sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

September 21, 2013

Endangered Primordials

Filed under: education, environmentalism, politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 6:05 pm

From time to time I have an urge to go all Soviet on my kids.  Though my mom might disagree, I think I was far more disciplined when I was their age.  For instance, they waste loads of computer paper.  They take a whole bunch for drawing, don’t use most of it, and don’t bother to return what’s left.  They are too proud to draw on the back of an already used paper, and while I think I already lost that battle, I hate picking up slightly bent and somewhat soiled unused sheets that also don’t pass muster for them.  It all seems like a huge waste to me.  I don’t recall myself wasting so much paper, which, I think, was because it was related to me early on that we are not going to spend extra on it.  But everything is plentiful in this country.

It rained today in the Bay Area, a September rain is pretty much unheard of.  I am going to assume that it must be the new pattern of global cooling, because if my liberal neighbors get to attribute everything to global warming, now it’s my turn.  Like liberals I’m going to guilt trip the little ones into proper environmentalist behavior.  I’m going to tell my kids that if they waste any more paper, the dinosaurs will die off.

March 19, 2013

“Bang!” The Ban

Before I start this post, let me explain the title.  I wrote a bit about the plastic grocery bag bans sweeping California towns, and in the process discovered an excellent website that accumulates resources for the opposition; it’s called bag the ban.  I doubt any of my readers came across the website.  So why did I choose a title referencing a website my readers know nothing about?  Because I’m crazy, that’s why!

Which brings me to this.  Leslie Eastman noted that in California, the state uses its power to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens using the most tenuous mental health reasons (spending money we don’t have in the process):

Just last week, the California Senate approved a $24 million funding bill to expedite the process of collecting guns from owners in the state who legally acquired them but have since become disqualified due to felony convictions or mental illness.

Such was recently the case for one woman, who had been in the hospital voluntarily for mental illness last year that she says was due to medication she was taking. Lynette Phillips of Upland, Calif., told TheBlaze in a phone interview Monday she had purchased a gun years ago for her husband, David, as a present. That gun, as well as two others registered to her law-abiding husband (who does not have a history of felonies or mental illness), were seized last Tuesday.

“My husband is upset that they took the right from us that should never have been taken, Phillips told TheBlaze.

But according to the state of California, that doesn’t matter.

“The prohibited person can’t have access to a firearm” regardless of who the registered owner is, Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, told to Bloomberg News.

What’s “crazy” anyway?  In the 90s, the lawyer for the Unibomber was talking about the insanity defense.  In the Soviet Union, dissidents were shipped off to mental wards.  The GOP, I hear, can use less “nutters”.

The perpetrator of the Sydney Hook massacre, the massacre that caused the latest round of anti-gun hysteria, is said to have had Asperger’s.  Maybe he could had been diagnosed with something else, or perhaps he’s just evil, but arguably, Asperger’s is a form of normal male behavior, often revered throughout history — Pierre Bezukhov in War and Peace, for instance, was probably modeled on a person with autistic traits.  Today, 1 in 54 boys is diagnosed with autism, most of them have mild symptoms, and quite a few will outgrow their diagnosis.  How many “crazies” (and their relations) are we prepared to disarm?

A politically insane individual like myself is weary of denying the “crazy” their Second Amendment rights.  Sure, there are people out there, very obviously scary people, like the perpetrator of the Aurora mass shooting, who should not had been able to have access to firearms.  The problem with people like him is larger than possession of weapons.  The man should have been involuntarily hospitalized, and we do need to have laws for that.  In his case, a mental health checks to buy a gun would be like putting a band aid on a wound that cuts to the bone.  It does not address the underlying problem, and does not prevent him from, say, picking up a hammer and cracking a few people’s heads.  Furthermore, many people obviously in need of mandatory psychiatric treatment (take a walk in downtown San Francisco) are not violent or at least not capable of actually getting themselves to a sporting goods store and not freaking out the clerk.  What would gun checks do for them?

It’s very much possible that the Sandy Hook murderer would slip through the cracks and not be hospitalized.  But no system is perfect and life is full of unpredictability and danger.  And yet, despite the impression we get from the evening news, mass shootings are rare.  Parents of the Sandy Hook first graders can be consoled by the fact that their beautiful children died in an extraordinarily rare event, but it was an extraordinary rare event.

Lets look at the mass shooting in perspective.  The same people that are rallying against the Second Amendment are typically environmentalists, also rallying for grocery bag bans.  In San Francisco such ban is linked to a 46% increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses.   According to CDC estimates, 3000 people died of foodborne diseases across the United States in 2011.  If we are to implement a similar plastic bag ban on federal level, we should for 1380 dirty bag deaths — and I hope the turtles are worth it.  Sixteen mass shootings were perpetrated in the US in 2012, leaving 88 people dead, meaning that grocery bag bans are quite likely to be nearly 16 times deadlier than mass shootings.

