Posts Tagged ‘natural disasters/acts of God

06
Sep
11

9.6.2011 ‎… In my day, today was the first day of school … at least when I was little … I think … Just finished Paris Was Ours … would recommend it … next on the stack, The Eyre Affair …

Labor Day, first day of school, history:  I just reprinted her whole history of when, why  and how the Labor Day/School Start changed.

The day after Labor Day is traditionally known as the first day of school. But according to a survey by Market Data Retrieval, 75 percent of American students headed back to class before this week—and that’s been the trend for the last decade. So why do we still associate Labor Day with back-to-school, and should we return to a post-holiday start?

The first public school in the United States, the 376-year-old Boston Latin School, opened on April 23, 1635. But thanks to agrarian society, a spring start to the school year didn’t catch on. Families needed kids to work the fields, which meant that sometimes the first day didn’t happen until October. Although urban areas didn’t have crops to pick, fear of diseases like cholera and scarlet fever made people afraid of staying in sweltering summer classrooms.

During the 20th century, state governments began to standardize the number of days students should be in school, as well as when schools should start. Since most campuses didn’t have air conditioning, opening in August simply wasn’t practical. During the 1940s and ’50s, starting school just after Labor Day, when temperatures were coming down, became common.

By the 1980s, the first day of school began moving into late August as states mandated longer school years. Teachers and parents had also been complaining that a September start meant final exams fell in January, so students had to study over Christmas break. With an earlier start, finals are finished by the time vacation begins.

The advent of No Child Left Behind in 2001 caused the start of school to creep up even further, toward the first week of August. But starting earlier doesn’t give students more time to learn before spring state standardized tests: Districts are not allowed to administer tests before or after a certain number of instruction days have passed.

Now, there’s a growing movement to move school back to a post-Labor Day start, in large part because of economic concerns. Air conditioning schools during the hot summer months isn’t cheap, so cash-strapped districts looking to save money are moving toward starting in September. Public schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma moved their start date from August 19 to the day after Labor Day, “and saved approximately $500,000 through reduced utility costs.”

Tourism boards also advocate for a post-Labor Day start, because starting school on August 8 (as was the case in Memphis, Tennessee this year), means families have less time to take vacations. Hotels, resorts, county fairs, and even the local roller rink take a financial hit from August start dates. Thanks to tourism boosters, states like Virginia, Michigan, and Minnesota have enacted laws saying that school can’t begin until after Labor Day. Michigan’s tourism economy has seen a 25 percent boost since the law was passed in 2009.

Earlier start dates also mean high school sports teams begin practicing in hot August weather. Six football players and one assistant coach have already died this summer from heat-related incidents.

So will more states follow suit and move the first day of school back after Labor Day? Not necessarily. Younger generations have grown up starting school in August, so they’re used to it. Advocates are also up against year-round schooling proponents. Given that most parents work full time and struggle to find and pay for child care during the summer, a year-round school schedule may sound pretty appealing.

via Why the Day After Labor Day No Longer Means the First Day of School – Education – GOOD.

Paris Was Ours, bookshelf:  On the recommendation of my mother in law, I read Paris Was Ours.  I should have read it before the trip … but actually it pulled together many observations so it was a useful and enjoyable post-Paris visit read.

Paris Was Ours is a collection of memoirs about the French capital. It answers the question that I, as the book’s editor, asked myself when I first dreamed up the idea: Why of all the places I’ve lived, did Paris affect me the most? For, although I’ve lived in half a dozen cities, this one left the deepest mark.

My book is about the transformative effect of living in Paris — “the world capital of memory and desire,” as the writer Marcelle Clements calls it so indelibly in these pages.

In this volume, thirty-two writers parse their Paris moments.

via About the Book – Paris Was Ours: 32 Writers Reflect on the City of Light.

The Eyre Affair, bookshelf, kith/kin:  intrigued by the opening chapter, I am enjoying The Eyre Affair which comes highly recommended by Joni.  From the author …

Full of surprises and drama that excites no-one but me. It all began back in those Halcyon days of 1988 with two names and a notion scribbled with a pencil on the back of an envelope: Thursday Next and Bowden Cable and someone kidnaps Jane Eyre. Like many ideas of mine it grew and festered in my mind a little like the gunge that you find on refrigerator seals, waiting for the time when It would ripen sufficiently for me to give it life on paper. The first draft was a deadly serious screenplay written on an old typewriter. This ultimately became a short story on a 486 Toshiba running DOS and then lengthened into a serious attempt at a book. By 1993 I had 40,000 words, some of them in the right order – here the book stalled and I wrote another three before returning in 1997, finally arriving at a first draft by new year’s day 1998, this time on an Apple Macintosh PB 190. The story spanned writing technology.

via Beginnings – The Eyre Affair & Thursday Next.

popups, popup theatre, internet, social welfare:  A popup theater that streams from a phone and can be used anywhere … to “deliver entertainment and information into any place, even a neighborhood that may be overlooked or discounted.”

