Life changing moments of the 00’s

So, my friend Steve Saideman (aka "Big Steve") has been doing a number of interesting "best/most ____ of the decade" posts this week at his blog.  I've decided that I'm going to undertake the similar endeavor.  Instead of starting with favorite books, movies, etc., I decided to try and think about on the most life-changing moments for me during the aughts.  In chronological order:

  • August 2000.  Moved to Lubbock and started teaching at Texas Tech.  Certainly not where I would have chosen to begin my career as an assistant professor, but it was awesome to actually be a tenure-track professor and get paid a decent wage to do the job I love.  I really enjoyed my two years there and made some great life-long friends (e.g., Big Steve)
  • June 2002.  Alex was born.  Kids change lives.
  • August 2002.  Started at NC State.  I feel like I won the life lottery teaching here.  I still get to do the job I absolutely love and the expectations for teaching and research at NC State allow me to have as good a work/life balance as anybody I know.  I will happily teach here till they drag me out of a classroom on a stretcher some day.
  • September 2003.  Alex diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis.  Kids change lives– special needs kids really change lives.  The following year was probably the mentally and emotionally hardest I've ever faced.  Then, the "new normal" kicked in.  Damn, Alex drives me crazy at times, but I certainly cannot imagine my life or our family without him.
  • Spring 2005.  Kim starts  I don't really do that much to help out with the store, but it has certainly been a huge part of all of our lives.  Kim has done a tremendous job running the store and it certainly has required of me a level of shared parenting that had not previously been required of me. 
  • January 2006.  Evan is born.  Kids change lives.  And sometimes unbelievably for the better.  We were really undecided on whether we should have a third child because we were worried it would mean we wouldn't have enough time and energy for Alex.  Evan has been the best thing that ever happened to Alex.  And David.  And after having a child with all sorts of developmental delays, every little thing Evan has done as a baby and toddler has been appreciated in a way we would have never known to with David. 
  • May 2006.  Officially awarded tenure at NC State.  Somewhat anti-climactic, but a big deal nonetheless.  I have the greatest job in the world and now nobody can even take it away from me so long as I behave myself within fairly broad limits.  Day-to-day tenure doesn't really change things much, but I really do like being senior faculty and I especially like no longer wondering if I won't some day have the rug pulled out from under me and lose this job I love.  
  • January 2009.  My mom dies.  I like to say I had 37 good years with her and I'm incredibly grateful for that.  But I would have so liked to have more time.  Almost everybody thinks they have a great mom, but I really and truly did.  I've been surprised at the ebb and flow of my grief.  Sometimes it is really hard (hmm, especially around major holidays), and other times it all seems fine.

I feel like I must be forgetting something, but that's all I've got for now.

The morality of climate change politics

Matt Yglesias makes a particularly provocative post, that not only are those in support of policy to address climate change scientifically right, but morally right as well.  He makes the larger point that it is somehow fine for legislators to act in patently immoral ways all the time from the abstract remove of the legislature, in ways which would be totally unacceptable if we examined the actual impact:

I’m fairly certain, for example, that Fred Hiatt wouldn’t strangle a
baby polar bear just for cheap thrills. But he would run an ignorant
Sarah Palin op-ed on climate, and repeatedly allow George Will to
mislead people about climate science. What’s more, if Hiatt strolled
around Washington soaked in the blood of polar bears he’d been
strangling, people would treat him like a pariah. But instead his
friends and colleagues and professional peers have evidently decided
that he’s just a nice guy who happens to run a crappy-but-influential
op-ed page. Similarly, Collin Peterson made the House climate bill much
worse, but more financially advantageous to his donors and
constituents. But, again, you can’t imagine Peterson roaming around
Indonesia killing island-dwellers and pulling off bank heists in order
to bring more cash back to rural Minnesota. It’s just that in the
context of legislating, people have decided that it’s morally okay to
do the wrong thing for personal gain.

Interesting points.  There's surely some important larger conclusion in here as well– I just don't have it at the moment.  


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