Friday, April 28, 2006

Our Serengeti Home: Part 2

Part 1

Our friendly neighborhood Katrina refugees, a mated pair (at least) of African lions who escaped from their temporary shelter, have not been seen lately. Apparently they're still in the more wooded county next door. I say that because something is causing the local predators over there to move over here.

Tests revealed that the big cat tracks next to the pen of dead goats down the road from us were panther tracks, not lion tracks. Last Saturday afternoon the cleaning lady at a nearby church arrived to find bear cubs playing in the church flower beds. She didn't bother looking for the mother bear; she turned her car around and left. And about half an hour ago my sister-in-law, who had come over for lunch, called me from her cell phone to tell me that a wolf or coyote had ran across the road in front of her car just after she left our house.

I've always known the major highway in front of our house was a protection against wild animals, but I meant snakes and raccoons. Not guest stars from Wild Kingdom!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I Couldn't Make This Up If I Tried

My husband has to cover "energy and power" in his 7th grade science class. He thought he would start by talking about the scientist the term "Joule" is named after. He tried to, but the class had trouble following his story. There were holes in their knowledge base.

Did they know about Faraday? No.

Cannons? Sorta.

Napoleon? No.

France? Sorta.

England? Sorta.

The 19th Century? No.

Alexandria? No.

Alexander the Great? No.

The Romans? Sorta.

The students were very uncomfortable by the end of the period. One boy came up to apologize and explain after it was over. He said he was sorry, but "they" (the elementary school) didn't teach either science or social studies any more (to make more time for the state tests). "They" had promised the children that the children would be taught science and social studies when they got to the junior high in the seventh grade. The boy assured my husband that he was doing a good job of teaching science, but the social studies teacher was falling down on his job. "All he does is have us read the textbook. He doesn't teach us anything." Apparently the child had no concept of the difference between "history" and "social studies". How could he? He didn't know enough of either.

Yeah, and all this state test prep is supposed to result in better educated people.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Teacher Training Lesson

Cross-posted at The Homeschool Cafe.

My husband has attended many teacher training seminars since he started teaching high school. After the main topic has been covered, there's usually a general question-and-answer period. The first year he taught, a teacher at one of these seminars asked for advice about the situation at her school. She was promised a certain amount of money for supplies and replacing textbooks. The money somehow disappeared before it got to her. The administration refused to discipline any student any teacher sent to the office. They refused to do anything about students roaming the halls. When she tried to improve conditions for her students, her requests were refused and she was belittled in staff meetings. Everything the students were supposed to have, from books to buses to school lunches to sports equipment, was far below standard. Everything the faculty was supposed to have was in even worse shape, including the faculty lounge restroom which had broken down a year before she got there. The teacher broke down and began sobbing as she told her story.

The workshop presenter nodded her head grimly and waited for the teacher to regain her composure. "I've seen this myself. I've heard about it many times. Your school is rotten. No matter how hard you try, you will not be allowed to help your students. The only thing you can do is leave."

The teacher began to protest. The presenter held up her hand. "I'm sure you love those kids. You're a good teacher and you want to do the best for them. But you won't be allowed to do anything. Get out now. If you stay you will only burn yourself out trying, and you won't do any good. There's no shame in walking away from something you can't fix. Leave, and go to another school district where you will be able to do some good."

Every other year after that my husband saw this story repeated at other teacher training seminars. It was always a different teacher, a different presenter, and a different school district. But the story was always the same. Recently the school system has put a stop to such scenes by ending multi-school teacher training seminars.

As homeschool parents, we're constantly told, "Why don't you put your energy into fixing the school system for all children?" Sometimes the system can be fixed by a concerned parent. Sometimes it can't. If a rotten school will put up such insurmountable obstacles against reform efforts coming from an "insider" like a teacher, they'll put up ten times the obstacles against reform efforts coming from a perceived "outsider" like a parent. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you will not be allowed to help the children. If that's the case, it's time to leave. You'll only burn yourself out trying, and you won't do any good. There's no shame in walking away from something you can't fix. Leave, and go do your children some good somewhere else.

