Saturday, September 30, 2006

Making Shakespeare kid-friendly, and kids theater-friendly

Several years ago, Headmistress and The Headmaster at The Common Room decided to take a bunch of kids, various ages, to a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Tell me that what the three-year-old did during intermission isn't priceless. Just try. :)

Other "children and Shakespeare" posts here and here (and here and here).

Getting his goat against the odds

A couple of weeks or so ago I learned about a hunter who'd collapsed while hunting in mountains not terribly far from here (by Oregon reckoning, which measures distance in hours instead of miles). The man had altitude sickness, and had to be eased off the mountain and rushed to the hospital. Altitude sickness isn't something you hear about very much around here. But, then, most of our towns are somewhere near 3,000 feet, give or take, and mountain passes generally don't run much above 5,000, if that. But this guy was hunting up at 8,000, and he lives not much above sea level, and it floored him. Worse yet, he was goat hunting. Almost no one is given a goat tag, and those lucky guys who do get one are never allowed to have another one. You either get your goat, or you give up your dream of getting a goat. The last I'd heard, he was determined to get back before the tag expired and hunt some more. I don't quite know if this constitutes grit or craziness, but then I'm not a hunter.

I told my husband about this. He came back to me later to report that the little radio station from Ketchikan, Alaska, that he sometimes listens to online had picked up on the story, and the deejays were having a heyday with it. "Did you hear that a guy got altitude sickness in Oregon? Oregon! They have mountains in Oregon?" That sort of thing, with much laughter. (And, yes, thank you, we have mountains in Oregon. Also deserts. Also the deepest river gorge in North America, which you can't have if you don't have a highish place to go down from. It's a rather misunderstood state, geographically speaking.)

But, anyway, we'd heard about this guy, and his pledge to come back and hunt, so I checked the Baker paper to see if there was a follow-up story. There is. Thank you, reporter Jayson Jacoby.

Oh, my. The guy came back. And the misadventures continued - including, believe it or not, his truck breaking down half a block from our house. I didn't know this. The small town grapevine is vastly overrated. Gary Martin, a hunter who is being talked about from here to Alaska and I don't know where else, comes back to Central/Eastern Oregon after getting out of the hospital - he's sneering at death to get his goat, he's... he's... he's right in the middle of his proverbial fifteen minutes of fame and he has to be rescued within sight of my house, and I have to read about it in an out-of-county newspaper? Like I said, the grapevine around here sometimes is vastly overrated. (Alicia, we need to talk, girl. I'm sure Paul must have known, and he should have told you, and you could have told David, who would have told me... ;)

Anyway, congratulations on getting your goat, Mr. Martin, and I hope your health improves. I hope you don't mind me spreading your story about. Town's full of hunters right now, and these guys seem to like to hear about a hunter having crazy luck, both good and bad. Maybe especially the bad luck. Go figure.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy Belated Birthday to PalmTree Pundit

Happy blog birthday, that is. Anne's been blogging for two years now.

(I don't know about you, but I have to wait until the middle of next February until I can say that.)

Is wonderful country

See Wittingshire: A Perspective from Krakow to hear from somebody who appreciates America. Or, perhaps I should say, appreciates Americans.

See Gentle Warrior and The Soldier and the Boy at A Rose By Any Other Name for another couple of reasons to be proud of this country.

Zorro DVDs, finally (sort of)

OK, the DVDs are only available to members of The Disney Movie Club, and they're the colorized versions (I prefer the original black and white), but finally, there are some episodes of the classic Zorro series starring Guy Williams available in the United States. (France has had some for a couple of years). Bill Cotter has the story.

Danielle Bean, on a roll

Danielle Bean has several good posts lately, among them one that features apple recipes (yum), one on people who treat nutrition as a religion, a bit of wisdom out of the mouths of babes (well, one babe, anyway), and, my personal favorite, a post on being carded by a clerk who missed his golden chance to be charming. (If anyone catches any of our attendants acting like this I want to know about it!)

Oh, OK, one more. She's leading a discussion on making the princess stage of a little girl's life a good thing, and not a slide into an exercise in materialism or immodesty (apparently the modern Disney princesses aren't as sweet as they used to be).

Update: I want to make it clear to BookStation customers who might be reading this that we didn't start selling anything that requires carding while you weren't looking. It's the attitude toward customers to which I was referring.

"Radical conversion"

The Orange County Register recently ran a three part feature story on the background of an American who does propaganda work for al-Qaida (aka Al Qaeda). Bad enough as it would be in any case, the radical's grandfather was a Jewish man known for his humanitarian work. A secular Jew, to be sure, but still... When the series was titled "Radical conversion" I'm pretty sure they meant it in more ways than one.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

hat tip: Cheat-Seeking Missiles (Part One, Part Two, Part Three)

(note: Cheat-Seeking Missiles takes on some topics we avoid over here. And the tone isn't always what we'd like. Fair warning.)

Sometimes, you really can...

... make lemonade when life hands you lemons, I guess. There Melissa Wiley was, facing agonizingly long nights at the hospital while her cancer-stricken daughter fought for her life, and...

