Sunday, September 30, 2007

What are the chances?

At 1:47 this afternoon, two people, one in Chicago and one in Colorado, googled searches about Roger Vernam, an illustrator of children's books, and both found my blog. I hope they found the second one too. Maybe they were discussing him on the phone?

An October resolution

Making resolutions isn't my thing. Or maybe making them is, and keeping them isn't. I just couldn't tell you how often I start the month saying something like, "This month I'm going to try a new recipe," or "This month I'm going to see a movie," or "This month I'm going to learn how to use and upload my memoirs." Tomorrow is October 1 (book club, and I'm only on p. 50 of Fieldwork, which one review describes as a fictional account of "3 separate tribes--the fictional Dyalo, American Protestant missionaries, and the tribe that lives in ivory towers . . .studying other tribes"). But I did find a wonderful peach crisp recipe I might try, I mean, if I were going to make a resolution. It's not peach season, but it sounds good, and easy to modify for Splenda. I'll let you know if it's really yummy, and if I finish the book.

Fresh peach crisp recipe is a delicious dessert with cinnamon and whipped topping or ice cream.

2 1/2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled, pitted
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup soft butter

Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 375°.
Slice peeled, pitted peaches into the prepared baking dish. Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon into a medium bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Sprinkle crumbs evenly over peaches in baking dish. Bake at 375° for 45 to 50 minutes, until topping is golden brown and peaches are tender. Serve peach crisp warm with cream or whipped topping.

From About Southern U.S. Cuisine

What teens can do to help the world

St. Francis DeSales High School seniors were protesting the death penalty at the Ohio Statehouse last week (Columbus Dispatch, 9-27-07). I don't support the death penalty (there were 2 executions in Ohio this year) because I don't want to be drawn into doing evil by the evil deeds of others. However, these teens could save thousands of lives each year by working for raising the legal driving age to 18. Yes, it's that simple. About 6,000 teens are killed each year in auto accidents because they don't have the maturity and brain development to handle the constant decisions about safety and driving that it requires. Anyone driving with a teen in the car, even adults, increase their risk of an accident.

I won't hold my breath that they'll try to make a real difference about something they face every day. Maybe they could start small and just turn off their cell phones while driving.
    Nationwide, car crashes are the leading cause of teen death — among especially 16-year-olds, according to the highway safety group. Statistics include motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.

    Teen motor vehicle fatalities declined in the 1980s, almost entirely because of crackdowns on underage drinking. But the decline leveled off in the 1990s, and the rates haven't changed much since.

    A number of factors make teens vulnerable to auto crashes. They lack experience behind the wheel. Their brains are not mature enough to handle the multiple mental tasks driving requires. They don't always wear seat belts. They're more likely to speed, especially at night and especially with other teens in the

Saturday, September 29, 2007


NPR's liberal bias is aggravating

Usually I don't listen to our local NPR, WOSU Radio, but you all know what's the fare on Saturday--garden shows and sports. So three different times today my dial stopped at WOSU-AM.

First in the car I got Wesley Clark, complaining about Bush in Iraq but suggesting, I think, that we need to take out Iran. I only caught about 5 minutes, so I'm not sure of his drift or if he's running again. Then about an hour later on a return trip I got a book interview, and the author was genuflecting before the memory of FDR and complaining that conservatives portray liberals as spendthrifts taxing us to the poor house, but liberals haven't been in control since the 1960s. Huh? Where was this guy during the years the Democrats ran Congress and Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were in office? The interview was so worthless, I'm not even bothering to track it down for you.

But the absolute worst was around 5 p.m, when needing noise while I fixed dinner, I heard on WOSU-AM a tiny clip of Bush's speech at the U.N. about dictators, and then a whole bunch of sound bites from various dictators slamming President Bush charging violations of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and dripping blood of the innocent Iraqis. They could have at least balanced the time.

Right after the Bush slamming with my tax dollars where NPR became a mouthpiece for dictators I might not otherwise had to listen to, I got Nina Totenburg just aghast by Justice Thomas' new autobiography. Boy, is she miffed that he's escaped the plantation. Successful black folk should be more respectful and know their place, I suppose.
    "Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' autobiography My Grandfather's Son hits bookstores Oct. 1, coinciding with the start of the court's new term. Justice Thomas received a $1.5 million advance for the memoir, which is being promoted by conservative interest groups. It covers his life up to his swearing in as a member of the high court. He offers vivid, and at time seething, details about events surrounding his nomination, the charges of sexual harassment against him by Anita Hill, and his memories of growing up poor in rural Georgia. NPR obtained an advance copy." [from promo]
Nina's shocked, just shocked, that he's made this book so personal. It's just unseemly, you know? Now, any other black leader or celebrity growing up poor without his parents would be lauded for "a tortured soul," but Justice Thomas is a conservative. He's also been skewered in another book, according to Eugene Volokh in WSJ.

