Thursday, October 30, 2008

Question and Answer Time: What is a School of Education?

Question from Ryan:

Can someone please let me know what this means from Obama...

Prepare Teachers: Obama and Biden will require all schools of education to be accredited. Obama and Biden will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively.

This is from Obama's website, as a homeschooling parent I'm concerned about "all schools of education be accredited" and "every new educator is trained"

I'm sorry but that sounds like it would be very difficult to educate my children in my home.

My Answer:


Unless you are trying to educate them to be teachers, and unless you expect to be able to give them certificates that will qualify them to teach in schools, you shouldn't worry. If you are running a "school of education," that is a place where education classes are taught and teachers are trained, you will have to be accredited, or else you will not be able to graduate certified teachers. If you are teaching children to read and write, do math, remember the Pharaohs in order, and stuff like that, then this doesn't apply to you. :)

For examples of schools of education, click here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Barack Obama, Charlie Brown! The Obama Infomercial

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

I absolutely loved it. I don't mind telling you that I cried.

I had intended to try and watch this through the eyes of a skeptic, someone who has decided that Obama is the anti-christ, that he is Hitler, that he is a Muslim terrorist who plans to destroy the country. Through the eyes of someone who believes he is, in short, a liar. It was like trying to go back to the way I felt in the primary, when I wanted Hillary to be President so much. I looked at this commercial objectively and tried to really see where someone might say, "That doesn't make sense" or "That's a bad idea." I thought I would get some insight into the people I'm trying to understand.

I couldn't actually manage it. I was only able to maintain my fake disdain for a minute. Seeing him in that wood paneled office, looking so Presidential, was just such a relief. The idea of a smart, capable man in the White House, a sensible, thoughtful man at the helm filled me with energy and hope. The rest of the commercial brought it home. For me, there were no sour notes. He was direct, clear, and specific. No one could say they don't know what he plans to do. No would could say, now, that they don't know what he's thinking. The only response to that commercial that would make a person decide to vote against the man is "He's just lying."

The response, "He's lying" leads directly to "Well, McCain lies too," and from there it's a short step to "They're all liars" and then we get "What the hell" and finally "Does it really matter what I think anyway?" This conclusion is the antithesis of Obama's message. We are the change we need. He wants us to change the world, not him.

Unless, of course, he's lying. Which is, I suppose, a valid response. Maybe the smart person in me demands that I reserve some percentage of my confidence for saying "If he's not lying..." If he's not lying, he's a good man who wants to help. If he's not lying, he's a smart man with a clear plan. If he's not lying, I can depend on his values and his intentions, on his quick brains and his wise team, I can relax and stop worrying.

This time around, I have decided on purpose to suspend my disbelief. I decided it on the night of the acceptance speech. I remember it very well, it was like a bag of sand running out of my legs through my feet. I gave myself permission to just believe this person's words, without constantly qualifying, second-guessing, hedging, reminding myself of what shitbags those politicians always are, and how impossible it is for a man in Obama's position to actually live out his convictions and values. I just don't care about that right now, it seems like. Maybe it's because I am stupid and naive -- I have been accused of that. Or maybe it's because I have been down the road of "He's lying" all the way through "what the hell" and on the other side of "It doesn't matter" is "I might as well believe him."

So I just can't be objective. And I think that's alright.

I hope that some undecided voters watched tonight's infomercial (the above clip is one third of it, I think) with an open mind, and I hope that some of them were able to relax and say, "Okay, I'll let go of my suspicion and run with this guy." In some ways, it's more familiar and almost more comfortable to choose the route of fear and doubt and worry. Definitely cooler to say "Oh, the bastards, they all lie, there's no good choice!" Many times the brave choice also looks like the stupid choice, am I right? But I don't need any more doubt in my life. I don't need any more studied cool, any more scorn and cynical disdain. I do need energy, strength, faith, and relief.

I only have my one little vote. I'm going to give it to Obama. Not because he's the lesser of two evils, but because I truly believe he is the best man for the job. It isn't going to be a hesitant, fearful little vote. It's going to be a vote with confidence, a firm, bold vote. A vote I will not regret.

McCain Voters on Parade

Warning: Do not play this video if you have children present, unless they're mature enough to handle expressions of aggressive racism, death threats, and hate. I'm not sure how I would explain these people to my kids -- so they won't be watching this one.