Let me put it another way: if a woman told you that her spouse was abusing their children and ignoring her pleas for him to stop, what would you tell her? Would you say, "It's your fault. You should try harder to make him stop"? Or would you say, "Get out now!" So why should a parent with children that are being abused by a school system which is ignoring her pleas for it to stop be treated any differently?

And here's a tip for young teachers: when they're giving you a tour of the school and showing off all the fancy toys, check out the faculty lounge restroom. If they're not going to support teachers in that area, they won't support teachers anywhere else.


My husband is disgusted with "genuine cowhide" belts that barely last two years. He wants a solid leather belt, thank-you-very-much. He just ordered us up a bunch of leather and leather-working supplies. One of the excuses is that it can lead the children into silverwork. They don't have the strength to stamp and form metal, but they're strong enough to stamp leather. So they've all had fun stamping and painting leather this weekend. We'll see how it goes.

Review: Crosstie Arts & Jazz Festival

There are thousands of small-town festivals in the South. Most of them stink on ice. There's nothing to do but walk past endless booths of cheap "made in China" junk, some of which you feel obliged to buy your children against your better judgment just to apologize for dragging them out there. If you haven't seen one, Roger Brown's Master's thesis Ghost Dancing on the Cracker Circuit is a dead accurate and painfully funny depiction of the average festival. If you have seen one, the book is even more painfully funny.

Cleveland, Mississippi's Crosstie Arts & Jazz Festival is different. There's no Chinese junk for sale. It's all good quality handmade arts and crafts, except for two booths of hand-raised pets. There is a tent where you can talk to Mississippi authors and ask for their autographs. The music is several cuts above average; I dropped my jaw when I recognized the names of their "surprise" artists. Sales were steady for most of the vendors; people we talked to said sales were down slightly from previous years, and blamed high gas prices.

But the real treat for families was the "extensive children's area". Usually there isn't anything for children, or there's one poorly organized booth with nobody there. Crosstie has an entire side lawn set up for children with six different booths/areas for children. There was a stage for children's performers, a booth for making colored sand bottles and face painting, a booth for pottery making, a booth for beading, a booth for painting complete with a row of sturdy easels and clotheslines for drying, and an area with wading pools full of sand and children's play equipment. There were also some freebies donated by Cellular South. All of these activities and items were free to any child who came up there.

I spoke to the children's area coordinator, Miss Amy. Miss Amy is a former elementary schoolteacher, and she organized the children's area the way she had always tried to organize her classroom. Some of the supplies had been left over from last year. Other supplies were bought from a teacher's supply catalog because "they have the best prices." Volunteers from the local college, Delta State University, sat up and ran the children's booths. Other volunteers built the easels, and provided the sand toys and play equipment. Miss Amy's goal was to get the children to say, "That was fun! Can we come back next year?"

Children's attractions can make or break a festival. Too often the festival organizers do nothing for children, and rely on the parents to placate them with Chinese junk from the buy-and-resale booths. But, as my husband and I found out the hard way, the crowd that buys buy-and-resale doesn't tend to buy hand-crafted originals. We learned from experience there's no point in setting up at a festival where the majority of purchases are $5 or less kid's toys. So have other crafters, and few of us will bother with a festival that allows buy-and-resale booths.

The only alternative for the festival organizers is to actually do something for the children. Crosstie has the best organized children's setup I've ever seen. It made the whole trip more pleasant and more relaxing, and made us feel better about coming back next year. In turn the lack of buy-and-resale meant the quality of merchandise was much higher, which made us feel more like spending money and coming back next year.

I urge more festivals use Crosstie as a model for how to do things right. We could use some higher quality festivals around here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Archeology Roundup

Donna Hart points out how often our ancestors were Hyena Chow. Semir Osmanagic excavates an ancient European pyramid. Masato Sakai finds a previously undiscovered animal drawing on the Nazca Plateau.

HT: Wren's Nest

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What Are Friends For?

