Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stop the Presses....

I can’t help but comment on a couple of news items that caught my eye this week. 

Number one on the list was the First Lady unintentionally saying she was a busy single mom.  She realized her flub immediately and corrected herself.  I have seen dozens of negative or accusatory explanations for her words.  One person said it was evidence that the President’s marriage is a sham, especially since no one has seen their marriage certificate.  Unless every married couple in the country is framing and hanging their own marriage certificate on a wall, it’s highly unlikely anyone has seen their certificates either. 

Another said that this was an obvious Freudian slip that means either they are pretending to be happily married, or that the First Lady is chomping at the bit for this term to be over so she can dump him and strike out on her own.  Another said she was an embarrassment to our country.  One said everything that comes out of her mouth is a lie.  Another wanted to know how you make that type of mistake.  Then there was the one who insisted that the First Lady said it to get back at the President for his comments about the “best looking attorney general.”  She did this because it is well known that he has had numerous affairs “behind her back” since they were in Chicago.  The criticism goes on, and on, and on. 

My take is, it was nothing more than a slip of the tongue.  This woman has made more speeches in the last 5 years than most of her critics will make in a lifetime.  She speaks frequently about family and about busy and hard-working single mothers.  Trust me when I say that after you have given that speech over and over all across the country, the words flow out by rote.  Saying something unintended happens to me with frequency.  I’m sure it happens to those folks too. Can any of these critics even imagine what it must be like to have to weigh every word that trips across their tongue and have it pounced on by those who wish them ill?  It never ceases to amaze me how those who hate can take one small thing and blow it up into a volcano.  This is not news.  Get over it and move on. 

Second, there were two notable deaths in the news this week and the contrast in reporting about them was huge.  Roger Ebert died at age 70.  He was a much beloved movie critic, one who has entertained me for years.  He was an obviously kind, well-adjusted man who lived out his bout with cancer with a grace and dignity few can muster.  He was an inspiration to those suffering with similar afflictions.  He was honored and eulogized in media across the globe for his contributions to the world of entertainment, as he should have been.

Then there was the notable death of famed rocket scientist, Yvonne Brill, age 88.  A woman ahead of her time if ever there was one, she was denied entry into the engineering program at the University of Manitoba because she was a woman.  Not to be deterred, she pursued a degree in mathematics and graduated from college in 1945.

She worked for Douglas Aircraft and Rand Corporation, among others.  And she worked for NASA.  She invented the propulsion system that remains the standard for keeping satellites in orbit.  Without her there would be no satellite television broadcasts or global positioning.  You would have no use for that TomTom or your Sirius XM radio.  Later on, she worked as the director of the space shuttle's solid rocket motor program.  

She was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2001 and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2011 (which happens to be the highest honor bestowed on an inventor or an engineer in the United States).

This wonderful scientist has been breaking the glass ceiling for over 60 years.  So how does the New York Times start her obituary?

“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,’ her son Matthew said.”

This was a highly accomplished scientist.  Her obituary should have begun by touting those incredible accomplishments.  Although her beef stroganoff was undoubtedly tasty, unless she was a chef of the stature of Julia Child, starting her obituary with her stroganoff skills was an incredible insult.  Her son’s personal comments, although important and meaningful, do not express her importance to the world at large.  The writer who thought that was appropriate needs to get a clue and should seriously consider a career change.

And just so we’re clear, if I should leave this earthly habitat any time soon, I make lousy stroganoff!