Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Day of Reckoning

Well, I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't very disappointed by the results of

Tuesday's Presidential election. I'm a conservative through and through so naturally I wanted the more conservative candidate, John McCain, to win. However, I also feel a sense of happiness for the African-American people of the U.S. The election of Barack Obama symbolizes the final removal of the dark stain left by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in our country. Now all African-Americans can look at President Obama and finally say that they have a full share in the American dream.

Barack Obama is soon to be the POTUS,and therefore he is MY president. I intend to treat President Elect Obama with the honor and dignity that the office of POTUS deserves. Nothing irritated me more than extremists on the left and right (but mostly on the left) that denigrated President Bush constantly for 8 years with all sorts of ad hominum attacks. It's fine to disagree with his policies, but can we not act like adults and disagree respectfully? I hope Democrats (and whoever else) realize what they have done and apologize for it (yeah right).

I wish President Obama and his family all the best. I hope that Obama is pragmatic and centrist in his governance. His past record in the Senate and Illinois State senate indicated to me that he was very liberal in his views, but I hope he has grown and realized that the U.S. should be governed in a center-right or center-left fashion. Partisanship is for Congress and the POTUS should be above that. President Bush, although I disagree with him on several issues, was a good example of putting the country first and he also was quite gracious to his critics. Sometimes I thought he was too gracious because the press attacked him so viciously, yet he just shrugged it off.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what the next four years brings. Here's to a successful (for the whole country) Obama presidency. God bless America!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saving the Planet is for Suckers!

I couldn't help laughing as I read this report by the U.K. government regarding disposable diapers versus cloth diapers (or nappies as the Brits call them):

A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings. (Well, at least they're trying to be transparent.)

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions (e.g. Those are not the disposable nappies that I knew!).

The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them (in other words, make your kid wear the same one for three days straight and then wash them by pounding them on a rock).

To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60C.

The conclusions will upset proponents of real nappies who have claimed they can help save the planet. (Ya think?)

The report found that while disposable nappies used over 2½ years would have a global warming , impact of 550kg of CO2 reusable nappies produced 570kg of CO2 on average. But if parents used tumble dryers and washed the reusable nappies at 90C, the impact could spiral to . 993kg of CO2

So what can we conclude from this report?

1. Cloth diapers are a major pain in the butt that won't save the planet and so all you "greenies" that use them just to feel noble--sorry!! You are NOT reducing your carbon footprint so you'd be better off buying carbon offsets from my brand new company Plant a Tree for Gaia (TM).

2. Many entities with an agenda (i.e. the UK government in this case) will squelch reports that disagree with their preconceived notions and promote those that agree. This is called propaganda.

3. It's best to view studies with a critical eye, no matter what side of the debate you're on. This study may mean something, but I'm sure another study will come out in the future that contradicts this one. So I think one should just use a little common sense, not follow trends.

For example, I use disposable diapers because they are convenient, sanitary, and they reduce the risk of diaper rash because they are so absorbent. I'm not really concerned about the amount of waste that they generate because I live in Texas--there is a lot land here, much of it barren. Cloth or reusable diapers, on the other hand, are not convenient, not as absorbent, and use up a lot of water in washing them (Plus they have a high yuck factor). Water is a precious commodity in Texas, especially in the summer. Most summer we end up rationing our water for our yards. So there is no compelling reason to switch to disposable diapers.

As far as the argument for reducing one's carbon footprint, I'm all for saving energy (it saves me money) but I'm not convinced that reducing carbon output is going to make a bit a of difference in our planet's well being. As I said before, I'm agnostic on "global climate change" based on carbon output. There's compelling evidence on both sides of the debate. one of the biggest reason I tend to be skeptical is because Al Gore (a.k.a. the Goracle) is one if its biggest proponents and if you remember the 2000 elections, he tends to exaggerate everything. Plus he's a flaming hypocrite based on his owning a huge house and luxury boat, not to mention his jet-setting around the world. Basically, if the Nobel Peace prize committee and Hollywood love him, then I'm pretty sure he's full of it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

NEWSFLASH! Unknown blogger endorses John McCain!

I haven't posted anything for a while, mostly due to computer issues and a continuous aversion to writing. But if you can't tell from my earlier posts, I'm a news/politics junkie. My recently acquired Centro phone allows me to feed that addiction--I can get the latest poll results and campaign gaffes in seconds whenever I want. However, blogging on a mobile phone is virtually impossible unless you want to be at it all day and have huge blisters on your thumbs. Truthfully, I can't wait until this election is over because it is stressing me out--BIG TIME. I know this is supposed to be the Democrats's year to win back the presidency because President Bush has been such a MISERABLE FAILURE or so the MSM tells me, but I really can't believe that a majority of my fellow citizens would vote for Barack Obama. Although McCain is not my ideal candidate (Mitt was my man), he is light years beyond Barack Obama and thus I am officially endorsing John McCain and Sarah Palin for POTUS/VPOTUS. I know, I know...I'm sure they'll be thrilled to hear they've been endorsed by a blogger of little consequence.

