Saturday, April 30, 2005

Stones Cry Out: Unto the Least of These

One little girl filled with compassion can make a big difference.
Jessica is the daughter of our friends. Every day, the school bus comes for Jessica, who happens to be the last child on the route. On this particular bus, the kids have assigned seating, and Jessica sits next to the same young boy--day after day. And, day after day, this young, frightened boy cried the whole trip. He was crying when the bus came to Jessica's house, and he cried the rest of the way to school...
Use the title link for the rest of the story.

Hat tip:

China Doctor of John Day

The grand opening of the Kam Wah Chung Visitor Center in John Day, Oregon, is tomorrow, with Oregon's first lady Mary Oberst and Rep. Greg Walden among the dignitaries. The Kam Wah Chung & Co. building served as a social center for the early Chinese community in Oregon - and herbalist Ing Hay of the Kam Wah Chung was extremely popular with non-Chinese residents as well. I've heard many stories of people driving for hours just to consult him, and almost as many stories of people who claim that they or a relative were saved by "Doc Hay" after being written off by other doctors. He is also rather famous for not cashing checks, but that's another story. All in all, I'd have to say he's one of the most beloved historical figures we have in this part of the world.

The following book was out of print and hard to find for a while, but it's been reissued by Binford & Mort Publishing, trade paperback ISBN 0832303461. The co-authors are Jeffrey Barlow and Christine Richardson.

China Doctor of John Day
China Doctor of John Day

The building shown on the book cover is the Kam Wah Chung. It was constructed in the mid-1800s as a trading post, and is now a museum.

For more on the Kam Wah Chung, see

From the Grant County Chamber of Commerce website's page on the Kam Wah Chung:

In 1887, two young Chinese immigrants, Lung On and Ing Hay purchased the building on the site in John Day, Oregon and made it their home and the social and religious center of the Chinese community. Lung On operated a general store to supply miners and the public in the area, sold "bootleg" whiskey during prohibition, sold the first automobiles in Eastern Oregon in 1909 and was an advocate for the Chinese. Ing "Doc" Hay was a master of herbal medicine and pulse diagnosis and operated a lucrative practice in the building until 1948...

Actually, I should probably amend my earlier statement. Lung On and Ing Hay, together, are two of this area's favorite historical figures. There are pictures of them on the Chamber of Commerce page.

"When I'm an old lady and live with my kids"

From a homeschooling site, comes this poem, author unknown, which seems like a good one to run about now - just in case you thought you could skip Mother's Day celebrations this year. :)

When I'm an old lady, I'll live with my kids,
and make their life happy and filled with such fun,
I want to pay back all the joy they've provided,
returning each deed. Oh, they'll be so excited.
...When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

I'll write on the wall with red, white, and blue;
and bounce on the furniture wearing my shoes.
I'll drink from the carton and then leave it out.
I'll stuff all the toilets and oh, how they'll shout.
...When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

When they're on the phone and just out of reach,
I'll get into things like sugar and bleach.
Oh, they'll snap their fingers and then shake their head,
and when that is done I'll hide under the bed.
...When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

When they cook dinner and call me to meals,
I'll not eat my green beans or salads congealed.
I'll gag on my okra, spill milk on the table,
and when they get angry, run fast as I'm able.
...When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

I'll sit close to the TV, through the channels I'll click.
I'll cross both my eyes to see if they stick.
I'll take off my socks and throw one away,
and play in the mud until the end of the day.
...When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

And later in bed, I'll lay back and sigh,
and thank God in prayer and then close my eyes;
and my kids will look down with a smile slowly creeping,
and say with a groan, "She's so sweet when she's sleeping."
...When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.

I looked for this poem elsewhere on the Internet, hoping to turn up an author to credit. No luck on the author, but it's on lots and lots and lots of other websites, in one variation or another.

Mother's Day in the United States is on Sunday, May 8, this year.

Update: A reader writes that his mother, Joanne Bailey Baxter, is the author. He provides the original, copyrighted poem in the comments section here.

Jonah Goldberg: Environmentalism is dead - Long live environmentalism!

Jonah Goldberg gives us reason to hope that environmental policy might become more sane and people friendly:

I was recently invited to speak to C-Fact, a conservative environmentalist group at the University of Minnesota. To some this might sound about as weird as saying I was invited to speak to a group of Socialist Yachtsmen in Monaco. Of course, there are plenty of yachtsmen who are more or less socialists (whether they meet in Monaco, I have no idea - but I will gladly go speak to them there). And, there are conservatives who love the environment - more of them than you might realize. More importantly, young conservatives are willing to fight for the environmentalist label, and that's a sign of progress...

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a whole lot of good coming from the newest wave of adults and near-adults. I am amazed at how many of them are fighting back against PC madness of all sorts. Bravo.

UPDATE: C-Fact turns out to be a national organization, otherwise known as Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow. I just visited their homepage at The motto on the top of the page reads "A national student organization dedicated to promoting a smarter future for people - and nature too!"

Study in Sisu: Finland’s Fight For Independence, by Austin Goodrich

Sometimes you read a book and it changes how you view a certain part of the world. When I read Study in Sisu: Finland’s Fight for Independence by Austin Goodrich, Ballentine Books, 1960, a few years ago, it left me with a higher regard for Finland and its people.

From the back cover of my copy (ellipsis in original):
SISU… courage, obstinacy, “guts”…four million Finns living in the jaws of Soviet Communism – flaunting their independence!

SISU is a national characteristic of the Finnish people. It accounts for their great exploits:

…The winning of independence from Russia in 1918, led by the genius of Marshall Mannerheim and SISU

…The 1939 Winter War against the Russians, when the vastly outnumbered Finns destroyed five Soviet divisions, using Molotov cocktails, the “motti” tactic, and SISU

…The continuing fight against Communist “silent aggression,” avoiding the fate of Czechoslovakia, without foreign aid but with SISU

A saga of courage and idealism at the Eastern parapet of democracy.
This book is out of print, and of course history has veered a little since it was written, but it’s a great reminder that more than once in the past when the Finns were up against overwhelming odds, enough of them mustered the deep strength they needed to fight back hard enough and smart enough and long enough to win.

When I checked the Internet this morning there were just a few copies for sale used, with prices ranging from five bucks on up.

The Scotsman - Business - Art for artists' pensions sake

I missed this article back on April 19 when it came out, but I guess there's a minor international trend to set up retirement trusts with contributed art works. From Tim Corrnwell, Arts Correspondent, writing in the Business Section of The Scotsman:

A PENSION trust where artists will pay installments in their own artworks was launched in London yesterday, dangling the prospect of a retirement nest egg for a very insecure profession.

The UK trust would aim to cover 250 working artists, vetted by experts before they join the scheme. They would contribute 20 artworks over 20 years, to be sold when prices are judged to be right...

A similar scheme was launched in the United States last year. After the launch of the UK scheme yesterday, Berlin is set to be next. The Artist Pension Trust offered few details on what cash sums artists could expect to receive from a collection that would run to 2,000 works of visual art, from video to paintings...
On that last point, perhaps it's because in the real world it's impossible for The Artist Pension Trust to have any idea whatsoever what prices the art will fetch down the road. Especially the art they haven't seen yet. At a guess.

Despite Mr. Cornwell's minor confusion about where money comes from and how it is allocated and by whom, the article is overall an interesting read. (Use title link.)

For more details, see

I wish The Artist Pension Trust and its associated artists all the luck in the world. After all, the program is showing a fair amount of both initiative and prudence, and it promotes personal responsibility in a community-cushioned kind of way. I don't know about you, but I find that much better than asking for government handouts ripped from the pockets of taxpayers.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Sierra Faith: Benedict XVI and Cats

I like this. Benedict XVI feeds cats. Before becoming Pope, his habit apparently was to take a late night stroll around the gardens, say the Rosary, and then feed and pet the cats. Use the title link for two stories, one from Germany, one from Australia.

P.S. Sierra Faith has just switched away from Blogger. If you are linked to them, you might have to update to

New Book: The Pirate Coast, by Richard Zacks

The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805
The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805

This book is scheduled to be released this June in hardback and audio. (Release dates, of course, are always subject to change.)

FROM THE PUBLISHER (via Barnes & Noble)

A real-life thriller from acclaimed historian and author of The Pirate Hunter, Richard Zacks -- the true story of the unheralded American who brought the Barbary Pirates to their knees.

In an attempt to stop the legendary Barbary Pirates of North Africa from hijacking American ships, William Eaton set out in 1805 on a secret mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli. The operation was sanctioned by President Thomas Jefferson, but at the last moment he grew wary of "intermeddling" in a foreign government, and Eaton set off without proper national support.

Short on supplies, given very little money and only a few men, Eaton and his mission seemed doomed from the start. But against all odds, he improbably triumphed, recruiting a band of European mercenaries in Alexandria, along with some Arab cavalry and Bedouin fighters, and leading them on a march across the Libyan Desert. Once in Tripoli, the ragtag army defeated the local troops and successfully captured Derne, laying the groundwork for the demise of the Barbary Pirates. The success of the event is immortalized in the Marines' Hymn, but Jefferson never allowed Eaton the fame he craved. Now, Richard Zacks brings this important story from our nation's history to life.

