Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kids vs. Religion, continued

5 comments:
Two years ago (!) we at Daddy Dialectic had a very good, substantial discussion about whether kids need religion. (The original post was written by contributor Chip, who is now "retired" from blogging.)

The discussion continues. A fellow named Wes stopped by and posed some interesting questions: How do agnostics best approach the Christmas season and traditions with their children? At what age would you begin cultivating that appreciation of the differences between the faiths? At Jewish Community Center preschool (which my gentile son attends), if asked by another child if he is Jewish, what would your child say? And so on.

I confess that I've only given Wes some half-baked responses; I'm too distracted by holiday activities to come up with something coherent. But perhaps you, dear reader, have intelligent things to say? You can leave them here or revisit that discussion thread.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caring for our Parents

1 comment:
This is an interesting dimension of rising rates of male caregiving:

The Alzheimer’s Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving estimate that men make up nearly 40 percent of family care providers now, up from 19 percent in a 1996 study by the Alzheimer’s Association. About 17 million men are caring for an adult.

“It used to be that when men said, ‘I’ll always take care of my mother,’ it meant, ‘My wife will always take care of my mother,’ ” said Carol Levine, director of the families and health care project at the United Hospital Fund. “But now, more and more men are doing it.”

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gender We Can Believe In

3 comments:
Writer Lauren McLaughlin blogs:

The November Atlantic has a fantastic article by Hanna Rosin about transgender kids, which I read hungrily in the hope that it would add to my understanding of the topic. Sadly, it confirmed many of my worst fears. There’s a heart-rending story about 8-year-old Brandon who, from the moment he could speak, has insisted he was a girl. His bewildered parents, who live in an area where “a boy’s a boy and a girl’s a girl,” eventually wind up at a transgender conference where they meet kids and parents going through the same kinds of challenges. The article outlines in broad strokes the evolution of attitudes on the subject of gender identity, though I’m not sure “evolution” is the right word. “Pendulum” seems more appropriate since we seem to swing back and forth between the two following dogmas:

Gender is hard-wired and immune to cultural influence

vs.

Gender is entirely cultural with no biological basis

Otherwise known as Nature versus Nurture.

The fact that gender could be a mix of these two things seems not to have entered into the minds of the “experts” who treat these kids. Notably absent from interviews with them is any awareness of the fact that they may not have at their disposal all the information required to form a comprehensive theory of gender. And since all of the kids (and indeed all of the psychologists, physicians, and researchers who study them) exist within a cultural framework, it’s nearly impossible to isolate non-cultured traits. In fact, the few twin studies performed on the subject have revealed that, while sexual orientation seems to have a strong biological basis, gender identity does not.


Lauren concludes:

Is there another way? We don’t demand rigid conformity to norms in all things. Why gender? The average man is taller than the average woman, but we don’t demand that short men take human grown hormone or that tall women have their legs shortened. Is it possible that we’re demanding too much of these children and not enough from society as a whole? Shouldn’t we be better than the mother of Brandon’s former best friend who rejected him on “Christian” grounds? Perhaps if it was okay for a boy to wear make up, Brandon wouldn’t be faced with the prospect of puberty-blocking hormones. And why shouldn’t it be okay for a boy to wear make up? It doesn’t hurt anyone.

Utterly absent from this otherwise insightful article was any mention of compassion. Not once did someone suggest that Brandon might be encouraged to love his body as it is and still enjoy playing with dolls. Not once did anyone question the ethics of endorsing rigid gender boundaries despite ample evidence of the pain they cause. Perhaps when faced with a little boy like Brandon, instead of figuring out how to fix him, we should figure out how to fix ourselves.


Right on. I can only add my experience: My son likes to wear dresses once in a while (mainly at birthday parties; he thinks that dresses are more festive) and has shown more interests in ballet and figure skating than sports and hockey, but at no point has he indicated that he wants to be a girl, and he still rough houses and does the whole playing-with-trucks thing. Recently, he's started to show a bit more self-consciousness about gender roles--he actually did not request a dress for our last birthday party--which I'm pretty sure is one outcome of socialization at school. We're not pushing either way. These are his decisions, as far as we're concerned.

The rest of Lauren's entry is well worth a read. She's the author of the young adult novel, Cycler, which is about a girl named Jill who turns into a boy named Jack for four days out of the month. I'll definitely be checking that one out.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happiness and Its Ambiguities

3 comments:
I spent Monday at the “Happiness and Its Causes” conference in San Francisco, which was co-sponsored by my employer, the Greater Good Science Center. The title might suggest a shallow preoccupation with happiness for its own sake, and yet the morning panel was startlingly ambiguous and profound.

