Thursday, September 29, 2005


My husband is sitting downstairs in a recliner, talking with his parents, and they are all giving as good as they get [joshing, joking, teasing, telling family stories on each other]. This would be neither here nor there except that since the middle of the month David was dying in front of my eyes, day by day, sometimes hour by hour, even minute by minute. And nothing the doctor tried seemed to work, and some of it even backfired. Then our regular doctor went out of town and we dragged our weary, discouraged, frightened selves to his young, go-getting partner - in fairness I should mention that the new guy had the benefit of just-released test results, including a CT scan done earlier in the day, plus the advice of out-of-town cardiologists he called for fast advice, plus all the information about what hadn't worked - and the new doctor declared that the intensive care unit was in order. As in do not go home, do not pass go, get thee up there, we must get the fluid out of your lungs, etc. And so began a wild ride of pushing chemicals in and fluids out. Scary, definitely. But wonderful, because it worked.

We're not out of the woods, necessarily. We may never be. We're dealing with heart failure and damaged lungs on top of MS and scoliosis. He's got tubes here and there and I've become accustomed to the constant, unevenly-cycling sound of the oxygen concentrator he has to have with him at all times. He's still quite sick and weak, and we're told he's permanently disabled. The hospital has lined us up with home nursing services; they'll be here Monday. I've been thrown into a world of acronyms and odd phrases and government workers and pills and forms to sign and sometimes-scary vigils. We've got to find a home better suited to handicapped living, and soon. We've shut down our Internet bookstore business for a while, simply because something had to give and I don't know how to run that particular business by myself. I've been handling basic bookkeeping for the gas station this week, in between vigils - gas stations are almost as bad as dairies as far as needing daily care and feeding. With the gas station though, I have help. The employees have done what they could. The head office has led prayers as well as been patient with the rookie (me). One of the main guys chatted with me by phone just to offer some encouragement and share his grief that my husband was ill.

The emotions are beyond describing.

I'd like to thank everybody who has been praying for us and everybody who has offered help. I'd especially like to thank the people who showed up when I was too shell-shocked to deal with the situation, and simply dug in and did whatever needed to be done. I should have been writing down who has offered or done what. The last two weeks or so are smudgy, if I might put it that way.

I still have the bookkeeping to do tonight, and David wants to teach me how to cut payroll checks (eek!) and then we've got to get him situated for the night. (Me, too. I'm on a borrowed cot I haven't used before. It squeaks. This should be interesting...). We didn't find out he couldn't use a bed but needed a recliner (until we can get a hospital bed) until about an hour or so before he was discharged this morning. In hindsight, all us crazy people running around getting a recliner and getting it down outside stairs must have looked mighty funny. If you'd been inside while we decided that best place for it required the moving of about twenty letter-legal boxes full of used books, well...

So I'm off for now. But I wanted to let you know that things are still upside down and not so good, but on the other hand they don't seem so bad as they were.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

OpinionJournal - The Real World: U.N.-Plugged

Claudia Rosett, writing in her "The Real World" column at OpinionJournal, muses about what sort of world council we could invent if we scrapped the United Nations and started over with the needs of the 21st century in mind. (Use title link.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Umbert 9.21.2005

For anybody who lives with a football fan. :-)

Book Market Watch: How to Wrap 5 Eggs

Just so you don't accidentally sell a copy of this at a yard sale for a couple bucks and wind up disliking yourself, even battered copies of How to Wrap 5 Eggs: Japanese Design in Traditional Packaging, by Hideyuki Oka, 1967, are listed for more than $100 on the Internet. Copies in good condition are starting around $250 on most bookselling sites that I keep tabs on. Copies in really good condition might fetch $500 or more. It's sort of a coffee table book - large (about eleven-and-a-half by ten inches), with lots and lots and lots of pictures, most of them in black and white. And we're noticing some turnover (people are buying at those prices).

The sequel, How to Wrap 5 More Eggs is also collectible, but not at quite the same prices. Say the $75 to $200 range for most copies. (Still not something you want to dump at a yard sale.)

Search tip: Some sellers have the book listed as "How to Wrap 5 Eggs." Some have it "How to Wrap Five Eggs." Some have it both ways. When I'm looking, I just use how to wrap eggs. Works for me. You can track both the original and the sequel that way, too, for what it's worth.

I keep thinking the fad - such as it is - will run its course, but I've checked off and on over the last several years, and every time I've taken a look, prices have been high and people seem to be buying. Go figure.

Remember Joe Btfsplk?

Don't ask me why, but I was trying to remember the name of the character in the Li'l Abner comic strip who was jinxed and went around with a cloud over his head. I had to look it up. Joe Btfsplk. Joe Btfsplk??? Hmmm. I guess we must have always just called him the guy who always went around with a cloud over his head...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - Bipartisan Support for Eminent Domain Reform

Greg Simmons of Fox News reports on efforts to reform or rein in eminent domain policies, including the actions of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. (Use title link.)

Bookworm Room: Grrrrr!

The blogger Bookworm is having trouble adopting a dog from an animal shelter. She is being told that they don't place dogs with families with young children. No, really. (Use title link.)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Military Dogs Large and Small, Then and Now

Military dogs amaze me. For official dogs working in today's hot spots, see the news article Military Working Dogs Save Many Lives at DefendAmerica.

For an offbeat true-life story about a little dog that got adopted, and smuggled around (when necessary), by a doting soldier:

Yorkie Doodle Dandy: A Memoir: Or the Other Woman Was a Real Dog
Yorkie Doodle Dandy: A Memoir: Or the Other Woman Was a Real Dog

This book was brought to my attention several years ago by the son of the author. It's definitely a home grown book, but it's a good read nonetheless. It's about a Yorkshire Terrier found in New Guinea during World War II who went on to an entertainment career in the United States. During the war, Smoky was put to work, thank you very much - everything from helping set up an air base to entertaining troops. More on Smoky.

