Not a damned thing. Just never get around to adding more content…

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A Question of Atheist Scruples – kids and their friends

Apologies for blur; too lazy to find the card again and reshoot.

Your 10-year-old son’s best friend is neglected by his single parent. Your house has become his second home. Do you ask his parent to assume more responsibility?

It can be rough to be a single parent. Without dragging actual family history into this, I can at least say that shit gets in the way of getting other shit done, sometimes.

The Young one is 9 and the Hubs and I have been together/married for half his life, give or take. (edit – I’ve been informed by the Hubs that it’s more like 2/3) But his mom’s still single and while she’s had a few relationship attempts, nothing’s been quality and long term stable. Without specific details, we’ll just say “stuff” happened and it was good the boy has had our house and love as a reliable cushion for his life’s other stresses.

He’s yet to bring friends over, though we’re willing to accommodate them should the request be put forward. (Perhaps he’s thinking I’d say no? No to that..)

I’ve said to the Hubs previously that it’d be cool with me if our house became the friend hangout, and not just so we’d know what kind of kids he’s hanging with. Maybe as he gets a bit older that’ll be more likely on a Friday after school or something…

As a bit of an aside, but still somewhat relevant, who in the audience grew up reading Baby Sitter Club books? I sure as hell didn’t, but the three of us have devoured every graphic novel copy available so far (five of them, four of which are illustrated by the fabulous and heartily recommended Raina Telgemeier). I’m quite tempted to find the originals now. Anyway, in the fifth GN (done by artist Gale Galligan and also good), Dawn’s been tasked with sitting for the Barretts, three kids whose mother is far busier with her career crap to focus on the kids and has Dawn filling in a lot more than Dawn likes. She’s stuck cleaning the whole house, checking homework, and basically momming things up while the actual mom is off and running. Things come to a head the day the boy, who’s outside playing, goes missing. Dawn and the rest of the club and neighbours pitch in to look for the kid. Police are called and everything. Turns out Mrs. Barrett had her calendar wrong and it was supposed to be the ex’s day with the kids, so Dad (thinking the mrs was home) took the boy to “teach her a lesson.” Great lesson. But, Dawn got through to Mrs. Barrett, and the kids, too, that some things are things Mom needs to be around to handle. Happy ending.

Long aside there. Point is, presuming we’d know the parent of this kid, perhaps we already know why our house has become the second home. Maybe the parent is working two jobs just to afford a nice house to live in. Maybe the parent just has really long hours at the one job for the same reason. But maybe there are other problems at home for why the friend would rather hang with us than Mom or Dad. Maybe it’s drugs/alcohol? Maybe it’s abuse? For either of those, I don’t think we’d want to let it slide, but I don’t know how much we’d be able to do about it. I wouldn’t want to kick him off the sofa if that’s what’s waiting at home for him…

Another one I don’t really have a solid answer for. Obviously if we can get through to that parent to say, hey, Ricky’s spending a lot of time over here. What’s going on with this? Maybe it’s just been a short term work issue that’s taking him/her out of the house so much, and things will settle soon. If it turned out to be something more serious, then I guess we would need to get official professionals involved. Best I can do here.

Posted in Question of Atheist Scruples | Tagged , ,

Storytime- page 1

In an effort to be more creative, I’m pulling out my Rory’s Storycubes. No guarantees on story quality, but I’m going to roll a few cubes and see what happens in my brain for idea sparks as I roll each one. Here goes…

The padlock was old and rusted; the key missing. Amber Ross stood and stared at the beat-up steamer trunk, oblivious to the jostling crowd and chatter of serious antique hunters around her. She pinched and pulled on her lip with her fingers, thinking. She looked around for the seller. He was busy with an elderly woman bartering over the price of a rickety three legged table. Amber stared at the trunk again. What were the chances?

Gordy Ross finished explaining tattoo maintenance to his new customer who now sported a lightning bolt above one eye. The girl settled her bill and left the shop with a smile. He was mildly baffled why someone would set out to permanently mark herself to look like Harry Potter. Fandom got crazy, he supposed, but money was money.

Gordy’s mobile rang out the theme to Jurassic Park on melodica. He pulled it from his hip pocket and answered. “What up, twin?”

“Remember that story Granna Barker used to tell us? About her childhood? That boat trip from England?”

“Not this again” Gordy sighed. He sagged against the counter and rubbed his forehead with his free hand. He could hear the din of the flea market in the background and knew what she was going to say next. She’d found another trunk.

When they were children, they’d often been told the story by their great-grandmother. At a young age she’d been orphaned in London and sent abroad to live with whatever new family would take her. She was not the only child deported on that trip and belongings were mixed up and everything she had ever owned was lost in the shuffle and so on.

They were forty-four and Amber had been working the mystery for more than twenty years with little success. Amber had made it her life’s mission to somehow track down this missing trunk and contents. He adored his sister and understood the importance of family but Gordy never understood why the search possessed her so much. She was obsessed with their genealogy to the point of mania.

“You do realize I’d have better luck finding a dwarf mining gold; than you’ll ever have finding that damned trunk.”

“I’m buying it anyway. Come over after work and watch me open it.” She ended the call. He swore.

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A Question of Atheist Scruples – is this my business? edition

The only other person waiting at your bus stop is visibly upset and in tears. Do you say anything?

There are definitely some factors to think about here.

Is this a bus route I’m taking daily at the same time and used to seeing this person waiting at the stop with me every day? If that’s the case, perhaps I’d want to ask what’s wrong. But I don’t tend to be one who pries, so I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable interacting with a sobbing stranger, no matter how friendly we may have become as bus stop buddies.

Is this a teenager or someone even younger who’s clearly in serious distress or pain? Or elderly? Is there evidence of injury, or “just” sadness? I’d feel just as weird ignoring their obvious suffering, though, too. Yikes. I don’t know. I really don’t know with this one. Hopefully I won’t be heartless but I really don’t know if I’d want to get involved.

I don’t have a nice, pat answer to this question. Until I’m in this situation, I truly have no idea how I’d react in it.

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Sounds of Sunday – The King of Hell

I’ve never heard of this artist, or the guy behind the artist, Tom Morello, but I like this particular song.

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A Question of Atheist Scruples – unscrupulous media edition

Your gritty current affairs program is in a ratings war. You can take the lead by broadcasting the ‘execution of the week.’ Do you?

Now the game shows its age a wee bit. There was a time, boys and girls, when you could watch the news at 6pm and watch the same broadcast again at 11pm and otherwise you got no news. Seemed that way, anyway. I didn’t grow up with cable television or satellite at my house. My childhood in the ’80s revolved around the few hours of cartoons I could watch on a Saturday morning, and my university years were spent with Friends, X-Files and whatever dreck Sally Jesse Raphael, Maury, and Jerry Springer would air to compete with each other for audacity. A news circuit running non-stop 24/7 wasn’t much of a thing at the time. 20/20 or 60 Minutes or other current events programs were nothing I’d bother spending time watching either, but that’s the kind of show this question’s focused on.

I think this card would also need to be updated to “school shooting of the week.” Every week in the States there as at least one of those – most recently at a high school in Florida – and it seems impossible for news outlets to “survive” the ratings game unless they dissect the minutia of every possible rumour as to the shooter and his history. They probe his social habits on and offline. And, they run themselves ragged looking for experts to prop up the mental illness angle and “lone wolf” theory that sells these statistically similar boys and men as an ongoing series of unique one-offs. Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families but god damn you if you try to talk gun control…Cold dead hands and shit…

I wouldn’t want to be in a career where the media piranhas circle a tragedy and add to the carnage by their reporting style. It’s hard enough for the victims without cameras in their faces to record the track of every tear. I don’t have the right mentality for that kind of job.

Posted in culture, current events, In the Media, tv | Tagged , , ,

A Question of Atheist Scruples – unexpected fitness edition

You are a contender in a marathon race when you accidentally trip the runner beside you. Do you stop to help him up?

Absolutely. I’d feel some guilt if my clumsiness got in the way of someone else finishing the race.

If someone tripped me, on the other hand, I’d gladly use it as an excuse to quit running. I don’t get the point of marathons, generally, but I’m not athletic nor competitive by nature.

There are those who run them on a mission to prove something, though, and that’s entirely different. I heartily approve of that.

I’ve been a fan of a podcast called The Dollop for a while now and one of their episodes a few years ago focused on the Boston Marathon and the women who first tried to run it.

In this New York Times article there’s a photo of Kathrine Switzer being harassed by race officials in the middle of her first attempt in 1967.

Kathrine Switzer’s marathon in 1967 became historic because she was the first woman to complete the all-male race as an official entrant — her registration as “K.V. Switzer” hid her gender. The race resonated far beyond a footnote in the record books when an official tried to force her from the course after a few miles.

“The marathon was a man’s race in those days; women were considered too fragile to run it,” she wrote in an essay for The New York Times 10 years ago. “But I had trained hard and was confident of my strength. Still, it took a body block from my boyfriend to knock the official off the course.” Switzer recovered to finish in 4 hours 20 minutes.

It took another five years before the rules changed to let women sign up as official participants.

(As an aside, the top woman in the 2017 marathon managed the course in 2:21:52 – Edna Kiplagat from Kenya.)

“In 1967, few would have believed that marathon running would someday attract millions of women, become a glamour event in the Olympics and on the streets of major cities, help transform views of women’s physical ability and help redefine their economic roles in traditional cultures,” Switzer wrote.

(Another aside, 1:28:17 was the wheelchair time for Manuela Schar, of Switzerland. The first wheelchair in the run happened in 1975 and these Boston Athletic Association prides itself on its inclusivity.)

How to end this… mind slightly changed on the importance of marathons, I guess I could say. Whether from an individual level or a cultural one, they can be a test of more than endurance and ability of a body; they can be a test of a society’s ability to change its mind as well.

Posted in Awareness Issues, culture, Question of Atheist Scruples | Tagged , , , ,