President Bush, scheduled to speak on the opening night of the GOP convention, might not be there since he may be headed to the Gulf coast region instead. He has already declared states of emergency for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. McCain and Palin will be in Jackson, Mississippi today.
I know that art is a subjective thing, beauty-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder and all that, but it takes an awful lot of stretching to call this sculpture of a frog holding a beer mug and an egg while nailed to a cross a piece of art. It's called "Feet First," and it will remain on display in a Bolzano, Italy museum exhibit despite the Pope's vocal displeasure, though his argument is of a more religious bent than mine. The regional government's argument contends that the sculpture is a "blasphemy and a disgusting piece of trash that upsets many people," especially the region's president that went on a hunger strike to protest the display of the sculpture. Yet the art experts and museum president decided unanimously to keep it on display anyway. Human angst is what it's causing, though why anyone would take it seriously enough to be upset by it is beyond me. German artist Martin Kippenberger's frog will land in New York City and Los Angeles soon. American's will not be denied art, even if it does belong on a bar-room wall.
Syed Mustafa Zaidi was found guilty of child cruelty in a British court today for forcing two boys age 13 and 15 to beat themselves with a "zanjeer zani" with 5 curved blades. The self-flagellation happened during a religious ceremony dedicated to a Shia Muslim spiritual leader.
I can't think of anything to say about this. I'm speechless. And absolutely horrified.
I became confused when I heard these terms with reference to the word "service:"
Internal Revenue Service
US Postal Service
State, City and County Public Service
This is not what I thought "service" meant. But, today, I overheard two farmers talking, and one of them said he had hired a bull to "service" a few cows, then...BAM! It all came into focus. Now I understand what all those "service" agencies are doing to us.
I hope you are as enlightened as I am.
In other news, an Arapahoe County, Colorado inmate, Marc Harold Ramsey, sent John McCain's Denver campaign office a threatening letter that said, "Senator McCain, If you are reading this then you are already DEAD! Unless of course you can't or don't breathe." The envelope included a white, powdery substance that turned out to be harmless. Still awaiting his court date for charges of menacing, assault, contempt and fugitive from justice, Ramsey now faces 5 years in a federal prison and a $250,000 fine. This just added another ring to the circus.
I've just finished switching the template for eyebald. What a task! (I probably won't be doing it again any time soon. Whew!) The content is the same, but there are a few things in new places.
- The comments count is now at the top of each article, and you can click on the article headline to read and leave your comment.
- To subscribe to the eyebald feed in your favorite reader, click on "RSS" in the menu bar along the top of the page, and along the bottom.
- There is a link at the bottom of the page to zoom you right back up to the top again.
- There are links at the end of every post that allow you to Digg, Stumble, Technorati and Delicious.
With the economy as the most important issue in voters' minds, McCain seems to have a stronger grasp, due to his push for increased off-shore drilling. Obama once said he opposed the expansion of off-shore drilling but now supports it as part of a total economic package. This flip-flopping has hurt him with liberal voters, and support within his own party slipped 9 points. Overall, his drop in popularity is across the board, with no particular voter group showing wild swings.
Matt Whitton, the police officer on medical leave and who lost his job over this fraud, and his cohort Rick Dyer are nowhere to be found now. The two ingeniously froze the body of what they claimed was a Bigfoot in a huge block of ice and then sold it during the latest media craze to researchers for an undisclosed amount. As the ice slowly melted, the scientists found empty, rubber toes and a hollow head, and hair that balled up like plastic when heated. Are you surprised?
Good game, guys. Enjoy the rest of your lives on that tropical island.
According to an article in Time this morning, one out of seven schools are seriously considering a four day school week with Mondays off. While school districts struggle with the high cost of diesel fuel, the budget-cutting options are few and, in one way or another, detrimental to the quality of education children receive.
Where schools can cut back is on field trips, extracurricular activities that require busing, they can lay teachers off, close schools entirely, or shrink bus routes and cancel busing service entirely. The four day school week seems to be the lesser of the evils to many school boards. The school day will be extended an hour and breaks shortened so that students spend the same amount of time in the classroom.
Though the four-day schedule would be a substantial savings in fuel, payroll, insurance and building utilities, there have been no formal studies on the impact a condensed schedule would have on student performance. A few districts in rural areas of states such as Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota that have already changed to the shortened school week reported a decrease in absenteeism in both students and teachers and some academic gains if the school then invests freed monies in instructional content and tutors.
What may be a solution for today may have long-term, very detrimental effects on education. Time spent in school is a known, positive and extensively studied factor in academic performance. The US has a shorter academic year than all other industrialized nations, and the result is correspondingly lower achievement rates in math and language skills. "All the evidence says the more hours our schools are open, the better off our kids are... Cutting days puts our country's economic future at risk."
