Month: March 2010

Flooding in Providence

Thus far we’ve gotten 7.2 inches of rain and it hasn’t stopped yet. Did get a brief respite this afternoon but we’re getting more rain this evening.

The first indication that something isn’t quite right:

Atwells Ave Flooding
Atwells Ave Flooding

You can see the section of Atwells Ave, right next to the fire station, that the river is overflowing. Now keep in mind this river runs about 3+ feet below grade level almost all the times so this means there is about a 4 foot swell.

In this shot you can see the river in the left hand background.

Parking Lot
Parking Lot

Here is where Eagle St. connects to Valley St. There’s a reason they call it Valley St btw.

Eagle St
Eagle St

They’ve already declared state of emergencies in most counties in RI including Providence. They’re saying this is a flood you get once every hundred years.

And now I’m hearing this is a 500 year flood. Interesting.

Here’s the DOT map of flooding:

DOT Flood Map
DOT Flood Map

Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a walk over to the barrier and get pix there.

Great Frank Rich Op-Ed in the NYT

Click here and read the Op-Ed. It summarizes what I’ve said ever since Obama became a candidate for President.

Short summary – all of the Tea Party, or as I like to call them Tea Bagger rage is rooted in racism. Even though Obama is half white they’ll still apply the old one drop rule. I dare say that if you know about what genetic scientists have been doing, we ALL have at least ‘one drop’. I’m talking about the likelihood that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa.

And here is what I’ve always said ever since Obama became a candidate for the presidency.

If you really want to bring out the racists, the misogynists, homophobes and general bigots against the disable and the poor, run a disabled, black lesbian. You cover all of it in one swoop.

An interesting Saturday Morning

So early (9AM) this morning I got a tour of the West Broadway School and the Asa Messer School.

It was sponsored by the WSPEC, WBNA and NOMADS (Ok, lets break em’ down: West Side Public Education committee, West Broadway Neighborhood Association, and I cannot for the life of me decipher or remember what NOMADS means!).

Apparently the Providence School Department is looking to shuffle things up and re-open the West Broadway school on Bainbridge Ave. in the city. So we went to brainstorm about what we want to see in schools.

One woman was adamantly opposed to splitting k-2 and 3-5 between two buildings that are one half mile apart The reason being, she has siblings that are only two grades apart, on in 1st the other in 3rd. But here is my point, the schools (West Broadway and Asa Messer) are only about .4 miles apart. A healthy adult can walk that in < 10 minutes, a child maybe 12-15 minutes.

I don't buy her arguments. I also heard that West Broadway was closed due to egress issues. The main reason, because younger kids move a little bit slower they didn't want them trampled by the older kids. My experience going to a K-8 Catholic school says you had regular fire drills and you showed kids how to evacuate the building in orderly fashion.

Another thing that came out was maximum class sizes. The number of students per classroom suggested by groups was 14 to 18. Right now the range is 20 to 26, hence my astonishment because in the Catholic schools they really pack em' in at 40 kids to a classroom. .

A couple of the groups brought up better math and science curricula. But as I alluded t in another post reading is a big problem. I even brought that up with the newest member of the Providence School Board who I believe is Kathleen Crain.

It was noted by several people that attendance at this forum was for the most part white people. Not only very white but older. I often wonder why it is we don't see the people in our community at these things.

Other pols in attendance, city councilman and candidate for mayor John Lombardi, Rep. Steven Costantino (D District 8 – Federal Hill, Broadway), Rep. Anastasia Williams (D District 9 – Western end of the city toward upper south side).
and Sen. Paul Jabour (D District 5, downtown, Federal Hill, Olneyville) and if I missed anyone my apologies.

Some interesting things came out of the brainstorm. Greater use of technology, an outdoor garden space (You can do it indoors too!) and more arts and music programs were suggested. We've gotten far away from that in the quest to make the test these days. And there really isn't any room to hire and art or music teacher. It's sad but it's the reality of education in the 21st century.

Tech: Maybe a class action against Apple?

I’m considering starting a class action against Apple under ADA statutes.

The reason, I have hearing problems. I love my Motorola S9’s because it gets the sound right to the eardrum but I’m miffed that Apple doesn’t support the track select or microphone in the 2G iPod Touch running the iPhone OS 3.1.3. With the recent introduction of Line-2 (A cheap, $15 a month solution for voice telephony when in range of Wifi) I’d like to use the earphones I paid for in that fashion. And since I have hearing problems, the use of the S9’s is pretty much required.

So what say you all? We really need to knock Apple’s “We do no wrong” attitude to the curb.

