Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I would consider it a great kindness if you would point out any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or other egregious violations of the English language one should not make beyond the age of twelve (the age at which I left Catholic school and with it the study of grammar, usage, and mechanics as well).
For example: "reevaluate" is not a word, but "revaluate" most assuredly is. In fact, it is the very word I meant to include in my last post rather than its bastardized and rationalized evil step-sister. At least that's how I envisioned the incorrect word in my mind this morning.
Of course, you are never required to do such things, and can judge my inability to write correctly, and indeed my very request to help me correct my writing as a weakness of character. If the shoe were on the other foot, you can be sure I would - and do.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
2. Looking forward to attending all the local farmer’s markets.
3. Thinking of joining a CSA for local produce.
What? Have I gone GREEN? Bite your tongue.
While part of the draw to eat local is supposedly for environmental reasons, I can assure that does not figure into my reasoning.
After having read Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, and Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and having Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories on deck for months, I’m just beginning to revaluate some things that I had previously dismissed as hippy-induced collective wackiness. While these things may very well reek of such wackiness, there may also be some nutritional benefit for my family. I’m willing to live with the rest if I get real value out of the experiences. And besides – I look good in tie-dye.
It’s when I get my hand-cranked wheat mill that you know I’ve gone over to the dark side (the motorized one is okay, though).
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The boot scraper is how you can tell we're real farmers, by the way.
Even though they're designed to look like a Big Cat, the Ladies love them!
And speaking of the Ladies, they have quite the fashionable outer wear as well.
One of these things is not like the other...
Two colors of Rhode Island Reds fronted by a Barred Plymouth Rock.
A Golden Laced Wyandotte and a another Barred Rock.
And some of them are quite photogenic.
Where is the Farmer, you may ask?
He's in the dell, of course.
After so many days of rain, we're just excited to get outside and do what needs to be done!
Friday, June 26, 2009
LADIES, where were your bright eyes glancing,
Where were they glancing yesternight?
Saw ye Imogen dancing, dancing,
Imogen dancing all in white?
Laughed she not with a pure delight,
Laughed she not with a joy serene,
Stepped she not with a grace entrancing,
Slenderly girt in silken sheen?
All through the night from dusk to daytime
Under her feet the hours were swift,
Under her feet the hours of playtime
Rose and fell with a rhythmic lift:
Music set her adrift, adrift,
Music eddying towards the day
Swept her along as brooks in Maytime
Carry the freshly falling may.
Ladies, life is a changing measure,
Youth is a lilt that endeth soon;
Pluck ye never so fast at pleasure
Twilight follows the longest noon.
Nay, but here is a lasting boon,
Life for hearts that are old and chill,
Youth undying for hearts that treasure
Imogen dancing, dancing still.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I adore the Andrews-Sisters-like sound and the tune of the repeated question which is just so darn catchy! Now if you can remember the answer to the question or even part of the song you're all set (grammatically speaking). Sure there's a lot to sing for one voice, but I think it would be well worth it.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
This imaginative book offers a unique approach to our world "going green," through the wide eyes of a little girl. Combined with beautiful illustrations, the story unfolds with each surprising change that is noticed by the girl. First, it happens to her good friend, Cynthia beginning with a leaf...then a branch. She observes many more people changing in very special ways. She watches as Congress "goes green" and even the President and First Family are in various states of metamorphoses. Although some people are slower to change, will the entire planet eventually "go green"? And, what will happen to the little girl?Can you think of anything better than extolling the virtues of congressmen going green? Screw lush imaginative fanciful morality tales people, feed your pre-schoolers some good old-fashioned political stumping. But not really on a stump. I'm certain that would violate some sort of environmental tenet.
For those of you who do not find this type of story attractive, I'd like to direct you to this beautiful children's book, The Wishing of Biddy Malone.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Well, I suppose I could be angry that I might have tried to pay $70 for a $19 book that Amazon basically repackaged and readvertised, or I can be happy that the $70 price tag and lack of cover art made me look harder for more information and I found a book that I can get at my local library (16th in the queue, but there are plenty of copies) and most likely really enjoy and learn from.
Overall, I'm glad they sent me the notice (even one fraught with fraudulent information as it was).
