Adventures in Ethics and Science

A desk of one’s own.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am hoping to be on a sabbatical leave during academic year 2008-2009. Indeed, some of you have asked, “Where are you going to go?”

The answer:

My brand new desk at home.

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As it turns out, it has been years since I’ve had a proper desk of my own at home. The computer table that functioned as my desk for the last year of my chemistry studies pretty much became community property once the sprogs arrived. (You’d be amazed at how quickly babies become territorial about computers.) This means that much of my philosophy dissertation was hammered out on my laptop at the neighborhood cafe.

Since the sprogs, much of the work I’ve done at home has been accomplished with the laptop actually on my lap, or with the aid of clipboards (for grading). But I decided that wasn’t going to fly for the semi-scary project of trying to hammer out and polish a couple books. So I have seized a corner in the living room at Casa Free-Ride and installed a desk that will, I hope, establish a physical locus for my important brain work.

This will not be without its challenges. While Virginia Woolf may have gotten a room of her own, my desk is in a room of the house that is considered shared space. And the sprogs have a sense of justice that makes sharing central. A few years ago, I torqued my knee pretty badly (dancing at a party my thesis advisor was throwing to celebrate his departure from the area; sadly, I had left the party by the time the cops arrived to shut it down). I came back from the doctor’s with a cane, and at the door, the younger Free-Ride offspring snatched it from me and ran off to play with it. The elder Free-Ride offspring issued a stern reprimand: “That cane is for us to share with Mommy!”

Which is to say, my admonitions that the new desk is a sacred space in which Mommy will be doing Very Important Work haven’t completely kept their grubby mitts off of it so far. Nor has the clearly visible fact of my sitting at the desk and working been enough to discourage them from playing loudly two feet away from me. We’re going to be reviewing what it means to give someone space to do her work.

In related news, I discovered that the teenager who lives next door has a rock band that practices in the garage. I hope he has a summer job lined up.

Comments

  1. #1 Eva
    February 27, 2008

    I have enjoyed reading your blog and found many interesting things to think about regarding ethics. However, I wonder if you haven’t let your children get out of hand here. Why does everything have to be shared? While sharing is great it certainly isn’t always the answer.

    What about the notion of respect? Even kids can learn to respect parent’s (and others) space, time, projects and property. In fact, I think respect is a very valuable skill and often lacking. It works both ways – kids respect you, you respect kids.

    As an adult I would not let my space be ruled by kids, however charming they may be.

  2. #2 Super Sally
    February 27, 2008

    But I heard there were birthday presents on your desk this morning…where are they???

    Happy birthday and happy desk. Next a long work table, a large white board and a large cork board to organize thoughts. And maybe some ear plugs for the band and/or the Sprogs.

  3. #3 Alan Kellogg
    February 27, 2008

    It’s not that it doesn’t penetrate. It has no trouble penetrating. It’s just that there’s really nothing there for it to grab hold of. As capable as the sprogs are, they’re not that capable. We are, after all, talking about young primates, and things do have a habit of slipping their minds. I think you’ll find that a child care program is even more imperative now than it had been before. For your sanity if nothing else.

    As many a mother has said of her darling progeny, “If only they weren’t so cute.”

  4. #4 TRUE
    February 28, 2008

    Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They will never settle for a reasonable share of ANYTHING. They will do whatever it takes to get even richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductable crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. So don’t fall for all of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductable contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. WAKE UP PEOPLE. ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Vioxx. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of which concentrate the world’s wealth and resources and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘ good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTABLE PR CRAP. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. EXTREME WEALTH HAS MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

  5. #5 Kim
    February 29, 2008

    Oh Janet, as a freelace writer Mom working from a home office, just a few suggestions (you can take them or toss them):

    As your mom noted – GET A BIG WORK TABLE! The idea of working from that little drop-down with big piles of paper surrounding you on the floor (and getting stepped on continously by sprogs) is NOT functional in any way, shape, or form. No, trust me, I’ve lived with those piles and regret every minute spent in that fire trap!

    You need a filing cabinet, a work table (where you can tape off a section of the tabletop for sprog access if you want them to share your workspace), and somewhere safer for that mug (they spill, you know).

    Does that drop-down shelf lock up? If so, be sure you shut it down during the time the sprogs are around. I know, I know, they want to watch you work. However, they will also find that accessible space (and computer) to be fun to get into when you are…fixing dinner, taking a bathroom break, reading the mail, sleeping in on a Sunday morning…you get my drift, right? I’ve walked into my office space to find the backs of my drafted documents covered with very special drawings done in SHARPIE marker, and the computer locked up when someone tried to use a drawing program, run a DVD, and access the internet simultaneously (and then wandered away without telling me that they had crashed the system while I was sending a huge document to a client). Of course, this episode occurred when I was emptying backpacks after school (usually a 5-minute process). Just be warned…rather than being the “mean Mom” when things crash around you, be the “safe Mom” and set up boundaries now.

    Just a few ideas from a freelance writer for over 11 years who is also a mother of twin 11-yr-old “terrorist” sprogs (yep, you do the math!).

  6. #6 Becca
    February 29, 2008

    Lovely desk!
    Though since I am the sort to find any amount of horizontal space finding a workly mess to fill it- it does seem a touch small. Giant project tables… mmmm…

    Is the teenager by any chance responsible enough to be employed minding sprogs (even if it’s a “keep them busy while I work” minding rather then a “here’s the keys to Casa Free-Ride, I’ll be back in 6 hours” minding)?

  7. #7 liberalfreedomlover
    March 2, 2008

    First off … I LOVE your blog!

    Second: Honey, you DEFINITELY need a larger desk. I know you must really like your new one, but it is way too small for your needs (and i’m not even a scientist! tee hee hee). Plus, you have those wonderfully inquisitive kids, so you KNOW they will ‘get all into the business‘ and the coffee mug WILL spill on your computer (Murphy’s Law) and you WILL only have yourself to blame (Occam’s Razor?). So get a larger desk before you have to write a post entitled “They Told Me So!”

    Third: Every time i read about your ‘sprogs’ i think ‘Wow, that kid is smart as a whip!’ Truly enjoy reading your blog (did i mention that? :-) and it would seem that you and hubby are super parents.

    Wishing you loads of productivity on your sabbatical!

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