Richard Zacks, author of the heralded The Pirate Hunter, is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and a freelance journalist for Atlantic Monthly, Life, Time, and numerous other publications. He lives in New York City.
For a related story, see

Common Sense Junction: A Big Day For Little Ships

This ties in with my post yesterday on the mutiny on the Bounty. From yesterday's Common Sense Junction, there's a brief look at (and related links for) the Bounty mutiny, Mark Twain's "The Great Revolution in Pitcairn", Admiral David Farragut capturing New Orleans in 1862, and Thor Heyerdahl and five crewmates setting out in 1947 on the Kon-Tiki to prove that Peruvians could have settled Polynesia.

Chronicles of the American Civil War

The subtitle at this website says "Daily bits of 19th and early 20th century writings related to the Civil War."

There are several categories: General/ Anecdotes, Poetry and Incidents of the War; N and S/ Photo History of Civil War, V7, Prisons and Hospitals/ Rebel War Clerk’s Diary/ Diary of a Yankee in the Patent Office/ Prelude to Conflict/ War 1861.

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: Rush to Victory

Columnist Daniel Henninger looks at what getting rid of the "Fairness Doctrine" unleashed:

In 1987, Rush Limbaugh sat down at a microphone at radio station KFBK-AM in Sacramento and began broadcasting something called "The Rush Limbaugh Show."

The rest is history...
And it's not just Rush, of course, not by a long shot. Once Ronald Reagan took the sledge hammer of the Fairness Doctrine out of the hands of politicians, a lot has changed.

The Fairness Doctrine was one of those things that sounds good on paper (in a nutshell, it required broadcasters to provide "contrasting viewpoints" in their programming). But in reality it got used by people in power to keep other people out of power. Use the title link for Henninger's explanation.

Hat tip: Bookworm Room

West Coast Pundits: Air America Deserves Ridicule, Not Charges of Criminality

The Colonel at West Coast Pundits thinks that the people who are calling Air America "evil" are giving poor programming too much credit. He's listened to them (I haven't).

UPDATE: The Colonel has written with some important clarifications. See comments.

Catholic World News : The bear and the scallop-shell-- a unique papal coat of arms

Pope Benedict's coat of arms incorporates a Bavarian legend. From an April 27, 2005, article on

An especially distinctive element in the new papal coat of arms is a bear with a pack-saddle, the so-called “Bear of Corbinian." There is a charming legend involving a bear that is told about Bishop Corbinian, who preached the Christian faith in the ancient Duchy of Bavaria in the 8th century and is honored as the spiritual father and patron of the archdiocese. It is said that while he was traveling to Rome a bear mauled his pack-animal. The saint then rebuked the wild beast, and commanded the bear to carry his packs to Rome. Once he arrived there, however, he let the bear go, and it lumbered back to its native forest. The meaning of the legend is clear: Christianity tamed and domesticated the ferocity of paganism and thus laid the foundations for a great civilization in the Duchy of Bavaria. At the same time, Corbinian’s Bear, as “God’s beast of burden,” symbolizes the burden of office. In the coat of arms of Benedict XVI, the Bear of Corbinian has now taken up permanent residence in Rome. | 04/26/2005 | Glenn McCoy: German shepherd

I'm rather tired of the media and assorted other people calling Pope Benedict God's Rottweiler. On the other hand, I had to smile when I saw this editorial cartoon. (Use title link).

Hat tip: Professor Bainbridge

Thursday, April 28, 2005 - Firefighting Fleet Grounded for Safety

This story is about the Federal Aviation Administration grounding several planes in the federal firefighting fleet. And here we are going into fire season. Ouch.

Aerial firefighting... has become the primary weapon in stopping brush and forest fires. Because of its size and history of devastating blazes, California operates its own fleet of helicopters, scouts and tankers.

Pilots are positioned at predetermined points around the state, within 20 minutes they can be airborne and on top of any fire — working to stop small fires from becoming big ones.

It is a dangerous job. Four planes have gone down in the past three years — their wings gave way under the fatigue and stress of a heavy, liquid cargo.

Lawmakers are looking for alternatives to the blaze-fighting fleet now that there are only nine federal planes available to fight fire in 50 states.

In the meantime, California will rely on its own fleet, while other states scramble to find helicopters and planes that can be safely converted before fire season begins.
The title link goes to a short written article and a video report by William LaJeunesse of Fox News.

Clifford D. May: Teddy Kennedy yelled at me! So shouldn't he resign?

Columnist Clifford D. May takes aim at the Bolton controversary (and the current fad of making mountains out of molehills) with a story of his own:

For 20 years I have kept my silence. I will do so no longer. In the debate over John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, it finally has been made clear to me that a human being who yells at another human being does not deserve to hold high office. It's what Sen. George Voinovich calls “the Kitchen Test.”

And so, it's time I finally told the painful truth: Ted Kennedy yelled at me. He hurt my feelings. Therefore, those who believe John Bolton does not deserve to be confirmed must surely also agree that Senator Kennedy must step down. Here is the never-before-told story:

It happened in Ethiopia during the height of the Great Famine of the 1980s. Sen. Kennedy had come on a fact-finding mission. As Africa correspondent of The New York Times, I was assigned to travel with him...

Use the title link for the rest of the story. Martha Radditz, currently of ABC News, plays a supporting role, since she was yelled at in the same sorry incident.

Mutiny on the Bounty

On this day in 1789, Fletcher Christian and companions staged a rather famous mutiny. There have been many tellings of the tale, one of the best known being the book by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. What not many people realize is that their Mutiny on the Bounty is part of a trilogy. There are several editions of all three books out there.

The Bounty Trilogy: Comprising the Three Volumes, Mutiny on the Bounty, Men against the Sea and Pitcairn's Island
The Bounty Trilogy: Comprising the Three Volumes, Mutiny on the Bounty, Men against the Sea and Pitcairn's Island

For a related chronology (starting with the christening of William Bligh on September 9, 1754, in Plymouth, England, and extending to the 1841 death of Fletcher Christian's wife Mauatua), see here.

UPDATE: A reader left a recommendation for the following book in the comments section.

The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty
The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty

WayBack . Flight . Wright Flight | PBS KIDS GO!

Here's another telling of the story of the Wright brothers and their pioneering work with airplanes:

One day, when Orville and Wilbur Wright were boys, their father returned from a trip with a gift that would help change their lives--and history--forever. The toy was a helicopter, made of cork, bamboo, and paper. It was powered by a rubber band...

Captain's Quarters: Finally, An Energy Policy Worth Pursuing

Captain Ed looks at parts of the proposed comprehensive energy bill, including a plan to offer federal risk insurance to companies building nuclear power plants and also the idea of building oil refineries on closed military bases.

Expat Yank: Our Global Supreme Court

In a post on what the United Nations is and what it isn't (according to its own charter), Robert at Expat Yank has this story:

...In the early 1990s, I was at a university event in New York that invited Dag Hammarskjold's biographer, his former assistant Sir Brian Urquhart, to speak about the UN's place in the world. (I recommend Sir Brian's book; it's excellent. But I digress.) He was engaging, bright, articulate and witty -- none of which, of course, was unexpected.

Yet a day or so prior to the event, word got 'round that a group of nincompoops were going to protest his appearance because he was British -- and therefore must have been supportive of a divided Ireland. That Sir Brian had had zero to do with British policy in Northern Ireland was irrelevant to the nincompoops, who appeared and stood in the back and challenged him during the Q & A at the end. He addressed them directly, explained his role, and the UN's role, and made them look foolish.

To me, he was a gentlemanly epitome of the UN careerist, who also acknowledged he had a nationality, and handled the combination with grace and a style that balanced the two. But I believe him to have been more a representative of an earlier era, for, unfortunately, many younger UN people today seem unable to meld both, and instead fall back on a delusion that they are somehow "citizens of the world". In particular, many have evidently come to think of themselves as living in another sphere that is rather different and even more elevated than the rest of us -- who dwell in (so "old-fashioned" and "unenlightened" are we) the sphere of (Yuck!) lowly nation-states.

The book to which he refers seems to be one of those that falls in the shadows between in-print and out-of-print. Most places that I routinely check only offer it used, but I notice that has it listed as available new. I'm not sure whether ecampus is closing out some of the last new ones available or whether it's a genuine reissue, so if you're interested in a new copy I'm not sure I'd dawdle.


I'd also like to take this opportunity to point out a search tip for people looking for used books at Barnes & Noble. My initial search this morning found three copies of this title, but when I went to the bottom of the page there was a "There may be more copies of this title available" notice, with a place to click to "Search for other editions and formats". Using that option, I got twelve used copies from which to pick.

