July 28, 2005

Stupid Stupid Cops, Judge, Etc.

I just saw the story (courtesy of DaddyTypes) about the man who spent six months in jail for blowing raspberries on his newborn son's tummy. (Read on only if you want to see me vulgarly vent a spleen.)

Holy fuck! What were they (the police, the judge, etc.) thinking?!? According to comments on DaddyTypes, the angle of the photo may have made it unclear if the man was kissing the belly button or the penis (which would be weird), but SIX MONTHS?!? The mother was also arrested, although she got out on bond. But she wasn't allowed any contact with her children (they had an older child who was also taken away) for months. In what way is keeping children away from their parents while you waste six months trying to decide if there was any criminal intent? I'd think you'd want to clear things up either way, to allow the newborn to get back to his parents.

There was another suggestion in the comments that maybe they wanted to check the man's immigration status. Using a completely unrelated item to detain someone while you check on their immigration status is unethical, at best (but for all I know, it's probably legal). But for 6 months? Do these asstards not care one whit for the effects their arrests have on families?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:04 PM | Comments (1)

July 19, 2005

Religion in the workplace

Continuing with the theme of bizarre education news, we now have the Utah teacher fired for being a witch.

"She also believes in witchcraft and paints her windows in her classroom black. Halloween is her favorite holiday and she doesn’t hide the fact that she prefers the dark side."

Witchcraft? Jensen had always known her coffee drinking was considered odd. She was the only teacher who drank the stuff, though one part-timer occasionally sneaked a cup saying, “‘I’m really careful about where I drink this,’” Jensen said. Her proposal that students read Steinbeck’s classic but profanity-laced Of Mice and Men had raised eyebrows. She had once been accused of swearing in class by a parent who heard the rumor at Relief Society Enrichment Night. But witchcraft? That was a shocker.

Reading the article, I'm not sure that the coffee is actually the reason she "believes in witchcraft" - it's more likely to be that she taught The Crucible one year. Of course, that's oddly prophetic, as it turns out.

If Jensen were a witch, her belief system would be protected by federal antidiscrimination law. But she isn’t. She was raised LDS, but left the faith long ago and doesn’t practice any religion now.

Perhaps that's the real problem. Both non-LDS teachers in the school were fired on the same day. The other was not a lapsed Mormon - she was Catholic - but students still referred their area of the building were as "Hell's Corner."

Further, it appears that the state attorney general may have withheld key evidence in the case, about the part of the school board meeting where the witchcraft accusations were discussed. That's a very serious matter, sufficient grounds for disbarment in any state. That it would be done by a state attorney general is mind-boggling.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 02:24 PM | Comments (3)

July 15, 2005

Competitiveness out of control

Since Tom says I should blog these things instead of just sending them to him...

A T-ball coach has been charged for hiring a player from another team to injure one of his own players, so he wouldn't have to put him in the game.

Words fail me. I understand that adults can get competitive about children's sports, but I was hoping it was limited to high school or maybe junior high kids. I mean, it's T-ball! They usually don't even keep score!

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 03:57 PM | Comments (1)

April 22, 2005

Who's More Emotional?

In a story on MarketWatch titled "Women make fewer investing mistakes" (registration may be required to read the article), the author cites new research that says that men are more emotional about investing than women, which leads the men to make more mistakes. I have no qualms about the fact that women, on average, do better than men when it comes to investing. But this article made me think more about the entire "women are more emotional than men" thing.

Maybe men and women are equally "emotional," but they just experience different emotions to different extents. On average, men are not as focused on relationships as women are. And on average, women are not as focused on competition as men are. (You can substitute in whatever areas you think are more appropriate than "relationships" and "competition" - I'm just pulling the first stereotype off the top of my head.) But I would bet that each gender feels, on average, equally strongly about those areas they're most focused on.

Just because one group communicates about their feelings more than another group does not mean that they actually have more feelings. So stop saying that women are more emotional than men, OK? Maybe women talk about their feelings more than men do, because those types of discussions are more relevant to their focus on relationships. Didja ever think of that?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Traffic Irony

I got a speeding ticket shortly after Dorothy's birthday. I mailed in the ticked with a request for a mitigation hearing, which was today in Mercer Island. The parking lot was full, which put me in an ironic situation: was I going to need to park illegally, risking a ticket, in order to go to traffic court?!? What the eff were they thinking?