Exultate Justi: Bueller? Bueller? (looking for publishing advice)

Jared at the Exultate Justi blog asks:

Anybody out there in blogland have recent experience with getting published? Specifically, I'm looking for real world, experience-based advice - not tips from the Writer's Market books.

Use title link.

Election 2005 | Deutsche Welle

Let me see if I have this right? In Sunday's German elections for national leader, the challenger wasn't quite voted in and the incumbent wasn't quite voted out? So now voters have to wait while politicians arrange things? Is that how this works? I'm not quite sure I've got this figured out correctly.

neo-neocon: Honoring Commodore Levy: Jews in the military

You might have heard that the U.S. Naval Academy now has a Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel.

So who was Commodore Uriah P. Levy? He wasn't a dull fellow, by any stretch, as the title-linked post explains.

Expat Yank: The Right Side

Third photo down. An Afghan woman waits to cast her ballot...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Commentary: Low Marx for Poor Memory

In a recent BBC Radio poll, Karl Marx was voted the greatest philosopher of all time. Dr. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute responds by taking a look at Marx and his followers.

Marx wrote many things, including admiring words about capitalism which he regarded as a definite advance on previous economic arrangements. The BBC result, however, underlines a strange blindness about Marx persisting within Western societies.

In one sense, this is nothing new. In the 1930s, intrepid Westerners traveled to the U.S.S.R and returned saying that they had seen the future. Somehow they managed not to see the purges, the collectivization, and the gulags that resulted in the imprisonment and deaths of millions. Communism, it is often said, was a godless system. This is not quite right. Communism was godless insofar as it was based upon an atheistic vision of man. Yet Communism did have its gods. It had its deities to whom anything and anyone could be sacrificed.

Read Gregg's complete commentary

hat tip: Jonathan Spalink on PowerBlog

neo-neocon: On the kindness of strangers: the aftermath of Katrina

Some individuals who were in Katrina's path are finding themselves with opportunities they never dreamed of, thanks to the kindness of strangers. The blogger neo-neocon takes a look at some of their stories.

(By the way, neo-neocon has just marked her one year blog anniversary.)

Update: A good read from her archives: In Praise of Memorizing Poetry, from March 31.

Presidential Leadership, now in paperback

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal was one of the editors of the following book, which relied on contributors from across the political spectrum. The book has just been released in an updated paperback edition.
Publisher's notes and excerpts here.
George W. Bush's current ranking here.

Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House
Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House

Recommended Book: The Great Feud, by Oliver Thomson

I was at the Eastern Oregon Highland Games & Celtic Fair in John Day, Oregon, yesterday, and a delightful and helpful lady at the Clan Bell booth mentioned in passing that The Great Feud is a great book. I haven't seen it myself, but if you have an interest in Scottish history, you might want to check it out.

Great Feud
Great Feud

Update: Just in passing, I'd like to note that Clan Bell recognizes more than thirty surnames, everything from Bell (of course) to Bellis to Beales to Bill to Bile to Behel to Ball to Bayles... List here.

Supreme Court confirmation humor...

Part One. Part Two.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Good news, bad news for Tempe, Arizona, landowners

Dennis Welch reported September 14, 2005, in the East Valley Tribune that Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields told the city of Tempe it couldn't use eminent domain to force residents off their land to make way for a shopping center. On September 16, Welch reported that the City Council held a closed door session before its regular meeting Thursday and voted 7-0 to give City Attorney Marlene Pontrelli the authority to appeal the decision, but it wasn't clear if she would.

Several property owners are affected in this Kelo-like case.

hat tip: Castle Coalition

Economic Education Archives - The Ultimate Chain Letter

The consequences of relying on strangers. (Cute story. Good points.)

The Common Room: Large Family: Small House

A lady with a large family and experience living in a small house shares ways to use the space available to you. Readers are adding their own tips in the comments section.

Celebrating Constitution Day

Full disclosure: I've never celebrated a "Constitution Day" in my life. I didn't even understand it was a holiday. I don't see the banks and post office closing, or anybody planning a parade (except a bunch of guys in kilts, and that's because our annual Highland Games are today - yay bagpipes!). If it weren't for the Internet, I wouldn't have known it was Constitution Day. But I'm all for people learning more about actual American history and foundations, so...

Robert Alt can get you started at No Left Turns, with his blog post with links.

Thomas Sowell asks Whose Constitution is it? - and demolishes the popular view that what matters is what the people who wrote it meant. (Hint: the document had to be ratified...)

The National Center for the Humanities has a Constitution Day page, with links.

And, if you're into behind-the-scenes stuff, here's Washington's Handwritten Annotations to the Constitution, as Dictated by the Committees.

Delaware history bits

This links to the Delaware Constitution which was announced to the public September 21, 1776.

Delaware went on to become the first state to ratify the United States Constitution, December 7, 1787.

Delaware is having a Constitution Week starting today. Related documents are here.

For ongoing history, there is a This Day in Delaware History page updated daily. (Also available by e-mail, as a downloadable audio, or a daily RSS Audio Podcast.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tracking down damage to the publishing industry

I'm on an e-mail newsletter list for Writer's Market/ In the one that showed up in my inbox this afternoon:


Hurricane Katrina has affected much of the United States in many different ways, including markets for writers. We’re trying our best to keep up with what is going on with the following gulf coast markets, but the grim reality is that some have just been impossible to contact. Here’s what we currently know:

