February 27, 2011

From Mental Floss re: A signer of the Declaration of Independence

Reese Witherspoon is a direct descendant of John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. I think that may be as awesome or maybe more so than an ancestor coming over on the Mayflower.

John Witherspoon – the one who coined “Americanism”Originally hailing from Scotland, Rev. John Witherspoon was the only active member of the clergy to sign the Declaration. His legacy in America, though, isn’t in politics, but in education – Witherspoon was the sixth president of the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University. It took two years for representatives of the school to get Witherspoon to come to America (his wife in particular was initially opposed to the idea). Once the reverend took over at the helm in 1768, the school flourished.

According to the president’s biography on the Princeton website, he was “a man of strong convictions,” but introduced students to ideas with which he had publicly disagreed. He is remembered as a dynamic intellectual who brought the thinking of the Scottish Enlightenment into the mainstream in the colonies. Indeed, his ideas have a direct link to the nation’s history, since the students who graduated during his tenure included one president (James Madison), one vice-president (Aaron Burr), 60 members of Congress and three Supreme Court justices.

But even though he had only a meek presence in the political sphere, Witherspoon was the person who coined the term “Americanism” in an essay on language. When John Adams visited Princeton in 1774, he met with Witherspoon and was seriously impressed. The future president of the U.S. said the college president was “as high a Son of Liberty, as any man in America.”

On a less historical note, Reese Witherspoon, who played Elle Woods in the Legally Blonde movies, is a direct descendant. John would surely be proud.

February 26, 2011

The inventor of the computer died last year.

The man who mentored Bill Gates and Paul Allen died last year.

H. Edward Roberts was given his due by Gates and Allen

eeeek, it's alive!!

If you were a fan of sci-fi you would have loved these comics. The subject was always indestructible, at least for a while. Great imaginations and dedication to the genre must have been a necessity for the creators of the magazine.

February 25, 2011

We do other important things such as....

Indeed it is as good as it is advertised.

February 24, 2011


Banksy's Girl with Red Balloon

Banksy is the pseudonym of a British graffiti artist, political activist and painter, whose identity is unconfirmed.

February 23, 2011

The Computer Moves In

The cover picture and story are talking about this new thing in town, the computer. It is unbelievable it was only 28 years ago when it was a new toy that we were wondering what does it do? can we play games on it? is it an encyclopedia? we didn't have any idea did we? What a 28 years it has been technology-wise.


February 21, 2011


Book review: 'George Gershwin,' a new biography by Larry Starr
Sunday, February 20, 2011; B06

It is a truth universally acknowledged that George Gershwin (1898-1937) wrote some irresistible melodies. After that, the debate begins.

Was Gershwin an inspired tunesmith, pure and simple, who nevertheless remained a rank amateur when he attempted to compose in larger forms, such as in his piano concertos or for the opera house? Or did his early death rob us of a distinctly American master, somebody who might have yoked all the strains that made up our wondrously polyglot musical culture of the mid-20th century - jazz, blues, popular song, European classical stylings, modernist experimentation - into a sustained and unified expression?

Larry Starr's valuable new book, titled simply "George Gershwin," makes a strong case for the latter view. This is not a traditional biography (although Starr shares some potent biographical vignettes in a section called "Snapshots") but rather an insightful, technically intricate yet easy-to-follow study of Gershwin's music, particularly as it came out of the Broadway tradition. For, whatever else he was or might have become, Gershwin was a creature of American musical theater: He wrote the music for 19 complete shows on Broadway or on film and concluded his career with the opera "Porgy and Bess."

Starr traces the evolution of Gershwin's style through an in-depth examination of two of the composer's most famous songs - "The Man I Love," written for one of his first hit shows, "Lady Be Good" (1924); and "Love Walked In" (1937), published six months after the composer's death - in loving and precise detail. He sets the scene, comparing Gershwin to two other Broadway composers, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin, without attempting to elevate one at the expense of another. "Berlin and Gershwin (and Kern, and [Richard] Rodgers, and [Cole] Porter; the list could go on and on) were constantly listening to and learning from one another in an environment that was as stimulating and nurturing as it was competitive," the author observes.