Republicans want to label Obama as a terrorist because "You are who you associate with." I know all Republicans aren't racists, and I'm sure that you, reading this, feel grossed out too. However, as you call Obama a terrorist because he spent time with William Ayers, maybe you should look around yourself at that rally, on your blogroll, in your church, and think about who you are associating with in this campain. I know that I wouldn't want to associate with these people, at all. Wouldn't want to hold the same sign in my hand, wouldn't want to cheer for the same candidate, wouldn't want to attend the same rally. The most chilling moment: the man who says "When he gets in the White House..." and then makes a gun with his hand and simulates shooting. I also feel utter disgust for the sickening man in with the "Democrats for McCain" sign who says, "I could never vote for a black man."

Are you proud of these friends of yours, McCain supporters? Proud to add your voice to theirs in support of this candidate? You are who you associate with, right? Are you proud to stand elbow to elbow with these violent bigots? The people in this video are not from a radical group -- not the Klan, not some fringe group -- just a random stream of McCain supporters on their way to a rally in PA.

I would like to think that McCain would condemn all of this. Maybe if he had run as an independent, maybe if he had picked someone else as VP, maybe if he had stayed the man he was eight years ago, instead of bending in so many ways to get that nomination and that conservative support, then he could be proud of his campaign, proud of the votes he gets next week. But I would hope, seriously, that if he looked out of that bus and heard any of these reprehensible epithets -- the threats, the racism -- that his stomach would turn like mine does. How many people will be voting for McCain on Tuesday because they just can't vote for a black man?

Maybe you've got a sincere hope that those disgusting racist votes against a man because he's black will be enough, added to yours, to keep Obama from being President. I hope that they won't.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Barack Obama and Socialism

If you enjoy having weekends off, thank a socialist.
If you appreciate the eight-hour work day, thank a socialist.
If you approve of minimum wage, thank a socialist.

If you like living in a country where it's illegal to sell your child to a sweatshop for a dollar a week, you can be thankful that socialists, yes those are anti-capitalist, anti-free-market socialists, worked hard in the face of big business and government opposition to make that happen.

Do you like the fact that you don't have to step over sick homeless people on the way to your car? Do you feel thankful that hoards of starving orphans aren't begging you to carry your bag at the airport? Do you approve of the fact that elderly people don't have to die in the street if they run out of money?

Do you want to take a little trip to 19th century New York City and see what life was like before welfare, before labor laws, before publicly funded garbage disposal and street cleaning, before the government could tell you how to treat your children, before the government could tell you how to operate your factory safely, before the government could tell you how to wire and plumb your apartment building, before socialism?

I keep hearing, "I enjoy living in a capitalist country and I want to keep it that way! Don't you take my capitalism away from me!" Sister, you don't live in a capitalist country. Sorry. That has already been taken away from you. Along with children working in mines, tenements made out of cardboard, and unregulated air pollution. Do you miss all that? Is it just killing you that the terrible socialists with their wealth redistribution gave Medicaid to babies in poverty? After all, they didn't earn it. Their mothers couldn't afford it. In your sparkling, elegant capitalist society, they wouldn't have it. You want to be in charge of spending your own money, not giving it to the government to redistribute to the poor! Do you wish we could go back to a time when generous churches and noble private citizens were responsible for picking up the tab for those babies? Because you know what? They didn't. Read about it. It was ugly.

Do you drive on public roads? Are you glad that every child in the country has an opportunity to go to school? Do you like the fact that meat packers have to uphold certain standards in their factories to sell you a steak? You like paid vacation days? These are socialist principles, people. The USDA. The EPA. Where you see government regulating business for the benefit of the people, that's socialism. Where you see safety nets for poor people, old people, children, and sick people, that's socialism. You really want to get rid of all that?

The big businesses of this country did not suddenly one day wake up and say, "Hey, let's give those workers two days off a week. They've earned it!" They did not just announce, "You know, it's Tuesday, let's set a minimum wage!" They didn't establish a 9 to 5 work day just because 9 and 5 are good numbers for them. It goes against profit and the free market to be kind, safe, and fair, and yet those are the principles that I'm teaching my children to live by. Aren't you? Are you not teaching them to put profit first and step on whoever they have to step on to get there? Then guess what: you're not teaching them to be little capitalists. Sorry! But you're not.

