November 30, 2006

Talk Softly but Carry a Big Woofer - New York Times

Talk Softly but Carry a Big Woofer - New York Times

A good primer for the average surround sound seeker. Perhaps I'll spring for a Dolby 5.1 sound system soon. Hey, what's one more remote to juggle?

For $150, Third-World Laptop Stirs a Big Debate - New York Times

For $150, Third-World Laptop Stirs a Big Debate - New York Times

Negroponte and his team have taken the first steps and created a device and a project that is "good enough to criticize." By doing so, they run the risk of failure, of course. But I'm persuaded that tools in the hands of the desperately poor are the right answer rather than the traditional models of aid.
Perhaps the education benefits, in a traditional sense, can be debated, but think of the empowering created by giving these kids and their families email to communicate worldwide.

The big challenge will be reliable connections to the Internet.

The Immigration Answer? It’s in Mexico’s Classrooms - New York Times

The Immigration Answer? It's in Mexico's Classrooms - New York Times:
The U.S. is not responsible for the poor education of people in other countries. That's nonsense. The immigration problem is driven by the low wages in Mexico compared to what an uneducated person can earn in the U.S. as an illegal.

This author uses a false premise and a failed argument to support higher legal immigration goals for Mexicans and Central Americans. The immigrants that we want (other than political refugees) are those that are legal, within reasonable quotas, with the highest education level possible.

Tyler Cowen, please understand we do not want illegal immigrants, period. Secure the borders and require employers to verify that immigrants they hire are legal. This may sound simplistic and in practice it is very difficult to manage, but that should be the principle underlying U.S. immigration policy.

"Poorly functioning Mexican and Latino educational systems are a central problem behind current immigration dilemmas, and the United States is partly
responsible. If the United States took in a higher ratio of legal immigrants,
and required more education, the entire North American region would be better

November 29, 2006

Protecting Reporters’ Phone Records - New York Times

Protecting Reporters’ Phone Records - New York Times

Well, Mr. & Mrs. editors, you're wrong (again) to think that your reporters rights trump mine when it comes to national security issues. You and I can argue for freedom of the press except when that freedom reduces my right to be free and safe from terrorists who want to destroy this country.

Reporters have no right to shield informants who play fast and loose with my security. The Supreme Court made the correct decision.

November 28, 2006

Hezbollah Said to Help Shiite Army in Iraq - New York Times

Hezbollah Said to Help Shiite Army in Iraq - New York Times

It is in Iran's (Shiite) interest to foment discord and break the Sunni hegemony in the region. That is why Iran is a BIG problem gorilla in the Muslim world. Allowing Iran to have nukes is totally unacceptable, yet the world does not seem to adequately recognize the threat.

My bet is Israel will step up at the appropriate time to prevent it if the world sits on its thumbs too long.

November 27, 2006

More-Savvy Web Retailers Expect More Holiday Profits - New York Times

More-Savvy Web Retailers Expect More Holiday Profits - New York Times:

$100 billion is not small potatoes. Bob Tedeschi earlier in this piece reports forecasts of 20% year-over-year growth in online holiday shopping revenue. That's a substantial increase.

"Patti Freeman Evans, an analyst with JupiterResearch, a technology consulting firm, said online sales this year would reach the $100 billion threshold for the first time. Online sales, she added, would probably constitute 6 percent of total holiday merchandise sales."

November 26, 2006

What It Takes to Make a Student - New York Times

What It Takes to Make a Student - New York Times:

But all these questions point to culture differences as I pointed out in my previous post, assuming no genetic root causes.

"There had, in fact, been evidence for a long time that poor children fell behind rich and middle-class children early, and stayed behind. But researchers had been unable to isolate the reasons for the divergence. Did rich parents have better genes? Did they value education more? Was it that rich parents bought more books and educational toys for their children? Was it because they were more likely to stay married than poor parents? Or was it that rich children ate more nutritious food? Moved less often? Watched less TV? Got more sleep? Without being able to identify the important factors and eliminate the irrelevant ones, there was no way even to begin to find a strategy to shrink the gap."

Further in the piece is this observation from some research:

"Hart and Risley showed that language exposure in early childhood correlated strongly with I.Q. and academic success later on in a childÂ?s life. Hearing fewer words, and a lot of prohibitions and discouragements, had a negative effect on I.Q.; hearing lots of words, and more affirmations and complex sentences, had a positive effect on I.Q. The professional parents were giving their children an advantage with every word they spoke, and the advantage just kept building up."

And then this:

"Brooks-Gunn, a professor at Teachers College, has overseen hundreds of interviews of parents and collected thousands of hours of videotape of parents and children, and she and her research team have graded each one on a variety of scales. Their conclusion: Children from more well-off homes tend to experience parental attitudes that are more sensitive, more encouraging, less intrusive and less detached , all of which, they found, serves to increase I.Q. and school-readiness. They analyzed the data to see if there was something else going on in middle-class homes that could account for the advantage but found that while wealth does matter, child-rearing style matters more."

This is a culture issue!

Here's one of the piece's concluding thoughts:

"The evidence is now overwhelming that if you take an average low-income child and put him into an average American public school, he will almost certainly come out poorly educated. What the small but growing number of successful schools demonstrate is that the public-school system accomplishes that result because we have built it that way. We could also decide to create a different system, one that educates most (if not all) poor minority students to high levels of achievement. It is not yet entirely clear what that system might look like. It might include not only KIPP-like structures and practices but also high-quality early-childhood education, as well as incentives to bring the best teachers to the worst schools . But what is clear is that it is within reach."

After reading it, it is culture, deeply ingrained, generational culture born out of ignorance that's at the root of the problem. Parenting is key as the piece points out. Yet if we look at the parenting deficiencies of blacks (70% of black kids born out of wedlock) .With that poor start at parenting, kids have little chance to suceed without massive intervention. It's no surprise that this culture of failure perpetuates itself. Intensive remediation as employed by the successful charter schools described by the author will be necessary to break the cultural cycle that prevents youngsters from developing as white, middle class and Asian kids do.

Here are some data that show disparities by race and ethnicity of educational attainment in the U.S.

What It Takes to Make a Student - New York Times

What It Takes to Make a Student - New York Times:

I am blogging this long NY Times Sunday Magazine piece as I'm reading it. This is the first very important observation by the author:

"In the first few years of this decade, two parallel debates about the achievement gap have emerged. The first is about causes; the second is about cures. The first has been taking place in academia, among economists and anthropologists and sociologists who are trying to figure out exactly where the gap comes from, why it exists and why it persists. The second is happening among and around a loose coalition of schools, all of them quite new, all established with the goal of wiping out the achievement gap altogether.

The two debates seem barely to overlap — the principals don’t pay much attention to the research papers being published in scholarly journals, and the academics have yet to study closely what is going on in these schools. Examined together, though, they provide a complete and nuanced picture, sometimes disheartening, sometimes hopeful, of what the president and his education officials are up against as they strive to keep the promise they have made. The academics have demonstrated just how deeply pervasive and ingrained are the intellectual and academic disadvantages that poor and minority students must overcome to compete with their white and middle-class peers. The divisions between black and white and rich and poor begin almost at birth, and they are reinforced every day of a child’s life. And yet the schools provide evidence that the president is, in his most basic understanding of the problem, entirely right: the achievement gap can be overcome, in a convincing way, for large numbers of poor and minority students, not in generations but in years. What he and others seem not to have apprehended quite yet is the magnitude of the effort that will be required for that change to take place."

Without reading the full piece, my bias is that we have a cultural, not a socio-economic conundrum that prevents certain minorities from achieving in academics. Being in the minority is not the issue because we know that Asians achieve even above Caucasians in this country because their culture values education. Black and Hispanic cultures, for whatever reason, have generally not valued education as a life goal.

November 25, 2006

London Riddle: A Russian Spy, a Lethal Dose - New York Times

London Riddle: A Russian Spy, a Lethal Dose - New York Times

Hey, this is a James Bondian tale. Could this possibly be a murder? Given the cause of death by a high dose of radioactivity from an exotic isotope, the intrigue is fascinating. The affair certainly has attention of the highest British government officials.

This Russian is certainly the enemy of someone!

November 21, 2006

Pre - Thanksgiving Dinner

Today, I decided to cook a Thanksgiving dinner in advance of our Thanksgiving Day meal with Mark, Caroline, Estlin and Gawain.

I just finished cleaning up after spending most of the day cooking. The menu consisted of a 13 pound fresh turkey from the Stone Farm in Orwell (next town to Shoreham), VT. I ordered it several days ago from Dick Mazza's market here in Colchester. The menu was very traditional:

Mashed Potato
Rutabaga (Turnip)
Butternut Squash
Orange-Cranberry Relish

I had never cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner before and I must say this one was extraordinary!

For the gravy and stock for the stuffing, I boiled down 3 pounds of turkey wings last week simmering for three hours with onion, parsley, celery and assorted spices. After draining the stock, and removing the bones, the meat and any remaining juices along with some more onion and celery and spices became the base of a turkey soup with baby pastina macaroni.

The stuffing was a mixture of sweet pork Italian sausage and ground turkey fried out with equal parts chopped onion and celery with fresh parsley and sage as seasonings. This was all mixed with a cup of chopped dried apricot and baked for 1.5 hours at the the end of roasting the turkey.

I placed a mixture of chopped onion, celery, fresh rosemary, fresh sage and an apple loosely in the turkey cavity and cooked the bird for 45 minutes at 450 degrees, then covered the breast (which cooks faster) with aluminum foil while cooking for about 4 hours at 330 degrees, removing the foil for the last 30 minutes. This fresh turkey was out of this world, succulent, sweet, tender and....well it's my favorite meal!

Carol is ill with a fever so she had only a small supper, but do we have leftovers!!!

I prepared another dish of stuffing which we'll have at Mark's and I'm also bringing Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish.

November 20, 2006

News Corp. cancels O.J. Simpson book and special - MarketWatch

News Corp. cancels O.J. Simpson book and special - MarketWatch

A wise decision by Murdoch to cancel the book and the TV special. What pisses me off is before they cancelled this travesty, they attempted to buy off the Goldmans, et al. Murdoch should have stomped on the fiasco much earlier.

The Smile of Reason - New York Times

The Smile of Reason - New York Times:

David Brooks laments the passing of Milton Friedman and observes...

"...the distinction between intellectual movements and political parties broke
down. Friedman was never interested in partisan politics but was deeply
engaged in policy. Today, team loyalty has taken over the wonk’s world, so
there are invisible boundaries that mark politically useful, and therefore
socially acceptable, thought.

His death is sad, too, because classical economics is under its greatest threat in a generation. Growing evidence suggests average workers are not seeing the benefits of their productivity gains — that the market is broken and requires heavy government correction. Friedman’s heirs have been avoiding this debate. They’re losing it badly and have offered no concrete
remedies to address this problem, if it is one.

I saw Friedman a few times over the past decade, and he would always bring up school vouchers, his unrealized idea. He still brimmed with his faith — which must have been there
when he was a young boy — in average people, making their own decisions, running
their own lives, and doing it pretty well. "

I don't know Friedman's views on globalization, but I expect he was a free market, open trade advocate. It seems to me that free markt capitalism is the best system, but that an inevitable consequence is the massive readjustment of the jobs that Americans do. This is why Bill Gates is calling for an overhaul of the K-12 public education system which does not produce the teaching and learning needed for this century and the jobs needed.

November 18, 2006

How to Make Your Web Site Sing for You - New York Times

How to Make Your Web Site Sing for You - New York Times

Some helpful tips on web site design. When I next rework the site, I must remember these.

Red Wine Ingredient Increases Endurance, Study Shows - New York Times

Some researchers in the field seem to believe the preliminary findings of their experiments and are themselves using a form of the resveratrol substance. Seems a bit premature to me if the clinical trials and other safety testing has not been done.

"Dr. Westphal said he believed that the activation of sirtuins was what kept the body healthy in youth, but that these enzymes became less powerful with age. This is the process that is reversed by resveratrol and, he hopes, by the more powerful sirtuin activator drugs that his company has developed, though many years of clinical trials will be needed to prove they work and are safe.

The buzz over sirtuin activators has infected scientists who do research on the aging process, several of whom are already taking resveratrol. Dr. Sinclair has been swallowing resveratrol capsules for three years and has said his parents and half the members of his laboratory do the same. So does Dr. Tomas Prolla at the University of Wisconsin, who said, Â?The fact that investigators in the field are taking it is a good sign there is something there.Â?

But many others, including Dr. Leonard Guarente of M.I.T., whose 15-year study of sirtuins has laid the basis for the field, say it is premature to take the drug."

Preaching Free-Market Gospel to Skeptical Africa - New York Times

Preaching Free-Market Gospel to Skeptical Africa - New York Times

Given the continued and many failures of leadership and corrupted states in Africa, perhaps a dose of conservative, capitalist free market thinking will be beneficial on that 'continent of horrors.' While aid cannot suddenly be withdrawn without some devastating results, a new way of thinking is needed in many African countries.

November 15, 2006

Bear Bryant's 'Being Nice" Story

A friend in Topeka sent me this story that had been forwarded on to him by a friend. Bear Bryant, Alabama's legendary football coach, told this story about how a chance encounter in an Alabama restaurant turned into a success years later because his 'random act of kindness' was never forotten. Worth the read as a 'life lesson.'

November 14, 2006

Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided by Common Sense - New York Times

Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided by Common Sense - New York Times:

Web 3.0 or The Semantic Web may very well be the 'next big thing.' This Markoff piece is well worth reading. I remember a talk many years ago given by Danny Hillis, (a genius IMHO) who was then the head of Disney's science and technology team for Disney World and the other park ventures.