Two different people there said that the parking lot usually has plenty of space, and indeed it did when I left court. So maybe my experience was a fluke. Or maybe the people who designed that building (which also contains city hall and the police department) are bastards.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:19 PM | Comments (2)

April 09, 2005

Rampaging Rhinoceros!

Those damn rhinoceroses stomping through Dorothy's nose and messing up all the... what? Oh, no, not big huge herbivorous ungulates. I'm talking about those things that cause colds. You know, whachamacallums. Right. Rhinoviruses. Same thing.

Dorothy's got a cold again. Her nose started running on Wednesday, and it was a fountain of snot by Thursday (my day to keep her at home), and it got a nice cough for company. Elizabeth dropped her off at daycare Friday morning, but I got a call at 11am saying that D had a temperature of 101.8, so I had to go get her. Later that afternoon I measured a temp of 102.9. Dorothy's mood would swing quite widely. At times she'd be happy and chipper, playing and trucking around. In a heartbeat she'd suddenly start crying and fussing and take a while to be calmed down. We suspect it's a combination of the ugly cold and the molars coming in (the second one is 3/4 visible, and looks about as big as, well, a rhinoceros).

Of course, Elizabeth got it too, and had to take an extra nap this afternoon. I love Dorothy dearly, and want to spend lots of time with her. But I get frustrated when sick-watch duty suddenly crops up and keeps me from getting much, if any, work done for days on end. Any suggestions?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:02 PM | Comments (1)

April 01, 2005

Ha Ha Very Funny

Ooh, it's April Fool's Day - let's make the Nugents all sick. What a great way to celebrate the day!

Yes, we were all sick today. Dorothy got something from daycare that struck late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning (finding your daughter's bed covered in vomit and maybe a bit of poop when she wakes you up in the morning is NOT fun). She was mostly OK after the initial bout, but she developed a fever and some near-diarrhea at daycare on Wednesday, and it hasn't gone away yet, so they wouldn't let her back in daycare today. Yesterday (Thursday) was my day to watch her, and it went relatively well, especially since she napped for over 3 hours straight. I took advantage of her napping to sleep myself, and wound up sleeping for over 2 hours. Hmmm, maybe that should have been a sign. I was feeling worse as the afternoon wore on, and miserable by evening. But I never got past the "ooh, I think I might get nauseous or something in a few hours" stage. Elizabeth didn't bother with the slow descent into misery - she just woke up sick in the middle of the night, and kept at it all night long. Neither of us slept much at all last night.

Today found all three of us feeling miserable and tired. Since I was the less-sick adult, I got to take care of Dorothy most of the day. She was a little out of sorts, but nothing horrible. She did nap more than usual, and ate less than normal. There were times when she wanted to play with Daddy and I wasn't up to it, which made me feel bad. But at least I didn't toss her in the crib and let her fend for herself for 12 hours straight...

Here's to hoping we can shake it all off ASAP. BIDS, you can kiss my ass!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2005

Bad Drivers

Boston is supposed to be the bad-driver capital of the US (except maybe for New York City, but no one drives there except the cabs). But today I saw what was probably the most egregious example of bad driving I have ever witnessed, much worse than anything I ever saw in Boston.

An SUV was in a parking lot on Bellevue Way, and wanted to get to the Arby's down the street. To do this legally, he would have had to turn left onto Bellevue Way, go 1/4 block, and turn left off Bellevue Way into the parking lot. But that would have required waiting for cross traffic. So instead, he just drove down the sidewalk. I was so stunned I failed to get his license plate number.

He didn't even go into the Arby's - he just cut through their lot onto another street.

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

More on Overprotection

I just read an interesting (if long) article titled "Safe Child Syndrome: Protecting kids to death." It's not anything terribly new, just a good take on the whole issue of Parents Who Hover and how they're messing up their kids.

At a cocktail party last summer, I mentioned to a group of grandmothers how lucky I am that my parents are nearby and quick to pitch in. One of the women, whose job includes daily responsibility for the welfare of hundreds of children, told me her own grown children usually turn down her offers to babysit.

"I know plenty of parents who see leaving the kids with Grandma as selfish," I told her. "They think it's important their kids spend as much time with them as possible."

That is so not me. Whenever Grandma or Grandpa want to watch Dorothy, I'm all for it! I love her dearly, but I need time for myself and my other activities; she is not the only thing in my universe. We appreciate any babysitting they do. I sometimes do feel guilty asking, but not for long. :-)

The article did get me thinking about the type of neighborhood to live in. It was encouraging back in Norwood that there were groups of kids playing in the street, hanging out on porches, etc. I don't see that around our house in Bellevue, but the neighborhood layout is different, so it might be harder to see. But I suspect it simply isn't there. And from the article, it sounds like that type of neighborhood and child culture is absent in many places, especially the higher you climb the socioeconomic ladder.

