Archive | January, 2013

2013 ALA Seattle: Midwinter Meeting: Librarians as guardians of public knowledge

25 Jan

Moi is attending the Seattle Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) and that causes moi to reflect about the role of libraries and librarians in preserving public knowledge. Margaret Jackubcin of Southern Oregon’s Mail Tribune gives ten excellent reasons why libraries are important to a community.

  1. Public libraries are good for the economy.

  2. Libraries are a cornerstone of democracy.

  3. Libraries play an important role in helping young children develop reading skills.

  4. Public libraries provide support to schools and students.

  5. Libraries are forward- thinking, and play an important role at the cutting edge of information technology.

  6. Libraries are repositories of the accumulated understanding of mankind.

  7. Public libraries are a bargain.

  8. Libraries provide a neutral community gathering place for the free exchange of ideas, culture, and entertainment.

  9. A vital and attractive library helps define a community, encourages civic pride, and invests residents with a sense of ownership.

  10. Libraries are the heart and soul of a community and reflect the value residents place on literacy, education, culture, and freedom.

Key to the success of libraries are librarians.

The ALA has a great description of what librarians do:

Me, a librarian?

It’s not every day that you find a job that can make a world of difference in people’s lives. Libraries have been empowering people by offering resources, services and training to expand their knowledge for thousands of years. Consider joining the 400,000 librarians and library workers who bring opportunity every day to the communities they serve.

While there’s no magic test that will tell you if a library career is right for you, there are many characteristics and values that librarians and library workers share:

  • Enjoy helping and serving other people 
  • Interested in developing and providing services, resources and materials that inform and entertain, such as books, movies, music, storytelling, websites, local history, databases, and puppets 
  • Thrive in a technologically changing environment 
  • Interest in information research, preservation and instruction 
  • Willing to connect people with a wide variety of value and belief systems to materials that represent multiple points of view
  • Believe strongly in First Amendment rights protecting the freedom of speech and of the press 
  • Wish to contribute to the greater good of a literate society
  • Want to be part of a professional community that encourages sharing information, opinions and expertise
  • Respect and uphold people’s rights to privacy and the freedom to read what they choose
  • Believe all information resources provided by libraries should be equitably accessible to all library users

If you hold many of these values, then visit Oh, the Places You Will Go to discover the many opportunities available to you in librarianship.

If there is a trait that most librarians share, is the love of learning and sharing knowledge.

Ramon Barquin eloquently describes the importance of librarians in his speech, Debt to Librarians:

We have to remember librarians have been the guardians of knowledge from the very beginning of man’s attempts to capture information outside the human brain. The media in which explicit knowledge was stored evolved from clay tablets, parchments and papyrus scrolls into books. But librarianship today has gone substantially beyond books, and the focus of its work is connecting people with a need to know something to the right source of content for that knowledge. Most of these knowledge sources now are online databases or virtual documents that exist in cyberspace.
It’s a far cry from the image we have of the librarian of the past. In fact, many schools of library science have now either changed their academic name outright into schools of ‘information science’ or have added that term to their traditional library science denomination.
And well they should since they are very much into the thick of information science and hence IT, as well as knowledge management. Take something as hot these days as search. There is little that has a higher priority than search for an enterprise that must find specific content in the mountains of virtual documents in order to address the needs of its knowledge workers. Well, to a large degree this is what librarians have been doing for millennia. For them, it starts with developing taxonomies and classification schemes that allow the storing of content in a way that will make it easier later to retrieve what they are seeking. The card catalogues of our school libraries provided a basic example of a multidimensional approach to search. We could look under the author, title and subject  headings in order to find a specific tome or list of possible books that might be helpful in researching a given topic.
With automation came quantum changes in libraries too. Fairly soon we saw the computerised catalogues allowing us to search a library’s collection, then expanding its reach to permit searching sets of collections across collaborating schools or other domains. And because the scope of librarians is no longer tied just to books, the content in databases and knowledge spaces is very much their bailiwick.

The ALA is the primary professional group representing the many facets of library science.

