• books,  history,  politics,  the ethical life

    Tales From a Child of the Enemy

    With Remembrance Day (and Veteran’s Day) coming up tomorrow, I find myself drawn back to a book I picked up a couple of years ago. It is a book of poetry called Tales from a Child of the Enemyby Ursula Duba. Ursula Duba was born in Germany at the outbreak of World War II and the first few poems describe her childhood in the war. She writes of wondering where the carpets were in a carpet bombing, and about dreaming of travelling to a continent with no war. She writes about the emotions and anger that her father would have been feeling, as a man unable to adequately feed his family in…

  • meaning of life,  the ethical life

    Your Opinion of Me Is None of My Business. Except when it is.

    I remember as a teenager reading the line “your opinion of me is none of my business” and really liking it. Naturally I’ve never lived up to it. I’ve always cared what others think about me, but at least it is something to strive towards. I like that line partly because it doesn’t demand that the other person’s opinion be good. It doesn’t say “don’t judge me.” The other person is free to judge, but that judgement is their business and not mine. I was at The Feminist Breeder‘s facebook page a few days ago. I shouldn’t go there. She was posting about how sick she and her daughter are, and…

  • money,  Occupy,  politics,  the ethical life

    A Handful of Ways to Reduce Poverty

    As I was becoming involved with my local Coalition Against Poverty, I found myself surfing the webpages of other poverty reduction groups. The Peterborough Poverty Network has a wonderful poster listing 101 Ways to Reduce Poverty. Many of their suggestions are local to Peterborough, but some of them are relevant anywhere. Some of them are not so much reducing poverty as helping to reduce the effects of poverty. I want to share a few of their suggestions, and a few of my own: A couple of their suggestions: Lobby your sports teams, clubs, etc to provide a few free memberships each year. Carpool. Exchange babysitting with other families. Contribute to charities in place of…

  • culture,  God,  homeschooling,  religion,  the ethical life

    the biggest problem in homeschooling circles

    The biggest hesitation I had in writing yesterday’s post was a line near the bottom of the post, the one mentioning that the organization Kids Need To Read offers a special package of LGTB friendly books. I hesitated mentioning that because I know people would view that in different ways. Some people would think it is a good selling point while others would be turned off by it. I’m not sure which way my audience here leans so why bother mentioning it? Why not just ignore that detail about the organization and focus on the less controversial aspect of sharing simple picture books with kids? I left the line in.…

  • books,  politics,  the ethical life

    Complexities of Affirmative Action

    When I first heard about the court case in the USA Supreme Court of a Texan who claims that she was denied access to the further education of choice because less qualified minority students were accepted on the basis of race, my first instinct was to think poorly of the girl and to wonder who put her up to it. The university she was applying for already has a program that allows the top 10% of students automatic acceptance, but she didn’t qualify for that. Supposedly that category of students makes up over 70% of the new admission to the university and the university gets to decide “holistically” who should…

  • books,  the ethical life

    Before the Lion Became King by Osei-Agyemang and Aesop’s fable of the Lion king.

    I am thinking today about two stories. One is an Aesop fable about the lion king passing a law that all the animals will live in harmony together and a hare says  “oh how I have longed to see this day where the weak can take their place by the strong with impunity.” Then the hare takes off running, presumably because he doesn’t really believe the animals can change but perhaps because he cannot change his own fearful nature. The second story is called Before the Lion Became King. It is written by Andrew Nana Osei-Agyemang, a Ghanaian author and published through Dorrance Publishing (self or subsidy publishing company). I received a free…

  • food,  seasons,  the ethical life

    Reflections on Thanksgiving

    It is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and I’m not entirely sure what to think. As a child in school the emphasis was on pilgrims and settlers and natives and pumpkins and turkeys. Now of course I know that the stories about the first European settlers aren’t exactly as simple and straightforward as they make it sounds to eight year olds and I’m not sure that time of history is something I want to celebrate. Should we celebrate the contact between the “old world” and the “new” when it resulted in such a loss of population for those of the new? Thanksgiving as a celebration of the harvest does make sense to…

  • God,  religion,  the ethical life

    Skim Reading Not Recommended: On what it means to be (hesitantly) Christian

    I’ve gone back and forth on whether I want to include religious content on my blog. I fear doing so will alienate practically everyone and bring no real benefit, so why bother? But the long story short is that I’ve decided I will include some religious thoughts, occasionally, though I’ll keep the bulk of the blog about books and homeschooling, math and occasional politics. This post is about why I want to be more open about my religious beliefs, and the story starts with me reading this blog post and with the following paragraph sticking out to me: For those of us who try every day to walk the talk,…

  • books,  communication,  culture,  God,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    A book about the Harry Potter books, and the many questions they invoke.

    My current light-reading is the book Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menance behind the Magick by Richard Abanes. In some ways it is a very weird book for me to read because I do not share the author’s conservative Christian religious beliefs. Why then should I concern myself with the criticisms he has of Harry Potter based on those religious beliefs? I am drawn to the book for the chance to see a little window into the ideas of others. How does his understanding of the Bible effect his understanding of Harry Potter? How does his understanding of Harry Potter help me understand my own views of the world? Much of the book ends…

  • books,  communication,  the ethical life

    Great Book: Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

    I’ve always been fascinated by disagreements and alternative perspectives on things, so I’m greatly enjoying reading the book Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Travris and Elliot Aronson. The subtitle to the book is “Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts.” One of the key metaphors in the book is of a decision being like the tip of a pyramid. At some point a person might be uncertain about which way he or she will go. Once a person makes a decision and starts down that one side of the pyramid the person will be constantly attempting to justify the decision. Whereas before the choice is…