The Times-Picayune newspaper has been working hard to report news in and around New Orleans. What they’ve done is amazing. ... We’ve been unable to contact Bale Books, The William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, One-Act Play Contest (sponsored by the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival) or Xavier Review. ... However, Pelican Publishing Co. has offered some updates on their website and are hopeful that their company has not suffered great damage, though that situation will be hard to fully assess for a while. (According to 9/12/05 PW Daily, Pelican acquired a permit to re-open their offices in Gretna, LA.) ... We’ve been unable to make direct contact with L. Kemper and Leila Williams Prize, but the website for The Historic New Orleans Collection (the contest’s sponsor) has an online forum set up for staff so they can continue to work in some capacity. ... Let’s Write Literary Contest has no idea on possibilities at the moment. Based out of Gulfport, MS, all homes were destroyed by the full blast of Katrina. However, they are hoping to keep The Gulf Coast Writers Association going into the future. ... The Black Collegian “remains in production” according to its website. They have a temporary new phone number and e-mail address (updated in their listing) and appreciate everyone’s patience in their responses to various queries. ... According to Sandra Beasley, the editors of New Orleans Review are okay. However, we can’t find a confirmation on the status of the actual publication. ... From Virginia Howard, editor of THEMA, “The next issue of THEMA was in the proofing stage, and would have been sent to the printer on the weekend that the hurricane struck. The page proof is with me in Georgia, but when it will actually go to press is anyone’s guess. We don’t know whether our printer survived the storm.” ... The Ahearn Agency, Inc., has moved offices to New York (reflected in the updated listing). However, Pam Ahearn says, “I am requesting that people hold off contacting me about potential submissions until after November 1.”

If anyone has updated information on any of these listed above or knows of other markets affected by the storm, please send an e-mail to

How Curious George Escaped the Nazis - New York Times

The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H. A. Rey
The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H. A. Rey

There's a new book out about the authors of the Curious George books. Dinitia Smith writes about it in The New York Times here. For more information at Barnes & Noble, click the book cover above.

hat tip: The Curious Fifi post by Katie at A Constrained Vision blog.

Technical difficulties, please stand by...

Please bear with me. I've had several days in a row where I've had trouble getting my blog to come up. It has been loading slowly, and sometimes incompletely. Sometimes I haven't been able to post, either. Some of that might be because of hosting problems, but there's also the not-so-outside chance that one of my recent template modifications gummed up the works.

I'm going to try a new template, at least for the time being.

Update: Either I've fixed things, or else the problems that have been making me tear my hair out just happened to disappear during the hour or so I was scuttling one set-up and installing and tweaking another. At any rate, things seem to be working now, albeit in drenching blue...

Update, 6:15 p.m. - The dripping blue template bothered me so I'm trying another. I apologize for the visual whiplash...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Slant Point: Iran's Big Heart

Iran wants to help its neighbors.

Talking of America while ignoring her faith is like...

Opening quote on the back jacket of the UK edition of Christianity in America: A Handbook (editors Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, George M. Marsden, David F. Wells, and John D. Woodbridge), Lion Publishing, 1983, ISBN 0856487007:
Talking of America while ignoring her faith is like describing Switzerland without the Alps... - Os Guinness.

Book Notes: The Little Engine That Could

I am checking market prices for used books this afternoon (like most afternoons), and I just came across

Little Engine That Could
Little Engine That Could

- a board book adaptation of the classic story by Watty Piper. It is the second version of The Little Engine That Could that I've put out for sale this month. I cannot tell you how many different versions and editions of this book I've sold over the last ten years. Big books. Little books. Really little books. Original illustrations. New illustrations. Original text. Adapted text. Hardbacks. Paperbacks. Board books. At any rate, it's come out in more variations than most books we sell. This has made for some awkward moments in the special order department, when people want a precise replica of a book they had as a child but are somewhat flummoxed when you ask for a description of it. Typical answer: It had some blue on the cover, I remember that... Typical polite reply: Well, that's a good start... But I'm not complaining, not really. It's a great little children's story, and I'm glad it's stayed in print.

Oh, now - look here. This is news to me. There's yet another version coming out. Currently available for pre-order with a release date of September 27, this one is oversize (10" x 12"), and is illustrated by Loren Long:

Little Engine That Could
Little Engine That Could

Too fun. This was one of my favorite stories as a child. I love that it's lasted like this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I got a Christmas catalog yesterday

L.L. Bean's Christmas 2005 catalog arrived in our post office box yesterday. That's a record, I think. I'm not sure I like getting a Christmas catalog in September. There's something sad, even grasping, about Christmas gift hawking this early in the year. Not that many people don't already have their Christmas buying already taken care of for the year, for all intents and purposes - some people are always on the look-out for potential gifts, it seems like - and others are obviously starting to gear up and buy things to beat the rush. It's just that folks who know how to shop early don't seem to need the nudge, and maybe the rest of us would like to keep the holiday season more contained? Or maybe I mean we'd like to keep it feeling set apart from the rest of the year? I know I would.

At any rate, I opened the post office box and saw I had a catalog touting itself as a Christmas catalog, and my heart sank a little. And I love Christmas catalogs. It's just too early for this. Isn't it? I savor seasonal differences, each thing in its own time. Is it too much to ask that we get Halloween out of the way before we move on to Christmas? Or, failing that, maybe Columbus Day? Or the first day of autumn, for pity's sake? They couldn't wait for that, at least?

The Scotsman - Inflation may top 3% but we are a long way from the 1970s

George Kerevan, writing for the Business section of The Scotsman, looks at the present state of the economy, with an eye on what's different compared to the 1970s. (For those of you who didn't live through the 1970s, inflation was a bit staggering in those days. As he says, UK inflation in the '70s averaged 13 per cent a year. In 1975, it hit 27 percent.) Kerevan looks at what's likely to protect us these days from that sort of inflation, and where we still need to be a little worried. (I'm assuming that although he's writing with a UK focus, much of this applies to the US as well. I'm also assuming that the UK's economic health is important to America.)

Patrick Ruffini :: Join the ECorps

I'm techno-slow, so Patrick Ruffini's latest initiative isn't for me. But I'm happy to help spread the word:
ECorps allows web geeks, blog aficionados, and graphic designers across America to come in and share what they're good at. From this, we'll build a community of like-minded people just like you. You don't have to be especially political to join, and you don't have to have architected a Fortune 500 company web site either: a snazzy blog, or even just a willingness to learn will do just fine. If you're not the person for this, is the webmaster or database administrator at the office a closet Republican? Then send this to them. I'll need everyone's help to spread the word far and wide beyond the blogosphere.
His post

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

OpinionJournal - The Californian Way

Former California governor Pete Wilson has some suggestions for the leaders of New Orleans, based on lessons learned in the rebuilding after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which, among other things, collapsed the overpass bridges of Interstate 10 in the Los Angeles area. Wilson says he was told to expect repairs to I-10 to take over two years. Instead, the freeway was open to normal traffic in 66 days. To get that done, state government had to change how it did business. More.

