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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Youngster Update

I suppose you want to hear about the youngsters. I think Eli is going to be a commando. He has the army crawl perfected, and he knows that when grabbing someone's head you should grip him firmly by the ears. If only we could get him to stop gnawing on shoes and eating floor lint. All part of the survival skills, I guess.

Caleb, meanwhile, has finally figured out why Eli is pressed to his mother's chest every three hours. I believe he's a bit envious, but heck, so am I. A few days ago, after observing for a few minutes, Caleb announced, "I want to try it. Can I have some?"

Without an ounce of pity, my wife informed him, "Your time has come and gone."

I suppose some of the more militant La Leche mothers would disagree, but it seems to me that your child should be done breastfeeding once he is capable of naming them. I know there's a whole long list of reasons for nursing a four year-old, but, the very high "Ewww" factor aside, I suspect this sort of thing might produce malign side effects, like overdependence and emotional immaturity, both of which lead in turn to voting Democratic, and we certainly don't need any more of that.

One of the many girlfriends Caleb left behind in Kansas is named Kami. She's three times his age, but he digs the older women. Yesterday he sighed and said, "I love Kami."

"I know you do."

"Yeah. She has cars."

He's a good little fella, despite his weakness for doe-eyed lasses with ample Matchbox collections. It maddens me to think of all the vile people waiting to get their hooks into little ones such as these. Marketers, government educrats, diversity-mongers and their trailing throngs of professional victims -- the list of trolls itching to influence our children seems to grow with each Harvard graduation. They must be guarded against with a vigilance that lesser parents will never understand.

For example, Caleb received as a gift a book that is all about rescue heroes. You know, firefighters, police officers, paramedics, overbearing weekend-warrior ATF thugs (just kidding), and so on. On every page there are at least two of a type of hero, and at least one of the heroes is a person of color, or a woman, or both. On some pages there are no white males among the heroes, which is fine, as far as I'm concerned. What's interesting, however, is that one of the scenes shows four police officers (two brown women, one white woman, one black man), arresting two bank robbers.

You can, I'm sure, guess the rest. Although no other job classification in the book features all white males, both robbers are white men. While the illustrator clearly went out of his way (and far outside the boundaries of credulity -- how often do you see a woman firefighter lugging a man down an escape ladder?) to ensure a misrepresentative but idyllic diversity on his pages, he chose not to extend this diversity to the criminals.

How pathetically condescending, but then again, so is Jesse Jackson, and nobody's kicking him out of the Women and Minorities Grievance Committee.

Even worse than this subtle attempt at indoctrination is what produced the following statement from Caleb today as he handed scrap papers to the wife and me: "Look at me, I'm the mailperson."


"I'm the mailperson, Daddy."

"The mailperson?" I asked my wife.

"He has a tape that talks about different jobs like that. It must be on there."

"I want it out of my house."



"I hear you."

"So," I said to Caleb, "you're the mailman, eh? The mailman."

"Yep, I'm the mailman."

Take that, all you people who would trap the minds of our children in your insipid little utopias. Brainwash your own kids, if any of you bother to have them.

posted by Woodlief | link | (22) comments

Monday, October 28, 2002

Recycling Liberty

I remember a wonderful newstand in Chapel Hill where a young college student could buy cheap cigars, girly magazines, and a true fountain soda all without breaking his pizza budget. It was safely (I thought) ensconced on Franklin Street, and was a city treasure. When I visited the town of my alma mater a few years ago, however, I discovered that the newstand had been replaced -- by a juice bar. At times like that I am shocked at how deeply the health nuts and terraphiliacs have gotten their graspy little claws into the essentials of our way of life.

For example, having moved back to the East Coast, I'm discovering what an absolute fetish people here have made of recycling. One expects this sort of thing on the West Coast -- those people long ago abandoned American ideals, and can't slide off into the ocean fast enough for most of us -- but this side of the country is the birthplace of liberty, and its infringement here is therefore an especial abomination.

As an example of what I mean, consider the fact that many towns and cities in this area actually have laws requiring their citizens to recycle. That's right, in these places you either sort your trash or pay a fine. What's more, the laws are enforced by busybodies armed with the authority to root through your garbage as it sits on the curb, in order to ensure that you are doing your part to depress aluminum prices.

This, dear readers, strikes me as very, very wrong. This is not a brief against recycling. I recycle quite frequently, in fact: my clothes, bad jokes, my list of annual accomplishments . . . You get the point -- I'm a veritable font of reuse and renewal. So I've got no beef with recycling as an occupation, a hobby, an obsession, or a freaking religion, if that's what you tree-hugging hippies are into these days.

My objection, rather, is to a law that allows some holier-than-thou bureaucrat to search through my trash.

Imagine that it's 1776, and instead of stamp taxes and Anglican fussiness, old King George is pushing mandatory recycling. Imagine that he has anointed inspectors to go forth into the colonists' trash heaps in search of the ill-placed jug shard and errant scrap of Tom Paine propaganda.

Let me tell you, fellow Americans, how our beloved Founding Fathers would have responded. Several of them would have grabbed by the scruff of the neck the first Royal Trash Inspector they caught nosing through someone's refuse, hogtied him, and marched him into the town square. There they would have denounced him in front of the jeering citizenry, and strung him by the neck, without reservation or apology, from the nearest lamp post.

Later, earnest mothers would have taken their wide-eyed children to see the dangling monstrosity, in order to sear into their little minds what happens to those who violate our Liberty. Presbyterian pastors would have given special celebratory sermons on the street below his stinking corpse, warning that while the Bible enjoins us to obey civil authorities, it nowhere requires us to submit to such ilk as this.

But look at us now. Not only did we not publicly hang the first person to attempt garbage inspection, but we let this infringement become institutionalized with nary a peep. For shame. It appears that the men who rescued our liberty from the Crown two hundred years ago are made of finer stuff than we.

Liberty is not fit to be bound by chains such as these, my friends. A nation that would tolerate a violation of such intimate privacy as what is in one's personal trash is a nation that no longer knows the meaning of the word "citizen." Citizenry carries privileges and the responsibility of obedience to law, yes, but it also imposes the duty to restrain government to its proper bounds. I ask you, if peering into our trash in order to compel us into unpaid labor is not outside the proper role of government, then what is?

What kind of Americans are we, that we should tolerate such a thing? Have we no self-respect? Are we not men and women? Rise up, I say, and again, rise up!

The time is upon each one of us living in such an oppressive regime, from Tacoma Park, Maryland, to Portola Valley, California, to stand athwart the path of intrusive government and shout, "Enough! You may tax one-third of my income, you may take my gun, my property, my business. But this is one line you will not cross. You can take my garbage when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. And if I go, I'm taking a few of you with me."

I know some of you are wondering if my new neighborhood has a mandatory recycling law. The answer is "no," and you can be certain of this by the fact that you have not read the following headline:

Virginia man shoots recycling official from upstairs window "Any man who goes rooting through another man's trash is asking to get shot," insists unrepentant shooter.

But if any of you should prove so ardent a defender of liberty, I'll be the first to contribute to your defense fund. Extremism in defense of one's garbage is, my fellow Americans, no vice.

posted by Woodlief | link | (27) comments