Friday, August 31, 2007

Brian DePalma, Hollywood "Realism" and The Negative Spirit UPDATED

A slew of anti-American, anti-military, anti-Iraq mission films will be coming out and one in particular, the Brian De Palma directed Redacted shocked the Venice film festival attendees. The story portrays the rape and murder of a 14 year old Iraqi girl and then murder of her family at the hands of U.S. soldiers. This is a true story. It is a horrible story. It is a shameful story.

And it is one story.

Iraq overflows with stories. So much so that I remember Michael Yon writing about being overwhelmed with the information he has to process every day while embedded with various groups of soldiers. So a writer must choose his stories. The stories chosen reveal as much about the journalist, writer or director as they reveal about the subject.

In the sea of Iraq war stories, Brian De Palma swims into a particularly diseased water. He could swim all year. He chooses to swim during the red tide.

De Palma's choice, really all of Hollywood's choice, is to judge the military, judge the Iraq mission and judge America with a "realistic" eye. This is an interesting perspective. Other "realities" include soldiers who sacrifice themselves, soldiers who save babies, soldiers who save dogs, soldiers who befriend former enemies. The war is a complex tapestry, all of it real, some ugly and some beautiful. The Left sees the ugly and believes they see the truth. But while it may be real, it can't be said that it's true, because truth is a whole picture--the good and the evil.

It is especially easy to see the evil. It takes no special gift to portray the wretched and shocking and call it art. The Anchoress says:

Mostly this “offensive” art seems juvenile to me - it feels like the sort of stuff you come up with when you’re 14, or at least the stuff I would have come up with when I was 14. Daring? No. It’s actually as safe as denouncing Bush, because Christians do not riot or separate heads from bodies simply because someone drew a picture. This stuff is not edgy, just rather pedestrian.
It's safe depicting those who protect you because you feel safe in the comforting arms of democracy and artistic freedom. No government agent will take your art and destroy it. No jack boot will be at your back.

Along these lines, I was reading G. K. Chesterton today. This time Heretics. Again, I'm delighting in his humorous skewering of modern thought. The progressives are nothing if not predictable. Chesterton wrote Heretics in 1905 and his arguments are as fresh during this murky post-modern mushy headedness today as they were then. Chapter two is titled The Negative Spirit. Does anything so describe Western Leftists as a "negative spirit"? No. Chesterton says this:
The tradition of calling a spade a spade starts very early in our literature and comes down very late. But the truth is that the ordinary honest man, whatever vague account he may have given of his feelings, was not either disgusted or een annoyed at the candour of the moderns. What disgusted him, and very justly, was not the presence of a clear realism, but the absence of a clear idealism.
It's not the realism of De Palma's film that will be objectionable, for the facts he presents may well be the real ones (that remains to be demonstrated, however; Hollywood and the media in general excels at sins of omission). What I already object to, without having seen the film, is that in the totality of truth portraying only one factual story becomes, in essence, a lie.

Hollywood and a huge segment of the media seem determined not to see the truth but to see one reality. It is a narrative and parts of it are real, but it's not the truth. The truth is revealed by seeing the whole not just one small part.

If Hollywood and the media want to be viewed with respect again, perhaps they would consider telling the whole truth.

UPDATE: Roger Simon weighs in:
So why would DePalma choose to tell this story now?

Propaganda, of course. But there's a bit more. We are all creatures of our times and of our great successes. This is perfectly human. DePalma, quintessentially a man of my generation, equates Iraq with Vietnam not just because he may think they are the same (ridiculous as that is) but because Vietnam made him the man he is today. In other words, he was able to live a fantastic Hollywood life (even with the normal vicissitudes),including the fancy houses, cars, women, etc., by being a "groovy" man of his generation - militantly opposed to Vietnam War and for all traditional PC things. Why change? Indeed, why not drill down further into the old well when things aren't as they once were. Why think about the specifics of the current situation or about history? They would only disrupt personal progress.
There are many films, real and truthful, that haven't been made.

Glenn Reynolds comments:
The truth? Hollywood can't handle the truth! How ironic that Jack Nicholson's A Few Good Men character displayed the sneering contempt of a corrupt military commander when the character more rightly embodies Hollywood's contempt for all things moral and military.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Environmentalism and Forestry

This article should be in your intellectual arsenal when it comes to arguing with stupid environmentalists. About trees:

North Americans are the world's largest per-capita wood consumers and yet our forests cover approximately the same area of land as they did 100 years ago. According to the United Nations, our forests have expanded nearly 100 million acres over the past decade.

The relationship between trees and greenhouse gases is simple enough on the surface. Trees grow by taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, through photosynthesis, converting it into sugars. The sugars are then used as energy and materials to build cellulose and lignin, the main constituents of wood.
There is a misconception that cutting down an old tree will result in a net release of carbon. Yet wooden furniture made in the Elizabethan era still holds the carbon fixed hundreds of years ago.

Berman, a veteran of the forestry protest movement, should by now have learned that young forests outperform old growth in carbon sequestration.
Although old trees contain huge amounts of carbon, their rate of sequestration has slowed to a near halt. A young tree, although it contains little fixed carbon, pulls CO2 from the atmosphere at a much faster rate.
Plant more trees. Like, duh!

Doctors Loaning Money To Patients

Lending to patients happens all sorts of ways in the medical profession. It looks like now the insurance companies are getting in on the act. I doubt they'll do it for no interest as most docs do, though. For most treatment, a doctor will offer no interest because they truly believe the patient needs the care--so much so they'll delay payment to themselves.

Insurers, on the other hand, are in it for one thing only: the money. And they are examining the "credit-worthiness" of the patient. So are some doctors and dentists:

The zero-interest plans are not for everyone. In fact, they are available only to the creditworthy — meaning they offer no help to those among the nation’s 47 million uninsured who are in difficult financial situations.

And creditworthiness is starting to be judged even more stringently, in light of the subprime mortgage crisis’s impact on the debt markets, according to David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report, a newsletter for the credit card industry.

Even for those who can get credit approval, the plans make sense only if users are able to make payments on time and close the loan on schedule, typically within 12 months. Otherwise, the loans after defaults can carry interest rates of 20 percent or more — similar to the default penalty on a typical credit card.

“We are very careful to tell patients upfront, ‘Be sure you can make your payments,’ ” said Dr. Richard J. Mercurio, a dentist in Lincroft, N.J. He arranges patient financing through the CareCredit unit of G.E., the leader in consumer medical financing.

Dr. Mercurio says he knows of at least two patients who missed payments and received monthly bills charging high interest rates. “They were not happy,” he said.

We have never done this with a patient. In fact, it strikes me as just wrong. What's to say the doctor isn't recommending care for purely financial reasons?

As for the 47 million who don't qualify? Sliding scale, free clinics, free health-care, they have it all. They might not be getting free Lasik surgery, boob jobs or laser-whitening, but those are rather elective procedures.

Back to loaning to patients. Should doctors be banks charging interest should a loan go unpaid?

American Left Aren't The Only Ones Anticipating New Leadership

Dr. Sanity points to this very interesting article. It's worth reading the whole thing. Here's a tidbit, OK, more like a meal:

Like al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the many other adversaries America and the West must continue to face, the Russians are looking forward to the time after George Bush leaves office. It is assumed that the American electorate has by now tired of playing policeman to the world, and that the next president will be a liberal Democrat, eager to make unilateral concessions, slash military budgets to fund social programs, and cut-and-run from foreign battlefields.

America is demonized as the "cowboy," going it alone; and Western politicians, especially on the left, score easy points by smugly playing to their domestic anti-American galleries. The lethal enemies of the West cannot help but notice this dynamic, and from car bombings in Iraq, to the rhetoric of Russian and Chinese military commanders, they exploit it to drive further wedges between the U.S. and her allies.

We are caught in a trap. The very success of the Bush strategy, in preventing another major terror strike on the U.S., in confronting and arresting the progress of Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere, and also in consolidating the post-Cold War European gains of NATO and the European Union, contributes to an illusion of security in a world that has seldom been such a dangerous place. People forget what alliances require.

