Posts Tagged ‘autism

23
Oct
11

10.23.2011 … wasabi reunion day 2 … home and sushi with Molly — at Koishi Fine Chinese & Sushi Bar.

Davidson College,wasabi, reunions:  So what is a wasabi reunion like … mornings turn to afternoon and we are still in our pjs, sharing, sharing, sharing … loves, likes, movies, books, passions, missions, careers, vocations, families, coffee and more coffee, food  …

Things I learned …, food – gluten-free, vocation, El Hogar Ministries, Inc, Daraja Academy, Nike’s Girl Effect,  Rock the Vonate!, Building Dreams:

  • Gluten-free food can be pretty good and Betsy’s soup is divine … gluten-free?

Spinach-Provolone Soup 

1 28 oz bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not squeezed dry(note:  if I’m strapped for time, I put the frozen spinach in a colander and run hot water over it)

¾ cup finely chopped onion

¼ cup butter

6 cups skim milk

6 cups chicken broth

6 T cornstarch mixed thoroughly with some of the milk until smooth

2 cups shredded provolone cheese (I often buy the Italian blend already shredded at Wal Mart—easier)

2 tsp. salt (or to taste)

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Extra grated cheese and crumbled bacon for topping the soup

  • Puree spinach in food processor and set aside.  If you don’t have a food processor, the soup will still work (you’ll just have chunkier spinach J)
  • Saute onion in melted butter.
  • Add broth, milk, and cornstarch mixture
  • Heat over medium heat until mixture thickens to a thin sauce and begins to bubble (stir frequently).
  • Add the 2 c. grated cheese and stir until melted.
  • Stir in the salt, cayenne pepper, and spinach.
  • Serve as soon as spinach is heated thoroughly.  Garnish each bowl with shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.

This makes enough to serve 12.  Enjoy!

  • Pride in a child who is conquering an illness or handicap, pride in an adult who is conquering an illness or handicap …
  • Heartbreak and joy … everyone can and should experience both … Both are better when shared.
  • Finding your vocation … (I am still looking for mine).

… one wasabi’s husband is heading an orphanage in Honduras, and he is happy … he has found his vocation.

The mission of El Hogar Projects is to provide a loving home and education in a Christian environment for abandoned, orphaned and hopelessly poor children, enabling them to fulfill their ultimate potential as productive human beings in Honduras.

The mission of El Hogar Ministries, Inc. is to assist in the improvement of social and educational conditions in Honduras, principally by supporting El Hogar Projects. El Hogar Ministries, Inc. raises funds and maintains an office for coordination and communication with North American sponsors, contributors and outreach groups which form a sacred community of service and are the backbone of financial support for the 250 children at the three schools and homes of El Hogar Projects.

via El Hogar’s schools provide a loving home & education for abandoned & orphaned children in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

… another wasabi is on the board of a Kenyan school for girls which  is using Rock the Vonate to raise funds … She taught in Kenya right out of Davidson and always           wanted to find a way back

Girls of Daraja (complete) – YouTube.

Rock the Vonate! Your vonate will help Daraja win a spot with Nike’s Girl Effect: top 6 projects w/highest # of individual donations win. This is an opportunity to get Daraja on the global stage. Daraja Academy is a boarding secondary school for Kenyan girls with top academic scores and exceptional leadership skills but no means to continue their education.The academy provides shelter, food, healthcare and counseling services allowing students to focus on academic and personal development.

via Daraja Academy for Exceptional Kenyan Girls – GlobalGiving.

… another wasabi spouse is starting up a mentoring program for SC children of incarcerated parents …

Who We Are

Building Dreams provides mentoring services based on principles of positive youth development to children of incarcerated parents. Started in 2004 in five counties of South Carolina, the Building Dreams program has gradually expanded so that today services are available in eight counties and will soon expand state-wide. Our overarching goal is to develop close, supportive, one-on-one mentoring relationships between trained adult volunteers and eligible children.

via Building Dreams : Public Service : Clemson University : South Carolina.

home, kith/kin: It is wonderful to have a child to share fun and different meals with … Sushi with Molly — at Koishi Sushi Bar and Fine Chinese Restaurant.

travel, technology, iPads:  Another significant impact of a Steve Jobs’ invention … Ipads change economics and speed of hotel wi-fi.  It changes it in my house … “The iPad represents the “final nail in the coffin” for the idea that all Internet is free, Mr. Garrison said.”

IF, like me, you have been complaining about unusually poor Internet service in hotel rooms lately, the hotels have a good explanation.

Largely because of the broad use of iPads and other mobile tablets, which are heavy users of video streaming, the guest room Wi-Fi networks that most hotels thought they had brought up to standard just a few years ago are now often groaning under user demands.

“The iPad is the fastest-selling device in consumer electronics history, and because of it the demand placed on any public place Wi-Fi system has gone up exponentially in the last year and a half,” said David W. Garrison, the chief executive of iBAHN, a provider of systems for the hotel and meetings industries.

This means more hotel customers are unhappy with their Internet connections. Hotel owners, meanwhile, who are digging out from a two-year slump caused by the recession, will probably have to invest more money to provide more bandwidth.

For travelers, it may mean still another fee, since hotels will be paying their own Internet bills. Some hotel Internet service providers are proposing a solution that offers tiered Wi-Fi service. The lowest level, suitable for basic Internet requirements like checking e-mail, would be free, but other levels would be priced depending on bandwidth requirements. According to iBAHN, iPads consume four times more Wi-Fi data per month than the average smartphone.

The iPad represents the “final nail in the coffin” for the idea that all Internet is free, Mr. Garrison said.

via IPads Change Economics, and Speed, of Hotel Wi-Fi-On the Road – NYTimes.com.

2012 Presidential Election, technology, twitter, social networking, GOP:  Is the GOP finally getting up to speed?

President Obama’s image projected from one of the many television screens that hang in Representative Eric Cantor’s office suite, where the president could be seen telling a crowd in North Carolina that he was open to “any serious idea” Republicans offered on jobs.

