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05 November 2011

Praise: The National Memo takes on FRC

The Family Research Council has awarded Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh (R) their True Blue designation for votes against health care and Planned Parenthood and for DOMA, and other "institutions of marriage and family".  This is happening while Mr. Walsh is in a court battle to avoid paying more than $100,000.00 in back child support.  Hypocrisy has a new name.

I was thinking of writing something lengthy, but then read Tea Party Morality at the National Memo.  They said it so well, the link will suffice.

Repudiation: Hertiage Foundation Assessing Teacher Pay

On 1 November, the Heritage Foundation published a "study" titled Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers.  A study that uses assumptions to create an appearance of much higher pay than is real.

The first point they make is to base comparison of ability on standardized testing.  Traditionally one of the considerations when comparing compensation is to compare the number of years required to prepare for a field and the degrees or certifications required.  This study disregards that.

The wage gap between teachers and non-teachers disappears when both groups are matched on an objective measure of cognitive ability rather than on years of education.

They go on to claim standardized test results, including IQ scores is a better measure.

Although teachers as a group score above the national average on intelligence tests, their scores fall below the average for other college graduates. This implies that, to the extent that cognitive ability affects earnings independently of education, ordinary wage regressions may overestimate teacher earnings relative to those of other professions.


As both a direct measure of acquired knowledge and an indirect measure of innate ability, teacher education does not compare well to education in other fields. The result is that years of education could be a highly misleading measure of teacher skill.

Let me acknowledge that there are problems with some teacher training and acceptance of poorly prepared college students into teacher education programs.  But, that is a separate problem from wage scales.

The big problem with this criterion is that traditional measurements of cognitive ability are notoriously incomplete.  The beginning point for understanding the limitations of IQ and similar assessments is the study of Multiple Intelligences, as expressed first by Howard Gardner.  In short, IQ tests are very good at assessing how well a person is prepared to take IQ tests.  Many smart people express their intelligence in other ways.

In the classroom, one needs teachers who are intelligent far beyond standardized tests.  A simplistic breakdown is to consider that some people are more adept at visual learning, some at auditory learning, and some at kinesthetic learning.  IQ tests and other standardized tests focus on visual learning.  Most students are kinesthetic learners.

Using standardized cognitive assessments as a basis for comparison is flawed.

A second consideration for why education degrees and certifications should be considered is the cost.  Part of why medical doctors have such high wages is to enable them to pay off student loans, which are often ridiculously large.  While teachers do not incur the burden of medical doctors, the cost of education is far from trivial and should be considered.

Their second point is a comparison with private school teachers.

Public-school teachers earn higher wages than private-school teachers, even when the comparison is limited to secular schools with standard curriculums.

Let me concede this point immediately.  It is not surprising that private schools, employers who do not need to work with collective bargaining, pay less.

The third point is related to changing professions

Workers who switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs receive a wage increase of roughly 9 percent. Teachers who change to non-teaching jobs, on the other hand, see their wages decrease by roughly 3 percent. This is the opposite of what one would expect if teachers were underpaid.

The change from a non-teaching job to a teaching job is a big change.  In my case, while still working in industry, I went to school half time for four years (this is after earning my B.S. and many years in industry), to certify to teach.  The certification work also pulled me about half-way to an M.S. which I completed later.

The claim of an increase in pay, after several years of training, makes some sense.  This is not a comparison of the same person before leaving industry and after starting to teach because the teacher has had to make a considerable investment of time and money in the training.  It is also going to vary tremendously between prior vocations (those in business management, engineering, and scientific fields are particularly likely to see a wage drop with the change in vocation ... I did).

Since there are no national teaching certification standards, although some guidelines were provided by the No Child Left Behind law, each state establishes its own criteria.  There are neither standard certification classes across states nor alternative certification.  Some states allow military veterans to skip certain education courses or people coming from industry to take certification courses while they begin teaching.

The change from education to industry does not usually involve a large investment in coursework.  Since the types of jobs are usually very different and the former teacher does not have recent experience in industry, the wage cut makes sense.

None of this is indicative of teachers being overpaid.  They slip in a complaint about teacher wages being tied to seniority.

The salary premium for public-school teachers ranged from 9 percent to 28 percent depending on teacher experience, with the least experienced receiving the highest premiums.

Quick translation, those with the most classroom experience, but least experience in industry, earn the most.  Ask almost any teacher and they will tell you that time working with students is crucial to becoming a good teacher and, perhaps, a great teacher.  This is not the same as other vocations where one can become an expert quickly.

Most of the rest of this so-called study is a complaint about how wonderful the benefit package is for teachers.

We had a history of teachers accepting lower wages in exchange for better benefits.  Some of that has been changing with the attacks on teacher pension plans and collective bargaining, notably in New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Bringing a teacher up to speed for a particular school takes time, making it cost effective for schools to invest in the health of their teachers.

There is a large section of complaint about the methodology used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to categorize benefits.  This is the standard, but those numbers would not help reach the results desired by the authors.  So, they recalculate.  I am not going to defend the particular calculations of the BLS, but will discuss the larger aspects of typical teacher benefit packages.

Pensions can be confusing.  As in industry, most teachers are eligible for a pension plan and are allowed to contribute to a private plan that they control.  While the latter is a 401(K) for most people, teachers are not allowed that but are allowed a 403(B) which is supposed to be quite similar.  Honestly, I have not studied the differences between these.  Unlike most people, many teachers are not eligible for Social Security.  The full comparison is not something that I have seen presented without tremendous bias.

Health benefits are far from regular across states.  I have taught in three states and been under very different plans in two of those states and had no health coverage in the third.  Some teachers do enjoy "Cadillac health plans", but this is being eroded by the state of the health care insurance system and politicians, against notably in New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Part of the complaint in the study is that teachers get great pay while having short hours.

[P]aid time off reported in BLS data reflects leave only during a 37-week work year and excludes 15 weeks of leave during summers and holidays.

The study goes on to allow for 195 work days, typical of school requirements for teachers.  What is missing from this is that teachers are working beyond the time spent with students.  Most teachers are spending weekends grading papers and creating new lessons and assessments.  My typical summer includes only two to three weeks where I am not taking classes or attending workshops and seminars (sometimes paid for by the school or by grants and sometimes out of pocket).  Teaching is not a 9 - 5 profession with weekends off and two or three weeks of vacation.  It is ten to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week from September through June (or in some areas August through May), with outside training over the "summer vacation".

There is a section on job security.  Given recent layoffs in many states, teacher jobs are clearly not secure.

State and local governments seeking to balance their budgets in difficult times should take a close look at teacher compensation, which is considerably higher than necessary to retain the existing teacher workforce. More fundamental reform of teacher compensation would scrap the existing rewards for education and experience—and instead pay market rates to teachers who are measurably effective.

The notion that teachers are overpaid is silly.  Yes, state economies are tight ... largely due to political decisions that have placed our entire economy in peril.  Placing more of the burden on the backs of teachers does not make any sense.  Instead of restricting educational budgets, we should be investing in education as we did in the 1950s and 1960s, much to the benefit of our entire economy.

04 November 2011

Repudiation: American TFP Says Homosexual Marriage Is Harmful

This post was started in late October, just before we lost power and internet service.  Finally here.

A lay Roman Catholic organization calling itself the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) has written a brochure titled 10 Reasons Why Homosexual "Marriage" is Harmful and Must be Opposed. They are wrong and I will show how and why they are wrong.

1. It Is Not Marriage
Calling something marriage does not make it marriage. Marriage has always been a covenant between a man and a woman which is by its nature ordered toward the procreation and education of children and the unity and wellbeing of the spouses.

The promoters of same-sex “marriage” propose something entirely different. They propose the union between two men or two women. This denies the self-evident biological, physiological, and psychological differences between men and women which find their complementarity in marriage. It also denies the specific primary purpose of marriage: the perpetuation of the human race and the raising of children.

Two entirely different things cannot be considered the same thing.

Marriage has not always been between a man and a woman. The Bible has many stories of polygamous marriage. How many wives did Solomon have? (See 1 Kings 11 for the answer).

By nature, we now know of more than fifteen hundred species that have homosexual activity, more than five hundred of them well documented.

Procreation is one of the reasons for marriage, but it is hardly the only reason. We allow elderly heterosexuals, where the woman is well beyond menopause, to wed. We allow couples who are known by their physicians to be infertile to wed. Procreation is not the determining factor in a marriage.

Children are important to some married couples and not to others. With more than one hundred thousand children in foster care and waiting for adoption, those who are infertile certainly can choose adoption. There are enough children.

The unity and wellbeing of the spouses is as important to same sex couples as it is to opposite sex couples.

Those who favor marriage equality are not proposing something entirely different. There are already many different kinds of marriage relationships with opposite sex couples. If a couple does not find the right complementary relationship that marriage will fail. Heterosexuals already fail at marriage half the time, here are some statistics from Dr. Phil.

In terms of perpetuation of the species, the seven billionth human will be on the planet at the end of October 2011. This is more than three times the sustainable population for the Earth. The risk to homo sapiens is not a lack of children but an excess.

2. It Violates Natural Law
Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It is a relationship rooted in human nature and thus governed by natural law.

Natural laws most elementary precept is that “good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided.” By his natural reason, man can perceive what is morally good or bad for him. Thus, he can know the end or purpose of each of his acts and how it is morally wrong to transform the means that help him accomplish an act into the acts purpose.

Any situation which institutionalizes the circumvention of the purpose of the sexual act violates natural law and the objective norm of morality.

Being rooted in human nature, natural law is universal and immutable. It applies to the entire human race, equally. It commands and forbids consistently, everywhere and always. Saint Paul taught in the Epistle to the Romans that the natural law is inscribed on the heart of every man. (Rom. 2:14-15)

By nature, we now know of more than fifteen hundred species that have homosexual activity, more than five hundred of them well documented. By natural human law, we know that homosexuality has been part of human nature for millennia, discussed by the Bible and ancient Greek society and probably much earlier.

The Bible focused on procreation because it was necessary for a small tribe to survive. Noah was promised that his descendents would fill the Earth (Genesis 9). We have. This focus on natural law meaning sexual relations are limited to procreation is antiquated and inappropriate to the world today.

3. It Always Denies a Child Either a Father or a Mother
It is in the childs best interests that he be raised under the influence of his natural father and mother. This rule is confirmed by the evident difficulties faced by the many children who are orphans or are raised by a single parent, a relative, or a foster parent.

The unfortunate situation of these children will be the norm for all children of a same-sex “marriage.” A child of a same-sex “marriage” will always be deprived of either his natural mother or father. He will necessarily be raised by one party who has no blood relationship with him. He will always be deprived of either a mother or a father role model.

Same-sex “marriage” ignores a childs best interests.

No. I previously discussed a report that disproves this contention. Children do as well with same sex parents as with opposite sex parents. TFP is basing this allegation on assumptions or data that has been disproven.

4. It Validates and Promotes the Homosexual Lifestyle
In the name of the “family,” same-sex “marriage” serves to validate not only such unions but the whole homosexual lifestyle in all its bisexual and transgender variants.

Civil laws are structuring principles of man’s life in society. As such, they play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior. They externally shape the life of society, but also profoundly modify everyones perception and evaluation of forms of behavior.

Legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” would necessarily obscure certain basic moral values, devalue traditional marriage, and weaken public morality.

Validation of all families is a good thing. It is good for the spouses and the children.

There is no need to place marriage in quotation marks. A marriage is a marriage. No moral values, save restrictions held by some sects of some religions, are obscured or violated.

"Traditional" marriage does not suffer in any way from marriage equality. If my partner and I were to marry, which is not legal where we live, no opposite gender couples are at risk of divorce because of us. Marriage equality would enhance fidelity among the LGBTQ community, something usually seen as a moral good.

5. It Turns a Moral Wrong into a Civil Right
Homosexual activists argue that same-sex “marriage” is a civil rights issue similar to the struggle for racial equality in the 1960s.

