Archive | October, 2007

>Why You Should Not Take A Village To Get Your Child Raised

31 Oct

>I did promise it, didn’t I? Fair warning: it’s not real to me until I see it in print; final editing occurs after blog entries are posted. This is a difficult topic. I plan to get one version done and posted, go do other things, then come back and see if it wants adjusted. It’s not fair but that’s how it works.

I watched a good portion of Gattaca tonight. I love that film. It’s a pretty movie with a marvelous cast (look, having Ethan Hawke as a Christmas present is not really all that much to ask for, it it?) and the soundtrack is exceptional, but that’s not why I love it.

See, I’m probably not supposed to be here. And not just the “Midwestern chick with almost no college holding down a seriously tech-y job” thing, either. I had rheumatic fever, a serious case, when I was 4 and 5 years old; spent most of a year in bed, in pain. I was dreadfully nearsighted as far back as I can remember and concealed it (I didn’t know any better!) until I was in third grade. Until I was an adult, I got strep every time we vacationed and not just a sore throat: scary high fevers requiring medical intervention. Two serious car accidents in my teens and twenties and another bout of rheumatic fever in between: the odds are that, like Vincent in Gattaca, I should have been dead a few thousand heartbeats back. I’m not. In fact, thanks to luck and hard work, I’m in excellent health. My heart’s unharmed.

We are not just our genetics; we are not just the product of what happens to us. We’re fixable.

But nobody owes it to us to fix us. I believe that forcing our fellow citizens to carry that burden is immoral.

Let’s consider a family with a very ill child. They cannot afford to give this child the help it needs, so they go to the government.

Governments, interestingly enough, do not create wealth. They cannot conjure money from the air; when they try, they make the money they issue worth less and less until eventually, it is worth nothing at all. This functions exactly as a tax does: value which you have earned is taken from you. This is usually too much bother for governments, so they get “their” money more directly, by taxation.

Taxation is most usually universal; everyone, or nearly everyone, gets tapped. It may or may not be progressive, asking a greater percentage of persons with greater wealth, or it may be based on consumption of all or some commodities as a sales or value-added tax. But usually anyone with any money is made to contribute.

This includes the vast bulk of the population, a group which is generally just scraping by. Near the lower end of the fat middle of the bell curve, we have single-parent households of modest income and large families with two wage-earners and at the upper end are the semi-professionals and skilled trades with smaller familes or none at all, but the middle, the biggest group of taxpayers, is a group without much to spare and plenty of problems of their own. They set their own priorites and the vast majority of them do not rely on public assistance; they have probably got very basic insurance coverage for emergencies.

Now our family-with-sick-child comes along (multiplied by their hundreds) and thanks to a Government Program, picks the pockets of, mostly, people who had little if anything to spare. Your Tiny Tim, with a chance of survival even worse than mine as a child, counts for more than the machinist’s son with a broken arm? Counts for more than the widow’s ability to pay her gas bill? –Maybe to you.

Look, if you’d like to ask the people of your “village” for help, most of them would, as much as they could actually spare. That’s not the same as having money — an amount they have little control over — taken from them to help you.

Worse yet, your own need will be weighed– by some panel or board or bureaucrat — against the needs of others. It may be denied or restricted. They don’t care a fig for your child, only for whatever rules or ideals they have been given to follow. In the interest of “fairness,” most are given little discretion.

If the help you are freely given by individuals and voluntary associations is not enough, I’m sorry. I am deeply and sincerely sorry. But our world is neither perfect nor is it pefectable. It is not acceptable to harm others to improve things for you and yours. Not even a little harm.


>Rumors Of My Exaggeration Are Greatly Dead

31 Oct

>….Yes, dear reader — no, wait! counting the search ‘bots, there are three of you! Okay, –readers: I am still blogging, just not much yesterday or a lot today. Maybe tomorrow!

Heap big doings here at the Skunk Works, upon which I would love to dwell in every-polished-bolthead detail, but not even the sleepiest of you need that much sleep. Also — and here’s some kewl “inside dope” on the exciting world of Bigtime Professional Brawdcastering — we are on the very threshold of “sweeps,” which is not the badly-needed stem to stern dusting and vacuuming this place cries out for but The Ratings Period! For you-the-home-viewer, this means plenty of fine and dandy new episodes (All New! In Choler! Er, “Color!”) of your favorite shows, plus chat shows with truly attention-grabbingly vile and creepy content; for me, it means All This Junk Gotta Work Right Or Else. Or else we’ll get crummy ratings and I won’t get a nice raise or even new fun toys. Plus, our competition, evil, conniving slugs that they are (Hi, Tom!), would just love to get even a tiny peek at our Stunning Improvements which are sure to lead to either glory or at least attention, and I’m not gonna be the one t’spill the beans.

