Monday, November 5, 2007

Who Is To Blame For The Death of Childhood?

Thanks Raf, for shooting this one over. Hey, maybe I'll start writing again soon, would that be a good idea?

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 110 teachers, psychologists, children's authors and other experts call on the Government to act to prevent the death of childhood.

They write: "We are deeply concerned at the escalating incidence of childhood depression and children's behavioural and developmental conditions."

The group, which includes Philip Pullman, the children's author, Jacqueline Wilson, the children's laureate, her predecessor Michael Morpurgo, Baroness Greenfield, the director of the Royal Institution and Dr Penelope Leach, the child care expert, blames a failure by politicians and public alike to understand how children develop.

"Since children's brains are still developing, they cannot adjust. . . to the effects of ever more rapid technological and cultural change," they write.

advertisement "They still need what developing human beings have always needed, including real food (as opposed to processed "junk"), real play (as opposed to sedentary, screen-based entertainment), first-hand experience of the world they live in and regular interaction with the real-life significant adults in their lives.

"They also need time. In a fast-moving, hyper-competitive culture, today's children are expected to cope with an ever-earlier start to formal schoolwork and an overly academic test-driven primary curriculum.

"They are pushed by market forces to act and dress like mini-adults and exposed via the electronic media to material which would have been considered unsuitable for children even in the very recent past."

The letter was circulated by Sue Palmer, a former head teacher and author of Toxic Childhood, and Dr Richard House, senior lecturer at the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education at Roehampton University.

Mrs Palmer said: "I have been thinking about this for a long time and I just decided something had to be done.

"It is like this giant elephant in all our living rooms, the fact that children's development is being drastically affected by the kind of world they are brought up in."

She cited research by Prof Michael Shayer at King's College, London, which showed that 11-year-olds measured in cognitive tests were "on average between two and three years behind where they were 15 years ago".

"I think that is shocking. We must make a public statement – a child's physical and psychological growth cannot be accelerated.

"It changes in biological time, not at electrical speed. Childhood is not a race."

The other signatories include Sir Jonathon Porritt, the environmental campaigner, Prof Tim Brighouse, the Commissioner for London Schools and Sir Richard Bowlby, the President of the Centre for Child Mental Health.

Mr Morpurgo said: "We have so much anxiety about children, their protection, their care, their education, that this has developed into fear. There is a fear around children, both from schools and politicians, which has led to this target-driven education system.

"That has put children into an academic straitjacket from a very early age which restricts creativity and the enrichment of childhood."

He condemned the "virtual play" represented by electronic games and internet surfing.

"That is where children are getting their ideas from and I find it quite "toxic" and pretty scary for the future."

Jacqueline Wilson said: "We are not valuing childhood. I speak to children at book signings and they ask me how I go through the process of writing and I say, 'Oh you know, it's just like when you play imaginary games and you simply write it all down'.

"All I get is blank faces. I don't think children use their imaginations any more."

Baroness Greenfield is so concerned about the effect of technology on children she has set up an all-party group in the Lords to look into it.

The other members are three former education secretaries, Baroness Williams, Baroness Shephard and Baroness Morris.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

nice one

Mama: Here's your zuchinni and toast with tahini
Lyli: Hey, tahini zuchinni. They rhyme!
Mama: Hey, you're right! You are SO good at ryhming. When are you two going to start freestyle battling?
Lyli: In four months.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Parenting as a Green Anarchist

I consider myself to be a pirate in some contemporary sense of the word. This is the lens through which I try to view our world. I am a nice pirate, where others rape and pillage I salvage and sow; where others sack and burn I liberate and grow. I pirate software, vegetables, herbs, bulk food aisles at corporate grocery stores, garbage, books, clothes, thrift stores, free boxes. I find homes for books lost on these high seas of a culture that, for the most part, doesn't read. I steal from the rich and give to the poor whenever possible. I try to be free in the fullest sense of the word and dream always of furthering that freedom.

I live with my twin three year old daughters on an old 250 acre farm outside of Shelton, Washington at the inner-most tip of Puget Sound. I try to live as a Green Rebel and a Pirate in this commodified world of disposable consumables. Does this mean I live a zero-sum harmonious existence with my local ecosystem, feeding wild animals by hand and growing or scavenging all my food while refusing to pay taxes and stockpiling an enormous underground arms cache of sustainably gathered weapons of creation? Well... not yet.

So I try instead to let these simple ideas bleed into my everyday interactions with nature and with the individuals around me. I try to be anti-authoritarian with my children for the most part, but every parent raises their voice or demands some sort of obedience from their kids, because that is the world we live in, try as we might to escape it. But I have become acutely aware of what a collaborative process parenting is and, as surely as I am raising two beautiful, intelligent, gentle girls in this crazy world, they are raising and molding a new kind of parent in me. And these new kinds of people we are helping each other foster and create and assemble from old bones will be the same people faced with solving the growing problems of tomorrow and bridging our polarized communities with what common ground we have: our children and our desire for them to be healthy and survive.

I vaguely recall mulling over possible titles for my fatherhood blog before settling on Pirate Papa: An Anarcho-Green Journal of D.(o) I.(t) Y.(ourself) Parenting. The ones I remember are: Running with Scissors , Don't Tell Mommy, and Hip-Pop. When I use words like 'Anarcho-Green' I am attempting to bend accepted norms by sheer use of language, I am attempting to lure in folks who are curious about these ideologies (even while I am obviously alienating whole other groups), I am attempting to extract everything I deem to be of value to contemporary parenting from both movements and synergize it into a harmonious, sustainable whole systems anti-corporate naturally organic approach to parenting and child-rearing in this day and age.

I relate 'Anarchism' to parenting in several very simple ways: I firmly believe that large-scale industrial capitalism is inherently bad for babies; I think all children are inherently anarchists and that these qualities need to be nurtured and respected rather than repressed; I advocate a refusal to follow accepted norms (without massive research) as applied to my children's diet, medicine, entertainment, education, etc.; I think that families are best served and children best reared by as much economic and political freedom as possible. I believe in creative problem solving, involving children in political activism, and being as anti-corporate, anti-capitalist and anti-standard as possible. I believe we need localized communities operating on a face-to-face basis in equilibrium with each other and their surroundings without official hierarchies and centralized establishments to arbitrate and rule our lives. We have learned from this system of coercion, capitalism, domination and patriarchy that it does not work, does not jive with the natural human spirit or bodily rhythms. Now it’s time to try something else.

I relate 'Green' to parenting thusly: I see today's generic diet and monocropped culture as definitely deadly to the kids and mothers and fathers of the future (that's all of us); I see lowering the ecological footprint of today's typical American family as a fundamental first step to saving tomorrow's children, as well as maximizing our own limited time here on the planet; I believe that, as a species, we require a healthy chunk of re-wilding in order to return to some sustainable balance with nature as well as with our own collective psyche; I believe that a resurgence to THE LOCAL for food and medical needs for our families and elderly and children will best sustain our communities and revitalize our economies with the inherently unique culture granted them by place.

If we don’t want a world full of standardized testing and rulers and competition then we need children who can live outside the box and be the most unique individuals they can be. If that is what they want to do. And I think it will be. If we want a world without bars on its windows then, more than ever, will we need children who are free.

Further Reading:

This essay was first published by Tomas in Rad Dad #7, July/August 2007.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Utne Reviews Rad Dad!

Evidently they like us radical papas over at Utne. They reviewed the first (and hitherto only) Pirate Papa 'zine awhile back.

