Friday, February 29, 2008

An economist looks at illegal drug costs

Boston University Economist Jeffrey Miron argues on University of California TV that legalizing drugs would lower the crime rate, cut the demand for guns, reduce the spread of AIDS and improve race relations in this address to the UCSD Economics Roundtable. Series: Economics Roundtable [Public Affairs] Take a look and see if you think this makes sense. The speech was given in April 2000. So some of the figures may be out of date. The incarceration rate is probably higher.

He is not a boring speaker, however, if you prefer to read high lights from his book, check here.

Record high ratio of adults in prison in today's USAToday.

Not an urban legend, unfortunately

Guest blogger today is my high school classmate Jon (without an h as he always reminds me). He sent along this sad, sad story via e-mail about "dusting" written by a Cleveland area father/police officer whose son died as a result of inhaling a product, Dust Off, the father purchased to clean his computers. It's been going around the internet since 2005 according to, a web site that checks out these stories, and it gives additional information.
    "First, I'm going to tell you a little about me and my family. My
    name is Jeff. I am a Police Officer for a city which is known nationwide for its crime rate. We have a lot of gangs and drugs. At one point we were #2 in the nation in homicides per capita. I also have a police K-9 named Thor. He was certified in drugs and general duty. He retired at 3 years old because he was shot in the line of duty. He lives with us now and I still train with him because he likes it. I always liked the fact that there was no way to bring drugs into my house. Thor wouldn't allow it. He would tell on you. The reason I say this is so you understand that I know about drugs.

    I have taught in schools about drugs. My wife asks all our kids at least once a week if they used any drugs. Makes them promise they won't.

    I like building computers occasionally and started building a new one in February 2005. I also was working on some of my older computers. They were full of dust so on one of my trips to the computer store I bought a 3 pack of DUST OFF. Dust Off is a can of compressed air to blow dust off a computer. A few weeks later when I went to use one of them they were all used. I talked to my kids and my two sons both said they had used them on their computer and messing around with them. I yelled at them for wasting the 10 dollars I paid for them.

    On February 28 I went back to the computer store. They didn't have the 3 pack which I had bought on sale so I bought a single jumbo can of Dust Off. I went home and set it down beside my computer. On March 1st, I left for work at 10 PM. Just before midnight my wife went down and kissed Kyle goodnight. At 5:30 am the next morning Kathy went downstairs to wake Kyle up for school, before she left for work. He was propped up in bed with his legs crossed and his head leaning over. She called to him a few times to get up. He didn't move. He would sometimes tease her like this and pretend he fell back asleep. He was never easy to get up. She went in and shook his arm. He fell over. He was pale white and had the straw from the Dust Off can coming out of his mouth. He had the new can of Dust Off in his hands. Kyle was dead.

    I am a police officer and I had never heard of this. My wife is a nurse and she had never heard of this. We later found out from the coroner, after the autopsy, that only the propellant from the can of Dust off was in his system. No other drugs. Kyle had died between midnight and 1 AM. I found out that using Dust Off is being done mostly by kids ages 9 through 15. They even have a name for it. It's called dusting. A take off from the Dust Off name. It gives them a slight high for about 10 seconds. It makes them dizzy. A boy who lives down the street from us showed Kyle how to do this about a month before. Kyle showed his best friend. Told him it was cool and it couldn't hurt you. It's just compressed air. It can't hurt you. His best friend said no.

    Kyle was wrong. It's not just compressed air. It also contains a propellant called R2. It's a refrigerant like what is used in your refrigerator. It is a heavy gas, heavier than air. When you inhale it, it fills your lungs and keeps the good air, with oxygen, out that's why you feel dizzy, buzzed. It decreases the oxygen to your brain, to your heart. Kyle was right. It can't hurt you. IT KILLS YOU!

    The horrible part about this is there is no warning. There is no level that kills you. It's not cumulative or an overdose; it can just go randomly, terribly wrong. Roll the dice and if your number comes up you die. IT'S NOT AN OVERDOSE. It's Russian Roulette. You don't die later. Or not feel good and say I've had too much. You usually die as you're breathing it in, if not you die within 2 seconds of finishing 'the hit.' That's why the straw was still in Kyle's mouth when he died. Why his eyes were still open.

    The experts want to call this huffing. The kids don't believe its huffing. As adults we tend to lump many things together. But it doesn't fit here. And that's why it's more accepted. There is no chemical reaction, no strong odor. It doesn't follow the huffing signals. Kyle complained a few days before he died of his tongue hurting. It probably did. The propellant causes frostbite. If I had only known. It's easy to say hey, it's my life and I'll do what I want. But it isn't. Others are always affected. This has forever changed our family's life. I have a hole in my heart and soul that can never be fixed. The pain is so immense I can't describe it. There's nowhere to run from it. I cry all the time and I don't ever cry. I do what I'm supposed to do but I don't really care. My kids are messed up. One won't talk about it. The other will only sleep in our room at night. And my wife, I can't even describe how bad she is taking this. I thought we were safe because of Thor. I thought we were safe because we knew about drugs and talked to our kids about them.

    After Kyle died another story came out. A probation Officer went to the school system next to ours to speak with a student. While there he found a student using Dust Off in the bathroom. This student told him about another student who also had some in his locker. This is a rather affluent school system. They will tell you they don't have a drug problem there. They don't even have a Dare or plus program there. So rather than tell everyone about this 'new' way of getting high they found, they hid it.

    The probation officer told the media after Kyle's death and they, the school, then admitted to it. I know that if they would have told the media and I had heard, it wouldn't have been in my house.

    We need to get this out of our homes and school computer labs. Using Dust Off isn't new and some 'professionals' do know about. It just isn't talked about much, except by the kids. They all seem to know about it.

    April 2nd was 1 month since Kyle died. April 5th would have been his 15th birthday. And every weekday I catch myself sitting on the living room couch at 2:30 in the afternoon and waiting to see him get off the bus. I know Kyle is in heaven but I can't help but wonder if I died and went to Hell.

    Jeff Williams
    Cleveland, Ohio"
Scary stuff! I remember about 25 years ago our neighbor's son who was regularly picked up by his father and step-mother at our neighbor's house, died on one of these visits from inhaling refrigerant and never came home to his mother. I think his father was a distributor and never realized his son and friends were experimenting until it was too late. Before talking about drugs, I think parents need to first tell their kids that everything they hear from their friends about sex or drugs or alcohol or cigarettes or driving a car is probably a lie. Tell them around age three. Then go from there.

Luther on marriage

When I stare at the shelves of our bursting church library, the words "stuff and fluff" come to mind. So I check out a volume of Martin Luther, a man who wrote and opined on every imaginable topic. This week I'm looking at Luther's Works, v. 45, "A Christian in Society, v. 2," Fortress Press, 1962 (in 55 volumes). The editor writes: "The edition is intended primarily for the reader whose knowledge of late medieval Latin and 16th century German is too small to permit him to work with Luther in the original languages." Well, that would certainly be me!

Even translated into 1960s English, Luther's works are a challenge. This volume starts out discussing marriage. And it is clear that it applies to today's battles in the ELCA on gay marriage, although that topic would have never come up in Luther's day. In fact, it wouldn't have been imagined even 30 years ago as a serious topic in churches. Yet, we had a guest Lutheran pastor at our church this month (not in the pulpit, but in a Bible study) who believes one can set aside the clear passage in Romans about homosexuality. But I digress. I think Luther's introduction to the topic of marriage is worth the whole book. You can disagree if you wish, but you can't say the man didn't have a way with words.
    "How I dread preaching on the estate of marriage! I am reluctant to do it because I am afraid if I once get really involved in the subject it will make a lot of work for me and for others. The shameful confusion wrought by the accursed papal law has occasioned so much distress, and the lax authority of both the spiritual and the temporal swords has given rise to so many dreadful abuses and false situations, that I would much prefer neither to look into the matter nor to hear of it. But timidity is no help in an emergency [there is a foot note here, but to something in German]; I must proceed. I must try to instruct poor bewildered consciences, and take up the matter boldly."
That must be how Lutheran pastors feel today, torn and tossed from pillar to post, wanting to follow God's word, but pressured by colleagues, psychologists, social workers, the media, synod meetings and parishioners to find a different path.

Impediments for marriage

Luther, after touching lightly on male and female and what "fruitful and multiply" means, goes on to say that the Pope and canon law has thought up 18 reasons for preventing or dissolving marriage, whereas Scripture only has three (Matthew 19), all concerning eunuchs. In Luther's mind, money is the only reason these rules have been put in place; even if God hasn't forbid it, you will not be permitted to marry who you wish unless you have the money. He has some colorful descriptions of these impediments and their enforcers: "enmeshed in a spiderweb of human commands and vows," "locked up behind a mass of iron bolts and bars," "the devil's monkey tricks," "any can be rescinded with gold and silver," "offering for sale women who have never been their own," "ecclesiastical tyrants," "hucksters," "foolishness," "fanciful deception," "it rains fools upon fools," and "big fools."

