Friday, June 29, 2007
Wow. Yesterday the Supreme Court struck down voluntary school integration programs. For good discussions about what this means, and what this will mean for our kids' foreseeable future, see Feministing, Pandagon, and Bitch Ph.D.
Here are some quotes from the dissents. Justice Stevens:
There is a cruel irony in The Chief Justice's reliance on our decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U. S. 294 (1955). The first sentence in the concluding paragraph of his opinion states: "Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin." Ante, at 40. This sentence reminds me of Anatole France's observation: "[T]he majestic equality of the la[w], forbid[s] rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread."1 The Chief Justice fails to note that it was only black schoolchildren who were so ordered; indeed, the history books do not tell stories of white children struggling to attend black schools.2 In this and other ways, The Chief Justice rewrites the history of one of this Court's most important decisions.
And Justice Breyer, with whom Justice Stevens, Justice Souter, and Justice Ginsburg join dissenting.
Finally, what of the hope and promise of Brown? For much of this Nation's history, the races remained divided. It was not long ago that people of different races drank from separate fountains, rode on separate buses, and studied in separate schools. In this Court's finest hour, Brown v. Board of Education challenged this history and helped to change it. For Brown held out a promise. It was a promise embodied in three Amendments designed to make citizens of slaves. It was the promise of true racial equality--not as a matter of fine words on paper, but as a matter of everyday life in the Nation's cities and schools. It was about the nature of a democracy that must work for all Americans. It sought one law, one Nation, one people, not simply as a matter of legal principle but in terms of how we actually live.
Not everyone welcomed this Court's decision in Brown. Three years after that decision was handed down, the Governor of Arkansas ordered state militia to block the doors of a white schoolhouse so that black children could not enter. The President of the United States dispatched the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas, and federal troops were needed to enforce a desegregation decree. See Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U. S. 1 (1958). Today, almost 50 years later, attitudes toward race in this Nation have changed dramatically. Many parents, white and black alike, want their children to attend schools with children of different races. Indeed, the very school districts that once spurned integration now strive for it. The long history of their efforts reveals the complexities and difficulties they have faced. And in light of those challenges, they have asked us not to take from their hands the instruments they have used to rid their schools of racial segregation, instruments that they believe are needed to overcome the problems of cities divided by race and poverty. The plurality would decline their modest request.
The plurality is wrong to do so. The last half-century has witnessed great strides toward racial equality, but we have not yet realized the promise of Brown. To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown. The plurality's position, I fear, would break that promise. This is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret.
I must dissent.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Thea is a very cool kid, and three and half is a great age. Her sense of humor is mostly poop and butt jokes, which frankly I find hilarious, too. She's getting pretty good at writing the T and H in her name, but the E and A are still pretty hard. It's weird, though; she writes them backward. I think it's because she seems to me to be left-handed, but the school encourages her to write right-handed. Maybe she's ambidextrous?
Her imagination is really growing. Thea loves pretending to be a horse or a dog or a cat, and always ropes Liam into her games. They have a great time playing together. Her favorite foods are pizza, chocolate milk, popcorn, and cheese. She doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, but she loves sprinkles, possibly for the aesthetic affect. Her favorite color is purple, and her favorite word is "Why?" She really wants a cat and has been trying to convince Todd that we should get one. She's afraid of dinosaurs (only in her dreams, not in books or movies), bees, and getting soap in her eyes or water in her ears when she washes her hair, and she doesn't like her food mixed up with one thing touching another.
She played with my lipstick on the way home from having dinner with the Ns. Looks good, hon!
Liam just wants my phone.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Lately I've been trying to greatly reduce the amount of new stuff we buy. Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Seriously, I think I'm a little obsessed.
At any rate, I've been spending a lot of time in thrift stores on my lunch break, which is awesome in so many ways. Not only am I usually able to find what I need (even if it takes me a couple weeks to find it), but I also find lots of wonderful things I don't need. Some I buy. Some I don't:
(This was posed by an adorable fourish-year-old girl who kept making the naked Barbies and Kens kiss.)
