Archive for September, 2009

In case you missed them

September 16, 2009

Here are two undercover videos exposing corruption in ACORN – coast-to-coast


Cot-side chat on ACORN

September 16, 2009

Tired of politics?

September 15, 2009

Raspberry-Jam-445I am a bit tired of it today (it DOES happen, LOL), so I thought I’d share two of my favorite jam recipes, seeing how we’re in the middle of canning season….Trust me – they are yummy.

Raspberry-jalapeno jam

5 cups frozen or fresh raspberries
1 cup finely chopped jalapenos
juice of one lime
1 box pectin
6 cups sugar
½ tsp. butter (to reduce foaming)

Combine first 4 ingredients and bring to boil over high heat. Add sugar, return to hard rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and ladle into jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean, put on warmed lid. Screw ring on finger-tight. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Yield: About 4 1/2 pints.

Rosy Peach-Banana Jam

1 c. mashed fully ripe bananas (about 3 med. sized)
3 1/4 c. mashed fully ripe peaches (about 2 lbs. peaches, peeled)
1/2 c. drained chopped maraschino cherries
2 tbsp. lemon juice
6 c. sugar
1 box powdered fruit pectin

Put prepared fruit and lemon juice into a large saucepan; mix. Measure sugar into a bowl; set aside. Mix pectin into fruit in saucepan. Stir and cook over high heat until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Immediately add and stir in the sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil; stirring constantly, boil rapidly 1 minute.

Remove from heat; skim foam with metal spoon and then stir and skim for 5 minutes, to cool slightly and prevent floating fruit. Immediately ladle into sterilized jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of top. Wipe top of jars, put on hot lids, then rings. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes (at 4500 feet). Shake if needed during cooling process to distribute fruit throughout jam. Enjoy!

Municipal elections

September 15, 2009

Remember that today is the primary – get out and vote!!

Finding Hope

September 11, 2009

from a 9/11 survivor

Is print media on its way out?

September 10, 2009

I readcitizen journalist an editorial the other day that made me proud to be a “citizen journalist”, aka blogger.  It was written by the editor of a hard-copy magazine – Backwoods Home –  but the title was this: “The destruction of the mass print media will help save freedom in America”.  Certainly a provocative title, especially to my friends who are journalists, I am sure.  Dave Duffy starts this way:

“I tend to be an optimist, even though the state of America’s economy and politics does not appear very promising right now. So I want to talk about an optimistic trend in society, one that I believe offers the best hope for the future, especially for the future of individual freedom in America.”

He then goes on to talk about the death of newspapers and magazines in America. The New York Times has reported recently that nearly all major newspapers and magazines in America are losing circulation. A telecommunications professor at NYU complained first on his website (how ironic), then in the Utne Reader that the demise of America’s major publications was “leading to chaos in the way news is delivered to readers, thus depriving people of the ‘journalism that we need’.”

There are plenty of folks – professors and otherwise – that believe that the Internet and Web 2.0 tools are changing the face of reporting in the US.  A case in point – the Twitter explosion over the elections in Iran.  One tweet from Tehran said “the American media may not care, but the American people do”.  That’s significant for a people who has been told the US is the “great Satan”.   Another very recent example is the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, NBC and CBS coverage of Van Jones.  If you are read blogs, are on Facebook or Twitter,  I’m pretty sure you knew about Van Jones and the controversy swirling around him before he resigned.  But – the above-mentioned media never reported on it until AFTER the resignation was complete.

Duffy did concede that there are a few print publications that are thriving – Consumer Reports and The Wall Street Journal, to name two. Duffy postulates that the few thriving print publications are doing so because they have content worth reading. “Now that readers have a choice where they get their information, why pay for biased reporting”, he says, “when you can get it free on the Internet”. Both publications also have extensive Internet sites.

He goes on to say that the New York Times and many other college professors and journalists are not only confused and alarmed by the decline of the print publication industry, but are in denial. The invention of the Internet, “just like the invention of the printing press in the 16th century, has reshuffled the deck when it comes to who controls the news and information to which ordinary people have access.”

He explains that he believes that the mass media is “losing its power to control the news” and that a new type of journalism – citizen journalism – is taking hold.

He says “I believe that it will lead to the salvation of freedom in America because more people will become better informed about what is really happening in the country.” He says that those railing against the “unpredictable nature” of the Internet are people who assume that others can’t think for themselves and that they all need to be told what what’s what by REAL journalists.

So what do you think? Is print media on its way out? Will “citizen journalism” replace the MSM (mainstream media)? Which will give you the “real” story? Do you take both sides and arrive at truth in the middle? Looking forward to your responses….

