WUI (Writing under the influence)

Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
On a warm autumn day in 1986, while enjoying beer with my college buddies,
I decided to join my new homeland.

I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
Liberalism, political-correctness, multiculturalism and moral equivalence
are destroying it.

This old house Grovenet Wal*Mart Visiting Poland American wine better than French.

Monday, January 31, 2005


I hope Osama is alive

I think Bush could not have devised a better punishment for OBL than the elections in Iraq.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

"The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world." -- George W. Bush, Inaugural Address, January 21, 2005

November 9, 1989

January 30, 2005

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Adoption bill

I wrote the other day that married couples should be given precedence in adoptions over other "family" arrangements. Amazingly, earlier today, I learned that there is a new bill being introduced in the Oregon House called House Bill 2401 that would give preference "to prospective adoptive parents who are married over those who are unmarried or same-sex partners." Furthermore, the bill would give preference to married couples living in the state of Oregon.

[HB 2401] [...] [d]eclares state policy relating to adoptions. Requires Department of Human Services, Oregon licensed adoption agency or approved child-caring agency of this state that may consent to adoption of child to give preference to prospective adoptive parents who are married over those who are unmarried or same-sex partners. Requires department or agency to give preference to prospective adoptive parents who live in this state over those who live outside this state. Provides exceptions."

The bill doesn't ban adoptions by same-sex couples; it simply proposes adding another criterion that would help adoption agency in determining the best family for each child. I like it; I think it's a sensible compromise.

Of course, for some, there can be no compromise. In addition to the standard canard of "many studies have shown this and that" I'm getting in many e-mails, I'm being accused of gay-bashing:

"Not only do I think this bill Krystof is supporting is bunk, I think it's irrelevant bunk.

"We have lots of real problems in this state. Whether the loving home a child is adopted into has one or two parents, gay or straight, is not a problem.

"(Whether we have a torture-proponent for attorney general of the entire nation, now there's a real moral problem.)

"Fully funding education and health care, cleaning up the horrendous deficit in mental health care resources, dismantling the availability of methamphetamine ingredients, repairing infrastructure, protecting natural resources, etc etc etc... now those are some REAL problems.

"Enough already of the stupid gay-bashing. It's tiresome and pointlessly destructive and a needless distraction."

Speaking of bunk, there are no conclusive, authoritative studies that children do well regardless of family arrangements. In the case of same-sex couples, the samples used in such "studies" were simply too small. And it should stay that way.

To be honest, I support married-couples-first adoption policies because they make sense to me. I'm not basing my opinions on any research. Patricia Morgan, a sociologist specializing in family policy, wrote a book a while ago debunking the "evidence" that homosexual parenting is at least as good if not better than parenting in the traditional two-parent family. The book is titled "Children as trophies?: Examining the Evidence on Same-sex Parenting." The tile is very fitting, I think. It seems that certain adoption agencies try to score politically-correct points instead of looking after the best interest of children that are supposed to represent. Although "trophies" in the title could be referring to how some adoptive parents see "their" children.

I think Morgan advocates banning same-sex adoptions, something I'm not willing to do because I think it's always better to live in a stable home than to be a foster child. But Morgan is not alone. American College of Peditricians says on its website:
"The research literature on childrearing by homosexual parents is limited. The environment in which children are reared is absolutely critical to their development. Given the current body of research, the American College of Pediatricians believes it is inappropriate, potentially hazardous to children, and dangerously irresponsible to change the age-old prohibition on homosexual parenting, whether by adoption, foster care, or by reproductive manipulation. This position is rooted in the best available science."


The Oregonian right on schools twice in a row

Two days in a row, the Oregonian makes sense.

First, it admits that there is still money to be saved when it comes to educating our children by pooling together employees from all school districts for the purpose of negotiating lower health insurance premiums. Wow! What a concept! The Oregonian also reveals why well-meaning school boards are the reason why the savings may never be realized.
The school boards association is fighting furiously to hold onto its insurance business, which, through royalties charged to districts, supplies more than half of the organization's budget. We admire the OSBA, but it's fair to question whether taxpayers should fund higher-than-necessary insurance premiums to support it.

Then, the Oregonian says that as long as carry rights exist in Oregon they should not be limited by capriciousness of certain school districts.
If people licensed to carry concealed handguns pose any threat to schools, the danger has been well-concealed. There's no record of anyone with a license to carry a concealed weapon ever hurting anyone on the grounds of any Oregon school.