My philosophy of government is pretty simple--leave me the heck alone so I can take care of my family! I like low taxes, accountability, efficiency, and most of all, COMPETENCE in my government. Republicans have been pretty good at the first thing, but have been pretty lax on the latter three. But the Democrats have been consistently bad on all four things for a very long time. When was the last time you heard of a fiscally conservative Democrat? Usually, they want to tax more, spend more, and add numerous more governmental programs.

To me, the entire Democrat platform is based on envy--which results in at best socialism or at worst communism. Obama revealed his socialist philosophy in his comments to Joe the plumber. Spread the wealth? Are you kidding me? Believe me, it is possible for the poor to be as greedy and envious as the wealthy. It's a human failing, but it is not a good idea on which to base one's government.

I'm not a libertarian a la Ron Paul in that I believe that every single department or governmental program not specifically mentioned in the Constitution should be eliminated, but I do think that the bureaucracy should be considerably trimmed and made more efficient. I don't think tax dollars should go to fund the National Endowment for the Arts or PBS and numerous other pet projects i.e. get rid of pork barrel spending. I'm a federalist in that I believe that the federal government has usurped too many powers that should be relegated to the states. For example, I think states should be able to regulate abortion and marriage laws without the interference of the feds. If a state (with consensus of its citizens) wants to allow gay marriage, I'm okay with that (but don't approve of it) as long as it is not forced on the rests of the states by the courts.

I also think states and local governments should be allowed to legislate moral and social issues based on what their citizens prefer e.g. if one silly state wants to legalize drugs and/or prostitution that is their prerogative. And they shouldn't ask for federal money to bail them out of the resulting fallout from their poorly thought out social programs.

Some moral issues such as abortion (and previously slavery) involve human rights, and I think the federal government is obligated to step in, e.g. the 13th and 14th amendments. The 14th amendment didn't just protect former slaves, it prevented states from abusing minority citizens. For example, under the 14th amendment it would have been illegal for the state of Missouri to expel Mormons simply because they didn't get along with their neighbors. I would not be opposed to an abortion amendment that prohibits abortion after the first trimester except in the case where the mother's health is at significant risk. An amendment would also be voted on by the citizens and not forced on the country by the judiciary. Obama et al. don't seem to have a problem with judicial activists judges, while McCain opposes them and favors strict constructionists.

In conclusion, I'm supporting McCain/Palin because I think they are less likely to take money out of our pockets and waste it on stupid things that the federal government has no business doing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Sad Tale of Scar the Rabbit

One reason why I haven't posted much lately is because my life has just seemed so mundane--nothing out of the ordinary. I really didn't think my readers would be interested in hearing about the latest potty-related achievements of my 3-year-old or tales of irritating Walmart clerks. But something weird did happen to me today.

We'd had a little cotton-tail rabbit hanging around our front door for the past week. He'd made himself at home in our holly and hawthorne bushes , and would venture out in the evening. It had almost become a nightly ritual of taking the boys out to watch the rabbit scamper around. This rabbit was unusual in that it had a 5 inch long scar on it's back, so naturally I named him Scar. He's probably had a close call with a predator--out here we have coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes, owls, and hawks.

Anyway, i hadn't seen Scar for the past two nights, so I thought maybe he'd left to find better digs. But when I pulled into my driveway after coming home from the store, i noticed a small brown mound on the top of our mailbox. I jumped out of the car for a closer look and to my dismay I discovered it was a severed rabbit head. At first I thought it was a prank a la "The Godfather," and I was angry that some punk kids would do that to a cute little rabbit. But I changed my mind about that after I examined and disposed of it so that my 3-year-old wouldn't see it and freak out. The head appeared to have sustained trauma caused by an animal (I don't want to get too graphic here for those of you sensitive souls), and was probably a couple of days old based on insect activity (been watching way too much CSI).

My husband also mentioned seeing a hawk circling around our house Saturday afternoon, so Scar's luck probably ran out that day. A scavenger bird (such as a vulture--they love to hang around on trash day) probably found his little body and dropped part of it. For it to land like that on our mailbox was pretty unlucky and strange, but at least I didn't find it by stepping on it while playing with my kids in the yard. My 3-year-old has a hard enough time going to sleep because of the "man" in his closet, so I'm glad he didn't see poor little Scar.

So there ends the sad tale of Scar the rabbit. I know it's all part of the food chain, but I still feel a little sad, like I've lost a pet. Maybe I'll feel differently about rabbits next year when I start a garden and the little pests eat all my plants. Then I'll be like Mr. McGregor in the Tale of Peter Cottontail--trying to whack the little thieving bunnies with my hoe and bake them in a pie. Eww, rabbit pie.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Does Modern Technology Simplify or Complicate Our Lives?

I just recently updated my phone to a Sprint Centro, and this phone can do everything (except clean my house). I can record take pictures, make videos, watch T.V., listen to music and podcasts, check my email, surf the web, call or text anyone, play games, read books, find a map location, etc. It's really useful, but it can also be incredibly distracting. I could waste a whole lot of time messing around with this thing, to the detriment of my family and friends (crackberry indeed!). Luckily, the novelty wore off after the first week (and after I tried to plow through the 300 page manual). So it is nice to have a compact organizer/computer/phone/camera and it does simplify my life in that I don't have to carry a separate date book and phone around. It's nice to be able to check email and browse the web when I have a moment to spare. But moderation, as with most things, is the key. Isn't that true of most of the conveniences we have now? They simplify our lives so that we have more free time to waste messing around with our gadgets or consuming media.