I don't like to talk about religion on this blog, because for me religion is very private. But I will ask you this: What did Jesus say to Nicodemus? Did he say, "Gather up all your awesome money and all your possessions, put them in your SUV and follow me?" No, he told Nicodemus to give all his money away, then follow. Did Jesus say that heaven would be populated by fabulous capitalists who had grabbed their piece of the pie and hung on for dear life? No, he said it would be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. We're deifying Joe the Plumber, who wants to hang on to his wealth, who wants to get ahead, who wants to grab his piece of the dream. Am I reading the same Bible you are? The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. What does that mean for Joe?

The latest news to go shrieking around the internet is that Barack Obama was a member of the New Party in Chicago. Before you get all lathered up about it, read about the party on Wikipedia and on their own web site. Did the New Party espouse a whole lot of socialist principles, like affordable housing and a living wage? Yes. But you know what? So do I. I don't consider myself a socialist, but I sure wouldn't want to consider myself a capitalist either.

If you want to make your mind up about Barack Obama, read his policies, study his plan, and make your decision based on what he has said he values and what he has said he will do. Getting scared about the word "socialist" is irrational. Before you run screaming into the night, look around you. Socialism has done a lot of good in your world. Are you afraid that Obama the socialist is going to make your working day shorter? Are you afraid he's going to make your food safer, give you more city parks, make your air cleaner, make your workplace safer, give more people voting rights, establish more vacation days, or something awful like that? Are you afraid he's going to keep us out of foreign wars, stop writing huge checks to big businesses, and improve our schools? Wow, yeah, that's terrifying.

I can't get excited about this socialism scare. For me, those are all good things.

Be kind. Be fair. Help people. Protect the weak.

Which of these excellent principles is capitalist again?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Question and Answer Time: The Emotional Democrat Edition

Question from Chris:

Now just out of curiousity since I am neither a Democrat nor Republican, why are Democrats (you sure seem to identify with that party) so emotional? I think that when we, as people, stick to facts and leave out the emotion more will be accomplished. I think that is why Republicans own talk radio. BTW - I rarely listen to their talk-shows but when I hear them I have to laugh when I hear Democrats getting emotional. It may work for now when the chips are down but if Obama doesn't fix the mess both he and the Democrats will be on the way out as the cynical American people slam the door.

My answer:

I'm not sure what to make of your comment, Chris. I wouldn't generalize that either Republicans or Democrats are more "emotional," nor would I agree that Republicans have mastered sticking to the facts.

It has concerned me that our current President has professed to be motivated largely by his religious beliefs and what he feels God is leading him to do, internationally. That doesn't strike me as sticking to the facts, nor does it seem like a better plan than "getting emotional." Wasn't it Bush Sr. who invented "compassionate conservatism"? Is this fact-based compassion or is emotion okay when displayed by Republicans?

If you're judging all Democrats based on the ones who call in or get put on the air during conservative talk shows, I think you might examine what motivation Hannity or Rush would have in screening for hysterical nonsensical Democrats. :) They aren't exactly looking for articulate and intelligent examples of the opposition. I'd guess they're looking for exactly the opposite. I've been accused of being naive in this thread, but I'd say it would be pretty naive to believe that the Democrats that Hannity chooses to show you are truly representative.

Your last sentence confuses me. After eight years of a Republican administration, you say the chips are down and we're in a mess. You demand that Obama fix it or else? That seems strange to me. I want Obama to make intelligent, moral choices. I want him to stick to the Constitution. I want him to be responsible with money and with the lives of our troops.

If the "cynical American people" are standing around with their thumbs in their belt loops waiting for him to fix everything, they're really not putting "country first" -- they're just hoping to be right. For years Democrats have been accused of wanting America to fail in this or that way so that they can score political points. Your comment exhibit exactly that attitude, one I expect we'll be seeing a lot of from Republicans if Obama wins.

Derision, scorn, criticism -- all of those things that have been unpatriotic for 8 years. Imagine! :)

Cast Your Little Blue Vote

Hey there, Pro-American America! Are you ready for the election?

Maybe you don't want to vote for Obama, and maybe you don't like McCain much either, but you can vote for your friendly neighborhood homeschool blog and feel good about casting that ballot!

Hi, I'm Lydia, and I'd love to have your vote! Let's shake on it.

Go here: Alasandra's Homeschool Blog Awards

Look in the left margin.

Vote Little Blue School.

Give yourself a big ole American wink from me!

Recommendations for other categories: my nominees Life Without School and Quilted Story. Go vote! This post has been brought to you by my new web cam, my shameless self-promotion, and the fact that the priest said I looked like Sarah Palin at a wedding last week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month! National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) is an insane dash to create a 50,000 word novel in thirty days and it is a lot of craziness and a lot of fun. Don't think you can write a novel in thirty days? Well I've done it twice. Surely you can pull yourself together to outlast a puny, unmotivated little snerk like me.

Here are ten great things about Nanowrimo:

1. The forums. In the forums you'll find irritating people whining about how they can't write, shocking people blabbing about how they've finished 100K in a week and don't know what to do with themselves, interesting people with plot problems, confused people with research issues, and mostly lots of people in lots of different demographics (knitters, moms, homeschoolers, fan-fic writers, etc) all trying to churn out a novel. Very helpful.

2. It is free to sign up. You can create an account instantly and start customizing your profile right away. During November, you use the site to update your word count.

3. Word wars. To start a word war, you get on whatever social networking site lifts your hem (Facebook, Twitter, the Nanowrimo forums) and you pronounce that at :30 you are going to "go" and that you plan to write for 30 minutes. Other people will pipe up and say "Alright, I'll go at :30 too." (:30 means whatever time zone you're in, you go at 30 minutes after the hour) Then when the given time hits you write like blazes and try to own everyone else who said they'd race you and that's a word war. At the end you post how many words you wrote.

4. Writing buddies. On the Nanowrimo site, you can choose buddies and their status bars will appear on your profile for you to compare -- who is falling behind? who is kicking your bottom? who has yet to write one single word? Send motivational emails. Send triumphant goads. Celebrate every 10K you achieve. It's like having friends but you don't have to get them lemonade. Be my writing buddy on Nanorwrimo! Here is a link to my Young Writer's Program educator profile (my username is littleblueschool), and here is a link to Benny's (his username is bennimus). Here is a link to my regular profile at the adult Nanowrimo (my username is TinyBites).

5. No editing. Nanowrimo is not about quality, it's about quantity. Let me tell you that for every great paragraph you write, you will write three awful paragraphs, but at the end of the month if you've written 100 great paragraphs, then by golly it's more than you would have written had you not done this project.

6. The Young Writer's Project. There is a section of Nanowrimo that's just for writers age 13 and under. It has its own kid-friendly web site which is completely G rated. There is even a homeschooling forum for those of us unsocialized freaks who do not engage in traditional schooling! Young Writers can set their own word count target, so they don't have to do 50K words. Benny is doing 10K.

7. Teaching Aids. If you sign up for an educator account on the YWP site, you get access to all kinds of workbook pages, writing prompts, and really great materials that teach advanced concepts like plot, conflict, character development in a kid-accessible way. I dare you to take a look at everything they've put together and see if you're not mightily impressed.

8. Permission to Reprioritize. This is something you can do FOR YOU. And since it only lasts for one month, it's okay to prioritize it. Let the house go a little. Let the Chinese restaurant make dinner. Don't hyperprogram the weekends. Let the kids watch a movie after dinner.

9. Winning. When you have your 50K words, you submit it to the Nanowrimo official word-counting app, and it counts, and if you're over 50K, you're a winner. There's no way to check if you've written a menu for applesauce a million times or if you've written the next Ulysses. That's on you. I can tell you it is a great and glorious thing to have written 50K words in one month. I've done it twice. Nothing happens when you win, except that you get a banner on your profile and you get to download and print a very elaborately silly winner's certificate and a badge for your web site. But it is fun to win.

10. Nothing to lose. Say you've had a novel bumping around in your head for years, and you go after it in November, and you only make it through 15K before you slack off and quit Nanowrimo. Guess what? You just started that novel you've been prattling on about forever, and you've got a very good chunk of it written. At the very least, you sign up and you never write one word, and you giggle about it, and that's the end. At the very best, you write a novel, and that's something not many people do.

I can tell you that Nanowrimo is the only "school" we're doing in November. I mean we'll still be doing violin and dance and karate and swimming and piano and co-op classes and spelling bee practice and reading books and stuff, but I'm not going to put any schooly stuff on Benny except the writing. And I'm going to really try not to put anything on myself except the writing either.

I won't be blogging daily about Nanowrimo here but I will be putting it on my personal blog. Everything feeds into my Tumblr, including my Twitter, my YouTube, my Flickr, this blog, and my personal blog. The Little Blue School Tumblr is here.
Having seen all those excellent novel entries in the Book Arts Bash, I know there are a million homeschoolers out there in the blogosphere who would love this project! I am peering expectantly at Jake, Patience, Shannon, Vienna, Rhiannon, and any other HSoBX novelists out there. I am also casting my pointy eye at Melina, Amy, Tina, Rosemary, Shell, Alan, and any other moms or dads I know that would find this good fun. Join me in a good novel. Well, join me in a fast novel!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Patchwork Vest and Pants

This is the three inch strip project. Most of it was made with three inch strips.

My friend Kristen asked me months ago if I would make a vest and pants for her son Rhys to wear in a wedding. I said, "Of course!" because I love Kristen and adore Rhys and I especially like making great clothes for little boys. I used to make clothes for children, for my own and others, and also sold them occasionally. I don't sell them anymore but I do make skirts for Sadie and me and I make other things here and there, and have made things for Kristen and her kids before too. So, no big deal.

Except that... when it got down to it, I was very intimidated by the project. I had not made any "special occasion" garments in the past, nor had I sewed something on purpose that I knew was going to be scruitinized to this degree. Kristen sews, and her mom sews, in fact her mom really really sews, and knowing that these expert types would be looking at the seams (albeit in a dear, sweet, kind, approving way) kind of blocked me up. When the box of fabric arrived for me to use, I looked at it fondly and thought, "Somebody should certainly make a vest and pants out of that. I wonder if anyone will?"

On Friday I pulled out my patterns and started thinking, and made a couple of quilt blocks. On Saturday I made those quilt blocks into the outside of a vest. On Sunday I did the lining of the vest, the pants, the pants lining, and put it all together with some decorative stitching on top. Everything has pockets. Everything has a million colors. I hope the poor child survives this experience with his equilibrium. Not everyone could make this outfit work, but Rhys is definitely the child to manage it, if such a child exists.

Front of the vest:

Back of the vest:


Everything on Sadie:

Sadie is at least a whole size too small for it, so that's why it looks like she's swimming in it. I just wanted to see it on an actual child. But I'm sure Kristen will take pictures! ;D

It's in the mail for Thursday. I did not sew up the opening on the elastic casing, in case adjustments need to be made. I made it to a 25 inch waist, but without a fitting I'm nervous about the size. If you need to make it smaller, and you have time, pull out the elastic until you find the seam, fold it smaller, resew it, chop off the excess, stitch up the opening. If you don't have any time, you can just pin it tighter with a safety pin, or tear out the seam and repin it looser with a safety pin, then just leave the opening open and no one will ever know. With the pants -- they're steamed with a double cuff at the hem to be 16 1/2 inch inseam. If you need them longer, refold, resteam, you could even tack it up or even ideally create a little dart with a button. I was nervous to tack it up or put a button there because I couldn't check the length on the actual child. If you have no time, just roll them up and go with it. :) The fabric with two layers is stiff enough to hold the cuff.

Whew! Done!

Edited to add:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Dark Disclosure

I didn't watch the debate last night. Instead I watched the Project Runway season finale.

But thanks to my more politically astute friends I can give you this:

via Gawker

Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Arts Bash: The Finalists!

Shez and I have been working very hard to sort through all the entries, get them read by panelists, and get them sorted into envelopes for mailing. We deeply appreciate all your words of encouragement and support as we tackle this project! It has been an amazing experience for us and we have learned a lot.

The most competitive category, unbelievably, was the novel excerpt. No one could have predicted this! We received dozens and dozens of novels. Stacks and mountains. We certainly had no idea there were so many excellent novelists out there in the homeschool world, typing away at their masterpieces. We are so impressed. The most difficult categories to narrow down to finalists were the novels, the short stories, and the poems, all deep in quality and chock full of entries. At times we had three different people looking at your work, trying to get it down to three finalists in each grade division, each genre. That wasn't always possible, as you'll see in the results! I can honestly tell you that just being a finalist in these categories is a real accomplishment. The competition was fierce.

Other categories were not so well represented. In some cases, all of the entries advanced. Yes, in other cases there were categories where no finalists will be sent on at all. Knowing what we know now, we will definitely be changing the line-up of categories next time.

Next time? Yes, there will be a next time, assuming our husbands allow us to engage in this madness again! We are thinking a paperless contest for novels only. We plan to divide up the categories much more by age and by genre within the novel format, and recruit more agents and editors to judge. As we're planning it now, this will take place in early spring of 2010, with a deadline of January 1, 2010.

Interested in getting started on that new novel? Have you heard of National Novel Writing Month? Visit Nanowrimo to find out more, and watch this space for ways to connect with other Book Arts Bash writers, old and young!

Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you how to find out if your piece was chosen as a finalist. Visit the page on the Book Arts Bash web site for the category you entered for a full list of finalists. Any questions, please email us.

Note: If you find your entry on the finalist list, and you would like a scan or excerpt of your work posted immediately, please copy and paste your excerpt into an email to or send an email with an image attached. All of our packets are ready to go out to the judges now, and if we wait to scan and type in excerpts of all the finalists by hand, it will be quite a while before they go out. If you want to wait until the judging is finished to see an excerpt of your work on the site, do nothing. If you want instant gratification, act now!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Second Presidential Debate: Town Hall Hoedown in Tennessee!

John McCain comes out and immediately starts scratching notes down with a fat Sharpie. What is he writing?
"Remember to do the lollipop dance!"
"Next time go with pink tie, blue tie, or anything but this damn thing that looks like Santa's underwear!"
"Soy Milk! Pepto! Vienna sausages! Ensure!"

Question #1 from Uncle Fester. What are you gonna do about this here economy?

Obama: Exactly what I've been saying I'd do for the last two weeks.
McCain: Will you look at this? It's Senator Obama at a town hall meeting! Finally! Well, isn't that *kind* of him to lower himself in this way? I'm just thrilled that you came down off your high horse and agreed to a town hall meeting at last, Senator Obama. Good for you!

Follow-up from Tom Brokaw: Who's going to replace Paulsen as Treasury Secretary?

McCain: Not you, Tom. 'Cuz you suck. You and your mainstream media. I'll tap Meg Whitman. I mean pick Meg Whitman. She's no beauty queen, ya know.
Obama: Warren Buffet.

Question #2 from Oliver Clark: Who's going to bail out the middle class?

McCain: Look, it's all the fault of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Oliver, I bet you're so dumb that you'd never even heard of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before this crisis. But I had. I hated Fannie and Freddie before it was cool to hate 'em! Which is why I suspend the rest of this debate in order to fix the economy more. There are some of us who stand up to 'em, and there are others who take a hike. I'm not saying who though. But he's sitting right over there. And his name rhymes with Snow-bama.
Obama: I asked for regulations when McCain was stitching up regulations in counted cross-stitch. But you're not interested in politicians pointing fingers. You're interested in what's in this bail-out for you. We have to strengthen the home owners.

Follow-up from Brokaw: Is the economy going to get worse before it gets better?

Obama: No. But we have to fix our regulatory system.
McCain: It depends on what we do. If we fix it, it will get better. But if we don't fix it, it won't get better.

They both seem to think we're going to stand up and cheer for their intent to get special interests out of Washington. We are not really that stupid.

Question #3 from Angry Inarticulate Harpy: How can we trust either one of you with our money when BOTH PARTIES are responsible for this crisis?

Obama: You are right. No one is completely innocent. You budget your household, while Washington spends beyond its means. However, let's remember that Bush turned a tidy surplus into a historically enormous deficit. I'm going to cut spending. McCain will say that I'm spending more, but I'm cutting more than I'm spending for a net cut.
McCain: I'm a reformer. People like me.

Follow-up from Tom Brokaw: Energy, health care, and entitlement reform. What would you prioritize?

McCain: All three at once. And also balance a goldfish bowl on my head and sing Sinatra.
Obama: Energy is first, then health care, then entitlement reform.

Question #4 from an old lady on the internet: What sacrifices will you ask American people to make?

McCain: We may have to eliminate some programs. We have to eliminate some earmarks. Especially ones added in the middle of the night. We can attack health care and energy at the same time! We're not rifle shots here, we're Americans!
Obama: After 9/11, Bush told us to go out and shop. The American people are hungry for the kind of leadership which will tackle problems not only in the government but outside it too. We all have to think about how we use energy. The young people of America are interested in how they can serve.

Follow-up from Tom Brokaw: How would you break the habits in this country of carrying too much debt?

Obama: We have to set an example in Washington. We have to share the burden.
McCain: Nailing down Senator Obama's tax plan is like trying to nail jello to a wall. There have been five or six tax plans and if you wait long enough there will probably be another one.

No kidding: The reaction graph during McCain's turn to speak is consistently flatlining. His jello joke got no love. Now McCain's reaction line is going into the negative as he criticizes Obama.

Question #5 from the internet: What are you going to do about social security and Medicare?

Obama: We are going to have to take on entitlements quickly. Maybe not in the first two years, but definitely in my first term as President. But let me hijack this question to repeat myself: I will cut taxes to everyone who makes under $200K.
McCain: Hey, I'll answer the actual question, unlike Mr. Smartyhead over here with his tax cuts and his fancy pants. I know how to fix social security. I know how to fix Medicare. I'm not too popular with my own party, much less his. People hate me! I'm just not using the term "Maverick" tonight because I don't want those wretched comedy writers to have any fun. Curse them and the way they torment my perky little friend in the glasses!

Question #6 from Ingrid Jackson: What would you do to make sure Congress moves fast on climate change and greenhouse gas?

McCain: I'm not President Bush, alright? I'm Joe Lieberman. The answer is nuclear power! It's safe and clean, and free!

Reaction line: FLATLINE.

Obama: This is not just a challenge, it's an opportunity. If we create a new energy economy, we can create 5 million new jobs. We have to invest in solar, wind, geothermal.

Apparently Al Gore is in the audience. He must be an undecided Tennessee voter.

I'm tired of hearing "He voted 23 times against this!" and "He voted for this 42 times!" It's just boring and we all know those senate votes cannot be taken out of context. "He voted against this bill that feeds kittens!" not mentioning that it also kills everyone's grandma.

Tom Brokaw, dripping with sarcasm: In case you gentlemen haven't noticed, we have colored lights around the stage, green yellow and red. Those lights are actually symbols that represent how much time you have to answer the question.
McCain, sadly earnest, with gestures: Just wave your arms at me, Tom, when you want me to stop, and I'll look at you.

Question #7 from Sally Struthers: Should health care be treated as a commodity?

Obama: Here are a lot of specifics about my health care plan and John McCain's.
McCain: I'm nervous about government mandates.

Follow-up from Tom Brokaw: Health care. Is it a right, a privilege, or a responsibility?

McCain: A responsibility.
Obama: A right. And by the way, there's no mandate.

Obama's reaction line with the undecided women is maxed out all through his answer on health care. On Pundit Points, the score is now 7 to 54 with Obama wiping up the bright red carpet with his opponent. If this is what McCain does when he takes his gloves off, I'd hate to see what will happen if he rolls up his sleeves.

I forgot to listen. Time passed. Then I heard McCain tell me it's going to take a cool hand on the tiller to execute the foreign policy that's needed now. When I think of a cool hand on the tiller, I do not think of John McCain. John McCain is like a whip made out of fire on the tiller.

Dear John McCain,

When you say "I will do it. I know how to do it. I've been doing it my whole life!" it leads me to wonder why it hasn't gotten done. I'm thinking specifically of your assertion that you will get Bin Laden, that you know how to get Bin Laden, but that you're not going to tell us about it. You sounded like a real ass when you said that.


PS You're boring the life out of me.
PPS Stop trying to crack jokes. When the audience isn't allowed to respond, it's just awkward for everyone.

Dear Barack Obama,

You too are boring me, pretty much. All of this sounds very familiar. But at least you sound smart.


PS Sorry I didn't canvass this weekend. I had a wedding to go to. I hope you will still win Virginia.

This whole half of the debate is rolling off me like acid off a duck's back, as Dan would say. I am ashamed to reveal I'm a little relieved that the DVR cut it off at 90 minutes. Without a doubt, Obama won this. He was calm, confident, and reasonable, and he focused on the people, not on McCain. McCain had a lot of failed wisecracks, a lot of repetition, not terribly convincing.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Book Arts Bash: The Sorting Hat is Sorting

Yesterday Shez and I sat down at her dining room table and began to open and sort all the Book Arts Bash materials we've received. I have a few pictures and a few observations:

Biggest surprise: There were no pop-ups. Not one. After we humbly petitioned and then raucously celebrated getting Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart as judges, there were no entries. Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, people! These are paper engineering artists! They have an entire studio dedicated to pop-ups in NYC. They did the official pop-ups for Disney, for the Narnia books! They are the authors of Encyclopedia Mythologica and Encyclopedia Prehistorica, the cutting edge pop-ups that are redefining the genre. Shez collected a marvelous list of resources and how-tos for the pop-up page at the contest site, just in case people needed help finding tutorials. No entries. Not one.

Another surprise: There were fewer than 10 entries in all the K-2 categories, total. That shocked me! I thought the younger kids would be more involved.