The Rookie Editor: Welcome

New Blog Alert: And since it just started yesterday, I mean a really new blog.

The Rookie Editor blog is written by a guy who is helping launch a new sports magazine, Motor City Sports. I'm not an avid sports fan, but I spent ten years in the newspaper business, and my husband and I have published our own advertiser (those free things, mostly ads, some quotes, that sit around in restaurants and on check-out counters), and we've printed several brochures and programs for various events. My husband still prints a few on the side. He is on deadline for one right now, as a matter of fact. The client brought him handfuls of printed pages, handwritten notes, business cards, etc., yesterday, and wanted the finished program - lay-out, printing, folding, stapling - by noon today. (Tell me again where we put that magic wand???)

In other words, I identify with the glitches - as well as the excitement - of putting a publication together. I also appreciate the teamwork needed. (And the joy of having a really good copy editor on that team, when you can get your hands on one. I sorely miss Roberta. She knew punctuation.)

I like blogging in part because it takes away the need to make everything fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, from scratch, in a limited and set amount of time. But sometimes I miss those very things about papers - the technical expertise, fortitude, and sometimes just plain ingenuity, needed to get the job done right and by deadline. It was very satisfying when it went well.

Best of luck to The Rookie Editor and his new publication.

hat tip: Exultate Justi

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Marvelous Garden: Two Cabbies in New Orleans

Here's a wonderful firsthand account of a visit to New Orleans before the flood.

hat tip: Wisdom from cabbies at Semicolon.

Update: Sigh. I am informed by a friend with law enforcement experience that the couple at The Marvelous Garden blog was very lucky - that the set-up the writer describes is commonly used by cons, and the outcome is often very unhappy for the tourists involved. Most cab companies, he says, forbid the practice of running tabs to protect both their cabbies and the public, but mostly the public. So, now, we've all been forewarned. :(

Sunday, September 11, 2005

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: Who Calls the Cavalry?

Daniel Henninger notes what the Pentagon got done in the week before Katrina hit (a lot, really), and discusses why the U.S. military didn't go charging into New Orleans as quickly as some people wanted. Henninger's column.

OpinionJournal - Extra: Katrina, Juliana and Wilhelmina

In 1953, a killer storm collapsed the Dutch levee system in 500 places. Simon Rozendaal compares that disaster with Hurricane Katrina.

Abebooks: Wigtown Book Festival

Now, I'd heard of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, which went into the selling of secondhand books in a big way a few years back.

But this is the first I've heard of Wigtown, Scotland - in any capacity, as far as I know. Where have I been?

From the website:
If any place in the world deserved the label of 'Book Town', then it is Wigtown – a small community of no more than 1,000 people in southwest Scotland. It is home to an incredible 19 bookstores and another five booksellers, and each year it celebrates its literary prowess with a festival attracting thousands.

The seventh annual Scottish Book Town Literary Festival takes place from September 23 until October 2. It is billed as a celebration of the written word through books, art, film and theatre.

Wigtown became a 'Book Town' following a search across Scotland for a suitable town in need of regeneration and willing to model itself on Hay-on-Wye – the small Welsh town that dedicated itself to books in order to breathe life into its failing economy.

In the mid-1990s, Wigtown's agricultural-based economy had declined, young people were leaving the town in droves and, in the words of one current bookseller, "Wigtown was derelict."

John Robertson manages the Book Town Company which promotes Wigtown to the world. "The theory was that the success of Hay-on-Wye could be replicated," he said. "It has been a massive gamble for every bookseller that decided to come here. Some booksellers originally came as a lifestyle choice. Now we are getting younger booksellers. Every single bookseller is different – that's what makes the place so interesting."

Robertson estimates that the town – 90 miles from the nearest major highway – attracts over 50,000 visitors each year. Not bad for a town of 970 people...
Full article

Festival webpage

Author of note: Ngaio Marsh

In case you're just joining us, we're having fun here musing about what books fans of the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy Sayers might want to take a look at (there being only so many Lord Peter books available).

I'd add the Inspector Alleyn mysteries by New Zealand author Ngaio Marsh (1895?-1982), most of which, happily enough, have been reissued in recent years and are therefore easier to find than some oldies but goodies in mystery fiction. It's been a while since I've read these, and I can't remember which books in the series I liked and which I didn't - no matter, you'll have different tastes than me anyway, right? - but overall she's one of those authors that people tend to get started on and then can't seem to stop.

For more on Ngaio Marsh, see Wikipedia. Here's a bibliography, with links. Volunteers give tours at her home, if you ever get to New Zealand and are into that sort of thing. Marsh was also famous as a theatre producer, particularly of Shakespeare's plays, by the way.

To get more information on individual titles via Barnes & Noble, click on the book cover.

Death and the Dancing Footman (A Roderick Alleyn Mystery)
Death and the Dancing Footman (A Roderick Alleyn Mystery)

When and why the feds started getting involved in disaster response

Author John M. Barry was among the guests on NBC's Meet the Press this morning. He and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana State University Hurricane Center deputy director Ivor van Heerden were included in a discussion centered around Katrina. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, was on later to discuss John Roberts. The show's transcript is here.

