sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

December 30, 2012

Pity The Loving Niece

A Slate contributor found it difficult to admit regret about not having had children (via Instapundit).  But then she concludes:

OPC. Other People’s Children. Rent not buy. I have the best of both worlds, a long-term care policy, a retirement fund, and a deal with a loving niece—you make sure that I’m in a nice place that doesn’t rip me off and takes care of me if it comes to that, and you get the trust. Everyone wins. We love her. She loves us. We trust her.

So the niece, one of two children of the contributor’s sole sibling, is now trusted with care of not only her parents, presumably still alive, but an auntie who refused to raise a progeny.  No word if the niece has/wants to have children and how she will balance her own family with attending to two sets of elderly relatives?

Speaking of children, my uncle forwards a bit of Russian emigre humor in re Russia’s ban on American adoption:

the three sisters

The title above reads “The Three Sisters”, like the Chekhov play. The message on the bottom left: “The two younger ones were adopted by Americans”. On the bottom right: “But I am the lucky one — I dwell in the Motherland!”

For all of you skeptics, the demotivational is not at all over the top.  A Russian woman whose sisters were adopted would looks like the one in the poster.  And she probably has a few of her own in the country’s sad orphanages.

I’m on the edge of my seat watching the 11th hour fiscal cliff negotiations on TV.  If we will go off the cliff, our taxes will go up, you see, so our hard-working representatives in DC are working overtime trying to negotiate tax hikes to pay for whatever that is they want to spend.

California is so other people’s money hungry, Prop 13 is on the table.  But there is hope.  For real.  Bakersfield is developing oil, and unemployment is dropping there.  There is so much oil in Cali, that if we get over ourselves (and our environmentalists) and start drilling, we can develop a welfare state to rival  Saudi Arabia’s.  To bad we busy ourselves developing a  “Homeless Bill of Rights”.

Elsewhere on the web, Leslie Eastman gives Tea party New Year’s Resolutions.  She has some excellent links with practical suggestions (enjoy the decline, protect yourself from Obamacare).  It’s not unlikely that people on the right, the pick yourself by the shoestring, make the best of a bad situation, help your neighbor types, will probably coast through the age of Obama.  His supporters — not so much.

Read a Zionist super-rino story at Maggie’s Notebook.  And speaking of Israel, on corporate level Trader Joe’s appears to be indifferent to calls to boycott Israel.  After repeated vandalism and customer intimidation, their Castro Street store in San Francisco created a display showcasing some Israeli products.  I recognize (and highly recommend) the Israeli couscous.

DH got me the new Camille Paglia’s book for Hanukkah.  Paglia wrote the book to promote fundamental understanding of the arts, something that the American educational system failed to do.  It gets worse.  Today, the “common core standards” adopted by 46 states favor non-fiction over literature.  And by “non-fiction” educational system bureaucrats mean bureaucratic drivel.

I am honored to be included in Citizen Tom’s list of the best of 2012.  It’s an impressive round up of small blogs, go read it.

Circling back to Russia, The People’s Cube has Soviet accident prevention posters — I remember a few of these.

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Filed under: Ukraine, whatever — edge of the sandbox @ 11:58 am

Yours truly is about to embark on the semi-annual trip to LA.  I want to wish my Christian (and post-Christian, or whatever you call it, generic American?) friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

The other day I was reading a book to my kids that mentioned making a snowman.  I proceeded to explain in detail how to make one — make a small snowball and roll it in snow until the ball reaches the desired size. Then I felt kind of said for my children, now 5 (five!) and3 and yet to make their first snowman.  The next thing I know the news about record cold weather in Russia and Ukraine came in.  I think we are much better off in CA where nobody is dying in sub-zero temperatures.

Not even Femen, who previously didn’t shy away from baring it all, sunshine or snow, dared to protest the deaths in this December cold front.  But here is a heartwarming story about a Siberian circus trainer saving two Indian elephants by getting them to drink vodka.