And speaking of my obsessions, on an e-mail list we both belong to, Sheryl wrote a great response to someone's question about the recent Thomas lead paint recall. It's another factor that makes me think about my place in our consumerist culture:
but see, we americans want cheap toys and cheap pet food and cheap goods in general. we're happy to purchase things that are cheap -- we demand it, actually -- but unfortunately, there's always a cost, whether we're perpetuating unfair or unsafe labor practices (child labor, anyone?), or looking the other way while unsafe products are created and sold.
[...] we unfortunately all get what we pay for... and often, more :(
Monday, June 25, 2007
I totally don't get Second Life, but it seems like it's suddenly all over the media. Legitimate publications, too, not just fanzines marketed toward geeks. Here's what I'm learning:
- BlogHer is holding part of their annual conference in Second Life. I have no idea how or if it will be useful at all, but of course I'm planning to go.
- The New York Times had an article on Friday about the MacArthur Foundation — which awards the "genius grant" every year — and their investment in Second Life projects. Other nonprofits and educational institutions are using Second Life in interesting ways, too: "Adventure Ecology, a British group, staged a virtual flood in Second Life to show what global warming might bring, and a psychiatry professor at the University of California, Davis, created a way for his students to experience in Second Life what a person with schizophrenic hallucinations experiences."
- The New York Times also had a great slideshow on people and their avatars, featuring a handful of Second Life avatars. ... Heh.
- Some companies, including Microsoft, Verizon, and Hewlett-Packard, are using Second Life to conduct job interviews.
- Some people are making serious cash, real money, selling virtual real estate.
- This is a lot of press being generated for a project that just went public four years ago.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Today is Heather and Amy's anniversary. Happy anniversary, guys!
Aw, don't they look happy and sweet?
Ah, this is more like it. Tough girls!
Also, happy birthday to Dash, the cutest little bundle of squishy goodness! But he's not so squishy anymore; he's turning into a right proper little boy. Go wish his mama a happy anniversary of an unintentionally natural childbirth!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Liam is perfecting his jumping technique. This morning he was jumping everywhere he went, until I got out the camera, of course. Kids, they are not the trained monkeys I'd hoped for.
Thea puts a fancy twist on the end:
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
PunditMom started an interesting discussion about the term "mommy blogger": Is it an insult, and can't we find a better word for the whole endeavor?
Part of me completely agrees with her. It's a term of derision, used to invalidate what's become an outlet for women who are fairly isolated and marginalized by motherhood. But the fact that it's used as an insult makes me want to co-opt it, to use it in a "Yeah? So?" kind of way. That's probably just me being ornery, of course. I'm like that sometimes.
<geek type="alert">I think one of the reasons the term "mommy blogger" has caught on is because of the phonetic flow of it: nicely matched, two-syllable words with double consonants in the middle. So, similarly, "mom blog" works, but "mom blogger" does not. Of PunditMom's other suggestions, I'd prefer not to have the word "maternal" associated with me until I'm in my 60s, and "mother blogger" sounds vaguely like another "mother" phrase you might yell if you banged your thumb with a hammer. For that reason alone it would have my vote to replace "mommy blogger."</geek>
There's a side issue, too, about what exactly constitutes a mommy blogger blog. I think of this blog as fitting that label, because the purpose is primarily to keep my family and friends up-to-date on what's happening with the kids. Sometimes I write about whatever is on my mind or something that I think will amuse my friends, but that's not my main reason for the blog, and I intentionally don't write about the dark, bleak things, which would present a fuller picture of my life.
However, people like PunditMom or One Weird Mother or Wrekehavoc write because, well, they're writers and they have something to say. They do mention their kids frequently, but I would say they are not "mommy bloggers," because the focus of their blogs is their writing and their lives, not just their kids, if that distinction makes sense.
Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about today, along with how weird the whole Second Life thing is. Did you know a lot of legitimate businesses are setting up shop in Second Life, and it's not just for 50-year-old men to have lesbian sex with furries anymore?
Monday, June 18, 2007
Liam has been growing so fast lately. At his last doctor's appointment, he measured 34.5 inches and 28 pounds 8 ounces. That means his length is in the 95th percentile, and his weight is between the 75th and 90th percentile. He's a big boy!
Todd thinks it's because of Liam's growth that he hasn't been sleeping well at all. Does that sentence make sense? I'm so very tired. We decided to just let him sleep with us so that we can all get some sleep, but it's hard to sleep with feet in your face. Everyone's pretty cranky in the morning these days.
Liam has such a sweet nature, despite the tough mornings. Thea and he play together all the time, and they play so nicely (most of the time). They get along great, and it's clear they love each other a lot. I think she loves having a little playmate to boss around, and he's always game for whatever she wants to do, like piling all the sofa cushions on the floor and hurling themselves off the couch.
Liam is learning more each day, saying new words and singing songs. His favorite songs are "Wheels on the Bus," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and "Amazing Grace," which I just realize last night is kind of a morbid song to sing as a lullaby. His favorite animal is the elephant, and he can make a lot of animal sounds. His favorite one is "ruff ruff!"
His favorite foods are pizza, oatmeal, cookies, frosting and cake, noodles, grapes, and avocados and guacamole. He's a great eater and will try anything you put in front of him. He loves to go outside (pronounced "ah-thigh") and run as fast as he can, and he'll only stay in his stroller if we're pushing it as fast as we can. Then he yells "Whee!" His favorite shows are Diego and Elmo, but he'll still sometimes get in the mood for Boohbah. So does Thea, and I can't blame them. It's a weird and hypnotic show.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
For Father's Day we took Todd out for breakfast at our favorite diner. We haven't been there in ages, because Liam's at that age that makes going out in public sometimes difficult.
But we brought a ton of toys and ate quickly, so it worked out just fine.
Next was the post-breakfast walk around the lake.
Thea wishes all the dads, especially hers and mine, a very happy father's day.
We had planned to go to the Visionary Art Museum later, but I have a feeling that's not going to happen.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
I took the kids to the College Park Aviation Museum today while Todd went to play music his friend Bob. I shouldn't have attempted it; Thea was in the worst mood all day, despite having a lot of fun last night with the kids of some friends who came over for dinner. I didn't think the kids had much in common before last night, but they all seemed to have a blast. This morning Thea even said with a big sigh, "I miss my friends," as if they should have spent the night.
Thea and Liam love the airplane museum. The first thing you see before going into the exhibit, though, is this animatronic Wilbur Wright. He scares the kids.
Liam almost crawled up my leg to get away from him, which is why the video is so jumpy.
Here are the kids shortly before Liam got a bloody nose from pulling a bar down on his head and Thea threw herself on the floor in a sobbing mess.
Liam was fine, by the way; moments after the blood had been wiped away for the first time, he was hiding under a plane and laughing hysterically while I pulled at his leg and tried to calm Thea. We all ended up leaving the museum in tears.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Last weekend I cleaned out the bathroom cabinets, taking out all the expired medicine, old toothbrushes, and five nose bulbs that we've somehow acquired. I went to throw everything away, but then pictured it all languishing in a landfill somewhere or floating in the ocean. So I thought I'd flush the medicine and then recycle the bottles.
But then I thought, is that even worse for the environment, to have, say, expired antibiotics in the groundwater? I asked a friend who is a water scientist of some sort what to do. Here's what she said:
The American Pharmacist Association (APhA) issued new guidelines for consumers for the disposal of medications, changing the advice of flushing expired or unused medicines, due to environmental concerns. They now suggest that the drugs be crushed or dissolved in water and mixed with kitty litter or a solid kitchen substance, placed in a sealed plastic bag and put into the trash. They also suggest removing and destroying all identifying personal information of the prescription labels, and checking for state or local programs or with area hazardous waste facilities for locations at which to deposit the disposal.
