Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dueling movie reviews

Michael Phillips, a Tribune arts writer, says, in `Zorro' slashes logic of movie ratings system, that The Legend of Zorro is basically a bad movie with way too much violence for its rating. Phillips, in fact, uses it as Exhibit A for why the current movie rating system should be reworked.

But in this review by Christopher Lyon at pluggedinonline (spoiler alert!), which is aimed at nice, Christian families interested in maintaining traditional values, Lyon finds things to like about it. He has some qualms, which he spells out. But overall, he seems to think it's OK.

This is another reason I like DVDs. You can preview a movie before sharing it with someone, and you can fast forward with your eyes closed if you have to ;-).

Fingerprints may illuminate life in the womb

From New Scientist Breaking News - Fingerprints may illuminate life in the womb, by Alison Motluk, news service (November 30, 2005):

Fingerprints may provide important clues about life in the womb, and may even become useful as predictors of disease risk. US researchers, in Atlanta and New York, have now shown that differences in fingerprints between the thumb and little finger are associated with likelihood of developing diabetes later in life.

A person’s fingerprints are set for life by around the 19th week of gestation, roughly halfway through a normal pregnancy. Most organs, including the pancreas, are also formed by that time. Henry Kahn at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and colleagues decided to look at quantitative differences in ridges between the first and last fingertips – the thumb and pinkie.

The team speculated that any disturbances during their formation might also say something about the state of the pancreas, and possibly the likelihood of a person developing diabetes as they age. Diabetes results from the failure of the pancreas to produce insulin, or enough insulin, which the body needs to help it take up glucose.

The researchers studied 569 Dutch people, some of whom were in the womb during the Dutch famine of 1944 and 1945, dubbed the “hunger winter”. Kahn and his team tested the volunteers’ glucose tolerance – a measure which is abnormally high in people with diabetes – and also counted the number of ridges on their thumbs and little fingers by rolling the inked digits onto paper...

Full article

A good name for a cookbook author...

My day job is cleaning and pricing used books. I just came across one called The Citrus Cookbook, by Josephine Bacon. What a nice name for a cookbook author, I thought. :-)

So then I went around the Internet to see what the prices were running, and found that Josephine Bacon is also the author of

Cooking the Israeli Way
Cooking the Israeli Way

An Israeli cookbook by somebody named Bacon? It seems a little incongruous, somehow...

Good news, bad news for diabetics

The bad news is that if you have overly high blood sugar it's likely messing with your brain.

The good news is that the neurons themselves don't seem to get damaged too much, so the changes might be reversible. At least, that's what of one group of researchers hopes, based on preliminary research.

From Rockefeller University - Newswire:

The estimated 1 million people in the United States with type 1 diabetes know that uncontrolled high blood sugar can attack the body’s organs. New research from Rockefeller University’s Bruce McEwen and colleagues at the University of South Carolina shows that the brain is one target of the disease, and that diabetes’ effects on it may be reversible.


The changes McEwen and colleagues saw in one protein, synaptophysin, which is important for synapse function, indicates that not only have the connections between neurons in the hippocampus been reorganized, but the reorganization is more extensive than scientists previously thought. These alterations may explain why complications of diabetes and also the effects of high levels of glucocorticoids often include problems with memory and other cognitive impairments.

The results show, however, that, in spite the alterations in brain circuits, there was little damage to the neurons themselves; meaning that if the right measures are taken, the changes may be reversible....

Another Phony Marriage Ring Busted

From an AP story, carried on Fox (emphasis added):

...Chinese and Vietnamese nationals were charged up to $60,000 to marry American citizens to obtain green cards, authorities said. Couples were provided with fake wedding photographs, joint tax returns and even love letters.


ICE launched an investigation into the Orange County-based ring three years ago after authorities began to notice U.S. citizens who were seeking green cards for more than one spouse. Operation Newlywed Game resulted in 44 people -- mostly Chinese- and Vietnamese-Americans -- being indicted on charges including conspiracy, misuse of visas and marriage fraud....

This is so sad.

The Scotsman - Business - Dollar doubt pushes gold above $500

Gold has hit its highest price in 18 years, and China's being cited as one of the reasons. (China, I notice, is cited as the reason for a lot of things lately.) Platinum has topped $1,000 an ounce, with predictions that this year mining and recycling won't provide enough to meet demand. Alastair Jamieson, Consumer Affairs Correspondent for The Scotsman, has some details. (Did you know, for instance, that gold demand usually picks up this time of year, not only due to Christmas gift sales, but also because of the Indian wedding season?)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

511 America's Traveler Information Telephone Number

It looks like more and more locations in the United States are getting "511" service established for travel information. More information here and here. Many states have their own 511 websites, also.

TripCheck - Road Cams, Road & Weather Conditions in Oregon - ODOT

It wasn't easy driving home from work tonight. There wasn't much snow, but it was swirling through the air and along the road surface to beat the band, making visibility rotten. The wind gusts were strong, but seemingly from several directions at once.

A little while ago, my husband heard on the radio that a local high school sports team is probably going to face four hour delays on the highway coming home. This was shortly after he talked on the phone with a business associate he expected to see tomorrow or so - an associate who reports he is snowed in up in northern Idaho, his truck abandoned for the time being after it went off the road. He called a friend who had a snowmobile, he said, and got to safety that way. Maybe this weekend he'll make it down, he says. Maybe.

So it seems a good time to start rounding up good links to road reports, starting with Oregon.

Book note: The Generous Years, by Chet Huntley

Speaking of Chet Huntley (see the post before this one), his book The Generous Years: Remembrances of a frontier boyhood is a pretty good read, and not at all what I expected, having only known the man from his night after night newscasts with David Brinkley. The Huntley-Brinkley Report and I started out in life at about the same time, which means that I didn't know what it was like to live in a world without it. It was a shock, I remember, when Huntley retired.

We played at putting on our own Huntley-Brinkley reports, complete with the signature sign-off - Good night, David / Good night, Chet/ Good night, Fill-in-name-here (repeated however many times it took to take care of the whole group of kids). It could get pretty ridiculous, which was the point. We were playing.

When that newscast ended, it was like an era ended with it.

The Generous Years appears to be out of print, but there are quite a few used copies floating around for sale yet.

While we're on the subject of deceased broadcasters, remember Lowell Thomas? He wrote some fairly interesting books between broadcasts himself...

The Rapid City Journal : Governor says power outages could continue for days

From Chet Brokaw (no, really, that's his name - and I don't know if he's named after Chet Huntley and Tom Brokaw - no clue, none), of the Associated Press:

PIERRE -- Biting winds and heavy ice from a winter storm cut power to much of eastern South Dakota, and service in some areas might not be restored for a few days, Gov. Mike Rounds said Tuesday.

The storm that struck Sunday and Monday and is the worst in a nearly a decade to hit eastern and central South Dakota, he said. Visibility was often cut to zero, and blocked roads have kept utility crews from determining all of the damage, the governor said.

"They simply don't know because they haven't been able to get out and assess exactly how much of their lines are down," Rounds said.

Dusty Johnson, a member of the state Public Utilities Commission, said about 40,000 customers remained without electrical power Tuesday morning.


"It is really going to be slow going. There has been some pretty significant damage done all across the eastern part of the state," Johnson said. "The fact that it is so widespread and dispersed geographically makes it difficult to be able to get crews out to everywhere they need to go."

The governor and other officials said they were focusing on getting people whose homes are freezing into the 62 shelters that have been set up throughout eastern and central South Dakota. The National Weather Service predicted that temperatures in the area will remain below freezing for at least a week, and electricity will not be restored to some areas for a day or two, they said.

"I cannot emphasize enough that this situation is not over," Rounds said....

Full article

The Rapid City Journal: Norwegians welcome holiday season at annual Lille Norge Fest

Lefse. Krumkake. Cool ethnic costumes. I'm jealous.

