April 2007

23 Apr 2007 10:55 pm

At Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and Hermione.

The new trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released today.

It looks awesome. Reading book five was difficult for me chiefly because of the appearance of an extremely, odious character, Dolores Umbridge. This woman, evil bureaucrat extraordinaire, spent all the hours of her days as Dumbledore’s replacement coming up with new and even more sadistic ways to torture Harry and his friends. Here is a description of the loathsome woman.

Umbridge is a short, squat woman described as resembling a large toad. She often wears a black velvet bow in her hair that reminds Harry of a fly about to be caught. She has a high, girlish voice that Harry describes as sounding like poisoned honey. The name Dolores is derived from the Latin word dolor, or pain, and the name itself means ‘Lady of Sorrows’, possibly reflecting her sadistic nature and the misery caused by her actions.

Dolores is a widely used name in Spain, related to the Virgen de los Dolores (a Catholic religious icon), as well as Spanish for “pains/sorrows”. The pronunciation of the name Umbridge closely resembles that of umbrage, a word meaning resentment or pique at an often imagined insult. Her surname may also originate from umbra, the darkest part of a shadow, denoting Umbridge’s shady nature. “Umbra” is also the etymological root for “umbrage.”

Harry and friends return to Hogwarts aboard the Hogwarts Express, sharing a compartment with the rather unusual Luna Lovegood. Back at Hogwarts, Hagrid is absent, and Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, has been appointed by the Ministry as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. She refuses to teach students any practical defense methods, only using textbooks to teach, and it is soon clear she is there only to spy on and take control of the school. She is soon appointed High Inquisitor, intimidating staff and students. She also harbours an intense dislike for half-breeds, centaurs, and similar creatures.

To paraphrase Steven King, Umbridge is the “greatest make-believe villain” to come along since Hillary Clinton. (except she is a villain in reality)

23 Apr 2007 04:26 pm

The singing potty mouth, Sheryl Crow managed to grab some publicity for herself this weekend by joining up with fellow environmental activist, Laurie David to“discuss global warming” with Karl Rove at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and by calling on her website for a ban on using too much toilet paper.

Yeah. Really. Sheryl Crow wants everyone in America to save the environment by using only one square of toilet paper per restroom visit. I’m not kidding. Here is the link.

Singer Sheryl Crow has said a ban on using too much toilet paper should be introduced to help the environment.
Crow has suggested using “only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required”.

The 45-year-old, who made the comments on her website, has just toured the US on a biodiesel-powered bus to raise awareness about climate change.

She teamed up with environmental activist Laurie David for the shows.

The pair targeted 11 university campuses to persuade students to help combat the world’s environmental problems.

Why stop at toilet paper Ms. Crow? In my profession we use toilet paper with chalk pastels but we also use reams of drawing paper, watercolor paper, construction paper, newsprint, extra white sulphite drawing paper, parchment paper for calligraphy, rice paper for woodcuts, origami paper, and soft grey paper for blending pastel, charcoal and pencil.

We also use paper plates for crafts, coffee filters for special projects and, of course, copy paper. Art teachers don’t use half as much copy paper as regular classroom teachers, however.

Many art catalogs sell recycled paper but it doesn’t weather well and has no “teeth” to it. It’s usually more expensive so it’s too much for my budget. We also use brown paper bags for certain events for the younger students.

I could go on but suffice it to say, paper is the lifeblood of art programs in public as well as private elementary schools.

Crow also wants to get rid of paper napkins but I question whether that is really helpful to the environment. Napkins made of fabric need to be laundered. That also requires energy.

I don’t know whether Crow was brought up in a barn (or an outhouse) or not but toilet paper is a wonderful invention. Will average toilet paper-using Americans have to demand a bill of rights for the freedom to wipe?

Here are Crow’s touring requirements.

Here are some facts about toilet paper and the environment from Toilet Paper World. (I didn’t know there was such a thing.) It seems that Crow is barking up the wrong tree.