Databases being what they are, I always check the "Search for other editions and formats" option when it is available to me. Saves oodles of money in the long run, for one thing, and sometimes it lets me find a used copy in better condition than those copies that came up on the first search.

And, oh, I might mention that the title of Robert's post might have been "Our Global Supreme Court - Not". He argues that there's a difference between what the charter says and what some people would have you think it says. The Oregonian's Iraq Blog

The Oregonian newspaper, through its OregonLive online affiliation, is hosting a blog that encourages contributions:

This blog is for Oregon's military community. It's a result of The Oregonian's experience covering the Oregon National Guard in Iraq, and is available to any family member, soldier, airman or Marine, whether still deployed or back at home...
There are several pictures, about half of them featuring soldiers with kids.

UPDATE: It has just occurred to me that the word "contributions" can be read more than one way. I mean that the paper is asking for readers to contribute stories and pictures. Not money. Just in case there was any question at all about that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - Living wills go out socially

This USA Today article is by Janet Kornblum. It was posted 4/27 7:11p.m., with a 4/28 12:58 a.m. update:
Lingerie, Tupperware and murder mystery parties. They've been the rage for years. Now add a new one to the list: living wills parties.

Some Americans, prompted by their desire to avoid the problems that surrounded the Terri Schiavo case, are gathering at parties where they balance their chardonnay along with clipboards holding living will forms...
Down toward the end of the article is this:
People may be overly concerned about ending up in a Schiavo situation, says Carl Schneider, a law professor and bioethicist at the University of Michigan Law School.

He calls Schiavo "the great exception" rather than the rule.

Schneider says living wills often are ignored and simply don't work because it's difficult to anticipate all the medical possibilities. Instead, he recommends only designating a medical decision maker.

At worst, critics say, living wills can be dangerous because doctors, in the thick of an emergency, can misinterpret the documents to mean a patient does not want treatment.

"Often in emergency medicine, we have seconds to minutes to act," says Ferdinando Mirarchi, chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Hamot Medical Center, Erie, Pa. "And if we don't act, that patient can suffer some serious disability or possibly even die."

He has written What's the Patient's Code Status?, a guide to help people be specific about their end-of-life wishes, available at But he feels so strongly that uniform advance directives can do damage, he says, that he has refused to help large groups fill them out.
There is a sidebar to the article in which advice is given on how to host a living-will, or "advance directive" party. A handful of organizations that provide documents or guidelines are listed, but I don't see National Right to Life's Will to Live program mentioned. That one is designed to have safeguards built in, so that you're not as likely to find your fate dependant on your medical provider's personal definition of "meaningful life". See

I don't think this next point can be repeated enough. What advocates for disabled people keep saying is that most people vastly underestimate their ability to overcome difficulties, and vastly overestimate how much any given disability would affect their life. They say that of course there is a period of adjustment for newly disabled people - but then people generally find out that they're stronger and more adaptable than they realize, and that life is still precious. You might want to bear that in mind before you quite literally sign your life away on the basis of being afraid of possibly having to deal with some tubing someday.

Tubes are minor. Being killed by some 'death with dignity' zealot after you've realized that you're still willing and able to hang in there is huge. Some of those 'living wills' floating around out there are literally 'get out of jail free cards' for euthanasia advocates. I guess the bottom line is this - do you want your signature protecting them, or you and the people who love you? Please be careful what you sign.

Early Tumwater: Reverend J.F. DeVore stronger than he looked

This is a story from pioneer days, more specifically the 1850s. This first bit is from the City of Tumwater, Washington's website (title link):

...A funny story is told about Reverend J. F. DeVore, who was a Methodist minister. At that time, there was no Methodist church in the South Puget Sound and Sunday services were held in settlers’ homes. Reverend DeVore was determined to build a real church in Olympia. He went to all the businessmen in Olympia and New Market and asked them to donate money for the new building. He figured that wealthy Captain Crosby, who owned the sawmill in New Market, would be able to give a large amount. Captain Crosby was a shrewd businessman, and didn’t want to part with any of his goods. However, he made a deal with the preacher, telling him that he could have as much lumber as he could take away from the mill by himself in one day.

This was no easy task. The mill was about 200 yards from the waterfront, and the boards were huge and heavy. Captain Crosby figured that the young preacher wouldn’t be strong enough to carry very many.

The next morning Reverend DeVore arrived bright and early. He rolled up his sleeves and got right to work, lugging the heavy boards on his shoulder. He worked so steadily that Captain Crosby began to worry. How much lumber would he have to give the young preacher? He tried to get Reverend DeVore to stop for lunch, thinking it would slow him down, but the preacher only stopped long enough for a few sips of water and a few bites from his lunch pail. At the end of the day, Reverend DeVore had carried away enough lumber to build the entire church! The Olympia preacher won the respect of the New Market settlers, even Captain Crosby...
Then there's this, from the Historical Sketches on the First United Methodist Church of Olympia website (down the page, under the title "Able-Bodied Pastor"):
DeVore said he would accept help from anyone in the form of money, labor and materials; and he was adept at soliciting all three. He asked a contribution from a farmer near Grand Mound who had a large crew of men harvesting grain. The farmer, doubting a minister's ability at manual labor, offered to give a day's wages for every man in his crew if DeVore could cut a swath around the entire field. The clergyman took the cradle, led the way through the harvest, and collected the money.

Next he approached Capt. Crosby, for lumber from his mill at Tumwater Falls, which then marked the southern tip of Budd's Inlet. Crosby, a Roman Catholic like his descendant Bing, promised he would contribute all the lumber DeVore could "get down to Olympia in only day without help of man or beast."

The enterprising pastor chose a day with an afternoon ebbtide, when the tide flats were dry in the morning hours. He arrived early with his long list of needed lumber, and began his one-man effort to carry and drag it to the tide flat. There he lashed it together into a raft. By afternoon Crosby was aghast as he watched the minister float away toward Olympia with all the lumber he needed for the new church. Only the sills remained to be cut from trees on the church site.

The construction of that first building must have been solid, for the structure survived four separate moves around downtown Olympia, finally ending its days as a rooming house, destroyed by fire.
There are a few other good Rev. DeVore stories on the same church history page, among them the very good reasons he was two years late showing up in Olympia. | Special Report: Seattle publisher revives Peanuts collection

The title-linked report is from Cam Johnson, for NorthWest Cable News:
SEATTLE -- When cartoonist Charles M. Schulz passed away, he left behind an amazing body of work, including half a century of his beloved comic strip, Peanuts. Now, a Northwest publishing company is bringing new life to this American classic.

Seattle publisher Fantagraphics is presenting Charles M. Schulz's entire comic series in chronological order, releasing a new Peanuts book every six months for more than 12 years. That’s 50 years of comics in 25 books...
Fantagraphics is known for publishing darker, less civil stuff than Peanuts, but the company presented a series design proposal that met with the approval of Jeannie Schulz, the cartoonist's widow, according to Johnson.

The current publicity is coinciding with the release of Volume 3 in the series.

The Complete Peanuts, Volume 3: 1955-1956
The Complete Peanuts, Volume 3: 1955-1956

There is a Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. From I find that there's this on offer:
Top Dogs: Comic Canines Before and After Snoopy, Saturday, April 23rd through September 26th, 2005...This rare and unique display will feature approximately 50 cartoons from the era of Krazy Kat, Buster Brown, The Yellow Kid & Tippie through Blondie, Napoleon, Little Orphan Annie and Pogo to current features such as Mutts, Pickles, Luann, The Far Side, Dilbert, Red & Rover, Mother Goose & Grimm, Duncan, For Better or For Worse, Rhymes with Orange, and Marmaduke...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

From Revolution to Reconstruction: Other projects on the WWW

I was just trying to pin down something from Benjamin Franklin's autobiography (an interesting read, by the way, if you haven't read it already) - and the next thing I know I'm on a website of the Department of Humanities Computing, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. This project started in 1994 as a project to learn computer skills - the subject of early American history being secondary. It has now grown to include history from the colonial period right up to the modern day, with an emphasis on documents, essays, biographies and Presidents.

My title link is to a page with an extensive "Links regarding American History" list.

This is too wonderful. One of the most promising American history resources I've found yet - and it's part of a computer skills' project in Europe!

A Hypertext on American History from the colonial period until Modern Times

Department of Humanities Computing, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

The main body of this hypertext project, which was started in 1994, comes from a number of USIA-publications: An Outline of American History, An Outline of the American Economy, An Outline of American Government, and An Outline of American Literature. The text of these Outlines has not been changed, but they have been enriched with hypertext-links to relevant documents, original essays, other Internet sites, and to other Outlines.

A number of contributors have prepared additional texts and links for the project. And this project will grow als (sic) long as we find new texts and volunteers who are willing to contribute. You can help this WWW-project in collective authoring by contributing texts or by sponsoring.

You can read this hypertext as you like: follow the main text of the Outline of American History or just find your own way through the web of texts.

