Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thank you, thank you, Mr. President

As I read the year end article on science breakthroughs in the paper yesterday I could only whisper a Thank You to George W. Bush for holding the line on embryonic stem cell research. Perhaps you've forgotten, but that issue became a subplot in the 2004 election. Like the Iraq War, stem cell research was off the political agenda in 2008. GWB held out.

    "In an effort to cause the country to abandon this conviction [ethical principles], some advocates of the research, including nearly every prominent Democrat in Congress, have made reckless and irresponsible promises, offered false hope to the suffering, depicted their opponents as heartless enemies of science, and exploited sick people for crass political gain." Link.
It's not illegal in the U.S., never has been, to experiment on human embryos, to wallow up to your knees and soul in a bioethical swamp that hasn't been drained. But it wasn't expanded with government money during the Bush years. And then. The break through that only PETA extremists could quibble about (originally done in mice).
    "A crescendo of discoveries pushed stem cells from the lab dish to news headlines this year. Only two years ago, a Japanese research team led by Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University announced a method for turning mouse skin cells into unspecialized ones that resembled embryonic stem cells, prized by biomedical researchers for the potential to turn into any kind of tissue. This year, teams made use of the discovery in human cells to earn "Breakthrough of the Year" status from Science magazine. For the first time, two teams created families of induced pluripotent cells — unspecialized cells derived from specialized cells — from patients suffering 11 different diseases, including Parkinson's disease and juvenile diabetes. And a team led by Harvard's Doug Melton demonstrated "lineage switching" in a Nature journal study, switching ordinary kidney cells into specialized tissues that produce insulin in mice. The end goal of cell reprogrammers is to create immune-system-friendly transplant tissues for patients." USAToday
Now we won't have to have colonies of poor women farming their eggs, and Bush has saved the Democratic Party from yet one more accolade of being the party of death, already enthusiastic about abortion and euthanasia for the less than perfect, the poor, the elderly and the handicapped.
    "In one fell swoop the politics of the issue shifted, says Ramesh Ponnuru, a harsh critique of the Democrats' stem cell policy and author of "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life." "I am not surprised to see that politicians running for office on the Democratic side are talking about this issue less because there is not as much profit to it anymore," Ponnuru said. Democrats had downplayed the possibility that adult stem cells could be used as an alternative. They argued instead that embryonic cells represented the cutting edge of science. "Now that same argument can be turned against them," Ponnuru said. "If they want to go based on clinical results, adult stem cells are better. If they want to go based on which has more promise, these (new) alternatives are better." Link
Thank you again, Mr. President. So your Treasury guy was a bust--you still saved a lot of lives.

The unfairness doctrine

If it were up to me, and it is because I change stations or channels, I'd eliminate these guys from the airways and TV screens of America
    Anderson Cooper

    Chris Matthews

    Larry King

    The View

    Charlie Rose
Mostly it's just their liberal twaddle--global warming, health scares, what's wrong with our culture--that makes little sense because they spew sound bites we've been hearing for 30 years. But Larry and Charlie just look worn out and bored; Anderson takes himself way too seriously; Chris shouts; the View insults women's intelligence. I know some of you enjoy this, so it's OK by me if advertisers and consumers want to support them. I can change channels. And I expect you to do the same when my favorites come up and not legislate/regulate them off the air.

Great Orators of the Democratic Party

Via Best of the Web.
    • "One man with courage makes a majority."--attributed to Andrew Jackson

    • "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."--Franklin D. Roosevelt

    • "The buck stops here."--Harry S. Truman

    • "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."--John F. Kennedy

    • "I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party. I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor."--Caroline Kennedy
Off teleprompter, she's as good as Obama and most of us. She can hire a speech writer for the big events. I think she meets all the constitutional requirements for office even though she has rarely voted and hasn't contributed much except her name to local or national candidates who will fawn all over her. That gives her a cleaner record than most pols. She's no Sarah Palin, but maybe she's a fast learner.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One more week to see the Blue Shoes Art Show

If you'll be attending the New Year's Eve Jazz Service at The Upper Arlington Lutheran Mill Run campus on December 31, walk up to the second floor gallery area and enjoy the Fairfield Blue Shoes MRDD exhibit, hosted by the Visual Arts Ministry of UALC and promoted by Cheryl Fey, art director with Blue Shoe Arts, who said the self-taught artists receive all the money their art brings in, minus the cost of their supplies. Cheryl is such fun to talk to--a woman with a mission and a heart for God's special people.

These are some of the most delightful, colorful paintings we've ever exhibited. We fell in love with the first one, Noah's Ark--notice the animals are sea sick. I would have never thought of that! We bought it. One of the disadvantages of being in that ministry is we keep buying more art, and because we both also paint, we are getting a bit cluttered here at home.

The second photo shows some wonderful butterflies--want to guess what their bodies are made of? Salt shaker caps. The third one has almost perfect perspective and is an orchestra. There are so many things to see in this painting you could look at it for hours. Click to enlarge.

Reminder: The Mill Run Campus is now closed on Friday and Saturday to save energy costs. So if you want to see the show, check it out on Thursday, or on Sunday if you attend services there.

Your health savings account

If you've got some money left in your HSA you'll lose at the end of the year, you might take a look at your booster and vaccine record. Thursday when we were at our son's for Christmas, my husband went to pick up his cat Edy and move her over and she bit him--really chomped down hard. Edy was a feral kitten and although she seems quite loving and friendly, she occasionally returns to her wild behavior, and that hand apparently looked suspicious. Animal bites are very dangerous because you can't clean a puncture wound. Only a human's mouth is worse. This article in JAVMA about the danger of animal bites is a bit dated on dollars and stats, but accurate. All pets will bite, especially male dogs biting male children. Just never say never. My husband isn't threatening and likes cats, but the cat saw he was sitting on her territory (the couch) and she wasn't about to be moved. He had had his tetanus shots for Haiti, but that won't clear the bacteria from her mouth. The next day his hand and wrist started to swell and redden from fingers, heading for the elbow. Of course, it was a holiday week-end for the doctors. But we got a 10 day dose of an oral antibiotic called in and the cellulitis and inflammation are retreating. Get attention immediately if this happens to you or your children.

However, our daughter and son-in-law, during the discussion of options, apparently weren't up on their shots, so today they were both off to get boosters and vaccines to use up their HSA before they loose their 2008 balance. A good use of the money if you have any left in your account. You never know where an Edy might turn up.

Cat bite wounds

Are you making New Year's Resolutions?

In January 2006 I made a quasi-resolution to get back into my painting. We'd spent several weeks cleaning and decluttering and I had a new workspace with natural north light. I still haven't used the new area I set up described in this blog. But today I got an e-mail from Mindy Newman about the Tuesday watercolor workshop at the UA Senior Center. I'm there on Tuesdays anyway serving lunch, so that might be a good deal. $10 a class, walk-in, in case you're interested. Mindy's a fun teacher. She's especially outstanding with beginners, so even if you've never picked up a paint brush, she'll find you have talent. I'll add it to my "maybe-a-resolution list" I'm working on a Thursday Thirteen Reveal. This is just the advertisement.

This photo has appeared several times, but since I mentioned my premiere issue collection blog yesterday, that's what is on the bottom two shelves. That too should be one of my resolutions--if I were to make any, that is. When I was looking at the Stampington web site yesterday I see that it is coming out with a new magazine about aprons! So I'll have to watch for it to add to my collection. My sewing memories blog gets a lot of hits about aprons.

Since this photo was taken, I've bought several pretty storage boxes which help keep them in place. I can still see the titles, but it puts a little color on the shelves. Can't do that in libraries.

And all those books. Just look at them! Some belonged to my great grandfather. If I were to make any New Year's resolutions, I might make one about reading some of my books. I got new glasses yesterday. That should help. The new glasses (they should be called plastics since they aren't made of glass anymore), or my new eyewear was returned 4 times. I think these are keepers. I went back to the original frames I had during the Italy trip. Turns out it wasn't the frames afterall--the prescription was wrong.

