Friday, September 30, 2005

1568 Graduate school in Education

Oh Snap is a very interesting blog (new I think).

"Today I had a seminar in which we discuss our student teaching experience. It was interesting--a LOT of the people in my seminar have the same kind of complaints about their schools that I do: lack of discipline, lack of consequences, not enough attention to basic skills and knowledge, etc. Somehow the entire seminar agreed that these schools were examples of "liberalism run amok." So that was amusing.

That whole seminar is hilarious. The guy who runs it is probably the most intense person ever. He has wild black hair and I could tell from the first time I saw him that he holds views that are "radical." He's a great guy, and definitely has sound educational views--a result of teaching for three years in the worst high schools in Philadelphia. But somehow he always steers the seminar away from discussing teaching and schools and toward other social ills that we are really not going to be able to deal with. For example, today somehow we got to the prison-industrial complex."

1567 Bill Bennett's comments on abortion

Bill Bennett on his radio show tried to refute an article in a book (Freakonomics) that says abortions would reduce crime, and he gets strung up by the liberals who cooked up this scheme? Really! Liberals have been saying for years that killing the unborn will "save" children from poverty and a terrible life (and help our taxes). They've also published this crime theory and blacks in scholarly journals.

"Fertility declines for black women are three times greater than for whites (12 percent compared to 4 percent). Given that homicide rates of black youths are roughly nine times higher than those of white youths, racial differences in the fertility effects of abortion are likely to translate into greater homicide reductions." Quarterly Journal of Economics "The impact of legalized abortion on crime" by John Donohue III and Steven D. Levitt. (2001) James Taranto suggests that what really made them mad was his suggesting it was immoral.

Where was the outrage when academics proposed it? Where was Nancy Pelosi then? That woman's hypocrisy really gravels me for some reason. She and Feinstein are so whiny. How do you Californians stand it?

1566 I'll bet you're surprised, but I'm not

You are a

Social Moderate
(56% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(61% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

1565 How to control poverty in New Orleans

With very little government interference. Support and promote intact families in the media, in entertainment, in books, in churches, in the entire culture. Women, save your children from poverty.

1564 No slippery slope?

We could just pass the homosexual unions discussion and go directly to legalizing polygamous unions like the Netherlands. LaShawn Barber reports. Once you decide marriage is not between a man and woman, there is really no logical reason not to include any sort of union so the group can get their benefits. We've had serial monogamy for many years with men and women supporting by court decree spouses and children from various unions including those they never married.

1563 What to wear on a river cruise

Casual. I checked with my friend Nancy who travels a lot--in fact, she’d been on a Rhine cruise earlier this year. Casual, she said, very casual. So I carefully went through my Wal-Mart and K-Mart clothes and threw in a few better quality accessories, like Chadwick's and Kohl’s. I really didn’t need my basic, dressy black dress (plus it was a bit snug), but we had plenty of room, so I did take it just in case we had a dress-up occasion. Our weather was great--about 50s in the morning, maybe 65 in afternoon. Cool is better than hot, when you're struggling through cobblestone streets and hills. Here’s what I took.

We had 2 carry-ons bags and one smaller and one larger suitcases. We divided our clothes between the 2 larger suitcases, so that if one got lost, we’d each have at least 3 changes of clothes. Medications and make-up were in the carry-ons. We each packed one change of clothes in our carry-on and a change of shoes. One couple on the cruise did not have their luggage until the 5th day, and had only their carry-on. So pack that bag very carefully!

I chose a brown, black, cream and beige color scheme, with just a couple of other colors, like a bright blue and moss green thrown in so I didn't get too bored.

black, brown, cream

Brown knit slacks
Black knit slacks
Black cotton pull-on slacks to wear on the plane

Black knit skirt (rolled up for carry on)
Brown print skirt
Denim skirt

Cream knit short sleeve sweater (rolled up for carry on)
Cream long sleeve blouse
Black, brown, cream striped turtleneck
Cream long sleeve cotton knit shirt with small blue brown print
Moss green long sleeve turtleneck
White 3/4 sleeve blouse to wear on the plane
Dressy blue/black/pink jacket with sleeveless blue blouse
Short sleeve white knit shirt (never used)

Beige moleskin over-shirt, cardigan style
Beige linen blazer
White cardigan (never used)
Two scarves, one in blue tones, one in autumn colors
Lined, light weight, rain resistent blue jacket with hood

PJ’s, underwear, hose, anklets etc.
Black athletic shoes, loafers, sandals, heels
Tan sandals

If I'd packed differently, I would have left out the dress and bought a dressy sweater set to wear with slacks or a skirt. Dresses do seem to be a dying breed. My husband had two sport coats and two ties, but one would have been sufficient.

Because this is hurricane season, we chose to fly out of O'Hare rather than Charlotte, and it is actually a shorter distance to Frankfurt. But I like Charlotte's airport better.

1562 More work for lawyers

News that Paxil may cause birth defects during the first trimester, should fill in the time for any lawyers not flogging the Vioxx cases and Katrina mold.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

1561 Not yet, but maybe someday

Viet D. Dinh, suggests Vietpundit. I would say it's pretty remarkable he's made it this far.

1560 More comments on the Chronicle Librarian article

Paul provides some real horror stories about some instructors in his library school education. Wow. Wasn't that way when I went to college--I think the professors kept their politics to themselves. We talked about really old fashioned concepts like books, serials, history of information and the future of computers and how to make information accessible. I think the most dramatic thing I remember is discussing "In cold blood" by Truman Capote. Seems a little tame now. Must have been the blue jeans. No instructor--or even students--wore jeans to class in grad school. Raises the standards if you need to look nice to keep your job.

Paul recalls, "The head of the program, since departed, gave a seminar on the Robert Maplethorpe pictures that caused so much controversy due to their explicit depictions and federal funding. We got to see the famous photo of a naked Maplethorpe with a bullwhip stuck in his anus. She also showed us a photo by Mapplethorpe's protege which showed a four-year-old girl sitting down, raising her dress to reveal her vagina (no panties). She had, as our Director said, an "impish grin that revealed her hidden sexuality." Me and the woman sitting to my right were horrified, but we seemed to be the only ones. But, as David Durant points out, many often choose not to speak out in order to fit in."

1559 Little quiz time

You Are A: Lamb!

lambPeaceful and gentle, lambs have been used in religious imagery for millennia. Lambs are baby sheep, an animal tended by shephards since the dawn of history. As a lamb, you tend to stay together in a flock and graze on grassy land. Lambs don't mind being led and tend not to go off on their own.

You were almost a: Duckling or a Chipmunk
You are least like a: Monkey or a PuppyWhat Cute Animal Are You?

I saw this at Jenna's site.

1558 Why women?

"Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects approximately 2 million people in the United States. RA is prevalent across all ethnic groups, and can occur at any age, although most cases are seen in adults between ages 30 and 60 years. Women comprise 75% of all cases.[1] The disease accounts for more than 9 million physician visits and 250,000 hospitalizations annually, presenting a huge economic burden on society.[1] RA is a chronic, progressive autoimmune inflammatory disease of unknown etiology that attacks the synovial tissue leading to irreversible joint damage, chronic pain, stiffness, and functional impairment.[2] Most patients with RA develop permanent bone erosions and joint space narrowing and with time, many are disabled and may require joint replacement surgery. RA can reduce the average life expectancy by about a decade.[3]" From The sooner it is diagnosed, the more successful the treatment, but there is no cure.

"Autoimmune diseases run the gamut from mild to disabling and potentially life threatening. Nearly all affect women at far greater rates than men. The question before the scientific community is "why?" We have come a long way in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune disease. But more work is needed, especially in the areas of discovering the causes and developing more effective treatments and prevention strategies." from AARDA page

My daughter has Hashimoto's Disease, an autoimmune disease with a female to male ratio of 50:1. This disease destroys the thyroid. Do you suppose it is unreasonable to wonder if this was reversed--75% of RA cases were male--we'd have more answers? More funding? Just a thought.

1557 The Democrats may be socialists

but the Republicans are liars, opines Professor Chaos, who attended a party and didn't like what he heard.