At one point, for example, psychologist Paul Ekman linked the recognition of suffering to the possibility of happiness, an insight that both science and religion have discovered using completely different tools. Buddhism and Darwin, he said, agree about the roots of compassion: If I see you suffering, that makes me suffer, therefore ending your suffering can cause me happiness. For Darwinians, this compassionate loop emerges because our biology wires us together; for Buddhism, we are linked through the spirit.

Later, Stanford University psychiatrist David Spiegel argued that Buddhism provided a similar insight about death, believing that the best way to deal with the idea of mortality is to make it familiar, something confirmed by a fair amount of empirical research. I later thought that you see similar processes at work in other religions--what is the image of Christ on the cross if not a reminder of our mortality? If we fear death too much, implied Spiegel, happiness is impossible. And, he said, suppressing sadness can prevent happiness.

Quite a few of the panelists actually argued that happiness should not be the ultimate goal of existence. Philosopher and psychologist Owen Flanagan paraphrased Kant: Happiness is one thing, being good is another. And indeed, he said, preaching contentment for its own sake only serves the interests of the powerful.

Spiegel went on to add that in bad times, the goal should be to convert corrosive emotions (that reinforce helplessness) into emotional states that provoke action or reflection: convert anxiety into fear, depression into sadness, illness into meaning. Happiness becomes possible only when we act or reflect, and try to make the world, if only our little world, a better place.

In the end, summarized moderator Alan Wallace (a Tibetan Buddhist scholar), true happiness is seeing reality for what it is. This might sound counterintuitive to some; the message we hear most often in our culture is that happiness is possible only when reality is viewed through rose-colored glasses. But Flanagan, Ekman, and Spiegel all agreed: Part of the challenge is to recognize the reality of limits and interconnectedness. Happiness, in short, is other people.

I thought about all this in relation to parenthood. I think most parents would agree that parenthood involves a certain amount of suffering. We see it in our children from the moment they enter the world weeping, and we feel it in ourselves, through sleepless nights and deferred desires. The biological and spiritual ties we feel with offspring are the most intense most of us will ever know. This can cause unhappiness on a day to day basis, and yet I think if those ties are allowed to grow over time, there is no deeper source of happiness.

[This is the revised version of a post to the Greater Good blog.]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why are all the Hapa kids sitting together?

3 comments:
Three weeks ago I went to pick up Liko from preschool and found his class gathered outside the school, waiting for the mommies and daddies.

Something struck me: The white girls huddled in one group and the white boys in another.

Where was Liko? He and his three other part-white/part-Asian classmates, boys and girls, were off to one side, hanging out with each other.

(A note on demographics: Since this is a Jewish Community Center preschool, most of the kids, including the half-Asian ones, have at least one Jewish parent; there are no black or Latino kids in his class. I should also note here that the white/Asian mix is very, very, very common in San Francisco, as it is in Hawaii, where my wife grew up.)

Now, this perception has to be taken with a grain of salt. When it comes to sources of social tension like race, adults see what they're prone to see, and I'm no exception.

But this morning we had a parent-teacher conference and his teachers (one Jewish, one Asian, incidentally) unknowingly confirmed my suspicion: Liko and his Hapa classmates have indeed formed a posse. ("Hapa" is a Hawaiian word for half and half, usually meaning white/Asian. I would actually characterize my son as being "a little bit of this and a little bit of that," but I have no idea how to say that in Hawaiian.)

The teachers didn't put it that way; instead they said, "Liko really enjoys playing with O. and L. and they engage in lots of fun activities like...etc." I was the one who privately noted the racial mix of the posse.

I thought about bringing this up in the meeting, but I decided against it. I guessed (wrongly?) that the teachers would greet my observation in a defensive way, as though something bad is going on in their classroom.

But I don't think that at all. I think what's happening is normal and healthy, and I have absolutely, positively no problem with it.

A couple of months ago, I reported on new research into kids and race: kids do notice race from an early age; by the age of three, they will start sorting themselves into racial groups; it's not unusual or unhealthy for children to gravitate toward the familiar; studies find that kids "who recognize these kinds of differences from an early age show a stronger general ability to identify subtle differences between categories like color, shape, and size—which, in turn, has been linked to higher performance on intelligence tests."

