What Are Rights?

I’m talking about the broader sense of “rights”, not rights that are specifically listed by some document written by a bunch of 18th century lawyers.  I’m talking about the concept of rights.  How do you define that concept?

Do rights encompass all of the things you’d simply like to have?  Are they the things that are necessary to sustain life?  Are they the things necessary to live comfortably?  Maybe everyone has a different answer.  For me, the easiest way to answer the question is to consider the things to which I’m entitled.  And for me, the things I have a right to end where the rights of others begin.  I’m able to determine which rights I have by defining the rights, or entitlements, I don’t have.

I’m not entitled to anything that requires a sacrifice on the part of anyone else.

I may covet these things.  I may try to trade for these things.  I may wait for others to decide to give me these things.  I may even try to convince someone to give me these things now.  But I can’t take these things, at least not morally.  Sounds reasonable enough, right?  We can agree is true?  If so, then we must also (by logic) agree that the contra positive is true.  More specifically, I am entitled to anything that does not require a sacrifice on the part of someone else.

If that made sense, keep reading.  If your brain is already scrambled by the terms “entitled”, “contra positive”, and “logic”, that’s cool.  Just come back in a few hours…I’ll be posting another edition of “The Roost” later tonight.  I pride myself on providing a little something for everybody.

Continue reading “What Are Rights?”

Your Mom Gave Me Her Number

Kids TattooSVD has made a great find. No need to keep up with your kid anymore, just give them some ink and you’re done.  I can already see where this is headed–kids running wild in zoos, amusement parks, shopping malls, and strip clubs.   Wait, I meant shopping clubs and strip malls…sorry.  Meanwhile their moms will all be sitting on park benches reading books or taking naps on cots waiting for their cell phone to ring and tell them their kids have broken something–again.

You know, parenting gets easier and easier every day. Who knows, maybe one day, when someone develops the technology, there will be a box you can put your kids in front of that will hold their attention for hours on end.

One less thing to worry about, ya know?

A New Feature

Hat tip to Coma for telling me about Toonlet. This blog is about to get a lot more fun, due to the abundance of characters I’ve known in my life and the amazing things they’ve said. I can think of no better place to start than with the one man quote machine, Rooster. I give you “The Roost, Episode 1”

How Do You Deal With Difficult People?

Mimzie trips them.

As we were walking in, I opened the door to walk in, but a man was on his way out and nearly knocked us both down as he bolted from the place. How did I handle this? My instincts kicked in and I stuck my foot out and tripped him. I have to say, I enjoyed it.

I wish I’d thought of that. It’s so much more subtle than tackling. Also more socially acceptable.

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Firefox 3 Running Well

Firefox.  Yeah.I’ve been using the beta 5 version of Firefox 3 all day today, and I must say that I can tell a pretty big difference in speed between it and Firefox 2.x.  I always suspected knew there were (a few hundred) memory leaks somewhere in Firefox 2, but I’m still not sure if most of those were in the browser itself or in one of the extensions I was using.  So far I’m running version 3 without any extensions, but I’ve been running it since this morning with no slowdowns, lockups, or crashes.

Of course, I’ll have more to say when Firefox 3 is officially released, but you could always install
. It’s free, and that way you’ll be automatically notified the instant version 3 is officially released, right?  I mean, for all of its minor issues version 2 of Firefox is still far superior to Internet Explorer.

Some Good Reading

Unfortunately, I don’t read as much as I used to–at least not books. I actually spend most of my time reading, but that’s mostly on the web–techie stuff, blogs, news, and millions of emails. I don’t get much of a chance to read fiction just for fun except in my, uh, “office”. Lately I’ve been reading a book of American short stories, and there’s some really good stuff in there that I’ve never read before.

I just finished “Imagine Kissing Pete”, which is a John O’Hara novella and part of Gibbsville, PA: The Classic Stories, which is going onto my “to read” list. The story follows a couple through a troubled marriage as seen through the eyes of their friend, the narrator. The story itself is interesting enough to keep your attention, but there are little bits of commentary scattered throughout that really make it a great read:

Prohibition, the zealots’ attempt to force total abstinence on a temperate nation, made liars of a hundred million men and cheats of their children; the West Point cadets who cheated in examinations, the basketball players who connived with gamblers, the thousands of uncaught cheats in the high schools and colleges. We had grown up and away from our earlier esteem of God and country and valor, and had matured at a moment when riches were vanishing for reasons that we could not understand. We were the losing, not the lost, generation.

I’d never read anything by O’Hara, so I went to check him out on that there Wikipedia. I found even more to like about him and his writing there, like his support for Barry Goldwater and this quote from one of his coworkers at The New Yorker:

“Oh,” writes Gill, “but John O’Hara was a difficult man! Indeed, there are those who would describe him as impossible, and they would have their reasons.”

He sounds like a real jerk–someone I’d love to either drink or argue with. Either way, we’d both have a good time.

Part of the Solution

After being part of the problem (and not just the problem I’m discussing here) for most of my life, I think I may have taken a step in the right direction towards redemption. Of course, without The Missus I’d still be inciting bedlam at every turn. But she’s got a lot more heart and a lot more smarts than I have, and I’m just riding her coattails with this one.

We’ve launched Reading Coach Online. It’s a FREE educational resource for parents who want to teach their young children to read or help their older children become better readers. The idea is to provide research based information on how children learn to read along with lesson ideas and activities for all ages that address all aspects of reading (phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension). Strong reading skills make learning every other subject, even math, much easier. The ultimate goal is to help parents give their children the foundations to become lifelong learners.

Did I mention it’s 100% free? I did say that it is free, right?

As a reader of this blog, I’m sure you are thinking what every other reader is thinking–this guy seems barely literate himself, what does he know about teaching kids to read? A good question, and I have an excellent answer–not much. However, I’m lucky enough to share a home and child (along with half of everything else that used to be “mine”) with a reading expert. We’re both kind of nerdy, and we talk about reading and learning quite a bit. She has not only an amazing knowledge base on the subject, but has the unbelievable ability to explain things in a way that even a dolt like me can easily understand. She has experience not only as a classroom teacher, but also as an elementary reading specialist and an educational consultant for one of the large curriculum publishers.

In a former life, she was paid to travel to school systems to train and evaluate teachers on effective reading instruction. School systems pay a lot of money for this training, but we thought the same information should be readily available for parents on the web. The research is available (if you are into reading that stuff), there are some resources out there for use in the classroom, and of course there are expensive curricula available for home schoolers. What has been missing is an easy to digest source of information that can be used by parents at home for free.

We’ve been kicking this idea around for about a year now, and a couple of months ago I freed up a large chunk of my schedule, giving me more time to bond with the kid and her more time to research and write–a doubly good situation. We had plenty of ideas of things to do with the site (feel free to forward your suggestions), and plan on adding more and more features as we go. Currently there is a strong base of articles that explain the basics of reading instruction along with a series of lesson ideas (one will be added daily) that can be read and implemented by parents quickly and with very few materials.

I know this sounds like it would cost money, but it’s free. Really. We’re even footing the bill for shipping and handling.

I’m really proud of the work we’ve done with Reading Coach so far, and I think it will be a valuable resource for parents/grandparents and even teachers. Please take a couple of seconds to check it out, and feel free to drop us a note with your thoughts or comment on any of the articles or lesson ideas you find interesting or helpful. And if you find spelling or grammar errors, please be gentle. We’re constantly proofreading and finding stuff!

The Root Cause of the Insurance “Problem”?

I think Coma has hit it pretty much right on the head, and many people may not be seeing the complete picture…

If I didn’t need health insurance, I sometimes wonder how my life would be different because I think I would have probably gone down a different path in the last five years.

That’s strong. So let’s think about this. What would be the result if health insurance were disconnected from employment? I mean, it’s not a far-fetched idea–they don’t pay for your auto-insurance do they? But most people need their car to get to and from work every day. And you’re not even required by law to have health insurance like you are auto insurance (at least in Tennessee).

I realize when I read posts like this that I’m not the only one who is a slave to my health insurance. I wish it were different but it’s not.

Would I be self-employed if it weren’t for this issue?

The answer is yes.

For all of the complaining large companies and corporations do about rising health care premiums and cost of insurance, taking the power (because that’s exactly what it is) of providing health insurance away would be even worse for them. Imagine a mass exodus of people away from their “real jobs” and into other sectors of the work force. We’d probably see a rise in entrepreneurial ventures–would this be a bad thing for our country as a whole? Or maybe lots of people would choose to work for smaller established companies that are doing interesting and innovative work–doing exactly what they love to do all day instead of something they hate just for the “benefits”.

Sounds crazy and paranoid, right? Maybe. But have you ever asked yourself why Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) are only available only to people with high deductible insurance? I can’t think of any reason other than the fact that making HSAs available to everyone would result in a large number of young people saving like mad during their first 10 years in the workforce so that they could afford the risk of striking out on their own in their 30s and 40s. And who would that hurt? I can’t think of anyone who would be more hurt by this than large companies. An easy solution? Lobby to make sure their employees are not eligible for HSAs because the deductible of the health insurance provided by the company is too low.

Let’s take that line of thinking to its logical end, and I’ll ask the question again in a different way. Who has the most to lose by people being able to obtain health insurance without an employer?

As an aside for all of you out there who are supporting one presidential candidate or another because they’re promising you they’ll have *shudder* the gov’ment “give” you health care, I hate to break it to you…

Not. Going. To. Happen.

There are too many people with too much money that can’t afford for this to happen. They’d lose every truly industrious and intelligent worker they have. And if you truly believe that any of the three candidates with a shot to win aren’t in the back pocket of some large business; if you truly believe that any of the three wouldn’t sell “hard working average Americans” down the river in favor of big business in a heartbeat, you probably aren’t smart enough to read this post to the end and understand it anyway. But thanks for trying.