Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Riverbend's blog

I try to keep up with this blog, as Riverbend is so eloquent, and has been writing since the Iraq war began. She is Iraqi and recently left Iraq for Syria. Her latest post on being a refugee is quite interesting, and a bit sad. If you have the time, take a look at her blog.
Baghdad Burning blog

An excerpt:
The first weeks here were something of a cultural shock. It has taken me these last three months to work away certain habits I’d acquired in Iraq after the war. It’s funny how you learn to act a certain way and don’t even know you’re doing strange things- like avoiding people’s eyes in the street or crazily murmuring prayers to yourself when stuck in traffic. It took me at least three weeks to teach myself to walk properly again- with head lifted, not constantly looking behind me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

They speak English in London?

I read about a football player last nigth that did not know they spoke English in London. So this morning, while serving pancakes to 3 thirteen year old boys (grandson and friends), I asked them if they knew what language was spoken in England. Three blank faces stared at me, then they began to guess, Chinese? dunno, English?

The story to which I am referring:

NFL Star: They Speak English In London?

By Sky News SkyNews - Friday, October 26 10:56 am
Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder has admitted not knowing people speak English in London.

The NFL player might want to check a map before he gets on board a plane for Sunday's prestige game against the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium.

Crowder, who comes from Atlanta in Georgia, may be praised on the field, but confessed geography was not his strong point.

He admitted he did not know until now where London was - or that Londoners spoke English.

"I couldn't find London on a map if they didn't have the names of the countries," he said.

"I swear to God. I don't know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I learned that."

Crowder added: "I know (Washington Redskins linebacker) London Fletcher. We did a football camp together. So I know him.

"That's the closest thing I know to London. He's black, so I'm sure he's not from London. I'm sure that's a coincidental name."

The Miami Dolphins are play the New York Giants at Wembley this Sunday in the first NFL regular-season game to be played outside the United States.

Add to that level of ignorance, Texas' new idea of teaching "deep thinking" skills. What the heck is deep thinking? Would that be critical thinking skills? These were skills that used to be taught nation-wide, and young people did not enter college needing remedial classes, like they do now. At any rate, as our children's education level sinks to the bottom of the barrel, we lose out in global competition, and our nation will suffer. Oh, wait, rich kids, who attend private schools will do just fine. One day, perhaps, the rich will just lock up in their gated communities and direct the uneducated masses in their daily thankless jobs so that the rich stay rich and the middle class disappears into oblivion.


Texas may demand deeper thinking in its public schools
by Melissa Ludwig, Express-News Staff Writer

Writing research papers with citations, explaining plate tectonics and probing why historians have competing versions of the past.

Such high level skills could become part of the statewide K-12 public school curriculum if state education officials adopt a draft of college readiness standards released Thursday by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The tougher standards spring from a state mandate to stem the tide of unprepared students heading to college, where they drag down the level of teaching or wind up in remedial courses that cost students money but earn them no college credit.

If adopted, the new standards could be woven into the public school curriculum within a couple of years. No one is sure exactly how and when that will happen. The proposed standards will be subject to public comment and a full vote of the Coordinating Board, and then must win the approval of Commissioner of Education Robert Scott and the State Board of Education. The draft is likely to be revised along the way.

"This is one of the most important things we will do in the next 10 to 20 years," Scott said. "If we do this right, we can have a tremendous impact. It will touch on every single classroom and child in the state of Texas."

The new standards call for deep thinking and reasoning — elements that teachers, professors, employers and parents have long complained are missing from the public school curriculum, called the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skillsor TEKS. The test students must pass to graduate is mostly multiple-choice and demands nothing but rote memorization, many teachers complain.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Foodie weekend at our house, let's make chicken curry

  • 2 each small onions; chopped

  • 4 tablespoon butter or margarine; melted

  • 1 tsp Salt

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp ground allspice

  • 1 tsp curry powder

  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, or less

  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 2 each lime juice (fresh)

  • 3 cups cooked chicken; diced

  1. Saute onion in butter 1 min; add salt and spices, cook 2 mins, stir in

  2. broth and lime juice.

  3. Add chicken and heat through.

  4. Serve over fragrant basmati rice.

  5. To make ahead:

  6. Make sauce and cool. Put chicken in zip top bag, add sauce.

  7. Refrigerate up to 24 hrs.

  8. To serve: coook over medium heat until heated through, stirring

  9. occasionally.

  10. Fastest if you cut up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

  11. Serve with Major Grey's chutney.

Really Quick Chicken Curry @ Group Recipes

Woman Arrested for Yelling at Toilet

Woman Arrested for Yelling at Toilet (Associated Press)
Talk about a potty mouth. A Scranton woman who allegedly shouted profanities at her overflowing toilet within earshot of a neighbor was cited for disorderly conduct, authorities said.

