Friday, October 31, 2008

Life: The Only Issue

Tony Woodlief writes on the virtues of single issue voting:

"Yet there is also painful clarity that comes with single-mindedness. Jobs, highways, schools, economic growth—none of these matter if we're willing to sanction murder to get them. Perhaps my mentality is a recipe for political isolation for Christians, for the losing of elections, and maybe even a loss of national greatness. I worry that the alternative, however, is to lose something far greater, which is our ability to discern good from evil, and to act accordingly."

Amen.

Fear of Gays

I've been doing more thinking about this James Dobson nonsense, and I've noticed something not too surprising: well over a 1/3 of his "predictions" stem from his desire to see gay marriage stopped at any cost. Last time I checked, homosexuality, while Biblically forbidden, is not a major sin that Christ gave numerous sermons on. I know this is an obvious point but it's still one worth making.

The Posterchild for Fearmongering and Hate

James Dobson, one of my least favorite people, has written a "letter from the future", designed to scare the daylights out of his sheepy followers.

It's one thing to carefully and accurately take statements a candidate has made and go to the next step. But what Dobson has done is inexcusable. Here are some of his makebelieve nuggets from 2012:

  • The Supreme Court is 6-3 hyper-liberal and affirms a constitutional right to gay marriage, among other things
  • Four major terrorist attacks on US soil have occurred
  • Russia has re-taken all its former satellites
  • Iran drops a nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv
  • Canada-style completely socialized health care with no opt out
  • Gas is $7 a gallon
  • Adoption is non-existent because all Christian adoption agencies have closed
  • The Boy Scouts have disbanded
  • Homosexual behavior is taught to first graders in public schools
  • Home schoolers are persecuted to the point that many leave the country
  • There are no more conservative talk radio shows
  • Pastors cannot preach on radio or television
  • Churches are forced to perform gay marriages
  • Public schools aren't allowed to say the Pledge (and "under God" has been removed)
  • A grave shortage of doctors and nurses occurs because they can no longer refuse to participate in abortions
  • Gun ownership is illegal in several states

Can someone tell me how many times this man was dropped on his head as a child?

Get this, Mr. Dobson: people react much better to love than they do to fear. I know you belong to the wing of Christianity that believes that scaring Christians into "belief" is easier and better than helping them understand the great and powerful nature of Christ's love for us. Well, that tactic doesn't work in the long run when it comes to Christianity, and it shouldn't work in politics either. Vote because there's something good you want to see done. Vote because you have hope. Don't be an Eyeore. And never forget, as John Piper eloquently reminded us the other day (thanks again, Liz), that voting and politics and world systems are a blip in the eternity we will spend with Christ, and shouldn't be the focus of our lives and energy.

Australia on Down Syndrome

A German immigrant to Australia has been denied permanent residency because his son Lukas, 13, has Down syndrome. Fortunately, the Victorian Premier is on his side, as are a number of other prominent government officials, so hopefully this will be straightened out quickly.


AP Photo.

Friday Linkage

Here's my lazy Friday morning post - a handful of links to articles and sites you might not have seen. Enjoy.

If It Redistributes Like a Duck ... David Harsanyi's column in the Denver Post. Link via Dr. Helen

Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting by John Piper. Liz linked to this and it helped me a lot yesterday when I was feeling overwhelmed by the election and What It All Means. Reference? To Say Nothing of the Dog, one of my favorite books of all time.

I'm finally getting out some winter clothes (for these chilly 70 degree Houston days) and I'm thrilled to find all my CAbi stash from last year. If you've never been to a CAbi show, find one in your area and have at it. The clothes are Ann Taylor priced but of even better quality. My neighbor hosted a party last fall and all of us had a blast trying on clothes together.

HillBuzz - a group of PUMAs with a great sense of humor and purpose. Here is a great post on ignoring the media. Thanks to Barbara at Mommy Life for the link.

Apple Cake recipe at How To Cook Like Your Grandmother. This is definitely a cake my grandmother would have made. She was a spectacular cook.

Did you know that Elizabeth Peters, creator of Amelia Peabody, has gone back and written another Vicky Bliss mystery? It's her first since Night Train to Memphis in 1994. Wow, I'm hoping Santa reads this post and buys Laughter of Dead Kings for me. I know he reads my blog in the evenings after his nightly cigar ...

A somewhat harsh post on Who Owns Ya, Baby? HT Instapundit. And reference? Oliver's Travels, of course. "In just a few short years, the federal government will have a controlling interest in nearly every facet of your life. And you, you lazy sheep, will be grateful for it, because at last, your government will be taking care of you, and the only people who will pay the cost will be those damnable rich people who have too much money and are too greedy."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Apologize for Being Late

Okay, this almost makes me like the guy, because I am always late:



And no, I'm not going to try to spin this one as an "issues" post. It's a joke, folks.

Lack of Honesty = Not the Best Policy

Linked from Instapundit:

The Washington Post reports that "Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed. Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited."

My only familiarity with online payment systems is in the software industry, where there are strict export control rules on what kind of code can go where. Similar to campaign donation rules, the export rules dictate who can and can't buy product from you. The Department of Commerce has a list of "no go" countries for technology export, and a list of denied persons. In the same vein, campaign donation laws limit the amount of money a person can give and prohibit donations from foreign nationals, among other restrictions.

