Katrina Updating

Times-Picayune news on all Katrina-effected areas. Obviously their focus in New Orleans, but they’re writing. Updates about every half hour.

Superdome folks moving to the Astrodome.

No electricity for 16 weeks. No going home for that long.

Dry areas will be flooded soon because of the levee break which is not taking the planned repairing.

NO hasn’t started a body count. But based on what I’ve heard already, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was as bad as September 11 in terms of deaths. I’ve seen two towns already say they have 100 dead. If that’s true, then what about the cities?

I feel odd to be sitting in my house with my feet up on the coffee table listening to the washer run while my son does his history homework. We have lights. We have a/c. We have fans. We have food. But just a few hours over, those people don’t.

And then, of course, there’s the mobs. Prisoners holding hostages. Looters threatening the Children’s Hospital.

God, help us all.

As of 9 p.m. the levee is not letting in any more water because the water is receding into the river. That’s good. There is still some concern about high tide, but at least right now the water is going in the right direction.

No one got into Children’s Hospital and all of the children who were still there have now been placed, though I don’t know if they’ve made the evacuation yet, in other hospitals around the nation.

Houston called for volunteers to help set up the Astrodome with cots and feeding stations. They wanted to be done by 5 pm.

648 Die in Iraq

“Iraq: About 650 die in stampede spurred by rumors of bomber
Terrorism creates more terror. Now, here’s an assignment for all you moral equivalence advocates. Please compile a list similar to the one below of similar bombings and other attacks taking place in and around churches since 1980. The shootings by Muslims in Pakistani churches, as well as the destruction of churches by Muslims in Indonesia and Nigeria, don’t count: this must be Christian-on-Christian violence. Send your lists to director@jihadwatch.org.

From AP, with thanks to Bob:

BAGHDAD (AP) — At least 648 people were killed in a stampede on a bridge Wednesday when panic engulfed a Shiite religious procession amid rumors that a suicide bomber was about to attack, officials said. It appeared to be the single biggest loss of life in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. Scores jumped or were pushed to their deaths into the Tigris River, while others were crushed in the crowd. Most of the dead were women and children, Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said.
Deadly incidents in Islam

Wednesday’s stampede is far from the first fatal accident to befall Islamic religious ceremonies:

Aug. 31, 2005: At least 648 Shiite worshippers taking part in annual commemoration of a saint’s death are killed in a stampede on a bridge in Baghdad, with many trampled or tumbling into the Tigris River.

March 10, 2005: A suicide bomber blows himself up at a Shiite mosque during a funeral in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least 47 people and wounding more than 100.

Dec. 19, 2004: Car bombs tore through a Najaf funeral procession and Karbala’s main bus station, killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 120 in the two Shiite holy cities.

March 2, 2004: Coordinated blasts from suicide bombers, mortars and planted explosives strike Shiite Muslim shrines in Karbala and in Baghdad, killing at least 181 and wounding 573.

Feb. 1 2004: 251 Muslim pilgrims killed in stampede in Saudi Arabian city of Mina during the stoning ritual at the annual Muslim pilgrimage.

Aug. 29, 2003: A car bomb explodes outside mosque in Najaf, killing more than 85 people, including Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. Although officials never gave a final death toll, there were suspicions it may have been higher.

July 4, 2003: Gunmen in the Pakistani city of Quetta storm a Shiite Muslim mosque packed with prayer worshippers, killing about 50 and wounding hundreds.

March 5, 2001: 35 hajj pilgrims killed in stampede during stoning of the devil ritual in Mina.

April 9, 1998: Some 180 pilgrims trampled to death when panic erupted after several fell off an overpass during the stoning of the devil ritual in Mina….

May 23, 1994: 270 pilgrims killed in a stampede in Saudi Arabia’s holiest city, Mecca, as worshippers surged toward a cavern for the symbolic ritual of “stoning the devil.”

July 9, 1990: 1,426 pilgrims killed in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Mecca. It is the worst hajj-related tragedy.

July 31, 1987: 402 people, mostly Iranian pilgrims, killed and 649 wounded in the Saudi city of Mecca when security forces clash with Iranians staging an anti-U.S. demonstration.”

This is all a direct quote from Jihad Watch.

But it was all stuff I found important.

A Day of Prayer

The LA governor has announced a Day of Prayer.

“As we face the devastation wrought by Katrina, as we search for those in need, as we comfort those in pain and as we begin the long task of rebuilding, we turn to God for strength, hope and comfort.

“I have declared August 31, 2005, a Day of Prayer in the State of Louisiana.

“I am asking that all of Louisiana take some time Wednesday to pray. Pray for the victims and the rescuers. Please pray that God give us all the physical and spiritual strength to work through this crisis and rebuild.

“Please pray for patience for those anxiously waiting to hear from family members or to get word about their homes. Pray for the safety of our hard-working rescuers and those they are bringing to safety.

“I know, by praying together on Wednesday, that we can pull together and draw strength we need; strength, that only God can give us.

“In my prayers, I will also thank God for the strong and resilient people of this state and how they are working to meet this challenge.”

This would be a good time for all of us to pray for those hurt by the hurricane, not just Louisianans.

Update: In addition to other things they are doing, my church called for us to join with those in Louisiana in praying for the Katrina survivors and the families of those who did not survive and those who are working to put these cities, towns, and counties/parishes back into working order. I was pleased to do so.

Research Wrong

I mentioned before that 1/3 of medical studies are wrong. Turns out there is less than a 50% chance that a scientific paper is true.

This is significant because a paper is what scientists publish in journals to give the information from their studies. And these papers are what the next person relies on to assume information and build upon.

Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.

“We should accept that most research findings will be refuted. Some will be replicated and validated. The replication process is more important than the first discovery,” Ioannidis says.

In the paper, Ioannidis does not show that any particular findings are false. Instead, he shows statistically how the many obstacles to getting research findings right combine to make most published research wrong.

…But Solomon Snyder, senior editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, US, says most working scientists understand the limitations of published research.

“When I read the literature, I’m not reading it to find proof like a textbook. I’m reading to get ideas. So even if something is wrong with the paper, if they have the kernel of a novel idea, that’s something to think about,” he says.

However, as I said above, the papers are used as stepping stones. If you step on a stone and it turns out later it was a lily pad, then you’re sunk in a big lake without any useful information for all the time and money you put in.

WMDs Were Found

“However, did you know that WMD were found in Iraq? Not just a couple…but lots of them.”

A mother who lost her son in Iraq was interviewed on Fox News had this to say: “I have seen photos of entire fighter jets buried in the sand. I have seen pictures of entire caches of weapons that just my son’s unit would uncover.” I wonder why we never hear much about that one? Here’s also a nice little list of what was found:

-500 tons…that’s right…TONS…make that 1million pounds of yellow cake uranium. It was found at Saddam’s nuclear weapons facility (yup…he had one of those too.)

-1.8 tons of partially enriched uranium found at the same place. You know, the stuff you need to make nukes.

-Hidden centrifuge parts and blueprints.

-Two dozen artillery shells loaded with Sarin and mustard gas.

Sounds like WMD to me! You may want to print this off and impress your friends with your knowledge.

Okay, I put it on my blog, but surely that makes me as impressive as anyone who put it on a piece of print media!

I am so tired of Cindy S- saying we didn’t find anything and, of course, she is simply echoing the party line. (And once in a while adding anti-Semitic rhetoric.)

Know that we found this stuff and say so the next time someone says, “We didn’t find any WMD.” Also, when they say that Hussein wasn’t trying to buy anything in Africa, we know that is a lie made up by the guy who actually proved that he did.

The above source quotes this info from mainstream media, so they can’t disavow their own news. (Or can they?)

I found this via Posted in Politics/Military

CS Folks Think It’s Easy

When my wife and I first met, she asked me what I did for a living. I explained that I was a software engineer. She was impressed, and assumed that it was a very difficult job, requiring exceptional skill. I told her that I thought you could almost teach chimpanzees to do it. I was exaggerating for dramatic effect, but my perception was that the skills that I had were really very widespread.

I’ve since found out that not ony can’t you teach chimps to do this, you can’t even teach a lot of very smart people to do this. My wife is a very bright, very thoughtful, very logical person. With my encouragement, she took a programming class when she was attending Santa Rosa Junior College. For reasons that I could not understand, this very smart woman that I am married to just didn’t get it–and I’ve discovered that she is not alone in this respect. It is apparently somewhat harder to learn how to program, at even a very simple level, than I realized.

This quote is from the August 18th post called “Economic Ignorance” on Clayton Cramer’s blog.

The reason why it is quoted here on my blog is that this is the same attitude that my beloved software engineer husband has. He assumes that if he can do it, anyone can do it, without really realizing the myriad specialized skills he has learned since he started programming an Apple IIe millenium (okay, decades) ago. But he ought to know better. Just because he’s brilliant doesn’t mean we all are. I mean, I have “Jurassic Park disease.”*

*JPd is the ability to make unreplicatable bugs over and over, the ability to crash computers while simply opening applications, and the ability to not have a clue what a person is talking about when they are explaining “the basics.”

Movie Posts

I’ve seen the idea on Intellecutelle.

List movie quotes that have become a part of your family’s vocabulary.

“My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

“I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“My precious.” (Which weirds me out when my youngest does it.)

Smokers in The Tipping Point

Smokers have a typical personality. Extrovert, into risk, impulsive, gets angry easily, likes parties, has many friends to talk to, has sex more often (40% more often in college)… They are indifferent to others’ opinions and they are defiant. Just the kind of person an adolescent would be attracted to. And just the kind of person likely to smoke. I’ve never heard this before.

The tobacco industry, for instance, has been pilloried for years for denying that nicotine is addictive. That position, of course, is ridiculous. But the opposite notion often put forth by anti-smoking advocates– that nicotine is a deadly taskmaster that enslaves all who come in contact with it– is equally ridiculous. Of all the teenages who experiment with cigarettes, only about a third ever go on to smoke regularly. Nicotine may be highly addictive, but it is only addictive to some people, some of the time.

This is exactly the point I have been trying to make with my children about alcohol. (We have alcoholism on both sides of the family.) Originally my parents and now my husband, none of whom drink much, accuse me of “brainwashing” the boys by telling them that alcohol is bad for them. Now, I have told them that. I’ve also told them that Paul recommended wine to Timothy for his stomach. But I have said, basically, that alcohol depresses your brain, making you not know what is going on. And, in that state, you forget important things. On top of that, in addition to that, my children are genetically predisposed to alcoholism. I’ve also told them that it is dangerous for them to drink because they don’t know which drink, the first, the seven thousandth, will put them over the edge into alcoholism. I don’t consider that brainwashing. I consider that education. And my children are smarter than I was. They wouldn’t get in the car when my brother had been drinking. But I did. And they called me on it. Thank God my “brainwashing” has worked so far! Of course, they’re young. They may decide to be defiant risk-takers and drink. I hope not, though.

Another point Gladwell makes about smoking is that it is strongly correlated with depression. Four members of my birth family are on Prozac, none of my nuclear family are. And none of this group of people are smokers. But apparently Prozac makes your brain make more serotonin, one of the chemicals depressed people are low on. And smoking makes the brain make more dopamine and norepinepherine. So smoking is a non-medicinal way to treat depression.

Also, if the smoker stops smoking, they are more likely to have clinical problems. So, if you are a smoker and want to quit, one of the things you need to be prepared for is depression. For smokers only Zyban, from Glaxo Wellcom, will work. Prozac won’t. Neither will Zoloft. They don’t act like nicotine does, and therefore they don’t help the smoker. But Zyban hits both kinds of chemicals, making it easier for the smoker to quit.

