conuly: (Default)
Every time I read the comments to an article that touch on ANY linguistic subject, I'm going to look up That One Chaucer Quote first. Then I'll just spam it at people who talk about "dumbing down" language, or "the decline of civilization", or "wild-eyed linguists and psychologists", or anything else along those lines.

Ahem:

Ye knowe eek, that in forme of speche is chaunge
Withinne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho
That hadden prys, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem; and yet they spake hem so,
And spedde as wel in love as men now do;
Eek for to winne love in sondry ages,
In sondry londes, sondry ben usages.

Long story short, Geoffrey is getting at the fact that language changes and we'd all damn well better get used to it already. This isn't news, folks! Chaucer knew it, Shakespeare knew it, you'd better all figure it out!
conuly: (Default)
Also, goggles. They got these awesome (yet freaky!) goggles that, when they put them on, make them appear to have these huge staring eyes.

Picked up the bathing suits at The Children's Place on Union Square. And right on display in the front was a shirt with the inscription "Most Likely To Spend Daddy's Money".

Is it just me (and it's not) or is that fairly misogynistic and more than a little inappropriate for your daughter to wear? You're not likely to see that shirt on the "boy side" of the store (where the closest equivalent is... well, there's nothing there about spending money.

I didn't say anything there, because the cashiers didn't ask for this, but I went to the website today to consider complaining about it. (That'd make this the second time I email them to make a complaint about their shirt selections, the last time because every single time they put a cartoon face on a shirt it's a white kid, and after five years of browsing their site I started to feel it was a little ridiculous.)

Check out the shirt and the information about it.

Now I'm really pissed. "Haha, Mommy doesn't spend her own money, she spends Daddy's too!" Anybody else care to email them? For those of us not yet living in the 21st century, email is a way of communicating with people and corporations online, and apparently of upbraiding them for their archaic sexism.
conuly: (werewolf theothernight)
When I leave a long, thoughtful review on how a certain book sends the message that it's okay for autistic people to kill themselves because, after all, it's not like we fit in, there are a number of correct responses to that.

Not a single one of those responses is "Please use person first language!" Not even as part of another response.

Because seriously? Fuck that shit right there. This is exactly the problem! If you can't remember which people are really people because we don't all talk funny? That's all on you. That's not my concern. Maybe if you didn't think we all had to talk funny first you'd be more on top of having people love and accept their autistic family members.

I am done. I am no longer even going to reply to people who think it's oh-so-crucial to call me out on my use of the word "autistic" when that word does, in fact, apply to me.

(And it really bugs me because I couldn't care less if you use person-first language or not. This is me, not caring. But do I get the same respect and consideration about my language choices, when I promise you I've thought more deeply about it than they have? No, no I do not.)

Tomorrow maybe I'll feel bad for being snippy towards this person, but honestly: STOP telling people to use person-first language! It's really not God's gift to human discourse.

*eyeroll*

Nov. 2nd, 2011 10:58 am
conuly: (food)
http://community.nytimes.com/comments/well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/a-thanksgiving-feast-no-turkeys-allowed

It's a post with some vegetarian recipes for Thanksgiving. As the author says, even non-vegetarians can use these recipes as side dishes along with their meat-of-choice.

And some of those recipes look really good, although fat chance trying to convince the nieces to eat butternut anything. (Still, do you think it'd go well with that shrimp dish?)

92 comments in, and most of them are "OMG! Vegetarians are so terrible! This is an assault on my freedom! How stupid they are to think they'll stop me from eating meat! Nom nom nom! Those meanies!"

Now, I agree, some veg*ns can be terrible, annoying people who are determined to convince everybody to stop eating what they like ever. (And to them I say you do much more good convincing three people to eat half as much meat than you do convincing one person to eat no meat and two people to eat twice as much because they hate you.) There are people like that in EVERY group.

None of them are posting comments over there today, though. Bunch of hypocrites, all of them, whining about how vegetarians are judging THEIR diets!
conuly: (can't)
THEY'RE NOCTURNAL!

So when you finally finish what you have to do in the evening, and hop into bed, and turn off the light - guess what? You're only going to get 10 or 20 of your winks because at 4:30 on the dot the kittens are going to start racing around madly in a fight to the death. My alarm went off at 6:10 (yeah, like that was gonna happen) and by 6:20, when I absolutely HAD to get up, the kittens had decided to curl up and sleep again. Great timing there.

Did I mention they did this on my bed? Yeah, a few weeks ago mama cat figured out they couldn't jump up onto that bed, so she started hanging out there. But then the kittens learned how to climb up there, and now they stay on the bed as much as possible, which is GREAT when they're sleeping and quiet and cuddly, but not so much when they're trying to kill everything that moves, and also me.

Also, they can't get down on their own, which means their mom likes to climb up there, mrowp so they follow her, and then jump down and leave them stranded while she goes about her day. Guess who gets tasked with kitten retrieval?

The obvious solution here, of course, would be to lock the kittens in the kitchen for the night. But then I wouldn't be able to snuggle them right before bed!

Man, whoever domesticated cats.... I like cats just fine myself, but what genius first thought "Hey! A nocturnal killing machine! I'm gonna bring it into my house and see if it'll sit on my lap and lick me with its icky mouse breath!"?

(Logical punctuation is a fine thing, but sometimes it looks really funny. Not that the standard way would look any less funny.)

UGH!

Oct. 10th, 2011 10:34 pm
conuly: (can't)
The Goblin War came out today. Now, if you don't ask, they often don't stock Hilari Bell. So I dutifully went and ordered the book to be delivered to the bookstore so Jenn could pick it up. Mail delivery is too haphazard around here. (We're on the longest route in the city, so we constantly have new carriers.)

AND THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT IN TODAY!!!!

So now I have to wait, and they also didn't have Happy Pig Day in stock, which is just the icing on the cake.

Also, the kittens are litter training. Which in effect means they're making little messes all around the house. A while back one of you complained that cats seemingly potty train faster than children, and I pointed out that when children potty train, they stay trained, something which isn't always true of cats. Also, when children are very little, they're typically in diapers. When cats are very little, their moms have to lick their butts and clean it up with their tongues, which, if you ask me, means that humans win hands down.

But here's another way in which having a human toddler is preferable. When your little human child is potty training, you probably only have one of them, and multiple adults. When it's kittens, it's the other way around. Sure, Mama Cat helps - but there's one of her and five of them!

Honestly, it's even worse than the fact that they aren't fully clear on the whole "wow, my claws retract" concept yet.
conuly: (brain)
I've said it before, and I'll say it again in response to each and every one of these (but, you know, say it in your head, I'm not retyping it every time) - some people just don't like to read.

Read more... )
conuly: (brain)
Honestly, I'm not sure any schools in the city do, they focus a lot on reading. (And come to think of it, I'm not sure they do enough science either, but that's another issue.)

So I've started going extra math with the nieces in the evening. Not much, but a few minutes here and there, that's my plan. Just as a supplement, right?

Yeah.

Ana goes "MORE math? REALLY?" and I know she needs to review basic math facts (I'm going to absolutely go through my Games with Math book and start doing one every day, she has got to get her addition and subtraction through 20 memorized, it'll make her life much easier) and sneaks books and changes the subject and generally tries to derail the whole process. (She also needs to work on freezing up when questions are initially hard looking or when she feels she has insufficient time, and on working out what to do with word problems.)

Evangeline goes "Can I do another? Can I do another?" and sneaks the workbooks away from me and does extra pages on her own time. She does stuff where, logically, she shouldn't know what to do because I haven't read the instructions - but she works it out anyway, automatically filling in the right letter to the box or whatnot. This is a girl who is just good at doing workbooks, who is just good at taking tests. It's not fair, you know? They're both more than smart enough, but Evangeline is going to be lucky through school if she continues being good at taking tests.

Of course, Evangeline is also reading now. Ana, of course, is into graphic novels. The other day we took car service (as we do every week) to the YMCA for swimming, and it was a blissful change from most weeks when they talk loudly, squabble, play "INVISIBLE PUNCHBUGGY NO HITBACKS!", fidget a lot, and generally test my patience. This week Ana took out two books, handed the first one in the series to her sister, took the second for herself, and they sat and read right up until I actually dragged Evangeline into the changing room. Evangeline mostly studied the pictures and sounded out a few words, but still - it was quiet! SO QUIET!

And since I'm being random, on the subject of changing rooms, is there a reason I'm the only one who insists my little kidlet change in and out of her own clothes? It's not like the people "helping" their kids are getting out of there any faster than I am. And am I wrong for thinking it's a bit absurd (I'd say daft, but it's not actually in my dialect and would sound weird if I did say it) that, in the girl's changing room, where Evangeline is the oldest child (boys can go in up until the age of six, but the other children in the room were all 4 and under), people are holding up towels for their kids to change behind, and shooing them back behind the towels? Isn't under six (under 4!) a bit young for that sort of affected modesty in a changing room? Am I weird for the fact that I don't object to Evangeline just, you know, changing her clothes in the normal way? (And when she's older and starts asking for that sort of modesty, isn't that what the separate changing areas in the women's locker room are for? That's certainly why Ana changes in there - she dislikes the chance of being in a room even with small boys to change, and she likes having a separate, closed-off stall to change in if she pleases.) For that matter, there are two (two!) closed-off single-stall bathrooms in the girl's changing room, and four shower stalls. If this level of modesty is really needed, wouldn't it make more sense to just appropriate one of them for a few minutes rather than do the whole "behind-the-towel" dance? It makes sense in a public area like the playground or the beach, but in the actual changing room?

I mean, it's not like I'm letting Evangeline run around the place naked, but for the brief moments between off with the bathing suit and on with the panties (let alone her actual clothing, by which point I really don't care), does it matter if she's, well, naked? In the changing room? AM I THE WEIRD ONE HERE?

