In Which I Admit I Was Wrong

I have been saying sardonically since November of 2008 that’s Obama would be the greatest President ever. Because he was so transparently an unreconstructed Marxist and because I knew that he would overreach, I figured this put him ahead of a squishy John McCain, who would move us down the road to socialism while the press decried it as conservatism, just as they did with Bush even when he was doing things that were “liberal”.

Unlike some, I’m not so cynical that I could actually vote for Obama on that basis, but I figured it would play out that way.
Worst-case scenario would be that someone on Obama’s team might actually understand economics and fixed the economy—which really isn’t that difficult if you’re not a true believer in communism. With a repaired economy, the administration would have a blank check as far as implementing social programs like health care reform and providing graft to all their buddies.
Fortunately, they’ve drunk their own Kool-Aid so they really don’t understand cause-and-effect. They actually believe a command-and-control economy can work.
Even more fortunately, the American people seem to have woken up to the dangers of overreaching government. I’ve been predicting an electoral bloodbath for November for the past year, but I think the actuality may exceed even my expectations. The goal should be to make health care reform so toxic that a veto proof majority will vote to repeal it—and given how bad it’s currently faring after only a few days, I don’t think that this is as wild notion as it might have seemed a few months ago.
So how am I admitting I was wrong? I think that the American people were waking up to the dangers of big government anyway. I think they would have fought McCain as well, just as we saw pork busters emerge under Bush.
In other words, I don’t think it was necessary to put the American people through the trauma of a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress destroying the economy in order to alert the them to the dangers the government poses. I think they would’ve gotten there anyway. And it will get a lot worse before it gets better.
I only hope that people will respond to the same degree that their freedoms have been trampled.

John Adams echoes Freeman Hunt

Do you remember this post by Freeman Hunt called “He Is Not Coming”? I responded to that one twice, here and here.but I’m currently reading David McCullough’s book John Adams. And I came across this interesting passage:

“I wander alone, and ponder. I muse, I mope, I ruminate,” he wrote in the seclusion of his diary. “We have not men fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, education, in travel, fortune—in everything. I feel an unutterable anxiety.”

It must be admitted that to some degree the times create the character of the people. The Greatest Generation is considered to be the greatest because of their handling of the Depression and World War II. And, frankly, I don’t think they handled Great Depression that well since they left us a legacy of unsustainable social programs, to say nothing of a compromised Constitution. We won’t even get started on their child-rearing abilities.
I think there’s a real opportunity here for greatness and I think the American people are up to it. I guess what I’m saying is that he may not be coming but perhaps we are.

Sometimes I Forget

I’m fortunate enough to have both my parents still living (though I worry about my dad). Even so, there’s a song (by Loudon Wainwright III, natch) that brings me to tears every time every time I hear it. (Much less sing it, as I sometimes do.)

He wrote it about his dad. He and his dad, Loudon Wainwright II—never name your kids after yourself—had a tumultuous, competitive relationship, and he actually wrote a lot of songs about his father, some of them quite angry.
But this one he wrote after his father had died. They had reached a sort of accord, developed a relationship, and then he was gone. A friend of mine was talking about her father’s favorite place to eat and tearing up, and it brought this song to mind.

Sometimes I forget
That you are gone

You’re gone and you’re not coming back
It’s hard to believe
You’re still not here
What’s left behind disputes that fact
Your closet’s still full of your clothes and your shoes
And your bookcase still holds all your books
It’s as if all you’d done was to go out of town
You’ll be back soon, that’s just how it looks
But your suitcase is empty
It’s right here in the hall
And that’s not even the strangest thing
Why would you leave your wallet behind?
Your glasses, your wristwatch and ring
Your glasses, your wristwatch and ring
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
And that we’ll never see you again
I think for a moment
“I’ve got to give him a call.”
But I can’t now, I realize then
No, we can’t meet for lunch at the usual place
The place that where we always would go
And there was something I wanted to tell you so bad
Something I knew that you’d want to know
Oh, I could go by myself
To our old haunt
But that seems such a strange thing to do
The waiters would wonder what was going on
Why weren’t you there, where were you?
Why weren’t you there, where were you?
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
I remember and I feel the ache
How could it happen?
How could it be?
It’s not true, there must be some mistake
Mementos and memories, tell me what good are they?
No, they’re not much to have and to hold
And it’s true that you’re gone and you’re not coming back
And this world seems so empty and cold
But sometimes something happens
And it doesn’t seem strange
You’re not far away, you’re near
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
Sometimes it feels like you’re right here
Right now it feels like you’re right here

Sometimes I Forget

I’m fortunate enough to have both my parents still living (though I worry about my dad). Even so, there’s a song (by Loudon Wainwright III, natch) that brings me to tears every time every time I hear it. (Much less sing it, as I sometimes do.)

