sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

July 19, 2011

Slow Painful Death or Something

Filed under: blogging, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:25 pm

John Hawkins predicts The Slow, Painful Coming Death of the Independent Conservative Blogosphere.  (Via Zilla.)  Among the reasons for the death is:

4) The market has also become much more professionalized. When I got started, back in 2001, a lone blogger who did 3-4 posts a day could build an audience. Unless your name is Ann Coulter, you probably couldn’t make that strategy work today.

Oh.  Can you make it with 2-3 posts a week?  Because if you also happened to be a mom, how can you do more?  Right now, for instance, I’m still mopping up after our early July vacation — making photo books for grandparents, etc.

keep calm amd carry on broken

DH dropped our frying pan on my coffee mug. Photoshop is a bit patchy... Why did I even bother?

On the other hand, if you are funemployed…  On the third hand, I find it difficult to follow bloggers who post more than once a day.  I do have quite a few who do on my roll, and I follow them all, as they probably know.

On a more serious note, Walter Russell Mead writes a great essay on anti-Semitism (via Instapundit), and boy do anti-Semites show up in comments!  What do they do all day, google “anti-Semitism”?  Somebody out there has a lot of time and the inclination to call themselves conservative.

July 16, 2011

The Ruins of California Education

Filed under: education — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:20 pm

Take us out of our misery: hand the state over to Mexico.  At City Journal California (via Instapundit) Heather McDonald writes about PC narcissism destroying UC San Diego:

UC San Diego is adding diversity fat even as it snuffs out substantive academic programs. In March, the Academic Senate decided that the school would no longer offer a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering; it also eliminated a master’s program in comparative literature and courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature. At the same time, the body mandated a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation. The cultivation of “a student’s understanding of her or his identity,” as the diversity requirement proposal put it, would focus on “African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, or other groups” through the “framework” of “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class or age.” Training computer scientists to compete with the growing technical prowess of China and India, apparently, can wait. More pressing is guaranteeing that students graduate from UCSD having fully explored their “identity.” Why study Cervantes, Voltaire, or Goethe when you can contemplate yourself? “Diversity,” it turns out, is simply a code word for narcissism.

UC San Diego just lost a trio of prestigious cancer researchers to Rice University. Rice had offered them 40 percent pay raises over their total compensation packages, which at UCSD ranged from $187,000 to $330,000 a year. They take with them many times that amount in government grants.

Don’t you worry, though.  We will not be turning out cancer researchers and electrical engineers because students entering the University are utterly unprepared for it.  Though California public schools are the worst in the union, they are perfecting the art of narcissism.  They now will be required to waste instruction time on “LGBT history”:

Public schools in California will be required to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans starting Jan. 1 after Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a controversial bill to add the topic to the social sciences curriculum.

Oh, so it’s social sciences not history.  What a relief!  Because I know French history or Chinese history, but what’s LGBT history?  The “T” part of the acronym doesn’t have much history to speak of.  And yes, there were tons and tons of outstanding individuals, like Tchaikovsky, for instance (not an American, but the first name that popped up into my head), who were homosexual.  Is it necessary for a student to know his sexual orientation to understand his music?  The man was tormented, and his sexuality was one of the reasons.  But given the limitations of the public school classroom and the maturity of California minors, I don’t think intimate details merit a mention.  In fact, students are better served when taught the fundamentals of counterpoint theory.  Or Russian history.  I suspect many prominent historical figures who happened to be attracted to individuals of the same sex wouldn’t want American students going through their laundry.  Out of respect to Tchaikovsky’s genius (and the genius of others like him) lets not discuss the sexuality of famous people with surly kids.

Tchaikovsky. Portrait by Kuznetsov, 1983.

“What the bill calls for is for the contributions of LGBT people to be included,” [Sen. Mark] Leno [D-San Francisco] said, adding, “We wrote it broadly for a reason. We would be subject to more criticism than we’ve already been getting if we were more dictatorial.” [Sounds sketchy, -- ed.]

It sounds like Leno is alleging that important homosexuals were exuded from history books solely because of their sexual orientation, so I’d like to know who exactly he has in his mind.  If the problem here is that sexual orientation was omitted from textbooks, then hooray to the textbooks.

