Monday, September 30, 2013

Okay. Back to regular programming...

What shall we talk about? Ideas?

I've been getting into some BBC Jane Austen. Pleasant.

Also, playing a bit of 500. With the kids and with the i500 app. The kids are harder to beat.

You? Done anything interesting lately?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Get Along

Is this the most annoying song ever written?

Yes. I think it might be.


I have to learn how to do it.

It's hard.

It's become a very large mountain in front of me.

Doesn't help that Micah took precisely 10 minutes to learn how to do it on cello. Is it harder on viola? Is it harder when you are OLD? Or is it just hard if you are me?

I'm trying to speed through the next couple of grades - finish grade 3 by Christmas, grade 4 by easter, grade 5 exam in August... but I'll be stuck where I am if I can't get this vibrato thing happening.



Can I just play some more scales instead?

visitors, visitors and visitors!

I'm loving this. Keep on coming, everyone!

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Gentle" vs "Mainstream" Parenting

I hate this stuff.

But, yeah. I'm mainstream.

I don't feel any particular passion here - my kids are far past the baby and little kid stage - but to balance things a little, let me present a table biased in the other direction.

Mainstream Parenting
Gentle Parenting
Experts study infant behaviour and work out the routines for eating, playing and sleeping that promote the most happiness in babies and young children. Parents and carers are thankful for advice and use the parts of it that work on their particular child.
New parents are left to their own devices and told to follow the ‘natural rhythms’ of their child. Mothers end up feeding their cranky babies up to 20 times a day and are left feeling exhausted.
Children are raised secure in the knowledge that their parents are in control. They don’t feel the anxieties they would feel if they had to make decisions that should be left to adults.
Children are left to make their own decisions about what they will eat, what they will wear, what they will do, when they will sleep. Developmentally they are not ready for such responsibility and feel considerable anxiety.
Children are raised knowing that they have much to learn and respectfully look to their parents to teach them.
Children are raised thinking that their ill-informed ideas are correct. They show little respect for their parents.
Parents recognise that sleep is very important for both children and parents. Children are taught to ‘self-settle’ so that they get a better night’s sleep and are happier during the day.
Parents think that constant night waking is normal and so will not try to teach a child to sleep through the night. 
Parents praise and reward behaviours which they want to reinforce in their children. 
No behaviour is rewarded as parents believe that each child should work out what is right for them without external input. 
Parents believe that children have the capacity to learn right from wrong and curb their own natural impulses to selfishness. Parents see it as their responsibility to teach their children so that they will grow to be self controlled and morally upright adults.
Parents believe that right and wrong are social constructs. Children learn the importance of ‘looking out for number one’ and often seek to have their own desires filled at the expense of others.
Children are compared to averages for things like eating, speaking and walking as  developmental delays can be early indicators of problems that can be addressed through intervention programs.
Children are thought of as individuals and not expected to meet milestones at any particular point. Some early indicators or potential problems are missed or ignored.

My observation is that kids turn out okay and not okay with many kinds of early parenting. I teach lots of kids in their first year of school. Here are some things that I think they need to learn early if they are to flourish:

1. That the world is a fascinating place. Things are interesting. The more you know about things, the more interesting they are. 
2. Other people are important. We must respect other people's bodies and feelings. We don't want to hurt their bodies or hurt their feelings. They deserve as much air time in the classroom as I do. 
3. They are loved and secure and safe.
4. They don't need to worry about things that are mum and dad's responsibilities. They just need to take care of their own responsibilities. 
5. Effort brings reward. 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On Church A stealing creative content / intellectual property from Church B

1. Just because people are happy to be generous, it doesn’t mean that they’re happy to be stolen from. I might be happy for you to come in to my house and join me for a meal, I may give you permission to let yourself in and make a sandwich, but I’m probably not happy for you to climb in through a window, unannounced, and cook yourself dinner. It is rude to presume. Ask!

2. It is deceitful to try to make yourself look cleverer than you are. Would your church’s AGM video have the same wow factor if your people knew that the script wasn’t yours at all? Are you pretending that it is your creativity and your amazing vision for the future, when... it isn’t. Would that change the way your people see you? Would you be embarrassed if someone posted the original and your rip off side by side online and it went viral for all your church members and peers to see? Yes? Then by doing it you were trying to deceive people about your own cleverness. No? Then why the heck didn’t you put a note on the video/sermon/document attributing the ideas to the people they came from?

3. Ideas that people publish in church growth books are fair game in a way that artistic interpretation of those ideas aren’t. You might say, “There’s nothing new under the sun. In what church x does, I can see the direct ideas of church growth books a, b and c. In fact, some of their vision ideas came directly from those books. I just took what they had already taken.” Um. No. By buying the book, some proceeds of the ideas are going to the creators. But you should still attribute the ideas - just tell your people which books you have been reading and say that you’ve gotten ideas from them.

I don’t think that God is too impressed when we steal other people's ideas and pass them off as our own. I propose that we put a couple of simple things in place to discourage it.

  1. Come up with a standard way of attributing ideas. If you use the materials of others, at the end of your video (or whatever) you have to print: “Creative content courtesy of St Peter’s Orthodox church” For non-video content, credits could be printed in the notice sheet or something and certainly on the church’s website. 
  2. Set up a website exposing church intellectual property theft. . It sounds harsh, but our hearts are sinful and having consequences for ungodly behaviour helps us to be godly.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Baking adventures

Last week I made a chocolate slice substituting the sugar and half the butter for a pile of mashed pumpkin. It worked well and was eaten quickly.

The other night I substituted the pumpkin for mashed cauliflower and broccoli. It is is still in the fridge.

Come and try some if you like. It looks like chocolate cake and kind of tastes like zucchini slice.

What should I learn from this?

Monday, September 2, 2013

My recent comments widget is broken.

Unguyly guys

I know quite a few guys who worry that they don't fit their gender stereotype. If you are one of them, here's a post for you.

Three observations about (apparently) unguyly guys.

1. Most of you are Myers-Briggs E*F* types. You do conversation well. You make decisions based on your personal values and feelings. You don't much like conflict.

2. You may doubt your guyliness, but seriously, no woman doubts it. (I've asked around. You can be sure women see you as 100% male (whatever that might mean!)) You might think that you express yourself more like a woman than a man, but... (how do I say this?) You don't. At all. You sound like a guy.

3. I suspect that appearing unguyly to women is not really your concern. You worry about appearing unguyly to other guys. You want to fit in to your pack. You feel you need to be more ... Driscoll... if you're to step on others and climb the ladder and become the alpha. Maybe you don't want to actually be the alpha, but you want to not be stepped on.

Three suggestions for (apparently) unguyly guys.

1. Why beat yourself up about being who you are? Your E*F*ness is a gift to the world. You are good at many things. And you are fun to talk to. What would I do without E*F* types?

2. If you want to feel more Alpha, read a leadership book. Or two. Or three. Testosterone oozes from the pages and is absorbed through your skin as you hold the book. Seriously, you will feel like a Leader when you are done. Even a Leader of Leaders. Or watch this TED talk and do the body language exercises it suggests.

3. Stop thinking about elements of your personality in gendered terms. It's really unhelpful. Being an E*T* type or an E*F* type or whatever has got nothing to do with gender. You are clearly a guy. Be convinced of that.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

they took the children away...

Have you read this article about a German homeschooling family having their kids taken away?

What did you think?

A few thoughts.

1. Yes. A team of 20 social workers, armed police officers, and special agents "storming" a homeschooling family’s residence and taking the children without even letting the parents say goodbye does seem heavy handed. If it happened like that, it is concerning.

2. It is in a country's best interests that its children are educated. Different countries will have different rules aimed to ensure that every child is educated. In Queensland, parents must send their children to school or register them in an alternate approved program. Failure to do this will result in the parents being warned and then fined $750 the first time and then $1500 each time after that. A family with 3 school age children could be fined over $15K per week! This is a significant sum of money and shows how seriously our government takes educating our children. In the last few years, the requirements for homeschooling have been tightened and parents really have to show that their children are being educated at home - unfortunately, some families who claimed to be 'homeschooling' were really 'non-schooling'. Germany does not allow homeschooling but has several different types of schools that children can attend - religious and non-religious.

3. Australians and (even more so) Americans find it hard to understand a culture where the government regulates many matters in everyday life. We think, "Why shouldn't I be able to educate my child however I please?" But this is not the European way! Heck, there are even laws about what you can call your child in Germany - each baby's name has to be given official approval before it can be used! In France, the names that you give your pets have to be approved! In Europe, having a rule that your children must go to school is not out of place.

4. As Christians, we are called to follow the laws of our country as far as we can without being disobedient to the scriptures. I assume that the family in the article thought that sending their children to school would have been an act of disobedience. Of course, I think that they were wrong in this, but I hope that they had been reasonable in their interactions with the authorities and tried to negotiate as much as they could - for instance, agreeing to send their children to school but removing them for science or whatever.

5. Isn't this pretty much what white Australians did to Aboriginal children, not just once, but for decades and decades?

6. Hasn't this happened before? Oh no. That was in an Amish romance I read. The family solved the problem by moving to Mexico.

7. I think John Piper's question, "What will you do when they come for your children" is unhelpful and alarmist.