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29 December 2006

How Children Learn

Although this title was not on my list of books to get at the library today (I was looking for titles from my book list from before Christmas.) when I recognized John Holt's name from my various readings around the Internet, I was so pleased by my find that this was the first book I opened to peruse there at the library. It didn't come home with me.

There are a lot of authors out there who make non-fiction a pleasure to read. Mr. Holt doesn't appear to be one of them. His prose was stilted and somewhat condescending. Rather than starting off with what the title promises: insight on how kids learn, it started with a plug for his other book (How Children Fail) and then launched into a rather involved look at current brain research. Only he said at the outset that brain research isn't the right way to go about learning how kids learn. Seems to me that if that's not where the magic and wonder of learning is at, then it shouldn't be worth pages and pages of our attention. By this time, I was so irritated that such a highly respected voice in unschooling was so reluctant to make his point that I didn't even bring it home from the library.

Clutter Free Finally & Forever

I was actually looking for Is There Life After Housework, by Don Aslett, but when I ran across this Clutter Free Finally & Forever (coincidentally also by Mr. Aslett) at the library, I thought "there's the book for me." Not so. This book is nothing more than a collection of useless tales - you might even say it's cluttered with tales - of the horribly cluttered state of people's homes. The few de-cluttering tips are so deeply buried in pointless verbiage they become impossible to find, and therefore useless.

19 December 2006

Thoughts on Public School

As I have been thinking about homeschooling, it's lead me to some more analytical thoughts on Public Schools and on my experience in them. Up until now, I really hadn't thought about the usual public education: about my education. I never questioned the value of the time I spent at school. It never occurred to me to wonder who decided what we should learn or how and when we should learn it. I didn't know there was any other way.

18 December 2006

Language and God

Fascinating! I am having some lovely new thoughts this afternoon. I've been reading the FAQs about Classical Christian Homeschooling, which is a very language-oriented philosophy of education. They have some interesting thoughts on why it is so important to master language:

Why is this language mastery so important? It is because God is a God of His Word. He spoke, and it came to be. He has chosen to reveal Himself to man by the Word. “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14). (Read the rest of the article here.)

That particular passage of scripture has always puzzled me. I've never been able to make heads nor tails of it, but today I feel like I have a start at understanding it. When you consider that God is a God of His word, then it starts to make more sense. He is bound by His word, by the things that He says that He will do. He has given us the scriptures, but we have to work at it to understand the old language they use. Of course, this passage also is in reference to Christ as the Word. I still don't have the whole thing figured out, but I'm getting closer, I think.

Books I Gotta Get

Alright, I keep seeing people recommend books. Just tonight I've seen enough reading material on homeschooling to keep me reading for a month or more - and I read relatively quickly. Here's a few that look the most interesting:

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
How to Homeschool: a practical approach by Gayle Grahm
The Right Choice: homeschooling by Christopher Klicka
Is There Life After Housework by Don Aslett
Introduction to Classical Education by Christine Miller
Preparing for a Great Books Education by Wes Callihan
How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles van Doren
Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature & Survival for Children by Tom & Judy Brown

Guess I better get to the library and see if they've got any of these and see what I can get started on. I did peek at one, and Amazon had a used copy for less than $5, so I may look into that as well. In deciding to homeschool, I suspect that our personal library will be growing quite a bit over the next several years. Right now we've got a good start - there are 6 bookshelves in our home already, mostly full of books, but it's not a library that will give a well rounded education just yet.

17 December 2006

Which One is What & What One is Which

So, one of the big questions we face is "What sort of homeschooling do we want to do?" So far the answer is, "I really don't know." In my wandering around the internet, I have noticed that there are nearly as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschooling families.

Early in my research into how to homeschool I was a bit intrigued by unschooling but A's just not into that idea, so we're still looking. School-at-home doesn't appeal much: it seems like that's an OK way to do things occasionally, but you sure don't read much about people loving it. On the contrary, there seems to be a large number of folks out there that started out with school-at-home and then moved on to some other style. It's also often pegged as being cost-prohibitive. Unit studies looks somewhat promising. It makes sense to build Monkey's education in the things he needs to know around the things he wants to know.

Here's one that looks interesting, one I hadn't heard of before: Classical homeschooling. It's supposed to be ancient - from the Middle Ages - and develop reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric skills. Hmmmm. Going to have to look into that one a little more.

