Sunday, February 29, 2004

242 Waiting, waiting

We have an offer out on a house. We're waiting, waiting. Positive there will be a counter-offer. Then more waiting. Excitement is building.

Update: It is ours. We offered. She counter-offered. We countered her counter-offer. She accepted our counter-counter offer.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

241 Where did it go? A question for these years.

"What ever happened to the passion we all had to improve ourselves, live up to our potential, leave a mark on the world?" Crossing to safety by Wallace Stegner

Friday, February 27, 2004

240 Voting Rights and Copyright blogs

When I was employed as a librarian, copyright law was always terribly confusing. Putting things on "closed reserve" was always a big issue--were we violating the law? I know I attended many workshops over the years on this topic.

Among my links I have an Ohio State law professor, Edward Lee, who seems to write frequently on this topic but is young enough to care about computer gaming and downloading music (I don't). On his website he has posted his most recent journal article (120 pages) on The Public's Domain: The Evolution of Legal Restraints on the Government's Power to Control Public Access Through Secrecy or Intellectual Property also an important issue for librarians.

Now he has convinced a colleague, Dan Tokaji, to blog in his specialty area of voting rights, especially as it is affected by technology. Equal Vote. After the controversy of hanging chads in 2000, I don't see electronic voting solving much--with no paper trail, but this blog will be enlightening. Are there computers that can't be hacked, compromised or that won't melt down when you need them most? Today's entry is on The Impact of the Holt Bill on Disability Access.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

239 Ire and angst

“Much of the speech was forward-looking. It sought to position Mr. Bush as optimistic and steady in the face of serious challenges to the country and relentless attacks by Democrats who, he said, have failed to say how they would deal with the challenges the United States faces at home and abroad.”

That’s about the only accurate paragraph in the New York Times reportage of President Bush’s speech at a Monday night fundraiser. The reporter, who apparently didn’t hear the same speech the rest did, called it an “attack,” “an assault,” “mocking,” “biting” and an “indirect slap” when he said he wouldn’t “outsource” the military. I can even overlook “it sought to position Mr. Bush” rather than simply saying, “President Bush was optimistic and steady. . .”

What the reporter called “mocking” was a very gentle poke at Kerry done with a twinkle in his eye. He didn’t scream like an Al Gore imitating Howard Dean or whine with a sigh like a John Kerry. And he got a good laugh. George Bush is hardly a spell binding speaker, so a little levity makes it easier to listen.

The reporter, Richard Stevenson, did not editorialize, analyze or exaggerate Kerry’s speech against Bush on the same day which he inserted into the coverage of Bush‘s speech. No, he chose instead the word “said” three times. “In an appearance in New York, the Massachusetts Democrat said he had Mr. Bush "on the run" even before Democrats settled for certain on their nominee. He said the president had failed on the economy, had pursued a "reckless" foreign policy and was practicing "crony capitalism and crony government." . . .In a statement issued after Mr. Bush's speech, Mr. Kerry said: "George Bush's credibility is running out with the American people. They want change in America and I'm running because I am determined to bring that change and put America back on track." "

It’s pointless to remind readers again about the NYT partisan position, but I do wish in general reporting this early in the campaign, its columnists would make a bit more effort to control their ire and angst.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

238 Keep your friends

The Columbus Dispatch columnist Mike Harden featured a touching and inspiring story yesterday (Feb. 24) about Georgia Griffith, a woman who was born blind, developed all her hearing talents to become a degreed musician, and then lost her hearing at age 38. My grandmother was blind and I know that in her 80s as she began losing her hearing, she believed being deaf was a greater handicap than being blind because it interferred with communication.

Georgia is so busy at her computer helping others and making friends, she hardly has time to sleep. Many years ago she became a proof reader of Braille music for the Library of Congress. Later she was hired by Compuserv to develop a handicapped users' database and to facilitate Internet forums. She routinely trades e-mail with 200 friends world wide.

About the ubiquitous spam she says: You'll never guess what they want me to do now!" About friendship she says: "If I was given the opportunity to exchange my friends for the gift of sight, I would keep my friends."

The free link to this article is through the Sacramento Bee.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

237 I don't, I won't

A few days back I blogged at 225 that perhaps not all gays were thinking marriage is what they would do, and in the Feb. 20 issue of San Francisco Chronicle, I read:
""Marriage is not something that I feel I need to have for my relationship to be spiritually or emotionally complete," said Rebecca Rolfe, 42, deputy executive director at the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center. "Essentially, I've been a longtime feminist and lesbian and have grown up having a lot of criticism of the institution of marriage. I've not necessarily seen it as a institution that benefits women or people in relationships."

Others were more pragmatic about the decision to opt out, citing the rather ominous words at the top of the marriage license application: "By entering into marriage, you may lose some or all of the rights, protections and benefits you enjoy as a domestic partner."

