Sunday, September 30, 2007

Resting the Mind, Wasting the Time

I am on hiatus and will be back Monday or Tuesday next week--that's October 8. It's a relief, really, to not be blogging nonstop, but I am also suffering pangs of guilt daily. Blogging is a disorder.

Because of my location, I'm mainly getting my news via cable. There are three topics:

  1. The freak in Nevada who raped that little girl.
  2. Myanmar
  3. John Edwards' racist remark about black men.
If I watched exclusively cable for my news, I'd be profoundly depressed. How do the news organizations live with themselves? They are so superficial and empty.

Other news:

So, Duke's President apologizes. And he's going to help other institutions navigate such difficulties? What horse dooky. Parents, don't let your children to grow up to be Devils (for more than one reason.)

There is more Columbia talk. Meh. Who am I kidding?

I just don't have the enthusiasm to pay attention right now. It's not that I think there's nothing important happening, it's just that other, more important things are happening for me, here.

The important thing I'm doing? Nothing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

10 Rules For Health

With the ridiculous new research about getting precisely 7 hours sleep, I thought I'd review some ways to stay healthy, easily.

  1. Be happy. Happiness means a happy heart.
  2. Have lots of friends and family and pets.
  3. Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you're full.
  4. Sleep when you're tired.
  5. Eat 80% fruits and veggies 20% protein. Eat it if it's walked the earth or grown on the earth. You'll get your carbs, don't worry.
  6. Exercise. Incorporate physical activity into your daily life--park in the back of the lot, climb the stairs, walk the dog, dig out the weeds, mow the lawn, ride your bike with the wife, play catch with the kids. Walking and swimming are the best aerobic exercises that protect joints. Thirty minutes a day will do ya.
  7. Avoid smoking, go light on caffeine, moderate on alcohol, and steer clear of recreational drugs. Pot might not kill you, but it won't build your health.
  8. Learn something new. It will get you naturally high. Really. An active mind is a healthy mind.
  9. Viral and bacterial infections are a sign that you need to slow down and de-stress. Slow. Down. Rest. Drink water. Avoid dairy.
  10. Stay in the moment. Mental health problems come from dwelling in the past and being mad about it=depression. Or worrying about the future=anxiety. In the moment, you can't do either. So stay busy.
Oh, and there's another one. In fact, it's the most important:

Go to church. People who go to church are healthier. Belief in God, higher thoughts, prayer, joyous worship (singing ups endorphins), and community help keep you healthy. Just make sure you clean your hands after shaking all those hands. Most bugs are passed by human contact, not through the air. And um, men, you're the worst offenders. Wash your hands for Pete's sake!

Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

Good news. And it works better than medication.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Country of Mass Murderers--UPDATED

As more stories emerge from the Holocaust, many wonder at the average people doing above average work at jobs that never should have been. Truly, you must go look at the pictures. The jolly laughter during the photo shoot by the young women running toward the camera collides with the reality that these same beautiful girls were shaving the heads and sending women, men and children to gas chambers just down the road. Roger Cohen calls them "fresh faced and playful" in his Op-Ed Down Time From Murder. That's right. By the way, they were mass murderers.

Americans were rightly horrified at the image of Lynndie England making fun of naked or semi-dressed, humiliated Iraqi prisoners. Her friends report that the person in the picture was not the person they knew before her time in Iraq. No doubt, this is true. But the woman did take a psychological journey with her physical one. What happened?

Clearly, she de-individualized the prisoners. One could make the psychological case for dehumanizing an enemy who would as soon kill you, exterminate you, as look at you. Especially for an angry young woman, taunting an ostensible misogynist or killer of a friend might be conceivable. That is, it is possible to rationalize how she got from soldier to persecutor. It is possible to understand how she might lose her humanity and debase herself facing an enemy who would kill her given the opportunity. It's also why it was understandable to see men rejoice at the hanging of Saddam. It wasn't comfortable to look at, one migt disapprove perhaps, but one could understand.

The innate sense of justice most people have recognizes the eye for an eye. Capital punishment is a form of justice that equalizes the losses. A murderer, by his choice, forfeits his life. The world is rid of his potential further harm. The family of the victim knows that the perpetrator won't get the benefit lost to the victim: life.

But what of innocent victims? How did German "nurses" justify killing children?

Actually, it's probably rather simple. The Germans viewed the Jews as villains. Eventually the Jews very existence was a threat. The Jews deserved to die. Step two is to dehumanize the villain. They aren't really human. Step three is distance oneself from actions. Rationalizing can be I'm only cutting their hair or I'm only giving them a shower or I'm stuck in this job so I need to do my best. Step four is denying responsibility, i.e. engaging in group think. John is doing it, I respect John, so it must be OK. When the group is responsible the responsibility is to the group members.

Germany demonstrated psychopathic tendencies en masse. Here's a description from the Slate article about the Columbine killer Eric Harris, deemed by experts as a psychopath:

"Psychopaths are not disoriented or out of touch with reality, nor do they experience the delusions, hallucinations, or intense subjective distress that characterize most other mental disorders," writes Dr. Robert Hare, in Without Conscience, the seminal book on the condition. "Unlike psychotic individuals, psychopaths are rational and aware of what they are doing and why. Their behavior is the result of choice, freely exercised."
The German people, though were rational and aware of what they were doing and why. They chose.

Were the German people especially evil or do all people have the seeds to do something equally destructive? I think it's the latter. I remember Stalin demonstrating how difficult it was to brave and morally courageous in the atmosphere he created. The quote eludes me. Expedience rules the day, eventually.

For the victims and the world, it was incomprehensible what Hitler, his minions and his thousands of servants planned to do. And that's the point of a telegenic guy like Ahmadinejad. Too many people can't imagine he means it. His population hasn't bought into his rhetoric and that's the difference between Iran and Germany, at least thus far.

A whole country desiring to externalize blame for internal misery, an hypnotic speaker, authoritarianism, bureaucratic detachment and dehumanization make a powerful stew to breed psychopaths. The whole society reinforced asocial behavior.

Because humans can choose, they can choose badly. Ironically, the desire to control free will ends up resulting in the unintended, or too often, intended, consequence: a monolithic, authoritarian Borg-like creature imposing its will on the masses and eventually their enemy.

The only possibility is to guard as individuals against the impulse to control. It's also important to pick leaders who will guard against the impulse to control.

UPDATE: One of the big problems with the Left these days is their projection and utter lack of perspective. Painting the country in fascist terms displays a lack of respect for true fascist regimes and the death and destruction those regimes wrought. Here's an example that John Hawkins highlights:
When *ss-kissing chickensh*t David Petraeus lied his *ss off before Congress about the failed "surge", capitol hill police tackled and arrested a pentecostal minister, damaging his ankle in the process.
...If you think America isn't undergoing the same slide into fascist dictatorship today as Germany did in the 1930s, you're kidding yourself.

...Those two reasons, more than the brutal assaults on people and the First Amendment, are why America is devolving into a bad replay of Nazi Germany. The lack of national outrage, to the point we do something about it; and the support of it by mindless groupthinkers in society who are so stupid they think it's a good thing that we're being subjected to tyranny.
John says, "It is nothing less than borderline mental illness masquerading as political thought and it is the rule, not the exception, on the Left today."

These people ignore the obvious: no jack boot is kicking them in the head, putting them in jail or denying their free speech. It's called disagreement and diversity of opinion. That the whole populace doesn't drink the same crazy juice doesn't mean they're fascists. But the Left continues display complete intolerance for a differing opinion about policies, diplomacy, and strategy.

It is exactly those intent on imposing their views who make me nervous. And the fascist rhetoric needs to be saved. It's insulting to people who endured real fascists.

UPDATE AGAIN: From LGF, a simpler explanation of Why?

