Not A Family Affair

Amidst all the gushing and glowing reports from the various gay pride parades around the country yesterday (which was also national HIV testing day, proclaimed without a hint of irony), there was a consensus that the parades were family affairs. Hey, what’s not to like about bringing the kids out to a great happy parade?

Except that scenes like these have never been nor ever will be suitable for a family affair. This link is to the ChicagoNow blog. The first several pictures are innocuous enough, but be warned, it doesn’t stay that way.

Perhaps because I’m not a hypersexual maniac I find it difficult to understand the need to wear little or nothing and parade myself along in front of everybody while making lewd gestures. And I’ll never bring my children to such a non-family affair.

Around The World

Dennis Prager says we need another book. My response: Write it, Dennis.

Today, we need another book that uses the words of Rabbi Kushner’s classic work (When Bad Things Happen To Good People), but addresses an entirely different issue: When Good People Do Bad ThingsMost evil is not committed as a result of unbridled lust or greed. And the sadistic monster who revels in inflicting excruciating pain on other people is relatively rare.

Good intentions cause most of the world’s great evils.

Hitler and other infamous villains in human history did not wake up each morning rubbing their hands and cackling while imagining all the evil things they’d get to do. Except for this guy…

But, beyond the really big bad things that end up in history books and change the course of human history, most of the actual harm and pain and hurt and evil come from people you and I would pass on the street and not see any particular reason to think ill of. And the people we see in the mirror each day.

So Dennis, write your book. I’m want to read it.

The Onion points to a paradox that should make evolutionist’s heads disappear in a puff of logic: “Eons Of Darwinian Evolution Somehow Produce Mitch“.

Indeed, scientists said Mitch is perplexing on multiple fronts. For instance, in studying his weird, asymmetrical gait, researchers have been unable to discern any particular locomotive advantage he has over the more effective and less stigmatizing forms of self-propulsion exhibited by other bipeds. Researchers have also failed to determine how the development of the nuanced communication system of language, itself a product of humanity’s unique capacity for abstract thought, ultimately led to Mitch’s strong preference for the term “exsqueeze me” over “excuse me.”

I suppose the best answer to this is that people like Mitch are less prone to mate, according to Darwinian evolutionists. And thus evolution has worked because there won’t be a Mitch Jr.

My response: I’m married and mating. *Snurck*

If you don’t think the media is biased your shrink is calling, he wants his straightjacket back.

One of the many ways that the Associated Press lends its support to Democrats and leftists in its political reporting is often evident in its stories on political scandals. The most common assist the AP gives to Democrats is to somehow forget to mention that a politician in the news because of criminal activity or other scandals is a Democrat. Yet when any pol in the news for scandal is a Republican his party affiliation often leads the story, if it isn’t in the headline, even. Oh, it’s all accidental I’m sure, but it happens so often as to give the suspicion of a concerted effort.

Stop the ACLU has the dirty details on one more writer with an agenda. Completely unlike me.

The liberal mind cares more about intentions than results which makes them singularly ill-suited to leadership. For instance, among the power grabs going on constantly, recent banking regulations which are supposed to protect people who over-draw they accounts from high fees have had the effect of causing banks to do away with free checking accounts.

I’ve over-drawn my accounts. And that fee hurts. But it’s a good hurt because it makes more careful. And this brings us back to my favorite analogy of the butterflies. The liberal mind is opening all the chrysalids because of the painful struggle the butterfly is going through to extricate itself. But the freed butterfly, not having had to go through the exertions necessary to pump the fluid from it’s engorged body into it’s wings, falls to the ground, easy prey for the birds and insects.

Yes, you’ve freed people from one more way the market holds them responsible, and now you’ll create people even less capable of fending for themselves. It’s a vicious cycle, and yes, liberal ideology is completely to blame.

To finish things off tonight, the Pugnacious Irishman has allowed his butterflies to struggle, even if it meant a crisis in their faith.

The higher the stakes, the deeper the lesson, the more important it is to let those who can, fight for themselves.

High kudos to the Pugnacious Irishman for not stepping in when some Christian students at a regular meeting were confronted and challenged by brash atheists. Even when the students asked him to step in as they were being soundly smacked about the shoulders by the verbal volleys of a “Hitchen’s devotee”, Pugnacious refrained.

It is very important that people be impressed with the gravity of the situation, the inequity of the odds, the ability and strategy of the enemy. When you know the airplane is going to disintegrate in mid-air, you’ll keep that unwieldy and uncomfortable parachute strapped tightly to you no matter the jeering of the other passengers. When you see how deep and dark the chasm is on either side of this fine line we tread through life, you hold all the tighter to the truth that has set us free.

