A British children's show is bringing out the worst in some parents.
Its star,Cerrie Burnell, happens to have been born with part of one arm missing. Apparently, that frightens some children.
The reaction of these knuckleheaded parents is to call for the show to be cancelled. I wonder if these same parents will demand that a person with disabilities be removed from whatever municipal bus they happen to be riding, whatever store in which they happen to be shopping., etc., lest the child be frightened there as well.
It is human nature to be frightened or at least feel a little uncomfortable when we encounter something or someone different. Does that mean we should give in to such fears? Should we teach our children that the solution to being frightened by something that is different, is to get rid of it?
"Cerrie is the new host of the BBC’s popular kids show Cbeebies. She’s your average working mother, balancing her hosting duties and her 4-month-old daughter. Most parents would want their children to see a good example like Cerrie, and these are the parents who have been supportive of Cerrie. But the station that airs the show has received a handful of letters from parents not wanting to let their children watch for fear that Cerrie will frighten them and give them nightmares. The BBC has also been accused of going overboard in their bid for diversity. Others are afraid that seeing the host with one arm will pique their child’s curiosity and do not want to have that conversation yet.
Though she is the center of the whole controversy, Cerrie is not really affected by it. In an interview with BBC magazine, she explained that children aren’t all that fazed by her disability. “Children come up to me in the street every day and say 'What's that?' I wouldn't say they're frightened but certainly they're inquisitive. I would always take the time to explain to a child. All they want is an explanation. And then they will move on."
Friday, February 27, 2009
A British children's show is bringing out the worst in some parents.
Posted by Eastcoastdweller at 2:47 PM
Were you aware that the U.S.Mint is releasing beautiful dollar coins into circulation, celebrating the history and culture of Native Americans? Sacagawea adorns the front and various themes will be depicted on the back.
Chances are, you had no idea. I know I didn't, not until I stumbled upon a website about it just the other day. I've had enough trouble keeping up with the Presidential Dollar Coins, which are barely available.
The U.S. Mint has about the worst, most lack-luster public relations operation that I have ever seen. When was the last time you saw a commercial about these beautiful new coins? Most banks barely carry them -- and good luck finding them anywhere else or in your change.
Using dollar coins saves the government money over the far more fragile paper bills. But apparently the government doesn't care enough to do much of anything about it.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Guys who think that "Women don't dig sports," really need to get out more.
Some of my Female colleagues here at work -- Grandmothers some of them -- know the latest football stats as well as any of the guys.
As for me, I am a guy who really doesn't care much about sports. I blame it on the childhood trauma of being small for my grade level, and quite uncoordinated, and never very good at suppressing the natural instinct to avoid a small, hard object heading my direction at a dangerous speed.
I also fail to see the attraction, as a man, of ogling beefy, sweaty, grown men playing children's games on some field or court while inebriated know-it-alls scream commands and/or curses at them from the stands. I am not attracted to guys and I really am not interested in watching them do much of anything, especially when, as noted above, they are dripping sweat and fighting over a ball.
But I have been going with my Beloved and Her sports fanatic father to a few basketball games this year, especially as "our" team seems headed for some high level glory.
Which brings me to this fascinating conundrum:
She wants to go to the game tonight. I am tired. I do not wish to go.
She certainly has every right to go without me. I am happy that She is having such fun.
It is just that in fourteen years of marriage, this has never happened before.
Monday, February 23, 2009
"There is only one way out and I am going to research it."
I came across those chilling words the other day, written by a troubled young man 20 years ago this week, and found them all the more disturbing for one reason: I was the teenager who wrote them.
We were in a new place, a cold and lonely place, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of winter. I was 16. All my friends were far away. I had no job,no license, no social life. I felt useless, hopeless and miserable.
But the closest that I came to suicide was to write those words. I toughed it out for another year at home, with the peace of the Northwest forest and the misty Puget Sound to calm my torment, then endured one horrible summer in military training camp -- and then it all changed. I reached my nadir, my absolute midnight, watching the waves roll onto the sand of New Jersey, holding heavy military boots in my hand that would help me walk out into the water and not return -- but I did not take that walk. The morning came. I made it through training. I returned home. I got my driver's license. And then college opened up a whole new world.
