Sunday, July 07, 2013

Lieutenant Uhura, open a hailing frequency

And ya probably better activate the Universal Translator.

Ronnie has a new blog for gentle parenting and joyful relationships. I was thinking about what I could contribute to her effort when she asked me to write a post about how I communicate with kids better than most adults do. Well, huh. I’ve never really thought of myself in those terms. Am I really better at talking to younger people than most other adults? If so, how? Why? What do I do that differs from other adults when talking with kids? To write about this topic, I had to think about the parameters of it from my perspective, others’ perspectives, and children’s perspectives. Here’s what I came up with.

Don’t be somebody a kid would feel leery about. Be their equal.

One thing I thought of is the simple physicality of communication. As a short person, I find it difficult to have a prolonged conversation with someone who’s, let’s say, 6’6”. The simple physicality of it begins to have a negative effect. To a child, especially a small one, adults are all about 10’10”. Even though I’m short to begin with, I bend down or even squat to be at a more equal level with the kid I’m talking to.

So, I think that’s actually a factor. I speak to them at a physically-equal level, or as close as I can get, rather than looming over them like an ancient god with hair-trigger emotions and awful (awe-full) powers. Because, really, isn’t that what adults are in relation to kids? They’re dangerously powerful beings with seemingly-unknowable triggers who will reward or (more likely) punish you according to some indecipherable parameters. Unpredictable godlings. Ya gotta be leery of ‘em.

Don’t be somebody who makes a kid feel like a lesser creature. Be their equal.

A second factor, at a simplistic level, is talking down to them, psychologically in this case rather than physically as in the previous one. I never use that tone of voice to/with any person, whatever their age. You know the one I mean – artificially chirpy and upbeat and speaking a little slowly, like you’d talk to a dog who’s entertaining you. Don’t do it to old people either. Somehow, to me, that’s even ruder than doing to kids. But make no mistake, it’s still completely rude to do it to kids.

Don’t make a kid feel like they’re talking to someone who’d fail the Turing test. Be their equal.

Be honest. That word is kinda fuzzy so let me discuss what I mean. Many adults tend to be not really interested in the conversation generally and specifically in what the kid is saying, and they embrace a generic low-level kind of “unh-huh” response to whatever the kid says.

“I like turtles!”


“I love it when mom takes me to the park!”


Howzabout an actual interaction instead of a dismissive noncomment? Tell the kid that you like turtles, too. Or that you don’t! It’s ok to disagree in a companionable way. Even if you don’t, you can still then ask why s/he does and have a discussion (conversation!) about turtles.

Don’t be all stiff and “adult.” Be their equal.

Smile. If you genuinely feel it. Don’t pretend. That’s another variant of that fake chirpy-voice thing and kids (or anybody) can see through that like Superman looking through cheesecloth. If you’re genuinely interacting with a kid, like you would with an adult friend, you’ll have many opportunities to smile. If you don’t, well, maybe that’s why you’re (generic “you”) not very good at conversing with younger folks. Or anybody?

Don’t be an outside observer to your own conversation, be in it. Be their equal.

Be an equal partner in the conversation, not an adult interacting with a child. Tell them what you think, how you feel, what amazes you and what disgusts you, what excites you and makes you want to do that wonderful thing. And, given that you have had more actual life experience than they have, tell them about the fabulous thing that excited you so much that you actually pursued it and how great that was.

Variations on a theme: Be their equal.

So what’s the summary here?

I am absolutely no expert and, like I said at the start, I don’t think of myself as being especially good at conversing with younger folks. I just talk to people, whatever their age.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

LIFE is Good 2013 memories

Last night I was sailing my yare dream-boat, riding the quantum foam on the Dirac Sea, flying along briskly, propelled by the interstellar wind. Kinda like Winken, Blinken, and Nod, but more, like, ya know, scientific-ish and shit. As you well know, spacetime is not as simple and linear as we perceive it here in our limited human existence on the good Earth; my beautiful dream-boat carried me to a lovely Hilbert space which contained the 2013 LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference. I dropped my sails and my anchor and stopped for a while, breathing in the sweet aroma of this locus.

