Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

As part of a coordinated effort by blogs to direct readers to relief agencies here are my recommendations to the readers here.

Firstly, Samaritan's Purse. I have donated with them thru thier Christmas Box program. They are effective, organized and have good resources. The have the infrastructure in place to assemble and deliver emergency aid kits to people. My church has worked with them for years.

Second, Humane Society. There are going to be a lot of frightened and homeless pets in New Orleans and I want to be sure they are not forgotten.

Glenn Reynolds will have a comprehensive list of places to donate. Check to see if your employer has a matching donation program going. I don't know if they have anything coordinated at the national level, but Starbucks stores will often donate coffee to relief workers. Try asking at your local Starbucks if they can/will donate part of their charity allotment of coffee to Hurricane Katrina. I worked for them back when there was that rash of school shootings and when one happened in our town, our store was able to donate beyond our allotment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mr. Hewitt and Mr Rutten

Hugh Hewitt instituted a new rule: he will only accept interviews on the condition that he can tape and release the whole interview on his program. It’s like a dead tree/radio version of blog reporting: his program the link to the original source so the audience can judge for themselves. Tim Rutten of the LA Times acceded to Hewitt’s wishes here is his story and here is the unexpurgated transcript from Radioblogger.

Mr. Rutten argues in his column that:

While the political talk-show hosts and right-wing bloggers claim to have a quarrel with mainstream media's alleged bias, their real gripe is that the news media's traditional values stand between them and what they'd like to accomplish, which is the total politicization of all reporting and analysis.

Mr. Hewitt claims that new media is merely the correction to the bias, that people are better served by transparency by news distributors so they can better judge how facts are being emphasized. He says this:

If you have to have conventions to correct bias, then you're admitting that you bring bias to the newsroom, and that the consumer, allegedly the people you're trying to serve, would be better served by the same transparency that many on the left, for example, demanding of John Roberts, but which journalists refuse.

Mr. Hewitt then goes on posit the thought that lack of transparency and bias are why papers like the LA Times are losing readers, advertisers and the like. He says that newsrooms are so saturated by bias they can’t even see it.

Mr. Rutten says he draws different conclusions from the facts and that journalists exclude their biases. People make mistakes and he doesn’t see any willful political shading to news stories. Go ahead and read both pieces.

Radioblogger asks bloggers to write what and why Mr. Rutten was not understanding about Hugh Hewitt’s counter argument. Here’s an illustration:

Hugh and a Mike are discussing a restaurant around the corner. “It was terrible!” cries Mike. “The food wasn’t healthy, the service was slow, the bill was high – I have written it off my list. I’ll never go there again.” Two days later Hugh finds he left his lunch at home and decides to risk the restaurant. Hugh finds the food tasty, the place crowded and the bill reasonable for the food he purchased. Running into Mike, he comments saying: “The cheeseburger was tasty, served with a smile and only cost 7 bucks!” Mike replies, “My tofu sampler has always been delivered to my table 3 minutes after ordering it at Organic Hut and only costs 4 bucks! That’s the place that’s best!”

Mike’s idea of what a restaurant ought to serve, how quickly and at what price are vastly different than Hugh. His analysis of the Burger Palace wasn’t wrong but his perceptions colored his facts. When Mike bounces up to Hugh and says he has found a great new restaurant Hugh will know Mike tends to favor Organic Hut and weight the recommendation accordingly. Mike wonders why Hugh doesn’t agree with his choice of restaurant.


Arrrgh! Am I actually cat blogging? Kinda. I have no amusing cat stories or cutsie photos to share. *Post edited on August 31, 2005 2:17 PM Still this cat burgler takes the cake.
Two officers finally found the offender, a cat, hiding under a kitchen cabinet but the heavyweight male resisted arrest, biting one officer in the thumb before they both managed to overpower it.

That must have been a mutantly large cat. What do they put in the water in Germany? Extra agression floride?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

This Road

Driving down the road, sheer contentment overwhelms me. I'm southbound on 20 ferrying the kids back from Aikido. They've run out their energy and sit quietly letting the breeze from the rolled down windows ruffle their hair. The day, sunny and 70's, gives way to dark clouds of a storm front swept in on a breeze tangy with salt. Filtered through the swath of forest, the salt mingles with the fecund green scent of pine trees, moss and blackberry brambles heavy with fruit. The shuffle kicks up This Road by Jars of Clay:

Oh heavy laden
Acquainted with Sorrow
may Christ in our marrow
carry us home.

From alabaster
come blessings of laughter
a fragrance of passion
and joy from the truth

Grant the unbroken
tears ever flowing
From hearts of contrition
only for you

May sin never hold true
that love never broke though
For God's mercy holds us
and we are His own

This Road that we travel
May it be the straight and narrow
God give us peace and grace from you
all the day through

Shelter with Fire
our voices we raise still higher
God give us peace and grace from you
all the day through

Our car tops the crest of the hill. Looking to my right I see the mist encroaching up the silver sliver of Puget Sound
. To the left the still placid waters of Penn Cove. As I roll down the hill, the sweet fragrance of clover fields creeps under the sea scent replacing it. So consuming and pervasive, it becomes a sweet taste on my tongue and I hum my contentment like a bee.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Mutual Insanity

James Taranto at Best of the Web reports:

"I'm just so honored that the universe chose me to be the spark that has set off a raging inferno," Cindy Sheehan, back in Crawford, Texas, tells the Los Angeles Times. "And when I had to leave, it proved that you don't need the spark anymore, because the fire is burning. And it's not going to go out. If George Bush came out and spoke with me today and we went home, this wouldn't end."

In a speech to supporters Wednesday, Sheehan claimed the support of "tens of thousands of angels." The Associated Press reports that New York racial demagogue Al Sharpton plans to join Sheehan in Texas on Sunday, while the neo-Nazi Web site says its backers will arrive tomorrow to "help put up a White Nationalist voice in the protest against Bush's War for Israel that was started by Cindy Sheehan."

Next, according to blogger Jonathan Wilson: "Celebrity boxing with Tonya Harding." The universe certainly has a sense of humor.

Al Sharpton and neo-Nazis. Together. If they ever stop talking about thier mutual hatred of President Bush and Jews they'll kill each other. Then they'll blame the Jewish neo-con cabal for forcing them to come together, so of course it will be Rove's fault that thier cohorts came to a bad end. Isn't that the way the thinking goes?