I don't know how impediments to marriage have changed over the last four centuries. These days Christians are just happy if the first kid can walk down the aisle at the wedding! But I know that if a divorced Protestant (or person of any or no faith) wants to convert to Roman Catholicism, she needs to have her prior marriages annulled and those of her current husband--they are impediments even for becoming a Catholic. These are the 18 (beyond Scripture) Luther mentioned in the 16th century, nearly all of which he condemned: 1) blood relationship up to the third and fourth degrees of consanguinity; 2) affinity through marriage up to four degrees; 3) a spiritual relationship where the man may have baptised or confirmed a woman--complex list of relations here; 4) legal kinship of an adopted person; 5) unbelief, and Luther says, "There are plenty of Christians--and indeed the greater part of them--who are worse in their secret unbelief than any Jew, heathen, Turk, or heretic;" 6) a crime, "sins and crimes should be punished, but with other penalties, not by forbidding marriage;" 7) public decorum or respectability--if the fiancee should die, the man can't marry any relative of hers up to the fourth degree because it's not decent; 8) vow of chastity--he suggests taking a vow to bite off your own nose, because that would be easier to keep; 9) error--married the wrong wife, like Leah and Rachel mix-up; 10) condition of servitude--the woman is a serf; 11) holy orders--St. Paul commanded that church leaders be married exposes this folly, he says; 12) coercion--you should not allow yourself to be coerced into injuring your neighbor; 13) betrothal--engaged but takes another wife--here Luther suggests the man belongs to the first, and not the second woman, (unless there are children) therefore he was incapable of promising something that belonged to someone else; 14) unfit for marriage, lots of laws about this he says, but gives no details; 15) episcopal prohibition; 16) restricted times; 17) custom; 18) defective eyesight and hearing.

And he concludes (part one) with, "It is a dirty rotten business that a bishop should forbid me a wife or specify the times when I may marry, or that a blind and dumb person should not be allowed to enter into wedlock."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

And adults can?

I've been seeing some pretty far fetched political ads based on nothing but hope and change. But a lot of people are falling for them.
    "An American Psychological Assn. task force has recommended limits, citing research that shows that kids under the age of 8 can’t critically comprehend TV ad messages and that they’re prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate, and unbiased. (Reported in Business Week)"

Don't question Obama's faith

There are lots of reasons not to support Barack Obama, but I'm sure sick of the back biting and sniping that he's a Muslim, or that you don't like his pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ. If you can't call Obama a Christian just because his father grew up in a Muslim community in Africa, then I guess you can't call Bobby Jindal a Christian because his family members were Hindu. Conversion, changed lives, and obedience are what Christianity is all about. Read his testimony. Yes, it's for a main-line Protestant audience, and that always sounds different than "Jesus died on the cross for my sins, alleluia," but we don't judge someone's relationship with God--that's for God to decide. There are no goats in heaven, only sheep, and Jesus knows each one. So if you are conservative and you call yourself a Christian, time to get your own house in order, prepare your own witness in case you're asked, and look at the issues.

Obama on student debt

Have you ever analyzed one of those loosey-goosey MSM articles on student loans and debt or tried to figure out a campaign outrage portrayed in an ad? They never figure what it would cost student XYZ to live if she wasn't going to school but was borrowing money to live. Have you noticed that too?

In February 2006 I blogged about student loans way back when Obama's mama was going to school:
    The headline for the USA Today article is: "Students suffocate under tens of thousands in loans." So I went into one of those "Money was worth" such-and-so many years ago sites, and discovered that the $10,600 debt for a public college today (the average according to Block) would have been about $2,500 in 1975, or $1,725 in 1961 when I graduated.

    So, ask your mother or grandmother if she felt "suffocated" by debt when she finished college. Yes, 1961 attitudes toward money were different. We didn't have cell phones, broad band, or cable TV to pay for. Eating out was for special occasions a few times a year. (Cut those 4 things out of your budget and see if you don't have enough to pay off a loan.) And most importantly, people got married before they decided to "save money" by living together. Marriage broadened their base of family support from two families instead of one.

    I'm sure there's more to it, but debt is debt. You borrow it; you pay it back.

The Prescription Drug Plan

Guest blogger today is Murray (aka Jack). I do not use this plan. This is his experience and actual correspondence trying to get answers from the FDA about foreign supplied prescription drugs. NB


When the Prescription Drug Plan bill was being passed our government emphasized that it was against the law for people to purchase their drugs from outside the United States. In fact, just to prove their point, they started confiscating foreign drugs coming through the U.S. postal system. The Food and Drug Administration backed our legislators by declaring that the FDA could not assure anyone that drugs from other countries were safe. This was declared despite the fact that Canada had a better track record for drug safety than the U.S.

When I got my first shipment of drugs this year from my Prescription Plan Provider, lo and behold, they came from India. Now, how can that be? I thought. What's going on here? Does the law regarding foreign drug purchases only apply to individuals and not retailers and insurance companies? Are the drugs I would purchase be suspect, but somehow the drugs the retailers purchase would be safe? Anyway, I thought I would just ask the FDA what was going on. I would ask my congressman but he won't answer. Below are copies of my correspondence with the FDA :

Name: Jack Warner

The law states that it is illegal for me to purchase drugs from other countries because they may be unsafe. I just received my first shipment of drugs from my current Prescription D plan. The drugs came from India. Isn't this illegal? Isn't my Prescription D plan providers subject to the same law as I am?

FDA Response:

Thank you for writing the Division of Drug Information, in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The prescription drugs provided by your insurance plan should be approved for use in the U.S. FDA approved drug products do not have to be manufactured here in the U.S. but as part of the approval process we inspect the manufacturing facility to ensure product quality. If you were to purchase drug products outside the U.S. from unknown sources you would not know under what conditions the drug is manufactured.

Best Regards,

Division of Drug Information
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Food and Drug Administration

So they are implying that the drugs from India I received from my Plan are safe even though they don't know what the drugs are or what manufacturing facility they came from! Silly ole me thought they would want to know this before making such a statement. And as far as I'm concerned they did come from an unknown source. Anyway I fired this back at them:

Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 6:27 AM
Subject: Re: DrugInfo Comment Form FDA/CDER Site

So are you telling me that it's OK for me to purchase my drugs from another country as long as it's from a "known" source? A source that has been approved by the FDA? If so, how do I find these known approved sources?

How do I know for sure if the drugs that my insurance company is providing came from an FDA approved source? The drugs came from Zydus in India.


FDA Response:

We don't approve manufacturing facilities. We inspect them to ensure compliance with good manufacturing practices. We inspect facilities of companies that have an approved application for their drug. You can look up your drug on our Drugs@FDA website,

Best Regards,

Division of Drug Information
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Food and Drug Administration

Now tell me, did the FDA dance around my questions? Ole BD could run for senator. I mean, he says inspect and I said approved ... big deal. He still didn't tell me whether or not drugs coming from Zydus in India were safe. Maybe after I die from them he will fess up! The web site he recommends only tells you what drugs have been approved and not what manufacturers have been inspected and cleared. So I sent the FDA this:
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2008 6:27 AM
Subject: Re: DrugInfo Comment Form FDA/CDER Site

Has the FDA ever inspected the Zydus plant in India regarding the safe production of drugs that they ship to the United States? My Prescription D insurance company uses that source to supply me with my drugs. How else will I know if my drugs are safe unless you tell me?


FDA response:

Dear Jack:

Thank you for your message to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), one of the five centers within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

We do not have that information publicly available. If you are interested, the findings for each company's inspection can be found on their Establishment Inspection Report (EIR). You can request the company's EIR through the FDA's Freedom of information Office (FOI). These reports are not prepared specifically for public distribution, but are available upon a U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. You can find out more about this option and how to make an FOI request at


Division of Drug Information


This communication is consistent with 21 CFR 10.85 (k) and constitutes an informal communication that represents our best judgment at this time but does not constitute an advisory opinion, does not necessarily represent the formal position of FDA, and does not bind or otherwise obligate or commit the agency to the views expressed.

So there you have it. The FDA, the consumer's friend, is not interested in where my drugs come from, is not concerned if they are safe and will not tell me if they have inspected the plant where they are produced. They tell me to research that myself and tell me to fill out a form and send it to the manufacturer to find out if the FDA has ever inspected them. Yeah right!

