Like I was saying



are some things unforgivable?

Another mass shooting in the United States. Another avoidable tragedy. And please don’t reply with a “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” As Eddie Izzard says, the gun helps.

You’ve probably heard John Stewart’s monologue

or maybe John Oliver’s about the Confederate flag

(Why is this flag still being flown? Has anyone ever justified this in a reasonable way? As I like to say — everyone has a right to their opinion, but if you can’t make a valid argument it might be best to assume you’re wrong, or at the very least keep it to yourself. You certainly don’t need to expect me to “respect” it — especially if it’s ludicrous.)

confederate flag

Psychology Today ran a good article on racism and not only how pervasive it actually is but how white America avoids taking responsibility for it.

You may have even seen the clip of the families of the murdered addressing Dylan Roof directly, telling him that they forgive him.

Really? Less than 48 hours later, you forgive him?

Yes, I get it — forgiveness is about the forgiver, not about the forgivee. If you want to be able to carry on with your life and not be riddled by bitterness, anger and regret, forgiveness is important. But in your own heart. Is it really necessary, or even appropriate, to let someone off the hook like this? Aren’t some things actually unforgivable?

Grace, forgiveness, redemption, blah blah blah.

At least make him ask for it.

At least make him be sorry first.


Why can’t we do something about this? Why does it seem so necessary for Americans to have access to guns? Maybe if people saw their power in their right (and obligation) to vote, and to be educated and informed so as to actually vote to support their own interests in all of their complexities rather than knee-jerk reactions to single issues (abortion, taxes, manipulative political advertising paid for by billionaires) they wouldn’t live in fear of this, (what, exactly?) being taken away. Do people really believe we’re going to need to rise up some day in revolution against our own government? We CAN do that, every two years. How many people bother? Or barely bother?

Is it too much work? Too hard? Too “elitist”? This gives rise to the whole anti-intellectualism argument. I worry that Only Daughter, now 14, will succumb to the feeling that it’s not “attractive” to be smart, will start to dumb it down to attract even more clueless boys. But it’s so much bigger than that. How many people vote for the “regular guy,” the “guy they’d like to sit down and have a beer with” the guy who “doesn’t act like he’s smarter than everybody else in the room.”


You’re electing someone to run your government — local, state, national. Wouldn’t it make sense for that person to be the smartest person in the room? Wouldn’t it make sense for you as an informed citizen, doing your duty to your family and society, to research the candidates, to find out whose money is behind who, what they actually believe across all of the relevant issues, and make your careful choice? Isn’t that supposed to be the point of democracy in the first place? Instead people post ill-considered, abusive comments on news feeds and rant about “Obama killing the country” despite the statistics to the contrary. Ignorance, in all its forms, is embraced. Including racism. Including anti-intellectualism. Including bias and prejudice and hate that can’t be explained in any reasonable way.

Dylan Storm claimed that “they” were raping women and needed to be stopped. Who? The reverends and social workers and children in the building at the time? And what would he have been able to do with these opinions if he hadn’t been able to get his hands on a weapon?



I don’t forgive him. I don’t think anyone should, or anyone like him. At least not that easily. That soon. And certainly not without his remorse. It’s giving unforgivable behavior a pass, and it’s not helping.


the real cost of that $5 T-shirt

This is a long, (but completely worth the time), documentary about the true cost of cheap clothes.

We tell ourselves that it’s better that these workers have a job making $3/day than their not have a job at all, but I wonder if that’s really the answer. At one point, we’re told that doubling their salaries would add 3 cents to the cost of a T-shirt. That seems more than fair. In fact, let’s raise their salaries x100.

The scenes at 1:20 are shameful; the scene a few moments later — when a garment worker has to leave her young daughter with her extended family, a daughter who she will then see a couple of times a year, because the conditions in the city are not conducive to her health or education — is heartbreaking.

There has to be a better way.


Enter “TakePart” to watch…


parenting, marriage, and feminism

First, read this.

How American parenting is killing the American marriage.

And then go and join this page.

And think about these things:

1.  Your children won’t like to hear it (I know Only Daughter didn’t), but your marriage SHOULD be the most important relationship you have. Your children will (hopefully) go off someday and have one of their own. In which case, you are left with this person you have ignored for the previous 20-30 years, and shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t have anything to talk about.

2.  If your whole life revolves around them YOU’RE not getting any adult satisfaction

and your children are growing up thinking that the world revolves around them. And that’s not good for anybody.

For example, there is a lot of pressure on parents to go to EVERY sports event in which their child participates. If the parent has to work, the other parents may even make snarky comments such as “I don’t know what x’s father is thinking” or “I can’t believe y’s mother never comes to these things.” (I actually overheard this at one of the few of First Son’s soccer games I was able to attend.) But, in fact, it’s better for the children if the parents stay home. You can express your interest by asking about the game over THE DINNER THAT YOU EAT TOGETHER, but leave the coaching to the coach, and the cheering to the teammates, and let your child have ownership of something that doesn’t have anything to do with you.

They actually prefer it that way.

