Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Books Recommended About The American South


April 9, 2010

Must-have book: Hudson’s Southeastern Indians

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Ethnohistorian Charles Hudson’s book The Southeastern Indians is still in print.

That’s saying something; it was originally published in 1976. Mostly, it indicates that this readable, data-filled volume remains relevant and important.

In other words: save your pennies and get your own copy!

Yes, archaeologists and historians have gathered significant new information since this book was published, but what’s between the covers means this title is worth having in your own library.

Hudson’s writing is both lyrical and factual. Consider the initial paragraph:

The native people of the American South—the Southeastern Indians—possessed the richest culture of any of the native people north of Mexico. It was richest by almost any measure. At the time Europeans first came to the New World, the Southeastern Indians lived on the fruits of an economy which combined farming with hunting and gathering; they organized themselves into relatively complex political units; they built large towns and monumental ceremonial centers; and they possessed a rich symbolism and an expressive art style. But hardly any of this has left an impression on our historical memory. The average American has some notion of the Powhatan Indians of Virginia and of the role they played in our early colonial history; he has a clear but stereotyped concept of the Indians who lived on the Great Plains; he may know something about the Navajo and Pueblo Indians of the Southwest; but he knows little or nothing about the Southeastern Indians.

Remember, Dr. Hudson wrote this in 1976. Still, many “average Americans” know little about the native peoples who lived in Georgia. If you want to learn about them, this book, with its maps and black-and-white photographic plates, is an excellent place to start. It remains available in paperback at a reasonable cost.

What other volumes do you consider must-have for your own library on Georgia archaeology? Log in and comment!

Charles M. Hudson, 1976, “The Southeastern Indians,” University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 573 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0870492488.

Cracker Culture is a provocative study of social life in the Old South that probes the origin of cultural differences between the South and the North throughout American history. Among Scotch-Irish settlers the term “Cracker” initially designated a person who boasted, but in American usage the word has come to designate poor whites. McWhiney uses the term to define culture rather than to signify an economic condition. Although all poor whites were Crackers, not all Crackers were poor whites; both, however, were Southerners.

The author insists that Southerners and Northerners were never alike. American colonists who settled south and west of Pennsylvania during the 17th and 18th centuries were mainly from the “Celtic fringe” of the British Isles. The culture that these people retained in the New World accounts in considerable measure for the difference between them and the Yankees of New England, most of whom originated in the lowlands of the southeastern half of the island of Britain. From their solid base in the southern backcountry, Celts and their “Cracker” descendants swept westward throughout the antebellum period until they had established themselves and their practices across the Old South. Basic among those practices that determined their traditional folkways, values, norms, and attitudes was the herding of livestock on the open range, in contrast to the mixed agriculture that was the norm both in southeastern Britain and in New England. The Celts brought to the Old South leisurely ways that fostered idleness and gaiety. Like their Celtic ancestors, Southerners were characteristically violent; they scorned pacifism; they considered fights and duels honorable and consistently ignored laws designed to control their actions. In addition, family and kinship were much more important in Celtic Britain and the antebellum South than in England and the Northern United States. Fundamental differences between Southerners and Northerners shaped the course of antebellum American history; their conflict in the 1860s was not so much brother against brother as culture against culture.


Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South.  By Grady McWhiney. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1988)

According to Grady McWhiney, the North and the South were destined to develop incompatible lifestyles because of each regions’ unique ethnic roots.  Whereas the North came from the stock of industrious hard working Englishmen, the South spawned from the pastoral and primitive society of the British Isle’s Celtic people. Written in 1988, Cracker Culture presented the broadest attempt at surveying the common white man of the Old South since Frank Owsley’s Plain Folk of the Old South published almost forty years before.

The book examines the culinary, agricultural, herding, and entertainment activities of the Old South and compares them to McWhiney’s understanding of pre-capitalistic Celtic society.  He continually asserts that these practices made Southern lifestyle incompatible with the more Anglo oriented activities of the North, and that the Civil War was almost preordained to happen because the societies must eventually come into “mortal combat” to solve their differences (269).

            McWhiney formulaically arranges his book into comparisons between Northern and Southern lifestyles and then English and Celtic.  The book does rely heavily on primary sources to further McWhiney’s thesis, but he fails to engage the numerous critics that arose to argue against him when he stated his “Celtic Thesis” in 1984 with the book Attack and Die.  He also never expands his argument to examine other pre-capitalist agriculture societies to see if the activities of McWhiney’s “Celts” are actually unique to that ethnic groups at all, or rather a function of being a pre-capitalist society in general.  The other major issue with the book that McWhiney fails to address by sticking so close to the primary sources is just how he is defining who a Celt is.  Even by the time of American Revolution, significant integration had begun to occur between English and “Celts” in numbers that would have made a pure distinction possible.  Ironically, McWhiney has as hard a time defining “Celts” in the Old World as much as some southern urban centers had defining “Blacks” in the Old South. 

            The book does contain a number of enlightening observations on the Old South though, despite its controversial thesis.  One of the most important is the emphasis on cattle and swine herding.  Previously, historians of open range ranching in the United States have written about that agricultural pursuit’s development in the Southwestern United States following the Mexican-American War and especially after the American Civil War.  They argued that it was rural Anglo-American’s interactions with Mexican vaqueros that helped develop open range ranching in the United States, but McWhiney skillfully highlights that there was a longstanding tradition already in the South and that it was that tradition that moved out west with Southerners as they emigrated. 

            Cracker Culture’s thesis will invite argument and debate for years to come, but it does have some features that recommend it for use in the existing historiography.  There are specific sections that historians of the Old South can use as a springboard for further investigation, and the overall narrative of the book would be useful for sparking heated intellectual debate at the graduate level.  Unfortunately, the controversial nature of the book’s thesis would tend to detract from its use at the undergraduate level.  The book is an important addition to the historiography of the Old South in a unique way.

Joe Stoltz


Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South.  By Grady McWhiney.  Tuscaloosa:  University of Alabama Press, 1988.

Dr. McWhiney is a retired Texas Christian University History Professor who held the Lyndon Baines Johnson chair for several years.  In his work, he puts forth the argument that the cultural lifestyle of antebellum southerners in the United States had a strong similarity to the cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, and Wales regions of the British Empire.  The author details these similarities in chapters noting settlement patterns, heritage, herding styles, tendency towards hospitality, pleasures, violence, morals, education progress and, worth.

In this work, Dr. McWhiney argues that the markedly distinctive characteristics of Southern culture is an extension of Celtic traits transplanted to the United States during the migration of that populace in the eighteenth century. McWhiney contends that while the South became the receptacle of the Celtic traditional society, the North became home to the more urbane, worldly, strict, White Anglo Saxon Protestant English who followed the Protestant work ethic. 

This continuation of the habits morals and, values from the two disparate cultures allowed the propagation of certain conceived bias, prejudices and resentments to carry over into the newly settled lands.  McWhiney states, “This Cultural conflict between English and Celt not only continued in British North America, it shaped the history of the United States” (p. 7).  In this argument, he also states that the Celtic southerners openly despised hard work and felt that the more important aspects of life revolved around the leisurely pursuits of drinking, gambling, fighting, hunting and all types of sports.  While in the North, more traits that are useful came to the front such as hard work, attention to detail, thriftiness, education, and civilized behavior to one another. 

Most of the book details the similarities of the Celtic culture and the Southern populace by extensively using personal accounts of travelers from the North and foreign countries.  The points that Dr. McWhiney makes about the Southern culture involve the issues of the laziness of Anglos, also known as Crackers.  In his book, McWhiney states, “Nobody seems to have worked very hard in the Old South” (p. 47).  This statement also pertained to slaves who, according to the author, also had a tendency towards idleness (p. 45-6).    Would the slaves feel differently if they could state their own case on labor and work ethics?

There are some problems with the author’s work; the attempt to deny the importance of wealth and status among the southerners is laughable.  The remarks of slaves also becoming lazy and insolent appear false; after all, slave owners would not have tolerated such insolence and after working in the cotton fields all day, would slaves feel the same way? Dr. McWhiney also leaves out the very important voice of the slaves in the Southern culture.  He also states that the Native Indians were lazy, slothful and lacking in work ethic while not truly exploring or understanding the native culture that they come from.

