Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rifts, temporary and otherwise

In The ultimate sacrifice & some ruminations about the human spirit and nature's strength, Bookworm covers several subjects, among them a story about her father. Here's part of it:

Almost twenty years after these battles, my parents were living in the Bay Area. Through business, my father ended up becoming friends with a German man who had fought as one of Rommel’s personal guards in the same region. In other words, he was on the other side of the rope in that endless tug-of-war over a little town in North Africa. My mother said that it was the most peculiar thing to watch the two men gleefully reminisce about that town, talking about the liquor caches hidden under bridges, the places to get good food, the strategic benefits of one location versus the problems with another — as if they’d been on the same side.

I think the friendship was able to survive because this man, while a soldier in Hitler’s war machine, was not a Nazi — by which I mean that, while he wore the uniform, he hadn’t embraced the Nazi ideology. He was a conscript, and he fought. He was one who was relieved when the War ended and his side lost. If my father, who suffered terribly from the Nazis, and who lost all but his immediate family, could befriend him, I have to assume that there was something okay about this man’s thinking, regardless of the side for which he acted during the war.

It’s a nice story, both because it’s amusing, and because it’s a reminder that, in the wake of a war, relationships can be normalized, and that warriors from opposite sides of the field can find common cause and visit the same memories without rancor. Humans are remarkably resilient, something that is worth remembering in the face of all the doom and gloom predictions being thrown around.

This makes me think of 1984. Not the book. The year.

In 1984 a friend of mine who was teaching in Japan invited me to come visit, and my newspaper editor gave me a leave of absence, and I swallowed my fear and set off, a young American woman traveling alone.

In addition to the common worries associated with being a relatively-inexperienced traveler taking off for faraway places solo, I had an extra psychological hurdle that I didn't know quite how to clear. My grandfather was a lead scientist on the team that developed the atomic bomb, and I was headed to the only country where those bombs had been used. I didn't know quite what I should think about that, and I didn't know what the Japanese would think about it, either. Beyond that, more generally, I was headed to a country that had been fiercely at war with my own, and not really that long before. I didn't know quite what to think about that, either.

Should I be ashamed, apologetic, politely defensive of my country, or spout the line that that was then and this is now, or should I opine that we were more enlightened these days? I simply didn't know.

Would they hate me? Could the hate turn violent? Or would it merely be manifested in cold shoulders or the request to take myself elsewhere? I simply didn't know.

I played over and over in my head all the conceivable scenarios that might arise should the subject of World War II come up, and tried to think of how I should meet them, if it turned out I had to meet them.

I probably envisioned every possibility except what actually happened.

The first encounter with World War II happened on a train shortly after I got there. An older man, obviously of an age to have fought in that war, kept looking at me. He asked me, after a while, if I were American. I braced myself and admitted as much. He broke into a delighted grin.

'Isn't this wonderful?' he asked. 'Can you believe this? Our countries were at war, and now we can be friends. Isn't this terrific? I'm so glad you could come to Japan.'

Not. at. all. what. I. expected. (/understatement)

On the same train trip, I'd look out the window to watch the world going by, and several old ladies, one after another after another, different stages of my journey, caught sight of me and bore daggers into me with their eyes. Hatred. Raw hatred. They didn't want me there and weren't afraid to let me know that.

Throughout my stay, I had similar experiences. By and large, the men who had fought my country were delighted to have an American come to visit, but a noticeable portion of the old ladies were obviously concealing resentment, or else letting it show.

Since then I've noticed that phenomenon several times, in several settings, and not just in Japan. A number of retired soldiers seem to wind up embracing at least some of the men they used to fight. A number of old women hang on to the past.

I can't remember who I talked to about this who thought he had a pretty good explanation. He was a veteran, I remember that much. I told him about Japan, and how the old men had surprised me with their warm welcomes, but so many of the old ladies had so clearly been grieved by my presence. I wish I could remember his exact words, but I don't. But what he said was something like, "Oh, child. We men got to fight. The women had to sit at home and get messages: their husband was dead, their son was dead, their next son was dead, their last son was dead. We men were out there fighting. It makes all the difference in the world."

I doubt that's the whole explanation, but I have to think he might have a point.

Shakespeare (or not)

We've discussed children and Shakespeare before.

