7.31.2009

Foreign Affairs Friday: Quick Revisits

This week, I'd like to bring up a couple of happenings related to past FAF posts:
  • Iran: While sporadic post-election protest continue, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is poking his hard-line allies with a stick, particularly over the issue of who will be his first vice president. He chose someone the Ayatollah didn't like. I'm not sure why Mahmoud would want to anger the people that saved his hide in the recent election. He already alienated those who want reform. Why alienate those fellow believers in the Islamic Revolution? Unless he thinks that public opinion of the Ayatollah has been diminished because of his post-election actions, and that this is Mahmoud's chance to claim more power.
  • Moldova: They had their redo election, and the non-Communist parties won a combined 50.7% of the vote. This is good news, but it may be very difficult for these four parties to form and sustain a governing coalition. Ukrainian reformers have had trouble with that since the Orange Revolution, and Georgia is also struggling. A divided coalition with a bare majority faces a lot of difficulties in getting things done. Hopefully, with assistance from Europe, this coalition can persevere.

7.30.2009

Today's second post about dead people or Twilight: A short review.

I watched Twilight last night. I didn't expect to like, I didn't want to like it - I mean, Bella is kinda annoying and stupid, or maybe just annoyingly stupid, and Edward, where do you even start with him? Let's see - he's over100 years old and interested in a 17 yr old, has no personality whatsoever, calls her his own personal heroin, creeps into her room at night to watch her sleep and looks like he is about to throw up 90% of the time. But there was one line in the movie I really liked.

He introduces some lady (she has a name, I just don't remember it) to Bella saying "This is my mother, for all intents and purposes." Be still my heart, someone else on the planetwno knows that is not an expression about "intensive purposes." Or maybe some of those people know what the expression is, they just can't pronunciate, either way, that is one of my yes-I-know-this-is-ridiculously-petty-but-it-really-gets-on-my-nerves pet peeves. I might just have to cave in and read the books.

Another Home Alternative

MacKenzie has written about home birthing before, but this NY Times article covers the other end of things: home burial. The article focuses a lot on actual burial of people on private property, but I think the more interesting part is about the care of a body in the day or two after death. Just like we've lost touch with the natural aspect of giving birth, we've done so with dying. People just don't know what to do in either situation, because we're used to just calling someone else to take care of it. Just as people have become more interested in birthing alternatives, they are thinking about after-death alternatives:
Advocates say the number of home funerals, where everything from caring for the dead to the visiting hours to the building of the coffin is done at home, has soared in the last five years, putting the funerals “where home births were 30 years ago,” according to Chuck Lakin, a home funeral proponent and coffin builder in Waterville, Me.
Not only does this seem to be a more intimate, personal experience than the funeral home method, it's much less expensive. Plus, much of modern burial seems wasteful. Why pay for an expensive coffin and vault, just to stick them in the dirt? And why pump a body full of chemicals to make it look good for an extra day or two? Charles Lindbergh had something like this done when he died.

But just like medical groups go to state legislatures to try to restrict competition from midwives, funeral directors are trying to restrict alternatives:
Recently, some states, with the backing of the funeral industry, have considered restricting the practice of home funerals. Oregon legislators last month passed a bill that would require death midwives to be licensed, something no state currently does.
Most people who do this go the cremation route, it seems. As far as I can tell, most cemeteries won't let you be buried without a vault, unless you can find a "green cemetery" that is set aside for natural burials.

I think this is an intriguing idea, one that I hope I don't have to consider anytime soon.

7.29.2009

UHF: EcoSneaks

I didn't really feel like it was necessary to include this as an Undercover Hippie File, but Craig wasn't going to let me get away with buying them and not telling you.

You see, I needed shoes for d.c. I wanted them to be somewhat fashionable (i.e. even I didn't want to wear running shoes with skirts) but I knew we would be walking all over dc and my cute work shoes are okay for working in the lab all day but would definitely have given me blisters by hour 6 of our 12 hr sightseeing days. So off to the mall I went.

I had a type of shoe in mind but as soon as I saw these
I loved them. I didn't even notice till I was actually trying them on that they were Ecosneaks made by Simple Shoes (shoes for a happy planet).

