Friday, September 30, 2005

Shameful Attacks on William J. Bennett

I was deeply disappointed that the White House jumped on the P.C. bandwagon and criticized Bill Bennett today, apparently without ever having checked out what he actually said. Instead the administration seems to have reacted to drummed-up, out-of-context reports from the media and the left.

Andrew McCarthy at National Review Online weighs in above.

Bennett's own statement is available here.

Owen Out as Nominee Prospect?

The latest Supreme Court news is that Priscilla Owen is rumored to have withdrawn her name from consideration.

Much more at Confirm Them today, as there will be until the nominee is announced, now expected next week.

Schools Allowing Cursing

Some schools are finding increasing numbers of students are cursing, so rather than do anything about it, the schools are essentially saying "If you can't beat 'em, allow it."

I ran into this myself when a middle school principal shrugged and told me "They hear it at home" and went on to say there was nothing the school could do about it. I told him the elementary school sat cursing children in the office and had no serious problems with profanity. The middle school principal wouldn't consider a similar policy. Which is one reason my younger children aren't attending that school...

(Hat tip: Spunky Homeschool.)

Power Line Rebuts Marvin Kalb

Check out Marvin Kalb's snide response to a critical email.

Power Line does a great job repudiating his defense of Dan Rather & Co.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

More Interesting Info on Miller's Release

Further updating the story below with additional information.

Scooter Libby's attorney says, "We are surprised to learn we had anything to do with her incarceration" and reiterates that Miller had Libby's release to speak months ago.

This is one very strange story.

How Interesting

New York Times reporter Judith Miller has been released from jail today after agreeing to testify in the Valerie Plame leak case.

Update: More on this at Captain's Quarters.

Powerline has more.

One of the really strange things in this whole matter has been that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby gave general releases from confidentiality to the reporters they spoke with many months ago. But Matt Cooper of Time made a big show of getting a "personal" release from Rove on the day he was scheduled to testify, and Miller is now doing the same thing with Libby. Each reporter had permission to waive confidentiality from their source well in advance of testifying or going to jail, yet claimed they didn't, and even went to jail as part of this pretense. Why?

Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse

I was first introduced to Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse when reading 1,000 Places To See Before You Die -- it's listed as a must-experience restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. I haven't been there yet, but I hope to visit one day! I enjoy checking places off in the book as we visit :).

In the meantime, I came across Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook in a bookstore last summer. It's a fascinating combination of Southern restaurant history and recipes.

Tonight I made the book's Country-Fried Steak and Cornbread Muffins. The steak was a big hit! After trying these muffins as well as some "skillet cornbread" from the March 2005 edition of Martha Stewart Living, which each used little or no sugar, our family has concluded that we like sweeter cornbread, so I'll be hunting for a cornbread recipe with some more sugar in it to try soon.

For Cupcake Fans Only

52 Cupcakes (linked above) introduced me to a neat website, Confectionery House, which carries a wide variety of cupcake liners. My children are going to have fun picking out some new designs to use in future months.

Last weekend I placed an order for baking supplies with Bakers Catalogue -- including shamrock cupcake liners on sale to use next March :).

I also bought Cup-a-Cake containers, which I was first introduced to by Mrs. Happy Housewife.

No Nominee Till Monday?

Over at Confirm Them today, the guessing is centering on Priscilla Owen and Larry Thompson.

Another Attempt to Erase Religion From the Public Square

The city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is facing a lawsuit seeking to remove crosses from the city logo. This has apparently been an ongoing issue in Las Cruces over the last couple of years, with the school district also being a target of legal wrangling.

A similar situation has occurred here in Southern California, where a threatened lawsuit led to a new Los Angeles County seal on which Pomona, the Goddess of Agriculture, is considered an acceptable symbol, but a cross symbolizing our state's mission heritage is not.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Life as a Hotel Concierge

I enjoyed this peek into the hotel business. A career as a concierge sounds challenging but rather fun, inasmuch as the goal in that position is to make people happy :).

Congratulations to the ANAHEIM Angels!!

I'm delighted they're going to the Playoffs!!

Sadly, I don't think things will improve for the L.A. Dodgers until they have a new owner and/or general manager...

Darned If He Does and If He Doesn't, Part 2

Now the President's response to the Gulf States is "hyperactive." Okay...

MSM: Fake News is OK!

National Review's Media Blog has some amazing quotes from an MSNBC doesn't matter, you see, if reporters weren't reporting accurately during the aftermath of Katrina, because the people in New Orleans needed help anyway.

(Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt.)

Michelle Malkin on the New Orleans P.D.

Be sure to check out her link to Tony Snow's investigation of the inflated numbers on the New Orleans police force. Looks like another big New Orleans scandal that behind the sudden resignation of the N.O. police chief Tuesday?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Deconstructing Mary Mapes

Don't miss Power Line's analysis of the new book on Rathergate by fired CBS producer Mary Mapes.

And while you're at it, they've got a good post up about Michael Brown's testimony, too.

More on the Media and Katrina

I loved reading about Rep. Peter King telling Chris Matthews "You are distorting reality."

Senator Schumer: Can You Say "Hypocrite"?

Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters writing for the Daily Standard about the lack of substantive media attention to the Sen. Schumer/DSCC credit report scandal.

He mentions the irony that Schumer co-authored a bill for prevention of identity theft, which was meant in part to stop the kind of snooping of which the DSCC is guilty.