III The Environment

How many consumer products will one cord of wood yield?

*1,000 pounds of toilet paper, or…
*30 Boston Rockers, or
*12 dining room tables (each table seats eight), or
*7,500,000 toothpicks, or
*460,000 personal checks, or
*89,870 sheets of letter head bond paper (size 8 ½” s 11″), or
*61,370 standard #10 envelopes, or
*14,384,000 commemorative-size postage stamps, or
*1,200 copies of the National Geographic, or
*2,700 copies of the average daily paper (35 pages), or
*250 copies of the Sunday New York Times, or
*942 one-pound books, or
*the heating value of one ton of coal, or
*the heating value of 200 gallons of fuel oil

Lorie Byrd’s take on Sheryl Crow’s Plan to Save the World? — Ewww

UPDATE: According to Dean Barnett, Sheryl Crow is now claiming that her one square of toilet paper proposal was just a joke. She missed April Fools by about three weeks though.

23 Apr 2007 07:34 am

Laughter is always the best medicine.

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – The “Hispanic Titanic” walks toward a reporter along a mud-covered gravel pathway, flicking his head repeatedly to one side, elbow by his head, one eye twitching.
“Hey, you know any people up there in Congress?” he asks. “In Washington? Tell them that I’m, you know” — twitch, twitch — “that I need to get out of here,” he says, cracking up Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Stanley, one of the few soldiers here who does not have a nickname.
Ribbing one another is largely what keeps these soldiers going, helping them to laugh through the tough times, when buddies die or during the tedium of living here at Camp Striker outside Baghdad, where the cement walls are brown, the mud is brown, the tents are gray-brown and even the few scraggly trees on the horizon look brown.
Everyone gets a laugh out of the Hispanic Titanic, a barrel-chested soldier who performs outrageous five-minute, no-holds-barred rants on just about any subject or person, whether he is sitting in the large, airy chow hall or crunched into the plywood-floor tent that serves as the unit’s tactical operations center.
“He’s my little fat buddy,” Maj. Stanley said of Titanic. “He makes me laugh all the time. The dude is crazy; he’s just hysterical.”

There’s more. Read on.

22 Apr 2007 01:41 am

Well, it was Saturday night when I started this.

This past week was horrific on many levels. Personally, it was merely hectic and annoying, but for the folks at Virginia Tech, it was overwhelmingly heartbreaking. Life shattering. Desolating. Locust eating.

Evil always sneaks up on us, leaving those who remain behind wondering why. What did we do wrong? Why have we been forsaken?

It’s been over a year since my nephew died and still, we wonder why. Even knowing the medical facts leaves us still questioning, still missing him.

Many of us personalized the horror that happened last Monday. It’s human nature to do so. My niece is a resident assistant at her college and when I heard that Ryan Clark, the second person killed by that monster was a resident assistant who went to the assistance of Emily Hilscher, I immediately thought of my niece, who spends most of her days having to deal with spats between female students. Which is the way it ought to be.

It was hard for many of us who have family in harms’ way, to conceptualize the fact that students studying to better themselves and become productive citizens could be cut down in the spring of their lives in such bucolic surroundings.

And the professors. Reading about their attempts to protect their students, only to lose their own lives in the end was heartrending.

That is, it was heartrending to most people who are in the possession of hearts that beat. That doesn’t include the folks at NBC, who considered it more important to get ratings with the Cho media manifesto than thinking of the families whose hearts had just been pierced through.

When calamities come people find out who their true friends are. The callous executives at NBC have demonstrated that they are not the friends of Americans who grieve.

Hearing individuals in the media calling for “healing” before the identity of the mass killer was even known had to be maddening for the families. I know it was to me. To toss out such cliches in the face of the magnitude of the destruction of human life was beneath contempt.

My college days were spent at Arkansas Tech, another bucolic campus. There were even cows grazing on the lawns of the college. My years there were unforgetable but not untouched by grief. Two very dear relatives died while I was a student and the shock of both deaths was sad beyond consoling. The memories still bring tears to my eyes.

