Reading and Children

blhbullshit

First, nobody “attacked” the child.  Nobody “mocked” the child.  Nobody “mocked” the content of the books.  They are perfectly fine books—for a three-year-old.

We attacked you, Nicole.  We mock you.  You and Joe are abysmally awful parents.

But I want to play your other game.  Reading and children. That’s the subject, is it?

You quote some stats. You don’t link to any of them, so they are relatively difficult to ferret out.

However, you make some really contradictory statements in there.  First, you insist that reading scores are dropping.  Then, at the end of the next paragraph, you say that “stats haven’t changed much in the past decade.”

Which is it?  Are they dropping?  Or are they staying the same?

Well, the fact is that they are staying the same.  Or at least, that’s how it appears.  There doesn’t appear to be data to tell us what has been going on in the past decade or so, but for the decade prior to that, it held steady.

Now maybe you have data I don’t, Nicole, but you didn’t cite it. You just asserted shit without bothering to tell us where you got it beyond saying “according to the NEAP.”  I don’t care to spend my entire afternoon searching through that website to find that wee bit of info, so I will sort of ignore it.  I suspect you didn’t either.

I suspect you visited some pro-homeschooling (or more likely, pro-unschooling) site and just did a bit of copy and paste.

However, if you look at the stats, they are instructive.

For instance, you blithely quote:

Only 25% of college graduates are deemed proficient.

And then you start the hand-wringing.

But what does that mean, actually?  What is “proficient” when it comes to this data?

proficient
click image to link to source

It means really, really good at it. So that 25% figure is not what Nicole thinks it is.  She’s implying that 75% of college graduates are functionally illiterate and that is simply not the case at all.

I knew when I read what she wrote that she was totally misinterpreting the data terribly.  It’s impossible for 75% of college graduates to be unable to read adequately, especially in light of this.

earnings
click image to link to source

If 75% of college graduates couldn’t even read, why would they consistently make more money and be more employable than those who hadn’t attained those levels of education?  Why would an employer pay somebody that much more money if they couldn’t function on the job?

If 75% of college graduates couldn’t read, they also wouldn’t have been able to learn any history or much math or much of anything else. They wouldn’t be any more educated than a high school dropout. Yet they consistently earn more than twice as much.

Either employers across America are colossal dumbasses or something is wrong with Nicole’s assumption.

In addition, about 10% of college students in the US come from other countries. Now, either they are extremely stupid and come here to spend lots of money for a very sub-par education where they might not even be able to read when they get done, or something is wrong with Nicole’s assumption.

That’s why I knew that “proficient” didn’t mean what she thought it meant.

That does not mean that “proficient” means the exact same thing regardless of the testing or data you are looking at.  But it does mean that college graduates pretty much know how to read.

She laments:

. . . reading levels aren’t improving and children and even adults aren’t reading for pleasure.

I dunno about that.  I mean, I am not disputing the whole “people don’t read for pleasure” thing, except I would suggest that you need to define “read for pleasure” more specifically.

I am a reader.  A really big reader. I have been ever since the day I was taught how to sound out vowels.  I am a college graduate. I read for pleasure. I enjoy fiction, non-fiction, the phone book, recipe books, I don’t care. I read.

My husband is also a college graduate. He does not read books. We’ve been married for 46 years. I do not remember him ever reading an entire book for pleasure in that whole time.  He reads parts of books.  He looks up stuff. He’s completely literate. He graduated with honors. He reads to keep up with the news. He just can’t bear reading fiction.

“Reading for pleasure” is a great thing. I don’t know how people like Dave survive without doing so.  I just know that they can and do and they are often completely and totally literate.

One thing (reading for pleasure) does not equal the other thing (literacy).

proficient2
click image to link to source

Here’s some newer figures from the ebil gubmint.  In this case, what is “proficient”?  Does this mean that only about a third of grade-school students can read or do math?

proficientdefinition

There’s the definition. You decide what that means.

And remember, factored into all this are all the students, not just a select group. So special-needs students count, those who are struggling, and they skew the percentages down.  You’re never going to see percentages in the 90’s or even in the eighties no matter what.

belowbasic

Just as an aside, if you find this stuff interesting, take a look at the page I’ve snipped from and scroll through it.

Then come back and try to tell me education doesn’t matter.

So the argument for stricter homeschool laws completely missed the bigger picture.

And there comes the Great Leap.

Nicole’s assertion seems to be that since most college graduates are illiterate, unschooling is therefore marvelous.

This is ridiculous, of course.

Here are the US rates of illiteracy.

usstats
click image to link to source

Note that, 14%.  This is with 91% of our population completing high school.

But here are countries that rely heavily on “unschooling.”

illiteracyrateforeign

Going to school in one of those countries is tough. Most people can’t.  In many of them, women don’t go ever, period.

But Nicole has told us, time and again, that kids will just learn to read all by themselves. They don’t need any damn teachers.  They just learn.

Why don’t they learn in Afghanistan?  Why don’t they learn in Chad?

And if they just learn all by themselves, why is she even having the conversation at all?  What’s the point?  Just leave the kids alone, like she does, and they too will be reading books intended for three-year-olds when they are nearly ten.

 

 

 

Reading

mommybooks

The child who bought these books is almost ten years old. In the real world, she’d be in the 3rd grade.

These books are suitable for pre-schoolers. They aren’t “books” in the sense that the child is expected to read them. They are “picture books.” They are intended for non-readers, for parents to read to their kids before bedtime.

When I first saw this, I wanted to give Nicole the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the kid bought the books for her younger siblings.

But then, Nicole says, that we should notice the theme. In other words, the child bought the books because this is what interests her. Being a mommy interests her. We’re supposed to think that is adorable. It makes me want to cry.  But she’s telling me that the child bought the books, using her own money that she earns making bows and washing dogs for almost nothing, because that is what she can read.

I get the idea that often, for entertainment, children will read below their grade level. I raised a son. He did that sometimes. And sometimes he read books that were actually far above his grade level, especially if they contained information he wanted to know about.

But this is not even close to that.

Here’s a sample from the book on the bottom right, Little Mommy.

littlemommy

The whole book is like this. Two rhyming, very simple sentences maximum per page. Some pages only have one line.

It’s a picture book. You read it to your 3-year-old.

It’s also sort of interesting because the child in the book uses a washing machine and has a kitchen and lives in a real house, but that’s another story.