The book's tour de force is probably the 33-page chapter devoted to "Of Thee I Sing," a musical comedy about American politics, which opened at New York's Music Box Theater in December 1931 and which Starr describes, Monty Python-style, as "Something Completely Different." It was, and the overture must have mystified its first listeners. "There was no traditional curtain-raising musical gesture leading quickly into a memorable tune," Starr recounts. "Indeed, the overture and 'Wintergreen for President' could justifiably leave one wondering whether in fact this material is truly Gershwin's, or the work of some previously unknown but brilliant theater composer who had obviously learned a lot from Gershwin, while managing to forge a fresh and highly personal musical language of his own." Such insights abound throughout the book.

Which leads us inevitably to "Porgy and Bess." The composer and critic Virgil Thomson summed up Gershwin's only more-or-less traditional opera with his usual pith, calling it "an interesting example of what can be done by talent in spite of a bad set up. With a libretto that should never have been accepted on a subject that should never have been chosen, a man who should never have attempted it has written a work that has some power and importance."

Thomson's qualification is a savvy one. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever doubted the beauty and energy of the best music in "Porgy." Yet once "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "It Ain't Necessarily So" and several of the other hits have been sung and played, what remains - for some of us, at least - is a dreary, awkward and unbearably ponderous opera that feels longer than two back-to-back performances of Wagner's "Ring" cycle.

Starr hears it differently: "It is difficult to conceive just how Gershwin might have gone beyond 'Porgy and Bess.' The work is so rich, consisting virtually of one musical and dramatic high point after another, that it can seem as if Gershwin was determined to pour every last ounce of himself into this single opus." He calls it a "special, monumental, and ultimately unclassifiable achievement in a brilliant and unclassifiable career." Many musicians and scholars will agree with him, and they will find thoughtful, passionate support in this book. And so the debate continues.

Tim Page is a professor of journalism and music at the University of Southern California. His most recent book is "Parallel Play."


By Larry Starr

Yale Univ. 194 pp. $45

George Gershwin

By Larry Starr

Yale Univ. 194 pp. $45

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Kopi Luwak: The World's Most Expensive Coffee

Kopi Luwak: The World's Most Expensive Coffee From Time magazine these few facts upfront. It costs $227 per pound, and the essential ingredient is parts of a stool from a civet. My wife's humor was in high gear this morning, she says it must be a mom and poop business. Sorry, but to paraphrase a show title from years ago, its all part of the wide world of weirdness.

5 best twilight zones

From THE GREAT ENTERTAINERS MEDIA ARCHIVE this post of the five best Twilight Zones. It does not include my favorite. An old country boy and his dog drown together and go to heaven is my favorite. Check out the archive, a good site.

February 20, 2011

cat herding is tough business

Just saw this on TIME GOES BY and had to pass it along. Not new but vintage.

President chat

Not particularly funny, but I thought it was kind of nice having the guys out and about and chatting again.

New World Symphony "Largo"

Marin Alsop explains the New World Symphony

April 18, 2008 - Dvorak's Symphony No. 9, the New World Symphony, is played so often that it runs the risk of sounding hackneyed. That fact became painfully obvious to me during a recent visit to Japan, when I heard the symphony's beautiful English horn melody in a cheesy, electronic rendition, signaling "all clear to walk" at a bustling Sapporo intersection.

As I returned to Dvorak's popular symphony recently, I was struck by how incredibly fresh the music really is. I was reminded of how Johannes Brahms was moved by Dvorak's melodic gifts, as well as his ability to spin a seemingly infinite number of variations on a tune. This, combined with Dvorak's Bohemian heritage, results in music unlike any other composer's.

Symphony No. 9 is nicknamed New World because Dvorak wrote it during the time he spent in the U.S. in the 1890s. His experiences in America (including his discovery of African-American and Native-American melodies) and his longing for home color his music with mixed emotions. There's both a yearning that simmers and an air of innocence.