Courting Killer: Columbia Was Chosen For A Reason

It now seems that Ahmadinejad chose Columbia (they didn't invite him) because of Columbia's storied past. Columbia invited Hitler's envoy. This was what then President Butler said:

In response, President Butler harrumphed something about how Columbia "does not ask what a man's opinions may be but only whether he is intelligent, honest, and well-mannered in their presentation and discussion. There is no subject which a company of scholars such as that assembled on Morningside Heights, is not prepared to have presented to it by a man or woman of high intelligence and good manners, and to hear fully discussed and debated." When the "well-mannered" Herr Luther made his appearance on Morningside Heights, it seems only to have whetted the Nazi lust — and to have established a precedent for abasement. It turned out that the only kind of intercourse the Nazis understood was the kind conducted by General Eisenhower, who not only liberated Europe but went on to Morningside Heights, where he brought great distinction to the presidency of the University.
Columbia's modern president shows the same kind of moral obtuseness and it's astounding. Because Ahmadinejad spits his venom at a common enemy, George Bush, a good portion of the Left don't mind that the poison would ultimately kill them, too.

This is where consuming hatred gets a person: the line between rage and suicide blends. Would Dean Coatsworth rather die than honor his own country? If Ahmadinejad has his way, everything Western, American, Israeli, Jewish and Democratic will give way to Sharia and death squads and extermination. Dean Coatsworth would not be spared this fate, his lofty ideals notwithstanding. Back to a quoted Jeff Goldstein post of yor:
And so we have Islamic fascists exploiting the postmodern rhetorical assumptions of a western socialist / progressivist left in order to bring about the spread of totalitarianism.
Goldstein says today:
"Of course we’d invite Hitler to speak”
So says the Dean of Columbia. Sadly, no follow-up question asking how he might react should der Fuhrer get a little tipsy at the post-speech cocktail party and order his band of traveling storm troopers to stuff a dozen or so gypsies, a gay couple, and 6 million Jews into one of the caterer’s mobile convection ovens.

Which is a shame, really, because I think there’s half a chance we’d have been treated to a bit about “respecting cultural differences.

It is doubtless that Ahmadinejad knows Columbia's history. He chose Columbia for a reason. He knows our history even if the scholars choose to forget theirs. These Western elites don't mind being played for fools. Again. That's why I don't call them Useful Idiots. They are worse than useful because they are not idiots. They are intelligent. They know the game and they have chosen a side and they don't stand for freedom, no matter how they spin it. They stand for oppression and extermination. Anyone with any sense will revile them. Men like Dean Coatsworth are disgusting human beings.

P.S. This is the same institution who wouldn't allow the Minutemen to engage in the free exchange of ideas. Some ideas are more "correct" than others.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Israeli Rabbi Disses Christians

Well, this seems weird. For over twenty-five years, Christian groups have traveled to Israel to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, but this year, Israels Chief Rabbi is calling the practice into question because he believes Christians are trying to proselytize:

"According to information that has reached the chief rabbinate, there are participants in this conference who convert Jews to Christianity and perform missionary activity throughout the year," said Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, the chief rabbi of Rehovot, who took part in committee discussions of the matter. "This is against the law, so the chief rabbinate is calling upon Jews not to take part in the conference."

Israel has laws against missionary work, and for many here, proselytizing is dangerously close to the forced conversions European Jews endured for centuries.


According to the Old Testament Book of Zechariah, all nations will make pilgrimages to Jerusalem in the messianic era to celebrate Sukkot. Christians have interpreted this to mean that Sukkot is a holiday where Jews welcome non-Jews to join them in celebration in Jerusalem.
With all the danger from without, I hardly think a hardline stance against Christians makes sense. They seem to be the least of Israel's worries these days.

Hillary Clinton: The Teflon Girl

It seems to me that Hillary Clinton's ubiquity plays to her favor. As grating as her voice is, as phony as the laugh is, as contradictory as her stances are, her willingness to go everywhere is the meta message. She wants it. In case anyone doubted that fact, which no one does. But Americans admire the fighters. And right now, I think that Hillary looks like a fighter.

In her language, she still, without irony, casts herself as the underdog. Can a woman be a big dog? The women candidates campaign as little women. That's tiresome, but I guess it works.

She's playing politics like a big dog, scandalizing like a Clinton big dog, and playing the election like a little girl.

Hillary Clinton may just be the Teflon Girl.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yom Kippur: A National Holiday?

Ed Cone has a point:

Yom Kippur is a day of introspection and not eating, and if there was ever a culture in need of introspection and not eating, we're it. Raised on hedonism and credit cards, Americans make every day a holiday and every meal a feast, to the point of devaluing actual holidays and feasts. We have name-branded golden calves and a television show called American Idol. At the same time, we are encouraged to think of ourselves as victims, not to take responsibility for ourselves. We could all use some of the dermabrasion for the soul that Yom Kippur promises.

On Yom Kippur, the idea is to take responsibility for who you are, and how you conduct yourself, how you treat other people, and how you are planning to do better at all those things in the year ahead. You are obligated to make things whole with those you have wronged, and to come to terms with those who have wronged you. This is the occasion to get right with God, which traditionally involves hours of prayer and fasting, along with a semi-annual visit to temple for twice-a-year Jews.

I would like to add this about the Day of Atonement (which I observe, yes I'm a strange Christian): Spending 24 hours without food and drink does tend to put the self in perspective. With a full belly, the world is yours. Starving, head-achy, empty and intensely food-focused, it becomes abundantly clear how fragile we humans are. Hunger is humbling.

In addition, the absence of food makes thinking easier. I don't know why, exactly, but even healthy food can bloat and release toxins, free of food, the mind thinks better. So, it's a great time to take stock and atone and seek forgiveness and forgive.

Ed Cone's idea is a good one. Americans can be fat and stupid. Better to be slim and smart--at least for one day a year.

Friday, September 21, 2007

How Civics Smart Are You?

I only got 80% right. Who here didn't take an Econ class and went to public school? That would be me. How'd you do? (Go here to take the 60 Q test.) After homeschooling my kids, though, I expect to ace it.

H/T Anchoress

Doctors Are Too Rich

According to the informed New York Times readership, doctors are too rich. Ann Coulter doesn't buy it. I can't think of any doctors who do either. Here's what Ann says:

In college, my roommate was in the chemistry lab Friday and Saturday nights while I was dancing on tables at the Chapter House. A few years later, she was working 20-hour days as a resident at Mount Sinai doing liver transplants while I was frequenting popular Upper East Side drinking establishments. She was going to Johns Hopkins for yet more medical training while I was skiing and following the Grateful Dead. Now she vacations in places like Rwanda and Darfur with Doctors Without Borders while I'm going to Paris.

Has anyone else noticed the nonexistence of a charitable organization known as "Lawyers Without Borders"?

She makes $380 for an emergency appendectomy, or one-ten-thousandth of what John Edwards made suing doctors like her, and one-fourth of what John Edwards' hairdresser makes for a single shag cut.

Edwards made $30 million bringing nonsense lawsuits based on junk science against doctors. To defend themselves from parasites like Edwards, doctors now pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical malpractice insurance every year.
You know, it's amazing. The Democrats will defend to their dying day, an ineffective, outdated, unaccountable educational system while going after people who sacrifice a good chunk of their lives going to school to help heal people.

I fear that a Democrat as President will have a chilling affect on innovation, research, and creative care. They want a one-size fits all solution, they want one-size-fits-all doctors to bring that solution. The only problem is that people are not one size. Both patients and doctors are unique beings.

Why does it seem like this next election we'll be getting Jimmy Carter if the Republicans can't put up a decent candidate? Health care won't be the only thing to suffer.

Exercise Stops Depression As Well As Meds

Good news depression sufferers! You just need to get moving-if you're a depressed person inclined to exercise. Although, that's usually just the problem. If you're depressed you don't want to do anything, including exercise. But maybe, if doctors start prescribing personal trainers or the gym, people will kick depression that way.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Marxism Is Fun In Theory & Why Blowing Up Yourself Can Sound Like A Good Idea

I haven't been blogging as much since teaching the little ones. (Today, we learned about Egypt, Turkey, The Kurds, and Syria. Yes, we did.) Because of being otherwise detained with a business deal, too, reading has become secondary, especially web reading.