That's one reason why I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like to. It detracts from the time I could be spending with my family or working on projects that are a higher priority. Don't get me wrong. I think blogging is a blast and it's a great tool for communicating ideas and keeping in touch with family and friends. But for now, I'll have to settle on posting infrequently, since I am a slow writer and I generally like to post pithy essays when I can.

Anyway, back to modern technology. Do any of you have some gadgets that you simply can't live without? I admit that I would be lost without a computer. I have to check my email at least twice a day and have a list of daily must-read web sites. I'm not really into text messaging (for one thing, I feel compelled to use correct grammar and spelling all of the time).

And look at me, I've already spent way too much time overthinking this post on a relatively simple topic. Argh!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pet Peeve #487 - Politically Correct Cartoons

I know, I know. It's been a long time since I last posted. I have no excuses except that life has felt quite hectic, but if I had to list out my schedule of what I do every day, it would sound like I have plenty of time to kill. Most of the time I'm making sure my 10 month-old doesn't kill his little fool self as he's trying to get around, and the rest of the time is spent entertaining and cleaning up after my 3 year-old. By the end of the day after I've cleaned up dinner and put the kids to bed, I have about 60-90 minutes to my self. And lately, I've had other pressing things to work on.

But back to the point of this post. My 3 year-old loves to watch Curious George (CG) on PBS. Most of the time, I have no problem with this because CG usually teaches kids about science and math concepts. The only drawback is that George is a monkey, and therefore can't talk. So my son often hoots and hollers like a monkey instead of talking. And once in a while, the writers will throw in some politically correct (read liberal) issue like recycling. Ok, that's fine since I do a bit of that myself. And then there's the appropriately diverse cast with characters of different skin tones, ethnicities, and species (dogs, cats, elephants, skunks). Fine, George lives in a large city based on NYC so there should be plenty of diversity (although I doubt many city dwellers would be thrilled with the large variety of animals running loose).

Occasionally, however, it gets a little ridiculous. During one interlude, some kids visit a bicycle shop in Boston named "Bikes, Not Bombs." Er, okay. One little boy helpfully explains the name, "They sell bikes here, not bombs." Obviously. The name of the shop is just the kind of liberal sanctimony that drives me up the wall. I mean, who defines themselves as something they are not? I wonder if the owners of the shop also have stores named, "Coffee, Not Coffins," "Art Supplies, Not Artillery," "Donuts, Not Dynamite," or "Juice, not JDAMs." Ridiculous!

And then there's Clifford the Big Red Dog (or Clifford's Puppy Days). One day last fall I was thinking, "Gee, Preston watches a lot of great kids shows on PBS. Maybe I should send them a couple bucks for their pledge drive. And then an episode of Clifford comes on called "Fall Feast." So Clifford's owner, Emily Elizabeth, and her family make some yummy food to take to their grandma's house for the "Fall Feast," but they get stuck in the railroad station with all their neighbors who have all made their culturally appropriate side dishes for their own "Fall Feast." Of course, I've figured out that "Fall Feast" is their code word for a politically-correct-let's-not-offend-anyone-with-a slight-reference-to-giving-thanks-to-deity major holiday more commonly known as THANKSGIVING! I mean, come on people! Who actually says, Happy Fall Feast?!

Maybe it's an east coast thing that I haven't heard of because I'm down here in the Bible Belt, but this is taking political correctness too far. Maybe they'll stop saying have a happy Fall Feast too because it might offend depressed people who don't get to go visit their grandmas so then it will just be, "Have a Fall Feast or have a Day (or not). So anyway, my thought of contributing any money to PBS just disintegrated at that point. I figured that they've got my tax dollars, and they're lucky to get that much for this crap.

And to make things worse, a few days later I had to suffer through an episode where Emily Elizabeth and her friends shared the ways they celebrated the "First Snow" of winter, i.e. Christmas. Good grief! I should have called up and complained that PBS was discriminating against people that lived in places where it didn't snow, like Texas. Maybe that saying is true--the squeaky wheel gets the grease--and the people that are offended by all things American or Christian spend all their time complaining to the powers that be and that's why we get stuck with this kind of P.C. crap. Maybe it's time for the rest of us to mount our own campaign to wrest back our holiday celebrations from the grinches in this country. What do ya'll think?

Update: Upon further reflection, I think the campaign should be called the "Let's Offend Everyone and Have a Great Time Doing It" campaign.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Basements, Closets, and Twisters, Oh My!

It's been a relatively exciting couple of weeks while my computer's been down. First we had some spring storms wreak havoc in the DFW area. Spring is tornado season in North Texas, and although I've lived here for almost 10 years, I still can't get used to the tornado sirens. I can't imagine anything more scary than your house being torn off it's foundation while you and your kids cower in your closet. My Texas-born friends are pretty blase about--Oh yeah, we just jump in the bathtub with our pillows and blankets. It's like camping. Um, sure. Except while camping you don't run the risk of being skewered with a tree or flung 100 yards across a field while you're sleeping.

