, and does not shy away from showing that choices in adolescence and young adulthood tend to push women into lower paying, less demanding careers and lead everyone involved to assume that caretaking is a role for the XXs. She puts a voice to the mental vascillations between career and home:

“Now is the time your career will take off…but don’t forget to find a husband. Hurry, have a child, the clock is ticking—but what do you mean, you’re going to become a single mom or need more time at home? Don’t lose yourself in your children or you’ll never find a way back—but if you work too much you’ll ruin them. If you have a daughter what will she say about your trade-offs? Remember how you felt about your mom? What’s wrong with you anyway? Weren’t you supposed to be able to do anything?” (97).

She also notes that stay at home dads, too, say things like we here at this blog have: “Staying at home with [an infant] was really tedious….I was surprised by the constantness of it, the lack of breaks that we so much take for granted in life. By midafternoon my entire mental focus would be on how long until [his wife] would get home.” Women in Orenstein’s text who express this quickly dismiss their own feelings, waving off the frustration with “I’m just feeling sorry for myself.” But the  stay at home dad acknowledges his frustrations are why he asked his wife to stay at home so he could return to work.

I like Orenstein’s insistence that we should demand more of men than simply that they father better than their fathers did; that we demand all parents think like mothers and at least discuss, if not share, the sacrifices equally. Many a squabble in the Naptime household stems from the “why am I the only one who thinks of this” disparity that Orenstein notes in all relationships.

She does gloss over other important sacrifices women make for either career or family. She articulates a difference between being a mother and being a Mother. But she doesn’t explore, really, the shades of grey that color each definition. Overall, though, she makes a compelling case that no matter what you choose, it will feel pretty ugly at times, for huge, painful, sacrificial compromise is the only constant in all her case studies. And her questions about whether it all can’t work out for the best in the end, quite frankly, make it clear she doesn’t have children. Because even sociologists who watch and watch and watch still don’t maintain the never-wavering focus of 24 hour motherhood. We’ll see what she writes if she does have a baby. Until then, she has a pretty good book in Flux.

And her best quotes:

“There is a chasm between the abstract idea of having kids and the three-dimensional reality of what it means to mother.”

Something of worth

If you take some time to focus on the present, to take every day as it comes and honor each moment, rather than looking back at the demons chasing you, they will catch you and claw their way up your back and slow your progress to a crawl as they cling to your neck and head.

So go ahead and run from them, and glance back every now and then to make sure they’re not gaining on you. Because if you focus on the present, tomorrow will absolutely suck, in terms of psychic pain and gouged eyeballs and whatnot.

This sunshine-y moment of zen (which came from realizing I’m made to be an aggressive, constant-list-of-projects, hard-on-myself-if-they’re-not-all-done kind of gal rather than a cheerful, live-each-moment-to-the-fullest type), is brought to you by a perfect storm of personality, internalized social expectations, perfectionism, shitty economy, massive errors in judgment, self-absorption, and the lies we’ve  all been told about having it all. With whipped cream and a three-year-old on top.

You know it’s been a long day

…when you just can’t find the right adult beverage to complement the girl scout cookies your neighbor dropped off right before dinner.

Samoas and… red wine? Samoas and pina colada? Who the hell whips up a pina colada after their kid goes to bed, just to go with cookies? Fine. Where’s the blender?

Tagalogs with…Jack and Coke? I thought Jack and Coke went with everything (well, everything except flax and soy yogurt).  Nope. Tagalogs and champagne? Doesn’t that scream lonely housewife in Connecticut, though? (please say no please say no please say no)

Thin mints and…Kahlua coffee? Vodka Rooiboos? Hot buttered…why do people put butter in their liquor? [I know it’ll get me blog hate mail, but I’m not a thin mint gal. Don’t like ’em. Don’t really like any of the girl scout cookies, laden with toxic nonsense as they are, but, what could be wrong with charity donations for organizations that intentionally excludes members based on  gender and sells baked goods as a symbolic early entry into gender-prescribed home making roles? Sure, sure. I hear you. But there’s coconut in them…]

The only Girl Scout baked goodthat has clear pairings is the shortbread thing, and I just can’t bear to buy shortbread. It’s like asking someone to come by and pour melted butter all over your popcorn “in case” you need it.

CNN thinks it’s groovy to leave a job for another job, but not to parent.

So this article beatifies those who leave a lucrative career to follow their gut. The people profiled left jobs with great benefits for…other jobs.