The facts are stubborn things.
If there's a problem with who's getting concealed permits, then let's have a discussion about that. This, though, is just picking another senseless gunfight.



Creative math

My concern for how math is taught in Forest Grove is justified by stories like this one. Math test scores suddenly go down in one school and nobody wants to offer an explanation. A bunch of administrators making over $100,000 each are puzzled. The closer look reveals that the cause can be traced to the new math curriculum, called anti-racist multicultural math, adopted the same year the math scores started to decline.


Teaching math

There may be a problem with how math is taught in the Forest Grove school district. It's called TWI or Two Way Immersion. The idea is to teach math (and other subjects) in two languages, in case of FGSD it means in Spanish and English, at the same time: half the period in English and the other half in Spanish. Both, native English speakers and Spanish-only speakers attend such classes. It seems that this program was created as an alternative to full immersion (English only) classes for students who don't speak English.

The teachers and some members of the school board defend this program citing a lot of research that backs the methodology. What I'm trying to understand is how English speakers are affected. I want to know if they learn math as fast as they would if the class were taught only in English. So far, everybody I talk to assures me that the program works for everybody; in fact, it's better for both groups than the alternatives.

I understand that the so called educators don't want to segregate students into two different classes or that they don't want to keep one group behind the other just because some students don't speak English. So I wonder if this is really about good pedagogy or just feeling good.

I'm being assured that there is no additional cost to administer this program because the new bilingual teachers were hired as replacement for teachers lost to regular attrition.

As somebody whose children don't speak English at home I wonder how they would fit in such classes as they don't speak Spanish either. What would seem reasonable to me is a full-immersion English class for one year for all non-English speakers with all other classes taught in English. If we want to teach Spanish as a foreign language to Americans, fine, although I think Japanese of Chinese would be more useful.

I'm still exchanging e-mails with a few people willing to discuss this topic. Many others have accused me of not wanting to educate Hispanics or of not wanting to educate any children whatsoever and other such nonsense. Those are the typical knee-jerk liberal reactionaries: when somebody questions the status quo, all kinds of accusations, from racism to sexism to homophobia, start flying.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Race card and social security

I've played this card more than once: "Social security is a racist system because black Americans' life expectancy is lower than that of white Americans." In other words, blacks contribute more to the system as percentage of their income than they get back once they retire as compared to whites.

The Oregonian doesn't appreciate it and tries to debunk this assertion.

I will remember this the next time the Oregonian place the race card. For example, when it says that the criminal justice system is racist because there are more blacks in prisons than their share in general population would indicate.


Stingy Americans

It's seems that without the US military there wouldn't be any tsunami relief. After the US announced that American forces would begin transferring relief operations to the appropriate civilian organizations some aid groups expressed concern that the move would come too quickly.
"My gut feeling is that no, the civilian side isn't ready to take over," said Aine Fay, Indonesia director for the Irish aid group Concern. "The American military, the military hardware has been so useful."

"I'm a bit taken aback that they're thinking of withdrawing it already," she said.

It seems that another month is needed before the relief operations can be supported by civilian infrastructure. And it's easy to understand why once the numbers of troops involved are examined.
More than 11,000 U.S. Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel backed by 16 U.S. Navy ships are currently involved in providing relief support in the tsunami's aftermath, according to the U.S. Defense Department. Since the operation began, they have delivered more than 8,600 tons of relief supplies to the affected region.


I wonder if she's still single Posted by Hello

Friday, January 21, 2005


Europe is done

The CIA predicts that it's downhill now for Europe. However, after a streak of bed predictions, Europeans don't trust the CIA anymore and oppose any reforms.

My only hope is that the Democrats will watch and learn. Or will they say "We know they've failed but we can learn from their mistakes and do it better?"


Liberal Catholics watch

First, the Catholic Church in Spain supported condoms and now Villanova University supports murder and suicide.

At least somebody in Spain finally read the catechism. Let's see if somebody at Villanova can find a copy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


School funding

So how much do we pay for the fine public education our children are getting? Here, in Oregon, we spend almost $8,000 per pupil, which is slightly higher than the national average of $7,734. The spending per pupil for all states is in this graph.

Note: The Education Week Research Center adjusted the per-pupil education expenditures for regional cost differences using the NCES Geographic Cost of Education Index.
 Posted by Hello

So what do we get for all this money? Not much more than states spending much less and sometimes more than states that spend much more.

Student Achievement in Oregon:
4th graders proficient or above in math 33%
8th graders proficient or above in math 32%
4th graders proficient or above in reading 31%
8th graders proficient or above in reading 33%

Let's compare these numbers to numbers from the state that spends the least.

Student Achievement in Utah:
4th graders proficient or above in math 31%
8th graders proficient or above in math 31%
4th graders proficient or above in reading 32%
8th graders proficient or above in reading 32%

Wow! The students of Utah are almost as good as students in Oregon for the whopping $5,132 per pupil, which incidentally is what I pay for my 2 children who go to a private school. To be fair, the Diocese of Portland and the Parish of St. Matthew probably double this amount. So the real cost of private education at St. Matthew Catholic School is around $5,000 per pupil. But I'm pretty sure that the achievement numbers are much, much better.

Just for completeness, let's compare these numbers to numbers at the most expensive school system, District of Columbia, which spends over $11,000 per pupil.

Student Achievement in D.C.:
4th graders proficient or above in math 7%
8th graders proficient or above in math 6%
4th graders proficient or above in reading 10%
8th graders proficient or above in reading 10%

No comment.

Monday, January 17, 2005


Do means justify the end?

Maybe. Let's assume that WMD were the only stated reason to go to Iraq. Let's also assume that there is no problem with Social Security. Even if both were true, I still wouldn't care. If the only way to establish democracy in the Middle East to stomp terrorism at its roots and to give me more control over my own money is inventing a crisis or two, let it be.

But then again, I don't think we have to invent anything. Reality bites.


Reading a new standard for high school graduates

This is not a parody. There seems to be a city in Connecticut whose Board of Education has decided that it would probably be a good idea to require high school graduates to read. However, because such decision can't be taken lightly, it will take 4 years to enforce the new rule.
Board Chairwoman Joan Politi, R-1, said the majority of the board members felt the new requirement would improve learning [...]

You don't say.

Let's see how much money will Connecticut now have to spend to fund the new requirement in addition to $9,188 (2001-2002 school year according to edweek.org).


Gay adoptions...

...are fine by me as long as adopted children are not wanted by married heterosexual couples that meet other requirements. There are examples that indicate that not only are gays placed on the same waiting lists as their heterosexual counterparts, they, together with single women, are sometimes given precedence. Sometimes twins are split so one of them can go to such a family. Not all family arrangements are equal. If any criteria are used in parents' selection, one's sex orientation and marital status should be included and given greater weight than economic status.

Friday, January 14, 2005


Civil rights

Don't we already have enough civil rights? Or is government protecting me from my own stupidity? I just can't believe that there are any homeless people just because they are gay. What about my property rights? Or a right to do business with whoever I wish?

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Voters are stupid

That's what the Oregonian says.
No offense, Oregon voters, but Measure 37 is proving to be just what its critics said it would be -- a can of worms.

Since voters wielded the can opener, it's customary to speak respectfully of what they had in mind. So most speakers at a Measure 37 summit at the Oregon Convention Center this week did speak respectfully. That is, they tiptoed carefully around the can. But there was no way to disguise all that wriggling.

In other words, we are just dense. So was our vote for Kerry also stupid?

Not only liberal but also arrogant. But I repeat myself...

Sunday, January 09, 2005


FG HS watch

It seems that the reason for attending the next FG school board meeting is no more. I got this in e-mail yesterday:
This Call to Arms is cancelled for now. See below for the emails from Mike Steele and Molly that explain the story & process they went to through to get the PRIDE notices put in the Jan school newspaper. They’ll let us know when the issue is before the school board.

interesting choice of words: "Call to Arms". Why do Democrats object to our calling this a culture war?

The e-mails includes the following attachment (I'm including the name and other info of the author as he is a more public person than I first thought):

"For those of you who have been following this thread, I would like to update matters. Jack Musser, the superintendent, has consulted with each member of the school board as well as the students in the high school's journalism class in order to provide background context and review the district's policies and administrative regulations. After his consultations with board members, superintendent Musser has decided to move forward along these lines: [a] ads from the groups in question can reappear in the January issue of the Viking Log; [b] he will be meeting this week with Molly Franks of PFLAG for further discussion; [c] we will initiate a board review of the policies in question which will take place at some future board meeting[s]. Throughout the consultations and Jack's meeting with the students, concern for the well-being of students was foremost. We believe that we will reach a fruitful accommodation of the various interests, including our students' well-being, our concerns for best educational practices, and the ready availability of pertinent resource information for students and their families. In light of this ongoing process, the issue will not appear on the Jan. 10 school board meeting agenda. However, be assured that the policy will be under review for one or more future board meetings. Public input at that time is most welcome.

