Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Go Get 'Em!

I first thought the title of this article was "Two in Dallas Not Accused of Katrina Fraud". There are a lot of people, me included, who thought that there were tons of people committing fraud to get the free dough from FEMA. Mass operations always make for an easy take.

The article seems to say these are dirty Texans who impersonated Louisiana refugees in an attempt to get money. I had heard a rumor that fake Louisiana IDs were the hottest thing selling on the black market because anybody with one could get a free hotel room. I'm glad that they actually arrested somebody for something.


Two in Dallas Accused of Katrina Fraud

Two Dallas residents have been accused of separate schemes to impersonate hurricane evacuees and bilk the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of thousands of dollars, authorities said.

Lakietha Hall, 35, was arrested Wednesday and charged with stealing more than $65,000 in FEMA money, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office. Authorities seized more than $10,000 in cash during a search of Hall's apartment, the release said.

And just in case some people were worried, no, Texas does not give the death penalty for theft.

Saddam: "I was tortured"

From FoxNews:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein launched into an extended outburst at his trial Wednesday, alleging he had been beaten and tortured by his American captors while in detention...

Last time I checked, he had ears, his tongue, and all his fingers. Under the Saddam regime, any torturer that failed in such a manner would probably have been fired.
After sitting quietly through several hours of testimony, Saddam said he'd been beaten "everywhere on my body. The marks are still there."

Dude, you're old now! Those aren't torture marks, they're age marks!
About 10 minutes later, Saddam swung his chair to the left, closed his eyes and repeatedly bowed his head in what appeared to be about a minute-long prayer, the first time he has done that in court.

Now would that be toward Mecca or towards the jury box?

Word Up!

A funny little thing here for all my friends. Merriam-Webster Online has announced their #1 Word of the Year! The first time I saw the list was last year and I was struck by how much it reflected our lives in the past year. Take a look at this year's word list and I bet you'll think of a news event that corresponds each word. I'm sure I'd get an I-told-you-so glare from my previous English teachers if they had read my thoughts on these words. Ahh, the beauty to be found in the the language of our lives!

From Merriam Webster:


What, did you really think I was going to tell you number one? You'll just have to click on the link and go look it up yourself!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One in 3.1 billion

One of the funniest things about genetics for the longest time was the inability of scientist to find the "race" gene. Race has always been considered important in the medical field due to different ethnic groups having higher tendencies toward certain diseases and unlikely reactions to medicines. Somebody has announced that they've finally located a part of the human genone that controls the color of our skin.

From the Washington Post:

Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology's most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity's greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

It's just one miniscule letter. The letter A to be exact. When you consider the large amount of war and strife created by this simple, one-code gene, it really starts to make you wonder.
Leaders of the study, at Penn State University, warned against interpreting the finding as a discovery of "the race gene." Race is a vaguely defined biological, social and political concept, they noted, and skin color is only part of what race is -- and is not.

In fact, several scientists said, the new work shows just how small a biological difference is reflected by skin color. The newly found mutation involves a change of just one letter of DNA code out of the 3.1 billion letters in the human genome -- the complete instructions for making a human being.

It should be noted that this is only a skin color gene and not truly a "race" gene. There exist so many other factors that make up "race" and "culture" and that is not limited to simply one tiny gene. The skin-color gene does not influence other genes like intelligence, athletic ability, dexterity, and other such human traits. Knowing where the existance of the skin color gene isn't going to revolutionize any aspect of our lives. It's merely a human curiosity based upon our historical obcession with skin color.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Privacy vs. Law

The word FINALLY comes to mind.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced the arrest of 13 Louisiana fugitives who went into hiding during the evacuation from Hurricane Katrina.

All 11 men and two women were wanted in connection with some type of violent crime, including three on charges of homicide. Nine were arrested in Houston, two in Fort Worth, one in Austin and one in Conroe.

The fugitives were captured in late November and December, using information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security. Law enforcement officers in Harris, Tarrant and Montgomery counties assisted in the arrests.

"Texans rightly opened our arms and hearts our Louisiana neighbors as they fled the devastation of Hurricane Katrina,'' Abbott said today in a prepared statement. "But even as we provided a refuge for evacuees in need, we will not allow fugitives from the law to exploit the situation by hiding in our state.''

The fugitives who were arrested applied for FEMA aid, Abbott. He said it was difficult to get a list of people who applied for financial assistance.

"We worked and worked and worked with FEMA for weeks on end and FEMA failed and refused to give us the information we needed," he said. "They put up roadblocks."

Abbott would not say if he thought Katrina evacuees were contributing to an increased crime rate in Houston, but acknowledged that some evacuees have
committed crimes in the state of Texas, including one man who was arrested in
the Dallas area for molesting a child.

Read 'em finally

Certain friends and relatives will be glad to know that I finally read Harry Potter. Yup, I took the whole series down in about a week and a half. One of my friends had asked why a book worm like me had managed to pass it up. Well, simply, there's just a lot of stuff out there to read! Here's some other stuff I've read in the past month:

Hard Sell
The First Emancipator (okay, just the introduction cause it really summed it up)
Nodame Cantabile
Fushigi Yugi
6 Harry Potter books
Once in a Blue Moon
Ride the River (by Louis L'amour)
various dental magazines in the bathroom
Kare Kano
Death Note
The Lazarus Trap

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Parent's Influence

More from my bathroom reading...

From the American Dental Hygiensts' Association's ACCESS magazine (sorry, there's no link.)

Children's Ideas about Alcohol and Cigarettes Influenced by Parents

A recent study led by Madeline A. Dalton, PhD, of Dartmouth College in
Hanover, New Hampshire, showed that children ages two to six years old were
significantly more likely to "purchase" cigarettes and alcohol while pretending
to shop if they had observed their parens smoking and drinking . They were
four times as likely to choose cigarettes if their parents smokes, and threee
times as likely to select alcohol if their parents drank at least once a

The study was designed as a role-playing exercise in which children ages
three to six years old were given two dolls and asked to pretend to be one,
while the researcher pretended to be the other. The researcher acted as a
friend who had been invited to dinner by the child, creating a need for the
child to visit a grocery store and select items to purchase for the even.
The exercise was simplified for the two-year old children, who were instructed
to select a doll and take it shopping. The child's purchase of alcohol and
cigarettes at the store, and the use of these products subsequently, were
recorded by the researcher.


The findings support that children are heavily influenced by their parents'
actions when determining how alcohol and cigarettes are used during social

This study is unique because of the preschool age children that it involved and tested. Parental influence is so strong, even at this young age. The children haven't even started to make an "informed decision"- it was already taught to them by their parents.

Longevity Quiz Show

I would so love to see this come to America but I don't think it will happen. My husband loves to make fun of me already so I'm sure I would wind up on a show like this. ;)

From Nodame Cantabile v.3:
The Longevity Quiz show is a reference to a quiz show on Japanese TV where
the contestants are senior citizens who have, to put it nicely, lost some of
their noodles. They are asked simple questions, but because they have such
profound memory loss, the answers can be hilarious

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Obsession with chronicles of Narnia

The Lutheran Witness had a really great article addressing the some people's obsession with trying to label The Chronicles of Narnia as a the next big Christian film.

The Chronicles are not Scriptures

Surprisingly, one of the reasons that some readers are skeptical of the Narnia books is that they have numerous allusions to Scripture. Seeing these reflections, many readers identify these books as allegories. But Lewis did not. They are not substitutes for another story, nor does everything in the books symbolize something else. As a professor of English language and literature, Lewis was well versed in allegory and deliberately wrote these stories with more subtlety.

Certainly, there are biblical parallels, but the stories are not simply a recast Gospel. Lewis’s stepson, Douglas Gresham, who is also a coproducer of the movie, recognizes
parallels, saying that a viewer who looks for Christian symbolism will find it, but notes that the story is also about relationships, chivalry, honor, commitment, duty, honesty, and family values.

These assessments do not diminish the parallels that are present in the story, but they provide an important caution. While the release of this movie—and the resurgence of interest in the books—provides a good opportunity for Christian witness, we should not be too aggressive. Christians who overzealously demand parallels between Aslan and Christ may cause some to avoid the movie. Allowing the plot to stand for itself opens it to a wider audience.

Is Aslan Christ?

If ever there was a literary parallel to Jesus, it is here. Aslan vividly demonstrates a sacrificial death, and a resurrection. He is like Jesus, exemplifying many of the things that Jesus did and taught. But Aslan is not equal to Jesus. He is a fictional character with significant parallels to the historic, biblical Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I have some rather unique bathroom reading material now.

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene magazine:

Stormy, a 5-year-old groundhog living at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill,
was fitted with braces to correct his teeth. Groundhogs need their two bottom
and top incisors to eat. These teeth continue to grow throughout their lives,
naturally staying worn down through chewing and gnawing. Stormy’s bottom
incisors came in crooked and, as a result, did not wear down—making chewing his
food impossible unless his incisors were trimmed by the zoo’s veterinarian, Tom
Meehan, DVM. With the consult of a Milwaukee dentist who specializes in animal
dentistry, John Sheels, DDS, Meehan wired the groundhog’s bottom incisors
together in August. Thus far, the braces have been a success and Stormy’s teeth
are being brought into occlusion.

How do you spell ice cicles?

There aren't many freezes in Texas but this one was fun. There was tons of ice but not many power outages in the area. School wasn't cancelled for us and the ice lastest two days. The vehicles were covered with ice and we couldn't open our doors. Finally, Mark managed to get the trunk of the van open and crawled in from there. The seat on the motorcycle cracked when Mark banged on it and the electronic controls on one of the back windows on the van don't work anymore. The kids practiced their ninja kicks on the ice covered bushes and walked to school, even in the freezing cold. After all, that's why I keep those things called coats, gloves, scarves, and sweaters in the closet.

Whitney kept trying to walk home without her coat on. Twice, she escaped from under her teacher's watchful eye in just her sweater. For the many kids that just run outside and hop in a warm car, that would have been fine. One of the days I picked them up because of the rain but the second day she was completely freezing and her hands had turned an extreme shade of red- and her coat was inches away in her backpack. Now, I can't help but doubt the sanity of a child who was so dang cold but didn't get her coat out and put it on.... sigh. I emailed her teacher and yelled at her older sister and now Whitney will always have her coat on!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's only 28 degrees!

Yesterday morning, even though it was below freezing, I made my kids walk to school. Now Sonia had gotten a cute fleece pink shawl as a gift yesterday and was determined to wear it to school. She had put on three long-sleeve shirts, the fleece, danced around outside, and proclaimed herself to be completely okay. Ha ha. Well, I sure wasn't going to stand for that and yes, there were tears. I told her that those tears were going to freeze on her face if they didn't get dried up. Finally, she put on her that brand new pink and fluffy coat we bought her just for this reason.

Jarod threw a fit because I made him wear a hat and the green scarf wasn't the green scarf he wanted. It was the other green green scarf to match the green hat that he wanted. He wasn't happy with the green hat to begin with but the other green green scarf matched the green hat better than this green scarf. It was very strange of him.

And Whitney did her usual "I don't know where it is" routine again.

And so I sent them out of the door, all of them unhappy for some reason or another.

But then I suddenly felt guilty, like I was a horrible parent because my kids were walking to school in the cold weather. What would the other parents think of me? Last year I tried to get the kids to walk to school in the cold weather. The little smarties immeadiately walked next door and asked the neighbor for a ride! My guilt and worry grew so, I threw on clothes, thermals, and my warmest coat and ran down the street to join the kids. I went around the bend and could see them about six houses down. The kids had already met up with other kids walking to school too. Mine had stripped all the hats and scarfs and shoved them into backpacks. Sonia looked like she had unzipped her coat.

I laughed and watched the kids from a distance for a short while before turning back to the house. I heated up some water and enjoyed some hot chocolate by myself.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas Parade

This Sunday we had our local city Christmas Parade with a great turnout. My husband and his dental hygiene class had been working on their float for the past couple of weekends and our Scout pack built their float on Saturday. Kia let us build the Scout float in their garages and the kids came home completely filthy and happy. Whitney had paint all over her pants and Sonia probably ruined her nicest with grease. Jarod got some paint on his new jeans but boys look all the more tougher with some work stains on their pants.

I've decided that Local Parades are a joy. Our twin cities are just big enough to make for an interesting parade but still have that small-town feel. I was amazed by how many people I knew on the floats and the many faces I knew in the crowd. The Texas A&M University stuff started the parade off this year with style and class. The Ross Volunteers, the Corp unit that performs at all the formal occasions, led of the parade with some snazzy marching and drilling. Then the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band a.k.a, the Pulse of Aggieland, and the Fish Drill Team followed up. Wow!

The kids' school float took the Grand Prize this year with their "Parade on Parade" idea. Each child was dressed as a float, car, or horse group as part of the typical groups that join in the parade. It was a treat and deserved the prize. The Student Dental Hygiene float took First Prize in the Collgiate entry but our Scout float didn't do anything. We had a ton of fun though and passed out a lot of candy. The dental float passed out 1000 toothbrushes, plus samples of toothepaste and mouthwash donated to the groups. They ran out of stuff even before the halfway point! Our scout float was towards the end of the parade floats (we waited 2 hrs just to get started) and we had heard that the other half wasn't getting any candy or goodies. We saved most of our candy until the end and filled the hands of the all the kids (or as many as we could at a runner's pace) with goodies and fun.

Later that evening, the local PBS station put the full 3 hr parade on television! I got to see the other floats and the dental float with my girls on it. :) Sonia and Whitney were so excited! They had made themselves "tooth crowns" to wear on the float. Sonia doesn't get the pun even though it was her idea. The scout float was on TV too but I fell fast asleep on the couch and didn't get to see myself on air. The dvds of the program are on tv so I hope that the library will get it soon.