Sunday, September 28, 2008

Grand Avenue Festival, Electric Slide and Whose Dance Is It Anyway?

So if I can bust out of the fugue state today I am going to try to go to the Festival on Grand Avenue. At 2:45 pm they are going to try make the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people doing the Electric Slide. This is gonna be hysterical.

I wanted to show you an example of Electric Slide but there seems to be some dispute about how to do the dance. I didn't think there would be a problem but I just learned not everybody does the dance the same way.



Truthfully, I didn't think it had anything to do with country music but I might be wrong. Now to present yet another perspective:



Lawdy, there is gonna be confusion in Los Angeles today! Back on the country tip:



More on the soul flow aspect, dig the lady dancing with a cane!



Well, I don't know which version of the slide is going to make it in the book. Half of them are gonna be slinging hips and dipping. The other half will be busy counting the steps. So I'm going to go find my camcorder changer and clear off the SD cards.

The particulars:
Sunday, September 28, 2008 11am to 5pm
Grand Avenue, between Temple and 5th Street
Downtown Los Angeles

If you want to be one of 30,000 people dancing, eating and cultivating culture leave the car at home and ride the Red Line:
Take the Red Line to the Civic Center exit. Walk north on 1st Street for one block towards Grand Avenue, walking up the hill.

In the interest of peace and harmony let us come to a consensus of not stepping on anybodies toes. I mean that literally.

Doing The Numbers - I'm A Number 5

I was over checking out Lovebabz blog and she had taken the quiz. I like this kinda stuff so I hopped over to the What Number Are You Quiz. This is what came up:




You Are 5: The Investigator



You're independent - and a logical analytical thinker.

You love learning and ideas... and know things no one else does.

Bored by small talk, you refuse to participate in boring conversations.

You are open minded. A visionary. You understand the world and may change it.

At Your Best: You are sharp, inventive, and creative. You have the skills to lead the world.

At Your Worst: You are reclusive, weird, and a bit paranoid.

Your Fixation: Greed

Your Primary Fear: Being useless or incompetent

Your Primary Desire: Being competent and needed


Other Number 5's: Bill Gates, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Bjork, and Stephen Hawking.



Now it isn't that far off the mark. The reclusive/weird part, yeah but I'm working on it. The reclusive. The weird is ingrained and that ain't changing anytime soon.

Open minded? I try to be open except when I'm bullheaded. I'm a work in progress.

Skills to lead the world? Naw, I hereby promise not to run for any public office or in any way be thought of as a politician. The mere thought sends shivers.

Fixation; Greed. Okay, I had a choice between Greed and Lust. I would have chosen lust but due to circumstances beyond my control I'm not in the mood. I'm not greedy but I have to stay out of electronic and photography stores for a while.

I don't need anything. Well maybe one of those small Internet notebook computers but I don't really need it. I just want one. And maybe a Nikon D40, 50, 60, 80 or D90. Seriously there are some sweet digital cameras. Okay, I cop to greedy.

Because I have been thinking about life and death lately I am concerned about living a useless life. Useless meaning I'm just sucking up air and not doing more to add something positive to the planet.

I know that I doing what I am able to do at this time. Maybe I should do more. I can do more. But I want to know before crossing into the twilight that I honored my desires and intentions. The bucket list is heavy on my mind.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Laura Nyro on the Finally Friday Freakout

Everybody wants to get saved in one way or another. Some people want money, some want forgiveness and some just want everyone to live in peace. I watched a good chunk of the debate and I’m not as worried about it as I was before it started so I needed to be reminded of what was important. This is Laura Nyro singing “Save The People.”

Laura crafted beautiful work that others would take and re-interpret on their own. Sometimes there would be commercial success for her and sometimes it was enough that a song went to number 1 by another voice.

I barely remember Save The Country.  I know very little about Laura Nyro except that she was a songwriter’s performer.  She could hold her own interpreting another singer's work.

Let's start with the originator's The Roylettes version of It's Gonna Take A Miracle. I would embed it but it is on lock down. Then there is Laura’s audio version:

And to wrap up this week of multi-billions corporation praying for a trillion dollar bail out so they don’t have to be concerned about life as it is lived by the broke and near broke people is Deniece Williams version recorded in Brazil of It´s Gonna Take A Miracle 

If you would like to learn more about Laura you can visit her biography at All Music or swing over to her Wikipedia's Laura Nyro page page.

Not much to say this week. WaMu tanked and I’m glad I didn’t have money in it. The thing is the big boys knew WaMu was shaky but they kept implying that it wasn’t as bad as the others. Only difference was that they set it up to allow it to fail in private and found a buyer right quick.

Yes, it’s gonna take a miracle.

You know there are other rotten apples about to fall. You know if the top dogs did damage the pack followed behind and sniff along the way.  Watch for your second and third tier banks in the coming weeks.

Yes, it’s gonna take a miracle.

To get presidential contenders to stop scoring winning points and say what needs to be said. For the veeps to get their facts straight – Joe, and for them to get the facts – Sarah.

And for my conservative leaning readers/viewer this week I feel for you. Yes, a MoonBat liberal is sympathetic. I saw the CBS news interviews by Katie Curic and I ain’t got nothing to add. 

