Wednesday, November 25, 2015


#1 Republican presidential candidate I dislike: Ted Cruz

#2 Trump

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Old Phone Pics

San Francisco trees.

These are amazing. From the Penn Archaeology museum, a sculpture of a mother nursing...

 ... while simultaneously carrying a baby on her back. Superwoman.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ Nick Offerman in a play of A Confederacy of Dunces? Oh my goodness. I'm dying to go. Why is Boston so far? (It's also very cheap if you're under 35; the play, not Boston.)

~ Alan Jacobs on the problematic immediacy of student evals.

~ The author of Goodnight Moon (the literature I'm most engaged with at the moment) loved Gertrude Stein.

~ Zebras in West Philly (via Dillard)

~ Prescient 2009 soliloquy about Trump running for president (via Francisco)

~ I have a student who snaps. (They explained it to me, when I inquired, as expressing something like, Wow, that's deep.)

~ Memphis mow-to-own program. I always like alternative ways of coming to ownership.

~ On welders and philosophers. That was a great moment of fun for philosophers, who aren't always mentioned in presidential debates.

~ Two of my favorites: PAL on JVS.

~ On books for sale on amazon for a penny.

~ Essential pre-Thanksgiving dinner refugee debate reading.

~Cute: "Diocese converts ambulance into mobile confessional."

~ This is old now, but I thought it was pretty sane on the campus protests:

Whereas the campus unrest of the 1960s began with a series of protests at the University of California, Berkeley in defense of free speech, campuses are erupting today for the opposite reason — because a shockingly large number of current college students (51 percent in a recent poll) believe speech and expression should be curtailed in the name of keeping those students safe from emotional harm.
~ Another great critique of the university as a home here.

~ T.S. Eliot and the sexual wasteland.

~ Why and How you Should be Eating Popcorn for Breakfast. (Via Hopkins)

Saturday, November 21, 2015


One of the (many) things we love about Philadelphia is being "on the beaten path," as Francisco put it. We often get to see friends who are passing through for one reason or another.

Our old grad school friend, Fr. P was passing through today and so we met for a quick lunch. As he was leaving, he asked to bless Baby Leopard. And when he reached to inscribe the sign of the cross on his forehead, Baby Leopard gave him a sweet smile. Fr. P said, "It's hard to know whether I'm giving a blessing or receiving one." Which is of course a lot like parenthood, although it mostly feels right now that I'm giving the blessings. Though I sometimes forget, I'm also receiving them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I clearly have Stockholm syndrome: cried when I left Baby Leopard for my first night away. Also didn't manage to sleep through the night, although there were no baby's cries to wake me up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Augustine and Breastfeeding

"So I was welcomed by the consolations of human milk; but it was not my mother or my nurses who made any decision to fill their breasts, but you who through them gave me infant food, in accordance with your ordinance and the riches which are distributed deep in the natural order. You also granted me not to wish for more than you were giving, and to my nurses the desire to give me what you gave them. For by an impulse which you control their instinctive wish was to give me the milk which they had in abundance from you. For the good which came to me from them was a good for them; yet it was not from them but through them. Indeed all good things come from you, O God, and 'from my God is all my salvation.'"

--Augustine's Confessions

Augustine on breastfeeding, which of course came up in one of my classes today. (I couldn't keep myself from setting the students straight about breastfeeding, which I'm worried they will count as a microaggression, but you know, Augustine talked about it first!)

At first when I read it, I was annoyed--it seems to downplay the difficulties and sacrifice in nursing. (It hurts! You have to do it so often! I just want my body back.) Then I realized, isn't that the truth? I didn't make my breasts fill with milk; I just give to Baby Leopard what I receive in abundance from God. "Indeed all good things come from you, O God" (although I often forget and get to thinking that they come from me).

And later, "Through your mercy, Lord, my tender little heart had drunk in that name, the name of my Savior and your son, with my mother's milk, and in my deepest heart I still held on to it." Of course, the spiritual food is even more important than the physical.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ A fascinating picture of the modern family. What's the answer to being stressed out? Don't go to college, apparently. Also, be a man. This made me laugh:
In most cases, that means women still do the majority of the child care and housework — particularly managing the mental checklists of children’s schedules and needs — even when both parents work full time, according to the Pew survey and other research. Just don’t tell fathers that. They are much more likely than mothers to say they share responsibilities equally.

~ I like this [Catholic, but more widely appropriate] party-throwing guide. Although we live in a tiny apartment and can't really throw parties at the moment. Also, we're only slowly easing back into entertaining; we cooked our first dinners for non-family members last month. But still, it's great, and I look forward to hosting people again someday. (Via Like Mother, Like Daughter.)