These are the same people that we are depending on to insure the drugs we take are safe! They can be trusted like you and I trust Congress to stop earmarks. Who are we supposed to turn to if we think our drugs are suspect? They never even asked me what the drugs were that I was concerned about and you can bet that they never checked out Zydus. I guess my Prescription D plan can send me drugs from anywhere when drug importation is supposed to be against the law.

Here's an article in the Washington Post on this topic.

    Companies based in India were bit players in the American drug market 10 years ago, selling just eight generic drugs here. Today, almost 350 varieties and strengths of antidepressants, heart medicines, antibiotics and other drugs purchased by American consumers are made by Indian manufacturers.

    Five years ago, Chinese drugmakers exported about $300 million worth of products to the United States. Eager to meet Americans' demand for lower-cost medicines, they, too, have expanded rapidly. Last year, they sold more than $675 million in pharmaceutical ingredients and products in the U.S. market.
Now take a look at the inspections numbers and read this recent letter from the FDA to the Mayor of Duluth.

Remember Fido and Fluffy and the lead in the dental materials. Follow Murray's example and write your representative and the FDA.

The white guilt that will elect Obama

It's not about 18-19th century slavery and reparations; we've killed more Africans just by taking DDT off the market than were lost in the transatlantic slave trade. It's not about the Civil Rights movement--the Gen-X and Gen-Y kids (who don't turn out in huge numbers to vote) just blow off those required February Black History Month units. It's not even about failed programs floated by liberal boomers in the inner cities since the 1960s.

No, mainstream Americans don't even perceive Obama as black, except maybe as a poster child or a symbol. Obama is light skinned, grew up with white relatives and friends in white neighborhoods, talks and walks white, has an Ivy League education, and doesn't grab his crotch when performing. He's the anti-hip hopper. He's the anti-Jesse and Al. He's 100% acceptable and sanitized for the white, middle class voter.

But we in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quintiles do have a lot of guilt--about having so much. Even our poor have a lot. I worked at the food pantry this week--I can't tell you the number of cell phone ring tones, i-pods, and Bluetooth contraptions strapped to ears I saw among the people waiting for 3 days of food. The artificial nails and hair extensions. Of the 70+ clients we served (end of the month), only 2 or 3 people were on foot--one guy was on a bike. And 3 days of food in 2008 has to be five times more food than we gave in the early 80s when I first started to work there. We were passing out as many bananas as they could eat, bags and bags of fresh lettuce mixes (costs about $3 a bag where I shop), low fat yogurt packs, as much bread as they could carry, and 10 lb. sacks of potatoes. Almost no one would accept rice, beans, peanut butter or applesauce--said they had plenty of that. The first 10-12 families even got large Harry and David gift boxes loaded with fruit, cheese and chocolates.

No, it's the theme of hope and change that appeals to our over-consuming voters--whites and blacks, Republicans and Democrats, young and old (but probably mostly the young who have grown up with the abundance we older Americans thought would solve problems). It doesn't hurt that Obama is young and handsome, because we overweight, pre-diabetic Americans are hooked on slender good looks. Hillary is chunky, McCain is overweight.

We have a serious spiritual problem in the USA--even the purpose driven Rick Warren who came to power, wealth and renown preaching the cross of Jesus Christ has abandoned us for greener pastures in Africa and Asia. American religious leaders don't know what to do with an overfed, over-leisured, over-educated parish. So they focus on gaps in wealth, health care and schools, but not the one between God and man. And pardon my language, but God forbid they should preach from the Bible what is really meant in those passages about wealth! But the people know. Yes. Deep down. They know there must be something more. And if a Messiah comes along who says all the right biblical phrases, hey, they'll follow. I just hope he knows that Good Friday follows the adoration and singing of Palm Sunday. Because if he can't deliver. . . things will get nasty.

What's eating you now?

Our local Channel 10 provided a very interesting investigative report last night about dental implants, caps and crowns. Did you know that is one more "American product" that goes in your body that has been outsourced to China? These things are cemented to your teeth. There is NO safe level of lead for the human body, but after testing the work of 8 different labs that used Chinese suppliers, Channel 10 found one lab whose products contained lead--off the charts for safety and exposure for humans. There are 300 commercial dental labs in Ohio. Even if your dentist is making the crowns and caps himself--he's getting the material from one of these labs. They do not have to register with the FDA unless they have overseas operations. And 46 other states don't either. Dentists who use the foreign made material do so because it is 1/10th the cost of U.S. made.

Personally, I don't care what the CDC and FDA say about their complex guidelines, I know China doesn't have or doesn't respect contract law in its culture or background. It has penal law. Your commercial contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on--assuming these things are still on paper. If American companies chose to do business there, they'd better be ready to send over a small army of American trained inspectors and plant foremen to protect the American consumer, which would considerably add to the cost.

And how smart is this? The FDA doesn't enforce its own guidelines for foreign made dental work according the Channel 10's research; that is left to the Border Patrol--you know, those overworked, understaffed folks who also have to protect us from Mexican peasants infiltrating and Asian stowaways in ship containers.

The story was also in today's Columbus Dispatch.

Thank you, channel 10, for this research. But don't you wonder where the peer reviewed medical researchers are? Are they all working on poverty gap stories on government grants? And where are the legislators who pass our laws and supposedly require oversight for safety? Frankly, I think they need to get the lead out of some of their hearings on baseball players and talk show hosts, and start asking some tough questions about our food and medical products from China and drugs that come from India to be sold to our seniors on the government prescription drug plan.

Remember what happened to Fido and Fluffy!

Here's depressing news

A new study published in PLoS Medicine questions the efficacy of the new generation antidepressant drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Effexor), nefazodone (Serzone), and paroxetine (Seroxat / Paxil). The study was done in the UK. In a meta-analysis, once the unpublished studies were included, the improvement in depression among those receiving the trial drug, as compared to those receiving placebos, was not clinically significant in mildly depressed patients or even in most patients who suffer from very severe depression. "The benefit only seemed to be clinically meaningful for a small group of patients who were the most extremely depressed to start out with. This improvement seemed to come about because these patients did not respond as well as less depressed patients to placebo, rather than responding better to the drug." (News release)

The authors used the data sets from the FDA used in the clinical trials.

Note: If you go to the original article (see link above) and scroll down on the first page, there is an editor's summary in a blue box--much easier to read than the whole article.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This is not the way to win friends at Ohio State!

I noticed this little blurb in my OSU Today
    "The [Obama] event is expected to attract thousands of visitors to campus on Wednesday. Many spaces that are usually available for staff parking around St. John Arena will be reserved for event parking. Those individuals should consider planning to arrive early or seek alternate campus parking options."
A parking hang tag at Ohio State is called a hunting license even on good days when no messianic figure is visiting. And the weather is miserable.

On the sixth day, God created animals

and said to the dog

'Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.'

The dog said: 'That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?'

So God agreed.

Then God created the monkey and said:

'Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span.'

The monkey said: 'Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?'

And God agreed.

Then God created the cow and said:

'You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.'

The cow said: 'That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?'

And God agreed again.

Then finally, God created man and said:

'Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years.'

But man said: 'Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten
the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?'

'Okay,' said God, 'You asked for it.'

So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information. I'm doing it as a public service.

[My husband's high school friend, Mickey, sent this--I assume it's going around the Internet. I modified the days to fit the Genesis story.]

How deep is shallow?

Sometimes I'm embarrassed for my sex. A "journalist" for the WSJ, Laura Meckler, and her "source" for her completely anecdotal analysis of the McCain campaign in Ohio, Marilyn Cameron, causes me to think it was a mistake to encourage women to leave the home for the workforce in the 1970s. I've come to expect the WSJ news articles (not the editorial page) to be more liberal than the NYT, but this was so shallow you could actually see the bottom. "In Ohio the economy rules," Feb. 27, 2008

Here's how the story goes--completely hung on the recent (since 2001) experiences of Marilyn Cameron, Ohioan, 65 years old, retired nurse.
    1. She's thinking of voting Democratic for the first time since JFK. The article identifies her as 65. Maybe they talked about it in her high school civics class (she would have been 17 when JFK was elected in 1960), but the law wasn't changed until 1971, in response to the VietNam war protests. Neither Meckler or Cameron seemed to realize this--and Meckler was rushing for a deadline and apparently WSJ didn't give her a password and had no way to log on and check the details.