Spacetime, like my memory palace (aka method of loci), is not a neat, organized place. It flows and swirls in a jumble, nonlinear, nonEuclidian, sometimes nonsensical. Images, vignettes, events, all swirled below me in the crystal clear pseudowater of the 2013LiG Cove. I kicked off my quantum sailing boots, hung them on a bra-ket and dove in, embracing liberating randomness and lovely chaos.

I surfaced and blew a spray of foam (Perhaps creating entire universes as I did so!), cocooned in the warmth of living memories. Inches from my face swam a Purple Vignette – a number of unschooling parents sitting in the hotel bar, playing dress-up and enjoying adult beverages. Oh, that’s an elegant one. Off to my left was a school of Fond Remembrances – laughing children, laughing adults, laughter so omnipresent that the walls themselves seemed to be laughing. I kicked closer to the Schrodinger reef to see what was there or if, indeed, the reef itself was present in this eigenstate.

Yes! Hugging the flowing density matrices growing from the reef, I spied a solitary Splendid Gamer. I looked deeper into the matrix because where there’s one gamer, there are always more. There they are. Intense little devils. Beautiful in their focus. I moved along, unwilling to disturb them further. What’s that sticking up above the rainbow fans? Ah, it’s Stilted Walkers. Several of them. What elegant locomotion. What complex equations of movement they express with their every step. Brilliant, intuitive mathematicians. Hmm, what’s that I hear?

If you’re a diver or snorkeler, you know that the underwater world is far from silent. Even on your sailboat, floating on the quantum foam of the pseudowater of the Dirac Sea, you can hear the creatures of the universe calling from beneath your keel. What I heard in that moment as I floated above the Schrodinger reef, was music, in great variety and projected with great energy. Lovely music. The sound of life and joy, filling the locus and, indeed, the entire Dirac Sea with happiness and love and promise. I heard the wanton warbling of a Wahoo Winkler, the separate singing of a Singular Stochastic Steinberg, a chorus of various small denizens from the vicinity of the Talent Show coral head, and experienced an increase in pseudowater temperature as I was (sur)passed by some Hot Backup Chicks in their radiant glory. Colorful creatures they.

Well, isn’t that lovely? The music of the spheres updated to the quantum reality.

And look, there’s a rare and delightful Dinner With the Coburns squid, jetting across my vision like a shooting star. What a treat! That’s not something you get to experience every day, no matter your eigenstate. And in the near, middle, and far distance, there were more and more and more brilliant and fabulous and delightful memory creatures, filling the LiG2013 cove with their life and their inexhaustible energy. Too numerous to count. Too wonderful to reduce to a mere number by virtue of trying to count them. Just let them be. Let them be and enjoy them for what they are.

Giving myself good advice is a rare thing, so I should heed it. I swam back to my boat and climbed aboard. I did not dry off, seeking instead to bask in the comfort of the exquisite pseudowater on my parched flesh. Luxuriating in the embrace of the memory-pseudowater cheering my wetted self, I hauled anchor, raised sail, and, somewhat reluctantly, departed the LiG2013 Cove. Choosing a heading out onto the Dirac Sea I had every expectation that the interstellar wind and the quantum foam would take me to similarly wonderful places in an appropriate spacetime. Maybe the next galactic island conceals an unimaginably beautiful LiG2014 Cove. Who knows?


Friday, June 21, 2013

Real-world math, real-world thinking


Why I hate riddles, crossword puzzles, brain teasers, et alii


Y’all know this one.

As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks. Every sack had seven cats. Every cat had seven kits. Kits, cats, sacks, wives, how many were going to St. Ives?

The creator of the riddle is doing a first-level misdirection to tease the audience into “incorrectly” answering by multiplying all those sevens. (And the “smartest” of them will remember to add in the husband. Can’t distract me with those sevens. Ha!) The answer he wants from you is One. Only *I* was going to St. Ives. And here, in a nutshell, is the seed of my discontent with the things I listed in my title.

