Thursday, December 14, 2006

#329 - To Blog or not to Blog

Cam is taking another hiatus from his blogging efforts for the immediate future. I can understand where he's coming from.

Blogging is definitely one of those high maintenance activities that, if not balanced properly, can turn into a really bad marriage. When one partner becomes "needy," the other invariably suffers. Thus I can understand his desire to turn off the blog machine for awhile and take a few steps back. Time to regroup; recharge the ol' batteries; take a deep breath and take care of long-neglected business.

Like any new toy, my blogs have taken more than their fair share of my time over the past several months. Fortunately, I've settled into a new pattern that means I spend less time blogging, and more time enjoying the events about which I intend to blog. Someday. But I also refuse to put myself under any personal editorial pressure. There's just no reason for it, and what I have to say isn't all that important except to myself and my loved ones. Plus a few hangers-on who happen to say nice things to me occasionally. Aw, heck, even my two or three detractors are appreciated, if in a weird, perverse sort of way.

In Cam's situation, blogging has (temporarily, I'm pretty certain) become something of a millstone around the neck. He's probably on the cusp of remembering some things he's needed to give some attention for a long while now, and by golly he's determined to do so. Then Nancy Pelosi will nominate Howard Dean to replace John Bolton at the U. N., and he'll be unable to help himself. Did I mention that Nancy plans to have Il Divo sing "Auld Lang Syne*" at the Capitol New Year's Eve party?

Anyway, he'll be back.

In the meantime, I have to chuckle whilst echoing Cam's sentiments in his "farewell" post. The Republican party, he says, has "lost its way." Out with the old; in with the new. I chuckle because, Republican though we may be, we're not so all-fired dedicated to the party that we wouldn't mind seeing a good shakeup in the party elite right about now.

The heart of the matter is the two-faced approach taken by nearly all professional pols before and after an election. In the off-season - that time of year when no one is running for anything but their latest ethics violations - all politicians talk the tough conservative/liberal rhetoric. They'll make the most provocative statements they can think of to remind everyone of just how conservative/liberal they can really be. Then, come election time everyone moves hard-center so as to appease as many voters as possible. With few notable exceptions, the provocative rhetoric gets toned waaaay down just about everywhere except in the shouting matches between old and new media types. The pols are getting better (since Kerry redefined "open mouth, insert foot") about shutting the heck up and letting us fight their battles for them. Then they'll cozy up with whomever appears to be winning and make that their ticket to election.

All of this takes concerted effort if you wish to be a dedicated blogger with any aspirations to participating in the national debate. That effort can be mentally fatiguing, especially in a year when your party does not do well at the polls. Yes, it's a huge let-down that we lost control of Congress in this election. But it's an even bigger disappointment that our current garbage bag of party leadership seem not to have learned any lessons from this latest rout. I don't know what they're expecting in 2008, but unless Romney adds walking on water to his bag of tricks, I don't smell a Republican win two years from now. Not with our party leadership as currently constituted.

Here in California, Republicans - the traditional ones - are apparently all but extinct. With Schwarzenegger showing more and more of his Kennedy stripes with each passing month, I don't wonder that at some point he'll just give up the pretense and change his ticket to Democrat once he leaves the Governor's office. That means our poster boy for conservative causes is himself becoming a lost cause. Behind whom will we rally next time around? There are no shining stars in the party right now, unless McClintock suddenly grows a spine and begins positioning himself to make a run at a serious office, like U. S. Senator. So far, I don't see anyone having the gumption to stand up to the Lib Sisters and take 'em on issues alone.

Thus, I, too, have undertaken a brief sabbatical from political blogging. This is not to say that I don't care right now. Far from it. However, there's not much to debate at the moment. No one is taking a true leadership role in any of our current political hot-buttons. Iraq either is or is not a "quagmire." We've either lost, or will stay for as long as it takes. We're either fighting al Qaeda, or a war against terror. The definitions are becoming hazier with each passing day. Border control is vital, but no one seems anxious to anger our neighbors to the south. Certainly no one in office is willing to be the bad guy these days. Thus we have far too little support coming from those we elected to represent our interests.

That said, I'm certainly not removing myself from the blogging arena. Writing is a need of mine. It helps me focus my thoughts and keeps my communication skills limbered up. I've been writing for a long time now, and having somewhere to keep a record of my thoughts and see how they interact with others is a real treat for me. Even if I only reach a handful of real readers, it's still a kick.

This blog ain't going anywhere anytime soon. There's still plenty of stuff out there to write about.

And, as I say, Cam will be back.

* By the way, I'm kidding about Il Divo singing at the Capitol. But you just know Cam would blog about that!

Friday, December 08, 2006

#328 - It's All About the Money

Sorry for the absence of blogging lately. It's a busy time of year and I actually try to spend as much free time as possible with my family. It's a holiday season, but beyond that I have no excuse.

That doesn't mean I'm not trolling the news every day. Most of the time I just zip past most of what Drudge deems to be noteworthy. I have no idea what constitutes a "standard" at the Drudge Report, but I've sure never been able to figure him out.

Anyway, this morning Drudge pointed to this little gem about the father of Chelsea Clinton's boyfriend getting tossed in the clink for fraud in connection with those Nigerian e-mail scams. And not in the way that immediately sprang to my mind, either.

The very first time I received one of those e-mails I must admit to being somewhat nonplussed. How on earth did this guy get my name, and why is he offering to cut me in on this deal? That lasted for about, oh, fifteen seconds. Then my Internet Survival Instincts kicked in and I immediately began looking for background on the scam. Sure enough, at the time it was on the list of fraud schemes that the Secret Service was keeping an eye on. I don't think they even bother anymore. Back then, though, I was encouraged to forward the e-mail to the Secret Service fraud investigators as part of their ongoing investigation. I felt like a useful citizen for a few minutes afterward.

From that time, of course, I have successfully ignored anything coming into my e-mail that even smacks of being a scam. Even when I get those rather authentic-looking phishes with the logo of my somewhat obscure credit union in them I don't so much as blink. I just let my spam filter quietly and efficiently drop them into Spam Outer Darkness.

So to read that this former congressman (whose wife also happens to be a current congressperson) and friend of the Clintons actually was connected to one of these schemes, I was ready to cheer that they'd finally nailed one of the idiots responsible for so much of the spam that overloads my filters every day.

Not quite. You see, I've always just assumed that the only people dumb enough to fall for these schemes were the same ones who read Weekly World News or the Los Angeles Times and actually believed what they were reading. I mean, how gullible can ya get?

Then to find that Ed Mezvinsky, a former congressman (who would be assumed to have a level of intelligence above paramecium) actually fell for one of these scams - not once, but multiple times - is just too much to be believed.

Apparently, as with gambling or narcotics, these scams are addicting. This man's personal greed and avarice were such that he began defrauding clients and relatives in order to support his habit.

I mean, at what point did he fail to understand that these schemes were never meant to benefit him??

Ah, well. This one gets to spend time in prison contemplating his sins. As a friend of the Clintons, I'm assuming he'll contemplate them right back into another run for office. He's probably assuming Hillary will be in office then, and he'd like to be invited to more state dinners.

Preferably with Nigerian diplomats.

Monday, November 27, 2006

#327 - Dr. Phil Chimes In (and Out) (UPDATED)

So the Dr. Phil Franchise jumped into the homeschool debate. I only bring this up because the good doctor unfortunately smacks of "credibility" whenever he tackles a controversial subject. It has little to do with whether his opinions are in any way correct. It has far more to do with Dr. Phil having more of a "National Enquirer" kind of audience.

You know the folks I'm talking about. These are the folks who hear something on one of those CBS sound-bite reports ("homeschooling causes child abuse!") and the next thing you know this obscure prejudice has become firmly engrained in the listener's psyche. No amount of empirical evidence to the contrary will shake them, either. These are the same people responsible for most of the conspiracy theories ("JFK was killed by abused homeschoolers!") in the world today.

You might guess by now that I give little, if any, credence to Dr. Phil's opinions of homeschooling. You would be correct.

But, to be truthful, I really could care less what the overly vaunted Dr. thinks about anything. Hey, his weight loss strategies are not bad, but that doesn't mean that everything that comes out of the man's mouth is something with which I automatically agree. After all, the man is a clinical psychologist, which means he gets paid by the word. The more words he comes up with, the more money he makes. More power to him.

That said, I also understand that there are many in the homeschooling community (see the HSLDA's harrumph here) who have and will take umbrage at Dr. Phil's statements. More particularly, he seems to think that homeschool is fine up to a point, and that point is high school. By high school, he opines, the kids are in more need of association with peers (and peer pressure by extension, I guess) in order to develop properly. Or as properly as any psychologist is capable of understanding.

All this takes me back to why I homeschool.

Primary of which is, I don't homeschool because (or in spite) of Dr. Phil. Really. Nothing that Dr. Phil says has any bearing whatsoever on why, how, or for how long we intend to homeschool our children. Neither should he have any bearing on that process. Dr. Phil, being a psychologist, is a mere resource. Someone to whom one might turn if they were conflicted about something and just didn't seem able to overcome the obstacles. But for a family in our position - one where Mom and Dad are in 100% complete agreement about homeschooling - such a resource is not required.

Nor do I need Dr. Phil to validate our decision. (I could make some sort of statement that I don't need anyone to validate our decision, but that sounds altogether too maudlin, even for me.)