The Works of Benedict XVI

Ignatius Press publishes English language editions of the works of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. At their website (title link), they also have some excerpts from his books, a short online biography, and contact information for members of the press (their editor-in-chief is a former student and long-time friend of Pope Benedict, for instance, and also knows many of the cardinals who elected him).

NPR : Inner-City Teacher Takes No Shortcuts to Success

The above-linked article from National Public Radio is about Rafe Esquith, who for 24 years has taught at an inner-city school in Los Angeles.

The second-largest elementary school in the nation, Hobart has more than 2,000 students; 90 percent live below the poverty level. All are from immigrant families, primarily Hispanic and Asian. Though none speaks English as a first language, Esquith's students read literature far above their fifth-grade level -- Catcher in the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird.

But Esquith takes his students beyond contemporary literature and into a world at the heart and soul of his teaching: an intensive immersion in William Shakespeare -- reading his plays, studying his life and times. This yearlong study culminates in April, when students present a full-length, unabridged production of Shakespeare. Last year, it was Hamlet. This year, it's The Taming of the Shrew.

That intensive education has taken the "Hobart Shakespearians" far beyond their classroom; they've appeared at the Old Globe Theatre in London, before the Royal Shakespeare Company, and at Shakespearian festivals throughout the United States...
This interview includes an excerpt from Esquith's 2003 memoir, There Are No Shortcuts. From that excerpt, an excerpt:

For several years this book and character became the highlight of my year of reading great novels with the students. It was Mark Twain's masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn....

I, too, would reject society, and a school system damaged beyond repair. If a few cool kids wanted to light out for the territory with me, they were welcome to come aboard the raft on which I sailed.

Except I had come to a point where no one was getting on board the raft with me. I loved Huck, but I was still lost. I thought I knew who I was, but to be Huck was not to be a great teacher.

It took a ten-year-old to challenge and humble me into seeing that Huck was not the answer for me...

I was now ready to find the role model who had the answer for me. I reread Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and I realized I had found my hero in Atticus Finch...

It hit me like a thunderbolt. You see, Atticus knows everything Huck knows. He knows society is racist. He recognizes the violence, hypocrisy, injustice, and ignorance of society. He knows he is going to lose. But Atticus does not light out for the territory. He goes back into the courtroom to fight the fight as best as he can, because it is what he believes in...
There Are No Shortcuts
There Are No Shortcuts

UPDATE: The story as broadcast on NPR has quite a bit that isn't included in the written article, including audio of classroom questions and answers, kids performing Shakespeare, kids playing musical instruments, information on the nonprofit organization associated with Esquith's efforts, and more. Use title link for both the audio and written versions.

Expat Yank: If Charles Had Been In Charge

Robert at Expat Yank takes a rare flight into fantasy, as he presents what might have happened if Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy had been around two centuries ago and had been able to haul Admiral Horatio Nelson in for questioning after the Battle of Trafalgar. (And, yes, if you are prone to being a nitpicker, rest assured that both Robert and I understand that Nelson died at the end of the battle. Robert's imaginary displaced Kennedy takes Nelson to task for his dying words, in fact. Not at all multi-culturally sensitive enough, you know...)

I'll grant that this piece is a bit over the top, but it also makes some good points about the madness of the standards to which the modern-day military is sometimes held by politicians with zealous hindsight and few if any qualms about second-guessing people in the field.

For another Nelson-related story (expect a lot of them this year, since he died in 1805), see "Nelson Room to reopen to public", at
The room where Admiral Lord Nelson's body lay after the Battle of Trafalgar is to reopen to the public for the first time in 70 years.

The Nelson Room at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich opens from 26 April and will feature a life-size statue of Lord Nelson...

Captain's Quarters: Syria Leaves Lebanon After 29 Years

Captain Ed is one of many bloggers and reporters noting that Syria has left Lebanon earlier than expected, and without being chased out at gunpoint:

The Syrians have accomplished what almost no one expected -- they have actually left Lebanon without a shot being fired to chase them back across the Bekaa Valley. Even the Syrian intelligence services have packed up, or at least that's what the Syrians say...

Spirit of America Blog: Why Lebanon Matters

I hadn't realized that there was a blog at Spirit of America that has people reporting from Lebanon. (Live and learn.) The top post today is titled "Why Lebanon Matters". It starts out:

Lebanon may be the only place in the world where you can buy a necklace with a Christian cross and a Muslim crescent moon fused together as one. What other country would even think of making something like this? I've never seen one before. But now I own two...
And then there's a picture of the necklace, and the rest of the post.

Prehistoric Mammals Coloring Book by Jan Sovak

The Dover publishing company is best known, perhaps, for its low-cost reprints of older books. But it turns out some nice original stuff, too, including coloring books that have more to them than most coloring books. One of the favorites around here is the Prehistoric Mammals Coloring Book by Jan Sovak. It shows over 40 species, from rodent to whale, gopher to woolly mammoth, saber-tooth to Irish elk. Animals are shown in habitats, doing things. Admittedly there are more bared fangs and life-and-death battles than in your general coloring book, but it's not gory. Interspersed with pictures of friendly animal family tableaus and vegetarians chomping on leaves, there are some pictures with obvious peril, but in most cases the animal under attack still has a chance, let's put it that way. As a bonus, there are full-color renditions of 13 of the pictures on the covers, inside and out.

As it happens, we're in the same general part of the country as the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, which is best known for its mammal fossils, so that undoubtedly plays into local popularity. But it's a good coloring book for kids who are curious about the prehistoric world, and who are up to captions like this: "Probably the largest flesh-eating mammal that ever lived was the Megistotherium. Approximately twice as large as a polar bear and weighing about 2,200 pounds, it could easily prey upon very large animals, such as the early mastodonts illustrated here (on mastodonts, see page 22). Fossils of Megistotherium have been discovered in North Africa, where it lived about 30 million years ago." (The picture shows a creature like a big cat snarling from a ledge at some elephant-like creatures below him, across a river.)

Prehistoric Mammals Coloring Book
Prehistoric Mammals Coloring Book

Monday, April 25, 2005

IRAQ THE MODEL: Democracy cartoons

If you had told me not that many years ago that in the near future I'd be sitting in my home reading Middle Eastern political cartoons, I never would have believed you. Goodness, how times change.

The title-linked article includes pictures of two cartoons, plus translations (and explanations) of the captions:

I found a couple of interesting cartoons on New Sabah; in the 1st one here, the Captain of the aircraft is giving this announcement "Ladies and gentlemen; the atmosphere is democratic but there are a few sectarian bumps ahead, thank you"...

American Memory: Canyon City Folkways

The American Memory Project has several Federal Writer's Project interviews on file, including a lively one from 1939, in which William C. Haight interviews a Mrs. Ford about her life in Canyon City, Oregon.

For whatever reason, I'm having trouble establishing a direct link to the interview. But if you use the title link to get to the American Memory home page, and then search for Canyon City Folkways, you can get there from here.

In any case, Mrs. Ford comes across as quite a character, really:
I was the second child born in Canyon City. Jennie Nunes Powers was the first. She certainly was no credit to the village.

My father left Kentucky in 1849 and went to California. He heard of the big gold strike in Canyon City, and left California to settle in Canyon. You know, then you could almost pick up gold nuggets by the handful; at least it was much easier than it is now.

Father made a great deal of money out of the mines and started a grocery store in partnership with Poindexter. The store was known as the Poindexter & Clark Mercantile Store. My father started in this business with a great deal of money and no experience. Mr. Poindexter started in with no money and a great deal of experience. The partnership ended with Poindexter having the money and my father the experience.

Father worked for the Wells Fargo company, and had the stage line from The Dalles to Canyon City. Every Saturday morning the Chinese would line up outside of my father's business with their bags of gold dust to be weighed and shipped to San Francisco. I can still hear the clock-clock-clock of the Chinese as they talked to my father. They seemed to like him quite well. Often, father would have me come over to the office and sew the canvas he had into bags to hold the gold dust....
And so on for several pages. It's a colorful narrative, with Mrs. Ford quite obviously enjoying the spotlight. Oh, well. Many of the early settlers were full of themselves, of course. It went with the territory. And she does relay some riotous stories about herself as well as her friends and neighbors.

For fun, if you live in the United States, you might stop by the American Memory page and search for what they have on file for your area. There are some very interesting reads there. (And you might find out that your ancestors weren't as dull as you thought...)

As it happens, there are still annual cattle drives through John Day/Canyon City, but unlike Mrs. Ford's ferocious wild beasts the cattle are generally well-behaved Herefords nowadays - and the drives are in the late winter/early spring, just prior to calving. (The story is that the cows have an easier time calving after a good long walk. In any case, the fall 'cattle drives' back to winter range are done with trucks.)

The Episcopal Church in Canyon City Mrs. Ford talks about still stands. See here and here for pictures.

Perhaps Grant County's best known historic church is the former Adventist Church on the main street in John Day. See here.

Musings of a Pilgrim-Meditaciones de un Peregrino: Response to Weeding Out the Weak

I don't usually suck my breath in when I read a poem, but the poem reprinted in this post "got to me".