Knowing of this research is a comfort to me, and should be to you, as well.

This doesn't mean that Liko and I, and all of us, aren't facing a perilous racial landscape. Racism is a system of privilege based on race, one that still shapes our society. As Beverly Daniel Tatum points out in her 1998 book, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, when racial segregation combines with cultural misinformation and inequalities of power, the results are toxic for individuals, institutions, and cultures.

Like does indeed usually attract like, but prejudice is not the inevitable result. Other, considerably less innocent and natural, factors are in play. It's us adults, not the kids, who are responsible for the stereotypes and the power.

There are lots of things children do that we as adults help them to grow out of. We teach them to share, and to say please and thank you, and how to clean up after themselves, and how to cross the street, and much more. All of these lessons are a struggle; our kids resist every step of the way, until they don't. This is just one more item on that list. No need to hyperventilate, no need to feel guilty.

I'm not going to tell Liko, or anyone else's kids, whom to play with, but I will do my best to help him expand his world, and try to help him see through stereotypes, and, when he gets old enough, fight against power imbalances. That's what counts the most, or so I believe.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who(m) do you trust?

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The new issue of Greater Good magazine (where I serve as senior editor) is now mostly available online. It focuses on trust. Highlights for Daddy Dialectic readers:

Can I Trust You? A conversation about parent-child trust, between renowned psychologist Paul Ekman and his daughter Eve. Plus: Trust across the lifespan.

Surviving Betrayal: Romantic betrayal is traumatizing, says psychologist Joshua Coleman. But couples can learn to trust again.

The Hot Spot, by Lisa Bennett: Climate scientists wonder why people don't do more about global warming. Social scientists have some troubling answers.

Windows of Opportunity, in which author Daniel Goleman talks about mindfulness training in schools.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Be my friend, dammit

5 comments:
Last week, three separate people--count 'em, three--said to me, in tones that conveyed irritation, "Why aren't you on Facebook?"

So I joined Facebook. If you're a Daddy Dialectic reader, feel free to become my friend. That sounds pathetic, doesn't it? Well, I'll try this social networking thing and we'll see if it holds my interest and/or proves useful.

The only other social networking thing I do is Goodreads, which I genuinely enjoy. I like seeing what my friends and favorite writers are reading; it's even useful for my work, as I am in part a book review editor and book reviewer, and I could foresee it one day becoming a useful tool for promoting my own book. (Be my friend there, too, if so inclined.)

Speaking of my book, I just received the almost-final cover from Beacon--that's it on your left. Very exciting. You can pre-order The Daddy Shift at Amazon.com.

I'm not sure if pre-ordering confers any advantages to the book. It seems to me that in this day and age chain buyers might check Amazon pre-orders when making decisions about how many copies of a book to buy. But who knows?

Well, if you plan to read The Daddy Shift, it sure couldn't hurt if you ordered your copy now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"It's not going to happen."

8 comments:
Two weeks ago my wife and I went to Kindergarten information night, sponsored by the San Francisco Unified School District.

A quick word about how it works in SF: Parents turn in a request for their top 7 schools. There is a lottery (which is part of SF’s effort to integrate its schools); it is commonplace for families to not be assigned any of their top 7 choices, though sometimes people get lucky. Luck is a big part of the process.

At the information night, it was great to meet the parents, teachers, and principals. After hearing public school parents speak about their experiences on a panel, I thought confidently, No problem, we’ll find a school for Liko.

Then a school district representative stood up to talk about the application process. Here are my notes: The process is stressful and so complicated that even I don’t understand it; we’re facing budget cuts at the same time as enrollment is climbing, both due to the bad economy; you probably won’t get a school in your neighborhood. Also, be sure to bring your application to the office in person, because we might lose it otherwise.

So now we’re also looking at private schools, even as we tour public schools on our list. It’s an eye-opening experience. On Tuesday we visited a public school that is widely considered the best in San Francisco, and indeed, it appeared to be a very good school.

The tours were run by parents, with the principal taking some time to answer our questions, and I saw many parents in the hallways and classrooms. High involvement is obviously key to their success. ("And just in case you're wondering," said a dad, "there are lots of fathers who volunteer.")

But one other thing struck me right away: Things like the large school library, including the librarian’s entire salary, and “extras” like the arts and the computer lab, are totally funded by the parent organization. In other words, the parents fundraise in order to get many programs that were taken for granted when I was growing up.