This, then, becomes the single greatest weakness in the homeschool "movement" (for lack of a better adjective). While there are a great many hard-working, dedicated homeschooling families who have produced countless well-adjusted and properly educated kids, there are also those on the fringe who vacillate. These are the families that people like Dr. Phil tend to interview.

That's just good TV, I'm afraid. Dr. Phil would get absolutely nowhere having my family on his show because we're just too darned unremarkable as homeschoolers go. We are not separatist nutcases who homeschool to spite the government; we simply don't trust the government to adequately and safely educate our children. We do not "unschool" our children; neither do we force them to sit bleary-eyed in a classroom trying to keep up with the super-achievers or being dragged down by the underachievers. Homework is a non-issue. Socialization likewise, unless the Mother of All Experts would like to pooh-pooh church and family as primary socialization networks. Our student-to-teacher ratio is 2:1, unless Daddy steps in and helps in which case it's more like 1.5:1. Find that in any public school today.

No, if Dr. Phil showcased my family on his show, we would only be depicted as an exception rather than the rule.

Want the real scoop on homeschoolers? Try talking to some. Don't ask Dr. Phil which ones, though.

UPDATE: Just by way of clarification. I've been surfing around on this issue (LOTS of emotional response to DP's show!) and have found that Dr. Phil came down pretty heavy against "unschooling." Just for the record, Mrs. Woody and I are not unschoolers. We follow more "classical" homeschooling lines. Also, the definition of unschooling has shifted somewhat since I first got involved in the homeschooling environment. Twenty years ago, unschooling literally was the process a family went through upon taking children out of public school in preparation for schooling at home. Sort of a public school detox, if you will. These days the term apparently is used nearly exclusively for those folks who wish to take a completely unstructured approach to their childrens' education. That's just not our style. We have well-established, very firm educational goals for our girls, so the current definition of unschooling truly does not apply here. I choose not to judge unschooling one way or another, but I'm absolutely certain that it wouldn't fit in our family dynamic at all.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

#326 - A Troubled Path In (Not To) the White House

ccwbass at Way Off Bass [Full Disclosure Statement: Yes, he is my literal brother by birth. Deal with it.] points out the rising tide of interest in Mitt Romney's seemingly inevitable campaign for President.

In this case, "interest" may not necessarily represent a good thing, depending on which side of Romney's de facto campaign you happen to be. I, of course, think it can only be a good thing to have a faithful Latter-day Saint in the White House. So much should be obvious. But I advise caution on one point:

Having a Latter-day Saint in the White House does not equal having an infallible man in the White House.

I say this without having given Brother Romney a whole lot of study. I say this more from the perspective of one who has come away from election after election being disappointed in the reality versus the promise of any given candidate - particularly those who have ended up in the White House.

In 1976 I was just barely old enough (I'd made the deadline by something like a whole week) to vote in the general election. In fact, I turned 18 between the primary and the general, so I hadn't even participated fully in the decision-making process that year. It goes without saying that my only recollection of that election was the choice between Ford or Carter for President. Even though a purely nascent Republican at the time, I remember instinctively mistrusting Carter. Perhaps it was his smile. I well remember the old joke that said "never trust a smiling politician." The problem is, they all smile when they're running for office.

Anyway, Carter made it to the office having ridden a wave of anti-Establishment sentiment. "I will clean house," he'd said, hoping that we would believe that Nixon's criminal misuse of the office was somehow the only thing that needed fixing. Ford had been the "caretaker" President, and never could get folks behind him. His "healing act" of pardoning Nixon was, I suspect, the true death knell of his too-short term in office. Inflation and other national woes might have been overlooked but for that.

There is no doubt that Carter is a good man. If we measured him strictly by his adherence to his beliefs (and isn't this what Romney will be subjected to over and over again?) he stands as a man of far more integrity than, say, Clinton. Reagan was another man of integrity who simply let his government get away from him. His personal beliefs never wavered, but he had many unscrupulous people working for him. This had the effect of tainting his presidency with hints of scandal while he himself seemed able to rise above them to the end of his term.

Both Bushes have been men of integrity as to their personal beliefs, but both men have also been products of the professional political machine. In other words, while their intentions have been honorable, they both have shown blindness to some principles so they could defend their actions to pursue other means. This makes them good but misguided men.

As one who sees another Clinton in office as one of the predicted signs of the Apocalypse, I must look once again to the Republican slate of candidates in 2008. McCain will court the moderates because he knows that's where the safer high ground lies. But Mitt Romney has a triple disadvantage where the national press is concerned. He is not only a conservative (as opposed to McCain's moderate), but he is a right wing conservative by association. Worse still, in the eyes of a rather large voting bloc, he is a Mormon right-winger, which will have him continually being roasted and barbecued by the Southern Baptist Convention, among others.

Fortunately, the SBC has not had a wonderful track record of predicting winners or losers in any given election. They will be, however, a force to be reckoned with in the press, which is where this coming election is most likely to be fought.

But let us assume for a moment that Romney somehow keeps it clean and finds himself sitting in the White House. Mission accomplished, right?

Not entirely.

The first thing Romney will find himself fighting is the long-established, well-oiled machine that is Washington politics. He will find himself - as every president has ever done - having to dance with the devil to get things accomplished. And the "devil" does not necessarily represent the guys who voted for the Donkeys, if you get my drift. As Reagan found, the devil often masquerades as a trusted advisor who is left to manage things pretty much on his (or her) own and conveniently fails to inform the Commander in Chief when treading a treacherous path. Thus the Chief Executive becomes guilty by association, and any attempt to correct such things "quietly" always becomes a scandal of cover-up.

Could such a thing happen to MItt Romney? Of course. And this would be the bad thing. Not just because such a thing might happen, but because such a thing might happen to a "Mormon" president of the United States.

I say this because it has always amazed me that the press reports things two ways: Either a man bit a dog (news), or a Mormon man bit a dog (bigger news!). It never fails. No matter how significant the crime, it always becomes somehow more significant if committed by a Mormon. Always.

You know that scene in the book "All the President's Men" where the crooks are brought before the judge at their arraignment and one of them, when asked his name and occupation, mumbles "CIA" under his breath? Remember how that catapulted Watergate from "just another break-in" status to "full-blown constitutional crisis" status in, like, fifty pages? This is what happens whenever the term "Mormon" is applied to any report of a crime, scandal, or misunderstanding as reported in the press.

So, yes, I root for a Romney campaign. Given the current choice, I'd much rather have a Romney than a McCain in office come 2009. But I'm also realistic enough to realize that no matter who takes that office is going to have their hands full if they wish to both govern and yet remain a person of integrity.

It just goes with the territory.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

#325 - As If to Prove My Point

The Wholesome Image™ continues unabated.

#324 - A (Very) Little Humor

Step-Dad Z-Meister has waaaaaay more friends than a normal retiree should be allowed. I base this on the number of emailed satires he forwards to me, nearly always from someone new (to me, at least).

This first one just made me chuckle. At least the punch line did.
Regardless of where one stands on the issue of the U.S. involvement in Iraq, here's a sobering statistic.

There has been a monthly average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theatre of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2,112 deaths.

That gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000 soldiers.

The firearm death rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000 Persons for the same period.

That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in the U.S. Capital than you are in Iraq.

Conclusion: The U.S. should pull out of Washington
Not altogether far-fetched, I think.

More along the lines of something that will likely get me some snarky responses from more moderate readers comes this snorter. For the record, I actually know the guy that passed this one along. This fellow (name withheld to protect the libelous) is one who both worked on my teeth and sang tenor with me in the Ventura County Master Chorale. Heaven only knows where he got it:
A Lady wrote a lot of letters to the White House complaining about the treatment of a captive insurgents (terrorists) being held in Guantanamo Bay.

She received back the following reply:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20016

Dear Concerned Citizen,

Thank you for your recent letter roundly criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and Al Quaeda detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Our administration takes these matters seriously and your opinion was heard loud and clear here in Washington.

You'll be pleased to learn that, thanks to the concerns of citizens like yourself, we are creating a new division of the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" program, or LARK for short.

In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care.

Your personal detainee has been selected and scheduled for transportation under heavily armed guard to your residence next Monday.

Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud (you can just call him Ahmed) is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of complaint. It will likely be necessary for you to hire some assistant care-givers.

We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter.

Although Ahmed is a sociopath and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his "attitudinal problem" will help him overcome these character flaws.

Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences. We understand that you plan to offer counselling and home schooling.

Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. We advise that you do not ask him to demonstrate these skills at your next yoga group. He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless (in your opinion) this might offend him.

Ahmed will not wish to interact with you or your daughters (except sexually), since he views females as a sub-human form of property. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him and he has been known to show violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the new dress code that he will recommend as more appropriate attire.

I'm sure you will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the burka over time.

Just remember that it is all part of "respecting his culture and his religious beliefs" -- wasn't that how you put it?

Thanks again for your letter. We truly appreciate it when folks like you keep us informed of the proper way to do our job. You take good care of Ahmed - and remember, we'll be watching.

Good luck!

Cordially, your friend,

Don Rumsfeld*

*Now doing "an outstanding job" as emeritus consultant to the new guy.
Thanks, Bob!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

#323 - Hoffa Reappears. Sorta.