Rad Dad "is not cool," according to founder and publisher Tomas. "[I]t's not about being hip, not about trying to be in style... Rad Dad is for radical parenting. The uncomfortable kind." And so the zine's seventh issue picks up where previous ones left off: by interrogating and reevaluating the role of fathers in radical politics. Articles range from "Green Parenting," in which writer Sky looks at the relationship between anarchism and parenting, to "On Being Jewish," in which Bruce contemplates the religious example he wants to set for his child. A contribution from Tomas himself -- "Who's Your Daddy: Fathers in Pop Culture" -- offers a forceful critique of how "cool parenting" has become an apolitical and upper-middle class trend that reinforces "dad" stereotypes. -- Eric Kelsey

Here's another link to a review of Tomas' Rad Dad from Mamazine.

Drop Tomas a line at Rad Dad and pick up a copy of issue # 7.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Taliban is Alive and Well in Ohio

From Common Dreams

Well, this is really weird. I, for one, believe that fathers should have some sort of say in whether a woman gets an abortion or not, even if it has no power beyond an idea logged in some karmic court. I mean, ideally everyone could just talk about the matter and sort things out... but we all know how well that works.

Giving the father sole veto power seems just a touch patriarchal and as one-sided as allowing solely the mother to make the decision. But it is her body after all. And personally I'm tired of The Father being the head of household and supreme familial dictator (rarely benevolent). Maybe some form of arbitration (Anyone want that job?)? If a father wants to accept sole responsibility for the child's well-being and agrees to support the pregnant mother at least until birth if not until the child is finished nursing then why should the mother be allowed to make the decision by herself? Indeed, it is her body and don't get me wrong, I am 100% pro-choice, having experienced abortion from the male end of the proverbial stick no less than three times myself and grateful for it every time. But we talked about it, twice before, once after (that one felt a bit different)... it's just such a murky subject... Let whichever being you call God be the judge, I suppose.

Who am I to tell any woman what to do with her body? But, then again, who are they to abort a life that doesn't just belong to them without first checking with the father of the unborn child? I'm fine with consensual abortions and abortions where the father is not present and thusly not asked. But when the father is present and wants the child and the women denies him that by aborting the child? Not so down... Thanks to Fern for pointing this one out. Damn. Makes me queasy too. I definitely don't think there should be legal repercussions involved. This stinks of a right-wing plot if you ask me. No one else can come up with such gaping plot holes.

Wow. I just changed my own mind ninety-seven times.

Check out the comments section, as the best ideas are down there, not in the article.

Several Ohio state representatives who normally take an anti-abortion stance are now pushing pro-choice legislation - sort of.

Led by Rep. John Adams, a group of state legislators have submitted a bill that would give fathers of unborn children a final say in whether or not an abortion can take place.

It’s a measure that, supporters say, would finally give fathers a choice. 0802 06

“This is important because there are always two parents and fathers should have a say in the birth or the destruction of that child,” said Adams, a Republican from Sidney. “I didn’t bring it up to draw attention to myself or to be controversial. In most cases, when a child is born the father has financial responsibility for that child, so he should have a say.”

As written, the bill would ban women from seeking an abortion without written consent from the father of the fetus. In cases where the identity of the father is unknown, women would be required to submit a list of possible fathers. The physician would be forced to conduct a paternity test from the provided list and then seek paternal permission to abort.

Claiming to not know the father’s identity is not a viable excuse, according to the proposed legislation. Simply put: no father means no abortion.

“I’m really pleased that this has been proposed for one reason - it draws attention to the fact that many men are concerned and care for their unborn children,” said Denise Mackura, the director of the Ohio Right to Life Society. “You have no idea how many men call telling me about their girlfriends who plan to abort, asking what they can do to help her. They do want to help and they should have a voice.”

With the proposal, men would be guaranteed that voice under penalty of law. First time violators would by tried for abortion fraud, a first degree misdemeanor. The same would be the case for men who falsely claim to be fathers and for medical workers who knowingly perform an abortion without paternal consent.

In addition, women would be required to present a police report in order to prove a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

As is the case whenever abortion is the topic, sharp opposition has come from members of the House, along with multiple activist groups. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Activist League and the Ohio Right to Life Society have both spoken out against the legislation.

“This extreme bill shows just how far some of our state legislators are willing to go to rally a far-right base that is frustrated with the pro-choice gains made in the last election,” said NARAL Pro-choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland. “It is completely out of touch with Ohio’s mainstream values. This measure is a clear attack on a woman’s freedom and privacy.”

The proposal came less than two weeks after Rep. Tom Brinkman proposed legislation that would ban all abortions in Ohio. Brinkman, a Republican from Cincinnati, was one of eight representatives to co-sponsor Adams’ bill.

With the recent liberal swing in Ohio state government, neither bill is likely to come to fruition. However, Adams’ less extreme proposal has an outside chance of becoming law - a law that would have a major impact in Portage County and surrounding areas.

Portage has been among the leading Ohio counties in abortion-to-birth ratios since abortion was legalized in 1973. Since 1996, about 20 percent of Portage County pregnancies have been aborted - the seventh highest percentage in the state according to information from the Ohio Department of Health. The total comes to more than 4,300 abortions in 10 years.

Cuyahoga County has the highest abortion percentage with more than 30 percent of its residents’ pregnancies being terminated. Summit County is also near the top of the list with a 21 percent termination rate.

Mackura doesn’t think those numbers are likely to change anytime soon, though. Precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court indicates that, even if Adams’ bill passed, it would likely be ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

“Simply taking a look at this as a possibility is a step in the right direction,” Mackura said. “Pregnancy is a unique human condition and obviously a woman is affected differently than a man. As a woman, I can sympathize. However, to completely take rights away from the father is unfair.

“Currently, even in a marriage situation, a man has no right to even be informed of an abortion. But if a woman doesn’t have an abortion, men sure have a lot of responsibility then. It’s really not fair.”

Two nice sites recently unearthed

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Smashing Capitalism One Canoe-Pool At A Time!

That's right, I'm a friggin' genius. Screw the kiddie pools that cost money, my dual-purpose canoe rules the day.

Censored thanks to those fucking sickos who viewed the naked pictures of my daughters I accidentally put on Flickr so long ago. Note the resemblance of censored bars to frowny faces and buzz off, we're well armed out here in the woods.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

In the News: Made in China, II

From Green Baby Blog

800pxtoothpaste Remember the antifreeze-laced cough syrup exported from China and shipped 'round the world to disastrous effect? Well, it turns out diethylene glycol is back on the market, this time in children's toothpaste brands "Excel" & "Mr. Cool." And where did this latest batch of tainted merchandise come from? I'll give you one guess.

But according to Zou Jianjun, spokesman for the Chinese trading company responsible for using the chemical, none of us has anything to worry about:

"Proper amounts of diethylene glycol are not toxic if it remains uncontaminated."


Have chemicals become so commonplace that we really believe it's okay to ingest--in any quantity--the same chemical responsible for keeping our cars running smooth?

I sure hope not.

For the latest information, click here: Tainted Toothpaste.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Things I find ironic about military shopping abroad

From my friend Libby @ Diary of an Air-Force Wife - Keep up the good work overseas and give that beautiful family hugs from the pirate twins and me.

As a stay at home mommy and wife shopping for the house and the family is a big part of my job. Here are some things I found to be a little giggle inducing along the way.

Germany statistically rains 85% of the year, yet the BX does not carry rain jackets, rain boots or warm weather clothing. However, they do have a very wide variety of swimsuits, sandals and essential summer pool equipment. For that ever so average enlisted member sitting in the rain relaxing at their personal pool.

Second, in a career field where being on time is considered late and be early is considered being on time an alarm clocks is the number one item needed in making this possible it puts a smile on face that the BX does not sell ANY type of alarm clock; they do however sell six different types of 62" screen TV's.

On a base where following the US laws of car seats for children under age and weight is mandatory it is strange to see that the BX does not sell car seats. They do however sell many (MANY!) designer diaper bags.

In a job where you are required to iron your uniform daily it is funny that they do not sell ironing boards here, but they do sell many different types of irons. Though you can only by milk by the half gallon you can by many types of whisky by the gallon. Even though all the floors in base housing are hardwood the BX does not sell furniture leg protectors. They do sell a very nice selection of lawn mowers (more then a quarter of base housing is apartment living).

When shopping for shampoo you can find mostly what you need at the commissary but for all your conditioning needs you must shop at the BX on the other side of the base. You can find all your cookie sheet needs at the BX, but it doesn't do you any could because none of it will fit inside the oven.

You can also find a very large variety of drop in toilet bowl cleaners; although german toilets do not have visible, accessible toilet tanks. German toilets are designed to only provide water when flushed (meaning there is no standing water at any time) Though you will never find a toilet bowl brush in the BX.

If you are someone who like to use those throw away toilet brushes you will find many different types of refills, but you will not find any type of handle to hold those refills. For your mopping needs the commissary provides many types of floor soap, none of which can be used on porous floor tile, or hardwood; all base housing is hardwood, with all kitchen and bathroom floors being unsealed porous floor tile.

German voltage is 240 and all light bulbs need to be that voltage, the BX however sell a very large selection of 110 voltage lights.

Well as you can see there are a few things that make shopping here on Base a little surprising at times; maybe they do it to keep us on our toes.
love always

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stretch Marks for Dads: What fatherhood does to the body and the brain

Last weekend, Tufts University hosted a scientific conference on the "parental brain." Or at least the maternal brain, which was the subject of eight symposia, while fathers and their brains were the focus of just one. Once, this imbalance would have seemed inevitable, since there didn't seem to be much to say about how becoming a father affects men physically. But now, evidence is accumulating that pregnancy and parenthood leave their marks on men's bodies. Women are not the only ones who are built for parenting, and recognizing that is good for fathers and the rest of us, too.

Historically, when men did more than donate sperm to a pregnancy—by suffering physical ailments along with their wives—they got called crazy. The condition labeled "sympathetic pregnancy," or couvade syndrome (from the French word couver, or "to incubate"), describes expectant fathers who are stricken with some combination of weight gain, nausea, food cravings, backaches, insomnia, and other delights familiar to pregnant women everywhere. Until recently, couvade was relegated to the overwrought TV medical drama as a "psychosomatic" curiosity, with a list of potential causes that would please any Freudian (identification with the fetus, pregnancy envy, pseudo-sibling rivalry).

But in the last handful of years, scientists have shown that normal, healthy, non-pregnancy-envying men often undergo real bodily changes when they're expecting children. READ MORE...

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Anarchist Parenting Hero

Sorry China, my review is still pending. But I frickin' love the book! So here, I'm reposting this other review just for you. Come visit us again sometime. We're still here while you're shooting to stardom. You deserve it.

The Future Generation
China Martens Created Her New Book the Way She Raised Her Daughter--One Day at a Time

If you went to a punk show in Baltimore in the early '90s, you remember Clover Martens. She was the only toddler in attendance, a wispy-haired imp in Goodwill sundresses darting in and out of the crowd of slam dancers and malcontents. Her supermodel-tall mom, China, was always with her, available for a quick snuggle or suckle but otherwise letting her daughter zip around at her own whim.

There was sometimes talk that China Martens didn't have a steady partner to help raise her daughter, that her anarchist principles meant she wasn't going to enroll Clover in school or immunize her. One of two things (or sometimes both) crossed the minds of the callow suburban punks who'd never seen this model of parenting before: That kid is going to have an amazing life, or Is she going to turn out all right?

She turned out great. Seated next to her mom at the dining room table at a reporter's house, the now 19-year-old Nadja (nee Clover) Martens is much curvier and darker-haired than her toddler self would have indicated, but you can tell it's her in the almond-y slant of her eyes and the unselfconscious way she owns the space she occupies, in marked contrast to the cringing unease affected by some teenage girls. She says "please" and "thank you" and asks to interrupt when she's got a good idea. If she's any measure of the validity of an anti-authoritarian rearing, there ought to be Emma Goldman memorial day care centers nationwide.

"This is my new realization of my parent stage right now--of how incredibly great it is," China Martens beams. Her voice is gentle and tentative--it sucks any intimidation out of her prodigious height and enviable slimness. "Like, when you have a baby they think you're the best, and they always want to be near you," she continues. "And then preadolescent--I can't speak for everybody, but I think it's pretty common you start to not like your parents and everything your parents like is not cool. And so when they become a young adult, for the first time in your life you experience [your child] kind of balanced. They don't love you too much, they don't hate you too much, you can have conversations, you have history and in-jokes. Nobody ever told me how great it would be to have a young adult for a child."

That realization is the culmination not only of China's experience as a parent, but as creator of the zine The Future Generation, one of the first publications dedicated to alternative child-rearing. This week, Atomic Book Co. (co-owned by erstwhile City Paper contributor Benn Ray) releases a paperback collection/retrospective of China's magnum opus, a two-decade endeavor that addresses the question "What is an anarchist parent?"

"That's a hard question," China acknowledges, addressing the common conundrum of defining a political movement that resists all dogma and decree. "When you are a parent, by nature you have some control and power over this person who's smaller than you. So [anarchist parenting is] such an oxymoron in some ways. But I think that's what's so interesting about it, because that's a very practical subject." In other words, there's no room for ivory-tower hypothesizing when kids in your care have immediate needs. China agrees: "Parenting is in-your-face, daily experience."

China, who herself grew up in a "very maternal, loving family" with her peripatetically employed government-worker dad and housewife mom, addressed that immediacy in The Future Generation's very first photocopied issue in April 1990, from how the struggle to snap one last button on a fussy infant's clothes can be a microcosm of military force vs. diplomacy, to a love poem to her infant daughter: "can't say it here/ but we are revolutionaries." It's heady with the unfettered spirit of China's first years as a young mom.

"I had this very romantic, different reasoning," she recalls. "I will have the perfect witch baby, she doesn't really belong to anybody, we don't belong to anybody and we're free."

The experiment showed fruit early. Clover grew into a gentle child who was better behaved than any other kid during story time at the library. But as the years went on, China, who dropped out of high school (a decision she still stands behind: "It was the first and best radical thing I ever did."), found it increasingly difficult to provide for her daughter. After staying on welfare for eight years until the Clinton-era reforms kicked her off (just as she had just gone back to college to earn a nursing degree) she worked a variety of low-prestige jobs that could never provide enough cash. By the zine's ninth issue, she documented a humiliating venture to the welfare offices, and the pang she felt at the now preteen Clover's ubiquitous question, "When we have money, can we (fill in the blank)?"

"This is intensely embarrassing," Nadja admits with a sheepish grin. "Because when your mom is this anarchist cool writer mom, then you become, `Oh, let's go to the mall, and get a crush on all those'--I don't know any of the cutesy guys names anymore, but you know, those heartthrobs. You want to be a cheerleader and date the captain of the football team." China says she knew her daughter had undergone a sea change when Nadja declared she would never shop at thrift stores anymore because "the clothes smell."

"I went through that phase and it was intensely embarrassing," Nadja blushes. "I was just outrageously bad."

"By 16, you were great," China assures her, with a mom's forgiveness.

After positive experiences in free alternative schools, Nadja experienced tremendous culture shock when China finally did enroll her in public school in the second grade. "I couldn't take those people bossing me around," Nadja recalls. "I went through a phase where I was totally the outlaw child." And she hit a rocky patch in adolescence experimenting with the same identity crises and chemical opportunities common to many teenagers. But due to the self-discipline instilled by her anti-authoritarian rearing, she curtailed her destructive activities when their benefits became dubious.

"You think about [drugs and alcohol], What has it really brought me? A whole bunch of bad memories? And then you just stop," Nadja says. "I think for my friends who live in a house where [the parents] don't want you to do that, you do it anyway. But you do it in a more irresponsible way, a more chaos-type way, whereas I did that and I learned. I didn't go to any other crazy drug, I didn't get pregnant, because basically, you just learn."

"I also think an anarchist parent offers more to their child of being alive and doing cool stuff," adds China, who let Nadja make her own decisions on nearly every front. "Every year it's like, `Do you want to go to school or do you not [want to] go to school?' So I feel like in [an anarchist] family you have more of a model of freedom of different opportunities you can do."

Like her mother, Nadja also dropped out of high school when its limitations became too frustrating. "For years [my mom's] telling me, `High school destroys you, why would you want to go to high school?' And [then] she was like, `Do you really want to drop out of high school?'" Nadja gently jibes.

"Because I had gotten used to her conservative self," China counters. "She was always talking about, `I'm going to go to college.' So I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some kind of problem. She seemed so different, so I was concerned." Sure enough, after a stint in an alternative high school, Nadja opted instead for a GED and enrolled at Baltimore City Community College, from where she's hoping to transfer to a film studies program at UMBC. She's also started her own zine, Dildo, subtitled "Masturbation for your brain," a serendipitous continuation of "the family business" that tickles her mom.

"It's been a long trip, this parenting thing," China reflects. "And I think that's why the book's going to be really exciting because it goes through all these different eras."

"I feel kind of like a movie star, because you can really see me growing up," Nadja concurs.

Compiling The Future Generation into a book was not China's idea. "I'm a very shy person." she says. "I feel like I'm a very--it's not the right word, but like an unofficial person. Not a person who's in the media. I like the informalness of zines. So I don't think I would have ever approached anybody on my own."

After China was invited to read with Ariel Gore (founder of Hip Mama, the most prominent alternative parenting publication) on a book tour, The Future Generation started attracting more attention from places like WYPR's The Signal and from Rachel Whang, co-owner of Atomic Books and the Atomic Book Co. "When I came back from the book tour, Rachel was like, `We want to put out your first book,'" China says.

With the help of Gore, activist/friend Vicky Law, and suggestions from Nadja, China sifted through 18 years of typewritten journal entries, original cartoons, birthing photos from compatriots, and culture-jammed ads for baby wares to form the book's text. "[The zine] just wasn't really meant to be a book," she says of the herculean effort. "It was before the internet, so I would reprint essays. I was researching things in the library and reprinting things from books. I was trying to foster a network, and communication, and stuff for us to share, and it's all Xeroxed and cut-and-paste goodness." The finished book preserves some of the DIY feel of the original but has a much snappier layout that impresses China to no end. "It looks so good," she gushes.

Nadja is grown and China says she's not as much of an "active parent." ("When you're the mother of a teenager, you're wiped out. It does a number to you.") So China is refocusing her efforts on building that kind of all-ages community spirit in the counterculture.

"We [alternative parents] can't do this on our own," she says. "We fall through the holes and we wind up struggling in more mainstream things. So that's been really important to me, to build community, to not focus on nuclear families per se." After all, she has no regrets about the unconventional path she's taken raising her daughter. "Being a single mom, I got to explore and grow on my own," China says.

"Well," Nadja says as a vulnerable smile creeps across her face and everyone in the room knows what she's about to say, "You were growing with me."


I'm on a quest to dig up anything relating to parenting and children that Emma Goldman and other anarchists may have postulated or (better yet) practiced. so send anything pertinent my way!

By Emma Goldman, from Anarchism and Other Essays. Second Revised Edition. New York & London: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1911. pp. 233-245

THE popular notion about marriage and love is that they are synonymous, that they spring from the same motives, and cover the same human needs. Like most popular notions this also rests not on actual facts, but on superstition.

Marriage and love have nothing in common; they are as far apart as the poles; are, in fact, antagonistic to each other. No doubt some marriages have been the result of love. Not, however, because love could assert itself only in marriage; much rather is it because few people can completely outgrow a convention. There are to-day large numbers of men and women to whom marriage is naught but a farce, but who submit to it for the sake of public opinion. At any rate, while it is true that some marriages are based on love, and while it is equally true that in some cases love continues in married life, I maintain that it does so regardless of marriage, and not because of it.

On the other hand, it is utterly false that love results from marriage. On rare occasions one does hear of a miraculous case of a married couple falling in love after marriage, but on close examination it will be found that it is a mere adjustment to the inevitable. Certainly the growing-used to each other is far away from the spontaneity, the intensity, and beauty of love, without which the intimacy of marriage must prove degrading to both the woman and the man.

Marriage is primarily an economic arrangement, an insurance pact. It differs from the ordinary life insurance agreement only in that it is more binding, more exacting. Its returns are insignificantly small compared with the investments. In taking out an insurance policy one pays for it in dollars and cents, always at liberty to discontinue payments. If, how ever, woman's premium is a husband, she pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life, "until death doth part." Moreover, the marriage insurance condemns her to life-long dependency, to parasitism, to complete uselessness, individual as well as social. Man, too, pays his toll, but as his sphere is wider, marriage does not limit him as much as woman. He feels his chains more in an economic sense.

Thus Dante's motto over Inferno applies with equal force to marriage: "Ye who enter here leave all hope behind."

That marriage is a failure none but the very stupid will deny. One has but to glance over the statistics of divorce to realize how bitter a failure marriage really is. Nor will the stereotyped Philistine argument that the laxity of divorce laws and the growing looseness of woman account for the fact that: first, every twelfth marriage ends in divorce; second, that since 1870 divorces have increased from 28 to 73 for every hundred thousand population; third, that adultery, since 1867, as ground for divorce, has increased 270.8 per cent.; fourth, that desertion increased 369.8 per cent.

Added to these startling figures is a vast amount of material, dramatic and literary, further elucidating this subject. Robert Herrick, in Together; Pinero, in Mid-Channel; Eugene Walter, in Paid in Full, and scores of other writers are discussing the barrenness, the monotony, the sordidness, the inadequacy of marriage as a factor for harmony and understanding.

The thoughtful social student will not content himself with the popular superficial excuse for this phenomenon. He will have to dig down deeper into the very life of the sexes to know why marriage proves so disastrous.

Edward Carpenter says that behind every marriage stands the life-long environment of the two sexes; an environment so different from each other that man and woman must remain strangers. Separated by an insurmountable wall of superstition, custom, and habit, marriage has not the potentiality of developing knowledge of, and respect for, each other, without which every union is doomed to failure.

Henrik Ibsen, the hater of all social shams, was probably the first to realize this great truth. Nora leaves her husband, not---as the stupid critic would have it---because she is tired of her responsibilities or feels the need of woman's rights, but because she has come to know that for eight years she had lived with a stranger and borne him children. Can there be any thing more humiliating, more degrading than a life long proximity between two strangers? No need for the woman to know anything of the man, save his income. As to the knowledge of the woman---what is there to know except that she has a pleasing appearance? We have not yet outgrown the theologic myth that woman has no soul, that she is a mere appendix to man, made out of his rib just for the convenience of the gentleman who was so strong that he was afraid of his own shadow.

Perchance the poor quality of the material whence woman comes is responsible for her inferiority. At any rate, woman has no soul---what is there to know about her? Besides, the less soul a woman has the greater her asset as a wife, the more readily will she absorb herself in her husband. It is this slavish acquiescence to man's superiority that has kept the marriage institution seemingly intact for so long a period. Now that woman is coming into her own, now that she is actually growing aware of herself as a being outside of the master's grace, the sacred institution of marriage is gradually being undermined, and no amount of sentimental lamentation can stay it.

From infancy, almost, the average girl is told that marriage is her ultimate goal; therefore her training and education must be directed towards that end. Like the mute beast fattened for slaughter, she is prepared for that. Yet, strange to say, she is allowed to know much less about her function as wife and mother than the ordinary artisan of his trade. It is indecent and filthy for a respectable girl to know anything of the marital relation. Oh, for the inconsistency of respectability, that needs the marriage vow to turn something which is filthy into the purest and most sacred arrangement that none dare question or criticize. Yet that is exactly the attitude of the average upholder of marriage. The prospective wife and mother is kept in complete ignorance of her only asset in the competitive field---sex. Thus she enters into life-long relations with a man only to find herself shocked, repelled, outraged beyond measure by the most natural and healthy instinct, sex. It is safe to say that a large percentage of the unhappiness, misery, distress, and physical suffering of matrimony is due to the criminal ignorance in sex matters that is being extolled as a great virtue. Nor is it at all an exaggeration when I say that more than one home has been broken up because of this deplorable fact.

If, however, woman is free and big enough to learn the mystery of sex without the sanction of State or Church, she will stand condemned as utterly unfit to become the wife of a "good" man, his goodness consisting of an empty head and plenty of money. Can there be anything more outrageous than the idea that a healthy, grown woman, full of life and passion, must deny nature's demand, must subdue her most intense craving, undermine her health and break her spirit, must stunt her vision, abstain from the depth and glory of sex experience until a "good" man comes along to take her unto himself as a wife? That is precisely what marriage means. How can such an arrangement end except in failure? This is one, though not the least important, factor of marriage, which differentiates it from love.

Ours is a practical age. The time when Romeo and Juliet risked the wrath of their fathers for love when Gretchen exposed herself to the gossip of her neighbors for love, is no more. If, on rare occasions young people allow themselves the luxury of romance they are taken in care by the elders, drilled and pounded until they become "sensible."

The moral lesson instilled in the girl is not whether the man has aroused her love, but rather is it, "How much?" The important and only God of practical American life: Can the man make a living? Can he support a wife? That is the only thing that justifies marriage. Gradually this saturates every thought of the girl; her dreams are not of moonlight and kisses, of laughter and tears; she dreams of shopping tours and bargain counters. This soul-poverty and sordidness are the elements inherent in the marriage institution. The State and the Church approve of no other ideal, simply because it is the one that necessitates the State and Church control of men and women.

Doubtless there are people who continue to consider love above dollars and cents. Particularly is this true of that class whom economic necessity has forced to become self-supporting. The tremendous change in woman's position, wrought by that mighty factor, is indeed phenomenal when we reflect that it is but a short time since she has entered the industrial arena. Six million women wage-earners; six million women, who have the equal right with men to be exploited, to be robbed, to go on strike; aye, to starve even. Anything more, my lord? Yes, six million age-workers in every walk of life, from the highest brain work to the most difficult menial labor in the mines and on the railroad tracks; yes, even detectives and policemen. Surely the emancipation is complete.

Yet with all that, but a very small number of the vast army of women wage-workers look upon work as a permanent issue, in the same light as does man. No matter how decrepit the latter, he has been taught to be independent, self-supporting. Oh, I know that no one is really independent in our economic tread mill; still, the poorest specimen of a man hates to be a parasite; to be known as such, at any rate.

The woman considers her position as worker transitory, to be thrown aside for the first bidder. That is why it is infinitely harder to organize women than men. "Why should I join a union? I am going to get married, to have a home." Has she not been taught from infancy to look upon that as her ultimate calling? She learns soon enough that the home, though not so large a prison as the factory, has more solid doors and bars. It has a keeper so faithful that naught can escape him. The most tragic part, however, is that the home no longer frees her from wage slavery; it only increases her task.

According to the latest statistics submitted before a Committee "on labor and wages, and congestion of Population," ten per cent. of the wage workers in New York City alone are married, yet they must continue to work at the most poorly paid labor in the world. Add to this horrible aspect the drudgery of house work, and what remains of the protection and glory of the home? As a matter of fact, even the middle class girl in marriage can not speak of her home, since it is the man who creates her sphere. It is not important whether the husband is a brute or a darling. What I wish to prove is that marriage guarantees woman a home only by the grace of her husband. There she moves about in his home, year after year until her aspect of life and human affairs becomes as flat, narrow, and drab as her surroundings. Small wonder if she becomes a nag, petty, quarrelsome, gossipy, unbearable, thus driving the man from the house. She could not go, if she wanted to; there is no place to go. Besides, a short period of married life, of complete surrender of all faculties, absolutely incapacitates the average woman for the outside world. She becomes reckless in appearance, clumsy in her movements, dependent in her decisions, cowardly in her judgment, a weight and a bore, which most men grow to hate and despise. Wonderfully inspiring atmosphere for the bearing of life, is it not?

But the child, how is it to be protected, if not for marriage? After all, is not that the most important consideration? The sham, the hypocrisy of it! Marriage protecting the child, yet thousands of children destitute and homeless. Marriage protecting the child, yet orphan asylums and reformatories over crowded, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children keeping busy in rescuing the little victims from "loving" parents, to place them under more loving care, the Gerry Society. Oh, the mockery of it!

Marriage may have the power to "bring the horse to water," but has it ever made him drink? The law will place the father under arrest, and put him in convict's clothes; but has that ever stilled the hunger of the child? If the parent has no work, or if he hides his identity, what does marriage do then? It invokes the law to bring the man to "justice," to put him safely behind closed doors; his labor, however, goes not to the child, but to the State. The child receives but a blighted memory of its father's stripes.

As to the protection of the woman,---therein lies the curse of marriage. Not that it really protects her, but the very idea is so revolting, such an outrage and insult on life, so degrading to human dignity, as to forever condemn this parasitic institution.

It is like that other paternal arrangement ---capitalism. It robs man of his birthright, stunts his growth, poisons his body, keeps him in ignorance, in poverty and dependence, and then institutes charities that thrive on the last vestige of man's self-respect.

The institution of marriage makes a parasite of woman, an absolute dependent. It incapacitates her for life's struggle, annihilates her social consciousness, paralyzes her imagination, and then imposes its gracious protection, which is in reality a snare, a travesty on human character.

