Wednesday, August 31, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | Race to rescue hurricane victims

The BBC has several Katrina articles, plus video. The title-link is to the latest as of post time.

Update: BBC has a Katrina In Depth section on its website: articles, links, message areas.

Hundreds now feared dead in Katrina's Wake -

Another Katrina update, from Australian correspondents in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Las Vegas SUN: Dress code idea for planned casino could get cold shoulder

Actor George Clooney is floating the idea of having a dress code for customers at a casino at a hotel/condo complex he is helping finance in Las Vegas -- and various and sundry people are having public hissy fits over it. As a matter of fact, according to Las Vegas Sun reporter Liz Benston:
Jerry Markling, chief of the Gaming Control Board's enforcement division, said he believes enforcing a dress code would run afoul of a state law requiring that gambling be conducted in the public eye.
Uh, right.

(Do I laugh or cry?) Times-Picayune Breaking News Weblog

The Times-Picayune has a breaking news blog which is, as you might expect, heavy on Katrina-related news right now.

It is on the website, which bills itself as "Everything New Orleans" and which has other disaster information as well.

There is also Jon Donley's Nola View blog with neighborhood information, contact info, reports from readers, etc. | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News

Tom Planchet is posting Katrina updates as they come in at WWLTV.

hat tip: Blanco: New Orleans Must Be Completely Evacuated at WeatherBlog, which has several good Katrina-related posts.


Hour by hour, the news gets worse all along the Gulf Coast. The water keeps rising in New Orleans, now that the levees have breached. Across the South, people are sitting on rooftops, hoping for rescue. Rescue workers are having a hard time getting in, and so many people decided to try to ride out the storm that the need for immediate help is staggering.

Michelle Malkin is doing a good job of Katrina coverage and of linking to other sites and resources.

I'm listening to Fox News in the background, and they are just now reminding that Katrina isn't done. We're looking at tornadoes and floods up through state after state northward.

Monday, August 29, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Green petite cars tempt tourists

Clark Boyd, technology correspondent for The World, a BBC World Service and WGBH-Boston co-production, reports on a tiny, blobby electric car being offered by a rental service in Cordoba, Spain - an entrepreneurial project getting money (and dedicated parking spaces) from the local Communist-controlled government.

The local taxi drivers call them "caracoles" (translation: snails) and honk at them.

The Spanish car rental company is called Blobject. It has recently opened a second office in Seville. The Blobject cars come equipped to provide GPS-linked tourism information in Spanish, English or French.

The cars themselves are Gems, or Global Electric Motorcars, made in the US by a division of Daimler-Chrysler.

Mr. Boyd's article here.

Semi-related previous Suitable For Mixed Company post about using something other than the standard automobile or truck to get around town here.

New blogger : Fiona Pinto

Fiona Pinto just started her blog August 1, so possibly you haven't met her yet. Pop over and give her a welcome, and maybe a link, what do you say? Help a newbie get launched?

I have to admit that I like this part of her "about me" message quite a lot:
...I am setting up this blog primarily to highlight media inaccuracy, and also to point out some first class examples of investigative journalism and reporting.
I think too many people have fallen into the rut of only pointing out the bad reporting, and aren't giving enough thought to highlighting what gets done right.

Pinto has been active in prolife campaigning for the last five years, she says. She seems to be UK-based, from what I see in her links and from I'm reading in her posts.

hat tip: ProLifeBlogs

Update: Fiona confirms via the comments that she's in the UK. She's updated her profile to make that clear.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Michelle Malkin is compiling a round-up of relief efforts, both public and private, lined up to help communities in Katrina's path.

B. Austin Higgins is wondering Who in the international community will help us?

At this point, we can't know how bad it's going to be, but it's a scary, scary big storm.

Augusta Free Press : Priceless

R.J. Del Vecchio was a combat photographer in Vietnam. He recently attended a reunion of vets and their families. He got to help pick the music. His pick for opening song was...

hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Telegraph | Opinion | The EU can work for Britain - if we quit

Daniel Hannon, Conservative Member of the European Parliament (MEP) offers a series of reality checks in an opinion piece in the Telegraph.

He provides some suggestions for the UK in its future dealings with the EU, with an eye on the success of the countries that have struck special deals with Brussels. By standing somewhat apart, the members of the European Free Trade Area (Efta) - Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein - are doing much better than EU members, Hannon notes.

And he easily dispenses with some of the lines put forth by "Euro-apologists" too:
...You can't compare us to Iceland," they say, "Iceland has fish." So, of course would Britain, but for the ecological calamity of the CFP. "We're nothing like Norway," they go on, "Norway has oil." Indeed; and Britain is the only net exporter of oil in the EU. Then my particular favourite: "But Switzerland has all those banks." Yes. And London is the world's premier financial centre - although it is, admittedly, being slowly asphyxiated by EU financial regulation...
hat tip: Orrin Judd

Eric Cohen -- A Jewish-Catholic Bioethics?

Eric Cohen addresses something that has puzzled me for a long time. Why is it that Catholics and Jews have almost identical ethics when it comes to most matters involving the sanctity of human life - but some Jews veer apart when it comes to embryonic stem cell research and cloning?

Eric Cohen is editor of the New Atlantis and resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly . COVER STORY . Right to Live . August 26, 2005 | PBS

Leslie Burke, the British man fighting to not be killed by his doctors (via dehydration and starvation) when his disease progresses to where he can no longer talk, was just featured on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on PBS (public television in the United States).

He came across very well, I thought, and the broadcast itself was more even-handed on the subject than I've come to expect from public broadcasting.

Liz Sayce, of the Disability Rights Commission, was given a chance to put in some good points, including that nondisabled people shouldn't be making assumptions about how 'awful' life is for someone with a disability - that once a person adjusts to a disability they can have a great quality of life.

Charles Wilkes, a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference, was allowed to explain why the bishops held back their support for Burke's legal campaign (short answer: in their view, as presented, it opens the door for euthanasia).

Dr. Graeme Catto of the General Medical Council, and Dr. Michael Wilks of the British Medical Association were also interviewed, and expressed their concerns about patients being allowed to ask for more than was good for the patient or the system (I'm paraphrasing, and perhaps not charitably. After all, it would be impossible to cover all patient requests, if the law enshrined patient wishes as the end-all and be-all of allocating resources. But I do think they're over-reaching in this case. Burke simply wants to have food and water guaranteed for as long as his body can deal with it. It's not like he's asking for anything fancy, hard to get, or experimental.)

Transcript and video

I only have a couple of quibbles with the broadcast. First of all, it refers to "artificial nutrition" - a term I think is ridiculous and harmful, since getting food by tube isn't that drastically different than getting food and water by mouth - it's still basic nutrition, nothing artificial about it. And, secondly, it assumes, as do most media reports sadly enough, that end-of-life care is hugely expensive and therefore drains the overall health care budget - which I concede is possible, but not if what people are fighting for, like Leslie Burke, is to die of natural causes instead of having their death imposed by dehydration. If a person isn't demanding extensive care, but only wants to spend their last days in peace, there's no way that's hugely expensive. We're back, I think, to the initial, honest hospice idea, where the idea was to fend off the doctors, hospital administrators, social workers, et al, and be more sensible, sane, and caring during someone's last days.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

North County Times - Lawsuit against UC system claims religious bias

The University of California system has refused to give college-entrance credit for some courses taught at Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, California. The school, five of its students, and the Association of Christian Schools International have jointly filed a lawsuit claiming anti-Christian bias. Among the denied courses: "Christianity's Influence on America," and "Christianity and Morality in American Literature." According to reporter Jennifer Kabbany of the North County Times, UC documents cited the rejected courses as "too narrow (and) too specialized."

On the other hand, according to the lawsuit, UC has approved credit for "A study of Western Caribbean Culture," "The 60's: A Closer Look," "Existential Literature," "Gender, Sexuality and Identity in Literature," "Intro to Buddhism," and "Feminist Issues Throughout U.S. History," and dozens of other courses which the complaint contends are narrower and more specialized than Calvary Chapel's courses.


No Left Turns: Which novelist would you vote for?

Joseph Knippenberg is asking, "Which living novelist could you support if he or she ran for office?" He tosses out Mark Helprin and Leon de Winter as likely contenders. Orson Scott Card is getting some early support from commenters, as is William F. Buckley, Jr.

This whole discussion started with a jab by Daniel Akst that novelists would do anything - including running for office - to help sell books (a dubious claim, I'd say). But, putting that aside, this gives you an excuse to speak up for favorite authors that seem to fall into this category. (Caveat: You do know there is sometimes a substantial difference between a writer and his and her fiction, yes? We shall take pains to not take ourselves too seriously, no?)

