Tuesday, January 31, 2012

on science in science classrooms

The Indiana Senate just passed a SB 0089 which allows public schools to teach creationism in science class as long as they teach origin of life theories from multiple religions. The bill now goes to the House, where hopefully saner heads will prevail.

We've been sent back to the 1950s.

I have a few thoughts on this bit of legislation.

1) If you subscribe to any particular religion, you should absolutely defend the separation of church and state rather than argue that "it doesn't exist". The whole point of that idea is to protect religions from state interference. Why do so many forget that? And only when it is convenient. Is it ok to push a particular religion? If you are Christian and answer "yes" when it is yours but are disgusted by theocracies elsewhere in the world, think about what that means. Just remember that when a particular religion is protected, other religions suffer. You could be on the losing end.

2) Creationism is not science. Please don't argue that "evolution is just a theory" unless you really understand what a scientific theory is. Hint: it means a hypothesis has been proven. Think Theory of Relativity. Science uses particular methods to investigate how things happen. Creationism has not been tested using scientific methods. Is it a valid subject? In certain classes, yes. Not in science class.

3) Science tries to answer "how". Religion explores "why". These are different questions. The Theory of Evolution explains the process by which living things have developed. It actually isn't in conflict with creationism. This is why the Pope and Catholic Church, for example, endorses evolution as the process God used to create the world. (Science doesn't care if there is a Supreme Being pushing the buttons.)

4) For an interesting fictional take on the argument, I suggest Chapter 9, Cosmos, in Piers Anthony's For Eternity. This is the 7th book in the Incarnations of Immortality series. I highly recommend the entire series, but this chapter in particular is a trial of science (evolution and the Big Bang theory) vs. religion (Creationism). Of particular note is that the Biblical "day" can be interpreted as "as long as the stage took". Because does God really follow an Earth day? Or would God have his own timeline?

So about teaching creation is science? It's not science. It isn't in conflict with science, but it isn't science. It doesn't belong in science class. As part of social studies, history, theology, or a variety of other classes? Absolutely, as long as other religious viewpoints are included. Because the place for true religious doctrine to be taught is at home or in church or mosque or synagogue or whatever religious institution subscribes to that religion. (Even if you are Christian, do you trust that YOUR particular brand of Christianity will be taught? Because it just might be another group's viewpoint that is given.)

Monday, January 30, 2012

January goal assessment

At the beginning of the month I posted about 5 goals I have for this year. To keep me on track, I plan to post my progress each month. January ends tomorrow, so here is this month's assessment:

Goal 1 is to finish my novel. I didn't get nearly as far as I had hoped this month. Writing when the boys are around it difficult (they entertain themselves just fine until I try to do something) and this was a month with few opportunities to write in peace. My writing time is Tuesday and Thursday when the boys are in school - and they were home more often than planned due to school closure or illness. I need to make more time. I finished a revision of chapter 12 and am working on chapter 13, which I hope to finish by tomorrow.

Goal 2 is to finish our screenplay. I haven't touched this in months because I'm pushing through on the novel. I have a hard time concentrating on multiple projects at once so my writing suffers. I likely won't make progress on this for a couple more months until the novel is done, unless I need to take a break.

Goal 3 is to read 40 books this year. I'm ahead on this goal, having read 6 books so far. Sick time has helped here and I fully expect the summer and holiday season to slow me down, so it's probably good that I'm ahead right now.

Goal 4 is to see at least 1 movie at the IU Cinema each month. In January, we went to "Being Elmo", so this goal has been accomplished for the month.

Goal 5 is to visit a state park each month. We went to McCormick's Creek State Park early in January, thus making this goal for the month.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with my progress. I know where my weakness is (making time to write) so I can work on correcting that.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I also have awesome friends

Yesterday I wrote about my awesome husband. Last night a group of my friends proved just how awesome they are.

I hosted the monthly book club for my moms group last night. About an hour before it was to start, Wil, who had seemed to skate through this last illness, complained he wasn't feeling good. No wonder, as he had developed a fever. Knowing Chris was capable of taking care of the boys, I went ahead with book club (the boys would be either downstairs or upstairs from where we were meeting).

Cue delightful book club wherein everyone talked about a book we all enjoyed and talk eventually turned to other topics.

And just as the first "I should get home" noises were being made, the sound of coughing (horrible sound from Wil; he had croup as a baby and his cough has always sounded a little "croupy" ever since) and crying started upstairs. Since I was closer, I went up to check just in time for Wil to throw up - in bed.

Amanda and Allison got Chris to come help. The whole group started picking up the dishes and food, even rinsing stuff and loading the dishwasher. The living room and dining room were immaculate by the time I came downstairs. And then the 6 women left (but not a hasty retreat; just a "we should go so you can deal with your sick child and it was time to go anyway" departure).

Do you have friends who will clean up your kitchen in a pinch? I learned last night that I do. Sometimes it's the little things.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I have an awesome husband

Today I met two friends, also mothers of young children, for lunch. We try to do this once a month, usually when all the kids are in school so we can have grown-up talk.

It almost didn't happen this time. The boys have both been home sick all week. One of the women was also dealing with a sick child (he's feeling better and back in school today). The other friend was sick last week....

When Chris came home last night, I told him I had canceled my lunch plans because the boys would be home once again. He looked at his schedule for today and told me to email back that I'd be there - as long as I could get him back to work by 1:30.

He squeezed in coming home for lunch today, between meetings, because he wanted me to be able to go to lunch.

Yep, he rearranged his schedule as much as possible because having grown-up time and getting out of the house and friends are all important. Especially when I've been stuck in the house all week with sick kids. Who are feeling better today. I know this because they've been fighting. (It's been a rather quiet week around here. As much as I've enjoyed that, I am kind of glad for the battles because it means they feel more like themselves.)

Tonight I host this month's book club for my moms group. I scheduled this before Chris started learning the bagpipes. Yep, his bagpipe group meets on Thursday nights. And he's staying home so I don't have to deal with the kids while trying to have a discussion about this month's book (Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy).

Can I point out that this is normal in our house? And I hope it is normal in other houses. That Dad stays home and parents while Mom goes out sometimes. Just like Mom stays home and parents while Dad is out at work or playing bagpipes. We both have things we like to do (I have my writing group and book club; Chris has his bagpipes and movie-making). We both make time for each other to pursue those interests. Sometimes there are time conflicts, in which case one of us changes plans or we hire a babysitter for the evening.

Because it's important.

I've heard other moms comment that Dad was home 'babysitting'. Or Mom cancels her plans when the kids are sick because, even though Dad will be home, she has to 'be there'. Those are things Chris and I have worked very hard to not have in our house. Chris doesn't babysit, he parents. And he would be insulted if you said he was babysitting. He can take care of sick kids just as well as I can (sometimes better since he deals with puke better than I do).

Besides being good for our relationship, I think it's good that our boys are seeing this too. They see that Daddy can take care of them. Yes, he does things differently than I do, but that's ok. He's showing the boys that men are capable. That being a dad is important. that kids aren't just for the women to deal with.

And that's the best lesson they could learn.

Monday, January 23, 2012

When kids are sick

There are few things that make you feel more helpless than having sick kids. It's worst when they are infants, when they can't tell you what's wrong. Plus they are so small and vulnerable.

As they get bigger, they can tell you what hurts and that they don't feel good. But I, at least, still feel a powerless in the face of a puking 3 year old. As spasms wrack his little body, he sobs, wanting Mommy to make it better. And there's not much I can do but help him aim into the toilet.

My sick baby, on his 2nd nap and 2nd set of pajamas.
Whether they have a fever or a bad cold and congestion or a stomach ailment, there isn't much I can do except cuddle them. And love them.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In which Chris sees what I see

In September, National Geographic Magazine had an article about machisma, female empowerment, and Brazil's falling birthrate. The article explores the link between increased access to television (and telenovelas) and increased education/lower birthrate as more Brazilians aspire to a middle class lifestyle. It's really quite interesting.

The January issue contains letters from readers in regards to the story. There are only 3 letters printed about this story, but something struck me immediately about them. I handed the magazine to Chris and asked him to read them. Without telling him why.

He saw the same thing I did.

The 3 letters are all written by men. All 3 poo-poo the idea that change is happening or even a good thing. They are full of patriarchal misogyny.

I wish I could find a link to the letters online.

They made me sad. And angry. This is the problem: blatant sexism is easy to recognize; the status quo not so much. People who think things are fine and don't see a reason for them to change, who don't understand that there is a patriarchy and that women should have rights, are hard to convince.

When you hear someone make rude remarks about women staying in the kitchen, it's easy to fight that. And it's easy for others to see how wrong their remarks are.

When someone remarks, in regards to a story like this, that "riches and glamour are the new despots, not ancestral values and gentle reason", they are saying only men can be reasonable. Only men are capable of determining where a country should go and how many kids a woman should have and what kind of lifestyle is appropriate.

And that's what is wrong with these letters. They all imply that the gains women have made, deciding when and how many kids they will have, choosing more education, are unimportant.

I read feminist blogs. I'm aware of little things (although I don't see as many as some feminists). Chris doesn't and he still found those letters disturbing. Now, he has a feminist bent (I wouldn't have married him if he didn't). But he's not as in tune with the issues. And he saw what I saw.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goals not resolutions

I don't like New Year's resolutions. They never work. But I do have a few goals for this year that I hope to accomplish.

  1. Finish my novel. I didn't finish revisions last year, but I am very close and am determined to do it this year. I am a slow writer, but I need to make more time to sit and write. I get distracted by all the other things I want to do much too easily. My writing group has helped a lot by having deadlines to finish a chapter or two. 
  2. Finish our screenplay. I have a draft, but it needs polishing. It's a little spare right now, about 10 minutes. I want to expand it to 15 or 20 minutes. I have joined the Bloomington Screenwriting Community to help motivate me. 
  3. I am taking the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge. My goal is to read 40 books this year. I read 36 last year (according to their statistics) and have already completed 1 for this year. I guess I'm off to a good start.
  4. Chris and I are going to try to see at least 1 movie each month at the world class IU Cinema. We're already planning to see Being Elmo this weekend and Oscar Nominated Shorts - Live Action and Oscar Nominated Shorts - Animated in February.
  5. Visit a state park once per month. I ordered our state park pass online yesterday and it was shipped today. It may be difficult during the winter months, but we'll try as many months as possible, weather permitting, to visit a state park. Within a very short distance we have several, including Brown County State Park, Lake Monroe, McCormick's Creek, Lake Lemon, Spring Mill State Park.... We need to explore them all!
What are your goals for the year?