When I read about the continued explosion of the Web and the enormous possibilities it offers for the enrichment of human life, I find myself in a quandary. I think about the threat posed to Western civilization by radical Islam. These RITs (Radical Islamic Terrorists) and RATs (Radical Arab Terrorists) would turn the world back to the Dark Ages and have targeted our civilization for destruction. Consequently, we must spend vast sums for our military, Homeland Security, intelligence etc., money that could otherwise be spent on education, research and economic betterment here at home.

Given the rapid rise of technology and prosperity in Asia, particularly China, and India, which spend far less proportionally of their GDP on defending against the RITs and RATs and the diminishing influence of the U.S. in the world, I think we may slowly lose our edge as technology leaders.

I would very much like to hear the world view of our leaders who we have recently elected. I'm tired of being harangued about political issues. Where are the statesmen and what do they believe? Will common sense prevail or will pandering be the order of the day?

"In its current state, the Web is often described as being in the Lego phase,
with all of its different parts capable of connecting to one another. Those who
envision the next phase, Web 3.0, see it as an era when machines will start to
do seemingly intelligent things.
Researchers and entrepreneurs say that while it is unlikely that there will be complete artificial-intelligence systems any time soon, if ever, the content of the Web is already growing more intelligent.
Smart Webcams watch for intruders, while Web-based e-mail programs recognize
dates and locations. Such programs, the researchers say, may signal the impending birth of Web 3.0.
Â?ItÂ?s a hot topic, and people havenÂ?t realized this spooky thing about how much they are depending on A.I.,Â? said W. Daniel Hillis, a veteran artificial-intelligence researcher who founded Metaweb Technologies here last year.
Like Radar Networks, Metaweb is still not publicly describing what its service or product will be, though the companyÂ?s Web site states that Metaweb intends to Â?build a better infrastructure for the Web.Â?
Â?It is pretty clear that human knowledge is out there and more exposed to machines than it ever was before,Â? Mr. Hillis said."

Bring On the Seinfeld Congress - New York Times

Bring On the Seinfeld Congress - New York Times:

Tierney has it right for the market. Doing little is less risky for financial markets than doing a lot.

"A do-nothing Congress is bad for the local economy. But it’s fine for the rest of the country. The prospect of gridlock has been welcomed, as usual, on Wall Street. The brief era of fiscal responsibility in Washington in the 1990s occurred only because a Democratic president and a Republican Congress couldn’t agree on how to spend the surplus. "

November 13, 2006

The American Thinker

The American Thinker -The Worst Case

A tough piece with plenty of venom for the Left, but in this excerpt his point is well taken:

"But the Jihadis, with a few exceptions, are not thinkers. They are medieval ideologues committed to a philosophy of action. They want blood, they want spectacle, they want attention. And they will get it, one way or another.

It doesn’t matter how it will come. It will come when we least expect it, by some method we never guessed. I would not be surprised if such an attack occurred within six months. I would be very surprised if one did not occur within two years. If it does not, it will be a matter of luck and nothing else. (Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, chief of Britain’s MI5, announced this week that no less than 30 terror plots against the UK were currently being rolled up. How many are active against the U.S.? As has been said so many times that people have ceased hearing it, all the terrorists have to do is succeed once.)

For a time, it seemed that we might get through the current conflict without making the same errors that occurred during the wars against fascism and communism. But it appears that the default position of democracy in long wars is quietism and appeasement, and there is no avoiding the occasional collapse into such a state.

Republican ineptness, Democratic ideology, George W. Bush’s inability to ignite a fire, and something contemptible in the American character have combined to bring us to this point. We will not see our way past it without blood, flames, and grief. There are people—there is no discreet way to put this—who pulled the lever last Tuesday that began the process of their own deaths.

November 12, 2006

For Conservatives, It’s Back to Basics - New York Times

For Conservatives, It’s Back to Basics - New York Times

A cogent analysis of the conservative reality after the election.

In my view, there are only two key issues where the Republicans lost their way. The first has been and continues to be the reckless federal spending. Second is the terrible miscalculation of the consequences of the Iraq war.

On the Democratic side, they have yet to articulate any positive, viable strategy for either of these issues. If truth be told, they like the federal spending (and 'earmarks') as well as the Republicans, after all they are politicians, too.

As for the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism, they have yet to propose any different, viable solution. Opposition and criticism is not a strategy for success, except at the polls.

November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day (Terry Kelley - Pittance of Time)

Have a look. This Canadian piece is well done.

Politics aside, we must never forget those who died and those who still suffer from military service to our country.

Keeping the Voting Clean - New York Times

Keeping the Voting Clean - New York Times:

The author's premise is correct. The problems with voting are not with machines so much as with the competency or motivations of the poll workers.

"If everyone just voted by mail or with pencil and paper, the argument goes, our voting problems would be solved.

But this reaction to the bugs and glitches shows that Americans have not learned the right lesson from 2000: the problem is not with the technology of running our elections but rather with the people running them.

The United States should join the rest of the world’s advanced democracies and put nonpartisan professionals in charge. We need officials whose ultimate allegiance is to the fairness, integrity and professionalism of the election process, not to helping one party or the other gain political advantage."

The American Thinker

The American Thinker - Christians, Pacifism and the Sword

This first in a series by James Arlandson is well worth reading for anyone who wishes to better understand the Scriptural underpinnings of God's plan and Jesus' mission. Take the time. You'll find it relevant to the conflict confronting Christians in the face of radical, militant Islamists.

The Kingdom of God and kingdom of the world are clearly explained as they are revealed in the Scriptures. I am reading the book "Myth of a Christian Nation" by Greg Boyd which elucidates the same theme. Here's a previous post with a quote from his book.

Christians must come to grips with these truths because we live in this world, but are not of this world.

Tax Cuts 101 - an Analogy with a Chuckle

A friend passed along this 'Tax Cuts 101' piece at lunch yesterday. It's been floating around for a couple of years but I hadn't seen it. Moreover, authorship is not definitively known, although it has been attributed to University of Georgia economics professor David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.

Many can argue with details of the piece, but the analogy is generally valid, and a bit humorous as well. You will quickly perceive (or believe) that many liberal politicians make hay with the "tax cuts for the rich" rhetoric. Irrespective of your opinion about whether present federal tax policy is correct or 'fair,' we should pay close attention to the facts:

The Top 50% of taxpayers pay 96.54% of All Income Taxes. The Top 1% Pay More Than a Third: 34.27%

Data for calendar year 2003 from the IRS

Details here

For any tax cuts to be remotely 'fair,' it's inevitable that the rich will see more reduction in absolute $ because the 'rich' pay far and away more taxes than the rest of us. But this reality is lost on most people, thus emotionalism driven by envy is exploited by politicians seeking power and votes. And, sadly, it works.


Tax Cuts interesting interpretation of federal income taxation

Suppose that every day, ten people go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes
to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes,
it would go something like this:

The first four people (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1
The sixth would pay $3
The seventh $7
The eighth $12
The Ninth $18
The tenth person (the richest) would pay $59

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten people ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So, the first four people were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share'? The six people realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth person and sixth person would each end up being 'PAID' to eat their meal.

So, the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each person's bill by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:

The fifth person, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings)
The sixth now pays $2 instead of $3 (33% savings)
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings)
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings)
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings)
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings)

Each of the six was BETTER off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But, once outside the restaurant, the people began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth person. He pointed to the tenth person "but he got $10!". "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth person. "I only saved a dollar too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I got!" "That's true!!" shouted the seventh person. "Why should he get $10 back when I only got $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four people in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine people surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth person didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But, when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Europe and the Caribbean.

Veterans Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

-John McCrae

(emphasis added)

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This weekend we commemorate Veterans Day, a day when America honors every man and woman who has worn the uniform of our military. In Veterans Day celebrations across our Nation, we remember those who have served in previous wars, those who are serving today, and those who did not live to become veterans. Especially in a time of war, we see in our veterans an example of people who stepped forward to serve a cause larger than themselves. This weekend, I ask you to take a moment to thank our veterans for their service, and express your appreciation for the sacrifices they have made to preserve our freedom and way of life.

Political advertisement violated teacher-student social contract - Opinion

Political advertisement violated teacher-student social contract - Opinion

I agree with this editorial denouncing the group of 100 UVM professors who signed political ads for Sanders and Welch. The ad itself made no difference in the election outcome, but I think it's wrong for the Cynic, an 'in-house' university publication, to have published the ad and even worse that the professors would knowingly lend their names to it in the first place. On the other hand, one could argue that the teachers are publicly admitting their biases.

As the Cynic editorial aptly states:
"These advertisements are a blatant display of personal political views being impressed upon students."

Moreover, this public display of their politics, though protected by their First Amendment rights as citizens, is not in keeping with the standards I would would expect of university faculty.

November 10, 2006

China: Scapegoat or Sputnik - New York Times

China: Scapegoat or Sputnik - New York Times:

I think Friedman gets this one right. The Democrats may very well try to play the protectionist game concerning the U.S. economy vis-vis-China and Asia because it appeals to so many people in their gut. Unfortunately, the forces at work are too large and are arrayed against that strategy. A protectionist strategy will be no more than pandering to people to tell them what they want to hear.
"China, in other words, is inevitably going to move back to the center of U.S. politics, because it crystallizes the economic challenges faced by U.S. workers in the 21st century. The big question for me is, how will President Bush and the Democratic Congress use China: as a scapegoat or a Sputnik?

Will they use it as an excuse to avoid doing the hard things, because itÂ?s all just ChinaÂ?s fault, or as an excuse to rally the country Â? as we did after the Soviets leapt ahead of us in the space race and launched Sputnik Â? to make the kind of comprehensive changes in health care, portability of pensions, entitlements and lifelong learning to give AmericaÂ?s middle class the best tools possible to thrive? A lot of history is going to turn on that answer, because if people donÂ?t feel they have the tools or skills to thrive in a world without walls, the pressure to put up walls, especially against China, will steadily mount."

British Spy Chief Warns of Plots - New York Times

British Spy Chief Warns of Plots - New York Times

Intelligence terror fighters walk a difficult line. On the one hand they want to reassure the citizens that they are watching the hatching terror plots closely, and hopefully can prevent them. On the other hand, they must be circumspect so as not to tip their hands about who they have in their sights.

My hat's off to those who do this difficult work. Hopefully, after the years that this war has been underway, there are some helpful moles in the radical Islamic community to help this effort.

Webware: Cool web apps for everyone

Webware: Cool web apps for everyone

A new site launched by CNET to make it easier to track happenings and new apps in the Web 2.0 realm. I like the idea. Will RSS it, methinks.

November 9, 2006

Salsa di Pomodori

I have not yet tried this recipe, but it sounds simple and good.

Salsa di Pomodori di Antonio Stella


Chef Anthony Stella surprised me with his method for making tomato sauce. Forget about the traditional fresh garlic and fragrant basil as co-ingredients with juicy plum tomatoes.

Instead, onions wrapped in cheesecloth and Hunt's canned whole tomatoes are his choice because he believes that these tomatoes are sweeter and more consistent in flavor than the imported San Marzano types.

I was skeptical, but Chef Anthony made a believer out of me when he demonstrated this recipe on our series and confirmed that there is indeed more than one way to make a good tomato sauce.

It is important that the sauce cook uncovered, and that the sides of the pot be scraped down frequently; these techniques are the secret flavor enhancers. This is an all-purpose tomato sauce. Chef Anthony especially loves it on his homemade potato gnocchi.

1 large onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut in half through the root end
1/2 cup Colavita™ Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 (28-ounce) cans of Hunt's whole tomatoes
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Fine sea salt to taste

Wrap the onion in cheesecloth and set aside.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill over a bowl. Discard the seeds.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and pour in the tomatoes. Stir to blend the ingredients. Place the onion in the center of the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, and allow it to simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Several times during the cooking, scrape down the sides of the pot. Stir in the sugar and salt. When it darkens in color and has reduced in volume to become thick, the sauce is ready to use, or to freeze for future use.

November 8, 2006

Needle-felted Bison Made from Bison Fiber

Originally uploaded by Wooliedales.
Carol's first bison, a commissioned work for Still River Mill, a Connecticut company that processes exotic fibers, including bison fiber.

This sculpture was a hit at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. in October. Many thanks to Greg and Deidre for displaying it so prominently at the Still River booth.

RealClearPolitics - Articles - The Only Issue This Election Day

RealClearPolitics - Articles - The Only Issue This Election Day

A voice of reason in a crazy political time. What troubles me is the fickleness of American voters. The idea that 'momentum,' hatred and vicious partisanship are substitutes for sound foreign policy at a time of dire threats to America and Western civilization is very disturbing. National politics is all about power for American politicians. Where are the statesmen we need to look after the welfare of the country?

Perhaps they're buried in the ranks of career diplomats and military specialists whose names we never hear.

In any event, after this mid-term election we will have two years of gridlock in Washington as both parties act to position themselves for the 2008 Presidential election. Meanwhile the radical Islamists will continue their bloodletting.

The good news is that the economy is doing well, despite the naysayers, and the price of oil has come back to reasonable levels.

Now that the Democrats have 'won' in Washington, I am waiting to hear their foreign policy proposals. 'Getting out of Iraq' won't cut it if they're serious about the war on terror.

November 5, 2006

Truth and Reality

If what we believe does not reflect the truth, then what we feel does not reflect reality.

An NRO Symposium on Vanity Fair on National Review Online


Link to An NRO Symposium on Vanity Fair on National Review Online


This series of interviews shows that Vanity Fair magazine has used, unfairly and without integrity, discussions with the people listed in this NRO symposium as a political whack job just before the elections on Tuesday.  According to the NRO interview of those people, they had been promised that the story would not be published until after the elections. This blatant act proves that Vanity Fair cannot be trusted and has used content from people without their permission. What a travesty! I am ashamed but not surprised that a national magazine would stoop so low. The VF story is here.

IP Ticonderoga Mill Tire Burn Experiment

International Paper Company's two-week experiment burning a modified fuel mixture to include waste tire chips has created an unwarranted furor in Vermont. The Free Press front page coverage on Sunday, November 5 finally describes the details of the experiment, albeit a bit late since the test begins on Monday. The information provided by Candace Page makes it clear that this test poses no threat to Vermont.

