Monday, March 31, 2008

Challenging the common view

The press release from the National Science Foundation didn't raise eyebrows in this household:
    "New research suggests political freedom and geographic factors contribute significantly to causes of terrorism, challenging the common view that terrorism is rooted in poverty."
I am tired of poverty or the "wealth gap" being the dead horse constantly flogged by academics and politicians so they can line their own pockets with government grants. Everything from obesity to learning disabilities to the digital divide is blamed on poverty, to say nothing of terrorism domestic and international, as though the non-poor never have social, spiritual, psychological, political or economic struggles.

The NSF has an annual budget of almost $6 billion to research these things. And it took them this long to figure this out? Who says people with money don't have problems?

Don't judge Obama by his pastor!

Conservative media are having a blast rerunning video of Jeremiah Wright's racist sermons and repeating the story that Barack Obama should have done something about his pastor. There may be 50 reasons to not vote for Obama, but his pastor isn't one of them. People who say this don't understand the structure of Protestant churches. First of all, if you criticise the pastor, the assistant pastor, the Sunday School staff, the organist, or even the janitor, you will be told nicely, and with love, that there are other churches (probably 5,000 denominations) which can meet your needs and perhaps it's time for you to go look at the alternatives. Second, for millions of Christians, their church is their home base, their family in a society where the nearest relative might be 500miles away, or friends live on the other side of the city, 45 minutes away. Third, many Christians are "Chreasters"--they attend only on the big holidays, and sermons at Christmas and Easter are usually standard fare. Where would they go where they would agree with everything? Especially Obama. He was not a Christian before meeting Rev. Wright. He was raised in the home of his white secular grandparents. How would he know what he might hear elsewhere in another black church after he'd given up a mentor and his church family?

If people have asked why Chelsea Clinton didn't stop her mother from lying about Bosnian snipers, I haven't seen it discussed. But the dynamics are similar. She loves her mother and respects her, warts and all. They've been through a lot together. Where is she going to find another family who will give her the visibility and power few women her age have? She knows her mother was lying about having war experience; she knows her father is a philandering liar. Where is she going to get another family if she turns her back on them because of their lies?

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Poor, lonesome, soundless letter "C"

Lately I've been reading William Tyndale's New Testament, it's excellent introduction by Priscilla Martin, and Tyndale's introduction and prologues to the NT books (1534, based on the 1938 ed). It's amazingly easy to read--large parts of the King James Version are based on this translation. Getting the Bible into the language of the English people was the dream he died for (he was strangled and his body burned). Anyway, one speech form that hasn't been modernized in this 1534 translation is the use of -eth and -th at the end of verbs. No one knows what 15th and 16th century English sounded like--we have no recordings. And there are those who think the -th and -eth were actually prounced not with a lisp, but a hiss, as an "S." And if you've ever tried it, it makes reading those older English Bibles much easier. Many more people heard the word than read the word in those days. The KJV was meant for the ear. "For God so loveth the world, that he hath given his only son, that none that believe in him should perish, but should have everlasting life."

That lead me to thinking about the letter "C" which has no sound of its own in English, but which is essential in so many words. It is either an "S" or a "K" or is combined with a consonant "H" to be hard or soft ch or sh. Sometimes a C with a T has an SH sound--but it might have the same sound combined with an I. Sometimes it is just completely ignored, as the first C in SCIENCE. I've blogged about this letter before, as in "concrete cellar chute."

Our sermon series right now is on "Faith Training," and today's sermon by Buff Delcamp was on the word "run." These are the "C" words I noted during the service:
    church -- Russian has one letter for the CH sound, Ч ч
    accepted -- this word has both the k sound and the s sound
    acclamation --this word has two k sounds, side by side
    Nicene Creed
Tyndale's translation changed the politics of England (yes, I know why Henry VIII left the Catholic church) with just a few words. He used the Greek manuscripts instead of the Latin Vulgate (Wycliff used that 2 centuries earlier) in his translation. This means that PENANCE became REPENTANCE (Mark 1:1-3), and CHARITY became LOVE (1 Corinthians 13). Ecclesia was translated CONGREGATION instead of CHURCH. This undercut the power of the Catholic church even without the doctrine of justification which was the big issue among the German Lutherans.

Isn't language interesting. And if you depend on a translation that is either a paraphrase, or is burdening you with 16th century English, then Tyndale died for nothing! He was a stickler for accuracy, beauty and sound.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Think local, act short term

You'll do far more good. Sixteen year olds are just not going to get turned on to a project to help their grandchild inherit a better earth. On our way to Worthington last night to have dinner with our friends Wes and Sue, we were stopped at a light at 315 and North Broadway. What a mess. There is trash--bottles, bags, old political signs, posters, grocery sacks, newspapers--embedded in all the branches and grasses, smashed up against the wire fences, and strewn along the easements and berms. I'm not sure if this is a county problem or a city problem, but I know it is a local problem. Everytime a piece of paper breaks loose from a garbage truck bin, it collects itself with other trash along a fence row. Everytime a wise guy tosses a beer bottle from the car window, he's invading my space. All the schools have community service requirements "to incorporate classroom skills with the real world." A few stints of cleaning up these areas instead of the cushy inside jobs at the senior center or the local library would probably teach teens a lesson they'd never forget. Litter hurts.

Night Terrors

On radio and TV, at 3 a.m. the weirdos come out to spread lies, terrors, fears and falsehoods. The radio guys are not quite as well funded as public TV so they just report on outer space aliens, faces in syrup on pancakes, and major government plots. The stuff that shows up on your tax supported public TV channels is a lot more anti-capitalist, anti-American and more subtly about government plots. They can make Jeremiah Wright (Obama's pastor who preaches black liberation theology) look like a beginner, but with less shouting.

This morning on WOSU-TV about 3:30 a.m. I came across "Unnatural causes: Is inequality making us sick," by California Newsreel--your source for "social justice." The title is a no brainer--of course they think inequality makes people sick. There was no discussion--it was incredibly lop sided. I don't know if Heritage Foundation puts out films on health, but if it does WOSU should provide equal time. In the few minutes I watched this propaganda, there was no information on wealth and class mobility (I've been in 4 of the 5 quintiles), or the wealth of households which have married parents compared to those that don't, or the fact that in Western countries with a base of socialized medicine, wealth will still buy a person a level of care (and speed) that the lowest paid subsidized worker can't have (we have friends in Finland and have seen this). We have many levels of government health care in the U.S., Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the VA health care system, and the people who use it most effectively also use their private wealth just as in Canada, England, France, Finland, etc.

Every socialist, well-dressed think-tank CEO, consulted for this film from Warren Buffett to lobbyist, black, brown or white, was himself well-off--it was everyone else (oddly enough only since the 80s--hmmm, must be a clue) who was hurting. That's how they make their income (except Buffett whose wealth has softened his brain). No mention of the damage to the health and welfare of children that moving masses of women into the labor force since the early 1970s has done. Or the damage done to children who are scraped from the womb into garbage pails and never have an opportunity to earn any income at all. Most poor children don't have married parents. That's their gap. No, these folks want more money for daycare to push more children out of the home. And more power for government run schools (while they send their children to private schools). If only there were less of an income gap they say, there would be better health all around--i.e., redistribute middle class wealth into government grants for various pork infested programs. Maybe that will bail Arnold and California out of their spiraling debt?

After you get safe water, which we've had since the early 20th century, good health is primarily genetic and behavioral--remove the genes you inherited and your bad eating habits, your smoking and drinking, and see what this looks like. But don't compare the U.S. to countries that haven't become the home of immigrants from every continent's gene pool for 500 years.

I've composed a song just for California Newsreel to use in its trailers after viewing its list of high priced titles. Haven't got a tune yet.
    California Newsreel Theme song

    Oh sing along, along with me
    about a socialist choppy sea
    in which we all can drown drown
    equally and all around 'round.

    Oh, fiddle-dee-dee,
    but not for me
    I'm way too smart
    for my good heart.

    It's for you, it's for you
    Your taxes, not just a few
    Gimme, gimme oh let me see
    The first cut will come to me!

    Gimme, gimme oh let me see
    The first cut will come to me!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Family Photo 1968

Forty years ago, February 1968, I took my baby daughter to the Ohio State University Libraries catalog department, where I'd been a Slavic cataloger, to show her off. I had resigned when she arrived and didn't return to work for 9 years. Looking at this photo, what I find so remarkable is not how gorgeous she was, or that my winter coat had fur cuffs and collar, but how dressed up we all were. It almost looks like a party, but I had simply dropped by to let them see her. In those days, women library staff didn't wear slacks to work, and jeans were unthinkable. Look at that! High heels, jewelry--that's amazing. As skirts got shorter and shorter in the late 60s and early 70s, making it impossible to be graceful or comfortable, women welcomed the pants suit, and haven't looked back! And we did a lot of walking in those days--everything you did at your desk had to be checked and double checked in various printed sources or the card catalog. Looks like we stayed trim. The main building, Thompson Library on Neil Avenue, is closed now for remodeling, but at that time the catalog department was on the first floor approximately where the offices of the reference department staff were a few years back (technical services were in the basement since the mid-70s.)

