Friday, February 27, 2009

Military Might a National Religion, Says New Book

When President Barack Obama said during his campaign that "the United States must maintain a military that is second to none," he was echoing what has become a common refrain among candidates of both parties since the late 1940s, says Emory University's T. Jeremy Gunn.

Gunn's new book, "Spiritual Weapons: The Cold War and the Forging of an American National Religion" (Praeger, 2009), explores how after World War II Americans developed a trinity that has become a national religion:

the United States should have a military second to none even in peacetime;

government officials should adopt laws praising God; and

"capitalism means freedom."

Gunn, a senior fellow at Emory's Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR), says the trinity was forged by the Cold War and arose in reaction to both the imagined and real dangers posed by the Soviet Union and communism. He researched Spiritual Weapons for four years as part of the CSLR's research project on Religion and Human Rights, reviewing reams of declassified government documents and press reports dating back to the 1940s.

"My original intent was to write about how religion has influenced foreign policy, but I ended up discovering instead how American foreign policy shaped Americans' understanding about religion," said Gunn, who also directs the American Civil Liberties Union Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

Gunn traces the sea change to President Harry Truman's famous 1947 speech to Congress, in which he asked for funds to aid Greece and Turkey in their fight against "communist insurgencies." Truman argued for a foreign policy that came to be known as the Truman Doctrine—that the "free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedom and if we falter in our leadership we may endanger the peace of the world and . . . surely the welfare of this nation."

The battle between "good" (America and her allies) and "evil" (the Soviet Union and communism) became cast as "a battle of faith against atheism, and religious liberty against religious persecution," Gunn writes.

This reassertion of America as a religious nation led in quick succession to the rise of popular preacher and presidential advisor Billy Graham (1949), the first Presidential Prayer Breakfast (1953), inserting "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance (1954), the spate of "Ten Commandments" monuments (1955), placing "In God we Trust" on paper money (1955) and making it the national motto (1956), and other political—and very public—government declarations about God and religion.

Gunn notes President Dwight Eisenhower's public comments about adding "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. The new law, Eisenhower said, reaffirmed the "transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or war."

Referencing President Abraham Lincoln's famous Civil War quote, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side…" Gunn says of the post-World War II era, "There is a lot of conviction that God is on our side, and very little questioning if we are on God's side."

Spiritual Weapons does not offer an external critique of American foreign policy. Rather, it lets the words and actions of leaders – both Democrats and Republicans – speak for themselves, revealing how Americans created a new worldview and then, in turn, were seduced by their own creation.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Batter Blaster(TM) Gears Up to Blast World Pancake Record

/PRNewswire/ -- On May 9, 2009, Batter Blaster(TM), the revolutionary new breakfast product, will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for "Most Pancakes Cooked in 8 Hours." The record-breaking endeavor will start at 9 a.m. on the Great Lawn at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.

The current world record was set in February 2008 by the Kiwanis Club of Fargo, N.D. Over the course of eight hours, they served 34,818 pancakes to just over 10,000 guests. This past weekend, the Lions Club of Lubbock, TX attempted to break that record and served 66,549 pancakes to approximately 17,000 people. This record attempt has not yet been certified by Guinness.

"We found a way to put pancakes in a can - breaking the world record should be easy," says Sean O'Connor, founder and CEO of Batter Blaster. "We specifically chose Atlanta because the residents have embraced our product and we know they'll come out and support our attempt. This event is designed to be a team effort, between Batter Blaster and the people of Atlanta. And in these tough economic times, offering free breakfast to the entire city is our small way of giving back."

Batter Blaster is searching for courageous volunteers to enter the annals of history. Positions to be filled include pancake makers, bus persons and various other duties. Of course, the record cannot be broken without hungry attendees, so insatiable appetites are mandatory. Every attendee will also be entered to win fabulous prizes, coupons and product.

Since launching in 2007, Batter Blaster has been sweeping the nation with its innovative approach to pancakes and waffles. Each 18-oz. can of Batter Blaster makes approximately 28 4-inch light and fluffy pancakes or eight crisp and airy waffles in minutes. It uses the highest-quality USDA Certified Organic ingredients, including Certified Humane cage-free organic eggs. The propellant in the pressurized can contains no ozone-depleting CFCs, and the cans are made of recyclable steel.