Thanks to all who have been in touch with me or my board colleagues on this matter.
With best wishes to all for a wonderful new year....


This decision, re the 1/10/05 meeting's agenda, was reached after I last wrote to you and reflects an ongoing process...one that will surely include further opportunities for public input. Let me know if you have any questions, OK?


Michael R. Steele, Ph.D.
Distinguished University Professor
English and Peace Studies
Pacific University
FAX: 503/352-2775

I'm going to obtain a copy of the school newsletter to see the ad. I will scan the add and post it here. Also, I've located a math teacher in FG HS who goes to St. Matthew and whose children go to St. Matthew's school. I will talk to him next week about this.

I also would like to entertain an idea of buying an ad in the newsletter talking about the risks of smoking and homosexual sex. I'd like to see what this group's definition of censorship is. Would they object to my ad?

I'd like to find out more about prof Steele and his department of English and Peace Studies. Funny name. I wonder how English and Peace Studies are related. It's a private university so I can't complain but I wonder if students' parents would be happy to know what goes on in this school.

Lastly, a reply to the e-mail above made me feel somewhat better; it seems that FG is still a conservative town:

Interesting, I think it would be wise to assume this issue is only temporarily settled. Time will tell if the Board bows down the the [sic] ultra conservative faction that seems to have a grip on many things in Forest Grove.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Flu politics

What a difference two months make. When flu shots go to waste, Bush will be blamed again and the feds will be forced to pay for it.


Oregon blogger cashes in

Or call him a blog pioneer; he created one of the first blog-creation web sites.
As a teenager, Brad Fitzpatrick bought his first computer server with money he made mowing lawns and used it to launch his first Internet business. From that sprang LiveJournal.com, one of the earliest sites for creating personal Web logs.

Whatever you call him, it's nice to see that it's still possible to make some serious money on the Internet.
This week Fitzpatrick, 24, joined the ever-expanding club of entrepreneurs to make a small fortune off the Internet -- and perhaps became one of the first blogging millionaires -- after selling his company.

[...] San Francisco-based Six Apart Ltd. paid an undisclosed amount of cash and stock for Danga and LiveJournal. Fitzpatrick said a price tag above $1 million "would be a safe guess."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Big houses

I'm a big fun of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses. But, as many old things, they are appreciated by many but don't attract a lot interest when put up for sale. What I like best about them -- little space wasted for kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms -- is what makes them today rather unattractive. Wright believed that living spaces should be vast with a lot of windows to let plenty of light in. Everything else was small.

In Poland, I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with a very small bathroom and a very small kitchen. I didn't live there alone, of course. I had to share it with my parents and my sister. One might say, it was very cozy. Actually, saying that my apartment had two bedrooms could be somewhat misleading because there were no other rooms. The larger bedroom served as a living room during the day. Needless to say, even the smallest house in the US seems big to me. Our first house had 1,300 sq. ft. and a partially finished basement with its own bathroom. When we added a deck and a screened porch (a must in mosquito-infested Madison, WI), the house seemed huge. But there were only 4 of us.

My house in Forest Grove, although bigger, is still small by (today's) American standards. There are 5 of us now with the 6th coming in April and my house has slightly under 2,000 sq. ft. plus unfinished basement (i.e., laundry, storage, small woodworking shop, etc.) I think it should be bigger and I will most likely make it bigger next year. It needs a big family/4-season room with a wood-burning stove and big windows with a view of our evergreen backyard. What it needs is a Frank Lloyd Wright space, something I never experienced in Poland.

I visited some friends last week and two of them have brand new houses. They are big. Both well over 3,000 sq. ft. One is a standard house in a new development where all the houses are almost identical; almost predictable. The other is completely custom-built. It has a two-level garage that could easily accommodate two RVs; there is a small bathroom and a kitchen on the first floor and a small apartment on the second floor. The whole thing seems bigger than my whole house. One thing that I found very curious in this house was that the kitchen seemed bigger than the living room. I hope my friend's wife doesn't get tired when cooking from walking between the refrigerator, the stove and the sink. Maybe this was also meant as an exercise room. Also, the guest bathroom was bigger than the guest bedroom. It was the total opposite to what Wright would have designed.