---ten minutes later---
Nevermind about the "fraud" part - it was for the "playaway" version, which, clearly, I am not tech-savvy enough to have caught the first time around, but at least understand that it is not a physical book.
I'm very glad about the notice, excited to read the book, and happy that I can still buy my books through Amazon!
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Most parents want to give their kids the best foundation possible and this requires a lot of thought about what is in their best long-term interest. Short-term desires must often be left unmet in order for the child to develop properly. In the conflict between buying the expensive one-use prom dress and making the teenager pay for it as she had once done for herself, Slatalla reaches the conclusion that it would be easier to give the child her kidney, which she was prepared to part with when signing up for motherhood.
Taking action she senses would delay the child's self-reliance is a tougher issue.
It is tough. You feel the same disappointment that your child feels when she is unable to get the things she wants even though she has worked for them. But what about your dreams?
I think I speak for parents everywhere when I say this is exactly the sort of question that we’d like to see researchers address directly, by conducting some kind of definitive nationwide prom-dress study.
“Sorry, sweetie,” I said calmly. “I don’t believe in spending this much money on something you’re only going to wear once, especially when I’ve never ridden in a gondola.”
This line made me laugh out loud for its obvious attempt at placing unearned guilt onto the child.
How about getting her the dress in the hope of a return on your investment of social support as suggested by the professor running the Longitudinal Study of Generations?
“This is a dilemma,” Professor Silverstein agreed. “But we did find some evidence, when we turned the clock ahead 30 years, that children who had received more resources provided, in turn, more social support later to older parents.”I think not.
Hoping that your parental largesse will be rewarded in the future is a fool's bet. Invoking your postponed dreams teaches the child nothing but bitterness. Making your child momentarily happy at the expense of principles is never a good thing. But most importantly, is buying the prom dress really a breach of your principles?
I'm sure that my daughter doesn't think so and will probably make quite a case for it next year.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Then I remembered.
Last night, although it was rainy, it was kind of warm. I suggested that we turn off the red light for the evening. When Stephen went into the coop this morning, the ladies weren't settled comfortably on their perches as normal, but huddled in a corner. I'm guessing from their sudden bouts of narcolepsy this afternoon that they didn't sleep at all last night. They're addicted to the red light! We'll have to get one that isn't infrared for the summer - or wean them from their dependency.
Monday, June 15, 2009
It's FITA style Olympic archery and we shoot at targets that looks like this:
And while I look much more like this,
Tomorrow, who knows?
Friday, June 12, 2009
He wrote in letters plain to see,
That all could understand;
ALL PERSONS CARRYING FIREARMS
FORBIDDEN ON THIS LAND.
And through his hundred-acre woods,
To stay through calm and breeze,
He nailed his minatory sign
Upon two hundred trees.
So all who wandered through those wilds
Could read and understand:
ALL PERSONS CARRYING FIREARMS
FORBIDDEN ON THIS LAND.
Ben Bean, the Nimrod of the town,
Went shooting through the land;
His vocal musket banged in tones
That all could understand.
And then the owner of the woods
Who placed the warnings signs,
Went after Ben and talked to him
Of penalties and fines.
"Do you now see these signs?" he said he,
"A child can understand,
"All persons carrying firearms
Forbidden on this land?"
"But how’ll you get me off?" asked Ben,
And spoke without a wince,
"A person carrying firearms
Ain’t easy to convince."
"Go off!" the farmer cried; "Begone!"
"Come drive me off," Ben said,
And raised his musket toward the man,
And aimed it at his head.
"Why, I have right upon my side,"
The farmer said, "Now run!"
"You may have right, I don’t deny’t,
But I have got the gun."
And there are empires, just like Ben,
Who hunt the world around,
Whose purpose ‘tis to use the world
For their own hunting ground.
And there’s no potentate or power,
No premier or prince,
Who’s well-equipped with firearms,
That’s easy to convince.
And when their victims prate of rights
They say to every one,
"You may have right, I don’t deny’t,
But I have got the gun."