The ALA describes its mission:

Mission & History

Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the American Library Association was created to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. Our current strategic plan, ALA Ahead to 2015, calls for continued work in the areas of Advocacy for Libraries and the Profession, Diversity, Education and Lifelong Learning, Equitable Access to Information and Library Services, Intellectual Freedom, Literacy, Organizational Excellence and Transforming Libraries.

So, about 10,000 librarians have come to Seattle for a weekend of seminars, meetings, fellowship, and affirmation.

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The University of Wisconsin ‘Flexible Option’ program: A college GED?

25 Jan

Caroline Porter reports in the Wall Street Journal article, College Degree, No Class Time Required:

Colleges and universities are rushing to offer free online classes known as “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs. But so far, no one has figured out a way to stitch these classes together into a bachelor’s degree.

Now, educators in Wisconsin are offering a possible solution by decoupling the learning part of education from student assessment and degree-granting.

Wisconsin officials tout the UW Flexible Option as the first to offer multiple, competency-based bachelor’s degrees from a public university system. Officials encourage students to complete their education independently through online courses, which have grown in popularity through efforts by companies such as Coursera, edX and Udacity.

No classroom time is required under the Wisconsin program except for clinical or practicum work for certain degrees.

Elsewhere, some schools offer competency-based credits or associate degrees in areas such as nursing and business, while Northern Arizona University plans a similar program that would offer bachelor’s degrees for a flat fee, said spokesman Eric Dieterle. But no other state system is offering competency-based bachelor’s degrees on a systemwide basis.

Wisconsin’s Flexible Option program is “quite visionary,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, an education policy and lobbying group that represents some 1,800 accredited colleges and universities.

In Wisconsin, officials say that about 20% of adult residents have some college credits but lack a degree. Given that a growing number of jobs require a degree, the new program appeals to potential students who lack the time or resources to go back to school full time.

“It is a big new idea in a system like ours, and it is part of the way the ground is shifting under us in higher education,” said Kevin Reilly, president of the University of Wisconsin System, which runs the state’s 26 public-university campuses.

Under the Flexible Option, assessment tests and related online courses are being written by faculty who normally teach the related subject-area classes, Mr. Reilly said.

Officials plan to launch the full program this fall, with bachelor’s degrees in subjects including information technology and diagnostic imaging, plus master’s and bachelor’s degrees for registered nurses. Faculty are working on writing those tests now.

The charges for the tests and related online courses haven’t been set. But university officials said the Flexible Option should be “significantly less expensive” than full-time resident tuition, which averages about $6,900 a year at Wisconsin’s four-year campuses.

The Wisconsin system isn’t focusing on the potential cost savings the program may offer it but instead “the university and the state are doing this to strengthen the state work force,” said university spokesman David Giroux.

Here is a portion of the University of Wisconsin’s description:

University of Wisconsin Flexible Option FAQs


What is the UW Flexible Option?

The UW Flexible Option is an innovative way to make UW degree and certificate programs more accessible, convenient and affordable for adult and nontraditional students. Built on the long-standing foundation of high-quality UW degree programs, the new UW Flexible Option will include self-paced, competency-based degree and certificate programs that allow students to earn credit by demonstrating knowledge they have acquired through prior coursework, military training, on-the-job training, and other learning experiences.

UW faculty will determine what students should know and be able to do (knowledge and skills) in order to earn their college degree. Students enrolled in UW Flex programs will make progress towards a degree by passing a series of assessments that demonstrate mastery over competencies (knowledge and skills). Students in a Flex Option program may use the knowledge they have acquired through prior coursework, military and on-the-job training, and other learning experiences, and take assessments wherever and whenever they are ready. As they prepare for those assessments, students acquire knowledge and instruction from a wide variety of sources, working with a UW advisor and progressing at their own pace.

Which UW degrees will be offered with the new UW Flexible Option?

The first cohort of Flexible Option programs, planned for Fall 2013, includes:

UW-Milwaukee will offer four degree programs and one certificate program: o The College of Nursing will offer both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree option for Registered Nurses who seek higher credentials (R.N. to B.S.N. and R.N. to M.N.).

o The College of Health Sciences will develop a degree completion in Diagnostic Imaging targeted toward bachelor’s degree-attainment for certified diagnostic imaging professionals.

o The School of Information Studies will offer a B.S. in Information Science & Technology, preparing students for a host of jobs in an increasingly digital culture and economy.

o The College of Letters & Science will offer a Certificate in Professional and Technical Communication, providing students with the essential written and oral communication skills needed in the workplace.

UW Colleges will offer liberal arts, general education courses in the flexible degree format.

o The University of Wisconsin Colleges is the UW System’s network of 13 freshman/sophomore campuses. Through traditional instruction and the UW Colleges Online, students can earn an Associate of Arts and Science degree and transfer to any baccalaureate and professional program at a four-year UW campus.

o For students who wish to be engaged in Flexible Option degree programs, the UW Colleges will provide general education, liberal arts freshman and sophomore level offerings that will be available in a competency-based, self-paced format as early as fall 2013. Students will be able to complete competencies and assessments in biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, engineering, physics, psychology, health, exercise science and athletics, women’s studies, business, political science, English, Spanish, geography, anthropology and sociology, history, art, and music. The UW Colleges will work to provide the Associate of Arts and Science degree via the UW Flexible Option….

There is a debate about the move to competency-based degrees.

Elle Moxley writes in the NPR report, Why Some Schools Are Considering A Move To Competency-Based Education:

Southern New Hampshire University is the latest to announce it will confer degrees based on something other than credit hour completion. The school plans to offer a $5,000 online degree awarded through a system of “direct assessment.”

Here’s how it works: Students have to prove they can complete a series of tasks — say, writing a business memo or creating a spreadsheet — to advance in their studies.

It’s similar to the competency-based model Western Governors University uses, writes Joanne Jacobs over at Community College Spotlight.

The idea’s spreading. Twenty other schools are working with WGU to design their own competency based programs, Jacobs reports. We noted last month that the U.S. Department of Labor will give community colleges in three states a total of $12 million to teach competency-based courses in key technology fields.

Even though schools like WGU are nationally and regionally accredited, many brick-and-mortar institutions have been reluctant to forgo the traditional college model in favor of competency-based education. Paul Fain over at Inside Higher Ed explains:

The academy’s nervousness about competency is understandable. Students learn at their own pace under the model — without guidance from a traditional faculty member — and try to prove what they know through assessments. If the tests lack rigor and a link to real competencies, this approach starts looking like cash for credits.

And competency-based education is controversial even when it’s backed by sound measurements of college-level learning. Most online courses share plenty with the traditional college classroom, most notably course material delivered by a professor or instructor. … But competency-based education, by definition, eliminates this part of the learning process, typically relying instead on tutors to help students grasp concepts as they work through self-paced course material, and only if they need help.The academy isn’t the only one with reservations about competency-based education, writes Fain. There’s also tension in the federal government, which only has so much money and wants to make sure dollars flow into schools offering degrees of value. Schools like WGU say they offer more bang for the buck because they let students take as many competencies as they can complete in a set period of times.

See, Competency-based education has fans, detractors

The question is what a particular student hopes to achieve from their college experience. In addition to the academics, there is the opportunity for certain social experiences which an online education may not provide. Still, for the mature student with life experience, this might be an opportunity for education or training.

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The 01/25/13 Joy Jar

24 Jan

The last several days in Seattle were cold with freezing fog. The foggy cold created a temperature inversion and felt like one could see and chew on the air. It was dry. The rain broke the dry spell and even for January, the temperate began to rise to more of the January Seattle normal. Rain in Seattle is like washing your dog or washing your car. Rain cleans the city and makes the air feel refreshed, it is like everyone goes ah. Still, even Seattleites complain if the rain goes into that 40 days and 40 nights thing.


It’s all nonsense. It’s only nonsense. I’m not afraid of the rain. I am not afraid of the rain. Oh, oh, God, I wish I wasn’t.”
Ernest Hemingway


On the late afternoon streets, everyone hurries along, going about their own business.

Who is the person walking in front of you on the rain-drenched sidewalk?

He is covered with an umbrella, and all you can see is a dark coat and the shoes striking the puddles.

And yet this person is the hero of his own life story.

He is the love of someone’s life.

And what he can do may change the world.

Imagine being him for a moment.