And then there are all the oldies but goodies: eat right, exercise more, try new recipes, keep my desk clean, brush the cat, yada, yada.

Ask a Librarian

As I was leaving Panera's this morning, I told the counter clerk I was having my carpet cleaned today, and I told her the story of my old carpet on Abington looking like new when we were getting ready to sell. The man waiting for his shopping bagful of bagels asked me his name, so I told him, Jim Tuthill, and he asked the clerk for a pencil. Then I told the clerk who had been having a problem with her car and driving a friend's car to work to take it to my son at Jack Maxton Quick Service Plus, and the guy waiting for his bagels wrote that name down too.

Update: Wow. You should see my carpets. This guy is fabulous. We paid him more than he asked for, it looks so good (and because he's so reasonable you can do that). I had triple vacuumed everything yesterday to try to get all the cat hair, but he dug out handfuls of the stuff. And she's just an itty bitty 6.5 lb kitty. The white carpet is white again; the forest green is glowing; and the pale green is pale; and the bright blue is bright. Not much can be done for the stairs--they are carpeted in a brown/white patterned wool, and it is starting to wear. Now imagine all this with brown walls, red walls, orange walls, lemon yellow walls, and bright blue walls the way it was in 2002. And the floral drapes. Oh yes, we were the color clowns--or they, the decorator guys who lived here, were. We looked like HGTV--3 shows worth at least.

Monday, December 29, 2008

And now for a change of pace

The carpet cleaner is coming tomorrow. We have white carpet against brown marble floors. And it hasn't been cleaned since we moved here in 2002. So today, while blowing my nose (I have a cold), I'm scurrying around trying to get piles of this and that off the floor. He will work around the furniture, but most likely not boxes and piles of books. So when I removed the debris from under my office couch, I found a stack of premiere issue magazines awaiting description in my other, other blog, called In the Beginning. So if you want to see a blog that probably is not like any others you've read, go there. I added three entries today, but there are nine still on top of my desk, and several hundred more calling to me upstairs. It's an odd hobby, but someone had to do it. Actually, other people do--people in the magazine business, but my blog has my special touch--opinion and no ads. I don't remember why I thought it was a good idea now. They can really take over a place.

The Party's Over

On September 19 Patrick Buchanan posted a very good article on what has happened to our economy, titled, "The Party's Over." For the most part I agree.
    “Government must save us!” cries the left, as ever. Yet, who got us into this mess if not the government — the Fed with its easy money, Bush with his profligate spending, and Congress and the SEC by liberating Wall Street and failing to step in and stop the drunken orgy?

    For years, we Americans have spent more than we earned. We save nothing. Credit card debt, consumer debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, corporate debt — all are at record levels. And with pensions and savings being wiped out, much of that debt will never be repaid.

    Our standard of living is inevitably going to fall. For foreigners will not forever buy our bonds or lend us more money if they rightly fear that they will be paid back, if at all, in cheaper dollars.

    We are going to have to learn to live again without our means.

    The party’s over."
I'd add to that, the insane belief that home ownership, fueled by the CRA hoodlums through 3-4 administrations, Fannie Mae and Barney Frank, is a "right." Or that it is even an "investment." It's only an investment if you rent it to someone for a profit. Otherwise, it's a place to live. Then next, I'd hang Hank Paulson up by his thumbs for bailing out the banks with fewer guidelines (voted for by both presidential candidates) than we give children on how to spend money from the tooth fairy. But Pat wrote this in September and probably in his wildest dreams didn't see the collection plates that would be passed between the aisles of Congress.

Also, this article is whizzing around the internet under the name of Linda Monk. I don't know how her name got attached to it--but she's probably more famous now. Any way, Pat Buchanan wrote it. Check his web site. He's a libertarian, a Catholic, and he doesn't like Bush.

Democrats haven't denied this explanation

It's been over a week. This interview explained the bi-partisan support for Bush

who has kept us safe since 9/11 even with the flawed intelligence he inherited. So if you have problems with the terrorist surveillance program, write your Democratic Senator or Representative. The rest of us should stop buying the New York Times whose owners and editors leak information to our enemies.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Christian bailout of 2008

"If 2008 is remembered as the year of the “bailout,” when the federal government spent billions to rescue the nation’s financial system, it should also be recalled for another kind of bailout—Christians with impeccably pro-life records who suddenly abandoned what they declared to be a sinking ship." Touchstone

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Code in my node

Down for the count. Really miserable with a winter cold, but I made it through Christmas. I've switched a social engagement so I don't have to host in a germy house on Sunday; we have one Hormel heat and eat in the cupboard (they are wonderful according to my husband) and we got carry out pizza last night. I have a few leftovers from Christmas Eve still in the frig, but after today, someone will need to go shopping.

My husband's gone off to spend his gift certificates at Dick Blick, which is also having an after Christmas sale. I've been admiring my 10 volumes of Westminster Pulpit by G. Campbell Morgan, although I'm only opening them, not reading. My eyes don't seem to be focusing.

This would have been a good day to go for a walk--it's supposed to be in the 60s. And in some places in the city gasoline is $1.29--so a good day for a drive too, for all those after Christmas specials (which I'm missing).

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Christmas card

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be married to an artist, someone who has consistently been kind, thoughtful, considerate and creative for 50+ years. I didn't get a dual bag vacuum cleaner, but I did get a very nice, hand made Christmas card. It's the only blogger award I've ever received, and since he doesn't use the computer, he only reads what I print out.

Then he also painted a watercolor version of this, which now hangs in my office. There have been many "do not enter" signs on his office door in the last few weeks.

Consider your year-end gifts carefully

Choose a worthy cause, like "Sponsor and save a lifestyle."

Double whammy if you’re 70.5

President Bush has signed legislation that will temporarily suspend the penalty for seniors who fail to take the required minimum distribution from IRA and employer retirement accounts in 2009, but you’ll still need to do the required distribution for 2008--and that’s based on your fund balance at the end of 2007. Not good, folks, not good. Imagine this (and I know you can with little trouble). Congress, particularly Democrats, with Hank and Ben leading the charge, just had to rush through that horrendous September bailout which was supposed to create more credit from banks so they could help business. At least, that’s the way we were told it would work. But so far, all that’s happened is a run on the government for more bailouts, from the auto industry to universities to home builders. And the lending institutions have continued to give their year end bonuses and perks. But those mental midgets we elected just couldn’t figure out a way to rush through a plan to change the wording in the 2008 requirement--the year a lot of us lost 40-50% of the value of our accounts. How tough would it have been to change 70.5 to 71.5 or 72.5? I'm not sure this is the best source, but I'm going with it now because it doesn't require registration. Full text of HR 7327 here, but use your "find" command (control F) with the word "retirement" to get to the correct section.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

No surprise here--NY Times lies about President Bush and covers for Clinton

In fact, the Times' article ignored a wealth of its own reporting, dating back to the era of Bill Clinton, whom the article mentioned only once, in passing.

For example, in September 1999, the Times noted that, "Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stockholders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits."

The 1999 piece went even further:

"In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times," the Times noted presciently. "But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's."

Likewise, the Times made no mention over the weekend of President Clinton's aggressive deregulation of the financial services industry, which empowered banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies to engage in some of the very practices -- such as credit default swaps -- that contributed most to the current fiscal crisis.

While the Times mentioned that mortgage bankers and brokers donated almost $850,000 to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, the newspaper omitted the fact that the top three recipients of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and its sister organization Freddie Mac over the last two decades were all Democrats.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, head of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; President-elect Barack Obama; and Bush's 2004 opponent John Kerry all benefited from Fannie and Freddie.

