Showing posts from March, 2012
. My mother was one of nine children (eight girls, one boy) from a German-American Catholic family in southern Indiana (the "Kunkels"), and as a consequence I have 41 first cousins on my mother's side, and none at all hanging from the limbs of my father's (Lutheran) family tree. I was number seven of these cousins on the list (starting from the age of birth), and the oldest is Judy Birge (now Judy Calley). Because we were six years apart in age, and also because I was from an Air Force family and not around a lot, we have never in our lives had any significant contact with one another, and certainly not a one-on-one experience. The photo above, at the wedding of our aunt Catty, is the only one I could find in which Judy (standing in the middle next to her brother Jerry) and I (far left, with Judy's sister Jane) appear. Unfortunately we really don't know each other. Until last week that is. I've been teaching a course in Commercial Law at
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. Now, now, blog readers, you already know the answer to this one: You can't. ( Sigh. Shrug shoulders. Obvious answer. Damn it to hell! ) Can't be perfect, eh? Now what? Let me give you the perspective a 68 years old has on this question, and that's the real subject of this post. All animals, from bugs to whales, are programmed to fit in with their kind. Those whose characteristics vary too far from the norm are "suspect," in a Darwinian sense. If uncorrected and allowed, say, to breed, they'll possibly pose a threat to the survival of the species, which has evolved to what the current generation thinks of as near perfection. Stamp out nonconformists! Human beings are a prime example. As children we're urged to conform, and this push comes first from most parents ("Don't do that—people are looking!") and then peers ("What a freak you are!"). High school is a conformity pressure cooker
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. I've recently returned from a trip to California where I made the keynote speech for a law school symposium at the behest the law professor organizing the event who is (a) a former student of mine and (b) gay. At one point we were talking and he commented that when people learn he's a rabid sports fan they're usually surprised since gay men (unlike lesbians) are reputedly not interested in sports. I told him I'd had the same experience. I grew up in a sports family. As is related in numerous blog posts ("My Competitive Parents"), my parents were both fine athletes (as golfers they once won the Bermuda International Amateurs Couples Open), and my sister and I were raised with sports as a constant in our lives. One post ("Put Out at Home Plate") details how the proudest my father ever was of me was the time I was the catcher for his Air Force slow-pitch team and had a stellar moment at home plate. In other sports I was mediocre at best.