Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More on the FLDS case.

"FLDS teen gives birth to boy as state officials stand by."

I am horrified. The more I hear about this case, the more it disgusts me. The authorities were seemingly upset when this young girl gave birth to her baby, not because she had issues with the birth or was undernourished or shooting drugs, but because someone informed her mother and her mother came to be with her while she labored. Hell's bells, any girl would want her mother with her while she was in labor! Especially so in a close-knit community like that. My gawd.

Worse, FLDS says the girl is 18. CPS says she's under 18. But none of that matters, because the legal age of majority in Texas is **17**. They say they took 463 children from the YFZ Ranch, yet the girls (and at least two of the boys, apparently) claim to be adults. Worse, CPS apparently decided their ages "by eye." We're told the females were lined up and some CPS person pointed and said, "You look under 18, go over there."

Some facts, from Introspection of a Plural Wife (at heart):

There are a total of 463 FLDS children - 250 females, 213 males - in state custody in Texas. Here is a breakdown of that count:
* 0-2: 101, 49 females, 52 males
* 3-5: 99, 46 females, 53 males
* 6-9: 131, 68 females, 63 males
* 10-13: 62, 34 females, 28 males
* 14-17: 42, 27 females, 15 males
* Disputed age: 26 females, now classified as 17 or younger.
* Two boys who turned 18 while in state custody also have voluntarily chosen to stay with younger boys.
Source: Texas Child Protective Services

She points out something that was itching in the back of my brain: the fact that a few days ago, CPS was unable to give any accurate information because there were so many children involved. They hadn't figured out all the names, ages, or who was pregnant and who wasn't. Now, suddenly, they know EXACTLY how many pregnant women there are? We're told in other CPS reports given to newspeople, that there are 31 pregnant women (or perhaps 30, after this one just gave birth) under 18, and 53 females between the ages of 14 and 18.

These facts are odd, though. Since the age of consent is 17, and girls with family permission can marry at 16, why should we be counting females who are 17? Why should we be counting girls who are 16 and married? Other statistics given by reporting agencies claim there are only 4 girls pregnant, and only one of those under the age of 16, and she wasn't married and had run off and "done the nasty" with her boyfriend (gee, THAT never happens outside of the ranch, right?) without parental permission.

There is a lot of lying going on. I'm sure some of it is from the ranch, and I'd like to see any and all cases of abuse prosecuted and punished. However, there are MANY charges that should be faced by the Texas authorities. What they have done in this sweeping raid is disgusting! It should never have been allowed to happen.

And as one commenter said in an article that I read today, there are thousands of Baptist teen girls pregnant, in and out of wedlock, in America... what do you think would happen if CPS raided THEM? What about the "child labor" claims, about how awful it is to make their children work their farm land? Should we now raid the Amish, who do the same thing?

If abuse is present (and in a community that size, I'd be surprised if there wasn't any), then bring forth charges and let us all see. That's the law. Let those accused of abuse see their accusers, and have their day in court. At this point, they'd likely be fried by any jury, so whatever.

Bah.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Real names.

Just a note to everyone who reads this: anyone who uses another person's r/l name without their explicit permission in a comment, will simply have their comment deleted. I will not have people outed if they do not wish to be so.

The second book has begun

My first book, Longing for Wisdom: The Message of the Maxims, is in the late editing phase. I am waiting for my family editors to get it back to me so I can do the final edit and get it into the publishers. I am so pleased with it! It came together very quickly, in about only three months total.

Now I'm working on my second book, tenatively titled The Road to Ritual: A guide to visualizing, creating, and producing effective ritual. I have the rough body of it planned out, and have begun working on the introduction. I'm thrilled! I feel a real connection with this one, much as I did with the first one.

There's something wonderful about getting words out of my head and onto paper. There's no way to describe the feeling of handing that final rough draft to Farnham, plopping all 137 pages of it down in front of him. It was such an accomplishment for me. The words of encouragement and praise from friends and family have been a balm, too.

Now that it's spring, I have the patio set up to accommodate toddlers playing on the slide and climbing equipment, and in their toy kitchen, while I sit by the outlet with the laptop plugged in, typing away. They get time outdoors in the sun and fresh air, as do I, and I get to do my writing, as well.

There's nothing quite as adorable as watching boytwin shoot toy carcars down the slide of their little jungle gym. He laughs so hard you worry he'll keel over!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Altars

I have recently begun to update my various altars. At first, I had only the one altar, and in my Wiccan days that was all that was really needed. A few years ago, I began to be very interested in the elements, and so I had elemental altars for air, fire, water and earth. I don't have those anymore, although I have elemental items on my main altar. I now have an altar to Hecate (which I'm extremely pleased with) and one to Dionysos (which needs work). I also have one small candle for Nyx, but that's... different.

Anyhow, I wanted to share my altars, so here are some pics:

Altars

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Horror of Olympic Competition


I have always loved the Olympic games. I have watched the figure skating, luge, gymnastics, tennis, and all the other wonderful competitions with affection. These are the best athletes in the world, competing together in the spirit of peace and love!

This article has changed my mind on that. The travel of the Olympic torch this year has changed my mind, too. The mind-boggling human rights issues of China have changed my mind.

I don't want to see the Olympics ended, but I do know that the article above is right. The Olympics no longer serve the purpose they were intended to. The safety of our athletes is no longer guaranteed. Munich proved that to us.

In Hellenic Greece and earlier, the Olympics were a time of peace. The precursor to our Olympic flame was the sacred messenger sent from Olympia to all the city-states and countries that would be participating in the Olympic competition. The athletes and those accompanying them were officially given the protection of the Gods in order to attend the games. Police were unknown in those days, but weren't needed: fear of the retribution of the Gods was enough to keep the athletes sacrosanct. No one would have dared risk the wrath of Zeus!

The article I mention, suggests that if the US pulled out of the Olympics, it would rapidly die. I'm not so sure about that, but it would certainly get a lot smaller. Without our billions of dollars in advertising and television deals, they would be forced to actually concentrate less on building new stadiums, and more on building relationships between countries and athletes.

The suggestion made by the author of the article, is that world competitions would still be held, at proper stadiums, built for the purpose of practicing athletes. It would better serve the athletes themselves, as well as the public who support them. Perhaps without the "mystique" of the Olympics, the drug use, crass commercialism, and violence surrounding the Games would die, also.

I don't want to see the Olympics go away. I love what they stood for. But they no longer stand for the same thing since McDonalds and JiffyLube sponsored them.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Buds of Spring

It's springtime, and pollen is in the air. Between coughing fits, sneezing, and post nasal drip, I'm really enjoying the season. It's warm enough for tee shirts and short skirts again, and sandals. Yay! I'm not much into posting a lot today, but I wanted to share some springtime quotes.

All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud, you have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our consciousness rarely registers the beginning of a growth within us any more than without us; there have been many circulation of the sap before we detect the smallest sign of the bud. -- George Eliot

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. -- Anais Nin

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Done.

The second draft is complete. It's done. I'm so pleased!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The art of Writing

I have always considered myself to be a decent, and perhaps even a good writer. I have a fairly good grasp of grammar and spelling, and my sentence structure is usually alright. What I am finding in going over my book to edit, though, is that I use up the entire household's consignment of commas.

Yes, that's right. Commas.

I apparently have a love-on with the comma. I have commas everywhere. It's like they're growing in my text. I believe that what I"m doing is adding in commas whenever I have a pause to think. Since I type about 120 wpm, the words come tumbling out of my fingers at relatively high speed. They keep up with my thoughts most times, and I think I am using my mental pauses as a hint to put in a comma.

I have way too many commas in my book. Farnham is carefully peeling them out, one by one. It's painful for him, though. LOL...

That said, I'm almost done the second edit, the first BIG edit. I've been going through my red-pen marks and revising and editing, and I'm quite pleased with the results. It is coming together quickly. The only downside is that I'm going to be putting it down for two weeks once this edit is done, to give time to the other editors. I don't know if I *can* put it down for that long.

I am thinking about my next book...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Night of Hecate

Tonight is the dark of the moon. By the Greek reconing, it is the last day of the month. It is also the day that is sacred to Hecate. Specifically, on the night of the dark of the moon, devotees of Hecate would (and still do, in some cases) go to a crossroads and leave an offering of food and ale.

Tonight, I left food and drink, and a burning candle, at the nearest thing to a crossroads I could get to: my garden. Because of where I live, there are no rural crossroads, and the street out front is a main road, with cars whizzing past all hours of day and night. That isn't practical. I doubt strongly that Hecate wants me to be quashed because I was kneeling in an intersection while praying to her. Heh...

The garden is a crossroads, of sorts, for us. It is the place we gather in the summer. It is the place we cross over to get to the library (a favorite trip). It is the place the children play with their foot-powered cars (around the edges of it). And it's certainly a true crossroads for the squirrels! It also has the advantage of being a safe place to leave a burning candle (there's nothing around to be lit up by it, at least at this time of year, and if it tips, it goes out in the dirt).

The candle that I put out is one that I purchased for Hecate a month ago, for last month's dark moon. It looks like a rose, and the wick is in the center. I've lit it several times over the past month, and tonight it goes to her completely. I also took out a small portion of our dinner, and left it to her (and the squirrels, who I believe think they are her priests or envoys, or possibly her avatars LOL).

It wasn't a long ceremony. I didn't say much out loud, except thank you. It was enough, however. And I'm happy.

Crossposted to Hecataia, an online Altar of Hecate.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A school that cares!

School's New Rule for Pupils in Trouble: No Fun

One school district essentially grounds middle school students whose grade in any class falls below 65.


The principal of this school in NY is actually enforcing the idea that children should maintain decent grades in order to participate in after school activities such as clubs, school dances, and athletics. What I have difficulty understanding, is why some parents and teachers are AGAINST the idea. It makes no sense at all to me, to expect schools to cater to students who don't give a damn.

A quote:

Critics of the tough-love approach cite studies showing that students active in extracurricular activities tend to perform better in class, and they worry that without structured activities after school, troubled youngsters will be more apt to find trouble.

“A child who only has detention to look forward to at the end of the day is less likely to come to school,” said Laura Rogers, a school psychologist in Harvard, Mass. and the co-author of “Fires in the Middle School Bathroom.”

So... we have to entertain kids and cajole them into doing well at school, or else we have to put up with bad behavior? I'm sorry, does NO ONE seem to think that's wrong? What happened to the day when a child who had detention ended up getting more trouble at home? Some of these parents are actually defending their children's low scores and dismal behavior!

And people wonder why our schools are in such sad shape. When we refuse to back up the people who are working hard to teach our children, we create an atmosphere that lends itself to children running amok.

Bah.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tribute to Seven Wise Men

I breathe an exquisite soft sigh,
Exhaling spent breath from my chest.
My eyes drift down the stele,
The redoubtable end of my quest.

Carved with care, yet varied in size,
The wisdom of ages prevails -
In Greek, on stone, weathered by years;
I can almost hear Solon's hails.

"Know Thyself," and "Nothing in Excess,"
Say the venerable and primeval words.
"Surety begets ruin," and so many more
That fill the sun-bleached thirds.

With painstaking care, I begin
To copy the letters I see:
'These wise commandments of men of old,"
To Hellene, new and old, are the key.

(c) 2 Apr 2008 Allyson Szabo

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Midrash?

In the book I'm currently reading, on Greek Culture, the author talks about the literary traditions of the Jews, their commentaries on the Torah, as being similar to what Greek authors of the time were doing. They would take a bare statement and then write an in-depth article or treatise on it, explaining its value to the men of their own era. This is also what the midrash do, for the Jews. They take a bare-bones story from the Torah, and explain it in such detail that you understand its importance to you, personally.

This is what I am doing with my book. I am taking 30 of the Maxims that were posted at Delphi, and explaining them in context with my society. I am creating a "comparative method of understanding the Maxims," to quote Wikipedia (yes, I'm shameful, I looked it up on Wikipedia to make sure I had it right LOL : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midrash). I'm rather proud of this, in fact, because I feel like I am bringing life to an important and vital textual history. Because the Maxims were used as a teaching text not only for learning reading and writing, but also for education of Greek *thought*, I think it's extremely critical that we be aware of and educated about the Maxims. If they represent the ideas and morals of the "general populace" of Greece during the Hellenistic era, then it is a document we should study and think about, in great detail.

It's very exciting. :)