Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Evergreen Freedom Foundation is planning a more organized summer intern program this year. It sounds like fun. I have to pinch myself to realize that I was an intern there almost a decade ago and, alas, have grown up since then. There were no classes in my day, but whenever no one could think of something for me to do I would read my way through all the back issues of The Freeman and further cement my radically libertarian 16-year-old philosophy.

Oh well, they may have classes but they won't get to live with Lynn, browse her library, eat her meals, and listen to Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates at night.

Next best thing to being an intern would be teaching the interns, but I'm too far away for that, either. One of the greatest joys of life is the joy of indoctrination. However, by that time this summer I should be starting in on a much longer and more intense indoctrination of my own personal student. What's six weeks compared to a lifetime?
The thank you cards are all written!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Well, except for two DOB has agreed to undertake this weekend.) Now if I could just find my five missing addresses, one of which is for someone whom we did not invite and who does not appear in the church database. Once these are signed and mailed I can face the world with a clear conscience again.
Political Stuff

Kerry has alleged that high gas prices are the fault of Bush catering to oil interests. C'mon folks, I know you think Bush is dumb, but even he's not dumb enough to manipulate higher prices in an election year. Kerry's solution, meanwhile, is to stop stockpiling oil. Yeah, if we stop saving money, we'll have more to spend!

And at last a study shows that public funding of baseball stadiums isn't necessary for them to be profitable. Not that this makes a difference into whether they should be publicly funded--if they weren't profitable, it would indicate too little interest to justify building them. But free market baseball fans should be happy to learn this will not be necessary.

Interestingly, the opposing viewpoint only argued that teams would make less in profits if they had to pay for the stadium themselves than if the public did--and thus teams in private stadiums would get less back than teams in public stadiums. Obviously. But government isn't supposed to be in the business of removing risk and maximizing profits for private businesses.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A Tragic Day

Ireland has banned smoking in pubs.

Now, understand, I don't drink. I don't smoke. Since the baby, I'm fairly sensitive even to second-hand smoke. I've only been in a pub twice in my life (once in one frequented by Lewis and Tolkien, once in one frequented by Chesterton), and then all I had was lunch. But there has always been a small corner of my soul happy in the image of men in tweed caps smoking and drinking and singing folk songs and plotting political revolutions. I fear if one takes out one piece of the arch, the whole arch may fall. If you smoke with your drink, then you will take your drinks home with you, and then where will the folk songs and revolutions go?

If only Chesterton were here to celebrate the camaraderie of the public which is the purpose of a public house. Let the Irish have their pubs as the Baptists have their potlucks, though neither are very good for our health, because people must and should gather together. Smoking is not improved by driving it out of human fellowship any more than drinking is, as Chesterton did have occasion to write about:

God made the wicked Grocer
For a mystery and a sign,
That men might shun the awful shops
And go to inns to dine;
Where the bacon's on the rafter
And the wine is in the wood,
And God that made good laughter
Has seen that they are good.

. . . .

The wicked Grocer groces
In spirits and in wine
Not frankly and in fellowship
As men in inns do dine;
But packed with soap and sardines
And carried off by grooms,
For to be snatched by Duchesses
And drunk in dressing rooms.

Monday, March 29, 2004

More on Easter Eggs

Posting about Easter eggs has given me cause to ponder the appropriateness of various traditions. I have encountered various Christian arguments or prejudices against such traditions as decorating Easter eggs, hanging up holly and evergreens for Christmas, etc., because they are associated with this or that pagan holiday.

I have no reason to doubt the historicity of their claims. But I do doubt that they follow. After all, pagan does not necessarily mean demonic. A lot of things pagans did simply because they were the natural, human thing to do. It's natural to hang up holly and evergreens inside in the winter, because there's nothing else outside to decorate with. (I don't see anyone banning flower arrangements, but no doubt flowers are associated with evil pagan rites, too.) It's natural to use eggs in a spring holiday, because anybody with chickens has a lot of eggs in the spring. And why not decorate them, when they have that cool blank canvas of a shell just waiting to be decorated?

I can see this being in the meat-offered-to-idols category, where if someone was lured back into some pagan observance by their Christian friends doing something similar it would be a problem, but I really can't see anyone in modern America being drawn back into worshipping the fertility goddess by dyeing eggs. The association just isn't there any more. (They're much more likely to be drawn into it by researching healthy living, relaxation and natural childbirth, but that doesn't mean those things are wrong, either--just that we always have to watch our step.)