"Bruce Willis comes out fighting for Iraq's forgotten GI heroes" - Sunday Times

Sarah Baxter, reporting in The Sunday Times (UK), November 27:

ANGERED by negative portrayals of the conflict in Iraq, Bruce Willis, the Hollywood star, is to make a pro-war film in which American soldiers will be depicted as brave fighters for freedom and democracy.

It will be based on the exploits of the heavily decorated members of Deuce Four, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, which has spent the past year battling insurgents in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul.

Willis attended Deuce Four’s homecoming ball this month in Seattle, Washington, where the soldiers are on leave, along with Stephen Eads, the producer of Armageddon and The Sixth Sense...

Full article

hat tip: Dr. Sanity

The Teaching Company - Free Holiday Lectures

I just got notice by e-mail that The Teaching Company is providing two more free lectures to all comers. Christmas in Victorian Britain and Christmas in 19th Century America will be available until December 31 for streaming or download.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Muslim's journey from Afghanistan to Albuquerque

Dr. Hashemi Osman writes about his life, in Afghanistan, Morocco, and in America, in the current issue of Crosswinds Weekly. Fair warning: I don't expect the link to stay good very long - this is at a weekly publication that uses general urls. In a day or two, in other words, it will take you to a different article than it does today.

Osman is the author of the autobiography

Escape from the Claws of Death
Escape from the Claws of Death

Note: This post replaces the draft copy I accidentally posted before...

Update: For whatever reason, I'm having trouble linking to the cached version of the article, which I found by searching for "" and "osman". When I try to do a usual link, shortened, with writing over it, I lose the link. When I try to do an end run by listing the whole url it blasts my sidebar out of existence... Ah, yes, just another little bit of technical expertise I haven't picked up yet...

Update: Try going here and following the link. Let's see if that works.

More stories from around America

Banner tourism year keeps up - The Pacific Business News reports that the state of Hawaii is having a very good year for tourism.

...The visitor count, 591,503, was a record for October, and came despite slower Japanese arrivals. Both domestic and Canadian traffic posted strong increases.


Cruise visitor traffic is up more than a third from last year, with 29,659 flying to Hawaii to board cruise ships and another 13,811 sailing to Hawaii on cruise ships.

Year-to-date visitor spending is up around the islands...

Campaigns for U.S. Congress begin for both parties - David Mann, writing in The Kentucky Standard Online, reports that Democrats have found a military combat veteran to take on incumbent Congressman Ron Lewis in the race for Kentucky's second Congressional District. The Democrats are pushing both Mike Weaver's combat experience and his conservatism.

Oshkosh Northwestern - The roads less disheveled - The city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, put an emphasis on road repair in the late 1990s, and it's beginning to pay off, according to Alex Hummel of The Northwestern. This may not be worth mentioning, you think - except that when I was in grade school I was in a plane that made an emergency landing there, and then had one brake fail but not the other one. Very exciting, spinning around up on one wing is, especially when your mother panics and tosses you out of the plane while it's still up on the wing threatening to do cartwheels. My injuries were minor, silly really, but I fell in love with the firemen who came to our rescue. Ever since I've held a soft spot in my heart for Oshkosh. So, if it's had a reputation for bad roads, but city leaders are fixing that problem, I'm happy to tell people about it, for the sake of my childhood heroes. :-)

WWE 2006 | 3rd Annual Workshop on the Weblogging Ecosystem: Aggregation, Analysis and Dynamics

Just so you know, there are people who study the dynamics of the blogosphere. There's an international conference coming up for ecosystem experts in May in Edinburgh - in conjunction with WWW-2006, the 15th Annual International World Wide Web conference. More here and here.

hat tip: BlogPulse

Jockey Gary Stevens retires

Gary Stevens started in Idaho, not too far down the road from where I lived in Oregon - both of us calling the Treasure Valley home at that time - so I have to admit I that I cheered pretty loudly out of plain old hometown spirit when he started making a name for himself at the big tracks, in a big way.

He rode his last race this weekend. See - Jockey Stevens finishes second in last race. According to that article, he finished with 5,005 wins in his career. I can't get my head around that many races, much less that many wins.

For more on Stevens, see his Hall of Fame entry at National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, or see his write-up at IMDb. (He portrayed George Woolf in the movie Seabiscuit.)

Camp Katrina: Murder and Shame in the Arab World

For those of you who have been looking for a Muslim perspective not associated with mad bombers and their apologists, Phil at Camp Katrina has invited guest blogger Amal Chaaban to write a post every Sunday. Her November 27 post is Murder and Shame in the Arab World.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More stories from around America

It's time for another batch of hidden-in-plain-sight stories from smaller papers from around the United States.

Rifle rolls out the red runway - Heidi Rice reports in The Citizen Telegram that folks from the town of Rifle, Colorado, are trying to get the word out to pilots that their airport has been upgraded in recent years and they would be happy to have more business. They've even been handing out coffee mugs and cell phone holders, etc., embossed with the slogan "Request Rifle." On the other hand, they want people to know that they aren't trying to compete with the airports at Eagle or Aspen...

The Columbia Ball begins the debutante season Nov. 23 - I've never lived in an area that had debutantes, and sometimes I forget such places exist. But The Columbia Star of Columbia, South Carolina, notes that the first local ball of the season was held Thanksgiving Eve. I look at the pictures, and rather suspect that at that age I would have loved to have had a chance to dress up and get noticed in the paper looking my best. (Whether I could have handled the pressure is another matter - but I hear that debutantes get training in that sort of thing...)

Cutter Storis to be decommissioned - Megan Holland of the Anchorage Daily News reports that a Coast Guard cutter is being retired after six decades of service. No, correction, it is slated for retirement - in 2007! OK, I can't resist an excerpt (or two):

The Coast Guard cutter Storis is so old it was built with cork insulation instead of fiberglass. The tangle of pipes and wires wandering the 63-year-old vessel's hidden regions can pose a mystery to crewmen.

And if its engine were to break down, the only place to look for a replacement would be in a museum, the Coast Guard says.

The Kodiak-based Storis, the oldest ship in the service's fleet, will be decommissioned in 2007, the Coast Guard announced last week. The cutter Munro, currently homeported in Alameda, Calif., will fill in for it as a faster, better-equipped fisheries enforcement and search-and-rescue vessel until a new ship is built for Alaska waters, the Coast Guard said.

The upgrade is part of the Coast Guard's multiyear $19 billion to $24 billion modernization of its aircraft and cutters that began in 2002.


Cutters, which are what the Coast Guard calls its bigger vessels, have relatively long service lives compared to other military machinery and vehicles. According to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report, medium-endurance cutters like the Storis have average service lives of 30 to 49 years, depending on their size. But "The Queen of the Fleet," as the Storis is called, has been in service more than six decades.

No decision has been made as to what will happen to the 230-foot cutter after it is decommissioned, the Coast Guard said. The Storis could be mothballed, scrapped, sold or donated to become a museum.

In a press release, Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, said, "Storis has been a gallant workhouse for the Coast Guard since World War II and has earned an honored place in Coast Guard history."

Launched in September 1942, the vessel played a role in World War II, and the stories accumulated in the decades since. Thousands of Coast Guardsmen have served on it...

That ought to get you started...

An easy way to find the sorts of stories that the big guys ignore is to go to US Newspaper List. A high percentage of smaller papers use a general template over and over, issue after issue, which means there are no links to a specific story - which can be rather frustrating from a blogging point of view - but there's some good reading and interesting perspectives to be had if you'll take the time to browse.

Addition: Storis history, specs, pictures. This says that the ship's name is a Scandinavian name taken from an Eskimo word for "great ice". She was commissioned as an ice patrol tender. In 1972, she underwent major renovation and was converted from a light icebreaker to a medium endurance cutter.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Weblog Awards: Nominations - Best of the Top 1751 - 2500 Blogs Archive

I hate to admit this, but I got nominated for Wizbang's The Weblog Awards: Best of the Top 1751 - 2500 Blogs clear back on November 15 and, uhm, ahem, didn't notice until today when I checked my stats.

At this point, nominations are closed but finalists haven't been announced.

