Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newtown Essay: Light is brighter than dark.

From one of my old friends, reposted with permission from Facebook. Edited only for paragraph spacing. 

I find it odd that everyone is shocked by the murder of the innocent, wide-eyed and hopeful cherubs at Sandy Hook Elementary. It seems everyone is unable to believe that first grade giggles and joyful mischief were cut short by hatred, evil, anger and a rocket-fast pieces of steel. I find myself feeling somehow isolated in my grief, my grief and weeping that did not start Friday, the 14th of December in the year 2012. Rather, my first encounter with crushing sadness was as a small child. I saw a man grab a cat by the tail and throw it over the fence. My first memory of cruelty. My first memory of intense fear of a human action. 

Another time, I remember children screaming in the face of a child that was apparently not up to snuff. Not cool. Different. Abused by other children for her perceived shortcomings. She would rip out her hair in response. Later, gripped by pain as I saw grown-ups’ faces contorted in disgust as they stepped quickly over another human. A human identical to them through my child-like lens save for the dirty, torn clothes and upward palms asking for leftovers, for hope. I remember wanting to stay, to fill their hand but my weight was no match for the fast paced hand gripping mine. The chill of emptiness as I once saw a woman slap a gorgeous toddler across the face in the grocery store. The shock that not all mothers are mommies. A chill as I listened to a girl in middle school explain why Jews are “dirty.” It wasn’t her words I remember. It was her eyes and the crushing squint in the corner of each. A squint that meant more that all the hatred spewing from her mouth. Another lesson by a different dead spirit breathing icy breath into the word “bitch.” Again learning that words hurt and are often intended to destroy to devour and to make useless. 

I learned the face of hatred early in the small ways it makes its presence known here on our earth. I learned that fear can grip your soul and paralyze. I learned that evil is looking to be unleashed with every conceived thought, with every whispered word, with every kinetic motion. I learned that rage is ugly and scary. Like the wild animals instinctively know the early sounds of a storm foreshadow danger, so do the little ones in our midst recognize the repulsiveness of the face of hate and cruelty. The ugliness of darkness and lack of light. 

Like the moment of discovering a marital affair brings to awareness a broken marriage, so have the murders in Newtown invited those of you, lucky enough to have avoided awareness for so long, into the darkness and filth in which we reside. It’s a horrifying and vile place, is it not? This darkness, this vantage point. Like the sting of a slap is this unwelcome wake-up call. We need a rescue plan. We need a Savior. Something to which to cling like mad. Something to make this life bearable. If you are new to this reality, then welcome.

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary is not novel, it is not unique. It’s only shockingly close to you and you can no longer ignore it. It is only that this particular evil act resulted in irreversible halting of lives. You can’t smooth it over. Can't pretend it didn’t happen. Evil often manifests in ways that are easier for us to ignore. Easier to rationalize. Superiority. Pride. Disdain. Name calling. Hate. Rage. Child abuse. Exploitation. Pornography. Prostitution. 4 year-olds watching bodies being blown up on Xbox. Children listening to parents scream obscenities to each other deep in the night. Facebook posts that might as well just say “fuck you.” 

But here is why we are going to persevere: To recognize light, you must know dark. To receive redemption, you must be broken first. To be rescued, you must first be in peril. We are there? Correct? 
Into this muck a Savior has come. He brings light and life. Love and hope. Joy that is unending and obtainable even in times of profound sadness and grief. He brings promises of renewal and unconditional grace. He brings the ability for each of us, for YOU, to welcome Him into your soul. To become His servant to spread peace, love, light, hope, faith, tenderness to your corner of this dark place. We have choices with every thought we embrace, with every sound we utter, with every gesture we allow. 

Let us fight back, push back this evil that has been rampant since the beginning. Light is brighter than dark. Love heals wounds. Joy washes away tears. Go wild with the loving spirit God has placed within you. Be brazen with gentleness. Allow kindness to hemorrhage over the surface of this broken place. Be certain of His unending love for you and be fearless in spreading His message. Go in peace. Go quickly. Our time here is brief. Our hearts have been broken like His, let us become more and more like Him every day.

Elizabeth H. Tichy, MD

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Bacon Rolls and Levi's GoForth

Back home. Had a lovely time. Saw friends. Got lots of writing done. Finally saw Breaking Dawn 2, which was horrible, but I'll cover that later. Today, I have two pre-movie adverts that caught my attention (London theaters run TV commercials or PSAs—very creepy PSA's—before the trailers). Kevin Bacon, center of the universe, second video below, gave me a laugh. The Levis' GoForth campaign, however, is just so young and modern it almost offends my aging soul. These kids have no jobs but somehow think that an attitude and a pair of jeans in an interview hold the key to success? Have we taught them no humility or common sense? None at all?

There are so many Kevin Bacon videos on YouTube, I had to add the British term "advert" to the search to pick this up.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

School Fundraisers: The Self Perpetuating Spiral

Now that the election is over, I can get back to motherhood and education topics. These ladies are singing my song: Why I Refuse to Do School Fundraisers. All of their points are good, I'd only add the spiraling trends point from my American motherhood reverse culture shock post last year: 

[H]ere is a major difference between American and British school fundraisers: we fund raise for the schools, not charities.  The idea that tuition is sufficient to pay for a school's needs is completely foreign to the American school system.  Private schools rely on fundraising, as do public schools.  A short version of the Texas tale, similar to tales across the country: state schools are funded by property taxes.  School districts with valuable property had more money than others.  The courts shut that “unfair” system down a while back leading to the "Robin Hood" regime whereby property taxes go into a pool and are divided equally throughout Texas.  Wealthier areas, therefore, supplement their school budgets with fundraising.   The charitable function performed by British school fundraising is served by a host of other organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, National Charity League, the Junior League, and by our well attended churches.  I covered this a bit here, but for now, I digress. 
The upshot is that the elaborate school functions not only create more work for the actual parties, but also create more need for fundraising.  More and better fundraisers mean fancier functions and facilities.  The trends feed each other.   
Witness the school fairs. The Fall Festival I mentioned, it reminded me of the London nursery school field day merged with the Christmas Fair if it had a bubble machine, zip line, class pictures, and—I am not making this up—a DJ. I did a stint on the nursery PTA in London.  Planning for our much smaller Christmas Fair took some man hours.  I can only imagine how much work this Fall fest took.  In addition we have the typical holiday parties (though don’t call them Christmas parties in a public school). There are also teacher appreciation luncheons.  The moms bring food and cover the class so the teachers can have a morning off.  (For the British moms who have to keep reading that last because it can't possibly say that, I assure you, this happens.  I took brownies.)
More to come. I held my PJLifestyle Paglia review with it's education critique. Motherhood administration posts coming as well. Even I'm sick of politics.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Flirting with Chaos Friday, Just a Few Pop Culture Critiques