(It may just be this group. LAST session we had swimming on Wednesdays, and though there was much "helping", nobody did the towel thing that I saw. THIS session we're on Tuesdays, different group of kids, and it was towels all over the place.)
conuly: (can't)
Before you get a pet you can't take care of, learn how to take care of that pet. Over in P101 there's a post from this woman agonizing over whether or not to tell her kid that he killed his fish.

Further commentary reveals that the fish is probably dying due to poor conditions because, as the OP says, she knows "nothing about fish". If you know nothing about fish, why the hell do you even HAVE a fish? Get some other pet you DO know something about!

For crying out loud, people don't even trust they can have their children without reading up on the subject, and you're *supposed* to know a little about the care and feeding of humans, being one yourself. This woman won't even make a non-life-and-death decision (about telling her two year old what happened to the fish) without consulting us... but she's going to take care of her fish without even finding out HOW to take care of a fish without it going belly up?

Sure, you say her kid is more important than a fish, and that's probably true from most perspectives (excepting that of the fishie, of course, but what do you expect?), but all the same. Don't get a pet you can't take care of. Sheesh. Isn't this just basic common sense?
conuly: (brain)
And there's scads of comments going "Well, my kid watches TV at a very young age, but that's okay, everything in moderation - and besides, it's just background noise! He does other things!"

TV on as "background noise" isn't magically different from other types of "background noise" - say, heavy chatter, jackhammers, living under the flight path, lots of traffic, or loud rock music.

TV on as "background noise" interferes with your child's ability to focus and concentrate. Sure, your kid's still "doing other things" while "not actually" watching TV - but they're not spending as much time on any one activity as they would with the TV turned off.

TV on as "background noise" makes it harder for your child to hear things they should be hearing - like speech. Your child will not learn to speak from watching TV, and having the TV on "just in the background" will make it harder for your child to learn to speak because they can't hear YOU speaking as clearly, nor filter out speech from noise.

Saying "Well, they're not vegged out in front of the TV, so that's all right" is wrong. It is factually incorrect. It is NOT all right.

And then they go "everything in moderation". Man, that phrase pisses me off, not least because nobody really believes it. They don't use that phrase when talking about things nobody does with their kids. "Should I let my kid have some of my pot? Sure, everything in moderation! Should I let my 5 year old drive? Sure, just not on the highway - everything in moderation! Should I let my kid skip school once a week? Sure, everything in moderation - school is part of everything, isn't it?" And they don't really use it when talking about things we all think we need more of. "Should I get more than 10 minutes of exercise a day? Nah, you don't want to do it, exercise in moderation. Should I brush my teeth after dinner? Well, you brushed after breakfast, let's not go overboard - do it in moderation! Should I drag my lazy butt off to work today? Sheesh, work, you went just last week, everything in moderation! Hey, there's a winning lottery ticket on the ground, should I pick it up? What would you do with all that money? Being rich isn't something you can do in moderation!"

No, what they mean seems to be something like "I think this is a bad idea, but I find it convenient to pretend it's not... so long as I don't do it "too much", a vague term I'm not about to define for you."

It's all so sketchy. If you think you need to plop your baby (because this is who we're talking about, babies) in front of the television so you can handle things which are difficult to do with an undistracted baby floating about - go ahead and do that. And if you think it's a bad thing for them, go ahead and do NOT do that. But don't go around with weaselly little phrases like "everything in moderation" like it's okay so long as your child doesn't fit some arbitrary set of characteristics, like looking at the TV or something.
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
Recently she's begun overcoming this - as I say and have said before, she's finally hit the terrible twos.

And for the most part, this is a good thing. She doesn't let Ana walk all over her anymore. If she wants to play Princess and Ana relegates her to the role of the baby, she doesn't just say "Okay" about it. If Ana decides something is gross or ugly or stupid, she doesn't just agree and put it down. For that matter, she'll now occasionally pick something without waiting to just copy what Ana picks! (That was the source of 18 months worth of consternation on Ana's part, who took to whispering in my ear.)

She stands up for herself, and for the most part, I'm happy to see this.

Of course, she's also started occasionally throwing tantrums. And when I say this, you have to understand that she basically never threw tantrums at three, or four. The only event I can even remember stands out because of how pathetic it was - she said she didn't want to nap, and then she took her mouth close to my hand and pretended to bite me. It was the most inept tantrum I've ever seen in my life, and she was all done in half an hour anyway.

I mean, she did throw tantrums before, occasionally, but not many and they were over quickly and almost always when she was extremely tired.

She actually threw two tantrums at the Y this week. The first one, after swimming, she refused to get out of her bathing suit and refused to get back INTO her bathing suit, so she just sat there half naked and screamed (until somebody came in and told her they could hear her outside. Then she stopped.) She also held onto her chair with all her might, and after determining that it'd be really hard to get her to stop without hurting either her or me (and hurting a little half-naked child in the locker room of the Y has got to be the worst possible ending to a tantrum EVER) I resolved to just wait her out (I didn't know they could hear her outside either) by sitting as far away as possible.

That ended fairly well, once she realized they could hear her outside. (And to her credit, she didn't scream today either.)

Her tantrum today started when she realized that her outfit for Tae Kwon Do was too big. I sympathized, but once again she refused to either take it off or keep it on. (Plus, you don't get your way by STARTING with a tantrum.) I managed to wrestle her into it, but then she neither wanted to leave nor go to class. So we stood at the door while I tried to convince her to just make a choice already. ANY choice.

While she's there whining (no screaming at the Y!) a woman comes up and asks "Do you need help?"

I figure she means, like, help manhandling her or bribing her to behave, and I go "No thanks". As she elucidated later, she meant psychiatric help, but we'll get to that.

After this comment followed what has to have been the worst-timed conversation I've ever had.

Busybody: Well, she's clearly upset about something!
My thoughts: No duh!
Me: Yes, well, she can't just whine about it. Evangeline, are we staying or going?
Busybody: Well, if she doesn't want to go to class, you shouldn't force her.
My thoughts: Aside from the fact that I'm NOT, I'm glad you have money to throw away like that.
Me: Well, I can't stay here, her sister is out in the waiting room with her homework.
Busybody: There must be something wrong.
Me: Her outfit is too big, but there's not much we can do about that. Evangeline, which is it?
Busybody: No, something in her life.
My thoughts: Well, I sure the hell am not about to talk about the recent changes in her life to YOU, random stranger!
Me: I don't think so :) Eva?
Busybody: You need to talk to her doctor about that.
My thoughts: About tae kwon do? Or sewing?
Me: No, I think she might just be a little tired.
Busybody: Then you shouldn't come here! You should go home so she can rest!
My thoughts: Right, I'm going to make Ana suffer so Evangeline can refuse to take a nap at home.
Me: She's five. She hardly ever naps anymore.
Busybody: You need to talk to the doctor then. Or YOUR doctor if you can't see there's something wrong.
Me: There's nothing wrong. She's five. They throw tantrums.
Busybody: MY child never acted like THAT. (Like "that" is whining and clinging to my leg. It was the quietest tantrum you ever saw.)
My thoughts: Well, bully for you! I'm glad to hear that your child is perfect, your life is perfect, and that YOU are perfect!
Busybody: I mean, if you're not feeling up to taking care of -

At this point I gave up on manners, as she clearly had none, and told her the truth, which is that I was feeling just fine and had no problems until some busybody started sticking her nose where it wasn't wanted.

And then I managed to unstick Evangeline and drag her off to the waiting room, where Ana convinced her to stop the whining portion of her tantrum by asking her to be quiet so we wouldn't have to go home and Ana could make it to her class.

A few minutes later Evangeline had calmed down enough to consent to take a piggyback ride to pick up her shoes from the gym. Along the way we passed one of her teachers (who had come looking for us) and the busybody, who - hilariously - was tattling on me to him!

Busybody: She was one of those women who looks like - oh, there she is now!

I have no IDEA what I look like, because I was there now.

Once back inside the doors another woman told me I was doing nothing wrong, which I knew, of course, but it's nice to hear. I wish I'd been thinking a little faster, I would've sent her out to counter-tattle.

Oh well. My diabolical plan was to convince Evangeline to rejoin her class, but that didn't work. Still, after she got over her embarrassment of the whole situation she was cheerful and chipper right up until we got home and she had to take a shower. We read a few books, and the second chapter of The Penderwicks, and we ate dinner and all, and she was asleep by 8:15... sadly, before her mother came home. She really was a little tired.

I swear, though, I meet the most judgmental people on Thursdays! It was two Thursdays ago, en route to the Y on a bus, that I met Mr. "Control Your Kids", who apparently objected to the kids existing. It was a crowded bus, and their behavior wasn't quite up to my standards, but he would not have even NOTICED they weren't behaving (fidgeting a little, that sort of thing, except that when every inch counts you can't have fidgety children) if I hadn't been reminding them! He apparently felt that "Control your kids" was the necessary refrain to every statement I made, statements such as "No, I'm sorry, you can't look out the window, sweetie" and "Ana, you're crowding your sister there". (There were a few "Don't kick!"s in there as well, but not very many.) I told him what I thought too, in the end. You can think whatever you like, *I* certainly do, but nobody really wants to hear it.
conuly: (brain)
The decide to name their new addition "Zsa Zsa" because, you know, it's the last Z name. This is because their mother's naming scheme is devoid of all reason and sense. It is, in fact, quite possibly worse than naming all your children with the same initial, something that goes fine for the first three kids and then all goes to hell afterwards. (But then, the family in the book at least don't have to contend with both a Johanna and a Joy-Anna, much less a Jinger.)

Which is all well and good, but Zsa Zsa (short for Erzebet, which makes it, of course, yet another diminutive of Elizabeth) doesn't exactly have an easy pronunciation according to English orthography.

There's always Zsa Zsa Gabor, but would the kids have known about her? Not likely. And that baby name book doesn't come with a pronunciation guide. And yet, not one of the kids goes "Zsa Zsa? Huh? How do you say that?" when they decide upon this! No, they just go "Oh, that's cute" and move on!