He wrote it about his dad. He and his dad, Loudon Wainwright II—never name your kids after yourself—had a tumultuous, competitive relationship, and he actually wrote a lot of songs about his father, some of them quite angry.
But this one he wrote after his father had died. They had reached a sort of accord, developed a relationship, and then he was gone. A friend of mine was talking about her father’s favorite place to eat and tearing up, and it brought this song to mind.

Sometimes I forget
That you are gone

You’re gone and you’re not coming back
It’s hard to believe
You’re still not here
What’s left behind disputes that fact
Your closet’s still full of your clothes and your shoes
And your bookcase still holds all your books
It’s as if all you’d done was to go out of town
You’ll be back soon, that’s just how it looks
But your suitcase is empty
It’s right here in the hall
And that’s not even the strangest thing
Why would you leave your wallet behind?
Your glasses, your wristwatch and ring
Your glasses, your wristwatch and ring
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
And that we’ll never see you again
I think for a moment
“I’ve got to give him a call.”
But I can’t now, I realize then
No, we can’t meet for lunch at the usual place
The place that where we always would go
And there was something I wanted to tell you so bad
Something I knew that you’d want to know
Oh, I could go by myself
To our old haunt
But that seems such a strange thing to do
The waiters would wonder what was going on
Why weren’t you there, where were you?
Why weren’t you there, where were you?
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
I remember and I feel the ache
How could it happen?
How could it be?
It’s not true, there must be some mistake
Mementos and memories, tell me what good are they?
No, they’re not much to have and to hold
And it’s true that you’re gone and you’re not coming back
And this world seems so empty and cold
But sometimes something happens
And it doesn’t seem strange
You’re not far away, you’re near
Sometimes I forget
That you are gone
Sometimes it feels like you’re right here
Right now it feels like you’re right here

First In A Series In Which I Offer Unsolicited Advice To Celebrities Based On Miniscule Exposure To Their Work

Many moons ago, compulsive copyeditor Amba tweeted this delightful little video from the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra. (This is going to be an unusual post for me; I’m actually embedding video.)

Ukuleles aside, the maudlin nature of the song pushes it over into a sort of joyous “singing the blues” (no actual blues involved). These guys sound (and look) like they’re having a great time. Not mocking it, but not wallowing in hyper dark seriousness.
Since I’d been plucking on my uke a bit more lately, I thought I’d check out the song a bit more and discovered the song was originally Bonnie Tyler. Having survived the ‘80s, I knew her from a couple of other songs, and it occurred to me, at that moment, I could probably offer some helpful romantic advice to Ms. Tyler.
First of all, here’s her rendition. (I can barely stand to listen to it, even though the WUO is pretty faithful.)

Wait a second. Catch those lyrics? There aren’t many of them, but you may not have stopped to consider them fully.
It’s a heartache
Nothing but a heartache
Love him till your arms break
Then he lets you down
Wait, love him till what? Your arms break? What were you doing that either of you were enjoying up to the point that your arms actually broke?
Well, anyone can be a bit intense from time-to-time. It’s not like, you know, it’s super-creepy intense with, like, ninjas and angels and glowy-eyed demons and erotic dreams of half-naked underaged boys, right?

Well, it’s important to keep a positive attitude.
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
I don’t know what to do and I’m always in the dark
We’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
OK, but at least there’s no good reason whatsoever to hang out in an abandoned insane asylum right?
All right, I’m getting the picture. Well, maybe you can make up for some of these, um, relationship shortcomings by lowering your standards?
It’s gonna take a superman
To sweep me off my feet
The problem, Ms. Tyler, is that you’re constantly at 10, in a world that’s happiest with things around a 3-4. Guys, in particular, like calm, level-headed women who are appreciative without being overly needy.
Look, try something different. Imagine this guy approaching you:

And just ask yourself, “Am I gonna scare him off?” If the answer’s “yes”, you might want to consider dialing it back a bit.