What does the average ten-year-old read?  Not an exceptional, greatly advanced ten-year-old, but just an average one.

minnacover
click image to link to source

Here’s a sample.  This comes from a reading list for third graders.

minnasample

It doesn’t take a genius to see the difference.

No pictures. Lots of words on the page.  Bigger words, like “telephone” and “forsythia.” Numerous metaphors. The number “fourteen.” Greatly descriptive, almost poetic sentences.

Nicole and Joe Naugler are not educating their children. I know it. They know it. The whole world knows it. CPS knows it.  They are simply not educating those kids.

In my view, this is the most egregious thing they have done. Isolating them is bad. Neglecting them is bad. Living in a damned garden shed is horrible. Blaming them for not being able to run a fucking “homestead” is terrible.

But not educating them should be a criminal offense. The fact that the state of Kentucky allows them to get away with this infuriates me.

UPDATE:

I have been corrected by several folks, some of whom also have the child’s date of birth, and it seems she would be in 4th grade.  (It’s been a long time since I dealt with school children.)

This, of course, only makes it worse.

Here’s a sample book from that grade level.

cricketcover
click image to link to source

cricketsample

 

Real Food

vitamins

I hate vitamin supplements.

Well, I don’t hate them, but the evidence indicates that they are not necessary for most people in first world countries under most circumstances.

We used them in a hospital setting, but that was with people who were already ill.

There are diseases that can cause vitamin deficiencies. My mother is a good example. She is a celiac.  Not the fake “I’m gluten-sensitive” currently popular type, but the real deal. She was celiac long before being gluten-intolerant was cool.  In addition, she contracted non-tropical sprue (an intestinal disorder) just after World War II when she was en route to the United States on a bride ship from Australia.

The doctors had no idea what was wrong with her. They didn’t know about either condition. One specialist told her she probably had leukemia.

At any rate, as a result, she became very deficient in Vitamin B-12 and had to take shots. I remember her doing this when I was a child.  She gave them to herself which always fascinated me.

When I went to nursing school, I bullied her until she went to see an internist I knew and he diagnosed her as celiac just from a  brief conversation (later confirmed with actual tests).  Her gut began to heal and she no longer needs the vitamin shots.

So that’s an example of a necessary use of vitamin supplementation.  Pregnancy is another. (Folic acid tablets are simply too easy and cheap to risk spina bifida by not doing it.) But most people don’t need them. As one of my doctor friends used to say, all people are doing is creating very expensive urine. That is because the usual first-world diet has all the vitamins and minerals any human being needs.

So here I agree with Nicole.

I will pause for a moment while you pick your jaw up off the floor.

Eat real food.

But then she just drives right off the cliff.

“Real food.”

There are two big problems with her statement.

First Problem:  Nicole is the biggest hypocrite on the planet.

chocolatecake

Chocolate cake for breakfast.  It’s obvious that 13 people didn’t have chocolate cake for breakfast unless she bought six of these, so one assumes that Nicole bought it and hoarded it for herself, but still, she had cake for breakfast and dares anyone to criticize her.

For the record, as you’ll see, I’m not critical of her choice. I’m critical of her bullshit hypocrisy.

hardees

See? They’re at Hardee’s, having “real food.”

hardees2

They go there a lot, as you can see.

gyro

She’s gonna go get her a nice gyro.  “Real food” from the takeout place.

icecream

Here’s some “real food.”  How much do you bet she bought this someplace?  We have ice cream here too.  Sometimes we buy it, but often we make it from our cow’s cream.

nachos

And she starts them young with that “real food.”  Super nachos from Hardee’s.

softdrinks

Just so you know, Alex Jones is a blithering idiot and ninety percent of the stuff from his site is total bullshit.  “Chemicals” in soft drinks are fine. They are not “habit forming” or “addictive.”  The problem with too many soft drinks is too much sugar.

drpepper

If that is the case, why in the world do you post shit like this, Nicole?

starterkit

It’s quite true that nicotine and caffeine and alcohol are all mind-altering drugs.  (I’m not sure why the Mars bar is there, except for the idea that somehow sugar is bad, which it is not – unless they are representing chocolate, and Nytol and Ritalin aren’t pretending to be anything at all other than drugs, one by prescription and the other over the counter).

I don’t consume caffeine in very large quantities because I have a problem with rebound headaches if I do.  It’s present in chocolate, but in small quantities. And alcohol, while it is a drug, is nice in small amounts and I partake from time to time, but have rarely been drunk.

However, there is no evidence, zilch, nada, that would suggest that if you use alcohol or caffeine or nicotine, you are somehow going to progress to other drugs.  None of those substances could remotely be considered a “starter kit.”  This is nonsense.

And that leads me to the second point.

Second Problem:  What in the hell is “real food”?

Nicole loves to talk about this. She likes it because it’s all healthy and homesteady and it makes her sound like Earth Mother.  Everyone nods sagely and agrees.  “Just eat real food.”

When people say this, I tend to exit the conversation because what is going to follow is complete bullshit.

What most people mean when they say “eat real food” is “don’t eat processed foods.”

But that leads directly to another question.  What are “processed foods”?

If you look up the definition of the term, you’ll find stuff all over the map.

processedfooddefinition

So from this definition, which is not really very accurate (more in a moment about that), we get two main things: packaged in something, and contains the dreaded chemicals.

Exactly how are you supposed to get your food home from the store if it’s not packaged in something?  Even if you buy fresh produce, they put it in a bag.

Chemicals.  Sigh.  Everyone has spasms about chemicals. Salt is a chemical, folks.  Sugar is a chemical compound.  You are a bunch of chemicals.

Some artificially produced chemicals are very dangerous indeed.  For example:  ethylene glycol. That’s the stuff in anti-freeze. Don’t let your pets near it.  Some artificially produced chemicals are preferable to their “natural” counterparts:  melatonin, for example (“natural” melatonin can be toxic, artificial melatonin is much safer, if you’re going to take that shit, which I do not.)

Chemical is not a dirty word.

processedfooddefinition2
click image for link to source

So here’s a better definition of the term.  “Processing” is whatever you do to food before you eat it.

cannedpeaches

Here’s some peaches being processed, put in cans so people can store them on the shelf for a considerable length of time.

cheese

And here’s some serious food processing:  cheese. The factory takes milk and adds some chemicals (rennet, which by the way is almost entirely GMO in America and has been for decades, and salt), heats it slowly and then presses the hell out of the curd that results.