My story had a happy ending, a new dawn. I ache for the millions of people, young and old, who hurt so badly that they never make it to sunrise. You see, I was so wrong: there is always another way out. Sometimes it takes a while to arrive, but it is worth the pain and worth the wait.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
"Then the strife of war being aroused will come to the west,
and the fugitive from Rome will also come, brandishing a great spear,
having crossed the Euphrates with many myriads." -- Sibylline Oracles, Book 4, 135.
"The sudden and mysterious disappearance of Nero encouraged a belief that he was alive and would return, a belief still prevalent as late as the time of [Emperor] Trajan, and shared by pagan, Jew and Christian." -- Cambridge Ancient History Vol. 11, p. 144.
Only a few times in history has it happened: A man holds the reigns of power, a man so loathsome, so horrible, so hated, that his very name becomes a synonym for evil. He rises to the pinnacle of power, but over-reaches, his empire collapses and he dies in squalor and infamy. He becomes, as the brilliant poet-prophet Isaiah wrote hopefully about Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, a "branch so abominable" that the very grave would spit him out.
The modern generation remembers this with the late, disgusting madman Adolph Hitler, whose mysterious death in the ashes of Berlin fed rumors for years that he yet lived. And perhaps there are people who still so believe.
For the people of the first century A.D., the hiss and byword was Nero, disgraced and disgusting Emperor of Rome, last scion of the once-glorious Julio-Claudian line. He, too, perished a suicide, and of him, too, rumors of survival long echoed through the lands he had ravaged.
That is the meaning of that cryptic paragraph I quoted above, from the Pseudepigrapha -- the fear that wouldn't die, that the end of the world would be ushered in by the return of Nero from the East to lead apocalyptic war.
The lesson from it: History, like nature, is non-moral. History does not always care to hand over human monsters for exhibit and execution but leaves us to wonder and worry long after their noxious reichs have crumbled. And so, our nightmares linger.
Another lesson: It is a cliche but also a truism, that "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." And in the cases of both Nero and the modern Nazi madman, it is a sobering fact that they were both hailed as heroes of the people, when they first came to power.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Squirming through a School Board meeting that lasted until 11:30 p.m. last night, only to have to be back at my desk bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7:45 the next morning ... and more meetings and more meetings today and then some big hoopla event in which I have to participate on Saturday -- Saturday -- I must remember, I must be so very grateful to have a job, even if it kills me.
I took my pillow with me to work today, thinking I might slip in a nap during lunch. The custodian saw it in the corner of my office and smiled.
Only about 25 more years until I can retire. By which time, of course, my partially hydrogenated childhood, my love of sausage, eggs and cheese and the high blood pressure that runs in my family will probably send the Grim Reaper to spoil my long-awaited fun.
Posted by Eastcoastdweller at 9:03 PM
What is worse than an editor who miscorrects text, introducing an error where no error existed before?
Perhaps a blogger who keeps promising to visit his blog friends and barely follows through?
I did swing by Trisia's bloghouse last night, and Maria's briefly today, but I am still embarassingly behind. And I can't expect visitors here if I never leave Isis, can I? That's an iron rule of blogworld: you have to give to get.
Today, I had to send out a release about a local concert series which would feature the classic works of Aaron Copland. Yes, Copland, not Copeland.But yours truly introduced an "e" into the text that was sent to me, being quite unfamiliar with the family history and the doughty old Scotch immigrant who anglicized the family name from Kaplan to Copland.
A little research would have saved me, but I did not do it. I thought I knew best.
No one has called me on the carpet yet. But the day is still young.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Philogynist: One who loves and adores Women.
I like that. It’s a word I discovered today on another blog. (Yes, I have begun visiting other blogs again and later tonight I will visit some of my neglected regular favorites – Trisia, Kat, LGS and Chase, especially, who have faithfully commented here this month, hitherto unrequited.)
Philogynist is not quite as New Agey and blasphemy-tinged as gynolatry, the worship of Woman as Deity. Most Women don’t care for gynolatry on Their behalf but They could tolerate a few more philogynists in the world.
