Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Children - A Most Precious Gift (To Some of Us)

Boy, sorry for the short blogging absence. Halloween kept me busy with party planning and running around trying to find stuff for Preston's fire fighter costume. Seems that stores no longer stock reflective tape for Halloween, which is weird because it's great for safety and artistic reasons.

Anyway, I came across this article by C.R. Hardy last week from National Review Online that aptly describes the anti-child attitude of many Americans nowadays--they're not necessarily all blue-staters either

According to my fair-minded fellow Cambridge residents, I was an overpopulation nut-case. The snickers and sneers were insufferable -- most especially when I was out with my boys in a double stroller, pushing them along with my pregnant, over-sized mid-section. You could see the astonished eyes looking first at the stroller, then at my belly, then quickly at my face (to see if I was real, I assume), and then embarrassingly shifting to a store front or a passing car. Then the person would whisper to a smiling companion, well within my hearing, "She's having another one!"

This has never happened to me personally since I have only one child right now, but one of my friends experiences this quite often--she is a mother of 4. If it had been up to me, I would have 3 or 4 kids already but I have had to be patient. This anti-kid attitude is a little hard for me to understand as a Christian. In my church (the LDS church) children are seen as a blessing and a sacred stewardship. One of the first songs a child learns at church is I Am a Child of God. Children are taught that they are each a spiritual son or daughter of God and that God loves them. It is not unusual for members of my church to have 4, 5, or 6 kids. I know a few families that have even larger families (I can hear the collective gasp of zero population folks all over the globe).

Ms. Hardy goes on to describe the changes in Harvard square that she attributes to the declining interest in child-rearing in that area.

My favorite sign of the times is that in my absence the GapKids that used to occupy the second floor of one of the Harvard Co-op buildings in Harvard Square was replaced with a GapBody. For those of you uninitiated into the world of Gap-lingo, allow me to explain. The Gap is a ridiculously trendy apparel company that caters to young people, and adults who want to dress like young people.... GapBody is the newest spin-off. It peddles ridiculously trendy undergarments and comfy apparel for women, because, as goes their motto, "there's no secret to being sexy...feeling good is the sexiest thing of all." And so, considering that those marketing majors at The Gap are well aware that Harvard Square is student-territory, and since students don't have many kids, out goes GapKids and in comes GapBody -- all of which seems to be good reasoning.

Harvard students are more interested in sex -- or in feeling sexy -- than in kids. (This is not the case at Brigham Young University - you should see all the young married students that bring their kids to campus-ed). Feeling sexy, however, often leads to sex, and sex often leads to kids. Ahem. Or at least to pregnancies. Which is why blue America sweepingly (and coercively) supports choice. They want the sex, but not the kids. The kids are much too costly. To the pocketbook, yes, but most of all to a particular lifestyle more interested in today's consumption than tomorrow's production.

Enter defense of illegal immigration (workers need to come from somewhere), abortion and the Pill (for the sexiness without the kids), and support for gay marriage (because what does sex have to do with kids, anyway?). I'm reminded of Walker Percy's 1971 summary of what the left stands for: LEFTPAPASANE - Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, The Pill, Atheism, Pot, Anti-Pollution, Sex, Abortion Now, Euthanasia. Think much has changed?

BAM! She goes from GapBody to Abortion in one fell swoop! But there is a definite connection between disdain for children and the pet causes of leftists. It's true that raising kids is expensive, but they are a worthwhile investment. When I was in academia, it was shocking to me how many well-educated scientists disdain the thought of having kids--either it was too much bother or it was irresponsible in light of global warming, people starving in Africa, and yada yada.

My response to these individuals was that we have we have a responsibility to pass on the gifts of knowledge and intelligence we have been blessed with to the next generation. What better gift can one give to the world than children that have been well-educated and raised to be good citizens?

Today's children are tomorrow's future. We may not be able to personally help all the troubled and neglected children in our communities, but we can raise our children right so that they can contribute what gifts they have to improving our world.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I'm Not Sitting Out This Election, Are You?