The tidbit that pissed me off was the story about a woman who let her five and seven year-old kids go across the street to an adjacent park to play, while she watched from her living room. The park director got upset, and eventually Child Protective Services got involved and opened a file on the family! And they won't close it for four years! Having the government decide when it is legal for your child to cross a street by themselves or to be without you at a park is sheer absurdity! Sure, you should be penalized if your child gets injured and you weren't watching, but it should be up to you to decide at what age they should be safe by themselves.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:53 PM | Comments (1)

March 20, 2005

The Anti-Science Fundamentalists and IMAX

Huh. Barely have I made my first post about evolution when I have to do it again. Today, the New York Times has a story titled "A New Screen Test for Imax: It's the Bible vs. the Volcano." IMAX films that mention evolution, the Big Bang or "the geology of the earth" are being refused at some (not all, admittedly) IMAX theatres, mostly in the South (yeah, who knew geology could be so controversial?). Let's jump into some choice quotes:

"Volcanoes," released in 2003 and sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University, has been turned down at about a dozen science centers, mostly in the South, said Dr. Richard Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer who was chief scientist for the film. He said theater officials rejected the film because of its brief references to evolution, in particular to the possibility that life on Earth originated at the undersea vents.
Oh no! They made a brief reference to evolution! Let's can entire movie! Or maybe they should go stick their heads deeper into the sand.
Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous."

In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence."

To be fair, if your target market doesn't want to buy a product, it may not make sense to offer that product. But I wonder, have they done actual demographic studies to see what part of their community would actually reject seeing the movie altogether? Or do they take the strong opinions of a few people to decide on what's presented to the majority?

And to the person who hates it when the "theory" of evolution is presented as fact: Get over it! Evolution is about as close as a fact as it's possible to get in science. We also have a theory that virtual particles are constantly created and destroyed on a sub-atomic scale. These particles are not directly observable, but experiments confirm predictions from the theory (such as the pressure between two plates in a vacuum). There are still some questions (e.g., is it possible to extract energy from the sea of particles?), but that doesn't mean that virtual particles are not as close to fact as it's possible to get. Most importantly, there are no plausible counter-vailing theories. Wikipedia has a much more cogent and concise article on theory than what I just wrote. :-) In particular, read the section "Characteristics of a Theory."

One last quote:

"We have definitely a lot more creation public than evolution public," said Lisa Buzzelli, who directs the Charleston Imax Theater in South Carolina, a commercial theater next to the Charleston Aquarium. Her theater had not ruled out ever showing "Volcanoes," Ms. Buzzelli said, "but being in the Bible Belt, the movie does have a lot to do with evolution, and we weigh that carefully."

"More creation public than evolution public." I think that statement says it all. Religion seems to define most aspects of society in the Bible Belt. Non-Christians need not apply.

And if you only follow one link from this post, make it the Wikipedia article on theory one. It

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:06 AM | Comments (1)

February 25, 2005

A "Gift" of Sperm?

I'm pretty much left speechless by this story of a woman who, during an affair, stored sperm from oral sex with her lover, and then impregnated herself later. The man knew nothing about it until she slapped him with a paternity lawsuit two years later. Read the whole story for the details of the actions and the lawsuits (e.g., you can learn why I chose the title I did for this post).

I'm not sure what you can say about the whole thing, other than "That's some fucked up shit!"? In so many ways, it's just weird.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2004

Go To Sleep, Damnit

Yes, I love my daughter very much, and wouldn't trade her for the world. But her night-time sleep habits lately are pissing me off. Read on for the vulgarity-laced rant to Dorothy, unless you haven't yet had children, in which case you should just ignore this entire post because having children is a 100% happy experience which has no downsides whatsoever. Come on in and join us, the water's fine!

Dorothy, I understand that your mommy and I messed up your sleep schedule when we went to Seattle, even though you'd been making progress on sleeping longer at night and sometimes taking decently long naps during the day. And yes, we may not have been hard-core enough to reset your sleep schedule as soon as we returned home, instead letting you continue to come into the bed and doing whatever it took to get you back to sleep right away, rather than distracting you and keeping you focused on sleeping in the crib.

But we've been back home for over three weeks now! Get over it!

