Just as I'd hoped and written about here, earlier:
How your windows could be the future of electricity: Scientists create transparent solar panels out of 'glass-like' plastic
"...researchers developed a new transparent solar cell which means windows in homes and other buildings can have the ability to generate electricity while still allowing people to see outside.
The University of California, Los Angeles team describes a new kind of polymer solar cell (PSC) that produces energy by absorbing mainly infrared light, making the cells nearly 70 per cent transparent to the human eye.
They made the device from a photo-active plastic that converts infrared light into an electrical current.
"'These results open the potential for visibly transparent polymer solar cells as add-on components of portable electronics, smart windows and building-integrated photovoltaics and in other applications,' said study leader Yang Yang, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering."
Here's one of the most important, additional features:
"'Our new PSCs are made from plastic-like materials and are lightweight and flexible,' he said. 'More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost.'"
This is, potentially, a huge breakthrough.
Now if we can just put these all over our homes and commercial buildings, we'll be able to generate our own electricity, save loads of money, burn less coal and clean the air significantly, just with this one advancement. We'll be far less dependent on the utility companies, as well, of course. Finally, it seems we would be able to, eventually, anyway, do away also with nuclear energy, its costs and all the residual, additional nuclear waste we never knew how or where to store.
Those are huge improvements for societies and nations.
With the loss of power for some 600 million people in India the last two days, too, it's been pointed out that that is an excellent and timely reminder of coal's big weaknessses and shortcomings. If we can get this kind of technology out across the world, even the poor could have a steady, reliable and clean source of electrical energy. The benefits of this are multiple, at least, if not exponential.
I still say this could also lead to cars and buses having this same technology on them so we'd run clean transportation, too.
Here's hoping this spreads and spreads quickly, across the nation and world.
It is said that the nation that "owns" solar technology will own the next century.
Even if that's not true, this is a huge boon, potentially, for the nation and even, again, the world and in many ways.
Tough news, there, Missourians. Sorry to break it to you this otherwise beautiful morning but here goes.
The state of Missouri is ranked one of the "Most Depressing States" by Health.com.
The thing is, though, first they say we're one of the top most depressing states in the Union, of the 50 states, then, this is all they really have to say about us:
"Missouri isn’t at the bottom of the barrel in any one measure of mental health, but it gets very low marks in several areas, including the rate of serious psychological distress (13%)."
It seems cowardly or inconsistent orr non-committal or something.
Anyway, this is what they say it's based on:
"Using data from federal health agencies, Health.com has identified the 10 states with the highest rates of depression, psychological distress, and other indicators of poor mental health."
They also listed the states alphabetically and not by best to worst or vice versa so you don't really know who ranks where. That said, Mississippi and West Virginia are on the list so what's that tell you, with their poverty rates?
Just an educated guess.
Final note: Once again, several of these states on this list for negative note are Right Wing, "Conservative", Republican-leaning "red" states, it's worth mentioning.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” ~-Anne Frank
"Some people say Americans need more training and exposure to guns. Some say we need tighter gun laws. I say there are some people who can't handle the responsibility of gun ownership, and America is one of those people. America is that kid who turns a crayon into a weapon and tortures cats in the neighborhood. You wouldn't give him a gun, would you?" --Jonathyn Byrd, American Country Western singer, songwriter and performer
--Lemon, lime or orange--your favorite citrus juice--straight from the source
--Your favorite dry seasoning
--Fresh grated parmesan (or other dry, white) cheese (definitely, absolutely not that nasty, nearly-powdered Kraft parmesan crap. Well, unless you especially like it)
--Nearly any fresh herbs or spices (dill, thyme, mint, marjoram, etc.)
--Your favorite wine--red, white, dry, sweet, whatever (I'd go with the dry, personally, but that's me and yes, I would stick more with red for red meats and white for pork, chicken and fish. But again, that's me)
--Fresh, grilled vegetables, especially if they are done with a bit of olive oil and, again, your favorite dry seasoning and/or spice
--Bacon (lightly, usually), especially pepper bacon. Yow
--Salt, of course, but the better types really are better and absolutely worth a little higher price
Whatever you do, keep it simple. Keep it simple, put in your favorites, experiment, do what you like and you'll virtually never be disappointed. You'll find that, besides loving your food, you--and your guests--will have had fun and thoroughly enjoyed the food, too.
There is what should be a wonderful live performance this Saturday evening, downtown, at the Czar Bar at 7 pm.
The guitartist, singer, songwriter and performer is Jay Brannan (Google him and/or look him up on YouTube). He writes and performs his own, original pieces but I thought I'd put up this piece, above, to show what he can do with more familiar work. Also, even in this, his own bedroom, without expensive sound equipment, he sounds terrific.