It happened while I was still in high school. (Note: there are disputations as to what, exactly, "in" high school means, but that's not for this story.) Jimmy Hoffa, former Teamster boss and Mafia beneficiary disappeared quite suddenly in July of 1975. This was news that riveted a nation because Hoffa was one of those larger-than-life characters that I'd grown up hearing about. He was a favorite target of Robert F. Kennedy when Kennedy served in his brother's cabinet in the 60's. He was constantly associated with the Mafia, whether deserved or not. Turns out he probably wasn't in the Mafia, but when dealing with the Mafia close is bad enough.

Then, of course, there were the wild rumors and speculation. If the Mafia got him, where'd they bury him? My personal favorite was either the end zone or one of the cement supports of Giants Stadium. I particularly loved the "buried in cement" scenario because it always reminded me of Hoffa being tossed, Jack Lemmon-like, into a giant gloppita-gloppita machine.

So Hoffa became a perfect metaphor for disappearing without a trace, preferably by less than savory means. I found this to be a comfortable disappearance. Here was a man for whom I had no respect disappearing probably because of ties with one or more crime families in a case that is still considered unsolved.

Except for the confession.

Turns out there was a confession, and many people now find it to be highly credible. Hoffa was apparently done in by someone he trusted and had frequently used as his own muscle in some of his shadier dealings. He either did not know or somehow overlooked the fact that this same man was himself a hit man. Poetic justice, methinks.

So, after literally decades of fanciful speculation and amateur detective work, the "truth" comes out in this hit man's own death-bed confession. I've never read the book, but if I get bored sometime I might look for it.

Apparently Hoffa was murdered the same night he was supposed to meet with Mafiosos to "clear the air" between them. Instead, he gets two bullets in the back of the head, and a quick ride to a local funeral home where he is incinerated and, presumably, scattered to the wind.

Mystery apparently solved.

I believe I'll miss it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

#322 - Well, No Wonder...

Christmas is coming. Rapidly. However, the internet shopping junkies have already been trolling for deals, and the Woundup keeps popping up on their radar screens.

I suppose that's because folks began coming here by accident looking for Woody's Roundup® toys and such. My apologies. As I mentioned before, you won't find anything here about the Roundup. That's partly because I'm too old for that stuff, partly because my Woodyettes just aren't interested in that stuff, and partly because I fear Disney® Lawyers™ far too much to even mention Woody's Roundup©™® with impunity.

No, shoppers, at the moment the only shopping advice you'll find here is why you should avoid Il Divo™®etc. According to the Cranky Reviewer, Il Divo (so I quit attributing... so sue me) causes brain cancer, infertility, and is responsible for single-handedly destroying civilization as we know it. Or something like that. The Cranky Reviewer's reviews frankly begin to run together in my fevered brain at this festive time of year.

So, anyway, sorry if you came here under false pretenses.

Merry Christmas©!

Monday, November 13, 2006

#321 - Life By Committee - Revisited

Dredging through Drudge this evening I came across a reference to a highly disturbing article. A Bishop in the Church of England has indicated that children who are severely deformed or disabled at birth should be allowed to die under certain circumstances. At first, this struck me as sounding awfully familiar. But there's a small difference in this case. Holland's Groningen Protocol actually codifies circumstances under which life should be terminated - effectively placing the Dutch government in the role traditionally assigned to God, or courts (as when dealing with convicted murderers). In this case, however, Anglican Bishop Tom Butler of Southwick appears to be arguing for a more traditional approach to this deeply emotional issue. He indicates that
...there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.
With this particular statement I actually agree. When writing about the Groningen Protocol, I recounted the story of a young couple with whom I was acquainted whose very premature baby was born with multiple deformities, none the least of which was a brain that had developed with no more than a stem. After long consultations with family, doctors, and local church leaders they made the painful decision to not attempt any extraordinary lifesaving procedures; not even a respirator, if memory serves. The baby lived barely a week, during which they snuggled her, named her, blessed her, bonded with her as best they could, and generally enjoyed this small life for as long as God had granted them. It was a very significant experience for me, and I learned much about how we should protect both the lives as well as the spiritual welfare of our children and loved ones. Their family "portrait" probably still hangs on their family picture wall.

Reading further, however, I found this rather chilling statement by the Reverend Bishop:
[The Bishop] has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions.
While I believe I know what prompted this statement, it unfortunately sounds far too Groningen-like for my taste.

Look, unless you're born rich or put off having children until you've made your pile, no one is ever ready for all the burden and responsibilities that go along with raising offspring. Even the rich ones have their challenges laid out for them, unless they prefer to abdicate everything to the care of their nanny. But the parent who, when presented with a desperately sick child, has as their first thought, "How will we pay for all of this?" is one who should have reconsidered becoming a parent in the first place.

Admittedly, I have only ever known a small handful of people who have had to go through these decisions in their own lives. Some, like the couple I mentioned previously, are friends. Others are extended family. A few are merely chance acquaintances. But in every single case when discussing the subject, their first and foremost thought was always, "What would be best for this child?" Thoughts of financial burden or worries about how to rearrange their lives to accomodate such a child are always secondary. For a true parent it has little to do with money or inconvenience, and everything to do with wishing - indeed, hoping against hope - that their precious baby didn't have to suffer so.

So while I think I understand that the Bishop was merely trying to provide some practical guidance in this instance, his concerns for financial considerations in what is already a highly emotionally charged decision for parents make the Anglican Church seem just a little cold-blooded.

It's not Groningen, but it could be.

#320 - More Public Service

To all you yahoos good people who arrive here looking for Woody's Drive-In in Salt Lake City, this link's for you.

I've visited Woody's a few times over the years. Mrs. Woody's brother happens to live in the area, and it's a sort of tradition for us. It's a cholesterol palace, but, hey, it's no Chuck-A-Rama either.

The food is pretty good and the atmosphere is friendly. Not a bad place to eat, but a heck of a commute from Anaheim, California.

#319 - Two Questions

(H/T: Dave Barry)

First, why is this considered news? This sort of thing happens all the time in the entertainment biz. This is why Trump invented pre-nups in the first place.

Second, whom does she think she's kidding?

Britney fears the raunchy footage will destroy her wholesome image[.]

She has a "wholesome image?"

[checks dictionary]

Umm... only if Bill Clinton is re-writing the dictionary. No, I believe Ms. Spears burned that particular bridge a looong time ago.

Makes for fun blog fodder, though.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

#318 - Who Really Won?

Silly question, of course. According to the ever-reliable "the Onion," the politicians won!


(H/T: Dave Barry)

#317 - Congratulations, Nancy and Howard!

Let me be the first to heartily congratulate the Democrats on their truly decisive victory in the House of Representatives. You have your absolute moral mandate. Good for you.

Not to pressure you, or anything, but I can't help thinking about Pelosi's First Hundred Days scenario. I've just been running back through some memes and threads over the past couple of years and wanted to point out to you what our expectations are, now that you're in power. I'll even be generous and give you two whole years:

1. You are not allowed to fail in Iraq. You can spin "fail" any way you wish, but failure is not an option. Certainly not based on what your expectations were while we were in control. If you have a plan for withdrawing our troops, now's the time. To be considered successful, however, let me remind you that at the same time you're bringing our troops home, the new Iraqi government must be able to continue to govern effectively for at least a few months after we leave. That will give you time to declare that it was Iraq's failure to govern and not our withdrawal that did absolutely nothing to ease the violence in that region.

2. Katrina must never again be allowed to happen. My goodness, the fuss you made over the government's multiple failures to deal with such devastation. So, I'm assuming that in the next two years you will not only have repaired the levee system, but will also have ensured that evacuation plans will not include having thousands of busses sit idle in a parking lot somewhere instead of using them to move people to higher ground.

3. Political corruption. Not allowed during your tenure. And we get to adjudicate your behavior by exactly the same standards you applied to Republicans. Fair?

4. Gay marriage. It goes without saying that one of your first orders of business will be to override the votes of people in all the states where they legally enacted protection of marriage laws. I just hope you're not expecting that we who voted for those laws will stand up and cheer when you do so. Please also do not act shocked when some of the more extreme elements of our party begin using the words "censure" and "impeachment" in conjunction with your name. This is not a threat, but merely a friendly warning.

5. Stem cell research. Just wanted you to make sure that when you pass stem cell research legislation, you have done so having already a complete knowledge of the true benefits of that research before you rush off to create (and then destroy) innocent lives. Note that I say "true benefits" rather than "political benefits." Really, we just might think a little less of you if those benefits turn out to be elusive.

6. Abortion. Now, just because I voted down our California initiative that would have required 48 hour notice to parents before terminating a minor's pregnancy, I don't want you to get the false impression that I somehow support abortion as a fundamental right. I believe I have made it abundantly clear in previous writings that I truly believe that elective abortion is a golden passport straight to Dante's seventh level. Although, since I imagine Hell to look a lot like the Capitol building, I suppose you'd be quite comfortable there.

7. Ooh! Let's not forget about the economy! Our expectations, now that Pelosi is the de facto empress of the nation, is that you will not only leave the economy in as good or better shape than it is now, but that you will also eliminate poverty and tax only the rich (defined as those people making more money than I do). You will also make it possible for corporations to continue to do business so they don't have to keep laying off thousands of workers every year.

8. Global warming. You will of course commit the United States to the Kyoto protocols, or whatever replaces them. This means that the United States will not only take the lead in eliminating global warming, but will also admit and apologize for having caused global warming in the first place. That means that, while you're busy keeping our economy on track, you will also be prepared to pay exorbitant amounts of money to developing nations who were callously destroyed by our negligence. We have a guilty conscience, after all.

9. Immigration. You have two years to resolve this thorny issue. Really, two years ought to be plenty of time, so long as we suddenly acquire a national backbone about our current revolving-door borders. May I point out that allowing thousands of people to cross our borders without control of any kind places us in a kind of double jeopardy? Sure, you have your potential terrorism problem, but there's also an economic angle to be considered here. Isn't it possible that those same rich people you plan to tax might get a little tired of supporting entire third-world nations within our own borders? You know how expensive health care is, for example. Just a thought. (I know I sound a tad cold-hearted on this one. My apologies. I just think it would be cheaper in the long run to simply help developing nations beef up their own health care rather than try to cure them here. Our doctors have better lawyers, and that's always more expensive.)

I could have added something about impeaching Bush, but I kind of see that as a waste of our time, don't you? I mean, we had Clinton dead to rights - in flagrante delecto so to speak - and wasted all that time in the trials rather than preventing 9/11. So I'll just leave the whole Bush-impeachment issue off the table for now. I'd suggest you'd do the same, but, hey, I'm not in power anymore.

Anyway that's it. It's not much more than we would ask of Santa Claus, really, except that Santa is more likely to deliver on his promises. I'm sure you understand; we just really don't want you guys to mess up now that you've got the ball.

#316 - Fun With Insomnia

Yet another thing you can do with insomnia is...


Of all the time-wasting nonsense. My only excuse is that I've had flu today (now going well into tomorrow) and I'm restless. I'll try to get some sleep now, but I just wanted you to know how much I suffer for my art.

Well, I don't so much suffer as mess around.

Actually, I'm avoiding housework for the most part.


#315 - Uncle Woody's Election Night Woundup - UPDATED

UPDATE: Whoops. Serves me right for speaking too early in the process. Turns out that I was overly optimistic about the state-wide offices.

Uncle Woody's final ballot initiative tally remains 5 out of 13. The two close ones (84 and 90) were decided not in Uncle Woody's favor. More bond debt and some private developer will soon be telling you to find lodgings somewhere else, thank you very much. Boo hoo.

Uncle Woody's final tally on the high-visibility offices of Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, and Insurance Commissioner was nearly commpletely wrong. Turns out Arnie will be getting in touch with his inner-Democrat as he works with Dems in all of those offices, except for Insurance Commissioner. 'Nother words, business as nearly usual here in the Golden State.

For all that, my "shoulder shrug" (as attributed by Way Off Bass) has not materially changed:
I realize it's obligatory for a Republican blogger to say something about today's election. What I'm really supposed to say, of course, is that I'm depressed, gonna slit my wrists, and move to, um, well, whatever nation has a strong conservative base today, and, um... gee. Can't think of one right off-hand. Cam mentioned Australia, but only because they have a PM with a backbone right now. The rest of the country is just as politically screwed up as we are.

Oh, well. No matter. Even though I'm supposed to wax suicidal over our apparent loss in the House, I just can't get too worked up over it. Really. So Pelosi is the Presumed Speaker now. So what? If she's busy in Washington, that means she's not paying too much attention to California, and that suits me just fine. Also, I can't say we didn't have this one coming. We've known for some time that anti-war sentiment would fester into a revenge/payback election in the mid-term, and it did. It was inevitable. Enough people are fed up with the Iraq situation that they're really hoping a Democratically controlled House will somehow be able to talk some sense into our international policy.

Fat chance, of course. To do that, they still need to elect a Democrat to the Big House in 2008, and right now they can't find a coherent enough voice to galvanize their base. If Romney doesn't foul himself up in the next two years, he could make things very uncomfortable for any Democratic front-runner. McCain ceased to be relevant to any conservative base a long time ago and is now only fit for news fodder.

But back to today. Those who actually bothered to read my "Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters" already know that Uncle Woody called 5 out of 13 ballot initiatives with 2 still close enough that no one can call 'em. The two, by the way, are the Parks (and other infrastructure) Bond initiative - #84 was leaning Y (against my N) at last count. Prop 90 was leaning N against my Y. 90 is the Eminent Domain initiative, and I think there are enough developers and business execs in this state to keep this one down. I'll probably lose this one.

The ones I pegged were: 1A (Transportation Fund Protection) - Y; 83 (Sex Offender Monitoring) - Y; 85 (Waiting Period & Parental Notification) - N; 87 (Alternative Energy Bureaucracy) - N (this is particularly satisfying because Bill Clinton appeared in numerous ads giving a doctored stump speech to urge its passage. Heh.); 89 (Campaign Reform) - N.

Of course I'm not losing sleep over the ones that got away. Most of them were either tax increases being voted down, or bond issues being approved. We just live in a state where the word "debt" is meaningless to far too large a portion of the population. The voting population, at any rate. I'm used to it now.

Locally the races ran exactly as anticipated. Our congressman ran unopposed in this district, so no surprise there. Schwarzenegger won against Angelides, and even though I'm no fan of the Muscle-Bound One, I'm far less a fan of the Fraudulent Huckster. Republican wins for Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, and Insurance Commissioner are also satisfying. In fact, of the statewide offices, the only head-scratcher is Jerry Brown (former "Governor Med Fly" Brown!) for Attorney General. His campaign ads called him "independent." Not since he left his father's house he isn't. Also, the man has never shown himself to be particularly tough on crime. He probably grows his own pot, but that may just be my personal hysteria speaking.

Uncle Woody's Bottom Line: No change. Really. Not one race that was either won or lost today will have any immediate impact on me or my family. Gas prices will go up or down depending on whether OPEC can quit squabbling long enough to limit production as they continually threaten. Public education will continue to become less and less relevant to my circumstances over time, unless someone begins to threaten my rights to homeschool. Nothing about that in this election, that I've heard or seen. My taxes will not be going up in the immediate future, unless Arnie listens to his Chiefette of Staff too much more.

Having Democrats in charge of the House only means that Bush now will have an excuse for his lame border-control policies. It also means that we will continue to hear partisan bickering over how and when to disengage ourselves from Iraq, with the Dems pushing harder than ever for their cut-and-run scenario. Bush is pretty much a lame duck now, but would have been with or without a Republican House for the next two years anyway.

Back to bed, citizens. Nothing to see here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

#314 - It's Coming!

I'm pretty sure the Book of Revelation names this as one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

#313 - Way Off Bass Reviews Christmas Albums

Not a moment too soon, too.

Cam and I are (arguably) musicians. That means that we not only have both performed in our fair share of Christmas concerts over the years, but we also have a fairly good-sized collection of Christmas music to help get us in the mood every year at about this time.

(This is a lie, actually. Unlike the annoyance we feel at Christmas muzak assaulting our senses at the mall a full month before we're ready for it, Christmas musicians begin dealing with Christmas music in September. What's more, we enjoy it. So, it was only a lie to say that Christmas hits us at this particular time of year. It was not a lie to say that we have good-sized collections. This has been your caveat emptor for this post. Thank you.)

Since Little Bro has remained single for a goodly portion of his adult life, it's safe to say that he has had, oh, ample opportunity to build up his collection. It's also safe to say that, good as my collection is, I still envy him his. Generally.

Anyway, check out the reviews WOB has posted thus far. I'll have to think about the "Cornets for Christmas" album, but I'm already looking for ways to drop broad hints to Mrs. Woody that her darling hubby would love to get his ears on the "Christmas Fantasy" album. I can always use another recording of "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" and I, too, love the Warlock "Bethlehem Down." I first became acquainted with Warlock's music in high school, and I've been a devotee ever since.

Seasonal Greetings!

#312 - Ad Hominem Kerry

Good ol' John Kerry. Like my brother, I really miss Kerry from a blogging perspective. The man just reeks of opportunities for snarky posting of the highest caliber. He is one of the reasons the Woundup came into being in the first place. (Well, that, and not wanting my brother to have all the fun.)

Kerry, for his part, has not left us bereft of material. Although other things have occupied my mind and column space of late, Mr. Kerry has once again managed to prompt at least one more post.

Kerry's blab about our "uneducated" military backfires for a couple of reasons. I work with many, many military and ex-military individuals who are as sharp as any MBA's I've ever met. Not a few of them actually happen to be MBA's, as well as a decent smattering of post-graduate degrees from all the academic disciplines.

By the same token, many of the people I work with who had military careers are, like myself, relatively uneducated. That is, they never pursued their college studies. They opted instead to enter the workplace and prove themselves as being just as capable and intelligent - indeed perhaps more so in many cases - than their "educated" counterparts.

Whether college grads or not, they chose military careers for many reasons, none the least of which was receiving assistance with their schooling. The fact that they loved their country enough to have wanted to serve is, I think, one of the burrs under Kerry's saddle, but that's fodder for another post.

But Kerry himself is germaine to the point of this post: Lack of a formal education is no indicator of intelligence or ability. Mr. Kerry likewise proves that neither is having an education any guarantee of smarts. (Appendix A would be John Murtha.)

Keep talking, John. It always does our side a world of good.

Monday, October 30, 2006

#311 - The Curmudgeon's Prayer

UPDATE: Howdy and welcome to all you Junkyard Blogites. Enjoy your visit!

It's nearly 3:30 AM here on the left coast, and I have insomnia. Bad insomnia. I'm about to try to lay down and sleep and will hope against hope that my boss wasn't expecting to see my shiny forehead physically in the office today. I still plan to report to work, mind you, but the line between working virtually and virtually working will be much, much thinner today.

