The Way Kids Choose to Show Independence

This last weekend I went camping with my family and a neighbor family. We both have camp trailers, so we decided to reserve side-by-side spots at a campground and make a weekend out of it. We all had a great time and the weekend was great. Camping trips take a fair amount of effort on the preparation side of things, but they are typically well worth it.

I have always said that if you really want to get to know someone, travel with them. This is particularly true if you go camping with someone – their true personality comes through. When you see someone first thing in the morning prior to their routine that makes them at their normal self, you get to observe who they really are. Plus, when you spend more than passing time with some, now seeing them for most of the day and night, you see people both during their highs and lows during the day.

Fortunately, the friends we were with are pretty even-keeled; but they do have a teenage daughter that has given them troubles in recent years. When I say troubles, a little more than the typical rebelliousness that all teenagers seem to try out at some point. For the most part, the most difficult times seem to be behind them, but who knows. She still has to make it a point to do the opposite of what her parents say or want, just to show she is in control.

The parents let her bring a friend along on this trip, likely hoping it would make the event a bit more fun for everyone if she was in a better mood. For the most part, this worked, so good planning on their part. On the second day, all the kids were having fun playing in the lake that was all of 100 feet from our camping site. This is in southern Utah, so the weather was hot and the sun was beating down on us. We had all the kids lather up with the sunblock lotion, but the two teenage girls decided not to put any on.

This was a conscious and vocal decision on their part. In their minds, they didn’t need it and their parents were treating them like kids by telling them they needed to do it. Both parents kept reminding the two girls throughout the day that they were getting burnt, and they really needed to put on lotion or get out of the sun. The responses always ranged from “whatever” to “leave us alone” in their ongoing act of defiance.

By nightfall, the tune had changed. Now feeling the effects of the heavy duty first-degree burns, the girls were continuously moaning about their pain. Not only did they feel the need to remind us of how much they were hurting, but they were also blaming her parents for being so irresponsible for not having brought aloe vera lotion to treat their burns. No amount of reminding them of the day filled with warnings of the consequences of not wearing lotion could break through these thick teenage skulls. This was clearly the parent’s fault, and they would hear nothing different.

I have two very young little girls, and this weekend scares me at what I future I have to look forward to! I have an 8-year-old boy going through a very defiant stage right now, and I see my 5-year-old girl taking mental notes and at times trying to imitate him. I try everything I can to not feed the defiance and hopefully shape a rapid passing through this phase in hopes it doesn’t stick.

Yet, I still wonder, no matter what I do is there no hope? Am I headed for the senseless teenage acts of defiance regardless of my efforts? Please, tell me it isn’t so!

Randy Barnett and MiAngel Cody

So this is why I was sitting in an antique barn in La Fox, Illinois, with Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett on the hottest day (so far) of 2012:
1) Randy is one of the country’s foremost libertarian scholars of the Constitution, the leading intellectual in a movement called the “Lost Constitution,” which holds that the document and its amendments include powerful restraints on Federal power, which have been routinely and disastrously ignored by politicians and the courts;

2) An important part of this critique is the belief that the Court went astray in the signal 1942 SCOTUS case Wickard v.Filburn, in which the Court ruled that the US Government could use its power to regulate “commerce… among the several states” (Article I, Section 8) to regulate something that didn’t involve either commerce or several states;

3) The “Filburn” in Wickard v. Filburn was a farmer, Roscoe Filburn, who (according to the legend told around Heritage Foundation campfires to scare young conservatives*) simply wanted to grow wheat for his own use at his own farm, but was forced by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and ultimately by the Supreme Court to pay a fine because he exceeded his growing allotment;

4) That case, in effect, gave an excuse to the Federal Government to expand its power exponentially in the post-WWII years, much to the consternation of conservatives and libertarians such as Randy Barnett;

5) Mr. Filburn’s farm was sold years ago to a developer so we substituted one in La Fox for atmosphere.

Everybody clear?

Randy was also the primary scholarly architect of the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, aka “ObamaCare,” and as our interview took place just days after the Supreme Court upheld the law, we expected him to be in a bad mood. We also expected him to take a partisan line – after all, he was a combatant in one of the most bitter partisan fights of a partisan age – but he was affable, expansive and pleasant, talking not like a partisan but as a scholar, in terms of principles, texts, and history, albeit one who is very practiced at explaining his ideas to non-scholars.