If her lips are moving

Whether it is about her pre-Bush belief in the threat of WMD and Saddam Hussein, or dodging sniper fire in Bosnia, or the right wing conspiracy to bring down Bill with LIES about his sex life, or her financial scare stories about all the industries she currently denounces, you can't believe her. And the media mavens let us know what they think of truth (all quotes in today's USAToday) It's just not a big deal.
    AP writer Ron Fournier: "over compensating"

    Boston Globe, Joan Vennochi: "selective memory syndrome"

    Slate, John Dickerson: "we should stop pouncing on every little thing"

    David Brooks: "The candidates are sniping and we have to endure. . ."

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cynthia Tucker: "snarling and vicious smears"
Update 3-29: Peggy Noonan thinks the press and some supporters might finally be wise to her.

If I were younger

I'd buy a house. The bargains right now are fabulous compared to 3 or 4 years ago when buyers were bidding up the seller's price. And 20 years ago? My goodness! We got a mortgage at 10.5% and were happy to get it. We checked at our local bank this week about some property we plan to sell, and the rates for either conventional or FHA were 5.75%. That's lower than we paid in 1962 when we bought our first home, a duplex in Champaign, Illinois. We were in the bottom quintile, the down payment was a gift from my father, he took the 2nd mortgage so we paid on two mortgages (renters paid one), and we lived on the first floor and rented the second floor. Being a landlord is a huge hassle, particularly when you are 22 years old, but that rent put us where we are today. When we sold the house on land contract upon moving to Columbus in 1967, the mortgage payment also covered our car loan. Then it turned out the bank had made an error in calculating the principle, so we got a little unexpected cash bonus when the new owner finally paid it off. Young people today have many more options, but they complain more and are less willing to sacrifice. (My parents thought the same of us because they were young adults during the Great Depression.) One option that we didn't have, which was a blessing, was that banks would not consider a wife's income in figuring what you could pay. So many people have lived to the max the last 30 years that when the economy "hits a rough patch" as it will do in cycles, they have no resources.

By the time this photo was taken, the house had been painted charcoal grey, my husband had installed a separate door for the tenants, put a wall between the stairs and our apartment, and built a wall through the upstairs kitchen to create a small second bedroom. He also remodeled our kitchen, divided our dining room so we would have two bedrooms, and built a linen closet in the bathroom. He was quite handy with a limited set of tools. The basement had a dirt floor, so on damp days it could be creepy with crawly things. There was no garage, and although that looks like grass, I think it was mainly weeds. That's my mother's car on the gravel driveway from the brick street, but eventually we bought that too.

What are you waiting for? Here's some bargains I saw in today's paper: In Chicago, on north Astor you can get a Gold Coast penthouse with 10' ceilings, living room, dining room, 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths for $1,150,000. Fabulous location. If I could choose anyplace in the world to live (and had my children near by) it would be Chicago.

In West Virginia there are some bargain homesites at New River Gorge for $60,000. The only interesting property I saw in Ohio in the WSJ was an auction for 2-3 acres near Hinkley (isn't that where the buzzards fly to?) with wooded, scenic ravines. But there are great properties all over central Ohio.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another one under the bus?

First Granny, now Tony. Does anyone in Obama's campaign like Jews? Tony McPeak's anti-Israel, anti-Jewish "comments are worse than McCarthyism [of which he accused the Clintons]. They reflect the views of Reverend Wright and other Obama advisers who believe that Israel is just a problem to be solved, not an ally to support.

McPeak is not the only member of the Obama campaign who holds such twisted views. Others such as Robert Malley or Zbigniew Brzezinski have found themselves downgraded to "informal" advisers as their anti-Israel views are made public. Samantha Powers was dismissed for calling Hillary a monster, not for sharing McPeak's belief in the malign omnipotence of the "Israel lobby."" American Spectator

Small waist, heavy hips

We're not in great demand as movie stars or models, but I've never seen any medical studies attributing cardiovascular disease, psoriasis, breast cancer or Alzheimer's to my body shape (the classic pear). Yes, there's more bad belly news, according to the latest issue of Neurology. Large amounts of belly fat are associated with declining cognition. Just being over weight or obese nearly doubles the risk of dementia in old age, according to this study by Rachel Whitmer which looked at 6,583 who were middle age between 1964-1973. Central body fat increases the risk even more, and normal weight people with high belly fat have an elevated risk of dementia.

"What that tells you is the effect of the belly is over and above that of being overweight," Whitmer said. "One of the take-home messages is it's not just your weight but where you carry your weight in middle age that is a strong predictor of dementia."

But here's a bright spot: it's much easier to lose belly weight than those dimpled thighs or buttocks. So cut those calories and start exercising--it's the only way.

WaPo story which has been reprinted in most major newspapers.

There may be something different in this latest study, but this information also appeared 3 years in BMJ: Whitmer RA, Gunderson EP, Barrett-Connor E, Quesenberry CP Jr, Yaffe K. "Obesity in middle age and future risk of dementia: a 27 year longitudinal population based study." BMJ 2005;330:1360.

Learning to read

Everyone learns differently, and if you're lucky, when you were learning to read you had phonics. Some people have a good eye and a tin ear. Others an outstanding memory. Some will never enjoy reading no matter what method is used--it will be only utilitarian. Theories of reading have been changing for 200 years. Since I had both Dick and Jane (see and say, or repeat the words until you know them) and phonics exercises (my first grade teacher recently died at about 103 and she was a killer for phonics, punctuation and spelling), I had a good blend. Here's Jeanne Chall's summary from Learning to read (1967, rev. 1983) as reported by Dr. Diane Ravitch.
    Chall said that there are two primary approaches to teaching reading: one stresses the importance of breaking the code of language; and the other stresses the meaning of language. Phonics programs had a code emphasis, and look-say programs had a meaning emphasis. The research, Chall said, unequivocally supported the use of a code emphasis for beginning readers—and she stressed “beginning readers.”

    She found that the first step in learning to read in one’s native language is essentially learning a printed code for the speech we possess. The code emphasis was especially important for children of lower socioeconomic status, she said, because they were not likely to live in homes surrounded with books or with adults who could help them learn to read. Knowing the names of the letters and the sounds of the letters before learning to read, Chall said, helps children in the beginning stages regardless of which method is used. She concluded that for a beginning reader, knowledge of letters and sounds had even more influence on their reading achievement than the child’s tested IQ did.
Her report was followed by an even more interesting one about the differences in achievement of black students living and attending public school in Fairfax County (wealthy DC suburb) and those in Richmond, VA. In Richmond schools that were 99% black were outperforming the black students in schools that were 99% white. Apparently the Richmond administration had decided to stop blaming poverty and the parents for the students' poor showing and decided it was their job to teach, and to use the best methods to do that (there's not a lengthy discussion of phonics, but it was included).

Read the entire discussion here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


How was your Easter?

Were you asked to be a witness to history, to what happened to Jesus, or were you asked to examine your inner life, motives and attitudes? Was it all about you, your problems, your solutions, your purpose on earth, your good moral behavior and example; was it about renewing the environment and saving the earth for the bunnies, flowers and blue skies, ending the war in the Middle East, Sudan, or Somalia, fighting AIDS or poverty? Did you get a long list of do's and don'ts, or did you get the full Gospel? Was the miracle of the resurrection explained away, with a patronizing pat on the head if you chose to believe? Were you asked to crucify those bad thoughts and roll away the stones in your life that keep you from reaching your spiritual goals, or were you asked to see and believe what happened to Jesus Christ? 1 Corinthians 15 (NIV):
    Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel . . .By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word . . . Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
Paul didn't preach "personal relationship," or about life's purpose, he preached Christ crucified and raised from the dead.
    For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. . . .If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
Can you imagine Paul enduring (2 Corinthians 11) prison, stoning, shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, bandits, and 40 lashes minus one for the sermon you heard on Easter? If you didn't hear what Paul believed on Easter Sunday, he says you are to be pitied. And if you only hear it on Easter and not the rest of the year, I'd suggest that's a pity too.

Does this seem honest to you?

    "Selective Service does not collect any information which would indicate whether or not you are undocumented. You want to protect yourself for future U.S. citizenship and other government benefits and programs by registering with Selective Service. Do it today."
Back during the 18th and 19th century the U.S. government used to sometimes grab the new immigrants and put them in the service before they knew what was happening. That's why you've got Irish immigrants as heroes in Mexico, because they switched sides being so disgruntled because of mistreatment as a Catholic minority. Immigrants since the Revolutionary War have always enlisted in the service as a fast track to citizenship. There were German divisions in our Civil War. In the sense that immigration wasn't as codified then as now, I think we can still say it is dishonest to promise benefits to an illegal for registering for the draft. Luring illegals (who apparently can read English) with the promise that by registering for the draft their status within the country will be secure doesn't quite seem right to me. Not right for us; not right for them. They've already violated the law. What other law violators do we want in the armed forces?