From Songs of the Average Man, 1907
I have seen that gun-control advocates use this titular phrase in their arsenal, but I think the poem exposes an interesting view into both the very purpose of government, the protection of individual rights, and an indictment against the abuses of its force.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
“Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases…I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”
When I first read of Judge Sotomayor’s statements quoted above, I laughed at their apparent taken-out-of-context usage. Clearly there must be some explanation between the two statements or some unreported circumstances which explained the naked racism of this respected jurist. I found and read the original text of the speech to have a better understanding of the Supreme Court nominee. Here’s what she said:
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.Well, there is a statement or two between the references, and the speech was given at a symposium on Latinos in the judiciary. However, neither of these two factors mitigate the absurdity of her statement.
What does living the life of a Latina woman have to do with an improved ability to interpret the constitutionality of the law?
Using this logic, I, as a sixty-four and one-half inch tall person of Franco-American descent would hopefully make a better dentist than those of you who have not had the benefit of the richness of my genetic and ethnic experiences – especially you Brits. Since others before me have stated that there is no such thing as universally good teeth, I can certainly fix your teeth, not by adhering to any principles of dentistry, but in accordance with my innate talents.
Interpreting the Constitution is difficult enough, but it is particularly so if you don’t have the benefit of genetic and ethnic gifts according to the Supreme Court nominee.
Interpreting the Constitution
Thanks to a referral by C. August at Titanic Deck Chairs, I read an excellent essay by Tara Smith regarding some competing judicial theories entitled, “Why Originalism Won’t Die – Common Mistakes in Competing Theories of Judicial Interpretation.” In this piece in the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy, Smith discusses several theories used to interpret the Constitution. It’s a fascinating look at how the veneer of objectivity gives weight to the theory of Originalism (as used primarily by Justice Scalia) especially as compared to other theories. The essay shows that such a strict interpretation of the specific words used by the original lawmakers ignores the wider conceptual nature of the words’ meanings. It’s a terrific introduction into the pitfalls of some of the competing judicial theories of interpretation.
Having claimed that the objective judge needs to be philosophical as well as conceptual, I should stress that the domain for exercise of philosophical judgment is limited. Judges are not simply philosophers, nor are they primarily philosophers. They are interpreters -- of laws that others have made. Judges are not to unilaterally generate philosophical questions and apply their answers through their rulings. Rather, when cases are brought before them, they are to read those cases according to the philosophical framework that our Constitution provides. Their role is not to "perfect" the Constitution.Even if you begin to understand the various theories and the criticisms against their lack of objectivity, it won’t matter much if the prevailing wisdom continues to view the Constitution as stripped of all content regarding individual liberty.
The Empty Constitution
Finally, I highly recommend “Justice Holmes and the Empty Constitution” by Thomas A. Bowden, in the most recent issue of The Objective Standard, vol.4, No. 2. This historical look at the reasoning behind, and the devastating implications of this brief dissent of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in the “Lochner v. New York” Supreme Court decision is a must read for anyone who wishes to understand not the power of the Supreme Court, but rather the failings of the false dichotomy of judicial activism and judicial restraint. From this dissenting opinion:
I think that the word liberty in the Fourteenth Amendment is perverted when it is held to prevent the natural outcome of a dominant opinion, unless it can be said that a rational and fair man necessarily would admit that the statute proposed would infringe fundamental principles as they have been understood by the traditions of our people and our law.On its face, part of this statement does not seem particularly harmful; in fact, one should be able to point to fundamental principles in the law. However, as part of the Lochner dissent, Holmes’ reliance on dominant opinion has been used to justify the intellectual brow-beating of those who hold that the Constitution itself is full of principled content regarding the individual’s relationship to the state. This idea of an “empty constitution” has been the popular among jurists and the judicial confirmatory body of the Senate in the last 50 years or so. As such, this one dissenting opinion has been the tool by which the objective rule of law has been insidiously transmogrified by the bankruptcy of public opinion rather than interpreted and upheld by those United States officials sworn to do so.
I’m still trying to understand the history, power, and influence of the Supreme Court of the United States as it impacts all of our lives; but what I do understand is that the law of the land is currently besieged on all sides by the dominance of subjectivity.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
This is one of the original Schoolhouse Rock videos for me. I remember it well and every scene makes me smile. I was a little disappointed that the fabulous creators of Schoolhouse Rock seemed to suffer from what generally plagues the entire United States today - they had forgotten about the importance of ideas!
A noun is a person, place, thing, or IDEA.
Monday, June 8, 2009
I can assure you, my voice is not hollow and stuck up.
Once upon a time, Bob saw a chicken.
“AWWWWW!” he cried. “How cute!”
Bob’s mom and dad were very stern.
“Chickens are filthy!” cried his mom. She had a hollow, stuck-up voice, and she talked like she was in an opera.
She hadn’t even looked at the chicken.
“They take mud baths!” said his dad. He talked in only one note: a low C.
“Uhh, so do I, dear. It‘s good for your skin. Soooo… these chickens take… healthy baths?”
:-( :-o :-) ~:>
“I guess…” said Bob in a sing-songy voice, hoping his mom was caving in.
“Oh, how… smart, they are. Oh, they are kind of cute… in a way… you know… I wouldn’t mind one… in fact… I’d even, maybe like one…”
The dad, though, was still unhappy.
:-( :-) :-) ~:>
“It would get in the way of my cooking! Getting feathers in my mushrooms and eggs, which I loooooooooooove.”
“Dad! Chickens lay eggs!”
“They do?” his dad asked suddenly in a high C.
:-o :-) :-) ~:>
“LET’S GET THAT CHICKEN!” cried the family. So they bought it.
:-D :-D :-D <:~
They lived in harmony, happily ever after.
:-) :-) ~:> :-)FIN
Thursday, June 4, 2009
In the theater:
Fun, action adventure, probably not for Trekkers (you know that’s what they prefer to be called). I went looking forward to seeing Chris Pine as Young Kirk: Ladies Man and found Zachary Quinto (new to me) much more interesting as young Spock. I like nerdy boys so this was really no surprise, but he was nerdy with a twist. Despite my affection for old Spock, my initial delight in seeing Leonard Nimoy quickly gave way to my distaste at his overuse to deliver much needed narrative.
As it is a big action movie, it should be seen on a big screen – for me this means at a theater and therefore I must discount the entertainment value by the added expense .
Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian
Another Amy Adams movie! She is just plain fun to watch as the sporty-taking, Katharine Hepburn-esque Amelia Earhart. Hank Azaria as the evil Kahmunrah made Stephen laugh like Muttley (which is not normal for him) and Christopher Guest makes a great Ivan the Terrible. There was some neato stuff with pictures coming to life (a la Harry Potter) and when the characters jumped into the Alfred Eisenstaedt VJ-Day photograph, it was quite fantastic. I did enjoy the animation of French's Lincoln as well, but no amount of movie magic could save the movie from my indifference to the characters' fate. In general, my kids agreed.
Even knowing and accepting that museum pieces come to life, this movie was much too contrived to be enjoyable . If I had paid less, I might have given it a 5 for the performances and the wizardry alone.
I read the book by Bernhard Schlink many years ago and I remembered that I was intrigued by its portrayal of an ex-Nazi female guard, Hanna Schmitz. Kate Winslet’s character, Hanna, who spends the first hour of the movie basically naked, is cold and exacting and elicits no empathy from the viewer as she has an awkward sexual relationship with a 15 year old boy which ends as quickly as it began. It is when the boy, eight years later as a law student, sees her again in a courtroom as she is being tried for her war crimes she committed over 20 years earlier that I began to empathize with her. Weird, I know. She is punished for her crimes, which is just, but she is also punished for something she did not do. She chose to go to jail for life for the killing of 300 prisoners rather than admit her hidden shame which would have lessened her criminal charges.
I found the power of her unearned guilt fascinating particularly when compared with her lack of remorse for the atrocities for which she was actually responsible. It was hard to watch, but well done. 
On a Clear Day
It’s a quirky English movie about a man, feeling useless after being forced out of his job, deciding to swim the English Channel when he’s got nothing else to do. I really liked the main character and the actor who played him, Peter Mullan, and Brenda Blethyn, as always, was great. It began to lean toward a decent buddy movie, but I found the younger buddy, Danny, played by Billy Boyd (Pippin Took of LOTR), to be more like an annoying Disney sidekick rather than a thoughtful addition to the plot. Finally, despite the heart-wrenching premise of the initial estrangement, I was not sold on the reconnection between the father and his grown son.
I give it points for showing older people fighting to be more than just alive. 
Run, Fatboy, Run
Another quirky English movie bordering on buddy status, this is about a loser who leaves his pregnant girlfriend at the altar only to regret it years later. Again, Hank Azaria as the girlfriend’s perfect new boyfriend is pretty damn funny, and the cousin and neighbor have moments of hilarity and earnestness, respectively. I just didn’t care much for the main character as a hero who arises not from a guy who has been trying hard and triumphs over his shortcomings, but from a guy who is not necessarily bad, but shiftless and wins because he’s just not as bad as the other guy. Neither romance with the beautiful Thandie Newton was believable.
I thought it was interesting that both this and the last movie (On a Clear Day) used a physical feat to demonstrate the character’s triumph, and the metaphor of “hitting a wall” to portray their challenges.  (Worth noting: while Stephen agrees with my assessment, he’d give it a 6 or 7).
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
While I don't remember this from my own youth, I found it watching these episodes with my older children years ago. I thought this lesson about subjects and predicates was told in a lovely little story.
Don't be surprised if later on today you find yourself attempting to sound like Jack Sheldon singing the catchy little tune.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The Pied Piper of Hamelin is thought to have originated in thirteenth or fourteenth century Germany about a town overrun with rats. One day a man shows up in minstrel clothing (‘pied’ meaning two different colors) and says he can take care of the problem for an agreed upon fee. The townspeople agree and the Piper attracts all the rats out of town with his pipe playing. He leads them all to a river where they drown.
When he comes back to collect his fee, the townspeople try to renegotiate the deal.
"Beside,'' quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,
"Our business was done at the river's brink;
"We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
"And what's dead can't come to life, I think.
"So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink
"From the duty of giving you something to drink,
"And a matter of money to put in your poke;
"But as for the guilders, what we spoke
"Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
"Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.
"A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!''
The Piper vows revenge. He later attracts all the children out of town with his pipe playing. They are never to be seen again.
You can peruse a beautifully illustrated version of the story as rewritten by Robert Browning with illustrations by Kate Greenaway online here from which the rhymes and illustration above have been taken.
So, Willy, let me and you be wipers
Of scores out with all men -- especially pipers!
And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice,
If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise!
I find it fascinating that a colorful term which has loosely come to refer to anyone who can gather and lead a group of people (or chickens in my case) comes from a dark cautionary tale regarding contractual obligations.
“Do all you have agreed to do” along with “Do not encroach on other persons or their property” make up the two fundamental laws which, according to Richard Maybury, “make civilization possible”. In his book, Whatever Happened to Justice? Maybury explores and explains the history of these two common laws. While there were some parts of his book with which I did not agree, overall I thought it was very informative and a quick, must-read for anyone who is interested in common law, the nature of government, and justice.
After I summarized the tale of the Pied Piper for my daughter I asked her what she thought it meant.
"Keep your promises!"
Seems crystal clear to me now.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Her stack of books to be read made me collect my own stack of books that I am currently either between the covers or about to crack open any day now.
Some of these things are not like the others. I picked up Janet Evanovich at the library on Friday because I needed a book I could finish while getting my car inspected (the emergency Victorian novel idea is great, but since I borrowed it, I'm afraid to leave it in my
And that lack of sun exposure and subsequent low level of vitamin D brings me to my next set of books by Weston A. Price, Gary Taubes, and Michael Pollan. I need to better understand the nutritional effects of different foods and how to eat better.
Take out the three book club books (The Art of Fiction, The Quiet Girl, and A Map of the World), the three Supreme Court books (Shaping Justice - to supplement the CD course, John Marshall, and The Dirty Dozen), and I'm left with OPAR, Sparrowhawk: Book Two, and GTD.
Maybe I should finish and institute the GTD system first and then the rest can fall off the TBR stack quickly and get filed into their appropriate spots.
Ooh, I feel a little like FDR with my GTD, OPAR and TBR. At least I did finally finished The Forgotten Man. I really enjoyed reading it and actually hope to retain some of it.
What's on your TBR list?