Every other Friday, my housekeeper/nanny comes all day. Those are the two days a month I can campout in a coffee shop and write all day without worrying about school pickups. (The next closest day is Wednesday when I have from 9:30 to 2:30 for writing. Otherwise I crib together an hour here and there.) Anyway, today is not that Friday. Today is a flirting with chaos Friday. I was prepared with an art project, but the twins started painting—the kitchen table—before I got the plastic bottle flowers cut out. The flirting has gotten more aggressive as the day has worn on. Moms, you know what I mean.
I'm going for something like this under our tree house. We've got about half a dozen done today because we are painting by hand. Spray paint would be easier, if I wasn't doing this project with two 4 year olds. Pic from The Thrillz of Hillz, who was trying to camo, as it were, a dumpster.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Consenting Adults

After the debate tonight, I'm burning some midnight oil in order to write a warm welcome back to Camille Paglia. She's been researching a new book for the past few years and has diminished women's debates by her absence. Now she is back in the fray and does not disappoint. Until I can write more, I'm bumping this Paglia inspired post from March.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Truth About Love in the Summer's Music Releases

This past summer’s music releases were heavy on themes about love and marriage.  I know that many think that rock and pop albums are vapid or coarse intellectual and moral wastelands. There are certainly moments for musical doubt. 
I must admit that I stared blankly at my computer screen when my Amazon purchasing history that pegs me as a 40 year old mother suggested that I might like the also newly released, Fifty Shades of Gray: The Classical Album, a collection of classical works chosen by EL James based upon her wildly popular fan fiction cum novels. At least it is just a collection of existing works and not some modern Hooked On Classics, remixing Chopin with a ominous seductive beat. It debuted at number one on the classical charts, outselling the next 80 albums combined.
That album oddity aside, sometimes in the lyrics of pop music, you can find bright gems of knowledge—or even wisdom. Hence my new piece at PJLifestyle about the truth and consquences of the hook up culture from Alanis Morissette, P!nk, Katy Perry, and back to Alanis. 
One of the most popular songs on Alanis' Jagged Little Pill was "You Learn." Even back then, in her years of bile and anger, Alanis recognized that we are to learn from mistakes, that's what they are for. But the carefree environment of the hook up culture robs women of this ability to see mistakes much less learn from them. If there is no sense of consequence, then there is no sense of responsibility.
It wasn't just the female rockers focusing on love and marriage, either. Train and The Killers covered this ground. Matchbox Twenty might have as well. I’m not certain yet as that is the last album I downloaded and Tigger makes me keep "She's So Mean" on repeat. (Because of the line about freaking out when you don't shut your mouth, the kids think the song is about me. Yasha thinks this is very funny.)  
Train's California 37 has a couple of songs about marital love, which tend to the more romantic, finding your true love type. Considering the goofy lyrics and silly metaphors that Train favors, focusing on romance is probably for the best, although one of their old songs, “All I Ever Wanted,” is one of my favorite songs about martial love. Eight year old Calvin favors "50 Ways to Say Goodbye." The lyrics appeal to an 8 year old boy for some reason. Add on the Old West style music, and it is a boy favorite. I heard the band mention in an interview that they thought this might be a favorite of moms. Nope. 

For far more serious fare, The Killer's Battle Born, seems to be a concept album about love and marriage, only from a man's perspective. Battle Born hits all the themes I discussed at PJLifestyle with the additions of the betrayal of young men and Christian themes. 
If you are a casual listener to The Killers, you might miss that Brandon Flowers, frontman and lyricist for the band, is a steadfast evangelist who writes songs that could appear in hymnals alongside “Onward Christian Soldiers” and blend. And I write “seems” to be a love and marriage concept album because Flowers lyrics are complicated straight up, and this time, he layered them. I couldn’t fully analyze that album and P!nk, Alanis, and Perry and get any piece done close to the mid-September releases. I will continue listening and revisit The Killers later because typical analysis of Flowers lyrics on the web is shallow, and previous Flowers’ song interpretation posts are consistent bread and butter for this blog. Somebody is always trying to figure out what he is singing and I like figuring it out. 

For now, I've got cliches of modern women's debates in the works. I was going to do and expansion of how feminists made sex boring, but since Marissa Meyer had her baby last week, the women's debates cliches are flying. I'll work on that one first. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Reverse Culture Shock: Motherhood, Part 1, at School

This is a post from February 2012. I've bumped it up because I've had a few friends ask about it, I seem to have new readers, and because I will revisit and build on these themes at PJLifestyle soon.

In case anyone wondered if I was just a Brit basher who thought everything in America was bigger and better, allow me to put that notion to bed.  Sit back with a soothing cup of tea.  This will take a while.     
By far the most extreme reverse culture shock has been the nature of American motherhood.   
I thought I was prepared.  I started fighting American motherhood (thanks, Maverick) when Christopher Robin was born.  I braced for the return to the States.  Still, the awesomeness of the beast has shocked me.  Not only have I been gone for five years, but I’ve been living in a culture with motherhood issues on the opposite end of the spectrum.   When British motherhood goes of the rails it tends to too little motherhood, but when American motherhood goes off the rails--far more often than its British counterpart by the way--it tends to all consuming motherhood.  An interesting post for another time: Brits have different attitudes about nannies and schooling, often farming childcare wholly out to the nanny or sending kids to boarding school as early as 8.  A sentiment I have often heard that will make Americans' jaws drop to the floor: by 12 or 13, many British parents think their active parenting work is done; the rest of their formation is a job for schools, peers, and society.
Obviously the goal is a balance between the two extremes.  After spending most of early motherhood in London, I am more in tune with British mothers and think that we should take more lessons from our British counterparts.  Not only are British motherhood problems less frequent, but also they don’t necessarily destroy that which they seek build, happy and functional adults.  
Mothering over here reminds me of studying for the Bar exam.  There is so much information to understand that, during the weeks of review, every time you go to the loo, go to sleep, or stretch your legs you worry about wasting those precious study minutes.  The difference with the Bar exam is that the study period only lasts about six weeks.  American motherhood has the same sense of squeezing every moment for purpose and significance, only with no end in sight.  
The relentless nature of American motherhood  tries to do, give, and be everything our children need, and thereby exempts children from responsibility for just about everything and actively promotes their continued dependency on parents.  (I've written about why we do this previously.)  Not content with such irony, American motherhood has few advantages for women as well.  It can rob mothers of a sense of self and chip away at the foundations of marriages leaving mothers fractured and alone. (Fathers can fall to this child-centered life as well, but I will focus on mothers, because the issues a more acute for mothers, and I am one so know more about it.) To round out the horribleness, I seldom noticed the Mommy Wars in London, but I can't fail to notice them here.  They are hotter here.
I have two final notes before I start ranting.  One, isolate any one of the issues mentioned below, and the problem is not apparent.  The damage wrought by American motherhood results from these issues working together.  Think of a death spiral.  Two, this American motherhood is a battleground chosen by the affluent.  The plights I will describe are less dire than, for instance, inability to feed a family, and as such are often dismissed as not real problems.   But smaller problems are still problems, which is why they are only diminished by comparison to extreme hardship.  Worse, middle and lower class mothers get caught in the crossfire of our battle.  They are often left mired in guilt or stranded without options, or both.  To use an expression mothers will understand, we made this mess, we have to tidy it up.  And as the self help books tell us, the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

