For Those Interested

Mrs. Yeoman Farmer’s mother’s funeral will be held the day after Thanksgiving.

Her obituary can be found here.

I’m publishing this post from my brother-in-law’s house, and feeling the strangest mix of emotions. We’re certainly thankful that MYF’s mother’s long suffering has ended, but there is still a very big empty place at the Thanksgiving table.

Thanks again to all of you who have been accompanying our family with your prayers these days. It has made more of a difference than you can know.

Nearing the End

Mrs. Yeoman Farmer’s mother has been hospitalized for the last week or so, in the most critical portion of the ICU. As many of you know, she suffered a series of strokes several years ago and has been chronically ill for some time.

I just got a call from MYF, with the sad news that the end is officially now near. Her mother has gone into a spiral, and will not be recovering; there are simply too many systems shutting down all at once. If she is still with us on Friday, that is when the life support will begin to be removed.

As always, your prayers are greatly appreciated. MYF’s mother is among the best-prepared people, spiritually, for this passage. But I hope we can all accompany her with our own prayers, and ensure she makes the best possible transition into eternal life.

Updates will follow as I have them.

UPDATE: Saturday morning, Nov 22nd. MYF is at the hospital with other members of the family. Her mother has been in constant decline for the last 24 hours or so, and it is looking like she will be removed from life support later today. A time has not yet been set, but it will be soon. And from then, it will be simply a matter of waiting. As always, your prayers are greatly appreciated.

FINAL UPDATE: MYF’s mother passed away at 2:35am on Monday the 24th. It was a very peaceful and spiritual death, and both MYF and her father were there at the bedside. For those of you who are local, the funeral will most likely be this Saturday and will definitely be at St Joseph’s in Jackson, but the details have not yet been arranged. Thanks to all of you who have been accompanying us with your prayers.

Pirates!

The recent rise of piracy on the high seas, with even very large cargo ships being taken over, is a troubling development. And as experts point out, military action can’t really solve this problem effectively. It doesn’t make much sense for the U.S. Navy or the Royal Air Force to send a grain freighter or oil tanker to the bottom of the sea — and such an approach would be fraught with legal difficulties. And even if one boards a pirated ship to take it back, what procedures does one use to arrest the pirates? Which nation’s forces ought to do it? What rights would the suspected pirates have, and in which country’s court system?

Analysts said, however, that the seizure of the Sirius Star exposed the use of foreign warships as “a sticking plaster” that would not solve the problem. “Maritime security operations in that area are addressing the symptoms not the causes,” said Jason Alderwick, a maritime defence analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Roger Middleton, a Horn of Africa specialist at the Chatham House think-tank, said that the capture was a crucial escalation. “Now that they have shown they are able to seize an enormous ship like this, it is beyond a military solution. You won’t fix this without a political solution.”

I’m not an expert in the subject, but here’s a quick thought for what it’s worth: Why not have the U.S. Congress issue Letters of Marque to private mercenaries (“privateers“), who could then act with official government sanction — but outside official government channels — to take these pirated ships back. The shipping companies, or their insurance companies, could pay a bounty to these privateers when the ship and cargo were successfully recovered — not unlike the way repo men are compensated. No sovereign military need involve itself in the conflict, and what happens to the original pirates during these operations needs not be a concern of the U.S. government.

The Atlantic Monthly published a long and fascinating article several years ago called “Anarchy at Sea,” describing the operations of one band of modern pirates, and how easy it was for them to capture commercial vessels. The piece speculated about a few possible solutions, but came to no firm conclusions as to how best to solve the problem.

I wonder if some variant on Letters of Marque might just do the trick. It’s one of the least-used enumerated powers in the U.S. Constitution, but may prove itself as useful today as it seemed to our Framers 220 years ago.

Dandelion Break

In the spirit of Opus and the old Bloom County cartoon strip, I propose we all step away from the political discussion…and take a brief dandelion break.

Posting will be sparse over the next week, but I’d like to leave you with this video. Have been sitting on it for a few months now, waiting for the right time to share it. Embedding it below, but it’s best if you open in its own window and watch in high quality. And crank the volume. And smile.

