Friday, August 29, 2008

Psyched about the VP Nominee

When I saw the news this morning that Sarah Palin -- the governor of Alaska and the mother of a four-month-old with Down syndrome -- had been named as the Republican nominee for vice president, I let out a whoop that made my children look at me very strangely. I had been thinking she'd be a good dark-horse candidate for a ticket badly in need of excitement, but didn't expect it would really happen.

However things go with the campaign, I'm hoping this will raise the visibility of kids with special needs, and publicize the fact that having a child with a disability does not in fact mark the end of your life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Schedule schmedule

It seems to be taking our school district longer and longer to send out class schedules. Back when my kids were in elementary school, their classroom placements used to come the second or third week of August, whichever one we wound up being on vacation during. It was hard enough to wait that long. This year, though, here we are, school starting a week from tomorrow, and nothin'. That means the first few weeks of school are going to be a total loss as everything shakes down. That's bad for any student, particularly bad for students with special needs who need structure and predictability from Day 1, and very bad indeed for students with special needs who are making the scary transition to high school this year. And, you know, their mothers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bug-on-Bug Violence

Here's a warning to anyone in New Jersey who's thinking of taking a young child to Liberty Science Center.

There's a 3D movie playing there that you may want to steer clear of. It's called "Bugs!" and, although the 3D effects are cool and the narration by Judi Dench is top-notch, your Disney-trained child may be a little traumatized by some of the scientifically accurate goings-on.

For example, bug sex. Mating butterflies. A preying mantis male perfecting his moves so as not to get his head devoured.

And speaking of devouring, the scene in which the preying mantis catches a fly, rips its head off, and eats its brains is not for the squeamish.

Worst of all, though, is the intertwined fate of the two bugs whose life cycle Dame Judi talks us through, with a cute name for each. At the film's end, unceremoniously, one of them eats the other. More specifically, the creepy one eats the pretty one.

If I'd seen that as a young child, in 3D no less, I'd have been so upset that no amount of gift-shop swag would have comforted me.

I'm a little shaky now, thinking of it.

Never mind the young children. Send your teenage boys in alone, and save yourself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Enough of that high-minded stuff

I got an e-mail from my utility company today that cracked me up. It linked to this story with the amusingly realistic title "Go Green and Feel Smug." Enough of all that saving the world stuff; somebody's finally figured out that the way to make people want to be more environmentally responsible is to point out they can lord it over the neighbors.

Not sure "My carbon footprint is smaller than your carbon footprint" is going to catch on, but it's a nice try.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tropic Thunder blunders

Have you heard about the controversy surrounding Tropic Thunder, the raunchy comedy debuting this week with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. in the leads? You may have heard that Downey's in blackface, and that the film's sort of intentionally offensive in the way of R-rated comedies these days. But what's been getting less publicity is a subplot involving the frequent use of the word "retard." Stiller can say all he wants that he's making fun of an actor playing a developmentally disabled character, and not people with developmental disabilities, but reports from early screenings indicate that he's not so sensitive to the difference as he thinks.

I've got a long blog post about this on my site this morning, with links to the Disability News blog, which has much more extensive coverage. Sometime today, it's likely that The Arc, Special Olympics, and other disability-rights groups will be announcing protests and boycotts. At the very least, if you have young people with special needs who thought this would be a fun flick to go see, you may want to help them reconsider.

I'm not in the target audience for a movie like this, and I wouldn't have gone regardless. But I had good will toward it because I liked the actors involved. Now, I just want to hit them upside the head. What were they thinking? Or why weren't they?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Do you Twitter?

I'm not at all sure I've got the hang of it, or even figured out why one would care about what people are doing in 140-word increments, but I'm giving it a try. Old dogs, new tricks, all of that. There's a widget down on the right side of this blog you can use to find me; and if you're twittering, let me know and I'll add you to my list.