sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

November 28, 2011

Why Have Kids If Not to Spend Time With Them?

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:03 pm

Nancy Pelosi hopes to regain Speakership campaigning on federal childcare (via Maggie’s Notebook).  I suppose each princess is entitled to a wet nurse of two:

Last week, the California congresswoman hit five cities in five days, barnstorming for money to try to win the 25 more seats it would take to regain control. And if that happens — or when, according to her — at the top of her to-do list, she says, will be “doing for child care what we did for health-care reform” — pushing comprehensive change.

There’s a bit of symmetry to that: Amid allegations that he has been disrespectful to women, Cain refers to the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history as a princess. And when Pelosi takes a shot based on gender, she’s not afraid to mention that next on her agenda is the mother of all women’s issues: child care. Under fire for health-care legislation that conservatives consider a big-government power grab, she’s happy to promise more of the same.

Of the need for child-care legislation, she says, “I could never get a babysitter — have five kids in six years and no one wants to come to your house. . . . And everywhere I go, women say the same thing” about how hard it is to find the kind of reliable care that would make their family lives calmer and work lives more productive. When it comes to “unleashing women” in a way that would boost the economy, she says, “this is a missing link.”

Congress did pass such a bill, in 1971, but President Richard M. Nixon vetoed it because he thought it would undermine families and force them to put children in government-run centers.

“One of the great pieces of unfinished business is high-quality child care; I wonder why we just can’t do that,’’ Pelosi said. Her spokesman Drew Hammill said later that she doesn’t have a specific child-care proposal at the ready; that’s what the legislative process is for. But the Nixon-era legislation of which she spoke approvingly subsidized child care for low-income parents and was available to anyone who wanted to pay for it. “She sees this as the next big problem to tackle,’’ Hammill said.

Before I say anything else, let me point out that 5 children in 6 years is not recommended.

In the past decades, middle class parents tried to build a better and smarter baby.  Quite a few  early childhood education gimmicks came to pass — baby flashcards, red white and black mobiles, Mozart for your gestating baby Einstein.  Experts, however, warned that while the activities are not known to have any positive long-term effect, some can backfire.  What babies and toddlers need is one-on-one attention that the great majority of mothers seems to be hardwired to give: lots of hugs and motheresse.

One of my favorite books on the topic is The Myth of the First Three Years by neuropsychiatrist John T. Bruer.  Bruer explained that contrary to popular misconception, early childhood education does not predetermine future intellectual achievement.  Bruer also showed that politicians on both sides of the isle like to play into these popular misconceptions and legislate all sorts of interventions from mandating Mozart tapes in hospital nurseries to Head Start.

the myth of the first three years

These policies are not based in science and are not justified by follow up research.  Notoriously Head Start doesn’t yield substantial long term gains.  The reason the federal government should not be involved in daycare is because centralized nurture factories will be affected not by the needs of children but by what is politically expedient.

I’m certain that federal daycare would put lots of giddy thoughts into the tots’ brains — how we all need to love each other and yada-yada-yada.  In the spirit of multiculturalism they’d teach kids to be bi-lingual in Spanish.  Unfortunately, our other languages are Russian and Hebrew, and I prefer to start them in infancy and keep up in pre-school years.  It’s up to me and my synagogue, not the federal government, to pass our heritage to the kids.  Since I am the one ultimately responsible for my children’s moral and intellectual development, I’d like the choice to teach them myself and, if needed, I’d like to pick a private pre-school of my choosing too.

Speaking of which, my oldest attends pre-school.  Part time daycare around San Francisco starts at about $250 a month, which doesn’t feel too terribly burdensome.  And sure it would be nice to have that very same daycare center provide the very same services free, but as any libertarian (or is it feminist?) knows, there is no such  thing as a free lunch, even if it’s served by a loving teacher.  It’s possible that if federal government takes over pre-schools, the quality of daycare will deteriorate.  Federal daycare might become the only option for the overtaxed families trying to make ends meet, and this situation is still preferable to passing the nursery bill to the tots.

I can see Dr. Laura shaking her head at the idea of federal pre-schools.  She is not alone.  According to a 2003 Pew poll, 72% of Americans agreed with the statement that too many children are being raised in daycare centers.  This number rose slightly since Pew started asking the question in 1987.  As I mentioned earlier, mothers in my liberal neck of the woods either stay home or wish they could.  A few days ago, an occupy troll stopped and made a fabulous comment that “[Occupy kids] are our future while yours are at a day care shooting people on video games.”  I don’t know what demographic is expected to lend support for Mrs. Pelosi’s proposal.

