Nov 30, 2009

China Again

So the other part of my China epiphany was this:

China has more than a billion uninsured people.

What makes us think we're so important that we can sell China our bad debt, take their money, and use it to insure our current 30 million that are not covered by healthcare? What makes us so much better than them? hmmm?

So this is my new political stance: It is not moral for us to be in debt as a nation. After reading and thinking about it a lot, I feel like our debt is literally taking the food out of others' mouths, or could be seen that way at least (and yes I know there are a hundred equations and philosophies and opinions and predictions that would explain this view into oblivion. But see... we're selling them money we don't have and can't guarrantee ever to have, and they are paying real money for it. And we think that we can go into FURTHER debt to insure our 30 million while China has over a billion uninsured... who is China going to sell debt to, to pay for coverage they can't really afford?)

I am a democrat. I have realized how very thouroughly a democrat I am, in the purest sense of the term. I believe in a free democracy above all else. Really I do. I believe that our current Republic works out OK most of the time, but it's a compromise we should never have made. I agree with James Madison in that we ought to have Actual representation, and not be forced to channel our votes through a few people that have been selected by committees who have been selected to represent the rest of us. We really ought to have more of a democratic system.

I believe we have way too many laws that dictate the way people live their lives. There need to be some laws to protect the innocent, yes. But we shouldn't have laws that force one particular narrow set of values and customs upon a large population. That's not the place of Rule of Law.

I believe that welfare is vital to any country or nation or government's well being, and that a well-run system will hugely benefit the population it serves, without bankrupting said system. In fact, a well-run welfare system should produce profit and productivity. We just have a lot of beaurocratic deadwood and expensive red tape procedures and policies that need to be cut, shifted and changed.

Basically, I think I now am a Democrat who believes we need to start from scratch... after we get completely out of debt. Because what kind of person thinks it's OK to sell fake money to a population where a large number of people still starve to death sometimes, and an even larger number have absolutely no access to healthcare? At least here we have emergency rooms and laws that make it so everybody has to be served in them.

So that's my bleeding-heart-liberal reason for thinking we should not sign this health care bill.

OK, go ahead and start throwing donkey poo at me. :)

Nov 23, 2009

US in real life

I'm not going to post the latest SNL Obama skit because it has a few very crude references in it, and my Mom and Grandma read this blog. Heck, someday my kids will read it. SIGH, because it was very politically interesting, that skit. It was about how much money we owe China.

Here's how the situation is:

China owns a large amount of our US treasury bonds. Those are the things we create when we don't have the cash to cover our expenses (as a nation). We create these bonds and offer them for sale to other countries (or the American people), basically selling "futures" in American currency. They are supposed to mature and create a profit for those who buy them.

China owns so many of these bonds that basically, they own around 25% of our nation's debt (see here for some illustrations of the kind of debt that the US currently owes). Japan owns a further 20%. The rest is owed in smaller bits and pieces... some by countries where we are currently engaged in tricky diplomatic processes.

This, in itself, is troubling. But we see that it's even more of a dilemma when we realize how much of our labor is outsourced to China and Japan. How many goods and products we buy from people who give jobs to people in Japan and China at the American People's expense, because they can do it at a much lower production cost, partially because these countries do not have this debt, as well as other regulations that we in America put on businesses. It's an endless downward spiral.

Another problem is that China is artificially keeping its currency at a low rate, thus giving itself an unfair advantage over other currencies. We can't do much about it, can we? For a very pithy illustration of this, go ahead and watch that SNL video I told you not to watch.

Most people say this isn't a real worry because China and Japan need us to have a stable economy so that we will provide them with a market for the goods that they export, and they will lose a significant investment if they liquidate the bonds they hold. The problem with this argument, is that it's missing the whole point. We are currently in the position of Owing. We are in Debt. Right now, China doesn't seem to have any real reason to liquidate bonds. But they may soon find one.

So, what does this have to do with SNL and Obama and this trip he took to China?

It appears we are becoming more friendly to China. More diplomatic, more chummy. More willing to overlook points upon which we don't agree as nations. This could be good; diplomacy is always good. But not if we're doing it for the wrong reasons.