Ok maybe one thing. I am not hating on her. She has her beliefs and I have mine. I doubt if we have more than 3.5 things we would agree on.  After watching the interviews I have to say this reflects so poorly on McCain’s judgement. Why would you select a total national political n00b for veep?  Male, female it isn’t fair to subject them to tremendous national scrutiny?  It is a lot to take in all at once.

But you gotta have someone who understands that it ain’t just the rich folks that can travel? Or that planes crossing your air space does not give you a world perspective required of a global citizen. And as a loyal fan of Bulwinkle J. Moose, well I pass on the moose burgers.

All we need is a miracle – you could help by making sure you are registered to vote.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Information Freedom for Children – My Testimony for Banned and Challenged Book Week

I use to be a child. Some say a curious child. No, that is understatement. I was a damn Class A question box. Most children pass through that intensive questioning stage of development. I was not one of them. That sucker attached itself to me and will not let me go without “the answer.”  It has been a blessing, a curse and a guaranteed pathway to adventure.

I want you to imagine (even if you are not a parent) what it would be like to live with a person who wanted to know everything. 365 days a year with no time off unless you shipped her off to the grandparents or vacation with other relatives.  Have that yappy image in your mind. and I will tell you my story.

Once upon a time me and my friend Cheryl were hanging out at her house when we notice a magazine on the coffee table. It was Life magazine. On the cover was the first photograph of a child in the womb. We were about seven years of age. We glommed onto that magazine and tried to figure out what the deal was with that picture.  We tried to read the text and got as far as something to do with an egg when Cheryl’s mom saw us and took the magazine away.  I think she said we were too young to understand what we were seeing and reading.

The Chicken and The Egg

I could read the word “egg.” So I asked, “Do babies come from eggs?” Cheryl’s mom was flustered and said something about “We need to go outside and play, it was too nice to be indoors.”  So we went outside and straight to my mom and I posed the question. She said "No."

Okay then why did Life magazine say so?” “What Life magazine?” she asked.  We head back across the street to Cheryl’s house to go get the proof. Her mother then denied any existence of said magazine and we shouldn’t worry about such things. I could see I wasn’t going to get any cooperation and I knew what I saw so I go back home and start in again. 

“Do babies come from eggs?” My mother had decided on the literalist approach.

“No.”

“Then why was that baby shaped like an egg?”

“What baby? No baby is shaped like an egg.”

“This one was it was curled up and everything. Where do they come from? I saw the picture and …

“Babies do not come from eggs and you shouldn't trouble yourself about things that you are too young to understand. That statement was delivered in that maternal tone of voice that says “Enough!” Which lasted a hot 10 minutes and I was at it again.

Not only could I not let go of the question I refused to eat any eggs until I had an answer. I had no problem with eating Chicken however. I had principles but nothing stood between me and a drumstick.

Well, you get the idea. This went on for weeks. Every variation of the question was posed. I scope out the corner stores for Life; all I could find was comic books, Sepia and Jet magazine. I checked out the school library. Dinosaur books up the wahzoo (with baby dinosaurs hatching out of eggs mind you) which just made me crazy. But the school library didn't have anything on people babies busting out of eggs. Believe you me I checked each and every shelf for that kind of book.

I gave up asking my mom, Cheryl's mom and finding a copy of that magazine. I had one resource left. Not sure how I got the idea, maybe it was a commercial on TV. Go to the public library. I knew where it was but I didn't think kids were allowed inside, to me it was so big it look like it took up half a city block.

I Couldn't Stand It Anymore. I Needed to Know.

I walk the five blocks. Go up those steps. Peep in the door and see nothing but books. Stacks and stacks of them. There was a U shaped desk and a good sized black lady behind the counter. The librarian asked if I needed help. 

"Do you have a book on where babies come from?

The librarian had to looked down at my head because I was kinda short. She thought for a moment and said "Yes, I think we do have some books on the subject."  She explained that she didn't have any children's books that but there a few adult books that had illustrations and color overlays.  She asked a few more questions and I told her about Life magazine and the eggs and everything.

The librarian pulled out the most visual, accessible books on anatomy and reproduction and left me to it.  Did not explain, interpret, influence or swing me one way or the other. The librarian allowed me to discover for myself what I was able to understand.

The Tug of War Between Parental Rights and Informational Freedom for Children

In hindsight and in defense of Cheryl's and my mom they were doing what they believed to be correct. We also have to take into consideration that they didn't necessarily know how to explain topics of sex, gestation or reproduction to a seven year old person. Many of the books and materials we now have in libraries and school libraries did not exist in the 1960's. I totally understand and respect that they wanted to protect us. 

Parents today are no different. Parents want to protect their kids. There are information sources and stimuli that did not exist such as DVDs, computer, video games, the Internet, cell phones, graphic novels, Anime and a shifting moral landscape that scare the hell out of some folks.

Be scared but be prepared. Go to your local library or ask to visit your child's school library. Ask questions as to why a book is present that you might have a concern about. They will tell you why the book is on the shelf. The good libraries and librarians are waiting for parents. They have access to recommendations about books,on difficult topics such as death, disease, bullying and going to the doctor. There are publications that review children's books and media. Some of those sources are secular, some are religious or academic in nature.

