Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Imus in trouble again

Well, Don Imus has once again opened his mouth and stuck his foot squarely into it. The blogosphere (for the record, I think "blogosphere" is one of the dumbest words ever) is abuzz with his latest possibly racist remarks.

But I'm not writing about that. No, this blog is not going to even address Don's stupid remarks. This blog is above such petty arguments. I want to talk about another aspect of Mr. Imus.

His face.

Seriously, is it just me, or is that guy not the ugliest thing ever created? I mean, look at him:

I understand now where the phrase "a face made for radio" comes from. Imus seems to transcend any acceptable level of ugliness, though. It's like he was cloned from an old alligator-skin boot. I don't mean he's just Bobcat-Goldthwait-ugly:

I'm talking about even more than Rodney-Dangerfield-ugly:


Imus is in a whole class to himself. I think if the hairy angler had crawled out of the ocean and evolved into humans, maybe we would all look almost as bad as Imus:

At some point in the past, he even made poor hair choices. Seriously, Don? A perm?





Monday, June 23, 2008

What If?

I finally finished reading What If?, a collection of alternate history essays. Each essay takes a single event in history and analyzes how things might look differently today had that event occurred in a different way. One of the more intriguing essays was about Cortez and his conquest of what is today Mexico. This still stands as one of the most lopsided wars in history, and had Cortez not pulled it off North America would be a very different place today.

One author brought up another what-if question that I thought was interesting. Effectively, he spoke of the what-ifs that we don’t even know of. Take World War I as an example: how many poets, scientists, artists, or diplomats died as a result of that conflict? We can’t even know how different the world would be had some of those people lived out their lives fully. We have no idea what we’re missing out on because of the way things weren’t…

I, however, ended up reading this book from a much more personal perspective: what are the choices I’m making today, right now, that seem small but determine what my life will look like years from now? What if I hadn’t offered to give that girl a ride to a Bible study, the girl who I ended up marrying and has now born me two children? What if my fellow engineering student hadn’t mentioned to the USA recruiter that I was particularly interested in working here, leading to him calling me back? What if my parents had turned down the opportunity to live overseas, and take their children with them?

As some of you know, a friend of mine recently made a choice that will change every day for the rest of her life. At the time, it probably didn’t seem like too big of a deal, but the consequences of that seemlingly fleeting decision are literally life-altering, for her and everyone around her.

But, maybe there are other factors at work. Maybe God, or Destiny, or Whatever You Want To Call It, simply manipulates the dice to put us in this place right now. Maybe Cortez couldn’t have lost. Maybe there was no other way but for him to win. Maybe there is no Alternate Universe where I didn’t give the girl a ride. Maybe this is all the way it has to be.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Imagination

On the way home yesterday I listened to a commencement speech given at Harvard by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Christians often demonize her work, or Ms. Rowling herself, but I would challenge them to find a more compelling and convicting speech than this.

Rowling speaks of humans as being the only animals capable of imagining ourselves into situations we've never experienced ourselves. Without ever having met someone, we can picture ourselves living their lives. She speaks of her time with Amnesty International and some of the horrific experiences she heard of, and how she had to deal with imagining undergoing those same experiences.

How often do we, as privileged Westerners, bury our heads in the sand and ignore what happens in the world? We (and I say "we" because I do it all the time) drive into our gated communities, watch cable TV but change channels if there's a "sad" story, and try to not imagine the atrocities happening to others. There are horrible things happening in the world right now: babies being slaughtered in front of their mothers in Darfur, people locked up in Chinese prisonsfor practicing their religion, and children starving in Myanmar because their government didn't want to admit there was a problem.

As Americans, we have the strongest voice in the world. If anyone on this planet is listened to, it is the American voter. We have more of an ability to drive change than anyone else in the world. As Rowling says in her speech, we should focus less on associating with the powerful, and focus more on associating with the powerless.

So thank you, Ms. Rowling. I have no idea what your religious viewpoints are, but you have challenged me today as an American, a Christian, and a human. Maybe I'll raise my head out of the sand a little and take a look at the Real World around me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yep, she did it again.

