Parenting, Personal

Some quality quiet time with my baby

I just finished burping little Aidan, now only a few days past his first month in this world, and spending a little bit of quality quiet time with His Highness. It made me realize just how rarely I get to spend time with him when he’s in such an awake, and more importantly calm, state. It’s always cool to watch him while he’s like this because he’s so alert and curious about his surroundings.

Chillin' with Aidan
Chillin' with Aidan

It’s been quite hectic since Aidan was born. Between work, a personal project and running errands, I don’t often get to see Aidan. It’s not that he’s not awake – it’s that he’s usually hungry, cranky and fussy (and usually more than one of those at a time). It’s nice to just be able to hold him, talk to him, sing to him, and enjoy him while we’re both in the mood to appreciate it.

Curious... as always
Curious... as always
Social Issues

Chivalry is dead

Even as a young boy, I knew what chivalry was about. Men are supposed to hold open doors for women. They’re supposed to bring in the groceries. They should help women out of the car.

Chivalry is dead.

Maybe that statement is a bit extreme, but it’s hard not to notice that chivalry is, at the very least, on its deathbed. Sure, you see men doing those things for women every so often, but think really hard and try to remember the last time you saw it with your own eyes.

It’s no more apparent to me that chivalry is on its last legs than when I’m on the mass transit systems in the New York City metropolitan area.

I take the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) train system to and from work every day. One of the basic rules of etiquette on any mass transit system is that people be chivalrous with regards to who gets to sit down during a trip.

It’s a given that if you see a disabled, elderly or pregnant woman board your subway car, you offer them your seat so long as you yourself are not disabled, elderly or pregnant (I take it a step further and include young children as well). It doesn’t even matter if you’re a man or a woman. This is just common sense and decency.

Unfortunately, I see pregnant women, elderly people and the obviously disabled (never mind that not all disabilities are visible) standing for minutes after boarding the train. I make it a habit to look up at all the entrances at each stop to see if there is anybody whose comfort is a priority. Most people don’t care and don’t want to be bothered.

This sad, pathetic behavior affected me and my wife personally over the course of the year.

I recently had a mishap involving my basement stairs that resulted in a rather nasty sprain of my left ankle and put me on crutches for a few weeks. During the short period of time in which I was commuting to the office (I ended up just working from home for a little while because the commute was too difficult), I was offered a seat on just one occasion. Most of the time, I just stood in the middle of a relatively crowded train, two crutches in one hand with all my weight on one leg, silently praying that the train would not lurch.

But I’m a guy and I can deal with it. What I can’t deal with is my wife being able to count on one hand the number of times she was offered a seat during the 6 months in which she was very obviously pregnant (she commuted up to the day before she delivered). She told me that the worse part was that there were always young, able men who saw her condition but just didn’t care to offer her a seat. She’s not the type to ask, so she just stood during almost all of her commutes. Actually, she didn’t mind standing at all, but the situation bothered me nonetheless just on the principle of the matter.

The worst behavior came one day about halfway through her pregnancy when we were commuting home together. At one stop, a woman seated nearby got up to exit the train and the young woman standing in front of the seat was kind enough to offer it to my wife. However, before my wife could make her way over, the lady – if you could call her that – standing next to the young woman nudged her aside to sit down.

When the first woman informed the second woman that my wife was pregnant and that she intended to give her the seat, the second woman said, “It’s okay because when I was pregnant, nobody gave me a seat so it’s karma.”

That’s an almost exact quote (it was several months ago so I can’t remember every last word). I was too shocked at first that my reply – that if she wanted to be a jerk she should just admit it instead of hiding behind the concept of karma, which she clearly didn’t understand – never left my mouth. I couldn’t believe that someone would compete with a pregnant woman for a seat on a crowded train and then try to justify it in such a ridiculous manner. If she really had that bad an experience, should she not have been more sympathetic to other pregnant women?

If I was still the brash, hot-tempered person I was in my younger days (I’m still hot-tempered but not as brash), I would have said and possibly done some things that I would later have not been proud of, but instead I just left the woman to her seat and talked aloud with the decent woman and my wife about the death of chivalry.


Stop making excuses for Roman Polanski

I was as surprised as anyone that the Swiss authorities nabbed Roman Polanski as he entered Switzerland to accept a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

I was surprised mainly because I didn’t think that Polanski would be dumb enough to enter a country that doesn’t have the same protection from extradition that his home country of France does. This lack of protection in the United Kingdom was the very reason why he refused to testify in person in the 2005 trial for his own libel lawsuit against London’s edition of Vanity Fair and instead persuaded the judge to allow him to give testimony via video link!

Even more incredible is the fact that Polanski visited Switzerland several times in the past for skiing trips without being abducted by authorities.

Now, supporters are surfacing in droves to chastise the Swiss authorities and the United States for apparently perpetrating this dastardly deed.

Swiss filmmaker Christian Frei says he “feel(s) deeply ashamed.” I would like to ask Mr. Frei, and the thousands of others who feel the same way he does, why exactly he feels ashamed that a man who admitted getting a 13-year-old girl drunk and then raping and sodomizing her was apprehended by the law. Would he feel similarly “ashamed” if a man who had raped his barely teenaged daughter was caught by the authorities?

Photographer Otto Weisser, a friend of Polanski’s, was quoted by CNN as saying, “He’s a brilliant guy and he made a little mistake 32 years ago.” He made a little mistake. Let me repeat what I said above: he admitted to drugging a 13-year-old girl so he could have sexual intercourse and sodomize her. In case you missed it that second time: 13-year-old girl, drugged, intercourse, sodomized. I would ask Mr. Weisser the same question I would ask Mr. Frei – would you feel the same way if it were your daughter?

Others want to remind us of the atrocities Polanski experienced in his life. His mother died in 1942 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, and he barely escaped the Krakow Ghetto, surviving the war with the help of sympathetic Roman-Catholic families (his experience was the basis of the story for his Academy Award winning film The Pianist). His first wife, up and coming actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time, was murdered in 1968 along with 4 friends by followers of Charles Manson. I wouldn’t dream of belittling these tragedies but point out that having suffered in your own life doesn’t give you a free pass to cause suffering to others.

The most egregious statements are those that indicate that Polanski should be shown leniency because he is a famous and highly regarded filmmaker. Indeed, he is considered one of the best directors of all time, having made such classic films as Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and the aforementioned The Pianist. However, the gall of such luminaries as French culture and communications minister Frederic Mitterrand, who wanted to remind us that Polanski “benefits from great general esteem” due to his “exceptional artistic creation and human qualities” would be sickening if it weren’t so comical. Despite what you may have inferred from O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, you don’t get to commit crimes against other people with no repercussions just because you’re famous.

And let’s not forget that after pleading guilty and admitting to the crimes for which he was accused, Polanski fled the country. Why should he be shown leniency when he’s not even willing to face the consequences of his actions?

No, Roman Polanski should not be shown any leniency at all. He committed those crimes, and he admitted it. His flee from justice clearly shows that he didn’t, and possibly still doesn’t, believe that he deserves to be punished for his crimes. Stop making excuses for him.