    2. Cameron's husband worked for 34 years for the same company and took a buy out in 2001 at age 56. She worked as a nurse and had the benefits. What a sweet deal! Job security for 34 years. And a buy out!! How tough can life get? Did he invest his buy out in stocks or mutual funds and try out something he'd always wanted to do? Or did he buy a new model car or boat? Don't know; doesn't say. Did he sit around and complain with his buddies at the bar, or did he go out and get another job? Don't know; doesn't say. My husband took a buy out (by choice) in 1994 and started his own company, and was never happier, and also never made as much money as he did when he was a partner in a larger firm. We cut all expenses to the bone, didn't go out to eat for a year, and drove his old Nissan until it fell apart. We used my employee benefits.

    3. Cameron's daughter is "one pay check away from mortgage foreclosure." So? For the 18 years before our children left home and I went back to work full time, we used every paycheck down to the last penny. We did have a small savings account--not the three months salary that all experts recommend, but we could have covered one mortgage payment. It's called, "planning for emergencies," Ms. Meckler--look it up.

    4. Ms. Cameron wanted to retire when she was 64, and "had to withdraw $15,000 from her 401K to pay off bills including $580 a month for health insurance until she qualified for Medicare." This whine hurts my ears! She retires early, and instead of being thankful she could COBRA until eligible for government health insurance, she's a cry baby that she had to use her own money to pay her own bills! I'm guessing she also got Social Security, since she apparently wasn't a state employee in Ohio like me (I'm just waiting for some illegal to try to get SS on my number!)

    5. Eleven of her twelve grandchildren have health insurance, but ONE doesn't!! Hello! Young people can accept or reject their employer's health plan. When our kids first left home we were either badgering them to get on a plan or we were taking out short term policies on them. Even 40 year olds turn down health insurance--some people think nothing can happen to them and life style is more important than health plans. Ms. Cameron may have one of those in her family--and I'd say she's darn lucky only ONE isn't insured.

    6. Buried at the bottom of the article, where the common sense always appears in the WSJ, is a quote from Ms. Cameron's son, who has a different last name. He is a financial analyst living in Norwalk (so apparently her kids went to college--I'm surprised she didn't complain about paying for college in the 80s). He's the only one who makes sense. "When the government gets its fiscal house in order" things will improve, he says. "Spending is out of control." He also thinks good old mom will NOT vote Democratic.

Remember to cite your sources

or you might get an e-mail from me. Here's a note I sent to a Christian web site.
    [the information on your website matches] the text of David Fuller's biography of John Huss in the book, "Valiant for the truth; a treasury of evangelical writings," compiled and edited by David Otis Fuller, McGraw-Hill, 1961, pp.79-81. I think you have incorrectly cited your sources. You have used, word for word, approximately 9 paragraphs, from these pages, and thus, the material should be in quotes, and the book cited, not just the author. Or you need to rewrite the information using your own words, and still site him as a source. Because of U.S. copyright law, which means McGraw Hill owns the way this particular history was put together by Dr. Fuller, you are in violation of the law. That is not a good Christian witness. It's called stealing in the vernacular. I'm sure God forgives, because He probably knows you didn't learn how to properly cite your sources or use research appropriately when you were in school, but a sharp eyed lawyer for a large publishing firm with deep pockets might not be so forgiving. If I found it in 2 seconds using google, so will someone else. The magazine article is also not correctly cited, but I don't have that in front of me. The Book of Martyrs is available in many editions and is probably public domain, and I'm not up on how to cite that, but you'd be safe citing the edition you used.

Don't worry about the polar bears

Do worry about the Jolly Green Giants Marxists taking us hostage by this bogus registering them as endangered. The globe, at least this year, is not getting warmer, it's getting colder. Ask anyone in Wisconsin or northern Illinois where they've had record snowfalls. And that record may only last one year, and it may mean nothing, but it does mean that panels of UN flunkies and Al Gore don't control it.
    "Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on." DailyTech Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


At the food pantry

The weather is nasty today, so I'm hitching a ride down town to work at the Lutheran Social Services food pantry. Catch you later.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Automobile reviews for dog lovers

There's no end to helpful information on the internet. Here's which reviews cars and their dog-friendly features. My favorite, a Dodge Caravan. It got a 5 paw review (best). And I don't even have a dog!
    "One of the problems I’ve seen with many of the vehicles I’ve driven is that the manufacturers have traded cargo space for passenger space. Third-row seats that are hard to get rid of and second rows that don’t fold flat seem more common than ever. Swell for the folks hauling little Susie and all her Brownie troop friends, but hell for those of use who are trying to ditch the seats (cup holders, DVD players, etc.) and make room for Rover.

    Nothing I’ve yet seen handles this challenge as well as the Stow ‘N Go seats in the Dodge and Chrysler minivans. You can go from having a seven-passenger van to having a wide-open cargo van in less than five minutes. You can have some seats but not others. The seats disappear into the floorboards in so many different ways and so easily that even I, with my minivan ennui, was impressed beyond all measure. The seats you don’t stow? Pull up the floorboards in front of them and … more there’s cargo room underneath!"
My brother has one of these--really a neat car. Maybe my next van. . .

Kids are swearing more

Now, where do you suppose they learned it? Timothy Jay says teenagers use 80-90 swear words a day. I saw Melanie Glover's Sacramento Bee article in the Columbus Dispatch. I didn't swear as a child; still don't. My parents didn't; my friends didn't. My own kids learn to swear and cuss on the playground in grade school.

From the blogs I read by women, I'm guessing that today children are learning to cuss and swear from their mommies, if she gets off her cell phone long enough to yell at them in the back seat of the SUV. Even Christian moms seem to think that "being real" is a better witness than being modest or well-spoken.

The inequality myth

Wall Street Journal's Carol Hymowitz again trots out the old saw that women with the same level of education earn 20-25% less than a man and the glass ceiling is turning to steel. Here. I know from our stock annual reports that there are darn few women on the boards of major corporations. But ask yourself, is it diversity if they are just smaller or darker versions of the good old boys who are already on the board? When they get to that point in power, prestige and income, just what would they be bringing to the table that would benefit women and minorities on their way up--people who went to college with a GED or after military service or who attended a junior college and lived at home before transferring? Now that would be true diversity. If they aren't representing me, the investor, then why would they be on the board? What did an expensive Ivy League education get Mama Obama? She's raising her kids and supporting her husband's career! What woman in her right mind would give up that to sell plastics or mine coal from the office board room?

But Hymowitz's statistics (supplied I think by Catalyst) lie anyway, the value of diversity aside. They are not adjusting for the right variables. Thirty five years ago claiming "same education" might have made sense; today it doesn't. They need to be looking at women who

  • first and foremost are married, because most top male executives are--today marriage is the big divider between getting by and doing well
  • have a spouse who manages the home, the nanny and the housekeeper
  • have a spouse willing to chauffer the children to sports and activities, take the pets to the vet, serve on the school committees, meet with the teachers, make all the appointments for doctor, dentist and hair cuts, hire and supervise the lawn service, oversee the nutritional needs of the household, and help out mom and dad at the retirement home
  • who are willing to work 60-80 hours a week
  • who spend hundreds of hours a year on the Bluetooth while sitting in airports, sleeping in first class on airplanes
  • who are willing to have no personal relationships with other women, or maybe occasional casual sex with lower ranked male colleagues
  • who are willing to endure the long commute from the fashionable suburban McMansion
  • who can, and this is critical, show that they have never bumped anyone better qualified out of line because of affirmative action or need for diversity in the company (which brings huge resentment with networking colleagues whether or not they admit it)
  • I'm at risk

    of sounding like Mama Obama, but I'm not proud of my country when I experience our entertainment industry, which seems to define us around the world--TV and film and popular music. I walked through the living room in time to hear Jon Stewart making Hitler jokes at the Academy Awards last night, and left in disgust. My husband and I disagree on how to waste time. I went back to reading blogs. Molly Willow of the Columbus Dispatch didn't mention it--just said he was better than last year. That must have been excrutiating or her decency meter is screwed up.

    Three of the best ensemble casts you'll ever see are found on the sets and story-lines of Ugly Betty, House, and Boston Legal. However, they are so anti-Christian and left leaning, I've stopped watching them. The assaults on sexual morality in Ugly Betty became very predictable even while clever and "fresh," gay jokes having been pushed aside for transexual. On Boston Legal, only the partner with dementia is allowed to make a conservative or sensible, practical comment. And B.L. isn't even subtle about bimbo women lawyers. I've lost track (haven't watched in about 2 years) of the female actors, each with fabulous looks and ever more plunging blouses and unbuttoned shirts--they were furniture designed to enhance the male leads.

    Dr. House? He thinks people who talk to God are religious, but those who hear God's voice are crazy. As though Hugh Laurie would know God if he stepped out from behind a burning bush. Yes, Michelle, there are times we aren't proud of our country either.

