Saturday, September 12, 2009

The 9/11 Retrospective

I imagine the American TV market is flooded with far more of these every year than the Norwegian one.  We get our fair share though, mostly on the cable stations--Discovery, History Channel, BBC Knowledge, and the like.

My kids use these channels as bargaining tools.  When I start grousing about how much TV they're watching--"ENOUGH SPONGEBOB ALREADY!  TURN! IT! OFF!"--they'll come back with, "Okay, but if we turn it to Discovery, can we still watch TV?  Huh?  Can we?  Can we?"

Grumble, grumble, grumble.  "Fine!  But no bullshit ghost or U.F.O. documentaries!  Find something about something REAL!"

Can you see where I'm going with this?

They watched 5 minutes of "102 Minutes That Changed America" before I wondered upstairs and realized what they were looking at. 

I just watched some of it on Google videos through that link, and I must say, it's pretty good.  It's all primary source video and voice recordings.  No editorializing.  No overly dramatic music.  No kooky conspiratorial angling.  Just recordings of phone calls, tourist video cameras, cell phone cameras, and news feeds in real time as the events unfold.  Very powerful stuff.

I made them turn it off.  Of course, Emma, who always has to know whywhywhy everything why, asked, "But Mom, what is this?  Why can't we watch this?"

They hadn't seen the airplanes.  They saw a lot of very scared people milling about the streets and lots of smoke billowing out of the buildings, but they didn't see the airplanes.  I really didn't want to explain about the airplanes.  So I told them very basically that this show was about a terrible thing that happened in New York, and a lot of people died that day, and it was awful, and I just didn't think it was a good idea to get into the details of it right now because it's so scary and hard for kids to understand.

They seemed to be alright with this except Daniel, who has this thing for labels, and names, and everything in its place.  He wanted to know what the buildings were called and if they were still on fire.  So I had to add to my condensed history that the Twin Towers, in fact, fell down that day.

And that was it.  They cleaned up their Legos, and went to bed.

But Daniel must have spent the night chewing over these details, because the first thing he asked me when he crawled into bed with me this morning was, "But Mom, how did those Twin Towers fall down?"

So I'm wondering.  How much should they know?  How much of the details of 9/11 are kids in America taught?  Are they told about the airplanes?  The hijackings?  At 7 years old?  At 9 years old?  How much terror is too much at so young an age? 

Friday, September 11, 2009

More By Which To Be Disturbed

Once again this little piece of disturbia comes to us courtesy of EM.  Nothing to do with art this time.  Though, honestly people.  I don't think you all are appreciating the piercing insight of my interpretation!  You call me Freudian?  Me?  When clearly it is her who is struggling under the weight of Freud's leering, subliminal misogyny!  Pfft.  It's not like I'm the one who drew the giant squiggly sperm, and the sad brown uterus now, is it?  This is not Rorschach!  I assure you my psychology has nothing to do with it!


Norway--in case you weren't aware--is gearing up for its national elections in just a few day's time.  I will not bore you with the particulars.  Most of you don't live here, don't care, and thus, don't particularly pertain.  And those of you who do...well, I'm sure you've already formed your own learned opinions.  Far more learned than mine, in fact, since, as a non-citizen, I'm ineligiable to vote, and therefore, incapable of processing enough of the political narrative to interpret and describe it here.  Also--I'm lazy, and the whole multi-party coalition/parlimentary thing baffles me a little. 

There.  I've said it.  For the most part, I just don't get it.  Plus, it turns out that the one party with whom I am most ideologically opposed (as all decent, rationally minded liberals should be) is the one party that speaks any sense at all when it comes to a plan for correcting the sorry state of education in this country.  It seems that FrP (the fuckers) know what it takes to actually educate a child, as opposed to merely socializing one.  Once I figured that out, frankly, I didn't have the stomach to investigate further.

Wait.  Why did I even start down this road?

Oh yeah, EM.

This afternoon we were at the kitchen table talking about this and that--dinner wishes, homework left to be done, plans for the weekend, that sort of thing. 

"So," said I, "We'll have time to finish up this spelling chapter next Monday since you'll be off school, and we'll have extra time for English that day."

"What?" says she, "What do you mean off school?"

"The schools are closed for the election.  You know that."

"Whaaaaa, what?"

"The election, EM.  Norway's nation elections."

"Does that mean Kong Harald won't be king anymore?"

Surely she jests.  And yet, she seems serious enough.  "No!  I mean...obviously...just....No!"

"Mmm.  What does it mean then?"

"You know what an election is.  Don't you?"  I'm not asking, so much as pleading.

"It's when you get new presidents and stuff."

"Right.  Or in Norway's case prime ministers.  Do you know who Norway's prime minister is?"


Wondering if she's been paying any attention to anybody for the past year especially, I ask tentatively, "Do you know who America's president is?"

"Barack Obama!"

"And what does congress do?"

"Make laws!"  Phew, that's my job done.

"So have you ever heard of a parliment?  Or the Storting?"


Anyone else disturbed by this?  I mean, here she is in the 4th grade.  The whole country is in the throes of a nationwide, political debate leading up to national elections next Monday, and she knows NOTHING about how her government works.  NOTHING.  It would seem her teachers have used ZERO class time to use this opportunity to discuss civic awareness.  ZERO.

Do I expect too much?  I swear I knew the basic structure of my government by the time I was in the 4th grade.  Executive, legislative, judiciary.  President, senator, congresscritter.  Surely I knew that much by then.  Didn't I?  At the very least I could tell you the name of the president.  I mentioned "Jens Stoltenberg" to her, and she looked at me like I was spinning sticky webs of misdirection and subterfuge....again.....

Democracy.  Republic.  Periodic popular elections.  Sounds like a pretty decent afternoon lesson to me, but apparently not.  Much too much like real learning.  Although, I can't help but think, that if Americans find the President speaking directly to their children so damn scary, they'd really be better off following the Norwegian model.  Presiwhat?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Art Appreciation: Reproduction Edition

Having decided which of EM's masterpieces we wanted to frame and hang (the faceless head), I was lovingly packing up and storing away the rejects when I was suddenly struck by something I just have to get off my chest.

Brace yourselves.  It's a bit disturbing.

But, seriously, isn't her shape and color assignment positively teeming with blatant sexual imagery?

No obvious phalluses (giant squiggly sperm notwithstanding), but go ahead, count the clams. 

Count 'em I tell ya'!

I get three obvious ones, a uterus--complete with ovaries, a possible fourth candidate in the upper left-hand corner, and a shapely tit in the lower left.  Oh, and let us not forget the large X and Y chromosomes smugly dominating the composition (in leu of the phallus, one supposes).

I mean, I know she didn't mean for any of that to appear the way it does, but isn't it just exactly like she meant for all that to appear just exactly the way it does?

I'm a little concerned that so many of the obvious lady bits are in the shadey corner, surrounded by the ugly colors she was "challenging herself" to use.  That and the menacing sperm make me wonder.  Perhaps it's time for a rather serious Come-to-Venus/Our Bodies, Ourselves kind of chat with her sometime in the very near future.

I know, I know.  I'm going to hell.  But now that I've shown you all (and I just know you all see it too), you're coming with me....

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Assimilation into The Collective complete.
Subjugation of native inhabitants can begin.