Posts Tagged ‘The Westminster Schools

16
Sep
11

9.16.2011 … tgif …

fracking:  Just sounds bad doesn’t it?

The state could soon be entering a new era in energy if state legislators override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill that would open the state to hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.”

Fracking releases natural gas trapped in rock deep beneath the ground by pumping a highly pressurized water mixture up to thousands of feet beneath the soil to break up the rock and allows natural gas to escape to the surface.

Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Mecklenburg, sponsored the bill, the Energy Jobs Act, that would open up the state to fracking.

“It is going to create high paying jobs in parts of the state that desperately need it,” Tucker said.

But the bill was vetoed by Perdue in June. The Senate has already overridden the veto, but the House has not.

Tucker said it might take another election cycle before the House can find the votes to overcome the veto.

“I just don’t understand why anyone would want to depend on the Middle East for energy,” he said.

The Senate recently commissioned the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct a study to examine the potential effects of fracking in the state. The study is expected to be completed in April 2012.

The technology for fracking is not new. The state is following in the footsteps of others that are already open to fracking, said Rick Bolich, a hydrogeologist with the department.

However, North Carolina is geologically different than other states, he said.

“We can see what’s been done in other parts of the country,” Bolich said. “Certainly there have been mistakes made, and we can try and keep those mistakes from happening here.”

But those mistakes are a big concern for local environmentalists, who said the costs of fracking far outweigh its possible benefits.

The amount of water used in fracking is a cause for alarm, said Katie Hicks, assistant director of Clean Water for North Carolina.

“At drought time, it can be devastating, since the process uses such huge amounts of water,” she said. “Anything that we can do to conserve the water for people is really going to be more and more essential.”

via The Daily Tar Heel :: North Carolina legislature considers hydraulic fracturing.

Westminster’s 1:1 Laptop Program, The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, education,  technology: In some ways this sounds absolutely phenomenal, but in other ways I wonder what if there isn’t something lost in learning … lost in translation.

The 561 students in the Junior High School have enthusiastically embraced their new MacBooks! The introduction of this technology has enhanced our students’ sense of responsibility – even as it puts the world at their fingertips.

With the embedded calculator, a planning calendar program that features helpful alerts and reminders and countless digital tools, the introduction of this technology has enhanced our students’ sense of responsibility – even as it puts the world at their fingertips. Each student tucks his or her computer in a special tote to carry home at night, where they can review a lesson via podcast, create a movie on an assigned report topic or chill a moment or two while they strum along to Garage Band.

In the Elementary School, 4th and 5th graders have adapted quickly to the NetBooks now provided for many of their lessons. The faculty is also introducing iPads across the curriculum in the younger grades. By the 2012-13 school year, the implementation of Westminster’s 1:1 Laptop Program across all grades will be complete.

via The Westminster Schools: News » Detail.

post-it wars, le guerre des post-it, website, favorites:  This is still the #1 search term used to find my blog!  🙂 My favorite for the day … Happy Friday.

Post-it® War.

Google Doodles,  Albert Szent-Györgyi:  Guess who Albert  Szent-Györgyi is?

Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt,

Google Doodle Honors Albert Szent-Györgyi, Father of Vitamin C

via Google Doodle Honors Albert Szent-Györgyi, Father of Vitamin C | News & Opinion | PCMag.com.

Sarah Bode, high school cross country, high school sports, kith/kin, Louisville KY, Davidson friends, kudos:  Kudos to Sarah (and Tim and Rufus).  Great job at XC!

Sarah Bode has won the past three regional cross country and past two regional 3,200-meter titles.

Sarah Bode is ranked No. 4 statewide among Class A cross country runners. She has been a standout in Region Three the past four seasons. She finished second in the regional as an eighth-grader, then won the 5,000-meter race the next three years, running the McNeely Lake course in 20 minutes, 27.02 seconds in 2010. At the 2010 State, she placed fifth after a 10th the year before. She placed fourth in the Class A 3,200 meters at the state track meet in 2009 and 2010 after placing eighth as a freshman in 2008. She has won the regional 3,200 race the past two years.

via Q & A | Collegiate’s Sarah Bode – The Courier-Journal & HighSchoolSports.net.

Steve Jobs, Apple, Stevie Wonder, kudos:  ditto

And I want you all to give a hand to someone that you know whose health is very bad at this time. … His company took the challenge in making his technology accessible to everyone. In the spirit of caring and moving the world forward: Steve Jobs. Because there’s nothing on the iPhone or the iPad that you can do that I can’t do.