Yesterday we visited another school, not one of the best in the district. This one also sported high levels of parent involvement, but not quite as much, and they weren’t nearly as organized or affluent.

The difference showed: The tiny school library was only open two times a week (for two-hour blocks), and the school lacked many "extra" programs. The adult-to-student ratio in the classrooms was lower; meanwhile, the school’s diversity, economic and cultural, was much higher.

Afterward, I was talking to a mom who was also a teacher in the district. She told me a story about how one school, facing budgetary uncertainly, sacked all its teachers at the end of the year. They were re-hired by the end of the summer, but many, she said, were demoralized.

I'm not even going to talk about my wife's experiences as a teacher in training; she went through a special program that took her on a tour through the district's lowest performing schools. Liko won't be going to any of them. It's not going to happen.

That's a mantra I keep hearing from other parents: "It's not going to happen."

This is always understood as referring to the possibility that their child might end up at a substandard school. It's our way of saying that we are not going to just accept whatever the SF public school lottery gives us.

The vast majority of parents I know, irrespective of their personal politics, are applying to both public and private schools, with the private ones as backups. If they don't get anything they want, or the financial aid they need, they simply quit San Francisco for a Bay Area city with a better system.

Few people want to send their kids to private schools. They value public education and they want their children to be part of it. Plus, what non-rich person wants to spend 20K or more on their child's elementary school education?

But these are also people (that is, the kind of people who go on school tours) who value education, period, not to mention safety.

For this reason, I find the guilt-tripping public vs. private debate to be tiresome. The ideological presumption is that pursuing what's best for your child involves kicking someone else's to the curb. And to be sure, that's exactly how our society works right now: Some children have more chances than others. America has been kicking groups of kids to the curb since the days of the Declaration of Independence.

We do indeed have a responsibility to each other, for each other. We should all be working for an education system that serves all kids; that's one of 4 million reasons why I voted for President-Elect Obama.

But families are making decisions with in the matrix of a system that is rigged against them; indeed, a system that is at war with itself. The American education neurosis manifests itself on every level of our society, from the way some of our political leaders attack "educated elites" as well as teachers, to the way education is funded to the way it's managed to the panicky ways parents make their decisions.

San Francisco's system is particularly dysfunctional and inhumane. It's gratuitously, even cruelly, stressful for parents, students, teachers, and administrators. If some people opt out, and my family might be among them, will any amount of guilt tripping bring them back?

I don't have any grandiose answers; I just getting used to all this and I'm just starting to learn. I can see that the teachers are doing their best. Many parents are volunteering and fundraising. Many administrators are doing their best; some of their efforts might even be called heroic. Olli and l will just keep going and see how it unfolds; this will become a perennial topic here at Daddy Dialectic.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mind in the Eyes

5 comments:

The "Mind in the Eyes" test was devised by autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen (cousin of Sasha) to diagnose empathic deficits. The test subject looks at letterbox images of eyes and tries guess the emotional states they represent. You can take the test here.

The normal range is 22-30, with a score above 30 indicating a high level of empathy; I scored a 27, which sounds like the high end of average.

In analyzing my own responses, however, I found a disturbing bias: It seems that I tend to see negative emotions when there are none--for example, I read a playful pair of eyes as irritated; interested eyes as incredulous; and so on. This characterizes nearly all of my wrong answers...and I was super-accurate when it came to perceiving the negative emotions. My private world is perhaps a hostile one.

You shouldn't put too much stock in a one-shot test like this one, but the mildly depressing thing about this insight is that I think it's true; I'm one of those unfortunate people who is often overly vigilant in social situations, quick to perceive threats or slights, wary of connection.

The ironic thing is that I write about the science of positive emotions and social connection for a living through my work at Greater Good, plus caregiving fathers.

However, I think this is a commonplace irony. Sometimes it appears to me that people (you know..."people") imagine that one has to be something in order to write about it.

But I've met many, many writers in my life, some of them famous, and I can tell you that this is rarely the case, especially for the most interesting writers. The men and women who struggle most with something, who believe they lack that thing--e.g., love, wealth, faith, whatever--are the ones who will pursue it most fiercely and sometimes have the most insight into its contradictions. The distance between wanting and having, ideal and reality, is what makes them interesting.

