Thursday, May 29, 2003

MOVING DAY: Thanks to the kindness of Dave over at Greeblie, we're moving on to better things and the world of Movable Type. You can visit us at our new home http://www.greeblie.com/curmudgeonry. Things are still sort of messy over there, because I've been sort of a dunce of late. I knew there was some reason sleep was necessary... We're looking forward to our new home as part of the Axis of Greeblie.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

PHEW! Note to self: "Deodorized" Fish Fertilizer will leave your yard smelling like a cannery. The stench is not worth it.

Friday, May 23, 2003

CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG: As I've always understood it, "undocumented workers" is just a way to say "illegal aliens" without being "judgemental." "Undocumented workers" are people who are in this country illegally, no matter what words you choose. And if they are in this country illegally, that would mean they are breaking the law. Right? Not apparently to NPR or advocacy groups -- in an article tonight on All Things Considered about the roundup of "undocumented workers" at the Chicago Sears Tower, the reporter talked about the complaints from immigrant groups and noted that the government considered it reasonable to arrest the workers, because (in her words) although most of them are "law-abiding" they might have information about terrorist activities or be easily turned to perform these acts of terrorism. Excuse me? How can someone actively breaking the law by staying illegally in the United States be "law-abiding?" Sure, they may not be murdering, robbing or anything else. They may simply be here working, but that doesn't make illegal immigrants "law-abiding."

Thursday, May 22, 2003

GUNS, REVISITED: Though I am not a gun owner (unless you count our Chinese blow-gun) and have never shot anything more powerful than an air-rifle, I still think arming the law-abiding portion of the populace is probably one of the best deterents to crime that there is. I never really hope to convince my liberal friends of this though, but for any of you (and you know who you are) who are interested -- Rachel Lucas, Queen of Guns, gave her class talk on gun control and passed on a lot of information that is worth making note of and taking to heart.
THE PRICE OF BEAUTY: Get this woman a therapist.
NERDINESS:


take the nerd test.
and go to mewing.net. a nerd utopia.
Hmph. I am too a nerd! This quiz was rigged! (Link via Jimspot)
AND THE GERMANS LOVE DAVID HASSELHOFF: That really says it all, doesn't it? (Link via Electric Venom)
HOW DO YOU ANSWER THAT? "Mommy, what do you call a girl cow? What do you call a boy cow? What do you call a girl sheep? What do you call a boy sheep?..." We have a lot of such conversations around the Adams' household. When we got around to what you call girl dogs, I was rather at a loss. Gregory Hlatky's blog dwells a lot on dog shows and he naturally refers to Miss Lacey as a bitch. That's what she is, after all. But did I really want to tell my three year old that? It isn't something I wanted to hear issuing from his lips during Sunday school or anywhere else -- no matter how appropriate. Fortunately for me, just as George asked the question, the baby started grumbling about the unfairness of her lot in life (or perhaps just because she wanted to nurse) and the distraction spared me from coming up with an answer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

ANY THREE YEAR OLD CAN DO IT: I think most of us have looked at some modern art and said, "Any three year old could paint that," or sometimes, "Any three year old could paint something better than that." Well now I have proof. Here's a picture my son painted at our last visit to ArtQuest at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and I don't think I'm just being a proud mama when I say I think it is as good as a lot of modern art I've seen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

STAGING A COUP: Those of you who come around regularly may have noticed that my dear husband, who started this blog and entitled himself the "Chief Pontificator" rarely pontificates (in print) about anything any more. I can only conclude that if you are here, it isn't to read what he has to say. Therefore, I am, as of now, deposing him from his former heights of illustrious granduer. BWHAHAHAHA! And thus begins my first step towards world domination! Let's see how long it takes before he notices, shall we?
THAT RELIGION OF PEACE: I took the kids to get their dose of culture the other day at the local art museum. The current exhibit is entitled Empire of the Sultans: Ottoman Art from the Khalili Collection and my three-year old son was fascinated by the jewel-encrusted guns, swords and armour. We got a lot of funny and withering looks from the usual suspects, when George kept saying admiringly, "Look at that *huge* gun, Mom!" While we toured the exhibit, I kept wondering why a religion of peace, whose followers our local paper The Tennessean recently described as being "peaceful by nature," were doing with all those weapons. I suppose they must have been used only in self-defense, of course.
I'M JUST A GIRL!: One woman I was in a class with in college thought several of her male professors were hitting on her. Another woman I know complains often that her PhD advisor doesn't take her seriously because she's a short, blonde woman. You read about other women who claim they didn't get the promotion they wanted or the raise they sought because they are women. Feminists often talk about the victimization of women -- they see themselves or others as oppressed, looked down upon or held back by their sex and/or looks. Now, granted I haven't experienced life as a short, blonde woman since I was about six years old and maybe the other girl was really getting hit-on by professors, something that certainly never happened to me, and maybe sometimes women do get passed over in the workplace because of their sex, but it always seems that those who believe most strongly in victimization are always the ones that are the victims. I can't think of a single time in life when my gender held me back or that some man got ahead of me, because he was a man. Have I just been oblivious or so beaten down by the white, male oppressors that I no longer can see my degradation? I don't think so. I don't set out with the idea that people are out to get me, stop me from reaching my goals or belittle me for being a woman, I assume that I have the same chances that every one else has. Some people might stand in the way of my accomplishments because they are jerks, but not because I'm a victim. As my daughter grows older, I hope she will not buy into the feminist line that she'll be oppressed or victimized because she's a girl. For all the strong woman garbage that feminists talk, they often seem to be the weakest of creatures -- victims of everyone. Sure, I want my daughter to be able to do anything her brother can do, but how far is she going to get if she's always watching out for the guys trying to hold her back? And now to leave you with a few lines from that other Addams family: Blonde Snotty Girl: I'll be the victim. I'll be the victim. Wednesday Addams: All your life.

Monday, May 19, 2003

BLOGGING ABOUT THOSE YOU LOVE: It can be a dangerous business to blog about friends and family, an article from yesterday's NY Times notes. I know several of my friends read this blog, but I thought I was safe from ticking them off by blogging about them since I try not to say things here that I wouldn't say to them in person and I also have never tried to hide the fact that I might occasionally use our conversations as fodder for my posts. However, I guess that never works. In blogs I generalize and become more hyperbolic than I am in person and even when a friend might know there is a slight potential that what they say might show up over here, seeing their thoughts and ideas ripped apart is never pleasant. So, I'm wiser now (and fortunately not friendless), but I really have not disavowed blogging about friends either. I will be extra careful to edit closely and play fair, should I chose to go that route though. (Link via yourish.com)
GOD'S SECRETARIES: THE MAKING OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE: Jonathan Yardley's review of this book by Adam Nicolson makes me want to break out my KJV again and dump the New English Bible (although I will say in its defense that it is infinitely better than the NIV).

Friday, May 16, 2003

THE FBI IS WATCHING: Does the federal government have a file on you? Interestingly enough, they may. And the files are web-accessible. Link here. (Link courtesty of Sasha Volokh.)

Thursday, May 15, 2003

HOW'S YOUR CIVIC KNOWLEDGE? I expect everyone should do well on this quiz or be very embarrassed.
ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS: Now here's a fun little time-wasting diversion. (Link via Kid's Korner)

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

GUN MANUFACTURERS -1/ NAACP -0: The NAACP apparently sued several gun manufacturers in New York for causing violence among minorities through their marketing tactics. The jury, which played an "advisory" role in the verdict, deliberated for 5 days before determining that Glock and Colt were not liable. They weren't able to reach a conclusion regarding Smith & Wesson, but the judge'll sort things out. Now how the heck did the NAACP get standing to bring such a ridiculous claim?
CHILDREN UPDATE: Since Amanda is blogging about interesting stuff, it is time for an update on the kidlets. It is hard to discipline a kid for impudence and defiance when you are rolling on the floor laughing. The other day I asked George to put some things away. First he told me that he "didn't think that would be fun" and suggested that I do it instead. When I declined, he sang, "This is the way I won't do it, won't do it, won't do it. This is the way I won't do it, because I won't." (To the tune of Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush) Today at story time, when sang a song that we sing every week about making a rainbow. George always likes to add his favorite color to the rainbow -- today that was maroon. And Philippa? She's disgusting. She tries to eat anything and everything. I caught her with dried bird poop in her mouth today. The early ability to crawl has not exactly been easy on me. But aren't they cute?
8 MINUTE DATE: A trend in the "desperately single" world is the 8 minute date phenomenon. This link is a clever description from a "been there" reporter. It seems kind of crazy to me. But then again, all the guys lingering in the local produce aisle are gay...
Poll Shows Most People Cannot Name Any Democratic Candidate for 2004: "(CNSNews.com) - A public opinion poll taken by CBS News shows that two-thirds of the American people are unable to recall the name of any Democrat running for president in next year's election. "So far, many voters have not yet made up their mind who to vote for in 2004," CBS reported. The poll contacted a random sample of 910 adults nationwide who were interviewed by telephone May 9-12, 2003. With the primaries almost a year away and 18 months to go until the election, the Democratic candidates for president are "not yet well-enough known for most respondents to volunteer any of their names. Only 34 percent of people can offer the name of at least one of those challengers - including only 36 percent of Democrats who say they can." The candidate most frequently recalled was Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), who ran for vice president in 2000 and was remembered by about 10 percent of the individuals polled." ... I wonder how many people will be able to come up with the name of the SNL actors who do the best caricature of the Democratic candidates...
ANTI DEMOCRATIC DEMOCRATS: I suppose as "Bush Country Correspondent" it is my obligation to comment on the flight of the Democrat legislators from Austin this week in order to avoid voting on congressional redistricting that would likely strip some of them of their legislative responsibilities altogether during the next election. Besides being antithetical to their oath of office, and the entire concept of representative government, the bill to the taxpayers will be about $2M if the governor has to call a special session to get the legislative work finished this year. If you'd seen my tax bill this year you would forgive me a little whining. If only they'd just stay permanently in Ardmore, Oklahoma. You know what they say -- Oklahoma is OK.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