But this is a new twist. :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Book notes: Constitutional Chaos and The Constitution in Exile, by Andrew P. Napolitano

Over the past few days, I've read two books by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst. Napolitano was a Superior Court judge in New Jersey, and taught constitutional law and jurisprudence at Seton Hall Law School.

As a judge, he got a front row seat to some dirty dealing by cops and prosecutors, and it helped to change his mind about how much faith a person can reasonably put in government. He builds on that theme, and more, in his 2004 book Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws. I have decidedly mixed feelings about some of his arguments and conclusions, but I'd still recommend that anyone interested in current events, history, theories of government, or justice give it a go. (Parents: the judge writes in a civilized fashion, but he does cover some uncivilized subjects and he's not shy about taking unpopular views on some controversial subjects. I'd suggest you preview the book before handing it to your children.)

A few, scant parts of The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land, 2006, are a rehash or update of the earlier book, but much of it amounts to a History of Constitutional Law course, complete with case studies. He also has some suggestions on where we might try to go from here. Again, I have mixed feelings about some of his arguments and some of his conclusions, but add me to the growing list of people who say that whether you agree with him or not, it would probably be a good idea to read the book. The same parental warning applies here as for the first book, but if you're willing to tackle the rough spots and opinions that might be contrary to your own, this one might make a good supplemental reading book for older kids studying government and history.

And if you think you know what the judge's positions on various topics are going to be because he works for supposedly-conservative Fox News, think again. If anything, I suspect more 'conservatives' than 'liberals' will be upset by both of these books. But, then again, if he's right, we ought to be. I might warn you, President Abraham Lincoln gets called on the carpet here, along with FDR and a few other people, including President George W. Bush. But, then again, if Napolitano's right, the being called on the carpet is called for. (On the other hand, if you're thinking you might want to vote for Mrs. Clinton, you might be distressed by his accounting in the first book of things that happened on her husband's watch.)

I'm not saying Napolitano's necessarily right. But in several instances, I'm not sure he's wrong, either. I'm planning to do a bit more study before I decide what to 'buy' from this author, but at least he moves the political arguments of our day over to discussions of what's constitutional and what isn't, and what's a natural right and what isn't, instead of the mostly partisan stand-offs and shout-downs that are rather more common, unfortunately.

That's not to say the man's genteel. He's a gutsy writer who calls 'em as he sees 'em, names attached. That's real names, not name-calling. He doesn't stoop to the cheap tricks currently popular with some political commentators, nor does he play to one side or the other of the political spectrum.

Gee, that was character building ;)

Sorry about being absent from the conversation so long, but our technical difficulties proved to be part malware in addition to hardware problems, and since I could never get a clear reading on the dangers (not my forte, this technical stuff), I figured the only decent thing to do was put my system into quarantine until it got freshly scrubbed and barricaded with better barricades and whatever else gets done to possibly contagious computer systems. Argh, even.

I kept busy enough, reading and cooking, working in the yard, taking long walks, and working on various other projects, both work and leisure. I initially tried to watch television to keep up on news, but I just couldn't do it. Or wouldn't, at any rate. There's too much garbage thrown in. And then there's that whole 'I'm used to not working my day around their schedule' thing. (No, we don't have fancy recording options around here. We found other uses for our money.)

On the upside, like usual when the computer goes down, it felt a bit like taking a vacation. The world away from 'news' isn't at all the same world, you know, not really, not for the most part.

On the downside, I have a backlog of work that could only be done on the computer, connected to the internet...

But I'm back. I think. (I hope.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Testing, testing...

I'm not saying the computer hard drive knew it was scheduled to be yanked and replaced and decided to commit suicide out of spite before its replacement could arrive, but...

I just wanted to note that the humans around here are fine, but I have been experiencing some technical difficulties...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Author note: Lloyd Alexander

The author Lloyd Alexander has died at the age of 83. (Via Semicolon, who lists her favorite books by Mr. Alexander as Taran Wanderer and The Kestrel.)

