Thursday, December 21, 2006

Beyond Google

I started using Google exclusively just before it became hugely popular I think. Anyway I thought it would be well to become familiar with one search engine and then move on to others. Well I rarely moved on.

But tonight the Librarian's Internet Index lead me to Online Education Database. From OEDb I learned that there is an Invisible or Deep Web. It was like pulling a loose thread on a sweater when this University of California Berkeley Library site displayed a search tutorial. It was like hitting a jackpot. Just look at the Table of Contents or the Handouts.

Thanks UC Berkely you have done one first class job.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Santa or Saint Nicholas

Well it's that time of year that much will be said about Santa. So many of my gifts that I received as a little boy came from "Santa Claus". However there are many people hold Saint Nicholas in reverence. At the Saint Nicholas Center one can learn the history of this Saint, send e-cards, view art works of the Saint, learn how other countries celebrate the Saint and much more.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Soldiers Commentary

As we are approaching Veterans Day Novemer11,2006, this commentary from World War 1 seems to be one that could be written today.

The following was written by a British Army officer.

Siegfried L. Sassoon...July 1917

"I AM making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defense and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.,

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Progressive Commentators

Some time ago, perhaps earlier in the year the New York Times started charging about $8 a month to read some of my favorite Progressive Commentators. Specifically they are Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert, Frank Rich and others. Yesterday a friend let me know where I can read these political writers on line without paying a fee. The site is However you can go to The Progressive American page and select the writer of your choice. Truthout use to post Paul Krugman's columns right after the NYtimes started charging but they stopped that practice within a week or two.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sustainable Consumption

Sounds good to me. But what is it? Sierra Club says: Sustainable consumption is the use of goods and services that satisfy basic needs and improve quality of life while minimizing the use of irreplaceable natural resources and the byproducts of toxic materials, waste, and pollution.

One way they suggest is to buy from your local farm market. They are in full swing now. Here is where you can find your local market. Many of them are in the open air but under cover. Last wednesday I visited the Ann Arbor market. Being mid week, many of the the young mother's were pushing their stroller with some of the world's cutiest babies. And not one of them was crying!!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Seven Blunders of the World

When looking at the world it may be well to evaluate what is seen by appling Mahatma Gandi's "Seven Blunders of the World".

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Poet Sings an Old Poem with a Meaning for Today

It's getting late. Writing a response to a pleasant surprise email and listening to the CD "Leonard Cohen:More Best of". The haunting voice sings "Everybody Knows". Oh how the first stanza penatrates the air across our country.

"Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died"

Oh how it hurts to hear "Everbody knows the boat is leaking. Everybody knows that the captain lied."

Thank you Leonard Cohen. Keep singing. We need you more than ever.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Who Will Retire in the Future?

Frontline had another revealing program tonight. They concluded that many of the baby bomers may not be able to retire or if they do then Social Security may be their only source of income.

Much of the program examined the strengths and weaknesses of the 401 (k) plans. Anyone who has a 401 (k) or equivalent plan would be well to read the frequently asked questions that PBS have on their web site. Some of the important questions are what are the advantages of 401 (k) for employees, for Companies and what are the pitfalls for employees.

The program also pointed out that those with these plans need to self manage them rather than let them take care of themselves. That is good advice. Why do I say that? Well for the most part I didn't manage mine well enough.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

100 Years and Beyond??

Recently a friend called to tell me that a mutual friend passed away. As we were consoling each other she said to me, “Bob, if you live as long [about 86] as I you will slowly see your friends pass away”. She went on to say that it wasn't fun. She related that each week she would visit her friends in their assisted living homes and the pain of seeing them loose more and more of their health and memory. I told her, “You are my role model for loyalty to friends!!” She is an upbeat person with a great sense of humor and likes to laugh.

Our friend spent the last 1 ½ years in an assisted living home due to dementia. But that didn’t get in the way of the many visits that were always filled with laughter over current times and the past.

After the phone call I got to thinking of my aging. I remember signing the retirement documents in 1994. One of them stated that my longevity was estimated to be 74. Just recently my financial advisor sent me my investment plan for updating. It estimated my longevity to be 94!! Well isn’t that something.

How does one live a long life? Of course there is no guarantee in any of those estimates.

This morning I was reading a Harvard Health Publication about how there are projections for an increase in people living 100 and beyond. In the report there were some practical suggestions for living. To be sure, these suggestions are beneficial for people of all ages.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Iraq Oil

Why does Iraq have such a problem with forming a new government? Well if I could answer that question in full detail than I probably wouldn't be blogging. But I found a very succinct paragraph that gives some insight into the question.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Moses and the 10 Commandments Reintroduced

World War II was raging in Europe and the Pacific while I was sitting in my Sunday School class at Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church on Twenty Eighth Street, Detroit Michigan. It was in the early 1940’s. I found myself looking at my lesson on the Ten Commandments. The lesson was printed on a 5” by 7” two page folder. There was a colored drawing of Moses standing on a rugged, jagged rock. His long beard was flowing in the wind. His extended arms held a flat rock. It was a tablet with two arches on the top and straight sides and bottom. On one side were three Roman Numerals I II and III. On the other side was IV through X.

My teacher said they were the Ten Commandments and Moses got them from God on the mount. I think that was the first time I heard the word mount for mountain. But anyway, I was told that I had to keep these commandments. They were to be obeyed. And most important, everyone had to keep them too because they came from God.

Fast forward to current times, while reading “Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America” by Chris Hedges I found what these sacred commandments do for everyone when followed and not routinely ignored.

Hedges was a foreign correspondent that covered several wars for nearly two decades. In the prologue of “Losing Moses on the Freeway” he points out the benefits of the Commandments when they are kept and what evil results when they are ignored and cast aside.

Hedges said: The commandments guide us toward relationships built on trust rather than fear. Only through trust can there be love. Those who ignore the commandments diminish the possibility of love, the single force that keeps us connected, whole and saved from physical and psychological torment. A life where the commandments are routinely dishonored becomes a life of solitude, guilt, anger and remorse. The wars I covered from Central America to Yugoslavia were places where the sanctity and respect for human life, that which the commandments protect, were ignored. Bosnia, with its rape camps, genocide, looting, razing of villages, its heady intoxication with violence, power and death, illustrated, like all wars, what happens when societies thrust the commandments aside.

The commandments do not protect us from evil. They protect us from committing evil. The commandments are designed to check our darker impulses , warning us that pandering to impulses can have terrible consequences. “ If you would enter life,” the Gospel of Matthew reads, “keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). The commandments hold community together. It is community that gives our lives, even in pain and grief, a healing solidarity. It is fealty to community that frees us from the dictates of our idol, idols that promise us fulfillment through the destructive impulses of constant self-gratification. The commandments call us to reject and defy powerful forces that can rule our lives and to live instead for others, even if this costs us status and prestige and wealth. The commandments show us how to avoid being enslaved, how to save us from ourselves. They lead us to love, the essence of life.

Thank you, Chris Hedges for reintroducing me to the 10 Commandments.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tax War

After reading Seymour M. Hersh’s essay “The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?” in the New Yorker magazine, April 17, 2006, I became somewhat depressed. In the piece he reports that there is a debate between the pentagon and the white house as to whether we should use a nuclear bomb in Iran to stop them from getting the Bomb. Well my initial response was ‘That’s ridiculous!’, ‘That’s ludicrous!’. Then I concluded that it was just plain crazy to use a nuclear bomb to stop someone from making one.

Then I asked why were so many insiders talking to Hersh? Perhaps it was not just to inform Americans as to what is being planned but to let the Iranians’ hear some of the speculation too.

Hersh’s column was a bit too much for me to handle. So I but some thought into a way to slow our president and congress from hyping another war. So here’s my idea.

Tax war. Let’s start by imposing a tax on the cost of the Iraq war which is over $274 billion. That turns out to be $1099 [click 'Entire U.S. 'box on the right then select 'per person']for each person in America. Congress would direct the IRS to require every tax return to include a separate section for the Iraq War Surcharge. The surcharge would total $1099 times the total number of persons in the household. A separate check would have to be submitted for the surcharge.

Currently we went to war on borrowed money and as the war continues we will borrow more money. Some day we and my grandchildren will be taxed for this war. But maybe if we have to pay the bill now for this war, just maybe, the American voters will not be so quick to support another war.

Well I can dream can’t I? It sure beats dwelling on Hersh’s “The Iran Plans”.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chocolate Orange Torte

Last night I attended a Passover dinner. I was asked to bake the Chocolate Torte the one I made last year. Well sometimes I can't remember what I had for breakfast let alone what I baked last spring for Passover. I got out one of my favorite cookbooks, "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking" by Marcy Goldman and looked in the Passover Feast of Freedom, the Exodus chapter and there it was the chocolate Orange Torte recipe. It follows this post. By the way I find worshiping at a dinner most rewarding. The traditional foods of course were served and the liturgy provided their meaning. Also the other guests brought dishes that were most delicious and flavorful. To be sure all of them met the ingredient requirements for this Feast of Freedom.

Chocolate Orange Torte

¾ lb. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine (not whipped style)
¾ C sugar
1 C orange juice
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 lg. eggs

Raspberry or Strawberry Sauce (optional)
1 (10 oz.) package frozen raspberries or strawberries, defrosted
1 -2 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line the bottom of a 9- inch springform pan with parchment paper.
2. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, or using a double boiler, melt the butter or margarine, sugar and orange juice, stirring to blend.
3. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring to melt.
4. Cool very well, then whisk in the eggs until thoroughly incorporated.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The cake is done when the top has a slight crust and seems set. If the cake rises too fast (that is, if the top is forming a crust yet the center seems uncooked), reduce the heat to 325˚ and let the cake more slowly.
6. Cool to firm up the cake while still in the pan. Then place in the refrigerator for several hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.
7. For the berry sauce, combine the berries with sugar in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add more sugar for a sweeter sauce. Before serving, dust the cake with unsweetened cocoa powder.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Gordon Parks A Treasure for Humanity

A couple of years ago I saw an exhibition at the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts) featuring black and white photographs by Gordon Parks. It showed that he was an artist of the first order. He passed away recently but with much gratitude his art remains. At Legends Online there is a quote that made me reflect on how people choose to live their lives so differently. Some choose to enrich life and others choose to destroy it. Legends Online quotes Gordon Parks:

"Those people who want to use a camera should have something in mind, there's something they want to show, something they want to say...," Parks explains. "I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty. I could have just as easily picked up a knife or a gun, like many of my childhood friends did... most of whom were murdered or put in prison... but I chose not to go that way. I felt that I could somehow subdue these evils by doing something beautiful that people recognize me by, and thus make a whole different life for myself, which has proved to be so."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Poetry From The UK

I'm always looking for something, a book, website or a magazine about poetry. Here is a website from the UK that provides you with poets reading their work. At this site there is something for poets, teachers, students and people like me who want tips on how to read and understand poetry.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Elect U.S. President by Popular Vote!!

To get rid of the Electoral College would require a Constitutional Ammendment. That is not likely to happen in my life time or yours. But there is a way to elect our President by popular vote. How? By changing a law in enough states to in effect require electors to split there votes. Right now we have a 'winner take all' method. For the details of this new way read Hendrik Hertzberg's column "Comment:Count'em", in the March 6, 2006 issue of "The New Yorker".

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Love Sweet Love

How would you like to read something about two lovers? First read Josh's Feb. 20th posts 'found in the stacks' and then 'eight'and then read Zena's Feb. 19th post 'kids spell love t-i-m-e'. Those two are still in love! Isn't that grand? And it's not even spring. Who needs spring when we have these two telling us about love on their blogs? Love Sweet love.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Maria

I hope you have a very joyous day dear daughter. And of course I wish you happiness throughout the year. I remember when you were born and how you brought joy to your family.

It's your special day. I love you.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Love and Flexibility

W. Somerset Maugham makes a very good point when he said:

"We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person."

Felxibitity is perhaps the most underated trait that is essential to staying in love. Could it be that far to many relationships fad away because one or both lack this essential trait?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Chinese Artist Link

The Chinese Sculpture link takes some time to open up. But be patient. Trust me it's worth the wait. It was suggested today that the next big snow we have in SE Michigan she should make a snow sculpture. Now wouldn't that be a treat to brighten a winter day!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Happy Birthday Cousin

Don Stone I hope you have an enjoyable day today February 1st. Wow 71.

Its been said that a birthday is the start of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the ride!!

No matter how hard I try to catch up you're always 7 days older.

Happy birthday my older cousin.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Chinese Artist in Michigan

Today was my first day tutoring in an English Second Language (ESL) class for this new semester. I met some very good students from India, Japan, Korea and China. Naigang,the Chinese student is an artist. Her work is varied and creative. It's too bad that I didn't know her before my visit to Beijing last May. I certainly would have made a point to see her work.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Understanding Two Dreams

Rick Steves' writes about two dreams one American and the other European in his:"A United Europe in the 21st Century: Eclipsing the American Dream?"

There is more to the American dream than what he states. However what Steves gives is adequated for the discussion.

For Americans who want to understand the differences between us and the Europeans would be well served in reading this essay.

Over the years I've tutored Europeans in an English Second Language (ESL) class. After reading this piece I was left with the thought that my students could have written the definiton that Steves gives for the European Dream.