There's two classifications for storms with possible tornado development--1) tornado watch, where there's a possibility for formation of a tornado and 2) tornado warning, where a tornado has been spotted and those in the area had better take cover and PRAY. And where does one take cover when a tornado is bearing down on them? In Texas, it's an interior closet, or a bath tub. There are no basements here. Why, do you ask? Well, when we looked into it while we were building our house we got a number of answers--the soil is not right for it, the water table is too high, the limestone under the topsoil is too hard,etc. The real reason we found is that hardly anyone knows how to do it correctly and therefore it is prohibitively expensive. I suppose one could build an above ground bunker out of concrete, but again that is very pricey. I suppose most people figure it's cheaper to just take your chances that your house won't get hit and if it does, the insurance will cover the cost to rebuild. Okaaay. At least the weather forecasters and tornado spotters are on the ball.

So anyway, last Thursday at 3:30 a.m. we were all jerked out of a sound sleep by the tornado sirens down the street. I ran upstairs and scooped up my older son, ran down the stairs, and picked up my youngest, and we all huddled in the closet as my husband fiddled with the T.V. and radio so we find out what was going on. Fortunately, none of the homes in our neighborhood suffered any major damage, although throughout the area many trees were uprooted, and power lines knocked out due to straight-line winds of 50-70 mph. A couple of small tornadoes were later confirmed to have touched down and damaged some homes, but fortunately no one was killed (one man was seriously injured however).

I learned few good lessons about emergency preparedness:

1) Remain calm. It does no good if you and your children are shaking and screaming for dear life. Plus, if nothing happens you will feel pretty silly and your kids may want to sleep in your bed with you every night until they leave for college. Praying helps a lot here.

2) Keep everything you may need in an emergency in a handy place e.g. inside the closet where you "take cover." If a tornado is bearing down on your house, it's not a good idea to run out of your "safe room" because you forgot the toilet paper that you might need if the toilets get blown away.

3) If you happen to have a 72-hour kit (as all "good" Mormons do), it's helpful to pack the emergency radio and batteries on top so you don't have to dig through all the diapers, cans of chili, and granola bars.

Overall, we made it through the storms unscathed. We got the kids back to sleep and managed to catch a few winks ourselves before getting up for work and preschool. I feel horrible for people that actually experience a tornado. It's no fun feeling you are at the mercy of the weather or wondering why this scary thing happened to you. I'll take hurricanes any day over tornadoes. At least with hurricanes you have some warning and can pile the kids in the car and drive inland. Yay, we're going camping!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Feel Like Hell and Microsoft is the Devil

Hi ya'll! Yes, it's been a week from Hades. First, my son got sick, then I did, then the baby did, and finally that rascally rhinovirus attacked my husband (who supposedly never gets sick). Of course, when everyone's sick, who's the one that nurses everyone else back to health? Mommy! But at least I didn't have to cook much, since no one felt like eating much besides soup or chili. But I shouldn't complain. Colds are temporary beasts and just a part of being human. But I look forward to the day that I can squirt a drug up my nose at the first sign of trouble, and avoid the endless boxes of tissues and drowsy side effects of cold medicine.

But that's not all, my friends, no. We also had some minor flooding in our house due to the abundant Texas rains last week. So much vacuuming and carpet cleaning and ventilating has been done.

And to top it all off, our computer has issues. We're using Microsoft Vista (please no booing!) and sure enough, one update later and all hell has broken loose. The computer won't turn off properly, won't load Outlook or Internet Explorer right, and crashes continually. The update (SP1) that's supposed to fix all this won't install on the computer, so I'll probably have to wipe the hard drive and reinstall everything. Argh! Curse you, Microsoft!

I was hoping to do some science blogging (on fruit flies too!), but that will have to wait until I can sort out the computer problems. So in the meantime, my friends, enjoy the bizarre sideshow that is our Presidential election.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Honor Killings: When Mothers Turn Against Their Own Daughters

On the first day of 2008 in the city of Irving (just west of Dallas), two teenage sisters, Amina and Sara Said, were murdered by their own father, an Egyptian Muslim immigrant. When I first heard that the girls' father was being sought in connection with their murders and I heard his name (it's Arabic), my first thought was that it was probably an honor killing. And my next thought was, "How could that happen here in Texas?!" Now, not all honor killings are committed by Arab men, and not all cases of children being killed by their fathers are honor killings. But honor killings happen frequently in the Middle East and have started to occur more frequently in western countries among immigrants from the Middle East and other Islamic countries.

Phyllis Chesler, of Pajamas Media, has a series analyzing the phenomenon of honor killing, especially as it applies to the Said case. The first installments of the series are here, and here. Today, she addresses the role of mothers that are complicit in the honor killings of their daughter (as in the Said case) in her article, "Murderous Mothers: The Hidden Female Face of Honor Killing."

Most of us probably can't fathom a parent being either directly or indirectly involved in murdering our own children. It runs counter to natural parental love for one thing. In her article, Chesler discusses the cultural and psychological factors that may have contributed to Patricia Said's involvement in her daughters' murders. Here's an excerpt (read the whole thing):

In the Arab and Muslim world—and in “Tissie’s ” world in Dallas , daughters are nothing but “trouble.” Their chastity has to be guarded, their modesty ensured. Otherwise, they will bring shame to their entire family. Among other things, this means that no one will marry the family’s sons or the other daughters. Disobedient daughters are dangerous and expendable.