If motherhood is the highest fulfillment of woman's nature, what other protection does it need save love and freedom? Marriage but defiles, outrages, and corrupts her fulfillment. Does it not say to woman, Only when you follow me shall you bring forth life? Does it not condemn her to the block, does it not degrade and shame her if she refuses to buy her right to motherhood by selling herself? Does not marriage only sanction motherhood, even though conceived in hatred, in compulsion? Yet, if motherhood be of free choice, of love, of ecstasy, of defiant passion, does it not place a crown of thorns upon an innocent head and carve in letters of blood the hideous epithet, Bastard? Were marriage to contain all the virtues claimed for it, its crimes against motherhood would exclude it forever from the realm of love.

Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful moulder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?

Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but all the millions in the world have failed to buy love. Man has subdued bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love. Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendor and pomp his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life and color. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king. Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere. In freedom it gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely. All the laws on the statutes, all the courts in the universe, cannot tear it from the soil, once love has taken root. If, however, the soil is sterile, how can marriage make it bear fruit? It is like the last desperate struggle of fleeting life against death.

Love needs no protection; it is its own protection. So long as love begets life no child is deserted, or hungry, or famished for the want of affection. I know this to be true. I know women who became mothers in freedom by the men they loved. Few children in wedlock enjoy the care, the protection, the devotion free motherhood is capable of bestowing.

The defenders of authority dread the advent of a free motherhood, lest it will rob them of their prey. Who would fight wars? Who would create wealth? Who would make the policeman, the jailer, if woman were to refuse the indiscriminate breeding of children? The race, the race! shouts the king, the president, the capitalist, the priest. The race must be preserved, though woman be degraded to a mere machine, --- and the marriage institution is our only safety valve against the pernicious sex-awakening of woman. But in vain these frantic efforts to maintain a state of bondage. In vain, too, the edicts of the Church, the mad attacks of rulers, in vain even the arm of the law. Woman no longer wants to be a party to the production of a race of sickly, feeble, decrepit, wretched human beings, who have neither the strength nor moral courage to throw off the yoke of poverty and slavery. Instead she desires fewer and better children, begotten and reared in love and through free choice; not by compulsion, as marriage imposes. Our pseudo-moralists have yet to learn the deep sense of responsibility toward the child, that love in freedom has awakened in the breast of woman. Rather would she forego forever the glory of motherhood than bring forth life in an atmosphere that breathes only destruction and death. And if she does become a mother, it is to give to the child the deepest and best her being can yield. To grow with the child is her motto; she knows that in that manner alone call she help build true manhood and womanhood.

Ibsen must have had a vision of a free mother, when, with a master stroke, he portrayed Mrs. Alving. She was the ideal mother because she had outgrown marriage and all its horrors, because she had broken her chains, and set her spirit free to soar until it returned a personality, regenerated and strong. Alas, it was too late to rescue her life's joy, her Oswald; but not too late to realize that love in freedom is the only condition of a beautiful life. Those who, like Mrs. Alving, have paid with blood and tears for their spiritual awakening, repudiate marriage as an imposition, a shallow, empty mockery. They know, whether love last but one brief span of time or for eternity, it is the only creative, inspiring, elevating basis for a new race, a new world.

In our present pygmy state love is indeed a stranger to most people. Misunderstood and shunned, it rarely takes root; or if it does, it soon withers and dies. Its delicate fiber can not endure the stress and strain of the daily grind. Its soul is too complex to adjust itself to the slimy woof of our social fabric. It weeps and moans and suffers with those who have need of it, yet lack the capacity to rise to love's summit.

Some day, some day men and women will rise, they will reach the mountain peak, they will meet big and strong and free, ready to receive, to partake, and to bask in the golden rays of love. What fancy, what imagination, what poetic genius can foresee even approximately the potentialities of such a force in the life of men and women. If the world is ever to give birth to true companionship and oneness, not marriage, but love will be the parent.

Green Baby Blog

I applied for a job but no luck so far... looks like she's got the site up and running though. Welcome to the club. I must have been a little too radical for her. Or maybe my kind of green is a touch damper than hers. Ahhh, the 'Clean Green' parents, how I love to sit back and chuckle as they scramble over eco-friendly household cleaning products while I grab a big jug of vinegar and get the hell out of Fred Meyer, conveniently 'forgetting' it under my orange shopping cart/toddler car.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Books for Multiples!

A perfect children's book for triplets
One of the most popular children's stories on the market is Guess How Much I Love You written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram. The pair teamed up again in an equally enjoyable book called You're All My Favorites which is a perfect story for triplets. The story focuses on a family with a mother bear, a father bear and three baby bears. Each night, the parents tuck their three babies into bed and tell them they are all the most wonderful baby bears in the world. The baby bears wonder how their parents know they are the most wonderful bears in the world. Each baby bear questions how he or she could be as wonderful as his or her siblings when they are all quite different. The first worries that he does not have patches on his fur like his brother and sister. The second is concerned because she is the only girl bear, and the third bear is confused because he is the smallest of the three. The mother and father bear explain that the baby bears are all perfect exactly the way they are, and the differences between them don't matter at all. They're all still their mother and father's favorites.

Top 9 Books for Parents of Twins/Multiples
During pregnancy, I read every available baby book. When we found out that we were expecting not one -- but TWO -- babies, my husband's first reaction was, "I guess we need to get more books!" Among the numerous books about twins and multiples, many are extremely helpful; some are merely interesting, and others, well... who has time to read them all? Here's a list of some of the best.

Twins Magazine
- What a bunch of crap. I can't believe we commodify every last niche and cranny. I'm so glad I live in the woods

Friday, June 15, 2007

City of Olympia to charge parents for after-school programs???!!!

I lifted this in its entirety from Olyblog.

Thanks Emmett, this is pretty ridiculous. If they tried that shit out in Shelton (where we live), no one would show up to S.O.C.K. (Save Our County's Kids) and they wouldn't make any money off it. Sounds like a good way to propagate unnecessary domestic violence, additional youth crime and a hell of a lot more bad mojo. After-school programs need to be free to the families and kids who need to use them. We, as a community, are responsible for figuring out ways to support and improve these selfless and direly-needed organizations however possible without incurring fees on their patrons, who doubtless are fairly hard-up.

My BIG QUESTION however is this: What happens to the poor kids? The ones who get edged out of this brilliant new picture for a closer-to-self-sustaining after-school program?

Trouble is, these programs can't be self-sustaining. (Unless we install rooftop gardens, gather together some hotshot fundraisers and canvassers, employ slave labor from the kids, or get them really, really interested in making and/or selling something or themselves... which is a whole slew of cans of worms to figure out.)


Almost every week this is the "What's on the city council's plate this week" review. I don't cover everything, so if you want the full rundown, read the packet and agenda yourself.

It looks like the city council is going to start charging kids (or rather their families) $100 to attend after school programs that the city runs in several Olympia School District buildings. Which is too freaking bad, I know some parents are probably using these programs as baby sitters, but that is honestly where the need is coming from. A lot of families have two bread winners, and middle school aged (and younger) kids don't have options for supervised play outside of these programs.