Forget allies, the American Left seems to forget what their own security requires. It's so much fun to bash Bush, but will any of them grow up in the face of real security concerns should they take the mantel? Or is every world leader from Castro to Assad to Putin to Ahmadinejad betting correctly?

And this one factor may well be why we'll have a Republican again as President in 2008.

Hamas Using Children

Bloodied and dead children courtesy of being sent by Hamas militants to retrieve rocket launchers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Soros Group Fined, You Won't Hear It Anywhere

You won't hear about it because the "deciders" decided not to share. More at Ace.

Drunken Astronauts

Turns out there's no evidence of debauched space. That's too bad. It was so much fun thinking about a billion dollar airplane joy riding in outer space.

Leona Helmsley Roars To The Grave

LEFT: I wonder if she is in the hot seat? Look at that face; pure contempt.

I gave Leona Helmsley the benefit of the doubt during her trial and incarceration which I had attributed to class warfare and rich-people hatred, but now, I'm beginning to think that she is one of those mean, petty, vindictive, manipulative, condescending, imperious people who would be little less than nothing were it not for loads of money. I suspect she came from the plebe class and despised her working-class roots. They're the worst sort when endowed with unearned cash.

Ah, and after a little peak at Wikipedia, what do you know? I swear I did not look at this entry before typing the above. Of course, this doesn't make me a genius. She's pretty easy to deconstruct, I mean, even the Donald had her figured out:

She was born Leona Mindy Rosenthal in Marbletown, Ulster County, New York, to Polish Jewish immigrants, daughter of a hatmaker, and raised in Brooklyn. As an adult, she legally changed her surname to Roberts, according to an obituary in the New York Times.[1]. Helmsley would later claim that she appeared in billboard ads for Chesterfield cigarettes, but there is no evidence of this, and her claim remains entirely unsubstantiated.
So this woman pretends at wealth and fame and will do anything to get a name. Ambitious in the extreme and tyrannical to those "beneath" her, her disrespect of the help just masks her own fear of loss and self-loathing. To mask her powerlessness, she feels powerful by abusing everyone around her. Her family makes nice soft targets. Most people attempt to be nice to grandma, but she would have none of it. No doubt, kindness was viewed with suspicion. Anyone nice is just after money--just like Leona was herself. That's what people do, project their secret weaknesses on others. (Watch what the Clintons accuse others of, it's very telling.) Anyone who met her disdain with disdain was cast aside. Her child and grandchildren had no chance with her. She was only about herself.

Her only child, a son from her first (lesser) marriage died of a heart-attack. This is what Leona did:
On March 31, 1982, her only child, Jay Panzirer, died of a heart attack. Leona then sued her son's estate for money and property that she said he had borrowed, and her son's widow Mimi received an eviction notice. Mimi Panzirer - the mother of Leona's four grandchildren - later said the legal expenses wiped her out and "to this day I don't know why they did it."
I know why. Her son was not of sufficiently bred stock. She hated her past and he was one big reminder of that. Once he died, she could absolve herself of bringing his wife and family to nothing.

It looks like many of us who were Leona defenders (the legal case was weak) were wrong. She might just be one of those people who deserve to spend time sleeping on bunk with a public toilet. Seems Paris Hilton learned more lessons from her bunk-time than Leona did. Justice is cruel, though. She may have stipulated a golden sarcophagus, but she's still dead. Even Leona's money and arrogance can't save her from that humble fate.

Home Schooling: The Personal Is the Political

Some people in my life think I'm absolutely insane for taking on this endeavor. Some think I'm finally fulfilling God's will for my life. It's like there is no in between.

The last time I felt that my behavior so polarized acquaintances was when I opted to give birth at home. Scandalous! One friend felt that I was making a statement rejecting the medical field. I was doing nothing of the sort. Another thought I was abusing my future child by being so "careless" as to home birth.

Must home schooling be a political statement?

I thought you might like to read this book, if you're considering a classical education.

South Korean Hostages To Be Released, Women Suffered Rape

Gateway Pundit reports that the women were raped. Have you heard about this in the MSM? Yeah, neither have I. It's being reported by the free press, aka a Blogger, in Afghanistan, though:

The local and international news agencies did not reveal the news for some reason But only one local media revealed the news in Kabul. The report witnessed by Mr. Pathan the governor and he added that Pakistani Taliban did the assault.

Home School Curriculum

A reader emailed and asked what curricula I'm using. Here goes (keep in mind this is my first attempt at home schooling and this is my first foray into curriculum, my opinion is really a first impression):

Language, History, Geography, Spelling, Vocabulary: Sonlight

Math: Horizons, Math U See (Word of marketing advice: Get rid of the man pictures on the front page of the websites. Pictures of happy kids, yes. Men, no.)

Latin: Latin's Not So Tough

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears (Ah, a happy child, no middle-aged men.)

The Sonlight curriculum is for Grades 3 - 5. The course does a survey of world history. We have a time-line, maps, etc. that coordinate. Simultaneously, we're going through the Bible. Keep in mind, this approach is rather secular in that the Bible is treated as a history book or piece of literature. We're not doing much in the way of doctrine. We're learning the story. I intend to integrate art history and architectural history into the world history. It seems like a natural fit. The kids can get a sense of culture through art and architecture.

Additionally, the Sonlight curriculum is literature based. That means that concepts are taught via chapter books, poetry, history books, atlas's, etc. The curriculum would be challenging for a non-reader. My kids love reading and so this will work for us, I think.

Sonlight does one great thing: It integrates a schedule for you. This is like manna from heaven. It helps me keep track of everything. Should I ever be audited by the state, I'll have easy to understand schedules from every week we work. It will help me keep things straight weeks into the year.

I chose two Math curricula because my son and daughter are both uneven in their math education. Math U See arrived today. I'll review it when I understand it better.

Latin, for me, was an essential part of their education. It will make all other language comprehension and vocabulary development easier. We'll add Greek later and integrate it into translating the New Testament. Who doesn't own a Greek lexicon? Sheesh! I'm kidding. I'm kidding.

Already, I love the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. My son, who struggles with writing is actually picking this up with gusto. It hasn't gotten too complicated, yet. It is giving me a chance to correct his bad habits. He gets mad at me, but he'll thank me later. (Wait, what am I saying? No he won't.) It is simple and straight forward. And so far, no tears!

Notably absent is a science curriculum. We've been collecting bugs, specifically dragonflies (dead ones), this summer and had the opportunity to watch a caterpillar go through the stages to attempt to grow into a moth. I say "attempt" because a friend smashed him, alas, as he was breaking free from the chrysalis. Anyway, science and art are rather involved things. I wasn't sure I could handle big projects, but I think maybe we'll be able to do it after all.

Schedule: 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Morning snack, Lunch breaks
Bible--Memory verse, Reading, Prayer
History & Geography--Coordinates with Bible
Language, Spelling, Vocabulary, Exposition

Ultimately, I'm hoping for a classical education. I like a systematic approach to education. Any thoughts?

Gay Republicans For Family Values--UPDATE

Meh. I'm sick of rewarding hypocritical Democrats. Since when is homosexuality bad to Democrats? And why would they out a person anyway except to exploit what they perceive as homophobia by Republicans? I thought Democrats embraced the "other".

But Craig is HYPOCRITICAL!!!!!

Let me put it this way: I think Republicans should retire over sex scandals when Democrats start voluntarily living carbon neutral lives in mud huts powered by windmills, give extra money to the government because taxes aren't high enough and boot the criminals in their midst.

The fact is that Democrats don't give a poop about toe tapping in a toilet stall. They don't care about $100K in a freezer. What they care about is power. Power comes by bringing the opposition down. It's especially delicious when there's sex involved.

So Larry Craig should stay. It seems Congress is full of scheming, corrupt, hypocritical, sex-crazed, money-obsessed scumbags. He'll be right at home.

And now, the rational, clear-headed, good Melissa comes forward.