One of the ladies at church, after hearing A speak today, is going to give me some information on a Principle Approach. She's sending me an email with some information, but while I wait for that I thought I'd poke around online some to see what I can come up with. It looks interesting. This seems to be a main portal for this method.

Good thing the Little Monkey's so small. Plenty of time remains before the selection of a starting method is really critically important.

15 December 2006

Article: Homeschool Civics Lessons

California homeschoolers took an emotional roller coaster ride this spring and summer when Berkeley Unified School District officials made a bid to outlaw homeschooling in our state. The Berkeley bureaucrats' attempt to have the courts declare independent homeschooling illegal was stopped when an open minded District Attorney, willing to educate himself about the Education Code and listen to the rock solid legal reasoning of Attorney William Rogers, declined to prosecute "The Berkeley Four" for truancy.

This was, of course, a victory for homeschoolers, with the Education Establishment again being turned back in their endless assault on educational liberty. More importantly, however, it was a victory for all parents because without the growing homeschool movement and its clearly superior pedagogy, public schools would not be under such great pressure to address their worst failings...

Having worked in public schools - and with my Mother teaching in a pleasant kindergarten class not far from where I live, I am suspious of such sweeping classifications as "Educational Establishment," and yet there seems to be more than a grem of truth in her observations about government in general and our government in particular.

13 December 2006

Changing Focus

Monkey and DaddyWith the birth of my son in September of this year, there is a new focus in my life. I find that much my interest and energy is consumed in making sure that his needs are met now, and in ensuring that I will be able to meet his needs in the future. After a whole lot of discussion, his Dad and I have determined that homeschooling will best meet our Little Monkey's needs. I've decided to change the focus of this blog as well, from a general sampling of whatever happens to catch my attention to one more focused on my thoughts and experiences as a homeschooling Mama.

There's a lot of interesting information out there on homeschooling. How to do it, why to do it, when to do it, what you need to have (or don't need to have) to do it. Around here Kindergarten is not compulsory, so Monkey doesn't actually have to begin his "education" until he's nearly seven years old (because of when his birthday is). However, between now and then there is a large amount of learning... sitting, standing, putting on clothes, speaking, tying shoes, letters, numbers... many many things to learn. It seems to me that it would be ideal to move seamlessly from these very basic skills into more "school-like" topics. Certainly he will have many stories read to him. Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton actually captured and held his attention yesterday, long enough to read the whole story, with him actually looking at the pictures. I anticipate that he will have a natural curiosity about the way that letters go together to make words and suddenly one day we'll realize he's reading.

a happly Little Monkey I imagine that in the early days that numbers and Math will go much the same way. Really, in settings outside of school, Math is often well mixed with Reading. For instance, that same Hippos Go Berserk book we read yesterday is actually a counting book: it counts one to nine, then back to one again, introducing not only numbers, but different ways to organize them. Another fun counting book is Counting Cows by Woody Jackson, which also counts backwards. Not to mention the counting we do around the house in counting his feet when we put on his socks, the sets of sit ups or other exercises his Dad and I do, and whatever else we happen to be doing that presents an opportunity to offer him numbers.

In an effort to find out what is going on behind those awesome eyes of his, we plan to use sign language to give him expressive language sooner than what he will be able to manage with speech alone. One of my girlfriends (also a homeschooling Mama) recommended the Sign With Your Baby materials she used with her children - I bought her kit for a song at her yard sale last summer while I was still pregnant. After watching the video we've decided to go ahead with the program, with a slight modification: we're introducing a few signs now (he's almost 3 months) rather than waiting until he's 6 months old. We may have to wait a while before he produces any signs, but I don't think that any language acquisition is wasted. I'm not waiting until he is able to produce speech to speak to him, so I see no need to wait to sign.

PlaytimeFor right now, those are the activities that form the core of his "education," with one significant addition. I wear him in a MobyWrap a lot, so he spends a great deal of time in the thick of the activity, watching what I'm doing, and I often will give him a running commentary on what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and why it's important enough to bother with. Keeping him in the wrap keeps him close enough that I can guess what he's looking at and tell him about it. Not to mention that it allows me to hold him virtually as much as I want to and still get most things done almost as quickly as I might if he were playing on the floor.

09 November 2006

Sounds Like Fun!