Every day I read about some media report that says Republicans are going to lose control of Congress because disillusioned conservatives and "values voters" will sit out the election. I don't know who pollsters are talking to, but I and most of my family and friends always feel some disappointment in our politicians. We feel that Republicans are beholden to Big Business and that Democrats are beholden to special interest groups (including lawyers, teachers' unions, workers' unions) some of which are very radical e.g. ACLU, NOW, NARAL. So usually, I feel like I'm choosing between the lesser of two evils, and most people probably feel the same. It all depends on which issues are most important to you.

For me, the number one issue is the War on Terrorism. Which party will do the best to defend our country (and protect my loved ones) from Islamic terrorists, and miscellaneous well-armed and badly-coiffed dictators? Yes, I'm unhappy with the reluctance that many Republicans in the Senate (and President Bush) have shown in beefing up border security, but the Democrats are infinitely worse. Which party has consistently opposed every security measure--a border fence, the Patriot Act, military tribunals of enemy combatants, surveillance of domestic and foreign agents?--Democrats. To me Democrats are completely unserious about the War on Terrorism. I don't think that many of them even believe that we're at war--it's more like a Law and Order episode.

Senator Joe Lieberman is a different story. He has been consistently supportive of the President's efforts to prosecute the war. I could vote for him if I felt his Republican opponent wasn't up to the task. But if his opponent shares his views on that issue, then I would have to look at the next most important issues--first fiscal responsibility, then preservation of traditional marriage, then preservation of 2nd amendment rights, then limitation of abortions (especially late-term), and last energy and environmental conservation. Unfortunately, there are not many fiscal and social conservative Democrats left, so I'm forced to vote for Republicans no matter how distasteful I find it. My congressional representative is Joe Barton and he's totally in the pocket of big business, and could care less about the crappy air his constituents have to breath because of his refusal to back clean air legislation. However,his opponent David Harris is a Daily Kos-reading liberal Democrat. To top it off, he thinks Al Snore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is fantastic. Great, maybe I should write in my cat.

I do hope that Republicans keep control of both house in November, but I hope that it's so close they step back and decide to clean up their act. I have nightmares about botox-browed Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker of the house. She's vowed to repeal the tax cuts signed by President Bush and I don't know about you, but I like having lower taxes. It would be the same old liberal tax and spend crap. Plus, I'd have to hear her screechy voice even more than I do now since there's no doubt in my mind that she and the Dems would try to start impeachment hearings on President Bush, wasting our time and money while Osama and his ilk are trying to murder us. So please go out and vote, fellow conservatives, unless this is the face you want to see regularly when you turn on the T.V.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Common Good = We Take Your Money and Spend It

I couldn't help snorting in derision when I saw this story:
'Common Good' a New Theme for Democrats. They might as well have made their theme: Higher Taxes--It's for your own good. This is one reason why conservatives like me resent liberal Democrats. They think money will solve all the ills of society--poverty (and hence crime), illiteracy, disease, racism--and they want the American taxpayer to foot the bill for all their pet projects.

I do think that it's important for people to work together in their communities to solve problems, but I don't think that it's something that should be forced on us by the government. It often seems like liberal Democrats think all of the American people are simpletons that can't be trusted to manage their own affairs, including their money. This is exemplified by their resistance to tax reduction, social security and welfare reform. They say, how dare we take our social security earnings and invest them in private accounts for our retirement! The government can do a much better job of squandering those funds then we can.

I think this theme will not be helpful to Democrats. Remember how well Mondale did in the 1984 presidential election when he ran on raising taxes? I think most Americans will hear "common good" and reply, "Keep your hands out of my wallet!"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Get Lost? Neither Do I.

I've been a big fan of the ABC show Lost since the middle of the 1st season. I hadn't even heard of it until one of my friends lent me her tapings of it, and said we had to watch it. I was skeptical because it seems like there's been nothing interesting on T.V. since C.S.I. (which has now jumped the shark, but that's another story), but I was drawn in by the character development and the mystery of the Island.