I don't believe in conspiracies but I wonder why new houses have these huge wasted areas. No matter how big your house is, if your kitchen, bathrooms, parlor, mud room, etc., take most of the space, you will need an addition as soon as your first child is born (not to mention your 4th.) And whom will you call to do the job? Wouldn't you call the original builder? Maybe not. Or not necessarily. But maybe all builders, even if competitors, help each other by building houses this way. Also, finishing kitchens and bathrooms with marble tiles, granite countertops and premium fixtures is much more expensive than finishing living or family rooms with hardwoods or wall-to-wall carpets. So there is also an incentive for the builders to insist on propose those vast, limited-use spaces.

So if I ever design a house for myself, I make sure that I can cook sitting down and play football with my sons in a living room.



This piece in Media Research Center made me thing about my short-lived relationship with Newsweek.

My wife sends my hard-earned money to OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting); before we moved to Oregon she supported public radio in Madison. I don't particularly mind supporting public TV or radio because some programming is pretty good. I would feel better about giving them my money if my taxes weren't used at the same time to support their liberal agenda. I especially resent that BBC is broadcast several hours a night on public radio here in Oregon.

My wife was offered a free gift with her first yearly pledge. She let me select from several magazine subscriptions to make me feel better about the whole thing. I chose Newsweek. After reading one of the very first issues I canceled the subscription because the magazine was even more liberal than Bill Moyers.

I felt bad at first because wasting paper is good for lumber industry in Oregon. But I also didn't want to confuse the mailman. A few months earlier I had subscribed to Woman's Outlook, an NRA magazine I received for my NRA membership that year. I wanted my wife to read it to convince her that guns were good. It seems I need few more years of that particular subscription to make any progress. That European brainwashing took rather strong.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


TV night

I started watching the Orange Bawl with my son around 5:30pm. It started great with Oklahoma scoring first. We had dinner until 7pm so we didn't watch most of the second quarter (TV and radio are off in my house during meals); when we returned to watch the game it was just OK: USC had a commanding lead. The half-time show was just pathetic with all three singers lip-synching with Ashley Simpson being the worst. Around 8pm the game simply sucked so we turned to PBS. Much better.

First, Nova talked about our recent exploration of Mars. Question: if there was indeed water, and maybe even life, on Mars, what happened? Bush and Halliburton weren't around to make them disappear. Seriously, wouldn't this show that if other planets close to us go through some drastic changes "on their own", so can Earth?

Put children to bed.

Frontline made me smile. Not because it's fair. It's not. But E.J. Dionne was rather concerned about Bush's religiosity. Dionne's apprehension about conservatives in general and evangelicals in particular always makes me smile. Overall, a good show.

Lastly, Inventions described the quest for the tallest building. Two thoughts. One, capitalism is great. Two, it's good if you aim at something specific like 1776 feet. You don't care if the next guy beats you by 1. And he will. Eventually.

I couldn't believe I spent so much time watching anything other than sports on TV. I think it was a combination of expectations that I would watch the entire game and having 3 programs on PBS worth my time one after another. Also, I'm stalled on my bathroom remodel waiting for a part. This makes me think that when there is nothing else I can do with (to) my house, I will have to build a new one.


Birth control

When I read this I thought that the author lived in a parallel universe. This is the first paragraph.
At a time when the medical community has been heartened by a decline in risky sexual behavior by teenagers, a different problem has crept up: More adult women are forgoing birth control, a trend that has experts puzzled -- and alarmed about a potential rise in unintended pregnancies.

Well, maybe more women want to have more children. Or maybe those teenagers learned not to have sex until marriage. So far, no reason for alarm.
Even as he cheered the news that a growing number of teenagers are using contraception, Santelli wondered whether doctors are neglecting women.
"Maybe we're failing with women over 21," Santelli said.

This is so arrogant. Maybe these women have minds of their own and opt not to use contraception. This is similar to the argument that people voting for Republicans vote against their own interest. You can only think that if you wrongly assume you know what's in their best interest.

And then there is this:
Physicians, statisticians and advocates who specialize in reproductive health had several theories for the rise in unprotected sex. They pointed to possible factors such as gaps in sex education, the cost of birth control, declining insurance coverage, fears of possible side effects of contraceptives and personal attitudes about childbearing.

How about religion? Do they know how many Catholics actually don't use contraceptives because of the high success of natural family-planning methods?

