Teaching 5th graders who vs. whom in an LGBTQ+ world

Email from a 5th grade teacher to parents at our local public school (soon to occupy the most expensive, per-student, building ever constructed in the United States):

Just wanted to reach out to tell you about the conversation we had in class today. Our middle school (grades 5-8) has a group called SAGA that meets weekly. SAGA stands for “Sexuality and Gender Alliance.” Today was the first meeting of the year.

In preparing the kids for possibly joining SAGA, our conversation centered around LGBTQ+ vocabulary and terms. I am attaching the vocabulary list that was used with the students. These definitions come from Welcoming Schools. It was a good conversation and the students have a lot of great knowledge already!

The attachment (below) uses the phrase “Who you love” (contrast to Barack Obama: “No matter who you are or whom you love, celebrate #Valentines Day with pride. #LoveIsLove”). Also note that, presumably due to recent definitional problems with the word “woman”, “Gay” and “Lesbian” have the same definition. Finally, I wonder if defining “Sexual Orientation” (Merriam-Webster) by “Who you love” will cause some confusion, even if one accepts that “who” can be used for the object of a verb. Fifth graders are familiar with parents who love children. They may also be familiar with children or adults who love a dog and a dog who loves human family members. Can the fifth grader now assume that the dog is sexually oriented toward human family members or that a parent is sexually oriented toward children who are loved? If “love” and sexuality are equivalent, does that make the fifth grader’s world simpler or more complex?

[Attached] LGBTQ Vocabulary Words

Words associated with gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexuality


Cisgender: When your gender identity (how you feel) is the same as what doctors/midwives assigned to you when you were born (girl/boy or sex assigned at birth).

Gender: How you feel. Your internal felt sense of being a girl, boy, both or neither. 

Gender Binary: A way of seeing gender as two distinct and opposite groups—girl and boy. This idea doesn’t include all the ways we can have a gender identity and express our gender. 

Gender Expansive: Some people feel that the traditional ways of being a “boy” or “girl” do not fit for them. They live their lives showing that there are many ways to be a girl, boy, both or neither. 

Gender Identity: How you feel. Girl, boy, both or neither. Everyone has a gender identity. 

Non-Binary: People who do not feel like the words “girl” or “boy” fits. They may feel like 
both or neither. They sometimes use pronouns such as they, them, theirs. 

Sex Assigned At Birth: When a baby is born, a doctor or midwife looks at the baby’s body/anatomy and says they are a boy, girl or intersex. 

Transgender or Trans: When your gender identity (how you feel) is different than what doctors/midwives assigned to you when you were born (girl/boy or sex assigned at birth). 


Bisexual: People who love or are attracted to people of two genders. 

Gay: People who love or are attracted to people of the same gender. 

Heterosexual: People who love or are attracted to other people of the opposite gender.

Lesbian: People who love or are attracted to people of the same gender.

Sexual Orientation: Who you love or are attracted to.


LGBTQ: Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. 

Queer: People use this word as a way to identify with and celebrate people of all gender identities and all the ways people love each other. When used in a mean way, it is a word that hurts. 

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Complete glass cockpit in one retrofit instrument

Here’s something that one would have thought would have been built about 15 years ago: a complete glass cockpit that fits into a legacy instrument panel 3″ hole. The uAvionix AV-30: it can be an attitude indicator, an HSI, a G meter, angle-of-attack indicator (“AoA is calculated by comparing the aircraft’s pitch, flight path, and G-loading”), etc. It even has a built-in battery that will run for 2 hours after the aircraft’s electrical system fails. All for about $2,000 for a certified aircraft.

Thought: if the Boeing 737 MAX had used this device, which tries to determine AOA via inference, instead of the (failure-prone) mechanical AOA sensors that it did use, nobody would have been killed by the airplane.


  • the same company has a retrofit wingtip-mounted ADS-B OUT transponder and a new one that will work on the 1090 MHz frequency required for Canada
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Department of Understatement: Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein

From “Bill Gates Met With Jeffrey Epstein Many Times, Despite His Past” (NYT):

His lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me,” Mr. Gates emailed colleagues in 2011, after his first get-together with Mr. Epstein.

Almost as good as The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook:

Today I made a Black Forest cake out of five pounds of cherries and a live beaver, challenging the very definition of the word “cake.” I was very pleased. Malraux said he admired it greatly, but could not stay for dessert. Still, I feel that this may be my most profound achievement yet, and have resolved to enter it in the Betty Crocker Bake-Off.

Also in the article…

Mr. Gates, in turn, praised Mr. Epstein’s charm and intelligence. Emailing colleagues the next day, he said: “A very attractive Swedish woman and her daughter dropped by and I ended up staying there quite late.”


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Americans don’t read the world’s best literature?

Two authors won the Nobel Prize in Literature this year: Peter Handke and Olga Tokarczuk. I hadn’t heard of either of these writers so I figured I would head over to Amazon and pick the ones that got the best reader reviews.

The Amazon page for Handke lists books with, mostly, between 0 and 5 reviews. For Olga Tokarczuk, there are just two books, with a maximum of 44 reviews. Compare to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Ode to Victimhood (4,200+ reviews), anything by Stephen King (up to 10,000 reviews!), Michelle Obama’s How to Marry a Successful Man (15,500+ reviews), etc.

Do we conclude that these recent Laureates are not truly great authors? Or that Americans don’t bother to read authors of great literature?

I want to give Slow Homecoming a try, since it starts in Alaska. Flights seems promising since it is about travel.

Readers: Had you heard of these authors? Planning to read anything by them?


  • Wikipedia says Peter Handke questioned the demonization of Slobodan Milošević (thus upsetting the European righteous)
  • the Wikipedia page for Olga Tokarczuk says “she has leftist convictions” (so she might agree with Slobodan Milošević, at least, on the merits of socialism?)
  • NYT article on these prizes quotes Olga Tokarczuk as an enthusiast for low-skill migrants going to the U.S. (but not to her own homeland of Poland, it seems!): She also referenced increasingly severe immigration policies in the United States. “Twelve years ago there was no mention of the idea of walls or borders, which were originally adopted by totalitarian systems,” she said. “Back then I must admit that I was sure that we had put totalitarianism behind us.”
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Why don’t airplanes have parking sensors for the wingtips?

At a recent aviation gathering, the topic of the Boeing 737 MAX came up. I gave my usual spiel about how TI was able to make the Speak & Spell in 1978. Why couldn’t a B737 have had a $1 voice synthesis chip saying “trimming forward” when MCAS was running, potentially prompting pilots to hit the trim interrupt switches much earlier. And why couldn’t the rest of our aircraft have voice warnings instead of simply beeping with different tones for different kinds of problems, e.g., gear not down, approaching a stall, etc.

An airline pilot responded “We lose millions of dollars every year from minor collisions on the ramp. If I buy a car for $20,000 it will come with parking sensors. Why doesn’t a $50 million jet have sensors in the wingtips to warn of a collision?”

I would love to know the answer to this question! It does not seem as though FAA certification would be a huge hassle given that the system won’t be used in flight. The sensors are commercially available from Bosch (parking ultrasonic; rear radar).

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Domestic violence hotline for the polyamorous

Back of a city bus in Harvard Square:

I posted this to Facebook with “Helpful phone number in case identifying as polyamorous leads to a domestic dispute”.

From the sponsor organization’s history page:

the wording of our mission was changed to explicitly name and acknowledge our ongoing work with gay, queer, polyamorous and SM communities.

Who wants to test the theory that “Love means my partner respects my identities” by walking in the front door and saying to one’s partner “Starting tonight, I identify as polyamorous”?

(Also, are people who engage in sadomasochism a “community”? See “Partner Abuse In SM Communities” from the same org.)

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Taxpayer-funded aviation in the 1950s

From the Udvar-Hazy Center, taxpayer-funded aviation in the 1950s: $2,500 Piper Super Cubs.

I texted these to a friend. His reply: “Today that would be 50 Blackhawks with $20 million sensor packages.”

Also from the museum, the “San Francisco” is a biplane so that twice as many people can pitch tents under the wings.

1940s and 50s seem to have been the high point for aircraft design cuteness. Note the cartoon-like Bell helicopters:

The Discovery Space Shuttle and its firsts in the gender and racial identity departments:

Don’t let your seaplane near the salt water:

A 1960s German toy for the nostalgic:

(A friend commented “You had to see old guy down the road for the decals.”)

Elizabeth Warren’s test pilot closet:

Some fun overviews…

At AirVenture (“Oshkosh”) 2019, Burt Rutan said that the National Air and Space Museum was “a great place to park a used airplane.” He’s certainly right about that, but it would be nice if the museum could step up its educational effort, which is weak compared to the Museum of Flight in Seattle (previous post).

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Visit to the National Museum of the American Indian

From September, some photos of an awesome exhibit of commercial exploitation of Native American culture at the National Museum of the American Indian. The building itself is as beautiful as ever.

Hundreds of products are featured, including a Tomahawk missile:

Elvis played Indian characters twice in films. Also depicted is Justin Trudeau’s cousin:

Let’s not forget South Park:

Sorry for the poor image quality, but this Post Toasties ad is essential:

Adjacent to this exhibit is one that claims Pocahontas “saved America.” As much of a Pocahontas fan as I am, to the extent that she helped European invaders, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that she helped destroy America?

It is interesting to compare this museum with the nearby National Museum of African American History and Culture, also run by the Smithsonian. More than 95 percent of Native Americans were killed by European immigrants, either through violence or the diseases that Europeans brought (which then spread via mosquito). Their land was stolen. Yet their museum is mostly positive and celebrates Indian achievements in art and culture. The African American museum, on the other hand, is at least 2/3rds negative, focusing on African Americans as victims. A railroad car with identical (but separate) seating for blacks and whites, for example, gets a sign explaining how the black passengers were deprived of “oversized luggage bins” and a chair inside the restroom:

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Boeing’s attack on the Bombardier fly-by-wire regional jet

“How Boeing Tried to Kill a Great Airplane—and Got Outplayed” (Daily Beast) has a lot of good background on the Bombardier CSeries (Airbus A220), an evolution of the Canadair Regional Jet that I used to fly. I knew that the airplane had a geared turbofan engine for fuel efficiency, but I hadn’t realized that it was fully fly-by-wire (as long as the software works, impossible to have a Boeing 737 MAX-style catastrophe).

The article shows that critical importance of political connections in the U.S. business world:

Boeing’s formidable Washington lobbying machine swung into action. Dennis Muilenburg, the Boeing CEO, had already cozied up to President Trump by agreeing to cut the costs of the future Air Force One jets. In September 2017, the Commerce Department announced a killing blow to Bombardier, imposing a 300 percent duty on every C Series sold in the U.S.

The story of how Airbus outfoxed the high-paid Boeing executives is interesting.

One thing that the article does not explain is why Boeing executives moved the HQ from Seattle to Chicago. Why would high-paid workers want to be in Illinois with a 5 percent income tax rather than in Washington State with no income tax? (the family law is radically different in the two states as well; Illinois offers plaintiffs unlimited child support profits while Washington caps revenue at about $400,000 (tax-free) for one child)

I’m not sure that I agree with the conclusion:

Boeing provides no end of a lesson in how a great company can lose its moxie because of an indecent lust for short-term gain. It used to be the classic American can-do company. Now it can’t do anything right.

How do we know that Boeing is imploding due to a decision to seek short-term profits? Since the company’s problems are primarily engineering failures, why couldn’t it be that the quality of engineers the company is able to hire is not as high as in the 1960s? Americans with excellent quantitative skills have a lot more career choices today, most of which pay better than working at Boeing.

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