Monday, February 23, 2004

236 Washington's Farewell Address

It is a tradition to read Washington's Farewell Address in the Senate Chamber, and in 2004 Senator John Breaux of Louisiana delivered the address. After the reading, Senator Breaux signed his name in the Washington Farewell Address Book. [This was all stated in the future tense at the government website, so I'm assuming it took place.]

It is a long address--35 pages in pdf text--because it was printed and published in newspapers, and not read aloud. There were no political parties then, but sectional interests were a big concern. Washington noted the following as important to political vitality and strength:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.

The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

235 Jobs aren't the only things going overseas

The New York Times Sunday reported on how the jobs we’re shipping overseas are changing long held traditions. [In India] . . . caste, religion and other age-old Indian social divisions are being shaken. Empowered by an ample paycheck, often from big American companies like American Express and America Online, some Indian workers are living lavishly on credit cards, and their open-mindedness is breaking conventions about dating.” Full story here.

Young women in their 20s are not living with their parents, they are moving to the city and renting apartments, are working nights so that they can connect with their American customers thus becoming cut off from their own peer group, are not wearing traditional clothing, are drinking alcohol, wearing make-up and creating a role reversal by sending home money for their parents, who aren’t earning as much as their children.

They are becoming more materialistic, and settling for live-in relationships rather than marriage. “Many of these young Indians deal with car insurance but may never own a car; book hotel suites that cost nearly as much as their annual pay; and chat about pretzels, snow and baseball, which they have never tasted, seen or experienced.”

Sunday, February 22, 2004

234 Blogging terms

Samizdat in Russian means self-published and before the fall of the Soviet Union, it was an important outlet for literature, usually not approved by the government. Blogs are self-publishing and come in many sizes and shapes. A blog called Samizdata has a long list of blog terms, with a site to the original use, just like the Oxford Dictionary would do:
  • clog blog--a Dutch blog
  • froglog--francophone blog
  • idiotarian--advocate of irrational and subjective values--usually a socialist, but could be paleo-libertarian or paleo-conservative
  • kittyblogger--one who blogs about cats or other mundane topics
  • progblog--left wing blog
  • The list is long, but fun to read. This isn't the only blogging glossary on the net, but it is well organized with cites and quotes. self describes itself as:"The Samizdata people are a bunch of sinister and heavily armed globalist illuminati who seek to infect the entire world with the values of personal liberty and several property. Amongst our many crimes is a sense of humour and the intermittent use of British spelling.

    We are also a varied group made up of social individualists, libertarians, extropians, futurists, 'Porcupines', Karl Popper fetishists, recovering neo-conservatives, crazed Ayn Rand worshipers, over-caffeinated Virginia Postrel devotees, witty Frédéric Bastiat wannabes, cypherpunks, minarchists, kritarchists and wild-eyed anarcho-capitalists from Britain, North America, Australia and Europe.

    You can use their glossary to look up some of the self-describing terms.

    Saturday, February 21, 2004

    233 Dean's lasting influence on the Democrats

    Although Howard Dean has withdrawn from the race, an editorial in the Wall Street on February 19 notes that his influence on the other candidates has been huge. He erased all the moderate gains the Democrats had made under Bill Clinton and has pulled the party further to the left.
    “On the war on terror, he has almost single-handedly pulled his party to the antiwar left. As he often said on the stump, his main competitors all voted for the Iraq war. But as Mr. Dean climbed in the polls by denouncing the war, he made opposition to it a party litmus test. Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, who had voted for the war in late 2002, opposed the $87 billion to finish the job a year later. The candidates who stayed honorably hawkish--Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman--went down to defeat.

    Mr. Dean was the first candidate to call for repealing all of the Bush tax cuts. Soon every Democrat was for raising taxes in some substantial way. Senators Edwards and Kerry now assail the Patriot Act they voted for, again following Mr. Dean. They also attack the education reform they voted for, in another Dean echo. Imitation is the sincerest form of politics.”
    Two days ago, I heard one commentator say that if all the Dean supporters threw their support to Edwards, they would defeat Kerry. I don’t see such a move afoot at this time, do you?

    However, Scrappleface had an interesting comment for Democrats to consider: "When you look at the two top vote getters -- Kerry and Edwards -- the question becomes 'who would you rather look at for the next eight months, or eight years?'" said an unnamed Democrat strategist. "On the issues, the candidates are mirror images of each other. But the more voters take a good look at John Kerry, the better John Edwards appears."

    Victor Davis Hanson, as always cool and calm and incredibly in touch with history, commented on Feb. 20 :
    “There were a number of legitimate areas of debate for the fall campaign — deficits, unfunded security measures at home, moral scrutiny over postwar contracts, more help for Afghanistan, greater control of domestic entitlements, unworkable immigration proposals, and the like. But instead of statesmanship from the opposition, we got slander about Mr. Bush's National Guard service, misrepresentations about intelligence failures that had hampered both previous administrations and the present congress, preference for an unsupportable European position over our own, and stupidity about what to do in Iraq.