Now, a happy planet sounds nice but I didn't buy them because the sole is made from recycles tires, or the lining is organic cotton and hemp, or they use old plastic milk jugs for the cushion. I bought them because I liked them. But since they costs less than the other shoe I also liked so I was getting them anyway, I will say that it's pretty cool they are so UH friendly. And they did an excellent job of keeping my feet happy during my trip too.

7.28.2009

CraigCare

Obama's drive for health care reform seems to be floundering, which is good. Considering that Medicare is a fraud-riddled beast that threatens to swallow our entire federal budget in 10 years or so, I don't know how anyone can want the government to take over more of health care. And all the stories that come out of our neighbor to the north about long waits and denied treatments make the Democratic plan even more unpalatable.

Although Obama likes to set up the dichotomy of "my plan or nothing," there are other ideas out there. Here are my health care reform recommendations:
  • Medical malpractice reform, to reduce frivolous lawsuits and the unnecessary procedures that doctors perform in order to avoid these lawsuits. This "defensive medicine" is estimated to increase medical costs by 10%. Texas has had good results from its medical tort reform.
  • Allow people to buy health insurance across state lines. A lot of states impose ridiculous mandates on their health insurers, requiring them to cover acupuncture or in vitro fertilization for everyone. These mandates drive costs up. People shop nationwide for car insurance and mortgages, so why not health insurance?
  • More use of "retail health clinics," like those located at CVS or Wal-mart. There, people can get quick, low-cost, walk-in service for minor ailments, usually from a nurse practitioner. These clinics reduce costs, free up emergency rooms, and expand access. Of course, doctors' groups oppose them.
  • Tax employer-provided health insurance. There is currently not much of a link between the people that use health care and those that pay for it. People don't think about what procedures cost, because insurance will cover most or all of it. Similary, when people get insurance from their employer, they usually have no say in what plan they get. Taxing employer-provided insurance would push more people to get their own insurance, in which case they would buy the plan that is best for them, not for their employer. At my last job, my employer was definitely paying more for my insurance than I would have paid for a basic individual plan.
  • Related to the above point, I'm not sure about offering tax credits for people to buy health insurance. It seems like offering such credits could cause inflation of premiums, cancelling out whatever good the credits do. Maybe these credits could be offered exclusively to the poor and/or the young.
  • More use of Health Savings Accounts. These accounts allow people to have tax-free savings accounts to use to pay health costs, and are used in conjunction with high-deductible plans, which create incentives for people to shop around for health care and question the benefit and necessity of costly procedures.
  • Much is made about the benefit of being in a group plan versus an individual plan for spreading risk around and decreasing costs. Currently, this is done by getting insurance at work. It seems like people could instead get insurance through other types of groups. For example, there are credit unions for people who work in certain fields or live in certain areas. Similar groups could be formed to get health insurance. People could also buy into plans through their college alumni association, for example.
Thoughts?

7.27.2009

Flowers

My favorite part of the DC Botanical Gardens was being able to take pictures of all the flowers. I'm fairly picky with the types of flowers I like, but there were still lots of interesting ones to shoot. After narrowing down my set of about 30 to just a few favorites, I had an evening of fun with Photoshop. I'm thinking about getting a set of four (the vertical ones, I wish I had another good horizontal one as the white is my favorite, but I can't do a set of 3 vertical and one horizontal!) printed for our bedroom. Which set is your favorite?

7.24.2009

Foreign Affairs Friday: Swine Flu

As the Northern Hemisphere flu season approaches, talk of swine-flu vaccines is increasing. The disease has hung around below the equator all summer, and so should be resurgent up here this winter. I think this is all overblown, and I'm not to eager to participate in a rushed, government-organized vaccination campaign. But the question of international competition for vaccines in the case of major problems with swine flu (or some other disease) is an interesting one to consider in this week's FAF segment.

According to the AP, "about 70 percent of the world's existing flu vaccines are made in Europe, and only a handful of countries are self-sufficient in vaccines." This becomes a problem when multiple countries decides to engage in mass vaccination, or when lots of people in multiple countries demand vaccines. Contracts that countries have with foreign vaccine makers may be broken by the host governments:

"This isn't rocket science," said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "If there is severe disease, countries will want to hang onto the vaccine for their own citizens."

