Friday, November 30, 2007

Why John Edwards shouldn't be President of the United States

"Edwards became wealthy as a trial lawyer. His craft was therefore derivative: When something happened to someone else, Edwards filed a lawsuit. He then told his client's tale. He made millions doing so. If I were seriously injured as a result of someone else's carelessness, I would consider hiring John Edwards. These are impressive verdicts and settlements.

But I will not vote for him as president. I simply don't trust him. When his lips are moving, I am never quite sure what comes out. It often sounds like callow hyperbole, as in the stumping in New Hampshire.

Edwards' skill is attracting seriously injured clients and then forcing large cash payments from those who caused their injury. That doesn't make him a pioneer in social justice. He's just a very good lawyer who made enough money to cash out and try his hand at being a master of the universe." Norm Pattis

She didn't notice his cruelty?

I don't read a lot of blogs that discuss divorce; this one I read for other reasons, but found this an eye opener: "For example, there was the time when thinking about the future, I inquired if a family was something we might want. The response I received was that he wouldn’t be opposed to having children if he met the right person. Though I tried not to show it, I was taken aback. I was his wife. Didn’t it stand to reason that if we had committed ourselves to marriage that I was the right person? Apparently not…

And once he told me that without a job, an apparent purpose in life, my intellect was dimming and soon I would be like his mother. His mother! If I had a dime for every time he compared me in unflattering ways to his mother…"

Keith Kerr, gay activist

Is there anyone out there who thinks CNN, and particularly Anderson Cooper, didn't know that General Keith Kerr was at the debates to try to embarrass the Republicans about a Clinton presidency regulation called "Don't ask, don't tell." And isn't it a bit disingenuous when obviously, he got to the top of the heap by NOT revealing his homosexuality while he was on his way to general? Gay men must be the only minority (about 1%) who are also the wealthiest, best educated, most insured, most politically active, most mobile, most represented far beyond their numbers in every area of the arts, entertainment and literature, but who still want to be considered victims. Anderson Cooper is our next Dan Rather. Says he just had no idea.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Black sweater fashion showdown

Today's WSJ featured a story about a $99.50 black sweater from Land's End (owned by Sears) up against a $950 black sweater from Bruno Cucinelli. Both were made of cashmere from Mongolian goats in China, but the "cheap" one was made in China and the expensive one in Italy. The writer said the Land's End was a bit stiff and wrinkled easily, but the Italian sweater had to be returned to the store for repairs because something started to unravel. The $950 sweater was made in a 17th century castle by workers who get a 90 minute lunch or a free 3-course meal at work cooked by local women. So when rich, limosine liberals buy a sweater from Cucinelli, they can rest assured that the hand work was truly done by hand, and no 3rd world worker was allowed to improve himself on her dollar.

I'll have to check the label on my black mock-turtleneck bought on sale 2 years ago at Meijer's for $5.00. That leaves me a little to drop in the collection plate rather than wearing my wealth (or pension check). And it hasn't wrinkled or unraveled.

Country Music

Over at America Matters, there's a good post on country music.
    I had the opportunity once again with my family to visit Branson Mo. over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Sure it's a heavily traveled tourist town. But the vibe and feel of the town is what got me. I was re-invigorated by the end of our three day stay. Every show we saw proudly spoke of God and honored our Veterans. Every shop we went to had a patriotic theme. This town wears their love of God and America on its sleeve. This invigorating vibe was every where. I loved it and I feel all is well in America because of it. There is a lot to say about our folks who make up our small towns and who make country music. They are grounded and as real as it gets.

Biting the hands that rescued you

If there's anything more pugnacious than on-line squabbling among Christians, it's the on-line pot shots by members of the adoption triad. Yesterday I was reading an interesting article at the NYT blog Relative Choices about adoption--it was a reunion story between a birth mother (a writer/journalist) who never had another child and her PhD bi-racial daughter, who didn't have a good adoptive mother, but has been quite successful and well-adjusted. Without the birth and adoption, neither would probably be where they are today (in my opinion) and both had overcome personal adversity. Still, it's a nice reunion story--many aren't.

Also at this blog there are some writers and commenters who are the younger group of international adoptees (so their birth mothers are not represented). Some have returned to their country of origin to look around. Unlike the thoughtful responders from the 1950s and 1960s who did the best they could given the mores of the time, these adoptees are subtly militant. Others from the late 80s born or birthing in a totally different era aren't the least impressed with "openness" or "family building." Nor do any seem pro-life, assuming I suppose if they'd been scraped into a garbage pail they would have been saved the horrific fate of being a well-off American. Some are journalists by profession and have definitely benefited from the anti-Wal-Mart, anti-capitalist, anti-Western culture atmosphere of their college training. They seem so mired in ennui that their "culture" or history or language (or their birth parents) were ripped from their tiny little fists in those delivery rooms and orphanages.

Who said life was fair? I grew up with married parents, 3 siblings, 6 grandparents, a good school system that offered neither art nor foreign language with its caring teachers, and with friends who pretty much looked and acted like me. There are others who grew up with many more advantages materially, but some with less familially. Some people struggle to come to the USA, others need to flee to Canada or France while they still can and leave the rest of us alone to enjoy our miserable existence.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wansink new director

Brian Wansink, Director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell, is now Executive director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. He studies environmental factors that push Americans to overeat. "No one goes to bed skinny and wakes up fat," he says. I'm not sure exactly what it means, but it sure is true!
    What is the best way to mindlessly change behavior? Simply and metaphorically, we need to put the serving bowl back by the stove. Smaller plates. Taller, skinnier glasses. That's what we want to go for. Things they don't have to think about. It's not about educating people. Part of it relates to economics, I don't mean dollars and cents. I mean the economics of cognitive effort and the economics of physical effort. Here's an example. We eat a lot less of the Oreos that come in mini-packs of 2 or 3 because there's a little cognitive cost and a little physical cost to opening another little package. We have to pause and think. From a Wired interview
I've noticed that. If I leave a serving dish on the table, I'll dip in for another helping even if I'm not hungry. If I just left it on the stove, I wouldn't even think about it.

A Quiz for Idiots

I saw this in a local publication, so you can substitute "your state" for the word Ohio except for #9. Ohio is the birthplace of many presidents and movie stars, so you should try that one. You'll probably be able to do most of these even if you don't live in the United States.
    Quiz for Idiots

    Okay, here it is by popular demand, our first annual Quiz for Idiots. Fasten your seat belts and here we go!

    1. What is the capital of the U.S.A.?

    2. What is the capital of Canada?

    3. What century is this?

    4. Who is the governor of [your state]Ohio?

    5. Who are the two U.S. senators from [your state] Ohio?

    6. What county is Columbus in?

    7. What planet do we live on?

    8. Who is the Vice-president of the United States?

    9. Name five states that abut Ohio.

    10. What is the capital of Mexico?

    Quiz Answers below

    1. Washington, D.C.
    2. Ottawa
    3. Twenty-first
    4. Ted Strickland, Democrat
    5. Sherrod Brown (D), George Voinovich (R)
    6. Franklin
    7. Earth
    8. Dick Cheney
    9. Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia
    10. Mexico City (in Spanish: Ciudad de México, México, D.F. or simply México)
HT Short North Gazette, before the last election.

"Fatherhood changed him"

Just not enough to marry his girlfriend of seven years, the mother of his 18 month old daughter. Yes, the intruder that shot him in the bedroom of his $900,000 home inflicting a fatal wound created a terrible tragedy for his family and his teammates, but let's not laud Sean Taylor's parenting, any more than his past scrapes with the law and fights off the football field. Although his daughter will probably not grow up in poverty, most children whose mothers don't marry the father of their children do. It's the number one cause of poverty in America. And he was a powerful role model. This tragedy has multiple threads--let's not get them tangled.

Perhaps I've watched too much Law and Order, or episodes of the Closer, but burglars don't look for people in home invasions, they try to avoid them. And there are easier places for a revenge killing if this was related to his previous problems with "bad guys."

The Night Before Christmas parodies

This week a friend sent me an up-to-date parody of the Night Before Christmas, one of the politically correct versions. As I was checking for parodies (this poem has inspired hundreds--I remember we had one for McKinley Hall at the University of Illinois for Christmas 1959), I really enjoyed this one at a site for parodies.

A more spiritual version of the famous Christmas story
By: Sister St. Thomas, B.N.D. de N

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town,
St. Joseph was searching, walking up roads and down;
Our Lady was waiting, so meek and so mild,
While Joseph was seeking a place for the Child.

The children were nestled, each snug in their beds,
The grown-ups wouldn't bother, there's no room they said;
When even the innkeeper sent them away,
Joseph was wondering, where they would stay.

He thought of the caves in the side of the hills,
Lets go there said Mary, it's silent and still;
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Made pathways of light for their tired feet to go.

And there in a cave, in a cradle of hay,
Our Savior was born on that first Christmas Day!
The Father was watching in heaven above,
He sent for His angels, His couriers of love.

More rapid than eagles God's bright angels came;
Rejoicing and eager as each heard his name;
Come Power, Come Cherubs, Come Virtues, Come Raphael,
Come Thrones and Dominions, come Michael and Gabriel.

Now fly to the Earth, where My poor people live,
Announce the glad tiding My Son comes to give;
The Shepherds were watching their flocks on this night,
And saw in the heavens and unearthly light.

The Angels assured them, they'd nothing to fear,
It's Christmas they said, the Savior is here!
They hastened to find Him, and stood at the door,
Till Mary invited them in to adore.

He was swaddled in bands from His head to His feet,
Never did the Shepherds see a baby so sweet!
He spoke not a word, but the shepherds all knew,
He was telling them secrets and blessing them too.

Then softly they left Him, The Babe in the hay,
And rejoiced with great joy on that first Christmas Day;
Mary heard them exclaim as they walked up the hill,
Glory to God in the Highest, Peace to men of good will!

You'll find parodies silly and serious and even in Spanglish here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Free speech in Canada is on the way out

Is this the direction the U.S. is moving? In Canada you can not only get in trouble for "hate speech," (just like here), but you also can't call someone "an enemy of free speech." Now that's hateful! Read about it at Volokh Conspiracy.
    The court is insisting that Canadians' speech not only follows the government-approved ideology on the topic of race, ethnicity, and religion (an ideology that I agree with, but that I don't think should be legally coerced). It is also insisting that Canadians' speech follows the government-approved ideology and terminology on the topic of free speech itself.

What's for dinner?

I'm about turkey'd to death. I fix myself grilled veggies for lunch (today's choice was onions, black beans, red bell peppers, turnip greens and shredded carrots), but while my husband was fixing his turkey sandwich, I snitched a few pieces. We've had either turkey or ham every day since last Thursday. Today I threw out the beef and gravy and the rice with cheese and sausage that were last week's leftovers which had been pushed to the back and forgotten. So tonight we're having Maryland style crab cakes (Trader Joe), baked sweet potatoes, green peas, tossed salad, and fresh strawberries. Have you finished up or frozen the Thanksgiving left overs at your house?

Bush's Legacy

Early this morning on CBS News I heard two women discussing Bush's desire for a legacy, thus the recent Israeli-Palestinian summit. It was innocuous and bubble-headed even for women who read others' text for a living. I couldn't see the TV, but the "expert" had an annoying voice best for print journalism. I don't think he's seeking a legacy; we'll hope he will not be as interferring as Carter and Clinton as a former president, but be a gentleman like his father.

Here's my ten suggestions for a Bush legacy, in order of importance, five positive, five negative.
    1) The appointment of two outstanding judges to the Supreme Court, Roberts and Alito. This will extend many years and perhaps be able to return the Supreme Court to its original intention, moving it away from creating law. Kennedy, his father's appointment after the Bork nomination failed, was a tremendous disappointment for conservatives, so it is possible that with time, this one won't be in number one place, but for now, that's where I'd place it for long term impact.

    2) The tax cuts and overseeing the most robust economy in the history of this nation I'd place second. Facing my retirement in 2000 dependent on the health of the stock market, I was watching my accounts stagnate, and then tumble after 9/11. Right now the economy is softening and Democrats are making all the wrong moves, especially for retirees (look out boomers) mainly because they use taxes to punish, not to move the country forward.

    3) Getting us back on our feet after 9/11. Although I didn't dislike Al Gore and wouldn't have been upset if he'd been President (my first election as a Republican), it is still hard to imagine his taking charge after that disaster. For awhile it looked like there might even be a resurgence of patriotism and love of country, but that quickly faded as the Bush hatred over the lost election of 2000 continued to fester and eat away at the reasoning faculties of otherwise sensible people.

    4) Freeing more women in Afghanistan in the 21st century than Abraham Lincoln did slaves in the USA in the 19th century. We don't know yet the full consequences of this, because women were quite advanced in this country before it was stolen from them by the Taliban, and the climb back up will require a lot of will. American feminists have ignored this achievement rather than give Bush the credit.

    5) Leading the country into an unpopular, controversial war with the support and backing of both parties, including some of the same senators who later reversed their decision. That Bush held strong and refused to abandon the Iraqi people the way Nixon did the Vietnamese is a huge legacy, especially for those he saved from the blood bath had he caved into demands for pull-outs and withdrawals from his enemies.
And on the negative side of the legacy ledger.
    1) Offended his supporters and party by nominating a weak Supreme Court candidate (White House counsel Harriet Miers) and by attempting to partner with the Democrats on an amnesty bill for illegal immigrants. These two actions also hurt any Republicans who supported him on other issues.

    2) Not being able to corral his stampeding RINOs and missing the opportunity to reform Social Security by taking total control back from the government to allow investment in personal accounts.

    3) Standing firm in his resolve that all societies deserve and desire a democracy. Perhaps only history will decide this one, but you've got to admit trying to jump start a 7th century mentality and push or drag it into the 21st century, is a tough row to hoe.

    4) The biggest tax spender on education ever to enter the White House, crafting a program with Ted Kennedy's help. Did he tell us during the 2000 campaign that he wanted to be the "education president?" Earmarks (pork) and wasted foreign aid--but that's more congressional, and something we've just come to expect from our government, isn't it? This and the next one have made him an anathema to many conservatives.

    5) Expanding medical care to a government drug program with Ted Kennedy, thus laying the ground work for the Democrats to make it even worse and more expensive. I think government-doled, rock-bottom health care for every household earning less than $1 million is a real possibility after 2008. Those making over a million will still be able to purchase first class care like they do in socialist countries.

We have these drivers in Ohio, too

Crazy Aunt Purl writes a humorous but "hurt-so-bad" blog, and has turned it into a book. She's divorced (the story's in her book), has lots of cats, and knits. On her way to Thanksgiving dinner with her grandmother and parents, she encounters a drunk driver trying to kill a lot of people; she called 911, but was kept on hold for 20 minutes, and finally had to exit the freeway.

Driving with your middle finger wagging is usually a pretty good breathalizer.
    This is from her archives, Jan. 31, 2005. Someone should recommend this as a hymn for divorced people (I've reformated).

    "When my husband left me,
    and a variety of other really bad things
    began to happen in succession
    my landlord put the condo up for sale!
    my car stolen from the subway station!
    Mr. X goes to Italy without me!
    moving costs me almost $1000!
    clearly, I have pissed off the gods!

    I finally decided to give up
    on keeping up appearances.
    I gained a few pounds.
    I smoked in public.
    I told the pizza guy that my husband had left me.
    I was a little crazy
    in those first few months,
    I admit.

    Eventually, I figured out
    that my goal was
    to simply live out loud.
    Lie less.
    "No, actually, my sex life isn't fulfilling."
    "To be honest, I am not everyone and I do not love Raymond."
    "Actually, I hate sushi."
    "Yeah, I'm older than Sanskrit. What is your point?"

The unintended consequences of pro-active medical care

Name the disease or condition, and early diagnosis and treatment can reduce poor outcomes. Who knows what could happen in health care if patients heeded the advice on diet, exercise and smoking? Yes, who knows. Actually, we do know. Longer life resulting in higher Medicare and Medicaid costs further down the road. Another outcome we know about because it has already happened, is fewer primary care physicians. The expanding menu of interventions, screening tests, vaccines and devices has dramatically increased the work of patient care for all medical specialties, but particularly the guy who's going to make the decision when you complain of feeling poorly, according to JAMA Commentary, November 21, Vol. 298, no. 19.
    "Providing all recommended preventive services to a panel of 2500 patients could require up to 7.5 hours a day of physician time; generalists report that roughly 4 separate problems are addressed at each office visit for those older than 65, and even more for those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes," writes John D. Goodson.
The workload is overwhelming and the reimbursement levels for primary care physicians favor the interventions and more expensive care which in turn passes the patient on to specialists. Now, if you were in med school (or paying for your child to go to med school), looking down the road at even more interference by the federal government, and higher insurance costs, would you choose family medicine or pediatrics, or would you head for the safer and richer green pastures of a specialty? Goodson reports that first-year internal medicine residents who express an interest in general internal medicine are less than 20%, but only about half of those will remain committed to this area.