HT Where's your brain.

Selective Service site.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Bad reporting on the uninsured

Jane Zhang reports on the growing number of uninsured government contract workers in today's WSJ. Unfortunately, she hangs the story on the case of a 44 year old, obese woman with MS. The woman, you find out at the end of this sad story, was working for a blind contractor as a food service worker earning $7/hour. She worked approximately 2 years before being diagnosed with MS and had no health insurance.
    Under the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act, blind vendors get priority in winning certain federal contracts. In an illustration of the thicket that contract workers face, there is disagreement over what benefits blind vendors who participate in a government program that gives them preferences, are required to offer employees. The Labor Department says blind vendors must comply with the Service Contract Act and provide benefits. But the Education Department, which administers the Randolph-Sheppard program in conjunction with states, says that is decided on a case-by-case basis. The District of Columbia administrator of the program says the blind vendors aren't required to provide benefits.
Zhang builds her story of uninsured contract workers on a case where we find out (at the end) the woman gets full disability from Social Security, Medicare, and $19,000 worth of free drugs a year from the drug company. It's a matter of conjecture (one doctor's) that insurance could have done anything about the MS.

What Zhang points out, but barely, is that contract workers can receive a cash equivalent of $3.16 an hour to buy their benefits according to the McNamara-O'Hara 1965 law which covers private contractors. So what's the gripe? Well, most federal employees have outstanding perks and $5,587 (average) apparently isn't enough to purchase what they would get as full government employees. But the big problem as I see it is the workers, who are often at the low end wage scale, don't use the cash bonus to buy health insurance--they use it for rent, or clothing, or cigarettes and beer. Who knows. But given the choice, they choose not to buy health insurance. There are on-going investigations to catch and punish contractors who don't abide by the law.

There were 650 investigations of contractors by the Labor Dept in 2007, and I assume something triggered the investigation. If there are 5.4 million contract workers, how many are not getting either the insurance or the cash benefit to buy insurance? She uses only anecdotes. There's no information on which is what. This may be a serious problem--but based on the flimsy evidence she has reported, we'll need to look elsewhere for the answers.

When we find out why people who can buy health insurance either privately or through their employer but don't, then maybe we're getting somewhere. It's odd that there isn't a law as there is for car insurance putting the responsibility on the worker.

Monday, March 24, 2008


New endeavor

This is probably a difficult time to start a new magazine, but I did buy one for my collection this morning and have posted it at my In the Beginning blog about premiere issues. This perky blogger is responsible for the artwork and content, I think. Its original title was Homegrown Hospitality, and it has already changed it to Home and Heart. An inside librarian joke was to create a serial with the name Title Varies*--the topic, of course, was title changes. The issue I purchased said, "display until 10/9/07" but it must have become wedged behind some others and wasn't pulled. Lucky me. The hobby angel saved it.

*A piece of history at Serials Round Table history site: "One periodical which reflects this flurry of serials activities was Title Varies which began in December 1973. Those familiar with this publication remember the infamous acronym, LUTFCSUSTC (pronounced “lootfasustic”, or “lutfasustic”, depending on who was pronouncing it) which stood for Librarians United to Fight Costly, Silly Unnecessary Title Changes. Texas serialists were a very vocal group in their contributed letters, articles, and serial title changes." One librarian wrote in Title Varies in the 1970s wondered who puts up the money for new serials (high mortality, high cost) and who subscribes (libraries) even pondered what we would do without new ones appearing all the time . . . "Imagine what would happen if all that information kept building up and had no way to disseminate itself until finally it would have to propel itself outward in random directions at high velocities, accompanied by heat, light, and noise. That would be a real information explosion." Doesn't that sound like a prediction of cyberspace?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

We served communion at the Sunrise service, 7 a.m. When we've done this other years, we've gone a second time with our children, but this year we told them they were on their own. So our daughter and son-in-law went to the 11 a.m. traditional service in the sanctuary and heard Pastor Dave Mann, back from Haiti for Easter week, the organ and the choir, and our son went to the 11:15 a.m. x-alt service in the fellowship hall and heard Joe Valentino, and the loud rock band, which he thought was excellent (he has a band), except he thought the drums were too loud.

Sunrise services don't seem to have the appeal they used to--at least not when Easter is this early. Counting the choir, I'm guessing we only had about 90 people--and almost no young people. When I was a teen-ager it was a big event to go to the school athletic field for a community shared service in Mt. Morris dressed in our Easter best--hat, gloves, high heels, etc., and sit and shiver on the bleachers. Even kids who didn't go any other time, would attend that service. I remember one year I over slept--must have been a junior--so when my date got to our house it was dark. We lived in a small town and people didn't lock the doors. So he let himself in, realized everyone was asleep, and walked upstairs to my bedroom and woke me up.

Here we are for Easter 1969. Bad quality polaroid, but my husband had red hair.

Easter 2007

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Why Democrats are anti-choice when it comes to schooling

This morning I heard a radio interview about school choice in Ohio and the nation's capital. People who support school choice--school vouchers--are usually conservatives or libertarians. Liberals, Democrats and "progressives," usually do not. On this issue they are illiberal. The reason, of course, is not quality of education--they can read the charts and scores--but the power of unions. Democrats do not support the poor and weak if the unions have anything to say about it. The guest on 91.5 FM was Virginia Ford, (D.C. Parents for School Choice) and she has done a survey for the state of Virginia and not a single federal legislator puts his/her child in the DC public schools. The teachers of the DC children don't put their own children in DC public schools. Obama's daughters go to private school; Hillary's daughter attended a private day school; Al Gore's children went to an exclusive school; Jesse Jackson's grand children, whose father claims a link to every major civil rights event since he was born, don't. If Nancy Pelosi brought her grandchildren to Washington, I'm sure she wouldn't enroll them in public school. Even suburban DC parents don't use the public schools if they can help it. Democrats control all the major cities--Cleveland, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Atlanta--and parents have to fight tooth and nail to have a choice.

All children will benefit when there is competition, was the theory behind tax supported vouchers. When schools have to be accountable and the best they can be in order to get the federal and state dollar, they will drop some of the silliness that passes for education. You may not like NCLB, but it is the result of generations of professional educators leaving the poor and minority children behind. Choice is why Catholic schools are better than the public. That's why homeschooled children with parents untrained in pedogogy do much better than publicly schooled children. Sol Stern writes:
    "Public and privately funded voucher programs have liberated hundreds of thousands of poor minority children from failing public schools. The movement has also reshaped the education debate. Not only vouchers, but also charter schools, tuition tax credits, mayoral control, and other reforms are now on the table as alternatives to bureaucratic, special-interest-choked big-city school systems."
But school choice groups are struggling. They are being worn down by the powerful and well-funded unions who fear losing control. In Ohio, our former Methodist pastor Governor Ted Strickland, who ran a touchy feel-good, family values campaign to get elected, is not supportive of choice and better education for Ohio's children. The Catholic schools, the only viable alternative in many cities, will probably not survive without vouchers for the poor, according to Stern. [In my opinion, the Catholic church's pockets are deep enough in Rome from centuries of wealth building to do this without government aid, but that's another blog.]
    "Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., recently announced plans to close seven of the district’s 28 remaining Catholic schools, all of which are receiving aid from federally funded tuition vouchers, unless the D.C. public school system agreed to take them over and convert them into charter schools. In Milwaukee, several Catholic schools have also closed, or face the threat of closing, despite boosting enrollments with voucher kids."
Stern says competition hasn't had the results hoped for--individual children have benefited but the systems haven't changed. I'm no math whiz, Mr. Stern, but if only 25,000 children have been able to use the voucher system and there are 50,000,000 children in the public schools, that's not exactly a fair test of market incentives! Stern says he's now leaning toward the problem of teacher training, not market forces. It's hard for me to believe 62 years after my husband and I started elementary school, me with phonics and he without, that the "experts" are still fighting that battle. I'd call throwing a child into reading without phonics is child abuse.
    "Professors who dare to break with the ideological monopoly—who look to reading science or, say, embrace a core knowledge approach—won’t get tenure, or get hired in the first place. The teachers they train thus wind up indoctrinated with the same pedagogical dogma whether they attend New York University’s school of education or Humboldt State’s. Those who put their faith in the power of markets to improve schools must at least show how their theory can account for the stubborn persistence of the [Soviet style] thoughtworld."
Ironically, New York has embraced "market" forces in giving principals and teachers bonuses for improved scores, according to Stern.
    "While confidently putting their seal of approval on this market system, the mayor and chancellor appear to be agnostic on what actually works in the classroom. They’ve shown no interest, for example, in two decades’ worth of scientific research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health that proves that teaching phonics and phonemic awareness is crucial to getting kids to read in the early grades. They have blithely retained a fuzzy math program, Everyday Math, despite a consensus of university math professors judging it inadequate. Indeed, Bloomberg and Klein have abjured all responsibility for curriculum and instruction and placed their bets entirely on choice, markets, and accountability."
I wonder where their children attend? Stern is able to cite one success with improved test scores, and it isn't vouchers or bonuses, it's curriculum reform and better teachers; and it's in Massachusetts.

