Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In case you missed it

“If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

"I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

"The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

"Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.”

-- John Kerry

Saturday, October 28, 2006

In lieu of visiting my eldest granddaughter on her 10th birthday, I direct your attention to this thoughtful Op-Ed piece from thetyee.ca on the state of children's movies, occasioned by the writer attending "Open Season" with her son.

"The exhaustion of the animated genre is clearly evident, but even more troubling, is the fundamental lack of respect for children's intelligence. If they were any good at organizing, perhaps modern kids might take to the streets, protesting this lack of suitable content. Because it truly feels like a desert out there. Kids want to go to the theatre to see movies, the same as anyone else, but there is so little you can actually bear to take them to."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Science -- and copy editing -- march on

Secrets of the honey bee revealed in genome code
Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:07 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have unraveled the genetic code of the honey bee, uncovering clues about its complex social behavior, heightened sense of smell and African origins.

It is the third insect to have its genome mapped and joins the fruit fly and mosquito in the exclusive club.

The honey bee, or Apis mellifera, evolved more slowly than the other insects but has more genes related to smell.

"In biology and biomedicine, honey bees are used to study many diverse areas, including allergic disease, development, gerontology, neuroscience, social behavior and venom toxicology," said Gene Robinson, director of the University of Illinois Bee Research Facility and one of the leaders of the project.

"The honey bee genome project is ushering in a bright era of bee research for the benefit of agriculture, biological research and human health," he added.

With its highly evolved social structure of tens of thousands of worker bees commanded by Queen Elizabeth, the honey bee genome could also improve the search for genes linked to social behavior.

But the consortium of scientists, who reported the findings in the journal Nature, said a comprehensive analysis of the honey bee and other species will be needed to understand its social life.

Queen Elizabeth has 10 times the lifespan of workers and lays up to 2,000 eggs a day. Despite having tiny brains, honey bees display honed cognitive abilities and learn to associate a flower's color, shape and scent with food, which increases its foraging ability.

(Okay, the illustration was mine. The story, however, belongs to Reuters.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This week, Nellie Bly visits Budapest, where demonstrators found themselves competing for attention this week with memories of a true rebellion.

Meanwhile, in "Drawing Conclusions," Ben Sargent and Stuart Carlson take a look at the major parties and how they are handling election issues.


Comments, as always, welcome.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Everything new is new again

I drove up to Vermont yesterday to meet my granddaughter, Johanna Michelle. (Her other grandfather is named John.) Of course, I took lots of pictures, but this one of her with her mother was clearly the winner.

There are many things I find fascinating about this young woman, but here's the part that struck me most yesterday: When the kids first announced that she was on her way, I was thrilled for them, but expected that most of my own joy and surprise would come from watching of them become parents. As for myself, well, it was to be my fourth grandchild, and I'm getting pretty good at that.

However, as the pregnancy developed, I found myself totally caught up in the "first time" aspects. Younger Son and Wife have a very different approach to things than Older Son and Wife, which -- aside from the addition of wives -- is not different today than 30 years ago when Younger Son came on the scene.

I think most parents with more than one kid have had this experience: During the pregnancy, you tell yourself that you really have to make an effort not to hold the second child up to the standards of the first, but to let that young sibling develop as an individual. And then, when it happens, you realize that all your stern resolutions were pointless -- only The Great Santini could treat two different siblings as if they were the same child. Our two boys share some strong common bonds forged within the family, but they could not be more different as individuals.

Similarly, as the pregnancy progressed, the notion that Johanna was "Number Four" utterly disappeared. By the time she arrived, and really for quite a while before that, I was just as excited as when her eldest cousin Elizabeth was born a decade ago.

And yesterday, I was just as dumfounded in her presence.

I expect you to be, also.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This week, "Drawing Conclusions" looks at Korea's nuclear test but does NOT include a cartoon showing Kim Il-Jong's hair as a mushroom cloud. It wasn't easy to avoid those, but Robert Ariail and Kevin Siers turned in some nice work.

Meanwhile, Nellie takes a look at the Canadian role in Afghanistan, where the Canadians appear to be very much in harm's way.


