Monday, July 27, 2015

Fun With Childcare (Part 2)

Having miraculously managed to get both children into the same reputable day-care without a hasty religious conversion, we set about getting our paperwork in order and attending the parental orientation. This was a big deal because you want to make a good impression on the director while scoping out the parents of the other kids. I wore my good socks.

The orientation consisted of the director going over the perpetually-expanding handbook and soliciting feedback from the parents in attendance. There were the expected questions about lunch routines and disciplinary procedures, but then a couple behind us began asking questions about liquid intake. They revealed that their child did not drink “city tap” and that they would need to provide their own pre-filtering water. The mother then asked what brand of juice they provided for the children. I am fairly certain that I heard an audible groan of displeasure when the director cheerfully answered “whatever’s cheapest.” They also indicated that their child would need “essential oils” applied in the event of injury. They bookended these questions by assuring us all that they were not “high maintenance or anything.”

It was a relief to have this couple in our group since they would serve as the unofficial threshold for unreasonable requests. Two months in, I could probably demand my children be addressed as “your majesty” and only nap facing magnetic north and not get any pushback.   
We were then handed the paperwork to complete and bring back prior to the start of the year. The first few pages were standard fare. Parent info, emergency contact, child’s doctor, etc. Then the questions started getting interesting and my wife forbade me from completing the forms. So below are the actual questions and the answers that I wished to submit:

Does their child get their own way with other children? If not, how does the child react?
Is the entire family together for any time during the day?
We have an airing of grievances each evening at 7:42 PM
If the child refuses to eat, how is this handled and by whom?
Brutally, and by Liam Neeson
Habits associated with going to bed / sleep?
Reduced heart-rate / slowed breathing / extended periods of unconsciousness
What word does your child use for a bowel movement?
Excremental egress
At what age did the child creep?
This is offensive.
What are some ways the child plays at home?
He enjoys high-stakes poker and wire fraud
Were there any problems with pregnancy or your child’s birth?
Unrelenting physical pain followed by a crippling financial burden
Does your child scratch his/her genital area?
What is your child afraid of?
Does the child speak well?
Of whom?
Does your child wet the bed and if so, how is this handled?
Yes, I make him watch through the window while I run over one of his stuffed animals with the push mower.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Stars & Bars

Full disclosure, I am white and was born and have lived all my life in a secessionist state. Like most of you, I am tired of hearing about the Confederate flag. Its supporters argue that its place on the South Carolina statehouse should be attributed to “heritage and not hate” and that we cannot change history based upon the ever-fickle whims of public sensibility. Opponents of the flag believe its presence was (and is) nothing more than a blatant reminder of racism, oppression, and slavery. Therein lies the difficulty of interpreting symbols, they rarely remain stagnant and the stars and bars are no exception.

The flag first went up at the South Carolina capital on April 11, 1961 at the request of Representative John A. May who subsequently announced his intention to introduce a bill that would have it remain there for one year to celebrate the Confederate War Centennial. For whatever reason, the adopted bill omitted a removal date so the flag simply remained where it was. That we know. The mindset of those who placed it there can become murkier.

We know that up until 1948, the Confederate flag rarely appeared outside of Civil War reenactments or Confederate commemorations and was utilized simply as a tribute to the heroism of Confederate veterans. Then came the State’s Rights Democratic Party or “Dixiecrats” who adopted the flag as “a symbol of Southern protest and resistance to the Federal government.” The Dixiecrats, and their presidential nominee Strom Thurmond, ran on a pro-segregation platform opposed to Federal “totalitarianism” and “interference with individual rights.” From this point on, the flag became increasingly intertwined with the pro-segregationist movement.

Given that context, one could argue that by the time the flag was placed atop the South Carolina capital in 1961, few involved would have been unaware of its racial connotations. Daniel Hollis, a member of the commission that planned South Carolina’s Confederate War Centennial, later indicated that even he was against placing the Confederate flag atop the capital.

One could perhaps argue that, like the 1948 Dixiecrats, accused-killer Dylan Roof further hijacked the symbolism of the Confederate flag when he associated it with the racially-motivated Charleston church shootings. Regardless, the tide has turned against the stars and bars and we found out today that it will no longer fly at the capital of South Carolina.

