Friday, May 23, 2008

Copywrite Apologies

It has recently been brought to my attention that I am not supposed to reprint more than 50 words of an article on here. I had no idea; I thought that if you cited the source all was Okay. Apparently not. From now on, there will only be a teaser, and a link to the original source.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Keep the Immigrants, Deport the Multiculturalists

May 15, 2008; Page A17, Wall Street Journal

So, whatever happened to immigration as a presidential campaign issue?

In the early caucus and primary states – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina – the media assured us that immigration was foremost on the minds of voters. You couldn't watch a Republican debate without the issue dominating a good chunk of the discussion. And when Hillary Clinton appeared to endorse a proposal in New York state to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, it was considered a major stumble, and the senator spent weeks trying to clarify her remarks.
[Keep the Immigrants, Deport the Multiculturalists]
Immigrants arriving in the United States, May 27, 1920.

The public, we were told, was fed up with illegal immigrants, especially those coming from Latin America. These foreign nationals were stealing jobs, depressing wages, filling our jails and prisons, refusing to learn English, and not assimilating like past immigrant groups. The conventional wisdom was that any presidential candidate who stood a chance of being elected would have to take a hard-line stance on illegal aliens.

Yet somehow the issue seems to have faded, if not disappeared entirely. The presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, isn't a fire-breathing "seal the border" restrictionist. Rather, he's the candidate most closely associated with a comprehensive immigration reform proposal that would have given most undocumented immigrants a shot at becoming legal residents if they met certain requirements. As for the Democrats, when's the last time you saw the term "illegal immigrant" appear in a story about Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama?

So what happened?

Well, I have a theory, and it is that Americans are basically pro-immigrant but ambivalent about it. This ambivalence is reflected in polls, which of course provide different results based on how questions are asked. For example, last year a CBS News poll asked, "Should illegal immigrants be prosecuted and deported or shouldn't they?" And 69% of respondents favored deportation. When the same interviewers asked the same respondents what should happen to illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the U.S. for at least two years, and then offered a specific alternative to deportation, only 33% favored deportation; 62% said they should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status.

When a separate Gallup poll asked a similar question but offered four alternatives, just 13% favored deportation, and 78% said illegal immigrants should be allowed to keep their jobs and apply for citizenship.

In other words, for all the loud talk we've heard in recent months, via cable news, talk radio and the blogosphere, the American public seems not to have lost confidence in the melting pot. And rightly so, because there's plenty of evidence that assimilation is proceeding apace. True, it doesn't always seem that way, but we all know that perceptions can sometimes be illusions.

The media offers up a steady diet of data about current immigration from Mexico, and much of it consists of "averages" regarding English-language skills, income, home-ownership rates, education and so forth. But while digesting these figures, it's important to keep in mind that Latino immigration is ongoing. These averages are snapshots of a moving stream and therefore of little use in measuring assimilation. To properly gauge assimilation, we need to find out how immigrants in the U.S. are faring over time. Only longitudinal studies that track individuals can provide that information.

Just looking at averages can give you a very distorted view of who's learning English or dropping out of school or climbing out of poverty. How so? Because overall statistics that average in large numbers of newcomers can obscure the progress made by pre-existing immigrants.

Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California, calls it the "Peter Pan Fallacy." "Many of us assume, unwittingly, that immigrants are like Peter Pan," says Mr. Myers, "forever frozen in their status as newcomers, never aging, never advancing economically, and never assimilating." In this naïve view, he says, "the mounting numbers of foreign-born residents imply that our nation is becoming dominated by growing numbers of people who perpetually resemble newcomers."

The reality, however, is that the longitudinal studies show real socio-economic progress by Latinos. Progress is slower in some areas, such as the education level of adult immigrants, and faster in others, such as income and homeownership rates. But there is no doubt that both assimilation and upward mobility are occurring over time.

With respect to linguistic assimilation, which is one of the more important measures because it amounts to a job skill that can increase earnings, the historical pattern is as follows: The first generation learns enough English to get by but prefers the mother tongue. The children of immigrants born here grow up in homes where they understand the mother tongue to some extent and may speak it, but they prefer English. When those children become adults, they establish homes where English is the dominant language.

There's every indication that Latinos are following this pattern. According to 2005 Census data, just one-third of Latino immigrants in the country for less than a decade speak English well. But that proportion climbs to 75% for those here 30 years or more. There may be more bilingualism today among their children, but there's no evidence that Spanish is the dominant language in the second generation. The 2000 Census found that 91% of the children of immigrants, and 97% of the grandchildren, spoke English well.

If American culture is under assault today, it's not from immigrants who aren't assimilating but from liberal elites who reject the concept of assimilation. For multiculturalists, and particularly those in the academy, assimilation is a dirty word. A values-neutral belief system is embraced by some to avoid having to judge one culture as superior or inferior to another. Others reject the assimilationist paradigm outright on the grounds that the U.S. hasn't always lived up to its ideals. America slaughtered Indians and enslaved blacks, goes the argument, and this wicked history means we have no right to impose a value system on others.

But social conservatives who want to seal the border in response to these left-wing elites are directing their wrath at the wrong people. The problem isn't the immigrants. The problem is the militant multiculturalists who want to turn America into some loose federation of ethnic and racial groups. The political right should continue to push back against bilingual education advocates, anti-American Chicano Studies professors, Spanish-language ballots, ethnically gerrymandered voting districts, La Raza's big-government agenda and all the rest. But these problems weren't created by the women burping our babies and changing linen at our hotels, or by the men picking lettuce in Yuma and building homes in Iowa City.

Keep the immigrants. Deport the Columbia faculty.

Mr. Riley, a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, is author of "Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders" (Gotham), which is out today.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Treacle Tart

Prompted by Miriam Webster's Word of the Day: treacle. Well the only time I had heard of treacle was in reference to this desert.

Here's a recipe from Lyle's himself.

Treacle tart is a popular dessert in the UK. It has become somewhat of a curiosity in other countries due to its frequent mention in the Harry Potter books. Treacle tart is in fact, Harry’s favorite dessert.

For most anyone not British, great misunderstanding exists about treacle tart. Many assume that it is made with molasses, which is often called treacle in the UK. Actually treacle tart is made with golden syrup, a by-product of sugar making, like molasses, but more similar in taste and texture to honey. Golden syrup may also be referred to as treacle in the UK. Treacle tart has a consistency similar to pecan pie, though it usually does not contain eggs in the filling and is less gelatinous. It is slightly stickier. It can be served hot, warm, or cold, and may be garnished with whipped cream, or ice cream. It is a very sweet dish, and those unaccustomed to such sweetness may find it overly sweet.

To those in the UK, the familiar taste of golden syrup usually makes tart quite appealing. Golden syrup frequently tops porridge in place of brown sugar or maple syrup, and is thus reminiscent of childhood fare.

Movies Under the Moon

Movies Under the Moon at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax. Field opens at 6:30 pm - Movie starts at 8:30 pm
Movies Schedule
Wednesday, June 18 Shrek 3
Thursday, June 19 Transformers
Friday, June 20 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Saturday, June 21 Hairspray
Sunday, June 22 Bee Movie

Antoher lesson from the Brits

Brit Says to be Wary of Speed Cameras

A little-noticed clause in a 1991 Road Traffic Act passed by the British Parliament empowered courts of law to accept photographs taken by specially designed cameras as evidence a motorist exceeded a posted speed limit.

Conventionally, these Traffic Enforcement Cameras (also known as speed cameras) are claimed to be able to detect a vehicle traveling at an illegal speed, and then to take two photographs of the vehicle in quick succession, on a stretch of road painted with distance markers. This — it is said — enables the vehicle’s ‘true’ speed to be computed and supported by photographic evidence.

Speed camera technology has become more sophisticated with the passage of time. The early cameras functioned with ‘wet’ film, but the latest designs operate digitally, and even print out and automatically dispatch notices of fines and other penalties.

Until recently, British courts have accepted speed camera evidence without debate — the motorist is guilty unless he can prove himself innocent. In the wake of speed-cameras, have come other cameras, to detect a burgeoning variety of traffic violations, including making illegal turns, driving in a bus-only lane, jumping a red light, and so on.

In the latest development in the onward march of the speed camera, the London Safety Camera Partnership (a police-dominated committee that supervises the location and operation of such cameras in Greater London) has commenced an experiment with banks of cameras mounted on gantries above a major downtown highway.

The cameras photograph vehicle registration plates (which in the U.K. must be mounted on the front and rear of all motor vehicles), and send these images to a central computer that is — we are assured — able to calculate the average speed of the photographed vehicle.