We had another Code Brown episode last night. And this one was a Level 5. (Poop-in-the-tub events are rated on a 1-5 scale, 1 being a single minor floater, to 5 which is cloudy brown water). The problem with last night was that, before we could get Vanilla Bean out of the tub, she'd managed to splash around a little. As a result, well, you get the idea...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Worst ad ever

I saw the following on a marquee board on Saturday: "Get Dad what he really wants for Father's Day."

The marquee board was in front of a strip club.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

God-given rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….”
-Thomas Jefferson, United States Declaration of Independence

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote ruled that detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility have the right to challenge their detention in federal court. In a dissent authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, the minority stated that the “nation will live to regret what the court has done today.”

The subject of the rights of military detainees has been a political hot-topic for some time now. The rights of illegal immigrants have also come up in different contexts. This idea of the rights of Americans versus the rights of everyone else in the world is one I find personally challenging. Do I really believe that all men are created equal and have certain rights that are given to them, not by other men, but by God Himself? If so, what are those rights?

I have to think that rights like due diligence of the law and medical care are rights that, if given to one, must be given to all. If the U.S. is going to stand by these beliefs, we should be fighting to give these rights to everyone we can. Obviously our government cannot provide these rights to citizens of other countries, people who are under the authority of foreign governments. But once they are on our soil or in our custody - once they are in our care, for whatever reason - who are we to say that these rights still don’t apply to them? If we provide the right of a trial by jury to a criminal in Omaha, why do I not have to provide that same right to an alleged enemy combatant captured in Iraq? If I have to provide basic medical care to the homeless American citizen, how can I then deny it to a Mexican immigrant, just because he’s a Mexican immigrant? Where does it say that a person’s nationality, or actions, or belief system, determines whether their Creator endowed them with His unalienable Rights?

It’s not an easy concept. But I believe that everyone has basic rights, and that Man is not wise enough to determine who should and should not have access to those rights. Those detainees deserve a trial by jury, not because they’re guaranteed it in any constitutional sense, but because they’re human beings, and all human beings deserve a fair shot at proving their innocence, even the terrorists. The illegal immigrant deserves basic medical care, not because my Congressmen voted a certain way, but because the immigrant is a human being, and we are charged with caring for our fellow human beings.

I know I’m being na├»ve in some of my statements. The issues of how we provide social services to millions of illegal immigrants or how we maintain our security while providing fair treatment are not simple to solve. But it’s not enough to just say we won’t do it. We can’t say that. Those Rights are unalienable for a reason.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Oops, I did it again

Well, Vanilla Bean has developed quite the habit: pooping in the tub. She did it again the other night, for probably the tenth or fifteenth time. We've tried to understand the pattern so we can intervene early, but there doesn't seem to be one. She'd already had two dirty diapers that day and was just playing in the tub with the Monkey. One minute she's happy, sucking on some toy, and the next minute she's still happy, but surrounded by a pool of her own filth. And that's when chaos ensues.

Well, not chaos really. Ann and I have developed a well-coordinated strategy for dealing with this situation:
  • As soon as I see what's happened, I call a "Code Brown." This alerts Ann, who is usually in the other room getting the kids' pajamas ready, that we need to move into RTR (Rapid Tub Retrieval).
  • I pull Vanilla Bean out of the tub while alerting the Monkey to the situation. Before the cloud can move to his end of the tub and contaminate him, he jumps out.
  • By this point, Ann has closed in with a towel that she wraps around Vanilla Bean. She then puts her in the bathroom sink and bathes her again.
  • I deal with the Monkey. If he's managed to avoid the cloud, I dry him off and set him up doing something that will keep him busy while I move to the next step.
  • Cleanup. This is by far the worst part. Using my bare hands (a slotted spoon would work but, let's face it, would be ruined), I scoop the chunks out of the tub and into the toilet which is, mercifully, near the tub. I then drain the tub and hope that all the chunks make it down the drain.
  • I wash my hands. Five times. In scalding hot water.

Once the kids are in bed, we put all the tub toys in the dishwasher, and then at some point we have to scrub down the tub as well.

We mentioned this problem to the pediatrician. I just ASSUMED that with four years of medical school and years of experience, she'd have some sort of solution. She basically said something along the lines of, "Well, that sucks." Thanks, doc.