But in those days we didn’t fear mass murder. We had our campus crazies back then but they were harmless. They might have been discovered roller skating on interstate but were not charging into college classes, armed to kill.

This report states that mass shootings are more common after the sixties. It includes quotes by experts blaming the availability of guns, of course, but I believe it is something more. The assassinations of JFK, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were all televized and some of the first moments that collectively captivated and horrified the American people as a whole.

Murderers study the media like an investor studies Wall Street. The more calculating among them build media response into their motives.

And the children are watching. Jack Kelly in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports…

It was indeed a sick business decision. Mass killings inspire copycats. “School campuses in at least 10 states were locked down or evacuated in the aftermath of a Virginia Tech student’s shooting rampage,” the AP reported Wednesday.

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt

Two high schools students in my city were arrested for threatening to kill their fellow students this past Thursday. And my daughter-in-law’s young sister, who is a junior high school student, was threatened by another female student when she bumped into her in the hallway of her school. The girl threatened to “Virginia Tech” her.

20 Apr 2007 07:36 am

Harry Reid is more than odd, calculating, cynical and perverse. He is, without a doubt, a despicable enemy of our troops and our country. There is no doubt he wants us to lose. The surge is not yet in full deployment and he is already calling it a failure. Why is that? Why is he so obviously hoping for a defeat?

Why did he run out to the press and state that he told the president that we are losing when according to the White House he said no such thing?

“I know I was the odd guy out yesterday at the White House, but I at least told him what he needs to hear. … I told George Bush what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear, I did that and my conscience is great,” said Reid, who was one of several lawmakers who met with the president on Wednesday at the White House. Reid added that more people need to tell Bush the same.

Harry Reid. More than a fool. Less than a patriot.

He is a defeatist.

He is a traitor.

18 Apr 2007 06:38 pm

The Virginia Tech killer’s inspiration for leaving behind the package with a multimedia manifesto and 23 video clips seems to be middle eastern suicide videos. According to NBC he railed against Christianity and wealth.

Among the materials are 23 QuickTime video files showing Cho talking directly to the camera, Capus said. He does not name anyone specifically, but he mentions “hedonism” and Christianity, and he talks at length about his hatred of the wealthy.

“You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today,” Cho says. “But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.”

The production of the videos is uneven, with Cho’s voice so soft that at times it is hard to understand him. But they indicate that Cho had worked on the package for some time, because he not only “took the time to record the videos, but he also broke them down into snippets” that were embedded paragraph by paragraph into the main document, Capus said.

Chilling photographs
The package also includes 29 photographs. Cho looks like a normal, smiling college student in only the first two. In the rest, he presents a stern face; in 11, he aims handguns at the camera that are “consistent with what we’ve heard about the guns in this incident,” Capus said.

Other photographs show Cho holding a knife, and some show hollow-point bullets lined up on a table.

Sick. Just sick.

I cannot imagine how devastated the families of those who were killed and injured must be.

It’s unbelievably sad.

It’s amazing how crazed killers seem to slip through the cracks of justice and sanity. They always seem to turn up in unsecured places, like colleges, schools and offices, where there are no defenses, to do their killing.

And now, some rational thoughts by Mark Steyn.

Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.


Sissy Willis has the last word.

Like our fellow citizens who insist on building their homes on flood plains, only to see them swept away during periodic torrential rains like we had here in New England earlier this week, those who blame arms and not human nature for what happened at Blacksburg are deaf and dumb to the lessons of history and natural history.

15 Apr 2007 04:57 pm


Sixty five years later the images of the faces smile innocently out at us, telling us a story that reminds us of our own treasured and yellowed family photos. In some of the photos, friends pose arm and arm with friends, in others, children pose with their pets.

The photos celebrate life in all of its kicking up the heels moments.