My Invalueable Contribution To The Never-Ending National Conversation About Guns

Filed under: politics, society — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:58 am

In the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook massacre, the President finally got his rationale to renew the national “discussion” “about guns”.  All right then.  We’ve talked about the Second Amendment for decades, and found that there is no way around it. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that twenty some years ago smoking in California was not restricted by any state law.  When the restaurants were required to provide non-smoking sections (it’s for the kids!) some smokers quit because, they believed, their habit will eventually become illegal.  I thought they were paranoid.  I was never a habitual smokers because I figured it’s a tough addiction to break for a woman who wants, eventually, to become a mother.  When smoking in bars was outlawed, I wowed to keep lighting up.  Some bars were turning a blind eye to it, but, given how so few people had the cancer sticks on them, I rarely found an opportunity to do so.  A year ago a friend of family was a street fair when he got in a fight with an overzealous father who felt that he was smoking too close to his baby.  The overzealous dad probably had the law on his side because our friend was too close to a restaurant.

Guns are not cigarettes.  Tobacco users were plenty aware of the damage they were likely causing to their bodies, but gun owners believe that ownership is righteous.  And while an individual can’t stockpile a lifetime worth of puffs, the firearms in possession of American citizens will last decades if not centuries.  Still, the anti-smoking regulation is something to keep in mind when considering another “assault weapon” ban.

The NRA President Wayne LaPierre put something different on the table, namely armed guards in public schools.  I’m with Just A Conservative Girl who says:

I am so astonished, flabbergasted, and appalled at the presser that Wayne La Pierre and the NRA held today.  While he started out just fine, it just got creepier and yes Orwellian as it went along.

A federal program that puts an armed guard in every school across the country?  Uh, no.  The security of a particular school system is a local/state issue, not a federal one.  Smitty over at The Other McCain accused me of being so federalist.  My reply, you’re damn skippy I am.  What conservative can get behind this suggestion?  This is something that the left would do, not the right.  Not the gun part, but the federal government control part.  I mean the irony of all this is so thick you can cut it with a knife.  Some on the right are heralding this as the great cure-all, and the left is screaming about it.  Neither of things are true.
First and foremost, I am 100% against forcing a teacher to become a gun toter.  Many teachers would not want to do this, and as an American citizen that is their right.  The second amendment says nothing about every American must bear arms, it says the government can’t infringe upon that right.  Even if the teacher was someone who liked guns, I still think it is a bad idea.  All the students would know that the teacher is armed and I believed it could be a huge distraction; especially in schools were violence is an everyday part of life for the student body.  What I would be willing to go along with would be highly trained and certified guard of some sort.  I know where I live the police department has a unit of people who are hired out to all kinds of locations, even to some jewelry stores in the area.  But only if the school system wants this type of thing.  I don’t think it should be forced on a federal level.  This is something that state/locality should decide upon.  I know here in Virginia there is discussion if our Constitution would even allow the commonwealth to force this on every school system.  A bill is expected to be put into our legislature next month.  We will see how it goes.

I also don’t understand how a conservative leader would want to see more federal intervention in public schools.  We do have armed guards at malls, but not by presidential decree, mind you.  I don’t trust the federal government with the school children.  Judging by how well DHS and No Child have worked out, I don’t want yet another cumbersome bureaucracy.  Instead of extending federal jurisdiction over our schools, we should dismantle the DOE.  But I’m glad that some localities are taking the initiative to protect their pupils.

While I believe that unthinkable events like school shootings are unlikely to happen near me.  Lenore Skenazy is always great for perspective:

It’s impossible not to feel afraid, sad, sickened and deeply pessimistic when something like this occurs. However, “something like this” — well, there aren’t a lot of somethings like this, and that’s a truth I am desperately trying to remind my heavy soul. It may feel like “school shootings happen all the time,” but they don’t. They are rarer than rare. They are as unpredictable as anything can be. And if today we find ourselves making a mental list, “Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook,” that’s because they are few enough, in a country of 300 million, that we know their names.

This does not mitigate our sorrow, but it can — with some effort — mitigate our fear. It is not to dismiss the parents’ pain that I encourage you to turn off the TV. It is to keep some perspective. The perspective that almost dare not speak its name. The perspective that the vast majority of children in America will never encounter a psychopathic mass murderer at school, and to guard them as if they will is unnecessary.

Worse, it is bordering on ungrateful.

I would like to have armed personnel on my daughter’s campus.  Not the armed guards, but armed personnel.  Teachers, janitors, principals — whoever volunteers to carry guns — and I would like their identity to be secret.  I believe that the sickos who commit mass murders do so because they can, and I want to make their planning impossible or near impossible.  If everyday people instead of uniformed guards will carry weapons, school campuses will not feel like military zones.  Not so much because our schools will be less of targets of opportunity (they will), but because it’s normal.

Harrison of Capitol Commentary argues against the armed teachers:

This idea sounds good at first but aren’t so many Conservatives lecturing people about how incompetent teachers are and now they advocate them carrying guns?  And many public schools are filled with violent children whose parents don’t bother to raise them… do we want them to play “which teacher is carrying a gun?” in the classroom?

I don’t distrust teachers as much as Harrison.  The very individuals who fill out kids brains with propaganda are willing and able to fight and die for them.  They are not necessarily bad people; they are just wrong, and I don’t think they can’t be trusted with security if they volunteer to provide it.  Dangerously violent “children” are usually teens, and that’s a whole different matter, and something that should be decided locally.

A side benefit of introducing armed personnel on campus would be an increased conservative presence.  I don’t think most teachers in our school district will agree to bear weapons.  School districts like ours will end up with new hires who are likely to be conservative, and it’s good for the kids to be exposed to people who think differently from other adults in their lives.

December 20, 2012

The 1% Psycho

Filed under: education, society — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:03 pm

The most famous crime in literature was committed with an axe.  Rodion Raskolnikov murdered the elderly pawnbroker and her sister to prove that she, the pawnbroker, is a worm but he is an ubermensch.  Dostoevsky used the story to illustrate the death of values in modernity.  Dostoevsky’s own morals are questionable, and so are his ideas about Russian history and society.  The early Russian translations of the late 19th century German philosophers whom Dostoevsky imagined to be an influence on Raskolnikov are notoriously imprecise.  And yet, in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, how come no one is talking about Dostoevsky?

what would raskolnikov do?

Don’t worry, this onsie is organic.  It’s probably not quite a joke, and I wouldn’t be surprised if zazzle.com actually sold a few of these to expecting literature lovers

We hear quite a bit about psychiatry.  According to his brother, Adam Lanza, the man who slaughtered 20 children and 6 adults, was on the autism spectrum, which explains what was going on, to a degree.  It’s not a sufficient explanation because Mozart, for instance, was almost certainly autistic, and yet his ailment (which informed his genius) was a gift to humanity.

What strikes me about Adam Lanza is his self-centeredness.  Sources suggest that his mother wanted to institutionalize him, which, to be sure, sounds scary.  But check out what appears to be his rationale for the rampage: he felt his mother, the woman, who, whatever her faults, literally gave her life to him, loved a kindergarten class where she did some volunteer work more than her son, which prompted him to assassinate both his mother and her 6-year-olds.  Adam Lanza thought his mama didn’t love him enough.  That’s beyond Dostoevsky.  While some critics suggest that Roskolnikov’s figure is vaguely matricidal, Dostoevsky could not consciously imagine a son who felt that the woman who gave him life was insufficiently devoted.

Adam Lanza is so spoiled rotten American.  I don’t doubt that there were dangerous autistic people in Austria in Mozart’s time and that plenty of men and women who get autism diagnosis today are responsible gun owners.  And yet the alleged rational for the mass shooting sounds so very contemporary American kid talk.  Granted, that’s an explanation proposed by some third person, not the perpetrator himself, but jealousy does seem to be a motive.