1556 Telenovelas on Time Warner

So I was a few months late discovering our Spanish language channel. I was out of town all summer. I'm having a blast watching what I think are the telenovelas, or maybe they are just Latin soaps. Yesterday there was the most incredible cat fight between two women, with screaming, hair flying, eyes popping, slapping, kicking, and one helpless older guy watching and another peeking from behind a door snickering. The fashions, hair-dos, sets, story lines, family fueds, automobiles and other toys are way beyond your usual (yawn) suds stories. Even the commercials are less objectionable when you don't know what they are saying. I'd supply some links, but I haven't been able to catch the titles.

1555 Why Paula dumped me

She says it was this post that unlinked me from her blogroll. I have my doubts. She's got thicker skin than that. I'm old enough to be her mother and am from northern Illinois where she's from--maybe she's got issues? I've been reading her stuff since pre-blog days. She's a Romance writer--not sure if she's published, but I know someday she'll be rich and famous. Of course, I've never read a romance novel, so how would I know? But she loves what she does and that's part of it. Maybe luck? Possibly. Right time, right place? Follows guidelines? Probably. Most likely after the kids are out of the nest and she has plenty of time to concentrate.

Many writer-wannabes back in the 90s thought the internet would launch their writing careers. I think it eats up their energy and writing juices. The really good ones eventually get published, along with some really awful ones if the Half Price Book Store shelves are telling the truth. Since I have no idea what Paula's real name is, I may never know if I pass up her best seller in the bookstore.

1554 Ready to stay home for awhile

After a week in Florida in February, a week in Illinois in April, July and August at Lakeside interrupted by five days in Oklahoma and Arkansas for a Frank Lloyd Wright - Fay Jones architectural tour, and a September Danube River cruise in Germany and Austria to be followed by another week in Illinois, I'm ready to stay home for awhile. My husband's had even more travel with two trips to California to be with his dying father and then his funeral in March and May. That's why this poem written by my girlfriend Lynne (since highschool) which arrived yesterday in the mail, means so much.

It's grand to go on holiday
and break the set routine.
It's nice to get away, you say
and have a change of scene.
It's tonic, so they say,
to see and to explore
The exciting world outside your door.

But then comes the moment--
you have had enough!

Then it's home you long for
Your own small, cozy kingdom
Where you know just where you are.
Oh, it's good to get back home
and breathe your native air,
And settle in your very own
familiar easy chair.

Thanks, Lynne, my thoughts exactly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

1554 How to clean your iPod and Nano

See what I told you? I don't have a niche. This guy explains, with photos, how to clean your iPod with Brasso, and he gets 45 comments. I think I know what an iPod is, but have no idea about nanos. I thought that was Mork and Mindy talk. Oh, that was nanu. I saw Todd's blog at the which I saw at Lethal Librarian, who belly dances.

Update: See how the bloggers are getting the jump on the news writers? Today's paper had an article about the Apple iPod and Nano--it gets good marks for features like holding 1,000 songs (who in the world needs that?), pictures of album covers, photos, podcasts and audiobooks. But bad marks for scratching!

1553 Library Juice runs dry

Not sure that you would care--I don’t really. Library Juice is a radical left wing librarian's on-line serial, whose writer/editor smugly proclaimed to be above the blogging fray. I don’t link to him although I do link to liberal blogs about librarianship (the majority of librarians are liberals, but many can stay on topic, promote the profession and do an excellent job in their blogs). Jack Stephens has a note about this at Conservator, referring to Lethal Librarian and reports that while proclaiming to support freedom of information, Library Juice also published 7 different issues in support of Fidel Castro, old Mr. Fuzzy Bear himself.

I hope Mr. Litwin can find himself (he's going to start blogging). He seems to violate everything our profession used to stand for, and now that the profession is struggling to stay afloat, maybe he's jumping the [librarian]ship.

Blake, at also commented on Library Juice. "Rory was a big part of LISNews for years, and if I remember right, one of his big problems with LISNews is how I let everyone have a say. I don't subscribe to that theory in any way. However much I may want to start firewalling people that annoy me, I'll just never do it. I'll never avoid conversations I don't want to have by silencing everyone. It's easy to figure out who is a delusional nut job and who is interesting and informative, and I read people based on the reputation they've made for themselves. I don't think it does any of us any good if I silence them. I welcome constructive criticism, and I also welcome people I disagree with into my world."

1552 The value of a college education

My post on this topic about 18 months ago really raised some hackles. You just don't gore this sacred cow! However, this week I noticed in our local paper that a young man I watched grow up (sat in front of us in church on Sunday) who is about three years younger than my son, had been hired by the local school board as treasurer--for $108,000 a year. Obviously, some areas of education pay much better than others--especially if you are not directly involved in educating!

1551 The blog roll

Paula cut me loose; Mr. Cloud says I'm hanging by a thread because of my politics. Twyla gave up blogging. Lori doesn't have a blog roll. Other bloggers who linked to me have just disappeared, with no explanation. Moved on, gone on vacation, on hiatis, died, divorced, whatever.

I'm coming up on the second anniversary of blogging--October 2003 I started. If I'd been smart or if I'd wanted fab stats, I would have never admitted to being a retired librarian, and I would have used my daughter's photo (she's gorgeous). I would have used lots of sexually loaded language, like certain popular sites, and found a niche like knitting dog hair, or buying shoes. The internet may be the new communication/information medium, but no one wants to hang out with senior citizens. Not even other seniors. I've taught about 10 over-55 year olds how to blog, and none have kept up. They posted about 2 or 3 then went back to golf, or publishing books, or drinking coffee. Even my best friend won't read blogs, and my sister and brother rarely check in. Murray, who has an opinion on everything and is a good writer, seems to have lost his password; Eric is quiet, thoughtful and philosphical, but must have writer's block.

The number of Americans who say they read blogs jumped 58% in 2004, to 32,000,000 people, according to Pew. And there are supposed to be 18,000,000 blogs, which means I should get at least 2 regulars. Those who follow the trends say "pungent entries" bring people back. "Pungent" means being sharp, incisive, and to the point--even irritating, from the Latin words meaning fist or fight. Hmmm. Paula and Mr. Cloud find me irritating, but it doesn't seem to work with them.

Update: Just checked on Eric. He's got his third entry. Oh, praise the Lord!

1550 Our new Spanish cable station

We've recently had a Spanish language channel added to our regular selection, 99 on our local Time-Warner. I've been watching/listening (TV is actually behind me in my office) and have noticed again, that all Latinas on TV news, commercials and soap operas look like Jennifer Lopez's sister. The men however, come in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. The men can be much more Indian looking, or northern European looking, they can be round or thin, short or tall, and it doesn't seem to hurt their careers. The women, however, seem to need a certain look. And a lot of cleavage.

1549 Finally, my question is answered

Michael Brown, in his testimony about Katrina, has answered my question, "What part of this is Bush's fault?" Dems just had vague, political-based criticism. Mushy, weak verbs. Hate that. I never heard specifics. Brown had one, although he didn't say Bush, you know where this buck stops.

He testified that FEMA has been starved and broken being stuck in Homeland Security. Interestingly, Democrats had had the same criticism about three weeks ago--until someone reminded them that the huge umbrella agency was their off-spring (Lieberman) and not Bush's idea (I think he initially rejected it). Then they sort of muffled that and spewed their hatred for Bush. Then Brown said the federal agencies who should have responded to FEMA's requests didn't, and he specifically pointed to the Department of Defense. Well now, if you can't blame the President for his people not working together, who else is there? This inter-agency squabbling and turf protection sounds just like the CIA/FBI communication break downs in pre-9/11. I think it is like a mold that grows on big government. Bush's solution, which is to grow the federal government even bigger and moldier, sounds like he isn't listening. Crony or not, Brown has a valid point.