To read this for yourself, Gladwell starts on page 227 with the full in-depth discussion of smoking. The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point- new and old

This post is going to be in draft mode until my husband finishes the book. It is his book and I really shouldn’t be reading it. In 17 years together, I have only read two of his books before he read it. Once without his permission. Which I haven’t done again until this one. And once with his permission.

I want to talk about the book, but I don’t want to impinge on his reading of it. And I don’t want to upset him with my take.

At this point I am over halfway through and I believe that this book is primarily, not entirely, but primarily, a reiteration of other people’s ideas in either a new way or in a new grouping. R seems to have a fascination with exactly that kind of book. I tend to go, “Oh, I heard that already.” And then I don’t respect the book as much as R does. Most of the ideas in the book I have heard before. I will admit, though, that R’s first quotation and the implications he got from it, gave me a more positive take on the book. Also, as R says, the information is presented in a new way and that makes it more useful.

The Broken Window. This is the idea, and it works in a neighborhood and in a single home, that a single small, seemingly insignificant thing– like a broken window–will usher in a vast negative atmosphere. One broken window will become two, six, seventy, in short order. And crime will follow. I find that if all the rooms I have responsibility for are clean, most of the other rooms are cleaner. (I won’t say clean. I wouldn’t want to lie. But cleaner.)

Then there is the “group of 12.” This is the idea that you can be good friends, close friends with only 12 people. And that’s not a bad thing. I’ve heard this idea often. But Gladwell presents it in a different way. He says, “Write down the names of the people that you would be devastated if they died.” That’s your 12, he tells you. Fascinating presentation.

Suicides in the paper. Okay, I don’t think I knew this. Micronesia has 160 teen suicides per 100,000. US has 12 per 100,000. Big difference. It’s become “fashionable” in Micronesia to be a male teen and kill yourself. But a similar phenomenon happens in the US. When the newspapers print a famous suicide article, there are 10 days of higher suicides and higher traffic fatalities. (Death by car.)

So maybe, just maybe, the newspapers should stop printing suicide stories. –They might say it is news. Yes, but if it hurts people why do it? They might argue that those people would commit suicide anyway. Not true, otherwise the averages would be down for an extended period until the average caught up. But that’s not how it works.

Then there is the presentation on people growing up. Is it nature or nurture? Well, it seems that it is 50% one and 50% the other. But it’s not your parents that provide the nurture. It’s your peers. (How does this work with homeschoolers? Are we as parents more likely to be our children’s nurturing because they are with us so much more in so many different settings?) It doesn’t matter if you have books in the house, whatever, it’s the friends the kids have that matters.

Word for the Day: Excoriate

I recognized this word when Stephen J. Cannell used it and I understood what it meant. But today, when I mentioned it in class, I could not remember what it meant.

So… Here’s the definition.

To tear or wear off the skin of; abrade.
To censure strongly; denounce: an editorial that excoriated the administration for its inaction.

Poverty Rises

Matthew Yglesias writes that the economy is atrocious. He bases this, in part, on on this article which says that poverty has risen for the fourth year in a row. I went and read the article. It included some positive points.

“Commerce Department spokeswoman E.R. Anderson said they mirror a trend in the ’80s and ’90s in which unemployment peaks were followed by peaks in poverty and then by a decline in the poverty numbers the next year.”

I hope that is it.

“The number of people without health insurance coverage grew from 45 million to 45.8 million last year, but the number of people with health insurance grew by 2 million.”

Was the number with health insurance so large they didn’t want to tell us about it?

Okay. The government census does say poverty is increasing.

The poverty rate in 2004 (12.7 percent) was 9.7 percentage points lower than in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available (Figure 3). From the most recent trough in 2000 both the number and rate have risen for four consecutive years, from 31.6 million and 11.3 percent in 2000, to 37.0 million and 12.7 percent in 2004 respectively.

I hope it is a sign we are “on the road to a turnaround.”

The article does not try to minimize the problem, but does offer some perspective.

The poverty rate in 2004 (12.7 percent) was 9.7 percentage points lower than in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available (Figure 3). From the most recent trough in 2000 both the number and rate have risen for four consecutive years, from 31.6 million and 11.3 percent in 2000, to 37.0 million and 12.7 percent in 2004 respectively.

Ancient Appetite Suppressant

Archaeologists investigating an ancient hospital site founded by Augustinian monks about 845 years ago have found evidence that they used to chew on the bitter vetch plant to stave off hunger pains.

…After months of research and excavation experts have identified the remains of plant tubers belonging to lathyrus linifolius, the bitter vetch plant, in the drains of a 12th century monastery at Soutra Aisle, south of Edinburgh.

…The monks, who used to run the religious retreat as a hospital and medieval medical research facility, are believed to have used the plant extracts to make a potion to stave off hunger.

“According to more than 300 reports, these tiny tubers, which have a leathery liquorice taste, were chewed to help people forget to eat and drink,” said Brian Moffat, the director of the Soutra Aisle dig. “They feel no need to eat and drink and this lasts for weeks, sometimes into months.” It is believed the appetite suppressing potion was used to help their patients lose weight or cope with the effects of a failed harvest.

Fascinating stuff our ancestors knew.

from the Independent via Cronaca

Businesses Creating Schools

Rather than waiting for a troubled school district to fix itself, nearly a dozen housing developers in Aurora are taking matters into their own hands, proposing a network of specialized schools – maybe even their own district – to lure tens of thousands of suburban homeowners.

…Experts say it has the potential to drastically recast the future of public education.

These developers, who collectively own thousands of acres east of E-470, see the need to create attractive schools as a business decision: The better the schools, the more valuable and attractive homes are to families.

In the past several months, the developers have enlisted local education foundations, recruited two retired high-level Denver Public Schools administrators as consultants and stitched together a network of powerful business interests to develop a plan to serve close to 24,000 new students within 20 years.

They’ve concocted a fairly sophisticated proposal that calls for pre-kindergarten programs, schools that teach character and options for online education.

And while most of the developers say it would be nice to cooperate with Aurora Public Schools in this venture, they’re fully prepared to take this as far as they need to get what they want – including creating a charter school district.

I am glad that businesses are becoming involved in education. We need a change from bureacratic creation of public schools. I don’t know if this will work, but it’s an attempt, which is more than many people make.


My baby sister wrecked my dad’s RV, so she called me and asked if I could pick her up this morning and take her home. So I did. I got up before I would normally have to, drove my car over there, picked her up, took her to her house across town (62 miles), and came home again.

She didn’t offer to pay for my gas. Her dog pooped in my car.

Somedays it makes you wonder if you really wanted family.

Children at Church

Starting with why a church should have multiple services this article rafts through a variety of topics. Under “Padded Cow” came a discussion of children’s classrooms at church.

As you walk in the building, you quickly spy the “launch zone.” Mom checks you in, you get a name tag, and then you hop onto a bright orange slide that swirls you around and around until you pop out in your classroom. And it’s not just any classroom. The carpet has solar systems and stars, the ceiling is dark purple, and a 7-foot-tall spaceship is in the corner. Behind you are some ball-throwing activities and a large penguin in a spacesuit. You see moving lights and a planetlike stage with a star field—made to seem real by twinkling fiber-optic lights.

In another room, a 30-foot-long metal airplane structure hangs from the ceiling. The chairs are set up on the landing strip, and the teachers wear purple camouflage pants. The control tower at the back of the room has Nintendo machines for early arrivers.

The nursery resembles a train station, complete with a train-car changing table. The preschool room is the Construction Zone and features a two-story, partially built building. Kids wear playful hard hats and watch puppets in the customized construction trailer.

Two-year-olds go to The Farm. They have their own farm-tractor slide, garden, and recessed seating for Bible stories. And when you walk into their room, you’re greeted by a life-size padded cow.

Are we describing a children’s museum or library? Nope. It’s the All Stars Children’s Center at Granger Community Church, a dream born from a desire to have a high-impact, interactive, and engaging children’s ministry. We wanted a space that shouts “We love children!” and causes kids to bring their friends to church with them. (Check out the photo gallery at www.gccwired.com.)

Several underlying beliefs led us to the decision to make our children’s rooms a priority:

• Belief 1—Kids matter to God. They’re making decisions that will determine the course of their lives. Statistics tell us that most spiritual life decisions are made during childhood.

• Belief 2—Kids learn better in spaces that are engaging and child-friendly than they do in institutional or neutral-colored rooms.

• Belief 3—Parents care about their kids. They want them to have great experiences. That’s why they spend thousands of dollars taking them to Disneyland every year.

• Belief 4—The potential for life change in parents during a church service is in direct proportion to how well they believe their children are being cared for. If they have any anxiety about their kids, they won’t be able to focus and may miss what God wants to do in their hearts.

• Belief 5—The pastor cannot compete, regardless of his or her oratorical ability, with the undeniable cuteness of a child. Providing a great space for kids—somewhere else—enhances the experience for every adult in the auditorium.

• Belief 6—Volunteers are more likely to serve children in a room that is fun, engaging, interactive, and exciting than they are in a room that’s boring and drab. Why? Because they don’t feel like they have to bring all the fun and excitement with them; it’s already built into the environment. They can just offer themselves.

A highly engaging and effective children’s center doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If you make the commitment to develop kid-friendly space, the creative people in your congregation can do a lot with colors, patterns, and textures.

Start with the commitment, do what you can, and add more later. The padded cow can be a goal, but you can start with a painted mural of a Black Angus farm. (Is it obvious that we live in Indiana?)

Honestly, I have trouble committing to teaching at church and I am a teacher by heart, by desire, by vocation.

Excellent Op-Ed on Immigration

A citizen of the United States is a native-born, foreign-born, or naturalized person who owes allegiance to the United States and who is entitled to its protection.
— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

America has been invaded by an army of illegal aliens who are quickly gaining more rights than Americans. Last week in Arizona, an American had to surrender his land to illegal aliens who claimed he had assaulted them. The two criminals were caught trespassing on his property after crossing the border in violation of federal law.
In return for our allegiance to the United States, we certainly don’t get the protection we’re entitled to. Illegal immigration costs American taxpayers billions of dollars every year. In California alone the cost is $10.5 billion annually. The price for the rest of the country, especially border states, is staggeringly incomprehensible. Illegal immigration is also a public safety risk because aliens undergo no medical screening before entering. As a result, diseases once eradicated or virtually eradicated have resurged. Where is the so-called protection we’re entitled to?
According to the 2000 Census, an estimated 8 million illegal aliens were living in the U.S., and 1 million a year continue flooding across the border. Mexican citizens are required to have either a non-immigration visa or Border Crossing Card to enter the country, and no immigrant is to be admitted unless he has suitable and valid travel documentation. In violation of federal law, millions of foreigners don’t possess these documents. Outlaws.
Detractors will ask, “Do you really expect the government to round up each illegal alien and kick him out?” In a word, yes. The money spent educating, imprisoning and providing health care to criminal aliens should be diverted to reinforcing the borders and enforcing immigration law.

I agreed with it so much, I sent an email to President Bush about it. You could too. The more they hear, the more they’ll listen.


Homeschooling this year is being done according to a syllabus. The hope is that each of the boys will know exactly what they have to do. It will also encourage me to keep them on track so we don’t spend the summer playing catch up. Hopefully, it will also encourage R to participate in homeschooling by allowing him to know what they were supposed to be doing and asking about it.

There is a lot of work to do each day.

M has several subjects:
I’m still iffy on spelling. I had it in there, but that’s nine subject areas a day. And it doesn’t include grammar.

New Orleans

We prayed in church this morning for the people in the path of the hurricane and the city of New Orleans. I want God to cup his hands and send those fierce winds somewhere else– into water and not land. As Jesus said on the Sea of Galilee, I want God to say, “Peace. Be still.” And I want the winds and the waves to obey him.

God, please protect the people.