Monday, February 21, 2011

Washington -- Blackest name in America.

George WashingtonAP – FILE - This undated picture shows Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington. Washington inherited …
George Washington's name is inseparable from America, and not only from the nation's history. It identifies countless streets, buildings, mountains, bridges, monuments, cities — and people.
In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African-American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common name.
The story of how Washington became the "blackest name" begins with slavery and takes a sharp turn after the Civil War, when all blacks were allowed the dignity of a surname.
Even before Emancipation, many enslaved black people chose their own surnames to establish their identities. Afterward, some historians theorize, large numbers of blacks chose the name Washington in the process of asserting their freedom.
Today there are black Washingtons, like this writer, who are often identified as African-American by people they have never met. There are white Washingtons who are sometimes misidentified and have felt discrimination. There are Washingtons of both races who view the name as a special — if complicated — gift.
And there remains the presence of George, born 279 years ago on Feb. 22, whose complex relationship with slavery echoes in the blackness of his name today.
George Washington's great-grandfather, John, arrived in Virginia from England in 1656. John married the daughter of a wealthy man and eventually owned more than 5,000 acres, according to the new biography "Washington: A Life," by Ron Chernow.
Along with land, George inherited 10 human beings from his father. He gained more through his marriage to a wealthy widow, and purchased still more enslaved blacks to work the lands he aggressively amassed. But over the decades, as he recognized slavery's contradiction with the freedoms of the new nation, Washington grew opposed to human bondage.
Yet "slaves were the basis of his fortune," and he would not part with them, Chernow said in an interview.
Washington was not a harsh slaveowner by the standards of the time. He provided good food and medical care. He recognized marriages and refused to sell off individual family members. Later in life he resolved not to purchase any more black people.
But he also worked his slaves quite hard, and under difficult conditions. As president, he shuttled them between his Philadelphia residence and Virginia estate to evade a law that freed any slave residing in Pennsylvania for six months.
While in Philadelphia, Oney Judge, Martha Washington's maid, moved about the city and met many free blacks. Upon learning Martha was planning one day to give her to an ill-tempered granddaughter, Judge disappeared.
According to Chernow's book, Washington abused his presidential powers and asked the Treasury Department to kidnap Judge from her new life in New Hampshire. The plot was unsuccessful.
"Washington was leading this schizoid life," Chernow said in the interview. "In theory and on paper he was opposed to slavery, but he was still zealously tracking and seeking to recover his slaves who escaped."
In his final years on his Mount Vernon plantation, Washington said that "nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union."
This led to extraordinary instructions in his will that all 124 of his slaves should be freed after the death of his wife. The only exception was the slave who was at his side for the entire Revolutionary War, who was freed immediately. Washington also ordered that the younger black people be educated or taught a trade, and he provided a fund to care for the sick or aged.
"This is a man who travels an immense distance," Chernow said.
In contrast with other Founding Fathers, Chernow said, Washington's will indicates "that he did have a vision of a future biracial society."
Twelve American presidents were slaveowners. Of the eight presidents who owned slaves while in office, Washington is the only one who set all of them free.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The planet, unrecognizable?

Planet could be 'unrecognizable' by 2050, experts sayAFP/NASA/GSFC/NOAA – Undated image of Earth's city lights released by NASA. A growing, more affluent population competing …
WASHINGTON (AFP) – A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.
The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, "with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia," said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.
To feed all those mouths, "we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000," said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said.
The swelling population will exacerbate problems, such as resource depletion, said John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University.
But incomes are also expected to rise over the next 40 years -- tripling globally and quintupling in developing nations -- and add more strain to global food supplies.
People tend to move up the food chain as their incomes rise, consuming more meat than they might have when they made less money, the experts said.
It takes around seven pounds (3.4 kilograms) of grain to produce a pound of meat, and around three to four pounds of grain to produce a pound of cheese or eggs, experts told AFP.
"More people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet," Clay told AFP, urging scientists and governments to start making changes now to how food is produced.
Population experts, meanwhile, called for more funding for family planning programs to help control the growth in the number of humans, especially in developing nations.
"For 20 years, there's been very little investment in family planning, but there's a return of interest now, partly because of the environmental factors like global warming and food prices," said Bongaarts.
"We want to minimize population growth, and the only viable way to do that is through more effective family planning," said Casterline.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

do you believe in the loch ness?