So, grab the kids, tell your friends and come on down to Centennial Olympic Park on May 9. Enjoy the complimentary pancakes, and get ready to blast into the record books on what is sure to be an unforgettable Saturday!

For more information or details on how you can get involved, contact Lindsay Fredricks at 917-599-6308 or lfredricks@saltcomm.com.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Does He or Doesn't He? Scottish Kilt Cleaners Sort Out the Mess

I just love a man in his kilt! Guess it's my Scottish blood showing, but I love the look. Guess I never really thought about the condition of some kilts when they have to be cleaned by others. The debate continues, "Does he or doesn't he?" Some people think the debate would be better if it is "Should he or shouldn't he?"

True Scotsmen are Told to Cover Up

Published Date: 16 February 2009
By SUSAN SMITH

IT MAY be a tradition, but Scottish men's habit of "going commando" in a kilt is increasingly disgusting firms hiring Highland dress.

Several companies are now requesting that customers keep their pants on when they hire a kilt to protect staff and future customers from unhygienic tartan......
http://living.scotsman.com/topstories/True-Scotsmen-are-told-to.4982596.jp

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Lessons From Humpty Dumpty on the Financial Crisis

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is an Op/Ed Piece written by Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, Professor of Economics, Dean, School of Business & Technology, Webster University.

As a child growing up, I was raised and nurtured with nursery rhymes, some made up by my parents, others borrowed from a long list of universal rhymes. One has stayed with me all my life: It is a story of risk, failure and perseverance, the story of Humpty Dumpty, the anthropomorphic egg who tried to defy the odds and met with interesting results. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The key word is the very last one: 'again.' It implies that this wasn't the first fall for Humpty; he was a serial risk taker. In my eyes, he was bold, fearless, unrelenting and entrepreneurial. Humpty obviously believed in setting stretch goals and was very familiar with the reality called failure. But, this egg refused to allow failure to define him. Failure for Humpty was just real-time feedback, an opportunity to regroup, reassess and try again until success was eventually achieved.

That attitude is a most valuable skill in today's challenging climate. The wall is a simple metaphor for the singular act of overcoming adversity. Climbing a wall is moving beyond where you are, overcoming adversity, challenging conventional wisdom, pursuing goals that are not easily achievable and refusing to give up in that pursuit.

There are many people the world over who now find themselves faced with the greatest challenge of their lives. They have lost jobs, homes, life savings and are gradually losing confidence. They are down because they have fallen. As we contemplate the severity and hopelessness of the present and seek to overcome the uncertainty of the future, I believe it's helpful to invoke the story of Humpty, a journey of endurance and the willingness to keep trying. The lesson behind a childish rhyme speaks of the courage to seek challenges, to gratefully accept help when needed and to persevere when there is no apparent reason to do so. It's also a reminder that even when you do everything right -- remain loyal to your employer, invest your money in a 'foolproof' fund, pursue the American Dream -- you may fall and fall again. Remember, when we fall we should strive to get back up and not allow setbacks to define who we are.

None of us is perfect. At times, we make faulty judgments. Perhaps we overreach as we try to make life better for our families. Sometimes, we act based on fear versus hope. At other times, our overconfidence leads the way when it should be tempered. Occasionally, our desire to keep pace with our peers leads us down a slippery slope. All of these imperfections speak to the story of Humpty and the resolve to scale the wall of obstacles. There is a little Humpty Dumpty in all of us. We have fallen, yes. We have been broken, certainly. But somewhere deep inside -- behind the doom, beyond the gloom -- we still have our eye on that wall and are ready to successfully climb it, cracks and all, as insurmountable as it may seem.

In closing, I am particularly impressed with Humpty's support group: his friends, all the king's horses and all the king's men. They provided the ultimate safety net. We have all climbed that wall and have fallen many times, but if it weren't for our 'king's horses and men,' getting back up would have been impossible. They gave us the endurance to keep on keeping on. These are the kind of friends we all need, especially these days.

