Which holy days are holidays?

July 16, 2009 The latest wrangle over religion and schools is in New York City, where the City Council recently voted to add two Muslim holy days to the schools’ holiday calendar.It may not happen, because Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gets the last word, opposes the idea. “If you close the schools for every single holiday,” the mayor told The New York Times, “there won’t be any school.”

Forgotten name recalled

July 16, 2009 Pupils of one-room and other small schools in this area (two-room, three-room, etc.) played town-ball rather than regular baseball, by their choice, according to an article by the late A.C. “Clyde” McGinnis in the July 1968 edition of the Independence County Chronicle.The differences between the two games are many, and various schools probably had variations of the rules for town-ball.One big difference is that the team doing the batting in town-ball also furnishes the pitcher.

Problem with game

July 15, 2009  The stars came out last night in St. Louis. Major League Baseball celebrated it’s 80th All-Star Game under the lights in the new Busch Stadium, home of the (shudder) Cardinals.

Chomping and chatting

July 14, 2009 I may be a pasty-faced white woman with working-class German and American roots, but I think my soul is Greek.I love this country. I’m writing from Greece, where I have discovered an entire country of people who share my values: eating and talking.I have hit the mother lode. The food is soaked in olive oil, everything is topped with crumbling feta and the people are the most enthusiastic, exuberant talkers I’ve ever met in my life.

The bike jump

July 14, 2009 Norman Rapp’s dad saved my life that day.Maybe I better explain.An article on MSNBC.com discussed how kids raised in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s are survivors. We survived chain-smoking adults, meat-and-potato diets and rough-and-tumble fearlessness of every kind.It was the Evel Knievel era, after all. Knievel became famous doing wheelies and jumping his motorcycle over cars and buses. Every kid with a bicycle sought to emulate him.

Not ‘Gone with the Wind’

July 13, 2009 I had hoped to find a renewed sense of inspiration during a recent vacation. I just wasn’t expecting it to come from a petite, dark-haired woman who was born in 1900 and shared my last name.A bit superstitious, she would rub the lion’s head on a staircase wooden banister, hoping it would bring her good luck on her writing. “Feel free to do the same as we  step inside the apartment,” said the tour guide as we entered the home that “Gone with the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell shared with her second husband John Marsh.

Huckabee’s star rises

July 13, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Mike Huckabee is turning into a front-runner for his party’s 2012 presidential nomination almost by default.A pair of sex scandals involving Republicans once touted as White House contenders and the abrupt exit of another hopeful from the public stage are helping Huckabee boost his odds as he weighs another presidential run.“Given that the dominoes are falling, the fact that he’s still standing works to his benefit,” said Hal Bass, political science professor at Ouachita Baptist University.

Moms and stepmoms

July 10, 2009 The evil stepmother is a staple villain of fairy tales. A wicked witch who cackles into a mirror, she starves her husband’s children while she wallows in riches.Today’s stepmoms might not be accused of casting spells, but talk to any first wife about her husband’s new wife and you’ll likely discover a bubbling cauldron of resentment. And the word they often use to describe the new Mrs. isn’t witch, but it sure rhymes with it.

Private dinners leave bad taste

July 10, 2009 The general notion is not really open to dispute today that the news media of tomorrow will be very different from the news media of yesterday — but the specifics are.

The Beale Treasure

July 9, 2009 A mysterious coded message — a cryptogram — in Thomas Jefferson’s papers that went unsolved for more than 200 years may hold the key to finding the famous Beale Treasure — if the treasure exists.A mathematician, Dr. Lawren Smithline, recently decoded the cryptogram, which was composed by and sent to Jefferson in 1801 by Jefferson’s friend and frequent correspondent Robert Patterson.