Nothing puts a damper on a serene afternoon's kayaking like the sight of a primeval sea monster.
That was the rude lesson for Tom Pickles and Sarah Harrington, who'd taken their watercraft out on the foggy waters of Lake Windermere, only to encounter what appeared to be "an enormous snake" swimming by.
"It was petrifying and we paddled back to the shore straight away. At first I thought it was a dog and then saw it was much bigger and moving really quickly at about 10 mph," the 24-year-old Pickles told The Telegraph. "Each hump was moving in a rippling motion and it was swimming fast. Its skin was like a seal's but its shape was completely abnormal—it's not like any animal I've ever seen before."
But what did Pickles and Harrington expect? Didn't they know that Lake Windermere is reputedly the home of the British version of the Loch Ness monster? In the past five years, sojourners on the lake have reportedeight sightings of a Nessie-like serpent.
But the kayaking couple rallied from their shock and snapped the clearest photo of the Windermere "monster" since the sightings began. A journalism professor and his wife inaugurated the recent spate of Nessie-esque encounters on the lake back in 2006 reporting they had seen a "giant eel" somewhere between 15-20 feet long.
Ever since then, researchers have set out upon the lake with sonar equipment, in pursuit of "Bow-Nessie," as the creature's British compatriots like to call it. But so far, their efforts haven't borne fruit.
Loch Ness Monster
Of course, people in Scotland have reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster since 1933, and even with dramatic advance sonar and video technology, Loch Ness research teams have likewise been unable to turn up any credible scientific evidence of its existence. Even its most noted hunter, Robert Rines, recently gave up his quest to find the beast after trying for nearly 40 years. "Unfortunately, I'm running out of age," the 85 year-old Rines said last year when he announced he was calling it quits.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ian Winfield, a lake ecologist at the University of Lancaster, told The Sun he thinks the mysterious appartition people are seeing in Lake Windermere is merely a really big catfish. But all of this speculation overlooks the central mystery in the latest sighting: Why on earth would a couple go kayaking on an English lake in the middle of February?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Teacher writes "Lazy, Whiners" blog about students.

FEASTERVILLE, Pa. – A high school English teacher in suburban Philadelphia who was suspended for a profanity-laced blog in which she called her young charges "disengaged, lazy whiners" is driving a sensation by daring to ask: Why are today's students unmotivated — and what's wrong with calling them out?
As she fights to keep her job at Central Bucks East High School, 30-year-old Natalie Munroe says she had no interest in becoming any sort of educational icon. The blog has been taken down, but its contents can still be found easily online.
Her comments and her suspension by the middle-class school district have clearly touched a nerve, with scores of online commenters applauding her for taking a tough love approach or excoriating her for verbal abuse. Media attention has rained down, and backers have started a Facebook group.
"My students are out of control," Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. "They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying."
And in another post, Munroe — who is more than eight months pregnant — quotes from the musical "Bye Bye Birdie": "Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS."
She also listed some comments she wished she could post on student evaluations, including: "I hear the trash company is hiring"; "I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son"; and "Just as bad as his sibling. Don't you know how to raise kids?"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines day Blog?... nah Save money!