This of course is utterly separate and distinct from the question of whether one's traditions associated with a particular religious holiday reinforce pondering the true significance of the holiday, merely add to the festivity and anticipation, or become a distracting encumbrance. That's a judgment call that can only be answered by the people participating.
Easter Eggs

DOB and a fellow rep were meeting with one of their clients last week, an older fellow whose financial concerns (and stories) have taken up a good bit of their time over the last several months.

As they settled down to the newest round of paperwork, Mr. Client said, "Now you guys have been a great help to me with your brains over the past several months. Today I'll need your help with your hands. We've agreed to provide 32 dozen dyed Easter eggs for church, and we've only been able to get 12 dozen done. So after you're finished with this stuff, I'll need you to come out back and dye the rest."

DOB and fellow rep glanced at each other, trying to figure out how to say no without antagonizing the client. Finally Mr. Client cracked up and said he was only joking. Still, I wouldn't put it past him.
Brain Freeze

I had a scheduled phone call today in which I was supposed to give a final answer on whether I was interested in buying a nutritional product, and I wanted to give the ingredient list one more look before saying, "No." (Sounds good in theory, but contains stuff DOB isn't supposed to have.) But I couldn't remember the name of the product.

Now, understand, I've spent several hours on the phone with people praising this product over the past months. I had literature on it, somewhere. I had looked it up on the web before, but longer ago than my history folder. Rack my brain as I could, I could not remember it.

And then, quite suddenly, I remembered that my brothers had casually mentioned once that they had spoofed the product in a camp skit. And I knew what it was.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Born Expensive
Last night we attended our first birthing class. For non-parents among our readers, birthing classes are places where people go and discuss things not normally discussed in polite conversation, which based on my experience with little kids, is excellent preparation for parenthood.

Since it's a forty-minute drive away (the hospital has classes right down the street, but we wanted the Bradley method), and gets out rather late, the teacher has kindly offered to let us come early and watch the video that everyone else will watch at the end of class. Not only does this get us home sooner, but if it gets really gross we can close our eyes without appearing uncooperative. I'm not sure if that will help during birth or not.

The classes were held at a chiropractic office, and one of the chiropractor's wife was there with their four-month-old baby, which she brought out and exhibited for us so we would know what we were working on. We were all duly impressed.

We forgot to put money in the account, so we haven't paid for the class yet. When Rousseau said man was born free, he didn't know what he was talking about.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

It was a no-parking zone. I almost hit him when I came through a few minutes later. I'm not sure idiot properly classifies him.
How to Look Like an Idiot and Make Everyone Hate You

Yesterday I was heading to my prenatal visit, driving merrily down the road, when I got into the right turn lane. Only after I had come to a complete stop did I realize that the car in front of me had no occupant and that I was, in fact, parked. At that moment traffic in the lane next to me suddenly filled up with large, evil semis. And unfortunately I was pulled up too far to just swing back out into traffic. So I had to back up, which always confuses me because I forget which gear I am in, while more or less patient people offered me the chance to get back into traffic and then gave up on me.

It should be a no-parking zone. Maybe it is, in which case, I hope they got a ticket.

Can't loiter too long today--sister-in-law is coming over to help clean out the nursery.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Consumer Protection

Anti-trust laws for some reason make it impossible for us to have our DSL line provided by the phone company, even though it runs over the phone lines. So when we have problems with our DSL line, it is unclear (to us and to them) who should solve the problem. I'm not sure what this is meant to protect consumers from, maybe from having spare time on the weekends.

BECAUSE, last Saturday the DSL line was down. So DOB got on the phone with one company, who told him to call the other company. He called the other company and was just being referred back to the first company when the DSL spontaneously started working again. We went on our merry way for awhile and it stopped again. He called them again and they started researching it. Several more phone calls back and forth, several blinks on and off, and a three-hour-late lunch, and they finally scheduled a technician to come visit us Monday morning.

Then it started working again and worked fine the rest of the weekend. So Monday morning I called them and said not to bother. This entailed multiple people from both companies calling us later in the day to confirm that everything was, indeed, fine.

Today it blinked out again. Grrrrrrr.