There is something seriously wrong here. I know it was the end of the book, but spare a few paragraphs for them to realize they have no idea what they're calling the cat they've just named. (Whoops, spoilered again.)
conuly: (Default)
"Oh, I am being constructive!

No, you aren't, sweetie. Not unless you either have my bag in hand or have the cash to replace everything in it! But I don't know, it's like she thinks what I really need and want is people dashing my hopes against the rocks!

THIS IS NOT HELPFUL.

Meanwhile, the newyorkers comm has its daily quota of "please adopt this cat" posts up in the form of a blind cat. This little ray of sunshine sure isn't commenting there going "Nobody's gonna want your blind cat, just toss it in the street!", even though we all do know that disabled kitties have a harder time getting adopted.

(Also, uh, anybody seen my bag? It has books in it!)

Edit: She's really just a very unpleasant person. I think if I go back there, I may lose it entirely, so could you do me a favor? Check in on the post a few times and if anybody ACTUALLY finds my bag or ACTUALLY has something useful to say, let me know? I hate to ask the favor, but I would like to refrain from cursing. I think I've been very good today.
conuly: Quote: "You only wish you were as cool as I am" (cool)
See, there's this four year old kid who is being sued for knocking an old lady down while racing her friend on a bike. The woman broke her hip and later died, and it is sad, but the majority response to this is "Um, but she's four". And it's not "Um, she's four, sue her parents instead!" - the woman's family is suing the parents. They're also suing the children involved.

There have been a lot of articles about this recently, and every single one of them makes this clear - the children are being sued separately from the parents.

So it made its way to FRK after several people mentioned it in the comments, and we get this wonderful reply:

I’m actually really confused about why this has become such a big story. The truth is, there really isn’t anything out of the ordinary about it.

My husband is an insurance agent. He makes a point of telling people that the most common claim against homeowners insurance isn’t from something that happens to the home, but a liability payout for something that the homeowner’s children or pets do. The coverage is built into the homeowner’s insurance, but the person making the claim against you generally has to sue for it.

If they truly are suing the girl instead of the parents, that would be abnormal (as well as stupid, since a 4-year-old girl has no assets). But holding parents liable for the consequences of their children’s actions? Completely normal. Completely legal. And completely logical. You are liable for the damages if you cause a car accident–even if the car accident is a result of something you couldn’t actually control (you hit ice and slide into another car, for example).

It is reasonable for the estate of the woman to expect restitution. Keeping with the car analogy, if a child accidentally ran her bike into the side of your car and created a huge dent, you wouldn’t shrug your shoulders, say “sucks to be me,” and pay for the repairs. You would expect the girl’s family to take financial responsibility for the repairs. Why is this suddenly a scandalous idea when you replace the car with a human being?

Accountability is not a bad thing. And situations like this are part of why you have homeowners insurance. Really–it’s a non-story.


(I'll leave aside the question as to whether these Manhattanites have homeowner's insurance or, in fact, own a home.)

This woman basically doesn't know the facts of the case. She's seen it enough to see that it's a big story, but she clearly hasn't read anything about it at all or she'd know that her "abnormal" and "stupid" situation that she thinks isn't happening is, in fact, what's happening. But she still sees fit to judge us - people who DO know what's going on! - for "not understanding" that this is "perfectly normal".

I might be ignorant. There's times that this is the case. It happens, and I'd rather be corrected than not. But nothing, and I mean nothing gets my goat more than being "corrected" by somebody who doesn't know what she's talking about!
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
A few weeks ago I read this book The Candy Shop War.

It's a fun, exciting book, and I don't recommend it because of how the author deals with race (which is to say, pretty badly.)

And I wrote a review about it! On Goodreads and LibraryThing I'm not alone, and on Amazon I largely am, but that's to be expected.

Anyway, I got into a conversation about it on somebody else's review.

Read more... )

WTF? Did I not just say how I'd rather he describe all his characters, of all races? I'm sure I did. Am I wrong? Is this miscommunication on my part, or willful misunderstanding on theirs? Because I just don't see what went wrong.
conuly: Quote: "You only wish you were as cool as I am" (cool)
Christopher Pike has a new book out. You may remember him from such forgettable tripe of your teen years as... as... well, I forget.

Point is that the book is full of easily checked inaccuracies. For example, he placed a random desert in the heavily religious nation of Turkey, the capital of which is Istanbul. (At least it's not Constantinople, right?)

I would've put it down after Istanbul (the real capital, of course, is Ankara), but I'm strict about this.

This poor girl persevered until she was fed up enough to write a ranting review of it, prompting "one of Christopher Pike's editors" to come by and flame her. His own reviews are... effusive, to say the least.

Sadly, it turns out that Michael Brite is, in fact, Christopher Pike (omg i am so surprised)... or else a seriously pathological liar. And he admits to having multiple accounts, which explains some of the other glowing reviews out there. I was wondering who these folks were who kept popping up to claim that whichever Pike book it is is better than various classics of literature. Now we know.

It's pathetic enough for an author to do this once, under one assumed name, but repeatedly? I have no words to describe how unbelievably, unbearably sad that is.

Also, I had no idea this made it to Fandom_Wank.
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
I, um, try to keep it to reasonable levels?

Ana, the other day, was very upset by the litter on the way to the library. (I told her I'd scrounge up a plastic bag for the next time we go so she can gather it up.) "Why do people litter? It's all messy because people are stupid and rude and - "

Me: HOLD ON HERE!

Now, I hated to interrupt her, because if she sticks around with me she'll be pretty darn good at this righteous indignation bit. (Heck, she's pretty good at it now!) But I have a few opinions on the subject myself, and while I do think people shouldn't litter I *also* thought it was time for 5 minutes on the subject of social justice, socioeconomics, and how it relates to the placement and emptying of public garbage cans.

I mean, here we are at the intersection of one, two, three, FOUR major streets (and several other minor ones), at a bus stop where no less than six busses stop (in fact it's two bus stops, five feet away from each other, and the same two across the street going the other way), there's a public school RIGHT THERE, there's a lot of stores, there's the public pool and a park - and until you're actually standing at the bus stop there's no garbage can. In fact, as I showed Ana, the bus stop itself has comparatively little litter, although there's some because although it DOES have garbage cans they're not really sufficient for the amount of people passing through.

When there are garbage cans, people use them. When there aren't, they drop things on the ground. No argument that they shouldn't, but rather than yelling at them to carry their soda bottle an extra 6 blocks or bribing them with a quarter, isn't it easier to just put a garbage can where people are bound to be walking anyway? It certainly seems to work better.

Meanwhile, over in Battery Park City they have a garbage can every few feet, they empty them several times a day, and they even have dispensers for plastic bags specifically so dogwalkers who find themselves at a loss can still pick up the poo! The bags are probably compostable too.

BPC is where the rich people live. They can afford things like that. One of the reasons rich people like to live in areas like that is because it's clean. It's clean because people have a place to put their trash, not because rich people are inherently nicer to the environment!

On a semi-related note, Saturday I went out with Deniz and Su while their mother helped fix up a second room in my grandmother's apartment. Deniz carelessly tossed a straw wrapper on the ground RIGHT as I turned around to make sure she was still behind me. She didn't see me - and believe me, this is the sort of moment you dream of. I quickly turned BACK around and, with my back to her, said in my strictest voice "DENIZ. YOU PICK THAT UP RIGHT NOW."

I'm still giggling over it. Her "Wait, what? OH!" was priceless.
conuly: Discworld quote: "The new day is a great big fish!" (fish)
In the comments to this post on spending all of a preschool's fundraising money on a fancy-pants security system with PINs and everything....

Anyone ever hear of Beslan?

Most anti-terrorism experts believe that Beslan was a dress rehearsal for what they will do to our children here in America. They believe that the plan will include hitting multiple schools in multiple cities across America. Small cities, preferably.

Please don’t take security at schools lightly. We are not dealing with ordinary, every-day risks. We are at war.

http://www.terroratbeslan.com/


1. Beslan was in 2006.
2. Who, exactly, are the "experts" who think this was a dress rehearsal for the US, and why do they think that?
3. Who is "they" exactly? Since when are we at war with Chechnya? I even double-checked this because, honestly, who can keep track nowadays, but happily it seems we're still not fighting there.
4. How, exactly, will having PIN codes prevent terrorists from harming children? This is the fatal gap in logic that baffles me. I mean, the rest does too, but this one - yeah.

Anybody sufficiently determined to do harm will find a way to do it. They're not going to be stopped by a security system, they'll either find a way around it or change the location of their attack. Look at the planes - you scan for guns, people bring knives. You lock the cockpit, people bring bombs. You scan for bombs in the obvious places, they find weird places. You make people take off their shoes, they stick a bomb in their undies. (Admittedly, most of these were stupid plans, but that's not the point.) You can't possibly predict everything. There is no way to guard against every contingency. It simply cannot be done, and it's pure madness to even try.

Make the obvious changes that at least weed out the most lazy attackers, and don't worry about the rest. If there starts to be an actual rise in terrorism in US schools, then we can change what we do. But changing because of bizarre and hopeless what-ifs (and ones that wouldn't even work for what she thinks, incidentally) is just... it's not only not helpful, it's counterproductive.

Ugh.

Sep. 5th, 2010 10:04 pm
conuly: Picture of a sad orange (from Sinfest). Quote: "I... I'm tasty!" (orange)
So, here I am over at FRK, and there's an article up about seedless watermelons, which are "better" than the other variety because "seeds are a choking hazard".

This of course is right up there with "cut these [mini] marshmallows up before serving them to your child!" in terms of silliness, but that's neither here nor there right now.

No, no, what's at issue is the fact that at least two of the commenters there, rather than just laughing at the line, are convinced it's the seedless varieties that are dangerous... because they're "unnatural". And also because plants can't reproduce without seeds.

I don't even know where to start, so let's start with....

1. Seedless fruit isn't unnatural. Seedless fruit is either a natural mutation (like grapes), or the result of the natural process of hybridization (like watermelons).

