Friday, August 31, 2007

Manhattan farm subsidies

From Yuval Levin of NRO's blog "The Corner"

"Have a look at the map of Manhattan below (used recently by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in a speech). The red dots indicate people who live in Manhattan (and so clearly are neither hurting for money nor tilling the soil on the family farm) but receive agricultural subsidies from the federal government.

The larger red blobs mark people receiving more than a quarter of a million dollars in farm subsidies annually.

The farm bill passed by House Democrats in July would continue giving millionaires farm subsidies (setting the income threshold for payments at $1 million a year, and keeping loopholes in place that allow some making much more to qualify). The Bush administration has proposed sharply reducing the income threshold to $200,000 a year and ending many of those loopholes. That would reduce the number of subsidy recipients by less than 40,000 (of the current million or so recipients)—though I suppose it might put some rooftop gardens on Park Avenue out of commission."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some web!

WILLS POINT, Texas (AP) -- Entomologists are debating the origin and rarity of a sprawling spider web that blankets several trees, shrubs and the ground along a 200-yard stretch of trail in a North Texas park.

Lake Tawokoni State Park rangers Mike McCord, left, and Freddie Gowin check out a giant spider web at the park.

Officials at Lake Tawakoni State Park say the massive mosquito trap is a big attraction for some visitors, while others won't go anywhere near it.

"At first, it was so white it looked like fairyland," said Donna Garde, superintendent of the park about 45 miles east of Dallas. "Now it's filled with so many mosquitoes that it's turned a little brown. There are times you can literally hear the screech of millions of mosquitoes caught in those webs."

Spider experts say the web may have been constructed by social cobweb spiders, which work together, or could be the result of a mass dispersal in which the arachnids spin webs to spread out from one another.

"I've been hearing from entomologists from Ohio, Kansas, British Columbia -- all over the place," said Mike Quinn, an invertebrate biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who first posted photos online.

Herbert A. "Joe" Pase, a Texas Forest Service entomologist, said the massive web is very unusual.

"From what I'm hearing it could be a once-in-a-lifetime event," he said.

But John Jackman, a professor and extension entomologist for Texas A&M University, said he hears reports of similar webs every couple of years.

"There are a lot of folks that don't realize spiders do that," said Jackman, author of "A Field Guide to the Spiders and Scorpions of Texas."

"Until we get some samples sent to us, we really won't know what species of spider we're talking about," Jackman said.

Garde invited the entomologists out to the park to get a firsthand look at the giant web.

"Somebody needs to come out that's an expert. I would love to see some entomology intern come out and study this," she said.

Park rangers said they expect the web to last until fall, when the spiders will start dying off.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Clam quest

As Southerners are beserk about barbecue, so New Englanders are crazy for clams. Most of my southern friends think whole clams are disgusting. That's fine - more for me!

Read this article about the quest for perfect fried clams. Kind of makes me miss the Cape.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Meatrix

You wanna know what's wrong with food? Watch the cleverest way to make the case for sustainable agriculture.

You MUST check out The Meatrix.

Tango malanga

Ah, to live in New York. At six o'clock on summer Saturdays, head to the Park near Shakespeare's statue for a 90-minute tango salon.

Watch the fun video from the NYT.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Accent on Design

Take a look at this supercool slide show.

From Marianna Rohrlich at the NYT: "MANY new and amusing products for the home were introduced last week at Accent on Design, a trade show for the home furnishings industry held in New York at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. "

The photo above: "The Book of Lights ($95), designed by Takeshi Ishiguro, is a coffee table book that becomes a lamp with a shade when it is opened; for locations: (323) 655-6551 or"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mario Batali’s Pizza Dough

Click here for Mario Batali's Pizza Dough recipe.

From the NYT.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Faith-based farming

Please, please, read "Of Church and Steak: Farming for the Soul," by Joan Nathan of the NYT. It's a wonderful article about the resurgence of faith-based farming and environmental practices. Reasoning that God made the earth and gave us dominion over it, this new breed of farmer sees his vocation as exercising proper stewardship over the creation.

Caring for the land, caring for animals, caring for our workers - proper farming is serious business. From the article:

"For many who farm according to religious principles, the treatment of animals is a great concern. Catherine and Myron Horst of Dickerson, Md., wrote about the problem on their Bible study Web site,, in an article called “Farming Based on the Word of the God.”

“The secular corporate business world and the state universities have dismissed God from the farming picture,” they wrote. The Horsts wanted to alter that picture when they took over a 38-acre farm seven years ago.

“We asked the Lord what we were to do with the farm,” said Mr. Horst, a born-again Christian.

So he and his wife put their chickens out to pasture during the day, gather the eggs by hand, and move them back to shelters at night. It is far more work then keeping them cooped up or caged, but for the Horsts the Bible’s promise of dominion “over every living thing” entails responsibilities as well as rights.

Faith-based farming can also mean taking responsibility for the hired hands. Roy Brubaker, a Mennonite who grows strawberries, blueberries and vegetables on his 20-acre farm near Mifflintown, Pa., said: “My faith tells me that workers should be fairly paid. I have never paid the minimum wage. That is not the biblical standard for a living wage.”

Joel Salatin, who is considered a guru of organic agriculture, said he has seen a change in the people who visit his Polyface farm in Virginia.

“Ten years ago most of my farm visitors were earth muffin tree-hugger nirvana cosmic worshipers,” Mr. Salatin said. “And now 80 percent of them are Christian home schoolers.”"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Combo plate has new meaning

I think I'm gonna be sick. Can you read the sign? It really says "deep fried oreos & snickers."

From the article in the NYT:

'“This is a slice of heaven,” said Ryan Howell, 31, as he cradled his Combo Plate, which, for the record, consists of one battered Snickers bar, two battered Oreos and a battered Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup — all deep-fried in oil that is trans-fat free, thank goodness.'

I did not mention that the article is about food vendors at the Indiana State Fair who now have to abide by a trans-fat ban.

Like the Publican, I am always looking for someone worse than I. Certainly I am better than the deep-fried oreo-eater!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Chocolate better than flouride for healthy teeth

Is nothing impossible for chocolate?

"New research suggests an extract of cocoa powder that occurs naturally in chocolates, teas, and other products might be an effective natural alternative to fluoride in toothpaste, according to Tulane University doctoral candidate Arman Sadeghpour.

Sadeghpour said his research revealed that the cocoa extract was even more effective than fluoride in fighting cavities, according to a news release from the university.

Here's the link to the article.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die

Here's the original list - there's now an update. Some of the original restaurants on the list have closed, so new dishes were added. Click here to see the new additions.

The winner of the Alabama tomato recipe contest was the Alabama Warm Tomato Tart pictured here - and here's the link to the recipe.

I'm taking all this with a grain of salt, as I could easily die without eating chicken fingers from Guthrie's.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ode to a grilled cheese

Amy Scattergood of the LA Times writes:

"Like many true comfort food classics, a grilled cheese sandwich comes trailing clouds not of glory precisely, but of memory." I would argue for both glory and memory but who really cares?

Read about the wonder of the grilled cheese sandwich. The article's here. Should add the caveat: The LA Times online is subscriber only - but it's free!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pray for Connie Calloway

Dr. Calloway is the new superintendent of the Detroit Public School System.

Read all about her in the latest edition of World.

For Dinner Tonight: Grilled Vegetable Salad

This could be one of the best grilled vegetable salads I've ever tried - and one of the easiest! Prep and grill time are both short, with a tangy cilantro/lime/cumin/jalapeno dressing (made in a blender).

Go ahead, make your day with Wolfgang Puck's Grilled Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese and Garlic Toasts. Great summer dinner!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Vandals apprehended, repentant, forgiven.

"Yesterday, we looked like the world." How true.

I am so thankful that I belong to a church and school that tells the truth!

Westminster Christian Academy had a wonderful Chapel today. On the heels of yesterday's vandalism came the knowledge that the perpetrators were former students - graduates of last year's class of 2007.

There were five: four pulled the prank, and one provided the key to the building. Headmaster Craig Bouvier opened with prayer, re-capped yesterday's events and introduced the former students with these thoughts:

1. Don't judge these people - we are all capable of the same and more.
2. Listen to them - do not make comments of any kind.
3. Arrangements for restitution have been made, and they are no one's business.

When they had made their public apologies, Mr. Bouvier forgave all of them on behalf of the school. Then he prayed, thanked God for them, asked for the power of the Holy Spirit to change - both the students' hearts and our own. He confessed that we were guilty of rumor and gossip, and wanted to be more like Christ.

So we all move on, trusting in Christ for forgiveness of sins and the power of the Holy Spirit to change us.

Yesterday, we looked like the world. Today we looked more like Christ. But some day, soon and very soon, we will look just like our Savior.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Vandals Strike Westminster Christian Academy

Well, this is interesting. I work at WCA - normally an uneventful place with regards to criminal activity. When administrators arrived to school early this morning, they found hallways and classrooms vandalized: vegetable oil, glitter, confetti, toilet paper. What a huge mess!

Check out the video at channel 19. Click on "Vandals Strike Westminster Christian Academy" and take a look.

OR, look at Channel 48's "Update: Vandals force closure of local school" here.

We didn't make the cut on channel 31.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New Headmaster Simpsonized!

Fred Rice writes: "In the interest of fairness and equal opportunity, I think Craig Bouvier should be there also! I want to see that bow tie Simpsonized."

Craig Bouvier is the new headmaster at Westminster Christian Academy. Though he's only been here for two months, the guys are treating him like an old-timer!

Here's Craig:

Simpsonized Craig:

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Simpsonize Me!

My friend Wendy turned me on to "Simpsonization." This is so much fun. Click on this link to "Simpsonize" your photo. The only (good) photos I have in my library are the Wesminster Presbyterian Church's staff portraits. So I put them in the Simpsonizer. You upload the photo in the "machine," answer a few questions and poof! In a few minutes you look just like a character on The Simpsons! Of course, some pictures made the transition better than others. For instance, here's the real Charlie Wingard:

Charlie Simpsonized:

The one and only Eric Zellner:
EZ Simpsonized:

Fred (the best Bible teacher) Rice:

his alter ego:

The cool Curry Knight:

Proud Papa Jason Kennedy:

Our Music Director, Fred Kooi:

So, what do you think? Let me just say now - Susan, Eric is waaay cuter than that; his cartoon version doesn't do him justice. But the rest? Let's weigh in...leave your comments, please.

Oh, for a fun extra: Wendy Simpsonized Jonathan Edwards - take a look here - hilarious!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hello Kitty: Badge of Shame

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Sloppy Bangkok policemen are being ordered to wear bright pink "Hello Kitty" armbands in a uniquely Thai twist to zero tolerance anti-crime initiatives used in New York.

Crime Suppression Division officers caught dropping litter, parking illegally or reporting late for work will get several days wearing the armbands, which come complete with the cute Japanese cat cartoon sitting on a pair of hearts.

"This is to help build discipline. We should not let small offences go unnoticed," Police Colonel Pongpat Chayapan said on Monday.

"Guilty officers will be made to wear the armbands in the office for a few days with instructions not to disclose their offences. Let people guess what they have done," he told Reuters.

Pongpat said the idea was based on the "broken windows" policing theory used in New York in the 1980s and 1990s. The theory argues that getting tough on petty crime leads to a reduction in more serious offences.