I'm not saying, of course, that I'm interesting; that's not for me to say. But it just occurred to me that closing the distance is part of what motivates me to write in the first place.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Pulling kids from day care

3 comments:
This article suggests that parents are pulling kids from day care as the economy falters. As is often the case in journalistic trend stories, the writer only provides some anecdotes and interviews to make his point, and no big-picture numbers. Probably none are available at this early stage. However, I don't doubt that this story is true; every economic contraction creates a pattern like this. But what does it look like on a family by family level?

You do see spikes in stay-at-home parenthood; people make do with a lower standard of living and try to enjoy the time with kids. I predict that when the next census numbers come in, we will see spikes in both stay-at-home motherhood and stay-at-home fatherhood.

This won't represent an "opt-out revolution" (to use Lisa Belkin's memorable phrase), but instead an involuntary retreat. I interviewed couples whose reverse-traditional arrangements arose from layoffs for my book and I know that when families are willing to retool their emotional lives, they can actually thrive. And periods of economic trouble always fuel calls for decoupling fatherhood and breadwinning (it wasn't an accident that the film "Mr. Mom," about a laid-off auto worker who become a stay-at-home father in Michigan, came out during a deep recession).

On the other hand, I have a friend who, as an infant and toddler, was left alone for the better part of the day. His mother (an immigrant) tied a rope around his ankle and a table, put food on the floor, and left for her job every day. She had to work; staying home with him wasn't an option. (He's fine, by the way, except for the fact that he's a lawyer... I'm joking; I know one or two or three lawyers who are good people.)

This is echoed by one of the anecdotes in the article, about a "woman in New York who, unable to find anyone to care for her 4-year-old daughter while she went to work in a shoe store, simply left the girl outside in a car with a sandwich and water, checking on her every hour. The woman's decision, which came to light when someone spotted the child and called authorities, underscores the desperate situations facing a growing number of parents."

Imagine the stress and pain involved in these situations.

Alternatively, poor and working-class, and even some middle-class, people put their kids in cheap, unlicensed care. Sometimes that works out fine; "unlicensed care" is a very broad category that can include baby-sitting by close friends as well as caring individual providers. Sometimes, however, it is very risky. Many studies show that care in an unregulated environment comes with increased likelihood of abuse or neglect.

All of this really underscores that the need for America to step up and improve its child care infrastructure. This isn't a public vs. private thing--individual companies (like Google's amazing day care facility) need to step up, and so does every level of American government. To me, this is an issue that should go hand in hand with health care; both are about economic development as well as the well-being of parents and children.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The wind at our backs, the struggle ahead

7 comments:
Many wonderful things happened on Tuesday. But in California, one awful thing happened: Proposition 8, which enshrines bigotry in the state constitution, passed. Specifically, prop 8 bans gay and lesbian marriage.

You wouldn’t have known it if you were walking through the Castro on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Thousands of people were on the streets in the world’s largest gay community. They knew that prop 8 was leading, but people were exhilarated, even ecstatic, about Obama’s victory.

I kept walking, wanting to see how San Francisco’s neighborhoods were reacting; I was tired but I wanted to see all of it.

I stopped at the home of my friends Viru and Beth; it hit us that if a man named Barack Hussein Obama could become president, so could my boy, Liko Wai-Kaniela Smith-Doo, or their little girl, Anna-Priya Saiki-Gupte. America is now officially a multiracial country. It means a lot to us. This is personal, not political.

Back on the street strangers shook my hand and said, “Congratulations.” At one point I was walking down Market St. and a black man walked past me singing, “We got a black man as president!”

One member of the white gay couple walking in front of me shouted back, “Hell yeah, we got a black man as president!” The two men, one black and one gay, high-fived each other, and laughed.

Their voices sounded equally joyous; that moment encapsulated the best of the night for me. All of us saw the election as a triumph for our city, for San Francisco values, for progressive urban values: Cosmopolitanism, tolerance, thoughtfulness, fairness.

It’s three days later. I’m writing this in a crowded Castro café, and people all around me, most of them gay and lesbian, are still talking about Tuesday, recalling the thrill and the feelings of unity. (The barista is greeting costumers with, “Happy Obama!” which keeps getting a delighted little laugh.)

So Prop 8 won, but life goes on, and, for the first time in a very long time, we can feel the wind at our backs. The biggest question people in my social circle are asking is, what will happen to the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples, including our friends, who have been married?