These photos were in a picture album, hidden from all sight for sixty five years, undiscovered within the walls of a house, in the town of Chelm, in Poland. They were found recently by a history teacher when her house was being demolished for renovations. She presented the photos to Zvi Lander in a ceremony.

The pictures show a large Jewish family, along with many friends.

After months of searching for clues as to the identity of the family, someone noticed, in one of the photographs, a sign above a laundromat bearing the name Boden.

Using the lists of testimonies archived at Yad Vashem, the album was delivered to Pini Beeri and Riki Ariel, the sons of Pearale Boden Berezowsky, who was one of two siblings to survive the Holocaust. The men delivered the book to their mother, six hours before her death.

From the photographs, remaining sister Marisha Weikselfish identified her brother, parents, and other relatives – all of whom perished.

Family members said that the brother, Shlomo Boden, had informed the family about hiding the album in the wall, along with silverware and silver dishware. However, the survivors did not return to the house to retrieve the photographs after the war and the photographs remained hidden for 65 years.

Many of the pictures depict classmates of the photographer, who were unrecognized by the surviving family members.

Hat tip: Instapundit

So why were the photos lost in the first place? Why were they hidden? Why the Holocaust?


In 1977, when my husband and I first landed in Augsburg, Germany for his three year Army tour I didn’t know much about the history of World War ll. I knew about the Holocaust but I didn’t understand why it had happened. Thus, I was nervous about living in the land where it had occurred just thirty some years before. (at the time)

We were assigned on-post housing in an apartment which was next to an old Jewish cemetery. I walked over to see it one day and found it in a terrible condition. Among the first German words I learned were judenschweinen, ausrotten and jüdische Ratten; for these were written on the stones and walls in the cemetery. It was a chilling experience. The ghost of Himmler seemed to hover about the place.

The following beyond chilling, words were uttered by Himmler in 1943.

At a speech in Poznan on October 4, 1943, Himmler uttered the words that Joachim Fest has described as “one of the most horrifying testaments in the German language”: 1

I am talking about the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. It is one of those things that is easily said. “The Jewish people is being exterminated,” every Party member will tell you, “perfectly clear, it’s part of our plans, we’re eliminating the Jews, exterminating them, a small matter.”

So how was it that few men in the government of Great Britain were prepared for the onslaught of the likes of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and Goering?

The times were similar to that of the present day. The Brits, excepting the great Churchill and a small minority, were living in a time of wholly irrational pacifist sentiment; the M.P.s spending most of their time in parliament, debating disarmament of Great Britain as well as all the countries of Europe except Germany.

The politicians who met in Germany with Hitler came away from the meetings with words of praise for the Third Reich.

After his first visit to Nazi Germany Lord Halifax, who had been appointed foreign secretary after Anthony Eden had quit Chamberlain’s government, told his friend, Henry (Chips) Channon: “He (Halifax) told me he liked all the Nazi leaders, even Goebbels, and he was much impressed, interested and amused by the visit. He thinks the regime absolutely fantastic.”

Neville Chamberlain believed that Germany had genuine reasons for grievances after the First World War and enacted a policy of appeasement, wanting to avoid war at all costs. If anyone in the government criticized Hitler it was considered an afront to Chamberlain as Herbert Morrison wrote in his 1960 autobiography…

I believe that in 1938 and 1939 he genuinely felt that God had sent him into this world to obtain peace. That he failed may or may not be due to the inevitable ambition of Hitler to dominate the world, but there can be little doubt that in his mental attitude Chamberlain went the wrong way about it. He decided in the early stages of his discussions to treat Hitler as a normal human being and an important human being at that. At the time of the Munich crisis I said extremely critical things in public speeches about the German Chancellor with the result that I was approached by one of Chamberlain’s more important ministers who asked whether I would be good enough to desist, as the prime minister had been informed that Hitler resented it.

That Hitler was a mad man, bent on world domination, was ignored by many in the west even though the writing was on the wall years before when Jewish citizens lost all rights under the Third Reich.

Answer: The first measures against the Jews included:

April 1, 1933: A boycott of Jewish shops and businesses by the Nazis.

