Friday out the door.

Enjoy Dahlia Lithwick while you’ve got her in Slate, because sooner or later she’ll be snatched up by the NYT or WashPost or some other smart editor, and she’ll file less often, or you might have to register to enjoy her common-sensical looks at jurisprudence.

Should pharmacists be allowed to refuse to dispense birth control? she asks today. Answer: Hail no:

A woman’s decision to use birth control or emergency contraception is between her and her physician, period. Hard questions about the circumstances of her pregnancy, her marital status, and her alternatives can be asked there�if they need be asked at all. But for a pharmacist to subordinate a physician’s judgment to his own is the height of arrogance. Reports from around the country�of pharmacists delivering hectoring lectures, discriminating against unmarried women, or refusing to return prescription forms to be filled elsewhere�reveal what happens when pharmacists are allowed to interpose their own values between a physician’s medical judgment and the needs of her patient. Does the guy who drives the Pfizer delivery van hold an analogous right to be a conscientious objector?

It includes liberal lofty quotes from that twit from Pharmacists for Life, too. What. A. Tool.

Oh, but there I go, being a violent, dismissive lefty again.


We’ve had a string of lovely, coolish spring days of late. The forsythia blooms against a blue sky more suited for Arizona than the Midwest. I moved the potted rosemary out to the front porch, and they think they’ve died and gone to Italy. It’s perfect weather for just about everything, so what happens? The newspaper finds something wrong with it. Whatever happened to April showers? Who the hell cares! It rained all goddamn winter!

You can see where my ace news sense has taken me — like a vertical blur straight to the top of my chosen (coff) profession. (coff.)

One thing we did yesterday in the cool blue afternoon was head off to Kate’s school for the Celebration of Learning, sort of a parental open house in which we (I, anyway — Alan was working) were encouraged to paw through their portfolios of work and marvel over the wonders therein. I’m not going to say this is a bad idea, but it is a different idea. When I was growing up, my parents knew who my teacher was, and had at least one conference with him or her in the course of the year, but otherwise, they had their jobs, the teacher had hers. No news was good news. I brought home my papers; if they looked good and there was no note accompanying them, everything was fine.

Compare that to today, when we know our children’s teachers the way we know…our hairdressers? Our therapists? Somewhere in there, anyway. If the teacher is good — something my parents could count on — your frequent meetings are pleasant. If not — something more of my friends report — well, let’s all have root canal together, eh?

I know the meme of the moment says that parents are the true pains in the ass, and it’s the talk of the teacher’s lounge. I hear less about the very common phenomenon of lousy teachers. Here’s a note a friend sent to her son’s teacher earlier this week:

Dear Ms. —-,

I have a couple of questions about the current spelling words list. Since words 8 and 10 are directly related to the science curriculum, did you intend for word No. 9 to be �dominant� — as in �dominant trait� — rather than �dominate�? I just want to make sure X is focusing on the word you intended the children to study and learn.

Also, I�m sure you�ve probably caught this already, but there is no �t� in �crucifixion.�

One of these days I want her to write a book with that title: “There is no T in ‘Crucifixion’ — Catholic Schooling in the Era of Declining Enrollment.”

Kate’s portfolio was up to snuff. We celebrated with ice cream. I will try to remember these days when good report cards are routinely rewarded with iPods and cell-phone minutes.

And finally, everyone’s making fun of John Bolton’s stupid hairdo. You can go with the WashPost’s take, but I much prefer The Poor Man’s.

Posted at 9:51 am in Uncategorized |

16 responses to “Friday out the door.”

  1. Danny said on April 15, 2005 at 10:14 am

    Nance, I have no problem with your take on the pharmacist. The guy is an idiot. But keep away from Poorman. Dude is nothing but a fluffer for the Democratic party.

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  2. Lance Mannion said on April 15, 2005 at 11:51 am

    Hooray for Kate! And ice cream matters more than ipods to smart children.

    For the first time in their schoolgoing careers, both our guys have good teachers at the same time. The 3rd grader’s teacher is old school tough and stern but with the proverbial heart of gold and he loves her. The 6th grader’s teacher is sweet and patient, which is what he needs. But she makes lots of spelling mistakes. She’s young and I’m coming to the conclusion that virtually nobody who was in school—grade school, high school, and college—between 1980 and 2000 learned to spell, punctuate, or, pretty much, write a decent sentence.

    Exhibit A: Blogger Matthew Yglesias. Smart, Harvard educated, going places—and he routinely mixes up there and their, too and to, and makes many other bloomers. And his father is a novelist!

    Also, in defense of teachers. There are far more pain in the neck parents than there are bad teachers, although I think there are fewer great teachers. I think Boomer and Gen X parents have expectations that our parents didn’t have, and that it’s mostly an effect of vanity and insecurity—we think our kids are brilliant because they’re out kids, and we’re worried because during the school year our kids spend more quality time with their teachers than they do with us.

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  3. Nance said on April 15, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    Does he make bloomers? Or bloopers?

    Ha ha ha ha ha.