Thinking about what to have for dinner

I've thawed some steak, but pizza sure sounds good.
What Your Pizza Reveals

Your appetite is pretty average. You don't go overboard - but you don't deprive yourself either.

You are a very picky pizza eater. Not any pizza will do. You fit in best in the Northeast part of the US.

You like food that's traditional and well crafted. You aren't impressed with "gourmet" foods.

You are dependable, loyal, and conservative with your choices.

You are cultured and intellectual. You should consider traveling to Vienna.

The stereotype that best fits you is geek. You're the type most likely to order pizza to avoid leaving your computer.

Are the smartest and best educated becoming more helpless?

or do they just expect more? In a survey of faculty and staff at Ohio State, the staff rated higher on job satisfaction than faculty. 68% of staff said they were satisfied; 65% of faculty were. The faculty (43%) also had more problems finding backup child care or temporary child care than the staff (38%).

When you think benefits, you're probably out of date--vacation, health, holidays. Both the faculty and staff have bunches of benefits--many of which I never used at all when I was faculty (but our net salaries are reduced to pay for all of these):

same sex domestic partner health benefits
sponsored dependent health benefits (I think that means they live in the household)
child care facilities
state of the art recreation facilities
special rooms for nursing parents
paid parental leave
lunch and learn programs
weight and tobacco management programs
elder care resource and referral
tuition assistance
adoption assistance
relocation assistance
and so forth

But they can't find back up child care. Tsk. Tsk.

What book would you most want your kids to read?

Here's a really odd response, showing great narrowness of mind and ignorance of what's on the shelves of bookstores and libraries, from an Ohio State University Professor of English, Kathy Fagan:
    "I would be glad for my kids to read anything. Except maybe books by Anne Coulter." onCampus, Sept. 20, 2007, p. 16
See? Didn't I tell you about banned books starting in the selection process? I wonder what sort of grades she gives to conservatives. A sample of her poetry

Fannie, Fred and Sam and the subprime mess

Most of the folks both parties in Congress want to bail out of the widening home mortgage mess are not the poor minority Pedros and Letitias in the red lined neighborhoods of Cleveland you read about in the newspaper sob stories. They are very wealthy investors who were flipping houses in Sarasota, or hiding from the tax man in Colorado, or packaging jumbo loans or going after no doc and low doc loans in Chicago.

Here's an ad in one of my newest premiere magazines, Vertical Living.
    A $1,000,000 loan with payments of only $2,528 per month
    1.000% start rate / 7.516% APR
    Fixed payment for 1st year
    No prepayment penalties
    Interest-only payments
    Unlimited cash out-refinancing available
Adjust those numbers a little, and the appeal is the same as it was for all those low income buyers a year ago. How long before this buyer is asking you for help?

At this time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac* can't go that high, but oh, they are knocking, knocking at the door of Congress. Last Saturday the WSJ Hot Topic pointed out that FHA (Federal Housing Authority, a New Deal program that long ago outlived its usefulness) wants to suspend downpayment requirements to insure even zero-equity loans. :
    It's a testament to the FHA's underwriting ineptitude that, even during the biggest housing boom in a generation, the agency's delinquency rate has somehow doubled over the last 10 years. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, the FHA's delinquency rate was 5 times higher than the rate on conventional prime mortgage loans, double the rate on loans with private, mortgage insurance, and even slightly high than the rate on subprime loans. . . Downpayment assistance program has suffered default rates as high as 20%. "Uncle Sam: Subprime Lender" 9-22-2007, WSJ

Freddie and Fannie
went up to Capitol Hill
to fawn for a bigger profit
Sticking you and me with the bill.

With help from our taxes
They'll package and resell,
a windfall for the banks and rich,
for the rest of us, economic hell.

Years ago the original aim
was to help the struggling poor.
Now they seek those jumbo loans--
Congress and Bush! Show them the door!

*Freddie Mac is the actual name of The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, created in 1970. It buys mortgages on the secondary market, pools them, and sells them as mortgage-backed securities to investors on the open market. Fannie Mae is the former Federal National Mortgage Association, which used to be a government agency, but is now a private corporation. In some sort of quasi-nightmare, these two are supposed to be "competition" for each other.

A mother of three teens writes:

" . . . will someone please tell me why I probably had forty classes teaching me how to give birth, and was even offered classes fifth time round, (as clearly nature had changed in the previous 20 months), why we were given midwives, health visitors and regular support in child rearing for the first five years of the children's lives, five times round, but, just when it starts to get really challenging, interesting, impossible to deal with . . .everyone has disappeared off the face of the earth"? [she's British--we don't get THAT much help in the USA unless we're on welfare] Sally Writes.