Within seconds, Brad Dayspring, Mr. Cantor’s Rasputin of retort, was on the case, his fingers ripping across the keyboard as if individually caffeinated. “Obama says he’s open to any “serious #GOP idea,” typed Mr. Dayspring, the aggressive spokesman for Mr. Cantor, the Republican from Virginia who serves as House majority leader, in a message on Twitter. “Here are 15 jobs bills stalled in the Senate to get him started.”

A link from Mr. Cantor’s blog was quickly pasted in, the send button was hit, and Mr. Dayspring sat back slightly in his chair, pleased.

Barely a minute goes by between the time Mr. Obama — or a high-ranking member of his administration — makes a speech, holds a news conference or says something to a talk show host, and a team of young Republican House staffers, fueled by pizza and partisanship, punches back.

It’s a bit of a table turn on Mr. Obama, whose 2008 campaign capitalized on social media in a way that left Republicans bruised and scrambling. Now, after a post-election order from Speaker John A. Boehner that year, House Republicans have embraced Twitter as their karaoke microphone to push their message against the White House bullhorn.

The insta-Tweet has revolutionized rapid response operations that just two years ago relied heavily on cable television, e-mails and news conferences to spread the word of the opposition, which often took a day or two to gain momentum. That time lag could delay the message from taking hold, a result Republicans were eager to undo.

“In the Hill environment, minutes count,” said Mr. Dayspring, whose mad-dash Twitter messaging is supplemented by his colleague Brian Patrick, Mr. Cantor’s blogger and a Twitter expert who is known as Boomer for his ability to pump up Republican crowds.

“It’s far more like a campaign environment now,” Mr. Dayspring said.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama made productive use of Facebook, MySpace and his Web site as tools of outreach and organization. Through social media, money was raised, volunteers were gathered, events were publicized and videos of the candidate went instantly viral. His Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, was flat-footed in the same arena (though he has become a devout Twitter believer since). Out of that experience was born a list of roughly 13 million Twitter users, like the famous Republican mailing lists of the past, this one on steroids.

At a January 2009 retreat, as defeated Republicans licked their wounds, Mr. Boehner told his colleagues that they needed to “think about the potential of new media,” according to a copy of his remarks. He urged members and their staff to immediately get themselves on YouTube and Twitter, as he did. Without control of the House floor, it became the Republicans’ main messaging tool as they mounted their successful push to capture control of the House. Now, it is their weapon of repetition.

Republican House members have more than twice as many followers as their Democratic counterparts — about 1.3 million versus roughly 600,000 — and are far more active on Twitter with more than 157,000 individual Twitter messages, versus roughly 62,000 for Democrats.

“Once Republicans get their act together, they are really good at organizing,” said Andrew Rasiej, the founder of Personal Democracy Media, which studies how technology is changing politics. Republicans in the House are using technology “in order to blunt the power of the White House in a new political media ecology that benefits from speed,” he said.

via The G.O.P.’s Very Rapid Response Team – NYTimes.com.

Spotify, media, journalism, social networking:  Is Spotify where journalism/media and social networking meet?  Like many products it may disappear before I figure it out!

Until Google irons out its music licensing issues with the big record labels, its Google Music service (which the Wall Street Journal says is rumored to launch within the next few weeks) probably won’t reach the popularity of the music industry’s latest big thing: Spotify. One thing Google does want to do is emulate Spotify’s social media features, which lets people share public playlists. So, what to do if your friends don’t have the best taste in music? Find someone who does!

Everyone from obsessive music geeks to celebs are sharing their playlists with the masses; Facebook kingpin Mark Zuckerberg really, really likes Green Day while Britney Spears has a thing for other pop legends such as Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. For those looking for something a little more advanced, we recommend adding these seven Spotify users to your people list.

via Snoop Dogg, Sean Parker and 5 More Spotify Users You Should Add Now – Techland – TIME.com.

 iTunesU,  autism:  The access to such high quality information for free is astounding …

The Yale Seminar on Autism and Related Disorders is the United States’ first undergraduate course of its kind. The goal of this series is to make all of the lecture content and supporting materials available online for free for anyone who desires to learn about Autsim Spectrum Disorders. For Yale undergraduates, the class consists of a weekly seminar on diagnosis and assessment, etiology and treatment of children, adolescents and adults with autism and related disorders of socialization. This collection contains the full video of the course.

via Yale Autism Seminar – Video – Download free content from Yale University on iTunes.

Unreasonable Institute,  social missions, entrepreneurship,  changing the world:  “Entrepreneurs who want to change world have to be a little crazy.”  Great NYT piece on the Unreasonable Institute!

DANIEL EPSTEIN wants to get one thing straight: He is an unreasonable man. Happily, proudly unreasonable. Entrepreneurs who want to change the world, he says, have got to be a little crazy.

Biosense Technologies developed the ToucHb, a device that tests women and children for anemia and is in clinical trials. From left are Sarita Patil, a nurse; Pallavi Janarav; and Biosense’s founders, Myshkin Ingawale and Yogesh Patil.

And so, to foster some practical zaniness, Mr. Epstein is a co-founder of something called the Unreasonable Institute, in Boulder, Colo. For the last two summers, he has helped preside over this academy for entrepreneurs who want to solve social problems and make some money, too.

Part schmooze-fest, part group hug, this six-week program connects entrepreneurs with one another, as well as with executives, investors and thinkers who might help them. Its name derives from a quotation by George Bernard Shaw: “All progress depends on the unreasonable man.” For good measure, Mr. Epstein recently had Unreasonable’s logo tattooed on his derrière.

Welcome to the age of the spreadsheet humanitarian. The central idea of the Unreasonable Institute is that profit-making businesses can sometimes succeed where their nonprofit counterparts might falter. Mr. Epstein, 25, and a serial entrepreneur, says the Unreasonable Institute wants people who are willing to think big, even when skeptics scoff.

The institute conducts its program at a fraternity house it rents at the University of Colorado. The six weeks are intense and communal. Fellows sleep three or so to a room. A chef prepares three in-house meals a day. The fellows dine at a table seating 60, alongside mentors who might include the chief technology officer of Hewlett-Packard or the former director of Google.org.