Having said that, I'd probably vote for Jan Karon, if it came to that. She comes across as classy and good humored, seems to understand people, appears to keep things in perspective, and can handle hostile television interviewers.

The Common Room: Music Question

A first-time guitar buyer is looking for advice on what to look for and what to avoid. Go here if you can help, or to read the suggestions from her readers.

The Advertiser: Lost dog catches train home

They grow some smart dogs in Scotland, apparently ;-)

Book Notes: Hard Bargain by Robert Shogan

Hard Bargain, Vol. 1
Hard Bargain

I just finished reading Hard Bargain: How FDR Twisted Churchill's Arm, Evaded the Law, and Changed the Role of the American Presidency by Robert Shogan (1999 trade paperback, ISBN: 0813336953). It's a good read, but not a fast one. I'd recommend it for history buffs, WW II military buffs, and anybody trying to get a handle on how the United States government morphed into its present shape and size.

Up until the last chapter it's a pretty straightforward, well-documented look at history as it unfolded rather than any sort of advocacy book. (In the last chapter Shogan gives an overview of what he sees as oversteps made by more recent Presidents using FDR's actions as precedent, and lets loose with what he thinks we should take away as the main lessons from all this, and what he thinks we should do about it.)

Shogan provides analysis, but is amazingly even-handed overall, as far as I could see. As it says in the Author's Note:

...Those who seek either to sanctify or demonize Roosevelt will find little support here. Neither angel nor devil, FDR emerges from these pages as a politician, seeking after the light as he saw it, but also seeking after reelection. This is not the story of villains against heroes, etched in black and white. The fundamental contest here is between principle and expediency, which can be glimpsed only in various shades of grey. It is my hope that the past seen through this prism can help to illuminate the future.
I don't know about the future, but I kept running into bits and pieces that seemed to help explain some of what is going on these days.

This book has extensive endnotes - a fact I didn't tumble to right away because the text isn't littered with numbers. There's also an extensive bibliography (roughly four pages for books, two pages of other sources), as well as an index.

The book is full of interesting vignettes, fascinating people, information that has come to light since the declassification of World War II documents, and quotes from contemporary sources. I find myself wanting to follow up on people and events to which I was only introduced here: "Wild Bill" Donovan and his unofficial-official end run around Joseph Kennedy, the situation around Trinidad during the war, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter's active role in advising people in the administration and also all those proteges he steered into the executive branch, and also, surprisingly enough, I'd now like to learn more about British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. (Yes, I knew about Neville Chamberlain, but I didn't know FDR sent him a I-think-you're-right cable after the Munich meeting where Britain and France agreed to let Hitler have his way with Czechoslovakia. Wait a minute, let me find the text. Ah, here it is, page 48. FDR cabled: "I fully share your hope and belief that there exists today the greatest opportunity in years for the establishment of a new order based on peace and law." Both men, of course, found out soon enough that their hopes were ill-founded.)

Hard Bargain was originally published 1995. The 1999 edition was issued with a new preface on "Clinton and the Bombing in Kosovo."

More on the author: 'Bad News' is an August 21, 2001, NewsHour transcript of a discussion by Robert Shogan, Richard Reeves and Terrence Smith about how well the media covered the 2000 elections in the United States, which used Shogan's ninth book Bad News: Where the Press Goes Wrong in the Making of the President as its starting point.

Little One Sweet Poster Series

Here's a poster showing "The first nine months - watch me grow!" Each panel is also available as a separate poster. They are currently available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Latvian and Polish.

The posters were designed to be used in the Spiritual Adoption program at the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Archdiocese has examples of ways the posters are being used.

Panel makes own changes in Air Guard - The Washington Times

Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press notes that the base-closing commission has taken Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's restructuring proposal as a starting point but has "shuffled personnel and aircraft as they saw fit." Among other things the commission has voted to keep Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota open. (I have South Dakota ties, so this makes me happy.) Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico also got a vote to stay open - but without its aircraft and with an eye toward closure in 2010 unless the Pentagon finds a new mission for it.

This isn't over. According to Sidoti, the panel must send its final report to President Bush by September 8. He can go any of three ways: accept, reject, or send it back for revisions. Then Congress gets a shot at vetoing the plan in its entirety, if it feels like it. Then, once we get a plan, there's about six years of changes in store as the plan gets put into effect.


Telegraph | News | Chariots of Fire hero honoured in homeland - China

From August 18, 2005, by reporter Richard Spencer, the amazing story of a Chinese tribute to a man many of us learned about from a movie, the Scotsman Eric Liddell.

Earlier this month, to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the internment camp where he died, Chinese officials participated in laying a wreath at his grave. Spencer also provides the story of what happened to Liddell after the 1924 Olympics - where he became famous for not running his best distance because the heats were on a Sunday. (As Spencer explains, Liddell later moderated his views about sports on Sunday, when he began working with teens who were getting into trouble when they didn't think they had enough to do.)

Another nice thing about the Chinese ceremony? Fireworks exploded into parachutes, representing the American servicemen who jumped from a B24 to liberate the camp on August 17, 1945. Thank you, city of Weifang, China, for honoring some of my countrymen like that.

Friday, August 26, 2005

In Florida, a Big Developer Is Counting on Rural Chic - New York Times

Abby Goodnough reports that, in Florida at least, there's a push for a concept called "new ruralism," as opposed to "new urbanism."

hat tip: lengilroy

Let's not get it confused with D.C...

From "This Week in State and Local History" at, a website devoted to Washington state history, an excerpt (emphasis mine):
August 26 marks the 85th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted America's women the right to vote. Washington women had achieved this a decade earlier -- but not without a long struggle dating back to the Territory's first legislature. Speaking of which, agitation for the separation of Washington from Oregon formally began on August 29, 1851, with a little gathering at Cowlitz Landing. It climaxed three years later, but only after Congress changed the new territory's proposed name of "Columbia" to Washington in order to, we kid you not, avoid confusion with the District of Columbia.
They must be kidding. I don't care what they say, they must be joking.

Hmmmm. Here's HistoryLink's article with the relevant information (bottom of article). Hmmmm. On Feb. 8, 1853, House Resolution Number 348 to create Columbia Territory passed out of committee and onto the House floor for debate. During debate, Rep. Richard H. Stanton of Kentucky proposed the name change, to prevent confusion and to honor "The Father of the Country." The House redrew the boundaries, tripled the size of the territory, and passed the bill, with the name change, on Feb. 10. On March 2 the Senate passed what it needed to pass and sent the matter to the President, who also agreed to the plan.

Eek. How could they see that "Columbia" would be confusing (which it would have been), but not understand that "Washington" would be worse, if anything?

All right, perhaps we can agree that those politicians didn't quite think things through as well as they might have. What's the excuse for the folks in power when it came time for statehood? States don't have to have the same names as the territories that preceded them, do they? Surely by November 11, 1889, the downsides to having a state and a national capital with the same name were becoming obvious?

Katherine Kersten: The big picture in Iraq tells quite a different story

Star Tribune (Minnesota) columnist Katherine Kersten steps back and takes a look at the bigger picture in Iraq, as well as at the way the 'major media' is covering the war.

hat tip: The Anchoress

Jack Kelly: Unspinning the NY Times military mendacity

Let me see if I have this straight? Colonel Thomas Spoehr told a New York Times reporter about some amazing improvements in body armor for our troops - and the reporter decided that the story wasn't that we'd found ways to improve the vests to defend against a potential threat before it emerged and were cranking out the improved versions in record time (the specs were set in January, and delivery began in March!)? NY Times reporter Michael Moss decided the story was that not all troops had the newest vests yet?? That not everything is proceeding perfectly?? That's the news??

Jack Kelly, writing at Jewish World Review, has what the New York Times missed. Amazing stuff.

It gets worse. I've just looked at the New York Times article from August 14. (Printer-friendly version here.) (Regular version here.) Mr. Moss thought it a good idea to not only moan about imperfection, but to publicize where the bottlenecks are in the production process and to note which companies make the special fiber needed for the vests, etc. Sheesh. Maybe he'd like to go paint a target on a building or something, so the bad guys don't waste their time trying to guess where they can do the most damage with the least effort.

hat tip: Bookworm Room

Semicolon : Historical Fiction for Young Ladies, Part 1

Sherry at the Semicolon blog has put together a list of books she recommends for young ladies between the ages of ten and twenty who are interested in American history.

Giant Pandas - National Zoo| FONZ

The National Zoo has a Panda Cam so you can watch the panda cub -- when the system isn't maxed out. (I haven't managed to get through yet, but a friend of mine who viewed yesterday assures me it's great fun.) The title link will take you to the Giant Panda page at the zoo's website, which has general information and a journal as well as the cam. The big news today is that the panda cub's eyes are now open - as of yesterday afternoon, to be more precise - but there have been no obvious behavioral changes yet.