All of us want to save money, right? Even the multi-millionaires want to save money on taxes, and those of us not in those high-level income brackets often need to live as frugally as possible in this tight economy. There are great ideas for saving money, but there are also bad ideas: Things we can do that seem to save money, but end up costing us in the long-run. Here are a few budget blunders to make sure you avoid.
1. Neglecting Basic Maintenance
You need a place to live and a way to get from one place to another, and those items -- home and car -- are usually the biggest ongoing expenses. But neglecting the basic maintenance needed on your home and car will only end up costing you more money down the road. House upkeep, such as changing furnace filters, cleaning out the chimney, cleaning out the gutter, even keeping up with landscaping, is not something you should neglect. Neither is changing the oil and checking the fluids on your car. Lack of maintenance inevitably leads to something big breaking and that will cost you a lot more to repair than it would have cost to make small, ongoing investments in regular maintenance.
2. Doing Your Own Taxes
If your tax returns are simple and you know enough about finances and tax laws to fill out the right forms, send in the right documents and keep your own records, doing your taxes isn't a big deal. However, if your tax situation is at all complicated, or you're at all unsure of what you need to report, then doing your own taxes can end up costing you if you miss something. Even a small miss will end up being a big cost because of the penalties and interest that will apply when the IRS catches your mistake. Shell out a little bit now and get a professional to make sure your taxes are done correctly.
3. Diving Into Your Retirement
Nobody likes paying interest on a credit card, or having to go without something that seems essential. But diving into your retirement fund to fix those urgent money problems you have today will backfire like nothing else in life. Your retirement fund needs the years it has until your retirement to build, and when you take it out early, you're costing yourself a huge amount that you'll definitely wish you had later. Solve your urgent problems with a little creativity.
For example:
• Pick up a side job or do some freelance work to make cash.
• Sell some of your belongings that you don't need.
• Stop (or cutdown on) eating out and buying coffee or soda.
• Look for ways to cut costs in your regular expenses, such as dropping/reducing your cable and cell phone plans.
But don't cheat yourself out of retirement money!
4. Not Saving Anything
Another significant financial sin is neglecting to save at all. Why is this so bad? Because life happens. Unexpected expenses will come. And if you don't have any sort of savings cushion to help you deal with those expenses, you'll find yourself relying on your credit cards, high interest loans or some other equally horrible way of paying for stuff in a crisis. So save something out of every single paycheck. Maybe it's only $10 or $20 at first, but eventually you could build up to $50, then work your way to $100. Save whatever you can and the savings will add up, helping you avoid more debt in the future.
5. Skimping on Food
Food is a big expense, and it's a big temptation to buy the cheapest stuff out there, whether for eating at home or when you need to eat out. But cheap, nasty food results in nasty meals and doesn't help you stay healthy. If you can't avoid eating out from time to time, go somewhere with healthier, better food, and eat less. Split an entree, or have an appetizer instead of a main course. Skip the alcoholic drinks, which will increase your bill in a hurry. And for the food you eat at home, spend a little bit more on your grocery bill so you can cook healthy, great-tasting meals that will make you enjoy eating at home.
6. Risking Your Health
Health insurance is expensive, but paying your own medical bills is even more expensive. And neglecting to deal with your medical problems because you don't think you can afford the bills? Expensive and stupid. No, you don't need to run to the doctor for every single cold you get. And yes, you can certainly research and save money on your health insurance. If a high-deductible health savings plan is your best option, that's OK.
7. Letting Coupons Shop for You
You can find any number of blogs and websites dedicated to the fine art of coupon shopping. Buying a product at the discounted price you get with a coupon is certainly cheaper than paying full-price -- no one's arguing with that concept. However, if coupon clipping leads you to make purchases you wouldn't normally make, it's money wasted, not money saved. Only use coupons if they apply to your normal and needed purchase items. Otherwise, skip the coupon and skip the purchase altogether.
The Bottom LineSaving money is smart; we all know that. But you want to save money in smart ways, by saving, investing, cutting back on unnecessary spending, paying off debt, and not by going cheap when it will end up costing you more long-term. Check back on the cheap choices you've made lately -- are you making smart financial moves or just responding to urgent situations? Good financial habits now -- and smart choices for saving money -- will help you build a solid financial future.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

who likes potato chips?

We have embarked on a taste test tour of supermarket foods. We nibble, we score, and we share the results to help you avoid the paralysis of Brand Choice Overload. Today's topic: potato chips.
Bon Appetit's editorial headquarters is moving from Los Angeles and joining the small-but-sturdy web staff here in our New York office. Why is this important to you? We had double the amount of taste testers on the job last week for this supermarket standoff.
And we needed them. Eleven brands of potato chips is a lot of salt on the tongue. We only tested brands that are available nationwide (sorry, no UTZ), and stuck to straight-up fried chips. No baked versions, no wonky flavors; just potato chips. While we crunched and munched, dietitian Sandra Frank pored over nutrition labels, calculating which brands are the best--well, least bad--for you. Find both our winners for taste and Frank's picks for health after the jump.