1a. Hybridization is not some sort of scary sciencey term either. You eat hybrids all the time. All it is is combining two different varieties of a plant (via pollination, not chemicals, nuclear radiation, and goggles!) to get a specific set of traits. It's no more advanced than Mendel.

1b. When it comes to watermelon, you're crossing a variety with 44 chromosomes and one with 22 chromosomes to make one with 33 chromosomes. A mule, basically. And because it's sterile, it doesn't produce seeds.

1c. Sure, you might argue that this sort of selective breeding is "unnatural", but if you're going that route you should admit that everything you eat is "unnatural", unless you subsist entirely on what you forage or hunt. (Definitely possible, but I call that unlikely.) Why? Because everything you eat is the process of thousands of years of selective breeding! It's evolution, but it's not evolution as God decreed, it's the sort that humans, who like to play God at every opportunity, came up with.

1d. In fact, when we're talking about "natural" vs. "unnatural" types of fruit, I'll take my organic seedless watermelon any day over a seeded variety that was grown with all sorts of fertilizers and pesticides. Not only is one more "natural" than the other, but it's also less likely to be covered in poisons. (And this is why you should wash your melons before you cut them open, btw, because your knife can carry what's on the rind to the yummy flesh inside.)

2. There's a serious hypocrisy in fearing "unnatural" watermelon (without having any idea how it's made, mind you) and talking about it on a computer. Of course, when you come right down to it, if your criteria is "God made plants with seeds", and we're really going THAT far back in time, everything we do and have is unnatural. And unless you're arguing that the entire agricultural revolution is unnatural (a possible argument, though barring WWIII I don't think we'll ever go back to the days of small bands of hunter gatherers, so I don't really see the point in it) and scary and "wrong"....

3. Then there's the "Plants are supposed to have seeds to reproduce!" argument. Sensible, thought out - and wrong. I mean, right in that we do want a little diversity in our edibles in order to prevent another potato famine (look at what happened to bananas!), but wrong in that it assumes the only way to get fruits and vegetables is through seeds.

You see, unlike us, many plants have the ability to reproduce asexually, via cutting or grafting or budding. Even plants with seeds, such as apples and cherries, aren't necessarily usually grown from seed. (Why? Because apples in particular aren't predictable. The seeds from your granny smith will NOT make little granny smith apple trees, and the odds are that what you get will be hard and inedible and tiny.)

On the one hand, if taken to extremes, this is a terrible thing because they might all be susceptible to the same type of blight... but on the other hand, this is a good thing because you get consistent results every time. You stick the eye of a potato in the ground, and you know exactly what you'll be digging up later.

Seedless watermelons, as it happens, DO grow from seeds. Seedless grapes? Not so much. Non-seedless grapes also aren't grown from seeds, though I'm sure they could be. (And this doesn't just apply to domesticated plants. When I asked about growing wild raspberry from seeds, the response was "I... don't know if you can do that", because raspberries don't usually spread that way.)

4. And let's just remember that the crux of this argument is "new things are scary, and what I perceive to be natural is safer". This is not only antithetical to the whole "Don't be scared!" idea of FRK that I don't even know why I'm the only person to respond to those comments, but it doesn't make any sense to me. But that's another issue in and of itself.
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
On the downside, today I got a new comment on my review of A Gardener's Alphabet. Now, you probably don't recall, but the first comment I got on there was from a woman who has Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece as her child's godmother, which makes her qualified to talk about why we can't ever question the need for a book to have only white people in it. (I laugh every time I think about that comment. I bet she goes to parties just ITCHING for a chance to pull that one out!)

Today's comment wasn't much better, but at least this person doesn't type like a drunken fool. Apparently, if I want to see books with non-whites in them, I should just go write them myself!

Thanks, but no thanks. How about this: If I want to see books with non-whites in them, I'll continue to purchase books with an eye of maintaining an acceptable level of diversity on my bookcase, and I'll continue to make reviews explaining my choices whenever I feel it is necessary so that other people with this desire can be more informed instead of less informed.

THAT requires far less effort than - GOD! - writing a book and getting published!

However, in GOOD news, I have on my lap right now a copy of "Tomorrow's Alphabet". And out of the six people (hands, foot) shown in the book, there are, count 'em, six different skin tones! This is what I want to see as a matter of course. It shouldn't be an amazing surprise that a book features different kinds of people. (Well, I say features. There aren't many people in the book at all.)
conuly: Good Omens quote: "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous!" (armageddon)
Age Appropriateness: Intermediate
Genre: Poetry
Review: This was a great example of poetry, because every word at the end of a sentence rhymed and it was in AAAB,AAAB format with the rhyming words.

Yup, if it rhymes it is poetry. Haiku? Not poetry. Burma Shave? POETRY! "I loved my friend?" Well, it doesn't rhyme. Latin is a dead language? POETRY!

The fact that this book utilizes interesting turns of phrase, the fact that the lines all scan according to a particular meter, the repetition, the use of consonance - those don't make it poetry. Only the rhyming does.

What really gets me is that whoever this teacher is that assigned this, all his/her students seem forced to call books good examples. They're a good example of poetry, or modern fantasy, or realistic fiction, or whatever else. Why can't they simply be examples and let the good or bad speak for itself?
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
Ana had a worksheet on verbs for today, the first one I've seen her do.

This is what it says at the top: "A verb tells what people or things do. More generally, a verb tells the action a noun or pronoun does."

1. Ana does not admit to any firm knowledge of what nouns or pronouns are, mind, but it's a subject we can work on.

2. This is far from the best definition of "verb" I've ever seen... but for first graders just beginning to learn this sort of thing, it probably doesn't matter. Except...

3. They were supposed to underline the verbs in various different sentences. And in each sentence, afterwards, we were helpfully told how many verbs were in the sentence. And almost all the verbs that Ana was supposed to identify weren't "action" verbs!

Has to (where dollars to doughnuts she's only supposed to identify "has", although the has in "she has a bed" is very different from the has in "she has to go to bed", which is the sentence she had), is (several times), will be (this is two verbs, of course), be, was.... Do and did I guess imply some action, but really, is a beginner gonna pick up on them?

Worse, some of the sentences had words that are verbs in ONE context, but not in others - "the play" and "be quiet".

The sample sentence lists "can" as a verb. Tell me, what sort of action is implied by "can"? If you're going to have them jump in with helping verbs and various conjugations of "to be", give them a better definition than "it tells what people or things do". Because when you do that, kids expect, well, to see things being done!

Instead of bothering about that, which didn't make sense to her, I told her that a verb can come after "I" or "she", and that if it comes right after "the", "a", or "an" it's probably safe to say it's not a verb. (Let's not talk about gerunds and all, okay?)
conuly: A picture of the Castleton Castle. Quote: "Where are our dreams? Where are our castles?" (castle)
Come on, the world is a way scarier place than it was when we were kids.

In the ’20s, moms let kids play in the street while they cleaned. In the ’60s, kids went out in the morning and bounced around all day playing Ringolevio.

These days, kids get snatched off the street and people try to bomb Times Square and the Herald Square subway station.


I said something about it there, but I'll say it again here:

Back in the 20s? There were pedophile scares then. It's not like child molesters suddenly appeared 20 years ago.

Back in the 20s? If your kid got a cut on the street and it got infected? There was no penicillin! Your kid might lose that limb, or even die. I hate those commercials for Neosporin which show people putting antibiotics willy-nilly on every little scrape and cut, but when there weren't any at all, that was no joke! Why do you think people started overusing antibiotics in the first place? They were thrilled people wouldn't die of these diseases anymore!

Back in the 20s we'd just finished the War to End All Wars, which was rapidly followed up by The Great Flu Epidemic - that's the same epidemic people are *still* scared of. Very few people alive nowadays know anybody who died back then, and we laugh about flu vaccines, but there's a real reason governments and scientists are working overtime to keep this from showing up ever again. (Not sure the resulting hype is a good thing, no, but I know why it's there.) We were starting to get those polio scares - my mother remembers those.

I don't know if anybody really felt particularly safe. They just lived.

There were bombings in the 20s, too. I remember reading about one in Manhattan, some Italian socialists bombed something, I think a bank, with - of all things! - a car bomb! (Or a horse-drawn carriage bomb, actually.)

In the 60s? Well, in the 60s you didn't let your kids go to Times Square, first off.

But in the 60s we were living under the threat of the Cold War. We had just finished the Second World War, with the Holocaust and all. There was a constant threat of nuclear bombs at any minute. There were riots.

The 70s and 80s, when most of these people making these comments grew up, were actually scary. (This is probably why they're so freaky paranoid now - when they grew up in a dangerous, scary world, they're inclined to think that it's kept on getting scary. Silly, but there it is.) There was that new scary disease, AIDS. There was still that threat of nuclear war. There were serial killers - my mother claims to have actually met Son of Sam, but declined to go home with him. (Good thing, too!) There were bombings in subways, yes, really. There was terrorism. There was a genuinely high crime rate. There was that Satanic Ritual Abuse scare, which is STILL terrifying people on two fronts - either they're scared it'll happen to their kids (I know, it never really happened) or they're scared they'll be accused of doing it to somebody's kids.

We're now at a 30 year LOW in crime. This is all over the nation, not just New York. (And some of these crimes have always been rare. Abduction and rape by a stranger? Never common - most rapes, of children and otherwise, are by people you know. Bombings? Never common, thankfully.)

What's really funny is people want to live in some idyllic time in the past when "things were better", but they're so caught up in what actually was going on in the past, in their own childhood, that they can't see that things are better now. They're scared of the crimes and problems that happened *then*, even as they say the world is scarier *now*. It's not scarier now! THEN it was scary. Now... not so much.

But they're living in the past, and they WANT to live in the past they've made as well. Convincing them to live in the present (and to want to) is close to impossible.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
Last week one of the people waiting to pick up their kidlet from school noticed that said kid (in Ana's class, so first grade) had both shoelaces untied. "Didn't the teacher tie them for you???" "No." (Well, duh.) "Unbelievable!"