My thanks to Sherry at Semicolon for nominating me. I'll try very hard to not let it go to my head.

This is not to say that I won't let everyone and sundry know if I wind up being a finalist, mind you, but I will try very hard not to be too obnoxious about it.

Trying to understand what the left hand is doing...

These posts aren't directly related, but each one makes me think of the others, I guess because they are all written by people trying to understand and/or distance themselves from the leftists who took the liberal label and ran away with it without taking the values that used to go along with it. I don't pretend that these posts give a complete picture, but I like that they look at the issue from different perspectives.

Melanie Phillips, writing January 1, 2000, Why I am a progressive

neo-neocon, writing March 5, 2005, Dancing in a ring...

Nick Cohen, writing August 7, 2005, in the Guardian Unlimited, I still fight oppression

Dennis Prager, writing November 22, 2005, The Left Hate Inequality, Not Evil. (Via Bookworm, writing November 22, 2005, Today's morality lesson).

Wall Street Journal editorial, September 13, 1984, reprinted in OpinionJournal May 16, 2005, Liberal Fundamentalism

Heretics, by G.K. Chesterton

Here's an online version of G.K. Chesterton's Heretics, which I found because Amanda Witt featured a nice excerpt from it (on the difference between duty to humanity and duty to one's neighbor) over at Wittingshire.

Semicolon’s Unfinished List of the 100 Best Fiction Books of All Time

Sherry at the Semicolon blog is working on her own list of the 100 best fiction books of all time. She's up to 68...

She also has links to book lists in the same vein made by other people.

Notes in the Key of Life: Hearts at Home--my interview with Jill Savage

Radio personality Cindy Swanson of the Notes in the Key of Life blog is one of my favorite interviewers, hands down. She finds interesting people, and then holds a civil conversation with them (when was the last time you actually learned anything from most interviewers - the ones addicted to put downs and sound bites, that is?).

Here's the written version of her March 4, 2005, interview with author Jill Savage, founder of Hearts at Home. (From the website: "Hearts at Home is a Christ-centered organization which encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood.")

Some of Savage's books are below. Click on a book cover for more information from Barnes & Noble. (Full disclosure: If you order on that visit, I'll get a few cents on the dollar.)

Professionalizing Motherhood
Professionalizing Motherhood

Is There Really Sex After Kids: A Mom-to-Mom Chat on Keeping Intimacy Alive with Kids
Is There Really Sex After Kids: A Mom-to-Mom Chat on Keeping Intimacy Alive with Kids

Creating the Moms Group You've Been Looking for (Hearts at Home Resource Series): Your How-to Manual for Connecting with Other Moms
Creating the Moms Group You've Been Looking for (Hearts at Home Resource Series): Your How-to Manual for Connecting with Other Moms

Got Teens?: Time-Tested Answers for Mom of Teens and Tweens
Got Teens?: Time-Tested Answers for Mom of Teens and Tweens

Hearts at Home has books from other authors as well. See the Heart Shoppe at their website.

Different guys look at New York Times coverage of Islamic suicide bombers

Last night I stumbled upon All The News That's Fit to Print? : The New York Times and Israel, by Tom Gross, March 14, 2003. An excerpt (from a subsection called A Tale of Two Baptists):

On March 4, a 59-year-old American Baptist, William P. Hyde, was among 21 people killed by a suicide bomber in Davao in the southern Philippines. That an American died was made clear in the following day’s New York Times. The Times titled its news report “Bombing Kills An American And 20 Others In Philippines.” The first seven paragraphs concerned Hyde, who had lived and worked in the Philippines since 1978, and another American, Barbara Stevens, who had been “slightly wounded” in the attack. The caption alongside two photos at the top of the front page of that day’s Times also made reference to his death, as did a news summary on page 2. In addition, the paper ran an editorial titled “Fighting Terror in the Philippines.” And a front-page photo of a wounded boy, and the caption that accompanied it, made clear that at least one child had been among the injured.

On the next day (March 5), another American Baptist, 14-year-old Abigail Litle, was among 16 people killed by a suicide bomber on a bus in Haifa, Israel. The story and photo caption in the March 6 Times, tucked at the bottom corner of page 1, made no mention of Abigail’s name. Neither the headline nor the photo caption indicated that an American had died, or that the suicide bomber had deliberately chosen a bus packed with schoolchildren, or that a majority of those killed had been teenagers.

The suicide bombers in both Davao and Haifa were acting on behalf of Muslim fundamentalist groups fighting for separate states...

I wouldn't send your kids over to read the rest of it. But it does show how, again and again, the coverage of the New York Times seemed slanted against Israel - and, at times, Palestinian moderates, too. In his introductory note, Gross includes this:

5. Liberals like myself want to see two democratic states, one predominantly Palestinian Arab and one predominantly Jewish Israeli, coexisting in peace. But we have also followed the conflict closely enough to know that the Western media's misreporting has contributed to the failed policies in the region of both American and European diplomats.

Fast forward to today, when I came across Camp Katrina: An Interesting Omission, which contrasts an AP story and a New York Times story on a bombing outside a hospital south of Baghdad. The AP was kind enough - and responsible enough - to note that the person driving the car bomb targeted U.S. troops handing out food and candy to children. The New York Times just says that a suicide car bomb exploded near an American convoy at the entrance to the hospital, and never got around to why the troops were there or what they were doing. (See the end of this Major K. post for why American troops were at the hospital.)

Now, I don't want anybody reading more into this than they ought. I think the New York Times isn't quite as demonic as some folks like to portray it. But, doggone it, sometimes it does seem to pave the way for trouble instead of report on what's gone on. And sometimes, doggone it, it does seem to side with brutes, or otherwise gnaw at the foundations of civilization with unseemly gusto.

And, all too often, the folks at the New York Times seem to forget that it became the paper of record because it earned that distinction. I was reading an old novel the other day, from decades and decades back, and some characters in it were joking about how some guy couldn't get in the New York Times because what he had to say couldn't be double-checked and cross-referenced several different ways.

These days, no matter your credentials or experience or reliability, if you say something the reporters and editors think certain 'elites' want to hear...

That's what it looks like, anyway. I'd like to be wrong on this. Tell me I'm wrong. - New Orleans zoo reopens after Katrina

Good news, from AP, as carried at CNN:

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- Thousands of people, some in tears, streamed into the Audubon Zoo on Friday, the first day it was open since Hurricane Katrina.

Members of Audubon Nature Institute, which operates the zoo, were among the first visitors, with general public admission scheduled for Saturday, according to the Audubon Nature Institute.

"It's a city without kids and families, and a city without kids and families is a city without soul and heart," said Ron Forman, president of Audubon Nature Institute. "So we just thought it was critical to get the thing open for Thanksgiving weekend."

The reopening was so emotional for many visitors that the zoo decided to post huggers at the front gates, Forman said.

"As people walk in, they're crying," he said. "This is a time of sadness in this city."

Uh, I guess never mind about the people crying with happiness or relief? Let's hope Mr. Forman was quoted out of context, or something.

Full story

Friday, November 25, 2005

Expat Yank: How They Would Cover It Today

Robert at Expat Yank takes a guess at how someone using today's prevalent journalistic approach would have covered Abraham Lincoln's dedication of the U.S. military cemetery at Gettysburg. It isn't pretty.

2,000-Year-Old Seed Sprouts, Sapling Is Thriving

John Roach, writing for National Geographic News (November 22, 2005), reports that researchers in Israel who started with a date seed that's about 2,000 years old now have a plant that's about three feet high and doing well, thanks. As if that weren't a good enough story, the seed was one of a batch of seeds taken from an excavation at Masada, the historic Jewish fortress.

hat tip: Crossing the Rubicon2

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Saint-Exupery's "Generation to Generation"

Amanda Witt has a wonderful short piece by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author of the book The Little Prince), which begins:

In a house which becomes a home,
one hands down and another takes up
the heritage of mind and heart,
laughter and tears, musings and deeds.
Love, like a carefully loaded ship,
crosses the gulf between the generations.
Therefore, we do not neglect the ceremonies
of our passage: when we wed, when we die,
and when we are blessed with a child;
When we depart and when we return;
When we plant and when we harvest.
Let us bring up our children. It is not
the place of some official to hand to them
their heritage...

