the minor premise

the minor premise

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Meme Miscellany

Recently, the Ironic Catholic posted a "meme" that seemed interesting. I don't usually go in for these things, but as I am short on both time and material, I figure I can give it a try:

1. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
The blog is as much a writing exercise as anything else. It also serves as a means of expression that otherwise would be left to letters to the editor or asides to friends.

2. Are you a spiritual person?
A little, but not nearly enough.

3. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you?
food, water, and a radio

4. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Driving to Missouri on family vacations. In the days before mandatory seatbelt laws, my brother and I would take over the tailgate of the stationwagon with pillows, toys, etc. All the while, my parents would have the front seat to do grownup things, like drive and navigate. Add to that the anticipation of the vacation to begin. Very unsafe for us in the back in retrospect, but very fun for a kid.

5. Are these your first (tagging) memes?

6. Eight random facts about me
- Missed playing for Coach Boone of "Remember the Titans" fame by one year
- Am a self-taught guitar player
- Wear glasses
- Learned to fence at age 40
- Picked up second major in college so as not to be shown up by C
- Have horrible handwriting
- Am a lifelong Washington Redskins fan
- Have very little cartilage left in one ankle

I will tag C and Rambling Speech , should she wander by. Have fun!


Monday, May 28, 2007

The Zucchini Have Landed

Picked my first one this morning. Hopefully the deluge will be less this year as I think I bought a variety with smaller gourds.

Will attempt to actually post something later this week.

UPDATE 6/2: Oh, never mind. The darn things are just as big as last year's. Fortunately, the Mock Crab Cakes recipe from went over well with the gang. Tomorrow, zucchini bread.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Abandoning our Post?

I have forgotton who said that etiquette was really about consideration for others. The "rules" exist so that we, as a society, can stand to live together. In fact, we consider a person who obeys the norms of behavior to be civil. It follows then, that while an intentional breach of etiquette may be intended as a slight, the real effect is to show the uncivility of the breacher.

Former President Carter has long ignored the unwritten point of etiquette that helps to maintain the respect of the office of the President. Most recently he has claimed that the current Bush administration is the worst in the history of the republic. Leaving aside his own glass-house administration for the moment, the open attack did not hurt so much Carter's intended target, but instead served to make the United States look like a third world country. Instead of lending his celebrity to add weight to his views, he has diminished his stature, and that of his country. The constitution affords Mr. Carter the right to say anything he wants, but the unwritten laws of etiquette and good sense dictate that he keep his own trap shut, for his own good and for the good of the country. I am sure there are those among the 300 million Americans who could pick up his slack.

A while back, the civilized world recoiled in horror when a bootleg tape of Saddam Hussein's execution was released. The execution was punctuated by cat calls and celebration. Not that the guy didn't deserve it, but it reflected poorly on those doing the cat calls etc. At the end of the day, Saddam ended up just as dead as he would have given a proper execution. The parties most hurt by that day's antics were the government of Iraq and the partisans doing the shouting.

In the same vein, the breach of etiquette committed by those maligning the Rev.Jerry Falwell did their own reputations more disservice than damage to Mr. Falwell. What his detractors did was nothing short of dancing on his grave, which is always disgusting.

Death is a solemn occasion, even if it is the death of a horrible person. This rule is not so much for the sake of deceased as it is for the attendants. Reverence for human life, even a human life gone bad, keeps us from losing respect for life in general. We have all seen the damage resulting from the loss of respect for life, damage that can be measured in deaths from abortion and euthanasia.

What would Emily Post say?


BTW, I would be a fool to be pitied if I did not wish Laurence Tureaud
a happy birthday.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Displaced Intentions

Most of us understand the concept of "fight-or-flight" as it applies to animal behavior. Well, there is a third way, although it's not a really effective one. It's called displacement behavior. It's sort of a shutdown, really, although I suppose in some cases it could work in the favor of the displacer by thoroughly confusing the attacker. It's what happens when an animal, confronted with a fight-or-flight situation, chooses neither of those options. It instead does something completely pointless--say, sitting down and commencing to wash itself.

I bring this up because I think I'm beginning to see displacement behavior manifest among the most vocal of the Global Warming doomsayers. Perhaps the stress of impending disaster has taken its toll. Seriously, if you were convinced that we had only ten years to save ourselves, would you be going about trying to persuade people you were right using these methods?

Greenpeace (yes, that Greenpeace) has launched a project building a Noah's Ark replica on Mount Ararat in Turkey, according to CBS News. The purpose of the project is to "appeal to world leaders to take action against global warming." I'm a little shocked--I really always thought of the Greenpeace folks as a little smarter than this. Stark raving mad, trying to take on Soviet whalers in rubber rafts, true--but nonetheless, smarter than this.

On the brighter side, I think we've now found a tie for Stupidest Environmental Idea with Al Gore's Live Earth plans: "The earth is warming up, and we'll soon be past the Point of No Return...I know what we can do! Kids...let's put on a SHOW!!!"

(Hat tip:Dr. Jim West)
A funny quote from Paul Greenberg about a participant in a protest against his newspaper's editorial board. A good reminder to us all that when you aren't sure what it means look it up, ask somebody more knowledgeable, or for Pete's sake don't use it!

But the strangest part of the protest was provided by the courageous soul who said she'd talk only Off the Record. That's right: She was taking part in a news conference to speak off the record. There's something charming, or at least mystifying, about that concept. It's one of those prize non sequiturs you want to save for your collection. It sounds like something Yogi Berra or Casey Stengel might have said in public when they chose not to say anything in public.
Yard eco: A feeder first in the backyard last week--a very handsome pair of Goldfinches in full breeding regalia! The cardinal fledges, including our kid from the backyard, are now in flight plumage visiting the feeders with their parents and getting around the trees ably. Anoles all over the place--a moderate-sized male was flashing his dewlap on top of the mailbox post a couple of days ago.

Garden: Tomatoes over a foot tall. Been getting radishes for the last few weeks. The bunny really likes the tops. No luck with onions, but it looks like we may get some beets before summer if it doesn't get too hot too fast. Something ate holes in the pepper leaves. 1 pumpkin vine (from last fall's pie pumpkin) and 1 zucchini vine getting quite large. Need to find a lettuce that will do well here. Trying 2 cuke varieties with limited success thus far. Two of my three vines are in a pot so perhaps we can avoid the bitterness problem we had last year.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Parenthood Planned, Girlhood Lost: Continued

This Cincinnati Enquirer article
gives an account of two child abuse cases in which Planned Parenthood may have been --to put it mildly-- negligent. I believe the first case described is mentioned in brief in the post linked at the bottom of D's previous post on this subject, just below. It's the nightmarish story of a young girl subjected to life as a virtual sex slave to her own father for five years, during which time she was impregnated, taken by that same father to a PP clinic, and aborted. While there, she reported the abuse to a counselor who did nothing. She was sent home with birth control pills to endure a year and a half more of horror until she got up the nerve to speak to a school official, who reported and thus ended the abuse.

Excerpted below is a brief description of the second:
Hurley also represents "Jane Roe," a victim of sexual abuse by her soccer coach at age 14. She was taken by the abuser to Planned Parenthood in the fall of 2004 for an abortion. Although she used a junior-high school I.D. and the coach, 21, paid with a credit card and driver's license, Planned Parenthood failed to report the abuse...

In the Roe case, a Planned Parenthood "Documentation Form for Suspected Sexual or Child Abuse Report" says:

"Patient reports pregnancy is a result of sexual assault by a stranger."

"After consultation with (Planned Parenthood) attorney, report of a crime to the police was not made; due to physician-patient privilege, we are prohibited from reporting as no severe bodily injury was reported."