President Obama’s address

September 8, 2009

From the White House: Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama Back to School Event, Arlington, Virginia September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

(Nicely done, Mr. President)

Charity begins at home

September 6, 2009

…and Utahns are the most charitable in the nation. According to an article published in the  Deseret News, by analyzing US taxcharitable giving returns, Utahns gave almost $3 billion in charity, or 5% of the combined gross income for the state, compared to 2.3% for the rest of the nation. Only itemized tax returns were included, so anyone who took the standard deduction was not included in this assessment. Also not counted are such things as hours volunteered by youth coaches and Sunday School teachers, bequests from estates or money sent by residents to people in such places as Mexico or Africa.

Many of the charitable dollars in Utah go to the LDS church, in the form of tithing and monthly fast offerings. Other organizations say they can face a harder time fundraising for their programs, but because the LDS church is such a major donor to many programs, a lot of it evens out in the end. Deborah Bayle, president and CEO of the United Way of Salt Lake said “Because of the LDS Church’s welfare system, they take care of a lot of the issues that other nonprofits would take care of in other communities. So all in all, I think it all works out.”

Having a bit harder time are the political parties in Utah. State GOP chairman, Dave Hansen was quoted as saying “Obviously, the LDS Church garners a great proportion of that (overall) money. Everybody has a disposable amount of income they can give to various charities or political groups. Charities tend to come first, and there’s probably nothing wrong with that,” even though the GOP finds it a bit hard to raise money here in part because Utahns give so much to churches.

State Democratic chair, Todd Taylor also finds political fundraising difficult: “There’s no question that Utah, by and large, does not have a culture of political giving“. But he doesn’t necessarily blame that on large amounts given to the LDS Church – Utahns “are giving of their money here when asked”, he said.

It was also interesting to note the the top givers are not the top income bracket, and the ones who give the smallest percentage are not the lowest income bracket. According to the Deseret News analysis,

The income bracket that gives the most to charity — 6 percent of income — are those who earn between $100,000 and 200,000 a year.
But that is not the top income bracket. That is for those who make more than $200,000. But they actually pay a little less to charity, 5.69 percent of their income.
The bracket that pays the least, just 1.5 percent of income to charity, are those who make between $10,000 and $25,000.
But they are not the poorest income bracket. Below them are those who earn less than $10,000 a year. But they give more to charity, 3.2 percent of their income.

Hats off to my fellow Utahns for their voluntary giving.

The Power and Danger of Iconography

September 6, 2009

Herbert and Ruzicka on Obama’s address

September 5, 2009

They are fine with President Obama’s planned address to the nation’s students this coming Tuesday.  In an interview with the Deseret News, Governor Herbert said “I think it’s great. To hear from the president of the United States is an important thing.  I’d like to hear what he has to say.”

The governor suggests that parents take the opportunity to discuss the issues with their children, hear what the president’s views are and what his vision is for the future of America.   Herbert said. “If they agree, then explain that. If they disagree, explain to their children why.”

Gayle Ruzicka, president of Utah’s Eagle Forum said she doesn’t see a problem with the speech if it really is just about education, but if it carries other messages, that’s a problem.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune, she said

“I do believe whoever the president is that’s speaking to school children, parents do need to find out what the speech is about,” Ruzicka said. “Is it going to be political speech or is it going to be a patriotic speech? We have an obligation to our children to find out what they’re being taught.”

This speech – following on the heels of the video showing celebrities saying they pledge to be servants of Obama – got national attention, with officials from the Alpine, Jordan, Canyons and Granite school districts say they have fielded complaints from concerned parents. Nationally, the Virginia State Superintendent is urging schools “to make reasonable accommodations for students whose parents may object.” In Texas, parents are threatening to boycott schools, according to The Houston Chronicle. And in Florida, the head of the state Republican Party labeled the address an inappropriate “indoctrination” to the President’s “socialist” agenda.

Since word first went out about this speech, the Washington Times reported that the White House has pulled its recommendations that the students write a paper on “how to help the president” and are changing the lesson plans that go with the presidential address. Watch for it to be YouTubed within minutes of its completion. My guess is it will be pretty neutral.

For those who thing that it’s silly for people to be concerned, I’ll remind you that when President Bush addressed ONE school in 1991, with no additional lesson plans produced, then House Majority leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) said “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students.” Two House committees demanded that the department explain the use of its funds for the speech and Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), chairwoman of the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families, said it was outrageous for the White House to “start using precious dollars for campaigns” when “we are struggling for every silly dime we can get” for education programs.  Still waiting to hear them complain about Tuesday’s speech to the entire nation…..

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