It's true, I think, that we tend to have just all sorts of lovely ideas about mankind and the universe that sound fine until somebody tries to apply them to us. But ouch.

(Note to parents: it might not be suitable for your kids. Your call.)

Hat tip:

Sunday, April 24, 2005

"Lady, I don't care about the other churches."

It has become painfully obvious lately that a great many people, including quite a few in the media, think of the Roman Catholic Church as the mother of all political machines, and the Pope, whoever holds the title, as the granddaddy of all political bosses.

This, I think, displays a fundamental misunderstanding of religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. (Can you say “understatement”?)

I think there’s a lot going on behind the general misunderstanding and corresponding hostility of the MSM toward religion, but today I’d like to look at just one aspect of the problem, one that is often overlooked but - here’s the grabber - it’s something that church people can tackle all by themselves, church by church, no coordination or outside cooperation necessary.

Here’s the background. There is an old saying in newspaper circles that all church page editors are agnostics – if they don’t start out an agnostic the job turns ‘em into one, the joke goes. Only it’s no joke. Not really.

I was a church page editor for a while in the 1980s. And if my experience is any indication, too many churches seem to choose their public relations people on the basis of trying to get troublesome people out from underfoot. I want to be careful here not to paint with too broad a brush, because many of the church representatives I dealt with were decent, considerate people – but I want to make clear that many of them weren’t. From what I understand, this is a common problem. And the nice ones tend to stay away and send you letters. The nasty ones make sure you know they're there, waiting for an excuse to pounce.

I couldn’t believe how hard it was, sometimes, to get some of these folks to work with me when I had a question. Writing about religion is a minefield in any case – but it would have been nice to be able to call up and ask if it was ever proper to call their minister a “pastor” without being treated like it was unspeakably rude of me to not know already. These folks tended to come unglued over things like that. If you’d refer in print to “Reverend So-and-so”, they’d fuss that it should have been “The Reverend So-and-so.” This list goes on. Every church seemed to have its own ways of using the words “bishop” and “elder” and “service” and “mass”, etc., etc. You can’t imagine what blows up in the faces of unsuspecting reporters and editors, even when they're trying to write about religion in good faith.

Of course, I usually just used what was written in the press releases, pared down when necessary. (Why do people write two-page self-congratulatory notes to invite the public to a church-sponsored picnic anyway? What, where, when, admission fee if any, does the trick. Really. If you're a super person, they'll probably be able to figure that out when they meet you at the picnic. Really. ;)

But the purpose of a newspaper is to make matters clear to the public, and reporters and editors therefore like to have standard words and phrases to use. You know, something that a person of average intelligence can understand without theological training. So if I came across some fancy phrase that didn’t mean much to my untrained self I’d call up and ask, “But what does it mean, please?”

“Don’t you dare touch that,” they might answer, which was no answer at all. I was willing to leave the phrase intact, but it needed explaining and I wanted a definitive explanation, and sometimes I’d more or less get dismissed as hopelessly ignorant. I knew I was ignorant, thank you very much. That’s why I called for more information, for pity's sake. Why rub it in, or bat a person down for asking?

I used the AP and UPI stylebooks for what help they could lend me, but I was dealing with several score churches and they all did multiple things their own specific ways, and many of them were sorely offended if you didn’t have a default mode that favored their particular way. It was nuts.

Adding insult to injury - or rather, injury to insult - when I did make a mistake a number of these people wouldn’t tell me about it. I was willing to make corrections, to learn, to add another bit of information to my astonishingly large stack of notes about how to write about this particular church or that one. But no, it was beneath them to deal with the person who had made the mistake. They’d march straight into the publisher’s office, first thing, and demand my head - unless they called for a boycott first as added leverage. That was also nuts.

And we aren’t talking major goofs here that sent people over the edge. More than once the only reason cited as grounds for drastic action was that their submitted story didn’t run in the upper right hand corner of the page. I’m not kidding. I wish I were.

They’d heard this was the primo placement spot (it is), and they didn’t think any other church should have it. I’m not kidding. I wish I were.

They’d scream because they didn’t get the upper right hand corner, or because I’d edited their article to fit the available space, and when I could talk with them directly (when they weren’t telling the publisher to fire me or organizing boycotts, but were actually consenting to talk to mere editor me), I’d point out that I had one page (occasionally two) with which to work, and news from several dozen churches to fit in, and I was trying to be fair to everybody. Often they’d reply, “Lady, I don’t care about the other churches” – and they quite obviously meant it.

Of course, not all church PR people I dealt with were like this. But the ones who were made up for their relative lack of numbers with their outsize sound and fury.

Think about it. Newsrooms are often manned primarily by people with not much religious background - and week after week after week, year after year, for many of the people in these newsrooms their most impressive exposure to "Christianity" is one hellion after another who marches in and makes life unpleasant over the strangest little things that they didn't like about that week's church page.

In my humble opinion, this is not good. It is not smart. It's also very hard to understand why churches would court disaster like this in the first place.

This last bit is something of an open letter to church leaders:

I understand entirely the occasional need to cast around for something that will make some wretched bully in your congregation feel important in a more constructive way. I know that making such people feel like they are responsible for something can sometimes solve a host of ills on your end of things. But I hope you’ll resist the temptation to make them a public relations officer for your church.

If you happen to be choosing your PR people on the basis of propping up their feelings of self-worth instead of on the basis of who would make a good liaison person with the news business, at a guess the main thing you’re accomplishing is convincing people in newsrooms that Christians, for the most part, are very hard to get along with, and maybe aren’t worth getting to know.

If I might say so, perhaps it’s time to stop thinking in terms of placements on the page and making church members feel useful, and to start thinking in terms of ambassadors and teachers and good role models.

The ball’s in your court.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Myrna Blyth on You Can Do It! and Realiteen on National Review Online

The April 21, 2005, Blyth Spirit column on National Review Online looks at a newly released book, and also at a start-up magazine for Christian teenage girls.

About the book:

For starters, two sisters are making a dream come true for their third sister, a young woman, who died on United Flight 93 on September 11. Her dream was to publish a book. Vaughn Lohec and Dara Near finished the book their sister, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, started but never had the chance to complete...

You Can Do It: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown Up Girls
You Can Do It: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown Up Girls

For more on the book and the story behind it, or about the new magazine, Realiteen, use the title link.

Meghan Cox Gurdon: "Don't You Want to Be Prepared?"

"The Fever Swamp" is a regular column by Meghan Cox Gurdon on National Review Online. Her April 22, 2005, entry begins:

I don’t want to sound unpatriotic, and I realize that this is not a wildly original point, but there is something creepy about how risk aversion has become a kind of unofficial American creed.

It’s creepy in the way that it has crept stealthily into our national life, and creepier still in its sinister, innumerate, fear-fanning, joy-squashing effects. There have been days lately when I have caught myself wondering aloud, “Can we really be the people who settled the Great Plains?”...
Meghan Cox Gurdon has lived in several countries, indeed has given birth in different countries. Much of this particular column takes a look at how different it was being pregnant and going to doctors in Japan, England, Canada, and then the United States. In the U.S., she says, there seems to be a unique and grim focus on what might go wrong.

While we are more or less on the subject, I'd like to add a salute to a nurse whose name I never knew, up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

I was up visiting with a friend who was about to have her first baby, and she got nervous and had me drive her to the hospital (it was a false alarm, not that it matters as far as this story goes). She left a note for her husband. I don't know what she wrote in the note, but he panicked. To be fair, he probably panicked before he even read the note - the way his nerves were right then I suspect just seeing his wife gone and a note left for him would have been enough to knock him to his knees. But, in any case, he dove for the phone and called the hospital and asked for the nurses' desk in the OB wing. Getting a nurse, he babbled something frightened and frantic at her.

This nurse, bless her, said something along the lines of "Your wife is just fine, sir. Just fine. Nothing to worry about at all." Once she had him calmed down, then she said, "Now, tell me, what is her name? Or yours?" Now, that's a cool-headed nurse who's used to dealing with expectant fathers.

The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, by Mark Twain

It was many years ago. Hadleyburg was the most honest and upright town in all the region round about. It had kept that reputation unsmirched during three generations, and was prouder of it than of any other of its possessions. It was so proud of it, and so anxious to insure its perpetuation, that it began to teach the principles of honest dealing to its babies in the cradle, and made the like teachings the staple of their culture thenceforward through all the years devoted to their education. Also, throughout the formative years temptations were kept out of the way of the young people, so that their honesty could have every chance to harden and solidify, and become a part of their very bone...
But if you teach people to be good, but take away their chances of practicing being good, where in the world does it lead? Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens) presented some of his ideas on the subject in his 1899 story "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg". Use title link for one of several online reprints of the text.

The Common Room: Books build character

"Headmistress, Zookeeper" over at The Common Room has an essay addressing why it can be better to teach your children about real life using fiction instead of, say, the lady in the pew ahead of you.