Hurley said prosecutors in four local counties know of no such exception to reporting requirements. Hutzel agreed. If evidence of severe injury were required, "there would be no reports in the vast majority of situations," Hurley said.

Hutzel said she is "keeping the door open" for possible criminal prosecution depending on what is revealed in the civil case.

[Hurley and Hutzel are two lawyers representing the victims in these cases.]

Lest anyone who happens upon this site still be under the delusion that this sort of cavalier attitude to the reporting of child sexual abuse--let alone outright rape-- needs to be tolerated in the interest of female "choice," I feel the need to add a bit of personal context.

I have in the last two decades volunteered on a regular basis in several different capacities mentoring children and youth. I have worked with hundreds of children and youth, and as a result I've probably had more child protection training (required for most of these jobs) than your average bear.

All the training I've had is in agreement on one thing. If on any occasion some young lady under my care were to relate an abuse situation of any kind, be the perpetrator her father, coach, neighbor, or eighteen-year-old boyfriend, I would be legally obligated to report the allegation to the authorities, CONFIDENTIALITY BE HANGED. I would be remiss in my duties and potentially legally liable if I didn't. It doesn't matter that I'm not absolutely certain abuse took place either. I am legally required to report the suspicion to the authorities, and let them sort out what is true and what isn't. And I'm not even a health care professional, which would put me at a higher level still of responsibility.

If Planned Parenthood clinics have been habitually ignoring reports of abuse, or really suspicious situations like the Roe case mentioned above in which a crime is reported and it is clear that something fishy --possibly abuse--is going on, then by all means, let's call out the lawyers. How many teenage sex abuse victims have these fanatics sent back into abusive situations? And why? Because it's bad for business? So they wouldn't have to deal with the legal scrutiny? What fresh Hell are they trying to conceal?

[Hat tip for the Enquirer article:The Susan B. Anthony List]


Monday, May 14, 2007

Parenthood Planned, Girlhood Lost

I read this piece from Rhymes with Right and just shook my head.

"The accusation has been around for years – Planned Parenthood abortion facilities fail to report cases of child abuse as required by state law. Now there is proof."

Planned Parenthood is under fire after one of its employees was recorded encouraging a student - who was posing as a pregnant minor - to lie about her age in order to obtain an abortion without the abortion provider having to report the "statutory rape" to the police.

Lila Rose, an 18-year-old sophomore at the University of California Los Angeles, visited a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city, posing as a 15-year-old impregnated by her 23-year-old boyfriend. . . . .

In covertly-filmed video of the meeting between Rose and an unnamed Planned Parenthood employee, the staffer is heard to tell Rose: "If you're 15, we have to report it ... If you're not, if you're older than that, then we don't need to."

"Okay, but if I just say I'm not 15, then it's different?" Rose asks.

"You could say 16," the worker replies, later adding, "Just figure out a birth date that works. And I don't know anything."

C pointed out that Lila Rose had gone undercover before to expose pro-abortion bias at UCLA's health services.

Information on the Planned Parenthood incident originally reported by the Cybercast News Service.

UPDATE: Planned Parenthood apparently plans to sue for being outed, according to the Recliner Commentaries. For some PP statutory history, please read an earlier bit by Recliner Commentaries.


Saturday, May 12, 2007


I suppose a post on the theme of maternity is de rigeur for today, so I've dug up (not difficult, as the press has been saturating us with Mom-stories for the past week at least) a few articles that may be of interest.

A new book ironically titled The Feminine Mistake has been getting some reviews recently. I haven't read it yet, but based on the reviews it seems its premise is that women take substantial risk in giving up paid employment in order to be full-time mothers. Below is an excerpt from a review:

"Something is very wrong with the way American women are trying to live their lives," the late Betty Friedan wrote in "The Feminine Mystique," her groundbreaking 1963 book attacking the idea that a husband and children were all a woman needs for fulfillment.

