Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Le'go my Lego"

This is the title of a post on The Locker Room this evening and I had to borrow it for my cross posting here.

I would venture that with six boys in our family, the Youngs have the highest number of Legos per square foot of any household in Johnston County. We've had to address the same issues as the center in the story, but we took a different tack -- our one guiding rule is, No Monuments. After a reasonable period of time for display and admiration, the Legos have to recycle to the bins. Otherwise, John's 3000-piece model of the Alamo would conflict with Caleb's planned simulation of U.S.S. Kitty Hawk at 2500 pieces. And so forth.

The rule's worked remarkably well, too.

Here are the posts from LR:

Banning Legos
Posted by
Joseph Coletti at 12:42 PM

Hilltop Children's Center, a private daycare and after-school facility in Seattle, banned Legos for several months because the young builders wanted ownership of their creations. The teachers tell their story in Rethinking Schools magazine.

Legos are the colorful building blocks from childhood days or maybe last week.

Hilltop Children's Center is a private facility that charges monthly tuition of $235 or more for a child to attend after-school care. The privately paid teachers wanted the children to stop thinking, as one child reportedly did: "If I buy it, I own it."

One article states

Playing with Legos is now governed by three rules: All structures are owned by everyone; structures should adhere to size requirements so as to not create inequity; and the plastic Lego people can only be used by a group of people, not by individuals.
The teachers next plan to explain the dangers of pay to the Center's administrators with the goal of eliminating tuition and teacher salaries. OK, that would only happen if they really believed what they taught.

Le'go my Lego
Posted by
Jeff A. Taylor at 6:52 PM

Joe, that Marxist preschool Lego indoctrination stuff is both shocking and sadly predictable.

Our educational establishment has confused managing conflict with eliminating it, even if it means teaching children demonstrably false things. Law of scarcity? Poof! Gone.

Moreover, this further convinces me that Legos are one of the greatest toys on earth. Both endlessly creative and brutally concrete. If the part will not fit, the part will not fit -- no matter your emotional fit. Yet give a pile of Legos to a bright kid -- and stand back.

No wonder they cause such trouble.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"The Goal Is Freedom"

Sheldon Richman of the Foundation for Economic Education and their journal, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, had an excellent editorial on why trade deficits are meaningless concerns.

Few people would want to live just on what they themselves could make. Frederic Bastiat pointed out that each of us daily uses products we couldn't make in isolation in a thousand years. ... This is just another way of saying that the case for free trade is conceded the moment someone eschews self-sufficiency. After that, we're just haggling over the size of the trade area.

Here's the relevant example for our own business:

[When] we say something is "Made in China" ... [perhaps it is] not what we think we are saying.

[Australian economist Shudha Shenoy] emphasizes that Chinese workers do the final assembly of many products, but final assembly is but the tip of the iceberg of production. When you look at the full manufacturing process, you find a system of worldwide cooperation. Most of the materials and machines the Chinese use in assembly were made somewhere else: sewing machines in Japan, Korea, and the United States; dyes in Germany; button-making machinery in the United States, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; zippers in Japan; spinning and weaving machinery in the United Kingdom; raw cotton in Uzbekistan, Egypt; and the United States (subsidized by the government); cotton gins in the United States; and steel in Japan and Korea.

Once assembled, the goods have to be moved to the docks for transport to the United States. The trucks that do the moving are made in Japan. The ships and containers are made in Korea, Japan, America, and Britain. The shipping services are Greek and Norwegian.

"When you read a label which says 'made in China,' it is not made in China," Shenoy says. "It is made by the world economy, by the globe as a whole. ...It is impossible to make anything in one country. And that is why, as Mises pointed out, the market economy does not respect political frontiers. Its field is the world."

Richard Burr on lobbying reform

Our Senator, Richard Burr (R-NC), replied to our letters of concern over the lobbying reform act recently passed in the Senate. I thought these two paragraphs were worth highlighting:

As Congress reforms current lobbying laws, you should know I will not support any legislation that would restrict the ability of North Carolinians, like you, to share opinions on issues with my staff or with me. For this reason, I voted to remove section 220 of the lobby reform bill, which I fear would have restricted the ability of small organizations from speaking on important issues. Under this section, constituent groups, who in most cases work in North Carolina, would have to file regular reports and abide by the same laws as lobbyists who work in Washington, DC. This change could hamper constituents who are simply organizing on a local level to contact their Senator or Member of Congress with their concerns.

I believe all citizens have the constitutional right to petition our government. I am hopeful that as Congress works to finish a lobbying reform bill we will strike the right balance between ensuring lobbying laws are followed and allowing citizens to give me their opinions. Almost every North Carolinian is represented in some way by a lobbyist in Washington, DC – including, teachers, farmers, bankers, doctors, engineers, those citizens who are ill, accountants, those citizens who need food stamps and government assistance, students, union members, small business owners, and seniors. I will work to ensure that any new lobbying reform law will not unfairly hinder the fundamental principles of freedom of speech or the right to petition the government, but instead strengthen the credibility and integrity of our democracy.

Richard Burr, Letter dated February 7, 2007

Not about courtship

Last week I heard a presentation called "The Perfect Date", by a couple which agreed to marry one another sight unseen, relying on the judgement of the groom's parents and the couple's commitment to following the will of God as they saw it.