In the realm of export control, you must have a fairly sophisticated system in place up front before you distribute technology. Many technology vendors use a pre-packaged software system that is explicitly designed to weed out fake purchasers and check the denied country and denied persons list. An individual using a "pre-paid" credit card wouldn't get very far, I'm willing to bet.

For the very same reasons - indeed for even more important reasons - a campaign should look to follow the laws regarding donations to the Nth degree. Obama defends himself by saying "the law doesn't require that we check beforehand, only after" but give me a break: what is illegal is using prohibited funds. Why follow the letter of the law when you are, in truth, breaking the spirit of it?

Scripture calls us to truth, to honesty, to right living. It doesn't call us to skate the fine edge of the law; instead we are to walk the straight, narrow path of righteousness. Read Proverbs if you don't believe me.

"He whose walk is upright fears the Lord, but he whose ways are devious despises him." -- Proverbs 14:2

"A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but the Lord condemns a crafty man." -- Proverbs 12:2

"The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward." -- Proverbs 11:18

"Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death." -- Proverbs 10:2

"Better than a little righteousness than much gain with injustice." -- Proverbs 16:8

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BUMP: My Moronic Homeowner's Association

Sends this email late last night:

"Deed restrictions prohibit yard signs in Old Braeswood. This is the time of year when, understandably, everyone gets excited about upcoming elections and wants to display their pride in their candidate of choice. It's wonderful how politically active our neighborhood is. Our deed restrictions, however, prohibit all signs except a single “for sale” sign not to exceed five (5) square feet. All political and contractor signs need to be removed asap. We encourage you instead to exercise your creativity and come up with a more interesting approach. How about a cocktail party where we all forget the rules of polite discourse and argue about the issues, or a costumed mock debate? We can also wear our candidates’ tee-shirts and display bumper stickers on our cars. There are many ways to show our political support, and we invite you to share your ideas/ways with us. The most interesting ones will be published in the newsletter. Please send photos and a brief description to info@oldbraeswood.com."

Can you say "violation of constitutonal law"? City of Ladue v. Gilleo, people.

UPDATE: I called our association president and told her - very diplomatically and politely - that her email had a little something wrong with it, and she just fell over. She says she was trying to stop people from stealing each other's signs, and figured if the children won't stop stealing each other's toys, you take the toys away and put everyone in time out. She is sending another email telling everyone they can leave their signs up. And yes, I really was nice on the phone. I can do that when I really want to.

2nd UPDATE: Apparently the association's president has received "several e-mail's (sic) with various points of view about the issue," so they won't be recinding their first email after all. As long as they don't expect my sign to come down until after the polls close on the 4th, that's fine with me - they can be as ignorant as they want to be.

3rd UPDATE: After a little legal research, I dug this up:

“In DuBose v. Meyerland Community Improvement Association, a Harris County District Court ruled that a covenant prohibiting the display of temporary political signs was unconstitutional. The judge wrote, 'The U.S. Constitution does not end where deed restrictions begin.' The DuBose case was reinforced by a new statute passed by the 79th Texas Legislature effective Sept. 1, 2005. The statute addresses how and under what circumstances an HOA may regulate the placement of political signs. The new law, found in Section 202.009 of the Property Code, divides the regulations into two categories: things that cannot be prohibited by HOAs and things that are discretionary. In the first category, HOAs cannot adopt or enforce restrictive covenants that prohibit owners from displaying signs on their property that advertise a political candidate or ballot item for an election. The signs may appear on the property anytime 90 days before the election and ten days thereafter.” [emphasis added]

Next step: I have the name and number of the attorney who won the Dubose case; I think I'll give him a call ...

Divorce and Loss

Here is a wonderful piece written by a woman who shares custody of her 5 year old with his father.

"Even though I have had child-free time for some years now and can look forward to it, I still feel at a loss after my son leaves. I still feel sad and strange when he goes off without me. And even though I now have time to concentrate on my other life — my non-parenting life — things can just go a particular kind of quiet at my place when he's not around. It's the missing."

I'm not sure that this emptiness is something that parents always expect when they think about divorce. I know how quiet things are when One is gone overnight at a friend's; I can't imagine regularly being without their noisy, comforting presence.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Removal of Snark

Okay, the b*tchy post on Michelle Obama's wardrobe is gone. Housecleaning. Soul cleaning. Blog cleaning. All seems like the same thing these days.

College: $30/month

Can you believe that? It's true in Nicaragua. But where many work 60 hours a week to make $30, it's not a dream that can become reality. Until groups like Logos Communities decide to make a difference.



Watch. Pray. Give.

Blessings, y'all.

Therapy Much?

My mother in law came to visit yesterday:

MIL: "Why don't you have Oscar put to sleep? Then I can buy the boys a puppy for Christmas."

We're all very grateful I wasn't in the house at the time. If I had been I'd be writing this on the wall of the county jail with a pencil stub.

Can we move and not leave a forwarding address? She called four times yesterday and came by twice. Once she called my cell phone immediately after Husband told her I was upstairs taking a nap. Who does this kind of stuff? And what kind of nuts put up with it?