4149 Jenna Bush's book for young people

Jenna Bush has authored a book "Ana's Story; a Journey of Hope" (HarperCollins, 2007, 209 pp. $18.99). It is non-fiction, for teenagers and about AIDS, is based on 6 months of conversations with women and children with HIV or AIDS when the president's daughter was working with UNICEF. It was reviewed, probably reluctantly, by Bob Minzesheimer in USAToday. In general, he was positive, pointing out it was easy to read with 35 pages of sources addressing common myths about AIDS and HIV. The paper edition differed from the online version. In paper he wrote that it doesn't address how much U.S. support should go to organizations that distribute condoms as opposed to religious groups that promote only abstinence. How picky is that? Reviewers and talking heads always want the book they themselves didn't make the effort to write and publish. I wonder if Minzesheimer would board an airplane that had the same failure rate as condoms?

In another column this reviewer points out that when Oprah even mentions a title (Eat, pray, love; Middlesex) it leap frogs to the top of the best seller list. That won't happen to a book by a conservative, even if the topic is one of her favorites.

The commenters at the revised online article are the usual collection of Bush-haters and author-wannabees complaining about favoritism. They are well worth reading for their ignorance, pomposity and narrowmindedness, just in case you'd forgotten how green the left is. If even five young people read this book and decide that HIV is probably something in their future if they don't change their lifestyle, she will have achieved her goal.

Friday, September 28, 2007


What are the Democrats up to now?

Politics would be my guess. They probably prolonged the war by at least two years by giving the terrorists encouragement and comfort (as in Vietnam), now with the taste of the presidency on their tongues, they're bleating a new baaa baaack off. Not a single one of the front runners would promise to have brought the troops home by the END of their first term as President. "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting," said Hillary Rodham Clinton. "I think it's hard to project four years from now," said Barack Obama. "I cannot make that commitment," said John Edwards.

    "Iraq is getting better, and the opposition to the war is, in the current campaign cycle, is starting to shift away from the "war is lost" to something more like "stabilizing the government over time would not be worth the cumulative cost in American lives and treasure."

    All sober Democrats realize not only that the ad was a political disaster, but more importantly, that the Moore/Cindy Sheehan/Hollywood ticking bombs actually scare off Americans, even as they demand more influence among the candidates." Victor Davis Hanson
Still, I don't trust them not to flip again. Hillary's sneaking in her health care all dressed up like it's the early 90s while we catch our breath about Iraq. She talks tough on national security. Now. Wasn't it just a few weeks ago . . . Politics.

Do you think we have enough photos?

Would you believe we've actually winnowed these down to our favorites? We viewed the disk several times, discussing each one. My husband is returning the album he bought because there weren't enough slots. Now I've just gone through mine and ordered about 45 on-line. That's the problem with digital cameras!

I think the cat has been playing with the layout

Friday Family Photo

Tonight we're going out with our daughter and son-in-law to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary. I've never seen a prettier bride, nor had more fun at a party! For the first and only time I had all my own family here in Columbus; we had a fabulous reception and wonderful wedding breakfast the next day. It was just lots of fun.

Saying their vows

My brother, niece, two sisters, great-nephew, me and Mom

Aside: Wedding dresses with some coverage are much prettier and more graceful than strapless or slinky-slip styles with body parts falling out.

The fascination eludes me

Although I'm not into entertainment statistics, when the first day opening sales of a computer game go beyond popular movies and books, beating out movies like "Spider-Man 3" and books such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I at least take notice.
    Gamers have made "Halo 3" the biggest launch in entertainment history by scooping up enough units to bring in an estimated US$170 million in its first 24 hours on store shelves, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced Thursday. TechNewsWorld
But I don't get it. Even mentioning this should uptick my site meter. Oh well. Back to my October Book Club selection.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

A week ago we returned from a fabulous trip to Ireland, the ancestral home of about 45 million North Americans. Here's a few of the things I saw in Ireland that were new, unfamiliar, or unexpected.

1. Laundry drying on the clothes lines--rural and urban communities both. In many U.S. neighborhoods this is against zoning or neighborhood regulations. You don't realize it has disappeared until you travel where it is common.

2. Unusually large windows, even in modest homes--there used to be a "window tax" in Ireland, but they're over that now! Glass enclosed entry ways for front doors of homes and town houses so the house can be open but not exposed to the weather.

3. Very strict no-smoking rules. Fines for public places could be over 3,000 euros (over $4,000).

4. More auburn and red-haired people in one location than I'd ever seen in my life, and I married a red head. Even so, most are brunette with very pale skin and light eyes. Recent DNA testing show the Irish are probably not Celtic at all, but descended from an area of Spain from which they migrated after the last glaciers melted in Ireland (earlier global warming). When the Celts arrived from Europe, the native Irish absorbed them and took over their culture.

