Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kosovo: Fools Rush In


Kosovo: Fools Rush In
by William S. Lind

If the Balkans had an anthem, it would be that 1950's doo-wop hit, "Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread." The latest Balkan fools are the United States and the European Union, which have rushed in to recognize what Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica rightly calls the "fake state of Kosovo." Why is it a fake state? Because there are no Kosovars, only Serbs and Albanians. Each group seeks to unite Kosovo with its homeland, historic Serbia or Greater Albania. An independent Kosovo has the half-life of a sub-atomic particle.

The action of the U.S. and the E.U. in stripping Serbia of Serbs' historic homeland is both a crime and a blunder. It is a crime, first, because no one, not even the U.N., has a legal right to dismember a sovereign state, and second, because the narrative used to justify the illegal action is a lie. The stated justification is that the Serbs, under Slobodan Milosevic, were ethnically cleansing Kosovo of Albanians. As German courts have established, there was no ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo until NATO started bombing Serbia. After NATO launched its unprovoked attack on Serbia (Mrs. Albright's splendid little war), the Serbs dumped the Albanians on NATO's doorstep as a vast logistics spunge. That wasn't terribly nice, but when you are a very small country fighting all of NATO, you do what you can. Ironically, after Serbia was forced to capitulate when Russia withdrew her support, NATO blithely presided over the ethnic cleansing of two-thirds of Kosovo's Serbs by the Albanians.

In international affairs, blunders are worse than crimes, and two of the blunders contained in the recognition of Kosovo are likely to have consequences. The first is the creation of an irredenta, which guarantees another Balkan war. Serbia will never accept the wholesale alienation of one of her provinces. Like France after 1871, her whole policy will focus on recovering her lost territory as soon as the moment is ripe.

The second blunder is further alienating Russia, this time in a way she cannot ignore. If the U.S. and the E.U. are blind to the ghost of 1914, Russia and Serbia are not. The fact that Russia went to war to protect Serbia then puts pressure on Moscow to do so again, lest the Putin government look weak domestically as well as abroad.

Washington and Brussels scoff at the thought, but Russia and Serbia certainly have military options. A guerrilla war against European and American troops and police in Serb-inhabited portions of Kosovo is likely to occur spontaneously, at least at a low level. IEDs and sniper ambushes are easy enough to arrange. Belgrade can ramp it up by smuggling in shaped-charge anti-armor mines, dual-warhead RPGs and sniper rifles, along with Serbian special forces to make sure they are used effectively. If Europe responds with economic measures against Serbia, Russia now has enough petro-dollars to support Belgrade economically. If NATO threatens a new bombing campaign, Russia can up the ante too by sending Russian air defense troops and equipment to Serbia. The last time NATO bombed Serbia, Russia was too weak to respond. That is not true now, nor is President Putin for sale the way Mr. Yeltsin was.

The last thing the world needs now is a new Balkan war, with NATO and Russia caught in a contest of mutual escalation. Is there a way to walk this dog back? I think there is, if Washington and Brussels regain some sense of reality. They can do what Bismarck did in 1878 and call a conference. There, a solution could be negotiated that all parties might live with, even if none really liked it. One such solution would be to partition Kosovo between Serbia and Albania, with Serbia compensated for her loss of some of Kosovo by being allowed to annex the Serbian portion of Bosnia. The fact that both Kosovo and Bosnia are fake states would make such a deal all the easier. As the E.U. has already discovered, maintaining fake states is an expensive and never-ending business.

Fools rush in, but sometimes even fools are wise enough to back out again. Berlin, are you listening? The Congress of Berlin of 2008 may be as successful as the Congress of Berlin of 1878 in averting war in Europe.

Too many stupid laws

We clearly have far too many stupid laws, and stupid criminals, and stupid politicians making the stupid laws...

Record-High Ratio of Americans in Prison

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 28, 2008; 11:5

More than one in 100 adults Americans is in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year, in addition to more than $5 billion spent by the federal government, according to a report released today.

With more than 2.3 million people behind bars at the start of 2008, the United States leads the world in both the number and the percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving even far more populous China a distant second, noted the report by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.


Naturalistic Evolution, Theistic Evolution, Old Earth Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, which one is true? Or is there some other I’ve not heard of yet that is the “truth” about how we all got to be where we are?

I have been forced to reject Young Earth Creationism for its blatant silliness and implausibility. I mean, clearly the earth is far older than 10,000 years! Look out at the starts and the idea that it was all created "last Tuesday" is just plain silly! Stuff has clearly been out there, and around here, for billions of years. If you can't fit that in with the bible then either the bible is flat wrong or you are reading it wrong. Then there is the Young Earth take on the flood, explaining all of the geology we see around us based on the result of a single massive world wide flood. All of the "science" I read from the YEC perspective was simply bad science, it made no sense at all.

Theistic Evolution is, as I understand it, the idea that God directed the gradual evolution of life up until today and beyond I suppose. God used evolution to create all species on earth including man. The difficulty I have with that is figuring out where would you draw the line between man and animal, how do you get the Imago Dei (image of God) into humanity through evolution? How then can you define the fall and sin? It seems that the essence of Christianity, that man is a fallen creature needing redemption by Christ, vanishes into the fog with this idea.

Naturalistic Evolution simply ignores God altogether, God is not necessary or even desirable with this paradigm. But this idea has many problems that have not yet been explained. The initial origin of life for example has not yet been plausibly explained by those who maintain that it all happened without the intervention of any creator. Heck, the existence of the universe itself hasn't been explained this way ;-) The fossil record that is supposed to show gradual change over time instead shows great stability followed by sudden leaps and changes, what Stephen J. Gould called "Punctuated Equilibrium." The thing is there is no real explanation for how this happens! The solutions provided by Gould and others are not all that strong, in my layman's opinion anyway.