Unbelievable? UNBELIEVABLE?

Dude, they spent the greater part of last year learning to tie their shoes. (Except Ana, who already knew. She spent the greater part of the year conniving her teacher into tying them for her. "She can tie her shoes? But I've been doing it for her all this time!" "Well, don't.") There are 23 other students in that class besides your kid, and the teacher has a hundred better things to do every minute than tie their shoes. If she spent her day doing that, I'd like to know when she'd teach!

Now, I didn't learn to tie my shoes until late in my childhood. And nobody, but nobody expected my teachers to tie them for me!

If your kid can't tie their shoes in the first grade, well, it happens, but unlike when *I* was young *you* have the option of getting velcro for kids that big. Or springy laces that don't need tying. I just had to take the laces out of my shoes and go like that. (Or you could invest some serious time in trying to teach this, whatever.) But getting upset that the teacher isn't tying your kid's shoes? At the age of six or seven? That's what's unbelievable.

Heck, earlier this year Ana was late coming out the door because she'd tied her shoes together. The teacher tried to say sorry, but I was too busy laughing to hear her, really, and I didn't think it was her fault anyway. She's got a lot of kids to watch.

And when after getting safely down the stairs Ana took a step a little too big and fell I'm not ashamed to say I pointed out that if she'd spent her time doing something a little more profitable than tying her shoes together, this would never have happened. (Funnily enough, she actually did this again a week or so later, but this time she took smaller steps. Not the lesson *I* would have taken from this experience, but so long as she doesn't hurt herself, I guess.)
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
So here's a review of A Great and Terrible Beauty, which I could barely even get through.

The reviewer mentions some elements she considers racist.

Let's look at the comments!

The fact that Gemma is greatly attracted to Kartik--a fact expressed throughout the book--is proof that the author is not supporting racist theories.

Really? REALLY? So it's only racist if you're not lusting after hot, exotic Indian (from India) guys? Because racists have never had a double standard in this respect. Because it's not possible to have some racist attitudes while still thinking of yourself as oh-so-enlightened, it's an all or nothing deal. (Actually, I'll bet that this is EXACTLY what this commenter thinks, and it's not so funny.)

Oh, and a pair of comments, one replying to the other.

1. to everyone who disagrees with the OP:

portraying a "gypsy" as a mystical magical forest dwelling criminal is just feeding into stereotypes and anyway "gypsies" do not speak ROMANIAN (Unless they live in Romania) ROMANI is not ROMANIAN, it's a completely different language. its appalling but not surprising that the editor didn't even care enough to catch or repair this factual error.

its the same as saying all eskimos live in igloos and all chinese smoke opium and run around pulling rikshaws or all americans ride horses, wear cowboy hats and say 'howdy howdy howdy y'all.' it is DEFINITELY racist by default. it is racist because the author didn't even bother to do research. she just went

*headdesk*

Apr. 14th, 2010 12:11 pm
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
Listen up, people. Just because two books (or a book and a book series...) happen to both take place in a boarding school and feature a train ride it does not mean that the second is based off of the first!

Harry Potter is not the originator of boarding school books. Newer books set in a boarding school may be profiting off of Harry Potter's fame, yes, but they're not necessarily derivative of Harry Potter. Instead, they and Harry Potter are both derivative of the same genre. Get it right!

(Also, formulaic isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's what you do with the formula that counts.)

*sighs*

It could be worse. They could be going after Tortall or Wizard's Hall or Worst Witch again.

Oh god.

Mar. 31st, 2010 10:12 am
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
So I picked up this link over on the FRK blog. I wish she'd crosspost it properly, I like the commenters there better.

Whether you should leave your child in the children's room for three minutes while you check out a book depends, of course, on your child, your librarian, your library, and your own sense. (Duh.) There are libraries that are little havens of defense, and libraries that aren't even remotely safe, and most fall somewhere in the middle. If it happens that children are molested at your local library every other week, you might not want to leave them alone there. I'm just sayin'. But if they aren't, use your best judgment, like always.

Some of these comments, now, are so wildly off as to be hysterical. A sampling:

Read more... )

And one last thing: To the dozens of people whose comment runs "BUT ADAM WALSH!" - Adam Walsh died some 30 years ago. Find something more recent.

Incidentally, I think it's perfectly in the librarian's rights to say "If you think your kid needs supervision, I'm not going to provide it." I just think these comments are wrong.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy

That's what people are doing when they say things like "Marriage is DEFINED as between a man and a woman so THEREFORE we can't change the law to allow same-sex marriage".

People do something similar when they pass off old lines like "The Chinese word for "crisis" is made of "opportunity" and "danger" so we can do something in a crisis!" like new wisdom.

I have two thoughts about this. First, if people are just doing it to make a rhetorical point ("there's an opportunity in every crisis!") rather than because they actually think their reasoning is valid, I don't see how it makes a difference. Sure, it'd be a lot simpler to just say what they're thinking outright without resorting to dubious etymology to do so, but whatever.

Second, about that crisis/danger/opportunity one: Why don't these people do it regarding the English word "emergency" and "emergence"? What's so appealing about Chinese, a language most of them don't even speak and wouldn't know if they were wrong?

Well, I think I answered my question there, sorry about that!
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
If I'm down there, I watch with them. Now, unlike NY1, the GSN is not predominately sponsored by the Humane Society with their awful ads that made Ana cry hours later. (I told her flat-out that they WANT you to cry so you send them money without checking first to see where the money goes. I think it's an incredibly tacky move and will support just about any animal organization *first*, no matter what the percentage of tortured rescues is.)

No, they seem to be largely sponsored by Lysol. Ah, Lysol - the people who give me terrifying ads about how bleach "doesn't really clean" toilet bowls.

My grandmother's reaction to this is "But why don't they ever clean the outside of the toilet?"
Mine is "WTF? Who CARES if the inside of your toilet bowl is 100% sterile? You're just gonna poo in it again, and it's not like you drink from it! (And if you do, it's a toss-up as to whether dirty is really worse than sterile-but-full-of-toxic-chemicals. Don't drink out of your toilet, guys.) HONestly.

Yesterday they had a new one talking about how the pump of a soap dispenser can (logically) get covered in germs, and that's why they're selling new pump-free dispensers for home use.

Aside from the fact that it's highly unlikely that your family members are carrying plague, here's an interesting question: Once again, who the fuck CARES? It's the pump of your soap dispenser! You pump. You soap up, you rinse. At this point, any germs you picked up from the dispenser are now safely in the u-bend of your sink. End of problem.

I mean, unless their argument is that their soap is so sucky it barely kills pre-existing germs, much less the ones you pick up in the bathroom, I think I'll pass. Real soap is better for your skin than detergents anyway, isn't it? (Yes, yes it is.)
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=130287&catid=339

This kid was running around the living room and, in a freak accident that nobody could've possibly predicted, shocked herself on (possibly) a USB cord.

If there have been other such cases in the past, nobody can find them with Google. Although the reporter does say "some other articles" state that you should be careful of the shock risk of cords and kids, those articles aren't cited in any sort of detail, making me think that that's because the reporters for those articles did exactly as much research as Channel Nine News - that is, they went to Google because they were out of ideas.

I heard about this through a post imploring us all to "unplug our USB cords". One freak accident and all of a sudden it's "better safe than sorry".

Meanwhile, thousands of children every year are killed in car accidents, and who says better safe than sorry about that? Oh, they say safer. They buy carseats. They drive the speed limit (more or less). But the real solution to this problem is to stop driving. To start - now - restructuring our society so that there is good, efficient, and effective public transportation taking you wherever you want to go, and so that you can walk most places you need to go anyway unless you live all the way out in the boondocks.

This is an actual problem, and as near as I can tell that is the only real solution - all the carseats and seatbelts in the world make you safer, but not as safe as safe, you know?

But no, that's not going to happen. It's too hard to restructure. It's too inconvenient to change. Fair enough - but if we can't change because of something that is provably killing children every day, and leaving more than that orphaned? For sure I don't want to be harangued into unplugging my damn USB cords and taking down my curtains and locking my toilet every time some kid, somewhere, coughs a little funny. (Doctors are "optimistic" about her recovery anyway, so yay for her.) We're never going to get rid of these little accidents. It's just not gonna happen.

On a similar note, I want my shoes back. It is profoundly stupid the way the TSA manages security, and everybody knows it, so why do we all still do it? Clearly, we can't stop everybody, and it's folly to even try. There will always be somebody clever enough or desperate enough or determined enough to find that one way through that nobody has thought of yet, so why not cover all the obvious reasons and focus our energies on making people not want to blow us up for the lulz? Or would that make too much sense? (Planes: Much like USB cords, they're safer than cars. And, like USB cords, that has nothing to do with the Terminally Stupid Annoyances.)
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
There's a funny story my mother tells where my dad never got a ticket as a cabdriver in New Orleans because all the politicians and whatever had been elected on a civil rights platform, and when they saw his arrest record they let everything drop. My mother eventually figured this out for him.

So, you know, if I look at a book (as I often do when reviewing them online) and say "Great book, but out of a cast of 1000 odd characters there's only white folks", it's not because of my nieces that I pay attention (although I certainly keep them in mind when choosing books for them, because the last thing I want is for most of their books to only feature kids who look nothing like them), but because I was taught at a young age to pay some sort of attention to these things. I doubt I'm such a better person for it, although I try, but I can at least say I make the effort to notice, if nothing else, if there's a general lack of representation going on.

For Christmas, the nieces got new scooters. Evangeline's was from Radio Flyer and I, bored, picked up the catalog to flip through it today.

Wouldn't you know it - 61 children, and out of them all but three are white. And, as my mother said when she finished counting after I pointed this out to her, the three black kids (there are no Hispanics or Asians or god forbid Arabs in Toyland, remember!) aren't very dark-skinned either.