Asked to respond to the White House criticism, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said Sunday's article "was based on on-the-record interviews with dozens of current and former (Bush administration) officials."

"It is part of an ongoing series that examines in-depth the accountability of numerous players in the economic meltdown, including Congress, rating agencies, brokerage houses and the Fed," Keller said.

Merry Christmas

Let's not forget the other babes

After Herod got word that there was a Jewish baby born recently, "king of the Jews" who could be a threat to his power, he decreed that all male babies under the age of two should be murdered [Matthew 2]. "Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more." It's a sad, sad story from history. But so is this--a leader, a king maker like no other we've ever had, not because of his color, as some want to think, but because he's the first president openly and proudly hostile to the unborn, our future:
    "Despite some Catholics’ claims to the contrary, the new president’s approval of legalized abortion is unmistakable. Unlike Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry, Barack Obama refused to make even verbal gestures toward compromise or nuance during the presidential campaign. The flatfooted line he delivered at the Saddleback Forum—that a decision about when life begins is “above my pay grade”—proved that he has internalized the peculiar logic of Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which cast laws against abortion as government’s unconstitutional intrusion into private metaphysical decisions. But his earlier line that he didn’t want young women “punished with a baby” proved that he has also internalized what stands behind those decisions: a worldview in which life is not a gift but a burden to be shouldered only when we will." First Things

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We both laughed

My husband is the flowers and jewelry for gifts type--if I ever got an appliance as a gift I probably requested it. Like the year he gave me a laptop. I returned it--didn't like it, but the one I bought (half the price) hasn't been all that reliable. But some men may not be amused. Well written and acted, though.

This ad is ubiquitous

It's at every blog, news source, and on-line product I see. "My Teeth are Finally White." Not once did I bite--so I have no idea what would come up if I clicked.

I drink a lot of coffee and tea, and my teeth are definitely not white. I notice it in most people my age. Think about it. If you expose anything to the chemical make-up of food and saliva for many decades, you'll have staining, whether it's your brick walkway, a ceramic sink or your own teeth. I think I've found a solution. I've started wearing lipstick again. Had only used it occasionally for probably 30 years. Sure, it's an optical illusion, but it works.

And so, it is Christmas Eve Day. The temperature here in Columbus is 39 degrees, it rained during the night, so I'm hoping the ice build up is gone. I haven't left for the coffee shop yet, hoping a few more early travelers will clear the roads for me.

We'll have a casual dinner here with the children tonight--soup and sandwiches--then church, and tomorrow we'll go to Canal Winchester to our son's home. His handsome face and mellifluous voice were on TV yesterday, as he was interviewed about an unhappy event. For the second time in 6 weeks someone has died in front of his place of work in an auto accident. He and some fellow workers rushed out to help, but it was too late. Then a nurse stopped to help. God bless the Good Samaritans of this modern age. Two elderly women, one dead, one in critical condition according to the news. You almost pray that she expires without waking up--they were 81 year old twins, we heard. They've probably spent their lives together, sharing and caring, and so it was perhaps at the end.

Our purple and green bureaucracy

As the New Yorker cartoon by Frank Cotham says, “It’s always cozy in here. We’re insulated by layers of bureaucracy.”

Red state or blue, green bureaucrats are pure gold for large companies--Goldman Sachs and General Electric, for instance--they help regulate the little guy out of competition. Even back when I was a liberal writing about supermarket coupons and sweepstakes (1983), I noted that the best and biggest offers came from the largest food companies, and eventually through the cooperation of the penny pinching consumer, would put the small companies out of business and then raise prices.

Forward looking green businessmen like Henry Paulson (our Bush Secretary of Treasury who helped design our current bailouts) and his partner Al Gore (our Clinton vice president) in GIM will get rich from imaginary carbon footprints and cap and trade points. Both will lead a lifestyle of wealth and privilege the rest of us can only imagine, with you and me footing the bill, and Joe Biden leading cheers assuring us he‘s looking out for the middle class tax payer.

But the poor will pay the most. The US poor are rich by the rest of the world’s standards, but even they will be hurt by the green quicksand that drags down the economy. It’s only when you’ve got the basics of life taken care of that you can turn your attention to taking care of the environment. It doesn’t make sense to spend billions of resources fantasizing about miniscule amounts of this or that in our food, water and air when millions around the world go to bed hungry or are unable to work, weakened by malaria through the hyper-vigilant actions of environmentalists fearing the death of a bird egg. There are thousands of non-profits, religious groups and think-tanks dependent on keeping us terrified and anxious about all the products, foods, building materials, and vehicles in our lives. They "earn" their salaries and research funding with government grants. Technically, they aren't on the government payroll, but they might as well be.

Our green bureaucrats will eventually destroy American auto manufacturers, those three companies they first built by reducing competition (did you ever wonder where the rest of them went?) or taxing them out of the industrial Midwest. First the jobs building automobiles went south, and then to overseas workers, to be shipped back to us. The newer angle is to force on us cars no one wants, built in plants that could only please a large union work force, supporting the medical bills of millions of UAW retirees for a few more years.

Dear readers, the men and women we’ve sent to Washington aren’t stupid; but at their deep purple heart of heart on the fringes, they are socialists. They may reach to extol Reagan, but they stand on the back of FDR. Government will own it all--and 2008 will be the watershed year. And for those officials of either party--staff, appointees or elected--it’s a paid-in-full ride to the end. When they retire, or are voted out, they hang around in Washington think tanks or their branches and become lobbyists, researchers, writers or conference organizers, but nothing changes.

Other than being larger, with a bigger budget, do you see anything different between the Clinton bureaucracy of 1998 and the Bush bureaucracy of 2008? And they’re all back through the revolving door, along with a few newer Chicagoans funded by the sheiks from the middle east who banrolled the Clinton.

When the deep purple falls
over green regulatory walls
And the stars begin to twinkle in DC—
In the mist of a memory
you wander back to me
Taking my taxes with a grin...

Not much justice here, move along

Seems to be a think tank in the tank for Obama and various "progressive" (socialist, marxist) causes. Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Willful, crusading ignorance

A janitor/student at IUPUI (Indiana) Keith John Sampson was charged with racial harassment by a co-worker for reading a book on his break time about the Klan. The book was actually anti-Klan, but all the woman saw was the word Klan. She didn't ask, just filed a complaint. The office of equal opportunity (one woman) found him guilty without ever looking at the book (Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan) and put the finding in his permanent record. This amazing story, and a very well made film about the incident is at the FIRE blog. Eventually, the president of IUPUI apologized to the student when it became national news through FIRE's effort, but the woman was promoted, and no faculty member ever came to his defense. It makes you wonder what country we're living in.

Let Caroline run

She couldn't do a worse job than her uncle, cousins, and other assorted in-laws who've married the Kennedy name and used it to climb the political ladders in their states. I don't think she's killed anyone; don't know if she's ever had a job, but that too isn't unusual for the elites who inherit wealth from a capitalist ancestor and then swing left. But she can't match Sarah Palin. There's no comparison in talent, experience, and guts. In a recent interview when asked about the vilification she got for being "common," not from the educated elite, she replied
    "But once the electorate knows what that candidate’s convictions are and positions are, I don’t think that matters. You just prefaced your question with the fact that I didn’t come from that ‘stock’. I got my education from the University of Idaho because that’s what I could afford. It was the least-expensive school that offered the programs I knew would benefit me in my future. My Dad was a school teacher and had four kids in college at about the same time. It didn’t occur to me to ask my parents to pay for my college education. We all worked through school and paid for schools that we could afford. I still got a great education. No, I don’t come from the self-proclaimed ‘movers and shakers’ group and that’s fine with me. It’s caused me, or rather, allowed me, to work harder and pulled myself up by my bootstraps without anyone else helping me. I think it allows me to be in touch with the vast majority of Americans who are in the same position that I am. That is desiring government to be on our side and not against us. And that means, in a lot of ways, for government to get out of the way to allow our families and our businesses to keep more of what they produce, to meet our own priorities." Interview
Caroline doesn't have bootstraps, but she's had to overcome a lot of losses in her life, and although I'd never vote for her, she's probably better qualified than the governor who will appoint her, and the various people claiming she's not qualified. Look what electing and appointing all those "qualified public servants" got us. You know, the ones with Fannie and Fred oversite, the ones taking bribes (at least she won't need to do that!), the ones who threw friends and relatives under the bus, the ones who do nothing but bring home the pork.

