Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Correcting Your Children's Texts To You.

My friend Stacey noted that she regularly corrected her children's grammar and spelling when they texted with her. She then asked her Followers who were mothers whether they practiced the same actions. Here is my conversation with Stacey:

(My questions in red, her replies in blue)

I noticed on Twitter last night, you asked mothers Following you whether or not they corrected their kid's grammar when texting. What kind of responses did you get?

Yes, I do that and I was wondering if other mothers do it as well. All of the responses from mothers with children who are old enough to text said that no, they do not correct them. One homeschooling mom said she added any mistakes to her child's spelling/vocab list to learn the next week, which I thought was a pretty good idea.

Were you surprised at the negative responses?

Yes, I was. Apparently, I'm the only mother I know who corrects spelling and grammar errors by text.

What were the reasons these mothers gave for not correcting their children's texts?

No one gave me a reason, except for one responder who thought correcting by text would annoy the children into not texting with her anymore.

Just so we're clear, what exactly do you correct in your kid's texts? Realize they use a lot of slang and "word shortcuts".

I don't mind the slang and the usual text abbreviations such as how r u?, thx, ttyl, etc. Using numbers for words, those kinds of shortcuts are normal for texting and I know everyone does that. What I correct is when the child clearly is misspelling a word or uses bad grammar, such as "Me and my friend are going to the store." I'll correct that before responding.

How have your children reacted to this instruction?

They send me a corrected text, sometimes with a "Sorry, mom"

Have they always reacted this way? Do they think such correction is unnecessary?

I have taught them to react this way. They understand that to get a reply from me, they'll need to type properly. I'll give you another example. I was at the grocery a couple weeks ago and my 8yo texted me asking for "candee". I replied "Candee is not a word. Are you asking ME for candy?" He replied "Yes ma'am. Candy, please." I'm not sure if they feel the correction is unnecessary. I've never asked them how they feel about it. I feel it is necessary.

Do you have any thoughts about parents who do not correct their children's texting?

Not really. I believe each parent should do what they think is best for their child. Because I homeschool my children, and mainly unschool, I use every opportunity and teachable moment that presents itself.

I've noticed many adults on Twitter having the same problems with grammar and spelling many children have. And they do not take kindly to correction. Is it this type of action you are hoping to prevent by training, or should I say, educating, your kids that good grammar/spelling is essential no matter the medium?

Yes, absolutely. My oldest already has a facebook page and his spelling and grammar are on public display. I know a lot of people ignore mistakes on facebook, especially for kids, but I feel it is important for him to practice now so that he isn't continuing these kinds of things into adulthood. I know many mothers will disagree, but for me, I think ignoring my kids' errors says to them that it's ok. I treat spelling and grammar training just like any other training, like table manners or good behavior. If a child breaks a rule, such as slamming a door, I'd correct them the first time they did it, so it doesn't become a bad habit. Same with spelling rules.

Have you read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua?

No, I don't believe so...

A conversation for another time. I personally agree with your position on this matter, wholeheartedly. I think spelling and grammar are increasingly important in the age of microblogging and text messages where we presume lax standards to be acceptable. And I thank you for a great interview. Thank you very much, Stacey.

Thank you, it was great talking with you as always, Rob.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The pits of Kendra and Felipe

Once upon a time an incredibly wounded soul named Kendra Supersad sighed. Oh, she sighed a lot, such was her life, so sigh-worthy. Kendra lived on an enchanted island called Down There. She had lived there her whole life and she had searched her whole life for someone to share her despair. Though large, her island could not provide her with someone to fill this role.

One day while searching the internet for black clothing, she found a website for people who enjoyed talking in very short spaces about unimportant things. It was called Pitter-Patter, or Pitter for short. On Pitter she could type incessantly about her sadness and dreary outlook on life! These “pits” were responded to with such nice people offering help and comfort. She weeded out these people immediately.

A somber young man named Felipe Easydoesit, much like Kendra, was living in a disconsolate world of his own making in a land called Over There. He sought happiness in pills, but doctors couldn’t ever come up with the right combination for poor Felipe. So he looked for solace in the wonderful little package of American goodness known as the hamburger. He loved them so much he would only work within an arm’s length of one. He also found Pitter and made much of the same pits that Kendra did.