That book helped launch the modern women's movement. But more than four decades later, writer Leslie Bennetts is trying to sound a very similar message. In "The Feminine Mistake" -- the title's no accident -- she argues that many young mothers have forgotten Friedan's message, embracing a 21st-century version of the 1950s stay-at-home ideal that could imperil their economic future as well as their happiness.

Needless to say, the book isn't going down smoothly with everyone -- especially mothers who've chosen to stay home with their children.
Bennetts says she never intended to issue the latest salvo in the "Mommy Wars"... she's surprised by the reaction.
Bennetts says she merely wanted to present factual evidence that a woman takes great risks when she gives up economic self-sufficiency -- risks she may not be thinking of during those early years of blissful, exhausting parenting. Divorce. A husband losing his job. A husband dying. All of those, Bennetts warns, could be catastrophic for a woman and her children. And if the woman decides she'll get back to her career later, once the kids are ready? Stop dreaming, Bennetts says -- a woman takes a huge salary hit after a relatively short time of being absent from the work force -- that is, if she can get back in at all.

Reactions from some of those stay-at-home moms--including blogger Jen Singer of MommaSaid (who acknowledges the economic risk, but feels Bennetts neglects the value of child-rearing,) --follow. Likewise does a statement of support from an employed mother who was glad for the second income when her husband was injured on the job, but also feels outside employment conveys benefits beyond financial security:

[Anita] Jevne always enjoyed having a world outside the home to be part of. "You're part of a community," she says. "You're giving something." That's the second message Bennetts says she's trying to impart -- that there's a crucial sense of self-worth to be gained outside the home.

Bennetts also points out that affluence affects who can and who can't "afford" to stay at home, suggesting that it is a sign of wealth. Blogger Singer, above, objects that her characterization of at-home moms is limited to and by this view, though Bennetts argues otherwise:
"The benefits of work were really clear at all levels," she says.

Bennetts seems unsure of why she has generated such a stir:
"Women are so defensive about their choices that many seem to have closed their minds entirely."

As employed women don't seem to be the ones arguing with her, one has to conclude that the closed-minded, defensive types come from among the stay-at-homes --thank you very much, Ms. Bennetts. I think she overrates that "sense of self-worth" that is found only in the workplace, moreover, while forgetting that self-worth is a thing that comes from within, when one knows one has done good work, never mind where.

I am actually of two minds about this controversy, though my status as a 20-year veteran of the hearthside might lead some to wonder why. The answer is that I am --ought to be-- well aware of the risk involved. It is true that women who give up paid employment run a certain risk of being suddenly left in precarious circumstances; I've seen it happen for all the reasons cited above. It is also true that it makes little economic sense for a woman who has five or six figures invested in a college or graduate school education to refrain from recouping that investment. Were simple economics the only factor at play, Bennetts would get little argument from me.

The problem is, if there are going to be kids--and last time I checked that was at least a reasonable likelihood for most couples in the 16-40 age range--somebody's gotta raise them. They won't raise themselves. While that job does not always fall to the distaff side of the household, it generally does. That lactation thing could be a factor, and there's little chance anyone will hear me arguing against that.

So, assume that you have a couple, and some kids. They have a choice: farm out the child care and go on about their business, or make some arrangements for at least one parent to be in charge of that detail at all times. Is this going to be an economic loss? Yes and no. As the authors of a book I read years ago (I think the title was What's a Smart Woman Like You Doing at Home?) maintained, there are inherent costs in working that reduce, and in the case of a small salary, may render negligible, the income from a second job. There is day care, first and foremost (and if you think the ability to stay home is closely tied to household income, please note the disparity in day-care arrangements available to the affluent, and those available to the hourly wage earner.) There are transportation, food, and in most jobs, work apparel costs. There are some tax disadvantages as well. So while it is probable that dual employment holds some economic advantages for the family besides that of buffer in the event of unexpected setback, these advantages may actually --in strict economic terms-- end up being less than you'd expect.

Now, factor in the non-financial variables to the problem. There are the earnest desire of the parents to do a good job raising children, the desire for family closeness that can be disrupted when parents and children don't see each other at all for more than half their waking hours, and the desire of parents to bring up their children according to their own lights. (A few months ago I happened across a blogger who complained bitterly that her day-care provider had banned "gun" play. While I don't see brandishing a stick and yelling "bang! bang!" as harmful or unsual in a little boy, either, I did find myself put off by her apparent failure to realize that the day-care provider had a perfect right, where health and safety of her charges were not affected, to make the rules in her own home. I also wondered why, if she found the situation so intolerable, she didn't just vote with her feet.)

There is a certain convenience inherent in having one parent at home as well--somebody is always available for medical appointments,school meetings, afterschool activities, and minor emergencies. If the employed spouse's job requires long or irregular hours (as has been the case in my house for years) the value of a full-time at-home parent (who may also in that case assume additional household jobs that might have fallen to the employed spouse under less demanding work conditions)increases exponentially.

While there may be risks for the woman who eschews paid employment for the nursery, these risks can be mitigated. I can't guarantee my hubby won't accidentally wander into the path of a truck tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't skip town with the cutie in the next cubicle tomorrow. Raising the children we've brought into the world is a team commitment; reneging on that responsibility--or cutting off the nonearner unprepared-- would be supremely dishonorable.

I don't accept the claim that only affluent women can afford to stay home, either. While compared to, say, most of the third world, the most modest American households are affluent, many at-home mothers I have known have not been, by American standards. Many Americans have become so accustomed to having a high standard of living that they have lost all concept of the difference between "needs" and "wants." We are not affluent by a stretch, and we accepted a long time ago that some things and activities were superfluous if we were going to be able to keep me at home. Being at home doesn't invariably equal not generating income, furthermore. Providing child care is only one of a number of ways moms I've known have subsidized their "time off" and stayed in touch with the adult world. Others have taught music, done taxes, sold product, and written freelance magazine articles. Finally, while results may vary with the individual, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has always struck me as a particularly good reminder that taking a few years off to raise one's babies need not be a career-scuttler.

So, does Friedan's clarion call still ring true? I think it's a teensy bit overstated. Women have employment choices today, limited by their skills and personal ambitions. I doubt many women in our society accept homemaking as their lot in life with no recognition of the other possibilities out there. As for Bennett's concern that at-home mothers might not be considering the down side of their choice, I think that she underestimates their decision process. While career choices shouldn't be made blindly or with blatant disregard for economic realities, economics alone shouldn't govern life choices. We'd have an excess of miserable and incompetent doctors, lawyers, and financiers if they did. Mothers, and sometimes fathers, can make a reasoned decision to set aside the paycheck in deference to nobler pursuits. It's foolish to dismiss that option out of hand while the young of our species continue to need the intensive long-term care essential to functioning in our complex society.

The Mom Salary Calculator works out the annual salary, adjusted for location, that a full-time at-home mother would earn if paid the going rate for the various jobs she does. The 10-job list actually missed a few I could have claimed this week alone, having worn by turns my 7 Santini Brothers Movers hat (when I hauled Hon. Daughter #1's stuff back from college), My Standardized Test Administrator Hat, and my Greyhound Busman's hat (when I subsequently hauled Hon. Daughter home).

It's been said of the gangsters of various ethnicities that the common denominator among them was that they all loved their Mommas. This AP story would seem to bear that out.

The strange, sad tale of the woman who launched Mothers' Day, from May's Smithsonian magazine.

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Teach Your Children Well

Looks lile I spoke too soon regarding Mickey Hamas and his children's show. According to Agence France Presse, the slandering and inciting show ran again on Friday, 11 May. On the 10th, the television station's chairman of the board decried the attacks against the show, calling it an Israeli and Western plan "to attack Islam and the Palestinian cause," according to the AFP article.
Apparently, the chairman would rob his community's children, who I'm sure have suffered mightily, of more of their childhood for the sake of his causes. Whom else would he manipulate?