They're for talking you into joining a group blog. Which my friends have done to me. My first entry is up.

Utterly Cool

It turns out the frozen lakes under the glaciers of Antartica are connected by a secret series of rivers and streams. (Try saying that five times fast.) Scientists would dearly love to drill into them and see what sort of microscopic life forms have evolved there, but with the rivers there is the chance of widespread contamination if they do so.

HT: Wren's Nest

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Positive Homeschool Reference in Fiction

Eric Flint has written a thoughtful, lively and highly entertaining alternate history series that starts with the novel 1632. Normally I loathe alternate histories and time travel stories, but Flint is a master storyteller who has thoroughly done his homework. In 1632 a small, economically depressed West Virginia coal-mining town is displaced in time to 1632 Thuringia (Germany) right in the middle of the 30 Years War. This accident drops a town of coal miners, farmers, schoolteachers, small-town business people, utility workers, and retirees into one of the bloodiest wars in history with no more than the proverbial clothes on their back. Can they outfight the armies, make powerful allies, reinvent 300 years worth of technology, free the peasants, promote religious tolerance during one of the worst religious conflicts of all time, and found a New United States in the heart of Europe? Without high-tech support? Or coffee? Seven books into the series the jury is still out, but they're having a lot of fun trying.

Other books in the series have featured stirring battles, ingenious technology, complex intrigues, and thrilling courtroom dramas; but 1634: The Ram Rebellion starts with a more practical concern -- sheep. American farmer Flo Richards has a small flock of pedigree Merino ewes but no ram. The first local ram she gets has fleece so scruffy she nicknames him "Brillo". After she finds a silkier-fleeced ram for her ewes, Brillo is booted out of their pasture. He gets back in again at every opportunity, keeping Flo busy chasing him down. Her complaints about Brillo's antics inspire an anonymous writer to rework classic children's tales to feature him and sell them to the local newspaper. The stories inspire songs, a League of Women Voters, the first Modern Ballet Company(!) in this universe, a marketing franchise frenzy, and a peasant revolution in the neighboring province. Not a bad year's work for one ornery ram.

Along the way there are several positive mentions of homeschooling as former residents of Grantville find jobs further away from their hometown administering to the needs of their growing nation. The series has spent weeks on the New York Times Bestseller's List, so it's nice to see favorable mentions where people tend to read then.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ancient Egyptian Proverbs for Young Children: 10 Virtues Required of a Candidate for the Priesthood

Aristotle studied in Egypt, and adopted this list for his virtues of Man. This list has been edited slightly for young children.

1. Control of thought.

2. Unswerving pursuit of Justice.

3. Fortitude, or steadfastness of purpose..

4. Temperance, or identity with a spiritual life instead of everyday passions.

5. Evidence of having a mission in life, and

6. Evidence of a call to spiritual Orders of the Priesthood in the Mysteries. The combination of 5 and 6 was the equivalent to Prudence, or a deep insight and graveness that befitted a priest.

7. Courage, or freedom from resentment when under experiencing persecution and wrong.

8. Confidence in the Teacher, and

9. Confidence in one's own ability to learn. 8 and 9 together are known as Fidelity.

10. Readiness for initiation.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ancient Egyptian Proverbs for Young Children: Temple of Luxor

These proverbs are carved on the walls of the Temple of Luxor. They are profound, and often over the heads of many adults. Probably they would be best for upper elementary students and older, but it can't hurt to go on and expose younger children to the concepts. I have edited the language slightly to make it easier for young children. Sometimes I had to edit the language quite a bit as some of these proverbs are tough even for adults to understand, but I tried to capture the essence.

Like all the Ancient Proverbs posts, this one will be added to the list under Ancient Pagan Proverbs for Young Children in the sidebar.

Here's a great article on Ancient Egyptian temples, including Luxor, that's written at a lower elementary level.

When the student is ready, the Teacher will appear.

The kingdom of Heaven is already within you; if you understand yourself you shall find it.

The best and shortest road towards knowledge of truth is Nature.

For every joy there is a price to be paid.

If his heart rules him, his conscience will keep him out of trouble.

What you are doing does not matter so much as what you are learning from doing it. It is better admit how little you know than to lie and claim to understand something when you don't.

If you search for the laws of harmony, you will find knowledge.

If you are searching for the gods, observe Nature!

Excitement over something is a good incentive to action, but true understanding only comes from carefully thinking it through.

The greatest Teacher can not learn one single thing for her student, the student must learn if for himself. Therefore the student can only learn something when he is mature enough to understand it.

The body is the house of the Gods. That is why it is said, "Man know thyself."

True teaching is not an accumulation of knowledge; it is an awaking of understanding which goes through many stages.

The man who teaches one of his brothers what he knows may one day be saved by that very brother.

People bring about their own undoing through their tongues.

If one tries to navigate unknown waters one runs the risk of shipwreck.

Leave him in error who loves his error.

Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.

To know means to record in one's memory; but to understand means to blend with the thing and to take it into yourself.

There are two kinds of error: blind faith and piecemeal criticism. Never believe a word without putting its truth to the test; discernment does not grow in laziness; and this faculty of discernment is indispensable to the Seeker. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error.

Love is one thing, knowledge is another.

True sages are those who give what they have, without meanness and without secret!

An answer brings no understanding unless the question has matured to a point where it gives rise to it's own answer. Therefore learn how to ask a question.

What reveals itself to me ceases to be mysterious—for me alone. If I explain it to anyone else, he hears only words which betray the living sense. Profanation, but never revelation.

The first concerning the 'secrets': all understanding comes from inside. We are therefore initiated only by ourselves, but the Teacher gives the keys.

The second concerning the 'way': the seeker has need of a Teacher to guide him and lift him up when he falls, to lead him back to the right way when he strays.

Understanding develops by degrees.

As to deserving, know that the gift of Heaven is free; this gift of Knowledge is so great that no effort whatever could hope to 'deserve' it.

If the Teacher teaches what is error, the student's submission is slavery; if he teaches truth, this submission is ennoblement.

There grows no wheat where there is no grain.

The only thing that is humiliating is helplessness.

An answer if profitable in proportion to the intensity of the quest.

Listen to your conviction, even if they seem absurd to your reason.

Know the world in yourself. Never look for yourself in the world, for this would be to project your illusion

To teach one must know the nature of those whom one is teaching.

In every vital activity it is the path that matters.

The way of knowledge is narrow.

Each truth you learn will be, for you, as new as if it had never been written.

The only active force that arises out of possession is fear of losing the object of possession.

If you defy an enemy by doubting his courage you double it.

The nut doesn't reveal the tree it contains.

Peace is an indispensable condition of learning knowledge.

The first thing necessary in teaching is a teacher; the second is a pupil capable of carrying on the tradition.

Peace is the fruit of activity, not of sleep.

Envious greed must govern to possess and ambition must possess to govern.

When the governing class isn't chosen for quality it is chosen for material wealth. This always means decadence, the lowest stage a society can reach.

Two tendencies govern human choice and effort, the search after quantity and the search after quality. They classify mankind. Some follow Truth, others seek the way of animal instinct.

One's moral qualities are measured by one's deeds.

One foot isn't enough to walk with.

Our senses serve to affirm, not to know.

We mustn't confuse mastery with mimicry, knowledge with superstitious ignorance.

Paying attention is indispensable for the achievement of knowledge.

A man can't be judge of his neighbor' intelligence. His own vital experience is never his neighbor's.

No discussion can throw light if it wanders from the real point.

Your body is the temple of knowledge.

Experience will show you, a Teacher can only point the way.

A house has the character of the man who lives in it.

All organs work together in the functioning of the whole.

A man's heart is his own Divine Principle.

A pupil may show you by his own efforts how much he deserves to learn from you.

Routine and prejudice distort vision. Each man thinks his own horizon is the limit of the world.

You will free yourself when you learn to be calm and follow the instructions of your heart without letting things disturb you. This is the way of Truth.

Judge by cause, not by effect.

Wisdom doesn't depend on the intellect or its possibilities but on the intensity of the inner urge.

Every man must act in the rhythm of his time ... such is wisdom.

Men need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better to base the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source.

Truth links humans and the Gods. It can't be found by logic alone.

Have the wisdom to abandon the trappings of a time that has passed and pick out what will be needed in the future. An environment must be suited to the age and men to their environment.

Everyone finds himself in the world where he belongs. The essential thing is to have a fixed point from which to check its reality now and then.

Always watch and follow Nature.

Everything always arises from the interaction of complementaries. If you want something look for the complement that will elicit it. Set causes Horus. Horus redeems Set.

All seed answer light, but the color is different.

The plant reveals what is in the seed.

Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought.

It is the passive resistance from the helm that steers the boat.

The key to all problems is the problem of understanding.

Everything you do will have it's consequences. You must increase your sense ofresponsibilityy

If you would build something solid, don't work with wind. Always look for a fixed point, something you know that is stable ... yourself.

If you would know yourself, take yourself as starting point and go back to its source; your beginning will disclose your end.

Images are nearer reality than cold definitions.

Seek peacefully and you will find what you seek.

Organization is impossible unless those who know the laws of harmony lay the foundation.

It is no use whatever preaching Wisdom to men: you must inject it into their blood.

Knowledge is the understanding of reality. Reality is the sum of the laws that govern nature and of the causes from which they flow.

Social good is what brings peace to family and society.

Knowledge is not necessarily wisdom.

By knowing one reaches belief. By doing one gains conviction. When you know, dare.

Unselfish behavior is the mark of a superior person.

All is within yourself. Know your most inward self and look for what corresponds with it in nature.

The seed cannot sprout upwards without simultaneously sending roots into the ground.

The seed includes all the possibilities of the tree. ... The seed will develop these possibilities, however, only if it receives proper nourishment.

Grain must return to the earth, die, and decompose for new growth to begin.

Man, know yourself ... and you shall know the Gods.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Brighteyes just left for a sleepover with her aunt. Before she left we reviewed the rules of her behavior: no hitting, no kicking, no screaming, no shouting, only one movie, don't wander from your table in restaurants, and so on.

"That's so many rules. I have trouble remembering them."

"Yes but most of the rules can be summed up in one rule: don't do things to other people that you don't want them to do to you. You don't like people hitting you? Then don't hit other people. You don't like people screaming at you? Then don't scream at other people."

"Oh! That's easy to remember! And it does cover most of the rules."

"That's right. You can also talk it over with your aunt if you have any questions about it."

As long as she doesn't get too tired and forget, I don' t think we have anything to worry about.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

This Is Where Hitting Children Leads

Once you think it's all right -- even holy! -- to hit your own beloved children, your own flesh and blood, what do you do to other people's children? If you're willing to beat your own children with plumbing line, what do you do to the children of your "enemy"? You torture them. You rape them. Because if the children you are supposed to love deserve beatings, the children of your enemies must deserve so much worse.

Stop it. Now. No excuses.

I always said this place looks like the Serengeti

The local countryside is full of rolling pastures dotted by the occasional orchard tree. While the types of plants are different, the layout looks a lot like the plains of Africa.

Now it looks a lot more like Africa.

When Katrina hit the Coast, lots of refugees came here, bringing their livestock and pets with them. Local pastures were made available for displaced horses and other animals who needed it. Turns out some of the pets were a little more exotic then others. Someone brought up a menagerie that included lions and stored them in the next county. Some of the lions escaped. There is at least one mated pair missing, possibly others. (For some reason, the owners are rather reticent on that subject.) Lion tracks have been spotted near our house, and last night the the news reported that lions attacked and killed three goats in a pasture five miles from us.

We have small dogs in our backyard. And big piles of sand that overlook the neighbor's pasture full of newborn calves. And little girls, lets not forget them.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Yesterday we had a picnic at the playhouse, and I finished the first sundress. Today I meant to start the next sundresses, but Brighteyes had cut her heel and wanted to be babied. She's finally showing an interest in Girl Genius, so I read the girls the Secret Blueprints, Volume 1, Volume 2, and the start of Volume 3. Tomorrow I'll finish Volume 3 and start reading her the story off the internet. I'd better not let her find out there's a new page late ever Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday night; or I'll never get her to bed on time again.

Meanwhile, it's only a few minutes until tonight's new page....

Monday, April 10, 2006

Still on Spring Break. I finished sewing the seperates and started on the sundresses. I may actually have time to blog this week.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Building Better Geeks Part 2: The Deeper Problem

In Part 1 we established that geek children often appear out-of-step with their age-mates due to "asynchronous learning" when forced into age-segregated environments. But why is it that geek adults often appear confused by and out-of-step with the mainstream? What's with the science fiction, the role-playing games, the comic books, the Ren Faires? Why are they so different from other people?

The truth is that not every geek likes science fiction, role-playing games, comic books, and/or Ren Faires. But there are times when we all feel confused by the dominant culture.

Geeks are not confused about the dominant culture because of where they did or did not go to school. I've met geeks who attended every type of school structure you can imagine, and their confusion cuts across the spectrum. Geeks are often confused about the dominant culture because the internal architecture of their heads does not allow them to see the world the same way other people do, and they miss the connotations that everyone else "knows" to be true.

When I was younger, my geek friends and I would wonder where this seemingly rock-solid certainty our age-mates had about the world came from. We were in class with these kids every day, and we couldn't figure it out. What did they know that we didn't? And who had told them? One guy even wondered if the rest of the school had gone to some secret assembly and been taught all these subjects on some day when he was home sick. But no. It turned out the truth was both simpler and more depressing.

My husband and I had hints over the years, but we got hit over the head with it when I was pregnant with Brighteyes. One day we passed a hand-lettered poster that said "Midwife Conference". We pulled over to see what was going on. We hadn't found any local midwives, and were driving 3 hours each way for appointments at The Farm. The Farm Clinic is the oldest freestanding midwives' clinic and the U.S., and has an unbeaten track record for health and safety. Our experience with them has always been entirely positive, except for that long drive. If there was a closer midwife, we'd like to know about her.

Unfortunately the "conference" turned out to be a recruiting scam put on by an extreme Far-Right Christian group that we later found out was being watched for cult activity. We were shocked but intrigued. What could we learn about how these groups operated? We decided to stay and watch.

It went fine at first. I was obviously in my third trimester and looked like good recruit material at first, so they talked up their group extensively to us. After about an hour and a half though, I slipped up and made a mistake. They were talking about having the only midwife in the area, and I mentioned The Farm Midwives in Summertown.

"Oh, you don't want to go there."

"Why?" I asked without thinking.

Instant silence. Everyone turned to look at me with shocked expressions on their faces, and several people actually took a step away from us. They could not have been more horrified if I had turned green, grown horns and hooves, and started spewing blood. In fact, they would have definitely found that transformation easier to understand.

In that same instant, I knew what the dividing line was between geeks and non-geeks. It was as plain as day, and it had nothing to do with science fiction or Ren Faires. It was this fact: geeks ask questions. Questions about anything and everything. We can't help it. It's hardwired into our brains. And it's a behavior pattern that is not only inexplicable but often frightening to those who don't share it.

(Of course, once you ask questions you begin to look for answers. Sometimes those answers involve science fiction and Ren Faires. Sometimes not.)

For the rest of the "conference" members of the group stayed far away from us. They whispered stories behind our backs about demons who came to Church disguised as humans, sat in the back pews, and subtly corrupted "the magic of the Service" with their foul presence. It was one of the most disturbing experiences of my life.

(I know all Christians aren't like these folks. I did say they were extremists.)

Nonetheless, our fortitude was rewarded by a wealth of insights. One of them was that people who can't or won't ask questions and people who can and will ask questions are often going to find the other group's behavior "weird", confusing, uncomfortable, and somewhat frightening. Years later, I still don't know what to do about this situation. All I know is this: when I see my own wonderful daughters asking questions at the seeming rate of 90/minute, I don't want anyone convincing them that behavior is bad. I don't want to see hoods go down over the lights in their bright, sunny eyes. And that is the ultimate reason I homeschool.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

J.K. Rowling Tackles Anorexia Obsession

J.K. Rowling rants about Western culture's obsession with unhealthy underweight women; her fears of what effect this obsession has on girls, including her daughters; and about acquaintances who see her after a long time and can only say, "You've lost weight!" after she's produced three children, and six internationally bestselling novels that have been turned into four major motion pictures. Hello! What's wrong with this picture? Can JKR possibly have accomplished anything more important in this world than watching her weight? Can any woman? And what does that say about the world that asks such a question?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Warning: Template Tinkering in Progress

Tell me what you think.

Guardian UK's Special Report on Modernism

Britain's Guardian UK has an excellent series up on Modern Art that really helps explain where a movement so bizarre came from. Modernism is a philosophy so counter-intuitive that it's proponents have equated decoration with crime. Hardly. A quarter million years ago our ancestors moved out of the trees and into caves, and do you know what the first thing they said was? "Honey, we've got to do something about these bare walls. We could paint a herd a buffalo here and some deer there, and carve a vagina over the entrance to the back cave. What do you think?" The impulse to decorate is what makes us human, not what makes us criminal. Only a hardcore monotheistic Fundamentalist would equate humanity with sin. Any cultural movement that tries to fight a quarter million years of human evolution, history, and conditioning is doomed.

The Value of a Classical Education: What I Learned From The Trojan Horse

My 6 year-old daughter and I recently finished studying a Dorling-Kindersley children's version of The Iliad called The Trojan Horse. What did we learn from this book? We learned that if you're going to start a war in the Middle East, even if you think the other party deserves it, you better plan it out carefully. If you attack with superior fighters but don't think beforehand and you don't listen to your wisest advisors until after those superior fighters have committed war atrocities, then you're going to end up mired down in a bloody, costly war that will take at least ten years to win. Hmm.... Who could have benefited from knowing this? Maybe we should send a copy of The Trojan Horse to President Bush and every member of his Administration. It's written at a fourth grade level and has pretty pictures on ever page. Maybe it wouldn't be beyond their reading comprehension level. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Epistle to the Fundamentalists

AOB tries to tell some basic, fundamental truths to those who preach Christianity without practicing it. Good luck, kid.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spring Break

It's finally warm and dry enough to declare Spring Break. We'll be off lessons for the next week or two, until it gets too hot or too rainy for the girls to want to play outside. At least Brighteyes will be off lessons, Sunshine says she wants to continue hers. Her lessons only last around 20 minutes, and include games.

Spring and Fall Breaks are when we switch over the wardrobes. This Spring I finally confirmed something I've suspected for a while, Brighteyes is not going to fit in ready-to-wear gracefully any longer. Her widths are Sizes 4 and 6, her lengths are Sizes 7, 8, and 11??(eek!) Sunshine may well stretch out the same way in a few years. I'm going to have to do some serious pattern alteration, and then sew like mad so they'll have clothes that fit. It looks like we're going to have to institute a new size in this house: B7, what Brighteyes was wearing when she turned 7.

Ah, well. It could be worse. In a few years she'll have breasts to alter for in addition to everything else.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

This is Not Feminism

I hope the article linked above is an April Fool's Day joke.

Feminism is the belief that women are equal to men in the social, political and economic spheres. It means women get to choose what they want to do in those spheres. Feminism = choice.

Most people understand this, but every once in a great while I run into someone who thinks that "feminism" simply means "women working what the Victorians had considered men's jobs." They would force women into stereotypical "breadwinner" roles just as surely as male chauvinists would force women into stereotypical "housewife" roles. Neither set of bigots can wrap their brain around the concept of "feminism = choice."

It appears that Holland also has at least one of those bigots who call themselves "feminists" but who would deny other women real choice in their lives. What an idiot.