And she agreed to write the Martha books in the Little House series. Hey, it beat brooding. :)

(If you think this meant that she spent less time with her daughter, you haven't been reading her blog. This is definitely a devoted mommy we're talking about. Her family is in the middle of moving from the Blue Ridge Mountains all the way across the country to California, by the way, so don't expect tooooo much from her at the moment. But really, it's one of my favorite blogs. See here and here for a couple of reasons why.)

Yargh

You may have noticed I haven't been posting as much as usual. There are several reasons for that.

Blogger has been having one of its infamous rough patches: sometimes I can't log in, sometimes when I've written a post I can't post it, that sort of thing. I'm acquiring a notable archive of emails to myself, with "url for when blogger comes back up" in the subject line. I understand that these glitchy times will happen. I am trying to be patient. I am also debating taking the plunge to the new version of Blogger, which is in beta. I don't know that it would help, but Google seems to be ramping up its encouragement to switch. Since I'm not paying them anything, I figure the least I can do is take their requests to heart. (But it requires opening another account, and I can't shake the feeling I've got too many online accounts as it is. Besides, I finally got this template how I like it.)

As a side note, because I haven't switched to the new version, I am what is now being called a legacy blogger. No, really. Is it just me, or is there something humorous, perhaps ludicrous, about being called a legacy blogger?

The betting window is open. How long will she hold out...

No, don't tell me what your guesses are. It's embarrassing. I'll switch soon. Probably. Maybe.

This all falls at a time when I've been busier than usual with work and home projects of one sort and another - including hours of typing every day. I don't have the time to blog that I used to, and my hands are about at their limit.

What I probably ought to do is declare a hiatus. But Plan A is to test the waters now and then and toss posts up when the connections seem good for a change. At any rate, since in the past I went offline pretty much only for family emergencies I thought I'd mention that it's not that this time (thank goodness, knock wood).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dictionary Men column (aka Stump the wordsmiths)

Too fun. Here's a column devoted to the meaning and history of words and phrases. There's even a place at the bottom to submit questions.

The archive is here.

Suggestions on where you can go...

Here are some articles/posts I've found interesting:

Freedom and Justice in Islam, by Bernard Lewis (Imprimis September 2006) Highly recommended look at today's situation, with historical perspective.

Thousands attend 'Wear Red Friday' rally on Parliament Hill (CBC News) Canadians show support for their troops.

Let's Give It A Rest (Captain's Quarters, September 22, 2006) Argues that it's time to concentrate on our real enemies instead of poisoning the atmosphere with old arguments.

Swiss Back Tougher Asylum Laws (Deutsche Welle, September 24, 2006) Swiss voters approve tougher immigration rules by a wide margin. A related post, Switzerland Battens Down the Hatches Against Foreigners (Deutsche Welle, September 25, 2006), looks at the response from papers around Europe.

Spain Pushes for European Response to Illegal Immigration (Deutsche Welle, September 21, 2006). For background, see Spanish Minister Says EU "Lacks Commitment" on Immigration (Deutsche Welle, August 31, 2006)

"Tidiness?" (Expat Yank, September 24, 2006) A cemetery in the UK has adopted a policy of burying everyone lined up toward Mecca.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Notes from Daddyland

Jared Keller is father to a toddler. This has affected what he eats for lunch. This also has convinced him that the "Terrible Twos" are vastly over-advertised - at least in comparison with life with a three-year-old girl. Heh.

At least he's still able to laugh. And write in complete sentences. :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thesaurus Precum Latinarum

I stumbled across Thesaurus Precum Latinarum today. It's primarily a "Treasury of Latin Prayers" but it also has numerous related links, English translations and background material. I thought some of you might find it a handy resource? (I'm out of my depth when it comes to Latin, etc.)

Book note: Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater

Thanks to Jen Robinson I know that a children's classic is in the spotlight in Florida. Sara Isaac has the story (Orlando Sentinel, September 17, 2006):

A warm-hearted and comic children's chapter book about a house painter and his troupe of trained penguins is the Orlando Sentinel's pick for its 2007 One Book One Community literacy campaign.

Mr. Popper's Penguins will anchor the Sentinel's six-week community reading program, which kicks off in January.

This 1938 book by Richard and Florence Atwater has charmed generations of young readers with its endearing tale of mild-mannered Mr. Popper, and the troubles that arise when he unexpectedly receives a penguin as a gift.

Mr. Popper's fascination with reading and travel, and the antics of his growing family of exotic birds also make the book popular with elementary and middle-school teachers, because it provides a jumping-off point for lessons and activities in science, language arts and history.

Sentinel spokeswoman Cindy Williams says the newspaper wanted to return to the classics after last year's contemporary selection, Esperanza Rising. The challenge was to find a book that would be easy for budding readers but also would interest older students.

The adventures that face Mr. and Mrs. Popper and their two children as they figure out how to feed and care for 12 emperor penguins give the book wide appeal, she says.

"It's just fun," Williams says. "Here are these kids that get to have penguins as pets. It's just like every kid's fantasy."