We didn't tell them.

Anon. I'd guess 21 years old. In the Daily Princetonian
It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I finally started regarding my freshman hookups as mistakes. This was partially because I had a hard time admitting that I had messed up. For me, to regret a decision was on par with saying “I screwed up big time,” which I could barely admit to myself, let alone a peer. And the desire to seem like I already knew it all, despite never having lived on my own before, kept me from asking questions when I first got to Princeton. But even if I had, there were elements of the hookup culture I would have never been able to anticipate, let alone seek advice about. 
I was so sheltered and naive as a freshman that I can barely believe I am that same person today. And I just wish someone had told me that the reality of hooking up is monumentally different from what I was expecting. I wish someone had told me that you don’t get into a relationship by meeting someone on the Street and taking him home or that they won’t even text you the next day. I wish someone had told me that when a guy says, “Hey, I want to show you this really funny video, but it’s in my room,” he’s going to show you much more than a video. And the awkwardness that happens when your hookup flat out pretends you don’t exist the day after? No one warned me about that!
Why didn't we warn them?! I have theories. I have advice, too. I'm playing hooky from yet another PTA coffee to finish the pieces up. This just reminded me to work faster. What the women of Gen X haven't told Millenials...this is inexcusable.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why are the Chick fil A protests so huge?

I've had a few requests to explain why the Chick fil A's are so full. Quick background for those outside of the US: the chairman of CfA is a Christian. During an interview he said that the company supported Christian values, including that marriage was the union between one man and one woman. When the interview became news, Boston, rather than letting residents choose to not eat there, banned the restaurant and the left called for Americans to boycott CfA. (More background here.) The restaurants have been full for weeks, but yesterday was a rally day, and they were packed.

Since most people think of gay marriage as a conservative right issue, and since most think the majority of Americans support gay marriage, many are baffled and/or dismayed that the restaurants were so full today. The short answer: the issue is more about freedom of speech than social values, and much of the left has socially conservative values. The CfA kerfuffle has effectively allied a huge portion of Americans.

How? Think of the political spectrum on two axis. The first is social values and the second government power. The left right divide in US politics does not fracture along those axis. Much of the Democratic collation has conservative social values along with leftist thoughts on government. Blacks and Hispanics are the most common of these socially conservative Democrats. The right has many combinations, big government social conservatives, limited government social conservatives, and limited government social liberals.

Since the CfA boycott call offends social conservatives and limited government adherents, the CfA restaurants today were full of all of the right and a large chunk of the left.

This alliance is a doomsday scenario for the Democrats. They only hold sway now because they have their social conservatives convinced that they can't succeed without the help of big government. This is why Democrats are afraid to push Second Amendment and gay marriage issues. They don't want their social conservatives to feel like their social values are more under attack than big government programs. (And Dems really don't want their social conservatives to realize that the Democrats want them dependent on government to keep them voting D.) If that ever happens, then those social conservatives won't vote Democratic, or just won't vote. It would not take a large defection to destroy Democrats' electoral chances. They have to walk a fine line to hold their coalition together. This is all the more difficult when you realize that many Democrats are not-so-big government social liberals. The Democratic powers that be, keep those people voting Democratic by scaring them that the right is full of horrible socially conservative boogie men, which both insults their social conservatives and advertises that they have common ground with some of the right.

By the way, Mr. "Not a gay in me" isn't walking that fine line.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who writes fanfic?

I’d bet most people would have agreed with either Ben Domenech’s comment in The Transom a few weeks ago that fan fiction smacked of “a middle aged guy playing clumsily with Ken and Barbie dolls (or Kirk/Spock),” or that it was something lonely teens pound out on their keyboards in the wee hours. I ignorantly assumed both of those things. A decades long devotee of various fandoms, I never read fan fiction until February when a pathetic reboot of a favorite cartoon sent me surfing for someone to blame. Instead, I found that my beloved characters had been written better by amateurs than pros. So I started reading.

Among many things I discovered about fan fiction was that it is written overwhelmingly by women. When Domenech made that comment in The Transom, I, and I gather a few others, set him straight. In a short discussion about how curious this was, he asked why I wasn't posting at Ricochet. I wasn't posting because I didn't realize that I could. So with a post idea and a venue, I fired off some questions to some fan fic authors. When the Lifestyle stuff came around, I thought to hold the fan fic post until Breaking Dawn came out at the end of the month when I could tie it in with the Twilight fanfic Fifty Shades of Grey. But I'd mixed up Breaking Dawn with Batman--a mistake which underscores the confusion the fractured concentration of motherhood can cause. No one should ever, ever, mix up Batman with Breaking Dawn.

Confusion aside, the answers trickled in. I was a initially surprised at what I found but now think it makes perfect sense. I published the post this morning. It seemed like good Saturday morning fare. Now, Yasha and I are off to collect Calvin from summer camp. I've missed my son.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Home to the Armadillos

I got an early morning email from my buddy Annie Oakley, "We are at the [Jerry Jeff Walker} concert. Miss ya. Come home with the Armadillos!!!"  It's a song, the London Homesick Blues.

I'm on my way.  This trip to London is finished.  As always, I am sad to leave friends.  Also, as always for these temporary trips, my liver needs to recover.  Yasha and I have indulged in food and drink more in the past 4 weeks than in the months since Christmas.