In the meantime, if I were one to recite prayers, this is one I might consider:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
My baggy eyes are sunken deep.
If I should wake with my alarm
I plan to do the darn'd thing harm.

I'll throw it 'gainst the wall at first.
I'll want to hear its innards burst.
(If there is justice in this life,
I'll not wake up my sleepy wife.)

And should I "Snooze" and not "Disarm"
I'll have to shoot my old alarm
Who's been with me through thick and thin.
A .38 should do it in.

Yet, since I've aged a bit of late
and even though the clock I hate,
I'm sure come morn all will be well
'cause I'll likely sleep straight through the bell.


#310 - And the Site Meter Says...

I enjoy looking through the referrals to the Woundup as tracked by Site Meter. They really do yield some surprises from time to time, and show just how many ways - both accidental and deliberate - people come across this blog.

For instance, say "Howdy" to Scrummager over at He was nice enough to place me on his Blog Roll, and I have reciprocated. Don't know much about him yet, except that he appears to be a retired law enforcement type who's enjoying his life in Sanford, Florida. He also claims to hold the ranking of 17,234,675 at Technorati which, he claims, are still better odds than the Florida lottery.


I apologize to the poor soul who ended up here whilst looking for Woody's Roundup® toys. I mean, this person had to be desperate. I was on page 8 on Yahoo! and the summary under the link said nothing about toys. Well, that's not strictly true. I did refer to North Korea's playing around with dangerous "tinker toys," but I also used the word "nuclear" in that context.

Is it that time of year already? Woody'd better get on the ball.

Not buried quite so deep on AOL's search engine ("Powered by Google!") was the Cranky Reviewer's review of Il Divo. You remember, don't you? Cam compared the Il Divo Christmas "collection" favorably with William Shatner's "The Transformed Man." Oh, yeah, that review! The search string, by the way, was "IL DIVO FOR HIRE." One shudders at the portent of this phrase.

Meanwhile, the search phrase "homeschooled cover face spelling bee" on Google scored my riposte of CBS' "special report" on homeschooling that aired in October of '03. Oddly enough, CBS never fails to find fault with homeschooling in general, and Christian homeschoolers in particular. But then, if the current crop of CBS "journalists" are all the product of public education, that may well explain a few things.

Finally, I apparently have ensnared more than a few innocents with my ever-popular (in my own mind) Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters. All Uncle Woody can say is, if young conservatives in California are looking to Uncle Woody for advice as to how to vote this November, this country is in for ginormous trouble. I'm flattered, really, young people. But do us all a favor... figure it out for yourselves! I have enough to feel guilty for, if some of my detractors are correct.

Oh, one more before I go; apparently some operative was checking on sources for links to Dick Mountjoy's official campaign website. For you history buffs, waaaay back in May I posted a piece about the laughable state of California's Republican office seekers, particularly Mr. Mountjoy. Apparently, whomever was checking for links to their boss's site found my little missive. Whether they read it or even took it seriously remains to be seen. I can tell you, however, that my opinions have not changed since May. Mountjoy is without question the single most invisible Republican candidate we've ever had for US Senator. I'd be tempted to write "Dick WHO??" on the ballot, except that we're electronic here in Orange County and I'm afraid that Hugo Chavez will laugh at me, or call me "the Devil," or whatever it is our little unhinged neighbor to the extreme south does these days.

Blogs. Gotta love 'em.

Friday, October 27, 2006

#309 - This Is Precisely Why...

...we are not a cat family.

#308 - Why We Homeschool (Reason 429)

Bullet-proof textbooks.

I'm serious. A candidate for Oklahoma State School Superintendent by the name of Bill Crozier really wants to pursue this idea, whether he wins the election or not.

My first reaction was to laugh out loud. I really couldn't help myself. The thought of kids and teachers in a Columbine-type setting crouching behind their textbooks or trying to decide which vital body part to cover with them was just a little too ludicrous for my warped sense of humor.

Then, of course, as I related this story to Mrs. Woody, I realized that it's really my sense of horror that we even need to consider such a thing that is my overriding reaction. In fact, it was the memory of Columbine and numerous other shooting tragedies that sobered me up pretty quickly.

I just can't see this idea adding any real protection to kids around the country. For one thing, it will drive the already prohibitive cost of educational texts sky high. Can you just hear the order clerk? "Will that be with or without the armor-piercing-resistant cover?" For another, I have a hard time imagining that kids are going to take time to think about hiding behind a textbook while in the midst of an all-out panic. How much would a bullet-resistant textbook weigh in comparison with today's glorified paper-weights? Think the kids are having back pains today? Just wait.

All I know is that guns are not an issue here at Wonderwood Academy. Neither, fortunately, are bullet-proof textbooks.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

#307 - In Case You Missed It

Yesterday was declared by our president as "United Nations Day 2006." I know there may have been a few of you who missed that important date, so let me just say that we here at the Woundup celebrated by waking up, getting showered and dressed, and driving twenty six miles to Seal Beach to give a fifteen minute briefing on a tool that I, er, we did not build. How's that for international diplomacy?

In all seriousness, let's pause for a few moments to recognize the U. N. for everything they've contributed over the past six decades:

1. They, um, they... give me a minute... Okay, they've been squatting on perfectly good land in New York City that otherwise would have become tenement apartments by now. They are welcome.

2. They also get nifty license plates that pretty much allow them to park on the same sidewalks where NY taxis are trying to drive.

3. They spend a fair amount of time vetoing anything the United States puts forward for discussion.

4. They keep Kofi Annan from participating directly in his family scandals.

5. Let's not forget serving as a platform for every U.S.-hating socialist who carries a grudge and a picture of Cindy Sheehan in his wallet.

I know I sure feel grateful.

#306 - There's Gambling, and Then...

Cox and Forkum's latest.

So the Fed is restricting online gambling. Big hairy deal. Hey, it's no skin off my teeth since I'm no fan of gambling. It's not entertainment, it's an addiction. Period. (For you who disagree, please refer to Woody's Woundup Rules of Engagement, section 3, paragraph 12 which states, "My blog... my opinion. Your opinion? Your blog.")

That said, here's the ironic quote of the day: (from the evidently omniscient Ayn Rand Institute)
"Why do supporters of the law deny individuals the freedom to spend their hard-earned money on gambling? Because, they say, people will bet and lose more than they can afford. In other words, individuals are inherently incapable of making rational decisions, and thus it is the government's job to protect us from ourselves. This vicious, paternalistic idea has no place in a free society."

I'll lay odds that whoever wrote that has a standing account with Trump in Atlantic City.

So, let me get this straight. People apparently want to restrict some people's rights to gamble away their hard-earned money. This I understand. But they turn to the Federal Government to do that? This is a "rational decision?"

Isn't that, like, fighting fire with gasoline?

Just askin'.

Monday, October 23, 2006

#305 - Campaign Wall of Shame

So it's not just the water in New York. Here in Orange County we have our own candidates who are guilty by association (or otherwise).

Part of the problem is that these turkeys are so intent on hitting all the current political "hot buttons," that they conveniently forget to keep their collective noses clean during the campaign.

Or could it be (he wonders out loud) that the GOP are really just executing a cleverly designed exit strategy so they can blame the Dems when nothing works as advertised in the next two years?

Nah... that's too cynical, even for a life-long Republican.

#304 - Another One Bites the Dust...

(via Drudge)

John Spencer, the GOP challenger to Hillary Clinton, just proved two maxims of mine:

1. Politicians are physiologically incapable of shutting their mouths when it's absolutely necessary. If there's any space in a politician's mouth, his or her foot will be inserted at the most inopportune (or, if you're on the other side of the argument, opportune) time.

2. Career politicians are rarely worth the money they print. Really. Incendiary members of Congress have never (repeat: never) been good for anything except a media circus. Spencer may as well go back to being a local crime party boss, or whatever it was he did for a living before becoming a professional idiot.

Freedom of speech occasionally can and will work against the speaker.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

#303 - Another Voter Guide

The Fetching One has published her own voter guide. We don't agree on everything, but she has the right idea. Read 'em and decide. Then vote. I tend now to automatically throw away every single election junk mail that comes to my box. Mrs. Woody and I have a tradition of sitting down prior to the election, going through the official pamphlet and making our choices. Then we vote.

#302 - Reactionary Blogging

It always amuses me to see the level of reaction to the published word. My amusement stems from the fact that I happen to be a performer. That is, I spend quite a bit of time on stage (although not as much lately... must be getting old) and am always looking for the right delivery. What works in a visual/audio communication does not always (one might even say generally) translate well into the spoken word.

My previous post is case in point.

Perhaps a little background would be in order. My father was a card-carrying curmudgeon. He could snarl like no one I've ever met, either before or since. Naturally, my brother and I have both taken on aspects of Dad's personality in our own lives, and we both tend to snarl a bit in our communications with others.

As an example, whenever we would watch TV news with Dad, we would listen to some story of wrongdoing and Dad would snarl from his chair, "That's precisely why we need public floggings." I don't believe for a second that Dad would ever have been comfortable with having public floggings reinstated in this country (or anywhere else, for that matter), but we who loved him understood both the genesis and the intent of his comments. What he was really saying was that, as a society, we have gone far too soft on criminals. He knew perfectly well that the Savior advocated hating the sin but loving the sinner. However, when you're at home and in a relaxed (somewhat, anyway) setting, your natural thoughts - the ones you tend to keep locked away when you're in the public eye - will often surface. And with Dad, they surfaced like a submarine doing an emergency breach.

The actor in me loved that curmudgeonly aspect of Dad's personality. I even, on occasion, use it with my kids, but always in a kidding manner. My girls have finally gotten used to that (far fewer meltdowns now when I try it!), and even my co-workers know me well enough to rarely take me seriously unless they see one of the warning signs. If I'm snarling, but my face isn't beet-red, then they're safe.

So back to my post. I wrote that immediately after becoming aware of the incident. A man - one of those leeches whom I am required to love - forced himself upon a 15 month old child. Such an act, if memory serves, ranks among the most heinous of crimes for which some forgiveness can still be expected (at some point), but is still one for which full restitution can never be achieved in this life. Not in my view, at any rate. Hence my rather reactionary post, with all the righteous indignation expressed to me in the comments that followed.

Too bad no one could see me snarl when I wrote that.

There are lessons to be learned here, of course. One is that the written word has a far-reaching impact that goes beyond mere delivery technique. In other words, as an actor I receive immediate feedback from my performance. I can tell whether what I've just said had the desired effect. Most of the time, at any rate. But the written word is different; it stands for all time (especially in this day of the internet!) as evidence of what you think. Whether I was actually serious about the death penalty (and I still think there is some merit to adding crimes of this type to the list) for this person will never be known strictly from reading what was written. Would I myself ever be capable of taking another person's life? I simply don't know. I'd like to think that, if it came down to having to defend my family, I might. But I have no way of knowing, and I really don't want to find out. That's one of the primary reasons why I never joined the military. There was always the thought in the back of my mind that I might actually, at some point, be called upon to take someone else's life. Why I would think that way, yet support having others' lives taken to satisfy the demands of justice is something I cannot explain, but I do.

The other lesson would be knowing the danger that comes from taking even the written word at face value. The primary example here would be the traditional press - the so-called "mainstream media" - that for so long has dominated the world of communication. We learn now that our fears of bias in the press were not only well-founded, but that this bias has grown over the past few decades. It has grown to the point where very little of what they write adds any value to my own life, as I would never espouse the ideals they try to pass off as wisdom. Yet many people do take them at face value, and the result is an ever-increasing polarization in our society.

(I am not naive enough to believe that this is the only reason for that polarization, but it sure counts as one huge factor.)

So it is here at the Woundup. There are three rules for "enjoying" this blog. First, this is a rant blog. I tend to use it to be the public face of my faux-snarling personality that I don't tend to show people in real life. Secondly, as a result of the first rule, I would wish that folks not take this blog any more seriously than they would, say, the World Weekly News. Really. Those that know me well know which posts to take seriously. The rest of you just throw a few grains of salt at the screen and relax. Third, remember, please, that Woody does not ever attempt to claim to be an expert at anything. Not on this blog, at any rate. If I can claim expertise in anything, it's in being a Dad, for which I have a completely different (both in style and in scope) blog. If you want to see Woody's spiritual, family-friendly side, go visit The Inner Dad. The rest of what I do here is strictly my opinion. Or, perhaps more accurately, what my opinion would be if I weren't such a darn'd good ol' Mormon boy.

So, to Curtis, Dan, and a few Anonymous types I would say, "blog on." Heck, I wouldn't write this stuff if I didn't think I could get an occasional rise out of people, and I'm glad to see you guys have got your thought processes well entrenched. If I disagree with you, I hope I at least do so politely.

Cheers, from your loving (and curmudgeonly) Uncle Woody

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#301 - Why I Still Support the Death Penalty

Via Drudge.

This man would be my Exhibit A. (STRONG WARNING: Do not click unless you're in a mood to be enraged! The man is alleged to have done sick things with a 15 month old, then post it on the internet.)

This presupposes, of course, that the man is actually guilty. If so, you know where Woody stands.


#300 - Concert I Wish I Could Attend

The Los Angeles Bach Festival (73rd annual!) opens this Sunday at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, and one of these years I'd like to be able to take the time and just go. If I had my pick of concerts, I'd attend the closer for this year's Festival. Alexander Ruggieri will be conducting the Los Angeles Bach Festival Choir & Orchestra in Bach's "Mass in B-Minor."

The B-minor was my first real experience with Bach as a teenager when I was privileged to perform it with the (then) Ventura County Master Chorale. Quite a way to kick off my career as an amateur choir boy.

The B-minor is possessed of the kinds of stirring polyphonics that Bach reserved for his epic works, and it firmly cemented my desire to pursue classical vocal music as a hobby. (Actually, this is a lie. I had intended to make it a vocation, but let the schooling required for such a task intimidate me. Never got there. So it remains my number one hobby.)

Not coincidentally, one of my favorite works is being conducted by one of my favorite conductors. Alexander Ruggieri is an incredible music director - one I would gladly sing for again given the opportunity. I can only imagine what he'll be able to accomplish with the power of the Festival at his disposal. Alexander is currently the Minister of Music for First Congo, so he also serves as host for the event.

It was under Alexander that I (finally!) reached my vocal prime. Such as it is. It was his ability to teach without condescending that allowed me to learn just enough technique to be able to fake my way through some better-than-average choirs and not make a fool out of myself.

Anyway, if you're anywhere near Los Angeles on the 29th and have $19 to spare ($30, if you want prime seating), I'd attend this one. I would, if time and budget permitted.

The B-minor is not to be missed if it can be helped.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

#299 - Election Thoughts

I've been reading 'round the blogosphere in the wake of the recent Foley blowout, and find the posts over at Hugh Hewitt to be fairly typical of current Republican fears.

Talk centers around voters having a long memory where scandals are concerned, although I would assert that Democrats must have much shorter memories, given their continuing love affairs with Clinton and his cronies. Still, I'm hopeful that in this election, people like Foley (who has already stepped down) will be less on the minds of the electorate than a certain Nuclear Loon who sits across the ocean playing with a particularly dangerous set of Tinker Toys.

Bottom line, folks: If you have any concern for our national defense, voting Democrat is not the way to go. While there a few (VERY few) exceptions, they do not have the defense of our borders or our way of life uppermost on their minds. They have only retreat and appeasement on their agenda. I've worked in the defense industry for over 20 years, and I have never found Democrats to be a friend to the industry unless we threatened to take jobs out of their districts.

Neither party has a lock on ethics. Neither party can claim the upper hand on morals or virtue. If I had my way, the entire Congress would be booted out and handed over to people who can make such claims. But that's not likely to happen in my lifetime, so I'll continue to vote for those who come closest to guaranteeing my safety.

So vote for whom you will in November. Chances are you'll get exactly what you deserve.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

#298 - Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters - 2006 Edition

Updated for the February 5 Primary here.

[As the election looms ever near, I suddenly find that many people come here having searched for a "conservative voter guide" in, I'm assuming, California. No doubt you were looking for a responsible, well-researched, knowledgeable guide. This is not that guide. You could try Flash Report, but only if you understand lawyers. Heaven knows I don't.

This guide is merely my own missive detailing how I - a lone conservative voice in the wilderness - intend to vote this Tuesday. If it provides any entertainment value, you're welcome. If it annoys you, I apologize.

Election time is upon us once again, boys and girls. I know you all look forward to this election with as much joy and anticipation as that root canal you'll be getting next week, and Uncle Woody wants to share in that joy with you.

Of course, living in California, we have what we call "Propositions" or ballot initiatives. We have propositions because our legislature and governor are incapable of doing their jobs, so they need us to do it for them. There are only thirteen initiatives this year (lucky 13!), so Uncle Woody once again offers his "Curmudgeon's Guide for Young Conservative Voters" for this 2006 mid-term election.

Of course, this is only a guide, boys and girls. You may feel differently about some of these initiatives than Uncle Woody does, and that's okay. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong-headed their thinking may be. Uncle Woody should also mention that he has not yet run this guide by Auntie Mrs. Woody, so his own opinions may change before we actually have the chance to vote.

So, boys and girls, pop some Reddenbacher®, sit back, and let Uncle Woody guide you through the mysteries of this year's ballot measures:

1A - Transportation Funding Protection
1B - Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006
1C - Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006
1D - Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2006
1E - Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Bond Act of 2006

Uncle Woody wants to like the 1A through 1E initiatives; he really does. They sound like very important measures that will provide some desperately needed money for our crumbling infrastructure. Of the bunch, though, the only one Uncle Woody can support is 1A. Why, you ask? Because 1A is the only one that doesn't require issuing bonds to fund it.

Uncle Woody doesn't much care for bond measures, because bonds are really just a way of deferring the debt for a period of time, with no real guarantees that we'll have the money to pay them off later. And if investors got cranky enough, they could cause the state a lot of grief. Did you boys and girls happen to read the "Overview of State Bond Debt" in the voter information guide? Well, Uncle Woody did, and for him it reads like the screenplay for "Fatal Attraction." And Uncle Woody never even saw the movie.

Bond measures are, for the most part, evil, boys and girls, and Uncle Woody advises against them. Especially in this election. Uncle Woody really wants to know what the state has been doing with all the money that California voters have been giving or granting them for the past several decades. Until they can reassure Uncle Woody that they're really doing what they promised to do, Uncle Woody thinks they need to sell a few more of their personal Hummers to finance some of these measures, if you get Uncle Woody's drift.

