Friday, September 30, 2016

High School Clubs Show Diversity Of ...Well, Everything!

High school is going well for the daughter. She transitioned from a small parochial school with 200 students to a large urban high school with 1,700 students.

So much excitement with so many different people around!

The school has strong academics and all the things I expect a high school should have. I have not really thought deeply about high school since I attended one. So Rip Van Winkle awakes to find a myriad of activities and clubs organized through the school. Here is a list of the 78 clubs:

  • American Red Cross Club
  • Environmental Service Projects
  • GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance)
  • Music for the Ages (student musicians play music at nursing homes)
  • Hope For Homeless Club
  • SAFER (Students Active For Ending Rape)
  • Camions of Care (dedicated to helping women globally with their menstrual cycles)
  • Polish Student Union
  • National Art Honors Society
  • Lincoln Volunteer Musicians
  • Peer Mediation and Counseling
  • Pacific Islander Student Union
  • International Studies Center (ISC)
  • Key Club (community service)
  • Helping those with Age-related Neurological Disorders (HAND)
  • Dear Hero (writing letters to those in the military)
  • Interact (community service tied to Rotary Club)
  • Black Student Union
  • Project Dot (Promoting healthy menstruation to help young women feel confident in their natural bodies)
  • Children's Cancer Association Club
  • Jewish Student Union
  • MEChA (National Latino student leadership)
  • Brothers of Color
  • Feminist Club
  • Knitting Club!
  • Give Back Club (empowering youth through promoting the importance of community service)
  • Sisters of Color
  • South Asian Student Union
  • Feed The Homeless Club
  • Asian Student Union
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • Dyslexic student union
  • Future Business Leaders of America
  • Model United Nations
  • Clarinet Club
  • The Diversity Book Club
  • Mandarin Tutoring Club
  • Lincoln Chess Club
  • Writing Workshop Club
  • Current Events Club
  • Math Club
  • History Bowl
  • Lincoln High School Mock Trial Team
  • Lincoln Science Bowl Club
  • Spanish Tutoring Club
  • Investment Club
  • Art Exploration
  • Comedy Club
  • Coding Club
  • Oregon Battle of the Books
  • Disney Club
  • Game of Thrones/ASOIAF Club
  • Vaporwave + (Vapor wave is a type of music)
  • Harry Potter Club
  • Improv
  • Comedy Club
  • Astronomy Club
  • Asian Culture Club
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Architecture Club
  • Arabic Club
  • Yoga Club
  • Drama Club
  • Dance Party Club
  • Fantasy Sports Club
  • Bowling Club
  • Zines for Social Justice
  • Music Appreciation Club
  • Film Club
  • Streetwear/Screenprinting Club
  • Club Med (exposing students to various medical fields)
  • Meals with Mates
  • robot FIGHT CLUB
  • Racquetball Team
  • Christian Students United
  • Laughter Therapy
  • Vivace (Capella group
  • Anime and Manga Club


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kids Take Keen Interest In Debates

We went to a restaurant to make debate viewing more of an event -- nothing says stirring political discourse like burgers and fries.

We first went to a movie theater that served food, showing up almost an hour before the debate was to be aired, only to find there were no seats available.

One of the kids was quiet upset, worrying that without his viewing the debate and his positive energies flowing towards Hillary, a know-nothing, incompetent, misogynistic, xenophobe with a fourth grade vocabulary would win the White House.

We found a restaurant that had a large screen TV and settled in for the debates. Trump's weird way of implying everything, but saying very little was on full display. Always fun to watch with a room full of fellow travelers.

One man passed out "Debate Bingo" cards, pictured below:

I get the joke, but feel there is only one joke candidate running. I was happy to see Secretary Clinton pressing Trump's buttons on issues that have already been fact-checked and verified, such as Trump's support for the Iraq war and his questioning of Obama's birthplace.

I was particularly glad Hillary was well-prepared and patient with all of Trump's outbursts and interruptions -- a strong contrast to Trump's bluster and buffoonery -- showing her to be a forbearing and intelligent orator.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Daughter Cooks Her Own Breakfast

This past Sunday the Daughter successfully cooked the filling and tasty breakfast pictured above.