Narrow thinking. The creator of the riddle is thinking only of how wonderfully tricky and brilliant he is. Nothing else matters. The purpose of the thing is to fool the reader. As the reader, I am offended by that. Ask me an honest question. Even a difficult and/or complex one. I’ll work on it. I’ll work hard and get back to you with my very best response. But if your purpose is simply to belittle me and dazzle me with your wit by fooling me, then fuck you.

Suppose this riddle were on a grade-school math quiz at the end of a session about multiplying by seven(s). I guarantee most of the students in the class would understand that the teacher expected them to do the 7X7Xetc. And they would ignore the “logic puzzle” aspect of just who might be going to St. Ives. In that case, the “correct” answer would be…

Well, waitaminit. How many whats were going to St. Ives. People? That’d produce one answer. All mature living things? That’s a different answer. All living things? Yet another (different!) answer. All the things? So, we definitely need to include the sacks. But how about the peoples’ clothes? We are not given any information about their apparel. Therefore, in that case, the problem is impossible to answer.

Let’s forget math class for a minute and go to logic class. While it’s true that the problem states directly that *I* was going to St. Ives, it does not say that the polyamorous feline transporters weren’t. I can easily imagine that *I*, travelling alone, would be more efficient (faster) than such an encumbered group and would, in the course of his journey, overtake that group as they, too, were heading to St. Ives.

But wait!

We are offered no (ZERO!) information about the rest of the St. Ives road. Are there other travelers ten yards from our scenario whom the author fails to mention? Travellers ten miles away? Travellers a hundred miles away? In either direction? What kind of road is it? Hiking trail? Secondary highway? West Texas Interstate with a speed limit of 85MPH? (Yes!) Were they all at a rest stop? At an off-ramp McDonalds? We need more data!

We are not given enough information to give a definitive answer to this “question” because it is so poorly constructed! Just like most school math tests. And it is purposefully designed to hoodwink the reader, just like all riddles, crossword clues, etc.

None of that for me, thanks.



Thursday, May 02, 2013

Sixty-five and Counting

On April 27th I had my sixty-fifth birthday. Seems like I should say something meaningful because logic says I should have accumulated some knowledge, if not wisdom, after all that experience. Hmmmm. Ok.
My life has spanned a fascinating slice of time. I was born just a few years after the first detonation of a nuclear weapon and a bit more than a year before the USSR detonated First Lightning, their first-ever nuclear device. I was in school when radical fundamentalist Christians shoehorned “God” into the Pledge of Allegiance and onto our money. I was raised in New Orleans to be a 19th-century gentleman. I had music lessons and dance lessons. I trained with a French fencing master. Yes, fencing. (I told you, nineteenth-century style.) Went through the Catholic grammar school system then tested for and earned a place in the prestigious Jesuit prep school, the College of the Immaculate Conception, aka Jesuit High. Attended college on a National Merit scholarship. (You know that meme that goes around about the Harvard entrance exam from 18nn, when they ask how you would do on it? That's the test I was educated to take. I told you - raised to be a nineteenth-century gentleman - that's not hyperbole.) Participated in a variety of sports, like any good, red-blooded Southern boy, but spent the most time as a gymnast. Blah, blah, blah.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, Jim Crow was in full force under the aegis of government and culture but being challenged from the top (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954) and from the bottom (Rosa Parks et alii). Life in the South was getting complicated for a naive young fellow who was being groomed to be an Elite White Man. Unfortunately for the established power structure, this particular young fellow had been raised by thoughtful parents who truly believed in the core tenets of their religion and society: Love your neighbor as yourself. All men are created equal. I decided I disagreed with the concept of becoming an Elite White Man. Similarly, I decided that I was no longer convinced that an invisible supernatural entity in the sky was really there, watching sparrows fall and interfering with my day-to-day life. Thus began my journey toward being an individual, wading against the tide of society and culture.
That period in my life was more than a half century ago. In the decades since then, sometimes that tide has flooded strongly and the wading was difficult. Sometimes the tide was ebbing swiftly and the wading was easy. But it was, and still is, always an effort to make your own way against the tide. And sometimes I have lots of energy and am strongly motivated to wade. Other times, I am enervated and even facing an ebbing tide is (almost) too much burden to bear.