An updated carol

Seen at PUMA P.A.C. A sock puppet is someone who pretends to be someone else on the internet, but obviously they can be fakes in real life too as all those who trusted Bernie Madoff or Marc Dreir or even Barney Frank and Barack Obama (lots of lefties mad at him--just read PUMA PAC) found out.

Oxygen isotope ratios

Lynne Bell from the School of Criminology in Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and her colleagues analysed oxygen isotope ratios in the bones and tooth enamel in 18 of the sunken sailors of the Mary Rose, one of King Henry VIII's war ships. This analysis showed the men may have been from the Mediterranean area and probably didn't understand English, thus didn't get the command correctly during the battle with the French. This information on why children might need to understand standard English or you your stock broker in order to do well (not really, but one could make that argument) is found at the blog about Decoding the Heavens, by Jo Marchant, mentioned in the previous entry.

What happened to the women?

The modern women’s movement is dated from the late 60s or early 1970s. It sort of evolved from the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam war protests, I’m told. Women got tired of sleeping with, and making coffee for the movers, shakers, and criminal element, although some like Bernadine Dohrn went on to marry one. I can remember attending “consciousness raising” groups on the OSU campus--women sitting around, usually on the floor, discussing the various ways society or more specifically men had kept them from their potential or dreams, and how things would be different if women were in charge. More collaborative. Kinder. More team work. We were so radical we didn’t even serve snacks like church ladies.

Well, we’re about 40 years down the road. I’d like you to take a look at this very interesting video about the Antikythera Mechanism.

Never heard of it? Me either before today when the Nature video notice popped up in my e-mail. But, neither had some of the men in the video interview. It really is fascinating, and there are two parts. If you’re like me, you prefer to read, not watch, but watching does bring you up to speed a little faster than reading 2000 years of the history of science.

However, what I want to mention is the lack of women in this story, either ancient or post modern. You do see two women applauding one exhibit, but they could be wives or secretaries, or guests. No women are included in the story.

Not for a minute do I think women have been excluded the last 30 years--although possibly the years before. Nor will I say there aren't more women in the sciences than when I was young. Even so, more women than men were graduating from high school in my grandmother’s day, and that didn’t seem to give too many a career boost. Did we really need so much help if it comes naturally? In the last 30 years, there have been many workshops, special classes, special laws, special gendered regulations, speech codes, extra math anxiety classes for middle school girls (even when my 41 year old was in middle school), Title 9, and disinterested girls served at the expense of very interested boys. Yes, there are a few women who really take to math and science, who are willing to postpone all other gratification in order to get that A or that scholarship or that PhD, and then by-pass marriage and family so she can sit in a lab at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, but most don’t care to.

You’ve heard the old adage, it’s not paranoia if they are really out to get you? Well, it’s not discrimination if you really can’t or won’t do the job. I had an epiphany when I was about 16 or 17. It was during Algebra II class--virtually everyone who was planning to go to college was in that class. After our freshman year we began to split into certain groups, and I knew I was in over my head. Some took home-ec, office practice and shop or ag, and some went the other way (don’t remember what it was called, but something about college). It wasn't rigid like European schools--in fact, we had little or no counseling as I recall. Someone signed your choice and you were in.

These days someone would jump to my rescue and say I had “math anxiety” and I would be assigned to a special group. I even called it that during most of my adult life. I’d make many excuses--and it was true, I surely was anxious as I saw the numbers and letters swimming and scooting around with little squiggles and making no sense whatsoever the way geometry had. Rather than sit there and watch my classmates all succeed where I would fail, I made a detour and transferred to a psychology class. I could have asked for help--we had great teachers; I suppose I could have even had tutoring, the fact remains I didn't. If it would have mattered to me, if I'd loved math, I would have. I might have been anxious, but I wasn’t stupid. I just couldn’t make any sense out of algebra and moved in another direction.

Back to the video. Did you notice the elderly man in the video, the master instrument maker of medieval instruments, the one who’s to build the replica? Wearing hearing aids. Notice his delight at the computer model. Is there a woman out there of any age who could or would do either one? Design the replica or the computer model? Even with math anxiety counseling and middle-school workshops? Asian women, you say? Well, yes, far more than the Euro-women. But I scan a lot of photos of boards, awards, and special honors--the number of women at the top in any field (other than the ones men choose not to enter) is discouraging after 40 years of special help.

Still, a book about it might be doable for book club selection.

Why I don't read Time Magazine

The last time I read Time was during the time we spent in Finland in 2006, and I was desperate to read something in English so I bought the international edition. Biggest waste of $5 ever. And this? It's pathetic.
    "His genome is global, his mind is innovative, his world is networked, and his spirit is democratic," gushes Time magazine's David Von Drehle in his "Person of the Year" profile of Mr. Obama. Time betrays its parochialism by almost invariably choosing the American president-elect for the honor every fourth or eighth year. But although the selection of Mr. Obama was predictable, Time's choice for a cover is instructive. The Che Guevara-esque, eyes-to-the-far-distance portrait by "street artist" Shepard Fairey is a throwback to the magazine's earliest days, when hero worship was considered an honest form of journalism." At WSJ op ed on presidential monuments.
His campaign funding indeed had a global genome, and all we know about his world is what he wrote in his own autobiography, including his place of birth. But his innovative mind? He not only has an annoying stutter as he grasps for adjusting the facts, but he's forgetful of faces, names and dates. He barely knew Governor Blagojevich, Bill Ayers was a total mystery, Rev. Wright was just a guy in front of the church, Grandma was conveniently never available for an interview, and Farrakhan who?

Monday, December 22, 2008

A trip to No Man's Land

There's a scanned issue of The Gospel Messenger Supplement for Kansas at Brethren Archives. The Gospel Messenger used to be published in Mt. Morris, Illinois, which was a growing community with many German Baptist Brethren (renamed Church of the Brethren about 100 years ago), with a college and printing press located there. The supplement is dated May 15, 1888, and is all about encouraging the Brethren to move to the wonderful state of Kansas.

It's my recollection that the railroads owned huge tracts of land in the west they needed to sell, and a number of their salesmen were drawn from the Brethren who talked their fellow church members into moving west. I suppose it was missionary zeal combined with financial gain. There's an interesting map in the issue which shows Kansas bordering with territories, one labeled simply no man's land, not the United States. After extolling the virtues of the state--it was dry (no saloons), McPherson College had just opened (Brethren college), good soil, large numbers of Brethren within a day's ride, etc. I noticed this little item:
    "Any Brethren buying round trip tickets to Higgins, Tex. can without much difficult secure teams and visit Brethren in No Man's Land."
The Brethren publishing firm was originally private and moved to Mt. Morris from Lanark. The original publisher, M.M. Eshelman, failed and the founders of the college took over, D.L. Miller and Joseph Amick. They merged Brethren at Work with Primitive Christian of Huntingdon, PA, which is why you see both towns on the masthead, and renamed it Gospel Messenger. Then this private business was turned over to the church in 1896, which moved it to Elgin, IL in 1899 [all this is according to Mt. Morris Past and Present, 2nd ed. p. 221]. The building was purchased by the Kable Brothers who had already purchased a failed printing company.

When the Brethren split three ways, conservative, moderate and progressive, the progressives took the name "The Brethren Church," and the conservatives "Old German Baptist Brethren," which left the middle and largest group with no name. I'm quite sure that I've seen a poem in an issue of either the 1888 or 1889 issue of Gospel Messenger titled "What shall we name the baby?" or something like that, but I haven't been able to track it down. I'm sure it refers to naming the larger of the three groups.

Kansas and Kansans, 1918, with article on the Brethren.

Got a G.I. in your life?

G.I. Jobs might be worth a look. An Ohio company got high marks as a military-friendly employer, it was announced November 8, 2007
    AEP Recognized as Military-Friendly Employer for Fifth Consecutive Year.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- G.I. Jobs magazine is recognizing American Electric Power as one of the nation’s 50 most "military-friendly" employers for the fifth consecutive year. AEP is among only seven companies that have been named to the publication’s top-50 list each year since its inception in 2003.

    G.I. Jobs helps provide training and career opportunities for veterans and those in transition from military to civilian employment.

    This year’s honorees, including five electric utility companies in addition to AEP, were selected from a pool of approximately 2,500 corporations with annual revenues of at least $1 billion.
The December 2007 edition of G.I. Jobs, which features the list of military-friendly employers, can be accessed at and this press release at

It's a small, small world

This week I reconnected with my first piano teacher, a 17 year old (in 1949) from Forreston, IL. My college roommate enclosed our piano recital program in her Christmas card. There were the names of all the kids I went to school with--Leatrice, Darrell, Rosalie, Paul, Colleen, Harlan, J.D., Paul, Carolyn, etc. I really don't remember Miss T., but she must have been one ambitious teenager--my sister says she was also the choir director at the Reformed Church. But within 5 minutes through the miracle of the internet and her unusual surname and married name, I'd tracked her down. She'd grown up in Minnesota, and her name appeared on a school list (with her married name) and her year of graduation from Forreston High School and Hope College. Then I found her on Facebook, with a "friend" who had her last name, and I looked him up. He was a politician born in 1955, so I figured he was her son. Then I found her on a genealogy website under her married name looking for her birth name family. That gave me her e-mail. Five minutes. And she wrote back. Scary isn't it?

Then Sunday I was sitting in the church lounge before the 8:15 service with a woman I'd never seen (we have 9 services, so that's not unusual in our church). We chatted a bit about the cold. She had come early because her husband was in the choir and I was there early because I come at 7 a.m. to pray with the pastor before the service. We began sharing a few stories--she said she'd grown up in northern Ohio, I said northern Illinois.

"Where?" she asked.
"Mt. Morris," said I.
"You're kidding--I used to live there."

Mt. Morris is pretty small (ca. 2800), and sometimes I meet people, particularly librarians who have heard of it because of the magazine agency, or someone's mother went to college there. Once I met a guy in Indianapolis who lost his wife to an affair with a guy from Mt. Morris, but lived there? That's never happened. She lived there in the 1960s after I was gone, but knew a number of my classmates through church and extension. Still exchanges Christmas cards with some friends there.

It's a small, small world. On the internet and in the Lutheran church lounge.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our government schools

Seen at Grammar Vandal.

Just one big happy company trading in favors

According to Bloomberg:
    "Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which got $10 billion and debt guarantees from the U.S. government in October, expects to pay $14 million in taxes worldwide for 2008 compared with $6 billion in 2007.

    The company’s effective income tax rate dropped to 1 percent from 34.1 percent, New York-based Goldman Sachs said today in a statement. The firm reported a $2.3 billion profit for the year after paying $10.9 billion in employee compensation and benefits."
Ho, Ho, Ho. Merry Christmas. So we taxpayers, many of whom are now applying for unemployment checks or standing in a line of 937 for 10 jobs waiting tables, passed the hat for Goldman Sachs Christmas bonuses, which I'm sure were part of "compensation and benefits." Were no guidelines written into this give away package? The $18 billion bonus fund was set aside in 2007. Why didn't they use their own money for the bailout?

Couldn't Congress see this coming? Their own stimulus package so they can pay the mortgage on the multi-million dollar home and the 3rd Mercedes lease. Normally, I don't worry myself about bonuses, perks and salaries--unless I've loaned the company money or own stock in it. And I think I'm now an owner and should have a say in this one. What do you think?

Henry Paulson, the architect of these bailouts, and currently king of the world, is a former employee of Goldman Sachs and a partner with Al Gore in the next great ponzi scheme, cap and trade, a multi-million dollar business called, Generation Investment Management (GIM).

Al Gore might have invented the internet and a new religion, but he's not smart like Hank in money matters. GIM is part of the major carbon-credit trading firms that currently exist: the U.S. Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) and the Carbon Neutral Company (CNC) in Great Britain. The CCX, is a regulated exchange whose members are committed to cutting their emissions (all the big players are in it--Ted Turner, Kofi Annan, Gore's former chief of staff, Peter Knight, Canadian industrialist Maurice Strong). It is the only cap-and-trade system in North America for six greenhouse gases. Last September, Goldman Sachs bought 10% of CCX shares for $23 million. CCX owns half the ECX (European Climate Exchange), so Goldman Sachs has a stake there as well. See how neatly this works--and it is so bi-partisan, Republicans, Democrats, Americans, Canadians, Brits, Socialists and little 3rd world U.N. tyrants all working together, singing Kum-ba-ya around a non-polluting campfire.

Another former Goldman employee--18 years--is Obama's choice for a "sweeping overhaul" of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler. He probably had his cap set (no pun intended) on the SEC but has lost out the Mary Schapiro, head of FINRA, which was asleep at the switch in catching Bernie Madoff.

When Paulson was appointed in 2006 apparently two things on his side (to assure confirmation) was that 1) like most Goldman Sach CEOs he was "insanely wealthy", and 2) a committed environmentalist. Something for everyone.

For information on CCX, ECX, GIM, Hank and Al, see here, and here.

You also can't trust those Christmas carols

Some years ago I was told--probably during a sermon--that there weren't three wise men--there were three types of gifts to honor the new born king. So a 19th century minister came up with "We three kings of Orient are/ bearing gifts we traverse afar. . ." Then during Advent our senior pastor preached on the meaning of the carols, and I discovered the Bible doesn't say the angels sang. Nope. They said. Kind of takes the fun out of it, doesn't it? We think we're singing right along with the angels, and they weren't even humming! Also, the Bible doesn't say Mary travelled on a donkey either. Wow, that ruins a lot of Christmas cards and pagents, doesn't it?

Then this week I was listening to Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J. preach about St. Paul. It's apparently the 2000 anniversary of his birth--although they don't know exactly--and there was a special series on the sacraments. I listened to the one on baptism, and learned all sorts of things. Did you know Paul's letters in the New Testament are arranged by size? I didn't. The longest is first, so to look at what he said chronologically about baptism he cited 1 Cor 6:9-11, 12:12-13, Gal. 3:23-27, Romans 6:3, then Col. 2. Also he said St. Paul never spoke about Hell, never condemned anyone to go there, but Jesus spoke a lot about it. I guess I'd never thought about it before, and to think Paul gets all the bad press for being cranky. Along the way he mentioned that 8,000,000 Muslims in Africa convert to Christianity each year, and there's been a large increase among the Kurds. The sermon is about 48 minutes, and quite interesting, although I'm not sure why. He must have quite a following because he has his own web site and program on EWTN.

Given in the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Birmingham, AL on September 4, 2008. Part I: Baptism in Saint Paul's Writings

No bailout needed here for the abused client

Considering that SEC and FINRA moved not at all against Bernie Madoff despite their huge budgets and staff, despite tips he was running a ponzi scheme, I certainly stopped to ponder the justice of this rule violation for an architect:
    Rule 2.104 Code of Ethics for architects states:

    “Members shall not engage in conduct involving fraud or wanton disregard of the rights of others.”