Historical books for kids

The Love2learn Blog, run by Catholic homeschoolers, has oodles of book reviews, including in a couple of my favorite genres: History and Historical Fiction (just to get you started). Oh boy, lots of interesting books I've never heard about, in addition to some old favorites... :)

And, yes, it's long on books for young folks. But I still read children's books now and then, for the pure fun of it. Don't you?

hat tip: The Book Den

Citizens as lab rats, glossocracy, and other not fun stuff (updated)

In A Communism for the 21st Century, Fjordman makes a pretty strong case for the origins, evils, and dangers of "Multiculturism". And he issues a call to fight back:

Ideas matter. Individuals matter. Cultures matter. Truth matters, and truth exists. We used to know that. It’s time we get to know it again, and reject false ideas about the irrelevance of culture. We are not racists for desiring to pass on our heritage to future generations, nor are we evil for resisting to be treated as lab rats in social experiments on a horrific scale. We must nip the ideology of transnational Multiculturalism and unlimited mass migration in the bud by exposing it for what it is: A Communism for the 21st century.

I'm inclined to quibble with a point or two in Fjordman's post, but I don't think I will just now, especially since I haven't taken the time yet to read the links he provides to flesh out his argument. On the whole, he presents an interesting analysis, I think. It's food for thought, at any rate.

hat tip: Bookworm

P.S. This must be my day for learning more about the history of Marxism and socialism, etc., and how today's socialists have turned early goals upside down (or abandoned the goals completely, while holding onto the ideology with a death grip). In today's mail I got this month's Imprimis, which features Socialism, Free Enterprise, and the Common Good by Rev. Robert A. Sirico, the president of Acton Institute.

Update: So this really is my day for crossing paths with essays on what is wrong with socialism in practice. Anthony Esolen takes a look at what happens when faith no longer keeps politics in its place, in Metastatic Politics, at Mere Comments, May 16, 2007. History buffs might want to know he includes a segment of Pope Leo XIII's Quod apostolici muneris, Dec. 28, 1878.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Understanding love: Elizabeth Fitzsimons edition

So, if you went to China to pick up your adopted daughter and she turned out to have many more medical problems than you'd been led to believe, what would you do?

What the Fitzsimons did.

Note: This article ran May 13 in the New York Times, which is infamous for yanking stories from public view after a few days. Don't expect it to be accessible for long.

hat tip: Wittingshire

Related previous post

Not all smoke is created equal (updated)

Some of our last customers this evening were a man and his wife, travelers headed out of town, who'd parked their RV at the fairgrounds and walked around town for a while today before the wife collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance. At the hospital, they said, there were 16 people in front of them at the emergency room, supplied with oxygen. They were told that a prescribed burn near here had gone through poison sumac (unlikely, since it's more of an eastern plant) and poison oak (but that also seems unlikely, this being more of a poison ivy sort of country, I thought... ah, this University of California write-up on poison oak tends to confirm that...although, according to this from the feds we certainly have some varieties or at least cousins around here). At any rate, there have been a number of people having very bad reactions to bad stuff floating around in the air.

The other day, one of our friends had to rush her elderly mother to the hospital, same problem, same diagnosis.

Can you properly call something like this an epidemic, if it's felling people left and right, but isn't caused by a disease? Perhaps not. But it feels like one, almost. So far, as far as I know there haven't been any fatalities, but a whole lot of misery and expense and worry, it sounds like.

My husband, who uses an oxygen concentrator and has been suffering more than usual the last several days, called a nurse at the hospital to confirm the story and to see if there was anything we could or should do. What we're doing, quite frankly, is counting our lucky stars that my husband and I don't have quite the sensitivity to these particular chemicals/substances as some other folks do. Past that, there apparently isn't much we can do, except wait for the smoke to go away. (And, I might add, hope we're not developing a sensitivity, which can happen with exposure. See linked articles above and below in this post.)

'How long has this been going on?,' I asked.

Five days, is what my husband understood the nurse to say. Five days of a rush on the ER by individuals with serious respiratory trouble. Egads.

'Has anyone told the people doing the burn?,' I asked. (Don't laugh. You'd be surprised how often people neglect to tell people in authority about a problem that's come to their attention. It's too easy, I guess, to assume that somebody else should know somehow, and therefore doesn't need to be told.)

I was assured that the Forest Service had been notified, and had, reportedly, canceled further burns in that area. I'm a bit unclear on whether it's trying to knock the current fire down or let it burn itself out. This being too late to call anybody tonight, I guess I'll hope for the best.

But I have a dumb question. Don't they have a list of vegetation that's known to produce toxic smoke when it burns? Who, in his right mind and with a bit of forestry knowledge under his belt, burns through toxic stands on purpose? Especially with an inhabited area downwind??? (I'm assuming the reports of this coming from a prescribed, aka planned, burn are correct.)