Tim Russert, the program host, says Mr. Barry's 1997 book Rising Tide is applicable to our current situation in the Katrina disaster. According to these folks, it was in the response to massive flooding in 1927 that people started thinking that federal government had a role in disaster response and relief.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America

From the publisher, via Barnes & Noble (click book cover for more information):
In 1927, the Mississippi River swept across an area roughly equal in size to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined, leaving water as deep as thirty feet on the land stretching from Illinois and Missouri south to the Gulf of Mexico. Close to a million people - in a nation of 120 million - were forced out of their homes. Some estimates place the death toll in the thousands. The Red Cross fed nearly 700,000 refugees for months. Rising Tide is the story of this forgotten event, the greatest natural disaster this country has ever known. But it is not simply a tale of disaster. The flood transformed part of the nation and had a major cultural and political impact on the rest. Rising Tide is an American epic about science, race, honor, politics, and society. Rising Tide begins in the nineteenth century, when the first serious attempts to control the river began. The story focuses on engineers James Eads and Andrew Humphreys, who hated each other. Out of the collision of their personalities and their theories came a compromise river policy that would lead to the disaster of the 1927 flood yet would also allow the cultivation of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta and create wealth and aristocracy, as well as a whole culture. In the end, the flood had indeed changed the face of America, leading to the most comprehensive legislation the government had ever enacted, touching the entire Mississippi valley from Pennsylvania to Montana. In its aftermath was laid the foundation for the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
John M. Barry's latest book is:

The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History
The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Patrick Ruffini :: Remember

Patrick Ruffini has a short photo essay on September 11, 2001, and what's come after.

Betsy's Page : One of the silliest arguments...

Betsy Newmark dismisses the argument that Bush should try to pick a Supreme Court nominee who 'will unite the country'.

Little Sarah Malally... Searching for old rhyme

An older gentleman we know and his brother are trying to track down a poem they remember - or, more to the point, that they only partly remember. From a letter from one of them:
...I'm still looking. I don't know the title and I'm not sure of the spelling of Malally, but the first two lines are:

Little Sarah Malally, at the close of Thanksgiving Day,
Stood at the end of her alley, watching some children at play.

A wealthy lady bountiful saw the little urchin and asked her what she had for Thanksgiving dinner and Sarah conceded that she had nothing since her family was so poor, they couldn't afford anything special. The lady took her home to what Sarah perceived as a mansion, and fixed her a dinner out of the leftovers. Sarah later relates with gratitude that:

She gi' me the nick an' the gizzard an' all the sweet tater skins.

That's all I can remember. So, my search continues...
I haven't been able to turn this up, either. Anybody?

Exultate Justi: Ephemera

Memories are made of.... Good memories, anyway.

PND News - Heinz Endowments Give $20.7 Million to 9/11 Memorial and Quality of Life in Pennsylvania

Has anybody asked Teresa Heinz Kerry what she thinks of the design chosen for the Flight 93 memorial?

From May 13, 2004 (emphasis mine):
The Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments have announced $20.7 million in grants for improving the quality of life in Pennsylvania.

The Endowments will partner with the National Park Foundation to fund an international design competition for a 9/11 memorial on the site in Somerset County, southeast of Pittsburgh, where United Airline Flight 93 crashed. The $500,000 grant will be managed by the foundation arm of the National Park Service, which has been designated by Congress as the controlling authority for the site. The competition process and selection will be overseen by the fifteen-member Flight 93 Advisory Commission, which is composed of victims' family members, local residents, public officials, national figures, and a representative of the Park Service.

"We hope this process will result in a memorial that offers a fitting place of remembrance for the tens of thousands who will come here to pay their respects," said Teresa Heinz Kerry, chairman of the Howard Heinz Endowment. Noting the acts of heroism that likely took place on the plane, Heinz Kerry added that she hoped the funding would ensure "a world-class design that is worthy of this nationally important site."
Full article

Update: For a May 11, 2004, press release on which the above article seems to be based, go here.

Ottawa Citizen : Getting History Right

J.L. Granatstein wonders out loud what good it can possibly do to teach Canadian children to be ashamed of their country's past? Article.

hat tip: Our Blue Castle

Iraqi Soldiers Donate to Katrina Victims - DefendAmerica News Article

Oh my goodness. Iraqis at Tadji Military Base have collected 1,000,000 Iraqi dinars for victims of Hurricane Katrina. They had to give up a lot to do that. Wow. (And thank you!)

hat tip: Little Green Footballs

Friday, September 09, 2005

Happy Catholic: When MIT Came Knocking ...

Julie D. at the Happy Catholic blog was interviewed and taped - for being a blogger. Let her tell you about it.

Exultet: Dick Van Dyke surprised me this morning

Therese Z at the Exultet blog stumbled across an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show that she hadn't seen before. Now she wishes she could find a Lord Peter Wimsey novel she hasn't read.

All of which is prelude to her question: What treasure do you wish you could stumble across?

When you get through answering that for her, pop back here and leave a recommendation in the comments about good books for people who have already read all the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy Sayers.

Albert Campion books by Margery Allingham come to mind. What else?

Katherine Kersten: Strong examples from life, fiction make the man

Here's a tribute to good books, a good teacher, and good men (and a look at how good books in the hands of a good teacher help make good men).

hat tip: The Common Room

Wittingshire: Help Wanted: Requests from Churches in Louisiana

Requests from churches in Louisiana. One church needs people who can use chain saws, sledge hammers and wrecking bars so they can send more clean-up crews into the most devastated areas in Mississippi. Gift cards to retail stores like Wal-Mart, etc., would also be helpful. Another needs information on church members who haven't checked in yet.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A do-it-ourselves shelter shines -

Oh, good. Another story of people who know how to be civilized during a disaster.

hat tip: The Common Room

First Carnival of Life! :: ProLifeBlogs

Blogosphere News: The Carnival of Life had its debut this week. See here for the charter entries, and for details on upcoming carnivals.

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

Jon Moen, writing for Mississippi History Now, an online publication of the Mississippi Historical Society, has a feature story on John Law and the Mississippi Bubble: 1718-1720.

Scotland's People - New Orleans: Edinburgh boy's crazy gamble

New Orleans had unsavory beginnings, and a gambling Scotsman named John Law was right in the thick of the whole mess. Julia Horton explains.

Notes in the Key of Life: "When I lay my Isaac down"--my interview with Carol Kent

When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances
When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances

Cindy Swanson interviewed author Carol Kent. See Cindy's post here.