All of which leaves me with the idea that I'm currently studying, Old Earth Creationism. This is the idea that the science that says the earth is billions of years old is correct, as is the fossil record that shows change in the number and types of species living on earth over the millions of years since life first appeared on earth. This idea, as expounded by Reasons to Believe, a group who tries to do real science based on this idea, is that God directly created life at the beginning, and has periodically intervened directly to create new life as He prepared the earth for the creation humanity in the last couple of hundred thousand years. They harmonize all of this with the bible, taking it quite literally but reading it somewhat differently than the Young Earth folk do.

I am not yet completely convinced that the Reasons to Believe model is the way to go, but it is interesting and compelling, and, if it really holds up, it allows me to have my cake and eat it too! I can have study of the past, replete with dinosaurs and Homo Erectus and myriad other fascinating creatures, along with direct creation of the species and, most importantly the direct creation of man with the Imago Dei and subsequent fall and then plan of redemption still makes perfect sense.

I am still doing more reading, currently I'm reading "Origins of Life" by Rana and Ross, and recently read "Who was Adam?" by the same authors. I'm hopeful that this finally reconciles what I know to be true about the history of the earth and what I know to be true about the history of redemption through Christ.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On Lying

I came across this article from New York Magazine about kids and lying. It is fascinating! I had noticed that it seemed Serenity was starting to lie more frequently not too long before we removed her from the public school. She told some huge whoppers when she had been in trouble in class or on the playground or in conflict with other kids there. She really was not very good at it, but she was very persistent with them, refusing to admit to the lie even when confronted with evidence that we knew she was lying. The New York Magazine story says that, in part, kids who suddenly start to lie more are showing they are having trouble with coping.

Thrown into elementary school, many kids begin lying to their peers as a coping mechanism, as a way to vent frustration or get attention. Any sudden spate of lying, or dramatic increase in lying, is a danger sign: Something has changed in that child’s life, in a way that troubles him. “Lying is a symptom—often of a bigger problem behavior,” explains Talwar. “It’s a strategy to keep themselves afloat.” Read the whole story here.

Since Serenity has been out of school the magnitude, and frequency, of lies that I've noticed have gone way down. With fewer rules and less need to lie she is lying less. This is a good thing since she won't have so much practice at it and thus, I suppose, will not end up being very good at it. The hoped for result then is that whether she wants to or not, she'll pretty much have to be somewhat more honest, by necessity if not choice.

Heh, well maybe and maybe not but we can hope so. ;-/

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shall we kill our TV?

Remember back in the 20th century there was a movement of sorts, or maybe it was just one crackpot, that advocated shooting our TVs? No one did it of course, though a few people got rid of TVs for a time. I remember at our house there was a time, I don't remember how long it was but it seemed like a couple of years to me, when we did not have a TV in the house.

I have come across some evidence, I think, that this might actually have been a good idea. We don't watch much TV around here but I'm thinking that maybe we still watch too much!

Read The Plug-in-Drug and the The Plug-in-Drug Redux by Mike Rogers.

I've ordered two books mentioned in the articles,
The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn and Four Arguments For The Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander.

When I mentioned the idea to Lora and Serenity I found major resistance from Lora, but not so much from Serenity. When you combine what you read in The Plug-in-Drug and the The Plug-in-Drug Redux with what you read in the story I linked to on Sunday from NPR about play, the idea is even more compelling. I'm not going to do such a radical thing (hey, there's some evidence for the power of TV right there, the idea that not having one is somehow radical) unless I become convinced that it is actually harmful. Of course, really, I'm already convinced of that, I'm just looking for confirmation :-)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Some encouraging thoughts on the return of freedom

Here is an excerpt from an article by Gary North:


People ask me: "When will we get our liberties back?" I always answer: "When checks from Washington D.C. no longer buy anything."

An overnight collapse of the monetary system would be catastrophic. In contrast, the erosion of the dollar to zero over a decade or more would be liberating.

The government is going broke. All over the West, all national governments are going broke. This is the fundamental political fact of our age. This is the elephant in the living room.

Two historians of international repute announced this scenario within a few months of each other: Martin van Creveld, in The Rise and Decline of the State (1999), and Jacques Barzun, in From Dawn to Decadence (2000). In their concluding chapters, both authors predicted the disintegration of the modern nation-state, and for the same two reasons: (1) the inability of the nation-state to defend its citizens from crime and violence: (2) the impossibility of the nation-state to fulfill its promises of income security to retired people.

The nation-state is steadily losing legitimacy. This is the political fact that the pundits refuse to discuss. Without widespread legitimacy – respect that generates voluntary cooperation by citizens – a civil government is doomed. It must resort to power, and the enforcement of power is costly. Read all.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The importance of free play time...

Seems there is a vital learning function to just playing around with whatever is at hand and playing with commercially produced toys doesn't really seem to work for that. I guess I'll encourage more free form play time for Serenity, not that she is lacking in the self talk department and imaginative play, she does both frequently. Check out this NPR story.

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills

Listen Now [7 min 50 sec] add to playlist

Boy playing with animal figurines
Tim Pannell

Researchers say imaginative play allows children to make their own rules and practice self-control. Corbis

Morning Edition, February 21, 2008 · On October 3, 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club debuted on television. As we all now know, the show quickly became a cultural icon, one of those phenomena that helped define an era.

What is less remembered but equally, if not more, important, is that another transformative cultural event happened that day: The Mattel toy company began advertising a gun called the "Thunder Burp."

I know — who's ever heard of the Thunder Burp?

Well, no one.

The reason the advertisement is significant is because it marked the first time that any toy company had attempted to peddle merchandise on television outside of the Christmas season. Until 1955, ad budgets at toy companies were minuscule, so the only time they could afford to hawk their wares on TV was during Christmas. But then came Mattel and the Thunder Burp, which, according to Howard Chudacoff, a cultural historian at Brown University, was a kind of historical watershed. Almost overnight, children's play became focused, as never before, on things — the toys themselves. Read more.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Racket makes me CRAZY!

Aha! Now when I say that all of this racket is driving me nuts, I have scientific backing, of sorts, for my contention! :-)

Read The Noisy Epidemic By Elizabeth Svoboda

Friday, February 22, 2008

Kosovo and the Alamo

Just a comment here on the relationship between Kosovo and the Alamo, both are icons of a heroic defense of freedom in the face of overwhelming odds. Both were defeats for the ones who look to them for inspiration. Kosovo is where the Serbs fought the mighty Turk Empire and were defeated. The Alamo is where a few Texans fought the Mexicans and were defeated.

