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Sunday, October 28, 2012

October News View - Divorce, Killers, & Good Parents

Jessica Ridgeway's killer was the product of divorce. I find that significant and a little scary. My kids are products of divorce. However, their mother is completely out of the picture and hasn't had any contact with us for over 2 years. There is no constant battling over custody or child support or anything else. My ex had the decency to just go away and let us get on with our lives. That makes a huge difference.

Divorces used to be much harder to get. When kids are involved, divorces should still be hard to get. It's complicated when abuse is factored in, but when that's not an issue my opinion is that whoever files for divorce should have to just walk away - no custody, no alimony, no property settlement. Nothing. You want a divorce? Fine. Just go. The kids will still suffer but at least they won't be shuttled back and forth for visits with a non-custodial parent. They won't become pawns in a power struggle between bitter ex-es. Etc.

Marriage is a big deal. It should be treated like a big deal. It's not the same thing as "going out" or "going steady" or "dating."

I never thought my ex-wife was a model of anything particularly good, but I have to give her credit. For whatever reason she decided to do it, when she left she just left. She is at least a model of what anyone who wants a divorce should be willing to do.

Not sure what caused two boys to kill Autumn Pasquale, but I commend their mother for turning them in. We need more mothers like Mrs. Saunders who figured out that her two sons were murderers because she actually checked their Facebook pages. Go figure. Mrs. Saunders deserves a parenting award.

Interestingly, I found myself slightly unsympathetic with the mother of two toddlers who were apparently killed by their nanny in NYC. I know. I'm a horrible person. But, I just have a very hard time working up a tear for someone who posts something like this in their family blog about a trip to visit their nanny's family:
"We met Josie's amazing familia!!! And the Dominican Republic is a wonderful country!!," she wrote.
Seriously? "Familia?" And, lay off the damn exclamation points. Not only can you afford a nanny, you can fly to the Dominican Republic to meet her family? How nice for you.

It's not totally my fault. The article included a bunch of ancillary details which make the mother out to be a rich bitch. For starters, the fact that this family has a nanny. Also that they live in an apartment near Central Park which presumably rents for around $10,000 per month. (I guess that's affordable for a general manager at CNBC. For me, $10k is damn near 12 months worth of mortgage payments.) Evidently the mom here spent her days writing a couple of blogs (one family, one cooking) and teaching art classes. Perhaps she wouldn't have needed a nanny if she spent her time being a mom. . . I know. I already admitted that I'm a horrible person.

I feel a little guilty about feeling this way. Still, it's the way I do feel. I would not say I hate rich people. But, they are simply not sympathetic characters. Say what you will about wealth bringing its own problems or money not being everything or whatever. Wah. First world problems. The fact is being rich makes life a lot easier. Rich people may still be people with feelings and emotions, but when bad stuff happens to them it's pretty easy to assume that they'll figure out some way to deal with it.

On a completely unrelated note, there's this story from Memphis - armpit of Middle America. I'm never surprised to read that something stupid, horrible, or criminal has happened in Memphis, but this one did jump out at me if only because it's an extreme example of what I've seen elsewhere. Is it any wonder our schools produce illiterate students who can't speak standard English when schools hire illiterate teachers?
Here's a story about a "teacher" (or someone being paid as a teacher) in trouble over FB posts. Nothing sexy. Just some ranting about kids in her class and their parents. Now, I want to go on record saying that I tend to agree with her views - to some extent. She goes a bit over the top when she starts talking about shooting people. But, that's not where I have a problem. What I have a problem with is - well - here, read it for yourself:

 "If another parent tell [sic] me it's my job to teach their children, it's gonna be po po time."

Or, "They didn't bother nobody else when I got through with them."

If you don't see the problem here, just stop reading now. You're not going to appreciate anything else I have to say. Call me what you will. I don't want anybody teaching my kids who uses the term "po po" in conversation. I realize this is a FB post. I don't care. If this is how you speak and write in your personal life, this is probably how you speak and write in the classroom. If that's how you speak and write in the classroom, you have no business being in a classroom because you are, for all intents and purposes, illiterate.

It may get worse. Here's a quote from a Memphis city school commissioner addressing the teacher's comments:

"Every major employer will tell you on the front end now, ‘We checking your Facebook page. We know what you're saying on Twitter,'" said Whalum.

I'm going to allow for the possibility that he was inaccurately quoted or that "We checking. . . " was just a typo where the "'re" was omitted. I suspect otherwise, though.

Don't jump to the hairbrained conclusion that I'm just making thinly veiled racist remarks. The principal at my kids' school says "skedoo" for "schedule" and I think he is also a complete dumbass who shouldn't be in a classroom (though he does seem to be an effective principal). He's as white as can be. This isn't about race or culture. It's about making sure teachers can speak and write properly. That's something that can be done fairly cheaply and without a lot of high-tech digital gadgetry.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Are Taylor Swift and John Mellencamp Related?

I know this is a bizarre-sounding question, but is there a possibility that Taylor Swift (my celebrity crush) and John "Johnny Cougar" Mellencamp (one of my favorite singers) could be distant relatives?

My Apologies to John Who Probably Hates this Picture

Here's how this even came up:

I was curious to know whether Taylor was really a sweet little down-home country girl or if she might possibly be a little hard to deal with on a personal level. I have not only heard that the latter was true but I have surmised it based on the trail of high-profile ex-boyfriends she has created by the tender age of 22. So, I looked her up on Wikipedia.

Sure enough, while Taylor lived on a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania for a while, both of her parents were executives in the financial world. She summered at a vacation home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey and spent a good bit of her childhood riding horses.  English style. That's the kind where you wear a helmet and funny pants - not jeans and boots and a cowboy hat. Hardly the life of a Tennessee country girl.

What's more, her mother was raised at least partly in Singapore and her mom's father was an oil company petroleum engineer who worked overseas. (That means he made a boatload of money, in case you didn't know that.) Mr. Swift, Taylor's dad, comes from a long line of bank presidents (three generations' worth, to be precise). The Swifts are not your average American working class family and never were. Not that any of that matters. I still think she's totally gorgeous, but I was curious.

Anyway, among the tidbits I found on her extensive Wikipedia page was this: One of Swift's earliest musical memories is listening to her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay (née Moehlenkamp), sing.[8]

Did you catch that? Taylor Swift's grandma's last name was "Moehlenkamp."

Now, I'm no expert - and it's a little hard to tell where Granny is from (she was an opera star in Singapore and a recording star in Puerto Rico) - but Moehlenkamp and Mellencamp look awfully similar to me. They also sound very similar if you say them out loud.

Just made me wonder if there's a family connection somewhere back in history.