One day they found one another on Pitter! And oh there was sadness and grieving and a general cheerlessness between the two that no one else could fathom or wish to become a part of! They made arrangements to meet and it was gloriously morose! Soulmates! They fought, they argued, they were so happy in their sadness together!
Sometimes they had to fight off misguided people who tried to show them that happiness and joy both within this world and into eternity was possible. They seethed at these naïve wishful thinkers. They took them on, one and all, eventually smiting them!! Mainly by clicking 2 buttons on their Pitter BUT THAT WAS ENOUGH. They could revel in their oppressive misery together, and they did. Until they broke up.

The End.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2010 in Review: Movies

By my informal count, there were 204 movies released in theaters in 2010. I have, as of this writing, seen 81 of them. By and large I was pleased with the films released in 2010, though not a great year, I was able to formulate a list of 10 of my favorite films of that year. Also, I have included top performances in 4 acting categories, in my opinion. A disclaimer is that since I have not seen every film released, and not even half, I will probably get into March and see something that should be on this list. An example of this would be The King's Speech. It looks very good and would probably end up in a few of my lists but I haven't seen it yet. That said, let's get deeper into some dream layers.


My pick for absolute best in red

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges- True Grit
Leonardo di Caprio- Inception
Stephen Dorff- Somewhere
Robert Duvall- Get Low
James Franco- 127 Hours

Best Actress

Emma Bell- Frozen
Dakota Fanning- The Runaways
Greta Gerwig- Greenberg
Jennifer Lawrence- Winter's Bone
Emma Stone- Easy A

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale- The Fighter
Matt Damon- True Grit
Jonah Hill- Cyrus
Bill Murray- Get Low

Miles Teller- Rabbit Hole

Best Supporting Actress

Elle Fanning- Somewhere
Ann Guilbert- Please Give
Mila Kunis- Black Swan
Melissa Leo- The Fighter
Hailee Stenfeld- True Grit

Overrated Films of 2010

Though visually pleasing, I thought The Social Network was at heart a biography of a company and do not understand the hype. The Kids Are Alright has nothing new to offer and I am mystified at its heat. Black Swan was a confusing mess, though not bad. Simply overrated.

Underrated Films of 2010

Catfish, a wonderful juxtaposition of documentary and fiction, had me on the edge of my seat. It is a rare thing when you have NO idea where a movie is going. Even when it's done. Splice was more than just a horror film. A complex relationship film, it deserves more viewers. The Joneses, Leaves of Grass, Get Low, and The Human Centipede all may be looked at with fonder eyes years from now. Okay maybe not that last one.

My Favorite Films of 2010
in reverse order

10) Cyrus. What an odd gem of a movie. Curious performances wrapped around
a strange story of an adult son/mother relationship. Jonah Hill proves adept at acting so odd one is afraid he may go violent at any moment or that he may be very funny. John C. Reilly is his usual best in this semi Greek tragicomedy.

9) Paranormal Activity 2. A big fan of the original, I was afraid the sequel would mar my memory. It did not. Using even more cameras with, thankfully, only a fraction of the hand held footage, this movie delivered the scares. Add in a dog and a baby and you have a great sequel Now if they could only stop at this one.

8) Winter's Bone. The Ozarks are another character in this well-acted tale of poverty, gossip, family ties, ad methamphetamine. I felt as if I were with the lovely Jennifer Lawrence as she battled seemingly everyone in order to provide for her younger siblings. It is horrible, the life portrayed by these people and I found it unforgettable.

7) Catfish. If you are online much, if you have arrived at this blog post via Twitter, if you frequent online dating sites, you have probably at one time or another wondered just who the hell is typing to you. Is that person REALLY who they purport to be? Well Catfish takes such a concept to an end. What that end TRULY is, is up for interpretation, for so many people who have seen is STILL don't know if what one sees in Catfish is real. I think I know, but I want you to watch it and tell me your thoughts. Mesmerizing.