One Book One Community, which is heading into its sixth year, encourages Central Florida children -- and the adults in their lives -- to read the same book. It was launched in 2002 as part of the Sentinel's Reading by Nine literacy initiative, which aims to have all area schoolchildren reading at grade level by age 9, when students must make the switch from learning to read, to reading to learn...


Full article

Mr. Popper's Penguins
Mr. Popper's Penguins

Hats off to the Orlando Sentinel for picking this oldie but goodie.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Life lessons

Bracha Kurtzer lists 10 Reasons Why Life Is Like Riding A Bike (aish.com, Sept. 10, 2006).

Regarding requests for ethnic labels

Hmmm. I'm trying to remember (it's late - don't ask too much from my brain just now), but I think it was for the 1990 census that, when asked to which ethnic group I felt I belonged, I checked the "Other" box and wrote in "American." (There's an outside chance I did this for the 1980 census, but I think it was the 1990 one.) At any rate, I was still writing my newspaper column and I made my wee bit of 'civil disobedience' (if you can call it that) the subject of one of my columns. Oh, my. Friends and colleagues wished me luck, predicted I'd be in trouble with the government the rest of my born days, and declared themselves admiring of my bravery but afraid to follow in my footsteps. It was an amazing experience. People actually were afraid to refuse to be a hyphenated American, if a hyphenated American was what the government wanted. For that matter, that particular year (whichever it was), I have to admit I hesitated before I did what I did. There was an undercurrent of feeling that you had to play along with the race-division game or expect repercussions. I know it's pathetic, but, well, sometimes the citizenry doesn't entirely trust its bureaucracies to be reliably sane. Imagine that.

That we're still having to fight our own public servants for the right to not be sliced and diced into little slivers of often-artificial subgroups is a bit disappointing. But Katie seems up to the task. Go, girl!

Update: I probably shouldn't post when I'm that tired. Sorry. I should have made it clear the battle isn't just with public servants at various levels. In Katie's case, for instance, it's with the administration at a private university.

That's some 40th birthday trip

Anousheh Ansari turned 40 on September 12 and today she's on the International Space Station, as a paying tourist. That's the spirit.

I could have done without all the news reports (including the ones to which I link above) doing major song and dance about her being "the first woman space tourist." Note to news agencies: Somebody being the first woman this or the first woman that is soooo, like, 1970s. You know?

Honestly, I have visions of all sorts of aging feminists running around newsrooms pulling their hair and getting ulcers because they're running out of artificial frontiers to cross. (Is it uncharitable to be looking forward to their retirement?)

Update: I'm not sure I made myself clear in the above. What I want to get across is that since space tourism became a reality after women astronauts became commonplace, there wasn't any idea, as far as I know, of it ever being a men's-only activity. Therefore, to make a big deal out of a woman being a space tourist because she's a woman is either totally contrived enthusiasm (which doesn't seem likely) or else a knee-jerk reaction (which strikes me as more likely, but hardly excusable at a news organization, I think). At any rate, whatever is behind it, I find it rather patronizing, don't you?

Monday, September 18, 2006

On Pope Benedict and Muslims

I hope quite a few people read this Richard John Neuhaus post on the Pope and his ongoing dialog with Muslims, both for what it says about what the Pope actually has said and done, and for its history lessons. I think he does a nice job of putting current controversies into perspective.

In the post, he also recommends the following book by Mary Habeck (Yale University Press, January 2006):

Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror
Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror


In another First Things post, Robert Louis Wilken looks at the quote the Pope used the other day that so riled some people, and puts it into historical context.

Team Hoyt

Via Anna at A Rose By Any Other Name, here's a story I wasn't quite ready to believe at first glance. But here's the Snopes entry on a remarkable family's refusal to let a son's brain damage keep him - or them - down. (Snopes.com tracks down urban legends, if you don't know.)

Once again, here was a couple told their child had no chance of a meaningful life...

From the text I see being passed around the Internet the most right now (according to Snopes, this comes from a 2005 Sports Illustrated article; so far I haven't been able to find a link for people not registered at SI):

...This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution."

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain."

"Tell him a joke," Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain.

Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!"...

Then there's this article by David Reich for the Winter 2006 Boston College Magazine, which includes, among other things, information about a recent film made about Rick Hoyt:

Rick’s Eyes on the Prize is the second in a series of short-film profiles of disabled individuals directed by Team Michalczyk/Marsh, with four additional films currently being assembled or planned. According to Philip DiMattia, executive producer of Rick’s Eyes on the Prize and director of BC’s Campus School, which serves youngsters with multiple disabilities, the series, called “I’m in Here,” aims to depict “the challenges of going from being spectators in life to being active participants.”

For the record, I think human beings have a right to life and loving care even when they don't 'triumph' over disability. We are, after all, human beings and not human doings, as the saying goes. But, doggone it, I am distressed, not to mention angry, at how much vitality must have been sucked out of people over the years - how many lives have been made small needlessly - just because some know-it-alls have misused medical training to shelve (or discard) people instead of helping them reach their potential.

Update: Here's an AP article by Ron Staton from Oct. 19, 2006: Father and paralyzed son ready for last Ironman race. That doesn't mean they're giving up on triathlons, by the way, just the Ironman variety. The dad, after all, is 66 years old.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

More progress in treating individuals with brain damage

The number of people coming out of 'persistent vegetative state' after taking a specific sleeping pill keeps growing, according to Guardian Unlimited Special Reports: Reborn (September 12, 2006).

hat tip: Earl Aagaard

"Abbott & Costello Learn Hebrew"

This Hebrew lesson cracked me up. (And I don't know any Hebrew.)

hat tip: The Book Den

How to get a UK Driving License

See K's Café: The 30 Second Blog: UK Driving License Marathon, etc. for an American expat's adventures (so far) in obtaining a driver's license now that she's moved to England.

(Closed circuit for Robert - I don't suppose you can drop her any tips to make this any easier?)

The Saturday Review of Books...

...is up at Semicolon.

Book note update: Debunking 9/11 Myths, by Popular Mechanics

Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts
Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts

I mentioned this book before based on what others had written, but now I've had a chance to read it. I'm impressed with the restraint and the professionalism. Claims by various conspiracy-minded people are listed, and then addressed. Where someone has a point, or part of a point, that is granted. But where the myths don't stand up to scrutiny, the ways in which the claim doesn't stand up are laid out clearly and succinctly. There are endnotes for anyone wanting more detail.

Fair warning: the editors are civilized as well as thorough - no sensationalism here - but there are a few times when a gruesome detail must be mentioned as part of the refutation (i.e. this might be tough reading for survivors of those killed, or anyone with an active imagination; I know I had a tough go of it now and then simply because what happened was horrible and is hard to think about). For the most part, it's a good series of lessons on why buildings stand up or fall, differences between collapses due to implosions caused by set explosives and those due to structural failure, the physics of crashes, and policies and technologies in place in September 2001. People who have been misrepresented by conspiracists get a chance to say what they said or didn't say, meant or didn't mean. There's also a look at "The Conspiracy Industry" and its targets and methods. All in all, a very straightforward bit of reporting, well-written at the layman level.

Related reading: The 911 Myths blog set up by Popular Mechanics.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Oriana Fallaci has died

The Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci has died after a long battle with cancer. I'm trying to find a better write-up, but here's the one from Reuters (as reprinted in The Scotsman), and here's the notice at the BBC. Her age is being listed as 76 in some reports, and 77 in others.

Saturday update: I was plagued with Internet troubles yesterday and kept running into roadblocks on updating this. So, here goes. I had mixed feelings about Fallaci, based on what little I knew about her. She had a tendency to shred her interview subjects, which I don't like. But when she was interviewing the Ayotollah Khomeini, she managed to find an opening in the conversation to remove the chador she'd been forced to put on. (Now, that's gutsy.) She was an outspoken atheist. But she seemed genuinely pleased whenever she and the Pope seemed to agree on something. She was a leftist. But she was a thinking leftist. The list goes on. Above all, she was clearly trying her best to warn her beloved Europe of what it was walking into by ignoring the rising Islamist threat. I was trying to think yesterday where I'd read about Fallaci over the years, and The Anchoress came to mind. Sure enough, The Anchoress has a tribute and a round-up to other posts. It's not entirely family friendly, I should warn you. But it's obviously heartfelt, and a good comparison, I think, of what the Left used to stand for (and how it used to stand), and the sad drift downward in recent years.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Our stray elk

I have a semi-wild back yard that adjoins a large empty lot which extends to the other side of the block. My back yard has fruit trees and wildflowers and weeds and grass. I keep most of it watered and mowed, but not with the same attention I give to the front lawn (which is kept as lawn to add to the overall neatness of the neighborhood).

The back yard has been my experiment center. We moved here during the winter, so this was our first growing season. The previous tenants had children who were into digging holes and building mounds, so I have done some shoveling, evening things out a bit. These children, or somebody at least, was also into burying kitchen knives. I've lost track of how many knives and ball point pens I've dug out of the dirt. (Yinga.) On a happier note, I scattered some wildflower seed (most of which didn't grow), and planted hollyhocks (which are holding their own). But mostly I've been observing, seeing what comes up that I'd like to keep, seeing what I feel needs to go. Mostly, sad to say, I have common mallow and bindweed and dandelions plus annual grasses of various sorts, but there have been some rare treats, including a little alpine-looking flower I'd only seen before up in the mountains. I don't know its name, but I was careful to not mow there until after it had gone to seed. I have a chronic and possibly incurable case of gardener's optimism...

As for fauna, we've had neighborhood cats and dogs, but also owls and songbirds and skunks and a raccoon and several mule deer. Of late, we've had "sign" that I couldn't identify. I've been researching, but it never occurred to me to look up elk sign. Whoever heard of an elk here in town? But yesterday a deputy sheriff met my husband at the gas station, and wanted to make sure that we knew that an elk had been seen a couple or three times lately in our back yard. The fish and game people had checked it out, he said, and it was a young bull, two spikes on its antlers, with a hurt front leg, but not hurt bad enough to put down.

I've learned to keep my guard up when I go outside, what with skunk and deer sharing the territory, but an elk is something else again. I love seeing elk in the wild, and I don't mind temporarily sharing my yard with one as long as it's not aggressive and we both see each other in plenty of time to avoid encounters. Elk, you understand, are not safe to tangle with. They are big and know how to hurt you. Still, overall, I was excited. Yesterday I kept sneaking peeks out the window. Last night I couldn't sleep anyway (I hurt my back and shoulder the other day, among other things), so I cheered myself up by walking around looking out all the windows, hoping for a glimpse of my newly identified mystery guest.

Today a cop told my husband that last night an elk was hit by an RV on the same road that goes alongside our empty lot, but down the road a ways. The people are OK but the elk's leg was broken, and the police put it down...

We don't know for sure yet that it's our elk. But as far as we know there was only one elk limping around our neighborhood. Rats. I had mixed feelings about having something that large and potentially dangerous hanging around. But, doggone it, rats.

You can find out more about living with elk here, on a website provided by the State of Washington.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The biker next door

I went outside to work in the front lawn. Over the low wood-and-wire fence I saw a little boy next door, sitting on a tricycle, revving the handlebars. It is not your average tricycle. It is black tubing and oversize chrome fenders, with raised handlebars and a rearview mirror. The little boy is not wildly revving the handlebars, with great engine noises like boys in general so often do (and I suspect this one does now and then). No, this boy is intently trying out different amounts of imaginary revving done just so, apparently in a bid to find out exactly how much wrist action is needed for precisely the imaginary effect he wants. He is, in short, trying to figure out how to get the most out of his machine. We are talking nuance. Finesse. Professionalism. I had seen him riding this tricycle earlier in the day, towing a wagon up and down the sidewalk with great gusto. He had been quite intent on learning great rearview mirror skills, I'd noticed, which had made things appear slightly dicey for people in front of him. He'd always noticed people in time, though, at least while I was watching. (For what it's worth, I hadn't heard any shouts, either, when I wasn't watching.)

He looks up to see me smiling at him.

"This looks something like a motorcycle, don't you think?" he asks me.

"Why yes it does," I reply. I am rewarded handsomely with a thousand watt smile.

"Did you see what I was pulling earlier?"

"It was a wagon, wasn't it?"

"I mean, did you see what I had in the wagon?"

"Apples, wasn't it?"

"Yes, apples. But I put them all away," he tells me, sheepishly proud. He is, I gather, one of those boys who has discovered the difference between a job half-done and one done to completion, and he wishes me to know that.

And then he excuses himself. He has something else he must go do. He is a busy little man.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Which country is where?

Let's just say Amanda's daughter beat me at properly sorting out this Middle East Map Puzzle and let it go at that, shall we? (Go on. You try and beat her. Follow the link.)

"Shop Early and enjoy the holidays"

Once again, L.L. Bean has the questionable 'honor' of having the first Christmas catalog in my mailbox, this year a day ahead of last year. On the front it says "Shop Early and enjoy the holidays."

Uh. They're missing their target with that tagline, at least with me. I buy very little for Christmas anyway, and when during the year I buy it strangely has no effect on my ability to enjoy the season. When it gets here. (Sigh.)

Kimberly Dozier update

Journalist Kimberly Dozier was critically injured by an blast in Iraq on Memorial Day which killed two of her colleagues.

A CBS colleague's happy blog post about her surprise visit today to the CBS News Washington bureau is here. She's been through a number of surgeries and lots of rehab, and she has more rehab and surgery ahead, but she's looking pretty good and is itching to get back to work.

Addition: August 3, 2006 story from CBS/AP: CBS' Kimberly Dozier Leaves Hospital

More 9/11 anniversary links...

... are at The Suitable For Mixed Company Annex.

I found the day a bit too complex and personal to write about this year, for whatever reasons. That's not to say I might not revisit it later. But yesterday I needed space and solitude, and time to think. I'm still feeling a bit that way. I'm not quite ready to declare a hiatus, but...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"There She Stands"

Doug at Considerettes links to a Michael W. Smith music video tied to 9/11.

Pirates in a new guise?

Douglas R. Burgess Jr. argued last summer that "Terrorists, like pirates, must be given their proper status in law: hostis humani generis, enemies of the human race." Along the way he provided a history of piracy and international law. (Via neo-neocon)

Burgess is the author of

Seize the Trident: The Race for the Superliner Supremacy and How it Altered the Great War
Seize the Trident: The Race for the Superliner Supremacy and How it Altered the Great War

Stars and stripes and ivy, two peeks from 9/11

Patrick J. Garrity, at the start of an article for the Claremont Review of Books (reprinted in the September 6, 2006, OpinionJournal):

In the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, a Yale University student asked one of her instructors, "Would it be OK now for us to be patriotic?" The professor, John Lewis Gaddis, widely regarded as the dean of American Cold War historians, replied: "Yes, I think it would."

Then there's how John McWhorter opened a commentary not too long ago (The New York Sun, August 3, 2006):

In a way, I don’t live in America. My world is the minority one of NPR and kalamata olives. This week, however, I’m writing from a cruise ship, and America this is. This is the America of USA Today, sausage links and “Rumor Has It.”

These are also the people who Blue Americans are given to thinking of as “scary” hordes, ever on the brink of returning America to the heartless Social Darwinism of the Gilded Age.

The idea is that because of this, we enlightened folk are to craft our public statements so as to hold off this eternal threat. When I put an American flag sticker on my windshield after September 11, a friend of mine of this type actually ripped it off, an action she meant as something between a joke and a protest. In her eyes, there were so many people “out there” who might take the sticker as a call for ignorant jingoism that it was irresponsible for a college professor to have the sticker on his car. About every fourth letter in my mailbag is from someone who says that they agree with my often right-of-center comments on race, but “worry” that people “out there” might misinterpret me as suggesting a return to Jim Crow, or leaving ghettos to fester unattended.

New college program brings thousands of Saudis to U.S.

From Garance Burke, Associated Press (The Washington Times, Sept. 10, 2006):

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Thousands of students from Saudi Arabia are enrolling on college campuses across the United States this semester under a new educational exchange program brokered by President Bush and Saudi King Abdullah.

The program will quintuple the number of Saudi students and scholars in the United States by the academic year's end. And big, public universities from Florida to Oregon are in a fierce competition for their tuition dollars.

The kingdom's royal family -- which is paying full scholarships for most of the 15,000 students -- says the program will help stem unrest at home by schooling the country's brightest in the American tradition. The State Department sees the exchange as a way to build ties with future Saudi leaders and young scholars at a time of unsteady relations with the Muslim world...


As always, I suggest you read the full article.

I guess I'm in a mood today, but my first thought when I read the above passage was "Oh, are there public universities in the country still teaching 'the American tradition'?"

Cattiness aside, I do hope we're being careful about which schools get these students. The last thing we need is yet more Arabs landing in places infamous for decrying Western Civilization. No?

In short, I suspect this could be a very good thing, or a very bad thing, depending primarily on the experience of the Saudis once they get here, both in the classroom and in the broader community.

Update: Captain Ed looks at pros and cons.

Rocky Balboa statue (Sylvester Stallone version) has its own comeback

Somehow I missed all the controversy and moving around associated with the Rocky movie statue. But for those of you who dearly wish to be photographed next to it, I'm happy to report that the Philadelphia Museum of Art has decided to put it back on public display. See Gonna Fly, Now at the Joust the Facts blog for more.

Chesterton gems

The Anchoress shares some G.K. Chesterton quotes. Pithy, indeed. :)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Kiev officials want to teach country's heritage, ethics

See Kiev Schools Look to Reinforce Ukraine's Christian Heritage (Associated Press, September 2, 2006, as published at The Christian Post) for a move to promote moral behavior and a love for the homeland in Ukrainian public schools.

hat tip: Photios

From Iraq, a request for a more united effort

From the Iraq the Model blog, a look at current and future terrorist threats, and some suggestions on how to move forward.

Latin, concatenation, and Wodehouse

Word lovers, enjoy.

hat tip: a comment at Seasonal Soundings (via Semicolon)

Sept. 11 as seen from Germany

See Five Years On: How Sept. 11 Changed the World (Deutsche Welle, Sept. 9, 2006) for a number of articles (16 at present) from various European angles.

Author note: Meet Lauraine Snelling

Lauraine Snelling has more than two million books in print, which makes her a pretty successful author by most standards. And yet outside of certain (primarily Christian) circles, you can mention her name and get a blank stare. (Welcome to the world of bookselling.) Her website is here. She seems like one of those writers I wouldn't mind having as a neighbor, I must say.

Her latest book, due out later this month, is

The Brushstroke Legacy
The Brushstroke Legacy


For what it's worth, I don't generally read much in the "Christian fiction" genre, so I'm not overly familiar with her work. A few years back I read three or four books of hers to get a feel for what I was selling, and those particular books reminded more than a little of the couple/three books by Janette Oke that I'd read, also to get a feel for what I what I was selling. It was a small sampling from each author, you understand, just enough to form a hunch that fans of one might like the books of the other.

Cindy Swanson did a review of Snelling's book Saturday Morning last year, in which she said, "..Lauraine Snelling is best known as a writer of historical Christian fiction, but she hits one out of the park with her latest contemporary fiction offering..."

FaithfulReader.com did an interview with Snelling in June 2004, which you can find here. I have to admit, some of the authors she has in her favorite authors list took me a bit by surprise. (It is, I would like to add, a very eclectic list, which I like to see in an author's favorite authors list.)

There was once a small boy who banged a drum all day...

I have been having trouble with links (again, still). More specifically, my outgoing links seem to be invisible to various tracking sites much of the time, but not all of the time. The same goes for incoming links. On top of that, Technorati insists I haven't updated in 507 days. (Have I been blogging that long?) So I have been fussing around, trying to figure out how to make my blog lose whatever surprisingly-effective cloaking device it put on while I wasn't looking. ;)

So far I'm having no luck on that front at all.