Experts say politicians would not be able to withstand the pressure.

"The consequences of shipping vaccine to another country when your own people don't have it would be devastating," added David Fedson, a retired vaccine industry executive.

In such a situation, each country would be looking out for itself. The US, for one, would not have enough vaccine to treat every citizen. At the same time, the World Health Organization and poor countries would be demanding that rich countries share vaccines with them. Their demands would likely go unheeded. The threat of "vaccine wars" is even raised in the linked article, but I'm not sure if this means actual war, or merely figurative war.

How vaccines are distributed within each country is another consideration. I suspect Congress would try to put themselves, their families, their nannies, and their mistresses atop the list. That's a subject for another post, however. As for me, I'll just retreat to my underground bunker in the woods.

7.22.2009

Lock Him Up

This black Harvard professor, Henry Gates, who was arrested the other day at his home, is an absolute ass. He was trying to get into his house, but had to force the door open because it was stuck. A suspicious neighbor called the police, who showed up to check on things. Gates, instead of being glad that the police were responding to a potential burglary, goes off on a tirade, getting himself arrested. Now, of course, he claims racial profiling.

What gets me is the way CNN covered this. They gave two options: either there was a misunderstanding, or there was racism. They didn't stop to think maybe this guy deserved to be arrested. CNN, like the Washington Post did in the attached article, repeatedly insists this guy is "renowned." CNN suggested that the neighbor who called police and the cops themselves should have recognized this guy on sight and left him alone. I am pretty knowledgeable about current events, and I've never heard of this guy before. If he's like most ethnic studies "scholars," I'm sure he's a quack. He probably saw the cop approaching and knew he could get some headlines by getting himself arrested. That's probably why he's "renowned;" he knows how to play the media.

I'm glad to see the cop in this situation is standing his ground. I hope his superiors don't hang him out to dry.

...and Monuments

Washington Monument= 3.5 (Craig = 3.5 MacKenzie)
This is the only monument I'm going to rank because you really have to do all the others. Well, you have to see this one too, it's impossible to miss, but you don't have to go up in it. Again, we spent the few extra dollars to get our tickets ahead of time and skip the long morning line. It was fun to go up and see the great views of the city
but it's not necessary. If you don't want to spend the money or wait in line, I wouldn't stress about missing it.

I also don't really understand it as a monument. The other monuments make you remember either the people themselves (Lincoln or those who died in Vietnam) or evoke the ideals for which they stood (Liberty, Equality) but the Washington monument is just a big obelisk.
Since we had both already seen of most the monuments before, we wanted to make it a little different so we did the Washington monument about 7pm then spent the rest of the evening walking around the other monument as the sun set and it got dark. I highly recommend doing this. Instead of being hot and sweaty, it was cool, calm and had amazing views.

Walking around to the Jefferson and FDR memorials was so peaceful.
We even had time to swing by the George Mason Memorial.
I had heard complaints about the new WWII memorial, but I really liked it.
I think overall the war memorials were more moving at night, the statues in the Korean War memorial looked almost real.
Very sobering, even with the tour guides and their flashing light-up umbrellas bustling around you. My pictures aren't that great, but I would rather have good memories than good pictures.

7.21.2009

A bit of a break

Note: We've been having some bad storms around here and my internet at home is down. I can still put up some posts I've got saved and respond to comments during breaks at work but it might take me longer to respond than normal.

On our third day of our vacation, we decided to take a bit of a break and have some down time at a little community Craig knew of, taking the day to walk around a local festival and spend an hour canoeing around a lake in town. Nice and relaxing. Which means we both get a break from my super long vacation posts. Enjoy!


7.20.2009

M is for Museum

The title pretty much says it all so let's get started:

National Archives = 4 (Craig = 4.5 MacKenzie = 3.5)

The lines are long but we went early and they moved fast. Craig knew just where to go so we got to the line for the cool stuff quickly and headed in. There isn't really a whole lot here, but what they have is pretty impressive (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights). I didn't take any pictures because even with it's no flash setting, my camera sends out a metering light and I didn't want take part in any destruction of historical documents or be whisked away to the torture chamber where they send the "flashers" although the big group of kids flashing their camera lights all over Magna Carta didn't seem to be bothered by any security detail.