    Why is she always late? Monday Memories

    It's Monday--the schedule shows lots of meetings. You're tapping your fingers watching the second hand of the clock, wishing the chair would get this show on the road. But they're waiting for the late comers. Why is that? I answered this puzzling question here.

    Monday Memories

    The lawyers are lining up as you read

    Newt warned of this in a WSJ column a while back, and here's another from Feb. 11. Not that the Dems would listen, but Newt urged them to let Michigan and Florida have their say (they were smacked down and thrown out of the selection process for flexing too much independence) to avoid this possible fight. The nightmare of "super-delegates," one of whom is Bill Clinton, and other powerful rich Dems wiping out the little guy, is not a pretty picture. I hope that security patrol around Obama is pretty secure--messing with the Clinton machine has been dangerous for life, limb, career and reputation since their Arkansas days.

    "For over seven years the Democratic Party has fulminated against the Electoral College system that gave George W. Bush the presidency over popular-vote winner Al Gore in 2000. But they have designed a Rube Goldberg nominating process that could easily produce a result much like the Electoral College result in 2000: a winner of the delegate count, and thus the nominee, over the candidate favored by a majority of the party's primary voters. . .

    Would the U.S. Supreme Court even take the case after having been excoriated for years by liberals for daring to restore order in the Florida vote-counting in 2000? And, would Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, the dissenters in Bush v. Gore, feel as strongly about not intervening if Sen. Obama was fighting against an effort to change a presidential election by changing the rules after the fact? Will there be a brief filed by Floridians who didn't vote in their state's primary because the party had decided, and the candidates had agreed, that the results wouldn't count?"
    -- Theodore B. (Ted) Olson

    (HT Doyle)

    Also, the two drawings of the candidates in the WSJ article are the ones used most frequently, however, don't you think Hillary looks much younger--maybe by 20 years--and Barack looks much darker and older, maybe by 10 years and one additional black grandparent? Is this Wall Street Journal's way to influence the selection/election, and just who will be influenced by this subtle tweaking of features? Women? Blacks? Republicans? Artistic readers?

    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    One other reason to vote for McCain

    That makes two. National security is number one. Anyone come up with three?
      Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters says: "At least two Supreme Court justices will likely leave in the next four years, both of them from the Left, John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The election will determine whether the court continues to turn in a more constructionist direction, forcing policy back to Congress where it belongs, or whether activists can outlast the constructionists. Jurists nominated by Obama or Hillary will have a much different idea of the Supreme Court's role than those nominated by McCain."
    I'm still of the opinion that the Supreme Court shouldn't be making law. That's how the left sneaks around the will of the people, but we elect Representatives and Senators to make law, not just so they have a playground to go out and run for President.

    Campaign rhetoric and the Bible

    In office, politicians have their hands in your pocket; but during the campaign, those hands are in the Bible, picking and choosing verses for just the right moment. Once in office, politicians all pretty much do the same--ask for more money. Methods differ--JFK, Reagan, and Bush all brought more money into the government coffers by cutting taxes of the wealthiest; our current crop of campaigners, want to raise taxes of the wealthiest, because it isn't income, but gaps that concern them.

    Standing on scripture, they all have a good foundation--wealth and money is one of the most common topics in the Bible, ranging from not worshiping it, giving the government what it asks for, and sharing it with the less fortunate. It is fertile ground for the seeds of political campaigns, particularly with an electorate that claims a high percentage of belief in God--at least when polled. (Nearly 70% in 2007 according to Barna Research).

    The conservatives preach a hope found in the individual. This message of hope tells us we can do anything we want, achieve any goal by our own effort and builds our pride in a nation that allows this because it is rooted in Biblical principles.

    The liberals preach a hope found in a compassionate bureaucracy and code of laws, ever changing to meet the needs of the moment. This message of hope tells us we aren't there yet, but in our collective weakness there will eventually be strength to defeat all the forces of hunger, disease and personal unhappiness, even that brought on by our own behavior.

    Both conservatives and liberals use either Moses leading people to the promise land (Old Testament) or the city on the hill (New Testament) to rally the crowds, to promote a bill, or filabuster a colleague's plan.

    The conservatives during political campaigns urge us to remove the scaffolding that has been built up around our Constitution, a maze of court decisions, layers of codes, and reams of bills and laws, choking off access to the original structure.

    The liberals during political campaigns urge us to see the structure as still crumbling and unfinished, in need of more scaffolding, not less, more carpenters, brick layers, hod carriers, right down to the tiniest nail and brad.

    Over time, it has been easier to believe that a government is kind, benign and well-intentioned than to trust and believe in the goodness and decency of our neighbor, or even ourselves. After all, we don't even live up to our own standards, we'd better slap on another layer of government to make sure we do and say the right things.

    Although I'm a Christian, I'm not a Dispensationalist--I don't pour over biblical texts to piece together a theory of end times and use that as a reason to believe. But no matter who is preaching that theme, my high school classmate Dave who sends out via e-mail teachings exhorting us to believe, or the TV/radio preacher, or the pastor in your church, I've noticed that the United States doesn't seem to be remotely included in any of those texts.

    And that does worry me. Do you suppose we should stop standing on the Bible and start believing it?

    Saturday, February 23, 2008

    Orphans of the Revolution

    Carlos Eire, a Yale professor and author of "Waiting for Snow in Havana," talks about his life as one of Castro’s orphans, a Cuban tragedy from the 1960s. He was sent by his parents to the U.S. when he was 11 to protect him from Castro and communism. Even as a young child within a year after the revolution he noticed in school the group think and the fear of speaking out. His father died in 1976--he never saw him again. Here's a story that wouldn't sell in Hollywood. Those folks love Castro.

    From the Wall Street Journal Online

    Party on for the party

    According to the NYT which was sniffing out how campaigns were spending their money, for Hillary
      "Nearly $100,000 went for party platters and groceries before the Iowa caucuses, even though the partying mood evaporated quickly. Rooms at the Bellagio luxury hotel in Las Vegas consumed more than $25,000; the Four Seasons, another $5,000. And top consultants collected about $5 million in January, a month of crucial expenses and tough fund-raising."
    That's got to make the little party faithfuls who've been sending in their checks from Social Security of $25 or $30 feel a bit sick. $11,000 for pizza in just January?

    And then I read. . .what made the big donors angry. I know they've got money to burn, but they want results.
      The firm that includes Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton's chief strategist and pollster, and his team collected $3.8 million for fees and expenses in January; in total, including what the campaign still owes, the firm has billed more than $10 million for consulting, direct mail and other services, an amount other Democratic strategists who are not affiliated with either campaign called stunning.
    Rich pols in both parties just have no concept of how the rest of us live, do they? Think of that next time she gets teary over the plight of the working family.

    Story link.

    County seats of Ohio

    When you don't grow up in a state, these things don't come naturally. So here is a map of the counties with their county seats. I've been here 40 years now, it's time for me to know that Port Clinton is the county seat of Ottawa County where we have a second home, and that Sandusky isn't in Sandusky County, nor is Upper Sandusky, Ottawa isn't in Ottawa County, and Urbana is the county seat of Champaign County (I wonder if homesick Ohioans settled in central Illinois?). Now that I've joined the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance, I'd better know some of these county issues.

    TB--Technology Burnout

    I think I have it. Last night I reloaded the software on my HP laptop for the 4th or 5th time in a year--I've learned not to keep valuable files on it. But the cd burner works, which doesn't on my old PC. My new PC is in the guest room still boxed up--I bought it before Christmas. Not only will I have to learn Vista, but some of my favorite programs will not work, because they are generations old as software counts its age. My A-fib kicks in just contemplating moving from my old Family Tree Maker to the new version. What if I lose a great great grandparent in the transition? That cute little photo printer I wrote about last July? Still in the box.

    My husband wants to show his photos of Haiti to the children at Highland school where he helps in the math/science class. This preciptated the great CD hunt for the photos from last year; then looking at the disc someone else made because that's all we could find; which meant a hunt for our old DVD player (got a new one at Christmas from our daughter), thinking our disc might be in it; and sorting through various untitled discs in my office; and finding the new mouse that doesn't work with anything. Once I got the laptop up and running, we inserted various discs and I taught him how to look at those files and tediously move 167 photos into a new folder I'd created on the laptop--truly you don't want to subject 4th graders to 700 photos, some (many) badly composed. Whoever had made the disc we were viewing had folders within folders within folders, plus had misspelled Ouanaminthe on everything (used a Q in stead of an O, and it doesn't really matter, it's just annoying--and I often misspell it too--think "Juana").