Randy Barnett does not like the Federal government. Again, it’s not a partisan issue; he doesn’t like the thing itself, as opposed to the people currently running it. (Though he doesn’t have many kinds to say about any of them.) As a historian, he holds that the Framers, James Madison, in particular, was very concerned that the Bill of Rights might be construed as a finite list of limits on government; ie, if it’s not specifically prohibited, then the government can do whatever it wants. No, Barnett says: what’s finite is the enumerated powers of the US Government, not its limits. To prove his point, he need only recite the 9th Amendment, which of course he can do from memory:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This Amendment, he says, as well as other Constitutional texts designed to protect personal liberty, have been for two centuries firmly and widely ignored, by the Supreme Court, Presidents and Congresses… an ongoing trifecta of Constitutional malpractice. He can cite many examples – The “Slaughterhouse” Cases, Wickard V. Filburn, etc etc. but his point is simple: The Federal government was created with limited powers, and we continue to ignore those limits to our peril.

The Federal government is a particular danger, he says, because if a State oppresses us, it’s relatively easy to leave. If the country as a whole does it: not so much. But his larger point about the need to restrain the Federal government is really no more than this: if we are concerned, as we should be, with preserving individual liberties, it is better, easier, and more effective to prevent the Government from taking them away in the first place – as the Constitution was written to do – then trying to get them back. This, he says, was the true wisdom of the Framers, and what he and his colleagues are trying to restore to our current understanding of the Constitution.

MiAngel Cody also has a lot to say about the wisdom of the Founders, though in comparison to Barnett’s critiques, she comes across as a wide-eyed idealist. But it’s a well-earned idealism, or at least, a well-tested one. MiAngel works as an assistant federal defender in the court system, representing indigent defendants facing Federal charges.

She has a funny way of talking, in that many of the things she says would qualify as complaining. She told us that the majority of her clients have substance abuse problems or mental issues and that many of them can’t read. But she doesn’t sound like she’s complaining. She’s not bragging either, as in “Look at me, look at how virtuous I am.” She’s describing her role in the justice system – defending people who are otherwise defenseless.

MiAngel has a sense of humor, and was more than willing to joke around with me about her courtroom tactics – she told me, with a straight face, that she’ll sneak into the courtroom and switch around the tables, if she has to, so her side has a better-looking one than the prosecution. But when we sat down and talked about the Constitution – particularly the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments – her voice took on an almost religious tone.

This was true even when she was speaking of the case of her client Reynolds Wintersmith, a first-time drug offender who, in 1994, was sentenced to life in a Federal penitentiary at the age of 20, for a crime committed at the age of 17. The sentence was mandatory, imposed by sentencing laws that were first modified by the Supreme Court, and then overturned by Congress, when they decided that maybe it was a bad idea to require judges to send minors to prison for life for selling crack, no matter what their circumstances. However, neither the Supreme Court ruling nor the legislation was retroactive, so Wintersmith faces dying in jail because of what everybody agrees was a mistake. (MiAngel told me something I knew : there is no parole in the Federal system. A life sentence is a life sentence.)

If you are sympathetic to his case, then you’ll have to concede that Wintersmith has been failed repeatedly by the justice system. First, the judge in his case was forced to sentence him to life, not because he was violent or was a repeat offender, but because in a panic, Congress had decided that crack dealers were as bad as murderers, even 17-year-old crack dealers. Then Congress changed the law, but made no provision for those already sentenced under it; then the various appeals courts refused his entreaties for mercy or a re-sentencing. So now, in his late 30s, all that is possibly left for Wintersmith is the Presidential pardon power granted in Article II, section 2. MiAngel, suffice to say, is particularly grateful to the Framers for that provision.

It was an interesting day of contrasts – and not just because the barn wasn’t air-conditioned, and the courthouse where we interviewed MiAngel was. Randy and MiAngel have something surprising in common, given their differing views: both have worked in the criminal justice system in Cook County, IL, MiAngel as a defender, Randy as a prosecutor. Randy was the hammer in the hands of the state, wielding state power against whomever he and his colleagues saw fit, and now has a deep distrust of that same power, and has spent his subsequent career trying to limit it. MiAngel fights the government every day on behalf of the powerless, the poor, and yes, the guilty, and yet still seems to admire the power she’s fighting.

I would guess that’s because she still sees herself as part of the system, and therefore ascribes to the government the value of the work that she herself was doing. Maybe Randy felt the same way – after all, your view of state power would be affected profoundly by whether you saw its primary role as one of assuring prosecution and punishment, or defense and freedom.