IP is doing exactly the right thing in conducting a heavily monitored experiment to determine if additional pollution control measures, such as an electrostatic precipitator may be required to use the tire fuel mixture. Reducing fuel costs in a mill of this size will be a significant cost-saving measure.

 A healthy business in the region is an important asset and Vermont should embrace the experiment rather than opposing it.  In spite of IP's very reasonable experimental approach, Vermont for months has taken up arms against this short, apparently well-designed, test by fighting it in court, unreasonably demanding installation of a  costly precipitator  for the test, and doing everything in its power to stop it.

 This sort of unfounded paranoia broadcasts to the world that Vermont is unfriendly to certain types of business. Is it any wonder that  businesses who see this unreasonable opposition choose to locate or expand elsewhere?

Myth of a Christian Nation

I am reading Myth of a Christian Nation by Gregory Boyd. The book contains truths that are radical notions to some Christians and non-Christians alike. The core point in the book is expressed below:

"Not everything about the kingdom of the world is bad. Insofar as versions of the the kingdom of the world use their power of the sword to preserve and promote law, order and justice, they are good (or, in dju's words, better by comparison than oppressive kingdoms of the world). But the kingdom of the world, by definition, can never be the kingdom of God. It doesn't matter that we judge it good because it stands for the principles we deem important--"liberty and justice for all," for example. No version of the kingdom of the world, however comparably good it may be, can protect its self interest by loving its enemies, turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, or blessing those that persecute it. Yet loving our enemies and blessing those who persecute us is precisely what kingdom-of-God citizens are called to do. It's what it means to be a Christian. By definition, therefore, you can no more have a Christian worldly government than you can have a Christian petunia or aardvark. A nation may have noble ideals and be committed to just principles, but it not for this reason Christian." (emphasis added)

(more posts from this book sure to follow)

November 4, 2006

Election Day - Books - Review - New York Times

Kinsley is making a point about intellectual dishonesty as a threat to our democracy. He fails to make the equally valid point that personal and candidate ethics, moral values and belief systems are at the root of why people do what they do. Unfortuneately, he is writing for intellectuals and misses the point that people are frail entities that can seldom be relied upon 'to get it right,' according to his defition of the word.

Kinsley is obviously a throbbing liberal intellectual who is morose about the fact that half the country does not share his values and beliefs. And he hasn't ever gotten over the 2000 election results, probably never will.

November 3, 2006

Expert: LEDs could start replacing lightbulbs soon | CNET

Expert: LEDs could start replacing lightbulbs soon | CNET

Real energy and cost savings are possible as this LED technology drives inexorably ahead.



When this technology becomes available it will be Nirvana compared to the scramble and tangle of cabling that connects today's home theater components.

Failed ’04 Presidential Run Hardened Lieberman’s Independent Ways - New York Times

Failed ’04 Presidential Run Hardened Lieberman’s Independent Ways - New York Times:

This is what I appreciate about Joe Lieberman:

"John F. Droney, a former Democratic state chairman who is now in daily contact with Mr. Lieberman’s staff to discuss the campaign, is one of many who see the 2004 defeat as changing Mr. Lieberman in subtle but significant ways. He said: “There was never a change in his philosophy but there was a change in his inclination to compromise a little bit as a result of the experience in 2004. I think he came away with a resolve to answer to his country first and his party second.”"

I pray that all people seeking public office would believe likewise.

Web reaches new milestone: 100 million sites -

Web reaches new milestone: 100 million sites -

A fascinating history of the explosive growth of the Web, now with 100 million web sites (domains) compared to 18,000 in 1995. The U.S. has 55% of the world's web sites.

November 2, 2006

How Should We Vote?

Guidance for voters...

"In selecting men (and women) for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate - look to his (her) character. The scriptures teach that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, men of truth, hating covetousness. It is to the neglect of this rule that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, and embezzlement of public property which tarnish the the character of our country and disgrace government. When a citizen gives his vote to a man (woman) of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he sacrifices not only his interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country."

----Noah Webster, 1823

The Great Divider - New York Times

The Great Divider - New York Times

Once more, the Times is in danger of drowning in its own vitriol. Their hatred of Bush is only surpassed by their clear disdain for those in the country who believe the terrorist threat is real and perilous.

Once again I state and will continue to do so that those who disagree with this administration's policies on fighting terrorists have a responsibility to propose a viable alternative.

The Times, like the Democrats, has failed that responsibility

Thank You Buma Family!

I was very pleased to receive the framed memorial of my father's and mother's passing. This thoughtful follow-up reflects your kind and caring services during the recent funeral services for Mary.