On any given day, the fellows might go on a hike or a bike ride with a potential investor, attend a workshop about building corporate partnerships, or take part in “family pitch night,” when two entrepreneurs present their companies to the rest of the group for feedback. At the end of the program, the fellows travel to San Francisco and pitch their ideas to a group of investors.

Mr. Epstein says market-based solutions are important in spurring economic growth throughout the developing world.

“This is really in contrast to the prevalent model of international aid,” says Cynthia Koening, 33, who attended the program this year. Her company, Wello, based in Rajasthan, India, is aimed at people — most of them women — who must walk long distances to bring drinking water to the home. Her cylinder-shaped product allows women to roll water home from the source rather than carry it on their heads, which can be dangerous and time-consuming.

The institute conducts its program at a fraternity house it rents at the University of Colorado. The six weeks are intense and communal. Fellows sleep three or so to a room. A chef prepares three in-house meals a day. The fellows dine at a table seating 60, alongside mentors who might include the chief technology officer of Hewlett-Packard or the former director of Google.org.

On any given day, the fellows might go on a hike or a bike ride with a potential investor, attend a workshop about building corporate partnerships, or take part in “family pitch night,” when two entrepreneurs present their companies to the rest of the group for feedback. At the end of the program, the fellows travel to San Francisco and pitch their ideas to a group of investors.

Mr. Epstein says market-based solutions are important in spurring economic growth throughout the developing world.

“This is really in contrast to the prevalent model of international aid,” says Cynthia Koening, 33, who attended the program this year. Her company, Wello, based in Rajasthan, India, is aimed at people — most of them women — who must walk long distances to bring drinking water to the home. Her cylinder-shaped product allows women to roll water home from the source rather than carry it on their heads, which can be dangerous and time-consuming.

FOR some participants, the institute is just one stop on a kind of social entrepreneurship circuit; they’ve been awarded numerous fellowships, won different business plan competitions and are regular faces at industry conferences. For others, the institute is their first encounter with this scene. This is especially true for many of the 60 percent of fellows who live outside the United States.

By coming to Boulder this year, Mr. Duarte of Mexico, founder of YoRecicolo, which operates recycling programs, was able to meet like-minded people who work on recycling and waste issues. He even received an invitation to speak at a Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York last month. His company has been profitable since last year.

via Unreasonable Institute Teaches New Paths to Social Missions – NYTimes.com.

punctuation, grammar, rhetoric, history, end of an era, graphics:  Just loved this article … I obviously am a fan of the ellipses but use it like a dash …

 How might punctuation now evolve? The dystopian view is that it will vanish. I find this conceivable, though not likely. But we can see harbingers of such change: editorial austerity with commas, the newsroom preference for the period over all other marks, and the taste for visual crispness.

Though it is not unusual to hear calls for new punctuation, the marks proposed tend to cannibalize existing ones. In this vein, you may have encountered the interrobang , which signals excited disbelief.

Such marks are symptoms of an increasing tendency to punctuate for rhetorical rather than grammatical effect. Instead of presenting syntactical and logical relationships, punctuation reproduces the patterns of speech.

One manifestation of this is the advance of the dash. It imitates the jagged urgency of conversation, in which we change direction sharply and with punch. Dashes became common only in the 18th century. Their appeal is visual, their shape dramatic. That’s what a modern, talky style of writing seems to demand.

By contrast, use of the semicolon is dwindling. Although colons were common as early as the 14th century, the semicolon was rare in English books before the 17th century. It has always been regarded as a useful hybrid—a separator that’s also a connector—but it’s a trinket beloved of people who want to show that they went to the right school.

More surprising is the eclipse of the hyphen. Traditionally, it has been used to link two halves of a compound noun and has suggested that a new coinage is on probation. But now the noun is split (fig leaf, hobby horse) or rendered without a hyphen (crybaby, bumblebee). It may be that the hyphen’s last outpost will be in emoticons, where it plays a leading role.

Graphic designers, who favor an uncluttered aesthetic, dislike hyphens. They are also partly responsible for the disappearance of the apostrophe. This little squiggle first appeared in an English text in 1559. Its use has never been completely stable, and today confusion leads to the overcompensation that we see in those handwritten signs. The alternative is not to use apostrophes at all—an act of pragmatism easily mistaken for ignorance.

Defenders of the apostrophe insist that it minimizes ambiguity, but there are few situations in which its omission can lead to real misunderstanding.

The apostrophe is mainly a device for the eye, not the ear. And while I plan to keep handling apostrophes in accordance with the principles I was shown as a child, I am confident that they will either disappear or be reduced to little baubles of orthographic bling.

via Is This the Future of Punctuation!? – WSJ.com.

Occupy Wall Street, capitalism, markets, thongs, V for Vendetta:  “… the Guy Fawkes mask—popularized by the 2006 Natalie Portman film “V for Vendetta”—as a symbol of the fight against corporations.”

The “Occupy” movement may purposefully be trying to resist being branded or labeled with specific messages and demands, but there are already plenty of creative types eager to come up with logos and slogans for the protests—and make some profits while they’re at it. The DIY design site Spreadshirt reports that nearly 200 OWS-related designs have been uploaded by independent craftspeople and are available for purchase on T-shirts, buttons, coffee mugs—and even on thongs and doggie clothing. Hundreds more items are for sale at similar sites such as Zazzle and CafePress. It must be noted that there’s no indication any of the proceeds go to help the protesters. For that matter, it’s highly unlikely that any of this merchandise would even be worn by diehard protesters. But we suppose it could be argued that wearing a 99% baseball hat or an OWS hoodie represents a different kind of support for the movement.

via ‘Occupy Wall Street’ For Sale | Moneyland | How People Are Profiting From Occupy Wall Street | TIME.com.

Hackers and protesters alike have adopted the Guy Fawkes mask—popularized by the 2006 Natalie Portman film “V for Vendetta”—as a symbol of the fight against corporations. Dozens of designs feature the sinister Fawkes mask, including this $19 T-shirt at Spreadshirt.

via ‘Occupy Wall Street’ For Sale | Moneyland | Rise Guy Fawkes T-Shirt | TIME.com.