STOP RUINING IT FOR THE REST OF US! Stephen Joseph, a lawyer out in California is trying to get Oreos banned from the state until Kraft stops making them with trans-fats. We all know that trans-fats probably aren't great for us, but then we all should know that processed foods aren't great for us. That's why one's diet shouldn't be founded on chips, cookies and things like that, but why shouldn't we be able to eat a few indigestible, fatty foods once in a while? Though I usually prepare almost everything from scratch and try to eat a diet of unprocessed whole foods, I, for one, am sick of the health nazis telling me what to eat and what not to eat. If I want to go on an Oreo binge and stuff myself full of trans-fats, I should be able to without the nanny state looking over my shoulder. When I wind up weighing 500 pounds, I think I'll sue Stephen Joseph for creating the unique mental anguish that caused me to gorge myself.
MONEY: The Treasury is going to be adding color to the twenty-dollar bill. I know that it is necessary to make changes to our money to keep ahead of counterfeiters, but the stodgy, curmudgeonly part of me really hates to see our money start looking more and more like the "play money" they have in the rest of the world.

Monday, May 12, 2003

DECK OF WEASELS: Now you can play cards even after Saddam is caught.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

UNFAIRNESS: When I opened up The Tennessean this morning, I saw depicted in full color photography the face of evil, or rather a face of evil, Karen Lynn Lovell, mother of a three-year-old son, holding a gun to his head. She had escaped from county prison, abducted her son at gunpoint from her sister, the legal guardian, and had finally been cornered after a car chase in which she ran down a deputy sheriff. She put the gun to the child's head and told the police she would shoot him if they didn't back off. Fortunately, a deputy sheriff shot her instead, in the temple. The police caught her son, spattered with blood, as she crumpled to the ground. Amazingly, she survived, for now. I have a three year-old boy too. I love him and hug him and play with him and make him sit in the corner or whap his backside as necessary. He's a good kid, and I often marvel at how lucky I am to have him and just to know him and watch him grow. And I fret about the days when I'm not perfect and I lose my temper too quickly or I can't find the time to do the umpteenth puzzle or whatever game he wants to play. Tonight I read him a story and we had our usual cuddle and talking time after the lights were out. When my son complains that I won't give him a second doughnut, toy, story, puzzle, whatever, I tell him that life isn't fair. That's how safe and comfortable our lives are; my son has learned the concept of "unfairness" by our unwillingness to give him what he wants, which of course isn't unfairness at all. Yet somewhere else in Tennessee another three-year-old is going to bed knowing his mom pointed a gun to his head, got hurt very badly, and is now now lying in a hospital. That little boy has learned unfairness not just from his mother's unwillingness to give him what he needs, but her willingness to harm him. I'm thankful some days, when I know I haven't been the perfect mommy, that three-year-olds' have fuzzy memories. For this little boy, I pray simply that he can forget, because I don't see how else he, or anyone else, could survive learning such a cruel lesson.

Friday, May 09, 2003

AN ANNOUNCEMENT: I hate mosquitoes. Thank you. That is all.
RANDOM GARDENING THINGS: (1) The calla lilies I planted and then found un-earthed and gnawed on by the evil bunny are actually coming up. I'm very excited and hope they bloom well. (2) I know with all the devastation that some people have been through with these recent storms that this petty, but the heavy rain has really beaten down my plants. My snapdragons are so bedraggled and I have very little time to play in the garden. My daughter seems to be a mosquito magnet and even if she has a good protective layer of repellent on, she still speed-crawls to the nearest plant, uproots it and stuffs it in her mouth. (3) The weeds are, unfortunately, not bedraggled. I can't believe how fast they can start to take over.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

IS THIS GOOD OR BAD? I'm 74% snob.
GIRL'S NIGHT OUT: Tonight, I left the kidlets with Daddy and went to "Girl's Night Out" with some of the other moms from the playgroup I theoretically take the kids to. Theoretically, because while we attended frequently when George was a baby, we've only been three times in the past two years. But I decided like it might be fun to have a break from the kids, so I headed off for a few hours of conversation and a scrumptious chocolate dessert. I had a great time doing something out of my usual routine, but I never cease to wonder why I, the fundamentalist, right-wing, ultra-conservative that I am, wind up in circles made up of hippie, communist leftists. These moms I met through La Leche League and we all breastfed long-term, but that really never seemed like a political thing to me. I don't see why one would have to be a leftist to breastfeed. So how come I never met any Republicans at the meetings? The women from my playgroup, not friends exactly -- I suppose they are really more on the level of good acquaintances, are all very nice people, but ultimately people I have little in common with. If we ever discussed anything deep, I'd probably have to loathe them because they believe in things that are fundamentally at odds with all my beliefs. I suspect also that if I ever discussed politics or religion with them, in depth, they would either find me rather loathsome because my views are so opposed to theirs -- or because they hold to a very live and let live sort of philosophy perhaps it wouldn't bother them at all. At yet somehow these are also the people who seem to draw me and those I am drawn to. Am I giving off liberal vibes? I find it very odd. Perhaps I need to bring more politics and religion into my casual conversation and see what happens. Or maybe it is better just to let the kids play and bash each other and for me to enjoy the occasional night of light banter with the girls.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

TWENTY QUESTIONS: The judge Justin clerked for while we were in Fairbanks, Alaska -- Andrew J. Kleinfeld of the Ninth Circuit -- is the interviewee this month in How Appealing's Twenty Questions.

Monday, May 05, 2003

BAGHDAD BOB'S NEW JOB: File 404? Or did it ever exist?
NEW! NEW! NEW! I've added comments to the site, just in case anyone has anything to add.
NYQUIL, HOW I MISS YOU! Growing up I rarely got medicine of any kind. My mom was the type who believed in letting illness work itself out. Then I went to college and dorm and cafeteria life hit me hard. I caught everything that came down the pike and many things that nobody else got. I quickly discovered Nyquil, the miracle drug. I loved Nyquil when I was sick. I only used it when I was sick, but what a wonderful thing it was then -- it did all the ads promised and I would usually wake up feeling much better. Since college I haven't been sick all that much, but when I do catch something I long for Nyquil. Unfortunately for me, I've been pregnant or nursing for the last 4 years straight now, so no drugs for me. Yesterday, I woke with a fever and a cold that had turned into a sinus infection. It would have been the perfect day to take my beloved Nyquil, but no such luck. The baby doesn't need to be getting any drugs passed on to her and besides we spent most of the day co-sleeping so I could get more naptime and I didn't want to be too out of it lest I roll over on her or something. Someday I know I'll be done with having babies and nursing though, and when that time comes and I get sick -- please pass the Nyquil.
SELF-AWARENESS, PEOPLE! PLEASE! Warm weather is here in the South and as usual this means people wear fewer and fewer articles of clothing and the clothing they do wear is skimpier and skimpier. While such items really seem hardly appropriate for anyone, do the heavier-set among us really think that it is a good idea to show off those extra layers of folds and fat? I don't particularly enjoy seeing teenage girls with perfect bodies exposing their bellies and most of their chests, nor do I like them parading in front of my husband, but most people (even teenagers) don't have perfect bodies and it would be nice if they recognized that fact. Instead we see women carrying an extra 50 pounds and several years past teenager-hood dressed in tube tops and those little exercise shorts with writing across the rear that make even size 0 women look like their derriere is huge. And less men think to escape my wrath on the subject, why do so manny think we want to see most of them uncovered when they run? Sure the women in swimsuits or bras are bad, but I don't want to look at men's chests either -- especially not the hairy, ape-like ones who seem desirous of showing off their manly chest and back-hair. Put on a shirt and some decent shorts, folks, and spare the rest of us the view!