    All this leads up to Walt's 100th edition of Cites & Insights. Although he is writing for the library crowd, both the IT people and librarians (he's IT), he covers a lot of territory that I think is useful for people like me--teetering on the edge of insanity over technology changes and frustrations. His style of writing is so much like mine I often resolve to change after I read an issue--adverbosity, side bars, parentheticals, interesting asides, philosophical insights, etc., but he is left of center and I am right of center. He pretty much stays out of politics in his professional writing, so that part doesn't matter much. Being a reformed liberal, I notice it, however. Even after reading his assessment on the paper/print costs of various printers, I printed the whole issue and plan to enjoy it this morning at the coffee shop. If I can get there. We had an ice storm last night. Thanks, Walt, and congratulations on your 100th issue. I need you more every day!

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    Change: coins of a low denomination

    Democratic Debate. Austin, Feb. 21, 2008

    unified to bring about changes in this country.

    we now have an opportunity to potentially change the relationship between the United States and Cuba after over half a century.

    solid agenda for moving change forward in the next presidency.

    And it is my strong belief that the changes are only going to come about if we're able to form a working coalition for change

    And that's a policy that I'm going to change when I'm president of the United States. [outreach to Mexico]

    I do think there is a fundamental difference between us [Clinton and Obama] in terms of how change comes about

    I've been talking about making sure that we change our tax code so that working families actually get relief.

    and so my plan was pretty good. It's not as good now, but my plan hasn't changed. The politics have changed a little bit.

    the American people have to be involved and educated about how this change is going to be brought about.

    but if we don't change how the politics is working in Washington,

    and that's what I intend to change when I am president of the United States of America.

    Channeling FDR

    The U.S. could have been out of the Great Depression by 1933, saving our parents and grandparents much grief. When you look at our recovery compared to Canada’s or some of the European nations, you see how FDR’s diddling and fiddling, setting up an alphabet soup of agencies to bring business under the heavy hand of the federal government, practically destroyed the country. The war didn't save us economically--we were pulling out of the FDR quagmire by 1941--but it took his eye off the ball, and he had to put his energies elsewhere. The rhetoric I hear today from Hillabama sounds like they’ve been channeling his speeches and ideas from the 1930s.
      “Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945, removed from the presidency an enormously shrewd and resourceful leader who had for the past decade expressed a hostility bordering on hatred for investors as a class. Many business people, among others, had feared that FDR harbored dictatorial ambition; some believed that he ultimately did exercise arbitrary power in some if not all areas—for instance, his unconstitutional “destroyer deal” of 1940 in which, without congressional approval, he gave away fifty warships of the U.S. Navy to a foreign power. His demise must have enhanced the confidence many investors felt in the future security of their remaining private property rights.”
    "Regime uncertainty: Why the Great Depression lasted so long and why prosperity resumed after the War,” by Robert Higgs, Independent Review, vol. 1, no. 4, Spring 1997, pp. 561-590. Here.

    A warehouse full of abandoned hope

    If you don't like Bush's NCLB, maybe you'll prefer what the Democrats have done in Detroit? This story about education in Detroit at Sweet Juniper (HT Blake at turned my stomach. Somebody's taxes paid for this. Yours and mine.
      "This is a building where our deeply-troubled public school system once stored its supplies, and then one day apparently walked away from it all, allowing everything to go to waste. The interior has been ravaged by fires and the supplies that haven't burned have been subjected to 20 years of Michigan weather. To walk around this building transcends the sort of typical ruin-fetishism and "sadness" some get from a beautiful abandoned building. This city's school district is so impoverished that students are not allowed to take their textbooks home to do homework, and many of its administrators are so corrupt that every few months the newspapers have a field day with their scandals, sweetheart-deals, and expensive trips made at the expense of a population of children who can no longer rely on a public education to help lift them from the cycle of violence and poverty that has made Detroit the most dangerous city in America. To walk through this ruin, more than any other, I think, is to obliquely experience the real tragedy of this city; not some sentimental tragedy of brick and plaster, but one of people.

      Pallet after pallet of mid-1980s Houghton-Mifflin textbooks, still unwrapped in their original packaging, seem more telling of our failures than any vacant edifice. The floor is littered with flash cards, workbooks, art paper, pencils, scissors, maps, deflated footballs and frozen tennis balls, reel-to-reel tapes. Almost anything you can think of used in the education of a child during the 1980s is there, much of it charred or rotted beyond recognition. Mushrooms thrive in the damp ashes of workbooks. Ailanthus altissima, the "ghetto palm" grows in a soil made by thousands of books that have burned, and in the pulp of rotted English Textbooks. Everything of any real value has been looted. All that's left is an overwhelming sense of knowledge unlearned and untapped potential. It is almost impossible not to see all this and make some connection between the needless waste of all these educational supplies and the needless loss of so many lives in this city to poverty and violence, though the reality of why these supplies were never used is unclear. In some breathtakingly-beautiful expression of hope, an anonymous graffiti artist has painted a phoenix-like book rising from the ashes of the third floor."
    The writer claims not to know why these supplies were never used. Isn't that odd? Pork is pork, whether it's New Orleans levees or Detroit's schools or a bridge to nowhere in Alaska, and somewhere on a dusty shelf there is a book with a list of the guilty who promised the children of Detroit they'd bring home the bacon. The writer seems to have made it out alive with excellent communications skills, so let's hope there were others. You just won't believe the photographs.

    If there's a huge, crumbling American city with corrupt government and do-nothing state reps in DC that is controlled by the Republican machine, I have forgotten the name. But maybe in Detroit they "have hope" for "a change" sometime in "the future." Maybe they're swooning over Obama if they've forgotten their history.

    Someone thinks an MLS matters

    While browsing through the University of Illinois Library School (not called that anymore--maybe never was) announcements I noticed that on Feb. 27 there would be a talk by Rya Ben-Shir, MLS, Senior Manager, Intelligencenter, Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. Deerfield, Illinois on why she and Takeda Pharmaceuticals insist on MLS/MLIS prepared librarians for all of their librarian positions. How novel. Illinois didn't choose an MLS trained librarian as their Dean, John Unsworth,--they went for high tech--and Ohio State's Library Director, Joe Branin, is moving that direction by proposing the MLS be removed as a requirement for professional positions. I think we could see the writing on the wall when a number of years ago, they added “be willing to obtain an MLS within two years” so they could attract some skills or ethnic groups to round out the technical and affirmative action requirements. Often that was stop gap, with the new hires moving on quickly, because then they had both the MLS and the desired status that other institutions were wanting. ALA is no help. It pokes its leftist nose into every little cranny of political and navel gazing movement, leaving librarians to struggle on their own with low salaries, failing bond issues, and a professional leadership always chasing the talent brass ring of other professions. It wouldn't surprise me if ALA takes pride in the fact that beginning librarians, with advanced degrees, probably qualify for government earned income relief, government health insurance for their children and school lunch programs.

    When two college kids invented a better way a mere decade ago to find and serve up information (Google), and librarians oo'd and ah'd, dithered and quivered over digital rights, and then went on with business as usual to save the world through socialist politics and local lyceums, our fate was sealed. And they, idealist entrepreneurs, became millionaires many times over. We should have stuck with our knitting.

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Meet our newest pastor

    Eric Waters. Here's his first sermon at the X-Alt service at Lytham Rd., UALC (Upper Arlington Lutheran Church which has 3 campuses) and it's on God's wrath. Listen carefully as he reads God's word to the Romans. He's not reading. He speaks the scripture from memory, and it makes a huge difference as you watch him, because he's also performing it with facial expression and hand movements. But before you get the good news, you need the bad news. So it's a good introduction not only to him, but to the gospel. His speech pattern, you'll notice, is not midwestern--he's come to us from Fargo, ND but grew up in New York state. However, he was a Russian major in college, worked for awhile in Siberia, and I think I detect that in the up and down, the flow, the staccato. See what you think.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Isn't this backwards?

    According to a story at The Kept Up Librarian
      The University of Oklahoma is hoping to keep more high-achieving upperclassmen living on campus by giving them cash rebates for good grades. President David Boren said OU would be the first in the Big 12 to reward on-campus students for high grade-point averages. The initiative, called the OU Academic Success Rebate Program, will reward upper-class and graduate students living in OU Traditions Square or the residence halls beginning this fall. Read more at:
    I thought you got the best results by rewarding the low achievers, taking the money from the high achievers by raising their fees and driving them off campus, or better yet, out of state. That's how the Hillabama Democrats would do it.

    The Democrats and taxing the rich

    The campaign ads display Hillabama pulling out all the old, old class rhetoric from the 60s--I guess they don't realize all those spoiled, struggling boomers the lefties romanced back then are now well-heeled 60 year olds. They were in control of Congress for so many years, I wonder why all of society's problems weren't fixed? Yes, they will stop those tax breaks for the rich. Drum roll. Women faint. Men swoon. Businesses and corporations leave for friendlier climes.