Shrinkwrapped knocked this out of the park, though, explaining why Marxism is dangerous. He tells this story:

In college, I dabbled in radical politics. I went to many anti-war demonstrations as a teenager. I enjoyed the frisson of rebellion that the Psychedelic 60s was shrouded within, yet a single incident awoke me to the reality that I would never be a good Marxist. I had been intrigued by Trotsky, the idea of constant revolution was fascinating to someone who wished to resist falling into the predicted and predictable path I feared I was on. On campus was a well established group of young Trotskyites, the Young Socialist Alliance. They were involved in various protests, which were always enjoyable, not least for the presence of many nubile, young radical women who approved of radical young men. One fateful day I stopped by the YSA table to find out more about them. I made a joking reference to the previous weekend's demonstration and discovered that the leader of the group was a young man who was incredibly humorless. He proceeded to lecture me (hectored me, perhaps) with a diatribe on how much commitment was necessary for the revolution to succeed and how there was no room for humor in the revolution; this was deadly serious business fighting the oppressors and jokes had no place in it.

I thought he was a complete jerk; I also thought he was a very dangerous jerk. This was the kind of person who would have no trouble condemning someone for thought crimes. If that was the kind of person who was attracted to Marxism, perhaps I wasn't as much of a radical as I fancied.

Years later I can still recall him, with a Che Guevara beard, intense eyes, and a complete lack of humor or humanity. Any revolution that condemned humor was not a revolution for me.

Rage at a cruel and withholding universe (often a derivative of infantile frustration) is difficult to tolerate. Most of us, with good-enough parenting, come to temper our infantile frustrations (which have roots in our infantile grandiosity which is so painful to give up) by using our loving ties to our parents to metabolize the rage which would otherwise be so destructive. Those unfortunates who cannot do so via love are left enraged and searching for ways to offload the rage to an external victim. Ideologies that enable such offloading attract the angry and the failed and it is through this pathway that Marx (the angry, anti-Semitic hater of religion) and the Islamists (descended from Qutb, the angry, anti-Semitic hater of secularism) find their true identity.
That all-consuming anger, that root of bitterness, gives a place to the devil. It reminds me of a scripture in Ephesians, chapter 4 verse 27:
“Be angry, and do not sin”:[f] do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.
There are many people in the world giving the devil ample room to do his work.

Why Columbia Invited A Terrorist (Ahmadinejad) To Speak

Jeff Goldstein explains the emotionalizing by Columbia and academic elites. It's certainly not reasoning. There is nothing reasonable about giving this thug a platform of legitimacy. Of course, calling him a terrorist and exterminator wannabe would be judgmental:

Or, to put it another way, Summers’ arguments amount to hate speech within the enlightened paradigm of post-Enlightenment thinking. Whereas Ahmanidinajihadi’s arguments must be viewed through the prism of Islamic fundamentalism, which we cannot presume to understand, and so are in no position to judge.

Well, until we’re willing to strap on a vest and shred some Jews for Allah, that is.

Make you a deal, though: the minute an Islamic fundamentalist criticizes his Islamic fundamentalism, we will construe that as a valid criticism. Before we dismiss it as the criticism of one who, by virtue of that criticism, is no longer an authentic Islamic fundamentalist, and so is no longer granted the kind of authenticity necessary to level a legitimate critique of Islamic fundamentalism.

— Which, if that seems a bit counterintuitive, we can chalk up to a fidelity to western modes of “logic” that require the kind of intellectual consistency that is no longer obligatory under post-Enlightenment paradigms. Because western “logic,” grounded as it is in western assumptions, may not jibe with Islamic fundamentalist logic, which is grounded in competing assumptions that, like our own, are but a function of a particular consensus — no more “right” or “wrong” than our own.
If this seem convoluted, that's kinda the point.

Viewing France Askance No More

LEFT: Mmmm, Blanc de Blanc. Evil sister who never gave up French product pictured.

A nice and neat little New York Times editorial by Roger Cohen sums up many Americans new view of France. Sarkozy might preside over a divided France, much as President Bush does here, but his talk and actions have done more to make Paris relevant on the world stage again than all the bloviating and equivocating of Jacques Chirac. Chirac dreamed of such importance. It could have been his, too. All it would have taken is some moral courage and well, morals. Instead Franco-American relationships languished and Europe seemed destined for the scrap heap of history. Well, we'll all end up there, eventually. France just seemed determined to get there sooner.

I don't know why, exactly, but a more solid relationship with our Gallic brothers is encouraging. The conflicts troubling the world seem overwhelming on a good day. To be at such odds with France, when France and America ostensibly hold many of the same beliefs dear was distressing.

No more French wine boycott for me (I wasn't alone). The cheese? Well, that wasn't such a loss. My sister kept France in their cheese and wine, though. I'm not sure my boycott mattered much. According to this, though, maybe it did matter. I take longer to make a decision and to unmake it than most, so I'm probably a boycott straggler. Actually, a trip to France sounds good about now. Who knows?

Isn't it just loverly to consider it?

Glynn Washington, NPR Superstar!

I have a childhood friend who now lives in Oakland, California. He is one of the smartest guys I know, kind, funny as heck and fun to be around. Well, he's in this NPR competition to get a radio show. He's a finalist and doing fantastic. He is as far to the West of me politically as I am to the East, but I have many friends like that. It keeps things interesting and spicy. What we have in common is more important: we want to keep America the greatest place in the world.

Would you please help me by helping him win a show on NPR? Here's the link. You need to register to vote.

Go, Glynn, go!

Parenting At 20 Or 40 Makes A Difference

I have a daughter who arranges her Webkins at bedtime. So does James Lileks and his post mentioning Gnat put a lump in my throat:

Gnat lost a tooth today. It was the second upper front tooth. Gives her a nice cheerful ogre look. It went right under the pillow, of course. Later I checked my wallet to see if I had a dollar to slide in the place of the tooth; only a fiver. That seemed excessive. I asked her what she expected from the Dental Familiar, and she said “well, a dime? Maybe even a quarter.” There’s something about the quarter. It has inherent heft. It’s one corner of a dollar, the cornerstone currency. Unfortunately for her, I hoard quarters for the parking meter. I let no quarter go uncorralled. Once upon a time I saved quarters for pinball; now they serve the slakeless mouth of the armless sentinel who lines the streets of the city, he said, overwriting as fast as possible. I had a JFK half-dollar on hand, though, so that’ll do. It should surprise her, since I’m not sure she’s seen one. It’s BIG, and that counts.

She arranged her Pokemons and Webkins to greet the Tooth Fairy. You reach for your Fixative Spray to ensure that they’ll always be this age, but of course if you had such a thing you would have used it long ago. And aren’t you glad you didn’t.

My daughter arranges her Webkins before bed. She lines up the doll babies. She's putting the full-court-press on for a puppy--that's been going on for a year now, two years really, since our dog died. My daughter now sports a pair of big, front, Gary Bussey teeth that are way out of proportion to her remaining baby teeth. I want that Fixative Spray because it seems like every parent of teenagers wishes they had used it at just this age.

Did our parents have this awareness of time marching on, ebbing away (to mix my metaphors and similes and parts of speech) like we seem to? One result of elderly parenthood is that a good chunk of life has been lived; the elderly parent has a sense of time. Time awareness is lost on a 22 year old and my mom was 20 when she had me.

I try to imagine what being 20 and a mother must have felt like. Less thought would go into every developmental stage, that much I know. It had to be more action-oriented and functional. It was more action-oriented and functional. At 20, the world still seems safe and no wrong can happen. That optimism is good. Maybe that's why kids ran amok in neighborhoods. A young parent could be out rolling in the mud at Woodstock or playing the best tennis of her life as easily as having babies so maybe youth contributed to kid freedom. Well, youth and the fact that most moms were actually in the neighborhood--not supervising necessarily, but being there.

It's not that elderly parenting is a bad thing. Wisdom comes with age, temperance, the full knowledge that children are far more important than that business meeting, even if the meeting can't be missed. Perhaps that elevation, too, has contributed to the narcissism that has been written about so much. Little kids today are placed on fluffy pillows in the center of a hermetically sealed universe surrounded by Webkins. Kinda. Certainly, children today don't have the freedom the Gen Xers or Boomers had when they were kids.

I worry about these things. And then, I worry that I worry too much. That's just the point! It never seemed like parents of a generation or two ago worried much, though I'm sure they did. But you know what I mean. "Eh, see you at dinner!" It was noon. "Be back before dark!" It was breakfast. No worries. How could anyone send their kids on ten hour adventures such as those and have worries?