These are processed foods.

peachescheese2

So are these.

The difference is that the last picture was taken by me in my kitchen of my canned peaches and my cheese.

There is virtually no difference nutritionally in my processed food and the photos of the factories above.  None.

If you take a tomato and slice it, you have processed it.  Here I am, processing some meat.

butcheringmeat

But, you say, that’s not what people mean when they talk about “processed food.”

I know.

They mean this.

junkfood

I blew that photo up and tried to identify some of the foods that are in it, and was surprised to see Jif. It made me laugh.

Peanut butter is the food that held me together when I was a kid. I love the stuff.  I still eat it often.  And I have eaten every kind of peanut butter there is, creamy, crunchy, “natural,” “processed,” homemade from peanuts that we grew ourselves.  All of it.  I love it no matter what, but I greatly prefer the processed stuff because it spreads better.

They also have Kraft Singles in there. You know, cheese.

Oh, and Wonder Bread, as though that is really bad.

bread

Here’s a loaf of my bread. To make it, I begin by grinding whole wheat berries into flour. That’s called “processing,” by the way.  When I mix up the loaf, I put chemicals in it.  I add salt, gluten flour, and something called “dough conditioner.”

doughconditioner

That’s what is in it.  I use very little (that 3 tsp serving size is for a whole loaf of bread).  It makes all the difference in how the bread slices and stores and everything. I’ve been using it for years, and so do the Wonder Bread people, and so does every other bakery in America.

The truth is that there is very, very little difference between my bread and Wonder Bread when it comes to nutrition.  I prefer mine for two reasons: it’s cheaper and it tastes better.  But if I’m in the middle of house-remodeling like I am right now, and my kitchen is torn all to hell, I have no qualms at all about buying a loaf or two of bread from the store. We grumble a little but it’s fine.

The truth is that America’s food is some of the best in the world.  The quality is high.

We shop largely at Aldi. It’s cheap and so are we, so it’s a good fit for us. One major reason that Aldi is cheap is that there are few choices.  If you go in there and want a bottle of ketchup, you will find one size, one brand. Take it or leave it.

Do you want eggs? Aldi has eggs.  One size, one kind. That’s it.

The other day, I had to shop at Kroger for the first time in about three years (other than running in there for an occasional item that Aldi doesn’t carry).  I found that experience to be a little unsettling.

I needed those two things, among others:  ketchup and eggs.  There were so many choices I had difficulty.  I just wanted plain-Jane ordinary ketchup, but I was faced with 15 different kinds and brands. I wanted a dozen eggs, but there were ten different brands and kinds. I nearly had a meltdown right there in the store.  And that was a small Kroger. They’ve put in a very large one in a neighboring town and I’ll be damned if I will ever put my foot in it.

My point though is that we have a lot of food available and there is nothing wrong with any of it.

Take that photo of the Naugler baby and the nachos.

There is nothing wrong with nachos, even from Hardee’s.  Corn chips, and cheese, and probably salsa and maybe some sour cream.

Our problem is that we have so much food that we eat too much of it, and I am guilty of that.

But, you say, we need to eat more food as it comes from nature.  Why? What is the difference between my canned peaches (or the commercial canned peaches) and a peach?  The answer is pretty much nothing.

Where we screw up is that instead of those canned peaches, which are identical nutritionally to a fresh peach, we eat peach ice cream or peach cobbler.

And that leads me to sugar.

It gets a bad rap. People carry on like it’s tantamount to eating arsenic.  It’s not. Sugar is good stuff.

And there is virtually no difference at all between ordinary white sugar and honey or molasses or any other sweetener (artificial ones excepted). All of them are sweeteners, and all of them provide basically “empty” calories. And none of us need to eat mountains of any of them.  Honey is not “better” for you than sugar.

But I think most parents already know this basic stuff.

But what about this?

chili

Nicole posts these types of photos and I see people go off on her for it.

This particular “chili” is fine as far as I can tell.  I’m not sure we’d eat it because I don’t think Dave would like it.  It’s not how I make chili.  But that’s okay.  There is nothing at all wrong with any ingredient in it.

But it’s not what is conventionally called “real food.”  It’s mostly processed foods from cans all dumped together in a pot.

godawfulrice

And there is this.  Nicole admits this is bad, and I agree with her.  It’s not that it’s bad food – it’s not – but holy shit, how do you screw up something that horribly?  It looks like she dumped some raw rice and water along with a package or two of frozen mixed veggies in a crock pot and thought magic would happen.

joechili

First, would somebody please steal that bowl from these folks and destroy it?  It looks like the inside of one of the plastic buckets they use for. . . well, you know. . .

Second, what in the hell is that?

Beans and rice or beans and noodles are good foods. You don’t need meat with every meal, even if you’re a growing child. Beans are a great food and Americans should eat more of them.

But damn, what is that?

Seriously, if Nicole can’t come up with better stuff than this, she needs to quit lecturing us about “real food.”

broccolitomatoes

Here’s an example of what is so disingenuous about her.  She says that she has “eliminated. . . most processed food.”

No, she hasn’t. Not even close.  Not even slightly.  In fact, she eats as much processed food as anyone. Do  you think nobody else has ever eaten cherry tomatoes before?  Or raw broccoli in a salad?

hamburgers

Note the photo of the “real food” for dinner.  Hamburgers on white bread (store bought), sliced tomato, fried potatoes.

There is nothing at all different about that than this.

bigmacfries

Please understand that I am not saying that Nicole’s food choices are bad.  I have never said that. I know people do say that, but I’m not one of them. There’s nothing at all wrong with having a hamburger with some fried potatoes and sliced tomatoes.

I don’t find fault with her menu postings (she did some on one of her blogs and people had conniptions because of their supposed inferior nutritional content.) I sometimes make menus like that and just because I write down “Tuesday: spaghetti” that doesn’t mean that spaghetti is the only thing that will be offered.  There will probably be a salad and bread and maybe some fruit for dessert.

What I am criticizing is her attempt to appear all “natural” and homesteady while the reality is that she eats just like the rest of us, only she appears to be able to consume Joe’s can-dumping “chili” and I know I couldn’t do it. I am criticizing her little memes saying that we don’t need vitamins because we should just eat “real food,” when she doesn’t eat any different from anyone else.  I am criticizing her claims that they have “eliminated processed foods” when they absolutely have not done that at all.

