Friday, August 24, 2007

Miscellany, Friday edition

Mellow and slow day today, mostly spent walking about and talking to friends. Hamburg was nice, but it's also nice to be back in the big small-town of Stuttgart. I noticed something today that I hadn't spotted when I was in Hamburg: there are far fewer garbage cans on the streetcorners here, yet the streets are much cleaner. I wonder why?

In the absence of anything earth-shaking to report, permit me to direct your attention to Mir, who has moved from New England to Georgia and learned a thing or two about the American school system:
There was FIFTEEN MINUTES of an hour-long presentation devoted to why it’s important to have our kids read every day. One quarter of the allotted time. And they did a nice job with the presentation, but I cannot adequately explain how saddened I was, first, that there would be a need to go into such detail and passionated exhortations about this, because we are all readers here and in my happy little bubble of nerddom I can barely comprehend people NOT wanting to read, and second, as I realized that the parents who really needed that pep talk probably weren’t even present.

In this town, in this school, the “rich” sit in class next to kids from the projects, and the school motto this year is “If you miss school you miss out” because attendance rates are abysmal for the kids living in poverty. My bleeding liberal heart hurts when I consider that; the kids who are impoverished can get two free meals a day at school (even if nothing else), and yet they are often absent because—why? Because their parents don’t care? Because their parents are working too many jobs to be home and get them on the bus? Because they’re taking care of siblings? Chances are if they’re missing school they’re not eating, either. My mind boggles. I have taken so much for granted.
Indeed. Go read.

A recent post of Dale's reminded me of a favourite quote from George Orwell:
In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that "non-attachment" is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings. If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for "non-attachment" is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work. But it is not necessary here to argue whether the other-worldly or the humanistic ideal is "higher". The point is that they are incompatible. One must choose between God and Man, and all "radicals" and "progressives," from the mildest Liberal to the most extreme Anarchist, have in effect chosen Man.
Indeed. Go read.

Today's Friday Favourite will be one of the last, because a proposed change in German law would make my distributing such things a criminal offence (whereas it was previously "only" a civil-law matter) and I'm not prepared to risk jail to broaden your minds. (Not that your mind needs broadening, I was referring to the others.) Here's a mellow song for a calm and reflective Friday evening, from 1975.

Shabbat shalom, my dears. Enjoy the weekend.

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Blogger Jean said...

That was an absolutely perfect song for a tired, damp Friday evening! So sorry there may not be a lot more.

word verification: hmmim
I'mm hmmim along...

August 24, 2007 at 7:04:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

I was too afraid to click on the song.

I love how you Shabbat shalom us! Shabbat shalom gam lecha, dahling.

August 24, 2007 at 8:08:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Savtadotty said...

A very relaxing song...I'd never heard it before. Shabbat Shalom yourself.

August 24, 2007 at 9:52:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

I'm glad that you liked the song (Lioness: be brave!)

I'm not sure when or why I began saying "shabbat shalom" (yes, I could google it but that would require expending energy and thought). It just seems a good and proper thing to say on a Friday evening, a way to mark a point in the day and the week that is quite special regardless of religious belief (or not).

August 24, 2007 at 11:52:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Pacian said...

I think I just took a musical chill pill.

August 25, 2007 at 12:04:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

All right, I listened to it. It's mellow indeed and it has lyrics! Full bonus.

"Shabbat shalom" means peaceful Shabbat, and you have it exactly right, it's supposed to be the time to breathe after the week is over. That's how I see it anyway.

August 25, 2007 at 8:55:00 p.m. GMT+2  

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