Here is the meat of the city's decision making process for this Tuesday. A bit of the background (OPARD is Olympia Parks and Recreation):

During 2007 operating budget deliberations last fall, Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation (OPARD) staff was directed to prepare some options for a fee-based middle school after school program. These options would be an alternative to cutting one of the four after school sites as originally proposed by our department in the 2005 constrained prioritization process. Council agreed to continue full funding for the entire after school program through the 2006-2007 school-year to give staff time to come back with some options for a fee-based program. Council directed staff that when looking at cost recovery for the after school program to consider an amount that will make the program sustainable into the future and that will have a sliding fee provision for those students that qualify for free or reduced meals at school.
This past winter and spring, staff has met with Olympia School District (OSD) administration on a regular basis to discuss options or a fee-based program, including how much to charge and how to administer the fee collection.

During their research, it became clear to staff that a significant number of students would not be able to afford the full fee. The middle school principals estimate 30-50% of the students that attend the after school programs also qualify for the free and reduced meal program. While OPARD has a scholarship program in place for families that can’t afford to pay, we do not have enough annual donations or staff capacity to fundraise for that account to meet the likely demand that we will see on the fund.

Here is the option that city staff is recommending to the city council:

Implement a fee of $100 for 25 visits which is projected to be 25% cost recovery.

1. This fee level is reasonable compared to what many families pay for childcare or for other youth after school programs or day care.

2. This is a good starting point for the fee, both for the families of current participants to get used to the fee, and as a way for our staff to get comfortable collecting fees and gauging year to year how much revenue will be collected.

1. Implementation of any fee may reduce participation in those families that may not be able to afford the program but might not take advantage of fee waivers. OSD staff have concurred that there will be a likely drop off in participation due to stigma issues. While OSD gets high levels of participation in financial assistance programs such as free and reduced meals in elementary schools, those numbers drop off in the middle schools.

2. Current operating rules prohibit OPARD from waiving fees for some participants while charging for the same services for a different group of participants. The City’s scholarship fund does not have the resources to meet the very likely increased demand for scholarships. For this reason, staff requests a change in policy to allow us to waive fees for those children that qualify for free and reduced meals at school.

3. There will be an unavoidable shift in some site staff time spent administering the fee program, leaving less time to give participants their complete attention.

The staff ruled out my idea of trying to bring the Boys and Girls club (here and here ) in the fray:

Option 4. – Contract the program out to another agency

1. Could potentially save more than the original proposed budget cut of one site.

1. Large reduction in staff hours would impact other programs areas in which the after school staff also work. This would inhibit OPARD’s ability to sustain the large spectrum of very successful programs it runs for our public.
2. OPARD could not guarantee the quality of the program run by another agency.
3. An outside agency would still likely have to charge participants to keep the program sustained, as is the model for other current youth after school programming in the community.
4. Would have impacts to the OSD/OPARD 5-year joint use agreement. If the program was no longer an OPARD program, it would shift the balance of what we provide OSD vs. what we get in return.

Just some quick thoughts on their con points:

2. If an outside group (like the B&G club) were to come in and replace the city, would it be the city's responsibility to guarantee quality, or would it be the school district's, since it would be in a school building? It isn't like the Boys and Girls Club is a fly by night operation, they have a track record.

3. The Tumwater B&G Club charges $25 a year.

1&4. Sounds like "it would change the status quo." Duh, that isn't a good reason not to do it.

If the Boys and Girls were to come in, I'm not saying it would be cheaper on us, either through the city or the school district. It is perfectly feasible that Tumwater and Lacey both provide funds to B&G Club for their services, I really don't know.

Wow, that sucks.

On top of rising gas prices, $100 for 25 visits... that's a lot! What if you've got three kids? That's going to be very hard for some families.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Taking Children Seriously & the Future of Liberty

This chick kicks ass.

TCS: The Final Phase of The Enlightenment

Transcript of a speech given at the World Libertarian Conference in London, Ontario, in July, 2000.

by: Sarah Fitz-Claridge

Taking Children Seriously (TCS) is the name of an organisation I founded to promote the libertarian educational philosophy.

How can there be such a thing as the libertarian educational philosophy? Aren't parents in a libertarian society free to educate their children in any way they wish?

Yes. But that doesn't make every possible choice morally right, or best for the child, or compatible with the survival of the libertarian society. To satisfy these criteria, we must look more deeply than libertarian political philosophy – which is basically about how a society can run without the initiation of physical force.

What justifies both libertarian political philosophy and TCS education theory in my opinion is reason – something which, I fear, has yet to emerge in the spheres of education and childrearing.

Many parents do a very good job of bringing their children up to believe in authority and obedience to dictators, whether parents or the state. Recently, I had the misfortune to be present when someone I know was subjected to a violent attack by his parent. I was very shaken and didn't throw myself between my young friend and the angry adult, but I did manage to pluck up the courage (once I poked my head up from behind the sofa where I was hiding) to express the opinion that hitting children may not be the best way to deal with disagreements, and that it may not be entirely morally unobjectionable. Perhaps I was less diplomatic than the parent thought appropriate, because he accused me of trying to coerce him into changing his parenting practices, and then played the “children-are-property” card: “It's none of your business how I raise my child.” ...Read More...

More TCS links:

Wikipedia - Taking Children Seriously

Genius Toiling in Obscurity's take on TCS

This is not the same as that... so don't any of my Aussie readers mistake the two.

The Real Costs of Nuclear War: Radioactive Breastmilk, Birth Defects, Contaminated Food Chains

Well, I'm an Eastern Washington baby, born and raised in the downwind nuclear shadow of Hanford, so this kind of stuff hits especially close to home. If you think humans only suffer injury or death when a plant melts down or a bomb goes boom, think again. Isn't reproduction a freedom and a right to be protected at all costs? Shouldn't the health risks to pregnant women and small children, when coupled with the environmental costs and wreckage, be enough to convince people that nuclear energy is not even remotely safe and we should perhaps find better ways of reducing energy consumption rather than increasing energy production? Anyway, here's a bunch of terrible news on uranium mining in other countries and on Native American reservations, depleted uranium, radioactive breast milk, birth defects in infants due to radiation sickness acquired by their mother from working in nuclear power plants, Hanford's Environmental Impact Statement ... you know, some of that dark underbelly we don't often hear about unless we go looking.

Miscarriage, stillbirths after mining

Genetic Effects and Birth Defects from Radiation Exposure - Hanford Health Information Network

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Uranium Mining in Utah

History of Uranium in Utah

Gulf War Syndrome, Depleted Uranium And The Dangers Of Low-Level Radiation

The High Cost of Uranium in Navajo Land

Claims by uranium companies in the United States have soared

Indigeneous Peoples Call for Global Ban on Uranium Mining

Wikipedia - Uranium Mining

New Uranium Mining Projects in the USA

Libertarian Socialist Alliance for Self Managed Energy Systems

Australian Message Board on uranium mining and a nuclear waste dump

Online Book on Uranium Mining in Saskatchewan

Industries that are Harmful to Women

Fighting breast cancer: A Native woman's journal

Miners' health may be the cost of a nuclear future

Cancer mortality in a Texas county with prior uranium mining and milling activities, 1950–2001

India's Uranium Nightmare

Final Hanford Site Solid Waste Program Environmental Impact Statemant January 2004

Hanford Comprehensive Land-Use Plan
Environmental Impact Statements

September 1999

Uranium mining left a legacy of death

Manuel Pino at

Uranium Mining and the Laguna People

The First Carnival of Radical Feminists

Thanks to my gang down under at for bringing this to my attention:

The First Carnival of Radical Feminists

I can't wait until we have stuff like this organized for fathers and groups of young men.