Occupy Wall Street, journalism, mainstream new media, Jeff Elder:

A Sunday New York Times column helped to focus media coverage on the legitimacy of the movement. At the same time, a news event occurred that received less coverage.

How Seriously Should We Take Occupy Wall Street?

How seriously should we take the Occupy Wall Street movement? It has turned into a global debate, and the main focus of mainstream media coverage of the movement. Much of this dialogue about the legitimacy of the protests can be traced to one newspaper column.

via How One Column Shaped Mainstream News Coverage Of Occupy Wall Street · jeffelder · Storify

the 1%, Occupy Wall Street, American Dream, social mobility, education, philanthropy:  It’s nice someone is looking at the other side of this story … even for a second.

Americans used to believe in social mobility regardless of the hand you’re dealt. Ten years ago, polls showed that about two thirds believed “people are rewarded for intelligence and skill,” the highest percentage across 27 countries surveyed. Fewer than a fifth thought that “coming from a wealthy family is essential [or] very important to getting ahead.” Such views made Americans more tolerant than Europeans and Canadians of inequality and more suspicious of government attempts to reduce it.

Yet the hardships of the Great Recession may be changing that, giving an unexpected resonance to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Falling wages and rising unemployment are making us appreciate what we ignored during the good times. Social mobility is actually lower in the U.S. than in most other developed countries—and falling.

Academic studies show that if a child is born into the poorest quintile (20 percent) of the U.S. population, his chance of making it into the top decile (10 percent) is around 1 in 20, whereas a kid born into the top quintile has a better than 40 percent chance. On average, then, a father’s earnings are a pretty good predictor of his son’s earnings. This is less true in Europe or Canada. What’s more, American social mobility has declined markedly in the past 30 years.

The right answer is to promote the kind of diversity and competition that already make the American university system the world’s best. And one highly effective way of doing this is by setting up more charter schools—publicly funded but independently run and union-free. The performance of the Success Charter Network speaks for itself. In New York City’s public schools, 60 percent of third, fourth, and fifth graders passed their math exams last year. The figure at Harlem Success was 94 percent.

The American Dream is about social mobility, not enforced equality. It’s about competition, not public monopoly. It’s also about philanthropy, not confiscatory taxation.

I’ll cheer up even more when I hear those words at a Republican presidential debate. Or maybe next week we should just tell the candidates to shut up and play poker.

via Yes, Wall Street Helps the Poor – The Daily Beast.

Arab Spring, Libya, Gadhafi’s death, democracy, transition: “Clinton said a democratic Libya should begin with the rule of law and accountability, as well as unity and reconciliation. She called investigating Gadhafi’s death a part of that process.”

Obama said the U.S. looks forward to working with officials as they prepare for free and fair elections.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she supported calls for an investigation into Gadhafi’s death as part of Libya’s transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Gadhafi was captured wounded but alive in his hometown of Sirte. Bloody images of Gadhafi being taunted and beaten by his captors have raised questions about whether he was killed in crossfire, as suggested by government officials, or was executed.

Clinton told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview aired Sunday that she backs a proposal for the United Nations to investigate Gadhafi’s death and for Libya’s Transitional National Council to look into the circumstances.

Clinton said a democratic Libya should begin with the rule of law and accountability, as well as unity and reconciliation. She called investigating Gadhafi’s death a part of that process.

via News from The Associated Press.

20
Sep
11

9.19.2011 … ChristCare then relaxing to disappointing new season of tv

ChristCare, FPC, Believing the Impossible Before Breakfast:  FPC runs a ChristCare  small group ministry.  I belong to a multigenerational women’s group, and we are starting a book written by a former FPC minister in 1977.  We are reading Lee Stoffel’s Believing the Impossible Before Breakfast.  So far it is excellent and it challenges you to ask how much has changed in 30+ years.

How I Met Your Mother, new season, tv:  I hate to say this … but I think i like to watch the whole season in a short period.  I think I like the instant gratification!

autism, culture, community:  Great article about integrating autistic adults communities.

As planned, he arrived that morning with a portfolio of his comic strips and charcoal sketches, some of which were sold through a Chelsea gallery. Kate Stanton-Paule, the teacher who had set up the meeting, accompanied him. But his first words upon entering the office were, like most things involving Justin, not in the script.

“Hello, everybody,” he announced, loud enough to be heard behind the company president’s door. “This is going to be my new job, and you are going to be my new friends.”

As the employees exchanged nervous glances that morning in January 2010, Ms. Stanton-Paule, the coordinator of a new kind of “transition to adulthood” program for special education students at Montclair High School, wondered if they were all in over their heads.

Justin, who barely spoke until he was 10, falls roughly in the middle of the spectrum of social impairments that characterize autism, which affects nearly one in 100 American children. He talks to himself in public, has had occasional angry outbursts, avoids eye contact and rarely deviates from his favorite subject, animation.  His unabashed expression of emotion and quirky sense of humor endear him to teachers, therapists and relatives. Yet at 20, he had never made a true friend.

People with autism, whose unusual behaviors are believed to stem from variations in early brain development, typically disappear from public view after they leave school. As few as one in 10 hold even part-time jobs. Some live in state-supported group homes; even those who attend college often end up unemployed and isolated, living with parents.

But Justin is among the first generation of autistic youths who have benefited throughout childhood from more effective therapies and hard-won educational opportunities. And Ms. Stanton-Paule’s program here is based on the somewhat radical premise that with intensive coaching in the workplace and community — and some stretching by others to include them — students like Justin can achieve a level of lifelong independence that has eluded their predecessors.

“There’s a prevailing philosophy that certain people can never function in the community,” Ms. Stanton-Paule told skeptics. “I just don’t think that’s true.”

With some 200,000 autistic teenagers set to come of age in the United States over the next five years alone, little is known about their ability to participate fully in public life, or what it would take to accommodate them. Across the country, neighbors, employers, colleagues and strangers are warily interacting with young adults whose neurological condition many associate only with children.

via Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World – NYTimes.com.

Arab Spring, diplomacy, international relations: Long term relationships are up in the air.  I had not thought of the long-term consequences of this move toward democracy in the middle east.

While the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring created new opportunities for American diplomacy, the tumult has also presented the United States with challenges — and worst-case scenarios — that would have once been almost unimaginable.

What if the Palestinians’ quest for recognition of a state at the United Nations, despite American pleas otherwise, lands Israel in the International Criminal Court, fuels deeper resentment of the United States, or touches off a new convulsion of violence in the West Bank and Gaza?

Or if Egypt, emerging from decades of autocratic rule under President Hosni Mubarak, responds to anti-Israeli sentiments on the street and abrogates the Camp David peace treaty, a bulwark of Arab-Israeli stability for three decades?

“We’re facing an Arab awakening that nobody could have imagined and few predicted just a few years ago,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a recent interview with reporters and editors of The New York Times. “And it’s sweeping aside a lot of the old preconceptions.”

It may also sweep aside, or at least diminish, American influence in the region. The bold vow on Friday by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to seek full membership at the United Nations amounted to a public rebuff of weeks of feverish American diplomacy. His vow came on top of a rapid and worrisome deterioration of relations between Egypt and Israel and between Israel and Turkey, the three countries that have been the strongest American allies in the region.

Diplomacy has never been easy in the Middle East, but the recent events have so roiled the region that the United States fears being forced to take sides in diplomatic or, worse, military disputes among its friends. Hypothetical outcomes seem chillingly present. What would happen if Turkey, a NATO ally that the United States is bound by treaty to defend, sent warships to escort ships to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s blockade, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to do?

via Tumult of Arab Spring Prompts Worries in Washington – NYTimes.com.

adoption scandal, China, U.S. ramifications:  Chills … I know many families who have adopted from China, and this literally sent chills down my spine.

On Aug. 5, this newspaper published a front-page article from China that contained chilling news for many adoptive parents: government officials in Hunan Province, in southern China, had seized babies from their parents and sold them into what the article called “a lucrative black market in children.”

The news, the latest in a slow trickle of reports describing child abduction and trafficking in China, swept through the tight communities of families — many of them in the New York area — who have adopted children from China. For some, it raised a nightmarish question: What if my child had been taken forcibly from her parents?

And from that question, inevitably, tumble others: What can or should adoptive parents do? Try to find the birth parents? And if they could, what then?

Scott Mayer, who with his wife adopted a girl from southern China in 2007, said the article’s implications hit him head on. “I couldn’t really think straight,” Mr. Mayer said. His daughter, Keshi, is 5 years old — “I have to tell you, she’s brilliant,” he said proudly — and is a mainstay of his life as a husband and a father.

“What I felt,” he said, “was a wave of heat rush over me.”

Like many adoptive parents, Mr. Mayer can recount the emotionally exhausting process he and his wife went through to get their daughter, and can describe the warm home they have strived to provide. They had been assured that she, like thousands of other Chinese girls, was abandoned in secret by her birth parents, left in a public place with a note stating her date of birth.

But as he started to read about the Hunan cases, he said, doubts flooded in. How much did he — or any adoptive parent — really know about what happened on the other side of the world? Could Keshi have been taken by force, or bought by the orphanage in order to reap the thousands of dollars that American parents like him donate when they get their children?

In his home in Montclair, N.J., Mr. Mayer rushed upstairs to re-examine the adoption documents.

According to the news reports, the children were removed from their families when they were several months old, then taken to the orphanages. “The first thing I did was look in my files,” he said, speaking in deliberative, unsparing sentences. According to his paperwork, his daughter had been found on a specific date, as a newborn.

He paused to weigh the next thought.

“Now, could that have been faked?” he said. “Perhaps. I don’t know. But at least it didn’t say she was 3 months old when she was left at the orphanage.”

According to the State Department, 64,043 Chinese children were adopted in the United States between 1999 and 2010, far more than from any other country. Child abduction and trafficking have plagued other international adoption programs, notably in Vietnam and Romania, and some have shut down to stop the black market trade.

via China’s Adoption Scandal Sends Chills Through Families in U.S. – NYTimes.com.

fashion, copies: I always think it interesting how fast they copy … Who Wore it First? – Fall Fashion Trends 2011 – Fashion – InStyle

PostSecret, PostSecret App:  There was something really fun about checking PostSecret on Sunday … I think this will take away from that.  Although I do think more will post.

I started PostSecret six years ago in Washington, DC by passing out postcards to strangers and inviting them to illustrate a secret and mail it to me. Quickly, word of the project spread virally around the world. Today I have a pile of anonymous secrets taller than me – more than 600,000.

Now I’m excited about the new PostSecret App that allows users to discover secrets from their cities or schools, create and share anonymous secrets with their phone, and connect with like-minded people. In this special collection made for Huffington Post readers, I have included five provocative secrets mailed to me on postcards and five secrets shared with the new PostSecret App, and a trailer that explains how the app works.

via Frank Warren: EXCLUSIVE: New PostSecret Post Cards.

Former Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer – Medal Of Honor Recipient, White House, White House home brew, President Obama: I thought it pretty gutsy that Mr. Meyer asked for the face time.  And I want some White House Honey Blonde!

Talk about an all-American beer.

Barack Obama and the White House chefs have been brewing beer for quite some time, and on Wednesday, the president shared some of the White House Honey Ale with a Medal of Honor recipient.

Former Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer had requested to share a beer with the president before the ceremony, CBS reports.

The Honey Ale is the first beer brewed in the White House, but Obama is not the first president to take on the hobby, according to historians.

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were brewing aficionados, but Jefferson never made beer at the White House, and Washington, of course, never lived there, White House curator Bill Allman told NPR.

Early reports of the White House-brewed beer began circulating after Obama offered it to guests guests during the Super Bowl this year, CBS reports. The beer was also consumed on St. Patty’s Day.

Obama Foodorama, a blog focusing on the administration’s food and nutrition initiatives, reports that the Honey Ale isn’t the only beer that’s been brewed by the chefs. A White House Honey Blonde and a White House Honey Porter have also been created.

The Obamas paid for all of the brewing equipment out of pocket, according to CBS.

The casual meeting between Obama and Meyer didn’t end without controversy, though.

White House staffers Tweeted a photo of the two men talking over drinks Wednesday, which elicited both sincere praise and snarky remarks about the president, the Washington Post points out.

Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor on Thursday for his service in Afghanistan.

via White House Brews Its Own Beer; Obama Shares A Drink With Dakota Meyer, Medal Of Honor Recipient.

writing, tipsUncreative Writing – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

House Speaker John Boehner, politics, democrats v republicans, jobs creation/deficit reduction:  Irony here …

House Speaker John Boehner just gave a speech outlining the GOP’s ideas for jobs creation and its prescriptions for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. I thought I’d highlight two sentences from it. There was this:

If we want to create a better environment for job creation, politicians of all stripes can leave the “my way or the highway” philosophy behind.

And there was also this:

Tax increases, however, are not a viable option for the Joint Committee.

The juxtaposition of those two sentences perfectly encapsulate the last two and a half years of United States political history. And who knows — it may end up encapsulating what’s left of Obama’s term, too.

via Two sentences from John Boehner’s speech – The Plum Line – The Washington Post.

travel, guidebooks, NYC, LOL: Sounds like fun … I wonder how long it takes.

The Italian art house publishing group Log607 is testing conventional wisdom that guidebooks should be fact-based with a series of fictional-narrative guides that force tourists to go on treasure hunts. These “WhaiWhai” guides have been popular in Italy for a few years now, but had not been released for any city outside the boot until this week when New York: The Pegleg hit bookstores.

The book concerns the legend of a magical pegleg that once belonged to Peter Stuyvesant, and asks readers — who might better be described as participants — to go to different Manhattan landmarks in search for “secrets.” Each page of each guidebook is cut into thirds and participants are given codes that tell them how to put a page together whenever they correctly solve a puzzle by identifying a detail about New York (a la the number of women depicted on a Broadway Theater’s facade).

In an effort to determine whether treasure hunt-style guidebooks might become a fad, HuffPost Travel editors Paul Brady and Andrew Burmon took to the streets and tried to uncover the secrets of the pegleg. The experiment went swimmingly, providing our stand-in travelers with an excellent excuse to get out of the office and wander around downtown Manhattan. They made some interesting discoveries along the way, but also found this creative guidebook model a bit of an uneasy compromise.

The book is clearly intended to create opportunities for serendipity and exploration while also being very opinionated about where travelers should go next.

via New York: The Pegleg: A Guidebook That’s Actually A Treasure Hunt (VIDEO).

Tim Gruber, high school sports, high school cross-country, kudos:  Kudos, Tim Gruber!

Tim Gruber won the 13th annual Cannon Invitational Cross Country Invitational boys’ race on Saturday, Sept. 17, on his home 5K course at Cannon. Lake Norman Charter School won the team title with 73 points, edging North Raleigh Christian with 77.

via Gruber wins Cannon Invite, other local runners shine | Sports.

French macarons, cookbooks:  I want to master French macarons! Macarons – Anthropologie.com.

reform education, great schools revolution:

Why now? One answer is the sheer amount of data available on performance, not just within countries but between them. In 2000 the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) at the OECD, a rich-country club, began tracking academic attainment by the age of 15 in 32 countries. Many were shocked by where they came in the rankings. (PISA’s latest figures appear in table 1.) Other outfits, too, have been measuring how good or bad schools are. McKinsey, a consultancy, has monitored which education systems have improved most in recent years.

Technology has also made a difference. After a number of false starts, many people now believe that the internet can make a real difference to educating children. Hence the success of institutions like America’s Kahn Academy (see article). Experimentation is also infectious; the more governments try things, the more others examine, and copy, the results.

Above all, though, there has been a change in the quality of the debate. In particular, what might be called “the three great excuses” for bad schools have receded in importance. Teachers’ unions have long maintained that failures in Western education could be blamed on skimpy government spending, social class and cultures that did not value education. All these make a difference, but they do not determine outcomes by themselves.

The idea that good schooling is about spending money is the one that has been beaten back hardest. Many of the 20 leading economic performers in the OECD doubled or tripled their education spending in real terms between 1970 and 1994, yet outcomes in many countries stagnated—or went backwards. Educational performance varies widely even among countries that spend similar amounts per pupil. Such spending is highest in the United States—yet America lags behind other developed countries on overall outcomes in secondary education. Andreas Schleicher, head of analysis at PISA, thinks that only about 10% of the variation in pupil performance has anything to do with money.

Many still insist, though, that social class makes a difference. Martin Johnson, an education trade unionist, points to Britain’s “inequality between classes, which is among the largest in the wealthiest nations” as the main reason why its pupils underperform. A review of reforms over the past decade by researchers at Oxford University supports him. “Despite rising attainment levels,” it concludes, “there has been little narrowing of longstanding and sizeable attainment gaps. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds remain at higher risks of poor outcomes.” American studies confirm the point; Dan Goldhaber of the University of Washington claims that “non-school factors”, such as family income, account for as much as 60% of a child’s performance in school.

via Reforming education: The great schools revolution | The Economist.

Ted Williams, heroes, baseball:   “the greatest achievement in 20th-century hitting” and “a lesson to all who value the best in human possibility.”

In an essay within the 1994 book “Ted Williams: A Portrait in Words and Pictures,” the Harvard paleontologist and popular science writer Stephen Jay Gould called Williams’s 1941 season “the greatest achievement in 20th-century hitting” and “a lesson to all who value the best in human possibility.”

via Ted Williams’s .406 Average Is More Than a Number – NYTimes.com.

John Maynard Keynes, economics, graphics:  Very interesting article … love the graphic!  Winston Churchill of economics!

FOR someone who’s been dead for 65 years, John Maynard Keynes has amazing presence. Open a paper, click on a blog or TV, and, voilà, like Waldo, he’s everywhere. The British economic oracle — whose boyhood nickname Snout should tell you that a pretty face isn’t why he’s hot — gets more Google hits than Leonardo DiCaprio. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas apparently got so fed up with the old scene stealer that he interrupted a recent Republican debate to flash his rivals the news that Keynes was, well, deceased.

For some, Keynes is the hero who rescued the West from the Great Depression, for others the villain to blame for the current mess. To me, he’s neither, but rather the Winston Churchill of economics, radiating optimism when things looked bleakest, never so happily engaged as in a national or global emergency.

The new, cheerful social science that Marshall pioneered and Keynes and others innovated was a genuine revolution in human thinking that changed the lives of everyone on the globe. What would Keynes say if he were, say, to appear on CNBC tomorrow? That we’ve overcome a dozen challenges as bad or worse, that the tenfold rise in standards since Jane Austen’s lifetime shows that we’ve done more things right than wrong, and that the “apparatus of the mind” — which demands that we let facts change our minds, engage our critics and see common ground — is infinitely more helpful in a crisis than ideology or raw emotion.

And what would Keynes do now? Go shopping, I suspect. This was the “incorrigible optimist,” his biographer Robert Skidelsky relates, who made a big bet on the United States recovery in 1936 and hung on when it collapsed again in 1937. It may have looked like midnight but Keynes knew that morning would come again.

via John Maynard Keynes – His sunny optimism shaped economists’ approach to depression. – NYTimes.com.

Republican governors, politics, republican v. democrat:  Governors are a different breed from Members of Congress and their politics can vary much more … think Romney and Perry.

But the four Republicans’ uncompromising and unapologetic stance marks them out, says Carolyn Fiddler of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, an outfit dedicated to getting more Democrats elected to state legislatures. She notes that they have all attempted to cut taxes even as they slash spending. Mr Kasich’s budget compounded an $8 billion two-year shortfall by eliminating Ohio’s inheritance tax and pressing ahead with a promised income-tax cut that had been delayed for two years. Mr Walker piled $200m in tax cuts onto a $3.2 billion gap in Wisconsin. Mr Scott, who already needed to find cuts of $3.7 billion to make ends meet, proposed $2 billion in tax cuts, but was rebuffed by the legislature.

All this has made the four heroes in Republican circles. Mr Christie is constantly swatting away pleas that he run for president. Mr Walker is spoken of as vice-presidential material. Their pugnaciousness has energised donors and activists. But it has not endeared them to the general electorate. Polls over the summer put Mr Christie’s approval rating at 47%, Mr Walker’s at 45%, Mr Kasich’s at 36% and Mr Scott’s at 35%—especially dismal numbers for the three who have been in office for less than a year.

It is a standard tactic to get unpleasant tasks out of the way at the beginning of a four-year term, in the hope that anger will have faded by election time. It worked for Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor of Indiana, another swing state. But Messrs Kasich and Walker, in particular, seem to have stirred unusually fierce opposition.

via Republican governors: The right’s brave swingers | The Economist.

2012 Primaries, media primary coverage:  Interesting article – should national media cover all the candidates … is there a journalistic obligation?

JONATHAN BERNSTEIN makes an excellent point:

The other thing that’s important to remember is that there is no actual good reason for either parties or the press to be fair to candidates. They should be fair to voters, either individually or as they exist in organized groups and constituencies. But candidates? Nope.

There’s no reason at all why Herman Cain or Rick Santorum “deserves” to be covered. Ron Paul is different: he has no chance to win the Republican nomination, but he has a fervent following of supporters nationwide and is a national political figure in his own right amongst the small but ideologically influential libertarian constituency. But for the rest of this year’s vanity candidates, I’d actually go further than Mr Bernstein does: the press is doing the public a disservice by covering them. The mainstream media’s job ought to be filtering out the irrelevant noise for busy voters so that they can process the information they need to have in order to vote. To the extent major press organs fail to filter out irrelevant noise, they’re not doing their jobs.

via Primary coverage: The media should be fair to voters, not candidates | The Economist.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.),  2012 Election:  Everything may be worse under Obama, but the republicans are doing everything to lose the election in my opinion.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Sunday that “everything is worse” under President Barack Obama.

“This is our election to lose,” Graham told Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked for his assessment of the GOP candidates and the 2012 race.

“President Obama has done everything he knows how to do to beat himself. The reason people have little confidence in President Obama’s policies, they’re just not working. Everything is worse: 2 million people unemployed after he took office. Gas prices are 100 percent higher. Home values are down. Debt is up by 35 percent”

“There seems to be no relief on the horizon,” Graham said. “He keeps proposing the same old things.”

Graham’s remarks ran counter to the perspective offered earlier in the program by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who was optimistic about Obama’s reelection prospects.

“As I listen to the Republican presidential nominee candidates come forward and spot their ideas and bow and genuflect to the Tea Party and their agenda, I remember the Tea Party is not very popular in America,” Durbin told Crowley.

“I don’t think people like that style of politics.”

via Lindsey Graham: 2012 Election Is GOP’s To Lose, ‘Everything Is Worse’ Under Obama.

Is Marriage for White People?, books, culture:  Interesting question.

The unmarried black woman is a figure of cultural fascination these days. Cable news specials, popular books by Steve Harvey and T. D. Jakes, the films of Tyler Perry, and newspaper articles about single black women and their children born out of wedlock send waves of dismay through the American public. The explanations offered for this phenomenon tend to be of two sorts: prurient accounts of black male promiscuity and irresponsibility, or caricatures of aggressive and unreasonable black women. It is rare for the popular media to include careful social or historical analyses. Rather, they are often purveyors of a moral panic presented without root or reason.

Upon reading the title “Is Marriage for White People?” I assumed the book, by the Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks, would follow in this trend. But I was wrong. Banks doesn’t offer a jeremiad about the decline of black family values in the way of so many others who do little more than regurgitate Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” which described black family structure as “a tangle of pathology.” Refreshingly, Banks offers a well-researched and probing discussion of why marriage rates are so low among black Americans.

In clean and efficient prose, Banks presents a lucid picture of romantic life in black America. Moreover, he disposes of the mythology that the failure to marry is primarily an underclass phenomenon, turning his attention especially to the lives of middle-class black women. He has set out to answer the question: Why are black women “half as likely as white women to be married, and more than three times as likely as white women never to marry”?

via Is Marriage for White People? — By Ralph Richard Banks — Book Review – NYTimes.com.

message bottle, random:  I always wanted to put a message in a bottle … nice story.

The clear glass bottle was found Thursday by Navy Petty Officer Jon Moore during a beach cleanup at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai island.

The bottle contained four origami cranes — symbols of peace in Japan — as well as a photo of Arikawa’s elementary school class and a note dated March 25, 2006, and signed by Arikawa saying she wanted it to be “a graduation memory.”

News of the bottle’s recovery reconnected more than a dozen of her old classmates, now studying at different high schools, and their elementary school homeroom teacher for a reunion Saturday. Arikawa says she now wants to further expand the circle of friendship.

via Japanese girl thanks US sailor in Hawaii for finding message bottle, calls it a ‘miracle’ – The Washington Post.

GOP, “Right to Death Party”, 2012 Presidential Debates:  I too was shocked by the crowd’s response … another example of the GOP going down the wrong rabbit hole.

I’ve watched the two Republican Party debates, and something weird is going on in the audience.

When moderator Brian Williams said to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, “Your state has executed 234 Death Row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times,” the audience APPLAUDED.

Applause at the number of people executed in Texas?

When Ron Paul was asked by Wolf Blitzer about health insurance, and how an uninsured man who had a medical emergency should be treated, the Texas Congressman said:

“That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks.”

The audience cheered.

Paul continued: “This whole idea that you have to prepare to take care of everybody …”

“Are you saying that society should just let him die?” Blitzer asked.

There were cheers from the audience of “Yeah!”

How about these guys – applauding even before Ron Paul answered the question!

Now, I haven’t been to church in years, but I seem to remember the question of “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

And something about “Thou shall not kill.”

So how is it that NOT ONE single candidate – some of whom claim their spirituality has been a guiding force in their politics – how could they not challenge the applause, and maybe suggest that their invited audience take a step back from the bloodlust?

I totally take it for granted that one of the founding principles of the United States is freedom to express an opinion. But having said that, regardless of party affiliation, I can’t imagine APPLAUDING at the idea of death – either mandated by lethal injection, or from lack of medical insurance.

via GOP: The “Right to Death Party”? – CBS News.

CU- Boulder, kith/kin: disappointing … CU falls in national rankings but still holds high position | CU Independent.

Bob Turner (R-NY), Anthony Weiner, LOL: I just laughed … But Mrs. Weiner has a point.

Newly-elected Republican Bob Turner officially took over Anthony Weiner’s House seat on Thursday. But he won’t literally be taking over his chair.

That’s because Turner’s wife Peggy apparently wants Weiner’s office chair, the one the embattled former Congressman tweeted lewd pictures from, removed from the office.

Turner took over Weiner’s old office, suite 2104, in the Rayburn House Office Building last week. Upon moving in, they found some choice leftovers from the office’s prior inhabitants. “Weiner left his toothbrush behind! It literally says ‘Anthony’ on it,” an insider tells the New York Post.

This prompted Peggy Turner to ask for a thorough sanitization of the entire space. The insider notes Mrs. Turner was discussing replacing the office chair and carpeting, in addition to having the place professionally cleaned.

But the 70-year-old new congressman, a retired television executive from Queens, was decidedly mum about the decision. “That’s not the most important thing I have to deal with,” he said. Turner, a first-time politician, is just learning the ropes of Congress. He’s taking over Weiner’s seat just hours after winning Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 9th District.

via Turner Takes Over: Anthony Weiner’s Old Office Gets a Scrubdown – TIME NewsFeed.

America’s Favorite Cities, photography, LIFE:  I agree … Chicago has the most beautiful skyline!

America’s Favorite Cities With Travel + Leisure

From sea to shining sea, the United States of America has the best, brightest, and most exciting cities in the world. But with its bounty of metropolitan riches, it’s sometimes hard to decide between destinations when you’re up for a domestic trip. Thank the travel-ready gods, then, for Travel + Leisure magazine’s annual round-up of Americans’ favorite U.S. cities in various categories. T+L editor-in-chief Nancy Novogrod recently sat down with LIFE to give readers an early scoop on this year’s winners, including the always-entertaining T+L look at America’s most and least attractive people.

via America’s Favorite Cities – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

01
Jul
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‎7.1.2011 … We have a birthday girl in the house … Tomorrow she will be on her way to a home in the French Alps … Ooh la la …

tabloid news, Amanda Knox, autism:  Interesting theory … Could Amanda Knox Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder? – TIME Healthland.

journalism, really dumb, Mark Halperin: Come on, Mark.

Sitting on the set of “Morning Joe,” Mr. Halperin smiled mischievously as he disparaged Mr. Obama’s behavior at a news conference a day earlier. “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday,” Mr. Halperin said.

He apologized on the show a few minutes later and said he deeply regretted making the comment. Immediately after the show concluded at 9 a.m., a meeting was convened about the incident, and by 10:30 a.m., the channel said Mr. Halperin had been suspended “indefinitely” from his political analyst position.

via Mark Halperin Suspended by MSNBC Over Obama Slur – NYTimes.com.

google:  Another google innovation … I hope this one is more successful than Google Wave … which I liked … The Google+ Project.

music, Jim MorrisonJim Morrison: LIFE With the Doors – Photo Gallery – LIFE. … YouTube – The Doors – Light My Fire ‏.

Eloise, YA/children’s literature, The Plaza, NYC:  Tricycle Garage!

The Plaza Hotel in New York City will revive its Tricycle Garage, which will be good news for “Eloise” fans — especially those lucky enough to stay at the renovated landmark hotel. Beginning on July 1, the Plaza will offer children’s bike rentals – including Radio Flyer tricycles, bicycles and scooters – for hotel guests and a few lucky New Yorkers.

The original Tricycle Garage opened in 1956, paying homage to Kay Thompson’s 1954 book, “Eloise.” Today, guests can reserve bikes intended for families to explore Central Park. The rentals range in price from $20 for two hours to an all-day rate of $40. For non-hotel guests, rentals are available on a first-come first-serve basis.

The Tricycle Garage, at the Plaza Boutique, is open all summer. The rentals also include a helmet, lock and, Eloise-branded bottled water.

via The Plaza Hotel Reopens Its Tricycle Garage – NYTimes.com.




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