Now then, imagine if the Alamo were seized by the UN and returned, along with 1/4 of Texas, to Mexico by Russian and Chinese UN troops because the population of that part of Texas was mostly Mexican anyway and the Texas authorities had been cracking down on violent Mexican attacks on police stations in the area and a brilliant Mexican propaganda campaign convinced Europeans and Asians that it was some sort of genocide...

This is exactly the same situation as Kosovo. Do you wonder how most "American" Texans would react to such a thing? Probably with a lot more violence than the Serbs have shown so far would be my guess. In my opinion the Serbs have been acting with great restraint

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gordon Neufeld - Thoughts on Homeschooled Children

I don't know exactly where this comes from but it's attributed to Gordon Neufeld. I saw it on a homeschooling email list, it makes good sense to me:

The prevailing assumption is that the greatest drawback to
homeschooling is the loss of social interaction with peers. Times
have changed however, making peer interaction more of a problem than
an asset. Instead or peer interaction facilitating the process of
socialization, it is now more likely to lead to the premature
replacement of adults by peers in the life of a child. Such children
become peer-oriented rather than adult-oriented and are more
difficult to parent and teach. Furthermore, peer-oriented children
fail to mature psychologically and their integration into adult
society is compromised.

Because of escalating peer orientation it is now the school that has
become risky business. What was once the most powerful argument
against homeschooling is now its most persuasive defense. Contrary to
prevailing concerns, homeschooled children are showing evidence of
being more mature psychologically, more socially adept, and more
academically prepared for university. They have become the favored
applicants of a number of major universities. If current trends in
society continue, homeschooling may very well become a necessary
antidote to escalating peer orientation. We may need to reclaim our
children not only to preserve or recover the context in which to
teach and parent them, but also for the sake of society at large and
the transmission of culture.

The developmental needs of children were never paramount in the
arguments that led to the inception of compulsory education. Indeed,
there was little that was even understood or known about child
development at that time. It should not be surprising therefore to
find that developmental science does not support school as the best
context for children to learn, to mature, or to become socialized.
Although the school has become a central institution in our society,
it is not without risks to emotional health and development.

There are a number of sound arguments that make homeschooling a
child's best bet. The cultivation and preservation of the child-
parent attachment is at the fore of these arguments. The attachment
patterns of children are shifting, largely due to the loss of culture
and the institutionalization of education. This is sabotaging the
context necessary for healthy development as well as eroding the
natural power required for parents to do their job. Attachment is
also the primary context and motivation for learning. When children
are more attached to their peers than their parents and their
teachers then peers become their true teachers. Attachment is also
the primary mechanism of cultural transmission. We cannot inculcate
our children with our values and beliefs if we are not the ones they
get their bearings from or take their cues from.

Another strong argument for homeschooling is the emotional health of
the child. Developmental science is now putting emotion at the core
of learning and behavior, including the development of the brain and
the mind. Children need to have soft hearts, capable of being easily
touched and moved by that which should affect them. When children are
not in right relationship with their parents or are prematurely
subjected to the wounding ways of peer interaction, the resulting
flight from vulnerability desensitizes them. They lose their
feelings, at least the more vulnerable ones. Homeschoolers, because
of their strong relationships to those responsible for them are much
more likely to have soft hearts and therefore much more likely to
realize their full potential as human beings. Research bears this out.

Yet another case for homeschooling is the individuation argument. The
primary purpose of development is for children to become their own
persons capable of functioning apart from attachments, knowing their
own minds and having their own goals. It is no secret that
unsupervised peer interaction crushes individuality and undermines
the emergence of true selfhood. As Jean Jacque Rousseau said over 200
years ago, individuation is not only the prerequisite to true
community but requires a long gestation time in the context of loving
relationship with a parent. Personhood must be homegrown. The womb of
individuation is warm and caring attachments to loving parents. If we
desire our children to realize their true potential as human beings,
we must hold on to them until they can hold on to themselves.

More on Wikileaks

This was posted on the SF Gate comments section, I love it :

I *puffyheart* wikileaks! Even though I've assumed using it will only add to the algorithmic evidence against me when the Patriotic PMCs take over. My only sadness was that not many people knew about this wonderful website. Well, that's over. Thanks corrupt Bush-appointed judge! Thanks evil Nazi-money-laundering bankers! And thank you, America, for finding a Wikileak mirror site and discovering how good freedom really feels. It's like that last scene in "V" is for Vendetta, we've all got to be willing to wear the mask.

Wikileaks and police state censorship

I saw an article today on SF Gate about some nit wit Bush appointed Federal Judge ordering a website I'd never heard of called Wikileaks shut down because they were publishing some bank documents from some corrupt Swiss bank. The amusing thing is that they can't actually do it! Even more amusing is that this just draws attention to the site and makes it that much more visible, yay idiot goons! :-)

There are mirror sites all over the world and it's almost impossible for thuggish police state goons to figure out how to close off all of the leaks :-)

One mirror site is here:

The US site they tried to close down is still here:

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Also found this here:

Here is a list of Wikileaks Cover Name URL links which worked ok for us in the last few hours:

Good bye America

Ah well it's clear that America truly is dead and gone.

I had hoped that with the strong campaign of Ron Paul, with the enthusiastic participation of those thousands of freedom lovers who turned out and who contributed, there would be at least a ten or fifteen percent vote for freedom and peace. Instead Ron got the usual fringe vote, negligible in the larger picture actually.

Amerikans instead voted, on the Republican side, for a crazed maniac bent on a hundred years war, bent on world conquest through an insane plan I wouldn't even attempt if I was playing Civilization! On the Democratic side Amerikans opted for empty platitudes about "change." As if voting for someone with a different skin color actually meant change when his policies are identical to those of his opponents! That is the same idea as the monolithic opinions of those who advocate "diversity" in the universities, they don't mean diversity of opinion but of skin colors, it's meaningless drek.

