Slippery Slopes

Previously we wrote a post titled The Disappearance of the Disabled. We linked to the post Eradicating the Disabled, by Wilfred McClay. It was a brilliant piece of writing. Wilfred noted that “the “right” to abort has become, increasingly, regarded as a social and moral duty.”
I’ve been thinking about those articles quite a bit. I am old enough to remember when Roe V. Wade declared open season on the preborn. I am old enough to remember the arguments that swirled around it. I remember when the pro-life forces argued that abortion would be used as birth control and that it would lead to the infanticide of disabled infants and the devaluing of life, especially for the disabled, in the public forum. The pro-aborts scoffed and sneered about ‘slipper slope’ fallacies and insisted it would never happen. The Pro-Life forces were right-but they were so right that now the pro-abortion crowd is responding with ‘so what?’ instead of ‘can’t happen.’

The article that prompted Wilfred McClay’s piece is another indication of how far we’ve fallen, but it might also be a glimmer of light. This article by the mother of a child with Down Syndrome who wonders why everybody is in such hot haste to see that children like hers never see the light of day (or life) was able to have her essay published in the Washington Post, hardly a bastion of Pro-Lifers.

That’s progress.
Consider this 1998 account by a woman with a disability:

I have had a disability from
birth, it is not genetic. When I was pregnant with my daughter, by gynecologist
did her best to get me to abort. She was so ignorant about disability that she
asked me “What if your baby has a defect like you?” My answer to to her was “So
what if she is?”

I have been in groups with other disabled women who share remarkably similar
experiences with doctors and other health care professionals.

Does anybody else remember Bree Walker Lampley? In the 1990s she was an anchorwoman for a CBS affiliate in LA. Bree is an absolutely stunningly beautiful woman. She also has a genetic disability called ectrodactyly. In the unenlightened past it was known as ‘lobster-claw syndrome.’ The bones of the digits in the hands and/or feet are fused together, sometimes looking like pincers, or lobster-claws. Politically I’m reasonably sure that Ms Walker and I do not see eye to eye on much of anything. Morally, she’s been married three times, and she and the father of her second child were married to other people when they decided they really wanted to be married to each other. So morally, we’re not too sympatico. From other things she’s written, I’m guessing she’s not even pro-life. But she has witnessed firsthand how some very outspoken ‘pro-choice’ voices have used the ‘pro-choice’ mantra to give a semi-respectable sheen to their bigoted anti-disability views.

In 1988 she was working in New York. She says, “While I was anchoring news broadcasts at WCBS-TV in New York, I got pregnant with my first child, Andrea Walker, and soon found myself at the center of a firestorm of controversy when one of my co-anchors blithely asked on the air whether my parents would have chosen to abort me if they could have known I be born with my disability. This touched off a public discussion of whether women with hereditary disabilities should choose not to have children.”

The irony of a ‘pro-choice’ discussion about whether or not disabled women have a moral right to ‘choose’ to have children is just killing me. It’s killing somebody, anyway.

In 1991 she had moved to L.A., still anchoring for a CBS affiliate and was expecting her second child. A local ‘shock-jock’ type radio personality, Jane Norris, opened up her program for people to call in and voice their opinions about whether or not Bree should be allowed to have children. Callers who told her it was none of her business were told it was everybody’s business. Callers who tried to educate her about the disability (she got several things wrong in her description of ectrodactyly, including the name of the disability) were not permitted on the air.
Bree and her husband filed a complaint with the FCC and others joined them. Bree has said that she did not see it as a free speech issue, but ‘about having balance and fairness in important discussions about people with disabilities.’ The FCC decided not to hear their complaints, and Jane Norris and her radio station insisted they had no regrets about the program. Ms. Walker said that ultimately, what was most important to her was the opportunity to have many voices in the disabled community speak out against injustice and to gain an opportunity to get the word out that disabled people can and do live fulfilling and normal lives. She believes she was ultimately successful in that effort, but it came with a cost. She says, “it definitely did not earn me any brownie points with CBS management. Shortly after that time, I was told by CBS management that this was a troublesome issue and that my choosing to speak out instead of just letting it go away presented a thorny issue for them. They said I was all of a sudden a “Controversial Issue” as opposed to a news reader. … Of course, the same as they were unhappy with me for speaking out, I was unhappy with them for not being proud of me for standing up for this issue.” She left CBS and is pursuing other venues, now, including acting (she is the Scorpion Queen is HBO’s Carnivale).