Even so, the Democrats acted like spoiled children by boycotting the hearings--listening is difficult for them as we saw during the Roberts hearings.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

1548 Why he blogs

David Durrant, a librarian on my list of links, says he feels better about his conservative views now that he is blogging. Librarianship is a left wing "politicized atmosphere of groupthink and intolerance echo chamber." His op ed appears in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

"The open politicization of the ALA [American Library Association] has also trampled on the association's commitment to intellectual freedom and diversity of opinion. The ALA's Social Responsibilities Round Table, for example, has become the exclusive plaything of radical leftists, and they have made it abundantly clear that those holding differing viewpoints are not welcome. For instance, conservative posts to the SRRT e-mail list are treated with open hostility.

The ALA's annual conferences have become akin to meetings, where Bush bashing and liberal groupthink are the order of the day. At the association's June 2003 convention, in Toronto, the lineup of speakers included Ralph Nader, U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, Naomi Klein, and Gloria Steinem. That was merely a warm-up, however, for the blatantly political event that was the 2004 convention in Orlando, Fla."

None of this will surprise librarians, but I'm guessing the other academics won't care. (For those of you outside the university/college milieu, The Chronicle is a cross between the Bible and the New York Times and is read by most.) Although they may be surprised to see that as a group, librarians are much further to the left than professors.

1546 The Red Cross money pit

The Los Angeles times has an editorial questioning the 70% of all the relief money for the hurricanes that the Red Cross has received.

"This skewed giving to Red Cross would be justified if the organization had to pay the cost of the 300,000 people it has sheltered. But FEMA and the affected states are reimbursing the Red Cross under preexisting contracts for emergency shelter and other disaster services. The existence of these contracts is no secret to anyone but the American public. The Red Cross carefully says it functions only by the grace of the American people — but "people" includes government, national and local. What we've now come to expect from a major disaster is a Red Cross media blitz."

"The Red Cross expects to raise more than $2 billion before Hurricane Katrina-related giving subsides. If it takes care of 300,000 people, that's $7,000 per victim. I doubt each victim under Red Cross care will see more than a doughnut, an interview with a social worker and a short-term voucher for a cheap motel, with a few miscellaneous items such as clothes and cooking pots thrown in.

The Red Cross' 3 million unpaid volunteers, 156,000 of whom it says are deployed in Hurricane Katrina, are salt-of-the-Earth Americans. But asking where all the privately collected money will go and how much Red Cross is billing FEMA and the affected states is a legitimate question — even if posed by the president of a small relief agency."

My donations haven't gone to the Red Cross, but if yours have, you may want to read the entire article and do your own research on where your money will do the most good.

1545 Speaking of Germany

"Josef Goebbels would have been happy with much of the mainstream media in the past few weeks since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Goebbels, for those of you too young to know, was Hitler's propaganda minister. He is credited with creating the concept of The Big Lie. The idea was that if you tell a lie big enough often enough, people will believe it.

The big lie of the Hurricane Katrina story is that it reveals deep and hateful racism in America, that blacks were treated worse than other people because they were black, and that this shows the hypocrisy of this supposedly egalitarian nation."

But here's the truth. Most of the horrible things we were told by our cable news networks about murder, mayhem, looting and rape, just didn't happen. Their reports kept FEMA teams out of the area. When body recovery teams from the military entered the evacuation facilities in NOLA they expected to find many bodies based on the news coverage. They found six. Gosh, five people died in Texas from using a generator improperly during Rita! The murder rate apparently slowed during the storm's aftermath. Reporters were not inside those facilities, remember. They were outside on the freeways and had no way to check the rumors. Fox News to its credit, is now correcting that image with interviews of people who are or were on the scene. I don't think they've admitted complicity in creating an anti-America news story, however. I have no idea how CNN is handling their missteps.

In addition, according to Ben Stein in this article quoted above, the blacks were victims not of racism, but geography, a terrible storm, and mass confusion. The people who came to their aid were white churches and black churches working together. People all over the country have opened their homes and businesses to these people.

So who are these racists trying to stir up hatred among us? Well, so far, they've all been liberals and Bush-bashers. It's their plantation mentality.

More on the media's role in distorting the news about the storm

Rep. Peter King (NY) on MSNBC Chris Matthews show, Hardball, Sept. 26

PK: I'm not talking about distorting the damage [of the hurricane]. I'm talking about distorting President Bush's role. Somehow, this was almost entirely blamed on him. That was a certain impression given by the media from the very first moment, when the levees broke. And you had Andrea Mitchell on talking about how that was because President Bush didn't put enough money into the water projects in Louisiana, or the levee control projects, when it turns out that he put more money in, in his first five years, than Bill Clinton did in his last five years. And no state gets more money in the country than Louisiana does. And use that as an example, and then go right through.

There was much more focus put on what President Bush was supposedly not doing, when the fact is it was the mayor who didn't provide the trucks, the buses to evacuate the people, sent the people to the Superdome without adequate food or water. And then also, there's the governor. The governor of Louisiana, and I was down there last week, she said every report that was done before this, said that a storm of this magnitude would kill 20,000 people. The fact is, so far there's less than 800. Every death is tragic, but why isn't your story less than 4% of those who were supposed to have been killed were not killed, because of the efforts of the federal government? The Coast Guard, remember, is part of Homeland Security. They were in the very first day rescuing thousands and thousands of people. That's just an example of the distortion. It's continuing today, the way you're questioning the contracts, assuming something is wrong when the president is fully following the law."

Lots of mp.3 clips well worth listening to.

"PK: [The President] was relying on what everyone, including Page 1 of the New York Times said, which was that New Orleans had ducked the storm. It wasn't until Tuesday that we realized how bad the situation was. And by then, the president had no way of knowing that the New Orleans Police and Fire Departments were going to disappear, that the governor wasn't going to adequately use the National Guard, and that the mayor had not put sufficient water and food into the Superdome. It takes a good 36 to 48 hours to move troops, the amount that were necessary, to provide relief in the Superdome."

And here's the best part.

PK to CM: "Just because the president doesn't watch you on television, it doesn't mean he's not doing his job. You know, Franklin Roosevelt wasn't hired to listen to radio accounts of D-Day. You're hired to do the job, and the president can do his job without having to listen to Chris Matthews or Andrea Mitchell or Tim Russert, or any of the others. He is doing his job."

1544 Am I the only one

who gains weight because I like to eat? I've gained 15 pounds this year and I'm not troubled, I don't blame my parents, and it's no one's fault but mine. And blogging, of course, which is very broadening. And that is PJ and Paula's fault.

Isn't this a stupid thesis?

"Mostly, fat people are fat because they're troubled, and if they lose weight, they become troubled slim people, and then they just start overeating again, and become fat people who are even more troubled than they were before." New book called Hunger.

1543 My biggest mistake

was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional," [Michael] Brown told a special congressional panel set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the catastrophe.

"I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn't pull that off."

At last. A breath of fresh air. I suppose since he's been made the scapegoat he doesn't have to mince words. I hope the party doesn't make him take it all back. He looks good with that backbone.

Naturally William Jefferson, the LA congressman who tied up rescue helicopters and trucks checking his house and removing items, was outraged.

Clueless Congressman

1542 Does USAToday hate black people?

If today's cover story had appeared at an RNC or administration web site, all hell would break loose. I don't think the paper's writers deliberately put a negative spin on blacks waiting at an evacuation center, but it couldn't sound worse if that had been the intention.

First, the photos. Five photos of people waiting--all evacuees, all had had jobs and homes in New Orleans. The only white person in the five photos is shown looking for jobs in the want ads of a newspaper while eleven African American women and men sit in the background staring into space.

Second, the human interest stories. One evacuee, Wayne Scardino (who I assume is white from his surname), had a successful lawn care business before Katrina destroyed his house and business, and he was planning to relocate to another city and take advantage of small business loans from the government to get started again. He had taken the initiative and responded to a flier posted at the center. The other stories, mostly about unmarried couples with children, reported how they'd refused offers from churches and relatives to relocate to different states. One woman had refused to move to a trailer. They are waiting for FEMA to "do something" and the woman whose rented duplex had been destroyed complained about the lack of privacy at the center, but said, "We could do better," than taking those other housing options. One black man who had been employed in a hotel chain is reported as saying, "It's like a vacation," and he is satisfied to just wait for the government to do something.