If ~20% of the US population is black, you would expect to see... um... 12 black kids. 3 is not 12. 3 is much less than 12. In the past, I've heard people commenting sardonically on how "activists" insist on "full proportional representation" in books and whatnot. Well, this is why. If you don't keep kicking and screaming and carrying on about having the pictures match reality, what happens is you don't even get those three kids in the little pamphlet. It'd be all white kids all over.

And it seems like a stupid thing to complain over, but it's such a little thing! How hard is it to get this stuff right?
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
My family - all of us, now that my grandmother is here as well - all lives in one house. Yes, it's technically a two-family house (with two additional apartments), but the fact is that people are constantly going from one apartment to another without much fuss about it. The girls walk through my apartment when they get home, and they pop by and bug me if they get scared in the middle of the night or if they wake up too early. I cooked in Jennifer's apartment to make dinner tonight, and then I carried it down three flights of stairs so all of us could eat together with my grandmother*. We bring things upstairs and leave them there, or we bring them down here and leave them here, or we bring them back and forth. Sometimes I've been called upon to watch my nieces for a few minutes so their parents could pop out and do a few things, and sometimes I put them to bed. When Ana was sick last week, and her mother was as well, Ana and Evangeline didn't go to bed like they were supposed to so, after seeing that Jenn was asleep I just put them back to bed myself complete with cough syrup, swinging the hammocks, and singing a few new songs. In the past I've had to decide if a kiddo is sick enough to go to the doctor or, conversely, well enough to go to school. I've made lunches for them and breakfasts. I slog through homework with them so their parents don't have to do it, I've taught Ana cursive*, and I've done it for shockingly little pay.

And we all live in the same house. My mother lives here, and my grandmother. My nieces live with their extended family in an inter-generational home. This is a good way to live. And I know it might seem strange to people who are used to a more divided arrangement of people, but it's a valid lifestyle choice.

So when I say things like "Well, we don't have a Christmas tree", I don't mean that I don't have a Christmas tree and my sister does, I mean that in the hubbub of recent weeks this family has not decorated. (And, in truth, I'm usually the person who pushes to decorate.) Not "part of my family", because you can't divide us up when we all live in the same house - none of the family! I don't see my nieces occasionally, I see them daily, because we all live together. And no, I'm not their mom, and no, I don't wish to be their mom, but I'm not going to pretend that we're not an important part of each other's lives, because we *are*. I'm a member of their family - not some adjunct they see once in a while who happens to have a blood connection to them.

Thank you.

*I spent the day "spending time" with Bonne-Maman. Well, you know, I can only take so much socialization in one day so mostly I read while she listened to the radio, but I figure - hey, this is the woman who married Bon-Papa, she's got to be used to this sort of thing by now! And indeed, when my grandfather died, that's how it was - he rested in his bed and read or watched TV while my mother and grandmother chatted with each other and I read a book. I'm certain he was happy with this arrangement, because that's how he was.

**Ana's cursive is progressing very nicely. It's legible, she can remember how to form some letters without checking the example, and if she makes a mistake she's able to self-correct.
conuly: Quote from Heroes by Claire - "Maybe being different isn't the end of the world, it's just who I am" (being different)
Here it is, you can read through it at your leisure. In the comments there, I told Leora I had another thought to get to, and I intend to do just that. But first, I want to add something to that post that came to me at 3 in the morning that I'd left out. (I actually do a lot of my posting in my head at 3 in the morning. I'm eloquent and persuasive when I'm about to fall asleep. When the sun comes up and I eventually wake, the words aren't as clear and I lose something, but I assure you, I'm brilliant when I'm in bed with my eyes closed.)

In addition to the pragmatic reasons for not accepting the arbitrary division of high-and-low-functioning in order to say "Well, most of us aren't like that", which I listed and spelled out for everybody, there's also a clear ethical reason not to do so.

By making that argument that 1. These folks are bad because they say mean things about autistics in order to agitate for more money to spend on a dubious search for a "cure" and 2. They're wrong in their word choices because most autistics (which is where they get their 1 in 166 number from, from the whole spectrum, incidentally, but that's on their consciences, not mine) aren't as they portray, you're tacitly saying 3. IF all or most autistics were really "as bad" as they make out, it would be okay to say these things about them. It would be okay to blame them for breaking up marriages, it would be okay to rationalize their murder, it would be okay to call them soulless or trainwrecks, it would be okay to compare them unfavorably to children with AIDS or cancer, it would be okay to compare autism to child abductions.

But it's not okay! It doesn't matter if we're talking about Einstein or not! It doesn't matter what you think a kid's (there are no autistic grown-ups, and if there are, they're perpetually children, of course) functioning level is, it's not okay to talk like this.

And it's not okay to say it's wrong just because it's inaccurate with respect to whom it's insulting.

It's one thing to not bring up the hate speech at all because you need to open that door first. But to bring it up and then to make an argument that seems to say it would be justified if only people were more careful about defining their terms... you can't do that. It's abhorrent and reprehensible.

If we're going to take a stand against this language, if we're going to take a stand against these attitudes, then we have to take that stand together. You can't go dividing people up, saying "It's okay to say those things about THOSE people, so long as you don't say them about ME". You can't do it.

This is now a post on its own, so I have one more post left to do. I'll get to it in a bit, promise.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
Same old, same old )

They're talking about Weslandia. Although the thing Wesley does with one plant (two different food sources, shade, ink, fabric, mosquito repellent and sunblock) he's just discovered are improbable, it's not actually impossible. The fact that he turns from being an outcast to a major trendsetter is much more fantastical, but still, it is not beyond the realm of possibility for this to happen.

Of course, let's continue with the reviews...

Read more... )
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
I noticed that my nieces' library had a serious lack of biographies, so I decided to remedy that situation, and I started, actually, with Amelia Earhart.

Actually, that was a little disappointing. What I found on her looked very... done. Like everybody expected children to read biographies on famous Americans, and she's a famous American (and a woman, so double points there!) and they just churned out the same old stuff, year after year.

Not very inspiring, but I figured I'd grit my teeth and look harder... and I found a few books on Bessie Coleman instead!

Who's Bessie Coleman?

Well, let's put it this way. She was the first African-American period to have a pilot's license, and the first American of any race or gender to have an international pilot's license. She had to go to Paris to learn to fly because over in the US the flight schools wouldn't take black women as students and the black aviators wouldn't train women at all.

And she did this two years before Earhart started flying, too. (Died sooner as well, but at least everybody knew how she died.)

So I decided to get one of two books about Bessie Coleman. I could get one that appears to be based upon eulogies, or I could get one that more specifically focuses on her life, Nobody Owns the Sky.

And I did. GOD, what a mistake that turned out to be! Being the daughter of a famous aviator apparently does not make you qualified to write about... well, anything.

Here's a sample page:

Bessie's life was not long, but she flew far and wide
In Chicago she showed off a Richthofen Glide
Her air shows in Boston left crowds starry-eyed;
But in Jacksonville, Florida, everyone cried
Because Bessie's plane failed, and she fell, and she died
"Farewell to Brave Bessie", they sighed


It goes on like that for the entire book... though it also has a random little poem-let (in the same style) that just generally talks about how Flying is Great, sorta at the start and sorta at the end of the book.

I don't know if I'm keeping this one. Bessie Coleman. Great woman. Deserves to be better known, and really deserves to be one of the standards of the Woman's History Month and the Black History Month line-up. (Admittedly, teaching history properly instead of resorting to themed months would be better still, but let's not talk crazy talk now.)

She really didn't deserve to have a book written by a monkey with a typewriter.

Ugh....

Oct. 31st, 2009 12:51 pm
conuly: (Default)
So, I left this review for a seller of a book on Amazon. The book was listed in good-used condition, but every page was ripped. EVERY page - and most of them, I had to tape up myself. Some of the rips were quite substantial, too.

I understand that when you buy used you get what you get, but I felt - and still feel - that the damage should have been disclosed on the information and that it should have been rated as acceptable instead of good. I didn't contact the seller, but when prodded to leave review, I did so. Three stars (it came on time and, like I said, it *is* a used book), but there we go.

And today I get this email.

Read more... )

You know, I feel some sympathy, but I don't like being manipulated. All this talk about her sick husband (which I don't even know if it's true) is there to hide the fact that she wants me to, basically, not be honest.

The book came with every page ripped. Her husband's health isn't my fault. Her bills aren't my fault. Her problems aren't my problems. This could have been avoided much more easily if she'd just noted in the description when she put the book up that it was ripped on several pages. Then, when it came in the mail, I could have honestly said "Yup, I got what I paid for" and rated it my standard five-stars-no-comment.

(And if she'd just emailed and said sorry, whoops, it was an accident instead of all this "everybody is sick and dying and poor" business, true or not, I would have been more likely to just roll my eyes and remove the review. I don't care whether it's true or not, I don't like feeling manipulated.)
conuly: (Default)
The entry is here.

At the time, I mentioned Pancakes for Supper, which I hadn't yet read. As I recall, I noted that the protagonist in *this* version is a blonde-haired white girl, and... to tell you the truth, I'm quite uncomfortable with the concept of erasing racism by erasing race (and yes, erasing race *does* mean everybody looks like me but with still more blond, how could you tell?)

I actually got a chance to read the book today at the bookstore, though, so I did - eagerly! (It's on sale at B&N, just $6 for hardcover.)

And I have something more to be annoyed at. The review at Amazon points out clearly that it's a rewrite of Little Black Sambo. The other rewrites I've seen make this point clear in forewords, explaining that the authors liked the story but that they felt it wasn't going to be shared in its older format, so they rewrote this and that aspect of it.

This book? Doesn't actually say anywhere on it that it's a rewrite, not that I saw. No foreword. No afterword. Nothing on the bookflap, or on the front or back cover. And it's not *much* of a rewrite either. The setting (and race!) change, but the story hews pretty closely to the original.