Monday, March 22, 2004

More Random Comments

Hardly anyone blogs on the weekends. For east coasters, Monday morning is a bleak blog-checking time.

No matter how complimentary the relevant adjective, never use the adverb "enormously" in describing your pregnant wife.

I've been reading a site called "Ladies Against Feminism." Mostly good stuff, aside from an occasional pro-antebellum South statement that raises my hackles. (It's got stuff from a variety of sources, though, so I don't know that that represents the opinions of the editors.) The article on feminism in communist countries was particularly interesting--why did countries opposed to every other (true) right make such a fuss about providing "women's rights?" For real entertainment, read the (expurgated) "Scorching Commentary." "Bible thumping fishwives?" As Dave Barry would say, that would make a great name for a rock band . . .

Last night there was a forum on Creation at our church, with presentations by various men in the church, including a fine one by DOB's dad. One question that was raised still has me pondering--a woman asked how a spirit could create all the material world. I guess we tend to think of "spirit" as a weak shadow of "reality," no matter how hard we try, and the tangible as the most real. But then someone referred to DNA, and I realized that it is always the intangible that makes the tangible. What, for instance, is transforming biscuits and eggs into baby as I type? It is that mysterious code of DNA that somehow has ordered a single cell to divide and diversify according to a written plan. The flesh profiteth nothing. It is the Spirit--the Word--that giveth life.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Justice Scalia is, of course, brilliant even when forced to argue in his own defense. His opinion is a masterful example of explaining one's actions without being defensive--indeed, he graciously attacks back. If Supreme Court justices can no longer have a nodding acquaintance with members of the administration, we will indeed have a hard time operating a Supreme Court.
My weird aunt will be particularly interested to know you can now view Shakespeare's will online. But the legibility is not particularly high. It puts me in mind of Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad:

"Ah--Ferguson--what--what did you say was the name of the party who wrote this?"

"Christopher Colombo! ze great Christopher Colombo!"

Another deliberate examination.

"Ah--did he write it himself, or--or how?"

"He write it himself!--Christopher Colombo! he's own handwriting, write by himself!"

Then the doctor laid the document down and said:

"Why I have seen boys in America only fourteen years old that could write better than that."

"But zis is ze great Christo---"

"I don't care who it is! It's the worst writing I ever saw. No you mustn't think you can impose on us because we are strangers. We are not fools, by a good deal. If you have got any specimens of penmanship of real merit, trot them out!--and if you haven't, drive on!"

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Yesterday was St. Patrick's day, and I didn't fix corned beef and cabbage. I didn't make green cake or even green jello. And I didn't watch The Quiet Man, which is what my family always watched on St. Patrick's day once we outgrew Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

We watched Father's Little Dividend instead, mostly because we have it and we are trying to watch all the DVD's we want to before the DVD player gets turned into the office assistant's computer and goes in to the office. We are now very grateful for non-meddling parents and marital harmony.

Another movie we watched this past week was called Son of Monte Cristo. We weren't expecting that much from it, just a corny black-and-white action movie. It turned out to be great: compelling villain, almost believable hero, good political plot, well-drawn minor characters, and suspense that built until the last minute of the movie. Three thumbs up! (Baby liked it, too.)
First segment of thank you cards written, putting us at 108 out of about 190. Don't get too impatient, though, they still have to be signed, licked, stamped, and mailed.

And the longest extension I can find from an etiquette site is 3 months. Rats. However, they do say better late than never. And I am not yet as late as the latest wedding thank-you I have ever received. I just have this nagging suspicion that half the people from my half of the list are going to open their cards and say, "Do we know these people?"

Today starts the third trimester of being pregnant. Which raises new questions and challenges, like "How do I tie my shoes?" Good thing I can put my boots away in a few more weeks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


I did not ask her to shovel the driveway (or the car). I was preparing to leave for an appointment and looked out the window and there she was. Having never dealt with snow shovels before, she didn't realize that a shovel-full of the white stuff can be as heavy as a couple gallons of water (this measurement taken from the basic ingredients of snow). Better done by a grown man than an expectant mother.

Wait... I'm a grown man?! Ack...
Random observations:

An actual snowfall is not as bad as snow threatening. But I still wish it would melt.

I need lessons in snow shovelling. Some things I learned: Bend at the knees. Don't use a shovel on the car. It's heavier than it feels

The secret to hot cereal is not overcooking it. The secret to not overcooking it is remembering that it is in there while simultaneously ironing DOB's clothes. The secret to remembering it is to have a brain, which I never locate until mid-morning.