We did take a few minutes to look around other stuff that most people skip where we found - President Taft's bath tub! How cool is that?! Now, I have to let you know that in my excitement over the bathtub, I did take a picture. And despite the fact that there weren't any "No Camera Flash" signs or any reason to think that bath tubs would be damaged by a flash, I kept my camera's flash off. But even the metering light was too much and a security guy came running over with arms flailing to stop me. I really wanted to tell him he would be better off guarding the Magna Carta, but I kept my mouth shut. I just hope you readers appreciate this picture.


National Gallery of Art (West) = 4 (Craig = 4 MacKenzie =4)


Our first museum of the trip and what a delightful way to start. We actually started out at the East Gallery but took the tunnel over to this one when the East seemed too modern and that isn't how we roll (we tend to like our art like we like our hymns - old). The "What to see in an hour" guide helped us hit the highlights but we took a longer convoluted route so we could see more on our way.

The Smithsonians:
American History = 4 (Craig = 4 MacKenzie = 4)

I wanted to go here for the pop culture item like Dorothy's Red Slippers
and the Muppets


and Craig said okay because 1) he's nice (don't let the grouchy picture fool you) and 2) they had Lincoln stuff. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that Craig is a big fan of Lincoln (see here, here and here). I personally found some of the Lincoln memorabilia kinda creepy.
We both enjoyed Julia Child's kitchen and the "Within the Walls" exhibit which showed the changes to a house over 200 years and had stories on the real-life American families that lived there. I was excited about the Science in American Life exhibit but got annoyed with the "Better than Nature - The Pill" section and environmental hazards sections. (I might go into more detail about those later but I don't know if I can do it without ranting so maybe not).

Natural History = 4.75 (Craig = 5 MacKenzie = 4.5)

We got there right when it opened and after some issues with the security (you can take a crochet hook onto an airplane but apparently not into the Smithsonian) we headed up the second floor. It was great, we probably only saw 4 or 5 people in our first hour we spent exploring the crazy world of Ants (way more fascinating that you would think, especially with the cool macro photos), the Hope Diamond and the Western Cultures. Apparently Monday at 10am is the time to go museuming. By the time we finished those and got to the exhibit about forensic science and it's role in determining what happened in 17th century settlements in Maryland and Virginia, the people were arriving. But it was still worth it. That was one of the coolest exhibits I've ever seen. I'm sad that it is only there until February 2011 but I really hope you all get to go to D.C. by then to see it. The mammal hall was pretty cool too, but it was really crowded. Overall, this was our favorite museum of the three. It had an ideal mix of history for Craig and science for me.

I really really wanted to give it a five but the entire downstairs (Ocean Floor and Mammal hall) was inundated with evolution. I was expecting it to be there occasionally (like the Evolution Trail, which we skipped) but it was in places it didn't need to be and in ways that didn't even make sense.

For example, a sign about large birds said that they evolved to be oddly proportioned and flightless because they didn't have any predators and didn't need to be small and flighted anymore, except in areas where they do have predators, there they evolved to be oddly proportioned and flightless but with the ability to run fast. Why couldn't they have just said that although these birds are oddly proportioned and can't fly, they can still run fast to escape predators? So, after that, I had to give it a 4.5. But you should still go.

7.18.2009

In which I am about a month behind

I was recently reminded that I never told you how the baby shower turned out. Which is very rude of me considering how helpful y'all were.