There is no mention of the hundreds of thousands of women leaving really good jobs to make a difference in their children’s lives. Those, for instance, who leave simulating and lucrative careers in advertising to be more useful to society as the parent of a decent human being. Or the child-free idealists who leave corporate america to teach or be a voice for the voiceless.

Apparently, leaving because your gut tells you to raise your own kid or save the world doesn’t count as news. Way to show your priorities, Turner Corporate.

What about the issues?

So the blogoshere and FoxNewsForRepublicans are abuzz with silliness about Sarah Palin’s Newsweek cover. Some are upset that she wasn’t airbrushed to within an inch of recognizability. Um…two things. First, airbrushing the humanity out of women’s faces is part of the problem with the way we, in this country, judge a woman first by her exterior and almost never by her ideas. Second, other persons of political importance have had exactly the same angle and zoom, and have looked just as flawless as she does, and nobody made a stink. How sexist that FoxNews thinks this cover is nasty, just because she’s a woman and presumably valuable for her looks. The cover pictures her face, and we’re not obligated to beautify it–every human face is beautiful the way it is. Sarah Palin’s face on this cover lovely and it’s not the point, because her politics are the point. Get over the fact that we should white glove her but manhandle the three other major political figures of the American presidential race. She gets the same treatment–respectful, full frontal magnifying glass. Airbrushing is reprehensible enough for fashion models and celebrities. She’s not in this game for her face. She’s in this game for her mind. Can we finally have a picture of that, please?

(Wouldn’t that be awesome? Have medical science design a way to measure a person’s intelligence, fairness, logic, goodness, and fundamental worthiness? Then election and marriage and hiring and friendship decisions would be much easier.)

Here’s a blog about the zoom-y cover nonsense. The first response, about a plastic surgeon judging her face is positively offensive. When are we allowed to look like ourselves? Baby photos are Photoshopped for magazines, toddlers are tarted up in full makeup for Little Miss Pedophile contests, teens are mocked for their appearance, and the rest of the country carves themselves to get self esteem.

On a similar note, I was searching the phrase “Sarah Palin is a hater” because after seeing a few clips of her speeches I marvel at how toxic and acerbic her tone is. “Who is the real Barack Obama?” Ah, excuse, me, Madam Governor, but isn’t that the pot calling the kettle an outsider? If his daughter or Joe Biden’s daughter was pregnant we’d be having a different election. If his religion or Joe Biden’s religion was as extreme, we’d be having a different election. If he or Joe Biden had been found by a bipartisan committee to have abused power, we would have a different election. Barack Obama has given hundreds, nay thousands, of interviews. And he has several flaws. But we know about them. Who is the real Barack Obama? Who is the real Sarah Pain? She can’t even name what media she relies upon for her information, let alone give a clear answer (I’m not going to answer that , and will instead answer the question I prepared…I read everything put in front of me…I’ll get back to you on that…it doesn’t matter what I believe about global warming, we just need to fix it). Obama’s Christian pastor said some really eye opening things, and Obama left his Christian church. (Had to repeat that qualifer because there are still people who think he’s Muslim. Not that I would care. Religion or not, I care how people think, not which brand of god they buy.) Palin’s pastor has said some really eye opening things and nobody calls her on it. Seriously, people. When is the superficial lovefest about this woman going to end, and when do we get to hear what she really believes? After the election? She doesn’t believe in global warming or evolution or birth control or government oversight, (until just recently, when it became clear that unbridled capitalism really kind of sucks for the innocent). She believes The Lord is at work in things like gas pipelines and wars (take a look at this article). She believes that rape and incest victims should be forced to have the children conceived in those violent acts, and she believes her daughter is the only one who should get to choose what to do with her own body.

Anyway, I found this blog, which led me to this New Yorker article. Funny, I guess, if it weren’t so scary.

Makes me want to go back to teaching critical thinking, because a good percentage of this country needs some of that skill.

(Speaking of, I heard a fantastic program on NPR yesterday that included a lengthy discussion of Harlem’s efforts to lift children out of the cycle of poverty. An interesting bit, early on in This American Life‘s piece, noted that job training and welfare programs are failing because some Americans aren’t missing one skill, something teachable that, once fixed, will enable them to work. They’re missing dozens of skils, including motivation, financial knowledge, and basic critical thinking. If we give kids positive, enriching environments that teach them to think broadly about problems, we create a future of universal success. Critical thinking might also help us end the cycle of getting the government we deserve, because we might, collectively, vote in our best interests, not in our narrowest interests.)