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Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

A fun, relaxing place to rant, rave, highlight interesting finds on the web, and initiate discussion on topics large and small. You may not agree, but you won't be bored! Take a look, feel free to comment, and enjoy your stay. You will also find several resources for creating your own website, blog, and web identity.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Teenage Sex and Marriage in America

Just like everything else surrounding Sarah Palin, the announcement that her 17 year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant caused quite the stir. Obviously, it would be controversial no matter whom the 17 year-old, but this is different. Sarah Palin’s parenting skills are being called into question, and many have suggested that Bristol’s parents are forcing her to marry the baby’s father. I sit back in awe and disgust. Hopefully this whole scenario will highlight our deep hypocrisy when it comes to teenagers, sex, and marriage.

There are a few things that I know that no one seems to want to acknowledge:

1. Contraception is never fool-proof. The talking heads can suggest that more sex education is needed all they want, but the larger point is ignored. No matter how much you teach teenagers about contraception, there isn’t a form out there, short of abstinence, that is 100% effective. Condemns break, the pill can easily be rendered ineffective (much to the horror of some young couples I know), so on, so forth. I don’t agree with abstinence only education, but I also wish that more attention was paid to actual facts of contraception and sex in general.

2. Our society is hyper-sexualized. This would be OK if it was only focused on adults, but younger and younger children are being exposed to sexual themes. As a result, teenagers need more accurate information earlier and earlier in order to make truly informed decisions regarding sexuality. There has long been lots of peer pressure to have sex in high school, if not earlier.

3. You can’t fight nature. Let’s face it: our bodies are designed for reproduction from puberty on. As puberty comes earlier and earlier in life, younger and younger kids are asked to fight their hormones. A lot of self-restraint and information are needed to ensure that kids going through puberty understand what is going on and the true consequences of their actions.

4. Some people actually do fall in love at age 17. I have a wonderful example of this in my extended family. I have a great aunt who married at age 17 (he was 17 too). She never went to college, but she and her husband raised three children who all went on to receive Ivy League educations. My great uncle went on to have a successful career with Coca-Cola, my great aunt went on to serve her community in innumerable and invaluable ways, and all of their children went on to become very successful. Quite frankly, my great aunt was the very last person in the world I would suspect not have a college education. Obviously, their story has the best possible ending. That isn’t the point. The facts that Bristol is pregnant at 17, decided to marry the baby’s father, and chose life over an abortion does not mean that she ruined her life. It just means that she will have more challenges than most.

5. Forcing a 17 year-old girl to do anything, much less marry, is a challenge to say the least. I’m only 27, and I remember vividly what I was like at 17. I thought that I knew everything. I couldn’t wait to go to college and leave home. I fought with my Dad. There was no way that my parents were going to force me to do anything. It is from this understanding that I conclude that Bristol Palin probably really wants to get married. She probably truly does love the baby’s father. It doesn’t mean that it will work out in the end.

6. No one’s life is perfect. Everyone has challenges, and this is probably one of the Palin family’s.

7. No child is a punishment. All life should be cherished. I commend Bristol for making these tough adult decisions.

I could go on and on, but I think that you get my point. Our society certainly has a double standard when it comes to sex and teenagers, especially when it comes to women.


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Book Reviews

Since I began utilizing Library Thing back in July, I have written several book reviews and have snagged several advanced reading copies of books that have yet to be published (or have just recently been published). I'm debating whether or not to start another blog dedicated to book reviews. Until then, I will post them here. Below is a link to my reviews thus far:

My Library Thing Reviews


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Sarah Palin and the Book Burning Snit

There has been so much said about Sarah Palin these last few weeks, but there are some "scandals" that have really gotten under my skin. First and foremost, it was discovered that Sarah Palin asked about whether or not books could legally be banned. All she did was ASK (as Alaska governor, it was her JOB to know whether or not it was legally possible). Note: During Sarah Palin's entire career, she has not once tried to ban any books. This is an important distinction.

In light of this non-controversy, I soon learned that the reported "list" of books that Sarah Palin "tried" to ban actually has been cirulating online for years. It is a list of all of the books that have been banned (or people have tried to ban) across the United States. In fact, several of the books on the list weren't even published at the time that Sarah Palin sent the e-mail.

Included on the list were several books books that caught my attention. In fact, several works by Roald Dahl were mentioned. Many of his books were read aloud by my teachers during my elementary school days, and I consider them among my favorite children's books. When you add books by Mark Twain and Harper Lee, a significant part of my early education would have been banned by certain people.

If there was one thing that would cause me to lose respect for Sarah Palin, this would be it. Quite simply, there is no evidence that she ever tried to ban books. However, as a bibliophile, my right to read what I want is sacred. I will not tolerate people trying to ban books. Recently, this issue was broached on LibraryThing. I wanted to respond badly, but was unsure of how to do so. Those who believe such things about Sarah Palin can't be reasoned with at all; they will deny everything even in the face of hard evidence. It is truly disgusting.