5. Dark skinned, head covered nannies pushing prams of chubby, pale Irish babies on cobble stone and brick walks. The Celtic Tiger has spawned 2 income couples with few or no children.

6. Immigrants from many countries--Eastern Europe, Africa, middle east, far east, Pacific islands, even the U.K. and Germany. They were working primarily in the tourist industry (I'm guessing strict unions keep them out of the skilled trades), so that's who the tourist from America sees. Looks just like home!

7. More Mercedes and BMWs than I've ever seen in Central Ohio, even in our wealthiest suburb, Dublin. However, there are one-car garages attached to the most upscale, newest, elaborate homes. There might be 4 or 5 luxury cars in the drive-way, but the building space is being used for the house, not the automobile. A welcome change from our pattern where the garages often dwarf the main house and the cars are still in the drive-way.

8. Platters of food with mashed potatoes hiding under the fish, and roast potatoes mixed with either parsnips or rutabagas on the side.

9. The most beautiful large, healthy grass-fed animals I've ever seen--the soil is very thin and rocky but extremely nutritious. Pastures are ribboned in stone fences, with cattle lying down, calves frolicking, and horses grazing.

10. Brightly painted stucco homes of yellow, maroon, blue and red in the city and white stucco houses on the farms. An artist's dream (except for the barns which aren't very attractive) when found on curving streets and gentle hillsides. Our Midwestern climate has such extremes that stucco is not a good finish building material--Ireland's climate is very mild with few extremes.

11. Public toilets in Ireland are very clean and modern with ample t.p., but with the same long lines for women as we have in the states. Separate spigots for hot and cold in the sink; every toilet is water-saving, which means you flush 2 or 3 times. Yes, Ireland like all the EU is very "green."

12. Very exotic landscaping. Some yards looked like postcards from Florida or Hawaii. Fabulous flowers, especially roses.

13. Bill Clinton is Ireland's newest saint. He is revered everywhere for helping to broker the current peace in the North. That achievement abroad and welfare reform at home (forced on him by the Republican Congress in the 90s) should be enough legacy for any 2-term President, without the need to be First Laddie, and we can all be proud.

You Are Sunrise

You enjoy living a slow, fulfilling life. You enjoy living every moment, no matter how ordinary.
You are a person of reflection and meditation. You start and end every day by looking inward.
Caring and giving, you enjoy making people happy. You're often cooking for friends or buying them gifts.
All in all, you know how to love life for what it is - not for how it should be.

Time to spill your beer, folks

Pulling the logo just doesn't do it for me. Hit 'em where it hurts. In the wallet. What about you?
    "Miller Brewing Company has decided to pull its logo from a "Last Supper" poster-featuring homosexuals and sex toys-advertising the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, Calif. But a Catholic group is urging the company to cut all ties with the homosexual "leather" street fair." CNS news
It's not easy to leave a message at their site, but take the time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


As you contemplate the auto workers' strike

One of the things that reducing trade barriers has given us is more choices in auto makes and styles than 30 years ago; another is better prices for the consumer; another is better cars through competition. It also created full employment for ad writers. At the high end, the automakers, both home and foreign, do make some outrageous but often charming promises. The photos remind me of the angles of the agricultural breed magazines' prize milkers or bulls--lots of rear end shots.
    A car that listens to your every word. Jaguar S-R

    To other traffic, it's a brush-back pitch. Cadillac STS

    Let's always be open. Let's be pacifists on the roadway and pure evil on the race track. Cooper Mini

    The luxury vehicle that tows other luxury vehicles. Lincoln Mark LT

    Welcome to the luxury hybrid. Lexus

    Can you resist? Absolutely nothing in moderation. Jaguar XJ

    Designed for all weather conditions including good. Honda Acura RL

    It won't change the world. Just the way you look at it. Toyota Avalon

    Moving at the speed of surround sound. Honda Acura.

    Freedom isn't knowing your limits, but realizing you have none. Aston Martin

    You're so close to owning one, you can almost feel the g-forces. Porsche

    Sometimes fast isn't fast enough. Honda Acura

    Tell better stories. . . start living the kind of life that'll make your camcorder dizzy. Nisson Pathfinder

    It's all grown up. Drivers wanted. Jetta

    A luxury car designed to protect you from blending in. Saab

    Holds four keisters. Kicks all the rest. Mazda

    Rockets' red glare. Now in silver. Buick

    Always choose "dare." Toyota Matrix

    Take no prisoners. Well, no more than six. Cadillac SRX

    Take everything you know about design and nudge it. Push it. Simplify it. Modernize it. Liberate it. Nisson Infiniti