We do what we can. That’s all anybody can do.
What have I distilled from 65 years of life and more than half a century of wading against the tide? Ya do what you can and, in the end, only kindness matters.

Yes, I linked to, and like, a Jewel song. Surprised? Is it surprising that I can still surprise you?  (Just ignore that “god” stuff. Or not. Your choice.)
Well, good!

My hands are small. Yeah, I know. I’m a little guy. Been a little guy my whole life. So what? Maybe mine can’t do as much as yours can. Maybe they can do more than yours can. Doesn’t matter. Mine can do what they can do, what I choose to do with them, and yours can do what you choose to do with them. Like the knight says in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “Choose wisely.”
And remember - We’re all ok; and in the end, only kindness matters.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SCUBA SSUDs 2013 Cozumel

Once upon a time, there were some flesh-eating zombies…

No, wait. That’s how I always started my stories when the girls asked me to tell them one.  This story is about unschooling dads (SSUDs stands for the Secret Society of Unschooling Dads) who would get together at conferences (or otherwise) to drink beer and talk about being unschooling dads. Occasionally, one or the other of those dads would joke that we should hold the next meeting in the Caribbean. Eventually, all jokes become reality. At least, this one did. One day while my family was visiting the Gold family, Jon dragged me into his office to discuss making beer-fuelled bullshit a reality.

A lengthy exploration of possibilities finally narrowed down to SCUBA, sailing, and the Caribbean. The ultimate decision was a 10-day sailing excursion in the British Virgin Islands on a 38-foot catamaran with a dive operator coming to our anchorage du jour to pick us up for diving every morning we were in the mood for it. It was a wonderful trip which I reported on, starting here.
That was 2011 and Jon was ready to turn that unique occurrence into an annual event. We didn’t manage to hold a 2012 SSUDs SCUBA vacation but Jon was ready to make 2013 a reality. A review of affordable Caribbean dive destinations led us to choose Cozumel for February 2013. Ok, plan in place! Chatting about it among various unschooling and unschooling dad resources finally resulted in a group of three of us committing to the trip: Jon Gold, instigator-in-chief, Dan Lake, newly-certified diver (the weekend just prior to our departure!), and me.

Jon Gold, Instigator-in-Chief, responsible for all photos

On Saturday, February 16th, I took the Boltbus from downtown Seattle to Portland where Dan and his family picked me up. We had a lovely dinner, then Kristin dropped Dan and me at PDX where we met Jon for our midnight flight to Cozumel. PDX to IAH. Breakfast in Texas. IAH to CZM. Customs, etc. and, by lunchtime, we’re in a cab to the lovely Hotel Cozumel and Resort, our home for the next bunch of days. After checking in and getting settled in our ocean-view room, we headed to the Dive Paradise headquarters right there at the hotel to check in for our dives which would start the next morning.

Dan the man

With all that done, we headed into town for the first of many wonderful local meals. Loads of research had provided us with a list of potential eateries in town and each one was better than the previous one. Even better, all of them were $10 or less for exquisite meals. Yum! But this trip was supposed to be about diving first, with food as an ancillary; so let’s talk about diving.
Yours truly
Monday morning we woke at 6:30 to hit the breakfast buffet in order to have time to eat, return to our room to dress in our SCUBA gear, then get over to the dock for an 8:15 boat departure. The breakfast buffet was a pleasant surprise, an extensive array of foods, including lots of fresh fruit, and an omelette station. Bellies full, we headed back to the room, changed into our dive gear, loaded our gear bags, and walked through the private tunnel under the waterfront highway out to the dock to meet out first diveboat of this trip. And Dan’s first dive ever after his checkout dives to get his Open Water Diver Certification. Cool!

