Wednesday, October 31, 2007

iLove the iPhone

OK, so there were some respected blog-friends who sniffed derisively at the iPhone. Pardon me, but, um, I don't get it.

My iPhone is nothing short of trés magnifique.

It takes pictures with a ginormous screen. It auto-downloads my contacts. It keeps track of recent conversations. I can grab the time, weather, etc. in minutes. It picks up Wi-Fi. I can blog from anywhere!! It plays tunes. It is so gorgeous, it makes me weepy.

This thing makes me think I'll actually use it to keep track of my schedule. I hated PDAs, bulky and overkill. Crackberry? No thank you very much. My sister is one slave too many. I just used one of those free mini-calendars you get from the bank, or used to. But this is awesome. Clear and big and everywhere with me.

The camera isn't great, but it's not bad. I actually took a great shot of my son tonight. The music will be fine. The other iPod will be permanently in the speaker system, I guess. The shuffle will still go to the gym when that happens. If that happens.

Anyway, I had no trouble setting it up. No need to beg my bro for tech support. Oh! It fades so I can call or be called and then picks right up with the music.

In short, it's everything I hoped for. Technological immediate gratification.

Progressive Hypocrisy

The main complaint about Iraq couldn't be uttered in America without inciting the hew and the cry of progressive thinkers and rightfully so, because the main complaint is patently racist. The idea goes like this: the Iraqi people, Muslim people, Arab people, are inherently incapable of living in a free, democratic society. Their tradition, intelligence, culture, history, family structure, and to a less extent, their religion inhibits their evolution as a people. In a sense, they are, like so many inferior cultures, condemned to the bottom of the world's rubbish heap.

Now, imagine these sentiments being used to describe, say, black people or women (remember the outrage at Ann Coulter for her thoughts on American women and voting?) or even Muslim Americans.

The second complaint, like unto the first, is essentially: Why should we care? If the people of the Mideast want to kill each other and be stupid, it's their own damn fault. This argument is easily undone by that little inconvenient truth--the Twin Towers crashing down in Mid-town Manhattan. The burnt out hole gapes there even now, a hollow reminder that what happens there, can affect what happens here.

There was a time, and even now, when progressives fought for the rights of everyone no matter their location or citizenship. There have been many urgent (and to my thinking, valid) pleas to save the Sudanese people--to save the black Christians and Muslims there from genocide imposed by lighter-skinned racist Muslims. So, it's still possible for progressives to claim those ideals, but they don't embody those ideals consistently. They learned from Gandhi's struggle for a free India. They learned by watching their fathers fight WWII to maintain a free West. These experiences planted the seed for the American civil rights movement. This Baby Boomer generation used Flower Power, sit-ins, resistance, etc. and they misused it, too. The valiant struggles of people like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi became tools for rebellious, amoral, narcissistic, spoiled, privileged young people more enamored with sex and drugs than freedom, man.

The sons and daughters of the Free Love generation didn't leave their hypocrisy behind. In this generation, they've honed their language of oppression but forgotten the truly oppressed. If the victim group doesn't meet their special criteria or if the oppressed is liberated by a perceived enemy (anyone remotely conservative or with the initials G.W.B.) the victims aren't worth saving. A genocide would be preferable to people being freed by someone who doesn't have the proper credentials or, more importantly, language of The Movement.

That George Bush has been one of the most progressive presidents in history galls the so-called progressives. Todays progressives want to conserve the past. Attached to a Ma Sheehan version of the world, they strive to protect and look inwardly. Some even doubt the reasoning to liberate Europe during World War II. Why This perverse reasoning is as narcissistic as it is suicidal.

The only oppressed people worth saving are those who won't matter to America's own self-preservation. Today's progressive would rather America shrivel and die than reach out and spread the seed of democracy. Saving, of course, means using strength and power and fighting and dominating over enemies.

Power over is the language of oppression, but it's also the action of the liberator.

What this means is that the Left will never acknowledge an Iraq success. It will, at the first opportunity, attempt to rob George W. Bush of any success. Genocide is preferable to the President being favorably viewed in history's light.

Who is the true progressive? Who is liberal? It's been a long time since the Left has qualified as either.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

School Stress Evaporates At Home

The stress in our family has lessened so significantly since starting to home school. My kids already had severe test anxiety at the ripe old ages of 7 and 9. That's a problem. The result of their anxiety was a defeatest attitude: if they couldn't be guaranteed super-success, they didn't want to try. I don't think yoga at school would have helped much. It might have helped a little. Maybe getting rid of homework would have helped the generalized anxiety. In fact, I'm quite sure it would have helped.

Two and a half months into home schooling and the results are promising. More relaxed family (including me--an unintended benefit) and more relaxed kids. Shhhh, don't tell them, but the tests I write for them are harder. I'm pushing them to comprehend. They are being forced to remember not just what, but why. And still, they are more relaxed. They have also received their first "bad" grades and survived. They are learning to go back again and study and get it and then try again.

With home school, there is no homework. Well, not like is generally understood. They are reading and reading the "required" texts but they don't realize what they're doing. When we talk through and do assignments off of books they enjoy reading, they're doing work, they just don't really notice.

I wasn't sure at the beginning, the curriculum scared me because of its simplicity, but I simply must sing the praises of Math-U-See. It is amazing. The comprehension of math concepts is so complete and simple. The kids are motoring through it.

Another curriculum, this one for handwriting called Handwriting Without Tears, is nearly miraculous. My son, who has problems with deciding where to put the pencil and has fine more strength problems viewed learning cursive with apprehension. He literally looked suspiciously at the text book. Not now. Loves it. My husband said, "He wrote that?!" It's been pretty amazing.

We are also using Sonlight for Reading, Vocabulary, Spelling, Phonics, Grammar, History, Geography, and Bible. It is a literature-based curriculum and it's fantastic. The text books are original works. The kids are reading a couple Robert Lewis Stevenson poems a week. They are learning a couple Aesop's fables a week. They are reading out loud. They are explaining the moral of the story. They are creatively writing. Each week, we are going through a couple pieces of children's literature.

For people like me who find the notion of putting it all together daunting, the Sonlight system is flexible yet structured. The only work I add for myself, is more testing. At least every other week, I put together a comprehensive test for the kids to make sure they are retaining what they learn. This week, they have learned the basics about the Phoenicians, Spartans, Athenians, the architecture of columns, the story of Romulus and Remus, Rome, the Olympiad, Homer's Odyssey (which they are dying to read), Eastern Europe, Romania, Italy, what was significant about Mecca and the rise and fall of King Saul, the rise of David and the friendship between David and Jonathon. That's a lot. And that's all on the test. Plus dates for the Peloponnesian War and the original and reinstated Olympics. It's definitely a survey of History and Bible this year. It will be the foundation for the next four years when we go back and look, in depth, at those times.

And they aren't stressed. Can you imagine? They love it. We haven't had an art project or science project in a while. We have made cave man pictures and created hieroglyphics. When we get to Pompeii, we'll explode a volcano. They have more time for the arts--music and drama are during school hours. Dance is after school twice a week.

All in all, I don't think the stress in school comes from the volume of material or even the focus on testing. The running from one activity to another, the inability to slow things down to have a question answered, the frustration of having play-time or recess taken away to finish up work, the inability to get a drink when thirsty or run to the bathroom without missing something, the boredom when a topic is already known, the pressure to perform during timed tests (in second grade) and on and on. The schools must meet the needs of many kids so some of the flexibility needed to reduce stress just can't happen. I'm amazed at the stellar job the teachers do. It is certainly not easy.

So, it's admirable that the High School principal wants to put in a program to reduce stress for kids. That's an excellent goal. I'm just not sure it's possible.

Screening for MRSA

Oh, this IS a hoot. A hospital will screen incoming patients for MRSA? Will they test staff pens, their equipment, doctors and nurses who are the most likely vectors for the spread? Will they start spending more time hand washing and employing basic hygiene?

Pardon me, but this new effort is quite a bit like screening at the airport. It's a big nuisance that will do little to stop the spread of disease.

File This In "Be Careful What You Pray For......

You might just get it. " The Southeast is a parched land these days. Clark Stooksbury says:
"The irony is that most of the Southeast could use a hurricane. Whatever damage one might do on the coast, if a tropical depression were to dump heavy rains over Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, it would be a blessing."