The base layer was comprised of mashed potato and cheddar cheese, topped with eggs and double smoked sausage.

Enough of this mincing cuisine of fruit and a few spare kernels of granola! the children cry. Now you really have the breakfast of champions.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Naked Baby On Deck And Other Ideas About Parenting

The serious amateurs enjoying a bath circa 2008.

I often give a high level of detail on this blog, saying such information is for academics and serious amateurs. The serious amateurs would be my kids, who troll these pages looking for insights as to why I'm such a nutcase.

Although I can't answer that question outright, I can continue to provide information about the evolution of my thinking that could, under the correct lens of interpretation, shed light on my bizarre nature.

When my wife and I first started with the kid project back in 2002, we were confident we would do everything right. We read books, consulted with grandmothers and other experts, rejected all opinions we disagreed with, and basically did everything wrong. Our kids survived, somehow.

One concept that did resonate was that good parents were supposed to bathe their kids every few weeks or so. So when bath time did arrive it was an exciting event for everyone involved. The first step in the process was freeing the nippers from clothing and diapers, which resulted in the kids running around screaming joyfully.

To alert the command structure of the critical situation, the parent supervising the fracas would yell, Naked baby on deck! This way the other parent knew there were free-range, diaper-free kids running about and could help monitor the time. We had learned the hard way what happens when anything less than a strict, pseudo-military protocol was in place.

This notion that martial language and posturing would somehow elevate our parenting to a higher form of efficiency and quality was ingrained in my psyche, perhaps because I came of age during the Cold War, where dramatic security scenarios were illustrated in schools and popular entertainment.  

Another example, when a child would soil her/himself so completely an entire change of clothes was necessary, this was called a Brezhnev, named for the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev. My image of the hard-line, unyielding Communist embodied the thought that with this situation there was no negotiation, mediation, room for maneuver, or even discussion -- get the kid a complete change of clothes pronto.

Nowadays the panic and stress of the early years has given way to a simmering dread that even with the right philosophy and execution the kids will do whatever the hell they want, so why bother?

Still, old habits die hard. Nowadays before I go for a walk I might wear a hat with a political organization on it. On patrol! I yell to the house, alerting them I am now going out to engage the world in a political manner. Once on my walk, however, I become lost in thought and can't remember what is on my head anyway. For the record, I have not received one comment about my politics or hat while "on patrol." Still, when I return home I inform the house I am off patrol.

I leave it others to diagnose my condition. Until then, the command structure abides.



Monday, September 12, 2016

Dragon Boat Festival

One of the great pleasures of urban living is that when one takes a walk around the city one is bound to stumble on fun spectacle.

That indeed happened when I took a walk Sunday to stretch my legs and came upon the Portland Dragon Boat Festival. Certainly more dragon boats racing than one could shake a stick at, that is if one was inclined to indicate enthusiasm or interest with the ol' stick shake.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Good Comedy Not Restrained By Language

Pictured above is Chu Ke-liang, a comic I came to appreciate when I lived in Taiwan from 1989-1994.

Chu seemed to be on the television every time I turned it on, on toothpaste commercials, talk shows, sit-coms -- his trademark goofy haircut and overacting making a lasting impression. A friend from Taiwan recently sent me a picture, asking me if I remember -- how could I forget?

Most of the time Chu spoke Taiwanese, a dialect unknown to me. But even when he spoke Mandarin I rarely understood what he was saying. Still, the physical comedy he employed, his overblown expressions, his dorky costumes, were the language of universal comedy.

My friends told me that many found him crude with over-the-top sexual references, as well as personal scandals dimming his star.

I looked around the internet for a video of his schtick. I didn't find a concise comedy one, but the one below is decent quality and shows him signing a comic Taiwanese song.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Columbia Gorge Big Ticket Item Of Fun

The above is a view of the Columbia River from the Mosier Tunnels bike trail. I probably ride the trail 20 times a year and would do it more if time allowed -- there is no limit to the beauty one can absorb.

