Saturday, July 30, 2005

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Science (Mars Spectacular)

I ran across a post today about how Mars would be closer to us in August than in thousands of years and I did a double take. Didn't we go through this already, quite recently?

Yep. The same reports that came out in 2003 are being spread around right now, sometimes word for word except that "2003" has been replaced with "2005". has taken the time to sort through the mess to determine what's hoax and what's fact on (relatively) close encounters between Mars and Earth . (Use title link.)

A salute to July 30, 1619, and the folks of Jamestown

It's a small world. Reading the "Fact of the Day" on my Business News e-mail newsletter, I learned a bit of history for my own country. Here's the Fact of the Day:
The first elected assembly in the New World has its inaugural meeting today in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. The House of Burgess will ultimately go on to become the genesis of self-government in the American colonies and will one day lead to the foundation of the United States of America. Jamestown itself was named for King James VI (and I of England). To find out more about the United kingdom's first king go to
So, my appetite whetted, I went looking for a bit more information and, from the National Park Service website on Colonial National Historical Park's page on Members of the First Representative Assembly, I find this:
The first legislative assembly in English North America took place July 30 through August 4, 1619 in the choir of the Jamestown Church. This first House of Burgesses consisted of Company appointed Governor Sir George Yeardley, a six man Company appointed governor's counsil and two representatives from each of the eleven surrounding settlements or plantations. These representatives were chosen by election from among the settlers of each plantation.
The representatives are then named. Then there's this:
Like the early struggles of the colony itself this first assembly suffered. It was hot and humid and many of the Burgesses were ill from the extreme temperatures. Indeed one Burgess had already succumbed to the heat as it was reported that on August 1st one Mr. Shelley of Smyths Hundred had died. The Governor decided that this first assembly would end after six days, on August 4th.
That same National Park Service website has quite a few "Historical Briefs" on Jamestown, on a variety of subjects. Go here for an index.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Suitably Flip: Fighting Irish No More

Flip at the Suitably Flip blog notes, regarding the IRA announcement of the end of its armed campaign:
Well, howdaya like that? Another terrorist organization spontaneously and unconditionally lays down its arms. Next time you run into the leader of a Coalition nation, be sure to thank him or her.
He has more, including brief commentary on the New York Times coverage of this.

And here's thanking the coalition troops, too, if their efforts helped put the urge to act civilized into these IRA fellows. French Police arrest four suspected ETA members

The Basque terrorist group ETA is having a bad week. In addition to the arrests earlier this week by Spanish police, now the French appear to have nabbed a few of them.
French Police arrested Thursday four presumed members of the Basque armed group ETA in the French towns of Grenoble and Brive la Gaillarde, the newspaper La Razon reports on Friday.

According to the Spanish Home Secretary Jose Antonio Alonso all the arrested have criminal records for street violence. He has confirmed that one of the detainee is Jon Joseba Troitiño, who is located at the military structure of ETA by the police. It is supposed that he holds a "very relevant post".


The first of the arrests took place Thursday morning in the French town of Grenoble after a police patrol caught unaware two men trying to break into a car. 25 year-old Urtzi Zubizarreta Lizundia and 26 year-old Oier Gonzalez Bilbatua had stashed weapons and forged identity papers in a nearby car with counterfeit license plates. One of the arrested had English identity documents.

The other two arrests took place early in the afternoon in a mall in Brive la Gaillarde, a hundred kilometres south of Limoges....
Full article

Bookworm Room: What is faith?

Bookworm recommends the following book by Dave Shiflett. Use the title link to read her post. Click on the book cover to go to the write-up at Barnes & Noble.

Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity
Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity

Antiochian Orthodox to Quit NCC - Acton Institute PowerBlog

From a post by John Couretas:
The terminal politicization of the National Council of Churches has led a major Orthodox jurisdiction to throw in the towel. The Antiochian Orthodox Church, meeting for its bi-annual convention in Dearborn, Mich., has “voted overwhelmingly” to leave the ecumenical body led by Rev. Bob Edgar, a former Democrat congressman. The news has been posted on Touchstone Magazine’s Mere Comments blog, and was phoned in by a correspondent for Ancient Faith Radio who was on the scene in Dearborn.

Metropolitan Philip Saliba, hierarch of the church, has reportedly decided that any further relationship with the U.S. ecumenical body would be “fruitless.”...
Full post, with links

"Lost: The Summer" by R.M. Alden

From Farm Life Readers, Book Four (Silver, Burdett & Company, Boston, New York and Chicago, 1913), page 82:
Lost: The Summer

Where has the summer gone?
She was here just a minute ago,
With roses and daisies
To whisper her praises-
And every one loved her so!

Has anyone seen her about?
She must have gone off in the night!
And she took the best flowers
And the happiest hours,
And asked no one's leave for her flight.

Have you noticed her steps in the grass?
The garden looks red where she went;
By the side of the hedge
There's a goldenrod edge,
And the rose vines are withered and bent.

Do you think she will ever come back?
I shall watch every day at the gate
For the robins and clover,
Saying over and over:
"I know she will come, if I wait!"

--R.M. Alden
Just a gentle reminder that summer, for good and bad, doesn't last very long.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Swanky Conservative: Iconic Women

Charmaine Yoest unleashed something when she took to task the silly television exec who said Oprah Winfrey is as close to iconic as women get. (See my previous post, or go directly over to the Reasoned Audacity post, which has been updated, and is accumulating some nice commentary and trackbacks.)

Several bloggers have weighed in, but for now I'd like to highlight Swanky Conservative's post, because it praises, among others, a multi-talented Texas lady named Hallie Stillwell (1897-1997), known as "Queen of the Big Bend," that I didn't know about until now.

In addition to her other accomplishments, Hallie Stillwell was an author:

I'll Gather My Geese
I'll Gather My Geese

My Goose Is Cooked: Continuation of a West Texas Ranch Woman's Story
My Goose Is Cooked: Continuation of a West Texas Ranch Woman's Story

Crossroads 2005: The U.N.

Daniel Mull relates the experiences of pro-life walkers visiting the United Nations:
So Dave, Nick, Susan, Nate and I got our badges and went toward the General Assembly building. Well, before we were even allowed into the security checkpoint, two guards stopped us and told us we'd have to change shirts because wearing our Pro-Life shirts would constitute a demonstration.

Well, after a bit of debate, we are finally allowed to go in, provided that we turn our shirts inside out. We made it through the security checkpoint, and we were informed that the security guard called someone and found out we were actually allowed to wear our shirts as normal, so we turned them back the right way, and proceeded into the building. Hopefully, some people at the UN noticed our pro-life witness.

We then went around trying to find the ECOSAC meeting that we were supposed to sit in on. It wasn't in the room we thought it would be, and when we found it, all the doors were locked, even though it was supposed to be an open meeting. We then went to the General Assembly room, however they are gone until September, and then it was 4:30, so we had to go.

Things definitely were a little crazy, but it was an amazing experience, and it was fun getting to look around while we were there. We definitely appreciate all the trouble Anne Marie and the WYA [World Youth Alliance] went through to get us in and around once we made it in.
Full post

Mom With A View: Beyond Diapers

Emuna Braverman launched the Mom With a View blog earlier this month at, a Jewish website.

From her July 10 post:

I was/am a stay-at-home mom. I believe strongly in it and am grateful to have the option. I've always done something else on the side but my children are my priority (despite what my teenagers think). I just don't want to talk about them all day.

I don't want to hear about sales on children's clothing, or discuss brands of strollers or the price of cereal. I'll share your joyful moments with you -- once. Not over and over again. Your child may be adorable but that's a rather limited conversation.

I want to talk about the potential new Supreme Court Justices, The Grokster case, new tools for personal growth, fascinating insights from the Torah and provocative questions discovered therein.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not claiming that my discussions are superior or my intellect finer. I'm just describing what I enjoy and how for some reason it's so hard to find...
Full post - Full text: IRA statement - Jul 28, 2005

We can hope this gets proper traction (and that they really mean it this time):
(CNN) -- The Irish Republican Army has ordered militants to end the armed campaign in Northern Ireland and resume disarmament. Here is the full text of their statement made on Thursday:

The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann has formally ordered an end to the armed campaign.

This will take effect from 4 p.m. this afternoon. All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms. All volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programs through exclusively peaceful means. Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever...
Full statement

Masterpiece Theatre's Educators' Site

I stumbled across the Masterpiece Theatre's American Collection Educators' Site while looking for something else (gotta love the Internet), and at first glance it looks pretty interesting. In addition to the Literary Timeline, check out the U.S. Literary Map Project - it has reports on authors written by middle school and high school students. See also the American Literature Resources page. There are quite a few links, such as to author websites.

Reasoned Audacity: America's "Iconic" Woman: Oprah Winfrey??!!

Charmaine Yoest has some problems with what was said by the creator of the show "Commander-in-Chief" in a recent press conference, as reported in the Washington Post. Specifically, Rod Lurie says its a shame that there aren't any iconic women in history. The closest he could come to an iconic woman, he said, was Oprah Winfrey.