In an effort to demonstrate the expanding opportunities of network coverage, installation artist Aaron James created a pop-up theater designed to play videos directly from users’ smartphones when connected.

The original location of the space existed at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan but has since been moved to a garage space in downtown Detroit.

The 500 square foot cinema space is built of galvanized steel fence pipes and according to James, “is based on the assumption that the Internet can potentially deliver entertainment and information into any place, even a neighborhood that may be overlooked or discounted.”

via Aaron James’ smartphone powered pop-up cinemas « Out ‘N Front.

college, purpose, rethink, kith/kin:  Great article and makes you really think about the purpose.  Also shout out for Joni and Bob’s daughter’s choice St. John’s.  Other than  that he bashes everyone!

1.  Most colleges are organized to give an average education to average students.

Pick up any college brochure or catalog. Delete the brand names and the map. Can you tell which school it is? While there are outliers (like St. Johns, Deep Springs or Full Sail) most schools aren’t really outliers. They are mass marketers.

Stop for a second and consider the impact of that choice. By emphasizing mass and sameness and rankings, colleges have changed their mission.

This works great in an industrial economy where we can’t churn out standardized students fast enough and where the demand is huge because the premium earned by a college grad dwarfs the cost. But…

Back before the digital revolution, access to information was an issue. The size of the library mattered. One reason to go to college was to get access. Today, that access is worth a lot less. The valuable things people take away from college are interactions with great minds (usually professors who actually teach and actually care) and non-class activities that shape them as people. The question I’d ask: is the money that mass-marketing colleges are spending on marketing themselves and scaling themselves well spent? Are they organizing for changing lives or for ranking high? Does NYU have to get so much bigger? Why?

The solutions are obvious… there are tons of ways to get a cheap, liberal education, one that exposes you to the world, permits you to have significant interactions with people who matter and to learn to make a difference (start here). Most of these ways, though, aren’t heavily marketed nor do they involve going to a tradition-steeped two-hundred-year old institution with a wrestling team. Things like gap years, research internships and entrepreneurial or social ventures after high school are opening doors for students who are eager to discover the new.

The only people who haven’t gotten the memo are anxious helicopter parents, mass marketing colleges and traditional employers. And all three are waking up and facing new circumstances.

via Seth’s Blog: The coming melt-down in higher education (as seen by a marketer).

Eleanor Roosevelt, quotes, history, kith/kin:  Molly visited Geneva this summer and learned much about Eleanor Roosevelt and Universal Declaration of Human Rights which she also studied and wrote on last year.  I love this quote …

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Although she had already won international respect and admiration in her role as First Lady to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt’s work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would become her greatest legacy. She was without doubt, the most influential member of the UN’s Commission on Human Rights.

via Eleanor Roosevelt Biography.

9/11, WSJ 9/12/2011:  I just remember for the next few days being stunned … reading everything I could to figure how why … and how.

Wall Street Journal (@WSJ)
9/5/11 2:19 PM
Here’s a complete copy of The Wall Street Journal on September 12, 2001:http://t.co/vWL5rwL

“You Made A Difference” campaign, teachers, kudos:  As I said the other day, there are many I need to thank.

In recognition of Labor Day, we’d like to draw your attention to a new campaign that focuses on the work that teachers do, and the ubiquity of their influence.

The “You Made A Difference” campaign is an effort to let teachers know how they have made a difference in former students’ lives by allowing those former students to thank their teachers by writing a note or uploading a public video to Facebook or YouTube. The campaign was launched by HuffPost Education blogger Scott Janssen, who in June wrote a post arguing that Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake’s Bad Teacher movie wrongly blames the plight and failure of American schools on poor performing teachers.

The post received impassioned responses, and the “You Made A Difference” campaign was born, set in motion, Janssen says, by HuffPost readers. Videos so far have come from entertainment show “Extra” host Jerry Penacoli, comic strip “Speed Bump” creator Dave Coverly and Grammy Award winning producer Narada Michael Walden, just to name a few.