OK, I'm being cynical. What she says:

Craig has a difficult moral problem if, as it seems, he has a gay sexual orientation, but he has chosen to marry a woman. Cheating on his wife and obtruding on the bathroom-going public is no way to deal with his predicament. It's especially ugly if he's taking this miserable course in order to maintain his grip on political power with an electorate that wouldn't tolerate him if he lived his life openly and honestly.
Listen, I think guys who repeatedly cheat and do it in bathrooms (ewww!) are scum. Gay guys who marry women and have families while continuing their secret gay lifestyle so they can have a "legitimate" life are worse than scum. Congressmen who try to intimidate cops? Piece of crap scum. Scum. Scum. Scum. Scum. Scum.

Let us pray. Better?

That the Left believes that conservatives hate gay people and hope to exploit this still makes me crazy. Larry Craig is an amoral idiot. Republicans should be better than that. It's about time they start making a feeble attempt at that noble goal--smart, moral leaders, I mean.

UPDATE: This is generally my husband's position. He thinks the evidence is thin. Me, too. Why would Craig cop to it? Lawyer up, dude! Well, the fact that he didn't implies stupidity. But then again, he'll have plenty of company in Congress.

And there's a poll here. H/T Glenn Reynolds

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Apple iPhone Hack Attack

To my way of thinking, the only loser in this whole mess is AT&T. It seems to be to Apple's advantage to have their phones on all networks. Everyone can use them. There is obviously a market for them.

People like me are stuck with Sprint because I'm too big of a tightwad to buy a phone on another network until the contract is over. Of course, by then all the bugs should be out of the iPhone, too. Lots of people would like on in the meantime, though, and will pay a premium to get it.

AT&T is in trouble. The lawsuit may be AT&T suing Apple.

H/T Instapundit

Working Women Doing Jobs They Don't Want To Do

I'm no economist, but I see a problem with Megan McCardle's supposition:

One particular consideration I think is underdiscussed is the fact that much of the labor illegal immigrants provide substitutes for women's home labor. And I don't just mean nannies for rich women. I mean cleaning services, and food processing, and dry cleaning, and grocery delivery, and all the other things that make it possible for large numbers of women to work outside the home. In an ideal world, of course, women and men would take equal responsibility for the household. But in the less than ideal world that we actually inhabit, an increase in the price of those services would probably mean that fewer women would find it cost-effective to work outside the home.
People will pay a certain amount for certain kinds of labor. Period. White, purple or green, legal or illegal, no one will pay above what they think appropriate for a job. Consumers who refuse to pay the price or take the slacker, will just end up with a sloppy house.

I don't see women leaving the job market should the economy make it too expensive to hire someone or the house cleaning worker stinks. With a tighter economy, people will need to keep their job. They'll need it because of other inflationary pressures. Without their job, they might have time to clean the toilet and grocery shop, but they'll be buying Mac-n-Cheese and Ramen noodles to survive.

American families will just end up with a pigsty for a house and two-feet tall grass. Horrors!

H/T Instapundit

Update: Anonymous (that wise and ubiquitous commenter) says: How about down-sizing?

Abandoning Iraq to Vietnam's Fate...Except Worse

I don't know how any American can't feel shame over the humanitarian disaster America left in her wake in Vietnam. Some people on the left view that time as their biggest ideological triumph. It is very much the cutting of ones nose to spite ones face. Mark Steyn is glad the President finally called out the insanity. Steyn connects the consequential dots of the Democrat's "finest hour". America still pays a horrible diplomatic and security price for the expedience of yesteryear:

American victory in the Cold War looks inevitable in hindsight. It didn't seem that way in the Seventies. And, as Iran reminds us, the enduring legacy of the retreat from Vietnam was the emboldening of other enemies. The forces loosed in the Middle East bedevil to this day, in Iran, and in Lebanon, which Syria invaded shortly after the fall of Saigon and after its dictator had sneeringly told Henry Kissinger, "You've betrayed Vietnam. Someday you're going to sell out Taiwan. And we're going to be around when you get tired of Israel."

President Assad understood something that too many Americans didn't. Then as now, the anti-war debate is conducted as if it's only about the place you're fighting in: Vietnam is a quagmire, Iraq is a quagmire, so get out of the quagmire. Wrong. The "Vietnam war" was about Vietnam, if you had the misfortune to live in Saigon.

But if you lived in Damascus and Moscow and Havana, the Vietnam war was about America: American credibility, American purpose, American will. For our enemies today, it still is. Osama bin Laden made a bet – that, notwithstanding the T-shirt slogan, "These Colors Do Run": They ran from Vietnam, and they ran from the helicopters in the desert, and from Lebanon and Somalia – and they will run from Iraq and Afghanistan, because that is the nature of a soft, plump ersatz-superpower that coils up in the fetal position if you prick its toe. Even Republicans like Sen. John Warner seem peculiarly anxious to confirm the bin Laden characterization.

Here's what I don't understand. The American people, more than the political elite seem willing to hang on for the long-term, understanding that losing this war means delaying the inevitable and burdening the next generation. But throw the populace a bone, for Petreus' sake! Americans want to see winning. If the press won't show it (and they seem determined not to), then the leadership must lead and talk to the people loudly and often. Call a press conference once a week. Whatever it takes!

This is a war that will cut America off at the knees should we do anything akin to retreating. I am quite sure that that is what some are hoping for. Against all odds, the American public seems to be coming around. It's a truly miraculous development, when you think about it. They are managing to get their news elsewhere.

Self-serving aside: Could it be that alternative media (including blogs) is truly making a difference?

Doing Her Duty

Just a years work in Iraq. Some people are saying that this girl's life could no way be this challenging. It might not be, but it definitely could be. I write this as someone whose life could never be put in a made-for-TV movie. No one would believe it.

I'm willing to believe her.

Economy Worries

Big, fat, legitimate ones. Please read this and this. Are we headed toward a Depression-era problem or will this just be a 1987 miserable moment in time, which is bad enough.

I think it's perfectly rational to be spooked. The question is what to do? Do we put our money under our mattress? Do we sell stocks?

And, if we keep stocks, what's the definition of a "good" one?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Michael Vick's Mea Culpa

Not impressed, but it will probably do for most Americans. I hate it when people speak in the third person. Somehow, it makes me believe that they're disassociated from their apologies:

"I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player," he said.
Read the whole thing. Do you believe him?

Housing Bodes Ill

Well, Mama's good mood didn't last, did it? Here's what my friend, the ray of sunshine, is saying today:

Part of the problem is that foreclosures and forced sales due to impending default and foreclosures are now pushing way more homes on the market. Absolutely every bit of objective evidence seems to show that more and more homes are due to be forced back on the market by resets and recasts for several years. It is mind-boggling to contemplate the situation. We have a sharply reduced pool of buyers due to tightened underwriting and appraisal standards, combined with rapidly growing supply. If no new home were built in the US for a year, market supply would probably continue to rise for the entire year just because of the number of individuals who must sell their homes. We are also in the early stages of recession....

Both condo and single-family sales patterns show that the market in the NE is actually recovering somewhat, and that the market in the South has taken another downturn, while the West is tanking to a historic degree.

Given these conditions, many homes in the West are likely to lose about 35% of their value from the peak. The situation depends on neighborhoods. The worst losses will be seen in the recently developed areas and neighborhoods, whereas the areas with older housing will hold their values better.
In another post she shares her concerns about how Americans will act during a coming economic crunch:
History shows patterns of economic distress in human populations which produce social distress, upheaval and often a targeting of foreign groups within a country. The irrationalism of Communist and other forms of "right-thinking" are reemerging in the right and conservative groups now. This is not a favorable social development, because the US is moving into bad economic times and certainly will continue to deal with problems and attacks from radical Muslims.
This concern has bothered me for some time. We do not live in a pre-Depression America. The notion of stealing if you were poor was not the dominating mentality. People were, on the whole, far more church-going, community-spirited and moral. My husband's great-grandfather literally gave away the store. My grandma's family and farm fed any hungry person who stopped by.