Friday, May 11, 2007

The Mouse that Abhorred

At first I thought it was a story from the satirical web site The Onion -- a Palestinian children's show where a young child called in and talked about killing and "commit[ting] martyrdom." The show's main character was a multilingual tuxedo-clad mouse who was taken to task for his lack of ethnic chauvinism. Disney gone mad? Has Mickey Mouse become Mickey Hamas? And what will become of Pluto and Goofy?

I will leave my Mickey Mouse theme parody out for now.

"Mick' Hamas (Phil Fatah!), Mick' Hamas (Phil Fatah!)"

I understand that the show has been pulled - could it be that Hamas hate is no match for Disney's lawyers? If only it was that simple . . . .


Tuesday, May 08, 2007


The cheeked tongue department presents the following editorial:

I was amused at a recent report that a columnist for the LA Times, Tina Daunt had postulated that a presidential run by Fred Thompson might be hurt because he portrayed a racist in his previous acting career. "So can "Law & Order" actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) become the first presidential candidate with this credit? Thompson played a white supremacist, spewing anti-Semitic comments and fondling an autographed copy of "Mein Kampf" on a television drama 19 years ago."

If that is so, I wondered who else could be made politically irrelevent from past television or film roles. As Ms. Daunt remarked, Arnold Schwartzenegger's political career was not hurt by playing a robot bent on murder and the ultimate destruction of humanity. Perhaps, it was because he switched sides in the sequel. But who else could be hurt by prior evil roles?

While currently having no political aspirations that I know of, James Earl Jones seems to be first on the disqualification list. Being the voice of the evil Darth Vader for not one but three movies (plus about two lines at the end of Star Wars III), Jones has to live down destroying planets, dismembering his progeny and being a cruel, heartless villan. In fact, when his character finally does redeem himself, at the end of Star Wars VI, it is in the voice of another actor entirely. And, early in his acting career, Jones was the bombadier in an aircraft that nuked Russia, in Dr. Strangelove. With that kind of baggage, no politics for you, Mr. Jones!

And how about Martin Sheen? He's never been shy regarding politics. In fact, he played the President in the recent television series "The West Wing." Should he have even been let near the White House set, after playing Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg? Remember, the Confederates were on the side that was for preserving slavery. How much more racist could you be than that? Shouldn't his playing of Watergate figure John Dean, gangster Pretty Boy Floyd and deserter Private Eddie Slovak have disqualified him from both the fictional White House and any real political participation?

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Blown Chances

I thought that, as a bit of exercise, I would do the Chesapeake Bay Bridge walk. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge links the easternmost quarter of Maryland (the eastern shore) with its western part near the state capital, Annapolis. It used to be that once a year, in May, one span of would be closed to all but pedestrian traffic. Large numbers of folks would come out for the hike which went from the eastern to the western bank. Apparently, after 9/11, the walk was discontinued for a couple of years, but it was scheduled to occur today. However, mother nature had other plans: the walk was cancelled due to high winds.

Since I still wanted to get out and breathe the fresh air, I decided I would go to Sandy Point State Park, which is at the foot of the Bay Bridge. The high winds made for a cool, picturesque walk.
I discovered that walking in sand is awfully slow and kills my back. However, I did walk along the beach in several places, and even scrambled part of the way down a rock jetty where fishermen were enjoying the Sunday. A down side was the $6 fee the State of Maryland charges non-residents for using the park on the weekend (residents are charged $5), and the fact that the concession was not open, so I could not replace the batteries in my camera (I put my spares in a bag i convieniently left back in my room.). All in all, though, it was a good outing.

Yesterday, I went to northern Virginia. My mother is buried in the area, and whenever I travel to the vicinity I like to visit. It rained during the time I was there, but I was prepared with a poncho. From the cemetary I traveled to Falls Church, where I attended vigil mass at St. Anthony of Padua. I attended middle school at St. Anthony's (when it was called St. Anthony's; the school has since been renamed), so the grounds and the church held memories for me. It can be fairly said that I recieved my first prolonged exposure to Roman Catholicism in that church and school. And while it took about 22 years after my last religion class there to convert, I eventually did. My eighth-grade religion teacher, who asked when I would convert, would be proud.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Homemaking: Province of the Renegade

Following is another thought from St. Gil the Jocular, on the advantages of being a homemaker. While I don't mean to be Pollyannish about the job or the disadvantages many women still face, these remarks do speak to something in my constitution that really enjoys--labor intensiveness and lack of wages notwithstanding--the creative freedom and self-management inherent in huswifery.

The paragraph is taken from an article titled Woman, which was first published in 1906. It is not surprising, given the time, that the distinction is made between the average female of the species as manager of the home and the average male as a cog in some business or industrial machine. While the expansion of employment options today enables the reverse situation to be a reality as well, home management is still largely a female province. And it is still a job--though a hard one--that we can do as we like.

...the average woman is at the head of something with which she can do as she likes; the average man has to obey orders and do nothing else...The woman's trade is a small one, perhaps, but she can alter it. The woman can tell the tradesman with whom she deals some realistic things about himself. The clerk who does this to the manager gernerally gets the sack...the woman does work which is in some small degree creative and individual. She can put the flowers or the furniture in fancy arrangements of her own. I fear the bricklayer cannot put the bricks in fancy arrangements of his own, without disaster to himself and others. If the woman is only putting a patch into a carpet, she can choose the thing with regard to colour. I fear it would not do for the office boy dispatching a parcel to choose his stamps with a view to colour; to prefer the tender mauve of a sixpenny to the crude scarlet of the penny stamp. A woman cooking may not always cook artistically; still she can cook artistically. She can introduce a personal and imperceptible alteration into the composition of a soup. The clerk is not encouraged to introduce a personal and imperceptible alteration into the figures in a ledger.

G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, 24 March,1906. Collected in All Things Considered, 1908. Reprinted in A G. K. Chesterton Anthology, P.J. Kavanaugh, ed. The Bodely Head and Ignatius Press, 1985.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Recently Read, & Some Yard Eco

An interesting, (and I think rather timely) perspective on militarism from Chesterton:

Now, Mr. Kipling is certainly wrong in his worship of militarism, but his opponents are, generally speaking, quite as wrong as he. The evil of militarism is not that it shows certain men to be fierce and haughty and excessively warlike. The evil of militarism is that it shows most men to be tame and timid and excessively peaceable. The professional soldier gains more and more power as the general courage of a community declines. Thus the Pretorian guard became more and more important in Rome as Rome became more and more luxurious and feeble. The military man gains the civil power in proportion as the civilian loses the military virtues. And as it was in ancient Rome so it is in contemporary Europe. There never was a time when nations were more militarist. There never was a time when men were less brave. All ages and all epics have sung of arms and the man; but we have effected simultaneously the deterioration of the man and the fantastic perfection of the arms. Militarism demonstrated the decadence of Rome, and it demonstrates the decadence of Prussia.

G. K. Chesterton on Rudyard Kipling from Heretics, 1905.
Page By Page Books (Also available at several other sites.)

A thoughtful opinion piece by Fred Thompson on Cuban health care and Michael Moore's latest "documentary."

Yard Eco: A very handsome male
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
dropped into our backyard feeder yesterday and was back today (he really seems to enjoy the spread chez minor premise! Must be the sunflower seeds.) Rose-Breasteds are northern birds and we don't see much of them around here; this was the first one I've seen since I started birdwatching. Our grosbeak is likely en route to points north; the species migrates to the tropics over the winter. I called up a local wildlife expert of my acquaintance yesterday about the sighting. She assured me that, notwithstanding the heat and the fact that the local wild birds settled into nesting some time ago, those birds from boreal climes are still on holiday and he might stick around a few days before heading north. I'm enjoying watching the feeder--he really is a thing of beauty!

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