As we grapple with these difficult financial times, may our journey be blessed with good friends and may we learn as much from our falls as we do from our ascents.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is a worldwide institution committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. Founded in 1915, Webster offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five schools and colleges, and a global network of more than 100 campuses. Its 20,000-plus student population represents almost 150 nationalities. The University's core values include excellence in teaching, joining theory and practice, small class sizes, and educating students to be lifelong independent learners, fully prepared to participate in an increasingly international society.

Since opening its first campus overseas in Geneva in 1978, Webster has become a recognized leader and innovator in global education, with an international presence that now includes campuses in London; Vienna; Amsterdam and Leiden, the Netherlands; Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu, China; and Bangkok and Cha-am, Thailand. Webster also has educational partnerships with universities in Mexico and Japan.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

National Population Group Calls for 2010 Census to Be Free of Political Interference

RJ Note: The census must be performed in a nonpolitical way, otherwise, it is open to be manipulated. Keep America free. If you have an opinion, be sure to let your elected officials know it.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Concerned that the Obama administration will follow through on its quest to politicize the U.S. Census and undercut the credibility of its final numbers, Negative Population Growth President Don Mann has written to President Obama asking that the White House let officials and professionals at the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau "carry out this mission...and do their jobs without political interference."

Mann's comments follow recent talk of Rahm Emmanuel, the White House Chief of Staff, moving direct oversight of the Census into his office. In such a case, critics fear that the counts could be open to "readjustments" or manipulation of data. "Census numbers play an integral role in the allocation and dispersal of government funds and a major role in legislative redistricting on the local, state and federal level. It is important that the 2010 Census be free of any political taint," Mann exclaimed.

He added, "I must add my voice to those who demand that the credibility and political independence of the 2010 Census numbers be preserved and that the White House exert no special direct oversight of this enormous national undertaking in the coming months."

Mann stressed: "For more than 220 years the decennial U.S. Census has been conducted above and beyond politics and the results have been an integral part of shaping our democracy. Now, as America prepares to carry out our 23rd census, it is absolutely critical that we follow that tradition and keep it nonpartisan."

Negative Population Growth is the premier national organization focused on population issues. In focusing on the census Mann noted, "At NPG, we fear that the final census numbers that are revealed next year will show that America's population continues to soar out of control. Without any effort to halt, and eventually reverse, this disastrous climb our nation will pay a huge economic, social and environmental price."

Mann concluded his letter to President Obama by asking for his support for NPG's efforts to get Congress to create a U.S. Commission on Population Growth to study the dangerous consequences of massive increases in population and immigration.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Muslim Woman Beheaded in New York by Husband

What would you think if I told you a woman was beheaded by her husband last week in Buffalo, New York? Would you think of the horror of it? Would you think that the man has some really pent up rage? Or would you think it is an honorable way to die?

A woman was beheaded by her husband on February 12 in Buffalo. The kicker to this is he is the owner of an Islamic television network whose mission is to portray a more positive Muslim world. Yeah. Right.

http://homelandsecurityus.com/?p=1508

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

AARP Launches Government Watch Website to Hold Elected Leaders Accountable on Issues That Matter Most to Older Americans

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP today launched Government Watch, an interactive website designed to enable older Americans to hold accountable Congress and the Obama Administration on issues that matter most to them. Rolling out in conjunction with AARP's first designated "key vote" of the 111th Congress, Government Watch puts Members of Congress on notice that when they cast a vote on an issue important to Americans 50+, 80 million eyes will be watching.

After each key vote, AARP will notify its 40 million members and let them know how each Member of Congress voted, encouraging them to contact their Senators and Representatives to register their thanks or disappointment through email, phone calls and office visits. At the end of each congressional session, AARP will release a "Key Vote Summary," providing a one-stop summary of how Members of Congress voted on key legislation. In addition, AARP recognizes Members of Congress who champion legislation that benefits Americans 50+ through AARP's Congressional Award Program.

"Today's elected leaders must find solutions to unprecedented challenges, challenges that will require tough decisions and statesmanship," said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President. "From fixing our broken health care system to helping to restore financial stability for Americans in communities throughout our nation, Congress and the new Administration have a real opportunity to make better the lives of the millions of Boomers and older Americans. AARP's 40 million members are calling for action, and they want their government to do so in a transparent and accountable manner."

Government Watch features several tools to help keep the public informed. Among them are AARP's 2009 federal advocacy agenda; priority legislation; a congressional vote summary by state; Administration action on issues facing older Americans; fact sheets detailing the impact of AARP's legislative priorities on Americans 50+ in each state; and Congressional champions. Standout features include:

-- Eye on Congress: Government Watch's "Key Vote Summary" tracks how the
Senators and Representatives are voting on the issues critical to
Americans age 50+. It also provides members with a simple way to give
their elected officials feedback on his or her voting record.
-- Eye on the States: AARP has offices in all 50 states, as well as the
District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. For each
state, AARP has data that underscores why we need to: reform health
care; invest more in home and community based care; help struggling
homeowners stay in their homes while paying off debt; and provide all
Americans with a way to save for retirement at work.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Published Study Shows Brain Exercises Improve Memory and Attention - And People Notice

/PRNewswire/ -- Study results to be published in the April 4, 2009 edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society are the first to show definitively that computerized brain exercises can improve memory and attention in older adults. An advance copy of the breakthrough study led by researchers from the University of Southern California and the Mayo Clinic has been released online.

A total of 487 healthy adults over the age of 65 participated in the randomized controlled trial, called the IMPACT Study. Half were assigned to a group that trained on a brain fitness software program for a total of 40 hours over the course of 8 weeks. The other half spent an equal amount of time learning from educational lectures on the computer followed by quizzes.

The study found that participants who trained on the software, The Brain Fitness Program(TM) from Posit Science(R), more than doubled their processing speed, with an average increase of 131%. They also saw gains on standard measures of memory and attention of 10 years, on average. These changes were big enough that participants reported significant improvements in every day activities (such as remembering names or understanding conversations in noisy restaurants). The gains of the brain exercise group were clinically significant; the gains of the lecture group were significantly smaller and not clinically significant.

The Brain Fitness Program was developed by a global team of neuroscientists for Posit Science. It consists of six exercises done on a computer. The product is based on the science of brain plasticity - the ability of the brain to change and form new pathways in response to the right stimulation delivered in the right way.

Marlene Allen, aged 75, of Mill Valley, California participated in the brain exercise half of the study. "Now I don't have to write down shopping lists. I remember what I need at the store," Ms. Allen said. "And I almost never walk into a room and forget why anymore."

While some earlier studies have shown older adults get better at exercises that they practice, this study goes two steps further. The improvements at the exercises resulted in gains in standard measures of memory and attention and people noticed improvements in their every day activities.

"The changes we saw in the experimental group were remarkable - and significantly larger than the gains in the control group," said Liz Zelinski, PhD, a principal investigator for the study from the University of Southern California. "From a researcher's point of view, this was very impressive because people got better at the tasks trained, those improvements generalized to standardized measures of memory and people noticed improvements in their lives. What this means is that cognitive decline is no longer an inevitable part of aging. Doing properly designed cognitive activities can enhance our abilities as we age."

"We saw gains of 4% in memory scores in the brain exercise group," said Glenn Smith, PhD, the study's principal investigator from the Mayo Clinic. "That may not sound like much, but it is about what an older person normally loses in a 10 year period. The lectures group saw about a 2% gain, which may sound like they did half as well; however, we look at memory on a curve, not a straight line, and a 2% gain is not something you are apt to notice in your life."

"This study has profound personal and public implications for aging baby boomers and their parents," said Joe Coughlin, PhD, Director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute Technology. "This means boomers may now have tools for a future that is not their grandfather's old age. It also impacts most aspects of independent living - from aging-in-place to transportation to all the great and little things that we call life. This is big news for aging and for all of us."

The IMPACT study is the largest study ever of a brain fitness program that is available to the public and the first published in a medical journal to show improvements in memory and attention.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Workshop on Skills for Budding Authors Slated for Atlanta March 7

/24-7/ -- The Southern Review of Books newsletter has announced that eight outstanding authors and book professionals will teach a day-long seminar on writing on Saturday, March 7, at Atlanta's Cobb Galleria Centre.

The workshop, entitled "Authorship 101," will focus on writing, getting published and marketing fiction and nonfiction. It is being staged in conjunction with the Spring Book Show, being held at the same location.

Participating faculty members for Authorship 101, in alphabetical order, along with their topics, are:
• Brad Cohen, inspirational speaker and author of "Front of the Class," about his search for a teaching position that finally landed him in the Cobb County, Ga., school system, speaking on "From Book to Movie: How My Memoir Became a National Hallmark Hall of Fame CBS-TV Telecast."
• Anna DeStefano, novelist and president, Georgia Romance Writers, "How To Write Romances and Get Them Published."
• Hollis Gillespie, Atlanta magazine columnist, author of three books and radio-TV personality, "How To Write Memoirs for Fun and Profit."
• Russ Marshalek, public relations director, Wordsmiths Books, Decatur, Ga., and consultant on book publicity and arranging bookstore signings, "How To Arrange for Publicity and Bookstore Signings for Your Book."
• Man Martin, novelist and Georgia Author of the Year Award winner for his novel "Days of the Endless Corvette," on "Writing Humor."
• Ahmad Meradji, president, Apex Book Manufacturing, "How To Select a Short-Run Printer for Your Self-Published Book."
• Patricia Sprinkle, mystery and nonfiction author of more than 20 titles, "So You Want To Write a Mystery?"
• Darlene Ford Wofford, series novel author, "How I Got Local and National Publicity for My Memoir Series.

Noel Griese of Atlanta-based Anvil Publishers, and editor of the Southern Review of Books newsletter, said that people attending the workshop get free admission to the Spring Book Show.


Registration details for the Authorship 101 workshop on writing for the Christian market are available at the Anvil Publishers Web site at http://anvilpub.net/authorship_201.htm

About the Spring Book Show and Authorship seminars: The Spring Book Show, held annually in Atlanta, is the largest bargain book and remainder show held annually in the United States. It will be held March 6-8, 2009, at the Cobb Galleria Center. Two seminars for writers, Authorship 101 and Authorship 201, organized by the Siuthern Review of Books newsletter, are being held March 6-7 in conjunction with the show. Workshop participants get free admission to the Spring Book Show, which is otherwise closed to the general public.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Spelling Bee Minus: Over Half of Americans are 'Embarased'(sic) by Spelling

/PRNewswire/ -- Independent survey of spelling out today shows that more than half the adult population of the USA had problems with one or more spellings in a test of ten everyday words. One in three admitted being reliant on spell checkers for tasks such as completing job application forms or writing important letters and men performed less well than women.

An independent survey conducted by Ipsos MORI in January 2009, on behalf of the Spelling Society, shows that adults in the USA, consistently performed badly in a spelling test using ten everyday words.

Results were compared with a similar survey undertaken in the UK in 2008 by ID Factor. 'Embarrassed' topped the incorrect list with 62% miss-spelling this word in the USA compared to 54% in the UK. Adults in the USA consistently performed less well on all the ten words tested. Interestingly, in both surveys men performed less well than women. Women may celebrate here, but should also know that the only word that men spelled better than women in the USA was 'liaison'!

Spelling Society Chairman, Jack Bovill said: "When asked, only a quarter of adults thought they had a problem with spelling. The results show - this is far from the case. This lack of awareness is pertinent to the Spelling Society whose aim is to raise awareness of the problems caused by the irregularity of English spelling."

Professor Edward Baranowski, of California State University pointed to the 'fossilized system' in place as part of the problem. "We have different spellings for the same sound (especially for vowels), silent letters, missing letters, and a system which reflects how English was spoken in the 13th-15th centuries, not how it is spoken today. So many sound changes have occurred in the language, which are not reflected in modern spelling, that we are left with a 'fossilized' system. Perhaps if English had had an effective language academy, such as those in France or Spain, this would have been mitigated over time."

The Spelling Society is calling for greater awareness of the problem, including looking at modernizing a system which affects people across all social grades. Chairman Jack Bovill says: "After all we rarely complain about how people speak - what is holding the UK and the USA back is the irregular spelling system?"

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Superbowl-ads.com Names the "Top 10 Super Bowl 2009 Commercials" and Makes Them Available for TV Viewing

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Superbowl-ads.com, a leading Web portal for watching and reviewing Super Bowl TV commercials, today announced this year's top 10 Super Bowl ads, based on post-game audience polling.

Because Superbowl-ads.com uses the GridCast TV service, viewers can watch all of the newest Super Bowl videos from the site on their TVs, including ads from this year’s Super Bowl as well as the top ads from Super Bowl 2008. GridCast TV can be viewed by anyone with an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Internet-enabled TV, or other UPnP (universal plug and play) device, without a set-top box or any additional hardware.

Doritos took first place with a user-generated spot that also won the "USA Today Ad Meter," which earned the ad’s creators a million-dollar bonus. Over 10,000 poll visitors chose from a list of 49 commercials, with the following results:

1. Doritos: "Free Doritos"
2. Budweiser: "Stick"
3. hulu.com: "Secret"
4. Monster.com: "Double Take"
5. Bridgestone: "Taters"
6. CareerBuilder: "Tips"
7. E-Trade: "Wings"
8. Coca-Cola: "Heist"
9. Diet Pepsi Max: "I'm Good"
10. Pedigree: "Crazy Pets"

“I was surprised how the voting came out this year,” said Ken Phipps, owner of Superbowl-ads.com. “Some of the ones that I picked for the top honors like Denny's ‘Serious’ and Pepsi's ‘Refresh Anthem’ didn't make it in the top 10. Many of the advertisers got an early start on the build-up this year too, and we had links posted to more than 20 ad previews in the week prior to the game.”

This is the first year that Superbowl-ads.com has had a partnership with GridNetworks, using their GridCast TV service. “We’re pleased that most people can see the ads on their TVs now, without any extra equipment,” said Phipps. “That lets viewers watch the ads on a big screen, in HD—from the comfort of their couch.” With combined support for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the GridCast TV service can reach over 40 million homes worldwide. Superbowl-ads.com joins other GridNetworks customers, including A3 Network, Salient Media, and Revision3, who have already begun using GridCast TV to stream high-definition Internet video to their viewers’ TVs.

"We are also launching a fun new poll to determine which year had the best commercials,” said Phipps. “So go to http://www.superbowl-ads.com to check them out and vote."

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

DearDaddy.com: New Website Chronicles Minnesota Family's Life During the Great Depression

In her 80s, Martha Linsley bought a small typewriter from Montgomery Ward, taught herself to type, and transcribed the hundreds of letters she and her husband and their two children wrote to one another. Their correspondence may very well comprise the most extensive written insight into the day-to-day lives of a family dealing with the challenges of the Great Depression. After decades of a 5-generation family effort, the first phase of the letters, daughter Ruth's memoir of their adventure, the children's drawings, photos, and family Cookbook are now posted on the new website - http://www.deardaddy.com

/PRNewswire/ -- They were the victims of a mortgage scam and greedy lenders, the nation's crops were failing in record-setting heat, unemployment was soaring, the economy was in free-fall -- the lame duck president was overwhelmed, but a newly-elected president was promising change. It was the early 1930s...

Despite the national crisis, James and Martha Linsley planned their strategy for financial independence and a farm of their own. After "qualifying" for a shady mortgage deal on a 160-acre parcel, they were encouraged to hear about a new government loan program available to assist farmers. They decided that James would stay in Minneapolis and continue working his ten-year job as a streetcar conductor, while Martha and the children, Ruth (9) and John (7), would move to their "farm" near Park Rapids, Minnesota, about 160 miles north. Martha and the kids could live inexpensively, and they were sure that, with a federal loan to get them started, they would soon be full-time farmers.

The "farmhouse" turned out to be a 15-foot square dilapidated cabin with no running water or electricity. Through two brutal Minnesota winters while temperatures dipped as low as 38 below zero, they lived this arrangement from the summer of 1932 until the fall of 1934, writing letters to each other almost daily.