The First Amendment does apply to children. Children have the right and the obligation to explore his or her own world. Yes, the parents are the first teachers but children will not wait until you are ready to discuss a topic. Yes, parent have the right to decide if their child is ready to access certain concepts such as sexuality, love, changing bodies, books about other faiths or Atheist issues.

You don't necessarily have that right for another parent's child.  So here is deal. If your child presents you with a legitimate question and, you choose not to answer it, I promise you somebody else will. I was lucky. I had a librarian.

Despite your best intentions there are some questions your child may not be able to ask you. Let them know how to use your local library or how to access the 24/7 Ask A Librarian. It is a easy as going to your local library web site and look for the Ask A Librarian link.

Additional Resources:

For Those of You That Feel There Is Far Too Much Inappropriate Materials in Public and School Libraries

  • Annoyed Librarian  There is a conception that most librarians are well, liberal. That is not necessarily true. She does disagree with the American Library Association's promotion of Banned Book Week.  AL does not like some of the books and materials that are accessible to children and the population at large.  She ain't that crazy about the ALA in the first place.
  • Parents Against Bad Books In Schools (PABBIS) is a web site to inform parents about what they believe to be a rising tide of immoral, anti-family, sexual, violent and other similar books and materials. I really disagree with their depiction of pornography being placed in pubic school classrooms but that First Amendment thing kicks in and they have the right to present their point of view. They have a .pdf file available on materials some might consider bad, offensive or troublesome.

For Those of You That Feel The First Amendment Trumps Banning or Challenging Certain Books

  • The American Library Association has an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights that applies to children called Free Access to Libraries for Minors. It talks about the balancing of protecting children while at the same time providing access for all patrons to books and materials.
  • As I mentioned parents do have the right to challenge materials and expect a response. Librarian James LaRue at Myliblog demonstrated not only the process but his response to the children's book "Uncle Bobby's Wedding" was what we all hope to aspire to as human beings. It is about treating the patron with respect but also making the case that children, GLBT parents and straight parents with GLBT relatives have the right to access books and topics based on their community needs. Mr. LaRue has book on the topics of "The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges" that you can read a preview sample at Google Books.
  • Janet Yanosko fires up the blood at Forbidden Library where you can get information about the difference between a banned and a challenged book and an extensive list of banned and challenged books. The usual suspects are presents such as Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girls, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, Ibsen's A Doll House (it propagates feminist views?) and To Kill A Mockingbird.

Blogs That Provide Review, Discuss or Provide Information About Children Books

  • DHS Library Latest is Carrie Albert's aka Library Lady blog on Children's literature is new but she packing the good stuff with a synopsis, a review of the book, and how it can be incorporated into various learning situations.
  • Need the hook-up to child literature and non-fiction bloggers? ChildrensBookReview wiki has links divided by age or interest. Click on a link and your screen will fill with links to blogs with reviews of books in that topic area. Some are written by parents, teachers, librarians those into graphic novels.
  • Kelly at Big A Little keeps an eye out on mainstream media children's books reviews and on-line resources.

Originally posted at BlogHer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

PBS NewsHour Online Poetry Series

Those PBS NewHour rascals have been holding out on me. Yes, I know they are a news program. And the election is fueling everybody's jets. Not to mention fiscal meltdowns left and right. I did not know they had a poetry video series on the web.

Er...it might also have something to do with I really don't watch regular TV, I've even cut back on PBS. I have my reason that have nothing to do with politics.

But they are the ones that had poet Robert Pinsky on for a while. I do like hearing men read poetry. I like them dancing, and singing and a bunch of other stuff too. I think there is a word for that.

PBS Online Web Poetry Video Series

Anyway I was going to check something else out and they got a whole flipping section of web only videos of poets.

This is or was funded by the Poetry Foundation and a few other corporations. I doubt that there will be any new videos created. They seemed to have stopped in July. With many of the Corporate funders going belly up times are gonna be even tighter.

Golly how many Doo Wop or Celtic performances videos can a body stand to be exposed to anyway?

Now if the would let the Doo Woppers and the Celtic performers get together and create a musical experiment this could go someplace. Or not.

I got a go through these videos. This may cause my additional delay in standard television viewing. I got a lot of catching up to do. I gotta find that digital voucher card.

Personally, I think there should be some kind of center point for poetry, poets and video poems - however you define it and don't know why it taking so long to kick into gear. I'll put it on the bucket list but I'm gonna have to start volume 2 at this rate.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Declare A Paradigm - Video By Rowan North

Just when I get almost discussticated** with the status quo of geezers playing mind games with old style and new style dirty tricks along comes a little bit of hope, optimism and new generation can do thinking.



Keep your eyes on the prize - a better America that what we have. It isn't impossible.

h/t - learned about it from the Yahoo Videoblogging Group.

**I sat in on a few classes at the Daffy Duck School of Elocution.

Just The Facts - Cleaning Up The Muck From Factcheck.org

I think I mentioned that I was going to start posting reliable political information resources so that we can hose away the crap and stay on truth for the election.

