Archives for September 2013

‘I Dream of Gini’ – Measuring Income Inequality

One of the problems with economics is that economists use complex words like “coefficient,” making a term like “Gini coefficient” unpopular before people even know what it means. If the term referred to some abstract number that people use to explain recessions it probably wouldn’t be worth explaining. This number, however, has been connected to fetal mortality and the likelihood that crazies will go shooting up our preschools, so it’s worth a little more than a dismissive glance.… [Read more]

The Inequality of Public Education

I recently went to a meeting for the school district I work for. At the meeting other teachers and I were told how the district performed on the Tennessee standardized test issued during the prior year. The director of schools and his staff told us about the state of the school system; he revealed data, graphs and other information that each school can use to analyze student performance and focus our sights on raising student achievement for the current year. … [Read more]

Government In the Examining Room: The Conservative Paradox

It’s almost October 1st, and you know what that means: Obamacare is almost officially in action. The conservatives are very upset about the legislation actually making it out into the real world, despite their many, many efforts to stop it in its tracks. What is it that they’re so scared of? Is it the free preventative care, no lifetime limits on insurance coverage, or the removal of the last vestiges of the pre-exisiting conditions clause?… [Read more]

Ask Mrs. Vera: Do filibusters actually accomplish anything positive?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

So, do filibusters actually accomplish anything positive?

Truly Yours, Philip Ulcer

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Cameron Wolf

Dear Mr. Cruz,

On behalf of my readers, I must thank you for writing in, even if under a nom-de-plume (that’s Quebecois for faker) and calling attention to this most pressing of issues.  Being subjected to a filibuster-a-thon™ from a stubborn foreigner Texan truly feels like attending a function where everyone is depressed because the host is insisting on playing a party game involving running your head through a letterpress or embossing machine, with the most points going to the person who sustains the least brain damage.  … [Read more]

Banning books is crude, pointless, and alive and well

I read The Bluest Eye many years ago. It was a painful, uncomfortable read. The story of 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove is haunting and raw. A little black girl living in Ohio in 1941, Pecola is a victim of rape and incest, and her life is corroded by low self-esteem and racial self-loathing. This child prays for her eyes to turn blue so that people will look at her as truly beautiful – by mirroring the dominant image of acceptable beauty.… [Read more]

Make Them Eat Cake

The US House of Representatives voted to defund  $40 billion dollars from the SNAP program of food assistance for the poorest of the poor. SNAP, better known as the food stamps assistance program, is claimed by some in the House to be a program steeped in fraud.   That’s right — people are stealing a whopping $4.50 a day and some people are getting fat off food stamps, making them lazy.… [Read more]

Ask Mrs Vera: Should Starbucks™ provide a place for customers to check their guns?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Do you think that Starbucks™ should provide a place for customers to check their guns?

Sincerely Yours, Jerry Baldwin, Seattle, Washington

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Ghislaine Alix Loree

Dear Venti Grandewin,

Thanks for writing!  Despite how much everybody hates your company, they all agree that however gross the food is, and however soul-destroying the general aesthetic of these stores is, when Starbucks™  is considered in terms of its manners, nobody is arguing that the basic approach to the customer experience isn’t polite, tidy and nicely thought out — not compared to most addict shacks, opium dens and needle-drug shooting galleries.… [Read more]

There She Is…Miss (Indian) America…

Oh, how the pageant world has changed. Pageants now span all ages, education and socio-economic levels, with everything from Toddlers & Tiaras to our country’s most renowned pageant, Miss America, representing the genre. Yet the one barrier we have consistent trouble overcoming in this arena is the race boundary. Isn’t it amazing that we as a nation can welcome into our homes a beauty queen as unrepentantly ridiculous as Honey Boo-Boo, but a great number of us shudder at the thought of one Nina Davuluri being crowned Miss America.… [Read more]

How Does Divorce Law Apply to Same-Sex Marriages in the United States?

For many same-sex couples across the country, the dream of one day wedding their partners was realized when individual states started legalizing gay marriage. Even more couples celebrated when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act.

But the honeymoon has to end sometime. And many same-sex couples are starting to consider what approximately half of all married couples eventually face: Breaking up.… [Read more]

Show of hands: Anyone surprised it was charter school that expelled Tiana Parker?

Charter schools have been in the news recently. This is due in large part to Tiana Parker, an adorable 7-year-old in Tulsa who was unceremoniously sent home the second week of school for violating her school’s dress code policy, which labeled dreadlocks and afros – hairstyles natural to black children – as “faddish.”

After a public outcry, the board of Deborah Brown Community School, Tulsa’s first charter, rescinded the policy. … [Read more]

Economic Realities: Differences Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13

Most recent statistics and analyses of the economy point to some good news. As a general rule, the economy is improving overall. But that doesn’t mean families aren’t still struggling to get by and recovering from economic hardships from the last few years. The big picture may be getting a little better, but there’s no doubt many individuals are still struggling.… [Read more]

Boulder’s 100-Year Flood & Weather Weirding

I have lived in Boulder for nearly 30 years and have never seen anything — weatherwise — like what I’ve witnessed these past two years.

Last summer, standing in the front yard of my friends’ home in east Boulder, I watched pine trees near the iconic Flatirons burst into flames like matchsticks. We were in the midst of a severe drought, which had sparked a spate of deadly wildfires.… [Read more]

Southern Leg of Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Flunks Climate Test Too

I had a chance to read FAIL: How the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Flunks the Climate Test, a recent report issued by the Sierra Club and Oil Change International and endorsed by a dozen other environmental organizations. The 17-page report makes a rock solid case that “constructing Keystone XL will lead to tar sands industry expansion, and tar sands industry expansion will significantly exacerbate climate pollution.… [Read more]

Frosh Week, Canada-style – Rape Culture

It is usually bad form to reference ones own writings to support a particular cause or contention, but a recent experience with cyber-fandom prompts this modest account. Frosh Week insensibilities, campus ‘rape culture’ fear-mongering, and the wonders of instant digital communication all play their cheerful part.

My future’s so bright, I oughta wear shades

Ten days ago, a video clip of some festive, apparently over-refreshed frosh at St.… [Read more]

Business Trends That Will Affect Your Business Direction

As is the case in the U.S., there are times when businesses must change direction in order to compete effectively in a global marketplace. One of the U.S.’ political allies is also a significant business ally — and the issues and trends that affect many of our business operations are the same as those affecting domestic businesses, including knowledge of the marketplace and how best to manage operations.… [Read more]

A Teacher’s Value

After 25 years of teaching in some of the hardest and most challenging schools and situations in all of America, the State of Tennessee has determined my experience and my advance degrees mean nothing. Governor  Bill Haslam and his appointed henchman, Commissioner Huffman, have determined that teachers who have a Doctorate and/or a Masters degree should not get paid for the advanced education.… [Read more]

Straw Men and Scape Goats in the Gun Control Debate

My grandfather was fond of a certain saying, and it made him at once endearing and off-putting. It went something like this: I’d love to argue with you, but I’d have to educate you first. It’s a sentiment that many of us would do well to keep in mind.

The world is smaller than ever, thanks to the Internet.… [Read more]

Dear Mrs. Vera: Please explain why people object to Obamacare.

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Please explain why people object to Obamacare.

Regards Sincerely, Mrs. Petunia Kevorkian

Mrs. Vera Newman,San Francisco, California.Photo: Marc Huestis

Dear Please Put A Cork In It,

There are as many reasons for not liking something as there are people not to like out there, and our form of representational government insures that most of these unpleasant individuals will be front and center, right in the debate over Obamacare being held in the delightful thought experiment known affectionately, when you are trying to get in its pants, or abusively, if it lets you get into its pants, as Congress.… [Read more]

Free Your Mind

“Before you can read me you’ve got to learn how to see me.”

This week’s “Say It In Song“ pick is “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue.

If you’re paying attention at all to the current political climate, it is as it has been for at last the past 5 years: stuck. Stuck in a place of so much negativity that the nation is unable to truly move forward and, in fact, the actions of many appear to have the intention of taking the country backwards.… [Read more]

A Beacon of Hope For Japanese Nationalists

In a publicity stunt so ridiculous it could have been cooked up by Glenn Beck, former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara has suggested that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe build a lighthouse on the disputed Pinnacle Islands. This move, he claims, would help break the political stalemate that Japan and China have been sitting in for the last year, thereby improving the situation, somehow.… [Read more]