    232 Tomeboy responds to Fairly Traded article, #230

    Your story re: Fair Trade Terms and Labels raises some very interesting issues. I've learned, though I am not a scientist, that much of the rhetoric about "eco-friendly/organic food" is simply not based on any scientific data.

    Labels are another huge issue with food. The label "organic" can still be used if pesticide/herbicide was used in its production. Confusion is also used deliberately to mislead consumers, a recent case being a dairy farmer in Maine that produces "hormone free milk". Of course this is untrue, all milk has hormones. I believe in the "organics" right to market their products, however I am concerned that scare tactics are now a part of their marketing strategy.

    The comment I had with your piece was the conditions of workers regarding organic farming. Organic farming requires much more labor intensive than traditional farming with pesticides/herbicides. Many organic farms have seen their market share grow, and have expanded operations and land because of organics lower yield. Of course, more labor is needed which usually comes in the variety of migrants with very poor pay. Many are illegal aliens to boot. There we have the conundrum of what truly is a socially responsible food product.

    IMHO, it's ironic that genetically modified foods may serve as the best way to protect the environment and lives. Less tillage, less chemical, better yield, less land used, less fossil fuel guzzling tractors, etc... And contrary to what our European cousins may say, there is no scientific evidence that gmo foods are dangerous to consume. Nor are they an environmental hazard as well compared to traditional farming methods. Americans have been eating gmo's for 7 years.

    You can check out his other thoughts and writings at his webpage:

    Friday, February 20, 2004

    231 The wealthiest presidents

    I heard on the radio yesterday, and I think the source was Forbes, but I'll have to check on that, if John F. Kerry becomes President of the United States, he will be one of the five wealthiest men ever to hold the office--in fact, he'd be third. George Washington was the wealthiest (adjusted for inflation). Counting Kerry, the other four are . . . Democrats. Found it.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    230 Fair Trade Terms and Labels

    On December 3, 2003, #118 I wrote about my home congregation in Illinois serving "fairly traded coffee" during the Sunday social time and for church events. I'd read about it in the church newsletter.

    The Wall Street Journal February 17 had a chart about food labels for socially conscious buyers. As it turns out, "fairly traded" doesn't mean much at all, and is the weakest of the seven terms. "Sustainable" is another term that has no specific guarantee, and is quite general. The most specific term seems to be "fair trade certified" and it means that it complies with some environmental standards and that there are guaranteed prices for the workers.

    "Rainforest Alliance Certified" is a licensed term of a non-profit dedicated to protecting biodiversity--but nothing about protecting the worker. "Certified sustainable" is a term used by various non-profits, and may indicate that a whole community benefits.

    "Local" is an unofficial term and could mean a product is made or grown near-by, but that could be 15 miles or 1,000 miles. "Slow food snail" is a guide to indicate that traditional food practices are used, but that doesn't mean the employees benefit.

    Obviously, terms like "family farm" and "sustainable" and "fair trade" have customer appeal for the socially conscious. Unfortunately, they just don't mean much. Get ahold of the chart and watch for the more specific terms if the environment, worker's conditions and pay, and bio-diversity matter to you.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004

    229 Eugene McCarthy and the election of 2004

    "Does history repeat itself? Yes—sort of. Our Book of the Week is Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism, by Dominic Sandbrook (Knopf). Reviewer Jeremy Lott finds some surprising parallels to the 2004 presidential campaign—and some notable twists as well."

    "If liberalism is simply a political movement, joined at the hip to the Democratic Party, the ironists have a point. But if it is a broader political and sociological phenomenon, then LBJ dropping out of the race and Humphrey losing narrowly to Nixon hardly mattered. Once in office, Nixon gave the country affirmative action, a bender of an inflationary monetary policy, wage and price controls, and a fondness for new government initiatives that wouldn't be rivaled again until the second Bush administration."

    In other words, the reviewer is saying liberalism has prevailed regardless of which party has been in the presidency. Full review at Books and Culture.

    Monday, February 16, 2004

    228 ABK--Anybody but Kerry?

    “There are, clear across the country, people who sincerely cannot stand the policies or the personality of the president. When they say "ABB" (Anybody but Bush) they say it as if they really mean it. But there are limits, and Mr. Dean managed to find them in only a few weeks of cocky, half-baked and spendthrift posturing. This is not a time when the United States can afford even to flirt with the idea of an insecure narcissist and vain windbag as president. It's good to know that many liberals and leftists recognize that fact and act upon it, even when it costs them something.” Christopher Hitchens, Feb. 11, 2004.