Glenn Reynolds chimes in, "Yeah, I've been watching the computer models for Noel and wishing that the tracks would shift westward."

Prayer works. Prayer power people might want to remember to reverse course. And for those who worship Gaia commenter 3R says:

Point well taken. The very slow 2007 hurricane season has featured two Category 5 storms, both of which made landfall in Mexico. According to reports, the liklihood of two such storms making landfall anywhere in the same season is low.

But then there's the very slow 2006 season to explain, which if I recall correctly featured NO Category 5 storms. And then there are the reports of unusually cool Atlantic waters...heck, let's blame this year's California fires on global warming, make some more dire predictions, and see how the 2008 hurricane season turns out. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Is God listening and Gaia ignoring the pleas?

Pathology Vs. Cure

At left, Houston Texans Ability Camp.

Do our infirmities define us? Ann Althouse is reading Oliver Sack's latest book (I have yet to read it, I read his first two) and says:

What do you think about this notion of illness as part of one's character? Normally, we see illness as an alien invader to be fought off or, if that is not possible, endured.
Can it be both?

My autistic son has moments of such purity of soul that a "neurotypical" person just doesn't have even at moments of perfect centeredness. And then, he will be so obtuse and self-involved that I want to scream and yank him out of the disease--the disease that is robbing him of interpersonal interaction, the disease that is robbing me of closer relationship with my son. My son gives me a glimpse of God and the next minute all I see is pathology.

There is little that's pretty about pathology. It looks ugly on slide and it looks ugly in life. I've had patients talk about "my diabetes" or "my cancer" or "my manic-depression", like it's a pet they proudly nurture and care for. Far be it for anyone, including a doctor, to intrude and suggest that the disease doesn't define them, that it is a hurdle to overcome. Oh no, the disease becomes the raison d'etre. It becomes existence. The disease becomes an excuse, the crutch to not build character. And that narcissistic passivity eventually defines them.

Even without an enabling victim, disease is a burden. Autism might be interesting and even sweet things are a by-product, I still want it gone. It is an enemy to me and to my son. The world is a mystifying place for him when he's not locked in his own orbit. He will grow up. I will grow old and I worry.

That's disease. It robs a person of experiences and potential. It may bestow some gifts but it takes away others. It renders a person helpless and dependent. How is that good? These hardships can develop character for both the sufferer and the care-giver, but it's just so much mumbo jumbo to say that physical or mental maladies are lovely. Althouse continues:
Sacks writes so beautifully and tells such interesting stories that it's hard to resist his point of view. He is thoroughly excited and fascinated by the brain abnormalities of the individuals he studies, and he expresses this emotion through the romanticization of disease and the perception of the disease as part of the integrated whole of the person. As I reader, I catch his excitement, but I worry sometimes that it's wrong to look at other people this way.
Oliver Sacks is a kind, gentle scientist and observer of human behavior. He doesn't reduce a child or adult struggling with some neurological disorder to their disease. He sees a complex and interesting organism. He also sees potential. That openness was a breath of fresh air for a new generation. It has only been the last fifteen to twenty years when parents are no longer being blamed for "making" a child autistic. Parents and families were likewise blamed for schizophrenia and other neurobiologic diseases. So Dr. Sacks has worked, thankfully, in a non-judgmental way to bring formerly stigmatized diagnoses into the mainstream.

Still, Ms. Althouse has hit upon the truth. Let's not romanticize these infirmities. Let's find cures.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Omnipotent Government, Omnipresent Individuals

A lady sits in her living room surfing the net and bags more terrorists than the FBI. No way, in the world of Jason Bourne and the Loony Left and even some of my friends, the U.S. government
knows all. Sees all. Controls all.

As if.

The FBI connection this woman works with has to go the local library for internet access. Yup. They're omnipotent alright.

There are valid concerns. The law enforcement community is set up to solve crimes that have already happened, not prevent crimes that may happen. To my way of thinking, the real fear ought to be that with our archaic system, we're still a wide-open target, all the purse dismantling action at the airplane gate notwithstanding.

Let the individuals passionate about prevention unleash their individual abilities. At least with loads of individuals sifting through the Internets for terrorists, Americans can be an omnipresent Army.

Georgeous Day

I've been struggling about what to write today. There's plenty of material, of course, but it's so breathtakingly gorgeous outside that I just want to enjoy the weather.

Oh, and did you notice that the hurricane season was light this year instead of horrible? I don't want to say "I told you so". What am I saying? Yes, I do. I told you so!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our Press Could Be Worse

It could.

The Next President: Who Americans Hate The Least

Am I the only one who is just not digging the Presidential contenders of any political stripe? I've tried to analyze the ennui and it comes down to a couple things, maybe a little bit of each:

  1. All the contenders seem like "C" students who are overachieving.
  2. None of the contenders are all that charismatic. Obama has fizzled and Huckabee has the "aw shucks" thing going. But no one seems to possess the characteristic that I've come to value so much more during President Bush's presidency: the ability to telegenicly make an eloquent point seem simple to understand.
  3. It's been too much too soon. The Presidential political season isn't a season it's global warming--pervasive, with no beginning and no end, with certain facts and personalities amplified by the press.
  4. Speaking of the press. Can we just crown Hillary now? I mean, it's like so totally a foregone conclusion.
  5. Are we in La La Land?
Mark Steyn and Peggy Noonan have both hit the theme recently: Hollywood, the MSM and average Americans have this detachment to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan--like it's not really happening. It's pretend.

That La La sensibility has extended to the Presidential bid. Like it almost doesn't matter who runs things anymore. Everyone sucks. That seems to be reflected in the poll number for the President and Congress.

Maybe the next Presidential election outcome will be the person everyone hates the least.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Incumbent Anti-Terrorism Voting Acts

It's terrible when incumbents face destruction. Extreme measures must be taken. And in Pennsylvania and other places like Georgia, they have been taken.

Expect more incumbent monkey business as their poll numbers plunge. Voters don't just feel blandly about their local and national representatives, they are coming to loathe them. And Congress Critters and local politicians are fighting for their safety every way they know how.

Absolutely sincere in their one belief: ME!

Grateful Iraqi Soldiers Send Check To Fire Victims

This story touched me so deeply:

Iraqi Army Col. Abbass, the commander of the complex, presented a gift of $1,000 to U.S. Army Col. Darel Maxfield, Besmaya Range Complex officer in charge, Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, to send to the fire victims in California.

The money was collected from Iraqi officers and enlisted soldiers in Besmaya. In a speech given during the presentation, Col. Abbass stated that he and the Iraqi soldiers were connected with the American people in many ways, and they will not forget the help that the American government has given the Iraqi people. Abbass was honored to participate by sending a simple fund of $1,000 to the American people in San Diego, to lower the suffering felt by the tragedy.
These people struggle for every penny and they're collecting money to help Americans? All I can think of: the widow's mite.

You know, the Iraqis don't hate Americans. They are just trying to find their way out of tyranny. It was a messy process for America when we slogged through it. It's a messy process for Iraq. And Iraq doesn't have Thomas Jefferson or George Washington or Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Paine or any of the rest of America's honorable forefathers.

Saddam Hussein killed them.

Slowly, surely, the Iraqis are growing and building the muscles required for freedom. There's a reason why God kept Israel wandering around, learning to trust for forty years. It seems pretty remarkable what Iraq has achieved in these few years. Leaders will grow up, learn and contribute as they mature. They just need time.

P.S. You find this touching story in the MSM, please link to it in the comments.

Friday, October 26, 2007

War Ain't Hollywood

There is a good chance my readers don't give a flip about Scott Beauchamp's confabulations in his pieces depicting fictional (portrayed as real) soldier life in Iraq in The New Republic. Here's why the story matters to me: The New Republic is just one of many media sources where the facts are always in doubt. And then, when confronted with the truth, TNR, like most of the media, displays breathtaking self-unawareness. They withhold information and intimidate writers and do it without a trace of irony. Does the Fourth Column need a fifth? Given the press treatment of New Orleans, The Jena Six, Iraq, Hillary Clinton and Hsu, California Fires and everything else, yes.

Such is the state of the Mainstream Media. Believe at your own risk.