Saturday, May 03, 2003

BEST FRIENDS: These days it seems like almost everyone has some sort of story about friendship and the internet -- either a love they met on the web or a long-lost pal they found again. I have two groups of good friends that I've now known for over 4 years, most of whom I've never met. They are my best friends. We "talk" daily.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

NO, I'M NOT SURPRISED: American Flag
United States Of America - The most well-renowned country in modern day times.
The only superpower
Known Worldwide
A Beacon to Others
Powerful

Which Country of the World are You?
brought to you by Quizilla (Link via adventures in ninaradioland)

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

BOYCOTTS AND SELF-DENIAL: Yesterday was free scoop day at Ben & Jerry's. I went twice. The second time, the man guiding us through the line told the crowd that they were celebrating twenty-five years of business, Earth Day and giving back to the community. While I wasn't there in support of Earth Day, I also wasn't about to jump out of line -- free ice cream is free ice cream, after all. I just don't do boycotts. I might joke about not buying French products, but if I saw something I wanted that came from France, I'd buy it, and the same goes for Ben & Jerry's or Newman's Own. I may hate the causes they give my money to when I buy their products, but I'm not going to deny myself excellent ice cream, salad dressing or spaghetti sauce because of it. I hate that Stonyfield Farm has a "Strong Women's Conference," but that doesn't change the fact that they have the tastiest yogurt. I don't like it that Nestle pushes formula on Third Worlders, but I'll still eat their chocolate. The French will always be French, leftists will always be leftists, which is to say, obnoxious, but their one redeeming quality is the creation of foods full of tasty goodness, and I, for one, will not use that against them.
Entish
Entish

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

GUNS: Minnesota passed a conceal-carry law and a friend of mine is "disgusted with [her] state." She seems to think that rampant violence will begin any day now and that shootouts will happen in every parking lot. Many states, of course, already have conceal-carry laws without an increase in gun violence. Somehow people like my friend fail to realize that, in general, the people seeking permits are the law-abiding ones. Criminals don't apply for permits, just like they find ways to circumvent background checks when they want guns. An irrational fear of guns makes no more sense than a fear of knives, chainsaws, or broken glass bottles. All them can injure or kill if used improperly, but as John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute noted after two law students with their own guns subdued the shooter at the Appalachian School of Law last year, "Research consistently shows that having a gun is the safest way to respond to any type of criminal attack, especially these multiple victim shootings." So the only people who should be quaking in their boots at the thought of an armed citizenry are criminals.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

MMMM...BEEF: The president of PETA is asking in her will that she be barbecued and her skin turned into leather as a protest against the mistreatment of animals. Somehow, she expects this to make us stop and think about the horror that she believes is done to animals, but actually all this will show is that skinny vegetarians make stringier, less tasty steaks than a good steer.
ALWAYS WHINING: When the French aren't complaining about and actively trying to thwart Americans protecting their national interests, they like to whine about other things -- like the fact that the lights put on the Eiffel Tower for the Millennium were taken down. But since the French love appeasing people (as long as they aren't Americans) they are busy stringing 25 miles of cable and 20,000 light bulbs to make the tower twinkle once more. It is nice to know that the French have things to occupy their time when they aren't surrendering to the Germans, winking at synagogue burnings or sucking up to totalitarian brutes.

Friday, April 25, 2003

DID YOU HEAR THAT? We here in the Adams' family are breathing a collective sigh of relief and screaming in delight (or we would be if we weren't too staid and boring for that) because Justin found out today that he passed the Bar. Just what the world needs, more lawyers -- right? Right? Guys?
GEORGE CLOONEY? Apparently he is my celebrity dream date.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

REASON #512 NOT TO BE A SINGLE PARENT: The other night the baby woke up screaming around 3:45. As I was crawling out of bed to check on her, I heard my husband say, "Why aren't you wearing any clothes, son?" It turns out the three year old had stripped off and climbed into bed with us. Now why had he stripped off? Well, the answer became readily apparent when his dad picked him up to return him to his room and clothe him -- Daddy got poop all over himself. The little angel had had diarrhea in the night and decided to share. So, while I was calming the baby and getting her back to sleep, Justin was hosing off the boy. Then I stripped sheets on both the three year old's bed and ours (he'd spread the joy around most effectively). Justin put new sheets on George's bed and then read him stories and got him back to sleep, while I replaced our sheets and started a load of laundry. As we collapsed back into nice clean sheets, the baby woke up protesting the inhumanity of her lot in life. Daddy brought her back to our bed and I nursed her and snuggled her and we all got a few more hours of shut-eye. Yawn.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

SOMETHING I THOUGHT I'D NEVER HEAR: Yesterday afternoon I was out drinking tea with two other moms while our three year olds were at music class. Though I know that both of my friends are far more liberal than I am, I never thought I'd hear, "Have you seen Bowling For Columbine? It was made by Michael Moore, who is so wonderful. I just love him!" come out of anyone's mouth. Yikes! Where do the Republican moms hang out?

Monday, April 21, 2003

NEIGHBORHOODS: Do liberals tend to live in old in-town neighborhoods while conservatives head out to the suburbs? Judging by the political signs, it certainly seems like it. We live close to downtown in an old neighborhood. Back during election season there were plenty of signs for the Democratic candidates for Governor and Senator and several for the left-of-the-Democrat Independent for Governor, but signs supporting Republicans were few and far between. Now there are tons of "Why War? Wage Peace!" signs in my neighborhood, but the "Support our President and our Troops" signs are very sparse. Not so in the suburbs. I took the kids out to the 'burbs for playgroup yesterday. We saw three or four houses with peacenik signs, but almost every house was adorned with yellow ribbons, American flags and signs saying "Another Family Supporting our President and our Troops". I really don't know why this is so. I see no reason why politics should draw people to one housing area or another. Preferences for old houses and small yards close to downtown versus new homes, large yards and a place to get away from the world of work seem apolitical. Perhaps there is more to it. I confess that though we've fantasized about the signs we could put in our yard and are pleased to see them in other peoples' yards, we've never put anything there. Justin and I just aren't sign-wavers generally. It seems like conservatives tend not to demonstrate as much as liberals and when we are on the winning side, why should we? Still, the disparity between the lawn signs ornamenting the Nashville suburbs versus those in Belmont and Hillsboro Village is striking and worth pondering.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

I WANT TO BLOG! But what with turning another year older this week, having practically every relative within 500 miles descend upon us for Easter and keeping up with a very fast crawler in a not yet baby-proofed house, I'm beat. I have no idea what's happening in the world, because I sleep through Morning Edition, don't have time to read the news, and am cooking dinner and keeping up with general house maintenance during All Things Considered. I promise I'll try to be back next week.

Monday, April 14, 2003

THE PATH OF DEATH: No, nothing to do with the war -- I just want to sing the praises of Roundup. I'm always loathe to use poisons, since I like to sit on the grass and my kids play on the grass and eat the grass, and besides I'm a compulsive weed puller, so I might as well put my neurosis to good use. We have a brick front walk that is always covered in weeds no matter how frequently I pull them out though. So, I finally gave up and sprayed it with Roundup and everything was dead within 24 hours. What a wonderful sight. Now I just hope it lasts for a while, so that I can get back to yanking the violets and dandelions out of the yard, which is much more pleasant than constantly pulling them from between bricks.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

GERMANS DECLARE WAR! On English words, that is. To punish the US-led coalition for waging such a mean, nasty war of liberation against Iraq, a group of German university professors propose replacing English words used by Germans with French terms. Used to be the French who were always on the verge of (involuntarily) learning German; now Germans will voluntarily start speaking French? How's that for a turnaround in world events?

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

COUNTING THE COSTS: When this war began, a friend of mine pitied the Iraqi children who would have to live through it, as did I, but unlike me, her solution to that horror was "peace," by which she meant stasis, doing nothing. But when the world keeps moving around you, just standing still isn't an option without danger or moral consequences. What do those who advocated "peace" -- doing nothing -- say to the 150 children the Marines freed from a Baghdad prison, who "had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Baath party ... Some of these kids had been in there for five years"? (Link via Common Sense and Wonder) Stasis would have meant their rotting away a few more years of childhood; action has meant their liberation. Of course our primary reason for this war is to destroy an openly hostile, terrorist-supporting state, not freeing children from Saddam's prisons. But it's a nice benefit, don't you think -- or is the horror of living through a war so great that these children would have been better off spending the rest of their lives in prison? Not that the moral calculus is that simple, between living through war and rotting prison. The cost of freeing those particular children has been the deaths of many other children, from babies to adolescents, some killed quickly, some killed slowly, some horribly maimed for the rest of their lives. We can't ever forget that. And it's worth wondering how we would react if we saw one of our little ones torn apart by shrapnel or, worse, horribly burned and left to linger in agony for days or weeks. Maybe I would go mad, and maybe would become fervently antiwar, because I don't see how what little capacity for objective reasoning I have could survive that shock of subjective experience. Those who have suffered so much can be forgiven for their inability to see the world through the eyes of reason. But those of us who haven't suffered that much don't have that excuse. If we are capable of reason, we have to use it, and if we use it, we have to conclude that the blame for most human suffering, however horrible, lays with evil men, not with the good men who try to stop them. "But that kid wouldn't be dead if we hadn't gone to war." No, that kid wouldn't be dead if Saddam hadn't created a terrorist regime that threatened death and destruction to millions. If we're capable of reason, we have to do what those who shout "peace" in the face of any threat to our way of life never do: count the costs of action and inaction, weigh them, and make a reasoned moral judgment about what to do. And then pray that we've made a wise choice.