The only solution I've found is to have a bunch of kids. The younger ones get progressively wilder, braver, calmer and more confident. Mom is tired, relaxed, distracted, and more confident. There is no micromanaging a slew of kids. Once they out-number you, you're in trouble, but they're in luck. What a forty-year-old parent can't give a kid, maybe a big sister or brother can.

There were many benefits to have kids young. Maybe the Western world will come back around to that parenting model again, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bush Twins Vs. Chelsea Clinton

Score one for the Republican girls who have dedicated themselves to public service.

One thought comes to mind, though. Chelsea's parents were in public service but have no record of accomplishment in the private sector. That has been a big criticism, and one that is important to keep in mind with the Presidential ambitions of both Clinton and Obama. Chelsea's decision to make her mark in the private sector could be viewed as a response to that criticism.

Likewise, a criticism of the Bush family is that they are no-talent ass clowns entitled by name and wealth. In essence, they are the rich, white guy's version of affirmative action. G.W. would be a nobody if it weren't for his daddy, blah, blah, blah. In addition, it is common knowledge that Rethuglicans are all about the almighty dollar and hate the little people. By serving the world's poor, sick and needy, the Bush twins blunt that criticism. They could have joined a hedge fund, instead they're reaching out to the less fortunate.

In some ways, all the girls are rebelling (or conforming to political expedience, depending on your viewpoint) against expectations. Chelsea is still the daughter of a guy from Hope, Arkansas. She has something to prove against the very elite the Clintons alternately despise and aspire to belong to. Chelsea ain't no hillbilly. And the Bush girls aren't empty-headed, hard-hearted privileged debutantes. Maybe if they feed enough AIDs patients, people will cut them some slack.

The major difference is political stripe. The Bush girls are doomed to bad press--they're children of Republicans. Chelsea is destined for lavish praise--she's a Democrat.

H/T Conservative Grapevine

Iran's Crazy Men

On the same day Ahmadinejad asks to visit Ground Zero, Iran is said to be putting together plans to attack Israel.

There might be a time to have U.S. troops out of that viper pit just so they don't end up in the fallout--literally.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Robert Jordan Dead

Many of you might not care, but Robert Jordan author of the Wheel of Time series died Sunday. A friend of mine started me on the series while I was in Chiropractic college. I vacuumed them all up and continued on with them. They fill up a shelf by my Tolkien books.

Jordan created a fantastic world filled by male and female energies. He captures gender perspectives, political realities and cultural differences and folds them into a believable world. If you haven't read his stuff and you enjoy fantasy, get started. It will take a while to get through them all, but it's a break from reality.

Some people read romance novels. I read fantasy. Told you I was a nerd.

H/T Glenn Reynolds

Monday, September 17, 2007

Home Schooling: Week 3, Is the Honeymoon Over?

First of all is it Home Schooling or Homeschooling? I see it both ways and I don't know the proper usage and it bugs me.

Both kids were in a puddle of tears today. I'd say that's a resounding success. Why were they crying? I actually pushed them to comprehend what they were reading. They had to write a one paragraph summary of the story thus far. The faucets turned on when they had to re-write the sentences into something coherent. That's called editing. Not that I do it, but do as I say and all that. The paragraph summary will be happening every day from now on, they've been informed. They're not happy.

".....Elementary School was so much easier!" Wahhh!

Yes it was. Welcome to Dr. Melissa's den of home school horrors. You can enter any time you like, but you can never leave.

After reading through the curriculum, I realized that I hadn't been mindful of any goals for this education other than get through the pre-made syllabus every day. But after training my mind with the book The Well Trained Mind, I decided that I needed to be more focused.

My goal is simple: Comprehension. I want my children to actually understand what they're learning. Memorization is the foundation, of course, but if they don't "get it", especially the Autistic one, the kids might as well be a computer. So I renewed my math and writing teaching efforts. And the vocabulary test is long and challenging. And they hate it.

But then we jumped in the pool, while the other kids were still in school and all was right with the world.

When does the honeymoon end? Because this one hasn't lasted long at all.

Worth Noting

Gateway Pundit reports the outrage of Sunni and Shia toward Al Qaeda. The locals make quick work of the bad guys.

Mark Steyn notes that loving the enemy won't make the enemy go away:

We should beware anyone who seeks to explain 9/11 by using the words "each other": They posit a grubby equivalence between the perpetrator and the victim – that the "failure to understand" derives from the culpability of both parties. The 9/11 killers were treated very well in the United States: They were ushered into the country on the high-speed visa express program the State Department felt was appropriate for young Saudi males. They were treated cordially everywhere they went. The lap-dancers at the clubs they frequented in the weeks before the Big Day gave them a good time – or good enough, considering what lousy tippers they were. Sept. 11 didn't happen because we were insufficient in our love to Mohamed Atta.
Amen, brother Mark. Another reason I'm not a pacifist.

And here's another reason. CQ and Ace (Purple Avenger)shine light on this embarrassment. Can you imagine your mother and sister calling your CO because Annapolis is a military school. Who knew?
I must confess, I always thought Annapolis was a marketing arm of Kellogg and was commanded by Captain Crunch, so this naturally came as quite a surprise to me.

One of the reasons I love the web, apart from the insightful commentary and people filled with wit and intelligence, is indulging in other people's indulgences. For example, LaShawn Barber loves Hanson, the music group. While I'm neutral on Hanson, her love for Hanson makes me smile. The Anchoress loves Derek Jeter and Brin and opera in general. I do enjoy opera, but don't listen to enough. I find that I seek silence as often as not--it's noisy with kids around. So I listen to her choices and get filled up. Ann Althouse is an amateur photographer. Her choices of subjects reveal as much as her writing does.

Michael Yon posts a MUST read. I know, I know. I say that all the time, but it's true. Read this line: "Our military is a powerful tribe." Now, don't you want to go see how powerful?

More evidence of what to expect when the economy melts down. And things don't look so great here either. And they won't be good here, and by here, I mean Here, America, if this continues.

And here's some disappointing news for my sister. Barry Manilow refuses to play on the view because he might be around one of Those People. So much for diversity and inclusion, 'eh Barry? So sad, how narrow-minded and prejudiced people can be.

The New Nano

Even the commercial bugs me, so the whole marketing Babel that is Apple seems askew this time. The fatness bothers me, too. James Lileks says:

Anyway. I looked at the Nano, marveled at the screen, played with Cover Flow, held it in my hand, said a silent hosannah for the miracles of modern technology, then left the store without one. Because I don’t like it. I should check the tank to see if the Kool-Aid level is low, but I’ve never liked the new Nano. It’s too squat and stubby for my tastes. Naturally, this means that people who do like it are wrong and have no aesthetic sense and I sneer at them, preferably from behind a pseudonym on a gadget-blog comments section where I tout the virtues of another player that weighs six pounds and has an interface that makes a wall of Egyptian heiroglyphs look like a Dick and Jane primer.
New technology does breed sneering. And it does breed cheering. This I cheer for. I almost told the husband, but I see a gift in his future and so I refrained from sharing the cheering. I keep thinking we'll be on gadget overload. I keep thinking wrong.

Illegal Immigration & Economic Woe

Maxed Out Mama discusses the economic situation in Europe which mirrors problems in the U.S. market and economy. Much of the problem there, like here, was driven by housing speculation and illegal immigration. She says:

The danger that non-stakeholder immigration poses to an economy is universal. See this 2005 Bear Sterns commentary on the illegal American workers. The study discusses the problem of miscalculating the cost of public services, but ignores another fundamental: non-stakeholder immigration (any immigration which causes the immigrants to be excluded as a class from full rights in the society, whether by legal means or by sub rosa means) inflates some assets, notably rental housing, short-term, but lowers the overall capacity of the population to consume long-term, which eventually causes a cycle of deflation. The problem with immigration in Europe is nearly universal; generally high taxation rates prevent even legal immigrants from accumulating capital.
I'm no economist, but it seems to me that illegal immigration is like living together and not being married. The illegals don't feel tied to the country and when a family situation, job or something changes that was unexpected, they leave. This would hold even with a sophisticated guest worker program. (And, watching the immigration debacle continue unabated, what evidence is there that the government will be able to manage this guest worker beast?) We Americans use the illegal immigrants for cheap labor and services, use them up, and send them packing once they've served out their usefulness. The relationship is selfish all the way around, and doomed to failure in principle.

Legal immigrants are married to the success of the country and make different decisions about their future. America needs to make becoming a legal immigrant more efficient.

Illegal immigration will be visited again. As the economy continues to soften, scapegoats will be sought. This concerns me most of all. And scapegoats will be found all over. Some will deserve the wrath they receive.

The latest round-ups of illegals seems to be what MOM has pointed to in the past--an attempt to relieve the tension amongst legal citizen's economic outlook. As more legal citizens lose their jobs, they'll go back to doing "jobs Americans won't do". I see these round-ups as the worst sort of policy. It's ruthless and craven. It's wrong.

The government seems to be conceding that they're incapable of keeping illegal immigrants on their side of the border. It's much easier to find the people who are working. Why isn't the government rounding up the gang-bangers? Well, they're not taking jobs "Americans won't do", for one.

The Anchoress believes that the hardliners might be changing their minds. I object to the notion that people opposed to the bill were "hardliners". The economic realities underlying illegal immigration must be dealt with and recognized in order to understand the problem and create a workable solution. As for changing minds, I don't think so. Even though I voted for President Bush twice and am proud of those votes, I have respectfully disagreed with his position on the issue from the beginning. That is, I'm not a one-issue voter. But I do believe his solution would have been like Reagan's solution: delaying the inevitable for the next generation and the next. It could be argued that the stalemate does the same. True enough, but it won't involve junky legislation that further threatens our national security.

The policy of viewing illegals as a commodity and not people, will cause untold grief worldwide. Economic instability is just the beginning. How will the corrupt countries deal with their vast, poor hoards when Tier 1 economies can no longer support their workers? Civil unrest will be the next step. The step beyond that? Externalization. That is, countries with obliterated economies due to their own corruption, will look at, with envy, their neighbors. Military dominance within will be the first step. Military actions without will be the next step.

Watch Venezuela. Watch Nigeria. Watch Iran. Watch any corrupt country that suffers economic hardships. The reaction from Germany to Japan is always the same: externalize blame, install authoritarian regime who promises that state's version of utopia, become militarily aggressive. That's the problem with Mexico in the future. It was almost the problem in Mexico's last election. A guest worker program, where no guests are wanted because the economy is tanking, will mean little. America is poised on the edge of not wanting or needing illegal immigrants.

The proposed solution ignored the overall economic reality. The big picture has been obscured with all this infighting and false dichotomies between pragmatism and idealism. In this case, everyone has been idealistic and continues to ignore the root causes.

O.J. Denied Bail

So the Juice is where he belongs. My husband noted, and I concur, that it seems like public sentiment drives these kind of decisions now, not what is right or just. Judges and prosecutors seem to find which way the wind blows and do what's politically expedient.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

France Threatens Iran with War

It's amazing how much a country changes when their leadership changes.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ah, The Mammaries

Dr. Helen posts today about a woman with a four month old who wants special breaks during her Med Boards to pump or nurse her daughter. During the nine hour test, she gets 45 minutes in breaks. Dr. Helen, herself, leaked all over her Psych Boards, leaving behind a three week old at home. LaShawn Barber says:

*Sigh* Silly girls wearing stethoscopes. :?

If she were an on-call surgeon required to drop everything and get to the hospital ASAP to perform emergency surgery, is she going to whine about pumping then? Who will she sue — the patient?

If we women want to be equal to men, we’ve got to roll with it, know what I mean? No extra time to get the job done. No dumbed-down standards. Equal means equal, gals.

Ah, the good old days. Their stories recall to mind being heavily pregnant with twins and taking my final board examinations. I was huge and had to do all sorts of orthopedic tests, sham adjustments, etc. That is, that Board exam had a couple practical sections--I wasn't sitting behind a desk thinking deep thoughts the whole time. At that point in my pregnancy, I wasn't thinking much of anything. I was so fried, in fact, that I didn't prepare. I played the odds. I counted on my long term memory. Boards are graded on a curve. I did a simple calculation before the exam: I think I'm smarter than at least half of these people. My friends were terrified for me.

I did pass the exam, thankfully. I can't imagine taking an exam suffering through let downs and and leaving a three week old. But I did notice this, each time I had a kid: My mental faculties seemed to miraculously bounce back after pregnancy (there is a window before exhaustion fugue sets in and the high right after birth wears off).

Back to the lady wanting special circumstances. Isn't there a compromise? Couldn't she be allowed to go pump after sections she finishes early--as long as she's supervised? That doesn't seem like a huge accommodation to me. It seems to be a humane response so the woman doesn't have to suffer the indignities of being a wet mess.

As for LaShawn's point about women waiting on their career. It has been a circuitous path for me. I had a special needs child come out of that birth that required my full-time care. But there was really no better time for my schooling. And lots of women time the birth of their children with their graduations so they are no longer in school. And certain specialties in the medical profession are especially suitable to parenting, too. I have a MD friend who works part-time for 10 hours a week and makes more money than she could doing anything else and parents the rest of the time.

Just sayin'.

H/T Glenn Reynolds who says "GIVING A NEW MEANING to the term "breast exam."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Housing: Pricing Out the Working "Poor"

Seeing naked men dance on bars was not the strangest parts of visiting Key West a couple years ago believe it or not. The strangest was reading the housing section of the newspaper. A wealthy person could hardly afford to live there. How were the locals doing it? Little ramshackle homes weakened by termites and flooding crammed together on back streets and they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. People who lived or rented there shared their homes with others. But the majority of working people were being shipped in by bus each week from Miami, I was told.

And the workers in Key West didn't work very hard. One art dealer told me that he move to Key West from Michigan and was made manager by the wealthy owner within a month. He actually came to work, worked at work and felt tied to the success of the business. It was impossible to get good help, who spoke the language and could handle all aspects of the business. In another shop, the cookie sales girl had a masters and moved from Israel. She hung out with and lived with people she met. Key West was a place to travel through. She wasn't staying.

A service worker could not expect to work, live and raise a family in Key West. He couldn't expect to do that in Destin, Florida either or much of the Florida coast. And now, he can't expect to do that in parts of Connecticut and in San Francisco. I don't know how a truly middle class person lives in most of New Jersey or in and around New York City. Many people who would be comfortable in Houston feel poor in these places because all their income is sucked away in housing.

This is a huge problem.

The executive director of St. Luke's LifeWorks, the Rev. Dick Schuster, says Stamford and boomtowns like it should tackle the housing crisis out of self-interest.

"The people who are working in your restaurants, your fire and police departments, are all of a sudden finding they can no longer afford to live in the community where they work," he said. "And those who do choose to live in the community become the true working poor, hanging on by their thumbs."

What is the solution to this crunch? Are there to be service cities housing the servant class who get bussed to the wealthy areas?

In the planned community where I live, the solution has been apartments, low income housing, senior housing, and modest homes built next to village centers. People of modest means can walk to school, shopping, restaurants, etc. Heck, people of means can do the same thing. But the community was planned to include everyone at that outset.

To me, it's ironic that the bastions of liberalism like San Francisco, New York, Connecticut and Key West have ended up discriminating against those in the "lower classes". It is a problem, though, that will spread throughout the country if it isn't addressed.

How will the free market fix this problem? One thought is that good service will become extraordinarily expensive or non-existent so that the exclusive enclaves will become a double-edged sword. All the trappings of the rich will only be trappings for those of exceeding great wealth. Perhaps the mid-wealthy will move away to find better, more modest pastures. This is already happening around Silicon Valley.

This economic creep, where a teacher or police officer or grocery store manager is considered "poor" is distressing. These are good, middle class jobs that should earn enough for entry into home ownership where they work. Or, to me, they should.

