Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The joys of owning pets

Because Fernando is home this week, helping his mom make the unimaginable transition to a life without her husband of forty-five years, I am alone—well, not alone, I am left with Mateo and Margarita. This morning, something was going on with Mateo's stomach. It was making that loud liquid sound, loud enough that it woke me up. And, all I could think was, "He's gonna vomit ... or worse." And, he was obviously uncomfortable. 
So, up I got. At 4:20. To take him out. We went out. He peed, he smelled, he did what else he needed to do. We came back in. But his stomach was still loud and the cat was awake, demanding food—eleven years after we rescued her from the Columbus park where she'd been abandoned already an adult cat, she has decided that some food is beneath her. I fed her, but now it was 5:00 and I'm getting up at 5:30 this semester. So, as I told Mateo, he had robbed me of more than an hour of sleep.
They are supposed to comfort you, I think, but sometimes they are like having two particularly hairy children. 
Off to clean the box!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

In memoriam

Last night, Juan Carlos Bosco, Fernando's father, died after a period of illness, at home in bed with his wife, Nilda. He was a very loving man, always smiling and full of joy, quick with a joke, generous and will be missed by all those who knew him and especially his family, among whom he counted me. ¡Te extrañamos, Juanca!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A sad development

It occurred to me last night, in the midst of a class discussion about world poverty and the responsibilities those of us in the developed world might have towards the horribly poor of the world, that I have witnessed a sea change in the attitudes of students in my relatively short career in the classroom. About a decade ago, when I first started teaching ethics sections, the majority of students thought that we had some obligation to others—both near and far—though many of them wondered whether there was any effective way to meet them. 
Then, there were a few students who more or less claimed that each of us was out for himself. But these voices were in the minority. Now, even as my students are more nominally religious, even as I teach in a religious context, even as many are willing to make claims as to the supremacy of Christianity and the necessity of something like traditional sexual morality—at least insofar as it applies to homosexuals and adulterers, though not to the case of fornication—many more of them are unwilling to think that we have any obligation whatsoever to the poor or to our fellow humans. They deny often that there is any such thing as a human community or any positive obligation to members of such a community or even human rights as opposed to merely civil rights.
It might just be that I don't do a good enough job motivating such an obligation, but I think that something more severe has happened. I fear that we have become a nation of people who are so isolated that the idea of morality—which is after all about the obligations that I have to others—has become foreign to us. Individualism has trumped any connection and we are all perfectly happy to go back to our homes and sit in front of our televisions or computers and interact only with those we choose often through the medium of a screen.
And that makes me sadder even than usual.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Things that make me die inside: January 2009 edition

I can't claim to know this for a fact—since the truth conditions of counterfactuals are notoriously difficult—but I would like to think that were dear, dear Freddie Mercury alive, he would have done his damnedest to keep Wal-Mart, no friend of foreigners or homosexuals or humans, from using "We Will Rock You" to promote their lower costs (and lower wages and anti-labor policies so that their own employees still won't be able to afford the products being sold). It makes me die a little each time I hear or see the ad. What's next? A little Frankie Goes to Hollywood?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A thought for today

If you are unmarried, including if you are divorced or living with your boyfriend or fiancé, and/or you do not cook for your family or clean the house or do the laundry, and/or you have a shop or a real estate office or some other business, and/or you are so wealthy that you spend your entire day shopping or playing golf or tennis or lunching, you are not, by definition, a real housewife of anywhere. Sorry. Oh, and if you are on a television program about the real housewives of anywhere, you are probably a big part of why much of the world hates the US.