Here are just a selection of videos from the initiative. You can see more on YouTube or submit your own through Facebook.

via ‘You Made A Difference’ Campaign Thanks Teachers.

twitter, HuffPost:  So how many twitter feeds do they follow … and only 7.

Short and Tweet, our weekly series, brings you the newsiest, most buzzworthy tweets of the past seven days. What’s in store this week? Beyonce set off a tweeting frenzy, Wikileaks dumped a massive cache of unredacted cables, Rep. Joe Walsh criticized President Obama and more.

About Short And Tweet: Some tweets make news, and some of those tweets break news. HuffPost Tech’s weekly feature of the top newsmaking tweets of the week showcases both.

via Short And Tweet: The Top 7 Tweets Of The Week.

Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market, food, health, diet, social justice: “To Casey—who plans to add five more buses to his fleet, fanning them out to schools, health clinics, and senior homes—food is a matter of social justice.

But Casey, 45, a grant administrator and father of two young boys, had an idea. With a few other local activists, he raised $40,000 from investors and used it to gut an old municipal bus (purchased from the city for $1). He christened his new wheels Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market. “My goal is to be like the ice cream man, but with fruits and vegetables,” Casey says. “We want people to get as excited about grapes in January as they are about Popsicles in July.”

So far, it’s working. On a recent Monday morning, a crowd of about 70 stood on a street corner in the pounding rain, waiting for their produce to pull up. With its cheerful red siding, the Fresh Moves bus was visible from blocks away. Once inside, customers stocked up on organic tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, collard greens, and more—all priced affordably thanks to a partnership with an organic distributor.

To Casey—who plans to add five more buses to his fleet, fanning them out to schools, health clinics, and senior homes—food is a matter of social justice. “Recently, I watched a 14-year-old boy eat his first apple ever,” he says. “Too often we’re looking for the holy grail, but sometimes it’s the little things, like giving a kid something affordable and healthy to eat.”

via Farmer’s Market on a Bus – Fresh Moves Bus – Oprah.com.

Coca-Cola, sustainability, recycling, design: Only an idea …

coke bottles

It’s pretty ballsy to redesign one of the planet’s most iconic shapes and completely blow it out of the water. Last we checked, Coke’s bottles were some of the most recognizable objects on earth, and so powerful when it came to branding that in 2008, Coke transformed the capsule-like two-liter bottle into the same sexy curves. But dare we say design studentAndrew Kim has created a concept that’s equally powerful, all in the name of sustainability.

via What’s the Square Root of Sustainability? This Coke Bottle | Fast Company – StumbleUpon.

marketing via social networks, Vail:  Bold …

One of the hardest things to do for any company that wants to innovate is to willingly cannibalize a profitable line of business. And yet that’s exactly what Vail Resorts will do this winter when it starts providing photos to its guests for free.

The vacation photo industry is big business. Whether you’re at a marathon, an amusement park, or a resort like Vail, there are always company photographers around to take your picture–crossing the finish line, for example, or going down a water ride–which the company will then sell you for wildly inflated prices. A photo at Vail, for example, costs $35.

And now Vail is saying goodbye to all that. Or at least to a portion of it.

Earlier this year, we told you about EpicMix, Vail’s new system that lets skiers at its six resorts track their ski days and collect online badges for various feats, like skiing certain trails or accumulating a certain amount of vertical feet. Now Vail is adding something new to customers’ EpicMix accounts: digital copies of the photos taken by its hillside photographers.

The photographers will have devices to scan guests’ RFID-enabled lift tickets. Guests can ask then pose for pictures, or request action shots, and the photos will automatically be uploaded to the skiers’ EpicMix accounts (which are also linked to the RFID chips in the lift tickets). Skiers can then either keep the photos there, or post them to Facebook or Twitter.

“Photo sharing has gone crazy,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz tells Fast Company. “To the extent that we can make it easy for our guests to share photos–that is the holy grail of social media.”

Katz says the move is a risk. The company’s photo business brings in a tidy profit. Not as much as lift tickets or food, of course. But more than a rounding error. Meanwhile, data proving the ROI of having customers post about their experiences on places like Facebook remains elusive.

Granted, Vail will only be posting low-resolution versions of the photos to EpicMix. Customers will still have to buy the high-resolution versions if they want nice-looking prints.

But Katz says it’s intuitive that the new program should return results.

“The holy grail of social media is to get your most loyal and most passionate consumers to start becoming advocates for your product,” he says. “The question is: How do you authentically get your consumers to go out and broadcast for your brand?”