A good--no, great--time should be had by all and tickets are only 8 to 10 dollars, the way they should be--affordable.
If you look, too, he just got back from playing Europe and he's playing New York and more of Europe again this Fall, too.
Even the cheapest of the cheap in this town can afford this one.
“I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think it will be based on the color of the skin.” ―-Malcolm X
"I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation. That hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.
But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons, and we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller." --President Barack Obama
And for this, the president will be pilloried by most Republicans, most of the Right Wing and most of the NRA.
Fortunately, it will also strengthen him with his base and, too, with those who would like to see far fewer gun massacres in the nation.
Since Cain went nuts and whacked Abel, there have always been those humans who, for one reason or another, go temporarily or permanently insane and commit unspeakable acts of violence. There was the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who during the first century A.D. enjoyed throwing victims off a cliff on the Mediterranean island of Capri. Gilles de Rais, a French knight and ally of Joan of Arc during the middle ages, went cuckoo-for-Cocoa Puffs one day and ended up murdering hundreds of children. Just a few decades later Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula, was killing people in Transylvania in numberless horrifying ways.
In modern times, nearly every nation has had a psychopath or two commit a mass murder, regardless of how strict their gun laws are – the crazed white supremacist in Norway one year ago Sunday, the schoolyard butcher in Dunblane, Scotland, the École Polytechnique killer in Montreal, the mass murderer in Erfurt, Germany … the list seems endless.
And now the Aurora shooter last Friday. There have always been insane people, and there always will be.
But here's the difference between the rest of the world and us: We have TWO Auroras that take place every single day of every single year! At least 24 Americans every day (8-9,000 a year) are killed by people with guns – and that doesn't count the ones accidentally killed by guns or who commit suicide with a gun. Count them and you can triple that number to over 25,000.
That means the United States is responsible for over 80% of all the gun deaths in the 23 richest countries combined. Considering that the people of those countries, as human beings, are no better or worse than any of us, well, then, why us?
Both conservatives and liberals in America operate with firmly held beliefs as to "the why" of this problem. And the reason neither can find their way out of the box toward a real solution is because, in fact, they're both half right.
The right believes that the Founding Fathers, through some sort of divine decree, have guaranteed them the absolute right to own as many guns as they desire. And they will ceaselessly remind you that a gun cannot fire itself – that "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Of course, they know they're being intellectually dishonest (if I can use that word) when they say that about the Second Amendment because they know the men who wrote the constitution just wanted to make sure a militia could be quickly called up from amongst the farmers and merchants should the Brits decide to return and wreak some havoc.
But they are half right when they say "Guns don't kill people." I would just alter that slogan slightly to speak the real truth: "Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people."
Because we're the only ones in the first world who do this en masse. And you'll hear all stripes of Americans come up with a host of reasons so that they don't have to deal with what's really behind all this murder and mayhem.
They'll say it's the violent movies and video games that are responsible. Last time I checked, the movies and video games in Japan are more violent than ours – and yet usually fewer than 20 people a year are killed there with guns – and in 2006 the number was two!
Others will say it's the number of broken homes that lead to all this killing. I hate to break this to you, but there are almost as many single-parent homes in the U.K. as there are here – and yet, in Great Britain, there are usually fewer than 40 gun murders a year.
People like me will say this is all the result of the U.S. having a history and a culture of men with guns, "cowboys and Indians," "shoot first and ask questions later." And while it is true that the mass genocide of the Native Americans set a pretty ugly model to found a country on, I think it's safe to say we're not the only ones with a violent past or a penchant for genocide. Hello, Germany! That's right I'm talking about you and your history, from the Huns to the Nazis, just loving a good slaughter (as did the Japanese, and the British who ruled the world for hundreds of years – and they didn't achieve that through planting daisies). And yet in Germany, a nation of 80 million people, there are only around 200 gun murders a year.
So those countries (and many others) are just like us – except for the fact that more people here believe in God and go to church than any other Western nation.
My liberal compatriots will tell you if we just had less guns, there would be less gun deaths. And, mathematically, that would be true. If you have less arsenic in the water supply, it will kill less people. Less of anything bad – calories, smoking, reality TV – will kill far fewer people. And if we had strong gun laws that prohibited automatic and semi-automatic weapons and banned the sale of large magazines that can hold a gazillion bullets, well, then shooters like the man in Aurora would not be able to shoot so many people in just a few minutes.
But this, too, has a problem. There are plenty of guns in Canada (mostly hunting rifles) – and yet the annual gun murder count in Canada is around 200 deaths. In fact, because of its proximity, Canada's culture is very similar to ours – the kids play the same violent video games, watch the same movies and TV shows, and yet they don't grow up wanting to kill each other. Switzerland has the third-highest number of guns per capita on earth, but still a low murder rate.
So – why us?
I posed this question a decade ago in my film 'Bowling for Columbine,' and this week, I have had little to say because I feel I said what I had to say ten years ago – and it doesn't seem to have done a whole lot of good other than to now look like it was actually a crystal ball posing as a movie.
This is what I said then, and it is what I will say again today:
1. We Americans are incredibly good killers. We believe in killing as a way of accomplishing our goals. Three-quarters of our states execute criminals, even though the states with the lower murder rates are generally the states with no death penalty.
Our killing is not just historical (the slaughter of Indians and slaves and each other in a "civil" war). It is our current way of resolving whatever it is we're afraid of. It's invasion as foreign policy. Sure there's Iraq and Afghanistan – but we've been invaders since we "conquered the wild west" and now we're hooked so bad we don't even know where to invade (bin Laden wasn't hiding in Afghanistan, he was in Pakistan) or what to invade for (Saddam had zero weapons of mass destruction and nothing to do with 9/11). We send our lower classes off to do the killing, and the rest of us who don't have a loved one over there don't spend a single minute of any given day thinking about the carnage. And now we send in remote pilotless planes to kill, planes that are being controlled by faceless men in a lush, air conditioned studio in suburban Las Vegas. It is madness.
2. We are an easily frightened people and it is easy to manipulate us with fear. What are we so afraid of that we need to have 300 million guns in our homes? Who do we think is going to hurt us? Why are most of these guns in white suburban and rural homes? Maybe we should fix our race problem and our poverty problem (again, #1 in the industrialized world) and then maybe there would be fewer frustrated, frightened, angry people reaching for the gun in the drawer. Maybe we would take better care of each other (here's a good example of what I mean).
Those are my thoughts about Aurora and the violent country I am a citizen of. Like I said, I spelled it all out here if you'd like to watch it or share it for free with others. All we're lacking here, my friends, is the courage and the resolve. I'm in if you are.
"Every woman should be able to decide when and whether to have children.
This is true whether she is HIV positive or not...There should be no controversy about this, none at all." --Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, spoken this past Monday in New York at the International AIDS Conference
Okay so the NCAA came out today and is penalizing Penn State for the sex abuse scandals under Jerry Sandusky and, as it turns out, Joe Paterno and that's all well and good, sure.
In their penalties for Penn State, the NCAA is giving them a 4 year bowl ban, scholarships reduced from 25 to 15 for four years and says they must vacate all wins from 1998 to 2011.
Oh, and one last thing.
They--the NCAA--is fining Penn 60 million dollars.
I'm sorry but it's a bit difficult to be anything but read that last little beauty cynically.
The NCAA is nothing if not a money hog that famously--and again, rather cynically--exploits student athletes and universities for millions upon millions of dollars and they don't otherwise serve any good, useful purpose, if they ever did.
Sports writer Frank Deford has written and spoken well and extensively on this, as just one source:
So chidren were sexually and physically abused at Penn State by Jerry Sandusky and one of NCAA's "solutions" is to fine--take, really--$60 million from their program.
Forgive me while I wretch and while I don't--absolutely don't--think this is any real solution or that any additional good will come from it.
Unless or until the NCAA turns that $60 million fund over to a sexual abuse prevention organization, I'll have to assume no good is coming from it and that it's only about that same NCAA's all-consuming greed.
What the Assault Weapons Ban is and a little history (from Wikipedia):
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) (or Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act) was a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a federal law in the United States that included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms, so called "assault weapons". There was no legal definition of "assault weapons" in the U.S. prior to the law's enactment. The 10-year ban was passed by Congress on September 13, 1994, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton the same day. The ban only applied to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban's enactment.
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired on September 13, 2004, as part of the law's sunset provision. There have been multiple attempts to renew the ban, but no bill has reached the floor for a vote.
The Aurora, Colorado Congressman is calling for a reinstatement of the Assault Weapon Ban, thank goodness:
Please contact the House of Representatives to renew the Assault Weapons Ban:
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney opposes all new gun control laws today, but that wasn’t always the case. In 2004, as governor, he signed a permanent assault weapons ban into law in Massachusetts. The law included other elements welcomed by gun-rights supporters, but Mr. Romney defended the assault weapons provision on its own merits.
“I believe the people should have the right to bear arms, but I don’t believe that we have to have assault weapons as part of our personal arsenal,” he said on Fox News in 2004.
How do you not love the gift that keeps on giving that is Mitt Romney?
Sure, we can't be Austin, Texas, what with its Sixth Street, its Congress Avenue, its music history, etc., and we don't have to want to try to be, certainly. But at least we got one thing from that city that they do so well.
That is, we got the Alamo Drafthouse. It went into the space of the former AMC Mainstreet Theater downtown.
And I can tell you, there's only one reason this place appeals to me.
The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas has always been famous--and popular--for being tough on moviegoers who talk in theaters but who also feel they must bring their telephones or computers into the theater and use them during the movie experience.
Of course, one of the big, wonderful ironies of this is that Austin is known for being at the forefront of the comuter industry and culture, yet here these people are, fighting the rudeness of some people with their technology.
Bravo for them, I say, naturally, and great for us. Maybe it will spread.
So if you've ever experienced the rudeness and selfishness and ignorance of that kind of fellow-moviegoer--and who hasn't?--this should be the place for you.
Heck, it's the place for all of us.
"...as Shakespeare famously wrote, 'The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.' In other words, people. People with guns. There are an estimated 300 million guns in the United States, one in four adult Americans owns at least one and most of them are men. The British newspaper The Guardian, reminds us that over the last 30 years, 'The number of states with a law that automatically approves licenses to carry concealed weapons provided an applicant clears a criminal background check has risen from eight to 38.'
Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence may cost our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns.
...we have become so gun loving, so blasé about home-grown violence that in my lifetime alone, far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined. In Arizona last year, just days after the Gabby Giffords shooting, sales of the weapon used in the slaughter - a 9 millimeter Glock semi-automatic pistol - doubled.
We are fooling ourselves. That the law could allow even an inflamed lunatic to easily acquire murderous weapons and not expect murderous consequences. Fooling ourselves that the second amendment’s guarantee of a "well-regulated militia" be construed as a God-given right to purchase and own just about any weapon of destruction you like. That's a license for murder and mayhem and it's a great fraud that has entered our history.
...The killer in Colorado waited only for an opportunity, and there you have it - the arsenal of democracy transformed into the arsenal of death and the NRA - the NRA is the enabler of death - paranoid, delusional, and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel hoax, a cruel and deadly hoax."
"...how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
Every Columbine and every Tuscon, Arizona and every Aurora, Colorado makes it that much easier to point out the ignorance of America's gun laws and the deaths from our far-too-many guns.
Does it change anything or will it?
Heck no, unfortunately. Americans will continue to do nothing or--worse--they will fight to keep our semi-automatic and automatic weapons.
We're just not that bright.
So please, don't pretend America gives a damn about the 12 people killed yesterday and the 59 shot and wounded or the crippling and near-killing of Representative Gabby Gifford and the six killed and 13 wounded then and there in Tuscon last year or the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 that killed 32 people and wounded 17 others or, finally--at least here, now, today--the Columbine shooting, in which 13 people were killed and 21 were injured.
America, Americans, don't pretend you give a damn--not one bit--about the people who were killed this week in Aurora, Colorado. You feign concern and/or sympathy like someone who posts "I'm so sorry" on Facebook.
It's a an empty gesture.
A very empty gesture.
If you gave a damn, you'd make sure this madness would at least decrease greatly, if not end as completely as possible.
Instead, you do nothing.
As it is, there will be another Columbine, another Tuscon, yet another Virginia Tech, one more Aurora, Colorado.
And the reactions and results will be just the same.
"It's probably hopeless by now to try to excite the GOP's conservative base about Romney, not only because of ideology, but even more because of sociology. Romney's life, career, and manner all combine to remind the white working class why their parents and grandparents voted Democratic." --David Frum, Republican and former speechwriter for George W. Bush
With as badly--horribly, really--as The New York Times buckled and let down both its readers and the nation on George W. Bush & Company's unprecedented, unwarranted, unnecessary and nationally and internationally illegal attack on and war with Iraq from 2003 on, doesn't it seem as though now they should be hounding down every fact and detail they can find on the hopefully remote possibility that we would now or are now or in the near future considering attacking Iran?
Don't you think they owe that to us, the American public, all their readers and the world?
"For 20 years now, the GOP has been giving away the votes of professionals, upper-income non-whites, college-educated women, and other comparatively economically successful groups.
The party has rebased itself on the votes of whites without a college degree. Mitt Romney must gain almost two-thirds of their vote in 2012 to have any realistic hope of winning the White House.
Non-college whites are the most alienated and pessimistic group in the electorate and also the most nationalist. They may resent the "foreigner" Barack Obama, but there is one thing they hate even more: outsourcing—and those who do it.
Tanner is right that free trade, including outsourcing, raises national income in the aggregate. But it does not raise the incomes of each and every one of us individually. Trade creates losers as well as winners. John Stuart Mill proposed a solution to this conundrum more than 150 years ago: trade freely, then tax the winners to compensate the losers. That solution is not congruent with the Cato Institute philosophy. Result: losers and prospective losers—and they know who they are!—fear outsourcing. The losers and prospective losers also happen to provide the GOP with much (or most) of its voting muscle.
You want to change that dynamic? You'll have to reorient the party to a new voting base—one that does not thrill to the music that the Romney campaign has been playing all this week." --David Frum, former writer for George W. Bush
Voters group seeks city resolution against Citizens United decision
A coalition of voting-rights activists came to Wichita City Hall Tuesday asking the council to support a constitutional amendment to push corporate money out of politics.
About 30 residents — part of a new group called “We the People of Kansas” – stood up in the meeting to ask the council to pass a resolution supporting a proposed amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.
And heaven knows we need to overturn and kill that God-awful ruling.
Thank you, Wichita, Kansas.
You beat us in city-wide celebrations with your annual River Festival and now this.
They had a huge opening in their daily program lineup, what with the retirement of "Mr. Kansas City," Walt Bodine.
They needed someone to come in and build a program around, someone to talk about Kansas City and they selected one Jabulani Leffall.
In the first place, I don't believe anyone knew of Mr. Leffall. Not many, locally, knew his name, really, I don't think, so that's tough.
And let's be honest, he's a black man and that, with a white audience, could still, even today, be a gamble, sadly, unfortunately.
But KCUR took it.
Good for them.
It's odd about radio, isn't it?
You can't see the person but the color of the person somehow, strangely can be a consideration for why the audience listens. Or doesn't listen.
The only other radio station in town to have any programs more specifically for blacks--programs that cover minority issues, other than KMXV (93.3 FM), which is more purely music, is KKFI ((90.1 FM) and that just isn't much coverage in this city for African-American and other's issues. Let me make clear, too, I'm certainly not saying that Mr. Leffall covers black or minority issues singularly, far from it. It's just that he covers some of these issues, along with others, and not a lot of other radio stations or programs do locally.
So KCUR chose this unknown but award-winning young man and ran with it. (If you're still not that familiar with him and his work, you might go to the links below at KCUR. He's written and worked for some very big, renowned organizations, for sure).
It would be good to know the ratings of his program now, especially compared to what it was with The Walt Bodine Show.
Hopefully the ratings are about the same, at minimum. It would be terrific if those ratings were even higher.
Hopefully people are listening. He has, I think, gotten more comfortable and relaxed with the show and his own delivery, it seems. At least it seems that way to me. I can't imagine what others think.
He's having what he calls "Listening Posts" so his constituents can come by and tell him, through his staff, I believe, what's on their minds.
The only problem with this seems to be that this is the second time I'm aware of that he does them all AROUND the Kansas City area but not--never?--IN our city.
Proof? I received an email today that linked to this page, showing where these "Listening Posts" of his will be. Here's his list:
So I ask you, is the very Republican Senator Roy Blunt NOT our senator or does he just not like us or not care what we think or doesn't want to hear from us or what? Do we intimidate him? Does he not like us? Does he just assume he doesn't have enough people here he cares to listen to?
“Nobody cares that Mitt Romney is rich. It’s Romney’s inability to understand the institutional advantage that he gains from the government’s tax code largesse, that’s a little offensive to people, especially considering Romney’s view on anyone else who looks to the government for things like, I don’t know, food and medicine.”
—-Jon Stewart, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
Exit ramps in the metropolitan area that are far, far overdue for reworking and updating because there are far too many cars that need to access them now:
First up--I-35 North to 635 North, especially during rush hour. It backs up for miles. Insane.
Next up--I-435 West (in Johnson County, KS--OP) to I-35 South. Another one-liner. Far backed up.
And for that matter, I-435 South to I-35 South--the same intersection. It all dumps into the same line. Crazy.
Third--I-435 South on the East side of the city, by the stadiums, to I-70 East. A famous long line either during rush hour or anywhere near a Royals baseball or Chiefs football game. Crazy lines and out-and-out dangerous, at times.
These three, at least, need updating, widening, hopefully, and improving, for safety and the good flow of traffic. It can add to productivity, too.
Thank goodness, Kansas City, we're not Detroit, Michigan, in so many ways.
The latest way is in their schools. This, yesterday, from NPR:
Detroit Teachers Mull Strike Over Imposed Contract
"The existing contract for Detroit teachers was ripped up and chucked into the trash by the school district's emergency financial manager. The teachers' union is angry and making noise about a possible strike."
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Public school teachers in Detroit have a new contract, one they didn't bargain for and didn't sign. It was imposed by the state-appointed official in charge of the district. And now, two months before the start of the school year, the teacher's union is considering going on strike.
This happened here in Kansas City, as I recall, a few years ago, under one of the Superintendents--John Covington, I believe, but would have to verify.
Anyway, there's the Detroit school district--broke, in debt--deep, deep debt and needing solutions so they tore up the old teachers contracts and want to start all over.
The city's in trouble, financial and otherwise, and this, too, at the same time.
Then there's this:
Quinn Klinefelter (reporter, interviewer): "Decades of mismanagement and internal squabbles left Detroit schools hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. The state appointed an emergency manager to take over the finances in 2009 with the power to make sweeping changes. This year, emergency manager Roy Roberts is closing 15 schools. And with the state ending requirements that teachers be hired based on seniority, Roberts handed all 4,100 Detroit public school teachers a pink slip, told them to reapply for a job and says 800 of them will not be hired back."
And it stinks.
It seems to me Detroit is like this tiny, isolated country between Canada and the United States no one wants much, if anything, to do with and no one wants to help.
There's so much to this story, too. I want to be for the schools but they have to address their expenses, without doubt.
I want to be for the teacher's union because--well, just because.
I'm certainly for the teachers, sure, but cuts have to come from somewhere.
And you have to be for the kids, the students, whatever has to happen.
They have, apparently, far too many teachers and have to reduce the quantity somehow.
And you know that's not going to be pretty.
Whatever was bad about KCMO School District Superintendent John Covington's leaving us, at least he took care of the debt before it got any worse.
I got another education today, from NPR, when they told of Kitty Wells passing and, of course, then, her history. I knew her name and knew she was a country singer but that was about it. I didn't know her music because, when younger, I swore I'd never listen to that style.
I changed. I was wrong. About country music, anyway, as some of it I enjoy.
Anyway, the thing that, to me, was most important about her and her breakthrough, was that she was the first woman to have a number one single in Country music.
Here, from the NPR story, is what is most important about Ms. Wells, to me, anyway:
"In 1952, she shattered the rules of country music with one song she recorded as a demo: 'It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.'
The song made her the first woman to score a solo hit on the top of the country charts. It even crossed over to the pop charts. But it was seen as incredibly controversial. The song defended women's behavior in the face of cheating men. The country music establishment was horrified, says historian Mary Bufwack."
It immediately reminded me of the onld, famous quote:
“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” ―-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
So good on you, Kitty Wells. You spoke up. You were original and creative and had guts. You believed in yourself and loved singing and did what you wanted to do.
Text of ex-slave's letter to his former master (on Yahoo! News last evening):
The famed letter written by an ex-slave in response to his former master's request that he return to the plantation, soon after the end of the Civil War. Different versions of the letter bear various spellings of the writer's name.
Dayton, Ohio,August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable.
Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy — the folks call her Mrs. Anderson — and the children — Milly, Jane, and Grundy — go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated.
Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.
As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to.
Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.
In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve — and die, if it come to that — than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.
Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
News out this morning says the Feds support--still support--the biosciences lab going in out at Manhattan, even if it is scaled down:
Fed. panel supports Kan. biosecurity lab project
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A government-backed committee of the National Research Council issued a report Friday saying the United States would have adequate biosecurity protections even if plans for a proposed $1.14 billion lab in Kansas are scaled back.
The study was prepared by a subcommittee formed this spring to look at three options for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility that is to be built in Manhattan near the Kansas State University campus. The report was in response to tighter federal revenues and budget controls that are forcing agencies to rethink spending priorities.
DHS asked the National Research Council to review the threats of foreign animal disease, the capabilities needed to address such threats and analyze options for building the lab as proposed or scaling back the size and scope. A third option included keeping the current research lab at Plum Island, N.Y.
While the committee found that the need for a lab hadn't changed since the project was first proposed in 2006, it did find that DHS had two options for completing the goal of developing the capabilities with a laboratory designed specifically to respond to a biosecurity threat. However, the report concluded that both options had drawbacks.
So rest assured, Kansas--apparently you're still going to get your lab and the money and jobs, even if it isn't as big as once promised and hoped.
What Your Facebook Page Says About Your Personality
If you think you're keeping any secrets on Facebook, think again. It's not just what you post on the social networking site, but how you post it that reveals what kind of person you are.
That's the contention of researchers at the University of Missouri who have developed a new scale that judges people's personality based on how they use the popular social media site.
The scale reveals that those who like high-risk activity tend to update their status, upload photos and interact with friends frequently. While conversely, those who are more reserved tend to merely scroll through Facebook's "news feed," and don't upload photos or actively engage with their friends.
Missouri doctoral student Heather Shoenberger developed the scale after surveying people about their use of Facebook and having them take a personality test.
Those who leaned toward high-risk activities were labeled as "appetitive," with those who were more reserved in their activities labeled as "aversive." While both personality types use Facebook frequently, Shoenberger found significant differences in how each uses the social media site.
"If you're highly "appetitive" or lean toward high-risk activities, you're more likely to want to engage with media that are more exciting, whereas those who are higher in the "aversive" trait tend to enjoy safer and more predictable media experiences," Shoenberger said.
The scale could help advertisers target online audiences easier, according to Shoenberger.
"I believe this could really help advertisers and certain types of media groups target potential customers with particular ads on social media sites," Shoenberger said. "Identifying these individuals using the motivation activation measure can give advertisers an advantage over their competitors and bring some order to online advertising."
For example, she says companies that want to target consumers for a high-risk activity should try to determine who is active on Facebook and frequently posting pictures and updating their status.
The study was recently presented at the International Communication Association Conference in Phoenix.
So, Facebook users, if you're interested, check it out. If not a Facebook user, you may just want to know what our state university is up to, at least in one department and example.
First there was the 2008 financial, financial implosion of the banks that took place, nearly bringing down not just the nation's but nearly the world's economies, both, simultaneously.
Next we got Countrywide Financial cheating people out of millions or billions of dollars on their home mortgages with president, CEO and owner Angelo Mozilo getting away nearly scot-free.
Next up, we more recently had the Barclays Bank manipulation of the Libor interest rates, to our detriment and their benefit.
Fourth, we very recently--this past week--had Wells Fargo getting fined 175 million dollars for putting the financial screws to Blacks and Hispanics across the country.
Fifth, next, "Visa, MasterCard and major banks agreed to pay retailers at least $6 billion to settle a long-running lawsuit that alleged the card issuers conspired to fix the fees that stores pay to accept credit cards." Sick. We're being used and thrown to the dogs.
Now, we have JP Morgan saying yesterday that they lost not just 2 billion dollars but at least nearly 6 billion dollars--it may climb higher, they said--because they didn't have the proper people and procedures in place to protect their clients, themselves and the nation from this big a fleecing and scandal.
At what point do we recognize that we need to regulate banks better and more thoroughly?
''During a speech in Ohio, Joe Biden criticized Republicans for not understanding the middle class. In response, Mitt Romney was like, 'That's ridiculous. Some of my best friends' gardeners are middle class.'' —Jimmy Fallon from his show "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon"
I saw this headline last evening and it rather concerns me:
Global Fight for Natural Resources 'Has Only Just Begun,' say Experts
From the article:
"Better economic incentives, rather than ethical considerations and appeals to human morality, are needed to encourage investment in a more sustainable economy, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen.
Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen told the conference that governments would need to step in, to ensure resources were best distributed.
Speaking at the Re|source 2012 Conference in Oxford, Sen said that so-called 'free markets' could not be counted on to meet all fundamental human needs nor could the private sector be trusted to efficiently allocate the world's natural resources.
“The way to make the financial sector respond is not through moral exhortation, but by increasing incentives,” said Sen. 'The market will respond to price increases,' but world governments are required to intervene and address 'inequality and iniquity' that the market inherently generates."
The way our Capitalism is set up and the way the Republican Party, the Libertarians and far too many Right Wingers and Americans in general see the world and the world economy at present, they wouldn't get this.
Far too many of us wouldn't understand, at least at present, that whether you're talking about water or oil or corn or virtually any other commodity, once there are shortages, the item in concern can't be left to "free markets" alone unless we are willing to literally let people go without and that can, in fact, mean going without food.
Morally, we just can't let it end up being "every man--person--for themselves." We can't.
Besides being immoral, it would inevitably mean the deaths of at least thousands of us, if not millions, nation- and world-wide.
Surely we owe our fellow human beings more than that.
Rather naturally, it reminded me of this quote from the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr:
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
And the thing is, we'll have to agree to that cooperation across all nations, worldwide.
Missouri town hopes to have first U.S. horse slaughter plant
(Reuters) - "A town in Missouri is trying to be the first of several in the United States to get a new plant to slaughter horses now that Congress has overruled animal rights groups to allow the killing for the first time in five years.
U.S. slaughter of horses ended in 2007 when Congress, at the urging of animal rights groups, halted funding to inspect processing plants. The unintended result was thousands of horses abandoned or neglected, and even more enduring hundreds of miles of travel to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
After a government report last year detailed the abuses of horses, Congress restored inspection money to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for this year.
"People are giving away horses every day because they can't sell them," said Wayne White, president of the Missouri Equine Council. "All the rescue places are over-populated."
Horse meat is sold for human consumption in China, Russia, Mexico and other foreign countries, according to Unified Equine, a Wyoming company proposing to open a horse-slaughter plant in Rockville, Missouri. Horse meat is also used for zoo animals...
...Residents of Rockville, a town of about 150 people 100 miles south of Kansas City, turned out in force at a meeting last month to support the new plant, said Mayor Dave Moore."
What it's been like--as near as I can tell, since I'm white--to be a Black American in the last 100 years, for a lot of them, if not all:
--You may, or may not, be hired for a job;
--If you are hired for a job, it may well be for an entry-level and/or low-paying job;
--The job may also be either dirty or looked down on or both (e.g., janitor, etc.);
--If you get hired, it is likely for low-paying work;
--Consequently, because you are quite likely paid little, you also likely can't afford much of a house for your home. It will not be big, it will not be grand and it cannot be in a more "exclusive" area, if you can even afford to buy. You may have to rent;
--If you need or want a loan for a home, the chances are high you could be charged a higher interest rate by the bank or financial company (see link below);
--If you want or need a car, the car dealer may well charge you a higher price than he or she would charge a white person--just because they can;
--Many white people in your country--and even Hispanics--may well assume you are "dirty" and/or threatening and/or ignorant, just because of your color;
--One religion, at minimum, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as the Mormons) had as their official policy, from the pulpit, until as late as 1979, that you, as a Black American, could belong to the religion, sure, and they'd take your money but you could never become part of their higher "priesthood" because of your color. Also, the reason is that it's based on a passage from the Bible (Go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_and_mark_of_Cain). Further, some religions--mostly fundamentalist "Christian" ones, still believe this, either formally or informally;
--Finally, to cap all this off, as if all that isn't enough, far too many people of your own country is far too likely to think you are poor because you are lazy and that it's your own fault.
Try understanding all this, let along living with those kinds of pressures.
This, then, is why far too many people just don't "get it" about discrimination and the status of Black Americans in the United States.
"How different would conditions be today economically and politically if unemployment were 7 percent instead of its current 8.2 percent? For one thing, some two million unemployed workers would have jobs, and the rate of economic growth would be comfortably above 2 percent, instead of below that pace. This scenario could have been possible if federal aid to states had been bolstered, saving hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs.
Mr. Obama can make a convincing case that his policies — especially the stimulus and auto industry rescue — helped cushioned the effects of the recession he inherited, which pushed the jobless rate from an already elevated 7.8 percent in January 2009 to 10 percent by October 2009. It has come down, more or less, steadily since then. But it is still higher than when he took office — a point that Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans have seized upon as evidence of failed policies.
Actually, it was the Republicans’ relentless opposition to constructive policies that has kept unemployment high, from their resistance to the 2009 stimulus to their blockage of Mr. Obama’s proposed $450 billion jobs bill in late 2011. Federal aid to states was a mainstay of both of those efforts. As the stimulus ended and further aid was delayed and denied, the effect on state budgets — and on jobs — has been catastrophic.
A recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the loss of public-sector jobs, largely because of state budget cuts, has been the biggest hit to job growth over the past three years.
The direct jobs lost — 627,000 since June 2009 — understates the drag because population growth alone suggests that the public sector should have added nearly 500,000 jobs over that time simply to restore government employment to its norm of the last 20 years. In all, the public sector is coming up short by 1.1 million jobs, including positions for teachers, social workers, public health officials and other professions that would have been filled by many of today’s unemployed college graduates.
Worse, the public-sector gap of 1.1 million jobs has translated into some 750,000 lost jobs in the private sector, the result of contractors losing government business and less spending by laid-off government workers. In addition, another 400,000 or so jobs have been lost because of cutbacks in state aid to the poor and unemployed, which reduce consumer spending.
The effects from an ailing public sector are profound because state and local spending on employees, contractors and beneficiaries reverberates swiftly through the economy. When that spending is depressed, the entire economy suffers.
The bottom line of the institute’s report is that if it weren’t for state and local budget austerity, the economy would have 2.3 million more jobs today, and the unemployment rate would be around 7 percent, not 8 percent. The lesson is that the best and easiest way to reverse job losses would be for Congress to provide fiscal aid to states. Thwarting such aid, as Republicans have done, is a way to keep unemployment elevated and their hopes to win the White House alive. Jobless Americans, struggling businesses and hard-pressed communities are hostages in the fray."