The killer might had been wired differently from his peers, but he was functional enough to soak up the anxieties common to last several generations of Americans.  They might be some of the most privileged people in history (even the ones who, unlike Adam Lanza, weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth) growing up in spacious estates with dotting mothers watching their every move.  But they are perfectly content nurturing resentment of mom and dad and feel the need of spending years on a shrink’s couch pontificating about their feelings. I suspect that Lanza was not the only 20-year-old in his neighborhood who never had a job.  He didn’t move out of the house, but how many of his former classmates will end up boomerang kids, returning to their childhood rooms (and video game collections) after college?

I have no to tax the hell out of the 1%.  But my problem with them is this: so many upper middle class/upper class parents today forgo moral education.  Everything is relative and any behavior is explained away.  High school students are less likely to have part time jobs because they are busy with college prep classes.  This is the environment in which the Newtown killer was raised.  I’m not going to blame his mother; I suspect she didn’t do anything radically different from what any other woman of her background would do had she had a mad genius for a child.  It’s just that a little more moral education wouldn’t have hurt Adam Lanza — or any other American kid for that matter.  Too many privileged kids today do things because they can, even if that means murder.

December 17, 2012

The Drama Obama

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 12:24 pm

barack change

Fellow Americans, how would you like to change for your President?  After all, his better half warned you four plus years ago that Barack will require just that from his subjects.  The public might overwhelmingly believe in the constitutional right to bear arms, and the Supreme Court seems to think that the Second Amendment actually means what it says, but Barack says “change!”  How can we be of service?

There’s been a lot of drama in the Obama administration lately.  The damsel in distress that is his Secretary of State will not testify at Benghazi hearings due to fainting, and the President himself has been crying quite a bit.  He cried the night before the election, for instance.  He was touched by the devotion of the low-paid workers who worked for his campaign.  Barack cares.  Perhaps not for Brian Terry and his family, and we all know that he’d rather hang out with fans in Vegas than deal with the fact that we have a murdered ambassador.  But speaking at a vigil for the victims of the Newtown mass shooting, our President didn’t waste time shedding tears while advancing his anti-gun agenda.  Mind you, that’s before any of the victims were buried.

He’s anything but shy about advancing his agenda.  Four years ago, many of us considered health care the third rail, and yet Obama went in to advance the cause of nationalized health care.  Shredding the Second Amendment should be trickier than passing Obamacare.  For one, unlike 2008,  the GOP now controls the the House.  Gun ownership is popular, and it is in the Constitution, plain and simple.  But I’m looking forward to seeing more of the crying Obama.

December 15, 2012

Happy 8th Night of Hanukkah!

Filed under: Judaism, politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:09 pm

Our household had a busy Hanukkah.  In addition to children’s parties (yes, plural) we had here, Yelena has several rehearsals for her upcoming ballet about the son of the clock- and dollmaker who defeats a subterranean evil creature with a help of a maiden, for which she is invited to her prince’s blissful kingdom.  Half of my daughter’s Hanukkah presents were Nutcracker-related.  We did go to the Chabad menorah lighting the first night of Hanukkah where she made fast friends with a delightful three–year old girl.

Last year the event was protested by separation of synagogue and state Jewesses.  This year I didn’t see them.  Maybe they showed up at some other night, or perhaps they figured that protesting a menorah erected by a Holocaust survivor is not the way to get PR.

Because Hanukkah is a celebration of Jewish self-defense, IDF pictures are in order.  Not posting any pictures of IDF women because there is plenty of that out there, and it’s unfair to us women since there are so many good-looking men in the Israeli army.  Photos of men in the IDF are usually not posed, so we get the human drama, which I love.

The gun and a prayer sub-genre.  I think he was aware of the presence of a photographer

This one wasn’t

Deployed in Gaza. Smoking, too. Who still smokes in California?

