Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food for Thought

"Today, people are beginning to understand that the government's account is overdrawn, that a piece of paper is not the equivalent of a gold coin, or an automobile, or a loaf of bread—and that if you attempt to falsify monetary values, you do not achieve abundance, you merely debase the currency and go bankrupt."

—Ayn Rand, "Moral Inflation," The Ayn Rand Letter, vol. 3, no. 12, p. 1

For more information, please visit the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

Tools for Girls

As someone who found the "Chess for Girls" skit on SNL hilarious and as someone who likes to give color coded tool sets to young women heading off to college, I laughed when I saw this image in an email entitled "If Women Ruled the World".

While I truly appreciate having the correct tool for every job, I have been known to occasionally fall prey to the heel and knife mentality.

How to Go A-Black-Berrying

Start by wanting to write about the original Iron Man (Giles Corey) with the intention of tying it to the release of the movie, Iron Man, today. Realize the poem attributed to Longfellow (albeit William Wadsworth Longfellow) is more interesting than the anonymous one in the Giles Corey link of yesterday’s post. Find out that Longfellow wrote an entire play on Giles Corey of the Salem Farms, but fail to locate the sought for poem. Find another play, Giles Corey, Yeoman, written by Mary Wilkins, free on Guttenberg Press. Go back, search more. Find peine forte et dure an interesting term in Law French. Seek to reaffirm the meaning of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Again Law French.

Seek to better understand Law French as a fascinating explanation to our court system and its history. Follow Fee Simple link (one used on the title of your property and mine), marvel at the etymology:

Fee - A right in law to the use of land; i.e. a fief. Simple - in the unconstrained sense:
1) without limit to the inheritance of heirs;
2) unrestricted as to transfer of ownership.

Follow fief. Find fiefdomism, and its Derogatory usage interestingly appropriate.

But I digress.

How Did They Vote?

In case you are interested in knowing how your Representative voted in yesterday's bailout proposal, see here.

I wish I could know why they voted that way. Either yay or nay, I'm pretty sure it's not because they understand the destructive role of government interference in the free market - that's for damn sure! More likely, any legislator voting no on principle is more likely blaming the greedy capitalists. It's maddening.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Weight

This is not about Giles Corey, but rather in case your child asks, as mine did this morning, here are some things you might want to know about the unit "pound"and its seemingly disconnected abbreviation.

pound (lb, lbm, or #)

[1] a traditional unit of mass or weight. The Romans used a pound (the libra pondo, "pound of weight") divided into 12 ounces. All the countries of western Europe used similar units, divided into 12 or 16 ounces, until the advent of the metric system. 12-ounce pounds were common in Italy and southern France, but in Spain and northern Europe 16-ounce pounds became the norm. The word libra is used for this unit in Italy, Spain, and Portugal; in France it is called the livre. Further north, the Latin word pondo ("weight") is the origin of the names of the English pound, Dutch pond, Danish pund, German pfund, and Russian funt. In England, two different "pound" units became standard. The unit now in general use in the United States is the avoirdupois pound, so-called from a French phrase avoir du poids, literally "goods of weight," indicating simply that the goods were being sold by weight rather than by volume or by the piece. The avoirdupois pound is divided into 16 ounces. By international agreement, one avoirdupois pound is equal to exactly 453.592 37 grams; this is exactly 175/144 = 1.215 28 troy pounds. See avoirdupois weights for additional information. The traditional symbol lb stands for libra, the Latin word for the unit. The avoirdupois pound is sometimes abbreviated lb av or lb ap to distinguish it from the less common troy pound.The symbol lbm is used in science to distinguish the pound of mass from the pound of force (lbf): see pound force, below.

[2] a second traditional unit of mass or weight. The troy pound, named for the French market town of Troyes, was the unit used in England by apothecaries and jewelers. The troy pound is divided into 12 ounces like the Roman pound. One troy pound is 373.242 grams, or exactly 144/175 = 0.822 858 avoirdupois pounds (13.165 72 avoirdupois ounces). The troy and avoirdupois pounds are connected by the grain: there are 5760 grains in a troy pound and 7000 grains in an avoirdupois pound. See troy weights for additional information. The troy pound should be abbreviated lb. t. to distinguish it from the more common avoirdupois pound.

This comes from How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement via the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Another helpful site is Ask Dr. Math.

And Then There Were Seven

Not including the mother who appears to be getting a little aggravated by the young'uns' unruly behavior, only seven small turkeys remain (they're getting quite big). I had a hard enough time counting them, I can't possibly identify which has been lost, but I'm guessing it's one of the twins. The smart one. There was one who remained in my yard longer than the mother liked. She started squawking and the remaining turkey ran back and forth along the fence, apparently forgetting he had the power of flight.

Here for your edification is a great little diagram of a full grown male turkey and how to tell the difference between a tom and a hen.

Just call me Marlin Perkins.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

For What It's Worth

Below is a copy of the letter I sent to my congressmen on Tuesday.

Dear Honorable ______________;

The emergency bailout package as handed down from the Bush Administration for you to consider will not keep us from the biggest financial catastrophe since the Great Depression, but rather, will kick the can down the road. Government funds, which is to say taxpayer dollars should never, ever go to fund bad choices made by quasi-governmental agencies, public companies, or other taxpayers. This is precisely what you are now being asked to approve.

We are no doubt stand on the edge of an economic crisis, but not one made by the taxpayers. It is the governmental interference in these financial institutions which caused the faulty mindset leading to the overextension and eventual collapse of these institutions. They knew they were too big to fail. When the government decides which companies are not allowed to fail, we all pay the price: both those who took the risk, and those of us who played it safe. This proposed historic bailout will only foster more of the same regardless of any restrictions placed upon the funds.

I am writing to you to consider the precipice upon which we now stand and over which you are historically poised to push us.

It is not within the bounds of a proper American government to redistribute an individual’s economic resources so that bad companies, which with the help of bad government policies and full knowledge of a protectionist government’s interference drove themselves into ruin, can be redeemed. Lift interfering government regulations and let the good companies buy out the bad ones. In short, let the free market, not the government controlled version of the market fix this horrid mess.

Be a hero. Take a stand against bad government practices. Vote against the bailout plan.


Being, as I am, from Massachusetts, there isn't a chance in hell that the staff even understood what I was saying let alone it possibly making a dent, but I needed to do something.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Light in the Dark

While we've been all but consumed by the gloomy darkness currently threatening America in the form of unprecedented government bailout of the governmentally-induced failure of economic institutions, Shez at Homeschool Twins managed to bring some light into our morning. I recommend stopping by her site and watching the almost always funny Jon Stewart clip on the subject.

If you visit, be sure to note the important James Madison quote showcased above Shez's picture. It is challenged by this very real domestic enemy proposing Tyranny and Oppression under the guise of saving us from ourselves.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Haiku Economics

Inspired by the general premise presented in Haiku Economics, (it’s amazing how far you can go-a-black-berrying) I have come up with a few of my own poems. Go ahead and give it a whirl – the limited format makes it impossible to wander too far and requires that you get to the point, quickly.

Screw Zen – punch it out!
Economic Haiku
Rocks poetic form.

Government bailout --
Seven hundred billion bucks
From whence does it come

Red lines make black days
Each made to carry burdens
Not of his making

Economic pluralists –

Have no “free” market
The hand, now quite visible
Must be slapped away

Unhand me, you knave!
If only it were so easy
To make it behave.

Even if I was appalled by the subtitle: Little Teaching Aids for Big Economic Pluralists, I couldn’t make sense of what the author had to say on that matter. It seemed like a witty bit of economic who’s who and what’s what thrown together around a spine of poetry, but amounted to little more than crap on a stick (sticking with the nature theme of traditional haiku). That may be because I’m just not savvy enough to understand his point further than marrying haiku and economics (which I liked).

In any case, I thought it was an interesting idea and I liked his joke:

What did the snail riding on the back of a turtle say?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Scents and Sensibilities

Today we added Pepe le Pew to our cultural icons. As it happens, Pepe, the amorous French skunk of Saturday morning cartoons past, shares a homophonic name with an ancient Egyptian ruler, Pepi. But that may be where the similarities end (I really don’t know enough about the ancient Egyptian ruler yet to say definitively). But I do know that Pepe is a scoundrel! He’s obnoxious, aggressive, manipulative, and French! I didn’t remember much about Pepe except his irrepressible nature. Yet, somehow, even as I was reintroduce to his more toxic personality traits today, I still found him plain funny. My daughter was not as easily amused.

Now, that you’ve seen all that is Pepe from one of his classic cartoons, were you shocked to see his aggressive antics? I was. Were you amazed that he would try to manipulate Kitty by pretending to kill himself? I was. Were you wondering, “When are they going to speak English?” My daughter was.

It’s funny that I don’t remember being irritated or confused that they spoke French. I didn’t remember that he acted violently toward Kitty, or that he pretended to kill himself to gain her sympathy. I only remembered that he was all over Kitty when he thought she was a skunk and then wanted nothing to do with her when she looked like a drowned rat. I also remember that he enjoyed his own company very much: “You know – it’s possible to be too attractive.”

Although many sensibilities about what is good for children have changed, I’m not sure that’s such a good thing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Robert Burns (1759-1796)

I found this poem this morning. I also find it very amusing. Sure, it could be the subject matter or the fact that the Scottish dialect sounds like a pirate to me; in both cases it made me smile.

To a Louse

Poem lyrics of To a Louse by Robert Burns.
On Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet at Church

Ha! whare ye gaun' ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely
Owre gauze and lace,
Tho faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn'd by saunt an sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her--
Sae fine a lady!
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.

Swith! in some beggar's hauffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle;
Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle;
In shoals and nations;
Whare horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now haud you there! ye're out o' sight,
Below the fatt'rils, snug an tight,
Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
Till ye've got on it--
The vera tapmost, tow'rin height
O' Miss's bonnet.

My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an grey as onie grozet:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I'd gie you sic a hearty dose o't,
Wad dress your droddum!

I wad na been surpris'd to spy
You on an auld wife's flainen toy
Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,
On's wyliecoat;
But Miss's fine Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do't?

O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An set your beauties a' abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie's makin!
Thae winks an finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin!

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An foolish notion:
What airs in dress an gait wad lea'es us,
An ev'n devotion!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome Fall!

These are happy cows in the happy fall field.

This is a picture I took last year in the Berkshires. I love the building, I love the mountains in the background, I love the trees even though the color is fading and sky is dark and threatening.

For a blazing beautiful maple tree picture that usually means fall to me, go here.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

While not my typical fare, this poem gave me pause.

During Wind and Rain

They sing their dearest songs --
He, she, all of them -- yea,
Treble and tenor and bass,
And one to play;
With the candles mooning each face....
Ah, no; the years O!
How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!

They clear the creeping moss --
Elders and juniors -- aye,
Making the pathways neat
And the garden gay;
And they build a shady seat....
Ah, no; the years, the years;
See, the white storm-birds wing across!

They are blithely breakfasting all --
Men and maidens -- yea,
Under the summer tree,
With a glimpse of the bay,
While pet fowl come to the knee....
Ah, no; the years O!
And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.

They change to a high new house,
He, she, all of them -- aye,
Clocks and carpets and chairs
On the lawn all day,
And brightest things that are theirs....
Ah, no; the years, the years;
Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.

Interesting stuff

Here are two bits of information which I found out this morning thanks to Geek Press, that I'd like to share:

A new melody handwritten by Mozart has been found in Paris.

A 12 year-old invents a new type of solar cell that works with visible and UV light.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Atticus Finch: A Model for Modern Parents

As an update to the events of my We the People post of September 17, I submit the following for your consideration. Okay! I confess. I’m curious about what others might do in this situation and am soliciting opinions from my incredibly wise blog readers.

After coming home from school on Thursday, my #2 child relayed a disturbing incident to me. She told me that when she went to show [her teacher whom I shall refer to as] Mrs. Infallibility (in the hall, after class) that the first words of The Constitution were, in fact, “We the People” and not “In Order to Form a More Perfect Union”, Mrs. Infallibility brushed her off saying “I know, dear. I have a copy of the Constitution, too.” [This was an improvement from the day before when she implied that she was correct because she got it “from the website”.] Even worse than belittling a student who was attempting to correct the misinformation Mrs. Infallibility had relayed to my #2 child not once, but twice, Mrs. Infallibility muttered something to the effect that it wasn’t a good sign that my #2 child’s parents were already starting to question Mrs. Infallibility [now you know where the alias comes from]!

Plainly, Mrs. Infallibility made a benign error about the first words of The Constitution. However, when this mistake was later brought to her attention by a student, [namely, my #2 child] Mrs. Infallibility attempted to justify it on the basis of an incorrect website (the test for US Citizenship) rather than verify it with the original documentation [a copy of which Mrs. Infallibility purports to own], thereby perpetuating the error. By further disparaging a student’s persistent effort to confirm the facts, Mrs. Infallibility taught her that it is not okay to question things she doesn’t understand, that the facts don’t matter, and that she should blindly accept things she is told by her teachers or she will be rebuffed.

The above two paragraphs are abstracted and redacted from a letter I needed to write immediately after hearing about the hallway haughtiness of the history hawker only so I could better understand what happened. Based on a conversation with my daughter on Friday, I have decided not to send that letter originally addressed to the teacher. Still. I wonder. How could this educator possibly think that she was right on any of these three, incrementally increasing in degree-of-error mistakes? And I cringe at the possibly approaching lessons regarding Columbus Day.

So as I often do when I’m in a parenting bind, I have to ask myself WWAD?

I’ll tell you what he would have done. The hero of To Kill a Mockingbird would have quietly shared the truth with his daughter Scout, letting the teacher’s questionable dictates pass with a wink between them, and remained secure in the knowledge that knowing the truth is enough.

Damn – when will I learn?

What would you do?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Singing Scientists

It's everything I wanted to know about the LHC in a manner I can understand! I usually hate rap, but this is too good to ignore.

Thanks BIL.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prepare yerself.

You have just 16 hours before for the start of the official Talk Like a Pirate Day. I know others have been warning you, but I can't emphasize this enough: should you be encoutered by a pirate-talking jim lad or buxom wench, you don't want to be caught with your eye patch off. In order to avoid this unpleasant situation, I direct you to the following videos: A systematic approach for us landlubbers or the quick and dirty five essentials.

Now, I can't tell you why I find celebrating the confused jargon of historic mariner outlaws so funny just yet, but I thought you'd might want to be prepared anyway.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We the People

Now where have I heard that before? Oh, that's right. It's the first three words of the Constitution of the United States. Let me tell you a funny little story about that.

Once upon a time, I was sitting in my daughter's Honors American History class taking a mini-version of the US Citizenship test. The question before me was "What are the first words of the Constitution?" And I had choices: (a) When in the course of human events; (b) We the People; (c) In order to form a more perfect union; (d) To Whom it May Concern. I chose (b)We the People. Silly parent. It's (c), In order to form a more perfect union.

Now I had my trusty pocket Declaration of Independence/US Constitution in my purse, but I felt it best not to school this much beloved Honors US History teacher in front of a classroom full of parents on "Back to School Night", who apparently did not know the answer either!!!!!

Unfortunately, this is not merely a story, but a page from my real life last Thursday night. I mentioned it to my daughter only to make sure that she knew the first words of the Constitution. Today, on this day, the Constitution's 221st anniversary, she brought it up to her teacher who responded (oh, to be a fly on the wall) something to this effect: Well, I looked it up on their website. Hmmmm.

Well, Teach, this is for you (pay close attention to the big words in the upper left hand corner):

And if that's doesn't ring a bell, try this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You Said It!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must direct your attention to today's post on How Not to Act Old. It has something for everyone (over 35, that is).

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Delight in Disorder

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness :
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction :
An erring lace which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher :
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly :
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat :
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility :
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

Herrick is better known for his poem, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time whose first line, Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, inspired Waterhouse's painting.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey.