Zapp's Chips
More from Bon Appetit: 

Our Favorites for Flavor

#1 Zapp's Potato Chips
Nutrition: One serving (1oz/28.3g) = 150 calories, 8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 17g carbs, 0g sugars, 2g protein, 0% vitamin A, 8% vitamin C, 0% calcium, 2% iron.
Ingredients: Select potatoes cooked in peanut oil or a blend of peanut oil and canola, corn, safflower or sunflower oil, salt.
Cost: $1.99 for a 5.5-oz bag at the Greene Grape in Brooklyn, NY.
Blind Tasting Notes: "Perfect little chip"; "Like the bubbles from frying"; "Good heft and crunch"; "Gold star!"; "Best deep-fried flavor. Binge-worthy!"; "You can taste the potato but also nice brown notes".
Dirty All-Natural Potato Chips

#2 Dirty All-Natural Potato Chips
Nutrition: 1 serving = 130 calories; 2.5 g total fat; 22 g sugars
Ingredients: One serving (1oz/28.4g) = 150 calories, 8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 17g carbs, 0g sugars, 2g protein, 0% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 0% calcium, 4% iron.
Cost: $2.79 for a 5.5-oz bag at Whole Foods in New York City.
Blind Tasting Notes: "Yummy--greasy but good"; "Good flavor and color"; "Oily looking but not tasting".
E. Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate
#3 Wise All Natural Potato Chips
Nutrition: One serving (1oz/29g) = 150 calories, 10g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 14g carbs, 0g sugars, 2g protein, 0% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 0% calcium, 2% iron.
Ingredients: Potatoes, vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: corn, cottonseed, sunflower, soybean or canola oil), salt.
Cost: $3.79 for 10-oz bag at King Kullen in Manhasset, NY.
Blind Tasting Notes: "Light and flaky--nice"; "Thin, salty, crispy"; "Tastes like what I think of a potato chip tasting like"; "The classic".

Nutritionist Sandra Frank's Picks

Terra Yukon Gold Original Potato Chips
#1 Terra Yukon Gold Original Potato Chips
Nutrition: One serving (1oz / 283g) = 130 calories, 6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 18g carbs, 1g sugars, 2g protein, 0% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 0% calcium, 2% iron.
Ingredients: Yukon gold potatoes, canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil, salt.
Cost: $2.99 for a 5-oz bag at Whole Foods in New York City.
Frank's Comments: "Lowest in calories and fat; second lowest in sodium."
Our Assessment: This came in dead last. We don't care if this brand it the healthiest, these chips were "not salty enough," "dry," and had a "hollow crunch." One participant said, "These hardly count as chips."

Zapp's Potato Chips
#2 Zapp's Potato Chips
Nutrition: One serving (1oz/28.3g) = 150 calories, 8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 17g carbs, 0g sugars, 2g protein, 0% vitamin A, 8% vitamin C, 0% calcium, 2% iron.
Ingredients: Select potatoes cooked in peanut oil or a blend of peanut oil and canola, corn, safflower or sunflower oil, salt.
Cost: $1.99 for a 5.5-oz bag at the Greene Grape in Brooklyn, NY.
Frank's Comments: "Lowest in sodium and tied for second place in the low fat category."
Our Assessment: Hooray! This was our #1 pick for flavor.

Dirty All-Natural Potato Chips
#3 Dirty All-Natural Potato Chips
Nutrition: One serving (1oz/28.4g) = 150 calories, 8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 17g carbs, 0g sugars, 2g protein, 0% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 0% calcium, 4% iron.
Ingredients: Potatoes, peanut oil or a blend of peanut oil and canola, corn, safflower or sunflower oil, sea salt.
Cost: $2.79 for a 5.5-oz bag at Whole Foods in New York City.
Frank's Comments: "Third lowest in sodium and tied for second place in the low fat category."
Our Assessment: Double hooray! This was our #2 pick for flavor.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

15 secrets waiters won't tell you

What you should know on Valentine's Day
1. Make reservations early. Restaurants usually don't have an abundance of tables for two. We need to time to plan where to put everyone. You'll get a better table and we'll be prepared.

2. Don't propose. It's so cliché. But if you do, warn us first. We'll put you in the corner. Nothing's worse than a crying woman in the center of the restaurant. Trust me.

3. Since Valentine's Day is on a Monday this year, go out on Friday or Saturday. Most restaurants will also serve their special Valentine's Day menu on those days. Or go out for brunch! Then you can sleep the rest of the day.
Waiters at Bernard's in Ridgefield, CT

PLUS: More Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You

What we lie about
4. We’re not allowed to tell our customers we don’t like a dish. So if you ask your server how something is and she says, “It’s one of our most popular dishes,” chances are she doesn’t like it.
—Waitress at a well-known pizza chain

PLUS: 13 Things Your Florist Won't Tell You

5. If someone orders a frozen drink that’s annoying to make, I’ll say, “Oh, we’re out. Sorry!” when really I just don’t want to make it. But if you order water instead of another drink, suddenly we do have what you originally wanted because I don’t want to lose your drink on the bill.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan

What you don’t want to know
6. When I was at one bakery restaurant, they used to make this really yummy peach cobbler in a big tray. A lot of times, servers don’t have time to eat. So we all kept a fork in our aprons, and as we cruised through the kitchen, we’d stick our fork in the cobbler and take a bite. We’d use the same fork each time.
—Kathy Kniss

7. If you make a big fuss about sending your soup back because it’s not hot enough, we like to take your spoon and run it under really hot water, so when you put the hot spoon in your mouth, you’re going to get the impression — often the very painful impression — that your soup is indeed hot.

8. We put sugar in our kids' meals so kids will like them more. Seriously. We even put extra sugar in the dough for the kids' pizzas.
-Waitress at a well-known pizza chain

PLUS: 25 Tips to Order Healthy Choices at Any Restaurant

What drives us crazy9. Oh, you needed more water so badly, you had to snap or tap or whistle? I’ll be right back … in ten minutes.
—Charity Ohlund

10. The single greatest way to get your waiter to hate you? Ask for hot tea. For some reason, an industry that’s managed to streamline everything else hasn’t been able to streamline that. You've got to get a pot, boil the water, get the lemons, get the honey, bring a cup and spoon. It’s a lot of work for little reward.
-Christopher Fehlinger, maître d’ at a popular New York City restaurant

PLUS: More Valentine's Day Waiter Secrets

What we want you to know11. Sometimes, if you’ve been especially nice to me, I’ll tell the bartender, “Give me a frozen margarita, and don’t put it in.” That totally gyps the company, but it helps me because you’ll give it back to me in tips, and the management won’t know the difference. 
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan

12. If you’re having a disagreement over dinner and all of a sudden other servers come by to refill your water or clear your plates, or you notice a server slowly refilling the salt and pepper shakers at the table next to yours, assume that we’re listening. 
—Charity Ohlund

 15 Foods You Should Never Buy Again

How to be a good customer
13. Use your waiter’s name. When I say, “Hi, my name is JR, and I’ll be taking care of you,” it’s great when you say, “Hi, JR. How are you doing tonight?” Then, the next time you go in, ask for that waiter. He may not remember you, but if you requested him, he’s going to give you really special service.
—JR, waiter at a fine-dining restaurant and author of the blog 
14. Trust your waitress. Say something like “Hey, it’s our first time in. We want you to create an experience for us. Here’s our budget.” Your server will go crazy for you.
— Charity Ohlund

PLUS: 10 Foods You Shouldn't Order on a Date

What you need to know about tipping15. If you walk out with the slip you wrote the tip on and leave behind the blank one, the server gets nothing. It happens all the time, especially with people who’ve had a few bottles of wine.
—Judi Santana

Interviews by Michelle Crouch and Meaghan Cameron
Image credit: © Creatas/Thinkstock