Mar 22, 2007

Yes, I'm Irate

I've been writing less serious posts lately, but today is different. I know myself pretty well, and I know that when I get worked up, I can get to be a pretty unpleasant person. Well, when I checked the news online today, I started to get heated up. Here is what I saw:

It was not the first story or anything like that. It was the sixth headline in the list next to the main big story about John Edwards running for President even though his wife has incurable cancer. I found that minorly ironic, that he is running for President of a country with an incurable cancer as well.

I was not surprised that this court decision happened. I had read about the possibility a few months back on - another bastion of "freedom" and "enlightenment." Basically, this judge ruled that it is unconstitutional - under that mysterious "right to privacy" that is not listed in the Bill of Rights, and the nebulous Freedom of Speech - for the government to consider it illegal for websites to expose children to material deemed "harmful to minors" by "community standards." The long and short of it: the government can no longer force websites to have age-verification when they have explicit material on it. The people who started all of this was a collection of "Sexual health" sites,, and "other web sites" - backed by our friends at the ACLU. (I wonder who those "other sites" were.)

The line that made me so angry I wanted to go up to Pennsylvania and punch the judge was this beauty: "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if (free speech) protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection." Hang on a second....yeah....I can see where he's coming from. It is definitely more harmful to the minors of this country to violate their mythical freedom of privacy and "free speech" that to keep them from having to see sexually explicit sites. You are absolutely right, Senior U. S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr. It is waaaay more important that my three and five year old do not have their right to free speech threatened than to keep them from accidentally finding a website with obscene pictures on it that is masquerading as a kids' site.

I mean after all, violating a minor's free speech would probably destroy them and make them a quivering shell of a person. It would make them less than human. That wrong would burn into their brain forever, so that it would pop up for decades. It would give them the wrong understanding about what a woman is supposed to be. It would make them compromise their high standards, and settle for digitally enhanced frauds. It would damage their intimacy with others and with God. It would keep them from being able to connect to their spouses. It would give them oppressive guilt and shame. It would stunt them emotionally. It would enter them into addictive behaviors that would take intense counseling to escape. It would put their marriages at risk. It would probably escalate into getting into fascination with illegal and immoral activities. It would make them come face to face with urges and desires that they have not grown up enough to understand.

I mean, pornography seems mild compared to the damage that hampering a minor's freedom of speech would cause. Porn doesn't do all of that. It's just harmless fun. Just something everyone does. No big deal. I'm glad we have the ACLU and Senior U. S. District Judge Lowell Reed, Jr. to set us straight. I mean, after all, "parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit the rights of others to free speech." We can't have that - people's free speech being limited. Especially when it comes to free speech that looks an awful lot like a naked woman. Why, that would be criminal.

[If this post seemed a wee bit sardonic, just remember - it's just my freedom of speech.]

Mar 18, 2007

Revisionist Aladdin History

I have wanted to write this goofy post for a while, but have keep putting it off. In light of the announcement by Disney that they are going to be adding to their Princess line, I decided now was indeed the time. But first, I have a few housekeeping items.
  • My last post, about the smackdown between my kids, got some interesting responses. Of course, not on this site since no one really comments here. Well, it seems that my brilliant decision to let "the kids work it out" was a temporary victory. I have still had to spend much time correcting both "annoying your sister" and "hitting your brother." Oh well, at least the specific story was funny.
  • I updated my side information - including books I'm reading. I am going to do some more in depth reviews of those books as I finish them. So try to control your anticipation.
  • A few weeks back we found out we are expecting our third child. Woo hooo. Surprise! We don't know much yet other than the fact the baby is due in October.
Now on to the article. I was reading a story for my daughter the other day out of her Disney Princess story book. It was this one about Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, and how she reached out to these homeless poor orphans. Aladdin and Jasmine were married, so the story must have taken place after the three movies and the animated television show. As I read this, my useless mental processes kicked into full gear. I began to realize that there was a heinous business at play in the Aladdin story that HAD to be uncovered.

Think back to the original movie, since that is only one many of you have seen. The basic premise is that Aladdin is this street rat, who is homeless and lives with a monkey. He has to steal to get by. On the other end of town is Princess Jasmine who lives in the palace with her father - the Sultan. He has an evil advisor, Jafar, that is secretly pushing his own agenda of taking over the world. There also is a collection of evil and vicious guards that roam the town and do all things rotten.

Now, it is readily apparent (in this movie and in subsequent ones) that the poverty is rampant. Yet the Sultan and his daughter live alone with servants in this oppulent palace - probably paid for by the poor residents. There are parties and parades to celebrate the joys of the Sultan's family. However, that is the only interaction that we see between the Royal Family and the people. And this continues throughout the series. Even after Jasmine and Aladdin are in a position to change things, they do not institute sweeping changes that would benefit their people. There are still poor orphans running around, stealing fruit to survive.

