February 2011
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Month February 2011

I’ll make it as easy for you as I can

(via Steve Loffredo)

The White Whale

(via The Selvedge Yard)

NY Post: The Chancellor earns a dunce cap

The Chancellor earns a dunce cap, N.Y. Post, Feb. 19, 2011, at 22.

Schools Chancellor Cathie Black hung a kick-me sign on herself yesterday, foolishly refusing to inject a little common sense into the Department of Education’s ridiculously inflexible “zero-tolerance” bullying policy and doing the right thing by a nine-year-old Upper East Side boy.

The lawyers win another one.

The youngster had written “kick me” on a Post-it note, stuck it on the back of a 4th-grade classmate — and promptly was suspended.

Clear English being something of a novelty among educators these days, PS 158 Principal Darryl Alhadeff said the youngter’s prank was “in violation of the Discipline Code and is classified as ‘infraction A37′ — engaging in bullying behavior — and will result in a Principal’s Suspension for a period of two days.”

Budget innovations

The state of Michigan approved a plan for Detroit to close about half of its public schools and increase the average size of high-school classrooms to 60 students over the next four years to eliminate a $327 million deficit.

The plan was submitted in January by Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools’ emergency financial manager, as a last-ditch scenario if the district couldn’t find new revenue sources, which it hasn’t so far. Final approval came after Mike Flanagan, the state superintendent of public instruction, cleared Mr. Bobb’s initial plan with some new requirements, including that the district not file for bankruptcy protection during Mr. Bobb’s remaining months in office.

(via Wall Street Journal)

The war on science

Guardian: House Republicans cut funding to UN climate science body

America is to cut off all funding to the United Nations climate science panel under sweeping Republican budget cuts that seek to gut spending on environmental protection.

The funding ban to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – stripping $2.3m (£1.31m) from an international organisation that relies heavily on volunteer scientists – was among some $61bn (£38bn) in cuts voted through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Saturday.

If enacted, the cuts package would reduce spending on environmental protection by nearly one-third, or about $3bn (£1.85bn), advancing a key objective of the conservative Tea Party of dismantling government regulation.

The cuts also exhibit the strong hostility to climate science among the Tea Party activists with funding bans on the IPCC and a newly created climate information service under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – a reorganisation which was to be funded out of existing budgets.

Sidewalk Rage

You don’t need a car to get road rage.

For many people, few things are more infuriating than slow walkers—those seemingly inconsiderate people who clog up sidewalks, grocery aisles and airport hallways while others fume behind them.

Researchers say the concept of “sidewalk rage” is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,” researchers say. On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members.

… Signs of a sidewalk rager include muttering or bumping into others; uncaringly hogging a walking lane; and acting in a hostile manner by staring, giving a “mean face” or approaching others too closely, says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who studies pedestrian and driver aggression.

… A 2006 study by the City of New York and the NYC Department of City Planning showed smokers walk 2.3% slower than the average walker’s 4.27 feet per second. Tourists creep along at an 11% more-leisurely rate than the average walker, while cellphone talkers walk 1.6% slower, according to the study. Headphone wearers, by contrast, clipped along at a 9% faster rate than average.

(via WSJ In The Lab)

Wisconsin Leads Way as Workers Fight State Cuts

Michael Cooper & Katharine Q. Seelye, Wisconsin Leads Way as Workers Fight State Cuts, N.Y. Times, Feb. 19, 2011, at A1.

The unrest in Wisconsin this week over Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to cut the bargaining rights and benefits of public workers is spreading to other states.

Already, protests erupted in Ohio this week, where another newly elected Republican governor, John Kasich, has been seeking to take away collective bargaining rights from unions.

… The images from Wisconsin — with its protests, shutdown of some public services and missing Democratic senators, who fled the state to block a vote — evoked the Middle East more than the Midwest.

American Shame

Charles M. Blow, Empire at the End of Decadence, N.Y. Times, Feb. 19, 2011, at A23.

America is great in many ways, but on a whole host of measures — some of which are shown in the accompanying chart — we have become the laggards of the industrialized world. Not only are we not No. 1 — “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” — we are among the worst of the worst.

Life in a Northern Town

(via this isn’t happiness)

Woman who dumped condiments in book drop pleads guilty

An Idaho library has closed the book on a string of condiment attacks against its book-drop now that the ketchup-wielding criminal has been jailed, a Boise librarian said on Saturday.

“We’re relieved it’s resolved; it’s been going on for a while,” Ann Costello, reference librarian at Ada County Community Library, said of a caper that began in 2009 when library books in a drive-up drop-box were smothered with substances like corn syrup.

Joy Cassidy, 75, Boise, pleaded guilty on Friday to malicious injury to property stemming from what police said were more than 10 assaults on the book-drop totaling more than $1,000 in damages.