    I think it a bit early to say Dean is down and out, or that Edwards is done, however, it’s not too early to raise serious concerns about John Kerry. He flip flops his way through Senate votes and now there is another intern story. This man let down his fellow soldiers ala Jane Fonda, and there are still veterans groups who haven’t forgiven her. According to VietNam Veterans Against John Kerry:

    “Soon after Kerry, as a Navy Lieutenant (junior grade) commanding a Swift boat in Vietnam, was awarded the Silver Star, he used an obscure Navy regulation to leave Vietnam and his crew before completing his tour of duty. After returning home, he quit the Navy early and changed the color of his politics to become a leader of VietNam Veterans Against the War. Kerry wasted no time organizing opposition in the United States against the efforts of his former buddies still ducking communist bullets back in Vietnam.”

    In their ABB attitude, Democrats are doing all they can to denigrate Bush’s war time service even though in 1992 they (including Kerry) said all that should be behind us (because of Clinton’s exemption and leaving the country). The media bought into the story and repeated it, but now the detractors have been completely discredited including the retired general who is apparently in the early stages of Alzheimer's and isn't remembering much of anything correctly. The other is a left wing wacko who has been writing anti-Bush stories long before he came up with this one.

    Bush has co-opted so many of the favorite domestic issues that Democrats usually count on like education, immigration and environment, which leaves only the war--and that is winding down with the possibility of a representative government in Iraq.

    Ralph Nadar gave the 2000 election to Bush, and Ross Perot gave the 1992 election to Clinton. Will disaffected Republicans who dislike Bush’s wild spending on bigger and more intrusive government sit this one out, thus handing it to the Democrats?

    227 You might be addicted to genealogy if. . .

    I saw the following on RootsWeb Review and got a chuckle. Actually, I am related to Blythe Danner, who is a descendant of my Danner ancestors. I’m not sure I have MORE photos of dead relatives than living ones, but I have a lot--and a lot of people I can’t positively identify. Keeping track of the Wengers is a huge problem, but fortunately someone else is doing that, has it on the web and also sells it on a CD and book.
    You might be addicted to genealogy if:

    --You can't drive past a graveyard without wondering if you have any ancestors buried there.

    --You introduce your granddaughter as your descendant.

    --You can recite your lineage back 10 generations, but can't remember your nephew's name.

    --You have more photographs of dead people than living ones.

    --You watch the movie/TV credits roll by to see if any of the surnames are ones you are researching.
    [Permission to reprint articles from RootsWeb Review is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, provided: (1) the reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; and (2) the following notice appears at the end of the article: Previously published in RootsWeb Review: Vol. 7, No. 6, 11 February 2004.]

    Sunday, February 15, 2004

    226 Let's play hide the reference

    The NY Times is reporting that "Texas, generally considered the leading death penalty state, actually sentences a smaller percentage of people convicted of murder to death than the national average, according to a new study. It found that the conventional view failed to take into account the large number of murders in Texas."

    Librarians who want to send patrons to "the study" will need to find Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, vol.1,no.1, and the authors are Theodore Eisenberg, John Blume and Martin Wells. Still, it would be nice if newspaper articles made citations easier to find, rather than parsing them out into different paragraphs. I can dream, can't I?

    Saturday, February 14, 2004

    225 Same sex households

    According to the census 2000, 1.6% of all households are same sex couples, 4.5% are unmarried opposite sex couple households, 25.8% of households are one-person, and 52.8% of households are married couples. There's a smattering of households of blood relatives, not married, and a few "other." I'm a little puzzled that there is such a noisy clamor for gays to marry, if they apparently aren't even living together now supporting each other with joint bank accounts, joint mortgages and wills designating each other beneficiaries, unless there just aren't very many gay and lesbian couples. And how many of those 1.6% even want to marry? Has anyone polled the group to see who is fine with the status quo? Has there been a count of those who enjoy the lack of ties and responsibilities, who don't want to share their wealth, who want to move on when life gets dull?

    Friday, February 13, 2004

    224 Fire Destroys School in my Home Town

    "A fire that gutted David L. Rahn Elementary School has left staff and students without a building but with intentions to resume classes next week.

    Clouds of brown and black smoke billowed from the school for most of Thursday, engulfing the town of about 3,000 people. More than a dozen fire departments, some from as far away as Rockton, Lena and Dixon, worked in freezing conditions to battle the blaze, which was still burning 12 hours after the first alarm.
    " Story in Rockford Starand Photos and story WTVO

    E-mail flew around the country as alumni heard almost as soon as town residents what happened. One wrote: "The call went out to almost 50 communities for help, and they showed up. Tanker after tanker bringing in water. If you can believe this, there is hardly any water at that end of town. A huge school and church at that end and no water. They were filling up at Kable Printing and then bringing the water to the school where it was dumped into a swimming pool-like container. The smoke and flames were unbelievable. They just did a million plus renovation and up to code repairs last year. All 300 kids got out, no coats, book bags, some lost shoes in the snow. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are at the church and donations are being accepted. One family had six children in the school, and they lost everything."

    Another said: "So thankful no lives were lost. But simply can not imagine how no one smelled smoke or was alerted that something was terribly wrong. I am so sad for so many people but have my own fond memories of teaching at that beautiful school. It still seems like a dream and hard to believe.