You can read more about this story here and here. This second link is a PDF file of some length. The section about Bree Walker and Jane Norris is somewhere in the middle- use the search function to find it.

In 1992 I miscarried a baby at 16 weeks. A month later I still had not ‘finished’ miscarrying, and I was definitely not pregnant anymore (sometimes a woman will miscarry a twin, but the other twin will survive- if too hasty phsyicians do not talk her into a D&C;), so I had to go into the hospital to have a D & C. We were already in the process of adopting the Cherub at that point. We had met her. I had her picture on our refrigator. We knew she was mentally retarded, and probably not ‘educably’ so.
And there in the sterile operating room on the cold steel table as I went through a grim and ghastly procedure I began to cry. My anesthesiologist asked me what I was crying about. Unable to believe her sheer heartlessness and barely able to speak and hissed out through gritted teeth that I wanted my baby.
Briskly and coldly she dismissed my concerns and said, “No, you don’t want that. This baby was probably handicapped anyway, and you wouldn’t want to bring a handicapped child into the world, would you? Nobody would want that.”
I wanted to scream, “I would, I would!” I wanted to tell her about our Cherub proudly, coldly, fiercely, and in scathing tones. I wanted to push her away. I wanted to push everybody away and get up and walk out of the room.
All I could do was shut my eyes while the tears silently escaped from my closed eyelids and the lump in my throat grew so large it was difficult to breathe.

Are we as a society going to get off this slippery slope and regain the moral high ground by valuing each person simply because he is a person, no matter how long or how short it has been since he was conceived and no matter how whole he is in mind or body? Or we are going to slide faster and farther down into the mire?

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Choosing Appliances

Some of our readers are fortunate enough to live in places where a huge warehouse store of any size is within ten or fifteen minutes. We don’t live somewhere like that.
We can go to two home improvement chains and a discount appliance store some 45 minutes south of us. One of them has a website that is most remarkable for its utter uselessness. Two websites are more useful, but not as comprehensive as I would like. Having been in the stores, I have seen that more options are available than those on the webiste.
We can go to another home improvement store 45 minutes north of us. It has the best website of all of them. And we can go to another store, best known in this area for its terrific deals on kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, about 45 minutes northeast of us. Their website is two years old, but their bargains and extensive variety of choices make them an absolutely must see place for anybody around here who is building or remodeling.
Are you getting the picture here? Basically, if you make a dot in the middle of nowhere and then place other dots at points equidistant in a circle around us, and each of those dots is a minimum of 40 country miles from our dot and at least 40 country miles from every other dot in the circle- that’s about our situation.

Here’s how I streamlined the process (I’m sure I could have done better, and maybe some of you can share some tips in the comments).
I used the internet extensively. Not only did I try to make use of the websites for the above companies, I also spent a lot of time on home improvement websites, reading what they had to say about appliances and their various features.
HGTV
This Old House
HomeTime
Future Shop

Take notes of what features you like and don’t like in an appliance. Think about the appliances in the kitchens of your friends and family. Get a good idea of what you must have and what you can’t stand.

For five dollars you can get a one month subscription to Consumer Reports, with access to their articles and reports online. I think it’s well worth the price.

Now start looking at websites for stores like Sears. Their website was particularly user friendly. I was able to select for color, style, size, price and more and then look at a page of appliances that fit my criteria. This was lovely.Most companies have websites, too, so you could try looking at Amana.com, for example, to see what appliances Amana carries.

By now you have a very good idea of what you’re looking for in an appliance and who might make the one you want, and you haven’t even left home. Now you’re ready to buy. More on that in part two.
Part Three is financing

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Buying Appliances, Part Three

Part One, how to decide what kind of appliance you want, is here. Part two is about going into the store to pick out your appliance once you’ve done your homework.

Assuming you are buying from a store, you may be offered various deals when it comes time to sign on the dotted line. If you are offered any ‘X months same as cash’ deal, we suggest you take it- if you have good self control. The store is betting that you won’t. Make sure they lose that bet.
You can put the money you were going to use to buy the appliance in a savings account just for those appliances. Do not touch it except for those appliances.

Depending on the length of the loan, you can even get a short term CD and make more interest- pay off the loan just before they will start charging you interest.
Even if you can’t put the total in savings or a CD, you can divide up the total by the number of months in the ‘same as cash’ deal, and make a payment of at least that amount each month.