“Oh, that’s just mass shootings,” my readers may say.  “But what about the murders committed with ‘assault’ rifles?”  Actually my readers would never ask a question that stupid.  They know that according to the FBI, in 2011 323 people were shot to death with rifles.   This means that grocery bag bans are probably more than 4 times deadlier than bad guys with rifles.

Clearly, some residents of “reality-based community” need to have their priorities straightened out.  Or else, their political convictions are more about identity, about sticking it to the bitter clingers, and not so much about saving life.  Or else they prefer to return to “natural” pre-industrial living, the one characterized by high birth rate and low life expectancy.  That’s totally sane.  And get this, if we actually subsidize birth control and stop breading, the Earth will be returned to the animals.  In this case nobody will be shooting those AR-15s.

So, dear friends, support life and liberty, our Second Amendment rights and oppose government’s intrusion into personal matters!  (Crazy, I know.)

UPDATE: Related: anti-vaxxers kill. (Via Instapundit.)

March 15, 2013

My Kitchen — My Rules

Filed under: Bay Area politics, education, environmentalism, politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:41 pm

What I love about Victor Davis Hanson is the breadth of his knowledge.  In his recent column Hanson described the emerging medieval social and political organization of California (via Leslie Eastman).  This structure rests on a “medieval” Pacific Coast state of mind, with environmentalism being one of the key orthodoxies of the increasingly unenlightened Golden State.

I have the misfortune to watch the environmentalist indoctrination in making.  The recent grocery bag ban enacted by the Alameda County is the most recent sour spot.  The ban, designed to eventually supplant all “single use” grocery bags, stirs residents of our counties (actually many municipalities in our state are heading this way) towards the use of grocery totes.  Considering that the practice creates a public safety hazard, the fact that the now illegal plastic bags are probably more environmentally sound than any alternatives looks like a minor point.  But the most egregious aspect of the prohibition is the effect on individual liberty.  All of a sudden, what I do in the privacy of my own kitchen becomes everyone’s business.

Scratch that.  Not “all of a sudden”.  Personal has long been political, and our kitchens have been sniffed out by the PC police for quite some time.  The government on all levels throws its weight around in favor of particular classes of appliances.  American law requires food labeling, and these requirements are becoming increasingly more extensive.  Considering the amount of social pressure to buy local and/or organic products, and the political outlook of the individuals who put this pressure on each other, a law prescribing the sale of politically correct groceries will be cheered on by a large segment of the California population.  Just as well.  We, California women, bought into the personal is political doctrine, so we have to reconcile with the political in our personal.  The kitchens, traditionally a personal domain of women, are now invaded by the PC police.

If a mom is not careful, her kids might act as an arm of the PC police — kind of like the kosher police.  An essentially secular in-law of mine enrolled her son in an Hasidim-run Jewish school with the reputation for academic excellency.  In a short time the boy took to inspecting her pots and giving her advise on how to run her kitchen.  Although she resented it then, towards the end of her life the auntie turned pretty religious and started keeping kosher.  Now, environmentalism is unlike a religion in that the older we get the less likely we are to accept it.  And so mothers of students enrolled in public schools might find themselves going through some dead-end nagging.  But, because unlike religion, environmentalism does not create a sense of connection with the past, mothers should feel in no way compelled to accept the dogma pushed on family kitchens through the educational establishment.

My daughter’s kindergarten class were once  subject to a f propaganda barrage connected with the bag ban.  And now I read about a posh local elementary that was visited by representatives of a local environmentalist group, who, I gather, gave them a talk on pros and cons of the ban.  All students of this posh elementary are above grade level, and all parents are the low level California aristocracy.  Don’t tell them you don’t shop at Whole Foods.

The fifth-graders were so impressed by the talk, they spontaneously decided to write letters to the newspaper to argue pros and cons of the bag ban.  For some not at all obvious reason, the overwhelming majority of letters were in support of the law.  The minority opinion was mostly concerned with relative advantages of recycling various material (the online version of the paper didn’t include the minority student voice at all).  Either we are so far gone here that there is no hope for us, or the students know something that they hesitated to put on paper.  With their names attached to it.  For everyone to see.  Forever.  Or perhaps what I saw in the paper is only representative of the children of the aristocracy.  Black people don’t care much for environmentally correct practices, and Hispanics think that since the white people ruined the Earth, environmentalism is for the Caucasians.  Well, maybe not all Hispanics, just the ones at UC Berkeley.  Viva la Raza!

As far as I can tell, the fifth graders that weighed in on the ban are well on their way to Berkeley.  For instance, one eager soul writes:

Many people are against it, but I think it’s the best thing that has happened to the county for a while.

