Thursday, November 22, 2007

Find Out What Level of Dante's Hell You Will Suffer for All Eternity

Thanks to my friend, Peter, I was able to take this handy quiz. What I found was that I will roast for all eternity at Dante's 7th level of hell. Not encouraging, In fact, rather astonishing. But pretty much a load of goose crap. I did find out, within an n of 8 at the Sycamore dog park, that I'm the lowest level. Why? Go to the quiz to find out your fate. If you dare. Personally, I hope my mother never finds out. She'll blame herself, wonderng where she went wrong.

This blogs reading level

Acting on a tip from my friend Luminiferous Ether, I learned this blog has a reading level of College{postgrad. Do I now feel superior? NOT. But it shows my Vet School education paying off. Or was it reading the Boxcar Children in 4th grade that did it? Story hour in 3rd grade with Mrs Woodward at Nichols library in Naperville? Or was it wading through textbooks on spleen pathology? I don't know and I don't care. Reminds me of getting my horoscope read. Pretty much a load of crap. If you want to check out your blogs reading level, go to her site and click on the icon in the relevant post.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Baldwin Announces Listening Sessions

Today I got an email from my Congressional Representative, Tammy Baldwin, announcing her latest round of "listening sessions". Now in the past, OUR REPRESENTATIVE has held her listening sessions at times that are very hard to get to if you actually work for a living. My friend Lumeniferous Ether took off from work to go and challenge Baldwin passionately, as I recall. This challenge obviously had an effect on the now somewhat retiring liberal Democrat. So here's the sessions that have been arranged this time around:

Saturday, November 23rd from 6am to 6:30am at the Rio Stop-n-Go;

Sunday, November 24th from 2-3 at the Randolph Seed and Weed;

Tuesday, November 26th from 6-10 at the Dickeyville Grotto;

Thursday, November 28th from noon to 1pm at Circus World in Barraboo;

Friday, November 29th 2pm to 3pm at the House on the Rock

and wrapping things up on Saturday, November 30th at the Ames Mortuary in Mt Vernon, from 4-5pm

I see Ms Ether has had a powerful effect on Representative Baldwin. Deomcracy in action.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quaker Faith on this First Day

"What is the Quaker Faith? It is not a tidy package of words which you can capture at any given time and then repeat weekly at a worship service. It is an experience of discovery which starts the discoverer on a journey which is life-long. The discovery in itself is not uniquely a property of Quakerism. It is as old as Christianity, and considerably older if you share the belief that many have known Christ who have not known His name. What is unique to the Religious Society of Friends is its insistence that the discovery must be made by each man (woman) for him(her)self.

No one is allowed to get it second-hand by accepting ready-made creed. Furthermore, the discovery points a path and demands a journey and gives you the power to make the journey"

Elise Boulding, 1954

I put this quote up to share about the Quaker faith, not in any way to dismiss much older spiritual traditions. There are many spiritual paths to follow. Learning to be a Quaker is just one of them.....

Friday, November 16, 2007

An Elusive American Dream

This is a challenging, disturbing article. It forces me to realize that economic mobility and gains are not the same for blacks and whites. In a way, that's not surprising given what I know and what others have discovered and written/spoken about more eloquently over the last decades. What is harder for me, perhaps because I'm a scientist, are the numbers in the Brookings study, a brief synopsis is given in the article below. My friend, Julia Isaacs, a fellow Quaker and a Brooking's Institution scholar in Washington, DC is the author of the study papers cited below. To read more on the actual study, click the following link to the Brookings Institution.

The Roanoke Times
By Leslie Taylor
November 14, 2007

Pundits, sociologists and self-proclaimed experts have long lamented the plight of black America -- the deterioration of the black family, the proliferation of drugs and crime, the negative influences of rap music on young black people.
Their strong suggestion that black America is approaching, if not already in, crisis was fueled by facts and figures this week. A Brookings Institution study concluded that the American Dream is eluding black Americans at a far greater rate than whites.
The think tank's findings are startling:

 A majority of blacks born to middle-income parents in the late 1960s grew up to have less income than their parents. Only 31 percent have family income greater than their parents, compared to 68 percent of white children in the same income bracket.