The music, for me, evokes images. As the symphony opens, I picture Dvorak at the stern of the ship that carries him to America, away from his country. As the land drifts out of sight, he is suddenly jarred by the thought of the unknown with a blast from the French horn.

This slow introduction conveys many emotions — sadness, fear, suspense, even a ray of hope — in its brief 23 measures, until Dvorak eventually chooses which main melody will take over the main part of the movement. A nostalgic folk tune provides simplicity and variety, leading to the second theme, which is really a variation of what came before, illustrating Dvorak's inventiveness with melody.

The New World Symphony's best-known melody surfaces in the "Largo" movement, with its aching English horn solo. It was later adapted into the song "Goin' Home" by Harry Burleigh, a black composer whom Dvorak befriended while in New York. But I'm always moved by the church-like chords that come before that now-famous tune. In a stroke of innovative genius, Dvorak brings these opening chords back at the climax of the finale, where all the melodies from the symphony, reappear, transformed by the journey.

In the scherzo movement that follows, Dvorak explores the dance rhythms and melodies of his heritage. They feel new and fresh, yet familiar at the same time. It contrasts with the finale, which begins with a newfound urgency, setting up the nobility and majesty of the main melody heard in the brass.

The New World Symphony is for me, above all, a journey — Dvorak's journey to America, getting to know its people. But more importantly, it's Dvorak's own spiritual and emotional journey: from his intense longing for his beloved Bohemia to the thrill of the "new world" and its varied peoples, to thoughts of going home.

When all the melodies return at the end of the symphony, I feel as though Dvorak's American adventure has come full circle. The end reminds me of an old film where the last scene is frozen and the circle of the lens closes in until a black screen is all that remains.

February 19, 2011


I finished re-reading WAR AND REMEMBRANCE. For those who have read the book will remember, it depicts in length scenes of cruelty and inhumanity to man in it's depictions of several death camps. What the Germans were capable of boggles the mind.

In another book by Iris Chang, THE RAPE OF NANKING depicts the Japanese killings of mass numbers of Chinese, 350,000 men, women and children killed and raped. Those of us who have never fired a gun in anger or had one fired at us sometimes find it hard to believe these events took place only 70 some years ago.

One other detail if you watch the film NANKING, one of the people in the group John Rabe, who tried to save as many Chinese as he could was unbelievably a member of the Nazi party in Germany. He attempted to get Hitler to intervene. He alone saved 200,000 souls. How could this be? My only thought is that he was a party member in the thirties and he did not really know what Hitler would turn into. Maybe, I don't know.

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February 17, 2011

Watson bests Jennings and Rutter

The computer beat the daylights out of the two former champions, and I'm not sure what it means. I did see when Watson got control of the button he was too fast for the human brain to finger reflex. Is Watson smarter than the humans? I don't know.

It does prove that computer technology continues to blaze a trail to I don't know where. I will not be around to see where it leads, but won't it be exciting.

February 16, 2011

February 15, 2011

a snack fan alert

cheez-it fans!! a new flavor 'baby swiss' is available and it is yummo.

Abigail Washburn 3 song set

a couple sad notes and a couple funny things

On the sad side two deaths. George Shearing the pianist, and Kenneth Mars who was a funny man and who appeared in What's Up Doc.

On the funny side Simon the cat, and a cartoon that is very timely with the academy awards just around the corner.

February 13, 2011

Watson versus Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter

IBM has built a computer that they think can beat the two best JEOPARDY players ever. The testing is done, and this week Monday through Wednesday Watson will play Ken Jennings who has won more games than anyone ever, and Brad Rutter who has won more money than anyone ever. It ought to be great to watch. CHECK IT OUT.

February 12, 2011

Hazel's Cancer Journey

Thank God Hazel's mammogram came back clear. Who was worried? I think this calls for a trip to the DQ for a Buster Bar. Hazel says: YAHOO!!

February 11, 2011


Bad Birthmark

Whoa, maybe a trip to the nip and tuck guys is in order, or a long coat.

Is Parental Advice Wanted?