— Stevie Wonder, at a recent performance, thanks Steve Jobs for Apple’s work in making technology accessible to people with disabilities.

via QOTD: Stevie Wonder’s Shout-Out to Steve Jobs – Voices – News – AllThingsD.

03
Sep
11

9.3.2011 … New (to me) restaurant Dish tonight … then we’ll see what the Redbox has in stock …oh, oh …. And then we saw …. a stretch … Truck!

Dish, restaurants, comfort food, Charlotte: Dish was good comfort food.  I enjoyed tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich!

“Dish is a disarmingly unpretentious kind of joint you immediately warm to as though it were your mama’s or grandma’s kitchen. The menu is one you can afford with food you grew up on. Best of all, if you are lucky enough to live in this neighborhood, Dish is a place you can walk to, and walk into knowing you will see people you know.”

– Creative Loafing

via Welcome to Dish.

random, LOL, Charlotte: we saw a stretch truck! Only in Charlotte.  Unfortunately, it was gone before I could get a pic.

The Beaver movies, review, controversy:  Anyone seen the Beaver?  My take –  definitely not uplifting … funny, but in a dark way … I of course researched a couple of questions as I watched.  Interestingly, I researched more than I usually do.  Maybe because of the troubling themes or the dark and slightly bizarre nature of the film.

1: Is it Michael Caine’s voice for the beaver?

Can you talk about the importance of the beaver’s voice? Gibson’s voice [as the beaver] could almost be swapped out by Michael Caine.

He’s not quite as slow as Caine, but we wanted him to have a very deliberate and distinct voice, because he’s Walter’s coping mechanism, but at some point the coping mechanism he’s using begins killing him.

via SXSW: Interview with Jodie Foster for The Beaver | Lost In Reviews.

2) Why did Jodie Foster use Mel Gibson?

And that stance applies to her latest movie, The Beaver, a dramedy directed by Foster and starring Mel Gibson as an emotionally comatose man wielding a hand puppet. In the film, which expands to more theaters this weekend after an underwhelming box-office performance in limited release, Gibson plays a father and toy company owner who comes to life with the help of an obnoxious furry appendage who orders Gibson’s near-catatonic Walter to get over himself . Active both behind and in front of the camera, Foster plays his patient yet ultimately frustrated wife.

The odd little movie was already topically a tough sell — and that was before Gibson’s misbehaving overshadowed anything a Hollywood screenwriter could cook up. Foster was aware, before the movie opened, that it was “not for everyone. I don’t really make movies that have to be for everyone. I was really moved by a movie that talked about so many incredibly deep things, and things that touched me about family and sadness and loneliness. It’s the movie I really wanted to make,” she says, adding ruefully that “it’s been a weird path.”

No kidding. Foster is, of course, referring to her star’s notorious image implosion as Gibson made headlines for vitriolic, threatening voice-mails left to his former girlfriend and the mother of infant daughter Lucia. That, coupled with the anti-Semitic comments he made after his 2006 arrest for drunken driving, has made him Hollywood’s actor non grata and seemingly left audiences unable to separate the man from the respected actor. Gibson has retreated from the public eye, leaving Foster to speak on his behalf and promote their film.

“He has a weird mouth. As we know, he says anything that comes out of his head,” she says.

Not that Foster has appointed herself Gibson’s apologist or one-woman PR machine. “I’m not defending him. I can’t defend what he does. He has to defend what he does,” Foster says. “He’s an excellent actor. He’s a great friend. He’s someone I love. When you love somebody, you don’t just run away from them when they’re struggling. I will always be there.”

via Jodie Foster talks for ‘The Beaver,’ Mel Gibson – USATODAY.com.

3) Any relationship to Leave it to Beaver?

The other Beav, as insomniac devotees of nostalgia TV may recall, was the youngest son of the Cleavers, a television brood who smiled through “Leave It to Beaver” in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Like other postwar shows it enshrined a traditional nuclear family, with a full-time homemaker mom and dad with an outside job. The family in “The Beaver” is more off kilter: mom, Meredith (Ms. Foster), designs roller coasters out of her home office, and dad is, well, bonkers. But Meredith still performs her motherly role, pretty much as June Cleaver did a half-century ago. Only now, in the Age of Dysfunction, she smiles through the tears, even when her husband brings his creepy handy helper into their conjugal bed.

Is the puppet a totem of the Cleavers and constructed fantasies of family? Probably not, though imagining that’s the case makes “The Beaver” more interesting to watch. As written by Kyle Killen, the film adheres to a gnawingly familiar arc in which an unhappy family suffers, learns from its pain (the script is a veritable lesson plan) and comes together because, well, they’re family. That’s a nice idea. Even so, it’s hard not to believe that everyone, the children and audience included, might have been happier if Meredith had institutionalized Walter. He’d still get to keep his therapy puppet, and Mr. Gibson would still be able to deliver a gesturally and vocally persuasive performance as the man with two heads, one meat and one cloth.

via ‘The Beaver’ With Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster – Review – NYTimes.com.

4) Reviews: My take –  worthy of a redbox rental … definitely not uplifting … funny, but in a dark way.  Other Reviews?  Most definitely panned.

The Beaver might have been interesting if it was boldly, defiantly, autobiographical – with Gibson holding a toy Adolf Hitler puppet. Or if it was about a stressed beaver with a Gibson puppet.

Instead we have a standard-issue indie-quirk picture which draws laborious parallels between the mixed-up middle youth grownups and their teenage offspring: Gibson’s adolescent son, who worries about turning out like his appalling dad, makes money writing other people’s class papers in their style – ventriloquising them, in fact – and he too is alienated from his emotions.

Kyle Killen’s script is pretty similar in feel to Alan Ball’s screenplay for American Beauty and its themes of midlife crisis and absurdity have a little of movies such as Being There and Network. And of course the creepy hand-puppet gaining, as it were, the upper hand, must inevitably remind the audience of Michael Redgrave in Cavalcanti’s Dead of Night.

In each case, the situation’s power surely consists in the leading character having some compelling vulnerability, or some genuine hurt or need, which endows the resulting dysfunction with dramatic meaning and force. And Gibson’s character, tellingly, hasn’t really done anything bad, apart from generally suffer from grouchy middle-aged depression. The person who really should be depressed is his wife (played by Foster herself) who has the quirky job of roller-coaster designer, but is landed with a blandly written role.

The Beaver might not have been bad if it was acted with some subtlety and realism and something approaching a sense of humour. Well, Gibson will have to get his teeth into something else.

via Cannes 2011 review: The Beaver | Film | The Guardian.

Maybe Ms. Foster thought she was doing Mr. Gibson a favor by showing that he could play a troubled man who simply needs help. The problem is that, as an actor, Mr. Gibson doesn’t do normal anymore and is at his best playing men on the verge, as in “Edge of Darkness,” a thriller about a cop hunting his daughter’s murderer. It was a suitably blunt character for an actor who has become a blunt instrument and has a lock on loony tuners and angry patriarchs. That should make Walter a fine fit for Mr. Gibson, except that there’s no there there to the character, just a puppet with a bad attitude and good timing. A raggedy rage-aholic, it steals the show, handily. Take away his puppet, and the man disappears.

via ‘The Beaver’ With Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster – Review – NYTimes.com.

Steve Jobs, philanthropy, journalism, followup:  After the NYT published a rather scathing report of Steve Job’s lack of philanthropy, I found Bono’s response enlightening … and wonder why the NYT report missed this.

As a founder of (Product)RED, I’d like to point out that Apple’s contribution to our fight against AIDS in Africa has been invaluable. Through the sale of (RED) products, Apple has been (RED)’s largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — giving tens of millions of dollars that have transformed the lives of more than two million Africans through H.I.V. testing, treatment and counseling. This is serious and significant. And Apple’s involvement has encouraged other companies to step up.

Steve Jobs said when we first approached him about (RED), “There is nothing better than the chance to save lives.”

I’m proud to know him; he’s a poetic fellow, an artist and a businessman. Just because he’s been extremely busy, that doesn’t mean that he and his wife, Laurene, have not been thinking about these things. You don’t have to be a friend of his to know what a private person he is or that he doesn’t do things by halves.

BONO

Dublin, Sept. 1, 2011

via Bono Praises Steve Jobs as Generous and ‘Poetic’ – NYTimes.com.

9/11:  Some very powerful videos here.  9/11 aftermath: Eerie subway tour – The Washington Post.

Great Recession, Keynesian economics, End of an Era:  Some great articles about how we got to this place and where we go next?  I don’t necessarily agree, but I think they are worth reading.

It is self-evident that conventional economics has failed, completely, utterly and totally. The two competing cargo cults of tax cuts/trickle-down and borrow-and-spend stimulus coupled with monetary manipulation have failed to restore advanced Capitalism’s vigor, not just in America, but everywhere.

Conventional econometrics is clueless about the root causes of advanced finance-based Capitalism’s ills. To really understand what’s going on beneath the surface, we must return to “discredited” non-quant models of economics: for example, Marx’s critique of monopoly/cartel, finance-dominated advanced Capitalism. (“Capitalism” is capitalized here to distinguish it from “primitive capitalism.”)