The squeaky shoe gets the boot

The current flap isn't a security breach, unless someone wants to steal the identity of Barack Obama or John McCain. But it certainly shows the problem of the vast amounts of information that can be mishandled by employees of hospitals, libraries, schools, banks, insurance companies and all manner of federal, state, county and local government sub-contractors to which we send our personal information. My personal information has been stolen about 3 times in security breaches at Ohio State University. It's always been an error of a low level, poorly trained employee. I don't even report it on that form they suggest. Why should I trust those companies any more than Ohio State? The founder of Facebook is a billionaire because he first hacked his university's student records. And look where it got him. He's not as rich as Warren Buffet, but he's only 23 and not far off.

But what idiot would use Hillary's passport information in a training session? I sure hope they fired that mental midget. That's definitely a little peon trying to act important for all the new employees. I'm sure there are folks who want Condi micromanaging this, but it sounds as though the security flags worked as they were supposed to. It's the person who reported it to WaPo we need to be concerned about.

When I was a librarian in the agriculture library in the early 80s--and that's the stone age as far as information storage and retrieval goes--one of our student assistants who was gay thought it would be funny to run up a phony circulation record of lascivious homosexual titles on the library director's record and have them sent to his office. He was the best night time supervisor we ever had, but it wasn't hard to track it back to the terminal, time and date. Kid was a genius, but not smart. Have you seen that new book on sex by Mary Roach, "Bonk"? Another wise guy, and we don't know who it was, created a catalog record for a dummy book called, "Sex life of the cockroach," and made the previous director the author. It was probably in the catalog for about 15 years before I came across it when I worked in the Veterinary Medicine Library and got suspicious. Maybe others had seen it and thought Hugh really did write about cockroaches, or just chuckled and moved on.

Some of the student employees were way ahead of the librarians at a fraction of the salary, especially on anything dealing with computers (in those days we had a dedicated system). I don't think that has changed.

So about security breaches: always look to your lowest paid, newest, youngest employee, or the old timer who never had to sign anything because they were grandmothered in before 2001 and has had a couple of slow days with nothing to do but browse.

It must be working

Ohio State University recently upgraded it's webmail--I now have a two step process to get in. This morning I had 180 spam messages instead of the usual 10. But about 20 were in Russian.

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's Spring

Do you know where your New Year's Resolutions are? I just came across my Thursday Thirteen of 13 Resolutions. I have only been able to keep two of them--#1 and #7.

1. When I see an outrageously dressed person, brown cotton eyelet full circle skirt, gray pumps and pink bandana I will turn my head or close my eyes instead of drawing a sketch.

7. When I accidentally come across Katie Couric or another gloomy news reader, I'll just change channels.

Actually, on #1, I didn't turn my head, I did stare, but I resisted sketching. and I cheated a little on #7 too. I'm watching almost no national broadcast news.

Evaluation of diaper product

Clarity needed. I saw an ad in the paper today recruiting parents for a study. For two weeks, if they pass the interview test, they will evaluate "diaper product." Is that a new name for what we called poopy pants or is the product being evaluated a diaper?

More Ohioans dying without a verb

You probably think I have too much time on my hands, but this research project goes back about 11 years. I watch the verbs in the obituaries. In the Cleveland Plain Dealer, almost no one gets out of here with a verb of any kind, but almost everyone is "beloved." In Columbus, we are more verbal. Today seven people died without a verb; 22 passed away; 12 died; one entered eternal rest; one closed her eyes; and one went home to be with the Lord. That last gal definitely had the right idea. That's the verb I want in my obituary. Here's my poem written in 1997, on my blog 3 years ago.


The clerk at Panera's told me this spells THEIRS.

Beijing's air quality

is so bad it is a risk for Olympic athletes. Those "energy" efficient, mercury containing light bulbs you're buying to save the environment? They're made in coal fired factories in China. That's your soot in their lungs.

Estrogen and Alzheimer's

Elderly women who took estrogen replacement were 50% less likely to develop AD later in life, if they took it during the critical period of 10 years after menopause. Taking the hormone later (65-79) may cause harm. WSJ 3-18-08.

Ireland 2.0

"Sixteen of the 41 U.S. presidents and 25% of U.S. citizens can trace their ancestral roots to Northern Ireland." Celtic Tiger 2.0 ad in WSJ on St. Patrick's Day.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rising food prices caused by rising gasoline costs

The cost of gasoline is going up because of our current flailing, misguided, disastrous Gore-inspired bio-energy program and the bloated USDA programs to bail out US farmers. The USDA programs are older than Al Gore, so he definitely isn't to be blamed for what his senator father might have helped put in place to protect agricultural interests (he was a tobacco farmer). Dead vegetation stored in the ground for centuries with heat and pressure becomes petroleum deposits. And we aren't running out--we're just out of common sense. Corn was hugely overproduced in 2007--no place to store it, plus it took acreage normally used for wheat and soybeans. Milk was being called "white gold" in ag circles, the price went so high. How are you helping the poor by taking milk from children?

No one knows how safe the emissions from the blended gasoline from corn or grass or wood chips will be; we only know that the trade offs are more expensive food and more expensive fuel which doesn't get as good mileage as real gasoline. Even if we had let gasoline prices float to $4 or $5 a gallon, it would have been cheaper than all the food cost increases--which are causing riots in some countries. The pizza we had Wednesday evening was $2.50 higher than a year ago; my Philly Cheese on Friday at the Bucket is $2.00 higher than a year ago. It adds up.

In my Ohio county, the cost of gasoline has gone up an average of $486 per household between 2005 and 2007, according to today's Columbus Dispatch. [I plan to fill up this morning at $3.12/gal.] That means for some people with Hummers and light trucks, it's gone up much more, and others with little Hondas and Saturns, much less. I have a 6 cyl. Dodge mini-van, which gets good mileage, so I'm probably the average. For this household, if we made smart choices, we'd change our routine Friday night date, to 40 nights instead of 52 a year. Those other 12 nights maybe we'd have friends in, instead of going out--much cheaper. That's all it would take to make up the difference. Or, we could eliminate our one glass of wine from our restaurant dinner ($13 for 2 of us counting the gratuity), and have it at home ($1.50, Charles Shaw, three buck chuck). For other families, it might mean eliminating 4 packs of cigarettes a week, or a 6 pack of beer, or a large pizza or stop going to Starbucks for a latte and going to the 7-11 instead. Maybe it would be dropping broadband or HBO. But eventually, those cut backs affect the restaurant servers, and the quick-stops, and the Starbucks staff, and then those people have to start laying off employees or reducing hours, and then they can't pay their utilities, baby-sitter, etc.

The answer, of course, is to have the discipline to save in good times--some experts say have 3 months living expenses set aside for emergencies. Never were we able to do that when our children were young (one income), but we always had a savings account to cover emergencies. Tithing your income is another good discipline--keeps you from slurping up the excess each month or hitting the mall when you have nothing to do. Also, pay your bills promptly--don't live on plastic.

Rising costs for food banks

Today's newspapers are full of stories about struggling food banks and pantries. Where to even begin on that one. The examples the reporters use are quite anecdotal--guy driving a truck to work now needs $50 a day. Lost his house. Utilities unpaid.

Food banks were set up to help farmers, not the poor. Now farmers are busting a gut and ripping out fences that provide sanctuary for birds to fill up the acreage with corn or other biofuel stuff, and there's no more surplus.
    "Ohio food banks have received less in federal aid in recent years. The decline is attributed to a sharp drop in excess agricultural commodities."

    But the farm bill isn't jammed up over debate about nutrition programs. Much of the dispute is focused on billions in government subsidies for farmers of crops such as wheat and cotton.

    [Sherrod] Brown said the subsidies are excessive and favors scaling them back by providing farmers a "safety net" during bad times. "Too many on the agricultural committee want the subsidies to continue," he said. CD story, March 20
These food banks were set up 30-40 years ago to help the poor, but in fact they functioned as a place to sell (through distributors which sold to food banks) the surplus food our farmers were growing. The government also paid farmers (called soil banks) NOT to produce. I work occasionally at a Lutheran food pantry. It is a wonderful facility, called a "choice" pantry, because the client is able to choose with the assistance of a volunteer. It has commercial freezers and refrigerators to take advantage of surplus produce, shelving for staples, seating for the clients, staff areas and offices. However, churches have made a Faustian deal--most of our members who respond to the appeals (we have a big one going on right now) don't even know that probably 95% of this is funded by the government--90% by USDA, the rest in smaller local grants, which originates with various federal agencies and is filtered down to the cities and counties. Although those of us who work there on a rotation system through various churches are volunteers, there are regular paid staff whose salaries come from the government grants. The summer lunch program our church sponsors in a suburban school district is also funded by the USDA.

I am not familiar with the restrictions about evangelizing, but I'm sure there are some if the church food pantries are doing the government's food distribution job. We used to put evangelistic literature and church magazines into the grocery bags; now it is laid out for the clients to pick up if they wish.

This blog entry is my personal opinion and does not reflect the sentiments of my fellow volunteers or church members, but I don't think what we're doing for the poor meets the Matthew 25 standards.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Interest in Rezko

There's a new website tracking only blogs and media mention of Obama and Rezko, called The site meter isn't blocked, so I took a look at it. The site went up on March 6, and is getting about 4500 page reads a day. I must be blogging the wrong topics. Referrals indicate most come from Hugh Hewitt's Townhall blog, but some are finding it via Google. A lot of interest.

Also it's tax season, and where is Hillary's returns so we can see how much Bill profits from campaign speeches for her? Why does Michelle Obama get to mention her husband's race and how important it is in this campaign (and the only good thing that's happened in her lifetime), but the topic is off limits for Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 VP Democratic candidate? I think the Obama advisors are making a mistake by trying to hush up mention of his race by anyone but his own supporters, wife, or enemies of the USA like Latin American dictators.
    "I was talking about historic candidacies and what I started off by saying (was that) if you go back to 1984 and look at my historic candidacy, which I had just talked about all these things, in 1984 if my name was Gerard Ferraro instead of Geraldine Ferraro, I would have never been chosen as a vice presidential candidate," Ferraro said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "It had nothing to do with my qualification."

    Ferraro said she has a 40-year history of opposing discrimination of all kinds, including race, and that she was outraged at criticism of her remarks by David Axelrod, Obama's chief media strategist, because he knows her and her record.(AP story)
On the other foot, the shoe hurts. Many people have been fired or forced to resign for pointing out the obvious, unless the minority is a Republican, of course.

Hell hath no fury etc.

There's a lot of free floating sympathy for Mrs. Spitzer, and none for her pompous, pimping husband, a wealthy man envious of others who earned their wealth, so he grew his fame and fat threatening and defaming them. It brings to my mind one of the episodes of "Law and Order," not all of which I remember. I think the wealthy husband who had some enemies was accused of murder--can't remember if the victim was a call girl, but prostitution was part of the story. His loyal, faithful wife stood by him through out insisting on his innocence. But in the end, it turns out she had set him up, and the final scene is a melt down and harangue in the court room as she pours out her venom as a wife not just wronged, but humiliated and tormented by his sexual perversions while she endured a loveless marriage. If Mrs. Spitzer knew her husband made special arrangements to be with a prostitute on Valentine's Day and all she got was a cheap card and a box of candy--I'm just saying--maybe she decided to blow the whistle to his enemies. Money, position and kids be damned.

I'm sure there will be more. I'm thinking up a poem just for his downfall. The news story on the front page of WSJ today was a puff piece, not unexpected since the press overlooked for so many years his other sins. You remember the drill, don't you? It's just sex. So there were shell companies. Big deal. OK, a violation of the Mann Act, and that's a felony. What's a little money laundering? Republicans are just mad because he used arm twisting threats instead of legal methods to bring CEOs down. They made too much money anyway. Selling women on the internet? Using a friend's name? Setting himself up for blackmail. What's the big deal? This has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it Hillary?

On the editorial page of WSJ Kimerbly Strassel describes how the press treated him
    "What the media never acknowledged is that somewhere along the line (say, his first day in public office) Mr. Spitzer became the big guy, the titan. He had the power to trample lives and bend the rules, while also burnishing his own political fortune. He was the one who deserved as much, if not more, scrutiny as onetime New York Stock Exchange chief Dick Grasso or former American International Group CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg.

    What makes this more embarrassing for any self-respecting journalist is that Mr. Spitzer knew all this, and played the media like a Stradivarius. He knew what sort of storyline they'd be sympathetic to, and spun it. He knew, too, that as financial journalism has become more competitive, breaking news can make a career. He doled out scoops to favored reporters, who repaid him with allegiance. News organizations that dared to criticize him were cut off. After a time, few criticized anymore."
God's plan made a hopeful beginning
But man spoiled his chances by sinning
We trust that the story
Will end in God's glory
But at present, the other side's winning
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

If your link has disappeared,

not to worry. I'm just struggling through some changes. Eventually. . . I'll get this figured out.

I much prefer coding to squeezing things into "widgets." I can't use my scroll feature; can't put my changing quote where I want it. I used so many widgets they rolled off my layout screen and I couldn't see them, although they were there. So I did it over and put all the blogrolls in one widget instead of three, two site meters in one widget instead of two, and so forth. Anyone else who changed to layout from template having that problem? Blogging used to be much easier.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The week I couldn't read

Finnish is a daunting language. In Finland, you're better off to try Swedish, their second language--at least it might sound like something you'll recognize. Here's what I wrote two years ago this July on not being able to read--I was so desperate I bought Time Magazine:
    I paid 4 euros (about $5.00) for 52 pages of Time, 19 of which were photos of the World Cup. Photos I can figure out in Finnish. Five pages were devoted to bashing the "Bush Doctrine." No mention or credit for liberating the Iraqi people from a cruel dictator; no credit for identifying North Korea within months of taking office as part of the Axis of Evil; no mention that his neo-con advisors are former Democrats; or the 500 WMD that have been found; that the Iraqi people have voted in free elections. Although Bush has always acknowledged we were in for a long battle against Islamic terrorists, when he reiterates this, the MSM seems to think it is a victory for their side.

    So what does Time recommend? Some Truman era reruns. They don't mention how extremely unpopular Truman was his second term--I think he was lower in the polls than Bush. Another article by Jos. S. Nye, Jr. pined nostalgically for the days of FDR and containment. Tell that one to the Estonians and the millions of other east Europeans who died in the Gulags waiting for the Americans to come and free them. Sixty years ago we sold out 40 million East Europeans to the USSR; let's not repeat that mistake by selling out the Iraqis.

    Even so, it was good to be able to read again.

Only the kitty died

Every year thousands of teens die in auto accidents. They get STDs and HPV; they develop obesity problems that will lead to heart attacks and diabetes; they have a soaring rate of unwed pregnancies and abortions; they start smoking and that leads to a life of misery and money going up in smoke; their musical tastes are leading them to early deafness. But let a little kitten they played with be diagnosed with rabies, and the public health departments of four states and the federal CDC launch into action. Public Health Response to a rabid kitten.

During the July 2007 South Atlantic Summer Showdown softball tournament 60 teams of 12 players each from multiple states along with families, friends, coordinators, coaches and one little kitten gathered for at least six games. The coach of the NC team took the kitty home, and then decided it was behaving abnormally, so she took it to an emergency vet, who euthanized it and held it for cremation.

Three days later the mother of one of the girls found out the fate of the kitten and she contacted the vet because she'd been bitten while trying to feed it during the tournament. The vet hadn't tested it because no one had reported any bites. The mother went to the clinic and got the dead kitten and took it in her car to her local health department for testing. About a week later the dead kitten was identified as having a raccoon variant of rabies.

Well, Mom had been around a bit by then, so she had to give her travel itinerary to the NC Div. of Public Health which then contacted the SC Dept of Health and Environmental Control and they got the team rosters and then notified Georgia and Tennessee who also had teams in the tournament and the CDC. Exposed-to-the-kitten people had to have postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), so they used e-mails, newspapers, telephone and TV to alert the public. In that process they found out there were other kittens in that litter handled by other people, plus a lot of the girl softball players had played with the first kitty. These girls were interviewed by the health department personnel, who couldn't track down all the spectators, but I think they decided they hadn't handled the kitty, just the players. Out of 38 people connected with 60 teams a possible 27 had direct exposure to that one kitty! They got the PEP test. No one got human rabies; and there were no adverse reactions to the PEP. Only the kitten got sick; only the kitty died.

Reading through this amazing chain of events, which shows how quickly health and government departments can respond to a threat, I thought that Ray Nagin of NOLA's Katrina in 2005 needed a few more mothers of softball players to put his plans in action. I'm betting a few concerned mothers could have moved those buses.

Are there more Scientologists than Lutherans in Upper Arlington?