Education: RI shouts that 4th and 8th graders are proficient in reading*

*But the reality is far from what they would have you believe is the truth.

If you wish you can go the NEAP site and drill down for your state.

I’m going to focus on 8th grade students in Rhode Island since that is where I live. The reason I care about this is that when I get older these are the people that are going to be in charge and if they can’t read, I don’t think we’re going to be very well off since if you can’t read and understand what it is you’re reading, you will not be able to tell when for example corporations write legislation that benefits said corporations and not the people.

So first let us look at the overall RI scores for reading as opposed to National. RI is the lighter shade of blue on the graph:

RI Overall 8th Grade Reading compared to National
RI Overall 8th Grade Reading compared to National

Statistically speaking RI pretty much matches the national standards for 8th grade reading. The rates are abysmal btw. In other words a little less that 2/3’s of 8th graders on a national and RI level cannot read at even a basic level.

Where it gets more interesting is when you break RI down by racial categories, Black, Hispanic and White. A disturbing trend emerges.

RI Breakdown for Black 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for Black 8th Grade Students

How is it that 50%, or HALF of Black students are below basic reading skill levels in the 8th grade? This makes no sense whatsoever, ostensibly students speak English as their first language so how is it they’re failing at such high levels? Could it possibly be economic in nature, you bet your sweet ass that it probably is.

But more astonishing, look at the scores for Hispanic students.

RI Breakdown for Hispanic 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for Hispanic 8th Grade Students

They’re roughly the same as for Black students. Except some Hispanic students have the language barrier to break through. But even they’ve made some progress, a 9 point difference from 2007 to 2009, more interesting it the 5 point jump in at or above proficient.

If you want my opinion ESL is a joke. They give a child 3 years of ESL and expect them to be fluent in the language. I had three years of high school Spanish and I’m nowhere near fluent though getting better since I started studying Italian.

To expect that a kid is going to be fluent in 3 years is ludicrous.

And just for reference, here are the scores for white kids:

RI Breakdown for White 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for White 8th Grade Students

A bit over a quarter of white kids can’t read at a basic level. This goes to economic issues. So long as we have such a wide gap in income, we’ll have poorly educated children.

It’s almost as if this is by design. Imagine if all groups were above the 50% mark for proficient. It would be a very different world. And RI needs to tone down the accolades for itself. They’re doing a mediocre job at best.

Tech: Tame Firefox Memory Usage

There used to be a memory fix for older versions of Firefox 2 but when 3 came around the folks at Mozilla felt confident it’d be better at memory management. They were wrong. It did stuttering wonders to iTunes because Firefox and iTunes are the two biggest memory users.

Well, now there’s Memory Fox. It’s reduced my Firefox memory usage from over 200MB down to 100MB. It just flushes the memory on a constant basis that way the turds that Firefox leaves don’t accumulate and cause your system to do stuttering wonders.

TMI #229 – The Spring Edition

1. With warm weather on the horizon, what outdoor activity are you most looking forward to?

Not having to bundle up like Nanook of the fucking North to go for a walk.

2. Ever found any strange items while Spring cleaning? If so, what?

The odd bit of electronic devices. But other than that nothing truly unusual. But let me warn you, you have never experience pain until you’ve stepped on a 40 pin IC laying pins up and you’ve got nothing but socks on your feet. Ouch!

3. Daylight savings time was this month…what were you doing when you lost an hour?

Surfing the web.

4. What are some weird home remedies that you have tried to cure allergies or seasonal colds?

I’m a great believer in better living through chemistry so I’ll stick to the OTC medications.

5. If you could change the tune of the ice cream truck to any song, which would you change it to and why?

Shake Your Rump to the Funk by the Bar-Kays.

Or maybe Shake Your Groove Thing by Peaches and Herb

But then how about this:

Bonus (optional): What’s your craziest Spring Break memory? Explain.

Never did the spring break thing.

Why abortion should remain legal

I found this over on The Gaytheist Agenda blog.

We’ll begin with the Chris Matthews’ Hardball interviewing Rhode Island Bishop Thomas J. Tobin:

Part I

Part II

Let me say that Matthews definitely spanks the hell out of the Bishop. I watched this with much glee.

Now my refutation of what Tobin says. To begin I present thirty minutes of video about what happened to women who had abortions when it was illegal. I’ll elaborate at the end of the videos.

When Abortion Was Illegal

Part I

Part II

Part III

Here we go. In the first two videos we see RI Bishop Thomas Tobin going on about the sanctity of life. I won’t even ask what the position of Catholics are when it comes to unnecessary warfare, or the death penalty. That could well make the head of a Catholic explode.

Instead I’ll ask the Bishop about those women who died or who were rendered sterile though botched abortions, was their life worth anything? They paid the ultimate price for seeking what we know as back alley abortions. All because of the Churches interference in the political sphere at the end of the 19th century until now.

It’s pretty obvious where women rank in the Catholic church. Just look at nuns, the Brides of Christ. But nuns seem to understand that life is full of gray area. They are down in the trenches with the people, in the schools and in the hospitals. The priests on the other hand occupy that rarefied territory, in that eternal buffer zone from the unwashed masses. But nuns take that abject vow of poverty and by golly they have to stick to it and they are subservient to the priestly class.

And then of course the attitude of the hierarchy toward women in general is abhorrent. Look at the church stance on birth control. Funny enough it was during my junior year in high school that we discussed human sexuality. The Brother teaching the class mentioned the rhythm method. He told us that people who practiced that method had another name, parents. Kind of heretical when you think about it. This was also the same Brother who told us the Two Dogs Fucking joke.

But women in the Catholic church have but one choice if they wish to serve God, be a nun. Otherwise no contraception and no abortion. The church needs to keep it’s flock up.

That is the other thing I need to express to Bishop Tobin. Only 49% of RI is Catholic. Why should we the other 51% (Of that, only 31% practice some other form of religion, the remaining 20% are atheist/agnostic) have to live by your rules?

The church has had over two millennium to get it right and has failed miserably at it.

On an up note I leave you with “Every Sperm is Sacred” from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”

A good argument for trying Benedict XVI (And Tobin mis-speaks)

Go and read the article and then come back. My apologies to Heretic Tom for scooping this in the blogsphere.

The most damning part of the article is this:

Yet this is exactly what we are forced to read about every day. The happiness and the health of countless children was systematically destroyed by men who could count on their clerical bosses to shield them from legal retribution and, it seems, even from moral condemnation. A bit of “therapy” or a swift change of locale was the worst that most of them had to fear.

And Benedict XVI is in the center of this both from his time as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1980, as well as his time in the Vatican prior to his becoming pope when he sent a letter to all Bishops telling them that “…to refuse cooperation with any inquiry…”

He’s pretty much neck deep in this scandal. And it isn’t just confined to Ireland where his pastoral letter danced around an actual apology and instead tried to transfer some of the blame for molested children onto the parents.

For this to come from the titular head of the Catholic church amuses me greatly. Benedict XVI knows his goose is cooked.

And in more news, Bishop Thomas Tobin puts his foot in his mouth with this statement when asked about abortion by Chris Matthews:

“…on laws that protect and preserve human right..”

Little slip up there Tobin? Do you mean to say that perhaps I have rights as a gay person? What??? What???

Why are most RI Candidates for Governor for marriage equality?

I was reading this Mark Green piece about being on the right side of history on the Huffington Post. It’s about being on the right side of history but it touches on all the rights battles that have been fought since the mid 19th century.

Here’s what Green has to say about gay marriage:

– Gay Rights. Although all state referenda have voted down same-sex marriage, usually narrowly, can anyone seriously doubt the trend line? Since the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have just said that don’t-ask/don’t tell hurts the military – and since a majority of Americans over 60 oppose gay marriage while a majority under 30 support it – the issue for gays is not whether but when. And when they win these rights and nothing happens to heterosexual couples, it’s not hard to predict which party will gain politically and which won’t.

It’s a combination of age and religiosity. Age is the critical component here.

Democratic candidates:
Patrick Lynch – 44 (Supports Marriage Equality)
Frank Caprio – 44 (Supports Marriage Equality)

The Independents:
Lincoln Chafee – 51 (Supports Marriage Equality)
Todd Giroux – 40 (Supports Marriage Equality)

Moderate Party:
Ken Block – 44 (Supports Marriage Equality)

John Robitaille – 62 (Does not support Marriage Equality)

Those 55 and under seem to support marriage equality while those 60 and over tend to be less supportive. Robitaille the Repug candidate is just parroting the Carcieri line and Carcieri is parroting the NOM line. It’s really amusing to watch this.

And we definitely know that those 18 to 29 overwhelmingly support full equality.

Comes down to knowing gay people. Those of us 50 and under know gay people, have people in our family that are gay (In mine we’re pretty well represented!).

So the trend is toward more acceptance. It explains why the bigots like the Massachusetts Family Institute, the National Organization for Marriage, and others like the FRC, AFA et al are so vicious about it.

It is why their hue and cry is all about the children. Because they see that 80%+ support figure and are horrified that kids might learn that it’s ok if you’re LGBT.