I’m obviously missing something here. Exactly how is it you limit a 3-year olds activity to 20 minutes a day? I admit it’s been awhile since I had a 3-year old in the house, but I seem to recall that short of medical sedation and a healthy application of duct tape I couldn’t have kept my kids this still. Hell, I got more activity than this just chasing them about. Who are these lethargic Lilliputians?


I’m probably going to tread on a little sensitive ground here, but if you’ve been reading for awhile then you should be used to it by now. I’ve been mulling the age old question of the value of a human life. Let’s start with something personal. It goes without saying that I would sacrifice my life to save my children. Most parents would. Should one of my children be killed, I would likely risk life or limb in the short term to avenge him. I would certainly want to see the killer get his due, and I wouldn’t mind giving it to him myself. But what if the killer was a mystery that, after a fashion, couldn’t be solved by the police. Would I be judged rational if I bankrupted myself and destroyed my life and the lives of my remaining family in an effort to hunt this guy down? Would I be judged rational if I fenced in my house and forbade my remaining son from ever being in any sort of uncontrolled situation? Probably not.

So why does this scenario seem rational on a national scale? Yes, it was a tragedy that thousands died on 9/11. A measured response was justified. But the current war on terror has cost us over $100 billion and is projected to cost at least that much again. More people have been killed (not limited to Americans) in the war on terror than on 9/11. The Patriot Act has eroded our personal freedoms. While it’s true we haven’t been attacked domestically since 9/11, it’s not at all clear if that’s cause-and-effect or serendipity. When is enough enough?

Over 500,000 people die of cancer every year in this country. If 2000 lives are worth $100 billion a year, are 500,000 worth $25 trillion? Probably not. But can you imagine how many lives could be saved if even $10 billion were pumped into cancer research and treatment? Or let’s invest in education, economic development, or countless other productive ventures.

Who is more successful, the bully who everyone was afraid of in high school or the nerdy kid whose lunch money he stole? When you were 16 and looking on, the bully sure looked like the cock of the roost. But what about now? The bully is flipping burgers and the nerd is pulling down 6 figures. Whose life looks better on a whole? “Carpe diem” may have a sensual satisfaction, but those who grok the “Gestalt” and can see past their primitive emotions are the mark to beat.

The terrorists sought to cripple our way of life through an act of terror. They did. They were the catalyst which has triggered an ongoing succession of destructive actions on our part which have hurt us economically, disrupted the lives of more families, and eroded our future more than the loss of a few buildings and a few thousand cherished individuals ever could have.

I am in no way trying to downplay the loss of life and the feelings of vulnerability brought on by 9/11. But in the same way that the Twin Towers are being replaced by a monument to our determination to succeed and rebuild and be reborn from the ashes of despair, shouldn’t we be doing the same as a nation? Let’s build, not destroy. Why conquer a nation when you can own it?

We seem to be forgetting that we won the cold war not by way of military might, but by economic strength. We bankrupted the Soviets. For their part, they spent so much on overextending their military might that they saw their currency devalue until they were so far in debt their economy crumbled. Their people, deprived of many personal freedoms (for the sake of protecting the state), were unmotivated, unemployed, and unsupportive of a government they thought was operating in the best interest of the oligarchical elite rather than in their best interest.

There, but for the grace of God, go we…


In the latest example of PC run amok, I submit the State of Tennessee. Apparently there will be no more honor rolls or posting of meritorious school work in Tennessee because it may embarrass those who didn’t make the grade. There are so many things wrong with this policy, it’s hard to know where to start.

One particular sophistry is the notion that kids pick on students who don’t make the honor roll. Maybe Tennessee is a whole different world, but when I was in school, it was hardly the honor roll kids who were picking on the kids who didn’t make it. Hell, there were enough reasons to beat us up on the bus as it was. The last thing we ever did was rub our grades in the face of anyone. More often than not, we hid our grades and tried to appear “normal” and hoped no one picked on us!!.

But the truly misguided logic here is the underlying social policy. Is it really government’s intention to ban anything which could show one child’s success over another? In any discipline? Will we stop publishing sports statistics for the football team? Will we stop keeping school records for track and field? Will we ban musical solos and debates? Will it no longer be acceptable to be called to the board to solve a math problem? This is lunacy!!

What if we carried this into our adult lives… nobody should drive a better car than me or have a bigger house. Nobody should get a patent award or an advanced degree. All these things might make me feel bad or inadequate.

Hey, welcome to life. Adolescence is hard. Kids can be merciless. It’s a shame that everyone can’t succeed at everything, but that’s a cold hard reality that people need to learn. Leverage your talents and accept your limitations. That is not to say that everyone can’t or shouldn’t dream, but they should dream somewhat realistically. And no matter who you are or what you do, somewhere, sometime, someone has, is, or will do it better. Get over it.

I watched the opening night of American Idol last week. I had heard about the bad performances, and had heard about the evil Simon. But honestly, after watching it, I think Simon is right. Some of these people do need a cold hard look at reality. Most of them will never be pop stars. However, some of those wash outs might make wonderful doctors, engineers, teachers, etc. They just need to find/recognize their strengths and move past their shortcomings. Reality hurts sometimes, but pain is a part of life too. Kids need to learn that as much as some adults. The ability to cope with one’s failures says more about a person than their ability to leverage their successes. We should not take that lesson away from our children by removing all sense of competition from their lives.


I’m unsure how to feel about dear ‘ol Dr. Dean. Many are claiming he made a damaging, if not fatal, mistake the other night when he kind of lost it after the Iowa Caucus. Ironically, he’s now trying desperately to appear more “human” by wearing sweaters, appearing on Letterman, and trotting his reluctant wife out to the press. Has it occurred to any of the political wonks advising him (or maybe even to Dean himself) that his humanity would be cemented by simply admitting he kind of lost it the other night and moving on.

For some reason no one wants to appear fallible as a presidential candidate. Sure, they can lie, cheat on their wives, etc. once they are in office. But they must appear somehow warm, approachable, and perfect during the campaign. And they wonder why people don’t trust candidates? It’s obviously a facade.

I actually respected the fact that Dean hadn’t insisted his wife be at his side playing the part. She had her own life. This wasn’t her thing. As long as it worked for them, I was fine with that. I actually liked the non-conformity (go figure). Now I’m thinking he’s caving to all the pressure to be the perfect candidate. And I pity his wife. He’s lost more credibility with me while trying to recover from his faux pax, then his misstep alone ever could have eroded.

I wonder if a candidate will ever have the nerve to just be him/herself during the campaign. I have a suspicion they might do better they the political strategists seem to believe.