For the gift, I went with this pattern and used the softest pooh fabric I could find. The original pattern is the wide one but I thought I think my diapers were narrower than here and it was too much fabric since the plain diaper parts were going to be more absorbent so I did two wide and two narrow. Except for the part where I learned you absolutely can't take out a stitch once it gets woven into the diaper mesh, it was a really easy project that I will probably do again.
Fallon made the cake and it was so adorable! Piglet, Pooh and the little butterfly were made of fondant ahead of time but the rest of the decorating was done on site in just the hour or so before the party. Talk about working under pressure but she did such an amazing job. It was the talk of the party.
For the menu, we served:
Piglets in a blanket (I think that was Craig's idea but I liked it :-)
Rabbit's tomato salad
Pooh's honey-yogurt dip with fruit
Eeyore's sour-faced mini key lime pies
Punch (Someone else fixed the punch but it used lifesavor brand sherbet as is sooo good and I'm not normally a big fan of punch. If you ever make punch with sherbet, use the lifesavor kind. Trust me.)
And for decorations, we just used lots of pretty girly platters and lacy tablecloths that the home hostess had on hand. Another co-hostess found three or four large stuffed characters on Craig's list, cleaned them up real well and set them around the room. The mom then got to take them home. It fit the theme but was still elegant. She also made the mother and grandmothers corsages with baby socks and ribbons. Too cute!

Taking in all your thoughts about the positives and negatives of games and the issue of not knowing at all how many people would be there, I went with an out of the box craft idea instead. We all decorated 4X6 scrapbook pages with verses we thought would encourage a new mom. These went into a stand up flip type photo album so she can have them displayed in the baby's room. I was a little worried that some of the women would lament their lack of craftiness and hesitate to participate but they all joined in and it turned out great. There were quite a few young ladies (10-14ish) that knew the mom very well and their obvious effort to make something special for her was so amazing to watch. Alas, I didn't get a picture of it as I was having too much fun talking with everyone.

So thanks for all your planning help and if you ever are hosting a winnie the pooh baby shower, you now know what to do. Of course, you have to get super talented co-hostesses and a mom as sweet as the one I had to work with which is next to impossible, but you can still try.

7.17.2009

Foreign Affairs Friday: Honduras

This weekend could be eventful as far as the political situation in Honduras is concerned. As you recall, Honduran President Zelaya, a buddy of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, broached the topic of getting rid of the one-term limit on presidents, a popular ploy for wannabe dictators. The government there, including the military, the Supreme Court, and Zelaya's own political party, united in opposition to this. The removed him from power, deciding to send him to exile rather than arresting him, in hopes of reducing domestic turmoil. The world sadly has sided largely with Zelaya, condemning Honduras far more than they did Iran after its election shenanigans. Now, the former President of Costa Rica is attempting to mediate the situation.

At the same time, though, Zelaya is thinking of making a second attempt to return to the country. His first attempt, via airplane, was turned back. He and his people have made some ominous statements:
"The establishment and installation of an alternative seat of government will be to direct what I will call the final battle" against leaders of the coup that toppled Zelaya, [foreign minister, Patricia Rodas] said.
"The people have the right to insurrection. It's a constitutional right," [Zelaya] added, saying Honduras' constitution stipulated that no citizen had to obey a "usurper regime."
It is clear that Zelaya is willing to provoke mass unrest in order to get his way. It also seems clear that he wants to emulate Hugo Chavez (who has a lot at stake here) in gaining extraconstitutional power. What's not clear is how this will be resolved. Neither Zelaya or the current president seem to be backing down. The de facto Honduran regime doesn't have much international support, so it seems likely to have to relent eventually, but the next election is scheduled for November, so hopefully they can delay and extract concessions that will ensure that any Zelaya return to power is short and uneventful.

7.16.2009

DC - Part 1

Whew, we did so much in DC it was ridiculous. I was always the trip planner for the family vacations we took growing up and my family would probably say that I am a schedule Nazi but Craig has me beat. And being a military brat, most of our family vacations were visiting friends/family while we were moving and we knew a lot of people in DC, so I had already visited at least 3 times that I remember but we still found lots of new and interesting places to explore so I won't complain about the grueling pace of our trip and the sore muscles it left me with.

I'll tell you up front, this will be a long post or two. I will just talk about each place we went to, show a few (okay, it will probably be a lot of) pictures, and give our recommendations but we did so much, it's gonna be long. Our ratings are on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being the best.