Ask your mama if the ban is better than the reelection of Barack Obama.  And check out this budding statist:

The bag ban is amazing — a perfect way to motivate us to use reusable bags. It’s a great way to make a cleaner and greener world. So keep the bag ban up and running.

I wonder if they discuss, in their “social studies” class, what the Founders would think of the government motivating we, the people, to transport our groceries in a specific manner.

We tell our kids that we expect them to learn math, reading and writing at school, and that everything else is just someone’s opinion.  I will take responsibility for introducing them to great literature, science and history.  I just hope their teacher doesn’t press them into a letter writing campaign.

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?

January 22, 2013

A Future for Freedom

Filed under: Bay Area politics, education, environmentalism — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 8:53 pm

I wrote about our local plastic bag ban a few weeks ago.  Well, the other night during the dinner our 5-year-old told us that some man came over to talk to the kids about the ban at her elementary school assembly.  The need to inform elementary school children about the ban is not immediately obvious to this parent.

The speaker told students that when people don’t properly dispose of plastic bags birds and animals may get caught in them or eat them and die.  I’m sure he had a lot of other drivel to share, but that’s what our 5-year-old picked up on, naturally.  Me and DH looked at each other.  We talked about littering, and how all littering is bad, not just plastic bags.  Fortunately, however, people in our town are responsible and can be trusted to put their garbage into garbage cans, even without the new law.

We also said that paper bags are not very good because the break often, and that people use plastic bags again and again, in their garbage cans and to pick up dogs’ poop. We told her that it was wrong to invite the guy who talks about why he supports the ban, but not invite anyone with a different point of view, because there are many sides to this story.  DH said that we’d like to hear about what is going on at the assemblies, and that there will be lot of things she’ll hear in school, and that the most important are math, reading and writing.  Everything else is just someone’s opinion.

I don’t think there was an age-appropriate way to explain that plastic bags production requires fewer resources and is, therefore, cleaner.  So we didn’t go there.  But the most important point was yet to be made.  The reason we oppose the ban, we said, is because if some people think that paper is better, they can ask for paper, and if some people think that plastic is better, they can ask for plastic.  Or if a store decides that they don’t want to give out plastic, they can stick with paper.  This way everybody can do what they think is appropriate.  My daughter looked at me for a second or two and gave me the most beautiful mischievous smile.

January 14, 2013

Vegas, Baby

Filed under: Bay Area politics, blogging, education, environmentalism, fashion, local news, politics — Tags: — edge of the sandbox @ 1:23 pm

Returning from the annual Vegas trip, yours truly is happy to report that the Second Amendment in Sin City is alive and well.  DH’s uncle who lives in the area told us (and I’m not going to bother to fact check him because a) he’s reliable when it comes to Nevada news, and b) I’m lazy) that the trend for the casinos had long been to diversify, and that they now derive 60% of their profits from shopping and dining.  When DH had his bachelor party in Vegas some years ago, his friends took him to target-shoot machine guns.  The following year we noticed an ad for the range that they visited at the airport.  Now we see ads for gun entertainment everywhere.  Either our memories are wrong, or machine guns are the new big thing.

We usually try to do something that can count for culture on that side of the Rockies.  Since we’ve already seen Cirque du Soleil and we’ve seen Penn and Teller, we decided to move on to museums.  And, boy, are the museums in NV different!  Last January we went to National Atomic Testing Museum, an outfit somehow affiliated with the Smithsonian.  I’m not sure why the Smithsonian wants to have anything to do with said museum because the story of the atomic testing is told from [gasp!] the American perspective.  They do give voice to the hippies, as they should, because hippies made “anti-nuclear proliferation” their cause, becoming a minor part of the Cold War history.  The bulk of the exhibit tells the story of patriotic people who developed and tested nuclear weapons (or watched them tested).  The last room showcases the pictures drawn by schoolchildren after museum tours.  To my amazement, there was little pacifism on display.  Some kids even drew “peace through superior firepower” symbols.

This year we went to The Mob Museum, now located in the old courthouse downtown where some of the mob hearings where held.  (On the way to the museum we passed El Cortez casino that proudly  advertizes  that they accept EBT.  In the buffet, presumably?  I hope.  I should have snapped a picture of their marquee.  Note to self: when in doubt, photograph.)  I was surprised by the breadth of information covered by the The Mob Museum exhibits.  The artifacts, from the St. Valentine’s Day massacre wall to Tony Soprano’s wardrobe, were neat.  A Tommy gun, the mafia weapon of choice in the 1920s, was on display, and so were the late 20th century assault weapons, like fish hooks and blades.  An entire room was dedicated to mafia and the Kennedys, and the mafia-unions connection was likewise explored.  For the most part The Mob Museum presented real, honest history, although some exhibits were purely tangential.  For instance, is it at all relevant that there were black people at Las Vegas’s founding?  Including black gangs would make much more sense.

Needless to say, neither The Mob Museum nor National Atomic Testing Museum could exist in the Bay Area.  I guess there is hope for this country.

Speaking of the Bay Area, starting New Year’s Day, our municipality instituted a dignity tax.  What’s dignity tax, you ask?  It’s the 10 cent surcharge on every bag a store gives to a customer.  Plastic grocery bags are now banned.  Upon its enactment, the new law generated a lively discussion in the letter section of the one local paper that can still tolerate me reading their pages.  (The cherry on top was an unrelated letter from girl scouts chastising smokers.)  Some locals warned that for health reasons residents should be invest into canvas totes and duffel bags, and washing said bags after each use.  Like I’m going to haul bags to the store every time I buy $150 worth of groceries, and, after spending an hour shopping, commit another hour to doing a load of laundry.  Still, because reusable grocery bags pose a threat of cross-contamination and infectious disease outbreak, like the recent norovirus outbreak in a girl soccer team everyone likes to cite, I propose creating a national registry parents who, because of their narcissistic irresponsible behavior, expose their children to danger of reusable grocery bags.

Manhattan Infidel has some environmentalism news from the other side of the continent.

When we heard that the California Teachers retirement fund is divesting from firearms (you mean, that’s what they were invested in, up until now?), we bought some gun stock.  Meanwhile, from Legal Insurrection post of the day link we learn about an amazing 15-year-old who defended himself and his sister with dad’s AR-15.  Yep, there is hope for this country.

Professor Jacobson had a lot of fantastic posts on the Sandy Hook aftermath.  Among them is the story of the non-prosecution of David Gregory and putting pressure on Gannett corporate, the parent company of Journal News, to take position on the paper’s outing of individuals who own guns.  Holding corporate parent companies responsible is something the right needs to learn to do.  Leslie Eastman warns that California is targeted for enhanced gun control activism.  Seems like a good place to start, if you are an anti-gun nut.  If you for some reason don’t read Legal Insurrection, you should.

I’ve never understood how a feminist can be anti-gun.  After all, a gun is a great equalizer.  Men are superior to women in pure physical strength, but civilization gave us weaponry that makes us more or less equal in street combat.  On this point, see images at Bluebird of Bitterness and Maggie’s Notebook.

Speaking of pictures, after rare winter storms, Israel was covered with snow.  I loved Ann’s Opinions photo essay, and found some other great photographs.

Trendy photography from the IDF Twitter feed

The good news is that Russia is going wobbly.  Russians are floating proposals to give a NC18 rating to the beloved animation series Nu Pogodi (thanks to Harrison for forwarding this one to me).  Like all Russian kids of my generation, I grew up watching the series, which featured a lovable anti-hero and plenty of violence, including gun violence, though no gore.  All of you interested in Russian culture, do click on the link.  By the way, while my generation didn’t know gun ownership, we also didn’t know the “guns are icky” mentality either.  Our popular culture was replete with gun imagery, and all boys played with toy guns.  In high school we shot AK-47 blanks to fulfill our initial combat preparedness requirements.

King Shamus is having some fun at the expense of Obama voters.  It’s a soft target, I suppose.  This time the schmucks found out that their paycheck shrunk, which, evidently, was not on the list of goodies they expected from O.

I know why Armenians make good shoes — they’ve been practicing the longest.  In the Soviet days, Russian ladies bought Armenian shoes because they were well made.  (Take note, Anthropologie.)  And Russian ladies are always on the lookout for a good pair.

To buy or not to buy… It’s not like I need another pair of boots, but the price is right, and I’m sure they present a formidable challenge for Lena Duhnam

When I started blogging, I thought that it was better to write a few short posts than a single long one.  And now, mostly due to lack of time, I take so long to compose a link post, that whatever I set out to write keeps expending until… OK, I’ll shut up.

April 17, 2012

Pre-School Eco-Bullying

I suppose it only counts as bullying because everything is bullying these days.

Being a busy girl, Yelena had a habit of not wiping her hands after washing, so her skin turned dry.  I talked to her about drying her hands, applied moisturizer several times a day, and in a few weeks her skin was baby soft again.  Then all of a sudden her hands got dry again.

I asked her if she wipes her hands well in pre-school, and she said, no.  Turns out a certain Miss Smarty Pants admonished her for using more than a single paper towel.  Per Miss Smarty Pants it kills trees.  I can’t say I was surprised by this development.  I told Yelena to not worry about the trees because we will plant new ones, and that, in fact, we farm trees in this country.  And if Smarty Pants ever tells her that she can’t have another paper towel, she can relate that novel concept to her.

DH for his part told Yelena to use the grandpa rule: wipe her hands with a towel until it’s all wet before taking another one.  This way she’s using as much as she needs, but no more than she needs, which is always a good idea.

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