The Scene: Around a campfire in Crawford:

AS: Too many young, black children are dying in a war for Israel. It's those Jew neo-cons who wanted oil that are telling that stupid SOB on Pensylvannia Ave what to do.

NN: Those Jews they are the reason so many pure Aryans are gone today. They should have been killed along time ago. Bush is a traitor to his nation, but what do you expect letting a black woman run the State department?

AS: She's a house slave, you don't really think the Jews let her do anything. It's that Jew Rove who does anything and Wolfowitz.

NN: They're all brown. This nation needs cleansing, if we had people like Senator Byrd in the White House we would never fight for some brown people. It's the WHITE House and should stay that way. It's brown people ruining this country.

AS: Sputters. It's the white Man opressing the proud African man that has ruined this country. That's who needs to be run out of our community.

Fisticuffs. End Scene.

Offered up at Basil's Blog.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Captain's Log: Morning Edition

Jonah Goldberg isn't my favorite pundit but I can't wait to catch him hosting Morning Edition on NPR tomorrow. NPR, now with more Star Trek comparisons! Sweet.

UPDATE: Ok, so he subbed in the analysis for Dan Schorr. Here's the streaming audio.

Existential Questions of Childhood II

If baby sisters need naps, when do they need peanut butter sandwiches?

After posting the first EQoC, a few readers asked about it. These are rhetorical questions posed by the Verbalist to himself. As is often the case, the Verbalist finds himelf his own best audience and holds long conversations with himself. The answers to these questions are: I don't know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Quiche, easy as pie? Well it comes in a pie crust and pie crust is really the most difficult part of quiche. So if you are pressed for time cheat and use a ready made crust.

1 unbaked 9" pie shell.

4 large eggs
2 cups grated cheese
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste.
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
rosemary to taste

1 lg diced baked potato (or leftover hashbrowns!)
1/2 medium red onion diced
1/4 cup diced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced ham

Mix eggs, milk, cheese et al and pour into shell. Add veggies and meat. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean. I usually use cheddar and what ever else is in my fridge. This is kinda of a Mother Hubbard entree because you can throw together any old combo of stuff that tastes good. Try ground beef, salsa, corn and add cumin and garlic to your egg mixture. Dallop of sour cream, yum!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Purpose Driven Country

John Coleman at Ex Nihilo points out a Time article which profiles the partnering of Pastor Rick Warren (of the Saddleback Church in CA. and author of The Purpose Driven Life) with the Rwandan government to revitalize that country. (ht: Joe at Evangelical Outpost)

He notes:

It seems to me that two of the biggest movers of political and cultural reform over the coming century will be private charity and globalization (the extension of Western security and economic rule sets--free markets, private property, etc.--to developing or war-ravaged nations); and Warren's initiative might mark something of a turning point for both Africa and the church.

If religion, perverted, can impassion people to perpetrate suicide bombings and violent crusades, perhaps the redirection of religious passion--the kind espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, pastor Rick Warren, Ghandi, and others like them--could drive positive change in the lives of people who, thus far, have rarely seen anything more substantive from the West than Live Aid

I agree. TIME magazine gives time to some skeptics:
Yet there are some skeptics. Many missions professionals regard short-term site visits by faith-driven amateurs as inefficient. Then there is the program's improvisational aura. "I'm cheering 'em on," says Wheaton's Moreau. "In Africa, programs appearing well connected can instantly attract a mass of people. But I wonder how many at Saddleback have the cross-cultural experience to convert that [enthusiasm] to feet on the ground." Says Furaha Mugisha, editor of the Rwandan newspaper Umuseso: "I think [Warren] has good intentions. Some people may benefit. But he is not different from other pastors we have seen. You won't hear much about his plan after the rally."

I think that the skeptics are missing a vital part of the picture. From TIME again (bolding mine):
Warren also expects about 500 of the "small groups" that make up Saddleback to "adopt" individual Rwandan villages and begin sending short-term visitors in the fall.

Kagame, impressed by The Purpose-Driven Life, volunteered Rwanda in March. In July Warren and 48 other American Evangelicals, who have backgrounds in areas like health, education, micro-enterprises and justice, held intensive planning meetings with Rwandan Cabinet ministers, governors, clergy and entrepreneurs. One dinner was attended by a third of the Rwandan Parliament.

He has tapped Saddleback congregants to talk with the heads of specific Rwandan sectors.

Small groups are the key. Small groups in churches are incredibly supportive, focused and accountable. I would be willing to bet there is alot of careful matching of small groups with various officials, areas of expert need, and villages. Warren will have a firm network of leaders he has "tapped" within those accountable small groups. These small groups will partner with key people on the local level and all politics are local. All change is local.

The Big One

Patrick Ruffini has a new poll out comparing Republican '08 presidential contenders. He complicates it by adding in the "fantasy candidates" and figuring how well they do over all and who they are most likely to take votes from if they did enter the race. For example, I voted for Senator George Allen but given the choice between Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice and Allen, I'd go with Rice. Looks as if Rice could beat anyone out there.

Even among the Center/Libertarian crowd from Glenn Reynolds, Rice is a clear favorite followed by Guiliani. Rice v Guiliani shows Rice gaining 49.5 % of the vote while Guiliani nets 11.4%. Without Rice in the race he has a comfortable margin (45.3%) over his nearest competitor John McCain (at 12.3%). Ruffini's poll is still open so it will interesting to see if it changes much.

I think that Rice would do very well nationally. People know her name, she's sharp, articulate, good looking and has the rare ability to be matter of fact and gracious. Her closeness to the Bushes could be either an asset or a liability but I believe it would be an asset, especially as the economy is doing well and should continue to do so.

Social conservatives tend towards unhappiness at a pro-choice candidate, and some folks have speculated that Guiliani would have a more difficult time in the primaries because of it. Perhaps, but not to the degree projected. Guilani has name recognition and tough on crime creds; no real scandals (Bernard Kerik who?) . McCain while having good name recognition will come under fire for the "Senate 14" deal IF there is a nasty judicial battle and more importantly the travesty of Campaign Finance Reform which bears his name. You can't get money out of politics and it's potential to limit First Amendment rights among non-codified journalists will get attacked from right and left.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Lileks vs. Tim Burton

Lileks smacks at Tim Burton in his Backfence column:
I'm done with Tim Burton. I loved some of the earlier movies, but I peeled off after the second Batman. Subsequent efforts have bored or amused, but what counts is that I don't get that old familiar thrill: Dude! A Tim! Burton! Movie! I am so there. I am so not. I am so renting the DVD nine months later. Some artists keep me interested; others lost me years ago.

Yeah, that's pretty much the case. I liked Charlie and the Choclate Factory, but the Roald Dahl wrote weird and creepy kid's stories. I also didn't see the whole Michael Jackson connection but that is perhaps because I have avoided all refernce to that disturbed individual. Um, what was the last Tim Burton movie I liked? Well that depends, did Batman or Edward Scissorhands come first? When my mom, sis and I took the kids to see Charlie, there was a trailer for Corpse Bride. Again from Lileks:
The rather pretentious name of the movie is "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," which seems to suggest he is not only a necrophiliac but a bigamist, unless he smothered Helena Bonham-Carter before renewing their vows. In any case, the movie -- due exactly one month from today -- concerns a fellow who mistakenly betroths himself to a dead woman. Or rather a dead puppet, since this is all stop-motion animation. She takes her revenge, I assume, all to the oompa-oompa accompaniment of the obligatory indistinguishable Danny Elfman score. I'm sure it'll be a hit with the glum-teen-female crowd, because, well, the Corpse Bride is dead, which makes her not just cool but downright lucky.

We immediately jumped to cover the eyes of the tots. Who needs this? It seems a pointless excursion into morbidity. I am not against suspense or action in a kid's flick, I think that parents should gage the appropriateness of the material for thier kids. Corpses though? Wasn't it bad enough we had shriveled heads for Christmas presents? If I want offbeat kids stuff I can delve into the classics. Mary Poppins wasn't the relentlessly cheerful Julie Andrew, her magic had an edge of danger to it. Let's see a remake of Poppins by Nicolas Roeg who directed The Witches a marvelous adapatation of another Dahl story. Place it in the hands of PJ Hogan who reclaimed Peter Pan from it's saccharine animated version and told Wendy's story anew.

Lileks contrasts Tim Burton with Nick Park the creator of the Wallace and Gromit claymations whose feature is premiering opposite Corpse Bride. He asks:
Quick! You get to name the ruler of the world. Burton or Park? In whose world would you rather live?

I say: "Crackin' toast Gromit!"

County Fair!

We went to the county fair yesterday. Last day of the fair, unlike last year it did not rain. No wait, that was two years ago. Running from cattle barn to horse barn when the rain lightened trying to Create Memories amid sodden heaps of sawdust. But we do create them every year, even if those memories blur into one amalgum of experience when they are adults.

The Muralist's highlight this year seems to have been beading her own necklace. Usually in the arts and crafts building the fair have some kind of activity for the children, last year it was coloring paperbag puppets. This time they had a craft free for all outside under the trees which was really nice because the buildings can get stifling in August. They had a platfrom set up near the police child ID stand. (We got these last year too. I know I am biased: I think my kids take pretty cute pictures. These, however, looked like they ought to be holding up numbers and exposing identifying marks and tatoos.) While we were waiting for the ID kits to be finished the kids and I sidled over to the craft table and started projects. The Verbalist abandoned his to play with some other kids near by (whose parents were also waiting on ID kits I'd bet). The Muralist found a raison d'etre: the beading table. Beads with letters on them, hearts, stars, butterflies, pink, purple, gold, green, shiney - they all went on.

The Verbalist wove. In the weaving and spinning portion of the crafts building there was a woman weaving and allowed the kids to try out her loom. The Muralist's interest held long enough for a photo op but the Verbalist had a new horizon of questions and technology opened to him. Plus since he did it first he could "instruct" his sister.

We went here, we went there we wandered into the fine arts building. They paused and examined the entries with a gravity befitting curators examining Old Masters. Thier pronouncements were made in loud penetrating voices. "That one looks like somone made a mess!" intoned the Muralist, whose own booger and glitter creations makes her an authority on messy canvasses. The art judge sitting in on a chair in the corner sniffed condescendingly and the few other gazers tittered appreciatively. Art at the county fair, maybe someone should have told her hoi polloi might casually give opinions there.

At last, hot and exhausted we walked back to the boy scout's impromptu parking area. Rolling down the windows to flush out the stale air, we rolled past the entrance on our way home. A heady scents of cows, burning sugar and barbeque wafted through the air and the clackety of the arcade competed with the sea chanties sung on center stage. Turning my face away from the fair I glimpsed the shaded road ahead and hoped that the wind would be off the sea when we got home.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


My children have never, thankfully, been the type to put random objects in thier mouths or up thier noses. I am told that children who do this are trying to explore thier world and understand textures, purpose, object orientation and any other number of rationalizations. As a mother, I am happy that I don't have to make trips to the pediatrician to have her remove things with forceps from orifices that will encase said object with a protective mucous. When my niece swallowed a dime, the doctor consulted said his policy was to let the kids keep any change under a quarter.

Lately, the Muralist has become enchanted with her nose. Two days ago she was using nasal content as an art medium. Crayons, markers and the like are ruthlessly policed given her tendency to see all surfaces as her canvas. On this occation though she decided not to bother her mother for crayons but to make a "book" using posty notes and nostril pickin's. It was only her request for glitter that clued me to her avante guard medium. It was viscous enough that she decided glitter was needed but the glue stick extraneous.

This morning she was putting milk a drop at a time at the top of her nose and tilting her head so it ran to the tip and licking it off - or trying to. She instead was crossing her eyes, sticking out her tounge and eventually prodding it with her finger.
Just now she came out with her elephant's tail ensconced up her left nose hole. Her inspiration derived from the Saggy Baggy Elephant where in the elephants walk single file holding tails with thier noses, since the Muralist doesn't have a tail...

Existential Questions of Childhood I

So Self, how does it feel to be sitting in a box alone coloring with markers?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Cynical Voice Triumphant

A Hindu proverb says: "A sacrifice is obliterated by a lie and the merit of alms by an act of fraud."

Air America's grave just gets deeper and deeper. The New York Sun has provided a free handy link to all their stories via Captain Ed. I hadn't intended on blogging this story anymore, I really didn't have much to say that hasn't been ably said by Michelle Malkin, Brian Maloney and various legal types who have commented there. As I have been following this story I was struck by this paragraph in the Sun's story about an additional lawsuit filed againt Air America.

Board members of Gloria Wise have described several ways in which Mr. Cohen, who was the club's director of development, purportedly orchestrated the $875,000 in transfers. Besides loans to the start-up radio network, these included two loans for $35,000 to Mr. Cohen that, board members said, were meant to help him pay for medical expenses for himself and his "gravely ill father."

But a clipping from the Pacific Daily News, a Guam newspaper, shows that Mr. Cohen's father, Marvin Montvel-Cohen, died in February 1991, more than a decade before Evan Cohen's pleas for money.

As terrible as it is to embezzle money, worse to embezzle money from a charity, I had some vestige of sympathy in my heart for the medical expenses bit. My cynical voice kept saying that medical expense was an unlikely expenditure and a bank in the Caymans was most likely the recipient of those funds. Still, I don't like that cynical voice and try to ignore it. I can't ignore my cynical voice anymore.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Peach Cobbler

This week the Carnival of Recipes marks the first carnival of it's second year. Deep genuflections to Conservative Cat whose brainchild this was. As CoR is celebrating it's birthday I am going to post a recipe for peach cobbler. This recipe is modeled after my mom's blackberry cobbler, a treat of mouthwatering delight that turned your mouth purple as an iris. Peaches are my Dear Husband's favorite fruit, he demands peach pie instead of birthday cake. Lucky for him he was born in August to facilitate that demand.

Peach Cobbler:

Fruit goody:

2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
4 - 4 1/2 cups peeled, diced peaches
1 tsp lemon juice
whisp of cinnamon

Cake (sometimes called biscuit):

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) chilled butter
1/4 cup milk

Combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in large bowl then add peaches and lemon juice tossing until thoroughly coated. Pour into casserole dish.

Now combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter with fingers or fork until crumbly. Stir in milk until cake is just cohesive. Roll out and cut in strips or crescents and place on top of fruit. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 325 and bake until fruit goody bubbles and topping is brown about another 20 minutes.

UPDATE: How wrong I type! I meant Beth at She Who Will Be Obeyed
is the mastermind behind the Carnival of Recipes. I grovel for a kind word.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Adventures in Tourist Season

Frapping tourists. I live on a destination island so I suppose I should get used to it. Plus, it's not like I need any help becoming misanthropic. Still and all they can be mighty annoying.

The kids completed thier summer prescribed tour of the Dewey Decimal system today. (The 400's language!) so we shuffled down to the library to prove our worthiness for the final prize package (coupon for an Italian Soda, free book, coupon for free movie rental, coupon for free swim at the pool) and to drop names in the hat for the next to last prize drawing of the summer. I drove back down Main Street to the store, pulled into the parking lot and stopped. Not parked, stopped because there was no place to park. I circled down the back alley by the lumber yard and turned back onto Main. I saw a spot come open right by the mail box which was handy as I had a Netflix to drop off and there is road work further down Main where the post office resides. I pulled back into the parking lot and manuvered for the spot and was stopped by a small class-C rig trying to pull OUT. I was in his blind spot and there was no way he could have seen me so I touched the horn and reversed. As he pulled out I saw another load of tourists take MY spot. Grrr.

"Why are you mad, Mommy?" inquires the Verbalist in full Inquisitor mode, pausing in the midst of I Just Can't Wait to Be King, an apt song for him if ever there was one.

"That car parked where Mommy wanted to."

Parked at last, I herded the children into the store. As I placed the Infant in the cart I heard the Muralist exclaim, "Ounch!" with enough vehemence that I knew it was not a preemptory expression of impending hurt. A passing cart and squeezed her into the gumball machine and pinched her finger. I looked at it and whipped a Care Bear bandage on the spot that might look at bit redder if you caught it out of the corner of your eye, and we pressed on to the bread aisle. All through the store, I admired her bandage and ducked tourists looking for S'mores and beer.

The checker, who also is my neighbor down the lane, duly admired the bandage and the cartoon bears it depicted. We shared a commisserating look and I rounded up the Verbalist (who has determined he can crack the store safe which sits by the lotto display). Loaded back into the car we pulled out of the lot pausing to look both ways before entering the street.

"The car!" shrilled the Muralist spotting the car that had so precipitously taken MY SPOT. She caught the eye of the passenger and waved the pointed to her bandage. I glanced over and caught the slightly shocked look on the passenger's face, and chuckled a bit cruely under my breath: in showing off her prized injury the Muralist gave them the Avian Salute. Heh. Tourists.

Monday, August 15, 2005

From the Mailbag

Unlike some bloggers out there I do not yet rate hate mail about my blog posts. Well, that is only because some of my correspondents have not found my blog yet. I am sure that when Jake (last name omitted) finds me here I will begin to get hate mail. Hi Jake! Still I get the occasional email asking if I had seen or heard of a news tidbit and if I plan on commenting. Recently the topics are Justice Sunday (part deax!) and Cindy Sheehan.

I don't plan on posting on Cindy Sheehan other than to say grief should not be unseemly. Perhaps that seems cold. Overemotionalism makes me deeply uncomfortable. The deliberate stoking of unhealthy excess ruins more than just the stoker. I am reminded of three very disparate things: Miss Havisham, Queen Victoria, and Jarius' daughter.

Justice Sunday seems to be well taken care of. I look forward to the video from Trey Jackson. I support and approve of Christians engaging in politics, they are after all citizens and should impact thier communities. I do not know how wise it is using church facilities to hold a political rally. It makes many believers and unbelievers alike feel hinky. I know that the church is the body of people and not the building in which they gather, still I dislike the politicizing of the space. Joe Carter who live blogged the event seems to have similar feelings about the flag. He writes:
5:50pm -- After thirty years as an American evangelical you’d think I’d be used to seeing an American flag in the church. But while I respect the symbol of our country, I’ve never been comfortable with an object that inspires patriotism sharing the stage with the symbol of our Savior’s sacrifice. So I feel a bit uneasy seeing the two flags flanking a cross with a plaster statue of the Ten Commandments centered in front, being used as the backdrop for the speakers. The cross is sufficient for salvation. Why is it not sufficient for the church?

Conversation in politics these days seems shrill and nasty more and more. Christians more than anyone else need to guard against pride and hypocrisy. How easy it is to fall into a holier than thou attitude, especially in a polarized political climate. Christians should be "wise as serpents, gentle as doves." Given the organizers of the event it is understandable that the format strikes my mind as similar to visiting evangelist events, again it makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps next time they could simply open with an inter-faith prayer and skip the praise and worship.


Sorry for the non-existent blogging this weekend. My in-laws were here and it was great fun but did not facilitate blogging. The Verbalist got a new bike: a real bike with training wheels. In the great circle of life that means that the Muralist now has exclusive use of the tricycle. Let the races begin! Now that both children are equipted with wheels there is the possibility that I can face the Rube Goldberg Device of Terror with only the Infant for an audience.

The RGD of T is a sewing machine. A basic Singer, it still has more levers, widgits and knobs than I am comfortable with. My sister and I have reached our thirties with a deep seated dread that we will somehow Mess It Up. Perhaps we will thread it wrong, break needles or generally have parts fly off and and smoke rise from the flaming wreckage. I sat down yesterday convinced I would need safety goggles.

My mother-in-law sews or Sews with the capital. She sat down and gave a quick but thorough tutorial on use. Told us what to know and lever did what and told us not to touch the settings on some. Then, under her benevolent gaze, I sewed about 4 lines of straight stitches. It is still set up waiting for me now that she is gone. Safety Goggles? Check.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Perfect Pizza Crust

My husband usually makes this. I am making it tonight waiting for guests to arrive.

1 tsp dry active yeast
3 cups flour
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp rosemary

combine, knead then let rise. dough should be elastic and slightly sticky. toss and then push into a circle on your pizza pan, slick with more olive oil

Who I Was

I spent yesterday morning in the Social Security Office with three children. What could spell good humor more than pointless beauracracy with small, wiggling children as background distraction? What better than to spend 90 minutes driving each way to the office? Just how, asks the reader, did I earn such a felicitous task? Self improvement darling ones. I have registered at the local college for fall classes and have requested money from the gummint to finance my foray back into the halls of knowledge. It seems as though my last foray into the Social Security Administration didn't take and even though I have been paying taxes as a married person for 11 years, the SSA still seems to think I am single. Until I manage to straighten out my dual nature, no Pell grant for me. So off we go kalloo kallay.

I arrive at the office after a searching exhaustively for a drab little building eventually found tucked behind a thrift store. Ominously, there is an armed guard and a pointed warning sign about guns and knives. This place has no money and this building and it's contents do not strike me as having a high enough profile for a terror target. Who exactly do they think will attack? Or even menance? Deranged libertarians? Well they do get one percent of the vote here in Washington. Hmmmmm. I hustle me children through the doors and take a number from the ticket machine. As I grab number 64 I glance at the portrait of the President that graces all government outlets.

It is the typical presidential portrait with the flag in the background, but it reminds me of a school picture. Ya'll know school photo day, there is invariably the percentage of kids who forget and have an uncomfortable look on thier face because they are not in the sartorial statement the wished to be immortalized in. The photographer has a lot of kids to get through and just wants a minimally acceptable photo. You'd think that the photographer of the official presidential portrait would manage to make the leader of the free world look better than the guy hustling through 6th graders. It is the same with former President Clinton. Bush Sr.'s portrait looks as though he is aping a painting. Reagan looks very relaxed in front of the camera, as befits a former denizen of Hollywood.

As I walk my children to the seats there is a small but audible sigh that rises from the waiting group of supplicants. They do not know my children and can not be blamed for not wanting to listen to rowdiness or a wailing infant. The Infant is in fact asleep, and I fervently entreat the Almighty that she stay that way. Seeing the waiting room now contains 3 small children, the office workers close two of the four service windows. Another restless mumble sweeps the supplicants and then the outer door opens to admit another 12 people. Another service window promptly closes to ensure maximum wait time among the natives. If anymore people take a number I expect the remaining window to close and an "out to lunch" sign to appear. This is why there is an armed guard, to keep the crowd from rushing the windows and demanding to fill out form TPH3X9000.

At last they call my number and I herd my offspring to the service window. It is a thick plexiglass barrier I have not seen outside movie portrayals of prisons. I look around for the phone set and leg shackles. I pause here because I am trying to figure out how best to entertainingly describe what is mindboggling boring and silly at the same time. The worker bee was nice enough, unlike some inmates of the Department of Motor Vehicles, it didn't seem like she enjoyed hassling you, hassling you was just happened to be her job description. Apparently, a certified birth certificate is not adequate proof to the Powers that Be of who I was before entering into the State of Wedded Bliss. It is not who I have become officially that they are challenging but I who I was officially and my first foray into documented life is not enough to prove it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Certain types of reality TV entertain me. The mean part of me. I suspect among my audience there are those nodding in agreement. I speak of shows like the recently completed first season of Hell's Kitchen. There is an element of it in Simon Cowell's show, American Idol. Don't tell me it is about the singing, Cowell is the one who was tapped for a Coca-Cola commercial - not Kelly Clarkson or Ruben or Fantasia. The mean part of me likes seeing people get criticized, the rest of me says, by way of justification, "They volunteered for it." In the oh so correct, PC world, there is an audience who likes seeing merit rewarded and people have to work like diggety.

Hell's Kitchen took a bunch of people and placed them under world class Chef Ramsay, to compete for their own restaurant. Food service is a hard industry and people are not likely to give second chances to venues that produce bad food. Food service is a lot of long, hard grunt work that is generally worse the farther down the chain of command it gets. Americans by and large like people who have paid their dues to succeed. Maybe it is because there is no real aristocracy here, compared to the rest of the western world we are new money, but every American watching thinks at some point, "I could do that." That is, work real hard and realize a dream. The Ramsays and the Cowells? The boss you know is out there, who will not hand out a paycheck for a half-baked job. That's the reality.

Then there is this kind of reality show, the Eurovision song contest. They desperately need the Simon Cowell. Or the Manolo. Red Hot Granny and the Chili Peppers just kind of says it all. (ht: Beryl via email)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Thank Goodness . . .

for the Granny Brigade. There is a particular attraction that pulls in Grannies and Girls at church, the Infant. I am not speaking of the robust specimens of grandparent like my mother and mother in law, but the grannies with the shiny white curls with the cane that matches thier summer weight wool suits who, honest to God, utter the phrase, "What a cute little Puddin'." On the other end of the spectrum are the Girls. Starting at about eleven and going to about fifteen, they almost invariably roam the foyer in groups of three; too old to run with the little kids and not quite old enough to act jaded and cool by the coffee cart.

Last Sunday we slept in. Not too late, but so there was just enough time to get ready and hurry out the door to be on time for church. We drive 45 minutes down island to get to church, planning is essential. I didn't have the option of not going either, I was ushing at the main door and thought I would probably get tapped for Communion service too. No lingering over cereal bowls this morning, all three kids were cleaned up and dressed in record time. Even the Verbalist sensed that this was not the morning to make long winded observations on what toy he planned to bring and just what he was going to tell his Sunday School teacher.

There was a hitch in my process, which came from an unusual source - my Dear Husband. The DH tends to be overly organized and also leaves plenty of padding in the schedule for driving. As I tend to start twitching if we arrive late to places, this is a good thing. This morning he didn't get ready. He had forgotten it was my morning to usher and had so sat tinkering with his computer until too late. I poured the children into the car, left the DH to his shower and set off for church contemplating how I was going to juggle 3 children and ushing duties. The youngest 2 could be handed off to nursery personel as soon as the nursery opened, and I was reasonably sure the Verbalist would want to "help" pass the collection plate and bulletins, no my concern was what to do until the nursery opened.

I shouldn't have worried, the Infant pulled many Grannies and Girls into her orbit and I had only to choose among many eager assistants. The Infant and the Muralist were then installed in the nursery, stuck to my side the Verbalist. He was Very Good and sat quietly while I helped serve Communion. He is beginning to understand that church is fun but there are times of solemnity that small boys do not talk through, they do not wiggle in, and that are not occasions when Panda Bears should dance. Then there is the collection, which apparently is OK for boys to wiggle and Panda Bears to solicit funds from folks in the front row. Shakedown for Jesus, courtesy of my four year old's stuffed bear. It's one thing to pass the collection plate, it's another to ask, "Aren't you going to put something in?" while waving it under thier noses. Children were then dismissed to Sunday School, small mercies abound.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mount Novak

A lot of people are reading things into Bob Novak walking off the CNN "discussion" with James Carville and the talking head, Henry. (ht: Political Teen) Mostly the thinking goes that Novak wanted to avoid questions about the Plame case. Lori Byrd swung around to that way of thinking after first thinking along the same lines I did.

Nope, not buying it. Look, Novak doesn't have to say anything other than he doesn't want to comment on the ongoing investigation. Novak, I think, is fed up. In his August 1 column Novak writes:
Though frustrated, I have followed the advice of my attorneys and written almost nothing about the CIA leak over two years because of a criminal investigation by a federal special prosecutor. The lawyers also urged me not to write this. But the allegation against me is so patently incorrect and so abuses my integrity as a journalist that I feel constrained to reply.

Frustrated and abuses my integrity. I think Novak is proud of his column about Wilson and Niger and fed up with being vilified. People have insinuated that Novak has been used by the White House and Carville's crack about being watched by right wing masters was what psuhed him over the edge. Novak rumbles and vents some like Mt. St. Helens and I think he's going to blow soon. The longer the Fitzgerald investigation takes the uglier it's going to be. The man has been digging around for decades, he could kill alot of sacred cows if he wanted to I bet. I wouldn't tick him off.

Uh can't remember where I saw him first refered to as Mount Novak, but thanks!


The Infant is blissful. Not happy or content or any other state of being that describes a sense of well being, bliss is the word. A full belly, clean from the skin out and toes spread to the breeze of a fan brings a blissful smile to her face. I have decided to try it - after the other two go to bed tonight of course. The only way a mom of the under five crowd to be blissful is to add QUIET to that list. I think the toe spreading part is what tips the scale from content.

I can't emulate the dog. Well, I could, but it is uncouth for me to spread my haunches nekkid under the cherry tree. This isn't Eugene, Oregon. (rimshot. Anyone who's lived there knows.)

The Verbalist and the Muralist require large doses of chocolate ice cream to reach the bliss state. Good Lord and my scale -scratch that, mirror, I gave up owning a scale- know I love chocolate ice cream, but as I am attempting to keep my new slim (huh?- ed. HUSH-me) post baby silloutte there is a certain amount of guilt involved therein. Guilt keeps you from tipping over into the bliss catagory.

The cats are dozing in a puddle of sunshine. Cats, it's so hard to tell if bliss enters it. Can you be blissful and still supercilious? If anyone can it's a cat. Bliss requires an innocence of heart and cats are innocently superior.

I'll break from the high philosophy and end with an ancedote. The kids and I ran around to the local store to grab an odd or end, I forget which, and the marched around very good and not lobbying for anything. I had just turned down a new aisle when I realized the Verbalist was no longer with me. I looked back around the corner to see him with two boxes, apparently evaluating the nutritional information. No mean accomplishment since he is just learning 3-4 four letter words. The shelf stocker asked him if he needed help and he held up the boxes.
"Just wondering," he piped, "if these say if moms will buy them."


Jay Nordlinger at NRO has been teasing me with milkshakes. So I have decided to post an easy milkshake recipe. So easy that the kids are going to help me make one tonight. Anything made with a 2 year old's "help" is uber-easy.

2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sliced strawberries.

Blend. Adjust milk to make a thicker or thinner 'shake. I actually have blueberries in my freezer so I'll be making a blueberry shake.

What they hey, here's a two-fer, 'cause you need a cookie with that milkshake right?

Russian Tea Cookie

1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In small bowl combine nuts and flour. In saucepan mix corn syrup, sugar and butter over medium. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and add flour/nuts. Drop onto cookie sheets by teaspoonful 3" apart. Bake 5 minutes or until center is set. Let rest before removing from pan. If you are doing batches, be sure that your batter stays warm until it gets into the oven. These turn into the the most scrumptious crisp wafers perfect for dipping.

Suicide Bombers and Youth Lit

Betsy Newmark asks as if teens really need a book that glorifies suicide bombing? She is talking about Checkmate by Malorie Blackman. Betsy says:
So, the author creates a fictional world that is quite racist. As a little touch, the blacks are the upper class and the whites are the mistreated lower class. See, that can open up our eyes in case you're too insensitive to understand racism if the victim is black.

I have not read Checkmate but I did read Ms. Blackman's award winner Noughts and Crosses. Checkmate sounds like an extension of the world created in Noughts and Crosses.

Noughts and Crosses reverses race roles between blacks (naughts) and whites (crosses) in (it is implied) an alternate England. Callum and Persephone, the star-crossed nought and cross, struggle to get past the segregation taboos. The idea, intriguing and rich with possibilities, was unfortunately not as well executed as could have been. About half way through the book there is a huge shift into preachy clunkiness that no longer engaging characters can not carry. The earnestness of young love and struggling against your parents' prejudices gives way to victim mentality when young Callum joins an IRA-like "liberation" group and bombs a mall. As if killing innocent shoppers is justified by racism. Sorry.
It's as if Ms. Blackman can't make a story about teen love and race relations but must instead hammer in a justification of violence or at least a glamorization of it- even destroying the nascent romance between the principals by an attempted rape scene. A lot of my reading circle raved over Noughts and Crosses, I thought Ms. Blackman's heavy handed insertion of the victim mentality ruined whatever legitimate arguements she had at the beginning of the book. The most thought provoking part of her book was the afterward, where she speaks about the peripheral treatment given many historical figures in textbooks because of ethnicity.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Prayers for his wife Lisa

Steven Vincent, has been murdered in Basra. I briefly blogged on him back in May, following a request by Jeff over at Shape of Days. Here is a link to the New York Times story that seems to have got him killed. Here is an op/ed in the Washington Times demonstrating is invaluable work. His clear eyed reporting on the war in Iraq was sorely needed. Please pray for his wife, Lisa, and loved ones.

Round up here. Also words from Iraq news columnist Arthur Cherenkoff this a must read.
few months later he was back in Basra, a city he fell in love with. He wrote to me that his family didn't want to let go back to Iraq, but he felt he had to. He knew there were risks - he has been threatened before - and initially he was considering doing his research there incommunicado. But in the end he decided not to hide away, and even openly blog while in Iraq on his Red Zone blog.

Here's a key graf from his NYT piece:

Unfortunately, this is precisely what the British aren't doing. Fearing to appear like colonial occupiers, they avoid any hint of ideological indoctrination: in my time with them, not once did I see an instructor explain such basics of democracy as the politically neutral role of the police in a civil society. Nor did I see anyone question the alarming number of religious posters on the walls of Basran police stations. When I asked British troops if the security sector reform strategy included measures to encourage cadets to identify with the national government rather than their neighborhood mosque, I received polite shrugs: not our job, mate.

Here's a quote from the Washington Times op/ed:
We muddle through, but the terrible tendencies remain — as revealed in a stunning installment from Iraq of the blog In the Red Zone by journalist Steven Vincent. Mr. Vincent reports from Basra, where he says crooks and corruption are the problem, not terrorism.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Stem Cell Debate Storms

Bill over at INDC has noticed little ol' me and comments that he addresses the funding issue in his tear down of Augustine's Red State post. He does, in an update after I had posted my original post. I am not at all trying to imply that I had anything to do with it. Bill has much better thinkers to contend with. My bad for not checking the updates. Here's the link again.

He then says that he has posted about the funding angle before, so there is no disservice to his readers. I say, that the point of the Red State post was illustrated in the highlighted graf and Bill got so supercilious about Augustine's moral outrage in the rest of the article that he couldn't be bothered to reitierate something in the article he actually might agree with. Maybe I am lazier than the average blogger, but I did bother to scan his archives for a supportive position about funding when it would have taken him a minute to say: "Augustine has a point about funding which I've made before."


There is a mild strain of hypochondria running in my mother's side of the family. How often do you do that: dissect your good and bad attitudes and traits as belonging to the Eagan side or the Smith side? (insert family surname here, I do not presume you all have Eagan blood)

I say mild, in that it does not involve wearing gloves and a propensity to wipe down surfaces like Niles Crane, rather it is more like Jerome K. Jerome's whose cure was:
1lb. beefsteak, with
1 pt. bitter beer
every 6 hrs.
1 10 mile walk every morning.
1 bed 11 sharp every night.
And don't stuff your head up with things you don't understand.

There are folks I am related to that I heartily hope never take to cruising WebMD. I fear needles so irrationally that my whimpering and crying have gotten me banned from the Lion's Club blood drive in the basement of the local Methodist church. My own incipent strain of hypochondria is battled by two things: close proximity to someone who deals with real illness, and a bit of the good natured laziness from my dad's side of the family. When I say "laziness" I am not refering to slouching on a couch wearing a gravy stained wife-beater while watching the Stories on TV. The "laziness" of temperment which realizes that there is no need to get worked up about small things when the big ones are out there, tomorrows troubles are sufficient for tomorrow. (I am not painting a very flattering picture here, trust me they are really nice people.)

The Muralist hurt herself the other day. Not badly - she gave herself a fat lip with a cut on it - but it was a Big Deal About Which to Cry. I was reading news headlines on my lap top while feeding the Infant, when I heard Bang! Thump! "Whaaaaaahhhhh Mommmmmeeeeee" from the other room. The crying was not the my-dignity-or-feeling-are-hurt variety, but the there-is-a-major-injury variety which every mother dreads. The Muralist came hurtling around the corner with a bloody mouth.

As I scrambled to get her into the bathroom and put pressure on with a damp washcloth, the Verbalist steadily proclaimed: "ItwasanaccidentanaccidentI'msorryI'msorryanaccident." He then made tracks on sit on his bed awaiting Impending Doom.

"What happened?" I queried the Muralist.

"We wamme chaammma tammmamamma" she tried to explain muffled by the washcloth.

I called the Verbalist in and asked him. You could see him immediately try to figure out if he a) was in trouble and b) if truthful revelations would land him in hot water. Strike a deal with the DA sonny and you'll get less time in the clink, er room. You better hurry up too 'cause your partner will sing like a canary see. (end bad Cagney impersonation)

"Well you see Mom," he says as earnest and persuasive as a four year old can be, "it's like this, we were practicing."

"Practicing what?" already seeing the answer before me.

"Techniques," he chirps, refering to the self defense Aikido techniques he and his sister learn twice weekly at a local dojo.

"Ryote dori?" I ask "Suwari waza?"

"Furniture techniques," he confidently asserts, sure that he is out of trouble. After all, he was only practicing his Aikido, an accepted activity.

"What are furniture techniques?" I ask weakly, not sure I want to know but with a horrified curiosity driving me on. At this point, they both burst into a detailed description, the Muralist still muffled by washcloth but no longer crying. I hesitate dear reader, from disclosing the full details of "furniture technique"; instead let me assure children everywhere that rocking back in a chair with legs off the floor is apt to result in injury the way parents and teachers say. To parents, "furniture technique" went beyond this and with spinning.

The catalogue of details ended by the Verbalist's emphatic pronouncement: "We need to show Sensei how to do it. He'd love it!" Followed by a corresponding nod from the Muralist. I forbid them "furniture techniques" but encouraged them to explain them to Sensei -who is the final arbitor of techniques.

Throughout the day though the Muralist worried about her fat lip. It was making her talk funny. She could see it if she crossed her eyes. It hurt if she poked it with her finger or chewed on it. Perhaps it needed a band-aid. Perhaps we should go to the doctor. Perhaps we should go to the hospital. Do we need an ambulance? CALL 911!! Do not tell her about WebMD. To close, let us quote Lileks:
The fabric (of the hospital gown) has been chosen from the finest high-grit sandpaper; the pattern answers the nagging question of what happened to all the Soviet fashion designers after the fall of Communism. Of course, it's open at the back, in case your doctor suddenly shouts out DRY ICE SUPPOSITORY! STAT! DAMMIT, NURSE, THERE'S NO TIME TO UNLACE! Could happen.

You sit. You wait. You think: There should be a large butcher's saw on the wall -- huge, serrated, with the words "Gangrene Gertie" written in script on the well-worn handle. And after a few minutes, someone should come and take it away. It would set your mind at ease. Well, whatever happens, it won't involve ol' Gert. This is turning out all right. And if he returns it a few minutes later after an interlude of grinding sounds? Well, at least you know she's sharp -- and that this is the worst it can get. If the doctor came in and gave the saw a little pat -- hello, ol' gal -- you could pretend it was some sort of ritual, like patting that trunk before you go onstage at the Apollo Theater.

The doctor comes in.

"You're not going to saw my leg off, are you, because there's nothing wrong with my leg, it's my -- oh. Sorry. Lost in a hyperventilating hypochondriac fantasy. Hah hah! Can I have sedatives? Please? With chocolate sauce?" But no. You discuss your medical history, and it makes you nervous: Why is he asking if I have these things? Do I look like I have these things? Then he checks your spleen. Your spleen! You never worried about your spleen before! Now you'll be palpating the thing for weeks until you finally go in again: Doc, it's sore. Almost as if it had been poked obsessively for a fortnight.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Stem Cells and Dr. Frist

When my husband read me a headline about Dr. Frist supporting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, I commented, "Well that has killed his '08 presidential ambitions." It's not that conservative Christians couldn't support a candidate who supports that position. I could, although I would be unhappy to do so. What chafes about Frist can be boiled down to a few things. First, no pro-life conservative likes to see a candidate move away from thier position. If you are going to support a candidate who has a different stance on life issues, you do not want to support one that's policy is in movement away from you.

Second, Dr. Frist defends his position with an egregious quote:
"It isn't just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science," Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon, said in a Senate speech. "The president's policy should be modified."

No, Dr. Frist the president's policy is keeping a pork laden program full of ethical concerns stymied at the federal level. (Don't even argue about the pork-all government programs have a pork factor rolled in them.) Embryonic stem cell research has plenty of funding in California. Scientists who actually are making measurable progress in stem cell research are doing so through adult stem cells. To them it is a matter of science, not politics.

Successful experiments on mice are a critical step in getting approval to try a treatment on humans. One reason Dr. Faustman said she has not tried embryonic stem-cell research is because she has not seen research in which a diseased mouse was successfully treated with an embryonic stem cell.

"I was taught something pretty young, and that was: Don't follow the dogma, follow the data," she says. Despite the lack of mouse data, however, the NIH has set aside millions for research on embryonic stem cells.

Meanwhile, Drs. Mitchell and Faustman, who have credible data on treating strokes, kidney damage, and diabetes—some of same diseases the NIH says embryonic stem cells can cure—are denied funding. "I think people who want embryonic stem cells just don't want [alternatives] to work," Dr. Faustman said.

(emphasis mine)

While INDC Journal tears at Red State diarist, Augustine's article criticizing Frist (I do think calling Frist a traitor is unjustified - weak is more accurate), he does his readers a disservice by not pointing out the key point Augustine makes:

As we all know, embryonic stem cell research is not banned in America; it is legal. The issue at hand is taxpayer funding of said research – and just as the GOP does not believe in taxpayer funding for the destruction of unborn people, we should not embrace taxpayer funding for the destruction of embryonic people.

In fact this key graf is pulled out and highlighted, a fact INDC ignores. Look, I understand that the many libertarians and moderates in the GOP do not have the same views on life issues that conservatives do. Stop framing the stem cell debate as if it is an either/or position, embryonic research is ethically debatable but not the end all be all of research. Science is behind adult stem cells as Timothy Goddard ably points out. (8:11 am)

Update and Bump to Top: Patrick Ruffini makes the point much more elegantly than I do about the money. Plus, I think he characterizes how many pro-life individuals feel about embryonic stem cell research:
On the social issue spectrum, stem cell research is seen as a warm and fuzzy version of abortion


We have been ordering Best of the Muppet Show from netflix for the kids. I had forgotten how fun they were. Brian Henson gives a short blip about each episode and the affection he feels for his father and his father's work is great to see. My favorite muppets were always Statler and Waldorf, the cranky old balcony guys. I was delighted to find this. Follow the link, Todd, just once, follow my link.