Monthly Archives: September, 2012

Self Defense for Children

So, about a century after the rest of the cyberworld I got on Twitter, perfect for the short attention span. If the net is monkey-mind, Twitter is gerbil-mind.

I’m tweet-buddy with about 500 sites and get some really cool links from across the spectrum.

Modern Family Life posts an excellent short review of effective self-defense techniques that can be used by children to deter and defuse potential dangers.


Ask your kids to discontinue the journey if they feel something not right even if it’s their usual route on a bright sunny day. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Stay In Numbers

Who cares if you hop into a crowd that gives you the dumbfounded stares? That’s exactly what your kids need to deter advances from any potential attackers.

Be A Whistle Blower

Assure your child that they have every reason to alert the crowd or someone who are able to assist them if they’re pretty sure of just having escaped an attack. Shouting on top of their voice such as “HELP!” or “THIEF!” are good attention-grabbers.

These techniques work for adults as well.

One new factor in daily life is the cell phone, and while we should not over-estimate the potential of the cell phone for getting help in a bad situation, it does keep us connected and cuts down on the chances of being isolated without anyone knowing where you are.

May You be Inscribed and Sealed for a Good Year

Can’t hurt to say that, and to wish lovingkindness for all, no matter how you count the days.


Primary day is when it really counts.

Obituary for Lia Lee

Cherished Daughter

The Modesto Bee has published a lovely tribute to Lia Lee, her devoted family and her contribution to knowledge and practice of medicine.

By Stephen Magagnini

Foua Yang crumpled in tears on the staircase in her south Sacramento home, just feet from the empty hospital bed where her daughter Lia Lee lived most of her life.

“I’m deeply saddened that Lia’s no longer of this world, I love her very much,” said Yang, clutching a picture of Lia as a lively 4-year-old in traditional Hmong finery, running from her mom.

Lia – who in July celebrated her 30th birthday in that bed surrounded by her mother, brother, seven sisters and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins – died Aug. 31 after a lifelong battle against epilepsy, cerebral palsy, pneumonia and sepsis, a toxic reaction to constant infection.

Her family’s struggles with hospitals, doctors and social workers were chronicled in Anne Fadiman’s best-selling 1997 book, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” which altered America’s views on cross-cultural treatment. She became a symbol for all disabled children and immigrants intimidated and confused by Western medicine.

Read more at The Modesto Bee.

Lia Lee’s family allowed journalist Anne Fadiman into their home and private life, even allowing her to witness a shamanic ceremony performed as an attempt to call Lia’s spirit back to her body, back to her loved ones. They allowed Ms. Fadiman to read Lia’s medical records, interview her social workers. After the book was published, readers wanted to know what happened to Lia. The family continued to care for her every day of the rest of her life, but they did so in privacy. The American way of going public for self expression or for a cause, was not their way.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
is a fair-minded and insightful account of the failures that led to a tragic outcome in the treatment of Lia Lee.

Kmareka has a nurse’s review of the book with links to Hmong-American sites. A generation of Americans are connected to Hmong culture through their parents who came here as refugees of the Vietnam War.

There will always be tragic miscommunications as we are all fallible. We can only and always strive to do our best. Lia Lee did not die in vain, the example of herself and her family teaches us all to do better.

Kiersten Marek:

Great post about the history of education in America, and why without knowledge of this history, we are doomed to repeat it.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

David Lentini, a reader in Maine, comments (in response, I promise to do some instruction on this blog about the history of school reform, which has been an American pastime for over a century):

I started reading about the history of education reform in America about 10 years ago, when our national insanity was becoming too extensive to ignore under the reign of “W”.  Wondering how a country could boast both the most widely and extensively educated population in history and also have the greatest disdain—if not outright loathing—for intellect, I found my way to Richard Hofstader’s “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life”.  Hofstader’s book (which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1964) gives an excellent description of America’s historical distaste for intellectual discourse, instead favoring a volatile combination of fundamentalist religion and laissez-faire capitalism that emphasizes received wisdom over deliberative thought.  In discussing this history, Hofstader gives an excellent overview of the…

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How ‘Bout That Weather?

Hurricane Isaac

They keep an eye on the sky in South Texas…

The historic hurricane season of 2005 remains the most active and destructive on record in the Atlantic basin. With a final tally of 28 named storms, 15 hurricanes and 7 major hurricanes, total property losses exceeded $159 billion with nearly 4,000 deaths.

However, at this point in the season (September 5th), the “n” name of that season was born, Tropical Storm Nate. The 2012 season has far been extremely active with 13 named storms, 6 hurricanes and no major hurricanes.

In the 2005 season, 6 hurricanes had also formed, but 4 of those developed into major hurricanes including the monster Katrina.

The 2005 season, wound up being the most active on record, and 2012 is so far, blowing away (no pun intended) early season forecasts that predicted near normal, to a below average season.

Leslie, and Michael are currently swirling in the Atlantic.

No saying how the rest of the season will go, but this year was supposed to be relatively calm according to experienced weather experts. Is the climate changing?

February 21,2008, Michelle Obama in Warwick, RI

Michelle Obama came to CCRI in Warwick, RI to campaign for her husband on February 21, 2008.

This writer had the cool experience of seeing the future First Lady come to speak where she got her own Community College degree. Michelle was reaching out to the 99% even then.

CCRI was an unusual venue. The Knight Campus is a 70′s futuristic concept in concrete. The common area sits at the base of a series of spiraling ramps. The Obama people were greeting all who walked in the front doors, but not all were there for the rally–classes were in session. It was cold, and heavy winter coats were draped on the walls of the ramps as the speakers on the platform below addressed the large and curious crowd. The event went off flawlessly. The speakers were convincing. Michelle Obama was passionate and eloquent as she addressed the crowd sitting in chairs on the ground floor, and gazing down at her from the ramps. I am a product of the sixties, with all its grief and violence against those who spoke too loudly in public. I was glad to see this exercise of free speech and courage. ‘Nuff said.

2/21/2008 From CCRI in Warwick (across the street from where Midland Mall used to be)

I went to CCRI, Knight Campus in 1973. I think the building wears well, it’s a radical design, all poured concrete and ramps. I was wondering whether the campaign stop by Michelle Obama would take place in the large auditorium, or in the common area in the center of the building. That is a huge open space bordered by spiraling ramps that lead to the upper floors.

Doors were set to open at 5:45. At 5:40 I turned onto the exit off Rt. 95S and hit a traffic jam. There is a left lane that leads to a turn light to the college–it was full. I got someone to let me in, and saw cars behind and in front trying to wedge into the lane. It took about 10 minutes to get up to the light. At the bottom of the hill, where a wide drive leads up to CCRI, there were 5 or 6 picketers protesting illegal immigrants. There must have been almost 100 Obama lawn signs on the road up.

The huge parking lot was mostly full. There’s always night classes on week nights, so I can’t say how it would look normally, but the rows were lettered and I had to drive down to ‘K’, the 11th tier, before I found a space. There was a full moon and it was cold.

The entrance to the school is a wide concrete ramp leading to the front doors. A lone man stood holding a sign for Ron Paul.

Inside the door were rows of tables with volunteers signing people in. The speech was in the common area. Volunteers were trying to steer people down onto the ground floor, but it was irresistible to walk up the ramps and look down on the crowd and the stage. How many people I don’t know. The floor was mostly full and the ramps were solidly lined with spectators all the way to the top.

It was a happy crowd, diverse in age and race. I went up the stairs to the top of the ramps, and looked down on a sea of people. Some were waving signs and holding banners. Music played on the sound system. It wasn’t too loud, and there was a lot of soul, including the Staple Singers ‘I’ll Take You There’. Of course they kept us waiting until after 6:30. The program began with the National Anthem. Attorney General Patrick Lynch asked for a moment of silence for the five-year anniversary of the Station Nightclub Fire. Then he got into the spirit, rousing huge cheers when he said that for the first time anyone can remember, Rhode Island’s primary on March 4th really counts. He introduced Michelle Obama’s brother, Brown University basketball coach Craig Robinson, who warmly commended his sister’s accomplishments and introduced her as “the next first lady of the United States”.

Michelle Obama spoke about her husband’s start as a long-shot candidate, and how with each success they “raised the bar”. A well-chosen metaphor for listeners who knew about bars of race and gender and class. And a devastating response to the Clinton campaign’s need to downplay the amazing momentum the Obama campaign has generated.

I hated to leave, but I was supposed to be somewhere else, so I just appreciated that I got to hear some of the speech, and be a part of the crowd, and see people happy and full of hope. It’s been a long time.

An economic parable by Ruben Bolling

Originally posted on Phil Ebersole's Blog:

Double click to enlarge.

Click on Ruben Bolling – Boing Boingfor more cartoons.

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Talk of the Town: The Low-Wage Recovery

Originally posted on On the Home Front:

According to a report from the National Employment Law Project released this week, most of the jobs added during the recovery from the Great Recession have been low-wage jobs, even though the majority of those lost were middle-wage jobs.

According to the report, the fastest growing occupations between the first quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of this year were retail sales and food preparation. While the average hourly wage for retail is $10.97, and the average hourly wage for food prep is $9.04, the Housing Wage- the amount a household must earn, working full time, to afford rent and utilities on a modest 2-bedroom apartment- is $18.25. As our report, Out of Reach 2012: America’s Forgotten Housing Crisis, demonstrated, those low wages are simply not enough to cover the cost of housing without scrimping on basic necessities like food and medicine.

The New York Times story…

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Kiersten Marek:

One veteran teacher’s experience with considering a job at a charter school.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

This teacher applied for a job, but was stunned by the hoops and hurdles required to get it.

Your education doesn’t count, they said, only your value-added scores. If you want a higher salary, get the test scores higher.

No gym. No custodian, you will scrub toilets.

And, oh yes, once you agree to all these conditions, please write a little essay about the word “feisty.”

This teacher needs a job. What did the teacher do?

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