sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

January 29, 2013

Little Things That Are Making Me Miserable

Filed under: education, environmentalism, fashion, journalism, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:33 pm

Facebook.  I tried to FB a while ago and couldn’t stand the… er… level of discourse.  Maybe it’s the people I know, or else FB reduces everyone to the lowest common denominator.  I wasn’t jealous of anyone I friended, quite to the contrary.  Every time I looked at my damn wall, I saw people broadcasting to the Universe that they are going to CVS to buy toilet paper — or some such.  A few couples’ PDA made me wonder about the fragility of their relationships.

Trying to decide whether to take my daughter to a Goth production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella is making me miserable.  I’m not a big fan of sanitizing tales, but I’m just not sure a 5-year-old enjoy this particular version.  I suspect the production is geared to grown children.  It’s only natural that choreographers are catering to hipsters in a city where they outnumber kids.

Smokers don’t make me miserable.  The ill effects of second hand smoke are vastly overblown, and I really don’t mind when people next to me have a cigarette or two.  What I can’t stand are the power trippers out to get smokers.  The formerly libertarian state of Oregon might actually pass a bill that would make cigarettes prescription only drugs.  I feel like hugging every smoker in this country of ours because when the smokers are gone, who’s next?

While outlawing tobacco, Oregon, many observers agree, is likely to legalize cannabis in the near future.  Here, in Cali, those on the hip side spent the last couple of decades joking that pot is now more socially acceptable than tobacco.  I’m sure this must be the case in both Washington and Colorado where recreational (what other kind is there?) marijuana is now legal.  And what do you know, CO is introducing a bill to set a limit for driving stoned.  It turns out that:

There’s a lot of pressure on lawmakers after legalizing pot. As the number of users grows, there is growing concern the number of people driving under the influence will as well. In 2011, the most recent data available, 13 percent of deadly crashes in Colorado involved pot.

13%?  Wow!  I recall the totally scientifically justified reasoning for legalization I heard all through my youth, that drunks do stupid things, like getting getting behind the wheel wasted, but stoners are just too mellow to get their tushies off their couches and therefore don’t drive intoxicated.

No word on how many accidents are caused by motorists impaired by tobacco.

I’m proud of my home town on occasion.  Last week, the one hometown paper that can tolerate me reading its pages printed a front page story about the effort of some goofy homegrown group to get the hometown Big 5 to stop selling the dreaded “assault weapons”.  Ours being a former navy town, the paper’ve heard from a few locals, including one reader who pointed out that the paper got all gun specifications wrong.  The paper retorted:

No one on the Sun’s editorial staff owns or ever has owned a gun. Officials at Big 5 did not respond to calls to clarify details about their merchandise.

So, basically, because they don’t know a certain subject they don’t possibly need to research it.  Hicks.

Another individual wrote on the subject of the grocery bag ban:

Cloth and canvas bags are the “ugly ducklings” of (reusable) shopping bags (“Treat Reusable Bags Like Dirty Laundry,” Jan. 17). They don’t hold their shape, being floppy. I can imagine people just throwing them away when they get too dirty.

“We” will wash our own bags. Oh, but of course, what about the many who don’t? Our food could get indirectly contaminated from someone else’s dirty bag, could it not?

Good questions.  If we can’t trust our fellow citizens to put their used plastic bags in a waste basket, we certainly can’t trust them to wash their cloth bags.  Lets legislate.

The dashing good looks of Democratic women had long been the subject of discussion of the right-wing blogosphere.  I hope my discussion of the sublime get-ups of Michelle Obama can be considered a humble contribution to the genre.  Do take a look at a representative specimen at Viking the Kitten blog.  EBL has Lena Dunham and Legal Insurrection — Jennifer Granholm.  I find all of these ladies hilarious, but my readers might prefer to plaque their eyes out rather than click at the links above.

OK, not everybody is blessed with good looks. But lets not go out of the way to make ourselves ugly

In any event, here is some news to cheer them up: universities are cutting assistant professors’ hours to comply with Obamacare which said professors enthusiastically endorsed.  No doubt they thought they’d benefit from Obamacare.  Remember when Pelosi promised that once O’care is signed into law, everyone can, like, stop worrying and join a band.  The sub-professorship class might know about brown nosing, which, to be sure, is an important skill in academia.  However, they seem to poorly understand how political power works in this country — or the world — or how the economy works.  Do you trust them to educate your children?

May 4, 2012

Calling All Julias (And Sandras)

Filed under: parenting, politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:58 am

Temple of Mut has an excellent post on Democrat efforts to unionize childcare.  Given the declining membership, unions are desperate to find new workers from whom to collect dues, and several states are attempting to unionize babysitters.  Can a scheme like that work?

[O]nce a babysitter gets unionized, how easy would it be to fire them? The LA Times, no bastion of conservative thought, posted this chestnut: Firing teachers can be a costly and tortuous task. Such a situation tends to attract unsavory characters, from whom mothers normally wish to protect their children.

So, as with much of progressive policies, this one is chock full of unintended consequences. Unionizing childcare will force moms to chose between staying home and raising kids in a safe environment, or hiring pricey and potentially unqualified/dangerous individuals to watch their babies while they work — paying excessively high taxes while they do so.

If this situation will make staying home look like an increasingly attractive option, think again.  Last November Madame ex-Speaker promised to regaining Democratic majority in the House campaigning on a federal childcare platform.  Taking this scenario into account, childcare providers will not only be substandard and prohibitively expensive if customers are to pay out of pocket, you and I will be obligated to pitch in, even if we don’t use their services through federal taxes.