Monday, April 07, 2003

MINISTER OF DISINFORMATION: These days my son is taking a page from Saddam's Information Minister, i.e. that if he repeats something enough, it will be true. For example, we have a rule that he can only watch one video a day and only after lunch. All last week, when he finished his breakfast of Cheerios or scrambled eggs, he'd push back his chair and say, with a brilliant grin, "What a great lunch. May I watch a video now, please?" When he senses that I was unconvinced by this ploy, he made a slight adjustment. Now, he requests grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast, on the apparent theory that if he eats lunch food at eight o'clock in the morning, it will be lunch and thus video time. Similarly, when caught in the act of toy theft from his baby sister, and knowing the rule that the penalty for toy theft is confiscation of one of his toys, he has taken to explaining that he was in fact only "showing her how it works" or that he was afraid the toy might be "too dangerous for her." And when this innocent, beautiful, three-foot tall human being shamelessly lies to my face, it's all I can do just to bite bite my tongue and hold back my tears -- of gut-busting laughter -- long enough to chastise the little blighter and try to teach him the value of truth.

Friday, April 04, 2003

REMEMBERING MICHAEL KELLY: When I was a reference librarian, I generally spent three or four hours at the reference desk each day. I rarely got asked difficult research or reference questions, so I spent a lot of time reading. One of the columnists I looked forward to the most was Michael Kelly. I enjoyed almost every column that he wrote and almost always sent them to my husband as part of his daily "reading assignment." Since I left the library world to stay home with my kids, I haven't kept up reading his columns coming across them only on those rare occasions when someone sent one to me to read and I was only vaguely aware that he'd left the National Journal for the Atlantic Monthly. Nonetheless, this morning, reading of his death in a Humvee accident in Iraq, I feel a real sense of loss and sadness. He was a writer and journalist worth more than Geraldo and Peter Arnett many times over.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

IT JUST ISN'T FAIR: Tonight we went to watch the Nashville Predator's last home game for the hockey season. The national anthem, as it does these days, left me teary-eyed (despite the annoying tendency of pop singers -- this time Shedaisy -- to over-sing it). Most of the game I spent watching CNN (we go to sporting events to give our son a thrill, not for the love of the game). The images of hungry, frightened Iraqi children contrasted sharply with that of my son, happily stuffing his mouth full of M&Ms watching all the hoopla, and of my daughter, fat, round, and utterly without want. Then the news of Pfc. Jessica Lynch's rescue flashed on the screen, and I thought of her parents, who must have been caught in a horrible limbo for more than a week, knowing their daughter was probably dead, but clinging to the hope that she lived -- that, in contrast with my life during the past week, when the spring days have been sunny and warm, our dogwoods are blooming, and I've spent the days weeding and planting flowers. It's unfair that I should be so happy while most of the rest of humanity should suffer so much, that my life should be so completely different from the lives of millions of other people. But it's the life I have, and I'd be dishonest and foolish if I said I would want to give it up, so that I could share in the misery of others. Besides, I'm not guaranteed to avoid suffering; I've had my share already and will probably get more in the future. Instead, I hope and pray that this war will improve the lives of those who survive it and that, when it's my turn to suffer, I make it through whatever lies ahead with grace, diginity and faith.
HOORAY for the CIA, Navy SEALs and Army Rangers who worked together to rescue Jessica Lynch! What a wonderful piece of good news.

Friday, March 28, 2003

FRIENDS AND WAR: I have a group of friends that mean a lot to me, but most, if not all, are more liberal politically and religiously than I am. This hadn't bothered me before; when we discussed politics or religion, I said my piece and moved on to the next subject. They tolerated me, I tolerated them. But during the build up to this war, and now that it has begun, I've found it increasingly difficult to keep my cool when discussing the subject and refraining from saying pretty nasty things to my best friends. It's not that they don't tolerate me; they do. I'm the one who has trouble being tolerant, and I'm not sure why. So, until I figure out the answer, I keep reminding myself that this isn't worth losing my friends over, not because the war doesn't matter, but because our disagreement about it is irrelevant to its outcome.
TIME FLIES: My daughter is six months old today. She's crawling, babbling and has a particular love for eating carrots, dirt, grass, and paper. I don't know where the time has gone since she was the tiny lump they laid on my chest after announcing, "It's a girl!"

Thursday, March 27, 2003

TWO REASONS TO SMILE:

Friday, March 21, 2003

CHILDREN AND WAR: A friend wrote yesterday:
With luck, my kids will grow up with no memory of this war. I hope, hope, hope that is true. And my heart is breaking for the kids in Iraq for whom that isn't true.
I pity those Iraqi children too, but I find it more heartbreaking to think of them spending the first years of their lives living under that monster Hussein's rule, and more heartbreaking yet to imagine them spending many more years -- if the anti-war/pro-saddam "peace" protestors had their way -- under his heel. And unlike my friend, I won't hide this war from my son, because I want him to learn that good people must resist evil and that resistance, not hand-wringing and spouting platitudes about "peace," is the moral course of action. I hope and pray that my children -- and Iraqi children -- won't have to fight wars of their own because good people now, led by President Bush who the "peace" protestors so revile, will eliminate the threat of outlaw states armed with WMD. But if we fail, or if this war can't be won in years, but in decades, then the next generation will have to carry on the fight and children like my son will have to learn the necessity of moral action over self-righteous preening. Besides, children aren't that fragile. In fact, it's almost unseemly the way we try to shelter them. Iraqi children have to live in a world of rape rooms and poison gas. Is it really too much to ask that our children know -- not experience, just know -- that evil men do evil deeds that threaten our way of life? My husband remembers his parents explaining the Cold War to him at age four ("The bad people have bombs and want to drop them on us, so we have to have bombs so that they won't.") and finding that explanation comforting. And why not? Parents teach their children that cars can squish them and strangers can hurt them; is it really just too traumatic to teach the little blighters the basic geopolitical facts of life? Of course, I couldn't hide this war from my son if I wanted to. What with the omnipresence of NPR in our household (we have a love-hate relationship) and his habit of coloring the pictures in the newspaper, he is quite familiar with President Bush and Saddam Hussein. In fact, just this morning he looked up from coloring President Bush green and asked me whether Saddam Hussein would ever learn to be good (he's a big believer in the basic goodness of people and possibility of redemption). So I told him the truth, that he's a wicked man who is unlikely to reform and that our country was fighting his country to take away his power. And my son said, "OK," and colored Hussein purple.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

HATRED, UNBUTTRESSED BY ANY SERIOUS INTELLECTUAL ARGUMENT: That's how Michael Barone described Daschle's recent comments and it really fits this statement that I hear over and over again:
I would support the war 100% if it was backed by a UN resolution and if somebody with two brain cells to rub together were in charge.
First of all, since when is the UN the final arbiter of morality? Either something is moral or it is not -- a UN sanction does not make something moral. And I always wonder if people who say this would have supported the war if we'd garnered the necessary nine votes, but had been vetoed by France. That would mean that really France would be the final arbiter of morality. Now there is a scary thought! And as for people who think a war is justified morally but oppose it because they don't like who is leading it, that is completely morally incoherent. Whether you like the President or hate him, think he's smart or dumb as a rock, should have no bearing on whether a war or any policy decision is worth making.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

SING OUT! To the tune of If You're Happy And You Know It --
If a fascist is a threat, take him out. If he’s training jerks who hate us, take him out. He’s proved that he’s aggressive, his weapons too impressive, Inspection’s ineffective, take him out. If the UN can’t control him, take him out. Twelve years he’s been stalling, take him out. He not only hates the West, but kills his people as a test, Let’s protect ourselves and help them, take him out. --by Fran of Northwest Notes

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

SEWANEE MAKES THE BIG TIME -- I know Faulkner claimed "at Sewanee they dont even teach you what water is," and for a large number of students that is fairly true, but I do sometimes wish Sewanee were know for its excellent professors, strong liberal arts tradition and cool Anglophilic traditions and not just for the beer swilling.
US vs. THEM: Our side has reality. Their side has fiction. Our side is serious. Their side is not.
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES: My three-year old likes to play every book we read and every video we watch. I rarely know for more than 30 minutes who I am, since my role changes often. Yesterday we were playing Monsters, Inc. and George was trying to decide who should take on the role of Randall, the bad monster in the film. I asked him if he could think of anyone who should be naughty and after thinking about it for a second or two, he said, "I guess Saddam Hussein should be Randall because he's a naughty man and Randall is a naughty monster."
EDUCATION: Susanna Cornett has a great post on teaching and educating those around you about what's happening in the world. Her arguments would also apply to discussions on matters of religion and faith, another subject we agree on for the most part.
WE ARE THE FOLK SONG ARMY: I hear so many friends and peaceniks on the radio say that they just hate the idea of war and it scares them, yadda yadda yadda. Do they think that those of us who believe Saddam must be removed by force actually like war? Like Tom Lehrer's Folk Song Army, "[They] all hate poverty, war and injustice, unlike the rest of [us] squares." I've been told that since Americans haven't fought a war on their soil since 1865, that we don't know what it is like or we'd be opposed to it too. So how did all the 20-year old appeasers learn so much -- have they lived through some war that I missed? Sometimes things are scary -- that's just life. Grownups must, at times, do things that are difficult, dangerous and scary. We look for the monsters under the beds for our children and now we'll be taking care of a real-life monster, so that the liberal children of the world will be able to continue on their petulant, fearful way, most of them ungrateful for the gifts and protection they have been given.

Friday, March 14, 2003

I THINK IT IS WRONG, BUT IF EVERYONE'S DOING IT I WANT MY SHARE! Freed-Hardeman University, supposedly one of the more religiously conservative Church of Christ-affiliated schools, is lobbying the General Assembly to provide equal lottery-funded scholarships to students at public and private Tennessee universities once the legislature gets around to establishing the lottery. Dwayne Wilson, Freed-Hardeman's executive vice president, says he opposed the lottery referendum and believes that creating a state lottery will be a mistake, but that whether his university's students should get the scholarships is a separate issue. Let's see if I understand his logic: lotteries are gambling, and gambling is sinful, so lottery revenue is literally the wages of sin, and bad, bad, bad, but my students should get their fair share. That's like saying, "You shouldn't have robbed that bank, but the church gratefully accepts your dontation of a portion of your ill-gotten gains -- that's a separate issue." Freed-Hardeman and other church-affiliated schools that purport to oppose gambling should be rejecting lottery-funded scholarships, not demanding their fair share. (Link via Theosebes)
DANGER ON THE ISLAND OF SODOR! A British psychologist is worried that children who watch too much Thomas the Tank Engine will become afraid of riding trains because Thomas and his pals get into so many wrecks. "As a result there is a possibility that the sheer amount of crashes they see on Thomas could frighten them," said Brian Young, a psychology lecturer at Britain's Exeter University. "Seeing lots of crashes on TV means they could end up absolutely terrified of going on a train." Next up: Dr. Young theorizes that, as a result of the sheer number of crashes toddlers experience while trying to walk, toddlers could end up absolutely terrified of walking and simple stop moving. Parents everywhere rejoice.
SPRING: I love the Spring. I love the flowers in my yard. I love going outside and digging in the dirt. I hate the @#*$^% rabbit that ate my hyacinths and wish it wasn't illegal to discharge firearms in the city. Maybe I'll have to try a little Tom Lehrer-inspired poisoning.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? Back in college when I was waifishly thin at 5'8" and 112 pounds, I still had a slight tummy. Even back then, I had no desire to expose said tummy to the world. Now, I have the stomach of a woman who has delivered carried two children complete with sags and stretch marks. Believe me, the sight of my stomach as it is now could probably be considered a WMD. No one wants to see it. Let's face it -- except for a few ballerinas and models out there, the female stomach is not really a thing of beauty. So what moron thought it would be a good idea to market only shirts that are 2 inches too short? Yesterday I was sitting in the car with the kidlets waiting for my husband to pick up a pizza (I can't be expected to cook all the time, now can I?) and I saw two college girls strolling along in their fashionable t-shirts and jeans. Both were of average weight and build, but their shirts were about three sizes too small. I don't want to see anyone's breasts in that much detail and tummy flab really is best left covered. Now really it isn't these poor girls' fault. The too tight, too short stretchy shirts are all that stores are selling these days. One just can't waltz into the store and leave with a remotely fashionable shirt that doesn't expose one's navel to the world if one's arms are lifted at all. Pair that with the hipster jeans are you have flabby belly sightings and crack problems all at once. It really is too much. Can some fashionista please start covering these unattractive portions of our bodies and find something a little more flattering????

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY: My five-month old is on the verge of crawling; she's up on her hands and knees rocking and throwing herself forward to grab things. She's decided she needs to get away from her big brother. I suppose this means it is time to buy baby gates and dig out the cabinet locks. I'm not really ready for two mobile children. The big one already has me running in circles. George is awfully cute these days, when he isn't having a three-year old moment. Our local library currently has a marionette version of The Tempest playing. We've been three times and George loves it. He knows all the characters and told me the other day that Antonio and Caliban are naughty because they want power like Saddam Hussein wants power. He's got a better grasp of these things than some liberals. Other than learning Shakespeare, it is all puzzles all the time at our house. George loves puzzles and will do them over and over again. He can do sixty-piece ones on his own, but the hundred-piece ones require a little parental help. If I'm doing mulitple puzzles every day, I get a bit bored putting the same ones together so I've been spending a fortune on new ones. I need to start a puzzle exchange club or something. Anyway, that's the Adams household in a nutshell at present. I'll be back with more scintilating rants and complaints soon.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

This is Women's History Month, so indulge me while I consider why it is that I shudder at the thought of most women running the country. Women are emotional. We often feel, cry, hug and love. There is nothing wrong with those things. However, one of the things I hate most about modern politicians is their need to "feel my pain." I want leaders that lead and are able to make hard choices, send Americans into battle, play hardball and not be too sensitive. Men can emote, but real men are also good at keeping a stiff upper lip and shouldering on when there is work to be done. Many women just don't think that way. That makes women perfect mothers, teachers, and nuturers, but often lousy world leaders. There are giant exceptions to that rule. Margaret Thatcher was as able as any man. If Abigail Adams had lived in another era, she would have made a great leader. When I talk to many of my friends, it sometimes drives me nuts to discuss politics -- not just with the liberals, but even with the conservatives, they tend to worry about the wrong issues.

Monday, March 03, 2003

A READER WRITES, IN A POLITE AND NON-FLAMING E-MAIL:
Does it not occur to you that people are protesting our going to war against Iraq because the administration has done such a horrible job selling it?
Though I've heard this before, it really doesn't occur to me, because the Administration hasn't done a terrible job. In fact, it's done a good enough job to persuade between 60-70% of Americans, maybe even more depending on the poll, that war against Iraq is justified. In a big, diverse democracy like ours, persuading fifty percent plus one is good enough, and President Bush, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld have done better than that. Some people will never be persuaded obviously, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the arguments aren't good ones.
War is a very drastic action, not something that should be taken lightly, nor used loosely. If I am going to support a war, I want a good reason. and I don't see it. I don't seen WMD. I don't see Iraq not cooperating with weapon's inspectors. I don't see Iraq not destroying missles that the weapons inspectors say are unacceptable.
I don't pretend to have the ability to persuade you. I can't even persuade my lefty friends. If you (like my friends) see Saddam Hussein's cat-and-mouse games as compliance, and see unelected, unaccountable foreign bureaucrats as the guarantors of our freedom and security, I don't think there's much point in arguing about it. I could go on about the government minders who sit in on interviews with scientists, the fact that Hussein secretly built the illegal missiles he's now destroying in violation of Security Council resolutions, the many things completely unaccounted for in the Iraqi's report to the UN, the intelligence Powell presented to the UN or the fact that we would never have seen any cooperation whatsoever out of Iraq without our military parked on its doorstep, but really we're just too far apart to achieve anything like a consensus. Thankfully, my side won the vote.
And if you're going to tell me next something about Sadaam being a horrible dictator, or a menace to humanity, I'll agree. But he is not alone. So do would advise Bush to start a war with every menace to humanity?
Why do people think this is a strong argument? "We can't get rid of every genocidal dictator all at once, so we shouldn't ever try to get rid of any of them." If I put that into practice is my own life, I would be paralyzed. I would advise the President to do what most people do to survive: prioritize. Maybe you disagree with his priorities. Fine. But that's a different and actually debatable point, unlike the argument that we should do nothing.
Is that why you support this war? Do you, first and foremost, want to liberate the oppressed Iraqi people? If that's true, why don't you just say that? Instead of petty name calling.
It is one of many reasons why I support this war, but no, my main reason for supporting war is not to liberate the oppressed Iraqi people. First and foremost, I want my government to begin eliminating state sponsors of terrorism, so that my country will be safer. I just believe that liberation for oppressed Iraqis is a nice long-term benefit, and dare to dream that with Saddam toppled Iraq might become the first Arab democracy, perhaps even bringing to the Arab world what people like you and me enjoy: freedom and security. Most people don't think it's wrong to do things for self-interested and altruistic reasons. In fact, most people figure it's even good when people do the right things for the wrong reasons, although here I think our reasons for going to war are good too. As for "petty name calling," when the pro-Saddam goons I saw in my own city and see on TV put away their "Bush is an International Terrorist," "Amerikkka," "Bush is Dumb," and "America: the Real Rogue State" posters and t-shirts, I'll be happy to respectfully disagree with them. When they will acknowledge that President Bush is acting in good faith, I'll acknowledge that they're opposing him in good faith. Until then, they have my contempt.
JOHN O'SULLIVAN'S RULE that all organizations that are not explicitly right-wing will inevitably become left-wing has proven true once again. Today, I got an e-mail on my nipple nazi nursing moms playgroup list recommending three upcoming performances of Lysistrata around Nashville to protest war against Saddam Hussein. The best part of the letter was the warning that the play "contains bawdy adult content. One of our players noted though, that the language of this play is not NEARLY as profane as the dropping of bombs on innocent people." Oh, how clever, how profound. Do the peace-niks really believe our military targets innocents? That if you stand around being innocent long enough, someone will drop a bomb on you? Why do people who take Saddam Hussein at his word when he swears he has no weapons of mass destruction and has outlawed them refuse to place the same degree of trust in their own leaders and soldiers? I know another thing that's more profane than Lysistrata's naughty words: supporting a vicious dictator who murders women and children, while accusing your own country of doing just that. And consider these two images at Cut On The Bias while you're at it.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

