sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

August 19, 2011

Penelope Trunk’s Blueprint

Filed under: relationships, society — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 12:19 pm

There is a lot to comment on in Penelope Trunk’s Blueprint for a Woman’s Life (via Instapundit).  Here’s what she says about marriage:

If you want to have kids, you should aim to be done by the time you are 35, when your eggs start going bad fast. This means you need to get started when you are 30, which means you need to get the guy you want to have kids with by the time you’re 28. People who marry too early are very likely to get divorced. But by age 25, you are safe from those statistical trends. So why not marry early? In any case, start looking very seriously for a husband by the time you are 24. Here is a blog post that summarizes this argument and links to the research to back it up.

The only thing shocking about this paragraph is that 24 is an “early” start.  When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, the popular wisdom was that a woman has to be done having kids by the time she turns 25.  In the 80s, college students were making their trip to ZAGS before receiving their diplomas.  Now Russians are also delaying childbirth.  I recently tracked down my former classmates.  Family planing-wise women my age fall into three groups:  First, there are the ones who followed the 80s path, got married and had children in early twenties.  Then there are the ones like me, who married and had children late.  The third group is comprised chiefly of those who moved to Israel,  married and had children early, but given how in Israel everyone is baby-happy, by the time their children were bni mitzvah, they observed plenty of women braving advance maternal age to have #6 or #7, and went for more.  Who knew Russian women were capable of bearing three or even four children?

Initially I planned on getting married early, only it didn’t work out that way.  Maybe I was looking for the right guy in all the wrong places, and, actually, I was about to give up on the whole arty hubby idea when I found DH.  It’s good that I gave myself plenty of extra time, then.  I don’t think starting to look at 24 is “early”.  I don’t think 18 is early.  Or even 15.  Mind you, a girl doesn’t need to sleep with her dates to be looking a for a future husband.  And if a girl is going to date, she might as well date the kind of men she can see herself marrying.

While it’s true that early marriage is correlated to divorce, correlation is not causation.  Certainly older people are less attractive to the opposite sex, but being unattractive didn’t stop many millions from having affairs.  Being older and wiser is a factor too, but then there is Newt Gingrich.

Two generations ago, people married early and didn’t get divorced.  It might just be that the demographic averse to divorces is the demographic that spends its early twenties establishing themselves and thus delays marriage.  Marrying within that crowd, even if the bride is 21, will probably not increase her chances of divorce.  Staying together while going to school and starting a career can be a challenge, but nothing is impossible for people in love.

The Generation X blueprint was “I’m going to wait until my late 30s-early 40s to have children because it’s, like, totally possible.  Like, my great aunt did it.”  I’m not saying it never works out, but my 39-year old neighbor conceived via IVF after three years of trying.  DH reminds me that for Bay Area the overall Generation X the blueprint is to wait for the inheritance.  Many an overpriced house was purchased with late great grandpa’s money.

I noticed that late motherhood ages women.  “Are you pregnant?” is often an uncomfortable question to ask a woman in early stages of pregnancy.  The uncomfortable question on the playground is “Are you a grandma?”  I asked it one time too many… actually just one time, I learned quick.  I was convinced that I’m talking to a grandmother.  Her kids were a little older than mine, and she had them in late 30s-early 40s, with difficulties and without much break in-between.  Pregnancy pounds are hard to shed, especially for older moms, and especially when they have children in quick secession.  Younger moms have an easier time keeping up with babies and toddlers.  They get tired, for sure, but they don’t seem to age so much.  If a younger mom lets herself go, she can put herself together and still look hot.  If a 40 year-old mom lets herself go, she’ll find a middle age woman in the mirror.  That woman I met on the playground was not 10 years older than me, but she looked like she was a different generation altogether.

Women who marry and have children early will sure miss out on some of these coveted Sex in the City experiences, but they will have some extra time to have an extra kid or two, as some of my classmates did.  They will enter the empty-ester stage quicker,  which will leave them with more time at the tail end of the careers, and more time to spend with their husbands while they are still relatively young.  Say, a woman who had one child at 24 and another at 26, will be 44 when the youngest goes to college.  She’ll be heading out to opera or the Wine Country with her still hot hubby when other women in her age group will be attending PTA meetings.  Something to consider.


August 18, 2011

Practicing for the Big Day?

Filed under: Israel, politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 8:30 am

Today’s terror attack near Israeli resort town of Eilat was launched from Egypt:

Seven people were reported dead and at least 25 injured in a three-stage terrorist attack along Israel’s border with Egypt on Thursday.

IDF forces were still searching the area around Eilat and the Egyptian border out of concern that there may be terrorists still in the area. Sources said that it is possible that there were as many 20 terrorist in the area, both in Israel and on the Egyptian side of the border.

They added that there may be another terrorist cell hiding in the area. IDF and special police counter-terrorist forces killed seven terrorists during the three coordinated attacks.

It appears that Israelis believe that the attackers, who killed 7 Israelis, were from Gaza, but entered from Sinai:

Earlier on Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the IDF will hunt down the perpetrators of the three-stage terrorist attack along Israel’s border with Egypt.

Barak said that Israel will strike back at the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza in response to the attacks.

Speaking from his office at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, the defense minister added that the IDF was assessing the security situation along the border with Egypt.

“The attacks demonstrate the weakening of Egypt’s control over the Sinai peninsula and the expansion of terrorist activity there,” Barak said, adding “These attacks originate in Gaza and we will act against them with full force and resolve.”

Eilat is at the very bottom; Egypt is to the left, Jordan -- to the right.

That for years now Gaza was shelling Israeli towns is the best kept secret in Western journalism.  However, a terrorist infiltration is something new.  Gaza-based HAMAS terrorist might be taking an opportunity of the Arab Spring that left Egypt weakened.  (What, no Arab Spring in Gaza, as if they don’t have totalitarian kleptocrats in charge?)  Alternatively, terrorists might be practicing for the forthcoming unilateral declaration of statehood by FATAH, which, many commentators believe, will result in a regional war.

August 17, 2011

A Whole New Outfit

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:33 pm

I’m not sure how savvy the mainstream media is at picking our next President.  They have to realize that the way things are going now, our next President will be a Republican, so it’s basically up to the Republican primary voters of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to pick our next commander in chief.  I suppose the MSM would prefer a RINO to Perry.  If NBC keeps infuriating conservatives editing Rick Perry’s tapes, they run a risk of driving the more conservative demographic to the primaries. (Via Instapundit.)  And when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Obama about Perry, the TV host allowed the President to attack the Texan directly.  Perry comes back hitting BO twice as hard:

..Thus endearing Perry to conservatives.  Not doing a very good job, are we?

The Republican Presidential field might get a tad bit more complicated, for me at least, just as Perry emerges as an early frontrunner, because Paul Ryan might jump in.  Here is Steven Hayward:

Paul Ryan is the most consequential House Republican since Jack Kemp in the late 1970s, and for the same reason.  Okay, I can hear the objections already—what about Newt?  […]  Kemp and Ryan are hedgehogs (“knowing one big thing”), while Newt is a fox (“knowing many things,” though arguably too many things).

Ryan wants to have an adult conversation with America about the looming insolvency of the welfare state, and he has a serious plan to fix it.  Like Kemp, lots of careerists in the GOP will head for the tall grass when the going gets tough, which I predict will begin on Tuesday afternoon, after Ryan lays out his budget proposal in more detail at a speech at my office, the American Enterprise Institute.  (I’m going to be on a plane at the time and will have to miss it, but you can watch the webcast.)  Ryan gave a preview of his plan yesterday on Fox News Sunday.

Ryan knows he will face rank demagoguery from Democrats over his plan.  He is not afraid of this, and in a face-to-face right he runs circles around every single one of them.  I suspect Ryan is one of the few Republicans Obama genuinely fears; after all, Ryan schooled Obama in Obama’s faux-“health care summit” early last year.  (Obama does not look pleased in the video.)  David Brooks reports, by the way, that Obama never picks up the phone to try to talk with Ryan.

Ryan is not simply fearless about the issues, he also gets the larger picture, and can talk about the larger picture in a way that Kemp often fell short.  Ask Kemp about any other question than taxes, and you’d often hear a rambling answer that tied inner city education problems to the gold standard.  That’s why his presidential prospects withered.  Ryan, on the other hand, has immense facility to talk about the broader principles of the republic; he’s not just a number-crunching bean counter.

Here is Fred Barnes:

Ryan has followed that advice rigorously. His motto is, “Inquire, inquire, inquire, read, read, read.” He has made himself an expert on the budget, taxes, and health care. Ryan knows more about the federal budget than anyone else on Capitol Hill and talks about it more fluently. Because of this, he was a shoo-in for chairman of the House Budget Committee last week, elevated over colleagues with more seniority. He will draft the House version of the 2012 budget, a document the Democrat-controlled Senate and the White House will have to take as seriously as the budget proposal of the executive branch, which the Obama administration is set to release early next month.

There’s an old Washington adage that Ryan personifies almost perfectly: Knowledge is power. He’s become enormously influential because he knows so much more than his colleagues on a few issues. And they happen to be the most critical issues in 2011—spending, the deficit, the national debt, taxes, Obama’s health care plan, the size and reach of government.

I watched quite a few Ryan interviews on Gretta Van Susteren.  He practically radiates wonkishness, which I find incredibly admirable.  I suppose it’s politics of personal identification.  Not that I know as much as he does, but I wish I did.  Incidentally, I never ever for a second believed that Obama was an intellectual.  I was skeptical about the authorship of his books even before people started speculating about it.  I seriously doubt our POTUS reads much, and his reading material seems a bit shallow.

People close to Ryan say he is not an opportunist:

“With Paul, it’s more about obligation than opportunity,” says another Wisconsin Republican. “He is determined to have the 2012 election be about the big things. If that means he has to run, he’s open to it.”

Just the kind of guy who throws your grandma off a cliff…

While most of us know Ryan for his tough stand on the budget, his voting record indicates that he is an across the board conservative.  I find it exciting that the WI Congressmen doesn’t simply believe in American exceptionalism, he thinks that America is the most pro-human idea ever.  And he co-sponsored acknowledgment of Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.  In other words, the kind of guy who throws grandma off a cliff.

Ryan’s hair makes him look like an extra in a Jazz Age film, how cool is that?

An iconic 1920s haircut.

Paul Ryan.

2012 Might not be Paul Ryan’s year.  He’s neither a Senator nor a Governor, although he’s been in the House for quite some time, since 1999.  Amazingly, his decade-long tenure didn’t turn him into a RINO, it turned him into a wonk.  Ryan is very young, only 41, and, given how he sees the big picture, his name will be popping up again and again.  A few years from now we might regret not taking up his Roadmap to America’s Future.

Anyhow, Ryan’s entry into the Presidential race, if it happens, will certainly complicate the outfit.  Because Ryan can hold his own, I’m going to post a picture of Calvin Coolidge’s wife in a red dress.

Grace Coolidge. Classy.

August 16, 2011

Russia in Afghanistan

Filed under: politics, Russia — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:02 am

That Afghanistan is a grave of empires is one of those endlessly recycled cliches with Russian experience sited as an example.

Soviet involvement in Afghanistan lasted from 1979 to 1988; during this period 14,453 Soviet troops were killed, or about 1,500 a year.  What’s 15,000 men for a country like Russia?  For comparison, the Soviet Union lost almost 27,000,000 soldiers and civilians in four years of the Russian involvement in World War II, with 80,000 dead in the final battle of the war alone.  Of course, that was under very different circumstances, the country was attacked, and the German onslaught stopped only on the outskirts of Moscow.  That’s true.  But imagine the mentality of people weaned on stories of the Great Patriotic war and the many millions lost.  While the Afghan war was unpopular, the 15,000 figure did not weigh too heavily on the Russian psyche, and in any event, even during Perestroika,  the Soviet Union was not a Western-style democracy, we didn’t have a large-scale anti-war movement, and there was a draft.  If the Politburo wanted to stay in Afghanistan, they would.

In any event, the Soviet empire fell apart a few years after the withdrawal from Afghanistan for domestic political and economic reasons.  Russia lost such prized possessions as Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Estonia and the Early Medieval Russian capital of Kiev.  Because of alcoholism, 25% of Russian men today are expected to die before age 55.  So, again, what’s 1,500 war dead a year?  I’m not even mentioning the Chechen wars.  OK, I just mentioned them.

One among many Russian Afghan War memorials, this one in Yekaterinburg.

Certainly, the war wasn’t free, but the cost of the Afghan war should be looked at in the context of the stagnant economy.  To make things worse, in the second half of the 1980s revenue fell as Gorbachev launched his anti-alcoholism campaign, significantly reducing the monies collected from vodka taxes.  Incredibly, vodka taxes constituted a quarter of Soviet budget.  All that as the Soviet Union was also trying to keep up with the arms race.  Withdrawal from Afghanistan didn’t save the Soviet economy.

Not to say that the Soviet Union wasn’t overstretched.  Afghanistan is a land-locked country, and by the time you get there you know you are overstretched.  One of the reasons Afghanistan is not much of a nation today is because no foreign power really bothered to do much nation-building there.

Today, American war dead are a different story.  We mourn each and every hero, like the 31 killed in the recent helicopter crash.  But if we don’t fight wars for treasure, what exactly is our end game in that land-locked country, and how are we going to achieve it?  Certainly the US is not obligated to do any nation building there just because we helped the Afghans to kick out the Soviets.  Can we trust the current occupant of the White House to achieve anything at all in Central Asia?

August 15, 2011

The Republican Presidential Field Is Still Like Michelle Obama’s Wardrobe

My eye doesn’t know where to go.

Lady O fashion

A rare August 2011 public appearance.

Bright cardigan with a bright contrasting tee.  Busy and bright unflattering skirt with a busy belt.  Most women who’d decide to wear the tee/cardi combo would settle on black or charcoal slacks or a pencil skirt.  Maybe brown slacks or a pencil skirt and a very simple belt.  It’s only acceptable because JCrew, ever ambitious to outfit MO, is doing an all brights collection, albeit with simple silhouettes and without boob belts.

Even after T-Paw bowed out, the Republican presidential field is still way too busy.  Even after subtracting obvious losers, like Cain, Santorum or Newt.  First, there is Ron Paul, who will never drop out, even after being compared to Medea Benjamin, which is what I’m going to do.

Medea Benjamin

That's Medea getting arrested.

I don’t know if Medea, like Ron Paul, supports legalization of heroin, but she certainly wouldn’t mind nuclear Iran.  By articulating the most asinine foreign policy non-agenda, Congressmen Paul undermined whatever ideas he has about the Central Bank.  Oh, and he also refused to condemn Hezbollah and Hamas.  That’s akin to Hitler-neutrality, which didn’t end that well last time it was tried.  Quite obviously the other candidates in the last Presidential debate luuurved his stance on Iran.  When he spoke, they smiled like sharks in the water: Now is my chance to look presidential, they thought.

Then there is Bachmann, of whom I am very proud for winning Iowa Straw Poll after that ridiculous Newsweek cover.  Quite obviously Michele is not an hysteric, I see her as a very calculated politician, who mounted a media campaign against Obamacare and jumped to the top of presidential contenders in this very crowded field.  She certainly comes across as uppity.  I don’t know why she once said that a wife has to be “submissive” to her husband and what it was about that particular audience that made her think that it would be acceptable, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the one ruling the roost.  Still, running for the highest executive office from a House seat is a losing proposition.  If she stays in the race long enough she might cost some votes to the other non-Romney candidate.

Tina Brown

That's Newsweek's editor-in-chief self-hating woman Tina Brown who is responsible for the ridiculous picture of Bachmann on the cover of her rag.

I’d very much like a non-Romney.  But rooting for a non-Romney is like looking at Michelle Obama and instead of trying to save her outfit, suggesting that FLOTUS start from the scratch and wear something classy.  In the real world we have to work with what we have.  Some suggest that Perry is too good to be true.  American Housewife in London defends him from the charges.  Some of the charges, though, like the mandatory HPV vaccine for girls, seem very minor.  I think I’m leaning towards Perry.

Unfortunately it looks like it’s Romney’s turn, although 2012 shouldn’t be Romney’s year, Romneycare and all.  Mitt needs to put an Evangelical Christian on the ticket to negate his Mormonism… unless he wants to double down on the exotic religion and get a Jewish running mate.  A bit like wearing a bright yellow cardi and a bright blue t-shirt.  Try to say something about his religion NOW!   A ticket like that is like a dare to Obama to revert to the religion of his birth.  However, in the spirit of keeping things simple, which is, incidentally, is my suggestion to improve Michelle’s wardrobe, I say he needs to pick an Evangelical.

Then there is Rudi.  Russian Jews love him.  In my previous post about Russian Jews leaning conservative, I forgot to mention that we are a tough on crime crowd.  The largest Russian Jewish community is in New York.  So, yes, we love how Giuliani cleaned up the City.  I’m not sure what he brings to the field this election cycle, so, I think, he has to be taken out of the equation like unnecessary belt.

UPDATE: Darn!  Forgot to mention that one guy whose name starts with an H.  He’s from Utah.  It looks like Michelle forgot to affix one of her oversize pins.

August 11, 2011

Multiculturalism Is Grand! Theft Is Ownership!

Filed under: society — Tags: — edge of the sandbox @ 1:39 pm

So, a “racially mixed” but probably largely black mob sets Brixton on fire.  The mob is beaten back by Kurds and Turks.  I’m sure the indigenous population can provide the soundtrack.  It’s so exiting, I’m on the edge of my seat.  Not that race riots never happen stateside, but we don’t have the same unique mix of cultures.  This particular Turks/blacks amalgam is intriguing.  Not that the black/Muslim thing has never been tried before, but it hasn’t been tried in the UK specifically.

Then there are the Jews.  Jerusalem Post reports:

One Jewish-owned store in Tottenham, north London, was targeted on Sunday. Hardware store H. Glickman Ltd, a family business set up in 1932, was smashed into and ransacked.

Meanwhile media monitoring organization Comment is Free Watch (CiFW), has condemned the Guardian newspaper for a story on the riots in which it found it “pertinent” to note that some Hasidic Jews had allegedly jeered police without mentioning the ethnicity of the rioters.

The paragraph in question, published in the Guardian on Monday, stated: “The make-up of the rioters was racially mixed. Most were men or boys, some apparently as young as 10….But families and other local residents, including some from Tottenham’s Hasidic Jewish community, also gathered to watch and jeer at police.”

“A 1,800 Guardian report doesn’t mention the race, ethnicity, or religion of the rioters, somehow found it pertinent to note that some of those who gathered to jeer police were, allegedly, Hasidic Jews,” CiFW said on Tuesday.

“Jeer at police”, huh?  I didn’t know Hasidic-police realations in London were so tense.  Maybe the Jews were “jeering” “Where have you been all day?”  It almost makes sense.  Part of me wants to suggest that those Hasidim go Kurdish, but I can see how they don’t want to jeopardize anything.  Maybe they should just make aliya, and actually serve  in the IDF.

Anywhoo, this is Crass asking “Do They Owe Us a Living?” and we already know the answer.  NSFW.

August 9, 2011

And Many More to Come…

Filed under: politics, taste — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 3:22 pm

So the White House did not release the pictures from ‘Bamster’s big 5-0 celebrations — because the optics are bad.    Judging by queries that brought people to my blog, the MO is rumored to have worn a read dress to the Chicago bash.  I would very much like to see that dress, as well as the one she wore to the Rose Garden BBQ ball.  Assuming that a designer gown fetches a hefty $10,000 by conservative estimates, between the two galas FLOTUS probably dropped 25K on herself.  I am curious about the results.  Mobamaheads are also left hanging; maybe this should be a clue.

Since I can’t let my readers down, I’m going to critique the outfit worn at one of the rare FLOTUS appearances last week. A photographic record of which was made available to American public:

Boob belt

July 2011.

Sigh.  V-neck shrinks her upper body and the boob belt in combination with the light blouse fabric makes her breasts look floppy.  Personally I don’t like the top, not my aesthetic, but there has to be a way to make it look decent.  However, the busy print clashes with the boob belt ornamentation, and the skirt is shiny.  So we are witnessing MoBama’s signature busy-busy-shiny styling.  Besides, a boob belt on a hot day?  Hmmm…  Perhaps this particular boob belt is thoroughly ventilated.

Since I couldn’t find the dresses with which the First Lady of Excess surprised hubby at Birthday balls, I’m posting some old party pics:

FLOTUS style

September 2009.

Here we have FLOTUS in a pastel sundress with a frayed hemline and a busy cat print.  The uneven tan probably has something to do with allowing the news media to worship her oh-so-toned arms.  The fabric is gathered around her stomach, drawing attention to it.  From there the viewer’s eyes follow the fold lines pointing to her ample hips.  She’s accessorizing with a long string of pearls.


FLOTUS style

August 2009.

Oh yes!  Can a lady toddle across ballroom wearing copious amounts of pearls over a glittery dress?  Only if the bodice squishes her breasts and slices into her stomach.

If you need to cleanse your palate here is Aubry Hepburn:

And here is Coco Chanel:

For a lesson on how a political woman wears a string of pearls, turn to Jackie:

Or even Margaret Thatcher who, mind you, never sold herself as a fashion icon:

Googling FLOTUS pictures and pointing out her fashion faux pas is depressing enterprise.  To think: the wife of the most powerful man on Earth wears a gold dress and then a silver dress to claim the most prestigious humanitarian award, which, by the way, everyone knows he didn’t deserve.  Seriously world, this is your moral leadership?

When Lech Walesa was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, the Communist Polish government wouldn't let him travel to Oslo to attend the ceremony. Walesa sent his wife and son.

MoBama’s get ups won’t decide the 2012 election, which is probably already decided.  However, Michelle the fashion icon myth was an important component of the Obama cult in 08 because it referenced the Kennedys and built up Barack’s “alpha” creds (if he is the One, he has to be paired up with somebody fabulous).  Once Michelle is established as a fashion icon, she can from time to time don a garment from an affordable retailer, like H&M or J Crew, which makes her easy to relate to and helps turn out the flaky young women vote.  But now that the O magic is gone, no amount of fawning Lady O editorials and focus-grouped every woman dresses will help.  Considering the horrible state of our economy, Barack is unlikely to be re-elected.  He must run, though: Michelle is having too much fun.

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