This is a very clear example of how America as a Nation must be free from entanglements and obligations, if we Americans want to be able to effectively promote our cause (even the most altruistic, noble cause, including things such as human rights.)

Of all the news I've read lately, this is the most troubling, to me. And it's the thing that's causing ME (yes me, Nosurfgirl) to wonder about the future of America; not necessarily related to communism and socialism and the constitution hanging by a thread.. but our Reason for Being. And our ability to be who we're supposed to be... are we going to continue being that City on the Hill? Most would say we've already fallen, because of our ill-conceived actions in the middle east over the past 50 years and the resulting negative image we've gained internationally.

Up 'till now, I've always felt like we're doing things for the right reasons (albeit, sometimes horribly misguided). We're trying. We make mistakes. We get stupid information. Greedy people manipulate numbers and intelligence to further their agenda, but we have tried to make the foreign policy decisions that seem most in line with our mission, our "city on the hill" identity as a nation.

This latest development makes me worry if perhaps we're starting to get on the track to doing the wrong things... because we can't do much when we don't have a leg to stand on, economically speaking.

This is the kind of stuff I'd like to hear more people debate about. I feel like we're skimming the surface in our rhetoric and our debates lately... quibbling over table scraps and finding shallow rhetoric to pit one side against the other. What we need to be doing instead is talking about the things that nobody seems to want to talk about. It's understandable that politicians want to avoid this whole subject, and others that are equally serious and threatening to the future of the US. Because it's not popular to be the voice of gloom and doom. You'll never get elected that way; Americans elect people who tell them they're Great and they're Right and they're on the Right Team. Americans like to see gladiators fighting each other. They like the race and the show, and they like being able to pick the winning side.

Problem is, right now... guess who's on the losing side? It's not the republicans or the democrats. It's US.

We can't allow ourselves to be distracted by pettiness when there are real dangers out there to America itself; what we are as a nation. Why we exist. We can't sequester ourselves in front of our little computer screens playing the Tetris of bill word counts and semantics gymnastics when there's a real problem out there.

Time to take our heads out of the sand, people.

Nov 19, 2009


Geoffrey Nunberg's response.

OK guys, now you're just trying to find things to fight about. The word Shall? Come on. There are far worse things to worry about in this particular piece of legislation.

For instance, I've always found the word, "it," to be offensively neuter in implication. The health care bill has the word, "it", several thousand times. In fact, a lot of these so-controversial"shalls," have sinister "its" that fall directly before and after them.

This is truly a terrible thing, linguistically speaking.

Nov 14, 2009

Nov 11, 2009

A Great Big Gargantuan Picture Post....

Halloween. The kids are all kinda squished together but you can see Loli was Cinderella, Bella was Princess Aurora (hard to pronounce with an Amharic accent!), Jaws was Tinkerbell and May was Snow White. They've gone a little princess crazy since... May can now tell you the entire plot of Snow White... in English.

We've had a MOUSE problem lately. Something about this winter... lots of mouse trouble in the old farmhouses in our area. So Skywalker rigged some humane live traps. This is us letting 3 mice go. We've caught 9 so far. Ewww. But better than spiders... still I hope we're DONE. For more info on the traps go to

School art projects

Me with a beer belly.

Class Time! Letter and number games.

Loli wanted short hair. Really, really wanted it. I winced, I almost cried... but maybe she knows what's what. She does look pretty dang good with short hair.

Sniff. 8 inches.

Yarn braids, after 4 weeks in. Fuzzy roots!

Bella with crazy hair after getting her yarn braids out.

May has decorated her doll with her leftover yarn braids.

May's standard ham-for-the-camera face. She knows how to work it...

Bella's not sure she likes having free hair. I tried it for the first time, and I actually was able to define her curls and keep them looking good for a whole day! Amazing. Bella said, "Mom, make it go DOWN."
I'm sorry kiddo...

Bella: Ok, Mom, I'll smile. Just because you want me to. (she doesn't know how jealous I am of those beautiful curls!)

Jaws' hair is getting longer!