So, goodbye Amerika, it is sad to see you go but maybe now we can cut up the corpse.

Free California!

USA out of the California Republic NOW!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kosovo. Devic monastery

Yes, the PPPP Albanian Kosovars are wonderful folk.

Look how they so generously redecorated the Devic Monastery in Kosovo:

After all of that, recovery, but what now with "independence?

18. December 2007 - 10:56

The Devic Monastery endures, it is alive and the sanctuary that is surrounded by barbed wire continues to exist. Almost devastated during the 2004 pogrom, the sanctuary has recovered, the refectories and the church have been renewed.

Манастир Девич слава 2007 The Devic Monastery - everything is as it is in any temple of faith. And yet, nothing is the same: Barbed wire around the Holy Place, foreign soldiers armed to their teeth, armored vehicles. They were here in the spring of 2004 and the picture was the same. Devic underwent an assault back then, and the army was rescuing the nuns. The monastery was burnt down and relics centuries old disappeared in the flames, the shelter was burnt down, and the Monastery's property was looted.

From such ashes and dust, just like from death - a resurrection, the sanctuary has reemerged. And it is living its ages-long endurance. The sisterhood, with the support of its people, its love and faith, has renewed the refectories and the church. It has also saved the relics of Saint Joannicius (Joakinije in Serbian, translator's note) of Devic. Read More.

The Puling Putrid Punks of Pristina

Here is an interview from Der Spiegel on the "independence" of Kosovo.
February 19, 2008


'Kosovo Is not Independent, It Is an EU Protectorate'

Kosovo's declaration of independence has been recognized by many Western countries, but Serbia claims the move is illegal. Kosovo expert Dusan Reljic tells SPIEGEL ONLINE about his concerns that the move will undermine international law, pave the way for future disputes and prevent longterm peace in the region...

...The decision of the Kosovo Albanians to proclaim independence is not something that the EU has endorsed. The EU has been pushed by the US into this position. This was not original EU policy. Read More.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lutherans and politics / Voting and Freedom

I was getting all cranky just today thinking about how some Lutherans talk about politics. I was discouraged thinking that maybe my take on freedom might actually make me "not Lutheran" in some vital way.

Then I came across this wonderful post on Lew Rockwell, actually it was linked from the author's blog that I read from time to time. It's great stuff and I take it to mean that I can still be a Lutheran. :-) After all it's written by a genuine Lutheran pastor! Heh.

In any case, here it is in all its glory! Original is here, the blog Father Hollywood is here.

Voting and Freedom

by Larry L. Beane II

This is the time of year when we get unsolicited e-mails and phone calls urging us to vote for this person or that. I got an e-mail from a poly-sci grad student from George Mason University urging me to vote for a particular candidate because I'm an ordained minister. To his credit, he did write back when I replied to his spam. Usually, you just get annoying recorded phone messages – being on the "do not call" list notwithstanding.

I did vote in the primary this year. I may vote in the general election, but I'm not sure that I will. I could exercise the write-in vote if the partisan picks are unacceptable – but then again, if I have something more important to do than cast a protest vote, I'll do that instead. I'm pretty busy these days serving a kingdom that is not of this world.

There are a lot of misconceptions about voting and elections – especially when it comes to voting for president. Americans do need to understand this about presidential elections: your vote doesn't count. I'm not saying not to do it, but just go into the little booth with eyes wide open.

Obviously, the president of the United States is elected by the Electoral College – not by popular vote. And, of course, the last time the popular vote was contradicted by the college was in the last Federal election. I'm not opposed to this, mind you, as I do see the wisdom of a republican model over and against a democratic model. However, the last time a president was elected by one entire region over the other (and with a minority popular vote) the result was a political disaster for the United States – followed thereafter by the first of many bloody and expensive aggressive wars of conquest. This directly resulted in a radical move toward centralization and imperialism (in other words: Big Government).

Anyway, the voters in the U.S. don't vote for president. It doesn't matter what the ballot says. You actually vote for delegates. And in fact, in the primaries and caucuses, the political parties themselves select the delegates. And how are they selected? Read here. Surprised? It gets better. The parties notoriously change the rules on the fly. Here in Louisiana, we have both a caucus and a primary. How the whole thing works is so convoluted that I suspect nobody – not even the Secretary of State – really understands the machinations.

So, in other words, you go to the polling location thinking you are voting for a candidate, when in fact, the primary is a canvass by the political party of your choice to determine a delegate to a party convention. This delegate may or may not be bound to vote for any particular candidate – depending on the party's rules at that time and place. Confused? Well, what isn't confusing is that whom he or she votes for at the convention can (and is) determined by party hacks and hundreds of thousands of dollars in "campaign contributions."

And even though Mardi Gras is over, here comes the cliché parade: "Follow the money trail. Cui bono? Money talks, and..." I would say "Throw me somethin' mistah!" but I think I've been thrown enough, thank you.

Of course, most Americans either don't know this, or don't care. They think voting is a holy sacrament. Some of my Lutheran brethren even interpret Romans 13 in such a way as to declare it a sin (a sin for crying out loud, like stealing or adultery!) if you don't participate in the process of ritual mob-bribery. It sort of begs the question: "Is it a sin to ply delegates with campaign contributions?"

A couple months back, I addressed this general topic in a different context.

Personally, I don't think the Republic is better off if everyone votes. I believe universal suffrage is way overrated. If people don't know anything about the candidates, or if they don't understand the issues, they shouldn't vote. I personally abstain from voting in any election if 1) I don't know the candidates or issues, 2) either choice is repugnant, or 3) participation would violate my conscience or the Constitution. Fewer informed and smart people voting is better than everyone just picking at random, judging a candidate by his name, or blindly walking into the booth with a voter's guide prepared by a labor union or other special interest group.

