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I don’t want to make too much of this, but I got my college alumni magazine today – and it seemed not only to be written by sane people (who know grammar, no less) but it seemed to feature mostly hearty, happy folks with their heads on straight. The alumns who were featured had nice jobs, or at least honest ones. No full-time radical activists in the bunch.

Wow. When did this happen?

I had become accustomed to being offended with each mailing. Exasperated. The magazine had been full of hack writing, typos, shrill voices, and tributes to people who had apparently dedicated their life to making other people miserable because of some infraction of the political correctness code. This issue had a few sad cases, like an English professor who’d published a poem in an obscure publication with a suspiciously unfriendly title (the publication had the unfriendly title, the poem’s title was left out, perhaps for good reason), but mostly it was a heartwarming, lively, intelligent read – well-written, well-edited, well-presented visually.

I am in shock. It is happy shock, tinged with wariness (has the campus culture finally changed for the better, or is it merely being sugar-coated, I have to ask myself).

How about you? If you went to college, is your alma mater showing any signs of moving out of the Ist Ages? (You know what I mean. Feminist, Marxist, Socialist, etc.)

I don’t dare hope that sensible people are getting a firm foothold in American academia, after all. But I can’t help dreaming of the day.

Update: I originally had it as Ist-ages, but I’ve decided Ist Ages is better form, so have edited the post. 


Yesterday I discovered talk radio on the Internet. OK, so I knew it was there. I just hadn’t bothered to listen to it. Talk radio tends to exasperate me.

But there had been so much buzz about the Hugh Hewitt interview with Andrew Sullivan Read the rest of this entry »

I was visiting with a friend who used to be a foster parent, and we were discussing the problem another friend of ours was having because some group of psychiatrist wannabes at school had labeled his daughter as bipolar. The father, understandably, didn’t want his daughter being marked that way, and shoved into the square peg holes reserved for children diagnosed as bipolar.

My friend, the veteran foster dad, grinned and said he never sent the psychologist reports to school along with his kids. He used to get in trouble for it, he said, but by then the teacher had usually managed to get to know the kid as a kid, and not as a case study.

His favorite experience, from the sounds of things, was after he’d managed to send one foster daughter to a grade school for more than a year before his higher-ups got wind of the fact that the school didn’t have her profile, and so sent one directly to the teacher.

The teacher called the foster dad, confused and sure there’d been a mistake. ‘The agency sent me a report with your foster daughter’s name on it, but it’s not her,’ the teacher said.

Heh. Mission accomplished. Yahhhh!

The retired foster father and I discussed this for a while. The psychologists and social workers and all that ilk meant well, but they only knew the kids from visits – visits where the kid was encouraged to let loose, no less. They had no idea, none, how normal these kids were away from their helpful encouragement.

‘Nuf said.

There has been a moderate scandal of sorts out of Washington recently. A Republican legislator was found to have had an attraction to boys, and to have spoken inappropriately to some of the male pages (at the very least). The pages responded by leading him on, which prompted him to send them even more sick messages electronically, which were subsequently shared with the world, whereupon the disgraced lawmaker was shown the door.

So, this is pretty straightforward, no? A guy abuses his position of power, he should be out of a job. A grown-up man propositions teens, either sex, and he ought to have to answer for it. Somebody tries to recruit young people into the homosexual lifestyle, he should pay for it, since kids can’t be expected to know how to counter seduction (or even to know that they ought to, since many kids like to think that that sort of attention means that somebody sees them as grown-up).

But what’s funny about all this is that the Democrats and what passes for a professional press corps in this country have been trying, and trying, and trying to shove this into a template. They seem to hope that Republicans, upon finding that an alcoholic who is confused about sexuality got voted in on their ticket, will all get the heeby-jeebies and either stay home this election out of disgust or vote Democrat to teach Republican leaders a lesson. Or I think that’s what all the screaming comes down to. (I admit to tuning much of it out as this has gone along.)

For crying out loud.

Do they really think that Republicans get the vapors every time they’re around people with serious faults? Don’t they get it that it’s not that Foley is messed up, but that he acted on his messed up views the way he did? Foley could sit around having all the fantasies he wanted as long as he kept them to himself. It’s when he did something harmful that action was taken – appropriately so. What he thinks is between him and God. What he does to other people is the province of his neighbors and colleagues and other human beings (as well as God).

It’s so simple. Conservatives expect people to act in a civilized fashion. When they don’t, they need to face the music. Nobody being perfect, and nobody making wise decisions one hundred percent of the time, we all have to face some music of one kind or another now and then. There are matters of degree, of course. But. Occasional slips are one thing, trying to insist upon getting a free pass is another.

It’s that insisting, time after time, that their uncivilized, immoral behavior is OK because they like to think that it defines them, that makes me tear my hair out when dealing with today’s modern leftists and so-called liberals. It’s that insistence that we’re all supposed to agree with them, or at least assume that any and all of their bull-session bright ideas possess more wisdom than anything built on the foundations of Western Civilization that makes me wince.

I’m not saying that Western Civilization has always been right, or that there isn’t room for improvement. I’m just pretty sure that much of what the “progressives” are proposing are steps backward. (Do you ever wonder if they look at every civilization that self-destructed and said, Oooh, let’s try that. Being post-modern and therefore enlightened, we can do it with more flair? The main problem with that theory, I think, is that so many ‘progressives’ I know think history is dead and buried and ought to stay that way – except for when it ought to be rewritten to try to get the conservatives to sign on to something.)

It’s maddening. What we could really use in this country are more reporters and fewer template-fillers, I think, especially when so may of the the templates seem to be jerry-built out of academic ideas that are based on other academic ideas and don’t bear a whole lot of resemblance to life on the ground, at least not life on the ground around here. 

You know how there used to be a custom of ladies going one way and gentlemen the other after dinner? Maybe we should revive the custom. Or maybe not – since having us split up resulted in an awkward situation around here recently. According to my husband, when he was alone with an old man the elderly gentleman told him that what he and his wife feared most was not dying at the same time. When I was alone with the old man’s wife, it was clear to me that although she loves this old guy with a deep devotion and is willing to stick with him through thick and thin, she’d probably be grateful for some time to herself, not having to care for somebody for a change. She is, perhaps, a bit tired of putting up with his increasing crankiness, and stubbornness, and fretting.

We think we’ll stay out of the middle of all this. Wouldn’t you?

But, you know, it got me thinking. I’ve known quite a few older couples where the guy is more afraid of being alone than of dying, but relatively few where the woman thinks that way. On the other side of that, the one time I went to Hawaii I was surrounded by widows who were thankful they had a chance to get out and do things that their stuck-in-a-rut husband hadn’t wanted to do. Like visit Hawaii, obviously.

I guess the trick is to not let yourself get trapped in a rut? At least for starters?

Oh, and remembering to mind your manners around your family and not just with outsiders. I suspect it’s the old men who let themselves become harder to live with who fret the most about being left alone. That’s just a guess, though.

October 2006
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