National Public Radio (NPR) has several related stories. Panda Cam Panders to Panda Fans by Kitty Eisele has the title story, plus links to previous stories and web resources. (For the record, I think that the headline stretches the meaning of "pander" just a weeeee bit. I can't see that liking to watch pandas is a weakness, a vice, or vulgar -- and according to the two dictionaries I just consulted, one American and one British, you have to be encouraging or exploiting a weakness or vice or sordid tastes to "pander." In case you didn't know.)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Aerodrome

For history, aviation and military buffs, here are book lists and book reviews of WWI-related books. The Aerodrome website itself has information on aces and aircraft, medals, and more.

A Constrained Vision: A Conflict of Visions in 60 seconds

Ah, so that's what "A Contrained Vision" means...

And, more importantly, the post explains the difference between two world views that are bumping heads with each other in America right now, as put forth in the following book:

Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles
Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles - Justice Breyer Takes 'Originalists' to Task In a New Book

Jess Bravin, staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal, takes a look at the book by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, set to be released in September.

Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution
Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution

ACLU vs America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values - by Alan E. Sears and Craig Osten

The title-linked website provides information about the following book and has a sample chapter you can read in pdf.

The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values
The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values

OpinionJournal - What a Gas! (But Hawaii isn't laughing.)

Hawaii is planning to implement price caps on gasoline September 1. Expect prices to go up. Malia Zimmerman explains.

Book review: A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! by Harry Harrison

Some books don't fall comfortably into genres, and A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! by Harry Harrison (Tor/ Pinnacle, New York, c. 1972) is one of those. It was marketed as science fiction, which it is - in the early, true sense of the term, which is to say that much of it is based on solid science, with mind-stretching guesses about the possibilities of technology not yet invented. But it's also an alternate history book, and a rip-roaring adventure book, with sometimes drop-down-funny jabs at popular culture in the 1960s and 1970s, but with sad and solemn places, too. And, oh, yeah, there's a romance woven in as well, from the guy's point of view.

In short, although fans of classic science fiction might like it, I suspect that many people who wouldn't be caught dead in the sf/fantasy section of a bookstore would like it, too.

Harrison takes a world in which a shepherd who (in our world) saved the day at a key battle between Muslim and Christian armies back in 1212 got captured, tortured and killed instead. As a result, the Muslim troops won the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa and went on to capture the Iberian peninsula. From here the world's history veers - or, rather, some of it does.

Harrison starts us off in this familiar-yet-strange world in 1973 and carries us through many years, everything a bit off-kilter. There are atomic subs, but their courses are charted by "Brabbage engines" [sic] (see: Charles Babbage). There are telephones, but not the design we know. The rich show off by driving massive steam vehicles down gas-lit streets. England colonized the New World, but it wasn't in the wake of Christopher Columbus or the Conquistadors (if Spain doesn't arise, neither does Spanish-sponsored exploration or colonization), so the relations with the Indians are different. And so on and so on.

In this world, the American colonists lost the Battle of Lexington, and George Washington was shot by a firing squad for treason. All these years later, Augustine Washington is trying to restore the family name, and therein lies the main plot.

Gus (as he is known to his friends) intends, in fact, to restore his family name and make America proud of itself at the same time. While other former colonies have gained their independence from England, America is still colonial, and it rankles. His pathway to personal and national honor is as an engineer. Not just any engineer, though. He's going to help design and build a train tunnel under the Atlantic. He is faced not only with technical obstacles to overcome, but political and financial ones as well, as well as the occasional spot of sabotage and several would-be assassins. This is not to mention that he is up against just about the world's most cantankerous and stubborn potential father-in-law.

It's an odd book - sort of Jules Verne meets Dick Tracy meets David McCullough meets James Bond meets NASA meets British sit-coms meets Victoria Holt meets Agatha Christie meets MacGyver - with wild and abrupt changes of pace and style. Even given the occasional bout of mental whiplash, overall I had a blast reading it. I guess I should note that I really enjoyed the history and technology inside jokes and the Baby Boomer inside jokes: it's a good read for Baby Boomer geeks, in other words. But, then too, it's got some just plain wild adventure, that might carry the day for teen boys just hoping for action. And it's almost entirely clean fun, too. (Yay!) There's some violence and several deaths (industrial accidents as well as hand to hand combat), but the bad stuff is kept reined in remarkably well, especially given that many of the characters are navvies and much of the action takes place in isolated but bustling seaports and given all those would-be saboteurs and assassins running around.

According to this Harry Harrison bibliography, this book was also sold under the title Tunnel Through the Deeps. It's out of print now, but there are still some used copies floating around for sale. My Tor paperback copy (second printing, September 1981) suffers from a significant number of typos, which was annoying. I have no idea if other printings had better proofreading, but I hope so.

But even with the typos, it was an unusual and intriguing read. I mean, hey, how many times are you going to find an engineer portrayed fictionally as dashing, brave, formidable and heroic as well as smarter, more loyal, and better-mannered than the average fellow? Gus Washington is a guy it's fun to root for.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Murdoc Online: 15 years ago - Saddam and the kids

Oh, my. I was browsing on Murdoc Online, and came across this, and gasped. I wasn't prepared to have that incident hit me in the face again. Has it been fifteen years? Mercy. I was so scared for that child...and so amazed that Saddam Hussein acted like he thought he was being benevolent. Yikes.

Liberty and Lily: Jan Karon is coming!

Donna-Jean and her friends at Chapel on the Hill in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, are huge fans of the Mitford series by Jan Karon. They are sending out whoops of joy that the author will kick off her book tour for her next book in November at an event sponsored by their church (but put on at the larger Brookfield Baptist Church in Bloomfield, New Jersey). More here, here, here, and here.

This next book is the last in the Mitford series. Sort of. Jan Karon is already working on a new series, called The Father Tim Novels, which of course will be related to the Mitford books. Too fun.

Light from Heaven
Light from Heaven

If anybody reading this is involved in an upcoming book-related event of a "suitable for mixed company" variety, drop a note in the comments on how to get more information. I love helping to publicize stuff like this.

Fashioning a response to immodest clothing

Rebecca Hagelin's column Fashioning a response to immodest clothing notes that lots and lots of people are fighting to find modest clothing - and finding it. So don't feel alone, and don't give up.

Hagelin says that when a girl comes to her home wearing immodest clothing, she tells them that when they are in her home she wants them to dress in a way that reflects the treasure they are - and then she lets the girl pick out clothes to wear while she's there. Hagelin says they might gasp at first - but then they get it. (Don't laugh. I've seen this work.)

And, a bonus. Girls who switch to dressing with self-respect have the fun of seeing a difference, an improvement, in the way men and boys treat them. (I know. I know. This is so basic it's not funny. But somehow along the way we've raised a lot of girls and women who never got the memo. Obviously.)

Hat tip to Colleen Hammond.

The communion of souls - Detroit Free Press

A big thanks to Rosalind for the tip to check out The communion of souls, an August 14, 2005, feature article written by Jeff Seidel for the Detroit Free Press. The subhead is "Flourishing convent creates a unique spirit in the woods of Washtenaw County."

Rosalind says she's written a note of appreciation to the author, and I think I'll follow suit, with maybe a note to the editor. It's so nice to see a newspaper run a story like this. (This is not to mention that the story itself is full of good news.)

Seraphic Secret: Not Popping the Question

This post is about being a guy who has no idea how to ask the lady he loves if she'll marry him, and pretty much only having the movies for role models. This seems to be a common problem (oh, man, is this a common problem, from what I've seen). A wonderful post.

Hat tip to Danny Carlton for steering me to Robert J. Avrech's blog.

Daddypundit: Savoring Small Town America

Daddypundit has discovered that venturing off the main highways now and then has its rewards. He shares some of this summer's favorite finds.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mommy Life: Labeled disabled - Magnificent Mom

Judy Ann Squier is a lady you might like to meet, I think. She was born without legs, for all intents and purposes, and her story, as shared with Barbara Curtis on Barbara's blog, is a tribute to hope, faith, perserverance.

I get the feeling the day of my birth was not a celebration.

No one ever said, but I have a hunch my birth announcement had an invisible PS that everyone could see, In lieu of balloons: Bring a hankie.

My midnight arrival was like a cold shower to the unsuspecting obstetrician. With no prepared speech for such a tragedy he blurted out, "Your daughter is going to live I am sorry to say." Thats what my dad recollects.
One more thing: I recognize that God has given me a voice for the endangered species - babies in utero with birth defects - the ones targeted for a medical abortion because they will never have a quality life. I welcome any and all opportunites to challenge that misconception with stories from the life of Judy Ann.
Thank goodness she was blessed with a mother who saw her as a daughter - not as an embarrassment or, worse yet, some sort of commodity that was subject to quality control measures, if I can put it like that.