Interesting tidbits about each of them:

Randy says that the two highest pinnacles of his professional life, the two things he’s most glad he’s able to say he’s done, were:
1) Arguing a case (Gonzales V. Raich) in the Supreme Court of the United States, and
2) appearing as a lawyer in the low budget sci-fi film InAlienable, written by Star Trek’s Walter Koenig.

As for MiAngel, she told me the most terrifying moment of her life was
when she hurt herself badly in a flag-football game. (She’s a
cornerback) But was really interesting about her is that when you call
someone “MiAngel” all day because that’s their name, it sounds like
you’re being really affectionate, and after a short, while you become
used to it and then you start feeling affectionate and generally quite
happy. It’s the verbal equivalent of making yourself cheerful by
forcing yourself to smile. Fun.

It’s A Scary World

Brad, the “dad”

I had just dropped the Elf at the middle school when I heard a familiar name on the radio. It was the top-of-the-hour headlines: a 13-year-old had been shot and killed over a dispute involving a pick-up basketball game. Shot twice, no less. By a fellow student.

And it happened at my old middle school. Back when it was still called “junior high,” and less than a hundred yards from the house I lived in at the time. I suddenly, chillingly, realized that I had been playing pick-up basketball (badly) on that same outdoor, asphalt court, at the same time of day, exactly forty years ago. Before they put up the security fence all around the campus. Before the fire that burned most of the original building to the ground. Before…well, apparently before everything changed.

Yes, I know it was a long time ago, but this wasn’t some impoverished gang-infested, inner-city school on the Bad Side of Town. This was the same moderately overcrowded, moderately well-run school in the same middle-class, highly diverse, Southern California suburb it had been in 1968, so…what the hell has happened? What kind of world has grown up around us in the last forty years? What was I dropping my daughter into? It wasn’t just ironic that I had just deposited my own kid at her own eight grade mere moments before; it was downright terrifying.

California suburb

I’m probably worrying too much. I don’t even live in that neighborhood, or that town, or even that county, anymore. And I know we hear stories like this every few days, and click our tongues and shake our heads. I know the only thing that makes this one different for me is that it’s my school, in my ancient and distant home town. But still…is it worse ‘out there’ than it was forty years ago? Or am I just being paranoid and overprotective? Again?

Mary, the “mom”

I don’t think it’s paranoid or overprotective to worry, because there is plenty to worry about, but it doesn’t accomplish anything. All we can do is teach our kids to be good and be careful and then we just have to hope they’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When I say ‘all we can do is teach them to be good and careful’, I don’t mean the standard “be good parents and it will all work out”. I think we need to make sure our children are tolerant of others and, to quote the ‘Golden Rule’, “treat others as they would like to be treated”. I’ve been trying to get my 9-year-old to see a little social squabble from the other girl’s perspective. Maybe it’s a lot of these little teachable moments that add up to them having empathy for others. It seems as though much of the senseless violence in schools today is perpetrated by kids who have been bullied or excluded. Sometimes all it takes is one kid standing up for the outcast to make that kid’s life more tolerable. Of course, if I’m being honest, I have to admit that standing up for the outcast against a popular crowd could be downright dangerous in and of itself. But, if enough kids have empathy for others, maybe some of this senseless violence will stop.

However, since it won’t all stop, I also think we need to try to educate our children to be “street smart” and the ‘street’ might be a city street or it might be the playground at school, but they need to know to look out for trouble and avoid it. That can be a little hard to accomplish in suburbia, but I think we’ve got to try.

All that said, the news I heard on my drive home today included a report of a group of third graders plotting to attack their teacher. My youngest is a third grader – it’s beyond my comprehension that 9-year-olds would do such a thing. It makes you wonder what they’ll be doing when they’re in middle school. I guess I’m worried, even if it doesn’t accomplish anything.

California suburb

Rach, the “teen”

Every year, without fail, there is a bomb threat at my high school in the suburbs. Every student here looks forward to “bomb threat day” – we love it. They take us out of classes and let us hang out on the fields across from the school. It’s a great day spent in the sun while bomb-sniffing dogs search the entire building and grounds.

In fact, we have lockdowns (where we aren’t allowed to leave our classrooms for an hour while the dogs sniff the building, or someone gets arrested) more than we have fire drills or student assemblies.

Violence is part of our country, our culture, our schools, and our media. And that’s what really so scary to me. That society lets all this violence filter through into our thoughts and the thoughts of our children.

Of course, education is the best way to protect people from violence. Teaching them that it is not OK to harm someone with actions or with words is important. And, sadly, it’s our only option right now.

So, mom and dad, you are dropping your kids into scary violence and the hate-obsessed world. And I’m sorry.