One who treasures Women’s company and values Their contributions in every field of human endeavor. One who vows to never use his physical strength to lay a hurtful hand upon any Woman – and who also vows that his tongue shall never speak words of denigration.
One who thrills to have literature by Women on his bookshelf, art by Women on his walls and the musical voices of Women predominating in his musical collection.
The very sight of a Woman’s typically gentle handwriting on paper gives him pleasure, the sound of Her name sings like music in his ears and he thrills to them all, from Abigail to Zena. He exults in a passing trace of perfume or a girlish giggle going by. He loves all the parts – and the whole, and equally as much the Woman who by birth, accident or surgery does not fit the typical pattern.
A philogynist speaks up and speaks out against misogyny and strives to excise any trace of it from his own being. He affirms Women as fully equal and then some; he celebrates the amazing threads that Women weave in the tapestry of humanity.
Philogynist. I really like that word, even if my computer spell checker doesn’t.
It is not a boast. It is not about being Romeo or fancying one’s self as some kind of “God’s gift to Women.” It is simply recognition by a man – or a Woman -- that Women are amazing, wonderful , fascinating, magical, valuable, powerful, intelligent, gifted beings, and then living daily in awed adoration of Them. Or, for a Woman, it is living a life of confidence in Your potential, standing up for Your Sisters and being fiercely and joyously proud to be a Woman.
She may be 90 years old, white haired and physically frail with a faltering memory. Still, She is Woman and lovely even in the twilight of Her life, as an angel in the memories of the people that She has blessed.
She may be poor and illiterate, Her face bearing the scars of the struggle to survive. Still, She is Woman and beautiful by birthright.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
When I was young and went to school, there were certain teachers who ... taught me about Rome.
I learned about the wild German barbarians of Europe, who eventually muscled their way into the Empire. Later, I learned that Rome had other enemies -- the Parthians to their east, ruling over what we today call the Middle East.
Plunging into Cambridge Ancient History this month, Ive learned even more. Rome had another enemy, a people called the Sarmatians. Nomads who rode small, fast horses and built no cities, these people ranged from Siberia to Ukraine -- and menaced Rome and Parthia alike.
Among them was a tribe called the Moetians, almost unique in ancient history for the level of equality between the Women and men among them. Had they had great literary apologists such as did the democrats of Athens, perhaps that innovation would have become more widely known, for the betterment of the world.
Another Sarmatian tribe were the Alans -- so wide ranging as to even be recorded in the Chinese annals. The Alans gradually pushed west into Europe as Rome weakened, in time reaching Spain and then crossing into Africa. Imagine a grizzled Alan elder, trying to explain to his young kin born under the African sun, the stories of his grandparents about life in the frozen hell of Siberia.
Not all the Alans went west, my boy. A chunk of them lingered in the Caucasus region, where their headquarters became known as Ossetia. Ossetia -- where had I heard that before?
Remember last summer, when Russia and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia went to war? Turns out that Russia claims a piece of that turf wherein Ossetians still dwell and Georgia claims another piece where southern Ossetians dwell. The latter group want independence, Russia for her own ends supports it, and therefore, blood was shed.
Russia being a huge and nuclear-armed country, the travails of these restless, modern-day Alans could easily have led to a cataclysmic war.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The story, continued from below:
I am beating myself up for not having remembered to keep a leash in the car for an emergency such as this. I am wondering where I can possibly park and how I will persuade the dog to jump into my car, since he is obviously afraid of it -- which is good in most instances but bad in this one. I am praying he will not dart out into the road again.
Suddenly he veers away from the road and begins to climb a steep hill into a wooded area. I see that he is following a narrow but well-worn trail and I know from the housetops visible through the trees that a little neighborhood is up there. Most likely he used that path to get down here.
I have no way to follow him but I am pretty sure that he will be fine back in that neighborhood.
My barber is still open when I get there, if but barely. And when I get home, my Beloved's family has invited us over for dinner -- rotisserie chicken, squash and sausage with green peppers and onions.
A nice ending to the day.
Posted by Eastcoastdweller at 4:01 PM
Down a busy street I am driving, hurrying to get to my barber for a long overdue lopping of my locks, with just a few minutes before he closes for the day.