Also, this article quoted some Louisiana officials saying some unsavory things (to this tax payer's ear), like Blanco wants FEMA to put people up in hotels rather than trailers. So that's apparently why only 99 trailers for evacuees have been set up in LA, but 2,325 trailers have already been occupied in Mississippi and Alabama. Do you suppose FEMA will be blamed for this "slow response" to housing needs in LA?

Also, according to Kim Hunter Reed, the state policy and planning director, who is quoted in the article, New Orleans had a severe housing shortage before Katrina! There are two things that cause housing shortages: rent control and new construction red tape, including environmental hoops to jump through to get permits. Government interference in the market causes housing shortages. It happened after WWII, and continues in cities like New York which have rent control. I don't mind helping people when they are down, but New Orleans was by any reasonable woman's standard a mess before Katrina.

1541 A Cajun East Germany

Last week during our Danube River Cruise we enjoyed many outstanding lectures. Tour guide Robert who is British and has lived and studied both in the USSR and the GDR, lectured about post WWII Germany and reunification. He said (according to my notes) that USSR had hoped it could build a model country from the ashes, and in 1949 the GDR (East Germany) was formed. While the USA poured money into Germany building housing, businesses, and currency reform, the GDR stagnated. 100,000 people a year were leaving the East for better opportunities in the West. The Berlin Wall was built and the Iron Curtain fell cutting off what had been Prussia. On the 40th anniversary, 1989, the people knocked down the wall, and no one in the West had a plan B, because no one believed the Soviets would so totally fail. After 1990, things went sour. 16 million East Germans and 4,000,000 Volga Germans had to be absorbed into the rather generous German social system and economy. It was a disaster--"Too risky to invest in a work force that had been under Communism for 45 years."

Two days later Dr. Hans Hillerbrand picked up the theme with "What is a German?" He said Germany had had one of the most generous social systems in the west, with no unemployment and few pensioners in the 1980s. But as the work forced aged, and the East Germans came into the system not having contributed anything, 1.4 trillion Euros were transferred west to east to get the former GDR's economy going again. But it is a black hole. In the GDR, 8 workers were employed where 2 were needed, but easterners wanted the same salaries as westerns, who were far more capable and productive.

In today's WSJ George Melloan writes in the "Global View" column about how government handouts and subsidies to the East Germans to bring them "up" to West German standards has failed, causing high unemployment, anger and a growing Communist party, which made a small showing in the election that took place while we were there. Unemployment in east Germany is at 19%. He notes that the ambitious 4 milllion left, resulting in a Darwinian downward spiral in the population, leaving the elderly, the lazy and the indigent.

As I was reading it I kept thinking how much it sounded like Louisiana politics and government props (before Katrina) and how much worse the federal infusion of "aid" could make life there. And then in his last sentence I see we were really "on the same page," when he mentioned the hurricane aid was going to turn Louisiana into a "Cajan East Germany."

1540 Write down those stories!

In two weeks I'll be visiting family in Illinois. While I'm "home" I hope to visit a great aunt who just celebrated her 90th birthday. I'm going to take along the genealogy information I've accumulated over the years and try to fill in a few blanks, and I hope to hear some "stories." Not everyone is a story teller, so sometimes you have to ask questions like "Where was your family living when you were born? Did you hear stories about your parents' early life you could share with me?"

Here's an essay I wrote in June 2002 about a story I heard from a neighbor. He can no longer communicate, so I hope someone in his family will write down for the great grandchildren his "library."

At age 77 my neighbor climbed down the ladder from the roof of his 2 story house, wiped away the sweat, and told me how sad he was that he was now an orphan. Two brothers and a sister had died the previous year, and he was the last one--the youngest of 9. The one brother was the family story-teller--always pumping the aunts and uncles, cousins and sibs for stories which he would then retell and embellish at family get-togethers--a bard, a chronicler of their life and times. "We lost a library," my neighbor said sadly, "no one ever wrote them down, and I'm no story teller."

But then, as though lying about his own ability, he told me the story of how his father watched 3 friends die in mine fires in south eastern Ohio, and decided to move his family to Cleveland for better opportunity and a safer job. All eleven of them took the train ride to Cleveland to find the one man he knew there. All he knew was that his friend worked for the railroad, so the family sat, ate, and slept in the train station for three days until the man came through on a train. The children swept floors and ran errands for people to get a little cash together. Finally his father saw his friend, who immediately took them home with him. Within 3 days, the father had a job, and within a year, he'd made a down payment on a house for his family. I can't repeat the story the way he did, but he had quickly stepped into his brother's shoes.

Now he has Alzheimer's. He doesn't recognize his wife, children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. But the family still gathers and treats him with great tenderness and respect. The house bustles with friends and children running in and out, but the library has closed forever. Write your stories.

Monday, September 26, 2005

1539 The Michael Jackson Treatment

Cindy Sheehan gets my Jacko moves. Whenever a story about her comes on the news, I pick-up the remote and change channels, a method I used during the trial. I've also e-mailed NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox (don't watch CNN) asking them to stop making her into news. So far, I've seen snippets of "King of the Hill" and some shopping channel gems, but that's better than watching non-news.

1538 Blew her out of the media

A certain grieving mother got blown out of the limelight by Hurricane Katrina, and now can be found grinning and laughing as she is arrested in what appears to be a mosh pit for storming the White House in a war protest. Ah Cindy. I think your 15 minutes of fame is over. You are so yesterday I'm not even going to post the photo I came across while looking for something. . .interesting. . . relevant. . . and age appropriate.

1537 Why weren't they prepared for this?

"Speaking at a symposium in New York last week, Arthur Jones, chief of disaster recovery for Louisiana's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, told the Associated Press that his agency he was caught off guard by the tidal wave of violence.

No disaster planner, he said, predicted that people would loot gun stores after the storm and shoot at police, rescue officials and helicopters." Katrina death toll

Hello! 1. Law abiding citizens leave. 2. Crooks stay. 3. Gun stores are unguarded. Not my field of expertise, but I think I could have figured this one out. Number 4 is Looting.

Who hires these local Homeland Security "experts." And they were supposed to protect us from terrorists?

Update: I heard today that there were no more murders during the Katrina aftermath than any other week. Can't confirm it yet, but I was hoping someone would subtract the usual death toll from the Katrina toll to come up with a figure. Also, Michael Brown says FEMA does not send volunteers or staff into unsafe areas because they are not military or police, and the media was reporting violence and gunfire. Now it appears much of that was way over-hyped and exaggerated.

1536 Roberts is in; who's next?

A strong judiciary and a weak Congress is not what our Founders had in mind, but that's the hand we've chosen to put in our glove. So who's next? This will be Bush's real legacy--Supreme Court members stay on for 30 years or more--and we know there will be a battle.

All we'll hear from liberals is ABORTION and various thinly veiled issues dealing with "morality." I'm assuming the rest of the issues are all code words for ABORTION. Do we really want the next 30 years of court battles determined by that and the direction it has taken us?

"Most of all, perhaps, [legalized abortion] has corrupted liberalism. For all its flaws, liberalism could until the early seventies claim a proud history of standing up for the powerless and downtrodden, of expanding the definition of the community for whom we pledge protection, of resisting the idea that might makes right. The Democratic Party has casually abandoned that legacy. Liberals’ commitment to civil rights, it turns out, ends when the constituency in question can offer neither votes nor revenues." Richard John Neuhaus

In most areas of traditional morality Christians (according to polls) have been willingly co-opted by the larger culture in divorce, remarriage, gambling, pornography, addictions, cheating on tests, and over-all bad behavior. Even 30 years ago, there was a clear difference in behavior, but we've lost our witness. So let's at least hang on to honesty and recognize that we've pretty much lost the ABORTION battle, even among Christians. We might as well look at the next candidate's expertise on other issues--areas dealing with business, the environment, education, etc.

It was interesting that during the Democrats' grilling of Roberts the biggest complaint was his "silence." Oh, that we had some of that precious commodity from the committee members! My oh my. Don't they love a camera! Like that has-been in Sunset Boulevard, Norma Desmond played by Gloria Swanson. "This is my life. It always will be. Nothing else...just us. The camera...and those wonderful people out there in the dark."