    I didn't attend school in this facility built in the late 1960s, in fact, I'd never been inside. The teacher/principal for whom it was named was one of my 7th-8th grade teachers.

    The building I attended as a freshman in high school burned in 1992 and was destroyed, although it wasn't being used then as a school. On Easter Sunday 1931, the town college had a disastrous fire when my parents were freshmen, and it closed in 1932. In 1912, the college had experienced another terrible fire in "Old Sandstone," but that time had rebuilt.

    Since the 1960s, many children have passed through that school, so perhaps O.D. Buck who wrote a poem in 1912 [Memories of Old Sandstone, 1912] about that fire won't mind if I mention a verse or two:
    Old home of scores of sturdy sons,
    Farewell, thy work is o'er.
    We who have dwelt within thy walls,
    Thy parting do deplore,

    Thy mission thou hast nobly filled,
    Thy influence--who can tell?
    Oh, that thou of us could say,
    "My children have done well."

    223 Man sentenced for killing a fetus

    Today’s Columbus Dispatch reported “[a Columbus man] was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his part in the premature birth and subsequent death of a girl.” Aggravated murder charges were reduced to felonious assault and involuntary manslaughter according to the report. He struck a seven months pregnant woman with a pipe when she intervened to stop a fight between him and her husband.

    It still seems odd--no bizarre--that in a clinic with a licensed doctor causing the interruption of the child’s life support system in the mother, the little girl’s death would have been legal and no one would have been charged anything, except for an invoice for services.

    The couple’s first child, a son, had died of SIDS the year before.

    Thursday, February 12, 2004

    222 Clues on when children can enjoy theater

    I saw an article about this topic in the paper about a week ago. It put me to thinking--is it really so hard to prepare children to enjoy theater? I’ve never been a huge fan of live theater, but only because of 1) the price, and 2) I fall asleep soon after the lights are dimmed. But I was exposed to "live theater" as a child, and have many happy memories of it.

    When I was in elementary school, grades 1-12 were in one building. We little ones watched as the upper classmen from the high school roamed the halls to pass classes. We would be literally awe struck. They looked so fashionable, busy and important. So you can imagine our excitement when it was time for the junior or senior play and the entire school went to the auditorium for “previews.” We would whisper the names of the lofty seniors we could recognize in their stage make-up and costuming. They were like movie stars to us and we were their giggling fan club. Even in the previews, I became completely caught up in the story.

    We were also encouraged to be performers. There was a musical put on, in the Spring I think, which included all the schools that our roving band director taught in. I can still remember bits and snatches of amazing (in my mind) performances as I sat in the audience--too young to be included (I think 4th grade and up were in these productions). But one year I was a Dutch girl dancer and my partner was a boy in 7th or 8th grade. My mother made the costume including cardboard “wooden shoes.”

    After I changed schools, one of my classmates in 7th grade wrote plays, and our teacher was benign enough to allow the class to perform them. I recall that attending the class plays in high school was an important community event. I was in the junior class play, “Time out for Ginger,” and played the sensible mother with gray hair.

    Churches also had children’s plays, something I’ve missed at our current church which has wonderful productions FOR children, but the children are the audience. We had wonderful little plays with lines to recite and usually the pastor’s wife was the director and producer, and maybe she wrote them too.

    At home to amuse ourselves, we’d get out the Bible drama books from my mother’s childhood and try to put on plays on rainy days. These were never very successful, but they did fill the time by dragging out sheets for costumes and blankets to create a stage. My friends and I would also create potato puppets and costumes and make up stories for them to perform--although I’m not sure who the audience would have been--perhaps Mother, or my younger brother.

    This week our local high school is performing “Annie Get your Gun.” For the parents and little children in the audience, I know it will be great fun. And especially if they know or recognize someone in the cast.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004

    221 New poem

    Today is writing class and I haven't done the assignment, although I blogged about it two weeks ago. The teacher is very sweet and non-directive, but I don't think it is what she had in mind. However, I did write two poems this week, and I haven't done any poetry for some time. This one is based on a mistake. I collect premier issues of magazines and bought three on January 8, but forgot to look at them. While cleaning my office, I found the sack, and since I'd rather read than clean, I started to look at them. The sales slip floated to the floor and the verso from a distance looked like a poem. I then not only stopped cleaning, but I stopped reading, and sat down and wrote the following poem.
    New and unread books and unopened music--a poem
    by Norma J. Bruce
    Feb. 8, 2004

    A slip of white paper
    floated from the sack
    as I was cleaning my office.
    With my no-line trifocals
    it seemed a poem at my feet
    so I lifted it to my eyes.

    Full refund issued
    new and unread
    books and unopened music

    within 30 days
    with a receipt from
    any Barnes & Noble store.

    Store credit issued
    new and unread
    books and unopened music

    after 30 days
    or without a sales receipt.
    Credit issued at lowest sale price.

    We gladly accept returns
    new and unread
    books and unopened music

    from with a receipt
    for store credit
    at the price.