Dawn Herb could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. "It doesn't make any sense. I was in my house. It's not like I was outside or drunk," Herb told The Times-Tribune of Scranton.

"The toilet was overflowing and leaking down into the kitchen and I was yelling (for my daughter) to get the mop." Herb doesn't recall exactly what she said, but she admitted letting more than a few choice words fly near an open bathroom window Thursday night.

Her next-door neighbor, a city police officer who was off-duty at the time, asked her to keep it down, police said. When she continued, the officer called police.
Mary Catherine Roper, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Philadelphia, took issue with the citation.

"You can't prosecute somebody for swearing at a cop or a toilet," she said.

Just as in Orwell's 1984, neighbors turn in neigbors, children turn in parents.....
Welcome to our brave new America, soviet style.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Again, I say, WAKE UP and take notice

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Naomi Wolf
Tuesday April 24, 2007

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.
They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.


California Fires

Well, Bush and Co. have their new crisis that will help them pass another drastic change that will go unnoticed while California burns off the map. Uncle Milty must be smiling.

You can just see how this is going to go. People will have lost everything, insurance companies won't pay up, and valuable land will be bought up by developers and the middle class folks will be disenfranchised in the end.

We are just keeping track of family in San Diego, who are doing fine at present, but can't open windows, etc due to the smoke.

It will be fascinating to watch how this all plays out in Bush's fascist America.

Some examples from Naomi Klein's web site Shockdoctrine.com

Investing in Disaster Capitalism
October 16, 2007
"Hot tip: Invest in 'Disaster Capitalism.' This new investment sector is the core of the emerging 'new economy' that generates profits by feeding off other peoples' misery: Wars, terror attacks, natural catastrophes, poverty, trade sanctions, market crashes and all kinds of economic, financial and political disasters."
- Paul B. Farrell, Dow Jones Business News

Pay To Be Saved: The Future of Disaster Response
By Naomi Klein - August 29th, 2006
The Red Cross has just announced a new disaster-response partnership with Wal-Mart. When the next hurricane hits, it will be a co-production of Big Aid and Big Box.

This, apparently, is the lesson learned from the government’s calamitous response to Hurricane Katrina: Businesses do disaster better.

“It’s all going to be private enterprise before it’s over,” Billy Wagner, emergency management chief for the Florida Keys, currently under hurricane watch for Tropical Storm Ernesto, said in April. “They’ve got the expertise. They’ve got the resources.”

But before this new consensus goes any further, perhaps it’s time to take a look at where the privatization of disaster began, and where it will inevitably lead.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just who deserves SCHIP and national healthcare? Tell me now.

As a co-worker told me, it's all my fault that I am bitching and moaning about my $1000 deductible and 80/20 co-pay. I should have saved more money to cover the carpal tunnel surgery I must have as a result of being glued to a keyboard working on deadlines for the past 14 years. After all, he said, national health care is a communist plot and this is America and nothing here is free, nor should it be. If I don’t like it I should leave.

It's all my fault that I did not save enough to anticipate my daughter's divorce from her alcoholic and abusive husband, and the fact that in the past 1 ½ years all my children and their children came home to my house to lick their wounds. One came home to survive job loss. So what, we fed a family of 14 on a salary that once only fed and housed 4, that should be easy, right?

Then, it's all my fault because I could not afford a $1300 water softener, that would have prevented my water heater (in hard water Texas) from burning out and corroding the heating element in place so that instead of replacing the heating element, we had to replace the whole water heater last week.

It's all my fault that it cost $260 for a plumber to install my new $244 Home Depot water heater. (Other local plumbers wanted to charge $800 to put in the cheap a** water heater we bought). Thankfully, we shopped around and went with cold showers). And in the same week, it's my fault that the timing belt on my car (with 167,000 miles on it) broke 3 days after the water heater went out and cost $762 to repair. After all, I should not be driving such an old car. And so, of course, it's my fault that my mortgage payment is now late this month and I'll have to pay a late charge because again, I did not save enough. Before Bush, I did save enough, but we have slowly but surely eaten through our savings with medical bills.

It's my fault, I should have saved more and done more with less. It's my fault that I can't stretch 1 lb of ground meat to feed 14 people in a fashion better than casseroles. It's my fault that milk is $4 a gallon. God forbid I should want those expensive fresh vegetables on my salary. Instead, let’s buy Big Pharma vitamins.

Again, it's my fault, I should have gotten bigger raises and saved more while I took care of your mother, father, brother, sister, child, and wiped their behinds, gave them pain medicine, cared for them and listened and empathized, taking pride in my skills as an under-appreciated and over-worked nurse.

It's my fault because I should have been an MD or a pharmacy representative, and then I would have made enough money to care for my family, and have time to stay home and take care of my 91 year old mother. Instead, taking care of Mom was a family group effort. Why? Because we did not save enough money to hire someone to sit with her, we did that ourselves, with missed work hours and missed wages. Oh, but that's my fault too.

Until Americans understand that it is a moral imperative that we make health care a non-profit service, and a right for all citizens, all of us will be making choices that cause us to lose wages, job opportunities and the like so that we can care for ill family members by ourselves.

I want to see you anti-national health care people and anti-SCHIP people line folks up on national television and show me, point them out in front of God and everybody, which of these people does not deserve health care? Then explain, without waffling and beating around the bush, exactly why this or that person that you have lined up in front of you, does not deserve health care. It’s their fault because why?

Instead of swift-boating families behind their backs, why not do it in person? Surely that is ever so much more effective. I dare you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NSA Spying: What Did Pelosi Know?

NSA Spying: What Did Pelosi Know?
By Ray McGovern October 15, 2007
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has admitted knowing for several years about the Bush
administration’s eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. She said
she was briefed on it when she was ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence
Committee. But was she told that the illegal surveillance began well before
Referring to her briefing in an apologia-sans-apology Washington Post
op-ed on Jan. 15, 2006, she wrote: “This is how I came to be informed of
President Bush’s authorization for the NSA to conduct certain types of
Demonstrating her unconstitutionally subservient attitude
toward the Executive Branch, Pelosi wrote:
“But when the administration
notifies Congress in this manner, it is not seeking approval. There is a clear
expectation that the information will be shared by no one, including other
members of the intelligence committees. As a result, only a few members of
Congress were aware of the president’s surveillance program, and they were
constrained from discussing it more widely.”
How did the American people
react upon learning in December 2005 of this glaring infringement on their
Constitutional rights. Most reacted as they have been conditioned to act—out of
the old fear-factor shibboleth: “After 9/11/2001, everything changed.”
just as after 2/27/1933, the night of the burning of the German Parliament
(Reichstag) in Berlin, everything changed.
As a German attorney there at the
time put it:
“What one can blame them [German politicians and populace] for,
and what shows their terrible collective weakness of character, is that this
settled the matter. With sheepish submissiveness the German people accepted
that, as a result of the fire, each one of them lost what little personal
freedom and dignity was guaranteed by the Constitution; as though it followed as
a necessary consequence. If the Communists burned down the Reichstag, it was
perfectly in order that the government took ‘decisive measures.’” [Defying
Hitler, A Memoir, by Sebastian Haffner, p. 121]
And if the terrorists
attacked on 9/11, it was perfectly in order that the Bush administration took
“decisive measures”—Patriot Act and illegal measures. In reaction to the PR
offensive to manipulate and exploit the trauma we all felt from 9/11, far too
many of our politicians and fellow citizens exhibited sheepish submissiveness.


IMHO: We always wondered why the Germans did nothing about Hitler, know we know.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A USAF Basic Training graduation

Our great nephew graduated from USAF basic training this weekend! We are so proud of him.
Here is a photo of our young man and his Mom and sister.

After 7 weeks of no junk food, Matt had a few bites of candy, ice cream sandwiches and assorted other junk food items. Then he and his bunk-mate Luke, whose parents could not come to his graduation came with us to Mi Tierra where they stuffed themselves some more! They were like eating machines, and a good time was had by all.

A picture of formation after the Airman's run on Thursday.

Americans Don't Believe in the American Dream

Americans Don't Believe in the American Dream
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted October 12, 2007

The American Dream is Dead, gone along with the era of good union jobs, comprehensive employer benefits and real upward mobility, and most working people are fully aware of the fact.

That's the takeaway from the latest installment of the American Dream Survey, a study of working Americans' views of the political-economy released in late September.

It paints a picture of an increasingly frustrated working majority who are having a harder time raising their families than the generation before them did, and who believe that things will be even worse for their kids. They have reason to believe it -- a 30-year assault on organized labor, neglected minimum wage increases, fewer educational opportunities and the constant tide of pro-business propaganda being pumped out by right-wing think tanks and business roundtables that enforces the idea that working people are faceless "inputs" -- costs that need to be controlled -- have left Americans with far less social mobility than they had a generation ago. Contrary to common belief, Americans have less opportunity to move up the economic ladder than Canadians and Western Europeans (except for those in the UK).

for more: Americans Don't Believe in the American Dream
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted October 12, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Huffington Post comment I had to share

jungpatawan (See profile | I'm a fan of jungpatawan)
And as Jesus sat by the well, the townspeople came forth to him, and they were much wroth.

And with the townspeople there came also a woman, dragged there in the dust by the people.

"People, what do you want," Jesus asked them.

"Lord," the people said unto him, "This woman is evil and reviled by us all, and we wish to stone her, according to the law."

And with the people also were the chief priests and pharisees, to see how Jesus would make reply and take down evidence against him.

So Jesus spake unto them, "Amen, I say to you. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

And amongst the chief priests and pharisees there was much gnashing of teeth, for Jesus had given a wise answer.

And amongst the townspeople there was much scratching of heads and awkard shuffling of sandals in the dust, for yea, verily, the woman was evil.

And then spaketh up a young man, who though beardless was yet accounted by all to also be wise.

"But, Jesus, this is Michelle Malkin."

And the Lord spake unto them, saying...

"Give me a fucking rock."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Who Killed Healthcare?

We turn over $2.2 trillion of our money each year to those who manage our healthcare, without holding them accountable for efficiency or quality. Not surprisingly, these folks -- hospitals, insurers, governments -- they use the money to benefit themselves. Jack Morgan, the insured, middle-class protagonist in Who Killed Health Care?[1] was killed by this system.

Insurers, hospitals, and governments have gotten fat on our bloated healthcare costs, which kill the competitiveness of US firms. More than 40 million Americans are uninsured, mostly because they cannot afford it, while 300,000 people die every few years from medical errors.[2] Arrogant insurance bureaucrats deny people the services they paid for, while many insured find their coverage inadequate for serious illnesses. The uninsured -- they are charged the highest prices by our allegedly nonprofit, ostensibly "charitable" hospitals and are all too often driven to bankruptcy.[3-5]

Meanwhile, many doctors leave the profession because of insurer, hospital, and government micromanagement of their activities. Physicians enrolled in my MBA courses at the Harvard Business School tell me, "I can no longer practice medicine." The grip of the powerful status quo also scares off those entrepreneurs who represent the best hope of transforming healthcare.

Only 1 stakeholder can fix this -- you and me. We must take back our money so we can decide how to spend it. We should be buying health insurance for ourselves, using the foregone salaries and massive taxes we once turned over to the self-serving healthcare industry crew. Switzerland's consumer-driven healthcare system points the way: With their excellent, private healthcare system, the Swiss have universal coverage and spend 40% less.[6]

We are at war for control of an annual $2.2 trillion -- an amount equal in size to China's whole economy. If we do not win it, our health and economy will go down in flames. My new book Who Killed Health Care?[1] details the consumer-driven battle plan that can revive our doctors, our economy, and our good health.

That's my opinion. I'm Professor Regina Herzlinger of the Harvard Business School.


Now that I have read this on Medscape, I am ready to look into Swiss healthcare to see what I can learn. Also, consider emailing this information to your representatives and whoever you are currently supporting in the Democratic campaign. We need to get more of a dialog going.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Who's Your Daddy Nation

Where are we going as a nation? Phil Rockstroh has a very incisive point of view. Read on:

"We must become the change we want to see."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

The authoritarianism inherent to the structure of multi-conglomerate corporatism is antithetical to the concept of the rights and liberties of the individual. Most individuals -- bound by a corporation's secrecy-prone, hierarchical values -- will, over time, lose the ability to display free thinking, engage in civic discourse, and even be able to envisage the notion of freedom.

This is true, from the florescent light-flooded aisles of Wal*Mart to the insular executive offices of Halliburton to the sound stages of CNN and Fox News.

Under the prevailing order, reality, for the laboring class of the corporate state, has become debt slavery; in contrast, the simulacrum of reality, in which, the striver class exists, is a milieu defined by obsessive careerism.

Under the hegemony of corporatism, freedom might as well be fairy dust. It only exists in an imaginary land, not the places one arrives by way of one's morning and evening commute.

In addition, economically, by way of decades of financial chicanery, perpetrated by the nation's business and political elite, we are eating our seed crop, and the consequences of this harvest of deceit have left the people of the U.S., intellectually and spiritually malnourished.

As a result, many attempt to sate the keening emptiness and mitigate the chronic unease by gorging themselves on the Junk Food Jesus of End Time mythology, which is a belief system wherein corporeal events and actions (personal and collective) have no lasting consequence because even the human body is to be cast aside, like a junk food wrapper, when the cosmic CEO decides to make the earth a part of his heavenly franchise.

Accordingly, the corporate state requires modes of being that evince obliviousness and obedience (the defining traits of the US consumer) on the part of the majority of the populace. Ergo, the rise of both Christian consumerists and the vast apparatus of the right-wing propaganda matrix that dominates news cycles via the electronic mass media.

full article can be found here: http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/100207b.html#When:12:35PM