Leno said the mandates apply broadly, though, telling reporters it would affect kindergarten through high school curriculum, “and, of course, in an age-appropriate way.”

Uh, kindergarten!  In my hometown we already have mandatory “anti-bullying” classes for elementary school kids.  There is no evidence that early sex ed makes for safer schools.  If anything, it might accomplish the opposite.  The extent of anti-gay bullying problem is another issue.  In our school district reported instances of bullying on the bases of alleged sexual orientation were few; most of the altercations were of the boys against girls kind.  So it appears that the problem at hand is not bullying, but parents, not state, teaching kids about sex.

But wait, I think we found a gay man not mentioned in texbooks:

Proponents have cited slain San Francisco SupervisorHarvey Milk as a person with historical significance, along with events such as the Stonewall Riots in New York City that helped launch the LGBT rights movement as examples of topics that could be taught.

Stonewall riots should be mentioned — in a broader context of social changes that took place in American society in the 1960s and 70s.  In fact, if the sexual revolution was good for anything, it absolved gay people from the necessity of leading double lives.  Harvey Milk, though?

“History should be honest,” Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement.

OK, lets be honest.  Harvey Milk was a small time politico and a buddy of mass murderer Jim Jones.  Milk is canonized because he himself happened to be murdered, not because of any great achievement of his.  Perhaps Jerry Brown doesn’t object to Milk being too chummy with Jim Jones; after all, the twice CA Governor made the same choice of friendship:

CA Governor Brown

That's Jim Jones with Jerry "History Should Be Honest" Brown.

When Brown’s hands should be plenty busy reducing spending, he still finds time to wage his little culture wars.  But our sorry fiscal situation stands in the way of his social agenda:

Textbooks now must include information on the role of LGBT Americans, as well as Americans with disabilities, though California’s budget crisis has delayed the purchasing of new books until at least 2015. [Emphasis mine, -- ed.]

Turns out, if California can’t take care of its finances, the state loses its influence.  A living cautionary tale, we are.
Surprisingly, sfgate readers are not digging the proposed curriculum.  About 3/4 of the people responding to the unscientific reader poll say that the LGBT studies in public schools are “Bad, more political meddling with curriculum”.  Reader comments are telling:
Chinese Student: “I know Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics”California Student: “I know Harvey Milk”Chinese Student: “That’s great, now can I get some fries and extra mustard with that order?”
Or:
While this is a very positive step forward, I have to wonder, when are we going to stop putting labels on people and recognize the person and the merit of their contribution. What a person achieves is not based on their gender, religious belief or sexual identify but on them as a human being and their character.
Or:
There is gonna be blowback from this in the future, and it is gonna be some ugly blowback. There are a lot of people who really really really don’t want nor need their kids to learn this narrow and limitedly relevant subject above other things they think are far more important and practical for children to learn. This is just a political gift to the LGBT voting block, a gift of the minds of other people’s children.This will play into every half-baked “gay indoctrination” conspiracy theory that every came out of the woodwork. Good job CA. Way to live up to the worst and most paranoid illusions about your state.

July 15, 2011

Mila Kunis: A Nice Girl from Chernivtsi?

Filed under: society — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:45 pm

Mila Kunis endeared herself to at least some conservatives with her comment on casual sex:

GQ: Your new movie is called Friends with Benefits. Ever been in one of those relationships?

Mila Kunis: Oy. I haven’t, but I can give you my stance on it: It’s like communism—good in theory, in execution it fails. Friends of mine have done it, and it never ends well. Why do people put themselves through that torture?

David Swindle further quipped:

And this is Kunis’s SECOND thing she’s done this week to get on conservatives’ good side. Earlier she accepted an invitation to the Marines Ball.

Now she comes out both against promiscuity AND communism in one sentence.

What’s she going to do next? Come out as a Tea Partier?

Mila Kunis hot

Is that what brings traffic on a Friday?

Since Mila Kunis is Russian Jewish, who knows?  She was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine (small town, never been there) and came to the United States at age seven.  Old enough to remember the Soviet Union in its final days.  The bit about communism is probably something she heard from her family.  If she’s on the hawkish side, that’s probably from her family too.

Mila Kunis hot

Beautiful eyes...

July 14, 2011

It’s San Francisco: What Are We Banning Now?

