Author Archives: Kay

Oh! The indignity!

All the bruhaha about the Mohammed cartoons has given me some food for thought. As a believer of Christianity and Christian tenants, there have been a number of cartoons that I’ve run across on the web that *I* personally find offensive. I would imagine that I’m not alone, and yes, there have certainly been some complaints registered over some of those images. Interesting to note is that these images generally make the rounds in less conservative circles – and among those who are more likely to find them amusing. Generally speaking, when offended by something I read or watch, I know that I can either drop it from my reading/watching list, or opt to continue to check it out (following that old maxium about keeping you friends close and your enemies closer).

I don’t recall, however, ever hearing such outrage over cartoons offensive to those of Christian beliefs. Which has really got me thinking. Political satire has historically been a great force for highlighting and even helping to hasten change. There are few other mediums where so much can be said with so few words – and I’m wondering if those who are so up-in-arms over this are naive enough to think that they can silence by protest the concepts which are now clearly out in the open?

I’m thinking that all the protest is actually a great thing – particularly in this day and age of technology. Pandora’s box has been opened – and I don’t see any way that this will ever get stuffed back in. Freedom of speech and expression is more free and open than in anytime in the history of the world – and I think it will ultimately be our saving grace.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

Internet Liberation and the Ingenue

Last week, Eric introduced as a topic the subject currently highlighted at Cato Unbound which is: Internet Liberation: Alive or Dead?.

The first essay, written by Jaron Lanier is an interesting theoretical read The Gory Antigora: Illusions of Capitalism and Computers.

Lanier describes the “antigora” as the privately owned and operated arenas or meeting places (i.e. Microsoft) as opposed to the open architecture of – oh, say “Linux”. This discussion is rather a fascinating (if sometimes a bit over-my-head) one to me with lots to mull over – namely, whether the internet should be more liberated (less brittle to use Lanier’s description) and free – less software based and more open to free flowing change for example.

While I personally believe that there is much good to be had in an open and free-flowing exchange of ideas, I also recognize that just like liberty in the real world, a wide open system comes with some definite hazards – and it must be up to the individuals delving into the internet market to monitor their own behavior and risk taking online much as it is in the real world. I love the *idea* behind free access to all information; but the risk is that if I stumble unprepared and without understanding into an open arena, I may face some damage to my own computer set up that *I* may not have the skill or knowledge to correct, and frankly, that scares the heck out of me. I suppose I could be called “agoraphobic”. And what about those who don’t even know enough about what they’re doing on the ‘net to even know when they have screwed up? How many *cyber-terrorists* are there who really enjoy messing with those of us who aren’t completely “in the know”? Situations like the one with Wikipedia a few weeks ago in which a false biography was planted spring to mind.

On the other hand, the stay-at-home mom in me that can’t afford all the latest software and is definitely a techno-geek of small skill loves it when she finds just what she needs that is GNU. I’ve not delved too deeply yet, but am mulling a changeover around in my brain for some future point when I’m ready to set myself the next techno-challenge. Even now, I look at the internet as a place in which I must step carefully – just as I am ever aware of my surroundings when I’m away from home (I never approach my car from a store without my keys in my hand) so I have learned to be diligent to watch for danger signs on the ‘net.

As far as being able to say, definitively, which is ultimately better – liberation of the internet in the form of more agora styled environs or more controls ala “antigoras” – I’m not sure that anyone can really answer the question. Perhaps, like the real life it mirrors, a combination of free market and controlled is as close to liberation of the internet as we can come. This, too, humanizes the contacts we make within the sphere of the internet – not all are highly skilled, but those who are can sometimes give a pointer or two to those who’re ready to learn. And those who’re highly technical sometimes need the chuckle provided by the diversely inspired talents of the ingenue.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

Scenarios

It doesn’t matter our label or what we choose to call ourselves, but those of us who truly believe in personal freedom and responsibility – and live our lives in this way are rarely going to be victims. Sure, there are exceptions – we may at times be overcome by brute force, but anyone who thinks they’re going to rape, mutilate, or murder us will find that they’re going to have to have brute force on their side . . . ’cause we’re not going to make it easy for them to accomplish their nefarious aims.