    The Democrats created the Alternative Minimum Tax in 1969, but due to bipartisan neglect neither party has fixed it. It's a mess of unintended consequences--known as the "stealth tax." It was originally set up to punish 19,000 very successful, wealthy Americans who weren't paying taxes (millions at the bottom don't pay taxes because people at the top pay for them, but that's OK--that's fair). The AMT was not set up to account for inflation, so now it scams many who are not even close to wealthy by today's standards, and if you're subject to it, you can't deduct your state and local taxes. The AMT wasn't even set up to get revenue--it was some bureaucrat's idea of "fair," and it never even achieved that! It's a boon for the tax preparers, though; that's one industry our government constantly helps out--compliance costs the US taxpayer millions and millions and many hours that could be used productively in something else. Now with the bipartisan ennui, they are raking in so much money, they're afraid to drop it, so they make temporary fixes and patches. Twenty six million Americans will be snagged by the AMT for 2008 according to today's paper*, up from 4 million for 2007 and 2006.

    And how about that wonderful, bipartisan stimulus package? Those who contribute the most to the economy and pay the most taxes will get nothing back. The $112 billion in "stimulus" is phased out for individuals paying taxes on incomes over $75,000, or jointly on $150,000. How's that for fair?

    Nor will there be "debt relief" for those who were sensible and played by the sound rules of 20% down, fixed rate mortgages, and a budgeted percentage of their income for housing. They'll be bailing out the neighbors who went for no money down, false documents and the adjusted rates, which if they had read the contract, always go up. They have no choice but to send more money to Washington, because if they don't, the neighborhood will go. What Suckers! But Hillabama to the rescue. They'll fix it--by making the honest guy pay.

    *Although I don't have a link to the article I read on the AMT, here is one very similar.

    Three Word Wednesday

    Bone has posted for 3WW
    for us to play with this week. Before I checked the clues, I was sorting laundry, and again thinking about how I could turn the old t-shirts from VBS, traveling, library conferences and organizations into a quilt. My mom used to cut t-shirts into strips and crochet the fabric into rugs, but quilting them saves the event or organization, and thus your memories. I've got San Antonio, Seattle and Shedd's Museum. I've got a "I heart my library," and Walk with Majors. I've got a Lakeside Ohio tour of my husband's projects. I've got dogs, horses and kitties. So here's my little poem. The photo is from Goose tracks and she will quilt t-shirts supplied by you for a fee, if you're not crafty or don't have the time.

    Punch up the memories,
    unravel the past,
    cut up those t-shirts,
    the first and the last

    Arrange the design
    and a contrasting thread,
    make a new coverlet
    to place on the bed.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Men's fashion

    At the coffee shop this morning I consulted with one of the regulars, a man who formerly managed a men's store, about this photo. I'm not up on floral ties--at least not since I used to make neckties for my husband back in the early 1970s. And I think he took a few resembling this with him on the Haiti mission and left them there.

    This photo is in the March 2008 Architectural Digest in a double page layout featuring a yellow sports car in front of a stone mansion (or it could be that stone house in Attica, Ohio). This photo nips off the top of the model's head a little. My consultant shook his head and said, "No, blue with a small print would work." I went all through the Lauren web page looking for this photo, finding instead the same model in the same suit with a blue tie. Finally, I located it in a style guide. The model has a nose like a hockey player, and that makes his face interesting and less effeminate. The slickered hair and large lapels give him a sense of history--1930s or 40s. He's the most featured model at that web site. And I don't think the point of the right lapel sticking up above the shoulder line is an oversight. . . it seems to be purposeful to draw your eye there to linger for awhile. And yet, the leaf of the flower is perfectly centered in the knot of the tie. The model's eyes repeat the color scheme and the horizontal white chair back peeking over his left shoulder is repeated in the white hanky.

    A man dressed like this . . .well, anyway, it is a very purposeful, artistic composition.

    House cleaning tips

    I'm now officially an S.O.B. Yes, I've joined the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance. I looked through a few of the sites, read some good ones and decided to join. I had a little trouble with the code, but you can find it down the left side, somewhere below medical and before the 50+ folks.

    Today I ran clear water through my little 3 cup coffee maker. I always go out for coffee--in fact, I'm known for my bad coffee. But I made coffee for my dinner party Friday night and this morning for my husband (I usually bring it home, but forgot). Everyone commented on how good the coffee was. Now that I've cleaned the pot, I've probably removed whatever was causing that.

    The clothes my husband brought home from the Haiti mission trip were really dirty. He unpacked in the laundry room and put everything in sorted piles, and then cleaned the suitcases. Haiti is very dusty and dirty because over the years the people have cut down all the trees for fuel and cooking. When I went down to load the laundry this morning, I discovered the cat had thrown up a hair ball and last night's supper in the shirt pile. Oh well, saved the carpet.

    I heard a laundry tip on the radio a few months ago that really seems to work. Wash your whites with bleach in COLD water instead of hot. The bleach works more effectively. I was skeptical, but I think I'm a believer.

    Omama. I have change, hope and a future.

    The future of hope

    In the Baker's Dictionary of Christian Ethics, (1973) Hope is defined as
      "the conviction that God will judge the evil of the world and create a new heaven and a new earth with righteousness. The Old Testament prophets tell us that the whole of history is divinely ordered, and interpreted even the most hopeless hours in the light of the coming victory of God. A new age will replace the present one and end all woe and sin."
    I suspect that isn't the direction Barry and Mama Obama are taking us.
      "The New Testament takes up the theme of the Old Testament idea, but elucidates, sharpens, and specifies it at the same time."
    Is this where Obama comes in?
      "Jesus through his life, suffering, death, and resurrection laid the basis for that final intervention of God in history and human experience. Christian hope is concerned with the future of every human being, but it does not end there. The overarching concern encompasses the new humanity or Christ's church."
    So the hope is the Kingdom of God? Seems to be some disagreement even among Christians about "what is our hope?"
      "The theologians of hope want to rewrite theology in terms of categories of change--a total restructuring takes place where God is seen as part of the changing process."
    Hmm. Did this guy write Obama's theme speeches? Hope, future, change? This might be the most religious guy we've ever had running for the White House! Oh, wait.
      "As promised in the Scriptures, [hope is] demonstrated in the resurrection of God's Son, and experienced by Christians in the past and present."

    My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

    On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand;
    All other ground is sinking sand.

    When darkness seems to hide His face,
    I rest on His unchanging grace.
    In every high and stormy gale,
    My anchor holds within the veil.

    On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand;
    All other ground is sinking sand.

    His oath, His covenant, His blood,
    Support me in the whelming flood.
    When all around my soul gives way,
    He then is all my Hope and Stay.

    On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand;
    All other ground is sinking sand.

    When He shall come with trumpet sound,
    Oh may I then in Him be found.
    Dressed in His righteousness alone,
    Faultless to stand before the throne.

    On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand;
    All other ground is sinking sand.


    Cite your sources!

    There's a full page ad in the paper today from the State of New York Commissioner of Health addressed to Disney, GE, News Corp., Sony, Time Warner and Viacom.
      "The science is clear: exposure to smoking in movies is the single most powerful pro-tobacco influence on children today, accounting for the recruitment of half of all new adolescent smokers."
    No one is more anti-tobacco than I am, but for statements like that, I'd like to see some sources. It sounds like big government trying to push aside the influence of parenting, church, school, social network, and the non-Hollywood arts industry. I went on-line and looked at various studies (CDC, BMJ) read through the summaries, then the corrections, then the citations where authors were often citing themselves (bad form), and I even came across one that said that although incidence of smoking in movies was going down, smoking was going up! And yet the letter claims,
      "Tobacco imagery delivers nearly 200,000 U.S. adolescents into tobacco addition each year."
    I think, if I read correctly, that for a certain percentage of young teens who try smoking, many have seen a movie in the past year where actors were smoking. I don't know how many who try smoking after seeing an R movie (and where are their parents?) have also been taken to concerts, art museums, plays, library story hours, school lyceums, sporting events and school parties. Do they want to buy a hockey stick or a box of watercolors? I hope they've adjusted for other influences. I suspect that the first cigarette needs to be reinforced by some other type of influence--either genetic predisposition, family members who smoke, or peer acceptance or all three. My son, who is trying to stop his 20+ year addiction, says he was hooked after the first cigarette because he liked how it made him feel. Then smoking behavior was reinforced at school, which at that time allowed it on campus. I tried smoking in junior high, and again in college. It didn't do a thing for me, tasted awful and made my clothes and hair stink, plus I had disapproval from friends, so what would be the point? Smoking was probably in every movie I'd ever seen in the 1950s and 60s and when I was in high school, I saw several movies a week. And they really made it look glamorous and fun in those days. Obesity is passing tobacco as a health problem. Especially in childhood. Next: no movies showing restaurants, eating or snacking. No previews announcing food in the lobby. No popcorn allowed.

