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Raising Boys Up

Some sensible words can be found today in the WSJ about how to raise (and think about that word, "raise") boys who read well and who are well read.  It seems the growing gap in literacy between boys and girls has educators and well meaning exploitative publishers rushing to lower themselves to the occasion.  Thomas Spence suggests a different approach. 
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Discussions - 39 Comments

Boy, do I agree. May I also suggest that boys, children, will not read if their fathers do not read and are not seen to be reading. Fathers reading to their children before they can read to themselves (and after) makes reading an evidently manly activity. Motherly reading aloud is also good, but I'll bet fatherly reading is more instructive for boys.

Of course, I do not mean reading the type of books Spence describes in that article as currently popular. Ten years ago I was hearing about letting children read what they liked and not worrying about the quality, but the "what they liked" that was being promoted to me were J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. What a gross devolution the children's book publishing world has experienced since then.

Without a doubt, it's the video games that are creating/widening this gap. Boys have always been more susceptible to distraction -- the current era seems designed to make blithering idiots of our young men.

Admittedly, however, video games are fun. I see no solution for this other than family discipline.

Given the rise of the "Twilight" phenomenon, I am not at all sure that the lowering of publishing standards is limited to books aimed at boys. Nor am I certain that stories about "butts" are as alarming as the stuff aimed at girls.

But another thing I remain uncertain about is the whether the new saw that "the most important thing is to get them to read 'anything'" is as ridiculous as Spence and the old time wisdom make it out to be upon first blush. I certainly agree that there is a great deal of sense in what Spence, Kate, and Redwald say. On the other hand, I also understand that we live in a fallen world and, moreover, it's been fallen for a really long time. Judgment generally works better when navigating such waters than any "old saw" or, even, a "new saw" will.

When I look back to my youth I recall that I read a great deal. But, having no real guide to my reading enjoyment, I read whatever I wanted and what I wanted was generally what was popular for girls of my age at the time. In those days, that meant a heavy diet of Judy Blume . . . and her work was probably the best of what I (voluntarily) encountered as a young girl. Of course, I had exposure to some better things (Tom Sawyer, some Shakespeare and a sparse assortment of other minor classics--usually in excerpts or short story form--but almost always presented in the classroom). Much as I liked and enjoyed these offerings--there was something about the presentation in that sterile setting that made me always feel that they were beyond my poor powers. Or, perhaps, it was something about the presentation itself (for later on there were other, and better presentations that came to me more as invitations than museum exhibitions). The books themselves beckoned, but my world and my docents cautioned me to keep my distance without assistance . . . I was always told how difficult it was for young people to grasp these things . . . and, of course, many of my peers were happy to scorn serious attempts to understand the work. They were set up as the "broccoli" of my reading diet . . . and I was convinced that I was unable to chew on it with my own teeth and in the privacy of my own home. It needed to be pureed, or cooked down, or something. I had no idea that I could eat it raw and remained skeptical until college.

It really wasn't until I entered college that I began to get past my timidity in the face of all this bounty. I think that's probably the case with today's kids (and their parents) too. Fortunately, I don't think that it is an insurmountable obstacle to education. But those who dabble early are--there is no question--generally, more fortunate. I envy them and count the missed reading opportunities of my youth as among the highest (if not the only) regrets of my life. Would that I could have that time over again . . . yes. I would take it.

Still, I recall Churchill's admonition that it can be a dangerous thing to give a great book to a young man at a time that is too early for him. Sometimes these young men who are very well read puff up too much and become jaded--and then . . . THEY become the docents. They lose their capacity to wonder in the face of something striking and awe-inspiring and look down upon it through a microscope to show their own powers of observation are superior to those of the great author they're reading. There's something to be said for whetting the appetite of the young but still keeping them hungry (and in their place). At least I think so.

I just heard the commencement scene in Tom Sawyer. The problem of educating men existed back then--but Tom Sawyer clearly got his love of romance (pirates, chivalry, etc.) from books--not from role models or peers. Or could there have been another source? Does this help us out here?

I read everything, good, bad and indifferent. The family knew I was a non-discriminatory reader when I read the whole sixth grade history textbook in the week after school started. I just liked it. There many books of literature -- the traditional good stuff -- that I read when young: my dad had them on the household bookshelves because they had been the books of his childhood. I reread them in my teens and later to my own children, which meant several times given the number of children. Even Milne and stories for the very young, but even more so Kipling, Twain, Verne, Alcott, that kind of writer: they read differently at our different ages and are worth reading repeatedly and with our differing understandings.

Once I took a course on prints at the Met. in NYC. One of the interesting aspects of it was seeing prints, Rembrandt's, for example, in different states of the plate. The artists adds things, details, or changes parts, throwing unwanted bits in dark shadow, for example. The print is the same basic composition, but different in each state. With literature, the work remains the same, but the reader apprehends it in different states of being. This makes the work different over time, because we are different over time.

Anyway, reading aloud to your children means you cook down, puree, simplify, by explaining the good stuff. You do the hard work of translation -- broccoli, maybe, but so lightly cooked or cooked to their taste, as you understand know it, and with the Hollandaise sauce of your presence.

What I cannot stand or girls are the modern "princess" stories of the Disney/Barbie mold. I won't read them to my granddaughters. I did once and spent the whole time spitting the story out with comments, as in, "That's ludicrous!" or, "Oh, don't you just want to smack her?" or "No father could be that stupid. Please!". I suppose it was still instructional, but certainly not entertaining to the child. She said, "Nona, it's just a story and not supposed to be real." There are stories that allow a suspension of belief and create a useful new reality and there are those with nothing real in them.

Ken, it depends on whether or not you wish to raise a Tom Sawyer.

On the other hand, Ken, Tom did not spend much time reading that one Book he was required to read . . . it was easier (and more immediately rewarding) not to do it and say he did. Maybe when it came to reading that Book, he had a docent too? My impression was that he did and, anyway, one cannot like the boy who did read that Book with the requisite fervor . . .