I don't remember my dad giving me any advice. He was of the generation that believed in strong and silent. I grew up in the silent generation and didn't really want too much advice. I bet there is a parenting for dummies book available, or plenty of reruns on Dr. Phil that covers the subject. Is Jerry Stringer still on? Now there was a hands on approach, although the encounter sessions were dangerous. Watch out for that flying chair! Giving advice can be a violent business. Careful out there.

February 10, 2011

Telling My Kids About Cancer: An Excerpt from The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley - The Daily Beast

Telling My Kids About Cancer: An Excerpt from The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley - The Daily Beast

An excerpt from a new book just out titled THE FOREMOST GOOD FORTUNE by Susan Conley. I have some personal experience (one person removed) trying to cope with the catastrophe that is cancer. My wife Hazel is a cancer victim and a one year survivor. We have consumed untold articles and news releases from all over the world on the subject. We have become very familiar with doctor speak, and odds, and living with it everyday. One conclusion I have come to is that women are much braver than men or maybe I should just say, me. I am not someone who would be chosen as a press secretary for the cancer society.

In order for Hazel to start her second year as a survivor she has to undergo a mammography and a visit once again to her oncologists for their interpretation of what the picture on the black celluloid x-ray where all our hopes and prayers and crossed fingers are focused says to their trained eyes. By all accounts she should be fine because like the old song by Helen Reddy, I AM WOMAN, I AM STRONG, she is handling it all very well. I on the other hand...well.

February 9, 2011

OMG Not a chocolate shortage.

World chocolate shortage ahead?

Cocoa futures are near three-year highs as a drought in Africa combines with changing consumer tastes to pressure the chocolate supply.
By Elizabeth Strott

It's every chocolate lover's nightmare: a chocolate shortage.

A drought in Western Africa and unrest in the Ivory Coast -- the world's biggest cocoa producer -- has combined with rising consumer taste for cocoa-rich dark chocolate to raise concerns about a shortage in supply.
As a result, cocoa futures have been trading at three-year highs, with prices rallying since the beginning of the year.
"In the last few months, cocoa prices have rallied on expectations for a smaller crop from the Ivory Coast and Ghana," said Boyd Cruel, a senior analyst at Alaron Trading who covers the cocoa market.

Talk back: Are you ready to pay more for chocolate?
World production of cocoa is down 5.5% on a year-over-year basis from 2005-2006, according to the International Cocoa Organization -- and cocoa's price has risen 44% since November 2005.
But don't fret over $5 Snickers bars just yet: Cruel said that markets have already factored in the supply issue. The highs reached this week are technical in nature, he said, because news of the drought has been out for months.
Another commodities analyst agrees.
"On the fundamental side, we don't expect to see changes in demand," Barclays' Sudakshina Unnikrishnan told Bloomberg News from London. "Going into the second quarter, the real wild card continues to be based on the conditions and political situation in Ivory Coast."
Blame the trend?
Part of the problem, say chocolate experts: As customer taste has shifted from milk chocolate to dark, demand for cocoa has risen; the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa is required for production.
Dark chocolate has recently been considered the "healthier" of the chocolates, with high levels of flavonoid antioxidants; it has also been found to lower blood pressure.

(Yes I need my medicine)

Chocolate manufacturers have been happy to encourage the trend, as dark chocolate is also a higher-margin product.
"Consumers are very interested in the goodness benefits of chocolate, including the antioxidants found naturally in dark chocolate," said Michele Buck, Hershey (HSY, news, msgs) chief marketing officer, in a statement today. "This interest is driving explosive growth in dark chocolate."
In the U.K., dark chocolate bars are outselling their milk chocolate relatives in the retail chain Woolworths for the first time ever. In the United States, retail sales of chocolate have climbed about 3% every year since 2000, the National Confectioners Association has reported, with dark chocolate one of the fastest-growing categories.
Get free, real-time stock quotes on MSN Money
"Two years ago the hot thing in chocolate was white. Now dark is the flavor of the month," Woolworths CEO Trevor Bish-Jones told British paper The Independent. "Consumers are doing the same thing in chocolate as in the rest of the food market. They are trading up and being more discerning about what they buy," Bish-Jones said.
Should candy companies worry?
In the short term, candy companies like Hershey and Cadbury Schweppes (CSG, news, msgs)should be able to absorb the boost in price as they hedge aggressively for the volatile cocoa market.
"In terms of resell prices, this won't have a major impact immediately," Alaron Trading's Cruel said.
But there could be problems down the road if the drought continues.