And then continue on your own way.”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Innocent droplets of rain
Make almost all events
Quite natural.

(from “A Rainy Day”)”
Visar Zhiti, The Condemned Apple: Selected Poetry


Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”
Vladimir Nabokov


I miss it if I’m not in it for any length of time; I don’t feel comfortable. I want trees and I want frequent rain.”
Murray Morgan

The 01/24/13 Joy Jar

23 Jan

The car was barreling down Union Street in Seattle and making a left turn onto 5th Avenue. Moi was in the crosswalk with a bright walk signal. It made no difference. The car whizzed by moi and the driver had the nerve to wave at moi. Moi wanted to give the idiot the finger. Moi didn’t not because she was feeling spiritual, but these days one doesn’t know who is armed and dangerous. More and more drivers are distracted and impatient with pedestrians. The corner of 5th and Union is particularly bad because drivers are often turning the corner going well above the speed limit. They are also impatient with pedestrians who may moving much too slow for their sense of going nowhere at a rapid rate. Today’s deposit in the ‘Joy Jar’ is thanks for those drivers who are paying attention and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks with walk signs.

I failed my Driver’s test. Driving teacher: ‘What do you do

at a red light?’ Me: ‘I usually respond to texts and check

my Facebook.’


An optimist is a driver who thinks that empty space at the curb won’t have a hydrant beside it.
Jules Renard

A careful driver is one who honks his horn when he goes through a red light.
Henry Morgan

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up  traffic jams.                                        Mary Ellen Kelly

It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.                                                                                                           Unknown 

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.                   Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance,” 1841

Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer.                                                       Unknown

The 01/23/13 Joy Jar

22 Jan

Moi has an early appointment tomorrow with the hairdresser. Since moi will be covering the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle beginning on 1/25, along with other harried journalists and bloggers, moi wants to look her best while she is running to and fro. Last Friday, moi got a manicure, it that tangerine rosy color. It looks good and makes people think of Spring. The checker at Kress Market commented and said it made her think of Spring. Anyhow, moi has to get up early because the hair appointment is just the start of a busy day. Better set the alarm clock. Today’s deposit into the “Joy Jar’ is my trusty alarm clock.


Work is a necessity for man. Man invented the alarm clock.
Pablo Picasso


I like things that are simple, such as an alarm clock.
Martin Freeman

I miss the days in college when my alarm clock would be

set in the P.M.


The truth is like an alarm clock. You might not want to

hear it…but it will wake you up from your dreams and

bring you back to reality.


If you think its your alarm clock that wakes you every morning, try putting it next to a corpse and understand the Grace of GOD!!!



Poor people and school choice: The Cristo Rey work/school model

22 Jan

Jay Mathews reports in the Washington Post article, Private schools funded through student jobs which is about the Cristo Rey work/school model:

Twelve years ago, I stumbled across a story that seemed too good to be true. A Catholic high school in Chicago ensured its financial survival by having students help pay their tuition by working one day a week in clerical jobs at downtown offices.

This was a new idea in U.S. secondary education. New ideas are not necessarily a good thing, because they often fail. But the creator of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School was an educational missionary named John P. Foley who had spent much of his life helping poor people in Latin America. I was not going to dump on an idea from a man like that without seeing how it worked out.

Now I know. The Cristo Rey network has grown to 25 schools in 17 states, including a campus in Takoma Park, where more than half the students are from Prince George’s County and more than a third are from the District. It is blossoming in a way no other school, public or private, has done in this region.

Foley started the original school in 1996 in the Pilsen/Little Village section of southwest Chicago, a heavily Hispanic area. To some, it seemed to be a foolish venture. Catholic schools were dying in the nation’s urban neighborhoods. There was no way to pay for them.

But Richard Murray, a management consultant Foley knew, had an inspiration. What if Foley divided the student body into teams of four and assigned each team to an office job in the city? Each student would work one day a week. Their combined salaries could guarantee the school’s future.

More than 90 percent of the students at the original Cristo Rey school were from low-income families. Few had been subjected to the pressures of big-city offices. But they received proper training for their clerical assignments. As the experiment proceeded, they realized the writing, reading and math skills they were learning in school were relevant to their new jobs — and their work experience would help them find jobs to pay their way through college….

One of the Chicago students answered: “Maybe I don’t see any money, but I get an education.”

A network of new schools began to grow, including Takoma Park’s Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, which opened in 2007 as the first Archdiocese of Washington high school in more than 55 years. Today, it has 325 students who “work one full day per week at law firms, banks, hospitals, universities and other professional corporate partners and are in the classroom the other four days,” spokeswoman Alicia Bondanella said.

More than 100 companies and organizations — including Ernst & Young, Georgetown University Hospital and Miller & Long Concrete Construction — employ Don Bosco students. Each student makes $7,500 a year, which is applied to the school’s $13,500 tuition. The remainder of the cost is covered by fundraising and the student’s family.

Bondanella said that 93 percent of students received outstanding or good ratings in their mid-year evaluations at their workplaces. Their attendance rate at work was 99 percent. Every one of the school’s 2011 and 2012 graduates were accepted into two- or four-year colleges. Eighty-two percent of the 2011 graduates, the first at Don Bosco to complete the four-year program, enrolled for a second year of college, twice the rate for students of similar backgrounds….

The Cristo Rey network has information about the model at their site.

Here is what Cristo Rey says about their schools:

The Cristo Rey Network provides a quality, Catholic, college preparatory education to young people who live in urban communities with limited educational options. Our mission is clear – college success for Cristo Rey Network students.

Member schools utilize a rigorous academic model, supported with effective instruction, to prepare students with a broad range of academic abilities for college. Cristo Rey Network schools employ an innovative Corporate Work Study Program that provides students with real world work experiences. Every student works five full days a month to fund the majority of his or her education, gain job experience, grow in self-confidence, and realize the relevance of his or her education. Students work at law firms, banks, hospitals, universities, and other professional Corporate Partners.

The Cristo Rey Network supports school success through the following programs:

Teach, Lead, Learn

  • Developed a standards-based, rigorous college-ready curriculum
  • Focuses on professional development of school principals and teachers, emphasizing teacher effectiveness training
  • Provides data-driven decision-making to maximize student learning
  • Connects students’ classroom learning to their workplace learning

Mission Effectiveness

  • Optimizes the effectiveness of the schools’ Corporate Work Study Programs
  • Supports member schools with particular finance, job or enrollment strategies
  • Works with community groups in targeted cities to create more Cristo Rey Network schools

College Initiatives

  • Monitors the progress of Cristo Rey graduates while they are in college
  • Works with colleges and universities that are committed to supporting Cristo Rey students to ensure postsecondary access and success for our alumni

Professional Development

  • Grows current and future leaders at the schools and promotes ongoing spiritual formation, the sharing of best practices, as well as finance, strategic planning, and governance issues

Advocacy on National Education Reform

  • Cristo Rey leaders serve as a national voice and leader in the movement of education reform through meetings with elected officials, letters to the media, and prominent speaking opportunities.

School choice is just as important for poor students as it for their more privileged peers.

Joseph P. Viteritti writes in the 1996 Brookings article, Stacking the Deck for the Poor: The New Politics of School Choice:

A new model of school choice has begun to emerge in state legislatures and in Congress. One might call it the “equal opportunity model.” Its goal is to give children who could not otherwise afford it the chance to attend a high-quality private or parochial school. The first such plans were enacted in Wisconsin and Ohio, but others have received serious consideration elsewhere. All provide public assistance to students on the basis of economic need. There is no skimming here, for the target population is students who are most underserved by public education, the lowest achievers. Nor do these initiatives portend an end to public education, for only a small portion of the population can meet the means-tested criteria for eligibility.

The Problem: Separate and Unequal

Defenders of the present government monopoly can conjure up whatever images they may of a future shaped by greater choice in education. But the system they propose in its stead offers little hope for many children who come from minority and poor families. Notwithstanding the promise enunciated by the Supreme Court in the Brown decision 42 years ago, the condition of public education in the United States still can aptly be described in two words: separate and unequal. David Armor gives an account in his recent book, Forced Justice: despite the best efforts of civil rights advocates and the federal courts over the past four decades, most black children today attend de facto racially segregated public schools, the condition improving minimally since 1968. Moreover, a substantial body of empirical research and a flood of litigation in the state courts (in nearly two-thirds of the states) shows wide disparities in per-pupil spending between poor and middle-class districts. No resolution to either situation appears in sight. Public schooling, for all its virtues, just hasn’t been very kind to some children. The same system that helped assimilate generations of European immigrants is not working very well today for the most disadvantaged members of society.

Yes, there has been some notable progress in American education. De jure segregation has been all but eliminated. Ambitious compensatory programs have been spun out of Washington and the state capitals. After a precipitous 15-year decline in national test scores that began in 1964, student achievement is beginning to show signs of gradual improvement. But these victories tell only part of the story. Our system of public education betrays a persistent gap in student performance defined by race. In 1995, black students trailed white students on SAT verbal scores by 92 points. The disparity in mathematics was 110 points. The data on Hispanic students is only slightly less discouraging. If we are serious about education reform in America, then the first order of business is to meet the needs of those students whom the existing system has failed the most. We must move aggressively to close the learning gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Most parents want a quality education for their child.

Moi wrote in School choice: Given a choice, parents vote with their feet:

Most parents want the best for their children and will make many sacrifices to give their children a good life. In the movie Waiting for Superman, a remarkable group of parents was trying to overcome the odds stacked against their children in failing public schools. David Miller Sadker, PhD,  Karen R. Zittleman, PhD in  Teachers, Schools, and Society  list the characteristics of a strong school. Strong schools must be found in all areas. At present, that is not true.  It is particularly important where student populations face challenges. Strong principals, effective teachers and parental involvement are key to strong schools. Charmaine Loever describes  What Makes A Principal Effective? It really doesn’t matter the income level or the color of the parent, most want the best for their child.

Perhaps, the best testimonial about this school comes from an editorial which describes the emotions of one parent. The NY Daily News editorial, My Baby Is Learning  describes a protest against charter schools:

Those words were spoken by a mother who had brought her child for the first day of classes at Harlem Success Academy 2 Charter School – and faced loud protesters with her youngster.

The demonstrators were part of a movement that portrays charter schools as an elitist threat to public education. They are not. They are publicly funded schools that admit neighborhood kids by lottery. Their students far outperform children in traditional public schools.

Charters have proliferated in Harlem, and thousands of parents have children on waiting lists – a trend that has driven activists, including state Sen. Bill Perkins, into shamefully charging that charters are creating a separate and “unequal” system.

But parents, the vast majority of them minorities, know better. Like the woman who confronted the protesters, they’re flocking to charters as a way out of failing local schools. And the bottom line for them is crystal-clear: Their babies are learning. 

The only way to overcome the great class divide is to give all children a first class education. AP reports in the article, More Students Leaving Failing Schools which was printed in the Seattle Times that given the choice, many parents choose to take their kids out of failing schools. Well, duh.

The next great civil rights struggle will be education equity for low-income and poor children.  ALL options for educating children must be on the table.

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The 01/22/13 Joy Jar

21 Jan

The last several days have been cold for Seattle with the temperature hovering around freezing. There has been a temperate inversion and that has produced a thick pea soup fog. There is something mysterious about fog. One expects Sherlock Holmes to emerge. The horror movie, ‘Fog’ made people disappear. It is good to have variety, like fog because it is good for one’s imagination. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is fog.


Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form inself on the edge of consciousness.”
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep


It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.
Joseph Conrad

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
E. L. Doctorow

Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.
Daniel J. Boorstin

The atmosphere of libraries, lecture rooms and laboratories is dangerous to those who shut themselves up in them too long. It separates us from reality like a fog.
Alexis Carrel

Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us. Henri Matisse

Truth is the torch that gleams through the fog without dispelling it.
Claude Adrien Helvetius


The 01/21/13 Joy Jar

20 Jan

Did you ever wonder how the first person who made coffee came to the conclusion that it was a good idea? They found some coffee beans and decided to smash them and then boil them in water. Really. Moi lives in Seattle and the prevailing wisdom about Seattleites is that they have an IV hooked up at Starbucks dispensing coffee. Close. Still, there is nothing like a good cup of coffee and if one is desperate, any cup of coffee. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is coffee.

