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.

There was a hostage situation at a school in Bailey, Colorado, yesterday. The media went a little nuts about it, I thought. I do wish they’d apply a little more restraint while incidents like this are still underway.

Anyway, one of the things that struck me happened at the press conference after the SWAT team had charged in and rescued all but one of the girls. Word was out that the hostage taker had died. A reporter asked if the man had shot himself or had been shot by police. The sheriff, who looked like a very decent guy, tried to dodge the question at first, but then mentioned, somewhat under his breath compared to the way he’d been talking, that the guy might’ve taken the coward’s way out. The sheriff caught himself quickly, adding that the matter was still under investigation, trying to smooth over something he wasn’t sure he should have said.

It’s stuck with me, though. I think, sometimes, that we should be more open these days – like we used to be – about curling a lip at cowardice. I think a lot of our current cultural messes, in fact, can be laid to cowardice, or at least to a ready acceptance of it.

It’s not put forth as the coward’s way out, of course. It’s advertised as putting yourself first. Of being true to your feelings. Whoopee. A rose by any other name…

Abortion? How many abortions are the result of a woman just not sure how to face the future, and being told that abortion will solve her problems? Is it not the coward’s way out? Shouldn’t it be recognized as that? I know that a whole lot of women feel later that they were cowards, taking that route. Shouldn’t women who are considering abortion be made aware that it might be hard to live with later? That they might find it hard to live with themselves later? That cowardly acts are shaky foundations on which to build a life? Shouldn’t they be encouraged to be brave, and resourceful, and resilient, instead of selfish and scared of their ability to measure up? Women, on the whole, are very resilient. So why do we allow feminists and so-called self-esteem experts to train us to be cowards? Heck, let’s not beat around the bush – to reward and praise us for being cowards?

Divorce? How many divorces are merely ignobly running off instead of facing problems and trying to solve them? I’m not saying that every marriage can be saved, or ought to be. My religious view is that marriage is a covenant and should be treated as such, but I know that people who don’t have faith don’t have the same sense of commitment to carry them through. Or the same approach to finding a husband or wife, which leaves them less likely to find someone willing to work things out. So many people see marriage primarily as a type of contract – that’s a mistake, to be sure, but if that’s what you’ve signed on for that’s what you’ve signed on for. But, still. So many divorces that I’ve seen seem to be nothing more or less than “it stopped being fun and/or financially rewarding” or “he doesn’t understand me anymore” or “she got fat” or something equally shallow. How many divorces are desertions in times of trouble, when the family really needs an “I’ll help” instead of an “I don’t need the bother”? Aren’t folks who bail out when they should be grabbing a bucket and bailing water to keep the family afloat cowards? (Not to mention spoiled brats?)

Well, I need to work on this a bit more. It just seems to me that a lot of what passes for self-esteem training in schools is nothing more than training kids to be cowards instead of compadres who can be counted on. Or that so much of what feminism promotes is nothing more or less than cowardly behavior all dressed up as something else. And don’t get me started on ‘assisted suicide’ or ‘mercy killing’ or ‘living wills’.

Well, as I said, I need to work on this theory a little more, test it some, see where it holds up and where it doesn’t. It just seems to me that cowardice has gotten a bit too mainstream for our own good, that we might be embarrassing our ancestors, so to speak. 

Yesterday was a bit strange for me. I have friends and associates from across the political and religious spectrum; I couldn’t help but notice that different camps were talking past each other. Some people were ridiculing anybody who held memorials that weren’t strictly about 9/11. Others were sneering at anybody who still wanted to commemorate the people killed that day. Some folks were doing the la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you-because-I’m-singing-peace-songs-you-rotten-knave-drop-dead routine. Others were reaching out to others hurt in jihadi attacks outside the United States (that reaching out was good, in my opinion) – but often were sniffing at those who weren’t joining in their little chorus (which wasn’t good, in my opinion). People all over the board were trying to politicize the day. Or crying loudly for people to stop politicizing the day.

And yet. And yet. Not one person I met here when I went about my daily rounds made a peep about the fact that it was September 11. Not one. I suppose they’re like me, and have friends and relatives split, and just wanted a break from it. That’s a guess. Just a guess. Or maybe they were afraid they’d spark a conflict with a business associate. I don’t know. But the Internet, television, and my family behind closed doors, were turbulent – while outside, just around town, was absolutely serene. Who would have guessed?

Surprisingly, to me, amongst the people talking and/or being philosophical, no one seemed to be talking about something that was on my mind. September 11 changed the world, I think, but it also changed me. How about you?

Two things pop to mind.

Before September 11 I used to wonder if I could kill somebody, even in self-defense. After that, I knew I could kill in self-defense, or to save someone else. I understood evil better, and I was ready to fight it, now that it was real to me, and not just something abstract, something the stuff of fairy tales, long ago and far away.

I also felt guilty about having allowed myself to become a couch potato of sorts. The idea of policemen and firemen having to help people who were merely out of shape got under my skin. In a real emergency, they should be free to help those who are naturally disabled, not those of us who could be fit and able if we put our minds to it, I thought. And so I exercised. And still do, although I have to renew my dedication now and then. (Middle age isn’t necessarily as easy as it looks, kids.)

Isn’t there anybody else who thinks that, on the whole, there’s a toughness to this country that wasn’t there five years ago? I think there is. I can see the people who never would have joined the military in a 9/10 world, who have joined the military. Or the police. Or are firefighters. I see people speaking out who’d given up on speaking out.

I see the other side, too, of course. I see the renewed efforts to narrow the world for schoolchildren – ‘don’t run, kid, you might fall down!’ – ‘life is defined by sexuality!’ I see churches being eaten up from the inside as well as the outside, by moral relativists. The media, on the whole, hasn’t got the memo that they can build up as well as rip to shreds, not that I can see.

And yet. And yet. For all the backsliding and potholes and shrill blaming, I am quite sure I’m seeing the early fruits of those who saw 9/11 as a reason to fight not only the jihadists but the stench of some of our popular culture – not necessarily by taking it on in old ways, but by learning the skills needed to turn out a good product in both senses of the word. Sure, there’s a lot of rot still being produced. But I sniff changes in the air. Don’t you?

People who can’t get past PC gatekeepers in publishing have found ways around, haven’t they? Whether it’s blogs or print-on-demand or small publishers who want to leave the world a little better than they found it, there are ways around now. For that matter, some big publishers have broadened their offerings, I think, making room for new voices. Not all publishers. Not in all ways. But, in any case, you can buy books that might not have made it to the shelves before the world shifted five years ago.

Homeschooling has finally gained traction, hasn’t it? Some of this generation, and the next, and the next, won’t be fed the masculinity-bad, motherhood-is-for-losers, dead-white-guys-are-scum, America-is-the-problem, Marxism-just-needs-better-leaders lies that my generation was raised on. Hurrah for homeschoolers, and also for parents with kids in public school who stand up against the madness.

I sense changes. And strength where there used to be something akin to resignation. Don’t you?

September 11 has become something of a New Year’s for me – a day to step up to the plate and take steps toward making or keeping resolutions. This year, amongst other things, I’m starting this blog so I can express my opinions and make various and sundry observations while sparing my family what embarrassment I can.

Ponderosa Hill, you might have guessed, is not my name. But I like to ponder things, I live in the mountains, and my first choice for blog name was taken. 😉

I haven’t decided yet how much to tell about myself. But just so you have some idea, I’m a happily married, middle-aged American woman who lives somewhere west of the Mississippi.