The Last Time the Cavaliers won...

The last time the Cavs won - Twitter users put Cavs streak in context

The Cavaliers' losing streak has reached historic proportions, and social media has taken notice yesterday as the the Twitter hashtag #lasttimethecavswon became a trending topic.

Here is a sampling of what Twitter users all over the world had to offer in response to the last time the Cavaliers won a game.

The last time the Cavs won ...

"... I didn't get to see it because there was a new episode of 'Friends' on." - ROJO36

"... gas was 2 dollars." - MrStealYurGrl

" ... Seattle had an NBA team." - natubTrill

" ... Dinosaurs roamed the Earth." - lilroeofficial

" ... I was enjoying a refreshing glass of Crystal Clear Pepsi." - danmillerotown

" ... Sinbad was relevant." - avadakadankra

" ... The Heat bandwagon was empty." - SkyWalker11_fan

" ... Pluto was a planet." - DaAnswerNova

Darn it, I wanted to believe they were monogamists

Valentine’s Day? Not For Birds | Blog | eNature">Birds do it, but not with a one and only.

Picasso mistress, what a dish.

Picasso Portrait Sells for $36M

Matt Dunham / AP Photo
A portrait Picasso painted of his teenage mistress sold for $36 million in London Tuesday. The artist met the 17-year-old blonde, Marie-Therese Walter, outside the Paris metro in 1927. Icebreakers are apparently pretty easy when you’re a world-famous artist; Picasso approached her and said, "I am Picasso. You and I are going to do great things together.'' They remained together—albeit secretly—for many years.
Read it at The Telegraph

What makes up the price of U.S. gasoline?

If you can believe what you read in the newspapers and ahem blogs then read this and try to figure. Read the third comment down by Aj Draiman.

What makes up the price of U.S. gasoline?

February 8, 2011

Beetle and my sons

I just saw on the site THE FABULOUS FIFTIES, this news blurb. On March 13, Beetle Bailey will celebrate? his 60th year in the army. Does he have a stripe? Without going back and looking I couldn't tell you. I served 4 years in the military. That was more than enough time for the military and me to come to the conclusion that four years was plenty for both of us. My son's did better (which is no surprise) than I did. Mike served for ten years, and Tim did all of us proud when he served twenty and retired the undefeated champion.

Getting older?

A truth none of us can escape is each day we get older, and sometimes each step along the way gets a little more painful.

One of my favorite websites is TIME GOES BY where it deals with problems facing us older folks. Today she writes about how businesses are pitching in, or not. The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times are two sources and it is interesting. More so to me (age 73) than you of course, but interesting none the less. Take a look.


THE GREAT DEPRESSION, The best example of an oxymoron ever in literature.

Spring training and baseballs best 100

Baseball spring training is only about a week away. Hope will spring eternal amongst we small market fans while you fans of teams with money to throw around smirk and nod knowing it will take a small miracle for one of us to end up on top in October. Well maybe this will be the year. To tone up our baseball knowledge in the meantime here is the Sporting News list of the 100 best players ever.

February 7, 2011

The Thinker by Thomas Eakins

The Thinker: Portrait of Louis N. Kenton, 1900
Thomas Eakins (American, 1844–1916)
Oil on canvas
82 x 42 in. (208.3 x 106.7 cm)
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1917 (17.172)

Louis N. Kenton (1865–1947) was Eakins' brother-in-law, having married Elizabeth Macdowell (1858–1953), sister of the artist's wife Susan, in 1889. Elizabeth studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, exhibited professionally, and traveled widely. Her marriage to Kenton was stormy and apparently brief, and very little is known of it, or of Kenton. The title associated with this portrait, The Thinker, was at one time based upon an inscription on the reverse that apparently was placed there by Susan Eakins. Beginning in 1900, the portrait was in the Farnsworth Library and Art Museum in Rockland, Maine.

Source: Thomas Eakins: The Thinker: Portrait of Louis N. Kenton (17.172) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

February 5, 2011

William had a mean streak

Don't make William angry:William Shakespeare (1564-1616) QUOTATION: Fill all thy bones with aches. ATTRIBUTION: The Tempest. Act i. Sc. 2.

You better come home cat.

As anyone who feeds and provides a home for a cat knows, he or she will give you a meow or a purr whenever they want to. If they don't want to, they won't. Cats are on loan from God or sometimes maybe the devil. Here Garrison Keillor sings a ballad about just those wonderful/nasty/charming little creatures, the cat.

February 4, 2011

Chess instructions

Oh for crying out loud, so that's the way it's done. I love the game when I win but it is so seldom that I do that, that I figured there must be some little trick to it.


One of my favorite words currently is POSH. What I think it means is refined, above the ordinary, really nice. You get the idea. Now lets see what it really means. Click here and all will be revealed.

February 3, 2011

The Errant Knight Returns

I wish I knew who to give credit for this, but alas I don't. What I can say about this is that I look at this picture and others like it in admiration for the creativity they have.

Coincidently I am reading a novel right now about Auschwitz and my immediate reaction to any plan to preserve the site is WHY? The preserving of a place so evil should not be considered.

Auschwitz decays, prompting preservation effort

OSWIECIM, Poland – The red brick barracks that housed starving inmates are sinking into ruin. Time has warped victims' leather shoes into strange shapes. Hair sheared to make cloth is slowly turning to dust.

Auschwitz is crumbling — the world's most powerful and important testament to Nazi Germany's crimes falling victim to age and mass tourism. Now guardians of the memorial site are waging an urgent effort to save what they can before it is too late.

Officials last week launched a global campaign to raise ?120 ($165 million) to create a "perpetual fund" whose interest can be drawn on indefinitely to repair barracks, watchtowers, crematoria and other structures at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum and memorial in southern Poland.

The Nazis opened Auschwitz soon after invading Poland in 1939, the act that triggered World War II, using it first as a concentration camp for Poles and political prisoners. As they implemented a plan to exterminate Europe's Jews, Gypsies and others, they built the neighboring death camp of Birkenau.

The Germans ended up transporting people in cattle cars from across the continent to the death camp in the heart of Europe, and murdered at least 1.1 million in gas chambers or through other acts of barbarity.

Museum director Piotr Cywinski made an emotional appeal for help during ceremonies last week marking the 66th anniversary of the camp's liberation by Soviet troops, as he launched the fundraising campaign. Called "Intervene Now," the campaign's message has been spread on Facebook, in newspapers and elsewhere.

"There are no more remains of Treblinka, Kulmhof, Sobibor and Belzec," Cywinski said, referring to extermination camps that the Nazis destroyed in an effort to hide their crimes. "Let us not allow the biggest of these death camps — and the only one that is still recognizable — to fall into decay due to the ravages of time and our indifference."

The efforts got a big boost with a donation of ?60 million ($82 million) from a still repentant Germany. Together with pledges from the United States (?12 million), Austria (?6 million) and smaller amounts from other countries, the fund has now raised ?80 million — about two-thirds of what is needed.

The museum plans to start putting the money to use with a massive effort in 2012 to save 45 brick barracks at Birkenau where freezing, starving women once piled together onto hard wooden bunks before being worked or gassed to death.

Just a few years ago, visitors could enter all of the barracks. Today only four can be viewed in the best weather conditions, as marshy ground and tourism take their toll. Even those in the best shape have badly buckled floors strewn with loose bricks, walls that are cracked and roofs held up by damp wooden beams.

"We really can't wait any longer," Cywinski said in an interview with The Associated Press. "In 10 years, these will be ruins."

Part of the challenge comes from the fact that the barracks and other structures at Auschwitz were built in a rush during the war to serve a murderous purpose and were never made to last. Add to that the pressure of modern tourism: the site drew nearly 1.4 million visitors last year — triple the number in 2001.

Tourism has increased as Poland, formerly a communist nation behind the Iron Curtain, has been transformed into an economically vibrant member of the European Union. Budget flights now bring in tourists to nearby Krakow from all over Europe.

But the growing interest also stems from the iconic role that Auschwitz holds in Holocaust memory — a fact underlined by the many people visiting not just from Europe, Israel and the U.S., but also from as far away as South Korea and Japan.

"A visit to Auschwitz is more than just a visit to a memorial," said Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Germans blew up gas chambers and burnt warehouses at Auschwitz as the Red Army moved in, but their retreat was made in chaos and they did not manage to destroy everything. Today many original structures still stand, making the site a powerful visual testament to the crimes committed there.

It also helps people today understand what happened at places like Treblinka and Belzec, extermination sites that the Germans completely destroyed. Today those are marked only by memorials.

"You can actually picture the full horror of what happened there," Shapiro said. "You can picture what took place in the death camps that were built by the Third Reich."

With time against them, conservation experts in white lab coats and gloves work in modern laboratories at Auschwitz to save what they can. Recently, brown leather shoes were laid out on a table as experts worked with great care to undo some of the deformity wrought by time.

In one room, a woman used a state-of-the-art machine to scan a massive trove of SS papers. In another, a worker photographed pieces of the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign — the notorious and ironic slogan meaning "Work Sets You Free" which spanned the entrance gate at Auschwitz. It was stolen in December 2009 and cut into pieces before police tracked it down and arrested the thieves. So vandalism, too, is taking its toll.

The preservation department is staffed by many young, highly trained people, many of whom began their studies thinking they would one day restore art masterpieces. Instead, they find themselves grappling with questions like how to preserve toothbrushes and other everyday objects from the early 20th century that are almost never the object of meticulous preservation work.

The driving philosophy of the work is, above all, to protect authenticity and do no harm. In practice, this means preserving Auschwitz as it was at war's end, when the Germans had just bombed the crematoria and gas chambers before the Red Army moved in.

It also means accepting that not everything can be saved.

The human hair, shaved from victims' heads and recycled into cloth, will be allowed to decay completely. Today one of the most moving exhibits at Auschwitz is an enormous mound of hair shaved from the victims. Once, the hair was of various colors, but it has since turned into a mostly mangled mass of gray, with only an odd blond strand or braid standing out.

Cywinski said that to intervene and try to save the hair would amount to a "brutal and morally unjustified disturbance" of these human remains, and all that can be done is to keep them in conditions will help them last as long as possible.

February 1, 2011

Just a little bit on the economy

Pretty good news I think.

Factory Index Rises At Fastest Pace In Nearly 7 Years

by The Associated Press

February 1, 2011

Factory activity expanded in January at the fastest pace in nearly seven years, as manufacturers reported a sharp jump in new orders.

The Institute for Supply Management, a private trade group, said Tuesday that its index of manufacturing activity rose last month to 60.8. The sector has expanded for 18 straight months, and January's reading was the highest since May 2004. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The manufacturing sector bottomed out at 33.3 in December 2008, the lowest point since June 1980. It has helped drive growth since the recession ended in June 2009.

Consumers are spending more on autos, appliances and other goods, while businesses have invested in more industrial machinery and computers. Those trends boosted economic growth to a 3.2 percent pace in the October-December quarter, the Commerce Department said last week.

Factories healthy pace of expansion is likely to continue in the coming months. Manufacturing firms surveyed by ISM said their backlog of orders jumped in January, pushing an index measuring that activity to 58 from 47.

U.S. factories are also benefiting from rising overseas sales. The index of export orders jumped to 62 in January, from 54.5 the previous month. That matches a recent peak reached in May.

The employment index also rose, a sign that manufacturing companies are hiring more workers. And the prices paid index, which measures whether manufacturing companies are paying more for raw materials, jumped sharply. That's a sign that inflation could pick up soon.

If manufacturers are unable to pass on the higher costs, it could cut into their profit margins.

It is also reported that construction of new homes is down. Isn't that to be expected with all the houses now on the market.