Talking About Basic Nonsense

The often sensible if excessively socially conservative John Hawkins has a bizarre piece at Townhall.com that I just can’t resist going through. It’s long, twenty points, and that may be part of its problem. When you’re trying to come up with that much in the face of a deadline…

(Update: I will update this when I have a chance, to show the gist of each original point, so it will not be imperative to read the original to make sense of this. OK, paraphrase, condensed version or copy of point being addressed is indented above each numbered response.)

People who wish to change sexes should see a shrink. Apparently rather than being allowed to, on a reread of the source.

1. People who wish to change genders were not, last I knew, allowed to do so without the advice of a psychologist. That doesn’t mean it’s good advice. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an industry of enablers, as might also be the case with convincing people they have conditions that allow them not to work, or never to grow up, or to live as professionally needful whiners. “OMG I am crazy and always wanted to be a girl” is no excuse for not having a life and taking some responsibility. Nor is it anyone’s business if you want to invert or extend your parts, even if you will never look feminine, or masculine, so long as you are not a societal leech. You have the right to do it. Others have the right to mock it. Nobody but you has any obligation to pay for it, or your general support.

“Most people who remain poor over the long haul in America stay that way because of their own poor life choices.”

2. That sounds like something one of the Lucky Few Generation might believe, having hit everything just right. It sure helps to make good decisions, but conservatives who dismiss timing and luck as factors and are holier than thou just come acorss as low-credibility cretins. It also helps to learn the skills and principles associated with success and good decisions, which makes parenting a rather overlooked factor.

“Most black Americans are good and decent people, but percentage wise there are more black Americans in jail because percentage wise, black Americans commit a lot more crimes than white Americans.”

3. Maybe. Or maybe the pointless drug war goes after them disproportionately. Driving while black? How about toking while black. In any event, most blacks are good and decent people, some of the best, so no disagreement there. It is unfortunate that the fascist left since FDR has used them as a permanent underclass to gain and maintain power, though I perceive that to be eroding. For that matter, referring back to item 2, poor is the new black.

“As often as not in America, the people claiming to be “victims” are the real bullies and they don’t deserve anyone’s sympathy.”

4. No real comment here, since it only purports to be common, not absolute, and strikes me as true enough. There is an element of bludgeoning the rest of us with need, with a claim to being maligned if the sense of entitlement is denied.

Politicians are shameless liars because people vote what they want to hear, not truths.

5. An actual truth, as I perceive it, though given enough chance and impetus, voters might just surprise you.

We owe less to illegal aliens even than to foreign nationals, because they broke the law.

6. Essentially correct, if you operate on the basis of closed borders, and even if you subscribe to the “two hands, one mouth” theory of what immigrants, legal or not, bring. Since Mexico has an economy and we don’t, these days, it’s less of an issue, and it’s not an inverse issue, since Americans are less inclined to leave their family and walk a thousand miles in search of work most people wouldn’t want to do, out of desparation. Or they could stay home and make good life choices!

“Life begins at conception and having an abortion is no morally different than strangling your baby in the crib.”

7. Do we really want to go there? Having kids made me both more willing to accept abortion, and more appreciative of the little parasites developing to the point of intelligence and personality at some point while still in the womb. Until they are viably separate enough to be raised by someone not the biological mother, though, they are indeed parasites, and about as welcome as illegal aliens are to some folks.

“Most liberals aren’t patriotic and they don’t love their country.”

8. Maybe. Not all, but I certainly know some. Yet they would be first to have the schools use instilled patriotism as doublespeak indoctrination and a mind control tool. (Added thoughts…) It is far more important to love freedom than a given country. The same might be said of hardcore libertarians, who are loyal to positive principles more than to place or political status quo.

Avoid civilian casualties but ultimately lives of our soldiers rank higher.

9. Damn straight. Except we should not be involved in conflicts that make civilian foreign casualties a factor without incredibly good reason, none of which currently exist, even if they did in the last dozen years.

Ignorant, ill-informed rabble shouldn’t vote.

10. Arguably, perhaps, but the same sort of class superiority that makes you look down on the poor, and gives you more in common with the left than with real people. This statement is up there with “if you didn’t vote, you lost the right to complain,” which is one of the most shallowly ignorant sentiments I’ve seen. It never fails to make me see red. So are you going to be the one to decide, Mr. Dictator-in-Waiting? That’s where the sentiment leads.

“The only practical way to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is for the Israelis to transfer the Palestinians and take their land.”