Extended Warranties: We have always thought that paying extra for an extended warranty is a bad idea, but after our washing machine experience we are revising that idea a bit. If you have a family of normal size and your appliances will be getting normal usage, I still think it’s not necessary. It seems to me that all warranty expiration dates are nicely calculated to end about 24 hours before the appliance can be expected to break down. If your family uses an appliance like the average family does, then an extended warranty won’t do much for you.

If you have a largish family and your appliances receive industrial strength usage (we do a minimum of 2 or 3 loads of laundry a day, with a bigger push at the end of the week), and the appliance has several moving parts that can break, then you might want to go for the extended warranty under some circumstances. Here’s what we’re thinking:

The refrigerator- No. It does not have all the moving parts of a washing machine. Keeping it full actually helps it run at greater efficiency.

The dishwasher: Yes. We will do about three loads a day in a dishwasher- more when we have company. Many moving parts, many opportunities for seals to leak- we’ll be putting about three years worth of use into one year.

Ovens and Cooktop: undecided as to wisdom of extended warranty, but we bought it anyway. We use these more than most, especially since most of us are here for three meals a day and we cook from scratch. But how many moving parts do these appliances have, really?

Washing Machine- next time we buy one, yes, oh, yes.

Freezer- No. See refrigerator.

So- what did we buy?

Fridge: Sears Kenmore Elite- according to Consumer Reports, Kenmore refrigerators were one of the brands with a lower repair rate, and this one had the freezer on the bottom, external drink dispenser, and bisque color that I wanted.

Dishwasher: Bosch, because the HM loves this brand and we got a sweet deal on it. Bonus- it was bisque!

Cooktop: General Electric, 30 inches- had the sealed burners, gas on glass, and continuous grills that we wanted, low profile ( a minimal height above the counter, almost flush) has the lower repair rate according to CR, was bisque, and we got the floor model for a substantial discount. Gas cooktop was important to me because we live in the country and we do have power outages. With a match I can still cook when the power is off. We did not get one with an extra burner because I would rather have the counter space than the extra burner- and I can always use a crockpot, electric skillet, or the sandwich cooker if I need more cooking power.

Double Ovens: Whirlpool, low repair rates, electric, self cleaning top oven. I want to get an extra oven rack for it. Came in biscuit.

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Appliances, Part Two

Part One, how to decide what kind of appliance you want, is here. Part two is about buying the applicances you want.

Sometimes you will be able to buy the appliance you want online. In this case, that’s what we did with our refrigerator. Turns out that the refrigerator I decided on was only available from Sears, and it was on sale (I love the Sears website, did I mention that? Funny thing, too, because Sears is not one of my favorite stores- but their website is great)!

1. Check out the classifieds in your paper to see if they have what you are looking for. You can find some great bargains there, and used does not mean inferior. In 23 years of marriage the HM and I bought one new washing machine. It is the pricey model we currently own and it is the worst one we’ve ever had. We’ve had the repair people out twice in the two years since we bought it, and we are going to need them to come out about every two years for the rest of the life of this machine, as near as I can tell. It is simply too finicky a model for a family of nine. All our used washing machines over the last two decades were far superior to this one and cost about one tenth of the price.

2. If you must have new (and we did all new stuff for this kitchen project, which wasn’t frugal, but did make one of us very happy). Make a list of the stores that might carry what you want and call and talk to them. This method has limited usefulness as your success is entirely dependent upon competent staff with decent phone manners. Also, most large appliance salespeople work on commission. They need to use their time effectively, and they can’t be as sure of a sale with a phone-in as they can with a walk-in. You can screen out some stores, though, just by asking if they carry the brand you want.

3. Map out your stores, starting with the one you think most likely to have the best deals. Put on comfortable shoes, pack snacks and drinking water, and start driving.

4. While you are in the store be sure to ask about their scratch and dent sales. Be willing to compromise on what you want if the price is right. Our dishwasher doesnot have an extra rack, which I would like, but it is a Bosch, which is what the HM wanted, and it was a very good deal because it had been returned and didn’t have the box. Still has the same warranty as it would with the box, so what’s not to love?

5. Also ask about floor models- in our case, we are buying the demonstration cooktop from an appliance store that already has the best buys, and we’re getting it for a hundred dollars less.