Should the average speed exceed the permitted maximum, fines will be levied and penalty-points will be added to the driver’s licence. If the experiment is successful — and we can safely assume those behind it have already made up their minds that it is going to be a great success – then such cameras will be erected all over London, in provincial cities, and along the major freeways.

Big Brother — the Orwellian nightmare — has arrived.

Those who support the seemingly irresistible spread of the speed-camera do not see it that way. The law — they will tell you — is the law. Motorists who flout the law are criminals who deserve to be caught and punished. Besides — they will tell you — speeding kills. If lives can be saved with speed cameras, so much the better.

But is it?

In spite of the barrage of propaganda telling us that the technology is near-perfect, damn it, it isn’t. In England, over the past few years, a number of cases have highlighted technical deficiencies of speed cameras, resulting in prosecutions being abandoned at the taxpayers’ expense.

Speed cameras lack common sense. They are imperfect. They are often unable to function properly in poor visibility, or where the road has a curvature. The evidence that they reduce fatalities is also far from conclusive.

Research carried out in the U.K. by Motorcycle News in 2005 found that in areas where the number of cameras had been increased, so had road-accident fatalities — a phenomenon probably due to the fact that cameras distract drivers, who pay inordinate attention to them.

The rise of the speed camera has also resulted in the undermining of time-honoured British legal norms, dating from Magna Carta. It is — or used to be — axiomatic that an accused person was entitled not to incriminate himself. This is no longer the case.

When a camera snaps a vehicle, the registered vehicle-owner is required to tell the authorities the identity of the driver — for it is the driver who is prosecuted, of course, not the vehicle.

So owner-drivers are routinely required to give evidence against themselves. The alternative — to automatically penalize the owner of a vehicle where the police cannot identify the driver — may be a bureaucratic convenience. It is a legal travesty.

The true purpose of traffic-enforcement cameras, however, is not to save lives. It is — of course — to raise revenue. But in my judgment no amount of revenue so generated by a speed camera can compensate for its perverse effects.

These are just some of the problems we’ve found here in Britain with speed cameras. America, you’ve been warned.

Professor Geoffrey Alderma teaches politics and contemporary history at the University of Buckingham in Great Britain.

Essential Pots and Pans

From Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen:

- 12-inch cast iron skillet
- 10-inch stainless-steel skillet
- 8-inch Teflon-coated aluminum skillet
- 8- to 12-inch saute pan
- 3- to 4- quart saucepan or saucier with lid
- 8- to 12-quart stockpot with lid--and steamer insert
- 5-quart Dutch oven or casserole with lid

Get some rest and get skinny!

From the Washington Post:
Sleep Habits Linked to Obesity

People who sleep fewer than six hours a night -- or more than nine -- are more likely to be obese, finds a new government study, one of the largest to show a link between irregular sleep and big bellies. The study also linked light sleepers to higher smoking rates, less physical activity and more alcohol use.

The research adds weight to a stream of studies that have found obesity and other health problems in those who don't get proper shut-eye, said Ron Kramer, a Colorado physician and a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"The data is all coming together that short sleepers and long sleepers don't do so well," Kramer said.

The study is based on door-to-door surveys of 87,000 U.S. adults conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such surveys can't prove cause-effect relationships, so it's not clear, for example, whether smoking causes sleeplessness or sleeplessness prompts smoking, said Charlotte Schoenborn, the study's lead author.

The study also did not account for the influence of other factors, such as depression, which can contribute to heavy eating, smoking, sleeplessness and other problems.

Smoking was highest for people who got less than six hours of sleep; 31 percent said they were current smokers. Those who slept nine hours or more were also big puffers: 26 percent smoked. For those who slept seven to eight hours, the rate was 18 percent.

About 33 percent of those who slept less than six hours were obese, as were 26 percent for those who slept nine hours or more. Normal sleepers were the thinnest group, with obesity at 22 percent.

Those who slept the least were the biggest drinkers.

Other studies have found inadequate sleep is tied to appetite-influencing hormone imbalances and a higher incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure, noted James Gangwisch, a Columbia University sleep researcher.

"We're getting to the point that they may start recommending getting enough sleep as a standard approach to weight loss and the prevention of obesity," said Gangwisch, who was not involved in the study.

-- Mike Stobbe, Associated Press


G has started "going" on the toilet when she was 16 mos., but I haven't been pushing her to make it exclusive yet. One of my hesitations is that we are often out and about most of the morning together, and there are stores and areas where she would not be able to go to the bathroom... Anyhow, I found this, Fisher Price's portable potty. G loves it too. Another great compact solution!