Look, I get the fact that a little black Indian non-white boy was changed into a white girl. I'm not happy about it, but apparently we're living in this brave new color-blind postracial world that coincidentally puts white kids into protagonist roles where black kids used to be and we're not supposed to notice that because it's racist to see race. Fine, whatever, I'm sure the author and illustrator had no malicious intent.

But copying another person's work - even work in the public domain! - without explicitly crediting them? NOT COOL. At all. I mean, sheesh, people sometimes add dissertations to their reimaged versions of Cinderella, and these guys can't manage to put a little line "Based upon the book..." under the title?

Unless you can stick it to the man by buying it used, I wouldn't get a copy. For my rewritten needs, I stick with Sam and the Tigers. It's funny; it doesn't have creepy race issues in the old, racist way or the new, postracial way; and both the author and illustrator thought it was appropriate to, gosh, credit the source.
conuly: (ducky)
The genre of this book is multi-cultural. This book is also fictional. The art in this book is illustrations. The content in this story is that a young girl messes up some valuable material by not being careful, but in the end the girl does not get in trouble. The reading level for this book would be third grade. There are also no curricular connections present in this story.

1. "Multi-cultural" is not a genre.

2. This book was written by a black South African, about a young black girl in, presumably, South Africa. How is that "multi-cultural"? I'd ask, but I'm terrified the answer, deep down, is that if it doesn't involve white kids in the US, it's "multi-cultural".

3. No curricular connections? Seriously? This person can't think of any way to extend the book into a lesson?

Whoever assigned this project for their students has some slackers or twits... not sure which.
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
I saw water fountains - real fountains with real water that gets cold when you run it (and you CAN run it, WE have no drought!) and tastes like water instead of like some unholy combination of salt and mud... oh!

Poor Ana had a fit the day we got to California because of the water quality (and the fact that she was extremely tired and hungry). She and Evangeline had so much juice...! Day before we left, I had a bottle of water I couldn't open. My mother couldn't open it. My aged grandmother (pushing 90 now!) got it in a few seconds. We, uh, loosened it for her.

Our garden is terribly overgrown, but that's all right. We seem to have obtained a new form of mint while we were gone that's taking over EVERYthing. Mint will do that, but this is a bit much even for mint - and I'm not even sure what kind of mint it is! Could be mountain mint, but I'm sure I decided *not* to plant that....

Our flight was fairly uneventful. Our flight out - oy. Oh dear god. I asked my mother in the airport terminal NOT to buy the headphones, feeling that they're altogether too interested in TV as it is and conscious of the many things I'd picked up to entertain them. So she... bought them anyway. And gave them to the kids first thing, as SOON as they sat down, before I asked them.

Naturally they squabbled over watching the same show (or not) and I had to find the channel for them, and I had to check periodically to make sure it was reasonably child-appropriate, and they were cranky and annoying the whole way. My mother said she thought she'd be able to help me in the flight - ha! She sat behind me and never switched seats halfway through like she PROMISED she would. Never had a chance to read any book or eat anything of my own.

Our flight back, I knew my mother would still be in California. This time, I got to make the choice - No. Headphones. My lovely mother goes "They'll scream!" at me. How insulting! Not only insulting my judgment - and I do like to believe I know my nieces well enough - but also of the girls. How does she think anybody managed before inflight TV? Does she think we had that when we flew across the ocean?

Guess what? True to *my* predictions they were darlings the whole flight, they helped each other with their craft supplies (Klutz books, how I love you!), they were friendly and sweet, and the crew went out of their way to compliment their behavior.

TV does not make them behave better. (Duh.)

In the airport (I guess I'm doing this backwards) I got to listen to a totally asinine lecture on Evangeline's choice of underwear... or the lack of underwear under her shorts. Apparently you could see that if she flopped backwards and you looked. Whoops.

"Don't you KNOW that children are KILLED every DAY and there are PEDOphiles?" "What, here in the airport kids are killed every day?" "No, not in the airport". Given that she was TSA I decided to stop the conversation there and not point out that, frankly, I simply don't care unless children are routinely being snatched from that particular airport. Isn't that what security is for, anyway? (And even if they were - guess what? It wasn't going to happen. They were holding my hands until we got to the plane, then they were going to sit right next to me.) And what did she think, that cotton panties have magic powers to repel evildoers? They're panties, not chastity belts! Or maybe that pervs only go after children without panties. If *that* is the case, they're even weirder than I thought. Bit of a long shot, waiting for a kid to come along without the appropriate amount of underwear. (Admittedly, I would've put her in panties instead of just the shorts if I'd realized we could have this problem, but not out of fear. I just don't like her flashing people.) I also didn't mention to the TSA woman her grasp of the statistics of the situation was totally flawed. I was Being Pragmatic. (And she meant well, in her wrongheaded way.)

I have to wonder why she was looking at Evangeline's crotch in the first place, though. I mean, even when the kiddo flopped on the floor it wasn't that obvious until you looked for it....
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
I actually had them in my head, most of them, I just... didn't feel up to typing anything.

Did I mention my uncle's collection of knives he carefully hides around his bed like teddy bears? EVERY YEAR we have to go take them out of the room when we visit because, y'know, the kids sleep there. The first year (when Ana was, like, 2 and could REALLY not be trusted) he didn't even tell us! Boy, was that a shock.

What gets me is the fact that his knives? Outnumber his hands. He's got seven or eight knives for two hands - four if is girlfriend is there. (He should also move his, uh, supplies out of the room. I assume they have sex, but I don't want to think about it! And for that matter, when you go online to find instructions to a place that makes your "wildest fantasies come true", it's only polite to close the window when you're done printing. I take one glance - ew.) After four knives, therefore, it follows that he's basically just giving knives to the intruder, especially as they aren't exactly well-hidden.

Who *does* that? It's not exactly the brightest move, is it?
conuly: Quote from Heroes by Claire - "Maybe being different isn't the end of the world, it's just who I am" (being different)
In South Africa

Now, of course, I'm happy for them. I'm happy for anybody getting married.

But the fact that South Africa offers same-sex marriages is a national disgrace. Not for them, of course, but for us! How appalling, how absurd is it that they're further ahead on this issue of basic civil rights than we are? It shouldn't be tolerated, this level of cosmic irony. It's Just Not Cool.

The solution obviously isn't to relegate South Africa to being the world's backwater again. Instead, clearly, we need to move this country to the last decades of the 20th century. For a change. Can we get some fucking equality here? It's embarrassing!

Read more... )
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
It's kinda remarkable how much of that there is for kids. (Add that to the Holocaust-lit I read, and it's a wonder I didn't grow up more strange than I am!)

I read straight-out dystopias, like "The Last Book in the Universe". I read fake-out utopias, like The Giver. I read post-apocalyptic fiction, like "The Girl Who Owned a City". (That was supposed to introduce Ayn Rand to kids. It fails miserably, which is probably why it's so readable.) I read the sort of post-apocalyptic fiction that's all hopeful and all, like Outside (which has the distinction of being pretty close to the first chapter book I ever read). And, of course, I read The Transall Saga, which is so far from the apocalypse that I'm not sure it qualifies as "post-apocalyptic". (And at the end of the book the main character is returned to his own time and makes it his life's work to avoid the future he was in, which is weird to me. It wasn't a bad future, several thousand years removed from our own time, and he does it in memory of the wife he had there... but if he succeeds in stopping that future she'll never exist, though I suppose it makes sense to avoid suffering now at the cost of people whose grandparents' grandparents haven't even been conceived yet.)

It's the fake-out utopias that tend to interest me the most. They can be subdivided in two categories, which probably vary a lot according to reader: The ones that are more like real life, and the ones that are less like real life.

Disconnected rambling that has nothing to do with my point, but that I insist on getting out )

But no, what interests me is the end of these books. The fake-out utopias (especially those written for kids) always seem to end on a high note - the main character gets away, or they free everybody from their gentle chains, hallelujah.

But I always wonder. IS it a happy note? The people in these bland, perfect worlds aren't very free, but they don't know it. They may not be very happy, but neither are they sad or scared or angry. And when the machine is broken and the drugs are gone and the elaborate social order is destroyed - do they like it? They know nothing else, they're usually generations in by this point. How do they live? What happens the first time they go hungry? The first time they get cold? The first time they feel truly, deeply angry, or lustful? Maybe just sad, or lazy, or bored? How do they cope?

We're made to think that this is a happy ending, and sure, it reinforces what we already believe, but is it happy? Maybe in several generations, but right now? Maybe the rebels like it, the idealists, the children who never could quite fit into their conformist world (there's always that emphasis on sameness. I'd love to see an equally dystopic one with an emphasis on a certain controlled amount of diversity), but what about the ones that fit perfectly and never wondered or cared to? There's a lot about freedom of choice, but only if they choose not to go back to that? Not that they could.

I always imagine that the END of the end is a bunch of hitherto repressed people turning on each other and showing to their children why, exactly, their ancestors chose to live in this dull and stable way in the first place. Which isn't inspiring or uplifting at all, and probably why we're not shown those scenes.

I wish we were, though. I wish authors thought through the consequences of their protagonists' actions. I'm not saying I want to live in any of those worlds (ye gods), but if I already did I would be careful before I smashed it. (Or so I think. Maybe I wouldn't if that were *really* the case.)

Spoiler )

Ugh.

Jul. 14th, 2009 01:51 pm
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
So, somebody over on TBW had an experience where she was in a hotel and it occurred to her to do as she does at home and put her bag for the day at the front door. And then she happened to ask her husband about getting out if there was a fire in the main stairwell and he showed her the second exit.

Lo and behold, the fire alarm went off that night! Sure, it was a false alarm - but is that a premonition or intuition?

And I said (apparently I'm the only one) that it was a coincidence. She happened to take a few steps that would help her out in case of fire, and there was a false alarm, and because the human mind is primed to see patterns where none exist we tend to make a bigger deal about coincidences than is truly merited - if she'd slept through the alarm going off, or if it hadn't gone off, she would have forgotten all about it.