Filed under: Bay Area politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:32 pm

Birthday parties:

The ballot measure is the brainchild of Supervisor John Avalos, a mayoral candidate. Blasting the measure is Michela Alioto-Pier, another mayoral candidate, and Rec and Park Spokeswoman Sarah Ballard, a former legislative aide for Alioto-Pier.

Avalos’s ballot measure halts Rec and Park from imposing new fees to use park facilities, and states that “all recreation facilities, including but not limited to clubhouses, not leased on the effective date of this measure, shall not be leased to private entities but shall remain open and accessibility to the public,” according to the San Francisco Examiner. The idea is that no more private entities would be allowed to lease out public space, and that existing public space would be kept public.

But the wording is too vague, and makes the ballot measure go too far, according to Ballard. “Our concern is it will impact birthday parties, picnic permits, weddings and beloved civic events like gay pride and Chinese New Year,” she told The Examiner. Her former boss Alioto-Pier also issued an email blast attacking the measure.

SF politicos are more than happy to turn the conversation to their favorite topic, demanding money:

Avalos said the larger picture is that San Francisco is not spending enough on essential departments such as Rec and Park.

“The department impacts so many people in San Francisco,” Avalos said. “The essential flaw is they need much more general fund support so Rec and Park doesn’t have to go through plans of privatization.”

According to Ballard, Rec and Park was forced to lay off 50 employees last fiscal year in order to bridge part of the $45 million they’ve had to cut from the department budget over the last six years.

A local liberal news outlet concludes the article with this observation:

What’s definite is that in San Francisco politics, nothing is off-limits from being politicized. Not even parties in the park.

That’s an understatement.  It’s not that personal is political, which is bad enough, but that personal is shrinking.  Turns out celebrating a birthday on public property (not to mention erecting a cross) is problematic.  On display here is the logical outcome of the “personal is political”: unchecked expansion of government.  “Personal is political” exists to guide government intervention, and once government is invited to step in, it will find more areas where to grow.

That anyone still celebrates birthdays in San Francisco is a welcome news, of course, because the City is notoriously not child-friendly.

***

Blogging was light this week.  First, my children came down with sicknesses.  Next, my monitor broke, and I’m still waiting for the new one.  I’m using DH’s laptop in the meantime, and I can’t stand the feel of the keyboard.  In fact, the only thing I can think of as I type, is how odd it feels.  Plus, I need some of the materials saved on my desktop for my posts.  Finally, we have a plumbing problem caused by street pipes.  I called a private guy who cleaned out the main pipe on our house and did tests on street pipes.  The city would not allow us use private contractors for the street, though we have to pay ourselves.  The city plumbers came over and refused to use “some private guys'” video test of the pipes, so they’ll be back tomorrow to do their own testing.

July 10, 2011

Back from La-La Land!

Filed under: society, whatever — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 12:06 pm

Just back from LA and out of the loop.  I’ve heard the baby-killer got off and Obamster gave a disposable speech, but other than that I have no idea what’s going on.

More specifically, I’m back from the San Fernando Valley, one of those quintessential American places where 80s high school flicks were filmed, and where DH happened to go to a high school in the 80s.  I suppose it was a “the end of history” kind of place.  White Jews and Christians got along swimmingly, and all skinheads were Mexican.  We were at a grocery store when a middle age woman exclaimed “Oh my god, I’m in a wrong line!”  DH says it’s a little too Valley even for the Valley.

The next day I went shopping with my sisters-in-law.  I found (don’t laugh) three deeply discounted cardigans and bought them all.  I never find good buys like that up north, probably because we actually need sweaters here.  The sales girl, a Persian, by the looks of her, rang me up and then, for some reason, started counting on her fingers.

“We women count on our fingers, and then the men roll their eyes at us,” she explained.  And who says immigrants don’t assimilate?

Next I went to meet a high school friend of mine at an modified Israeli restaurant in Encino called Cafe Aroma.  Modified because they have some American and Mexican fares.  They serve very excellent lemonanas, or lemonade blended with what seems to be an equal amount of mint leaves.  My friend, who spent nearly two decades in Israel, was chatting with a girlfriend when I arrived.  She had on her self two sell phones and a lap top.  Her friend left and another one stopped by for a glass of lemonana and a chat.  She had the same last name as my maiden name.  For some reason it happens a lot to us Jews.