A Binary is a Wonderful Thing to Break: New Study Rejects the Idea of "Male" and "Female" Brains

The Daughter is intent on expanding our family's understanding of a variety of gender issues. This is an excellent article by Rebecca Koon, published Sept. 2016 in Bitch Media.

We explored this topic—in part—because a Bitch reader asked us to look into it. Got a question about feminism and pop culture that you want answered, too? Tell us

I have a good friend with whom I often talk about politics and culture. He’s a lovely, kind person with a deep commitment to social justice and an unfortunate tendency to mansplain. He knows this, and is trying to work on it, so we developed a sort of code. Whenever he starts mansplaining, I just say, “Ow! My ladybrain!” It’s good-natured ribbing that gets the point across, but it also winkingly refers to ingrained cultural notions of the differences between male and female brains, notions that have been used to justify the subjugation of women.

Whether the brains of men and women actually vary in form and function is a hotly debated question in psychology and neuroscience. Cultural discussion of gender and brains tends toward a reductive, binary view of neurobiology: Men are more aggressive and sex-focused, and their brains tend toward building systems; women are more emotional and communicative, and they tend toward empathy. Pop culture is rife with this men/women-are-just-soooooo-alien-how-can-I-possibly-understand-them-without-help idea. It is the basis for many stale stand-up routines and films, of course, and for a litany of books about relationships. John Gray’s 1992 Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is perhaps the best-known example and is now fully embedded in the cultural lexicon (thoroughly unpacking the problems with this book and its legacy is a heroic endeavor that I don’t have room for here).

But a quick search reveals a glut of more recent examples of (super heterocentric) relationship advice books that draw on the same kinds of ideas, including Gregg Michaelsen’s To Date a Man, You Must Understand a Man, which features a cover illustration of a person in profile with a maze where their brain would be, Understanding Men: Know How Men Really Think by James Kingsley and Stefanie Maria Rhoden, and, my personal favorites—and yes, these are real—the books by husband and wife team Barbara and Allan Pease: Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, Why Men Don’t Have a Clue and Women Always Need More Shoes!, and Why Men Want Sex and Women Need Love (groan, double groan, triple groan). All of these books rely on a foundation of biological essentialism—the idea that men and women are fundamentally different because of innate, immutable qualities, including the anatomy of their brains. These ideas spill over into many aspects of our lives—remember when the former president of Harvard University said science and math fields are male-dominated in part because of genetic differences between men and women?

If your feminist alarm bells are ringing, that’s good. The science of whether sex determines anything about brain structure and function is actually far more complicated than the simplistic view put forth by, say, Louann Brizendine, author of the books The Female Brain (2006) and The Male Brain (2010), both of which were packed with messy, often unsupported assertions and inferences. As Harvard molecular and cellular biology professor Catherine Dulac explained to Scientific American last year, “[I]t is assumed that the male and the female brains are very different because male and female behaviors differ so significantly. But over the last few decades, neuroscientists have been looking for major anatomical differences and did not find that many.”

A buzzed-about recent study, titled “Sex Beyond the Genitalia: The Human Brain Mosaic,” helps debunk the notion that there are distinct male and female brains. The 2015 study shows that brains cannot be categorized as male or female based on their structure. Instead, we should see brains as a big, heterogeneous group, and each brain as a “mosaic” that may have any combination of characteristics. Our brains are one more place where gender is best seen as a spectrum—not a cut-and-dry binary. “[M]ost brains are comprised of unique ‘mosaics’ of features, some more common in females compared with males, some more common in males compared with females, and some common in both females and males,” notes the study’s designer Daphna Joel, a professor in the school of Psychological Sciences at Tel-Aviv University.

Undermining the commonly held belief that males and females have different brains is important because sex differences between brains has been used as a justification for social differences and inequalities. There’s a long tradition of biological research being used to justify racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, and a very long list of other forms of oppressive social organization. When biology and social differences are linked, those social differences are often thought to be biologically determined. For instance, the 18th-century practice of phrenology used measurements and classification of human skulls to “prove” the superiority of Caucasians. Later, the fact that women tend to have smaller brains than men would be used as a reason to prevent them from attending college and arguing (as late as 2006!) that women are just not as smart as men because we have smaller brains. Biological determinism is a slippery slope that starts with observations of differences between people and slides into a belief that the ways society is structured around those differences are normal, natural, and inevitable. It also tends to lead to a fatalistic view: This is just the way things are.