Yes, for all of us people out here in the dark.

1535 Women may regret this

If men behaving badly, but not sexually, creates a hostile environment for women, then will men be able to sue for sex discrimination when women in the work place just do the usual girl thang using all the codes women understand and men don't? Gossiping. Sniping. Whispering. Whining. Changing their minds. Giggling. Glaring. Sighing. Procrastinating. Interrupting. Wearing too much perfume. Taking off their expensive shoes because their feet hurt. Adjusting the themostat during menopause. Temper trantrums. Kitchen sink arguments. And of course, intuition.

"Screaming and yelling by men at work may now be sex-based discrimination if women at work find the behavior more intimidating than men do. On September 2, 2005, in E.E.O.C. v. National Education Association, (No. 04-35029), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the “reasonable woman” standard applies to workplace abusive conduct, even if there is no sexual content to the behavior. This decision significantly expands the types of behaviors that may furnish a basis for a claim of discrimination." ASAP

And what is this reasonable woman standard? Was Governor Blanco "reasonable" to ask for more time to think about about the federal government's involvement in Katrina? Yes, a woman being hounded by shouting male advisors on all sides in a crisis would be "reasonable," but completely ineffective.

Screaming at anyone is bad behavior and that supervisor should fail on his or her own merit. Or lack thereof.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Photos of our Danube Cruise: Linz and Melk, Austria

Austria is a rather small country today, having lost much of its vast Austro-Hungarian Empire after WWI. Linz is the provincial capital of Upper Austria, with the oldest church in Austria. This is also where we toured a modern university and had a lecture on the Austrian educational system. Melk was Bob's favorite of the whole trip, and after we docked he walked into town and got an amazing view of the massive Benedictine Abbey before our tour the next day. I, of course, was wowed by its library.

Linz Main Square

Linz trolley

Linz, Johannes Kepler University

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey interior

Melk Abbey Library

Melk, town view

Photos of our Danube Cruise: Regensburg and Passau

Columbus, Ohio is about 200 years old--Regensburg is about 2,500! I thought my architect husband would have a melt down--Romanesque, Gothic, Italianate, Baroque, Roccoco, neoclassical and romantic all within a few blocks. One thing we heard from all our outstanding local German and Austrian guides, important for any era--fame, power, ruling families, governments, churches and wealth come and go. A "global economy" was flourishing in Regensburg 1000 years ago due in large part to the Jews for 500 years then they were driven out, according to our guide. Around 500 B.C. Regensburg was a Celt settlement, and then the Romans used its strategic location to build a fortress, the walls of which are exposed and showing beneath many of the "modern" (17th century) buildings.

The Roman fort walls peeking out below

St. Peter's Cathedral, started in 1254 and finished around 1520.

Steinerne Brucke, over the Danube, built in the 12th century

Our story-teller guide showing us a door used during the black plague

The organ of the Cathedral at Passau where we heard a wonderful noon concert

Parish church in Passau

Photos of our Danube Cruise

Photos will not do this trip justice. Every village and city we saw was lovely; our boat and crew were wonderful; our guides were fabulous. Still, I want to record just a few to save in my blog. We still do the old fashioned photo album so we view our photos more than once.

Nuremberg: Let's start with the most sobering, and then move on. Hitler loved Nuremberg. Here Hitler convinced millions they were the master race in mass rallies. This concrete expanse was designed to make the individual feel both insignificant and part of something larger at the same time (according to our guide). With huge spotlights, it became a Cathedral of Lights.

Where the war trials were held.

Lovely scene in old Nuremberg, with a Starbucks nearby

On the upper deck enjoying the river view

1534 Cheney's heart problems

Surely I'm not the only Republican who thinks it is time for Cheney to step down. These latest problems are not minor. It's common to say the vice president is "a heart beat away from the Presidency," but that expression should not refer to Dennis Hastert.

1533 I'm still waiting

for someone to give the specifics on what President Bush should have done differently during Hurricane Katrina that would have made a difference--saving lives, property or speeding evacuation. If John Kerry had been President, or Bill Clinton, I think the results would have been the same . . . and so would the criticism, only it would have come from the Republicans. But it would have been John Kerry on vacation (in France? at one of his wife's mansions?). The Red Cross still wouldn't have been allowed in to provide water and food to 20,000 people waiting for buses. The buses still would have been windshield deep in water if Kerry hadn't lost by 180,000 votes in Ohio. People still would have refused to leave their homes if Hillary were still first lady. The hurricane category 3 levee still would have been breached if Bill Clinton were in office. Louisiana's National Guard still would have been the Governor's responsibility to call up.

Truly, all I've read or heard is, "Bush was clueless," "Bush didn't care," "Bush was on vacation," "ineffective response," or equally vague put downs, but nothing pointed like the criticism of Louisiana's governor and New Orleans' Mayor, who had very specific responsibilities for the safety and well-being of their citizens and functioning communication systems, but were unable to coordinate them or give up power to the next higher agency. In fact, right before Rita hit, weren't we hearing complaints from Nagin that New Orleans seemed to have a federal mayor? Wasn't he asking for that just two weeks ago?

I just think it is important all Americans understand what the federal government's response is supposed to be. After all, Bush accepted the responsibility for a slow response. We've got FEMA, and a whole alphabet soup of government agencies, and all sorts of laws and regulations that stop at our state borders. I don't want to see the Bush administration just holler Mea Culpa without some pretty careful explanation, because it just means the federal government will grow and more laws and regs that no one understands will be on the books. I'd like to see the books closed on some older disasters--have those families and businesses recovered? I think it is important because there are other disasters, like earthquakes and tsunamis that could wipe out transportation routes. So, just who is in charge here?

1532 Economic literacy

Should a course on economic literacy be taught in schools? Not just budgeting. Not how to read a stock report. But something with a little history?

"I break economic literacy into two components -- factual and conceptual. Alas, most well-educated Americans are illiterate in both areas. First, the facts. Whenever I teach a seminar on basic economics, I always survey the audience: What proportion of the American labor force earns the minimum wage or less and what is the standard of living of the average American today relative to 100 years ago?

Even among highly-educated groups such as journalists or congressional staffers, the median answer is depressingly similar -- they think 20% of the American work force earns the minimum wage or less. In fact, the actual number is something less than 3%. Usually a non-trivial portion of each group thinks that our material well-being is lower today than 100 years ago. Their median answer is that we are 50% better off than we were 100 years ago. In fact, the average American is at least five and maybe 30 times better off than we were in the good old days. There's a dramatic range because it's hard to value the opportunity to listen to your iPod while recovering from open heart surgery. But 50% is a very bad answer." Russell Roberts replies to WSJ's question about what the public doesn't know. . .

Imagine how news stories would change if journalists were required to be literate in economics! Think of the trees that have died to produce stories about families that can't survive on minimum wage.

1531 Cottage; America's favorite home inside and out

The book is finally ready--it was waiting for us in the pile of mail. Last year I'd noticed an item in the AIA newsletter about a deadline for submitting suggestions for a book about cottages. I printed it out and put it in my husband's line of vision with an extremely strong suggestion that he enter one of his Lakeside designs. He submitted some photographs along with a paragraph or two about "the healthy house" and Lakeside which is on the National Historic Register. The authors, M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman contacted him, and last May sent a photographer Rob Karosis to Lakeside. The book had a proposed publication date of summer 2005 and we're sorry it wasn't available to the Lakeside market this summer, but now it's out and absolutely lovely!

We are so thrilled with it, and the photographer of Foley's home did a fabulous job. Take a peek inside the book--Cottage; America's Favorite Home Inside and Out.

From the introduction: "For many people, cottage living is a dream come true. And, as the cottages in our book show, every dream is different. Cottage owners typically ignore the commonly accepted real estate maxims, such as building for resale, maximizing square footage, including a bathroom for every bedroom, and tacking on a three-car garage. Instead they think outside the box and create intimate homes that express their personalities and how they enjoy living their lives. The cottages in this book, and the dreams of their owners, have cast a spell over us. We invite you to read their stories and imagine yourself enjoying the hospitality each cottage graciously offers."