Capitol = 3 (Craig = 3 MacKenzie = 3)

It was a little disappointing because we signed up for the VIP tour through our Congressman and had heard from others that his pages take you around, but we just ended up on the general public tour. Craig said it made him reject the thought of ever voting for that guy as the public tour was really crowded and hard to hear. And I think the pre-tour video you sit through made Craig want to spew with all its "legislative branch is the best thing in the world" propaganda, but I tuned it out. Even with those negatives, I did enjoy seeing the rotunda and the statue gallery plus we did snag a cool picture of this guy from North Dakota. And anytime you get to see something North Dakota-related on a non-North Dakota trip, it's pretty cool.
Then, due to a miscommunication, we had to leave the Capitol to go to Mr. Congressman's
office to pick up our House and Senate passes then head back to the Capitol to sit in the House gallery (the Senate ended its day while we were in line so we missed that). It was pretty neat just to be sitting there but as it was Friday afternoon, there were only about 7-8 Congressman there and they were only discussing when they should take vacation - boring!

Botanical Gardens = 3.5 ( Craig = 3 MacKenzie = 4)

I hadn' t heard of this until I read someone's blog post with DC recommendations. It was on it, was something new, and was near the Capitol so we said - "why not?" Turns out, there isn't a good reason not to go here. It didn't take too long but it was a very nice break from all the crowded historical sites and I really enjoyed just walking around looking at tons of plants I had never seen. It was also one of my favorite places to take pictures. I'll probably be posting pictures later to get your recommendations on which to have printed. I think Craig got a little bored and wished he had something about Lincoln to read but that probably because he didn't have a camera like all those little kids did.

Ford's Theatre = 4.25 (Craig = 5 MacKenzie = 3.5)
Just reopened (we actually went before the grand reopening but still got to see all the new parts) and fairly nifty. We bought our tickets online instead of waiting early in the morning for the free ones but even if you don't, I think it would be worth waiting for, just to see the place where the whole thing went down.
(I know you don't really need to see two pictures of us waiting to enter, but I love this one of Craig because it illustrates the fact that this particular tourist spot is heavily weighted toward the older visitor).

The museum downstairs is pretty thorough, covering Lincoln's presidency, Booth's history, and the events of the day. While I didn't know much before the trip, I had learned quite a bit earlier that weekend from other museums and thought I might be bored, but I still found new information to keep me interested. My only negative with it was the timing, you go through the museum for a specific amount of time before heading to the real theatre for the presentation and it was longer than I needed in the museum (but not longer than Craig needed :-) Once upstairs, you see one of two small plays or a talk by a park ranger. You don't really know which one you will get. We got the park ranger talk and he pretty much went over what we had just read. It was a little long and while Craig enjoyed it and I probably would have too if I hadn't spent the day sightseeing, but since I had, I found it really hard to stay awake. I managed, but the lady next to me did not...and no, she was not a silent sleeper.

I might have enjoyed the plays more but that would have seemed weird, to be sitting there, seeing his seats, seeing the stage Booth leaped onto, breaking his leg, seeing the aisle they carried Lincoln out on...and being entertained, instead of seeing it as the more serious, historical site that it is. The ranger said that he considered Lincoln's assassination to be the worst act of terrorism in the U.S to this day. I would never have thought about it in those terms, but after reading all about it, I think Craig and I decided it did fit the definition of a terrorist act but was not necessarily the worst.

That's about it for now. We'll pick up our trip again soon (and hopefully on a happier note :-)

7.15.2009

Kid Pics

I've noticed a tourist trend that appears to be quite common these days. I have not previously frequented touristy locales, so I don't know how old this phenomenon is. But when I see a tourist family out and about, it is very likely that one of the kids will be carrying and using the camera. And I'm not talking about 16-year-olds; these kids are about 10. Instead of having mom or dad take quality pictures, the kid(s) get to take photos that are undoubtedly subpar.

I assume this is happening because, when kids see things that look fun, they want to do them. Helping in the kitchen, driving the car, and holding the baby are some examples. When they see the camera, they demand, in whiny fashion, to be the family photographer, and mom and dad relent.

I figure there are two reasons that this is occurring. First, with the advent of digital cameras, there is no more film to waste. In the past, a parent would resist turning over the camera because there were only 24 or so photos on the roll of film, and he/she wouldn't want to pay to develop bad pictures. Now, large memory cards allow almost unlimited photos to be taken. If they are bad, they can be deleted later. The only risk is that the family will go home with no good photos from their trip.

