Archive for August, 2009

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Baby books

August 24, 2009
Look familiar...?

Look familiar...?

My wife and I went to Barnes and Noble this weekend to look (just look!) at baby books.  We started wandering through the store looking for the section on parenting but had a hard time finding the section.  Bargain books (no), computers (no), relationships (getting closer!), cooking (narrowing in!), science fiction (uh oh, getting colder), religious fiction (redundant, but getting warmer again)…where the hell are the baby books?!  In the end, we had to ask someone to help us find the section, which was innocuously tucked between the kid section (makes sense) and the higher mathematics section (don’t get that one). 

The moment I laid eyes on the section I knew I was screwed.  First off, almost all of them had pictures of pregnant women on them.  Not good.  I understand what is involved with the whole pregnancy thing, but don’t show me a picture of some pregnant chick looking as happy as can be, even though she’s not going to be getting any sex for the next six weeks (according to the books at least).  Whenever I look at the covers of baby books with smiling pregnant women on them I imagine that future generations will laugh at those covers in the same way that our generation laughs at 1950’s homemaker pictures (you know, the ones where the woman is wearing high heels and a dress while scrubbing the bathtub.)  So I was already off to a rough start. 

I started to peruse the titles, looking for one that addressed my primary question of, ‘should you have a a baby?’  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a book that addressed this question.  Instead, all the books seemed to be based on the assumption that, ‘of course you want a baby,’ and, ‘there’s something wrong with you if you don’t want to procreate.’  I’m not saying I don’t want a baby, I’m just saying I’m curious as to the reasons and arguments out there for why I should have a child.  I understand that the primary reason for having a child is to 1) fulfill a biological drive to procreate the species, and 2) ensure that I have someone to take care of me as I get older.  However, if one discards those two reasons on the grounds that 1) the human race is doing just fine (over 6 billion at last count and unless my child turns out to be Emperor of Earth or a Superbowl MVP,  odds are my species won’t pay much attention to one more person) and 2) if I don’t have a child I’ll be able to save up plenty of money to ensure I have an army of waiting nurses to wipe my ass when I’m old, then what’s the point of having a child?  The answer appears to be a belief that ones life will be infinitely enriched by the presence of a child, far more so than any material possession, but what happens if the baby is born and you don’t immediately feel that instant connection to your kid?  This is my primary concern, as it seems to me that the only thing that allows parents to put up with all the crap (literal and figurative) of having a child is the love they feel towards their offspring.  So, what happens if that love doesn’t develop?  I’ve been told that a father doesn’t become a father until the child is born (OK, I wasn’t told that, it was a line from ‘Knocked Up’) but isn’t that an awfully big leap of faith to take?  What if the baby is born and I’m not struck with a sudden and unbelievably powerful desire to destroy everything in my kid’s path?  Does that mean I’ll fail as a father since there will be nothing to make up for the hardships of parenting?  This is where the baby books are supposed to come in, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find one that directly addressed my concerns, but I was able to find sections that touched on the issue.  The best snippet I found was a line claiming that 25 – 40% of new fathers and mothers don’t immediately feel a strong connection to their child.  Whether this is due to sheer exhaustion, the nature of the parents, or any other combination of factors, the book assured me that I shouldn’t worry and that a bond would develop in due time, which was a major relief since that was my primary concern.

My initial child rearing fears subdued, my wife and I headed to run some more errands (Bed, Bath and Beyond, oh boy!) but on the way out I stopped by a display of X-Men comic books.  My wife, who had been walking ahead of me, stopped, turned around and started to give me that look, to which I replied, “Bed time stories.”

and then Jean Grey said to Cyclops...

and then Jean Grey said to Cyclops...

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Michael Vick: Who offers forgiveness when all those you wronged are dead?

August 14, 2009

I think the thing that bothers me the most about Michael Vick’s reinstatement into the NFL is the idea that Vick has ‘reformed’ himself and is now redeemed and worthy of serving as a role model to kids.  This is nonsense.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the prison system is designed to rehabilitate people and that people are able to change, but part of both of those processes is gaining forgiveness from those you wronged.  There are two aspects to Vick’s crimes that I find upsetting.  The first is the tacit implication that an animal’s life is inherently less valuable than a persons.  The second is that forgiveness can be given by someone other than the wronged party. 

Regarding the first, imagine if Vick had done to people what he did to dogs:  Locked them up, starved them, trained them to fight, had the women raped to produce new, better offspring, then drowned, burned, and hanged those that wouldn’t or couldn’t fight.  The simple answer is that Vick would have been given the death penalty and gone down in history as one of the most despicable criminals ever to live.  That isn’t going to happen because of the fundamental belief that dogs are an inferior form of life, and therefore it is acceptable to treat them in a manner worse than you would treat a human.  (Note:  I am not a vegetarian, in fact, I had steak for dinner last night, but the difference is that the deaths of those animals served a purpose, and while one can argue the necessity or morality of eating meat, the bottom line is that the cow’s death served a necessary purpose, whereas the torture and death of Vick’s dogs served no purpose other than entertainment, which is not a morally justifiable reason to kill)  Every major religion, from Judaism to Buddhism, argues that animal life is just as sacred as human life, and if you believe that God created the heavens and the earth, then it is implied that he created dogs as well, and in the absence of any specified pecking order (which the bible does not prescribe, in fact, it goes to great lengths to ensure that animals, when killed, are done so humanely) there is no reason to figure that human life is any more valuable than a dogs life.  It is modern society that argues otherwise, and by accepting Vick’s return to the NFL, we are actively going against religious teachings regarding the sacred nature of animals.

The second issue, that one can be rehabilitated without forgiveness from those you wronged, gets to the issue of who exactly has been hurt by Vick’s actions?  All the lives he hurt are animals, and are either dead or incapable of expressing forgiveness for what was done to them.  As such, there is no one to stand up and say, “No, what you did was wrong, and I don’t forgive you.”  All methods of correcting ones wrongs involve asking for forgiveness from those you wronged, from Alcoholics Anonymous to the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur where a person must ask everyone they’ve wronged in the past year for forgiveness, but Vick has no one who can stand up and forgive him, and as such, he can never truly repent for there is no one to accept his repentance.  Instead of actual forgivness, Vick’s rehabilitation will be based on the third party opinions of groups like the humane society, who will undoubtedly gain financially from their public support of Vick, Tony Dungy, who has no right to speak for the animals Vick murdered, or the NFL fan base, which is perhaps the most capricious fan base in all professional sports.  In other words, the only people who are expressing forgiveness of Vick are those he didn’t harm, and as a result, have no right to offer forgiveness. 

I realize that none of this matters, and that the NFL fans, led by the millions of dollars worth of PR we are about to witness, will gladly follow Vick and award him forgivness and say he has been rehabilitated.  There will be pictures of him holding dogs, performing acts of contrition, donating to charities, and kissing babies on the foreheads, but the only real question, and the one that truly expresses whether or not Vick can ever be forgiven, is this:  If you went away for a weekend, would you let Michael Vick look after your dogs?

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Sandwich wars

August 12, 2009

The lunch time tension in my office has just escalated.  If there was a doomsday clock for deli meats, it would be set at five minutes to midnight.  Historically, my sandwiches reigned supreme and were the undisputed unipolar power in the office.  No one could hope to achieve parity with my hearty ciabatta rolls containing ample portions of corned beef, hard salami, pepper jack cheese, and horseradish sauce.  The intoxicating odor emanating from the microwave when I heated up my sandwich so as to lightly melt the cheese was so overpowering that all those whose olfactory senses were stimulated knew that they could only dream of one day achieving such power.  But now there is a challenger.  My new boss, ‘inspired’ by my sandwich creations, has stepped up production of his own sandwiches and is now attempting to create a bi-polar office in which the two dominant sandwich makers compete for resources and control.  Further complicating the situation is the guy in the cubicle next to me who is also investing more time and energy into his sandwiches, thereby threatening to turn the entire office into a (gasp!) multipolar setting.  Nothing good can come of this.  Bipolar is fine, but the last time there was a multipolar setting the result was World War I!  Bipolar works for awhile, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that the only way to maintain piece and stability amongst the lunch time crowd is to establish a firm and overpowering unipolar sandwich.  It’s time to step up my game, time to stop resting on my laurels and time to step up to the plate (actually, I wrap my sandwich in aluminum foil, but that’s besides the point).  It’s time to bust out the pickles. 

I should probably tell my wife.