Sunday, February 14, 2010

And the Rest of the Story . . .

Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995

By Jonathan Petre
Last updated at 5:12 PM on 14th February 2010

  • Data for vital 'hockey stick graph' has gone missing
  • There has been no global warming since 1995
  • Warming periods have happened before - but NOT due to man-made changes
Professor Phil Jones

Data: Professor Phil Jones admitted his record keeping is 'not as good as it should be'

The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information.

Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers.

Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.

The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory.

Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.

And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.

The admissions will be seized on by sceptics as fresh evidence that there are serious flaws at the heart of the science of climate change and the orthodoxy that recent rises in temperature are largely man-made.

Professor Jones has been in the spotlight since he stepped down as director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit after the leaking of emails that sceptics claim show scientists were manipulating data.

The raw data, collected from hundreds of weather stations around the world and analysed by his unit, has been used for years to bolster efforts by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to press governments to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Following the leak of the emails, Professor Jones has been accused of ‘scientific fraud’ for allegedly deliberately suppressing information and refusing to share vital data with critics.

Discussing the interview, the BBC’s environmental analyst Roger Harrabin said he had spoken to colleagues of Professor Jones who had told him that his strengths included integrity and doggedness but not record-keeping and office tidying.

Mr Harrabin, who conducted the interview for the BBC’s website, said the professor had been collating tens of thousands of pieces of data from around the world to produce a coherent record of temperature change.

That material has been used to produce the ‘hockey stick graph’ which is relatively flat for centuries before rising steeply in recent decades.

According to Mr Harrabin, colleagues of Professor Jones said ‘his office is piled high with paper, fragments from over the years, tens of thousands of pieces of paper, and they suspect what happened was he took in the raw data to a central database and then let the pieces of paper go because he never realised that 20 years later he would be held to account over them’.

Asked by Mr Harrabin about these issues, Professor Jones admitted the lack of organisation in the system had contributed to his reluctance to share data with critics, which he regretted.

But he denied he had cheated over the data or unfairly influenced the scientific process, and said he still believed recent temperature rises were predominantly man-made.

Asked about whether he lost track of data, Professor Jones said: ‘There is some truth in that. We do have a trail of where the weather stations have come from but it’s probably not as good as it should be.

‘There’s a continual updating of the dataset. Keeping track of everything is difficult. Some countries will do lots of checking on their data then issue improved data, so it can be very difficult. We have improved but we have to improve more.’

He also agreed that there had been two periods which experienced similar warming, from 1910 to 1940 and from 1975 to 1998, but said these could be explained by natural phenomena whereas more recent warming could not.

He further admitted that in the last 15 years there had been no ‘statistically significant’ warming, although he argued this was a blip rather than the long-term trend.

And he said that the debate over whether the world could have been even warmer than now during the medieval period, when there is evidence of high temperatures in northern countries, was far from settled.

Sceptics believe there is strong evidence that the world was warmer between about 800 and 1300 AD than now because of evidence of high temperatures in northern countries.

But climate change advocates have dismissed this as false or only applying to the northern part of the world.

Professor Jones departed from this consensus when he said: ‘There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia.

‘For it to be global in extent, the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

‘Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today, then obviously the late 20th Century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm than today, then the current warmth would be unprecedented.’

Sceptics said this was the first time a senior scientist working with the IPCC had admitted to the possibility that the Medieval Warming Period could have been global, and therefore the world could have been hotter then than now.

Professor Jones criticised those who complained he had not shared his data with them, saying they could always collate their own from publicly available material in the US. And he said the climate had not cooled ‘until recently – and then barely at all. The trend is a warming trend’.

Mr Harrabin told Radio 4’s Today programme that, despite the controversies, there still appeared to be no fundamental flaws in the majority scientific view that climate change was largely man-made.

But Dr Benny Pieser, director of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, said Professor Jones’s ‘excuses’ for his failure to share data were hollow as he had shared it with colleagues and ‘mates’.

He said that until all the data was released, sceptics could not test it to see if it supported the conclusions claimed by climate change advocates.

He added that the professor’s concessions over medieval warming were ‘significant’ because they were his first public admission that the science was not settled.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Und Sie dachten, dass Sozialismus… tot war. HA!

Glücklich als Made im Speck, dass dieses schließlich zur vordersten Reihe kommt!

This just in from the folks at Big Hollywood. Thought I'd pass it along as the discussion continues . . .

Kids to Meet Marx in School – Care of Hollywood and The History Channel
by Patrick Courrielche

Children are uniquely malleable beings, readily convinced of magically colorful tales – Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are the first that come to mind. This innocence is beautiful, but it is a quality that can easily fall victim to radically foreign ideas if taught consistently and pervasively at an early age. One need only look at the birth of fascism or socialism to see a recipe for how radical ideas become ubiquitous among a nation’s youth.

Enter Howard Zinn – an author, professor and American historian – who, with the help of Hollywood and the History Channel, intends to change the way our pre-K through high school children learn American history. His current curriculum suggestions, like introducing three-year-olds to the lynching of African-Americans, or quizzing seven-year-olds on which Presidents owned slaves, should be a red flag to parents.

people speak kids

Zinn has spent a lifetime teaching college students about the evils of capitalism, the promise of Marxism, and his version of American history – a history that has, in his view, been kept from students. His controversial 1980-book The People’s History of the United States paints traditional American history as a façade – one that has grotesquely immortalized flawed leaders and is based on principles that victimize the common man. In 2004, Zinn wrote a companion book entitled Voices Of A People’s History Of The United States, which includes speeches and writings from many of the people featured in The People’s History.

These two books have now become the basis for a new documentary, entitled The People Speak, to be aired December 13th at 8pm on the History Channel. The trailer portrays the documentary as a collage of compelling one-person readings, told through the words of “ordinary” people who have struggled throughout American history against oppression. Produced by Zinn, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Chris Moore, the documentary appears to be cloaked, ironically (given Zinn’s admitted socialist agenda), in many of the traditional ideas that were behind our founding. The verdict is still out on the doc, but it is not for the books that inspired the film as well as the educational initiative associated with it.

Perhaps due to their one-sided perspective of America’s past, Zinn’s history books have largely been limited to colleges and universities, until now. In the press release announcing the broadcast, HISTORY introduced a partnership with VOICES Of A People’s History Of The United States, a nonprofit led by Zinn that bares the same name as his companion book, to help get his special brand of history into classrooms.

Delving into Zinn’s nonprofit is where this story gets interesting, and the organization’s grade school educational ambitions concerning.

VOICES’ function is to provide live performances of readings from the book Voices of a People’s History as well as educational materials to schoolteachers. The nonprofit’s site provides teachers with resources, including a teaching guide that explains how to get students excited about Zinn’s history books. Their educational materials also includes the Zinn Education Project, a resource for teaching Zinn’s perspective of American history to – drum roll please – pre-Kindergarten through high school students! Included in the curriculum for pre-K students (that’s three and four year-olds) is “Rethinking Columbus,” which counters “the myth of Columbus.” In Zinn’s view, our pre-K children “need to hear from those whose lands and rights were taken away by those who ‘discovered’ them.”

Another teaching lesson for our three-year-old students is “One Country! One Language! One Flag!” that includes teaching ideas for “examining the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and the political milieu in which it was written.” The teaching plan suggests introducing our pre-K-ers to the lynching of African-Americans in the 1880s, and introducing the history of violence and discrimination against minority groups. It also proposes a discussion on an old “One Language!” chant allegedly used in classrooms up until 1942, and poses teachers with the question, “Why not lead kids in the original Pledge to the Flag, including the ‘One Language!’ chant and the Nazi-like salute, and then lead a discussion about the politics of the Pledge?”

This discussion is proposed for kids age three to seven?

Zinn also includes a youngster version of his influential book entitled A Young People’s History of the United States as an introduction to his untold American History. The publisher of the book

The background of the board of directors and advisers of VOICES’ can only be described as jaw dropping and begins to show a clear motive behind teaching this predominantly anti-American history at such a young age.

Made up of several notables including Zinn, Kerry Washington, and Marisa Tomei, all of whom make appearances in the documentary, the VOICES board also includes radicals who play a role in our public schools. Brian Jones, a New York teacher and actor, is a board member of VOICES and has also played the lead in Zinn’s play Marx in SoHo. You can see Jones speaking about Zinn and the play below, recorded for a performance in Greece, where he extols the benefits of this one man play as a tool to introduce people to Marx’s ideas:

Jones is also a regular contributor to Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and speaks regularly on the beneficial principles of Marxism, including this year at the 2009 Socialism Conference. He recently gave a speech on the failure of capitalism, proclaiming that “Marx is back.”