ANTI-WAR PROTESTS: Yesterday on our way to lunch Justin and I had the misfortune of driving through a pro-Saddam demonstration on the edge of Vanderbilt's campus. All the usual suspects were there -- the slack-jawed blonde wearing a "GW Bush is really dumb" t-shirts, the troll-like never sun-kiss'd creature wearing a "Frodo has failed: Bush has the Ring" t-shirt, the teenagers who think they're all grown up, and the over-the-hill hippies who never did grow up. I politely declined a flyer thrust through the open car window by a pro-Saddamite, resisting the urge to flip her off (in front of my children) -- I'm not that kind of girl, after all. What surprised us was the strength of our feelings: anger, disgust, loathing. We'd seen "peace" protestors on TV and in the papers, but they just seemed foolish. But seeing them in person, in all their willful dishonesty and hatred for America, we saw them for what they are, evil, or admirers of it or at the very least "useful idiots" as Lenin once named their ilk. We wondered how these people, who blather on and on about "peace" and "democracy," always end up standing behind some thug with his jackboot firmly planted on the collective windpipe of his people. The protestors' love affair with Saddam is like Jimmy Carter's twenty-year running tryst with Arafat: naively stupid on the surface, but consciously evil underneath. Still, we told ourselves, the pro-Saddamites don't matter. Our side -- responsible, grown-up, America-loving Americans -- has the votes; they don't, and never will. But we didn't believe our own argument, because in times past, people just like the "peace" protestors -- angry, juvenile, power-loving pseudointellectuals -- have gotten the votes, or at least the power, and gone on to kill their millions. That's when we realized what made us so angry. It's not that the pro-Saddamites haven't learned from history. They want to repeat it. Do you think this is too extreme? Do you want to point out that not all the protestors are ANSWER neo-Stalinists, that many really are just naive? OK, remember this: if these protestors win and prevent a war (which they won't) they will do exactly what they did before President Bush began threatening war against Iraq, either ignore the plight of the Iraqi people and Hussein's drive to acquire WMDs or actively help Hussein crush his people and get his weapons by working to end sanctions and inspections. I call that evil. Now, try explaining all that to a three-year old on the way to lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Better yet, don't. Sadly, he'll have ample opportunity to discover the idiocy and wickedness of some of his fellow men after he learns to read.
PRO-WAR RALLIES: Friday was a big day for pro-war rallies in Nashville. I drove past the Kurdish pro-Bush, pro-war rally on Broadway, which the pro-weasel Tennessean either incompetently or dishonestly (probably both) reported as an anti-Turkey protest. But I missed the other two pro-war rallies that day (that's what I get for listening to public radio and not AM talk radio), one hosted by local right-wing AM talk host Phil Valentine at the Parthenon, which had the added benefit of displacing the much ballyhooed Lysistrata performance at the same venue (which really ticked off the actors). A Ford dealership hosted the other rally, hilariously and brilliantly entitled "Bash A Peugeot For Peace," which invited citizens to work out their frustration with French weasels by taking a sledge hammer to a Peugot.

Friday, February 28, 2003

ART UPDATE: I was back at my neighborhood coffee shop the other day and they are still displaying the same wretched art I wrote about a few weeks ago. I was amazed to see a sold sign next to the painting Woman at a Urinal. I guess there is more than one person out there with no taste, but I am pleased to report that Sexy Minnie has not yet sold.
OUR BLOGIVERSARY was yesterday and I missed it. So did Justin, but since he was busy taking the bar, I guess he's excused. Thank goodness the bar over. He better have passed, because I don't want to have to go through all that again. Neither does he, of course.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

VACATIONS ARE IMPORTANT, DONCHA KNOW? I mean, why would you interrupt your Italian vacation just because your six children have been placed in foster care and with relatives after you left them with milk, bread, $7 and a credit card? And certainly it would be impossible to delay a trip to Mexico, just because you have to abandon your six-year old at the terminal to get on the plane. Relaxing and getting away really is everything isn't it? We should never let little things like responsibilites get the way.
THEY ARE POPPING UP ALL OVER: Peace activist lawn signs are sprouting around my neighborhood like dandelions -- nasty weeds. The two most popular ones say, "War is not the answer!" and "Why War? Wage Peace!". To the first, I always want to say, "That all depends upon the question, doesn't it?" There aren't any signs on our street yet, but Justin claims he's making a pro-war sign if any pro-Saddam signs show up. Here are two we are considering:

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

NOT THAT I EXPECT ANYONE TO CARE: But if you are wondering where everyone is around here -- I have two kids with colds and a husband taking the Bar Exam tomorrow. If you would like to come clean my house and cook something, I'd be happy to read the news and find something to say about it, even though that really isn't my forte. And if you wanted to come convince my daughter to sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch, I would love you forever.

Friday, February 21, 2003

BABY NAMES: I'm picky about baby names, as I've confessed before. I insisted we choose somewhat uncommon names for our two children (George and Philippa) but I also insisted that they be real names, properly spelled. I'm not the only name snob out there; Katie Granju has admitted to it too, but until I found this website, I'd never read anything so funny or spot on mocking some of the current baby naming trends out there.

Monday, February 17, 2003

ALMA MATER, ALWAYS PROUD: Vanderbilt joined four other schools in filing an amicus brief in the Univ. of Michigan case, in favor of affirmative action, and complaining that the University's First Amendment rights would be infringed if it doesn't get to consider race as an admission factor to achieve its educational mission. Almost makes you want to cry crocodile tears for the school which at one point in recent history had the richest students per capita in the United States.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

SLEEP (OR THE LACK THEREOF) is a common topic among my mommy friends. Every mother I know seems to suffer from interupted sleep on a fairly regular basis and most of them, whatever their parenting style, occasionally let their kids into their bed if for no other reason than to get just a little more rest. So it came as no surprise to me that a recent survey by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development showed that a lot more Americans are doing some co-sleeping than has previously been reported. I don't love co-sleeping and fortunately for me my son sleeps soundly through the night in his own bed most of the time and my daughter usually spends most of the night in her crib, but when chaos reigns in our household -- like last night when my infant woke up four times and my three-year old woke up three times, eventually we do whatever is necessary to get some sleep -- any sleep. For us that meant musical beds last night. My husband and I both spent part of the night sleeping in our son's bed after he woke up screaming; our daughter wound up in the bassinet in our room instead of in her crib, and by 5 a.m. all of us were sharing a bed. I look forward to sanity reigning once more, but until then I'll take sleep however I can get it.