"Filibuster Showdown Looms In Senate"

And the nomination hasn't even been announced!

Last Night's Movie: Little Women (1994)

My oldest daughter recently saw the musical theater version of Little Women and loved it. She's never been a big Little Women fan -- unlike my youngest daughter, who still talks about visiting the Alcotts' Orchard House in Concord at age 5! -- but she was thrilled by the musical and has played the CD several times since she saw it.

Given how much my daughter liked the musical, I was able to interest her in watching a film version of Little Women. I love them all but thought the Winona Ryder version might appeal to her most. Although I find the movie's feminism a bit over-the-top (the Alcotts were forward-thinking, but the movie ladles it on too heavily), it's a very fine film. More than any of the other film versions, it conveys what it must have felt like to live in an uninsulated house in 1800s Massachusetts. The interior of the March home looks very much as I remember Orchard House. This film is available in a nicely packaged DVD with commentary track. (P.S. She liked it!)

My favorite version, however, remains the Katharine Hepburn film. For me, Hepburn is Jo. It's fascinating to compare how two movies, the Hepburn and Ryder versions, use the same incidents and characters yet have such a different "tone."

I'm also fond of the colorful MGM version starring June Allyson. As a big MGM fan I enjoy the cast, although this movie isn't on the same level as the other two films. An interesting bit of trivia is that it used the same script, theme music, and costume designer as the Hepburn version.

I'd love to see the Susan Dey TV-movie version again. Greer Garson as Aunt March! I'm hoping it will come to DVD at some point. (Update: The TV-movie is now available on DVD.)

Would love to hear from anyone who wants to chime in on their favorite version of Little Women!

2018 Update: I revisited this film via a new digital restoration at UCLA today and had a wonderful experience! I've written a new review with much more detail and ample illustrations.

Everything Old is New Again

USA TODAY has a rather interesting bit of trivia: one-quarter of the top 20 children's names of 2004 were also in the Top 20 in 1880.

Supreme Court Buzz Heating Up

Nominee rumors are all over the map the last couple days, but it's kind of fascinating trying to following the bouncing ball.

Other sources on the 'Net confirm the previous buzz at Confirm Them that the announcement may be as soon as Thursday; other sources say it may be Friday. We shall see.

What Did Schumer Know, and When Did He Know It?

The Hill reports that some Republican Senators are signing a letter asking Senator Schumer, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Comittee (DSCC), to pledge that he has not or will not investigate their credit reports.

If Schumer were a Republican, you can bet his DSCC staffer's illegal activity would be all over the press.

"Homeschool Your Kids and Save the Planet!"

Doug Powers has written this whimsical response to the Governor of Georgia cancelling schooldays to save energy.

"The Price for the Politics of Partying"

More on Louisiana's corruption and "interesting" recent tax expenditures.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Parents vs. Peers

The Washington Times has an interesting column about the book Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. The book theorizes that a significant problem with teenagers (and, by extension, schools) is that society currently encourages them to identify with their peers rather than with their parents.

A solution proposed by the authors? Homeschooling.

(Hat tip: HomeSchoolBuzz.)

Update: An interesting rather contrarian viewpoint is in a column in today's USA Today in which the author suggests that one answer for challenging gifted students is...boarding school. (Input "boarding school" in the USA TODAY search engine...the direct link to the article isn't working.)

The columnist's offhanded, derisive dismissal of parents who wouldn't welcome a boarding school education for their children as "hovering" "best friend" wannabe's fails to address this key point: teenage children (yes, they're still children) who are away several months out of the year are not being parented by their parents; they're being parented by strangers and may be too intensely connected to their peers (see article at the top of this post).

Take a Break and Visit the Farm

One of my favorite features at Farmgirl Fare is the "Daily Farm Photo." This picture of a tree swing is one of my all-time favorites.

I feel myself relaxing just contemplating this photo for a couple minutes :). Truly beautiful.

"A Swamp of Corruption"

John Fund on Louisiana's dark history of political corruption. One sure doesn't feel confidence that the tax dollars due to pour into Louisiana will be wisely spent.

(Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)

Update: Lorie Byrd at Polipundit shares my concern about whether we can trust Louisiana with the massive amounts of money it will be receiving.

New Orleans Deaths Exaggerated By Media?

The media's role in New Orleans deserves extensive study. Aside from irresponsibly laying blame for the immediate response almost entirely on the federal government and losing all perspective for the big picture, it now appears that the number of deaths at the Superdome and Convention Center were nowhere near what we'd been led to believe.

(Hat tip: Lucianne.)

Update: Power Line says It's Time to Investigate the Press.

Supreme Court Announcement This Week?

That's the rumor at Confirm Them. Whether or not their predictions come to pass, the guessing game is fun :).

Update: Red State says the announcement will probably be made Thursday. Unfortunately, Gonzales may be back in the running.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

"The Most Important American Never to Have Been President"

George Will marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Chief Justice John Marshall.

Will believes that Marshall's impact on our country was greater than that of all but our two greatest Presidents, Washington and Lincoln.

Will says that the Liberty Bell cracked tolling Marshall's death and never rang again. This is but one theory among many about the Liberty Bell's crack, documented by the Liberty Bell Museum.

Update: Bench Memos also noticed the Liberty Bell issue.

California Missions Caught In Church/State Culture War

Federal and state financial assistance for the preservation of California's missions is being held up on multiple fronts because the missions are not just historic buildings, they continue to be active churches. A sad example of our society's increasing paranoia about religion in the public square...such adamant secularism is becoming a religion unto itself.

