Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Good bye PostWatch and thank you
The press is the National University for the United States, and when it misrepresents, it fails. Whatever you think about gun control and the Second Amendment, the Assault Weapons Ban, signed by President Clinton and now expired, never banned high-capacity semiautomatic magazines, despite what the Associated Press reported on April 17 and despite the Post's identical mistake in two stories the next day. It banned the production of new magazines, but the old ones were plentiful--and legal--during the entire span of the law.
So forget about political labels. It's just bad reporting. That was the subject of PostWatch.
Friday, June 22, 2007
What is there to say?
The ethics columnist for the New York Times and NPR, Randy Cohen: "Cohen said he thought of MoveOn.org as nonpartisan and thought the donation would be allowed even under the strict rule at the Times.?"
Got that? He doesn't think Moveon.org is partisan!
But like Bradley, I think Samuel J. Favate has got to win the contest of mind-numbing obtuseness. (That's a copy of his webpage, as it was apparently taken down.) Here's how Bradley writes it:
"Here's Favate's take on corporate America:
"These are the people who are really in charge. It's in their best interests to keep the middle-and lower-classes down and to maintain the medieval political system that the Republicans furnish. It has gotten to the point where you cannot find one aspect of your life that is not somehow controlled or influenced by the corporate machine."Bold added, as I can think of nothing else to say, except that, there's plenty more to be offended by this guy.
And speaking of Republicans and conservatives, Truth-to-Power Sam says this:
Ann Coulter and the right-wing punditocracy: the lowest form of human life yet detected.
Right-wing radio: Simple tools of the Republican propaganda machine who contribute to the dumbing-down of America and do so to keep the masses uneducated and fearful. Their historical counterparts are from Stalinist Russia.
Hear that, Comrade Coulter? Get busy! You've got 20 million or so kulaks to kill!
At the end of his list of hates, Favate adds ominously, lest any Stalinist rightwingers be reading: "You can be sure that I will be adding to this list from time to time, so try not to piss me off."
So this guy loves The Boss, hates ads, hates Republicans and hates corporate America. He's a radical rock critic, right? No, he's an editor at Dow Jones Newswires, deep in the belly of the fascist corporate beast."
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Vatican issues traffic-safety commandments
Inside or outside: which is it?
Concerns about long-term consequences -- affecting emotional well-being, physical health, learning abilities, environmental consciousness -- have spawned a national movement to "leave no child inside." In recent months, it has been the focus of Capitol Hill hearings, state legislative action, grass-roots projects, a U.S. Forest Service initiative to get more children into the woods and a national effort to promote a "green hour" in each day.
Tomorrow 40 civic leaders -- representing several governors, three big-city mayors, Walt Disney Co., Sesame Workshop, DuPont, the gaming industry and others -- will launch a campaign to raise $20 million that will ultimately fund 20 initiatives across the country to encourage children to do what once seemed second nature: go outdoors.
Capitol Hill hearings? Really? Mr. Senator, I have no specific memory of not allowing my six-year-old daughter to play in the cul de sac.
Advocates and researchers have been aware of the downturn in outdoor activity for a long time, and it has been documented by experts such as Sandra Hofferth, a family studies professor at the University of Maryland. From 1997 to 2003, Hofferth found, there was a decline of 50 percent, from 16 to 8 percent, in the proportion of children 9 to 12 who spent time in such outside activities as hiking, walking, fishing, beach play and gardening. Organized sports were not included as an outdoor activity in the study, which was based on detailed time diaries.
Hofferth's study also showed an increase in computer play time for all children and in time spent on television and video games for those ages 9 to 12. And it found increases in sleep time, study time and reading time.
More sleep time can't be bad, can it?
Stranger danger is a big fear of a friend of mine. I once overheard her instructing her 12-year-old daughter thusly, "When you get to the playground, call me. If you don't call me, I'll think you've been hurt and I'll have to call the police and they'll come and be very angry if nothing is wrong, so make sure you call me, okay? And if I call you, you must answer the phone by the third ring..."
