The future may belong to the Indians, or perhaps the Africans—or anyone who grows up in a multilingual environment.  Adding to the evidence of the benefits to the brain of speaking multiple languages is the research of Lera Boroditsky at Stanford University.  (Newsweek article by Sharon Begley.)

When the world's tallest vehicular bridge,* the Viaduc de Millau, opened,

German newspapers described how it "floated above the clouds" with "elegance and lightness" and "breathtaking" beauty. In France, papers praised the "immense" "concrete giant." Was it mere coincidence that the Germans saw beauty where the French saw heft and power?

 (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 9:27 am | Edit
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altLast Child in the Woods:  Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv (Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2005)

I'm sorry to say I gave this book short shrift, but reading time has been scarce lately, and I must return it to the library today.  I can say, however, that it is a must-read for anyone who is not already convinced that children need, as one of life's basic necessities, plenty of time in the natural world:  hiking, camping, and learning with their families, building forts and tree houses, exploring on their own, and just being in the world of bugs and fish, stars and sand dunes, trees and caverns.  If for you this kind of exhortation is preaching to the choir, it's probably still worth at least skimming it as much as I did, if only for the shock value of learning that today's children are even more cut off from such activities than you had imagined. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Edit
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A common theme over at the Front Porch Republic is a respect for place: for home and community, for not only eating locally but being locally, staying in (or returning to) one's hometown rather than venturing off to "better" places.  The article Root Hog or Die is where I chose to ask a question that has been bothering me about this approach to life, much as I like some of the ideas. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 29, 2009 at 6:47 am | Edit
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A friend alerted me to an article on midwives from the May 20, 2009 Orlando Sentinel.  It's about a recently-developed program of the Orange County Health Department that provides hospital-based midwife services for low-income women in the Orlando area, and told me some things I didn't know about midwives and Florida law.

Knowing from experience that links to Sentinel articles break after a while, I'll provide a few relevant excerpts below.  (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 8:13 am | Edit
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Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old boy with cancer, is being forced to receive treatment that both he and his parents have refused.

"It is imperative that Daniel receive the attention of an oncologist as soon as possible," wrote Brown County District Judge John R. Rodenberg in an order to "apprehend and detain....His best interests require it."

I often find myself in the minority when I argue for parental rights.  Doctors, teachers, social workers, and "concerned citizens" fret over the idea that parents should be allowed to make decisions that they believe are not in the bests interests of their children.  In one sense it's hard to blame them, as these are often people who are in a position to see better than most the consequences of physical, emotional, and educational neglect and abuse. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 7:00 am | Edit
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It seems appropriate that Katherine Dalton's The Immoral Life of Children should appear on the Front Porch Republic just after a conversation I had with Heather about children's art books.  A friend of hers uses a particular homeschooling curriculum that she likes, but finds herself censoring certain illustrations in the art history sections that she deems inappropriate for elementary-age children.

I happen to disagree with this mother's approach.  Not that there isn't plenty of so-called art that I wouldn't want our grandchildren to see—pretty much the same art that I don't want to see, myself—but I have no objection to art nudes, per se, even for young children.  It may be that the Supreme Court will soon be unable to tell the difference between Michelangelo's David (picture alert) and something indecent, but I can.  :)  However, I don't understand the publisher of that curriculum.  If I think (as I do) that there are works of art which everyone should be able to recognize and appreciate, and if the list happens to include nudes (as it does), nonetheless I can't think of any potentially offensive work that is critical for an elementary-aged child to view.  Any introduction to art necessarily excludes vastly more than it includes; one ought to be able to put together quite an impressive elementary-age art curriculum without tempting mothers to deface the pages of the books.  What bothers me more is that this mother's over-protectiveness seemingly precludes taking her child to an art museum, an omission I think of much graver consequence. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Edit
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A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, by Mary Ostyn (Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah, 2009)

This book sounded useful to Heather, who wishes both to have a large family and to retain her sanity, so we bought it for her as a Mother's Day gift.  Naturally, I read it first.  (Book-gift recipients are accustomed to that behavior from me, I'm afraid.)

I recommend A Sane Woman's Guide to all families who aspire to sanity, even if their hopes don't include a large family.  Although I don't agree with all of Mary Ostyn's advice, it's a surprisingly useful collection of ideas in a slim 192 pages, amusingly presented. Here's the table of contents for a quick preview, followed by a few, rather random, excerpts. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 9:24 am | Edit
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I thought I was finished writing about Judy's trial and the circumstances that led to it, but Jon wrote some excellent comments in response to a discussion at allnurses.com, and they're worth repeating here.  (Following the link will take you to the page where Jon's comments are; from there you can see the whole thread if you'd like.)  (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 7:28 am | Edit
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I wrote a long comment to Mark Shiffman's Front Porch Republic article, Why we do not own a Television; not being one to waste an item on a single use if it can be recycled, I reproduce it here.  You'll have to follow the link to see the context (and other readers' comments), but I think what I wrote is pretty clear on its own.

To my total surprise and (almost) mortification, I write in defense of television.  I agree with some of the comments that DVD is the only way to go, but most if not all of the content I find valuable on DVD originated in the TV and movie media, so despising them completely would be a bit hypocritical on my part. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 9:55 am | Edit
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More random tidbits found while sweeping the corners of the Internet.

Professor John Stackhouse gives a cheer, a half a cheer, and a hiss to Charles Darwin in honor of his birthday:

[W]e can all cheer Darwin's work in bringing microevolution—the phenomenon of small-scale changes happening within species as they adapt to their environment—into focus. Even "creation science" proponents grant the reality of evolution on this scale.

 (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Edit
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This Stone Soup cartoon makes me think, not of our children, who have learned from us and built well upon what they've learned, so that we in our turn have learned from them, but about our society in general, as we (re)discover the virtues of thrift and living within one's means; of childbirth as a natural, personal process; of breastfeeding; of small farms and organically-grown food; of respecting, enjoying, and conserving our natural environment.  We knew all this 40 years ago; how did we fail to pass it on?  Probably in the same way our parents' and grandparents' generations failed to pass their virtues on to us....

Not that progress isn't being made:  somehow we've managed to make smoke-free airplanes and restaurants stick, for one thing; and many in the next generation are rediscovering what was lost between our parents' generation and ours:  the blessings of having many children.  :)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 7:34 am | Edit
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I have no more information yet than is in this Post-Gazette article, but it looks as if the seven-year ordeal is finally over.  If it's not the vindication and ringing endorsement of birthing rights I was hoping for, it's probably the best we could have hoped for from a judge who is also a doctor.  I'm not sure how he managed to convict Judy for not having a license, since Pennsylvania doesn't license Certiied Professional Midwives, but I can't imagine Judy will not pay the $100 fine and move on.  Other midwives have pled guitly to worse in order to stop the torture and expense.

Perhaps the Amish, who rely on non-nurse midwives like Judy, will—if reluctantly—push harder for better midwifery laws in Pennsylvania.

Judith A. Wilson, 53, of Portersville, was found not guilty by Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen of the most serious charges [involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment], but found guilty of practicing midwifery without a certificate. She was fined $100.

Life has not stopped for us, no more than for Judy, in these seven years, but it is very good not to have this sword dangling over our necks anymore.

I hope to learn more—news reports, especially initial ones, being suspect—and will fill in here when I can.  Thanks to so many of you for your earnest prayers for us all.  (Earlier posts on this subject are The Trial, Part II; The Trial; and Options In Childbirth: A Personal Odyssey.)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Edit
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Three diverse takes on China:

Although written nearly a year ago (note the line, "Assuming that the global economy does not decline now, it will at some point"), George Friedman's geopolitical analysis of China (via InvestorsInsight) is perhaps frightening, perhaps reassuring, but certainly fascinating.  The concluding summary provides an introduction to the ideas, though it by no means does justice to the long article. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 17, 2009 at 8:54 am | Edit
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From the frequency of my posting recently, my overwhelmed readers can see I'm hacking away at a hugh backlog.  Here's another  in the Casting the Net series, which makes the job easier for me, if not for you. The good news is, like the can't-pass-this-up offer at the bottom of my inbox, and that $1 off coupon that's been in my wallet for six months, several of my must-posts are enough out of date I can cheerfully hit the delete key and not trouble you with them.  (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 10, 2009 at 7:48 am | Edit
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A brilliant student, Marcus sailed through grade school. He completed his assignments easily and routinely earned As. Marcus puzzled over why some of his classmates struggled, and his parents told him he had a special gift. In the seventh grade, however, Marcus suddenly lost interest in school, refusing to do homework or study for tests. As a consequence, his grades plummeted. His parents tried to boost their son’s confidence by assuring him that he was very smart. But their attempts failed to motivate Marcus (who is a composite drawn from several children). Schoolwork, their son maintained, was boring and pointless.

The story above is from a Scientific American Mind article entitled The Secret to Raising Smart Kids. (I've changed the name because in the original it is "Jonathan."  Apologies to any Marcuses who might read this.)  I insist that Marcus was probably right:  most seventh grade schoolwork is boring and pointless.  Be that as it may, the article investigates a question I have wrestled with for decades:  Why do so many bright students fail of their promise, surpassed sooner or later by their apparently average, ordinary classmates? (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 at 10:08 am | Edit
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