Acting Barack

A caller to a talk radio program earlier this week made an interesting point, and one I had not previously considered. She was an older, well-spoken black woman (the VP-elect would probably describe her as “articulate”), who told the conservative host that she agreed with both Presidential candidates on certain issues, but had ended up voting for Barack Obama. She was calling to share a personal observation: that, in the wake of election day, “doing well in school” had suddenly become a lot more important to a lot more black kids in her area. Teachers have been reporting fewer discipline problems. Kids are paying more attention in class and to their schoolwork.

In too many predominantly-black schools, kids who are bright and want to do well are denigrated by their peers for “acting white.” This leads to a perverse and ingrained culture that encourages delinquency and underachievement. (Mrs Yeoman Farmer and her siblings attended predominantly-white Catholic schools, so they did not encounter this problem.) If Barack Obama’s election helps turn this situation on its head, and academic success becomes regarded as “acting Barack” (I just made that phrase up), I’d say that is a tremendous cause for celebration.

I should emphasize that I still believe these election results, on balance, are not as good for the country as a whole (or for blacks in particular) as the alternative outcome would have been. But as much as I would prefer not to have Barack Obama as my president, the fact is … he will be. And if/when his presidency produces good fruit, I will be among the first to acknowledge it.

In the meantime, I’d be very curious to hear from any of you out there who are educators or otherwise connected to urban public schools. Are you detecting a post-November 4th difference in black kids’ attitudes toward education and academic success?

From the Comments

An anonymous reader comments (I tried to allow it to be posted, but fouled up the moderation, so am pasting it in from the email notification):

Sadly the VAST majorty of hate I have encountered in the great land is from conservitives. Always has been, and alway will be…

If that has been your experience, Anyonymous, that is indeed a sad thing. And I apologize on behalf of whomever from our side has expressed “hate” toward you, whatever that was.

I’ve been thinking that “hate” is probably not the word I should have used, as it assumes we understand the interior disposition of the person expressing some kind of opinion. I’ve been using “hate” as a shorthand for “vulgarity,” “vitriol,” and anger. And I’ve seen more of all those things from our own side than I’d like — but I challenge the objective observer to do the following: open up two browser windows, one with Daily Kos and the other with Redstate or Powerline … and tell us which posts (including those from the commenters) have more vitriol and vulgarity.

Of course, there aren’t any truly objective observers of politics. Each of us processes these messages through his own set of filters, and draws his own conclusions. I’m simply sharing with you all what my own experiences have been.

Here’s a practical, recent example: Think about the anger and vandalism directed at the Mormon temple in Los Angeles this last week. Can anyone find a similar YouTube video of angry Mormons (or Knights of Columbus) chanting “Faggots burn in hell!” or even “Tax Lambda Legal!” outside the headquarters of a No on 8 organization? I do know there are gay-haters out there, but my sense is that the Yes on 8 rallies looked and sounded a lot more like the families in this video than like the scene outside the Mormon temple.

Our Plan

I think Mrs. Yeoman Farmer and I have figured out how we’re going to weather the upcoming financial crisis: get our family farm reclassified as a bank! Then we will be eligible for, oh, a few billion dollars from the Fed.

Or maybe we should call ourselves an auto manufacturer. I’ve done so much work on my own old cars, I sometimes feel like a car company. Looks like “car companies” are going to be getting a pretty good chunk of change, too.

God help this country.

UPDATE: After publishing this post, I went out to check the mail. Once again, my mailbox was stuffed with credit card offers. And a couple of weeks ago, I had my ultimate “would you like fries with that?” moment. While finishing up a phone call with our bank about a completely unrelated issue, the customer service agent pointed out that I was eligible for a $50,000 auto loan…and was I interested in buying a car? No, I replied. And if I was, we’d probably get something cheap and second-hand, and pay cash. (I couldn’t imagine ever spending anything in the ballpark of $50k for a car.)

Okay, but the fifty grand is there if you want it, the agent assured me.

I thanked him politely, and wrapped up the conversation. But couldn’t help asking myself…where are all these frozen credit markets?

And how much of our current financial mess is due to people accepting loans they really had no need for, when a more basic house or car would’ve done perfectly fine? When we bought our first house, the bank told us we qualified for about twice as large of a mortgage as we ended up using. We would’ve loved a larger house, but the only way we could’ve paid that larger mortgage was to send Mrs Yeoman Farmer back into the workforce. It’s becoming clear that during those same years, many other people were making different decisions than we were about debt. I suppose we can only hope that the current dislocations help people choose to prioritize differently in the future. A lot of us may not have any other choice.