Drooling on the Pillow

Friday, March 24, 2006


Before we went to China to adopt Gracie we belonged to a newsgroup of people in our situation and people who had already come back, sharing information and advice. We did get some good advice about the trip and dealing with officials, but we wound up quitting the group long before we left for China.

For one thing, it was a creature of an organization formed for parents of adopted Chinese kids and like any organization, it had Policy. They believed that it is the responsibility of us, as parents, to maintain close cultural, intellectual and emotional ties with China and the Chinese community here. They had very clear ideas on how this was to be done and were quite stong in the opinion that if you did not do as they suggested, you were committing child abuse.

I do think you should make available to your adopted child any and all cultural resources that might help them find their place in the world. And I'm not opposed to pushing a kid toward something I believe he needs, but which he's resisting. Up to a point.

That point begins the instant someone presumes to dictate my parenting decisions and claims to know better than I what my girl needs. They don't.

What was, to me, even more irritating were the barrage of stories about the blatant racism encountered by these brave parents. They seemed to be in a constant state of outrage over remarks made, looks given, and subtexts read. I remember a woman describing an old woman cooing over her kid and then making the fatal remark, "She's just a little China doll." You could almost feel the spittle coming out of the monitor. The woman was angry and she wouldn't let it go. You only had to look at these ori/occidental families a moment too long to incur their wrath.

Bah. Let me tell you something. We've taken Grace for extended periods to South Carolina, upstate New York, the Poconos and central Pennsylvania. People do look. Grace notices them looking. It's an odd thing if you haven't encountered it before. And if you acknowledge their look and smile, nine times out of ten they're going to want to ask you questions. The questions aren't always artfully posed. But not once, not one single time in the thousands of people who have met us and the hundreds of people who have engaged us on the subject have I detected the smallest whiff of disapproval. They like it. People like the idea of a different kind of family. If I met someone who didn't like it, the hell with them. But it's been eight years and it hasn't happened yet.

There was an article on the bottom of the front page of the Times on Thursday about children from the first wave of Chinese adoptions in 1991 and their trip through adolescence. Adopted in China, Seeking Identity in America, by Lynette Clemetson (registration required) compares and contrasts these girls, in their middle teens. There is some interesting material there, along with some yammering from a social worker and other 'experts' but I think it misses an important point entirely.

All kids at this age are struggling with their identity. Being Asian with white parents is an aspect of these particular girls' struggle, but all kids face unique challenges as well as universal ones. There are only two things you can do to help them, really, whether they're Chinese-American or California-American. One is unconditional love and the other is a firm hand when they need it. All the Chinese dance classes in the world won't help once a kid is infected with teenitis.

The article does point out that some kids feel very connected to their birth culture and some kids never give it a thought. You only have to spend a little time around foreign adopted kids to know this is true. There is a school of thought that the second type of kid is displaying a social pathology. Well, people are entitled to think whatever they like. But they need to stay the hell away from my kid.

Don't Be Too Kind to Our Web-Footed Friends 

I've been pretty calm about the danger of winding up in a mile-high stack of victims of bird flu, but I am aware of a chorus of voices saying I shouldn't be.

Sean Lynch, over at Catallarchy, links to an article in the Detroit Free Press about a new article in Nature magazine about why there have been so few bird to human transmissions and no known human to human transmissions. It turns out you almost have to get jiggy with a budgie to catch this bug and it will require several specific mutations before we can give it to each other.

So why all the noise? Lynch thinks he knows:

So we have the press on one side who know that
fear sells, and we have the scientists on the other
side who know that fear gets grants, and on the third
side we have our “fascism lite” governments who will
take any opportunity to acquire more power.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of Westerners don’t
raise birds and therefore doesn’t need to hear
another f*cking peep about a disease that’s killed
on the order of 100 people in the entire world and
requires intimate contact with birds. Here, I’ll give
you all of the information you need to know: don’t
get intimate with birds. There. Done.
So there may be some few of us who will need lifestyle changes. You know who you are.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Be There 

On Sunday, Gracie, The Goddess and the Slugster himself will be heading down to the wilds of South Jersey as the Penn Jersey She Devils have their opening Pandemonium. Our host, the proprietor of this bodacious, but nightmare-deadly group of Succubi will be our most excellent blog-brother, Gregor of What A Sad Old Goth.

I hope to see other bloggers there, especially of the South Jersey variety.

Grace has decided that she is going to root for the Sadistic Sweethearts, but I have given my allegience to the Fallen Angels.

(856) 461-3770


Free-Market Education 

The New York Sun has been giving John Stossel plenty of space to smack around the softballs served up by the Educrats in response to his TV special "Stupid in America."

The show was an indictment of public education and a plea for school choice and by the reaction you'd think he advocated eliminating teacher lounges.

He points out in todays column (subscription required) that The National School Boards Association claims that "America's public schools outperform private schools when variables ... are controlled." He responds:

This must refer to the recent study done at the
University of Illinois, comparing fourth- and eighth-
grade math scores. That study actually showed that
public school students performed worse, but after
the researches used regression analysis to "control"
for race/ethnicity, gender, disability, limited English
proficiency and school location, they managed to
conclude that public school students outperform
private and charter school students.