Wittingshire: The Bard's Birthday

In honor of William Shakespeare's probable birthday (April 23, 1564), Amanda at Wittingshire has some trivia, and a story about a young girl's assessment of Romeo and Juliet.

Friday, April 22, 2005

World Watch - April 3, 2005 - Why I Miss Karol Wojtyla - The Ornery American

I missed this when it came out. I think it's a nice tribute, by yet another non-Catholic who was surprised to discover how much the death of John Paul II meant at a personal level. I also think it clearly points to some of the reasons John Paul's tenure as Pope changed the world, and pulled people of different religious beliefs together.

eBay item 5575620305 (Ends Apr-29-05 12:46:18 PDT) - Help Us Save Our Fairgrounds...

Halfway, Oregon, got a little worldwide notoriety a few years back when an Internet company (one selling used books, in fact) convinced enough people there to agree to 'change the town name' to for a specified period of time. It was a publicity stunt, and the name change was never official, but in return for going along with the gag the little town got some new computers and a whole lot of free publicity, etc.

I should probably mention that not everybody in the little town was happy to go along with the lark. My husband and I drove through there after the fact, and noticed yard signs that made it clear that some folks found the whole matter somewhat insane and demeaning. But, well, that is water under the bridge now.

Halfway is back in the news, apparently because some community leaders banked a little prematurely on getting government grants. (We've had a bit of similar difficulty closer to home, by the way. A word to the wise: even if you think you've been approved for a grant, don't spend the money until it's actually in your hands. Grants, believe it or not, can fall through.) You can read about Halfway's current woes at and and at the title-linked eBay listing.

Halfway is a very small town, with a population of 345. There are people who live outside the city limits but who are still part of the community - but there aren't very many of them, either. When they've got troubles, they don't have a lot of pockets to draw from, in other words. The community lost its fairgrounds at an April 15 sheriff's auction, but they have a "right of redemption" that extends for 180 days past that date. And so they are scrambling to raise more than $200,000 so they can buy their fairgrounds back.

The title-linked eBay auction is selling tickets to the 2005 Baker County Fair and Rodeo, Sept. 3, 4 and 5, for a $10 'Buy It Now' price (you pay the stated amount, instead of bidding) - but it also will steer you toward a "We Gave to Save" fund set up at the local US Bank if you'd rather contribute directly. I found out about this too late today to contact the bank, or otherwise verify this story except through the Statesman Journal and OregonLive/Oregonian articles linked above, but at this point I'm assuming it's a legitimate fundraiser. Whether it's too little too late I guess time will tell. I'm neither arguing for nor against this effort. I just found out about it this evening, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do myself, if anything. But time being short, here's the information for anyone who might be interested.

The publicity stunt never did generate the tourism that some folks up there envisioned. But in my opinion it's a beautiful drive to get there no matter which road you take (although Highway 71's Kleinschmidt Grade on the Idaho side of the Snake River is daunting enough to make some cars whimper - fair warning). Halfway sits just outside the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, which has some spectacular views.

UPDATE: Here's a link to information on the "Hells Canyon Scenic Byway", a suggested auto tour that goes through Halfway:

Fine Books & Collections Magazine: Books over $100,000

This is a list of 296 books that have sold for more than $100,000. (Each.) If this doesn't get you inspired to either clean out your attic or start taking better care of those books that you own, I don't know what will...


When my paternal grandmother was getting up there in age, she seemed to be in a serious health decline. Friends and family were tut-tutting about how the poor dear just couldn’t seem to get around any more. And it was true. She could barely walk.

Then one day one of my aunts noticed Grandma’s shoes. All of Grandma’s shoes, it turned out, were badly worn in the heels, and very unevenly worn at that. Whenever she stood on these shoes, in other words, it tilted and twisted her feet something awful.

And, of course, her shoes had become that way gradually, too gradually to notice what was happening, really.

My aunt took Grandma shoe shopping, tossed out the old shoes, and voila, Grandma was younger and spry and agile again.

All she needed were shoes that didn’t force her ankles and legs into impossible angles.


We so often overlook the simple.

My mother liked to tell me this next story, also about shoes, also about how sometimes life gives us simple problems with simple solutions.

When I was very young, I wasn’t learning to walk on schedule. The doctors told my mother that she should prepare herself for the worst. My twin sister had died the day we were born, from massive birth defects (no brain, essentially), and I had been born with harmless but obvious birth defects myself. ‘Face it’, these worldly-wise experts said, ‘this was just a very bad pregnancy and the results aren’t good. You might have a child with serious neurological problems. She might never be able to walk. She might be retarded. You might have to put her in an institution. Face it.’

My mother took a good, hard look at me, and realized that my feet were smaller than usual. She went out and got me shoes that were too big for my feet. She stuffed my feet and wadding into the shoes, and right away I became a toddler instead of a crawler.

My feet were just too small for a novice walker to balance upon, apparently. I had the usual bad coordination of most toddlers, but nothing worse than that, it turned out. All I needed was oversized shoes and some way to keep my feet firmly inside them.

Once I got good at walking with my funky shoes, my mother launched phase two. She weaned me off the shoes until I could walk barefoot just like all the other little kids my age.


Some problems are very difficult, of course. But do me a favor. Every now and then, check your family’s shoes. Please. A fair amount of suffering and worry could be avoided, I think, if we just put a little thought into what we’re trying to stand on.

It’s sounds silly, I know.

But sometimes all someone needs is better shoes.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

HistoryLink Essay: David Douglas arrives at Fort Vancouver ... on April 20, 1825.

It amazes me to what lengths people have gone to find new plants and get them back to their homelands. David Douglas, for whom the Douglas fir is named, is a good example. The man got a lot of travel in, under sometimes very bad and often dangerous conditions, before he died at age 34 in Hawaii.

The title linked article begins with something of an overview before it gets down to some of the more interesting troubles and triumphs:

On April 20, 1825, David Douglas (1799-1834) arrives at Fort Vancouver, the Hudson's Bay Company's new Columbia River headquarters, in the company of chief factor Dr. John McLoughlin (1784-1857). The young Scotsman is a collector for England's Horticultural Society, dispatched to the Northwest Coast to bring back specimens and seeds of the marvelous and new (to Europeans) plants of the region, for introduction into British gardens and forests. For the next two years, Douglas will use Fort Vancouver as a base for botanical explorations through much of present-day Washington and Oregon, where he will collect thousands of specimens of plants ranging from tiny, rare mosses and herbs to the giant and abundant tree that now bears his name, the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menzeisii, not actually a fir, but a member of a Pacific Rim genus)...

Wittenberg Gate: On Dogs and Grace

Dory at Wittenberg Gate writes, in a April 12, 2005, post:

I am convinced that God made dogs to enable us to see grace from the grace-giver's perspective, rather than our usual position as a recipient of grace. At our house we have a new canine addition, a mixed-breed (mostly lab) nine week old pup named Bob. His older brother, Matthias, is a four year old dog with so many bloodlines that we figure he must be like the original dog "kind" that padded after Noah when he disembarked from the ark...
She goes on to mention some of the ways she thinks that living with dogs can teach someone about God's grace toward people. I especially like her first one: "He loves us even when we're yucky."

Commentary: Benedict XVI and Freedom

Alejandro A. Chafuen, a founding member of the Acton Institute and the president of Atlas Economic Research Foundation, writes:
John Paul II’s pontificate left an unparalleled legacy of papal teachings. One key aspect of his tenure is the space he created for the work of other great theologians. The new pope, Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is one of them. Given Ratzinger’s sharp focus on doctrine, many have seen only one side of this man: the protector of the faith, the leader of a new “inquisition.” Few have focused on his rich analyses of freedom...
The commentary was published April 20, 2005, on the Acton Institute's website. Use title link to see the rest of the article.

BookStation: New shipment of field guides

I hope my out-of-area readers will bear with me when, from time to time, for the benefit of my local readers I tout special deals and/or new arrivals at our little bookstore in John Day, Oregon. It's called the BookStation, and it's located inside the Leathers gas station, 603 West Main, between the Chester's Thriftway grocery store and the Les Schwab Tire Center. (Our motto: "Fueling both minds and machines.")

Today's notice: we've just put out another shipment of various types of field guides. Among the titles we've just stocked/restocked are Birds of Oregon (see my March 29, 2005 post), and these two:

Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Mushrooms of North America
Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Mushrooms of North America

Oregon Wildflowers: Beginner's Field Guide
Oregon Wildflowers: Beginner's Field Guide

Minor correction: the actual subtitle is, "A children's field guide to the state's most common flowers."

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program-FAQ - Seismographs

This site has information on seismometers, seismographs, and seismoscopes (the first of which, it says, "was invented by the Chinese philosopher Chang Heng in A.D. 132").

It claims that "It is relatively easy to acquire the necessary materials and build your own seismometer," and provides relevant links.

Since I know people who like to build their own scientific equipment, such as telescopes (including trying to grind their own lenses), I thought I'd throw this out there.