 I want to express my appreciation for your thorough and sensitive services in October. We are working through the details following her death, but my mother Mary's final arrangements in Milford were expertly managed by you in every detail.

Thanks again, Dick, to you and your team for making this difficult time easier than I anticipated.



Dave & Carol Usher

A Web Site to Call Your Own - New York Times

A Web Site to Call Your Own - New York Times

I have been a beta tester for Office Live (Basic), albeit not a very active one. However, capturing the domain name I wanted is a big plus. I must try the new site when launched.

A Son of Privilege Takes His Baby Steps on the Political Proving Ground - New York Times

A Son of Privilege Takes His Baby Steps on the Political Proving Ground

Ah, yes. The Times has endorsed Mr. Lamont for Senator and now publishes this puff piece to help him along. Lamont may be a decent guy, but Joe Lieberman is a statesman. Vote for Lieberman if you live in CT.

I was in CT this past weekend and saw about an equal number of campaign signs for each candidate.

Hilarious, If True or Not

This is (allegedly)from a radio program, a true (allegedly) report of an incident in Michigan :

A guy buys a brand new Lincoln Navigator for $42,500 and has $560 monthly payments. He and a friend go duck hunting in winter, and, of course, all the lakes are frozen. These two guys go out on the lake with the guns, the dog, and, of course, the new vehicle.

They drive out onto the lake and get ready. Now, they want to make some kind of a natural landing area for the ducks, something for the decoys to float on. In order to make a hole large enough to look like something a wandering duck would fly down and land on, it is going to take a little more effort than an ice hole drill.

So, out of the back of the new Navigator comes a stick of dynamite with a short, 40-second fuse. Now these two Rocket Scientists do take into consideration that they want to place the stick of dynamite on the ice at a location far from where they are standing (and the new Navigator), because they don't want to take the risk of slipping on the ice when they run from the burning fuse and possibly go up in smoke with the resulting blast.

They light the 40-second fuse and throw the dynamite.

Remember a couple of paragraphs back when I mentioned the vehicle, the guns and the dog? Let's talk about the dog: A highly trained Black Lab used for ... RETRIEVING. Especially things thrown by the owner. You guessed it, the dog takes off at a high rate of doggy speed on the ice and captures the stick of dynamite with the burning 40-second fuse about the time it hits the ice. The two men yell, scream, wave their arms and wonder what to do now. The dog, cheered on, keeps coming. One of the guys grabs the shotgun and shoots the dog. The shotgun is loaded with #8 shot, hardly big enough to stop a Black Lab. The dog stops for a moment, slightly confused, but continues on. Another shot and this time the dog, still standing, becomes really confused and of course terrified, thinking these two geniuses have gone insane.

The dog takes off to find cover, under the brand new Navigator.


Dog and Navigator are blown to bits and sink to the bottom of the lake in a very large hole, leaving the two idiots standing there with this "I can't believe this happened" look on their faces. The insurance company says that sinking a vehicle in a lake by illegal use of explosives is not covered.

He still had yet to make the first of those $560 a month payments!!

And you thought your day wasn't going well?

November 1, 2006

IRS Raises Mileage Rate to 48.5 Cents - New York Times

IRS Raises Mileage Rate to 48.5 Cents - New York Times

Need to remember this for next year .485 is the IRS business mileage rate effective 1/1/2007.

Cable and Phone Companies Compete, but Both Thrive - New York Times

Cable and Phone Companies Compete, but Both Thrive - New York Times:

Good infrastructure companies will always be needed for the backbone services and the ability to dig deep into their pockets to make the infrastructure investments that ever changing technology demands.

I think for the long haul, telecom and cable companies are a good bet as long as our population, thus usage, continues to grow. Time on task is the limiting factor for people. How much time can we realistically spend with the screens in front of our faces or the earbuds in our ears??
"Though stock prices of phone and cable companies are far from the peaks they hit half a decade ago, some analysts are starting to ask whether they are now relatively high, given the companiesÂ? growth potential. Telecommunications companies still have some room to expand since only about 35 percent of Americans have broadband lines at home and 75 percent havecell phoness. But those rates are rising fast, which may mean this yearÂ?s stock price increase will continue, but at a slower rate."

An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong - New York Times

An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong

Certain to generate considerable argument and discussion, this hypothesis crosses from the biological to the philosophical and religious. If I were to ask this author, Dr. Hauser, if he believed in God, I wonder his answer. My guess he is an atheist.

I think humans have a survival instinct and also an inherent group code that in most cases acts to preserve the group, if possible. Some will 'die' for the group (Heroes). Others will not (Cowards). However, man is born with a sinful nature, otherwise society would not need a code of laws and enforcers to preserve order.