We’re fully aware that life doesn’t happen TO us, but that things which happen in our lives are a direct result of the choices and decisions we’ve made. One of the things that has always been quietly prevalent throughout my life which makes it difficult for me to be a victim is what I call “scenarios”.

My first memory of this concept was around the time I was 12 years old. One of our neighbors who was remodeling his home was renting a house closer in to town while he made the renovations. His step-son, who was a couple years younger than I – got home one day from school to find that his step-dad dead – killed by a bullet from one of his own guns. It took years before they found the perpetrator, but I still remember vividly the call my mother got that afternoon. She was crying hysterically, and it took a bit for me to get out of her what had happened – naturally, I was afraid something had happened to my own father.

The repercussions for our family were that while my dad had had guns before (.22 rifle, shotgun) my dad acquired a .357 magnum, and immediately made sure that my mom and I knew how to handle it. Dad had given me a Daisy Red Ryder a couple years before, and I enjoyed playing with it, but this was a whole different ball game. I didn’t really like the loudness, but I was proud of the fact that I was a pretty darned good shot. At any rate, back in those days, we NEVER went anywhere without our gun along – and if my folks ever left me at home, dad would remind me “where my equalizer” was and give me a quick refresher. I think I only ever had to get the gun out one time as I answered the door (we lived out in the country and had no “peep hole”) and it turned out to be a friend, but I answered the door with the gun held out of sight in my hand as I’d been taught.

My point is, in order to teach me how to handle the gun and situations that could arise, my dad introduced to me the concept of scenarios. He didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was. He put into my mind the ideas of things that could happen and asked me to come up with how I should handle those situations. A few years later, as I became a driver and took my much younger sister out to movies and things, I would run through scenarios on my own to try to prepare myself mentally should we be accosted somewhere by someone who wanted to carjack or abduct us, and a few years later, I worked for our sheriff’s department (as a secretary in CID) and learned first hand some of the consequences of not being prepared for the worst. I took classes given through the department on self-preservation and rape prevention, but I think one of the greatest teachers I had was that of the crime reports that I typed and things I learned from them.

For a long time, I thought that I was the only one who ran “scenarios” in my mind. Then, when I met my husband, I would notice sometimes that as we were driving along somewhere, I’d look over at him and see him with his jaw set and a “don’t you mess with me” expression in his eye. Since there was nothing that I had seen to precede this behavior, and I knew he wasn’t angry with me, I finally asked him one day “what are you thinking?” when he explained to me that something that he’d seen in passing triggered his going into a daydream about a scenario and what he would do if he encountered it, I think I knew then that I’d met my prince.

Before we married, my home was broken into one day while I was at work. I arrived home, went to check the answering machine, and to my horror, it was gone. I can’t imagine that any thief today would bother with an answering machine, hehehe – but it was no laughing matter at the time. It took probably a full minute for the impact to sink in – for me to realize that my jewelry box was lying upside down on the bed, that a pillowcase was taken from the bed, etc. It was fairly obvious that my arrival home had probably scared the thief away – my VCR had been partially pulled out but not removed and screens were slit in both my kitchen window and a back door. All these years later, I still remember vividly how violated and angry I felt that some stranger had entered MY home and taken MY personal property. I felt deeply the lack of control and the powerlessness to stop what I’d not known was happening, but I quickly took action to insure that no more harm be done. I was a victim I suppose, in the the strictest sense of the word, but I wasn’t going to lie down and be victimized further.

As soon as I realized what had happened, I retrieved the small handgun that I’d had hidden and made a tour of the house – looking under the beds and in every closet, gun in hand. I then made two calls – one to my fiance and the other to the Sheriff’s department. Fortunately for me, hubby-to-be arrived first finding me standing in my driveway, gun in hand. He convinced me that it would be best to put that away and not mention it.

As sad as that was, I’m sure he was right. At that time, laws concerning handguns were more strict in Florida than they are now, and my gun could very well have been confiscated. It wasn’t, and for many years after, I carried it with me in my vehicle wherever I went. Like my dad before me, I resolved never to be caught unawares.

Things are a little different now – I’m home most of the time with my daughters – but I noticed that Daisy has brought back the “Red Ryder” again and they’re selling at our local Wal-Mart. Maybe it’s time I buy one for my gals – I’m definitely NOT raising them to become victims.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

Clark Foam vs. the EPA

I’m writing today about a situation that I just learned of which hits pretty close to home for us. Some of you may have realized from my writings that my husband is a surfer (has been since the 60’s) and it has played a rather large role in our life – we host a website dedicated to local surfers where we post pictures of them that we have caught at local surf spots. My hubby along with a number of his friends have made several surfboards – both for themselves and others.

It came to my attention last night that Clark Foam, the producer of 90% of the polyurethane surfboard blanks used world-wide has been closed down by the 9th District of the EPA for a two-week period while they investigate the factory which they believe does not meet industry standards. At issue is the chemical toluene diioscyanate commonly known as TDI along with the fact that the technology inside the factory was designed and built by Gordon “Grubby” Clark in the 60’s.

In a fax which Clark sent out to shapers on Monday afternoon, he says that the citation issued him by the EPA could mean prison time for him or the fining of an “astronomical” amount of money. He also apologised to customers and employees saying “I should have seen this coming many years sooner and closed in a slower, more predictable manner . . . I waited far too long, being optimistic rather than realistic.”

And, frankly, the research that I’ve done overnight on my own, I can understand why he would be optimistic. According to the EPA website, research on toluene diioscyanate has been rather inconclusive – a number of studies have been done over five-year periods and while it has been shown that inhaling TDI is a bad thing (that’s why they wear respirators, yanno?) the only link to increased cancer that has been shown was when they put to substance into the stomachs of rats! TDI is not only found in the manufacture of surfboard blanks, but also in sealants, adhesives, carpets, furniture, etc. – probably in items found in every home in the world!

So it seems to me that Gordon Clark’s only crime is one of naivete – most other companies using this chemical have already left California, where, by the way, simultaneously with the Federal EPA implementing a slightly weaker version of California’s existing anti-TDI law in 1999, California itself actually instituted stronger laws against its use.

The outcome of this investigation could potentially have a devastating effect, at least in the short term, on the surf industry. Yes, there are other ways to make boards. (Polystyrene, epoxy, etc.) Yes, others will move in to take up some of the slack – but in the short term, at least, there are going to be jobs lost, manufacturers of boards who have to lay off employees, and prices of surfboards will definitely increase. I’ve already heard some rumbling in the surf community (not known for their conservative views in general) that “he shoulda known better” or “he coulda switched to a less harmful way of manufacture – it wouldn’t cost that much” but to those folks I just say get real – if it could have been done better, cheaper, smarter – why did he end up with such a corner on the market? Seems to me it would be a real feather in the cap of a new manufacturer to be able to say that they had a safer way to produce a polyurethane blank.

My heart, personally, breaks for Gordon Clark, his employees, and the shapers, manufacturers, hobbiests, etc. who are losing a great resource. While most homes in America may not have a surfboard among their prized possessions, of those of us who do – Clark Foam has had a solid reputation for almost 45 years.

In a letter of allocation placed on the web for their customers, I think Matthew Weaver of Fiberglass Supply sums it up best:

It behooves all involved to take some time to reflect on what is happening to Clark Foam, and what is happening here in the United States. We need to be concerned about the future viability of manufacturing in the U.S. especially in regards to small businesses and the regulatory burdens placed on them. We need to become educated in the issues and facts. Then we must act. Write letters to your legislators and become involved in local area politics and organizations.

While my own family doesn’t rely on Clark Foam for our livelihood, I’ve never felt a governmental burden hit more close to home – and I’m afraid we may have reached the end of an era.