Will ConAgra feed the suffering hoards? Are there enough community farms to feed the hungry should the bottom drop out? Would the suffering lash out? What kind of social unrest nips at the heels of a serious economic down turn?

We are a fat and complacent country. While people here are good and generous, I worry about prolonged and chronic economic stress.

NEA's Sad Vacation Stories

The average American receives 14 vacation days and takes ten. What do teachers do?

Of the 454 people surveyed, 76% recorded receiving four weeks or more vacation this summer with many of them receiving 8 weeks or more summer vacation time. Despite these cheerful results the NEA asserts, “Taking the ‘whole summer off’ isn't quite like it sounds. . . Paperwork, planning, preparation and continuing education can shorten the summer quite a bit.”
I guess I didn't really vacation either, considering I watched my kids, shopped for curriculum and went to a conference. Didn't feel like vacation at all!

H/T Education and Home School News

Home School: First Day of School by A First Time Teacher--UPDATE

Like everyone else in Texas, school started today, except we didn't get up at 6:00 a.m. (7:30) and we didn't get on a big, hot, un-air-conditioned, yellow bus. We walked to the kitchen, had breakfast, cleaned up, and started with our studies.

I was nervous. There seemed to be so much material and I really wanted to finish in three hours as positive reinforcement for the kids. See? It won't be as long as school. You'll get to go swimming for gym time! The day did extend longer than I expected but they took an hour break in the morning to watch Sesame Street with little brother. That won't happen again. When they take a long break, the momentum is lost. Lesson learned.

The curriculum integrates language, phonics, Bible, history and geography. So today we covered, no joke, Genesis 1 and the creation week, the location of Mesopotamia and believed location of Eden, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and modern-day Iraq. We prayed for the Iraqis and for our Troops. We discussed the notion of pre-history and imagined the world without fire. We also reviewed the continents and oceans. (They knew both. Montessori has a good geography program.) Spelling, hand-writing, math and reading were straight-forward affairs. The math and Latin curriculum are in the mail. Today, we worked on multiplication memorization drills. The kids also learned the proper usage of a/an. And they finished their day by calling a couple grandmas to do an "interview" for a future essay.

Sounds like a ton of work and I guess it was a ton of work. We just didn't have the business of getting up from desks and sitting down, walking to a class, going to the bathroom, recess and whatnot. So while I fretted about the TV watching, they probably waste at least that much time in class in the morning.

We didn't do art, music, or science. They will have to practice piano. They will have dance and drama. In the spring semester, we may join a theater group. I didn't buy a science curriculum. Maybe I will. If things go as I think they might, we may have Friday's free to do extra art and science projects.

The negatives: Bickering. Fidgeting. Irritating extraneous outbursts. Little brother braying like a donkey being branded to get attention. Perhaps this last issue concerns me most. Little Toot is not easy to entertain at this age. If sister and brother are here he wants them to play. I think this is a stage we'll have to endure.

All in all, not too bad. Perhaps it's the first love effect. It very well could be. From what I hear, there are highs and lows and good and bad days, sometimes weeks. That's to be expected, I guess. We are all learning the drill.

UPDATE: I forgot their read a-loud and their chapter books. They have two stories going--one about capturing family memories (thus the grandma interviews), the other focuses on the Island of Capri and is pleasure reading. They do a lot of reading out loud. They also have a memory verse set to music.

Petreaus & Politics

Matt Sanchez has a must-read essay up at RightWingNews. He's embedded in Ramadi.

To a man leading the most powerful military in the world, it is disconcerting that Petraeus' greatest concern may not be enemy action but public dissatisfaction. As an embedded reporter with the American military, I write these words from Iraq, where I've never met a "pro-war" Marine, soldier; just troops who want to successfully complete their task. There are those who are opposed to this war and those opposed to the idea of war itself—I suspect these are the groups who denounce children playing pretend war in school yards, but when it comes to supporting a true war on a real battlefield, the troops should expect real support.

I don't fault General Petreus because he has a clear political understanding. He knows that if he plays this wrong, the outcome could very well be war defunding by a weak, corrupt Congress. He's heard the words, "Don't think that we won't do it."

Unfortunately, I think the result of the Petreus soft-sell might be the opposite of what he intends. Like the Patton quote Sanchez mentions, Americans like winners. There has been scant evidence, due to a biased media, that we're winning. The only voice we look forward to hearing is General Petreus. If the President or any military leader claims any sort of victory, the press immediately dissects and discards the notion. They laughably cry "bias"!

In addition, I know people even now, who just can't let the origins of the Iraq war go. Convinced that Bush manipulated intelligence, they refuse to get behind the effort because it was a made-up conflict. No amount of reasoning works. The war never should have happened. Period. These people continue to refuse to come to the intellectual table now, today, weighing the evidence as it currently stands.

Watching Russert's round-table this Sunday, I marveled at the reporter's consensus: No matter what happens, Iraq is lost. It's a mess. It's irredeemable. The only choice is the least bad choice. It was a disgusting display, really. All smartly dressed, erudite and vapid at the same time. Do they know of any facts on the ground at all? Maybe, but they're just spewing what they believed before the war. It's hopeless.

And while a few educated people read blogs, and lots of people keep personal blogs and diaries, the main news people consume is beamed from NBC, CBS and ABC. Russert throws soft-balls to three biased reporters (the New York Times guy was the only one remotely positive) and those are The Facts. Ameicans, the vast majority uninterested in politics, absorb them like poison.

"The Facts" are nothing of the sort. They are opinions backed with selective evidence. But how is David Petreus supposed to fight against that narrative? Unless he was making a daily news conference, he couldn't.

Perhaps, a few emotional speeches talking about a peaceful Iraq would help. It's the moral thing, after all, to be on the side that promotes freedom, choice and peace. It's the warriors and their supporters that speak and write in these terms.

Losing means, chaos, crime, and murder. It is hardly the moral choice.

France Aplogizing to Iraq

For what do they apologize, if they had the moral high ground before the war? And will France apologizing make the haters here nervous? No, it will take a while for America's Leftists to get it. Americans have always been slower than the French. As Glenn Reynolds says:

They're usually pretty good at spotting a shift in the wind.
In America, the Leftists are still defending the indefensible--namely letting Vietnam fall to communism and murder. Don't expect American Leftists ever to apologize. It would undermine their narrative, not to mention call into question their raison d'etre.

Yahoo! Communist Collaborators: Selling Out Freedom To Make A Buck

LEFT: These people were tortured by the Chinese government because of information given to them by Yahoo!

You know those German companies that made money using slave labor during WWII? Remember the whole premise of Schindler's List? Yeah, well, Yahoo! can put themselves in the same category of business owner--willing to look the other way at moral depravity for their own bottom line:

Yahoo! acknowledged that it provided Chinese officials with identifying information of its Yahoo! service users that made these arbitrary arrests and long-term imprisonments possible, but the company claims that it had to provide the information in compliance with Chinese law. Sklar noted that “the language of China’s requests to Yahoo! make it clear that these individuals were being targeted for their exercise of free speech and free press rights, and not for any legitimate law enforcement reasons.” During Congressional hearings held in February 2006, Yahoo! also defended its actions by claiming that it was not aware of the purpose for which the information was requested. Recent information has surfaced, however, indicating that Yahoo! was, in fact, aware of the repressive purposes of the requests. On August 3, Tom Lantos (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced that Congress would investigate Yahoo!’s conflicting statements to determine whether the internet company lied under oath about what it knew during last year’s Congressional hearings.

I'm not saying that the Yahoo! leadership are a bunch of Nazis. I'm saying they are communist collaborators. Perhaps they never viewed themselves this way. Perhaps they quaver at losing the Chinese market over principles. Perhaps they rationalized into collaborating with communist thugs. I hope they're losing sleep at night.

Berkely Breathed Rocks

I have all the Bloom County books as anyone who stays in the guest bedroom knows. In my bleak teenage years (are there happy teenage years?), Berkely Breathed's witty takes and silly satire got me through with lots of laughs. To prove my County cred, my favorite character is Oliver. See left. In my favorite series, Oliver debates whether God exists and God answers, but Oliver studiously misses the message in the stars.