This is false.

First of all, sexual behavior and race are essentially different realities. A man and a woman wanting to marry may be different in their characteristics: one may be black, the other white; one rich, the other poor; or one tall, the other short. None of these differences are insurmountable obstacles to marriage. The two individuals are still man and woman, and thus the requirements of nature are respected.

Same-sex “marriage” opposes nature. Two individuals of the same sex, regardless of their race, wealth, stature, erudition or fame, will never be able to marry because of an insurmountable biological impossibility.

Secondly, inherited and unchangeable racial traits cannot be compared with non-genetic and changeable behavior. There is simply no analogy between the interracial marriage of a man and a woman and the “marriage” between two individuals of the same sex.

There are important similarities between the fights for equality. Notably, the arguments made against mixed race marriage and same sex marriage are quite similar. There is a Wikipedia page that documents some of the arguments under the heading United States:

In 1958, the Christian fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell, at the time a defender of segregation, in a sermon railed against integration, warning that it would lead to miscegenation, which would "destroy our [white] race eventually.".[28]

Asians were also specifically included in some state laws. California continued to ban Asian/white marriages until the Perez v. Sharp decision in 1948.

In the United States, segregationists and Christian identity groups have claimed that several passages in the Bible,[30] for example the stories of Phinehas and of the so-called "curse of Ham", should be understood as referring to miscegenation and that certain verses expressly forbid it. Most theologians read these verses and references as forbidding inter-religious marriage, rather than inter-racial marriage.[31]

As discussed above, the only thing about nature and two individuals of the same gender is that they cannot have children directly. They can adopt. But, despite the ongoing TFP assumption, marriage is not just about procreation.

The analogy is one of the innate desire for companionship and equality. The SCOTUS has referred to marriage as a fundamental right, originally in Loving v. Virginia (the case which brought down laws that prohibited marriage between blacks and whites).

6. It Does Not Create a Family but a Naturally Sterile Union
Traditional marriage is usually so fecund that those who would frustrate its end must do violence to nature to prevent the birth of children by using contraception. It naturally tends to create families.

On the contrary, same-sex “marriage” is intrinsically sterile. If the “spouses” want a child, they must circumvent nature by costly and artificial means or employ surrogates. The natural tendency of such a union is not to create families.

Therefore, we cannot call a same-sex union marriage and give it the benefits of true marriage.

A family is not limited to heterosexual couples with natural progeny. (This seems like the same argument over and over). A heterosexual couple who adopt a child is a family. A heterosexual couple who do not adopt a child is also a family. So is a homosexual couple, with or without an adoption, a family.

7. It Defeats the States Purpose of Benefiting Marriage
One of the main reasons why the State bestows numerous benefits on marriage is that by its very nature and design, marriage provides the normal conditions for a stable, affectionate, and moral atmosphere that is beneficial to the upbringing of children—all fruit of the mutual affection of the parents. This aids in perpetuating the nation and strengthening society, an evident interest of the State.

Homosexual “marriage” does not provide such conditions. Its primary purpose, objectively speaking, is the personal gratification of two individuals whose union is sterile by nature. It is not entitled, therefore, to the protection the State extends to true marriage.

TFP is correct that one of the reasons for the State to bestow numerous benefits on marriage is for the sake of children. This is not the only reason or infertile heterosexual couples would be prohibited from marrying.

Marriage does strengthen society by helping establish stable unions between people. This helps couples purchase homes together, have stability within a community, leading to more civic participation. Marriage of any two (consenting adults) people is good for the community. Many married couples are in closed relationships, reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. For these, and more reasons, marriage is good for the community and good for the State. This is as true of same sex marriage as of opposite sex marriage.

The claim that homosexual marriage is for personal gratification, implying sex, is absurd on its face. One does not need to be married to enjoy sex. Marriage, ideally, includes sex but is not limited to it.

8. It Imposes Its Acceptance on All Society
By legalizing same-sex “marriage,” the State becomes its official and active promoter. The State calls on public officials to officiate at the new civil ceremony, orders public schools to teach its acceptability to children, and punishes any state employee who expresses disapproval.

In the private sphere, objecting parents will see their children exposed more than ever to this new “morality,” businesses offering wedding services will be forced to provide them for same-sex unions, and rental property owners will have to agree to accept same-sex couples as tenants.

In every situation where marriage affects society, the State will expect Christians and all people of good will to betray their consciences by condoning, through silence or act, an attack on the natural order and Christian morality.

Every human being seeks and craves acceptance. For the LGBTQ community, acceptance includes the feeling of safety (given the amount of violence towards gays and lesbians and other who do not “appear normal”) which we see in the Maslow hierarchy of needs. Of course we want acceptance.

Implied in the words "teach its acceptability to children" is the notion that sexual orientation is a choice. Medical science, however, is clear that individuals do not choose to be homosexual or heterosexual.

Yes, doing business means doing business with everyone. A shop owner is never required to like all of her or his customers, but must accept their money. Renting to someone does not require that one approve of their politics, their sexual relationships, or their ancestry. It is just business. Get over it.

No one is asking that anyone become a homosexual (as if that were possible), marry a person of the same gender against their will, or change what happens in their church. Tolerance and acceptance are simple acts, rather like what Jesus preached.

9. It Is the Cutting Edge of the Sexual Revolution
In the 1960s, society was pressured to accept all kinds of immoral sexual relationships between men and women. Today we are seeing a new sexual revolution where society is being asked to accept sodomy and samesex “marriage.”

If homosexual “marriage” is universally accepted as the present step in sexual “freedom,” what logical arguments can be used to stop the next steps of incest, pedophilia, bestiality, and other forms of unnatural behavior? Indeed, radical elements of certain “avant garde” subcultures are already advocating such aberrations.

The railroading of same-sex “marriage” on the American people makes increasingly clear what homosexual activist Paul Varnell wrote in the Chicago Free Press:
The gay movement, whether we acknowledge it or not, is not a civil rights
movement, not even a sexual liberation movement, but a moral revolution aimed at
changing people’s view of homosexuality.

Perhaps marriage equality is the next step in the trend that TFP refers to as the sexual revolution. If so, there are a couple of corrections that must be made.

By definition, a lesbian couple does not enjoy "sodomy". A recent study, to be printed in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that about half of male homosexual couples do not enjoy "sodomy". Whether or not a particular couple participates in anal sex is outside of my arguments for marriage equality. Yes, this is an uncomfortable topic for many people, undoubtedly the same reason so many homosexuals do not do this particular sexual activity.

The slippery slope arguments are absurd. Nonetheless, they must be addressed.

Prohibiting incest between those who are not siblings or parents with children is a relatively recent legal norm. It was common, as recently as the first half of the twentieth century, for first cousins to wed. In many families, there are heterosexuals with "double cousins". Some states still allow first cousin marriage. Prohibiting siblings and prohibiting parent-child sexual relationships strikes me as reasonable.

Pedophilia is a problem with heterosexuals even more than with homosexuals, with about eleven heterosexual pedophiles to every one homosexual pedophile. The call for marriage equality is for equal access to marriage among consenting adults. Perhaps the age of consent should be subject to debate as it is in Europe. The age of consent is not specified in the Bible, but was commonly quite low by modern standards. Most girls would wed at age twelve or thirteen. But, the modern idea of prepubescent or newly pubescent children having sexual relations is a mistake. This should not follow from marriage equality.

The call for marriage equality is for equal access to marriage among consenting adults. Bestiality does not fall within this call as animals are not capable of giving consent. If someone develops a technique for full bi-directional language communication between animals and humans, then, maybe, this should be reconsidered. Until then, no.

Other forms of unnatural behavior is back to the assumption that homosexual is unnatural which, as shown above, is a false conjecture.

Yes, we want to change people's views of homosexuality. That is what asking for tolerance and acceptance is about. Marriage equality is about civil rights. Marriage equality is about human rights.

10. It Offends God
This is the most important reason. Whenever one violates the natural moral order established by God, one sins and offends God. Same-sex “marriage” does just this. Accordingly, anyone who professes to love God must be opposed to it.

Marriage is not the creature of any State. Rather, it was established by God in Paradise for our first parents, Adam and Eve. As we read in the Book of Genesis: “God created man in His image; in the Divine image he created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them, saying: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:28-29)

The same was taught by Our Savior Jesus Christ: “From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife.” (Mark 10:6-7).

Genesis also teaches how God punished Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of homosexuality: “The Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah. He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil.” (Gen. 19:24-25)

We do not all agree as to what offends God. The establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not specify any particular view of God as a correct one for the United States. Even with Judaism and Christianity we have remarkably diverse views which have resulted in many different denominations and sects of these religions. We do not all agree that homosexuality or same sex marriage is offensive to God.

In response to Genesis 1:28-29, three to four thousand years ago, there were many small tribes of people struggling for survival. Numbers mattered. Those who could not or would not procreate might be useful for the moment, but were not helping ensure the future.

This was the first time that God commanded people. The command is to have sex and procreate. We, the humans, have certainly done so. We have filled the Earth, diminished the number of fish and birds and nearly every larger animal on the planet. With over seven billion people on the planet, we have filled the Earth.

As I am not a Christian, I do not follow the teachings of Mark or Jesus. I do not feel obligated to use their teachings as a basis for my morality. I am not in a position to critique their mistakes.

Sodom and Gomorrah is, indeed, a tale from the Bible, but it was not about homosexuality. The sin that caused the destruction of these cities was a failure of hospitality, which was an important rule for all peoples of the region, and that the inhabitants of the city were evil. To quote Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut in explaining Genesis 19:5 in The Torah: A Modern Commentary from the Union for Reform Judaism,

The story's focus is not on homosexuality as such but on the Sodomites' intent to rape the two men, thereby violating the basic laws of hospitality. Hence Lot's argument, when he pleads with them to reconsider, is to say: "They have come under the shelter of my roof" (v. 8). Abraham's model hospitality is here contrasted with its extreme opposite. The English word "sodomy" (male homosexual intercourse or copulation with an animal) derives from the traditional Christian interpretation of this tale.

The traditional Jewish interpretation is not the same as the traditional Christian. When there is more than one interpretation, it would be wrong for the United States to base its laws on religious interpretations.

For those who are sexually oriented to members of the same sex but who choose to not express themselves sexually lest they are damned by their religion's interpretations of the Bible, that must be their absolute right. However, to deny equal rights to those who do not hold these interpretations, whether or not they love God, is wrong.

Praise/Repudiation: Pilot Apology

Usually it is easy for me to assign a blog post a title with a preface of praise or repudiation.  This one is a mixed bag.  The Pilot, the Boston Roman Catholic newspaper, has issued an apology of sorts.  In an article on 28 October, Daniel Avila called homosexual attraction a deception by the Devil.  By way of apology, Mr. Avila wrote in part

Statements made in my column, 'Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction' of October 28, do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity.

So far, so good.  This correction is praiseworthy.  I particularly like the concession that all persons "have inviolable dignity."  Would that the rest of his "apology" reflected that recognition of dignity.  Mr. Avila continued

Likewise, the Church proclaims the sanctity of marriage as the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman.

So much for inviolable dignity.  The brief acknowledgement of dignity clearly does not include anything approaching equality.  The initial column was disgusting, as was reflected by comments printed by MSNBC.

The gay Catholics group DignityUSA says the column was outrageous and inflicted "tremendous damage on the souls" of gay people.

The Human Rights Campaign said Thursday it's a shame the archdiocese ran a column ignoring the science about sexual orientation.

This "apology" corrects a technical theological error but does not remove the underlying bigotry of the position of the Roman Catholic Church on LGBTQ equality.  As such, repudiation.

03 November 2011

Sorry for the down time

Greetings, I am back.  Following a bit of weather, we have electricity again and Internet service.  My partner and I are lucky, our home did not suffer more than a few scratches (neighbors are working with insurance to have major repairs started).  We are still cleaning up, but I should be back to posting in a day or two.  Again, my apologies for not having an article for so long.