She also has background on the author in the same post.

Children and manners, parents and boundaries

Jane at Cozy Reader started a discussion on children and discipline with this post, and Joan picked it up and ran with it over at Daddy's Roses with Children and Boundaries (which incorporates a comment of mine at Jane's blog...). Feel free to join in.

Major K. in the spotlight

Jay Tea of Wizbang has decided to feature a Milblog of the Week. He's asking for nominations here.

The first blog in the Wizbang weekly spotlight is Major K. I've been over there browsing his blog, and the Major has some great posts.

For instance:

--Heroism Part II (An Iraqi soldier stops a kidnapping.)

--And now, something funny... (Iraqis choosing Christmas songs for ring tones on their cell phones. No, really.)

--With all due respect, Sir, I completely disagree. (One of the best responses I've read yet to Congressman John Murtha's call for a rapid withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. No mudslinging. Just some history, some reasoning, and a reminder that the military "works to a standard, not to a schedule".)

(Update: Yes, that was a silly typo I did on the first round. It's fixed now.)

Nepali update

While reflecting on my blessings (it's Thanksgiving Day today in the United States, for those who don't know), it occurred to me that I hadn't checked recently to see how things were going in Nepal these days. (Last time I checked, things looked very bad over there.) Checking in with the United We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal site, the photograph with this post jumped out at me. (Don't worry, it's just a picture of a little girl, with a lot going on behind her eyes, as the saying goes.)

And then this jumped out at me. I didn't know there were huge democracy demonstrations, with thousands of people in the streets, just last weekend in Nepal. Did you?

Upon reading the text that goes with the photos from the demonstrations, I see that at least some of the demonstrations were lined up by folks you and I might not consider steady and reliable allies on a march toward a free and healthy, peaceful and prosperous society (emphasis mine):

Those people were not paid money to be there. They were not brought there with a free ride. They were there spontaneously. In fact, they struggled with security forces, administration network and state-mobilized vigilantes to get into the pro-democracy rally organized by the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist and Leninist) or CPN UML. It is shame that government tried to stop people from participating in that demo.

At a wild guess, the CPN UML idea of a democracy and mine might be a wee bit different? I don't know. (Hang on while blogger googles...)

Oops. Yes. They openly want a socialist state, not a republic. From the party's Ideology and People's Movement page:

The CPN (UML) is a political representative of the working and patriotic people of Nepal. The Party is firmly committed to nationalism, democracy, equality and justice and to enhance progress and prosperity of the people. The Party upholds the principles of socialism and pursues the road of People's Multi-Party Democracy which is a creative application of Marxism and Leninism in the Nepalese condition. Consolidation of democracy, strengthening people's sovereign rights, changing the socio-economic relation and acceleration of the economic development in the country are the major concerns of the Party. Periodical election and the government of the majority, pluralism, rule of law, human rights are other important elements of the People's Multi-Party Democracy. Economically self sustained society, quality education and health service, full employment and social security are also important features of the Party program aiming to achieve the welfare state. The Party fully believes in the harmony and the unity among the people of all religions, castes, communities and ethnic groups living in different geographical regions of the country. The Party works against any discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste, ethnicity, sex and geographical region.

The Party believes that the material development of society should be closely linked with the spiritual upliftment of the people and it should be guided by the ideals of democracy and socialism. The Party adheres Marxism - Leninism as its guiding principle and socialism its goals to achieve.

Oh, is that what they mean over there when they say "democracy"?

We need new terminology or something, folks. Every time I turn around, someone else is using "democracy" to mean something different. I'm not too sure it's a good thing when we sound like we're talking about the same thing, but aren't. I know I can't keep all this straight...

Related earlier posts: Influencing Those Who Influence the Influential Here, We the Congressmen Respectfully Ask Your Majesty, and Radio Free Nepal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Annotated Bibliography on Thanksgiving

Catie Korkosz has a round-up of children's books of various types, all of them related in some way to Thanksgiving.

"'Tis I, Oceanus Hopkins..."

Cartoonist Gary Cangemi just did a Mayflower/Pilgrim theme in his Umbert the Unborn comic strip, featuring a spirited unborn boy named Oceanus Hopkins, en route to America in his mother's womb. The first entry is here. Follow-up entries here, here, here, here, here, here.

There was a real boy named Oceanus Hopkins, born en route to America on the Mayflower, in case you were wondering.

This list of passengers on Mayflower mentions him. That website ( has quite a bit on the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, and early Plymouth Colony.

This children's story by Margaret B. Pumphrey, about being on the Mayflower, includes a passage on how Oceanus got his name.

Michelle Malkin : The Thankful Tree

Michelle Malkin's kindergarten age daughter came home excited about a new project at school - The Thankful Tree. She thought they should have one at home...

I like the idea.

Stages of a young man's life

This was published a couple of years ago in a small, regional publication I helped put together, and people seemed to like it. I hope the people who read it then will bear with me while I trot it out for an encore. :-)

Stages of a young man’s life
c.2003 Kathryn Judson

1. Eat and sleep a lot. Can’t walk.
2. Can’t cross the street without holding a grown-up’s hand.
3. Finally allowed to cross street alone.
4. Can’t drive car without an instructor.
5. Finally allowed to drive car alone.
6. Go off to school to prove independence.
7. Ask for extra money from parents. Whichever parent you ask gives in.
8. Ask for more money from parents. Find that parents, now over shock of separation, have started calculating how much you’ve cost them over your lifetime. Might possibly be working on bill for services rendered.
9. Ask for handouts from grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, old friends, new friends, government, and also the parent showing the most wavering, in desperate attempt to continue to live like a dependent.
10. Finally get job.
11. Spend too much in anticipation of first paycheck. Lose face with new employer by asking for an advance.
12. Finally get a few pay periods under your belt. Slowly recovering from shock of how much is withheld for government. Reassess ideas about how wonderful government programs really are.
13. Discover the joys of independence. Declare yourself weaned of handouts. Feel better about yourself than ever before in your life.
14. Still manage to spend more than you make. Discover inconveniences of being weaned.
15. Start to get hang of living within budget.
16. Fall in love. Don’t care about budget. Budgets do not allow enough for gifts to beloved.
17. Find out the hard way that current girlfriend cares more about the gifts than about you.
18. Repeat stage 17 several times.
19. Meet woman who starts looking ahead to life with gifts but not grocery money and isn’t sure she likes the idea. Finally get it through your head that this bodes well for you – if you can stop acting like an idiot. For reasons that are not entirely clear, you have never been half so prone to stupid missteps as you are around this woman.
20. Get engaged.
21. Beloved bride-to-be who was consternating about savings account and future earnings potential finds herself, despite herself, planning a wedding that both families combined cannot possibly afford.
22. Everybody panics.
23. Wedding somehow comes off.
24. Bride and groom do not make it out the door for their honeymoon before being pulled apart by new in-laws, who have instructions on what to bring to their house for Thanksgiving dinner.
25. Finally grab your bride and escape the church. In the background, over the sounds of well-wishers, you hear your mother and hers patiently (or not) explaining to each other what they have independently decided regarding your travel plans for every holiday between now and the end of time.
26. First Thanksgiving arrives. Try to appease both families by eating early dinner at one house, later dinner at the other.
27. Eat so much you can’t walk.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Battle flags captured by British officer to be auctioned

I seem to have missed the story of Lt. Col. Banastre "Bloody Ban" Tarleton before, but it seems that during the American Revolution, some of his troops killed about a hundred Virginian troops who had already surrendered. According to American accounts, Tarleton ordered the slaughter. According to Tarleton, somebody shot his horse after a truce was declared and when his horse fell and pinned him to the ground some of the loyalists ran amok. (All this according to this article in the Washington Times written by Will Bennett.)