Berkely Breathed is back in the news. His syndicated column Opus won't be run in some papers because of this strip:

Captain Ed says this:

Today's strip features Steve Dallas and his on-again, off-again paramour and spiritual flibbertigibbet Lola Granola. In the strip, she has changed her name to "Fatima Struggle" and argues that she now knows not to resist a "man's rightful place". That's it; no exploding bombs, no images of Muhammed, no violence.

Also, no newspaper has addressed its decision to black out Breathed for today and next Sunday. It's possible that next Sunday has something more objectionable, but if today's strip is any indication, the reasoning is that newspapers refuse to show any kind of satire that targets Islam, even if specifically aimed at its radical extremes.

Last week, the Post and all of Breathed's customers had no problem satirizing Jerry Falwell and Christian beliefs of the afterlife. I'm glad they didn't; I found it funny and provocative, the kind of installment that Breathed usually produces. If anything, today's strip is less about the religious belief of Islam than last week's was about Christianity's tenets, and yet, the newspapers found it necessary to protect themselves from this strip and not the other. Why is that?

Oh, yeah -- because radical Islamists react with violence rather than rational objections. And the newspapers, in all their collective courage, can't find it within themselves to let a satirist do his work where it is most needed. Billy Hollis at QandO says the newspapers should be ashamed of themselves, but won't be. Maybe Breathed can tackle that as his next subject.
Wouldn't want to inflame the moderate American Muslims. Don't worry about inflaming the Christianists, though.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More Politically Correct Research

Do racial preferences result in failure for the lawyer aspirants they're meant to help? We'll never know, because the results could be uncomfortable for all those who value the status quo.

Forget truth. Political correctness trumps science.

Spouses Sleeping Separate TomKat Edition

I'm telling you, I'm a trend-setter. I don't know if this will make you a believer or if you'll suffer the snoring just to keep you out of their crazy camp, but Tom Cruise and his beloved Katie Holmes sleep in separate rooms:

"In fact, they even joke about having separate bedrooms to their friends – Katie says Tom snores, and this way she can get her beauty sleep!"

"Of course they spend time together alone at night like most married couples; after all, they conceived Suri!"
Mais, oui! Conjugal relations and sleep are two entirely different things. The former can be had in airplane bathrooms, the latter, to be fully enjoyed needs a lovely bed, pillows, peace, quiet and sufficient darkness.

Can Americans stop the charade? Sharing a bedroom is uncivilized. Who needs to share all the nasty business of sleep (drool, gaseous emissions, eye boogers)? Better to leave some things mysterious, I say. Separate bedrooms keeps the love alive.

"Texans are doing just fine governing Texas."

Governor Rick Perry responds to European critics of the death penalty:

“230 years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination. Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens. While we respect our friends in Europe, welcome their investment in our state and appreciate their interest in our laws, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.”

Yes, we are. Thank you. Just last week, I cited this example of why I believe in the death penalty. The Europeans should just eat their crumpets and croissants in silence. When they criticize they make themselves look stupid.

H/T Glenn Reynolds

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Iraq Successes Framed as Failures by AP

The real story from Iraq being obscured by another MSM source. Snooze. Gateway Pundit shows the real numbers and says this:

Rather than report honestly about results on the ground in Iraq since the surge began earlier this year, the AP plays with numbers to paint a bleak picture.

The Associated Press leads off today with the headline:

"Iraq body count running at double pace"
The media is again leading the charge to make sure that America loses this war to the militant Islamic killers in Iraq (and later in Afghanistan, no doubt). It used to be that losing a war meant that you were losing more soldiers or assets than your enemy. That certainly isn't the case anymore as you can see from the chart below:
Go over and read the whole thing.


It's raining right now and the sun is shining full blast. Weird. Global warming must be caused by humans. How else would this be possible?

More incongruous thoughts:

Mother Theresa didn't believe in God?

The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, "neither in her heart or in the eucharist."
Isn't she a Saint? And didn't Christopher Hitchens play Devil's Advocate against her sainthood?

Jonah Goldberg discusses the love of dogs and what it means to be human regarding Michael Vick's conviction. He's changed my mind. This is what he said:
Indeed, as many have noted, dogs look to us as we look to God. Even Ambrose Bierce, a great cynic, defined “reverence” as “the spiritual attitude of a man to a god and a dog to a man.
Finally, Brendan Loy notes, "All's Quiet on the Atlantic Front".

It’s still not a “slow season” yet, but if this keeps up for the next couple weeks, it will be.
Let's hope the scientists are wrong. Again. For many different satisfying reasons.

Politically Correct Homophobia

Here's Ann Althouse's take:

What crap! Davis is a Democrat, interested in destroying Giuliani and showing his contempt for Republicans by revealing a despicable belief that they hate gay people and that their hatred can be stoked by images of actors behaving according to gay stereotypes. Decent Democrats should condemn Davis's video campaign, "Gays for Giuliani." It's blatantly homophobic. And I condemn Fox News as well, for reporting the story the way it did, illustrating it with a stock photograph of Giuliani in drag that lacks any sufficient connection to belong in a professional journalistic report on the video campaign.

Republicans should resist being baited by this sort of trash and should take note that Democrats are afraid of their front-runner -- afraid enough to deal in stereotypes that offend their values. Or are you going to tell me that Davis is an independent operative, doing his own thing? Then condemn him!

Of course this ad is homophobic. Who the gay Democrat director is trying to stereotype is Republicans. You know, those one-dimensional, close-minded haters.

Because the ad is made by a gay Democrat, of course, it isn't homophobic. It's politically correct gay stereotyping serving the greater good. It's OK to sell your soul if you win back power.

Only The Good Die Young

The nasty people live forever. Or sometimes it just seems that way.

Homeschooling Confession

I'm worried about when I'll blog. Gah! What have I gotten myself into?

Economical Good News?

STOP THE PRESSES! Mama is in good cheer:

To fully comprehend the exceptional strength of this report in comparison with recent trends, get the entire report at the link above and compare this month's figures to the two prior months and to the 2006/2007 YTD numbers.

I feel more sure than ever, although I cannot prove it, that the B/D models are causing BLS manufacturing related employment to be understated in recent months. The recent reads on the Japanese and German economies have showed some disappointments in growth, so I think this report may represent some gains for the US in heavy production versus those economies. The driving force is probably helping the US to gain share.

The necessary move transition away from a consumer-led economy and back to an economy based on fundamental production may be well underway. This is a strikingly healthy report, and no one can fairly accuse me of relentless, heedless optimism.
No they can't! So, today, we are letting the world know that Mama is happy. In the market? I say stocks are a strong buy!

Ron Paul Wins A Cage Match


Friday, August 24, 2007

Michael Vick Deal

Ace posts on Michael Vick's deal:

Feds give him a shot to stay in the NFL.

It'll be interesting to see how Goodell deals with this now. If Vick avoids a gambling conviction, he avoids the league's "lifetime ban" for illegal gambling. "And hey, I didn't personally kill them dogs with my own hands, I was just hanging around, watchin em die". No one will believe it, but will fans forget about it?


On "Hyper-Parenting"--UPDATED

The vicious circle of competitive parenting coupled with aggressive teaching makes for ridiculous circumstances. And what is schooling for, anyway? Oh, I remember! The children.

Many problems exist in schools these days and, according to PJM writer Aaron Hanscom, two of them are: 1) single parenthood and 2) hyper-parenting. This post is about the second, but I think the underlying problem with both issues is the same. Neither will be solved any time soon without a distinct cultural change or economic cleansing.

