Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
November 2, 2017
DEATH PENALTY!
Category: Current Events … Serious

Admittedly, I oppose the death penalty in the vast majority of scenarios we're likely to encounter. I'd support it for the Joker -- dude breaks out of Arkham every other week and murders at least thirty people every time he hits the streets, so killing him would be in the interest of public safety. But insofar as our criminals are contained and aren't continuing to menace the public at large (by, say, running a criminal empire and ordering hits and the like), I don't support killing them. I maintain that killing people who are no longer a threat diminishes us. (And, of course, there's the possibility of condemning innocent people and the reality of disproportionate application of the death penalty along racial lines and all of that jazz.)

In any case, whether one supports the death penalty or not, I hope that most of us could agree that there should be some discussion whenever we seek to apply it -- that we should consider what we hope to achieve by it and whether it upholds or runs counter to our values and aims in particular instances. Might it actually be a deterrent in this case? Will it instead make a martyr of a perpetrator and inspire others of his ilk? Could it deprive us of the opportunity to learn more about the perpetrator? Insofar as we could convince him of the error of his ways, could it deprive us of a potential ally? And so on. In short, whatever one's feelings about the death penalty, it should not be taken lightly.

It should definitely not be the kind of thing a US president demands, in all caps, without qualification or apparent thought.

-posted by Wes | 7:15 pm | Comments (0)
January 20, 2017
Re: Trump’s inaugural address
Category: Current Events … Serious

I actually thought it was okay -- certainly among the least egotistical examples of public speaking ever offered up by the Donald. I bristled a few times (referencing "all talk, no action" politicians seemed ill advised considering he just applied those words to a man who nearly died fighting for civil rights), and I laughed when he promised to "never, ever let [us] down" (dude lets me down every time he spews inanity via Twitter). But my expectations were very low and he did exceed them -- and I was able to sit through the entire speech while sober -- so I give him props for that.

-posted by Wes | 8:51 pm | Comments (0)
June 23, 2016
Friendship is Magic
Category: Miscellany … Serious

Today, as a student and I perused a list of writing prompts in search of an engaging topic, we happened upon one that tasked students with describing how to make a new friend.

"How about that one?" I said. "That looks like a fun prompt."

"I don't have much to write about that," replied the student. "My best friend -- he just came up to me and said, 'Will you be my best friend?' I said, 'Okay!' And we've been best friends for three years."

And I was fascinated by this revelation, because it just seemed so simple -- and because, I guess, that really is how friendship works for children. I think that's even how one of my most enduring childhood friendships started; we met in the 2nd grade and remained close until our sophomore year of high school, when he matter-of-factly informed me that we could no longer be friends because he needed to be with "his own kind." (He was Korean American. I am not.)

I smiled at my student and said, "Huh! Maybe I should try that."

But then it dawned on me that I *had* actually tried that -- and in the past few days, no less. When I asked if that person wanted to be friends, the answer was an unequivocal "no." (The explanation -- which I didn't ask for -- was this: "You and I are just so different.")

My student smiled back and said, "It couldn't hurt."

-posted by Wes | 1:00 am | Comments (0)
June 5, 2016
My weekend and stuff
Category: Miscellany … Serious … Travels

So I get that everyone has pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and that staying positive (at least according to general wisdom) means appreciating the good ones while mostly ignoring the bad ones... but I think it's kind of interesting that my negative experiences are frequently bizarre or memorable -- or costly -- enough that I'm inclined to comment on them to the exclusion of the more uplifting ones. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 9:19 pm | Comments (0)
April 17, 2016
A Prosaic Proposal
Category: Current Events … Serious

At the high school where I teach an SAT prep course, there's been some controversy over a student essay. Apparently, after reading and analyzing Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," students were assigned to write their own satiric piece -- and one student wrote a piece about racism that a number of students found highly offensive. (Some of those upset students are in my class; before Wednesday's session began, I read the essay and we chatted about it briefly.) (more...)

-posted by Wes | 5:44 pm | Comments (0)
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