6) Get Low. Funny. Touching. Very well acted. This film about an old man who wants to be present at his own funeral showcases redemption, guilt, forgiveness, and letting go. Fabulous performances by Robert Duvall and Bill Murray as well as Sissy Spacek make this a great, great film.

5) True Grit. The Coen Brothers rarely do wrong in my eyes. True Grit is no exception. Incredible performances by newcomer Hailee Stenfeld as well as Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon make this a fun movie to watch. Far superior to the original, the repartee between the three main characters is great fun. My only qualm would be the ending. It should have ended perhaps 10 minutes sooner.

4) Toy Story 3. A very pleasant family film's third go round never gets stale. Woody and Buzz are thrust into new predicaments that they must overcome, along with the rest of the gang and in the end, we watch Andy play with them one last time. Moved me to tears.

3) The Karate Kid. A pleasant surprise was this remake by the People's Repubic of China and Will Smith. New life is brought into a beloved 80's movie and I loved how we saw into China's culture while being given a story that, like Toy Story 3, had me weeping at the end. Props to Jaden Smith for delivering the charisma necessary to make this a hit.

2) 127 Hours. I watche this film twice and enjoyed it equally, for different reasons, each time. What is thought to be a story of a single event where a man is pinned to a rock is made so much more by director Danny Boyle and terrifc acting by James Franco. Boyle's manic celebration of movement and life is so inspiring and an instant classic. Graphic, yes, but not what you've been told. Give it half a chance.

1) Inception. I saw this film twice as well and though my viewing companion brought up troubling logical problems, I enjoyed this inventive, razzle dazzle of a mind bending film. Like nothing I'd seen, perhaps since The Matrix, this film grabbed me and never let go. By the way, I had more fun discussing with my movie watching friend the work of gravity within dream levels than I can remember having with anyone else discussing films. I can't wait to watch more movies with her.

And that's it, the Year in Movies according to me. Great Directors like Boyle, Christopher Nolan, Darron Aronofsky, and the Coen Brothers made it a fun time to watch movies. I hope they all come back with new projects soon. So tell me, what's YOUR favorite movie?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

On The Politicization of the Arizona Shooting

On the morning of Saturday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona at a political gathering outside a grocery store, Sarah Palin shot and killed 6 people, and wounded 13 in a deadly shooting spree. In addition to Palin, several hundred thousand members of the Tea Party also pulled the trigger that critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Democratic congresswoman believed to be the target of the attack. One of the dead, a 9-year old girl named Christina Taylor Green, will likely spur legislation to revoke the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, which, wrongly, gives citizens the right to bear arms. After the much needed ban on guns life will then be safe from crazed individuals like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Conservative Tea Party members in general. After the precedent of the 2nd Amendment’s repeal, the 1st Amendment will be amended to ban offensive words and phrases, such as “I’ve got you in my cross-hairs”, “Targeted”, “Pray”, and “God”. The list of words and phrases will be long, updated daily, and result in stiff fines and/or jail time for repeat offenders. In this manner life for Americans and the rest of the world will be a virtual paradise. Especially after Conservatism is outlawed.

If you read that and found yourself nodding and smiling in agreement, then you are probably not going to be smiling and nodding when you reach the end of this post. One reason you may be happy with the previous paragraph is because I failed to mention the name of the ACTUAL killer, Jared Loughner. Perhaps you are eagerly awaiting any morsel of news that Mr. Laughner was spurred in some way by “Talk Radio”, or “The Tea Party Movement”, or some sort of religious leaning. It is in THIS way that you can then apply your own political views onto a situation that clearly does not have any. I know some of you have done this. I have read your words. On the social networking site Twitter, I have sought to engage you in debate. Mostly you ignore me. I wish I knew why. Here are some examples:

From @HiKris

“I wonder how Sarah Palin will sleep tonight? I'm sure a lot better than the parent's of the 9 year that was murdered.”

This was the first reference to Sarah Palin in my timeline, and one that made no sense whatsoever. I remarked on this to her:


"Awesome! I have my first Dumbass Blame Sarah Palin Tweet! wtg @HiKris !!!”