But “Tissie” lives in Dallas, Texas. Why does she behave as if she lived in the Middle East?
Some of “Tissie’s” female relatives believe that she converted to Islam. However, they are not entirely sure since she has behaved in secretive ways. They have seen (or were told about) photos of “Tissie” and Yasser in Arab dress, posing with guns and knives in exaggerated “jihadic” poses. But they are unclear about whether Yasser and his family are religious or not. Or political. Or criminal. Violent—yes. Murderously “crazy” on the subject of women—yes. Gun-loving—yes.
But some non-Arabs and non-Muslims in America also engage in these behaviors—but not necessarily in all of these behaviors simultaneously: Some own guns and participate in a macho gun culture. Some batter and stalk their wives and physically and sexually abuse their daughters. Non-Arab and non-Muslim mothers also stand by their batterers (who may have girlfriends, and who, like Yasser, may leave for extended periods of time); and, they have been known to scapegoat their daughters for having “provoked” paternal lust.

But, such parents do not usually kill their daughters. And, if they do, they are seen as monsters, not heroes. Their families often give them up. They do not shelter them. Their families testify against them. (Recently in Israel, which in many ways is a western democracy, the women of an Arab Muslim family all testified against their men after the ninth female relative had been honor murdered). Our western culture has at least criminalized wife- and daughter-battering, incest, stalking, and femicide. While we may not always be successful in preventing or prosecuting such behaviors, we know that they constitute crimes.

So what can be done to prevent such monstrous crimes? According to the friends of the Said sisters, they had been sending out calls for help, but they were only recognized after their murders. Like other cases of severe child abuse, the best way to help these children is to establish relationships of trust, to listen to them, and report if abuse is suspected. Patricia Said tried to leave her husband and take her daughters with her. Unfortunately, like many abused women, she went back to him. Ultimately, there is little we can do in cases like this except to try to be good neighbors (maybe being a little nosey wouldn't hurt!) and reach out to troubled families.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When the State Oversteps Their Bounds

I was shocked by this story from Fox News.

Treffly Coyne was out of her car for just minutes and no more than 10 yards
away.But that was long and far enough to land her in court after a police
officer spotted her sleeping 2-year-old daughter alone in the vehicle; Coyne had
taken her two older daughters to pour $8.29 in coins into a Salvation Army

Minutes later, she was under arrest — the focus of both a police
investigation and a probe by the state's child welfare agency. Now the case that
has become an Internet flash point for people who either blast police for
overstepping their authority or Coyne for putting a child in danger.

Apparently, the weather was bad and she did not want to wake her sleeping daughter. She claims she locked her car (which was parked in loading zone near the door) and kept it in view the whole time while the kids donated their money.

I mean, WTH?! We've got parents throwing their kids off of overpasses, leaving them in roasting cars in the summer, or leaving them alone in a car that bursts into flames while they go shopping for an hour, and the State of Illinois is charging this lady? Gee, I'd better be careful or I might get ARRESTED for leaving my kids in a locked car for a FEW SECONDS while I run to get a shopping cart for them two spaces over in the PARKING LOT. What's next-- ARRESTING a mom because her 3 or 4-year-old ran away from her in the grocery store when she stopped to grab the Cheerios?!

In Texas there is a law for leaving a child in a vehicle (I got this from a Texas family law blog--

Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 10 LEAVING A CHILD IN A VEHICLE.
A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a
motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is: younger
than seven years of age; and not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is
14 years of age or older. An offense under this section is a Class C

In Illinois, the statue says, "any person who leaves a child six years of age or younger, unattended in a motor vehicle for more than ten minutes has committed a Class A misdemeanor." The statute further defines "unattended" as "either not accompanied by someone fourteen years or older, or if accompanied by someone older than fourteen years the child must be within sight of that person."

This seems a little more reasonable . I doubt the mom in the story was out of the car longer than 10 minutes, but she was standing close enough to the car that I don't think the child counts as unattended. The police officer should have used some common sense. I bet the peace officer in this story had nothing better to do then wait for this mom to walk over to the front of the store, and then swoop in and look like a hero. A warning would have been sufficient. Thanks for wasting valuable tax payer money and ruining the lives of this family! Get a life, you busybody nanny-staters and try focusing on actual child abusers!

Update: If the mom was away from the car for less than 10 minutes, then according to the statue she has violated no law. She should be exonerated. I understand why police officers might be strict about something like this due to the number of children injured or killed by being left in hot cars, but they should be familiar with the revelant statutes so cases like this don't happen.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Random Thought No. 354 - Smelling Pretty

You know, I just love how everything smells pretty nowadays--from body lotion and shampoo to garbage bags and dish soap. When I go shopping it takes 5 minute just to open the lids of each product, get a whiff, and decide which I like the best.

Growing up, I remember that cleaners had 3 scents--ammonia, bleach, and Pine-sol. Lotion was either eau de baby or eau de Grandma's house. But now there are whole shops devoted to smelling pretty with scents like lime verbena, vanilla bean, and pear glace. Sigh! I love capitalism.