Speaking of vices, a comment on coffee.  Like friends, I miss good coffee when I am at home.  Some of my friends wonder what I am going on about because they think I make great coffee.  No lie, I have a small set of friends who, when they walk into my house, request that I make coffee because it's the best they've ever had.  I glow in the compliment, but it really just underscores how bad American coffee is.  No one here, especially my Italian babysitters, will drink my coffee.  They tease me about my coffee.  I've taken lessons this time.  So for my American friends who thought I made good coffee previously, now I can make some serious brew.  I'm not making any for the 4th, though. It'll be too dang hot.

I hopefully will have opportunity to write on the plane.  Don't laugh.  My kids are all over four now. I might be able to get out my laptop. It is a day flight, so it isn't like I'm going to sleep. TKT, I should have a 'what to do with kids in London' post up soon.  Other posts on education, healthcare, and trends in fan fiction--those require actual concentration and might take longer.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Paradoxically: Modesty is sexy.

Instapundit has "unexpectedly," about how reporters typically describe all bad economic news under Obama as unexpected or surprising.  Best of the Web highlights instances of the Butterfield Fallacy, when publications like the NYT note that crime declines despite increased incarceration rates.  I like 'paradoxically' stories.  My favorite is one from Time about how Stephanie Meyer's books are "paradoxically" sexy because they aren't explicit. "Meyer put sex back underground, transmuted it back into yearning, where it became, paradoxically, exponentially more powerful."  Bless him, and the countless others who think that the correlation between restraint and desire is a paradox. Here's another paradox about bathing suits.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Alas, My Liver is American.

This return to London, I seem to be having another bout of culture shock, more intense than the first.  I've been wondering if maybe an expat is always going to be in some state of culture shock.  Yasha suggested I call it perpetual culture shock.  But in the past few days, I think I've figured out why I'm having more intense culture shock now.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Expats: perpetual strangers in a strange land

With the frequent back and forth across The Pond, my instincts will forever be slightly off I fear. Only last month I noticed that I still don't reflexively introduce myself in conversations with new acquaintances. In Texas this is odd. Now back in London, I am irked by things which I once routinely dismissed.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Life, that thing that happens while you are making other plans.

Various, seemingly unrelated, thoughts have been percolating in my head lately. Just as I could put fingertips to keyboard, one of those big life traumas intervened. Nothing happened to Yasha, the kids, or myself. There are simply new duties and labors of love in my life now. We are coping, well I hope. We did have some warnings for this event and had made minimal preparations. I don't anticipate having to give up blogging, but if I happen to disappear for a few weeks, I wanted y'all to know it wasn't permanent.

A bit about that preparation, though. I could just have well made some rif on 'the best laid plans' in the post title. When I saw this event coming, I had cut my nanny hours to 3 days every two weeks. That worked fine, but I figured I would need some more flexibility in the near future, so I hired a new gal two afternoons a week. When I called to tell her the dreaded event had occurred, I found out that her grandmother passed. She left town for a week. Persephone and Doc Scissors jumped to help me. Still today I found myself at home with 5 children and a furniture delivery and on the phone with my family.

You might think, if you walked into my house at this moment, that chaos would greet you. It would, but subtly--an accomplishment for chaos. For dinner, we are having chicken pot pie, which I cooked from frozen, although the smell coming from the oven would not tell you that detail. The Things decided to decorate cookies while I was outside with Charlie Brown, my nephew, signing for the newly delivered patio furniture. The cookies are on display and give no hint to my freak out when I found the Things using food coloring on a table on one of our nicer Turkish rugs. While I scolded the girls and put away the food coloring and icing (the rug survived unblemished), Charlie Brown doused my kitchen floor with ground cloves and black peppercorns. He likes playing with my spice shelf.

So if you walked into my house at this moment, you would think that this sad momma spent the afternoon making a hearty chicken dish and spiced bread while allowing the children to practice their edible art skills, all of which we finally may nosh on al fresco. Persephone just gathered Charlie Brown. That's what she thought.

It is a housewife secret, or curse, that the five minute frenzies always seem to end right before people, usually husbands, arrive.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mordor's Department Store

For the past two years, the arrival of Restoration Hardware's, The Book, has occasioned small bouts of ridicule.  It stared when James Lileks and Ed Driscoll noted the bland, beige Depression chic of it all.  Sandbox, however, came up with my favorite description, "yuppified goth." A few months ago, RH opened a new mega store in Houston.  It keeps with the Depression/goth theme.  Yasha and I have debated whether it is Modor's department store or the Addam's Family Tuscan villa.

Behind the main store is RH's Baby and Child shop, which is certainly where Morticia would have bought Wednesday and Pugsley's nursery ensembles.  In a touch of delightful irony, next to the nursery shop is a trendy cupcake bakery, Sparkles, with its pink script neon sign.

The spring books arrived on Friday.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Han Shot First: An Open Letter to Screenwriters

The DVD of the Deathly Hallows, part 1, came out the other day. DVD releases mean deleted scenes. I checked out the deleted scenes over at YouTube. Why, may I ask were these scenes removed? They are fabulous, especially the goodbyes to the Dursleys.
I have often wondered what screenwriters could possibly be thinking when they make some of the edits they do. I accept that when turning books into movies, pleasant but tangential plot lines must fall away. I also except that movies need to devise other ways to express things often simply stated in the written work. I am also not one who wants to see a literal and direct translation from page to screen. But still, editing choices baffle me.
I offer a tip from a longtime geek: when we fans seem to want literal and detailed transcription to the screen, what we actually want is a product that is true to the nature of the book, the story, and the characters.  When we hate an adaption, it usually isn't because it wasn't a literal text translation but because it wasn't a true translation.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reverse Culture Shock: Not Good Eats

Food.  I will skip the well known differences between the US and UK on food.  It is true that portion sizes are much larger here, and there isn't much I've got to say about that. I've posted on flavor palates previously, noting that US flavors are more intense across the board, but given a choice, Brits default to sweet, Texans to spicy.  (I'll leave it to JJ to rant in the comments about the flavor palate in the rest of the country.) I've discussed coffee, chocolate, and dairy as well.

I think US fare is better than UK fare, but it wasn't always so.  In the past 30 years or so, from Julia Child onward, American food has moved beyond marshmallow fluff.  To see how far we've come, check out this hilarious commentary on some Weight Watchers recipes, circa 1975--three words: fluffy mackerel pudding.  If you like that, James Lileks has a coffee table book, The Gallery of Regrettable Food.

Last week I was reminded just how bad American food can be.

Friday, March 2, 2012

From days of long ago

My posting has been light lately.  Most of my regular readers are used to these stretches as part of a blog written by a housewife.  Not this time.  Yes, there has been plenty of life and family activity requiring my attention, but for the last week, no almost 2 weeks, I have fallen down a pop culture rabbit hole.  Actually, I've not so much fallen as dived, but I rather like the rabbit hole.  My wanderings in the burrow have become less frequent than in my teen years when I all but took up residence there, but still I sometimes wander.  With age, I now often ask myself, as I dive in head first, "What am I thinking?  I have better things to do than this, no?"

But a reason always reveals itself.

Not too long ago I wrote about why I like modern myths.  I focused upon modern myths' talent for restoring the awe of sacrifice or the inequity of some event or the silliness of some idea. (Heh. h/t Instapundit)  But  modern myth or pop songs or love letters or any number of artistic expression also say much about the writers and their fans.   Now, after reading a substantial volume of fan fiction, I cry over starved souls.  

Through the characters they create and champion, I can see that many are looking everywhere and anywhere for purpose.  Nietzsche pronounced God dead, and they believed him. 

The not-complete but relative lack of 'it is our choices that make us what we are' themes surprised me.  Characters were often cast at the mercy of fate or society or, as increasingly common within many attempts at modern myths, were looking for power somewhere outside of themselves.  As a Christian I find this last particularly painful since redemption can be gained merely by calling upon what is already in all of us.  I fear we Christians are failing them.  

The hunger for meaning was not confined to the big question of purpose.  My heart aches too for some of the understandings of friendship, love, passion, marriage, and loyalty, although I should not have been surprised to see the consistency.  The relationship between friends, parent and child, husband and wife, people and government, Church and the body of Christ, these are reflections of the relationship between God and Man.  If you get that one wrong, the others become difficult.  (True, getting any one of these relationships right can guide you in the others, but the God and Man route has the best track record.  But I digress, as usual.)   

Note, not all of the fan fiction was bad.  Hardly.  I liked a fair few. I could not have spent 10 days getting double vision from an iPad if otherwise.  But of late I've been thinking about archetypes and timeless tales.  Therefore, during this romp in the rabbit hole, I paid attention to the mechanics of the stories.  

Fanfiction.net is littered with promising nuggets that crack when the author tries to dictate the tale.  I would read with rapt attention, then in the passage of a paragraph, the story would fall because the author obviously intended to make a specific point, often by attempting relevance for a modern audience (a problem particularly acute in the Star Wars extended universe.)  For instance, instead of an epic tale of heroism and triumph in which Lotor rapes Allura (yes, I was reading Voltron fan fiction), the author wrote a story on how a modern woman copes with rape.  That's not nothing, but it is not epic.  And it wasn't consistent with the character, either.  The Princess Alluras and Princess Leias are not modern American women transplanted into other worlds from a long time ago.  But again, I digress.

Credit to the fan authors, however, who have done far more justice to the five lion Defender of the Universe than the current crap WEP actually paid for. (You need to be a Voltron fan to understand that link.) That's what sent me down the rabbit hole.  I came across the new Voltron cartoon.  In possession of a timeless tale of good vs. evil, loyalty, hardship, possession, and passion (yes, I'm talking about a cartoon), WEP serves up a music concert for the environment and peace.  This is the latest, and worst, attempt to tap into the original appeal of the cartoon.  They obviously have no clue about what made the original cartoon successful, much less why it still has fans 20 years later.

Fan fiction merely illustrates our overall problem: arrogant attempts at morality tales plague modern storytelling.  This is in part due to the nihilism of the modern age.  (Take it, Dr. Hibbs.) It is difficult to write what one does not understand, although God is a master at brilliant use of broken vessels. But that can only happen when the authors don't get clever and impose what they think they understand.  (Res Ispa Loquitor: George Lucas.)  

One final note, I'm adopted and always vaguely aware that I might have genetic siblings out in the world.   So for Dark Empyrean, who wrote an impressive Arusian cover of Arthurian legend while listening to Robert Earl Keene, e-mail me, please.  We might have been separated at birth.    

The Internal Mommy Wars

Originally posted in May 2010, when I still lived in London, I updated this post after I found the Momastery post on the internal Mommy Wars:

Since I have started this blog, more than a few friends have asked how I have the time to do this with 4 little ones underfoot.  I am usually very organized, which is important, but organization skills only get one so far.   I also have help in the form of 2 part-time nannies and a part-time housekeeper.  I know what follows (not from my friends but from the other readers I hope to have): accusations that I’m privileged, not a real mom and/or don’t know how hard stay at home moms have it.   I'll accept the privileged part.  I am in fact very fortunate that I can have help.  On the other points, I could defend myself outright, claiming no family around and a traveling husband, nannies and I work in tandem, etc.  But a direct defense glosses over a fundamental problem in understanding modern women's roles. 

There are only two women archetypes commonly accepted today: the career woman and the stay at home mother.  One looks to her own needs, the other to the needs of her children.  For the career woman, anything she does for others fraught with angst.  For the stay at home mother, anything she does for herself fraught with guilt.  The tension between these two types colors how most women judge themselves and intensifies the expectations of motherhood

There is, however, a third archetype, a forgotten one: the housewife.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Perpetuating Stereotypes

Texpats, in the other states or abroad, get a bit annoyed with the constant JR/backyard oil rig/cowboy/horses everywhere stereotype.  People really do think that we wear cowboy boots with everything and ride horses all over town.  This post won't help with that.  Today is Go Texan Day, or the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo start.  I have spent yesterday and today in boots at the Go Texan festivities at the children's schools.*  (I am quite cross that I had to get some boots at Cavender's as my custom Bush boots are still not ready, but I didn't want to make the same mistake twice).  The entire city is in boots and hats.  Yasha even wore his stetson to work.  More striking, however, the Rodeo starts with a trail ride into town.  So as I approached Memorial and 610, one of the biggest intersections in the city, this is what greeted me.

The Snow Patrol track isn't appropriate, but it is the current song I've got on repeat for lyric analysis.  I didn't think to switch to a county station until I passed the horses.  

*The crazy children nursery festivals continue.  The Rodeo one had a train and pony ride.  Next week we have the Leap Year Extravaganza which, according to the email, will have a petting zoo and snow day.  No, it is not going to snow in Texas in February. The school, I kid you not, is going to bring a giant snow cone machine to turn part of the parking lot into a winter wonderland.  Did I mention that this is for the nursery school?  That's right, the 2-4 year olds.  American moms might think me a killjoy.   Perhaps, Texan moms just don't typically know how quickly young children tire of the cold and wet, but I'm sure the British moms understand.  Why, exactly, are we doing this?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sen. Jim DeMint needs backup.

