Friday, September 28, 2012

Brief Political Musings

I have not written much here about my political thoughts this year. I have brought them up a lot on facebook, but all my blogging has backed off as I focus on homeschooling.
I do want to say a couple of things though.

Firstly, as I have said before, I am an idealist. I am frustrated by the two-party system in the US, as are many people. I have a few thoughts about what would be better (abolishing parties altogether for example, so that candidates would have to make their own statements of belief, rather than just toeing the party platform line), however I continue to believe there is one thing we can all do that (IF many of us will do it) may begin to be a voice for change. That is to vote third party. We have seen small ripples begin in the houses of congress, where "Tea Party" candidates have won elections and begun to push views that are beyond the limited (and remarkably similar) stances of the two biggest parties. Whether you like the Tea Party or not, it must be admitted that this is a voice being heard, and all because people refused to accept "the lesser of two evils" but demanded their right to vote their true conscience.
So I heartily support voting for who you believe in most, regardless of affiliation or statistical likelihood of winning. I realize that our electoral college system will stand in the way of this having much effect on presidential elections (yet), but remember how I'm an idealist? I look forward with hope to a time when that system will be adjusted or abolished. And in the meantime, voting third party CAN make real changes in all the other races.

Secondly, I very strongly urge everyone to consider two things about the issues. Firstly, obviously, the positions taken by the candidates; but even more importantly, which issues are current, pressing, and likely to come up in the next 4 years. For example, regardless of your stance on abortion, our supreme court is so evenly split that I don't see Roe vs Wade getting overturned in the near future. So how much does that stance matter right now? On the other hand, we are currently involved in multiple overseas conflicts, and know that Iran is very close to having nuclear weapons, therefore foreign policy positions and plans seem extremely important at this time.
I have reached the conclusion that, while I side with different candidates on different issues, that I should give more weight to the issues that are likely to be "on the docket" in the coming few years. So, personally, I am most concerned about foreign policy, unemployment, national debt, gay marriage, the environment, and healthcare. (I still care a great deal about abortion, education, etc etc, I just don't see them as likely to get much attention in the near future, due to the long list of more-pressing issues).

So, since it is deeply unlikely that there is a candidate (for any race) who perfectly represents your ideals, I suggest the pragmatic approach of considering what issues are likely to be the center of focus in the next few years, and focus on those in choosing your vote. When I was 18, my first vote was based almost entirely on the one issue I understood (abortion), and I think it grossly limited me. Politics, economics, and social structure are complicated and multi-faceted things, and the responsible voter should consider as broad a slice of the issues as they are able. It is unconscionable, in my opinion, to focus on one or even two issues at the expense of all the others.

A minister in Texas has issued a request for 40 days of fasting, prayer, and action (from now until election day). Regardless of the issues or candidates you favor, I urge you to take this time to consider these things seriously and carefully and not make snap decisions on anything. If you are so inclined, pray for the candidates, pray over the issues, pray for the voters, and for the leaders who are not up for election but who will remain in office over the coming years. Voting is a responsibility which should not be approached casually or haphazardly. We are blessed to live in a place where we have a right to contribute our voice to the political direction of our nation; let us live up to that responsibility.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Uno Math

Today we played a math game with Uno cards. I like Uno cards because the numbers are big and easy to see (unlike face cards), and it is just single digit numbers 0-9 (unlike Rook which goes to 14).

We were practicing numbers, so first we sorted number cards from not-number cards (sorting skills are on the list for kindergarten). We set the non-numbers (the skips, draws and wilds) aside, and played with just number cards.

I dealt out about 5 cards per person (we play open face usually because it's hard for the little guys to hold many cards in their hand), and set out a draw pile (face down) and a play pile (face up).

This game I named "Up or Down or Stay the Same."
To play, look at the card on top of the play pile. Each player may place a card that is up (one bigger), down (one smaller) or stays the same as the visible card. (Kindergarteners are supposed to practice counting both forward and backward from 10). We used the 0 card to be both 0 and 10, so the number sequence was cyclical and there were always 3 potential cards that could be played. 
We started off taking turns but soon turned to everyone just playing a card when they could. Everyone drew one more card if nobody was able to play. With a little help my not-quite 3-year-old got in on the fun too and enjoyed putting down cards.

For younger kids, you can play simply matching games, or counting only up, or play it by color rather than by numbers. An Uno deck has nearly limitless options!

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