Technical tidbits: Or, Thank you, Blogger

Sometimes it pays to read the instructions. Under my "dashboard" at Blogger (sort of command central for my blog), there was a box in which it asked if I wanted to require word verification for comments, to prevent comment spam. Having recently been discovered by spammers, I was primed. Tah dah. Piece of cake. A couple-three clicks later, I now have spam protection. I apologize to non-spammers for the extra five seconds it will take you to leave a comment, but, honestly, it looks like a simple solution to an obvious annoyance. Anyone who has Blogger can install this feature by going to "settings" and then to "comments."

For another bit of Blogger technical savvy, see What is the "Flag" button? for an explanation of that little "Flag?" box up in the navigation bar.

Update: I've been playing with the new "word verification" feature in comments, and I've stumbled across one potential problem. Once (just once, so far) I wasn't quite sure what the letters were I was supposed to type (they were a little too run-together and wavy, as it happened). One easy solution for that is to back out and try again because the program generates a new password each time. Let me know if you have any problems with this.

AM - Sydney to host 2008 Catholic World Youth Day

The title link goes to Tony Eastley's "AM" radio show announcement to Australians that World Youth Day 2008 will be held in Sydney. David Marks is the segment reporter. Both transcript and audio are available.

The Australian: Aussie values for Muslim schools [August 24, 2005]

Samantha Maiden and Caroline Overington, writing in The Australian, report that Islamic schools are being encouraged (by leaders at John Howard's terrorism summit) to denounce terrorism, expand courses to train Australian imams, and find better ways to integrate their students into Australian culture.

And, of course, the reporters also found some people who, kneejerk fashion, were offended. (Sigh.)

Update: Kimworld article - The New Yorker

Author Bradley K. Martin is coming out swinging on what he says is a serious misrepresentation of his book Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty (St. Martin's; October 2004) by reviewer Ian Buruma in the New Yorker.

Please see the update at my previous post for Martin's comments, including the text of his demand for a correction in The New Yorker. He makes a persuasive case, I have to say.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A guy who knows how to get up, dust off, and keep going

My thanks to Bookworm Room for alerting me to this post about Specialist Peter Sprenger, one gritty, determined guy. He's not letting his serious injuries from a car bomb in Iraq keep him down. For that matter, he's not letting the injuries keep him out of active duty.

One Simple Rate - Steve Forbes - OpinionJournal

Steve Forbes explains why he wants to see the United States move to a flat tax on income, and lays out his suggestions on a few of the details. His book on the same subject, Flat Tax Revolution, came out this summer, if you'd like a more in-depth look.

Flat Tax Revolution: Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS
Flat Tax Revolution: Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS

Customer favorites, now in mass market

Just so you know, several books in the Mitford series by Jan Karon are now available in mass market paperback editions. For instance:

A New Song
A New Song

And, also just so you know, the following is also now available in mass market:

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Both series have sold great guns in trade paperback, to the surprise of a number of people (who thought the larger format and higher price - not to mention the reputation of trade paperbacks for being niche market publications - would drive away just all sorts of potential customers).

Alaska's Sherpa Crews Tackle Desert Duties - DefendAmerica News Article

I told a friend of mine who usually has more military knowledge than myself that I'd heard that the National Guard from Alaska was flying something called a Sherpa in Iraq, and he broke out laughing. 'Naw,' he said. 'No way. That's not a plane, that's a toy...'

Some toy. In the hands of the bush pilots in the Alaskan National Guard on Iraq rotation, it's moving a lot of cargo and troops. U.S. Army Master Sgt. Lek Mateo reports.

And what's a Sherpa? Well, a modified Shorts regional airliner, apparently. See here, here, and here for some basics.

Robert Moog Obituary - Times Online

I'm old enough to remember when the Moog synthesizer's arrival turned the music world on its ear. Its inventor, Robert Moog, has died of cancer at age 71. His family maintains a page with a guest book here, in case you have pleasant memories to share or kind words to say to his survivors.

As I remember it, my friends and my brothers and I had sometimes-long, sometimes-heated discussions on whether "synthetic music" was good or bad - but at the same time we couldn't wait to get our hands on a Moog and dreamed of owning one of our very own...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

MONIALES OP ~ Dominican Nuns : Create a clean heart...

But wash your eyes and spirit out with this. Some Dominican nuns have found a United States company that still manufactures washboards, and they are delighted to have been able to buy a new one to replace the ones they'd worn out keeping their white habits white. (See post here.) The Columbus Washboard Co. has bowed to the times and makes musical washboards and decorative washboards, too, but it still makes working washboards - and has a special program to provide soldiers with washboards and cleaning supplies.

Roundabout hat tip to Open Book, which led me to the nuns' blog.

The New Yorker: The Critics: Books : Kimworld

Ian Buruma reviews Bradley K. Martin's Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty (St. Martin's; October 2004) and Jasper Becker's Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea (Oxford; also October 2004), and discusses North Korea -- past, present and future. (Fair warning: the review contains some material not suitable for younger readers or gentlepersons -- as you might expect of any frank discussion of contemporary Korea and its twisted and ruthless rulers. But it contains some useful background on the very ugly, very dangerous situation there.)

Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty
Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty

Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea (image not available from Barnes & Noble at post time)

Of the two books, Buruma finds Becker's assessment more intelligent.

As Buruma notes, Becker is also the author of Hungry Ghosts (Henry Holt, 1998), about Mao's man-made famine in China.

Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine
Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine

hat tip: Don Boudreaux at the Cafe Hayek blog.

UPDATE: Author Bradley K. Martin feels he was misrepresented in the New Yorker review. He left the following in the comments section, but I didn't feel it would be fair to leave it to chance that people would check out the comments section on something this substantial. So:

Whether because of his ideological preference for Becker's approach or for some other reason that I don't know about, Buruma falsified the thrust of my book by misquoting me. I have sent the following letter to The New Yorker demanding a correction, and am awaiting satisfaction:

Ian Buruma repeatedly plays fast and loose with quotations in assembling his malevolently creative summary of “Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader” (“Kimworld,” August 22). Several such instances seem to involve a disgraceful effort to gin up evidence backing his theme of gullibility among foreign observers with whose views he differs. To imply that I saw the rulers’ charisma as somehow offsetting evil deeds, he lifts a phrase, “there might be two sides to the story,” from my argument against unnecessary demonization of Kim Jong Il. This he mendaciously juxtaposes with a remark about Kim Il Sung’s personal magnetism, which appeared nearly 500 pages earlier in the context of the elder Kim’s pursuit of women. So that he can cluck that it is “naïve” not to realize that a “warm handshake will not explain why an entire people submitted,” he deceptively paraphrases the middle of a sentence in which I wrote that Kim Il Sung’s engaging presence was one factor that inspired loyalty. Deleting “one,” so that this appears to be the only factor, he ignores my chapter-length exploration of other factors including the biggest, the indoctrination system. As for Buruma’s suggestion that I struggled too hard for “balance” (the quotation marks are his) in evaluating the Kims’ regime, I actually wrote, “There was precious little on the positive side of the ledger page to balance the horrors” of the gulag. Ultimately Buruma, objecting to my refusal to frame the history of North Korea as a simple morality tale, seeks to portray me as a pushover for smooth-talking despots. Nothing doing, Ian. Pointing out the danger of being taken in by a Great Schmoozer, I observed of the Japanese politician Shin Kanemaru that Kim Il Sung “charmed his pants off.”

Buruma also distorts my reference to Andrew Holloway’s description of Pyongyang residents’ kindness and modesty, leaving readers to imagine that Holloway’s was a recent observation. That enables the reviewer to offer a glib contradiction—although in fact, as I noted, Holloway lived in Pyongyang almost two decades ago. In the very next paragraph I wrote that the subsequent famine severely tested North Koreans’ altruism, and in a later chapter I wrote that by the late 1990s their “fierce struggle for survival” required them to replace collectivist morality with self-interest. At Louisiana State University I’ve been teaching students that writers who refuse to let the facts get in the way of a good story are the bane of the journalistic trade. Buruma could do with matriculation, but I imagine he’ll have to pay out-of-state tuition. In any case, I want a correction.

