Sunday, October 26, 2008
We had an unexpected treat yesterday, which was a nice result of trying to do something nice for our buddies. Nikirj has moved to GH, which is a big deal for us, and I get to show her new stuff which is fun for both of us. Yesterday P-daddy kicked us out while he (delightfully) steam cleaned the wall to wall carpets in every room of our house, so I was wandering aimlessly. I stopped by the C-family's house and asked them if they wanted to go to Harbor Greens. While we were there, a lady from next door Forza asked us if we wanted to carve pumpkins. We politely declined, because that is something we usually do with P-daddy, and because we didn't really understand what they were doing.
How cool is it where we live?
Forza was giving away huge jack o'lantern sized pumpkins, scooping them out for the kids, carving the faces (or letting the big ones do it themselves) and giving the kids candles for the pumpkins. In addition, they took a picture of each kid with their jack o'lantern to email to the parents and then gave them some candy. When they were all done, they gave each child a free hot chocolate. Wow! We completely didn't expect that from a random trip to the market, but I was plenty proud to show off our adopted community to our newest resident. (And I scored some of their pumpkin scoopage for the compost pile).
Today P-daddy will take the kids like we do every year to a proper pumpkin patch to select the family Jack o'lantern; we like the family tradition of it all. We're bummed that we didn't get our pumpkins from the garden this year, but I have to admit I like to take the kids the the hay mazes and stuff. It's fun. Pictures to come.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
After lunch, I left the kids in the schoolroom. D-meister and the lady were doing crafts together. N-man was playing runescape. I saw my chance and took it. But the shower felt good. Oh yes, it felt good to sit there with the warm water just flowing over my head.
I was drying off in the bedroom when I saw a yellow streak fly by. There was a gigantic bee in my (almost) fallow garden. By gigantic, I mean 3.5 year old human child sized. D-meister had found the bee costume, stripped down and put it on. He even remembered rain boots.
We know not to ask why, as parents, but there was a reason to this. As I bolted out the door to catch this on camera, I noticed my seed saving pile by the back door had been mussed. D-meister had stripped some of the purple runner beans and was outside, as a bee, planting them.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
As far as the kids' "work," art has been the order of the fall. We've also been studying literature, reading, math and continental drift. Somehow, those aren't as fun to photograph.
The Harry Potter Unit is fun, too, where we have made wands and potions (chemistry) and managed all kinds of mischief, but I am usually too busy, well, managing mischief, to man a camera.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Palin's future, according to Garrison Keillor
We are a stalwart and stouthearted people, and never more so than in hard times. People weep in the dark and arise in the morning and go to work. The waves crash on your nest egg and a chunk is swept away and you put your salami sandwich in the brown bag and get on the bus. In Philly, a woman earns $10.30/hour to care for a man brought down by cystic fibrosis. She bathes and dresses him in the morning, brings him meals, puts him to bed at night. It's hard work lifting him and she has suffered a painful hernia that, because she can't afford health insurance, she can't get fixed, but she still goes to work because he'd be helpless without her. There are a lot of people like her. I know because I'm related to some of them.
Low dishonesty and craven cynicism sometimes win the day but not inevitably. The attempt to link Barack Obama to an old radical in his neighborhood has desperation and deceit written all over it. Meanwhile, stunning acts of heroism stand out, such as the fidelity of military lawyers assigned to defend detainees at Guantanamo Bay -- uniformed officers faithful to their lawyerly duty to offer a vigorous defense even though it means exposing the injustice of military justice that is rigged for conviction and the mendacity of a commander in chief who commits war crimes. If your law school is looking for a name for its new library, instead of selling the honor to a fat cat alumnus, you should consider the names of Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, Lt. Col. Mark Bridges, Col. Steven David, Lt. Col. Sharon Shaffer, Lt. Cmdr. Philip Sundel and Maj. Michael Mori.
It was dishonest, cynical men who put forward a clueless young woman for national office, hoping to juice up the ticket, hoping she could skate through two months of chaperoned campaigning, but the truth emerges: The lady is talking freely about matters she has never thought about. The American people have an ear for B.S. They can tell when someone's mouth is moving and the clutch is not engaged. When she said, "One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day, American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars," people smelled gas.
Some Republicans adore her because they are pranksters at heart and love the consternation of grown-ups. The ne'er-do-well son of the old Republican family as president, the idea that you increase government revenue by cutting taxes, the idea that you cut social services and thereby drive the needy into the middle class, the idea that you overthrow a dictator with a show of force and achieve democracy at no cost to yourself -- one stink bomb after another, and now Governor Palin.
She is a chatty sportscaster who lacks the guile to conceal her vacuity, and she was Mr. McCain's first major decision as nominee. This troubles independent voters, and now she is a major drag on his candidacy. She will get a nice book deal from Regnery and a new career making personal appearances for forty grand a pop, and she'll become a trivia question, "What politician claimed foreign-policy expertise based on being able to see Russia from her house?" And the rest of us will have to pull ourselves out of the swamp of Republican economics.
Your broker kept saying, "Stay with the portfolio, don't jump ship," and you felt a strong urge to dump the stocks and get into the money market where at least you're not going to lose your shirt, but you didn't do it and didn't do it, and now you're holding a big bag of brown bananas. Me, too. But at least I know enough not to believe desperate people who are talking trash. Anybody who got whacked last week and still thinks McCain-Palin is going to lead us out of the swamp and not into a war with Iran is beyond persuasion in the English language. They'll need to lose their homes and be out on the street in a cold hard rain before they connect the dots.
These are dark days, my friends.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
I have identified as a Libertarian for years but I think I may be waning in that. I still think an adherence to the basic structure of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would steer us well, but I also believe that the ills of a big government cannot be taken care of equitably without said governmental involvement. We can't just stop programs and social cycles that are in place without expecting huge upheavals.
So it surprises me that I lean toward [shudder] Democrat, and that I simultaneously find myself agreeing with an editor of The National Review. I know I JUST said I didn't want to write about politics here but a friend of mine overseas asked a very specific question and I thought this editorial would serve as a good answer.
From D Magazine,
A Conservative for Obama
My party has slipped its moorings. It’s time for a true pragmatist to lead the country.
Leading Off By Wick Allison, Editor In Chief
THE MORE I LISTEN TO AND READ ABOUT “the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,” the more I like him. Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan. To explain why, I need to explain why I am a conservative and what it means to me.
In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater. My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America. Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review. I later became its publisher.
Conservatism to me is less a political philosophy than a stance, a recognition of the fallibility of man and of man’s institutions. Conservatives respect the past not for its antiquity but because it represents, as G.K. Chesterton said, the democracy of the dead; it gives the benefit of the doubt to customs and laws tried and tested in the crucible of time. Conservatives are skeptical of abstract theories and utopian schemes, doubtful that government is wiser than its citizens, and always ready to test any political program against actual results.
Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of “oughts.” We ought to do this or that because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.
But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.
Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.
This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.
Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.
Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.
“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.