She’s fake.  You know, fake, like store-brand cola instead of the Real Thing.

 

 

 

 

Here Comes the Bride

nicoleneighbormarried

They are already doing better than some.

Yeah, they are doing great. Still both teenagers, and one still a minor, with jobs flipping burgers for minimum wage, and they’ve “bought” a rent-to-own shed to live in without basic plumbing or heat or a kitchen or anything.  Neither one owns a car.  She’s pregnant and they are not married. They’ve known each other for a matter of weeks. She had another boyfriend as recently as late August.

Doing great.

The truth is that they face a seriously steep uphill battle.  I hope they do fine. I doubt they will.

In today’s society, 46 percent of teen marriages will end in divorce before reaching their 10th year.

But this was written by a woman who is married, yes, with an “intact” family.  Wow, she’s great, ain’t she?  She has a husband.

Here they are, the happy couple.

with Joe on phone

And that is the “kitchen” the children built because that lazy good-for-nothing piece of shit standing there in his filthy clothes looking at his phone does almost nothing else except eat, fuck, and sleep.

But Nicole is all proud.

She didn’t even marry him until after she’d had several children.  Six, I think?  Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.  And he, of course, had one by another woman while estranged from Nicole for a while. So doesn’t that mean that Joe has children by two different mothers?  Why is that different from having children by two different fathers?  Why does Nicole even bring that up, except to imply that having children by different fathers means that the neighbor is a whore?  That is, of course, what she is wanting us to understand.

And she works at a gas station.

She works.

Unlike Joe, who does not work, and cannot keep a job even if he had one.  Unlike Nicole who works washing dog butts and “owns her own business,” but only because Pace Ellsworth loaned her the money for reasons only he understands (she could not possibly get a loan for anything at a bank – she and Joe can’t even get the electricity turned on).

Please tell me what is wrong with working at a gas station.

And please explain to me why it is different that the neighbor is living with her parents, while the kid and girlfriend are also living on his parents’ property, albeit in a different shed.

Yet, with this history, Nicole has the gall to criticize the neighbor, to act like somehow her 17-year-old, who knocked up the very first girl he could find once he got some limited freedom from the Blessed Little Shithole, is doing “better than some.”

But here is the real question.

What is all this about marriage?  To get married, you go down to the courthouse (gasp!) and get a license (double gasp!)

You get a license. You get permission from the state.

The state.

Why is that a virtuous thing to do, Nicole?  Why is it a pejorative if the neighbor is not currently married?  Why are you such a hypocrite?

 

 

Sex Ed, Unschooling-Style

dating convo

This comes from a couple of months ago.  I find the timing interesting. Nicole, it seems, is suddenly interested in what you do with teenagers who have hormones unleashed and are dating.  How do you handle it?

What follows are about a dozen comments, many of them talking about house rules that involve no shacking up and no opposite-sex visitors in the bedroom behind closed doors.

So Nicole asks:

pregnancy

And Charles, our favorite sockpuppet, who is quite obviously female by the way, prefers no shagging by minors.

I found this sort of mystifying since the Nauglers have no bedroom doors anywhere at all.  What could she be thinking of?  The old shitshack where the older boys supposedly live now?

And after that are more than 20 additional comments, most of them saying about the same thing.

Basically this: teenagers get horny and screw around.  You know, like Joe.

joesexed

What do they do on that property all day?  I thought they were #unschooling?  Is there no sex-ed class?

rabbits

 

Akubras and Accomplishments

[WARNING: I’ve included a few graphic birth photos here. If this might bother you, just don’t read it. They aren’t human. ]

war brides

My mother and father met in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia at a servicemen’s club.  Mom was a local volunteer. Dad was an American GI. It’s a relatively familiar World War II story. [Note: my mother is not in the photo, but she sure could have been.]

In 1987, my mother went home for the first time since 1946, and I went with her. We stayed three weeks and I got to meet all my Aussie relatives.

While we were there, I bought some souvenirs for Dave and Nathan waiting at home in America.

Among those were three Akubra hats, one for each of us. Here’s one of them.

akubra on stand

inside hat

And there’s the inside of the hat.  Notice the size tag?  It’s upside down (I had to either have the name of the hat right side up or the size).  It’s also metric. In American-speak, that would be an extra-large.

This is Dave’s hat. Nathan’s is very similar and it’s the same size.  Mine is much smaller.

That’s because Nathan and Dave both have/had large heads.  When I bought those hats, I had to sort of guess about Nathan’s hat size. I knew Dave would take something fairly large, but I wasn’t sure about Nate, and in 1987, calling America from Australia to ask about a head measurement was a ridiculous idea, so I guessed.

I guessed that because I had to have a C-section when he was born due to the fact that his head simply would not fit through my pelvic opening (it was simple math – and I know, math is hard – but it was pretty simple), his hat size might be very similar to his dad’s.  I could not have strained harder or worked longer or made up my mind to fit Nathan through my pelvic opening. He wouldn’t fit. The circumference of his head (even if it smushed down a bit as vaginally-born babies’ heads do) was greater than the circumference of the opening.

So I guess that he might need a large hat.

I guessed right.

So, what does this have to do with anything?

Glad you asked.

it is an accomplishment

Nicole is all peeved, it seems, because the post about Dr. Tuteur wasn’t about her.  It’s sort of amazing, really. She insists that I should just write about somebody else or something else, so I did. I thought that would make her happy.

It didn’t, as you can see.

And no, Nicole, nobody thought you should be offended. Nobody gives a damn whether you are offended or not.

But this is just so interesting.

It seems that either Dr. Tuteur or I (I’m not sure who she is insulting here, and don’t care) “can’t handle the biological aspect of motherhood.”  Can’t handle it.  What does that even mean? Dr. Tuteur has four children, so I suspect that she did just fine “handling” it.  I had one, and couldn’t have any more, so I’m an abject failure, I guess.

Nicole believes that conception and birth and breastfeeding are somehow gauges of the worth of a female human being.  Can’t do it?  You’re a failure. Don’t wanna do it?  You’re a bigger failure. Do it a whole lot?  You’re a super success.  Do it without any help?  You’re a bigger success.

Nicole thinks that having 11 children via “natural childbirth” and breastfeeding them is an accomplishment. I was so delighted to find this out that I jumped right up and ran out to the pasture to tell Frances.

frances looking

“Frances!” I yelled. “You are accomplished.”

She gave me that look.  You know, like above.  The what-in-the-hell-are-you-talking-about look.

“Nicole says you are accomplished,” I said. “You’ve had lots of calves. You give lots of milk. You’re accomplished, Frances.”

You see, Frances has had five calves since she came to live with us in 2011, and she had one little bull calf before we met her.  And we think she’s bred again (hopefully).  She pretty much has a calf every year.

She has had actual sex with an actual bull exactly twice.  Both times a one-night stand, which is all cows ever have, since they are only in heat for about 12 hours at a time.

She was with a bull for her first breeding at the dairy. They do this on purpose. The bull is better at breeding those heifers than the farmer is with artificial insemination, and they generally keep a small bull hoping that he will father a small calf and thus make her first calf easier to deliver.

And we think one of our bull calves got her bred a few weeks ago. That was a total accident. None of us thought that calf was old enough to do the deed, but I think he managed to surprise us. It was obvious that they’d had a fine time during the night when we went out the next morning. [It’s okay if she is. We know who did the deed, and he’s nicely purebred and registered and not related to her, but still, it was unplanned.]

Anyway, that’s it.  Every other time, she’s been bred via AI.  No bull, just a farmer and a long straw thing.

Little sperm meet an egg and bam!  you’ve got a baby.

And then, just like in people, about nine months later (283 days to be exact about it, give or take a few), you get this.

feet showing

Those are feet. Front feet. Tops up, bottoms down. The white part is the hoof.  Exactly perfect.

feet head

And a bit later, the head emerges (it’s on top, eyes closed, nose on top of one of the front legs).  Again, perfect position.

Frances with calf

A few minutes later, and a bunch of good pushes, and we have this.  Meet Claire.  Frances is doing her mother thing, but don’t let her fool you. This will last for about 2 hours and then she’s done.

She’s all finished with that part of her “accomplishment.”  She scratches it off the list and turns the new baby over to the nursery staff (me and Dave) and heads for the pasture and the older calves that she can boss around.

Now, how much urging did I have to do to get her to do this?  Answer?  None. How much effort did she have to initiate to get this process started?  Answer? None.  Do you suppose she could have stopped the process?  Answer?  No.

Oh, and she breastfeeds, of course.

Sort of.

Frances milking

Frances is a very modern gal and she prefers it like this, thank you very much.

She produces enough milk, not just for one calf, but for five at a time, plus a pig, plus all the milk Dave and I can drink, plus our butter, ice cream and cheese. Usually, she makes about six gallons of milk daily at her peak. This slowly decreases during a lactation period down to about three gallons a day. We then dry her off for two months and she calves again and it all repeats.

And she “accomplishes” all this with massive effort on her part.  Just massive.  See?

Frances grazing

There she is, working hard.

Frances grazing

And here.  The calves with her are the age she prefers. She is Boss Cow and that’s how she likes it.

She expends no effort at all to do all this. Other than those two nights of bull sex, she does absolutely nothing to have all those calves and make all that milk. She doesn’t cause it and she cannot stop it.  She would and has calved with nobody present at all, although we try not to have that happen.

In the photos I showed, I did nothing but take pictures. I didn’t help her in any way.  In a couple of calvings, we did intervene and pull the calf, but that was mostly because it was midnight and during an ice storm and we were all cold and tired and wanted to go to bed. She would have had him anyway if we’d just waited. [There is some evidence that once the head emerges, the sooner the calf is born the more likely you are to have a good outcome, so pulling them is not a bad idea.]

And obviously, nobody can help her make milk.  She can’t strive to make milk. She can’t keep from making milk. She just eats and sleeps and it happens.

We do not have to go out to the pasture and say, “Frances, you go girl. You just work at it and make that milk.”  Or “Frances, how is that calf coming along? Are you working hard at growing it?”  Or “Frances,  you have to work harder, hon. That calf is not going to grow himself.”

And after we milk, she gets neck scratches (probably her favorite thing in the world), but we don’t say, “Frances, thank you for trying so hard today and pushing that extra bit and making that extra pint.”

Nobody says to the dairyman, “How much milk did your cows accomplish today?”  Or “How many calves did your cows accomplish this year?”  Or “Is this cow really good at accomplishing stuff?”

Giving birth is not an accomplishment.  It’s a natural phenomenon that happens after a female mammal has sex and conceives. Making milk is not an accomplishment. It just happens all by itself.

This is an accomplishment.

carving wood

This is also an accomplishment.

graduation

Here’s somebody accomplishing something.

reading children

And here’s somebody else accomplishing something.

dog groomer

But being a brood cow?

Not so much.

Banned

 

banned books week
click image to link to source

This week is Banned Books Week.  This is a subject near and dear to my liberal, free-spirited heart and Nicole has chosen to talk about it so I am delighted to join in the conversation.

Banned Books Week is an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association to do a couple of things: make us aware of books that have been banned in the past, for various reasons, and in doing so, spark an interest in and conversation about the idea of censorship.

I despise censorship. I want to be upfront about that from the start. You know how Nicole and Joe love, love, love the Second Amendment?  Well, that’s how I am about the First one.

I was raised by a very religious mother who, fortunately for me, was pretty liberal when it came to reading material. I couldn’t wear slacks, and I couldn’t go to movies, but she didn’t really pay much attention to what I read. And I was a book worm.

When I was about 11, my grandfather gave me a book.  It was a large one-volume collection of the works of Mark Twain. It has really thin pages, sort of like a Bible. I loved it. I still love it, because I still have it. I was going to take a photo of it, but we’re remodeling and my books are stored away in boxes for the moment.

Anyway, I am quite sure that my grandfather never read the book. I know for certain my mother never did. They just saw “Mark Twain” and thought Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer and that was as far as they thought.

Those novels, of course, were included in the book, but so was a story called The Mysterious Stranger. If you are unfamiliar with the work, please click on the link and scroll down to the several quoted paragraphs toward the end of the piece.

mysterious stranger

My grandfather and my mother totally forgot (or didn’t know) that Mark Twain was a cynic and an atheist.

And I read every word of that book, more than once. Please imagine a child of about 11, taught that the Bible is totally true and Jesus is totally real, reading that quote from The Mysterious Stranger after being totally invested in the story. It had a profound impact on me. I’ve never forgotten my horror and it’s been about 55 years.

My point here is this: Just because a child has the intellectual capability of reading adult literature, just because she can read the words and understand what is being said, does not mean that the child has the emotional capability of processing the information without some sort of guidance. It wasn’t that Twain was wrong.  I am an atheist (now) and share his views.  The problem was that I was young and I really needed to be able to talk with some adult about the issues raised and I couldn’t.

I didn’t tell my mother about the story.  I knew what would happen if I did. She would have taken the book away from me.  I didn’t want censorship, but I certainly needed conversation and a bit of guidance.

Keep that little anecdote in mind as we continue.

I think I’ve written about this before, but hell, I’m old, and I can repeat myself if I want. When we lived in Alaska, I volunteered at our local library.  Here it is.

library

I was not only a volunteer librarian, but I also was the treasurer. I served in that capacity for much of the time we lived there (about 9 years). So I know a little about how libraries work and how they are funded and how to manage one, albeit a teensy one.

library funding

In Alaska, our little library was funded several ways. Our primary funding was via a state grant, given to us by the legislature every year. We were never exactly sure how much we would get.  It all depended on how much the legislature approved and how many libraries applied for funding.

We were required, as a condition of receiving the funding, to raise a comparable amount from the community. During the time I was there, we experimented with several ideas for fund-raising (our least-favorite thing to do), and came up with a sweepstakes, which has remained in place ever since. They, in fact, are getting ready for it right now.  We sold tickets for $100 a pop, and the ticket served as entry to the party (held at the local community club, complete with food) and the subsequent drawing. Multiple prizes were given away, mostly cash.

The third thing we got in terms of funding was E-Rate. That is a federal program which allowed us to have telephone and internet service at very reduced prices. This facilitated offering computer access to the public.

So, the library was (and still is) funded by community donations, by state grants and by federal dollars.

But nobody told us what books to buy or what to offer and what to do about any of that.

The contents of our library were determined entirely by the library’s board, and I was on that board, so I know how the decisions were made.

Libraries are finite. They are not Amazon. They can’t have every book that has ever been printed in them. Shelf space in a library is valuable space and none of us were ever cavalier about the decision to place a book on the shelf or to remove it.

We used to weed books (and that’s what we called it – “weeding”) about twice a year.  We got boxes, divided the library up in sections and began working. We had come up with criteria to help us make decisions, involving how often the book had been checked out (circulation), whether or not it was considered a classic (subjective, but we had to start someplace), and whether or not we had lots of books on the same subject (repetitiveness). A book that just sat on the shelf doing nothing got removed.

And once all the books that were weeded were in the boxes, we all went through the boxes and pulled out those we didn’t agree with tossing. And then we argued about it, politely.

In the end, a whole pile of books left the library to be donated, were sold for really cheap, or went to the dump.

Every now and then, we got a complaint.  It didn’t happen often, but it did happen.  We actually had a form, if I remember correctly, that people could fill out if they wanted to complain about something, and that included the inclusion (or exclusion) of any book on our shelves. Typically, a complaint would come from a parent who thought that a particular book in the children’s section wasn’t appropriate for one reason or another.

When that happened, we would discuss the issue in the board meeting.  Most of us were very pro-free speech and loathe to do any censoring of any sort (a very common feeling among librarians in general), but we did agree that there should be fairly obvious areas for picture books, for children’s books and for young adult books, so that parents could easily determine which shelves their children were browsing. And what generally happened was that we’d agree to move a particular book from the children’s area to the young adult area.

Our reasoning centered around the issue I raised earlier with my little story about Mark Twain and The Mysterious Stranger.

When I was in the twelfth grade, the principal of the school, Mrs. Polly McKay, called me into her office to have a chat. It seems that the school librarian had reported to Mrs. McKay that I had checked out East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Mrs. McKay felt that the book was too mature for my tender years.

I remember being astonished.

I asked her to please explain to me why, if the book was too mature for me, and I was in the twelfth grade, what the book was doing in the library at all.

She had no answer.

Libraries have to make choices about what to put on their shelves and what to either never buy or remove.  It’s a problem that is perennial and thorny.

libraries
click image to link to source

Here’s another kind of twitchy problem. Somebody in our little community donated the entirety of the Left Behind series to our library.  You wanna see a really shitty series of books?  Get volume one of that series and start reading. I give you about ten minutes. Awful.

And it wasn’t one book. It was a bunch of books. Sixteen of them.  That’s a lot of shelf space for shitty books.

But if we refused them, we’d be accused of religious discrimination. We knew that. We’d also have hurt the feelings of somebody in a very small community.  We had no desire to do that.

So we tolerated them for a while.  They, naturally, due to sheer shittiness, did not circulate worth a damn, and after a year or so, they began to disappear. I hope they are all gone now.

My point here is that nobody made these decisions for us. We met as a board of directors, we got input from the community, and we took a vote.  It was always difficult and we tried very hard to err on the side of free speech.

And the state government, those folks that gave us our grant, and the federal government that furnished us with the E-Rate credit on our telephone and internet access had zero input into any of this. Absolutely none.

album banned books
click image to link to source

From Nicole’s Blessed Little Homestead Facebook page.

Notice that she insists that “the government” bans books. And then she puts up pictures of books that at one time, some place, were banned. The implication is that all book banning is done by the US government. She doesn’t explicitly say that, but she is certainly implying it.

The US government has not banned a book in decades.

And then she tells us to read banned books, because anarchy.

How about reading, period?  How about reading banned books because they contain often-controversial subject matter?  How about making sure that if you allow children to read that sort of stuff, you also provide them with guidance and a bit of conversation?  How about providing children with age-appropriate books, and teaching them to read in the first place (doubtful at the Blessed Little Property)?

Canterbury TalesIf you’re going to complain about literature being banned, and in doing so, you’re going to use hashtags, spell the name correctly.

There are zillions of books in print. It’s not possible for anyone to read all of them. I know, because I have made a valiant effort to do just that and have failed miserably.

And not every book that has been banned should be given a glance or any valuable time to be read at all.

Here’s an example.

Elders of Zion

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a book I’ve never read, except for excerpts. I have no intention of ever reading it.  If you really can’t bear it and want to read it, Google it and you can find a copy online. I am 67 years old. Why would I want to waste my time, as little as I have remaining, to read a piece of shit like that when beautiful books like The Jewel in the Crown (my current Audible book) are out there beckoning to me?  Why would I waste time with a complete fraud of a book that has led to so much anti-Semitic hatred and violence?