For now, it appears, their marriage vows will be respected. California Attorney General Jerry Brown has stated in court papers and affirmed in the media that those marriages should remain valid in the wake of prop 8’s passage.

“I believe that marriages that have been entered into subsequent to the May 15 Supreme Court opinion will be recognized by the California Supreme Court,” Brown told the Chronicle. He noted that prop 8 is silent about retroactivity, and said, ‘I would think the court, in looking at the underlying equities, would most probably conclude that upholding the marriages performed in that interval before the election would be a just result.”

In time prop 8 will be overturned. America is urbanizing. It’s becoming steadily more educated. These are progressive developments, but they create contradictions, especially widening inequality.

Right after I watched the gay man and the black man celebrate together, I walked past someone sleeping on the sidewalk and someone else rummaging through a garbage can. Both homeless people were white; today in America, the lost and dispossessed can come in any color. They seemed oblivious to the election and they were utterly isolated from the people and city around them.

Perhaps I was just tired, but I ended the evening feeling sad, an emotion that seemed to arise from the certain knowledge, visceral and intellectual, that we never stop struggling. But at least now, for the moment, many of us can struggle together.

--------------

A note: I feel like the recent focus on the election has cost Daddy Dialectic some readers; comments and traffic are both down. And that's fine on both counts: I had to focus on politics, I couldn't think about much else, and it is supposed to be a blog about fatherhood. No apologies, no regrets, but we'll be turning back to fatherhood in the coming weeks, and I hope you'll consider joining in on the conversation.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Forty-five years later

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“For the first time in my adult life..."

2 comments:

"I am proud of my country."

Election Day Mental Health Break XI: Sigur Rós-Sæglópur

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Best if played LOUD

Election Day Mental Health Break X: Subway!

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I love the music and urban sensibility of classic Sesame Street...

Election Day Mental Health Break IX: A Canadian working in the American idiom

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My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," but the stage version blew us away. If you get a chance, see it. In the meantime, I think the movie has quite a bit to say to all of us on this wonderful/horrible day of days. Three classic moments:





Election Day Mental Health Break VIII: The Vulgar Boatmen perform "Foggy Notion"

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This is awesome.

The Vulgar Boatmen were one of my college bands; they were led by one of my professors, Robert Ray, who taught Introduction to Semiotics, The Avant Garde, and more--almost everything I've ever forgotten about critical theory, I learned from him. Here are the The Boatmen covering a sort-of-obscure Velvet Underground tune called "Foggy Notion," with nods to "No Fun" by the Stooges and "EMI" by the Sex Pistols. Incidentally, Liko loves this song.



I'll be posting mental health breaks every half hour until 4:30 pm PST.

Election Day Mental Health Break VII: I'll be your mirror

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I can't resist. More Velvet Underground.

Election Day Mental Health Break VI: I'm waiting for the man

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Daytona Beach, FL, 1986: My history teacher, Mr. Salter, worked summers at the local indie record store. One day my friend Annette and I came in to browse. At the time, I was into Bruce Springsteen. Mr. Salter gestured me over to the counter. He had this weird looking album with a banana on the cover.

"Jeremy," he said, "this is the Velvet Underground. I think you should buy it. I have a feeling that you're really going to like this band."

Mr. Salter was right. The Velvet Underground changed my life.

Election 2008 Mental Health Break V: Lando Calrissian for President!

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Via Ta-Nehisi.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Election 2008 Mental Health Break IV: Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street

1 comment:
Thanks Alex!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election 2008 Mental Health Break III: Peanuts Dance to "Linus & Lucy"

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Election 2008 Mental Health Break II: Madredeus in Lisbon Story

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I saw this on a freezing cold night, at the Harvard Film Archive, and I was completely transported outside of myself.

Election 2008 Mental Health Break I: "Pat & Mat"

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For the next 24 hours, I'll be posting whatever amuses me at the moment.

I think we'll start with Eastern European cartoons. At the end of the twentieth century, my wife and I lived in the Czech Republic. "Pat & Mat" was one of our favorite cartoons, no czech required.

Trust and the Election

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This morning I was interviewed (along with two other researchers) on the Forum with Michael Krasny about the nature of trust, why it's declining in America, and what role it plays in this election (this is the topic of an essay I just wrote with sociologist Pamela Paxton). You can listen to the show here:



And that's the last thing I have to say about this election. Don't forget: Tomorrow, reach out to your sanest friends, family, and neighbors, and remind them to vote. And after that, the work begins.