Experts suggest a major factor in the decline of outdoor time is parental fears about leaving children unattended -- aggravated by excessive media coverage of horrific crimes.
Changes in family life have also had an influence: more mothers in the workforce, more structured playtime, more organized sports. Fewer hours are left for kids to slip out the back door and play hide-and-seek, catch fireflies, skip stones, create imaginary worlds around makeshift forts.
I was aghast at this conversation. The daughter may have been 10 or 11 at the time, by the way, but I remember thinking, why call her at all? Just tell her to be back by a certain time. I try to slip into our conversations, how crime has gone down since the 70's whenever she and I talk about kid safety. "In this day and age, Nance--in this day and age..." is what I get back.
Add to that dual at-work parenting and the kids are at daycare from 8 to 6. But I would guess they get at least an hour if not two of free time on the playground per day.
But all of this is a waste of time anyway. If the WaPo writers would read the NYT's, they'd realize the less time spent out in the sun, the better.
I’d be the last person to suggest that children spend the glorious months of summer indoors. I want them out playing actively year-round, and the warm months are ideal for such activities as running through sprinklers, swimming, boating, playing ball, riding bicycles and scooters, playing in sandboxes and on playground equipment, and otherwise having a grand old time being children.There you have it: traffic, predators, sun. Better to keep the nation's children safe by having them sit still, sit very still. That way, nobody moves and nobody gets hurt.
But just as children must be protected against the hazards of traffic and predators, so must they also be protected against the downside of that life-giving force, the sun.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Are you happy now?
Are you happy now? Are you? God forbid you should miss one of my riveting posts on swim lessons or say an insightful link to something in the Wall Street Journal. God. Forbid.
In praise of Ward and June
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I should not be allowed in the kitchen. The first time I tried to toast pecans, the pecans went up in flames, so why I thought this time would be any different is beyond me. I shouldn't toast anything other than bread.
It's not the technology--it' s the attention span of the chef. After I'd realized the pecans had been in the oven on broil for over 10 minutes it was too late. I opened the oven, only to fan the flame. I then went to my pantry, just two steps from my oven, where my husband had installed a fire extinguisher for just such an occasion.
The bracket that holds the extinguisher was empty. I ran past three little girls and one boy to the garage to get the other, larger extinguisher, ran back to the kitchen, opened the oven hoping against all hope that the fire would have gone out, but no dice.
I pulled the pin, aimed and nothing happened. I was holding it wrong. I tried again and the chemical poured out of a hose I'd heretofore not noticed and spilled all over the floor. One more time with feeling, aim and shoot, aaaand, phew--it's out.
But all of this was accompanied by the shrieks of two terrorized 6-year-olds and ignored by their toddler siblings. Just when I was about to calm them, the phone rang. It's my husband, he'll be coming home late for dinner; he burst into laughter when I related all of the above. I accused him of taking the kitchen extinguisher for his automotive antics. He countered that I probably didn't replace it after the last time I set food on fire.
Fine. When he does get home, I'm serving chicken salad with melon in a mint vinaigrette, (with just the slightest hint of chemical fire extinguisher).
Chicken Salad w/ Nectarines in Mint Vinaigrette
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 T fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
To prepare dressing, place mint and sugar in a food processor; process until finely chopped, scraping sides of the bowl. Add vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper; process 30 seconds to combine.
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 cup chopped seeded cucumber
1//3 cup copped pecans toasted
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3 nectarines, chopped, peeled, and pitted (melon substitute)
5 red leaf lettuce leaves
Combine chicken, cucumber, pecans, onion and nectarines in medium bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad, toss well to coat. Place 1 lettuce leaf on each of five plates, top each serving w/ ¾ cup salad. Yield: 5 servings.
From Cooking Light (I think).
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Although Uganda's National Environmental Management Authority has approved DDT for malaria control, Western environmentalists continue to undermine our efforts and discourage G-8 governments from supporting us. The EU has acknowledged our right to use DDT, but some consumer and agricultural groups repeat myths and lies about the chemical. They should instead help us use it strictly to control malariaAccording to the author of this piece, Dr. Sam Zaramba the director general of health services for the Republic of Uganda, the lack of DDT is costing 100,000 Ugandan lives a year.