Feisty Martha Linsley was a city girl, raised in a Minneapolis orphanage, where talking at the dinner table was prohibited. She was a high school physics and math teacher, a University of Minnesota graduate, with Masters level education in Greek and Latin. James was a country boy who left school after eighth grade. A devoted husband and father, he was a life-long voracious reader, and had a passion for horses, farming, and carpentry. Daughter Ruth had a vivid imagination and gift for expression. Her father was fond of saying, "The only time Ruth is quiet is when she's eating cherry sauce -- with pits." John was a creative, gifted student who continually challenged his one-room rural school teachers, was kicked out of school numerous times -- and was later nominated for a Nobel Prize in Physics.

Their dream of farming was never realized, but they were all transformed by the experience. And over 75 years later, there is an odd resonance to their struggles and concerns, and possibly a lesson in the way they often found comfort and entertainment in the simplest of things.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Call your Senator

Stop what you are doing.
Pick up the phone.
Call 202-224-3121.
Ask for your senator.
Tell your senator to oppose the stimulus package.
We can't afford it. Neither can our children.

Non-profits and Schools Turn to Online Resource During Economic Downturn

RJ Note: Both Braelinn Elementary and JC Booth Middle Schools utilize this service to boost their fundraising. One of our staff has also used it through the schools and gives it a thumbs up.

With gas prices rising and the housing market already in a slump, economic fears have led to a national drop in charitable contributions making it harder for non-profits to keep up with an increased demand in services. As more and more nonprofits begin to feel the pinch, many are refocusing their fundraising efforts.

One standout pair of solutions – GoodSearch.com and GoodShop.com – allows supporters to give to their favorite organizations without spending a dime. GoodSearch.com is the Yahoo-powered search engine that donates a penny per search to the charity or school of the users’ choice. Similarly, GoodShop donates a percentage of every purchase from more than 700 top online retailers.

Over 60,000 nonprofits across the country are actively earning funds from the GoodSearch and GoodShop strategy with over 100 organizations submitting new applications daily. Success stories range from the ASPCA which has earned more than $15,000 to care for animals to the Bubel Aiken Foundation which has earned more than $8,000 to send disabled children to summer camp.

Nonprofits report that GoodSearch and GoodShop are not only a source of significant donations, but also an effective way for supporters to feel connected to the organization everyday. Especially in this time of recession, even small donations go a long way and every extra dollar counts.

GoodSearch and GoodShop have grown into a massive grassroots movement online, attracting the attention of leaders in the nonprofit industry, students, bloggers, writers, and even celebrities like Jessica Biel, Montell Williams, and Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 who have all created videos on behalf of their favorite charities and GoodSearch.

The GoodSearch and GoodShop team is revolutionizing online philanthropy so that no one is denied the opportunity to support the causes most important to them. “When the economy weakens, charitable organizations are often the hardest hit,” said Ken Ramberg, Co-Founder of GoodSearch and former President of MonsterTRAK, the largest online career site for college students (now a division of Monster.com). “GoodSearch and GoodShop are helping to alleviate that strain in resources and make it possible for everyone regardless of how much time or money they have, to give back.”

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bill Zucker’s ‘I Want Some Tarp’ Launches Million Tarphead March and Unlikely Call for Presidential Candidate

RJ Note: What a great song. I first noticed the song on January 23 when it was posted on one of the Fayette Front Page blogs called the Mint Julep Journal. Thanks to Miss Etta for noticing it. It seems like it just keeps getting bigger. Click here to see the journal entry and link to the song.

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Bill Zucker's "I Want Some Tarp" keeps growing. With thousands of sites on the internet, many Americans are urging this unlikely political anti-hero to run for president in 2012!

The people have made Zucker's song and viral YouTube video an anthem in the fight against the wasteful handouts of the tax-payers' money to big business with no accountability. Some are calling him a modern day Robin Hood, trying take from the rich to give to the poor. When the L.A. Times called for an interview about the "Bill Zucker for President" rumors, he laughed, saying "Don't be a sucker vote for Zucker!" But Zucker is still receiving emails from all over the U.S. about foreclosures, loss of retirement funds, and unemployment.

It began a few weeks ago when The Tarp Song debuted on CNBC's Power Lunch. In a national Fox News live Miami to New York interview, Neil Cavuto said "Bill's Song has summed up what all Americans are feeling in only three minutes" and noted "Bill Zucker's Tarp Song will be bigger than Obama girl!" Since then, Zucker has been interviewed by the Boston Herald, San Diego Tribune, USA Today, TV Guide. Major news outlets have said Zucker's song has immortalized the Tarp bailout plan.