Other recent highlights from my radical anarchist sister:

Trafficking of Women and Children

Raising children collectively…

So I hacked the tip of my left thumb off with a two-century old sugarcane harvester about a week and a half ago. That's been a joy to deal with. Got to learn how to shuffle cards, change diapers, garden, shower, dishes, etc. with no left thumb. Give it a shot sometime, it's trickily challenging and it might even be fun if you were only pretending to be a crippled gimp. Good thing my gorgeous girlfriend has been around to pamper me and help with the near-impossible tasks.

Still plugging away on my goddamn lawn and garden, trying to knock most of the grass down before the girls' birthday bash on June 2nd (e-mail Steph or I for details if you're planning on attending). Camping with your favorite crazies, big and small! Anyway, I've devised a brilliant system for kee
ping the deer (and my stupid cats) out of my garden:


just kidding. i just curse at the deer and throw kids books at my cats and dream of the days (next year?) of fancy fences when my future fat wallet learns to be a little less fickle.

Despite my infrequent posts and scattered correspondence skills, Pirate Papa has been getting more and more traffic. I just have yet to find that happy medium of personality and privacy demanded by this marriage of publicity and parenthood. So as soon as I find my new voice we'll get this hunk 'o junk really up and running.

Thanks to my faithful, loyal audience (friends and strangers alike) and to all those weirdos who find my site through google image searches or strange poorly spelled pornographic searches resulting in the mangled english versions of my twin toddler's twisted talk. It takes all kinds.

Had a great trip to Walla Walla with Hannah and the girls. More decompression time (there's never enough) at my old cabin near the Oregon border. Girls got Grandma and Grandpa time. All those friggin' books got worked on and over a bit more, the slow evolution of our little book empire.

My vegetables are thirsty and so my words must wait until this clock again corresponds with the proper channels of inspiration, piled-up notes and housework apathy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No Nightmares, Please - Why is so much children's poetry full of sadism and doom?

A nice piece by my new internet buddy.

by Jeff Gordinier

One day it dawns on you that your kid has watched too many episodes of Dora the Explorer. Every time the Dora character known as “Map” shows up on screen and sings, “I’m the Map I’m the Map I’m the Map I’m the Map,” you entertain private fantasies of dousing him in lighter fluid, torching him with a match, and giggling uncontrollably while he flails in agony. If a cartoon inspires this much raw hatred before you catch the train to work, it’s probably not a good idea for your kid to watch a ton of it.

So maybe you want to expose your children to fine poetry instead. Which is great, except that you live in a country where some moron makes way more money than you do by writing lyrics like “I’m the Map I’m the Map I’m the Map I’m the Map,” so you’re sort of on your own. And when you come right down to it, reading poems to your adorable offspring is, like breastfeeding, much harder than you think.

When I first tried to introduce my daughter to the wonders of verse, I thought I would kick things off with a couple of haikus, mostly because they are super-short, so she wouldn’t have time to run away. I picked up a collection by Basho, the magnificent Japanese poet of the 17th century, opened the book at random, and flipped to this:
Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die
Ummm. Gosh, I thought . . . impermanence, death, a melancholy beauty—couldn’t we wait until kindergarten before we got into all that? (Now, if only it was the Map who was about to croak . . . ) I flipped around, and up came this little gem:
Whore and monk, we sleep
under one roof together,
moon in a field of clover
Uh, no. Won’t be reading that one...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Nature Deficit Disorder

Just got a copy of the Book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder and started reading it today. It is reinforcing a lot of ideas I knew to be true, having grown up in forested seclusion, and helping me realize a whole skill set of which I was only vaguely conscious until recently. Will toss up a review upon completion (which at my current speed of reading might be one or two months unfortunately). In the meantime, here's what the web has to say:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Alternative Medicine in Danger!

Speak Up For Health Freedom
by Owen Waters

You wouldn't think it could happen in the USA.

"The land of the brave and the free" is about to become a lot
less free unless enough of the brave stand up and voice their
opinions by April 30th.

The Food and Drug Administration plans to pass laws to
"protect" you from alternative health care, complementary
medicine and natural supplements.

If the FDA passes these proposed laws, you will no longer be
able to buy vitamins, visit a chiropractor, acupuncturist or
massage therapist... UNLESS you first obtain permission from a
medical doctor.

Now, I don't know how much your M.D. knows about natural
health care. Most of the doctors that I've met so far know
nothing beyond how to select the most capable, poisonous drug
to SUPPRESS the symptoms of illness. I have yet to hear one
talk about actually CURING an illness.

If this legislation passes, you will no longer be free to make
your own natural health care choices. The medical doctor from
whom you will HAVE to seek permission will have no knowledge
whatsoever of the many natural therapies which actually help to
CURE illnesses.

Make no mistake about it. While medicine has made great
strides in the last few decades, we are still very much in the

Alternative and complementary medicine IS the future. It is
from these fields that the miracle cures of tomorrow will
emerge... unless these emerging alternatives are squashed and
you are left in the tender care of the poisonous drug industry
and their Medical Doctor sales force.

In fact, this thinly-disguised ploy for power over your body
sounds more like the brainchild of a greedy drug industry
rather than the public servants whose duty it is to protect
you. With this legislation, they plan to protect you so
vigorously that, should you try to work around it, you will
face fines and prison.

Time is running out. The period for public comments on this
proposal ends on April 30, 2007.

The Health Freedom USA organization has made the public
comments process easy with a pre-defined petition to the FDA.
Just add your name to the list and you'll be joining hands with
millions of caring people just like yourself.

Either visit their web site at or,
better yet, use this direct link to their active campaign:

Sunday, April 8, 2007

times change as often as diapers

So I've spent less time with my grls in the past week and a half than ever before in their lives and I realized that I have to get used to this... because they won't always be two and a half, because they're growing up before my very eyes, because they have friends and family above and beyond the sheltered care I've given them on this first leg of their journey in the world.

It's an interesting melange of ecstatic joy at my own slowly rediscovered freedom, painful lonliness at losing little bits of myself selflessly gifted to these gorgeous creatures I call my daughters, realizing at the same time that they are not mine, or anyone else's for that matter. They belong to themselves and I can never change that, only grow and guide and change alongside them.

Almost gone are those days I've grown so accustomed to, lounging around most of the week at the farmhouse pretending the rest of the world doesn't exist. What comes next? Little roving packs of young children, activities with friends, maybe school, daycare, whole weeks with grandpa and grandma and not me. I imagine the next several rungs of the ladder all the way up to begging for the car keys, worrying about sex and whether it can ever be 'safe', sneaking out at night, college, careers, lovers of their own, families, grandkids, legacies, all those brthdays tumbled into one another. What would it be like, having the same birthday as your closest friend and sister year after long or short year?

Breakfast beckons. I shove this tangle of emotions back down inside before it bubbles over completely, that metaphorical bucket of crabs we always kick around like old stories or rusty cans...

Friday, April 6, 2007

Gone A Spell, Back Again

I beg no forgiveness for my recent absence. A much needed vacation in Walla Walla, with a serious theme of self-improvement and re-creation. Girls get grandparent time, I get time with Hannah, some book work done, and a nice four night stint at my childhood cabin. Head muddled, diet unsatisfactory, head cloudy but clearing. We arrive back past seven tonight, Hannah makes a marvelous feast for us. I put the girls to bed as Tomas from Rad Dad arrives with his daughter, her friend and Artnoose in tow.

Catch their Radical Parenting & Radical Letterpress presentation at Last Word Books Saturday night at 7pm!