sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

December 22, 2010

Paper Scarecrow

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 8:48 pm

In honor of Senate’s ratification of Obama’s nuclear treaty with Russia, it’s time to recall a lovely conversation I had with my daughter, then three.

Me: What animal are you?

Her: I’m a froggy!

Me: What animal is your brother?

Her: Oh, he’s a kitty!

Me: What animal is daddy?

Her: He’s a kitty too.

Me: What animal is mommy?

Her: Mommy is a scarecrow.

Hmmm… is it because I told her not to band on the window with her magic wand? Does she even know what a scarecrow is?

Me: What animal is the President?

Her: The President?  He’s… he’s… paper scarecrow!


December 20, 2010

Rob Long on Airport Security

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:48 pm

The Glove Will Not Save You:

There’s probably no context in which rubber gloves are anything less than alarming. These hands, they seem to announce, are tasked with some dirty business. These fingers, say the brightly colored latex digits, are crossing into unsavory terrain. You don’t know where those hands have been, and you don’t want to know where they’re going, but wherever it is, they’re going to need protection.

Which is why, I think, the most unsettling part of passing through airport security — more disquieting than the quasi-police TSA uniforms, which always seem at least two sizes too snug; more heart-racing than the body-imaging equipment, which looks exactly like what a brain-tumor-inducing machine would look like if you tried to build one — is the sight of a slightly bored TSA agent, bursting out of her uniform like a baked potato out of the foil, waiting on the other side of the machines with a pair of rubber gloves and a dead-eyed expression.

And so on…

UPDATE: The Glove on People’s Cube.

December 18, 2010

Why the Past Tense?

Filed under: society — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:33 pm

Instapundit linked to an old Reason article titled Hollywood Comrades: Why Soviets Made Such Lovable Movie VillainsLast time I checked, and that was a very superficial check, films are still chalk-full of Russians villains.  OK, maybe the post-Soviet Russian villains are not that lovable, but they are still abundant.

Russians are white, so all political correctness worries can be set aside.  On the other hand, Russians don’t mind.  Seriously, maybe I’m sheltered, but I never met a Russian (a Russian American, that is, and most of those are Jews, but no matter) who had an issue with campy film villains.  To the contrary, Russians take a certain pride in on-screen Russian villains: attention is flattering.  It’s as if we were still important.  Most of all, Russian Americans see nothing to be gained by opposing Hollywood silliness.  Applying one’s energy to an engineering job will yield greater results.

I protest the geekiness of this image!

Vegan Propaganda Review

Filed under: society — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:29 pm

Yesterday my three-year-old picked up a glossy brochure (surely not printed on recycled paper) titled Vegan Starter Kit.  The brochure was displayed on a free magazine stand at a local childrens’ consignment store in a slot in front of American Baby.  I was getting bad vibes from that piece of vegan evangelism, so I previewed it.  And voila — pictures of animal carcasses.  Now, I personally don’t have a problem with my children catching a glimpse of dead animals — I saw them when I was growing up.  But, I suspect, your average Bay Area parent will have some reservations.

Marc Chagall: Not a Vegan

Putting their best argument forward, vegan activists opened up with a list famous vegans.  I have no idea who some of those names are, but I guess I’m not with it.  Luminaries like Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix were on the list.  And so was Crissy Hyde, who, apparently, has more sympathy for chicken eggs then she does for Cuban people.  The majority of vegans are our contemporaries, of course.  Because diet devoid of animal products almost always requires supplements, vegan societies are a modern luxury.  Don’t believe me?  Name one purely vegan traditional society!

Individual historical figures who refused all animal products for a part of their lives are a different matter, because the survival and well-being of an entire society is not at stake.  And so I found Leonardo Da Vinchi and Leo Tolstoy were both vegans, according to this source.  I don’t know much about Da Vinchi, other then everyone claims him.  Tolstoy turned vegetarian in his late years.  If  the deans of veganism insist, I’ll give it to them.  Aside from becoming a vegetarian, in his later years Tolstoy embraced anarcho-pacifism and renounced the rights to his most important books.  The novelist died of pneumonia when, at the age of 82, he fled his home to live as an ascetic vagrant.  Had he lived today, his head would be thoroughly examined by a shrink, and he’d be diagnosed with something.  But at the time he wrote his two most important novels, Anna Karenina and War and Peace, middle-aged Tolstoy was a meat-eater and a hunter.

Vronsky breaks horse’s back and walks away unscathed.