April 7, 1933: The law for the Re-establishment of the Civil Service expelled all non-Aryans (defined on April 11, 1933 as anyone with a Jewish parent or grandparent) from the civil service. Initially, exceptions were made for those working since August 1914; German veterans of World War I; and, those who had lost a father or son fighting for Germany or her allies in World War I.

April 7, 1933: The law regarding admission to the legal profession prohibited the admission of lawyers of non-Aryan descent to the Bar. It also denied non-Aryan members of the Bar the right to practice law. (Exceptions were made in the cases noted above in the law regarding the civil service.) Similar laws were passed regarding Jewish law assessors, jurors, and commercial judges.

April 22, 1933: The decree regarding physicians’ services with the national health plan denied reimbursement of expenses to those patients who consulted non-Aryan doctors. Jewish doctors who were war veterans or had suffered from the war were excluded.

April 25, 1933: The law against the overcrowding of German schools restricted Jewish enrollment in German high schools to 1.5% of the student body. In communities where they constituted more than 5% of the population, Jews were allowed to constitute up to 5% of the student body. Initially, exceptions were made in the case of children of Jewish war veterans, who were not considered part of the quota. In the framework of this law, a Jewish student was a child with two non-Aryan parents.

With all these warnings the world stood by, doing nothing to stop Hitler until it was too late for six million European Jews and millions of others. Appeasement was a dangerous policy which as Daniel Pipes writes, “invariably resulted in increased demands, heightened tensions, and threats of war.”

We are faced with this spirit of pacifistic appeasement today in many quarters but it’s not the making of concessions to German fascists, it’s attempts to understand the whys and wherefores of Islamic terrorism. It’s the acceptance of demands by Islamic cab drivers in Minneapolis to turn down riders who offend them. It’s publishers throughout the world refusing to publish anti-Jihadist cartoons out of fear of Muslim reaction, it’s the banning of piggy banks from government offices in Great Britain, it’s the whole world turning away from the inevitable confrontation with Islamists who want to force their will and ways on all of us.

Paul Jackson writes in The Calgary Sun,

A remarkable document came into my hands the other day from a Republican friend in Washington and it is something that should be read by all patriotic Americans and Canadians.

It should also be read by lib-lefters, appeasers, sell-out artists and cowards in all western democracies who want the U.S. and Britain to pull out of Iraq, and the U.S., Britain and Canada to pull out of Afghanistan, and the West to just give in to the demands of fanatics such as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il.

It’s entitled Europe — Your Name is Cowardice and was written, strangely, by a German, Mathias Dapfner, CEO of the huge publishing house Axel Springer (AG) and published in Germany’s largest newspaper Die Welt.

As most know, Germany, like France, has been one of the great nations of appeasement against Islamic terrorism

But our own country, though led by a president bound and determined not to be beaten by the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, is gradually settling into a comfortable state of denial of the threats of Ahmadinejad and other terrorist organizations.

The American people were encouraged by President Bush to get back to celebrating the American way in the days after 911. We were encouraged to go about our business by working, shopping and raising our children.

The president’s first duty was to defend our national security as well as revive the economy. President Bush just couldn’t fathom the political deceit of those, who like Chamberlain, refused to accept the reality that evil still abounds in this world.

It’s much easier to ignore problems that seem not to be at ones’ door step than to have the courage to confront them before they become overwhelming. That’s human nature but history has taught us that there is a tremendous price to pay for such naive behavior. Supporting this conflict is not just supporting our troops, nor is it simply supporting the war.

It is, in reality, confronting evil. An evil whose philosophy denies freedom and often, life from those who dare to believe in a different manner. Any one who celebrates the death of one human being in the name of religion is evil.

In the United States, where we have a heritage of free religion there should be widespread condemnation of any religion or philosophy that celebrates the murder of thousands of people. Whether you call it Nazism or Islam, there is no justification for murder. However, the defense of one’s family and nation is the only reason to enter in any conflict. The American people may have forgotten this, but our ancestors never did.

Now that winning is still very much an option in Iraq many Americans are demonstrating their support for the troops in effortless, anemic ways such as putting bumper stickers on cars but support requires much more than that as Euphoric Reality writes.

Supporting the troops means living your life in a manner that is worthy of their death. It means ensuring, every minute of every day, that the words you speak, the actions you take, the beliefs you hold, are ones that honor them and honor the freedom they have provided to you. It means carrying yourself proudly, ethically, and with purpose.

It means never backing down, never giving up, never quitting. It means taking the time to make a difference in someone’s life—after all, did a soldier not make a difference in yours?

It means teaching your children that places like Normandy, Iwo Jima, and Bastogne are sacred, almost holy phrases that encompass all that we are and all that we must remain. It means getting off your chair and doing your part—whether that be reading to a double amputee fresh from the dusty hell of Iraq, packing granola bars into a box to be sent to the front, or just not ignoring those who are ignorant any longer. How many times have we all just sighed and rolled our eyes when we hear “I support the troops but not the war?”

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing…or say nothing.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Supporting our troops also means standing up to the politicians who are doing everything they can to retreat in the face of Islamic aggression, appease our enemies and slow-bleed our troops.

In the nineteen forties peace in our time led to World War ll. Can the same philosophy prosper in todays environment of weapons of mass destruction? Weapons that a few individuals can use to destroy cities? Therefore, losing cannot be an option because if we don’t confront the evil at every turn, the price exacted will be tremendously more than World War ll. Giving up and handing Iraq over to Iran would be the same as giving Hitler an atomic bomb. In essence, a deliberate suicide of western civilization. The left would like us to forget this fact.

Will we one day be hiding our own photo albums inside the walls of our own homes?

14 Apr 2007 05:31 pm


A dragon in my classroom that I drew for my students. Some tried to draw but had trouble with the claw.


April 10: Folk dancers perform the traditional Chinese dragon dance during the opening ceremony of the Henan Peony Festival in Luoyang, China’s central Henan Province. The dancers are attempting to break a Guinness world record with a 5,056-meter-long handmade dragon.

The Norks hesitate to give up their nuclear state. The Chinese advise patience with the Norks in abeyance.

14 Apr 2007 01:53 pm


The troops’ sense of humor outdoes anything I’ve ever seen in the safe environs of the comfy land of round doorknobs. New cartoonists are sprouting up all over Iraq. Now they have FOB humor. Scroll down a bit to see it.

Oh yeah, they are winning.

The bombs aren’t stopping them either.

More good news, bad news here.

The lies about the intel are exposed here.

Vice President Cheney doesn’t hold back re Pelosi and company and American Girls recognize a leader when they see one.


I’ve been reading The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940 by William Manchester, am only on page #121 but I’m blown away by the strength of character of the man, Churchill.

In reading the narrative of the period of time during the 1930s that Winston was a back-bencher, scorned by all of the politicians in parliament save five, I’ve learned that Churchill was Great Britain’s only steadfast voice of conscience, calling his country to reason and arms, when flocks of appeasers such as the Baldwins, Lord Lothians, MacDonald’s and Chamberlains made Pelosi-like pilgrimages to Berlin to symbolically kiss the feet of Hitler. Churchill’s powerful words must have rubbed raw the ears of those who refused to confront the evil in Europe.

Churchill’s immortal line should be called to mind in these dangerous days of appeasement, “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

The other included the equally famous “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ “

It was their finest hour.

13 Apr 2007 11:50 am


Sabby celebrates Friday the Thirteenth in his own unique way. He jumps on the bannister and walks across with the balance of an acrobat. He races up and down the stairs, flinging his toy mouse as he goes. He knocks things off the computer desk.

I couldn’t catch him in any photos today.

The tail is all I got.

Lots of tails, whiskers and paws are appearing today in The Friday Ark #134 at the Modulator. Go see.

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