Hanscom offers many anecdotes for the hyper-parenting: piggish kids, bad field-trip behavior, father-son jackasses treating the ice-cream lady like dirt, etc. These stories demonstrate not so much hyper-parenting but selfish parenting. It takes effort to manage a child's behavior. It can be embarrassing and humiliating (I write as a mother whose 3 year old child staged a lay-in at Target) to engage with a out-of-control toddler. Many people ignore their child's dreadful behavior, some encourage it, because they wrongly believe the child will "grow out of it" or, and I hear and see this more, they believe throwing fits and acting like an untamed beast demonstrates "good spirit". No one will take advantage of him (unspoken--like I was taken advantage of by the ex, the boss, the tax man), no sir! He'll be assertive and that's good!

And don't forget, the rich kids likely have divorced parents, too. The kid is so much chattel to be divied up and argued over. Neither mom nor dad want to be the bad guy and so let pumpkin get away with murder. In addition, while 2/3 of low-income kids have one parent, 2/3 of middle and high-income kids have both parents working. The parents, harried and tired, feel guilty and overcompensate with activities (which have the double benefit of keeping the kid busy), material things, and awe-inspiring experiences. Except the kid isn't awed. With his limited life view, he shows no appreciation because he thinks everyone does what he is doing (a friend of a friend was taking her precious only child on a Safari and to Paris this summer).

What all the children want is time with mom and dad.

The schools, seeing the trend in absent parenting, give children copious amounts of at-home projects. It is state-sponsored behavior modification. As an involved parent, I resent it. If I worked outside the home full time or was a single parent, I'd be angry as hell. The projects are always above the child's ability to do by himself and, anyway the teacher will grade your kids projects based on what other kids parents do, so everyone is stuck. The working parents probably assume "all those stay-at-home moms" (said with a sneer) make glorious projects and work extra hard to compete. I can assure you, that the stay-at-home moms are as miffed at the situation as anyone. They're stuck, too.

A generation ago, homework wasn't given until sixth grade. What kids did at school was it. I cannot think of one instance where my parents had to expend any effort whatsoever for my schooling outside of showing up for a conference. Not these days. No, teachers want to spread the responsibility (read blame) around. If they give at-home projects that don't get done, they have an out. "If you had been more involved Ms. Smith, your kid wouldn't be illiterate. We can't help it that little Sally didn't have an enriching home-reading program."

But it isn't the home reading program that will make a difference. It's the home discipline program. If a child is raised contemptuous of authority (and let's be real here, many parents are living out their own temper-tantrum fantasies when they allow their children to behave so disrespectfully), with no boundaries and no social skills, learning will be a problem. Conversely, if the teachers forever foist the blame on the parents excusing the outcomes in their classrooms, learning will be a problem.

Like I said, only a huge cultural change could make a difference. That won't happen. People are selfish. More and more, there are the "marrying kind" and the "nobody's gonna tell me what to do types". This cuts across income, race and all other barriers. Divorce is here to stay. Single parenthood is here to stay.

The only other possibility is economic devastation. Colleges would have to cut back their fat tuition and get more competitive as people couldn't afford it, parents would be more involved because someone wouldn't be working, and hopefully, except for the Paris Hilton's of the world the entitlement mentality would deflate. Maybe a little adversity would bring humility and gratitude. Maybe it'd even keep marginally miserable people together for economic reasons which would have good implications for their child's development. No, they wouldn't be focusing on internal transcendence, but that's not what marriage is for anyway.

Parents these days make sure their child has the material things. Hanscom says that even the poor kids have their Air Jordans. That's been my experience, too. There are very few truly economically deprived children these days. But plenty of them are neglected.

As for NPR's article on "competitive birthing" and Hanscom's point:

NPR reported this month on “competitive birthing,” an example of wealthy families choosing to have many kids because they view it as a status symbol. While higher incomes have historically led to smaller families, in the past 10 years the number of rich parents having three or more kids has increased by 30 percent. Some people believe the change is due to over-achieving career women who have quit work and now focus their competitive energies on reproduction.
There may be people having bigger families, but I can assure you, the people I know aren't doing it for competitive parenting reasons. In all four cases of my friends with five kids, they all love babies. Quite an old-fashioned reason to have big families, no? And generally, these families have the most well-behaved, balanced and sweet children. Their mothers are dedicated to mothering. No nannies (maybe a house cleaner in one case). No competition. No Ivy Leagues. These are economically comfortable people not filthy-rich people. In fact, the extra kids naturally impedes some of the kid's dreams, no doubt. But as one boy I met at Best Buy said of his three brothers and roommates, "Oh, they're much better than things. We didn't have much growing up, but brothers are better than money."

I'm more inclined to believe that NPR is looking for a way to justify, yet again, why big families are a blight on mankind. And "three or more" counts as big. That is just stupid. But, of course, the interviewees are New Yorkers. Three is positively outrageous, dahling.

Rich or poor, nothing can substitute for a loving parent who instills discipline and values in their children. More and more, that's the luxury that kids are having to live without.

H/T Glenn Reynolds

Update: Thanks for the link Instapundit. More thoughts on parenting: the strong-willed child, the Empty Nest Syndrome, sexualizing young girls and fleeing public schools.

Kill the Killers

I had seen this story alluded to, but just read it tonight. A five year old boy lit on fire by masked killers. And of course, there's this story written about by Michael Totten where al Qaeda torched over 500 innocent people--the "Quakers of Iraq".

The perpetrators of these crimes are akin to cock roaches. They have no reason for existence and must be exterminated. They are a danger to the health and vitality of humanity. A disease that must be destroyed. Death is too kind to them, but it's the best that can be done in this world.

Dr. Sanity has more. I've had a couple of those hair raising patient experiences and I don't deny them either. Evil exists.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bush's Goal: Ruin Every Diplomatic Relationship

According to this unsigned New York Times editorial this is what Bush was doing the first few weeks in office:

The Bush team was so busy in 2001 trying to upend America’s global relationships according to a neo-conservative agenda that the then national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, did not see any urgency in reports that Al Qaeda was determined to strike in the United States. Mr. Tenet later helped hype the “slam dunk” intelligence that Mr. Bush used to justify diverting the military from the war of necessity against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to the war of choice in Iraq.
You know, I find it interesting that a report pointing to Bill Clinton's willful ignorance still gets painted as George Bush's problem, but hey, it's The New York Times.

And what do the super secret nameless smarty-pants NYT editorial writers think of all the moderate conservatives being elected in Europe and moving toward the United States? The leaders of Germany, France, Canada and Britain have reaffirmed American ties.

Could it be that these countries, especially those in Europe, see the rationality of addressing radical Islam head-on instead of pretending the problem doesn't exist?

Reaching Mexican Voters--UPDATED

John Hawkins interviewed Bettina Inclan. Bettina is the former Executive Director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and is currently the Communications Director for Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI), Chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee. Here is part of what she said:

We can talk about, "We need to secure our country, we need to know who's coming into this nation because we live in a different world after 9/11." ...Mexico itself has very strong rules on coming in and out of that country. I think people understand that.

It's when people try to play a lot of the liberal routines of (drumming up) emotion and saying things like, "These people are invading our country. They're going to take over. There's not going to be any more traditional America!" (that we get in trouble)...
Do you agree with this statement? Is it racist to be concerned about absorbing illegal immigrants into this country who keep their language, culture and communities separate from America at large?

UPDATE: Ann Coulter says this:
For simplicity, I have limited my enumeration of illegal aliens I would like deported to those who were charged or convicted of heinous crimes last week. For illegal aliens charged with child molestation, I had to limit it to two days last week.

The Democratic Party is in the fight of its life against a conservative demographic trend. Its only hope is to gerrymander America to make the poorest half of Mexico a state. Only a massive influx of criminals, wards of the state and rioters can save them.

This is why Democrats are obsessed with giving two groups the right to vote: illegal aliens and felons. With Arellano, they get two for the price of one. To liberals, building a wall across the Mexican border is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

I think the security problem of an open border is two-fold: the radical Islamists who desired to blow cities back to Allah and the crime associated with illegal immigrants being a part of a fringe society. I don't think it's racist to note that some illegals come to America for expressly criminal reasons because they can operate with freer reign and the consequences for being caught are friendlier than in Mexico.

A country and culture can be overwhelmed by tsunami or a steady drop over many years.