Bradley K. Martin

Nagano, Japan

Friday, August 19, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Climate change sceptics bet $10,000 on cooler world

Dave Adam reports that two Russian physicists, Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev, are betting $10,000 that the planet will actually cool over the next decade. Taking the other side of the wager is British "climate expert" James Annan. The Russians are betting on a reduction in sunspots. - Paperback publishers put premium on size

I just had a copy of the new Clive Cussler paperback in my hand, which would be neither here nor there except it's the first book I've seen in the new "premium" paperback format: taller pages, slightly larger type, more space between lines. At first glance, I think the new format looks cool on the outside (I like the proportions), and is easier to read than the standard paperback on the inside (very nice for my middle-aged eyes, thanks.) The downside? The suggested retail price is $9.99, up a bit from the standard mass market paperback price (but less than most trade paperbacks).

Book sizes have grown and shrunk and shifted through the years, and most older paperbacks used to be slightly taller than more recent offerings, so this is more or less a swing of the pendulum I guess.

Luckily, all our shelves both at home and at the store ought to handle the new format side by side with the standard mass market format without any problem. (A few years ago we had to redo the layout of our bookstore because new hardbacks got too tall for our previously-standard shelving. If anybody wonders why most of our hardbacks are on top of the shelves, that's why. It was either that or buy new shelves...)

Lost City: A Kurt Austin Adventure
Lost City: A Kurt Austin Adventure

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Charis Connection

Blog discovery. Charis Connection is a group blog by Christian novelists. Currently on board: James Scott Bell, Jack Cavanaugh, Brandilyn Collins, Athol Dickson, Robin Lee Hatcher, Patricia Hickman, Liz Curtis Higgs, BJ Hoff, Angela Hunt, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Dave Lambert, Deborah Raney, and Lisa Sampson.

Hat tip: Cindy Swanson at the notes in the key of life blog.

James J. Metcalfe, Gangbuster and Poet

Every once in a while I stumble across a used book that makes me think that I missed some entire chapter of American history while I wasn't looking. Yesterday evening I had that feeling again. I ran across a book called More Poem Portraits by James J. Metcalfe (Garden City Books, Garden City, New York, 1951). So far, so good. I thumb through. The poems are wonderful - everyday life, great attitudes, terrific rhythm, normal people, humor, longing, faith, love. No one will mistake them for the overwrought artiste type of poem more often taught in college but I don't care. I love this sort of verse. I flip to the Foreword, hoping to find out more about the poet.
Author of the popular books, Poem Portraits, Garden In My Heart, and Poems for Children, James J. Metcalfe now offers his readers this new collection of verse from his daily newspaper column, syndicated throughout the United States, and in Canada, Mexico, and Ireland.
This guy was internationally known? I start to feel silly that I don't know him already.
His philosophical lines stem from the rich and wide experiences of his forty-five years, including the dangerous days of his gangbusting for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, his exciting expose of the German and German-American Bunds for the Chicago Times, and other phases of his colorful career as a journalist...
That does it. Any guy who can stare down gangs and Nazis and still maintain a charming outlook on life is my kind of guy. This is the kind of guy (if this description is right) to whom I would erect a statue if I were in charge of erecting statues. This is an American par excellence, in other words.

Oh, wait. Down the Foreword a ways, after saying that his verse is inspired by his wife Lillian and their three children -- the oldest of whom left college at age seventeen to join the Navy (on second thought, maybe we should put up a statue of the whole family?) -- after saying that his rhymes are based on his "typical American home life" with his wife and their children, comes this:
Jim Metcalfe, who was born in Berlin, Germany, and Lillian, a native of Stavanger, Norway, met at a high school dance in Chicago. For some years now the Metcalfes have been making their home in Dallas, Texas.
That does it. Immigrants make good. The best of America, personified. I am really embarrassed to not have known about him before this. I'd love to hear from anyone older than myself who was a fan back when.

There's more. The Foreword concludes by saying that the poet's fan mail pours in when he writes poems about love - and that despite his international acclaim he is humble and grateful to God for blessing him with his ability to write.

Add him to my Great Americans list. Out here in the West some of us still adore the ability to say "Aw, gee shucks -- I'm just a lucky guy with a lot of blessings, that's all" and mean it. I know I do.

Skipping around the Internet looking for more I find this, which has some information and a link to this, which tells me that Metcalfe Aid International, Inc. was founded in his memory in 2000 to help needy people all over the world.

(Oh, sure. I not only didn't know about a colorful bit of mid-20th century American culture, but I've missed something that's happened in the 2000s, too? Am I out of touch or what?)

Oh, good. That website's home page lets me know that nine books of Metcalfe's Poem Portraits will be available soon. (So I'm not the only one who thinks that people today would enjoy his work? How about that? So I didn't miss all the boats, apparently.) Some of his poems are available to read on the website. Too fun.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Market Watch: Nancy Reagan: A Special Kind of Love, by Roger Elwood

Whoa! I checked the market price on Nancy Reagan: A Different Kind of Love by Roger Elwood (Pocket Books, 1976) yesterday and couldn't believe my eyes: $35 to $75, with a small clump at $40. I tried searching with fewer and fewer search words, trying to turn up some listing error and therefore turn up more copies. No dice. Just a handful of copies on the market, and all of them expensive. Today, I took another peek, just to double-check the data. Same thing - except the $75 copy is gone from all but one website.

Many booksellers (ourselves included) sell through more than one retailer website (Amazon and Alibris and Biblio and and Barnes & Noble, for instance), and each selling site has different lag times between when you send in a 'sold' notice and they get the listing delisted, so my guess is that that copy is sold, and just isn't out of inventory lists everywhere yet. Yikes. Seventy-five bucks. (And yes, very often the more expensive copies go before the lower priced copies, if they are in better condition or are being offered by a bookseller the buyer knows and trusts.)

Used book prices are notoriously changeable. By tomorrow (or next week, or next year) there might be a flood of copies brought to market which will tend to push the price down, or we might see the market shrink to two copies that might soar in price. You never know in this business. (Which is why it's so interesting.)

Reasoned Audacity: Merchant of Venice and

Charmaine Yoest is on the road with her kids, and wanted to watch a movie, and discovered a website that lets you download movies onto your laptop. She and her kids had a good experience, and she recommends checking out the site.

So I pop over to see if this website has classics - as in those wonderful old black and white movies with wit instead of raunch - or anything else along those lines. Oops. I never get past the welcome screen, which informs me:
Sorry, but as of May 2, 2005, Movielink no longer supports Windows 98 and ME operating systems. Movielink also does not support Mac or Linux.

In order to enjoy the Movielink service, you must use Windows 2000 or XP, which support certain technologies we utilize for downloading movies.
That leaves me out. But you guys with Windows 2000 or XP, feel free to have fun without me ;-)

(I say as I eye my small DVD collection longingly, wondering if I have time for Fiddler on the Roof and/or a Zorro flick today. Or maybe "Sabotage" by Alfred Hitchcock? Have you seen any early Hitchcock films, where he's toying with techniques for which he's famous later on but is still bowing to convention as well going for the occasional cheap laugh? Intriguing stuff, Hitchcock films. But Sabotage? I don't know. Based on Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Agent", it centers on bombings in London. Maybe too close to reality just now... For that matter, Jews being forced from their homes...could I bear to watch Fiddler on the Roof right now? Hmmm.... Zorro! Fighting for the little guy just because you can! Justice! Honor! Fantastic horsemanship! Sly but charming heroes! Truly shiveringly-bad bad guys! Humor here, swordfights there - sometimes humorous sword fights, for that matter... Hmmm...)

Charmaine's post

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

U.S., British Geodetic Surveyors Map Iraq - DefendAmerica News Article

He also serves who pounds reference rods into the ground. From an article by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Chawntain Sloan of the Multinational Corps-Iraq:
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Aug. 15, 2005 — The weight of their body armor combined with the strain of having to lift a jackhammer over their heads makes their arms quiver like jello. Sweat pours down their faces and burns their eyes, but they won’t stop now. They can’t.

One after another, they connect four-foot stainless steel rods together and drive them further below the surface of the earth. Thirteen rods and 52 feet later, the rods refuse to be driven any further.

The engineers assigned to Multinational Corps-Iraq then cover the exposed tip of the rod with a custom access cover and insert a fluorescent orange sign to indicate the location is ready to be surveyed.

The team of U.S. and British Army geodetic surveyors has successfully established another reference point along the road to reconstruction in Iraq, one of many in the first Iraqi Geospatial Reference System that identifies geospatial locations using names or numeric coordinates.


The joint coalition team began working on the project in April, which is modeled on the National Spatial Reference System in the United States.


By the time the project is completed around June 2006, the Iraqi Geospatial Reference System will be comprised of six hubs called Continuously Operating Reference Stations and about 300 different reference points known as High Accuracy Reference Networks that are geographically located throughout Iraq.
Full article

DefenseLINK News: America Supports You: 'Angels in Iraq' Provide Comfort Items

Rudi Williams of American Forces Press Service reports that the American Legion has launched a nationwide campaign to support the "Angels in Iraq" program, which provides troops in combat support hospitals with various personal supplies.