Daylight Saving Time is Pointless & Stupid (Or I'm So Delirious from Lack of Sleep I Have to Rant About Something)

I hate daylight saving time (DST). I mean, what is the point? Are we really fooling our bodies by messing with our clocks? My son woke up at 6 a.m. and I couldn't fall back to sleep because my mind is thinking it's really 5 a.m. and you have to get up in half an hour for church. And my body is saying, "Fat chance, lady. I ain't moving. You went to bed last night at midnight (11 p.m. pre-DST), remember?"

DST is not such a big deal for adults. I mean, what's a few days dragging your half-dead self out of bed and staring at the ceiling for an hour at night while you try to convince yourself to fall asleep sooner? But when you have small children, all hell can break loose. Now all your appointments for the next week or two have moved up an hour, but your kids' bodies will stubbornly remain on the old sleep/feeding schedule.

Take church for instance (which is a day that messes up the baby's nap/eat schedule anyway). If it starts at 9 a.m., I plan to be up at 6:30 a.m. (6 if I want to eat anything besides a stale granola left in the bottom of my purse). I've got to shower, dress, and eat before the kids get up. Then, if the kids normally get up at 7 a.m., they've got to be feed, dressed, and hustled out the door.

But when DST happens, the kids now get up at 8 a.m. and have to be fed and dressed by 8:30 to get loaded up and on our way to church. My 3-year-old is the slowest eater on the planet, and takes an hour to eat his Fruity Cheerios because he has to fish out each one singly with a minimum of milk, and then spoon up each drop of milk while talking incessantly about his Thomas train, going on the potty, wanting some juice, etc. Trying to cut breakfast short will cause an outburst of "My circles! My circles!" and an effusion of tears.

Then 10-15 minutes must be allotted to dress each child, which is like putting clothes on a couple of monkeys. My 3 year-old has to do a lap around the room after each article is put on, while my almost-mobile 7 month-old squirms, shrieks, and knocks everything off the changing table. See the problem? My only hope of being on time (no matter how early I get up) is by opening a wormhole. I suppose I could wake the kiddies an hour earlier, but I'd get two outcomes: 1) a grumpy, crying, uncooperative kid or 2) a zombie not-fully-awake-for-another-hour kid. Neither outcome is desirable for punctuality.

Supposedly, DST saves electricity by reducing the amount of electricity used in the evenings, but studies have been unclear on this (see Wikipedia for a great article on the history and controversy of DST). But it is clear that it does increase revenue for retailers, tourism, and athletics. Farmers don't like it harvesting often is best done at certain times of the day.

It turns out that DST was not proposed by Benjamin Franklin, but by some guy named William Willett in 1907. One of the reasons was that Willett wanted to play golf later into the evening during the summer. Franklin's contribution to DST, however, was only satire. According to Wikipedia, Franklin "anonymously published a letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight. This 1784 satire proposed taxing shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise." That's some funny stuff--mostly because it's absurd, but it could happen given the fondness for silly nanny state government regulations in Europe. Imagine being awakened at 5 a.m. by a cannon blast. I think that would lead to an armed rebellion in the U.S. No one messes with my beauty sleep!

In conclusion, I'd prefer that the government keeps their hands off my clock, circadian or otherwise. Moving to Arizona, which doesn't do DST, never sounded so good (if you can overlook the whole "hotter than Hades" problem).

Friday, March 07, 2008

Snow in Texas!

We've been having crazy weather here in the DFW area. So far it's snowed TWICE in the first week of March. We didn't get much the first time, but the counties north of us got 2-3 inches. This morning we awoke to about an inch of snow on the ground, but by 9 a.m. it was already melted. My son enjoyed playing in it while it lasted. Too bad we didn't have enough to build a snowman, but he did get enough for one snowball shot at Mommy.

Here's a pic of our front yard covered in snow (yes, I know this must be pretty boring for all of you that have 3 feet of snow on the ground right now, but for those of us down South it's like Christmas!).

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Texas Primary results

Things couldn't have turned out better in the not-so-super primaries on Tuesday. The Wicked Witch is still in the Democratic race against the Obamessiah, and the Huckster got crushed by John McCain. The main thing the Republicans should be worried about in November is turnout. In our precinct, my husband reported hundreds of Democrats showing up for the caucuses while only 5 Republicans (out of 33 needed) showed up to be delegates for the county Republican convention. My husband was appointed the precinct chairman so he can name more delegates if necessary. He said I could be one if I wanted and it might be interesting to attend the convention to see how the process works in Texas. But then again, it could be completely boring and tedious. Anyway, we'll see. At the very least, we'll make some new friends. But if John McCain doesn't start to generate some excitement among his base, he has no chance of beating the Democrat nominee.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Why Doesn't the Media Talk About Iraq Anymore?

Because it's mostly good news, that's why. John McCain, for all his faults as as lukewarm conservative, was right about one thing--the surge is working or has worked already. McCain staked his reputation on the success of the surge and for that, I'm willing to forgive him for his missteps on immigration and campaign finance reform.

But back to Iraq, violence has dramatically decreased and political reforms are finally starting to be put in place. I've never understood why the Democrats in D.C. have been so determined to cut and run from Iraq, except as it serves their own selfish needs of having power and proving that President Bush was wrong. I always thought that it was self-described liberals that were in favor of fighting wars to protect other people from human right abuses and genocide e.g. U.S. intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo. Based on the recent behavior of Democrats in D.C. (with very few exceptions), I can only conclude that Democrats think military intervention is a good idea only if

1) DEMOCRATS think of it and

2) intervention is NOT in the national interests of the U.S.

In my opinion, the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein were perfectly justified based on:

1) the genocide being committed against the Kurds, Shiites, and Marsh Arabs in Iraq especially the chemical attacks against the Kurds in the late 80's. That alone was reason enough for me to support the removal of Saddam--even though I was in junior high when that happened and I didn't learn about it until I was in college. As most people know, there is no statute of limitations on murder in the United States, why should genocide be any different?

2) Saddam's continued breaking of numerous resolutions passed by the U.N. as a condition of cessation of hostilities. He continued to fire on our aircraft in the no-fly zones--zones that had been set up to prevent him from going in and slaughtering Shiites and Kurds again.

3) Saddam providing material aid to known terrorists including cash payments to Palestinian suicide bombers and providing safe haven to Zarkawi , Abu Nidal, and others.

4) Saddam's pursuit of and threatened use of weapons of mass destruction. Even though it's likely that Saddam lied about the extent of his WMD capability before the world, in a post 9-11 world, I think it's effective to show the rest of the two-bit tyrants of the world what happens when you threaten the U.S. with WMD. Look how Libya fell right in line as a result of the Iraq invasion.

Fortunately, there are still some true liberals left that are genuinely interested in human rights. Michael Totten is one of them. I first began reading his blog after the invasion in Iraq in 2003 because I was curious about his pro-war position despite being a self-described liberal. Michael is a thoughtful and honest writer who now travels to the middle east and reports on political and social issues in those countries as an independent journalist. He has been to Iraq and Afghanistan numerous times and really gives an eyewitness account of the work of our military men and women. He also describes everyday life for the inhabitants in those areas affected by the War on Terror. Here's his latest post titled, "In the Slums of Fallujah."

Michael Totten isn't the only independent journalist that has picked up the slack from the mainstream media's lack of interest (beyond bombings and alleged atrocities) in Iraq. Michael Yon has been reporting from Iraq for years as an imbedded reporter. His photos from the war have become iconic, especially this one titled "Strength and Compassion" which depicts an American soldier cradling an Iraqi toddler after she was mortally wounded in a terrorist bombing.

To me, this photo is the ultimate expression of why we are in Iraq. It's a humanitarian mission to protect this fledgling democracy and her people from the terrorists that would destroy it, slaughter thousands, and use Iraq as a base of operations to spread their terror around the world. We have invested too much money, blood, and tears to abandon it now and hope for the best, as Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton would have us do. We should never forget what happened in Vietnam and Cambodia after we abandoned it--the fleeing of thousands of people, the slaughter of millions of people. Let's not turn Iraq into another Vietnam.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Why I Won't Vote For Huckabee

I don't think that people understand the antipathy that most Mormons feel toward a man like Huckabee. Too many of us, he represents all the persecution that we have suffered at the hands of fellow Christians since the founding of our church. That's not entirely fair, since he's only been around for 50 some-odd years and as far as I know he hasn't published anything condemning Mormons. But he's set himself up to be the face of anti-Mormon Christians. It didn't bother me that he was a former Southern Baptist preacher until his interview in the New York Times magazine where he said regarding Mormonism, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?" He later apologized for the comments and claimed that he asked the question out of ignorance. But that only proved that he is a liar because he knew exactly what he was doing and he revealed exactly what kind of Christian he is. A follow-up article in the New York Times addressed this issue:

The question posed by Mr. Huckabee in an article to be published Sunday in The New York Times Magazine and available at is one of the standard sensationalistic A-bombs often hurled at Mormons by their detractors, said Scott A. Gordon, president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, a group based in Redding, Calif., that defends Mormon theology.
“It’s an attack question,” Mr. Gordon said, “because it starts with a kernel of truth and shapes it into something that most Mormons wouldn’t recognize about their faith.”

"Mormons believe that the Devil and Jesus are brothers" is the classic attack used by preachers and publishers of anti-Mormon literature to incite shock and disgust in their readers. It's designed to prove that anyone that believes something so outlandish and blasphemous cannot possibly be a fellow Christian. But it is a distortion of actual LDS doctrine, which is summed up well in the same follow-up NY Times article:

In Mormon theology, God is literally the father of all beings, and all beings once existed in a “premortal” state as “spirit beings,” said Robert L. Millet a professor of religion at Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution in Provo, Utah. Jesus was God’s first-born son, and everyone who came after that, including Satan could be considered the siblings of Jesus, he said. “Latter-day Saints believe that all of us, Christ included, existed in a premortal existence, as spirits,” Mr. Millet said. “Yes, Jesus and Lucifer were in that premortal existence, together. But what we need to make very clear is that Jesus was God and there was never a time when Jesus and Lucifer were on the same plane.”To say Jesus and Satan were brothers, Mr. Gordon said, is like saying, “Do you know you’re related to Adolf Hitler because we’re all part of the same family of man?”