This morning, I went to a Ted Cruz event.  Cruz is the guy challenging Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for US Senate.  He's a classical conservative, who wrote his thesis on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.  (I've requested a copy of that.)  His stats look good.  Here is a link to fundraising info. (Check out that table about donor stats. Wow.)  Here is another link to recent poll data.  Having started with negligible name recognition compared to the sitting Lt. Gov., the trends look good, and he hasn't even started spending money yet.  His campaign so far is built mostly on speeches and word of mouth.  (Compared to the Perry campaign, Team Cruz knows how to work grassroots and social media. This unknown guy running for US Senate has a much better web operation than the sitting Governor of Texas did.)

Just like the analysis on the GOP from earlier today, Cruz believes that the problem for classical conservatives is one of leadership.  We are tired of talking about change.  We are ready to act but have precious few operatives in place.

The Rift on the Right

If I had posted my Why Newt? piece this morning as intended, I would have added a link to this precise analysis of what drives the current rift on the right:

Intervening in temper tantrums

Presented for discussion, this tale from the Daily Mail about a woman intervening against a mother during a temper tantrum.  A few years ago, I saw a similar event when a woman took a mother to task for yelling at her children, only the woman hadn't seen what had gotten the mother so worked up a block back--her 4-ish year old had bolted away from her onto the King's Road.  I tried to comfort the mother, but she was too stung to accept any help.

I started thinking that I've not seen this sort of thing in the US, but I have.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Clearly, I don't have enough bling.

In the past 6 weeks I have been to a few big fundraisers, two of which stand out in all their contrast.  Suzanne Powers took me to the Great Ormond Street Hospital fundraiser when I was in London.  My new friend, Annie Oakley, took me to a Rodeo fundraiser last weekend.  Both events had a live and silent auction and about the same number of attendees.  That is pretty much where the similarity ends.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life Interrupted

When we moved to London, I tried out modern decor.  Modern catalogues look so pretty, and since we rented furniture, I saw a chance for a cohesive look.  Within weeks, I hated it.  It was cold and sterile, hard to warm up.  It also wasn't comfortable.  And cheap modern falls apart shockingly quickly.  To do modern, you have to go for quality.  Quality modern is shockingly expensive.  Needless to say, I got over my modern bug.
Upon our return, I started looking at those glossy catalogues, from the infamous Restoration Hardware book to CB2, Crate and Barrel's ultra modern glossy.  It looks like expensive stuff for 20somethings' apartments.  It is stuff that they will have no use for when have kids. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sit Down, John!

So I am following up my tipping point post with a tale of discontentment.  I reek of it.

My diary is up to date.  The garage is organized.  The art is on the wall.  I've managed adult church and Bible study.  Things are looking up, but only on the little things.  I spent today hacking at dead branches that I've not been able to attend to since the summer's drought.  The hacking helped with the thinking.

Two things became apparent in the past few days.

The Tipping Point

To recap my angst from last fall, the hop back across the Pond did not go as smoothly as I expected.  It was, still is, hard.  When I posted the nervous breakdown post, a gaggle of girlfriends made contact to check on me.  Virginia called from New Jersey.  Apparently she had been waiting for my return so we could discuss the craziness of it all, which was mostly the motherhood issue. Virginia has been back in the States for 2 years.  If you do the math on all the pros and cons, then she says that life is easier here.  I'd bet that way, even before accounting for the opinion of a trusted friend.  It is just that the main con, motherhood, is the bulk of our lives.

What irked me about all the difficulties is how much easier it was than my early months in London.  I knew almost no one.  I was in the flat the vast majority of the time, save the school run.  The same went for Virginia.  Then we met and things started to get better.  It was our tipping point, she said.  I simply needed my new tipping point.

Looking back, I had it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Your focus determines your reality

In keeping with domestic reputation concerns from a few weeks ago, I recently had lunch with a friend.  She left work with her second child.  A few days prior to our lunch, she was with another, still working friend, who asked her 'what she did all day."  My friend was vexed at how often that question comes up as most working mothers have limited understanding of a housewife's day. I started laughing.  During some blog draft admin the previous evening, I'd run across an email I sent to her when, pregnant with her first child, she had expressed desire to stay home but worried that she would be bored.  At the time, this is what I told her:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Revisiting "Who Regrets Motherhood?"

As longtime readers might note, I've changed my blogrolls.  I've got one I'd like to highlight now, Momastery (see expat and parent blogroll on right).  Her blog exploded with a post called Don't Carpe Diem, about accepting that motherhood is hard and can't be enjoyed in every single second, but is inexplicably beautiful in fleeting moments and in completion.  

Her post reminded me to reply to comments on one of my posts, Who Regrets Motherhood.   I figured out what so upsets mothers about the Daily Mail article. Don't Carpe Diem says that the motherhood climb is long and hard but that there are moments of breathtaking beauty. Jill Scott, who regrets motherhood, refuses to see those moments. She despairs over her losses so much that at the top of motherhood Mt. Everest, she refuses to look out. She's looking at her calloused hands, contemplating her frozen toes and lamenting that she could have simply climbed any old hill. 

And I do mean to compare motherhood and other things to Mt. Everest and random hills. Much of the day in and day out of motherhood can be compared to other bits of life. The constant noise and interruption is like cubical culture in a busy office. The sleep debt might be similar to Paper Chase hours or a constant state of jet lag due to a consulting job. That is, all of the bad stuff I can explain to non-mothers in terms they can understand: assorted bad days plus actual feces. But the good moments, the view from Mt. Everest, I can't explain that. There are no words. There are no comparisons. When we moms talk about those moments, we don't have to explain; we just know. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Plastic Surgery

My friend Lara Lakin had an interesting post about paying physical appearance compliments to women.  Read the whole thing, but I responded:
I think your advice about delaying physical compliments until a bit later is spot on. In this day and age it is far too dangerous to lead with physical compliments to women. Another thought from an American, I've often found that British women are more reserved about their physical appearance, especially boobs. I find this fascinating when considered in conjunction with the American rep for prudishness. Last night, I was Twelfth Nighting with girlfriends and today I queried my aerobics class. I realize that 20 or so women is barely above anecdotal, but all of us would have taken the comment as a compliment. Furthermore, a few noted that American women tend to be curvier in general, while much of the European gene pool is ectomorph. They thought that the compliment would be more likely mistaken because hour glass figures tend to outlier status, so that y'all are more self conscious of curves. Thoughts?
As it happens, all of the women, all Americans by the way, that I questioned had considerable boobs, most of them natural.  Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to address: plastic surgery.

Houston is loaded with it.  But it is all very subtle.  In London, I think fewer women had any assortment of cosmetic procedures, but those that did had loads of it. Think Carla Bruni.  Houston women have fewer and more subtle procedures.  Did you know you could have a boob lift?  The surgeon pulls up the skin at the collar bone, merely lifting breasts.  Anyway, I've been surprised by the frequency of plastic surgery.  I stopped talking about it after the second foot-in-mouth incident when I mentioned my shock to a new friend only to have her say, "You know I've had [insert one procedure here].'

I have to say, the thought is tempting.  After the twins, no amount of Abs of Steel will give me abs of steel again.  But I am just not a plastic surgery gal, mainly because I would never subject myself to the risks of surgery for cosmetic reasons.  I did once think that if I was already in the OR, I wouldn't mind a tummy tuck. I told Yasha that if I am ever in surgery for some emergency reason, tell the docs I'd like a tummy tuck.  This was his reply, complete with his very powerful James Earl Jones, courtroom voice.  I remember it from memory:

"Let me get this straight: when the doc comes out to give me progress reports on your spleen removal after a car accident, you want me to tell him, "By the way, my wife wants a tummy tuck"? No. Unequivocally no. Not if I had a thrice witnessed notarized document and a video deposition. No."

Guess I didn't think that one through.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Traveling with children, a scale of age

I am done traveling transtlantically with children on a regular basis.  For 5 years we flew to Texas from London and back 2-3 times a year.  I have learned much about traveling with young children.

Whether taking a short trip to the country or boarding a transatlantic flight--or even a day trip to a museum--getting out with children sometimes is more trouble than it is worth.   Our last nursery Sports Day in London, I was kicking myself for even attempting to go.  I had to take the Things to the far side of Battersea Park for a sports day that had a few too many events for the younger children    One melted down during the event.  We couldn't get a cab.  We--my mom was with me thank goodness--ended up walking most of the way back, with screaming toddlers.  Fun.

My best advice, don't travel, or plan grand day adventures, with children under 5 unless you must.

But musts happen.   As Kacie, a newish mom, found out last summer, travel with young children can be done, it just isn't easy.  So for those not lucky enough to be able to stay put or leave children at home until your youngest reaches 5, I have a bit more detail to help you make travel plans.

0-6 months
Depending on the baby, this is easy.  I don't recommend it too much though due to contagious bugs and the need to set routines, but if you must, it is not that bad.  You have to take a few extra things along and, depending on the trip, need to give yourself more time to get there.  You also need to adjust your expectations of your visiting schedule.  But as far as traveling with a baby goes, this is the easiest time until they are 5.

6 months-walking
This stage gets more difficult for an assortment of reasons.   Nap and feeding schedules are/should be established and are, therefore, harder to work around.  The baby doesn't sleep as much.  The baby is louder.  The baby can be crankier.  If the baby is crawling or cruising around furniture, then you have to worry about babyproofing at your destination.  The baby is eating baby food, meaning you have to take along more than boobies or formula.  If you feed the baby what you eat, that extra is only a stick blender and pre prepped mush for the plane.  Yet, there are still delivery problems.  Spoon feeding is much messier than bottle feeding and is a real experience on a plane.  You need extra clothes for the baby and yourself.  This is also one of the few times I used bibs.  You need the heavy duty, long sleeved, big pocket ones to make any difference.  That is, no matter how the Three Martini Playdate lady might hope, a plane trip with this age babe might require a steamer trunk for a carry on.  (The rest of the time, she is spot on. Steamer trunk nappy bags are overkill.)

Walking-3 years old
This is the absolute hardest time to travel with a child.  Don't do it unless you absolutely must.  Security alone is a hurdle.  A stroller, which you must crash for the X-ray, or a loose 2 year old?  Easy shoes that the child won't remove on his own in other parts of the airport...you get the idea.   Temper-tantums are par for the course for this age and only increase as a child gets tired and off routine.  Jet lag will rock your world.  Screaming in the hotel room at 2 am will mortify you.  You must babyproof everywhere you go.  I could go on far too long with tales of travel fails for this age group.  Do not be lulled by the promise of a relaxing vacation destination.  Nothing about traveling with children this age is relaxing.  Nothing.  It can be done, but you will need a vacation when you get home.

3-5 year olds
Sometime around 3, you start on the downhill slope for travel difficulty.  Now, your child can be distracted on a plane.  My best advice is to limit TV time except when you are on a plane.  If you can spring for an iTouch or similar, do it, or add kids' games and shows to your iPhone.  Have a charger or extra battery pack.  Make airplane time unlimited fun.  No time limit iPod use.  Eat whatever you want. (Though you will want to push water a bit so they don't get dehydrated--wonder if I run afoul of EU regs for that?)  Just like the plane ride is an oasis from constant communication, make plane time a vacation from the rules for kids. The older they get, the better this works.
Jet lag, sleep problems get progressively easier too.  If nothing else, you can explain jet lag a bit, but mostly children start having more of an adult sleeping pattern and are easier to get back to sleep when they wake in the middle of the night.  Note well, I'm not claiming jet lag at this age is easy, but merely easier than for a 2.5 year old.

Then sometime around 5, it all gets easier.  I promise.

Monday, January 9, 2012

You have to force Americans to receive only as much government as they are willing to pay for

Best of the Web has an item on a recent David Brooks column. I second what Taranto writes, but want to highlight one bit from Brooks:[emphasis mine]
If you believe in personal responsibility, you have to force Americans to receive only as much government as they are willing to pay for. If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable.
No you don't have to do or have any of those things. On the contrary, if you believe in personal responsibility, it is most effective to leave people to their own devices. Natural rewards and consequences will do the heavy lifting. If you believe in the centrality of family, you need a government that doesn't take a wrecking ball to its foundations. That is, the decline of the family is, as Taranto notes in his post, in large part due to government action. The simple solution is to have government stop acting.


So a few weeks ago I tweeted Penelope Trunk's Blueprint for a Woman's Life.  In the discussion thread on FB I said of PT's take on life:
Practical rules unhinged from morality. A fave contention of mine is that moral rules aren't for the sake of rules. They are rules because they largely work to produce happy and prosperous people. She is all means/ends analysis. There is no sense or duty or right or wrong to temper her goal seeking, hence plastic surgery and loathsome maternity leave manipulation amongst sensible advice to have children a little earlier and focus on your marriage. She's all 'can this help me succeed as a woman' without any regard for whether the action is Right.
Now having read a subsequent post of hers on continuing domestic abuse, I feel for the poor woman who is obviously floating around without much but the practical to guide her.  Again she makes some good points, essentially that it can be practical both to stay in such a marriage to avoid complications and difficulties of divorce or to leave to protect your physical welfare.  The decision is in the weighing of the concerns.  What worries me for her is that she doesn't seem to have any internal guidance beyond the practical for the weighing.   Nor does she seem to have much check on her own actions.  This poor woman is lost and unmoored.  

I've added her to my blogroll because I think much of her writing can be informative, though not perhaps in the way she intends.  Be aware, however, her blog is not easy reading.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Failure of American Political Speech

H/T to @Lynneguist for this article about the failure of American Political speech.  While I agree with the overall premise, I have two comments.  After explaining how misuse of the term "socialist" really, really bugs the author, he states:
As our Book of isms says, socialism is:
A political and economic theory that holds that the means of production and distribution in an economy should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole or by a central government.   
Got that? The means of production. Owned by the government.  
As one comment notes: 

No, that's not what it said. "Owned *or regulated*". Got that?
So if the means of production and distribution are in private hands, but they have to abide by an overwhelming blizzard of regulations that nearly buries their ability to function the way a business in a free economy should function (namely, in response to the market), then by this definition it is completely fair to describe that situation as socialism. 
The author then continues and falls into the confusion about the term "liberal".  Noting that Burkean philosophy was called liberal at the time--and it was, "classical liberal" refers to Burke--the author makes the leap that conservatives are actually "liberal."  They are, but what most people never notice is that modern American liberals aren't liberal in the historical sense of the term.  They are progressives.  One of the great failures of American political speech is this rarely known switch to calling progressives liberals.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

If you must choose, choose wisely.

The choices left to conservatives after Iowa are starker than most realize.  In order to show how stark, I need to dissect the term conservative.  Due in part to the significant overlap of the types of conservatives and in part to the media’s successful efforts to make Christian moral values the dominate understanding of the term, “conservative” hides two subparts.   
Those two subparts are: theory of government and morality.  The conservative theory of government is the classical liberal, Burkean, limited government position.  I will call these "classical conservatives" because the traditional term "classical liberal" is confusing given that modern liberals are actually progressives and because I’ve read far too much Lauren Child and Dr. Seuss.  I have developed an alliteration addiction.   The conservative morality is basically Christian morality.  It is this type of conservative, the social conservative, that most people think of whey they hear the term "conservative."   
While the overlap among the types of conservatives is significant, it is not complete.  There are social conservatives who are happy to use government to achieve moral ends.  These are the “big government conservatives”.  On the other side, there are many classical conservatives who are socially liberal.  Given, however, that the mark of a classical conservative is belief in limited government, the moral beliefs of classical conservatives matter less because they are not likely to impose them through law.   In case you wondered, the Tea Party is predominately a classical conservative movement.  
The current set of GOP nominees pits the classical conservative against the big government conservative, with an outlier in Paul.
The big government conservatives are Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney.  They differ a bit on what they would like to achieve through big government.  Santorum focuses more on traditional social issues, which is why some commentators say he is the most conservative in the race, while Gingrich is a bit of a wild card.  Regardless, both are typically happy to use the current powers of the federal government to achieve their goals.  
Romney is also a big government guy though not as conservative.  He’d use the expansive power of the federal government to do conservative-ish/liberal-ish things.  This is why he is stuck at 25%.  He doesn’t inspire the big government conservatives because he isn’t conservative.  He repels the classical conservatives (and libertarians, but more on them in a moment) because he’s a big government guy.  And he doesn’t even capture many conservatives in the overlap because, if we have to submit to big government, then we might as well get conservative policy.  I’d guess that his 25% is mostly those who have bought into the risky conventional wisdom (more on that in a later post) that social conservatives can’t win and who think that he is at least a better manager than Obama.  In fact, outside of professional political commentary, I’ve heard no Romney supporter make any argument in his favor save these practical ones.  There is little sense that anyone knows or prefers any of his actual policies.  Frankly, that scares me more than anything else in this primary season.
The classical conservative is Perry.  He believes in limited government, specifically our federalist system, which pushes as much power as possible to state and local levels.  The general idea is that local government is more easily controlled and tailored to individual desires. When anyone says that Perry is only conservative in the race, they mean that he is the only classical conservative in the race.  He happens to be the common type of classical conservative, one who is also socially conservative.  This fact and his campaign’s panicked post debate gaffes retreat to secure the base--commonly though mistakenly* thought to be social conservatives--has camouflaged his limited government beliefs.  
It is only now, after Iowa, that classical conservatives have realized the opportunity we are about to lose.  Throughout the world, progressivism is failing.  This is an historic opportunity to restore limited government, not the time to compromise with a conservative take on big government.  This is why Perry is staying in, and why it might work, though I will admit it is a long shot at this point.  

As an outlier to the conservative battle stands Paul.  He is a limited government guy, but in the extreme.  A libertarian essentially holds that individual autonomy should trump in all but a precious few circumstances, like crimes.  Libertarians vary greatly in how much they think the government should do and, for various reasons I won’t go into here, Paul is an extreme libertarian, too extreme to achieve a broad following.  He will stay in a while longer.  He will win respectable percentages, especially if Perry exits leaving Paul as the only limited government candidate.  But if nothing else, his foreign policy positions will prevent him from gaining a large collation.   
Therefore, to my libertarian friends I ask, wouldn’t fighting for libertarian government on a state by state basis be preferable to any form of big federal government?  Sure, libertarians aren’t likely to take Massachusetts, but perhaps other states are possible, especially since the majority’s objection to libertarian foreign policy would not be in issue at the state level.  I know this is a very conservative position, but you have to fight the war you are in, not the war you want.  Libertarians can reform states, as long as a federalist restoration keeps the feds from interfering from the top.
For the rest of us GOP voters, we must choose between big government with a conservative bent or limited government in restoration.  True, each one is preferable to the present administration of big government of a socialist flavor.  Also true, successful societies require moral men. But moral men must be won by persuasion, and that is the job of culture, not law. Morality compelled by law is no morality at all.   

Most important, however, in the weighing of big-but-conservative government and limited government, remember this: laws can always bend the other way.   After decades of living under the liberal reign of New Deals and Great Societies, of our tax dollars funding entities we abhor, we should know this.   We should work to insure that it won’t happen again.  US Federalism provided structural resistance to big government, which is why it took until the 1940’s to achieve big government. We should seek to restore it.  

*The conventional wisdom holds that social conservatives are the go to base, but I think the CW is wrong.  Classical conservatives are the base.  The Reagan landslides were predicated on limited government.  Social conservatives might do better in elections than RINO’s, but classical conservatives can find common cause with the widest spectrum of Americans.