To my left I catch a glimpse of a white ball bobbing beside the road. Perhaps a plastic bag caught in the fingers of the wind ... no, it's a Jack Russell terrier running loose.
I keep driving as the bailiff in my brain calls the courtroom of my soul to order.
The dog is not IN the road but sensibly proceeding beside it. Perhaps he lives close by and will soon be safely home. If I try to help, I will certainly miss getting my hair cut. If I try to help, I may only make the situation worse. I may only be able to watch helplessly as some fool runs him over right in front of me, like the time I tried to help a huge, grouchy snapping turtle across a highway only to have a damned UPS truck deliberately blast past me and crush the beast and nearly tip over his sorry brown truck -- wish it had tipped over but that incident and my hatred for UPS are another story.
The haircut be damned. I am not going to let inertia win this one, regardless of the consequences. I turn around.
The little white dog is now in the roadway, sniffing around. I flick on my hazard lights and slow down. Some exacrable moron behind me interprets that as a signal to cross the double yellow line and floor it past me. I can only hope that if his dog or child is ever in a roadway, people will have more sense than his sorry A$$.
The dog is scared by my car and climbs out of the roadway and begins to run alongside the guardrail. I keep going, looking for a safe place to park so that I can get out and try to communicate with him.
To be continued
At times, my skeptic soul drives me crazy. I have blogged several times about my struggle to believe in things theological -- the heart warring with the head.
But in realms non-spiritual, I am grateful for my doubting nature. I run little risk of ever having my life savings swindled away, because I buy nothing over the phone and nothing at my door except Girl Scout cookies. I have an unassailable distrust of get rich quick schemes and of scary emails.
Today some well-meaning relative sent me the latest annoying hoax, some stupid thing about deadly chlorine supposedly infesting baby carrots that you buy from the supermarket. Beware the white coating that forms, this nonsense goes.
It's not chlorine, moron, it's dehydration. You can take an organically grown carrot from an Amish farm never exposed to chlorine in its entire carrot career and slice its peel off and it will turn white in your fridge after a while, too.
These hoaxes are not just a problem for suckers who get scared and stop using a favorite product, and annoying for the rest of us. They can cause real problems. They cost corporations considerable amounts of money. Just ask Procter and Gamble, which fought for years against a hoax that their CEO was a Satanist and their logo a mascot for the devil.
They also hurt gullible people who innocently forward the email to friends and co-workers with their name and company attached. Suddenly the hoax has a "real-live" person and company to give it legitimacy and it travels the globe. The company gets mad and the worker gets punished.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
If you were to traipse into the hills and borrow a cup o' corn squeezin's from Cletus Q. Hillbilly's still -- the natural sugars of the corn having been converted to alcohol -- and then stirred into the jug a squirt of Pseudomonadaceae bacteria culture, which oxidize alcohol to create energy ...
... then you would soon have yourself a sample of vinegar, the end result of little pseudo's hard work. Vinegar is very useful for many things.
Acetic acid is the principal component of vinegar. Play around with it chemically, to create a salt or ester, and you get another useful product, acetate, a type of plastic once used to make phonograph records. Tweak it another way and you get acetylene, an explosive chemical in much demand for welding.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Do books have souls?
Shall we write the Pope a letter of inquiry?
Does a book remain a precious thing, in and of itself, even if no one reads it, even if no one cares? Like a neglected old man in a musty old room, is its mere existence still of value, even if only to God?
I ask this possibly nerdish sounding question for a reason. Because I am a nerd.
No, that's not why.
I ask it because, as I reported here some time ago, my county public library is not a no-kill shelter for books. If nobody checks out a certain volume within two years, it gets offered to the public like a sad old dog for adoption. If no one comes to love it and take it home, to the dumpster it goes along with the rest of the trash.
So popularity rules and Harry Potter is assured an indefinite stay in the stacks whilst Boswell's Tour of the Hebrides might get sent packing if the local high school teachers don't assign it for a reading project.
That bothers me.
I feel that a public library should be a temple of knowledge, not just free advertising for the latest scribblings of Steven King and Danielle Steele.
For some time now, I have attempted to resume my reading of the Cambridge Ancient History Volumes -- rudely interrupted at Volume 11 when I didn't check out the massive tomes quickly enough to keep up with the Doyennes of Discard.