Vegetarians are the target audience for vegan propaganda.  They already don’t eat flesh, so presumably they would be deeply disturbed by the images of slaughtered animals or animals being lead to slaughter.  But when I see a picture of dead chickens hanging in a row, I see normal.  When I was growing up, my grandmother would buy a whole chicken, plucked, and then take it apart, throwing away most of the internal organs.  We did eat the liver, though — pate is a delicacy.  Sometimes my grandparents would take me to the market, and we’d walk around trying to find the best chicken.  When we moved to the US, my late grandmother was delighted to buy pre-packaged chicken breasts — it saved so much time!

The images of animals crowded in tiny cages are certainly shocking. But when I drive on California freeways, I see happy cows munching on dry grass.  Can I eat them?  And what about hunting?

Jan Fyt, 17th Century Flemish Baroque artist.  Diana With her Hunting Dogs Beside Kill.  Hunting is a time-honored painting subject.

If the authors of the brochure want to suggest that we need to treat domesticated animals humanely, as responsible owners should — I agree, although it’s not my biggest concern in life.  What I find immoral and illogical is anthropomorphizing of the animals.  As in the following sentence: “If you grew as fast as a chicken, you would weigh 349 pounds at age 2.”  But we don’t grow as fast as chicken, and in any event, a human being is not a chicken, and should not be compared to one.  This kind of logic is likely to alienate people.  Than again, “Vegan Starter Kit” is made and distributed in the Bay Area, so never mind.

Although they didn’t make any Holocaust on Your Plate arguments, Vegan Starter Kit could not avoid avoiding the subject entirely.  They just have to quote “Anne Frank, Nazi Holocaust victim.”  What did she say?  “How wonderful it is that nobody needs wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  I kind of doubt that she had the suffering of fish on her mind.

December 12, 2010

That’s What my Mother Said

Filed under: relationships, society — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:18 am

Via Instapundint:

[C]ombining a high-powered career and motherhood and doing both well is impossible. It’s time we stopped feeding girls the fairy tale that they can do it all — and I agree.

But, more than that, I think most women — if given a truly free choice — would choose to stay at home and look after their children in their infancy.

The trouble is that most families rely on the salaries of both parents, so it’s not really an option.

It goes without saying, although it sometimes seems we are expressly forbidden to say it, that having a rich husband would provide that option.

That’s more or less what my mother said.  Being a product of the Soviet Union, she had no hang ups about feminism, and no hang ups about wealth.  To Russian women of her generation the idea of being a housewife was both radical and practical.

So I went out and married a musician.  Mind you, I married a musician who also had a viable career.  Now I’m a stay at home mom, still a feminist, and very, very busy.  Unlike the women whom Frances Childs describes, the women who married men an income bracket or two above my husband, I don’t have the time for hair appointments.  I hardly find time to see my dentist.  I can only wish we had house help, but, being a wimpy mom, I call my mother whenever things get out of hand.

Never had to do those, though.

There is no cognitive dissonance between being a feminist and marrying a man able to support his family, I think.  We don’t check our feminist credentials at Labor and Delivery Department of the local hospital.  One can be both a mother and a feminist; after all, mothers have their say in our society.  Moreover, after spending several years tending to a young family, many women re-enter the workforce.  Man and women change careers mid-life, so why not view motherhood as a career detour?

With that in mind, though, there should be no “equal pay for equal work” whining for women like me.  If I were to return to work immediately after my first child was born, most of my income would go to taxes and childcare.  If financially this move made little sense, emotionally and intellectually it made even less sense.  As exasperating as motherhood can be, this is hands down the most satisfying stage of my life so far.  While I am plotting my return to work in the near future, I realize that my career will unlikely to recoup after the years I spent with my babies, and that even after I will return to work full time, I will still have to prioritize my family.

That’s all right, though.  There are give and takes in life.

December 10, 2010

Life as Soviet Science Fiction

Filed under: society — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:19 pm

In the early 80s, when I was a kid, I read Soviet youth magazines.  I remember one of them had a science fiction story in which characters left some candy wrappers on an alien planet.  The narrator explained that because the story takes place in the future, all serious crime is already extinguished (of course — in Soviet view human nature is infinitely perfectible).  And so petty crime came to be regarded as serious crime, and littering, apparently, was a petty crime.

Fast backwards to 2010, from the Soviet future to the world where the Soviet Union no longer exists.  Narcissistic, nihilistic America-hater Julian Assange posted classified American documents for the whole world to see.  A nasty character to be sure.  Being a Swede, however, he didn’t commit treason.  But wait, there is an international manhunt for him because… he didn’t wear condom.  Remind me again, who won the Cold War?

UPDATE: Assange is an Australian living in Sweden.

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