Last season, the approximately 100,000 Vail guests who activated their EpicMix accounts posted about 275,000 updates–like the badges they’d earned–to Facebook and Twitter.

“We think the photos will take that and multiply it geometrically,” Katz says.

via Vail Cannibalizes Its Own Photo Business In The Name Of Sharing | Fast Company.

vacation, leaders:  haven’t read Ms. Kanter’s article … but this summary was pretty good and very valid … makes me rethink my exhausting vacations I drag my husband on. 🙂

Rosabeth Moss Kanter has an excellent post up on the HBR Blog titled Should Leaders Go on Vacation? Recently, I’ve seen plenty of commentary in the popular press (especially Fox News articles) about the inappropriateness of leaders taking vacation. Kanter does a nice job of dissecting the dynamics around leaders going on vacation and suggests the leader address five questions in the context of the vacation.

What is the vacation narrative?

What is the vacation timing?

What is the rest of the team doing?

Are there continuity, backup, and contingency plans?

What is the vacation symbolism?

I’m a huge believer in the importance of vacations for leaders, entrepreneurs, and everyone else. I work extremely hard–usually 70+ hours a week. This is simply not sustainable, at least for me at age 45, over a period of time longer than about three months. I eventually burn out, get tired and cranky, become less effective, and get sick. Vacations are a way for me to recharge, build my energy back, explore some different things, spend extended and uninterrupted time with the most important person in my life (Amy), and just chill out. This vacation usually takes the form of a Qx Vacation that is off the grid which is now well known to everyone who works with me.

Amy and I ordinarily spend the month of July at our house in Homer, Alaska. While this isn’t “a vacation”, it’s a change of context that has become a very important part of our routine. I work while I’m there, am completely connected and available, but have a very different life tempo. And–most importantly–zero travel.

This summer we spent July in Paris. We both love Paris and went there to just “live.” We rented an apartment in the 8th, ran in the local park, shopped at the Monoprix down the block, ate lunch at all of the nearby restaurants, and had some amazing meals out. But mostly we just hung out, worked remotely, and spent time together.

I’ve had a fantasy about renting a house in the Tuscan countryside and spending a month in Tuscany for many years. We decided to do it this summer and we turned our month in Alaska into two months in Europe. However, rather than travel around and be tourists, we just lived. We had plenty of friends visit, but we spent the days exercising (I ran a lot), reading, writing, and working.

I plan to write at least one post about what I learned in my “summer in Europe” after I return to the U.S. next week. It has been an amazing experience, especially since I was completely connected to my regular work, yet was able to observe a lot of activity from a distance and reflect on what I really thought was going on.

In the mean time, if you are a leader, entrepreneur, or anyone else, I hope you read Kanter’s post and think hard about both the value of time away and the expectation-setting around it. Life is short–make sure you live it.

via Reinventing Vacations For A Mobile Era | Fast Company.

Great Recession, changes: I took nearly 50 years to forget the Depression … and I am the result.  I wonder if our children are getting the same lessons that their grand parents and great grandparents learned in the 20’s and 30’s.

Americans are saving more, paying down mortgages, reducing credit card debt, moving to cheaper housing, working at unpalatable jobs and postponing retirement.

“This underscores the increasing numbers of people who believe they have to take bigger, more long-term action,” said Michelle Peluso, global consumer chief marketing and Internet officer for Citibank parent company Citigroup.

More people say the economy has changed forever how they think about and handle money. A survey done by Peter D. Hart Research Associates for Citibank shows more people believe the economic realities of life have changed foreve — 57 percent in the survey released on Aug. 31, up steadily from 51 percent nearly a year ago.

Three and a half years after the Great Recession began and in the middle of a tumultuous summer as Congress haggled over the nation’s debt crisis and the economy continued to crawl, consumer confidence plunged in August to its lowest level since April 2009. And while personal spending was up, the data show much of the increase went to pay for higher-priced gas and food.

The price of gasoline is up 35 percent — about a dollar a gallon — from a year ago.

“When you are paying $25 more a week in cash for gasoline, that’s coming right out of your income,” said Britt Beemer, president of America’s Research Group, a Charleston, S.C., analysis firm that tracks consumer spending.

via Consumers permanently committing to thriftiness, saving – Chicago Sun-Times.

US Postal Service, changes, end of an era:  My post office has let go  7 of 17 carriers.  My mail now arrives at after 6 pm.

Already, the threats from the USPS have mounted up: Closing one in 10 USPS locations—that equals about 3,700 jobs for those keeping score at home. Canceling Saturday delivery and slashing one-fifth of its workforce—again, the numbers are staggering at 120,000 workers. But the biggest threat came from the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, who tells the Times, “Our situation is extremely serious. If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.”

Closing down shop? That’s the reality facing the agency. The USPS already owes over $9 billion and with revenues continually shrinking due to high internet usage for everything from correspondence, catalogs and bill payments and costs still pushing higher, there’s no light at the end of the postal service tunnel. The agency has handled 22% fewer pieces of mail the past year versus five years ago, and experts predict that figure only to worsen.

Cue the politicians. With labor unions at the heart of the issue—USPS contracts include a no-layoffs clause for a staff that enjoys a screaming-great healthcare benefit package and accounts for 80% of all USPS expenses, far outpacing the ratio for the UPS (53%) and FedEx (just 32%)—Congress will continue the debate on what to do with the government-monitored agency on Tuesday.

via Canceled Mail: Could the U.S. Postal Service Really Close? – TIME NewsFeed.

Apple, bungles:  I can’t believe they did it again!

San Francisco police officers helped Apple Inc. investigators look for a missing iPhone prototype that was left in a city restaurant in July, the police chief said, the second time in two years the company has lost an unreleased smartphone.

Police Chief Greg Suhr told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/oOfTi1 ) that four plainclothes officers accompanied two Apple investigators who searched a San Francisco home for the iPhone prototype.

Apple employees who contacted the department asking for help finding a lost item conducted the house search after asking the resident’s permission, and the officers did not enter the home, according to police.

Apple tracked the smartphone to the home using GPS technology, but the gadget wasn’t found there, said Lt. Troy Dangerfield.

Apple officials have declined to comment on the case.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is reportedly planning to release a new version of its popular iPhone this fall.

The SF Weekly newspaper reported that Sergio Calderon, who lives in the home, said he believed all six people were police officers and would not have let the two investigators inside if he knew they worked for Apple.

via San Francisco police help search for lost iPhone  | ajc.com.

Netflix:  I, too, begrudge them!

We can’t begrudge anyone who feels Netflix is no longer the great deal it used to be, but the loss of Starz and the circumstances surrounding the split, serve as a stark reminder of the tough realities that prompted Netflix to raise its prices in the first place.

Under the current, soon-to-expire agreement with Starz, Netflix paid $30 million per year for the right to stream the movie channel’s content. Negotiations to renew that contract reportedly broke down even after Netflix offered a $300 million-a-year deal. Starz reportedly insisted that Netflix introduce a tiered subscription service so subscribers who wanted to see Starz movies and TV shows (including Sony and Disney films) would have to pay more than $8 a month. Evidently Netflix refused to hike subscription prices more than it already had.

Netflix has seen tremendous growth since its launch, attracting more than 25 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. But the breakdown of the Starz deal is a reminder that success comes at a cost, in the form of increased competition and soaring licensing fees demanded by studios.

via Netflix Shows It’s on Your Side – TheStreet.

college, statistics:  Another area where we have bungled our  global advantage …

4. Only 0.4 percent of undergraduates attend one of the Ivy League schools. This confirms my long-held belief that way too much attention is paid to these eight institutions.

[Read about the Ivy League earnings myth.]

5. Twenty three percent of full-time undergrads, who are 24 or younger, work 20 hours or more a week.

6. Asian students (12 percent) are the least likely to work 20 or more hours a week.

7. About 9 percent of students attend flagship universities and other state institutions that conduct intensive research.

8. Seventy three percent of students attend all types of public colleges and universities.

9. Just 16 percent of students attend private nonprofit colleges and universities.

via 20 Surprising Higher Education Facts – The College Solution (usnews.com).

college, technology:  I never saw a clicker until I dropped my oldest off at Boulder. 🙂

As soon as the handheld gadgets called “clickers” hit the University of Colorado at Boulder, Douglas Duncan saw cheating.

The astronomy instructor and director of the Fiske Planetarium was observing a colleague’s physics class in 2002, when the university introduced the electronic devices that students use to respond to in-class questions. He glanced at the first row and saw a student with four clickers spread out before him. It turned out that only one was his—the rest belonged to his sleeping roommates.

The student was planning to help his absentee classmates by “clicking in” for the sleepers to mark them present. The physics professor had to tell the student that what he was doing was cheating.

Clickers—and the cheating problems that accompany them—have become a lot more common since that day, many instructors say. Today, more than 1,000 colleges in the United States use the devices, which look like TV remotes.

At Boulder alone, about 20,000 clickers are in use among the university’s 30,000 students. In addition to using them to take attendance, professors pose multiple-choice questions during class, students click answers, and software instantly projects the responses as charts at the front of the room. Particularly in large classes, that lets instructors assess student comprehension in a matter of seconds.

But the system can be abused. Students purchase remotes and register the devices in their names. Those who choose not to attend large classes can simply ask friends to bring along their clickers and get whatever credit the instructor assigns for showing up.

And he, like Mr. Bruff, believes that the devices have real advantages. The interactivity of clickers outweighs the hassle of monitoring students and keeping of fresh batteries on hand, Mr. Hamilton says.

By specifically outlining for students how clicker cheating violates academic honor codes, Mr. Bruff says, universities can clarify the situation for students and bolster professors’ positions. “The instructor can point to the honor code—the university has decided that this counts as cheating, so it’s not just me being a tough guy. It’s that this is commonly accepted as inappropriate,” he says.

That kind of clarity works, says Mr. Duncan. At Boulder, the student-enforced honor code takes a strong stance against all forms of cheating. It’s one reason that, since the first physics class he watched, he has used clickers for nearly a decade and has caught students cheating only twice.

“You need to make very, very clear with the students,” he says, “what is considered legitimate.”

via Cheating Is Now Only a Click Away, So Professors Reduce Incentive – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

9/11, natural disasters/acts of God:  I agree the impact can be far worse and more widespread … but intentional acts of terrorists have a very different psychological impact on our nation than natural disasters.  Does it change how we feel when we refer to natural disasters as “acts of God”?

Paul Stockton, the Pentagon’s point man for security in the homeland, plans for the kind of apocalyptic events that could forever change the lives of millions of Americans. Assistant Secretary of Defense Stockton, a lifelong academic who speaks passionate jargon, calls them “complex catastrophes” with “cascading effects,” and, like Sept. 11, 2001, these new tragedies could have gut–wrenching social and political consequences. Yet the horrors he’s preparing for are far bigger than 9/11: tens of thousands of people killed, the economy devastated, national security gravely compromised. And the terrorist who will be responsible for these atrocities is Mother Nature. Stockton’s yardstick for cataclysms is not “worse than 9/11,” it is “disasters even more severe than Hurricane Katrina.”

via Time to Brace for the Next 9/11 – The Daily Beast.

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), US House of Representatives , politics:  Just read the whole thing …

The reason is that Cooper is the House’s conscience, a lonely voice for civility in this ugly era. He remembers when compromise was not a dirty word and politicians put country ahead of party. And he’s not afraid to talk about it. “We’ve gone from Brigadoon to Lord of the Flies,” he likes to say.

I first heard him lament the state of Congress during one of those “get Elizabeth Warren” hearings held earlier this year. When it was Cooper’s turn to question her, he turned instead to the Republicans. “This Congress is viewed as dysfunctional,” he said, “and this alleged hearing is one of the reasons why. It too easily degenerates into a partisan food fight.” He pleaded with the junior members to change their mean-spirited ways before they became ingrained.

With Congress back in session this week — and the mean-spirited wrangling about to begin anew — I thought it would be useful to ask Cooper how Congress became so dysfunctional. His answer surprised me. He said almost nothing about the Tea Party. Instead, he focused on the internal dynamics of Congress itself.

To Cooper, the true villain is not the Tea Party; it’s Newt Gingrich. In the 1980s, when Tip O’Neill was speaker of the House, “Congress was functional,” Cooper told me. “Committees worked. Tip saw his role as speaker of the whole House, not just the Democrats.”

via The Last Moderate – NYTimes.com.

home economics, science, education, health, kith/kin, St. Anne’s Diocesan College (Hilton SA):  Molly took home ec in SA. She said it was fun and more like science.  As a matter of fact she learned some of the same information that she learned in her AP bio class and learned to cook a few things.

Today we remember only the stereotypes about home economics, while forgetting the movement’s crucial lessons on healthy eating and cooking.

Too many Americans simply don’t know how to cook. Our diets, consisting of highly processed foods made cheaply outside the home thanks to subsidized corn and soy, have contributed to an enormous health crisis. More than half of all adults and more than a third of all children are overweight or obese. Chronic diseases associated with weight gain, like heart disease and diabetes, are hobbling more and more Americans.

In the last decade, many cities and states have tried — and generally failed — to tax junk food or to ban the use of food stamps to buy soda. Clearly, many people are leery of any governmental steps to promote healthy eating; Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity has inspired right-wing panic about a secret food police.

But what if the government put the tools of obesity prevention in the hands of children themselves, by teaching them how to cook?

My first brush with home economics, as a seventh grader in a North Carolina public school two decades ago, was grim. The most sophisticated cooking we did was opening a can of pre-made biscuit dough, sticking our thumbs in the center of each raw biscuit to make a hole, and then handing them over to the teacher, who dipped them in hot grease to make doughnuts.

Cooking classes for public school students need not be so utterly stripped of content, or so cynical about students’ abilities to cook and enjoy high-quality food.

A year later, my father’s job took our family to Wales, where I attended, for a few months, a large school in a mid-size industrial city. There, students brought ingredients from home and learned to follow recipes, some simple and some not-so-simple, eventually making vegetable soups and meat and potato pies from scratch. It was the first time I had ever really cooked anything. I remember that it was fun, and with an instructor standing by, it wasn’t hard. Those were deeply empowering lessons, ones that stuck with me when I first started cooking for myself in earnest after college.

In the midst of contracting school budgets and test-oriented curricula, the idea of reviving home economics as part of a broad offensive against obesity might sound outlandish. But teaching cooking — real cooking — in public schools could help address a host of problems facing Americans today. The history of home economics shows it’s possible.

via Revive Home Economics Classes to Fight Obesity – NYTimes.com.

28
Apr
11

4.28.2011 … Prayers for those in the path of the Southern Storms of near-epic proportions … Charlotte was bypassed, again.

Epic Southern Storms 4/27, natural disasters/acts of God, weather, prayers:  Why do we call natural disasters “acts of God?”  Prayers for the people impacted and for a quick clean up and recovery.

Daylight illuminated a scene of utter devastation across many areas of the South Thursday, following storms of near-epic proportions that killed as many as 247 people in six states.

The vast majority of fatalities occurred in Alabama, where 162 people perished, said Yasamie August, Alabama Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman.

The storms are being compared to the “super outbreak” of tornadoes April 3 and 4, 1974, Fugate, the FEMA administrator, said Thursday. In that period, 148 tornadoes were reported in 13 states, and 330 people died. States affected were Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

via Southern storms: ‘I don’t know how anyone survived’ – CNN.com.

France, travel, recommendations:  Thanks everyone for your suggestions.  I am keeping a list … keep the recs coming.  From today …

Harper Lee, bookshelf, biography, Southern literature:  Harper Lee was at Alabama at the same time as my mother … she was shy … everyone was “shocked” when her book came out and won the Pulitzer Prize.  It sounds like she was shocked, too!  It will be interesting to see why she has never published another novel.  I clipped about Ms. Lee yesterday, her 85th birthday, and a year ago.  She is a very interesting literary “character.”

After winning the Pulitzer Prize for her 1960 debut novel, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, Harper Lee talked excitedly of her plans to carry on writing and become “the Jane Austen of south Alabama”. Yet she was never published again for reasons unknown.

Her reaction to the book’s success was “one of sheer numbness”, she said in her 1964 interview. “It was like being hit over the head and knocked cold,” she admitted.

“You see, I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird … I hoped for a little but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.”

Yet she also spoke of wanting to write a series of novels chronicling small-town life. Friends say she continues to work on her ageing typewriter, raising the possibility that there are books waiting to be published – perhaps after her death.

The biography will also throw light on Lee’s friendship with Capote, her childhood next door neighbour. The pair worked together on Capote’s 1966 ‘true crime’ book ‘In Cold Blood’, but fell out for reasons unexplained. It has been claimed that Lee was hurt by Capote’s failure to give her full credit for her research.

via Harper Lee to disclose why she stopped writing after ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ – Telegraph.

Royal Wedding, fashion, game-changers:  “But many believe that Ms. Middleton’s dress, like the bouffant gown Princess Diana wore in 1981, will be a game changer, inspiring replicas or adaptations at every level of the marketplace, some within weeks or even days of its debut.”  — So many of my friends who married after Princess Diana now laugh about their puffy sleeved wedding gowns!  I personally was saved from the fashion disaster in retrospect … but my dear bridesmaids were not … they had the big puffy sleeves!

WHEN Kate Middleton strides down the aisle at Westminster Abbey on Friday, millions of Americans watching at home will be transfixed by her gown.

Mr. O’Neill, the creative director of Theia, a bridal house in Manhattan, expects that Ms. Middleton’s dress (or a much more affordable version of it) will be coveted by brides-to-be on this side of the Atlantic. So sure is he, in fact, that he has already designed, and plans to sell, a gown he thinks will emulate her choice. Slender and long-sleeved, its decorously scooped neckline encrusted with crystals and silver bullion thread, it will boast a five-foot train.

“We’re calling it the Kate,” Mr. O’Neill said. “It’s very precious, very regal and suited to a princess, if only in my head.”

Not every bridal designer is so farsighted — or so brashly confident. But many believe that Ms. Middleton’s dress, like the bouffant gown Princess Diana wore in 1981, will be a game changer, inspiring replicas or adaptations at every level of the marketplace, some within weeks or even days of its debut.

via Designers Wait to Copy Kate Middleton’s Dress – NYTimes.com.

Royal Wedding, Royal Family, monarchy, culture, media:  Will you watch …

Still, it got me thinking. The children singing are now in their late thirties and perhaps most of them now have children of an age to be in primary school. I wonder if any of them are singing wedding songs. I slightly doubt it. The Times reports that David Cameron’s invitation to Her Majesty’s subjects to arrange community street parties has met with a disappointing response, and it’s hard not to feel that pride in the monarchy, as an unquestioning habit of mind, is on the wane. In 1981, it was different: plenty of people were still alive who had been born in the reign of Queen Victoria; shillings and florins, left over from before decimalization, still circulated as legal tender. To read through British newspapers from the week before the 1981 Royal Wedding is to enter a more deferent era.

Compared to an event like the funeral of the Queen Mother—where all the pageantry is retrospective and everyone gets to wallow in a century’s worth of nostalgia—a wedding is risky. Weddings are all about the future and monarchies, let’s face it, are all about the past.

It’s estimated that nearly a third of the planet will be watching the wedding on Friday. This strikes me as a bit awful. I don’t know whether the viewers will be drawn by an old-fashioned atavistic fixation with tradition or from a new-fashioned fixation with celebrity and sensation, but either way it can’t be healthy. I shan’t be watching, or singing.

via News Desk: Don’t Let’s Watch the Royal Wedding : The New Yorker.

Royal Wedding, random, LOL, Facebook:  OK  …. I am Lady Matibel Bo of Brighton …  Listen out for my name … 🙂

In honor of the big wedding tomorrow, use your royal wedding guest name. Start with either Lord or Lady. Your first name is one of your grandparents’ names. Your surname is the name of your first pet, double-barreled with the name of the street you grew up on. Let’s do this! Post yours here. Then cut and paste it into your status.

Regards,

Lady Matibel Bo of Brighton

iPhone, marketing:  I am sure there is money in the why …

SAN FRANCISCO — You may not know it, but if you carry a smart phone in your pocket, you are probably doing unpaid work for Apple or Google — and helping them

As those two companies battle for dominance in mobile computing, they have increasingly been using their customers’ phones as sensors to collect data about nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hot spots.

Google and Apple use this data to improve the accuracy of everything on the phone that uses location. That includes maps and navigation services, but also advertising aimed at people in a particular spot — a potentially huge business that is just getting off the ground. In fact, the information has become so valuable that the companies have been willing to push the envelope on privacy to collect it.

via Location Data From Phones Is Valuable for Ads – NYTimes.com.

technology, RIP, typewriters, corrections:  Well Fox says not so fast …

Nostalgic newspaper reports around the globe lamented the death of the typewriter recently, as Indian manufacturer Godrej and Boyce announced its intentions to pull the plug on its Mumbai factory.

After decades of use and trillions of typed characters, the typewriter appeared to have written its own swan song.

Not so fast.

Despite the surge in popularity of PCs, and their smaller digital cousins the iPads, the typewriter is far from dead, said Ed Michael, general manager of sales at Moonachie, N.J.-based Swintec. So forget Godrej: Swintec seems to be the last typewriter maker in operation.

“Typewriters are alive and well,” Michael told FoxNews.com. Most big offices need a typewriter or two or three to do some special jobs — special forms, multipart forms. Some places need to have typewriters to do original forms such as birth certificates, death certificates, things like that.”

“These are things that need to be done,” Michael said. Swintec makes its own typewriters, though the company doesn’t manufacture in the United States.

“They’re made off-shore, in Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia,” Michael tod FoxNews.com. “But they all ultimately end up here in New Jersey.” And just like Godrej, which specialized in sales to government agencies, there’s an industry keeping Swintec’s production lines rolling: prisons.

via Don’t Believe the Type! World’s Last Typewriter Maker Alive and Well in NJ – FoxNews.com.




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