    Why am I cleaning
    new and unread
    books and unopened music

    are sitting for 30 days
    and have no sales receipt.
    I must go read!

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    220 The value of a college education--in dollars

    What is a college education (BA or BS) really worth in dollars? This site says the average college graduate will earn about $600,000 over and above what the average high school graduate will earn.

    I thought I would die of a broken heart when BOTH my children decided not to go to college--actually, refused is a better word. I was the third generation in my family to go to college--and I was on the faculty at a fine university. OK, I thought. A few years in the market place and they'll come around. Didn't happen. So we spent the college money on a summer cottage--no kidding--and eventually they'll reap the benefits of that since it has appreciated from $53,000 in 1988 to about $200,000 according to our latest tax assessment.

    But here's the what if. . . Say we had invested $20,000 (the cost in the mid-80s of a state university education) in the stock market for 45 years, until their retirement age. Would they have that $600,000 to cushion their golden years? No, they'd have $1,604,000 using the conservative figure that over time, stock investments level out at about 10% a year, even factoring in the wild ride of the 90s.

    Both of our adult children earn an income of the average college graduate or slightly more. They love their jobs and feel fulfilled and satisfied. The one who liked school the least and did the poorest, has actually completed two college level courses and done extremely well--but that accomplishment didn't inspire further interest in education. The other assists with continuing education in teaching people with 10-12 years more formal education and 6 figure incomes and will be off to San Antonio today for such a workshop.

    Go figure. A mother who was wrong and admits it!

    Monday, February 09, 2004

    219 Hanson on WMD

    In Victor Davis Hanson’s Feb. 6 article he notes,
    “Whether we like it or not, the precedent that the United Sates might act decisively against regimes that were both suspected of pursuing WMD acquisition and doing nothing to allay those fears, has had a powerful prophylactic effect in the neighborhood. Only in this Orwellian election year, would candidates for the presidency decry that the war had nothing to do with the dilemma of WMDs — even as Libya, Iran, and Pakistan by their very actions apparently disagreed.”
    And if you don’t agree with him on that one, you’ll probably not quibble too much with his final paragraph about where the news coverage emphasis is,
    “The real outrage is instead that at a time of one of most important developments of the last half-century, when this country is waging a war to the death against radical Islamic fascism and attempting to bring democracy to an autocratic wasteland, we hear instead daily about some mythical rogue CIA agent who supposedly faked evidence, Martha Stewart's courtroom shoes, Michael Jackson's purported perversion, and Scott Peterson's most recent alibi. Amazing.”
    I don’t know why he left out Janet Jackson--balance, maybe.

    Sunday, February 08, 2004

    218 Unemployment

    In January 1995 the unemployment rate was 5.7. In January 2004 the unemployment rate is 5.6. How does “jobs” become the big issue of the election unless someone lies? The Bush Hating websites are typing themselves in fiscal knots to leave the good news to the very last paragraph.

    Bureau of Labor Statistics Check out the current and historical statistics yourself.

    If you hate Bush, you’ll find nothing good here--you’ll point out the people who have stopped looking or the lack of “new” jobs. People have always dropped out of the job search, that’s not new. And if you are out of work, unemployment is 100%, not 5.6 or down from December.

    Saturday, February 07, 2004

    217 Maurice Clarett has taken over our news

    Columbus, Ohio is a football crazy town--or rather Buckeye crazy. So the Maurice Clarett story has even pushed Janet Jackson's breast off the local news radar. I have no opinions one way or the other since I don't follow sports, but Easterblogg for Feb. 6 has some good things to say:
    Judges don't order airlines to allow 19-year-olds at the controls, even though age and experience rules clearly place restraints on the bargaining power of 19-year-old aspiring pilots. But then--judges fly on planes, so they don't want them to crash. Federal judge Shira Scheindlin, who yesterday ordered the NFL draft open to anyone regardless of age, knows that if the NFL crashes that won't affect her.
    He continues with an explanation of how the quality of play in the NBA has fallen since it began admitting teen-agers, kids who won't listen to coaches and don't know the fundamentals. NFL will appeal, of course. Greg goes on to describe the Maurice we've all come to know here in Columbus.
    As for Maurice Clarett himself--if you were an NFL coach, would you draft this jerk? He hasn't played in more than a year. He's a me-first head-case who spends all his time demanding special privileges; now he's surrounded by a retinue of assorted hucksters demanding that they be paid off; at Ohio State they wanted him to leave because Clarett's selfishness had such a corrosive effect on team chemistry. Now, lots of kids fresh from high school are me-first and immature, and gradually grow out of it.
    Sure, Greg, but usually Mama can keep them in line. Poor Maurice seems to have a mom who is part of the problem.

    216 Girl with the Pearl Earring

    I've been keeping a list of movies in my notebook that look worth seeing--when they come to the $1.00 theater ($.50 on Thursday, I think). However, the list is getting so long I realized I would miss some of them because quality doesn't always get to the second run theaters.