Yet Tom did not have video games or TV to fuel his imagination and fueling the imaginations of his duller peers was necessary if he was to have any fun at all . . . that required reading--though it WAS reading of his own choosing.

I guess what sort of bothers me about the Spence piece--though I generally agree with him--is that there does not seem to be that sense of freedom attached to the reading that I think is a necessary component to true education. You can't beat wisdom into people. They do have want to look for it on their own.

And Kate . . . I was thinking again today about why it was that I was so drawn to reading as a child. I think it was partly because my mother read a lot and she often, also, read to me. But since my father was not/is not much of a reader (but is a great doer), he always tended to view the activity as--if not exactly lazy--then perhaps as something only one step shy of it. And, of course, he's not exactly wrong. Reading is leisure and it is a pleasure--even if in a higher sense than ordinarily understood. For a hard working man, observing a child at leisure can be a difficult thing to countenance. So for me, reading was--maybe, just a bit, of rebellion (not to mention an excellent way to get out of unpleasant chores . . .)

And I've got at least one good example of a reading man who did not have a reading father: Lincoln. I think he had a similar (though much more harsh) inspiration for his love of reading.

Lincoln did not want to grow up to be like his father, did he?
Yes, mothers who read are an inspiration, or at least a pattern, for their children. Yet all of my six children saw and heard me read, perhaps daily. My husband also read to all of our children, when he found he had time. What they remember best was his reading to them: it was more important. Reading, one way or another, was just what I did, what mother was. Only three of my six are internally impelled to read as I was, not just for pleasure, but in the need to know everything. However, all of them value books, own them, buy them, read them. One of them with children reads to his children, but out of a sense of duty. That's not so bad, yet, (and I grieve about it) he would rather play video games.

About leisure in regard to reading; of course it is leisure, even when you are reading to increase knowledge -- that is scholarship, which I have heard someone repeatedly say is leisure. Americans even think they have a right to leisure. Maybe that is tied to a misunderstanding of the pursuit of happiness part of our national creed.

The question of reading or doing something else is tied to what you do with your leisure. Yes, perhaps for some of us when we were children, reading for pleasure was a kind of escape. I don't recall it as a rebellious excuse to escape tiresome chores, except maybe homework. Family life was ... messy and reading was a much-needed escape into other worlds. When I read about children and adults spending hours of their days in video games, I wonder if that isn't a result of "messy" modern family life.

This is a quiet day, without many demands and, oddly, I feel like I am wasting it by not reading the book I am almost done with, though it is only the latest by Furst and a charming waste of my valuable leisure time.

If Lincoln did not want to be like his father in every way, he could not escape being like him in some ways. And that's lucky for us. Lincoln's dad was a great teacher in a couple of ways. He told stories, if he did not read them. Lincoln learned the power of narrative from his father. Moreover, it may be just as important to learn what kind of man we do NOT want to be as it is to learn what kind of man we OUGHT to want to be. I think Lincoln's relationship with his father was more complicated than many tellers would have us believe. On the whole, he was not a fan . . . but I think Lincoln was the sort who could see what was good in his father (and, indeed, all men) and copy it while leaving aside that which was bad. (And I think, too, he had a certain sympathy for his father which--while not exactly "love"--was at least something akin to understanding and also keen and painful self-awareness of exactly why he could not love that man. )

In a sense, we all have to do that with our parents--pick what to leave behind and choose what to carry forward. It's just that in Lincoln's case there was more to leave behind than there was to pass forward.

My only real point in bringing him up was to conjure up the image of the boy Lincoln going off to plow with a book in hand . . . sneaking off to bed with a borrowed copy of Parson Weems and getting it wet because of a leak in the ceiling . . . having to work like a dog to pay for the damage. I don't know that I would have been a great fan of Lincoln's father, either, but I think there was something about him that helped to shape both Lincoln's character and his love for reading.

For the record: sometimes I pretend to be angry at my children when they leave their lights on late at night so as to finish that one last chapter. But, in truth, it is one of my greatest joys. Yet I know that if they knew how much joy it brings me, it would not be half as much fun to do it. They think they are getting the best of me, so I play along and, instead, try to get the best of them. Perhaps, in this way, we're all (quite literally) getting the best of each other?

I threw my son's Playstation 3, PSP and all related games/videos into the canal next to our house when he was going into sixth grade, never to allow them back into my house again. We pulled him out of private school and starting homeschooling. His homeschooling curriculum that we choose for him required a lot of reading and a lot of book reports. Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings Series, books on Washington, The Civil War, Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson, Reagan, Robert E Lee, Theodore Rooselvet, Patrick Henry, Lincoln, American History, Military History and classics from Jack London, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway political books the Bible and Biblical History. He also read books for pleasure including a lot of sports biographies, his favorite being The Call Me The Snake - Ken Stabler. We have lively political and history discussions nightly and while driving from rodeo to rodeo on weekends. He is now sixteen and has a wealth of information. He can discuss the Constitution, American History, World History, Scripture, Biblical History -including the history of the mess in the middle east with just about anyone. My prayers were answered. He is unlike the average teenage boy today.
Thank God.

Interesting thread.

It strikes me that perhaps it is better to read garbage since the defects are less persuasive and easier to object to.

I would point to the derivative/parody/mashups that are created to lambast Disney/barbie/princess stories. Several Youtube feminists are quite entertaining in this regard, and Shrek is good entertainment. Shrek of course is not reading. Of course if you happen to know that Disney also owns ESPN, a plausible yet assumption is that the mind of man is poisoned/redirected by sports and sportscenter. We aren't reading because we are following football, our fantasy drafts, the heisman race, alabama, boise state et al. You can talk about Video Games broadly, but of course you can also zero in on titles. The NCAA and Madden Franchises of EA sports are quite popular, but also educational in certain aspects. For example they give you some idea of the publishers well educated guess as to the relative strengh of TCU's secondary in 2010.

I would point out that many a book has launched a derivative video game, to include the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings series, the civil war/robert E. Lee or Grant, and of course the Harry Potter series, but the quality of such derivatives varies markedly.