Friday, February 14, 2003

IN HONOR OF THE DAY OF LOVE: Here are some "unfortunate Valentines" with hilarious commentary.
OF WRITS AND GUNS: The great debate between Americans who think the threat of force gets in the way of diplomacy, and those who think it makes diplomacy work, began, appropriately, at the beginning of the American Republic. The debate began with the Anti-Federalists, who became the Republicans, who more or less became the modern Democratic Party, who condemned President John Adams for responding to French aggression on the high seas by sending a diplomatic mission to seek peace -- and building a navy in case of war. The French began their revolution in 1789, which quickly turned into a preview of the great, wicked, bloody totalitarian revolutions of the twentieth century. This set off yet another war between France and Great Britain who, not highly valuing the rights of neutrals on the high seas, began preying on American shipping. Yet, having just seen his country through one terrible war with a European power and just begun a new constitutional government, President Washington determined to stay out of the European war. The Jay Treaty, by which American promised to let British creditors sue on their debts in federal courts in exchange for the British getting out of the Old Northwest, bought some measure of peace with Great Britain. But France interpreted the Treaty as a de facto alliance with Great Britain, and redoubled its depredations on American shipping, so that by the time John Adams became President, America and France were at war in all but name. And it was a pretty one-sided war at that, because the United States didn't have a Navy to speak of. Despite French provocation, President Adams remained determined to make peace with France. Yet the French made an honorable peace impossible, refusing to recognize our emissaries (and later demanding they pay bribes to be heard). Frustrated, President Adams called a special session of Congress and proposed a new diplomatic initiative, but this time backed by the credible threat of force. Simply put, Adams proposed that the United States continue to walk softly, but pick up a big stick along the way. The Republicans were appalled. Republicans, like Jefferson, had hailed the French Revolution as the offspring of the American and hoped that the France juggernaut would destroy Great Britain (while the Federalists, like Adams, were appalled by the bloodiness and depravity of the French revolutionaries, the democratic tyranny that had replaced the absolute monarchy, and, more to the point, the fact that the French were seizing American ships, killing and imprisoning American citizens, and insulting the honor, dignity, and sovereignty of the United States). The Republicans, including Thomas Jefferson, wanted peace with France at any cost, saw a military build up as an obstacle to diplomacy and a dangerous waste of money, and railed against Adams as a warmonger and a madman. But President Adams persisted, ignoring both the Republican demands to respond to continued French provocations with begging, pleading, and cajoling and the Federalists' demands to declare war on France and form and alliance with Great Britain. Instead, President Adams began outfitting a small navy, as well as American merchantmen with guns, and dispatched a new diplomatic mission to express his country's willingness to make peace and readiness to make war. It worked, at least temporarily; the French finally dealt with the American delegation and agreed to some semblance of peace (although France and Great Britain would continue to abuse American shipping until 1815, when Britain ended its war with the United States and Napolean's defeat at Waterloo ended the long continental war). There really is nothing new under the sun. When (mainly) Democrats and other anti-war politicians criticize President Bush for not "doing more" to win the support of our allies, for "rushing" to war, for not waiting until France and Germany bestow their favor on American foreign policy, they are repeating the mistake of President Adams' Republican opponents, believing that words and action, peace and war, are mutually exclusive options. In fact, they're complementary. Diplomacy consists of words, and words get their value from action or the credible promise of action. Writs don't run unless backed by men with guns. President Adams knew that, as does President Bush. They know that official edicts do not have inherent moral value. Civilized people may obey the law because they believe it's morally right to, but they have imbued those laws with moral value by vindicating them at the barrel of a gun and the end of rope. Without that vindication by action, words have no moral credit. At best they're bluffs, at worst blatant lies. Which is why, without any credible threat of war, the Security Council's many, many Iraqi-disarmament resolutions have become lies, and absurd lies at that, because their demands for disarmament and promises of "grave consequences" aren't even valuable as bluffs -- no one believes them, anymore than they believe Iraqi legislation "outlawing" weapons of mass destruction. So when anti-war politicians and countries like France and Germany demand that the United States abandon even the threat of war, what they really demand is that the UN perpetuate its dishonesty and impotence. And when the United States and Great Britain demand that the Security Council vindicate its own edicts with war, what they really demand is that the United Nations speak the truth and regain some measure of moral authority, or else quit talking. Thus the delicious irony: the "unilateralist" United States and its allies, who supposedly snub and undermine international institutions like the United Nation, are the only ones who want to take them seriously.
BUT NOT BEFORE noting that the President has placed the United States in that rarest of settings, the win-win situation. By this I mean the fact that, should our "allies" on the Security Council join with the United States and its ally Great Britain in authorizing war against the Hussein regime, we shall have broken the UN to our will and made it slightly less useless in the affairs of mankind; but if our "allies" persist in their course of appeasement, then the United States and its true allies will make war on the Iraqi despot anyway, destroying a terrorist state and any pretensions the United Nations and its French and German boosters have to moral or political authority in international affairs. Simply put, we either make the UN something less of a fraud, or expose it as one (along with the fraud that France and German constitute great powers, much less represent "Europe.") I can't see the downside.
MISSION: MEDIOCRITY: Studying for the bar exam is unlike any other academic experience in my life. The goal, lawyers and cram course teachers tell me again and again, isn't to be the best, or even above average, but just barely competent, just one point above failure. Having done 25 years in school and been only recently paroled, that advice sounds heretical. Never, from Kindergarten through my third year in law school, did I ever think, or did a teacher or professor ever tell me, "All you have to do is not fail." But that's all I have to do to get my law license in the State of Tennessee. In fact, that's all I can do, because the bar examiners have contrived such absurdly subtle multiple choice questions (two hundred questions to be answered in six hours, 1.8 minutes per question, with 120 out of 200 deemed a good score) and essay questions covering the breadth of Tennessee and general American law (twelve essays to be answered in six hours, everything from implied warranties under the Uniform Commercial Code to who gets the Thunderbird, two kids, and the frozen embryos in a messy divorce) that, as a practical matter, only a genius could excel! Indeed, the only reason to aim just a wee bit above that "pass" mark is that the consequences of falling just a wee bit below it are so utterly, unthinkably, nightmare-inducingly bad, foremost among them being having to take this accursed exam again, getting fired, and humiliation. Which is why I think I'll get back to studying.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

BEEF. IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER. I always knew there was nothing better than a good steak.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

JUVIE LIT, A DEUX: I've written about the wretched juvenile drivel out there before, but I've just read about another book to add to the list. Marcel Pineau has written Panic in Baghdad for nine to thirteen year old French youths. In it, two children of French diplomats slip away from the French embassy and hide out causing the US to hold its fire until they are found. By hiding out long enough, they manage to stop the war entirely. Of course, Pineau's plot depends on the assumption that the American street would see his kiddie collaborators as human shields -- and not targets.
A BIT OF VERSE:
The Pacifist Pale Ebenezer thought it was wrong to fight, But Roaring Bill (who killed him) thought it right. --Hilaire Belloc

Monday, February 10, 2003

COMPARING THE HEADLINES: U.N. Inspectors Fail to Win Key Iraq Concessions
--Washington Post
Top Arms Inspectors See 'Beginning' in Iraqi Cooperation
--NPR
So which is it?
MAKING YOU FEEL APPRECIATED: The Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Tennessee is giving out free socks to people on whom they do "random" shoe checks. That way they can make travellers feel "appreciated" despite the annoyance of going through security. Fixing the stupidity of the security system so that little old ladies in wheelchairs don't get searched would do a lot more to spare my annoyance than some free sweatsocks.
TOYS: Are toymakers just not creative these days or are Gen-X parents more nostalgic than previous generations? Suddenly, the toy stores are flooded with redesigned versions of all the toys my husband and I grew up with. Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and He-Man are all back. It is sort of strange to think of a new generation of kids getting into them and I wonder whether they will be as popular the second time around. Judging by my niece and nephew, who are hipper and more indulged than my kids, the toys are selling though. So when will Smurfs, Cabbage Patch Kids and My Little Ponies be hitting the shelves?

Sunday, February 09, 2003

HATE THE COLD? Don't move to the tropics! Spend a year in the Far North instead! It may be counterintuitive, but after our year's sojourn in Fairbanks, winter in Nashville, which used to seem cold now feels balmy. I used to put on long johns when the thermometer dipped below forty-five degrees, but now I can actually run around in the snow in twenty- and thirty-degree weather without a coat and feel fairly comfortable for short periods of time. Not only can I handle the cold with a lot more grace now, but I also think winters in Tennessee are short-lived and sunny. There's nothing like living in cold, cold Alaska to make you appreciate winter in the South.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

IMPROVING MY MIND: Despite going to Sewanee, a fine liberal arts university with an extremely good English department, I'm embarrassed to admit that I got out of college without taking a single English class. I managed this because I took a four semester Humanities course that covered Western Civilization from the Ancient World to the Modern and filled the requirements for English, Philosophy, Political Science and Art. It was a pretty good series of courses, but I've always seen it as a bit of a failing on my part that I never took English. In my favor though, I was a German literature major and I do have an MA in German literature, so I've done my fair share or literature reading and interpretation, I just haven't read much in my own language. So recently when I read that a friend of mine was going to try to start reading more literature, I decided I needed to do that too. I mean, post-graduate school and post-children, what do I actually read? Magazines, blogs, NRO and the occasional Regency romance novel don't quite fill up my head, at least not as I'd like it to be filled. This thrilled my husband the English major who has been making up a reading list for me. My major requirements have been that I not have read it before and that it be short enough for me to read without getting bogged down. So far, I've read C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce and Henry James's Daisy Miller. (By the way, am I the only one who sees major similarities between Daisy Miller and Thomas Mann's Death in Venice?) So here's my bleg -- e-mail me any suggestions of other short stories, plays or other works of literature that everyone should read. Maybe I'll get to them when I find the time.
CRUNCHINESS QUIZ: Whether you buy into the whole crunchy-con idea or not, some people are still definitely crunchier than others. Test your granola-factor here. I got a 41, so I'm only "sprinkled with granola."

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

JUST SHOOT ME: Is it just me, or is the "smoking gun" standard of proof, loudly demanded by the press and the anti-war crowd to justify war against Iraq, beyond idiotic? If you see a smoking gun, chances are someone just shot a @#$% bullet at you. If it hits you, you're dead or maimed, so having bullet-proof (ha, ha) evidence against the shooter won't do you much good. Fact is, only if the shooter misses, and gets taken out before he fires another shot, does the evidentiary value of his smoking gun do you any good. Does anyone really believe that's a sane standard for acting against a threat?
ETYMOLOGY IN REVERSE: The lecturer in my bar exam cram course on family law, a white woman, gave this hypothetical ground for divorce: "Your husband moves into a crack house in the ghetto." Gasps, then a swelling murmur, filled the room. It took me a few moments to register: my classmates, black and white, assumed "ghetto" meant "poor black neighborhood," and in America, I suppose that's true. But for some reason, what immediately popped into my brain was an image of very confused Nazi soldiers wandering about the Warsaw Ghetto looking for black people and only finding Jews. Ain't language funny?

