Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beyond Ludicrous Screed

Joe just posted this link on his facebook.   Read the article.  It only takes a minute. 

I am amazed at the stupidity of the statement,
'It's a violation to make, print or publish a discriminatory statement,' Executive Director Nancy Haynes told Fox News. 'There are no exemptions to that.'
Just think about this for a minute.  It is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.  I'm  not a constitutional lawyer, but I cannot imagine that a statement such as this can be legally defensible.

The third meaning from the Free Dictionary's Thesaurus function
discriminatory - capable of making fine distinctions
discriminating - showing or indicating careful judgment and discernment especially in matters of taste; "the discriminating eye of the connoisseur"
From Princeton's Wordnet, the first and third definitions of the verb and the adjectival definition,


  • S: (v) discriminate, know apart (recognize or perceive the difference)
  • S: (v) discriminate (distinguish) "I could not discriminate the different tastes in this complicated dish"


  • S: (adj) discriminate (marked by the ability to see or make fine distinctions) "discriminate judgments"; "discriminate people"

And again from Princeton's Wordnet, the second definition of the noun,


  • S: (n) discrimination, secernment (the cognitive process whereby two or more stimuli are distinguished)
I've included several definitions of discriminatory.  Please note, discriminating is not a universally negative thing.  We discriminate every time we make a choice.  Every time we hone a statement to eliminate confusion.  Every time we choose between right and wrong behavior.
I prefer wheat bread, please.

This store is too expensive.  Let's go to Goodwill.

No, no, please don't hit sister.
Come and get me,  Ms Haynes.  I dare you.  Sock me with a big discrimination suit. 

Obviously Ms Haynes takes this to heart.  She is incapable of discriminating between various nuances of the word, "discriminatory".  Every homophone must from henceforth remain ambiguous.

I can see I'm going to have problems with this.  I've always prefered clarity.  Oops, there I've blown it already.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If I Were a Wealthy Man

Perhaps I've posted this video previously.  Sorry, if it's a repeat.  Mentioning it it the previous post made me want to see it.

A Public Radio Synopsis: Some fun, some not so much.

I don't often listen to the radio around home.  I have trouble with the extra noise in my life.  But when I'm in the car, I do like to listen.  Especially if I have a car full of kids, I am much more able to tune out the backseat commotion, if I have the radio to concentrate on.

Generally, I listen to conservative talk radio.  But on weekends, or on the winter evenings after the sun goes down and our AM stations power down for the dark hours, I listen to public radio.  Usually I listen to the news/ talk public radio, but I will also very occasionally listen to the music stations.

I had to go into town this evening.  On the way there, I heard mark Levin interview Sharron Angle, the Senate candidate who is running against Senator Harry Ried in Nevada. I've heard much about her, but this is the first I've heard her interviewed.  She seemed very knowledgeable on the subjects and very fluid in her communications.  She had a pleasant speaking voice and seemed able to laugh at some of the difficulties her opponent has thrown in her path.

On my homeward trip, it was already dark (6:30, grr.  I know, in two weeks it will be an hour worse, then by the winter solstace, it will be worse yet again, double grr).  I was unable to get reception on any of my normal stations.  I first tuned into an AM Canadian station.  I didn't catch any of the names or even the station, but the topic was Canada's being awarded the Dodo award at the biodiversity conference in Japan.  The Dodo award is "named after the dodo bird, the quintessential symbol of biodiversity loss."  One of Canada's sins...they allegedly hold too rigid a position on the use and promotion of biofuels.  Apparently African nations are concerned that after all these years of developing agriculture in their countries, they will have to use their land for fuel rather than much needed food.  There is also concern that global trading of carbon emission will also take crop land out of food production.

Imagine being concerned about something like that.  What's feeding the people compared to biodiversity, anyway?  This is so symptomatic of this crowd.  Mother earth and plants and animals above humans.  At first glance, I'm glad the developing nations are rebelling against it.

I should add that although the station, being Canadian, only mentioned Canada as the Dodo recipient, the EU also shared that honor.   It almost seems backward to me.  I mean, the award is supposed to be given to the nation or group that hinders the efforts at biodiversity.  But the biodiversity nazi countries who seem to want to cram it down everyone's throat are getting the awards.  If anyone can explain this conundrum, please do.  Perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye.

After this cheery interview, I switched to MPR station 102.7 FM.  I tuned into Lisa Mullins and her PRI show, The WorldMore cheery news.  Apparently Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth.  Our American soldiers are putting their lives on the line, our National budget is funding the expense of rooting out Taliban forces from Karzai's country, and American dollars are helping him to develop his country and economy.  Meanwhile, he is also taking money from Tehran to support the Taliban.