The Strong Willed Child

Here's the emailed joke going around:

Tough Love vs. Spanking ~
(a psychological conundrum)

It seems that these days most Americans think it is improper to spank
children, so over the years I tried other methods to control my kids
when they had one of "those moments."

One that I found effective is for me to just take the child for a car
ride and talk.

They usually calm down and stop misbehaving after our car ride together.

This worked so well for my children that I now use the method on my

I've included a photo below of one of my sessions with my grandson, in
case you would like to use the technique.

A Friend
Glenn Reynolds linked to this post about good books for parenting strong-willed, "spirited", the difficult or otherwise frustrating child. I have a couple kids who have yet to reach their teen years. So take what I'm about to write with that in mind.

I don't buy the notion of a "bad seed". Nor do I buy the notion that some children are inherently flawed. This idea is popular among the Stephen King and his creepy eyes, and the Hollywood types. Multiple movies have focused on this theme including The Omen, The Exorcist, Village of the Damned, Children of the Corn, The Bad Seed, and The Ring. Most of these movies could be placed under the heading Poor Parenting Excused. As in, it's not the parents who are idiots, it's the demon children. The parents are victims of fate or chemical hazards or whatever.

For every law there is an exception. Plenty of horrible parents end up with perfectly functional children. Do the character traits instilled by abuse, molestation, neglect and what-have-you that create decent, if traumatized, adults? For more on this:A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive.

So are parents to blame only if the kid turns out bad? Well, it is my experience that many parents with "difficult children" label difficult the behavior in themselves that they don't want to see or dislike. Or, it's the behavior in their spouse, mother, father or other relative that "makes them crazy". One person's bad kid is another person's easy kid.

Empty Nest Syndrome

I have more than one friend facing their child's departure. That's what happens when friends your age had kids in their early twenties. I'm going to have kids at Tranquil Pines with me. Alas. Children keep you young.... or do they put you in the grave?

It's a painful time for parents. I cried as I hugged my friend's daughter good-bye at church last week. Was I crying for her or for me? A bit of both, I think. Her lightening fast maturity strikes fear in my heart.

There's not much time.

Last week, my daughter said when I pointed out the "cool" Disney princess lunch box, "Mom, that's so babyish." Gasp. Just two years ago she hugged Cinderella with all the blind adoration of Ma Sheehan snuggling Hugo Chávez. I'm not ready for her to be over Cinderella.

After the death of my son, I determined to cherish every single solitary precious, even bleak, moment. It's really an attempt to slow down time. From learning colors to chapter books, time marches on. Reading the Rick Riordan book series with the kids, the Greek gods are brought to life. Kronos is locked away in Tartarus, and still causes all sorts of mayhem. Doesn't he always?

The cycle is as old as time, the pain universal. A child growing away so abruptly is one of those times that's disconcerting and shocking almost because everyone endures it. Child leaving is so banal.

When I had my children, I felt initiated into a secret society that operated in plain sight. The breath-taking love, consuming, desperate and so complete that the world seems vibrant and brand new, made me wonder at the dull inwardness I had lived until then. Suddenly, I felt more vulnerable and alive than I had ever in my life. You never told me, I said to my mom. Which wasn't exactly true. She told me. I just didn't get it.

Grandma says that it never gets easier, parting from your children. It gets harder as you get older, she tells me. That's what parenting is all about. Beginning a life so you can go through the process of making sure they're prepared to leave you. And if you succeed, your heart is broken. I'm quite sure my neighbor's heart attack was a direct consequence of his twin daughters moving across the country to fulfill their Ivy League dreams.

Good grief, I've made myself sick thinking a decade ahead. For now, prayers for all those enduring the empty nest. May you have strength and courage as you face the new era. As for me, I guess I need to take more joy in potty-training.

If you have tweens, they'll love these and you'll like making their acquaintance with the Greek gods:

Nekkid Putin

My brother asked what I thought about Vlad Putin's bare torso.

"Um, yuck..."

Now a man in a uniform, flying a plane? That's just hawt!

Besides, Putin is a midget. He's exudes a Napoleon Complex. Ewwww!

Forgotten Wisdom

Tonight I read one of the best essays from 2007, if not the best. It is by Victor Davis Hanson. He covers all sorts of territory: Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS), the definition of a Neocon, the housing mess, cheap Chinese goods and the notion of who to trust, media-wise.

Please read it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Russia's Power Trip

The domineering Russian spirit didn't die with perestroika and glasnost. The notions of power didn't crumble with the Berlin wall, either. The Russian's intentions merely got put on hold due to financial considerations.

So they're back to their old tricks like drugging political dissidents in psychiatric hospitals and acting aggressively toward supposed friends. And, by Putin's pronouncement: Russia will dominate the military aircraft market, too.

I think I like poor Russians better.

How Failure Serves Progressives

Thomas Sowell has a must read column about progressive policies and the people they "serve" or rather, the people who serve them until they serve no useful purpose:

At one point, Marx wrote to his disciples: "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing."

Think about that. Millions of human beings mattered to him only in so far as they could serve as cannon fodder in his jihad against the existing society.

If they refused to be pawns in his ideological game, then they were "nothing."

No one on the left would say such things so plainly today, even to themselves. But their actions speak louder than words.

Blacks are to the left today what the working class were to Marx in the 19th century -- pawns in an ideological game.

Blacks who rise out of poverty are of no great interest to the left, unless the way they do so is by attacking society.

The poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994 but the left has shown no more interest in why that is so than they have shown in why many millions of people have risen out of poverty in Latin America or in China and India.
H/T Conservative Grapevine

Hurricane Dean Hitting Mexican Mainland

Right now, Dean is hitting the most densely populated area on its trajectory. The people there are experiencing 100 mph winds. More here.

Dr. Jeff Masters has damage estimates:

The Mexican coast near the landfall point is the most densely populated area Dean will affect, and damage there will probably exceed $1 billion. Risk Management Solutions has estimated the insured damage to the Yucatan was between $750 million and $1.5 billion. Total damage is typically double the insured damage, so the price tag for Dean will be very steep for Mexico. Dean also did an estimated $3 billion in damage to Jamaica, and $270 million to Martinique.

Dean's core passed just north of Chetumal, Mexico during its landfall as a Category 5 hurricane yesterday, and that city of 150,000 suffered mostly Category 1 and 2 hurricane damage. Power has already been restored, and the governor of the province estimated that the city would be back to normal in two weeks--except for the 3-6 months needed to repair some of the roads washed out. Farther north, about a third of the hotels and cabins in Tulum, and strip of coastal development just south of Cozumel, received damage. Beach erosion was significant all along the Yucatan. The worst damage was reported in Majahual, on the coast 30 miles northeast of Chetumal, where the full Category 5 strength of the storm was felt. According to the Associated Press, "Hundreds of homes were collapsed in Majahual when Dean's eye passed almost directly overhead, crumpling steel girders, splintering wooden structures and washing away about half of the immense concrete dock that transformed the sleepy fishing village into Mexico's second-busiest cruise ship destination on the peninsula. The storm surge covered almost the entire town in waist-deep sea water." For those interested in tracking the effects of the storm, the Hurricane Dean wikipedia page is an excellent source of information.
This is a big, bad storm and it continues its destruction. So far, though, there hasn't been nearly as many lives lost as thought likely.

Iraqi Sacrifices Himself For U.S. Soldiers

Inspiring. Gateway Pundit wonders why this hasn't hit the press.

Gender Theory: "Strange and Reclusive"--UPDATED

When women are strange and reclusive, they hoard cats. When men are strange and reclusive, they're serial killers.

UPDATE: More on female serial killers. They're a different breed and rarer than men serial killers, but the people are still dead. Female psychopathology as an understudied subject. And they do participate in child abuse and killing their children.

Over 600 Investigations Since January

And how many pieces of legislation? That doesn't matter, I guess:

"Maybe it's even more important than legislation," said Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, a key player who chairs the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The goal is to hamstring the President. The result is that the electorate hates them:

NOT MUCH LOVE FOR CONGRESS: "A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll."

