Archive for January, 2011

The good news: our kids grow up and kick butt.

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

It’s always great to hear from the new generation of homeschoolers. Specifically, it’s good to hear that they appreciate and agree with the decision we made to homeschool them.

Here’s a lovely article by a young adult homeschooler. It was great news, so far as I was concerned.

Of course, the bad news is that civilians are still incredibly ignorant about homeschooling. And have opinions about it anyway.

I try not to read the comments on homeschooling articles for exactly this reason, but this time I gave in. I also posted a few much-needed replies.

One thing I didn’t bother pointing out, since plenty of other writers were on the job, was how absurd it was to make snide comments about the writer’s incorrect use of the phrase “my brother and I,” when it should have been “my brother and me.”  One commenter in particular (whom I replied to, and who didn’t have a big enough pair to answer) said that this writer’s parents apparently didn’t do such a good job with grammar. Implying, of course, that we parents aren’t qualified to homeschool if our kids grow up and make any mistakes about anything, ever.

Which is interesting, because when I took an English class at a local college, students were occasionally required to read their work aloud. More than one of them made that exact same mistake. And all of them had gone to public schools.

So we should get rid of those next, right? Since obviously they don’t work. Since that’s the criterion we’re using.

Another commenter used a variation of a psychological trick my husband read about recently. Basically, it’s along these lines: If you try to argue as to whether or not something exists at all (“There’s human waste in bottled water!”), you’ll have people arguing on both sides. If you use a number instead (“There are 57 parts per thousand of human waste in bottled water”)  people will argue with the number itself, but they’ll accept the basic premise. Please excuse my disgusting example and take my point.

So, speaking of human waste: a poster named Jesse jumped on the “she don’t got good grammer” train. (Why, yes — many of the people who picked on the author’s grammar did make errors when it came to grammar, spelling, and punctuation.) Jesse had this to say:

“marsha, do you REALLY believe there is only ONE mistake in the whole story? reread the first paragraph. it’s hard to keep track of how many errors it ALONE has.”

I don’t know for sure if this is the same Jesse who has ten top reasons for homeschooling, but given the attitude, it very well might be. Here’s the first paragraph in question.

“I didn’t go to preschool. And then I didn’t go to kindergarten. And after that I didn’t go to elementary school. Or middle school. Or high school, even. I was homeschooled.”

Riddled with errors? I don’t think so.

I invited Jesse to give an example of even one of these alleged grammatical mistakes. Shockingly, he or she has failed to do so.

Which is pretty much what I’d expect from someone who’s got the pair to capitalize (and not capitalize) in that fashion while criticizing someone else’s writing.

Oh, but that’s different! That kind of casual typing is appropriate to a comment posted on such a site!

Well, Fridkis’ writing voice is appropriate to the kind of writing she was doing. She’s employing a style not everyone likes, but she’s doing what you do in a piece like this: writing as if she were conversing with the reader. In other words, she’s speaking in a voice appropriate and necessary to a personal essay. If she were writing a tech manual, it would be different. But she’s not, and she’s not pretending to be.

If you’re going to be a writing nerd in public, get it right, people. No matter where you went to school.

Anyway. Enjoy the essay.

Following the Greeks on a modern tragedy.

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Forget his name as quickly as you can.

That’s what I want to do, anyway. Remember what happened, mourn the dead, condole the wounded and bereaved, celebrate the heroes.

And forget one name in particular.

I don’t agree with the ancient Greeks on everything. Clearly their attitude toward women, slavery, and what constitutes citizenship needed some serious help.

But they got some stuff really right. They were pretty darned close when it came to the circumference of the earth (which they knew was round, no thanks to Columbus). Their plays still kick some serious hinderquarters.

And they knew that immortality consists of the world knowing your name even after you’re past knowing anything.

Once upon a time in ancient Greece, a man set a very important and beautiful temple on fire. He freely admitted his guilt; in fact, he’d done it because he knew that the news would spread, and his name would go with it. He figured this was his shot at immortality.

The authorities were clever men. Bad enough if this guy got his wish; worse if others decided to follow his example and take the quick and dirty path to glory.

So first they executed the man. And then they made repeating his name an offense punishable by death.

I’m not absolutely convinced that this incident really took place. It’s too neat a warning story, for one. And the temple was made of marble. How the heck do you set that on fire?

But the point is a great one. The Romans, who adored all things Greek, later made this idea their own with the practice of damnatio memoriae. There’s a lovely little article about this practice over here, which I’ll take the liberty of quoting:

“If the Senate or a later Emperor did not like the acts of an individual, they could have their property seized, their names erased and their statues reworked. Because there is an economic incentive to seize property and rework statues anyway, historians and archaeologists have had difficulty determining when damnatio memoriae actually took place.”

We don’t follow that lead, which is a shame. We lavish fame on the guilty.

We’re honoring the wrong people and stinting the heroes.

Here are some names we should memorize. We can put them in the place where we usually keep the Arizona shooter and the people who murdered JFK, Robert Kennedy, and John Lennon:

Patricia Maisch
Bill Badger
Roger Sulzgeber
Joseph Zimudie

They’re the ones who stopped the Arizona shooter. It’s impossible to know how many lives they saved by their actions.

We all know they were there. We all know what they did. But we’re not hearing their names nearly often enough.

I love all of them, but I must admit I have a particular soft spot for Patricia Maisch, who is 61 years old and who served a reporter blueberry tea; and Bill Badger, who is 74 and a retired army colonel. Both are living proof that you’re never to old to kick righteous arse when it needs kicking.

Let’s do the right kind of forgetting along with our remembering.

Why I should Twitter.

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

The good news: For the first December in I don’t know how many years, I didn’t get a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection.

The bad news: Possibly because I was too busy spending quality time with the stupid dumb chronic pain-and-nausea thing for days at a stretch.

I had a bunch of Decembery stuff I wanted to talk about here, and a lot of it just didn’t happen.

But I did unleash some great lines on my poor family.

Stuff like:

“I’m bleeding so hard right now, I’m surprised you guys can’t hear it.”

(If you’re female and you want to clear the room for any reason at all, you’re welcome to use that one. It works. Trust me.)

And (to my son, who had just pumped up my new exercise ball and was carrying it around at waist level pretending to be in labor):

“Cut it out. You are NOT pregnant. Now put that baby down and help find Mommy’s sweatshirt.”

And (just a few minutes ago):

“Be nice! I’M HOLDING LIZARD POO!”

Seriously. I could be the star of Bleep The Bitter Homeschooler Says.

Now I have to go howl in pain for a while. I just took all my painkillers and my butt still hates me.