Some "patriotic" scolds trot out the old canard: "If you don't vote, you have no right to complain" or "you have no right to an opinion." Nonsense. Rights come from God. Rights are not granted by the state. Nor are rights things you earn – either by voting, or by giving money to a "super-delegate." To put it in "Lutheranese": this kind of thinking turns grace into a work. Translation: Freedom is not something one earns – it is a gift of God. Even one's citizenship is typically a birthright rather than something one acquires by jumping through hoops or making a purchase (though immigrants typically must take a test and spend a lot of money to become citizens).

It's especially interesting to hear Americans make this argument about voting being a requirement to hold an opinion – given that we have more than 700 military bases outside of the United States – in more than 100 countries. There seems to be no shortage of opinions about how those countries are run, and yet we don't vote in any of those elections.

Similarly, Republicans will give you plenty of opinions about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Democrats are hardly shy about complaining about Huckabee and Romney – even though none of them votes in the opposing party's primary. Americans have a lot of opinions about the governments of France and England, Russia and Argentina – all while never casting a vote in any of those countries.

In Louisiana, many people have strong loyalties to the LSU Tigers sports teams – while never having set foot in a classroom in Baton Rouge. Do they have the right to those opinions? Well, I don't see the university asking to see your diploma before letting you wear the tee shirt.

Just what exactly is it about freedom that is so hard to understand? I am honestly perplexed.

You have a right to your opinion – it is part of the natural, God-given right to be free. And yes, you have a right to complain about your government, or anything else – whether or not you vote.

February 18, 2008

Rev. Larry Beane [send him mail] serves as associate pastor and teaches junior high Latin and Religion classes at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Gretna, LA. Visit his blog.

Copyright © 2008

Martin Luther, Doctor and Reformer

Martin Luther, born on 10 November 1483 in Eisleben, Germany, initially began studies leading toward a degree in law. However, after a close encounter with death, he switched to the study of theology, entered an Augustinian monastery, was ordained a priest in 1505 and received a doctorate in theology in 1512. As a professor at the newly established University of Wittenberg, his scriptural studies led him to question many of the church's teachings and practices, especially the selling of indulgences. His refusal to back down from his convictions resulted in his excommunication in 1521. Following a period of seclusion at the Wartburg castle, Luther returned to Wittenberg, where he spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching, translating the Scriptures and writing hymns and numerous theological treatises. He is remembered and honored for his lifelong emphasis on the biblical truth that for Christ's sake God declares us righteous by grace through faith alone. He died on 18 February 1546 while visiting the town of his birth. [From "Commemorations Biographies," Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on Worship, ]

Sunday, February 17, 2008


So, the murdering-Muslim-terrorist (yeah, I know that is triply redundant) puppets occupying that part of Serbia known as Kosovo have now declared "independence", an "independence" that will last exactly as long as it is propped up by its sponsors, the American Empire. As soon as the Imperial Storm Troopers no longer are available to prop it up, it will vanish back into Serbia.

The truth is this is NOT a real state, it is a new province of Albania, taken by force, by military invasion, from Serbia, and given to evil criminals, all with the backing of the American Empire.

Yet one more reason to pray for the destruction of the Evil Empire that America has morphed into, may it vanish along with the Mongols into the dust bin of history. Boo Hiss etc...

I advocate immediate secession for the California Republic, if it's good for Kosovo it should be OK for us.

USA out of California NOW!

No, I'm not kidding...

Philosophies of parenting.

The more I deal with Serenity day to day the more I realize that the old fashioned spare the rod spoil the child stuff is just plain wrong.

Here is a piece from Jan Hunt on the Natural Child site that I found reproduced on the Joyfully Rejoicing site:

Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children

By Jan Hunt, M.Sc.

1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready.

We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 4-year-old to clean his room. In all of these situations, we are being unrealistic. We are setting ourselves up for disappointment and setting up the child for repeated failures to please us. Yet many parents ask their young children to do things that even an older child would find difficult. In short, we ask children to stop acting their age.

2. We become angry when a child fails to meet our needs.

A child can only do what he can do. If a child cannot do something we ask, it is unfair and unrealistic to expect or demand more, and anger only makes things worse. A 2-year-old can only act like a 2-year-old, a 5-year-old cannot act like a 10-year-old, and a 10-year-old cannot act like an adult. To expect more is unrealistic and unhelpful. There are limits to what a child can manage, and if we don't accept those limits, it can only result in frustration on both sides.

3. We mistrust the child's motives.

If a child cannot meet our needs, we assume that he is being defiant, instead of looking closely at the situation from the child's point of view, so we can determine the truth of the matter. In reality, a "defiant" child may be ill, tired, hungry, in pain, responding to an emotional or physical hurt, or struggling with a hidden cause such as food allergy. Yet we seem to overlook these possibilities in favor of thinking the worst about the child's "personality".

4. We don't allow children to be children.

We somehow forget what it was like to be a child ourselves, and expect the child to act like an adult instead of acting his age. A healthy child will be rambunctious, noisy, emotionally expressive, and will have a short attention span. All of these "problems" are not problems at all, but are in fact normal qualities of a normal child. Rather, it is our society and our society's expectations of perfect behavior that are abnormal.

5. We get it backwards.

We expect, and demand, that the child meet our needs - for quiet, for uninterrupted sleep, for obedience to our wishes, and so on. Instead of accepting our parental role to meet the child's needs, we expect the child to care for ours. We can become so focussed on our own unmet needs and frustrations that we forget this is a child, who has needs of his own.

6. We blame and criticize when a child makes a mistake.

Yet children have had very little experience in life, and they will inevitably make mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of learning at any age. Instead of understanding and helping the child, we blame him, as though he should be able to learn everything perfectly the first time. To err is human; to err in childhood is human and unavoidable. Yet we react to each mistake, infraction of a rule, or misbehavior with surprise and disappointment. It makes no sense to understand that a child will make mistakes, and then to react as though we think the child should behave perfectly at all times.

7. We forget how deeply blame and criticism can hurt a child.

Many parents are coming to understand that physically hurting a child is wrong and harmful, yet many of us forget how painful angry words, insults, and blame can be to a child who can only believe that he is at fault.