"Vacationing" at the Culinary Institute of America

This seems to be a weekend for "food" links! I came across this travel story about a vacation spent taking a week-long cooking course at the CIA in Napa Valley, California, and found it an interesting read.

It takes dedication -- or temporary insanity -- to spend one's vacation reporting for kitchen duty at 6:30 a.m. Hours aside, it sounds like a very different and memorable experience.

Teachers, Unions, and Free Speech

California's Proposition 75, on the November ballot, would require unions to obtain permission from members before spending their dues for political purposes.

In an interesting bit of irony, the California Teachers Association has levied higher dues on its members to campaign against Prop. 75.

A few teachers have filed suit to block the union's campaign spending, as described in this editorial from the Orange County Register.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Julia Child: Still Teaching After All These Years

This summer I purchased a DVD of Julia Child's TV series THE FRENCH CHEF as part of my ongoing "adventures in cooking." While watching it tonight and soaking up Julia's wisdom on deglazing, peeling onions, and thickening gravy, I wondered what Julia would have thought if she knew when she filmed these shows that she would still be teaching people to cook over four decades later!

The second volume in THE FRENCH CHEF series will be released this November. They are reasonably priced at $21.58 (no tax or shipping) considering that each set contains several hours of Julia's cooking lessons.

Speaking of Julia Child, the newly published book Julie and Julia has an interesting premise: the author set out to make every recipe from Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogged about the experience as it progressed. The book is officially due on September 28 but Amazon appears to have the book currently available for shipping.

Judge Rules to Uphold 2nd Amendment in New Orleans

One of the interesting side stories of Hurricane Katrina was the decision of the New Orleans Police to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens after the hurricane. Ostensibly this was to help put down the looting and crime, but the reality is that this action by the police department left many citizens defenseless at a time when crime was rampant and police assistance was not readily available. Whether or not the police had the authority to take this action under emergency power orders by the governor is a subject of debate.

A judge has issued a temporary restraining order that the gun seizures must stop and any guns confiscated must be returned to law-abiding, legal gun owners.

We Love Rachael Ray, "America's Darling"

A Q&A with Food Network personality Rachael Ray.

Happening on a Rachael Ray cooking program one evening earlier this year, I watched her and realized "I can do that, and it looks like fun, too."

Rachael has also enchanted my two younger children, who are proud owners of her book Cooking Rocks!.

I like this quote from Newsweek: "Rachael has a personality that makes people feel welcome in the food world."

The Weather Channel

Many of us have been glued to The Weather Channel in recent's a Los Angeles Times story on the channel and its hopes to maintain increased viewership over the long run.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Darned If He Does and If He Doesn't

National Review's Media Blog noticed that Bush was questioned by reporters about his "being in the way" supervising the response to Hurricane Rita from close range...this is the same press corps who complained that Bush did not pay adequate attention to Hurricane Katrina.

Census Bureau Overreach

Last time I filled out a census, I enclosed a letter noting that I was answering personal questions under protest, and cited the actual wording in the Constitution about "enumeration."

The Orange County Register writes today about the latest Census project, the "American Community Survey," which replaces the "long form" of the Census. I wonder how many answers to these intrusive questions end up in the wrong hands and lead to identity theft?

I think it's time to write my representatives in Washington about this issue, and I hope my readers will do the same.

California's Scary Preschool Initiative

Following up on yesterday's post about early childhood education, here's an editorial about the Preschool for All initiative which will be on the ballot in California next June. The initiative is sponsored by yet another actor, Rob Reiner.

This initiative is a bad idea in countless ways. As I posted yesterday, some research shows that long-term preschool benefits are questionable. The initiative mandates that "free" (taxpayer-funded) preschools exist for all 4-year-olds no farther than the local public kindergarten. How much land is available in established neighborhoods for new preschools which aren't on public school property?

Then there's the issue of whether this will lead to mandatory preschool for 4-year-olds and then 3-year-olds. Remember the teacher's quote from yesterday's post: "Since schools are doing so much of the education, nurturing and socialization of kids these days, it's better to get them in earlier..."

Eventually the nanny state may want to take over raising children altogether.

Georgia Schools to Close to Save Gas

Has anything like this happened during energy crises in the past? The Governor of Georgia is asking his state's schools to close next Monday and Tuesday to conserve gas and energy.

File under "one more reason to homeschool"?

Hugh Hewitt's Advice on Schumer Scandal

Hugh Hewitt's on a roll this week. Today he dispenses some hilarious advice to Senator Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for handling the growing scandal surrounding Senator Schumer's staffers digging up credit reports on political opponents.

Hugh's got lots of links to Michelle Malkin and others who are covering this story.

Recent Increase in Hurricanes Part of Normal Weather Cycle?

There are those who attribute the recent changes in hurricane patterns to global warming. Others, however, say that there is a normal long-term weather cycle in which decades of relative hurricane "quiet" alternate with decades of increased activity. There was an "active" hurricane period which lasted from the mid '40s to the mid '60s, and the latest "active" period began in the mid '90s.

More here.

Go, Arnold, Go!

I disagree with our governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, on a number of issues, public funding for stem cell research being just one. Still, I feel that the "half a loaf" California conservatives have with Arnold is better than what we had under the previous Davis Administration, or would have under a Bustamante Administration.

On days I read an article like this, where the governor comes out passionately in favor of parental notification if a teen is considering an abortion, I'm glad he's our governor. His recent vetoes of bills passed by our liberal legislature, which would have allowed homosexual marriage and driver's licenses for illegal aliens, are two more reasons to appreciate his being in the governor's office instead of Gray Davis.

In other California political news, earlier this week I found a fundraising letter from Mel Gibson in my mailbox, urging support for Tom McClintock for Lt. Governor. McClintock, for those of you outside California, is a staunch conservative -- not the kind of candidate supported by typical Hollywood stars, but then Mel has proven himself not to be a typical Hollywood star :).

Update: James Taranto of Opinion Journal muses that Senator Dianne Feinstein must really appreciate Governor Schwarzenegger thinking "as a father." (Not!)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Feinstein: No Judges Wanted

California Senator Dianne Feinstein voted against John Roberts because he refused to answer her questions as "a son, a husband and a father." She also complained he was "dispassionate" and "detached."

In other words, he acted like a judge.

Senators Hatch and Biden: "Phonojournalists"?

This must have been a strange sight: during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing voting on John Roberts' nomination, Senators Hatch and Biden whipped out cell phone cameras and photographed their colleagues.

More on Bible Literacy and Public School

Picking up on a topic I posted last Saturday, here is a new article from CNN about the release of a Bible literature course designed for use in public schools.

Friday Night Update: Here's a nice companion piece on the new textbook and Bible literacy from Opinion Journal (click on "Houses of Worship" at the link).

Hugh Hewitt on "The Reporters Who Didn't Bark"

Hugh points out in The Weekly Standard how curious it is that the national media didn't ask Democrats in D.C. for their opinions when the California legislature recently passed a bill legalizing gay marriage. (Fortunately, Gov. Schwarzenegger promptly vetoed the bill.)

Hugh makes a very interesting point, that the MSM are, in essence, colluding with the liberal left, protecting Democrats by failing to ask the hard questions that could jeopardize votes.

Maybe We Should Just Dispense With Parents Altogether...

...if you follow this liberal education theory to its natural conclusion.

Here's a priceless quote from a teacher: "Since schools are doing so much of the education, nurturing and socialization of kids these days, it's better to get them in earlier..."

(Registration may be required.)

There is research available at the Pacific Research Institute website (input "preschool" in their search engine) which differs significantly from the positive statistics cited in this article and suggests that there are no long-term positive effects for children who attend early preschool.

Jet Blue Passengers Watched Themselves on TV

I can't imagine how it would have felt realizing that the airplane on which I was traveling had bumped Hurricane Rita off every news channel.

Yesterday I alternated watching local news coverage and cable news, and thought MSNBC in particular, which mentioned that the passengers might be watching, attempted to be reassuring.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Attention James Garner Fans...

...and Jack Kelly fans, too!

Next Tuesday, September 27th, three classic episodes of my all-time favorite TV series, MAVERICK, will be released on DVD. (The best price I've found is at Deep Discount DVD, linked above.) I have loved this show since I first discovered it in reruns when I was a teenager, and thanks to Columbia House releasing some of the episodes on VHS a few years back, my children have come to love it too.

The DVD release of only three episodes, rather than a full season, was a disappointment, but there are rumors on some DVD sites that if the "sampler" disc sells well, full-season releases of MAVERICK may follow. By all means, please try this disc, you won't be disappointed :). The DVD includes the show's most famous episode, "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres."

Then, on December 6th, the first season of The Rockford Files will be released, just in time for Christmas gift giving!

Blogging the Hurricane

The Wall Street Journal is experimenting with covering Hurricane Rita in blog appears to be updated regularly.

Pedaling to Work

London has seen the number of bicycling commuters greatly increase since this summer's attacks on London's public transportation system.

This summer my husband began bicycling to work a couple days a week, and he really enjoys it. Given the current gas prices, it's also been a small help financially.

"Home Sweet Homeschool"

A professor at Santa Clara University whose children are homeschooled published this article in last week's American Spectator.

One of the interesting thoughts in this article is that homeschooling parents are left relatively alone by the educational system because: "They don't like outspoken parents, and they sense that the kinds of parents who would go to all the trouble of homeschooling are exactly the pushy types they don't want in their own system."

Read the article for more. I think he's right, not only about that point but about some of the blessings of homeschooling. When I see the hours of homework my oldest brings home from high school, I can't help thinking that keeping up that kind of punishing pace is unnecessary.

You've Got to be Kidding

Sen. Arlen Specter wants the President to delay announcing Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement until the middle of 2006?!

With friends like these...

Update: Harry Reid has said that "The President is not entitled to very much deference in staffing the third branch of government, the judiciary." The Washington Post, to its credit, has criticized Reid's words as "dangerous."

(Hat tip: Bench Memos at National Review Online.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"School's In...the Home"

The Chicago Sun-Times ran this article a few days ago on the booming growth in homeschooling. It does a good, concise job describing some of the benefits of homeschooling -- very pleasant to find in a "mainstream" newspaper, I might add!

"Don't Get Stuck on Stupid", run by "Generalissimo Duane" of The Hugh Hewitt Show, has posted a priceless transcript of Lt. General Honore lecturing reporters today "Don't get stuck on stupid." The reporters kept trying to rehash old negative news instead of focusing on the message they need to be putting out now to help people evacuate from Hurricane Rita. Each time a reporter would turn to the past, Lt. General Honore would briskly bring the reporter back to the reality of the moment.

