Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Done!

I'm done!
I'm done!
I'm done!
I'm done!
I'm done!
I'm done!
I'm done!
I'm done!
I'm done!
I'm done!

Book 1 Student Text - in to the publisher
Book 1 Activity Guide Outlines - in to the publisher
Book 1 Teacher's Manual - in to the publisher

Now, I am going to take a day off to hang out with my kids. Play Christmas music way too loudly. Dig out the Christmas decorations. Wrap Quarto's birthday presents. Make some animal costumes for our church's Christmas play this Sunday. Make some homemade pizza. Just be and enjoy.

Good night! I'm going to go read a book. Just because.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I just couldn't help myself...

I saw these two headlines on an internet news service, and I knew I couldn't wait two weeks before saying something.

First headline: Stem Cell Breakthrough Diffuses Debate

Scientists have created the equivalent of embryonic stem cells from ordinary skin cells, a breakthrough that could someday produce new treatments for disease without the explosive moral questions of embyro cloning.

Research teams in the United States and Japan showed that a simple lab technique can rival the complex and highly controversial idea of extracting stem cells from cloned embryos.

Gut Reaction: "Finally!"

Thoughtful Reaction: "Will it really be accepted?"

There are some flaws in the technique. The primary one being that in the transition process, the DNA of the skin cells is altered thus increasing the risk of forming cancer. Because of this risk, human applications are being delayed. The developers of the technique feel that this side-effect can be avoided with some changes to the technique.

Overall, this is wonderful news. The technique is cheaper than clone harvesting, a large number of potential of skin cell donors and ease of procurement means a larger pool of stem cells available for research and treatment, and the need for the cloning of babies and abortions to harvest stem cells is removed. It seems to be a win-win all around.

Second Headline: High Court to Weigh Ban on Gun Ownership


The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that could produce the most in-depth examination of the constitutional right to "keep and bear arms" in nearly 70 years...

...The government of Washington, D.C., is asking the court to uphold its 31-year ban on handgun ownership in the face of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban as incompatible with the Second Amendment. Tuesday's announcement was widely expected, especially after both the District and the man who challenged the handgun ban asked for the high court review.

The main issue before the justices is whether the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own guns or instead merely sets forth the collective right of states to maintain militias. The former interpretation would permit fewer restrictions on gun ownership.

Gut Reaction: What?!

Thoughtful Reaction: What?!

At first, I was simply amazed that this case even got this far. The Constitution clearly states in the Second Amendment:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

When the Second Amendment was first proposed, many, including James Madison, expressed concern over what the term "militia" meant and what exactly the amendment was proposing. In a letter to Mr. Madison, Tench Coxe, a delegate to the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania, pointed Mr. Madison to a series of articles he had written in the under the pseudonym "A Pennsylvanian." On June 18, 1789, the (Philadelphia) Federal Gazette(Philadelphia) Federal Gazette ran the article "Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution" by Tench Coxe (aka "A Pennsylvanian") which read, in part:

The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ...the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them.
Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.

We are the people. The amendment gives the people the right to keep and bear arms. We are the militia. The amendment confirms the necessity of a well regulated militia and is therefore confirming that the removal of the right of the citizenry to own guns ("and every other terrible implement of the soldier" according to Coxe) is not up to the government. If fact, government prohibition of weapon ownership is strictly prohibited.

James Madison himself, in Federalist Paper No. 46, when addressing the concern over the federal government's ability to call up and control the militia (or the greater fear, maintenance of a standing army with the increased ability for government oppression), states that this fear is impractical since the populace of America will be armed:

Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.

That this is even being contested amazes me, but another fact in the case stuck out to me. Did you see it? "
The government of Washington, D.C., is asking the court to uphold its 31-year ban on handgun ownership in the face of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban as incompatible with the Second Amendment." Thirty-one year ban?! How did this ban pass in the first place? Why did it take this long for someone to contest it? I find this scary.

I'll be keeping my eye on this scientific breakthrough and the upcoming Supreme Court case. In the meantime, back to work. The finish line looms larger than yesterday and will be larger still tomorrow. (Plus, I need my rest so I can clean my house for Thanksgiving guests.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

December 21st

Where will you be?

I'll be at the theater watching the greatest musical of all time.

Want to come?

Monday, November 12, 2007


That was me sending up a virtual signal flare.


Isn't it pretty?

Ooh! Aah!

Anyway, I'm still here.

Still alive.

Up against a deadline.

End of the month.

Book one.


I hope.

Hopefully, I'll still be conscious.

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

If you are from Britain or a history buff (or homeschooled *grin*), the title phrase probably recalls the story of Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes was a member of a Roman Catholic, anti-Protestant group who attempted to assassinate King James I and blow-up the British Parliament on November 5, 1605 in what has become known as the Gunpowder Plot. Guy Fawkes Day is still celebrated in Britain and involves fireworks, bonfires, and the burning of Guy in effigy. Recitation of the following rhyme is popular among British children as part of the celebration of Guy Fawkes' capture:

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
By God's providence he was catch'd,
With a dark lantern and burning match

Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip Hoorah !
Hip hip Hoorah !

A penny loaf to feed ol'Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar,'
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head,
Then we'll say: ol'Pope is dead.

(That's about as cheery as Ring Around the Rosy, isn't it?)

If you are a movie buff, the phrase "Remember, Remember the 5th of November" may bring to mind the Guy Fawkes mask clad freedom fighter (known as "V") of the fictitious, socialistic London of the future as portrayed in the movie V for Vendetta (based on the graphic novel). You can see V in the picture to the right. (The poster behind him is one of the many slogans used by the totalitarian government that attempts to place the government in the position of a god.) The movie's opening voiceover draws on the children's rhyme:

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot... But what of the man? I know his name was Guy Fawkes and I know, in 1605, he attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But who was he really? What was he like? We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I've witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I've seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them... but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it... ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love... And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man... A man that made me remember the Fifth of November. A man that I will never forget.

And here is the speech given by V when he addresses the people of London and reveals his plans to overthrow the totalitarian government and expresses the importance of a unified citizenry if change is to take hold:

Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

As of yesterday, November 5, 2007, "Remember, remember the 5th of November" has taken on new meaning. It is the day the Ron Paul Revolution took a giant leap forward. Yesterday, the Ron Paul campaign raised $4.3 million dollars in 24 hours. The fundraiser was prompted by an independent Ron Paul supporter through his website, but was embraced by the campaign (according to an article by ABC News, Who Are Ron Paul's Donors?). Donations came from both already active supporters and donors and more than 21,000 donors who registered with the campaign for the first time yesterday. As of today (November 6th) at 3:30 central time, the Ron Paul 2008 website is reporting this quarter's total fundraising has reached just shy of $7.4 million which surpasses last quarter's surprising $5.1 million and is more than half of this quarter's goal of $12 million.

So, are you ready to join the Ron Paul Revolution and celebrate a victory next November 5th?

*Note: I haven't forgotten about responding to the comments I received (via both email and the comments section) to my last Ron Paul post. I am up against a work deadline, and a "cut and paste" post like this is easier than a researched, thoughtful post. I'll begin posting responses to the other post in a week or two (I hope... as long as I keep chugging along on this deadline).

Sorry about the weird formatting on the rhyme. Not sure what's going on. Looks fine in writing mode, but it's off when I post. Oh well.