Goodson goes on to recommend higher compensation by the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services), the federal agency that determines how doctors will be paid. If this problem isn't corrected, a large portion of the population will lose access to personal care (or any care). Imagine. The government creates a problem with layers of bureaucracy and regulations (low reimubursement for general care) and is then expected to fix it (with more layers, studies, panels and commissions).

The perfect storm of immigrants flooding the country needing massive social services, to mix with a growing cloud of aging baby boomers who demand only the best. Katrina anyone?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Head injuries in sports

The Columbus Dispatch recently published the winning photos in its photo contest--semifinalist photo is 2 little boys colliding in a soccer game. They had on nifty uniforms, special shoes and knee socks--and no helmets or head protection. In his book Making a good brain great, Daniel G. Amen, MD writes:

"A concussion or mild "traumatic brain injury" (TBI) is far more than just a bump on the head. According to the American Academy of Neurology, "There is no such thing as a minor concussion." A study from UCLA found that "the level of brain glucose use in people who suffered mild concussions was similar to that in comatose, severely brain-injured patients. . . Even mild head injuries result in major changes to the brain's metabolism and could make victims susceptible to more serious damage from a repeated blow."

Dr. Amen advises parents to never let their child knock the soccer ball with his head--heading drills, in which a child's head is knocked repeatedly, are of greater concern to pediatricians than is the occasional head-punt in a game. A study of adult soccer players found 81% had impairment of attention, concentration, memory, and judgment when compared to non-players of similar age and circumstances. He says football players are struck in the head 30-50 times per game and regularly endure blows similar to those experienced in car crashes.

Dr. Amen, who has seen over 30,000 brain scans, says: "I would not let my children hit a soccer ball with their heads, play tackle football, or snowboard without a helmet. I encourage my own kids to play tennis, golf, table tennis, and track. Your brain matters. Respect and protect it."

Deer season opens today

November 26 is the first day of deer hunting season in Ohio, when approximately 400,000 hunters will kill about 120,000 deer. It will contribute $266 million to the state's economy. Toledo Blade story. Deer contribute to their own demise too--the does live twice as long as the bucks, who get in fights and kill each other (it's a guy thing). More deer are killed in accidents with fences than are taken legally by hunters, and feral dogs kill many thousands. Deer vehicle collision (DVC) will also take a lot of lives, some of them human. Three years ago I wrote about seeing 13 dead deer on the interstate medium between the west side of Columbus and the first exit at Richmond, Indiana. The 13th we saw killed by the semi truck in front of us. It was just awful. I've seen the figure half a million a year, but haven't seen the source of the statistic. Doug at Coffee Swirls writes about hitting a deer in Iowa, which has one of the highest DVC rates, with a repair estimate of $4800.

Tom Brokaw doesn't get it

Tom Brokaw's new book, Boom, examines the influence the baby boomers have had on our society and culture, and he includes a wide variety of well-known and non-celebrity persons born in that era. Listening to him being interviewed on Laura Ingraham this morning and then reading some excerpts from the web, I was left with the impression conservatives know a lot more about how liberals think and react than the other way around. (Just as a quick aside: the only way they know how to have an interesting conservative character on a TV series is to afflict him with dementia--Boston Legal.) Laura pointed out that the single most important boomer to impact our culture, love him or hate him, is Rush Limbaugh, who got a quick mention in a section about drugs and not the media (I'm assuming his prescription drug addiction). Brokaw defended himself, not by addressing Rush's influence on millions, but by decrying the influence of talk radio in general--that it isn't balanced, and Rush mocks people. The Democrats when in power, will continue to harp on that.

He doesn't get it. Rush (and Medved, and Hewitt, and Ingraham, etc.) ARE the balance. The radio airways are open to the liberals, but they haven't succeeded in drawing an audience that will hold the sponsors. People don't listen to talk radio because there is nothing else--they listen because they want to hear another view that they can't get on broadcast news and cable news, where liberals have a lock. During one of the news breaks on a conservative show, I get to hear Anderson Cooper, a Vanderbilt/Whitney descendant, go on and on about global warming (guilt?). Many conservatives interview people who disagree with them, and usually make them look weak. Laura nailed Tom on this point, and he wandered off into the swamp of "we're never going to resolve this. . . .so why belabor the point."

Here's something else he doesn't quite grasp--the women's movement. In writing about the women's movement that evolved at the same time his daughters were growing up, he says, "One of our daughters is now a physician; another is a vice president of a major entertainment company; and the third is a clinical therapist. They place no limits on their ambitions, but for them, those ambitions also have had to fit within the context of having children. For all the gains made by women, and the recognition within society of how important that is to a healthy body politic, we have not satisfactorily resolved the workplace consequences of having children."

Why not say, "We have not satisfactorily resolved the family and parenting consequences created by women going off to work 10-12 hours a day."

The clutter challenge

A friend and I are challenging each other to remove some of the clutter from our homes and lives. We both have a problem clearing books and magazines--we like to send them on to a second life away from us. The following list has now gone to the garage; they are inside boxes that I have taped shut. If I peek, I might be talked out of it. The next step is to get them into the van, then off to the Friends of the Library book sale.

In general, there are two categories: computer books that are too old to be useful, and books on the craft of or compilations of the short story. I did a lot of writing of fiction in the early 90s. It was great fun, and I enjoy going back and reading them today (especially since I don't remember how they end!). However, I never did follow the experts' instructions, and barely opened the books (all bought used). Here's my good-bye blog.
    How computers work, by Ron White, 1993.
    PC Novice Guide to computing basics, 1996.
    PC Novice guide to the Internet, 1996.
    Handbook of short story writing, 1970.
    Beginning writer's answer book, rev. 1987.
    Handbook of short story writing, vol. 2, 1988.
    Children's writer's word book. 1992.
    Ways of reading; an anthology for writers. 4th ed. 1996.
    This is my best, Whit Burnett ed. 1942.
    Prize stories 1983 O. Henry awards.
    Short stories from the New Yorker, c. 1940.
    Great expectations, by Dickens, pb 2nd ed. 1948, 1972.
    Kiplinger's retire and thrive, 1995.
    Testimonies, a novel. Patrick O'Brian, c 1952, pb ed. 1995.

While I was selecting the books, I also cleaned out tons of paper that I'd printed from the internet--there was a whole shopping bag, much of it over 10 years old. Over the past week I also cleaned some bathroom vanity drawers, four drawers in the kitchen, two under-cabinets in my office, cleared out and stored elsewhere my old notebooks and publications, took a load of winter clothes to church for the Hilltop Clothes Closet, and cleaned out one drawer of my desk.

So what's cluttering up your life that could go into storage?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The winning posters

Check out the winners here. I thought "Fear" was pretty classy; the one of the candidates in Hawaiian shirts, probably the funniest.

Mrs. Clinton's experience vs. Mr. Obama's appeal to diversity

Hillary Clinton's experience
    First lady of Arkansas
    First lady of the United States
    Attorney who crafted the Whitewater deal
    Organized party faithful to take over U.S. health care in the 1990s
    Covered up her husband's assaults on women
    U.S. Senator (moved from Arkansas to NY to do this) who supported the war in Iraq
    Wears "Shoes and Socks," Hsu and Berger
    Oldest of the Democratic front runners
Mr. Obama's appeal for white, "color-blind" progressives
    White, Kansasan mother
    Raised by white grandparents in Hawaii
    Doesn't look or talk like Jesse and the guys
    Indonesian step-father
    No track record to be criticized on anything
    Attended Columbia and Harvard
    Member of United Church of Christ, main line liberal Protestant church
    Strong, family values to match the conservatives claim to this territory
    U.S. Senator from Illinois who wasn't in office for the 2003 Iraq vote, so he's clear to assume the finger pointing position
    Youngest of the Democratic front runners

Ready for Christmas

My son-in-law and his father decorated the house and yard, and my daughter got out the creche and the Christmas dishes--and even managed to slip out for a little "black Friday" shopping. Then we enjoyed an evening of football and left overs. Lenox is retiring this pattern of the crèche, China Jewels, so I asked if I could buy a small item (the hen and rooster are about $30--within my price range), but she said if it wasn't in the original story, she wasn't collecting it.

The silver tea/coffee set in her cabinet was our wedding gift (1960), but it spent a lot of time in a box. Looks much nicer at her house.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Have you tried Dumpr?

It can do all sorts of interesting things to your photos. Dumpr. Puzzles. Museum. Scary monster.

This is a sketch of your photo

This is the Rubik's cube version of your photo

HT Librarian in Black

Post Thanksgiving thoughts

It's not so bad using my laptop in the kitchen--I can get up and clean a drawer or cabinet while waiting for slow pages to load.

We ate leftovers with family last night, but first watched, and watched and watched (3 overtimes) the Arkansas and LSU game. The announcers even commented that Buckeyes were watching this game closely because if Arkansas won, OSU moved up. Yes. Goodness, such screaming and yelling from the men in the family. What if it had actually been the Buckeyes playing?

Although I didn't fix the turkey, I got the carcass. It's stewing on the stove right now, releasing yummy fragrance with a few onions.

We've finally had some frost--still many trees loaded with leaves, and my husband has gone to the lake to rake leaves at our summer home. Last pick up is next week. Most summer home owners close up on Labor Day and never look back until Memorial Day. The trees in Lakeside know this, so they send their leaves to our yard.

It must be very cold somewhere. Yesterday out of 100 hits, 16 were to my post on frozen car doors. I thought global warming might take care of that. Even so, there doesn't seem to be much agreement on how to take care of this problem.

Tomorrow we celebrate our son's birthday--we'll probably go to Bob Evan's after church. He and his band are working on a CD so he'll have to hurry back to his home on the east side. I'd show you a photo of the band, but everything is on the other computer which isn't working. So here's one of us from a year ago that I've already posted. I've given up on the daughter-in-law search, so if you come across that blog (I had his permission, btw), don't submit an application.

My Memory Patterns blog continues to chug along at about 80-100 page views a week. I wrote it for only one month--November 2005--matching up old photos with old sewing patterns. Seem to be a lot of people looking for apron patterns--you know, the decent coverage-size that actually give you some protection! I was never a really good seamstress like others in my family, but you don't notice you've given something up until 10 or 15 years have gone by and you realize you'll probably never again thread a bobbin, or walk through the fabric department, touching and dreaming.

I read an interesting article on pedometers this morning in a recent issue of JAMA. When I digest it, I'll blog it, but it looks like just wearing one lowers BMI and blood pressure. Apparently, you'll eat less and move more just by knowing it's there. I'll have to look for mine--like contraceptives, they don't work in the drawer do they, no matter how committed you are to the outcome. After a big week of eating seems like a good time to strap it on, don't you think? I had to push a little flesh out of the way to read the numbers.

The computer fix-it places I called, never called back. I suppose they want a holiday too. I'll have to look a bit further for someone in the data recovery business in Columbus, Ohio. Know anyone?

We've gotten our fourth edition of the Smithsonian catalog--this one has the word Christmas right on the cover.

Another broken zipper. A favorite pair of slacks that went with everything--a warm tan-beige lined 100% wool. Sigh. I blogged about a broken zipper in a pair of khakis that were about 20 years old about 2 years ago. I suspect these are at least 10-15 years old because the Talbot's tag says "Made in the USA." When was the last time you saw that on a piece of clothing?

I think I'll invest in new tires. I notice the van is slipping on wet pavement. We don't get tons of snow around here, except maybe once a season, with a humongous storm about once a decade, but the roads can get icy and slushy making traction difficult. Nothing scarier than trying to get out of the way of an on-coming car and have your tires just buzz the pavement.

My friend AZ and I have challenged each other to unclutter our personal spaces. Today while looking for the Christmas wreath to hang in the outside entry, I found an empty file box in the basement. It's already labeled correctly, "Norma's notebooks," and I have a bulging box of used notebooks in my office cabinets, so I think I'll move them into this box. Does this meet the test for de-cluttering, since I'm just moving them? We lived for 34 years in a house with no basement--since having one, I've become quite careless.

Friday, November 23, 2007


How to charge your iPod using an onion

I don't own an iPod, so I wouldn't trust anything I say about this one, and I couldn't try it, but I thought it was sort of interesting.

This is from the The Household Hacker.

Central Ohioans and rising gas prices

The news stories yesterday worked very hard to gin up a problem with travel and the economy, but I don't think they pulled it off. My e-mail always comes up with a news story, and it was something about the dark mood of the American consumer. The reporters in the airports couldn't seem to find anything except orderly, patient crowds, and millions were traveling despite gloom and doom stories (like the lady who was only going to fly to Atlanta once in 4 weeks). And then today the shoppers are jamming the parking lots on "black Friday" spending like there would never be another Christmas.

They took a survey in Ohio about high gas prices, and it was reported in the paper today.
    73% said they were very or somewhat concerned about the rising price of gasoline for their own family.

    But. . .

    64% said they weren't cutting back on travel as a result of gasoline prices.

    83% said they hadn't bought a new car to get better mileage.

    59% said they weren't going to avoid long distance driving.

    61% said NO to carpooling.
Remember when a few liberals wanted a $1/gal "patriot tax" on gasoline after 9/11? What did they think it would do? They're having a global warming conference in Bali and the private jets are jamming up the airport. Have these guys never heard of telephone conferences or I-see-U-see on the computer? I wonder if they plane-pooled?

Yesterday I saw gasoline for $2.99/gal on Rt. 33 south of Fishenger.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I wouldn't have a clue how to text message--I rarely use a cell phone--but you can go to this site, read the guidelines, and send a message. I used e-mail. Yesterday I listened to some wonderful interviews with our men and women in Iraq on the Laura Ingraham program. They were truly an inspiration--from age 21 to 42, loving their jobs and fellowmen, but looking forward to coming home soon.

Thursday Thirteen--The menu edition

It's all about being thankful--for family, friends, country and milestones passed. So yesterday after church we drove along the river and past some woods to my daughter's home for her 40th birthday and our Thanksgiving celebration. I asked several times and offered to bring something, but she wanted to do it all, and she really did. All I did was dry the dishes after dinner.

Here's the fabulous meal that awaited us--and we're going back today for leftovers! Everything was sugar-free, and most dishes were low-fat until we got to dessert. She used her lovely Lenox wedding china and crystal and seasonal decorations.

1. A 24 lb turkey roasted to perfection--I've never seen a prettier golden brown.
2. A spiral sliced honey baked ham.
3. Cubed and roasted butternut squash, the best I've ever tasted.
4. Fresh, buttered beets.
5. Homemade, chunky applesauce.
6. Wild rice and mushroom stuffing (I think I saw one of her Martha cookbooks on the counter).
7. Sausage/corn stuffing (with a side portion without corn for my husband who hates corn)
8. cranberry relish, home made
9. Veggie platters of 4 colors of bell peppers, grape tomatoes, pickles, celery
10. hot clover leaf rolls
11. Mashed potatoes and gravy
12. red wine (2 choices), coffee
13. 2 deep dish homemade pies (apple and cherry) and one pumpkin pie, with crusts so tender and flakey she's getting very close to my mother's standard, served either with Cool Whip or vanilla ice cream


Artificial or pseudo-twinning in adoption

Every event seems to have its own special day, week or month, and November is National Adoption Month. I was not familiar with the concept of pseudo-twinning, adopting children no more than 8 months apart in age, until I read about Nancy Segal who has done a lot of work on the nurture/nature aspects of twins raised apart. Through her research, I came across an article (from 1997) by Patricia Irwin Johnson who writes to prospective adoptive parents who have been through years of frustration with fertility issues and adoption red tape. It's worth reading the whole article because she knows she's going to be really unpopular, that adoptive parents who have "twinned" will be defensive, and she addresses that first.

The author observes, "The goal of parents who artificially twin babies is the same, no matter how these babies arrive: instant family. It is a logical, understandable goal, born out of great frustration and long term disappointment and pain. But pseudo-twinning is usually not a carefully thought through goal and it comes from self-centered thinking rather than baby-centered thinking. Most of the time it reflects parents’ nearly desperate need to regain control over their family planning and to “get” a child. . . Parents of exceptionally close-in-age babies who protest that they didn’t do this on purpose (and many take this position) are kidding themselves. Adoption doesn’t happen accidentally in the way that birth control fails."

But, knowing that adoptive parents will go ahead any way, she has the following suggestions for those raising babies close in age. Our children are 12 months apart and not the same sex, so they aren't "twins" in the sense of this research, but I often got the "are they twins?" questions. I nearly crippled my back for life by carrying one on each hip (they weighed almost the same). For years I tried to make every thing "fair," which does nothing but create jealousy and cranky kids.

I think all nine of these are important points, even if you just have children who are close in age but not "twinned." In my opinion, it is definitely easier if close together children are not the same sex, but if at all possible, I would seek out different teachers in the school system. Each of us pops out of the womb already stamped with our personality, skills, intelligence, and physical appearance in place. Don't saddle close together sibs with the teacher's expectations--yours and grandma's are enough of a burden.
    "Here are nine practical strategies for parents of very close-in-age siblings who arrived as babies.

    1) People are fascinated by multiple births and will expect your family to want to do “twin things” because they think twinning is neat and desirable and because they presume that lumping twins together is “easier” on parents. You will need to go to extra lengths to refuse to allow yourself or anyone else in your children’s lives–daycare providers, teachers, grandparents, etc.–to “treat” your children as twins. Dress them differently, give them individual toys (and rooms, if possible), acknowledge birthdays separately, etc. No matter how close they are in age, treat them not as a twinned pair but as you would treat children born at least a year apart.

    2) Become acutely tuned in to your babies’ age-related developmental differences, particularly during their first two years of life when change and growth is rapid, and be individually responsive to these differences. As they grow older, be especially observant of and supportive about your children’s individual interests and talents while at the same time fostering their sibling interactions.

    3) Remain aware that in all families parents and others have a natural tendency to “lump” close-in-age children together even when they are not twins. This is more often about accomplishing the tasks of family life as efficiently as possible than about not wanting to see children as individuals. In your family this issue becomes more important than in families whose close-in-age children are genetically related.
    The common fascination with multiples also means that you will need to be particularly aware when your children are babies of the need to establish family privacy boundaries concerning who really “needs” detailed information about the unusual beginnings of your family. As your children become older, help them to develop their own scripts about how to respond to the curious.

    4) Being artificially twinned is likely to be harder on same-sex siblings than on opposite sex pairs. If your children are the same sex, you’ll need to work even harder not to twin them.

    5) If your children are of the same race, the assumption that they are fraternal twins will be even greater than it will be if they are of opposite sexes or racially/ethnically different. On the other hand, close sibs of differing races may draw even more questions from the curious, causing the children to feel awkward and uncomfortably “different.”

    6) As your children grow, support their close friendship but discourage what could be their inclination to become “twin entwined” as exclusive friends who are frightened of separation from one another.

    7) Give serious consideration to planning from pre-school forward to separate your children in school by more than just different rooms and teachers for the same grade. There are two ways to do this: you may decide to hold one back from the beginning (boys in particular often benefit from starting formal kindergarten at 6 rather than 5) or, if the cognitive development of both children makes it in their individual best interests to start school at the same time, you might consider sending them to separate schools.

    8) If there was a birthparent deception involved in one or both of your babies’ arrivals, honor your child and his genetic parents by fixing the lie as soon as possible. Allowing this potential problem to exist unaddressed can and will begin to feel like a sword hanging over parents’ heads. Furthermore, the longer you wait, the more likely your child’s birthparent–and eventually your child himself–will feel betrayed. Consider engaging the help of a professional social worker or other mental health professional with mediation training to assist you in sharing this information with your child’s birthparent and establishing a more honest relationship.

    9) Above all, give yourself credit for having had the best of intentions in being so eager to build a family that your children arrived close together. Be the best parent you can be to your individual children. If you acknowledge and address your family’s unique issues, allowing yourselves to reach out for support or help when you need it, your family will do very well!"
Instant Family (1997)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The stem cell miracle breakthrough

It will be interesting the see the left/right line up on the news of the new stem cell technique that doesn't require the complexity of removing an egg from a woman. I don't understand the old method or the new, except it doesn't come with the moral and ethical baggage of the old. Here's the explanation by Dr. Jonathon Lapook at CBS News.
    What's so surprising is that the recipe is relatively easy to follow. I expect there will be an explosion of stem cell research all over the world.
Essentially, this new method makes the old way of destroying harvested or left over embryos the dinosaur. Researchers who have invested their careers, grants and labs in this are not going to be happy. It's like the guy who invested his fortune in buggy whips when people started buying into the idea of the automobile.

I don't think it will end the national debate peacefully, as WaPo quoted Rev. Thomas Berg. The left will never concede this victory to Bush. If he hadn't held the line on refusing to release federal money in destroying human life, this easier, simpler and cheaper method probably would not have been found.
    [James] Thomson said he was surprised it didn't take longer to discover how to reprogram ordinary cells. The technique, he said, is so simple that "thousands of labs in the United States can do this, basically tomorrow." In contrast, the cloning approach is so complex and expensive that many scientists say it couldn't be used routinely to supply stem cells for therapy.
We'll just have to see. There have been promised breakthroughs before.

Creating the holiday sob story

Yesterday I heard a brief report of bad financial news on the radio (they will be on the increase until the election and then will disappear): it seems that the elderly and/or their caregivers are now dipping into their own savings to pay for their care!!!! Isn't that what you're supposed to do? Ever hear about saving for a rainy day?

Then there was this economic horror story in today's WSJ: a woman who is flying home for Christmas (Atlanta) has decided to stay home for Thanksgiving because of "soaring" travel costs. My daughter lives 5 miles down the road and I might not see her between Thanksgiving and Christmas, either. Honestly, some people just have to invent problems.

My friend Mitzi used to spend every week-end taking care of her father-in-law. She lived in Illinois and he lived in Arizona. Beat that one!


In today's WSJ, Joseph Epstein in his article "Desolate Wilderness" mentions living under the rule of children.
    "For some time in America we have, of course, been living under Kindergarchy, or rule by children. If children do not precisely rule us, then certainly all efforts, in families where the smallish creatures still roam, are directed to relieving their boredom if not (hope against hope) actually pleasing them.

    Let us be thankful that Thanksgiving has not yet fallen to the Kindergarchy, as has just about every other holiday on the calendar, with the possible exceptions Yom Kippur and Ramadan. Thanksgiving is not about children. It remains resolutely an adult holiday about grown-up food and drink and football."
Sam Levinson, the comedian who died in 1980, first used the word, kindergarchy, but he was referring to the older children--the college student who rules the parents, particularly their purse strings. The age of the ruling class now has dropped about 20 years.

We'll spend our Thanksgiving with adults, but come Christmas we'll be with adults, their children, their grandchildren and their great grandchildren and a variety of boyfriends and significant others and their little ones. And everyone will be expected to stand transfixed and in awe of their antics. Someone will even be showing video of the next one in the womb.

When Rush bores me

Rush Limbaugh is a happy, upbeat guy with a huge following (heard locally at 610 am, noon week-days) and an even bigger opinion of himself. But, lest you point fingers, he thinks everyone should have a good opinion of herself, work hard, and invest in the future of America. Your talent is on loan from God, also. Media Matters (founded by the Clintons) holds Rush to a higher standard than the other media, which makes for interesting fireworks. However, he does have some topics that bore me.

    1. Golf
    2. Football
    3. Cigars
    4. Hillary's lock box--or anything to do with the Clintons. I don't think there is anything to say about them that he hasn't already said numerous times.
    5. Music--he's a former sports announcer and disc jockey, and enough younger than me that I find it a little loud and wearying.
    6. The marvels of Florida.
    7. Harry Reid--especially after that last round. It's like making fun of a box of rocks.
    8. His weight. It's like Oprah.
    9. Dinner parties he attended over the week-end.
    10. Fund raising or political events he attended over the week-end.
I'm also not fond of, but don't switch channels, when he takes a phone call from a liberal. Really, it's just not fair. He's made millions, after starting at the bottom, with a great voice and wit explaining his political views, and then he gives these poor guys who've never done any public speaking some rope, and they make their own noose and throw it over the light pole. I don't know if his call screener just waits until some dolt calls in who can't put two sentences together, or if liberals who listen to him are really that confused.

Remember Mrs. Kerry?

She's the one who lost the cookie baking contest against Laura Bush. Her first husband's name was John Heinz, a Republican politician who died with 6 others in a plane accident. There is a Digital Research Library and Web-based catalog (University of Pittsburgh) for the Library & Archives of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania (HSWP) at the History Center named for him which contains over 29,000 records. The collection is non-circulating materials documenting life in Western Pennsylvania, so having them scanned and available is great. The Reading Room and collections are located at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15222. If you're doing genealogical research for Pennsylvania family members, you might take a look. I've been browsing an old book on Beaver County where my husband's grandfather and great-grandparents lived. It seems these folks really did come from Scotland (Charles Bruce, d. 1812) way back when.