Perhaps the man needs to get out more and meet people outside his cozy circle, and maybe read a few books that, like, you know, talk about history or something. Or religion, perhaps. All in all, my response to this is "sheesh, how silly."

Charmaine, however, is taking this on head-on. She's asking for nominations for a photo gallery she's putting together of iconic women that this patronizing television bigwig doesn't know about. Yet.

Use the title link to reach Charmaine's post and/or to send her some suggestions.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Prairie Cooks: Glorified Rice, Three-Day Buns, and Other Recipes and Reminiscences

In Prairie Cooks, Carrie Young has written of her childhood on a farm in western North Dakota "before, during, and after the Dust Bowl" - and throws in related recipes for good measure. I haven't tried the recipes yet (some of them look terrific), but I love some of the family stories and old photos (but, of course, I'm an honorary Norwegian-American since my wedding, and I might possibly have a weakness for Norwegian immigrant stories and recipes). Felicia Young, Carrie Young's daughter, helped compile and test the recipes in this book, and is listed as co-author.

The Prairie Cooks edition I have, from HarperPerennial, ISBN 0060927763, seems to be out of print. But the following edition from the University of Iowa Press is still available new.

Prairie Cooks: Glorified Rice, Three-Day Buns and Other Reminiscences
Prairie Cooks: Glorified Rice, Three-Day Buns and Other Reminiscences

Carrie Young is also the author of

Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother
Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother

The Wedding Dress: Stories from the Dakota Plains
The Wedding Dress: Stories from the Dakota Plains

The Jewish Ethicist: Silly Love Songs

Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir reponds to a reader's question about what songs are bad for spiritual health - and why. (Use title link.)

Rabbi Meir is the author of

The Jewish Ethicist: Everyday Ethics for Business and Life
The Jewish Ethicist: Everyday Ethics for Business and Life

From the publisher (via Barnes & Noble):
The Jewish Ethicist discusses scores of actual questions on ethical dilemmas in business as well as everyday life. The author, Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, not only gives answers but also provides a presentation of underlying ethical concepts, with special emphasis on the insights of Jewish tradition. The discussions sensitize the reader to ethical concerns in all areas of life, and build a comprehensive foundation of concepts to help resolve these concerns. In discussing topics such as marketing, human resources, and fair competition, attention is given to many up-to-date issues; and there is an entire chapter dedicated to ethics on the Internet.

Our Blue Castle: 20 ways to know if a 4yo comes from a homeschooling family ...

While we're on the subject of little kids, coffeemamma's description of a four year old girl from a homeschooling family is great fun. (Use title link.)

Fishing, little boy style

Today, I was taking a breather, sitting by a pond in one of our town's parks. As I was sitting there, a young lady and two little boys came walking up. The two boys had fishing poles. I have experience with little boys and fishing poles - more specifically, with little boys and fishing hooks. Need I say that not all this experience has been pleasant?

The younger boy looked to be a combination of whirlwind and imp: not a good combination for turning loose with fishing poles and fishing lines and hooks.

I started to feel a bit concerned that they were setting up so close to me.

I needn't have worried.

While the older boy was solemnly getting his set-up in order and baiting his hook with intense attention to detail, the younger boy hopped down to the pond, carefully picked what he considered a prime location (albeit taking time mid-quest to point out - with a happy shout - the spray a sprinkler down the way was making when it overshot the grass and hit the pond surface) and then he did a cast which threw his ribbon on the water.

An orange ribbon, tied securely to the end of the pole, served in lieu of a fishing line with hook. The ribbon was faded and it was frayed at the end. It had seen hard use, this ribbon.

It was just the same sort of plain ribbon used for birthday packaging; the type that curls tightly if you run it over the edge of scissors. It had a few lazy curls in it, like that type of ribbon tends to have naturally - this gave it bounce when he moved his pole up and down. Bounce is good in this context. Bouncing lines are fun.

He was happy. And make no mistake - he was fishing. Earnestly. There was nothing wrong with this kid's imagination.

Too fun.

Update: Made correction in third from last paragraph. Sorry I had the glitch in the first round. Six people arrested in suspicion of links to ETA

The war continues:
Spanish police arrested six suspected members of the armed Basque group ETA in pre-dawn raids Wednesday in Bilbao, Gernika-Lumo and Galdakao (Bizkaia) and Mendigorria (Navarre).

Two people were arrested in Gernika-Lumo, one in Galdakao, two in Bilbao and one in Mendigorria. According to counterterrorism sources, the arrests follow the papers seized after the arrest of the suspected ETA member Ibon Fernandez de Iradi Susper.
More Four killed, 45 missing at fire-destroyed oil platform in India

There has been a major fire on an oil platform about 100 miles off Bombay, India. More than 300 people have been rescued, but there are 45 missing and four confirmed deaths. The oil platform is being listed as destroyed.

This is injury on top of injury for the region: according to this article the worst monsoon rains on record are paralyzing life in Bombay. (Use title link.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

2005 National Scout Jamboree

This is the official 2005 Jamboree website.

Roma Locuta Est : Liturgical Music & Synod

Some higher-ups in the Catholic Church are suggesting that there should be a reconsideration of what sort of music is appropriate for use in the liturgy. "fj" at the Roma Locuta Est blog has the Zenit article, and commentary from her own experience.

Earthquake last night in Montana

A 5.6 earthquake centered near Dillon, Montana, gave the extended region a jolt last night. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an AP story.

A news release dated Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 04:08:35 UTC states:
The following is a release by the United States Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center: A moderate earthquake occurred IN WESTERN MONTANA, about 20 km (15 miles)north-northeast of Dillon or about 65 km (40 miles) south of Butte at 10:08 PM MDT, Jul 25, 2005 (10:08 PM MDT in Montana). The magnitude and location may be revised when additional data and further analysis results are available. The earthquake was felt in large parts of Montana. It was also felt in Idaho and Wyoming. No reports of damage have been received at this time.

Items knocked off shelves at Dillon and Bozeman. Felt (VI) at Dillon and Twin Bridges; (IV) at Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Missoula and West Yellowstone; (III) at Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Livingston. Felt (IV) at Island Park and Salmon; (III) at Coeur d'Alene, McCall, Moscow, Rexburg and Sandpoint, Idaho. Also felt (III) at Pullman and Spokane, Washington and in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The quake was felt as far away as Seattle, Washington and Calgary, Alberta.
(Just in case you live in the region and thought something seemed funky just about then but you couldn't put your finger on what it was...)

From the Bleachers: 75,000 pages

Tim Chapman says:
Hill folks are saying that the Senate Judiciary Committee can expect to receive over 75,000 pages of documents relating the John Roberts' work as a young attorney working for then-president Reagan...
Full post

Wittingshire: Poem Sunday: Victor Hugo

Amanda shares a short poem that begins "Be like the bird, who/ Halting in his flight/"...

Bill Murchison: Power politics

The title-linked column begins:
Having finished a new book on the late Justice Harry Blackmun, and eyeing the run-up to the John Roberts confirmation, I've got a question: How did abortion become the central issue in American politics?
And concludes:
We may depend on Steinem and such to weigh in heavily concerning John Roberts. The last thing they want is jurists who might challenge their power through the assertion of constitutional principles different than their own: principles from a time when, to Americans, life came before mere power.
The book he uses as the launching pad for this column is

Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey
Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey

Bookworm Room: The seductive power to do good

Speaking of the Supreme Court, blogger Don Quixote notes:
Bookworm asks why conservative Supreme Court appointees drift to the left but liberal appointees do not drift to the right. Perhaps it's because power doesn't always corrupt, sometimes it seduces.

Chief Justice Warren (an Eisenhower appointee) believed that segregation was wrong (as, I suspect, did most moderate Republicans in 1954). With one stroke of the pen he and his fellow justices could make it illegal. They simply could not resist the temptation to do good, resulting in Brown v. Board of Education.

Justice Douglas (a Roosevelt appointee) couldn't fine a right to privacy in the Constitution, but he knew the world would be a better place if birth control was legal. So he fashioned a right to privacy out of whole cloth, using the now famous penumbras and emanations, and authored Griswold v. Connecticut.

Justice Blackmun (a Nixon appointee) concluded legalizing abortion was a good and proper step for our society to take and used his position on the Court to accomplish the feat. Roe v. Wade was born, and millions of fetuses were not...
Full post, with links

Campaign for the Supreme Court - The Politics and Strategy of the Appointment Battle

The Washington Post is doing a blog on all things John G. Roberts Jr.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Seattle's first Jewish congregation established on July 25, 1889.

According to the title-linked article, Ohaveth Sholem Congregation was formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1889, built a synagogue in 1892 - and disbanded in 1895, fractured by financial difficulties and disagreements over the Reform movement versus traditional observance. There's a picture of the synagogue with the article.

Four Boy Scout Leaders Die in Va. Accident

Bad news. The details haven't been released, other than four BSA leaders were killed in an electrical accident of some sort on the opening day of the Jamboree. Another leader and a contract worker are hospitalized.

UPDATE: 7:30 p.m. - I see the above link has been updated at the Washington Post. The leaders were from Alaska, specifically Anchorage Troop 711. The accident happened while they were setting up camp. No kids got injured, it sounds like.

UPDATE: The above link is to the AP story being carried at the Washington Post. This is to an article by Washington Post staff writers Karin Brulliard and Martin Weil with more detail than AP has (at least as of 10:30 p.m. Pacific time) and a photo of the accident scene. It is looking like these guys were setting up a tent - and the pole hit an overhead powerline. This article says that three people (instead of the earlier reported two) were injured in addition to the four killed; and that two of those killed and the injured scout leader had children attending the jamboree. Oh, man, this must be hard on the families, going from what is usually a highlight of a guy's life to a nightmare like this.

A Constrained Vision: Winnie Cooper, Math Whiz

While we're on the subject of math, actress Danica McKellar (she played Winnie Cooper on "The Wonder Years") is a bona fide mathematician. No, really.

Dewey's Treehouse: Algebra Unplugged

Mama Squirrel at the Dewey's Treehouse blog recommends the book Algebra Unplugged by Kenn Amdahl and Jim Loats. Click on the title link to read her post. Click on the book cover to go to Barnes & Noble.

Algebra Unplugged
Algebra Unplugged

Bookworm Room: A humble hello

Blogosphere News: Bookworm has invited a blogger with the nom de plume of Don Quixote to join her at the Bookworm Room blog. The title link is to the post where he introduces himself.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 Qwest faces the awful tooth

File this under "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray."

I wondered what had us at a communications standstill most of Monday in this part of the world. As Jayson Jacoby of the Baker City Herald explains, it was a gopher - a pioneering gopher, no less, that did what no gopher in the Pacific Northwest has been known to do before...

Liberty and Lily: In the Public Eye

I caught a little of the footage of President Bush nominating John Roberts to the Supreme Court the other day, and I was charmed by Mr. Roberts. How nice, I thought, to have someone at that level who doesn't act like he thinks he is owed this honor.

Now I find out that part of that apparent struggle to maintain composure wasn't due to not being accustomed to being the center of attention on live television while someone introduces you at length. (It is, in my experience, easier to do the introducing than to just stand there being scrutinized while someone else lays on the praise - I can't imagine doing it with a hostile media doing constant close-up...)

Anyway, what we didn't see (and I wish we had) was that during this somewhat-solemn occasion, the judge's young son was grabbing center stage and dancing. Like little boys sometimes will, of course.

Donna-Jean at Liberty and Lily has a good post (use title link), from the perspective of a mother who has been subjected to the same sort of ill-timed theatrics by one of her own children. She also has links to pictures and video of the sideshow at the Roberts nomination.

AP Wire | Myron Floren, accordion player on 'The Lawrence Welk Show,' dies

Myron Floren made playing the accordian look easy. (Which it isn't.) And he always came across as a gentleman, too. He has died at home at age 85.

Mr. Floren joined Lawrence Welk's band in 1950 and stayed on until the television show ended in 1982. After that, he performed at music festivals around the country and at the Lawrence Welk Resort and Champagne Theater in Branson, Missouri.

His family doesn't want flowers, but they do suggest making a donation to the USO if you'd like to do something in his memory.

Another large earthquake in area hit by tsunamis in December

There has been an earthquake, preliminary size 7.0, in roughly the same area as the ones that caused tsunamis in southeast Asia last December.

The title link is to an earthquake monitoring site that updates constantly, and shows quakes in the last week.

Update: Here's an early AP report. It lists the quake at 7.2, and says Thailand did issue a tsunami warning for the Indian Ocean. The quake was centered at India's southern Nicobar Islands, and was felt in the state of Madras.

Update: For more on the seismicity of that region see here at the Amateur Seismic Centre, which specializes in the Indian sub-continent.

Update: As CNN reports, the tsunami warning has been lifted, and Indian officials are saying there was no damage on the Nicobar Islands. (Whew.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Transatlantic Intelligencer: Yogurt Is a Strategic Industry

There is a rumor going about that Danone, the company that makes Dannon yogurt, might be bought by an American company (PepsiCo, to be precise) - and the French government has sprung into action to fend off such a catastrophe, with Prime Minister De Villepin himself helping to lead the charge.

(No, really. The French media is being shrill and the French government is being silly, over the prospect of a possible takeover bid. Newspapers have been giving this front page coverage, mind you.)

John Rosenthal, writing at Transatlantic Intelligencer, takes a look at the situation here. In his second update, he provides a link to The Yoghurt War at EURSOC, which has good background on the story. Notably, it was not that long ago that Danone was being held up to scorn in France.

There are other factors to bear in mind. From The Yoghurt War:
...The reported takeover is still nothing more than a rumour: Some PepsiCo officials appear bewildered by the storm, while other insiders claim that Danone is blowing up the rumours itself to provoke a "rescue bid" by a rival firm like Nestlé. Nevertheless, Dominique de Villepin has telephoned Danone's chief executive Franck Riboud to assure him that the government will do everything to help the company fend off unwanted advances.

But what can the French government do? Legislation exists to prevent hostile takeovers of companies identifed as crucial to the national interest - utilities, even, at a stretch, certain manufacturers. Governments opposed to foreign ownership of certain politically sensitive "national champions" stretch these laws on occasion. Last year, France's government fended off a takeover of a French pharmaceutical firm, claiming that the company made drugs that might be required to protect citizens in the event of an al-Qaeda biological attack.

Even a government as slippery as this one would have difficulty stretching national interest laws to take in a biscuit and yoghurt manufacturer.

However, the fact that the government is interfering at all indicates its jumpiness. Following France's rejection of the EU constitution - blamed by France's elites on opposition to globalisation - discussion of national champions and state protection is no longer taboo. But governments cannot appear too anti-business, even if citizens lap up populist postures: If investors are scared off, the impact on French jobs could be a great deal worse than any loss of face because of Danone's takeover...
Who knew that a "no" vote on the EU "constitution" would shake something like this loose? ;-)

Update: Mr. Rosenthal has a follow-up post, with timeline.

American trivia - "Cleaveland" Ohio

For those of you who don't know already (I've featured it on this blog before), The Library of Congress has an American Memory project, which features (among other things), a "Today in History" feature - not a single snippet like at some sites, but a many-faceted write-up with pictures and links.

A tidbit from today's Today in History page:
On July 22, 1796, surveyors commissioned by General Moses Cleaveland completed the plan for the town of Cleaveland, Ohio. The Connecticut Land Company sent General Cleaveland to the northeastern region of Ohio to speed the sale of the 3,500,000 acres that Connecticut had reserved when Ohio was opened for settlement ten years earlier. In 1832, the city's name was changed to Cleveland when the a was dropped to reduce the length of a newspaper's masthead.

Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, the town did not grow substantially until the Erie Canal was completed in 1825. The canal opened a passage to the Atlantic Ocean, making the city a major St. Lawrence Seaway port. Soon, the city became a center for commercial and industrial activity. This activity increased further in the 1840s when the railroad arrived...
From The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History website sponsored by Case Western Reserve University and the Western Reserve Historical Society, here is a timeline of Cleveland history.

The Boston Globe: After many seasons of baring skin, fashion finally covers up

In Boston, at least, the trendy young women are rediscovering the fun of "clothing that leaves plenty to the imagination." Use title link for the article by Meredith Goldstein.

Hat tip: Dressing With Dignity

Daily Inklings: The Support Our Scouts Act 2005

Elizabeth Taylor supports the Boy Scouts.

Okay, so now that I rather shamelessly got your attention with a partial truth, the more complete truth is that Air Force wife and blogger Elizabeth M. Taylor has a lengthy and informative post in which she supports the Boy Scouts and asks for more people to speak out and take action on their behalf.

I'll second that.

A Constrained Vision: The ruin of renewal

Katie at A Constrained Vision blog has excerpts from (and a link to) an interesting Washington Post article by Charlotte Allen (known to some of you as one of the ladies at the Independent Women's Forum) about how an urban renewal project in her neighborhood in D.C. turned out once the dust settled. (Hint: not good.)

I'd recommend reading the Allen article in its entirety, but Katie provides a good thumbnail look.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Good news? We don't waste our Time(s) with good news...

Is it my imagination, or does the LA Times seem bound and determined, day in and day out, to have the most dire headline - and take - on an amazing variety of issues?

Tonight's exhibit: nearly every other news organization around the world appears to be running something like "In Americans, Lower Levels Of Chemicals" while the LA Times is blaring "CDC Says Americans Are Loaded With Chemicals." All using the same data as a starting point, mind you.

John Stossel: Big money socialism

John Stossel takes on the folks who take money from taxpayers to build sports stadiums. (Use title link.)

Maudie in the Middle and Building Pictures

The children’s book Maudie in the Middle by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Lura Schield Reynolds is fiction based upon Mrs. Reynold’s childhood in the early 1900s. The tag line on the front cover of my Dell Yearling copy from 1990 reads, “Would you want six brothers and sisters?” Maudie, as the title implies, is right in the middle age-wise, which leaves her feeling lost in the shuffle sometimes. In school she’s also stuck in the middle, as the only third grader in the one-room school.