Child Mortality Hits Record Low

Child mortality dropped because of easy, low-tech, and mostly nutritional improvements:

  1. Breast-feeding
  2. Vitamin A drops
  3. DDT spraying, draining swamps, and mosquito nets
  4. Immunizations
If hygiene and nutrition improve, babies live. If they aren't bit by nasty bugs, babies live. Pretty simple solutions, actually. But the most difficult solution is to end war:
Despite the improvement, two sets of countries have worsened, Unicef said: those in southern Africa that have been hit hardest by AIDS, and those that have been at war recently, like Congo and Sierra Leone.
Iraq is worse, too, but the numbers come from 2004 and the situation has dramatically changed. It also depends on the part of Iraq. Experts expect better overall numbers the next time the study is released:
Interestingly, Unicef officials said, the new estimate comes from household surveys done in 2005 or earlier, so they barely reflect the huge influx of money that has poured into third world health in the last few years from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Gates Foundation; and the Bush administration’s twin programs to fight AIDS and malaria. For that reason, the next five-year survey should show even greater improvement, they said.
This is good news.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Houssein Zorkot, A Dearborn, Michigan Terrorist That Isn't Getting Press

Houssein Zorkot, a Hezbollah loving, third-year medical student dress in camo, armed to the teeth was founding raving around a public park.

Have you heard about it? Didn't think so.

I'm just wondering if the government and press have some sort of agreement to keep all of these arrests and attacks off the radar so as to not induce copy-cats or give the bad guys more press. Or, if the press just doesn't want these stories out because they conflict with the narrative.

H/T Instapundit

Pharmacists Have Had It, Too

The web is full of all sorts of intelligent, um, incisive people. The Angry Pharmacist is my new favorite. Here's what he says about Medicaid users on Clomid (the drug that forces your ovaries to pop multiple eggs thus increasing your chance of pregnancy):

That sounds pretty much like welfare to me.

I dont know where you got the bum idea. Obviously you are so ignorant that you walk around with a Medicaid chip on your shoulder looking for a fight. The whole rant you were complaining about was that Medicaid patients (who you say are "dissabled and on ssi or welfare or medicaid") should not be entitled to fertility drugs. So am I mean for making a legit point? Or are you just an idiot for wanting to bring children into this world that you self-proclaim you cannot afford.

I'm not against having children (unless you're 14, more on that later), just not while you require society's dime to survive. I guess common sense like that is why I'm a pharmacist and you aren't.
My favorite post so far, though, is about Heather, The Human Shield. Heather is the poor dear fronting for Insurance companies looking to screw doctors and patients. Here's the Angry Pharmacist's take:
So it pains me to be upset when I hear Heather's voice on the other end. I know its not her fault that her employer is retarded, or that the wrong ID number got printed on the card. I know that if she ran the world everything would probably work smoothly. Shes there to pay her rent and buy herself food. She is probably going to college or basically cant get a job anywhere else. Here we are screaming at them for something that they have absolutely no control over just to vent our frustration. Are we any better than those asshole doctors who scream at us because expensive-drug-x is $900?

So next time you're all fired up about WellCare not having the right ID number, and you hear Healthers voice on the other end, think of this post and realize that its not Heathers fault. She's there to do a job much like you are and probably goes home and rags on pharmacists like I ran on Drug Reps.

(Yeah, I realize this post isn't full of hate, bad words, sexual talk or anything like that. It just sorta struck a nerve that I'm sure lives deep down within all pharmacists. I'll try better next time. Fuck insurance companies and drug reps..There.. All better.. :-) )
Everyone loves their pharmacist, but pharmacists are people, too.

H/T Instapundit

Is Graduate School Worth It?

I can't help but believe that advanced degrees have reached a critical mass. At some point, the money invested in multiple degrees could fund a business or keep parents flush for retirement.

Or, since the U.S. has an increasingly knowledge-based and specialized economy, will all sorts of degrees continue to be in demand? College money guys hope so.

The New York Times reports that advanced degrees are more in demand than ever. Are they worth it when a person can download classes from elite schools on iTunes and specialize through the ubiquitous knowledge on the internet? There was a time when the only place one could receive a lecture was at a college. Not so today.

But the market will pay:

And many students believe that these multiple degrees are highly valuable in today’s competitive job market.

Are they really, though? More research needs to be done, because the only ones I see benefiting are the colleges and loan institutions. I'm not alone in this belief. More on the relative value of an education here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Washington D.C.

Last week, I took the kids to D.C. As mentioned before, we hit the major branches of government, landmarks, memorials and the zoo. We were very busy and crammed lots of experiences into three days--including swimming in the hotel pool. I'm still tired.

My overall impression was this: Solidity. The city is solid. A law on the books since Britain still viewed us as theirs, requires rock and other hard building materials due to fires set to the White House and Capital by the aforementioned former enemy. Ahem. It's a good law. The city has a permanence and beauty because of it.

D.C. is strikingly beautiful, more beautiful than I remembered. I was eight the last time I visited and two memories remain from that visit: Monticello and the Lincoln Memorial. My brother peed on the porch at Monticello causing my sister and I much amusement and my parents complete mortification. The Lincoln Memorial was huge. Who doesn't love Abraham Lincoln? And how could you forget the Lincoln Memorial?

My kids favorite spot echoed mine. They absolutely loved the Washington Monument, the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial. We took it in at sunset. Grass and water and a balmy breeze served as the back-drop to these massive tributes to great men in addition to serving as baseball diamonds and football practice fields. The city is grand and eminently human at the same time.

The humanity mobs you immediately. We took the train from Philadelphia and ended in Union Station. People were purposeful and determined and seemed oblivious to the breath-taking architecture all around them. They marched to the cab or the Capital in their suits and talked about important things.

That first afternoon, we toured the Capital. Katie Weiss, a staff assistant to our representative Kevin Brady, made sure everything was perfect. She is a gem. In fact, the staff members of our Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson were incredibly helpful, too. I would very much recommend contacting your congress people to facilitate your Washington trip. When I saw the poor herded masses going on the public tours, I sighed in relief. The private tours are fabulous.

The interesting thing about all the buildings toured in Washington is that they are working, living monuments to the past, present and future. People are scurrying hither and thither debating in the halls. The history, the architecture, the tradition, the offices, the seniority, the squabbles, combine to form a hopeful soaring ideal anchored by a common-sense pragmatism.

Walking through the Senate side, I saw Carl Levin and this and that Senator. So many familiar, smiling (we were obviously not working there--with school in session, the kids were the only ones in the Capital and office buildings both times we visited) Senatorial and Congressmen faces. We met Senator Hutchinson. My son was overwhelmed with joy at meeting her and gave her a huge, unexpected, hug. She is a tiny wisp of a woman, dressed smartly in a sherbet suit surrounded by buzzing black-clad staffers. We were the last in line and she clearly had somewhere important to be, but the hug surprised and disarmed her and everyone laughed and cooed at the cuddle. Senators are people, too.

We received floor passes to sit in both the House and Senate galleries. On the house side, nothing much happened. On the Senate side, we had the opportunity to hear stringent debate on some bill where the Army would purchase farm land. We just missed a full vote on five different pieces of legislation, much to my son's dismay. We had to high tail it over to the White House to take the rare, coveted and to my daughter at least, disappointing tour.

The White House is first, and foremost, just a house. It is smaller than I'd imagined. It's not that small, but still, the furniture and room dimensions were designed around smaller people. It felt...intimate. My daughter was disgruntled because we couldn't see the President's bedroom and the other parts of the living quarters. And she was not pleased that she couldn't meet the President or First Lady. I told her to write a letter.

Perhaps the most amazing building in Washington is the Library of Congress. Words fail to describe the experience. Truly, it's magnificent. It is knowledge in architectural form. The Library holds up the intellectualism of freedom and democracy that goes back to Socrates.

Visiting D.C. renewed my faith in our institutions. It will last as long as I don't watch the news.

McCann Murderers?

Did the McCann's kill their daughter?
No free polls

I know that all the evidence isn't out yet, even with stories like this. I'm just curious about the prevailing opinion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I remember. That's why I believe we must continue to fight Islamofascism wherever it stands. Send them to Allah early and often, I say.

On the way to my son's first day of preschool, I heard the news, but I almost couldn't believe it. Wondering what to do, I left my son and went and watched as the second tower fell. I felt like I was going to throw up. Then, I went back and got my son and brought him home. I watched in horror.