3. Children need to do things for themselves, fail, try again, maybe even fail again. They need to do their own homework and their own science projects and face the consequences if they don’t (staying in from recess to finish a homework assignment or getting a bad grade gets the message across a lot more loudly than mom standing over his shoulder at the dinner table yelling at him); and clean their own rooms (and live in their own filth if they don’t) and put their own cream cheese on their own bagels. Nobody gets better at putting their cream cheese on their bagel if somebody else is always doing it for them.  Yes, you could do it better, and neater, and faster. But that’s only because you got lots of practice. (Am I right?) If your child is washing dishes and they’re not clean, position yourself as rinser, and silently hand them back to her to wash again. Hire your child to clean the whole house (not his or her room; that should be automatically their responsibility); if it’s not very clean, don’t pay him very much. He’ll figure it out. (I did this with First Son; he actually sent me a text a few years ago thanking me for “teaching him how to clean.” I never really taught him anything, except that it wasn’t the act of cleaning that counted, but the result.) If they’re not very good at something, have them do it more; it’s clear they need lots of practice.

I teach at a summer arts/music camp, and there are always a few campers whose parents come and hoverhoverhoverhoverhoverhoverhover. These campers don’t usually do very well, and often leave before the end of camp. I don’t think it’s because the campers weren’t ready for camp, but because their parents weren’t.

helicopter-parents 4

This isn’t helping. Maybe there should be a camp for parents, called Hawaii. Or A Life.

If you don’t let children fail, they will learn that “failing” is too awful to contemplate, and probably something they can’t recover from. If you hover around them, you’re telling them that you don’t think they can succeed, and their failure is too awful to contemplate. If you let them fail, and give them encouragement to try again and maybe just a wee bit of guidance or advice to help them succeed (but only if they want it, and only a wee bit), they learn about tenacity and optimism and hope. It seems pretty obvious which of these two we want our children to be learning.

4. Most (not all, but most) of the women I know, myself included, made professional sacrifices in the name of “raising their own children.” Most of these same women are still working part-time, in less challenging/suitable/interesting jobs than they could do, and make significantly less money than their husbands do. And all of you women out there in your 20s and early 30s reading this, and nodding, and thinking, well, yes, of course, but that’s a) not going to happen to me, or b) I won’t mind. The thing is, you might mind. I mind. And the effects of those choices may actually impact your professional choices FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. And, in case you haven’t realized this already, YOU CAN’T GO BACK AND HAVE A REDO.

I used to think that feminism meant we all get to choose what we want to do (and be paid the same for it as men), and nobody gets to give us a hard time about it. It’s kind of that, still, I suppose; but I also think we have a responsibility, to ourselves, our spouses, our children, to

  • have work we love
  • make enough money that we could support ourselves if we have to
  • devote as much time cultivating the relationship we have with our spouse as we do cultivating all the others (children, friends)
  • not feel compelled to sacrifice any of the above without asking our (male) significant other to make them of the same magnitude, and

But maybe it’s just me.



Man-made disasters

Seems like this + this would not be a good idea.


Guess we can count on Kansas and Colorado to be the buffer zones.

Add into that the fact that we’ve just about exhausted antibiotics’ usefulness, half of our government is working against the other half in brokering deals that might help prevent nuclear annihilation, the planet is cooking and/or drowning, and we’re going to standardize-test our children into creative and intellectual automatons, and it’s pretty clear that things aren’t looking very good for the species.

Other countries seem to get it, with mandated declining use of antibiotics in meat production, fair and imaginative teaching for all children, and efforts to preserve the rain forest.

Of course, the lists in both paragraphs could be much longer. And one might imagine that the planet as a whole might be “grateful” for our demise.

What I can’t figure out is how, despite intrinsic self-interest in self-preservation, we seem to be so darn good at being the engineers of our own destruction. It’s like 20 year olds taking up smoking, because they still believe they’ll live forever.

[Not at this rate, we won’t.]


casting out demons

Went for a walk today,
first time outside in a long time,
casting out demons as I went.
No pigs to cast them into,
just a few robins, one really

Encountered someone the other day,
a sad, small person
with too much power and an inordinate willingness to use it;
a complete dearth of professional courtesy,
unapologetic disregard for anyone’s needs except her own
to exert that power.

She was the first to go.


Also cast to each side other
demons too numerous to mention here,
and anyway I know that they only lurked behind the
bare trees and followed me home again;

but I closed the door quickly,
turned the bolt in its lock,
and took a nice long hot shower

leaving them mewling on the porch.

Perhaps the postman will take them
when he leaves the day’s packages.

Cuz apparently we're assholes.

Cuz apparently we’re assholes.

Play Ball! Well, maybe in a month or two...

Play Ball!
Well, maybe in a month or two…


There is actually a bird in this picture -- a very small black and white speckled thing that is apparently "designed" to blend in with tree bark. Can you find it?

There is actually a bird in this picture — a very small black and white speckled thing that has clearly evolved to blend in with tree bark. Can you find it?

Waiting for Spring...

Waiting for Spring…

I know


the true milestones

Not marriage, maybe, nor childbirth,
grandchildren, retirement;
not those.

Just a few moments.

The moment that you realize

that the world
owe you anything;

that the one-hundred-percent-right
to Raise Your Own Children
would have Lasting Professional Impact;

that you have a
to be happy;

that there is not a single person on this earth
who can learn
from your mistakes;

that you are,
in some ways,

and that this is,
in fact,

that it all matters
if you make it.

So make it.

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