Military PTSD Documentary

Let There Be Light: The Censored Documentary on Traumatized WWII soldiers

A bit more about that:

 If you’re studying or discussing this with your kids, you might enjoy this as a supplement:

NCIS, season two, episode six, Terminal Leave, an episode about an Iraqui Vet with PTSD

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Response

Spaghetti Squash Stir-Fry

Ingredients, have these all chopped and ready to go:
Cooking oil or fat reserved from other cooking
Approximately 6 cups of roasted and shredded spaghetti squash
4 cloves of minced or chopped garlic (fresh is always better)
2 cups each: grated carrots, green beans (chinese long beans are fine) rinsed, trimmed, cut into pieces about 2 inches long
4 cups of grated or finely sliced cabbage
about 1 cup each: diced, cooked chicken breast and prepared, lightly cooked shrimp
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 thinly sliced lemons or limes

Variations: you can use other vegetables, either additionally or as substitutes. Chinese snow peas, bok choy (petay here), onions, bean sprouts.
YOu can also use a cup or two of chopped leftover pork.

Directions: heat some oil or fat in a large wok or skillet of prodigious size- it’s hot enough when the surface starts to shimmer or glisten- the way it reflects the light will shift slightly. Quickly toss in the minced garlic and simmer for 30 seconds.
Add the harder, longer cooking veggies (carrots, green beans), stir-fry until the colour brightens. Add the meat and continue stirring. After a couple of minutes, add your cabbage and cook just until it starts to go limp, then stir in the spaghetti squash and mix it all together well. Season as desired with salt, pepper, fish sauce- the brand I buy is a bit on the salty side so I might use less salt and you might want more.
Transfer to a warm serving platter; decorate with the citrus slices and serve quickly.

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Essay on Man, 2

Part I is here


Pope’s Essay on Man is divided into four parts.  However, in a 1900 school edition of the Essay on Man, Joseph Seabury said ”

"The poem is an integer. It should be read contin-
uously, thoroughly, slowly, and read to the end. Weigh
each word : each word has force. Every adjective is a
picture ; every noun a strong tower; every verb a thing
of life."

Integer is a whole number.

You can read it that way, or you break it up into the parts and look for some ideas on specific topics in those parts. The suggestions offered below are really just that – suggestions that may help you make your way through this poem.

In all of them, try to notice what he says about virtue, benevolence or charity/compassion, and piety.

Of the four parts,  the first specifically deals with Man in respect to the place he holds in the Universe, and the principal topic is the refutation of all objections against the wisdom and benevolence of that providence which placed him here, derived from the weakness and imperfection of his nature.

Questions you might ask as you read:

What is he saying about God, about Man and his place in the Universe, about creation?

The second sections begins with ‘what is the proper study of mankind’ and the answer is…

Well, what do you think Pope is saying is the proper study of mankind? Other questions you might notice and consider as you read:

What principles does he say rule over or guide the human race?

What does he have to say about virtue, passions, vices, or character? Do you agree (make sure you understand what he is saying before deciding whether or not you agree).

The third section revisits a topic he has touched on previously.  See what you think he is saying nature, creation, instinct and reason, and whether or not you agree.

How does he describe the development and rise of various human organizations and schemes of government?


In the fourth section, look for  what Pope has to say about happiness and the pursuit of it. Consider any of the previous questions as they apply, and look also at what he has to say here about virtue and the role of fortune, or luck, in our lives.


I always like to ask ‘Does this remind you of anything else,” and that is true of the Essay on Man.

Posted in Charlotte Mason, poetry | 2 Responses

What Racism Looks Like to Me

If you think voter ID is racist, then I think you are a racist whose racism goes deep down to your innermost assumptions.  Are brown people dumber than you, that they do not know how to get an ID? Are they cut off from society more than you, so that they don’t already have the same ID everybody needs to hold jobs, cash checks, buy a beer, or even get a freaking library card these days?   Stop being racist, and silly.


If you are the kind of person who imagines you are a defender of brown people but you routinely also take it for granted that they are housekeepers, maids, lawn service providers, kitchen staff in restaurants, etc. It never ceases to make my jaw just drop in stunned shock when a self described liberal, social justice type says stuff like, “I hear ICE is out there looking for people to pick up so you should give your maids a ride home,” or “Those evil Trump types if they lock the borders down who do you think is going to mow your lawn and clean your toilets.”  WHAT?   Yeah, you make those assumptions and you are the racist, the deeply, bone-in, taking for granted assumptions that are the most insidious.  No wonder you assume everybody else is so bigoted.  You know you are, and of course, you cannot live with the notion that maybe people who disagree with you on political issues are actually not more evil than you but might be less.


If you’re the kind of person who assaults 16 year old kids for wearing a red MAGA hat in support of the sitting president, calling the kid the ‘n’ word while you do it, or you make excuses for this sort of violent assault, you are the intolerant, violent, bigoted racist, and a danger to society as well.

If you think the only, or even the main, or even a partial reason there are pro-life women is because they’ve been brainwashed, you are not a feminist. You are a narrow minded fascist who can’t see outside the walls of your own ideology.


If you find it ‘confusing’ that an ‘affluent black man’ driving a BMW which sports NRA and the Don’t Tread On Me bumper stickers, you are probably racist and definitely very narrowminded. (Also, historically illiterate as the Gadsden ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag is not synonomous with Tea Party anyway)

If you are a white lady who says that kind of silliness then defends yourself by claiming it wasn’t about skin-tone (then why’dja bring it up?), but about people voting against their own interests, you are definitely racist, indulging in the worst sort of paternalism, very similar to that held dear by many slave owners in our past. You know, the ones who defended slavery because blacks didn’t know what was best for them and needed whites to care for them?  That’s you.