Comments welcome.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The vast left-wing conspiracy

North Carolina Rep. Charles Taylor is demanding a retraction from a newspaper that published various assertions about him. If his rebuttal is accurate, he's got a pretty good point. But, the merits of his claim aside, this graf in Editor & Publisher's coverage caught my eye:

Bill Sabo, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, called Taylor's demand for a retraction a wise political move. Before Shuler's campaign and other Democrats can "pick this up and start hammering with it," Taylor is turning the table and responding as "a tough, aggressive, independent individual who is being picked on by the liberal media," Sabo said.

The liberal media again! Damn them!

And which liberal media outlet is Taylor threatening to sue? That com-symp rag, The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, editorial cartoonist Jim Borgman clarifies his own record as a liberal, with a blog entry that puts the lie to the conservative claim that those currently going after Congressman Mark Foley were soft on Clinton. (Never mind the difference between hitting on a 16 year old and hitting on a 24 year old, of course.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This week, Drawing Conclusions looks at the murder of a Russian reporter, and the suspicions that the Russian government was behind the death. Ann Telnaes and Jeff Danziger lend their talents.

Meanwhile, Nellie Bly visits Mongolia, where celebrations of the nation's 800th anniversary include an attempt to regulate commercial use of Genghis Khan's name and image.


Feedback, as always, is welcome.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Here's why I moved back East

I've nearly been back in the Northeast longer than I was away; I was at college for four years and in Colorado for 16, and I moved back here in 1987. There are things I miss about Colorado, especially in the muggy days of an East Coast summer or when the dark, cold days of winter refuse to let go.

But this time of year, oh, my, am I glad to be back.

I went up to Plattsburgh and snatched a canoe away from my eldest child a few weeks ago, and this morning I put it into the Hudson River at the spot where the dogs get their drinks during our twice-daily walk. I paddled up stream (being no fool) and, once I was past the bridge over the Interstate, it was quiet and tranquil. After about half a mile, the sound of traffic was just a swishing in the background and I could almost pretend I wasn't in the city.

Mostly, I wanted a quick excursion to see what it would take to get the canoe up and down off the top of the van, how the dogs would react to sitting in the car and seeing me leave by river, and what muscle groups I would rediscover throughout the process.

The dogs do not get to come along. For one thing, they hate water and would be freaked out by the canoe, which is very small to begin with. Also, their combined weight is about 215 pounds and neither one of them is willing to help paddle. The combination of them not wanting to come and me not wanting them to come either, seemed to work out well -- they sat in the van and waited peacefully.

The canoe is small, so that, when I first got in, it wobbled quite a bit, but since I was always taught to kneel in a canoe rather than sit, it was comfortably stable once I was in position. And kneeling also takes a lot of the strain off your paddling muscles, so that went well, too. The only real problem is that my feet and knees aren't quite as flexible as they were 45 years ago when I was learning all this stuff -- I don't know how the voyageurs managed things once they started getting le rheumatiz but I suppose once you load your canoe with all those supplies, the issue of stability kind of takes care of itself one way or the other, no matter how you sit, kneel or stand in it.

I went upstream about a mile and a half and, as I went around a curve, started encountering a headwind, so decided I'd experimented enough. I turned around and sat on the floor of the canoe with the paddle across the thwarts and just let the slow current take me back to the boat launch, sticking the blade in now and then to keep me pointed downstream. Two guys went by in a bass boat, keeping their distance and not going too fast, and a fellow pulled out of his dock, headed for the boat launch to put his boat away for the winter. They were the only other people I saw on the river. I heard some kids playing on the shore at one point, and somebody's dog was barking, but that was balanced by a squirrel chattering away in the woods and a small formation of geese who went honking over, following the river south.

I live about five miles from this spot, and a mile from work. Granted, I'd rather live right on the river and in the middle of nowhere, but they don't publish newspapers in the middle of nowhere. All things consider, I have very little to complain about.

And this time of year, I rarely do.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Too drunk for the hammock

A nice spot by ronniecat. This bear looks awfully young -- I wonder if anyone ID'ed him? We could have a scandal of underage bears being served in Colorado.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

This week, Drawing Conclusions looks at the aftermath of Rep. Mark Foley's resignation from Congress, through pens of Jeff Danziger and Bill Schorr.

Meanwhile, Nellie Bly offers students some thoughts about the recent rash of school shootings.

Comments are always welcome.