Our girls (10 and 7) got iPad minis for Christmas. We agonized over the decision. On the one hand, we wondered whether they were too young to be responsible with Pandora’s box. On the other hand, now felt like the perfect time to start teaching them good habits, etiquette and practices. They’re young enough that they actually care what we have to say and are interested in learning how to be safe on the Internet. They want to know the rules and follow them. Plus the stakes are low. The only people who email or text them are family.
And the videos they make of one another are hilarious.
I still feel mildly panicked about their access to this technology. I ask them to be in the room with me, especially when they’re online.
But it’s been fun to share links with them. Pre-tween kids love stuff like this:
Guinea pig, dinosaur costume
So in the spirit of sharing fun/educational/amusing stuff with children, here’s a special edition of link love, kid-style:
Note: BE CAREFUL WITH BUZZFEED. There is kid-inappropriate stuff on the site. But there’s also more kid-appropriate stuff than you might think. Supervise and verify. This particular link is great: otters hold hands in the water. The guy who does the voice of Mickey Mouse married the gal who does the voice of Minnie. A group of ferrets is called a “business.”
Caroline is obsessed with this webcam since hearing a story on Radiolab. The drop of pitch is supposed to go any time now, and by “any time” it could be months or years, and in the meantime she has schoolwork and life and Flash doesn’t even work on her iPad but hey, this is quirky science we’re talking about!
This is an oldie (relatively speaking) but goodie in our house. Alex is a Norwegian guy who did a solo trek across Antarctica and buried food along the way for the return trip. The sheer joy expressed in this video, on day 86 when he is VERY hungry, never fails to give us the giggles.
What do you have planned for the weekend? I’m pinching myself because Robert and I came into some tickets to the biggest party in town. You know those people who respond to “how are you” with “better than I deserve”?
I have a great life. It would be poor stewardship not to enjoy the heck out of it.
In her most recent book, Twentysomething: Why do Young Adults Seem Stuck,co-authored with her twenty-something daughter Samantha, Robin Marantz Henig delves into the hard data… what—if anything—is it about kids these days? the mother-daughter team asks. And why is it that every generation seems to think that there’s something different going on with kids these days, as compared to any other?
In 2000, psychologist Jeffrey Arnett proposed the existence of a new stage of development: emerging adulthood. Whereas before, we’d go straight from adolescence to full-blown young adultdom, now, there was a step in between, an area where our adult selves were emerging but not-quite-emerged…
As Marantz Henig is quick to point out, Arnett isn’t the first to discuss this possibility. In a 1970 article in The American Scholar, the psychologist Kenneth Keniston also thought he discerned a new trend of unsettled wandering. He termed in simply, “youth.” And that youth “sounds a lot like Arnett’s description of emerging adulthood a generation later,” Marantz Henig writes, going on to say that, “despite Arnett’s claims to the contrary, we weren’t really all that different then from the way our own children are now. Keniston’s article seems a lovely demonstration of the eternal cycle of life, the perennial conflict between the generations, the gradual resolution of those conflicts. It’s reassuring….”
As a member of Generation X, who heard a lot of the same criticisms leveled at me and my generation that I am now hearing about the Millenials, it is reassuring indeed.
First up: the moon and Jupiter conjunction in just a few days:
Jan. 21: Very Close Moon/Jupiter Conjunction
For North Americans, this is a real head-turner, one easily visible even from brightly lit cities. A waxing gibbous moon, 78-percent illuminated, will pass within less than a degree to the south of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. (For reference, your closed fist held out at arm’s length covers 10 degrees of the sky.)
These two bright luminaries will make their closest approach high in the evening sky for all to see. What’s even more interesting is that this will be the closest moon-Jupiter conjunction until the year 2026! [Amazing Photos: Jupiter and the Moon]
My kind of confession. Long and equivocally unequivocal:
For some centuries now, no small confusion has arisen from the fact that we talk about belief in God, rather than love of God. The two amount to the same thing, but the first of these expressions, at least since the beginning of the modern period, pushes us willy-nilly into the field of evidence and argumentation, a field where the standards of commitment have nothing to do with the issue at hand, and so not surprisingly, though for poorly understood reasons, belief in God cannot but be a failing proposition.
As they told us at CREDO, “credo” means “believe,” but really it means “I give my heart.”
But start from love, start from joy, and the demand for further evidence vanishes. To continue to make it would be like demanding to see the hormones that cause an erection before accepting that there is such a thing as eros. It would be vulgar. It is vulgar, every time we hear it from the puffed-up fools who believe they are defending the honour and integrity of something, which they also do not understand, but which they call ‘science’. Science has more often than not been driven by what its practitioners have experienced as joy and wonder before God’s creation. This is a historical fact, and even if you are one of the puffed-up fools who thinks belief in God deserves nothing but mockery, you cannot change this fact.
…Those who know me or have read me will probably know that I have often claimed that I am an atheist. I would like to stop doing this, but if I had to justify myself, I would say that it is for fear of being confused with that blowhard with the ‘John 3:16’ banner that I am unforthcoming about what I actually believe. I am infinitely closer, in the condition of my soul, to the people who feel God’s absence– the reasons for this feeling are a profound theological problem, and one might say that it is only smugness that enables people, atheists and dogmatists alike, to avoid grappling with this problem. I am with the people who detect God’s hand, perhaps without even realizing it, where the smug banner-holder sees only sin: in jungle music, dirty jokes, seduction, and swearing. I am with the preacher who puts out a gospel album, then goes to prison on fraud and drug charges for a while, then puts out a hip-grinding soul album, and then another gospel album. I am with the animals, who can’t even read, but can still talk to the saints of divine things. I am sooner an atheist, if what we understand by Christianity is a sort of supernatural monarchism; if we understand by it that God is love, though, then, I say, I am a Christian.
Four years ago, I made a simple change when I switched one meeting from a coffee meeting to a walking-meeting. I liked it so much it became a regular addition to my calendar; I now average four such meetings, and 20 to 30 miles each week. Today it’s life-changing, but it happened almost by accident.
12 hugs a day. Hug your child first thing in the morning, when you say goodbye, when you’re re-united, at bedtime, and often in between. If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection. Get her settled with a cool drink, and chat as you give a foot rub. (Seem like going above and beyond? It’s a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today, which should be high on your priority list.)
Some of them I need to work on:
Welcome emotion. Sure, it’s inconvenient. But your child needs to express his emotions or they’ll drive his behavior. So accept the meltdowns, don’t let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you’re the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it. Afterwards, he’ll feel more relaxed, cooperative, and closer to you.
Sabbath is a health issue too. Dr. Sleeth (a former ER physician) puts it well:
It’s interesting, when a doctor sits down and does a primary intake with a new patient, they ask about smoking, exercise and diet, but they don’t ask how much you’re working. They don’t get any sense of if you’re working seven days a week, or if you have time set aside — like people have always had — for rest.
I think the lack of rest is reflected in our saying, “We don’t have enough time.” I think it’s pretty much generally felt that we don’t have enough time to really get to the things we want to do in life.
The other day I heard radio show on gun control. It was frustrating because the so-called gun rights advocate had good points to make that the gun control advocate could not, or did not, hear. At the same time, I found myself wishing that the gun rights advocate had offered more constructive proposals rather than shrugging and saying “It’s all a matter of semantics.”
This debate, hosted at scienceblogs.com, is a good model. It’s not pithy. It’s long and wonky. So be it. Serious times demand no less. Mark starts off:
Mass violence is not just a problem in the United States. Similar incidents have occurred in other countries, even mass shootings in countries with significant restrictions similar to what I would advocate. However, the experience of other countries is less in frequency and severity. Yes, other countries have mass violence despite strict gun control, even countries like Norway. However, no other comparable industrialized country has gun violence similar to ours. No you can not compare the United States to Mexico. No, gun control is never perfect. No, we can not prevent all murder, all mass murder, or all violent crime, but we can decrease the death toll.
Now any preventable cause of even a single death should be prevented, and while mass murder shocks the conscience in a way that the anonymous and impersonal forces of nature cannot, this ought to cause us to pause and consider whether what is being proposed will actually do any good. The choices we make in response to these tragedies will have consequences that we foresee and consequences we don’t. These consequences may well include the failure of new laws to save anyone in the future. This concern is not hypothetical – we’re well over a decade into our government’s frantic response to 9/11, and we may well be less safe than we were on 9/10.
Both men own and operate firearms. Both are reasonable, non-knee-jerk types. More of these, please. (I hope they will keep going.)
Yesterday on the Sabbath blog I wrote about the benefits of Sabbath on children, in the hopes of coaxing parents to think about the practice as beneficial for their kids’ overall development. LifeHacker appears to be taking a similar approach here:
People say the hardest part about meditating is finding the time to meditate. This makes sense: who these days has time to do nothing? It’s hard to justify. Meditation brings many benefits: It refreshes us, helps us settle into what’s happening now, makes us wiser and gentler, helps us cope in a world that overloads us with information and communication, and more. But if you’re still looking for a business case to justify spending time meditating, try this one: Meditation makes you more productive.
I posted this video earlier in the week just for the joy of it. It’s 6 minutes—if you need to watch an abbreviated version, start at minute 3 or so. Yanazo is amazing. Screw you, gravity! I’M THE LAW NOW!!!
This is a growing edge for me as I negotiate honoraria and speaker’s fees:
Money isn’t the only factor in a negotiation. If we make it all about money, the negotiation only has one measure of success. In a 2001 Harvard Business Review article, Harvard professor James Sebenius advises us to recognize the other factors that may be less blank-or-white.
For example, when negotiating a project with a client, price isn’t the only thing on the table. You can discuss deadlines, delivery methods, communication preferences and a host of other options. Give a little on deadlines, but propose a higher rate. The more variables you can negotiate, the higher the likelihood that both parties will feel like winners.
I’m not going to excerpt this article—if you care about this issue you should read the whole thing because it’s stellar. We have the girls’ parent/teacher conferences today and I’ll have this post in my mind as we talk.
In other news, as a writer I covet Ellen’s name. Totally distinctive, yet completely straightforward. Easy to say and spell.
When a friend jokingly challenged me to one week without my phone, I questioned whether I would be able to do it. I realized that I needed to prove that I could live in a world without iPhones. So the next night I shut it off, hid it in a drawer and began my phoneless week.
Deciding to do it was probably the hardest part of the whole experiment. It’s not that I was scared, but I was unhappy about it. I expected the week to be boring, slow and frustrating at times, especially when trying to get in contact with people.
But this was not the case….
Our weekend is cray-cray, with a variety of kid activities scheduled such that we have these bizarre two-hour windows of free time between them. A long stretch of Sabbath will be hard to come by… I think instead we will strive to go about these things Sabbathly—with mindfulness and care, with an eye for delight.
What’s your weekend like? Will there be Sabbath time in it?
Everyone knows that cell-phones work because of radio waves. Sure it’s complicated and, in general, few of us really get it. But we all know that cellphones work because the natural world is built in simultaneously subtle and complicated ways.
What is remarkable about the fundamentalist perspective, however, is an unwillingness to see spiritual life in the same light. Instead of seeing subtlety and complication that require a lifetime of intense dedicated effort — a genuine personal investigation of the world — to understand, everything is reduced to magic-marker outlines with unwavering, absolute answers….
While writing on science and religion, however, I have met lots of really amazing folks who are quite serious about their spiritual lives. They have come from a diversity of faith backgrounds: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and more. Some of these people were highly educated, some where not. What struck an atheist like me about these folks was their dedication to the investigation.
Fighting back with nuance in a sloganeering world…
So what, then, are we to do? One possibility, of course, is simply to give up; to acknowledge women’s destinies as something different from men’s and stop complaining about it. This, however, hardly seems fair, either to the generations who fought so hard for women’s freedoms, or to those who have not yet had the opportunity to give these freedoms a try. A second possibility, trumpeted most recently in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter in her examination of why women still can’t have it all, is to keep fighting the proverbial fights—for better day care, better family leaves, more flex time at work and co-parenting at home. These are all important goals. Yet they will never be sufficient to address the underlying issues.
A good point/counterpoint on the efficacy of children’s sermons in worship. Most forward-thinking pastors I know have already done away with them or would dearly like to. I get the impulse. But I still do them. I try to avoid interactive questions that set kids up to be entertaining*. My approach is to tell the biblical story so that they’re ready to go upstairs to the Upper Room for the remainder of worship, or to Sunday School, where they engage the story they just read. It’s a way of setting up the rest of the morning’s experience for them.
What a treasure trove of wisdom. I’ve watched a few of the shorter ones, and others I’ve seen before, but I might make it a goal to watch the others during my time away for CREDO. I leave in a week and will spend a few days with my BFF before it starts. Squee.
Here’s a specific vid I liked, about the importance of constraints in fostering creativity:
I’ve had two different people recently ask me to help them think about the process of writing a book. One of their concerns is how to get it done with everything else going on in life. I’ve tried to explain how that busyness can benefit them. Assuming you have enough motivation to start, of course–if you’re lukewarm about doing it, the rest of life will conspire against you. But if you just have to write that book, you will find a way. And the limitations will help you. At the end of the process you will have an imperfect thing on paper, rather than a perfect thing in your brain and nowhere else.
*My favorite children’s sermon story: I was talking about Jesus’ parable of the yeast and I’d brought some yeast from home. I showed it to the kids and said, “What is yeast used to make?” One of them piped up, “BEER!”
Imaginative insights are most likely to come to us when we’re groggy and unfocused. The mental processes that inhibit distracting or irrelevant thoughts are at their weakest in these moments, allowing unexpected and sometimes inspired connections to be made. Sleepy people’s “more diffuse attentional focus,” they write, leads them to “widen their search through their knowledge network. This widening leads to an increase in creative problem solving.” By not giving yourself time to tune in to your meandering mind, you’re missing out on the surprising solutions it may offer. (If you happen to be one of those perky morning people, your most inventive time comes when you’re winding down in the early evening.
“The” faith is the Catholic faith. But these simple approaches can be adapted for other contexts:
Try asking your kids what they thought of the Sunday homily. (If they answer, “It was the most boring thing I ever heard!” and you agree, consider saying so. Avoid insincere praise, which they can spot in a minute.) Ask them what they might have said about the gospel if they’d given the homily that day. They might surprise you.
There’s been plenty of snickering on Twitter and pop-culture blogs about the inclusion of not one, but two songs by former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker. I think of them as the playlist’s equivalent to the Affordable Heathcare for America Act: so bland and watered-down that you can’t believe anyone’s as worked up about them as they are. (And let’s be honest: you know these are some of the ones Obama selected himself. We like to think he’s Mr. Super Cool, but don’t forget, this is a guy who keeps his cell phone in a belt holster.)