I sense this is going to become a favorite catch phrase for a lot of people :).

Retailer Exclusive DVD Bonus Discs

I'm the world's biggest DVD fan, but I've recently become aware of a trend I don't care for at all: add-on "store exclusive" bonus discs available only if you buy a DVD from a particular retailer, such as Best Buy or Target. For instance, as one example, if you buy DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES at Target, you get a bonus disc with an extra episode. If you buy it at Wal-Mart, it comes with a different "extra." (This kind of thing has been done before with CDs, for instance I have a couple CDs purchased at Target which came with hidden "bonus tracks.")

I find this new practice most I carefully make choices to expand my DVD library, I want to know for sure that the edition I'm buying is the most complete available. I usually pre-order from Amazon or Deep Discount DVD. How disconcerting it would be to later learn that a particular DVD sold at Target comes with more "extras" for the same price.

More information on this trend was posted today at

Conservative Colleges Rising in Popularity

This is a big issue for us these days, as our oldest will be starting college next year. Finding a campus which doesn't lean hard left and can also be afforded by a family of six is a challenge, to say the least :). We have some good tips (including Wheaton in Illinois, mentioned in the article) and will be spending a lot of time on this issue in coming months.

Hurricane Center May Run Short on Names This Year

What happens if this year's hurricanes exhaust the preplanned alphabetical list for this hurricane season? The answer to this pressing question, which was recently brought up by my children, is in this interesting article.

(Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)

Mark Bittman on the Joys of Garlic

Cookbook author Mark Bittman has written a fun article on garlic, and in particular his discovery of jars of whole pre-peeled garlic cloves, which he says taste about the same as fresh garlic in the dishes he makes, and are a lot easier to work with.

Bittman calls himself "The Minimalist" and is always on the lookout for shortcuts to good food. His book How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food has been an indispensable tool in my cooking education over the past year. "Roast Chicken With Onions and Parsley" (Pg. 361) is a particular favorite.

After reading this, I think I may be ready to take the plunge and try making chicken with 40 cloves of garlic!

Gilmore Girls Spoilers

View the linked website only if, like me, you're one of those people who always reads the ending of a book first. (As you can imagine, I'm not a mystery reader!) This site has steady updates on the latest rumors from the set of what I consider to be the best-written show currently on television...and as a serious film fan I especially love the Gilmores' addiction to movies :).

Constitution Day Lessons for Children

The K12 homeschooling curriculum is making Constitution Day lessons for three different age groups available free of charge. Although Constitution Day has now passed, it's always a good time to learn about the U.S. Constitution. :)

Parents with children in public school may also enjoy using these, as many schools don't cover the Constitution until junior high school age. The K-3 lesson includes an online narration to which younger children can listen.

We are in our third year using K12 and really enjoy it, especially the history and related art lessons.

This Weekend's Dinner?

Bakingsheet, one of my favorite food blogs, has a great-looking recipe for Slow-Cooked Ribs and Root Beer BBQ Sauce.

I've had ribs marinated in Coca-Cola at Disney World's Sci-Fi Dine-In and loved them...we have a lot of root beer fans in our family so I suspect this will be a big hit. I'm printing to add to my "make soon" file!

The Red Cross and Katrina Spending

The New York Times has run an article questioning how much of the donations received by the Red Cross will actually be spent on Katrina relief and/or rebuilding.

There's no question the Red Cross does some great work, but enough questions were raised about Red Cross spending after 9/11 that I decided I'd be more comfortable donating to organizations with lower overhead. I particularly admire Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham. The Salvation Army is another terrific option.

Monday, September 19, 2005

FEMA and the Feds Just Can't Win

For days we heard endlessly about the supposed lack of a federal response and federal management of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Yet now that someone is firmly in charge, in the person of Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, and Allen is cautioning that New Orleans is not ready to safely reopen -- due to lack of drinkable water and emergency medical help, for starters -- Mayor Ray Nagin is huffily complaining that Allen may be "the new federal crowned Mayor of New Orleans."

It seems the Feds are only wanted when they can pick up the pieces of local mismanagement or when they make convenient scapegoats.

Gender Differences, Learning, and Teaching

A thought-provoking, though brief, article from Newsweek about some school programs designed to address differences in how the sexes learn best. In particular, some described in the article see boys' needs as being overlooked in girl-friendly schools; I tend to agree with this based on past experience.

The NEA and Exclusion

Last week the Washington Times ran an editorial about the National Education Association not extending its policies of "inclusion" toward homeschoolers.

Not at all surprising, but still a sad commentary on the NEA's preoccupation with protecting its own turf, regardless of what actually works to successfully educate children.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Robert Novak on Chuck Schumer's Defeat

Novak says that not only did John Roberts defeat Schumer, he has also set a standard for future hearings, which will protect judicial candidates from having to state their policy positions. (Of course, we could call this "The Ginsburg Standard" since Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn't outline her policy positions either, but Schumer wishes to pretend otherwise.)

Sunday Cupcakes

I've discovered another great cupcakes website, 52 Cupcakes. I'm bookmarking it next to Cupcakes Take the Cake.

We recently tried making the More From Magnolia cupcakes pictured on the website, but although the frosting turned out well, the cupcakes weren't our best. Maybe we need to try again! :)


Mark Steyn on the Roberts Confirmation Hearings

Steyn proves week after week that he's a genius with words, and this column is no exception.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public Schools

A commentary from the Washington Times on Biblical illiteracy and the need to understand the Bible as history and literature in order to be well-educated.