Lindsey Russell

My Library Thing

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A Few Notes from My Desk

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to thank readers who still haven't given up on my blogging efforts. There are a few things that I need to address.

1. This blog is once again political. I know that I said earlier this summer that I was going to refrain from discussing politics. Quite simply, Sarah Palin changed all of that for me. End of story.

2. You will see changes soon. I'm not going to outline them yet, but there is a lot in the works.

I just wanted to clear that all up!



Sweetness & Light

Another great political blog. Brian brought it to my attention. He really does have a good eye.

Sweetness & Light


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Bazaar Season in Mid-Michigan Begins!

The other day the Bay City Times published its annual bazaar guide. I'm not sure how it is in other parts of the country, but bazaars are a tradition in Mid-Michigan. Fall bazaars in Mid-Michigan include homemade baked goods, handcrafted goods, and lots more. When I come across the online version of the guide, I'll post it here. Most are held in churches, community centers, and even schools. Due to the fact that most bazaars are held between October and December, it is also a great place to find unique Christmas gifts. Bazaaring is kind of like garage-saling; it is a great way for women to get together and have some fun on the weekends.


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Ms. Meghan McCain!

McCain Blogette

This blog is great. Even though it is written and maintained by John McCain's daughter Meghan (with the help of her brothers and sisters), it really isn't all that political. It does document her time on the campaign trail and the promotion of her children's book about her dad. It is a lot of fun. Check it out!


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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to Field Dress a Donkey

Priceless, simply priceless. Check it out here.

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My Definitive Sarah Palin Post

This particular piece has been in the works for nearly two weeks, but like the rest of the country, the selection of Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, as John McCain's running mate blew me away. It is fair to say that people on both the right and left were shocked. While I was shocked, I was also ecstatic. For the first time in my life, there may be someone a heartbeat away from the Presidency with whom I can identify. There has never been a truly viable national female conservative candidate in the United States (Lizzy Dole never had a chance). Period. I now have a political role model for the first time in my life.

While I claim that Sarah Palin is a role model in my eyes, let me be clear. I don't agree with her on everything, but I never expected to either. Take abortion, for example. I am not nearly as staunchly right to life as Palin (I believe that ultimately a woman - in fact, all people - should have control over her own body). However, I could never make the decision to have an abortion. In almost all cases, I believe that adoption is the best answer to unwanted pregnancies. That said, I've never had much of a stomach for some of the antics of the right to life movement.

Then came Sarah Palin, who is very much pro-life. How can you look at her baby Trig and not see the unconditional love created by his life? It is real. There are many, many people all across the United States who can identify with making the decision that Sarah Palin made to have Trig, despite the challenges of Down Syndrome.

Before I go further, I need to clarify something. You see, technically I'm a "special needs" person myself due to the fact that I have Turners Syndrome. Fortunately for me, I grew up in an era where such terms as "special needs" weren't used, and to look at me, you wouldn't suspect that I have a genetic disorder (I'm just shorter than average).

All of that aside, I attended national Turners Syndrome conferences in 1999 and 2000. I attended to meet up with an old friend of mine, Brenna, who also happens to have Turners Syndrome. Quite simply, my experiences at the conferences changed the way I view pregnancy, motherhood, adoption, and myself. Unfortunately, much of the conferences involved a lot of parental hand-holding. Parents of girls with Turners Syndrome want more information about their daughters' condition. It is all well-meaning, but it also can lead to a certain over-protection of women and girls with Turners Syndrome. In some cases, I almost wonder if Turners Syndrome isn't worse for the parents than it for the women and girls who actually have it.

It was against this backdrop that I happened to meet a couple who were expecting a little girl with Turners Syndrome. That's right; Turners Syndrome, along with genetic abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, can now be diagnosed in the womb through amniocentesis. I can only imagine what the couple was going through.

Imagine that you are a pregnant woman whose unborn child was just diagnosed in the womb with a serious genetic condition such as Turners Syndrome. The doctor may provide you with the worst case scenario (serious heart and kidney abnormalities), little or no information, or worst of all, outdated information. You read, hear, and expect the absolute worst. You realize that your child will face physical and emotional challenges. She will most assuredly be short and infertile. Outdated information will say that women and girls with Turners Syndrome show signs of mental retardation (this has been disproven and literally all of the older Turner Syndrome women I've met have at least a bachelors degree). In essence, a lot of rational, well-meaning people would understand if you decided to have an abortion. It has most certainly happened and will continue to happen.

In fact, I have to give the couples that I met at the conferences a lot of credit. They took the time to put a human face with the condition. They got to meet women and girls with Turners Syndrome, many of whom lead surprisingly ordinary lives. They got to see the achievements, the challenges, the adoptions, the successful outcomes of in vitro fertilization, etc. I will never forget the speech that one expectant mom of a little girl with Turners Syndrome gave before the entire conference. She simply stood up and thanked everyone. She had been considering abortion, but decided to learn more. She was overwhelmed by the experience of actually meeting those with the same condition that inflicted her unborn daughter.

It is quite simple. Sarah Palin's candidacy has brought that all back for me. She has lived with and through the life altering decisions faced by moms with "special needs" kids, especially those whose children are diagnosed in the womb. In a broad sense, these were my first impressions of her - an authentic human being who shares many of my values and who has been tested by life in a variety of ways. She has stuck by her convictions.

Then, almost as soon as the announcement was made, the attacks began. I've never witnessed anything so destructive in my entire life. The rumors regarding Trig, Bristol, and Sarah were largely put to rest after the announcement was made that Bristol is pregnant (the most vicious of rumors would have been biologically impossible). Bristol's pregnancy is a whole other topic in and of itself (it is very telling of how we view sex in the United States), and I do want to discuss it in another post. However, rumor after rumor came spewing from a dinosaur mainstream media that would never treat a women on the left the same way. As a woman who grew up in a small town and who shares many of the same values as Sarah Palin, I have no choice but to assume that the mainstream media would treat me with the same disdain and disrespect (in fact, contempt). In fact, there are probably people on the left who probably think that my life isn't worth living. I happen to know for a fact that some conservative men don't even get why women like me would feel this way (again, another post). It is brutally ugly and says a lot about our society.

You can bet that you will hear a lot more from me as election day draws near.


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I've been quiet for the last few days or so. I've watched as my former home, Houston, was devastated by Ike. There has been a lot going on in my family too. My silence hasn't been due to lake of material!

There are several things that I want to discuss here, and I hope to get started tonight.



Friday, September 05, 2008

Conservative Reading List for 2008!

I thought that I would share a reading list with you today. Actually, a friend of mine over at Rose City Reader wanted me to put it together. Not all of the books are partisan and many deal with education and the future. Enjoy!

Summer political reading (June - August 2008):

Liberal Fascism - Jonah Goldberg
The UNTIED States of America - Juan Enriquez
As The Future Catches You - Juan Enriquez
American Evita - Christopher Andersen
Indoctrination U - David Horowitz
End of Education - Neil Postman
Hell to Pay - Barbara Olson

Books I have yet to read:

America Alone : The End of the World as We Know It - Mark Steyn

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business - Neil Postman

Boom!: Voices of the Sixties - Tom Brokaw

Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future - Neil Postman

Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties - Peter Collier, David Horowitz

The Disappearance of Childhood - Neil Postman

Fleeced: How Barack Obama, Media Mockery of Terrorist Threats, Liberals Who Want to Kill Talk Radio, the Do-Nothing Congress, Companies That Help Iran, and Washington Lobbyists for Foreign Governments are Scamming Us-- and What to Do About It - Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Illegal Immigration: Opposing Viewpoints - Margaret Haerens, Book Editor

Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores - Michelle Malkin

John McCain : An American Odyssey - Robert Timberg

Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey - David Horowitz ; Edited, With an Introduction by Jamie Glazov

One Nation: Patriots and Pirates Portrayed by N. C. Wyeth and James Wyeth - Introduction by Lauren Raye Smith, Essays by Tom Brokaw and David Michaelis

The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America's Future - David Horowitz

Teaching as a Subversive Activity - Neil Postman, Charles Weingartner

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology - Neil Postman

The Uncivil Wars: Ireland Today - Padraig O'Malley

Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery - David Horowitz

Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life - John McCain with Mark Salter

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Unhinged Sexism

I simply can not believe the blatantly sexist attacks thrown at Sarah Palin. As a women, I'm beginning to wonder if I've been sold a huge pack of lies. What angers me the most is the suggestion that Sarah Palin isn't a good mother simply because she is running for national office and she happens to have five children. She would not be facing this criticism if she was a father of five children.

What about her husband? He reportedly spends most of his time at home running his businesses. I wouldn't be surprised if his commercial fishing business is largely seasonal. Does this sound familiar? It should to those who know me and my family. My Dad was around much more than most during my childhood due to similar circumstances (he owns and operates a seasonal business).

In fact, during my first nine months of life, my Dad took me everywhere. My Mom decided to go back to teaching and my Dad was my caregiver during the day during the school year. There are stories of how he took me with him when he would take care of business for the canoe livery. One of my Grandfather's best friends talked about it for years. This man, who decidedly came from a very different generation, happened to own our small town newspaper and provided many printing services for my Dad's business. He couldn't get over a businessman caring for his infant daughter, taking her everywhere with him.