Should the book be banned?  I do not think so.  However, I doubt I’d vote to give it library space if I were still sitting on the library board.

challenged books
click image to link to source

Here’s a list of books that were “challenged” (meaning that some library got a complaint about the book) in 2015. Notice how often the reason given is “unsuited for age group”?  That’s exactly what I was talking about in my Twain story. It’s a very subjective issue and a thorny one. And it’s difficult to know what to do about it, if anything at all. One solution involves making sure that parents realize what subject matter is involved in books their children check out.  Does that mean putting a warning sticker on the front?  (That would increase circulation, I bet!)  I don’t know, but I do know that the issues are real and all sides have reasonable concerns.

Just like we had to do at the library, you have to make these kinds of decisions at your house.  What books are you going to spend time reading? Which ones are worth bothering with?  Which ones will you buy in hard copy form and store?  Which ones will you read and discard?  You can’t eat at every restaurant in the world, and you can’t read all the books.

Choose carefully. Choose wisely.

The government does not care what or how you choose.

Citizens

One cold winter day in 2009, I happened upon a podcast and started listening to it out of sheer boredom. Tim Turner was describing how you could get out of paying your mortgage or having your house repossessed and end up owning it free and clear.

Since we already own our little farm outright and were in no danger of losing it, I don’t know why the whole thing intrigued me, but it did. I supposed it was because the guy was so obviously bananas.

This was back when lots of folks were in serious trouble with home foreclosures and job losses and people were pretty nervous about the economy. And this guy was doing a seminar on how to beat the system.

He threw around a lot of legal-sounding phrases and big words, like his listeners would understand what the hell he was talking about, and sounded astonishingly similar to Joe Naugler, as a matter of fact.  Lots of talking but not much communicating.

In one of his weekly calls, in another example, a follower asked Turner to explain what really happened when an alien spacecraft supposedly crashed in 1947 near Roswell, N.M. His reply was reminiscent of a tabloid headline in a supermarket checkout line: “I’m not going to tell you they [aliens] exist or don’t exist. What I’m going to say is every nation on Earth, or every industrialized nation on Earth at least, has a treaty with them.”

[From an article on Turner at the Southern Poverty Law Center.]

That was my introduction to the weird, wacky world of the sovereign citizen.

SPLC article
click image to link to source

This article is probably the best overall explanation of the movement and their basic beliefs. The most interesting part to me of all this is that the sovereign citizens movement is basically racist and originated mostly in the white supremacy community. And this PDF is a longer, more comprehensive history and explanation of the movement.

amazon

You can even buy books by sovereigns telling you all about how to flood the courts with worthless documents and how you too can end up in prison (like Tim Turner did).

The name thing is also bizarre and sort of fascinating. They believe that their name spelled in all capitals is not really their name at all and that they can get out of legal obligations just because they sign their name as Sally Davis, instead of SALLY DAVIS.

I laughed some more when these madmen sent letters to all fifty governors of the various states demanding that they step down from office “or else.” It was all just so funny.

But then along came Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son, Joe.

Kanes

Here they are. An overweight pompous asshole of a father, and his innocent-looking, just-on-the-cusp-of-manhood son.  Jerry, in this video, was doing a seminar. You can listen to some of it if you like.  There is a whole series of these videos. The seminar was all day.

Jerry and his son were in Arkansas about a year after the video above was filmed and got pulled over by a couple of policeman on a routine traffic stop. While the policemen were occupied talking with the father, the son, this 16-year-old boy, produced a rifle and fatally shot both of the policemen. Jerry and Joe then fled, only to be surrounded a while later in a parking lot and killed by the police.

It was a terrible tragedy that didn’t have to happen.

It happened because Jerry Kane indoctrinated his son in a bunch of bullshit that included an over-inflated sense of their own importance, a complete disdain for the duly-authorized legal system from the courts on down to the local police, and extreme paranoia.

Jerry Kane, that jackass in the white suit, got both himself and his boy killed.

For me, the incident made the whole sovereign citizen thing not nearly so funny. I hadn’t realized how close they were to violence. Obviously, those cops hadn’t realized it either. After the Kane tragedy, police officers started receiving training in how to recognize sovereigns and how to handle them so that further incidents like that would not occur.

I bring all this up because Joe and Nicole Naugler, while describing themselves as voluntaryists, use language and seem to embrace concepts that originate in the movement. Pinning an ideology on the Nauglers is difficult if not impossible, as they are basically opportunists.

Nicole has said that she is a “voluntaryist.”  Before venturing down the Blessed Little Rabbit Hole, I had no idea what that was.

Think of it this way. The big category is “Christian.”  Under that, we have “Protestants” and “Catholics.”

The various sub-sects of “Protestant” include those on in the mainstream, like Episcopalians or Lutherans, and those on the right, like Southern Baptists, and then the really extreme bunch, like independent fundamentalist snake-handling Baptists.

And that’s very much the way libertarians are.  Like Baptists, there are all sorts of sub-groups. There are the basic mainstream libertarians, who are bonkers but pose no threat to anyone about anything. And there are all the spawns, the off-shoots, many of whom are lumped together as “patriots.”

Sovereign citizens and voluntaryists and anarcho-capitalists all fall into that latter category. Sorting out the differences between them is a bit like trying to figure out what the difference is between Southern Baptists and Free Will Baptists and Primitive Baptists. They fuss and fight over definitions between themselves, but nobody else cares. They are all Baptists.

And like Baptists, these sub-groups have core ideas they share, things like “government is bad,” “laws restrict freedom,” “taxation is theft,” “the police suck dirt,” “courts are all corrupt,” “government is all corrupt,” “to be free, nobody can tell me what to do.” That sort of thing.

anti

I have dozens of screen shots like this, where Nicole shares some post of Larken Rose’s.

I’ve talked a bit about Larken Rose here and in another post about voting. But what I didn’t mention is that Larken Rose is one of those voluntaryist-anarchocapitalist sorts. (If they combine any more words, we’ll have a hyphenated jungle.) And that’s a close, close sibling to a sovereign citizen.

Nicole loves Larken Rose.  She hangs on his every word and shares many of them. She even steals them outright without attribution.

business law

She doesn’t like laws pertaining to her business. She doesn’t like it that the state wants to insure that if I walk in there, the building will be safe and not collapse, the workers will be paid appropriately (unless they are her own children, in which case slave labor is acceptable), there is a recognizable entity for me to sue if I am cheated, and that she is not permitted to skip out on paying her fair share of taxes.

theft

Oh, yeah. I forgot. Taxes are theft in Nauglerville.

law you won't obey

Notice the threat here? You’re a slave. You need to figure out when you are going to rise up and revolt. At what point will you do that?  You need to think about it.

No, I’m not, Larken, and no, I don’t.

laws immoral

Thankfully, Nicole does not hold any elected office. There are good things in the world and having her washing dog butts is one of those good things.

government control

Apart from the fact that the little graphic above is inaccurate (being a socialist does not mean that you think government should control all  your food sources or clothing sources or even housing except for the needy, and the differences between a classic conservative and a classic liberal are way more numerous and varied than universal healthcare), the point Nicole is offering up here is that she doesn’t believe in government of any kind at all. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

dangerous lumped

So, see, even Nicole lumps the various sects of this so-called “Patriot” movement together.  And she knows that there is a violent, dangerous streak in there.  She knows perfectly well who Jerry Kane was, and I bet she could name many of the other sovereign citizens or similar types who have clashed with law enforcement and ended up either in prison or dead.

don't condone violence

Two options.  Just two. Black and white.  Either, or.

What about option C? Authority is given with the consent of the governed (it is – Nicole just won’t vote because her guy generally doesn’t win, so she took her rubber duck and left), so we honor that even if we don’t agree with it.

For her, there is no option C.

And she’s not condoning violence (yet), but she understands it. Yeah, we all heard her screeching at Sheriff Pate to shoot her, and screaming at her boys that the police would shoot them.  I remember that.

don't condone violence 2

And this is what her unschooled kids are being fed. Violent uprising might be the only answer.  The state has no authority.  The police are the enemy, and violence against them is “understandable.” Law about things like sanitation and business licenses are evil and have no validity.  It’s courageous and commendable to scream bloody murder at a sheriff.

daylight savings timeEven the family jokes involve how dumb and useless and stupid and incompetent the government is.

I think that is exactly what Jerry Kane fed his son, Joseph.  And I really believe that when Jerry Kane heard those shots and saw those police officers fall and realized that his son, who I’m sure he loved, had just killed two officers, he was the most shocked person on earth.

When I listen to Jerry Kane on those videos, I am reminded of men like Ted Haggard (the fundamentalist preacher who ranted about the evils of homosexuality while having a gay affair). They say stuff from the pulpit all the time that they really don’t believe or do. Jerry Kane wasn’t going to actually do enough law-breaking to get put in actual jail.  He was just going skate close so he could trot around the country and give seminars in his white suit and get paid for it.

We all do this to some extent.  “I will not do that,” we say vehemently, until we calm down a little and realize why we are going to have to do exactly that, or a somewhat altered version of that. It’s called adulting.

Joseph Kane was not an adult, though. He, like all adolescents, was just starting to learn about how idealism and reality sometimes (often?) clash, and how you have to figure out how some sort of compromise.

And he was listening to his father ‘preach’ from the pulpit of governmental hatred, childish narcissism, and paranoia.  He absorbed the lessons.  He believed them.

The result was catastrophe.

I’ve wondered what was running through Jerry Kane’s mind as he madly drove away from that scene.  He had to know that if the police found them (and he had to know that they would), he and Joseph would very likely be killed in the ensuing situation. He was a dead man driving, and in the vehicle with him was his son, also as good as dead.

Did he frantically try to figure out a way for his son to survive even if he didn’t?  Did he want to give up?  Did they argue about it?

We’ll never know.

 

 

 

 

 

Civilization

CPS

Really?

The telling sentence is this one:

This is what CPS found upon their initial investigation.

What does that mean?

When was “their initial investigation”?

The Nauglers have been living at the Blessed Little Property since the fall of 2013. And they have had three different “dwellings” since moving there.

Here’s the first one.

First shed

It was a garden shed, just like the current garden shed (more or less).

According to Nicole’s account, they returned it in order to save the monthly payment, and because they were headed into winter (fall of 2014), they built the infamous Blessed Little Shitshack, where they lived until Child Protective Services came down on their heads in May, 2015 and took the kids.

But here’s what she says during the period right after they got the first shed.

eleven days

So, according to Nicole’s own account, the “initial investigation” by CPS occurred eleven days after they moved into the original, first garden shed.

With Nicole, you have to read carefully, because she often chooses her words to deceive.

She’s not saying that CPS thought the Blessed Shitshack was a great place to live.  She is saying that CPS, with whom the Nauglers are very, very familiar having had frequent visits from them throughout the years, thought that the original garden shed was okay.

The children were removed in May, 2015, and when they were returned, it was to the second garden shed. And Nicole and Joe had to get that one delivered before the children were returned.

They try to spin this every which way, but it just won’t spin.

They cherry-pick the situation, and say that the Guardian Ad-Litem was the only person who didn’t just faint with delight at the Blessed Little Shitshack and its quaint features and rustic ambiance.  The CPS folks found it beautiful and more than adequate.

But Nicole is the same person who has insisted over and over again that the whole CPS thing is all over. Case closed. They found nothing at all except that the Nauglers failed to notify the state they were “homeschooling.”

under CPS move

You know what?  We moved interstate with a minor child and we never even thought about CPS or anyone else for that matter. We just moved. That’s what people do when they don’t have a current, open case with Child Protective Services. When you cannot move without “the court” putting you “under that areas [sic] CPS,” you have an open case.

CPS visits

. . .we still have CPS visits. . .

Yeah. That’s called “we still have an open CPS case.”

But this is what Nicole wants her leghumpers to believe was found to be “structurally sound” and “clean and well organized.”

I’ve left them large (click to see them), so you can appreciate the “structural soundness” and “cleanliness and organization.”

If Kentucky’s (or any other state’s) Child Protective Services thought that mess was a “structurally sound, clean and organized” place to raise children, we have a very serious problem with Child Protective Services.

These people are not ideal poster children for some sort of silly protest against the perceived injustices of Child Protective Services. They are, instead, the sort of people who absolutely need CPS to watch their every move, hopefully until the last child is of age.

excreta