8. We forget how healing loving actions can be.

We fall into vicious cycles of blame and misbehavior, instead of stopping to give the child love, reassurance, self-esteem, and security with hugs and kind words.

9. We forget that our behavior provides the most potent lessons to the child.

It is truly "not what we say but what we do" that the child takes to heart. A parent who hits a child for hitting, telling him that hitting is wrong, is in fact teaching that hitting is right, at least for those in power. It is the parent who responds to problems with peaceful solutions who is teaching his child how to be a peaceful adult. So-called problems present our best opportunity for teaching values, because children learn best when they are learning about real things in real life.

10. We see only the outward behavior, not the love and good intentions inside the child.

When a child's behavior disappoints us, we should, more than anything else we do, "assume the best". We should assume that the child means well and is only behaving as well as possible considering all the circumstances (both obvious and hidden from us), together with his level of experience in life. If we always assume the best about our child, the child will be free to do his best. If we give only love, love is all we will receive.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Class Dismissed (Unschooling)

Here is an article about unschooling in the UC Santa Cruz student paper, City on a Hill Press. It's pretty positive sounding I think. So far we, meaning Serenity, Lora and me, have been going in this direction for the most part. I make suggestions and Serenity either is interested so we follow up or she says she doesn't want to do that and we veer off into another direction for the time being.

That whole concept makes me pretty nervous though :-) How can this work out in "real life?" As if this isn't real life! As a result of my nervousness, I picked up the Five in a Row book so I could feel like I have some structure. We've only been using it for a couple of days so I can't say yet how that is going to work out, though I'm still following the same guidelines I set for myself earlier, if Serenity wants to go some direction other than the one I'm aiming at at the moment I try to switch to what it is she is wanting to know or do. I guess this isn't exactly "unschooling" but it's pretty unstructured. I guess this is eclectic homeschooling as some people have called it. We just pick and choose from what's out there and go with what seems to work today.

We bought a big set of Double Twelve dominoes the other day for fun and math practice. We've played a couple of games with them, but mostly set them up in interesting patterns and knock them over :-)

Yesterday Serenity and I went to TVE (Tri-Valley Explorers) Park day in Livermore for the third week in a row. She really enjoys her time there and the kids are all really nice. This afternoon we are going to go to a Game Day up in Alamo at the Round Table Pizza place there, that is another TVE group who meet up to play various board games. Serenity likes games so I thought we'd give it a try.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Theater of the Absurd

This is just plain grotesque:

If you have ever wondered why they are called PIGS that sure made it plain. Overweight, overbearing abusive PIG. A slap up side the head with a brick and then being forced to get a productive job that doesn't involve harassing people would be an appropriate punishment for this jerk.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine, Martyr

A physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of the Emperor Claudius, Valentine become one of the noted martyrs of the third century. The commemoration of his death, which occurred in the year 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the early church of the West. Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, he left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on an irregularly-shaped piece of paper. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine's Day in many nations. [From "Commemorations Biographies," Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on Worship]

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So why do I keep this job anyway?

I mean, this job doesn't pay very well by Bay Area standards and the benefits are pretty minimal, so why am I still here?

It's the schedule mostly. So let me explain myself.

A "normal" full time job is 9-5 Monday through Friday.

That means you would work:

5 days a week times 52 weeks a year or 260 days

If you get 10 holidays a year off then you work 250 days

If you get 3 weeks of vacation then you work 237 days

365 days in the year less 237 days worked leaves you with 128 days (4.2 months) to yourself.

Now there is my schedule here at my job. I work full time but I work an odd schedule, I work Sunday 8 hours, Monday and Tuesday 12 hours and then every other Wednesday 12 hours. So, I work 3 days one week and 4 days the next week, out of every 14 days I'm off 7.

On this schedule I start out with a base of 182 work days per year.

If I get 10 holidays that would leave 172 work days

I get 3 weeks of vacation so that leaves 159 work days

365 days in the year less 159 days worked leaves me with 206 days (6.7 months) to myself.

206 days less 128 days for the "normal" schedule leaves me with 78 more days off than most people in a year, that is an additional 2 1/2 months a year off!

And that is why I keep this job, my time is way more important to me than money is. :-)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The David Gribble Archive

An interesting take on things:

In conventional schools children are literally prisoners: the law keeps them in. Learning according to inclination is not an option; children's inclinations are not considered relevant; adults tell them what they must learn. They make the best of it and enjoy themselves as much as they can, but they are always under someone else's authority, unable to conduct themselves as they would wish, unable to follow up their own interests. School seems to be designed to destroy their individuality, to turn them all, as the Swiss teacher, Jürg Jegge says, into cogwheels that will fit smoothly into the machinery of society.

  • Governments cannot make schools ideal merely by altering the amount of topic work or testing children more often or buying more computers or improving the staff-student ratio. The ideal school must have an entirely different atmosphere. It must not even try to manufacture cogs.
  • Dan Greenberg of Sudbury Valley School, Massachusetts, commented that when compulsory education was introduced in the nineteenth century, parents objected because it prevented their children from learning anything useful. They wanted their children at home, observing and helping adults at work, learning the things that they would need in the future. Time directed by a teacher was time wasted.
  • Nowadays people seem to believe the opposite - for children, time not directed by a teacher is time wasted. The pendulum has swung too far. Educationists have become so fascinated by the concept of teaching that they have forgotten to consider what children actually need to learn.
  • Ideal school-leavers would be literate and numerate, of course, but they would also be happy, considerate, honest, enthusiastic, tolerant, self-confident, well-informed, articulate, practical, co-operative, flexible, creative, individual, determined people who knew what their talents and interests were, had enjoyed developing them, and intended to make good use of them. They would be people who cared for others because they had been cared for themselves.
  • Conventional school organisation seems designed to produce superficially competent people who, underneath, are evasive, self-interested, ruthless, frustrated, cautious, obedient, timid conformists; they will be complacent about approved achievements and easily humiliated by public failure; they will have spent so much time at school struggling to acquire knowledge that does not interest them and skills that are irrelevant to them, that they will probably have lost all confidence in the value of their own true interests and talents. They will be people who don't care much about others, because most other people have never seemed to care much about them.
  • The school curriculum is supposed to equip young people for life. I would suggest that the lesson that you remember most clearly from your years in school is simply the importance of doing what is expected of you, the importance of fulfilling a proper function as a cog.
  • All over the world there are conventional schools that ignore children's curiosity, suppress their energy and overrule their generous moral impulses. And all over the world, as I have at last discovered, there are people who have seen the damage that this does, and have set up schools that are different. I have written about eighteen of these schools in Real Education: Varieties of Freedom, and another four, at greater length, in Lifelines. They are schools which decline to train children to become cogs, and indeed help children who have been so trained to lose their "coggishness."
  • In all of these schools the adults have a fundamental respect for the children and believe it is right to allow them to develop naturally as themselves. Children are not seen as clay to be moulded or pots to be filled; they are not regarded as trainee adults, but as people, just like anybody else.