You’re welcome.

Burdens and Blessings

I have held off blogging about The Enigma in the hopes that she would blog for herself; such a thing would be extremely challenging, and I’ve seen some kids do it who are then attacked by their commenters as being fakes.

There is a process called “facilitated communication” by which one person holds the brain-injured person’s hand at the wrist and this helps the brain-injured person “type out” a message on a board. The reaction from the casual bystander is to think the facilitator is doing it, not the brain-injured person. (Of course, anyone who tried to force The Enigma to do anything would realize how silly an idea that was.)
You can read about one aspect of the controversy here. The Enigma is one of those kids who has gradually gained independence in facilitation. For some things, she doesn’ t need any help at all any more.
In the previous post, Troop mentioned something about having crosses to bear, and it reminded me of a discussion I’d had with a friend when The Enigma was around ten. He was talking about a basketball player or movie star who had a handicapped kid (maybe adopted one, even).
“They say it’s a blessing? Is it?”
“What?”
“Having a special needs child. Celebrities are always talking about what a blessing it is.”
“Are you nuts?”
I thought—and I still think—this is just a stupid celebrity thing. I mean, what are they going to say: “Every day is a soul-crushing burden”? (Not that I have felt that way, but I’ve certainly seen parents who did.)
It’s hard to enumerate the costs. Financially ruinous, of course, several times. (Most recently, shortly after being reduced to a part-time employee, The Enigma incurred a $12,000 dental bill.) My own health shot (or at least diminished), as I’ve spent 15 years tending her at nights because she doesn’t sleep well. (Health experts disagree on a lot of things, like nutrition and exercise, but they all seem to agree that not getting enough sleep will kill you.)
To say nothing having missed many of the joys of a normal life with her, and feeling that loss acutely as each of her siblings grow up.
A blessing?
But then, it has to be said that if the condition is horrible, some of the fallout has been decidedly positive. The Enigma attended a special school where they said their ABCs and motored her through doing cut-outs; at twelve, with the help of the Institutes, we put her on a home program, where she ultimately developed the ability to comprehend over 20 different languages.
So, her siblings also have been homeschooled. The Boy was a particular beneficiary as he could’ve skated through school on charm.
Also, looking into alternative approaches to handling The Enigma’s condition led to the elimination of my allergies, and seems to have The Boy on the road to recovery for his diabetes.
Now, I’ve come to understand The Enigma somewhat better over the years. We don’t really understand these kids—I’ll get into why in a later post, but curiously tantalizing fact is that blood tests on them have revealed compounds similar to hallucinogens—and it’s true that they are alien to us, in the sense of their experience and intelligence. (Homo sapiens bases its idea of intelligence on the ability to speak.)
But even respecting that difference, let’s not pretend that brain injury is not a deficiency. Even if it results in hyper-intelligence in certain areas (as I believe it does, which is something else I’ll get into later), let’s not go down the deaf route of declaring some kind of legitimate lifestyle choice.
It’s a challenge. And a struggle. But as Troop points out, there are many crosses to bear. If there’s a sin, it’s allowing yourself being defined by the burdens rather than the blessings.

Introducing The Enigma

Although I haven’t blogged about her explicitly, The Boy, The Flower and The Barbarienne have an older sister, who for blogging purposes, I’ll refer to as “The Enigma”. The Enigma is the oldest, and as all first children, she was life-changing.

