Nov 232007

Nathan was wading through the 764,000-page Thanksgiving edition of The Huntsville Times this evening.

Nathan:  “Daddy, here are a couple of good games we can get for the Wii!”

Daddy:  “But we don’t have a Wii.”

Nathan:  “You said we were going to get a Wii.”

Daddy:  “Well, I said a long time ago that I might like to get one, but I didn’t say we definitely were.”

Nathan (matter-of-factly):  “Well, I asked Santa Claus for a Wii, and I can’t change it now.”

(Fortunately, Santa scored one in September.)

 Posted by at 9:52 pm
Nov 222007

Are you ready for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated by your local police? High-power cameras, ultra-sensitive microphones, infrared sensors, all of that good stuff? They’re for your safety and for the children, of course.

The Houston Police Department is all hard thinking about bringing them to you as soon as June of next year. Quoting from a story that exposed the secret test this week:

“I wasn’t ready to publicize this,” Executive Assistant Police Chief Martha Montalvo said. She and other department leaders hastily organized a news conference when they realized Local 2 Investigates had captured the entire event on camera.

“We still haven’t even decided how we were going to go forward on this task, so it seemed premature to me to announce this to the media,” Montalvo said. “But since, obviously, the media found out about it, then I don’t see any reason why just not go forward with what we have so far.”

Montalvo told reporters the unmanned aircraft would be used for “mobility” or traffic issues, evacuations during storms, homeland security, search and rescue, and also “tactical.” She admitted that could include covert police actions and she said she was not ruling out someday using the drones for writing traffic tickets.

Translation: All right, dammit, you guys blew the lid off our secret, so here’s as much of the deal as I’m willing to tell you.

And did you catch that word “tactical”? Nah, that’s not ominous. Worry not, comrad…uh, citizens. I mean, if you’re not breaking the law, why on earth would you feel any sort of anxiety about this? I loved this bit from the story, which I swear is a direct quote:

HPD leaders said they would address privacy and unlawful search questions later.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I suppose we’ll have to say something about all of those quaint little constitutional notions at some point. But don’t bug us now; we’re playing with our new toy.

As depressing as our accelerating slide toward totally public and meticulously recorded lives is, I did find something encouraging in this story: that it exists at all. This is genuine investigative journalism of the sort that is all but nonexistent anymore at the upper echelons of the mass media Borgs.

I still have hope. Maybe this is still over a lot of people’s lines. Maybe there will be outcry in Houston. Maybe people will march in the streets for something truly meaningful, for the first time in far too long.

Or maybe our numbness to it all has already reached critical mass. Because the other image I get is one of a dad reading the electronic paper in a not-too-distant future and mumbling, “Oh, look, honey, the new telescreens are in at Circuit City. You know we’re supposed to replace it every two years, and I missed the deadline for filing a waiver.”

 Posted by at 10:06 am
Nov 202007

I’ve gone back and read this post of Mrs. Chili’s several times now. It concerns familial relations, holiday planning, and stuff like that to which most all of us can relate. If you haven’t read it, go check it out. I’ll wait for you.

* * * * *

Got it? OK. It’s a representatively engaging narrative of holiday strife, right? Merry Effing Christmas, indeed. I’ve been close to commenting several times, but decided to make it a post instead.

Being between a wife and mother who disagree is not a pleasant place to be, and to some degree I sympathize with Mr. Chili. I had a hard time with this right after Lea and I married, as described in #17 here. But see, here’s the thing, guys, and get it through your head: your wife is correct. Period.

Go ahead and laugh, but I’m absolutely serious. If you have an emotionally healthy and mutually respectful marriage, your wife wins. Given two conflicting and superficially reasonable respective requests from your wife and mother, if you’re going to piss one of them off no matter what you do, piss your mother off every time. It is your wife to whom you have cleaved; with whom you have become one flesh.

Note that I say “if you have an emotionally healthy and mutually respectful marriage.” If you guys have been fucking with each other’s feelings and/or self-images and doing your damnedest to win nasty little points against each other for the past ten years, or if she’s criminally insane, or Nancy Grace, or what have you, then never mind. Best of luck, sport, and maybe a little critical self-examination (aimed at discovering what it is you think you’re doing with your life) is indicated. But your wife is healthy, and you are too? She’s right.

Be cautious of overvaluing nebulous emotional considerations. “Oh, Mom doesn’t mean any harm; let’s not make waves.” Bullshit. Yes, it’s your family, and there may well be some things for which family members should receive a pass that Joe-off-the-street shouldn’t. But such a pass should never be issued for not acting like a reasonable grown-up.

Finally—and please pardon the cliché—be courageous in your convictions, and dispassionate in their application. If you’re going up against the clan because you want to win the point, or because you’re still sour about not getting a pony, then I’m not talking to you. I’m talking about reaching a reasonable plan with your wife, and executing it.

If you guys approach the situation maturely and constructively, then everyone’s feelings (including Mom’s) are considered, and there is no reasonable argument against your chosen course. If Mom doesn’t like the compromise you’ve crafted, it is her problem. Don’t make it yours. If she wants to send you snarky email, or fence with you over dessert, or whatever, don’t play. Exit the conversation gracefully, and without smugness. The placidity that results from being right is more than enough to offset any nonsense that lesser parties may be eager to perpetuate.

 Posted by at 9:50 pm
Nov 192007

Frances Townsend, homeland security adviser to President Bush, is resigning her post effective early next year to take a job in the private sector.

Townsend is a self-made and accomplished professional, as well as a wife and mother of two.

Also, her multiple ear piercing is hot.

 Posted by at 5:35 pm