    However unwarranted, improvements were made. Land Rover

    Not every important decision is taken in the boardroom. Bentley

    Why some who own private jets prefer to drive. Maybach

    The sedan that will engage your soul. Maserati

    Power. Beauty. Soul. Aston Martin

    The LR3. Created for the One. Land Rover

    You don't buy a Bentley. You inherit. Bentley

    A dream car for the real world. Maserati

    Everything you love in a car plus more. Suburu

    Expedite the dream. Porsche

    Your wallet can thank me later. Honda

    You took the risks. Now reap the rewards. Bentley

Laura proves the point

David Frum has this to say about Laura Ingraham, whose new book Power to the people came out September 11. I think it's on the best seller list.
    Laura was among the very first to come out in opposition to the Harriet Miers nomination — not because she is undeliberate, but because she is one of the best-informed journalists in America on everything to do with the legal system and the courts. It's not just that she knows a lot of law (although she does). She also does the work to stay plugged into the discussions among lawyers and legal scholars.

    Laura's show is truly very funny, but it is also very sophisticated and smart. For all that we are supposed to denigrate the evils of life inside the Beltway, there's no substitute for being connected and knowledgeable.

    Best of all, Laura's radio persona remains remarkably untainted by ego. Radio is no medium for the bashful, of course, but when I listen to Laura, I hear the voice of someone who has much to share — but also never pretends to know all the answers.
Her new book has one copy in my public library with 4 saves (holds, requests, etc.) and one audio-book copy. If she were Michael Moore or Bob Woodruff, they'd be handing copies out with the book bags.

Tomeboy has done another survey on library bias and used Laura Ingraham (Shut up and sing) as an example. I don't know how to crunch numbers, but I know how to wait in line for a conservative title at the library.

Why I won't answer a library survey

Your library or mine, it's a waste of time, so I don't even bother. I got an e-mail last week suggesting I go on-line and respond to a survey (isn't it too soon for another bond issue?) Gracious! I've composed enough surveys in my career to know how to word them so you look good! But more importantly, the staff (director) of my PL won't listen. I've made suggestions for purchase and complaints about problems with the on-line catalog; I've written the local paper; I've blogged. I've even complimented them when they do something I like (on-line genealogy sources, excellent art instruction collection, great book sales). The Diddly Squat retreat is the only movement or direction this group knows.

Here's today's example. I've only spent 5 minutes researching it, but you'll get the idea of my level of frustration. My husband just walked in from his Wednesday morning men's group. The current study (by the leader, not the group) is from Josh McDowell's The new tolerance, a 1998 imprint by one of the best known, popular conservative authors in Christendom--not a favorite of mine, but thorough and well researched stuff the last I checked, with oodles of references and a Christian world view. My poor husband has been assigned the "old and new absolutes about women" in the church.

So I googled the title, find out McDowell wrote it and check my library catalog. First, it tells me "there is no exact match for McDowell, Josh, please try Josh McDowell." Next, I'm about to move on thinking they are more anti-Christian than I thought, when I scan the list that did appear and see, "McDowell, Josh 5 titles." I haven't a clue why this glitch shows up--surely the hostility doesn't work its way into the query!

Then, I look at the 5 titles. McDowell is probably best known for a title he wrote about 30 years ago for youth called Evidence that demands a verdict. I used to have a copy, but loaned it, and it never returned. Yes, the library has that title and 4 others from the 1980s. 1980s? This author even gets reviewed in Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal (public librarians find it difficult to move beyond their own safe bible for reviews). He has a marketing machine! Where is Evidence for Christianity (2006) or American idols (2006) or Handbook of todays religions (1992)? He has produced tapes and CDs and DVDs. Why can my library buy every book and format for Michael Moore and 16 copies of anti-Bush titles, and continue to deny the Christian taxpayers their due? Actually, that is a rhetorical question--librarians are 223:1, liberal to conservative, and the place books get banned is during the selection process, not after they are on the shelves after parents or old ladies complain.

In today's multicultural, PC world, "tolerance," not honesty, or bravery or patriotism, or truth, or hard work, is the primary virture--tolerance for everyone except those in the Western Christian world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The lost hat

I was talking to my daughter after supper tonight to wish her Happy Anniversary (14th). She had just returned from a medical conference in Chicago, thrilled that she neither had a cold or DVT.

"Have you called the airlines about dad's lost hat?" she asked. "No, but that would be a good idea. We're just sick that it's gone. It was the right size, color, warmth, and of course, was a souvenir of the trip."

She then went on to tell me that a colleague they'd met with had lost her cell phone on this last trip and had called the airlines, it had been turned in and was being mailed to her. She also told me that she always takes off the book cover of a new read and puts it in her bag, but had lost one a few months back. She is meticulous about her books (must be hard cover and never a library book). Even though she'd used that suitcase several times since losing the cover, it fell out of the bag in the hotel room. She thought she'd examined every square inch of it.

