Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I've been having an on again, off again intellectual war with my sixth grade class about whether or not you can call zero the middle of all numbers. I maintain that you cannot, since to call something the middle means that it divides something into equal parts, which, since there are infinite positive and negative numbers, cannot be the case; you can't call two infinites equal in the same way that two finites are equal. They maintain that you can call zero the middle of all numbers, since, see, there is a correlation between every positive and every negative number. Hence, equality! So, zero is the middle!

Frankly, it just tickles me that they find the discussion at all interesting. They keep bringing it up, too. I should spring some of the dialogues of Galileo on them, assuming the role of Simplicius...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Things I have been up to:

Last weekend - the Edith Stein conference, in Notre Dame. My sis and I were among the few out-of-town attendees, but I'm sure that next year the conference will attract more attention. The topic of the conference was redefining feminism in accordance with JP II's call for a new feminism. The speakers were on the whole quite good, although there was a bit of preaching to the choir re: abortion/contraception/pornography. I think it's a safe bet that people attending a conference about Edith Stein are probably aware that pr0n is teh bad for women.

Things that I enjoyed hearing pointed out:

  • Lay women who are mothers now have the ability to contribute to philosophy and theology, and in so doing could give an unprecedented insight into many issues. Elizabeth Anscombe is probably the foremost example of this.

  • Those who are against higher education for women, inasmuch as such higher education does not directly prepare women for baby-making/caring (and there are some Catholics, men and women, who hold this opinion) implicitly consider childcare a purely material endeavour. If, really, taking care of kids involves only changing their diapers and putting food in their mouths, then yeah, arguably, the education or lack thereof on the part of the mother wouldn't matter a bit. However, being a mother to children involves not just nourishing their bodies, but also cultivating their souls. The more well rounded your education has been, the more you are able to transmit to your kidlings a love of the true, good, and beautiful. True education is never a waste, even if you do go ahead and spend your life homeschooling children.

Things I wish were addressed (but weren't):

  • I was baffled when many of the speakers made reference to women's loss of dignity in our day and age/culture. Sure, contraception, pornography, and abortion all rob women of dignity. However, do women as a whole have less dignity now then they did at any other point in the history of the West? No one made any arguments to that effect.

  • Pope John Paul II is not the only feminist. I would have loved to hear a treatment of the feminist movement, per se, especially on what good can be brought out of early feminist thought.

  • It seems to me that the Church has done much to reverse the Greco-Roman view of women as beautiful but better kept in the background (just as the Church worked against slavery and infant exposure and other social ills). However, the Church still existed in a culture which had a seriously warped view of women. This definitely had some effect (e.g. Tertullian calling women the "gateways of hell"). I would be interested in seeing a history of the evolution of the Church's thought on the role of women, written from the perspective of a non-lunatic.

Things I have been up to (pt II):

This weekend - Southern California makes another attempt on my life. There was a smattering of rain on Friday night, which is enough to bring out the crazy in every SoCal driver. There was a ridiculously giant multi-car pileup in the far right hand lane, which, for added fun, had no shoulder. I was able to stop in time, but got hit from behind by a motorcycle. Fortunately, I was still moving when I got hit, and the motorcyclist was braking, so he, miraculously, was uninjured. Another car ran over his bike, though (he was already off the bike), and apparently the crashes continued piling up. I managed to get around the rest of the wrecks and pull over on the shoulder, so my frail little tin can of a Honda Civic didn't get crunched. According to the drivers I was chatting with while waiting to talk to the CHP, no one was injured in the entire crash---unbelievable luck, since the cars getting hauled out of there were completely crumpled, with wheels askew and everything. In any event. I'm fine, the car is a bit dented, the cyclist who hit me is fine, and in all respects this was the most fortunate way possible I could have been involved in a rainy multi-car pileup. God is very good.

Oh, and one other disturbing thing about the experience---I tried calling 911 on my cell phone, and got put on hold. For, like, a minute. At least they didn't play muzak. Now I know what I'm NOT going to do if there is a rabid ax-murderer chasing me around.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I spotted a permutation of the "here is my family in stick figure form" bumper decoration meme. This Jetta driver had the normal stick figure line up---himself, two kids, and a dog---but in the spot where the stick figure mom would normally go, he had a sticker which said "VACANT." Thus advertising the fact that he was a single dad on the prowl.

How could this possibly help his dating prospects? Is he hoping that women will rear end him in traffic as an excuse to meet him, all romantic comedy style? "Oh, and, uh, I see you have a stick figure mom vacancy...want to grab coffee sometime?"

Saturday, February 04, 2006

pants-wettingly funny incident:

John Baby and I were sitting outside at a corner cafe, at about 11 pm last night. The night was pretty quiet, except for two guys who were having some kind of altercation across the street. One guy began to walk away, and the other, the apparent source of all the noise, began walking toward us, shouting "FUCK the pack of cigarettes, WHERE is my fucking PHONE?!?!?" Then, directed towards no-one in particular: "Yeah, you heard me...WHERE is my fucking PHONE?!?" Finally, he reached the corner where we were, and began savagely hitting the walk button for the traffic light. He stood there fuming for a few seconds, then announced: "FUCK this shit. AIN'T NO TRAFFIC!!!" and crossed the (completely deserted) street.

I wouldn't want to come between Mr. Furious and his phone. Nosirree. He totally showed those traffic laws, too.