Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sweet, Sweet Normalcy

My wife and I teach the remarriage class for the Diocese. The Catholic Church requires you to take marriage preparation classes if you want a Catholic wedding. The classes have been great fun and we feel we're making a difference in these couples' lives with our stories and lessons.

Every class starts with the couples introducing themselves and telling their love story. The stories are sometimes funny and sometimes touching, but they all have the same dynamics in common. The man talks about how beautiful he thought the woman was and the woman talks about how kind and capable she thought the man was. They say it with humor and they say it with love. It always gets the class started out on a happy note.

The couples are all different ages, races, wealth levels, education levels and so on. It's a lovely cross-section of America. For 7 hours or so, all of us in the room share intimate stories and discuss important topics in daily life. Seating is haphazard, so when the class breaks into discussion groups, the combinations are random. There's never any problem with that.

When I see stories about UCLA students occupying buildings over "microaggressions" or Chris Matthews telling us we're swimming in racism or hear that we're not supposed to use the word "bossy" any more because it somehow prevents little girls from growing up to be leaders, I think of these classes and wonder how Chris Matthews, the Huffington Post writers and the student protesters got so darned weird.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Electrical Engineering In Alabama?

Next year, one of our sons will graduate with an EE degree. San Diego may still be where he finds a job in the field, but from his internship search for this summer, it's not a foregone conclusion. One of my Cursillo buddies, a banker, tells me that California in general doesn't have a healthy employment outlook. So where to go if you're young and bright and have an Electrical Engineering degree?

How about Alabama? Dig this.

The location quotient is the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration. A location quotient greater than one indicates the occupation has a higher share of employment than average, and a location quotient less than one indicates the occupation is less prevalent in the area than average.
Huntsville and Birmingham are hotbeds of electrical engineering. Why? Well, for Huntsville, there's Cummings Research Park (CRP).

The second largest R&D park in the country with 200+ companies, 25,000+ employees.
I found an NPR story out there from 2011 focusing on downsizing at NASA, people being fired at CRP and working the red state political angle, but two years later those stump-toothed, inbred, redneck hillbillies still seem to be doing alright if the Bureau of Labor Statistics is to be believed.

Or are they to be believed? A search revealed 3 EE positions up for grabs in Huntsville vs. 10 in San Diego. Correcting for population sizes, Huntsville (183,000) and Sam Diego (1,338,000), then Huntsville has effectively 22 jobs for the same population. Yep, there it is. Huntsville, AL has a larger concentration of EE jobs than San Diego, CA.

Wow. I would not have believed it if I hadn't clicked around myself.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love Makes A Family

Renee Aste (why aren't you following her on Twitter?) linked to this news story recently.
In the picture Shanesha Taylor is staring straight into the camera with tears streaming down her cheeks. It’s her mug shot, taken after the Arizona single mother was arrested for leaving her children in a locked car with the windows slightly cracked.

Horrible as that sounds it’s only part of the story. As Shanesha explained to the arresting officer she had no one to watch her kids while she interviewed for a job. The 35-year-old mother is homeless; she risked leaving her children for a short time for the chance to get work.
Shanesha and her two children were living in her car. How horrible! One or more of the following things must happen immediately:
  1. Shanesha should be thrown in jail.
  2. Shanesha should be released and given shelter.
  3. The State needs to pay for free day care for all.
  4. Shanesha's kids should become wards of the foster parent system.
  5. Shanesha needs parenting classes.
  6. (fill in the blank here)
What's the big deal? We're taught that "love makes a family." Wasn't this love every step of the way? Didn't Shanesha love the father of her children? Didn't Shanesha love her children? Wasn't Shanesha doing the best she possibly could? Seriously, I would bet that the answer to all those questions is a resounding "Yes!"

Here's something that will not be recommended from this news story:
  1. We all need to honor the Biblical injunctions on marriage and sex.
Shanesha did what almost all Americans do and then her life went very, very wrong. Until it did, she was following modern, secular morality. Shanesha didn't know it would turn out this way, otherwise she never would have done it. The same goes for all of us. Those of us who get away with it were examples to Shanesha. She saw us do it, so she did it, too.

If love makes a family, then how did Shanesha go wrong when every step was based on love?

Here, the porcupine social worker is placing the children into custody as the bird mom bids them a tearful farewell. Love wins again!
If there is a God and he loves us, wouldn't he give us rules for life that led us away from fates like Shanesha's? Looking at it from the Shanesha angle, defining adultery as a sin is an act of love.

Addendum: Shanesha is a hero in my book. There aren't words to describe my admiration for her.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Our Children Are In Good Hands

Highlights from my daughter's high school history class notes taken on Thursday of this week. The class is learning about the War of American Aggression, or "The Cold War."
  • The Soviets won the space race with Sputnik
  • The CIA made secret, high-altitude flights over Soviet territory
  • The Soviets knew about American spies
Comrade, do you know your history?
There's nothing in her notes about gulags, mass starvation, Soviet aggression, religious repression, the Eastern European uprisings in the 50s ...

Why would there be? This is Soviet American history, after all.