Whatever really happened, rightly or wrongly Col. Tarleton was dubbed "Bloody Ban" and the phrase "Tarleton's quarter" was used to mean 'take no prisoners,' Bennett says.

Sometime next year, four battle flags Tarleton took back to England with him will be auctioned at Sotheby's in New York, his "great-great-great-great nephew" finding them too expensive to keep insured. (I hope to shout. They are expected to bring between $4 million and $10 million...).

For a picture of Tarleton painted by Joshua Reynolds, see here or here.

I first ran across this story today in the above-linked Washington Times article. In that article, by the way, it says that the captured flags are what are at the feet of Tarleton in the Reynolds painting.

Upon looking, I find that the story has been all over.

For instance, Stripes, Stars and Dollar Signs by Glenn Collins (New York Times, November 11) has pictures and the interesting news that the auction might be held on Flag Day, June 14. Catchy, that would be. (Collins reports that the flags at Tarleton's feet in the Reynolds painting are generic Continental flags, not specifically these that have come up for sale.)

The Collins article also states that in the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot, evil British commander Col. William Tavington was based in part on Tarleton. The real fellow's descendants, quite understandably, think the characterization is not fair. (Noted.)

Collins also reports:

"This is an incredible find," said Walter H. Bradford, acting chief of collections at the United States Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., which under federal law maintains the Army's flag collection. "They are extremely rare. The Army would be very interested in acquiring them. We don't have those kinds of funds, but we could accept the gift of a private individual."

(Just in case you know any philanthropists who have a soft spot for the military...)

Oh, rats. On closer look, I see that in the New York Times piece, the story is that Tarleton's heir says that:

In the telephone interview, Captain Tarleton Fagan said his ancestor "has been given a much worse name than he should have" for the Waxsaws bloodshed. "His horse was shot from under him, and his troops thought he'd been killed," his descendant said. Angered, they "went to town and butchered people - which was monstrous - and Tarleton got the blame for it."

Don't you just love it when you run across something for the first time, and the first two references you check have different accounts altogether? I don't have time to follow this up today. Maybe someday...

The London Daily Telegraph has the same Will Bennett story that ran in the Washington Times today (but with pictures). The headline there is "Americans to pay millions to recapture battle flags." That's not a bad way of looking at it, I'm sure, if you're on the British side of all this.

The Washington Times story (which clearly lists Will Bennett as being from the London Daily Telegraph - no one's trying to be sneaky here), runs the story under the headline, "Battle flags captured by Bloody Ban return."

It's all a matter of perspective, I guess. :-)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cozy Reader

Another new blog find. Jane is a former teacher, a minister's wife, and loves books. She started the Cozy Reader blog October 22. At the top of her blog, she says:

I am a reading fanatic. I feel lost without a book. In this forum I want to share book recommendations, daily happenings in my life and my thoughts on current events. Maybe you will find something of interest to you and hopefully something that may be entertaining. Join me.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Jane. I like what you have up so far.

Daddy's Roses: 1000th Visitor

Joan of the Daddy's Roses blog is closing in on her 1,000th visitor and is offering a small prize to the lucky person who hits it just on the dot.

C'mon. You remember how exciting it was to reach that first 1,000 mark, yes? Help her get there by her birthday!

In the Teeth of the Evidence, by Dorothy Sayers

I've been reading a bit in In the Teeth of the Evidence, a collection of short stories by Dorothy Sayers. It is billed, I see, in several places on the Internet as a Lord Peter Wimsey book. Uh, well, yes and no. My copy (Avon, mass market paperback, eighth printing) has two - count 'em two - Wimsey short stories, five Montague Egg stories, and ten "other" stories. Just so you know.

The title appears to be out of print except in audio.

There aren't as many used copies available as I expected - but there are still quite a few, including some quite inexpensive ones.

In the Teeth of the Evidence and Other Stories (6 Cassettes)
In the Teeth of the Evidence and Other Stories (6 Cassettes)

The original copyright for this title was 1940, by Dorothy Leigh Sayers Fleming. The copyright was renewed in 1967 by Anthony Fleming.

Texas State Board of Education removes itself from National Association of State School Boards

I received an e-mailed press release today about a move by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to disassociate itself from National Association of State School Boards (NASBE). In the release, Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo explains the reasons behind the breakaway. For example:

Stating that NASBE's policies continue to gravitate to liberal left, Leo cited three current policy decisions which she feels do not reflect a proper balance. Leo questioned the NASBE October 2004 publication on citizenship education. "Under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, the publication listed only the words 'Separation of Church and State,' a phrase that does not even appear in the Bill of Rights. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase 'separation of church and state' eleven years after the Bill of Rights was passed; he was writing to allay the fears of the Danbury Baptists who had heard a rumor that a national religion was going to be established. NASBE should promote correct information and not misinformation. Why didn't NASBE mention the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment for peaceable assembly, freedom of the press, and the petition of the government for redress of grievances? Are these no longer important for students to learn?"

Leo continued by saying, "Why should we entrust NASBE with developing and funding a national curriculum on civics education when the editors of the NASBE publication think that 'separation of church and state' is a proper condensation of what the Bill of Rights says?"

I've filed the press release in its entirety at The Suitable For Mixed Company Annex.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

ScrappleFace: Under Senate Pressure, Bush Reveals Iraq Strategy


Castle Coalition: Think Successful Redevelopment Requires Eminent Domain? Think Again.

From Seattle to Florida, time and again (and again and again) there have been successful urban revitalization projects without using or threatening to use eminent domain. See here for an editorial outlining some of the success stories.

Ohio Governor Bob Taft has signed limited eminent domain moratorium

It sounds like Ohio residents have a fighting chance to clamp down on eminent domain abuse, if only they can mobilize well enough during the next year. Here is a news release from Governor Bob Taft's office:


COLUMBUS (November 16, 2005) –
Governor Bob Taft today announced that he has signed the following bill, which will be filed with the Secretary of State’s office.

Amended Substitute Senate Bill 167, sponsored by State Senator Timothy Grendell (R-Chesterland), establishes, until December 31, 2006, a moratorium on the use of eminent domain to take, without the owner’s consent, private property when the primary purpose for the taking is economic development. The bill also creates the legislative task force to study eminent domain and its use and application in the state. The bill goes into effect immediately after it is signed by the Governor and filed with the Secretary of State.

I'd like to note that there is at least one huge loophole in this bill, from where I sit. From a press release from Tim Grendell's campaign site (he wants to be Ohio Attorney General) titled Grendell Bill Suspending Eminent Domain Becomes Law, it appears this only applies to so-called "non-blighted" properties. If I'm translating this correctly, if a city says it's fighting blight instead of merely pursuing economic develpment, it might be able to waltz right past all this, beauty being in the eye of the beholder...

People working on protective legislation in other states might want to fight for better bills than this one. That's not to say that this isn't a step in the right direction. It's just that various and sundry city officials across the country have proven themselves happy to use very broad definitions of "blight" in the past, and I'm not convinced that enough of them see any reason to change their attitudes now.

Elephants in Academia heads into second year

Happy (belated) first blogoversary wishes to Academic Elephant, who celebrated one year of blogging yesterday.

Leave it to a professor to thank people for being "supportive of her freshman year." :-)

Now, as long as she doesn't do that strange attitude thing that sophomores are infamous for, we should be all right...

(Like I'm worried?)

The Common Room: Simple Toys

All right, you have one old corncob and three feathers. What can you make?

That post, by the way, has a link to a website with information on games and toys of Eastern Woodland Indian Peoples. There are several online interactive games as well. I actually did quite well at Ojibwemowin!, an Ojibwe Language Game. Go figure.

Exhibits and events at the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum

I was looking for something specific on President Carter and was trying his library's website. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I found the current list of exhibits and events. Check out items three and four here:

"First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image" - October 22, 2005 - January 16, 2006 - Free with paid admission to the Museum A memorable, one-of-a-kind exhibition, "First Ladies" recounts the exciting sweep of American presidential and cultural history, while offering a rarely examined account of women's political history in the United States. First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image was developed by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Behring Center, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. First Ladies is made possible by A&E Network...

William E. Leuchtenburg - The White House Looks South - Monday, November 21, 2005 at 7:30 pm - Free and Open to the Public Mr. Leuchtenburg will discuss his new book, The White House Looks South: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson more...

Al Franken - "The Truth (with jokes)" - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. in the Day Chapel - Free and Open to the Public Comic and author Al Franken will discuss his new book, "The Truth (with jokes)". This program is co-sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book and A Cappella Books. more...

The E.W. Oliver Elementary School Choir - Monday, December 12, 2005 at 12 noon - Free and Open to the Public The E.W. Oliver Elementary School Choir will return to the Carter Museum lobby to sing Christmas Caroles. The program lasts about half-an-hour. more...

Did I read that right? Al Franken will discuss his book in a chapel? And an elementary school choir will get to sing "Christmas Caroles" in the lobby?

I am waiting with bated breath for the freedom-from-religion folks to pounce on Franken and the folks who run the Carter Library...

No, that's not true.

I just wish the rest of us could have "Christmas Caroles" in our local government-administered lobbies without someone threatening a lawsuit. That would be better.

Less pouncing. More singing. I could go for that.

Friday, November 18, 2005

New Blog: The Reading Teacher

The Reading Teacher says:

This is a place for the discussion of the teaching of reading and children's literature. Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Carol has had this particular blog up about a month, but I just found it today. You might want to pop over and say howdy, at the very least. She's posted on quite a few of her favorite books already.

Not that anybody who reads my blog likes to discuss books, or anything ;-)

Yesterday's News: Thursday, Nov. 5, 1959: A homemade burglar alarm

OK, I'm showing my age, but I identify with this newspaper article about burglars caught by a burglar alarm made with a rotary-dial phone, a cork, and string.

C'mon, all you other middle-aged (and older) folks. Before you click here, how would you have made a burglar alarm using a phone like we grew up with?

You can do it. You watched all those television shows encouraging ingenuity that I did... You've lived through a make-it-yourself craze or two...

Poll alert

The current poll question at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty is "Should control of the Internet be shifted from the United States to the United Nations?" (The poll is beneath the "Press Room" section in the middle of the page. Scroll down.)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blogger KING: Growing up after the tsunami

Margaret Larson, a former news anchor at KING 5 (Seattle), recently visited the South Asia tsunami area on behalf of World Vision. From her post for the KING 5 blog:

... Nurmiliani was pregnant with Awil when the tsunami hit on December 26, 2004. She, her husband and their then 4-year old son saw the enormous black waves breaking over the tops of the tall coconut trees in the distance, and ran for their lives...

The thought of her unborn child kept her feet moving long after she was exhausted. They were able to reach higher ground, but the husband's family was lost, their village destroyed, the site of their former home still underwater.

Awil grins and chews on his fingers and has no idea that his family is facing such difficult times. His father has no job, and the family has no money as yet to rebuild. For a couple of months, they all lived in a flimsy tent by a busy road. With heavy rains and high winds, Nurmiliani was terrified that baby Awil would not survive. But at that point, Federal Way based aid agency World Vision stepped in to provide sturdy transitional housing for families all across the region. Awil now lives among other families from his original village, and though the economic future is uncertain, there is comradery and support and a sense of community for his start in the world.

World Vision has concentrated on the lives of children in Banda Aceh, offering special "Child Friendly Centers" where children can play and create artwork and recover from the trauma of such a massive natural catastrophe....

Full post here | Elderly Ore. man survives three days in a ravine

Sometimes missing person cases have happy endings.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

People of the Book : How to Have a Good Day

Jim Manney shares a quote from St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, that might be good to remember if you're prone to being too hard on yourself or are feeling a little overwhelmed by what you want to get done.

Regarding before the Iraq War, now, slogans, and memories

Norman Podhoretz asks "Who is Lying About Iraq?" (At OpinionJournal)

The RNC lets the Dems speak for themselves... (via Betsy's Page). OK, so it provides clips of them from 1998, 2002, etc...

I often look at national politics in this country, and think of the book Animal Farm. Honestly. Specifically, I think of the pigs on the farm repainting the end of the barn with new slogans, and then pretending that it's always been that way. Go figure. Silly me.

Student group eases burden at funerals

Wow. A Pallbearer Society. The members are high school students. Hooray for these young men. Robert L. Smith of The Plain Dealer has the story.

hat tip: Dev, who led me to Amy Welborn, who had the link...

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Such a cute gorilla

Nicholas Carr looks at one of the latest moves by Google - giving away tools for analyzing web ads - and what Google stands to gain from it.

Myrna Blyth on the new British citizenship test

Myrna Blyth compares the citizenship tests of the United States and Britain here. They couldn't be more different, she says.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tell me again why guys shouldn't open doors for us...

I am trying to remember back to my college days, specifically why in the Sam Hill our feminist flock cackled every time a guy held a door open for a woman, or helped her on with her coat, or held her chair for her as she sat down, or whatever other nice little bit of extra attention he bestowed.

I seem to remember that we were supposed to think the guys were being patronizing.

Who. Were. We. Trying. To. Kid???

The thought comes up because the other day, as I was leaving the post office, a guy in work coveralls, a bit scruffy, black-smeared, was coming toward the post office, saw me, and jogged to reach the door in time to open it for me. I said "Thank you, sir" as I went by him, and he stood two inches taller. I don't know this guy, and I presume he doesn't know me. There was nothing personal about it. Just a guy seeing me, registering "lady", and making a point to show a little extra courtesy.

I love this kind of stuff.

The point comes up because today, as I was heading out of the bank, a teen boy with jewelry bodily attached all over the place made a point of holding the door for me. I don't know this kid, for that matter I dislike jewelry studs in odd places, but I said "Thank you, sir" as I went by him, and he smiled a smile I took to mean "You're welcome." Imagine that. Two cultures crossing paths and being nice to each other.

It happens all the time, at doorways where people hold the door for other people.

I'm not a hardliner. I hold doors for guys, too, if I get there first or if they have packages and I don't. But I have come to appreciate the guys who make sure that ladies get a little extra consideration.

I also have hope for the future. Today, for instance, as I was coming out of the post office, two boys who looked like ranch kids were coming in. I'd have to say they were brothers. They were giving each other a very bad time. But between them they ceased hostilities long enough to see that they held the door for me, and then they went back to their friendly squabbling. I didn't say "Thank you, gentlemen," but only because the way they were chattering I couldn't get a word in edgewise.

But, hey, if even boys at play can remember their manners regarding womenfolk, that's a good sign, yes?

A couple of weeks ago, I was at McDonalds. A father called out to his son, about five years old at a guess. "Hey, Bud, be sure and get the door for the ladies." The kid headed to the door ahead of his mother and sister, and threw his whole body into opening the door. He had to. With his size, it took a mighty effort. "Be sure and hold it until the ladies get all the way through," his Dad instructed.

I was headed out, and joined the procession.

And got the door in my face, as the boy took off like a shot to get the car doors open.

Apparently, the kid only keyed in on his mother and sister when told to watch out for the ladies. At his age, that might be a good thing, of course. You don't want very young lads running around making themselves useful to strangers after all.

I got a good laugh out of it. And a bit of hope.

There are families out there teaching their boys good manners and extra respect for ladies. Yay!

Addition: Welcome to the folks coming over from Doors and Bores over at The Common Room. - Emus and ostriches are worlds apart

I don't know about your part of the world, but we have a few places around here where people raise emus and/or ostriches, or just have one or two as a pet. (Not my idea of a pet. I'm afraid of their kicks.)

Use the title link for April Holladay's WonderQuest column in USA Today on what's the same and what's different between emus and ostriches. The column has several links to other sites with more information.

Eminent domain abuse fought in Missouri

Attention St. Louis, Missouri, residents. There will be a town hall forum on eminent domain this Saturday. From the Castle Coalition website's Rallies and Events page:

Sponsored by: State Senator Maida Coleman

Hosted by:
Missouri Eminent Domain Abuse Coalition and the St. Louis City Coalition Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse

Saturday, November 19, 9:00am to 12:00 noon

Forest Park Community College in the cafeteria at the south end of center building

Details: Attorneys Michael Wolff and Irene Smith will discuss how eminent domain use has changed over the past 50 years and describe two current court cases. 11 state representatives and 3 senators who represent St. Louis City have been invited to attend this forum. Individuals will be able to testify about eminent domain abuse.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Some folks in Kurdistan say "Thank you"

May I suggest that you go here, and then go down to the "Adverts from The Other Iraq Campaign 2005" and watch "Thank You." I suspect you'll be glad you did. I know it made me feel good.

(Thanks to The Anchoress for sending me to Gateway Pundit, who had the link.)

A Dad Is Born blog

Mark Correa, editorial page editor at the Courier-Post newspaper, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and his wife Amanda are expecting a baby. He's writing a blog about it. See his October 27 post for the background post.

This is definitely a guy's blog :-). See, for instance, Nov. 1:

Amanda really hated my idea of selling the naming rights to the baby. I still think it was well planned and would have worked fine...


CourierPostOnline - Three eminent-domain foes elected in South Jersey

This week, property protectors from both parties won in Westville, New Jersey. The winning candidates were backed by a grassroots group formed in January in opposition to a proposed redevelopment project.

Since the Supreme Court more or less threw us to the wolves with Kelo, I guess it's up to us to elect sheepdogs, eh?

hat tip: Castle Coalition

How Things Work

My thanks to the University of Virginia for How Things Work, a website devoted to "Explaining the physics of everyday life."

Monterey County Herald | Jordan attacks hit close to home

Monterey, California, reporter Dania Akkad's uncle and cousin Rima were among those killed in the recent bomb attacks at hotels in Jordan. Rima was like a sister to her.

My condolences, Dania.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mommy Life: Loudoun celebrates Veterans Day

Here's a school district that takes Veterans Day seriously.

Remarks at the Veterans Day Ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

A voice from the past: President Ronald Reagan, November 11, 1988. (Available in text or mp3 audio.)

Gypsy Vanner Horses

Tell me these aren't cool horses !

Yesterday's news, from Minnesota

The Star Tribune (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota), is mining its archives and putting together regular historical features on a 'blog' called Yesterday's News.

For an example, here's Sunday, Oct. 13, 1918: Flu outbreak closes churches, schools, theaters, for those of us wanting to know a little more about the "Spanish Influenza" pandemic.

The Edmund Fitzgerald remembered

The Star Tribune has a wonderful interactive feature and articles on the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank thirty years ago. Thanks to Amanda at Wittingshire for steering me to Doug at Bogus Gold, who steered me to the special feature at the 'Strib'.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Wardrobe Door: Feel all better

What would we do without three-year-olds?

GM's Corner : Bloggers Need YOUR Help... Not Tomorrow - TODAY!!!

GM Roper has gotten notice that Congress is considering two bills that will affect bloggers - one good, one bad. His call to immediate action is here.

Mackubin Thomas Owens on the Marine Corps on National Review Online

From an associate dean of academics and a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.:

On November 10, 1775, 230 years ago, the Continental Congress authorized the formation of two battalions of Marines. Tradition says that the earliest recruiting of Marines took place at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, owned by Robert Mullan, who later became a Continental Marine officer. The Marines' first operation was a raid on a British base in the Bahamas. As I like to say, the Marine Corps was formed in a bar and then immediately went on a Caribbean cruise.

The Marine Corps has the reputation of being one of the finest fighting organizations in history. In his wonderful book First to Fight, Lt. Gen. Victor H. "Brute" Krulak recounts a discussion he had early in his distinguished career with a senior Marine NCO. To Krulak's query about how the Marines had come by their reputation, the old Gunny replied, "Well, lieutenant, they started right out telling everybody how great they were. Pretty soon they got to believing it themselves. And they have been busy ever since proving they were right."

Read the rest of the article here.

For more information on the book he recommends (or to order), click on the book cover.

First to Fight (Bluejacket Books Series): An inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps
First to Fight (Bluejacket Books Series): An inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps

Barbara Pasquet James on France on National Review Online

In The Writing Was on the Wall, Barbara Pasquet James talks about visiting a friend who lived in one of the quartiers sensibles around Paris in the early 1990s.

Dog lover refuses to give up on pet

Meet Sam, the dog on wheels (Scotsman, November 10, 2005, reported by Jane Bradley).

And if the picture that accompanies this article doesn't make you smile, I don't know what would. :-)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


...on how to be happy.

...on how quickly life passes.

She'll never live it down

Earlier today I linked to a post over at Wittingshire, which relates a story of hiding things in the oven, and then turning on the oven... I ended with a crack about 'at least the house didn't burn down'...

It turns out this was a day for house fire stories. Not too long after I posted, some neighbors noticed a roaring chimney fire at a house up the hill from us and called 911. The firefighters got there and knocked on the door. No answer. They thought maybe the back entrance would be easier to force, so they went around there and were about to bash in when they looked in the window and saw the lady of the house sitting in the living room, probably about five feet from them - watching television. The chimney, you understand, is doing a very good imitation of a blowtorch, the fire has spread to the attic and the rafters - and she's kicking back and watching TV.

It gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view). As we hear it (I haven't talked to the lady in question, but we're fairly sure of this since some firefighters let it out), B---- had noticed a fire in the chimney earlier. Sparks had rained on her carpet. She had put out those fires with a couple of cups of water - and then had gone back to her show.

She's old, but she's not that old.

Her family and friends will remind her of this for years, I'll just bet.

I hear the fire was kept contained to the roof and attic. I hope so. Even at that, this is a bad time of year to have holes in the house. It's cold. We're having rain and snow off and on, separately or mixed, at least as often as we're having clear skies. I assume there's water damage from the fire hoses. Ugh. At least she and her husband have family in town, if they need help or a place to sleep.

In the town about a dozen miles east of here, I understand that another family lost its house altogether from fire today. I heard that the Red Cross got called in to find them emergency shelter. I guess they don't have anybody near at hand.

It's that time of year. We get a lot of chimney fires around here in winter, especially early winter. People just don't seem to think to clean them between seasons. Or they toss any old flammable stuff in to burn, without thinking about the rules about what's safe to burn in fireplaces. (I have a special beef with folks who burn treated wood, and send nasty fumes out into the town for the rest of us to choke on. Shame on people like that. I like wood smoke, within limits. But toxic fumes I can do without, thanks.)

You-all who have chimneys, take proper care of them now. Please.

And, uh, if your chimney kicks a bunch of sparks out at you, turn off the TV and pay attention, OK?

(Or at least answer the door when the firefighters pound on it.)

I wish I knew what show is so good that it can keep you riveted even during a disaster on the premises...

Camp Katrina round-up

Spc. Phil Van Treuren is on a roll over at Camp Katrina. After dithering about which post to highlight, I've decided to toss my hands in the air, give up trying to be picky, and link to the top contenders.

While Europe Thinks, We Shoot Back (On British soldiers being afraid to defend themselves because of fears of ending up in court.)

Good For Them (Some Iraqis aim for a tourist trade.)

England Nixes Mixed-Sex Training (Women are different from men, government discovers.)

Time to Regroup on the Whole Torture Thing (Some folks on the right are sending the wrong message.)

I've Got Your Rotation Right Here, Pal (In which AP makes a possible reduction in troops look like an increase in troops.)

More Good Work in Pakistan (A military field hospital treats its 1,000th patient.)

GM's Corner : One Year Old ~ And Still Growing

Happy one year blog anniversary to GM's Corner. Click here to help give GM Roper and Woody great stats for their celebration... :-)

While you're there you can read GM's 'story behind the blog'.