Gerry Charlotte Phelps: Chapter 4: What the Poor Are Like

Gerry Charlotte Phelps shares lessons learned the hard way about working with poor people. She's not saying we can't help the poor victims of Katrina better themselves once the immediate emergency is over. She's just warning that it may not be as easy as some people like to think.

hat tip: La Shawn Barber's Corner

Rumors of faraway places sway evacuees - The Boston Globe

Rumors of faraway places sway evacuees - to not accept relocation offers. It sounds like quite a few folks from the South have been fed a bill of goods about the rest of the country, and refuse - so far - to move. States and organizations and communities that set up to take in families who lost their homes to Katrina are finding themselves snubbed.

It's early days yet, folks. Try to remember that. It'll keep you from breaking the furniture.

Catholic Online - Catholic PRWire - Catholic Author Wins National Web Award

Humorist Tim Bete, author of In the Beginning... There Were No Diapers, has won the grand prize in the 2005 Writer's Digest Best Writer's Web Site contest, according to this Catholic PRWire article. The author's website is here. I'd link to the Writer's Digest announcement, but honestly I haven't been able to find it yet.

In the Beginning... There Were No Diapers: Laughing and Learning in the First Years of Fatherhood
In the Beginning... There Were No Diapers: Laughing and Learning in the First Years of Fatherhood

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

OpinionJournal - The Real World: Flooded but Unbowed

Claudia Rosett has some good things to say about America and Americans.

Wittingshire: Across a Dark Sea, the Light

It's funny what pops out of the past at you. Last night, late, I wandered over to Wittingshire, and found that Amanda had a post that begins:

While reading a two-year-old copy of Touchstone, I ran across an article by David Mills about Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), the talented writer, Socialist, and outspoken agnostic...
And I stopped and stared. Muggeridge? Socialist? Those two things collided mentally -- I was sure I'd read something about a Malcolm Muggeridge and Russia, but it seemed something different, something that made me think he was a hero of sorts. I'm not prone to admiring Socialists, so I sat a while and then - a light dawning - turned around and looked at my wall of post-it notes, right behind where I sit here. I'm not sure I've added a post-it in the last year. Some of these post-its have probably been there three years, and perhaps are sharing molecules with the wall. I don't know. It's one of those organizational projects that didn't work well enough to keep it up, but didn't fail to the point that it made sense to take down what was already there. Mostly it's background notes for something I was writing, and Briticisms or Frenchisms that I ran across that struck my fancy. There's no rhyme to it, and very little reason.

(Why I think I'll need a definition of "gormless twit" is beyond my recollection. I don't think I'm the sort of person to call somebody that even if they deserve it. Do I need to know the French call junk food malbouffe?)

And there, amidst the potpourri was a small note on which was written:
Muggeridge, Malcolm/ Manchester Guardian reporter who "struck back at Stalin's 'imbecile foreign admirers.'" From Book Review in Washington Times of (see over)"Modernization from the other Shore" by David C. Engerman.
This note was written after I'd barely learned to use the Internet, and well before I had a blog - a between-times of high-tech meets old-high-tech (I remember the days when Post-Its were the best new thing). These days, of course, I'd save the book review as a blog draft, and take it from there (or let it sit, unposted but filed after a fashion). But this was in my post-its phase, and there it sits, smudged and usually unremarked, but just where I could find it by turning 180 degrees from my computer. Sometimes old-high-tech is wonderful.

Here's the book review, by the way. How nice the Washington Times has kept it archived. This review, by Woodford McClellan, an emeritus professor at the University of Virginia, has some significant history in it, as well as some good swipes at journalists who skew their reports to fit their worldviews, and leave misery in their wake. I was glad to see the article again. Thanks for the nudge, Amanda.

Her post, I might add, was to a large extent about Muggeridge's long journey to becoming a Christian. So now I know a grand total of two things about the man: he wasn't afraid to call a spade a spade and, like C.S. Lewis, he tried disbelief and couldn't make it make sense. Interesting.

The book in the review:

Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development
Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development - Ford recalling 3.8 million vehicles - Sep 7, 2005

If you have a 1994-2002 F-150 pickup truck, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator or Ford Bronco, that nifty little $20 switch that turns off the cruise control when you hit the brake might also be a fire hazard, if the protective film barrier on it cracks and lets brake fluid into the electrical side of the switch. And, as it happens, it can even cause a fire when the vehicle is parked and the engine is off. See here and/or here for more information on the problem and how to eliminate it.

A legacy of Flight 93 : You Can Do It!, by and for Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas

The sisters of one of the passengers who died on United Flight 93, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, finished a book that Lauren had started. I posted on the book You Can Do It!, back in April. Or, more specifically, I linked to this National Review Online column by Myrna Blyth, which has background on the book and a link to The Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas Foundation, set up to carry on work that was important to her.

The write-up at Barnes & Noble has more on her and the book. Click book cover to reach that page.

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

The Discovery Channel has an honor roll of passengers and crew of the flight. Click through for pictures and thumbnail sketches of who they were and why they were on the flight. Grandcolas, for instance, was returning home from her grandmother's funeral.

Related previous post: Links to a review of the Flight 93 film "The Flight That Fought Back" coming up on the Discovery Channel this Sunday.

Update: Arthur Chrenkoff highly recommends the film.

One Hand Clapping : Could New Orleans have been cleared in time?

Donald Sensing of the One Hand Clapping blog reconstructs some of the information available and action taken prior to Katrina and asks Could New Orleans have been cleared in time?

Murdoc Online takes Sensing's post as a starting point, and expands on it at This is the issue that matters the most.

P.S. Somewhat off-topic, I know, but today is Donald Sensing's birthday - and he's abed with a killer cold. Send your happy birthday and get well wishes here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Urban Legends Reference Page: Movies (Ben-Hur)

What? They really didn't have a dead stuntman or two at the end of the chariot race in the 1959 movie version of Ben-Hur? I ran crying out of the room as a little girl over a tragedy that didn't happen?

