31 March 2009

Socialization?

Monkey's two and a half now, and I find that I'm beginning to have friends ask me about how he will get his "socialization" if he's homeschooled. Most recently, it was in a conversation with some friends who were discussing their preschool options. I sat quietly, feeling I didn't really have anything to contribute in a conversation about the merits of 2-days-a-week vs. 3-days-a-week preschool, thinking of President Benson's quote, but feeling that it might be rude to say much, if anything.

"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters. We become enamored with men's theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother's influence. Too often the pressure for popularity, on children and teens, places an economic burden on the income of the father, so mother feels she must go to work to satisfy her children's needs. That decision can be most shortsighted. It is mother's influence during the crucial formative years that forms a child's basic character. Home is the place where a child learns faith, feels love, and thereby learns from mother's loving example to choose righteousness. How vital are mother's influence and teaching in the home-and how apparent when neglected!" -Ezra Taft Benson (Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 104)


My friends noticed my silence, and commented that I probably wouldn't be putting Monkey in preschool. (Our intention to homeschool is well known.) I said I thought that he could learn any academic work just as well or better at home, and that I thought it was important for children to spend time with their Mothers, and hoped the converstation would move on quickly. It was rather awkward. To be fair, one of these friends is a single mom, and the other's husband job requires long absences in which she must act as a single parent. Our situations are certainly not the same, and preschool or daycare may be a necessary option for some. But the experience made me think about socialization, and the expectation that school is the only place where you could possibly get it. The thing is, if socialization is the process of learning manners, learning the way that you should interact with others, this doesn't seem like a good argument for public schools at all. I want my children to learn their manners from their parents, and from other good role models. I don't want them to behave like the profane bullies that I went to school with, or the victims the bullies picked on! The language used in schools is terrible. The moral environment is, if possible, worse. This is NOT the sort of "socialization" I want my children to pick up. And it's not true to real life either. I think that Lisa Russell said it very well:


As a society full of people whose childhood’s were spent waiting anxiously for recess time, and trying desperately to "socialize" with the kids in class; It is often difficult for people to have an image of a child whose social life is NOT based on school buddies. Do you ever remember sitting in class, and wanting desperately to speak to your friend? It's kind of hard to concentrate on the lessons when you're bouncing around trying not to talk. Have you ever had a teacher who rearranged the seats every now and then, to prevent talking, splitting up friends and "talking corners." Were you ever caught passing notes in class?

Now- flash forward to "real life." Imagine the following scenes:

Your Employer is auditing the Inter-Office Email system and comes across a personal note between you and a coworker. You are required to stand at the podium in the next sales meeting to read it aloud to your coworkers. The Police knock on your door, and announce that because you and your neighbor have gotten so close, they're separating you. You must move your home and your belongings to the other side of town, and you may only meet at public places on weekends. ...

You're applying for a job and in an unconventional hiring practice, you are made to line up with other applicants, and wait patiently while representatives from two competing companies take their pick from the lineup.

You're taking your parents out for an anniversary dinner. After you find a table, a waiter tells you that seniors have a separate dining room, lest they "corrupt" the younger members of society. ...

You'd like to learn about Aviation History. You go to the library and check out a book on the subject only to be given a list of "other subjects" that you must read about before you are permitted to check out the aviation book. ...

Your Cable Company announces that anyone wishing to watch the Superbowl this year must log on a certain number of hours watching the Discovery Channel before they can be permitted to watch the game.

You apply for a job only to be told that this job is for 29 year olds. Since you're 32, you'll have to stay with your level.

In a group project, your boss decides to pair you up with the person you don't "click" with. His hope is that you'll get learn to get along with each other, regardless of how the project turns out.

Read the whole article: No, Thank you. We Don't Believe in Socialization.

30 March 2009

Cool Tool

I recently discovered GovTrack.us, which is a pretty cool site. They have a page for each member of Congress, which you can put in your feed reader. I put mine right into Blogger's little "Blogs I Follow" there on the dashboard, as that's the closest I come to checking a reader. In addition to notifying you of things that your own Congressmen do, GovTrack has a bill tracking feature that will let you check out bills, monitors their status in terms of "sent to committee" or "passed the House" or what have you between introduction and implementation. It's pretty cool. Since I've discovered it I've written my representatives in DC about a number of things, from the "Quality Cheese Act" to the "Federal Reserve Transparancy Act of 2009."

I also discovered this little bit of text, proposing forced servitude as outlined first in HR1388 and then moved to HR 1444 requiring a commission be established to investigate, "Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds."

I'm waiting on replies from all my Congressmen as to what they have to say about that little bit of unconstitutional filth. It makes me angry that when they were called on how unconstitutional this bit of text is, rather than dropping it they moved it to a different bill. I reminded them to check the Thirteenth Amendment:

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."


The website is a wonderful tool for keeping track of what our Congress is doing. I highly recommend taking the time to explore a bit and figure out how to make it work for you!


In other news, I have a new computer. This means that I have to get all those cute pictures from the old hard drive to the new one before I can post them. But I've got some on there that are intended to be on the blog...

29 March 2009

Easter Is Coming

The Proper Role of Government: Source of Governmental Power

Previous Installments:
The Proper Role of Government, by Ezra Taft Benson
-- read the full text.
My commentary as I study his article:
Part I (Foundational Principles, Origin of Rights)
Part II (Separation of Church and State)
Part III (Source of Governmental Power)
Part IV (Powers of a Proper Government)
Part V (Government = Force)
Part VI (The US Constitution)
Part VII (Local Government)
Part VIII (Legalized Plunder)

THE SOURCE OF GOVERNMENTAL POWER
Leaving aside, for a moment, the question of the divine origin of rights, it is obvious that a government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it. This is made clear in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: "WE THE PEOPLE… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form? A hypothetical question? Yes, indeed! But, it is a question which is vital to an understanding of the principles which underlie the proper function of government.

Of course, as James Madison, sometimes called the Father of the Constitution, said, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." (The Federalist, No. 51)


So far, so good. This section seems relatively self-explanatory. Government officials are employees of the body known as "We, the People." We cannot justly ask our government to do things that would be wrong for us, individually, to do.

NATURAL RIGHTS
In a primitive state, there is no doubt that each man would be justified in using force, if necessary, to defend himself against physical harm, against theft of the fruits of his labor, and against enslavement of another. This principle was clearly explained by Bastiat:

"Each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but and extension of our faculties?" (The Law, p.6)

Indeed, the early pioneers found that a great deal of their time and energy was being spent doing all three – defending themselves, their property and their liberty – in what properly was called the “Lawless West.” In order for man to prosper, he cannot afford to spend his time constantly guarding his family, his fields, and his property against attack and theft, so he joins together with his neighbors and hires a sheriff. At this precise moment, government is born. The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only what they had a right to do for themselves – nothing more. Quoting again from Bastiat:

"If every person has the right to defend – even by force – his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right -–its reason for existing, its lawfulness -- is based on individual right." (The Law, p. 6)

So far so good. But now we come to the moment of truth. Suppose pioneer “A” wants another horse for his wagon, He doesn’t have the money to buy one, but since pioneer “B” has an extra horse, he decides that he is entitled to share in his neighbor’s good fortune. Is he entitled to take his neighbor’s horse? Obviously not! If his neighbor wishes to give it or lend it, that is another question. But so long as pioneer “B” wishes to keep his property, pioneer "A" has no just claim to it.

If “A” has no proper power to take “B’s” property, can he delegate any such power to the sheriff? No. Even if everyone in the community desires that “B” give his extra horse to “A”, they have no right individually or collectively to force him to do it. They cannot delegate a power they themselves do not have. This important principle was clearly understood and explained by John Locke nearly 300 years ago:

“For nobody can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life of property of another.” (Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 135; P.P.N.S. p. 93)


"The [government] now does for them only what they had a right to do for themselves – nothing more." In our case, we have a great deal more government than just a sheriff, but we can't ask our school board, our state representatives, or the president of our nation to do things that we could have no authority to do ourselves. Can I force another to save for retirement (Social Security)? No. Therefore, neither should the government. Can I take money from my neighbor to the west and give it to the deserving family to the east to pay medical bills (Nationalized medicine in all its forms)? Surely not. Therefore, I cannot delegate that power to my government. The government's just powers come from the governed. Other powers the government takes to itself are, to one degree or another, usurpation and tyranny.

26 March 2009

The Headmistress on School-Parent Relations

Here's some teasers on what she's turned up:

*13 Year-old Strip Searched by school looking for ibuprofen. This one's headed to the Supreme Court because the school says they did nothing wrong.

That's the current case, but she's got a couple of shocking older stories:

*Title I Schools performing genital exams on kids as young as kindergarten, without notifying parents (or hiding the notification in a stack of papers parents are rushed through.)

*A Massachusetts school made 9th grade girls go buy condoms and practice putting them on bananas.

In all these cases the schools insisted they did nothing wrong. Just one more reason to keep my children at home. None of these things are things that schools should be doing!!

Seems the Issue is Not Dead Yet

Though I'm sure that Mr. Obama wishes that it was. Somebody filed criminal charges against Obama over his birth certificate.

Still makes me wonder: why doesn't he just end all the fuss and show the world his papers? Unless he's got something to hide. I hope there is still a judge in America with the courage to stand up to the President. And I hope the case makes its way to that judge's courtroom.

Legit or not, Mr. Obama needs to put this scandal to rest.




And another question: Why is the press not all over this? Citizen or not? This is a fair question the President should answer. He won't. He's going to a great deal of trouble and expense to avoid the question. Why isn't the press all over the story?

24 March 2009

America's Constitution: Part II

Quite some time ago, I started reading America's Constitution: A Biography, and blogged about the preface. I'm still munching away at the book, and thought I'd post a bit about it again. It's part of my ongoing effort to remedy my own appalling ignorance about America's Constitution in order to be educated enough to do my duty as a member of the body known as "We, the People."


Chapter 2: New Rules for a New World

Vocabulary

Unicameral: Having or consisting of a single legislative chamber.

Bicameral: composed of two legislative bodies

Statesmen: 1. a person who is experienced in the art of government or versed in the administration of government affairs. 2. a person who exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues.

Magistracy: 1. The position, function, or term of office of a magistrate. 2. A body of magistrates. 3. The district under jurisdiction of a magistrate.

Magistrate: a civil officer charged with the administration of the law.

Ex post facto: Ex post facto law, a law which operates by after enactment. The phrase is popularly applied to any law, civil or criminal, which is enacted with a retrospective effect, and with intention to produce that effect; but in its true application, as employed in American law, it relates only to crimes, and signifies a law which retroacts, by way of criminal punishment, upon that which was not a crime before its passage, or which raises the grade of an offense, or renders an act punishable in a more severe manner that it was when committed. Ex post facto laws are held to be contrary to the fundamental principles of a free government, and the States are prohibited from passing such laws by the Constitution of the United States. --Burrill. --Kent.

Bill of Attainder: an act of legislature finding a person guilty of treason or felony without trial.




Summary

Congress: Although there had been a "Congress" under the Articles of Confederation, the new Congress, under the Constitution was considerably different and in many ways much more powerful than the old Congress had been, although now it was exclusively a legislative body and one of three branches of the government, rather than a single preeminent continental body. But this change was not without risks:

Precisely because the new Congress could make enforceable law operating directly on individuals, it posed a vastly greater risk to liberty than had its predecessor. ... As the Philadelphia drafters explained in an official letter accompanying their proposed Constitution, "the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one [unicameral, undifferentiated] body of men is evident." (Page 58-59)


To solve this problem the founders put a number of "checks" in place to limit the power. These were far more nuanced than the usual "checks & balances" among the branches of the government they tell us about in school. The two houses check each other by rejecting unconstitutional legislation, and the executive also checks by vetoing or refusing to enforce unconstitutional laws. But the most interesting commentary was on the judiciary:

"Grand Juries could refuse to indict whenever they doubted a criminal statute's constitutionality. Trial juries, widely viewed as the lower half of a bicameral judiciary, likewise had the power (and perhaps even the right and duty) to acquit with finality in such cases, even if the bench had already adjudged the law to be constitutionally sound. Within this larger context, judicial review was less a unique attribute of judges than a symmetric counterpart to the constitutional negatives enjoyed by coordinate branches." (Page 61)


By separating the various powers of the government, the Founders were enshrining the rule of Law. Congress makes the laws, but they don't enforce them. It makes it harder to play favorites. Specifically prohibiting ex post facto laws and bills of attainer were limits placed on Congress to further ensure the rule of Law and maintain liberty.





Ponderings

Although there are a number of intragovernmental checks designed to limit the government to its proper place, it would appear that the ultimate check placed on the government is the People. We, the People, need to know our rights and duties and love our freedoms if we wish to maintain them. The problem is that the teaching required to do this has been gradually excluded from the public schools, until people don't even see the value in having it there, or object because it's "too political." While there is a fine line to walk between teaching government and endorsing your own politics in the classroom, it seems criminal that my "civics" course focused more on the proper use of birth control than it ever did on any civic matters. The very word "civics," meaning "a social science dealing with the rights and duties of citizens" should indicate that there will be serious consideration given to the Constitution, but I don't recall much if anything useful being offered in that class. I do recall feeling like it was a waste of my time. I was irritated that it was a required class and felt like I could have found something better to do with that hour. Now I look at the education commonly given to the People with outrage: our freedoms are at stake, and people don't even know it! There is much more to knowing your civic duty than knowing that there are three branches of government with checks and balances designed to keep them in their place. But it takes effort to learn it, and requires more than just a brief overview of the history of the Revolution. The Constitution needs to be more than just a footnote in American History. Civics class needs to teach civics.

Can it possibly be a coincidence that as the government moves further and further from its' Constitutional grounding education also included less and less of the principles that guarantee us our freedoms? I suspect trying to find out which caused the other is rather like trying to find determine if the egg or the chicken came first: an exercise in futility. But the solution seems clear enough: education must include significant treatment of the Constitution, and the reasons that the Founders did and did not do things. In addition to books like this biography, the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers seem like good starting places. They are certainly on MY reading list!

Making Scones

21 March 2009

All About Chickens



I have always lived in town. No chickens. So I'm curious about what the Lord's talking about when He says:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! -Matt 23:37


This imagry is not obvious to me. So I'm looking at chickens.





After a while, I begin to wonder: How come all the babies have no hens to watch over them? Or, if there are a bunch of hens, nobody seems to be have any chicks.



Is it just the videos that I'm running across?







Here's one where you actually see a hen & chicks interacting:





Bit of Chicken lore:

Jewish tradition in the Talmud alternatively refers to learning "courtesy from the cock" (eruvin 100b). This reference may be attributed to the behavior of a cock when he finds something good to eat: he calls his flock to eat first. This call is distinct from regular clucking or crowing. While giving this call, he will repeatedly pick up a morsel of food and drop it again to attract the attention of the hens. A mother hen uses a similar call and action to teach her chicks to feed. -Wikipedia

There's a Speck of Dirt...

...In his nose.

So he keeps telling us. I haven't quite figured out what to do about it. But it's terribly cute!

20 March 2009

Moms & Babies


We recently picked up the Happy Phonics program, and one of the suggestions for helping your child to grasp the relationship between capital and small letters was to play mothers and babies. I tried to find a few pictures online to use, but never did find anything that I liked. Today I found this puzzle game at the local teacher store, and Monkey loved it! It's got tons of matches; definitely room to grow here. We did just a few and it didn't take long at all before he was doing them by himself. Except the bunnies and chickens. For some reason he kept matching bunnies to chickens. Guess we need to feed him some Cadbury Eggs!

18 March 2009

Not Dead, Just Distracted

My sister asked me today if everything's OK, because I've been MIA in blog-land. I see that Keeley is wondering the same thing.

I'm not dead, I'm just distracted.




I've been doing some Photoshopping:
Before:


After:

That was a surprising amount of work to get those colors straightened out. But I'm pleased with how it turned out. It's not quite faithful to the reality when we were all standing there, but I'm a beginner.

And I've been doing some of this:







And trying to turn this string into socks. That's a big project, and I'd show you how it's going but i just ripped it out this afternoon. The sock was much bigger than the leg it was intended for, so I'm starting over. So no pictures.

And there are one or two other things going on as well, projects that don't readily submit to photographing. Oh, and a two-year old lives at my house. Cute kid. He thinks he wants attention on him, not my screen, just ever now and then, for some odd reason. But I promise, I'm not dead, I'm just distracted. I'll recover soon.

Oh, and I discovered Facebook. So I'm getting re-acquainted with a bunch of old friends. I'll be back to blogging after a while though. I've got some video & pictures I want to post on here pretty soon.

04 March 2009

Because It's Fun

Peanut butter sushi.

Not By Strawberries Alone



But he can sure try! Monkey ate a little more than half pound of strawberries when we got home from the grocery store yesterday. He would have eaten more, but I wouldn't give him any more. We still polished off the carton by the end of the day. I'm sure that he'll have some more today. Strawberries are good food.

01 March 2009

Inflation Video



Bailouts. Started by Bush. Continued by Obama.

So, this is the change that American's voted for? Cuz it looks like there's been a pretty seamless transition to me. And change or not, it's what we're all stuck with.

Ideas on how to fix the problem? Maybe we should start by firing the Federal Reserve. And all our Congressmen. Recall elections, anyone?

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