This is for you e-mail slingers of misinformation. This is also for those of you that are suffering from relatives, friends and co-workers that insist on sending you unverified data.

This is an episode of Just The Facts, the weekly vidcast in pursuit of truth in political advertising and statements.



Factcheck.org is (from the website):

"We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation."

Yeah, baby. This is the political referee you have been longing for; Did Obama tell the truth? Did McCain fib? What did Joe say? What is the truth about those library books Sarah?

Please, read and review the information on Factcheck.org. They roast everyone so you can feel comfortable that if your candidate did or didn't do something they have it verified.

Conversely, if your candidate did lie, fudge the truth or was less than candid he/she will be busted. This is what fair and balanced looks like folks.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Don’t Call Me Wing Nut, Moon Bat! Don’t Call Me Socialists, Neo-Con!

Wait, come back. This post isn’t necessarily about politics.  It is a recognitions that there is a huge chunk of people who think that a discussion, debate and community discourse is what they see on television or heard on talk radio.

It doesn’t really matter what topic you select. I’m sure cooking and knitting blogs have flair ups that started out because the a certain pan or needle was not being used. So is there any help for those of us that really don’t want to spiral into name calling, insults and posturing for the sake of making a point? 

Yes, I believe so.  For the record I am a human being who makes mistakes. I have biases. I kinda like the term Moon Bat cuz I was crazy for Batman as a kid.  You however may not like some of the other adjectives used to describe people in other political parties. I will refrain from any additional negative descriptors.

Susan at Tales of a 9th Grade Tuba Player has a good take on this:

It's like we've developed technologies that allow us to be in each others' laps, to intertwine our intellectual and emotional lives in increasingly complex ways, without developing the social skills to manage this intimacy. Kind of like road rage: we share this complicated technological and material space, and we have rules that are supposed to manage this space, but we don't seem to have fully developed the social skills.

It is not about political correctness or censorship. There are times when you need to tell another human to commence with his or her own self-pleasuring activities. There are times to walk away and times to not allow a lie to take root. Use your best judgement and do the best you can but civility and manner go a long way.

Respect, Respect and When in Doubt, Be Respectful.

You don’t have to agree with the writer of the blog or article. You might find factual errors. That’s cool. Cussing him/her, the family and the community back 7 generations is not the best way to communicate your disagreement.

Connie Reese's article “Are You Conversationally Tone Deaf? at Conversation Agent  talks about how the near real time flow of information can lead to the following:

Blog comments may turn into a heated discussion with rapid-fire volleys exchanged in near-real time. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it means you have hit upon a topic that people are passionate about. What is disturbing though, is a tone-deaf attitude that demonstrates an unwillingness to consider other viewpoints or to dismiss summarily people who hold a different opinion.

Here is an example: An issue came up about a Presbyterian pastor concern about using phrases like “God Bless America” A publication to exception to the blog comment and posted an article.  In a follow-up post Rev. Dr. Bill Smutz responded":

I do not expect the members and friends of Central to agree with every word I utter in a sermon, or write in a blog or newsletter article, or with every idea I put forth at a meeting. What a boring place this would be (not to mention unfaithful and unhealthy) if everyone had to agree with me.

I expect you to use your minds faithfully, just as I hope you all expect me to use my mind faithfully. And when we do this – when we use the gift of our brain, and the gifts of our different life experiences and learning experiences, and we anticipate the Holy Spirit’s never-ending work upon us – when we do this, we will have all sorts of wonderful and creative and faithful thoughts and ideas…very few, I suspect, which will be alike.

For the most part the responses were thought out, not all  were in agreement with his position but the commenters gave reasons and not attacks. It might be because most of them know the guy. Or it might be how they chose to respond. It is a choice. Just because commenter 12 acts like a jerk you do not have to.

Check Your Emotions Before You Respond

If any of the first seven words that leap to your mind bear any similarity to George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say on Television then step away from the keyboard. If you feel the need to apply a steroid induced smack down to what you have just read, step away from the keyboard. 

No personal attacks. Keep your metaphorically verbal hands to yourself. Watch the pejoratives. To the extent possible, keep it clean. It is hard. I'm no angel. At some point I know I've crossed the line and I regret it. I thought I had a good reason at the time. Time passes.

Bring Evidence and Links

If you are giving me your opinion, that is fine. I honestly would like to know how you feel about a topic. It helps if you tell me this is your opinion.  If you are presenting facts then cite your sources be they book, magazine, ezine or newsletter.

Help me understand why you think the way you do. I need to see where you got your information so I can get it and review it for myself. I have problems with this one because I want to give 10 to 20 links. For comments at least one or no more than three will do the trick. If it is online give us the link or use TinyURL or SnipURL if the link is really long.

Stand Up for Your Beliefs and Ethics

Even if on occasion it proves the other side is correct. A while back a woman was being fired from her University job for making comments about gays and the Bible in an local newspaper Op-Ed piece. A conservative blogger wrote about the story and I followed the link. I read the news accounts and her employer's point of view. I read his opinion. I agreed, not with what she said but with her constitutional right to express her opinion.  That opened up an opportunity for a civil dialog.