~ I love this:
Why am I talking about this? Because, O my brothers and O my sisters, we all have the same mother, and we all could do a darn sight better job of seeing and treating her as a whole, with needs and concerns and an entire existence that doesn't have anything to do with taking care of us specifically.
I speak, of course, of Mother Church. We need to stop treating the Church like a servant who fades into irrelevance the moment she's not directly serving us. Does she cook and clean for us and do our laundry? Oh, yes, she does. She feeds us with grace, with the Word of God, and with Eucharist, and she invites us to throw our smelly old sins down the chute and -- okay, here the analogy breaks down. I guess she washes, dries, and folds our consciences for us, and leaves them in a tidy stack on our bed? She bustles around, caring for our needs, even anticipating our needs, telling us what we need and making sure we have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of what she has to offer us, from birth to maturity to death.
She knows us intimately, cares for us personally, never stops thinking about us, never stops loving us, never stops desiring everything good for us. But the Church is about more than us -- and she's about more than giving us stuff, too. Mother Church isn't just a sacrament dispenser, who fades into existence for an hour here and there, whenever we need something; and we should be careful not to treat her that way.
I spent a while discussing the Synod on the Family with Francisco and one of the things I keep coming back to is that there just isn't (from either side!) a real spirit of docility and willingness to learn from the Church. It's like culture wars have taken over the Church. I get that we need to be critical and careful about what we're learning, but in my opinion there are loads that both the liberals and conservatives (and me!) have yet to learn from the Church. And gratitude seems to point us in the right direction.

~ This is old but somehow came to my attention again. On childbearing:

Hospitality describes the mother as welcoming a needy guest, self-denial honors the pains and costs of that nurture, and stewardship observes the boundaries of her agency in respecting Providence.
~ After Serial, it seems like we're entering a new genre of story: replaying crimes and trials and wondering if the right people are in jail. Here's another: Blood Ties.

~ Excellent: Diversity in the Christian University:
But even more troubling is the movement’s implicit categorizing of people under the utterly accidental traits of race and gender. Are all women “nurturing” and “empathetic,” for instance? Surely not. Most women would resent being painted with such a broad brush. But this kind of benign—even complimentary—discrimination lies at the heart of the desire to promote certain groups on the basis of their race or gender.
~ Maybe a bit romantic, but it does include T.S. Eliot, so, "In Memory of Sheldon Wolin."


I put my tea bag in my cereal bowl this morning. #sleeptraining

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Dark Side of Care

Okay, okay, so first MSI, now Hannah. I suppose I have to give some thoughts about The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield.

I think that the perspective of disability is an interesting and insightful one from which to think about what it means to be human. Disability shows the lie in the idea that we're all equal, independent, and self-sufficient. From infancy, to old age--and even the points in between, though we sometimes trick ourselves into forgetting it--we need others.

I suspect that relationships--families, friendships, communities--can help people with a serious cognitive disabilities who might otherwise be ignored have a voice. Doctors aren't always the best gauge of the capacities and abilities of those who have cognitive disabilities--often a family member can discover more about what that person likes and dislikes, and about what that person is able to do. It takes spending time with the person and really getting to know them to understand who they are.

However, disability has a complicated relationship with care and with caregiving. Care involves asymmetries. It can imply inferiority on the part of the one cared for; it can leave the person who is receiving care vulnerable to the whims of the caregivers. It can take advantage of the care-giver. (For instance, my grandmother cared for her mother and her husband's mother night and day for many years, rarely even leaving her house.) We're aware of things like abuse in nursing homes, but we don't always remember that abuses can happen in non-institutional settings, too.

Families, friendships, and communities can go awry.

I don't have an answer to the case of Anna Stubblefield--and I don't know whether facilitated communication works or not.

I would say that it doesn't seem safe to trust someone's communications of a very sensitive nature if you're the only one who can decipher it. It seems conceivable that you might have a savior-complex.

Care isn't about saving people from their condition--it's about offering them friendship in the midst of it. If care is about being someone's Spider-man to swoop in and save the day, then the caregiver would have the same control over them as a doctor. (And the disability movement has argued that the idea of medical competency--of approaching every disability as if it is within the medical establishment's realm of expertise--is problematic. Disabilities typically aren't illnesses that can be fixed, and a disabled person should not be subjected to the doctor's (often changing and sometimes ineffective) treatments. Rather, the disabled should be allowed to choose how to approach and care for their disability, supported and aided by doctors.)

Finally, and this isn't my idea, but a friend's: While I'm open to new ways that allow people to communicate, isn't the idea that there is fully functioning reasoning present in many disabled people an attempt to colonize disability? Doesn't it valorize reason rather than accept the whole range of human difference? I think that people with disabilities should be treated with human dignity quite apart from whether, with an innovative new method, we can unlock their rationality.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


People! You do realize that this whole, "Send one person a gift and 36 people will send you gifts!" thing is a pyramid scheme like a chain letter! They don't work, and they're annoying. Cut it out! (We don't have to relive everything in the new medium of facebook, do we?)

The Duck Pond

We had a delightful and somewhat spur of the moment visit from Diana over my fall break last month. So of course, we had to show her our duck pond.

We explored Philadelphia a bit, too, but when exploring with the baby, it's harder to take pictures. (Plus, it's hard to focus on pictures when you're so busy catching up!)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Franklin Square

I've been wanting to take Baby Leopard on a carousel. Turns out, he's still too little: he didn't let me put him on a horse, so we just rode around together.