Picture from Crafts for kids

I was browsing my was through the smorgasbord of information out there on homeschooling and found this. I don't have any kids that are the right age to be interested in doing a recycled castle, or any other structure, for that matter, but it looks like so much fun I'm halfway thinking that I'll suggest that someone come over and help me make one anyway!

02 November 2006

Most Unexpected!

Took a quiz about my English. Here are the results. Mind you, I lived "Out West," that is, Utah, California, and Colorado, when I was little, and in Wisconsin from 4th grade until I left home after high school.

Your Linguistic Profile:
50% General American English
20% Yankee
15% Upper Midwestern
10% Dixie
0% Midwestern

31 August 2006

Pluto, Dark Matter, and Might-Have-Beens

So, Pluto's not a planet. It always did seem like a straggler out there on the edge of the solar system, a little out of place in the diagrams they showed us in school. But that makes it charming, right? The re-defining of what exactly is a planet is pretty interesting reading. I enjoyed Newsweek's article: Of Cosmic Proportions, and I will probably go look at some other articles on the IAU's decision. But of far more interest is the realization that I'd missed out on some other interesting developments in our understanding of the solar system. I think that I'm going to have to look up this Kuiper Belt, and learn a little about what they're saying about Ceres. That sort of thing is pretty interesting.

Burried on the 5th page of Newsweek's article about Pluto is a mention of a discovery that's probably a great deal more important than deciding what exactly is Pluto. Researchers at the University of Arizona have discovered direct proof that Dark Matter really exists. Fascinating. The article on UANews.org has all kinds of semi-technical information about the laws of gravity, gravitational lensing techniques used to make the discovery, and of course, dark matter.

I once chickened out of being an astrophysicist, scared off by all the math that I anticipated. I sometimes wonder what I might have learned about myself and about the universe, had I given it a shot. In any case, my curiosity these things has lead me to read (and enjoy) Stephen Hawkings's A Brief History of Time, and to question the decision that the high-school-me made, out of fear of too much math. And it draws my attention and curiosity to the sky and beyond what you can see from my backyard in the city. Jack O'Neal - of Stargate SG-1 - seems to have a great setup, with that telescope on the roof. Might have to get me one of those one day.

06 August 2006

Article: Children and the Social Interest in Marriage

Meridian Magazine: Children and the Social Interest in Marriage
She [Barbara Whitehead] thought the media’s reaction [to Dan Quayle] illustrated broader efforts to depict “the married two-parent family as a source of pathology.” All of this, she explained, is part of an attempt to “normalize what was once considered deviant behavior,” such as divorce and out-of-wedlock birth. She then shared extensive research describing the harmful effects of single-parent households on children, at both the individual and the social levels. In general, despite some admirable exceptions by single parents who succeed valiantly despite the risks, children in single-parent or step-parent families are more likely than children in intact families to be poor, to drop out of school, to have trouble with the law — to do worse, in short, by most definitions of well-being than children in two-parent families.

02 May 2006

Immigration and Citizenship

So, my husband and I have been talking some about this immigration mess. Basically, we've decided that immigration not a big deal. Let folks come here & become Americans, no problem. But let them do it legally. We differ in some of the details of how that might be accomplished, but then so do most folks, so that's not really very surprising. Here's a few things that we've talked about & that I've read today. Made for some good conversation over dinner this evening!

* * * * * * *

I enjoyed this article from Fox News, particularly the 2nd half, where they talk about the backlash from the May Day protests of the proposed changes to immigration laws.

Fox News: A Day Without Immigrants
"You should send all of the 13 million aliens home, then you take all of the welfare recipients who are taking a free check and make them do those jobs," said Jack Culberson, a retired Army colonel who attended a Pensacola rally. "It's as simple as that."

A group of Hispanic Americans calling themselves, "You Don't Speak for Me," participated in a Washington news conference Monday in support of strong border security. ... "As the demands of illegal aliens and their supporters become ever more shrilled and outrageous, the silent majority of Americans are remaining silent no longer. We are proud and delighted that will give a voice to the millions of hard-working, law-abiding Hispanic Americans whose views are too often misrepresented," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which organized the coalition.

It's nice to hear from some of the folks that DID do it right, and hear that they speaking up for doing it right. That's being a good citizen, and in some ways that are very important right now. And, it's a gutsy thing to do: it's got to be a very unpopular opinion to voice in the Latino community right now.

I think that these entries from "Restless Ramblings of a Restless Soul's" blog has some great points. It just doesn't make sense to deal with criminals the same way that you deal with the law-abiding. Land of the Lawbreakers makes it clear just exactly how ridiculous the demands are, by imagining the response if Americans were to make the same demands of Mexico.

We Have a Problem

America- Land of the Lawbreakers

It's not about don't come here, don't come and be an American. It's about doing it right. Once you've immigrated & become an American the expectation is that you'll be a good citizen. Isn't it reasonable to expect the same sort of law-abiding citizenship from those who hope to be part of the American dream?

26 April 2006


Photos by Ritsumei, all rights reserved

My neighbor has some beautiful flowers - hopefully I will soon too! In the mean time, I can't help but admire their garden.

02 April 2006

On Immigration

Been thinking about immigration recently. More particularly, with all the ruckus about illegals I've been thinking about that. I wish they'd send them back to where they came from, and that the illegals would either stay home or come here the right way. Folks seem to forget that illegal immigration is a crime.

One of my favorite books (The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind) often says that you should think of the solution, not the problem. I've been thinking of the problem: all the illegal immigrants that we have, and the burdens that they place on the schools, on welfare, on pretty much all the social services available here in the US, financed largely by the (legal) taxpayer. Most of the illegal immigrants that I'm aware of are Mexican. Makes sense, when you consider that the Newsweek says that 70% of the illegals are Mexican. For the most part, I'm not impressed with them. A few have been hard working, wonderful people. But most of those that we've met (though not all) have been legal.

[Updated 11 Sep 2008 to add: I can no longer recommend this book. Later books in the Sword of Truth series are decidedly anti-religion.]

We've had neighbors who were illegal (at least, that's the conclusion that I came to when the one panicked because he thought there were police coming). They were not pleasant neighbors. Also, my husband speaks fluent Spanish, and some of the things that he's overheard them saying about Americans when they think that he can't understand... "Stupid gringo" "We're going to take what we want from this country and not pay for it." "We're going to get on welfare and stay there, because if I don't have to work and these people are going to support me, all the better." "It's OK to lie, just not to 'our own' people." Among the young ones, "Why work when I can sell drugs?" Some things he wouldn't even repeat to me.

Don't get me wrong - I don't have anything against immigrants! My own ancestors were once poor immigrants from England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. They came and had to deal with the same problems of discrimination, a new language, climate, customs, the whole package. In addition, most of them joined a wildly unpopular church and were driven from the USA with the rest of the Mormons, which is something that I don't believe happened to any other group of people. But there is one big difference between my ancestors and the immigrants I'm thinking about today: so far as I know (and I've done some research here), they came legally. I have no problem with folks coming to America - that's something this country has always allowed, and I think it's probably a good thing.

But I do wish that if they're going to immigrate they would come here legally, that they would learn the language: English, and that they would make this their home. That is precisely what I would expect to do if I was going to another country. In fact, even if I didn't plan to immigrate, just to stay for a while for a job (like so many of the illegals do) I'd still plan to learn as much of the language as possible as quickly as possible. And I wouldn't even think of doing it without some kind of visa or work permit. It seems only fair to be willing to do what I expect of others. Not to mention that it's more practical to expect that I will have to conform to the new "normal" in whatever place that I chose to go to, rather than expecting them to accommodate me much if any.

So, with the elections coming up, the issue of immigration seems to be coming up more and more too. This afternoon, I'm doing some reading and thinking about it.

Newsweek: To Become an American
"The income gap between the United States and Mexico is the largest between any two contiguous countries in the world," writes Stanford historian David Kennedy. ... Tighter border control is an excellent idea, but to work it will have to be coupled with some recognition of the laws of supply and demand - that is, it will have to include expansion of the legal-immigrant pool."

This article got me thinking in some different directions than what I had previously. While I had recognized the difference between life in the US and Mexico - at least as much as you can without ever visiting Mexico, much less seeing the true extent of the poverty you hear about there - I never considered it as a supply and demand problem. I like the idea of expanding the legal-immigrant pool, as the article suggests. Clearly, there is demand for the type of labor that these immigrants represent. Make it possible, even easy to be here legally as workers. After all, it seems clear that we need the workers. All over the nation you see hear Spanish. Even here in Wisconsin there are loads of Mexicans. There is demand for the workers, so we need to arrange things so that it's possible for them to come legally. And then make it unpleasant to be here illegally.

The other thing that I hadn't thought about is the connection between immigration and terrorism. That was a very interesting angle that I'd like to learn more about, and they only touch on it in the short article. But it's a fascinating concept. I suspect that the author is right: in general, America is doing something right with the immigration policies we have - the Green Card that leads to citizenship. It does seem right that if you come and make an honest, hardworking life for yourself in a country that the country should in turn open its arms and welcome you.

Newsweek: Border War
"As the House and Senate debate the nation's immigration and border-security laws, the four-term Coloradan [Tom Tancredo] has positioned himself as the loudest, angriest voice against the estimated 11 million illegal aliens now living in the United States. They are "a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation," he says. He laments "the cult of multiculturalism," and worries about America's becoming a "Tower of Babel." If Republican presidential candidates don't put the problem atop the agenda in 2008, he says he'll run himself, just to force the front runners to talk about it. ... 'You can't ignore him,' says a GOP leadership aide who wouldn't be named because he wanted to keep his job. 'The administration doesn't want to hear this, but a lot of Americans think he's right.'"

Tom Tancredo sounds like someone that I'd look into voting for if he did run for president. Immigration's not my only issue, but it is one that I look at when selecting a candidate, and I've voted for long-shot candidates before. The one thing that I don't like about this article is that they talk about a bill that's before Congress, but they don't mention what it's called, so I'll have to do more research before I can look it up and read it.

MSN: Economica of immigration could defy laws
"To the mostly immigrant workers and American employers who cross paths at El Centro Humanitario - a former car wash converted to a day labor agency on the fringes of downtown Denver - the nation's heated debate over illegal immigration is no abstract concept. It's economic reality."

This one is more immigrant-friendly than the Newsweek articles, and expanded on some of the same issues that "To Become an American" touched on. Pretty interesting. One thing that I wondered is about the actual usefulness of the minimum wage. I'm pretty convinced that minimum wage does contribute to inflation, and the immigration angle adds to my skepticism: if immigrants are able to make do on $3.50/hr then why can't regular Americans? It's a question of lifestyle (or maybe it's just that they're not paying taxes at this sort of under-the-table kind of job), but really, that's probably another article for another day.

After It All - What I Think
I must say, I do think that the more that I read about this stuff the more that I think there probably does need to be some kind of guest-worker program. One thing that a guest-worker program should do is address the issue of social services. Anyone that pays taxes has a legitimate claim on schools and other social services for themselves and their dependents. The guest-workers would need to either pay for this privilege or take care of their own. It sounds pretty heartless to put it that baldly, but if they pay taxes then it won't be a problem.

But I do still think that those who are here illegally need to acknowledge that they've broken the law - and possibly make some kind of restitution benefit from any guest-worker program that the government cooks up. The fact of the matter is that illegal immigration is illegal. It's a crime. So after they've paid their debt to society, sure they can have a second chance, but until then, illegal immigrants are criminals. While there is definitely a need to address the issue, and it's certainly complicated that building a big wall on the Rio Grande, there is also the question of legitimacy and of legality that needs to be addressed. Just because it's an uncomfortable conversation doesn't mean that it isn't a conversation that needs to be had.

Here's some more articles & blogs that I've looked at on immigration:
MSN: Proprequiresqures English business signs
Bloomberg.com: Graham Says Republicans Risk `Political Suicide' on Immigration
The tempest-tossed

14 March 2006

Censorship, Free Speech, and the Vote

Townhall.com: Columns

...In real life, the creation of protected classes sharpens intergroup tensions and leads to competition for victim status...

So. Here is one person's take on What Censorship Does, and why censorship is a Bad Idea. I mean, do we really want more competition for the Biggest Victim Award? Being a person of strong opinions (that I'm sure are sometimes offensive to certain 'victim' groups), the idea that I could no longer voice my opinions is somewhat scary: after all, what's the point of having a well thought out, reasoned, informed opinion if you're not going to act on it? Isn't the whole idea of voting based on opinion? In my opinion, Canadate X is going to do a better job than Canadate Y, so I will vote for X. So, if free speech goes away, can we expect our votes to eventually follow? And if no strong opinions are allowed, then what is the point anyway?

09 February 2006

Playing with Words

Check this out. It's an entire blog on the difference that just a few words can, and does make, in the impressions and attitudes that a news article can leave with its reader.

CNN vs. FOX, etc.: Gonzales: Domestic Eavesdropping OR Terrorism Surveillance

It fascinates me, how 2 atricles on something can be so similarly factual, and yet leave you with completely opposite feels. I am so much more comfortable with "terrorism surveillance" than with "domestic eavesdropping" - but they're really the same thing. One of my early English teachers called this sort of thing "purr words" and "snarl words," and I'm thinking that may have been one of the most significant English lessons that I had. It's certainly the one that I've remembered the longest, unless you count all those 8th grade english classes where I watched the clock's second hand go around, just to have something to do.

A Different Take on Those Cartoons

Newsweek: Holy War~The cartoon brouhaha really illustrates the divisions within the Muslim community, not with the West.

The worldwide uproar over the cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, printed in a Danish newspaper and reprinted across Europe, has little to do with what's in the headlines. In fact, those obscure the real—and critical—issues at stake...

Interesting article. It's nice to see someone thinking about the issue, rather than just reacting. The problems that this article talks about are similar to Christian issues that are brought to light by groups like the American Family Association, who have recently protested a number of shows on NBC that were degrading to the Christian faith, just as the cartoons were degrading to the Muslim faith. It's nice to see that at least some of the time the different religions are able to work together.

05 February 2006

Creation and Evolution in the Schools

Meridian Magazione: Creation and Evolution in the Schools
by Orson Scott Card

When somebody — anybody — asks hard questions of a theory, then the scientific answer is never "shut up and go away." The scientific answer is, "Let's see if we can find out."

Some interesting commentary on this article can be found here.

01 February 2006

About Alito

So, they've confirmed Justice Alito. Here's an article on Newsday.com that I read, with a very nice photo gallery (including the photo below) from the confirmation hearings.

Newsday.com: amid bitter split, Senate OK's Alito

I am very pleased that the fillibuster was blocked - Justice Alito deserved to be voted on. Fillibusters seem to be a trick that is trotted out anytime that the Democrats think they are about to lose, and they are not fair to the nominees, and even less fair to the American People. (I'm sure the Republicans will be just as bad the next time they're the minority.)

I am cautiously pleased that Justice Alito was, in fact, confirmed. In a lot of ways, I'm holding my final decision until I see some of his decisions. In reality, I doubt that most Americans are able to follow the proceedings very well. I did well in school, I have a college education, and yet when I was trying to listen to the Senate's hearings on NPR I couldn't listen for very long, largely because between the Senators sounding more like Inquisitors and the fact that mostly they were talking in legalese, it was very difficult to listen to. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any Babelfish sites that translate from legalese into common English, and I don't really trust the media's interpretation to be fair or objective. I am, however, comforted by the American Bar Association giving him a rating of "well-qualified" for the position. After doing some reading on Wikipedia about the Federalist Society, which Justice Alito is a member of, I am a little more confident that he will intrpret the law, rather than try to become a legislator as many judges have been doing recently. In spite of all the fuss and hype around this, I suspect that when push comes to shove, Justice Alito will do a pretty good job.

Wikipedia: Samuel A. Alito Jr.
SourceWatch: Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

13 January 2006

Another Round with WPR

This is a follow-up to my previous post about WPR & "Here on Earth."

Today, I tried calling, since writing has gotten me so very little. They were kind enough to take my complaint. The woman I spoke to, presumably a volunteer, also suggested that I write Phil Corriveau, which I have done and will be snail-mailing shortly. Here is a copy of the letter Mr. Corriveau will be receiving:
Mr. Corriveau,

I am writing because I am concerned about misinformation that was broadcast on "Here on Earth" on Thursday 6 October 2005. This is the third letter that I have sent to WPR about this incident, the first two letters were sent directly to the contact email on the "Here on Earth" (hereonearth@wpr.org) but I have received no answer whatsoever, although they had both my email address and my phone number. I received your name and address when I called Audience Services this afternoon.

In a nutshell, what happened is that one of Jean Feraca's callers stated that Mormons practice both polygamy and child marriage, neither of which is true. Jean Feraca then agreed, saying, "That's true, that's true, right in our own country. Have you thought about that Jessica?" I understand that WPR and "Here on Earth" have no control over the quality of information that is presented by your callers. However, such a gross error on the part of the host at least deserves a correction.

I am enclosing a copy of the letters that I previously emailed to "Here on Earth," for your information and review. Please keep me informed about the status of this problem.

Thank you very much

I also included a copy of the letters that I've previously sent. Hopefully this time they'll respond. Better yet, they'll respond with an on the air correction or a show on the persistent perception that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints still practices polygamy.

12 January 2006

Smokeing Ban vs. Civil Liberties

Since I read his blog (The Appleton Blog: Appleton's Smoking Ban), I've had a running internal dialog about whether or not I agree with Jeff's assessment of the situation. He brings up an interesting point, with the civil liberites angle.

So, here's the conflict that I see:
On the one had, smoking is not only nasty, it's dangerous. Not only for the person who smokes, but for anyone around them, because of second hand smoke. When my co-worker smokes, or the person at the bar at Applebees, or what have you, then I also smoke, with all the health risks that entails, regardless of what I want to do. It doesn't seem right to allow a perfect stranger to chose those health risks for me.

On the other hand, there's the civil liberties issue that Jeff raised in his blog. Our government is already huge, and this is another expansion of government. Is more government really in our best interest!

Government's purpose is to protect fundamental rights, such as the right act according to our conscience, have & use our property, and the protection of life. The more that I think of it, the more that I think that the smoking bans might come under the protection of life. Smoking is hazardous. There is no doubt about that. So, while I am very suspicious of expanding government, I think that in this particular case, the laws may be justified. And it is certianly more pleasant to visit places that don't allow smoking.

WPR's Ben Marens, 12 Jan 2006 3pm: Wisconsin's Failing grades from the American Lung Association
American Lung Association
The Appleton Blog: Appleton's Smoking Ban

11 January 2006

"Reproductive Freedom"

What a load. The biggest difference between my D&C and the D&C that a woman at an abortion clinic has is that my baby died of natural causes. Before the operation. Very much against my wishes. At abortion clinics they exercise their "reproductive freedom" to do away with perfectly viable pregnacies.

After the baby's born it's called Murder.
Before birth? Oh, it's just "reproductive freedom."

Unless the pregnancy is the product of rape, the "reproductive freedom" part happens when you chose to have sex.

You want freedom from children? Put the baby up for adoption. There are plenty of couples out there who would happily raise your child. You want freedom from children? Freedom from pregnancy? Don't have sex. Sex leads to babies.

Sure you're free to chose, but you're not free to escape the consequences of your choice. Legal or not, there are consequences.
"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts--a child--as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience."
-Mother Theresa ("Notable and Quotable," Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)

Islam, Judaism, & Christianity

After reading this article on Eid-al-Adha, and the end of the hajj, I am reminded of the animosity between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. What a puzzle.

The first time I met either a Muslim or a Jew was in college. The dorm where I lived housed all sorts of interesting people, and I was fortunate to have a very diverse group of friends. Several members of the group had also never been around people who were not Christian, and we had lots of questions. But as we talked to our friends (and looked on the internet for answers when they were less than informative about their religion) we noticed something: The teachings are really not all the different between the religions. Be nice, play fair, worship God. There were a lot of really compatible beliefs. One question that I puzzled over with one of my friends was, "Why the fuss? Why the anger & the hatred between these groups?" I still haven't figured that out. That question became even more puzzling when I realized that all 3 religions share the same Old Testament foundation.

Based on what I read then, and what I've read this afternoon, my best guess is that in every group there are Kooks and Crazies. The Crusades were not in keeping with the teachings of Jesus Christ. In all my study of the Bible I've never seen anything that would justify wandering over to your unbelieving neighbors and killing them all because they refuse to convert. Not a very good missionary tool. And even if they did convert, it wouldn't create very sincere converts. The same things could be said about the current jihads that I've heard about, and the attacks on 9-11, or the Holocaust, although I don't think that was ever about converts. While I've never made an exhaustive study of Islam, I've never read anything that even hinted that 9-11 might be justified.

IslamiCity: Understanding Islam

02 January 2006

Same Sex Marriage: No Big Deal?

Meridian Magazine: Is Same Sex Marriage No Big Deal?

You hear it like a drumbeat. It is the most pervasive argument for same-sex marriage. People will say, “This is no big deal,” or “How will my neighbor’s same-sex marriage have any effect on me?” At Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the issue of same-sex marriage, senators say, why are we wasting our time on this matter? Why don’t we spend our time on issues of poverty or health or the war in Iraq? ...


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