Now, I am getting my info third hand, remember that. But smoke is coming in from the forest, lightly but with a raw, ugly kick to it. Something is certainly causing a lot of breathing-related health trouble right now. It's reasonable to think it's probably that smoke. At any rate, regardless of what the details of the current incident actually are, I do hope the Forest Service, in future, takes steps to reduce particularly dangerous smoke, and, furthermore, does aim to not, you know, manufacture the stuff. Please, folks. Pretty please.

And, oh, if you're trying to clear toxic plants from your own property? Do please think twice before burning.

See also: Ohio State University pdf brochure on plants that cause skin irritants. (Includes warning not to burn toxic plants.)

See also: FDA write-up Outsmarting Poison Ivy and Its Cousins. (Includes warning to never burn the plants.)

See also: emedicine article on Plant Poisoning, Toxicodendron. (Toxicodendron being the rather apt genus name for poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, etc.)

See also: Virginia Cooperative Extension's Poison Ivy: Leaves of three? Let it be! (Which warns about smoke...)

Update, Friday morning: I want to note that the rumor mill is working several angles on this. I've also heard that the smoke is coming from a burn being done by the city, and also that a local mill is burning scrap lumber and maybe that's what's doing this, or that it's a combination of one source and another. I honestly don't know who's burning what, but bad stuff is in the air, that's for certain. Most folks are all right with it, but people with respiratory illness or certain types of allergies or sensitivities, etc., are getting hit pretty hard.

For another example, last night, getting on toward one a.m., my husband (who manages a gas station) got an emergency call. An elderly couple, who live the next town over, had spent much of the day at the hospital in our town, as I understand it, because she'd stopped breathing and had been rushed there. But the hospital didn't want to keep her overnight, or they couldn't afford it, or something. At any rate, staying longer at the hospital wasn't in the cards. And so there they were, past midnight, without enough gas to get home. Or enough money to buy enough gas to do them any real good, for that matter. One of the night cops pitched in, and so did we, and, thank God and basic humanity both, we have a handful of local churches that take turns on pitching in on this sort of thing, so we got the folks on their way, with enough gas to not only get home, but enough to get them wherever they might need to get if they have more trouble.

Before anyone offers any snide remarks on how, the price of gas being what it is, we ought to be able to afford to give some away, I'd like to note that it's not our gas, we only dispense it. We don't set the price, except to the extent that we beg the head company to let us hold off on raising prices for a few hours, at the very least (and we do beg, believe me, frequently), or fight tooth and nail to not raise it as much as asked (did I mention that we aren't above begging?). But, of course, it is their gas and they have to pay for it and run the delivery trucks, etc., and so, at the end of the day, we're obliged to let them set the prices. We get paid a certain number of cents per gallon of fuel dispensed, regardless of the fuel, and regardless of the price. When the price of fuel goes up, our income tends to go down.

Monday, May 14, 2007

English muffins, from scratch

I'm still up to my eyeballs in offline projects, but since my sanity breaks these days are often bread-baking breaks, and since my last project was making English muffins from scratch, and since the recipe turned out to be both easy and really, really good... well, I'm checking in long enough to share the recipe.

The recipe is from Bread Winners, by Mel London, 1979, Rodale Press, a remarkably good cooking book (which I wish someone would put back into print, please), page 164. The recipe is called English Raisin Muffins. It was provided to the author by a woman named Yvonne Rodahl. She won a prize at a fair with it, and I can see why (even though, being me, of course I altered it just slightly even right out of the gate... :)

All I did differently was to substitute a half cup whole wheat flour plus a half cup bread flour for one cup of the unbleached all-purpose flour, I cut in 3 inch circles instead of 3 and a half, and I rolled a bit thinner than average for English muffins. I wound up with 17 muffins instead of 10, which suits me fine because I like smaller, thinner English muffins.

I did have a bit of a time working out how much to let them rise, and what temperature setting to use, and how long exactly to cook them given the temp I was using. By the time I got the last batch to the griddle, they had overrisen, and they collapsed a bit when I moved them onto the pan. But they all turned out good (at least the ones we've eaten so far). And the ones where I happily hit upon a good combination of rising, cooking temp, and cooking time, are very good indeed.

So, Yvonne Rodahl's English Raisin Muffins: For 10 muffins, use 1 package dry yeast, 1 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons honey, a quarter cup of oil, a half cup of raisins, 3 cups unbleached white flour, and 2 tablespoons cornmeal.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add the salt, honey, oil, raisins, and the flour and stir until smooth.

On a floured surface roll out dough, and cut into 3 1/2-inch circles. Use a cookie cutter, the edge of a drinking glass, or a small can.

Sprinkle cornmeal on an ungreased cookie sheet, place the muffins on the sheet and sprinkle the remaining cornmeal over the muffins. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour.

Heat a griddle; transfer muffins onto griddle and cook over the burner of the stove for about 7 minutes on each side. Keep the flame low so the muffins don't scorch.

Cool, split and toast or serve warm with butter and comb honey.

What, no kneading? That surprised me, but I did it as written and to my amazement it worked. There's another English muffin recipe in the book, for sourdough muffins, and it does include kneading. I have no idea which is more traditional. These muffins, I might add, are lighter than the ones I can buy in the store.

I was a bit too timid with the cornmeal and only used about half of the amount called for in the recipe - a mistake. The muffins sitting on the cookie sheet where I'd sprinkled liberally came up easily. The ones where I'd scrimped had a tendency to stick.

The subtitle of Bread Winners is "More Than 200 Superior Bread Recipes and Their Remarkable Bakers." It's got some fun thumbnail bios, some of which include stories of bread failures (just in case you think everybody but you always but always has terrific luck in the kitchen...). The recipes are quite wide ranging, from rice and cornmeal breakfast bread supposedly big on plantations in the Old South, to recipes to use while on mountain climbing expeditions, to ethnic breads, to novelty breads, to holiday breads, to basics. This being a Rodale book, it's big on whole grains and advises against using salt, but (as in the recipe I shared), it allows white flour in traditional recipes or for specific uses, and lists the salt, but marked as optional. By far and away most of the recipes look do-able, many even look easy, and most use nothing but common ingredients.

I see from a bit of looking on the Internet that there was a sequel, Bread Winners Too.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Spring break (after a fashion)

Blogging might be light to nonexistent at this site for a few days while I concentrate on some other writing projects. And soak up what I can of early spring. And get some of my garden in. And try to turn my lawn into a lawn instead of a wannabe hay field (it gets away from me this time of year, what can I say?). And I've got a book I especially want to finish. And so on and so on, etc... :)

I'll probably keep tossing article links into the annex.

And I've added quite a few website links to my sidebar recently.

So if you want to use this as a portal to other places on the Internet, have at.

But, did I mention, it's spring? I watched a warbler darting in and out amongst the last of the apple blossoms today. And I got the flower box out front ready for flowers. And... now I'm off to do some indoor projects.

How about you? Are you letting spring happen without you? If so, do you really want to do that? I'm just asking...

Added at the last minute, due to a change in circumstances: OK, you can laugh now. Just as I aimed for the 'publish' button, a storm whacked the side of the house. Wind. Rain. Is that hail? Garden work might possibly have to wait. We'll see. By tomorrow it might be clear again. I can hope...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

He's kidding, right? Texas isn't negotiable, right?

It's late. I was skimming this article by Harvey C. Mansfield, William R. Kenan Professor of Government at Harvard (The Case for the Strong Executive, OpinionJournal, May 2, 2007), trying to decide whether to save a link for when I wasn't so pressed for time or so tired, and part of the last paragraph jumped out at me (emphasis mine):

As to the contention that a strong executive prompts a policy of imperialism, I would admit the possibility, and I promise to think carefully and prayerfully about returning Texas to Mexico. In its best moments, America wants to be a model for the world, but no more. In its less good moments, America becomes disgusted with the rest of the world for its failure to imitate our example and follow our advice. I believe that America is more likely to err with isolationism than with imperialism, and that if America is an empire, it is the first empire that always wants an exit strategy. I believe too that the difficulties of the war in Iraq arise from having wished to leave too much to the Iraqis, thus from a sense of inhibition rather than imperial ambition.
All right. He has my attention. I'm not sure exactly what he's talking about, or whether he's trying to be serious or sarcastic or facetious or 'clever' or what, but he does have my attention.

I was having a hard slog of it in earlier parts of the article, but I guess I'd better give it another go tomorrow. Maybe I can figure out the point he's trying to make.

But for the record, I don't think Texas should be treated like a bargaining chip instead of one of the 50 states solidly belonging to this nation.

The good versus the evil

The Witts share a bit of insight from Alexander McCall Smith.

It's a bit backward from how most authors express it, but I'm inclined to think he's right. (That it reminds me of C.S. Lewis helps. ;)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

'Africa Mercy' set to sail

This hospital floats. Its first mission of mercy launches this week, taking a volunteer crew of more than 400 to war-torn Liberia.

Africa Mercy is billed as the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship. Before conversion, it was a Danish rail ferry.

Read more about the ship in this article announcing her successful completion of sea trials.

From the Mercy Ships website:

Mercy Ships, a global charity, has operated hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. Following the example of Jesus, Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to the forgotten poor, mobilizing people and resources worldwide, and serving all people without regard for race, gender or religion.

Mercy Ships follows the 2,000 year-old model of Jesus: the blind see, the lame walk, the mute speak, and Good News (the nature and character of a loving God) is proclaimed and demonstrated among the poor.

Mercy Ships welcomes volunteers who would like to give of their time, efforts and expertise to the work of bringing hope and healing to the poor.

Short-term volunteers can participate from two weeks to a year with Mercy Ships, while others may choose to serve in a career capacity...

No, I didn't know May Day was Law Day...

... in the United States. Did you?

See the Lou Dobbs' commentary A peculiar day for immigration rallies - CNN.com for the story. Mr. Dobbs clearly isn't happy about what happened this year for May Day, or what's happening in this country regarding illegal immigration, with all its attendant problems.

He issues a call to action for law-abiding citizens, including all those folks who are patiently going through, or have gone through, the process of becoming a United States citizen. Mr. Dobbs suggests "that we celebrate Law Day with a great national enthusiasm next May 1" and adds "I guarantee you I'll march in that demonstration." Good for him. Not that I'm much of a demonstrations person, but if we're going to have them by all means let's have them for honorable causes.

Do you know what else I'd like to see for May Day? When I was a child (not that many decades ago, thanks) May Day was a day for dancing around a maypole and picking flowers and giving baskets of them to friends. In school we made paper flowers and put them into paper baskets which we also made ourselves. A friend told me that for May Day girls in his neighborhood hung bouquets of flowers on the doorknobs of front doors, rang the bell, and ran away -- so they could have the fun of giving a gift anonymously. In addition to Mr. Dobbs' very good suggestion, could we perhaps also reclaim May Day as a day for that sort of innocent and generous activity? Admittedly it's the sort of holiday that appeals to girls more than boys, but honestly, it's a great holiday for girls. And maypole dancing is an art. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't. :)

hat tip: Rush Limbaugh

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Teaching kids to be racist and radical

Linda Chavez writes about why she went from being a supporter of affirmative action to an opponent of such programs. One of the reasons was that "the program's organizers encouraged students to take largely segregated ethnic studies courses, whose primary purpose was to forge ethnic solidarity and reinforce students' feelings that they were victims of a racist society bent on their destruction." (Ending Racial Preferences: It's About Time, Townhall.com, April 27, 2007)

Meanwhile, Sherry Early recently read a book based on a true story, in which "kids are being trained to see racism in everything that happens to them, and their teachers are so biased and despairing that the kids come (are lead) to the conclusion that the overthrow of the government and the education system is just about the only thing that will get them their “rights” as human beings." (Cross-X by Joe Miller, Semicolon, May 1, 2007)

I have seen someone come to his senses and realize that people were uncomfortable around him not because of his race (or whatever else he used for focus) but because of the chip he carried around on his shoulder. But I haven't seen it often enough, that's for sure.

How someone who poisons the minds of young people like that can face himself in the mirror is beyond me. As far as I can see, he robs the kids of experience in the broader world, while making their needlessly-narrow world miserable. And he robs the broader world of his pupils, who could be standing shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors instead of throwing accusations and wallowing in avoidable self-pity. For shame.

This post at Bookworm Room is somewhat related.

This Peggy Noonan column (via the Bookworm post), is also somewhat related.

The Tower of London takes on the problem of crowds

So you think you'd like to stroll your way through the Tower of London to see "the Crown Jewels, the crowns, scepters and other glistening ornaments symbolizing over 1,000 years of British royalty"? Think again.

(It's a trick question, btw.)