The decision did not shock me as much as the backlash against it did. After all, the majority of those who defend the Confederate flag are political conservatives who lean heavily toward state’s rights and the removal of the flag was a decision made by Republican-controlled state legislation and endorsed by the Republican governor. The removal is, in many ways, a case study in the exercising of a state’s right to decide what appears at its own capital.

By virtue of the Google News lottery, I found myself reading the write-up of the decision which invariable leads me to the comment section. I observed the following patterns:
1.      Rampant use of the derogatory suffix “tard” by proponents of all ideological persuasions. Notable examples include “Foxtard” and “Obamatard.” Your lack of creativity is only narrowly surpassed by your inability to participate in meaningful dialogue.
2.      In a few instances, comments dismissing racial aspects of the issue as inventions of the “liberal dogs” were followed by comments referring to African-Americans as “pavement apes.”
3.      One person accused government welfare of being nothing more than “reparations” while an angry liberal referred to Social Security Disability checks as “patriot payments” disproportionately going to small government conservatives.
There was even a solid response to a “The South will rise again…” comment when someone finished the thought with “…in illiteracy and obesity rates.” What was really striking was the lack of information when it came to what the decision means. Several people assumed that this was a Federal ban on buying, selling, or displaying the flag and/or the end of America.

While several large retailers have stopped carrying it (Wal-Mart, Amazon) they did so for the most important reason in business: money. If something goes from being a fiscal asset to a financial liability you stop carrying it. Once again, the people most upset about the decision made by these private businesses tend to be ardent supporters of autonomy for private businesses.
The bottom line is that you can still buy and display a Confederate, Nazi, or ISIS flag if you want to. You can fly it in your yard next to a giant sign that says “Death to America” because that is your right. That being said, I am not sure that we need to digitally edit Dukes of Hazard reruns or remove historical markers, but I do support the decision to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s capital. Laying aside any racial implications, it is a historical flag that represents one of the darkest and most divisive periods in this country’s history. It belongs in a museum and at re-enactments, not atop a state capital.

At its best, a democracy reflects the evolving views of its majority while protecting the rights of its minority. It would appear that South Carolina has exemplified that in this case.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Random Thoughts 8

  • I have decided to build and offer Second Aid Kits. This seems prudent for two reasons:

1.      The first aid kit market is already over-saturated.
2.      The expectations are lower with a second-aid kit.

This would be for people who wish to offer token support in the event of a medical crisis. I haven’t settled on the contents yet but it will probably include a box of Dollar General Band aids, expired aspirin, a King James Bible and, depending on how effective the first aid kit was, either a Get Well card or a note of condolence.
  • Judge me if you will, but my son loves it when I read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to the tune of Regulate by Warren G.

  • I enjoy it when people interject political ideas into the commentary section pf otherwise unrelated YouTube videos. There is nothing like watching, say, a miniature pony arc-weld and then scrolling down to find “Once Obama’s third term starts he will implement sharia law and mandatory unarmed abortions.”
  • There is so much irony when a 24hr news network convenes a panel to discuss the proliferation of mass shootings and a participant laments that such tragedies tend to be spurned by “excessive media coverage.”

Ultimate Country Song
I was born on an old dirt road
So poor that momma’s birth-plan was the commode
Drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon on a Saturday night
It gets hard to tell who your kinfolk are in the pale moonlight.
Her eyes danced in the taillights of my four-wheel drive
Singing along to A County Boy Can Survive
It ain’t easy being a cusband and a father
Can’t mix Brittani-Sue’s formula with pond-water
Family tree got messier than an ink-blotter
Why’d I have to put the moves on Uncle Cooter’s only daughter?
Looks like we got another bun in the oven
We keep this mobile home rockin’ like a tornado’s coming
Fingers crossed and Good Lord willin’
I’ll get my new boat when she shatters Wal-Mart’s glass ceiling

  • Not long ago, I found myself in a drive-thru line behind a woman in a Volvo SUV that featured the personalized license plate “HURTIN.”

1.      She is among the millions of Americans who live with chronic pain.
2.      She is facing financial insolvency.
3.      Hurtin is her surname.

I really hope it is the second option because that would mean that someone paid extra to affix a personalized license plate to a $45,000 SUV for the purposes of advertising their poverty.