“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

Resuming Blogging; My Oldest's Journey Through School Begins

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It’s time to start writing and publishing here again. Straining to get a business off the ground while raising two young boys, it’s been hard to find the time, but there are challenges ahead that I’m going to need to work out how to deal with, and working through my thoughts in writing seems more likely than anything else to help. I also feel the need to do something useful to help turn this culture of ours around — or, if that isn’t possible, at least help others to navigate a way out — so it’s time to make time.

With my older son on the verge of turning five, kindergarten and all that follows it are suddenly looming near — a prospect that brings me no small amount of dread and apprehension.

In part, I’m concerned because of my own difficulties with public school education — difficulties that, in summary, cultivated in me such a strong dislike for formal education that I waited four years before going to college and repairing that relationship. (Thankfully, college is not high school by any stretch. Having found a passion for physics through self-motivated study on my own, I devoted my very best efforts, and graduated with high honors.)

It’s absolutely vital to me that I not allow my own children to needlessly suffer the same troubles. (Yes, some part of it was a character-building learning experience, but much of it was a completely unnecessary impediment to my progress.) Given that my oldest son has a highly curious, creative mind that asks and can understand the answers to advanced, insightful questions, I’m thinking similar personality + similar school system = similar result, and I dread the thought of that.

I’ve also become aware that schools, and in particular public schools, have not only limitations but complex agendas whose constituent parts can come into conflict with my child’s best interests. Some have social goals, to which they may at times subordinate their students’ individual interests and advancement. To have my child’s future or development sacrificed in this way is unacceptable to me, and it’s something I’m braced to be ready to fight tooth and nail against.

Indoctrination? I suppose I should be worried about that too, and I am, a little, but not so much in the near term. I made it though junior and senior high school without encountering anything overtly troubling (though I now realize I was offered only partial truth about some things). But I’m well aware that my experience may not have been the norm, and that things have also had ample time to “progress” in the past … *ahem* … few decades. (Following Glenn Reynolds’ “K-12 Implosion Update” series is certainly enough to make one worry about the state and sanity of present-day education.) I’m fine with my kids having honest exposure to a wide range of ideas and being free to choose for themselves what philosophies they adopt, so long as they acquire the skill of applying research, reason, and common sense to discern truth. I wouldn’t want it any other way. When things are slanted, however — whether by omission or otherwise — to comport with an ideological agenda that discards hard-won lessons about the meaning of liberty, the origins of tyranny, and all that we have to be genuinely grateful for … well, then we’ll have a problem.

Whatever the long-term problems might be, the immediate challenge is to figure out where the best (least bad?) schools for our sons are located, and move accordingly. Given that all the towns within a reasonable distance from my wife’s job (my work is portable, currently) exact a steep property tax to fund their public schools (with rates around 2% vs. California’s 1%, and house prices comparable to California’s, your annual property tax bill comes to around $12,000-16,000), we had better hope that the local public schools will be good enough for the time being. Else, we’re going to have to find a way to pull in enough additional income to pay private school tuition on top of the cost of the public schools we’ll be paying for but not using.

I imagine large numbers of parents fall into the strategy of relying on a public schools of necessity, while supplementing with outside programs to fill in the weak spots, and striving to cope on their own with the problems public schooling creates and undo any damage that gets done. I certainly don’t expect that I can leave my children’s education to any school system. — That seems like folly, no matter how good the schools. Rather, I expect to be deeply involved in my children’s learning, doing whatever it takes to make the time for it to be a priority. It’s a long road ahead, that I’m sure many of you reading this have probably traveled already. I welcome advice, and will be actively seeking out as much useful information as I can find in the months and years to come. I expect a long, hard climb, but nothing could be more worth the effort than helping my children find their bearings and get off to the best start possible to happy and fulfilling lives.

9/11, Twelve Years On

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It’s hard to know what to add this year. Nothing feels all that surprising anymore — and yet, this year, the insanity in need of remark seems to be layered on as thick as ever.

Twelve years after a band of homicidal Jihadi scumbags flew aircraft full of people into buildings full of people, we’re on the verge of supporting al-Qaeda-linked “rebels” in Syria. (Yes, they really are that bad. No, really. Seriously. I’m not kidding.) We still don’t have answers or accountability regarding four Americans who, after repeatedly pleading with the State Department for increased security in preceding months and having their requests denied, were left to die in Benghazi a year ago today, when special forces who could have reached them were ordered to “stand down”. We were told the Benghazi attacks were a spontaneous uprising triggered by a YouTube video critical of Islam, only to learn that the attackers were well armed and had clearly planned and coordinated the attack — a fact that was known at the time, but not disclosed. Meanwhile, a “Million Muslim March” — whose purpose presumably includes asking Americans to exercise ever-greater cultural sensitivity — has been scheduled on the most culturally insensitive date I can imagine. If there’s any hope in all that’s happening on this twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it’s in the “2 Million Bikers to D.C.” ride that’s also happening today, and the fact that its attendance appears to outnumber the former event by something in the neighborhood of 880,000 to 21. Gotta love these guys (and gals). Bless their rugged, patriotic hearts.

In the chronicles of local ineptitude: a 9/11 memorial ceremony at New Jersey’s “Empty Sky” memorial (which I posted pictures of last year) was unceremoniously cancelled without the families who were to attend being notified. *sigh*

That’s all I’ve got for this year, for now at least. I may add more later. Most of what matters to me, I’ve already written about in previous years:

My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts

2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On

2011: A Plea, Ten Years After: Please, Open Your Eyes ~ Ten Years Later: 9/11 Links

2010: 9/11: Two Songs

2009: Tomorrow is 9/11 ~ My Experience of September 11, 2001 ~ 9/11 Quotes

2008: 9/11, Seven Years On ~ 9/11, Seven Years On, Part 2 ~ 102 Minutes that Changed America

2007: 9/11, Six Years On

2006: Soon, Time Again to Reflect ~ 9/11 Observances ~ 9/11 Observances, Part 2

2005: I Remember

2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (went offline with the rest of mac.com; I may repost it someday)

The No Fear Pioneer, Episode 4: Independence Day

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day! Episode 4 of “The No Fear Pioneer” is up!

The No Fear Pioneer logo: a rocket ascending in the sky, with an Old West wagon train rolling along below