I tend to think there is a fundamental right to leisure, and that it isn't borne of any misunderstanding. In so far as understanding can be decoupled from misunderstanding or particular understanding. If in fact it was a misunderstanding, the unraveling of such a misunderstanding would itself be an act of leisure. To consider what is and is not a right, what is or should be protected under copyright, what is a derivative product, or what the derivative product of your free time should be, all of this involves thinking and reflection.

Leisure is the penumbra, and the right to leisure is the right to make fair use of copyrighted works(fixed original expressions), see section 107 of the copyright act.

Reading is better than playing a video game, or watching a movie or tv show because it is more open ended and provides greater latitude for the immagination or the personalization of the content. When you read a book your immagination creates a derivative product of that book, an interpretation.

"She said, "Nona, it's just a story and not supposed to be real."
(use some leisure to think about this)

Aren't your objections violating the fair use she could "derive" from the material?

Julie is absolutely right here: "there does not seem to be that sense of freedom attached to the reading that I think is a necessary component to true education. You can't beat wisdom into people. They do have want to look for it on their own."

That radical freedom, that penumbra, that in some sense makes for bad judicial decisions and rules if it cannot be written out of the law...it is neverthless present in deriving an interpretation.

The choice and freedom to engage and equally important the ability to sometimes dis-engage the thinker.

In terms of religion vs. atheism, perhaps the commandment that might run afoul the Lemon test, to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy is nothing more than a grant of leisure as a fundamental right. To set aside a time for reflection, and the creation of derivative works as applied to your life direction. To not simply read the bible, but to discover a means of applying it. From a religious perspective: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against God."

What Disney has done for women with princess stories, it has also done to men with ESPN and its copyrighted broadcasts of the NFL, that is it has captured our meditations by fixing an unscripted/fair contest.

Atheism is simply a meditation, penumbra or derivative product of religion or philosophy, in many ways more religious than ESPN.

The fundamental right to leisure doesn't need to derive from the ten commandments, but it could be so derived. It is a penumbra of the first amendment and copyright law, but these shouldn't be considered exclusive sources.

There will be no established religion, that is Congress will not support a religion to the exclusion of all others, spelling out strict dogma, and thus entangling itself in the derivative use that a man may make of the Bible or the Koran either as wisdom, toilet paper or kindling in a survival situation thereby prohibiting the free excercise thereof, nor beyond certain copyright protections will it restrain speech, or the freedom of the press.

The fundamental right to leisure is thus fair use+time for meditation/invention or the right to make a derivative product from material in the public domain. In terms of religion: To be baptist, quaker or lutheran, which is to accentuate or diminish a point of emphasis with the bible as a starting point. To be atheist, which is the right to selection of a starting point. In terms of freedom of speech the right to marshall facts and arrange them so as to express an opinion verbally, and freedom of the press the right to draw upon facts in support of a proposition and fix this in a writting. The right to spend leisure to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The fundamental right to leisure comes from a realization that you can't really decouple freedom of thought from time spent thinking. The right to an education which in Ohio is a protected property interest, subject to a certain minimally adequate level is the threshold for the right to leisure. Cardozo says it is the matrix and indispensable condition for nearly every other freedom, I think he is right.

Supposing for a second that we grant that the first ammendment allows you to be christian. Does it not also allow you to read the bible? Does it not also allow you to go to church? The gov. can't establish religion, but "free excercise" means that the gov. has to provide chaplains to the military. In Sherbert v. Verner the court said that you couldn't discriminate in unemployment benefits for someone who refused to work on saturday, because this was the sabbath(seventh day adventists). That is you have a fundamental right to leisure, or minimally adequate time for the reflection and thinking required to take advantage of your first ammendment rights.

A failing school is one which violates its students "free excercise" rights to an education. Which is a funny way of putting it since free excercise is narrow to religion, which is why I think of leisure as broader. The fundamental right to leisure is free excercise for the entire first ammendment.

If there is no fundamental right to leisure, then I think you have to disagree with Julie and the WSJ about the importance of raising boys to read and be well read. In fact the focus on boys might stem from sex being a protected class, it is really a sort of quasi-equal protection article alledging a violation of the right to leisure.

In any case if you toss out the "right to leisure" there is no ground for concern over an equal protection violation. That is if being able to read, write or reflect isn't necessary for adequate enjoyment of constitutional rights then the inequality really doesn't matter since a parent would be free to "raise" his boy or girl without teaching them to read, write or reflect. Also potentially the parent could decide to give each a radically different type of education. Perhaps his daughter wants to teach english and his boy wants to design and test video games. The educational bias of the legal system which in some way recognizes a fundamental right to leisure for civic purposes measures the growing gap in literacy but is not bothered that Madden champions are mostly boys.(indeed careers in the NFL are even more skewed.)

That is outside the view that there is such a thing as fitness for a general purpose, or basic levels of education necessary for enjoyment of constitutional rights, or a fundamental right to leisure...outside this view you only have fitness for a particular purpose, in which case there is nothing alarming apriori about different skill sets.

"I threw my son's Playstation 3, PSP and all related games/videos into the canal next to our house when he was going into sixth grade, never to allow them back into my house again. We pulled him out of private school and starting homeschooling."

Nothing better for improving water quality than a nice big chunk of plastic and its various electrical components! Thanks for doing that.

"His homeschooling curriculum that we choose for him required a lot of reading and a lot of book reports. Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings Series, books on Washington, The Civil War, Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson, Reagan, Robert E Lee, Theodore Rooselvet"

...any reviews of spelling or grammar?

I see you also listed Jack London. Pretty surprising. My guess is that The Iron Heel was strictly verboten from any reading lists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Iron_Heel

It may not improved water quality, but it improved the quality of my son's eduction and that is more important than global warming. But being a liberal/leftist/progessive that concept is far over your head.

I am not in a contest here for spelling or grammar and obviously in your anger against homeschooling, and of course my referrence to Bible and Scriptures, all you can do is pick on my spelling. Big deal.