A better solution for working families is a strong economy where any father can find employment enabling his wife to spend time with young children.  2012 is promising to be an interesting election, mommy wars-wise.

November 22, 2011

On a Lighter Note

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:51 pm

I thought I should leave for Thanksgiving on a lighter note.  This round up of #OWS jokes (h/t Finding Ponies) is not related to the celebration of American food and good fortune.

A late college professor of mine used to say that light bulb jokes about political power.  An old school Freudian, he thought that we subconsciously equate the two because light bulbs require electric power to operate.  #OWS has no power in the jokes submitted by the NRO readers:

How many OWS protesters does it take to change a light bulb?

The question is irrelevant: none of them can agree on what “change” means and they don’t believe in electric lighting anyway.

OWS is way too sustainable to worry about light bulbs. Unfortunately, the obvious alternative light source for our campers has died thanks to the switch from applause to “up twinkles.”

OWS protestors don’t *change* lightbulbs. They just sit around *hoping* someone else will. [This one is not unlike an old Jewish mother joke "I'll just sit here in a dark". -- ed.]

How many OWS protestors does it take to change a lightbulb? None, they pay the Unions to do it for them.

My blogging buddy Jim Fister of Finding Ponies posted the last one along with a Tea Party light bulb joke:

How many Tea Partiers does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but only after he says the pledge and makes the secret trek to his stash of incandescents.

That’s the power of one.

Anywho, happy Thanksgiving my friends!

November 21, 2011

Can Freedom of Speech Be Evil?

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 1:32 pm

If we redefine it enough.

The First Amendment protects the freedom of expression, but what is freedom of expression?  Is it the ability to have one’s opinions’ stated without the fear of prosecution or an ability to frame one’s thoughts and feelings in any form desired?

#Occupy Boston obtained a temporary restraining order against possible removal on First Amendment grounds.  (Via Instapundit.)  I’m not a lawyer, and, frankly, I’m intimidated by the legal talk.  I understand there is a long history of American jurisprudence separating speech from criminality, but, the Boston court is not so sure, and the supporters of OWS can be quite adamant too.  Plus, occupiers are… err… exploring “alternative forms of protest”.  If camping out in the middle of a large city is constitutionally protected speech because that’s how the occupiers fancied to express themselves, then why not moving into the residences of the 1%?  After all, they are already taking over real estate.

#Occupy’s real life assaults on personal property are well-known.  For instance, they recently decided to squat in a vacant school building in DC.  And in Oakland, the occupiers blocked the access to the port and several banks — all to make a statement.  If said protesters move to redistribute the wealth stored in the bank they vandalized, that would be pretty persuasive.

R.S. McCain makes a point that disrespect for personal property has consequences.  A young lady found herself assaulted by a fellow occupier, and Mr. McCain comments:

Celebrations of sociopathic tendencies — and demonizing wealth is sociopathic — tend to attract maladjusted deviants[.]

A crime against property is a crime against an individual.

It can get worse, theoretically at least, if one is interested in articulating his view of the world by murdering an old lady and her sister.  Sure that was fiction, but lefties are known to name their terror groups after Dostoyevsky’s fiction, and offing, say, an mini-van driving suburban mother of 5 is a pretty pervasive argument in favor of green living.

Raskolnikov

Add a knit hat with ear flaps for a perfect #Occupy look.

Gutter Marxists do not feel themselves bound by the ordinary sense of morality.  Armed by hand-me-down Communist theory, they feel free to do as they wilt — because they are the representatives of the 99%.  Lenin felt that dictatorship of the proletariat (and its vanguard, the Communist party) was necessary to nurture socialism and unleashed the reign of terror.  It’s not going to happen here, but the occupiers obviously feel themselves above the law.

And why not?  If any commercial transaction and possibly non-transaction is interstate commerce (h/t DH), then any action is freedom of speech.

November 19, 2011

Does Oakland Deserve to Be Occupied?

Filed under: Bay Area politics, politics — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:41 am

When I graduated from college in the late 90s, I moved to downtown Oakland.  A few suburban expatriate posers I knew back then gushed that Oakland had culture.

Next to my apartment building stood a halfway house, and residents loitered at the entrance 24/7.  The neighborhood was a bit sketchy, but, I figured, they didn’t want trouble.  Plus, a receptionist sat in the lobby, so it felt safe.  Across the street was a ghastly one-story building housing a sex shop.  A middle age man who looked like he walked out of a John Waters film was doing the sales.

Shortly before I moved in, the building manager kicked out the drug dealers, which was not an easy undertaking in the tenant rights-crazed Oakland.  My studio, converted from a 19th century hotel room, certainly had character.  The 14th and Broadway BART station was a few blocks away, and so were Transbay buses and the 51A that back then went all the way to UC Berkeley where I still had a job.  So it was convenient, and the rent was cheap.