The mosaic-brain theory pushes against these ideas. It says that there are differences between brain structures, sure, but it would be more accurate and useful to think of all brains as part of one group that displays a wide variety of anatomical characteristics. The conclusion often drawn from previous neuroscientific research was that differences between groups of male and female brains were greater than differences within those groups. The mosaic brain study argues that all human brains exist on a spectrum and even suggests that sex should not be used as a variable in scientific studies of the brain because “comparing brains of females to brains of males would be analogous to comparing two samples randomly drawn from a single population of brains.”

Of course, not everyone agrees with this conclusion. Other researchers and folks in the field published responses to the study that challenged its methods, premises, and conclusions. One common critique was that the study focused on brain anatomy rather than brain function and therefore could not detect sex-based differences in how brains actually work. Another critic was troubled by the idea that in order for a brain to be classified as “male” or “female” according to Joel et al.’s definition, it would have to be entirely so and could not display any characteristics of the other classification, which the critic thought unreasonable.

As a response to these critiques, Joel published a follow-up opinion piece coauthored with Anne Fausto-Sterling, a biologist and professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry at Brown University who is known for her work challenging binary understandings of biological sex. Joel and Fausto-Sterling clarify the goals and outcomes of the research: They are not denying that differences between brains exist, they are just challenging the accuracy and utility of funneling those differences into two sex-based categories.

This study, unsurprisingly, in a culture that is deeply invested in binaristic views of sex and gender, is not without its detractors, and some of them seem to raise valid critiques of the science. Ultimately, though, the study seems like a step in a good direction. Research that flies in the face of biological determinism and moves toward dismantling the sex and gender binaries can only be a good thing, even when it’s flawed.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

This Is What A Sixth-grader Looks Like

Here at Portdaddia World Headquarters we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and tradition. Unfortunately this pride is misplaced at the moment, for I didn't get around to posting the picture of the kid before the first day of sixth grade until today.

The most significant challenge for the kid has been getting used to the combination lock, which has not undergone a design change in 50 years. This is actually a good thing, because I then can actually contribute something from my own childhood that has some relevance.

Other parenting news, these are the courses the daughter is taking in ninth grade high school:

The only thing remotely shocking about the schedule is that a white man is teaching the Ethnic Studies class.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Daughter Cuts Classes For Protest At City Hall

Some of the kid's classmates getting political at City Hall.
This morning the kid sent us a text that she was marching in protest. Soon after we received this email:

Hello Lincoln Families,

Today at 9am our student body participated in a walk out that has led many students in a march to City Hall.  The administration in no way condoned this walk out and this is not supported by Lincoln High School.  Currently there are staff members monitoring student behavior down at City Hall to make sure they are safe and making good decisions.  As more information comes in, we will keep families informed.


Lincoln High School

This is what the protest was about according to Oregon Live:

As promised during a spirited appearance at Tuesday's Portland Public Schools board meeting, students from Lincoln High walked out of class Wednesday to protest plans to push a vote on a $750 million construction bond until May.

Hundreds walked out of class about 9 a.m. and marched toward Pioneer Courthouse Square, with chants including "PPS is a mess" and "pass that bond." Later, the marchers gathered in front of Portland City Hall and spoke with Mayor Charlie Hales' chief of staff, Tera Pierce.

Their goal? Persuading board members to hold a special meeting by Thursday, the deadline to place measures on the November ballot, and reverse course.

"Personally, I didn't want this to happen," Michael Ioffe, the protest's lead organizer, said Wednesday. "It came to this because the district wouldn't even suggest another community session to discuss the issue."

By 11 a.m., the protesters, accompanied and monitored by teachers and principal Peyton Chapman, had largely agreed to return to class.

Eager to hear about the experience from the kid.