The four-day school week will shift the economic hardship from schools directly to parents. Briefly acknowledged in the Time article, the impact of the shortened school schedule will cause a major burden for households already stretched to the breaking point by high food, gas and utility costs. Younger children will need additional childcare, which is already expensive, on top of the additional gas it will take to drive them to childcare. With children home another day, grocery lists will grow, taking another chunk out of the family budget. Add this to the cost of buying school supplies and new clothes, and it could sink families already struggling with the escalating cost of living. And with colder weather on the way, this is not a good time to add even more strife to an already stressed and difficult financial situation.
Ideally, kids could use the extra day off to work on school projects and homework. But, is it fair to make children responsible for their own education? How likely is it that an exhausted teenager will use the extra day off productively? Left unsupervised, how many kids will get into trouble? How is it an option to shift schools' financial woes to families and children -- and, our country's future?
Back in early June, two hikers, one a police officer on leave, discovered this body of a 500 pound, 7-foot-7-inch, half-man, half-ape creature. Armed with their video camera, they taped three other such creatures shadowing them along a wooded trail in North Georgia woods. Scientists say it's unlikely that a tribe of these creatures would go unnoticed in such a popular hiking area of the state, so the men handed the body over to Tom Biscardi, a "real" bigfoot hunter who knowingly promoted a false claim of a bigfoot discovery in 1995. Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer insist their claim is not a hoax, even though they put together a video and posted it to YouTube that said, ""It seems that the stalkers have busted us in a hoax,...but we still have a corpse. We just wanted to give you something to do for the weekend." Quite the publicity stunt to run in the national headlines for two days and counting.
US Military is now funding research into mind reading in the hopes to be able to hear the thoughts of soldiers that suffered brain injury, and, by the way, it would even work with stroke victims. Instead of Mr. Spock's five-fingered mind-meld, they place EEG electrodes to the scalp, then ask the participant to think of a particular word. A computer catalogs the brain waves associated with the word so that thought recognition software can then translate and speak it out loud. Forget that this could be used in interrogation. I say every parent of a teenager needs one of these! Unfortunately, scientists say, "This will never be used in a way without somebody's real, active cooperation." Darn.
Meet Nils Olav, Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian King's Guard, inspecting his troops. His elite unit is assigned to protect the royal family, and he takes his role seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he was awarded medals for good conduct and long service, and today he was knighted. He is now addressed as "sir."
In other news, the Census Bureau predicts that whites will be a minority with Hispanics the majority in the US by 2045, based on the current rates of births, deaths and immigration. In the meantime, our population is exploding. There are currently 305 million people in the US today, and that number is expected to increase to 400 million by 2039. Of course, things could change.
this face? Ah, JR Ewing, the most loved-to-hate charcter of the 1978 - 91 TV series "Dallas," is in the news today among all the other headlines to announce the show's 30th reunion on August 22. Meet Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy, tour the Southfork mansion, and enjoy country music and fireworks. The three actors will be available for a question and answer session, if the aged actors can stay awake. If you want to attend, tickets cost $100 - 1,000. Better hurry; that's next week already.
The Gwatney name is well known here in Arkansas, and Bill's tireless service to the state will be greatly missed. He owned three car dealerships, and served 10 years in the State Senate as well as being the state's Democratic Party chairman. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
Get this. Between 1998 and 2005, two-thirds of US and foreign owned corporations doing business in the US paid no federal income taxes, said a new report from Congress. The Government Accountability Office study shows corporations reported trillions in sales yet paid nothing to support our country. About 25% of these corporations were considered large corporations with at least $50 million in receipts. The GAO study did not report how these corporations avoided paying taxes, but there now is a call for them to "pay their fair share" from two Democratic senators.
If you ask me, this is something that should have been brought to the public eye a long time ago. The government exists to protect Big Business, yet they pay nothing for it. It's more than time to return the government to one that is "for the people, by the people."
Making fantasy a reality is now closer as scientists are making headway on creating a material that will render people and objects invisible. This artificially engineered metamaterial bends and redirects light and how it is reflected back to the eye "like water flowing around a smooth rock in a stream." The material is a mxiture of metal, Teflon and fiber that bends light enough so that three dimensional objects don't create reflections or shadows.
Bernie Mac, actor and commedian, died this morning from pneumonia. Known for his uplifting The Bernie Mac Show and as part of the Ocean's 11 team, Mac was chastised by the Democratic Party when he spoke at a fundraiser for Obama in July and joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity. (If the shoe fits...)
He suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease, but the pneumonia was unrelated to this condition. Mac was born in 1957 and raised in Chicago.
"Wherever I am, I have to play, I have to put on a good show."
If it is said often enough and long enough, it will become the accepted truth. I just wonder if three months is enough time to break through Obama's blind and feverish popularity to get down to the issues that need to be publicized instead of this crap. (And by the way, I've been heard calling him an antichrist myself.)
- In the last two months, four children have died while in Arkansas foster care, and two of the cases are being investigated for abuse.
- So far this year, 11 children have died within 12 months of an abuse report to DHS, with abuse as the cause of death. These children were not in foster care.
- The state of Arkansas is rated 45th for child protection because the mortality rate is above the national average.
There were roughly 9,000 children living in Arkansas foster care in 2006. There have been reports of rape, extreme physical abuse and starvation. Some foster children live four to a room, face padlocked refrigerators, prison-like rules and are not allowed to interact with the family. As horrifying as this is, it is not the full story...
What I learned as a caseworker.
Did you ever wonder why you never hear about the success stories of saving children from harm? How is it that thousands of children removed from abusive and neglectful parents to go on to lead happy and healthy lives are never story headlines?
Part of it, of course, is that horrible news sells newspapers. But the majority of the reason is that laws protect minors under the auspices of Family Law by keeping their information confidential and out of the public eye. This protection is an absolute necessity that prevents further victimization and stigma.
The protected and confidential nature of a child's life is damning since it keeps intact those walls and closed doors that so much horror happens behind.
Because so much of what happens occurs out of sight of the public eye, much more of the atrocities happen than is widely known while very little funding is funneled to services to protect children as a result. In Arkansas, child protective caseworkers' starting pay is, on average, $26,000 - 28,000 per year. People who become and stay caseworkers are there to make a difference for as long as they can tolerate the unbearable caseloads, extreme stress and low pay. Arkansas is 88% staffed, yet under a hiring freeze. It is highly doubtful that the situation is any different in most states across the US. Unless it is part of some politician's campaign strategy, very little light falls on child welfare.
The other side of the coin is society's definition of what is and is not child abuse and neglect. A child with an iPhone, Wii, designer clothes, computer and personal credit card may seem like the current standard of satisfactory care, this is obviously not reality. You may run into a mother with a baby in a soiled diaper in a store and immediately think that the mother is neglectful for not changing that diaper, even without knowing just when that baby pooped in its pants. A family may live in the country and allow their children to play outside for most of the day, holding to the tenet that a kid who isn't dirty didn't have fun, while a city-living family may send their child to the shower if its hands look dirty. Some parents spank, and others look at spanking as if it were capital punishment.
Child protective laws, therefore, are based on the lowest socially acceptable standard of care.
While you may think that a house with dust on the bookshelves, clutter on the counters and fingerprints on the windows is unfit for habitation, a caseworker can only remove a child from a home if the child is in imminent physical danger. If there are holes in the floor, exposed electrical wiring, sharp objects (knives, broken glass) and rotting food and animal feces on the floor, then a caseworker can remove a crawling baby from a home. If the child is, say between the ages of 3 and 5, the caseworker may be required to give the family time to clean up before the child is remanded.
Even if a caseworker knows without a shadow of doubt that a parent is drunk or under the influence of drugs, there is nothing that can be done unless that caseworker witnesses the parent taking or smoking a drug or putting a child into a car and getting behind the wheel with an open can of beer in hand.
The majority of a caseworker's job is to make home visits. Trust me when I tell you that any social services person knocking on a door is at risk of bodily harm, and they make home visits alone. Very few people that come in contact with a caseworker open the door with a smile on their face.
It is my understanding that a caseworker must have contact with clients at least once every 30 days, even with children in foster homes or other alternative placements. Required or not, I don't see how that would be humanly possible with 350-500 average open cases at all times, especially in as rural a state as Arkansas is. Many caseworkers go into the job unprepared for what they will face on a daily basis and burn out quickly. They do their best to make a difference while all the time running into brick walls as to what they are allowed to do.
Education is key, or 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'
I've said this thousands of times until I'm blue in the face. It takes education to prevent teen pregnancy, to learn parenting skills, to support the family and money to train caseworkers, teachers and those in the medical professions to educate as well. Kids aren't born with an instruction manual in hand.
I learned a very valuable lesson while doing an internship. I went with a caseworker on a home visit. What I saw when the client opened the door was so much dirt on the floor it hid the carpet, dirty dishes and clothes everywhere, garbage, and a very dirty child dressed only in an extremely dirty cloth diaper in the dead of winter. The caseworker said to me, "What do you expect? The only way that mother has to learn about child care and maintaining a household is watching soap operas on TV. How many times have you seen a soap opera character clean house or change a diaper?"
Take home message.
I've only scratched the surface of this issue. My point is that it is necessary to get far more of the facts than this sensationalist news story presented before you draw any conclusions. Most importantly, just because child welfare isn't in the news doesn't mean that everything is in fine working condition. That so many children have died is proof that everything is not OK.