So I shan’t say much, and that at great length. It’s a gift.


28 Oct

>I’m hopelessly behind today. The Skunk Workers called up about midnight* with heap Big Trouble; met my boss at the North Skunk-Working Campus, did some in-the-dark-and-cold tower-climbing and infrared camera work and ultimately concluded it was just an unusual glitch. Fog, full moon, cold, I really hope we didn’t miss evidence of a jumper. It could well have been a wriggle on the power line or a settling-in thermal adjustment on the recently-replaced sections of transmission line.

But whatever else it was, it was A) Time-consuming and B) Worrisome.

So now, I must dash off and do heavy lifting. The end was in sight on moving out. The finish line tape just got moved. It does that.

* rinnnggg!
Our heroine lifts receiver, says, “Telephone?”
Long, long pause, slight snicker, “What? Umm, it’s Hal. At the station? We have some kind of problem with the transmitter…”
Ever feel both happy (Ooo! Overtime!) and annoyed (Aw, overtime) at once?

>I Am Wondering

27 Oct

>Does it count as “saving the earth” if you are keeping said earth in quart Mason jars in your basement? I mean, if one were maybe so doing….

>A Link…

27 Oct

>Y’know, they did start out as “web logs,” as in “places I have went.” While I have Some Thing percolating in my noggin about Why The Village Is Not Obliged To Raise Your Child No Matter How Sick He Is, I don’t know if the brew will be fit to post; it will make me look even more heartless than I am, which is sayin’ a lot, and won’t address the useless tears I have shed over other people’s tragedies and things I cannot fix.

So try this, instead: an essay on a different sort of topic (or is it?) by Geek With A .45. An Excruciating Truth/”The Lightning”
I am not entirely comfortable with his angle of attack or his conclusions but I can’t find any really big holes in it, either. Well, maybe two: I dunno if keeping America free is an inevitable result of the US of A havin’ hold of The Lightning [and neither does The Geek. My apologies, sir] and I believe anarchy is the real state of human affairs; “civilization” is merely a game most of us have agreed to play and power in the hands of the State is most often the opposite of freedom. But granting that, the boy’s not makin’ stuff up. Read it an’ see for yourself.

…While you’re at it, go have a look at The Lawdog Files. The link is right over there at the right. He’s a genius of the heart — and no fool in other ways, too. Wish there were more like him.

>Now That’s Eatin’

26 Oct

>There are all manner of awfulnesses ‘pon which to comment, including yet another chapter of the modern revival of a custom once common among the pornea of old but I have elected, at least for now, to leave that to others in favor of mentioning something near and dear to me: dinner.

The local Sunflower Market, a sort of hippie capitalist supermarket in the long-ago A&P building where my Dad worked during his High School years, is proud to offer local marvels and their most recent find was a trove of brilliantly-red cherry peppers, the kind usually found only pickled in glass jars.

Fresh cherry peppers offer their own unique heat, slow-building, long-lasting, not as sharp and annoyingly persistent as a jalapeno while both stronger and smoother than pale-green Anaheim peppers. It’s a bit much to eat one by itself, though they could work well on an antipasto tray. You could cook with them; properly treated, they’d add a nice bite to home-made chili. Tonight, I cooked nothing. I was lazy. Here’s how it works:

Start with:
1 or 2 Cherry peppers, finedly diced
At least a half-dozen kalamata olives, chopped (vary to taste) (I love these and used about a dozen).
2 or 3 slices of Jarlsberg or other light Swiss cheese, chopped
1 can of tuna in olive oil, drained
Mix everything in a bowl, let it sit a spell in the fridge if you have time, and enjoy! It needs no other spice or dressing. You could use tuna in spring water but the oil helps keep the cherry peppers from overpowering the other flavors. A fresh herb salad — the bagged-up ready-made kind — makes a nice side.

It won’t cure the ills of the Federal Government or make the hostile, backwards rats of the world love you, but for a little while, those things won’t matter as much!

>Cat Update

25 Oct

>Tommy the cat, for those who have wondered, spent two nights in the Animal Hospital, where they found nothing too awful except his teeth. He came home Monday and went to his regular vet Tuesday for dental work. He had one tooth pulled and has been doing very well, happier and more active than he had been in months. What a relief! He’s quite elderly and very dear to me.