When it's 1am, and you just nursed only 90 minutes ago and had Tylenol right before that, and you seem content enough (perhaps even half-asleep?) in my arms or Elizabeth's arms but shriek bloody murder as soon as we get you near the crib, I am ready to scream:


We've come to like Dr. Weissbluth's "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" book, which talks a lot about early bed times and long naps. It had been working a month ago. But now that you're not only waking up every couple of hours at night but also getting up for the day at 5-freaking-AM in the morning, we're ready to move on to his suggestions for the more difficult babies: let them cry it out. When you were four or five months old, I thought letting a baby cry until they dropped was still too "barbaric" a way to get babies to sleep. But I think it's become pretty clear that you're no longer staying awake because that's what your body wants. You're staying awake because you want attention and someone to play with.

That's nice and all, but no fucking way are we going to let you mess up our sleep forever. For one thing, I'm becoming less and less useful to your mommy when you wake us up at night. In the first few months, I could wake up and take care of you without much problem. These days, though, half the time I wake up very grumpy and almost scream back at you when you're fussing about the crib. I'm physically gentle, but not much use. So you're just being self-defeating about waking up anyway. And for another thing, I think it's time you start developing a better sleep schedule, because it'll be healthier for you, and it's the "big girl" thing to do.

So be warned: that little bit of crying while in the crib you experienced today could be just the beginning. Your mother and I need to get more continuous sleep, because your cuteness will save your life only for so long....

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:56 PM | Comments (3)

October 29, 2004

Stupid, !@*$#! Paperwork

This post kicks of a new category, "Rant & Cuss." This post (and probably most in this category) will contain lots of swearing and invective, so if you'd rather not see such things (Hi Grandma!), do not read on.

Elizabeth and I own a two-family house, and we rent out the first floor unit. For the most part, being a landlord hasn't been too bad. Finding tenants takes some work, and of course there can be occasional large expenses if an oven goes kaput. But mainly, it's not too bad (although it's debateable whether or not it's profitable).

But the gawdamn regulations piss me off sometimes. You have to put tenants' security deposit money into a separate account. Fine. But the bank paperwork to open a new bank account is fucking ridiculous! If I as landlord am the only one with power over the account (tenants are just listed as "beneficiaries"), then why in hell does the bank need two forms of ID from the tenants, PLUS their signatures? And a W-9 form? Geezus! Yes, I know the IRS needs to get their greedy little pissant hands on all your income, but you know what? Bank accounts aren't paying SHIT for interest these days. Over the last couple of years, tenants have been earning less than $10 total over the course of the year, and it needs to be split between them! Does the IRS really care about an extra $5 in income? If so, they should take their heads out of their asses and get some real priorities.

One of our new tenants moved out and was replaced by someone else, so being the conscientious person I am, I went to the bank to switch the names on the account (the new and old tenant handled the transfer of money between themselves, rather than going through the bank). I stupidly thought it would be simple. No, it turns out that the bank morons require me to close the old account and open a whole fucking new account! And worst of all, they couldn't re-use all the old paperwork from when I opened the account less than two months ago - I'd need to get my tenants to fill out the forms AGAIN.

And you know what the kicker is? After finding all of the above out, I asked about just taking the old tenant's name off the current account (I'd asked because for some reason, a previous account like this had only had one tenant's name on it), then I could consider switching the accounts to have the new tenant's name later, after getting the paperwork filled out. Taking one person's name off the account wasn't so bad. But then I find out that the bank is reporting the interest income to the IRS for only ONE of the tenants anyway. What the fuck is the reason to have both tenants' names on the account (along with having submitted their social security numbers, among other info) if you're not even going to report the interest income for both of them? Do you just enjoy wasting my time?

Speaking of time: I spent 45 minutes in the bank today dealing with this shit. When I first opened the account, the workers at the bank didn't know how to open this kind of account, and I had to make multiple trips to the bank. In total, I probably wasted 2 or 3 hours opening the account in the first place, plus there's the time it took to get paperwork etc. from the tenants. So let's call it a nice, round 4 hours worth of people's time. All for ten fucking measly dollars in income, of which the IRS would see AT MOST $3.

Does this make any kind of economic sense? Oh yeah, I forgot, you're the big bad fucking government, you have the power to require infinite work on the part of citizens, no matter how small the pay-off is to the country. Moronic asshat of a bureaucracy.

Hmm, after re-reading this post, it seems to me that I need to work on my cussing skills. Ranting language should be more colorful. :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:21 PM | Comments (1)