Scouting Program Grows in Iraqi Community - DefendAmerica News Article

How about some good news for a change?
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Iraq, Aug. 15, 2005 — A group of over 100 scouts and adult leaders met in Hasar, Iraq, Aug. 4 to learn cooking, teamwork and other skills from the community’s growing co-ed International Scouting Program.

The fledgling program, known as Kashafa, began July 7 when U.S. soldiers of the 116th Brigade Combat Team’s Task Force 1-148 Field Artillery and leaders from the community of Hasar, Iraq, celebrated a ribbon cutting and inauguration of the program. By that time, leaders had been trained, uniforms distributed to participants and weekly meetings planned.


Working with local leaders to establish community-building programs in the province of Kirkuk is part of the 116th Brigade Combat Team’s mission while deployed in north central Iraq. The unit’s mission also includes assisting Iraq’s new government, supporting economic development, facilitating communications and improving security and stability in the region.
Full article

hat tip: Murdoc Online

Suitably Flip: The Diapered Menace

Some airport screeners don't quite grasp that the "suspected terrorist" watch list doesn't include babies, even if the babies have names similar to those on the no-fly list. Flip at Suitably Flip explains.

Japan Today - U.S. paid Unit 731 members for germ warfare experiment data

Rats. It looks like after World War II the U.S. might have paid Japanese germ warfare experts for data obtained from human experiments conducted in China by the Japanese. Talk about dirty money. Yick.

It appears that Keiichi Tsuneishi, professor at Kanagawa University, has found two declassified documents in the U.S. National Archives that suggest that between 150,000 to 200,000 yen was handed to unnamed members of the unit led by military doctor Shiro Ishii (believed responsible for the deaths of something like 3,000 people - mostly Chinese and Russian as I understand it, as if nationality matters in a case like this). Both documents are from July 1947, and were either compiled or written by Brig. Gen. Charles Willoughby, who headed intelligence unit "G2" of the postwar occupation forces in Japan.

Historians (and others) already knew that the U.S. had offered to drop war crimes charges in exchange for information. But what it looks like now (if I read this correctly) is that after the war crimes charges were waived, the investigators had to turn to offering money, food, gifts and entertainment to entice cooperation from the pathologists.

Sigh. I understand (or think I understand) that every society that survives any length of time has had people running around doing shady things behind the scenes, but that doesn't alter the fact that I'm always quite pleased when the United States comes up with a more civilized and/or honorable and/or aboveboard way of getting the job done, and am always a bit saddened when we sink to the same techniques as less idealistic nations. But wooing folks who had used other human beings as lab rats seems rather worse than the usual techniques, doesn't it? Yuck.

Monday, August 15, 2005 - Judge orders California cleric deported

A federal immigration judge is sending Shabbir Ahmed, 39, back to Pakistan. Ahmed, an imam of a mosque in Lodi, California, was arrested in June for overstaying his visa. More. - Doomed crew's actions puzzle officials

The story of the Helios Airline Flight ZU522 crash near Athens Sunday is definitely in the tangled phase, with not much making sense to experts at this point. I thought it worth noting, though, this bit from the title-linked Associated Press article by Patrick Quinn:
In a related development, police in northern Greece arrested a man who claimed to have received a telephone text message from a passenger. The man — identified as Nektarios-Sotirios Voutas, 32 — told Greek television stations that his cousin on board the plane sent him a cell phone text message minutes before the crash saying: "Farewell, cousin, here we're frozen."

But authorities determined he was lying, and arrested him on charges of dissemination of false information.
Augh. If the police are right, I'm glad they figured it out early like this. "Garbage in, garbage out" applies to crash investigations just like everything else.

IRAQ THE MODEL : A message to Cindy Sheehan

Mohammed at the Iraq the Model blog reaches out to Cindy Sheehan, with a description of what her son died fighting against and fighting for. (His post is not for young eyes or faint hearts, but it's well worth the read for grown-ups, I think. Certainly he brings a different perspective to the table.)

hat tip: Pat in NC at Pawigoview

Michelle Malkin: Newsweek Gives Bush A Chance

Newsweek does a story on President Bush meeting with families of fallen soldiers. Michelle Malkin has excerpts, a recommendation to go read the whole thing, and links to the reactions of other bloggers.

The Globe and Mail: Earthquake rocks Japan; tsunami warning issued

Different sources are showing this as a 6.8 or a 7.0, but info is preliminary at this point.

Update: USGS recent quakes - click on map for specific quake. There are no watches or warnings in effect for Alaska to California.

Update: This quake is roughly 220 miles NNE of Tokyo, 100 miles SSE of Morioka (Honshu, Japan), 85 miles ENE of Fukushima (Honshu, Japan), and 50 miles ENE of Sendai (Honshu, Japan). I spent part of 1984 in this area, visiting a friend who was teaching English in a private school there. When I moved into the apartment where I lived for the duration, all the doors in the building closed and opened all right. By the time I left, earthquakes had shoved the building out of square and we could no longer use the closets or completely shut off the bedroom from the living room. And that was just a little quake compared to this one. It's funny how personal it is when a quake hits somewhere you've been, especially somewhere you've been and liked.

Update: CNN reports. The tsunami might be a no-go, with an ocean wave of about 20 inches reported but nothing more than that, at least at this point. There are injuries and damage reported at Sendai, where a roof collapsed at an indoor swimming facility, and subways and trains are shut down.

Update: The USGS is now listing the quake at 7.2, with an epicenter 60 miles E of Sendai, 90 miles ENE of Fukushima, 100 miles NE of Iwaki, and 220 miles NE of Tokyo.

Update: ABC News Online (Australia) has more information.

Cafe Hayek: Another Self-Indulgent List

Don Boudreaux lists ten books he thinks he should have read by now, but hasn't.

Don't ask me for my list. My home is full of books I should have read by now, but haven't...

I like his list though. Serious stuff.

Casa Elian immortalizes boy's short U.S. stay - The Washington Times

Larry Luxner, writing for The Washington Times, reports that the Miami home in which little Elian Gonzales lived in Miami before his forced return to Cuba in 2000 has been kept open to the public, as something of a shrine. His relatives maintain it at their own expense.

I saw Elian Gonzales on television not long ago, in the spotlight at some graduation ceremony, standing at a microphone and spouting that he and his friends were the future of communism, while Fidel Castro himself beamed encouragement at the child.

Castro uses the boy as a poster child rather too often for me. I wonder sometimes how the agents sent in to rip Elian from the arms of his relatives in Florida feel these days about what they did. I wonder sometimes if Bill Clinton and Janet Reno ever kick chairs behind closed doors over how things turned out, or just shrug and let it go?

A Literary Guide to Britain's Terrorists

Helen Rumbelow, writing for the Washington Post, looks at specific short stories and novels written in the last decade or so by second-generation immigrants in Britain and, in hindsight, sees some warning signs. Rumbelow is a reporter for the Times of London, which ran a shorter version of this article last month.

hat tip: Marc at American Future

American Future : New url

Blogosphere update: Marc Schulman has moved his American Future blog from here to here. He's asking for quality control checks. If you have a problem viewing the new site, let him know, please, so he can get the glitches (if any) ironed out as quickly as possible.

A Constrained Vision: No Shame in My Game

Katie at the A Constrained Vision blog reviews - and recommends - No Shame in My Game by Katherine S. Newman, which is based upon eighteen months of studying the daily lives, attitudes and values of more than 200 low-wage workers in Harlem.

Katie would like to find more good books like this - any recommendations, anybody? (Go here for her post and to leave comments for her.)

No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City
No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City

Friday, August 12, 2005

Stirring up a cold case - Morgan Nick - Missing Child

Ten years ago June 9, a little girl in Arkansas was walking to her mom's car after chasing fireflies after a Little League game. Six-year-old Morgan Nick stopped to take care of some sand in her shoe. Her Mom got in the car to turn on the air conditioning - when she looked to check on her daughter, the little girl had vanished. There has been no word of her since.

Alma, Arkansas, cops are making another push on this case. They've released an age-enhanced picture of what Morgan might look like at age 16, and a composite sketch of a suspicious man who was seen in the area around that time. (Of course, there's no way of knowing if he's the kidnapper. Keep your mind open.)

If anyone knows what has happened to Morgan, the good folks of Alma need to hear from you.

America's Most Wanted, which has a section devoted to missing children, has more here, including pictures.

Morgan's mother, Colleen Nick, started the Morgan Nick Foundation to help find missing children, reduce the number of abductions (by educating families and children), to serve as a support team for families of missing children, and to help law enforcement. For more information specifically on Morgan's case, see Morgan's Story.