Bob's healthy house is pages 29-35.

1530 Big and Little Things I noticed

Obese Americans. I didn't see any. Travel though old cities of Europe with cobblestone streets, hills to climb, many irregular steps, and much less handicapped access than what we have come to expect, limits travelers and tourists to those in reasonably good health. The ages of the tour members ranged from early 40s at the lower end to mid-80s in the upper, but despite some frailty among a few of our older members, no one was what I would call obese. Nor did I see obese Germans and Austrians, who seem to look quite healthy and athletic based on what you see in American cities. (They obviously are running off all those wonderful breads and pastries.) I know I've read that they are catching up with us, but it is very noticeable the minute you step back inside an American airport.

Toilets. When you could find public toilets, they were well designed and managed. Toilet paper in Germany and Austria seems to be universally supplied by companies that produce paper towels and only know that product. A few places we experienced pay toilets which seems a throw back to the system we had here in bus and train stations in the 1950s. I didn't notice that they were any cleaner or nicer than those that didn't charge, but it does provide jobs. The stalls seem to be more sturdy, intended to last longer than a few months or years, mostly covered with ceramic tiles with stainless steel doors and really solid locks.

Churches and cathedrals. These seemed to be maintained by the state by taxing the Catholics (I suppose it is the same for Lutherans, but we didn't go through any protestant churches on a tour). Europeans like to criticize our American politics being influenced by religion, however, I think Americans would really balk at having the state collect taxes to support the churches. The cathedrals are a huge draw for tourists who bring in millions of Euros to support the economy. If anything, the state ought to do all it can to support these wonderful old buildings, which cost millions to maintain. We rarely saw a cathedral without scaffolding and plastic to catch debris.

Minorities. Although there were many African Americans on our flight to Frankfurt, they must have all been going elsewhere for a holiday. I literally saw only Caucasians and Japanese in Europe. I know there are "guest workers" in Germany and Austria who are darker, but I didn't see them. A few security personnel in the airports looked exactly the same as in the United States. I saw only one or two people in wheelchairs (it would be extremely difficult in the cities we visited), and only one retarded person. You know what? I think I missed the diversity of our large cities (disclaimer: we have almost none in our suburb which is pretty WASPish). For all our complaints about political correctness, affirmative this and that, and immigration policies, we are still a nation that accepts everyone as a goal, even if we haven't reached it yet. As unemployment soars in Europe, I think we'll see increasing resentment against minorities who have never become citizens, and even those who have.

Smoking. May I say a big thank you to all those liberals who have pushed cigarettes and cigars out of our faces, and eliminated the stink from our clothes and hair. Oh, how quickly you forget how unpleasant it is to sit in a smokey restaurant, or even to sit or stand outside with something that smells like old dirty clothes smoldering. Pugh!

Television. We had TV in our cabins, and unless we were going through one of the 21 locks on the Danube, we had fairly decent reception. I would sometimes watch German programming while trying to fall asleep (time change you know). Did you know you can watch a home make-over in German and pretty much figure out what is going on? They seem to love something that looks like a Judge Judy show, only it appears to have actors, not real plaintiffs and defendants. One time while flipping through I found three running simultaneously. We could also get BBC and CNN International. So we kept up with Hurricane Rita. One of the oddest things I heard on CNN (which I rarely watch at home) was a comment and clip of President Bush warning people to evacuate and take safety. The commentators said he was responding much more quickly than he did with Katrina having learned from the government's poor response. But after the video clip of his warning, she said, "This is the same speech he gave to the people in the path of Katrina in late August." Now why a warning has more impact if he is in a suit and tie in DC than in boots and jeans in Crawford, I have no idea.

Part I: Our Wonderful Trip
Part II: Our Danube Cruise
Part III: Photos: Nuremberg
Part IV: Photos: Regensburg and Passau
Part V: Linz and Melk
Part VI: Photos: Durnstein and Vienna--under construction
Part VII: East Germany Lessons for us
Part VIII: What to wear on a cruise
Part IX: Dancing on the Danube

1529 Our Danube Cruise

Our tour was arranged by the University of Illinois Alumni Association through AHI (Alumni Holidays International) which was the host for our cruise on the Danube River from Nuremberg to Vienna. I must say, it is an outstanding tour company and we literally didn't have a worry in the world. Every little detail was taken care of, and the ship they hired, MS Switzerland, was outstanding with attentive staff, fabulous food, and lovely decor.

Our Campus Directors were Cecilia R. Berry a native of Hungary and resident of California who works for AHI and Robert A. Dalton, of England who is a private contractor. They were both outstanding, and as we floated down the Danube, other lecturers joined us providing information on German history and culture, German reunification and its political and economic implications, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Austrian education system. Particularly interesting was Dr. Hans Hillerbrand, a professor of religion at Duke University. He began his career as an exchange student in the 1950s at Goshen College in Indiana and is a well known author in the area of religion.

Here's the site and description from Notre Dame's Alumni.

"Once upon a time, Charlemagne dreamed of connecting the waterways of Europe into one vast thoroughfare from the North Sea to the Black Sea. The formidable engineering and political challenges this vision presented took nearly 1200 years to overcome. The Main-Danube Canal, one of the most impressive engineering feats of all time, was the realization of this dream and, since September 25, 1992, has linked an enchanting world of fairytale castles and cities steeped in tradition.

On this exciting journey through the heartland of the Bavarian Alps and the breathtaking Wachau Valley, you’ll marvel at spectacular natural beauty, well-preserved medieval charm and architectural splendor. You’ll traverse the Main-Danube Canal and the Danube River as you relax in comfort aboard the elegant M/S Swiss Pearl. You’ll explore historic Nuremberg, regal Regensburg, picturesque Passau, the Wachauer towns of Linz, amazing Melk and Dürnstein and of course classic Vienna!"

1528 We had a wonderful trip

but it is good to be home. Our daughter and son-in-law met us at the airport last night and offered to take us out to eat (their wedding anniversary). But we'd been up for about 20 hours, so we declined. She took home the pumpkin pie and topping she'd brought over. Maybe today. . .

I'll be writing more as I find my notes and thoughts. First a comment about airports. We saw many. Columbus, Chicago O'Hare, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Vienna, Munich. The only place I encountered rude staff with incomprehensible English was in Chicago!

I felt so sorry for one elderly Asian traveler at O'Hare trying to decipher verbal instructions. I would have taken him aside and in a gesture of American welcome and kindness helped him, but I couldn't understand a word the staff woman said. Elegant hairdo, long brilliant fingernails, and a spotless uniform, but not an understandable syllable or phrase of standard English. What a shame. Except there was that guy named Spencer where our passports were checked. He smiled, he was friendly, and he welcomed us home.

O'Hare was also our only experience with a delayed connection. Our international flight from Munich (Lufthansa) was within a minute of the scheduled arrival time. Our flight home had been coming in from Dallas and was redirected to Indianapolis. They scrambled to find another plane, and we were on the runway only 30 minutes late, then sat behind 26 others because it had been raining. Even so, in what must have been the shortest in air time I've ever had between Chicago and Columbus, we were only one hour late getting in.

Now, that's all out of my system, so on to happier thoughts to collect.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Signing off for awhile

While I'm gone, stop and read my archive column for Lakeside, Ohio stories and my recollections of long ago and far away. See you when we get back.

Lovely Wachau Valley

Beautiful Ogle County

Thursday, September 15, 2005

This one's for you--son

Take a look.

1525 Where will the Conference be in 2006?

The ever-liberal and sensitive-to-diversity American Library Association had planned to have its Conference in New Orleans in 2006. The listserv is providing a variety of views on whether it is appropriate to be worrying about that during this time of disaster and great need. Considering that many organizations in the past have opted to boycott cities that are not friendly to women or gays or labor unions, I'm wondering why ALA ever considered New Orleans in the first place. By anyone's standards it was a mess before Katrina--a tourist mecca served by the working class hovering above the poor, living in project housing. New Orleans not only had the French Quarter, great hotels and jazz, it had a huge poverty rate among black Americans with enormous racial divisions and income gaps among whites, blacks and mixed race. Crime was at crisis levels (endangering locals more than tourists), with bars on the windows of even modest homes. The state and local governments have historically picked the pockets of the poor and used them to build a political base by doling the money back to them. It was an environmental disaster waiting to happen, with layers of bureacracy, red tape and regulations that paralyzed everyone trying to fix it.