Scrawled filefish

We were on a “Caribbean” (slow) boat, which was large, had sun protection, and a head, but was slow and somewhat full with more than a dozen divers, three divemasters, and a boat captain. We’d signed up to do these slow boats for our first week of diving, then the “fast” boats for our second week. It was a comfortable but long trip to our first dive site where we got our briefing by the head divemaster before dropping into the beautiful clear, warm water.
Nurse shark
All diving in Cozumel is drift diving. That means that we’d descend to our planned depth, adjust our buoyancy, then simply let the current push us along until our bottom time was used up and we had to return to the surface. At the surface, the diveboat would follow us and be ready to pick us up when we ascended. Easiest diving in the world, unless you’re a photographer who wants to stay in one place to get that perfect shot. That becomes hard work. Our first dive was at a nominal 80’. We floated alongside a beautiful reef populated by a variety of fishes with very large specimens in evidence. A lovely introduction to Cozumel diving. Soon enough, it was time to return to the surface and climb back aboard the boat.

A short, slow ride to our second dive site and an hour of surface interval before our second dive gave us all a little time to clear our palates with fresh fruit and chat about what we saw on our first dive. Eventually, we dropped in for our second dive on a shallower reef, a dive of about 60’. Another lovely float along the reef until it was time to return to the boat and return to the dock. Being on the “slow” boat turned this into about a 2:00pm return. That particular day was also a wet and chilly ride during the return but the diving was lovely. We saw lots of big specimens of a great variety of species including octopus, drum fish, groupers, scrawled filefish, and even seahorses. Big ones!

Seahorse - diver's arm to right for scale

We dragged our tired butts back to our room and hung our freshwater-cleaned dive gear on the patio to dry for the next day’s diving. We cleaned ourselves and dressed in comfy, dry shorts, and talked about which restaurant to try. Decision made, we grabbed a cab and headed away from the waterfront into the “local” part of town. Cold drinks in hand and orders placed, we continued our delighted discussion about the day’s dives which had begun during the surface interval after our first dive and continued on the return to the dock after our second dive. A perfect way to wind down after a tiring morning of diving.
Turtle dinner
With happy full bellies, we returned to our room for a much-needed siesta.

Three Amigos

Later in the evening we headed down to sit around the pool with a cold beverage and chat about the day’s diving and anticipation of tomorrow’s underwater journeys.
Tired from the day’s exertions and the previous day’s travel, we retired early to get our rest for the 6:30 wakeup on Diving Day Two.

Days two, three, and four followed in a vein similar to day one, although they were all warmer and more comfortable than day one. Early breakfast buffet, dress in SCUBA gear, get on diveboat, do two dives, return to dock, clean gear, dress in clothes and go to lunch-dinner, return for siesta, hang around pool with adult beverages, crash early for early morning the next day. Phew!
Lionfish - invasive species
Each day had its own uniqueness despite their overall similarities. Day two featured caverns and a wall at depths greater than 100’ with pelagics off in the depths, a large, free-swimming moray, and turtles. Day three had us exploring a wreck and seeing lots of large specimens. Day four provided lots of big fish of a variety of species and our first splendid toadfish, a creature unique to Cozumel. Hooray!
Splendid toadfish (file photo)

Friday, which would have been day five of diving, was, instead, a day off to sleep in late, relax, shop, and refresh ourselves for our switch to fast-boat diving for the following four days.
Saturday Morning started our second week on Cozumel and our return to an early wakeup in order to get to the dock in time to catch our fast boat. The fast boats represent a tradeoff. They’re faster than the slow boats, getting you to the dive site and back in a more timely fashion than the slow boats and holding a maximum of six divers rather than a dozen or even more like the slow boats. However, they feature no protection from the sun, have no toilet, and can be a merciless bucking bronco of a ride when the seas are not smooth. That was a significant factor on our first fast-boat day. By the time we arrived at our first dive site, everybody felt bruised and battered and one guy looked a bit greenish.
Reef crab

Once we dropped into the water, however, all discomfort was forgotten. We were back in our weightless, three-dimensional element. This marked the beginning of our next four days of diving, this time on the fast boats, ensuring us a somewhat earlier return to the hotel for cleanup and lunch-dinner. Siesta following, of course. Every day a new adventure.
Night adventures, too! Night dive photo
Eventually, our days ran out and it was time to return to the workaday world but SCUBA SSUDs 2013 Cozumel will not soon be forgotten.