I love character development--that's one reason why I love the works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Victor Hugo. I think the way Lost uses flashbacks to develop each character is interesting. Unlike in books, visual media doesn't usually allow you to get inside a character's head, unless a narrator is used and that gets pretty old. But flashbacks tell you where a character's been and can sometimes explain the reasons behind a character's behavior. Even then, I'm sometimes surprised by the actions of a character that I feel I know pretty well. That's one of the great things about Lost is there's always a surprise. Anything could happen, any character could get killed off, and it can be maddening trying to figure out what's going to happen.

I have a hard time picking a favorite Lost character because they're all so interesting and flawed in different ways-- beautiful Kate, an accused murderer and bank robber; Sawyer, the hunky and fast-talking conman with a deathwish; Sayid, the resourceful former Iraqi Republican Guard "communications" expert; Hurly, the large and jolly winner of the lottery; Jack, the type-A personality neurosurgeon; Locke, the paraplegic turned medicine man; Charlie, the washed up rock star and recovering heroin addict; and Sun and Jin, the Korean married couple with relationship issues; Claire, the mother of baby Aaron; and Mr. Echo, the mystical former Nigerian warlord. If there's one major flaw of Lost, it's that there's so many characters to keep track of and there's only so much time that can be devoted to flushing out each one.

Anyway, last night was the second episode of the 3rd season, and was called "The Glass Ballerina" which refers to a figurine that Sun broke as a little girl. To sum it up, Jack, Sawyer, and Kate have been captured by the island's natives (the Others) while Sun, Jin, and Sayid are waiting on the other side of the island in Desmond's sailboat to rendezvous with them. A love-triangle between Kate, Sawyer, and Jack has developed over the past 2 seasons, and the Others seem to be taking advantage of that.

BTW, my favorite scene of the first episode was the look on Sawyer's face when Kate was brought in handcuffed and throw into the cage opposite him. He really loves Kate, as least that's what the actor (Josh Holloway) portrays, and I totally bought into it.

Anyway, Sawyer tries and fails to escape by giving Kate a smooch, and Sun shoots one of the Others as they steal Desmond's boat. In the flashbacks, we learn that Sun had an affair and that Jin was instructed by her father to kill her lover. Jin doesn't kill the guy, but beats him badly and the man commits suicide minutes later. Despite their troubled marriage, we see that Jin and Sun really love each other after Sun narrowly escapes being murdered by the Others on the boat.

Unfortunately, we still don't find out much about the Others, except that they are ruthless killers with a secret agenda for the Losties. Come on! This show can drive you crazy with all the unanswered questions, and the few that are answered are stretched out for a whole season. But I guess that's what keeps me coming back--the hope that the pieces will finally come together and make sense.

For those of you Lost freaks, Lostpedia and Lost-TV are great sites with background on all the chracters, episode summaries, transcripts and message boards.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Arming Our Teachers

UPDATE: On Oct. 13, Utah teachers were given the option of taking a free concealed-handgun course during the UEA holiday. Now that's some time well-spent.

In the wake of the horrible Amish school shootings, President Bush held a
school safety summit in Maryland today to discuss solutions to reduce school violence. President Bush, Mrs. Bush, the U.S. Attorney General, and the Secretary of Education addressed the conference. Some of the ideas proposed were to put in local law enforcement officials to patrol and educate the student, to expand programs where teachers monitor potential problem students, and lots of feel-good mumbo-jumbo about "character education" and making student "feel safe." There is not one mention of allowing teachers to carry concealed guns in the Fox News story, although it might have been discussed.

NEWSFLASH!! Not one of the above solution, except increasing police presence on campuses will prevent an outsider from coming into a school and shooting the students. Increased security will help, but a lot of schools don't have the resources for metal detectors and police dogs. Plus, I'm sure the kids would rather not feel like they are in a prison. Right now, a lot of our students are sitting ducks because everyone knows that no one, except for one or two security officers, is armed. States that have enacted gun-free zones in the hopes of reducing gun violence have instead made school free-kill zones for any armed lunatic that happens to walk in.

I read a great piece at National Review Online by
Dave Kopel on this topic. In t he article, along with discussing other preventively measures, he points out the benefits of allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons and training teachers and students in self-defense. He held up my home state of Utah as a example of doing things right:

Like many states, Utah enacted a concealed-handgun licensing law in 1995. Unlike most states, Utah did not make schools an exclusion zone for lawful carrying. Not only a teacher on duty, but also a parent coming to pick up a child from school, can lawfully carry a concealed handgun in a Utah school building after, of course, passing a background check and safety training. In 2003, the legislature expanded the law, by allowing principals to authorize firearms possession by individuals who did not have a concealed-handgun carry permit.)

After eleven years of experience in Utah, we now have exactly zero reported problems of concealed handgun licensees misusing guns at school, or students stealing guns from teachers, or teachers using their licensed firearms to shoot or threaten students. During this same period, we also have had exactly zero mass murders in Utah schools.

My proposal, however, is not that other states go as far as Utah. Rather, I simply suggest that teachers and other school employees be allowed to carry if they obtain a handgun carry permit. If a school wants to require special additional training for school carry, that's fine.

Sounds good to me. If I was a teacher, I would definitely want to be armed, both to protect myself and my students. I can't understand all the NEA-type teachers that think guns are icky and barbaric. Guns have been used numerous times to defend teachers and students. Kopel lists several examples of these cases--1997 in Pearl, MS; and also in 1997 in Edinboro, PA.

Unfortunately, the Amish are a peaceful people that probably will never want to arm their teachers, even after the murder of their children. Possibly, they could hire a police officer to protect them. But the rest of us need to take our children's safety more seriously. We can't wait for the SWAT team to come rescue our kids when some nut with a weapon comes into their school. We should support laws that allow our teachers to be armed, and demand programs that will train our teachers in self-defense and crisis management. Our kids are counting on us.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nuclear Holocaust Alarmism or Emergency Preparedness?

So I awoke to the news that North Korea likely had conducted an underground test of a nuclear bomb over the weekend. Great. That's all we need is Kim Jong Il-in-the head with a nuke.

I was listening to Glenn Beck this morning as I drove to the store and he had on an M.D. that was the founder of a group called Physicians for Civil Defense. Apparently, she was upset that Glenn had put out some misinformation on the survivability of a nuclear blast. She directed people to her website and that of a company called KI4U for more information on what we can do to prepare for a nuclear blast.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking--that Glenn Beck is an alarmist and a conspiracy nut! He's got a countdown to Armageddon for the love of Pete! Well, yes, he is a nut, but I think he's hilarious--in a sarcastic, black humor kind of way. When I first heard his show I thought he was insane, until I realized that 90% of what he says is sarcasm and parody. Glenn is definitely an acquired taste, but he does bring up a lot of issues that we usually try to ignore because they're uncomfortable to think about. Now that we know that state sponsors of terrorism e.g. Iran and North Korea are activity pursuing nuclear weapons, we have to face the possibility that these weapons could fall into the hand of terrorists who will have no qualms about using them on us. Unlike during the Cold War, mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent for these freaks. If civilians are killed, then they are infidel dogs. If Muslim civilians are killed then they are martyrs to the cause. If we destroy the terrorists in response, then they will joyfully go to their martyrdom and 72 raisins. So it's a win-win situation for the terrorists.

So what do we do? We can prepare the best we can to survive an terrorist attack, so we can fight back later. First,just as the Department of Homeland Security has recommended, have a 72-hour kit ready. Next, we should try to store as much extra food and water as possible (based on space and budget constraints) to last a few weeks if we are unable to get food locally. The LDS church has great resources on food storage since the members have been urged to store a year's supply of food for several decades. It's a good idea to have a blast/fallout shelter or place that can be converted into one. Heck, here in Texas tornado shelters are a necessity and they can easily be used as fallout shelters. I found a book online called "Nuclear War Survival Skills" by Cresson Kearny that describes how to build simple but effective fallout shelters, and even a homemade radiation detector.