My point is this. Gender still does matter a great deal to Democrats when it comes to powerful Republican women. A commentator, a female at that, had the gull to suggest that conservative Republicans are the ones who have issue with a mother of five as the Vice Presidential candidate. Hello? Has this woman met many modern conservatives?

Due to family and societal circumstances, I happen to know roughly an equal amount of conservative Republicans, so-called progressive Democrats, and what I'll term "old school" Democrats (Roosevelt Democrats). Of all of the conservatives I know, there are maybe three out of several dozen that I'd term sexist. They are unlikely to support any female candidate for high national office. Actually, one of the three actually called me almost as it was announced that Palin was the choice. She was upset (yes, women can be some of the most ardent sexists), but as soon as I told her what I had heard about Palin, she was happy (although still disappointed that it wasn't Romney). In my experience, sexism is less prevalent in conservatives than in other camps.

On the other hand, some of the most hypocritical, sexist people I know term themselves progressive Democrats. Many like to term sexual equality in terms of brute sexuality. Women are now able to express themselves sexually. In those terms, many progressives think that that is all that is needed. Yet, they hold women to a double standard. If a woman sleeps around, she is a slut. Think of the portrayal of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears by supposedly PROGRESSIVE Hollywood. Women can have choice, but there is hell to pay if it is the wrong choice.

What about true opportunities, specifically job opportunities? What about what really matters? I, for one, am much more than just a sexual being. This is exactly why this garbage hurled at Palin just leaves me reeling.

I can't help but think of my Grandpa. According to the traditional progressive Democratic party line, he would seemingly be the most sexist person around. He was a lifelong conservative Republican businessman, a father of five daughters, and his wife was a stay-at-home mom. Why then did he win an award from a women's group for his work in supporting women in business? Why did all five of his daughters receive college educations and go on to successful careers, in spite of the fact that all of them are mothers too? Why did four out of five of his granddaughters (of college age) pursue business degrees? He never fit the mold and he never doubted the talents of smart, independent women. My Grandma is the one who made the decision to stay home to raise her five daughters. She may have regretted not pursuing a teaching career, but my Grandpa had nothing to do with her choice (those who know my Grandma know that she is nothing if not her own woman). He would be appalled at what the press is doing to Palin.

Hopefully it is clear just why I am so angry with the treatment of Palin thus far. She is certainly becoming a role model for me. I hope that she continues to inspire a whole generation of women, not just conservative women. She certainly represents a strain of American culture.


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Monday, September 01, 2008

The First Day of School

Due to a relatively new law in Michigan (schools must start after Labor Day), tomorrow will be the first day of school for most students in Michigan (K-12). Quite frankly, I would be kidding myself if I didn't admit that I truly miss school, whether k-12 or college. It was always something to look forward to after a summer of fun, sun, swimming, relatives, and work. Growing up, our household had two very distinct seasons, the school year and the canoeing/camping season.

Most families with children divide their year into the school year and summer; not our family. My parents' campground and canoe livery brought much more work and responsibility to summer. Don't get me wrong, I adored growing up around the canoe livery. It meant seeing my paternal grandparents everyday, time on the river, lots of people everywhere, and learning useful skills. It also meant that I could spend time with my Mom shopping for supplies in Saginaw. Inevitably, we would run to the mall too. I loved having an opportunity to spend time alone with my Mom alone. It was relatively rare.

As much fun as summer always was, it also meant eight to ten weeks of hard work for my parents. Both were always eager for Labor Day weekend. I always looked forward to going back to school. Of course, I would be nervous too, but there was always much more excitement within me. During the weeks before school would start, I would have crazy dreams of the first day of school. It started right before I started 4th grade (I was changing elementary schools that year) and occurred faithfully every year until I graduated from high school. There is a deep part of me that would love to become a teacher, but I'm just not sure if it is meant to be.

Best of luck to all the students and teachers who are going back to school tomorrow. My Mom and sister will be going back as elementary school teachers, and my little brother will be entering his senior year of high school.


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More on Palin

Palin: Bad Mother, Bad Woman | The Anchoress

I have so much to say on Palin being selected as running-mate. I'm still working out exactly what I will say. There are just that many layers to this. However, after reading this particular post by one of my favorite bloggers (even though I'm not Catholic), I needed to share it here. She addresses some of my anger at just how the Democrats have handled this so far.

As far as I'm concerned, ALL women, not just Democratic women, should have a right to speak their mind, to stand up for what they believe in (even if it goes against the Democratic party platform), and to pursue career and personal happiness. She would be hailed as a hero if she were a Democrat. Instead, we see people questioning whether or not she is a good mother just due to the fact that she is now on the national stage.

My anger runs so very deep on this one, but at least now I have someone to admire in politics.


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