Jack London is a classic. Why would I not let him read it? He is reading Catcher in the Rye now. The difference is is that I will answer his questions about the book instead of some red-diaper-doper baby professor.

I note that the things Mr. Scanlon chose to comment upon in this thread appear to reveal far more about Mr. Scanlon and his capacities for discernment (to say nothing of ordinary grace and gentlemanliness) than they do about any serious opinion on the subject of reading or education. If cowgirl is left wondering what it is that she said to provoke such a rude and unseemly attack, she is not alone.

I don't consider the question of reading and education to be particularly partisan--at least not among people who are serious about education--so I am puzzled by the animosity he displays. Indeed, with my best liberal friends, the question of loving and enjoying the wonder of education and great literature tends to be one of the only points upon which we meet on thoroughly common ground. Indeed, I can often enjoy the company of people who approach learning in this way (but disagree with me on virtually everything else) much better than I can enjoy the company of political allies who do not have that sense of wonder. But to some people, I suppose the idea that anything can inspire wonder, love, imagination or grace is completely lost on them. Too bad. I guess Scanlon had more docents than teachers as a young man. I am sorry for him.

I believe that boys/men (manliness) are voluntarily withdrawing themselves from society just as the great capitalists did in "Atlas Shrugged" - although not self-consciously, it's for the same reasons. I'm not a huge fan of Rand, but that's the best way I've found to describe what's going on.

I think the root of the problem lies within the New Left. While the Old Guard Liberals were in charge, with their notions of right and wrong and a universality to their ideology akin to something like the Medieval Church (with politicians, professors, and workers instead of nobles, priests, and peasants), manliness had a small but honorable niche in the Left. With the convulsive blossoming of the New Left in the 1960s, Nietzsche's thought bore fruit, and there is no longer a place for something so problematic as manliness (which seeks to identify what belongs to it, acquire more, then defend those things). Why not retreat into a delightful world of video games (which revel in the artificial celebration of martial prowess) when that at which you excel is undesireable?

There is no mystery to Scanlon. It is called liberalism\leftism\progressivism. I saw it in massive doses in my son's public school.

To what extent were the New Left influenced by Nietzsche? In some ways, Nietzsche seems preferable.

Yes, yes, Julie, my merely pointing out the fanatical overreaction of "cowgirl" was rude, unseemly and lacked gentlemanliness and grace. Potentially contaminating one's own family's and their neighbor's water supply (depending on the purpose of said "canal") in an unrestrained rage of righteousness, on the other hand, is not to be questioned, as long as it comes from the heart, and the spirit of love, to steer one's children away from the demonic threat of liberalism and the non-Biblical propagandizing about "global warming" - which Jesus never uttered a word about!

"I don't consider the question of reading and education to be particularly partisan--at least not among people who are serious about education--so I am puzzled by the animosity he displays."

Please, Julie, that is beyond disingenuous. One needn't look far within NLT's archives to find examples in which you find plenty of aspects about reading and education to be rather contentious. Also, your benchmark for what counts as "animosity" from me is laughably sensitive.

"I guess Scanlon had more docents than teachers as a young man. I am sorry for him."

Really? That would include my university education, as well, I presume? Be careful - you never know who you might be unwittingly describing as a "docent"!

I suppose I should have restrained myself from pointing out the grammar and spelling issues from cowgirl (which nevertheless continue) - it wasn't very kind - but I'm always amazed by those who can rag on endlessly about the deficiencies of public school education and our lack of standards in society overall, how everything has lost its rigor and seriousness, etc., etc., etc. - and still can't spell and construct sentences. Let's hope that certain homeschooling tasks are being outsourced!

The only thing Mr. Scanlon needs is a snarkectomy. Snarkitis is a common disease on the Left (the cause is generally moral certitude without any foundation in fact or experience). Many on the Left eventually grow out of snarkitis (i.e., they finally grow up), but alas, some do not.

My son passed the California High School exit exam in 8th grade. He is a 4.5 honors student. He is also a conservative. You need not worry about his homeschooling, but thanks so much for caring. I am sure that your objective with homeschooling is to see it fail miserably so that we all have to put our children in dumbed-down, liberal public schools. That way we have thousands of Scanlons running around shouting the sky is falling or in your case the planet is getting too hot.

As far as the canal, you need not worry your little head about it. The illegals and drunks that cruise our country roads at high speeds have crashed enough cars into the canal, along with brake fluid, oil and gasoline, to override any contamination that the PSP or Playstation 3 may have caused.

Do you ever thunk that I maght misspell words and type grammatikally inkorrect sentinces in order to get your goad? I mean it works every time along with the mental illness thing. Talk about overreacting.

That's kind of my pet project now, OOM, and I don't have specific thinkers, texts that bridge the gap which you're after. At some point the Left went from Wilson (one-time president of Princeton college) and his progressives to FDR to JFK to . . . Noam Chomsky and a bunch of spoiled college student invading classrooms and rooting for the NVA. What brought forth the transformation?

Yes, cowgirl, I'm sure that you make all of those errors just to "get [my] goad." A strange goal to have, but if you find it somehow edifying, so be it.

Here's hoping that your brilliant, independent-thinker of a conservative son becomes so successful that he's someday able to help you relocate from your current home, which sounds somewhat hellish by your own description. Or maybe you really take the "love it or leave it" saying to heart ?

It is not a strange goal given your fanatical reactions. It is easier to respond to spelling and grammatical issues than it is to real issues. For example, global warming is not an inconvenient truth, but a religion of crazy ideology. A religion that you cling to with all your idealogical might. If I attempt to question your delusions, which is easy in the case of global warming religion, you attack, attack, attack - my spelling and grammer of course.

You hope my son can relocate me to somewhere better for me to live? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I never complained about where I live. I just told you that if you are worried about contaminating the canal that it has already been done. Where in the H E double toothpicks are you coming from?