Occupy Oakland general strike

16th (?) and Broadway. Oakland occupiers set fires during the "general strike" #Occupy riots November 3, 2011.

Papers were sold on the corner near the BART station.  Either a group of white nerds were peddling the Socialist Worker or several black gentlemen hung out with The Final Call, the Nation of Islam paper.  From what I understand, The Final Call was not always available to whites.  One of the gentlemen ran a little second hand shop a block away.  He had some nice vintage coats, but a large portrait of Malcolm X adorned the wall, so I was weirded out.

There was yet another vintage clothing shop in the neighborhood.  The owner was an African immigrant with blood-shot eyes.  He told me that Jewish people and the Illuminati ran the world.  Then he quickly acknowledged that when he was a crackhead living on the streets of New York, a Jewish social worker saved him.  So now he’s forever indebted to the Jewish people.

I wasn’t too impressed with the local coffee shops.  There was one a few blocks down, in a building housing some sort of an arts center.  I went there once and saw a fat fellow in an IWW logo cap talking to his buddies.  I usually got my coffee at a deli owned by an elderly West Bank Christian couple.  Their daughter lived in New York, married to a Jewish man, who, they said, was a great husband.  They were really nice people, but the coffee sucked.

After a while a few new restaurants opened up, and hipster bars, too.  One night I when I walked to Ruby Room, a nearby hipster bar, two cops in a car offered to escort me; they were worried for my safety.  That’s back when Oakland had a strong police force.

Jerry Brown was the Mayor then.  In his mayoral reincarnation Brown was a gentrifying, tough on crime guy who also went to raves — a kind of Democrat answer to Rudy Giuliani.  But Brown’s mayorship ended, a bunch of gangsters completed their terms in prisons and returned to the streets, and, more recently, in an attempt to deal with budget shortfalls, the police force was downsized.  The city adopted instant ranked choice voting, and the woman few voters liked was elected the Mayor.

Ever since I moved there, the big idea in Oakland has been civic pride.  I always found the idea odd.  Repeating ten thousand times that you love your city won’t change the reality.  If every time somebody bought an Oakland pride t-shirt the city got a cop, Oakland would be a decent town.

oakland pride

An oak tree, Oakland's coat of arms, is popular among the black and the white city residents of all ages. Not so much with Asians and Hispanics.

Oakland never felt like home, was never that much fun, and I consider it a huge personal failure that I didn’t move out of that 14th and Broadway studio on my own.  I got stuck there because of rent control, and only left to share an abode with my now husband whose apartment was a 15-minute walk away.  A half a block from it was a vacant trolley car station where we once shot a video for his band.  The Whole Foods that replaced that station recently became world-famous when anarchists vandalized it in the course of the recent #Occupy riots.

Occupy Oakland general strike

Anarchists tearing down the Whole Foods fence.

And no, not all neighborhoods in Oakland are like that; Oakland has some posh enclaves, particularly in somewhat isolated Oakland Hills.  But think who lives there — the very people who coddle racists and communists!  Still creepy.

The Bay Area is suspicious of new ideas, and the people who sent Barbara Lee to Congress would never elect a Republican Mayor, like New York elected Giuliani.  Nor are they serious about keeping their city safe.  Oakland is currently the 5th most violent city in the US, and it’s not looking to improve policing.  In fact, the wimpy Mayor believes that providing young people with positive alternatives will prevent murder.

Oaklanders themselves are a bit confused about what it is, other than the old Oakland architecture, that makes their community so great.  Sure, some nice eating and drinking establishments opened up in dangerous neighborhoods, and there is a stray art gallery or a boutique here and there.  Oaklanders are trying so hard, they are — oh — experimenting with making themselves a tourist destination for “medical” marijuana.  But there are no good museums, theaters or anything that can pass for a vibrant city life.  And, given the mentality of the residents, it can only go downhill.

Last year, when a white BART cop accidentally shot and killed a black thug, Oakland racists and leftists rioted.  It all culminated in a run on Footlocker at 14th and Broadway.*  The store never reopened, but for some reason other merchants felt safe.  Now that occupiers are taking over the downtown area, some business owners are trying to keep a stiff upper lip re socialism.  Some downtown Oakland corporate stores, like Men’s Warehouse and Whole Foods, broadcasted their support for the self-proclaimed champions of the 99%.

The Oakollectiv boutique is more in tune with the local mood than Men’s Warehouse.  It managed to evoke both the hometown and socialism in its name, and it demands justice for the above-mentioned thug on its website.  The locals love their products, so the store was looted by the occupiers.  Oaklanders are mean to each other.