A high school in Long Beach, California, has been providing a course on the Bible as literature. It will be interesting to see if more schools will follow suit in an era where there is such paranoia in some quarters about anything touching on the religious in the public square.

Tonight's Movie: Advise and Consent (1962)

Otto Preminger's ADVISE AND CONSENT (1962), detailing political machinations surrounding the confirmation hearings for a nominee for Secretary of State, remains surprisingly relevant over four decades later.

While watching the film one couldn't help but think of the attempted character assassinations during the hearings of Clarence Thomas and John Bolton, among others.

The large ensemble cast includes pros such as Walter Pidgeon, Franchot Tone, Lew Ayres, and Gene Tierney. One wonders how many viewers at the time realized Peter Lawford's womanizing senator may have been based on his brother-in-law, President Kennedy. Most interesting of all, one wonders if Robert Byrd has modeled his Senate performance after Charles Laughton's Senator from South Carolina (grin).

The movie is available on a fine-looking DVD which includes a commentary track.

Photos of Hong Kong Disneyland

For Disney parks fans, Mice Age has some good photos up of the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Friday, September 16, 2005

"Katrina, What Went Right"

A very interesting contrarian viewpoint by Lou Dolinar at Real Clear Politics, which goes against the conventional wisdom of the last couple weeks and points out the huge successes in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina flooding.

His thesis is actually a lot was going right, there just wasn't centralized command and control and especially there was a "press release breakdown" so the media wasn't covering the good it didn't know about.

This ties in with a theory that I've been contemplating the last few days: by stationing themselves on the front lines with some of the hurricane victims, the media (Fox News Channel's Shep Smith comes to mind) became part of the story rather than covering the story. While Smith's empathy for those suffering on the freeway overpass was appreciated on one level, on another level he lost all perspective because he was way too close to what was in actuality a relatively small part of the overall story taking place not just in New Orleans, but in three states. We saw certain problems up close and personal, but there wasn't much digging by news anchors to discover exactly who should have been doing what, who was doing what, and so on. Instead the anchors became one with the victims, a "reality TV" style of news that ultimately did a disservice to the nation.

For more on these ideas, see Victor Davis Hanson's piece on the media and Katrina, linked below.

Cindy Sheehan Proves She's an Idiot

This story is worthy of's too silly to be believed. Cindy Sheehan is demanding the President remove troops from "occupied New Orleans."

"Sound of Music" Director Robert Wise Dies at 91

This obituary written by Bob Thomas includes thoughts from Julie Andrews.

This will always be one of my favorite movies, and has been since I first saw it at three years of age, an experience I vividly recall.

"Fear is a Waste of Time"

Written by Tony Snow, someone who knows this subject intimately.

How the Media Cooked Up the Storm

Victor Davis Hanson on the media's misplaced priorities in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, and the role it played in stirring up resentments and problems.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Latest Musings on the Other Supreme Court Vacancy...

...from Confirm Them, which suggests Judge Edith Jones is currently a strong possibility.

La Shawn Barber Advocates Homeschooling

Popular conservative blogger La Shawn Barber says today's Pledge of Allegiance court decision is one more reason to homeschool. She provides a number of good links to homeschooling resources and articles.

I liked the letter she published mentioning one of the fringe benefits of homeschooling is listening to Rush Limbaugh during school hours. We certainly take advantage of this :).

Two of my children have been studying American history this year, and we have been able to tie in some of the recent news coverage of the hurricane and Supreme Court hearings to discussions of federalism and the branches of government. I really enjoy helping history and civics "come alive" with current illustrations of the issues.

Going Where Schools Should Not Go

Here is yet another example of schools getting away from their mission -- education -- and taking on more "nanny state" duties, in this case screening children for obesity.

We have seen these kinds of issues in our own local school district, with children being given physical examinations screening for scoliosis without prior parental notification or consent, and where at some middle schools children were being given their BMI and blood pressure numbers directly by teachers, leading in some cases to confusion, teasing, and eating problems among the students.

Preventing scoliosis and childhood obesity are important issues, but I suggest they are not issues for which schools are or should be responsible. Schools, in general, have enough trouble competently fulfilling their educational mission, and, moreover, there can be serious problems in properly executing such health programs, as described in this article and as I became aware of locally.

No matter how "noble" the cause, in the end it is parents -- not the state -- who must be responsible for their children's health.

Constitution Day

I learned today that Saturday is the newly declared Constitution Day, which is being marked by public schools on Friday. This article explores the short history of Constitution Day, as well as the bit of irony in the federal government legislating that each state's schools celebrate this day.

Irony aside, the goals behind this day are a good idea and I plan to spend some time discussing the Constitution with my homeschooled children on Friday.

We will also recite the Pledge of Allegiance, something public school children are apparently no longer allowed to do under today's 9th Circuit court ruling! (I assume the ruling will be stayed pending appeal, as it was on the last go-round.) Just one more reason to be happy we're homeschoolers :).

Update: Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA, has a Constitution Day celebration planned for 10:45 a.m. Friday morning, September 16th, at their replica of Independence Hall.