The Enigma was especially life-changing, as she is severely brain-injured.
A botched surgery at four days left her with a host of developmental problems. A lot of the references I make to things like the ketogenic diet, the IAHP, or “snake oil” in general come from the experiences I’ve had trying to help her. (“Standard” treatment for brain-injured kids these days is to load ‘em up with drugs for depression and hyperactivity, give them a lot of useless therapy, warehouse them in special—er, wait, now we pack ’em in with the rest of the kids, no matter how inappropriate—and load up the parents with antidepressants, while we’re at it.)
One thing parents of brain-injured children tend to do is to look at other brain-injured children and thing “If only…”. It can be hard to comprehend for someone with “normal” children, but I can look at Down’s Syndrome kids and think, “They’ve got it easy.”
I’m not going to be coy: I’m blogging now because of Simon’s tweets about his son, who reminds me strongly of some of the kids the IAHP has treated over the years.
One of the eye-opening things they do at the IAHP is that they point out that kids like The Enigma, because they’re obviously brain-injured, are given certain leeway. Society dismisses them, sure, but because of that, when they do something socially incorrect, the thought process is “Well, they’re retarded.” Or whatever the word du jour is.
But massive numbers of children are brain-injured in ways that have no visible trace. The various syndromes referred to as ADHD or dyslexia or things that don’t even have names yet leave a child who looks perfectly normal, yet who is unable to function in some critical way.
These kids are “stupid”, “lazy” or just plain “bad”. I was in a room full of parents of severely brain-injured kids, and not one of us didn’t tear up hearing about kids who were so high functioning, that they were actually treated worse than our own kids.
When I hear about Simon’s kid, I think of a story they told at the Institutes of a teen who had been brought in because he always made the wrong choice. Well, that’s weird, isn’t it? It doesn’t sound like a brain problem.
Now, anyone who reads this blog knows I’m big on looking at spiritual causes, responsibility, discipline. But, to draw an analogy, if the body is a computer and the brain is the CPU, then if the CPU is screwed up, it doesn’t really matter what the computer user’s intentions are. The results will be screwed up.
This kid who always made the wrong choice was brought in for an interview. And after exchanging some light interview questions, the interviewer adjourned with the kid to show him around the campus.
On the way out, he asked him to turn off the light—a little desk lamp.
And the kid reached for it with one hand. Then he stopped. Then he reached for it with the other hand. Then there was this little struggle. This kid couldn’t turn off a light! Instead, after agonizing for several seconds, he grabbed it and tried to smash it on the floor. (I don’t recall if he succeeded.)
It’s sort of astounding. I might even be disinclined to believe it, but I see similar behaviors from The Enigma on a daily basis. I see “normal” kids all the time and can spot the brain injuries that will go unnoticed for all their lives. You can imagine the reaction of a parent to the notion that their beautiful, perfect child is “brain-injured”. It’s better, in most cases, not to bring it up.
(This, in my opinion, is due to the complete failure of “standard” treatments to do anything at all about brain injuries, so a brain injury is considered a sort of life sentence.)
An average kid who functions normally in most instances is almost never going to be correctly identified as far as brain injuries go. In most cases, that just means they’ll go through life thinking they’re clumsy, or unable to do certain things. In other cases, the results are more dire.
Now, where I get jealous of kids like this is that the fix is ridiculously easy, at least compared to the more severe injuries, many of which are not totally fixable (at least not by the IAHP’s methods).
Anyway, my heart goes out to Simon and his family. I hope they find an answer.

Lazier and Stupider Than I Thought

Trooper York advised me to drop the whole “Obama is stupid and lazy” meme, on the basis of the government’s ability to persecute its enemies—something he, as a New Yorker, is all too familiar with—and that was probably wise, given the way this administration seems to work.

But—man, oh, man—it’s like the guy is baiting me. Maybe the blog prof is wrong here, but I suspect not. Obama bought liability and then expected to have his car repaired. And what’s with disparaging a business satisfying the legal requirements? What else are they gonna do?
It’s that stuff that worries me. I know people get to be that age without even a basic grasp of—not even economics!—but the simple mechanics of how business works. I mean, insurance is a trickier product than a lemonade, but it’s still providing a service for a cost with enough left to make a profit.
Lazy.
Oh, yeah, and there’s the whole not-leading-the-whole-national-health-reform-process-until-it’s-gone-to-hell-only-to-submit-a-bill-nearly-identical-to-the-rejected-Senate-bill-only-more-expensive-and-then-having-a-summit-where-he’s-completely-unprepared-to-address-any-real-concerns-thing, too.
But I’m sort of inured to that level of stupidity and laziness by this point. You?
Stupid.
Now, if you were a civic-minded fellow (the sort that might run for President) wouldn’t your first inclination be to try to figure out why you weren’t covered? I mean, if you were supposed to be covered, and you weren’t, that sounds criminal, doesn’t it?
Remember, you’re not just civic-minded, but a community activist and future or current law student! Personally, I’m sort allergic to legal procedings and even I would’ve considered small claims court.