Tuesday, December 31, 2002

this is me

No big surprises here, courtesy of Human Metrics:

Your Type is INTP Introverted: 89 percent; Intuitive: 67 percent; Thinking: 22 percent; Perceiving: 56 percent

"Of the four aspects of strategic analysis and definition it is the structural engineering role -- architechtonics -- that reaches the highest development in INTPs, and it is for this reason they are aptly called the 'architects.' Their major interest is in figuring out structure, build, configuration -- the spatiality of things.

"As the engineering capabilities the INTPs increase so does their desire to let others know about whatever has come of their engineering efforts. So they tend to take up an informative role in their social exchanges. On the other hand they have less and less desire, if they ever had any, to direct the activities of others. Only when forced to by circumstance do they allow themselves to take charge of activities, and they exit the role as soon as they can without injuring the enterprise.

"The INTPs' distant goal is always to rearrange the environment somehow, to shape, to construct, to devise, whether it be buildings, institutions, enterprises, or theories. They look upon the world -- natural and civil -- as little more than raw material to be reshaped according to their design, as a formless stone for their hammer and chisel. Ayn Rand, master of the Rational character, describes this characteristic in the architect Howard Roark, her protagonist in 'The Fountainhead':
"He was looking at the granite. He did not laugh as his eyes stopped in awareness of the earth around him. His face was like a law of nature -- a thing one could not question, alter or implore. It had high cheekbones over gaunt, hollow cheeks; gray eyes, cold and steady; a contemptuous mouth, shut tight, the mouth of an executioner or a saint. He looked at the granite. To be cut, he thought, and made into walls. He looked at a tree. To be split and made into rafters. He looked at a streak of rust on the stone and thought of iron ore under the ground. To be melted and to emerge as girders against the sky. These rocks, he thought, are here for me; waiting for the drill, the dynamite and my voice; waiting to be split, ripped, pounded, reborn, waiting for the shape my hands will give to them. ['The Fountainhead,' pp 15-16]
"Many regard this attitude as arrogant, and INTPs are likely, especially in their later years, after finding out that most others are faking an understanding of the laws of nature, to think of themselves as the prime movers who must pit themselves against nature and society in an endless struggle to define ends clearly and adopt whatever means that promise success. If this is arrogance, then at least it is not vanity, and without question it has driven the design engineers to take the lead in molding the structure of civilization."

Saturday, December 28, 2002

foster son update

"It is a fearful thing to see yourself as you really are."
-- Dorothy L. Sayers

I got an update Friday night on Isaac and his home situation. As some of you already know, my foster son returned to his parents back in mid-October. About a month ago, his mother realized that taking care of children is beyond her ability, and left. She moved out on her kids and her husband, and moved in with her boyfriend.

The Iowa Division of Youth and Family Services so far has left Isaac and his younger sister in his father's care. Their father is now suing in family court for full custody of the kids, and has the backing of the state, which considers the mother to be dangerously unfit for parenthood. It's likely the father is going to get that custody, and even more likely that the state is not going to be intervening in the situation in the foreseeable future.

Isaac and his sister are in regular day care so they're in a nurturing and stimulating environment, their mother is removed from the situation so she can't harm them any more, and their father -- about 30 years old -- is starting to grow up and take responsibility for his kids. From what I'm told, he is determined not to be an absent father, and is doing his best to make sure the kids are taken care of properly.

I'm also told he's developing a solid connection with his son.

This is a good thing. Kids should be with their biological parents, and the whole reason we got into the foster care situation was so that we could help Isaac overcome the neglect he had suffered so he could have a good relationship with his parents. That's now happening, so the status should be "mission accomplished."

Clearly, that's why I spent about 10 minutes Friday night crying my eyes out. We did our job.

I'm feeling a little empty by the whole thing because I gave my all to Isaac while he was here. When he arrived here last February he could barely stand, let alone walk; he couldn't eat on his own; he couldn't talk, dress himself, control himself, play, or stand or sit still for five seconds. He had no idea how to love or to be loved, and was a poster child for reactive attachment disorder. By the time he went back home nine months later, that had all changed. Craig's got a connection with his son -- because I taught Isaac how to love and how to receive somebody else's love. I poured my sweat into him, and now I've got nothing while the man who was content to ignore his son for two years is reaping the rewards.

Notice the theme here? It's all about me. After all, what else matters in the world? Not Isaac's happiness; clearly, he has to be happy with me, or he's not allowed to be happy at all.

You would think after nine months of caring for somebody else's developmentally delayed child that I would be capable of thinking about other people. Instead, I find myself going through the same thought patterns that Isaac's birth parents were going through before and just after he was removed. Gyiah. Somtimes I make myself sick.

DON'T tell me I'm being too hard on myself. I'm well aware of what I did for Isaac and that it has a lasting, eternal value, but I need to be willing to let him go. He's not my son, he never was my son, and I need to be willing to let the relationship develop into its next stage. Right now that's void -- his parents decided some time that they wanted nothing to do with us once he returned to us -- but I'm hopeful that will change. I plan to contact Isaac's father and offer our support in whatever way he needs, as well as offering babysitting and play dates so Evangeline can see him and vice versa. We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, I need prayer. My attitude's been far from Christlike in this matter, and that's no good for anyone.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

damn moderates

Why does no one fret about the vast middle-of-the-road conspiracy?

Moderates are the worst of the lot, you know. They're so lukewarm they can't stand either hot or cold; lacking conviction of their own, they seek to crush anyone who feels passionate about a cause because they cannot tolerate anything they don't understand.

Sad thing is, I think there's a lot of truth to that. Some ages are very polarized and moderation is considered a danger by both sides. In a lukewarm age, where passions are cool, the constant warning is against the threat of going to one extreme or another.

And of course, in an age like ours, where no one believes anything -- or at least very strongly -- the voice of an extremist becomes a rallying call for all who feel even moderately disaffected with the blaise culture of the day. Alas, our own temperance breeds the bin Ladens of the world.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002


As a nice bonus for me, now that mommy has to spend time with Rachel, Evangeline has decided that daddy is pretty cool too. We spent about an hour Sunday evening making snowmen in the front yard. (We're the only house on the block with them.) First we made Frosty, then we made Evangeline, then we made Isaac, then we made a second Frosty, and then we made Rachel twice. I haven't had so much fun in ages.

Monday, December 09, 2002

putting it to bed

Back in college, we had a printer put The Lafayette to bed for us, though the paper eventually transitioned to PageMaker after I had left the editorial staff. I'm sure it proved an immense time saver. When I was on staff, the system was to have the printers typeset everything all over again. Tremendously inefficient, and doubtless more expensive too.

The first paper I worked for professionally used a combination of Dewars pagination and paste-up. Dewars was the system we used at Forbes Newspapers in Somerville, N.J. It was a paignation system that didn't involve a mouse at all; commands were done on the keyboard with keystrokes like M (move) LA9 (left of page element A9). We used it in tandem with a version of XyWrite.

t seems a little clunky, but once you got familiar with it, it was easy to build a page rapidly. The only other place I saw it used was at The Princeton Packet, where the classifieds people were using it for their work. I'm told it was a pretty popular system for a while, although a few companies didn't buy it since the same fellow was the programmer and marketing person, suggesting it was a one-man business that would be sold once it reached the appropriate threshold -- which it was.

Since then, it's been all software -- up until now. WCN Newspapers, where I've been for six or seven months, still uses paste-up for everything. It amazes me.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

matching outfits

Natasha frequently criticizes the clothes I pick out for Evangeline to wear. She seems to feel that I have no skill at matching sets of clothes. My common defenses:
  • But they're *almost* the same shade.
  • But the dress and the shirt both have flowers on them!
  • But you complained when they were almost the same. Why is it wrong that they're completely different?
I'm afraid I just don't get it. The most complicated rule I have been able to master is "Jeans go with everything."

viewing the other side

A friend of mine has sent me a column by David Limbaugh pertaining to the interaction of Christians and the church with other worldviews and society as a whole. From the column:
I sincerely don't want to start an argument over religion, especially in these sensitive times, but I feel compelled to defend the Christian faith so that it does not become "collateral damage" in our war on terrorism.

Limbaugh takes issue with a recent editorial in the New York Times by political science professor Alan Wolfe, who draws the oh-so-popular parallel between American fundamentalism, as practiced by men like Jerry Falwell and the Islamic fundamentalism of terrorists like Osama bin Laden. And when Wolfe goes a step further and points out other issues of evangelicalism or American fundamentalism that are still current today, he sees hotbeds of regressive and uncivilized behavior lurking in American churches.

Limbaugh's piece is passable, and I do agree with him that equating Falwell and other fundamentalists and evangelicals with bin Laden's fiery style of "blow them up" fundamentalism, is just wrongheaded thinking.

Ironically, Limbaugh wraps up his article with some doozy misstatements of his own. First is the common argument in evangelical circles that the Founding Fathers were Christians. To the best of my knowledge, that is not the case; the argument usually stems from a reading of popular deist language referring to "Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" and such.

Jefferson regarded belief in the supernatural as absurd and even published a Bible without reference to it; similarly George Washington's Book of Prayer is -- from what I have heard, I have never read the book myself -- an unoffensive and unassuming book that could be adopted without accepting the Christian faith.

Limbaugh also makes the statement that other religions claim exclusivity. Not true. Buddhism and Hinduism both teach that life is an ever-revolving wheel on which we all will turn until we reach Nirvana. Wiccan readers can correct me if I'm wrong on this point, but pagan religions also generally argue that all gods melt into one and lead to truth. Generally the only religions with claims to exclusivity are Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and most Jews don't really seem to feel that way, from what I've seen.

Limbaugh objects, and rightly so, to the bias that lumps intense or serious religious devotion in the same wagon as the hatred that masks itself as religious devotion. Yet when it comes down to it, he also is lumping unlike things together, claiming desirables like the American Founding Father's for Christianity's own, despite evidence to the contrary, and projecting his religious views onto other religions, essentially a variation on what Wolfe did.

Makes me wonder how often I do the same thing.