83 - Sex Offenders, Sexually Violent Predators, Punishment, Residence Restrictions and Monitoring

Yes! Yes! Yes! A hundred times YES! Uncle Woody thinks that, in the absence of public castrations, tougher restrictions on registered offenders will have to do. The only thing Uncle Woody could see that would improve this measure is physically welding those GPS locators on some sensitive portion of the offenders' anatomy, but you can't have everything.

84 - Water Quality, Safety and Supply. Flood Control. Natural Resource Protection. Park Improvements. Bonds.

Can you boys and girls guess how Uncle Woody might vote here? NO, of course. Listen, Uncle Woody is all for improving our water quality. Uncle Woody has been purchasing bottled water for years now (since moving to Anaheim, where Disney has done nothing to improve the water in this area!), and will continue to do so for as long as local water tastes like something that should have stayed flushed the first time. Flood control? You bet. Uncle Woody happens to live in a flood zone, and does worry about that. Protecting our "natural resources" (Hollywood does NOT count), and improving our parks? Go team. But, here again, BONDS are required to do all of this. Hey, Uncle Woody has a better suggestion: Let's just add another 3 or 4 dollars' tax onto every bottle of beer sold in this state, and see what that does. You boys and girls shouldn't be drinking that stuff, anyway. You'll thank Uncle Woody in the long run. Really.

85 - Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy.

The fact that we even need such a measure bothers Uncle Woody. A lot. And the worst part is that it does not deny the performance of an abortion, it only defers it for 48 hours. Abortion is something that makes Uncle Woody very, very sad, boys and girls. Uncle Woody would much rather talk about abstinence, personal responsibility, and improving adoption laws already on the books. But no, we have to decide whether to make teenagers wait for 48 hours before going ahead with an abortion, whether Mom and Dad agree or not.

Uncle Woody votes NO. Not because Uncle Woody thinks his girls should have immediate access to an abortion, but because anyone would think that such an abortion is acceptable under any but the most grievous circumstances. Uncle Woody thinks we should be spending much more energy on helping our girls stay pure until they're old enough to truly decide for themselves.

86 - Tax on Cigarettes

See Uncle Woody's comments regarding such a tax on beer under Proposition 84 above. Of course Uncle Woody wants to tax someone $2.60 extra per pack. Uncle Woody is not altogether convinced that the money will end up where they say it will (Uncle Woody hasn't believed our money ever goes where it's promised since we approved the Lottery in this state), but Uncle Woody will think it's worth it if it drives one more person to for heaven's sake GIVE UP THE HABIT.

87 - Alternative Energy. Research, Production, Incentives. Tax on California Oil Producers

Uncle Woody votes NO on Prop 87, but not for the reasons put foward by the oil industry. Remember Uncle Woody's basic premise: governments and bureaucracies need to be more accountable with the money we already give them. Taxing the oil companies an additional $4 billion with no guaranteed reductions on fossil fuel use is really just pie-in-the-sky thinking. In other words, if Uncle Woody's going to get hit at the pump (and, despite assurances by pro-87 forces to the contrary, we will get hit at the pump), Uncle Woody wants it to be for some actual project. Say, for example, the $4 billion were specifically earmarked for building more hydrogen refueling stations across the state, with a portion used to incentivize car makers in developing lower-cost hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. THAT Uncle Woody would vote for. For now... no plan, no vote.

88 - Education Funding. Real Property Parcel Tax

Uncle Woody is of two minds on this one, boys and girls. Uncle Woody wants you young people to stay in school, certainly, and Uncle Woody would love to know that you boys and girls are in a safe, moderate environment where you get plenty of attention from your teachers. This measure is supposed to raise Uncle Woody's property taxes by $50 a year, which would raise something like $450 million to be distributed throughout the state. Big hairy deal. Uncle Woody is pretty sure that $450 million a year would barely cover the costs of all those whiny commercials that the California Teachers Association put out begging for more money every week.

Still, even though Uncle Woody is a homeschooler and doesn't have union troubles to deal with, Uncle Woody also feels it to be his civic duty to make sure that we have public schools available, and that they are as current and safe as can be. Uncle Woody votes YES for this one. You're welcome.

89 - Political Campaigns. Public Financing. Corporate Tax Increase. Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Limits

Uncle Woody smells dead fish here, boys and girls. Campaign reform laws have not worked at the national level, and Uncle Woody sure as heck can't see them working at a state level, either. Uncle Woody recognizes that holding candidates responsible for their ethics (or, more generally, lack thereof) is very important, but here's the lesson: If you boys and girls want to have a reputation for being honorable and responsible, don't become politicians.

Uncle Woody votes NO. The fish ain't getting any deader.

90 - Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property

Uncle Woody supports this initiative. Strongly. For the past several years, Uncle Woody has looked on in horror while people have had their lives turned upside down merely because a city wants to "revitalize" some portion of the town. Uncle Woody thinks that eminent domain has its place, but that place should only be for extraordinary circumstances. Certainly they should have the option of condemning properties that pose a threat to the health or safety of the community. But taking a person's property merely to "develop" that property for revenue is - among other things - selfish, greedy, and unnecessary. Don't be like the government, boys and girls. Care about your neighbors. Uncle Woody votes NO.

That's it, boys and girls. You can cut this guide out and take with you for something to read while you wait in line to vote next month. (Like that's ever happened where you live.) Uncle Woody is proud of you for voting this year. (You are voting this year, right??) Uncle and Auntie Mrs. Woody want you to be responsible voters. Of course, where candidates are concerned, you boys and girls are on your own. Whichever sex-scandal-plagued, ethically-breached candidate or party you belong to, you have your Aunt and Uncle's condolences. Do your best, and Uncle Woody will still love you.

Unless you vote against Uncle Woody. Then you're out of the will.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

#297 - Questions Republican Candidates Must Ask (UPDATED)

Fetching Jen comes up with 15 questions for liberals, and receives some interesting responses. How would you answer them?

UPDATE: I get answers, too. Interesting how my more innocuous pieces - pieces where I do none of the work - generate more comment traffic than the ones to which I actually give some thought.

#296 - The NEA (National Educators Anonymous) - UPDATED

Mrs. Woody is plugged into a homeschool news list that keeps track of items of interest to homeschoolers, or educators in general. We, of course, are "dedicated" (read: insane) homeschoolers, which means that we are constantly looking over our shoulders to see what our state and local officials are up to. We watch them nearly to the exclusion of all other agencies and it's sometimes easy to forget that one group in particular - the national union - has more of a say in educational matters than I will ever be comfortable with. I refer, of course, to the National Education Association, and they are (for my taste) more dangerous than Hoffa's Teamsters have ever been.

Their current hot-button campaign is related to dropout rates among the nation's high schools. (At some point, I guess, they might address the nation's junior high dropout rates, but we have to credit them for starting somewhere.) They have developed - get your wallets out! - a twelve point action plan that, given enough resources (read: your tax dollars) should go a long way toward improving students' chances for graduation.

Allow me to summarize the 12-Step Program... um, 12-step...

Boy, does that sound familiar...

Sorry. Anyway, here is a summarized version of:
NEA's 12 Dropout Action Steps:

1. Mandate high school graduation or equivalency as compulsory for everyone below the age of 21.

The only thing worse than compelling a child to learn at a government standard pace is compelling them to graduate by a federally mandated age. I have never liked "No Child Left Behind" precisely because I don't believe the government is smart enough to determine just how old Johnny should be when he begins to read. Or do math. Or dissect frogs. I homeschool precisely because I know my children well enough to know when they're ready to learn those things. The government will never be that smart. Ever.
2. Establish high school graduation centers for students 19-21 years old

Aaaah. Everyone say it with me: "More schools require more teachers! More teachers require more funding! More funding requires that some other program(s) be cut from the budget!" No matter, so long as their almighty union grows. The NEA uses the term "specialized instruction" to describe this step. Specialists tend to cost even more money than generalists, last time I paid any attention. Speaking of which:
3. Make sure students receive individual attention

Now they want to push lower class sizes all the way to down to 18. Can't do that without MORE TEACHERS, ER, MONEY. Can you?
4. Expand students' graduation options

Hm. Whenever I see the phrases "creative partnerships" and "alternative schools" in the same paragraph, I instantly think of "designer graduation requirements." The professional educators have shown themselves incapable of standardizing on a single set of graduation requirements. What makes them think they'll be any more successful in managing multiple standards?
5. Increase career education and workforce readiness programs in schools

This puts me in mind of the old "Career Development" programs they tried on us in the 70's. I kept taking so-called "aptitude" tests, and consistently (I mean, every single year) those tests told me I should be a physical therapist. Either I was lying, or they were. Now I'm a computer geek. Whom do I blame for that??
6. Act early so students do not drop out

Ya think?? That's a brilliant line of thought, except for one small problem. This is where they continue to tout "universal preschool" and "full-day kindergarten" (high quality, of course!) along with any number of other programs designed to rob a child of its childhood forever. For heaven's sake, what is wrong with letting a kid be a kid?
7. Involve families in students' learning at school and at home

This sounds suspiciously like something we in the church tout all the time, except for two worries: First, they use the term "new and creative ways" which always means "more expensive." Second, nowhere do they address any of the real societal pressures that make involvement so difficult. Things like: both parents working outside of the home; gang influences; self-destructive popular culture, and so on. Show me a comprehensive, sensible solution to those problems, and then I'll be impressed.
8. Monitor students' academic progress in school
9. Monitor, accurately report, and work to reduce dropout rates

Haven't schools been trying to do just this for decades now? I mean, it hasn't worked so far... what makes the NEA so sure it'll work now? If anything, the word "monitor" in union-speak always (and I mean: always) means "bureaucracy." Which, I'm sure, would be staffed by more professional educators, yes?

By the way, read the full paragraph for step 9 carefully. Is it just me, or doesn't that smack a little of profiling?
10. Involve the entire community in dropout prevention

Give the NEA an A+ for effort on this one. This step I can actually get behind and enthusiastically support. I'm all for making it easier for parents to attend conferences with teachers, and community involvement in the learning process. I've seen examples of such things in many communities, and think some things (like the release time from work policy) ought to be encouraged nationally. Go team.
11. Make sure educators have the training and resources they need to prevent students from dropping out

Well, duh. Nothing new here... that's what we send educators to school to learn, no? As for resources... well, as my ex-teacher wife might say, there's never enough of those. However, using my ex-teacher wife as an example, I could also say that the best resources she brought to the classroom were the ones she created herself, using little more than her imagination, her talents, and some relatively inexpensive materials. I'm not saying she didn't spend a lot of money as a teacher - certainly she never made more than a pittance compared to many industries. However, what she did, she did out of love for her students. That made all the difference. It makes even more of a difference in our little completely-self-funded homeschool today.
12. Make high school graduation a federal priority

Finally we get to the bottom line where the NEA is concerned. Give us $10 billion a year for the next 10 years or you'll never see your education again! And if your state doesn't toe our nationally-mandated line, we'll withhold your funding! BWAAHAHAhAHahahahah! All your education are belong to us!


Really, if they wanted to build a twelve step program, whatever happened to admitting you have a problem, praying to God to know his will concerning the problem, and having a spiritual awakening?

Now, that's a twelve step program!

BY THE WAY... lest you get the impression that Mrs. Woody is not actually still a teacher; nothing could be further from the truth. When I called her an "ex-teacher," what I meant was "ex-professional-teacher." Now, as a homeschooler, she has found a much more rewarding career as an educator, and her credentials have never held more power than they do today. The only difference is that we don't call her "teacher." We call her "Mom."

UPDATE: Mrs. Woody gently reminds me that, love me though she does, she is most definitely a professional educator. It is, after all, her life's calling. What she really is, she still gently reminds me, is an ex-public school-teacher. One might even call her a recovering public school teacher, if I may further flog the overworked analogy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

#295 - Some Semblance of Justice

Let's all take a quick mid-term election break, shall we? I mean, we can't get much uglier than the powers-that-wanna-be have already gotten, so let's get down to business with something that actually affects regular people.

Many years ago, when disabled parking tags were first introduced to society and disabled parking got (in my immature mind) annoyingly close to building entrances, I realized that there was actual merit to what I still perceived to be overreaching interference from our government at all levels. In fact, within a year or two at most I counted myself one of the ordinance's strictest adherents.

There were reasons, of course. I had elderly grandparents who needed such accomodations. It brought some comfort that they, who were always independently-minded, would be able to park close enough to their destinations that they would have ready access to any services.

Also, I became highly sensitized to the idea of not abusing the disabled parking spaces for any reason. Truly. No matter how desperately I might want that blue-coded space during the Christmas rush, I never took it. I think there was only one instance where I realized belatedly that I had taken such a space, but it was only because the blue paint had all but faded completely away and wasn't clearly visible until I backed out and the sun had shifted. And I was extremely embarrassed about it.

With that for background, you might imagine how incensed I get whenever someone does abuse that parking, for any reason. So imagine now how I felt when I walked out of Rite-Aid this evening (middle ear infection, if you must know) and saw a Sheriff's squad car sitting directly across from where I was parked. (Yeah, okay; I have a guilty conscience. My first reaction was, "what have I done now?") Fortunately, he didn't seem interested in me.

In fact, as I got closer to my car, the deputy got out of his car, walked around the car opposite me, and I finally realized what he was looking at. The SUV ("An SUV! Yeesss!") was parked in a handicapped slot, and did not have the disabled placard properly displayed. I did a cursory look myself as I passed by, and there was nothing hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Of course I exulted. You know how you're driving down the freeway and some nit in a Lexus decides he's rich enough to take the right shoulder while the rest of you peons crawl toward the nearest available exit and the following words race through your brain (and I quote): "Where's the Highway Patrol when you really need 'em?" Well, this was the Highway Patrol chasing the Lexus. This was an officer of the law looking in the window of a much-more-expensive-SUV-than-I-could-ever-afford and not finding an appropriate disabled placard hanging from the mirror.

I have such a placard in my car. Mrs. Woody has some mobility challenges, and her doctor agreed they warranted having a "permanent" placard that we can use. But there are restrictions. It is only to be used when I have Mrs. Woody in the car with me. I can't use it strictly for myself, because I'm not the one who needs it. If I parked in such a spot, hanging the placard as my "Get Out of Jail Free" card, and someone noticed that I didn't look terribly disabled, I could face legal trouble. So I am very scrupulous about not using the placard even though I have one.

Score one for the good guys today, I guess.

But I must tell you: the deputy seemed in no hurry to write a ticket on this vehicle. In fact, after he made that initial walk-around, he stayed parked immediately behind the SUV. As I drove away it occurred to me that he was going to wait for awhile and see if the owner came out. I suspect there would be a conversation to determine the facts. Do you or do you not have a placard? I see. Just forgot to display it? Fine. May I see it? Oh, so you don't have one...? You get the idea.

Perhaps that was it. Maybe it was simply an oversight. I mean, I can't tell you how many times we've parked at church and forgotten to display the placard. Usually one of us remembers after a moment or two and I race back out to display it. Fortunately, everyone there knows us and there's no question that we need the parking.

But I think that, more than the thought that someone may actually have been caught red-handed, it was the thought that this officer cared enough to stop, see the infraction, and then wait to ascertain the actual facts before issuing either a citation or a warning that made me feel good about this scenario. Even if he was called to the scene by someone else, this is something that would be altogether too easy to overlook and take for granted.

I sure try not to, but I know it can happen.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

#294 - Big Bad eBay?

I should know better, really. I'm on vacation, doggone it, and I should just know better than to visit email or blogs while I'm trying so hard to relax. (Relaxation, it turns out, is hard work. Go figure.)

Still, this item on ran me through the gamut of emotional responses, until my relaxation hormones kicked in and I was able to take a deep breath.

Seems the auction "behemoth" eBay (that's WND's description, not mine) has a policy that precludes the selling of teacher's texts, classifying them in the same category as drug paraphenalia and other such nonsense. This is, of course, of major concern to homeschoolers because many of them buy and sell curricula in order to keep their little home-based academies viable. So, on the surface, this policy smacks of prejudice against homeschoolers since most of them have no credentials or "proof of teaching employment."

Big deal.

eBay is, let's face it, a corporation. It has the same pressures to abide by certain rules and regulations as any other corporation, and because it has such high visibility throughout the community, those pressures are even higher than others may experience. In fact, it is widely known that eBay's policies have been modified from time to time precisely because their customer base complain - loudly - every time something questionable appears in an auction. And of course the definition of "questionable" changes every time this comes up.

So I was angry when I first read this article. How dare eBay dictate what we free-stylers can or cannot buy? What gives them the right to impede our God-given and constitution-guaranteed rights to educate our children however we darn well please?

Then I took the deep breath.

Of course eBay would have such a policy. Copyright laws are specific and dictate how certain materials may be transferred from one owner to another. But I don't really think copyright is the issue here. The issue here is guaranteeing that teacher materials - which contain answer keys and discussion texts that student materials don't - stay out of the hands of those students that are required to use their minds and study without such helps. It's really just that simple.

I certainly understand the concerns of homeschoolers who use eBay so widely to find those obscure hard-to-find texts, many of which are now out of print and unavailable elsewhere. The truth is, it would just be too hard for eBay to implement the kind of controls that would indicate who is buying what (privacy issues!), and whether the material is, in fact, sellable.

So homeschoolers must resort to other methods.

Mrs. Woody, for instance, has found many materials by dealing directly with other homeschoolers. Many of them advertise on their own personal websites and they assume responsibility for the appropriateness of their sales. Also, as the WND article pointed out, there are other sites that are more dedicated to curriculum sales that need - and deserve - homeschooler business. eBay is not going to lose sleep over a few thousand homeschoolers going elsewhere to find their textbooks.

What's needed here is a paradigm shift, and it doesn't need to be painful one. The homeschool community is not, by design, homogenous. We are joined only by our mutual desire to teach our children in ways that public schools either can't or won't. Otherwise, we tend to work alone or in very small groups. No one homeschool or group is exactly like another. There are as many ways to teach our children as there are children to teach, and no one method or curriculum is the most correct. What we need, as homeschoolers, is a better way of networking to keep our options open and available when it comes to keeping ourselves supplied with materials.

Such things have begun to take root. What's needed is better coordination, without the burdens of commercialism that inflict many of the bigger homeschool-themed organizations. Even the Homeschool Legal Defense Association suffers from this commercialism. Once you begin to act in behalf of the greater good, it seems, your altruism tends to disappear and you begin looking and acting like a corporation. "We are actively working on a solution," they say. Big hairy deal. Give me some detail, guys.

Anyway, I have no specific answers at the moment, but give me time. Paradigms don't shift overnight. Those texts are out there, begging to be used, and needed desperately by homeschoolers around the world. Let's get them into play as soon as possible.