WorldWatch - The End of Moderation? (The Ornery American)

Orson Scott Card looks at Brent Scowcroft, Harriet Miers, so-called realism, idealism, "courage and core", Big Money, Fanatical Money, and more in The End of Moderation?. If you are not familiar with Card's columns, here's a hint. You should never read just part of one. If you walk away in the middle you'll likely have the wrong idea about what he's trying to say. Stick it out. The guy's thoughtful in ways that most people aren't.

At Least You Didn't Do This Today (Wittingshire blog)

Having once upon a time hidden something in the oven at the last second to have the appearance of a tidy kitchen for guests - and then regretting it immediately because it called for way too much remembering - don't use the oven before clearing it out, don't use the oven before clearing it out, don't... - I can identify with this post by Amanda Witt. It's kind of one of those "there but for the Grace of God go I" things with me. (But, of course, you've never hidden things in the oven or the dishwasher or...)

At least the house didn't burn down. So we're allowed to laugh, right?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The American Enterprise: French Musings

Wilfred M. McClay writes on France, the difference between religious America and secular Europe, and on elites and non-elites on both sides of the pond. He uses as his starting point a conference he recently attended at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

One bit I want for my files:

...Yet what set of values can energize the French and other Europeans to reclaim their culture? It is said that you can’t fight something with nothing, and now that it is under fire, secular hedonism seems, in effect, to be fairly close to nothing. In this connection, a small but indicative detail emerging from this conference has remained in my mind. One of the presenters, a British sociologist who has done extensive polling on religion and religious identity across Europe, discovered that a significant number of the French (somewhere around 10 percent, as I recall) insist upon identifying themselves both as atheists and as Catholics. How to explain this? I doubt they are “Santayana Catholics,” who embrace the rituals and symbolism as a form of poetry, while rejecting the faith itself. The speaker himself said that he believes these Frenchmen were using “Catholic” as a passive cultural (or, in more Huntingtonian terms, civilizational) identity marker. In other words, it was a convenient (and not entirely socially unacceptable) way of saying “I am European, white, and not a Muslim.”

To say “Christian” apparently would imply positive belief in a way that they aren't willing to do. Thus, “Catholic,” to them, is not so demanding as a moniker. But somehow I think this is likely to be just a way station for them, and I greatly fear it's more on the way to being “white” than anything else. Such cultural use of religious markers tends to mangle and degrade the religion they batten upon. I’m reminded of the famous joke about the Irish terrorist who grabs an unsuspecting fellow, hauls him into an alley, and demands at knifepoint to know whether he is a Protestant or a Catholic. The man calmly replies, “Actually, I’m an atheist.” Impatient with such fine points, the mugger insists, “Are ye a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?” The joke is, of course, no joke at all.

hat tip: Joseph Knippenberg's post Europe’s "regressive" future? at No Left Turns.

I-90 reopens after rockslide closure at Snoqualmie Pass ...

...but it's not up to full capacity yet. There's only one lane in each direction at the pass, with reduced speeds. Drivers are being told to allot an extra hour for the trip, and to consider detours through Stevens Pass on Highway 2 or White Pass on Highway 12. More.

The Anchoress : An Email from Marianne in France

The Anchoress shares, with permission, parts of an email she received from a reader in France. It's bad enough when your neighbors want you dead. When the media plays along with the violent neighbors, though...

Another Anchoress post on the troubles in France, It's economic! It's social!, has several links to other news and blog posts.

Jimmy Carter versus Francisco Flores on liberation theology

This is a two-part post. The first part is to note that Bret Stephens, writing recently at Opinion Journal, seriously dislikes former President Jimmy Carter's new book. His review begins:

Jimmy Carter's 20th book is a tedious meditation about the appropriate uses of moral values in political life--as wisely and humbly exemplified by Himself--and of their misuses under the current Bush administration.

But tedious isn't quite the right word here, because it suggests mere boredom while Mr. Carter's prose manages to be irritating as well. Is there an English-language equivalent to the German Rechthaberei, which loosely translates as the state of thinking and behaving as if you're in the right and everyone else is in the wrong? Yet even such a term doesn't quite capture the sanctimony, the self-congratulation, the humorlessness, the convenient factual omissions and the passive-aggressive quirks that characterize our 39th president's aggressively passive world view. Mr. Carter is sui generis. He deserves his own word.

So, you will agree that he seems to seriously dislike the book, yes? Not to mention the author? Try to put that to the side for now, please...

Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis
Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis

...because here comes the part that caught my eye, perhaps because Latin America is in the news right now, or perhaps because I recently read a dynamite speech about the amazing transformation of El Salvador. In any case, the following part of Stephen's review jumped out at me (emphasis added):

Everything about "Our Endangered Values" is wrong, beginning, obviously, with the title. The values Mr. Carter says are "ours" are certainly not mine and probably not yours and therefore, necessarily, not ours. In fact, it is not at all obvious that the things Mr. Carter speaks of even qualify as values, properly speaking, unless you believe that "economic justice" is a value, or you subscribe to Marxist liberation theology (Mr. Carter considers the Catholic priests who practiced this theology to be "heroes"), or you would like to pay your "personal respects" to Syria's dictator (never mind that he just had the prime minister of Lebanon assassinated), or you can think of nothing bad to say about Saddam Hussein except, perhaps, that he is "obnoxious."

How very odd, I thought, that I would read about long-discredited (or I thought it was long discredited) liberation theology in two places at nearly the same time, but coming from entirely different directions. This passage from a speech by former President of El Salvador Francisco Flores was still in my head:

El Salvador was destroyed by 13 years of unremitting violence. Every Salvadoran family had to mourn the loss of at least one of its members. One third of the population fled to neighboring countries. Its infrastructure was devastated, with no resources to reconstruct itself, and more than half of its population lived under the poverty line. At the end of the war in 1992, El Salvador seemed hopeless...

I say hopeless in a literal sense. At the beginning of the war, El Salvador was a deeply Catholic country. However, led by revolutionary priests beginning in the 1970s, important sectors of the Church embraced liberation theology. The Bible was read as a political program that justified armed insurgency. Christ’s teachings were used to justify terrorism.

As they sought the protection of the Church in their need for spiritual comfort, our campesino families found that the pulpit had become one more source of violence. They were asked to hate, and told to act violently.

They did neither. These campesinos searched for Christ’s teachings elsewhere. I remember them walking through the narrow pathways of our mountains in those terrible days. The men wore long sleeved white shirts and black trousers, the women long skirts and their hair under white veils. If the guerrillas or the army stopped them, these humble people held a Bible up to the gun barrels that were pointed at them. They were courageous in their silence and though greatly vulnerable, they were immensely dignified. Never in my life have I been prouder to be a Salvadoran.

Well. I guess you can see why I found the contrast jarring.

I am inclined to be more impressed with Flores than Carter, for what it's worth.

Related previous post: Commentary: El Salvador's Secret: Freedom and Opportunity Cure Poverty

Books and Culture's Book of the Week: The Sinister Way

Wright Doyle, director of the China Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, says of The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture by Richard von Glahn (University of California Press):

Despite its foreboding title and evident academic audience, von Glahn's treatment of Chinese religion offers a wealth of information and insight to general readers as well as to students of Chinese culture. To explain the rise and transformation of one prominent cult--that of Wutong, a precursor to the smiling face we see today--the author ranges widely throughout Chinese history. The end product is a general overview of popular Chinese religion from earliest times to the present.

After a succinct and critical review of recent theories of traditional Chinese religion, von Glahn traces the development of Chinese "vernacular" religion from the Shang Dynasty up to the 20th century. Such a survey complements the usual treatments, which neatly separate Confucian, Buddhist, Daoist, and "popular" beliefs and practices.

In particular, von Glahn traces the vicissitudes of what he terms "the sinister way." This menacing phrase refers to the "dark side" of Chinese religion. While some objects of worship, such as the Goddess of Mercy (Guanyin), represent nothing but benignity and kindness, others, such as Wutong, display a propensity for malice.

Full review (Christianity Today)

To order, or for more information from Barnes & Noble, click the book cover below.

The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture
The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture