30 May 2007

Improving Education: More Science, More Arts

A business magazine/website is probably not the first place you'd think to find an article supporting the importance of arts in education, but here it is.

Want a second opinion? Here's a recent NEA study that shows the arts mean a lot more than good business.

Unfunded Mandate for Ohio Schools?

OHDave questions the value of Jarod's Law, about to go into effect this fall in Ohio. The law had good intentions but its real-world effect may be little more than diverting resources away from actual education.

An important issue for anyone concerned about education. Go read.

28 May 2007

Memorial Day Post: Honoring Charles Drew

It's normal to remember and honor veterans on Memorial Day, but there are others who should also be remembered and honored for their sacrifices and contributions during wartime. Journalists and medics, for example, rarely get the regard they deserve. The families who hid Jews in their homes during the holocaust are another example. And intelligence agents will probably always toil in anonymity.

Today I'd like to call attention to one man who may have saved more soldiers' lives than anyone else; a man whose name most people have probably never heard.

Charles Drew was born in 1904 in Washington, D.C. As a student he distinguished himself academically and athletically, eventually earning an athletic scholarship to Amherst College. After college he went to medical school and then after that he continued postgraduate studies at Columbia, earning a D.Sc. degree in 1940. The title of his dissertation was "Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation".

Drew's timely discovery, on the cusp of WWII, was that blood could be stored and reconstituted if the cells and plasma were separated. At the time, the British were being bombed by the Nazis and were in desperate need for blood. They tried Drew's method, delivering the blood on "bloodmobiles"-- trucks outfitted with refrigeration systems.

It worked, and the U.S. asked him to do the same for the American military as well. He organized the entire system of blood drives, storage, and transfusion. He was appointed director of the Red Cross Blood Bank in NYC.

It's hard to overestimate the number of lives all over the world that were saved-- then as well as now-- because of Charles Drew's work. The most frequent cause of death in war is shock, i.e. loss of blood.

But here's the bitter irony: if Charles Drew himself had needed blood from the blood bank of which he was the director, he would not have received it. Because at the time, the military insisted on separating blood by race. And Charles Drew was black. And blacks weren't allowed to donate blood or receive "white" blood.

Drew railed against the military's unscientific policy and was asked to leave the project. He accepted a position at Howard University (which, ironically, had rejected him for medical school 13 years earlier because he didn't have enough English credits). He continued to be a successful surgeon, researcher, and educator. He died in a car accident in 1950 at the age of 45.

25 May 2007

A Brief History of Immigration (Don't Tell Lou Dobbs)

A very interesting and informative look into the history of Chinese immigration and integration into Canadian society. The CBC has separated the story into a series of video segments, ranging from a few to several minutes.

Watching it, I couldn't help but note the obvious parallels to America's current immigration bugbear. I felt a little bit like I was not only watching the past in Canada, but peeking into the future in America. It's quite good and well worth the time, even if you are Lou Dobbs.

Dummocrats, part deux

A couple of days ago I wrote a post slamming the Democratic establishment. Today OHDave points us to a few more Ohio bloggers fed up with the nonsense.

Almost 2 years ago I linked to an article by Gary Hart in which he basically expressed the same sentiments. An excerpt:

History will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war... But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on? My generation of Democrats jumped on the hot stove of Vietnam and now, with its members in positions of responsibility, it is afraid of jumping on any political stove.

The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating "Stay the course" even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken.

Again, that was almost 2 years ago. Will we be saying the same thing about the same Party in another 2 years?

23 May 2007

Strickland, Chabot Look in Different Places for Gas Price Relief

The Daily Briefing reports:

Ted Strickland has joined 16 other Democratic governors in signing a letter to President Bush urging him to take action to help address rising prices at the pump.

The governors are asking the president to support federal legislation that would penalize gas-price gouging and order federal agencies to pursue anti-trust and commodities violations.

The letter from the governors also urges Bush to press oil companies to invest profits in expanding capacity at refineries, often blamed as a reason supplies aren't keeping pace with demand and causing prices to spike.

The governors also want more work done to pursue alternative energy sources and conservation.

Steve Chabot also sponsored legislation (H.R. 2264, passed yesterday by the House) to ease the gas price burden, but he didn't look to the President, the oil & gas companies, or the refiners. Chabot's bill (funnily called "NOPEC") would "make it illegal for countries to collude to artificially set high prices and limit the production of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product."