On Dewey's System

Check It Out: Finding Romance And Adventure in the Library
by Dawn Goldsmith

We in the library business have a peculiar sense of bookish humor.

As I return a copy of "Pudd'nhead Wilson" to the fiction shelf in the public library branch where I hold the delightfully appropriate title of "page," I give Mark Twain an extra pat to align his spine with the neighboring volumes. I visualize the author stroking his mustache, eyes twinkling, a happy man flanked by two bodice-rippers. A literary ménage à trois if ever there was one.

We are amused by such serendipitous juxtapositions. A co-worker points out that wedding planner books sit beside fairy tales. (This is the woman who gets heart palpitations whenever she enters the children's section. "Disorder does that to me," she says.) Here, among the biographies, the Bee Gees hobnob with Beethoven, the energetic Mother Teresa with electrifying inventor Nikola Tesla. On one nonfiction shelf, Iraq, Israel and Lebanon peacefully coexist.

We also find unexpected truths hidden in plain sight. Biographies are denoted by the letter B, followed by the subject's name. A colleague notes the label on a life of the late actor Christopher Reeve: B Reeve. Bereave.

I grew up next-door to the local library, and it was always the first place I thought to go when I wanted adventure or answers. I learned of the Holocaust while sitting on the floor of the library. I learned about human sexuality and humor, and lust and love and how to tell the difference. I learned of tragedy and melodrama and made friends with such amazing people, authors and characters alike: Louisa May Alcott and Meg; Herman Melville and Captain Ahab; Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist. I discovered Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney and the world of Gothic romance.

To spend my days with these old friends -- such a pleasure. But it wasn't until I began working in our local branch that I discovered library humor.

From the head librarian to the lowly page who reshelves books, we seek out these oddities and ironies. For many of them we give thanks -- particularly during this National Library Week -- to that pre-Google search engine, Dewey's Decimal Classification System.

Melvil Louis Kossuth Dewey published his scheme of sorting books by subject in 1876, taking library science from an avocation to a profession and himself from young library assistant to the Father of Modern Librarianship. So in tune was he with simplification and order, he dropped the extraneous "le" from his first name and for a time, the story goes, spelled his surname "Dui."

Dewey's hierarchical system begins with a broad classification and narrows to the specific. It starts with 000, which is Generalities in its most general terms. Each subsequent number is assigned to a related topic, from the grand Knowledge (001) through forgeries and hoaxes (098), until with 100 it opens a new subject, philosophy. The system continues out to the far reaches of the universe, the Extraterrestrial Worlds of 999.

Dewey's inspired addition of a decimal point makes it possible to create ever-expanding space within each numbered topic. Infinity, symbolized by a dot. Dewey's system also offers bookworms and bibliophiles an endless source of smiles, insight and puzzles.

Astrology shares an aisle with religion. Writing and fly-fishing -- both involving technique, solitude, meditation and a lot of luck -- share a shelf. True crime gives way to home schooling. I grin at the 000 section, where ghosts and UFOs sit cover to cover with the floppy how-to paperbacks filled with computer software directions. How appropriate that Dewey's system would place the ethereal and otherworldly on the fringes of cyberspace.

As I shelve books, I wonder about some of Dewey's choices. Books of baby names rest beside ancient history -- the cradles of civilization? -- and next to the pirate section, an array of travel books spans the seven seas.

With the responsibility to bring together books about our immense world, our small library strains at its bindings. Unlike true bibliophiles from Ptolemy to Julius Caesar to Dewey, the county budget committee sees libraries as social meeting places rather than repositories of civilization's building blocks. We squeeze books together so tightly, when we remove one, the whole shelf exhales and expands.

But our patrons make room for themselves. A favorite 80-year-old man lies spread-eagled on the floor, searching a bottom shelf for the latest Dean Koontz suspense thriller. A young mother kneels prayerfully before the books on child-raising. Out of her sight in an adjacent aisle, her toddler clears every book off the lower shelves. To reach their goals, our shorter patrons hop in place like Jack Russell terriers or do a rep of step aerobics using the library's stools. Groups of adolescent boys predictably gather books from the human sexuality section. They read them in the how-to and handicrafts aisle.