In some ways, the book is a nearly continuous description of how people lived on an Iowa farm in those days, but there are some fun story lines and some drama, too. Much of the book revolves around Maudie’s rather misguided (and covert, and sometimes quite funny) quest to be her aunt’s godchild. Maudie’s not sure what a godmother is, precisely, but her schoolmate Anne has a godmother – Anne’s mother’s best friend, as it happens – who takes Anne places and buys her presents and “…if anything ever happened to her own mother, this friend was to take care of Anne and love her always.” Maudie decides it would be great to have a godmother for herself, further decides that her Aunt Sylvie would be perfect, and “So, whenever Maudie was around her Aunt Sylvie she tried to be perfect, in the hope that some day, when she was ten, perhaps, Aunt Sylvie would announce to the family that Maudie was to be her godchild.”

Need I mention that an eight-year-old girl who thinks it is important to be perfect is marching headlong into disappointment? Need I mention that her fear of letting anyone know what she’s up to doesn’t help?

I don't mean to imply that Maudie is prissy or sugary sweet. Not by a long shot. When she feels put upon she cooks up schemes like playing Blind Man's Bluff on the roof with two of her brothers. Maudie has a knack for getting into trouble, despite her repeated attempts to be as good as she possibly can be.

Chapter Three is called “Building Pictures” after a game Maudie and the others played at school. The teacher would designate one child to be “it” to get the game going. Everyone who wasn’t "it" would bow his or her head and close his or her eyes. The person who was "it" - in this case Maudie - tapped other children on the head, took them to the front of the class, set them up in a “picture” – in this case, See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – and then the teacher would let the other children look for two seconds. Then heads went back down and eyes were closed again. Then the children who were in the picture hurried as noiselessly as possible back to their desks. When the teacher called “Heads up” everyone tried to remember who had been at the front of the room and how they’d been posed. The first one to guess correctly got to be “it” for the next round.

A good friend says he played something like this in Boy Scouts, only they called it “Photograph.”

Anybody who just murmured that this game sounds like a piece of cake is invited to try it before making such a silly statement a second time. And don’t cheat. You get two seconds to take everything in.

Maudie in the Middle is currently out of print, and a quick check of market prices shows that, while there are a few inexpensive copies floating around, the prices are beginning to inch upward on this title, with quite a few copies at or near ten dollars today. (Of course, that's this afternoon. You never know with used book prices...) AP: Last WWII Comanche Code Talker Dies

The Navajo "code talkers" in the Pacific have perhaps received more press, but the Comanches in Europe also helped us win World War II. Charles Chibitty, the last Comanche code talker, has died at age 83. Use the title link to read the Associated Press story at Fox News. Go here for a Charles Chibitty page at the Comanche Nation website.

Chibitty earned several military medals, as well as further honors from the government of France, the United States government, and the state of Oklahoma. He was also known for his Indian championship war dancing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Fistful of Euros: Two on Turkey

Doug Merrill at the A Fistful of Euros blog recommends two books for people interested in Turkey: Crescent and Star by Stephen Kinzer, and The Turks Today by Andrew Mango. He reviews both books, and provides excerpts. (Use title link.)

Crescent & Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds
Crescent & Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds

The Turks Today
The Turks Today

Both Kinzer and Mango have other books on the region as well.

Clicking on a book cover takes you to Barnes & Noble.

OpinionJournal - Going Home to Say Merci

There is a joke that after World War II it was suddenly discovered that all the survivors in France were leaders of the Resistance. Apparently, many people claimed heroics who had no right to do so. (Probably every war has its Walter Mitty types and turncoats who claim to have been on the winning side all along - but the French population after World War II acquired a reputation, rightly or wrongly, for having more than its share of such folks.)

But. If you look past the sham heroes and take a look at the rest of that generation, it's clear that there were, in fact, some extraordinary acts of kindness, selflessness, and daring done behind the backs - and sometimes under the very noses - of the Nazis while they were on French soil.

Paul M. Barrett, a news editor at the Wall Street Journal, provides a dose of the real stuff. He recently accompanied his mother as she returned to France to see the small town where she and other Jews were quietly and successfully protected during World War II. He reflects on the visit here.

Notes in the Key of Life: The debt I owe to John Glenn

Cindy Swanson met astronaut John Glenn when she was ten years old - and his respect for her made an impression. Use the title link for the story.

Sunday, July 17, 2005 News - Sir Edward Heath, Europhile Prime Minister, dies at home

Sir Edward Heath was British Prime Minister in 1970-74. He has died a week after celebrating his 89th birthday. Margaret Thatcher, whom he openly berated for years, is showing her class upon his passing:
Baroness Thatcher, whose relationship with Sir Edward was famously bitter after she succeeded him as Tory leader, said in a statement: "Ted Heath was a political giant. He was also, in every sense, the first modern Conservative leader - by his humble background, grammar school education and by the fact of his democratic election.

"As prime minister, he was confronted by the enormous problems of post-war Britain. If those problems eventually defeated him, he had shown in the 1970 manifesto how they, in turn, would eventually be defeated. For that, and much else, we are all in his debt."
For more on Heath and other "PMs," see the 10 Downing Street website.

BJ Hoff's GRACE NOTES: Begin Before the Beginning

Author B.J. Hoff responds to the question of where beginning novelists should begin - by talking about the importance of rhythm in writing fiction, and the need to develop a reader's ear.

Hat tip: Notes In The Key of Life

AMERICAN FUTURE: Editorials/Op-Eds from Sunday's British Papers

Marc Schulman has a good round-up of editorials and op-eds to do with Islamic terrorists, multiculturalism, political and cultural reaction to the London bombings, etc.

Update: fixed typo.

Riding Sun: Japanese blogger catches MSM distortions

Initial news reports about the Japanese government planning to crack down on anonymous blogging were, uhm, not quite right, it looks like. It looks more like what was really said (among other things) is that powers that be would like for children to be taught that anonymity isn't an excuse for bad behavior, and that what they do in cyberspace matters whether anyone can catch them or not. (Ah, yes, remember the concept of integrity?)

Gaijinbiker at Riding Sun has a pretty good post on this kerfuffle. (Use title link.)

From Japan Media Review:
...The Kyodo report even surprised the bureaucrats who wrote it, according to IT Media News. Shigeo Naito, deputy section chief of the Ministry's Information and Communications Policy Division, claimed that every member of the panel believes that anonymity is actually indispensable to the Web, since it enables people to speak freely without being constrained, say, by who they work for. "We were proud that [the panel's report] was pretty liberal, coming as it did from a government agency. But the way it was interepreted, made it seem as if we were calling for people to use their real names," said Naito.


Though the Kyodo report may have mischaracterized what the Ministry intended to say in its panel report, bloggers and journalists are still not convinced that the Ministry doesn't have its eye on regulating the Internet. With neighboring China stepping up its crackdown on subversive Internet content, and even Japanese politicians calling for regulation in the wake of some widely publicized crimes and suicides that appear to have a link to the Internet, many expect greater government intervention ahead... France gets record fine for ignoring EU fishing rules

From an article by Lisbeth Kirk:
The European Court of Justice has fined France €20 million for allowing fishermen to catch and sell fish that are smaller than what is allowed under EU regulations.

In addition France must pay €57.8 million every six months until it complies with Brussels’ rules, the Luxembourg court ruled on Tuesday (12 July).


In 1991 the Court had already found that France had infringed Community law by not carrying out controls ensuring compliance with Community measures for fishery conservation.

During inspections of French ports 11 years later, the Commission found that France was still not complying fully with its obligations. Undersized fish were offered for sale and Paris had maintained a lax attitude to infringements.

The Commission asked the Court of Justice for a declaration that France had failed to fulfil its obligation to comply with the 1991 judgment.


The record fine did not hit headlines in the French media but France's National Fisheries Committee (CNPMEM) reacted angrily.

"Tonnes upon tonnes of small fish are unloaded in Spain and Portugal. There is fishing over and above the quotas in Scotland, Britain and elsewhere, and you never hear anything about it. People always point the finger at France", Pierre-Georges Dachicourt said on behalf of the organisation, according to France Info radio.

The French government took note of the ECJ’s decision and said in a statement it intended to respect EU rules.

Full article

Is anyone else starting to think that the reason so many French leaders tend to approve of all those EU rules is because, in their heart of hearts, they believe that EU rules do not apply to France unless France wants them to apply to France? Sometimes it sure looks that way. News - Scotland - CT scans rocks while patients wait

I like to think that there's a good explanation for this that we just don't know about, but The Scotsman has found that a hospital that routinely makes human patients wait for weeks for a CT brain scan somehow manages to make the scanner available on short notice for rock core analysis for oil companies. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary claims that the rock scans are done in off hours - but, on the other side of that, some folks are wondering why the NHS waiting list isn't being pared instead, if the machine is sitting there and the hospital can scurry up a radiographer without much apparent trouble.

Like I said, I'd like to think that the hospital is being intelligent about this...

Police snipers track al-Qaeda suspects - Sunday Times - Times Online

If you are an Al-Qaeda suspect in the UK and you haven't been arrested yet, don't think you don't have cops on your tail. According to the title-linked article:
UNDERCOVER police sniper squads are tracking as many as a dozen Al-Qaeda suspects because security services fear they could be planning more suicide attacks, writes David Leppard.

The covert armed units are under orders to shoot to kill if surveillance suggests that a terror suspect is carrying a bomb and he refuses to surrender if challenged.


Police fear the suspects could be planning a further wave of attacks but do not have enough evidence to arrest them, or place them under the government’s new anti-terror control orders.


Scotland Yard and MI5 say there may be more “bomb factories”. However, officers admit that they have no idea which suspects could be planning the next attacks so they are deploying the sniper squads as an emergency measure.

A member of S019, Scotland Yard’s elite firearms unit, said: “These units are trained to deal with any eventuality. Since the London bombs they have been deployed to look at certain people.”
Full article

hat tip: Little Green Footballs

Saturday, July 16, 2005

HistoryLink Essay: Klondike Gold Rush begins on July 17, 1897.

When the steamship Portland arrived in Seattle 108 years ago with miners who had hit it big along the Klondike River in the Yukon Territory, it set off a huge gold rush. For more, see Gold in the Northwest - A Snapshot History. | Editorials: Call Them What They Are

A newspaper in the United States has decided to call a spade a spade. From the Friday, July 15, 2005,
Two words not uncommon to editorial pages are "resolve" and "sacrifice," especially as they relate to war.

Today, this editorial board resolves to sacrifice another word – "insurgent" – on the altar of precise language. No longer will we refer to suicide bombers or anyone else in Iraq who targets and kills children and other innocent civilians as "insurgents."

The notion that these murderers in any way are nobly rising up against a sitting government in a principled fight for freedom has become, on its face, absurd. If they ever held a moral high ground, they sacrificed it weeks ago, when they turned their focus from U.S. troops to Iraqi men, women and now children going about their daily lives.


Words have meanings. Whether too timid, sensitive or "open-minded," we've resisted drawing a direct line between homicidal bombers everywhere else in the world and the ones who blow up Iraqi civilians or behead aid workers.

No more. To call them "insurgents" insults every legitimate insurgency in modern history. They are terrorists.
Full editorial

hat tip: Little Green Footballs

Friday, July 15, 2005

London Calling

George Miller at the London Calling blog has a couple of related posts up, essentially addressing the need to reassert A British National Identity and to restate the most basic of national principles. In the second post, he builds on (and rewrites) an editorial that appeared in The Telegraph, in which it is noted that people who won't subscribe to these basic principles are "irreconcilables." Mr. Miller says:
I was impressed reading this on my train this morning. I got rather excited about the word "irreconcilables." I thought, maybe, Britain was at last going to confront its "irreconcilables."

A Fistful of Euros: Out Of Tragedy Comes Hope?

Edward at A Fistful of Euros has a discussion going on whether the London bombings will result in significant changes, such as in better 'local information networks' inside the UK Muslim community, increased UK cooperation with security forces from countries with a large Muslim population, and taking a good, hard look at the process of integration. He starts from the vantage point of the Watts riots in 1965 in the United States - not where I'd start but it's his post...

Automotive Wind of Change From China | Business & Economics | Deutsche Welle |

China has entered the European car market, with the recent sale of 200 "Landwind" model SUVs, manufactured by Jiangling. The Landwind seems to be based on the Opel Frontera, but at 30 to 40 percent below the cost of the competition. The wholesaler, 27-year-old Peter Bijvelds, is hoping to sell 2,000 this year.

While the vehicle is made in China, the engine is built by Mitsubishi and the diesel motor is from General Motors, according to this article.

Wannabe witnesses, and the smell of America

In the front of A Sense of History: The Best Writing from the Pages of American Heritage (c. 1985, ISBN 0828111758), there is a section of essays solicited by the editors of American Heritage magazine. Public figures, authors, and scholars, were asked this question:
What is the one scene or incident in American history you would like to have witnessed - and why?
(Sounds like a blog tag, doesn't it?)

Anyway, I've just starting dipping into the essays, but so far my favorite is by Annie Dillard, who is identified only as Adjunct Professor of English, Wesleyan University. The essay is titled First Taste of America:
Nothing so attracts and holds my imagination as the fact of the virgin North American continent as the amazed Europeans first saw it. Here was "a plaine wildernes as God first made it," in the words of John Smith. It bespoke Eden itself, a beautiful land already planted, in which all possibilities might be realized.

Most tantalizing was the thought of it all, the very scent of it, from over the horizon at sea. For three centuries, European explorers plying uncertainly in Atlantic waters far from the sight of land repeated a certain moment: they smelled on the west wind the distant flowering forest.


The first permanent colonists found that the New World not only smelled good, it was, for the most part, edible...
She goes on to give some wonderful examples, which she says she gets from "John Bakeless's wonderful book The Eyes of Discovery." I see it is still in print, with a revised title.

America as Seen by Its First Explorers: The Eyes of Discovery
America as Seen by Its First Explorers: The Eyes of Discovery

spiked-liberties | Article | Assisted dying by the backdoor

Kevin Yuill notes a couple of disturbing developments that tend toward promotion of euthanasia in the UK.

First of all, Lord Chief Justice Woolf apparently supports lesser sentences for some murders if a particular killing was done because the killer claims to have thought he or she would relieve suffering by the action. Another way of saying that - there is a move to recognize gradations of murder based on the perceived quality of the victim's life.

Second, the British Medical Association has voted to abandon its previous opposition to legalization of assisted suicide or 'assisted dying' (single quotes mine), opting instead to increase protections for those doctors who don't want to participate in such procedures.

(The world seems upside down, somehow, when a medical society thinks it has become necessary to beef up legal protections for doctors who don't feel they ought to be in the business of killing their patients.)

Full article

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: The American Way?

Daniel Henninger looks at American legal history, pre- and post-1935.

Why 1935? Because that's more or less when the transformation to a legal-administrative state that considers the Constitution largely irrelevant (and the government the ultimate authority on what is moral or just) got its beginnings.

He ties this history to the current battle over Supreme Court nominees.

Riding Sun: Counter culture

Tokyo's governor Shintaro Ishihara allegedly called French a failed international language because it can't be used to count big numbers. As blogger Gaijinbiker explains, people who speak Japanese are in a funny position to be complaining about how another language deals with numbers and counting.

UPDATE: Betsy Newmark of Betsy's Page used to teach French. She also weighed in on this kerfuffle. States may raze Court's domain ruling

Nick Timiraos, writing for (a website of Pew Research Center), notes efforts by legislators and governors across the country to prevent Kelo v New London type property seizures in their states. In the article, Larry Morandi, a land use expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures, says to expect more action in January, since so many state legislatures are out of session right now.

hat tip: The Alliance Alert

Thursday, July 14, 2005

BBC NEWS | UK multi-culturalism under spotlight

Roger Hardy, BBC Islamic Affairs analyst, has stumbled onto an astonishing fact:

The radicalisation of some younger members of Britain's 1.5 million-strong Muslim community has led to often heated debate. Now questions are being asked about whether British-style multi-culturalism is succeeding or failing.


Muslim parents, teachers and community leaders are under pressure over whether they have done enough to acknowledge and tackle the threat of extremism.

British politicians are not only having to review domestic security.

They are being forced to think again about the mix of liberal policies pursued by successive governments since the 1960s - collectively known as multi-culturalism.

Multiculturalism was designed to bring different communities together, but its critics argue it has only served to keep them apart.

hat tip: Little Green Footballs

For whatever good it does in the long run, at least Mr. Hardy is helping to trot multi-culturalism out into the sunshine for a much-needed good, hard look. Hooray for that.

London bombings: Investigation, response, remembrance

There's more emerging on the men who bombed London a week ago, and their supposed accomplices. See, for instance, this David Stringer article at The Scotsman. The Scotsman has about a dozen bombing-related stories in today's edition, including Millions fall silent to remember dead, which has a link to which has been set up for e-mails from the public.

CNN has the article Britain's homegrown terrorists, by Matthew Chance, which paints this attack as something new:
(CNN) -- Terrorists don't usually attack their own. It happens, of course: In Iraq, for instance, insurgent bombers all too often kill Iraqi civilians.
Thank you for noticing.
But, till recently, it's been terrorists from one community killing people in another: Palestinian suicide bombers crossing into Israel; Chechen rebels in Russia; the 9/11 hijackers attacking the United States. But London's bombing suspects are British, born and bred, with jobs and families and lives. Their victims were not, on the surface, enemies; not an occupying army -- but their own countrymen.
Earth to CNN - young men often terrorize their own neighborhoods. It happens all the time. Young men commit suicide on a fairly regular basis. You don't think that, perhaps, the idea of taking people with you when you commit suicide might not appeal to spoiled brats or to boys in one of their all-too-common 'I'm a misunderstood social misfit' phases? Hey, kid, you don't want to face the difficulities of being a grown-up? Have we got a deal for you! Be a hero! Be a martyr, no less. (Why are the experts trying to make this so difficult?) Besides, not to pile on or anything, if these guys grasped the concept of having countrymen I rather think we wouldn't have this problem.

Oh, excuse me, there's something else we must take into consideration here. Mr. Chance adds this down the article:
Problems with Britain's nearly 2 million Muslims have been simmering for years and are growing. In 2001, riots swept immigrant areas of Britain's north. An official report cited alienation, unemployment, and lack of opportunity as causes.

All of these are factors that moderate Muslim organizations say are still making their youth vunerable to extremism.

"We have social exclusion, we have a sense of not-belonging, a sense of alienation. We have alien ideas, frustration, and humiliation," said Dr. Daud Abdullah of the Muslim Council of Britain.

"When you add the international dimension to this, all of these factors feed into the mindset of our youth, and it's demonstrating itself in this outrageous behavior," Abdullah added.

But it is the United States' -- and Great Britains' -- invasion of Iraq that has outraged many British Muslims. The Afghan war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are also high on their list of grievances.
The US and the UK (and 30-some other countries) didn't invade Iraq in the standard sense. We rousted and routed a dictator and his murderous underlings and are stepping aside as quickly as the Iraqis themselves get things in hand. For the first time in more than a generation, it is now possible for Iraqis in the UK to go home to Iraq. Yeah, that's just horrible. I'd be mad, too. Their relatives who didn't make it out might actually have a chance to not be shoved into mass graves now. Unthinkable. Those horrid Americans and Brits, giving Iraq a chance at rejoining the civilized world...

Analysts say radical Islamic groups may now be capitalizing on the anger and frustration of some British Muslims by channeling those feelings into a simple solution: terrorism. Hence Richard Reid, hence the Israel suicide bombers, hence the London attacks.
Here we're actually in agreement, more or less.

I'll only add that if the media wasn't so keen on playing the bellows to this fire, maybe it would help a little bit? Just a guess.

P.S. It occurs to me that with the current de-emphasis on history, there are probably folks out there who don't know about bellows. They are devices for getting more air to fire, such as in blacksmith shops. By getting more air (specifically, more oxygen) to the fire, the fire can be made to burn hotter - something vital to men trying to bend metal that can't be molded at lower temperatures. For a short overview, see, for instance, the Blacksmith page at the Colonial Williamsburg website. For a picture of one type of bellows, see here. Lately, I can't shake the idea that some 'reporters' see their job as keeping the heat on somebody or another, and making overall situations hotter from time to time. Hence, my analogy of bellows.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

LIBERTAS: Attack on the Clones - Or, A Review of Michael Bay's The Island

Music to my ears. A director breaking free of the pack in Hollywood - and veering in a good direction? I must be dreaming:
How in heck did a film that takes a staunchly pro-life position get made as a summer action thriller, at Dreamworks? This is the puzzling, pleasant question Govindini and I found ourselves asking after a recent screening of Michael Bay’s colorful and engaging The Island - quite possibly the most aggressively ‘conservative’ film this year. Who is the ‘Deep Throat’ at Dreamworks who allowed a movie to be greenlit that attacks cloning and creepy new obsessions with harvesting human tissue? Who is the ‘mole’ who allowed this movie to take veiled pot shots at Terri Schiavo’s grim executioners, or at earnest scientists who justify macabre experimentation because “it might cure children’s leukemia"? How did this happen? How can I jump on this bandwagon? Is someone hosting secret conservative meetings in the Dreamworks basement?...

Full review

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

BBC NEWS | Magazine | The unlikely enemy of the terrorist

This article by Tom Geoghehan looks at the pros and cons of various ideas put forth to increase security on public transportation, and comes away rather liking beagles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005, New London, CT: Eminent Domain Put On Hold In Connecticut

From an article by Kate Moran and Kenton Robinson:
Hartford — State legislators declared a moratorium Monday on the use of eminent domain in Connecticut, saying no municipality — including New London — should go forward with any plans until they have revised the law to protect the rights of private homeowners.

“The New London case has forced our hand,” House Speaker James A. Amman, D-Milford, said at a press conference at the Legislative Office Building. “What we need is a law that considers economic development and offers homeowners some peace of mind. This legislature will act on eminent domain,the towns heading down this path should take note, and they should hold off on any plans.”

And while stopping short of saying they would prevent the city of New London from taking the homes of those people still living in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, they did suggest it was a possibility...
Full article

hat tip: The Alliance Alert

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Telephone on Prince Edward Island - Life on a Party Line!

I vaguely remember my family being on a party line for a while when I was a kid. The fact that my father was a doctor I think got us moved to the front of the line for a private line - no doubt in large part to the snoopiness of some gossipy folks who had access to party lines!

Oooh, how the grapevine loved party lines. And oh, how some folks liked telling tall tales on the phone just to see who spread them about!

From the title-linked web page:
For many years, the telephone was not only a necessity, but also great neighbourhood entertainment! Rural lines were party lines for many years. Each subscriber on the line had a unique ring, i.e. two longs, or one long, one short, two shorts, etc. This system was called "coded ringing". The phones of every subscriber on the line rang at the same time, and it was great sport to listen in to the conversations of everyone on the line. There were still party lines in the country in P.E.I. until quite recently, the number of subscribers on each party line gradually reduced, and party lines finally eliminated across the Island around 1997.

There are many amusing stories about this sport, and in general about early telephones and exchanges, and I intend to pass along some of these on this page as it develops. Every one who has lived through the history of a rural telephone system until more recent years is bound to have some interesting stories. Those who worked for telephone companies as linesmen, installers, or operators will have other interesting stories.

Please share your stories with us. These need not be limited to P.E.I. ...
And lest you start letting yourself feel smug about poor little Prince Edward Island being behind the times on phones (assuming you got off party lines in your neck of the woods first), I would like to make clear that P.E.I. had a phone exchange back in 1884, thanks.

The "Life on a Party Line" page has some fun stories - be sure and send in yours if you have some good ones.

3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard): Tribute to "Nation's Farrier"

Before his retirement last month, Pete Cote hammered something like two million shoes onto the horses that pull the caissons at Arlington. Use title link for a tribute to the man.

Administrative Update :: :: BlogsforTerri

There's a new mission statement of sorts at BlogsforTerri. The new phase will kick in sometime in the next two weeks, Richard says.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

University of Kentucky Entomology for Kids: Bolas Spiders

If this were not from an Entomology Department website I might have dismissed it as a probable hoax:
Bolas spiders are relatively rare members of the large family known as orb weavers. Instead of using a typical web to capture prey, nearly mature and mature female bolas spiders swing a droplet of adhesive on a thread at flying insects.

Mastophora hutchinsoni is one of five Mastophora species known from the United States and occurs over much of North America. It has only one generation per year in Kentucky and overwinters in the egg stage. Spiderlings emerge in May. Males, which are much smaller than females, mature in late June and early July; and females mature in early September. Eggs are produced from late September to late October or early November. Newly emerged spiderlings do not use a bolas, but instead hunt by placing themselves on the underside of leaf margins where they ambush small prey that crawl along the leaf margin. Mature and nearly mature female M. hutchinsoni use a bolas to capture moths.

Only male moths were captured, specifically three species of Noctuidae (bristly cutworm, bronzed cutworm and smoky tetanolita) and one species of Pyralidae (bluegrass sod webworm). Among 492 prey captured by more than 20 spiders at two sites during 1985 and 1986, smoky tetanolita moth and bristly cutworm moths accounted for 93% of the total. The flight behavior of approaching moths, the limited kinds of moths caught from a large population of other kinds of available moths, and the fact that only males were caught support the hypothesis that the spider attracts its prey by producing chemicals that mimic the sex pheromone of these moth species. A spider often captured more than one moth species on a given night.
Roundabout hat tip to this Bogus Gold post, which got me to the University of Kentucky Entomology Department website, on which I am having oodles of fun...

But, to continue...bolas spiders? I didn't know about these creatures. (Pause while blogger googles a bit...)

Hey, here we go. Australia has bolas spiders, too, and here's one they call the Magnificent Spider. From the picture, I'd have to say the looks are more strange than magnificent, but to each his own, I guess.

From the Australian Museum Online fact sheet on bolas spiders:
The Bolas spider group has evolved a highly sophisticated way of capturing prey. These spiders use a single line of sticky silk to capture moths, which are lured by pheromones released by the spiders. There are several species worldwide, with three species found in eastern Australia: Ordgarius magnificus, O. furcatus, and O. monstrosus....
Monstrosus? That I'd like to see... ( And while this picture might serve for a poster for a boy's room, I don't think I could identify any spider from it... )
During the day, the Magnificent Spider hides in a retreat made by binding leaves together with silk. Preferred trees include natives such as eucalypts in dry or wet sclerophyll forests, but these spiders are also found in suburban gardens. Often the spider's characteristic spindle-shaped egg sacs are hanging near the retreat. Ordgarius magnificus is found in Queensland and New South Wales...

A medium sized spider (1.4 - 2.5 cm), the female Magnificent Spider is very distinctive in its markings. It is white with two bright yellow knobs on its abdomen, and a number of salmon-coloured spots and blotches as well. The body and limbs are covered with long fine hairs, especially the forelegs. The male is tiny (1.5 mm).
What's that saying about truth being stranger than fiction?

A question. In Kentucky bolas spiders are in the genus Mastophora, and in Australia they are in Ordgarius? (Just to make it even more fun, on the Magnificent Spider fact page it says that Ordgarius magnificus used to be known as Dicrostichus magnificus.) How many genera of bolas are there anyway?

P.S. I have a sense of humor. If you make up something like Neckwearichus I won't throw things at you. I might groan, but I won't throw things at you - as long as you make it clear that you are being funny and not relaying actual scientific information. Note: I've just checked my UK dictionary, and it doesn't have bola ties listed. Nor bolo ties - the same thing, just spelled differently. Hmmm. You can't get the joke if you don't know about bola ties... See here for examples, and here for history and commentary. Some people just call them western ties, if that helps any, but around here we call them bolos or bolas.

P.P.S. If you don't know about the original bola, the weapon for which the spiders are named, see these pictures for examples.

Saturday, July 09, 2005 - AP: Italy Arrests 142 in Anti-Terror Sweep

In response to the bombings in London, Italy has arrested 142 people in a two-day anti-terrorism security sweep around Milan.

Weather report/ Fire report

I don't usually bother with weather reports on this blog, but I have just (reluctantly!) plugged the heaters back in at both ends of the apartment, and cranked them on. The windows are closed tight. The draft-blocker is snugged up at the base of the back door to keep the outside air out.

This is a switch. I've been trying to get a walk in every day, and lately I've had to pull myself out of bed earlier than usual just so I can make my rounds before it's too hot. Next week, mind you, I've been told to expect it to be around 100 degrees by the end of the week. But today, I have the heaters on in here. And I'm hardly wearing summer clothes, either.

Outside, it has been raining off and on for hours. This is good. While you weren't looking, the total acres scorched by wildfire this year in the United States has already passed three million acres. If you want to get specific, the stats so far are 3,006,282 acres. The ten-year year-to-date average for July 9 is 1,846,859. (See here for current stats, updated regularly.)

We've lucked out so far this year in this part of Oregon, but we've had some awful fire seasons around here - the sort that make a person grateful for a bit of summer rain without lightning. (Even if it makes a person turn the heaters back on...)

The Sun Online - News: Pray for all the missing

A UK tabloid newspaper displays pictures of loved ones not located since the London bomb attacks. It's heartbreaking. But it's also a reminder that this isn't some abstract battle being waged. (And when did you last see a general circulation star-obsessed, babe-drenched, gambling-promoting publication like the Sun asking for prayers for specific everyday people?)

See also its news front page for more pictures, more stories, more people being sought - and a roll call of heroes.

UPDATE: I thought I should mention that the roll call of heroes (among other articles) includes gruesome stuff you probably will want to keep away from youngsters. (Not that you'd let your children of tender age near a risque tabloid anyway, but this is nightmare stuff, truly, even for us grown-ups.)

London Calling: Too close to evil and suffering

George Miller writes about being in London, near the blasts: the rumors, the realities.

Hat tip: Jonathan at Wittingshire

TCS: Tech Central Station - War in Pieces: The Blood Feud

Lee Harris has been pondering who and what we're up against with the Islamist terrorists. He thinks he might be starting to get things into focus:
Immediately after 9/11, the general consensus was that we were at war. And yet this evocation of the concept of war bothered me because it did not quite fit. Wars were things that Westerners did. They were fought for economic reasons or for territorial expansion; they were instruments of policy; they had a point and an objective. You knew when a war started, and you knew when it was over. On both sides of a war you had diplomacy -- the breakdown in diplomacy normally started wars, and a recommencement of diplomacy inevitably signaled their termination. Finally, wars, when they were fought, tended to resolve into a series of increasingly climactic battles, allowing each side to keep score of its position, as in a game of chess, and ending in some well-established gesture, like waving the white flag or slaughtering your enemies en masse.

If you try to make the random and scattered terrorist attacks since 9/11 fit into this pattern, you will soon realize that it takes a good bit of twisting and squeezing to make these events match the profile of Western warfare. Indeed, when I wrote "Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology," I argued that war was not the appropriate model to employ in order to gain an understanding of the enemy that we faced -- and yet at the time I was still unclear what model of conflict would make more sense.

After the London bombing, I feel more than ever that the war model is deeply flawed, and that a truer picture of the present conflict may be gained by studying another, culturally distinct form of violent conflict, namely the blood feud.
He goes on to explain the characteristics of blood feuds. Full commentary here.

Harris is the author of

Civilization and it's Enemies
Civilization and Its Enemies

Hat tip: American Future

Friday, July 08, 2005

Our Blue Castle: A recipe from The Boy

We're macaroni and cheese fans in this house, and I'm rather tired of the kit kind. Here's a recipe for homemade that sounds pretty good. And it has the added benefit of being written with personality as well as clarity. (How often does that happen?)

The importance of hearing

I took a sign language night class while I was attending college. I took it just for fun. I never expected it to change my world. I guess you never know, do you?

I highly recommend taking night classes while going to college, by the way - the interaction with grown-ups who aren't after degrees but just want to improve themselves is a very nice (and grounding) activity. I sometimes suspect that half of what is wrong with so many college students and so many college professors is that they spend too much time exclusively with college students and college professors - but that's another story.

I couldn't have guessed it then, but only a couple or so years later I would be doing song translation at a concert at a school for the deaf in Canada; part of this concert, as it happened, was shown on a television broadcast to the Canadian nation (and, one presumes, neighboring states in the USA), with me as a very nervous center of too much attention. (When I accepted the job, I didn't know it was going to be televised. It kind of changed the pressure level when I found out.)

And I blew it. Oh sure - I have all these private gigs where things go almost perfectly but it's when my performance is broadcast to thousands if not millions of people - that's when I have to use a wrong sign!

A short explanation is in order. Song sign is not the same as spoken sign. You not only take a little artistic license now and then to make the signs flow into each other better, but sometimes you have to get creative because the conversational sign is too tiny or too subtle to be read by an audience. In that case, you must either exaggerate the sign, or invent one to take its place. But the invention must make sense. I was on a concert tour with Up With People when this happened, and I found out ahead of time, maybe a couple weeks or so ahead, that the director wanted me to perform in sign language at this particular show. But, of course, no one had translated the songs yet. That was up to me. Excuse me, please, I've had one semester of night class! I'm not a translator yet! Hello! We didn't do song sign in that class. I'm in over my head here! I think we were in Massachusetts still (it was in New England or thereabouts for certain) and I cast about until I found a school that had a sign language program, and I made an appointment with the instructor, and she graciously sat down with me and worked through the material I was to perform.

Most of it was easy enough. As I remember it, she ran me through the basics of what had to be drawn out more, and how to add flourish without going overboard. She helped me find alternate signs which made the song prettier to watch. I had some stage experience before Up With People, plus my stage training for Up With People, and so some of what she was teaching me I already understood - but her input was wonderful. There are reasons that shows have directors instead of just actors, after all. I have forgotten the lady's name, but I am in her debt.


We were huge on fighting racism in those days. In that spirit, one of our songs was "What Color Is God's Skin?" Basically, a parent is tucking a child into bed, and the kid asks what color God's skin is. The parent answers, "It's black, brown, it's yellow, it's red, it is white. Everyone's the same in the good Lord's sight," etc.

What color is God's is a joy to sign, as it happens. It's just a sequence that works. (Think hula dancing, without the hips...) But "skin" was a problem. Neither this professor nor I knew a sign for "skin," not really, and research didn't help us much. Excuse me, but pinching my arm was neither clear nor beautiful - nor did it go with the flow. (You betcha, "What color is God's forearm?" is real catchy. And not the least distracting, either...)

We finally decided that, put into context, running a couple of fingers down one side of my face would probably be my best bet. The meaning would probably be clear enough - and if people guessed wrong they'd probably guess "face" instead of "skin" - which struck us as quite acceptable. And it fit wonderfully with the other signs. It was just the right height, going just the right direction at just the right time. Good enough.

So that's what I went with, quaking in my boots from having a camera stuck on me the whole time - but managing - and after a while enjoying myself (mostly).

After the concert a whole bunch of kids came up to me (think rock star being mobbed) and the first thing they did was jump up and down and say - in sign, of course - how wonderful it was that a deaf person like me could go on a concert tour. Oops. Who told them I was deaf and not a translator? I swallowed hard and explained that I could hear. Faces drooped. (Dang. They'd been so happy.) So I did a little chatting with them about how they shouldn't let the fact that I personally wasn't deaf discourage them any. (This was a very strange situation to be in, I have to say.)