    My list and rating number (out of 4) by the Columbus Dispatch includes: Calendar girls (3), Mona Lisa Smile (3), Cold Mountain (3.5), Something's Gotta Give (3), Lord of the Rings:final (4); Master and Commander (3.5), Big Fish (3); Win a date with Tad Hamilton (3), and Girl with the Pearl Earring (4).

    After painting workshop yesterday, Elaine and I decided to do lunch and shell out $6, the outrageous matinee ticket price, to see "Girl with the Pearl Earring." It truly is a lovely movie, and quite appropriate as a follow-up to art class (sometimes we go to a local art show).

    The movie is based on the book by Tracy Chevalier and the first chapter is at her website. I'm glad I looked at it because it fills in a few details I missed in the film--such as the servant girl Griete's artistic talent from the first minutes (or pages) of the story. It seems now I'll have to read the book to see what else was missed.

    215 Out talked O'Reilly

    Thursday evening I briefly caught the Kurt Russell/Bill O'Reilly interview on The Factor on Fox. Russell is a Libertarian. His resemblance in facial features and mannerisms to O'Reilly is uncanny. Put Russell's hair on O'Reilly and you'll see what I mean. This interview does not appear on the web site, so there is no link to show you. Russell is doing interviews to talk up his new movie about the 1980 U.S. hockey win at the Olympics.

    Also, phrase for phrase, Russell talked O'Reilly into a corner, and you don't often see that. For some reason, when he would say, "Bill, you're wrong," O'Reilly seemed to back down--maybe it was the mirror factor instead of the fear factor.

    Friday, February 06, 2004

    214 Ask a Librarian

    Maybe all the other librarians in the world knew about this song, but I just discovered it: You can ask a librarian and you can listen to it and download.

    Thursday, February 05, 2004

    213 Can government help marriage?

    There are three things that women can do to virtually wipe out future poverty in this country according to a member of the Clinton administration. William Galston put the matter simply in an article last January in the Wall Street Journal. To avoid poverty, do three things: finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after you are 20 years old. Only 8% of people who do all three will be poor; of those who fail to do them, 79% will be poor.

    Eliminating the marriage tax penalty sent the right message, but I’m not confident that the Federal government needs to be spending money to promote marriage, even though we know the simple fact of married parents promotes the health, welfare and education of children. It’s just that there is no proof that people aren’t getting married because of poor interpersonal skills, nor that $1.5 billion can undo the mess of the last 35 years. I'm envisioning our city's life long learning program requesting dollars from the government for gourmet classes and nature walks--all in the name of promoting healthy, stable marriages.

    A brief prepared on the topic in support of the administration in 2002 cited current research that children need to live with their biological parents in low-conflict marriages, but concluded there was no proven approach for building strong marriages.

    Robert Reich sounds a bit deluded when he says it’s being poor that’s keeping women from getting married (although not keeping them from having babies). Poor people got married and usually stayed married for all of our history as a country--and they do so in many other countries. Is it only in America that a poor woman thinks she’ll be less poor if she raises two or three children by herself? Besides, movie stars, athletes and other entertainers promote a no-marriage lifestyle, and they certainly aren’t poor.

    Even so, some (whose jobs depend on continuously funneling money into social problems) are complaining President Bush’s marriage initiative money should be going to single parents. Others are saying, what about those married people who don’t want anymore children, when are you going to help them? I say if Uncle Sam didn’t have to be a step-father (welfare, food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid make him a better and more reliable provider than many men), the government would save billions and children would be better off.

    Recent history points to the 1970s as aggravating the problem--around the time of the growth of the current women’s movement, but no one points fingers (except me). The rate of white women having children out of wedlock is now equal to that of black women in the 1960s when sociologists were blaming a tradition of weak black families on slavery.

    It seems God had a plan for marriage, one man and one woman and one marriage, and all our tweaking and fiddling with it whether by feminists, social workers, scholars or the Federal government has not improved on it.

    Update from Mitt Romney's article

    In the February 5, 2003 Wall Street Journal, Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts has an editorial "Citizen's Guide to Protecting Marriage." Prefacing his list, which includes a warning not to let activist judges make laws, is this paragraph:
    Marriage is a fundamental and universal social institution. It encompasses many obligations and benefits affecting husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. It is the foundation of harmonious family life. It is the basic building block of society: The development, productivity and happiness of new generations and bound inextricably to the family unit. As a result, marriage bears a real relation to the well-being, health and enduring strength of society."

    Wednesday, February 04, 2004

    212 Speaking of Microsoft

    Have you seen that full page newspaper ad from Microsoft? "Great Moments at Work." There are people on the main floor running, shouting, full of joy and celebration. People in the balcony are throwing paper and cheering.