Settlement: Historical American documents can be taught in Cupertino schools - Alliance Defense Fund

Thank goodness. The Cupertino, California, school kerfuffle has been settled, with the school district agreeing that their school policy lets teachers use historical handouts that have religious content, like the Declaration of Independence. I think the Alliance Defense Fund has done great work, but I was concerned that this time they might (just possibly) have been running with a somewhat iffy case. See Naomi Schaeffer Riley: Faith and the Fifth Grade for the source of my unease regarding whether this was a case that ought to have been pressed as hard and as loud as it was. At any rate, I suspect a few folks blew it way out of proportion.

In any case, the policy is now in writing and the case is closed. From The Alliance Defense Fund :
The settlement agreement puts in writing district policy that "allows teachers, no matter what their religious beliefs, to use appropriate educational material (including supplemental handouts of historical significance) during instructional time that has religious content" and also allows teachers "to teach students during instructional time about matters involving religion" so long as the content is compliant with district-prescribed curriculum and is not used to influence a student's religious beliefs.
Sounds healthy and reasonable to me.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ohio Supreme Court Protects Homes From Eminent Domain Destruction

A developer wanted to bulldoze homes while the owners were still appealing the eminent domain seizure in court. This week, the Ohio Supreme Court said not so fast. More.

Trying to have it both ways, radical cleric style.

Robert at the Expat Yank blog is following the strange and outrageous saga of the extremist Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed - who has said that he wouldn't warn police if he knew of an upcoming suicide bombing, but simultaneously wants to travel from Lebanon to London for angioplasty at British taxpayer expense. After that news came out - prompting a healthy public outcry - word came that Bakri was picked up on his way to a television interview and is being detained in Lebanon. Robert is good at updates and follow-up posts, if you'd like to see how all this turns out.

EUbusiness - French retailer group decries EU Chinese textile quotas

Major chain stores in France are trying to figure out how to survive an EU turnabout on quotas on Chinese textiles, which has locked up clothing they ordered eight to ten months ago for this fall and winter. French trade minister Francois Loos, however, is defending the retroactive quotas, and telling retailers that they should solve their woes by finding new suppliers in the Mediterranean area. Overnight, apparently.
French trade minister Francois Loos defended the restrictions and challenged retailers to find suppliers in the Mediterranean region in Europe.

"This is evidence that the measures from the European Union on the initiative of France are effective," he told AFP.

"They are causing problems for retailers and I invite them to look towards companies in the euro-Mediterranean area.
Nice guy.

Even if the stores could find suppliers that could manufacture a fresh line of clothes and fit them with the department store labels, etc., and deliver them in the next week or two or three (an impossible task, surely) with what does M. Loos suggest French retailers pay for the replacement stock? They've got substantial money tied up in the clothing they planned on stocking, after all.

France isn't the only EU country with this particular problem. See full article for more.

Previous post: Fashion clothes for millions stranded in harbour stocks

Pop culture heroes help recruit priests -The Washington Times

Julia Duin, reporter for the Washington Times, has the story behind this poster.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Burr in the Burgh: Dinner With History

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer has a poll up that asks "If you could have dinner with one of the following famous people from history, which would you choose?" And then there is a list of fifteen very different famous people, from Rita Hayworth to Martin Luther, Andy Warhol to George Patton. Fun. (Use the title link to reach his blog, then scroll down the righthand sidebar.)

Update: He is also hosting what has turned into a discussion on the greatest movie Westerns of all time, if that's a genre you know and enjoy.

Balancing democracy, market economy

Columnist Carlos Alberto Mantaner writes that a reason that people in Latin America think the capitalist system is behind most of the woes of the world is because they have had bad experiences with something called capitalism that isn't. For that matter, they also misunderstand democracy, he says. He outlines a way forward.

hat tip: Josue Sierra at Latino Issues blog.

Overcoming addiction, step by step; and a related essay

Ignoring the specialists who claimed that drug addiction is a disease, some folks back in the 1960s set about learning what motivates drug addicts to inch their way toward recovery, using B. F. Skinner's work as a starting place. Since then, researchers have been looking at what works and what doesn't. In 2002, New York City started the modern version of "contingency management" (also called "motivational incentives") programs in seven of the city's addiction clinics. So far, so good, and the program is being extended to more and more clinics, both in New York and beyond, according to "Overcoming addiction, step by step" by Kristine Kelly for The RU Scientist Newsletter, published online by Rockefeller University.

As an aside, I'm glad it's working, but I have to wonder why it has taken so long and so much research and so much jargon to learn how to do what millions of parents and teachers do on a day-to-day basis? That is, notice the small achievements along the way instead of saving all the kudos for reaching grand goals. I think that's more or less what a lot of this seems to boil down to. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Wait. I might know part of the answer to my own question. A wonderful bit of perspective from Jane Jacobs just came to mind. In her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), in the introduction (at least in the edition I read), she noted that much of what was wrong with urban planning was in part due to the fact that earnest and well-meaning planners - good men, you understand, who cared deeply about their cities - had gone to great pains to learn what the sages of urban planning taught about how cities ought to work. The problem was not with the intentions or the lack of professionalism of the planners - it was that the received wisdom they were spending years and years learning wasn't based on how human beings actually interact with each other and their environment. Worse yet, having invested themselves heart and soul into learning this complicated specialty, whenever reality seemed to contradict what they'd learned, the reality usually wound up being shoved aside as a fluke. (Humans will be human, after all.)

Here's my favorite part of the explanation: Jacobs likened urban planning as it stood in her day to the state of medicine in the heyday of bloodletting. No, seriously - and it makes all the sense in the world, as far as I'm concerned, the way she explained it. Bloodletting was based on superstition, but it was bolstered by elaborately learned rituals. People who spent year after year becoming experts in bloodletting, learning just which vein to draw from for which symptoms, among other things, got enmeshed in the handed down fallacies. Bloodletting physicians ridiculed, and sometimes ruined, physicians who dared to point out where draining blood didn't make sense and might even be killing people.

I have a theory, just a hunch, that much of what's wrong with modern culture is that just enough people are invested in some modern variation of bloodletting - truly dangerous stuff - and don't know how to assimilate evidence that contradicts what they've so painstakingly learned about how things ought to work, according to their sages.

We all have blind spots. But those doggone blind spots that we've acquired through earnest effort are especially difficult, I think. At a guess. Yes?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Times Online guest contributors Opinion : Why I am a greenbelt heretic

Gabriel Rozenberg, economics reporter for The Times, proposes that less government planning might result in better results. Take those green belts around London, Birmingham and other big cities, for starters. They sound good, but are they? What are they like, really? What do they do, really? Are they, perhaps, causing blight?

hat tip: Let's Scrap UK Land Use Planning at the Out of Control blog.

Blogosphere Note: The Out of Control blog has moved. Old url. New url.

Three bears make themselves at home near daycare

Children at a daycare in Volusia County, Florida, have to play inside until three black bears that have made themselves at home in the neighborhood are trapped and relocated. (And I thought we had it bad with cougars straying inside residential areas from time to time. No, wait. We do have it bad with cougars that aren't shy about coming to town. Thank goodness our local bears tend to stay in the woods, though. One type of wild beast that can kill people roaming loose is more than enough, thanks.)

For a sensationalized lead-in to the Florida story, see WKMG TV's 3 Bears Terrorize Central Day Care. Excuse me? Terrorize? The bears were eating in the trash cans on the property, the kids thought they were cute and wanted to go pet them. The grown-ups had enough sense to keep the kids inside. The folks who trap bears in live traps have set up a trap and baited it with spoiled meat and Doritos, the story says, and now everyone is waiting until the too-tame bears manage to trap themselves. This is not terrorizing, at least in my book. It's bad, it's worrisome, it must be dealt with, but... (The video isn't quite so over the top, thank goodness.)

Sigh. It's enough of a story by itself, straight up, no embellishments. Why in the world do people feel a need to "punch up" a story like this?

Legion Magazine | History Over Hiroshima

From the August 2005 American Legion magazine, from an article called "History Over Hiroshima" by James V. Carroll, about Enola Gay pilot Col. Paul Tibbets:
Most historians agree that dropping the uranium and plutonium bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki shortened World War II, thereby avoiding an inevitable Allied invasion of Japan and its predicted carnage to both sides. There are historians and ethicists who hold a dissenting opinion, but Japanese aviator Mitsuo Fuchida is not among them.

Fuchida, Tibbets says, approached him at a military reception sometime after the war and said, “I’m Fuchida. Shall we talk about it?”