Her reply:

“@InkPanther You're welcome, always glad to help. I do wish you could have used a few more exclamation points.”

A deflection. Rather than explain her nonsense she sought to remark on my choice of punctuation.

The actress Jane Fonda weighed in:


“Progressive Arizona Rep Gabrielle Giffords is shot. In her ads, Sarah Palin had her targeted in a gun site. Inciting to violence.”

“@glenbeck guilty too. Shame. It must stop!”

“@SarahPalinUSA holds responsibility. As does the violence-provoking rhetoric of the Tea Party”

Ms. Fonda misspells Glenn Beck’s name, and calls Rep. Giffords a Progressive, though Rep. Giffords supported the rights of her constituents to bear arms.

Now I realize the text-message size space limitations of Twitter make a detailed rumination of ones thoughts impractical but one can string many tweets together or, better yet, make truthful statements rather than false ones. As David Limbaugh tweeted, regarding the “gun sights” advertisements on Palin’s website:


“I honestly have 2 wonder whether ths leftist stampede 2 condemn SPalin springs frm projection. They cnt conceive her imagery was jst imagery”

By placing certain congress people in “gun sights” it is obvious to most rational people that she was NOT advocating the shooting of them. When did we go to this extreme in our thinking? It goes along with Mrs. Palin’s independent, frontier attitude of being a rugged individualist and her love of hunting, it is not an assertion that someone should LITERALLY shoot and kill certain congressmen. Ms. Fonda is simply choosing to avoid this obvious point to use this tragedy to attack Palin and Beck.

The crazy was increased later that same day.


“#Tea Party #tcot #2nd Civil War? : I hope, as American's, that we'll realize that #TeaParty members are HOME GROWN TERRORISTS. #BanTeaParty!”

“@GeorgiaElliott7 : I'll tell u what motivated that 22 yo #Gifford shooter: Gun loving, bible-thumping, all Americans. #TeaParty #Terrorists”

This Tweeter actually advocates the banning of a Movement! And the label “HOME GROWN TERRORISTS” is used without any supporting evidence! HOW, in God’s name are Tea Party Members terrorists!? Where is the proof? What is even more egregious is the fact that she HAS ASSIGNED A MOTIVE TO THIS HORRIBLE ACT! What special powers does she have that she can possibly KNOW this? This is perhaps the most irresponsible tweet I have ever witnessed.
Another person on Twitter refused to respond to me directly, only referring once to this blog in an indirect, and incorrect, manner.


“@SarahPalinUSA hoping that you begin to take some responsibility for the rhetoric & pot-stirring you do & renounce violence very clearly ;("

“Dear Rush Limbaugh: Please begin to use your powers for the greater good instead of scum-sucking evil -- luv, ABT”

This person apparently read my tweets to her, yet refused to back up her opinions. I understand this desire to not engage me in debate. She realizes she has nothing with which to back up her rhetoric. Like many of the tweeters condemning the Tea Party Movement, Palin, et al, much retweeting was being done. These people only see a hateful tweet against these people and immediately, instinctually, slap their big paws on the RT button, thinking they are making a point. I would simply like some answers. Why take this tragedy and politicize it? Why shamelessly mischaracterize the views of those you dislike? Failure to do so will grant you the label, “fucktard”, as I rightly called Ms. Bus_Ticket.

“To the dude spewing his prolific skill set of hate-language on me tonight, liked your scintillating series expose' of tuna sandwiches”

I spewed no hate, I asked her questions. Anyone is free to look at my timeline and judge for his/herself. Oh, and my opinions on tuna sandwiches were explained. Even when the subject is, as she intimated, slight, I am still more deep and intellectual than she is.
In conclusion, let us all pray (oops, that will be a banned word shortly) for Rep. Giffords and her family, the family of 9 year old Christine Green, and all the others involved in this incident. Let’s also place blame on the gunman, Jared Loughner, the sole person responsible for this horror. The irony of those wishing to involve anyone other than this man in this situation and then condemning the political climate as being so hateful should be apparent and regarded as silly.