How many other problems

will the greenies compound? Steamier weather in Iowa this summer was attributed to more corn (which is driving up our food costs) being grown and narrower rows.
    Climatologists are building evidence that crops, particularly corn, are driving up dew points as they put water into the atmosphere through evaporation. They also may make corn-growing areas cooler and alter rain patterns. Story
Doesn't anyone read the research from the 70s when we went through all this hysteria before the gen-xers were born? It's bad enough to drive through our beautiful farmland--90.5 million acres of corn this year, up 15 percent--and see nothing but corn planted right up to the roads, encouraging erosion and destruction of bird habitat, but just crazy when you think of rising food costs, agricultural inputs and all our tax money being thrown at it.
    Cellulosic ethanol--which is derived from plants like switchgrass--will require a big technological breakthrough to have any impact on the fuel supply. That leaves corn- and sugar-based ethanol, which have been around long enough to understand their significant limitations. What we have here is a classic political stampede rooted more in hope and self-interest than science or logic. WSJ hot topic
And nary a new refinery or coal mine in sight (God's plan for storing vegetative matter for later fuel use) as the Chinese burn dirty coal putting filth into the atmosphere to make our "energy saving" light bulbs, while grabbing up the oil markets. Thank you Algorians.

Unintended consequences of planning ahead

I've always been an early riser, and I go out and meet the folks about 6 a.m. at the coffee shop (different ones depending on the day). I even blog about it. Coffee Spills. But I also bring home the refill. For a long time, I just warmed it up to drink later; then I started saving some for the next morning. Then I started saving the whole thing for the next morning. Along came the "fall back" time change. Early risers hate this time of year (we love the "spring forward". Now we're waking up at 3:30 instead of 4:30. Lately, it's been 3 a.m. because I know that coffee is downstairs waiting for me. Even if I dawdle in the shower, take special care with my make-up and hair, and don't warm it up until 4:30, my mind at 3 a.m. knows it is calling, calling. Even the cat who likes to start smacking the window blinds around 4 a.m. thinks this is way to early for breakfast.

This morning I killed a little time trying to encourage sleepiness by shifting to the couch. I didn't want to watch Birdman of Alcatraz (when I was a veterinary librarian, I had his books in the collection), so I watched a cooking show on Food Network about another bird, the turkey, thinking it would put me to sleep. But I got caught up in the techniques. Aren't these TV chefs amazing? The eye and ear are not clever enough to determine how the chatter evolves seamlessly with the green bean casserole. I know it's the miracle of writing (are their writers on strike, too?) and editing, but it's the smoothness that amazes me. The tricky biscuit dough wreath rolled in cinnamon just appears on the sheet from rolling to cutting to placing in seconds, but her cheery, instructional voice doesn't change, her jeweled sweater doesn't have egg wash splashes, nothing sticks to the rolling pin, there's nothing under her fingernails, and strands of her long, blonde hair don/t appear in the gravy. The woman is amazing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What would Jesus buy?

This film just might save you from making huge mistakes this Christmas. It tells the story of anti-consumerism preacher Reverend Billy. Along with his Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir he goes on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse. I saw the trailer--actually saw the words "Merry Christmas" at a store--although it may have been a movie set. I don't think it's in Columbus yet.

I looked through a few blogs, and saw the usual anti-business, anti-capitalism comments from readers and wondered if the person writing had thought about where she was in the food chain of consumerism. Distribution of the product? Marketing? Salesclerk? Gas station attendant gasing up the SUV? Restaurant worker serving shoppers? Construction worker building the mall? Sanitation worker hauling the trash? Musician selling the iTunes? Farmer raising the turkeys and pumpkins? Baker making the pies and cookies? Think about it. Where do you want the consumerism to stop and how much 'til you can't pay the rent?

But did they have a legal driver's license?

Personal vehicles were the most common conveyance used to smuggle cocaine into the United States in 2006, arriving primarily across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Seizures: 27% in California; 20% in Arizona; <1% in New Mexico; 10% in West Texas; and 42% in south Texas.

Cocaine Smuggling in 2006

Update on Ramos and Campeon

Guess who's coming to dinner?

During the last two decades, Dengue Fever has been on the increase in Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s a mosquito transmitted disease with 4 virus serotypes, and having one doesn’t make a person immune-- he can get the other three. Each infection places the person at greater risk for Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF), a life threatening condition. There is an outbreak on the Mexican side of the Mexico-Texas border. So guess who’s coming to dinner? This is reported in a recent issue of JAMA. This content is free, and well worth reading when you get tired of hearing about bird flu and MRSA on CNN or Fox.

JAMA, although one of my favorite journals, has a strong liberal editorial bias when it comes to health issues which are impacted by current public policy, so no mention is made in this issue about U.S.-Mexico border security, only that, "Clinicians in the south Texas area and members of the public should be aware of the potential for DHF in addition to dengue fever in the region." Gee, thanks for the heads up.

JAMA also doesn’t go back to basics and point out that dengue fever, because it is mosquito spread, can be controlled with DDT. Although just a few mosquitoes can infect an entire household with the virus and those people can in turn infect co-workers and schoolmates, neither JAMA nor the WHO document it cites, mentions control of mosquitoes with DDT.

However, a 2005 document at Yale Global let it slip out:
    "Dubbed "breakbone fever" when it was first diagnosed more than three centuries ago, because it causes extreme pain in the joints, dengue began its global spread around Asia during World War II, when it traveled with warring armies from country to country. After the war, Aedes mosquitoes and dengue flourished along with Asia's rapid population growth and urbanization and then was carried aboard ships and planes to Africa and the Mediterranean.

    When the use of the insecticide DDT in Latin America was stopped in the 1970s after the apparent eradication of yellow fever, which Aedes mosquitoes also carries, dengue was able to stage a comeback in the New World."
The virus seems to be going first class these days, using airplanes to travel, plastic lids and containers for breeding, and residing in clean, urban settings. You definitely will not need to be living in a swampy rural area to get this virus. Dengue currently infects about 50 million people, particularly in Asia, and has researchers scratching their heads, looking at computer models, and apply for grants. "Warming globalists" will note in their hot air, alarmist messages how these diseases were once defeated, but will blame global warming on their resurgence without mentioning that DDT could be among the tools to help control them.

Maybe they think mosquitoes are on the endangered species list and need to be protected?

[Emerging Infectious Diseases also notes its mysterious suppression and then reemergence, but doesn't say why or how. The decade of the 1970s seems to hold the secret. . . could it be. . .? "In the Pacific, dengue viruses were reintroduced in the early 1970s after an absence of more than 25 years. Epidemic activity caused by all four serotypes has intensified in recent years with major epidemics of DHF on several islands. Despite poor surveillance for dengue in Africa, epidemic dengue fever caused by all four serotypes has increased dramatically since 1980. . . In 2005, dengue is the most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans; its global distribution is comparable to that of malaria, and an estimated 2.5 billion people live in areas at risk for epidemic transmission."

The AIDS Estimate

What's the reason for overestimating the effects or spread of a terrible disease? WaPo reports on the inaccuracy of the UN estimates of the size and course of the AIDS epidemic.
    The United Nations' top AIDS scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the epidemic, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement.

    AIDS remains a devastating public health crisis in the most heavily affected areas of sub-Saharan Africa. But the far-reaching revisions amount to at least a partial acknowledgment of criticisms long leveled by outside researchers who disputed the U.N. portrayal of an ever-expanding global epidemic. Source Washington Post (may need registration)
It is good that 40% fewer will suffer, unfortunately I doubt that it means that the programs in place have been successful, but rather those who run the programs have been inflating the numbers in order to get more money. The unintended consequences are probably doner fatigue both from NGOs and governments, and less money directed to other programs that need it.

I've written about this before: "Western interference in the economies, politics and cultures of third world developing countries has not turned out well. The American Left loves to point fingers at Christian missionaries who started hospitals, schools, churches and developed a written language for Africans, Asians, and Islanders, but their footprints are tiny compared to the disaster of foreign aid from Europe and the U.S. The missionaries at least were accountable to God and their denomination; the governments and the U.N. agencies who soaked the guilt-swamped for more money funded various interventions in their societies which were accountable to no one, not even us taxpayers, elevating a class of dictators, bureaucrats and home grown thieves."

For all the statistics on what aid has done, check The White Man's Burden; why the West's efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good, by William Easterly (Penguin Press, 2006) and The Trouble with Africa; why foreign aid isn't working, by Robert Calderisi (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). From WaPo's review of Easterly's book: [He writes about] "the spirit of benign meddling that lies behind foreign aid, foreign military interventions and such do-gooder institutions as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations. In his account, such efforts are fatally contaminated by what the philosopher Karl Popper called "utopian social engineering." Easterly's list of well-meaning villains stretches from the economist Jeffrey Sachs to the rock singer and charity impresario Bono."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sleep soundly

Baldilocks says, because SSgt Lawrence Dean, USMC, is watching out for you. See the interview.

Christian basher tries to intimidate

I'm being watched for racist comments because I'm a "self-proclaimed" Christian by
    Dr. R. Watnicke
    The University of British Columbia
    2329 West Mall Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4
    tel 604.822.2211
He left a comment on my Thanksgiving entry of four years ago when I noted the international diversity of the crew working at White Castle, the only place open on that holiday. He didn't like my humor I guess. I said the Supervisor was Canadian because his haughtiness (with the staff) reminded me of Peter Jennings (he was alive and well then). In Canada it is currently considered a hate crime to publicly criticize any identifiable group, or to say they are wrong for any reason. Especially from the pulpit. Witnessing to a non-Christian about Jesus I suppose could be hate speech in Canada, because you would be telling him you think he is a sinner, and therefore doing something wrong, and that would be an attack. This is what passes for tolerance in some countries.

I did offer at that post White Castle's turkey stuffing recipe, not realizing I'd pick up some turkeys along the way.
    10 White Castle hamburgers, no pickles
    1 ½ cups celery, diced
    1 ¼ tsp. ground thyme
    1 ½ tsp. ground sage
    ½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
    ¼ c. chicken broth

    In a large mixing bowl, tear the burgers into pieces and add diced celery and seasonings. Toss and add chicken broth. Toss well. Stuff cavity of turkey just before roasting. Makes about 9 cups (enough for a 10- to 12-pound turkey). Note: Allow 1 hamburger for each pound of turkey, which will be the equivalent of ¾ cup of stuffing per pound.
Vancouver is one of my favorite cities.

Are Canadians wimps or just socialists?

Today I read that Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura can't be broadcast in Canada because of Canada's strict "hate speech" laws. I just can't believe that Canadians would put up with their government telling them what they could listen to. I've never heard either one of them say anything even remotely hateful--harsh, yes; funny, yes; annoying, yes; narrow, yes; conservative, yes; bombastic, yes; parody, yes; snide, yes; repetitive, yes; smart, yes; incisive, yes; common sense, yes.

Dr. Laura, at least back in the days when I could get her program, was awfully hard on stupid people, racist people, whiney people, and people who had not treated their children well. Dr. Laura got bumped here in Columbus (in my opinion) in the fall of 2001 because she was outrageous enough to say that babies should only be adopted by a married man and woman. Money talks, and sometimes it says good-bye. As far as I know, single adoptive parents didn't interpret that sound research as hate speech, but gays did, and they have tremendous power--far beyond their numbers might suggest, because they are wealthy, educated, and political. They certainly had some power with Clear Channel. There's a solution--you change the channel if it makes you mad.

Read Dr. Laura's blog entry, "For years," to see what Canadians and Ohioans are missing.

I watched Limbaugh interviewed on Fox this afternoon. He said the 5 weeks he spent in drug rehab were the most valuable of his life. He became addicted to OxyContin after spinal surgery. Later he lost his hearing and had a cochlear implant,a device that converts a mechanical signal of hearing into a electrical signal that the brain can interpret. Usually the Left would wet themselves, fawn and shuffle to show sympathy to a druggie with a handicap, a two-fer. But not Rush whom they hate so bad it makes them feel good, like they're doing something patriotic or spiritual. I guess it got them in shape for hating Bush.

The Writers' Strike

It's hurting California's economy even if the rest of us are breathing a sigh of relief for the hurting culture. This Californian supports the strikers.

Monday Memories--head covering or prayer veil

Somewhere I have a small envelop containing a prayer covering. Mother always kept a few in her desk so that if we were visiting around Easter or the fall communion date for the Brethren Love Feast, her daughters or granddaughters could wear one to the service, and I think I may have brought one home after her funeral in 2000. There is a fairly long, but not unbiased, article about head coverings for Mennonite women here. We were not Mennonite and most Brethren women gave up the veil or covering in the 1920s. I've seen photos of my maternal grandmother in a bonnet similar to the ones on the left when she was a young married woman. As I see it, they have both a spiritual and cultural use. Among the Brethren, it was called dressing "in order," and it reminds us that there is a God given order between men and women, and humans and God. But they are also a witness to others about your faith and help maintain modesty. Women who cover their heads would look a bit silly with bellies hanging over waist bands, and bursting bosoms over the top of skinny t-shirts. Even sillier than those who do it with no head covering.

I was probably 11 or 12 when I was baptized. My parents drove from Forreston (15 miles) so I could attend the instruction classes at the Church of the Brethren in Mt. Morris, which I think were on Sunday afternoon. Most of the class was the children in this photograph. After baptism, I was given my own prayer veil which I wore to communion to sit with the women, twice a year. The last I wore a covering was about 10 years ago when I attended communion at my parents' church.

Interesting selection of head coverings for women over the centuries, including Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists, and Anabaptists.

Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush. . .

Let's break the chain. We seem to be in a rut. Elect a new name. We don't need to repeat history--recent or ancient.
    William Bradford [Plymouth Colony of the Pilgrims], who was elected governor thirty times between 1622 and 1656, proved to be a steady hand in directing the colony, as well as an able historian of its courage and trials. Story of Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Trick my Truck

I've been enjoying watching truck makeovers on CMT this week-end. Nice personal interest stories with the Chrome Shop Mafia working their miracles. I don't know if the writers' strike will affect them or not--the banter seems pretty standard from show to show. Trick my Trucker, a weight loss and make-over show (series) for the drivers was even more fun. Seeing overweight smokers with hair and beard styles stuck in the 70s get into good nutrition, exercise get a shave and a haircut was awesome. Took 25 years off their appearance.

Eugene Jackson's Lifeline, a semi that rescues stranded big rigs got spiffed up.

Hollywood and the Iraq War

Remembering the WWII movies, it's hard to imagine today's bevy of beauties like Cruise, Clooney and DiCaprio doing the same for the Iraq War. First of all, they wouldn't be able to disguise their hatred for Dubya. But here's a second thought--about wealth and guilt:
    "I used to believe that one of the reasons that a lot of the male movie stars of the 30s and 40s drank so much was out of guilt that they were making more money in a week than most Americans earned in a year, and that even in the middle of the Great Depression they were living like royalty. But I also suspected that they turned to alcohol partly out of shame because they were engaged in what would generally have been regarded as a passive, feminine occupation — playing dress up, being told what to do and how to do it by male directors, standing by while rugged stunt men did all the heavy lifting and, worst of all, wearing makeup all the livelong day."
But then along came the war and they were able to do guy stuff and be patriotic--even giving up lucrative contracts to serve their country. Those who were too old or had disabilities like John Wayne, made propaganda films. Today's mega-rich male stars? She calls them bimbos.

Poverty in America--we can end it

That's a slogan of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, not George W. Bush, John Edwards or Charlie Rangel.

No one who's ever read a government, foundation or religion report believes poverty will end, especially not in the United States because the bar is always being raised. It's not "poverty" that energizes politicians to ask for more taxes or para church organizations to seek donations, it's the income gap. Those on the bottom are in poverty, even if my early 1970s SAHM life style in the educated middle class was a pretty close match with today's poverty. No air conditioning, one older car, one TV set, no cable, no computer, no dinners out, no vacations. It was mac and cheese at the end of the month; sewing the kids' clothes; postponing repair projects until we had the money. Everyone we knew lived the same way.

The good news is that the USA is the land of opportunity and the percent of change was 90% in the bottom quintile of income 1996-2004--people who will have moved up and out within the next decade--and they have been doing that at least since the 1950s according to a new Treasury Dept. report. Many of the poor of the 1990s are now in the top quintile, because the bottom always includes young people starting out willing to make sacrifices and take risks.