Just the poverty alone should have been a red flag to the conference planners, but they never noticed the problem until it showed up on Fox and CNN.

1524 The woman I never was

Nathan Bierma sends out a newsletter about language. The latest issue has an interesting item about the word "spinster." I got married so young I just completely missed that stage of womanhood.

"Endings: The word "spinster" will be retired by the British Government this December, after centuries of use as the official term for a woman who has never been married. The male counterpart, "bachelor," also will be shelved. The Registrar General currently uses these terms on marriage certificates to describe the previous status of newlyweds. But now that homosexual couples can enter into what the Government calls "civil partnerships," the Registrar General wanted terminology that could apply to gay couples. From now on, an unmarried Brit, regardless of sexual orientation, will officially be called a "single."

"Spinster" was first recorded in the 14th Century as the name for the occupation of spinning wool -- a job usually done by a woman. Eventually both the job and the name became so associated with unmarried women that the British Government adopted it in the 17th Century as the official title of an unmarried woman, according to the OED.

The word has never lost its connotations of social inadequacy that came, in centuries past, with being an unmarried woman beyond marrying age. "I can't feel the word is much of a loss," wrote British etymologist Michael Quinion in his World Wide Words newsletter (, adding it has been "a very long time since an unmarried woman referred to herself by this title in seriousness." " The article also appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

1523 Such a deal!

Couldn't have worked out better. Be totally unprepared for anything above a category 3 hurricane, don't get your poorest and most vulnerable out in time, create chaos by not allowing ngo's to provide food and water, and then when all that bad planning gets washed away, ask all the other citizens of the United States to pay for it.

Here's what Blanco asked for yesterday in a speech to the Louisiana Legislature on the Restoration of Southeast Louisiana.

"Governor Blanco left no doubt about what she expects of the federal government. That includes:

• Asking the federal government to cover 100 percent of what Louisiana will spend on this disaster – just as was done after 9-11.

• Significant financial help to rebuild homes and return our families.

• Tax relief and loans to keep our businesses afloat.

• An extension of unemployment benefits.

• FEMA to give priority to hiring Louisiana companies and Louisiana workers."

So if Alabama and Mississippi were only slightly less prepared, do they get this too? And Florida? What about Ophelia and the North Carolina coast. They're quite prepared, having learned some painful lessons from FEMA's failures in 1999.

1522 Money she brought home from Washington

Gov. Blanco got a lot of money to build a highway between Louisiana and Arkansas. Truthfully, she's no different than any other governor when it comes to highway pork (Alaska and West Virginia are the greased pig highway and bridge champions), but considering events of the past few weeks, I wonder how much that stretch of highway was needed?

"The money our delegation brought home from Washington and the state investment we secure today are big steps toward making the complete connection from Arkansas to New Orleans.

Our delegation’s hard work has resulted in funding through 2009.

Beyond this, I know they are committed to securing the funds we need to build those last few miles and I know Louisiana will have the investment we need to match that federal commitment." Blanco Speech August, 12, 2005

"Governing magazine recently increased Louisiana’s grade to a solid B for the way we run our government and manage our taxpayers’ money. Only seven states ranked higher."
Uh oh. Boy, are we in trouble! Her State of the State speech, April 25, 2005.

1521 Bait and Switch

Writing and publishing were required in my job--and I loved it. Seeing my name in print in journals I respected was nice--but not wonderful enough for me to want to do it in retirement. I enjoy research and always did the appropriate amount and meticulously documented my conclusions. However, I usually "knew" my conclusions before I began the project. So when I saw journalist Barbara Ehrenreich being interviewed by Stephen Moore about her latest book "Bait and Switch" I wasn't too surprised by her conclusions that something is terribly wrong with our society because of her anecdotal evidence and personal prejudices proved that before she started her research. She says she was surprised that white collar, middle-class people with college degrees had trouble finding work, but her conclusion was that "they" (U.S. business?) were to blame. I wasn't surprised--I just don't agree with her method or her conclusion.

Here's her method. At 63, she changes her name and social security number and attempts to get a $50,000 job in marketing. She isn't successful. Are we surprised? Have you seen her? Have you seen people who usually go into marketing and PR? This woman looks like her face would fall off if she smiled! She looks like me when I'm deep in thought. She was quite combative with the interviewer who was from the Wall Street Journal (you can watch it on C-Span Book TV on streaming video), and I'm wondering how she thought she'd come across in a personnel interview in corporate America. She admits she was "acting." Does she think personnel officers (human resource managers?) are so inexperienced they can't spot that? So she tries an image coach, who sounds like an idiot and an image consultant, but still doesn't get a job. She admits she had no "network," and actually, that's a serious weakness for many women. I'm guessing from her attitude and career track, she's a bit of a loner. "Maybe I did it wrong, but I did what other people are doing," she sighed.

The interviewer pointed out the "BS" factor in the people who were making money trying to coach her into a position (for which she was completely unsuited). He suggested that the problem was "you were trying to be someone you were not." "So what" was her attitude about smiling. She missed it, didn't she? Being in marketing or PR is not about smiling. It's about personality, drive, depth, understanding the market, training, skills, and having a lot of contacts--maybe hundreds--attending sporting events, symphony, church, being on boards and committees until you think you can't attend another meeting.

Her advice for someone looking for work: "Be careful how you spend your money--it's mind games, new agey nonsense (referring to career coaches)." "Support and self-help groups don't really give a person a chance 'to tell their stories.'" She wanted out of work people to form warm fuzzy support groups and also lobbying groups. She whined about "corporate conformity" in clothing, and tried to argue with Mr. Moore who actually does work in the corporate world, when he denied a dress code. It made me wonder if she has walked the streets of any U.S. city or halls of academe and seen the awful outfits people wear, particularly women. Try church if you really want sloppy.

She refused to acknowledge the validity of Mr. Moore's statistics that countered hers--she was terribly full of "yes, buts." Her only answers for out-of-work people were for more government involvement--universal health insurance and longer unemployment benefits. How does that create one job--which was her other chord--too many jobs being lost. He decimated her points about Europe's employment picture and she just poohed-poohed them. "Well, they haven't accepted a low-wage economy. . . they have strong unions." Completely ignored the sky rocketing unemployment caused by all these features she wants in American businesses. But she was against Bush's plan to make workers more secure with their own retirement accounts (which she admits on air she knows little about--but she's against it).

We know several men ranging in age from 40-55 who are out of work and well educated--exactly her theme. They all want the same thing--well-paid, secure positions, outside the area in which they've worked, areas which have caused burn-out and failure for them. Any colleague, friend or relative could tell them what they are doing wrong and make suggestions on how to change. They will not, cannot listen. They have the same "Yes, but" attitude that Ms. Ehrenreich threw back at Mr. Moore's suggestions.

I haven't read "Bait and Switch" and probably won't. The interview was enough. I heard enough whining and sighing when I was employed.

1520 Why could Florida respond and other Gulf states couldn't?

Florida had disaster teams in Mississippi and Louisiana before those states' responders did. Why? How? Preparation. Planning. Learning from the past.

"And how Louisiana and Mississippi officials have handled Hurricane Katrina is a far cry from what emergency managers here [Florida] would have done. Mississippi was in the middle of rewriting its disaster plan when Katrina struck. Officials there were still analyzing what went wrong during Hurricane Dennis earlier this year when Katrina overtook them. Search teams from Florida were rescuing Mississippi victims before law enforcement officers there were even aware of the magnitude of the disaster.

Louisiana also lacked an adequate plan to evacuate New Orleans, despite years of research that predicted a disaster equal to or worse than Katrina. Even after a disaster test run last year exposed weaknesses in evacuation and recovery, officials failed to come up with solutions."

Read the whole article here.