I'm pleased to report that even though I am now happily married, I still despise it as much as ever when people gush about their love life. So my disgust wasn't motivated by envy, anyway, but true Nordic dislike of public gushiness. (Then again, maybe now I envy those who still have time and energy to gush. Ha, just wait until you have kids!)

Speaking of having kids, I'm speculating on whether people really, really wanting kids is as bad for the kids as not being wanted. Imagine being a poor newborn baby, suddenly faced with fulfilling someone's huge expectations for you to fulfill their emotional needs or redo their life for them. You wouldn't know what hit you. And you couldn't possibly measure up, resulting in constant frustration on both ends. The best reason to have kids is as the accidental byproduct of being happily married. (Under which circumstances, as DOB points out, the chances are pretty good.)

So I wonder what the psychological effect is of a society in which it is standard procedure to wait to have children until you are desperate. It really can't be good for a child to have their parents buying them lesson cd's to improve their mind prenatally. Relax, Baby, we're happy to have you along for the ride, but we don't need you to fix the car or anything.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Anchors Aweigh

Last night we attended a political event at a place billed as the "Yacht Club Clubhouse." The title seemed a tad redundant, but I was curious to see what yacht clubs looked like in the midwest.

After all, though I had never been into boating myself, I had certainly attended events at yacht clubs and knew what they were like: large, bare buildings with a basic kitchen and bathroom and a big empty room where presumably the members meet and fight over the cost of repairing the marina. Outside would be a long marina and a whole lot of boats.

As we drove up, I noted the building was rather small. Also it seemed to be on a bit of a hill. Inside, it was quite the most elegantly furnished "yacht club" I had ever seen, with nautically-themed decor and cream-colored leather sofas. However, hard as I peered through the gathering darkness outside I could see no sign of actual boats. Or, for that matter, water, except for a small pond and a half-empty swimming pool.

Maybe they run remote-controlled yacht races in the swimming pool.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Marital Strength Test

Yes, DOB and QOC have survived the ultimate test to the strength of their marriage. It's not balancing the checkbook or even remodelling.

The ultimate test is whether you can jointly sort through boxes of old stuff and decide what to throw away and what to keep.

This is because the balance of nature is so arranged that a person who treasures the ball maze game Mrs. Feeblemeister gave them for reciting Psalm 1 in Sunday School in 1985 invariably marries someone who would throw away the crown jewels if they took too long to dust. And few issues so resonate with the deepest core values of a person as what they think is worth keeping around.

Not that I can't appreciate the value of having a saver around. For instance, DOB still has five boxes of toys left from childhood, many of which our own children will be allowed to enjoy. (One box has been designated Daddy's Toys and cannot be touched without careful supervision.) I have half-a-dozen stuffed animals, everything else having passed into the communal stock at my family's house, where it was destroyed by succeeding generations of siblings, guests, and grandchildren.

Still, it is a challenge to learn the proper reverence with which one should approach the heirlooms of childhood. I knew my approach was still wrong when I found myself asking if the mud on the truck tires was heirloom mud or I could wash it off . . .

Regardless, we got twelve boxes sorted and moved up to the attic. Now comes the really hard part: sorting old files and schoolwork. But I have a crib offer, so something's got to go in there.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Doctor's Orders

The case of the woman charged with murder for refusing a C-section first freaked me out; then it didn't sound so bad; then I thought about it more and decided it was still freaky.

Certainly her decision sounds unwise and even cruel. I would agree that she was wrong. But what makes it murder? She didn't do anything except allow nature to take its course. Arguably, she had a duty to act since the babies were dependent on her, but at worst, that should be involuntary manslaughter.

What worries me is how this could be applied. What if I was recommended to take a C-section as the best option for my baby, but we decided the benefits didn't outweigh the risks to me and the baby? (C-sections by no means guarantee a better outcome than vaginal birth, except in a few rare circumstances.) What if I refuse some other form of medical intervention and then something goes wrong?

The stories all contain a quote that they could find no motive other than cosmetic for the mother to act as she did. But motive is irrelevant to a murder charge; it just helps justify it in public. What if the prosecutor considered my concerns insubstantial? For example, if the C-section was not clearly necessary, I could well be influenced by the reality that getting insurance coverage for vaginal birth after cesarean is very difficult, and the desire to avoid complications in future pregnancies and deliveries. Is that insufficient reason to buck the doctor?