Today's face of poverty, however, does have a distinct, unchanging look--women and children, some recent immigrants, the unhealthy, disabled, and elderly with no family. The bad news is new poor will flood in across the border (our poverty looks pretty good to them). The bad news is we loose to death and injury more young people on our roads in one year than we lost in 4 in Iran and Iraq. Many will never again be a productive citizen and will need care and assistance. The bad news is we have many children born pre-maturely, with their first 3 months of life costing a million dollars. Even choosing a Caesarian a week or two early causes death and injury to be paid for down the road. Neither private insurance or SCHIP will solve a million dollar hospital bill. They may never be healthy--they may always need more medical care, extra help in school and modified work environment.

The bad news is many people will by choice addle their brains with alcohol and drugs, decreasing their intelligence and ability to earn a living for themselves or their families down the road, or their ability to help others. The bad news is that some people will inherit diseases or conditions for which there is no cure, only modified living arrangements, and they will need some type of help the rest of their lives.

The worst news about poverty is that young woman you see above, barely hanging on. There are too many children being raised by unmarried mothers, with Uncle Sam as a distant and uncaring step-father, while the real "daddy" hangs out with his buddies and shows up just to get a loan or make a sperm deposit. Even if she eventually finishes high school and gets a grant to complete some college, her chances of giving her children what her married friends have are slim to none. Marriage of the parents is the best safety net a child can have--her chances of growing up in poverty are extremely slim if only her mother had made better choices about sex.

Poverty shouldn't be a slogan or a bumper sticker to be trotted out by politicians or preachers to get your vote or money. You are obligated by God to help, assist and love the poor. The poor are not obligated to be your feel-good project or "teach" your teens about life for a school requirement.

You are never obligated to close the gap between quintiles by reducing or taking the incomes of others, nor do you need to stand in the way of those who are trying to escape it--which many poverty programs do. You are not obligated to help the wealthy, fair-skinned Mexican government officials continue to be irresponsible and neglectful of its own brown children, by inviting people to cross the border for money to send home, and stay here illegally, decimating their culture and villages.

The strong Canadian dollar

is apparently hurting some Canadian industries that supply substantial markets in the USA, and are now less competitive.
    "So now that Americans are taking a second look at our goods because of our strong dollar and their weak Greenback, Quebecers like Jean Charest are beginning to panic.

    My suggestion to Charest is this: Quebecers really don’t like the USA and the American people, so here is Quebec’s best opportunity ever, to wean itself from the American teat.

    All Quebecers have to do is learn how to live with a little less. A little less tourism - A little less manufacturing - Maybe even a little less hydroelectric sales. And then they’ll never again need to be upset by the big bad ugly Americans.

    On the brighter side though, Quebecers are crossing into the USA in record numbers to buy their Christmas gifts, and to spend their vacation money in a country where their inflated dollar buys them more.

    Charest must be overjoyed at his Quebecois compatriots’ newfound buying bonanza south of the border while Quebec manufacturers, retailers and service-providers wonder if they’ll have a job in the New Year." Howard Galganov

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Political Correctness in 1994

Today I was skimming through a letter I'd written to a high school friend in October 1994. Sounds just like my blog. Except in those days, I was a Democrat. I see the seeds of change.
    I've always enjoyed large compilations of information--encyclopedias, handbooks, etc., so when I saw the title The Oxford History of the American West (1994) on the new book shelf at the public library, I checked it out. The cover is a lovely realistic painting of mountains, cowboys, cattle--probably by a WPA artist. But inside. Oh my. Political Correctness reigns. There is not a kind, decent or pleasant word about "our" country, the one we know. It glorifies every ethnic group that ever made it to either shore, and vilifies anyone of European descent. Although the authors are somewhat puzzled about how to write about the Spaniards. After all, someone might realize that Spaniards (Hispanics) were also European. Some sections are so odd, it is almost comical--if this weren't being taught in schools. For instance, the Indians knew how to treat animals, because although they killed them, ate them and skinned them, they respected them. I seriously doubt that made a difference to the animals. This is followed by a section on how the wives and slave women of the Indian men spent their lives tanning and preparing hides (not presented as a negative against Indian culture). Apparently, political correctness doesn't apply if women are abused within the culture of a maligned minority.
That got me wondering about the term, "political correctness." Looking through various articles on the internet for at least 5 minutes, I discovered that it actually began as a Marxist term, but was used tongue in cheek by the left in the 70s and 80s to describe the over zealous. In the early 90s, the conservatives snatched it and turned it on the left to describe their nit picky language ways. Seems fair.

Scrap the Flight 93 Memorial

WorldNet Daily reports: "Two years ago U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo asked the Park Service to revamp a proposed memorial to the heroics of Flight 93 passengers and crew, who died trying to retake their airliner from terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, because of its use of a crescent, an Islamic symbol.

But the crescent remains, and now he's telling officials to scrap the plan and start all over." I can't find the letter on Tancredo's web site, but it is repeated at a number of sources.

The intention of the design doesn't matter. It's the result. It's the message. If it upsets the victims' families, someone needs to take another look.

Joanne Hanley, memorial superintendent, has said all along that people are seeing things that aren't really there. The "thing" I'm seeing is a crescent. I'll bet if it were a cross, someone on her staff would notice.

Don't you just love it

when "easy to use" technology sites for non-technical folks like me are so filled with jargon you haven't a clue what they do?
    Caravel is a enterprise-level Content Management System with an intuitive user interface, designed to allow non-technical users to maintain website content. Caravel allows admins to centrally maintain thousands of sites off one code-base.

How to tell a real peacemaker

Check out their beliefs. Statement on the War in Iraq by the Mennonites (Mennonite Church USA), at the Global Anabaptist Encyclopedia On-line. Also useful for doing some genealogy searches if you have Mennonites in your family tree.

Cha-Ching a ring ding at Christmas

This is the time of year that every household that has donated in the past, ends up on the mailing list of charitable organizations. They know, as retailers do, that we're feeling a bit more generous, and that some even plan ahead for deductions on the income taxes in 2007.

Here's 3 that we support--Lutheran Bible Translators who put scripture in the "heart language" of millions; Pregnancy Decision Health Centers which helps save babies' lives and gives women in distress support when their parents or boyfriends pressure them to abort; and Pinecrest Community, a retirement complex, nursing home, and Alzheimer' care facility in the town where I grew up, affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. My parents, the parents of my friends, my grandmother and her siblings, and my aunts and uncles have all resided or been treated here at some time in their lives.

The middle class and poor give much more from the heart and wallet than the rich, and the working poor more than the middle class. I checked our zip code. We have almost double the median income of the rest of Ohio, but are just slightly below Ohio's average in charitable giving. And it's not just Ohio. In a very similar spread, families in San Francisco give about the same amount to charity as families in South Dakota: $1,300. Yet the SF families have average incomes of about $80,000, compared to only about $45,000 in South Dakota. Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians give much more liberally than mainline, liberal Christians.

Conservative Christians will be blamed

As the election heats up, we'll hear all sorts of nonsense and sneaky asides about the power of the Christian right. I'm sure Huckabee will get a few slurs just because he was a Baptist minister in his past life. I guess it brings out voters, because it sure worked in Ohio in 2006. We elected a liberal governor, a former Methodist minister. Oh, that it were true that Christians stood on biblical principles--or that they even flooded the polls on election day. Christians haven't been able to roll back anything. Here's what I wrote in March, and so far, no one has challenged it.
    . . . liberals try to put up conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives, as some sort of powerhouse bringing down the government. No one has been a bigger spender on social programs than the Bush administration (especially education). Medicare. Biggest gains under Republicans. Illegal immigration. Huge muck job by Republicans--who was president in 1986 for IRCA? Social Security. Reagan was President when I lost mine. Legal abortion. Last time I checked, we're still killing babies--what--25-35 million since Roe v. Wade? If Christian conservatives manage to roll back a week or two in a sparsely populated rural state, the Dems go crazy ("oh no, a baby's made it out alive"), but the law's still there. DDT. Last time I ran the numbers, we'd killed more Africans with malaria in the last 30 years than died being shipped across the Atlantic as slaves in the 18th century, but not a single bird, let alone human, ever died from spraying DDT on mosquito eggs in standing pools of swamp water. . . Clean air laws. We've got bunches of empty factories in Ohio that have no smoke belching from the chimneys--the jobs went first to the southern U.S.A., then to Asia. Women's Rights. Leading cause of poverty in the U.S.A. is unmarried women having sex and babies before finishing school. The poverty gap is no longer racial, it is marital. And Democrats have a fainting spell if someone introduces an abstinence program or a chastity pledge
I'm waiting for someone to outline all the programs demanded, introduced or defeated by conservative Christians which have changed our culture as much as the above items.