Children's Literature in The Weekly Standard

One of the reasons I subscribe to The Weekly Standard is their excellent fine arts coverage. Here Joseph Bottum writes on Laura Ingalls Wilder's LITTLE HOUSE books, as well as other childhood favorites such as ALL-OF-A-KIND FAMILY and MAMA'S BANK ACCOUNT, intertwining his discussion of literature with thoughts on childhood memories.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Roberts Criticizes Citing Foreign Law

My blood pressure can't handle listening to the endless blather of the Democrat Senators during the hearings, so I was glad to read this story tonight and learn that Roberts criticized judges citing foreign laws in their decisions. I believe this new trend is a very big issue which must be promptly nipped in the bud.

Thomas Sowell on Smart Children and School

Dr. Thomas Sowell offers some interesting commentary on the challenges -- or, more properly, the lack thereof -- often faced by bright children at school.

We ran into one example of this kind of problem just last week, when we learned that our local public high school doesn't offer more than one academic course for advanced/gifted seniors during the last period of the day, on the assumption that most seniors don't care and will be leaving campus as early in the day as allowed. If you don't need that one course available, too bad. The curriculum is thus "dumbed down" to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator, rather than offering options to seniors who are serious about their education and desirous of learning more.

My daughter wanted to take six classes but couldn't do it because there was nothing "academic" whatsoever available she could take 6th period! Her counselor just shrugged when I commented that the school wasn't meeting its mission to serve all its students.

Podhoretz Nails It

John Podhoretz has an outstanding column in the New York Post analyzing how the post-hurricane leadership, or lack thereof, of the Governor and Mayor helped lead to chaos and a demoralized citizenry. As Podhoretz writes, "They fed the despair." He explains why.

(Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)

Monday, September 12, 2005

"The Californian Way"

Former Governor of California Pete Wilson has written an article citing lessons learned from the Northridge Earthquake recovery and how they might be helpful in Louisiana.

The post-quake rebuilding of the I-10 Freeway in a mere 66 days stands out as one of the Wilson Administration's greatest achievements.

Hong Kong Disneyland Opens Today

The new park is apparently closest in style to the original Disneyland in California.

(Note, however, that MSNBC can't make up its mind whether the castle belongs to Snow White or Sleeping Beauty! I believe it's Sleeping Beauty, as in California.)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Orleans Mayor Praises President Bush

The Democrat Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, disses a fellow Democrat, Governor Kathleen Blanco, while praising President Bush as someone who "made things happen." No love has been lost between Nagin and Blanco going back far before the hurricane (Blanco promised to get even with Nagin after he supported her Republican opponent for Governor), but this praise for the President provides a bit of an interesting new twist to the ongoing saga related to the response to the hurricane.

Nagin verifies that the Red Cross and Salvation Army were prevented at the state level from providing readily available supplies to the shelters in New Orleans immediately after the hurricane. Those chilling scenes we saw on TV were thus emphatically not the fault of the White House or FEMA.

Tonight's Movie: In Old Chicago (1938)

IN OLD CHICAGO is the engrossing story of political machinations in 1870s Chicago involving the O'Leary family. Dion O'Leary (Tyrone Power in an unusual antihero role) is a roguish businessman and political puppeteer, while brother Jack (Don Ameche) is a crusading attorney who runs for mayor. Alice Faye plays a dancehall performer who becomes Dion's business partner and wife. Political, family, and romantic problems are resolved after Mother O'Leary's cow kicks over a lantern and starts the Great Chicago Fire, a memorable, lengthy sequence which ends the film. Alice Brady won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Mrs. O'Leary.

Fox Classics has put out an outstanding DVD which includes both the standard theatrical version and the original "roadshow" version, which is considerably longer. I wish Fox had included a commentary track (information on the filming of the fire's special effects and on Chicago history would have been most welcome), but the prints are excellent and the inclusion of a BIOGRAPHY episode on Don Ameche was a nice extra.

Recommended as an example of solid '30s filmmaking by Hollywood legends and durable character actors. Directed by Henry King.

Landrieu Says Evacuation Failed Because Bush Doesn't Support Mass Transit

Lousiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu gave a rather amazing interview this morning on FOX NEWS SUNDAY, where Chris Wallace, to his credit, pressed her on a variety of issues. If Landrieu had spun any harder, her head would have come off. She refused to answer most questions directly, and when Wallace questioned her about the buses not used in the evacuation, she complained that the buses were underwater, ignoring that Wallace was speaking of the point in time before the hurricane.

Landrieu went on to complain that it's hard to get a city's workers to work "on a sunny day" and went on to make her criticism of the President. For more, read this summary posted at NewsMax.

Political Bias in High School Classrooms

My high school senior, the only one of our children not currently being homeschooled, is being confronted with this issue right now in her Advanced Placement Civics class. It's only been two days and she's already heard that the initial response to Hurricane Katrina was solely the fault of the federal government, and that President Bush's recess appointment of John Bolton was very unusual and questionable. (I wonder if the teacher knows that President Clinton made 140 recess appointments, including the No. 2 man at the Justice Department?)

The textbooks will include the 9/11 Commission Report. I wonder if the teacher knows about Jamie Gorelick, the "Wall," and the Able Danger intelligence issues? Somehow I think not...or if he does, the class won't hear about them.

"A Night in the Pennant Race"

Eric Neel of ESPN is one of my favorite sportswriters. Here he rhapsodizes about the fall pennant race. Enjoy.