Update – Quotes from the EPA and local officials are coming out now, saying they did not force Clark Foam’s Closure. But I think Clark himself spells out pretty clearly what has happened:

“Meeting increasingly stringent environmental regulations would cost millions of dollars.”

“The way the government goes after places like Clark Foam is by an accumulation of laws, regulations, and subjective decisions they are allowed to use to express their intent. Essentially they remove your security, increase your risk or liability, and increase your costs.”

“They simply grind away until you either quit or they find methods of bringing serious charges or fines that force you to close,” Clark wrote.

Cross-posted at Left Brain Female

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

Is Tolerance the same as Acceptance?

How many times have you heard it said that we must be tolerant of someone, thing, idea, etc. with the implication being that you must accept it? The words “tolerance” and “acceptance” are used interchangeably these days, but do they really mean the same thing?

The definition for the word “acceptance” has changed little in the last 180+ years, still meaning:
A receiving with approbation or satisfaction; favorable reception; as work done to acceptance.

Looking up the word “tolerance” in the old Webster’s 1828 dictionary, we find this definition:
The power or capacity of enduring; or the act of enduring.

The more current definition I find in the new Webster’s dictionary (circa 2003) is: open-mindedness; forbearance

So, you may say – it’s just semantics – means the same thing. But does it really? Is open-mindedness really the same as “enduring”?

I personally find in the day to day world many things about which I am not and would not be accepting of – however, realizing that not everyone has had the same experiences to shape them as have I, I am tolerant of things in others that I would not accept of myself. So from that standpoint, I absolutely do not believe that acceptance and tolerance are the same thing. I tend to go more along with the older word definitions, because, frankly, I think our language has been bastardized and weakened considerably by poor education, political correctness, and just general laziness.

Words are important – and weighty. Our forefathers understood the importance of weighing their words carefully – and expressing themselves in a very articulate manner. They used a tremendous volume of words at times to express what seem relatively simple concepts, but they did so because it was important to them that every “i” be dotted and every “t” crossed. They knew that the smallest matter not spelled out in our Constitution would lead to difficulties down the road when it came time for their descendants to interpret what they’d written. They did a remarkable job, but it was inevitable with time that word meanings should devolve and their writings lose some of the very preciseness they initially held.

I love words. I’ve loved words for as long as I can remember – I guess from the days as a child when I’d ask my dad for the meaning of something and he’d point me to the dictionary. I have been known on a number of occasions to actually sit and read through the dictionary, or flip through its covers looking for new words to commit to memory. It is for that reason that I become disturbed when I feel that word meanings have become corrupted.

I’m afraid at times that I may come across as a moralizer – it’s really not my intention – but I think of myself more as a moral philosopher or ethicist.

But I have digressed greatly. Back to the original question. Social liberalism would lead one to believe that tolerance and acceptance are the same, that I must accept the religions and beliefs of others. Once again, acceptance means to receive with satisfaction or give a favorable reception. Tolerance, however, means that while I must *endure* (put up with) the beliefs of others, I do not have to give them a favorable reception – I simply have to let them BE.

Tolerance and acceptance also go hand in hand with that 4 syllable monster of a word that has been bandied about so much – DIVERSITY. This country has been referred to as a “melting pot”, “multicultural”, “salad bowl” or “cultural mosaic”. While technically these terms all have different nuances to their meanings, the bottom line is usually that we have to be accepting of all cultures. Celebrate diversity.

But is celebrating diversity what made this nation a great one? The study of our nation’s history (not what is currently taught in public school – but don’t get me started on that) will show that there were people of very diverse backgrounds who came to these shores in search of freedom from oppression – and that oppression came in many forms. They had to learn to work together – and the successful communities learned early on that those who didn’t work, didn’t eat. Their diversity did not hold them together – they worked for a common goal, that of survival – and survive they did, in spite of their diversity.

I’m not advocating that anyone give up their heritage or forget where they came from, I just feel strongly that when it comes to acceptance, and diversity, we should have our eyes on the things that we share in common – our humanity – and learn to truly TOLERATE our differences.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

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