Here's what somebody else said:

It's called inspiration, or revelation.
God doesn't ignore us; He knows us very intimately. He speaks to us often in little thoughts and whispers, giving us ideas, premonition, and intuition, and most of the time we don't even recognize it. He encouraged those thoughts in your mind to protect your family and your sanity. I've had experiences like that, too.

It is nice to know God truely is looking out for us.


*sighs*

So, basically, if you should die in a fire because you slept through the fire alarm or because you hadn't thought to ask about a second stairwell, it's because God didn't want to protect your family and your sanity, and wasn't truly looking out for you? Do people even think before they say these things?

Ugh.

Jul. 8th, 2009 12:07 pm
conuly: (Default)
So we're in the middle of this whole "thing" about safety and unattended children and whatnot over elsewhere.

And somebody who thinks this woman should not have left her 12 year old babysitting her younger siblings in the mall (actually, I agree with that, I just disagree that it was criminal or that the children were in any particular danger) goes "The world has changed for the worse, it's not safe, doesn't anybody remember Adam Walsh????"

You know what? I don't remember Adam Walsh. You know why? Because he died before I was even born!

When the statistics show that every measure of crime (including violent crime against children, which is what's relevant here) has gone down since then ("do you want your kid to be that low statistic???"), and the facts and the evidence all show that kids today are safer than they were when I was growing up and for a good decade or two before that as well, what does that say about your argument ("If something terrible had happened to any one of those children then nothing would have been written like that and it would be total outrage at the mother then") if the only specific thing you can think of to bolster it is a case that is thirty years old?

Not that any specific cases would make a difference. Horrible things happened to kids in the 50s and the 30s and the 90s and in the past year as well. The question isn't whether or not these things happen, but what the appropriate response to that fact is.
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
I happened to pass by a sign on the N train the other day. "In observance of the da-da-da-da-da running on a Saturday schedule".

And I thought how funny it was, because, of course, the holiday is on a Saturday. And then I stopped and thought a bit more. The MTA has its problems, of course, but they're not yet so addled that they're putting up pointless signs like that.

Oh. Ah. I see the problem! The part I skimmed over? Says that they'll be running on a Saturday schedule on FRIDAY, July THIRD.

Well, good for them! Because it's not like people have to go to work on a Friday or anything, not like they'll have to fight through herds of tourists to do so anyway.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
I'm going to have to go out and read it, even though I don't want to, just to be able to talk about it more effectively.

I have no idea what the book says, although I've seen some debunkings of *specific* claims found in the book - flawed or misunderstood or misrepresented studies, studies where the conclusion drawn in the book isn't the obvious one, studies where the conclusion drawn isn't nearly as cut-and-dried as the author claims. Assuming that what I've seen is accurate, I already don't want to go near it. What's the point? If this study and that study and the other study have been shown to be false, what are the odds that the rest of the book was written with any form of accuracy or even integrity? But I don't know.

What I do know is that some people who have read the book are really annoying me. They talk about not liking the school system because of its "one size fits all" approach which "hurts boys". (Funny, boys grow up to run the world, they can't be hurting all that much.) Which may be true - except they then advocate a two size fits all approach and, worse, attempt to discover "size" on the basis of genitals.

Now, it may be that most boys are better in this environment, and most girls are better in that environment - fine. And it may be that there are no children whatsoever that learn better in a third or a fourth or a fifth environment - okay. But even if 99% of boys and 99% of girls are just like everybody else of their gender (which I'm not so sure of), the remaining 1% of children is a significant portion of the population that's going to be doubly shortchanged - first by being put in a classroom that's designed (according to this concept) to be totally opposite from how they learn best, and second by being told by implication that they're "wrong" to not learn like the other little girls/boys! This approach wouldn't even work for clothes, why does anybody expect it to work for brains?

Dividing classrooms by learning style? Putting each child with the teacher and method that suits them best? Great, I'm all for that! It makes a lot of sense to me!

But why not do it in the logical, straightforward way - test children, observe them, evaluate them - and then decide where they go based on what each individual child shows you is the best method for them, rather than by where the bulk (theoretically) of their gender is gonna end up? That's the right way to do this.

Doesn't make any sense to me.

Gah!

May. 30th, 2009 06:26 pm
conuly: (Default)
Those of you with kids, or who teach kids, or who have ever been around kids, or who have ever even been kids may know that children like to imitate adults. It's a big part of childhood, and an important part of the learning process.

Evangeline likes to pick up discarded Metrocards and "swipe" them before ducking the turnstile. She'll even do it on the bus (putting the card at the dispenser, beeping, and then going to sit down) if there's no line and I let her. Ana used to do that too. The nieces both enjoy putting things in containers and declaring that it's soup, or cake.

This desire to imitate grown-ups and bigger children permeates everything. Evangeline is desperate to read why? Because Ana reads, and I read, and her parents and Nanen read. Ana likes to flip pancakes and head to the corner store by herself why? Because these are GROWN-UP tasks.

And of course, as they're young children, one important part of being grown-up, from their perspective, is taking care of young children. They ask me to put their dolls and stuffed animals "up" in various carriers. They buckle them into the toy carseat. They give them time-outs, and naps, and meals. They catch adults and ask *them* to play the baby as well if they can! And of course, they breastfeed their toys. Sometimes they bottlefeed, and sometimes they clarify that they're using cups, but quite often they put the doll to the chest and make lipsmacking noises to indicate that the baby is having milk.

It's really cute, too.

A breastfeeding-friendly hospital in England put up a poster that features, among other things, a toddler pretending to nurse her doll. Well, why not? It's cute! Awwwww! Who could possibly object to a picture of a kid pretending to be a mom like her own Mommy?

Why I even ask that question, I don't know.

It's offensive. It's unnecessary. It's wrong, disgusting, not normal. NOT NORMAL??? What could be more normal than a kid acting like a kid? What could be more normal than babies nursing - the same way the vast majority of babies that have ever lived have been fed? What could be more normal than any of this?

To my knowledge, breastfeeders don't go en masse to the toystore and take all the dolls with all their toy bottles and then throw hissy fits about how "disgusting" it is. So can the rest of you show them a little... if not respect, at least common sense?

So if you happen to think that the subject matter of the poster is totally okay (for crying out loud, the shirt isn't even lifted!), there's information on how you can write to the hospital to lend your support here.
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
1. I know that this neighborhood has a dearth of public garbage cans. Nevertheless, there are some things which should never be left as litter. This list (and it's quite short) includes condoms and diapers. I'd ask if you CARE about the EARTH, but it's clear that you don't. Regardless, try to show some respect for your own neighbors, would you? Especially you with the diaper - KIDS live here. YOU have a kid. Knock it off!

2. When on escalators, we walk on the left and stand on the right. No, really. When asked "excuse me", please at least acknowledge that you speak English (I *heard* you already!) and shove over. It won't kill you.

3. On stairs, we usually walk on the right, in the same way that people drive on the right. It doesn't really matter so long as in a crowd everybody is going in the same direction, of course. However, when you see somebody coming down the stairs lugging a sleeping preschooler in her *left* arm while clutching the banister with her *right* hand, it behooves you to move out of the way. More precisely, please move from the middle of the stairs (which you did) to the right so that I do not have to let go of the banister and lurch to the other one midstep. If you don't know your right from your left, just try to make way for less maneuverable people, as though you were a ship at sea. Some of us can't move sideways.

4. Umbrellas. They keep rain off. They are *not* to be used as oratorical props. Dear God, woman, you nearly took out Evangeline's eye! That you didn't is only because my thigh intervened, and that hurt! If you don't have any concept of personal space, at least opt for a small, "pocket" umbrella. You can buy them for a dollar anywhere so long as there's clouds and drizzle.

5. It's crepe paper. It's not a noose. No, I don't care that it's around Evangeline's neck. Even were it long enough to catch on something and strangle her (which it's not), it's crepe paper. Even as you were speaking to me, it was tearing! Crepe! Paper! (Also? No, I don't care that Ana climbed over that 3 foot fence. Speak to me when she climbs something over her - or my - head. Oh, she could fall? Well, she'll have to climb better, then.)
conuly: (ducky)
And we also played a round of Memory with our new set. (I gave away the old one, with the whole "first games" set, to Ana's school. It was the only one of those games we played, and it was impossible to store.)

Both those games have boxes that take up waaaaaay more space than the game requires (Sherlock (which I advise you to get) is another one, and it itself came shipped in this box which was a zillion times huger than the box containing the game itself. WTF?), which is so annoying.

I measured it. The Memory cards take up exactly 20% of the box they're in. Okay, so sure, you want some room to get the cards out of the box - but still, the box could've been a quarter of its actual size! I'd pay extra not to have to punch them out myself, anyway. Duck, Duck, Bruce comes in the standard-sized Gamewright box - all their boxes are a good 25% larger than the games they contain. Given that they're all card games, would it be so hard to stick the rules on a few extra cards and put the whole thing in a standard deck-of-cards box instead of a container with a lid and all? It's save space on the shelf, that's for sure.

Got a set of Apples to Apples Kids for Ana's school, and, although the box is appropriately sized the cards are insanely flimsy. I'm not sure I want to entrust this to a group of small children - or big children for that matter. Is there a way to remedy this? Help me, guys! You're my only hope!
conuly: (Default)
When people caught on to the huge wait times between books (and now the series is ended, of course), they started publishing a whole heckuva lot of other kid and YA fantasy books, much of which is really good - and even the more obviously derivative (of HP, naturally) books are still pretty nifty.

You know what's bad about Harry Potter? All these books - especially the more obviously pandering ones - have titles along the lines of Namety Name and the Adjectivial Noun. As it's now been almost two years since DH was released, can we all move past that, guys?

(And can some of these books have Namety Name protagonists other than white guys? Seriously? I mean, I'm all for encouraging boys to read, and I know that society tends to discourage them from reading books about girls, cooties and all that, but really now!)

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