Although I was unaware the Upper Arlington Public Library policy forbids meeting space to groups that pray during their meetings, I'm not surprised (Columbus Dispatch, March 8). The UAPL collection policy is quite hostile to both political conservatives and to conservative Christians. Although these two groups are not necessarily the same, the group that is bringing a law suit is both. For almost 30 years I was a Democrat and a conservative Christian, and before that I was a humanist, a member of First Community Church and a Democrat. One does not necessarily mean the other. By the way, any UAPL librarian that classified the 2003 film on Martin Luther with the subject heading, "Lutheran convert," is probably not up on the finer points of the faith.

The collection policy at UAPL seems to be to buy everything possible in the special interest areas of the staff (if they are liberal, progressive or Democrats) rather than select those titles which reflect the majority of the community. Remember the outrage about the gay free-circ newspapers left in the lobby of the library a few years back? With explicit sexual "guidance." The library director held her ground against concerned parents and community leaders. Although she wasn't obligated by any policy I've ever heard of to provide space and distribution for free advertising fish wrappers, she then brought them from the lobby INTO the library and had special shelving built. UAPL has a first class collection on film and theater and a jazz CD collection larger than rock or pop music. And although I'm not familiar with the size of the genre, the UAPL collection on homosexuality for young adults is large.

I'm sure liberals more often request and use titles owned by the library--conservatives by default have learned to go to bookstores, trade titles with each other, or go to their church libraries. Most people don't complain--they vote with their feet. They stay away.

Several years ago I reported in writing to the [position title unknown] staff that the most recent book on Lutherans was 40 years old. There's been a lot of water over the theological dam and numerous mergers since then. Plus, UA has three Lutheran churches, one being one of the largest in the country. They got right on it--and in a year or so, they purchased ONE book with Lutheran in the title published in the 21st century. I can't be positive it was the result of my request since I never got a response. "We've always done it this way," doesn't happen only in churches. Trust me.

But to get to my point. Imagine my surprise this morning when I saw sixteen hardcover Scientology titles on the New Book shelf at Lane Road branch, all by L. Ron Hubbard (these were not his fiction titles, but his church titles and guidebooks). If the on-line catalog weren't so difficult to use, I'd check to see if there is an equal number at Tremont Road, because the author search certainly brought up more than 16. Martin Luther, John Wesley and John Calvin have probably written 500 or more titles, and I'd make a guess that not even one unique volume in their own "Works" appears in the collection in a nice new clean edition (there is a volume or two in a Christian series).

Advent Lutheran, Trinity Lutheran and Upper Arlington Lutheran Churches can probably seat about 2,000 folks on a Sunday morning in 15 or so services. I wonder how many Scientologists the librarians could gather up to do whatever they do.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Difficult passages

In our abbreviated service this morning Pastor Paul noted that the topic of Israel had been suggested by Pastor Jeff in the planning of the series. He has since left for a new position in Minnesota, so Paul had the challenge of preaching on Israel.

But probably not quite the challenge that I Kings 14:10 presents. I found this sermon at another blog and I laughed so hard tears were rolling. But gosh, the preacher makes some good points about wimpy men.
    "Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone."

Snow aftermath

Between yesterday's blizzard and the time change, our 8:30 a.m. church service at Lytham was pretty sparse--about 25 people in the pew and 20 in the choir. Our former choir director played the piano because the organist couldn't get there; our former children's choir director organized the choir and played the hymn she selected in place of the anthem; another former children's choir director directed the choir because the choir director couldn't get in; the prayer team didn't get there, so two men from the congregation stepped into that role. They invited us all to sit up front--first 3 pews, and also had the choir up there, so really we sounded pretty good. It was a good sermon, and the Holy Spirit showed up, as he has promised. Many in our congregation live in Hilliard, Worthington and Columbus, and some areas hadn't had their streets plowed yet, or if they had, their drive-ways were covered up by the street clearing.

But if you really want to see snow, visit these photos from near Ottawa. Mr. Cloud's snow problems. We have nothing to complain about.

Good to Great

Among Democrats, 56% rate their own financial situation as good to excellent, but only 7% think the rest of us are doing OK according to a story in the week-end WSJ. Those Democrats. Don't they have just the biggest, softest hearts? It makes a great campaign issue, because perception trumps facts every time. To be fair, it isn't just Democrats. About a decade ago I remember reading a happiness survey. The people surveyed scored very high on their own satisfaction and happiness scale, but felt so badly for everyone else whom they perceived as not doing as well. Then I noticed a story about the family leave act. Most people are satisfied with the law--they like being able to use up to 12 weeks when THEY need it, but they think others are abusing it and the laws should be tightened up.

Stolen, Borrowed or Misrepresented Links

Have you ever visited a link that was recommended by a reliable site, or which appears in a Google search to match your topic, and then discovered that in some sort of weird way, its body has been taken over or occupied by an evil spirit or advertiser? Today I was looking through the caregivers links from Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas A & M--something I'd recommended years ago, but now had a broken link (error). So I thought I'd try to track it down. In the course of that search I saw a link to a bioethics site, so I clicked to it. It was just advertising: A Rolling Stones T-Shirt (for elderly rockers?), a blue collar "ethic" belt buckle, Wolfgang Puck hearty vegetable soup, Rabbit Air BioFresh Ultra-Quiet Air Purifier w/ Germicidal Protection, 1/4" Extra Thick Deluxe High Density Yoga Mat, and so forth. Not a very ethical way to do business, in my opinion.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The hype, hysteria and hopes of the new greenies

The Earth Day grows up and brings death to the Third World.

HT National Center Blog

Thinking about Mom

It's not her birthday; it's not the anniversary of her death; there's nothing going on that reminds me of her. But yesterday I wrote a blog at my church page about her. Today when I was making a dessert, I took special care to use the one little mixing bowl of hers that I have and always try to use even though it's a little small. And now by accident I've found the perfect birthday gift. A book about magazine paper dolls. I don't know why I am always surprised when someone publishes a book on a topic I know a little about, but didn't think there was enough to write a whole book. There always is, because someone collects or saves or archives that topic. How many times did I look at my grandmother's Ladies Home Journal (which went back to the 1890s) only to find the paper dolls were gone. Well, of course! My mother and her sister probably cut them out and played with them. I have a few of them. Based on the WWI uniform, I'd guess these to be 1917 or 1918. The magazines covered by this book are The Delineator, Good Housekeeping, The Housekeeper, Ladies Home Journal, Ladies World, McCall's, Pictorial Review, and Woman's Home Companion, all of which my grandmother subscribed to or purchased. Notice, there's only one outfit for the girl(s)--just guessing here, but they probably played more with the girl dolls and that's why their clothes didn't survive. The toys I have from my childhood are those I didn't use much or love to pieces.

The blizzard of '08

That's what they are calling it here in central Ohio. Those of you in Illinois, Wisconsin and northern NY would probably yawn and go back to bed, but it's a lot for us, especially since it was near 70 degrees last Monday. It's 12-14" where my husband is shoveling, and the condo crew had cleaned it all off last night by 11 p.m. Our daughter lives in a south west suburb and our son lives in a south east suburb, and they both have more than we do--but it's a good reason to talk on a Saturday morning.

I shoveled a path behind my van this morning, thinking things didn't look too bad, but once I got out on a main street, I discovered that although it had been plowed by the city crews, I couldn't see anything, nor could I turn around. So I continued driving until I got to Panera's and pulled in. I struggled up to the door only to see a sign that said, Sorry, but due to the weather, we aren't opening until 8 a.m. A staffer took pity on me and let me in, turned on the fireplace, and brought me a cup of coffee and a newspaper. Wasn't that sweet? Now that is customer service! I asked him if he'd like to be my grandson. I didn't stay long, and when I went back to my van, it took about 10 minutes to scrape and clean enough to see the road I couldn't really see. Two good things. No one but me and the snow plows were out there. Also, I'd replaced my tires in the fall--and they really came through for me.

Update: 20.4 inches in 24 hours--a new record. The old record was 15" in 1910. We had more snow in 1978, but it was over several days.

Dumbing down is not the best plan for survival

Churches who have tried to go the "seeker" route have found this; those of us on government health care have found this; the trend in entertainment to the cheaper reality shows have proved this. Maybe newspapers could have been saved.
    "I never thought I would see the day newspapers would dumb-down, but I’ve seen it. They argue they must do so to survive. I would humbly suggest they took the easy way out, instead of taking the time to rethink their role in society and create new revenue streams to reflect it. But what do I know? I just edited them, I didn’t own them." Djelloul Marbrook, text from a pod cast for journalism students

I love Google, but. . .

this plan was really dumb. High tech route to terrorism and treason.
    "The Pentagon has put the kibosh on Google Street View's access to military bases. The access restriction surfaced after a Google street mapping team took photos on the grounds of Fort Sam Houston in Texas and posted them to the site. U.S. Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, chief of the U.S. Northern Command, reportedly said the images compromised security by showing the location of guards, details about barrier operation and building portals. Google removed the images at the Department of Defense's request." Story at TechNewsWorld by Jim Offner, 3/7/08
I think that some of these companies like Facebook, AOL, Google, Yahoo, etc. who claim they are "sensitive" to privacy concerns are run by people too young to understand security--personal or national. For instance, if I wanted to, I could purchase a site tracker for my blog that could probably figure out exactly where your computer is, then what you're buying from AOL, and then through a subscription to another program where your medical records are; but there's no cost to find out what you look like, and how close the 2nd story window of your house is to an access road. I occasionally wander into a website by accident that tells me more about me and my behavior on the computer than I remember, including a comment I made on a listserv or usenet bulletin board 13 years ago and who my grandparents were! (I don't post my genealogy on the web, but others do.)