    The Complainant and his wife retained Mr. Alexieff to design and prepare construction documents for an addition to their house. During the time that the project was being designed and constructed, Mr. Alexieff failed to renew his architectural license in the state where he practiced and where the project was located.

    The National Ethics Council ruled that Mr. Alexieff violated Rule 2.104 of the Code of Ethics by performing architectural services for the Complainant, including signing and sealing architectural drawings, without a valid architectural license. The Council concluded that the Complainant had a right to expect that the architect he retained was licensed and would maintain a current license throughout the duration of the project. The lapse in Mr. Alexieff’s architectural license was in wanton disregard of the Complainant’s rights because it created a high degree of risk that the Complainant would be adversely affected.

    The Council imposed the penalty of a three-year suspension of membership on Mr. Alexieff. AIArchitect This Week, Dec. 19
He doesn't renew his license and gets a 3 year suspension of membership. Bernie must have dotted all the i's and crossed his t's in order to fool both the outgoing Cox (SEC) and incoming Schapiro (FINRA to SEC). Reminds me of the Democrats here in Ohio dumping on former Gov. Taft for a golf game, then appointing a bunch of crooks under Strickland, like the "plumbers" and Dann.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

FINRA, Madoff, and Obama's SEC choice

"Mary Schapiro, Barack Obama's choice to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, previously appointed one of Bernard Madoff's sons to a regulatory body that oversees US securities firms.

It has emerged that in 2001, Ms Schapiro, now the chief executive of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), employed Mark Madoff to serve on the board of the National Adjudicatory Council - the division that reviews disciplinary decisions made by FINRA.

Last week, Mark and his brother, Andrew, were understood to have approached the authorities after their father apparently confessed to orchestrating a $US50 billion ($70.9 billion) securities fraud.

Bernard Madoff is under house arrest in his $US7 million Manhattan apartment and will be electronically tagged after he failed to secure further signatories to guarantee his $US10 million bail.

Both sons have emphatically denied any involvement in what could be the biggest fraud perpetrated by an individual.

However, the link with Mark may prove controversial for Ms Schapiro and the US president-elect, who has moved fast to replace Christopher Cox, the current head of the SEC.

The watchdog has already come under fire for failing to detect Mr Madoff's activities." Story link here, here, here, here and here.

In my opinion, her useless, ineffective term with FINRA who couldn't catch a thief if they stumbled over him unconscious, is a far more damning recommendation than her appointment of Madoff the Lesser. Makes no difference if she was in like flinn with Reagan and Bush and Clinton. She's much too tainted. FINRA and SEC both have to clean up the family tree and get rid of the incest.

Let's see. Obama's got a Secretary of State with huge financial obligations to the Saudis through her husband's library and foundation. He's got a Chief of Staff with fingerprints all over the Blagojevich appointment scandal. He's got a Secretary of Education that helped Bill Ayers with the Annenberg connection in the failing Chicago schools. Those three he knew about. This one probably caught him off guard. Gary Gensler who spent 18 years at Goldman Sachs, the ones who got a jump start on the bail outs in 2007, was under something in Treasury, he appointed to head Commodities Futures Trading Commission.

Sure is lots of hope and change coming our way folks.

Pig collagen and Truth in Aging

Jumping from an article about safety data and various cosmetic products and procedures at JunkFood Science, I was looking for "pig collagen" which is used for a wrinkle filler and I wondered if it was OK for Jews and Muslims, and that took me to Truth in Aging, which I've only just skimmed, but I do agree with this.
    . . .you practically need a degree in chemistry to decipher the label on a bottle of drug store moisturizer these days. Truth In Aging attempts to siphon out what really works and why, and deliver that honest truth to the consumer. I am dedicated to honest, unbiased reporting amidst claims that are often misleading and confusing. And, in all the noise, there are actually some good things out there that get missed because we are bewildered, jaded and/or cynical.
My "beauty regimen" extends to a shower, moisturizer, Merle Norman powder base foundation whisked across my face, a touch of rouge, and hair color about every 7 weeks. I use fat to fill out my wrinkles, and I do not look like I have implanted soccer balls inside my sweater. And clothes, of course, I wear. Even buy something new once in awhile. However, the products I've seen on this site will probably only be good for a laugh--like $130. My newest find was Jergen's with Shea Butter--love the smell--and it was probably about $5.

I see a lot of women my age with too much make-up--collects in the wrinkles and eyebrows--and the wrong color. We are no longer the fresh faced teens we were when we selected that rose or orange tone. Time for a reality check.

Gunk, Goo and Yuck

No, I'm not talking about Congress or Wall Street, but the trap under my office bathroom sink. I had noticed a slight odor, and asked my husband if he would release the stopper, because I couldn't figure out how to do it. Asking him to do it is just about as far as my plumbing ability goes. I watched my mother accomplish just about every household improvement and repair a non-journeyman worker could do. She painted, wall-papered, changed screens and storm windows, installed a bathroom, refinished furniture, caned chair seats, shoveled snow, mowed lawns, and made the best apple sour cream pie in the world. By the time I was 8 years old I'd vowed to never learn which end of a hammer or wrench to use--but I do make a good pie.

After he dismantled the thingy, I then poked and scrubbed, the the awful black gunk just kept coming. If you think it takes millions of years to form peat or coal, just take a look at what's going on in your pipes with a little heat, moisture and pressure. For some reason I reached under the sink to look for an old toothbrush, a housewife's handiest cleaning tool, and found water. Seems when there's a hole caused by removing the stopper lever, the water you run to clean the drain runs out inside the cabinet. Who knew? "I never thought about it," was my plumber's reply. This gave us an opportunity to reminisce over other plumbing problems faced during our life together, like when he took off a faucet forgetting to turn the water off, or emptied a pail put under the drain into the sink that hadn't been reconnected. Yes, plumbing is fun.

Big dogs and Christmas guests

If you keep a large dog or two in the house--say an overweight Lab, a friendly Rottie, a slobbery Bernese Mountain dog or a Ridgeback, please find a comfortable spot for them with toys, water and food to protect your guests from injury. Here's how dangerous that wagging tail or friendly jump is to someone on Coumadin
    Side Effects of Coumadin: The most serious side effect of Coumadin is hemorrhage. Even a simple bump that does not break the skin can result in serious bleeding.
I'm no longer on Coumadin but do take a low-dose aspirin a day for A-fib (to prevent a stroke)--and even that leaves me with a lot of unexplained, how'd-I-do-that bruises. So be nice to your holiday guests. I know the dog is your baby, your snookems, your sweety pie, and "just like family," but if you had a 100 lb kid who kicked your guests in the shins, you'd probably do something about it.

This notice applies to cats, too--lots of people have allergies, and those are the ones the kitty wants to rub against. Find a nice quiet place with a closed door to restrain it. My kitty doesn't appreciate it, but my guests are happier.

This has been a public service blog for a happier, healthier Christmas.

Year end stories

As an information junkie and recovering librarian, I live for these. Especially the science "break throughs." They almost always confirm my own 6-day creationist beliefs, whether they are micro or macro. "In the beginning God. . ." But here's an interesting sociological "year end" bit of research--about how people might perform to win that end of the year bonus.
    Judi McLean Parks and co-author James W. Hesford had a hunch that compensation packages had something to do with the rising tide in fraud, estimated to total $994 billion annually in the U.S. Specifically, they suspected the type of compensation plans--contingent versus non-contingent--(and the form of that contingency, as a bonus or penalty based on performance), might be related to fraudulent reporting and the misappropriation of assets.

    To test their hypothesis, McLean Parks and Hesford conducted a controlled laboratory study using a random sample of students who were paid for solving anagrams according to one of three different compensation plans, although in all cases the expected value of the compensation--regardless of the form of the compensation--was identical. The students self-scored their work and in half of the cases signed a statement attesting to the veracity of their reported results.

    � Participants receiving a 'flat salary' for their work were the most honest about reporting their scores.