Apparently recognizing that the American aviator did not understand what he was talking about, Fuchida told Tibbets that he had led the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

“You sure did surprise us,” Tibbets recalls saying.

“What the hell do you think you did to us?” Fuchida replied.

The two war-hardened aviators and survivors chatted a few minutes when Fuchida confided to Tibbets, “You did the right thing to drop the bombs. Japan would have resisted an invasion using every man, woman and child, using sticks and stones if necessary.”

“That would have been a slaughter,” Tibbets says. “I believed at the time, and I believe now, that President Truman made the right call.”
Full article

One Hand Clapping : The Bomb

Donald Sensing at the One Hand Clapping blog has posted on the World War II atomic bombings in Japan, and what led up to the Japanese surrender (it wasn't the bombings directly, he says).

He also suggests that there are two essential books for understanding what happened - Japan's Longest Day, written eight years after the bombings by Japanese historians, and Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire by Richard B. Frank.

Sensing provides some perspective I hadn't quite grasped before this. He also has a link to the text of the initial BBC announcement of the bombing at Nagasaki. Reach his post here.

Sensing links to Amazon in his post. For the Barnes & Noble information on the books, click on the book covers below.

Japan's Longest Day
Japan's Longest Day

Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire

Daily Inklings: Chrenkoff Will be Leaving the Blogosphere

One of the guys who putting blogging on the map is putting his blog behind him. Fashion clothes for millions stranded in harbour stocks

Lisbeth Kirk reports that a WTO textile quota expired at the beginning of the year, so goods shipped from China in response to the free trade option, and then the EU, responding to complaints, imposed fresh quotas on Chinese textiles in June. This has resulted in at least 33 million pieces of clothing being stuck at European and Asian harbors, and has left retailers unable to get their winter collections. EU consumers are being warned clothing prices might go up, and shelves may go empty as early as next month if matters don't get resolved somehow. So now the EU commission in charge of these things is trying to decide whether to ask permission from member states to move some of the 2006 quota forward...


Market Watch: Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

The 1960 Pulitzer fiction award winner Advise and Consent by Allen Drury seems to be dwindling in supply and rising in price at the moment. It's still not what I would call scarce, and there are still a few copies floating around for under ten bucks, but it's definitely shifted compared to the last time I bothered to check, with significantly fewer copies and rather higher prices, even for books in only fair condition. Hmmm. I wonder if this is a fluke or a trend?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Challies Dot Com: The Incremental Nature of Change

Tim Challies recently read Talking About Good and Bad Without Getting Ugly by Paul Chamberlain, and uses the last chapter as the stepping off point for a consideration of the methods used by William Wilberforce to help bring about the abolition of slavery, especially as it compares to common strategies in the current culture wars. (Use title link.)

Embryonic stem cell policy debate round-up

Tony Snow looks at Sen. Frist's stance and says The doctor is out.

Charles Krauthammer thinks Frist is right, but warns Stem cell research without limits is a bad idea.

Tim Chapman at the From the Bleachers blog links to Kansas Senator Sam Brownback's op-ed in which he points out, among other things, that embryonic stem cells haven't led to one promising treatment while adult stem cells have 65 published treatments.

If you missed it before, see also Paul Greenberg's "A Modest Proposal", which discusses how we've been down similar paths before, with, for instance, medical experiments done by the Japanese on prisoners of war "who were going to be worked to death anyway, so why not put them to some scientific use?" Greenberg knows why not. (And I agree with him.)

Ancient Faith Radio: Upcoming author interview - Fr. John David Finley

Ancient Faith Radio, an Orthodox online radio station, will be airing an interview with Fr. John David Finley on August 16, 18, 20, and 22. See the website for times and program notes.

Fr. John's book Sacred Meals talks to the rare art of enjoying meals as a family, and includes "over 140 family recipes - from Southern-style "soul food" and Lenten meals to authentic Mexican cuisine and backyard barbecues."

The New Atlantis - John Paul II and The Ethics of the Body

The New Atlantis asked Eastern Orthodox theologian David B. Hart and Lutheran theologian Robert W. Jensen to comment on the significance of John Paul II's Theology of the Body, with an emphasis on bioethics. Hart's article is The Anti-Theology of the Body. Jenson's article is Reading the Body.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Missoulian: Residents had harrowing night among flames

Rob Chaney of the Missoulian newspaper reports on the wildfires (plural) that attacked the little Montana town of Alberton from three sides this week, during a rash of wildfires that closed down a long stretch of Interstate 90 west of Missoulia. See Residents had harrowing night among flames and Day after, Alberton takes stock.

See also Blazes near Interstate 90 still dangerous, officials warn, by Tristan Scott.

First lines

Sherry at the Semicolon blog has a list of ten great first lines from novels (try to guess before you look at the comments for answers), and she links to other sites that are collecting nominations for great first lines.

I just did a quick look at some of my favorite books on the shelves near my desk, and find that most of the novels I've kept lean toward good first paragraphs or pages, but the first lines themselves aren't anything to stand up and be noticed.

So far the only one that stands out is from Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling (there's no sense asking people to guess that title, even if it is by Kipling). It has both stories and poems. There's a poem and then the first story begins:
The children were at the Theatre, acting to Three Cows as much as they could remember of Midsummer Night's Dream. Their father had made them a small play out of the big Shakespeare one, and they had rehearsed it with him and with their mother till they could say it by heart...
I don't know why, but I like that very much, especially when you combine it with the rest of the first paragraph, which is rich in detail. I have the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics trade paperback edition (ISBN 0140183531), which has helpful end notes that tie the text to history and fable and compare The Strand versions against various other published versions.

Here's an online version, which has the first story all part of the same chapter as the first poem.

National Center for Home Food Preservation

We just got a used freezer yesterday (very big, very cheap; so what if it's not fashionable or pristine?), and I'm on a quest to figure out how to properly freeze just all sorts of things (as well as pointers on what foods just don't freeze well, no matter what you do). The National Center for Home Food Preservation website has tips on that - plus how-tos on canning, curing and smoking, drying, fermenting, pickling, and making jams and jelly.

Here's a counter-intuitive tip from their section on freezing animal products:
Cured meats such as ham and bacon can only be frozen for a short period of time (1 to 3 months) because the salt in them hastens rancidity.
I thought the salt was a preservative? Hmmm. This calls for further research, I think.

I almost never freeze fresh veggies because commercially frozen vegatables are so cheap and, for that matter, are usually better quality than the fresh veggies at our local grocery store. But, for those of you who want to try it, the discouraging information is that:
Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture.


Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size. Underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. Follow recommended blanching times...
I wish I knew who started the myth that homemaking is unskilled labor...

Mommy Life: Favorite reads: a child's point of view

Barbara Curtis at the Mommy Life blog is looking for good fiction for grown-ups that is written from a child's point of view. Does anybody have recommendations? (Use title link.)

Collected Miscellany - What's the Best Book of 2005?

Phil at the Collected Miscellany blog wants to know what you think are the best books this year, fiction and nonfiction both.

hat tip: Sherry at Semicolon

Friday, August 05, 2005

Day is Done: Hall of Fame Jockey Announces Retirement -

Pat Day is shifting focus. Leslie Deckard reports (posted August 4, updated August 5):
As the Churchill Downs bugler played "My Old Kentucky Home," an emotional Pat Day officially hung up his saddle today during a press conference at the Louisville, Ky. track, where he is the all-time leading rider with 2,481 wins, including 155 stakes wins.


Day retires with 8,803 career victories, which ranks him fourth behind all-time leader Laffit Pincay, Jr.'s career total of 9,530. Day is the all-time leader in career earnings by a jockey as his mounts earned $297,912,019.

Day won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in 1992 with W.C. Partee's Lil E Tee. His Triple Crown resume includes a record five Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and three wins in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). He rode in a record 21 consecutive Kentucky Derbys, a streak that ended when hip surgery forced him to miss this year's renewal.


The Colorado native said he would immediately focus his energy on his work with the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, a national organization of chaplains from U.S. racetracks that serves the spiritual, physical, emotional, and social/educational needs of the workforce at those tracks.

In addition to speaking at chaplaincy fund-raising events, Day said, he wants to spend time walking through the backstretch with Racetrack Chaplaincy of America's 58 sanctioned chaplains and then giving a message of eternal hope to groups of backstretch workers....
Full article

Via A man worthy of our esteem - and a superb witness by Miss O'Hara.

Pat Day famously had drug and alcohol problems before he became a born-again Christian in the early '80s. It's more common for men to become heroes and then go to ruin, but with Day it was the other way around. He went from being a bad example to being a caring, winning guy. For more, see Wikipedia/Pat_Day.

See also Pat Day’s “What a Difference a Day Makes Tour” at RTCA.