I spent 16 years estranged from my father and 4 years not speaking to my mother - I think it's time we tried that tactic on the other side of the family...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thomas Felix Rudolf Gerhard Braun: August 30, 1935 - September 24, 2008

An Oxford don in the 19th century model:

"He had almost total recall of the text of Herodotus and of many of the fragmentary Greek historians whose works are collected in Jacoby’s Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. ... He was profoundly knowledgeable across an extraordinary range of subjects including the history of the Jews (in almost all periods), the migrations of the Slav peoples, physical geography, and German literature, to name but a few. ... Although his first language was German, he spoke English perfectly and knew Latin and Greek to a degree that few living people now do. His knowledge of other European languages included French, Italian and Modern Greek. He always taught himself the rudiments of the languages of the countries he visited and he enriched his scholarship with a knowledge of Hebrew, Persian and, to a lesser extent, even Chinese."

Pumpkin Vomit

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hip Hip Hooray!

The tall ship Elissa in Galveston is once again welcoming visitors!

picture compliments of Canupnet.

Public Schooling v. Home Schooling in PA

From the Volokh Conspiracy:

"Staub v. Staub, decided Tuesday by a Pennsylvania appellate court, holds that in child custody cases where the parents disagree about whether to send their children to public school or to home school them, there is to be no rule or presumption in favor of public schooling. "To the contrary, we hold that the well-established best interests standard, applied on a case by case basis, governs a court’s decision regarding public schooling versus home schooling," without any presumption that one or the other is more in the child's best interests." [emphasis mine]

Given what could be the coming administration, it's comforting to see state decisions in support of home schooling. Why? Well, I wouldn't be surprised if home schoolers had a fight on their hands from the Federal government under a Democrat super-majority government. Just sayin'.

Biblical Equality

If the subject interests you as much as it does me, take the time to read this article from the Center for Biblical Equality on the role of women in the church.

"Understood in its own time and context, and read with Christ at the center of the whole of the Bible, Scripture does not limit the leadership of women in the church. Women and men of all races and classes are equally responsible to the call of God on their lives in society, home, and the fellowship of believers."

Amen.

Iraqi Christians

Iraqi Christians have fled Mosul, in northern Iraq, after death threats - 13,000 of them have left, some for Syria. Can you imagine a situation where you as a Christian would feel safer in Syria than where you are currently? Whew.

At the very least, please pray for these brothers and sisters. And let's think for a second before we complain too much about our country's financial situation or current election stress.

Friday, October 24, 2008

He Will Not Rest, He Will Not Let Me Go

Need a little meditation on the goodness of our Lord? Plug in the headphones, dim the lights a little, and listen to the first 6:35 minutes of this. Recorded on 2/17/08 at Ecclesia---every time I hear it I am taken back to this evening service, and the incredible peace that flowed through the room as we listened to Robbie's music and the words of Psalm 121.

The Big Dream

Michele Catalano writes this great article on The American Dream and how it has changed for the worse over the years.

"Long ago, the American Dream was one of simplicity ... Prosperity was found not in the money you made or the things you owned, but the feeling of well-being that came with providing a comfortable life for your family. If you owned the land you lived on and your kids were healthy and your wife was able to put a hot meal on the table at dinner time, life was good. You were living the American Dream. Maybe you could even buy a car to take the family on a beach vacation.

In recent years, not only has the concept of the American Dream changed, but so has the attitude toward achieving that dream. Years ago, even in times of financial hardship, the attainment of the dream was brought about by hard work and, in times of financial crisis, by making do with what you had. Talk to anyone who has been through the Great Depression and they will mostly tell you the same thing my grandmother said about those times: “It is what it is.” Making do became part of the dream, not a sign of failure to realize the dream."

That last sentence is something to think about, isn't it? That our hard times and struggles -- as long as we go through them together -- become part of the dream of this life here on Earth. We are more used to thinking of our troubles being part of our spiritual growth, but they can also enrich our temporal lives. They can inspire us to seek simplicity, draw us closer to our family and community, and remind us what is truly important about being human.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Flabbergasted

As Husband said when he showed this to me, surely a sign of the apocalypse.

Their motto: "Life is short. Have an affair." Oh my sainted aunt.

According to their FAQ, some single people sign up for this married dating service. But, alas, they may have a harder time finding a partner. Why, you ask?

"Single people don't have as much to risk and you may find some attached people unwilling to take a risk with you. People in relationships may feel that you have an upper-hand and that you may not be sympathetic to their circumstances. Take your time to build an additional level of trust with attached people you wish to meet."

But, single people dating marrieds isn't all bad.

"Alternatively, single people have more flexibility with their schedule & are usually more available. Singles are more apt to work within your limitations since they have few boundaries. Single people can also be more fun to be with - their guard is down & they don't care who sees them."

Isn't it nice the kind people at Ashley Madison have worked all these details out for you ahead of time? If you're going to bother to have an affair, it should tick along smoothly, don't you think?

Lt.Col. Malalai Kakar, died September 28, 2008

Who even knew there were women police officers in Afghanistan?

"Known simply as Malalai in Kandahar, Kakar achieved legendary status in the province after killing three assassins in a shoot-out. ... Kakar did not exploit her femininity. She presented herself as a typical, tough-talking, swearing officer and did not hesitate to dispense instant justice. On one occasion she beat a man who she discovered had been keeping his wife in chains in his basement. 'I’m very famous as a dangerous person in Kandahar,' Kakar once said. 'People fear me. If I go near the shops, they take their stuff and leave.'"

