Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Singalong


I bought and downloaded Sufjan Steven's Christmas album the other day. I really dig it. You can sample it HERE.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Persistence


Any reader of this blog (and there aren't many of them!) know that I've been a fan of the Oklahoma Sooners since before I can remember. So I do come from a particular set of biases regarding the events of the past weekend.

I am stunned that two Sooners won the Heisman trophy in back to back seasons. I was surprised enough by the ascension of Baker Mayfield last year but I never expected Kyler Murray to be so good. They proved everyone wrong.

I am very impressed with their persistence. I was skeptical when Mayfield transferred in, I was thinking he was going to be a distraction. I thought surely there was a reason why Tech never offered him a scholarship. After all, Kliff Kingsbury is supposed to be some kind of quarterback guru and if he let him walk, then there must be good reason. Mayfield played with a chip on his shoulder and blew everyone away. Bake is still proving the naysayers wrong with his play in the NFL.

I felt the same way about Kyler. I incorrectly assumed that a big program like Texas A&M led by another quarterback guru like Kevin Sumlin could not have been wrong in allowing Murray to transfer. Once again, I thought we were getting someone else's leftovers. And when it came to light that he was planning on only playing one year for OU so he could play major league baseball, I questioned his commitment to the Sooners.

How many times can I say I was wrong? A lot, apparently.

I expected a drop-off after last year's Heisman winner graduated. But wow, in many ways, Murray's Heisman season was even more impressive than Mayfield's.

I give my Aggie and Tech friends a hard time about squandering future Heisman trophy winners. That's gotta sting. But what persistence both these guys have. Everyone doubting them. Making the big decision to transfer to another school, then excelling beyond all expectations and winning what is arguably the most prestigious individual trophy in sports.

Amazing, impressive and historic.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Paris is Burning...Again

December 2018

Paris has a long history of barricades and protests. Still, I find it stunning to see these riots unfurling in places where I walked just nine weeks ago. In September, from the sheltered vantage point of a tourist, there was no inkling of simmering discontent. 

 September 2018

I sympathize with the plight of the "yellow vest" protestors. Sky high taxes are making it very difficult for millions of Frenchmen and Frenchwomen to stretch their paychecks to the end of the month. However, it is hard for me to understand the desperation of those who commit acts of violence or vandalize historic monuments (although seeing the Arc de Triomphe in person made me see the stark reality of Napoleon's narcissistic despotism). 

With the risk of sounding clueless and out of touch, I also empathize with those who saved their hard earned money and finally got to go on a trip of a lifetime only to have it marred by violence. It took us twenty years to finally make our anniversary trip to Paris last September. We saved our money and spent months in planning. We were lucky our trip was not ruined by riots. That may sound bourgeois but we are teachers and for us, these vacations are not done on a lark. I understand someone suffering economic deprivation could care less about the luxury of someone's vacation, and I don't fault them for that.

I hope fair and peaceful resolutions can be attained. I hope the tax burden can be alleviated for the poor. Beyond the glitzy center of Paris, suffering is real. I remember the images from the 2006 riots in the outer ring suburbs of Paris. I guess that didn't get quite the attention of the Yellow Vests since those riots pretty much stayed in the poor neighborhoods. 

Historically, the barricades have been quite effective in getting attention, for better or worse. My European History classes, at this very moment, are in the midst of their French Revolution studies. I don't wish to indulge in false equivalencies but there are some intriguing parallels. High taxes for one. Social class tension being another. Let's just hope it doesn't end with another Napoleon.

I'm also suspicious that some of these protests may have been hijacked by members of the far right. Right-wing white nationalism is on the rise in Europe. They wish to disrupt the modernization of the continent. Many in Europe truly have been left behind in the new economy. But the nationalists are simply resentful of their loss of place in the social hierarchy. I'm also troubled that white nationalism is on the rise in the United States. 

Lets hope beyond hope these movements are the last spasms of white anxiety as the world becomes more pluralistic. Let's hope these far right movements are the last bit of noise before they collapse into utter silence, forever. 

We can't only hope, we must take active measures to make sure white nationalists never feel comfortable to spew their hatred in a civilized society.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Rake America Great Again



It wasn't windy when he started raking. I was on the roof putting up Christmas lights. Then the wind came and more leaves began to rain down on the boy. Usually we wait until the tree is bare to rake but the yard was so covered it required immediate raking. He kept his spirits up and got the job done!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Instant Family

My wife and I recently saw the movie Instant Family. I highly recommend it. Instant Family, based on the experiences of the movie's director, follows a couple as they become foster parents to three siblings. The movie is a comedy but also is very poignant. It was one of the most realistic depictions of foster care that I've seen in a wide-release movie.

The movie especially resonated with us since we are on a similar track as the film's protagonists. My wife and I are also on a foster-to-adopt path. For several months we have been fostering a child that we are on track to adopt, hopefully in the early spring depending on the speed of the court system.

Fostering is not easy. It can be very challenging. But it is one of the most rewarding things we have ever done. People always comment that we are changing the life of this child, but the reality is she is changing our lives as well. She is a light in this world and our family somehow feels even more complete with her in it.

I greatly encourage everyone to see Instant Family. Such a great film.

Friday, November 16, 2018

1834-1934


A colleague of mine gave me this the other day. He got it at an estate sale and thought of me. It's the Texas Methodist Centennial Yearbook published in 1934. Even has a letter from FDR in the front. Pretty cool book.



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

steps

Sometimes all life is about simply moving three steps forward, two steps back. But as long as you're moving in the right direction, you're doing good.

But three steps forward, two steps back can be really hard.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

First Man (the movie)

I saw the movie First Man this past weekend. It is an excellent film, a real cinematic achievement. I love NASA and space exploration movies. This one did an amazing job of trying to capture the danger, claustrophobia, confusion and exhilaration of a space mission. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As I was walking out of the theater, I became more and more upset. In the weeks leading up to the film's release there had been a great deal of criticism lobbed against the filmmakers for not including a scene of Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon. Our nationalist President, Senator Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Chuck Yeager and even Buzz Aldrin said this film was not patriotic enough.

What utter nonsense! The American flag is featured prominently throughout the film. There's a scene of the flag being hoisted. The American flag is shown on the astronaut's uniforms. The American flag is actually shown next to the lunar module on the moon in several shots. The words "United States" was featured as rockets launched. There were real interviews shown from around the world of people expressing their admiration of the United States. My wife said this was one of the most patriotic films she had seen in a long time.

It became clear that none of these "patriotic" critics had actually seen the film before making their ridiculous statements. This was an obvious pandering to a political base. It was disingenuous and cynical. Absolutely and blatantly untruthful.

I can understand Buzz Aldrin's unhappiness with the film. Although the overall impression of Aldrin in the film is positive it does show (based on Neil Armstrong's and other's accounts) of how Aldrin could be difficult to work with on occasion. Aldrin has a flamboyant personality, we all saw that a few years ago when he appeared on Dancing With The Stars. The movie showed just a hint of that and I would not have been happy to have been portrayed that way either.

Yeager is just being manipulated. He hadn't even seen the movie when he gave his interview. He fell for the deceit of the President and Senators Rubio and Cruz.

This is a very well done movie. It really shows the great efforts of engineers, pilots, and NASA administrators to do the impossible. It's apolitical. There's nary a hint of political agenda in this film. I'm sad to think some won't give this movie a chance because they buy into political propaganda.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Beto



I, for one, would vote for Beto for President in 2020. 


In all honesty I guess that's not saying much. I would vote for my neighbor's goat over the current President.