Peggy Noonan weighs in on the topic:

Journalistically, I was lucky enough to work at CBS News when it was still shaped by the influence of the Murrow boys. They knew and taught that "everyone is entitled to his own opinions"--and they had them--"but not his own facts." And I miss the rough old boys and girls of the front page, who'd greet FDR with "Snappy suit, Mr. President," who'd bribe the guard to tell them what the prisoner said on the way to the chair, and who were not rich and important but performed an extremely important social function.

They found out who, what, where, when, why. And they would have looked at the half-baked, overcooked junior Hemingway of Scott Thomas Beauchamp and said, "That sounds like a buncha hooey."
She excoriates those between 35 and 40 (now, wait just a minute!) for being weened on fantastic war stories put forth by Hollywood and then imposing that reality on the Iraq war. That may be true for some. Personally, I think her generation believes their own hype as well. Hell, while she worked for those Murrows boys her peers were smoking pot and getting groovy casting aspersions on their fellow citizen soldiers.

Noonan has a point, though. Everyone sure seems to act like this whole thing is just pretend and it's not just those ages 35-40. The threat the Western world faces is real, alright. The enemy our soldiers fight is certainly real. Soldiering, like life, is a fair bit more mundane than the TNR editors want to believe. Life ain't Hollywood. And neither is war.

H/T Ann Althouse

James Fallows: Life Really Is Unfair

Aren't you glad that it is?

Economic News

MOM sums up the state of the world. I think it's worth reading her thoughts one the world economy. Very interesting implications.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sleep Deprivation Makes You Crazy

Everyone in my family knows that sleep deprivation makes you crazy. It scares them when I bumble around in the morning, ranting at cupboard doors and talking to my imaginary friend. Of course, if they really cared about my mental health, they'd keep their asses in bed all night and not yell for me at 1:00 a.m.

People have joked about the raving soccer moms careening around in their SUVs wild-eyed, aggressive and demented as though the SUV is causing her behavior. Oh no, my friend. It's not the gas guzzling monster. It's sleep deprivation. The government needs to save us by providing night-time nannies. It's their fault my higher brain functioning is crap:

"When we're sleep deprived, it's really as if the brain is reverting to more primitive behavior, regressing in terms of the control humans normally have over their emotions," researcher Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, told LiveScience.

"While we predicted that the emotional centers of the brain would overreact after sleep deprivation, we didn't predict they'd overreact as much as they did," Walker said. "They became more than 60 percent more reactive to negative emotional stimuli. That's a whopping increase—the emotional parts of the brain just seem to run amok."

The researchers pinpointed this hyperactive response to a shutdown of the prefrontal lobe, a brain region that normally keeps emotions under control. This structure is relatively new in human evolution, "and so it may not yet have adapted ways to cope with certain biological extremes," Walker speculated. "Human beings are one of the few species that really deprive themselves of sleep. It's a real oddity in nature."

It sure feels primitive being sleep deprived. Matted hair, bulging eyes, dry mouth and lips, heavy head, all that's missing is my poison darts and Wooly Mammoth. I guess I don't need it. I have coffee and children. Kinda the same.

Define Random Violence

Rachel Lucas says:

I know it’s nitpicky. And I’m sorry for his family that the kid is dead. But still. Sometimes you do something stupid, and you get hurt. Pretty simple rule of thumb to reduce your chances of getting shot in your coconut: don’t throw golfballs at meth-heads.
Words to live by.

H/T Conservative Grapevine

Pint-Sized Fashion Police

Are you kidding me? Little girls are bullying each other because they're in the wrong brand and color? Wait, am I kidding myself? It was a big deal when I was a pre-teen and teen and I remember precisely when it started.

Brooke Shields.

That's right. Baby Brooke in her provocative picture with tight Calvin Kleins that nothing came between. Everyone had to have them. Before Calvin, it was gauche to put a label front and center. After Calvin, everyone started doing it.

And Middle School suddenly got a lot more fierce. As if a hormonally challenged kid needs to worry about anything more. Now it's Dolcé and Gabbana or whatever.

The kids who grew up with Calvin are now parents. And they refuse to let their child suffer their own humiliation. No Gucci? Horrors! So parents will bend over backwards to keep their growing child's derriére covered in something fancy. Crazy:

School guidance counselor Angie Dooley sees the love of labels at Lawrence Junior High School in Fairfield, Maine, where some girls wear the same few brand-name items they own again and again. "They don't want anyone to know that's all they have," Ms. Dooley says.

In one study, more than one-third of middle-school students responded "yes" when asked whether they are bullied because of the clothes they wear. Susan M. Swearer, associate professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, surveyed a total of more than 1,000 students at five Midwestern middle schools from 1999 to 2004, with about 56% of the sample female. While the prevalence of fashion bullies was greater in wealthy cities and towns, where more designer clothing is available, she found the problem is significant in poorer communities, too.

Teens and adolescents are expected to wear not just any designer brands but the "right" ones. "The better brands you wear, the more popular you are," says Becky Gilker, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Sherwood Park in the Canadian province of Alberta. "If you don't wear those things you get criticized." In many schools, the most expensive designer goods, such as those by Chanel or Louis Vuitton, have the highest social ranking among girls. But popular teen brands such as American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale are also important. Miss Gilker says Hollister and Roxy are big logos at her school.

The solution isn't kid bullying classes. It's parenting classes. Do parents even listen to themselves? Are they conscious of what they're teaching their kids? It just seems like one more narcissistic pursuit. It isn't about the kid's moral development, it's about the kids making up for what the parent lacked.

And ultimately, the kids better like the clothes because what's filling them is empty.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Turkeys: Nancy Pelosi and Tom Lantos

Would Turkey be bombing the snot out of Northern Iraq if the Democrats had kept their Machiavellian yappers shut? We'll never know. But now, there's bombing going on on the Northern border and Turkish troops building up there, too.

Just as things settle down down South, Iraq is all stirred up up North. You know, I was hoping that when the Democrats got in power that they would start acting like grown-ups, but that hasn't been the case. They act like they're still the minority party and their words and actions don't matter. But they do matter. It's something Nancy Pelosi needs to remember:

It's certainly not her finest moment," said Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"There's been no great harm done, but we do have to find some ways to mend the U.S.-Turkish relationship."
I hope not. But it seems like great harm is being done right now.

The Art of the Apology

We live in a world of parsed language and half-meaning. Even more, we live in a world of denial and hard-heartedness. It's a paradoxical thing. Because people are so merciless when someone screws up, people resist apologizing for fear of being condemned worse, rather than just being judged for "allegedly" doing something wrong. So people don't apologize for offenses they cause, and when they do muster the courage to apologize they sprinkle it with qualifiers--either because they don't really think they were wrong and want to put the problem behind them (the apology is a manipulative tool) or because they are afraid the apology will result in making the relationship worse or they will be viewed as worse.

People have lost the ability to gracefully apologize. Whether it's Bill Clinton or Larry Craig, just to name two, the apologies are spat out angrily, devoid of meaning and actually impugn the honor of those offended. How dare you be offended? The latest example was Reporter Rebecca Aguilar who attack a senior citizen who had killed two different men who were breaking into his home and business. He was clearly shaken and she verbally assaulted the man in the parking lot while he bought a new gun saying, "Are you a trigger happy kind of person? Is that what you wanted to do, shoot to kill?" Nice. People watching the news report were outraged and called the station. A woman who exchanged email correspondence with Ms. Aguilar received this apology:

First of all, Mr. Walton is the one who told me where he was going to buy his shotgun. Though he didn't want his face on camera, after he showed us the new weapon.... he did want to share his side of the story. He didn't want folks to think he was some kind of criminal. That's why he shared his tears, his remorse, and his side of the story. I also reminded viewers that Mr. Walton did not break any laws, because he was in the right. I'm sorry you took my story the wrong way. You didn't see my story yesterday...when I pointed out that the man Mr. Walton killed had a criminal record involving theft.
We'll just take that apology as Exhibit "A" on how not to apologize. I've written about apologizing before and can't find the post and don't want to slog through the archives. It doesn't hurt to repeat though. There is actually a Wiki How To about apologizing. Let's go with that. I'm going to skip Step 1 & 2 and focus on Step 3:
Begin the apology by naming the offense and the feelings it may have caused. Be specific about the incident so that they know exactly what you're apologizing for. Make it a point to avoid using the word "but". ("I am sorry, but..." means "I am not sorry.") Validate their feelings or discomfort by acknowledging your transgression's (potential) effects:

  • "Boss, I'm sorry I'm late again, I know my shift started 10 minutes ago. I hope this doesn't complicate your day."
  • "Dear, I'm sorry I forgot your birthday - there's no excuse. I hope you don't feel neglected, please let me set this right."