1519 Don't know much about geography

What a wonderful world it would be if Europeans would read a geography book sings Jane Galt. Megan McArdle “is sickened by the smug response of some Europeans to this tragedy: their gladness that it has taken Bush down a peg, their overweening belief that this somehow happened because Americans just aren't as nice or as smart as Europeans are. Of course, Europeans have no way of knowing how they'd do in such a disaster, because they have no storms like Katrina, no earthquakes like Northridge, no rivers like the Mississippi . . . but somehow that doesn't seem to stop some of them from being sure that the ability of their police to stop 40 or so football yobs from rioting translates perfectly into an ability to handle the displacement of 500,000 people when even the police have no water, food, gas for their cars or power for their radios.”

She lists five items about our geographic, climatic and demographic differences that Europeans [and Americans] need to consider when criticizing the hurricane response. Might be nice if some librarians providing misinformation were aware of a few of these facts too.
Asymmetrical Information

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

1518 The Five stages of Crisis Management

begins with denial, says Jack Welch in an article in today's Wall Street Journal. Then comes Containment; then Shame-mongering. Fourth stage is blood on the floor, and finally we get to something better in the rebuilding and final stage. Whole article here.

I suppose he could be talking from experience, not as a CEO but a very public divorce and remarriage.

1517 Ophelia and Floyd

Five months ago when we were planning our trip to Germany we needed to decide our airport for the international flight. Remembering that September is hurricane season, and recalling the devastation of Floyd that changed our vacation plans in September 1999, I voted for Chicago O'Hare instead of Charlotte. It's a lovely airport and is a much easier place to be making a transfer, but not during hurricane season.

Floyd caused such devastation in 1999, particularly to the agricultural areas of North Carolina. I still remember seeing lagoons of dead pigs, cattle and chickens. Those of us on the Veterinary Medicine listserv were dashing messages back and forth trying to locate colleagues. Many people were killed and displaced, and two years later there was still controversy about how the recovery money was being spent. President Clinton preempted the governors of several states causing a lot of political wrangling. Over 2 million people were evacuated and there was general chaos, much of it blamed on FEMA. Again, it was the rain and the flooding not the hurricane that caused the worst economic damage, and people all up and down the coast suffered. I see that a number of conservative bloggers are now bringing up the Clinton Administration's poor response to that storm. Just Google "Floyd Clinton FEMA" if you are interested. I'm just thankful I will be flying out of O'Hare, my least favorite airport in the country.

1516 Just Staying Alive

"I think for the most part people have just been trying to stay alive," said Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. "They've been waiting for rescuers. They've been on top of buildings, all the rest of it. They have not been there trying to figure out what to steal. They've been trying to stay alive." Jefferson is quoted on on Sept. 2.

Then on September 13, ABC reported that Jefferson had diverted some resources that same day from rescuing people from rooftops to go to his home and removed some of his property.

“Military sources tells ABC News that Jefferson, an eight-term Democratic congressman, asked the National Guard that night to take him on a tour of the flooded portions of his congressional district. A five-ton military truck and a half dozen military police were dispatched.
Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard tells ABC News that during the tour, Jefferson asked that the truck take him to his home on Marengo Street, in the affluent uptown neighborhood in his congressional district. According to Schneider, this was not part of Jefferson's initial request.”

“The water reached to the third step of Jefferson's house, a military source familiar with the incident told ABC News, and the vehicle pulled up onto Jefferson's front lawn so he wouldn't have to walk in the water. Jefferson went into the house alone, the source says, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour.”

“Finally, according to the source, Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, three suitcases, and a box about the size of a small refrigerator, which the enlisted men loaded up into the truck.”

He then refused a ride on the helicopter and another truck needed to be sent to get him. Tying up that many rescue resources certainly shows the depth of his concern, doesn‘t it.

1515 License photo

My birthday is coming up so I needed to renew my driver's license. I thought nothing could be worse than my last DL photo. I was wrong.

1514 A filibuster?

I've been busy getting ready for a trip and have only listened with one ear to the Roberts' hearings. But I did get a chuckle out of someone accusing him of filibustering. Biden? The Senators ask these insanely long questions using up big chunks of their allotted time, and then go all legalistic, naggy and self-righteous when he hands it right back to them with. . . long, complex answers. And can't that Dianne Feinstein just put you to sleep?

1513 Parroting Rush

Yesterday a reader accused me of "parroting Rush." I have on occasion listened to Rush Limbaugh, usually if I happen to be in my car in the afternoon. And I listen more often to 15 minutes or so of Glenn Beck in the morning. But like most liberals, this particular reader seems to think Rush has a lot of power--I couldn't possibly, after having been a Democrat for 40 years myself, have noticed any of the successes and shortcomings of those years. I've often said that I wouldn't own a home on Lake Erie if I'd waited for Republicans to push to clean it up. But that doesn't mean that now I'm going to try to destroy business and agriculture and return all Ohio, Michigan, New York, etc. to the pristine wilderness it was before all the evil Europeans arrived.

The other morning I was listening to 1230 in my car instead of 620 and came across an Air America Progressive Talk (for those of you outside the U.S. that is a fledgling left wing a.m. corporation funded by liberals and already in ethics and funding trouble). So I listened to see if left wing radio had anything to offer. Nope. It was mainly hype with very little information. If all I wanted from radio was emotion, entertainment and hyperbole (and this is where Beck wears a little thin), I suppose AA radio could be a choice, but if I'm going to listen to talk radio, I'd prefer more depth. After the jokes and loud bumper music, I'd want something solid. So I listen to those left coast guys at my computer on KRLA 870 instead.

Money is money to capitalists. Even the giant Clear Channel, home to so much right talk, is offering some Air America shows. Is this a great country or what?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

1512 Women can stop poverty

As the nation and world watched "poor blacks" (as liberals called them) gathering after Katrina, some of us noticed something else. Mostly, we saw women and children. Young women, old women; thin women, fat women; women in groups, women alone; healthy women, disabled women; well dressed manicured women, and shabby, ill-kempt women. Poverty in New Orleans and anywhere else in the USA is in the control of women, because it only takes three things to wipe out most systemic poverty. 1) Finish high school, 2) get married before starting a family 3) have your first child after age 21. Very few women who do this live in poverty. If they build a good marriage, they have a solid economic base; if the marriage fails, they are better prepared to face adversity with an education. They will be better role models for their daughters. The Democrats would lose their political base if serious inroads were made by black women in controlling their own destiny rather than looking to Uncle Sam to be a negligent step father. This is why for the last 40 years the War on Poverty has been preaching not abstinence, marriage and education, but more money for more programs to help the poor stay poor. As New Orleans rebuilds, you won't hear any politician, local, state or federal, say "our old programs to help the poor failed," they'll just say they were underfunded, like the levees.

Update to my comment: Dan Quale was right.

William Galston, once an assistant to President Clinton, put the matter simply. 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. And their lives did not improve if their mother had acquired a stepfather. See the article by James Q Wilson in City Journal. These statistics do not apply just to blacks.

1511 They may never

get around to reporting in the MSM why the Red Cross and Salvation Army didn't aid the evacuees trapped in the Superdome and the Convention Center worries the Anchoress. Some people are still saying, "If it is true. . ." however, you can go to the FAQ page at the Red Cross site and they tell you why. And the Director Marty Evans has been on national TV and has reported it. It's sort of old news, so I'm not sure why the MSM would say anything at this late date. I reported it on my blog on September 6, and I checked the page after seeing her on Fox and she was also on Larry King on CNN. I'd call that MSm at least (small media since it isn't the NYT). I'm guessing it has also been in the Wall Street Journal, although I haven't diligently checked it. The page says:

"Acess [sic] to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city."

Every authority noted in the FAQ, "National Guard", "local authorities" and "state Homeland Security Department" clearly explains this was not FEMA at fault (although it may be in their training guidelines). Considering the chaos that erupted after the flooding brought more people to the already full facilities, it's possible that this decision, while it looked awful on TV, was the best they could do at the time.

Obviously, the whole situation would have looked very different to the world if cameras had shown immediate relief in the heat while people waited for buses. And we'll never know if that immediate relief might have made the situation worse by bringing people back in. The locals believed it would and THEY made the call.