Unionized federal childcare: Tell me about that free birth control, again.

December 22, 2011

Nancy Pelosi Spam

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

Today I had an electronic communication from the former Speaker delivered to my mailbox.

pelosi spam

I don’t believe I previously contacted Mrs. Pelosi or signed up for her newsletter, nor do I reside in her District.  Did my Congressman Pete Stark surrender my email address to his boss?  Did someone else sold me out?

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.

September 5, 2011

Cannabis and… errr… the Complexities of Oakland Pride

A lot comes to mind when one thinks of Oakland: Black Panthers, high crime, murdered journalists,  posh white enclaves surrounded by ghettos with hipsters on the edges of the ghettos.  Speaking of hipsters, Oakland now has a new claim to fame: “medical” marijuana:

Oakland has stayed at the forefront of the cannabis legalization movement, with advocates and city government working hand in hand for more than 15 years.

Now, folks will finally get the chance to light up outside City Hall. Legally, that is.

A cannabis street fair touted as the first in the nation is set for this weekend, featuring speakers, music, booths and vendors. But perhaps the most unusual attraction will be the “215 area,” a designated spot directly in front of City Hall where those with a valid medical cannabis card will be able to ingest, smoke or vaporize their pot. There will be devices to help folks make their own hash, a marijuana derivative. The open-air lounge, so to speak, is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

The “215” in the name is a reference to Proposition 215, the 1996 state ballot measure that legalized personal use of medical marijuana.

“Patients need to take their medicine when they need to,” said Kim Cue, a Berkeley resident who is chief executive of the International Cannabis & Hemp Expo, which starts Saturday at noon. “Being a patient myself, that’s something that’s mandatory.”

In the years since voters approved Prop. 215, Oakland has increasingly found itself at the forefront of a fight to test the limits of the law. The city is believed by Oakland’s elected officials and cannabis activists to be the first in the nation to license dispensaries. A battle with the federal government involving an early cannabis-buying cooperative in Oakland went to the Supreme Court in 2001 – which the dispensary lost. City voters in 2004 passed Measure Z, making possession of small amounts of pot the lowest priority for police. Underground pot clubs have been operating ever since. In 2009, Oakland voters passed a measure to tax and regulate cannabis businesses – the first such tax in the country.

The city also has an array of cannabis-related businesses, particularly in a section of downtown known as Oaksterdam. The city’s pot identity is something the expo’s promoters, as well as locals, want to tout.

“Oakland needs to be the tourist destination for cannabis,” said Salwa Ibrahim, who handles government relations for Oaksterdam University, which trains students for the industry. “We felt like a street fair for the cannabis industry would help solidify that.”

Salwa Ibrahim, seen here with Barack Obama...

...and here with Nancy Pelosi. Perky and attractive Ms. Ibrahim doesn't come across as a doper. More like a budding local politico.

And this is you know who:

Sorry, just couldn't help it.

This is the Third Annual Hemp Expo.  Previously the event was held indoors, in the nearby Cow Palace.  If my readers are wondering if I located any pictures of people getting high in with Oakland City Hall in the background, the answer is no:
Photographers in Oakland aspiring for a shot of someone legally smoking marijuana in front of city hall had the opportunity snatched away by officials during a downtown Hemp Expo over the weekend.
Though the city hosted the two-day International Cannabis and Hemp Expo, which spanned several blocks of Frank Ogawa Plaza and included an area where medical marijuana patients could smoke in public, photographers and videographers were prohibited from capturing images of people smoking with city hall in the background.
“It’s not that we don’t want that picture. It’s that we try to keep this area of city hall, a public park, free of smoke and inhalation.” Arturo Sanchez, Asst. to the Oakland City Administrator.
Is Arturo Sanchez smoking?
For the record, while I’m no fan of pot, I support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.  However, medical marijuana is a shameless lie, and the Oaksterdam crowd knows it.  All serious users around here have medical marijuana id cards.  To obtain an id they go to a doctor with a reputation for issuing prescriptions, and invent an illness.
Prop 19, an initiative to legalize the drug in CA failed in November 2010, largely due to  efforts of the dealers.  The Proposition was polling pretty well until late October when some backers got on local TV and started complaining about “the language”.  I hear something else was going on.  More and more dispensaries were opening up, and the prices were dropping.  If cannabis was legalized growers with a couple of plants in their closets would be wiped out.
And so now we have the city of Oakland celebrating semi-legal dope.

Half-baked Oakland pride: Not directly in front of the City Hall, but close.

May 18, 2011

Nothing’s the Matter with San Francisco

In 2004 liberals wondered What’s the Matter with Kansas? because if  people of modest means vote Republican something must be wrong with them.  Walter Shapiro penned a response What’s the Matter with Central Park West? because if the poor are natural Democrats, then the rich should be Republicans.  Shapiro thinks that the rich are liberal for purely social reasons.  Now we are finding out that he’s wrong.  Because well-connected urban dwellers are perfectly positioned to mooch off the government and outcompete other businesses in regulation.  Take Nancy Pelosi’s home district.  According to the Daily Caller:

Of the 204 new Obamacare waivers President Barack Obama’s administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district.

Makes you wonder if Nancy gets her nails done at Tru Spa and what lobbying looks like these days.

UPDATE: Linked by American Housewife in London — Thanks!

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