Photographer Susan Rabb is taking to task a photographer that was hired by The Atlantic Magazine to photograph John McCain. It was not a flattering series of photos.  You can see a copy at PND Pulse, a professional photographers blog. 

Here is a portion of her response:

The American public might be better served by actually unplugging and reading some analysis in magazines like The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The National Review and using their own noggins, and poorly developed analytical skills to determine what one thinks is right for themselves.   Yeah, that’s right, I said The National Review.  You might actually want to familiarize yourself with both sides, so you can weigh and argue intelligently. (And yes, I assume everyone reading this blog is leaning to the democratic side, my apologies out there if I am incorrect).

The bottom line - we all have a stake in communicating effectively. We can't do that if we are unwilling to respectfully listen to other points of view. I am not advocating giving trolls and provocateurs equal time.  I am suggesting we could do a better job of listening and responding to different points of view.

More Resources:

For the newbies at BlogHer there is a set of community guidelines. The guidelines are short and to the point.

From Iowa State University Extension there is the Civility In the Workplace blog. How to handle bullies, empathy skills and yes, Ground Rules for Civil Discussion.

I gained a lot of insight from TruthTree.com and there is helpful information in the article "On Debating."

On PBS Bill Moyer's Journal had an episode on Reclaiming Civil Discourse- transcripts,  I suggest you read a few of the comments that range from civility, to hostility to frustrations about the lack of balance (many felt that he should have skewered left wing extremist shock jocks as well) Civility is not necessarily the absence of snarky retorts but you can get a sense of who makes an effective comment versus the myopic response.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Screaming Jay Hawkings on the Finally Friday Freakout

Now on the Friday Freakout I try to find the vocal gems and classic interpretations of artists that need to be remembered and passed on to the next generation.  Screaming Jay Hawkings, well…the man was impressive and certainly expressive. The dude was creative.

No one on the planet can questions his carnal energy. Before he passed he thought he had 57 kids. It turned out that it was closer to 75 and counting. So this morning I was thinking about I was gonna post and it popped into my head “I Put A Spell On You.”

I go to look at the video. My jaw dropped.  I had heard about the coffin and that is what I was expecting. I didn’t see a coffin but no one ever told me what he did on stage. I was too young and I had no idea how he looked and sounded as he was performing. I can’t post that video.  No. Uh uh. Mercy and I don’t have the words.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love the song, both his version and Nina Simone’s heart tugging rip you soul to pieces version but the brother was way out there and I just can’t get into his trip. Not tonight. No disrespect intended.  So, instead I found a more refined and restrained performance of an under appreciated yet equally passionate classic of his.

I  present to you Screamin' Jay Hawkins with Serge Gainsbourg holding on tight on piano Constipation Blues

Now being the week it was financially speaking maybe this was the more appropriate choice.

Here I am standing in a limited time only solidarity with fiscal conservatives and libertarians and want those bastards who gave risky business an unsexy name reap the penalties of a free market system. Let them sink!

That what they tell me when it comes to helping people or establishing health care or human based assistance. Why is corporate welfare any different? If I did what those blighters did I’d be under the jail instead of cashing in golden parachutes.

Yeah, I’m angry. Or does Yale, Princeton and Harvard not teach ethics classes to MBA students anymore?

On the other hand it ain't just about Wall Street. It is homeowners, investors here and in other countries, small businesses and industries that are attached to the American marketplace. If we totally melt down before recreating ourselves more ethically it would get retro-depression real quick.

Only good thing about that would be that cell phone use would be cut by 75%. Naw, I ain’t that heartless. Much as I hate the damn things. Damned if we do and damned if we don't.

So to those folks that had no part in the low life doings by their superiors and are now unemployed, this Maalox moment is for you. Or Pepcid OTC. Liquor is quicker but it will mess you up in the long run.

Oh, special shout out to California state workers who are still only getting minimum wages as the budget crises continues. Seems to be headed to an all time record for not being settled.  The state workers that didn’t get the axe are getting federal minimum wage at $6.55 an hour, not California state minimum wage. Y’all might want to have friend and relations stock on on Citricel cuz I know that got to be putting 200,000 state employee in a bind.

It will get better. Really.

For the rest of us I hope you saved your stimulus check at a bank that is still viable.  If you haven’t then join in with a grunt or two and ease up off that pressure.  Laughter is essential and this is the week to let it rip.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wishing for Peace Trees in Pasadena

I picked up a copy of the Pasadena Weekly and Yoko Ono is on the cover. Styling at 70 something years of age. I'm curious but I take my time reading the paper.

Photo by Tom Haller/(c)Yoko Ono
Thursday night I'm in bed and finally get a chance to read the article. Friday afternoon. I'm walking around, I'm not sure what to do with myself. I'm looking for an affordable sushi joint. I turn into the court yard and...




Trees are filled with cards. All kinds of wishes. Some personal, some global and some practical as in "I wish for a hummer, (not the truck)."

We all have our definitions of peace. Hey if giving a hummer to the right guy or girl on the planet will stop war, famine and overall stupidity I'm sure we could recruit volunteers for the cause.