But I did, in the process, stumble across this wonderful little story about various ways of dealing with a boy with a drum.

The Saturday Review of Books...

...is up at Semicolon.

Saudi religious police outlaw cat or dog sales in part of the country

According to Donna Abu-Nasr, writing for the Associated Press (The Washington Times, September 9, 2006), the Muttawa, the enforcers of Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code, have decided pet owners parading their pets in public "is blind emulation of the infidels" and so have banned dog and cat sales in the Red Sea port city of Jidda and the holy city of Mecca. The article goes to the trouble of putting the matter into context. Read it here.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Southern Baptists and 9/11

Baptist Press (BP News) has a number of articles related to the September 11 anniversary, including:
Challenge of 9/11 strengthened Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
New York, 5 years after 9/11: Baptist ministry continues
As a N.Y. teen, he found faith beyond a ‘horrible tragedy’
Daughter on 9/11 jet ‘wouldn’t want us to give up on God’
‘Fear to Faith’ workshops ease minorities’ post-9/11 trauma
WORLDVIEW: Sept. 11, five years on

Book note: Twenty and Ten, by Claire Huchet Bishop

See Karen Edmisten: Twenty and Ten for a recommendation for children's book about a nun and several Christian children helping Jews targeted by Nazis.

She doesn't mention it, but this is the book that inspired Miracle at Moreaux, starring Loretta Swit.

When kindness has left people...

See Wittingshire: Lapses in Kindness for a laser-guided passage from Willa Cather's My Mortal Enemy about what it's like to not find kindness where you've always found it.

Oregon high court rules for Scouts

Oregon high court rules for Scouts, against atheist mother by Tim Fought, Associated Press, as published in The Seattle Times:

PORTLAND — The Oregon Supreme Court today rejected the discrimination claim of an atheist whose son was required to attend a Boy Scout recruiting session in a Portland public school.

The Scout oath requires members "to do my duty to God and my country" but simply providing information to pupils in public schools isn't discrimination under Oregon Law, the court said.

Reversing a lower court, the justices denied the claim of Nancy Powell, whose son, Remington, was in elementary school when the dispute began in 1996.

The justices said the recruiting process on school grounds treats all students the same.

"It is in the later enrollment in the organization that the Boy Scouts differentiate among those who do not profess a belief in the deity and those who do," the court said. "That enrollment, however, is not done by the school district, nor is it done in any public elementary school activity."

Dissenting, Justice Rives Kistler said the Scouts' offer "appeared to be open to all the elementary school children without limitation," but that wasn't the case.

"That offer, both in fact and in operation, divided the elementary school children into two groups: those whose religious views agreed with the Scouts' views and those whose views did not," he wrote.

The case can be read here.

hat tip: The Alliance Alert

More on Rives Kistler here.

Science study showing brain-damaged woman's imagination in good working order stuns some

See Signs of life: brain-damaged woman stuns doctors with her tennis skills by Deborah Smith, Science Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald, for just one of hundreds of articles out there right now about the recent study that showed how a brain-damaged woman in a 'vegetative' state responded to suggestions that she imagine herself doing one thing or another. I've been trying to find an article without pro-euthanasia baggage attached, and have been having a hard time, but this one's about as close as I've come. (And even it wraps up with a push to go make an advanced directive.)

I've seen misreporting of Terri Schiavo's condition in today's avalanche of articles, and I've seen shrill defensive maneuvers by doctors who have advised families to pull the plug, and I'm noticing offensive maneuvers by those in the euthanasia camp, but at least this study and the hue and cry in the press should spread a little doubt where it needs to be re-established in my opinion.

Why this study's results surprise so many people, I don't know. Way back in the 1970s, when I worked briefly in a doctor's office and also when I got some first aid training, we were trained that it was always safest to assume that people who are unconscious can hear and understand more than you might think. When did we lose that experience-based view of things?

Addition: Amy Welborn succinctly covers related moral issues.

Today in History: September 8

Today is the anniversary of the storm that devastated Galveston, Texas, in 1900. The Library of Congress has more at its American Memory site.

How very odd to look out the window and...

...see it raining bricks.

Luckily for me, I heard a strange racket just before that, and caught sight of a young man who works for our landlord setting up a ladder. And luckily the landlord had told me a few weeks ago that sometime before winter he was going to have the chimney taken down so the roof could finally be fixed properly. (We've had all sorts of leaks.)

Now, if I could just get the cats convinced that the pounding and shaking and thuds are not signaling the end of the world we'll be in great shape... ;)

Whoever's on the roof (I think there might be two of them? I'm certainly not stepping outside in a rain of bricks to chance a peek), is making very fast work of it. The bricks, by the way, are shattering to dust, for the most part, when they hit the blue tarp laid out on the ground to collect them. They are, in other words, badly weathered bricks, and it's certainly time for them to come down off our roof. The chimney no longer exists in the living quarters anyway. I presume it got taken out in some 'modernization' move long since. Just a guess. Why they didn't take out all the chimney at once and patch the roof back then I don't know. I guess to leave the upper chimney in place was easier? And maybe cheaper?

I'm looking forward to being rid of the leaks. I am also, ahem, circling the kitchen and playing with color combinations in my head, now that I'm beginning to think it might be worth my while to go ahead and paint in there. (There's no sense painting a ceiling that leaks, is there?)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Moms for Modesty banding together, speaking out

Those of you with daughters might want to check out the Moms for Modesty movement that just got launched and seems to be taking off like a rocket.

hat tip: Shannon

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Easier can opener

As some of you know, we live with handicaps at this house. Can openers had proved to be a major annoyance. The manual ones were very difficult for one family member to use, and the electric ones we'd had weren't much better since they required getting everything lined up just so, using both hands at once.

So, we tried the No-Hands One Touch Can Opener, and, to my surprise (the ads made it look cheap, I thought) it works very well. And it's very forgiving of clumsiness. I see Sharper Image has something very similar. A side bonus: it looks perfectly ridiculous as it works, which is good for grins. (I know, I know, I am too easily amused.)

I'm not familiar with the Disabled Hands website I've linked to above for product info, but it looks like a good site for all sorts of ideas and tips and products for people with diminished hand function. A bonus: They ask for reader tips and recommendations, so it's apparently something of a community as well as product flogger. I'll be checking it out, at any rate.

More Works-For-Me-Wednesday tips can be found at Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In case you're interested in life in Kenya

A blogger who goes by the name of Nairobi Paul commented on one of my earlier posts, and I finally got around to checking out his blog. He introduces himself this way:

My wonderful wife is Heather. Our fun-loving kids are Jay (93), Ben (96) and Rachel (01). We serve with Caleb Project and are based in Nairobi, Kenya, lent to Wycliffe Bible Translators. Nairobi is the largest city in east Africa.

He's been blogging just over a year at My Part of Nairobi.

I thought this post, on a tailoring school equipped with foot-treadle machines, with hand-drawn patterns posted on the wall, was interesting. As he says, "It's amazing what can be done when resources are limited."

Book note: The Man Who Fed the World, by Leon Hesser

Ronald Bailey has a review of a new book, The Man Who Fed the World, by Leon Hesser, over at OpinionJournal. It begins:

Who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970? You may be forgiven for not remembering, given some of the prize's dubious recipients over the years (e.g., Yasser Arafat). Well, then: Who has saved perhaps more lives than anyone else in history? The answer to both questions is, of course, Norman Borlaug.

Who? Norman Borlaug, 92, is the father of the "Green Revolution," the dramatic improvement in agricultural productivity that swept the globe in the 1960s. He is now the subject of an admiring biography by Leon Hesser, a former State Department official who first met Mr. Borlaug 40 years ago in Pakistan, where they worked together to boost that country's grain production. "The Man Who Fed the World" describes, in a workmanlike way, how a poor Iowa farm boy trained in forestry and plant pathology came to be one of humanity's greatest benefactors...

Man Who Fed the World
Man Who Fed the World


One of my college research assignments was to study the downsides and failures of "The Green Revolution." For instance, as I remember it, early efforts sometimes put one variety of a single crop from horizon to horizon and sometimes beyond, which led to some pretty spectacular crop failures. Plus, the heavy reliance on chemical fertilizers caused more than a few problems. Having said that, "The Green Revolution" definitely had its merits, among them the development of drought-resistant, disease-resistant, sturdier varieties - or even more nutritious ones. Just the push to develop wheat that didn't "lodge" (get knocked to the ground by wind, etc.) made a huge difference in crop yields. Pro and con, there's no doubt in my mind that Dr. Borlaug and his associates changed the world of agriculture, and also the course of world history.

High school teacher says he's willing to use a conservative book...

...but claims he doesn't know of a good one for his purposes. In a nutshell, he'd assigned the book "What's the Matter With Kansas?" for his Politics and Government class, and some of the parents and kids objected, asking for equal time for a conservative book. He claimed he's had trouble finding a suitable book but proclaimed himself open to suggestions. Bookworm has the story, and you should leave any suggestions with her.

Yawn, cough, sniffle

Thank goodness for tea, soup, ice cream, books, DVDs, and comfy old quilts. (I'm down with a bug, in case you've been wondering where I've been.)

Friday, September 01, 2006

We get results

Back in April 2005 I posted a poem about 'When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.' I'd found several versions floating around, but none that credited an author. I asked for help finding the proper person to credit.

Dave Baxter writes that his mother, Joanne Bailey Baxter of Lorain, Ohio, wrote the original back in 1991. His comment and a copy of his mother's poem are here.

In case you haven't made her acquaintance yet...

...may I suggest meeting Debra over at As I See It Now? (Check out her other blogs, too.)

...or the anonymous lady behind A Circle of Quiet?

...or Katherine? (She's moved to Britain from France, by the way. So now we get a whole new set of "did you know they did that this way over here?" posts.)