Here is my turkey family: Mom Tessa, chicks Tammy, Tara, Ted, Tabitha, and the twins, Shady Brooks and Butterball. Not pictured Terry and Tom, Jr. Not seen for 2 months, tiny Tim. Never seen, Tom.

So, with their adoption of my back yard as their home, I need to know some stuff (snicker) about turkeys.

What do they find so compelling about my yard?

What are their family units like?

How long do they take to mature?
If I catch one, can I eat it?

Really, it has been fun watching the little family wander into and out of our yard, their escape skills always growing. Despite chasing them several times a day trying to get a good picture of them, they keep coming back, much to our dog's dismay, which is funny in itself. My dog is no herder. Maybe she's just hungry.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The 80's Aesthetic

I just can't help it. Apparently I'm stuck in the 80's regarding the cheesy, cool, sunglass aesthetic made popular by Patrick Nagel.

Because of the image above, the picture below, taken by my daughter last weekend before I ran out of the house, rang familiar - and I liked it!

It may just be a sign of desperately attempting to not go gently into that good night, or maybe, I'm happy (despite that look on my face) that with a little photoshop blur of the cluttered background, I can approximate looking like I'm in the 80's again. Cheesy, but pretty cool.

If only I hadn't lent my purple lipstick to that pig!

By the way, any resemblance to Edna Mode only makes me like it better.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Just for Today...

Or possibly the week.

In honor of our tremendous drum band experience this morning, I give you "More Cowbell" on the sidebar and the original skit from SNL below.

Can you guess which instrument I played in the band today? I wish I had watched this yesterday so I could have known how to act like a proper cowbell player!

For my band mates - enjoy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later

To call September 11, 2001 a tragedy is to ignore history, evade the truth, and perpetuate the malignant idea that it was simply a catastrophic event which must be mourned rather than the ideologically-based systematic murder of Americans which must rooted out. The destruction of the Twin Towers and the horrific deaths of nearly 3,000 people that day were a clear and precisely executed attack on America and Western values by Islamic terrorists. The real tragedy of 9/11 is an America which lacks understanding of the gravity of what is still at risk because it refuses to identify and pursue the enemy.

Please visit the Rule of Reason blog for this week's Objectivist Round-Up which is dedicated to "Nothing Less Than Victory", and a great post by Gina Liggett at NoodleFood.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Grade School Model of Government

Due to the popularity of the idea of Global Warming and the inability of our leaders to apply principles to their legislating activities, the EPA is now charged with delivering the chains of carbon dioxide based bondage to us all. Rather than consign the threat of catastrophic Climate Change (its latest all-encompassing moniker) to the ranks other doomsday proclamations, our legislators (with help from members of the justice system), bending to public outcry bubbled up from an aggressive socialist marketing plan, have elevated the idea into the pantheon of world changing ideologies.

There will always be those who look to government to provide the answers; in this case, the regulatory answers are in response to the secondary questions when the primary questions have not been answered by science. They’ve just been accepted by popular decree.

As we have demanded or allowed (depending on one’s level of evasion) the government to capitulate with increasing mania by offering stop-gap measures to stem the complainers, what was once a vocal minority has become a mindless majority clamoring for more chains. Congratulations – the chains are being developed here under the Advanced Notice for Proposed Rulemaking.

You have until November 11, 2008 to voice dissatisfaction with the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant (yes, the very gas you exhale), that every single activity you do will be touched by and subject to limitations based not upon scientific fact, but upon the popularity of a wacky wavering parasitic slogan looking for a host, that our government, the first in history to be founded upon the morality of individual rights, will be offering us these chains through the frightening exponential expansion of the bureaucracy of the Environmental Protection Agency, and that collectivism has become more important than individual rights to Americans. In this respect, Climate Change is truly a world changing ideology: it represents the enslavement of America.

This isn’t about getting homework-free weekends, people! This is real. It is happening now, and while there is not one spot of evidence that this historic expansion of government control will even contribute to the absurd goal of anthropogenic Climate Stasis, it is clear to have a significant negative financial impact on each of us at the very least.