All those fancy equation-based econometrics that supposedly model human behavior have failed because they are fundamentally and purposefully superficial: they are incapable of understanding deeper dynamics that don’t fit the ruling political-economy conventions.

Marx predicted a crisis of advanced Capitalism based on the rising imbalance of capital and labor in finance-dominated Capitalism. The basic Marxist context is history, not morality, and so the Marxist critique is light on blaming the rich for Capitalism’s core ills and heavy on the inevitability of larger historic forces.

In other words, what’s wrong with advanced Capitalism cannot be fixed by taxing the super-wealthy at the same rate we self-employed pay (40% basic Federal rate), though that would certainly be a fair and just step in the right direction. Advanced Capitalism’s ills run much deeper than superficial “class warfare” models in which the “solution” is to redistribute wealth from the top down the pyramid.

This redistributive “socialist” flavor of advanced Capitalism has bought time–the crisis of the 1930s was staved off for 70 years–but now redistribution as a saving strategy has reached its limits.

via charles hugh smith-Marx, Labor’s Dwindling Share of the Economy and the Crisis of Advanced Capitalism.

The Keynesian pump-priming of Mr. Bush and the pump-flooding of Mr. Obama have been unmitigated disasters. The inescapable reality is that the government cannot create wealth and every dollar it spends must be taken from the private sector, which can. As Ayn Rand wrote, “You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”Martha’s Vineyard is a great place to avoid reality, but our president is well-rested now and ready to try his luck once more with a big-government stimulus program. This from the man who famously said, “We’ve got a big hole that we’re digging ourselves out of.” Please, just stop digging. Instead, give Americans themselves a chance to stimulate our economy.Entrepreneurs will create the jobs and reignite the economy if the government will create a predictable business climate and then just get out of the way. Start by eliminating every chokehold the government has on the economy. Make the Bush tax cuts permanent (until fair flat-tax reform can be enacted). Repeal Dodd-Frank. Suspend Sarbanes-Oxley until it can be reformed. Repeal Obamacare. Institute an immediate moratorium on new government regulations and take a machete (not a scalpel) to the current Federal Register. And finally, stow the destructive and divisive class-warfare language that is unbecoming of an American president.

In short, allow Americans to be Americans once more.

via WOLF: Prosperity starts with Americans, not Uncle Sam – Washington Times.

What’s worse – at least in Obamaworld – is that I, like most physicians, have two jobs: I’m also responsible for a business that creates jobs and employs some great Americans. This despite our government’s burdensome taxes, regulations and licenses, which already have created formidable obstacles to entrepreneurial success. You don’t believe me? Try launching a company or getting a new drug approved. Heck, try starting a lemonade stand. As if these barriers weren’t enough already, Obamanomics increases taxes, regulatory burdens and uncertainties that weigh heavily on each new hire. And yet I stubbornly ignore the president’s incentives by keeping many good people employed. In my defense, however, medical practices today have to hire their own in-house bureaucracies just to cope with the demands of Washington’s bureaucracies. You might think it would be nice if health care money went to, you know, health care, but don’t be naive – your government knows best.

Embarrassingly, I must confess that I balance my own budget, both personal and professional. I realize that’s anathema to Obamanomics, but I just can’t escape my vice of fiscal sanity. What’s more, even though there’s “shovel-ready” money to be had from “Obama’s stash,” I stubbornly insist on paying my own bills. This sometimes leads to difficult choices: I’m the only doctor in America, for example, who drives a car officially declared a “clunker” by his own cousin-in-chief, but I’m from the branch of the family that doesn’t believe in spending money you don’t have – plus, I love my SUV. Still, the undeniable reality is that according to the Obama way of thinking, I obviously sabotaged our economy when I undercut the stimulus and its related gimmicks like “Cash for Clunkers” by refusing to participate in the giveaways.

Worst of all, however, I have become the single greatest impediment to Americans’ prosperity in Obamaworld: a high-wage earner. That I clawed my way toward the American dream with humbling jobs since the age of 12, volunteered for a grinding decade of medical training and lived more of my adult years deep in the bottom rungs of incomes than the top, I know now, is no excuse. Obamanomics is about spreading the wealth, not creating it. In my defense, wildly increased taxes, stifling malpractice insurance and even steep medical school loans have worked wonders to erase the gains. Still, Mr. Obama claims that families earning more than $250,000 a year are “millionaires and billionaires.” Who knew? Those tax-free corporate jets can’t be far behind.

Of course, I’m not alone. Tens of millions of Americans are frustrating the socialist aspirations of this president simply by getting up each morning and going to work. You know who you are. You’re not just suckers, you’re saboteurs. Barack Obama would prefer we all be wards of the state rather than active producers. How else can you explain the incentives he champions: endless jobless benefits, cradle-to-grave welfare handouts, “tax cuts” for non-taxpayers, and on and on. Thus proclaims the president who himself raked in a cool $7.2 million over the past two years, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” The key word there is “you.”

Obamanomics hasn’t failed America; we’ve failed it. We refused to become the wards of the state as it demands. I cling (though not bitterly) to my belief that America would be better served if Barack Obama concentrated more on spreading my work ethic than my wealth. I now realize that by serving my community rather than organizing it, by creating jobs and wealth and by holding dear the American dream, I have sabotaged Obamanomics. I hope America will forgive me.

via WOLF: I’m exactly what’s wrong with Barack Obama’s America – Washington Times.

teaching,teachers, professions, culture, Mrs. Clay, E. Rivers School, The Westminster Schools, kudos:  I found myself bashing teachers at dinner last night … then I read this and I said to myself … thank you, Mrs. Clay (E. Rivers School, Atlanta) for teaching me in 1968 that  I can be race-blind, and thank you, The Westminster Schools for establishing a very high standard and meeting it with the gift of so many great teachers.  I need to write my own thank you essay.  Add that to the list.

But how do we expect to entice the best and brightest to become teachers when we keep tearing the profession down? We take the people who so desperately want to make a difference that they enter a field where they know that they’ll be overworked and underpaid, and we scapegoat them as the cause of a societywide failure.

A March report by the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that one of the differences between the United States and countries with high-performing school systems was: “The teaching profession in the U.S. does not have the same high status as it once did, nor does it compare with the status teachers enjoy in the world’s best-performing economies.”

The report highlights two examples of this diminished status:

• “According to a 2005 National Education Association report, nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years teaching; they cite poor working conditions and low pay as the chief reason.”

• “High school teachers in the U.S. work longer hours (approximately 50 hours, according to the N.E.A.), and yet the U.S. devotes a far lower proportion than the average O.E.C.D. country does to teacher salaries.”

via In Honor of Teachers – NYTimes.com.

Stonehenge, archeology, new discoveries,Digging for Britain, tv:   I am fascinated with Stonehenge.  I will have a new show to watch – Digging for Britain.

Prof Darvill said: “It’s a little piece of keyhole surgery into an important monument, but it has actually lived up to our expectations perfectly.”

The area has many springs, which may have been associated with ritual healing in prehistoric times – and their existence may be the reason why these particular stones were quarried for another monument so far away.

Prof Wainwright said: “The important thing is that we have a ceremonial monument here that is earlier than the passage grave.

“We have obviously got a very important person who may have been responsible for the impetus for these stones to be transported.

“It can be compared directly with the first Stonehenge, so for the first time we have a direct link between Carn Menyn – where the bluestones came from – and Stonehenge, in the form of this ceremonial monument.”

A new series of BBC Two’s Digging for Britain begins at 21:00 on Friday, 9 September.

via BBC News – Tomb found at Stonehenge quarry site.

Michael Vickers, Al Qaeda, counterterrorism, CIA:   “I just want to kill those guys,” Mr. Vickers likes to say in meetings at the Pentagon, with a grin. … Mr. Vickers’s preoccupation — “my life,” he says — is dismantling Al Qaeda. I guess you have to think like that to do what he does … I would think it would have both an emotional and spiritual toll on him.

Every day, Michael G. Vickers gets an update on how many in Al Qaeda’s senior leadership the United States has removed from the battlefield, and lately there has been much to report. Al Qaeda’s No. 2 died in a C.I.A. drone strike late last month, another senior commander was taken out in June, and the Navy Seals made history when they dispatched Osama bin Laden in May.Enlarge This Image

Michael G. Vickers, once a Green Beret and a C.I.A. operative, helped persuade a cautious Robert M. Gates, then the defense secretary, to go along with the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

“I just want to kill those guys,” Mr. Vickers likes to say in meetings at the Pentagon, with a grin.

Mr. Vickers’s preoccupation — “my life,” he says — is dismantling Al Qaeda. Underneath an owlish exterior, he is an ex-Green Beret and former C.I.A. operative with an exotic past. His title is under secretary of defense for intelligence, and he has risen to become one of the top counterterrorism officials in Washington.

As covert American wars — in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — continue in the second decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, so will the questions of legality, morality and risk that go along with them.

via A Man Behind the Hunt for Al Qaeda – NYTimes.com.




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