I don’t want to live in a world where kids shoot other kids, or where students plan kidnappings of their teachers. But I don’t have a choice. It’s really scary for us, knowing that there could be shooting at our high school or college campus, or that the draft would come back and we’d all be shipped off to war.

We want you to worry for us because then it doesn’t seem so irrational when we are afraid of what’s next.

Couples Negril Vs. Couples Swept Away

Couples who are looking to get away and spend intimate quality time together travel to the tropical island paradise of Jamaica. The first all-inclusive couples only resort appeared in Jamaica in 1978 and was called the Couples Resort. The concept was formulated by Tower Isle Hotel owner, Abe Issa. Still in the Issa family, the Couples brand of luxury all-inclusive resorts has grown to include Couples Negril and Couples Swept Away. Although both resorts are Couples properties, there are many differences between them.

Couples Negril Vs. Couples Swept Away

Both resorts are located on the western coast of Jamaica in the resort area of Negril. Couples Swept Away is located on the white sands of Negril’s famous Seven Mile beach and gives guests the opportunity to enjoy the casual and laid-back atmosphere of Negril up close. Guests that prefer a more private atmosphere will choose to stay at Couples Negril which is located over five miles from downtown Negril on its own private beach on Bloody Bay.

Couples Swept Away is a larger property which has 312 suites and six restaurants, while Couples Negril is slightly smaller housing only 234 rooms and suites with five restaurants.

If keeping fit is important to you on your tropical isle getaway, Couples Swept Away has a ten acre fitness facility that offers equipment and classes for all fitness levels. Although there is fitness equipment available at Couples Negril, there are not any classes offered. Group exercise is available in the form of nature walks and playing beach volleyball.

The Best South Beach Hotels on a BudgetRooms
Both resorts have a variety of rooms and suites available, however they range in the number of jacuzzi suites available. Garden suites and Beachfront suites at Couples Negril have jacuzzis, while only the Great House jacuzzi suites at Couples Swept Away have jacuzzis. All rooms in both resorts are air-conditioned with a ceiling fan and a king size bed. Additionally all rooms have private bathrooms, CD players, blow dryers and safety deposit boxes. Except for the Garden suites and Atrium suites at Couples Swept Away, all rooms have satellite television. Couples Negril has upgraded to flat screen televisions in all of their rooms.

Because Couples resorts are all-inclusive, there is food available 24 hours per day. Both resorts offer full and continental breakfasts and a variety of dining options throughout the day. Their menus consist of continental cuisine, Caribbean cuisine and Jamaican favorites that are served buffet style throughout the day. However, during the evening there are significant differences between the cuisine offered in the ala carte restaurants. The Lemon Grass restaurant at Swept Away offers Thai cuisine, while Heliconia at Couples Negril offers Mediterranean cuisine and Lychee offers an Asian fusion menu.

Both resorts offer virtually the same activities. There is live entertainment every evening that includes comedy, dancing and other favorites. Unlimited green fees are included for golf enthusiasts that would like to practice their swing at the Negril Country Club.


The Brazilians are the only people in Latin America who don’t speak Spanish (except Haiti) and they have a quite different behavior from the South Americans because their homeland is Portugal rather than Spain.

Although Brazil is a stranger to racism, it is largely a society of classes. It is enough to examine the composition of government bodies. In Brazil is still important to come from a good family.

The state slowly begins to derive from the success in the business area and political influence.

BRAZILBrazilians have a very small comfortable distance (80 cm to unlike 1.2 meters as the British) and are happy to work near each other. They are tactile, affectionate and very extroverted. Women are always welcoming another woman with kisses on both cheeks, and men join hands.

Brazilians consider it is rude to arrive on time when someone invited you to his house for dinner. Business meetings rarely start at the scheduled time, and usually lasts more than the scheduled time, thus delaying all subsequent meetings.

Glib and overly talkative, the Brazilians call the gestures and facial expressions in order to emphasize their point of view. Although sometimes seem overly emotional, they only intend to make you understand that their words come from their heart. As their speech is longer, they fell that they consolidate your loyalty, as a foundation upon which it can be built and created long-term sympathies.


Try not to respond with a suspicious attitude at Brazilians’ warm behavior because they strive to please the others and thank them whenever possible. If you are stiff and formal, you will confuse them.

As for the tourist attractions, Sao Paulo is an important touristic center and a city that is worth being visited by all the tourists from all around the world. You will feel great wandering on Avenida Paulista or through the neighborhood in which are most of the constructions built since 1900.