    Lance, I think our boomer-parent expectations of teachers have less to do with our own vanity than our own memories. Remember, those of us in our mid-40s or so were the beneficiaries of that quaint old-school belief that the only suitable careers for women who insisted on working were as secretaries, teachers or librarians. How many of our teachers, if they had been born 30 years later, would have chosen teaching, and how many would have gone to law, business or med school?

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  4. Randy said on April 15, 2005 at 12:35 pm

    My daughter’s pre-school (3-4 year olds) seems to strike the right balance: playtime, group activities/games, a short segment where the kids learn about something – dinosaurs, airplanes, etc.

    We’re happy because we enrolled her primarily to let her spend time with kids, to start learning how to play nice with others. It seems we’re in the minority. A group of parents have banded together to advocate the creation of a curriculum, because “this is a place of learning! If they’d don’t know how to read, write, spell, add and subtract by kindergarten, they’ll be disadvantaged!”

    Good grief.

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  5. Connie said on April 15, 2005 at 3:27 pm

    I have decided that spelling is genetic. I am and always have been a spelling whiz. My straight A teenager can’t spell for beans. Neither can her father. Neither could my PhD holding school superintendent father in law.

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  6. Alexander in NY said on April 15, 2005 at 9:49 pm

    Thank you, Connie! I can’t spell for beans, either – but am convinced, finally at the age of (not quite!) 50, that it is not a sign of stupidity, after all. Plenty of other signs, certainly, but not that. So what gives me the right to get upset, like Lance, at Yglesias and other bloggers butchering the language? (IT’S and ITS, too) Go know.

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  7. Joe Kobiela said on April 15, 2005 at 10:27 pm

    Seems to me that a few years back, Quite a few people thought that the vice-president was stupid because he miss spelled a word, My how things have changed. Next thing you know, people will figure out that having a child on purpose outside of marriage might not be a good choice.


    (down in Auburn)

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  8. vince said on April 16, 2005 at 1:46 am

    Connie, I’m with you.

    Speling’s grate if you can dew it but theirs a time when you reelize some peeple hav it and some peeple doughnt.

    I grew up in a family with a Mom who was an English teacher. We all got extra drills at home. I could spell circles around my sister. Yet she’s the one who graduated with a 4.0 GPA and attended Stanford, not me.

    There’s something ingrained in the brain for sure which makes spelling more natural for me.

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  9. Connie said on April 16, 2005 at 7:34 am

    Vince, your comment reminds me of that famous old librarian Melville Dewey, yes he of the Dewey Decimal System, who promoted spelling reform, and signed his own name Melvil Dui. Reading him in the original is a struggle for modern students. Of course if old Melville was around today he would have been fired for sexual harassment a long time ago.

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  10. Alexander in NY said on April 16, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    Joe, I think that Dan Quayle (sp?) would have been forgiven a spelling mistake but for the fact that he was actually attempting to CORRECT something a student had written on the blackboard. Now that’s really not very bright…

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  11. Dorothy said on April 16, 2005 at 3:42 pm

    All this talk about spelling and what do my eyes see when I walk into the grocery store this morning? A big hand written sign proclaiming that a certain type of fish was on sale: “SALMON EXPLODTION!” The high school kid who got the task to make the sign is probably to blame, but what about his or her supervisor? Sheesh.

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  12. brian stouder said on April 16, 2005 at 10:39 pm

    “So what gives me the right to get upset, like Lance, at Yglesias and other bloggers butchering the language?”

    His typos never bugged me, but his hostile reviews of articles which he never read – or at least never completely read – put me off of him.

    Anyway, I believe spelling is directly and inextricably related to reading. If you read and read and read –

    then when you write, words simply don’t “look right” when you’ve mis-spelled them.

    And SOME words don’t look right even when they ARE spelled correctly, like ‘parallel’, or ‘acquiesce’ – words which automatically call for grabbing the well-thumbed-through paper back dictionary…

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  13. Maureen said on April 17, 2005 at 10:43 am

    I say spelling ability is in the DNA. I often tell people that if I didn’t have a kid who is the worst speller in the world AND a voracious reader, I never would have realized that the good reader = good speller truism, is well, not.

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  14. Michael G said on April 18, 2005 at 9:01 am

    Does the Chicago Trib stil have its own way of spelling?

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  15. mary said on April 18, 2005 at 11:23 am

    Salmon Explodtion is good, but the other day I saw a sale on stainless steel bowels which really caught my eye.

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  16. mary said on April 18, 2005 at 12:28 pm

    Wait until your kid gets to middle school. You run into teachers there who are not only bad, but scary. In older son’s three years of middle school he had two different teachers who used to sit and quietly sob, one who was always late and looked either hung over or drunk, and another who taught the kids all about how the Methodists were saving Korea, and how Ronald Reagan was modern day saint, even if he wasn’t a Methodist. She kicked my son out of class once for mentioning Iran Contra. The always late/drunk one berated one child in front of the class for a full 40 minutes after he mentioned to his parents that he thought his teacher was drunk. The parents called the school, and the teacher was given a warning or something. Next day the class was treated to a speech that sounded like something Harold Pinter had written: “some of us run to our mommies and daddies when we can’t perform in class, don’t we “PATRICK?”

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