Step 1 and 2 mention that this is best done in person, privately. The second best would be on the phone. If the person won't see or talk to you, it is better to do it in writing in private.

The next step is to Make Amends. If someone stole $5 and then didn't return the money, but apologized, would you feel better?
Make amends. Think about what caused you to make the offense. Is it because you're a little too laid back about being on time, or remembering important dates? Is it because you tend to react instantly to certain comments, without pausing to consider an alternative point of view? Is it because you are unhappy with your life, and you unknowingly take it out on others? Find the underlying problem, describe it to the person (as an explanation, not an excuse), and tell them what you intend to do to rectify that problem so that you never repeat this mistake again:

  • "I snapped at you because I've been so stressed out with work lately, and it's selfish of me to take it out on you. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to cut down my hours to X per week. I really think it'll help me unwind, and help us spend more quality time together."
  • "I've been distant and cold because I get paranoid that you're going to walk out on me because I don't have a job. But that's a terrible thing to do. Look, here's a list of things I'm going to do to find a job ASAP..."
It is a measure of how seriously a person takes their offense when they take the time to analyze the underlying pathology that caused the wrong to begin with. A good apology works only with a good dose of self-awareness. It is even more offensive when a person apologizes but isn't specific, doesn't acknowledge the harm done and further, doesn't change the mindset that caused the offense to happen again.

An artful apology brings a relationship back to equilibrium. That is, the offender cedes power in order that the relationship is restored. In fact, he gives the other person the power. That is what is so difficult for the person apologizing. His fate, in a sense, is in the forgiver's hands. That discomfort is only fair considering the offense to begin with. Wiki says:
Ask if they will give you a chance to make up for what you did wrong. Insist on proving to them that you have learned from your mistake, and that you will take action to change and grow as a result, if they will let you. Make a clear request for forgiveness and wait for their answer. This gives the injured party the well deserved "power" in determining the outcome of the situation.
This is why apologizing so rarely happens. It is distressing to disarm oneself and hand ammunition to a person who is, ostensibly, upset with you. And that person might not accept the apology. What then?
Be patient. If an apology is not accepted, thank them for hearing you out and leave the door open for if they wish to reconcile later. (E.g. "I understand you're still upset about it, but thanks for giving me the chance to apologize. If you ever change your mind, please give me a call.") If you are lucky enough for your apology to be accepted, avoid the temptation to throw in a few excuses at the end. Instead, have a transition planned out beforehand for what you can do to solidify the clean slate (e.g. "Let's go get some coffee and catch up. It'll be my treat. I miss knowing what you're up to.").
And the final step is most important. As an aside, it is rare that our boorish behavior is aberrant. Usually, it is established behavior, a character flaw that requires fixing. I remember one of my past egregious wrongs and it has driven me crazy that I can't find the girl that I wronged (she was a fellow chiropractic student), but what the experience revealed to me was a deeper problem I had. Since the ability to make it right has thus far eluded me, my efforts have been put into not doing it again and changing the part of me that did it to begin with. And I pray that the effects of my offense have been forgotten.

But I know how good a sincere apology feels. When in High School, an acquaintance who had been mean to me through Middle School came up with her friends and apologized to me for being mean. She didn't have to do that. Her kindness stuck with me. We can all be shits. We can all screw up. We can use that power to heal, too.

Back to the final step:
Stick to your word. This is the most important step. A true apology entails a resolution, and you have to carry out your promise in order for the apology to be sincere and complete. Otherwise, your apologies will lose their meaning, and trust may disappear beyond the point of no return. Follow through.
It is difficult to hold a grudge against someone who repeatedly makes it right. Who has changed. A person can hold that grudge, but then, it's on them.

Mind you, some wrongs are so horrible (murder, abuse, assault) that the person might forgive, but they don't want to be around the offender. This might just be good sense.

Some tips from Wiki that are worth noting:
  • Use relaxed and humble body language. Keeping your arms crossed or pointing fingers will put the other person on the defensive.
  • One apology will often cause another, either from you for something else you realized you are sorry for, or from the other person because they realize the conflict was mutual. Be prepared to forgive.
  • A proper apology is always about the injured party. Keep your apology focused on the actual wrong done, and the recipient.
  • Dont keep asking if he or she is mad at you. Constant reminding of this will only make the person be more angered and ill tempered towards you.

We have all been wronged. And we have all wronged. It takes pride-gulping gumption to give a sincere apology. It is an Art.

Happy apologizing! Now, I'm going to attempt to research and deal with a thornier subject: How to accept an apology.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

California Burning

Nobody's California Dreamin' right now. My friend who lives in Long Beach sent this picture.

Eerily beautiful. More like California Screamin'. Hey! That could be the title to one of those popular slasher flicks.

The Family Bed

It turns out more people do share beds with their kids than care to admit. I don't think it's a big deal, really. With parents working so much and gone, kids sleeping in the same room is a way for them to stay connected.

When we went on the Disney Cruise and all five of us were shoved like sardines into one tiny space, everyone slept the best. I could hear all my children breathing. I knew when someone was having a bad dream. The kids slept awesome. We could all relax. I actually considered having a room constructed like that--two bunks and a baby bed in our bedroom. It worked out so well. (We had heavy drapes dividing the sleeping quarters. Wink. Wink.)

What do you think about shared sleeping quarters? Indians did it and primitive societies all over still do. Why not Westerners?

Sleeping with kids is....
OK on occasion (storms, sick)
Weird free polls

Questioning Barack Obama's Patriotism

Why wouldn't a person, especially a presidential candidate NOT put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, affecting, instead, the fig leaf pose? Is this person a renegade? A rebel? Is this person just not very political and doesn't see the significance?

Or, like Clinton with his feeble salutes, does the candidates body language indicate something more fundamental? Perhaps the candidate doesn't have America in his heart.


Free Speech on Campus

Free intimidation, more like. Look at what happened to Nonie Darwish, the Arab-American author who spoke out at Wellesley about the threat from Islamofascism. She says of the Muslim girls who disrupted the speech, disrespecting her and others in attendance:

“Muslim girls like these are like gangsters. They know more about their rights in America than the Jewish girls do. The Muslim girls all have a chip on their shoulders.”

And then she is silent. Softly, she says: “We are fighting an avalanche. We are too few. I am frightened by my culture of origin. I am scared of my own people.”
That's on a college campus. There are far more examples of attempts, by diverse people, to share a diverse message. And here is what happens when people share a view that isn't politically correct, namely, that radical Islam gives moderate Islam a bad name.

That's right, being for free speech and against fascism and saying so, well, that's just crazy talk.

Bon Chance, La France!

Samzidata has a snort out loud post regarding the demise of the French countryside. That formerly crumbling rural haven where no one could afford to live and no one wanted to, anyway, being that it was cut off from civilization.

No more.

Provençal France is now the refuge of Brits and Americans, meanwhile the young French ditch Paris for England. The French find this Pepé Le Pew smelly:

Another French vignette of decline is of clever sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, who can not seem to get jobs worthy of their obvious talents and superior educations, unless they go to vulgar England. Even there, they will have to start out as waiters and waitresses, but at least they'll have a chance of better things soon. In France, education is obviously far better than in vulgar England, but in vulgar England, for some reason probably involving evil America, more stuff is actually being done.

So, will France's voters try to make the symptoms of economic decline and of the new super-suburbanisation illegal? Probably. Good luck with that, mes amis. You will need it. A smarter attitude would be to stop fretting about these changes and to start profiting from them, as many French people are already doing, of course, not least by selling their rural shacks for silly English money.
Truly, it's insulting for an inferior culture to triumph over a culture so self-evidently superior.

C'est la vie!

A Good Soldier

Honoring true heroes. I meant to link to this yesterday. Congratulations to the family of Michael Murphy of Patchogue, N.Y., your pain and his sacrifice mean everything and won't be forgotten.

A formal thank you to our soldiers and marines and those willing to die for an idea: Freedom.

Monday, October 22, 2007


C.S. Lewis said, "We are all female before God."

Friends of mine who struggle with their faith right now, in fact, may even be devoid in any faith, except in themselves, shared that they had demanded and confronted God, wanting answers. I gave that idea much thought. It's certainly Biblical. Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, desiring to be blessed and he was rewarded for his prolonged cage match. To men, the concept of struggle, physical domination and aggression is more natural. As providers and protectors and as the pursuers (often) in relationships, they naturally go for it.

Women in contrast, are physically weaker, must rely on other forms of conflict resolution and find that they often have to surrender control to get what they want. And here, I'm talking specifically, sexually. No woman can force an orgasm. A man can make it happen. A woman must allow it to happen. It is a huge difference in physiology and psychology.

Women must also surrender to birthing. It is my belief that many women schedule their C-sections, even though perfectly healthy, because they are in no way interested in surrendering the control to give birth. A woman, drug-free, cannot give birth without giving it up. It just won't happen.

To know God, though, struggle must sometimes be secondary to surrender. Sometimes, we must let the spirit wash over and through us. If we think about it, many of the best experiences in life aren't the ones we control or dominate. Often, they're the happy accidents, the moments of fate that seem so perfect and wonderful. The breath-taking sunset with the cool sand under our feet and the waves lapping ashore. A gentle rain where the sun shines through producing a vibrant rainbow. A child's laugh. A piece of music sung perfectly. During these times, we feel grounded yet free, strangely connected to our fellow man, full of love for all that we've been given, resplendent in the joy of being.

In those moments, even a skeptic wonders about God.

So much of our understanding of God is filtered through our own experience and perspective. My notions of God have evolved significantly especially since I've had children. My jealous, consuming love for them has put God in a whole new perspective. I understand his lust for vengeance a whole lot better. My own mother-bearishness is fearsome to behold. It's instinctual and immediate when a threat presents itself. God loves me that much? He surely demonstrated his fury when His children were threatened or hurt.

And this was the same God who gave His only begotten Son that NONE should perish but have everlasting life. Now that, I have an almost impossible time understanding, except that as the Father of us all, He knew He would lose all of us without His beloved Son.

Giving birth helped me to understand the notion of giving up and letting go and facing death so my child could live. Psalms 23:4:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
A woman giving birth feels like she is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. In more primitive cultures, the ritual of a young man going on a hunt was akin to the woman giving birth for the first time. Facing death, living fully, almost recklessly, coming to the brink not knowing how it will turn out, risking it and possibly dying in the process--so you can live. Birth.

It is also rebirth. Being Born Again is likewise embracing life, fully, willing to give up the physical life if necessary to life fully forever. Like giving birth, it is a daunting notion. To hunt down and slay our own desires, to give and sacrifice and love another. The abandonment of lovemaking doesn't even come close. Giving birth is a shadow. Ritual sacrifice barely touches the notion. Being a living sacrifice, surrendering to a Power you can't see and trust is there.

So often, Christian surrender happens backwards. That is, we don't feel it. At least we don't feel it like we feel a baby's soft, perfect skin. We don't feel it like we see the tangible results of a successful hunt. Surrendering to God means sometimes obeying what seem like impossible commands. And we're not the first to think that it's an impossible quest--this surrender.

The solution may be to obey and understand later. This requires faith. It requires staying open to the possibilities. Like a woman in a lovemaking session, ecstasy is not guaranteed. It is guaranteed to never happen, though, if it's never tried. During our Christian walk, sublimating our ways and elevating Godly ways takes faith. But like all things, with practice, understanding, even ecstasy comes. And just as often, it's mind-blowing and transcendent and strangely surprising. It's new every time.

Rather than wrestling God, consider surrender. We're all female before God's mighty sword, as C.S. Lewis noted. And true communion with light and truth is impossible without surrender.

The Real Iraq

Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq relays his disbelief and shock about the disconnect between reality in Iraq and what the press puts out here in America. I'm guessing that what he feels is akin to my reaction to watching the news after getting all my info online, but multiplied exponentially. The difference is so startling that I have quickly changed channels because the news (all of it, domestic and foreign) is so slanted and depressing.

The American media loathe George W. Bush. Yon makes no mention of this fact in his post, but the loathing surely motivates the misrepresentation of facts over here. No "thinking" person believes that Bush can succeed at anything. That's the premise and it's certainly the glib belief in Washington. It reminds me of a doctor looking at my son's ultrasound reports showing a resolved bilateral nephrocalcinosis after only one week and saying, "It's not possible" with the evidence that it is indeed possible in his hands. Such is the state of cognitive dissonance in the media. They must ignore the evidence otherwise it challenges other cherished beliefs.

But that mind-blindness gripping the media has consequences, because the Iraq war is first and foremost a war of information. There is no question that America has superior military power, but the war won't be won by might alone. Minds and hearts must change both among the American and Iraqi populace. Without that, the war is lost, no matter the military ability. Yon notes:

Clearly, a majority of Americans believe the current set of outdated fallacies passed around mainstream media like watered down drinks at happy hour. Why wouldn’t they? The cloned copy they get comes from the same sources that list the specials at the local grocery store, and the hours and locations of polling places for town elections. These same news sources print obituaries and birth announcements, give play-by-play for local high school sports, and chronicle all the painful details of the latest celebrity to fall from grace.

To illustrate the absurdity to which this conceit of the collective has grown, I’m tempted to borrow from the boy in the fairy tale, only this time pointing to and shouting at the doomsday-sayers parading by: “Hey, they aren’t wearing any clothes. . . . ” Except in this case, I realize I am not a lone voice.
Yon proposes something drastic (for a reporter) to remedy this absurd situation:
Those readers can first check to see if their local paper is a member of the NNA . Because only NNA members will be able to

” . . . print excerpts of Michael Yon’s dispatches, including up to two of his photographs from each dispatch. Online excerpts may use up to 8 paragraphs, use 1-3 photos, and then link back to the full dispatch on his site saying ‘To continue reading, click here.’”

If their local paper is a member of NNA, readers can contact the editor, urging their participation. [If Bob Owens’ experience is a reliable indicator, this might take several, uh, prompts.] By encouraging their local daily or weekly newspapers to reprint these dispatches in their print editions, more people without internet access can begin to see a more accurate reflection of the progress I have observed and chronicled in dispatches like “Achievements of the Heart,” “7 Rules: 1 Oath,” “The Hands of God,” and “Three Marks on the Horizon.”
I would suggest, this, too: You need to read guys like Michael Yon. It is impossible to be adequately informed by reading the newspaper or watching the news. Who gives a flip about Brittney Spears' latest crotch shot? Who cares that Lindsey just got out of rehab and stole a boyfriend? Good grief! The War in Iraq has life-changing ramifications for our children. We all will be affected by the success or failure in Iraq.

Iraq is NOT Vietnam. The West has serious, compelling long-term interests in the stability of the Middle East region. It would be nice if the MSM recognized that fact and set aside their hatred of Bush for a few minutes to report like grown-ups. But that would mean that they'd have to dedicate a few minutes to it and take some time from Brittney and Lindsey. I know, that would be terrible.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

European Xenophobia

I think there's a misunderstanding about Europe and the Muslim immigrants, some of whom are currently burning cars in the Netherlands after a Moroccan youth got shot for knifing two police officers. Europe doesn't claim to or even hope to integrate "the other". They condescend to and separate "the other". Europe is closer in ideals to India's treatment of the untouchables than to America's notion of a melting pot.

Multiculturalism is a means of keeping separation rather than some high-minded way to inclusion.

Over twenty years ago, while touring Paris in a stretch Mercedes with a multi-lingual interpretor who was under the mistaken notion that my dad was some GM dignitary, I was shocked to hear this learned man spout vile epithets about the Moroccan residents of the slums. My idealistic 16 year old years had never heard such a thing--though racism no doubt existed where I grew up and everywhere else in America. The man ranted on Gypsies and Muslims and on and on. And as we drove by the gorgeous architecture and beautiful city planning, we passed the slums. Whitish-gray buildings devoid of personality and stuffed full with a mass of underprivileged humanity. That experience and the archaic indoor plumbing and pornographic images decorating the train station darkened my view of Paris--an otherwise fascinating and thrilling city.