If only it was that simple. We've tried the intellectual approach. Maybe we have to get base level to achieve peace. Just a thought. Not necessarily a good one.

Which is why you can't leave it to me to explain this, so her is Yoko talking about the original inspiration and 2007 installation with a little help from a beloved friend.




For more information about Yoko Ono's Peace Project and the Wish Tree Installations around the worlds you can check out the following:
  • Yoko Ono has a web site where you can get more information and download images and banner of Imagine Peace. If you want to participate but live no where near a wish tree you can send a postcard via snail mail.
  • Laist noticed the trees long before I did.
  • For more photos about the cards you can start with this Flickr search and then experiment to find more.
  • If you are in the mood for a road trip to let's say Iceland, then you might want to look into staying at Videy Island.
Oh, I never did find the Sushi joint. It was just as well. I was filled with the better side of human wishes, hopes and dreams.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

High Fructose Corn Syrup Ads and Evaluating Information

The Corn Refiners Association currently has two TV commercials abut the consumption of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  In this commercial we view a backyard party where two moms get to talking.

You can also view the ads at SweetSurprise.com set that was created to support the ad campaign.

Let me say to the food producers and refiners of American that I am quiet capable of expressing why I chose not to eat certain food products. I tend to use full sentences like “I don’t like the taste.”, “I don’t trust how it is made” or “When I eat that particular food I get a headache.”

The commercials are insulting and really underestimate the growing national concerns about the quality and safety of food products. That is how I feel. However I also need to find the facts to back up my feelings and perceptions.

So what I want to attempt to convey is a simplified way to research and learn about a product I only know from a consumer standpoint.

Questions and Identifying Sources

I start with my questions. My questions might be different from yours; you might know more about HFCS than I do. These are questions that I have from viewing the commercials.

  • Is it a natural product? Is eating HFCS harmful?
  • Why are they doing this now? HFCS has been on the market since the 1970s.
  • How do I eat HFCS products in moderation?

When you start to look for information you want to get as close as you can to the primary source as possible. In this case the primary source happens to be the creator of the commercials.

(Note to Science folks, I know this means something different in your terminology but I’m going for a concept and I’m on the Library/Information Studies side of the fence.)

Now certainly I’m going to review the Sweet Surprise web site. At the FAQ page there is a list of statements made to support their belief that HFCS is a natural product, comparing the refinement to sugar and honey. There is also HFCS Facts.which is more of a trade organization and the actual Corn Refiners Association that gives the actual process in making HFCS:

High fructose corn sweeteners begin with enzymes which isomerize dextrose to produce a 42 percent fructose syrup. By passing 42-HFCS through a column which retains fructose, refiners draw off 90 percent HFCS and blend it with 42-HFCS to make a third syrup, 55-HFCS. Further processing produces crystalline fructose.

Yeah, that sounds like it was just plucked off the tree. I also learn that Americans are consuming at least 42 pounds of HFCS per year according to the Corn Refiners Association Web site.

Secondary Sources

Next I want to find secondary sources that take the information provided and evaluates, support or refute the claims and statements. At this point I’m looking for nutritionists, dietitians, scientists and similar authoritative sources.

Everybody Into The Pool

In this final stage I’m looking for folks that have a stake about the topic. I’m a little more open so I want to find those people that have health issues such as diabetics, food allergies, or those folks that are required or choice to be on a low carbohydrate diet. Also I want to hear from others that have something to say about the topic.

So I am reading an article from Lazslo Pentek, a Beekeeper  who has an opinion about HFCS.  Ed Brayton over at Scienceblogs on Government Subsidized Obesity, Debra at The Ethicurean on this specific ad campaign, The Organic Consumers Association article on Corn, Used and Abused.

I’m checking in with food bloggers like The Slow Cook who has thoughts about the FDA switch of allowing HFCS to be called natural when it initially said it was not.  Wannabegreen did a count of the number of  HFCS items in the cupboard. Karina’s Kitchen  writes about Sugar Blues and alternatives to Sugar. Marion Nestle on-going posts on high fructose corn syrup.

I could keep going but my fingers are cramping up.  

My point in doing this was to demonstrate that you can get the information that you need to make an informed decision about a topic. A positive from this silly campaign is the recognition that consumers have the power to let food producers know what they will and will not accept. Information, good. Misinformation, bad.

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup bad? From what I have read there isn’t enough legitimate research done to confirm or disprove. I do know that we are being involuntarily fed way too much sugar in products that we don’t expect to be loaded with sugar. But there is not one single reason for Americans packing on the pounds. However there is enought responsibility that both consumers and food producers need to step up and accept.

That is a rant for another time.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bette Midler on The Finally Friday Freakout

I have a book called “What They Said in 1976, The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion”.  It is a book of quotes from the important and the famous. I need to qualify that because back in 1976, for the most, part you actually had to do something for a period of time to be famous.