She was, as you can probably guess, murdered by the Taliban.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Britian's Modern Police State

Britian plans to require passports from all cell phone buyers soon.

"Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance."

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn't it?

Advent Conspiracy: Get Involved this Christmas

Here is the Advent Conspiracy 2008 Brochure. Please read and pray.


Blessings.

Poverty and "Hope"

As a recent Pajamas Media article points out, the vast majority of African American voters will be voting for Barack Obama. However, as Obama's record in Chicago shows quite clearly, an Obama presidency does not promise much in the way of help for poor African American voters.

Obama on affordable housing: "'The Boston Globe on June 27 exposed the thousands of so-called affordable housing units built cheaply in Chicago by developers backed by Illinois and federal tax subsidies championed by Barack Obama. Sewage flows through many units; others are burned out with roofs caving in. Due to neglect by owners tied to the Obama campaign, many have been slated for demolition.'"

Obama on affordable healthcare: [Michelle Obama] "spearheaded an effort to steer poor black patients away from her fancy hospital and into local clinics. According to the Washington Post on August 21: Primary-care doctors opposed [Michelle Obama's plan] as a break with the center’s commitment to the community. Opinion research showed that a small but passionate group of people already considered the hospital to be elitist, arrogant, and lacking in 'cultural empathy' for the surrounding economically depressed South Side neighborhood, according to a draft report obtained by the Washington Post. Some doctors in focus groups dismissed local health clinics as 'wholly inadequate.' . . . Quentin Young, the South Side physician, described the medical center’s level of charity spending [on indigent care] as 'ludicrous.' Young, known in Chicago for having been the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal physician, is chairman of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, a Chicago-based nonprofit that advocates health care reform. Young considered himself an ally of Barack Obama while he was a state legislator. 'That’s shameful,' Young said of the percentages. 'They are arguably, if not defrauding, then at least taking advantage of a public subsidy. We would like to see them give more than the minimum. The need is there.'"

Obama on subprime loans for poor borrowers: "The Congressional Black Caucus and key Obama advisers — including former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines and Fannie Mae Chairman Jim Johnson — all used carrots and sticks to force banks to steer more and more subprime loans to borrowers unable to repay. The LA Times reports on September 9 that Obama is the top recipient of political donations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives. The result: housing prices were artificially inflated and many black people who were conned into borrowing to pay the inflated prices are now losing their homes. Others conned into taking out unnecessary mortgages could lose homes they once owned free and clear. Now many black neighborhoods are full of abandoned repos. The foreclosed former homeowners will have credit ratings even worse than before and their jobs may be at risk as the effects of the housing crisis shake Wall Street and Main Street alike."

Read the whole thing, as Glenn Reynolds says.

Also, please note that the sources of these stories that PJM puts together in this article are mainstream, liberal papers: The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and the LA Times. In fact, all three papers have endorsed Obama.

Does Obama really care about the poor who hand over their votes (and their hopes) to him? The evidence says no, but only time will tell.

"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."---Proverbs 22:9

"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."---Proverbs 28:27

"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern."---Proverbs 29:7

"The scoundrel's methods are wicked, he makes up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just."---Isaiah 32:7

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."---Matthew 19:21

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Very Best Political Humor

If you're feeling a little campaign-weary and starved for a laugh, just watch this speech John McCain gave at the Albert E. Smith Memorial Dinner last night. It doesn't matter which side of aisle you're on - this is funny stuff.

Part one is here.

Part two is here.

Warning: do not watch within 30 minutes of eating - your hysterical laughter might cause you to lose your meal.

HT: Powerline

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Please Pray for Tricia, Nate and Gwyneth

If you read Confessions of a CF Husband, you know that Tricia's cancer has worsened and she and Nate are waiting for the doctors to tell them what comes next.

If you haven't checked out Nate's site, please do. His wife, Tricia, suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and received a double lung transplant several months ago. Now she's suffering from a rare post-transplant complication: lymphoma. They have a 9 month old daughter, Gwyneth Rose, who was born very prematurely but has by dint of many miracles done quite well.

Please pray, y'all.

Confessions Of A CF Husband: The Latest

Gossiping About Madge

I'm not one to pay much attention to celebrity gossip, or much else to do with them, frankly - I haven't bought a mainstream CD in years and the last movie I saw was Prince Caspian, so that shows you how hip I am to Britney's latest trip to rehab or Paris's new hairdo (does she have one?)

But all that aside, you really have to read this very funny post by Neil McCormick on Madonna and Guy Ritchie's impending divorce. Entitled "Who Gets Custody of the Ego?", it's full of nice, dry British sarcasm - just what the doctor ordered for a dull Wednesday afternoon. Enjoy.

WFMW: Pesky Zits

Would you ever have believed, when you were a naïve 13 year old aghast at the sight of her first zit, that you’d be battling the ugly things well into your 30s and 40s? Acne and wrinkles existing on the same face at the same time is high on my “they didn’t tell me about this” list – a list that includes a variety of things, most of which have to do with the seamier side of childbirth recovery and breastfeeding.

Seriously, what in Heaven’s name is a fat, ugly pimple doing on my face, when I’m trying to sum up the courage to face 40? How rude. How tacky. How…how completely unacceptable.