Men at Aroma wore quite hunky.  Younger women were tanned to perfection and wore tight-fitting black outfits.  The grandma contingent often spotted designer imitation vintage dresses.  They wore this style in their youth, so no irony there.  I would be out of place in my neutral Anthropology knits if not for Israeli jewelry that I thought of wearing at the last moment.  Not that anyone cared. It wasn’t any kind of hipster hangout, but a multi-generational and very easy-going kind of place.  Great lunch food.

A glass of Riesling can be refreshing on a hot day, but Cafe Aroma doesn’t appear to have a liquor license.  We Jews don’t drink that much, and that includes Russian Jews and Jewish-related Russians.  Russian Jews feel like chastising themselves from time to time: “Oh no, we come to Israel and ruin the country!  There is so much alcoholism there now!”  Oh, but we’ve been to a Russian club in Israel.  Some Russian band was playing, and the singer was standing on one leg pretending to be a mushroom.  The audience sat there sipping vodka.  I’m sure some Russians in Israel do get arrested for drunk driving, and there are Jews everywhere who drink more then average, but all in all we are not a hard drinking bunch.  During that Israeli trip of ours Israeli soccer team was playing the Irish team.  And so a bunch of Irish soccer fans flew in to save the day.

I told my girlfriend that the place is interesting from a cultural anthropology perspective, to which she responded: “Oh, LA!  We call it La-La Land in Israel.  There is a show about LA on Israeli TV called La-La-Land .”  I can see why she thinks the term La-La Land is an Israeli invention: it just sounds Hebrewesque.  But no, I’m pretty sure it’s American, and I wasn’t talking about LA in general, but about the Israeli cafe.  I suppose it’s an easy fit, though.  Grater LA looks and feels very Jewish.

We had a fabulous BBQ on the 4th; the kids played with their many cousins.  Once it got dark we ended up going up and down the Ronald Reagan freeway (118) to watch fireworks from my sister-in-law’s balcony.  Other fireworks were going off as we were driving.  Some of the fireworks we saw from the balcony were happy faces, which was a bit disturbing.  I was concerned that they would do pacifism signs too, but to my relief they didn’t.

We went to parent hell commonly known as Disneyland on Wednesday.  We played “Mickey Mouse” by the Sparks as we were approaching Anaheim.

DH likes to describe them as a very rooted SoCal band.  We were tempted to tune into Rush on the way there, but given that we had a car-full of cousins who, given their age had no interest in talk radio, we didn’t.

It was hot and humid, and loud music was everywhere, but Yelena had fun. She claims that she liked Dumbo and Tea Cups the most, but she obviously enjoyed It’s a Small World more.  At the end of the day we bought her a princess baby doll ripe for plastic surgery jokes.

disney doll

Baby Aurora's face is about to fall off.

Muslim women walked around in full headgear.  One of them was wearing a black robe.  I wonder how often they overheat.  For fairness sake I have to mention a group of nuns, most of them in black, visiting Disneyland.  They displayed more skin than the Muslimas, though, and had no kids to watch.

Our last night in the Valley we met up with a high school friend of DH’s.  We went to bar that closed early, and then wanted to buy some beer at a liquor store.  It was 12 am, but most liquor stores were closed.

“The Valley is changing,” our friend explained.

It certainly is.  It’s visibly not racially homogenous, with all sorts of “brown” people, like Chinese, Mexicans, Filipinos shopping at Von’s.  Women in Muslims garb are not unusual.  I hope they won’t end up erecting a separation barrier between Northridge and Encino.  History doesn’t end.

We drove back Friday.  We were relived to turn off the AC and open the windows as we approached the Bay Area.  That evening I wore one of my new cardigans.  That’s what I call climate change!

July 3, 2011

Independece Twirl

Filed under: parenting, politics, society — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 7:50 am

Who wants to celebrate the 4th of July in the Bay Area?  We are going to visit in-laws in LA.  This is Yelena’s outfit:

We will miss our town’s Independence Day parade, though, which was a bit of a tradition for us.  Yes, believe it or not we hold an Independence day parade here.  It usually features Code Pink, believe it or not.  First time we saw them at a parade, they were carrying giant posters of “peacemakers,” a category that apparently includes Rachel Corry.  We screamed “Yom chai Israel” at them.  This year Code Pink not doing the parade for some reason.  Maybe they figured that 4th of July is for Republicans and decided to drop the pretense.

We will be away all week, going to Disneyland, too.  I don’t plan on blogging, but I might get the shakes.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!

July 2, 2011

The Deportable DSK Accuser

Filed under: politics, society — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 1:58 pm

Via Megan McArdle via Instapundit, a letter from Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s prosecutor:

In an application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal dated December 30, 2004, the complainant provided the United States Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service with factual information about herself, her background and her experiences in her home country of Guinea. This information was in the form of a written statement attached to her application, and was submitted as a basis for her request for asylum. In her application, she certified under penalty of perjury that her written statement was true.

In substance, the complainant’s statement claimed that she and her husband had been persecuted and harassed by the dictatorial regime that was then in power in Guinea. Among other things, the complainant stated that the home she shared with her husband was destroyed by police and soldiers acting on behalf of the regime, and she and her husband were beaten by them. When her husband attempted to return to what was left of their home the next day, she stated that he was again beaten, arrested and imprisoned by police and soldiers. She stated that she also was beaten when she attempted to come to her husband’s aid. In her statement, she attributed the beatings to the couple’s opposition to the regime. She stated that during her husband’s incarceration, he was tortured, deprived of medical treatment, and eventually died as a result of his maltreatment. Following his death, according to her, she began to denounce the regime and finally fled the country in fear of her life, entering the United States in January 2004 to seek refuge (she has told prosecutors that she used a fraudulent visa). She repeated these facts orally during the course of her asylum application process.

In interviews in connection with the investigation of this case, the complainant admitted that the above factual information, which she provided in connection with her asylum application, was false. She stated that she fabricated the statement with the assistance of a male who provided her with a cassette recording of the facts contained in the statement that she eventually submitted. She memorized these facts by listening to the recording repeatedly. In several interviews with prosecutors, she reiterated these falsehoods when questioned about her history and background, and stated that she did so in order to remain consistent with the statement that she had submitted as part of her application.

Additionally, in two separate interviews with assistant district attorneys assigned to the case, the complainant stated that she had been the victim of a gang rape in the past in her native country and provided details of the attack. During both of these interviews, the victim cried and appeared to be markedly distraught when recounting the incident. In subsequent interviews, she admitted that the gang rape had never occurred. Instead, she stated that she had lied about its occurrence and fabricated the details, and that this false incident was part of the narrative that she had been directed to memorize as part of her asylum application process. Presently, the complainant states that she would testify that she was raped in the past in her native country but in an incident different than the one that she described during initial interviews.

Lying to a DHS officer makes her deportable, or at least it would have made her deportable last time I checked, which was 5 years ago.  I doubt the Congress changed the laws re immigration perjury in the meantime.  I get the impression that she is currently not in deportation proceedings, though she might have been in the past.   I suppose her defense is that she had bad advice, but it doesn’t change the fact that she lied.  It’s not like people don’t find themselves in possession of one-way ticket to Saint Petersburg under similar circumstances.

The case against DSK is falling apart now, which is not to say that the maid wasn’t raped or that DSK is not a pervert or that his wife is not sorry or that the French are not insane to trust their country to this character.  Still, it’s pretty brazen to level accusations against a man that prominent and draw international attention to your shadiness when you might just get kicked out of the country.  Then again, maybe she has good reason to believe that nothing will get her kicked out.

DSK wife

Anne Sinclair looks happy. Wanna trade places with her?

Another bit about the accuser:

The hotel maid, a West African immigrant, has occupied the fourth-floor High Bridge pad with her 15-year-old daughter since January — and before that, lived in another Bronx apartment set aside by Harlem Community AIDS United strictly for adults with the virus and their families.

The Post has not been able to ascertain whether the maid, 32, has HIV/AIDS because of medical confidentiality laws.

In good ‘ol days, HIV+ status was grounds to deny admission into the US.  Twenty plus years ago my whole family was tested before we were admitted.  I believe the government still requires this along with some infectious diseases tests, but some individuals were granted asylum because of their HIV status.  In any event, the maid might be deportable because of her alleged HIV status.

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