Wednesday, October 05, 2005

One Minute Youre Here the Next Minute You're Gone

In Memory of Bethany

Sitting in math class today I realized that my classmate is missing again (she was also absent on Monday). Her name is Bethany. A Short sweet little round person who I’ve come to enjoy sitting next to and talking with each Monday and Wednesday. She and I weren’t what I’d call close friends but had I met her outside of class or spent time with her I’m sure she would have ended up being a good friend. I asked the other girl who sits next to me if she had heard from or seen her. She shrugged also. Figuring she was just skipping class or ill I quickly sent her an e mail on web ct. Ten minutes later my Prof asks me to come up to her desk (we’re in lab….yes folks math lab I’m in special people math) She asked me if I knew the girl who usually sits next to me well and I said Bethany, yea she’s been gone two days, have you heard anything from her? She proceeds to hand me a piece of paper and told me to read it.

It was one of those official blanket e mails that the faculty receives. “One of our students [insert name and student ID here] has passed away” Passed away!? At this point my jaw drops to the floor and the feeling of “that will never happen to any one I know” hits as I realize I just sent her an e mail. The note summed it all up at the end listing where services will be held bla bla bla ect. Passed away…………

She was no more than 20 I believe. A virgin too…….yes this came up in discussion in math class. Passed away……….

I wasn’t particularly close to her but I did greatly enjoy her company and the fact that she’d make fun of one of the guys that sat close to us with me. She apparently had him in her history class and said he’s an idiot in there as well. So young, and gone, just like that. Kind of makes you think about your own life. Passed away……….where did that phrase come from in the first place? Passed away……….

From the information the Prof gave me it was a car crash that she was involved in. Passed away………that was no passing but instead an agonizing horrific scary death. Not to sound morbid but it’s true. One minute you’re here and the next you’re gone. Sure I’ve heard that a million times before, but today I think I felt it.

Once word spread in class some of the people said “you know that girl who sits in the back? She died!” That girl has a name, Bethany. Bethany will forever be remembered by me as the person who made fun of the “special” guy in class, came to tutoring with me because we’re both retarded at math, and was sweet, innocent and always laughing at my jokes. Bethany is her name, she’s not some girl, and my heart goes out to her parents, family, and friends. You will be missed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

In Response to the Latest Supreme Court Appointee

Here we go people. In the next ten years we're going to have a set back of 20 years of social advancement and progress. Overturn the abortion decision? You bet your ass it will happen. This little tid bit puts it all into perspective for ya I think.

