Well, not the whole family. Brigid's brother Neville, his wife Geri, and their daughter June flew in today for a five day stay.
They live in Australia and were visiting in England before arriving here. When they leave, they will fly west to Los Angeles for two days and then back to Australia. So they will have flown all the way around the globe, travelling west.
They are staying in virtually the only place in town, the Alexander Hamilton Inn. We have big plans for them in the next few days!
Here they are pre-dinner, with the boys.
and a picture of Geri with our guinea pig Trinity, and Joe looking on.
UPDATE #2 Thursday - Washington Post sensible editorial:
The larger thrust of the report goes well beyond Iraq or the cacophony of the midterm election campaign. It says "the most powerful weapon in the war on terror" over time will be not military success in Iraq or the capturing and killing of al-Qaeda leaders, but "the Muslim mainstream." The vast majority of Muslims are likely to reject the extreme political solutions proposed by al-Qaeda and its allies, and they will be more likely to do so if "democratic reform efforts in Muslim-majority nations progress" and entrenched problems of "corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination" are alleviated.
The U.S. mission in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein has been largely aimed at those goals, in one of the Muslim world's most important countries. It should be little wonder that the effort, like U.S. promotion of democracy in Lebanon and within the Palestinian Authority, has provoked an extremist backlash. Were it to retreat altogether from the Middle East, the United States could probably reduce the number of Islamic extremist recruits in the next five years. Yet any careful reader of the intelligence estimate will find it hard to conclude that the war can be won that way.
Original post - The posting is by Ann Althouse on her (very popular) weblog. Althouse is sort of a Lieberman Democrat; very "progressive" on social issues, middle of the road on economics, strong on the war on terror.
UPDATE #1: Thursday - And here's another good post from Althouse:
At the end of her post she says "I've got to laugh. And of course I expect a torrent of comments asking me why I'm still reading the NY Times."
I'm sure that overwhelmingly, the men and women who have died in Iraq have been outstanding individuals. This certainly seems to be the case with this young woman, who is the first female graduate of the military academy to die in Iraq.
Perez was born into a military family in Heidelberg, Germany, and moved to Fort Washington in 1998. A woman repeatedly described as focused, tenacious and passionate, she was an avid reader from a young age and eventually finished near the top of her class at Oxon Hill High School. From early on, she wanted to be a soldier, her friends recalled, and she became wing commander of Junior ROTC at Oxon Hill.
"She was the cream of the crop," said Nathaniel Laney, Perez's high school track coach and now assistant principal at Oxon Hill. "This wasn't some average Joe."
Her nickname was Kobe, family friend E. Faith Bell said, because everyone knew she could make the shots, in whatever she did.
While in high school, working with the District's Peace Baptist Church, Perez helped begin an HIV-AIDS ministry after family members contracted the virus.
My brother Paul died one year ago today. He died in the bathroom of his house in Texas, and wasn't found for almost two days - he missed his dialysis so a friend came looking for him. For more about my brother, go here Tom Faranda's Folly: Paul Faranda, 1958-2005 and here Tom Faranda's Folly: Paul's Last Rites
Paul was 47 when he died, after a lifetime battle with congenital kidney disease and juvenile diabetes. We are having the 12 o'clock Mass said for him today, and both Joe and Tim said they wanted to go to the Mass, so we'll take them out of school for an hour.
Back in December, my brother Jim sent me a picture he'd found that Paul had. It goes back to June, 1980 when we lived in the Cayman Islands and he came down to visit. We were on a secluded beach and must have set our canon ae-1 on the timer to take this. We still have that big ice chest AND the flip flops I'm wearing!
Lastly, here's a big family shot from probably over 15 years ago. No Joe or Tim on the scene and my Dad still alive. That's Paul in the red shirt -
The Washington post has a fascinating and sad feature about Franci Lupo, killed in the Marne, and recently identified.
You may have to register with the Post to access the article; it's free and easy.
The ad was in the Washington Times this morning.
Go here - BXVI advertisement
I finished this book about three weeks ago but haven't had the time to write it up until now. Since then I've read a short work by Mortimer Adler, which I'll write up in a day or two.
The name Lamont is in the news lately (As in Ned Lamont, the guy who beat Lieberman for the Dem nomination to run for the Senate in CT. Of course Senator Lieberman is now running as an independent in the general election and is leading in the polls) so I decided to read one of Corliss Lamont's books. He is kind of the godfather philosopher of "Humanism".
Corliss is the great-uncle of Ned, and was a very wealthy man, inheriting a fortune from his father, Tom Lamont, who was the Chairman of JP Morgan and Co. His father used to take his yacht down the Hudson every morning and tie up near Wall Street to get to the office.
Corliss got a great education (Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard), and then decided he was a philosophical leftist and Marxist. In fact in 1952 he wrote a book entitled "The Myth of Soviet Aggression" (this book probably didn't sell very well in places like Hungary or Poland). However, he said he wasn't a communist and never joined the communist party in the U.S. I suppose it's worth remembering that in the 30's, 40's and 50's, it was pretty trendy to be a Leftist and a Marxist.
He was also quite a philanthropist, giving away large sums of money. Lamont was also a big supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), serving in a variety of capacities in the ACLU.
On to his book - The Illusion of Immortality is an expansion of his doctoral thesis. The point of the book is that we have only one life and we are living it right now, in the flesh. Immortality is wishful thinking, "an intellectual anachronism," although he admits that it is a long-held belief in many cultures throughout history.
Here is the heart of Corliss' argument: We have a body, and we also have a personality, or what some would call a soul. However our personality is inextricably bound up with our bodies, and when our bodies are dead and rotting, well, that's got to be the end of our personality!
Unfortunately for me, since I read the whole book, Corliss stretches out this argument for 278 pages. And he never really addresses the serious arguments that can be made against this simplistic view. Rather, he simply dismisses them.
Now the book was first written in 1935, so much of it is dated - for example his arguing against "spiritualists" and asking rhetorical question like why "Immortalists neglect" answering questions like "Will negroes be black in heaven." (P. 144)
Don't get me wrong, Lamont is not nasty in his writing - in the way many avowed atheists are today - he is not an angry man. In one of the prefaces (page vii) he says "I would heartily welcome any concrete evidence... tending to establish man's immortality."
But he's not wishy-washy about his conclusions - not agnostic, saying we can't prove it one way or another. He is dogmatic: he can prove there is no immortality for humankind, in the same way he can prove there is no God.
Corliss really makes the best you can of a bad argument. He puts forth his thesis, constructs a straw man opponent, and then doesn't really answer the objections to his world view. The horror of this book is that he stretches it out for 278 pages, offering redundant arguments against his straw man.
The book should have been 40% shorter - as is, it's a fine non-pharmacological substitute for Ambien. I can't believe I read the whole thing.
The Journal had a nice rational editorial on the Pope's controversial comments - including putting the purported incendiary quotation in the context of Benedict's entire address.
Here's the link (it's free; you may have to register with opinionjournal) and an excerpt:
In Christianity, God is inseparable from reason. "In the beginning was the Word," the pope quotes from the Gospel according to John. "God acts with logos. Logos means both reason and word," he explained. "The inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of history of religions, but also from that of world history. . . . This convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe."
The question raised by the pope is whether this convergence has taken place in Islam as well. He quotes the Lebanese Catholic theologist Theodore Khoury, who said that "for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent, his will is not bound up with any of our categories." If this is true, can there be dialogue at all between Islam and the West? For the pope, the precondition for any meaningful interfaith discussions is a religion tempered by reason: "It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures," he concluded.
This is not an invitation to the usual feel-good interfaith round-tables. It is a request for dialogue with one condition--that everyone at the table reject the irrationality of religiously motivated violence. The pope isn't condemning Islam; he is inviting it to join rather than reject the modern world.
I saw my internist, Dr. Al Sheehy today. I'd had the labs and all the other tests last week, and it seems that except for the white blood cell count everything is fine. He assured me that while th WBC was low it wasn't dangerously low - would have to be about 0.5 - and was not surprising considering the chemotherapy.
Everything else, cholesterol, EKG, blah, blah blah, looked good.
I've known Dr. Sheehy for almost thirty years, and he's a terrific Doc. We talked for awhile about my chemo, his bad shoulder, my attitude, his airplane, and a few other topics. He said to me "Tom there's nothing I can tell you that you don't already know" which was reassuring to hear.
Ellen Mullin sent me this, so she gets the credit and the blame -
A young kid from Oklahoma moves to California and goes to a big "everything under one roof" department store looking for a job.
The manager says "Do you have any sales experience?"
The kid says "Yeah, I was a salesman back home in Oklahoma."
Well the boss liked the kid, so he gave him the job. "You start tomorrow. I'll come down after we close and see how you did."
His first day on the job was a learning experience, but he got through it. And after the store was locked up, the boss came down. "How many sales did you make today?" The kid says "One."
The boss says, "Just one? Our sales people average 25 sales a day. You're going to have to improve considerably or look for another job! How much was the sale for?"
The kid says "$112,237.64."
The boss says "112,237.64!! What the hell did you sell?"
The kid says "First I sold him a small fish hook, then I sold him a medium fish hook, then I sold him a large fish hook. The I sold him a new fishing rod. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down to the lake. So I told him he was going to need a boat, and we went down to the boat department and I sold him a new bass boat. Then he said he didn't think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him a new Ford pick-up. I asked him how long he was going to be out at the lake and after he said 5 or 6 days I took him down to the RV department and sold him a slide-in camper for the truck."
The boss said "A guy came in here to buy a fishing hook and you sold him a boat, a truck, and a camper?"
The kid says "No he came in here to buy a box of tampons for his wife and I said, "Well, your weekend's shot, you might as well go fishing."
The Yanks backed into the division title last night; even though they lost, so did the Red Sox, clinching the division for the Bombers.
Steinbrenner had this to say: New York Yankees : Official Info : Press Release
My friend Karen Riner sent me this:
Football & Blondes
A guy took his blonde girlfriend to her first football game.
They had great seats right behind their team's bench. After the game,
he asked her how she liked the experience.
"Oh, I really liked it," she replied, "especially the tight
pants and all the big muscles, but I just couldn't understand why they
were killing each other over 25 cents."
Dumbfounded, her date asked, "What do you mean?"
"Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it and then for the
rest of the game, all they kept screaming was: 'Get the quarterback! Get the
I'm like...Helloooooo? It's only 25 cents!
Here's the story of Sister Leonella, the Italian nun shot down in Somalia - coincidentally shortly after the controversy about the Pope's Islam comment erupted.
Saw Dr. Chia today at Sloan Kettering in Sleepy Hollow. The white blood cell count continues (very stubbornly) to stay low. So I had a shot of neulasta, the white cell booster.
I asked her how long after chemo ends before the counts get back to normal and she said "It depends." So I said "Like a year" and she replied "No, not that long." I pointed out that my chemo ended in January, eight months ago.
Next physician date is October 25th, when I will see the lymphoma guru, Dr. Zelenetz. I have to call his office to find out what scans I'll need (a CAT scan for sure) and get it scheduled a few days before the appointment.
I was pleased about my weight - 154 lbs. But I haven't gone to the gym since Sunday morning. This is the first time in ages that I've missed three days in a row. And I ate like a pig at the business symposium I attended on Monday and Tuesday in Boston.
Lawrence Kudlow is one of the leading "supply side" economists in the U.S. He's got a varied background, including work in the Reagan administration. He currently has a CNBC television show, "Kudlow and Company", and is also the economics editor for National Review.
As an aside, a number of years ago he overcame cocaine and alcohol addiction.
Here's a column published online at NRO, in which he calls the drop in oil prices - at a time many pundits were predicting prices would rise to $100, or even higher per barrel. The whole article is worth reading (takes five minutes) - I excerpted the last three paragrapha
A combination of market forces and government deregulation could be setting us up for a big crack in energy prices, including gas at the pump. And it may happen sooner rather than later. Many years ago, during the 1970s oil crisis, Milton Friedman argued that free markets are more powerful than OPEC, and Ronald Reagan proved the point when prices plunged after he deregulated energy in the early 1980s. Twenty years later, energy-market forces may be poised to assert themselves once more.
Iran and its allies will continue to rattle their sabers in an attempt to boost the value of their only cash crop. And of course, a gunboat battle in the Strait of Hormuz will temporarily boost prices again. But pessimists keep making a one-way bet on sky-high oil prices that will doom the American economy, even though record low tax rates on capital have so far prevented anything like this from happening.
Conventional forecasters understate the economic power of free markets, low marginal tax rates, and energy deregulation. As a supply-side contrarian, I’ll take the other side of that trade. Indeed, as future events unfold, we may be headed for a much different energy and economic scenario.
Many people will remember Nick Springer - who around 1999 at the age of about 14 developed a rare form of meningitis.
The result was horrific. Nick developed gangrene in all four of his limbs and had to have amputations of his legs below the knee, and his arms below the elbow.
However he has dealt wonderfully well with his disability, and here is a video that shows Nick as a member of the USA Wheelchair rugby team competing in the World Championships in New Zealand. I don't know why they call it rugby, because it's more like a combination of team handball, basketball, bumper cars, and rollerball, but they do.
The video does stop and start, but if you know or remember Nick (and even if you don't) it's worth having the patience to watch the whole thing. Remember he's representing the United States!
Here's a good article about Nick - YouthBeat 2004 :: Youth Matters
Nick Springer put his hockey arms on with the help of his father, who taped them securely to his stumps. Rather than get back in his wheelchair to run down to the ice at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Nick walked himself down on his arms, pulling his body along.
and here's another piece mentioning Nick and the growth of the sport of Wheelchair rugby:
Lastly, the USA team won the World Championship beating New Zealand in the final on September 16th.Quad Rugby/Story - - /2006
I will be in Boston on business until Tuesday night. I have a real interesting posting which I will put up when I get back.
Unfortunately the Yanks were swept today by Boston (second game just ended) so the "magic number" stays at four.
I went down with a total of about a dozen people from my parish to the Central Park "Rally for Darfur" that was going on simultaneously in about forty-five other cities. I think there may have been eight to ten thousand people there.
Here are some pictures - first the podium and the diamond vision screen - the speaker is an Islamic Iman from New York
Part of the crowd. Note the blue hats and berets. People were asked to wear a blue hat to symbolize the blue hats and helmets worn by U.N. peacekeepers.
Here's a group of Darfurians who were marching around the perimeter - great poster of Bashir (President of the Sudan) and Kofi Annan
Here's a few of the people who were from Holy Name of Mary. My son Joe did not come down this time (he did go with me to the Save Darfur rally in Washington on April 30th) since he'd spent the whole day before working at the NYS Right to Life Committee convention in Yonkers, and he had schoolwork.
And here's Maria Abonnel, who did most of the organizing leg work to get us to Central Park.
Here are two blonde jokes. The first is a "smart" blonde joke and was sent to me by my friend Thea. The second is a "dumb" blonde joke, sent by Ellen.
So here's the smart blonde:
A blonde walks into a bank in New York City and asks to see the loan officer. She says she's going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000.
The bank officer says the bank will need some kind of security for the loan, so the blonde hands over the keys to a new Mercedes Benz SL 500. The car is parked in front of the bank. She has the title and everything checks out.
The bank agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan. The bank's president and its officers all quietly enjoy a good laugh at the blonde's expense for using a $110,000 car as collateral against a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then proceeds to drive the Mercedes into the bank's underground garage and parks it there.
Two weeks later the blonde returns. She pays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41.
The loan officer says, "Miss we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away we checked you out and found out that you are a multimillionaire. We're wondering why you bothered to borrow $5,000?"
The blonde replies, "Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41and expect it to be there when I return?"
That's the smart blonde joke, courtesy of Thea. Here's the dumb blonde, from my friend Ellen:
A blonde walks into the pharmacy and asks for some rectum deodorant. The pharmacist is a bit amused by this and explains that they don't sell rectum deodorant and there's no such thing.
Unfazed, the blonde aAsures the pharmacist that she has been buying the stuff from this store on a regular basis and would like some more . "I'm sorry," the pharmacist says, "we don't have any."
The blonde is now a little indignant and says "but I always buy it here." "Do you have the container it came in?" says the pharmacist. "Sure" says the blonde, "I'll go home and get it."
She returns with the container and hands it to the pharmacist who looks at it and says to her "This is just an ordinary stick of underarm deodorant." Annoyed the blonde snatches it back, and reads out loud from the container "TO APPLY PUSH UP BOTTOM"
Here's a barnburner for you, from the Daily Mail in England. Sure to start a
I always intuitively felt that the real situation was the opposite of what this study asserts. But who am I to argue with science? To be honest, it's a pretty interesting article -
The findings, which held true for all classes and levels of parental education, overturn a 100 year consensus that men and women average the same in general mental ability. They also conflict with evidence that girls do better in school exams than boys.
But Prof Rushton, who was born in Bournemouth and obtained his doctorate in social psychology from the London School of Economics, argues that the faster maturing of girls leads to them outshining boys in the classroom.
And a last excerpt (but hit the link and read the whole article! And the "comments" section at the end seems to prove the opposite.)
'We know that men have larger brains, even when you take into account larger body size,' said the researcher. 'That means there are more neurons. The question is what these neurons are doing in a man - and they probably have an advantage in processing information.'
It is thought the difference may date back to the Stone Age, with women seeking out men who are more intelligent than them in a bid to pass on the best genes to their children.
'Some people have suggested it evolved because women prefer men who are more intelligent than they are for husbands,' said the professor.
'Just as they prefer men who are taller than them, they also prefer a male who is a little ahead of them in IQ.'
Wow. Don't email me - I prefer you leave a comment if you are so inclined. Nothing too rude.
Very quietly, the Yanks have passed the Tigers as the team with the best winning percentage in the AL (it's at .614 since they won this afternoon). And with Matsui back, Bobby Abreu (over from the Phillies) prospering, and Sheffield chomping at the bit, the Yanks are sure to score their share of runs!
Meanwhile the Mets have the best winning percentage in all of major league baseball (.621).
When the Yankees beat the Mets in five games in the 2000 World Series, it marked the first Subway Series in October since the Yankees knocked off the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 Fall Classic. While New Yorkers are increasingly jazzed about the prospects of a Subway Series happening again next month, the New York teams have to make the postseason berths official and then buck some significant recent trends.
The initial step appears to be a formality. With their magic number at 2 as of Thursday, the Mets can clinch the National League East on Friday. The Yankees, meanwhile, are cruising toward a ninth consecutive AL East title with a cushy 11 1/2-game lead over the Red Sox. And with a magic number of 7, they could clinch this weekend when they take on Boston in a four-game series.
Our friends and down-the-street neighbors Sue and Dave Konig have a new radio gig on Sirius.
Here's the story:
Here's coverage of a very interesting study Wide Gaps Found In Mortality Rates Among U.S. Groups - washingtonpost.com
The article is fairly brief and well worth reading - some excerpts:
The differences in life expectancy across that spectrum are as wide as the difference between Iceland and Uzbekistan. The study, based on 2001 data, reveals a United States that is pocked by places where millions of adults face a risk of premature death like that in Angola, Mexico, Nigeria and other parts of the developing world. Furthermore, those differences -- the most obvious sign of the health disparities that have captured the attention of policymakers -- have not changed in two decades.
"I think it's pretty fair to say we're failing," said Christopher J.L. Murray, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The score card on the macro level has been failure."
One of the reasons for the persistence of the disparities, Murray says, is that the biggest difference in mortality is seen among people in middle age. That part of the population has not been a major focus of new investment in government health programs in the past two decades.
And then there's this:
Interestingly, there was less variation among the Eight Americas in the rate of health insurance coverage and the frequency of routine medical appointments than there was in life expectancy. That finding suggests that access to care does not explain most of the differences in mortality.
I knew seven people killed on 9/11. But I only knew one of them real well.
I knew Tom Knox ("Tommy") because I coached him for five years at the North Jersey Rugby Club. He was a great kid. Funny, quick witted, really sparkling personality. The sort of fellow you enjoy hanging around with; you're glad he's your friend.
He was an intense rugby player and wonderfully coachable guy.
Tom was married to Nancy for less than a year. He was thirty years old. The youngest of six children. He worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. No trace of him has been found. 1,000 people attended his funeral Mass. It is still painful to even write about this.
If you have time, go here Guest Book - Thomas Patrick Knox and read some of the 21 pages of tributes Tommy's friends wrote.
I've been weblogging for one year. Of course the impetus was to write about my chemotherapy lymphoma treatment, with my (at times other) inane chatter secondary. In total, I have posted 496 times, have received 239 comments, and many, many, more emails.
I've heard from people with lymphoma from around the country and overseas, from as far away as South Africa. The lymphoma information network has linked to this weblog, and in fact someone surfed over from there today.
A couple of other interesting things.
One of the most visited postings is this one - Tom Faranda's Folly: Adoption and Down's Syndrome. This seems to be because Yahoo search lists it at #1 if a person types "adoption and Down's syndrome" into yahoo's search box. Because the original link in this posting to a CNN article no longer connects, I just updated the posting with links to active services for people looking for information.
Yesterday at 11:15PM when I checked the weblog statistics page, there was a confluence of numbers:
|Total number of page views:||13400|
|Average per day:||40.00|
|Last 7 days:||337|
|Today since midnight GMT:||40|
The statistics are from the time I started using typepad as the blogging service in October (I had been using blogspot). Page views is not exactly the number of visitors, since I believe if you hit different links within the weblog that constitutes a page view. I think the number of total visitors is about 2/3's the number of page views.
Here's the very first post, Sept. 8 of last year. Tom Faranda's Folly: First Post Amongst other things I mentioned my oldest son Joe's thoughts on his confirmation name. If you have a look, he has decided to be confirmed with the name he was discussing at the time.
I am very pleased I started the weblog. It's been good for me, good for my family, and judging from emails and comments, helpful to quite a number of people with lymphoma.
That's the title of the email that was sent to me today and which is below. The story originates with an article in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper.
Read the story. You'll understand the gesture. Look at the picture below closely before reading the story. A good story about a real hero.
The Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant in the picture is Michael Burghard, part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team that is supporting 2nd Brigade 28th Infrantry Division (Pennsylvania Army National Guard) in Iraq.
Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as "Iron Mike" or just "Gunny". He is on his third tour in Iraq. He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour. Then, on September 19, he got blown up. He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bluky bomb protection suit. "You can't react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision, " he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term "the longest walk", stepping gingerly into a 5 ft. deep and 8 ft. wide crater.
The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire! and used his 7 inch knife to probe the ground. "I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs," he says. That's when I knew I was screwed."
Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant's feet. "A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded," he recalls. "As I was in the air I remember thinking, 'I don't believe they got me'. I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down."
His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. "My dad's a Vietnam vet who's paralyzed from the waist down," says Sgt Burghardt. "I was lying there thinking I didn't want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, 'Good, I'm in business.'"
As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. "I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn't going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher." He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. "I flipped them one. It was like, 'OK, I lost that round but I'll be back next week'."
Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Colonel John Gronski, the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit. Sgt Burghardt's injuries - burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks - kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father - who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam - he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS POST.
I think it's a riot that all these Democrat Party believers in free speech, free press, the right to reveal secret anti-terrorist programs, etc, etc, are now apoplectic about this ABC mini-series which suggests the Clinton Administration could have done a better job of defending the country against terrorism (well, DUH). Clinton Administration Officials Assail ABC's 'The Path to 9/11'
When Democratic Party operative Michael Moore was lying his butt off right before the 2004 election in "Fahrenheit 911" (here's an analysis by a Democrat - Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 911, Dave Kopel, Independence Institute ) you didn't hear Bush and his minions winging and whining and threatening.
As I was driving Tim home this evening from his football practice, Mark Levin was on the radio, referring to the moaners and groaners as "paranoid, leftist, book burners." He got it exactly right.
There was a very interesting essay in the Times (UK) about three weeks ago. It was in response to a television personality in Great Britain (Jenni Murray) who proudly proclaimed that she would "die when I want to" by euthanizing herself.
Here's the response, by Mary Kenny
Dear me. How pitiful to have lived for over half a century on this planet and not to have observed that the very core of being human is admitting of dependence upon others. There is such a thing as society, and we are all part of it. Our interdependence is part of our humanity, and indeed, our civilisation. Only an automaton is autonomous. We are all burdens upon each other at various cycles of our lives; but we grow in bearing one another’s burdens and draw enlightenment and wisdom from the experience.
To see a man who was once big and strong and bestrode his world like a colossus now reduced to the frailty of extreme old age; or to see a woman who once ruled her domestic dominion like an empress now sweetly accepting of a second childhood — this is to understand that it is vulnerability that makes human beings heroic, not strength and dominance and power. The poignant heart of humanity is vulnerability: if we don’t understand that, we are indeed as the brute beasts of the fields, with whom the euthanasia lobby so often likes to draw a parellel, calling to be put down like their own domestic animals.
And to care for the sick and old and dying through the last days of their journey through life is the very mark of civilisation itself. Anthropology tells us that undeveloped peoples do not do this. Certain aboriginal peoples abandon the lame and the halt to the elements; in the Arctic tundras, when the elderly could no longer hunt or contribute to the tribe, they were exposed to the cold so they would not take up space or use of food stores. This was functional — what the Darwinists would call a survival strategy — and for the purpose of survival, people take many desperate measures.
But wherever this was practised, tribes failed to develop, intellectually and even emotionally: because development comes through the experience of altruism, and the understanding that there is more to the human spirit than the next meal. Development also requires moral virtues such as courage and fortitude in the face of well-understood trials and difficulties. Problem-solving is advanced by caring rather than elimination. But development comes when, instead, we invent a wheelchair.
There's an interesting one year anniversary. When I said to Brigid yesterday "Tomorrow's a one year anniversary" she couldn't think of what it was.
So a year ago today I went over to Phelps Memorial Hospital for a Muga scan (a type of heart scan) to get the OK for the chemo, and then went to the Sloan Kettering facility next to Phelps for the first of four doses of R-CHOP. The nursing team in the chemo unit administered the pre-meds and chemo a little slower then they would normally since it was the first dose, and they needed to look out for adverse reactions. So it took about four hours in total - and there were no adverse reactions.
It's hard to believe the five months of chemotherapy began one year ago. Now, a year later, I am in complete remission, weigh a few pounds less than I did (a good side benefit!), am a little wiser than I was, and am very grateful that my family has "weathered the storm" very well.
Was today. The boys go back to school tomorrow and actually appear to be ready for it.
It's been a great summer. Tim had two two-week sessions of camp at Teatown Lake reservation, where he merrily chased frogs and snakes. The two week sessions sandwiched his two weeks of baseball camp, where he picked up the nickname "Big Papi." He was quite pleased with the name - until he found out who "big Papi" played for! Tim is a Yankees fan, and so feels the Red Sox are anathema. AND, he also had his pre-season football training camp for the two weeks, ending Labor Day weekend.
Joe had his five weeks in the Fordham Prep HAP (High Achievement Program) and was given the "Best Overall" award for his group. We think that was BIG confidence booster for Joe.
As a family we went camping near Hershey, PA for three nights, and that was an excellent trip.
And yesterday we closed out the summer with a one day trip to the amusement park in Ct., Lake Compounce. The park is off Rte. 84, mid-way detween Danbury and Hartford. Joe has been there several times, but the other three of us have never gotten there. Even though it was a little nippy for a park with water rides, we had a good time.
The park has a really interesting roller coaster ("Boulder Dash") that goes through the woods and hills. Pretty cool really. Here we are heading up to the first drop!
Here's three more pictures from yesterday. Good old Joe just doesn't like having his picture taken, and the best we can get out of him are these sleepy-eyed looks... Despite the perspective in the picture seeming to show otherwise, Brigid and Joe are just about exactly the same height.
And a last one of Joe. Ever since going to Disney in April, I have pointed out to Joe that when we go to an amusement park (Disney, HersheyPark, Lake Compounce) he goes into his "sardonic amusement park humor mode" which is really quite entertaining.
Tonight at supper I reminded the boys of what a great summer we had, and how fortunate it was that I'd had a good recovery from my chemo and we were able to get to Disney and do all these things this summer. And I thanked them for the good times.
Today I had my blood counts done at Sloan Kettering in Sleepy Hollow (as per the plan to monitor them) and they were a bit better. At least to the point where Dr Chia decided my red count was good enough to not need the scheduled shot of Darbepoetin, the red blood cell booster, that she'd scheduled two weeks ago.
Also, while my white blood cell count was below the minimum, the key components were normal.
The only issue that's come up is that I did contract a cold in the last 48 hours, which I have a feeling is turning into a sinus infection. This morning they did culture my throat, so we'l see if that turns anything up. I didn't go to the gym today, since I am feeling run down.
But I have been pretty faithful about the gym, and will try and get there tomorrow.
This morning's report that Steven Irwin had been killed in a freakish accident with a sting ray on the great barrier reef is very sad.
My family loved his program "The Crocodile Hunter" and he was a real environmentalist.
Here's what happened:
Mr Cropp said he was told that the strike was "close to the heart and Steve had a cardiac arrest".
"At first they treated him as being wounded, but he didn't survive unfortunately," he said.
This is written by a Jesuit Polish-American priest, the late Walter J. Ciszek, and I have been meaning to read it for quite a number of years. Father was imprisoned by the Soviet Union while carrying on a priestly mission ministry in Russia. They claimed he was a spy.
Fr. Ciszek spent 23 years (1940-1963) in the Russian Gulag. His own family assumed he was dead, until they got word from him in the late 1950's. Ciszek was over five years in solitary confinement in Lubianka prison (subjected to brutal questioning and treatment), about ten years in Siberian concentration camps, and eight years of limited confinement in a number of small Siberian cities.
This is the second of Father's books about his experience - the first was "With God in Russia" which I haven't read. In the preface to "He Leadeth Me" Ciszek says "this is the book I wanted to write" because it goes into his spirituality and spiritual development, during the 23 years. His interior life.
And it's really a wonderful book, as Father talks about his failures and successes, while he constantly seeks to "accept the will of God."
And despite the horrors of what Ciszek faced, it is a very hopeful book. He worked very hard at his priestly ministry while in captivity, which did not sit well with his captors. He is forever astounded by the faith he saw in so many people he came across in terrible circumstances. And this in an officially atheistic country.
Father has his funny moments - for example (P.138): "It is much easier to see the redemptive role of pain and suffering in God's plan if you are not actually undergoing pain and suffering."
Father Ciszek was traded for a Russian spy in 1963 and had a priestly ministry based at Fordham University, until his death in 1984.
Here is the official Father Ciszek website, as his cause for canonization has been opened. Welcome to Father Walter Ciszek Prayer League Web Site and Prayer Pages!
Here is a feature article in the Washington Post that some might find fiddly and boring, but I found fascinating. It gives a great insight into Mennonite and Amish thinking. These groups continue to prosper as they stick with their traditional ways.
It used to be that Old Order Mennonite and Amish families in St. Mary's relied on public, coin-operated pay phones. But as people migrated to cellphones, telecommunications companies took notice. On average, they remove more than 1,000 pay phones a year in Maryland, according to state records. Verizon, for example, plans to take out two pay phones along heavily-Amish Thompson Corner and Budds Creek roads in St. Mary's.
So the Amish and Mennonites are adapting.
"Business is business," said Elmer Brubacher, a Mennonite standing over a pallet of tomatoes at the Loveville Produce Auction that he helps run. "If they have to pull them out, I understand that."
The new phones hold advantages. The Amish and Mennonites don't have to carry around fistfuls of quarters or buy costly calling cards. Families divide monthly bills. Because the phones are hidden, locked and -- in the case of a metal chamber booth, which was fashioned out of a tank salvaged from a junkyard -- reinforced, the phones are less likely to attract vandals and drug dealers.
There are rules. Families can't post phones too close to homes, and they can't outfit them with amplified ringers that effectively would make them house phones. Some Amish don't cotton to voice mail, but Old Order Mennonites seem more accepting of the feature. For both groups, the idea is to limit forces they think will distract them from faith and family.
"The telephone, and the use of the telephone, is not something we're opposed to. We just don't want it to be the main part of our lives," said Ethan Brubacher, 31, a nephew of Elmer, who owns Quiet Valley Structures, a shed-building business in Loveville. He and 11 neighbors share a community phone booth that is screened off by a row of 20 evergreen hedges
This is an amazing and scary article.
Only 21% of students applying to four year institutions are academically prepared for college.
Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford professor who was a co-author of a report on the gap between aspirations and college attainment, said that 73 percent of students entering community colleges hoped to earn four-year degrees, but that only 22 percent had done so after six years.
“You can get into school,” Professor Kirst said. “That’s not a problem. But you can’t succeed.’’
Nearly half the 14.7 million undergraduates at two- and four-year institutions never receive degrees. The deficiencies turn up not just in math, science and engineering, areas in which a growing chorus warns of difficulties in the face of global competition, but also in the basics of reading and writing.
According to scores on the 2006 ACT college entrance exam, 21 percent of students applying to four-year institutions are ready for college-level work in all four areas tested, reading, writing, math and biology.
For many students, the outlook does not improve after college. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently found that three-quarters of community college graduates were not literate enough to handle everyday tasks like comparing viewpoints in newspaper editorials or calculating the cost of food items per ounce.
The unyielding statistics showcase a deep disconnection between what high school teachers think that their students need to know and what professors, even at two-year colleges, expect them to know.
At Cal State, the system admits only students with at least a B average in high school. Nevertheless, 37 percent of the incoming class last year needed remedial math, and 45 percent needed remedial English.
A long but very worthwhile piece. But it is only available for free on the Times website for one week. After that, if you'd like a copy please email me.
Here are two points of view on global warming. One says the fears are overdone.
In 2001, the scientists predicted temperature rises of between 1.4C and 5.8C on current levels by 2100, but better science has led them to adjust this to a narrower band of between 2C and 4.5C.
The new projections put paid to some of the more alarmist scenarios raised by previous modelling, which have suggested that sea levels could rise by almost 1m over the same period.
The report projects a rise in sea levels by century's end of between 14cm and 43cm, with further rises expected in following centuries caused by melting polar ice.
The second piece is in today's Washington Post and is a long article/interview with 87 year old British scientist James Lovelock. He is the originator of the "Gaia" hypothesis (you've heard of this, if you saw the old Star Trek movie where Mr. Spock is brought back to life...) and he says the only way to survive is to move to the Artic circle RIGHT NOW. Really. You can't make this stuff up.
"It's going too fast," he says softly. "We will burn."
Why is that?
"Our global furnace is out of control. By 2020, 2025, you will be able to sail a sailboat to the North Pole. The Amazon will become a desert, and the forests of Siberia will burn and release more methane and plagues will return."
Sulfurous musings are not Lovelock's characteristic style; he's no Book of Revelation apocalyptic. In his 88th year, he remains one of the world's most inventive scientists, an Englishman of humor and erudition, with an oenophile's taste for delicious controversy. Four decades ago, his discovery that ozone-destroying chemicals were piling up in the atmosphere started the world's governments down a path toward repair. Not long after that, Lovelock proposed the theory known as Gaia, which holds that Earth acts like a living organism, a self-regulating system balanced to allow life to flourish.
There's plenty more. Hit the link and read the whole thing. Meanwhile all my friends are buying property in Florida.
Here's the latest word on the Darfur situation. See the previous post for details on the Save Darfur rally in NY city on September 17th.
The U.N. Security Council yesterday approved a long-sought resolution that would place an expanded peacekeeping force in Sudan's troubled Darfur region under U.N. authority, even as the government appeared to have begun a new offensive against rebel forces.
The new U.N. mandate would take effect only with Sudan's consent, and its president, Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, immediately rejected it. Officials in Khartoum have repeatedly said that they favor the current African force, under the auspices of the African Union, instead of one from the United Nations.
The African Union, however, favors the transfer of control to the United Nations, saying it is unable to keep the peace and will soon run out of funds.