Chabot's press release does say “While it is important to target the anti-competitive practices of these price-fixing oil cartels, we must continue to press for increased domestic energy output, better alternative energy sources and greater energy efficiency.”

I'm sure he'll get right on that just as soon as his campaign donors start feeling the pinch as bad as Strickland's donors are.

22 May 2007


It's an indication of just how seriously off-kilter the GOP is that I hardly have time to point out how pathetic and incompetent the Dummocrats are. But they are, as exemplified by these two items that recently came to my attention:

First is this bit from WaPo (via the PD's Openers blog) which tells us that majority leader (ahem) Harry Reid tried to get Martin Sheen to run against Mike DeWine last year. I suppose I should feel grateful that he didn't want Charlie.

Secondly, I was forwarded an email yesterday that was written by someone at DFA. Their questionable idea:

...this Impeach Gonzales campaign is going to be a big thing for us. We will be pushing this quite a bit for the next several days... We need to really expand our reach on this one. All week, DFA members need to call in to radio shows and talk about the petition.

A petition? Wow, nothing brings Congress to its knees like a petition. I wonder if it will be as effective as all the other petitions.

And expanding our reach? This is especially funny (i.e. sad) because the email suggests calling Air America radio. I guess I don't understand how sharing your ideas with people who share your ideas is expanding your reach.

It's hard for me to decide which of these two things is more disappointing. I'm not a fan of Harry Reid, but this Martin Sheen idea is so nutty that it fails to meet even my already low expectations. That's very disappointing.

But DFA is a grassroots organization, not a group of beltway operatives detached from reality. At least that's what it's supposed to be. But I suppose when a grassroots organization is based in Washington and staffed by beltway politicos, you get the kind of ideas that come from beltway politicos. That's also very disappointing.

Allow me to offer a few other suggestions that might actually have a snowball's chance:

Email your Representative. If you can get friends and family to do the same, all the better. Impeachment is a process of Congress, not talk radio.

Write to your local newspaper. It doesn't matter whether it's a community press or large metro paper; send them something. And make sure you know how to write a LTE first.

Contact corporate media. Tell them you've heard about impeachable offenses and you want to know more about it and what is being done. All the networks have email contacts.

Call conservative talk shows. There is no point in telling people who want to impeach Gonzales why they should impeach Gonzales. Make inroads with the dittoheads, not the Deaniacs.

21 May 2007

Music: It's in the Genes

Translating genetic code to musical notes? It's been tried before, and I've seen research articles about it but I've never actually heard the results.

This site from UCLA researchers describes their method and has some MIDI examples.

The truly enthralled can even email their own genetic sequences and they'll convert it to music for you!

I Am Not Making This Up, vol. 2

The problem:

When your child has a cold with a runny stuffed nose, it can be frustrating when they can not blow their own nose. Congestion interferes with sleep, feeding and makes for an overall cranky child, and parent too.

The solution: Nosefrida.

19 May 2007

Electronic Invention of the Week

The days of adhesive paper name tags may be numbered, if this company has its way. It's developed an electronic name tag that works like a low tech PDA, beaming and receiving information between two people in conversation.

It's marketed towards business meetings and professional conferences, but I can easily see the same technology being used for personal information exchange (that's marketing talk for "hooking up"). It's hardly a stretch to imagine watches or iPods using this technology to beam and receive information between people whose paths cross during the day. Later, a person can look and see if he/she passed anyone who might be compatible (likes the same movies or music, works across the street, just moved into town, etc.).

18 May 2007

Why Does Paul Daugherty Hate Cincinnati?

This week, local sports reporter Paul Daugherty wrote an article criticizing Reds manager Jerry Narron for the Reds lackluster season.

Firstly, I take issue with Daugherty's characterization that the Reds are losing. Winning a pennant takes time. Yes, there will be obstacles and problems along the way, but baseball is a complex game in the 21st century and many of those problems are impossible to predict, even by experts. That's why it's important to stay the course and support Jerry Narron 100%. You play baseball with the team you have, not the team you want. Calling this a losing season is accepting defeat at the hands of our enemies in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and other National League cities.

But I refuse to accept defeat. As far as I'm concerned, the Reds are winning and will be victorious in September unless naysayers like Paul Daugherty have their way. If the Reds don't win the pennant, it will be because of nattering nabobs like him who would rather see defeat than victory. Why does Paul Daugherty want the Reds to be defeated?

The answer is that he does not support the Reds players. If he supported the players, he would know not to criticize their manager. You cannot criticize the manager and say that you support the team.

And why doesn't Paul Daugherty support the team? Because he hates Cincinnati. He would rather see our enemies in St. Louis, New York, and Houston achieve victory than our beloved hometown Reds. That's why he wrote this article. He knows our enemies have internets and can read what is written in Cincinnati. They are surely emboldened by the lack of support.

I hope the Enquirer puts an end to this kind of specious anti-Cincinnati journalism. It's a slippery slope that starts with criticizing the manager and ends with the defeat (and possible destruction) of Cincinnati. If we tolerate the free expression of ideas like this, what will we allow next? Questioning religious authority? Second-guessing a sitting President? Voting for 3rd parties? When will the madness end?

14 May 2007

People Don't Kill, Guns Do?

Last month's issue of the Journal of Trauma (abstract) published a study which correlated suicide rates with gun ownership levels. The authors surveyed all 50 states on a state-by-state basis. They looked at suicide rates and gun ownership levels for each state. The final conclusion was that "[h]ousehold firearm ownership levels are strongly associated with higher rates of suicide, consistent with the hypothesis that the availability of lethal means increases the rate of completed suicide."


They controlled for measures of poverty, urbanization, unemployment, drug and alcohol dependence and abuse, and mental illness... In the 15 states with the highest levels of household gun ownership, twice as many people committed suicide compared with the six states with the lowest levels, even though the population in both groups was about the same.

On one hand, the results are not that surprising. A deeply troubled person with a gun can result in trouble. No epiphany there. But on the other hand, this study suggests that it's the gun, not the "trouble" that is the key factor. That is surprising.

My perspective has always been that once a person commits to suicide, it doesn't matter whether there's a gun or not; he/she will find a way. With a gun, it may be sooner rather than later, but the key factor is the presence of psychopathology, not the availability of firearms. But this study doesn't support that perspective. If it did, the suicide rates would be independent of gun ownership levels.

What interested me about this study is what it may mean for homicides. Like my perspective on suicide, I had thought that gun violence is more the result of psychopathology and cognitive dysfunction (for example, the inability to make moral judgments that most of us take for granted) than availability of guns. For this reason, I was skeptical of extreme gun control measures (i.e. bans) because removing guns doesn't remove the underlying psychopathology. A psychopath who is denied easy guns will eventually find another method of destruction, one that could very possibly be worse. The recent VaTech shootings are as good an example of that as any. Mr. Cho used guns, but if he didn't have the easy access that Virginia prides itself on ensuring, I think it's fairly clear that he would have utilized other means, possibly borrowing a page from Timothy McVeigh.

So maybe I should rethink my perspective. If the availability of guns trumps the presence of psychopathology in suicide victims then maybe it does so for homicide perpetrators as well. And that means that gun control would actually be practical.

10 May 2007

Ugliest Dog, vol. 2

In yesterday's post I referred to the OH-2 GOP primary as an ugliest dog competition. But let's face it, there are a lot of ugly dogs in politics and the most offensively ugly among them are going to be Republicans.

And this fall, one of the most pitifully ugly will come to town to teach young uglies the art of projecting self-loathing.

09 May 2007

Ugliest Dog Competition Comes to OH-2

It's official. Phil Heimlich (R-center of the universe) has filed papers to run against Jean Schmidt (R-scary basement). The Lindners win the GOP primary once again!

There is little anyone can say about these clown college cum laudes that hasn't already been said. I think it's safe to assume that Lindner & friends will fill up Heimlich's coffers and the campaign should be typical GOP fare: tax cuts for Jesus, Democrats are communist, Victoria Wulsin wants everyone to have 7 abortions and then become gay.

On the Dem side, I suppose Wulsin's campaign will once again have to go through the ordeal of trying to extricate the heads of beltway Dems from their consultants' asses and get them to send some resources (and I mean real resources, not some 22-yr old kid who just graduated and is thinking about law school). It didn't work for Hackett in '04 or Wulsin in '06, but maybe the third time's the charm.