Saturday, April 17, 2010

Making an X

A friend posted this Facebook status, with responses.

I. wonders what made her twin boys think it would be a good idea to go in the front door (upon arriving home from MDO), through the house, out the back door, and then pee on the deck - at the same time. A tree would be ok, I guess, but the deck? Sigh.

That's just a boy for ya! At least it WAS outside....

True, G.! What's even funnier is when they think they must go at the same time (in the same potty) inside and laugh hysterically because, in their words, ..."We made a X!!"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Williams Syndrome Kids Show That Racism Requires Social Fear

Williams Syndrome is a genetic defect that deprives children of the ability to read social danger signals. They are at higher risk of being victimized.

The silver lining of this risk, though, is that they do not have social anxiety. Little kids with a normal genetic configuration strongly favor their own race at three years old. Williams syndrome kids do not. Researcher Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg concluded that racism requires social fear.

Equally interesting, I think, is that Williams syndrome kids are just as likely as other kids to see strong differences between males and females.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

50 Things to Do in Kentucky Before You Turn 50

Today is my 50th birthday. A year ago I solicited suggestions for the 50 things you should do in Kentucky before you turn 50. A year ago today I published the top 25 suggestions. Today I will reproduce that list, and take an inventory of how many I made it to.

I picked the top ten based on intrinsic excellence and national or world impact as a symbol of Kentucky. This means there has to be some horses, bourbon, coal, and basketball. There should also be some tobacco, but I do not have an excellent nominee for that category.

Kentucky Derby: I attended last year, soon after posting this list.

Mammoth Cave: I went as a kid. I would like to go back.

UK basketball game at Rupp Arena: I had tickets to see the UK men play Drexel at Rupp Arena in what turned out to be their 2000 victory (UK2K). However, I had to give the tickets to another in order to fetch my snowed-in daughter. So Mrs. G. and I attended a UK women's basketball game, a very satisfactory victory over Ole Miss in the more intimate confines of Memorial Coliseum.

Maker’s Mark factory: Not yet, though I have been to the Labrot and Graham distillery

Lincoln Shrine: I took the kids some years ago, as well as two other Lincoln cabin sites in Kentucky.

Fort Knox - Patton Museum: Not yet. And I better go soon, as they are moving stuff out.

Louisville Slugger Museum: This is the easy one that I should have done half a dozen times already. This summer, for sure.

Red River Gorge & Natural Bridge: Yes, with the family some years ago.

Abbey of Gethsemani: I took students in my "American Religion" class there a couple of years ago.

Van Lear coal museum (& Loretta Lynn) [or something like this]: No. This was really an attempt to find some specific coal-related site that is worth visiting. I still don't have the perfect nominee in this category.

The next ten are places are perhaps a step down, but big in Kentucky:

My Old Kentucky Home: Took the kids some years ago.

Shakertown: Several times.

Keeneland: Several times. I took my "Class Culture" seminar there one year.

Moonbow at Cumberland Falls: I have been to Cumberland Falls, but not on the right night to see the elusive moonbow.

Museum of the American Quilters Society: Nope. My mom has, though.

Southeast Christian: Several times, including taking a class there.

Creation Museum: Yes, and I have even written about it in the Kentucky Humanities magazine.

Berea College: Many times.

Cane Ridge revival site: Yes, including taken classes there and attending the bicentennial celebration.

Ashland - Henry Clay's home: Yes.

I will round out this first list with five food suggestions.

Hot Brown at the Brown Hotel: Yes, recently.

Kentucky Fried Chicken at the (reproduced) original store in Corbin: Yes.

Ale-8-One at the plant in Winchester: Almost, but not yet. Soon.

Moonlite Bar-B-Q in Owensboro: Yes

Miguel’s Pizza at Natural Bridge: Yes

Keep the Healthy Marriage Initiative

One of my favorite acts of the Bush administration was the Healthy Marriage Initiative. This is a small program by federal standards - about $100 million. The money went out as grants to states, and the states did various things with it.

My idea: provide a mass wedding for couples with children who plan to marry "someday." I still think this is the biggest bang for the buck that we could get in the short run.

The Obama administration plans to cut out the whole program. I don't think, as Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation does, that they are doing this because "The statist Left is not content to merely watch marriage die; it seeks to nail the coffin lid tightly shut." I think they just see it as one way to save money in a recession.

Nonetheless, promoting marriage is the most effective thing the government could do to reduce the number of children who grow up poor. Cutting the Healthy Marriage Initiative is penny-wise, but pound-foolish.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Who Represents My Race? Barack Obama

I am attending the annual Posse Plus Retreat. The Posse Scholarships bring a diverse group of student leaders from Boston to Centre College in mutual support groups (posses) of ten per class. Each year the forty Posse Scholars invite about twice that number of students, faculty, and staff to a retreat in the beautiful Kentucky countryside to talk about an important issue. This year's topic: Does Race Still Matter?

In one of the exercises designed to probe what we think race means we were each asked to consider the question "Who represents your race?" My instant answer: Barack Obama.

I am white, Obama is black. More precisely, I am descended from many of the nations and faiths of Europe, the kind of "Euro mutt" that most Americans are. My ethnicity is American. Obama is descended from that same Euro melange as well as East Africans (not the West African ancestors that most black Americans have). His ethnicity is also, I believe, American.

I take race seriously as a part of social identity. Race matters in America. As long as we are a nation of immigrants, which I hope we will always be, and as long as race matters on earth, which is likely to be a very long time, race will always matter in America.

Race is a very complex social construct, of which biology gives only one part. Race is made as much by culture as by biology. I say the American melting pot is going as strong as ever. At any given moment there are many distinct ethnic groups, some of them partly defined by race. But over time they all melt into the American ethnic alloy.

People who believe in the strength of that American alloy share my culture. If they are products of that melting pot themselves, they share my ethnicity. American ethnicity includes a faith that all the races of humans are real, but meltable.

I believe Barack Obama both shares and represents that American ethnicity, an ethnicity that ultimately includes all the "races" of the earth. He also represents the promise that even the deepest am most searing racial divisions of the American past can be overcome in the American alloy. That is my faith as well as my people's story. Obama represents my race.