Wednesday, December 19, 2012
This has been a day for watching or dealing with cheating. Aside from the unpleasantry of failing students caught cheating, I just watched a college kid come into a Taco Cabana and sneakily stuff a bag with tons of plastic ware type stuff from the condiments bar. It wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't been so blatantly (& badly, obviously) trying to mask and hide his activity - slyly filling up a cup w/pico and then grabbing stuff and shoving it in his bag, then doing it again ... and again. After watching the sad spectacle for a minute I got up to ask him if he really was so broke that he had to steal this cheap fast-food crap-ware, but he left as I got up to chat. Hell, I'd lend him a $5 just to end the embarrassing spectacle. I really should have gotten up more quickly. It would be interesting if he showed up in one of my classes. I would absolutely find a way to bring this back around to his attention. Cool thing about teaching 600 students a year is that a *whole lot of them* cross your path before its all said and done. Ah, college kids... Glad I was never one.
Friday, December 14, 2012
So many children murdered. What an awful, awful reality. ... And then to complicate it, so much of the immediate conversation has already turned into a debate about gun control versus gun access. This at first caused me a little emotional whiplash ... but then I almost got sucked in. Social and news media are inviting me (all of us really) into the arena of argumentation. ... There are those among us who will look at the tragedy and say we need gun access for self-protection. There are others who will say we need gun control. And the debate will be heated. As a collective, we will seek catharsis and relief from the horror of the murder of children by deeply and passionately engaging this debate, sure that we are right, and at some point possibly even questioning the sanity or intelligence of those with an opposing view. ... But you know what? I am pretty much sick of this sort of reaction. That is, I am sick of us (the collective "us," me included) dealing with our confusion and angst by taking the "side" that feels right in our gut, defending and promoting it all costs, and then, eventually, demonizing those who have now been constructed as the "other side." We did it during the election, and we do it in all manner of policy debates. ... Tonight, rather than go that predictable route, I think that I am just going to focus on hugging my kids a little tighter. I'll see where it goes from there.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Some would have you limit your reading to those whose political alignments, social networks or faith traditions fit the orthodoxy of their tribe. For them I offer a shrug of indifference to their admonitions and maintain a raised eye brow of scrutiny for whatever they have to say on any topic of consequence.
That said, I've discovered and will be reading more about and from Mormon apostle Hugh Brown. His was a cool head in a time of even greater national division than we have today. Check out these words from this Mormon Church leader, apparently offered in May 1968:
"I would like you to be reassured that the leaders of both major political parties in this land are men of integrity and unquestioned patriotism. Beware of those who feel obliged to prove their own patriotism by calling into question the loyalty of others. Be skeptical of those who attempt to demonstrate their love of country by demeaning its institutions. Know that men of both major political parties who bear the nation’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches are men of unquestioned loyalty and we should stand by and support them, and this refers not only to one party but to all. Strive to develop a maturity of mind and emotion and a depth of spirit which enables you to differ with others on matters of politics without calling into question the integrity of those with whom you differ. Allow within the bounds of your definition of religious orthodoxy variation of political belief. Do not have the temerity to dogmatize on issues where the Lord has seen fit to be silent."
Some of those words are hard for me to swallow. But they strike my ear as capturing wisdom for the ages and I choose to consider them carefully.
Here is a blog entry from Mormon Heretic on the topic and another from Latter-Day Common Sense.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Hundreds of young people (and some not so young) are learning hard lessons after their ugly cathartic releases following the re-election of President Obama. While some express shock at these comments (many are eye-popping ugly), I am pleased that ugly comments seem to number only in the thousands, and that the truly ugly ones (the ones that get you on federal watch lists or merit Secret Service visits) only number in the hundreds. I am an "N of 1" and yet have received my share of threats and racist taunts over the years. Some have been real doozies. Thus, when I see that nationwide the open racist remarks were in the hundreds, I am relieved. ... Many of those who were spewing venom on election night appear to be intellectually challenged, rather young (or perhaps both). For instance, a 22 year-old expressed surprise following her tweet calling President Obama the N* word and expressing her thought that maybe he'd be assassinated this time. In follow up social media posts she exclaimed that she didn't understand the big deal. Others who were outed were high school students tweeting or posting from accounts that featured family pictures, their sports teams and church affiliations. Their punishments began coming quickly as several in organizations with codes of conduct were kicked off of teams, fired from jobs or otherwise reprimanded. I view all this and see it as part of our ongoing development. I am not the slightest bit surprised at ugly sentiments and I feel that with kids in relationship with one other across lines of difference, things are still getting better and better (although there are millions who choose to live in cocoons and millions who harbor racial [or gendered or xenophobic or homophobic] resentments). So I note all of this, and while I do fear the possibility of an uptick in violence by racists against minorities, I see this as the dying gasps of an ideology that is being forced further and further to the margins.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Guided well, student athletes routinely grow into people who make you beam with pride. Marcus Lattimore, who - in images of vivid clarity - was injured in a nationally televised football game yesterday, has an incredibly challenging road to recovery ahead of him. ... Though it might seem detached, overly-romantic and sappy to write this, it remains that when I interact with former student athletes, I routinely see the way in which initial adversity has been key to the strength of character they have come to embody. As Mr. Lattimore recovers I pray that he is guided and supported well. He will be struggling to walk normally before even thinking about running. He will also have tough times emotionally. But when he comes through it, and if he comes through it having been guided spiritually and emotionally as well as physically, he will be exactly the person I will be cajoling to come and talk to kids I work with ... exactly the type of person we'll admire most. My thoughts are with all student athletes this morning, and of course, are especially with Marcus Lattimore.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
On September 20, 2012 Space Shuttle Endeavor flew - piggyback on top of a 747 jumbo jet - over Austin, Texas. Austin was one just one of the many cities that was treated to one last view of Endeavor in the air. Through ups and downs, our nation's Space Shuttle program was something to behold. It cost the average American $93 per year. The program was financed by the American people (through our taxes) and may be the last thing we do as a nation without nakedly engaging profit motives and corporations.
|Dr. Mae Jamison at a White House |
event in June 2012.
My brushes with the space program included attending a launch in Florida (the night sky turned to day as the rockets ignited), and occasionally interacting with astronauts, educators and others with NASA during my time in DC.
Many of the things we do as a people and a nation are truly amazing.
I hope that we turn back towards the idea of being a people who support of wonderful (and not necessarily economically profitable) scientific and humanistic endeavors that serve the greater good of our nation and world. The turn towards profit-driven corporations as the answer to our nation's challenges and opportunities is sad. Not only is it doubtful that those with profit-motives will serve the greater good, but on top of it all, it is a soulless way to approach the life of the nation. So give me heroes like the late Ron McNair and Christa McAuliffe, along with the hundreds of living heroes who trained and flew (many of whom by the way are now quietly dynamic and impactful college professors). ... Words can't capture what the 30 year Space Shuttle Program meant to thousands and thousands of people directly and millions indirectly. It is one of the countless American episodes that beautifully display what we are about at our best and what we are capable of. ... Attached is the video I took from STS-130.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
I have been shaking my head in wonder for a few years now. President Obama has been in turns vilified as the embodiment of evil, of socialism or of incompetence. None are accurate. Strip away the straw-demon that has been constructed for years, and what you have in President I believe that an honest assessment shows Obama as a competent, even keel steward of U.S. domestic and international interests who governs from the center in the midst of a toxic climate that is in large part the product of a knee jerk reaction of loathing by many on the Right. ...
When he came to office, one of the huge assertions was that he would put the nation in danger with his FOREIGN POLICY. What has happened? He's ended one war, drawn down the forces on another front and assassinated most of the Al-Queda leadership, including Bin Laden. His foreign policy includes drone warfare, lines the pockets of contractors, and costs fewer American lives than would other available strategies. I don't love it, but I get it. I also know that he owns a record here that the Right only wishes it could pull off. ...
On the HIGHER EDUCATION FRONT, he stretched available federal funds for college students by pulling off the brilliant maneuver of cutting the banks out of the student loan process. ... On the K-12 EDUCATION front he is a partner in a bipartisan disaster - turning over education policy to corporations and philanthropists that are, respectively, taking turns making huge money or giving huge money away in disastrous misadventures in privatization and standardization that are somehow recast as innovation.
On the ECONOMIC FRONT, he is still hostage to the explosion in the deficit that is directly attributable to the Bush tax cuts and in much smaller percentage to the stimulus funding passed early in his presidency, and yet he is on a path of deficit reduction. On it goes.
I am not thrilled with the guy, but nor have I ever been thrilled with a President. But the descriptions from the Right come from lala land! And they have been pulling reasonable people in with them. ... My sense, again is that huge segments of the Right have been so vocal in their hatred that they have pulled the conversation their way. In many circles you have to be pretty brave to just offer a reasoned assessment that includes praise for Obama. The immediate, unfounded shrieks about socialism and incompetence can make your ears bleed. Importantly, the dislike that drips from the mouths of many started before he took office and has never let up.