I choose (like abortion I guess) to live where I live. Let me explain something to you that liberals/leftists/progressives like yourself don't grasp. Life is not easy. There is no perfect place to live. Since I choose (like abortion) to live where I live, I take the good and the bad. One of the good things about where I live is that it is pretty devoid of people who think like you. The people around me are hard workers - farming the land, raising dairy and beef cattle. They don't complain and work long hours with little time for a pity party. The people who live around me who think like you complain about dust, cattle making noise at night, tractors and heavy farm equipment at certain hours of the night, milk trucks, peacocks screaming, dogs barking, crop dusters and just about everything else that goes along with living in the country. They won't move because they think everyone should be and think like them. I don't move because I like where I live. The good outweighs the bad.

Let's get one more thing straight - I, unlike you and most liberals/leftists/progressives, DO NOT expect my son to save me from anything or move me anywhere. That is my problem not his. It is called Personal Responsibility. Look that one up the the dictionary pumpkin.

Classic post, cowgirl, truly classic!!

Let's review...

When I pointed out that you were fouling your own (and your neighbors') nest(s) by dumping the video game systems into the canal, and wondered if you allowed your boys to read London's "The Iron Heel" - that was a "fanatical reaction"?

You like to live in a place where "The illegals and drunks [...] cruise [the] country roads at high speeds" and you have a nearby canal where said drunks and 'illegals' have crashed their cars into it and polluted it with brake fluid, oil and gasoline"?? Well, okay then. No offense - maybe you painted a very incomplete picture of the place (does it have any trees at all? do men stone their cheating wives in the town square? do hungry coyotes snatch babies from porches? haha), but it sounds a tad dystopic.

(BTW, I have actually lived in a rural place - for years! - where we tolerated dust, bad smells, and animal sounds - that was usually no big deal, although I dare you to take a kid with asthma and live next to an industrial hog farm and then just tell him/her to buck up and take it. You could soon have a dead kid. I think your tough-guy-hard-working-conservatives vs. over-sensitive liberals schtick really grinds to a halt when it comes to night noises though. It all has to do with sleep tolerance, not politics. Some people can sleep through anything, others can't, and I've found that there's no real correlation between that ability (or lack thereof) and political persusasion. Dogs and peacocks can be loud and very grating on ones' nerves. I've long included the standard of "effectively controlling one's pets so as not to disturb hard-working neighbors who need their sleep" on my list of Truly Manly Behaviors. Those who are solipsistic to not notice or care about such things are not only unmanly, but...yeah...a-holes.)

Do you think it's a bit contradictory to say these things in the same paragraph:

"One of the good things about where I live is that it is pretty devoid of people who think like you." (and then, oddly, you proceed to describe your neighbors that you imagine to be like me)

and

"(the liberal neighbors) won't move because they think everyone should be and think like them."

??

So.... operating under the standard concept for the word "should" (as in, "this is what a good/preferable situation looks like"), it sounds as though there's little to distinguish your attitude towards neighbors from... that of your intolerant liberal neighbors! They think everyone should be and think like them, and you think that one of the benefits of living where you do is that it's devoid of people who are liberal (i.e., people who don't think and act like you).

Seriously, do you even think about what you write or is that, too, just too much to expect from people commenting on a blog?

"I, unlike you and most liberals/leftists/progressives, DO NOT expect my son to save me from anything or move me anywhere. That is my problem not his. It is called Personal Responsibility."

But, don't conservatives also prize family and family relations, and looking out for each other within the family? You know the deal, parents have and raise and protect their kids, and their kids eventually go off on their own, but they don't forget their parents, and if/when necessary will do what it takes to help and care for them as they age - right?? Possibly including moving them to a better living situation? (Not only would I expect conservatives to claim that sort of "family values" mentality, I would expect them to claim to have a monopoly on it!)

Fun stuff, though - thanks, cowgirl!

"When I pointed out that you were fouling your own (and your neighbors') nest(s) by dumping the video game systems into the canal, and wondered if you allowed your boys to read London's "The Iron Heel" - that was a "fanatical reaction"?"

Yes it was a typical liberal/leftists/progressive fanatical reaction. Environmentalists have destroyed this country. Remember I live in California - the most war torn state from the religion of global warming. People are starving in the south central part of the state thanks to the fanatical reactionary environmentalists in San Francisco. I don't have boys, I have a boy. Comprehension I guess is an overblown attribute.

Let's approach the comprehension theme again. You flipped out because I "polluted" the canal with electronic material. I told you it did not matter because it has already been polluted by the illegals and drunks that speed on the country roads and drive their cars into the canals. Then you flip out again because I refer to illegals and drunks which as a liberal/leftists/progressive you see a victims of the big bad conservatives. Which then makes you flip out about where I live. Which has nothing to do with polluting the canal. Now you are talking about men stoning women and hungry coyotes eating babies. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Where in the H E double toothpicks are you coming from pumpkin?

And now you are telling me that you have lived in rural areas before for a really long time. Are you sure it wasn't a house near a park? Furthermore you are proving my point as you complain about the smells, sleeping, dogs barking, peacocks screaming and kids with asthma. You are just like my intolerant liberal neighbors pumpkin - you are complaining and whining. Pity Party. If your kid has asthma, then don't move to the country. If you don't like bad smells, dogs barking, etc, etc, then don't move to the country. And if you are stupid enough to move to the country, then learn to deal with it. As your man in the White House says 'Buck up". My intolerant liberal neighbors are the only people in the area that keep their dogs locked in a 12 x 12 pen (they live on 2 acres of land) for hours and hours and wonder why the dogs are out of control, chase livestock and bark continously. And they complain about too much dust in their house. They are just like you. I am like the hard working farmers, ranchers and dairymen. Life is hard. Learn to deal with it. What is that bumper sticker:

"Annoy a Liberal". Work Hard. Make Money. Be Successful.

"Seriously, do you even think about what you write or is that, too, just too much to expect from people commenting on a blog?"

I must write serious stuff on this blog - you respond to it all the time - right pumpkin?

"I, unlike you and most liberals/leftists/progressives, DO NOT expect my son to save me from anything or move me anywhere. That is my problem not his. It is called Personal Responsibility."