Is it Irish to kiss a green Moray?


Friday, February 08, 2013

[Something] Radical Unschooler

There’s been a lot of discussion in my feed lately about foo radical unschooling. It’s making me a little twitchy, so I’m gonna write this commentary.

We’re Christian/Jewish/Muslim/LOA/whatever-belief-system Radical Unschoolers. Everything we do, every moment of our existence, is informed by our belief system.

We’re Vegan/vegetarian/paleo/raw/lactose/gluten/whatever-belief-system Radical Unschoolers. Everything we do, every moment of our existence, is informed by our belief system.

We’re Voluntaryist/libertarian/anarchocapitalist/conservative/liberal/whatever-belief-system Radical Unschoolers. Everything we do, every moment of our existence, is informed by our belief system.

We’re Offended by TV/movies/videogames/whatever-belief-system Radical Unschoolers. Everything we do, every moment of our existence, is informed by our belief system.


Well, this is my blog where I sometimes speak bluntly. Having read hundreds of comments recently, I’m gonna push back against your self-labelling and say that you are NOT really a radical unschooler. Sorry.

You are an LOA believer (or libertarian or vegan or videogame hater) who talks about unschooling and folds it into your LOA (or whatever) when it’s convenient and when it fits your weltanschauung; but radical unschooling is not a genuine part of your core weltanschauung. It’s an add-on. It’s one more app you’ve bought for the iPhone which your life and you don’t really understand it and you certainly don’t know how to use it except in the simplest of terms; but you bought it and feel that you own it and can use it however you like. You own "radical unschooling," by the gawds, and can do with it as you please.

You demur that you’re not some clueless newbie, you’ve read Holt, Sandra’s site, Joyce’s site, Pam’s writings, and an endless string of other long-time unschooling writers. You’ve read the discussion lists. You’re au courant.

Again, I push back against your assertion. If you think that telling your kids that refined white sugar is poison and preventing them from eating it makes you a nutritionist unschooler, I say you’re wrong. It makes you a “nutritionist” who makes claims to unschooling which you cannot support.

Years ago, Australian unschooler Arun had a lengthy “discussion” on his blog. He and his wife were/are organic farmers but they were radical unschoolers, so when their kids wanted to eat white sugar, they did. Arun’s friends, farming peers, and assorted “nutritionists” bombarded him with the warnings that he was poisoning his kids. He simply couldn’t do that, in good conscience. It was WRONG!

But Arun was a radical unschooler who was also an organic farmer. He was NOT an “Organic Farmer” radical unschooler. His weltanschauung was radical unschooling.

So, my opinion, which you are always free to disagree with, is that you should think long and hard before labelling yourself a [Something] Radical Unschooler. Seems to me that your “something” has a strong propensity for getting in the way of your relationship with your children.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Compleat Music Room

...with apologies to Izaak Walton. (wink)

We've been building toward having an actual complete (or compleat) music room for a while now but we're finally functionally finished, with the addition of the new PA and mixer.

On the North wall, we have (from left to right, which is West to East):

Fender Princeton 65 sitting on an extra speaker cabinet.

Fender Bassman 100 watt amp head sitting on that big cabinet (Both covered in fabulous burgundy snakeskin tolex!) which sports twin JBL D130F 15" speakers. How totally awesome is that? Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM! (Now I owe apologies to Vachel Lindsay. Where will it end?)