But whatever the truth is, there will still be some evangelicals that will still call us non-Christians according to their exclusive definition of a Christian. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ after the manner found in the Lord's Prayer, we partake of the sacrament every Sunday as outlined in the New Testament, our church's official name is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yet all of that is not sufficient for many evangelicals because we have committed the ultimate heresy in not accepting the doctrine of the Trinity and we have another book of scripture, the Book of Mormon. So they deny us the title of Christian and slander us with the title of "cult."

Mike Huckabee has become the face of this anti-Mormon movement because he has assumed the mantle of Christian Leader and has not denounced the anti-Mormon bigotry that infuses his campaign and his followers. Plus,he has refused to release any recording of his sermons. Whether these recording would reveal any anti-Mormon rhetoric or just the usual pro-marriage, pro-family, anti-gay stuff, I don't know. I guess we'll never know. But I've heard plenty from his followers every day on talk radio and read their blog comments. Even after Mitt Romney had dropped out, Huck and his followers continued to attack him and attack Mormonism. Huck was a little more cautious about making anti-Mormon remarks, but his supports made no such distinction.

Over the years, I've heard many of these individuals claim that they are doing this out of love, out of concern for out souls, and that may be true for a few people. But I've heard the venom dripping in their voices, seen the hate in their faces as they picketed Temple Square, and read the titles of their anti-Mormons screeds that they sell for a profit, and I don't believe it. I have always believed that all people should be allowed to worship God according to their conscience (as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others) and it bothers me that some people would not vote for someone based purely on their religiously beliefs. I believe that was one of the difficulties Mitt Romney had in his campaign. He did much better than I expected, which shows that the majority of Americans are fair-minded people. But in places like California, where the races were close, was the anti-Mormon feeling enough to tilt the outcome? I don't know.

I just know that unless Mike Huckabee comes out and openly condemns this kind of bigotry and apologizes on behalf of himself and his campaign, I could never vote for him. So, you go McCain! Whatever he may feel personally about Mormons, at least he knows better than to run on anti-Mormon bigotry since a large percentage of his constituents in AZ are LDS.

Texas Primaries 2008

Things are heating up in the Lonestar state as not-so super Tuesday rolls around next week. My husband and I voted early last week and we made it a family affair. I think my husband decided to help me out with the boys because he figured I'd never get around to it otherwise. So we went and voted before he went to work. There was no one there except for us at the polls. I love early voting!

I'm not saying who I voted for, but I don't mind giving my opinion on the candidates.

First the Dems:

Hillary Clinton - I affectionately call her Shrillary because every time she opens her mouth she sounds like a banshee. Now, if she was conservative like Ann Coulter, I could overlook that. However, since she's slightly to the left of Castro (especially on healthcare) listening to her is like nails on a chalkboard. All I hear is, "Rawk! Healthcare! Rawk! Evil corporations! Rawk! Middle class! Rawk!"

Barack Obama - Otherwise known as "His Holiness," Barack is definitely easier on the ears (and eyes) than Hillary. But most of the stuff that comes out of his mouth is pandering, pie-in-the-sky hippy speak. So when he talks, all I hear is "Hope! Change! Save the world! Make love not war! etc. etc." All style and no substance or as Hillary likes to say when she's in Texas talking to us rednecks, "All hat and no cattle."

And the Republicans:

John McCain - After enduring all those years as a POW and two decades in government, McCain is as tough as nails and takes crap from no one. I feel confident that he'd make a great wartime commander-in-chief. But it is really galling to be stuck with him as the Republican candidate after eight years of the ol' Maverick constantly thumbing his nose at conservatives, and stabbing the GOP in the back. And if he says, "My friends," one more time in that insincere voice, I'm going to puke!

Mike Huckabee - Well, what can I say about the Huckster? He's slick and somehow he's convinced a lot of people that he's still a contender. I don't think he's that funny and I don't think he's that conservative or that Christian for that matter (more about that later). I think he'll be out after he loses Texas and Ohio to McCain. Huck has admitted that he's not too good at math, and that's pretty obvious by his refusal to drop out. I'm glad that I won't have to decide between him and the Democrat nominee.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm Back!

Good morning, Ladies and Gents!

It's been almost a year since I last posted and a lot has happened. The most notable event being the birth of my son Joshua on July 25th. Everything went smoothly and he was perfectly healthy. He's now 7 months old and is finally sleeping through the night. So now that things have calmed down and I have more time and energy to devote to other things besides baby duty, I figure I might as well blog. My cousin also inspired me by sending me a link to her blog. She's got 4 kids and she blogs, so what's my excuse?

Anyway, I've been keeping up on the news and political commentary when I can--mostly lurking on my favorite sites, so why not blog a little about my life and the upcoming presidential elections? During the last race, I was pregnant and busy finishing up my thesis, so I didn't even have time to gloat when GWB beat FrankenKerry.

Sadly, my man Mitt Romney dropped out of the Republican primaries before I could even vote for him in the Texas primaries. So I'm forced to support John McCain (affectionately known as Juan down here in Texas), because supporting a Democrat would be suicidal. More about politics later.

Back to my point--I plan to post at least every other day on such topics as science, politics, child-rearing, pop culture, religion, and whatever else strikes my fancy. As always, feel free to comment or drop me a line.