Have fun, guys. And let me know how it works out.

The Scotsman - Business - Shell to sell North Sea assets

At this point, Shell has only announced that it plans to put three mature (translation: largely drained) fields - Auk, Fulmar, and Dunlin, which includes the smaller Merlin and Osprey fields - up for grabs. The fields only account for about 2 percent of Shell's UK output. And, just with this, some people are jumping for joy that the little guys will finally have a chance to get their hands on some oil fields.

What a day and age we live in.

Shell has previously announced that it wants to raise billions and billions of dollars in the next couple of years by selling off assets - and with barrel prices as high as they are right now they're apparently finding no shortage of wannabe buyers. This small offering is therefore almost certainly only one of several oil field auctions to come.

An excerpt from the title-linked article by John Bowker, deputy city editor at The Scotsman:
Oil consultant Charles Westwood noted that the high oil price made it a "sensible time" to be hiving off assets and the $50-plus average is expected to tempt firms from across the globe. Of existing North Sea players, Paladin and Canadian firm Talisman are certain candidates, while the auction will also attract new independents.

Graham Tran, of union Amicus, welcomed the move, saying it was key that the North Sea was "in the hands of those prepared to invest".The big three oil majors (Shell, BP and Exxon) have been criticized in recent years for sitting on assets while they explored new markets while more eager firms have been left stuck on shore.

Shell echoed the words of its union, saying the decision to put the fields on sale was in order to "unlock their potential and extend their life". Currently, all three are expected to cease production by 2012.
Uh, huh. News - Storm damage set to create new Hebridean islands

Well, no, not exactly.

I have to disagree somewhat with reporter Murdo Macleod and his headline writer at The Scotsman. What's on the verge of happening is that existing islands might be gashed into smaller bits. While this would result in multiple islands where there was one, leaving each fragment in need of a name, I wouldn't want to call it creating new islands. It would be the same old islands, subdivided.

(If an underwater volcano gets really cooking and pumps out a whole lot of magma, that's creating a new island.)

Plus there's another worry for these particular islands, less visually dramatic perhaps, but serious - the islands could remain intact but with freshwater lochs flooded by salt water. Saltwater is generally a very bad substitute for fresh water.

And these are inhabited islands. Ouch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

In His Own Words

Hugh Hewitt, for the April 21, 2005, The Daily Standard online (, comments briefly on the homily that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger delivered just before the conclave began. And then he reprints the homily in full.

It was a powerful, blunt, no nonsense homily - and now the man who made himself so wonderfully clear during its presentation is Pope Benedict XVI.

The homily is worth a close read, I think.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Death of Terri Schiavo: An Epilogue, by Daniel Eisenberg

Daniel Eisenberg, M.D., responds to another doctor who thinks Eisenberg's regard for severely disabled people is archaic and misguided:
Given a choice between the enlightened ethics of my correspondent and the "archaic" ethics of Jewish law, I really see no choice. He is not the first educated person to announce to the world that traditional ethics are passe. But throughout history, the cheapening of life has inevitably led to the deaths of innocent people. Whether it is a communist nation that devalues the intellectuals or ethnic groups that cheapen the lives of their rivals, in every instance the beginning of the end is the concerted attempt to convince the population that some lives just don't matter.
I can only hope that if you or I wind up in a medical facility, we draw a Dr. Eisenberg instead of someone like the other fellow. The other fellow, you see, thinks he can and should decide when to declare someone else a person. Once he culls you from the human race in his own mind, you're not to be fed any more.

It's scary stuff, but Eisenberg tackles it head on.

This article appears on, and was published April 10, 2005.

Michelle Malkin: THIS DAY IN HISTORY, PT. II

It is now 60 years since war correspondent Ernie Pyle died. Michelle Malkin has links to online archives and to a Stars & Stripes article.

I think it's fairly safe to say that Pyle made servicemembers real to the folks back home. Two of his books, Here Is Your War and Brave Men, are currently in print thanks to the University of Nebraska Press.

Here Is Your War: Story of G. I. Joe
Here Is Your War: Story of G. I. Joe

Scouting Round-up

Murdoc Online has an update to his "Dear Pack 3311" story of the other day. See

The Colonel over at West Coast Pundits talks about what it's like for a father watching his son transition from a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout. As he points out, sometimes dads learn valuable lessons at campouts, too. See "Thoughts on this Weekend's Boy Scout Campout" at

And, last but not least, I think one of the all-time great Scout stories is that of scouts in Iraq. See "Iraqi Scouts Thrive Despite Tyranny, War", from May 12, 2004, by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos at Fox News, at,2933,119658,00.html:
WASHINGTON — Often meeting furtively, with no communication with fellow councils throughout the country, Iraqi scouts (search) remained active despite oppression under Saddam Hussein's regime and subsequent war with Iraq — a miracle say Arab scouting representatives.

"The (scouting) movement never died in Iraq, and that is something no one knew," said Malek Gabr, deputy secretary of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (search), based in Geneva, Switzerland...

Greens Give Go-Ahead to Defense Project | Germany | Deutsche Welle |

This might get lost in the other news today, but there seems to have been a minor shift in international military cooperation, thanks to a surprising source. Nina Werkhäuser reports for Deutsche Welle:

The last hurdle to Germany’s participation in the "MEADS" transatlantic missile project has been overcome after the Green party, the junior partner in government, said it will vote in favor of the air defense system.

After weeks of opposition, Germany’s Green Party has decided to support the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS.

Funded by the US, Italy and Germany, MEADS aims to protect troops or sensitive locations from aerial assault by missile or plane. The system is intended to replace Patriot missiles in the United States and Germany, and Nike Hercules missiles in Italy...
This does not mean that they are signing on whole-heartedly (far from it), and they will undoubtedly expect something in return (politics is politics, and they've asked that other defense spending be cut in return for this), and there actually haven't been any final votes yet (so I'm not sure but there's still a chance that this might fall through), but, my golly, we have Green Party officials actually going on record to say that everything else taken into consideration, they can step aside and let a military project happen. My golly, the Greens in Europe looking at something in context, and being reasonable? Taking a big, broad view and looking ahead? Making compromises? In public, no less? There is hope, after all. (Knock wood.)

Or am I behind the times, here? I haven't been following what Greens have been up to in Europe lately, to be honest with you. But the last time I checked, they were latching on to bits and pieces of odd social engineering, and couldn't seem to connect dots for the life of them. They also seemed rather prone to losing their tempers, and having no patience with anybody who wasn't in lockstep. Heads in the clouds, boot tips on other people's shins sorts of people, if you'd like to put it that way. Have they been evolving/maturing while I wasn't looking?

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Surprising Undersea World at Pulley Ridge

This story is over at the U.S. Geological Survey website, with a last-modified date on it of April 12, 2005.

It seems that we don't know as much about where coral reefs can (and do) grow as we thought:

In the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 250 km west of Cape Sable, Florida, and 70 km west of the Dry Tortugas, are a series of drowned barrier islands known as Pulley Ridge. The ridge was found in 1950, but it wasn't until recent years that scientists discovered something extraordinary...
The Pulley Ridge coral reefs are much deeper than other known coral reefs, which means that they have much less light than usual to work with. They've adapted. Some of the colonies are flat instead of vertical, for instance. Use the title link for more info and a few photos.

Mertz - Peters - Michaels: Scam Alert

Barbara Mertz, who also writes under the pen names of Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels (and therefore has earned the nickname of MPM), has issued this warning:

MPM does NOT autograph photographs of herself either as "Elizabeth Peters" or "Barbara Michaels." Any offers of such for sale on the Web (or any place else) are FAKES. Caveat emptor!
I think that pretty well says it. The title link is to the author's official web page.

Oregon baseball coaching record now held by Art Thunell

The old record in Oregon for most wins by a high school baseball coach was 566. Art Thunell's Prospectors gave him his 567th win on March 30. They've added a couple since then.

The Prospectors are the Grant Union High School team. The high school is located between John Day and Canyon City, and serves several communities.

Canyon City was at the center of a gold rush starting in 1862, hence the school mascot.

UPDATE: Reporter Joe Freeman has written a feature story on Art Thunell for the Oregonian. See Pride of John Day

A key passage:
...Although the name Art Thunell is synonymous with success in Oregon baseball circles, it is measured by more than wins and losses in Grant County.

"I didn't realize how good a coach and mentor he was until I got out of high school and started facing tough decisions in life," says Ken Niles, a former Grant Union player and assistant coach who now coaches Sheldon. "I spent three hours a day on the baseball field learning more about life than baseball. You just don't realize it when you're a kid."

And this is by design.

"We only ask three things of our kids: We ask them to play hard, to be focused and to be a class act," Thunell says. "My goal is to develop some really nice kids who go out and have success in the world outside of baseball. We want them to understand that commitment is extremely important and dedication is important and they need to work hard." ...