Celebrating the return from Gaza with the Hasidim

Generally, wrinkles make men look honorable

This officer revived a listless Arab girl in the territories. Never hear stories like this one in the media

December 11, 2012

Methinks Berkeley Students Have No Problem Procuring Cheap Contraception

Filed under: education, politics, relationships — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:27 am

I read The Daily Cal’s Sex on Tuesday column as an undergrad, and thought it was something of note.  When I came back on campus a few years later and attempted to read the same column, now written by a different girl (if there was ever a Sex on Tuesday boy, I missed it) and quickly concluded that a 20-year-old has no business writing sex advice.  Via College Insurrection I found that a girl by the name of Nadia Cho, now in custody of Sex on Tuesday, made a quite a splash proclaiming:

[H]aving sex on campus is actually very doable, and it’s lots of fun. It’s also surprisingly easy.

Note to the copy editor: “doable” connotes relative ease.  To avoid redundancy, strike out the last sentence.  Besides, even if we take our self-described “mischievous” author for her own word, sex on campus is not that easy.  She chose the evening before Thanksgiving when the campus is “marvelously empty” for her adventure, but try doing it the day before the first final when everyone and his mother is at The Stacks studying.  Plus, she makes it pretty clear that neither she nor her unfortunate male partner actually had an orgasm.  “I’m just not ambitious” — she explained.  I dono… What she does with her body in the privacy of whatever is really none of my business, but I like my newspaper correspondents thorough and ambitious.

To be sure, Ms. Cho has the theory to back her no-orgasm sex practice:

[S]ex isn’t always about cumming and having orgasms. Sometimes it’s for shits and giggles. Having expectations and goals can ruin the fun of it.

She has lots of theory.  For instance, she authoritatively states:

The risk of getting caught is what makes having sex in public so exciting. Without that, there wouldn’t be any novelty in doing it. It’s fun to challenge yourself to not make any noise while having sex.

Nadia Cho folds her hands

Nadia devoted several paragraphs to encouraging her fellow students to make out in public places.  Among her pearls:

Other than providing fun places to get down, Berkeley is the best place to explore your sexuality.

That sentence is a fine example of Berkeley undergrad writing.  Presumably “the best place to explore your sexuality” is “fun [...] to get down”.  Rewrite and shorten.  The problem with undergraduates is that they get accustomed to getting paid by the word, so to say.  In every humanities class, they absolutely have to stretch their pearls to make up 8 pages, which prevents them from developing an ability to write as they think.  I shouldn’t pick on the columnist too much, I doubt I was any better when I was her age — although I wish I had more instruction.Ms. Cho continues:

Our school is a predominantly safe and accepting space with many places, people and resources to help you discover your sexual self.

“[P]redominantly safe”?  As far as I can tell, “predominantly safe” means keep on the look out for creeps — as any woman should, anywhere. But then there is this:

It is the place where I learned what it means to be queer, to recognize the presence of patriarchy, to attempt polyamory and to become more confident in my sexuality so I could go ahead with new experiences — attending naked parties and orgies and writing a sex column, just to name a few.

Ah, the patriarchy!  So that’s why Berkeley is not “safe” but merely “predominantly safe”, because there might be a patriarch roaming around somewhere.

Speaking of naked parties, are Nadia’s parents reading her world-famous column?  Well, doh!  Of course!  Considering that the girl is in no hurry to get home the day before Thanksgiving, the point of this writing exercise is most likely to get her bill-paying (Korean?  Patriarchal?) father know who’s the boss.  I don’t suppose the column will hurt her employment chances, not in the Bay Area, where patriarchy no longer prevents us women from enjoying our sexuality, but does she really want every romantic interest from this day forward googling her name?  And if she gets around to having a family, she has to presume that her kids will find out.  I have some decade-old silliness attached to my name floating online, nothing of sex on campus caliber, to be sure, but enough to dread the day when my kids will enter my name into a search engine.

Ms. Cho concludes her story:

Learn to appreciate your sexy side and experience a few frisky things during your time here. Take the Female Sexuality DeCal [...]

That, my friends, is the difference between a Sex on Tuesday columnist and her audience: Female Sexuality DeCal.  Whatever it takes to have their pretty little brains occupied.

UPDATE: Linked by Doug Ross.  Thanks!

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