But then, as soon as they recovered from the disappointment of finding out I wasn't deaf they asked me about that one sign we'd made up for "skin," the sign language instructor and my humble self.

"What's this (they did a perfect imitation of me running fingers down the side of my cheek)," the kids signed, earnestly. "Why?" they added.

Well, I wasn't too surprised that they were confused. After all, it was the one sign in the whole show that the professor and I had invented.

I spelled it for them using the sign language alphabet - s.k.i.n.

The kids shook their heads - and at that instant I realized why they were so incredibly confused about that sign and perplexed about why it was in that song. In one blazing, humiliating instant, it flashed into my brain that I had used a sign that already existed for something else. The whole song I had been signing, "What color is God's Mormon?" Yep. For the sideburns of the early leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you run your fingers down along where the sideburns go. (At least in that particular sign language. There are several sign languages, if you don't know.) The kids confirmed my fears, by the way, spelling M.o.r.m.o.n. back at me. Oops.

Go ahead. Laugh. I did once I finally crawled out from under the nearest rock (figuratively speaking).

Not that I have anything against Mormons (I don't), but saying "Mormon" when you mean "skin" is a Very Bad Translation, if I do say so myself.

I don't know what the archive policy is for Canadian television, but sometimes I wonder if there is still footage somewhere of me making one of the silliest mistakes of my life. I hope no one has ever used that clip to learn song signing, and that's a fact. I rather hope it's been melted or shredded or whatever gets done to old film that recorded a performance that doesn't meet a certain level of competence.

The subject comes up because today I have been thinking about that sign language class - the one I took while still in college - and an important lesson that I learned while taking it. Our instructor (I think her name might have been Sally but I'm not sure all these years later) set it up so that we could learn a little bit about being deaf. I remember that I scoffed a little (I was a college kid, remember?) when the assignment was given to us. Being blind was serious. Deaf? Deaf struck me as not nice but hardly anything to get overly excited about. Of all the disabilities I could think of, deafness seemed like a walk in the park compared to the rest of them.

But Sally (let's call her that) assigned us to wear gear that blocked our hearing and furthermore she gave us Very Strict Instructions that we were NOT to do this on our own, that we must work in teams of two and one of us must stay hearing and keep his or her eyes out for the person experimenting with being deaf. We thought Sally was treating us like babies, or else was totally nuts, but we agreed to the terms.

And thank goodness we agreed to the terms.

The assignment included doing certain chores while deaf: cooking, going to the store, I don't remember what else. I was staggered by how hard it was.

I had had no idea that I did not know how to cook if I couldn't hear things boiling or sizzling in the pan. Honestly. I had no idea how much I relied on my hearing to cook.

I had no idea how often and how easily I avoided getting run into by shopping carts at the store solely because I heard them coming up and rather automatically adjusted.

And parking lots? The buddy system kept us from having funerals because of parking lots. I'd assumed that seeing movement out of the corner of my eye was the crucial thing. Wrong!

I just had never noticed how much I relied on my sense of hearing.

With a little thought, it becomes self-evident. When do I know the cats are into something they shouldn't be, for instance? Usually it's because I hear something that clues me in. When do I know my husband is home? Usually the first clue is that series of sounds that has a smile on my face before he comes through the door. Sometimes I smile first, and only realize that I'm hearing him after my attention is already focused. Hearing can feel like a supernatural thing.

I have turned off malfunctioning appliances - because they didn't sound right. I have pulled off the road because the car didn't sound right. I have heard fires before I have seen them or smelled them. The sound of water dripping has led me to many a problem that needed nipping in the bud. And how many times have I skirted disaster because someone shouted a warning or honked a car horn? It doesn't bear thinking about.

Again and again and again, hearing has prevented me from suffering injuries or has brought me joy, and that's well before you get to the subjects of music, or the fun of chatting back and forth with someone, or that general sense of being nestled in amongst other people that comes from half-hearing the folks around you.

Let's not forget the obvious - the information we glean from listening to people. In person, on television, on radio, in class, wherever.

I'm sure you could make your own list.

Hearing matters.

This all comes up for a couple of reasons, not least that The Anchoress has put up a post saying that she has been told she's probably going deaf. And when I read it I realized (to my chagrin) that without that college assignment I might be back at my twenty-ish view of the world, scoffing and saying, "Yeah, well, deafness isn't as bad as some stuff I can think of." Yes, sure, it's not as bad as some things. Definitely.

But, at a wild guess, I suspect that you haven't got a clue how many of your coping skills - not to mention how much of your day to day finesse - (I'm presuming you have some finesse and style ;) is dependent on your ability to hear small clues and respond without thinking about it. I don't think you can know, if you haven't stopped to think about it. Hearing is just so internal.

Can you hear all right? Count your blessings.

And turn the volume down a little, please, if you happen to be careless about overloud sounds. This is one of those gifts that requires proper protection, you know.

OpinionJournal - Citizen of the World: 'Take Courage'

Tunku Varadarajan shares what some of his British friends told him after he inquired if they were okay after the bomb blasts.

For instance:
My friend Q.'s response to my note yesterday was a very British jewel: "Yes, tin helmet firmly affixed on bean, sandbags at the door, sticky tape on the windows, but the kettle is on and we'll soon have steaming mugs of sweet tea to hand. Don't panic!"

Q. was chiding me for my note--and I took that as proof of absolute well-being. In his words we find a self-deprecating pride, a gentle mocking of the "Mrs. Miniver" approach that got Britons through the Blitz--and, by golly, was going to see them through this brush with Islamist lunatics.
That noise you could hear if you were closer to me is me - applauding.

Full op-ed piece

OpinionJournal: Faith and Fashion

The oh-so-fashionable folks of Long Island are trying to shut down a rabbi who holds services in a house tucked away behind hedgerows.

It sounds vaguely like the recent difficulties in Orange County, Florida (where, I'm pleased to report, the rabbi won.).

To be fair, it sounds like the Long Island case involves something identified as a Jewish Center and not as a home. But still. Good grief. The plaintiff's complaint includes the charge that the Chabad of Southampton Jewish Center is driving down property values. (Despite the fact that property values seem to be going up.)

The reporter who wrote this commentary, Lucette Lagnado, has attended Southampton Chabad, and she wonders out loud whether part of the problem, in the locals' eyes, is that Rabbi Rafe Konikov is a member of the Lubavitch sect, which is traditional Orthodox.

But she also has a quote from New York magazine in which a resident claims he/she isn't against Jews - but would be just as opposed to "Holy Rollers."


Full Lagnado op-ed piece

Pundita on African economies and European oddness

The blogger Pundita has several posts this week in which she sees Europe not acting like its usual self, so to speak. For instance:
Has anyone else noticed that something really strange is going on across the Pond? Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye has just sent Pundita this bombshell: an online newspaper interview with a Kenyan economist who charges that aid to Africa and Western development policies helped wreck the continent.Nothing the economist says would be news to Pundita readers, but the astounding part is that the newspaper is Germany's Spiegel and that they actually published the interview...
She has an excerpt, and links.

Roundabout hat tip to Marc Schulman of the American Future blog for this post in which he thanks Pundita. Who, I asked myself, is this Pundita...?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Radio callers have bones to pick with Hollywood

Columnist Martin A. Grove, writing on The Hollywood Reporter online, says:
Disconnect discussion: In speculating about why moviegoing is down this summer insiders are starting to ask if there's a disconnect between the public and Hollywood over politics and social issues.

Studio executives have already cited weaker product, pre-show commercials, high ticket prices and DVD competition as contributing to the summer slide. What's even more troubling is the possibility that audiences are being turned off by their general perception of Hollywood's morality and politics. To some observers it seems that as more and more movie stars go public with their personal views on national and international issues, people across the country are starting to take offense.

Although I've heard the thought expressed privately in conversations with insiders, I was surprised to see how vocal the public is starting to be on the subject when I guested Saturday afternoon on CNBC anchor Ron Insana's syndicated Westwood One radio program. In the course of a one-hour conversation, in which MSNBC entertainment editor Dana Kennedy also took part, caller after caller complained about the movies Hollywood is making and the headlines the stars are generating....
Full column

hat tip: Best of the Web Today

Obituary: USGS Scientist Irving Friedman

From the USGS website:
Irving Friedman, a longtime U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist and a pioneer in geochemistry, died on June 28, at the age of 85.

Friedman was born in New York City on January 12, 1920. He obtained a B.S. degree in chemistry from Montana State University, a M.S. degree in chemistry from Washington State University, and a Ph.D. in geochemistry at the University of Chicago. Friedman was a member of the famed group of post doctoral researchers in Nobel laureate Harold Urey’s laboratory at the Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University of Chicago. There, Friedman built the first mass spectrometer for routine measurement of the hydrogen isotope composition of water. Hydrogen has two stable isotopes and much can be deduced about the history of water from their proportions. Friedman is called the "father of isotope hydrology."...