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Consider the most popular pragmatic arguments against war with Iraq: Hussein might unleash terrorists (with whom he otherwise has no ties) or chemical and bio weapons (which he does not otherwise possess); Muslims the world over might hate us and thus bolster support for terrorists (although Islam is otherwise a religion of peace, and terrorism is unislamic); allied Arab regimes might become destabilized -- it's safer not to act. Seems to me these arguments all assume that inaction is not just safer in this instance, in terms of the relative risks (likelihood x magnitude of harm) posed by action and inaction in these circumstances, but is inherently safer. Their common theory is that in world in which we can't control what other people do or the unintended consequences of what we do, we get the most control -- by eliminating the most variables -- by doing nothing. Which would be true if the world were a giant pond and we were a lone, sentient, and mobile pebble wondering whether to jump in, or if life imitated Battleship (OBL: "Could you move already?" GWB: "Not yet. Still thinking.") But of course we're not alone: zillions of other sentient beings inhabit this world, some of whom want very much to kill us, and they don't have to wait for us to move before before they can descend upon us as some evil unintended consequence. In fact, they can just as easily descend upon us as the unintended consequence of our inaction.
PASS THE WHITEY CRAYON, PLEASE: When I recently went to an open house for a music class my son is taking, the teacher showed us around and proudly announced that when the children color she has People Colors for them to use. I'd never heard of People Colors before. They are 24 shades of skin color to encourage children to think about the diversity of colors that people come in. Holy propaganda, Batman! And talk about stupid crayon sets. What kid, no matter their skin color, wants to color a picture of their house/spaceship/whatever they are into at the moment in 24 shades of skin color? Blue, green, etc. are pretty useful too. I'm sure the educrats think that these kinds of crayons are very "validating," but do most little kids stare at their box of 96 Crayolas and wonder why their skin tone isn't in there? I know skin color never crossed my mind. Children I know are generally color-blind until taught differently. They notice race, of course, but they don't seem to make distinctions based on it. These crayons teach them to do that.
DEAR ABBY is a column that I have not made a habit of reading since I was in grade school, and so when I came across it today in newspaper in the break room I thought I'd take a gander at what free advice she's doling out in the post post-modern era. Dear as she may be, Abby (or her successor) is a fool, and a panderer to the art of moral equivalence. Today she suggests to her readers that it is untoward to share your religious beliefs with others. States she, "A devout and very sweet lady once told me she was 'sad' because she loved me and knew she wouldn't see me in heaven. I asked her why. She said, 'Because you haven't been saved!' Once I got over the shock that her heaven was segregated, I assured her that even though I might not be in hers, she would definitely be in mine, so please not to worry any further." Who knew that in addition to keeping up with a daily syndicated column, Abby is also dabbling in a career as god. Each of her responses regarding the topic are as unreservedly stupid as this one, though I don't encourage you to link to find out for yourselves.

Monday, February 03, 2003

SO YOU'RE AN ARTIST, HUH? My three-year old scribbles pretty squiggles, some of which even resemble circles. If I called him an "artist" you would mock me; if I mounted his "art" in semi-expensive frames and offered it for sale at the local coffee shop for hundreds of dollars, you might feel insulted. Which is how I feel whenever some self-described "artist" hawks his mediocre work at my coffee shop. Out of charity, the most recent offender shall remain nameless. His first offense: a woman in a black cocktail dress, in a dimly lit room, hiking up her dress so as to urinate in a urinal. This image is ugly, disgusting, and weird; these, I can forgive. But what cannot be forgiven is the execution, from the crude, thick brush strokes that give the image a leaden quality, to the kindergarten-quality depiction of the human form, to the flatness of the lighting. The price: $600. Next, for $900, the "artist" offers a large centaur, whose face vaguely resembles Laurel of Laurel & Hardy, whose one-dimensional body has no muscles, no skin tone and features a large smudge on the lower chest, as if the "artist" began painting the male organ, then smeared it out when he remembered that that wasn't quite where it belonged, even on a half-man-half-horse. The most egregious offense against art and my eyes is entitled "Sexy Minnie": a crudely painted Minnie Mouse head stuck on top of a poorly painted nude woman's body, although we are spared the indignity of yet another childish depiction of human anatomy by a drape covering the "naughty bits." His price: $1300. I rest my case. This "artist," like so many others of his ilk, believes he is entitled to ask large sums of money for his work because he painted really large canvases. That would be insulting enough, but there's more. He thinks he doesn't have to exhibit even the most basic skill because he's "cutting edge," because he paints ugly, disgusting, and weird subjects. No, no, no! Taste is subjective, and some people's tastes are sick and twisted, but even if they must create ugly images, they must create them beautifully -- with some skill -- before they can call themselves "artists" and ask money for their "art." You want to paint a woman relieving herself at a urinal? You want to throw blobs of paint at a canvas? Fine -- as long as you do it skillfully, in terms of color, pattern, technique, or something that distinguishes you from my three-year old. I won't buy either one, and if your idea of "beauty is truth, truth beauty" is a woman urinating is unusual places, I'll think you're a sick pervert who shouldn't be allowed in my neighborhood coffee shop. But least I won't feel insulted.
MY REGRETS: Only one reason why I found it not only impalatable, but impossible, to be a member of WLSA at Vanderbilt... At a lecture the group sponsored to "celebrate" Roe v. Wade last week, Professor Rebecca Brown opined, "'[a]bortion is uniquely complex from a legal perspective,' 'She added that the central question of Roe v. Wade is whether a state’s power to protect an individual extends to the unborn.'" "'Thanks to Roe v. Wade,' Brown said, 'the government can’t tell the individual how many children to have or how to raise those children.'" "'No government should have that daunting power in a free society,' she said. 'That’s the reason to celebrate.'" Astounding.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

OH NO! The public's support for war against Iraq is plummeting! We're doooomed! What? Really? Never mind.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

MUST HAVE SLEEP! Children are little darlings during the day -- except when they are spitting, calling people "Nimrods," throwing huge screaming tantrums in busy malls or engaging in other anti-social behavior -- but nighttime is really when the horror begins. Maybe I have no right to complain I did opt for this whole motherhood gig, but I will complain anyway. I like my sleep. I used to avoid college classes specifically based on too early a starting time. I also slept through an 8 a.m. class I was supposed to teach in graduate school. So motherhood is very rough on me. My three-year old usually (finally!!) sleeps through the night and my four-month old has figured out how to fall asleep at bedtime -- something it took her brother almost a year to master -- but she just hasn't figured out staying asleep, nor will she go back to sleep in her own bed once she's been fed. Every night my darling daughter starts hollering around 2 a.m. My wonderful husband gets her out of her crib, brings her to me, I nurse her and try to put her back in her own bed. It never works. She likes sleeping next to mom. I'm granola enough to like the idea of co-sleeping, but in practice it means that I don't sleep. So from 2:30 until George comes running down the stairs yelling, "Open your eyes! Get out of bed!" at around 7 a.m., I tussle with a restless baby who would happily be attached to my chest the whole time. I don't function very well on the three hours or so of unbroken sleep that I'm getting every night. I think I need a nanny on nightshift, maybe I can get one of those dewy-eyed attachment parenting gurus who know how to make every mother feel inadequate if they don't love co-sleeping, cloth diapers, want a minute or two alone sometimes and chose to wean after only twenty-five months instead of letting the child decide that it is time to wean and potty train at age five. Of course, too much exposure my turn my kids into flakes, but if something doesn't change soon, I may be willing to take that risk. Note: I am not saying that all APers are flakes, but if you think that without following an AP philosophy all kids will turn out miserable and/or criminal -- well, let's just say everyone I know who thinks that way is kind of odd.
A SAD DAY: The loss of the Columbia brings back all the thoughts I had as a child hearing about the Challenger explosion from my school principal, except that now I could not even for a few minutes hold on to a naive hope that the brave astronauts could have survived. My heart goes out to their families and I hope that the cause will be found and fixed soon. We must continue our space exploration.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Mmmmm...GARLIC! Lane McFadden reminds me of how much I sometimes miss Fairbanks -- and garlic pizza at Geraldo's.
BRIEF THOUGHTS ON PARENTING: 1. Lack of Privacy -- George (opening the bathroom door): Are you done pooping yet, mom? 2. Spit -- Spit is a great tool for parents. It not only cleans grubby little faces, but its great for sticking the suction cup bases of toys down to the tray on a swing or high chair. 3. Toys -- Any toy is fascinating if a kid hasn't seen it in a while. My three-year old is having a blast with all the baby toys I just unpacked. 4. De-Solv-It -- This miracle cleaning solution not only smells like yummy oranges, but actually takes regular, unwashable crayon scribbles off the walls. Not that I'm recommending letting your kids decorate the walls just to test it, of course.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

THOUGHTS ON THE DAY: On this day when many stop and reflect on the Supreme Court's 30 year old Roe v. Wade decision, others have said just about everything that there is to be said more eloquently than I can. I've been opposed to abortion ever since I've known what it was. I couldn't fathom someone considering that option and I still have a hard time imagining someone choosing to abort. I never felt personally involved until I had a baby though. When my son was born, I had someone's eyes to look into and imagine all those eyes that would never see. A year and a half ago, I got pregnant for the second time and my husband and I were excited to be adding a second child to our family, but at 14 weeks along we discovered that our baby had died at 8 weeks and I had a partial molar pregnancy, requiring not only a D&C but monitoring for months to make sure I didn't develop cancer. Knowing that I was going in to the hospital for a procedure that some women chose to do to eliminate "a bunch of cells" made that miserable trip even worse. I spent time imagining all the women who chose to have their children ripped out when I would have done anything to keep mine and all I could do was weep. Miscarriage is a miserable experience that was made worse for me knowing that other women who could have had healthy babies chose not to. My miscarriage had a happy ending. If I'd had that baby, I wouldn't have my four month old daughter. But I can't forget that baby nor can I forget or not cry tears at the thought of the 40 million souls whose mothers didn't want them.
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