6. Ask about credit card deals. Many stores will give you a ten percent discount just for filling out an approved credit application. If you have the self-control not to rack up credit card debt that you can’t pay off, this is an excellent deal. They, of course, are betting that you don’t have that self-control. Make sure they lose that little bet.

X months, same as cash? Take them up on that. If you are prepared to pay cash for your appliances (and you should be) put that cash in a savings account and take the 6/12/24 months same as cash deal. This is basically an interest free loan. You can repay it a couple different ways.
You can put that money in savings and earn some interest each month, and when the last month to pay the bill before they start charging interest comes around, make one large payment and pay it off, shutting down your savings account. Depending on the length of time for the ‘same as cash’ loan, you might even buy a short term C.D.
You can put the money in your checking or savings account and make the payment each month. Gage your payment so that you make the last payment the same month that the ‘same as cash’ deal ends.

Extended Warranties? Part three, coming soon.=)

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Choosing Appliances

Some of our readers are fortunate enough to live in places where a huge warehouse store of any size is within ten or fifteen minutes. We don’t live somewhere like that.
We can go to two home improvement chains and a discount appliance store some 45 minutes south of us. One of them has a website that is most remarkable for its utter uselessness. Two websites are more useful, but not as comprehensive as I would like. Having been in the stores, I have seen that more options are available than those on the webiste.
We can go to another home improvement store 45 minutes north of us. It has the best website of all of them. And we can go to another store, best known in this area for its terrific deals on kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, about 45 minutes northeast of us. Their website is two years old, but their bargains and extensive variety of choices make them an absolutely must see place for anybody around here who is building or remodeling.
Are you getting the picture here? Basically, if you make a dot in the middle of nowhere and then place other dots at points equidistant in a circle around us, and each of those dots is a minimum of 40 country miles from our dot and at least 40 country miles from every other dot in the circle- that’s about our situation.

Here’s how I streamlined the process (I’m sure I could have done better, and maybe some of you can share some tips in the comments).
I used the internet extensively. Not only did I try to make use of the websites for the above companies, I also spent a lot of time on home improvement websites, reading what they had to say about appliances and their various features.
HGTV
This Old House
HomeTime
Future Shop

Take notes of what features you like and don’t like in an appliance. Think about the appliances in the kitchens of your friends and family. Get a good idea of what you must have and what you can’t stand.

For five dollars you can get a one month subscription to Consumer Reports, with access to their articles and reports online. I think it’s well worth the price.

Now start looking at websites for stores like Sears. Their website was particularly user friendly. I was able to select for color, style, size, price and more and then look at a page of appliances that fit my criteria. This was lovely.Most companies have websites, too, so you could try looking at Amana.com, for example, to see what appliances Amana carries.

By now you have a very good idea of what you’re looking for in an appliance and who might make the one you want, and you haven’t even left home. Now you’re ready to buy. More on that in part two.
Part Three is financing

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The influence of Robin Hood

Today we went to Granny Tea’s house for supper. The First Year Children went trooping outside to the woods for a bit of well needed exercise. After about twenty minutes romping about they came in with large sticks and excitedly told us they had been quarterstaff fighting.

Heh. That is so superior to light saber fights.

– Note -
The previous was not posted by the THM.
Light Sabers, Nah
Quarterstaffs, Nah
Smith & Wesson ;*))

Sincerely,
The Headmaster

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Child’s Calendar Beautiful, Between Whiles

Get work, get work; be sure it is better than what we work to get.
~Mrs. Browning

A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for?
~Robert Browning

One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a man.
~Goethe

For he that will say and nothing do
Is not worthy with good company to go.
~ From Everyman

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Child’s Calendar Beautiful, Eighth Year, October

The Last Leaf
by Oliver Wendell Holmes

I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o’er the ground
With his cane.

They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
“They are gone!”

The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said–
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago–
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow;

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

There is some excellent background information, including notes by the author himself, here.
I especially enjoyed this comment by the author:
“I have lasted long enough to serve as an illustration of my own poem. I am one of the very last of the leaves which still cling to the bough of life that budded in the spring of the nineteenth century. The days of my years are threescore and twenty, and I am almost half way up the steep incline which leads me toward the base of the new century so near to which I have already climbed.

