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Monday, January 28, 2013

For Sci-fi (adult or teen) novelists or writers of any kind of young adult novel: Check out the 13th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog @ http://tinyurl.com/a8msdw2

Monday, September 17, 2012

122 Student,
Read the op. ed.
http://ideas.time.com/2012/09/11/is-it-really-the-end-of-men/?iid=op-main-lede

Then view Melissa Harris-Perry's presentation of the topic, personal opinion, and her panelist's thoughts at:
http://ideas.time.com/2012/09/11/is-it-really-the-end-of-men/?iid=op-main-lede
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46979745/vp/49052311#49052311

Then, create a well-organized, personal experience evidence supported response.  Post your response on the blog for extra credit.
Dr. B.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46979745/vp/49052172#49052172

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Caught in a Loophole


10 a.m.  Saturday August 4, 2012
“Don’t forget, it’s tax-free weekend!” my mother hollered over her shoulder as she headed out of our house on Saturday, August 4th. 
My heart began to race, my palms became wet with sweat as, in my mind, I began rearranging my family’s whole weekend so that my husband and I could get to the stores before everything we needed was stripped from the shelves:  shoes and clothes for our ever-growing nine and eighteen year old boys, sheets for our oldest son’s new bed in his first apartment,  and something, anything else on the tax-free approved list we might need or be able to sneak into the cart: new pencils, pens, paper, folders, crayons, pens, erasers, printer ribbon, and the list goes on.  Maybe I could even load up on some new work clothes for myself and my husband whose field-boots were looking worse for wear these days. 
Use to be, I didn’t pay much attention to this money-saving holiday.  It wasn’t as though the savings didn’t matter, but, well, they didn’t matter so much or enough for me to give over a whole weekend (or even a few hours) to shopping in order to save what, for many of us, may only amount to a few dollars.  I don’t enjoy shopping , no matter what shape it takes – grocery or clothes or furniture or home d├ęcor; I simply do not relish traipsing through stores looking around for things I need and sometimes don’t.   
But this year, like last year, like the year before, things are different and, while I may not be saving the date on my calendar, I am willing to forgo a day at the beach to get the savings I can from these state-sanctioned tax-free moments in time.  Frankly, every little bit counts to just about every single one of us.  From the single beaten and battered penny found in a parking lot to the $13.50 +/- saved in taxes by shopping on a tax-free weekend, the money we can save matters and the money all of us can save on all of our taxes matters even more. 
This is why understanding the issue of taxation this election should be of paramount importance to all of us.  Surprisingly, however, many have no idea what this issue is about or what our presidential candidates propose doing to make a difference in our lives via our taxes.  It’s a downright dirty shame that this issue is so muddy, so little understood by so very many voters. 
But for many Americans the lack of lucidity surrounding this issue is no different from the lack of clarity surrounding any of the other issues up for grabs in November and on the table come January.   And this is the real travesty.   
Truly, those of us voting in this year’s presidential election for the next person to run our country for the next four years should know, inside and out, the issues the candidates for this position plan to address when in office and what they plan to do regarding those topics. For every single one of the issues on the table this election season affects every single one of us.  None of us is exempt from the effects of these decisions.
So, if when asked about the election you find yourself saying, “I don’t follow politics” or “I don’t know all the issues, I’m only concerned with . . . fill in the blank,” or “My vote doesn’t matter, so I’m not voting,” or any other answer that makes it clear you do not have enough information to make an informed decision, then be proactive in getting yourself educated about the upcoming election.  Here’s how to start:

Then, my dear 122 students, we can have a discussion.
Happy learning,
Dr. B.

Monday, July 23, 2012

On Religion: God and Me

Across our line of vision, a pair of deer appears in the road.  They stop to watch us coming at them.   We stand still . . . waiting.  We and they hold silent.  Then, effortlessly, they clear the berm, push airborne over the edge of the lake, and disappear across the soybean field into the distance.  The dog looks to me for assurance.  Her raised brows question, “Good to go?” I nod and we move on.  In my head, I say, “Thank you, God, for the dog and the deer this morning.” 
It’s odd that I offer this prayer of gratitude, for in truth, I am not a religious person.  I have a hard time accepting as real, as truth, that of which my reasoning, scientific, research-oriented mind typically needs tangible proof.  And yet, on the rare blue morning when the deer appear, the idea of God seems logical, rational, and absolute.  There can be no doubt, in moments like that, so simple, that something created the deer, the dog, and me.  We are incredibly complicated beings; there can be no way, in my mind, that we just arrived without something working in the process of creation.  Boom and we were here?    
My problem with religion has always been a matter of two things:  the prolific male definition of God (and the results of that: male dominated societies and, in some cases, the exclusion of female clergy) and the way of organized religions to use the prescriptions of their faith to condemn nonbelievers and to justify violence and oppression both of those within their faith and of those outside it.  These beliefs and their adjoining behaviors have been why I have kept religion at arms-length for so long. 
It is ironic that my new-found confidence in my questioning kind of “faithfulness” is due, in large part, to the Vatican, a bastion, in my opinion, of patriarchal and judgmental religious doctrine.  If not for the Vatican’s assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, I would not have had the chance to listen to Sister Pat Farrell speak (in an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air program last week) on the idea of God as a genderless, but no less magnificent creator who welcomes our wonder and does not rank us according to sex, race, class, or sexuality (etc.).  Her idea of God emphasized a unity, permitted query, and gave women equal value and place in the church. 
This struck home with me.  My heart left the Catholic Church years ago when, despite my great desire to serve the church, I was told I could not be an “Alter Server” because I was a girl.  Now, this was before canon 230, and I was only seven, so who knows where my desire to serve would have gone, but I do recall the emotions that followed my rejection based on sex.  First, I was ashamed for having been born a girl, an emotion no girl should have to wrestle.  Then I became angry – how dare the church reject me for being a girl?  Did not the church teach me that I was special simply because I was female and had the awesome God-granted ability to procreate?  How did all of this hypocritical thinking come together?  I could not make sense of it and I still can’t.  But Sister Farrell’s words last week gave comfort; she helped me understand that I was never alone in my belief that God (not a man) created all of us with the same value – in an image of wonder and that is reason enough to believe that I (like all women) are worthy of being teachers of all faiths and worth being heard.
For over ten years now, I have been talking with my sons about God and teaching them that the wonder of faith is, well, just that, wonder.  That is, faith is both believing and questioning.  In her interview on Fresh Air last week, Sister Farrell also articulated what has been the way of spirituality in my life. She wondered if you can be faithful and still question, can both religious leaders and their followers “raise questions openly and search for truth freely, with very complex and swiftly changing issues in our day?”  To this, her answer, my answer is we should, we must if we want God in our lives.  If we want faithfulness to be a positive guide for the next generation, there must be room for wonder.  
For some, any kind of religious questioning negates faith.  For others, any kind of doubt in science negates reason.  Neither is true. 
I question the popular notions of God and, yet, I am profoundly faithful.  I condemn religious teachings that oppress and persecute and, yet, I am intensely spiritual.  I believe in something larger than myself and yet I seek reason and, sometimes, proof -- like the dog and me walking and the deer crossing.  
 
Dr. B.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Not so funny after all.

Hi 121 Students,
I did not truly respond to the "rape" joke issue because I had not seen the routine mentioned. I have since gone to view it and to read and listen to the controversy surrounding it.

My stance is completely in line with that given by Jessica Valenti (great feminist author of "The Purity Myth" among other great reads) as provided in many medias over the weekend. Listen to her speak here on my favorite weekend political show, Melissa Harris Perry.

Here is the clip of Valenti and Perry addressing comedians and rape and, in particular, why Tosh's routine about rape, really and truly, well, wasn't funny and, in many ways, this kind of "rape" humor is dangerous.

Do watch the whole things -- after Valenti comedians speak for themselves about rape jokes and the Tosh issue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Vmc7aBG8d4

WATCH THE WHOLE THING.

View the clip here or on my blog http://notyouraveragekbk.blogspot.com/
and post your response on the blog as well for extra credit.

I look forward to your thoughts.
Dr. B.