Finally, a paragraph that started making some sense until its conclusion.
It is possible, said Paul Blumenthal, that many more women are trying to conceive and thus have stopped using contraception. But the Johns Hopkins University professor said it is more likely that more women have found the cost of birth control burdensome.

Those people can afford cable TV and cell phones and can't afford a pill or a condom?

Then, there is this gem (why am I not surprised that is has something to do with Oregon?):
Jeffrey Jensen, director of the Women's Health Research Unit at Oregon Health and Science University, said he regularly encounters patients who have trouble affording birth control, even if their private insurance covers it.
"It is absolutely unconscionable that women have a co-pay of $20 or $25 [a month] for contraceptives and men are getting off scot-free," Jensen said. Drug companies "have cut way back" on free samples and many women turn to less effective types of birth control because of cost, he said, "running a greater risk of pregnancy as a result."

So a $20 co-pay a month, less than $1 a day is too much? Well, I have a solution: stop screwing if you don't want to have children. I'm not sure what he wants men to do.

And this I resent. I don't want my money to be spent on contraceptives or abortion (at least national defense is in the Constitution.)
Of the 34 million women in need of contraceptive services -- those who are not sterilized, pregnant or trying to conceive -- about 17 million qualified for publicly funded care, according to a 2002 report by the nonprofit Alan Guttmacher Institute. Of that number, 6.7 million received government-funded services, most through Medicaid or the Title X family-planning program.

This I can pay for:
Many physicians put partial blame on federally funded abstinence-only education programs that by law prohibit discussion of contraceptives, except to detail their failure rates.

This is free.

There is only one paragraph quoting somebody from my universe:
Proponents of abstinence education played down concerns about unintended pregnancies.
"Pregnancy is not a disease. . . . The women making these choices are making a conscious choice. They are not stupid," said Leslee J. Unruh, president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse. "Women don't want to use birth control because of the side effects. And a lot of men refuse to use a condom."

And how about this one?
Several recent studies found that as the abstinence-until-marriage movement surged, there was a "considerable drop" in comprehensive sex education from 1988 to 2000, Santelli said. "Women in their twenties have probably gotten less effective information about contraception," he said.

Why would somebody who adopted the "abstinence-until-marriage" life-style need contraceptives?

And the last paragraph tells me I was right about that universe thing.
"It's clear that contraception is a service people use and want to use, judging by the almost universal use in America," Blumenthal said. "We're offering a service people find useful."

But why would it be also called America?

Monday, January 03, 2005


It's the minimum wage, stupid

The minimum wage in Washington and Oregon are going up to $7.35 and $7.25 respectively. They are the highest and the second-highest in the nation and, in my opinion and opinion of many others, are one cause (the other is over-regulation) of some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Do Democrats are stupid or do they really want to create permanent unemployment? Or both?


Last day of the long vacation

Yes, this has been a long vacation. Today is the last day. It's a day off because January 1st was a Saturday and it's normally one of the 10 days we get off for various holidays. My children weren't as lucky and are at school so I'm using this free time to do some work around the house. I thought I would be working on my bathroom remodel but I decided to do something nice for my wife and will frame a painting she did a while ago for her painting class. Maybe I will post a picture of the framed painting if the frame is nice. Maybe I will post a picture of two of that bathroom remodel. Once it's done, I will start working on the 4-season sun-room addition. That will be fun!


It's a good start

The only problem the Oregonian has with the proposed Social Security reform is that the Bush administration considers hiding the cost of the reform. I don't even care if the Oregonian is right in its "analysis" as long as it supports the reform itself.


Regulating capitalism

(I work for Intel Corporation so I want to be very fair with this post.)

Intel is shipping jobs overseas because of high taxation on over-regulation. My job could be next. However, as a shareholder, I want Intel to do its job: make as much money as possible. Intel or any other corporation shouldn't be any more loyal to the US than the US consumers are to the goods made in the US. It's called globalization. It's called equalization. It's good for the world. It's even good for peace.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


Who's Polish Immigrant (response to a comment)

This started as a reply to this comment and it's a pretty disorganized set of random thoughts.

A reader made the following suggestion:

You ought to post more of your experiences as a new American and contrast what you find good, bad or silly in the US with similar things in your homeland.

I started by saying...

This is exactly what I want to do. But I also want to comment on things that happen in Forest Grove and Oregon where I live now (and for the first time since I moved to the US consider my home.)