Can't leave Squirt out.

Just Cuz.

Nov 6, 2009

Horde Momsmanship

So as the mom (suddenly) of lots of kids close in age, I have learned (painfully) a few things.

1) The dull roar just is. I remember when I was a teen, constantly listening to angsty rock music... if I could stand the noise then, I can stand it now. And I have to.

2) Kids have this little heirarchy-- The role of Oldest, Best at ______, Fastest at _______, etc etc etc. Everyone wants to Be the Oldest, in the sense that they want Mom to trust them with responsibility. I've learened, instead of giving all the real responsibility to just my oldest, to instead give everyone a "job" when I need, for instance, babysitting while I am in the next room taking a abath. Loli is the one who watches Squirt, Bella is in charge of turning on the movie, May is going to make sure the house doesn't get messy, and Jaws will find everyone a blanket to sit and watch the movie-- just an example. Giving everyone jobs keeps kids from becoming contentious and resenting each other for being "in charge" of each other.

3) They Have To Clean Up Their Own Messes. It just doesn't work any other way. My house would either be a continuous hazardous waste zone, or else I'd be cleaning all day. Thus: strict enforcement of the policy. yes, you do get in trouble if you aren't cleaning up when mom asks you to. Big trouble!!!

4) I've had to develop a really good memory about "turns." For instance, today when I pulled into the grocery store parking lot I had to remember that two days ago, Jaws and May got to sit in the little shopping cart car, so it was Bella's and Loli's turn this time. This is very very important to kids. Like, so important you're not going to be able to go shopping, you'll have little angry demons pulling on your cart and whining and purposefully ticking the others off and generally making life impossible for you without 'really doing anythign wrong' the whole trip. I call it "being pissy" because I haven't found another, more diplomatic way to describe it. Pissy just sums it up so well.

5) Secret mom treats are now nonexistent. This many kids... there's no way to hide the brownie you bought for yourself because you feel like you need it after "what you just went through." So you have two options: Either buy a brownie for everyone, or admit selfishiness. Eg: yes, this is for mommy. No, you may not have some. yes, I know it's not fair. Too bad. I'm the Mom.

(ha! Nobody turn me in to CPS, OK?)

6) Quiet time, (brief periods, spent by yourself, in a room with locked doors that you can hear pretty well through) is not an indulgence, it's a need. Just every once in a while. a ten-minute break periodically throughout the day. Does wonders for my sanity.... I can recharge and readopt the pleasant, "no you may not tone" instead of continuing in the "wicked witch of the west, I'll get you my pretty, if you ask one more time" direction.

7) I find I love life a whole lot more if I Find time each day to Revel; to take a couple of my kids and individually spend some time just talking to them... even just for a few minutes. Or listening to them talk to you, and allow yourself to well up inside with the joy of their cuteness, smartness, hilariousness, and overall goodness.

8) For me, Humor does a lot for stressful situations. Laughing is much more productive when things are spilled, accidentally broken, or any other thing that happens. But if you don't feel particularly humorous, another thing that has worked for me is realizing the worry/startled feelings my child is experiencing when she/he has an accident, instead of focusing on my own, irritated, weary-of-cleaning-up feelings.

That's all for now. I'm sure there will be many more, painfully-learned lessons to try to gather under my belt in the coming years. These ones have helped...

but the biggest thing has been chocolate. Chocolate really can solve any (small) problem. Anyone have any? Pretty please?

Nov 5, 2009

Christmas Music

I'm looking around for a song to perform for my studio's Christmas recital. Often I listen to youtubes of my favorite singers performing the songs I'm considering, to decide which I like best and which might suit my own voice best if I tried it. I came across this.

I think this might be what angels sound like... to me, it's definitely the essence of what Christmas sounds like. It's my favorite Christmas carol, for sure, and you can't get a better, more lyric and expressive soprano... and to have the Motab as backup. Wow. I wish I had been at this concert. Once-in-a-lifetime.

