Thursday, November 30, 2006

A good laugh

Today was the last day of international law class and we had the best laugh. One student, at the begining of class, asked the professor what she should do with the rest of her life and we spent the next hour or more having a group therapy session. His advice was to do whatever you want to do and tell everyone who tries to tell you what to do to go to hell (including your mother!) It was so great to have the chance to just talk and laugh at this hectic time of the semester. I think we all needed it.

Unfortunately, now I have to return to the grindstone of paper writing. :(

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Prenatal programming or just a bad example?

MSNBC - Future smokers may be programmed in womb
Future smokers may be programmed in the womb to take up the habit later in life, research published on Tuesday said.

Scientists in Australia have discovered that children of women who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to become smokers than other youngsters.

They suggest nicotine from cigarettes passes through the placenta and may act directly on the developing brain of the unborn child.

. . .

The researchers studied the smoking patterns of more than 3,000 mothers and their children who took part in a long-term study in Brisbane, Australia.

Children of the 1,000 women who had smoked during pregnancy were three times more likely to start smoking by the age of 14 and twice as likely afterwards compared to other children.
I really feel like this report is missing some vital information. What is the nature of the "other youngsters"? Are these other children ones whose mothers smoke now but did not smoke while pregnant? What about if the father smokes and the mother is exposed to second-hand smoke while pregnant, but does not personally smoke? What if she only smokes in the first few weeks of pregnancy, but stops as soon as she finds out she is pregnant?

It seems fair to me to think that if a woman smokes while she is pregnant, she is likely to continue to smoke after the child is born. If these are the only cases that were tested against the children of women who were never smokers, it seems hard to defend the idea that it is "preprogrammed in the womb" and not just picking up the habits of the parent.

I have never been a smoker. However, when I was pregnant with my middle child (now 15 years old) I was around second-hand smoke a lot. That's why I would be interested in knowing the real results of such a survey that was really scientific and had appropriate control groups.

Again I say, more information in the report would have been helpful.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let us remember today to take the time to count our many blessing and think about all the things we should be thankful for.

I'm thankful to have a wonderful husband and great kids (that really don't give me too much to worry about).

I'm thankful for my extended family and friends that make my life a much happier place than it could possibly be without them.

I'm thankful to be almost finished with graduate school, but I will be so much happier when I can say that I'm thankful I actually finished graduate school.

I'm also thankful that I don't actually have to cook Thanksgiving dinner today (thanks to the extended family I already mentioned).

God bless you all and again, Happy Thanksgiving.

Check out some others giving thanks around the blogosphere.
Politics in Alabama

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Sad Day

Today is a sad day. We had a kitten show up at our house a week or so ago. We tried to give it away, but no one wanted to take it. We had basically decided to keep it, but now it is gone. Some dogs came into our yard this afternoon and killed it. The vet said they broke its back.

A warning to anyone out there who lives in my neighborhood. Troy has a leash law. Follow it! I will be calling the cops if I see anymore dogs in my yard. I have a dog, but I keep her either in a fenced yard or on a leash. You can do it too. If you don't like it, move out of the city limits!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What is the ultimate answer?

NY Times - Democrats Split on How Far to Go With Ethics Law
After railing for months against Congressional corruption under Republican rule, Democrats on Capitol Hill are divided on how far their proposed ethics overhaul should go.

Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate, mindful that voters in the midterm election cited corruption as a major concern, say they are moving quickly to finalize a package of changes for consideration as soon as the new Congress convenes in January.

. . .

Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat tapped by party leaders last year to spearhead ethics proposals, said he was pushing for changes with more teeth. “The dynamic is different now,” Mr. Obama said Friday. “We control both chambers now, so it is difficult for us to have an excuse for not doing anything.”

He is pushing to create an independent Congressional ethics commission and advocates broader campaign-finance changes as well.

. . .

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who will oversee any proposal as the incoming chairwoman of the Rules Committee, for example, said she was opposed to an independent Congressional ethics watchdog. “If the law is clear and precise, members will follow it,” she said in an interview. “As to whether we need to create a new federal bureaucracy to enforce the rules, I would hope not.”

I suppose the question is whether to let the political process deal with corruption, as it obviously did in the mid-term election, or to create even more bureaucracy in Washington. It is a difficult question actually. We, of course, want to feel like there are laws that govern what our elected officials do and some mechanism, other than self-policing, to enforce those laws. However, one has to ask whether this new bureaucracy would really accomplish anything, or if it would just put more people on the government payroll that could be tempted by the same corrupting forces that are currently at work.

What is the ultimate answer?
42 - okay, not really.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Thumb

Auburn wins 5th straight 22-15 over Bama
The loss left Alabama coach Mike Shula winless in four tries against his team's biggest rival and answering questions about his job security.
That's what I'm wondering about. How long can Shula keep his job if he keeps this up? My guess, not long at all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Maybe I was wrong

In a post I wrote at the beginning of the semester I said that I wasn't going to miss being in graduate school. I'm realizing that I was wrong in making that statement.

It is the time of the semester when students are registering for next semester's classes and it is actually making me a little sad to know that I won't be taking classes next term.

It is true that I won't miss the deadlines and the papers. (I should be working on papers right now and I'm not.) But I am going to miss going to class. This has been a good semester and I have really enjoyed my Developing Nations class (even though it is a double listed class) and the Theory and Ideology class I was unoffically auditing to prepare for my comps. The classes have been fun and interesting and the group of people has been great too.

I suppose one might argue that I'm suffering from a fear of the unknown. But I think it is equally, or possibly more so, a fear of the known. Before I started back to school I just stayed at home and I really don't want to go back to that. I look forward to the idea of getting a job, but as I mentioned in the previous post, my options are geographically limited. I know I need to have a way to be out of the house and around other adults. Hopefully it will all work out well and I'm sure it will.

But I just really felt the need to say that I was wrong. I will miss it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Is this really necessary?

MSN - T-Shirt Turns Air Guitar Into Music
Scientists announced Monday that they have developed a high-tech T-shirt that turns the strumming of an air guitar into music.

The T-shirt has motion sensors built into its elbows that pick up the wearer's arm motions and relay them wirelessly to a computer which interprets them as guitar rifts. . .

And this will be good for what? one might ask. Well, they have a plan
Helmer said sensors could be used in the future to reproduce a person in the virtual world so they could get feedback on their actions and improve their sporting techniques.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

well, duh!

Everyone always tells me I have a Southern accent. When I recently went out to Idaho, people thought I was from Texas.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The South

That's a Southern accent you've got there. You may love it, you may hate it, you may swear you don't have it, but whatever the case, we can hear it.

The Midland
The Northeast
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

The results box they give you to post is screwy. The one you see when you take the test gives you red line indicators by the other possible accents, but they don't show up in box above when I view it with Mozilla. Oh well.
My red line on Southern was almost all the way across.
Midland and Philadelphia were only slightly shorter than Southern.
Northeast and Inland North were just over halfway across.
The West about 1/3 across.
Boston was about 1/4.
I didn't registar at all in North Central.

H/T: Poliblog

Friday, November 10, 2006


For those of you following my graduate school saga, I PASSED MY COMPS!!!!! I just recieved notification from my advisor that I successfully passed all four sections of my comprehensive exam. Let's just say I'm rather happy about that fact.

Now in the next four weeks I just have four papers to write and a final exam to take and I'll be done! That's a lot of work. I'd better get busy!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Odd but interesting

Someone from 'Thoughts and Rumors' decided to leave a quiz in the comment section on one of my previous posts. It is totally unrelated spam but I decided to keep it anyway. It kinda fun if you want to check it out. Click here.

Allen Concedes

MSNBC - Allen concedes in Virginia Senate race
Republican Sen. George Allen conceded defeat Thursday to Democrat Jim Webb, sealing the Democrats’ control of Congress and the political downfall of a man once considered a White House contender.

“I respect their decision,” Allen said of Virginia voters during a speech to supporters. “I called to congratulate Jim Webb and his team.”

I'm really glad to hear it, and not just because I'm glad to see the Democrats take control of the Senate (although I am glad of that fact).

It is important to remember that democracy has to have winners and loser. Losers have to be willing to accept the will of the people and bow out gracefully for the system to work. It is nice to see the system work the way it is designed to work.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

County-by-county results

Looking at Poliblog's list of counties affected by Amendment 2 on yesterday's election and's county by county election results, I compiled this list.

Autauga - yes (54.58%)
Barbour - yes (54.92%)
Bibb - no (57.52%)
Blount - no (58.60%)
Chilton - no (53.65%)
Conecuh - yes (59.94%)
Covington - yes (52.75%)
Crenshaw - no (by 3 votes) (50.05%)
Cullman - no (67.75%)
Dale - no (52.83%)
Elmore - yes (51.08%)
Fayette - no (64.79%)
Hale - no (51.35%)
Houston - no (59.20%)
Jackson - no (51.09%)
Lamar - no (61.48%)
Lawrence - no (59.67%)
Limestone - no (54.42%)
Marengo - yes (54.57%)
Marion - no (58.29%)
Montgomery - yes (61.03%)
Pike - yes (60.85%)
Tuscaloosa - yes (51.01%)
Walker - no (64.95%)

Out of 24 affected counties, 9 voted in favor of the Amendment. I didn't list the totals or the percentages, but some of the counties that passes it did so by a good margin, others were close. The same was true of the ones that did not pass it. It was really a mixed bag.

I did not check the counties that were not affected, but obviously there was substancial support for the amendment even in the counties that were affected.

Update: It just seemed incomplete without the percentages so I went back and added them.

Webb carries Virginia

Democrat Webb wins Virginia Senate race: AP
The AP has called the Virginia Senate race in favor of Democratic challenger James Webb. From what I can find, Allen has not yet conceded, however. All the talk seems to indicate there will be a recount, but it seems that for the moment the Democrats have won the Senate as well as the House.

Rumsfeld Resigns!!

Washington Post - Rumsfeld to Step Down as Defense Secretary
President Bush today announced he is replacing Donald H. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, saying a "fresh perspective" is needed at the Pentagon to deal with the war in Iraq.
I do wonder about the timing of this announcement. Although Bush says that it was a foregone conclusion before the election
He added later, "Win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee."
I haven't believed what he had to say before and I really see no reason to start believing him now. I think that it is just as likely that they were waiting to see how the elections went. If the Republicans had held the Congress, I think Bush would have held onto Rumsfeld.

For some alternate opinions on the subject, check out Poliblog and Outside the Beltway.

Tester wins in Montana

National Post - Democrats win Montana Senate seat
Democrats erased the Republican Senate majority Wednesday with a cliffhanger victory in Montana, hours after taking control of the House in an election that delivered a rebuke of GOP scandal, the Iraq war and the course of a nation.

With Democrats now assured of 50 Senate seats, the battle for outright control came down to Virginia, where the party's candidate, Jim Webb, held a small lead.

I can't say as I know that much about Montana, but I have been there before. When I think about it, it doesn't really surprise me that they ousted their Republican. I think that in the West there is a strong sense of personal accountability. I think that is what ultimately did Burns in.

Too close to call

NY Times - Democrats Seize Control of House; Senate Hangs on Virginia and Montana
But the fate of the Senate remained in doubt this morning, as races for Republican-held seats in Montana and Virginia remained too close to call as Election Day turned into the day after. Democrats would need both seats to win control of the Senate as well.

In Montana, Senator Conrad Burns, a Republican, was trailing Jon Tester, a Democrat, by a narrow margin. The race in Virginia — between another Republican incumbent, Senator George Allen, and Jim Webb, his Democratic challenger — was so close that some officials said it would have to be resolved by a recount.

I think it is interesting that the Democrat is actually in the lead in the states that are too close to call. Things are looking better than I thought they might be at this point. It is certainly going to be interesting times ahead.

Returns update

In the Alabama election returns it appears that the close races I commented on last night have now been called.

With 98% reporting, Folsom retains 51% of the vote.

With 99% reporting Cobb has a slightly larger lead with 52% or the vote.

The Amendment actually passed pretty handily. With 99% reporting, the "yes" vote had 59% of the vote. (It had actually been called before I even went to bed last night.)

There are, of course, other states with Senate races still too close to call.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Returns

From what I've seen, it looks like Amendment #2 will pass. It is currently 90% reporting and 58% voting in favor. I guess Tal was better informed than I was. I am, however, pleasantly surprised.

I'm also happy to see that Jim Folsom, Jr. is in the lead. I hope he pulls it out. With 92% reporting Folsom has 52% of the vote.

Also with 90% reporting, Sue Bell Cobb is leading with 52% of the vote.

I'm going to bed now. Maybe nothing will have changed drastically by the time I wake up in the morning.

All returns stats via WSFA.

Remember to Vote!!

I know it is a little late in the day to be making this suggestion, but REMEMBER TO VOTE TODAY!!!

An Idea

I had an idea this morning as to how we could increase voter turnout, maybe even get full participation.

Congress just needs to pass a full participation law with the enforcement mechanism being that the political ads don't stop until everyone has voted (or at least some high percentage). I really think that candidates should get about 2 weeks to run their ads and then the electorate could start voting. Once the required percentage had voted, the candidates would be required to stop campaigning.

I think a lot more people would be willing to vote if they knew it would make the commercials and political telemarketers and pollsters stop. What do you think?

Monday, November 06, 2006

I guess I should have mentioned. . .

I took my comps on Friday. They were long and exhausting. I don't feel too bad about how I did on them. Maybe I'll know how I did on them soon.

My youngest son (who is 9 years old) asked me last night if I knew yet what I made on them. I told him that I didn't and that the professors didn't even have a copy of them yet. He responded by saying that he hoped they would tell us soon. He ended with saying "Don't they know that the suspense is killing us!"

He's so cute.

A four finned dolphin

MSNBC - Dolphin reveals an extra set of "legs"
Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of hind legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land.
I'm never quite sure what to make of "throw-back" characteristics like that, but it is interesting none the less.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The verdict is in

MSN News reports Saddam sentenced to death by hanging.
Iraq's High Tribunal on Sunday found Saddam Hussein guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to hang for the 1982 killing of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail.
I'm not generally a supporter of the death penalty, but I think I can make an exception in this case. The whole thing's not over just yet though.
The death sentences automatically go to a nine-judge appeals panel which has unlimited time to review the case. If the verdicts and sentences are upheld, the executions must be carried out within 30 days.
Although Saddam made a call for Iraqi unity after his sentencing, I can't imagine this will really give them any unity or peace.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Boise Trip Pictures

I finally got around to uploading some of our pictures from our trip to Boise.
Image hosted by
by rainbowjane
Feel free to go check them out.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

As always, there are amendments

For any of you interested in Alabama politics, there are 3 amendments on the upcoming ballot. #1 and #3 appear to be local issues that, due to the idiocy of our current constitution, require a statewide vote. #2 is a bit more confusing to me. It appears that it will raise local property taxes in certain, undisclosed locations around the state in order to properly fund schools. I am, of course, in favor of using property taxes to fund school instead of using the ever popular (and regressive) sales tax. However, I wish the amendment was a bit clearer. I fear that anything that even hints at raising property taxes will be voted down.

UPDATE: from what I can gather from reading this RSA article, combined with Tal's comment, I'm assuming that this amendment will change the funding requirement from allowing the equivalent of 10 mills from local property tax, to actually requiring the collection of 10 mills of property tax to fund education.