Other entrepreneurs sound patiently pathetic.  Sure, they don’t like #Occupy — a lot of people don’t — but what are they going to do?

“If we go two more months like this,” Best [a restaurant owner] said, “it’s a wrap.”

Their restaurant is five blocks from the encampment. Businesses closer have suffered more, and not only from a loss of customers. Windows have been broken, street fires have been set, and graffiti has become part of the landscape, block after block.

Best and Rasche, West Oakland residents, don’t want to leave.[...]For a downtown that held such promise just a decade ago, it’s been a painful journey.”We own this restaurant because we love Oakland,” Rasche said. “You want to believe in it so bad.”

West Oakland is a ghetto, and the “promise” of downtown Oakland was always a bit tentative.  Public mood was way too socialist to sustain any serious economic development.  In the 90s, when major US cities revitalized and the crime rate was falling, Oakland followed the lead.  Some dotcoms, like Ask, headquartered in Oakland where business taxes were lower than SF’s.  In retrospect, it seems like a very temporary reprise in the area that still prided itself for it’s radical heritage.  It had now reverted to the form.  Mr. Best and Ms. Rasche should be encourage to continue on their spiritual journey until they reach another dead end.

There is a glimmer of home, though.  Developer Phil Tagami stopped the mob with a loaded gun:

Tagami [called] the Occupy Oakland encampment “basically concealment and cover for anarchists who are doing this to our city.”

“We’re very concerned that a group of people can be allowed to do this type of destruction to our town and to our image without any repercussions,” Tagami said. “They need to be held accountable.” He rejected assertions that the anarchists were a small minority, saying, “No, you can’t have it both ways.”

Tagami added, “I support a peaceful protest. But it was a siege situation last night, and quite frankly, I’m glad we were here. But I never want to have to do that again.”

How can the “small minority” argument gain any traction?  At this point it’s painfully obvious that everyone at #Occupy is looking for trouble.  In Oakland specifically there was never a split between a violent fringe and a non-violent fringe — why would occupiers quarrel about such a petty detail?  More importantly, the whole day of “general strike” was violent: rioters used force to block business at various banks and the port of Oakland.  Broken windows were merely a cherry on top.
an Oakaland hero

Maybe Phil Tagami should run for mayor.

In any event, Oakland has a lot of soul-searching to do and seriously consider new ideas if it wants to get out of the pit it’s in.

*Oscar Grant’s best friend was gunned down earlier this year — and what, no riot for him?

November 17, 2011

Fashion and Style Pick-Me-Up: Just Like Mommy!

Filed under: fashion, parenting — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 12:07 pm

At last!  National Review informed that just in time for the holidays Mattel rolled out tattooed Barbie.

tattooed barbie

Bubble punk complete with pink hair, heart and crossbones and catprint leggings.

And why not?  I’m a bit mystified by the whole phenomena of matronly forty-somethings who rush to get a new tattoo or piercing once kids start pre-K.  They are not quite empty-nesters, but at least kids are reasonably independent and about to be checked into institutions.  Lets celebrate by reverting to our post-teen selves!

tattoed barbie

Full back, are we that hard core?

I’m not too happy about the whole training tattoo for tots craze either.  I mean temporary tattoos.  For my daughter they are merely stickers that go on her body, and I’m trying to teach her that the important thing about that hello kitty on her hand is that it can be removed with baby oil.

November 16, 2011

More #Occupy Child Abuse

Filed under: parenting, politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:41 pm

#Occupy has no end game.  But Mayor Bloomberg, probably fearing outcome unhealthier than that of a diet high in saturated fats, finally decided to clear the Lower Manhattan shantytown.  You’d think the occupiers would figure that he actually did them a favor, go home and work on their “police brutality broke the movement” narrative.  But no, they appear to be switching to a full-blown domestic terrorism mode.

Meanwhile ring worm and scabies are reported at their Santa Cruz squaterville — along with drug and alcohol use.

Occupy Snata Cruz

That's from #Occupy Santa Cruz "Activist Training" album. Looks like the woman standing in the background is holding on to a stroller.

On October 22 #Occupy Santa Cruz held a “family day”– thankfully not a “sleepover”.  Sure, that was nearly a month before the ringworm and scabies were found, but the conditions in which to expect them were already set.

The Gateway Pundit reports five separate crimes at the LA site, including masturbating in front of children.  It could get worse.  #Occupy Chicago security guard was arrested on child porn charges.

Occupy Chicago

A Parents for Occupy Chicago November 5 event.