    Take a closer look. On the main floor, I assume, are the movers and shakers and decision makers. Eight women and twelve men. Two Asians, one Hispanic, and one black. No one is bald, no one is old. Standing behind them on the balcony are the support staff, the gofers, the clerical workers.

    Now look at the clothing. Notice how well dressed the women are. They are. . .well, professionally, sensibly but attractively dressed. Only one of the eight women on the main floor is in pants--and it's a lovely suit. High heels, subtle, tasteful jewelry. Modest skirt length, even dresses, and good hair cuts.

    Where do you find women dressed like this in the business world? At the model agency, that's where.

    Since the start of the latest feminist movement around 1970, it has baffled me that women go to work dressed for sports or the bar date after work, and then wonder why they aren't taken seriously. I noticed it about 20 years ago when I went to a very large insurance agency that was an architectural client of my husband; I noticed it when I worked at the Ohio Department of Aging in the 1980s; I noticed it at Ohio State University at public meetings with Trustees and Faculty; I notice it in the newspapers when photos are published of the workplace.

    It's still the case that a man wearing khaki slacks and a sport coat with an open collar shirt looks like he's more serious about business than a woman in expensive wool slacks and a silk blouse.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2004

    211 Computer Administrator--that's me again

    Microsoft Windows recognizes that each computer has an administrator, and that person can update and fiddle with things. Well, for a long time, two plus years, that was me. But in January, Microsoft stopped recognizing me, and when I'd try to update our machine I was told I wasn't the Administrator.

    Some guys from Chem Abstracts have helped me out. They were really baffled. Tried a lot of things. Last night one of them thought to Google "administrators only" "Windows XP Home" and up popped some directions (when flipping to Groups) on how to fix this. Apparently, I wasn't the only administrator who got pushed out the door.

    The solution was at the Usenet group, Microsoft.public.windowsupdate and the topic was "XP Home Administrator Only Error - Updates," offered by C. Brandon Chapman. Everything is working again, thanks to Mr. Chapman and to John who worked his magic with that advice.

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    210 Slow news day

    Saturday is sometimes a slow news day. A good time to look through the Personals and see what people are looking for in the way of love and companionship.

    “Single black Christian female, 47, employed, is seeking a single white Christian male with his own teeth and hair, between 30-45 employed, who likes country and western music.”

    “A full figured 57 year old woman who likes garage sales and flea markets seeks a financially secure man who likes to cook.”

    I don’t know about you, but these two ads gave me quite a chuckle--a middle aged black woman listening to C & W with her sweety, a young white dude who has his own teeth, and a heavy woman who has a rich guy at home cooking while she cruises the flea markets.

    Also, women are getting smarter about writing these ads. Instead of mentioning walks in the park and romantic dinners, they now say they like NASCAR.

    Sunday, February 01, 2004

    209 Seeking the lost, frayed and misplaced

    January was a good month for finding lost ancestors. About a week ago, cousin Norma from Florida send a mailing tube which contained my husband’s grandparents’ very fragile wedding certificate, a 1935 certificate in teacher instruction from the Presbyterian Church for his grandmother Irma, and a huge formal photo of my husband’s great grandfather, George Brinton Byrum, on something that looks like the coated fabric of a window shade. We only recently learned his name, now I’m wondering about that format. A poster? Did he run for office in an organization, a town?

    Earlier in the month I received an e-mail from the Shroads/Shrodes Family website--someone had answered my inquiry about Phoebe Shrodes, my father-in-law’s grandmother. The woman responding was Phoebe’s descendant and we’re trying to sort that out by e-mail.

    Yesterday, cousin Jim in Alabama sent a large packet of information. He does genealogy the “right” way. About 25 years ago he interviewed the oldest member of his father’s family. He sent along a transcript of the tape, photocopies of the family Bible, a copy of a letter written in 1968 by a niece of his grandfather, and copies of some pages at the LDS online FamilySearch.

    Armed with the information that my husband’s great-grandfather grew up in Beaver County, PA, I went on-line to the Family Forum, and found an entry for that family at Beaver Co, PA. Although the accuracy of the information needs to be checked, someone had posted the family four generations back from my husband’s great grandfather, to Charles, who was born in Scotland but was paying taxes in Beaver County in 1795.

    Working through other family names that Jim sent, I learned many of my husband’s ancestors were German Lutheran. One recollection of the aunt recorded on the tape is of visiting family in Pennsylvania who spoke “Dutch,” the Americanized word for Deutsch, or German. Many of my Pennsylvania ancestors were also German Lutherans, so we’ll keep digging to see if we have any distant cousins in common.

    I know from discussions in my writing class that genealogy can become a full time occupation, even an obsession. Class members who used to do crafts, volunteer work, or were employed, now devote all discretionary time to their ancestors and tracking down threads and snippets of family history.

    Not all people get the bug to look into their roots. When I found the huge cache of information at the Beaver County, PA site, I yelled to my husband in the next room, “Hey Hon, I’ve hit the mother lode. Come here quick.” “The cat is on my lap,” he responded.