I am a firm believer in strong parental involvement and guidance in support of their children's selection of a wife or husband. However, while I admit that God has historically blessed some such marriages -- and I have no reason to think otherwise of this young couple -- I heard some very serious issues beyond their obvious challenge to 21st century culture. I have more to say about this later but at this point, suffice it that I don't think they've found the perfect pattern at all, neither Biblically nor culturally.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Mama doesn't do tele-Latin"

This is one of the fundamental guidelines in our home school. If you have a question about your Latin homework, you have to go to Mama, not read it to her across the room.

I have the same rule about algebra; calculus and differential equations be hanged, I'm visual, I've got to see the equation to explain it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Enamour'd, artless, young, on foreign ground,
Uncertain whither from myself to fly,
To thee, dear Lady, with an humble sigh
Let me devote my heart, which I have found

By certain proofs not few, intrepid, sound,
Good, and addicted to conceptions high:
When tempests shake the world, and fire the sky,
It rests in adamant self-wrapt around,

As safe from envy, and from outrage rude,
From hopes and fears, that vulgar minds abuse,
As fond of genius, and fixt fortitude,
Of the resounding lyre, and every Muse.
Weak you will find it in one only part,
Now pierc'd by Love's immedicable dart.

John Milton, Poems (1645), Sonnet 6
Translated from the Italian by William Cowper (1731-1800)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Review - Facing the Giants

The DVD has just come out; my sons and I went to see it in October, and my review of the theater release appeared in the December 2006 Carolina Journal. It was a legitimately enjoyable film, with both good art and good message, and it did not sink to the "Christianity wins football games" meme that some of us may have feared. I'm looking forward to having our own copy sometime soon.

Movie Review
Facing The Giants’ Surprising To Viewers and Reviewers Alike

• “Facing the Giants”; starring Alex Kendrick and Shannen Fields; Sherwood Productions; rated PG

By HAL YOUNG - Contributing Editor

RALEIGH - Grant Taylor is a coach with issues. His football team at Shiloh Christian Academy has a six-year losing streak, his one star player just transferred to a rival school, and angry parents are recruiting his assistant to take his position. He makes $24,000 a year, his car has a terminal illness, major appliances are failing at home, and he and wife Brooke are unable to have a baby. And things are about to take a turn for the worse.

In “Facing the Giants”, Grant (Alex Kendrick) is a decent man sinking in defeat on nearly every front when he realizes that his grief might not be due to his opponents or his inability, but his sense of purpose. Struggling through his personal problems, he challenges his team with a different philosophy that centers not on winning, but on striving, not on ambition, but devotion.

It will still be grueling on the field and off, as the team, the coach, and his wife find out, but the focus becomes the journey, not the destination.

Producers Alex and Steven Kendrick are associate pastors at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., and oversee the church’s media programs. The two brothers are also part of a growing movement of independent filmmakers who are bypassing Hollywood to take a practical and muscular Christian message to the wide screen. This is their second feature film, and “Facing the Giants” has become one of the surprising movies of the season.

The film made headlines in June when the Motion Picture Association of America gave it a PG rating because of its religious content, probably the first instance of this kind. Even more remarkable are the circumstances of the film’s creation; in a sense, it was a Sunday school project, as evidenced by four classes that shared the closing credits.

Bypassing Hollywood’s culture also means giving up its resources; there are no Mel Gibsons here, and the Kendricks wrote, directed, produced, acted, and edited the film for free. Alex even wrote part of the musical score. More than 500 volunteers, including all of the actors and all but five of the production staff, made it happen for just $100,000.

Does it work? Definitely. Six weeks after its release Sept. 29, the film had grossed more than $8.2 million, still ranking in the top 20 films in mid-November.

Kendrick and Fields handle their roles capably as a jock with a breaking heart and a young wife yearning for children but determined to be there for her husband. Still , “Facing the Giants” has received mixed reviews, even within the Christian community. To be sure, a couple of the actors were less than Oscar-caliber. Grant’s doctor, in his brief appearance, is as wooden as a fence post. The wheelchair-bound father of the team’s place kicker is unpolished, though likable.

Reviewers unfamiliar with Southern culture might not recognize the man who walks the school halls after hours, praying quietly for the students, as a real person in the Deep South. And while Grant’s life, and the team’s, does turn around when the coach’s spiritual priorities change, there are still uncertainty, hard work, and confrontation to address along the way.

The resolution is by no means certain until the final moments of the film. What is definite is Coach Taylor’s change in focus, and a philosophy that encompasses much more than football. “We’re not just here to get glory, earn money, and die,” he tells the team. “Football is just one of the tools we use to honor God ... If we win, we praise Him. If we lose, we praise Him. I’ve resolved to give it all to God and leave the results to Him.”

But it’s also means giving your best effort, and it’s still about football. Arkansas’ Coach Houston Nutt would agree; the night before his unranked Razorbacks faced the undefeated No. 2 Auburn Tigers in October, Nutt picked the team’s road trip movie himself — “Facing the Giants”. Twenty-four hours later, the Tigers weren’t undefeated any more.

(Carolina Journal, December 2006, p. 22)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Another Seventh

Here's another reference: Edward Boykin's The Falling Flag. Lt. Col. Boykin was with the Seventh S.C. Cavalry Regiment, which is the unit another great-great-great grandfather served in. John Wesley Young was present at the surrender at Appomattox, according to this website; I am looking for better documentation, but according to this list (taken from Brooks' The Appomattox Roster, not available on Google Books) Company I surrendered 41 men and five officers. Another website with dates and names, including references from other books, is here.

Edward M. Boykin, The Falling Flag: Evacuation of Richmond, Retreat and Surrender at Appomattox, 3rd ed. (New York: E. J. Hale & Sons, 1874)