While interesting to the average reader, the book has flaws tend to detract from the effort that Dr. McWhiney devoted to his book.  His arguments on the surface are plausible and many readers will chuckle when specific examples are familiar to the reader; however the lack of a bibliographical section and the extensive use of long footnotes also detract from an otherwise interesting book.

Texas Christian University
Thomas Walker

Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South. By Gradey McWhiney.

This book argues that a Celtic culture developed and existed in the antebellum south.  Author, Gradey McWhiney, affirms that Celtic natives brought their culture to southern colonies in British North America, and that their decedents (Crackers) passed on ancestral ways and daily traditions that became rooted in the south.  According to the author, this Celtic culture was anti English and developed into anti Yankee sentiment before and during the Civil War.  His thesis explores and describes similarities between Celts and Crackers.  By exploring the accounts of southern travelers, the author denotes their characterizations of these Celtic culture’s attitudes and he classifies them as Scottish, Irish, and Welsh culture characteristics.  He will note how both Celts and Crackers held similarities in values of hospitality, education, wealth, and most importantly violence.

The author will claim that these southerners were lazy, idle, illiterate herders, who would rather fight, chew tobacco, hunt, play music, and loaf rather than toil in agricultural pursuits.  The rural attitudes that developed in the south from these Crackers were not shared by their northern counterparts and McWhiney will claim that, “Celts and Southerners were simply too lazy, too unstable, too migratory, and too committed to sensual pleasures to be yeomen.”  This thesis based solely on the accounts of traveling observers is a bold claim and its debate continues today.

McWhiney’s evidence is disputed in several ways, for example his claims that a people could not change after several migrations, technological advances, wars, and economic influences seems weak and unsubstantiated.  It appears that the author is creating a romantic idea of southerners and their culture in the nineteenth century and does so without referring to the anthropological scholarship.  However, by exploring the cultural heritage of southerners and their ancestors, he paints an interpretive snapshot of those middle class travelers in the antebellum south.  It looks as if McWhiney defines this culture as completely unchanging and with it their ideals of daily life.  The authors’ denial of the importance of wealth by these southern Crackers and Celts seems absurd.  Surely many white males desired the dollar, even among the Cracker Culture. By surveying travelers’ accounts and perceptions of the southern people, one must question their accuracy and definitions of the accounts or expressions of the Cracker Culture.   McWhiney interprets these travelers’ accounts well in order to support his thesis and it only demonstrates a biased view rather than a multifaceted historical account.

This book is very entertaining reading although the evidence seems weak at times.  The author seems to dismiss those southern gentry who did not follow the Cracker or Celtic influences.  While reading the book one is easily swayed that, all southerners who established themselves in the south were Celts or Crackers and such was not the case.  It is a significant historical account of a unique culture because it tries to define a exclusive class of southern white men – the Cracker.  The important debate of this cultures’ attitude on violence, slavery, religion, racism, paternalism, and daily cultural lifestyles that according to McWhiney, always resisted human and environmental influences is worthy of the historical exploration.

Jeff Tucker

Cracker Culture:  Celtic Ways in the Old South. By Grady McWhiney with Forrest McDonald. (Tuscaloosa:  University of Alabama Press, 1988) Pp. 290.

In a very controversial but undeniably interesting book, Grady McWhiney takes a hand at explaining why the north and south differed so much before the Civil War.  In short, he points to the settlement patterns of the Old South.  Predominately, he claims, Celts from the fringes of Britain settled the southern colonies, while the more puritanical English settled the northern ones.  Each side carried with it their culture, and the same oppositions that existed in the Old Country took root in the new.  Historians should look to Celtic culture, rather than slavery or cotton, to explain what made the south southern.

The book is mainly a comparison between southern "cracker" culture and that of the Celts in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.  McWhiney hold the two up side by side intending for his readers to be shocked by the similarities between them.  He follows a single basic formula throughout the book, using a topical approach.  He deals first with settlement patterns to prove that Celts did indeed make up a majority of southern settlers.  He also employs surname analysis to this end.  Next, he examines the Celtic culture as a whole to show exactly what sort of culture the settlers took with them.  Here, he shows the Celts to be lazy, illiterate, warm-hearted drunken shepherds who loved poetry, song, fighting, hunting, gambling, etc.

Succeeding chapters take each area separately and make the thrilling discovery that southerners seemed to like all those things too.  There was a basic underpinning that allowed southerners to live as they liked:  the vast majority of them engaged in free range herding.  This in itself might be one of the more controversial points of his book, as it denies the knee-jerk stereotype of the south and king cotton.  Still, crackers put a premium on spare time for leisure, and herding allowed them just that.  They simply turned their cows or hogs loose into common pasturage and picked them back up when they needed them.

As for hospitality, McWhiney argues that they certainly had more than their share of it, like the Celts themselves.  Yet, it sometimes seemed less so to northerners, who often seemed less impressed with the spirit of the moment than they did repulsed by the fare that accompanied it.  Like the Celts from whom they inherited their generosity, southern hospitality was more spontaneous than planned, and usually did not plan for guest ahead of time.  Not surprisingly, McWhiney also argues that the southern population also inherited its love for certain pleasures, such as hunting.

His chapter on violence is of the most interesting.  Visitors to the South often declared its inhabitant's love for violent play simply barbaric.  To southerners, however, flirting with danger was an enthralling pastime.  Also, like the Celts, would duel at the drop of a hat.  Some managed to get particularly gruesome, and the law rarely intervened.  In fact, in both areas, in order to be fully accepted as a man in society, a boy must prove himself in a fight with another.  Yet, strangely, theft was not a real issue.  This is partially explained by Celtic culture once again, as they considered thievery lower than low, while violence, committed honorably, just another fact of life.  McWhiney finishes out his book with chapters comparing Southern and Celtic views on education, morals, progress, and various methods of judging value and worth.

Quite a few historians turned their guns to bear on this book after it appeared in 1988.  Their criticisms are, in some part, deserved.  The idea that the South's Celtic origins are the panacea to all that ails antebellum historians seems more than a bit simplistic, to say the least.  McWhiney also needs to do more than simply point to a series of amazing similarities in order to prove his point.  They could, after all, be mainly gigantic coincidences; surely Celts and Southerners are not the only people groups to act in the manner he describes.

Other attacks miss their mark by a country mile.  In a review for the Journal of American History, Elliot J. Gorn of Miami University takes issue with the idea that a culture can remain static enough to have the kinds of effects that McWhiney wants to ascribe to it.  This may be true to a certain point, cultures do indeed change, but it is not at all evident that McWhiney literally intends to argue that Celtic culture remained unaltered for over the centuries.  Rather, he alleges the Southerners inherited their cultural forms from their ancestors, proving it by showing their similarities to their forefathers.  Another odd assault comes from Michael P. Johnson of the University of California, Irvine.  Here, he complains that McWhiney fails to focus sufficiently on women and blacks.  Though he might have spent more time on women, he does make clear that they tended to fall into line with the men, liking the same things and looking at them in largely the same way.  As to the latter half of his objection, from the very beginning it is abundantly clear that this is a book on cracker culture.  McWhiney simply stayed on topic by focusing mainly on whites.  Though he may criticize the book as "malarkey", Johnson seems to be spinning a few half-baked yarns of his own if he actually means to suggest that significant numbers of blacks should be grouped as crackers, and therefore included (1).

Though the ultimate utility of the book may be open to question, it is still an interesting and informative read.  The similarities between the two cultures seem to be too strong to simply dismiss off hand, but whether McWhiney's conclusions are fully correct remains to be seen.
Texas Christian University

Brian C. Melton

Why I Write On LinkedIn And How Blogging Can Boost Your Career By Karthik Rajan

January 6, 2016

I have a secret to share.

Many people write to spread their thoughts, some want to make a difference, some great ones build tribes. My intentions were neither as noble nor as chivalrous.

Instead, I was propelled by these words, “Why don’t you write? You are a good writer.” I found it uplifting that my correspondences - personal letters/emails, going back in time, cast a thought on a family member whose writing skills I hold in high regard.

Until then, I never fancied myself as a writer. The closest – I loved words.

Early Days: The Challenge

Encouraged and inspired, I wrote my first few blogs with gusto and sent it to publications like HBR (they used to have a separate blog section). My blogs were politely rejected. I was like a college student looking for the first believer who would extend him a credit card.

Late 2014, LinkedIn Pulse happened – the doors opened. I decided to start afresh with a different first question, “How to orient my blogs?”

  • I chuckled when I first read, “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” - ounces of truth by Ben Franklin.

All the cajoling and inspiration were great. Except, I could not make up my mind on what to write. So, I just started writing on an impulse giving my left brain a reprieve.  I never imagined “a go with the flow” feel would create awesome experiences. Few below.

1)  The Less Obvious: On Content

LinkedIn offered my first “publishing” credit card.  Readers like you provided me something even more valuable – lively interactions in the comments section that refined my writing. In Pulse, I found a hybrid between a professional social platform and a publication. The quick feedback loop benefited me immensely in iterating what you found worth reading.

2) The Nuanced: Aha on writing style

When I started, I had implicitly assumed the same qualifier word before "writing style" and topics - professional. As I interacted with you all more, I had an aha moment - my constraint on the writing style was self- induced. You warmly embraced a first person writing style for professional topics – littered with personal experiences.

Encouraged, I looked for a guiding light for personal writing style. I found it in Wu Qiao’s words,  "When you write in prose, you cook the rice. When you write poetry, you turn rice into rice wine….. Cooked rice makes one full so one can live out one's life span . . . wine, on the other hand…. Its effect is sublimely beyond explanation."

“What happens if we merge the two? Poetry of words as prose. That thought became my aspiration.

 3) The Unexpected: What blogging could mean for your career

I started to blog for purely personal reasons. G S Seda’s comment in another blog best illustrates #whyIwrite (why I started to write), “It is a given certainty that we see our own worth when it is reflected back to us in the eyes of another loving, caring person.”

Yet, blogging brought new vistas I never contemplated - interviews with firms that were not in my area of technical expertise! We hear about portable skills, writing can create the visibility to make it happen.

Steve Jobs, in his formative years, entered a calligraphy class on an impulse. Little did he know that it would become integral to the first Macintosh.

If you are on the cusp of penning your thoughts, here is my biggest aha, the dots I connected after the fact:

"What Apple is for products, a blog is to your career. Both employ a pull strategy – drawing people to what you have to offer. 
A resume is a push strategy. Think different by writing." 

4) The Absolute Best For Last

Family, work and commitments - life can roll by fast.   As I wrote, I came to realize that the blogs can do something that I often wait for a better day - share a heartfelt thanks with context. That provided me the drive to write regularly. 

Beyond my family, blogs became my conduit to share my deep-seated regard for my teachers, friends, fellow bloggers, colleagues, well wishers, “sheepdogs” who rally when trolls surface and many more. 

It is often said, “A tribute is a high form of gratitude.” I share this blog as a tribute to worldwide LinkedIn readers – for every single comment, for every single share, for every single like.

Your time has made a world of difference to me, personally and professionally,
Thank you.

Karthik Rajan

More about blogging on LinkedIn: One for right brain and one for left brain
How LinkedIn Can Change Your (Professional) Life: A village experience
Want to have a Pulse? What data tells you about blogging on LinkedIn Pulse

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Salary And Benefit Discussions Among Employees By Texas Workforce Commission


How many businesses have a policy like the one below?

Confidentiality of Salary and Benefit Information

Employees are prohibited from discussing their salary or wage levels and company benefits with other employees. Such information is confidential and may not be discussed in the workplace. Any employee violating this policy will be considered to have committed a breach of confidentiality and will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and possibly including termination of employment.

Look familiar? Chances are good that most companies have either a formal policy similar to the one above, or else have a tradition or practice of responding to pay and benefit discussions with disciplinary action. Those same companies would likely be surprised to learn that such policies generally violate federal labor law. Indeed, the National Labor Relations Act contains a provision, Section 7 (29 U.S.C. § 157), that gives all employees the right to "engage in concerted activities", including the right to discuss their terms and conditions of employment with each other. Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA (29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1)) makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer to deny or limit the Section 7 rights of employees. Based upon those two provisions, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken the position for decades now that employers may not prohibit employees from discussing their pay and benefits, and that any attempts to do so actually violate the NLRA. Courts have basically uniformly supported that position. Moreover, those particular sections of the NLRA apply to both union and non-union employees, so there is no exception made for companies where the employees are non-unionized.

Despite the seeming inflexibility of the NLRB's position regarding policies against pay and benefit discussions, there are some limits, as explained below.

One limit involves the manner in which employees exercise their rights to discuss wages or benefits. The law entitles employees to have such discussions, but does not require employers to allow employees to do so during times they are supposed to be working. However, singling pay discussions out for prohibition, while allowing other types of conversations unrelated to work, might be evidence of intent to violate employees' Section 7 rights, so employers should be careful in that regard.

Another limit would concern the content of such discussions. Certain employees may have benefits that could potentially involve privacy issues under other laws, such as the ADA or HIPAA. Discussing such benefits in a way that involves releasing information that should be confidential under such laws, particularly in the case of two employees talking about an uninvolved third party's medical conditions, could potentially lose the gossiping employees the protection otherwise afforded under the NLRA. The NLRB would consider whether employees were on notice that releasing such information violates company policy and the law, and also the extent to which the employer actually keeps such information confidential.

Finally, it is clear that it makes a difference under the law as to how employees obtain the salary and benefit information they are discussing. Employees discussing their own information are protected, as are employees discussing the pay and benefits of others if they obtained that information through ordinary conversations with others. However, if in order to get the pay and benefit information they discuss with others, they access offices or files known to be off-limits to them, or cause others to break access restrictions and give them confidential information, and the company has clearly taken steps to restrict the information and uphold its confidentiality, then they may well find themselves unprotected by the NLRA if they are disciplined, even discharged, for participating in the access violation. A major case on point is that of N.L.R.B. v. Brookshire Grocery Co., 919 F.2d 359 (5th Cir. 1990).

Practical Tips

As an alternative to flatly prohibiting employees from discussing their pay and benefits, consider the following:

  1. In the context of a general discussion about the importance of devoting oneself to work during work hours, counsel employees that it is all right to discuss various things at work (keep it general - do not single out pay and benefits as topics), but that as in most things, moderation usually works best, and there is a fine line between being informative or conversational and being a busybody, a time-waster, or perceived as self-important. In discussing such a thing, take care not to do it in a threatening manner, such as implying that anyone who talks too much about their job conditions will be shunned by coworkers. That could easily be perceived as promoting a chilling effect on employees exercising their Section 7 rights.

  2. Do not be afraid to promote what is right in your company. Make it easy for employees to know that your pay and benefit practices are competitive with other companies within your industry, and promote your company's practices regarding advancement opportunities, merit increases in pay, and open-door policies. The more that employees know where they stand, and the more they feel that they have a stake in the company and its success, the less need they will feel to spend time talking about their pay and benefits.

Use Caution!

Many employers use sample policies that they have found on the Internet or in collections of policies in popular office software, and some employers simply draft their own policies. With some areas of employee relations, that can work. Concerning pay and benefit discussion policies, though, it is not a good idea at all to "roll your own". This area of the law is so little-known by most employers and employees and so fraught with potential problems that any employer considering writing or enforcement of a policy restricting discussion of pay and benefits should definitely consult an employment law specialist who is knowledgeable about NLRA issues before taking any actions.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Songs in Celebration of The Armpit of the Nation [New Jersey] (MP3s) By WFMU Station Manager Ken

Map Source

November 11, 2006

Jagendorf_turnpike_1 And when I say armpit, I mean it in the best possible sense. New Jersey's other nickname, "The Garden State" is apparently derived from an 1876 quote in which Abraham Browning attempted to stir the pride of his fellow Jersey-ites by comparing the state to a giant barrel open at both ends, with Philadelphia picking at one end, and New York rifling through the other.

Great. A giant barrel. For most of this and the previous century, the word "barrel" has more of a connotation of toxic waste than of fresh produce. So maybe being an armpit isn't so bad after all.

With this in mind, here are 22 songs celebrating the great state that I never in a million years would've believed I'd be spending my whole life in. Many (but not all) are musically misguided as befits a state that is alternately compared to an armpit or a barrel with the bottom removed. These come from former WFMU DJ KBC's compilation A Garden State of Mind.

Photo by Bob Jagendorf.

(All links are MP3s - right-click to download)

The Chordblenders - I'm From New Jersey   |   Billy Murray - My Old New Jersey Home

Gabrielle - New Jersey   |   Stan Gilmer - Atlantic City (That Big Time Town)

The Treniers - Everything's Wild in Wildwood   |   Al Alberts - On The Way To Cape May

Billy Murray - Over On The Jersey Side   |   NJ X-Cops - Welcome To New Jersey

Junior Demus - New Jersey Drive   |   John Gorka - I'm From New Jersey

Edie From Ohio - No Left Turns In Jersey   |   JC O'Connor - Space Ace From Jersey City

Tiffany & Rocco - I'm A Jersey Girl   |   Johnny Marvin - Jersey Walk

Tommy Facenda - High School USA   |   Cliff Eberhardt - Summers In New Jersey

Bob D'Fano - New Jersey   |   "Robert" - New Jersey

John Pizzarelli, Jr. - I Like Jersey Best   |   Jim Albertson - Jersey Devil

John Linnell - New Jersey   |   Dave Van Ronk - Garden State Stomp

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why the Minimum Wage Is Bad at Reducing Poverty: It's Badly Targeted and Hurts as Much as It Helps By Chris Edwards

April 13, 2016

California and New York have approved bills to increase their state minimum wages over time to $15 an hour. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders favor raising the federal minimum wage. But such mandated increases do more harm than good, and they hurt the exact groups of people that policymakers say that they want to help.

Labor economist Joseph Sabia of San Diego State University summarized the academic evidence on minimum wages in this 2014 bulletin for Cato.

Sabia’s own statistical research with economist Richard Burkhauser “found no evidence that minimum wage increases were effective at reducing overall poverty rates or poverty rates among workers.” And a study by economists David Neumark and William Wascher “found that while some poor workers who kept their jobs after minimum wage increases were lifted out of poverty, others lost their jobs and fell into poverty.”

Sabia said that there are two key reasons why the minimum wage does not alleviate overall poverty the way that supporters believe that it will. The first reason is that minimum wages reduce the work available for low-skill workers:

Many firms respond to minimum wage increases by substituting away from low-skilled labor and toward other inputs. For example, grocery stores may substitute away from cashiers and toward self-checkout systems or toward higher-skilled labor. If some near-poor, low-skilled workers lose their jobs or have their hours cut as a result of minimum wage increases, then their incomes may fall, resulting in a rise in poverty among these households.

The vast majority of credible empirical evidence produced by labor economists … suggests that minimum wage increases reduce low-skilled employment. Estimates of the employment elasticity with respect to the minimum wage for low-skilled individuals generally range from -0.1 to as large as -0.3, suggesting that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces low-skilled employment by 1 to 3 percent.

The second reason that minimum wages do not alleviate poverty is that few beneficiaries of minimum wage increases live in poor households. This fact surprised me when I first read about it, but that is what the data shows. Sabia notes:

Advocates of minimum wage increases paint a vivid portrait of what they see as the typical minimum wage worker: a working single mother struggling to keep her family above the poverty line. But is this portrait accurate? Are most minimum wage workers poor or near poor?

In fact, relatively few minimum wage workers live in poor households. In a new study, Burkhauser and I examine Census data, and find that workers earning between $7.25 and $10.10 per hour—workers who would be directly affected by [a] proposed federal minimum wage increase—overwhelmingly live in non-poor households. We find that only 13 percent of workers who would be affected live in poor households, while nearly two-thirds live in households with incomes over twice the poverty line, and over 40 percent live in households with incomes over three times the poverty line. Other research suggests that poor single-female headed households make up less than 5 percent of all affected workers.

Sabia concluded his Cato bulletin: “While alleviating poverty is a widely shared goal, raising the minimum wage is unlikely to achieve that end. In reality, it is more likely to result in making many low-skilled workers worse off. The minimum wage fails to reduce net poverty because of its adverse effects on employment and poor ability to target workers living in households below the poverty threshold.”

Economist Milton Friedman said that “one of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” Alas, that is the mistake that continues to drive the minimum wage debate in the United States.

This post first appeared at

Chris Edwards Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at Cato and editor of

Why Not Deregulate Labor? By John A. Davenport


October 01, 1983

A former editor of Barron’s and Fortune, Mr. Davenport is author of The U.S. Economy and a frequent lecturer on political economy.

Despite the tendency of economists to create more problems than they solve, there seems to be a growing consensus that the American economy will gain as we lift strangling governmental regulations from industry as in the case of oil and transportation. But just below the surface, students of the business scene are beginning to ask a more far-reaching question. If deregulation is good for business, why should it not be extended to the biggest and most important market in the country, namely the labor market which today is cluttered up by minimum wage laws, over-elaborate safety and health rules, and the laws affecting so- called collective bargaining? Says Manuel Johnson, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, “Maybe here is an idea whose time has come.”

Mr. Johnson, to be sure, is not an entirely disinterested observer. Two years ago while still teaching at George Mason University he joined hands with two academic colleagues, James T. Bennett and Dan Heldman, to publish a small book entitled Deregulating Labor Relations (Fisher Institute, $12.95).* The book has received passing attention from some learned journals but so far only a yawn from the public press. Which is too bad because this little volume puts the labor problem and the labor cost problem into a new perspective—the perspective of over-regulation.

In making good this thesis the authors assume that despite much loose talk to the contrary, a man’s work and skill is the most precious commodity he possesses and should sell in the market like any other commodity. Their second thesis is that employers questing for profit are simply middlemen between consumers on the one hand and workers on the other, and that freedom of contract is essential to human liberty. Their third thesis is that over-regulation of labor markets is becoming an extraordinarily expensive operation not only in terms of sacrifice of principle but in terms of unemployment and of loss of productivity and national output. Indeed the authors calculate that total deregulation of the labor market might produce benefits to our society amounting to a stunning one hundred and seventy billion dollars per year.

This is an amazing figure but as the authors themselves indicate, it must be handled with great care, for it includes many disparate elements. By far the largest cost of regulation, amounting to two-thirds of the total, is attributed to OSHA—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—set up in 1973 with the best of intentions but by now transmuted into what Murray Weidenbaum has dubbed a “growth industry,” involving a huge bureaucracy and concerning itself with such minute matters as the grain and slant of ladders in our mines and factories. Here the authors argue that much of what OSHA attempts to do might better be accomplished by giving free play to market forces. Hazardous occupations will always command higher than average wage rates. Faced by such costs employers will, in the long run, be led by self-interest to put in safety equipment.

I am frankly somewhat dubious of pushing this particular argument to an extreme since, in the long run, as Keynes cynically remarked, we shall all be dead. From the Industrial Revolution forward, governments have in fact tried to lay down general rules for enterprise. The real case against OSHA is that its rules are not general but specific and have produced a veritable mare’s-nest of regulations that have not on the record diminished industrial acci dents and in fact bear hardest on intermediate firms seeking to enter the competitive race. The way out may not lie in the total decapitation of OSHA but in step-by-step reduction of its manifold and often preposterous activities.

Outrageous Unemployment

While OSHA is by far the most expensive of our experiments in regulation, it is by no means the only one making for unemployment and lost output. Hours of work and minimum wage laws are a case in point. Here the heavy hand of government not only bears down on employers but actually denies job opportunities to men and women able and willing to work outside the government standards. The evidence is now overwhelming that minimum wages in particular bear hardest on those which government in its wisdom is trying to help—the poor, the disen franchised, and minority groups in general. As Walter Williams and others have shown, the minimum wage today set at $3.35 an hour accounts in no small part for outrageously high unemployment of nearly 50 per cent among black youth. Such laws should be allowed to die on the vine as they become irrelevant due to creeping inflation. Better still, they should be eliminated entirely as an affront to the principles of a free and humane economy.

Unfortunately, as the authors make plain, such principles are negated not just by substantive regulations but by the fact that government has also sought to lay down “procedural” rules for employer-employee relations. Until the Depression Thirties trade unions in particular had to earn their way in organizing industry. The passage of the Norris- LaGuardia Act in 1932 and the subsequent National Labor Relations Act changed matters. Acting under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, Congress granted to unions extraordinary and unique privileges. Under the new rules:

1.) Unions gain exclusive bargaining rights in a plant whenever they can command a bare majority of workers present and voting at a union election.

2.) The employer is bound to bargain with this unit whether or not he thinks it is to his interest or to the interest of his employees.

3.) Except in Right to Work states union shop contracts are tolerated under which employees must at least pay union dues as the price of a job.

4.) All labor disputes are initially thrown into an administrative agency, the NLRB, which in effect makes labor law as it goes along and is by its very nature politically motivated.

Freedom of Contract

In criticizing this form of legislation and in seeking its repeal, the authors make clear that they are not against unions, so long as they are voluntary associations, nor against collective bargaining in so far as it proves a useful tool in determining pay and working conditions. What they consider unwarranted and unjustifiable is the government’s mandating a particular form of such bargaining wherein the union becomes a kind of independent “third party” in labor negotiations, more concerned with its own aggrandizement than with the interests of the workers it purports to represent.

Thus, in so far as unions can push wage rates above the level that would be set by the free market they may temporarily benefit a particular group of workers but at the cost, when times are bad, of widespread unemployment and displacement, as in the case of automobiles and steel. More seriously, present law pre vents workers from direct access to management and ]eaves dissidents in a kind of no man’s land. Collective bargaining as currently enforced is tantamount to the collectivization of labor.

What the authors of this book plead for is a much greater extension of freedom of contract where some workers would no doubt choose to join unions but others would prefer to deal with their bosses directly. It will be argued that this would produce chaos in labor relations. But just here it is well to remember that unions today constitute somewhat less than 20 per cent of the labor force, and a declining share at that. In the great majority of cases employers and employees manage to work out their differences without the help of government-sponsored unions.

The authors are also admirably clear on the point that workers should be allowed to withdraw their services when they find it to their interest to do so. But such voluntary withdrawal which amounts to resignation differs from the conditions that exist today when strikers are almost always sure of retaining their jobs, meanwhile drawing unemployment insurance and welfare payments at public expense. Moreover the aim of the present strike—a military term—is not just to withdraw labor but to close down the employer’s plant and, by violence or threat of violence on the picket line or elsewhere, to prevent others willing and able to work from working. Men have no right to do this and every state in the union has laws against such actions. The tragedy today is that these laws are rarely enforced. The over- regulation of labor in so many particulars has led to an all but total disregard for the common law.

Back in the seventeenth century Sir Henry Maine argued that the progress of civilization might be measured as a society passes from status to contract. With this exponential jump the West threw off the last vestiges of feudalism and serfdom and entered into an era of Liberty under Law. In the past fifty years governments have been rushing pell-mell to reverse such progress. Deregulating Labor Relations is a sustained plea for turning the clock forward again.

* Fisher Institute, 6350 LBJ Freeway, Suite 183E, Dallas 75240.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A Much-Needed Guide to Text Etiquette By Dana Holmes


January 15, 2013

Texting can play an instrumental role in communication, but it can also be rude and distracting depending on the context. Regardless, it has become so ingrained in our culture -- even my mother-in-law sends texts -- that we can't expect it will go away any time soon. What we can do is learn to manage our texting habits so that we can avoid hurt feelings and confusion among friends and loved ones. The rules can be tricky; there is a fine line between what's appropriate and what's not, and sometimes it's hard to tell where exactly to draw that line. Read below for some definitive guidelines on what I call "Textiquette." And, be sure to add your own texting dos and don'ts to the comments below.

Embrace the art of the mini mass text. It's OK to mass text universal messages that a group of people in your phone will surely appreciate. For example, you can't go wrong with "Happy Holidays." Still, mass texting doesn't mean you have to send your text to every single contact in your phone. If you're anything like me, half the people in your phone are business or professional contacts and include the representative who sold your company new computers two years ago who doesn't exactly need your merry wishes. And your general practitioner, as much as he might like you, doesn't need to be in on your intimate affairs either. So chose your recipients carefully.

  • Mass texting that you just got engaged, for instance, is A-OK if you're sending it to a specific group of your 20 closest friends and family members.
  • Mass texting a reminder about your art opening or other event (after formal invitations or evites have already been sent) is fine as well.

Textiquette Dos

  • If you are running late, text to let the person you are meeting know that you're on your way. You get bonus points for giving an estimated time of arrival.
  • If it's your friend that's running late, use the extra few minutes of down time to respond to any texts that may have appeared in your inbox on your commute over. That way when your friend arrives, you can be fully present.
  • Always double check your text before hitting the send button. We have all seen some tragic auto-correct mishaps that can easily be avoided by taking two seconds to proofread.
  • Make sure to verify who you are sending your text to. Unfortunately, when we write about people in text messages, we aren't always -- ahem -- praising their best qualities, and you would hate to send it to them accidentally.
  • If you are waiting to hear about something pressing, let your guest know so that when you check your phone regularly, you don't seem rude. And let them know when the situation is dealt with so they know that they now have your full attention.
  • If you're texting someone you haven't spoken to in a long time and the thought crosses your mind that you might not be in their phone, you're probably right. Avoid getting back a text that says, "Sorry, new phone. Who is this"? and simply "sign" your text, or open with a friendly reminder of who you are.
  • Slightly different than the mass text is the group text; which is one sent to a small group of people when plans are being made. Do yourself a favor and make sure that everyone in the group has this function on their phones. My husband has an old iPhone, and while he can receive group texts, he can only respond to the sender and confusion inevitably ensues.

Textiquette Don'ts

  • Don't confuse someone who you've been on only a few casual dates with by including them in mass texts. It can get awkward, fast.
  • Don't text while eating or drinking with others unless you can talk about what you're texting, or it's an emergency. If it's the latter, excuse yourself and handle the situation.
  • Never text while another person is speaking, unless it is extremely important. If you do have to text, offer a brief explanation immediately so you don't hurt their feelings. Consider excusing yourself if you don't want to share your private details.
  • Texting a "thank you" note is not OK. You should always call, send a physical card via snail mail or send an e-card.
  • Never text, "Let me get back to you" when someone asks you to do something within the next 24 hours. It's best to decline if you aren't sure. You can always try to join up later if you change your mind.
  • If you're going back and forth with your friend trying to make plans and you're both being indecisive, save yourself the time and trouble and call them.
  • Don't use LOL and other text slang when it doesn't make sense. Consider who you're texting because many people don't have a clue what ROTFL or SMH mean.
  • Don't use text slang unless you know what it means, either. I knew someone who thought LOL stood for "lots of love" rather than "laugh out loud," so when he repeatedly texted LOL to his friend whose father had died, you can imagine the friend's dismay.
  • If you are tempted to text while walking, don't do it. Step to the side and text out of harms (and other people's) way.
  • Don't text somebody you know is driving. You do not want to be responsible for them getting in an accident. And, for that matter, don't text while you are driving!
  • Don't ever text about death or serious illness. Conversations like these require emotion, nuance, and support. They are too fragile to risk being misunderstood or accidentally skipped over.

We've all probably had at least one texting mishap we wish we could take back or forget. What texting crime have you sworn you would never again commit, or what offense have you been on the receiving end of that you hope no one else ever has to be?

Dana Holmes is a lifestyle, gift and etiquette expert who acts as Editor in Chief of and the Gift Rap Blog. She has been working in trend forecasting and gift recommendations for the past decade. Dana loves making occasions special with her unique gift ideas, tips and touches. She has been interviewed by the New York Times, Associated Press, Fox & Friends, TODAY in NY and many more.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What is intestinal pseudo-obstruction?


Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction

Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a rare condition with symptoms like those caused by a bowel obstruction, or blockage. But when the intestines are examined, no blockage is found. Instead, the symptoms are due to nerve (visceral neuropathy) or muscle (visceral myopathy) problems that affect the movement of food, fluid, and air through the intestines. The intestines, or bowel, include the small intestine and the large intestine, also called the colon.

Intestinal pseudo-obstruction can occur in people of any age, but it occurs more often in children and older adults. Children can have a long-lasting form of the condition called chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIP). CIP in children is usually present at birth.

Learn more here about CIP in children.

In another form of intestinal pseudo-obstruction that mostly affects older adults, the colon becomes enlarged after surgery or illness. This condition is known as acute colonic pseudo-obstruction (ACPO), also called Ogilvie syndrome or acute colonic ileus. ACPO can lead to serious complications and can be life-threatening.

What causes intestinal pseudo-obstruction?

Normally, nerves and muscles work together to produce wavelike contractions that push food through the intestines. In intestinal pseudo-obstruction, nerve or muscle problems prevent normal contractions. As a result, people with the condition have problems with the movement of food, fluid, and air through the intestines.

When the cause of the nerve or muscle problems leading to intestinal pseudo-obstruction is not known, the condition is called primary or idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. If the cause is known, the condition is called secondary intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Causes of secondary intestinal pseudo-obstruction include:

  • abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • diseases that affect muscles and nerves, such as lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, and Parkinson's disease
  • infections
  • medications such as opiates and antidepressants that affect muscles and nerves

What are the symptoms of intestinal pseudo-obstruction?

Intestinal pseudo-obstruction symptoms may include cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and constipation. Occasionally, intestinal pseudo-obstruction may cause diarrhea. Over time, the condition can cause bacterial infections, malnutrition, weight loss, and muscle problems in other parts of the body. Some people develop problems with their esophagus, stomach, or bladder.

How is intestinal pseudo-obstruction diagnosed?

To diagnose intestinal pseudo-obstruction, the doctor will take a complete medical history, do a physical exam, and take x rays. The doctor will make sure that symptoms are not due to an intestinal blockage and will look for the cause of the condition, such as an underlying illness. Other testing may be needed, such as manometry to measure the patterns of intestinal contractions.

How is intestinal pseudo-obstruction treated?

People with intestinal pseudo-obstruction often need nutritional support to prevent malnutrition and weight loss. Enteral nutrition provides liquid food through a feeding tube inserted through the nose into the stomach or placed directly into the stomach or small intestine. Some people need intravenous feeding, also called parenteral nutrition, which provides liquid food through a tube placed in a vein.

If intestinal pseudo-obstruction is caused by an illness or medication, the doctor will treat the underlying illness or stop the medication.

Treatment may include medications, such as antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, pain medication, and medication to treat intestinal muscle problems. People with ACPO may need procedures to remove gas from the bowel. In severe cases of intestinal pseudo-obstruction, surgery to remove part of the intestine or other intestinal surgery might be necessary.

Points to Remember

  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a condition with symptoms like those caused by a bowel obstruction, or blockage. But when the intestines are examined, no blockage is found.
  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is caused by nerve or muscle problems that prevent the intestines from contracting normally to move food, fluid, and air through the intestines.
  • Symptoms may include cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, constipation, and occasionally diarrhea.
  • Treatment depends on the type and severity of intestinal pseudo-obstruction and may involve nutritional support, medications, surgery, or other procedures.


Last modified on September 15, 2014 at 10:53:00 AM


LeAnne remembers, “He wasn’t gaining weight and then he was losing weight.”

Mike says, “He would eat and swallow but then it would spit right back up, he would not be able to hold anything down so he just was not growing.”

Mike and LeAnne Gunderson were desperate for solutions. Their newborn baby Christopher was born with chronic pseudo obstruction syndrome. It’s a rare condition that paralyzed his stomach and parts of his intestines. He was unable to digest any nutrients or even take water.

“I’d pray every night and not know what the end game was. Not knowing if he was going to die or if he was going to make it or what that looked like,” says Mike. We just had to enjoy the time that we had with him because we didn’t know how long that was going to be.”

LeAnne says, “There was no way to fix it. The only thing they could do was make him grow. The issue was not, ‘How are we going to cure it.’ The issue was, ‘how are we going to keep him alive? How are we going to get nutrition into his body to keep him alive and help him grow?’”

Baby Christopher went through several major surgeries before doctors came up with a permanent solution. They connected a feeding tube directly into his intestines, bypassing his stomach. Then they put a second port into his stomach to pump out bile and saliva.

“It was a really tough time” says LeAnne, “but I always heard this little voice when I’d get upset just whisper in my ear, ‘Don’t worry, it will all work out in the end.’”

The surgery allowed him to lead a normal, active life. But he grew up unable to eat or drink without painful stomach aches and vomiting,

Christopher, now 18 years old remembers his childhood. “I could do everything that everybody else could do but just differently. It was like a normal life for me. I tried food but I just couldn’t swallow it. I had to chew it and spit or I had to drain it out of my top tube at the end of the day.”

LeAnne says, “We just figured it out because we wanted him to live a normal life. We didn’t want him to be, ‘Oh I have these feeding tubes, I can’t do this and that.’ We wanted him to be able to figure out, ‘Yep I have these feeding tubes and it’s good because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be alive and I’m just going to praise God for that and I’m going to figure out ways around to do other things.’”

He wore a backpack that pumped formula into his feeding tube during the day - an IV pole fed him at night. Christopher lived with his condition for 16 years, until one day his family brought him to a healing service led by evangelist Bruce Van Natta.

Christopher says, “During the whole sermon that he was talking, I felt like a pulse in my stomach the whole entire time.”

After the service Bruce gathered Christopher and his family together and prayed for a miracle healing.

Mike says, “I actually think I had my hand on Christopher’s shoulder and it just felt like his whole body was just shaking.”

LeAnne says, “That G tube is vibrating just really super, super fast underneath his T-shirt and I noticed this so I’m looking at it, and I’m watching it and I’m thinking, ‘I’ve never seen it do that before.’ And then that vibration starts to follow the pattern of his intestines. I can see it moving down his stomach down into the second tube which is the J tube and then the J tube started doing it too, and the whole thing is just doing this.”

Christopher says, “I felt just a big shock go through my shoulder and through my stomach and the pulsing. It felt like, like a pounding feeling in my stomach.”

Leanne says, “You just knew what was happening and that he was being healed. I knew when we got out to the parking lot we were standing there like, ‘What just happened?’ It was one of those moments. It was one moment in time that changes everything.”

“What I really feel like is that was God jumpstarting my stomach back up with a shock,” says Christopher.

That night his family went out to dinner and Christopher ate the first full meal of his life - with no complications.

Christopher says, “I just started swallowing more and more and I got a bigger and bigger smile on my face and I had a really good time. It was one of the best days of my life. I just swallowed as much as I could and had the whole plate can and had a nice drink too.”

Christopher has been healed completely and his feeding tube has been removed. Mike and LeAnne say they are thankful for the long journey that brought a miracle healing to their son.

“The harder the journey the better the reward. That’s kind of the way I look at it now is it was a long journey and wow! What a reward.” says Mike.

“God is so good and He is so big and so compassionate and He can heal anything,” says LeAnne. “Nothing is impossible for God. What is impossible for man is not impossible for God. Everything is possible for Him.”

Investigating medical miracles

Top Foods for Easy Digestion By Payal Banka


November 20, 2010

With most of our food laced with artificial ingredients, preservatives, hormones and other chemical additives, indigestion is a word used very commonly nowadays. It refers to the feeling of uncomfortable fullness after a meal, burning sensation or pain in the upper abdomen, nausea and bloating — an unpleasant tightness in the stomach. Lack of exercise, and eating a lot of refined, processed and low fiber food only contributes more towards the digestive health problems. It can be a sign of overeating, choosing the wrong foods, or a more serious problem.

Top Foods for Easy Digestion

Common Reasons of Indigestion

Most indigestion is caused by:

  • Irregular meal timing, or long gaps in between meals.
  • Overeating.
  • Excessive intake of spicy foods, fast foods, fried foods, unhygienic foods or aerated beverages.
  • Smoking and alcohol intake.
  • Excessive intake of caffeine (coffee/tea).
  • Peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or duodenal ulcers.
  • Less intake of fluids or water, less sleep, or stress.

Foods that Help in Indigestion

  • Fruits: Fruits have fiber to rescue you from indigestion. Fiber helps move food through the digestive system and automatically stimulates the digestive process. Additionally, fiber can also help prevent coronary heart disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, and other diseases. Here are some fruits that can help:

    • Papaya: Papaya contains the enzyme papain which aids digestion and soothes the stomach. It promotes a healthy acidic enzyme environment by breaking down the proteins.

    • Banana: Being bland, smooth, easily digestible and slightly laxative, bananas are one of the best digestion-friendly food. Banana helps neutralize the over-acidity of the gastric juices and reduces the irritation of the ulcer by coating the lining of the stomach. Pectin, soluble fiber in banana, helps in constipation and diarrhea.

    • Other beneficial fruits include apple, pear and grapes.

  • Fluid: Drink plenty of water, coconut water or buttermilk. These are natural diluters and hence help in relieving acidic symptoms. Also, when you drink enough water, waste particles dissolved in water passes through the digestive tract smoothly, helping you have your normal daily bowel movement.

  • Coriander (dhania): Apart from being an excellent appetizer, coriander helps strengthen the stomach, relieve flatulence, and increase secretion of enzymes and digestive juices in the stomach. One or two teaspoons of coriander juice added to fresh buttermilk along with mint leaves and cumin (jeera), is highly beneficial in treating digestive disorders such as indigestion, nausea, feeling of burning and bloating. Coriander juice can be prepared by boiling dry seeds of coriander and straining the decoction after cooling.

  • Cardamom (elaichi): Cardamom is used chiefly in medicines to relieve flatulence and for strengthening digestion activities. Grounded cardamom mixed with ginger and coriander is an effective remedy for indigestion. Cardamom added in tea also helps in relieving headaches caused due to indigestion.

  • Ginger: Ginger root or ginger oil often added in numerous food preparations as it helps in improving digestion. It is one of the best remedy for stomach upset, stomach ache, indigestion, dyspepsia and flatulence.

  • Cumin (jeera): Soaking cumin seeds (jeera) in water overnight and consuming the water is beneficial while having acidity. It also helps in relieving bloated feeling.

  • Carom (ajwain): Take 1/2 teaspoon of carom (ajwain) and add 2 pinch of rock salt. Chew it and then gulp it with water. This helps instantly in relieving the symptoms of stomach aches and stomach upsets.

  • Lemon: Lemon juice also aids the digestion process. Lemon juice in water (not in warm water) with honey is a good remedy if you are suffering from indigestion and burning. You can also add a few lemon drops on your dish to aid digestion.

  • Mint leaves (pudina): Chewing on these leaves is also beneficial for any stomach problems. Menthol, a volatile substance contained in the essential oil of mint, has a direct antispasmodic effect on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. The ability to calm cramping stomach muscles makes it a superb treatment for reliving symptoms of indigestion, heartburn, stomachache and irritable bowel syndrome. It also helps the muscles around the intestines to relax thereby promoting less gas production and better overall digestion.

  • Basil leaves (tulsi): Basil essential oil is also used as a digestive tonic. It is used for treating indigestion, constipation, stomach cramps and flatulence as it has carminative properties. It provides immediate relief from the gas in your stomach and intestines.

Tips to Prevent Heartburn and Indigestion

Here are a few tips to prevent the problem of heartburn and indigestion:

  • Eat small and frequent meals. If the stomach is empty for a longer period, the acid starts acting on the stomach walls, causing burning sensation. A prolonged effect may lead to stomach ulcers and may cause them to bleed. Hence eating a small snack every two to three hours helps in getting rid of the excess acid.

  • Avoid excessive intake of fast foods, fried items and very spicy food, as well as aerated beverages, tea and coffee. All these items provoke an increased acid response, hence causing flatulence as well as acidity. This might also lead to stomach ache and over all indigestion.

  • Chew your food thoroughly and avoid overeating. The digestion of carbohydrate actually begins in your mouth (thanks to an enzyme produced by your saliva), and then continues in your small intestine.

  • Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol. They slow down your metabolism and lead to malnutrition, causing stress on the body. Additionally, the nicotine content of cigarettes leads to increased acid production.

  • Take a good night sleep and give good rest to your mind and body. Use relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. Don't let stress take over you as stress is the key of unnumbered health problems and malnutrition.

  • Thursday, March 10, 2016

    Fixing our Insanely Broken Sales Tax System By Thomas Frey


    March 9, 2016

    At a recent visit to our local hairdresser, my wife and I were informed by the enterprising young lady that she was no longer selling her line of retail hair products. Filling out the monthly sales tax reports had simply become too onerous, and the profits too small to justify the time.

    This was not the first time I’d heard of someone “throwing in the towel” on their plans for selling products. Indeed this has become a reoccurring anthem among young entrepreneurs.

    At the heart of our failing retail industry is a very broken sales tax system so complicated and confusing that a huge number of would-be merchants are simply choosing to avoid it altogether.

    Without national legislation to create any kind of level playing field, individual states have cobbled together a patchwork system requiring some to tax even one-time transactions like garage and bake sales, while others require nothing at all.

    Lost in all the sale tax finagling is the opportunity costs imposed by relentless form-filing, accounting requirements, and the stress toll imposed on enterprising merchants willing to attempt this minefield.

    However, automation is a great enabler of complexity and the rise of blockchain technology, with its ability to drive transaction cost to something approaching zero, a whole new set of prospects are beginning to emerge.

    Using a big picture perspective of the emerging technology landscape, here is my approach for solving our mind-numbingly torturous sales tax system.

    Sales Tax History – How we got into this mess!

    Most cities in the U.S. are funded through some form of sales tax, a system designed during an entirely different era.

    Sale tax is paid by the buyer and collected by the seller, but a slew of new regulations have developed around which transactions are taxable and which ones are not.

    At the heart of current problems is a 1992 landmark ruling by the Supreme Court that determined retailers are not required to collect sales tax from shoppers unless they have a physical presence in the state where customers live.

    Initially, this ruling applied mainly to catalog companies and home-shopping channels on TV. But it also applied to the rapidly growing online retail industry, giving them a distinct competitive advantage, and consumers an additional reason to change their buying habits.

    Local retailers who have invested in their community, who send their kids to local schools and volunteered for local charities, quickly found themselves competing with faceless online companies, most of whom have never set foot in their town. The problem with these uneven sales tax laws is that they create a significant disadvantage to those who are local.

    But here is where it gets complicated.

    If an online business has a physical presence in a state, such as a store, office or warehouse, they must collect sales tax from the customers who purchase items in that state. Without a physical presence, no sales tax needs to be collected. That sounds simple enough, until you get into the definition of what constitutes a physical presence.

    As an example, after numerous rounds of legislation, Amazon currently collects state sales taxes in 28 states, covering 84% of the U.S. population. However, they still have managed to avoid most city and regional sales tax.

    A University of Tennessee study estimated that states lost $23.2 billion in revenue in 2012 because of remote sales.

    Sales Tax Today

    Sales tax is considered a “pass-through” tax, because the merchant is only “holding” the taxes collected before remitting it to state and local taxing authorities. But there are significant labor and overhead costs associated with tracking and accounting for this money which is sent in either monthly, quarterly or annually depending on gross sales.

    Currently 5 states - Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon - do not levy any form of sales tax.

    The other 45, however, have created over 15,000 taxing jurisdictions, which in turn have generated a mystifying and complex web of taxes that are in a constant state of flux as state and local lawmakers decide which goods and services will be subject to their taxes, and which will not.

    The volatility of this system should not be underestimated. One clear example, in November 2015 alone, taxing authorities in 26 states made 257 changes to their sales tax rates and rules.

    The Tax Foundation currently singles out Arizona, Louisiana, and Colorado as having the worst sales tax systems in the country. And with Arizona and Louisiana working on changes, that leaves my home state of Colorado as the worst of the worst!

    Colorado currently has 294 taxing jurisdictions, including the state itself, various special districts and authorities, metropolitan districts, statutory cities and towns, home rule cities, and counties. These jurisdictions yield a total of 756 areas with different rates and bases.

    Add the burgeoning new marijuana industry to the mix and it all becomes an impossible blur.

    Setting the Stage

    When it comes to sales tax, here’s what everyone get’s wrong. Sales tax is not a location tax, it is a transaction tax. The transaction triggers the tax. The location just determines the amount and who the recipients will be. Without a transaction, there is no tax.

    The fact that every community wants to add their own extra piece to the sales tax puzzle, requiring special forms and special rules for compliance, is what has turned it into an impossibly complicated system.

    Cities and communities across the country are now in dire straits. Their programs and services were framed around the income streams of more prosperous times. Bad systems, like sales tax, get remarkably worse during a bad economy. But they also create an opportunity.

    Enter the Blockchain

    The blockchain is the public ledger part of all Bitcoin transactions. Regardless of whether Bitcoin itself survives, the ingenious thinking that led to the technology behind blockchain will.

    The financial community has taken notice of blockchain in a big way, with a number of courses now being taught or in process at prominent institutions, including two at MIT, to further its development.

    By using cryptography, blockchains allow multiple parties to keep private information private while keeping it publicly auditable; this provides the foundation for multi-party trust.

    One of the key advantages is that as risk plummets, the cost per transaction approaches zero.

    In much the same way that telephone long distance rates dropped to zero and opened the door for countless new business opportunities, if financial transaction costs drop to zero, we will see an explosion of new retail opportunities. We move from micropayments to nano-size payments virtually overnight.

    In addition to its role in cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology is being used to solve real world problems such as enforcing contracts, providing accountability to partners, or allowing for the verification of real world products. 

    Proposing a Solution

    First, let’s start with the assumption that sales tax must be applied to all retail transactions - period, no exceptions. If we eliminate this one variable, then much of the complex decision-making process currently imposed on retailers is eliminated.

    Second, if we agree to split the amount of sales tax evenly between the location of the buyer and the location of the seller, there will no longer be any disagreement over collection and distribution of tax receipts.

    Third, as we move into a blockchain era, as money becomes increasingly digital, the actual collection and remittance of sales tax can happen instantly. As money is paid by the seller, sales tax from every transaction can be peeled off and remitted directly to the taxing agency.

    As an example, with a $12.00 purchase and 7% sales tax - 4% going to state, 1% going to county, and 2% going to a city - the total charge would be $12.84 with $.48 going directly to the state, $.12 to the county, and $.24 going to the city.

    Tiny sales tax payments would be sent instantly, and in the event a refund is issued, the same tiny transactions would happen in reverse.

    Even cash transactions could be run through an electronic device and taxes would be instantly remitted from a special account managed by the merchant. Most merchants would be happy to maintain a small balance in a special tax-remittance account in exchange for never having to file sales tax reports ever again.

    Rather than continuing to patch our current system where millions of individual retailers bear the responsibility for collecting the sales tax, filling out tax forms, and remitting the money on a monthly basis, literally billions of tiny payments would be made in real time every second of every day. This will eliminate the stress-laden responsibility of relentless accounting, form filing, and updates that happen along the way.

    Everything would happen through software, and that software would be super easy to use, free to every merchant, and managed independent of any user group.

    The whole intent of this approach is to build a sales tax collection mechanism that is both seamless and nearly invisible to both retailers and customers alike.

    Final Thoughts

    My intent here is to stimulate a discussion, not to claim all of the answers.

    Even though I love to buy things online and have products delivered to my front door like everyone else, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to support my local community. We’re currently saddled with a very bad system and it’s a system problem, not a business or community problem.

    Accounting and bookkeeping as an industry tends to thrive in the face of complexity. Each new decision point added to the tax code has been very good for the accounting business, but generally bad for the rest of the economy.

    Complexity places an insidious brainpower burden on people, and this translates into a significant toll on society. While it may be unrealistic to eliminate complexity by imposing simplicity, we can at least automate it.

    Our future is being shaped by our systems. We now have a golden opportunity to do something amazing, and one critical first step will be to fix sales tax.

    Please let me know your thoughts.

    By Futurist Thomas Frey

    Author of "Communicating with the Future"

    Wednesday, March 09, 2016

    Rabbi Ben David fighting cancer; drawing inspiration from community By David Portnoe

    Source: PDF (1) (2)


    March 2, 2016

    Rabbi Ben David wanted to “own the message.” The 39- year-old husband, father of three young children, and spiritual leader of Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel let his congregation and the outside world know soon after he was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, a specific type of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

    “I didn’t want speculation. I wanted people to hear exactly what was going on—as well as my own positive take,” said David as he sat in his office discussing his diagnosis. He said that he is fully aware that there will be difficult days ahead as he undergoes treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, but he added that life goes on, and the rabbi in him knows that this is an opportunity to guide and steer people away from sadness to a place of hope.

    “That is what our tradition urges me to do and all of us to do, even in a time of uncertainty,” said David. He added that he has always been a highly upbeat, optimistic person, and this diagnosis will not change that.

    “It has become an opportunity to better relate to people. It has given me a greater sensitivity,” said David.

    Rabbi David said that he first had suspicions that something was wrong the day after he turned 39 in January. “I had this mass on my neck. At least in the beginning, I thought nothing of it,” he said. His trip to the doctor began a “scavenger hunt” to determine the problem. Tests revealed the cancer. “I had my first chemo treatment, and I will be treated every three weeks going forward at Penn.”

    “I was totally shocked,” said David of his diagnosis. He has no family history of cancer. He lives a healthy lifestyle, is an avid runner who has done 17 marathons, and takes care of himself. “One of the nurses at Penn said I had the best resting heart rate that she had ever seen.” But, he noted, no one is immune from cancer.

    During his interview with the Voice, Rabbi David talked about the tough conversations he’s had in the past month—with his parents, Rabbi Jerome and Peggy David of Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, his synagogue board, whom he told in person, his rabbinical colleagues, and his children.

    Rabbi David and his wife Lisa have three children, ages 8, 5, and 3. “We told our children in ways appropriate to them, that I am sick now, but in order to get better, I have to take some strong medicine.” He and his wife tried to answer their questions.

    “The Torah portion we read on Yom Kippur, Nitzavim, acknowledges that we live with choice—life and death, blessing and curse. I’ve always looked for the blessing,” said David. He said that to be a Jew is to recognize that we have a miraculous history with iconic leaders. “That is the message for me right now—that we are mortal and susceptible to bad luck and sickness… our Patriarchs and Matriarchs dealt with challenges, but we are not alone. We have community and family.”

    The outpouring of love and support has been absolute, according to David. One need only look at the hallways of his synagogue to see the get-well posters made by the children in Adath’s school as well as the many photos and messages on Facebook.

    He said people are bringing over meals, making donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and sending him messages around the clock. “To me it affirms what we mean when we talk about community,” he said, adding that he has heard from so many people, including some he had not heard from in years. He also received a letter from Mario Lemieux, the hockey great who had lymphoma during his career.

    “When people ask me what they can do, I tell them to live their Jewish lives, give tzedakah, do mitzvot, be kind to one another. That is what gives me great joy,” said David.

    Another thing that would give him great joy would be running in November’s New York City Marathon. “Of all the things I daydream about lying in the hospital, it is running with my running partners and friends, possibly putting a group together to raise money for cancer-fighting organizations.” .