The small box on the very top is my wireless instrument receiver. It sits on

My Sennheiser wireless microphone receiver, which sits on

The powered mixer, which features six inputs (Cool!) and which sits on

A Peavey amp head, which is sometimes useful and sometimes merely an objet d'art.

The Northeast corner has:

PA speaker on the shelf (small tv/stereo surround speaker on top of it)

Yamaha DTXpress electronic drums on the floor, with my electric guitar and djembes obscuring 'em.

The East wall is the slider to the deck and back yard.

The Southeast corner has:

The other PA speaker (with the other small tv/stereo surround speaker on top of it). Not a great photo, leaving the speaker up in the shadows.

The South side has bookshelves flanking a window and my mom's old sewing machine.

The Southwest corner:

Is where my keyboards live.

The West side is the open arch to the livingroom. (Obscured by the roll-out tv cabinet.)

The Northwest corner:

is where the guitars live.

So, there you have it. We are ready to rock and roll!

Hobby Lobby brouhaha

Some thoughts about the Hobby Lobby situation…

The First Amendment (Bill of Rights – U.S. Constitution).

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Right off the bat, we have a problem with the word “right.” There are many interpretations of this word but I‘m gonna stick with the legal (functional!) usage. Libertarians, beware.

Rights are not absolute. In the two-hundred-plus years of our history, several limitations have been enumerated on each of the rights listed in this amendment. You’re all familiar with the classic limitation example on speech – yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. There’s actually quite a lengthy list of restrictions on this right, just as there are limitations on all of these rights. In the Hobby Lobby case, we’re talking about religious rights; so let’s examine that.

In 1878, while considering polygamy, the Supreme Court said, "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious beliefs and opinions, they may with practices." They maintained that polygamy, like human sacrifice, could be litigated against, despite a plaintiff’s religious beliefs.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said about White soi-disant Christians and their beliefs about Black men, It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.” In reality, the law sometimes couldn’t even prosecute lynchings, much less prevent them; but that’s a problem with function, not theory.

These days, the salient concept is “compelling interest.” Whether it’s Seventh Day Adventists working on Saturday, Native Americans taking peyote, or Santeria animal sacrifice, the Supreme Court relies, at root, on “compelling interest,” principally because of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was reaffirmed in the 2006 Gonzalez v. UDV ruling.

Hobby Lobby’s position, as far as I can tell (For that matter, this entire philippic is just my opinion based on my limited knowledge of what’s actually going on here.), is that they believe that IUDs, “Plan B,” and Levonelle are abortifacients and their sole resistance to complying with the law is based on those particular items. Aside from the fact that this belief is scientifically/factually incorrect, other evangelical Christians who tried to talk to the Hobby Lobby about their position were turned away by security forces. Those evangelicals wanted to say to Hobby Lobby that these devices and pills are not abortifacients but are simply a different form of contraception, which Hobby Lobby claims to support. The petition from these evangelicals states that Hobby Lobby is simply using their “faith” as an excuse to oppose health care reform and deny women access to birth control.


The reality is that the lower courts have denied Hobby Lobby’s challenge and now they’ve lost their appeal to the Supreme Court. That leaves Hobby Lobby in the position where they have the choice to comply with the law or pay the fine. Render unto Caesar, folks. It’s that simple. Your religious beliefs do not constitute a unilateral right and they do not trump the rights of your employees in your secular business.

Me, I believe that these Medieval flat-earthers simply hate living in the real America, which is not a fundamentalist theocracy, and this is a cri de coeur against the cruel truth of reality and the harsh truth of science which contradicts their weltanschauung daily. As Neil deGrasse Tyson so bluntly stated, “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance."

But that’s just my belief, which has very little bearing on reality.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Pyle 602 mixer

So, I think our music room is now pretty complete. I just added a Pyle RBPMX602M mixer to power the PA speakers.     

It's compact, powerful, has 6 inputs for XLR or 1/2" connections, has USB and MP3 inputs, and it was very affordable. The Greybeards are now ready to have some serious practice sessions here! Let's rock and roll!