Anyway, I’m flipping through the book looking for inspiration and I came across this quote from John Denver:

Art can be a song, a poem a movie. Art for me is to create a space for people to realize themselves. I write a song. The song works. The medium of words music, works. I have said what I wanted to. It’s art if someone listens and something happens, something pops up, little pictures, an image. When that picture comes up and you think, “That’s right! That’s true!” - that is art. It is realizing who you are."

John Denver interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle on August 8, 1976 in Aspen, Colorado.

I think John Denver was on the mark. The songs we truly hold dear communicate a connection, a truth or recognition that we are present.

There are performers who not only deliver a song but in the right environment convey a truth that is universal.  This is one such moment from The Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler a segment from The Fabulous Bette Midler Show that aired June, 1976. This is a story based medley of Strangers in the Night and Do You Want to Dance.

 

For more information on Bette Midler you can visit her website or her page on Wikipedia. If you are interested in her theatrical escapes then you should visit Bette on the Boards.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Something To Do This Weekend - World Festival of Sacred Music

Cabin fever is no good when you are stewing in your own juices and don't know where to go or what to do with yourself. If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area this weekend you should consider going to one of the events of the World Festival of Sacred Music.

From September 13th to the 28th people of all faiths and nationalities are going to lift up their voices beyond their 2nd chakras. For those of you on the frugal side or have a severe lack of disposable income not to worry. Many of the events are free or donation based.

Here is your starter set:
This is the good part of Los Angeles that you will not hear about on the news or if you do no more than 20 seconds worth. Many of the events are accessible by public transit if you are in the geographical area so, dare I say it "hop a bus and save some energy.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Bloodstone on the Finally Friday Freakout

It was either this or the Oompa Loompas. I love the Oompa Loompas but I think paying respect to Bloodstone's Outside Woman is more appropriate to the week that was. Now I could have gone with the Eagles and New Kid In Town but as much as I like the song it was too easy.

The outside woman. Yes indeed. Not a word about Michelle. Not a peep about Cindy. Nope, everybody was talking about Sarah.

They have been telling me how pretty she is and how she looks like and represents the majority of American women voters. She doesn’t look like me. Girl ain’t got no hips even after giving birth five times. They repeated told me about her fertility. A lot.

How Sarah reflects the views of the conservative woman who up to now has not been heard. How the PUMAs Gals will knock themselves silly to cast a vote for anybody but Obama and now have a way to get some estrogen in the White House one way or the other.

Um, ok.

But, as I am want to do I ask myself questions as the teeming masses stamped over to the newest political MILF. And for sure, some men folk have stated that they would do her in a heartbeat. Grown men talking about bonking the VP. I thought that was contrary to American conservative values but you live and you learn.

I have been learning a lot this week. I learned that if you are in a television studio and there is a microphone any place on the premises you need to be very, very careful about the words that may or may not come out of your mouth. However, even though what you said was truthful, stupid or beyond the pale, with your very own voice, you can actually turn around and say you were mis-interpreted.

I learned that a room full of people yelling “drill, drill” is scary. Because they are not the people who would do the actually drilling of oil near the beaches of California. Because they would be first folks hiring contractors who would then hire undocumented workers to provide short term energy gains. Having a room full of people yelling “drill, drill” is a mnemonic for “do as you are told, don’t waste time thinking.”

Which is kinda what got us into the mess in the first place. I learned more stuff like to be a community organizer is a bad thing. I think Jay Smooth says it much better and much more kinder than I would be able to so check this out:

Well, once again I’ve gone off track. In the words of the song, I, as the outside woman, should not feel bad. It is not looking good but you can't give up hope. I'm hoping that people would apply that B.S. they keep posting on looking beyond race and gender and get to some brain crunching, analytical, what could I put into place that future generation could live with or be able to handle thinking.

Peace out, I'm going to hang with the Oompa Loompas for a while.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Clara Shortridge Foltz and her Legacies

I was sitting in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center court house in downtown Los Angeles. I got called for jury duty. A responsibility that most upstanding Americans expended their most creative efforts to get out of serving. 300 of my fellow Americans failed to find that perfect excuse.

I personally don’t mind taking a few days from the Salt Mine but it is the feeling of being “recruited” that is uncomfortable. It is also the feeling that there is a story around every corner, that there are some nasty people in the world and there are some folks stories I’d just assume not to have stuck in my head.

But with every dark cloud there is a silver lining. The court had information books and brochures on Clara Shortridge Foltz. This was a phenomenal woman. In 1878 Clara was the first woman to be admitted to practice law in the state of California.  She was also the first woman to serve as deputy district attorney in Los Angeles.

Women's Legal History Biography Project

But I’m getting ahead of the story. Clara got married at 15 years of age, had five kids, husband leaves her for another woman, she has got to figure out what to do, decides on being a lawyer to pursue a dream and to provide for her children and is told she cannot because she is a woman. Phew!

That is just the warm-up. Clara first had to get the law changed so that she as a women could practice law. She then had to sue the Hastings College of Law who refused to admit her on the grounds that:

“Lady lawyers were dangerous to justice inasmuch as an impartial jury would be impossible when a lovely lady pleased the case of the criminal.”

Not only did she win her case and the appeal that followed; Clara went on to introduce all kinds of legal innovations such as establishing public defenders for poor and indigent people, the removal having prisoners placed in iron cages in the courtroom and to separate juveniles from adult prisoners.

So who are some of the beneficiaries of  Clara’s work. In the legal blogosphere there is actually too many to count but to give you a taste of the action:

Law School

  • PT-LawMom is doing the ultimate juggling act, full time employment, parenting and part time law school. (A) Non Token Law Student is taking you through her experiences starting law school from week one. Kel from A Women At Law School is right there paving a slightly different path.

Professional Paths

  • On the academic law side of the fence, Donna M. Byrne is the editor of the Food Law Professor Blog.  This deals with legislation related to food, a post on the FDA potentially placing nanotechnology into certain foods and links to post on how food producers market to children and teenagers.
  • Zuska at Balance of Power is a lawyer who writes about the demands of her profession and her family.
  • MS. JD, according to the web site “Serving women in law school and the legal profession, Ms. JD is an online community that provides a forum for dialogue and networking among women lawyers and aspiring lawyers.”
  • Marcia J. Oddi is at the helm of the Indiana Law Blog that focuses on that regions legal activities.

Jumping the Bar

  • Anastasia at Lawsagna is no longer a lawyer but using her J.D. skills to advise professionals on how to move forward in their careers.
  • Canadian Allison Wolf at The Lawyer Coach Blog gives newbies and established lawyers tips on business development, client relations, leadership and mentoring relationships.
  • In the U.S. Julie Fleming-Brown at Life At The Bar needed a way to create flexible employment for herself while staying in contact with the legal profession. She is also a professional legal coach.

For More Information on Clara Shortridge Foltz

  • Most of the information I found about Clara was located at Women’s Legal History Biography Project located at Stanford Law School. There you will find more information about Clara and the other women who were legal pioneers and innovators.
  • Barbara Allen Babcock has performed considerable research on Mrs. Foltz. In this article Barbara provides an overview of the historical context of the time, what was expected of women and how Clara defied the expectations.
  • At First Lady Lawyer.com Sharon Avery has written a book about Clara and perform living history presentations as Clara. You can also check out the Journal of San Diego History article on Mrs. Foltz.
  • At My Heroes.com they also have a page about Clara as well as links to other inspirational people.

So, yes showing up and doing your civic duty is an educational experience.  Not necessarily fun but you do what you have to do.

This post was originally posted on BlogHer.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

When The Lie Becomes the Truth and Back Again

Take a look at this video from Talking Points Memo about an off camera moment with a few pundits, one of which is Peggy Noonan.



I found out about from Daily Kos where you can read a transcript of what she and the other fella said. The Huffington Report also has a transcript as well.

Flashback 2004

In 2004 there were four of us at the bus stop. Two young black men and a lady named Queen. We started talking about the election. The two young men said they were not going to vote.

We asked why would you risk a second term? They felt that did not have anything more to lose. The first election was tricked, and nothing in that administration concerned them or had an impact on their lives. "They were gonna steal this one to so what was the point of getting worked up?"

Queen and I tried to convince them otherwise. We brought up history (not slavery, there is far more to African American history and culture than slavery). We brought up the ancestors who died for their right to vote. We said you can't allow that administration to remain in office; you don't know what mess is coming down the road. This is an opportunity.

They did not care. They were thinking about moving to South Africa. What did America have to do with them anyway? It got hot and highly verbal. Eventually both side understood each others view. We left it peaceful. We were civil. Then the bus came.

The election came and went. Then the war.
Then Katrina, the budget and the systematic removal of civil liberties and rights.

Back To Present Time

Peggy Noonan believed what she said off-mike. But earlier in the day she wrote something else, that she likes and supports Palin. And later in the day Peggy wrote a clarification and an apology for using the word "bullsh*t and how her words and intent were misinterpreted.
and she didn't mean to imply that the campaign is over. That was not her stated intent.

Peggy also wrote this:
The mainstream media, which has been holding endless symposia here on the future of media in the 21st century, is in danger of missing a central fact of that future: If they appear, once again, as they have in the past, to be people not reporting the battle but engaged in the battle, if they allow themselves to be tagged by that old tag, which so tarnished them in the past, they will do more to imperil their own future than the Internet has.

This is true: fact is king. Information is king. Great reporting is what every honest person wants now, it's the one ironic thing we have less of in journalism than we need. But reporting that carries an agenda, that carries Bubblehead assumptions and puts them forth as obvious truths? Well, some people want that. But if I were doing a business model for broadsheets and broadcast networks I'd say: Fact and data are our product, we're putting everything into reporting, that's what we're selling, interpretation is the reader's job, and think pieces are for the edit page where we put the hardy, blabby hacks".
I don't disagree with that. I wish it was true. Except the hardy blabby hacks are on radio and television too and no one is able to distinguish, comedian from pundit from newsman from former White House official.

Why should I believe anything anymore from any outlet of M$M? Doesn't matter the political party. The mirror has two faces. It seems that only if you are with the cognoscenti do you have access to the truth.

I love good reporting. It is necessary in a democracy. And on the surface political discussions are almost a birthright. But what is going on right now? Geez, I wish the hell I knew.