But now we get fun.  Sony will no longer be manufacturing its Walkman.   This little blurp is great to listen to, if only for the retro music they pipe in behind the interview to get us all in our Walkman mode.  Great fun.  Unfortunately the clip on the website doesn't include the final music which was a song I haven't even thought of for years and cannot even now remember.  It was a good one, too.  As my kids would say, "Oh, snap!"

 Then came an interesting discussion of Isreal's growing ultra-orthodox Jewish community and the burden this community is putting on Israel national economy since the men don't work, but study Torah all day.  It reminds me of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof.  He wanted to sit at the city gates and advise people on spiritual matters.  But Tevye was not wealthy, so he had to provide for his wife and daughters.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stepping on Toes in the Nation's Capitol

Picture yourself in an urban area rich with restaurants of a variety of ethnic traditions.  I use State Street in Madison Wisconsin as my model.  I haven't been there for years, but I can't imagine it is much changed. 

When walking down that street, each few steps tantalizes ones taste buds and digestive juices with a different olfactory experience.  Here's Chinese... now brats... ooh, fresh baked bread... espresso... Middle Eastern... hamburgers and fries... gyros... North African.... Mmmm. 

All combine into part of the urban experience.

But the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson wants to take a part of that experience away from one Washington, D.C., neighborhood.  Steptoe and Johnson has filed suit to close the local hamburger joint, Rogue State Burgers, because of the offensive cooking smells.  And D.C. Superior Court Judge John Mott, has ordered the restaurant closed. Click here to read the text of the sign put up by the restaurant owners.

On exactly whose toes is Steptoe and Johnson stepping? Obviously Rogues States', but also those of their customers, and even the toes of those who just enjoy that rich urban neighborhood food smell.

On the flip side, Rogue States may be stepping on the noses of the Steptoe and Johnson employees and clients. 

Perhaps the burger joint should change their name to Stepnose Burgers.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Poems and Paintings

I'm once again starting a new blog, Poems and Paintings: Day by Day.  One of my long term plans is to edit a poetry book that includes a daily poem and coinciding painting or work of art.

I plan to be adding to this blog little by little.

Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Top Five Pieces of Homeschool Advice and One More

I've been homeschooling for at least twelve years.  That figure is somewhat squishy depending upon at what age of preschool/kindergarten/first grade-ness one considers their child as starting school.  My oldest child is seventeen and a half, and a senior in highschool. Define it how you will.

Sometimes I have people ask me what it's like homeschooling; or how I do it with so many; or what advice I'd give new homeschoolers.  In public service, after a person has stepped down from active service, he or she is called an elder statesman/person.  His or her opinion is sought after and respected just by virtue of his or her past position.

Now I am only homeschooling one child (unless I am teaching four, there is that aforementioned pre-school squishiness).  I might consider myself an elder matron.  I'm no longer immersed in the homeschool world.  But merely by virtue of my past work in the field, regardless of the merits of my ideas, I am asked.

Well!  I've always given my opinion readily, but now I have some status, I guess.

Here is my list of top five pieces of homeschool advice.
  1. Focus on the one thing needful.  Spiritually training our child(ren) is really our primary parental responsibility.  How does this work out in real life?  Each family will fulfill this differently.  But it must be fulfilled.  
  2. This one is kind of a continuation of the previous point, but it is needs it's own number.  Take time to think about and write down your long, medium and short term goals. This will give you a rubric against which to measure your days.   And it will help you make time for the spiritual things even when it seems there is just no time.  It will give you justification to leave that load of laundry or that sink full of dishes or that football game or piano recital.  It will help you decide whether to include Latin or violin in your days and weeks.  All of the above are worthy things.  But only one is needful.  I've written in the past about time management (It has it's own indexed link, but this is my favorite).  When a couple decides to school their children at home, they are adding a large chunk of time to an already stressed parental and homemaking load.  Something has to give. Having written goals will help you decide what that will be.  Having long, medium and short term goals will give your goals perspective.
  3. Don't compare yourself to other homeschooling families.  All kids are different; all families are different.  Temperaments are different, abilities are different.  Teaching styles, learning styles, home management styles, discipline styles...all different.  A husband's career may effect how things are done.  Does the mother work part of full time?  Are there two parents in the home?  Are the parents and kids motivated?  Curious?  Physical?  Active?  Thoughtful?  Quiet?  Loud?  Witty?  Each personality will result in different combinations of everything.  It's really easy to beat yourself up as a homeschool mom when other kids appear to be further ahead or better behaved or more athletic or more curious or more responsible or more of anything...Don't give into that temptation.  Your kids are great, unique persons.
  4. All kids are smart; it's up to you as a homeschool parent to find the way to reach them; or to find their smartness. It may not be the same way for any two kids.  Be creative, be insightful. Watch. Listen.  But don't bind yourself to traditional pigeon holes.  They may not work for your child.  Each of us has a unique God-given personality and has been called to unique God-given vocation(s).  Sometimes that involves traditional paths; other times it does not.  Be content with and even rejoice in who you are, who your husband is, and who each of your children are.  Remember, God gave to you your particular child(ren) because you are the best one for them.
  5. Trust in God and His promises and His guidance.  He will direct you along the paths you need to travel.   Don't fret about what curriculum is best or what teaching philosophy to follow or at what age to introduce which outside activities, etc.  It's OK to consider such things, to read about what others think, and to discuss things with those whose opinions you respect.  But don't cross the line into worry.  Sometimes it is easy to be fearful.  Since a homeschool parent is the primary person responsible for all aspects of a child's development there is a big temptation to take it all too seriously.  It's easy to wallow in worry.  It's easy to feel our responsibilities so heavily that we become paralyzed when confronted by life's many different choices.
And finally, one more.  It's not so much a homeschool tip, but a homeschool attitude caveat.  Something with which I've had to struggle recently.  We as homeschoolers can be a bit self righteous.  I don't mean this in a bad way, necessarily.  But it can easily cross the line into a bad self-righteousness.  We have chosen a lifestyle that involves huge sacrifices in order to give our children the very best homelife, education, and religious training we can.  It is such an obvious decision to us.  This is so very, very obviously the right choice.  Why doesn't everyone choose this?  Duh!

But we must guard against judging others.  God uses many different kinds of individuals and many different kind of families.  He has not given you your neighbor's or brother's or best friend's child to raise.  We need to let those people make their own best decision for their own families.

But here is the flip side of that.  The thing with which I've had to wrestle lately.  Don't bind yourself into a homeschool mentality.  Those of us who are called by God to school our children at home often see that as our primary vocation.  This is the lifestyle choice that defines our parenting philosophy.  But things change.  God may put additional jobs before us; one of our previous tasks may need to bump homeschooling out, temporarily or permanently.  Think of homeschooling as an option to fulfill the academic aspect of child rearing.  If any of the other aspects of child rearing are being neglected, that may be an indication that something needs to change.  That change may involve a different educational choice.  It doesn't have to be a permanent change.  But sometimes things do need to change.  It's easy to put homeschooling on such a pedestal that it becomes an idol.  If we trust that God is guiding us, we have to listen to His prompts.  Sometimes that involves doing things we may not have been able to imagine doing previously.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Favorite Piano Pieces

Now that my kids are in school, I've been taking advantage of my new found (relatively) free time to play a bit more piano.  I'm not really much of a pianist.  But I enjoy doing it.  I play better now than I have in the past because I play for the Sunday School kids when they sing in church.  That keeps my fingers nimble and makes me take time to practice.

But now I can play a little bit just for fun.  I still can't play much Beethoven, but it doesn't keep me from trying.  He is my absolute favorite composer.  The power in his compositions always amazes me.  The richness of the harmonies is stunning. 

But few people play Beethoven really well.  Every once in awhile, after I've butchered one of his pieces sufficiently, I have to download a audio file to remind myself what the pieces are supposed to sound like.

Pathetique is my favorite Beethoven piano Sonata (opus 13).  And Freddy Kempf plays it so very well.

Man, I wish my fingers could go like that!

I also enjoy the frolicsome sound to Rage Over a Lost Penny (Rondo a Capriccio opus 129). I didn't find a video with Anatol Ugorski actually playing, but the audio on this one is terrific.

Hope you enjoy listening.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A few posts ago, I posted Steve Lee's I Like Guns video.  This is the The Lee Band's cover of It Ain't Me, Babe.  I think it is very well done.

It has an upbeat sound that makes me happy listening to it. I listened to versions by several artists and I think I like this one better than any of the others. It is somewhat hard to compare, though, because the artistry in the video contributes part of my enjoyment. The versions by the older artists are either life performances or coupled with a still shot or a collection of still shots. Trying to separate the music from the visual impression is difficult.

This version by the song's author, Bob Dylan is not appealing musically or visually. It is rather moody and uncomfortable.  Perhaps a little travelogue through the counter-culture of the 60s and 70s.

It looks like many people covered this title, and I listened to parts of a few of them.  Nancy Sinatra, The Turtles, Joan Baez, and others.  I read through some comments on some of the videos.

It seems as though most listeners favor the song done by Johnny Cash and June Carter.  I found the following rendition sung by them that someone put together using some very touching photo shots.