Alas, the Dodgers, whose GM Paul DePodesta has made a string of poor decisions over the last year under the ownership of Frank and Jamie McCourt, are not likely to be in the playoffs, although it's never over till it's over...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Beautiful New Disneyland Book

The Disneyland Hotel, to be precise. This book covering the hotel from 1954 to '88 looks as though it's filled with many pages of gorgeous retro photos and drawings. It's now at the top of my wish list!

Private Business and Hurricane Katrina

The Wall Street Journal writes about some of the impressive private sector responses to Hurricane Katrina, as well as analyzing some things the government can learn from businesses about logistical planning for a potential disaster.

One of the interesting tidbits is that Wal-Mart knows, based on past sales, that its customers stock up on strawberry Pop-Tarts for hurricanes.

Saturday Afternoon Candy!

Everything you ever wanted to know about candy can be found at the Candy Blog. The most recent entry gives a history of KitKat bars and compares the U.S. and Canadian versions.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Latest Supreme Court Gossip

Rumor has it the President is leaning strongly in a certain direction, but who he currently favors is anyone's guess.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

NASCAR Salutes Wounded Troops

NASCAR drivers, Condi Rice and Lee Greenwood singing "God Bless the USA." What more could you want at such an event? :)

"I Keep My Sundays Free"

Another touching remembrance of the late Chief Justice.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Customs Tells Employees to Stop Helping FEMA...

...and help the New Orleans police instead.

The same police who are all being sent on Vegas vacations.

If the police weren't in Vegas, could the Customs people keep helping FEMA?

Curt Schilling is a Class Act

As a baseball fan I love to read a story like this, especially the part where the father realized that the man sponsoring his family was *the* Curt Schilling.

Hugh Hewitt had a wonderful letter the other day from former California Angel Jim Anderson, volunteering to go to the disaster area and help distract the children by holding baseball clinics. I remember Jim from a couple great Angels teams of the late '70s and this was nice to see.

Mr. Rogers (one of my heroes) used to say that one of the best ways to help children cope with disasters is to point out all the people helping afterward. These are just two of many wonderful stories happening all over the country.

Mexican Troops Cross Texas Border For First Time Since 1846

I certainly have my quarrels with the Mexican government on the issue of immigration, but they are responding with class to Hurricane Katrina and it's most appreciated.

State Blocked Red Cross From Providing Food & Water

Major Garrett at Fox News Channel had a big story today, which he discussed on Hugh Hewitt's radio show after giving his report on TV this afternoon. The transcript of the interview is now posted at the site of Hugh's producer Duane (linked above).

In a nutshell, the Red Cross was ready to move in with relief supplies for the Super Dome and Convention Center in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane but were ordered not to enter the city by the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, which didn't want to attract more people to that area, but wanted the people trapped there to evacuate rather than receive any services.

Unfortunately, an unknown number of people died of dehydration or other problems in the days before the evacuation could be accomplished.

It's also a bit puzzling why the state wouldn't want more people to come to that area, the natural staging ground to evacuate people from the city in the wake of the disaster. Did they want the people not there already to remain in their homes?

Garrett will be working on further developing this story. In the meantime, with each day it becomes more apparent that the state and city bungled the hurricane from start to finish and then rushed to blame the federal government, which is not the designated "first responder" for emergencies in any state. Indeed, if the President had tried to overrule the governor and order the evacuation himself or move troops in without her permission, we'd probably be hearing Democrats talking this week about impeaching the President for violating the Constitution.

Arnold Says No

Answering yesterday's question ("What will Arnold do?"), the Governor of CA says he will veto the state legislature's bill legalizing gay marriage. He points out signing it into law would thwart the will of the people as expressed in Proposition 22.

I'm certainly glad to see him standing on principle in this matter, upholding the will of the voters, something the legislature arrogantly refused to do.

The Lessons of Katrina

An excellent rundown by Instapundit of some of the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.

A Remembrance of the Chief

A lovely article by a student who studied under Chief Justice Rehnquist in England a summer ago.

Homeschooling and Literature

A good Wall Street Journal article on books popular with homeschoolers.

I don't understand the author's comment that some Christians may see Laura Ingalls Wilder as "insufficiently pious" (because she was restless on Sunday as a small child?!) but otherwise the article is worth reading.

We use the K12 curriculum, which utilizes titles by both Wilder and Lewis. Being homeschoolers, we have plenty of time for going beyond the books used in the curriculum and reading the rest of the books in each series, which, as the article points out, is one of the pleasures of homeschooling!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Rehnquist Lies in State at Supreme Court

An historic moment today, as the future Chief Justice, John Roberts, served as a pallbearer carrying the late Chief Justice into the Supreme Court building.

It was moving having Rehnquist's former clerks and employees not only serving as pallbearers but serving as an honor guard as he lay in state.

If you click on "More photos" at the left of the article there's a nice slide show of the day's events.

California Legislature Approves Gay Marriage

The state legislature has arrogantly ignored the will of the people, expressed through Proposition 22.

Now the question is: What will Arnold do?

Monday, September 05, 2005

If That Doesn't Beat All

This story seems to capture the decadent nature of Louisiana government in a nutshell: the city of New Orleans asked FEMA to pay for 5-day vacations in Vegas for the entire police department. Now.

FEMA turned them down. The city of New Orleans will pay for the trips instead -- sending the officers now, while people from all over the country continue to labor in the city.

There hasn't been much to say in the last few days -- everything else took a backseat to absorbing the overwhelming devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

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