To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy 21st, F.
Here is an article inviting Memphians to remember where they were and what happened 40 years ago when MLK was assassinated. There are more than 90 comments. It's fascinating to read how people's observations agree and disagree.

I have two rules about discussing racial matters. One is that no one is allowed to read someone else's mind, i.e., assume wrong attitudes and opinions in people he or she doesn't like. The other is that no one is allowed to tell anyone that he didn't see what he saw, hear what he heard, experience what he experienced, etc. Usually the second rule applies to white people who try to tell black people that they are imagining the effects of racism and discrimination - NOT that they are imagining other people's attitudes, because they very well may be, but actual experiences that they have had. But both of those rules cut both ways, really. So in this comment thread you see people saying "I saw X" and other people saying "I doubt X really happened". Did X happen or not? I wonder if it's possible to know, now.

The stories of police brutality are upsetting. I offer this story from Saturday about a black woman and a white policeman as a very uplifting antidote. Some people say nothing has changed in 40 years. Not true.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:21-22)

The music is Handel, of course.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down
Beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free
I’ll sing and joyful be,
And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And through eternity I’ll sing on.

Monday, March 17, 2008

F and her roommate are here for spring break. We went to the Bok Sanctuary yesterday and they've seen the pretty lake downtown with all the birds but apart from that we haven't done much yet. I don't know if they are all that interested in going to the beach but I will feel bad if we don't go.

We had an appointment for F this morning, with a neurologist, to continue to work with her migraines. We're increasing Nadolol, which I wanted to do, and he talked to her about timing with taking Zomig. And somehow we had a lengthy conversation about ... atoms. Atomic weight v. atomic number. Weight v. mass. Avogadro's number. He is reading a book about Rutherford and had forgotten his freshman chemistry so he was happy to have his questions answered. Really, I am such a nerd. I feel sorry for F, to have a nerd mother.

How did I get to be such a nerd? you ask. Well, when I was a girl my dad and I both enjoyed science fiction. (Still do.) The two of us had that in common, and since there was no bookstore in the town where I grew up he often took me to the bookstore in Tupelo and gave me some money so I could get the latest Bradbury or Asimov or Heinlein or whatever there was.

One day there wasn't anything on the science fiction rack that I didn't already have or that looked halfway decent. There was a rack of nonfiction next to it and I moved over to look at that. I found a book, a collection of articles by one of my fav writers - Asimov - about actual science and math. Possibly it was Science, Numbers, and I. In desperation I bought it and took it home.

And this opened up a whole new world for me. This stuff was real. Asimov produced several of these books and I bought them all, and read them until they were broken-spined. When I got into high school I enjoyed my chemistry and physics classes. Had a great teacher. But I already knew a lot of that stuff because of those books.

When F started high school chemistry, she sighed, "I don't get orbitals."

"What's not to get?" I said.

I pulled the book over and started reading. The first chapter was written very dryly and raced through important information way too quickly. But I remembered that I already knew about orbitals when I took chemistry in high school, so I don't know how her book would have compared to mine. I had to take a short trip down memory lane to remember how Asimov explained them, and when I did, I flipped the book around and found the periodic table and explained them to her using that. First, of course, we talked about what the atomic number is (it's the number of protons) and where you find that on the periodic table; and then we talked about charge, and started building the 1S orbital; and we talked about spin, and why hydrogen wants to lose an electron, thus forming a positive ion, while H2 is a very stable molecule; why helium doesn't need or want to bond with anything (it is a rock, it is an island) and so on from there. Orbitals make a lot more sense when you can correlate them to how they make the atoms act. So we marched through the first three or four rows of the periodic table and talked about where the electrons went and how those atoms interacted. I hope she understood it. She probably did, because she's pretty deft with her Lewis structures.

I have to say that it's a theme I've seen throughout F's schooling, in her math and science classes: they did not spend enough time on basic things. They rushed ahead to get all the stuff in. You don't have to memorize things like whether barium chloride is BaCl or BaCl2 if you can glance at a periodic table and see that barium is going to be an ion with a charge of +2. To be able to do that you have to stop, and explain, and think, and draw pictures for yourself, make guesses and check yourself, and all that takes time. I don't understand the rush-ahead thing when the kids get through with class and whole swaths of them don't retain anything. Plus, it's no fun and they don't get why anybody could think this stuff is cool.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I have never, in all my born days.

A terminally dorky Swedish band in 1963 - playing - AMERICAN BLUEGRASS. AAAARRRGGHHH

* Who can name this tune?

Thanks to the Chicago Boyz for introducing me to the Spotnicks. I guess.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I think sometimes people make a distinction between "legal" and "moral" that simply isn't there. They tell you that you can't legislate morality. Well, of course you can. Murder is immoral, isn't it? Isn't it also illegal? It's wrong to steal. It's even wrong to cheat on your taxes, because you're making other people pay your share as well as their own.

I don't think law-abiding people refrain from acts like murder and theft solely because they happen to be illegal. I think they refrain because they're wrong.

What you can't legislate, sadly, is intelligence. But you can go a little way toward that, for example, by making it unlawful to transport a baby in a car unless it is in a carseat.

Erin says she thinks that Heather MacDonald, who suggests that the supposed pandemic of rape on college campuses could be drastically reduced if it were explained to girls that they should refrain from stupid behavior, is a pragmatist rather than a moralist. I think morals originate from pragmatism, actually.

Monnie asked her readers if God is a vengeful God.

I had a conversation with a Muslim coworker once. He was contemplating an interest-only loan for a house. This was before the housing crisis and I'd never heard of such a thing. It took me a moment to realize he was asking my opinion about the moral rightness rather than the financial advisability. I had never thought a Muslim would ask a non-Muslim's opinion about things like that - prejudice on my part, I admit. Anyway, he had almost enough money saved up to buy the house outright and what he wanted to do was to lock in the price of the house, pay this interest-only thing but regard it as rent, and then when he was ready, just pay cash and buy the house. Because Muslims aren't supposed to take loans that pay interest. He wanted to know what I thought about that

My first thought was that you can't fool God. He knows your heart.

"I know that," Mustapha said. "I'm not trying to fool God."

Then, I said, you should ask yourself what the point is here. Is God trying to keep you from getting in over your head? A loan that piles up interest too fast can be impossible to pay off and it can be a real bondage. Is this the issue? If so, and if you have every reason to believe that you can handle this thing and it will work out the way you think, then you should probably go ahead, I told him.

Because I don't think the rules are about God setting us up so he can smite us when we deviate from the path. I think the rules are there to keep us from getting hurt. It's the same with morals. People who refrain from casual sex with multiple partners can cross all kinds of unpleasant experiences off their list. People who refrain from gossip don't have workplace and family drama blow up in their faces - or at least, not from things they've said behind people's backs that got out. There's a reason for all those "thou shalt nots". One can heed them, or one can learn the hard way. Why re-invent the wheel over and over and over?

I remember that when F was very small she had a horrifying habit of running headlong through the house with her arms thrown behind her. Of course she fell and hurt herself all the time. I asked her repeatedly not to run in the house. Go outside and run. Still she did it, and she came to me howling with her bumps and bruises. One day I kind of lost my temper.

"Do you see me falling down all the time and hurting myself?"

"No," she bawled.

"What about Daddy? Do you see him falling down and hurting himself all the time?"


"Why do you suppose that is? Do you think it's because WE DON'T RUN IN THE HOUSE?"


"One of these days you are going to figure out for yourself why it is that I keep asking you not to run in the house. And that will be a happy day, because I won't have to listen to you crying because you fell down and hurt yourself."

Epiphany. The running in the house stopped forthwith.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching; indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, and ornaments about your neck." Proverbs 1:7-9

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tsiporah - recognize this?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's gratifying to find out that somebody else also loves one of my favorite movies.

Bonnie LOVES to have her picture taken. Whenever she hears the camera turn on she drops whatever she's doing and runs and poses.

Naturally, we always oblige. "How pretty," we tell her.

We have lots of pictures exactly like this.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

In reference to the preceding post:

Was talking to R about something I'd like to see in presidential candidate debates. I don't know exactly how you'd do it. R thinks maybe a board like they have in shows like "Jeopardy" where you have a specified period of time to write your answer and then everyone shows what they've written.

I'd like to see clips from movies like World War III, highlighting crisis moments when a president has to think on his feet, shown to the candidates. Freeze-frame Rock Hudson with a horrified look on his face, and ask the candidates, "What would you do?"
This article gives me pause: New Clinton Ad Prompts Reply From Obama

Description of Clinton ad:

“It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep,” says a narrator as threatening music surges over dark black-and-white images.

There’s a world crisis and the White House phone is ringing. “Your vote will decide who answers that call,” the narrator says. “Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military — someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world.”

It ends with a photo of Mrs. Clinton wearing glasses and picking up the phone.

Description of Obama ad:

“It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there’s a phone ringing in the White House. Something’s happening in the world. When that call gets answered, shouldn’t the president be the one — the only one — who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start.”

The commercial concluded, “In a dangerous world, it’s judgment that matters.”

I am certainly no fan of HRC. I think if she gets in there it will be the Nixon WH all over again, with the enemies list, the paranoia, the rule-bending and breaking (look how she wants to seat delegates from FL and MI), and as an added bonus, the domestic drama we got so weary of.

But this article makes me question whether Obama truly understands what's at stake. If that phone rings, it won't be "should we go to war in Iraq". It'll be "Mr. President, tanks are moving into Poland" or "Mr. President, three of our Air Force jets performing routine patrols were shot down ten minutes ago" or "Mr. President, missiles are flying". Yes, that will take judgment and courage, but of a totally different kind than were called upon during the weeks and months that led up to us going into Iraq. Completely different. I hate to say it, because if a Democrat should win the WH I've generally preferred him over her, but I think she gets it on this issue. Either one of them would have to learn this on the job - I dismiss her claims of experience here - but these ads cause it to appear that she really does have a jump on him.