Letting the youngling free to fight their own battles is not an exercise in cruelty or dispassion. It is hard to watch when you are capable of stepping in and averting crisis. But steel must be forged in trying fires to gain strength, and gold my be melted over and again to be refined, and a good strong crisis of the faith will teach a growing Christian more than 70 sunday’s sermons.

As Pugnacious put it:

I’m not the type to leave them like that, though.  All I wanted was for them to get a swift kick in the pants so they’d be motivated to take the intellectual life of the Christian disciple more seriously.  Heavens ta mergatroy, its front and center in the *first* commandment! You’d think that would be enough.

The More I Know…

No Fear…the more I know I don’t know.

And it seems the same goes for many others.

The beautiful thing about this paradoxical realization is that I can right now assume I know very little, and save myself the trouble of having to unlearn things I have learned or will learn which are incorrect in actual fact.

And the even more beautiful thing about this is that I can choose to live, not in fear of what this food or that action or this chemical will do to me, and by applying a modicum of sensibility in place of the deluge of information we tend to rely on for facts, live just as safely and so much more happily than many other out there who are enslaved by the fear-mongering crowds of researchers, scientists, do-gooders, busy-bodies, and assorted other self-superior people.

I know this: fear prevents no more than caution, fear protects no better than sense, fear lives shorter and fear dies still fearful.

Fear is not for me.

The Blueberry Story: A Failure Of Analogy

I came across the Blueberry Story recently. It didn’t pass the sniff test, but I couldn’t immediately explain why.

Jamie Vollmer was the CEO of an ice cream company that made, at one time, what some considered the best ice cream in America. He was also a sharp critic of the public school system, and shared his criticisms before an assembly of teachers and educators.

I was convinced of two things.  First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the industrial age and out of step with the needs of our emerging “knowledge society”.  Second, educators were a major part of the problem: they resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly.  They needed to look to business.  We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! TQM! Continuous improvement!

At the end of this particular talk he took questions from the audience.

As soon as I finished, a woman’s hand shot up.  She appeared polite, pleasant – she was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran, high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.

She began quietly, “We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes good ice cream.”

I smugly replied, “Best ice cream in America, Ma’am.”

“How nice,” she said. “Is it rich and smooth?”

“Sixteen percent butterfat,” I crowed.

“Premium ingredients?” she inquired.

“Super-premium! Nothing but triple A.”  I was on a roll.  I never saw the next line coming.

“Mr. Vollmer,” she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, “when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?”

In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap….  I was dead meat, but I wasn’t going to lie.

“I send them back.”

“That’s right!” she barked, “and we can never send back our blueberries.  We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant.  We take them with ADHD, junior rheumatoid arthritis, and English as their second language. We take them all!  Every one! And that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it’s not a business.  It’s school!”

He was unable to reply to such ideas. And it took me a day to realize what was wrong with this teachers argument.

First, there is truth in both what Mr. Vollmer said and in what this teacher said. Neither of them are completely correct, and neither of them are completely wrong.

The big hole in this educators argument is that children are not the only resource in a school.

When you’re building a product commercially you gather all sorts of raw materials and assemble them and process them to create a finished product. Businesses are primarily rewarded by doing this more efficiently and with more quality than other companies. However, simple physical raw materials are never the entire picture.

You can take blueberries and cream and sugar and eggs and ice and salt and throw them together all day and it will not turn into ice cream. You must have a goal, a guiding principle, a primary idea which directs the process from beginning to end. This idea begins before any raw materials are assembled and achieves fruition and is born into reality in the end product.

In a school children are both a raw material and eventually the fruition and reality of this idea. A healthy, intelligent, wise, productive and strong member of society is the hoped-for result of any school. When children are the raw material (as small children first coming into the school) they indeed cannot be turned away. The school must take any and all. The teacher is right about this.

However, there are many other raw materials which may (and indeed should) be turned away at the loading dock for insufficient quality. Teachers are one of the raw materials of our education system. Those who can’t do, teach, is a sad but true tale of many who comprise the front lines of education in America. Low academic standards does not attract the best and the brightest to this profession. Many of the best teachers teach because they love to. Many others do it because they cannot find so secure a position with as healthy a payroll or extensive benefits in the private sector.

Education philosophies are another raw material that can and should be examined in light of reality and not in light of the establishment’s preconceived notions of the state of the world.

Specific subjects that do not pertain directly to healthy functioning in society also ought to be turned away at the door.

The lesson that schools should take from business, first and foremost, is that competition is good for everybody involved.

The only people who will be hurt by school vouchers, charter schools, more local control of education, and less federal nannying are teachers who aren’t up to snuff and entrenched and ensconced administrators who cannot really justify their silly existence.

The teacher was right, they can’t turn away children from school. Every child can and will benefit from learning truth. But learning and truth are not necessarily the same, and to fail to see the difference and to support a system that is so obviously and painfully failing yet another generation of children is to fail to see yet another blade laid to the neck of our great nation.