    So guys, if the science is clear, make your citations clear also.

    Michelle Obama helps John McCain

    Michelle Obama who probably is wealthier and has more education than 90% of the the US population is so distraught about how awful it is to be an American lawyer, educated at Ivy League prestigious universities, married to a Senator, that her speech has really invigorated the right to come out for McCain.
      “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” she told a Milwaukee crowd, “because it feels like hope is making a comeback.”
    If this is the "hope" and the "future" and the "change" that her husband represents, we'd better start looking for the good old days, because this woman is totally self-absorbed, spoiled and stuck-on-stupid. Yes, Michelle, you have convinced me. I'll hold my nose and vote for McCain rather than someone whose knowledge of politics and history extends to the tip of her pretty nose and sound of her mellifluous voice.

    I'm beginning to think that both Hillary and Obama need to deep six their spouses until after the election. With supporters like this, they won't need enemies.

    Home from Haiti

    My husband has returned from a mission trip to Haiti. He loves the people, even though it is a bit of a culture shock going in and coming home. This year he was more prepared, mentally and physically. He worked on some construction projects building covers for medical equipment for the clinic and taught a class in architectural drawing to 12th graders. They loved it, and so did he. These kids are so bright and motivated, he says it is a real pleasure to work with them.

    This is a photo of the Ouanaminthe Airport, and he did NOT fly in here (thank goodness!) The team flew into the Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and were picked up by our pastor, Dave Mann, in a school bus for a 4.5 ride to the border city of Dajabon. Because the border is closed by the time they get there, they spend the night in a hotel, and continue on in the morning, but it's only about 10 more minutes. They get there in time for church. You can fly from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to the Ouanaminthe airport in about 30 minutes, but it would be about 11 hours (bad roads) by bus, so that's why they fly into Santo Domingo. Both countries are on the same island. The standard of living, the infrastructure, the industry, and the greenery of the countryside are night and day, and they are divided by a river named Massacre.

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Please don't squeeze. . .

    Meredith Whipple of Columbus, Ohio, had a letter in the paper (USA Today):
      "When I see a political leader relying on the Word of God to solve the nation's problems, I begin to question whether he or she has a real strategy in place."
    When I see a political leader relying on the Word of God I will be in a state of shock, because I've never seen it. Black or white, Democrat or Republican, male or female, Jew or Gentile, gay or straight, Red or Blue state, fat or thin, Berkeley or Boise, I just have never seen a leader of this nation from zoning board to the White House, rely on the Word of God. Sprinkling a few god words in a speech during campaign season to warm the hearts of the voters doesn't qualify, Ms. Whipple.

    Lose 5 lbs. by Easter

    10 lbs. by Memorial Day. That was the story in USAToday this morning. So that's 5 weeks, or a pound a week. There were some interesting suggestions--in addition to more veggies and fruit, portion control, etc., which I hope we all know by now.
      Put magazines with covers of fit people on your coffee table.

      Hang a summer outfit where you can see it.

      Decrease or eliminate fruit juice and sugary drinks, as well as alcohol and coffee dessert drinks.

      Sit down at the table to eat.
    One pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories, so to lose one pound a week, you should eat 500 fewer calories each day. That probably means my husband will need to finish the chocolate peanut butter pie that's in the frig.

    Colorful food tend to be more nutrient dense--blueberries, broccoli, peppers, etc. Remember, mother always said to eat all the colors. That's probably not dark chocolate candy, or golden corn chips.

    If you drink a glass of water before a meal, you'll feel more full.

    Before you go for seconds, wait 10 minutes; your body will probably tell you that you're already full. Of course, in some homes, everyone will have left the kitchen or cleared the table if you wait ten minutes. Everyone is in such a hurry!

    Wear a pedometer. 1000 steps is 1/2 mile. 10 flights of stairs is one mile.

    Eat real food. Take the word "snack" right out of your vocabulary. Think about it. A snack usually increases your hunger, not decreases it. It's a set up--don't go down that aisle, don't try that recipe. It's a trick. And a billion dollar business.

    See for more tips.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Can you define a "living wage?"

    Or, how about an "American working family?" These terms are pandering policy pablum. It's like trying to figure out the word, "uninsured." It's nailing Jello to the wall.

    Let's begin with two classic cases--both single moms with 2 children. Melanie had a significant other she met in college, but they never married, and he's wandered off the reservation looking for more significance. Her first pregnancy stopped her education, and besides, she liked staying home with cute babies. She doesn't know where the SO is, so there's no child support. She's working at Wendy's for $7.00 an hour--$14,800/year. She's not unhappy; she likes the work--has flexible hours, regular customers she knows by face and order, and can walk to work, although she has a "beater" car. She's a whiz at e-Bay and picks up a little cash by hitting the garage sales on her day off. She's worked at a dry-cleaners but the fumes bothered her, and at Tim Horton's, but the scheduling didn't suit, and has waitressed at family restaurants like Applebee's and Bag of Nails earning more, but she likes the management here. She occasionally dates the men she meets on the other side of the counter.

    Then there's Tanika. She's divorced and her husband has decided to find himself in the entertainment world, but borrows more money than he sends. He drinks or smokes what is left after he's paid under the table at various clubs when his group performs. Each time she talks to him, he's just about to land the big break. Tanika's no dummy. She's always been told that education is the key to a better life. With help from her parents and various scholarships, and some state aid, she has finally completed the Kent State program in Library Science. Although she's relieved to have landed a job in the public library of a nice suburb of Columbus for $16.40 an hour in a tight job market, she does have to work some evenings and occasional week-ends, and has no flexibility to trade hours. Also, she's got some whopping school debts to repay, and she's maxed out several credit cards. Her dad keeps her car repaired and running. Her mom invites her and the kids over for dinner often, and babysits when Tanika works evenings and week-ends. The library is so busy, she knows none of the people who pass through. Social life is zilch, nada, nyet and she's too pooped to even take the kids to the pool. Her day off is a school day, so she volunteers at the Lutheran Food Pantry.

    As you might have surmised, Melanie is better off than Tanika, plus she could have the satisfaction of knowing she is keeping a small army of government workers busy!
      She is eligible for a piece of the Earned Income Tax Credit ($40+ billion), which is a cash supplement to wages of the "working poor," and at her income that's an additional $4,536 a year.

      At various times she has received help from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families because of the dead-beat dad thing until her eligibility ran out. Between jobs, she stayed on unemployment benefits as long as she could--one time almost 3 years. Although she much prefers working, she never felt a sitter did as good a job with the kids as she could do herself.

      She receives a housing voucher ($16 billion), which is much more pleasant than having to live in "the projects," and although there are others in her complex--actually many--no one seems to notice. In fact, she and Tanika's family don't live far from each other and the kids play together at the pool.

      In addition to food stamps, which add about $100 a week to her grocery budget* ($35 billion through USDA), her children are eligible for the National Student Lunch Program, the Breakfast Program, the after school snack program, and the summer lunch program--plus she gets her own meals at Wendy's. In fact, they're all packing on a few extra pounds--no one is going hungry, that's for sure. The NSL and SBP (from the Ohio Department of Education via the USDA) also provide these services to runaways, homeless and migrant children, but Melanie is a pretty stable gal with good values, she's "always paid her own way," so there's not much danger of that. If she runs out towards the end of the month because the cable bill was due, she can get 3 days of food at the Lutheran Food Pantry.

      Melanie would have to pay a pretty high co-pay for company health benefits, so she keeps passing on that during sign up periods, but she's eligible for SCHIP (as is Tanika who is making under $40,000 but has never applied**), and it provides some coverage like dental, prescription and special lab work she couldn't get through an employers' health program.
    A few months ago Melanie's boyfriend got religion and called her, wanting to do right by her and the children and make it all legal--white dress, church, flowers, etc. But she turned him down. Even if he got a job at another Wendy's their combined income would throw off her eligibility, and financially, her kids would much much worse off. She's happy where she is--who needs to marry?

    Melanie and Tanika are fictitious; the programs are not.

    *In Ohio a family of three would be eligible for about $100 a week in food stamps, the gross eligibility being $21,600 of family income.

    **An October 2007 study found that 68.7 percent of newly uninsured children were in families whose incomes were 200 percent of the federal poverty level or higher.