Here’s my solution: Origins Out of Trouble mask. No need to tie your hair back and slather it all over your face. Just put a nice size dollop on the evil zit, go to bed, and you won’t be disappointed. It might take a second night if the zit is particularly stubborn, but this stuff makes zits disappear like magic. And it has never irritated my skin, unlike all those teenage acne medicines (and stupid ideas like toothpaste on your face – ouch!). Give it a try; it works for me.

Blog Action Day: The Hollow Ring of Prosperity

The "Prosperity Gospel" - we've all heard of it. Its champions are some of the richest ministers in the US: televangelist Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer in St. Louis, Joel Osteen here in Houston, T.D. Jakes from Dallas, and Creflo Dollar in Atlanta to name a few. What do they preach? Basically, that when Christ said we'd have "abundant life", He was talking about The Benjamins (a favorite phrase of Husband's - please allow me to use it here). God wants you to be materially rich and temporally happy - healthy, wealthy and wise, as it were.

This is so contrary to the Gospels you just wonder where to start. But it feels good to believe in, and so more and more people flock to it. If you already have money, the Prosperity Gospel tells you that must mean God is blessing you (and therefore you must be doing His will). If you lack money, God wants you to have it: hang in there, follow the rules, and soon you'll be rolling in dough.

Unfortunately, just like secular materialism, Prosperity Gospel leaves its followers as empty as their wallets usually turn out to be. God doesn't make people materially rich as a reward for following Him; in fact, some of His most faithful followers experience pain and hardship beyond what many of us can fathom. If you pin your hope in Christ on an Earthly reward, you'll be just as disappointed as if you slept in every Sunday and never bothered to set foot in that flashy mega-church.

If money and health are God's rewards, what about the millions of Christians outside the US who live in poverty unimaginable to the rest of us? They lack clean water, they watch their children die from disease, they move from place to place to avoid war and famine. Is this because Christ doesn't love them as much as he loves us fat, happy Americans? Can any of the people who believe what these false prophets preach even look at websites such as Compassion International or Living Water, and see the suffering that God's faithful endure? How can they square such sights with the false message they chomp down every Sunday? The short answer is: they can't.

And that's where these preachers of false doctrine do the most damage. If God rewards His people with worldly riches and health, then how can charities like these dare ask for a handout? Shouldn't all those people just pray for riches and health, the way Joel, Joyce, et al tell us to do? And if prayer is all that's needed, then no one writes a check, no one sponsors a child. And the Light that is Christ is not spread throughout the world, His Gospel is not proclaimed, and we as Christians fail to help "the least of these" as He has commanded.

"Poverty is the load of some, and wealth is the load of others, perhaps the greater load of the two. It may weigh them to perdition. Bear the load of thy neighbor's poverty, and let him bear with thee the load of thy wealth. Thou lightenest thy load by lightening his." ---St. Augustine

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Texas in the Springtime, Even Prettier Yet


You Should Live in Texas


If you don't want to live in Texas, you might also consider:

Georgia
Mississippi
South Carolina
Alabama
Alaska

Don'tcha love it when you take a little quiz and it is so right, it just perks up your day? Me too.

The Big Decision

I hate Halloween. I know, that makes me a bad person. But it is a PAIN. Listening to my mother in law nag me six times a day for two weeks because I haven't decorated the outside of my house, trying to come up with a costume idea for the boys that doesn't involve $75 plastic costumes - all of it gives me a headache. I am also a control freak about the boys' costumes, so that doesn't help any. I don't like gore, movie or cartoon characters, or pretty much any standard Halloween costume. And I'm the least creative person on Earth, so the option of whipping up something spiffy by myself just isn't there for me.

The good news this year is: the boys and I have come to agreement on costumes and I've ordered all the various and sundry items. They were really excited thinking about what they could get to make their costumes more realistic, so the list of little things was very long before they were finished.

What are they going to be, you ask? Oh no, that's a big secret. You'll have to wait until October 31st, just like all the neighbors. It's good though ... in a super-dorky way. What else could it be? It was my idea, after all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Beautiful Story

Here's a story to lift your heart:

"Kristin Pass, an 18-year-old senior with Down syndrome, became Aledo High School's homecoming queen Friday to a joyous standing ovation and the flutter of a thousand tissues on a remarkable night for an amazing young woman."

HT: The Anchoress, via Amanda Witt.

Whadda Guy

Ringo Starr has instructed his fans to stop sending him fan mail and requests for autographs - he's even given them a deadline: October 20th. But, he says, he's giving the warning "with peace and love," so I'm sure that makes it all okay.

Does this mean I can start sending him mail, since I've never been a fan?

Columbus Day

It's Columbus Day all over the country, except on Google. At Google it's the birthday of Paddington Bear. As Husband pointed out when he sent me this, "is Google's slogan 'do no evil' or 'do no evil that fails to augment the bottom line'?" I fear the latter.

We *Heart* Midwives

An international study has found a correlation between decreased rates of miscarriage in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy and prenatal care from midwives instead of OB/GYNs. The study involved 11 trials and more than 12,200 women in four countries.

"The analysis, which is the largest undertaken in the world, also found that women in midwife-led models of care were less likely to be admitted to hospital during pregnancy, have instrumental deliveries, episiotomies or require analgesia and were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births, feel in control during labour and better able to initiate breastfeeding."

As the (slightly cheesy) sign at my midwives' office says: "Women of Earth--take back your birth." If you do that by using a midwife for your pregnancy and delivery, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Prince Michael Andreevich Romanov: July 15, 1920-September 22, 2008

I'm starting a new "meme" here today: each Sunday I'm going to give you one of the fabulous obituaries from the British press. If you've never read a British obit, you are truly missing out. The British papers seek out the most interesting people and write their obituaries in such a way that they become so much more than just a death notice. Many of these pieces are lyrical, humorous, inspiring - these are people you dearly wish you'd known.

So, for the first:

"Prince Michael developed a life-long passion for the sunshine and Sydney’s beaches. He found employment easily and in a number of fields. He was a Qantas mechanic for sea planes in Rose Bay, Sydney. He worked with wood, metal, jewellery and fabric and eventually established his own business as a painter-decorator. He kept his royal identity to himself. His Australian workmates called him “Mike”. "

A lost-lost Russian prince, hanging out on a beach in Sydney: what more of a story do you want on a Sunday afternoon?

Reading While Rome Burns

If you're wondering what to read to your children as financial markets collapse, Slate has a list.

Frankly, the Ramona books scared me half to death as a little girl. I guess I noticed that while Ramona's parents were fighting, they were also reassuring their nervous offspring that they wouldn't divorce. My parents did the fighting part, but never got around to the latter. I think I was sensing the handwriting on the wall, since they did eventually split when I was 14.

Unlike Ramona, the Little House on the Prairie series never inspired fear; playing Mary, Laura and Carrie was a favorite game of my 2 cousins and I when we were small. Even One enjoyed Farmer Boy, which is set about an hour from where I grew up. One was overwhelmed by the endless lists of delicious food consumed by the characters--a fairly typical reaction for a 6 year old boy, I think.

I have a few additions to the list. Definitely some of the Edith Nesbit stories qualify: for example, in The Railway Children, the father finds himself in jail and mom and the kids pack off to the country to live by a railway station. Much the same can be said for the characters in The Treasure Seekers and Five Children and It (at least to some extent). Finally, the first of the Edward Eager books, Half Magic, also features children in straitened circumstances--their widowed mother works while they spend the summer in magical adventures.

I think what succeeds best in this strange "category" of fiction are the stories that take children out of their everyday circumstances, rather than those that leave children to dwell on them. The Ramona stories are largely about not having enough money; the other stories celebrate people without material wealth who discover themselves wealthy in other, more important ways.

The Great Depression

Several years ago some UCLA economists made an interesting discovery:

"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."

Wow, eh? Definitely something to think about as governments around the world intervene like mad in the current economic mess.

HT: Instapundit

Saturday, October 11, 2008

More on Hatred and Politics

James Taranto from the WSJ writes about the anger that is degrading the campaigns of both presidential candidates:

"For years this column has chronicled the follies and outrages of the Angry Left. If we are now seeing the emergence of an Angry Right, that is not a good sign for either the country or those on the conservative and Republican sides of the ideological and partisan divides.

Political hatred is not only wrong, it is counterproductive. As we observed in 2005, 'one reason Democrats failed to unseat President Bush was that they were blinded by their hatred for him. This made them overconfident, as they mistook their emotions for facts.'"

No matter who you're voting for, keep a civil tongue in your head, will ya? Unless we want our political process to resemble a UFC bout, it's best to treat everyone involved with respect--regardless of how you perceive they treat you.

"This is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you."---Matthew 7:12 (The Voice translation)

HT: Instapundit

Hatred and Condescension

Is this how we're supposed to talk about politicians who hold different beliefs than we do? Or about those Americans who will vote differently than us on November 4th?

"[Sarah Palin is] a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne .... And if she's a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed middle-American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant-size bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the Sizzlin' Picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else's, but simply because it appeals to the low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because the image on TV reminds him of the mean, brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning."

"Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she's the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV -and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation."

I am not writing this in order to make an argument that Sarah Palin is or isn't qualified to be Vice President. I think that's your decision to make, and I'm not about to call you an idiot no matter what you decide. What I want to write about is hate. Vitriol. Poisonous, foul, ad hominem attacks made not just on candidates but on the individuals who decide in their own judgment to vote for such candidates.

This country needs to rise above this sorry excuse for political discourse. No matter what side of the debate you're on you should be disgusted with this substitution of prejudiced hysteria for rational thought. Our political process doesn't need this garbage--nor does our country.

"As you know, long ago God instructed Moses to tell His people, 'Do not murder; those who murder will be judged and punished.' But here is the even harder truth: anyone who is angry with his brother will be judged for his anger. Anyone who taunts his friend, speaks contemptuously toward him, or calls him 'Loser' or 'Fool' or 'Scum' will have to answer to the high court. And anyone who calls his brother a fool may find himself in the fires of hell."---Matthew 5:21-22

"Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don't get so worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God's kind of justice in this world."---James 1:19-20

(both passages from The Voice translation)

See also all of James 3.

Red River Shootout: UT 45, OU 35

The boys are singing The Eyes of Texas! They learned the words in the cradle, of course.

When You Have a Daughter

You have to start practicing this line from the moment you see her in the ultrasound:

"Hey you, anything happens to my daughter, I got a .45 and a shovel. I doubt anyone will miss you."*

I have to say I'm glad to have boys.


*Clueless

Love In Pictures

If you've never checked out this site, please take some time to do so. The photographer, Karl Josker, has been photographing his wife Jennifer for 38 years of marriage. His site, an ongoing tribute to his love for her, is truly amazing.

Make sure you click on the individual pictures because many have stories behind them.

Beautiful.

Why Cremation is the Only Option

Because if you aren't turned to ash, you get to roll in the grave like Chris Buckley's father. WFB is doing back flips, as his son pulls a Ronnie Reagan Jr. just months after WFB passed away.

What a putz.

Note to P.J. O'Rourke: please smack Chris hard with your embroidered butt pillow--soon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Funny

Husband found it - no credit to me.

The Tire Swing

Makes me sick. Or rather, it makes Two sick. And it makes him projectile vomit all over the car on the freeway while driving home from school.

I hate the tire swing. I hate projectile vomit. But I love my boys. And the car is overdue for a trip to the good carwash, I guess.

But vomit on the freeway ... eeeew!

Climate Change

Here's an interesting interview with Roy Spencer, a team leader on NASA's Aqua satellite and a skeptic of human-caused global warming. it's worth reading the whole thing - you don't have be a science geek to understand it (which is why I could read it to begin with).

"Congress gives money to study problems. If manmade global warming is a problem, that's what the money goes to. If manmade global warming isn't a problem there's a risk of losing a lot of funding."

I think this argument has legs. My much-reviled Con Law professor, Lino Graglia, talked a lot about this issue in relation to other things. His point: government agencies (and government funding) is self-perpetuating. If you establish a Department of Red Ant Control, you can be pretty certain that there will always be red ants. Because if they were completely eradicated, the department would have to be shut down and power and jobs would disappear. So the Department of Red Ant Control, even if it happens (accidentally) to kill every last red ant, will suddenly declare that termites are within their purview and a much greater danger than the ants ever were - and by the by can we have more government money? It's human nature - never work yourself out of your job is a lesson we learn quickly and tend to hang onto pretty tightly. Self-interest does so much more harm than good in the long run - but that's something we'll never learn, at least not in this lifetime.

To My Husband



Dance with me?

Comic Relief in the Midst of Financial Crisis

I really hope this guy is being deliberately funny about the impending end of the world:

"Our launching point will be the call for a one-world economy. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently said that the "current problems are so grave that no one country can solve them alone." Enter the call for a monolithic financial system. ... I guess I'm saying: it could be worse. So, smile...for now."

One word for you, pal: Nero.

Texas in October, 'Bout as Pretty as it Gets

This is FOR my friend in NYC, Derek, who's a little too worried about the markets and where all his money is going.



Derek my friend, remember:

"You can keep your New York City, and all 'em yankees in it, I wouldn't give you a Shiner beer for all the money in it."

It's time to come home to Texas, man.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Un-frustrating Our Children

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.”
--- Proverbs 3:27

This verse is used in one of the boys favorite 3-2-1 Penguins episodes, The Doom Funnel Rescue. It’s a great lesson for children to learn, and we go over it quite a bit at home. If you can help your brother out, you do it. It helps reinforce the message that siblings aren’t to be victimized by one another; they are a team, and we expect them to support, not torment, each other.

Recently I’ve been thinking about what a good lesson this is for parents as well as children. All too frequently we decide there’s one good way to do things, and by insisting than our children toe the line we are, in essence, withholding the good of helping them make their own decisions. We frustrate them when instead we could make things easier for them.

I’m not advocating that we “make things easier for them” in the sense that we do things for them that they should do for themselves. Instead, I think we need to remember not to provoke and frustrate our children, in particular with rules that don’t mean anything. For example, if your five year old wants to eat breakfast first and then get dressed for school, let him. Just because you think it’s more logical to get dressed first (since he’s already upstairs in his room when he wakes up) doesn’t mean you need to insist he do it your way or else. If his way turns out to be so inefficient it makes everyone late, then maybe your old rule was important. But if it all works well, you shouldn’t care. There are hundreds of examples of these situations we face every day; before you insist on “my way”, stop for a minute and decide whether you’re making things easier or adding to frustration – in other words, are you delivering good or withholding it?

Thanks for listening to me lecture. Blessings.

Keeping Criminals Safe

Somehow I don't think this is a Britian Winston Churchill thought would ever exist.

"A gardener who fenced off his allotment patch with a single strand of barbed wire to protect it from thieves has been ordered to take it down in case intruders hurt themselves."

Can't the US offer people like this asylum visas - to literally get them out of the asylum that the UK has become?

Palin Hating

Katie Granju makes an interesting argument on why many women don't like Sarah Palin.

I can't say I disagree with what she's saying - I haven't seen much evidence that Palin realizes she can do what she does because others went before her and had a much harder time than she did. I'm not sure she realizes that women like my mother in law, who wanted to work full time and raise a family in the 60's and 70's, exist. Or that they did crazy things like she did: she once smuggled her 8 1/2 months pregnant self onto a plane to NYC because she was afraid she'd be fired if she told her boss she was too pregnant to travel. Yow.

But what I don't know is if this is really the reason why women have reacted poorly to Palin. The arguments I've heard sound nothing like Katie's well-written piece. I hear "she's stupid" and "she's pro-life and therefore will never be a feminist" from the Left. From the Right I hear "no women with children should work outside the home."

So while I like Katie's argument, I don't think it reflects the real-world reasons why women are lashing out at Palin. The hatred I've seen is far more visceral and poorly thought-through than she wants to believe.

Monday, October 6, 2008

For Sarah

Sarah from Oakbriar Farm is sick, so here is a poem for her:

The Germ

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

--- Ogden Nash

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Montessori Potty Humor

Two still needs a little help after using the potty, but tonight when he called to me through the closed bathroom door, he decided to inject a little Montessori into the whole experience:

"Mom, will you check my work?"

He was laughing so hard when I came in he almost fell off the pot. He was very proud of his little joke. Stinker.

Locker Room Talk

One started swim team last week, and one of the parts of the experience is learning to change in the boys' locker room before and after practice. He has an 8 year old's modesty so this is a big challenge for him. The first day went like this:

One (running back out the door into the hall): "Mom! There are boys all over in there and they're naked."

Me: "That's what a locker room is for. Go back in and change."

One: "But they'll see my, you know ... and I'll see theirs ..."

Me: "You don't look. That's the deal. You don't look at theirs and they don't look at yours. It's a guy thing."

One: "Okay." He disappears into the locker room and comes back ready to go.

Later that night, after showering at bedtime:

One: "Hey, Mom, I tried that "don't look" thing in the shower with Two and it really worked! But you know what, I don't think he's heard of that rule, because he kept staring at me ..."

Falling Down and Getting Up

Well, my anger got the best of me the other night and I posted on the elections - about candidates, not just issues - after I resolved not to do so. I'm sorry I did that; I wanted to keep that promise to myself, but as usual, I tripped and fell on my face.

"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control ... An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins." - Proverbs 29:11, 22

"Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools." - Ecclesiastes 7:9

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." - James 1:19

Anger is one of my biggest sins. I pop off so quickly, and then once whatever I have to say is out of my mouth, I'm done. The anger is gone and I'm left feeling horrible. The last quote is definitely one I need to pray over. Actually, all of James - especially the business of keeping a close eye on what comes out of your mouth - is something I need to keep close to me. It's not my brain that gets me into trouble; it's my mouth acting without my brain that lands me in the dirt every time.

You Thought You Had Problems

But if you were this child's mother, it would be a whole 'nother story altogether.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

DNS

I know, I know, I promised not to blog about the election itself, only issues ...

But the DNS attacks on PJM (including Instapundit) and National Review's The Corner that is going on right now is just disgusting. And straight from the Democrats' playbook, I'm afraid to say. The party of Thomas Jefferson - yeah, right. The party of jack-booted thugs who will stop at nothing to shut down dissent is more like it.

Sing it for me, Obamabots: "Tomorrow belongs to meeeeeeeeeee!"

Kindergarten Kissing

Two came home from school on Monday having discovered that favorite Kindergarten game, Chase and Kiss. He explained the rules to me: the girls chase the boys. If a girl catches a boy, she kisses him for real. Then he has to be on her team. Hmmm. I asked him who kissed him and he proudly announced he was too fast for the girls; no one had caught and kissed him.

He explained all of this in the car on the way home, so I declined to comment within earshot of One, who was rolling his eyes and tut-tutting loudly. He brought it up again Tuesday afternoon when we were alone, so we had a little talk about 5 year old girls and boys not being old enough for kissing for real, even in a game. He heartily agreed he didn't want girls kissing him any time soon, and that seems to be that.

But I have to ask: what is the deal with Kindergarten girls and kissing? One had the same experience in Kindergarten - different school, different kids, but same game. When One's class caught the kissing bug, all of the moms on the playground waded into the game one day and put a stop to it. Most of us were boy-moms, strangely enough.

Anyone have any idea where all these girls catch the kissing bug?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Squidoo

Squidoo is giving away $80,000 to charity. All you have to do is go vote here; your vote is worth $2 for whichever charity you pick. Go to it!

Kitchen Organization

Works for Me Wednesday has a theme this week: kitchen organization. Wow, this is not my forte. In the kitchen I’m like the person with piles all over his desk who still knows where to find what he needs. I know where everything is, but I frequently can’t even articulate to someone else where to find things. For instance, why is my cheese grater on the top shelf of the pantry, next to the crème brulee blowtorch? Well, it’s tall and doesn’t fit anywhere else, of course. And the blowtorch? Where else would you put a blowtorch in a house with small boys?

The one thing I think I’ve done well in the kitchen is to turn the butler’s pantry into Snack Boy Central. We have a butler’s pantry because that’s the way the house was built, way back in 1940 (that’s old for Houston, girls). Everything the boys might want to eat that not in the fridge is kept there. One side is sweet and the other is salty; the plastic kid-dishes are in the bottom drawer, easy for them to reach. The counter doesn’t have anything breakable or dangerous on it, so when Two climbs up onto it to peruse the shelves he’s not near the knives or anything like that.

I have to say this arrangement worked better when they were younger. Now that they’re 5 and 8 they really have the run of the entire kitchen. They use regular dishes and glasses instead of plastic, and can get their own sandwiches and cereal – they don’t need specially set-apart “snacks” anymore. But it was a good plan for a while, and that’s why it worked for me.