What am I going to eat for supper?

I go back and forth on this one. I want to eat vegetarian, so I start doing that and make some big declaration about it. Then I change my mind, usually due to the fact that almost everyone around me is munching on the flesh of dead animals.

Then there is the whole "diet" thing. I went on the Atkins diet a couple of times, it really works for losing weight but I hate the feeling of being stuffed full of dead flesh and fat. I never really feel good when I'm doing that. Then I tried the Dean Ornish diet, which is the exact reverse of the Atkins diet. All vegetarian no fat.

Both are pretty extreme and both worked for me and both didn't work long term because I love all the foods on both sides of them. Vegetarianism doesn't work for me because from time to time I actually like meat.

So what to do? I'm overweight by a good 40 pounds and need to get rid of it... oh wait, exercise!

But that is so HARD! I want it to be EASY!

All right then, I've decided what to do next and it will not be easy. I'm going to start getting more exercise, walking probably, maybe we'll call it "hiking" even. I'm also going to reduce the amount of meat I eat even more than I already have, I really don't eat much meat as it is though. Then I'm going to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables I eat and cut down on cheese.

But I LOVE cheese! I want MORE cheese, not LESS!

Still, this is the only reasonable and sustainable plan, more exercise, healthier foods, smaller portions... oh yeah smaller portions. I don't really need to whine about that one, just using a smaller plate seems to work for that.

There is also the matter not eating just because it's "Time to eat." Waiting until there is at least a pang of hunger in the belly and not just a ringing bell or an emotional craving... yeah that's a hard one there but still it's something to keep in my mind. This morning for breakfast, though to tell the truth I was NOT hungry when I ate it, I had a non-fat peach yogurt and a banana that I sliced up in the bowl with it. It was yummy and I'm really full now but probably I could have waited until later in the day for that.

I'm encouraging Serenity to eat when and how much she wants, with a lot of direction from me on the WHAT she eats. :-) We avoid sugar and processed foods as much as possible and try to keep up the fruits and veggies. She frequently surprises me by turning down extra helpings of food she really likes.

I'll let you know how this all works out.


Other things:

Last night when I got off of the train in Dublin and went to my car in the parking lot I found my right front tire was flat :-( I briefly toyed with the idea of calling AAA but decided that by the time they came out and changed the tire I could have done it myself and been home drinking a glass of "whine" and so I broke out the tools from the trunk, removed my overcoat and cranked up the jack. In ten minutes I was on the way home where I had a glass of wine while I whined.

Today I'll need to go to Big O tires and get it fixed, gee what fun, I can't think of anything I'd rather do than sit around a tire store on a nice sunny day :-(

Maybe I'll take Serenity along and we can walk over to the library while they fix it and get one of the Five in a Row books! That would be a little more productive and enjoyable.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Symphony and Homeschooling update

Last night Mike and I went to the Symphony in San Francisco. It was wonderful, as usual. We heard three twentieth century pieces performed in reverse chronological order.

Ingo Metzmacher and Hélène Grimaud

You know Ligeti if you know 2001: A Space Odyssey. Celebrated French pianist Hélène Grimaud performs Bartók’s last piano concerto—music of calm and elegiac beauty.“Grimaud is a tremendous pianist and tremendously enjoyable.”– Boston Globe


Ingo Metzmacher, conductor
Hélène Grimaud, piano


Ligeti - San Francisco Polyphony (1974)
Bartók - Piano Concerto No. 3 (1945)
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 6 (1939)

The only down side was when we went to our table during the intermission our drink order had been mangled! Instead of two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon we wound up with two glasses of Sauvignon blanc! Ack! White wine! :-/

Then today I worked for Pat so having been up late last night I'm really worn out at this point in the week.

I did get Serenity's records from her former school in the mail today, so we are "accepted" now by the local school district and won't be hearing from them again. That is a very good thing.

Also in the mail today I got the Five in a Row Book I sent for, so we can start using it with Serenity next week. I like the way they tie in all of the subjects to an enjoyable children's story, Serenity loves story books so I think this will work out fine.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is the 40 days before Easter. If you count forward you will notice there are more than 40 days between today and Easter, that is because Sunday's don't count and you don't fast on the Sundays! Because every Sunday we celebrate the resurrection, all Sundays are considered to be another Easter. Tonight we will have a service at our church that will include the imposition of ashes, the pastor makes a cross from ash on your forehead and says "From ashes you came and to ashes you shall return" or something close to that. At our church the ashes are made from palms brought back to the church by the members who saved them from Palm Sunday last year, they are burned and mixed with some oil for the imposition. This is a season of repentance. From the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod's web site:

Q. What is the significance of Lent?

A. Early in the Church's history, the major events in Christ's life were observed with special observances, such as His birth, baptism, death, resurrection and ascension. As these observances developed, a period of time was set aside prior to the major events of Jesus' birth and resurrection as a time of preparation.

During Lent, the Church's worship assumes a more penitential character. The color for the season is purple, a color often associated with penitence. The "Hymn of Praise" is omitted from the liturgy. The word "Alleluia" is usually omitted as well. By not using the alleluia--a joyful expression meaning "Praise the Lord"--until Easter, the Lenten season is clearly set apart as a distinct time from the rest of the year. Additionally, it forms a powerful contrast with the festive celebration of Jesus' resurrection when our alleluias ring loud and clear.