And a thought came to me. I'd taken my husband's word for it that he'd gone through the suitcases--every zippered pocket. This is a man who can't find the quart of milk in the refrigerator because I moved it 2 inches. So after we hung up, I went up to my closet and took out the suitcases and unzipped and went through them one by one. Nothing. As I put the last one away, I ran my hand through it one more time and felt something. The hat. It was folded up and in a side pocket.

Who's the nutritional gatekeeper at your house?

Snacking has no affect on my husband's size, so if he wants crackers or peanuts, I'll purchase them, but he has to hide them from me. He can buy a package of brownies at Cheryl's Cookies, put them in the freezer, and eat one a day. I'd have to put them in my neighbor's freezer.

According the the U. of Nebraska newsletter, Food Reflections,
    Through eating more mindfully, whoever in your household is the "nutritional gatekeeper" can influence his or her food intake as well as that of everyone else as much as 72 percent.

    Make less healthy foods inconvenient to eat. Promote reasonable portion sizes through the size and shape of dinnerware. Encourage people to measure out and see the total amount they're eating rather than eating directly from a container.

There's no way to justify what Columbia did

    They refuse a forum for debate to patriotic Americans, government officials who don't toe their party line, and the military. They invite the international terrorist criminal leader of Iran, a "renowned intellectual and cultural icon" to speak who denies history and everything we believe in and who would destroy us and Israel if possible. They then insult him and speak ill of him to his face during the introduction--their own invited guest--making Americans look like clods and extremely ill-mannered hosts. Their student audience top it off because they are so naive and dumbed down that the only thing they can think to boo is Iran's treatment of homosexuals. For everything else, they cheer him when he repeats the Democrat's party line, something we can hear from the halls of Congress every day.
You don't entertain ideas
You simply bore them
You couldn't find your feet
If you were looking for them. . .
Stiff little fingers

Is this the best that academe can offer? Parents--save your tuition money. Send your kids to the community junior college and save your local economy.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Welcome to libraryland, lawyers

For years, library graduate schools have been churning out more librarians than there are jobs. The best jobs are usually in the larger cities with a few amenities. If you're willing to take a job with a low salary and all the turnips you can eat, you might get an interview or two. Annoyed Librarian blogs about this, and she has a good job which she loves, but the periodic news stories about shortages (so they can keep the faculty busy) don't fool her (or him--AL is a pseudonym).

Today's WSJ reports the same thing is happening to newly minted lawyers, the only difference being they have much larger college debts than librarians usually ring up.
    "The majority of law school graduates are suffering from a supply and demand imbalance that's suppressing pay and job growth. The result: Graduates who don't score at the top of their class are struggling to find well-paying jobs to make payments on law school debts that can exceed $100,000. Some are taking contract work reviewing documents for as little as $20 an hour without benefits. And many are blaming their law schools for failing to warn them about the dark side of the job market. . . Schools bright salary figures only report a small percentage--maybe top 25%. Possibly half of the graduates don't respond to the surveys.
Un- or under-employment is essentially a college enrollment problem. They might have been left-wing, tenured-radicals left over from the war protests of the 1970s, but the faculty of our colleges, universities and professional schools have had to fill their programs year after year or lose their funding, privileges or rank--not unlike the managers at Wal-Mart--especially the PhD programs, in order to travel to conferences to give presentations and to have access to publishers for their papers.

William Pannapacker of Hope College suggests that you absolutely avoid any career field that is reporting a shortage. It's a scam, pure and simple. And if you're getting a PhD because you think teaching at the college level might be cool, do something patriotic and become a plumber or go take a job away from an illegal. Better yet: Go to a library and get some real research help on careers. They'll be thrilled to see you.

Aside, non-lawyer stuff: Check out some of these comments on the glut of librarians. Found out it is all Bush's fault--I kid you not. Just read through some of the deranged-Bush-syndrome anonymous comments.

Is this good Latin?

I'm referring to use of "alumni/ae". Do we have to take our political correctness into a dead language? I by myself all alone may be an alumna, but I prefer to be part of the alumni. Can't remember where I saw this, but I don't like it.

Fat TV Faces

I love my daughter and son-in-law and they take good care of us, BUT don't make me watch TV at their house. They have one of those awful hi-def TVs. Just because it is huge (probably the size of all of ours put together), doesn't mean you have to stretch out a regularly transmitted show to the edges, but they do. This makes everyone look about 50 pounds over weight, and terribly out of proportion. Joe Morgenstern (WSJ, 9-22) agrees:
    Almost all flat panel TVs are tailored to the proportions of the hi-def transmission--they have screens with 16:9 aspect ratios--but they don't all receive hi-def signals, and most programs are still being beamed conventionally, in a squarish 4:3 format that was never meant to fill a wide screen.