I make my silent way past them, stocking shelves and schlepping books, work as ancient as libraries themselves. Thankfully we pages no longer stack clay tablets or carry scrolls in wooden buckets, but in a way those were the good old days, when every leader lusted to build his own library and fill it with all the knowledge in the world.

Some of these bibliomaniacs didn't use the most ethical book collection methods. In 48 B.C., when Julius Caesar occupied Alexandria, Cleopatra urged him to check out the library. And check it out he did. He sent shiploads of books back to Rome, filling the shelves of his own dream library. Rumor has it that Mark Antony, his rival for the affections of the Egyptian queen, "borrowed" books from a Greek library to restock the shelves for Cleopatra.

How romantic.


I have been looking for a cute doll for G for her birthday, and finally found one: Lulu by Corolle in the Poupette line. I had been frustrated by the fact that most dolls are baby-ish, too old, not cute, or down-right ugly. Not anymore!

She is so sweet! FAO Schwartz had the best price/shipping.

Plan Toys

I love these toys! They are great, recycled wooden toys. And they are fun, not just wooden. (Don't you think the fad of wooden toys has created a lot of toys that are cool because they are made of wood, not because they are fun to play with?!) Anyhow, they are great toys, and the are GREEN!

I know this is not funny, but...

Hopes Fade for Priest

Washington Post

Hopes of finding a Catholic priest who disappeared after soaring aloft strapped to hundreds of colorful balloons are growing slimmer, rescue officials said Wednesday.

The Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli has been missing since Sunday, when he lifted off from the port city of Paranagua wearing a helmet, a thermal flight suit, waterproof coveralls and a parachute.

He was seeking to break a record for a flight using helium-filled party balloons.

Rescuers continued to search off Brazil's southern coast, near where a cluster of yellow, orange, pink and white balloons was found floating in the Atlantic close to where de Carli was last heard from.

Umbrella Envy

J recently brought back a page from an in flight magazine describing cool umbrellas. My favorite are the Pare Umbrella and the Davek Solo.

The Pare Umbrellas come in a zillion different prints and are very classy. Hysterically they now have a "de fafa" umbrella. Can it really be that the Flight of the Conchords have inspired an umbrella?! These have a great shape too, with sixteen ribs.

Honorable mention goes to the Swims Automatic Classic.

At this UK site you can find almost any shape or style umbrella imaginable. I'm dying over the Edwardian Pagoda shaped umbrellas. Why aren't they available in the US?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Charles Krauthammer

I have been enjoying CK's op-eds in the Washington Post so much lately, that I went online to see if there was a Krauthammer Fan Club. Sadly, I am not joking. The only thing that I could find though is this:

That Greta Van Susteren has a dog that looks remarkably similar to CK.

What American Conservatives Can Learn From Their British Counterparts

David Brooks wrote a very interesting piece for The New York Times on "The Conservative Revival" on May 9.

He says that firstly the Tory revival came by "moving beyond the Thatcherite tendency to put economics first. As Oliver Letwin, one of the leading Tory strategists put it: 'Politics, once econo-centric, must now become socio-centric.' David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, makes it clear that his primary focus is sociological. Last year he declared: 'The great challenge of the 1970s and 1980s was economic revival. The great challenge in this decade and the next is social revival.' In another speech, he argued: 'We used to stand for the individual. We still do. But individual freedoms count for little if society is disintegrating. Now we stand for the family, for the neighborhood — in a word, for society.'"

And further, "They want voters to think of the Tories as the party of society while Labor is the party of the state. They want the country to see the Tories as the party of decentralized organic networks and the Laborites as the party of top-down mechanistic control.

"As such, the Conservative Party has spent a lot of time thinking about how government should connect with citizens. Basically, everything should be smaller, decentralized and interactive. They want a greater variety of schools, with local and parental control. They want to reverse the trend toward big central hospitals. Health care, Cameron says, is as much about regular long-term care as major surgery, and patients should have the power to construct relationships with caretakers, pharmacists and local facilities."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What is eaten around the world

This is a sampling of the family size & diet of some countries around the world, and the availability & cost of what is eaten in one week. (Of course there is great variation of food & value between countries)

Italy : The Manzo family of Sicily Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Germany : The Melander family of Bargteheide╴Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina Food expenditure for one week $341.98

Mexico╴: The Casales family of Cuernavaca Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Poland╴: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt : The Ahmed family of Cairo ╴Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador : The Ayme family of Tingo Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan : The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad : The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp╴Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23