Finally, the penitential character of Lent is not its sole purpose. In the ancient Church, the weeks leading up to Easter were a time of intensive preparation of the candidates who were to be baptized at the Easter vigil on Holy Saturday. This time in the Church's calendar was seen as an especially appropriate time for Baptism because of the relationship between Christ's death and resurrection and our own in Holy Baptism (see Romans 6:1-11). This focus would suggest that the season of Lent serves not only as a time to meditate on the suffering that Christ endured on our behalf but also as an opportunity to reflect upon our own Baptism and what it means to live as a child of God.


There is a tradition of "giving up things" for Lent that I normally do something with. This year Serenity and I talked about it a little bit and as a result I'm giving up playing a computer game called Civilization while she is going to be cutting out most if not all sugar from her diet. I'm also going to be doing some other things to recall Christ and his work throughout the day during the next 40 days of Lent. The main one is that I'm going to try and follow the custom of fasting during daylight hours, basically skipping lunch and praying and reading devotions and the Word of God during the time when I would normally eat lunch.

Another thing I'm going to "give up for Lent" is political thinking. I mean I will endeavor during this time to ignore the political scene. So, here is my very last political comment for the next 40 days: The corporate American choice for POTUS (President of the United States) is McClinton (McCain for the Republicans and Clinton for the Democrats). Even though both are loathed by most Americans they will "win" the primary elections and one of them will be "elected" POTUS in November. This will have virtually nothing to do with the number of people who vote for them since in America votes are actually done by software fraud these days. So look out for McClinton, it will bring massive death, torture, murder, theft and other great things your way for the next four years. Me, I'm planning on burning my ballot if McClinton is on it. And that is the end of my political commentary until after Easter when I will resume ranting and raving about the death of the republic and the rise of the American Police State.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

2 Movies

This week Serenity and I went and saw "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" at the theater. Serenity loved it! It was nice and wholesome and taught that you don't have to be big or strong or especially smart to do the right thing and to be a hero. It is clearly directed at the very young group but it's watchable by an adult, if I qualify as an adult :-)
Angry Gnome gives this movie:

At home we watched "The Last Mimzy" on DVD. That was a great movie! It was OK for the little one while being engaging for the adults in the house. It was a nice blending of magic and science fiction too, things that looked like magic were actually produced by science in the end. It also taught a nice lesson on the dangers of the "Homeland Security" police state we have in America today, the intervention of the government thugs produced howls of displeasure from Serenity, Lora and I, Mike just looked annoyed, he really hates it when we harp on the evils of the government. ;-/
Angry Gnome gives this one:

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ron Paul and Homeschoolers

From Ron Paul's web site.

I think he is the most homeschooling friendly of all the candidates.

Your Child, not Washington’s

The federal government does not own our children. We cannot allow Washington lobbyists and bureaucrats to decide when, how, and what our children will learn.

Your Tax Dollars Returned to You

I will advance tax credits through the Family Education Freedom Act, which reduces costs and makes it easier for parents to home school.

Your Child’s Education Back in Your Control

My commitment to ensuring home schooling remains a practical alternative for American families is unmatched by any other presidential candidate. Returning control of education to parents is the centerpiece of my education agenda.

"Parental control of child rearing, especially educa-tion, is one of the bulwarks of liberty. No nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to chil-dren than the family."

“The people of the United States can no longer afford to be ruled by political opportunists. We need men of char-acter and principle in public office. There is no better man in America for the office of president than Ron Paul.” - Dr. Arthur Robinson, creator of the Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum

Authored Family Education Freedom Act, allowing parents a tax credit of up to $5,000 per student per year to offset costs of education. Will guarantee parity for home school diplomas and advancement of equal scholarship consideration for home schooled high school graduates. Will prevent the Department of Educa-tion from regulating home school activities. Will veto any legislation that creates national standards or national testing for home school parents or students.

Congressman Ron Paul is serving his 10th term in the U.S. House. As an OB/GYN, Dr. Paul has assisted women in delivering over 4,000 babies. He served his country as a Flight Surgeon in the Air Force and the Air National Guard. Con-gressman Paul never votes for any legis-lation unless it is expressly authorized by the Constitution.

"...Dr. Paul is the homeschoolers’ best friend."

- Ginny Baker, author of Teaching Your Children at Home and national home school pioneer
“Decade after dec-ade, Congressman Paul has stood - sometimes alone - for liberty, limited government, and the rule of law.” - Isabel Lyman, author of The Homeschooling Revolution

Download the entire flier here.

Friday, February 1, 2008

What's going on...

We have now been home schooling for 2 weeks and I think things are going quite well. Serenity is happy and learning constantly. She is also enjoying the ability to stay up later and sleep in late in the morning. I think that is a good thing too. :-)

The local school principal is still a bit unclear on the concept and has been calling both Lora and I on the phone trying to figure out what we are doing. She can't seem to find Serenity School listed on the State of California's web site, well neither can I for that matter. That is not a big surprise though, we are talking about a government agency after all!

So, we are going to send the principal a copy of the Private School Affidavit that Lora filed two weeks ago. That should take care of things I think. If not we have the help of the California Homeschool Network to fall back on. It really is annoying that the state, and those who work for the state, have the idea that all children belong to them and that we need their permission to teach them at home, it's just absurd.

This week Serenity and I went to two different "Park Days" coordinated by Tri-Valley Explorers. On Wednesday we went to the one in Danville, but that one won't really work for us much because I work every other Wednesday, we went just because it was sunny out :-) Then we went to one in Livermore on Thursday that I imagine we will be going to most every week from now on, that one is held indoors on cold wet days and in a nearby park on nice days. Serenity had a good time at both places so we may end up going to Danville on occasion as well as Livermore. At Livermore yesterday Serenity attached herself to the oldest kid there, a 13 year old boy who treated her with care and patient attention, it was amazing ;-)

So, that is our report for the week, we are enjoying this immensely!