Today, Gateway Pundit's post about the riots in the Netherlands where one out of sixteen residents is Muslim and where the country has had unprecedented emigration--by the bourgeois. Commenter Daniel says this to the Americans engaging in a bit of schadenfreude at the Netherland's expense:

The Dutch are far from perfect, but a bunch of pansy appeasers they are not. They have a trend towards neutrality (because they're a small country), they are more left-winged then we are (political discussion are... fun), they have a crazy fetish for gun control (TASERS are illegal here @.@ ), and they have a knee-jerk hatred of Bush, but this particular case? Isn't because they've been bowing to muslim power recently, no sir.
The Dutch in particular don't have a history of appeasing totalitarians. They paid a steep price for fighting the Germans, a fight the Germans didn't expect.

Europe in general and Germany specifically, don't do well with "the other". While Americans might view Europe as "Europe", Europe is an artificial economic construct put together to compete with America. There is much mutual animosity between European countries and even hatred for neighbors not to mention immigrants. Xenophobia is not the exception. It's the rule. For all the angst Americans feel about the Mexican Illegal Immigration debate, it's nothing like the European fear and loathing.

As Daniel says:
I don't think you guys are being fair to the Dutch. I live here, and I'm as red as they come. One of my friends is a prosecutor of illegal immigrants (yeah, they actually prosecute them up here), and in my experience, actual attitudes towards Morrocan boys is unfriendly: Morrocans are often involved in crimes, and the Dutch know it. Remember, Pym Fortyn pushed for "integration" of immigrants, making sure they know and understand the language and values of the dutch (before he was assassinated by a left winger), and his party had overwhelming support after his death before it collapsed due to lack of leadership. Even so, today integration is a big deal (I went through a course myself). Geert Wilders (a slighty nutty right-winger who wants to ban the Koran and thinks Turkey is the enemy) has considerable (and growing) support in the country as well, and believe me, he and his party are no friends to muslim immigrants.
Mark Steyn worries about the waning of Europe. I worry about the waxing of Europe. As Claire Berlinski noted in her excellent book Menace in Europe, there is a totalitarian impulse under the veneer of civility. Multi-culturism is just a civilized term for class-ism and separation.

The question, who will European's blame for their situation? The logical answer would be the people burning their cars, but maybe not. Berlinski notes:
In a poll conducted by researchers at the University of Bielefeld, it was found that 51 percent of Germans believed Israel's present-day treatment of the Palestinians to be equivalent to the Nazi atrocities against European Jews during the Second World War; 68 percent believed that Israel was waging a "war of extermination" against the Palestinians; 82 percent were angered by Israel's policies toward the Palestinians; 62 percent were sick of "all this harping on" about German crimes against Jews, and 68 percent found it "annoying" that Germans today were still held to blame for Nazi crimes. In a triumph of understatement, the German pollsters remarked that the findings "may be worrying.
Faced with extinction, a species can either submit or fight. Who will Europe fight should Europe decide to fight? I believe that Europe will wake up and fight, and that's what worries me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Comcast Censors Users

In the spirit of openness, Comcast (not the Federal government) is interfering with some websites ability to transmit information. This is a disturbing trend to me. Why? There is not enough competition in the marketplace for consumers to find a better rival product. Cable companies essentially have a monopoly and then they engage in this type of behavior. An industry where there were multiple competitors where one wanted to shoot himself in the foot? Well. More power to him.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Work-Life Balance: Individuals Decide

It's almost impossible to fathom how intrusive work, with the aid of the latest technology, has become for the average corporate babe/dude. A friend who just got promoted had the pleasure of being away from family to celebrate well into the evening after work at a restaurant with an irritating boss, who, not surprisingly, chose to forgo relationships and children to live the feminist dream and hates anyone who didn't make that choice and so makes them pay--by going to a late dinner to satisfy the missing social needs.

Those who are self-employed have more freedom. Others have sacrificed career advancement just so they can say no to inane dinners and obtrusive work policies.

Ann Althouse pointed me to this New York Times editorial, "Oh Joy! Breakfast With The Boss". It analyzes different ways people have coped with the assault on down time. Having lots of executives come through our office and working with others on the business end of things, I have seen many choices and they tend to be internally motivated not externally dictated. That is, some executives create hard boundaries for their family lives and rarely budge. Some people consistently choose work over family because they're convinced that's the only way to excel.

Both are right.

While it does take a stronger constitution to fight the "man" in certain work environments, it often comes down to priorities. And, from what I've seen, people make choices because what they do (whatever it is) makes them happy.

Advice For Democratic Staffers Braving The Hinterlands

Go follow the link to the most important advice a Democratic staffer could get when intrepidly exploring the Deep, Deep, Deep, Deep South (except for New Orleans--they're immune to the disease there.)

He's Engaged, What Should I Do?

My brother sent me this link to a woman asking for this advice:

I am a 21-year-old female who has been having a secret affair with my boss for the past two years. When I met him he was single, but now he is engaged. He wants to continue the affair, and as embarrassing as it is to admit, I also want to continue being with him. Deep down I feel that I love him, and the way I see it, I'd rather have some of him than nothing.

I have tried to end things with him a couple of times before, but I always end up back with him. I know that working together doesn't help me at all because he often flirts with customers, and, of course, I get jealous.

It has come to a point where I am almost 100 percent sure he is messing with another co-worker. I know something's wrong with me for wanting to be with him, but it's just so hard for me to let go!

Is this woman a feminist? Should she change her behavior? Why should she stop if she's happy?

And what advice would you give?

Internet Searches

Check out the top searches worldwide. My favorites are highlighted:

The top searchers for other keywords were as follows (in order from first to third place):

"Jihad" - Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan

"Terrorism" - Pakistan, Philippines, Australia

"Hangover" - Ireland, United Kingdom, United States

"Burrito" - United States, Argentina, Canada

"Iraq" - United States, Australia, Canada

"Taliban" - Pakistan, Australia, Canada

"Tom Cruise" - Canada, United States, Australia

"Britney Spears" - Mexico, Venezuela, Canada

"Homosexual" - Philippines, Chile, Venezuela

"Love" - Philippines, Australia, United States

"Botox" - Australia, United States, United Kingdom

"Viagra" - Italy, United Kingdom, Germany (could this explain the birthrates Mark Steyn?)

"David Beckham" - Venezuela, United Kingdom, Mexico

"Kate Moss" - Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden

"Dolly Buster" - Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia

"Car bomb" - Australia, United States, Canada

"Marijuana" - Canada, United States, Australia

"IAEA" - Austria, Pakistan, Iran
What do you make of this?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

England: Healthcare So Good You Get Do It Yourself Denistry

Socialized health care is the panacea for the common man, right? Well, Britain's brown teeth have a cause besides the lack of personal hygiene: there aren't enough dentists. Consider this:

Six per cent of patients questioned said they had resorted to DIY treatment to avoid expensive dental bills.

This can include anything from using over-the-counter painkillers and salty water to combat an abscess to plugging a broken crown with chewing gum.

Others have resorted to more extreme measures. One patient in Lancashire claimed he had to "remove 14 teeth using pliers".
Those in charge of nationalized medicine want it this way. They want people to wait, it cuts costs.

Brown teeth. It gets worse. Read the whole article. It's like Nationalized Health Care contraception.

Rudy Inspires Fear: That Might Get Him Elected

I'm reading this Drudge-linked article in the New York Observer about Rudy's terror-inducing tenure in New York City. Liberals and progressives there remain "in denial" about his ability to win the Republican nomination and the whole kit and kaboodle.

Of course Rudy can win! At a talk he gave in Houston, he received adoring standing ovations. Plural. The crowd was overwhelmingly conservative. But this is the argument against Rudy:

Mr. Rangel said that he was nevertheless confident that Mr. Giuliani’s fortunes would eventually decline, whether because of the incongruity of his social positions with those of the base of the Republican Party, or because of his unusually eventful family history.