Everyone knows you can get a massage or a "massage" and when the NSBA was finished with these statistics there was definitely a Happy Ending.

Chanice at New Jersey for Change administers a similar hiding today with regard to the Newark school system.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006



If it was not your face I saw above
Me when I woke today, I'll never know
Whose breath that was; because it rose like love
Unprosecuted, shimmering like so
Many particles resolving into
Air. Then, spinning, turning, up and down,
Replaced themselves with you. It is a sin to
Wish them back, Ophelia can't undrown.
Or can she? Had I woke a moment sooner
Whose arms would fold around me now?
And, reassembled for a nooner,
Would I be dehors my wedding vow?
What I must know before I leave my bed;
Is that luckless cat alive or dead?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


A Government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always
count on the support of Paul. George Bernard Shaw
Lord, the money we do spend on goverment, and it's
not a bit better than the government that we got for
one-third the money twenty years ago. Will Rogers

Taxation with representation ain't so hot either. Gerald

Virtually everything is under federal control nowadays
except the federal budget. Herman Talmadge

Squibs in the New York Sun

Monday, March 20, 2006

Headlight Parade 

I see from Fausta's Blog that Susan Sarandon is set to play Cindy Sheehan in a movie. And the Times informs me this morning that Adrianne Barbeau is doing Judy Garland in a play.

Oh, dear. Where to invest my entertainment dollar?

Ms. Barbeau isn't exactly who would come to mind for the role and, in her Judy get-up on the right looks eerily like Polly Bergen. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, her husband wrote the script.

On the other hand, while Ms. Sarandon, who did for lemons what Heinz did for pickles has spent the past few decades running around making a pest of herself, Ms. Barbeau appears to have been living a blameless family life.

Okay, here's the clincher. Ms. Barbeau's playwright husband is Billy Van Zandt, brother of Little Steven and he was born in Red Bank.

Sorry, Susan.

Our American Cousins 

An old friend who had the good fortune to be educated in England and to live most of his life in the U.S.A. sent me the following email, which he claimed he clipped from John Cleese:

To the Citizens of the United States of America:

In light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and other territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy). Your new Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will appoint a governor for America, without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium," and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in the words such as 'colour', 'favour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise." You will learn that the suffix 'burgh' is pronounced 'burra'; you may elect to respell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you find you simply can't cope with the correct pronunciation. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up "vocabulary"). Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

2. There is no such thing as " US English." We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize."

3. You will re-learn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after carefully carrying out Task #1 (see above).

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but to be celebrated only in England. It will be called "Come-Uppance Day."

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking with a therapist, then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

6. Therefore you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All intersections will be replaced by roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric immediately and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

8. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling "gasoline") - roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.

9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps." Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with mayonnaise, but with vinegar.

10. Waiters and waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer," and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager." American brands will be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine," so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English Dialogue in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" was an experience akin to have one's ear removed with a cheese grater.

13. You will cease playing American "football." There is only one kind of proper football; you call it "soccer." Those of you brave enough will, in time, will be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies). Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the "World Series" for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.

14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due backdated to 1776.

I responded thusly:

I had to wait all weekend before my sides stopped aching. Laugh? I thought I'd plotz.

Of course, it's entirely unnecessary for us 'Mericans to revoke British sovereignty as y'all seem intent on giving it up to the frogs and huns anyway. Well, at least you're not our problem any more. If, at some point in the future you do decide to become an actual nation again I offer just a few pointers on how to stay that way.

Cars: My advice is to outlaw driving any vehicle smaller than a toaster. We'll send you a few reconditioned Hummers to practice on and you'll find, to your delight, that it no longer matters which side you drive on.

Pronunciation: you really should take into account that it is difficult to take seriously pronunciation guidelines from a people who speak essentially different languages on opposite sides of a room. One word: Llanfairpwllgwygyllgogerychwymdrobilllantysiliogogogoch.

Guns: Buy them and learn to use them. I think you'll thank us when you wake up with a French bureaucrat at the foot of your bed.

Sport: We would be happy to take your advice in regard to soccer once you learn to play the game. From my reading of the sports page the game is played in England on a level far below the rest of the world. Are you guys even trying to score? Until then, when we want to watch people in skimpy togs running around pointlessly, I think we'll stick with woman's beach vollyball.

Movies: If you want us to stop casting Brits as bad guys, I'm afraid you're going to have to kill Alan Rickman. Please wait until the last Harry Potter is done.

Beer: Try to think of the stuff as a light, refreshing quaff, not as a thick, mediciny sludge. Here's a tip: if you need a knife and fork, it's not beer.

Food: Mercifully, I'm going to let this slide.

One thing I'm afraid we're going to insist on, though. Your "Conservative" party is going to have to be renamed the Crepe-eating Girly-boys party. It looks like Tom Delay is going to have some time on his hands soon. We'd be delighted to send him over to put a little Texas in the Tories. No charge.

Lee Harvey Oswald. It was in all the papers.

Update: I have since learned from a commenter at Tinkerty Tonk who kindly linked to this posting that Snopes has debunked the Cleese connection. Which means that Ian, who sent me the email is buying the next jar of thick, medincy sludge we share
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com Listed on BlogShares