Or we have decided to have only a minimal number of tests, avoiding ultrasound and the like. What if it later turns out that the baby has a problem that could have been averted/proactively treated had we had more tests? Could we be liable for that?

I don't think we want a world where parents have a legal duty to follow doctor's orders. Doctors aren't any more infallible than parents. And the old saying bears repeating: Hard cases make bad law.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Brilliant Wives and the Men Who Disagree With Them

Re-taking the test in mind of my views 5 years ago, when I was young and unexperienced, scored me a 44. Hmm. QOC has certainly enhanced my ability to defend "statist" views in libertarian company. Note that the yes/no question reads "Is all government inherently evil?" Of course it isn't. Civil government was ordained by God to defend us against evil. Crooked politicians are evil.

Sidenote: why are bloggers so stupid? Last night I saw one of the recently-made blogs on, the title of which was an eloquent "moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo". Time was, one had to have something intelligent to say and be able to express it in detail and with logic in order to be heard. Then radio gave a national ear to anyone who sounded good. Then TV gave a national eye to anyone who looked good. Then the internet gave a voice to everyone on the planet. What's worse, good-looking morons or bad-looking morons?

At least QOC, who could do well on TV or radio, could still do well in the old newspaper realm, too.
Statists and the Women Who Love Them

Actually, according to the scoring table, "Your libertarian credentials are obvious. Doubtlessly you will become more extreme as time goes on."

Especially married to me. ;-)

Come on now, "Government is eeeevvvvviillllll."
Lunch Break
I got a 32. We need to talk. ; )
Ideological Purity and Clean Dishes

In the interest of maintaining order at the in-law's house while the parents-in-law are out of town for the weekend, we have taken next-to-youngest brother-in-law in for a few days. (They're all good kids, but four unsupervised boys between 11 and 17 are a dangerous combination no matter what their behavior.) He is doing all my housework for me so I can write thank you notes. I can't wait to have teenagers.

I also took a test of the purity of one's libertarian leanings, which is the best libertarian test I've seen so far. I came out with 75 points, which makes me a medium-core libertarian. I will get DOB to take it and see how he scores--he probably scores a bit lower, but higher than he would have a few years ago, while my score has probably come down. You see how we are corrupting each other. I even paused before answering the question "Is government inherently evil?" as "Yes." (I did mark it as a necessary evil.) I need to go read Justice Without the State and reinvigorate myself. Everyone repeat after me: "Government is eeeevvviiiillll."

Thursday, March 11, 2004

New Posting
Wherein I, the affectionately-named "DOB," try to post something on this blog. I don't really have anything profound to say, it just seemed like a cool thing to try for once. The things currently pressing on my mind, as a result of this evening's leisure reading, would require too much explanation: particularly the Wall Street Journal article defending Novak in the matter of the CIA agent expose. Or the fact that the new Porsche GT3 can beat out a Ferrari that's twice the price. One day, hopefully, I'll have money for a Porsche like that... heh, and then I'll spend it on something worthwhile, like down-payment on a farm.

Okay, that's a lot of nothing. I'll go back to reading the more interesting posts on this blog ~
Andree Seu offers a good point: the push for bigamy is perfectly logical next since the needs of a bisexual aren't met by being married to one person of either gender. The only thing to stand in its way would be the reality that gay marriage alone will probably be enough to reduce marriage to irrelevance.

On a lighter note, another Chesterton quote I had to post:

"The woman has a fixed and very well founded idea that if she does not insist on good manners nobody else will. Babies are not always strong on the point of dignity, and grown-up men are quite unpresentable."

Yup. This means you, DOB. ;-)
Tales Out of School

Options for Eating
Yesterday's copy of the local paper (the kind that reports on the table decor at the ladies' club luncheon) contained a story on the district's school breakfast program. They are quite pleased with the response, finding that not only are many students participating at free or reduced cost, but many are paying full price--in other words, their parents certainly could afford to feed them breakfast, they just don't want to bother. Full price is a dollar, which seems cheap compared to breakfast at a restaurant, but would be pretty extravagant for breakfast at home.

And such healthy food as they are getting, carefully designed to meet state nutrition standards: an enriched doughnut, cold cereal such as Trix, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on graham crackers.

My mom wouldn't have let me eat that much sugar for dessert, let alone breakfast.

Options for Thinking
Secularists are gasping with horror at the new lesson plan being offered by the Ohio School Board. Not that it mentions God or creation or anything. It's not even mandated. But teachers would have the option of including a lesson that would allow for critical thinking about evolution.

Can this be constitutional? Surely the Constitution mandates that evolution be taught as unquestionable fact. Considering that Charles Darwin wasn't born when the Constitution was written, I kind of doubt it.

The insidious things students will be taught through this lesson:
* Understanding the nature of theories
* Applying the scientific method
* Distinguishing between microevolution (change within species) and macroevolution (change between species)
* Arguing whether different evidence supports macroevolution or not.

Now, what is so scary about this? Is the theory of evolution so weak that it can't handle a classroom of 16-year-olds thinking critically about it?

The secularists will compare teaching--or even hinting--about intelligent design to giving students the option of considering the flat earth theory. But come to think of it, debating the curvature of the earth, examining the evidence for and against it and allowing students to argue both sides, would be an excellent intellectual exercise. And I'm pretty sure students would come to the conclusion that the earth was, in fact, round.

So what are they so afraid of here?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I just finished the first book of Churchill's history of World War II, which culminates with his rise to Prime Minister as Holland and Belgium are invaded by Germany. You have to love his well-deserved self-confidence, with only a hint of irritation at the stupidity of the rest of the world for not confiding in him more:

"Thus, by the afternoon, I became aware that I might well be called upon to take the lead. The prospect neither excited nor alarmed me. I thought it would be by far the best plan."

"Thus, then, on the night of the tenth of May, at the outset of this mighty battle, I acquired the chief power in the State, which henceforth I wielded in ever-growing measure for five years and three months of world war, at the end of which time, all our enemies having surrendered unconditionally or being about to do so, I was immediately dismissed by the British electorate from all further conduct of their affairs. . . . I cannot conceal from the reader of this truthful account that as I went to bed at about 3 a.m. I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. . . . My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it. I thought I knew a good deal about it all, and I was sure I should not fail. Therefore, although impatient for the morning, I slept soundly and had no need for cheering dreams. Facts are better than dreams."

There is the voice of a craftsman who knows his job well and is glad for the chance to do it. It just happens that his job is saving civilization.
Dying Brain Cells
While surfing around this morning I found the blog of a former fellow-student at journalism courses in summer '02. A year and a half ago I at least thought I could hold my own in intellectual debate with him, and now he writes about profound philosophical issues while I write about thank-you notes.

I had heard motherhood killed brain cells--I didn't realize it started so soon. You lose your body, you lose your mind, you lose your ability to make plans more than five minutes out. I used to think it odd that such a serious undertaking as bringing another human being into the world was not predicated by a solemn and unpleasant activity that would prove one's commitment to the task. On second thought, if it was, I'm not sure the world population would ever have reached the replacement rate.

Enough depressing thoughts. The problem is not a loss of brainpower, but a necessary diffusion of it. If I cannot be the student of philosophy I was two years ago, it is because I must also keep a house operating, cook healthy food for three very hungry people, run an office, train for a major athletic event, prepare to introduce a new person to the world, and still have the energy to make it all look like fun. It is more important, after all, to live great ideas than just to think them.

Time for another Chesterton quote:
"If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colourless and of small import to the soul, then, as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours and holidays; to be Whitley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."

There, I feel better now. Back to the dishes.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


I was so proud of myself for finally sitting down and writing thank you notes--and only six months out, too! But I got stumped on how to write a thank you note for the sixth set of non-matching bath towels ("We'll think of you every time we use them" didn't seem quite appropriate) and started surfing wedding etiquette sites. I found one that says that wedding thank you's should be written two weeks after returning from the honeymoon.

Ha! Our gifts hadn't even arrived two weeks later. Maybe we can get an extension for having a one-day honeymoon? And another one for moving cross-country into an apartment without room for us to even see all our stuff? And another one for being pregnant? And for moving again? Please?
Tacoma Resident Begins Issuing Inter-Appliance Marriage Licenses

Tacoma resident Marcia Pritchards announced Monday that she was issuing a marriage license to her cat and her toaster, who plan to be married this Saturday.

Pritchards said she was inspired by the example of mayors around the nation issuing licenses to same-sex couples. "Then my cat and my toaster came to me, and I realized--they have a truly loving and caring relationship. How can we deny them this basic right?"

Although some have questioned her legal authority to grant such licenses, Pritchards remains adamant. "I think the laws are open to interpretation. What I go with is the Constitution, which guarantees equality. We can't deny my cat the right to marry the one he loves."

Pritchards said she would issue licenses to any other couple who requested them. "I think something's developing between my neighbor's lawnmower and the oak tree on the corner," she commented. "If they came to me I'd be delighted to marry them."

Monday, March 08, 2004

Legal Challenges

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels would like to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but it turns out he lacks legal authority.

Well, come on, that hasn't stopped anyone else.

(Technical explanation: Cities don't issue marriage licenses in Washington.)
It's snowing. Bad. It's March. No. More. Snow.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Both DOB and I got this result, although DOB also tried answering as his "less refined" self and came up as Alexander Hamilton. Although I don't concur with the lack of creativity, the Washington answers about handling conflict fit me to a T, especially the one that said, "I never lose my temper where people will see; it's crude. Besides, well-bred people don't lose their tempers with those stupider than themselves." I'm not patient, I'm just arrogant.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Ramble on SSM

One of the best arguments against same-sex marriage from a secular standpoint is the harm it will do to children by dissasociating marriage from parenthood. Usually those arguing for SSM argue back that "gays make good parents, too" and that not all heterosexual couples want to/have children. Both of which are missing the point: a society in which marriage is only about the feelings of two people for each other is a society in which marriage is meaningless. And that is a society that is bad for children. In a recent Weekly Standard article, Stanley Kurtz demonstrates is not merely a theoretical one: This is in fact what has happened in Scandinavia, where gay marriage has been lawful for a decade.

In Scandinavia, half or nearly half of children are born out of wedlock. A decade ago the thing to do was get married when the second child came along; now it's not even worth bothering about then. And non-marital families are as proportionally unstable there as they are everywhere else in the world. Certainly this trend was already occurring, but gay marriage has been openly used to reinforce the idea that children do not particularly need both the man and woman who made them as a permanent part of their lives.

Obviously gay marriage does not even arise as an issue until social mores have already slid to a certain point. In America, we're still one step behind where most Scandinavian countries were a decade ago--it's still considered proper to marry before having children, although of course you will live together first. (DOB and I did not realize how common this assumption was in the wider culture until he started introducing me as his fiancee and people would make comments indicating this. He finally resorted to casually mentioning my residence in another state, although I'm sure this didn't change their assumptions much. Little did they know we weren't even allowed to sleep under the same roof during visits, no matter how many inquisitive siblings that roof also sheltered.)

However, Norway was at a similar level of social mores when gay marriage was imposed by the politicians--and it thereafter rapidly overtook the other Scandinavian countries in decline of the family, as well as decline of religious influence.

Apparently, then, attempting to stop the imposition of gay marriage now is a worthwhile endeavor, at least preventing the decline of morals from accelerating. But it will only be a temporary measure unless we can also rebuild the status of marriage. Obviously this cannot be done by laws alone, or even primarily through laws, since most of it has happened independent of law.

But how do we do it? Somehow goodness isn't as contagious as badness. Sure, being married is right and benefits us and our child(ren), as did waiting to act married until we actually were. But when a friend announces he is now engaged to his live-in girlfriend, do we respond? Bragging about one's morality seems as vulgar as bragging about immorality. And if one never says anything, how does one's marriage differ from anyone else's lifestyle choices?

It is vital to upholding the proper place of marriage for people to see and know about good marriages. Living well is the greatest force for changing the world. But how do you make it apparent to people that one's marital success is not due to a fortuitous coincidence of personalities, or of an extraordinary genetic endowment of martyrdom, but because one has tapped into the power of a universal principle?

Whatever it takes to be an example of good marriage, I'm sure it takes more than a successful six months. Unfortunately, those who should be examples are not. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an article on seniors living together. If Mom and Dad are divorced and Grandma lives with her boyfriend, where do you learn? At the end, a grandmother offered her prepared answer for when her nine-year-old grandson asked why she wasn't married: "Grandmom and Grandpop love each other and love you. We're all committed to each other. We don't need that in writing to be a family."

But any nine-year-old can see through that. If you meant it, you'd be willing to cross your heart and hope to die. We all know how the promise is made--and if you won't make it, all your other words don't mean a thing.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The Cake Is Made

And it is very good. Since I only had one layer and it looked rather flat, I decided to cut it in thirds and make a three-layer cake. This worked quite well, except that it looks like I quietly ate two-thirds of a triple-decker cake this afternoon. Really, I didn't. Even pregnant I couldn't do that.
Essential Recipes

I had plans this week to make spice cake with penuche icing. We're not big sweets eaters, but I like to fix a dessert for the weekend.

I found a recipe for spice cake, but then discovered none of my cookbooks had the right penuche icing recipe. (For those who don't peruse the cookbooks of a bygone era, penuche icing is a kind of creamy brown-sugar icing.) There were similar recipes, but they were not the recipe.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to have the right recipe. That my day would not be complete without licking the leftover penuche icing in the pan. So I called my younger sister and had her find the page in the right recipe book (no doubt marred permanently by my adolescent cooking endeavors) and give it to me. Now all is well, except that I have to wait until the cake is all baked and cooled to make the frosting.

My sister also announced that she thinks the cat is expecting again. Do pregnant cats get cravings? "I've just got to have a little mole. No, a shrew will not do."
And so the breakdown of law spreads.

I don't want same-sex marriage to be the battle of our times. I don't like this issue. It's gooky. I'm not satisfied with the secular arguments that can be made, and I don't want to make the religious ones.

But I don't think it's a side issue I can ignore, either. We don't always get to choose where the battles of our times will be.

Even if right now I'm not doing much besides trying to take over the world by numbers . . .

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Morning Newslinks

DOB: Great, now they're going to pass an anti-spam law.

QOC: That's stupid. If they wait a year or two the private sector will take care of it.

DOB: How?

QOC: I was reading about it. A bunch of the big email providers are working on stuff like requiring verification of email addresses so spammers can't get around blocks by spoofing addresses.

DOB: Well, if the private sector was about to solve it, no wonder the government had to act fast.
The Passion

After much careful deliberation, DOB and I overcame our natural skinflintedness (compounded by trying to simultaneously pay for a new business, new house, and new baby) and general inbred prejudices against movie theaters and determined to go see The Passion. It probably helped us in this decision that we are rather out of mainstream evangelical culture and nobody tried to talk us into going. So we could satisfy our contrarian tendencies and go to it to defy the critics and naysayers.

I was a little nervous because I'd never seen an R-rated movie before and I kept reading reviews by all these movie reviewers saying they found it overly gory--so if people who watch this stuff all the time were grossed out about it, how would I handle it? But the conclusion I have come to is that the people who complain about the violence are those who don't get why. Yes, you sit there and wonder, "Why don't they stop doing this to him?" but if you are expecting to be reminded of the magnitude of Christ's suffering, you get what you are looking for. It is too much violence to be entertaining (unless you are a Roman soldier) but not too much to be devotional.

Some reviewers have complained that Pilate was portrayed too sympathetically, in contrast with the portrayal of the Sanhedrin. But Pilate's portrayal was one of the most powerful and convicting parts of the film. You feel convinced that you have met Pilate somewhere, at a conference or something. And gradually it dawns on you--Pilate is us. Pilate is a modern American. Most of us don't think of ourselves as the sole representatives of the One True God, nor are we debauched hereditary monarchs or trained sadistic brutes. We would have little identification with the Sanhedrin or Herod or the foot soldiers however they were portrayed. But Pilate is a businessman. A businessman with a crummy assignment in middle management and a pointy-wreathed boss breathing down his neck. In person, he wouldn't hurt a fly. But when faced with the choice between saving his skin and condemning a man whom he knows to be innocent and suspects to be divine, he chooses the expedient option. He feels bad about it, but what can he do? Who really knows the truth, anyway?

And as you watch him, you know that you could do the same.

Monday, March 01, 2004

We have a playpen in our living room. Somebody at church gave it to us and I'm leaving it out partly because I mean to take it out and wash it down the next dry day and partly because I'm trying to adjust to the mental shock. It seems like it should belong to a visitor who will take it away. Or that it should be in someone else's house. The thought of us with a real, live, squirmy baby is still beyond comprehension.