After the release of the Tarp Song, Bill has been busy with TV, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews. After a youtuber left him a humorous comment, Bill teamed up with Todd Pitt of zerostrategist.com (an independent social media strategy consulting firm) who rapidly built billzucker.com to converse with other Tarpheads who are fed up with the financial situation in America.

The Presidential Tarphead wants to use his website and other sites like Twitter, MySpace and YouTube to organize a "Million Tarphead Dance" on Washington this spring. Zucker envisions a million citizens doing the Tarp Dance down K Street and up Pennsylvania Ave to the steps of the capitol building to send a clear message to Congress, President Obama and Corporate fat-cats alike.

Bill never thought he'd be able to make such a depressing subject so funny and said, "I feel good that I am making people laugh in such dismal times."

The Tarp Song is available on Amazon, iTunes and other mp3 websites for 99 cents.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

GI Condition Once Thought Rare is Common in U.S.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dorothy Carpenter had stomach problems her entire life. Eating as much as a bite of bread or pasta could lead to terrible pain.

Her illness went undiagnosed for years until a University of Michigan Health System physician recognized it as celiac disease. By then her long-standing condition had become an intestinal mass, a cancer that forced doctors to remove part of her small intestine.

"I've been in this body 65 years and I know what's normal for it and something's radically wrong here," Carpenter recalls telling William D. Chey, M.D., director of the Gastrointestinal Physiology Laboratory at the University of Michigan Health System. "He listened."

Celiac disease, a condition characterized by severe, chronic inflammation of the small intestine, develops from exposure to a dietary protein called gluten. Gluten is most commonly found in grains including wheat, rye and barley.

Carpenter's cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, developed as a result of her undiagnosed and untreated celiac disease, Chey told her.

Treatment involved removing 48 inches of her small intestine and a small mass, and undergoing chemotherapy. It's been five years since she was diagnosed and treated and she feels great, says Carpenter, 70.

She has also had to change her lifestyle - maintaining a gluten-free diet.

"Living a gluten-free life, it's what you make of it," Carpenter says. "You have to make up your mind that these are things I have to do if I want to live."

Since she was diagnosed, she's noticed stores have gotten better about stocking gluten-free products and labeling foods properly. "It's getting better all the time," she says.

Awareness and proper diagnosis of celiac disease have improved dramatically in the last decade, says Chey.

"When I was a medical student many years ago, we were taught that celiac disease occurred or could be found in approximately one in 500 to 1,000 individuals within the United States," he notes.

Data from within the last five years, however, show celiac disease is significantly more prevalent than previously thought. It can be identified in up to one in 133 individuals within the United States, Chey says.

People who suffer from celiac seem to have a genetic predisposition and the disease can remain latent or asymptomatic for a long time until it becomes unmasked or more clinically apparent through laboratory studies or symptoms, Chey says.

Diseases like diabetes mellitus, auto immune thyroiditis, premature bone loss or iron deficiency anemia have all been associated with celiac disease, Chey adds.

"If you are affected by any of those conditions you should be tested," Chey says.

Celiac can present itself in a variety of ways, such as abnormal laboratory values like low blood counts or abnormal thyroid function, malnutrition, weight loss or a life-threatening disease.

The more common way for it to present itself is with vague GI symptoms, such as bloating, excessive gas, loose stools or abdominal cramping.

Symptoms can be similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, and new IBS guidelines by the American College of Gastroenterology recommend that newly diagnosed IBS patients get screened for celiac disease.

Chey warns that individuals with very long-standing, untreated celiac disease have an increased risk for developing cancer, primarily of the GI tract but others as well.

Screening is done through a blood test. Therapy consists of instituting a restricted diet devoid of gluten, which tends to inflame the small intestine and lead to more serious problems.

"The key takeaway is that celiac is more common than previously thought, that there are tests available to diagnose the condition and that treatment is highly effective and relies upon a diet rather than drugs," says Chey.

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