11. Ah, Israel. Land that leftist American Jews refuse to support, at least as indicated by voting patterns, if not universally otherwise. Israel, and its annexed lands that the owning countries gave up on and didn’t want the residents back from. The ones who are Jordanians or whatever, but call themselves “Palestinians.” Yeah, keep the land. Evict the people. Even though Arabs live peacefully in Israel proper, and it’s probably the best place for them to be in the greater Middle East and Persia. A friend once told me, probably about 1978, that the solution would be for Israel to become an American state. Never happen, but amusing idea that’s never lost its charm for me.

This is a christian nation dammit!

12. This is a nation of religious freedom and open arms, which has something of a Judeo-Christian tone without being overtly religious. I wouldn’t say that makes it a “Christian nation” with “Christian principles.” I consider those who keep harping otherwise to be somewhere between looney and dangerous. Nor is the presence of “in God we trust” or a national Christmas tree worthy of concern to your average atheist, agnositic or pagan. Especially the latter to the latter, since it’s pagan borrowing.

“Men are just generally better at some things than women, just as women are just generally better at some things than men are.”

13. The most accurate thing yet. Men and women. We are not the same. Nobody is saying women should stay barefoot and pregnant, simply by observing reality. Duh.

Racism was once big deal, now a tool of phonies et al.

14. Another accurate item! “Racism” of late has become a cudgel, even as it’s fading away to nothing in reality.

“Long term, the only way our country can pay its bills is by asking everyone who’s not dirt poor to pay as much in taxes to the government as they’re given in services if they want to continue to receive those services.”

15. And hey, why not make the dirt poor pay and pay too, since that’ll teach ‘em not to make bad decisions. But seriously, this is too brief to be analyzed well, though it’s on the right track. Except… at this point, even that is not going to be enough to pay the bills, assuming we’re not talking about repudiating some or all the national debt that cannot ever be repaid without an explosion of productivity and fiscal sanity. Which, yes, would include people paying for services or not getting them. The more of them privately provided and not within the government sphere at all, the better.

Mother and father better at raising children than singles, gradparents or gay parents.

16. Two parental units are always better than one, unless that “village” is awfully responsive, and not too busy helping with someone else’s much older kids who are far more able to take care of themselves than yours. But… they can’t be gay parents? Seriously? Are you a fucktard? An asshat? Or grandparents?! What’s this, ageism? Does this apply to parents who are old enough to be grandparents? Why mess with the point of “single parents have it harder and are less likely to have great results” by bringing in extraneous prejudices?

Boy Scouts can’t survuve gay scoutmasters because lust trumps all, gay male to young male just as straight to young female.

17. But it’s OK to have a lesbian Girl Scout leader alone with your daughter? I know! Let’s make all Boy Scout leaders lesbians, and all Girl Scout leaders gay men. Problem solved! Or we could try our best simply to have responsible, trustworthy adults who are good examples and would protect and defend but never harm their charges. Naw, never work.

Homeless = mentally ill. Contain or help them in spite of themselves.

18. I missed this one on my original reading, perhaps because my head was spinning with WTF by this point. Not actually out of line, since the homeless problem originated with Reagan’s well-intentioned reduction of the former system for handling the mentally ill. On the other hand, where do we stop with the involuntary “help,” and ho decides “mentally ill”? Didn’t the Soviets used to lock up their “mentally ill”? When I was a kid, this was the stuff of nightmares for me.

“If you have good character, you should feel ashamed of taking food stamps, taking welfare, or being on a school lunch program.”

19. I daresay most people are, but it’s bad when that deters you from bothering at all. Further, what is meant by “school lunch program”? In our town, school lunches are $2.50 and do not serve $2.50 worth of food, and yet it has always been my understanding that even this is subsidized, which is why the feds exert so much control over it and have made it so kids throw so much away as unpalatable. If you are poor for your family size, actually the same guideline as SNAP (food stamps), school lunch is 40 cents, while milk alone is 50 cents either way. That is actually a worthwhile discount, since it costs us somewhat more than that to make a lunch. However, we make lunches half or more of the time, since so much of it is food the kids won’t eat, or can’t due to allergies. As far as I have ever been able to determine, free lunch only goes to kids whose parents are on food stamps. Ironic, since we would qualify, and could use the little bit it would provide, but I gave up on applying after the local food stamp office blacklisted me for rudely expecting them to respond to a renewal application after the one year we received benefits. Luckily, the year we most needed it. Of course, we probably made bad decisions that made us poor, which probably means we have bad character, so why would we have any shame? Glad you feel so superior.

Most immigrants should be well-educated Europeans, not losers from rest of world.

20. Racist! Well, maybe not, but think about it… doesn’t that sound like it? Except it’s not that so much as classism, which has been what much of the list was about.

Backpacks

I was thinking about backpacks just the other day. My three kids all had to have them to start kindergarten. It’s required. I already knew that they were pretty much ubiquitous these days, but…

I was in school until 1979, and never once had a backpack. Not even in high school. Nor did other people, at least not enough for me to notice. Books and such were carried in your arms. It was awkward, inconvenient, even sometimes painful, but at least during school there were lockers, and generally not everything had to come home overnight. Yet I am no sure how we managed without them.

College was different. While I didn’t start college until 1982, they’d long been a given in that environment. I may not have known that until contemporaries started college in 1978 and 1979, but by the time it was my turn, I knew to head to the store and spend $30 (in 1982 dollars! For one far less good than my kids have for much less!) in anticipation of the backbreaking load of books I would have to cart around.

Funny how that works, seeing the same topic addressed right after I’ve pondered it myself.

Mystery Solved

There is a mystery that has haunted me since 1971. I never knew the name of my first crush, in fourth grade. My second was not until seventh grade, and in fourth I didn’t understand what I was experiencing, except that it was magic, and how I always expected it to feel later on.

The girl in question was in my grade, but not in my class. Multiple classes would go to gym together, at least sometimes. The high point was in gym, learning some kind of dance that involved temporarily holding hands before changing partners. It was, to overuse the term, magic holding her hand oh so briefly.

The next school year, perhaps in part as I became more aware of what it was that had happened to me, I kept an eye out, but could never identify which girl on one of the classes it might have been. That seemed odd, and I was forever baffled.

I seem to recall associating her later with the song I Think I Love You, which I loved when I was in fifth grade, but don’t remember being aware of until then, though it came out in 1970 (fourth grade was 70/71).

Anyway, courtesy of Facebook, I am as certain as it is possible to be at this point that I know who she was. How amazing is that! The girl in question came late to the large number of former classmates who’ve friended me, just a couple weeks ago. I placed the name, but had no mental image of her. Apparently we rode on the same bus one year, and that’s mainly how she remembers me.

Another classmate posted a picture of her sixth grade class. It includes that new Facebook friend, looking very familiar. Two years later, but could it be….?

The clincher is that she was in my school through fourth grade, then moved away, returning halfway through sixth, in time to be in that 1973 class picture. Thus being unable to identify her in fifth grade, as if she had disappeared. It would have been easy to miss her return, and lose all track once we went to the larger school.

It made her day to learn of this, since she thought nobody liked her back then. It thrills me to have a name, and have her as a newfound friend.

More school lunch madness.

Eldest child decides she doesn’t want milk at lunch and gets water instead. Thing is, milk is included in the price of the meal, but she had to pay an extra 50 cents for the water.

So they want to cut the calories in the lunches but make them pay for the calorie-free beverage. Nice. #obamalogic

Outdoor Classroom

The elementary school attended by the older kids has a new “outdoor classroom” this year. While there’s probably some Gaia worship and being Environmentally Correct involved, it boils down to teaching kids about gardening. Sort of a miniature vo-ag program. They are learning about composting, for instance, which may be environmentalism, but it’s not extremism, and was something done when I was a kid and before, like, forever.

It occured to me that this is timely. If things crash to that degree, they could use the knowledge toward growing food. I like practical education. That is, if there’s time enough before it crashes, and of it doesn’t crash too hard even for that to matter. I’ve had a potentially lengthy post brewing in my mind about just what a crash might look like, and how socio-infrastructure inelasticity would have to affect it. (I love coining terms. Makes me feel like the Bernanke of phrasing, only not dangerous.)

Chances are that a crash won’t be so great as to mean mass death and destruction, unless there is a coup, which I started thinking about as a possibility a while back. Didn’t want to mention it aloud, since I remember how insane people sounded when they were frantic that Bush was going to cancel the election and stay in office. That would never have happened, since for all his faults, he is honorable and not that level of power hungry. Then I started seeing others mention it, including one detailed analysis of how it might go if Obama tried it. Right, Google exists! I think I read this one, which still sounded like it might be a bit over the top. Remembering that it said “Barack Obama is, unfortunately for America, a profoundly stupid man” made it easier to find with a search.

Anyway, I was a vo-ag student in high school, and I grew up about as close to farming as is possible without growing up on a farm. It makes me happy to have my kids learning something about one of my first strong interests/career aspirations. We had chickens. When I was very young we had ducks. I spread tons of manure from cows, horses and chickens. I helped plant, weed, and harvest vegetables. There was always a compost pile, if not any as intently managed and harvested as is possible. We did dig fresh soil from the the fully composted parts, but mostly it was a place to dispose of garbage and yard waste. It’s sad to live in a yard that, apart from being not ours, has no space for that. The closest I’ve come is pulling weeds from the flower bed in the front and leaving them to die and disintegrate as a sort of mulch on a bare area of my tiny adjacent herb garden.

I should take a cue from the school and my worries, and make even greater efforts to teach the kids the practical. Not just as a side note, like showing them how to build a fire when we were camping, and explaining the need for air flow. Or telling my son in passing yesterday how starting a fire by rubbing sticks together really works, since he picked that notion up somewhere. When my oldest was very young, as young as 3-4, I would give her pointers on what to do if she was trapped out in the cold, or lost. I sometimes have shown them what they can or cannot eat from “the wild.” They need more of that, alongside things like handling money, and the instilling of ideals. But I digress.

School Lunches

With three kids in school, and knowing what the lunches were like two years ago, I can tell you they’re a problem. I was unaware of the no modifications rule they mention with respect to tacos. It may exlain why my youngest, with residual dairy allergy, wanted to buy on a day they served turkey and cheese subs, figuring hold the cheese, and was not allowed to buy. They served him a bagel with sun butter instead. The strike doesn’t surprise me at all.

School Lunch Madness

On another school-related note, I am not surprised that there is a parody video regarding the worst first lady ever‘s pet school lunch policy. We’ve watched the school lunches go downhill since our second grader started kindergarten, becoming less likely to be eaten. If your kid won’t buy what they’re serving and takes lunch, well, I suppose that’s a form of freedom from nutritional oppression. Not to mention that if you’re paying full price the meals are overpriced. There have been complaints, albeit not universal, that this school year the meals are smaller and kids are coming home hungrier. Our kids get home about 3:45 PM. Some families are eating supper at 4:00 – 4:30 as a defense against the kids being snack locusts (more than normal) when they get home. Ours almost always wanted to snack on arriving home, but it seems a bit more extreme. Not a lot, but I haven’t correlated that to whether they have bought or brought, what and when their snack was, or whether they (allowed in the elementary school but not kindergarten) bought a snack or ice cream (available 2 days a week) in addition to lunch.

When I saw the policy requiring kids to take a fruit or veggie, I had images of trash cans filled with wasted food. Those poor starving kids in China! Er… or wherever, these days.

Speaking of the Bus Stop

The three kids are in consecutive grades, with the youngest now in kindergarten For the prior two years, the only people designated for the bus stop on this street were in this building, so we were able to get the bus immediately across the street. That was handy for being able to wait on the porch in weather, and for not having to walk any distance or be out sooner rather than later. It was a bit surprising to hit this year and discover that there were 5-6 other kindergarten kids on our street and around the corner.

Anyway,on top of what she said, there is also the matter of smoking. These parents who are so apparently helicoptery to their precious little kindergarteners (and older siblings), walking them right to the bus door for a long good-bye (and panicking because the older ones have to walk the half mile to the elementary school… can’t have free range kid practice in this dreadfully dangerous semi-rural town donchaknow), most of them smoke. Around their kids and around other people. At the bus stop. I found myself trying not to cough from it yesterday and thinking that I’d be an asshole to complain, because I hate to be That Person. It’s outdoors, after all. At the same time, my heart sank, imagining this Alll Year Long.

At least it’s transient, not like having someone on the first floor smoking all winter when the first and second floor apartments irreparably share air space. Still… Ugh.

Another adventure in modern parenting:

There was a big windstorm last night, followed by heavy rain. I believe there were supposed to be some actual thunderstorms somewhere along the line, but I seem to have missed them in my sleep.

So when H and I got to the bus stop this morning, there were, under one of the trees, a bunch of little branches. These were the perfect size: a yard or so long, with side branches and a thin tip that could be snapped off for a good sword fight. I picked one of them up, and then realized that I was off to the side of a crowd of other parents and their children. And I stopped.

I didn’t know if I would become *that* parent and make my kid into *that* child if I went down that route.

Now, I don’t know the other parents out there. To be honest, I’m not much of a talker first thing in the morning, and I have the feeling watching them that the only thing we have in common are kids in the same school. H seems entirely uninterested in playing with the other kids, and seeing as I’ve never seen one of them do anything other than stand by a parent and wait, I can see why. The little boy that my daughters rode the bus with ran and played with them before school, and we frequently had to herd all of them back to the stop when we saw the bus.

I had the feeling that with this group of parents, who still walk their kids all the way up to the door of the bus every day and stand and wave as it pulls away, using soaking wet sticks as swords might seem more than a little inappropriate. And yes, I wondered what the hell has become of the world that I had to stop and actually think about this.

The bus came before I had made up my mind completely, and it’s probably a good thing that it did. After all, while I was thinking I was also snapping twigs off of my sword-to-be.