The Dems are so proud of their oversight and just can't seem to enact the legislation that would actually make the people happy. Any legislation that will promote transparency, get rid of pork, get rid of earmarks and improve ethics (seriously) will win big points.

Nap Shame

I'll admit it. I'm a napper. And I'm not alone. When I can get one, that is, seeing as I have these little darlings who interfere with my Perfect Schedule:

8 AM Rise - 1 AM Go to Bed

One hour nap after lunch some time--around 1:30-2:00. I simply love naps and get far too few of them. I resent the "early to bed, early to rise" nonsense. I resent the implication of laziness if one enjoys a nap. I resent the Martha Stewarts of the world who only need four hours of sleep and wake at 4:00 a.m. Actually, I'm jealous. I require much more sleep. I also resent clucking relatives who, after knowing my unorthodox schedule for years, still say, "You were up that late?" Leave me alone! I'm a grown woman. I can sleep when I want to.

Ann Althouse asks:

Why must we feel ashamed? In fact, why shouldn't our employers provide us with nap rooms? Some actually do. Or maybe you can set up your own office to make it nappable. Back in my home office, in Wisconsin, I have a perfect sofa for napping. And it is not goofing off. A 20 minute nap is part of a formula for a very productive day. Why are people so Puritanical about naps? They want to see people looking busy. They can be barely conscious and get nothing done, but to surrender consciousness altogether... we're so afraid of that.
Why, indeed? Winston Churchill was a famous napper. He's my nap hero.

More on napping.

Foreclosures Up 93% Over A Year Ago

That's a lot.

Spying In Iraq

Michael Totten tells the compelling story. And might I just say, as a reader of both Michaels (Totten and Yon), that making comparisons is just silly. Both men have their own journalistic voice. Neither can really be duplicated. We should all just be grateful to be reading what's happening over there. Without both of them jetting around the world, finding the truth, we'd have to rely on the MSM's perspective.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy Young People

Who knew that young people were so balanced and optimistic? Interesting notes about the poll:

You might think money would be clearly tied to a general sense of happiness. But almost no one said "money" when asked what makes them happy, though people with the highest family incomes are generally happier with life. However, having highly educated parents is a stronger predictor of happiness than income.

And sex? Yes, we were getting to that. Being sexually active actually leads to less happiness among 13-17 year olds, according to the survey. If you're 18 to 24, sex might lead to more happiness in the moment, but not in general.
Overall, kids turn to parents and friends and find happiness there. Also, they find it at church.

MOM says, "They sound quite sensible on the whole."

More Scientific Bullying

Censorship courtesy a creationist from Turkey. Wow. It's oppression all around.

Michael Vick Over?

I wrote a Michael Vick dog fighting opinion that nearly everyone disagreed with but my husband and my mother. While watching NFL football (yes, I love violent ground acquisition sports), the announcers were pontificating that no owner would want to sit with Vick because he lied and people are disgusted about the dog fighting. Blah. Blah. Blah. Whatever. I have one name for everyone: Bill Clinton. Of course Vick lied. Everyone lies when they get caught doing something wrong these days. At least that's what people say when people are screwing or killing other people. Maybe dog killing is held to a higher standard. These days, it seems it is. Back to football.

Football is about two things. Number 1: Money. Number 2: Winning.

Michael Vick will be a cheap date when he comes back into the league. He will make a contrite statement. He'll profess his wrongness. He will make his apology heart-felt and sincere. He will get paid relative dirt. And if he is successful, he will help a team win. In short, he will help some team owner make big money. (Now, if he decides to be a jerk, ala Leona Helmsley, he'll be hung from the rafters. But he is black, entitled, rich guy. That at least gives him more grace than a rich, entitled, white woman.)

America will forgive him. And the guys who watch football don't really give a crap anyway. Most of them. Some, are deeply offended and hope he never comes back into sports.

In a world where OJ roams free and gives autographs to adoring fans, Michael Vick is small potatoes. Or at least that's my opinion. What I find weird is the bleeding heart concern over dogs when wife-beaters, murderers, drug users get a pass. To me, it's bass-ackwards.

Oh wait, I'm NOT the only one thinking this. David Stein of the Sporting News says:

Mike Vick, without a plea bargain, would face, based on felony conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture, 5 years in prison. With a plea it is possible that his sentence would be somewhere in the 8-12 month range -- or 3-4 TIMES the jail time of the guy who killed a woman, or possibly 12 TIMES or more the jail time of the guy who allegedly beat his wife ... again.
And at the Orlando Sentinal:
If only Michael Vick had been arrested for abusing women instead of dogs.

He'd still be on the football field today.

He'd still have the love and adoration of his fans

And, yes, he'd still have his Nike deal.

Such is the shame of professional sports.

Dogs are treated with more respect than women.
What would be a just result for Vick? A $500,000 donation to SPCA or some such dog foundation, a year probation, and 160 hours of community service, the hard kind scooping poop.

Now, some are writing about the entitled air that star athletes breath leading them to believe they are above all laws. Further, some decry the spirit surrounding black athletes where groupies and hangers-on encourage thuggish, criminal behavior to "keep it real". As in, you ain't black enough, you don't have street cred, yo if you don't "keep it real". These are related, but different problems entirely.

On the one hand, the subject is justice in America. As in, there isn't any when murders get suspended sentences and a dog fighter can spend up to six years in Federal Prison (where there is no time shaved for good behavior). What the above reporters allude to is the problematic dynamic where there are too many laws, enforcement is arbitrary and punishment is so uneven as to be unjust. And then there is the hell that awaits prisoners. Prison rape seems to be an acceptable means of punishment, these days. It is despicable and it makes me sick that we live in a country that believes that it's acceptable justice. It's not.

On the other hand, there is the cultural problem. Blacks have created a thug sub-culture where education, achievement and good values are considered "too white". For a black to maintain his blackness, he must use slang, be criminal, and keep the 'hood mentality. It's "keeping it real". On this topic, Jason Whitlock of Kansas writes:
So let’s go ahead and redefine “keeping it real,” shall we?

We might as well, now that Michael Vick kept it real stupid and probably is headed to a federal penitentiary, the vacation destination of choice for men who believe criminal behavior and a lack of education are cultural benchmarks.

Trust me, I take no satisfaction in Vick’s decision to reach a plea agreement on dogfighting charges or his impending incarceration. The lack of parole and rehabilitation opportunities in federal penitentiaries and the mental disease caused by those shortcomings are as revolting to me as the crimes that land men there.

But this column won’t be a blast on our morally bankrupt penal institutions. This column will be about the lesson we all should take from Vick’s dramatic fall. Not long ago, the man did have the world by the tail. He owned a $130 million contract in a city, Atlanta, that adored him, and he was labeled a “franchise” quarterback.

He threw it all away because he bought into the self-destructive, immature, hip-hop model of “keeping it real.”
And this mentality isn't helped at all when black activist leaders support criminal behavior and brand anyone offended by the crime as racist. This delusional thinking enables the very choices that harm their own community:
Earlier this month, in a march to the Georgia Dome to assert their support for Vick, civil-rights leaders from the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Center cautioned the public against rushing to judgment before Vick appeared in court.

On Monday, representatives from both civil-rights organizations declined to comment, the Los Angeles Times reported. Gerald Rose, the founder of New Order, a new Atlanta-based human-rights group, told the Los Angeles Times he planned to go ahead with a "major rally" for Vick at the Georgia Dome on Monday but acknowledged it would take on a different tone.
Michael Vick isn't a victim except of his own hubris. And no one helps the situation by pretending he is a victim.

What remains after this sad incident is this:
  1. The justice system is uneven, unfair and instills mistrust.
  2. The black community too often elevates criminal behavior while identifying good character and accomplishment as "too white".
  3. Political correctness and misplaced priorities cause Americans to value dogs over people, athletes and entertainers over other forms of accomplishment, and prevents people of all colors from naming the problem in the black community and progressively in the community at large.