Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, July 13, 2018

Image via Pixabay.
Four Things

1. On the ride home from school back in June, my seven year old daughter made an odd complaint: she couldn't get a song out of her head.

Yes: In the process of promoting a school trip to an Orioles game, her teachers managed to afflict her with her first earworm. The song in question was, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

2. Some time in the past month, I had to explain to Pumpkin what a jackpot actually is, after she informed me that her little brother was sitting on it.

3. What you or I might call July 4 or Independence Day, Little Man was calling America Day. We spent the evening of ours on a beachside balcony in Florida's First Coast area watching fireworks.

4. Some time over the past few months, Little Man has taken to ... greeting ... squirrels by yelling "Hello!" and racing towards them. He's fast, but they're faster.

At Disney World, he yelled an insult at a duck (not Donald or Daisy!), but didn't storm after it. He's otherwise a very good-natured little boy, and I have no clue where that came from.

-- CAV

Something Parents Can Worry Less About

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lenore Skenazy writes of child abduction by complete strangers, something parents hear about on a near-constant basis and from every direction:

Image via Wikimedia.
It doesn't seem to matter to [Joey Salads] that he is reinforcing an idea that is already both rampant and untrue: Everyone is just waiting for the split-second opportunity to steal our kids.

Stranger kidnapping is the rarest of crimes. Even if you wanted your child to be kidnapped by a stranger, you'd have to leave him outside, unattended, for 750,000 years before he'd be statistically likely to be snatched.

But you wouldn't know it from Salads' shame-spreading, fearmongering videos, including his latest, in which he and a dad decide to teach the dad's wife about how horrible she is for letting their baby wait in the car for the few minutes it takes her to pay for the gas. [bold added]
Skenazy also briefly considers those child abductions that do occur in a Wall Street Journal piece and notes that "The most common victims are girls aged 12 to 17, with sexual assault being the biggest motive," and that the vast majority of them did not live with their parents.

-- CAV

Rude and Concerned Are Not Synonyms

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

For better or worse, there is often a time delay for me when it comes to processing ridiculous and unexpected insults. A good example of this came during our recent family vacation, which included taking the kids to Disney World for a few days. Having gotten up later than we wanted for a scheduled event, we rushed to the park. Just after, I saw an opportunity to buy everyone breakfast while my wife stood in line with the kids for a ride. After my kids (aged seven and five) and I got a place in line, my wife joined us. So I headed out the building to get breakfast. No more than a yard or two from the building, two young adult females with technicolor dreadlocks accosted me, asking me where my children were. Assuming them to be park employees of some kind, I said, "Oh, they're with my wife."

Yeah. That's me around the thirty- and sixty-second marks.
"We're concerned that you're leaving them in line by themselves," one of them said somewhat brusquely. Thinking something was odd, but being in a hurry, I simply left for the coffee shop. Only at some point on the way did I realize that these two were almost certainly busybodies, rather than park employees, and that the answer they really deserved was something like a perfunctory, "That's rude."

I am not a threatening-looking person. My kids are healthy and clean, and were dressed for the occasion. I wasn't yelling at my kids. They weren't crying or screaming. The only reason whatsoever I can come up with for any concern by an onlooker is that they saw me enter with my kids and leave without them -- a sight that anyone with a grain of sense would realize is not some rare phenomenon at an amusement park. I am sure plenty of other parents hand off their kids to the other parent, or even their older siblings, other relatives, or friends.

A clean-cut, ordinary-looking man taking his kids to a line and leaving a few minutes later signals abandonment ... exactly how? And did this duo -- whose demeanor would give me pause about trusting my kids with them, to say the least -- spend any time enjoying the park? Did they worry themselves sick by appointing themselves guardians of every child in sight? Do they enjoy provoking parents? I don't know or care. But their assumption that I would skip out on my own young children in a crowded amusement park was either clueless enough or rude enough to merit an etiquette citation rather than an answer.

-- CAV

Ocasio-Cortez as Lipstick on a Pig

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

George Will's latest column argues that, at least in one respect, there is little to be excited about -- regardless of one's political orientation -- by the recent primary victory of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. His closing paragraph offers a good summary of his position:

Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Today's American socialists say that our government has become the handmaiden of rapacious factions and entrenched elites, and that there should be much more government. They are half-right. To be fair, they also say that after America gets "on the right side of history" (an updated version of after "the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest"), government will be truly disinterested, manipulated by no rent-seeking factions, serving only justice. That is, government will be altogether different than it is, or ever has been. Seriously.
That good news, such as it is, offers cold comfort when one realizes that -- as Will correctly indicates -- we are well on the way to socialism. Worse, those who want us further down that road to ruin are in fashion, and aren't listening to the likes of Will, or to legions of conservatives who correctly argue that socialism will fail (again!) to lead us to prosperity. And neither are too many people who haven't considered the question deeply.

That last fact should alarm conservatives, but, strangely, it doesn't seem to. Many seem oddly content with smirking at how "unthinking and unobservant" Ocasio-Cortez or her supporters seem to be. Yes. Socialism is a pig and Ocasio-Cortez is just the lipstick Bernie Sanders and his ilk have been looking for. But our benighted youth were ready to accept that pig, anyway. That fact is nearly as alarming as the lack of solid opposition from the right.

-- CAV

A Drip for the Aid-in-Dying Debate?

