October 28, 2000

Cranberry Flight

Michael enjoyed with great reserve the perfect red of the airplane's house cranberry juice cocktail. In all of his life, only maraschino had come close. Those precious cherries hidden in the back of the refrigrator, cherished by his parents for the 2 parties they threw every year were the reason for his love of red. It was a lushly sweet forbidden red whose consumption bode danger. It was the color of his fingerpaint masterpieces above the fireplace. When he had declared, at the age of four, his love for the magic color, his parents declared him special. Red was the color of daring, and his admiration for it was whole, in that way that children gain a sense of adulthood by their open devotion to something grownups respect. "And he's a Gemini", his mother would say.

Thirty seven thousand feet above the Continental Divide, he swirled the red in its transparent plastic cup; admired its refractions through the ice cubes, relished its frigid tartness on his lips. His voice wouldn't carry on planes; he often had to shout it once again to the flight attendant. "Cranberry!" as he would watch for her hands to awkwardly change direction away from the diet sodas. Cranberry was just rare enough for him to merit, on less than full flights, his own full can. And so it was, in his second career, in sales, as a frequent flyer, that Michael once again rekindled and finally indulged his passion for the color of fire. With his mouth full of icy tartness his eyes twinkled at the woman in 15C.

Posted by mbowen at 08:02 PM | TrackBack

October 22, 2000

Skills Based Promotion

i just came back from taking my kids to a birthday party. the host is a high school teacher and i listened to him at length. he related some stories about how he began some classes with open-ended questions that kids had to dig deep to answer. he told me that he went home and cried when he heard from a 14 year old girl who had 2 abortions and was distraught wondering what they might have looked like. another high school kid held his brother while he bled to death. so i posed the question to him about skills based promotion vs social promotion, knowing that he understood that some kids need real family from school. he juggles both.

what surprised my friend was that the kids believed that the world was like high school. those who had felt love, hate, danger, thrills, and even life and death felt that highschool was a microcosm. he tries to explain to them that only in highschool are people trying to help them, whereas in the real world it's 'what can you do for me'. he explained the real world in a way that was compelling to me - that all you get from the real world is money. that's how the game is played and money is how we keep score. a bleak way of communicating, but he says it's reasonably effective.

i'm not convinced that teaching kids to learn from this materialist perspective is proper. but perhaps i need to accept that there will always be people at that level of society who can't or won't appreciate anything better. i don't have the experience of going to a regular highschool, much less a second-rate highschool. so maybe i just can't relate to education sold by teachers for anything other than it's own sake...

Posted by mbowen at 10:03 AM | TrackBack

Ethical Fundamentalists

i think of ethics as the practical behavior of an individual who is attempting to be consistant to a philosophy. the question of whether an act is ethical, then, depends on if its relationship to a consistently applied policy or philosophy or belief. in this way, lying to the nazi is not ethical to the nazi, but is ethical to the enemies of nazis.

what's difficult about ethics in our society is that we improperly assume a universal philosophy or an irreconcilable difference of philosophies, or even a complete lack of philosophy on the part of the other party. so as a result of the reasonable goal of avoiding conflict, we lie or tolerate things that disgust us. this is unethical behavior but it is, for the moment, socially acceptable. i tend to believe that it requires that an individual cultivate a measure of skill, courage and clarity in order to be consistently ethical.

so in direct response to the question. i believe that most americans desire to be ethical fundamentalists, yet may lack the skill, courage or clarity to be true. it is certainly no easy task, but i don't necessarily see a moral fault in people who fail to be ethical. if they fail to *try* to be ethical - if they reject their responsibility to be ethical or have no moral compass which bears any resemblance to that of civil society, then that is a different matter. i do wonder how many people, given the level of uncivility, lying and false tolerance have given up on being responsible to their own sense of ethics.

Posted by mbowen at 09:04 AM | TrackBack

October 15, 2000

Long Time No Post

ok it's been four months since i wrote anything here. so i'm feeling guilty about it. what has been on my mind this past week?
cole blooded
it's not such a horrible thing that only 17 american soldiers got killed. on the whole, for the year, that's pretty damned good. we've got enemies. this sort of thing is to be expected.

presidential debates
we should have already had the election. i'm bored. someone put it nicely on 60 minutes last week. i made a decision to marry my wife in much less time than a political season. all we are doing by having primary after primary, town hall after town hall and debate after debate for months on end is teach candidates how to remake their image over and over. already saletan declares an old gore dead and a new one born.

is this really the lesson we should be teaching candidates? thank god nader doesn't get the coverage, heaven help us, we'd get a new one. i like the old non-spinning nader just fine, and he's got my vote.

Posted by mbowen at 08:06 PM | TrackBack