The second reason is that, as far as I can tell, parenting is becoming more lax. In the past, parents might have said, "I'll run the camera. You can do it when you're older. Now shut up and look at the dinosaur or we're going home." Today, parents try to argue and reason, and when they give in once, kids know that they can get their way next time. So parents simply surrender the camera. Hence, the multitude of kiddie photog wannabes.

This concludes my essay on the interplay of modern parenting and modern technology.

7.14.2009

7.10.2009

Who's Your Daddy?

I never really paid a whole lot of attention to the question of whether Thomas Jefferson really fathered children with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves. From what little I gleaned, I thought they had proved it was true. But then I saw this book at Barnes & Noble last week: In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal. In it, author William Hyland, Jr purports to debunk the story in true lawyerly fashion, since that's what he is.

I don't think I'll read the book, because I'm not that interested in the story, but I decided to poke around a little to learn more about it. Here you can read the reports of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. The majority report says TJ is the father, the minority report says it is not proven. Here are a few observations of mine:
  • There seems to be a strong yearning by many for this to be true. I don't know if it's a racial thing, a "tar the Founding Fathers" thing, or what.
  • The fact that Jefferson was home during the window of conception for each kid is strong evidence for paternity.
  • The DNA evidence really isn't, though, because only one Hemings descendant was able to be tested, and it doesn't rule out Jefferson relatives (like his brother Randolph) as being the father. All it proves is that one Hemings kid (Eston) was fathered by a Jefferson.
  • The TJF majority seems to lend too much credence to the fact that one Hemings kid, Madison, stated in 1873 that Jefferson was his dad, and that Hemings family lore says Jefferson was their father. People like to believe that they have famous relatives. People would much rather be Thomas Jefferson's kid than Randolph Jefferson's, so that would easily explain the family lore, which becomes less credible with each generation. Plus, Madison would obviously have been too young to have any firsthand remembrance of these times, and he didn't have a fatherly relationship or anything with Jefferson that would corroborate his gut feeling.
  • All things considered, I am skeptical of Thomas Jefferson's paternity in this case.

7.09.2009

The Beav Plays Ball

On Monday the Beav's baseball camp started. I took an early lunch break to get him there on time and we go sign in. I stole a glance at his schedule before he headed in and see that he is playing a game at 8pm, right before I pick him up at 9:15. So I ask if I could come and watch. The guys says "Sure, there will be lots of other moms there."

My external reply: "Great, thanks"
My internal reply: "What! You think I'm his mother? Do I seriously look old enough to have a high schooler? I know we live in crazy times but I think 8 is a little young to have a kid. Even if I had he was just barely old enough for camp and I had him at 16, I would still have to be 30."

I might be worried that at the ripe old age of 24, I am beginning to look old and haggard had I not recently been in a conversation where someone expressed disbelief that I was in a certain homegroup because "Isn't that for couples? You're not old enough to be married are you?" Apparently, I look old enough to have a 15 year old but not old enough to be married.

Anyway, I head over to watch him play that evening. I grab my camera and get in my stealthy picture taking mood so as to be assured great pictures and a non-embarrassed brother. The sun was setting. The light was perfect. The grass was green and bright. The boys were out in the field with the Olsen field sign right behind them and Kyle field behind that. I really couldn't have imagined a better place for a Aggie sister to take pictures of her brother playing ball. And you will have to imagine it as well because as soon as I turned the camera on, the battery died.

But it was still a nice night. By 8:30 it has cooled down to 90 and there was a bit of a breeze in the stands. It was the first time I had been comfortable outside in a number of weeks. And I did get to watch him play which I rarely get to do so I left happy and he left tired...and hungry. I forgot how much teenage boys eat, especially when the eat "dinner" at 4:00 and play 4 more hours of baseball.

Last night he finished up camp so we get to get to hang out this morning then head back to the airport. He will be flying home while Craig and I start our little summer vacation. It would be an understatement to say that I haven't seen a whole lot of Craig this summer so I am super excited about having 3.5 days for just the two of us. Unfortunately, life has been pretty crazy for me lately so I have no posts saved up. You'll just have to wait until next week to hear all our crazy adventures in ....