“I am pleased to find that this poem, carrying with it the marks of having been written in the jocund morning of life, is still read and cared for. It was with a smile on my lips that I wrote it; I cannot read it without a sigh of tender remembrance. I hope it will not sadden my older readers, while it may amuse some of the younger ones to whom its experiences are as yet only floating fancies.”

Posted in Child's Calendar Beautiful (nature and other seasonal poems from the book) | Leave a comment

Fish

Friends of ours once asked us about homeschooling. She was very interested, particularly on behalf of one of their children, a child who was just losing all her sense of self in the public school environment and found herself discouraged and beaten down every single day, falling further and further behind in an environment that just wasn’t working for her.
He was opposed to homeschooling for a number of reasons, none of which made much sense to me. He thought children should spend more time with their peers than with adults. He placed a very high value on fitting in and being part of the culture. He thought kids who did not fit in with school culture were somehow deficient and the best solution was to immerse them in more school culture.
To be brutally honest, the wife was really our friend- he was somebody we tolerated because he came with her. He was really one of the most arrogant, misinformed, pigheaded men I have ever met. He claimed to be one of the most open minded men he knew, and he was always giving us lectures and reading material about his own point of view on a topic, trying to get us to open our minds (that is, to think just like him). But he refused to read anything we tried to give to him in turn, telling us he didn’t have time for that stuff. He had an incredibly high opinion of himself, not really justified by anything we knew of him. He reminded me much of a bantam rooster.
So it was rather difficult to know how to respond when he told us, “I don’t see any problems with public schools at all. I went to them, after all, and I turned out just great.” And he really did puff out his chest and smirk at us in a most oily and self-satisfied way. I’d never seen anybody puff out his chest in such odious self-satisfaction before. I’d read of it in fiction, and now I was watching his round little chest puff out in the most approved pouter pigeon fashion. I wished I could stop staring, but it was impossible not to goggle. Not only did we have a rather different opinion, but keep in mind that he had approached us, after all. We dropped the discussion and continued to be friends with the wife, tolerating the husband for her sake.
I thought of him today when I read this interview with C.S. Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham, in the fall issue of The Old Schoolhouse:

“Look what we do: we observe what God has designed, a pair of
parents, one of each sex, and two pairs of grandparents, often with a few
aunts and uncles thrown in. In fact, a Family. This is the unit
designed by God Himself for the specific purpose and ministry of raising
each new generation.
Then what do we do? We take the child and remove him from this
carefully designed support group of parents and close family members, all
of whom share a genetic bond with the child, and plunge him into a mass
group of his peers, all of whom are as ignorant and as demanding as he
is, with one adult stranger supervising. In terms of the
psycho-emotional development of the child, this is complete madness.
A child is best nurtured by having the one-on-one attention from
each of the two parents for a specific period of time each day. …I am referring to normal, well-adjusted, good parents.
And with our modern habits of sending children away from their home and
families for the better part of every day, these [well-adjusted parents]
are becoming more and more scarce as the vast majority of people are
damaged or scarred emotionally and intellectually themselves by being
exiled from their home and parents and placed in the hands of strangers
at a young age.
It is a trans-generational progression exacerbated by the fact that
those who are damaged very often are not even aware of it. If I had
known back then what I know now, my children would never have gone to
school until they were at least 18 years old. Satan hates what God loves
and God loves us, Mankind. The basic unit of Mankind is the Family, so
Satan has targeted the Family, and he has been pretty successful, mostly
by using “good intentions.” I think that “School” is one of his very
clever inventions. As far as I am concerned, schools are for fish.”

There’s much, much more to the interview, very worthwhile reading.
Our friends? I heard something of them recently. The child who started school as a sweet, quiet and charming child and who grew increasingly withdrawn the longer she stayed in school ended up with an eating disorder and a couple suicide attempts. Her sister left home asap to get away from that terrific father, and now lives in another country partly so as to be as far from him as possible. He still thinks he turned out great and is quite the success story.

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The influence of Robin Hood

Today we went to Granny Tea’s house for supper. The First Year Children went trooping outside to the woods for a bit of well needed exercise. After about twenty minutes romping about they came in with large sticks and excitedly told us they had been quarterstaff fighting.

Heh. That is so superior to light saber fights.

– Note -
The previous was not posted by the THM.
Light Sabers, Nah
Quarterstaffs, Nah
Smith & Wesson ;*))

Sincerely,
The Headmaster

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments