Teaching a Four Year Old Relativity

This is funny.

I must say, I did a bit better teaching a bit of cosmology to a rapt seven year old, when she asked about the edge of space. Better still with the entire history of the causes and results of the Civil War, slavery and the civil rights movement in about ten minutes or so of lecture mode, prompted by a question on it by the six year old, who then left while I discussed it with the seven year old. Also did a pretty good job of explaining what money and value are, though that’s an ongoing lesson.

Party Time

Took the five year old to a classmate’s birthday party at a skating rink/fun center today. He’d certainly never been skating, and I’d not gone since I was a kid. My father skated all the time, and we’d go with him sometimes. For him it even went as far as roller skating dance competitions. There were rinks everywhere, then. Along the line, most of them disappeared. Was it because of the advent of rollerblades? Anyway…

We walked in and he went all shy, and was taken aback by the blaring music. Which was, in my opinion, a fair bit too loud, and nothing I’d have chosen to listen to myself. He refused to try skating, which would have been easy because they had nifty 3-wheeled supports for kids to use while learning. Plus almost everyone skating was around his age. He turned 5 in August, young for his kindergarten class, while the girl whose birthday it was turned 6 this week, old for her class. Not many were older kids.

He hid behind me when the classmate’s dad introduced himself. We spent most of the time there sitting in one spot at a table, where he ate fries, since he still can’t (as far as we know, and at any rate won’t) eat pizza (dairy allergy in the process of fading), which was what was being served. Everyone else went back to skating or the arcade. He kept eating fries and refusing to try skating. He refused to sit at the table with the other kids for the food. He then refused to sit at the table with the other kids to sing happy birthday and have cake. He refused to try the cake, except a tiny taste of frosting from my piece.

Eventually, not that long before the end, when few people were in the arcade, he was willing to go try games. Turned out a lot of them were broken or had issues. Air hockey lacked pucks. Ms. Pac Man had a screen too dim to see. The claw crane for stuffed animals game didn’t work right, in the form of running for a matter of a couple seconds and only moving side to side, not back to front. He had the most fun riding a little 4-horse carousel.

They were announcing the end of the party, having people turn in their free skates, and after that, when it was time to leave, he points at the rink, wanting to try that. Doh! I told him it was time to leave, that we weren’t going to pay to rent skates now, and he should have gotten comfortable sooner. I suspect it helped that there were just two people skating at that point.

I’m not sure even his shy and overly emotional older sister, the middle child and 6 year old, has exhibited that much shyness. She’d have sat with the other kids and maybe even been forward with them. Or at least she’d have gotten past it sooner. Oh well. And he’s so charming! Other kids seem crazy about him. Much like me at the same age, when I was possibly just as shy, unless I was in the right element. I lost the charming more than the shyness. Though I managed to charm the nurses in the hospital a couple weeks ago, which made me think that if I’d had that in me when I was younger and it mattered, I’d be talking about the antics of adult children and even grandchildren now, not children in kindergarten, first and second grades.

Paterno and Sandusky

I read an article about Paterno and the Sandusky thing recently (it may have been within the context of a broader article about how pedophiles groom and often get away with it indefinitely), and was fascinated by the description of Paterno’s total immersion in one topic, one obsessive interest. It made me say “total aspie.” It’s a wonder he could function as well as he apparently did.

That later made me realize that, before the scandal broke, I could not have told you who Paterno was without context, though I’d have recognized the name as one I’d heard of, and thus presumably famous for something.

I’d never heard of Sandusky at all.

Is that weird, or what? I’m probably a rarity, in both cases.

I Love My Kids

And I am not “a mom,” but I can totally understand this (up to the point I’ve read, but I know I’m gonna link it when I’m done, and I don’t have time to read the rest now, so why not bookmark it here for myself now… and for our many readers… oh wait). My oldest was not unwanted, but sure wasn’t wanted YET. She’s still impatient. Having kids is a huge opportunity cost, even more than a cash cost. It doesn’t help when we have a society that encourages helicopterism, and wants kids bundled in proverbial bubble wrap lest there be risk or the taking of chances. The environmentalists want nobody to drive an SUV or large car. The for-the-childrenists force us to swaddle them in child seats ad nauseum, requiring an SUV or large car if you dare be fertile. It’s crazy.

Jerky Burgers

Inspired by a graphic on Facebook of non-rotting burgers and fries from multiple fast food joints, I looked up the truth about the proverbial McDonald’s burger that won’t spoil. I thought I recalled it being bogus, but I couldn’t remember details, so perhaps I’d merely assumed as much. The scientific method: It’s a Good Thing.

Speaking of the Bus Stop

The three kids are in consecutive grades, with the youngest now in kindergarten For the prior two years, the only people designated for the bus stop on this street were in this building, so we were able to get the bus immediately across the street. That was handy for being able to wait on the porch in weather, and for not having to walk any distance or be out sooner rather than later. It was a bit surprising to hit this year and discover that there were 5-6 other kindergarten kids on our street and around the corner.

Anyway,on top of what she said, there is also the matter of smoking. These parents who are so apparently helicoptery to their precious little kindergarteners (and older siblings), walking them right to the bus door for a long good-bye (and panicking because the older ones have to walk the half mile to the elementary school… can’t have free range kid practice in this dreadfully dangerous semi-rural town donchaknow), most of them smoke. Around their kids and around other people. At the bus stop. I found myself trying not to cough from it yesterday and thinking that I’d be an asshole to complain, because I hate to be That Person. It’s outdoors, after all. At the same time, my heart sank, imagining this Alll Year Long.

At least it’s transient, not like having someone on the first floor smoking all winter when the first and second floor apartments irreparably share air space. Still… Ugh.

2016: Obama’s America

Today I saw 2016: Obama’s America over in Kingston, which is remarkably close for a documentary of the sort that would normally be little seen. It may help that we’re in a movie wasteland at the moment, and the film got enough momentum to make it clear to theater owners it had an audience. Yay, revenue! It sure doesn’t hurt that it’s timely.

I was familiar with the Dinesh D’Souza theory, explaining Obama via anticolonialism, as opposed to mere marxism or the like. It had seemed sound, and seems more so after seeing the well made film that makes it explicable to the broader public.

The film in part is an autobiography of D’Souza himself, especially in the beginning, since he and Obama have such similarities in their backgrounds. I was pleased to learn that D’Souza, like Obama, is a fellow 1961 baby. I’d hoped that Obama would make our birth year look good, so it’s distressing that exactly the opposite has happened.

I’m not surprised that Obama is unhappy, now that the film has clearly found a significant audience. It’s almost a shame it needs to generate revenue, so it can’t simply be made freely available to all before the election. Bad as the alternative (the primary one who can actually win, apologies to the admirable Gary Johnson, best of the three), there is no way a second Obama term will end well. Worse if he somehow tries to extend his first term, as some have surmised is possible from someone who is cunning yet obfuscatedly stupid.

I was pleased that, in one important detail, the film did not spare George W. Bush, who helped make Obama possible, and who shines as an example of how rogue a second term can go. In an ideal world, we could go back and have someone who wasn’t a ridiculous alternative run against Bush and win in 2004. Kerry? Really?

If the film has a weak point, it is toward the end. It’s all build up, little conclusion, at least when weighed against the name of the film. 2016… what will it be like if Obama inexplicably wins another term? That part seems like three sentences inserted at the end of a thirty page term paper. Perhaps there need be no more than that, since anyone with a brain can observe and extrapolate (more so after seeing the movie), but it felt a bit like false advertising. Not that it’s a special effects heavy disaster film, flashing forward to show the seas rising and a wounded planet festering irrecoverably. Just the facts, man, to make of what you will.

Well worth seeing. You will know Obama when it’s through, which there was not enough (none) of the last time around. I mean, know him beyond what you have observed of his time in office. Go. See it. Make it the number one political documentary.