 Almost half of black children whose parents were solidly middle class, are among the lowest fifth of the nation's wage earners, compared to 16 percent of white children.

 Fifty-four percent of black children born to poor parents stay poor, compared to 31 percent of white children.

 The lack of income growth for black men, combined with low marriage rates in the black population, has had a negative impact on trends in family income for black families.

Disparities continue to widen the gap, with blacks faring poorly. We might expect a call to action to follow, a battle cry for black parents to step up to their responsibilities.
But that would be knee-jerk, as would assuming that black parents are failing to encourage their children to do better than they have.
Such studies trouble Terry Kershaw, associate professor of sociology at Virginia Tech.
They "reinforce the notion that black folks are deficient," he said. "It gives the impression that black folks are their own worst enemies.
"It's very easy to blame the victims. But we have to be careful of the impact the larger society has on these people's lives. We'd be letting America off the hook by putting the blame on parents."

Or put more succinctly, we cannot ignore the fact that race still matters.
Comedian Bill Cosby has been blasted for his jarring truth-telling in his book "Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors" where he tackles the plight of the black family, black on black violence, parental responsibility and other issues.
But he raises ugly truths that must be acknowledged if black people are to overcome institutional racism.

Where is the revolution, he asks? Where is the outrage that 70 percent of black babies are born to single mothers? Or that one out of three homeless people is black? Or that blacks -- 12 percent of the nation's population -- make up 44 percent of the prison population?

Black people "must realize that the revolution is in their apartment now," he told "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert last month. "The revolution is in their house, their neighborhood. They can fight strongly, clearly, the systemic and institutional racism."

Or they can sit back and watch study findings continue to chronicle their decline.
The Brookings Institution, Cosby and plenty of other individuals and organizations have laid bare the facts. Now is the time to figure out why these troubling trends are happening and begin meaningful work to turn them around

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Poodledoc, Jr Goes on Retreat, Part Two

Poodledoc, Jr. enjoyed his retreat. He made some new friends and seemed very contented, although a bit tired. It sounds like they didn't do anything particularly Quakerly. Well, they did a service project. They watched a movie about an Iraqi family and how the US occupation effects them. So it's ok with me that they didn't do anything particularly Quakerly.

When I stopped by last night, I managed to be a "fly on the wall" for a few minutes and I watched him moving about the room, creating things with his hands and connecting with others, making new friends. So watching that, I feel that Spirit was there in the room as the kids were bustling about, making cake, making candles, making friends. This looked and felt very spiritual to me. All this creating and connecting. And a retreat from his "regular world". A place to build some trust with other kids coming from a Quaker place in terms of some shared values. And shared hope, I think, too.

We talked some about it in the car on the way home and he really enjoyed his new (and old) friends. He wants to go to the next NYM Quaker retreat in the spring in the Twin Cities. To see his friends. I pray that God continues to guide him on his journeys.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Poodledoc, Jr Goes on Retreat, Part One

Just dropped Poodledoc, Jr off at the Meetinghouse for an overnight Quaker retreat. It was challenging wending our way through the pre-football game debris. The football stadium is only two blocks from the Meetinghouse, but the game had started by the time we'd arrived. So it wasn't too crazy.

Poodledoc, Jr looked a bit glum sitting in the little room in the Meetinghouse we call "The Sun Room" as I left. I think he was maybe feeling a bit shy. I plan to go back this evening, AFTER the football crowd has had a chance to clear out, to see how he's doing. I think he'll be fine and have fun once some of his friends like Isaac and Sparkly Sea Cow arrive.

It's interesting that he continues to maintain he's not a Quaker, just an Associate Member (of Madison Monthly Meeting). But, I've seen him identify himself as a Quaker in things he's written for school. I'm always curious about his spiritual development. Personally, I'm not particularly interested in whether he decides to be a Quaker. But this is a place, I think, where he can explore spirituality. We'll see. We have some great talks about faith, God, fate and other aspects of spirituality, so I guess I'm really more concerned that he's thinking about spiritual stuff, rather than what he calls himself.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Meet the Press, part one

“There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now----there’s better things to be thinking about in this world than who served Hillary Clinton at the Maid-Rite or who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip”

Anita Esterday, a waitress at the Maid-Rite diner in Iowa, on news reports that Hillary Clinton failed to leave her a tip.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Poodledoc Goes to Washington, DC

Since George Bush wouldn't invite me to dinner, I got to see the sights of the city instead. We went to several wonderful restaurants which were undoubtedly better than White House food!

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an astronaut (true confession) so my friend took me to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to look at what astronauts have done and are still doing. All those teeny tiny space capsules. Going into space in the Apollo moon capsule would be like spending 10 days in my station wagon. Yuck! Got to touch a piece of the moon. Went to "Space Station 3-D" at the IMAX in the museum which showed life on the International Space Station. Then I realized I still wanted to be an astronaut but I know there's already been a veterinarian in space and he got to go twice. So much for that idea! Looked in on the "Spies in the Sky" exhibit, which details the many "creative" ways space and airplanes have been used to spy. I think it took about 5 years after the Wright Brothers 1903 flight for the airplane to become a tool of war. One part of the exhibit showed various aerial spy photos and there were three pictures, framed 1-2-3. The first photo showed a satellite view of Iran's nuclear reactor and production facility. The second showed the World Trade Center just BEFORE 9/11. The next and last photo showed the World Trade Center 5 days after the attack. I found it curious that the three photos should be grouped like that. I'm SURE it was an accident.

Then we visited the National Conservatory with hundreds of lovely plants. Someone, incredibly, had constructed various DC monuments out of twigs and then varnished them (see above photo)

Visited the Jefferson Memorial. In this city, you could spend days visiting monuments. But I really liked the Jefferson Memorial, once the mob of middle school kids had flowed, screaming and shouting, down the steps past us.

I attended my friend's Quaker Meeting which felt very welcoming to me!

Then hung out at Dupont Circle trying to look cool (yeah right!)

It was a fun trip!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wis. Teacher Protests No Child Left Behind Law by Sitting Out Testing; Discipline Threatened

Published on Thursday, November 1, 2007 by Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. - A middle school teacher is protesting the federal No Child Left Behind law by refusing to administer a standardized test to his eighth-grade students.

David Wasserman, a middle school teacher in Madison, began his protest Tuesday. Instead of giving students the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam, he sat in the teacher’s lounge, leaving his colleagues to oversee the test.

He said he has moral objections to the federal law, President Bush’s signature education policy. The state test is used to measure whether schools are meeting annual benchmarks under the law. Schools that do not meet goals can face sanctions.

Like many teachers, Wasserman said he believes the test is a poor way to measure student progress, takes up too much class time and is used unfairly to punish schools. So after years of growing frustration, he said he decided to be a “conscientious objector” this year.

Wasserman said he originally planned to resume his protest on Thursday, the second day of testing, and through four more days of testing next week. But he said Wednesday he would likely back off and give the test after Superintendent Art Rainwater told a teacher’s union official that Wasserman could be fired if the protest continued.

“I can’t jeopardize health insurance for my family,” said Wasserman, 36. “I want to still hold by my morals, which I feel very strongly about. But I have a family to think about.”

In a statement released to The Associated Press on Wednesday evening, Rainwater noted the district was required by state law to fulfill the federal requirement.

“It is part of every teacher’s duty to administer the test,” he said. “Any failure to fulfill this required duty would be considered insubordination and subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

Robert Schaeffer, a spokesman for FairTest, a national group that opposes the overuse of standardized tests, said he was unaware of any other teachers who have refused to administer tests to protest No Child Left Behind. Other teachers have boycotted high-stakes state tests used for graduation or promotion, he said.

“It is an act of moral courage, and it certainly helps call attention to the widespread misuse of standardized testing,” he said. “The natural bureaucratic reaction is always to threaten people with severe sanctions. That’s why people have to have the moral fiber to put themselves at risk.”

Wasserman, who has taught in the district for six years, said he is being treated unfairly because his colleagues at Sennett Middle School could administer the test without him.

© Copyright 2007 Associated Press