If you are interested in reading more (or less – there are some excerpts from the 570 page ANPR document) and finding out how to comment, please visit John Lewis’ site.

If, after realizing this madness must stop and then doing your part to stop it, you find that you miss your doomsday fetish, you can indulge it harmlessly here or foment another one here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Make a Wish

As I look back on the sights and sounds of my youth, I sometimes wonder how I was able to formulate any coherent thoughts. This "Make a Wish" show aired around the same time the fabulous School House Rock series. While I don't remember the show too much, I definitely remember its pure 70s hippie-psychedelic theme song sung by host, Tom Chapin. Listening to the words now I can only say, "huh?" My ten year-old summed it up nicely when she said, "Oh yeah. I can be a redwood tree."

My finding this video is not as random as it may appear. I was actually trying to find Tom Chapin's song "What Does a Didgeridoo" to warn you all not to sing it around female Aborigines or they might get very offended.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Make Mine Red

C. August over at Titantic Deck Chairs was inspired by our stunning choices in the upcoming election to design this lovely t-shirt logo. Visit his blog post or his store front at Cafe Press to see the design better and to decide whether or not this, or another similar beauty will become the centerpiece of your fall wardrobe.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

You Deserve It!

Has anyone else heard the radio spots for Blue Hippo? I heard it on early morning radio last weekend and I was shocked! I wish I could find the ad copy somewhere. I did find several articles about how the company takes advantage of poor people, but not the script of the radio ad. It went something like this:

Do you have bad credit? That doesn’t mean you can’t have the laptop you deserve!... You deserve it!... There is no reason you can’t get the technology you deserve, etc. The “technology you deserve” also referred to big screen TVs.

What? Do people really fall for this nonsense? Apparently so. Blue Hippo Funding has been expanding its business since 2003. While you can buy a laptop at a store for about $600, Blue Hippo offers a similar product for the low monthly price of say, $30 a month for 5 years, for a grand total of $1800. Not a good deal by any means, but if you can’t save that much cash and no one else is willing to lend it to you, Blue Hippo can help you get a computer – it’s true.

Their partial pre-pay financing and complaints about undelivered merchandise is the cause of several state class action law suits and a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. Even with these black marks on the legality of their business, as well as thousands of complaints to the Better Business Bureau, Blue Hippo continues to operate successfully while people continue to complain about their exploitation of the poor and uneducated.

There is a real injustice here. It is not, however, that Blue Hippo is taking advantage of the poor and uneducated through unscrupulous financing practices. People with bad credit are their explicit target customers and fraud is against the law. Blue Hippo’s practices are distasteful, and possibly fraudulent. But the FTC settlement and the class action lawsuits did not shut the company down (I believe the legal findings were “Blue Hippo is icky”). Blue Hippo continues to operate because there are people who still want to use their services.

From the FTC ruling:

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge. [emphasis mine]

So why? Why does a company that promises so much and delivers so little continue to flourish despite questionable legal and moral practices?

Let’s examine what Blue Hippo does: it tells people they deserve things just because they want them, promises to give them what they want without clearly describing how it will be paid for, fails to deliver, makes the initial bad situation worse, but continues to stir up more support among the less savvy and more desperate using new promises of even better entitlements. Does this sound familiar?

It should. It’s been the marketing plan of politicians for years, and instead of being repulsive to people, it continues to attract a lot of us (cue Hillary Clinton’s Christmas present ad – the most flagrant display of promised entitlements I have ever seen).

The real injustice is that the government, the biggest employer of this promised entitlements strategy, through the Federal Trade Commission, is operating as a consumer advocate, en masse, for people who have not only proven themselves unable to cope with their own finances (I tread lightly here myself but do not expect the government to bail me out) but also fall prey to the idea that they deserve what they want. Why is the government so happy to step in and fight their battles? A proper function of our government, to protect individual rights through arbitration of objective laws, is being abused to perpetuate the incorrect notion that people need to be saved from themselves through the force of government!

It’s a just another example of my point that while you can’t mandate the stupid out of people, you certainly can subsidize it. I have previously referred to this situation in Nudged, but will now refer to it as being BlueHippoed – it’s a much more colorful term and is slightly reminiscent of a combination of the political party symbols, with the color leaning a little toward the left, as it should.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dubious Achievement

In what can only be described as a twisted over-achievement in my School At Home efforts, American Classical Academy has had to adjust its opening schedule due to a common school epidemic: Pediculis capitis. Despite sounding like an incantation for funny shoes worn on the ears, there is nothing funny about common head lice.

That’s right, folks, we have cooties! Okay. Maybe there is something funny about it.

As a newcomer to cooties, I have to say that I was fascinated with the fact that parasites I can actually see were living off the flesh of a human body, specifically – mine. From the Harvard School of Public Health website, this is my favorite line: Their six impressive legs are elegantly evolved to grasp hair shafts and provide a striking example of biological specialization. Makes them seem sort of...neat-o, doesn’t it?

However, after liberating the 7th live louse from the head of my youngest, and continuing to find live lice despite our best efforts thus far, I became and remain just plain skeeved out. Their eggs, or nits, are applied to the thinnest hair shafts with some sort of superglue. It really is amazing – but also a little painful to have your hair scraped 2-3 times a day at 1-2 hours each time (particularly if you’re little and your parents are a little over zealous in their efforts to remove them from your head).

The fact that I, too, have been infested (not an easy sentence to type and then publish) when the overwhelming majority of cases are in children, in no way contributes to my new goal of How Not to Act Old. In fact, the little eggs are really tough to see against the very few, but way more than I had previously realized, strands of silvery gray mixed into my near black head of hair. I'm left wondering if the Dorothy Hamill haircut will come back in style soon, or maybe an updated Katie Holmes look.

Significant hairdressing aside, the best way to combat them? More spell-sounding efforts: comb, clean, boil, bubble, toil, and trouble until the little buggers are all gone. And you know how I feel about housecleaning. So that’s what I’ve been, and will continue to be up to for a while, I’m afraid.

Worst of all, I can never use the word "nitpicking" and the phrase "lousy with it" so casually again. In this sense, the experience has been truly life altering.

By the way, you can stop scratching your head now.

It's not like you have them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


All right. I didn't discover anything quite as exciting as Archimedes did when upon stepping into his bath and noticing that the water level rose in proportion to his submerging body, thereby discovering how to measure the volume of irregular objects through the displacement of water which caused him immediately to run through the streets of Syracuse in his birthday suit!

But I did find this blog which is simply hilarious.

Monday, September 1, 2008

It Starts!

I spent today planning the next four months of my daily activities down to the fifteen minute mark. If that doesn't sound like fun, then you must not be a homeschooler. Actually, I'm in no way to be confused with a fun homeschooler (like Shez, whose kids get to do really cool stuff). I'm a school-at-home homeschooler and as such, I'm rather boring. This means that I try to duplicate what is a pretty rigid "school environment" in our house, 7:30-2:00, at a desk (with breaks, don't worry), homework (if the work is not done during the school day), snack, lunch, recess, etc. This also means that I am no fun, except when I get animated talking about Algebra, or pre-Algebraic math and cool science things, or diagramming confusion. Then I can be fun. Of course, this is solely my opinion.

When we had 2 students in our exclusive private school, American Classical Academy (do you see the "A is A" in our logo, or is it too subtle?), we built a warm and colorful school room onto our house complete with a specially designed 4' square chalk/write-on/wipe-off board (chalk to satisfy the History teacher, write-on/wipe-off to satisfy everyone else, 4' square to balance the huge painting of a nekkid Howard Roark on the opposite wall - not so subtle and always a hit with the homeschooling kids and their mothers, by the way). When our enrollment decreased by 50% 22 months ago, we found the space too big to heat for just the one student. Now we work, back to back in a tiny loft library space with our desk chairs in a constant battle for best position. Oddly, even under these circumstances, I am looking forward to beginning again on Wednesday.

In any case, while I seem to be unable or unwilling to read, digest, and write on any matter of importance these days, at least I can still recognize good writing on important issues. In that light, I happily send you to The Obsolescence of the Fifth Column by Stephen.