Aldon Hynes's blog

Devolve This!

(Originally published at LocalPols, and copied here for consolidation)

John McCarthy from California pointed me to an article by Joel Rogers entitled 'Devolve This' about the need for a coordinated progressive state-level effort in the most recent Nation magazine (8/30/04).

I believe that it presents a good explanation of part of what I have been hoping to contrbute to with this website. I would encourage everyone to read the article.

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“Yesterday, a child came out to wonder” That is how I started my blog entry about when Fiona was born. That was almost three years ago. Today, is a day of reflection.

I remember when I was about 15, I went to a >Junior Classical League event. The Junior Classical League is an organization dedicated to encouraging an interest in and an appreciation of the language, literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome.

Our local club had built a catapult and we had taken it to the catapult competitions. At one point, we sat in the high school auditorium and watched a multimedia presentation entitled something like, “Life is a voyage on a wine-dark sea.” Slides, references to Homer, and Joni Mitchell playing in the background. I still remember thirty years later.

The Junior Classical League was one of the saving graces of my high school years. I remember later going to the JCL National Convention and wished that there were more events like that for me.

Now, thirty years later, Mairead has set off on her voyage across a wine-dark sea. For the past four years, the high point of her year has been attending the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Summer Programs. To attend this program after seventh grade, you need to take your SATs. So while she was still twelve, she took her SATs and scored better than most high school seniors.

I had always thought that the CTY program would be enough to carry Mairead through the difficult high school years, but after seeing her test results, I had to stop and re-evaluate things.

One program I stumbled across was The Program for the Exceptionally Gifted at Mary Baldwin College. I read through the website and to me, it had Mairead’s name written all over it. Perhaps that was partly because of how badly I longed for a program like that when I was Mairead’s age.

Mairead has been fortunate. She has gone to very good schools so far. When she read the Mary Baldwin materials, she spoke as if she wasn’t really that bored, that school wasn’t really that bad and so on.

When we went down to visit Mary Baldwin, I asked her what she thought. She responded by asking me what I thought. I told her this was too important a decision for her to let me make for her. I needed to know what she really wanted. She said that she would love to attend Mary Baldwin if there were anyway it could happen. In promised her that I would do everything I could to help make it happen.

She applied and was admitted. When she spoke with her classmates from last year about what she would be doing this year, she simply said she was going to a boarding school in Virginia. If people asked which school, she would simply say, “Mary Baldwin”.

I believe some of it is because she was tired of having to try and explain it, and tired of listening to well meaning adults talk to her about the importance of the social aspects of high school which she would be missing.

I have been less reticent and have explained to those asking, the details of the program. I have always pointed out that she will get much better socialization by being with a group of girls who are much more like her.

I have been proud of her and excited for her. The past few days were preparation for her trip to Mary Baldwin. It is an eight-hour drive, and her mother, who hasn’t been there yet, is driving her down. I spent a bit of time fixing up an old laptop for her to take with her. However, Tuesday morning, I woke up to find that the hard disk had crashed. In a last minute scramble, I reconfigured an old desktop PC I had around. I upgraded the operating system, installed a few internet telephony programs, made sure things were working well, and got her a memory stick so she could more easily move data between her desktop and any other computers she might end up using.

Last night, we had a special family dinner for her, sending her off. This morning, I loaded her computer in the car, gave her a hug, told her that I loved her and sent her off. She seemed very excited about her upcoming adventure and I didn’t want to bring her down by telling her how much I will miss her; how sad I am that I won’t see her face to face for probably a few months at least.

So yes, I am sad. I miss her and it hurts. But, I am so excited for her. I believe it is going to be a wonderful experience in so many ways. I believe she will grow and change through this. I believe she will greatly enjoy herself, and that makes any pain or sadness worth it.

“But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

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Where I've been

I spent last week out on Cape Cod. Other than a mild stomach bug, it was a pretty good week. We spent a lot of time playing in the sand and the waves at the National Seashore. I am back in Stamford now, and trying to catch up on everything.

About 1200 emails piled up while I was gone. I am slowly working my way down through them. Many are just mailing list messages that I’ve filed in different folders and I may get back to at some point, or they may remain unread. Others I flagged for follow up, but knowing how things go, they may remain flagged for follow up with no action for a long time.

There are still about 400 that I haven’t gotten to, so if you have written to me and I haven’t responded, that is why.

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Have you left no sense of decency?

(Originally posted at Greater Democracy)

As I have spoken about before, I like the sense a narrative in politics. I like tying in stories that people remember and that resonates with them.

Popular stories include the emperor’s new clothes, the boy who cried wolf, and perhaps Pinocchio. However, there is another story that I like to talk about, which I don’t think is getting enough attention.

On June 9th, 1954, Joseph Welch confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy, asking him, “Have you left no sense of decency?”. As an aside, for a transcript, and a wonderful recording of the interchange, please check out:

The recent advertisements by Swift Boats for Bush raise some interesting questions. To what extent were the activities illegally coordinated? What role should 527s have in the political process? However, the most important question to ask of Swift Boats for Bush is, “Have you left no sense of decency?”


On Aug 12th, I received an email from a friend asking me to join I joined and checked to see whom else I knew that had joined already. There were three or so other people and I linked up to them. On the 16th, I used their tool to invite people from Orkut, and sent out quite a few invitations. About a dozen and a half more people joined my network there.

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