    Since they made the investment, they want their programs to fill the screen; never mind that 4:3 programs are correctly displayed on 16:9 panels ONLY WITH BLACK BARS FLANKING THE IMAGE. Compact cars resemble stretch limos and puffy faces look lik their cheeks have been pulled out in opposite directions."
I feel a lot better now.

The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam

You won't catch me reading another book about a hopeless war--I just finished "1776" by David McCullough not too long ago. But I was interested in the review of "The Coldest Winter" in Saturday's WSJ by Peter Kann. Halberstam died in an auto accident before it was published, but many reviewers say it is his finest work.

Kann sets the scene for us, and the landscape might look vaguely familiar:

    "Korea was a war waged by a centrist Democratic administration and undermined at home by the Republican right.

    Two decades later another war effort, in Vietnam, was undermined by the radical left.

    And today that scenario is being repeated as the Democratic left, virtually every Democratic candidate, is demanding that the U.S. abandon Iraq."
The reviewer then concludes
    . . ."post WWII America has proved incapable of the national unity needed to keep military commitments and support its troops in a meaningful way."
He also concedes that the unsatisfactory truce that ended the Korean War did result in a booming South Korean economy and that our time in Vietnam, for all its failures, bought time for other small Asian nations to develop and become stronger to stand up against China. Gee, I would have thought the starvation deaths of those millions of North Koreans (death through Communist democide) would have gotten more space. Maybe starving children only look pathetic after a few generations? Maybe I'm just too recently returned from Ireland?

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Now who's BeTrayUs?

So the NYT gave a special cut rate to run their smear ad against General Petraeus? That was against their policy as is smearing the reputation of someone in a political ad. No! I'm shocked. Just shocked. Bias in the press. Oh say it isn't so! Read Betraying its own best interests. And this apparently isn't the first time they gave the Movers a special rate.
    By the end of last week the ad appeared to have backfired on both and fellow opponents of the war in Iraq — and on The Times. It gave the Bush administration and its allies an opportunity to change the subject from questions about an unpopular war to defense of a respected general with nine rows of ribbons on his chest, including a Bronze Star with a V for valor. And it gave fresh ammunition to a cottage industry that loves to bash The Times as a bastion of the “liberal media.”

A short list of movies about Ireland

Some fellow tour members, John and Jan, are movie buffs, so I asked for a short list (I think they knew 20+) of movies about Ireland I might check out. I'm pretty squemish about violence in movies (and sex, suspense, terror), but I think I can do a few of these.
    The Field (1990)
    The secret of Roan Inish (1994)
    Michael Collins (1996)
    Millions (2005)
    Angela's Ashes (1999)
    Quiet Man 1952
    The wind that shakes the barley (2006)
    Bloody Sunday 2002
    In the name of the father 1993

Our Ireland Trip from U-Z

United Dioceses of Cashel and Ossory: Couldn't figure out a "U" entry until I saw that the St. Canice's Cathedral in Kilkenny was in this diocese. I didn’t visit this Cathedral and round tower, but my husband went with Joe and Pam and they climbed it together--what a challenge. But a fabulous view of the city.

The stairs to climb the tower

View of Kilkenny from the top of the tower

St. Canice's Cathedral

Vikings: The Vikings destroyed or pillaged many monasteries and churches, taking slaves and booty, decimating those communities of learning in the late 700s. Eventually over a few hundred years they stayed and established towns, intermarried with the Irish, and became Norse-Irishmen, contributing to Ireland's economic growth and trade. Placenames left by the Vikings in Ireland include Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Wexford. Brian Boru, High King of Ireland (Rock of Cashel) was supposed to have united the Irish against the Vikings, but they were probably just Irish by then (11th century).

Waterford Crystal: On Monday September 17 we had a very interesting tour of the glass factories. We saw every step in the processes and heard about the long training and apprenticeships. We spent some time in the gift shop, but I stood firm.

X: Mark your calendar for a trip to Ireland

Yeats, William Butler, John Butler, and Jack Butler: W.B. Yeats was a famous Irish poet, and we visited his home, Thoor Ballylee in County Galway. His father was the artist, John Butler Yeats, and his brother Jack was also an artist.

Yeats study in Thoor Ballylee

The copper beech at Coole Park where W. B. Yeats and other Irish carved their initials

Zip:We still had plenty our last night for our graduation party . . . it was the trip home that zapped us.

Our Ireland Trip from S-T

Sanachi: Irish story telling with singing was our entertainment Saturday evening September 15 at Brod Tullaroan. These guys were fabulous, we participated, and ended the evening with a cup of Irish coffee.

He also quoted poetry and Shakespeare.

Shopping in Blarney: About half the tour group went into Blarney to shop while the rest of us had a day of leisure in Ennis on September 13. They were delayed getting back because of a traffic accident, so we waited dinner and all had a late supper together.

Thomastown: Just outside on the banks of the River Arrigle, stands Jerpoint Abbey, a well preserved Cistercian monastic ruins. It was self-sustaining, so there were many buildings to suit the needs of the community. The wind was brisk and a drizzle started and my cold was coming on, so the carvings and crosses were starting to all look alike by this time, but it really was a magnificent place.

Travellers, Irish: It didn't seem appropriate to take photos, but they are an ancient people, sometimes called Roma or Gypsies, which travel in caravans. We did see small groups parked along the road with vans and trailers and laundry. When I googled the term I was surprised to see there are a lot of social workers and about 80 organizations making a living trying to fight for their civil rights and new regulations to protect them. If I might just editorialize a moment, I’d guess that if they want to preserve what's left of their culture they should dump the camp followers! They've made it a few thousand years without them. There are also Irish Travellers in the United States, having come here from Ireland in the 19th century, living in their own communities, but becoming ever more assimilated and middle-class moving from trailers to McMansions, old vans to new SUVs.

Our Ireland Trip from Q-R

Quebec: The Dunbrody, (we visited a replica of this 3 masted cargo ship), was commissioned in Quebec in 1845 and had a low mortality rate. It took Irish emigrants to Canada and returned to Ireland with timber, cotton and fertilizer. Actors playing the parts of passengers, one first class, one steerage, talked to us about the conditions

This cubicle might hold a family of 6 or more, or if they had no family, it might be people unrelated. They were sick and starving, so many didn't live through the passage. The passenger/actor who talked to us, a widow with 6 children, didn't make it.

First class passengers had more space and better food. Sort of reminds me of the difference between first class and coach on the airlines, but at least the time is less.

Only first class passengers could come up for a little fresh air--I suppose it helped control the spread of disease, but just worsened conditions for those already sick and using slop pails. I think only the most hardy Irish-Americans and Irish-Canadians survived to pass along their genes and desire to make it in a new location.

Residents of Kilkenny: Three people from the community met with our group on September 17th and fielded questions about the country and city. They were well informed, and our group asked good questions. My husband rarely takes photos of people, and I think I left my camera in my room.

Rock of Cashel and the fortress of Brian Boru: The word "cashel" is from the Irish word caiseal, meaning "fortress." The Rock of Cashel is several ruins, the largest structure is the remains of St. Patrick's Cathedral, built in the 13th century. It was destroyed by fire in the 15th century and later restored. Cromwell's forces destroyed it again burning to death hundreds of townspeople who had fled there. The British version is that this was a civil war; The Irish Catholic version is that it was a brutal invasion by a foreign power. I don't know that you could find a single person more hated to this day in Ireland than Oliver Cromwell.

If this sight doesn't put your heart in your throat, it's as hard as a rock from the Burren! Call it a castle, a fortress or cathedral, but it is incredible. Our guide Bridget seem to be one of the few guides who talked to us who believed with her heart the Christian symbolism she discussed.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Our Ireland Trip from N - P

Normans in Ireland:The Vikings (Northmen) invaded Ireland and other European coastal countries, including what is now France and that area became known as Normandy. In the 11th century the Normans conquered England. In the 12th century, the Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland (sort of invited), but they pretty much settled down and married into the Irish. Many of the castles date from this period. As near as I can tell, my surname and my husband's came from Normandy as do many Irish and Scots names.

Ormand or Kilkenny Castle: The town of Kilkenny is located on the River Nour, and the Castle of the Earls and Dukes of Ormond (Butler family) overlooks it all. It was given to the town in 1967 and some of it is used as a conference center, with a design center, workshops and gift shop in the outbuildings. The castle had a wonderful art collection, but we couldn’t take photos inside. We visited the restored stair hall with a mahogany staircase, the drawing room and library, restored to the 1830s look, and the picture gallery, which had recently been painted red .

The design center, workshops and gift shops were located across the street from the castle on the grounds of the former stables.

The Conference Center, which was also part of the Butler estate.

Poulnabrone Dolmon: We visited The Burren coast on September 10 stopping first at the information center in Kilfenora and saw an ancient tomb. We began the day with a history lecture covering the Celts, Romans, Vikings and English, with a focus on County Clare.

Lou, Barbara, Jim, Jim, Barbara, Adele, Bill, Maggie, Phil, Robert, Roxanna, Bob

The educational center and museum at Kilfenora.

An ancient tomb on the Burren.

The most barren landscape you'll ever see.