Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Supreme Court in Denial?

I hope there might be an opportunity for a case to come before the Supreme Court to revisit one of its now longstanding decisions that I would like to see over turned.

In 1996 the New York Court of Appeals ruled on Griffin v. Coughlin (NY CtApp, No 73), a case involving twelve-step programs. As a precondition to his continued participation in a family reunion program, David Griffin had been required to participate in a substance abuse program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which makes references to "God" and a "Higher Power." He claimed that the requirement to participate in such a program violated his right to practice atheism under the First Amendment. The court ruled that the prison could not compel an inmate to attend a substance abuse program in which references to "God" and a "Higher Power" were made. The court concluded that the program violated the Establishment clause of the Constitution and "the state has exercised coercive power to advance religion by denying benefits of eligibility for the family reunion problem to atheist and agnostic inmates who object and refuse to participate in religious activity."

The dissenters thought that, although the twelve-step program may be perceived as:

somewhat religious, [it] remains overwhelmingly secular in philosophy, objective, and operation.… The inmate was not compelled to participate in the … program. He voluntarily chose the course of action that placed his agnosticism and nonbeliefs at risk because he wished to receive something he is not unqualifiably entitled to from the state.

The Court may be interpreting "religion" to broadly. The AA notion of a "higher power of your understanding" is really not a religious notion. Many atheists participate in AA because the concept in the 12 Steps of a "Higher Power" isn't religious, it is psychological - namely a cognitive way to repair a malfunctioning superego. AA itself refers to Higher Power as "however you understand it". Some suggest it is simply the notion of "Good Orderly Direction". As a result of this decision, probation officers can "suggest" attendance at meetings but cannot violate a parolee for non attendance.

Given the overwhelming connection between substance abuse and crime, hampering criminal justice efforts to support rehabilitation through mandatory 12 Step Programs in the name of separation of church and state while we mandate that our currency say "In God We Trust" seems counter productive societally - a case of slicing the baloney a little too thin.

The point is that when a Group Of Drunks share, miracles, however you define the term, happen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's Up With the Way Less Than Adequate Time/Memory Connection?

"Almost every hour I spend with my children is burned through like money by a man on a spree. The sum total of my clear memories of them - of their unintended aphorisms, gnomic jokes, and the plain sad truths they have expressed about the world; of incidents of precociousness, Gothic madness, sleepwalking, mythomania, and vomiting; of the way light has struck their hair or eyelashes on vanished afternoons; of the stupefying tedium of games we have played on rainy Sundays; of highlights and horrors from their encyclopedic history of odorousness; of the 297,000 minor kvetchings and heart felt pleas i have responded to over the past eleven years with fury, tenderness, utter lack of interest, or a heartless and automatic compassion - those memories, when combined with the sum total of photographs, that we have managed to take, probably add up, in all four of my children, to under 1 percent of everything that we have undergone, lived through, and taken pleasure in together." -- Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon is a Pulitzer prize winning author (Wonder Boys, A Model World, Gentlemen of the Road, the screenlay for Spiderman 2, Manhood For Amateurs, among others) and a father of four who lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, author Ayelet Waldman.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's Up With Men?

"This is an essential element of the business of being a man: to flood everyone around you in a great radiant arc of bullshit, one whose source and object of greatest intensity is yourself. To behave as if you have everything firmly under control even when you have just sailed your boat over the falls." -- MICHAEL CHABON

Michael Chabon is a Pulitzer prize winning author (Wonder Boys, A Model World, Gentlemen of the Road, the screenlay for Spiderman 2, Manhood For Amateurs, among others) and a father of four who lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, author Ayelet Waldman.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Prayer For My Daughter by Tina Fey

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


-Bossypants, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Letting Grow.

A hat tip to the unsophisticated who more often than not get it right...

Letting Grow…
Letting Grow is allowing others to have a bad experience so that they can learn from it.
Letting Grow is refraining from negative comments even when I see a mistake being made.
Letting Grow is listening more than reacting.
Letting Grow is withholding my advice and opinions.
Letting Grow is permitting the other person to identify his own problems.
Letting Grow is giving the other person the dignity of finding his own solutions.
Letting Grow is refusing to be someone else’s safety net so they will learn to weave their own.
Letting Grow is choosing not to manipulate the outcome for someone else.
Letting Grow is refusing to be drawn into another’s problem by anger, guilt, manipulation or any other ruse.
Letting Grow is allowing the other person to have some discomfort.
Letting Grow is learning new skills and vocabulary, to be practiced again and again.
Letting Grow is a loving decision, to be made thousands of times over.
Letting Grow will never be finished.
- Fran M.

Monday, April 4, 2011


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