I went online. No library in the state of Virginia apparently carries these weighty works anymore, these intricate and detailed explorations of human history. Wanna buy one for yourself? Sure, Amazon will oblige -- for several hundred dollars apiece.
Yesterday, I had a revelation. I remembered the bibliophilic Nirvana of my old college library -- told you I was a nerd! -- where no book was apparently thrown away unless the pages were shredded or a newer copy was purchased.
I drove on down to the closest university near where I work. Sweet literary lust fulfilled -- they have EVERY volume of the Cambridge series. Since I know the librarian, She made me up a library card post-haste and I went home with Volume 11 -- The Roman Imperial Crisis and Recovery -- and a whole sack of donated books from their sale shelf, too.
Sweetie will not be happy with more books for my shelves. I'll make it up to Her on Valentine's Day.
Moral of the story: I'm a nerd.
No, the moral of the story: At universities, books still have souls, whether or not the Pope has made a decision on the matter yet.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I clicked onto a fascinating article today, about a show that I have never watched, which is apparently becoming a huge fad in America these days, no pun intended: The Biggest Loser.
At the bottom of the story, this alarming statement is shared:
"The decline of home cooking worldwide, is an underlying cause of obesity."
The article describes how these terribly obese people are weaned from bad habits and introduced to actual food that doesn't come salted in a vacuum packed bag. They learn about spices and fresh produce, and how to savor the flavors that Mother Nature has made, not some factory in New Jersey.
Americans by the millions, it is said, have begun to forget the basics of how to use their own kitchens. And apparently this is the case in other "developed" nations as well.
Well, I, too, eat fast food more than I should, thanks to my work schedule. Had a burger just last night. But being able to cook in my own kitchen, when I get the chance, is a treat for me, not a terror.
I can vouch for the fact that some of the ingredients I try to purchase for recipes, are nearly extinct or virtually unknown. I had the devil of a time trying to find barley a few years back. The grocery stocker had no idea what it was. Barley -- a basic grain eaten by human beings for 10,000 years! C'mon!
I spent a full year trying to track down cracked wheat for a bread recipe.
I'm not talking about beluga caviar or rafflesia fruit, for Pete's sake. I'm talking about grains - staples of the human diet, things any peasant worth his woolens, with a farthing in his grubby paw, could have hefted home from market in the old days and with which the goodwife in the cottage could have whipped up something tasty.
We were once a people who hunted our own game, built our own homes, boiled up our own soap, churned our own butter. We've left our roots behind. Some of that is not a bad thing -- if I had to hunt beasts in the forest to fill my belly, I wouldn't get much else done on behalf of society.
But we neglect our culinary skills at our own peril.
I just may start watching this show.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Someone posted this up on that yahoo questions-answers website, and the issue was resolved and closed before I could add my input.
"Would this be considered rude?
Last week I was at Disney World, and I stopped for a cigarette break in one of the "designated smoking areas", which is clearly marked and written on all the trashcans and ashtrays as the only places to smoke in the park. It's even marked on the maps so people know exactly where they're located.
Well, all was fine and dandy until about a minute after I sat down and lit up a cigarette, when a couple decided to sit down next to me in the smoker's area to eat. After a few seconds, the lady started doing the "fake cough" that non-smokers do when they're annoyed by your smoking, then she just gave me an evil death stare. When I didn't respond to her, she went off on me about how disgusting smoking is and saying "Can't you see we're f**king trying to eat here?!?!"
I was shocked. Yes, I know smoking is disgusting and gross and yadda yadda yadda... but if she felt that strongly about it, why on Earth would she sit down in the smoker's area to eat her food? Out of all the places in Disney World to sit down, you choose to sit in the smoker's area and then yell at ME?!? The area is CLEARLY marked... she could have sat across the street... I don't get it.
So was it rude for her to yell at me or did I do something wrong that I'm not aware of? Why would she sit next to me in the smoking area if she felt so strongly about smoking? I'm so confused.
2 weeks ago
2 weeks ago
Thanks for the answers everybody. I wish I wasn't so non-confrontational... I wish I said something to her, but I was just in shock that I was being cussed out at Disney World of all places for seemingly doing nothing wrong.
