Adventures in Ethics and Science

  • The sprogs were beside themselves with excitement yesterday on the eve of the first day of a new school year. Will this excitement persist? Will the first homework assignments deflate it? It remains to be seen.
  • The “Yay! We get to go to school tomorrow!” mood extended to our divvying up of the “requested voluntary donations” yesterday afternoon. In our school district, “requested voluntary donations” are required school supplies that the classroom budget does not cover; it’s tempting to send in a note to the teachers explaining that “voluntary” does not mean what they seem to think it does. Anyway, this year we managed to locate all the requested items with a trip to just one store (rather than the usual three). Part of this, though, involved discerning that some of the items on the list (e.g., a particular brand of markers in an 8-color pack) don’t actually exist — we checked! Momentarily, one wonders whether, in such a case, one ought to go for the specified brand or for the 8-color pack. Since “8 COLORS ONLY” was all caps with a couple exclamation points, that’s what we went for.
  • We also went through the number 2 pencils that survived last school year to assemble the bundles of number 2 pencils for this year. Not all of them are full-length, and some of the erasers are worn, but they’re all freshly sharpened. Anyone who wants to give me or my kids grief about not sending new boxes of pencils is going to get a lecture on environmental responsibility.
  • Why can’t they make the emergency information cards electronic? Yes, I know, the school wants current information and an actual signature, but at least at the beginning of each year, would it be so hard to have the information in a database that you could just update? It’s not like my kids’ names or birthdates have changed since the first emergency cards I filled out for each of them.
  • In a similar vein, why does the after school program insist that the emergency information forms I filled out last night are no good, owing to the forms being on white paper rather than the green paper that the “official” forms for this school year are on? It’s exactly the same information, and my signature is just as legally binding on white paper as it is on green.
  • Having the sprogs back in school ought to mean that I can get my writing schedule established and break through my writer’s block, right?
  • In other news, yesterday I harvested the only lettuce I have grown in my life that did not bolt.

More content soon … after I fill out the green emergency information forms.


  1. #1 Alan Kellogg
    September 3, 2008

    The forms are not for your benefit, they’re for the bureaucrats’ benefit; which has damn all to do with your kids. The bureaucratic mind set can be described as Aspergers with rabies, everything has to be done just so or the world will have a raging tizzy.

    The day we have an effective treatment for this is the day the world changes forever. Screw a sentient Internet, that will be The Rapture.

  2. #2 razib
    September 3, 2008

    uh, the title is a bit alarming on first read :-)

  3. #3 Theo Bromine
    September 4, 2008

    Just wait until your sprogs start to fill out their own emergency contact forms. When one of mine was doing this in highschool, he asked me if he had any medical conditions he should put on the form. I jestingly told him that the only one I could think of was incipient megalomania. I guess he was feeling simultaneously mischievous and cynical about school, so he wrote “incipient megalomania” on the form. Of course, school administrators are paid not to have a sense of humour, so a few weeks later, he was called into the office for a lecture and detention.

  4. #4 Robert Bird
    September 5, 2008

    Are you sure that the lecture and detention were for their lack of a functional sense of humor and not for attempting to usurp the role of school administrators? I thought megalomania was (in lots of cases) their job (or just a hobby close to their hearts), and I wouldn’t think they’d want competition.

  5. #5 Theo Bromine
    September 5, 2008

    Robert Bird: You may be on to something. According to the eyewitness account, the vice principal who administered the lecture admonished the student that the office staff would not know what the word meant, and thus would find it confusing in the event of a real emergency. (Subsequently, a teacher, upon noticing the miscreant on the detention bench, was curious to know how such an excellent student had got himself in trouble. The miscreant recounted the story, after which the teacher apparently had to make a quick exit to avoid being seen laughing.)

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