    � Many participants who received a performance based bonus cheated when reporting their results.

    � Participants who were penalized based on low performance not only cheated but also stole the nice pens that were to be returned at the end of the study!

    McLean Parks believes the study's results have implications for CEO compensation plans and the financial difficulties many companies are experiencing today. "All I have to do is look at Enron, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to know that this does happen. And now we've demonstrated the causal link to contingent pay." Fraud uncovered at Fannie Mae alone from 1998-2004 has been estimated to be in excess of $10.6 billion."
So a fair salary with no year end bonus, even for the big wigs? Could it stop corruption? From clerk-in-the office to CEO, I suspect no one will buy it. Even the secretaries in Dreier's law firm were making $200,000 a year. That's a huge temptation not to blow the whistle and go back to $40,000.

There's too much common sense in this research. Let me count the ways--they too are all Biblical. Greed, envy, and pride; lying, cheating and stealing; waste, sloth and addictions; anger, hate and licentiousness. Full news release at Science News Daily.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Madoff, Dreier and Blagojevich

Marc Dreier, the big spender and power hungry lawyer, has losses alleged to be $380 million plus a bunch of staff and partners wondering where their next paycheck is coming from (jail?), and the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme could be $50 billion, an amount hard to hide, so Rod Blogojevich trying to weasel a paltry $500,000 and a job for his wife looks like small potatoes doesn't it? Plus, the outrageous other stories make Obama a charmed politician again--pushed the criminal activity of the Illinois governor right off the front page. But then, Obama hardly knew him. Helped with his campaign, his staff talked to him recently, but really, he's absolutely clean. All the media say so. And look how they sniffed out all those other stories of corruption! Yah! So much for investigative reporting.

Really, I've never been so discouraged or dispirited with both our government and our greedy, power hungry movers and shakers. It's hard to say which is more corrupt. Who do you trust these days? Certainly not George Bush who has allowed the government to slide into socialism using the economy as an excuse--after he became the all time big spender; and certainly not Barack Obama who will finish the job with his marxist buddies; and not an ex-president who took millions from foreign interests who hope his wife will stroke them; and not scummy Wall Street CEOs buying art collections and mansions, and not the inept union bosses; and not an ex-vice president in business with Hank Paulson to sell phony carbon credits; and not the people we elected who promised so much and then threw it all away; and not the regulators they appointed and hired to see that everything was done right and then didn't notice a thing was wrong despite a ballooning staff and budget. . .

I think we all, especially me, need to apologize to the welfare cheats and illegal, criminal aliens who have been stealing from us for the past 20-30 years. To all the lazy bums we've griped about, my sincere apology. Yes, you screwed up, but you didn't reach for the stars, didn't set high enough goals in your petty crimes. Some of you went to jail, and Dreier and Madoff are out walking around, or on "house arrest." Is that fair? I wish now you were the only crooks we needed to worry about. These small time criminals have allowed our prejudices toward the poor and stupid to take our eye off the rich and smart crooks. I think I can even say the little guy had limited options. But what do you say about the guys who went to Harvard and Yale, who cheated the friends and charities and staff who trusted them, who sat in the pew or synagogue when not jetting around the world, who threw lavish parties, and moved in all the right social circles, who sold the voters down the river, and partied and parceled out the pork 'til they couldn't hold any more?

List of Madoff's Clients, NYT

Friday Family Photo

We no longer have a Lazarus Department Store in Columbus, but we still have our Lazzy Bear. I'm sure the same bear appeared in other stores and were named appropriately. I think the deal was you got one with a certain purchase amount--maybe $20. So Christmas 1986, our little Lazzy was sitting in the living room near the tree, home alone while we went out to eat, and our house was robbed. Yes, we'd just installed dead bolts, so they broke out a back window instead of just slipping the latch on the door. They went through my jewelry, which wasn't worth much, but did find what small amount of gold I had, like my high school class ring (ugliest class ring ever), my wedding pearls, a few crosses and pins; they bent a fork to see if it was sterling (it wasn't and I still have the bent fork); took our son's electric guitar and my husband's rifle from his childhood hunting days with his dad and uncles, our VCR and all our Blondie and Dagwood tapes copied from the TV, a pillow case to put it all in, and. . . my Lazzy Bear!

When word got around, I think my friend Nancy bought us a new Lazzy and someone replaced my pearls. We filed a report with the police and insurance company, but how do you put a value on little trinkets you got from a Sunday school teacher, or a piece of jewelry from your Mom. And an ugly high school class ring?

And who would be mean enough to steal a Lazzy Bear?

Connecting the dots, Ayers and Duncan

American Princess does research like the rest of us, she Googles it. And it's just not that hard to find out who will really be running education from Washington.
    My favorite subject in all of this Chicago mess is the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which is the project on whose board Bill Ayers and Barack Obama served together. I love this project because right up the street from me, I have an Annenberg Challenge school, which I think is known in the community as the “Peace School,” and is very interactive with residents of my little neighborhood. They hold peace studies rallies, drum circles, indoctrinate children in what appear to be Marxist values and hold the weekly farmers market (who said communism couldn’t taste fresh?). . . Arne Duncan is Bestest Buddies with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. In fact, he worked with the Annenberg Challenge to program curriculum in Chicago Public Schools.
I mean, we're really not that surprised, are we? We knew Bill Ayers wasn't going away. Blagojevich is just a smoke screen for all the other gunk in the engine of the new administration.

Chrysler doesn't need a bailout

Cereberus’ $2 billion stake in Chrysler represents only about 7% of its assets. That means that it has tens of billions of dollars at its disposal to engineer its own private bailout of Chrysler. Out of Control explains why it doesn't. . . "Chrysler’s management is clueless; its unions are suicidal; and the auto market for the foreseeable future is in a deep freeze. The idea that Chrysler could make a comeback under such circumstances – when it couldn’t do so during a booming economy -- would represent more than an SUV-full of triumph of hope over reality."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Visit a Nursing Home Week

"Governor Ted Strickland, the Ohio Department of Aging and the Office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman invite all Ohioans to share their holiday celebration, fellowship and compassion with nursing home residents during the state's third annual Visit a Nursing Home Week, December 24-31, 2008."

I'll observe Nursing Home Week by sending a contribution to the Good Samaritan Fund at Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Illinois. According to the letter below, half of their 123 residents rely on state assistance, and although the letter doesn't say why the state of Illinois can't support them, the total payment Pinecrest receives from Medicaid and the cost to provide the care means Pinecrest loses $4200 per day.

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Pinecrest was established by the Church of the Brethren, the first building begun in 1891 and finished in 1893. It wasn't called that when I was growing up--we just called it "The Old Folks' Home." Long before anyone had heard of Medicaid or Social Security, the Brethren were concerned about the elderly and orphans who had no family to care for them and voted in 1890 to raise funds for a shelter to care for both. The first building I remember was a brick, 2 story--although it was old by the time we elementary school children would walk there to sing at Christmas, or for a special Sunday afternoon program performed the church junior choir. It's a mystery to me how they managed that with the infirm, sick and elderly--installing toilets in 1902! It had 21 residents in 1905 ranging in age from 51 to 86, only 7 men, and all were Brethren. The residents helped grow their food with a rather large garden on site. Children, infants to teens, were cared for in a separate building across from the current building on Brayton Rd. from 1912 through 1923. A new facility was built in 1963 with an FHA approved loan--the Rockford paper said it resembled an ultra-modern luxury motel! After the old brick building, I'm sure the new facility with room for 100 residents was quite a change. Then later independent living apartments were built in 1974 and 1988, Pinecrest Village, where my parents lived their last years. An Alzheimers unit was added in the 90s called Pinecrest Terrace. [Details from Pinecrest Community; our 100th year 1893-1993]

The first chaplain at Pinecrest Manor, as the nursing home was named, was Foster B. Statler, who baptized me when he was the pastor of the local Brethren Church. He was followed by John I Masterson, father of my childhood friend and college roommate, and former Superintendent of Forreston schools. I've had a lot of relatives at Pinecrest over the years, most recently my Aunt Betty and Aunt Ada, but also many now deceased like Uncle John, Uncle Orville, and my grandmother after a surgery, who got excellent care as their lives became more limited.