I know most nonsmokers are offended by cigarette smoke, and I'm pretty used to being berated for it, so I always try to be as polite as possible, which I thought I was doing by smoking in one of the few places I was allowed to in the park.
I don't know if she was trying to prove a point or what she was trying to achieve by sitting there... I mean, she was sitting practically right in front of the ashtray, so she obviously knew she was in the smoker's area. I seriously don't understand."
Something no one mentioned in their responses to this poor guy: not only was it a designated smoking area, he was in that place FIRST. When it comes to the great outdoors, unless there is a sign that clearly says NO SMOKING, if I see someone smoking and I choose to sit next to them,I have zero right to complain.
More and more lately, it seems that when it comes to smoking, people have utterly forgotten their manners -- and I am NOT talking about the smokers!
As most of you know, I do not smoke. But I passionately object to people using their dislike of smoking as a screen for simple, ugly rudeness. It's the smokers today -- who will be attacked tomorrow?
And now I will step down from my soapbox and let my blood pressure return to normal.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day -- from the National Women's Law Center.
"This Wednesday is the 23rd annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which began in 1987 as a day to remember Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and her work to assure equality for women's sports. NGWSD is marked annually with events around the country and on Capitol Hill to celebrate the athletic achievements of girls and women and to promote the continued expansion of opportunities for girls to play sports and live physically active lives.
"Unfortunately, women and girls continue to face barriers to fair play in the athletics arena, far too often receiving far fewer opportunities to play sports than their male peers and inferior benefits and services when they do play. This year, champion female athletes and young girls will arrive in Washington D.C. to advocate for bills in Congress that address the ongoing inequalities girls face at the high school level by requiring these schools to report information on the gender breakdown of their teams and athletics expenditures.
"One way to shine a spotlight on the problems that women and girls still face in athletics is to require schools to publicly disclose gender equity information about their athletics programs. A federal law requires colleges to make such information publicly available each year, but high schools are not required to disclose these data, making it difficult to ensure fairness in high school athletics programs.
Two bills that were introduced in the last Congress — the High School Athletics Accountability Act and the High School Sports Information Collection Act — will soon be reintroduced. These bills will address widespread inequities by requiring high schools to report information, broken down by gender, on sports participation and expenditures. Much of this information is already collected by schools, and making it publicly available will allow schools, parents, and students to evaluate their athletics programs to make sure that they are treating boys and girls equally.
"Women and girls continue to make tremendous contributions to sports, and they in turn reap great academic, economic, social and health benefits. Yet more than thirty-five years after Title IX was enacted, too many schools still are not providing their female students with equal athletic opportunities."
National Women's Law Center,
11 Dupont Circle NW Suite 800 Washington, DC 20036 202.588.5180 202.588.5185 (fax) http://www.nwlc.org/
Someone emailed me a sketch the other day, entitled "What Really Happened on the Hudson."
It appears beautiful, at first glance, showing divine hands holding up that plane that crashed into the Hudson River recently, protecting the occupants from a watery death.
But something in me does not like that mode of thinking at all.
Those divine hands could just as easily have brushed away that flock of geese a few minutes before, preventing the whole terrifying ordeal.
Those divine hands have apparently been withheld when scores of other planes have gone down.
Why would an impartial God save one plane and allow another to crash, each containing a relative random grouping of people, some probably good, some probably evil? I mean, I could understand if some Mafia dons or a gang of Neo-nazis or Bin Laden and his buddies had chartered a flight and God stood by and calmly let it slam into a mountainside ...
I'm not one of those people who finds the existence of evil to be the disproving of God's reality ... although I question the wisdom in creation of such fiendish horrors as candiru, guinea worms and cystic fibrosis. I can grant that sickness and pain can teach important life lessons and shape our character -- but worms that gnaw their way through your feet -- what do those poor African villagers learn from that?
I have chosen to believe this year and I will believe. But I still don't like the picture of those hands. What if you were a relative of someone who was incinerated in a plane on Sept. 11, 2001? How would you react to the implicit message that God directly intervened to save these folks but let your loved ones die?