Referring to Andrew Giuliani’s reportedly distant relationship with his father since the ugly bust-up of Mr. Giuliani’s marriage with Donna Hanover, Mr. Rangel said it was because “sons respect and admire their fathers, but they love their mothers against cheating goddamn husbands.”
This argument depends on one of the cornerstones of anti-Conservative thinkers: Republicans, and Conservatives specifically, consider "family values" to be the defining issue in voting. Even though one of the greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan, was himself divorced and remarried and had strained relationships with his children, Democrats can't believe that a guy like Rudy or Fred Thompson for that matter will be elected.

But that premise is and always has been wrong. Republicans are a diverse, and shall I say it, tolerant lot. We even have gay and black friends! It's only shocking to Leftists drunk on their own moral authority.

It is really the Left's bias and discrimination against Republicans and conservatives that blinds them to the possibilities of a socially liberal, economically and defense-conservative Republican.

And remember this too: Republicans would love a President who takes it to the Left. One of the criticisms of Bush is that he was too genial, too seeking of common ground, too caring about what the Left thinks. Rudy gets points because he's unmoved by Leftist hate. That buys him a significant amount of grace among the conservatives. The more the Left goes at Rudy and he fights back, the more love he'll receive.

The Left should get used to the idea of another Republican president.

Methicillin-resistant S taphylococcus au reus: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

PHOTO: What's that? Read and find out.

MRSA, the bug in the headline, killed my son ten years ago. He acquired it in the hospital where most people used to acquire it. The bacteria was made supersonic by being exposed to increasing doses of increasingly strong antibiotics.

But then it escaped.

Many people are colonized with MRSA now, including my husband and I, presumably, and of course my surviving son. My surviving son ended up in isolation in the hospital. He was colonized with MRSA and could be a threat to other patients. At two pounds he wouldn't jump out of bed and hug the other babies, but the doctors and nurses caring for him might touch him and then touch another baby without washing their hands (something I saw often enough while there for four months).

Last year, my kid's pediatrician lamented the epidemic (she used the word) of normal old flesh wounds (cuts, abrasions) becoming infected with MRSA. She told me she had at least one case a week. She's not alone, evidently:

In the new study, Fridkin and his colleagues analyzed data collected in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Tennessee, identifying 5,287 cases of invasive MRSA infection and 988 deaths in 2005. The researchers calculated that MRSA was striking 31.8 out of every 100,000 Americans, which translates to 94,360 cases and 18,650 deaths nationwide. In comparison, complications from the AIDS virus killed about 12,500 Americans in 2005.

"This indicates these life-threatening MRSA infections are much more common than we had thought," Fridkin said.

In fact, the estimate makes MRSA much more common than flesh-eating strep infections, bacterial pneumonia and meningitis combined, Bancroft noted.

"These are some of the most dreaded invasive bacterial diseases out there," she said. "This is clearly a very big deal."
And that, clearly, is an understatement.

I'm not one for excessive overreaction to medical news stories. Seems like everything these days can kill you. HOWEVER, this is one story you should be very concerned about. Every time you go to the hospital, and increasingly, schools and other group environments, you're at risk to this bacteria that's everywhere.

Same advice as always, people: Stop using antibiotics unless you're nearly dead anyway. And when you use them, don't stop when you feel better. Knock out the bacteria. In addition, take probiotics--those supplements that introduce good bacteria (This is one of my favorite brands.) while taking antibiotics so your system isn't open to every bug that comes along after you beat the infection with an antibiotic. And finally, be fastidious about wound washing. Wash your hands. Good hygiene. (Read more here about getting out of the bathroom with clean hands.)

The unfortunate thing now is that it doesn't matter how circumspect you've been about antibiotic overuse in the past, your neighbor hasn't. And enough neighbors and their doctors have given useless antibiotics (for viruses, for example) that the bugs are strengthening. And if you get sick by one of these strengthened bugs, you'll need the heavy artillery to kill them. And the heavy artillery, itself, could kill you.

Last thought: Go wash your hands, clean your computer keyboard, clean your mouse, clean all your phones and clean your light switches and door handles. Switch out your hand-towels. Use disposable hand-towels during flu season. Don't shake hands at church (my husband told me nearly none of the men wash their hands--and statistically this bears out, only about 40% of men wash their hands after going to the bathroom). If you do shake hands, carry around the waterless hand sanitizer.

The alternative is using maggots. It works. But they're maggots. That's a diabetes ridden, infected foot with maggots.

John Edwards Sports Teflon, Too!

Why the Teflon just seems to coat anyone who isn't that persuasion, you know, Republican. This time it's John Edwards and his philandering (alleged) ways:

Usually, the mainstream press is happy to let tabloids do the dirty work so it can swoop in and fill in the blanks with on-the-record non-denial denials and explanations with just enough wiggle room for back-peddling down the road. That appeared to be how it would go down when the National Enquirer claimed John Edwards had an affair with campaign worker (and former Jay McInerney squeeze) Rielle Hunter. The notion of the candidate with the cancer-stricken wife getting his $400 haircuts mussed up by a woman who describes herself as "addicted to higher consciousness" has the makings of a dynamic and devastating primary season scandal.

What's more, the Enquirer says it has enough evidence to sink the campaign. Sources close to AMI tell Radar the tab is in possession of e-mails and phone records from Hunter to various acquaintances in which she details the affair and says she and John are in love with one another.

The refusal to push the affair story is the latest example of what one rival strategist dubbed "the Teflon campaign" of the former North Carolina senator. Remember last fall when an intern called a North Carolina Wal-Mart and asked a clerk to set aside a Playstation 3 for Edwards, even though Edwards is critical of the company's labor practices? Remember the revelation that two Edwards campaign bloggers authored anti-Catholic posts on their personal blogs? No, right? How about when Rolling Stone opened a profile on Edwards last August with: "If he weren't so rich, handsome, and well married, you might feel a little sorry for John Edwards."
I predict the least-scandal-ridden primary season and campaign season generally ever in the history of politics--at least on the Democratic side. The Media (who no one trusts anymore for this very reason) won't sully any Democrat. They clearly want someone, anyone besides a Republican, in as President, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to make the dream a reality.

But toe-tapping Republicans, watch out!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Multiculturalism Is Simply the State Between Different Cultures"

That incisive statement was written by James Lileks. Reminds me of one said by Jerry Seinfeld, "Bi is a city on the way to Gay." Lileks writes this in response to the latest Ann Coulter dust up. I actually saw the whole conversation flipping through the tube. Ms. Coulter makes a statement about Christian belief (hers anyway) and offended the interviewer. Lileks notes:

Every faith that builds on another regards itself as the last word. So Coulter’s remarks weren’t unusual; they were just impolitic. We don’t get into the details, because the details breed friction.

For some, however, anyone who ventures into the thicket of theological disputations is equally suspect, which led a guest on the Medved show today to utter a stupendously idiotic judgment: she found Ann Coulter’s remarks as offensive as a jihadi’s snuff video of Daniel Pearl’s execution. It was an interesting remark, because you could sense the parameters of her intellectual terrain. There is a big comfy warm spot in which the smart and decent people reside, and beyond that there be dragons. If these people believe in the warm mealy notions that hold all cultures equal, and regard the assertion of a culture’s values as the equivalent of passing gas in the museum, you’ll naturally get this. If such a mild assertion merits a visit from the police, then any frank expressions of doctrine will earn the same, until sermons turn into room-temp gruel. But I suspect the efforts of the police will be selectively applied, in order to assure all that the hitherto dominant culture has assumed the supine position the times require.
It's impolitic to say that the Way to enlightenment, Nirvana, heaven, God is through Jesus Christ.


More Evidence That Hillary Is The Teflon Girl

Hillary Clinton isn't above listening in on opponents but won't listen to terrorists?

A GOP official said, “Hillary Clinton’s campaign hypocrisy continues to know no bounds. It is rather unbelievable that Clinton would listen in to conversations being conducted by political opponents, but refuse to allow our intelligence agencies to listen in to conversations being conducted by terrorists as they plot and plan to kill us. Team Clinton can expect to see and hear this over and over again over the course of the next year.”
Betsy Newmark wonders if it will stick. It won't. If Chop-Hsu-y won't stick (she hasn't returned all the money, either, big surprise), a 15 year old practice of snooping illegally on enemies won't stick. She has the press providing her cover.

H/T Conservative Grapevine
Won't. Stick.