I think the key is the location--a small town--with excellent, caring staff. My mother was a volunteer at Pinecrest for 30 years--one of hundreds--beginning in 1963 when her mother died, and when you have townspeople so closely involved in the care, you know someone is keeping an eye on things. Although I haven't lived in Mt. Morris for over 50 years, I recognize the names of many people who participated as volunteers, auxiliary, staff or Board members--Edna Neher, Harold Hoff, Bill Powers, Marj Powers, Vernon Hohnadel, Alma Fridley, Kenny Zellers, Rev. Carl Myers (who married us), Stan James, Harold Ross, Ralph Zickuhr, Eldo Henricks, Bob Martin, LaVerne Edwards, Art Hunn, Richard Park, Dale Henricks, Arman Stover, Robert Urish, Bill Clark, J.R. Worley, Albert Avey, Warren Reckmeyer, Dick Noser, Donna Ritchey Martin, Mary Ann Watt, Gary Montel, and others (I'm using an old list). So its development over the years was really a community effort.

Nursing homes all over the country are probably in need of help this Christmas--charitable giving is down, and endowments are suffering losses and states are struggling to meet their Medicaid obligations. If you have one close to you emotionally or geographically, now might be the time to remember them, to become a Good Samaritan.

Scatological and Eschatological

One means obscene--particularly words dealing with excrement, and the other means biblical, "end of the world" and "the last judgment." When people opened the Wall Street Journal and read the front page story about a man named Markopolos who had been warning the SEC about Bernard Madoff for NINE years, there were probably a few choice words both obscene and theological that spewed over the coffee cup. All I said was, "WOW." I don't swear or use the F-word, but if I did, this would have been the day to let loose.
    "Securities and Exchange Commission investigators discovered in 2006 that Bernard Madoff had misled the agency about how he managed customer money, according to documents, yet the SEC missed an opportunity to uncover an alleged Ponzi scheme.

    The documents indicate the agency had Mr. Madoff in its sights amid multiple violations that, if pursued, could have blown open his alleged multibillion-dollar scam. Instead, his firm registered as an investment adviser, at the agency's request, and the public got no word of the violations.

    Harry Markopolos -- who once worked for a Madoff rival -- sparked the probe with his nearly decadelong ..."
So what were their excuses, both the SEC watchdogs and the media watchdogs? Well, it seems we had a bunch of yapping Chihuahuas guarding a pit bull.

  • No definitive evidence [that's your job--to find it]

  • Could have been a vendetta [isn't that what they said about the John Edwards' mistress story and bloggers finding the phony CBS Bush documents?]

  • Occasionally he got facts and dates wrong [like you never do!]

  • "Once" he misstated a date [sometimes I mix up my kids' birthdates--that doesn't mean they weren't born]

  • So "Marco Polo" discovers the guy who "Made Off" with the funds and trust of thousands of investors and charities all over the world, and the Security and Exchange Commission headed by Christopher Cox (former Republican congressman appointed by Bush) with a budget of $900 million a year and an enforcement staff a third larger than it was in 2000 can't even follow up on nine years of tips. I think once Cox falls on his sword and takes the blame, this item will be removed from the SEC page.
      During his tenure at the SEC, Chairman Cox has made vigorous enforcement of the securities laws the agency's top priority, bringing ground breaking cases against a variety of market abuses including hedge fund insider trading, stock options backdating, fraud aimed at senior citizens, municipal securities fraud, and securities scams on the Internet.
    And then there is FINRA, which WSJ says has an even bigger budget than SEC.
      "Then there's the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a "self-regulatory organization" funded by industry. Its 3,000 employees ride herd on the brokerage industry, and these private cops are armed with an even bigger budget than the SEC. FINRA doesn't disclose tips and complaints when they don't result in enforcement action, so we can't know for sure whether FINRA was contacted about the alleged Ponzi scheme." To catch a thief
    I realize the op ed page and the news pages of WSJ are different--one conservative the other the most liberal of all news sources in the USA--but just maybe if the journalists hadn't been chasing every positive story they could find about Obama, they just might have turned up this one.

    Blogrunner and NYT

    My blog was picked up and shown on New York Times/Blogrunner feature today--if I'd known that, I'd have provided more information!
      Blogrunner is a service from The New York Times that automatically monitors news articles and blog posts and tracks news events as they develop across the Web.
    Blogger (owned by Google) features various blogs daily, but to my knowledge, even with eleven blogs, it has never found me noteworthy.

    To us a child is born, to us a son is given

    That must be on a million Christmas cards, that passage from Isaiah 9, and it is just one example of the gospel in the Old Testament. Martin Luther writes in his "A Brief Instruction on What to look for and expect in the Gospels," [1522]:
      "When you lay hold of Christ as a gift which is given you for your very own and have no doubt about it, you are a Christian. Faith redeems you from sin, death, and hell and enables you to overcome all things. O no one can speak enough about this. It is a pity that this kind of preaching has been silenced in the world, and yet boast is made daily of the gospel. . . Christ as a gift nourishes your faith and makes you a Christian. But Christ as an example exercises your works. These do not make you a Christian."
    He could almost be talking to the speakers in the 21st century pulpits and the congregation in the pew, waiting expectantly through warrenized, emerging and peace and justice sermons. Luther's warning almost 500 years ago has fallen on death deaf ears, because people prefer reinventing ways to find God and push away the gift--even in this gift giving season.
      "Be sure, moreoever, that you do not make Christ into a Moses, as if Christ did nothing more than teach and provide examples as the other saints do, as if the gospel were simply a textbook of teachings or laws."
    In proofing this I noticed I'd written "death" instead of "deaf." But isn't that the end result when churches forget the gospel and preach either law or example, and not the gospel, which Luther says is briefly summarized in Paul's letter to the Romans, 1:1-4.
      "The gospel is a discourse about Christ, that he is the Son of God and became man for us, that he died and was raised, that he has been established as a Lord over all things. . . even the teaching of the prophets, in those places where they speak of Christ, is nothing but the true, pure, and proper gospel--just as if Luke or Matthew had described it."
    I don't have the almost 60 volumes of Luther on my bookshelves, but I did recently buy from a used book dealer Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings, edited by Timothy F. Lull (Fortress Press, 1989). There is a 2005 edition and parts of it have been scanned by Google. I'm perfectly happy with my $9 used copy because I don't like to read books on a CRT. But if you do, the material I quoted is on pp. 94 and 95 of the 2005 edition.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

    No more paper in newspaper.
      The American Society of Newspaper Editors scheduled an April vote in Chicago to become simply the American Society of News Editors. Under the proposed changes, which require membership approval, editors of news Web sites also would be permitted to join, as would leaders of journalism programs. Google news story

    Is it over yet?

    The only channel I can get in the guest room is WOSU--and it seems they've been running their funds drive for about 6 weeks. The same thing is on every night, all night! We've had some colds here in the Bruce house, so I've had about 2 weeks of sleeping in that really nice room with some really boring TV.

    Celtic Woman. Do-Wap. Great Performances with people I've never heard of in front of wildly enthusiastic audiences. And some dopey people riding around Europe in a convertible stopping to eat. What's so bizarre, is that they try to act as though this is what public TV is about. But the rest of the year they show such slanted, leftist drivel to keep some Hollywood unemployed marxist film maker busy that it is ridiculous. At least during funds drive they should show the really ugly, anti-American stuff so people can make a reasonable choice whether to support them.

    Antiques Road Show. Now that's worth watching.