Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thank you John Edwards

John Edwards was my guy until recently when that upstart Barack Obama stole my heart. Edwards was constant in his words to what he set out saying when he threw his hat into the presidential ring. However, his message never gathered steam, and today he’s chosen to withdraw from the presidential race with class and grace, and for that, I thank him. His voice is one we needed.

Who will his supporters choose now? For me, it was always a clear-cut choice: either Edwards or Obama. Never did I consider Hillary Clinton. It was the electability issue. It was the arrogance, sense of entitlement and those “35 years of experience” in the ways of old-school politics and tactics. I never longed for a “co-presidency” and did not care to go “Back to the Future.”

So now Hillary’s put the choke collar on Bill and given it a big yank. Former President Clinton has chilled out his rhetoric but only after the Clinton campaign lost Sen. Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama--an endorsement that logically should have been hers.

Whether this endorsement will help Obama win over the hearts and votes of Hispanic voters and other core Democratic factions remains to be seen. However, the symbolism is striking. I hope he picks up some Edwards’ supporters too and that this combination will be enough to propel him ahead of Clinton, who continues to lead in some big states.

I do have great hope. Maybe you’ve seen the new Obama ads with Caroline Kennedy speaking over the images of her late father. Do you remember how energized and proud Americans were back then? The positive tone of this ad speaks to the reason Obama has touched so many tired Democrats who have for so long dutifully gone to the polls and voted with the party though disappointed and disillusioned.

Now, with Obama’s campaign we have a glimmer of hope that the old divisive and destructive ways of politics might change.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Subject is Hair

Dear gentle readers of the male persuasion may skip this post unless you’d care to get a little insight about women. You see I’m growing my hair out. I can’t think most men spend as much time with their hair as we women do. With you guys, it’s pretty much wash-and-go. Dana Carvey’s Church Lady on Saturday Night Live was so fond of saying, “How convenient!”

Anyway, it seems we are always on our way to a new style or thinking about it. During those days when I didn’t have to worry about MY hair, I once had a lady in the supermarket ask, “Where’d you get your hair fixed?” I didn’t hem and haw in replying, “Oh, it’s a wig.” “Well, it sure is cute,” she replied.

Yes, that was one advantage during those days. However, I have been growing out my short cut since before Christmas and now it’s at that stage where I need some kind of trim. My dilemma is whether to have the stylist cut some bangs or just keep heading toward a sweep to the side in front. Right now when I brush it back it kind of looks like Hillary Clinton’s current do, and y’all know what I think about her.

Any guys still with me at this point weigh in. Do you actually notice or care how the women in your life fix their hair? Well, I’m sure I will work out this little issue. But you women know what I’m talking about.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Coloring books

Do kids still color in coloring books? I know I loved them. If I had to be home from school because I was sick, my mom always picked up one at the drug store when she collected my prescription. And even in healthy times, I could often be found coloring away. Maybe they do curb artistic expression in some, but I credit them with giving me a chance to experiment with color. Anyway, I went on to do my own thing eventually.

Dover Publications puts out some of the nicest coloring books these days and they are a fairly inexpensive way to introduce kids to art. This designer likes and uses Dover Publications often for inspiration. If you sign up for the Dover Sampler, they’ll even E-mail you free designs to download each week such as this floral sample.

Looking at the sample almost makes me want to round up the Crayolas. Speaking of which, check out this link to for online coloring fun. You can choose from colored pencils, markers and of course, Crayolas.

Do you remember how exciting it was when school started and you got that huge box of crayons? There seemed to be infinite possibilities then. I charge you to explore your creativity. And don’t tell me you aren’t creative, because I will just think you aren’t trying.

Note: the sample is from Color Your Own Great Flower Prints

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stephen Colbert’s Persuasion

I’m a little late in writing about this story from last week, but it’s too good not to say a few words. Comedy Central’s faux pundit Stephen Colbert has succeeded in getting the Smithsonian Institution to hang his portrait in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. for a six-week showing. The museum placed Colbert’s portrait in what it deemed an “appropriate place”-- between the bathrooms and close to the “America's Presidents” exhibit.

Maybe he can’t get the Democrats to put him on the ballot in South Carolina but he certainly knows how to play a joke to conclusion even without his writers who are on strike.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Clerk Sweeps out the Bad Guy

Before I read about it the Springfield News-Leader, I saw the video on TV and maybe you did too. Springfield has experienced a string of convenience store robberies lately like other cities, and this really isn’t big news. But when the robber attempted to do his bad on one Springfieldian clerk, she took after him with a broom. Cops and store honchos say this is probably not the best course of action when confronted by a robber, but it worked this time.

I guess I can understand the reluctance to hand over the money if the robber fails to brandish a weapon or only shows up with a BB gun as he did at another store. Of course, y’all know Missouri is the Show Me State. Any serious robber best come prepared if he’s expecting the cash.

It now looks like the cops have a suspect who will likely be charged later today.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Focus the Nation National Teach-In

From the Hartford Courant:
With an urgency — and a sense of irreverence — reminiscent of the anti-war movement of the 1960s, a group of activists from Portland, Ore., has recruited students at more than 1,000 college campuses, K-12 schools, civic organizations, church groups and private companies to conduct a massive “teach-in” on global warming Jan. 31.

Focus the Nation, the brainchild of economics Professor Eban Goodstein of Lewis and Clark College, has energized the push for possible solutions to the problem of global warming.

Here in Springfield, students, faculty and community and business leaders are planning a full day of events on Jan. 31 as Drury University hosts Focus the Nation: Nonpartisan Solutions to Global Warming. Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture will be the location for discussions ranging from “The Science of Global Warming” to “What Would Jesus -- and Moses, and Buddha, and Muhammad -- Do?”, which will explore religious values in an environmental context. And "Fanning the Fire - The Common Good: Public Policies We Can Live With" will be a concluding panel discussion by top city leaders.

But Drury University is not the only local university involved with Focus the Nation. Missouri State University reportedly uses 15 tons of coal to power the campus for one hour, and according to the Focus the Nation Web site students will get a very accurate idea of what that looks like when trucks dump 15 tons of coal at the student union the day of the teach-in. I have no idea what 15 tons of coal looks like much less who will clean it all up, and I am so intrigued by this idea that I may have to stop by and see since MSU is in my neighborhood.

Note added after original post: A local source tells me MSU is supposed to have barrels of coal on campus to demonstrate how its energy upgrade of buildings is saving the university tons of money and cutting the area’s coal use. Drury is supposed to dump about 7 tons (not sure about the exact figure) to show the university’s 6-8 hour use of coal each day. This information differs from what is posted on the Focus the Nation Web site which may have been earlier plans. Please don't blame me if you go to either campus looking for all this coal and find things are different.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Scary Clowns

Reuters says kids don’t much like clowns according to a University of Sheffield study reported on in Nursing Standard magazine. Good thing children were consulted about hospital d├ęcor before some do-gooder artist painted up the walls. How frightening to be in the hospital surrounded by scary clowns!

Coulrophobia is what you call fear of clowns and it’s real. Noted sufferers include Johnny Depp, my husband and Bart Simpson who said, “Can’t sleep, clown will eat me.”

I suppose someone is going to have to break this news to the folks at McDonald's and Ronald McDonald himself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hillary on Top

We drove down to Conway, Arkansas, to return son to Hendrix College for the second semester. Classes start today. He switched a couple of classes to get different professors, got out of the semester-long temporary dorm room, bought over $400 worth of books and is happy to be back fresh from a month of sleeping.

I’ve written about this three to four-hour drive through the beautiful Ozarks before, and I absolutely love the wide expanses of trees, mountains and farmland. It is what renews my spirit. And husband and I even talked about returning in a few weeks when the weather warms for a canoe trip on the Buffalo River. I’ll have to get over my fear though. The last time I went canoeing in Missouri was over 20 years ago when we hit a submerged log and capsized. I still remember the murky light above my head as I headed toward it.

Sorry for the digression, but as many bloggers do, I carried the camera along and stopped just outside of Conway for this topical photo. See, my mind is so politically focused that I can’t forget about the 2008 presidential race even if I want. This particular business has concrete statues ranging from Greek gods to chickens. Need a lawn jockey or gnome? They have them. But the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama jackasses immediately captured my attention and I thought the resulting photo was blog-worthy. Only later did I notice the fallen “Proud to be an American” sign.

© 2008 by Sheila Noblitt

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Whiny About Wine

Prosecco, that wonderful Italian sparkling wine, does not need the likes of wild-child Paris Hilton hawking it. I completely understand why Fulvio Brunetta, president of the wine growers association of Treviso, was so adamant when he said, “Hilton hotels are a sign of quality; Paris Hilton is not.” Hilton is featured in advertising for Rich Prosecco, which is soon to be distributed in the U. S. Canned wine sold by an Austrian company and promoted by the gal who had such a terrible time after her D.U.I. Interesting choice.

On the other hand, if you want some real prosecco, Prosecco by Martellozzo is a good deal for $6.99 at Trader Joe’s and is one of our favorite year-round wines. It’s particularly nice in the summer, and with the addition of peach nectar or peach puree, you can make those wonderful Bellinis. The Bellini originated at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, and uses white peach puree and prosecco. Of course, you’ll find Americanized versions at restaurants like the Olive Garden, but it’s a lot easier as well as cheaper to make your own.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Down with Doughnuts--Signs, That Is

Krispy Kreme lost a big sign, but the tornadoes that struck near Springfield, Missouri, were deadly. Two lives were lost. We had tornado warnings in the early evening but those storms mostly skirted Springfield. Then around 2:45 a.m. the wind, rain and sirens awoke us. Those of us used to tornado warnings will ignore them until we really feel threatened. Well, last night we did and we quickly headed down to the basement as we listened to fierce wind buffeting about outside. Slowly the storm moved away and we returned to bed. Daylight brought reports of downed signs, lost roofs and other damage about three miles away. Threats to our safety always seem scary in the middle of the night. This time they were only threats for our little family. I’m sorry for the families whose losses were great.

photo by Dean Curtis

Friday, January 04, 2008

Who Can Inspire

Today, at least for today, I am very pleased that the Establishment is left scratching their heads after the results are in from the Iowa caucuses. If Iowa is indeed the microcosm the media has made it, both Republicans and Democrats want our next president to be different. Sen. Barack Obama and former Gov. Mike Huckabee are of course different, but they are alike in that they spark hope in their supporters. Americans want a president who inspires us and one who is authentic and genuine as best as we can tell.

For the time being Hillary Clinton has been left behind as has Mitt Romney. They come from far different backgrounds than Obama and Huckabee. Clinton grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois, an affluent suburb of Chicago. She graduated Wellesley and Yale Law. One of my sons pointed out that she’s spent much of her adult years living in a governor’s mansion and then the White House. Romney grew up the son of a governor.

Fundamentally, I believe most Americans are tired of political dynasties. It is time for change and the populist tone of this presidential season will only get more intense. And here’s the new buzzword for you: authenticity.

ADVERTISEMENT: visit my CafePress shop, Hail to the Chief, if you'd like see the latest politically inspired designs.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Televangelists Respond to Sen. Grassley

One of my readers, KJ, responded to my post about Sen. Grassley’s inquiry into the finances of certain televangelists including Joyce Meyer Ministries. Here’s a portion of KJ’s comment:

“Joyce Meyer—for one—is above board. I have met her more than once and I have followed her ministry closely. She has actually helped many people avoid the snakes by teaching them how to shed low self-esteem and a victim mentality. . . .

As we start hooraying when it looks like some Christians—or so called Christians—are getting "theirs", I think we need to question our enthusiasm. Is it because we want justice wherever there is abuse, or is it because we have personal issues with Christianity. Just as it is wrong to lump all Middle Eastern people into the category of terrorist, it is wrong to identify all Christians as wolves and hypocrites.”

And I respond,

“I think we hold those claiming "piety" to the standard they proclaim no matter if they are Christians or some other religion or if they are politicians or other public figures. The gotcha moments come when these folks are found out to be less than what they claim to be. For example, the politician who advocates the sanctity of marriage is strung up by the media if it is found out he or she is cheating on the spouse or is secretly engaging in same sex relationships while condemning them. Well, it used to happen this way—I just don't know what to think about Rudy Giuliani’s marital track record and how that’s being treated. Maybe it doesn’t matter as much anymore. But in general, walk the walk and talk the talk. However, I think without delving more deeply into the individual philosophies of some of this bunch, that they are not actually advocating helping the poor and troubled necessarily.”

Now to the responses of those under examination. According to Joyce Meyer Ministries, Sen. Grassley has been furnished the requested information. Meyer issued a well-crafted response to the probe wherein she says for 2006 82% of the money received went for outreach or programs, 13% for administrative costs and 5% for fundraising. In October of this year, she says the organization received a letter from the IRS saying the organization continues to meet the requirements for Federal Income Tax exemption under IRC Section 501 (c) (3). The response also addressed expenditures for furnishings for the Fenton, Missouri, headquarters and explained that $23,000 wasn’t for a real commode (toilet) but was for “a tall elegant chest of drawers.” Should Meyer have spent this for a piece of furniture? Let's just say, if I thought one of my favorite religious nonprofits spent the money I donated in this way I'd be offended.

But, and it's a big one, I am not sure followers of the Gospel of Prosperity expect their leaders to be pious. The Gospel of Prosperity idea as tied to the Bible is not new. I remember in the 1970s a character named Rev. Ike who was my first brush with the notion. Rev. Ike is still around and his Web site has this to say, "As an evangelist, on TV, radio, and at mass meetings, he had the “nerve” to PREACH “Prosperity NOW!” — long before it became popular to do so. He was dismissed by some “mainstream” and “fundamentalist” people, but now many famous preachers, teachers and authors sound just like Rev. Ike — teaching prosperity!"

I digress. Another televangelist, Creflo Dollar (yes, that really is his name if you are to believe his Web site, which says his father Creflo A. Dollar, Sr., named him so) of the World Changers Church International had his lawyers send Sen. Grassley a letter stating that the "ministry" does not intend to provide the information and further
The Church's first Amendment rights and the problems that section 7611 was designed to prevent are implicated by the recent request for information. While we applaud Senator Grassley's dedication to tax law oversight and we can assure you that the church is willing to comply with a proper request for information, we believe that the IRS, through the framework of section 7611, is the appropriate governmental body to review these sensitive matters. Therefore, we respectfully request that Senator Grassley, or the full Senate Finance Committee, refer any information regarding federal tax compliance concerns to the IRS for the agency to evaluate.

A press release from early December indicated that the other organizations were communicating with the senator's office.

Gerald Iversen, national coordinator of Alternatives for Simple Living, over on the Global Ministries United Methodist Church Web site offers a mainstream Christian view with Treasures on Earth: the Gospel of Prosperity. You can imagine that Iversen, who advocates voluntary simplicity or "Living More with Less," might have problems with the Gospel of Prosperity.

I hope I have presented "the rest of the story" as it now stands. Because of how I feel about the First Amendment, I am not anxious to jump on any bandwagon to quiet the voices of these ministries of prosperity and personal growth. It's one of the wonderful things about living in a free society. Sen. Grassley and the Senate Finance Committee will need to tread carefully here but I do encourage them to proceed.