I won't even go into what I could uncover about your hospital records--I spent some time fiddling with that a few years ago and was so frightened, I just stopped. I really didn't want to know--and I was just using the limited, "free" access to find out the profit of "non-profit" hospitals. Before my husband retired (sole proprietor with me as the staff), I used our county auditor's website extensively--it saved us the time of driving to the property, taking photographs and measuring the set backs and access. What? You think criminals don't use computers?

One time I alerted our church pre-school director about how much information I could track about families of her staff in just a few minutes, using completely free things like Google mapping, on-line local newspapers, and the image feature. Most of my e-mails to the church are ignored or don't address my concerns, so I don't know if anything was done. For years I would suggest to the OSU Libraries that our SS# not be our library access number--I don't know if that has been changed, and God only knows what else it is linked to. Here's my real concern: the university runs on low paid, student labor much more knowledgeable about computers than the faculty or administrators--if it (and other universities) had to find staff that smart and at those wages, they'd have to close down (many are foreign, non-citizens, btw, and all our universities have become dependent on foreign governments to pay their tuition costs).

Just a note about Facebook--no, two notes: The creator, Mark Zuckerberg, is now 23 and has a personal worth of 3 Billion dollars, and Facebook is valued at 15 Billion, according to WSJ. He started at age 19 by illegally hacking into the university's database of student records. The second question: did either of the 2 college women whose murders have recently been saturating the cable news networks have their photos and activities on an internet social networking site, like Facebook?

Friday, March 07, 2008


Time to set a new ticker

Didn't make my goal, but I did better than last month.

We've got 4" of fresh snow on the ground and expecting much more tomorrow, so the first day or so won't be good. Will have to make it up later.

Friday Family Photo--Spring snow 1975

Today we're supposed to have 8-12" of snow dumped on central Ohio, but because Columbus sits in a trough, our weather is always iffy, and snow and rain easily go north or south, and we stand in an inch or two with cancelled activities and a lot of salt on the roads. But not in the Spring of 1975. We'd had one of those big wet early spring snows, and the kids rushed out to make a fort before it all melted.

I don't have a date on the photo, but it's between the January and Easter 1975 photos in the album. When you look at an old photo, you see a lot you hadn't thought about in years. See the fence? My husband designed, built and painted it and talked a friend into helping with the post holes on the hottest day of the year 1970--the intention was to keep our children, particularly our little, very active, very risk taking little boy where I could see them. The city planners of Upper Arlington had decided (our street was platted around 1938) huge front yards with no sidewalks and tiny back yards would make the community look pastoral. This meant we had a very long drive-way, also very difficult to shovel after a snow storm, which we also gated. You can see if you look closely that there is a gate in that fence--that was so our babysitter, Kristy Mellum, could walk through. She and her 40-something widowed mother, Ruth, and brother Bobby lived behind us. They attended Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, which I knew nothing about and had never seen because it was so well hidden in a neighborhood north of us. Someone told me that Ruth was the first woman president (chair?) of UALC's council/board. (We have been members now since 1976.) Later, all the kids who lived on Brixton Rd. used that gate to cut through. Eventually, we removed it, and new neighbors built a huge privacy fence with no gate--they had no children, nor did most families who lived in that house.

The coats the kids are wearing were in their last season. I tried to be thrifty and get 2 seasons out of winter coats which were expensive. That meant the coats were too big the first season and too small at the end of the second season. Our boy looks taller in this photo, but that's because she is bending over. They are 12 months and 3 days apart in age, and around age 13 he passed her up and has been the biggest in the family after years as the smallest.

You can't see them, but they would have been wearing over-the-shoe boots, which meant stuffing wiggly feet into plastic bags, then into the boot, all the while straddling a squirming, struggling child who was in a hurry to get outside to the snow before it melted. You also can't see the attached garage which was on the left, but around 1979 we converted it to a family room, and built a free standing garage on the other side at the end of the drive-way, further reducing the small backyard. You also can't see all the mud and water puddling on the hall and kitchen tiles after they came inside, wet and cold, ready for snack time.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thursday Thirteen--Our life in verse

You younger parents are learning as you go along that nature seems to have a lot more to do with your children's behavior than nurture. All the books you've read; all the programs you've tried; the special diets and home schooling; all your plans to mold and form the next generation. Then junior picks up a dolly and uses it like a toy gun, toys you've abolutely forbidden, or sissy wants frilly dresses, heels and make-up instead of the sweat pants, earth shoes and natural look you love to wear. We've all been through it, and in the long run they will grow up to be the person that popped out of the womb, formed by God, with personality, talents, physical appearance and intelligence all in place. So here's my verse of 12 things I think I know and then the 13th, for sure. There are more, but this is about doing 13 of something, right?

Nature vs. nurture
Our life in verse

On Abington we once did dwell
34 years my children will tell,
Where life’s events we did behold
Collecting memories now worth gold.

They said I was the mom most mean
that even our food was boring and lean.
I do admit I was often too strict,
but a few family values appeared to stick.

Smile, be pleasant and polite,
Don’t in public look a sight.
Be honest, the weaker one defend.
Work hard and don’t the rules you bend.

Use good grammar when you speak,
Go to an art show for a treat.
Take care of your parents and your pets
On everything else, I’ll hold my bets.

Luther on marriage and the parents

On February 29 I wrote about what Luther said about who was allowed to marry and what were marriage impediments. His words certainly don't have the authority of scripture, but he uses scripture in deciding questions. In another tract, probably written in 1524 he discusses the parents' role in a child's marriage.

He had pointed out that no where in Scripture is there a case where an engagement was entered into without the parents' consent, expressed or implied. He also noted that parents' didn't have the authority to forbid a child to marry, but should never force a marriage. He said that if the parents broke up two who were in love, the grief would be brief, but if they forced two who didn't love to marry, the grief would be an eternal hell and a lifetime of misery.

Luther writes that in all of Scripture "we find not a single example of two young people entering into an engagement of their own accord. Instead, it is everywhere written of the parents, "Give husbands to your daughters and wives to your sons," Jeremiah 29; and Moses says in Exodus 21, "If a father gives a wife to his son,", etc. Thus, Isaac and Jacob took wives at the behest of their parents, Genesis 24. From this the custom has spread throughout the world that weddings and the establishment of new households are celebrated publicly with festivity and rejoicing."

There are probably groups that follow this pattern today--where the parents choose or approve the mate--but I'm not familiar with them. I do hear Christians saying, "we need to have a Biblical lifestyle or world view," but I doubt they would go this far. What do churches preach and teach about marriage these days? Also, in another volume of Luther he did complain that in former times children showed more respect and obedience than today (the 1500s).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Three Word Wednesday, #76 for March 5

Today Bone has given us
to think about for 3WW. This is a true story-poem. And this could be any one of the little boys who rode their trikes past my house--I used them all. Although only one sang.

When we would meet
our boundaries were Main
and Hitt Street.
We’d ride your tricycle
twice around and back again,
over the bumpy sidewalk,
you peddling and me hanging on.
Then I would peddle
bumping my knees
and you would rest,
sometimes singing me a song.
Wasn’t life simple and sweet
when we were little on Main
and Hitt Street?

The genealogy prayer list

My prayer job jar gets a lot of hits. Here's another list I've been using recently. I participate in a genealogy listserv for the Brethren--Church of the Brethren, Brethren Church, Old German Baptist Brethren, Brethren in Christ, Dunker Brethren, etc. That group is celebrating the 300th anniversary in 2008 of its founding members rebaptizing themselves (that's what anabaptist means) and coming together as a group, first going to Holland from Germany, then on to the United States. So as I do my prayer walk I go through the list in my mind:
    Grandchild of my maternal great grandparents (Jacob and Nancy Weybright) and grandchild of my paternal great, great grandparents (James and Elizabeth Williford)--these ladies are 91 and 93, and still Brethren as were their parents, grandparents and great grandparents, and are members of the same church, although they aren't related to each other; one is my father's aunt (although born later), the other my mother's sister. Then I move on to the grandchildren of my paternal great grandparents--these are my father's siblings and their first cousins and their spouses and a few are Brethren. Then the grandchildren of my paternal grandparents who were Brethren and my maternal grandparents who were Brethren--that would be my siblings and my first cousins and spouses. And then the grandchildren of my parents--my nieces and nephews, my children and spouses. I think Dad's grandma had 12 children and Dad's mother had 9. I don't think there are any in the current generation (my parents' and their siblings' grandchildren) who are Brethren.
So by the time I work through the list, my time is about up!

Hillary takes Ohio

We had a big discussion at the coffee shop this morning. There would probably be law suits and disenfranchisement charges if we still had a Republican Secretary of State, but we don't. Obama wanted polling places kept open in those counties he had the strongest turn out--Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati--our big three. Weather got bad; ran out of some ballots, etc. He was turned down, and being as far behind as he was, I don't think anyone's brought out the legal beagles. But if it had been 50.5% to 49.5%? Probably still would have found a way to blame Republicans!

One coffee shop friend thought maybe Governor Strickland might be her choice for veep. I hadn't thought of that, but he'd be a good choice. Like Obama, he has no record on anything. He's a former Methodist minister. And he doesn't have any big city machine backing him.

When I was walking at the UALC Mill Run church I saw the polling results taped to the door, like a very long grocery receipt, signed by the election judges. Is that the law? Normally, at UALC we don't have bad door hygiene--which is a term for taping posters and notices on glass doors like they were bulletin boards. Bulletin boards cost $15; doors, thousands. So I looked at it. 305 Democrats voted, 170 Republicans, and 22 non-party. Hillary got 164 and McCain 87. Seems like a pretty poor turn out--I don't think that is a Democrat area, however, most Republicans figured it didn't pay to come out to vote, but there were other issues--like a bond.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ability to generate buzz and excitement while maintaining order

And you thought librarians were dull! That's a line from a job description for a gaming librarian. This job is in River Grove, Illinois. I didn't know kids needed a librarian to show them how to do this stuff. Actually they don't. Libraries do this for the same reasons they show movies, offer concerts, have Halloween parties, and rent gardening tools. They need bodies in the building to tick off statistics so they can get money to do the things they are supposed to do like collect, preserve and circulate information.

HT Annoyed Librarian

The Chinese tooth fairy has struck

I hate loyalty schemes--don't use coupons, sweepstakes, mileage points, or a plastic loyalty card if I can help it. Staples has the only loyalty card worth bothering with--you actually can get their products or $$ off your next purchase at the copy shop. But somehow, my husband has a rewards scheme attached to his gasoline purchases. One day I found a small box under a bush in the yard--apparently it was intended for the mail box, but didn't quite get there. I forget what was in it--something really tacky in bright paper. Then a few more things started arriving like a lighted magnifying glass that doesn't even work as well as my 2003 eye glasses and a bulky 100% PVC credit card holder and wallet with a handy dandy calculator inside. All made in China. All trinkets useful only for today's consumer who thinks that we need to be rewarded for shopping. But today's prize. Well, it's really special. A genuine Orbiter Hands Free Can Opener.

Cooking hint: I was preparing a roast for supper, and ladies, pour cream of mushroom soup over a roast and it will be wonderfully tender with lots of gravy and no lumps, 2 hours at 325. So I decided to open the can with my new Orbiter. I put that baby down on the can and pressed the button. Nothing. Pressed it again. Nothing. Then again and WOW it just took off. I removed my hand (was afraid it'd get eaten) and it worked all by itself. In fact, it wouldn't quit. Around and around. I could see parts of the can we're being cut off. I picked it up and pulled it off the can, but that little sucker just kept on working, around and around, mushroom soup going everywhere. I grabbed it and punched the button on the underside, but it kept going. So I just put it down and watched it struggle, gasping, until it finally stopped.

The instructions with Orbiter say to prevent food borne illnesses I need to clean the blade after each use, and never with a solvent or detergent. But I should remove the batteries first. Then following the enclosed diagram I can remove the blade and clean it with a slightly damp cloth, dry it and replace the blade door. Now, I shouldn't leave it in sunlight, or in a hot humid place, nor should I immerse it in water or other liquids. When I'm done using it, I should remove the batteries, if it will be awhile. But I'm to keep the batteries away from children because they might swallow them. The instructions are also in Spanish and French.

I've been using the same hand-held can opener for about 30 years. Seems to work OK and occasionally I clean it when it gets really gunky. I don't think it is in any danger from this sleek, younger model.

Pieces of string too short to use

There's a story, apocryphal most likely, that when cleaning out the home of an elderly deceased woman, her family found a large ball of string labelled, "pieces of string too short to use." So here's a few pieces too short to use:

1. Hillary's "shared prosperity" theme. I doubt that she will share hers.

2. If you're overweight, are you wasting energy fretting about the chemicals in your dry cleaning? Which is more likely to hurt you over the long run?

3. The decline of the angry left? I think they are just keeping them under wraps for this campaign so they don't get a repeat of 2004.

4. Would you want your address to be on "Landfill Road." I saw one. Still, we have a Cemetery Rd nearby.

5. Google makes bundles of money for the government (taxed profits, taxed wages, taxed businesses that advertise there, taxes on new businesses that have developed) and libraries take money from the government. But Google has revolutionized how people seek, store and use information.

6. Why do the AFT and NEA hate vouchers and school choice? Why wouldn't teachers' unions want children to have the best that's out there?

7. Men trade 45% more than women when investing in stock.

8. Women pull ahead in the longevity race around age 13. At birth, the boys are numerically way ahead. God must have known. . . about risk. See #7.

9. Hundreds of thousands of sexual predators are at-large within the U.S., and law enforcement has the evidence to locate, arrest and prosecute them, but officials estimate they are able to investigate less than 2 percent of known child exploitation offenders, due to lack of resources, primarily personnel.

10. Unionized cleaning people in NYC make $20+/hour with full benefits. Think of that the next time you feel undervalued when you clean.

11. Didn't I tell you? "It's a lying, cheating, dirty business," says
Chris Balsiger who ran the nation's biggest clearinghouse of discount coupons redeemed by consumers at supermarkets.

12. John Erickson, chairman of Erickson Retirement Communities and developer of continuing care communities, is investing in Retirement Living TV, a cable network.

13. Charles Barkley, the basketball player, believes that people who express beliefs on behavior and life style different than what he believes are being judgemental, but he isn't. Must go with the name "Chuck."

14. Socially conscious Vermonters are willing to emit carbon to drive to tax-free New Hampshire to buy at WalMart and other big box stores. Same with the folks in Santa Cruz, CA who keep WalMart, Costco and Target out of their city, and raise local prices.

15. In Massachusetts, people with high deductible health insurance were forced to switch to more expensive policies to meet the state requirements.

16. Save a life. Donate to a Pregnancy Health Center.

17. Patients who go into cardiac arrest while in the hospital are more likely to die if it occurs after 11 p.m.

18. HIPAA is hopeless. I called the pharmacy to get a printout of our prescription costs. They would mail our records to me, but if I picked them up, I had to bring my husband and ID.

19. Reed Elsevier buys Choice Point Inc., the largest seller of personal data, and is selling its trade magazine division, including Publisher's Weekly. What must privacy conscious librarians think?

20. How many women control anything in Hollywood? I'm guessing it is far less than in the board rooms of conservative businesses.

21. Government affirmative action programs haven't given women and minorities a long term boost. They are hired and held hostage in HR positions or promoted to positions to fill quotas they weren't qualified for and then can't move forward on merit.

22. Bailing out by the government of those facing foreclosure will just postpone the agony--especially if they had poor credit, no savings, and spent beyond their means before applying for a subprime loan. Not everyone should be a home owner.

23. Airlines are not hospitals. The relatives of an obese woman, 44 years old, with heart disease and diabetes who was treated within minutes by staff and passengers who were doctors using oxygen and defibrillators, are suing the airlines. No one wins but the lawyers.

24. Daylight Savings Time actually uses more energy, according to a recent study based on Indiana's experience.

25. Unclaimed tax refunds from the IRS totaled 2.2 billion for 2003. Too late now.

26. 84% of Americans believe that cheating on your taxes even a little is unacceptable. Isn't that about the same as the number who believe in God?

27. I saw an ad selling an Ethics/Faith Company reporting the original investors made 700% return on their investment. Does that sound ethical to you?

28. The Turkish Airlines is looking for someone to supply them with jet fuel. Submit your bid by March 11.

29. Michelle Obama had some nice educational advantages, but most importantly, she had what divides the rich and middle class African Americans from the poor. Married parents and a strong nuclear family. 70% of black children do not have a father in the home.

30. Just in time for Hillary's election campaign, Bill has apologized to the black community for rejecting the 1995 Commission on Sentencing recommendation that the 100:1 disparity for drug sentencing for crack and powder cocaine be removed. This is probably the #1 reason there are so many black men in prison--see #29.