Also good to know: the Economic & Social Research Council has issued a report stating that recycling is not enough to combat the waste problem; we also need to consume less.
Recycling rates have risen, and the UK is on schedule to meet EU targets, but the key to dealing with our escalating waste problem lies in changing our buying habits and our attitudes to consumption, according to the authors of a new Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) publication.
Consumption: reducing, reusing and recycling (PDF, 522Kb), which accompanied a seminar in Belfast organised jointly with the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland, says that the benefits of recycling risk being undermined by the sheer quantity of waste being generated. If household waste output continues to rise by three per cent a year, the cost to the economy will be £3.2 billion and the amount of harmful methane emissions will double by 2020.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I think our country needs a better education system.
From the latest Gallup Poll: "The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain."
Isn't that a little like saying you don't believe in gravity or outer space?
Via Pam's House Blend.
Somewhat relatedly, I went home for lunch today and caught a couple minutes of Family Feud, a guilty pleasure. One of the questions was "Name people who have made the world a better place with their ideas" or somesuch. I'm yelling at the TV "Edison! Marie Curie! The guy who cured polio!" Nope, the answers were MLK, Oprah, Bill Clinton, Ben Franklin, and Jesus (in that order), and the incorrect guesses included Mother Theresa and George Washington.
Okay, the people on that list are indeed great people. But most left the world a better place because of their IDEALS, or morals or goals or actions or strength of character, not their ideas. I suppose you could say Oprah's idea of a daytime talk show improved the world, and, sure, Bill Clinton's idea of a collective of big-brains working to end world famine is a great idea. But I doubt this is what the responders were thinking about.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Check out these biodegradable plastics. Cool! When I first heard about this a year ago, you couldn't get spudware in this country. Now it looks like a wide range of products is available.
... Would it be awful to get everyone biodegradable plastic for Christmas?
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
Liam playing "Stop and Go" in the park a couple weekends ago:
Lila and Thea singing "Happy Birthday to Sue" about a year ago. The quality is awful, I know. It was almost bedtime — probably past bedtime, really — and they were probably watching Dora. But still, so cute:
And I don't know why this cracks me up so much, but I laugh every time I watch it:
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I think AJS was on to something when he said wine with French names tend to be better than wine with monkeys on the label. This 2005 La Bergerie Viognier Sainte-Croix from Trader Joe's was only $3.99, but was rather nice. Not too sweet or acidic, and kind of pear-y and floral.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
There's a lovely photo essay on Time.com, "What the World Eats." Great photos, and very interesting. This is probably not too far from how my family eats:
(I see that now and think, Oi, look at all that plastic.)
But this is closer to what I aspire to:
And this just makes me feel ashamed:
(Via Accidental Hedonist.)
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
What would Al do? He'd turn off that light. He'd buy a hybrid car. He'd recycle. And he'd avoid buying plastic whenever possible.
Check out "Plastic Ocean" (found via Molly-o, who provides a handy bulleted list of action points and who is also seriously freaked out). It's a rather shocking article about the long-term costs of plastics in terms of debris and toxicity, to the planet and to ourselves.
I thought about this as I ate lunch. I looked at the straw in my soda and thought, This will be on the planet longer than I or my children or my grandchildren. That is a truly scary thought.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Liam was able to keep the second type of antibiotics down and has been feeling a lot better. He spent much of today perfecting his jumping technique.
I think he was already feeling better yesterday. Shortly after the first dose of antibiotics, I found him and Thea gleefully stirring my hairbrush in the toilet. I was torn between laughing (good one, kids!) and scolding them appropriately.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Both kids have strep throat. Liam has been throwing up, too, and can't keep the medicine down. Poor kid. We'll try a different antibiotic as soon as the doctor can call it in. If he can't keep that down, either, it means a shot for Liam.
Otherwise, though, the kids feel pretty good. I helped Thea get into her bathing suit to play in the yard with the hose and the dog yesterday. She's so active you'd have a hard time guessing she's sick.