If you do that, or defend it as reasonable, you’re also more arrogant than you know.  You do not get to determine what is in a total stranger’s best interests based on your foolish assumptions which are entirely grown from your beliefs about his life and well being as determined by what you assume about his life, notions you have which are entirely formed by knowing nothing about him at all except his skin colour.

It is more obvious than you wish that you believe this paternalistic fiction that you know his best interests entirely based on your own prejudices.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Responses

Charlotte Mason, Art, and the Science of Relations

In Childhood, the Prelude, William Wordsworth refers

“To those first-born affinities that fit
Our new existence to existing things,
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union betwixt life and joy.”

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary gives several meanings for ‘affinity:’

1. The relation contracted by marriage, between a husband and his wife’s kindred, and between a wife and her husband’s kindred; in contradistinction from consanguinity or relation by blood…

2. Agreement; relation; conformity; resemblance; connection; as, the affinity of sounds, of colors, or of languages….

According to, it is more than merely a synonym for liking. It involves bonding, forming a connection, a relationship:

…3: kinship by marriage or adoption; not a blood relationship…
5: a close connection marked by community of interests or similarity in nature or character; “found a natural affinity with the immigrants”; “felt a deep kinship with the other students”; “anthropology’s kinship with the humanities” [syn: kinship] 6: inherent resemblance between persons or things 7: a natural attraction or feeling of kinship; “an affinity for politics”; “the mysterious affinity between them”; “James’s affinity with Sam”
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University (see for more, much more)

Charlotte Mason referred to Wordsworth’s poem when she said that one of the chief duties of parents is to help our children

“make valid as many as may be of – –
‘Those first-born affinities
That fit our new existence to existing things.”

She says that

Education is the Science of Relations;’ by which phrase we mean that children come in to the world with a natural ‘appetancy,’ to use Coleridge’s word, for, and affinity with, all the material of knowledge; for interest in the heroic past and in the age of myths; for a desire to know about everything that moves and lives, about strange places and strange peoples; for a wish to handle material and to make; a desire to run and ride and row and do whatever the law of gravitation permits.” (Charlotte Mason, Volume 2, pp. 222-3)

Elsewhere in her six volume series she explains that that part of the idea that education is a science of relations entails an understanding that

“fulness of living, expansion, expression, and serviceableness, for each of us, depend upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of…
Every child is heir to an enormous patrimony, heir to all the ages, inheritor of all the present.”
(Volume 3. pp.185-6)”

Towards that end, she says that

“[Every] child should leave school with at least a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of his imagination, to say nothing of great buildings, sculpture, beauty of form and colour in things he sees.”

School didn’t do that for me. My parents did a wonderful job of introducing us to poetry, literature, classical music, nature, history, and song, but we didn’t ever visit an art museum or discuss art that I remember. We had, however, one picture hanging on our walls that was not department store home decor. It was a print of a young girl in profile. She is reading a book. We did not know the name of the picture or the artist, and we never really talked about it, but I looked at it often while I curled up on the couch reading my own books.

A few years ago I was working on an art project for our homeschool, and I discovered my picture. It is ‘A Young Girl Reading’ by Fragonard. I was thrilled. I emailed my mother to tell her about it. I printed out a copy from the computer to look at. I excitedly told my children and husband that I had ‘known’ that painting from a child. Simply by seeing it on the wall of my childhood home, I had developed an affinity for it, and I believe that painting acted as a door to the world of the visual arts when I grew to woman’s estate. That print became a connection to a whole new world. How thrilling.

Even more thrilling was standing before the original in Washington, D.C. last week at the National Gallery of Art (search if the link has moved). I was unprepared for the emotional response. The HeadGirl and JennyAnyDots went ahead of us through the museum and found the painting first. They came back for me- “Mother, mother, we’ve found your painting.”

We rushed to the gallery where ‘my’ painting resides. I stood in front of it in wonder and profound happiness. I choked back tears. I tried to explain to my husband how much it meant to me, that this was the first, the very first painting I had loved, and how long I had loved it. I was incoherent.

We saw many wonderful things at the NGA, most of them far superior in quality and subject matter than my girl reading. As it turns out, Fragonard could produce paintings like this in about an hour, using broad, sweeping brush strokes. The girl’s collar is produced by first globbing on a thick mass of white paint, and then using the pointed end of the brush to quickly scratch the lines of the ruff through the wet paint. I don’t care. I love it. I love it because of the connections I made with it as a child and the connections it made for me as an adult.

It keeps on making connections for me. Today I read this post on Rembrandt over at Suitable for Mixed Company. She says,

“Many years ago, I was broke and bored, and wandering around Vancouver, British Columbia. The Vancouver Art Gallery had a free day (or cut-rate day, I forget which) and was advertising The Dutch world of painting and it was handy. Expecting nothing more than a half hour or so’s diversion, I went in. And changed my life. Honestly, I was floored by what I saw. I was astonished to find that some of the Dutch Masters were drop-dead funny in their art. I wandered into another room and found myself in another exhibit, where I lingered over a case with da Vinci drawings, grasping for the first time the difference between good drawings and great ones. But Rembrandt. My gosh. I lost myself in Rembrandt and the other Dutch Masters.”

I got all choked up all over again just reading about somebody else getting choked up at an art exhibit. She has much more to say about Rembrandt, art, and books, so please read the whole thing. You won’t regret it. Bookmark her, too, she’s worth a regular place in your reading schedule.

There are several ways into the world of art appreciation- by which I mean the world where a piece of art has the ability to move you, touch your life, hold your attention, to matter to you. It probably doesn’t matter so much how you get there. But do go, and take the kids with you.

For Further reading on CM and the science of relations, see here.


(Originally posted in 2005)

Posted in Charlotte Mason, the science of relations | Tagged , , , , | 2 Responses

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