Everything changed that day.

Today, I took my other son to his first day of preschool. The same line of parents, the same nervous energy, the same sunny humidity occurs six years later. It's surreal.

Time has marched on, and yet the loss seems like it happened yesterday. The continued terrorist attempts keep the memories alive.

The continued terrorist attacks keep my resolve alive. I don't for a minute believe that if America steps back these psychopaths will stop. Quite the contrary, in fact. If America stops, the war will really rev up and we delay a fight that will be taken to our children, who will grow up as quickly as time has passed since 9/11, and face the same enemy while they take their children to preschool.

UPDATE: Why the Left must deny 9/11. H/T Dr. Sanity

Never again. H/T Instapundit

Video here. Jonah Goldberg and James Lileks also noting the back to school, ignore the terrorist in the room element.

The Anchoress wraps everything up. She remembers...... everything.

Gina Cobb explodes myths.

Some people wonder why I persecute myself every year on the anniversary of this dread day. It's the least I can do. As a soft-around-the-edges mom, responsibilities here keep me from fighting there, so I remember. As a supremely blessed American, who daily receives the joy of living in freedom, the least I can do is a cry a tear for them and remember.

Would it kill the Left to cry just a little?

NEA Resolution on Home Schooling

Well, I'm back from our first home schooling field trip. We toured the capital, watched Senators debate legislation, met with our Senator, spent time with our Representative's staff, toured the library of Congress, toured the Supreme Court, visited the war memorials, saw Panda's at the National Zoo, learned geology at the Smithsonian, ate lunch at Union Station and the Reagan Commerce Building, toured the White House, and watched the sun set across the Lincoln and Washington Memorials. In three days, the students learned about architecture, civics, history, art, science, politics, biology and economy.

At home, we prepared for the trip by reading about Washington D.C., learning about the three branches of government, how America came to be, and what a Democracy is. The kids had the time of their life.

The National Education Association was busy, too. Here is their resolution on home schooling:

"B-75. Home Schooling. The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being born by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

"The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools...."

Just to clarify the NEA position:
  1. Home schoolers receive less than comprehensive education.
  2. Home schooling parents should pay their school taxes and pay their child's education costs at home.
  3. Home schooling teachers, even those with more education than teachers, should be state licensed.
  4. Home schoolers must use state mandated curriculum.
  5. Home schooling children should NOT be able to enjoy any extra-curricular activities that their parent's taxes pay for.
In short, teachers will be happy to have the home schooler parent's tax money, teachers would like no responsibility to deliver services such as athletics to home schooled children, and teachers would like to shackle parents with the same curriculum they, themselves resent being forced to use. In fact, No Child Left Behind is reviled by the same NEA, yet they would enforce these strictures on others:
Reform is coming to No Child Left Behind, but the question is what kind. Teachers unions, which bitterly oppose the law, are pushing to relax its rigid testing rules and penalties.

"It narrows the curriculum," said Joel Packer, a policy manager for the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union. "Particularly in reading, there is this increasingly strict curriculum being imposed that teachers feel doesn't treat them as professionals and is taking creativity out of the classroom."
Part of the reason parents choose home schooling is to creatively meet the child's needs. The NEA would like to restrict this flexibility, of course, while demanding relaxed requirements of them, so their success as teachers isn't tied to their students.

Special Education has especially enjoyed this laxity. Children are given ridiculously easy requirements to meet and then the education is deemed a success when the child meets them. Everyone looks like a champ. The child falls hopelessly behind.

Not all teachers stink. In fact, many are very good. We are not talking individual teachers here. The overall educational experience is being compared. And teachers are scorning home schooling even though home schoolers have stellar outcomes when compared to public schools.

Maybe when the NEA gets it's house in order, they can share their wisdom with home schoolers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Coming Home

I'll be traveling back to Houston today from my whirl-wind Philly, Jersey, DC trip. You'll hear more tomorrow.

The plane, alas, will be full.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Nazi Cause of Islamism

Jew-hatred permeates Islamism as anyone paying attention knows. Paying attention is the problem. It seems everyone from the 9/11 commission to the United Nations doesn't want to know. The Weekly Standard's Matthias K√ľntzel has the most complete etiology of radical Islam.

The problem is not that the Islamists hide their goals. The problem is that the West does not listen. Osama bin Laden's chief reproach of the Americans in his "Letter to the American People" is that they act as free citizens who make their own laws instead of accepting sharia. The same hatred of freedom can be found in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to the American president: "Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems."
Please, read the whole thing.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Kathleen Willey Robbed

World Net Daily reports:

Kathleen Willey, the woman who says Bill Clinton groped her in the Oval Office, claims she was the target of an unusual house burglary over the weekend that nabbed a manuscript for her upcoming book, which promises explosive revelations that could damage Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Read the whole article. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

The Worst Parents Who Suffer The Little Children A Little Too Much

Parenting must be on everyone's minds with school starting up again. I just finished reading the article The Worst Parents Ever by Tom McGrath in the most recent Philadelphia Magazine. Basically, it's covering some of the same turf that's been tilled recently about "hyper parenting". Parents are raising narcissistic, entitled little pigs (do I sound too much like Alec Baldwin?) who end up crushed under the weight of ridiculous expectations at college time. Kids these days are long on indulgence and extreme achievement expectations and short on character:

No less important, though, is that a generation of kids who’ve been overindulged, overprotected and generally over-parented seems to be overwhelmingly underprepared to live in the real world. “They’ve been exposed to so much more, and on one level, they’re so much more sophisticated than we were,” says Janet Walkow, a business consultant in Wayne and the mother of three college-age girls. “But they’re less sophisticated when it comes to street smarts. They’re not as mature.”

Not that you can tell them. A study released earlier this year found that the current generation of college students is the most narcissistic ever. In the study, psychologists asked students to respond to statements like, “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place,” “I think I am a special person” and “I can live my life any way I want to.” Two-thirds of the kids showed elevated levels of narcissism — 30 percent more than when the study was first done in 1982.
And it's all the parents fault. The parents raising this generation, says McGrath, are the "worst parents ever."

Father of four boys, Tony Woodlief explains in a Wall Street Journal editorial Don't Suffer the Little Children that there has long been tension between two parenting styles: the Rousseauians and Hobbesians. That is between Utopians and Realists. In one camp, those who believe children are sweet, perfect tableaus written on by a black, diseased society. In the other camp, people like Thomas Sowell realistically believe this:
"Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late."
As a mother presiding over a house filled with pint-sized barbarians who have lots of barbarian friends, the tension between the two camps is all but lost. The Rousseauians have won, hands down. Between aggressive parents who defend their cretins misbehavior and the over-indulgent teachers working on self-esteem and imparting all the moral relativism that can be mashed into one lesson possible, the war is over.

The losers in the war, rather than surrendering have retreated. They've gone home. My kids are home, for the first time this year. And many friends kids are at home being taught by determined parents. I recently met a family with eight children ages 19 to 3 who were lucid, well-spoken, disciplined, helpful, obedient to their parents, dressed smartly and home schooled. Their father is an electrician, self-employed. Their mother is their teacher. They have done an impressive job. These kids will be successes not because they go to Harvard, though some might, but because they have character. Whether installing electrical systems, doing computer programming, becoming a nurse, or whatever their goals, they'll have the character to stick with it.

But what of the barbarians bred for superstar status? A friend is VP of human resources for a Fortune 500 company. I asked how the inter-generational workplace is fairing. How are those Gen Y 20-somethings working with their parent's generation the Boomers? She said that it's interesting how the younger people need excessive hand-holding, they embrace technology, but are almost incapable of seeing a project through on their own. The only model of work is team work. Individual contribution is too much pressure. The Boomers, who raised this generation, dislike the traits they imparted in their own children and complain bitterly to HR. Ironic, isn't it. She said, "They don't see it in their own kids, but they hate it in a co-worker."

I'm wondering, too, if the consequences won't come home to roost. Mr. Woodlief notes the eventual outcome:
Perhaps the fundamental purpose of schooling should be to liberate parents from the necessity of supporting our kids well past our retirement years. But regardless, this notion that humans are inherently angelic, and that it is society that corrupts them, is at the heart of much bad parenting, as well as inept schooling.
The parents who over-indulge may end up paying, and paying, and paying. Our society is so wealthy, a whole generation of rich children (and even the poor are rich) will live deluded and disappointed lives. Everyone will be like a trust-fund baby: soft, entitled, ignorant, arrogant, overindulged and hopeless. Imagine, a whole generation of Paris Hiltons and Lindsey Lohans.

And the proportion of disciplined, hard-working, patient, cooperative, intelligent children who grow up to be adults of good character will further diminish. At least, that's the pessimistic view.

No matter what, it seems to me that the parents who over-indulge ultimately end up ensuring that their child learns in the school of hard knocks and that's a tougher school than a tough, but loving parent.

Clintons: Money & Crime

The more things change, the more they stay the same--at least when it comes to dirty fund raising and the Clintons. As if the Hsu snafu isn't enough, another dubious fundraiser is at it. And where there's money, there's Hillary. Her new money guy is only convicted of racketeering and extortion and lost an election because of voter fraud his sister participated in engineering. No big whup! Just another day in Clintonville.

Glenn Reynolds wonders if there's a Hsuicide watch. I hope so. Maybe they could lock Hsu in the same room as Sandy Berger and get to the bottom of the Clinton's nefarious schemes for once.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I Love Gitmo!

Gitmo prisoners want back in and human rights organizations say America isn't doing enough to look after prisoners after they're release. Gina Cobb's amusing response:

The "solution" pushed by Human Rights Watch is not to admit that perhaps Gitmo isn't so bad after all -- at least compared to Tunisia and many other nations -- but instead to again raise the bar by demanding that the U.S. guarantee the safety of the enemy combatants even after their release.

But wouldn't that be rather . . . imperialist? Just how far should the U.S. go in sticking its nose into the internal affairs of Tunisia or Saudi Arabia -- hmmmm?

And why on earth should enemy combatants be given immunity from crimes committed in their home countries, anyway? This is not Wheel of Fortune. The prizes upon release from Guantanamo do not include lifetime immunity from prosecution anywhere on planet Earth.

If Tunisia has a human rights problem, then maybe it's time to stop the endless whining about Gitmo and instead to acknowledge the excellent job the United States has done in its detention of enemy combatants. When jihadists are begging to be let back into Guantanamo, that tells you all you really need to know.

Recession Reality: The Debt Epidemic

Well, we're in one. The job figures just made it worse. And now, as MOM notes, people will ask Why? She says that wealth creation was an illusion. People were just amassing debt. And now, people are looking to blame someone, anyone.

One thing I found very interesting:

The failure to admit what happened and how is very likely to create a toxic social and political environment. As we speak, the financing for smaller businesses is starting to dry up. How bad it will be depends on just how bad the previous lending has been, so the effect isn't fully quantifiable yet. This will be a shocking event to those affected, and a broad range of individuals will be affected. The aftermaths of bubbles always leave the survivors dazed, confused and harboring a sense of injustice. Those who bought into the bubble claim it is everyone else's fault, and those who acted responsibly and suddenly get caught in the undertow created by all the irresponsibility know it is not their fault. Everyone will be looking for the culprit.

Historically speaking, such events are associated with social and political instability and nasty turns in mass psychology. Pogroms, for example. Persecutions. Ejections of minorities.

Democracies have the ability to deal with these events differently, but only if accurate information is disseminated through the society.
This phenomenon closely mirrors the progression of infectious disease. For example, my family is extremely circumspect about using antibiotics. We use them rarely and only when we've given our immune systems months to fight the bug. Hospitals are notoriously irresponsible about hygiene (there is no government enforcement agency about this, if you can believe it), farmers pump their livestock full to the gills with prophylactic antibiotics (that is, the animals don't need them, but they give them in case they are exposed and because they are in such tight quarters that disease spreads so quickly), many people pop antibiotics like candy trying to knock out viri with them and make the bugs stronger because they operate unopposed. In short, most people have bought into the antibiotic bubble. The bubble is popping. The problem is that now the bugs are so strong, that even the people acting responsibly get infected now with the antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria or drug resistant viruses and suffer and die. The fault lies with doctors, hospital hygiene (or lack thereof), ignorant people, promiscuous people, mobility, and farmers. It doesn't matter. Everyone suffers when the bubble bursts.

The only thing that will bring people back to sobriety is a lot of death and destruction. Sensible measures like good hygiene, quarantine, prevention and restraint with medicine will come back into vogue, until the next bout of expedience and ignorance.

Debt has been the antibiotic, the drug of choice, of the money world. People incur it like it's no big deal to finance their colds and coughs and ear aches, when they should have prevented the debt-illness to begin with. So the market is crashing, and will ultimately have a salubrious affect on personal finances, but a lot of people are going to get sick and die in the process. Bankruptcies, fleeing the market and everything else will affect everyone--not just the promiscuous, unclean, and lazy. Let's hope this financial crisis doesn't become an epidemic, although I'm nervous that it already is one but we're just in the silent spread right now.

Now look at this and decide if you think investment homes are a good idea right now. The question: are we at the bottom? Is the epidemic burned out or just started?

Madeleine McCann the New Jon Benet?

The Kate McCann mother of missing British girl Madeleine McCann was named a suspect. McCann's husband Gerry vigorously denies this, as do their friends. Is this another example of a highly intelligent mother who made a mistake and now covers it up, ala Patsy Ramsey? Time will tell. Or maybe it won't.

Gay Outers: Hypocrisy or Human?

I know a cardiologist who smokes like a chimney. In a consultation with him, should you be unfortunate enough to have heart disease and need surgery, he will recommend, strongly, that you give up smoking. It's bad for your health. Is he a hypocrite?

There needs to be a better understanding of the word "hypocrite". Todays definition is "saying one thing and doing another", but that's not correct. That's a sinner. A sinner knows the ideal, believes the ideal and falls short. A hypocrite, knows the ideal, does NOT believe the ideal yet says he believes the ideal, and habitually ignores the ideal for some ulterior reason. This is a hypocrite:

a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives
Larry Craig would be a hypocrite (as opposed to human and fallible) if he believed that being actively gay was Jim-dandy fine, but got married, had kids, became a Republican, and spoke out against it so he could have power. That would be hypocrisy. Calling out a man of ambiguous sexuality while believing that there is nothing wrong with said sexuality and believing that imposing morality on someone is wrong and then doing just that to achieve political ends rather than benefit gays (Craig fails to display the progressive gay "morality", i.e. being pro-gay marriage) would be hypocritical.

In the comment section over at Gay Patriot, Will from American Elephant says:
I still think Craig should just switch parties–hed go from being a hypocrite to being a victim faster than you can tap your toe.
Gay Patriot notes the Outers hypocrisy; they use the same strident religious zeal that they claim to hate about the religious right:
In yesterday’s Washington Post Marc Fisher wrote that such “work requires” the “outers” to “play God” (Via Michael Silence via Instapundit). As if they know better than the rest of us. An attitude not too different from that of religious zealots. Indeed, the very title of the column, focusing on the actions of blogger Michael Rogers, Who Among Us Would Cast the First Stone? This Guy suggests that Rogers has the same certainty of belief as do those judgmental voices on the religious right whom his allies on the left are ever eager to criticize.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The outers on the left do themselves no favors by outing people who prefer to remain closeted. It strikes honest people as unfair and ruthless. It is off-putting. It is especially off-putting when screwing in public bathroom stalls is defended when it's clearly illegal, while wrecking someone's personal life is fair game. Hello? Maybe gay activists need to be more diverse in their friendships. Would they like a niece or nephew walk in while a couple of men mate in a public bathroom? This base and degrading behavior angers people. There is no logical defense for the activity and yet, it gets defended.

There are gay people who believe that living the lifestyle violates their moral code. They are not hypocrites. They are human. If they believed being gay was fine, good even, professed it sinful and lived the lifestyle, they'd be hypocrites. Just like my cardiologist friend or Peta people who sneak leather shoes, or the devout vegetarian succumbing to a tempting hamburger, these people aren't hypocrites, they're human.

The label "hypocrite" is used to silence opposition. Unfortunately, it works.

Matt Sanchez has more thoughts.