"Gray Rape"

There IS a never-never land between insufficient communication and actions taken, i.e. the Grey Zone that exists between Date Rape and Consensual false-protests. However, the solution is rather old fashioned:

  1. Girls, don't drink, do drugs, and learn to communicate clearly.
  2. Boys, always be a gentleman. That means no sex with a girl who is wasted. That means initiating communication before you unzip your pants.

The problem of course, is that moral standards have become so lax and the people engaging in this behavior are emotionally immature.

My rule? If you can't talk about sex, you shouldn't be having it.

Gold Hits Record High

I have a friend who said recently that he had no investments but that his mom had given him some gold coins. Um, friend, that's an investment whether you know it or not.

Today that "non investment" is worth $767.00/ounce.

Just sayin'.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Kid Nation and Other Shows

As most long-time readers know, we got rid of the television, cable and whatnot probably seven years ago now. First, my autistic son would sit like a zombie in front of Thomas the Tank Engine, and I was so overwhelmed, I simply didn't know what to do with him. It was him stare at the TV or stare at me and the latter freaked me out. Two, my husband and I were addicted to watching mindless shows. I would have the TV on during the day and watch Oprah or whatever arts show was on just to pass the time feeling overwhelmed (see #1).

It got ridiculous.

So, we sent cable to never-never land. We missed sports. I missed football, too. But we soldiered on. Well, this last year, I bought the hubby the flat screen, and then the DVR and then the universal remote and then I programed it. Well, ya gotta have cable! So we're back watching sports. The TV isn't on during the day. And I'm not really hooked into any show besides House. I just flip around (when I can make the remote work. Strangely, I could program it, but using the blasted thing is incredibly difficult.).

This last week I watch caught the Bionic Woman and Kid Nation. The former was OK. Unfortunately for Jaime Summers, she's not the most compelling person on the show. Battle Star Galactica actress Katee Sackoff steals every scene. Sackoff does tortured so well. The actress playing Jaime Summers seems bland in comparison. And she's not at all athletic. She just feels wrong for the part. Maybe she'll grow on me. So far, I think she was mis-cast.

Kid Nation surprised me. My husband couldn't get past the exploitation issues and I agree that it's disturbing to see a poor little ten year old sobbing for his family. What struck me most, though, is how Kid Nation reveals cultural changes. Adults these days underestimate children. We have infantilized children and even young adults so completely, that it's unimaginable that a seven year old cares for younger siblings all over the world. But they do. And they did. And they could. And they can.

Ironically, part of the reason I decided to home school was to foster independence in my children. Now that they're not pried out of bed at 6:00 a.m., they have time to make their own breakfast, clean up, get dressed, get their work out, and start their work. They are already working more independently, helping each other and caring for their younger sibling. Self esteem has risen.

Happiness is directly related to control. That is, when we feel in control, when we have something mastered, we get a sense of satisfaction. Our kids get deprived of that satisfaction when everything is done for them. They feel helpless and hopeless.

Anyway, I'll try to catch Kid Nation again. It's good to see that left to their own devices, even modern American kids would dig deep and have the emotional, intellectual and physical resources to survive--even if the situation is contrived.

Paul Krugman: Gore Derangement Syndrome Caused By Bush Derangement Syndrome

Whether it's his zeal to limit a person's choice about rock music or his zeal to limit a person's use of the atmosphere, the impulse within the man that desires to control others is what gives me a visceral response to Al Gore's policies and positions. Mr. Gore seems to have a real need to be the sanctimonious voice of morality. And since he's a Democrat, he certainly can't go back, finish seminary and actually preach in a church. No, in Mr. Gore's case, he created a mega-worldwide church and invokes damnation on anyone who refuses to believe.

And Republicans interested in science or economics who don't buy the gospel are deranged. So says Paul Krugman. Who can rationally disagree with Al Gore? Why would the Right be against his beliefs? Krugman thinks it goes back to the Right's insecurity over the Presidency of George W. Bush. Ultimately, disliking Gore's means and methods and the actual substance of his policies can be pinned on the defense of an illegitimate President Bush:

And now that Mr. Bush has proved himself utterly the wrong man for the job — to be, in fact, the best president Al Qaeda’s recruiters could have hoped for — the symptoms of Gore derangement syndrome have grown even more extreme.


Climate change is, however, harder to deal with than acid rain, because the causes are global. The sulfuric acid in America’s lakes mainly comes from coal burned in U.S. power plants, but the carbon dioxide in America’s air comes from coal and oil burned around the planet — and a ton of coal burned in China has the same effect on the future climate as a ton of coal burned here. So dealing with climate change not only requires new taxes or their equivalent; it also requires international negotiations in which the United States will have to give as well as get.

Everything I’ve just said should be uncontroversial — but imagine the reception a Republican candidate for president would receive if he acknowledged these truths at the next debate. Today, being a good Republican means believing that taxes should always be cut, never raised. It also means believing that we should bomb and bully foreigners, not negotiate with them.

Was Mr. Krugman writing about Gore Derangement Syndrome? Because this whole piece certainly feels like B.D.S. President Bush is al Qaeda's best friend. President Bush is a stupid rube. President Bush is an illegitimate President.

And then there's President Bush's policies. It's axiomatic to Democrats that dealing with climate change (and of course, the climate change is a bad thing, it must be, if it exists at all as anything more than the natural order of things) we must raise taxes, give in to foreign governments and "acknowledge these truths".

There's no debate in the Democrat-o-sphere. Human-caused climate change isn't science, it's an inconvenient truth. And Al Gore is the chief evangelist. And the only reason Republicans can't see the truth is that they hate Al Gore and sensible policies like raising taxes. And the Right just can't abide when the greatness of guys like Gore are acknowledged with prizes like the Academy Award and the Nobel Peace Prize.

While the Left has been bereft of zealous sermons for as long as they've been hippies, most Republicans still know a good sermon when they hear one. And they recognize a preacher posing as a politician. For all the Left's projection about George Bush, it's Albert Gore, Jr. who carries himself as the Gaia-ordained apostle of light and "truth". His faith isn't in the science of climate change, his faith is in his own rightness. If he actually believed his sermons, he'd live in a mud hut and restrict his caloric intake so he'd reduce his carbon and methane emissions.

So, Republicans are unreasonable and haters and deranged because they dare to doubt the dubious "truth" and the man who delivers it. Who's deranged again?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Do You Know This Woman?

Photo: Josh Olson captures the essence of evil. Isn't she harmless looking?

I have learned the hard way that some people aren't what they seem. Most people are kind, average people just doing the best they can in the world. But there are those individuals out there who just seem needy, lonely and maladjusted but they're really people who are angry, entitled, deviant, and sometimes violent. Once the change is made--to view people in terms of filling the unmet need in their life, that people are things to be used for one's own purpose--these people cross the line from pathetic to pathological. They are dangerous.

The internet is a haven for these dangerous people as too many victims have learned.

The woman pictured is such a danger. She is a message-board lurker who conned a woman into 1) believing that she was a man named Jesse James 2) that Jesse James was in love with the victim 3) Jesse James convinced the victim to become engaged with her (as him) 4) Jesse James had a life-threatening health problem and 5) Jesse James died. And then, the evil woman, pretending to be the fiancé Jesse James sister, visited the victim and became real-life "friends" with her. That is, this con-artist was staying in the victim's house.

And then the friends of the victim did some checking. You can read the post at the above link to find out the rest of the story.

I had a family member who lived life like The Law lurked around every corner looking to "git 'em". Mostly, the conspiracy theories raged because this person had good reason to fear The Law. To live the life of a cynical, mistrustful person is to reveal much about one's own character.

However, it can be damaging, too, to ignore clear signs of strangeness. If something doesn't add up, don't try to make the equation work anyway. Listen to that little voice. Or as Oprah says, "When in doubt, don't."

Internet safety site resources.

H/T Boing Boing

The Case For Saddam's Yellow Cake

Gina Cobb has the whole story.

Clarence Thomas Quotes

John Hawkins excerpts his favorite quotes from Justice Thomas' new autobiography. I look forward to reading it. My favorite:

(Daddy) warned us that if we died, he'd take our bodies to school for three days to make sure we weren't faking, and we figured he meant it. He also told us that our teachers, like Aunt Tina, were always right. Even if they weren't, it did no good to complain to him. Doing so was sure to get us in worse trouble. --p. 15