United We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal: We The Congressmen Respectfully Ask Your Majesty

This Nepalese blog reprints the text of a letter to His Majesty King Gyanendra from eleven members of the U.S. Congress. They also print a picture of the signatures attached to the letter (I guess to say, 'Hah, here's proof we're not making this up.')

The names listed are James T. Walsh, Frank Wolf, Tom Allen, Mark Steven Kirk, Edolphus Towns, Christopher Smith, Mark Udall, Tom Udall, Bob Filner, Carolyn Kilpatrick, and Barney Frank.

I would have to say that many of the comments attached to the post are heated, to say the least. But varied. There are several points of view, certainly. (Use title link.)

I've been trying to find the date this letter was written, plus I wanted to attach a press release or follow-up or something from one or more of the above-named Congressmen. So far, I haven't found anything on Nepal, period, on any of the official websites I've visited, but it's early days yet. (Tom Allen, Edolphus Towns, James T. Walsh down, eight to go...)

I'm not saying I've searched in every corner of these websites, but you'd think there would have been something in the press releases or recent news sections or something that would pop up when you put "nepal" into a search box. But, as I said, I've only checked the three websites so far...

Notable Book: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carre

As a bookseller, I thank "Smiley" over at The Daily Demarche for his recent plug for this book. (See comments section on their 6 months/200,000 hits post.) I've been selling books since the tail end of 1995 and this is one of the better sellers over the whole decade - and we've sold it to an astonishing variety of people. That kind of staying power and broad appeal in fiction is rare.

(Me? It's still in my to-read-someday stack, I'm afraid. I'm still working my way through the Tommy Hambledon books by Manning Coles, thanks. Tommy's no George Smiley, and was never meant to be, but he's a hoot as a hero. I'm afraid I'm one of those lightweights who generally prefers her fictional spies to be humorous as well as daring and ingenious. But I do plan to read this book. Really. But I have a huge stack of books to get to. Really.)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Barnes & Noble has a lengthy, detailed review by one of their own over at their website (click on the book cover - it should take you there). The review starts:

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which first appeared in 1974, is arguably Le Carré’s masterpiece and is surely one of the great spy novels of the 20th century. Loosely inspired by the career of Kim Philby, a Russian double agent who worked his way into the upper reaches of the British Secret Service, Tinker, Tailor tells the story of donnish, unprepossessing master spy George Smiley and his quest to identify the "mole" -- the deep-penetration agent -- who has turned Britain's Intelligence Service (commonly known as the Circus) inside out....

A side note, to any author out there trying to think up a pseudonym for yourself: If you pick one with a prefix, you are apt to get misfiled both on bookstore shelves and in Internet databases. In the bricks-and-mortar world, Le Carre gets put in both "L" and "C", for instance. (And no matter where you put his books, some customers will be upset that they're not in the other place. Trust me on that.) In addition, in databases he gets listed both as LeCarre and Le Carre, which don't always show up together in some book searches. And in some databases the fact that the last 'e' in his name is really an é, well, that can cause minor havoc, too. Pick something that can't be broken apart quite so many ways, please. Pretty please. Thanks.

The Scotsman - Business - How a high-stakes poker game stoked a bitter banking rivalry

This is a companion piece to the Royal Bank story to which I linked yesterday. (That's another nice thing about The Scotsman's business section - it will run related articles, to provide more than one perspective or more than one focus. You know - background, depth, those old-fashioned things.)

This also is by Martin Flanagan and Bill Jamieson:

SIR George Mathewson does not recall the Battle for NatWest in the clipped tones of a stuffy businessman. Reminiscences are punctuated by scowls and an occasional fist in the air, as if the events happened only last week. This isn’t a banker’s tranquil recollection of balance sheets, it is Marshall Zhukov reliving the Battle for Berlin...
I tell you, if you don't read business news, you're missing out on a great deal of drama and action. I didn't know that until recently. But I have had quite an education reading business news like this.

Here's the history bit I want to keep in my files, though:

...The Battle for NatWest was brutal, a combination of a fist-fight and a high-stakes poker game played out by Scotland’s two banking leviathans. It was a civil war which had been coming for more than two and a half centuries, as Royal Bank faced old adversary Bank of Scotland.

The animosity runs deep. The Royal was founded to counter the Jacobite links of the Bank of Scotland and the very different traditions were well illustrated in September 1745. As Prince Charles’s Highland army crossed the Forth, John Campbell, the Royal’s chief cashier, moved the bank’s cash, securities and plate into Edinburgh Castle, only to find Bank of Scotland had moved in its assets the day before...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Darfur Diary

Check this out.

Daryn Kobata, editor of Caltech 336, is taking a leave of absence to serve as the communications officer for the World Relief Darfur Relief Collaboration, a group of six humanitarian agencies working in conflict-affected areas of West Darfur, Sudan. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Caltech...
(I wonder if the disclaimer has anything to do with the fact that Kobata is a person of faith? Nah, couldn't be. Right?)

Anyway, it's an interesting read, from somebody actually on the ground in Darfur.

The entries start February 14, 2005, and end March 23, 2005. Does anybody know what's happened to Kobata since then?

UPDATE: is an article on the author and her project, and has a picture of her on a camel.

Alexander F.C. Webster: Death of a Patriarch

In this April 15, 2005, article for OpinionJournal, Alexander F. C. Webster looks at the life of a man who tried to unify America's Orthodox Church:

With the eyes of the world fixed on Rome--upon the death of Pope John Paul II and the gathering of cardinals to pick his successor--many Americans might have missed the quiet passing of another prominent bishop. Earlier this week, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos died peacefully at the age of 93. Today he will be interred in Brookline, Mass.

Though not a pope in any familiar sense of the term, Archbishop Iakovos wielded an almost papal authority among the roughly two million Greek Orthodox in America, as well as among two million Orthodox Christians of other assorted ethnic origins. He was the senior Orthodox hierarch in the U.S. from 1959 to 1996--a reign half again as long as Pope John Paul II's celebrated pontificate in Rome...
Father Webster is a priest in the Orthodox Church in America and co-author of "The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East & West." I'm not familiar with this author or this book, but it's an important topic, certainly.

The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West
The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West

The way of life in the West is currently under assault, and Western Civilization hangs in the balance. Christians need to reclaim the great moral teachings on war and peace from the contemporary revisionists who would have Christians believe it is necessary to choose a "lesser evil" for a good cause or as a way of being "responsible" citizens of a nation-state. Professors Webster and Cole explore in detail the great moral teachings found in Holy Scripture, the ancient and Byzantine Church Fathers, canon law, manuals of penance, lives of the saints, liturgical texts, visual icons, the medieval Scholastics, the great Reformers, and even among modern theologians and literary authors. They present a powerful, genuinely ecumenical, meticulously documented, incontrovertible case on behalf of the moral teachings known to Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Christians as the just or justifiable war traditions...

Oh, this is interesting. I went looking to see if Alexander Webster had any other books. Here's an earlier (and pricier) title from another publisher. From 1999, we have:

Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument against War in Eastern Orthodox Theology
Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument against War in Eastern Orthodox Theology

In this path-breaking study, Fr. Alexander Webster convincingly demonstrates that a distinctive pacifist trajectory, characterized by the moral virtues of non-violence, nonresistance, voluntary kenotic suffering, and universal forgiveness, has endured through two millennia of Eastern Orthodox history in unbroken continuity with the ancient Church. Webster consults a vast array of primary texts including Holy Scripture, patristic writing through the Byzantine era that terminated in AD 1453, Orthodox canon law from the Seven Ecumenical Councils and other Byzantine Greek legal sources among others. Of interest to historians and to students of theology and religion.

The Daily Demarche: 6 months and 200,000 hits later...

Late last December, I got steered toward a wonderful, wise, witty, very grounded blog called The Diplomad. Within weeks, though, he signed off.

His farewell message is a classic, by the way. We should all be able to take new turns away from old paths with such grace. See: "Hello! Hello! I really must be going!" at

The Diplomad called himself a member of the State Department Republican Underground, and he put out some pointed truths, in a very civilized fashion.

But he stopped. Just when I thought I was starting to really learn something from someone wiser and more experienced than myself, he stopped.

Luckily, he left a few pointers on who to check out, and through those suggestions I found several nice blogs, among them The Daily Demarche, another blog of the Republican Underground.

I'm not the only one who found them, obviously. In only about six months, The Daily Demarche has busted through the 200,000 visitor mark:

Just over six months ago I launched this blog, inspired by the now defunct and sorely missed Diplomad- not long after that Smiley joined me in this adventure in blogging. I think if anyone had told us at the time that we would last this long and attract any readers, let alone average about 1,800 hits per day we would have asked them to pass the bottle. We are having a lot of fun doing this, and don't plan to stop anytime soon, so please don't take this as a swan song- just a stroll down memory lane...
And, by the way, anyone else who is on a China Watch these days should definitely check them out. They do regular China-related round-ups, with many folks putting their heads and expertise together, and they also provide lots of good links.

Congratulations, Dr. Demarche and Smiley. And thanks for being there.