You left out the pumpkin. If we are going to play the spelling and grammer game, then let's do it right. If you are going to quote me, then include the whole quote.

Of couse I believe in family values, but yours and mine are completely different. I would never saddle my son with expectations to go out and make a lot of money to support me. That is liberal thinking and has nothing to do with family values. Example of Liberal Thinking: Tax the heck out of people who work hard and earn lots of money and give it to "poor" people who don't deserve it - who are poor because they dropped out of high school, had kids out of wedlock and realize at age 25 they have nothing and are mad as hell because THEY made bad choices. So liberals/leftists/progressives TAKE money from the rich under the auspice of "we are helping the poor" and give it to people who don't deserve it. This make liberals/leftists/progressive "FEEL GOOD" about themselves.

Happy Trails
Cowgirl.

Wow, I think that one was even better than the last! I sincerely hope you're added to the NLT blogging team very soon.

Not only did you simply ignore the glaring contradiction in your own words that I pointed out, you also failed with this:

"Furthermore you are proving my point as you complain about the smells, sleeping, dogs barking, peacocks screaming and kids with asthma."

When, in fact, what I said was:
"...we tolerated dust, bad smells, and animal sounds - that was usually no big deal..."

Saying something "was usually no big deal" = "complaining" ???

So, it was or wasn't complaining on your part when you described how your "...intolerant liberal neighbors are the only people in the area that keep their dogs locked in a 12 x 12 pen (they live on 2 acres of land) for hours and hours and wonder why the dogs are out of control, chase livestock and bark continously." ?? So you actually relish the barking, out-of-control dogs, then, or is a pity party in order for this complaining and whining? ;)

Probably your best quote yet was this, though:
"If your kid has asthma, then don't move to the country."

You tell 'em!! (I won't even ask about kids that might have been born and raised in the country, who never moved there at all.)

You certainly have an abundance of modesty, too, with this:

"They [the "intolerant liberal neighbors"] are just like you. I am like the hard working farmers, ranchers and dairymen. Life is hard. Learn to deal with it."
You are great, whereas I am like the bad people from San Francisco who have caused starvation (although, let's be honest, cowgirl, those starving people are probably starving because of their own bad choices!!)

You are "like the hard working farmers" - does that mean you play one on TV?

I can't forget to apologize for abridging the word "pumpkin" from one of your quotes - I can see how that really alters the gist of your point there.

Oh, I see now that it wasn't merely the word "pumpkin" - I lopped off a whole sentence (most great writers do insist that when they are quoted, it be at length, to get the fullness and richness of the words)!!

Let me attempt to make amends for that violation of your artistic integrity by offering the entire sentence here, verbatim:

"Look that one up the the dictionary pumpkin."

I think I've figured out a solution for America's high-level nuclear waste (looks like Yucca Mtn. is a no-go) - let's send it to the canal next to cowgirl's place! Hey, it's already contaminated, so hey, why not? And we can be sure that such a rough-and-tumble gal won't do any whining and complaining about it - especially if we tell her it's for the good of our country. No pity parties now!

You complain about my posts - let's see they are stupid and I am stupid. I can't spell and my grammar is terrible. Yet pumpkin you keep responding to them. Who is the fool here?

When, in fact, what I said was:
"...we tolerated dust, bad smells, and animal sounds - that was usually no big deal...".
Oh yes you are a wonderful liberal - you tolerated it. How honorable of you - you tolerate it.

"So, it was or wasn't complaining on your part when you described how your "...intolerant liberal neighbors are the only people in the area that keep their dogs locked in a 12 x 12 pen (they live on 2 acres of land) for hours and hours and wonder why the dogs are out of control, chase livestock and bark continuously." ?? So you actually relish the barking, out-of-control dogs, then, or is a pity party in order for this complaining and whining? ;)"

I am not surprised you did not get this one. Yes they are intolerant neighbors - they complain about everything in the country. They lock their dogs up for hours a day - which one is against the law and two the most cruel thing you can ever do to a herding dog. I did not complain about the dogs barking and chasing livestock. I stated it as fact . Comprehension is not one of your finer attributes. They are downright cruel to their own animals, yet are the first to complain about dusts and smells. After all you are a fanatical reactionary environmentalist? Does that not apply to Animal Rights also? Or in this case do you give it a bye because the abusers are liberal/leftists/progressives?

Probably your best quote yet was this, though:
"If your kid has asthma, then don't move to the country."You tell 'em!! (I won't even ask about kids that might have been born and raised in the country, who never moved there at all.)

That is right - don't move to the country if your kid has asthma. That is just pure logic. I know plenty of kids born on farms and ranches that have asthma. They learn to deal with it. They tough it out. No wussys here. Cowboy Up. There are these professionals called doctors. Some of these doctors specialize in allergies and asthma. There are many of them at the medical center I go to. The kids that have been born and raised on ranches usually go to these types of doctors and get allergy medicine and help control their asthma. My son rodeos with quite a few of these ranch kids with allergies/asthma. They are tough. It doesn't get them down. I hope this has helped to educate you on things like allergies and asthma. Of course your man in the White House is hell bent on destroying that industry so things may change in the near future. That will mean that kids raised on ranches and farms with allergies and asthma will have to move out of the country because they will not have access to the medications they will need in order to live in those areas once your man in the White House gets done destroying the greatest medical system mankind has ever known.

"You certainly have an abundance of modesty, too, with this:"They [the "intolerant liberal neighbors"] are just like you. I am like the hard working farmers, ranchers and dairymen. Life is hard. Learn to deal with it."

You complain and whine about everything. Pity Party Prince. I am hard working. You may called it prideful, but I call it thank God I am hardworking and not sucking off the sweat of the American taxpayer.
.
"You are great, whereas I am like the bad people from San Francisco who have caused starvation (although, let's be honest, cowgirl, those starving people are probably starving because of their own bad choices!!)"

Yes you are like the environmentalists in San Francisco who have caused starvation. The people starving in south central California are farmers and illegals. Oops that will bring the wrath of Scanlon on me. See, some stupid environmentalists decided that the reason the Delta Smelt fish (that is not native to the Delta) was dying off was because the water in the Delta was being routed to the farms in south central California. So they got a very liberal federal judge in SF to cut the water off. Of course they did not follow Endangered Species Act, they followed their own agenda. Just like my neighbors - don't follow the law and lock your dogs up for hours. The water has been cut off for over two years and the farmers are losing their land, businesses are shutting down, towns are empty, people are losing their houses and the illegals are out of work. Yes, the farmers and the illegals made bad choices. Yes, it is all their fault. No it is the fault of fanatical reactionary environmentalists like you. Oh by the way, the water has been cut off for over two years and the fish are still dying. The Delta Smelt is not native to the Delta. A little thing that the liberal environmentalists and the liberal Judge in San Francisco decided not to review that little issue when the case was heard.

"You are "like the hard working farmers" - does that mean you play one on TV?"

Are there farmers on T.V. - I am not sure since I don't watch T.V. - most of what is on T.V. is a waste of time, but I bet you watch a lot of T.V. - MSNBC? CNN?

"I can't forget to apologize for abridging the word "pumpkin" from one of your quotes - I can see how that really alters the gist of your point there."

Apology accepted. I am glad that the comprehension thing is starting to kick in.

"Oh, I see now that it wasn't merely the word "pumpkin" - I lopped off a whole sentence (most great writers do insist that when they are quoted, it be at length, to get the fullness and richness of the words)!!"

Now you are contradicting yourself - first I am stupid and can't spell and now I am a great writer. It must suck to be you.

"Let me attempt to make amends for that violation of your artistic integrity by offering the entire sentence here, verbatim:
"Look that one up the dictionary pumpkin."

Thank you. I appreciate the full sentence.

"I think I've figured out a solution for America's high-level nuclear waste (looks like Yucca Mtn. is a no-go) - let's send it to the canal next to cowgirl's place! Hey, it's already contaminated, so hey, why not? And we can be sure that such a rough-and-tumble gal won't do any whining and complaining about it - especially if we tell her it's for the good of our country. No pity parties now!"

Just so long as all the money that I make off the high-nuclear waste plant goes into my pocketbook and not yours, the government or "poor people". I make the sacrifice - I get the money and the pay off. The government and the "poor people keep their grubby hands off. It is my money, I earned it and I can do what I please with it. Atlas Shrugged.

Happy Trails
Cowgirl.

You complained - errr....scratch that, you expressed your disapproval - that a judge didn't follow the ESA and that your neighbors don't follow the law when they pen their dogs up for long periods of time.

Were you following the law - or your own agenda - when you threw your son's video game sets into the canal?

I PAY a yearly fee to access the canal - it is private property and I have to maintain the access roads on either side in conjunction with the irrigation district. There is no law against what I did on the books.

Nice try pumpkin, but no cigar - you are trying to equate throwing a playstation into a canal to cars crashing into the canal driven by illegals and drunks, cruel people who lock their dogs up for hours and taking it one step further and comparing it to whack-job environmentalists and evil, crooked liberal judges. Where in the H E double toothpicks are you coming from?????????


Happy Trails.
Cowgirl.

But are you sure that those drunks and illegal aliens didn't pay a yearly fee of their own to access the canal??

You certainly aren't a very good example for those who wish to promote private ownership over public ownership of natural resources. The typical argument is that when the public owns something, nobody feels that they own it, so no one really acts to take care of it, whereas ownership encourages responsibility, encourages stewardship. Not necessarily so, at least if cowgirl's mad about the liberals!

Paying a fee to "access" the canal doesn't strike me as ownership. You don't actually have a deed or title to the canal, do you? If not, then there are likely legal limitations and restrictions (do you sign a contract for this access to the canal?) on what you can do with your access to the canal. I'm guessing you're not entitled to pollute it on a whim. An interesting scenario, though.

This has been great fun, cowgirl.
Always a pleasure.

And don't forget to find a way to write "pumpkin" and "H E double toothpicks" in any response! (that "H E double toothpicks" line is comic gold; do you hold any intellectual property rights on it? May I borrow it for use at parties?)

"But are you sure that those drunks and illegal aliens didn't pay a yearly fee of their own to access the canal??

I am positive they don't because the illegals are here illegally and the drunks are usually from town.

Let's not try and strain your brain here on this canal thing. Access to the canal: I can take the water to irrigate my pasture because it is right next to my house. The roads around the canal are privately owned and maintained. What part of that don't you get? Obviously you have never lived in a rural area and understand nothing about canals and irrigation so let's stop it here. Comprehension is not one of your finer attributes. I get a kick out of the fact that you want to stone me over throwing a playstation into a canal, but defend the illegals and drunks polluting the canal, my neighbors who are cruel to their dogs, and the enviornmentalists and San Fran Nancy Judge that are starving people. Whatever I do is bad because I am a conservative. You give a bye to the illegals, drunks, my cruel neighbors, the environmentalists and the San Fran Nancy Judge because they are liberal. You just proved my point that liberalism is a mental illness.

You can use any of my lines, but on one condition. Please don't use them at any of your Pity Parties.

Happy Trails
Cowgirl.

I get that you have access to the water in the canal - you can take water out. Does that also mean you are entitled to pollute the water in the canal with any junk you wish to throw into it?

As for the illegals, well, illegal aliens are able to do a lot of things (not just take your healthcare) despite being there, um, illegally (isn't that why you call 'em "illegals"?), like rent apartments, get jobs (maybe for Meg Whitman?), subscribe to cable TV. It's hardly unfathomable that they could pay for (rent?) access to this crappy, polluted canal, but I'm not familiar with such SoCal details.

2 things:

- Not everyone who has lived in the countryside - even on a farm - needs to have, or has, deep knowledge of irrigation or canals.

- I wrote not a single word, not one, to "defend the illegals and drunks polluting the canal, [your] neighbors who are cruel to their dogs, and the enviornmentalists [sic] and San Fran Nancy Judge that are starving people."

I didn't want to "stone you" for heaving your electronic junk into the canal, I just found it interesting that someone full of so much resentment could actually foul their own nest like that, so to speak. Your sole excuse - it's already fouled - is pretty weak, really.

I get that you have access to the water in the canal - you can take water out. Does that also mean you are entitled to pollute the water in the canal with any junk you wish to throw into it?

I guess I have just as much right ast the illegals, drunks, and all the birds and wild animals that crap in it do.

An illegal would have nothing to do with a canal where I live, because I none of them own any property around me and would not have the right to the canal and the roads surrounding the canal. People who access the canal near me are all legal residents and pay accordingly for access to the canal as well as maintain the dirt roads along the canals.

- I wrote not a single word, not one, to "defend the illegals and drunks polluting the canal, [your] neighbors who are cruel to their dogs, and the enviornmentalists [sic] and San Fran Nancy Judge that are starving people."

And you haven't wrote anything to critize them either.

"Not everyone who has lived in the countryside - even on a farm - needs to have, or has, deep knowledge of irrigation or canals."

There is no deep knowledge to have pumpkin. The canals run through farms and ranches to provide water to grow food for people and animals. The milk and cheese in the dairy case just don't fall out of the sky and into the grocery store. Carrots, grapes, tomatoes and all other fruits and vegetables also don't fall out of the sky and land in the produce section of the grocery store. This is not a difficult concept. If you live in the country you will see that somehow or another water needs to be delivered in large quantities. You don't just run a hose from your house to the acres and acres of farmland or ranchland. Canals for irrigation farmland and land ranch don't just exist in the small part of California that I live. I can see you went to public schools and were not taught critical thinking.

didn't want to "stone you" for heaving your electronic junk into the canal, I just found it interesting that someone full of so much resentment could actually foul their own nest like that, so to speak. Your sole excuse - it's already fouled - is pretty weak, really.

Yes you do want to stone me. I can tell how resentful you are of me in general. Problem is, I don't care. I actually think it is funny. My sole excuse wasn't because it was already fouled. It was to teach my son and lesson and get him educated and not addicted to stupid video games. You miss the point of just about everything pumpkin.

Believe it or not cowgirl, not every place in the US is like SoCal (in more ways than one). There are many farms across the US that do not depend upon canals and irrigation systems. They just depend on...(drumroll)...rain. But it depends on the crop and the place, of course.

Not criticizing someone/something is distinct from defending them. The former does not automatically mean the latter.

Wow, I want to stone you??!!!?? That's news to me.

Why do you think I'm resentful of you? What am I resentful about?

Anyway, if you wanted to "teach [your] son [a] lesson and get him educated and not addicted to stupid video games" you certainly had other options:

- submerging the consoles and games in the bathtub (if the games were on CD-ROMs, a strong magnet could work wonders)

- garage/yard sale (the money you make could go towards a water filtration system for your home)

- leave them out in the hot summer sun for a day (or two, however long it might take - probably not long in SoCal)

- running them over with one of your rugged, manly farm vehicles (and then disposing of the pieces like a responsible adult!! You better do it or my Eco-Nazi Stormtrooper Black Panther Thugs will come to getcha!!)

- forbidding your son from playing them again (if your son's obedient, that is)

Given your "Atlas Shrugged" comment a while back here in this thread, I thought I'd offer you this gem of a review of that book:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/10/01/what-i-think-about-atlas-shrugged/

BTW, from here on out, I've decided my endearing nickname for you (seeing as you've chosen "pumpkin" for me) will be "squash."

Believe it or not cowgirl, not every place in the US is like SoCal (in more ways than one). There are many farms across the US that do not depend upon canals and irrigation systems. They just depend on...(drumroll)...rain. But it depends on the crop and the place, of course.

I don't live in SoCal. But there are many, many farms across that country that do depend on irrigation and canals. Especially the ones that produce about 70% of the food supply in the United States.

Not criticizing someone/something is distinct from defending them. The former does not automatically mean the latter.
Again, you will not criticize them for doing things are against the law. But you are beating a dead dog on the PSP thing. This tells a lot about you. I bet you think Bill Clinton is a great guy.


"Why do you think I'm resentful of you? What am I resentful about?"

THat is easy - conservatives.

"Anyway, if you wanted to "teach [your] son [a] lesson and get him educated and not addicted to stupid video games" you certainly had other options:

- submerging the consoles and games in the bathtub (if the games were on CD-ROMs, a strong magnet could work wonders)

- garage/yard sale (the money you make could go towards a water filtration system for your home)

- leave them out in the hot summer sun for a day (or two, however long it might take - probably not long in SoCal)

- running them over with one of your rugged, manly farm vehicles (and then disposing of the pieces like a responsible adult!! You better do it or my Eco-Nazi Stormtrooper Black Panther Thugs will come to getcha!!)

Gee, the next time I want to teach my son a lesson I will call you. You should go into the full time business of raising kids and should travel the country with Al Gore and Robert Kennedy Jr - just think you will be able to fly on a private jet and be a hypocrite at the same time - just like them. You can preach to everyone about eco-friendly kid punishment alternatives. I am so impressed. Where in the H E double toothpicks are you coming from? Throwing a psp in the canal just gets you worked up. Typical liberal.

By the way - let your StormTrooper Black Panther Thugs know that I support and excercise the Second Amendment.

Given your "Atlas Shrugged" comment a while back here in this thread, I thought I'd offer you this gem of a review of that book:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/10/01/what-i-think-about-atlas-shrugged/

Scalzi is a typical, liberal Hollywood person. Do you actually believe anything someone from Hollywood would say or write? Gosh you are gullible.


BTW, from here on out, I've decided my endearing nickname for you (seeing as you've chosen "pumpkin" for me) will be "squash."

Whatever chokes your chicken pumpkin

"Do you actually believe anything someone from Hollywood would say or write?"

Ya got me there, squash!

http://www.architecturaldigest.com/homes/features/archive/reagan_article

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513EZMK7KQL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

(Did you know he had a star on the H'wood Walk of Fame, too?)

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