There are many other things that are of interest to me. For example, my political and social views underwent a dramatic transformation during the late 1990s when I lived in Madison, WI. So I like to comment, from time to time, on things that happen there too. The same goes for Seattle, WA. There are also several hot-button issues such as public education, UN, global warming, taxes, communism, and the French and the old Europe, of course, that I like to comment on.

Calling this blog Polish Immigrant was probably a mistake since I don't look at issues through my Polish eyes. In two years, I will have lived longer abroad than I had lived in Poland. I'm also married to an Italian woman (living in Oregon, I feel I have to state the gender of the person I'm married to) so for the past 12 years I've shared her culture (including the language) too.

In fact, I have hard time relating to my Polish experience and to the current situation in Poland. When people ask me how often I go back to Poland, I reply that I don't go back, I just go. Going back implies going to something familiar. Yes, many places are still familiar. But people and the new culture are less and less so.

And I'm not alone in this. One of the recent post of my blogging nemesis, Nina Camic, poses the following question: Do I really want to identify with this? Call it my homeland? She, of course, regrets missing different things than those I miss. And, as I've said before, she does this for all the wrong reasons (that Palace shouldn't be toppled down as many of us wished before 1989 but converted to a museum of the evil that communism really is.) Nevertheless, it's hard for some of us, Polish immigrants, especially the younger ones, to identify ourselves as Poles anymore because the country we left doesn't exist anymore.

A huge part of my vocabulary, especially the professional part, exists only in English; I have hard time speaking to Poles about what I do because I learned everything in the US. This makes many of them treat me as a stranger and I often act like one.

So when I comment on something happening in the US, I want everybody to know that my views don't represent views of other Poles. For example, I'm more anti-communist now than I used to be in Poland. When I left Poland, it was still under the communist rule. I didn't like the system because I didn't like my situation in that system but I didn't understand yet how evil the system and the people running it were. At the time, I could entertain as valid some pro-communism arguments. In fact, for several years after I moved to the US, I thought that higher education should be free and guns outlawed. I was still infected (or brainwashed) with the communist propaganda that wasn't very easy to reject; after all, I had to work nights and weekends, and borrow a lot of money to put myself through school.

But I've wised up (as they say, if you are 30 and are conservative, you have no heart; if you are 40 and are liberal, you have no brains.) I'm almost done with paying back my student loans and I'm a proud member on NRA.

Now, I'm totally blown away by what's happening in Poland. Old communists are in power instead in jail. Many people long for the years before 1989. The only hope for Poland is not the membership in EU but a strong relationship with the US. I'm afraid it may be too late. EU will do everything in its power to destroy any chance for Poland to be economically strong.

So maybe the best thing for me to do is to write about the Poland I remember and compare it to the US I know. Maybe I should start with the things I still miss...


Catholic schools

I have two sons in a catholic school so this story has caught my attention.
Some parents and parishioners have accused the Roman Catholic diocese in Orange County of violating church doctrine by allowing a gay couple to enroll their children in a church school.

It doesn't bother me at all that children of homosexual parents will be allowed to attend the school. I'm only concerned that catholic schools may eventually stop teaching the catechism to make all children feel good. What I'm afraid of is that cases like this one may further increase what I call liberalization of catholic education.

My children are in a catholic school for a reason. I don't care about what the parents of my children's peers do. I do care about what the school teaches about parents' behavior. If the school stops doing that I may as well save a few hundred bucks a month and send my children to a public school.

To be fair, there are other important aspects of catholic education: strict dress code, discipline, and relatively high standards. But these can be found in some public schools; especially in small towns like Forest Grove.

Some may argue that moral education of children should take place at home. I agree. However, most public schools interfere with, in fact sabotage, my efforts. I'd like to see moral-neutral (as opposed to today's amoral or immoral) public education.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Give life a chance

Most university students' health plans pay for elective abortions and don't pay for (elective) birth. They seem to be only for one choice.

"When students receive positive results on a pregnancy test, campus health clinic staff too often say ‘I'm sorry' and automatically refer women to abortion clinics," said Serrin Foster of Feminists for Life. "Women need to know the rest of their choices, including single parenting, married parenting, and adoption options."
Do such health plans force students to "choose" what universities think is "best" for them? If the argument is that health insurance shouldn't pay for students' "mistakes" then why pay for abortions? As always, liberals are very choosy about choices they think are worth considering.


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