Conflicted America: The Ironies Abound When America sat down last week for its annual rite of national Thanksgiving, some would argue that two different nations actually celebrated: upright, moral, traditional red America and the dissolute, liberal blue states clustered on the periphery of the heartland. The truth, however, is much more complicated and interesting than that. Take two iconic states: Texas and Massachusetts. In some ways, they were the two states competing in the last election. In the world's imagination, you couldn't have two starker opposites. One is the homeplace of Harvard, gay marriage, high taxes, and social permissiveness. The other is Bush country, solidly Republican, traditional, and gun-toting. Massachusetts voted for Kerry over Bush 62 to 37 percent; Texas voted for Bush over Kerry 61 to 38 percent. So ask yourself a simple question: which state has the highest divorce rate? Marriage was a key issue in the last election, with Massachusetts' gay marriages becoming a symbol of alleged blue state decadence and moral decay. But in actual fact, Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country at 2.4 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants. Texas - which until recently made private gay sex a criminal offence - has a divorce rate of 4.1. A fluke? Not at all. The states with the highest divorce rates in the U.S. are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. And the states with the lowest divorce rates are: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Every single one of the high divorce rate states went for Bush. Every single one of the low divorce rate states went for Kerry. The Bible Belt divorce rate, in fact, is roughly 50 percent higher than the national average. Some of this discrepancy can be accounted for by the fact that couples tend to marry younger in the Bible Belt - and many clearly don't have the maturity to know what they're getting into. There's some correlation too between rates of college education and stable marriages, with the Bible Belt lagging a highly educated state like Massachusetts. But the irony still holds. Those parts of America that most fiercely uphold what they believe are traditional values are not those parts where traditional values are healthiest. Hypocrisy? Perhaps. A more insightful explanation is that these socially troubled communities cling onto absolutes in the abstract because they cannot live up to them in practice. But doesn't being born again help bring down divorce rates? Jesus, after all, was mum on the subject of homosexuality, but was very clear about divorce, declaring it a sin unless adultery was involved. A recent study, however, found no measurable difference in divorce rates between those who are "born again" and those who are not. 29 percent of Baptists have been divorced, compared to 21 percent of Catholics. Moreover, a staggering 23 percent of married born-agains have been divorced twice or more. Teen births? Again, the contrast is striking. In a state like Texas, where the religious right is extremely strong and the rhetoric against teenage sex is gale-force strong, the teen births as a percentage of all births is 16.1 percent. In liberal, secular, gay-friendly Massachusetts, it's 7.4, almost half. Marriage itself is less popular in Texas than in Massachusetts. In Texas, the percent of people unmarried is 32.4 percent; in Massachusetts, it's 26.8 percent. So even with a higher marriage rate, Massachusetts manages a divorce rate almost half of its "conservative" rival. Or take abortion. America is one of the few Western countries where the legality of abortion is still ferociously disputed. It's a country where the religious right is arguably the strongest single voting bloc, and in which abortion is a constant feature of cultural politics. Compare it to a country like Holland, perhaps the epitome of socially liberal, relativist liberalism. So which country has the highest rate of abortion? It's not even close. America has an abortion rate of 21 abortions per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44. Holland has a rate of 6.8. Americans, in other words, have three times as many abortions as the Dutch. Remind me again: which country is the most socially conservative? Even a cursory look at the leading members of the forces of social conservatism in America reveals the same pattern. The top conservative talk-radio host, Rush Limbaugh, has had three divorces and an addiction to pain-killers. The most popular conservative television personality, Bill O'Reilly, just settled a sex harassment suit that indicated a highly active adulterous sex life. Bill Bennett, the guru of the social right, was for many years a gambling addict. Karl Rove's chief outreach manager to conservative Catholics for the last four years, Deal Hudson, also turned out to be a man with a history of sexual harassment. Bob Barr, the conservative Georgian congressman who wrote the "Defense of Marriage Act," has had three wives so far. The states which register the highest ratings for the hot new television show, "Desperate Housewives," are all Bush-states. The complicated truth is that America truly is a divided and conflicted country. But it's a grotesque exaggeration to say that the split is geographical, or correlated with blue and red states. Many of America's biggest "sinners" are those most intent on upholding virtue. In fact, it may be partly because they know sin so close-up that they want to prevent its occurrence among others. And some of those states which have the most liberal legal climate - the Northeast and parts of the upper MidWest - are also, in practice, among the most socially conservative. To ascribe all this to "hypocrisy" seems to me too crude an explanation. America is simply a far more complicated and diverse place than crude red and blue divisions can explain. The spasms of moralism that have punctuated American history from the first Puritans all the way through Prohibition and now the backlash against gay marriage are not therefore a war of one part of the country against another. They're really a war within the souls of all Americans. Within many a red state voter, there's a blue state lifestyle. And within many a blue state liberal, there's a surprisingly resilient streak of moralism. And it is this internal conflict that makes America still such a vibrant and compelling place. The conflict exists perhaps most powerfully within the red states themselves - as they grapple with the "sin" of their own practices and the high standards of their own aspirations. It's worth remembering that Bill Clinton was a product of a red state. And that for more than half his life, George W. Bush was a dissolute wastrel from a blue state family. These contradictions are not the exceptions. They are the American rule. And if you love this tortured and fascinating country, one more reason to be thankful it still exists.

November 28, 2004, Sunday Times.copyright © 2000, 2004 Andrew Sullivan

Monday, October 03, 2005

Stand in Line, Don't Run Inside, and Push Your Chairs In..........Elementary Words of Wisdom

As I walk into work this afternoon and flip on the lights to the class room I'm about to set up I realize that 18 out of 30 chair are sideways, missing or out away from the desk tables. (yes I counted them) Now ordinarily this wouldn't bother a normal person.........But I am no normal person. So to calm my neurosis I start avidly putting chair by chair back under the table murmuring obscenities under my breath. I mean come on........We're talking about grown people here. I could understand chairs being misplaced in a 3rd grade class room but not in a college class room. Grown people man......Sometimes they kill me.

So by now I've gotten all the chairs back in order the desks pushed back in straight lines (and yes they were crooked too) knowing that in two hours when I come back to this room it's going to be the same mess. I'm no neat freak, anyone who knows me or has been to my house can tell you that, but little things like pushing the chair under the table drive me nutz. Grown people.......Grown people...........I think I'll make a sign....LOL