In Seattle a two-months pregnant woman and an 84-year-old activists participated in a march in when the occupiers blocked intersections.  When the radicals ignored multiple warning to disperse, police used pepper spray.  The little old lady participated in occupation by choice, which can not be said about the gestating baby.

Occupy Seattle

This young woman was rushed to the hospital. Pepper spray can cause miscarriage and increased risk birth defects.

Lovely human shields you got yourselves, occupiers!

November 15, 2011

Sex in Politics in Russia

Filed under: politics, Russia — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:44 pm

The upcoming Russian election is promising to be a nail-biter.   Is it going to be Putin… or Putin?  The autocrat’s campaign is in high gear,  hitting on all important issues.

Remember when Russians wrote operas?  Now they have techno.

Rouge Operator describes the video as Putin’s lets f*** Russia campaign.

Russians got a bit sex-obsessed in the wake of Perestroika (which kind of explains the failure of the whole democratic experiment there, considering that unlike debauchery, democracy requires hard work and self-restraint).  For instance, the recently installed shopping windows in one of the Moscow’s top malls feature robots doing the dirty.  Evidently that was an homage to Bjork.  High art, you know.

What Russia lacks is the natural outcome of having sex, namely the children.  The Russian population is shrinking, but there is  good and bad news on that front.  The good news: the Russian fertility rate is up.  The bad news: it’s up to 1.5 children per woman, well below replacement, and it is likely to be remain stagnant.  Like many European governments, Russians are desperate to promote childbearing.  Hence Putin’s recent visit to a Kaliningrad hospital where, he alleges, the 7 billionth Earthling was born (via Capitol Commentary):

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hailed a two-day old Russian boy as the world’s seven billionth person Wednesday, weighing into a bizarre scramble to claim a title that is almost impossible to verify.

Russia’s Pyotr Nikolayev was born on Oct 31, two minutes after midnight in a maternity hospital in Russia’s Western exclave of Kaliningrad, wedged between Poland and the Baltic Sea.

“How did you manage to do it on the very 7 billion mark?” Putin, who is running for president in a March election, asked the child’s mother in front of a group of television reporters.

“It was all down to him. I am just a normal mum,” Yelena Nikolayeva, replied as she handed the boy to Putin, Russia’s paramount leader. The pictures were aired on state television at peak viewing times.

Kaliningrad map

Growing Russia? One day following the 2008 Presidential election in the US, Russia announced deployment of short-range weapons capable of reaching Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany in Kaliningrad, formerly Königsberg and a bunch of other non-Russian names.

Russians think of themselves as the smartest people on Earth — because they know better than democracy.  Had an American candidate made his campaign propaganda so improbable, he’d be laughed out of the room.  And yes, that applies to Democrats too, even to black Democrats.  Recall Maureen Dowd’s skepticism about the Team 6 film set to open a few weeks prior to the next Presidential election.

Although the “election” will be a farce in a long-standing Russian tradition, a lot of Russians genuinely like Putin because he’s a nationalist and a strongman.  They love to be an empire, and even the more intelligent ones believe their country is so unruly, it needs an iron fist.  But here is a novel idea: Try organizing your vast stretches from the bottom up.

To be sure, Russia’s problems are legion.  It is no secret that much of Russian intelligentsia wants to leave the country.  A few months ago, my uncle forwarded me an anonymous editorial by a young Russian woman working towards a graduate degree in computer science so that she has the skills to find a job abroad.  I toyed with the idea of writing a post about it, but didn’t, and now I lost the link.  She explained her motives, and they were not at all financial.  The essay was lengthy, but in a nutshell, she is turned off by the lack of respect for the rule of law and the individual that permeates Russian society.

When I told DH about the essay his reaction was: “Where exactly does she plan to find respect for the individual and the rule of law in this day and age?”  It’s all relative.  One man commented on the article said that he now lives in Prague, and, yes, it is much better there.

On the other hand, if here, in the US, we have adherents of Russian political theories planting their a***s in the middle of our cities, defecating in public and demanding to be cared for, that’s exactly the kind of mindset that’s forcing this woman to flee.  Add to it our Chicago way President who rules without any regard for both the public opinion and the rule of law, and doesn’t show much interest in the well-being of his countrymen.

But I digress.  While Americans are suspicious of sex in politics and are unlikely to elect an attractive female nominee to the highest office, in Russia and the former empire, sex appeal is a plus.  Think of recently jailed Ukrainian PM Yulia Timoshenko.

Sex in politics: Ukraine

She's pushing 50 in this shot.

Our next President should appoint Sarah Palin to a Russian ambassadorship.  They will listen.

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