OpinionJournal - The Western Front: A Silver Lining?

Brendan Miniter says - for anyone trying to find a silver lining somewhere in the whole Katrina tragedy - that the children evacuated from New Orleans will likely get a better education than they would have been provided in the failing public schools of New Orleans.

Bookworm Room: The Lord helps those who help themselves

Bookworm's back - and in this post she's got a link to a story of people caught in a hurricane - in 1857. (For a little perspective.)

Power Line: Among the heroes

Scott Johnson has seen a review copy of "The Flight That Fought Back", the Discovery Channel film on United Flight 93 which will air September 11. See his comments here.

Previous post

Monday, September 05, 2005 Malta raises alarm over illegal immigration

From a report by Mark Beunderman, posted September 2:
...Around 1,200 illegal immigrants, primarily from North African and sub-sahara African states, have landed in Malta since January.

This is already twice as much as during the whole of 2004, a Maltese spokesman told EUobserver.

"That means that for every two people born in Malta, there is one illegal immigrant", the spokesman said.

"If the trend continues at the current pace, this ratio will be three to two by the end of this year", he added.

The densely-populated mediterranean island says it faces considerable problems absorbing the migrants, particularly in terms of social conditions and security...

More on Malta. - Faithful rally to aid storm survivors

The Denver Post looks at some of the efforts by various congregations across Denver to help those hurt by Katrina. - Schools as drawing card

Allison Sherry, Denver Post staff writer, reported August 28:
Rather than waiting for a troubled school district to fix itself, nearly a dozen housing developers in Aurora are taking matters into their own hands, proposing a network of specialized schools - maybe even their own district - to lure tens of thousands of suburban homeowners.

The plans, which for the most part have conspicuously left out leaders from Aurora Public Schools, are part of a national trend of businesses doing an end run around traditional school districts.

Experts say it has the potential to drastically recast the future of public education...
Full article

hat tip: Katie at A Contrained Vision blog

open book: From the Dominicans

Another first person account from someone from New Orleans, as shared by Amy Welborn on her blog. The correspondent made the mistake of assuming that a solid, three-story building would be safe.

CULTURE OF LIFE - Umbert 9.02.2005

More pregnancy humor. In case you haven't been following the cartoon, the character shown is Umbert's Cousin Eb, from Texas. And, oh man, is this kid from Texas! (Use title link, but only if you can stand baby jokes. I know some of you can't...)

If you scroll down on the page, you can find links to other recent cartoons.

ScrappleFace: Democrats Demand Justice Just Like Rehnquist


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Refugees from the Storm

Daniel P. Aldrich, a professor of Political Science at Tulane University, and his wife and children are among those who got out of New Orleans right before Katrina hit, with not much more than the clothes on their backs. His home is under about ten feet of water now. He's counting his blessings as well as his losses. (Use title link.)

Update: For anyone with Tulane connections, see
This is the temporary website of Tulane University. Information will be posted here regarding Tulane's recovery and return after Hurricane Katrina.

President Scott Cowen and a core of University leaders from Student Affairs, Provost's Office, Health Sciences, Human Resources, Information Technology, and University Communications have established a base in Houston, Texas. This team will facilitate all aspects of Tulane's return.

We will supply phone numbers and address for our Houston home as soon as they are available.
They are asking all employees to register at the website as soon as possible, so they can re-establish contact with everyone.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Winston warns of stem cell hype

Lord Winston, president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, is expected to warn in a speech Monday that the potential benefits of embryonic stem cell research have probably been oversold, and he's fearing a backlash when science can't deliver on the hype. Jonathan Amos, BBC News Online science staff writer, reports.

US Newspaper List: Mississippi Newspaper List

Mississippi Newspaper List has links to newspapers, college newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, magazines, more.

I haven't gone through the list to see what's still up and running, but I know some of you are having trouble finding out what's happening in Mississippi, and I hope this will help.

The website has similar listings for all states. For shortcuts, here are the links to Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

John Grisham to donate $5M to Katrina relief - The Clarion-Ledger

Bestselling author John Grisham and his wife, Renee, have donated five million dollars to establish the Rebuild The Coast Fund to help Mississippi residents and businesses recover from Hurricane Katrina. The Grishams have a home in Oxford, Mississippi.

Associated Press article

Discovery Channel :: The Flight That Fought Back

Discovery Channel :: The Flight That Fought Back will air September 11, without commercial interruption, reconstructing the events of Flight 93 and honoring the crew and passengers. The website has related articles, a video preview (I think it's the same as the ad running on Discovery right now), an airline security quiz, and more. Discovery also suggests donations to the Flight 93 National Memorial Fund.

At a guess, this documentary will be better than anything Hollywood turns out about the event. Just a guess. (Or hope?)

26 Nations To Release Petroleum Reserves

Justin Blum, Washington Post staff writer, reports that members of the Paris-based International Energy Agency have taken steps to get more gasoline on the U.S. market, and also that oil companies are sending more gasoline than usual from abroad to the United States to help offset Katrina's damage to refineries. These added supplies could be arriving in something like ten days to two weeks. More.


Michelle Malkin: STORIES OF SURVIVAL links to several inspiring stories, and a few heart-wrenching ones.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Chirac admitted to Paris hospital

The news reports around the world are conflicting. Some are saying French President Jacques Chirac has had a small stroke. Others, the BBC included, are saying he's had a vascular problem that's affected his eyesight (otherwise known as a transient ischemic attack, they say). At any rate, he's expected to be in hospital for about a week or so. Use title link for the BBC report, which has links to reports at other news agencies.

Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies at Home

From AP, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has died.

The Berlin Airlift

The Berlin Airlift has been mentioned a time or two today, as reporters try to get their heads around the scale of the evacuation and relief efforts underway along the northern Gulf Coast. Earlier, I heard Geraldo Rivera mentioning something about the Berlin Airlift, and something about the Kennedy Administration, but I was only paying half attention while I did chores. Beyond a brief curiosity of what had happened in the Kennedy years that would provide perspective on today's events, I didn't think about it much.