In addition, the Sultan is the one who hired Jafar, and who never even wised up to his villainy. Now, we have seen this a lot through the movies, so we can sort of write it off I guess. But the entire guard system is corrupt and cruel. Even after Jafar is gone, the Sultan does not cleanse that group. Aladdin, who has numerous run ins with these guys, also does nothing about the guards. We see them pop up time and again - even after Aladdin should have been able to get rid of them. This is ignoring the fact that Apu the monkey and Iago the parrot and Carpet the flying carpet are given access to the rulers - and offer much advice that is followed blindly. Oh yeah, there also is a blue, wise-cracking, shape-shifting, nearly-omnipotent genie that helps the rulers, but does not use his powers to help those outside the palace walls -- except in his expert parade-planning.

So, what do we have here? We have a royal aristocracy that lives in lavish luxury at the expense of (and while ignoring the plight of) their poverty-stricken people. The government and the law-enforcement system are thoroughly corrupt, rife with nepotism, and run by literal animals. The Princess we are supposed to admire and offer as an example to our daughters will often try to assist people of other countries (but usually ends up allowing the genie or animals to come up with the solution), while completely ignoring her own people. And Aladdin, who comes from the street and is a true rags to riches story, does not try to help his own people rise above their squallor. Instead, he worries about stuff like finding his thieving father, becoming chief advisor, and talking to beasts. Perhaps he's the most to blame.

So after reading that, it makes you look at that movie in a different light, eh? Well, either that or you are thoroughly convinced I'm a wacko.

Mar 10, 2007

Good Girl

Well, I have pretty much disappeared since the Oscars. Sorry about that - for those people whose very existence depends on my blog (poor pathetic souls). Things have been so crazy around here that I couldn't bring myself to spend time posting. But that will be remedied RIGHT NOW!

It is fun having kids. Well at least some of the time - other times it makes you want to jump off a cliff into a pile of bayonet bushes. As most of you know, I have a five year old son and a three year old daughter. They act like they are twins. Many people ask us that - since they are similar in height and they play together all the time. Sometimes, the playing gets too rough or intense, and then we have to hear an exchange similar to this:

Heather and I are sitting in the computer room. We hear a video in the living room, and the kids playing. Suddenly we hear...

WHACK! AAAAAGHHH! (running steps)

BOY CHILD: Mommy, Nat hit me.

MOMMY: Nat! Come in here!

DADDY: Joey, why did Nat hit you? Were you messing with her?

BOY CHILD: (as innocent as a dove) No, I was just sitting there and she hit me.

MOMMY: Nat! Get in here! Now!

GIRL CHILD: Yes, Mommy.

MOMMY: Nat, did you hit your brother?

GIRL CHILD: (as sweet as candy) No.

DADDY: Nat, Joey said you hit him. Did you hit him?

GIRL CHILD: (sweet as honey coated candy) No, Mommy. I didn't. He was mean to me.

BOY CHILD: (innocent and offended at the accusation) She's lying. She hit me. I wasn't doing anything.

Mommy takes Girl Child and begins to interrogate her, finally forcing a confession. Daddy takes Boy Child and grills him, finding out that he was standing in front of the television and sticking his hands in her face - which led to the wallop.

This same scene plays out all the time - sometimes numerous times a day. Boy antagonizes girl. Girl gets irritated. Girls punches boy. Boy starts crying. Boy runs and tells parent. Girl denies entire thing. So today, we actually had this whole thing happen several times. Then we went to Publix to get food for dinner and stuff. The kids are sitting together in one of the fancy pants carts they have for kids, eating their free cookies. They are all excited because we are going to have a picnic for dinner in the living room. Boy Child is getting all hyper and starts messing with Girl Chld. He is being annoying, waving his hands in front of her face. I'm watching this whole thing occur while standing next to the canned fruits. I'm about to stop break away from the Oregon blueberries and correct the Boy Child. Suddenly, WHAP.

Girl Child has just calmly looked over at Boy Child, decided she had enough of that junk, and flat out backhand punched him in the chest. His first response is shock, followed by rubbing the spot, and then he looks back at us and starts to go into "rat mode." Now, I know I should be all over Girl Child's back for slugging Boy Child. But I have watched the entire thing, and for the first time actually observed the annoyance take place. So I tell her, "Don't hit your brother." And I tell him, "Don't be annoying to your sister." Then I look at Heather and start laughing.

I've wanted girls my whole life, but I also wanted them to be tough enough to be able to stand up for themselves. So there actually was a kind of pride that my girl punched her brother. Heather was convinced that I was gaining too much pleasure from the whole thing. I'm sure she was right. Well, a few aisles over, on the hair care aisle, the Boy Child was getting worked up again. He was messing with Girl Child, getting in her face, waving his hands around. I looked at him, and in a moment of parental wisdom said, "If you don't knock it off, your sister is going to hit you again. And I'm not going to stop her."

Heather looked at me again and shook her head. "You're bad." I was thinking, hey this could work. Boy Child kept on being a turkey, I warned him again. About a minute later, BAM. Girl Child hit him in the face. He looked at me and I said, "Told you." I know, I'm horrible. Know what? He sat very still and behaved the rest of the time in the store, and so did she. Maybe they just needed to work it out on their own. All I know, is that I can't wait until she turns into a teenager and some idiot boy tries to be a punk. She'll calmly look over at him, and WHAM!

Good girl.