Monday, July 09, 2018

The following headline on The Drudge Report caught my eye this morning: "Palliative Sedation, an End-of-Life Practice That Is Legal Everywhere..." Really? For a brief instant, the thought crossed my mind that the "right to die" debate, as some call it, might be overblown, but as is clear by the end of the article, that is anything but the case.

Using palliative sedation to relieve existential suffering is less common in the United States than it is in other Western countries, according to UCLA's Dr. [Thomas] Strouse and other American practitioners. "I am not comfortable with supplying palliative sedation for existential suffering," Dr. Strouse said. "I've never done that and probably wouldn't."

In states where aid-in-dying is legal, terminally ill patients rarely choose between aid-in-dying and palliative sedation, said Anthony Back, co-director of the University of Washington's Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence. In Washington, patients with a prognosis of six months to live or less must make two verbal requests to their doctor at least 15 days apart and sign a written form. They also must be healthy enough to take the legal drugs themselves.

"If you are starting the death-with-dignity process, you're not at a point where a doctor would recommend palliative sedation," Dr. Back said. "And with terminal sedation, the patient doesn't have that kind of time and is too sick to take all those meds orally," he said of the aid-in-dying drugs.

But Dr. Back does tell terminally ill patients who don't want or don't qualify for aid-in-dying that, when the time is right and no other treatments alleviate their symptoms, "I would be willing to make sure that you get enough sedation so you won't be awake and miserable." [bold added]
I am just about as dubious about calling aid-in-dying "right to die" as I am about all the "rights" (such as "housing," that are really violations of actual rights, such as property) manufactured mainly by the left. First off, aid-in-dying is an aspect of the right each individual has to his own life. So calling it by that name obscures the real issue. From there, we begin fighting to pass laws -- as if carving out a brand new area of freedom -- when maybe some statutes ought to be repealed first. (This is not to say that we wouldn't need new law (such as that making sure the patient really does want such assistance): We aren't, after all, accustomed to exercising this part of that right within the legal system.)

Let us leave mere cleverness to the fox. (Image via Pixabay.)
That said, one product of this myopic focus on death (versus living one's life as one sees fit) might be for proponents of aid-in-dying to be tempted to gloss over this difference to make their cause more palatable to people who have not thought much about the issue. Such a move will rightly lose them credibility among the most thoughtful -- those most vital to the cause. Conversely, opponents might seize on the surface similarity between aid-in-dying and palliative sedation to lull those same people into thinking the issue has already been adequately addressed, which is clearly not the case.

I lost a loved one who required morphine near death many years ago, and I support aid-in-dying; yet I had to think about this distinction. If that thought can cross my mind, I am sure that there will be people on either side of that debate who will attempt to exploit the fact that palliative care can sound a lot like aid-in dying. Those of us who value our lives -- enough to want the option to end them on our own terms if we are unfortunate enough to want it -- should make sure such tactics do not go unnoticed.

-- CAV

Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, July 06, 2018

Image via Pixabay.
Notable Commentary

"If [Alan Greenspan] wanted power and fame, he would not get them in his lifetime by advocating honest money." -- Keith Weiner, in "An Idea Whose Time Has Come" at SNB & CHF.

"Without predictions of hyperinflation or economic doom, without a makeover of the monetary system, and without even a skyrocketing gold price, there are simple and clear fiscal benefits to a government that issues a gold bond." -- Keith Weiner, in "The Benefits of Issuing Gold Bonds" at SNB & CHF.

"[W]hen medical organizations and medical journals start offering opinions outside their field of expertise, they simply harm their credibility and sound silly..." -- Paul Hsieh, in "Doctors Need to Shut Up More" at Forbes.

"For classical liberals like us and [Richard] Epstein, any government, and any system of law, must explain why their dictates have legitimate authority." -- Adam Mossoff and Eric Claeys, in "Patent Injunctions, Economics, and Rights" (PDF) in George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper, No. 18-17.

-- CAV

Using Traffic Jams

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Over at Unclutterer, Jeri Dansky gives advice on organizing for traffic jams. The implicit basic strategy is good: Avoid them if you can, but find a way to get some use of the time if you can't. Regarding the latter, a big one in my book -- at least when I am alone -- is as follows:

Pack the essentials

I always have a water bottle and some energy bars with me so I don't need to worry about getting thirsty or hungry. And I have a backlog of podcasts loaded to my smartphone to keep me happily occupied while traffic is slow (or stopped). Other people may prefer music, language lessons, or audio books in either CD or digital format.
Image via Pixabay.
I would add a couple of other things that can help, particularly if there is some flexibility about when one needs to arrive.

First, on trips with few or no good alternate routes (a fact that renders Waze and the like a little less useful), check traffic before setting out. On those occasions when you can know about bad traffic in advance, delay your departure a bit and do something useful with the time.

Second -- and this is really a variant of the first -- on trips with at least one decent stopping point, have things in the car that can help you make better use of the time at that stopping point. Is there a Starbucks that you pass every day to work? Pull over there if traffic is atrocious, and get the story. (I have found timely explanations for particularly bad traffic in Patch, in the form of reports on very bad accidents.) If it's going to take a while to clear, read or work there until the worst has passed.

None of this is ideal, but it can be satisfying getting a small win out of an otherwise annoying and frustrating situation.

-- CAV