I'm not saying good crazy and spend your life saving on a high tech shelter and a tone of MREs and ammo. But maybe think about what you and your family would do in that situation. Just like for a hurricane or fire--have a plan for your family. And try not to stress out too much worrying about stuff like that. Prepare yourself and your family the best way you can, and then go on with your life.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Saturday Cat Blogging

UPDATE: This week's Carnival of the Cats is hosted by Curiouser and Curiouser.

Cats and small children generally do not mix. My cat Omni is pretty tolerant for a cat, but after a few tail pulls even he can reach his limit. Here's Preston going after Omni's wiggly tail for the umpteenth time. Laughter and loud meowing ensues.


Whew! The kid finally left me alone!


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Political Blogging or Plogging for Mitt Romney

Ok, in the interests of full disclosure, another reason why I wanted to start blogging again was to get involved in the upcoming 2008 campaign for POTUS. I was very disappointed that I missed all the fun during the 2004 election because I was finishing up my thesis. There is a lot of comedy in politics!

Anyway, my husband and I decided that we are going to support Mitt Romney, the current governor of Massachusetts, for the Republican nomination for POTUS. We've followed his career since the 2002 Winter Olympics in SLC and were impressed by his integrity and work ethic. I think he'd make a terrific Commander-in-Chief, and frankly, the other potential Republican candidates don't look that hot. John McCain is as RINO as they come, and loves the spotlight of MSM too much--and they love him! Rudy Giuliani is too liberal on social issues for me (read: pro-choice and pro-gay marriage), although he'd probably be great on anti-terrorism issues. Condi Rice would be a great candidate, but again she's a little too socially liberal and she's repeatedly said that she's not going to run.

Of all the potential candidates, I think Mitt Romney has the greatest chance of winning. He's articulate, he's both a social and fiscal conservative, he has executive experience, and he's a decent family man. Ok, so he's a Mormon, but some of my best friends are Mormons. Oh yeah! I'm a Mormon too. Some conservatives have expressed concern about the "Mormon Factor" because they think that evangelicals won't vote for a Mormon. But I think that if they look carefully at each candidate and their platform, they'll see that Mitt's stances on most issues match their own regardless of his personal beliefs. Some conservative evangelicals have already discovered this at Evangelicals for Mitt. If some of you have questions about Mitt's religious beliefs, see the website for the LDS Church or email me with questions.

I've also accepted an invitation to do some guest blogging for Texans for Mitt Romney. I'll link to it periodically. This is strictly a volunteer effort--i.e. I'm not getting paid. If you're interested in finding out more about Mitt and his campaign see his official campaign website here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Back to Blogging

Howdy, folks! Yes, I know it's been a long time since I last blogged. I needed to take a break for a while due to the stress of raising a one-year-old boy and building our own home. But I have missed blogging because it gave me a great outlet for my thoughts. Toddlers are not really good at listening to rants on politics, science, or anything not involving Thomas the Train or Winnie the Pooh. My husband understandably would rather I vent in a journal or blog than the minute he walks in the door. So anyhow, I'm back and I plan on blogging daily so feel free to add comments and suggestions. I've missed my friends and readers too!

The next few days I'll be updating the site so I won't be posting a whole lot at first.

BTW, the house turned out great. We moved in at the end of April and I spent most of the summer getting the landscaping done. If you're interested in building your own home, take a look at our homebuilding website here. My husband did a great job of documenting the process, including adding the sub-contractors we used. Until we finally finished the house, I kept saying to myself, "I'll never do this again! What were we thinking?!" But after seeing the completed house, I would definitely do it again. Learning the ropes is the hardest part, and once you have learned the process of building, it's easy. I've enjoyed working around the house--putting on the finishing touches--and telling people, "Yep, we built it ourselves."