As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”
Cassandra Clare,
City of Ashes

It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”
Dave Barry

I like my coffee with cream and my literature with optimism.”
Abigail Reynolds,
Pemberley by the Sea

Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee.              Stephanie Piro

Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”
David Lynch

Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.”
Thomas Jefferson

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Constitution: Like what would Jesus do, folk wonder what would Martin do?

20 Jan

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: There are a group of Christians whose reflex actions to a host of contemporary issues is to ask the question what would Jesus do? The answer is contained by reading the Bible, it’s in there. Similarly, folk of all persuasions like to play the what would Martin Luther King, Jr. do or think. Conservatives like to quote the “I have a Dream” speech for evidence that there should be a “color-blind” society. Moi guesses “liberals” are calling themselves “progressives” or maybe they are still “liberals” like to quote anything from Dr. King which advances their agenda. People change, grow, and often modify their views or time. The best indicator of what a person was thinking is what they left behind in terms of conversations particularly if their life was ended too soon. Moi read this self-serving pronouncement from a group of church folk, which was reported in the Seattle article, Pro-gun protest ‘shockingly insensitive’ — area clergy:

Seattle religious leaders have drawn up a letter, with 201 signatures as of early Friday, decrying as “shockingly insensitive” a pro-gun rally scheduled at “high noon” Saturday in Olympia, during the weekend of the national holiday honoring assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The letter will be released on Friday morning.

“We find it shockingly insensitive to Dr. King’s message, and contemptuous of his legacy, to celebrate the very instrument of his assassination during a holiday weekend dedicated to his memory,” said a draft of the clergy statement.  “The way to honor Dr. King’s memory is to condemn violence and to oppose any and all racial hatred, and we call on gun rights activists to join us in doing this rather than in focusing on the very means of Dr. King’s murder.”

Moi understands that many in the faith community do not like guns because their abhor violence, but shockingly insensitive? Really folks, you need thicker skin to exist in a world where oil worker hostages get blown up.

So, let’s play that game what would Dr. King do or think when confronted with a group exercising their FIRST AMENDMENT rights? If one reads the actual text of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” one is struck by the references to the U.S. Constitution, a document which he put his faith in to bring equality to those disenfranchised. Here is a portion of that speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Piers Morgan refers to the U.S. Constitution as “that little book.” Well, that little book is a bit like the Bible. Folk like to pick and choose passages from the Bible that suit their purpose and discard portions that they don’t like. Most Bible scholars agree on rules of construction for how the Bible is to be read and interpreted. So it is with the U.S. Constitution. One cannot discard the FIRST AMENDMENT or the SECOND AMENDMENT because one finds them or people who exercise their rights under the Constitution “shockingly insensitive.” The Constitution guarantees ,like the Grace of God protect the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

Too bad those who are asking what would Dr. King do, don’t have the same faith in the U.S. Constitution that Dr. King did.

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The 01/20/13 Joy Jar

19 Jan

We are living in what used to be a first world nation. Because the economy has driven so many out of the middle class and into survival, there are still things that one takes for granted.  Seattle has a wonderful municipal water system and the tap water is quite good. But, even bottled water is plentiful. We don’t realize that in many parts of the world clean and safe water that won’t make one sick or dead is a rarity. Today’s deposit in the ‘Joy Jar’ is clean water.

“Five million people die unnecessarily each year because of illness related to lack of potable water. Half of them are children under the age of five. To bring it home, think about this: one child dies from lack of clean water every twelve seconds.”

         Thomas M. Kostigen, You Are Here: Exposing the Vital Link Between What We Do and What That Does to Our Planet

By polluting clear water with slime you will never find good drinking water.

                                         Aeschylus quotes

“When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.”

                                                                            Benjamin Franklin

“When you drink the water, remember the spring.”

                                                                             Chinese Proverb

“We have the ability to provide clean water for every man, woman and child on the Earth. What has been lacking is the collective will to accomplish this. What are we waiting for? This is the commitment we need to make to the world, now.”

                 Jean-Michel Cousteau

“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.”

  Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

 “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

                                                                         W.H. Auden

“Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other.”

  John Thorson