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Iowa Caucus Results

Here are the Iowa Caucus Results, as of tonight, according to Politico.com :

DEMOCRATIC

1.  Obama  38%

2.  Edwards  30%

3.  Clinton  29%

4.  Richardson  2%

5.  Biden  1%

REPUBLICAN

1.  Huckabee  34%

2.  Romney  25%

3.  Thompson  13.39%

4.  McCain  13.14%

5.  Paul  10%

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Are you happy?  Disappointed?  Bewildered?

 My predictions were:

Democrats:  (1) Clinton, (2) Obama, (3) Edwards

Republicans:  (1) Huckabee, (2) Romney, (3) Giulani

     I’m pleasantly surprised that Thompson did so well, and puzzled that Giuliani didn’t.

     I knew that it was too close to call the Democratic caucus, so I’m not too disappointed that the results don’t match my prediction.  I don’t really care who gets the nomination.

Book Review: The Innocent Man

     John Grisham’s first nonfiction book, The Innocent Man, is brilliant.  His ability to write fast-moving plots makes it a thrilling read.  Beyond that, Grisham’s book makes a strong case against the death penalty–as it is applied in the United States.  The book not only gives you a few hours of suspense and intrigue, but it also forces you to reconsider your opinions on crime and punishment under our current justice system.  In fairness I will point out that Bill Peterson, the District Attorney in the book, challenges its accuracy and its portrayal of his role in the case. 

     The Innocent Man tells the story of Ron Williamson, who was convicted of a rape and murder that he did not commit.  The title gives that part away.  What makes the book such a gripping read is that Grisham lays out the background and the step-by-step details of how such a thing could happen.  It seems almost unbelievable that such a travesty could occur, but when you read about the confluence of several forces–bad police work, overzealous and dishonest prosecution, weak defense lawyering, and ineffective trial management by the judge–you get a clear picture of how people end up getting wrongly convicted.  (Again, I will write in fairness that DA Peterson defends his work on the original case and claims that it was he who helped to correct the wrong that was done.)

      After reading the book, I have changed my mind about the death penalty.  I still think it is a logical and ethical punishment to mete out to a murderer, but I think that our system is too prone to misapply it and other punishments.  For me to support it now, some changes would have to occur:

1.  We must remove the incentive that police have to arrest and charge somebody with a crime at all costs.  There is too much pressure on the police to catch somebody, anybody, when a violent crime has been committed.  As a society we need to change our demand for an arrest and insist that nobody be arrested without very solid evidence.  In addition, there must be consequences for police investigators who wrongly charge somebody, either through neglect or through purposely planting or exaggerating evidence.

2.  We must also remove the incentive that district attorneys have to prosecute and get a conviction against somebody.  As it is now, DA’s build their reputations and their careers upon the number of convictions they rack up.  We as a society should insist that they care more about getting the right personnot just any person.  There should also be harsh consequences for prosecuters who put innocent people behind bars–or get them nearly executed. 

3.  Somehow we have to make it possible for poor defendants to get good representation from their appointed attorneys.  It is simply unjust that a wealthy person, such as O. J. Simpson, can hire a team of super lawyers to defend him, while a poor person, like Ron Williamson, is stuck with an apparently reluctant and ineffective lawyer.  I’m not sure how we could make the system more equitable, but we should stop executing people until we do.

Forecast for Iowa

     No, this is not a weather forecast.  I am going to predict the outcome of the Iowa caucuses.  These are not the results I want, but what I think will happen. 

REPUBLICAN

1.  Mike Huckabee

2.  Mitt Romney

3.  Rudolph Giuliani

DEMOCRATIC

1.  Hillary Clinton

2.  Barak Obama

3.  John Edwards

UPDATE: 

Fox News is reporting the following results in the Republican caucus:

1.  Mike Huckabee

2.  Mitt Romney

3.  Fred Thompson

4.  John McCain

 They are also reporting that Barak Obama won the Democratic caucus with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards close behind and virutally tied with each other.

A Greeting to My Friends

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Merry Christmas

How to Teach Reading

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     I am currently taking a course  in which we have looked at the debates over various approaches to teaching reading.  The authors of the textbook favor an “interactive” approach, which is the combining the two main approaches–(1) phonics and (2) word recognition and context cues.

     I thought it would be fun to take an unscientific survey on this topic here on my blog.  Would you mind answering the following questions? Continue reading

A Blessing a Day: Life

Each day from now until Thanksgiving Day, I plan to post something that I’m thankful for.

NOVEMBER 12–Life 

      It’s the morning of my oral surgery.  I’ll be going soon to have three back teeth removed, which I should have done a long time ago.  Fear is what stopped me.

     I am seriously thinking of asking the doctor if anyone has died from this procedure.  I also thought about looking it up on the Internet.  I’m sure that somebody has.

     It might seem trivial to thank God for life.  I mean, it sort of goes without saying.  Without it, I wouldn’t be experiencing the other blessings that I’ve listed, but, hey, life is good.  It is a gift from God.  Even though I do not fear death, I cherish my life and I love life itself.  My life is not really my life, after all. I live for God and for the people that he has lovingly put into my life.

     So, in the words of the Jewish cheer, L’Chaim!

A Blessing a Day: Sight

Each day, from now until Thanksgiving Day, I plan to post something I am thankful for.

NOVEMBER 8–Sight

     Yesterday’s post was on the sun, without which the world would be a cold, dark place.  (Not to mention that it would be wandering aimlessly through the cosmos.)  The sun illuminates the world and allows us to see it in all its glory.

     I have had blind friends, and they were happy, productive people.  One of them was a brilliant trumpet player.  Another was a terrific homemaker who volunteered at the school where I was teaching.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad about what they were missing.  Here are some of the beautiful things I like to see:

  • People smiling
  • Trees
  • Mountains
  • The ocean
  • A Plate of spaghetti
  • Paintings and sculptures
  • Printed texts
  • Stars
  • Soaring birds

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     What about you?  What are your favorite sights? 

Our Nation’s Schools

     Doesn’t it make sense that a nation’s schools would display symbols of that nation, such as its flag?  The schools that I have visited in other countries usually have the flag, a portrait of the current leader, the coat of arms, and/or portraits of key historical people.  They also sometimes include facsimiles of the founding documents and the country’s motto.

     These displays are reasonable, aren’t they?  I think that they are, especially if the school is partly or totally funded by the national government.

     Would you believe that a school board in Bakersfield, California, will be voting tonight on whether to post our nation’s motto, In God We Trust, on the walls of its schools?  According to news sources they are also considering whether or not it is appropriate to have facsimiles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution displayed.

     Have the opponents gone insane?  Or have I?

     Maybe I’ve just lived too long.

UPDATE:  The Pew Forum has an interesting article by David Masci on opposition to “In God We Trust.”

UPDATE:  The board of trustees, by a vote of 4-1, voted to post the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the national motto in the classrooms and offices of the school district.  Score one for sanity!

Nicolas Copernicus: Renaissance Stargazer

     Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) is a man without a nationality–at least not one that everybody agrees on.  The issue is complicated by geography, history, and ethnicity.  So whether we should call Copernicus a German astronomer, a Polish astronomer, or just an astronmer, we can definitely call him a brilliant man.  Like many lights of the Renaissance, he was skilled in many subjects:  mathematics, economics, theology, politics, and medicine, along with several others.

     Copernicus pretty much started the modern science of astronomy.  He also revolutionized science as a whole by making pure scientfic observation and experimentation the basis of his theories.  In other words, he put aside his religious beliefs and his imagination when it came to determining fact.

     Copernicus was the first European to scientifically determine that the earth was a planet revolving around the sun rather than a stationary body that the rest of the cosmos revolved around.  Many people before him had put forth the heliocentric theory, but he was the first in Europe to provide solid scientific evidence for it. 

     You would think that he would have been lauded for his breakthrough.  Actually his book,  On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, was banned by the Roman Catholic Church for many years, and Galileo was persecuted for agreeing with Copernicus’s theory. 

If you want to learn more about him, check out these sources:

Tea for You

     Teacup     Someone found my blog by searching on this phrase:  what kind of tea is good for sinus congestion.  So I’ll do my best to tell you.

     DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, and my suggestions below are not based on any medical knowledge.  If you think you might have a serious illness requiring medical attention, please look online.  Just kidding!  Go see your general practitioner.

     This topic is very relevant to me right now as I have been having either virus-induced or allergy-induced congestion.  I’m not sure which, but I think it’s the former.  I have all kinds of home remedies that I use, but I’ll write about tea, since that was the searcher’s question.

[UPDATE:  Please read what Jo wrote in the comment section about the difference between tea and infusion.]

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