Sarah Knopp, a Los Angeles high school teacher, is also on Zinn’s Teacher Advisory Board. Like Jones, Knopp is also a regular contributor to International Socialist Review, Socialist Worker, is an active member in The International Socialist Organization, and was also a speaker at the 2009 Socialist Conference. Here is Knopp speaking about the benefits of socialism, how capitalism destroys lives, and how she advocates workers taking over their factories:

Is it becoming clearer why this group might want to teach children to think poorly of the American system?

Then there is Jesse Sharkey, a schoolteacher in Chicago. Sharkey is another of Zinn’s Teacher Advisory Board Members and, completely uncharacteristic of this group, is a contributor to… Socialist Worker.

This is the group that the History Channel is working with “to develop enhanced, co-branded curriculums for a countrywide educational initiative.” If readers choose to watch The People Speak, which we at BigHollywood encourage, keep in mind the context of the documentary’s creator and the pre-K to high school curriculum that the History Channel and VOICES could possibly create given the makeup of the board members.

I am not advocating that we spare our kids the harsh truths of American history, but I am suggesting, given Zinn’s far-left political affiliation, this project is designed to breakdown our vulnerable children’s views of American principles so that they can be built back up in a socialist vision.

Zinn’s one-man play Marx in SoHo provides an example of his attempt to reestablish the socialist ideology. The play, created in 1999, places Marx in New York after bargaining with the authorities of the after-life for a chance to come back to earth to clear his name. At the end of the cold war, Zinn felt that Marxism was unfairly discredited through being anchored to the fall of the Soviet Union. Through the play, Zinn wanted “the audience to see Marx defending his ideas against attack.” Those associated with the play have described it as an attempt to reestablish Marx’s philosophic and economic outlook – a philosophy that views capitalism as corrosive to the human condition. It doesn’t take a great leap to surmise that instilling in children a pessimistic view of the American experience could make his ideas more palatable.

Zinn’s socialist philosophy has definitely made its way into the documentary, including a speech by prominent socialist Eugene Debs. In his speech, which is a prose to the ills of the capitalist system, he speaks to a court that convicted him of sedition:

“I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man, who does absolutely nothing…to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”

The promotional videos can be viewed here:

It is not surprising to me that there are groups sympathetic to Marx’s ideas throughout our country. What is surprising is that the most powerful persuasion machine in the world (Hollywood) and the History Channel would provide Zinn such a prominent soapbox to stealthily build a case for a destructive ideology to our children, and as a result mainstream his ideas with the magic of cool music, graphics, and celebrity. Groups that push Marx’s philosophy are like a virtual organism that will not die off even when stung by the undeniable historical evidence showing human behavior makes such a system unsustainable. If we let this virtual organism into our grade schools, it will take decades for our kids to unlearn the ideology.

And if there are any doubts of the intentions of Howard Zinn’s movement, I provide a quote of his in closing. When a reporter asked Zinn, “In writing A People’s History, what were you calling for? A quiet revolution?” Zinn responded: “A quiet revolution is a good way of putting it. From the bottom up. Not a revolution in the classical sense of a seizure of power, but rather from people beginning to take power from within the institutions. In the workplace, the workers would take power to control the conditions of their lives. It would be a democratic socialism.”

It appears that Zinn’s ilk have started the institutional phase of their agenda.
highlights a review by the magazine Socialist Review, who proclaimed “Howard Zinn has adapted his People’s History of the United States for younger readers, but in no way do these books pull their punches. Zinn feels the younger reader is entitled to look at US history honestly.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SAKI ! ! !

Sometime ago in these pages, I introduced a good friend of mine from the 16th century, Michel d'Montaigne. I thought it might be of interest to introduce to readers another of my favorite authors, Saki (nee' H. H. Munro) through a series of his short sketches. Munro (Saki) captured the essence of an era long gone - the pristine yet portly period of Victoriana through the Edwardian Age. Things were either done or NOT done. There wasn't anything gray or marginal about conduct, deportment or polite speech. However, under the pen of Saki, the Ionic columns of polite society during that time come crashing down with one swift line of ink.

I am not alone in my admiration for Saki. No less than A. A. Milne had this to say:

There are good things which we want to share with the world and good things which we want to keep to ourselves. The secret of our favourite restaurant, to take a case, is guarded jealously from all but a few intimates; the secret, to take a contrary case, of our infallible remedy for seasickness is thrust upon every traveller we meet, even if he be no more than a casual acquaintance about to cross the Serpentine. So with our books. There are dearly loved books of which we babble to a neighbour at dinner, insisting that she shall share our delight in them; and there are books, equally dear to us, of which we say nothing, fearing lest the praise of others should cheapen the glory of our discovery. The books of "Saki" were, for me at least, in the second class.

It was in the WESTMINSTER GAZETTE that I discovered him (I like to remember now) almost as soon as he was discoverable. Let us spare a moment, and a tear, for those golden days in the early nineteen hundreds, when there were five leisurely papers of an evening in which the free-lance might graduate, and he could speak of his Alma Mater, whether the GLOBE or the PALL MALL, with as much pride as, he never doubted, the GLOBE or the PALL MALL would speak one day of him. Myself but lately down from ST. JAMES', I was not too proud to take some slight but pitying interest in men of other colleges. The unusual name of a freshman up at WESTMINSTER attracted my attention; I read what he had to say; and it was only by reciting rapidly with closed eyes the names of our own famous alumni, beginning confidently with Barrie and ending, now very doubtfully, with myself, that I was able to preserve my equanimity. Later one heard that this undergraduate from overseas had gone up at an age more advanced than customary; and just as Cambridge men have been known to complain of the maturity of Oxford Rhodes scholars, so one felt that this WESTMINSTER free-lance in the thirties was no fit competitor for the youth of other colleges. Indeed, it could not compete.

Well, I discovered him, but only to the few, the favoured, did I speak of him. It may have been my uncertainty (which still persists) whether he called himself Sayki, Sahki or Sakki which made me thus ungenerous of his name, or it may have been the feeling that the others were not worthy of him; but how refreshing it was when some intellectually blown-up stranger said "Do you ever read Saki?" to reply, with the same pronunciation and even greater condescension: "Saki! He has been my favourite author for years!"

A strange exotic creature, this Saki, to us many others who were trying to do it too. For we were so domestic, he so terrifyingly cosmopolitan. While we were being funny, as planned, with collar-studs and hot-water bottles, he was being much funnier with werwolves and tigers. Our little dialogues were between John and Mary; his, and how much better, between Bertie van Tahn and the Baroness. Even the most casual intruder into one of his sketches, as it might be our Tomkins, had to be called Belturbet or de Ropp, and for his hero, weary man-of-the-world at seventeen, nothing less thrilling than Clovis Sangrail would do. In our envy we may have wondered sometimes if it were not much easier to be funny with tigers than with collar-studs; if Saki's careless cruelty, that strange boyish insensitiveness of his, did not give him an unfair start in the pursuit of laughter. It may have been so; but, fortunately, our efforts to be funny in the Saki manner have not survived to prove it.

What is Saki's manner, what his magic talisman? Like every artist worth consideration, he had no recipe. If his exotic choice of subject was often his strength, it was often his weakness; if his insensitiveness carried him through, at times, to victory, it brought him, at times, to defeat. I do not think that he has that "mastery of the CONTE"—in this book at least—which some have claimed for him. Such mastery infers a passion for tidiness which was not in the boyish Saki's equipment. He leaves loose ends everywhere. Nor in his dialogue, delightful as it often is, funny as it nearly always is, is he the supreme master; too much does it become monologue judiciously fed, one character giving and the other taking. But in comment, in reference, in description, in every development of his story, he has a choice of words, a "way of putting things" which is as inevitably his own vintage as, once tasted, it becomes the private vintage of the connoisseur.

Let us take a sample or two of "Saki, 1911."

"The earlier stages of the dinner had worn off. The wine lists had been consulted, by some with the blank embarrassment of a schoolboy suddenly called upon to locate a Minor Prophet in the tangled hinterland of the Old Testament, by others with the severe scrutiny which suggests that they have visited most of the higher-priced wines in their own homes and probed their family weaknesses."

"Locate" is the pleasant word here. Still more satisfying, in the story of the man who was tattooed "from collar-bone to waist-line with a glowing representation of the Fall of Icarus," is the word "privilege":

"The design when finally developed was a slight disappointment to Monsieur Deplis, who had suspected Icarus of being a fortress taken by Wallenstein in the Thirty Years' War, but he was more than satisfied with the execution of the work, which was acclaimed by all who had the privilege of seeing it as Pincini's masterpiece."


As a way of introduction to Saki, let me introduce you to one of his star characters:


I did it — I who should have known better.

I persuaded Reginald to go to the McKillops’ garden-party against his will.

We all make mistakes occasionally.

“They know you’re here, and they’ll think it so funny if you don’t go. And I want particularly to be in with Mrs. McKillop just now.”

“I know, you want one of her smoke Persian kittens as a prospective wife for Wumples—or a husband, is it?” (Reginald has a magnificent scorn for details, other than sartorial.) “And I am expected to undergo social martyrdom to suit the connubial exigencies”—

“Reginald! It’s nothing of the kind, only I’m sure Mrs. McKillop Would be pleased if I brought you. Young men of your brilliant attractions are rather at a premium at her garden-parties.”

“Should be at a premium in heaven,” remarked Reginald complacently.

“There will be very few of you there, if that is what you mean. But seriously, there won’t be any great strain upon your powers of endurance; I promise you that you shan’t have to play croquet, or talk to the Archdeacon’s wife, or do anything that is likely to bring on physical prostration. You can just wear your sweetest clothes and moderately amiable expression, and eat chocolate-creams with the appetite of a blasé parrot. Nothing more is demanded of you.”

Reginald shut his eyes. “There will be the exhaustingly up-to-date young women who will ask me if I have seen San Toy; a less progressive grade who will yearn to hear about the Diamond Jubilee—the historic event, not the horse. With a little encouragement, they will inquire if I saw the Allies march into Paris. Why are women so fond of raking up the past? They’re as bad as tailors, who invariably remember what you owe them for a suit long after you’ve ceased to wear it.”

“I’ll order lunch for one o’clock; that will give you two and a half hours to dress in.”

Reginald puckered his brow into a tortured frown, and I knew that my point was gained. He was debating what tie would go with which waistcoat.

Even then I had my misgivings.

* * * * *

During the drive to the McKillops’ Reginald was possessed with a great peace, which was not wholly to be accounted for by the fact that he had inveigled his feet into shoes a size too small for them. I misgave more than ever, and having once launched Reginald on to the McKillops’ lawn, I established him near a seductive dish of marrons glacés, and as far from the Archdeacon’s wife as possible; as I drifted away to a diplomatic distance I heard with painful distinctness the eldest Mawkby girl asking him if he had seen San Toy.

It must have been ten minutes later, not more, and I had been having quite an enjoyable chat with my hostess, and had promised to lend her The Eternal City and my recipe for rabbit mayonnaise, and was just about to offer a kind home for her third Persian kitten, when I perceived, out of the corner of my eye, that Reginald was not where I had left him, and that the marrons glacés were untasted. At the same moment I became aware that old Colonel Mendoza was essaying to tell his classic story of how he introduced golf into India, and that Reginald was in dangerous proximity. There are occasions when Reginald is caviare to the Colonel.

“When I was at Poona in ’76”—

“My dear Colonel,” purred Reginald, “fancy admitting such a thing! Such a give-away for one’s age! I wouldn’t admit being on this planet in ’76.” (Reginald in his wildest lapses into veracity never admits to being more than twenty-two.)

The Colonel went to the colour of a fig that has attained great ripeness, and Reginald, ignoring my efforts to intercept him, glided away to another part of the lawn. I found him a few minutes later happily engaged in teaching the youngest Rampage boy the approved theory of mixing absinthe, within full earshot of his mother. Mrs. Rampage occupies a prominent place in local Temperance movements.

As soon as I had broken up this unpromising tête-à-tête and settled Reginald where he could watch the croquet players losing their tempers, I wandered off to find my hostess and renew the kitten negotiations at the point where they had been interrupted. I did not succeed in running her down at once, and eventually it was Mrs. McKillop who sought me out, and her conversation was not of kittens.

“Your cousin is discussing Zaza with the Archdeacon’s wife; at least, he is discussing, she is ordering her carriage.”

She spoke in the dry, staccato tone of one who repeats a French exercise, and I knew that as far as Millie McKillop was concerned, Wumples was devoted to a lifelong celibacy.

“If you don’t mind,” I said hurriedly, “I think we’d like our carriage ordered too,” and I made a forced march in the direction of the croquet-ground.

I found everyone talking nervously and feverishly of the weather and the war in South Africa, except Reginald, who was reclining in a comfortable chair with the dreamy, far-away look that a volcano might wear just after it had desolated entire villages. The Archdeacon’s wife was buttoning up her gloves with a concentrated deliberation that was fearful to behold. I shall have to treble my subscription to her Cheerful Sunday Evenings Fund before I dare set foot in her house again.

At that particular moment the croquet players finished their game, which had been going on without a symptom of finality during the whole afternoon. Why, I ask, should it have stopped precisely when a counter-attraction was so necessary? Everyone seemed to drift towards the area of disturbance, of which the chairs of the Archdeacon’s wife and Reginald formed the storm-centre. Conversation flagged, and there settled upon the company that expectant hush that precedes the dawn—when your neighbours don’t happen to keep poultry.

“What did the Caspian Sea?” asked Reginald, with appalling suddenness.

There were symptoms of a stampede. The Archdeacon’s wife looked at me. Kipling or someone has described somewhere the look a foundered camel gives when the caravan moves on and leaves it to its fate. The peptonised reproach in the good lady’s eyes brought the passage vividly to my mind.

I played my last card.

“Reginald, it’s getting late, and a sea-mist is coming on.” I knew that the elaborate curl over his right eyebrow was not guaranteed to survive a sea-mist.

* * * * *

“Never, never again, will I take you to a garden-party. Never . . . You behaved abominably . . . What did the Caspian see?”

A shade of genuine regret for misused opportunities passed over Reginald’s face.

“After all,” he said, “I believe an apricot tie would have gone better with the lilac waistcoat.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Verkaufen Sie den Vatican…. Ein was für Konzept!

This, just passed on to me, HAS to be the most brilliant bit in recent history. It's a slice of what passes for pure Art in the school of Clear Thinking. Next to allowing Heath Insurance procurement across state-lines as a cure all for our Health Insurance woes, this bon-mot is nothing short of delicious in it's simplicity.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tragödie gegen Wirklichkeit

Working in a library brings a lot of odd/bizarre/touching experiences. One never knows, from day to day, what one will encounter. F'instance: 1) the isolated patron who comes in and delivers an excuse for her overdue items: "I RENEWED THESE ONLINE . . . . . WHY DO I HAVE LATE CHARGES? " Well, of course, they were renewed AFTER the grace period and so they have late/overdue charges. 2)" I HAD NO IDEA WHEN THEY WERE DUE: HOW ON EARTH COULD I KNOW WHEN THEY WERE DUE? . . . . . . " Well, we gave you a receipt that indicated when each item would be due. Did you look at it? ? ? ? ? ? 3) "I NEVER, EVER, CHECKED THAT ITEM OUT . . . . WHY WOULD A WOMAN/MAN SUCH AS ME CHECK OUT HARRY POTTER AND THE GARDEN OF LOST BOOKS? . . . . ." Never mind the mindless patrons out there in LibraryLand . . . . . I have another story . . . a bit more sensitive . . . .

A woman two days ago came up to the desk. She indicated that she hadn't her library card with her but needed to use the computer. I asked her if she had lost her card [SOP] and she said, with little emotion or emphasis, " my son was killed in Afghanistan yesterday and I need to use the computer. Can you find my card number? " I said: "I'm so very, very sorry. Just give me a moment." The woman was as cool as cucumber and soooooooooo focused. I found her number and gave it to her. She went to the computer and proceeded to do her business.

This event has haunted me from the start. I've related it to fellow workers, some of which have been ex-military, and all of them, to a man, have explained that this abrupt, matter-of-fact demeanor is de riguer. I wouldn't have thought it.

I wanted to come round the counter and hug the mother and help her but, apparently, this is not done. Casualties of war are treated differently than your garden-variety Chicago clubbing-to-death.
Guy goes to Afghanistan, gets killed = to be expected. 14 year old in Chicago gets clubbed to death: No Prob.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Die einfachen Freuden an einem landwirtschaftlichen vegetabe Standplatz kommen SCHLIESSLICH nach Washington….

Zu markt, zu markt, um ein fettes Schwein zu kaufen….

Ah, the simple, unfettered joy of a breezy stop by your local fruit stand. This, just in, from the Washington Post . . . . of all places . . .

Hi-Ho, the Derry-O

By Dana Milbank
Friday, September 18, 2009

Let's say you're preparing dinner and you realize with dismay that you don't have any certified organic Tuscan kale. What to do?

Here's how Michelle Obama handled this very predicament Thursday afternoon:

The Secret Service and the D.C. police brought in three dozen vehicles and shut down H Street, Vermont Avenue, two lanes of I Street and an entrance to the McPherson Square Metro station. They swept the area, in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with bomb-sniffing dogs and installed magnetometers in the middle of the street, put up barricades to keep pedestrians out, and took positions with binoculars atop trucks. Though the produce stand was only a block or so from the White House, the first lady hopped into her armored limousine and pulled into the market amid the wail of sirens.

Then, and only then, could Obama purchase her leafy greens. "Now it's time to buy some food," she told several hundred people who came to watch. "Let's shop!"

Cowbells were rung. Somebody put a lei of marigolds around Obama's neck. The first lady picked up a straw basket and headed for the "Farm at Sunnyside" tent, where she loaded up with organic Asian pears, cherry tomatoes, multicolored potatoes, free-range eggs and, yes, two bunches of Tuscan kale. She left the produce with an aide, who paid the cashier as Obama made her way back to the limousine.

There's nothing like the simple pleasures of a farm stand to return us to our agrarian roots.

The first lady had encouraged Freshfarm Markets, the group that runs popular farmers markets in Dupont Circle and elsewhere, to set up near the White House, and she helped get the approvals to shut down Vermont Avenue during rush hour on Thursdays. But the result was quite the opposite of a quaint farmers market. Considering all the logistics, each tomato she purchased had a carbon footprint of several tons.

The promotion of organic and locally grown food, though an admirable cause, is a risky one for the Obamas, because there's a fine line between promoting healthful eating and sounding like a snob. The president, when he was a candidate in 2007, got in trouble in Iowa when he asked a crowd, "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" Iowans didn't have a Whole Foods.

For that reason, it's probably just as well that the first lady didn't stop by the Endless Summer Harvest tent yesterday. The Virginia farm had a sign offering "tender baby arugula" -- hydroponically grown, pesticide free -- and $5 for four ounces, which is $20 a pound.

Obama, in her brief speech to the vendors and patrons, handled the affordability issue by pointing out that people who pay with food stamps would get double the coupon value at the market. Even then, though, it's hard to imagine somebody using food stamps to buy what the market offered: $19 bison steak from Gunpowder Bison, organic dandelion greens for $12 per pound from Blueberry Hill Vegetables, the Piedmont Reserve cheese from Everson Dairy at $29 a pound. Rounding out the potential shopping cart: $4 for a piece of "walnut dacquoise" from the Praline Bakery, $9 for a jumbo crab cake at Chris's Marketplace, $8 for a loaf of cranberry-walnut bread and $32 for a bolt of yarn.

The first lady said the market would particularly appeal to federal employees in nearby buildings to "pick up some good stuff for dinner." Yet even they might think twice about spending $3 for a pint of potatoes when potatoes are on sale for 40 cents a pound at Giant. They could get nearly five dozen eggs at Giant for the $5 Obama spent for her dozen.

But whatever the socioeconomics, there can be no doubt that Obama brought some serious attention to her cause. Hundreds of people crowded the market entrance on I Street as police directed pedestrians to alternative subway entrances. Hundreds braved a light rain and gave a hearty cheer when Obama and her entourage took the stage. "I can't imagine there's been a day in the history of our country when people have been more excited about farmers markets," Mayor Adrian Fenty, Obama's warm-up act, told the crowd.

The first lady, in gray slacks and blue sweater, marveled that the people were "so pumped up" despite the rain. "I have never seen so many people so excited about fruits and vegetables!" she said. (Must be the tender baby arugula.)

She spoke of the global reach of her cause: "The first thing world leaders, prime ministers, kings, queens ask me about is the White House garden. And then they ask about Bo."

She spoke of the fuel fed to the world's most powerful man: "I've learned that when my family eats fresh food, healthy food, that it really affects how we feel, how we get through the day . . . whether there's a Cabinet meeting or whether we're just walking the dog."

And she spoke of her own culinary efforts: "There are times when putting together a healthy meal is harder than you might imagine."

Particularly when it involves a soundstage, an interpreter for the deaf, three TV satellite trucks and the closing of part of downtown Washington.