Time for some more political Humor

Facebook is making me politically cranky these days. Everyone is stirred up right now. Face to face, I talk about politics to those I know like to talk about politics with-- people who listen and respond and who I can have a real coversation with. Facebook,though, is something where you get this crazy mosaic amalgam of everyone's thoughts, article postings, society joinings and whatall. And so every day I open my account for a couple minutes to read through what my friends have been doing lately. And I have been finding that people post a lot of email forwards, most of which are Snopes-debunked, and articles from their favorite "pry my weapon from my cold dead hands" or "illuminati bombed the twin towers" society. Yeah. I'd say something like 98% of my facebook friends don't like Obama, and 80% of them Really Hate Obama. Like, to the point where they think he's going to Bring Down the Principles of Free Society and Rip our Beloved Constitution in Two because he's an Evil Socialist Fascist Terrorist Foreign-Born America-Hating son of a gun whose name sounds like the names of two prominent evil people in recent history so we're going to capitalize on that as much as possible.

To this I have a response. A very good response:

Two things.

1) Lol. Seriously, ROFLOL. No... ROFLMBO and ROFLSHUC (that's my own! It means roll on the floor laugh so hard U cry. Do you like it?) Actually it was pretty dang funny. But I liked this guy better during the campaign... he did a better Obama then.

2)Shouldn't the right be calming down a little bit right now?

I mean, as fake Obama said, if anyone should be upset, it should be the Left, right? Right?



Anyway, this fence is comfortable, as always. But the neighborhood's kind of getting noisy. I might need to buy myself some earplugs...

Nov 1, 2009

Holy Halloween Tradition


This week has been just plain disrupted.

In addition to Skywalker needing some time home to recoup from Second-Wave-H1N1 (he was overdoing it at work, and the cough came BACK!! Another tip to add to my previous post) We've had three (almost) Halloweens... A ward party, a voice-class party, and trick or treating. This has been suuuuch a buildup in anticipation for my kids. Crazy. There were those yarn braids (which I didn't JUST do for Halloween, you remember); there was the sewing back together of slightly-ragged DI princess dresses. Every single day since I bought the dresses the girls would ask, "princess dress? Princess dress?" (or in the case of Loli and Jaws, "Mom, when's Halloween? Is it next week? How many days?)

My kids went trick-or-treating together for the first time last night, and they had a ball. I had to wonder, as we walked around in the dark, going from one, sumptuous Park-City lodge-style home to another (we visited my sis for Halloween this year. We don't get up to see them much and it seemed like a good excuse) what they were thinking. Loli taught them the proper Trick-Or-Treating Ettiquite, and it was four flying, sparkly skirts dashing from house to house, and a chorus of husky/supersonic voices every time a door was opened. I wonder, do my bright-eyed children feel the same sort of Glee I felt as a child on Halloween? Are Bella and May too foreign to the concept yet, and is Jaws too young, to fully appreciate the joy that is yearly tradition? Will they be thinking about Halloween occasionally all year long, and then when we come upon the middle of September and the leaves start changing and the air gets that bite to it that somehow makes me want to guzzle gallons of cider, will their minds turn to pumpkins and orange-lit houses and maniacal giggling as timid fingers press a doorbell?

I'm so glad my girls got to go trick or treating. There was a mix up about timing with my family, and for a while I was pretty worried trick-or-treating wouldn't work out this year. I got this terrible sinking feeling, that all I had been promising my kids for a month wouldn't pan out. It's so silly, really. Halloween? Candy? A completely frivolous, non-religious holiday for us folk here in Utah, at least. I didn't realize it was that important to me.

I guess, for me at least, there's something religious about tradition, about family time, about seeing people we don't always see, perhaps. And about Mom and Dad making an effort to create a gleeful, sugar-high-filled, whimsical experience that will resonate in childish memories throughout the year, adding a little more anticipation with each year. As my kids get older, it matters more to them. As they get older, it becomes security... the promise of a wonderful experience, of a day just for kids.

Happy Halloween everybody. I hope all your candy's gone. Because if not, I may be visiting you in the near future... our kids downed ours within two hours, and I didn't get a chance to extract the obligatory chocolate tax that all parents are entitled to. Just a piece of advice: if you know I'm coming, hide the chocolate.