The biggest stack on the table *by far* was the 7-9 grade group and the biggest category in that group was the novel excerpt! Amazing! I am so surprised and impressed with these middle school aged authors! The huge outpouring of prose, the staggering pile of pages -- completely glorious and inspiring.

Hey, it is ALL GOOD! Having said all this, we received another huge post office crate full of entries on Friday that we've yet to sort. Maybe that one is full of pop-ups -- who knows?! We've got a ton of entries and more coming in. We're going to be able to afford nice prizes and all the postage. We are very excited. It's awesome opening up these packages and seeing everyone's work. There are some beautiful, beautiful ABC books, some really awesome comics, lots of short stories and poetry, and even some novel cover art (my favorite category!). The panel is going to have a hard time narrowing it down in some of these categories! Very very gifted writers doing excellent work.

I'll keep you updated as we go along. This is fun!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vice Presidential Debate Recap: Sarah Palin vs. Her Old Maid Aunt

Palin: Hiyas! I'm a soccer mom! I'm a mom and a hockey mom! You may find me showing up at a soccer game near you, this Saturday. I'll be asking you if you're more afraid of me or of the economy. We'll put the partisanship and special interests aside, and do some lemonade shots, Maverick-style! I respect all those years that other people have spent in Washington and the US Senate, but I think America is looking for something new and fresh, some new energy and fresh ideas. That's why I'm running with John McCain, who is younger and fresher than you could possibly imagine. Drill, baby, drill!

But you asked me about the bailout bill. Darn right I blame the predator lenders! There was deception and corruption there, there sure was! But we need to make a commitment here, all you Joe Sixpacks and Hockey Moms across the nation, that we are never going to live outside of our means again, and we will take responsibility for our own actions. So, it's their fault, by golly, and we need to take responsibility. Hey, I'm just a reg'lar girl from down the street, ya know? I don't like those east coast politicians keepin' the energy producing states from producin' it! I take issue with this redistribution of wealth theory that you people espouse. We've got to stop helping out those greedy Wall Street types and help people that still sit at kitchen tables. But not by redistributing wealth -- no! You believe that paying taxes is patriotic. I'm part of the middle class, and I believe that government is part of the problem! I'm on my way to Washington, darnit, to become part of the government! I mean part of the solution! As mayor of Alaska, up there, I took away the tax breaks to those greedy oil companies. And now the greed of greed has got to be stopped with Mavericks! We have got to clean up this planet! How are we gonna get there to positively impact the effects of this! Newk-yoo-ler! I have a lot of gay friends but I define marriage as between one man and one woman and I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can. Plus, I'm a mom. Now listen. I may not answer the questions the way that you or the moderator want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people. Now I want to tell you about when I was mayor--

Ifill: I'm sorry, Governor, but we're out of time on that question.

Joe Biden: Yaarrrrrrrr! These are the facts. Blabbity blabbity.

Predicted montages:
1. Joe Biden repeatedly calling John McCain a good man and even saying, "I love him."
2. Sarah Palin saying "Darn right!"
3. Sarah Palin talking about greedy people and how greedy they are.
4. Sarah Palin claiming to be middle class.
5. Sarah Palin mispronouncing the word "nuclear" so many times that it's almost Limbaughian.

I actually think the Governor did pretty well. Given that the expectations were so low she would have "succeeded" by managing not to get out there and drool on her collar, I think she succeeded. She was smug, derisive, she read scripted answers to questions that weren't asked, and she winked at the camera more than once. In short, she was like Bush in drag. My least favorite moment from her was when she told us she was chosen for VP because she's a mom. That was particularly low. I wouldn't be surprised if McCain gets a bump from her grinning and nose-crinkling and goshdurn spunk. Biden did fine. He came off as firm, on message, and fatherly. He had some good lines but mostly he just sounded solid, rational, and informed. She came off as real super fiery and totally like energized for the big game. It was a good performance. Good for Biden too, because if she had fallen right on her face it would have been hard for him to come out looking like the good guy. As it was, no one will remember much that he said, but hopefully they'll remember her grinning and rolling her eyes after he talked about his dead child and wife, deriding him and his "ticket" for looking back at the past instead of ahead to the future. Classy lady, that Palin. Warm as ice.

Edited to add: Another awful moment I was reminded of by a commenter on my DKos diary: When Palin acknowledged that Biden's current wife is a school teacher and said, "Her reward will be in heaven." So, his first wife died and his second one will get her reward in heaven, as promised by Sarah Palin. Wow. I bet he feels a lot better now.