It turns out that Rivera was saying that the Berlin Airlift happened during the Kennedy administration, according to Donald Sensing. Oops. Send that reporter back to history class, or get him a better research assistant, or something.

Sensing is wondering if he should make Geraldo Rivera a separate posting category on his One Hand Clapping blog. The man provides comic relief, he says.

Seraphic Secret: Tethered

Robert J. Avrech's September 1 post begins:
Of all the horrendous scenes from Hurricane Katrina that Karen and I have watched, the single image that has sent us reeling is of a middle aged daughter dragging the corpse of her father on an inflatable mattress; he is tightly, lovingly wrapped in white sheets...
Full post

As with many of the posts on his blog, Avrech ties this to his experience of watching his son fight for his life and lose. A heart-tugging and thought-provoking essay.

The Common Room: Where is the National Guard?

Headmistress over at The Common Room has a short quiz on the National Guard and its response to Katrina, to see if you know what's really happened so far, etc. She even links to an article with the answers, so you can read up before taking the quiz. : Mississippi's News Source

News from Jackson, Mississippi.

hat tip: PBS

Update: For an extensive list of - and links to - Mississippi newspapers, college papers, radio stations, TV stations, more, see here or here. | Powered by The Advocate and WBRZ News 2 Louisiana

News from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Lots of Katrina and evacuation news, photos, videos, links.

hat tip: PBS

NASA - The Latest News from Mars

The Spirit rover has completed a 14-month climb up a hill on Mars, and has sent back pictures. I don't know if I should say this, but if you hadn't told me these were from Mars I might have guessed they were from country not too far south of me here in the rain shadow part of Oregon. (Where I live is much prettier, thanks - but we're not very far from places like this.) Story link.

Also on the Mars Exploration Rovers page, NASA has pictures of Martian dust devils, which makes Mars seem even more like some sort of parallel Oregon universe ;-)

See also Rocky Mountain High: Spirit Rover Surveys its Surroundings by Tariq Malik for the latest on Spirit's Martian trek.

Hurricane Katrina Recovery on

The United States government has collected links and information in these categories: Finding Loved Ones, Help for Victims, How You Can Help, Health and Safety, Government Agencies and Recovery Response. (Front page here.) For information in Spanish, see Huracán Katrina: Recuperación.

hat tip: NASA home page, which has employee check-in areas, information on NASA facilities affected by the storm, satellite images of flood areas, and more.

Update: also has a Katrina aftermath page.

Friday, September 02, 2005

BBC - History - Red Sky at Night

Not that we don't have enough contemporary disaster to think about just now, but (as the's Business News e-mail's Fact of the Day reminds me) it was on September 2, 1666, that the Great Fire of London started. The BBC has extensive information and links in its history web section.

Wikipedia: Great Fire of London
The Great Fire of London - 1666, presented by London Fire and Civil Defence Authority in association with AngliaCampus.
Samuel Pepys Diary 1666 - Great Fire

OpinionJournal - What They're Reading at the Kitchen Table

Mark Oppenheimer finds that homeschoolers have created a new class of best sellers - good, old, old-fashioned books. He names a few.

Goodwill Industries International - NR-084105-HURRICANE-RELIEF

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, Goodwill Industries has stepped back and is suggesting that people donate cash to relief organizations better positioned than Goodwill to get immediate aid to victims. But, I think the following is important also:
In addition, Goodwill Industries International is accepting online donations to help meet the immediate needs of Goodwill employees and program participants in the affected areas. After these needs are met, the funds will be used to help them resume their jobs, or find new ones, as well as to rebuild the employment and career programs provided by Goodwill agencies in the Gulf region.

“We want to help the employees and clients of the affected Goodwill agencies survive these devastating days, and provide them with the support they need to rebuild their lives,” says Kessinger [George W. Kessinger, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International]. Donors can visit our web site to make a donation by credit card, or send a check to Goodwill Industries International, Inc.; c/o Hurricane Relief; 15810 Indianola Drive; Rockville, MD 20855.
Full news release

Goodwill has done great things by giving individuals a “hand-up, not a handout." I suspect this approach will be invaluable in the months to come, as storm survivors wonder how in the world to get back on their feet.

Update: Instapundit has a blogger's round-up of places to donate to hurricane relief efforts here. The Truth Laid Bear is letting people track their contributions here. (It's sort of a friendly competition for a good cause.) The main "TTLB" Hurricane Katrina: Blog For Relief Weekend page is here. Bloggers from around the world are pitching in to steer help where it can do some good.

Update: Technorati tag Hurricane+Katrina

FEMA gets Hurricane Katrina help from unlikely place

Bob Brewin, reporting on (Federal Computer Week online) notes that sometimes an agency that specializes in fighting wildfires can be immensely helpful in helping people after a hurricane. Story has other Katrina-related articles:
911 wiped out in many areas
Katrina knocks out critical Army supply link
Outdated hospital bed system hampers Katrina relief effort
Red Cross works to restore communications at shelters
Hurricane Katrina: Disaster relief (Federal Computer Week’s ongoing coverage of the relief efforts. Articles, links, and blogs.)

Afghan Instructors Teach Afghan Soldiers - DefendAmerica News Article

Good news from Afghanistan. As U.S. Army Sgt. Mason T. Lowery, Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan Public Affairs reports:
KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 2, 2005 — The Afghan National Army's Command and General Staff College graduated its sixth class Aug. 22 - the first class taught entirely by Afghan instructors.

French officers first taught the four-month course when the staff college opened in 2004. They selected top Afghan graduates from the second class to become instructors. The French gradually transferred authority to the Afghan National Army officers and assumed the role of advisors by April 2005.

The French officers will remain at the college to teach new courses in artillery, engineering and logistics, and will again choose top Afghan students from those classes to become future instructors. In a year, the college will have only three French instructors instead of the current eight, said French Army Lt. Col. Gaeton Sevin, chief of the Command and General Staff College French training team...
Full article