*As, I suppose, the lack thereof.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Déjà vu is a memory problem, Tonegawa explained, occurring when our brains struggle to tell the difference between two extremely similar situations. As people age, Tonegawa said déjà-vu-like confusion happens more often—and it also happens in people suffering from brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. “It’s not surprising,” he said, “when you consider the fact that there’s a loss of or damage to cells in the dentate gyrus.”Maybe yes, maybe no. Scientists have found the area of the brain responsible for it:
But a new study suggests only a small chunk of it, called the dentate gyrus, is responsible for “episodic” memories — information that allows us to tell similar places and situations apart.Via Jim Treacher.
In other Alzheimer's news:
Well, it's something.
Rachelle Doody of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston released one-year results for Dimebon, an antihistamine that once was used to treat hay fever in Russia but is no longer on the market. Doody's team treated 183 patients with Dimebon or a placebo for 12 months. The team found that people who took Dimebon improved on several measures of memory and thinking ability at first but showed some decline as time went on. After a year, the patients who took Dimebon still scored better than the placebo group did, Doody says.Sam Gandy, a spokesman for the Chicago-based Alzheimer's Association, says Dimebon seems to work like existing drugs that treat the symptoms but don't affect the underlying damage caused by the disease.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I kind of feel like watching the debates now is akin to putting up Christmas lights in June. It's too early!
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
You know, my daughter is a lot like me--a bit spacey. Inner space that is, and when she plays soccer I know she's in full introspection mode because the ball whizzes by her while she's testing to see if she can touch her tongue to her nose. (She can.) My girlfriend calls it picking daisies. When her eye's on the ball, she can keep up with the rest of them. She's even scored a couple of points though we were instructed not to keep score.
We were also instructed not to coach from the sidelines, to keep our cheers to just that, cheers. But while I shouted, "Yay team!" and "Go purple!" I had a really hard time not yelling, "Emma! Look at the ball! It's right in front of you!"
Today as my son on his second day of swimming lessons was sitting with his feet in the water and turning his swim coach Amy down yet again for anything else, I got frustrated. Yesterday, I'd promised a trip to Chuck E. Cheese if he walked in the water with his instructor, who has taken the other kids out as deep as their chests.
I don't know where he picked up his fear of pools, but he contents himself to sitting by the pool instead of in the pool. And even though the YMCA supervisor asked us moms to restrict ourselves to the picnic tables under the covered area, I could not resist crossing the set boundaries to tell Brendan to do as Amy says so we can go to Chuck E. Cheese and also if you don't Mommy is going to throw you in the water!
Brendan didn't make a big deal out of it like the other kid--Nathan or Dexter or something, who cries all 45 minutes until him mom comes within touching distance or ceremoniously sits with his back to the instructor to show his contempt for the swimming pool, the Y and wetness in general. Brendan just sits on the side, ignores everyone and splashes his feet.
So that's the game you're going to play, is it? Well, I wasn't having it and came back a second time and gently pushed him into Amy's arms. He clung to her for dear life, but didn't scream like he'd done the week before with me, and even went out a second time. But walk out on his own into waist-deep water? Not on your life.
So later that day at my friend's backyard (swank) pool, he pulled the same routine, but she coaxed him into the unheated hot tub and then proceeded to use the same techniques I'd seen her use three years before on her own daughter (motor boat, motor boat go so slow...), but much more successfully, which I attribute to the fact that they weren't related. (I ski much better and more bravely without my husband. I know it makes no sense, but there must be some truth to the scariness of a situation being related to the nearest relation not doing anything to alleviate that scariness, and duh! what are moms and husbands for anyway?)
So tomorrow, he's promised to walk out with Amy just like the other big kids (except Dexter), and then we'll dine at Chuck E. Cheese and enjoy all the ambiance of the inside of a pinball machine. Promises, promises, I say.
Still, I guess I should be careful what I wish for.
Update: We'll be dining this afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese!