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Entries from blogs tagged with “Citizen Journalism Academy”

Lawrence, The Way It Was

If you're a long time Lawrence resident, here's a little quiz to see what you remember about Lawrence the way it was...

  1. Where and what was Griff's?
  2. What major retail chain had a store where the Antique Mall is now located. (Hint, it has moved again since then). For extra credit, where did it move to before moving to its present location?
  3. Name a store that is now located where Woolworth's used to be located.
  4. Bucky's originally had another name, what was it?
  5. Where did George's Hobby Shop used to be located?
  6. What was the name of the drive-in theater that was located on 6th Street near where Sonic is now located?
  7. There was yet another drive-in theater in town, where was it? For extra credit what was its name. Please tell me, I don't know.
  8. Where was the Vista drive-in located?
  9. What is the name of the restaurant that occupied the building where Bambino's is now?
  10. Where was the "Campus Hideaway" located?

Extra credit if you: 1. Went to a movie at either of the drive-in theaters mentioned above. 2. Actually climbed on the train in the "Train Park" (Buford M. Watson, Jr. Park) before the fence was placed around it. 3. Ever saw Leo Beuerman in his little cart downtown. Triple extra credit if you ever bought a pencil from him.

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A good place to start

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2007/Dec/18/womens_way.gif photo from CarbonNYC on flickr.comA title says a lot. I chose "Feminist Findings in Lawrence" because the goal of the blog is to discuss the activities, opinions, challenges and experiences of women in the area. There are a million different feminisms. I love exploring all the definitions. My definition of feminism is basic: feminists value women. I look forward to delving into all the important gender issues in our community with you.

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In-Box or Mailbox

The New York Time published an article Sunday, December 16, by Phyllis Korkki entitled Still Choosing the Mailbox Over the In-Box.In the article Ms Korkki noted that today 275 million first-class cards and letters are expected to be mailed. From Thanksgiving to Christmas the USPS estimates 20 billion cards, letters, packages and other pieces of mail will be handled.Korkki goes on to say many thought the Internet would be the beginning of the end of the USPS. Instead, the Internet, especially the online shopping aspect, has created the need for hard copy as well as a service to ship the packages. Consequently, since 2001, the first class volume of mail has remained fairly steady.Finally, Korkki says,"...although email is now a permanent part of the communication landscape, the old-fashioned letter is far from dead...."I agree. It is a great feeling to open my mailbox and find a letter from family or friends. I can reread it as often as I like and save it for reference later when I return the favor. And, sometimes the short three sentence notes are meaningful. My grand kids love to receive a note about something significant in their lives.What do you think. Do you still choose the mailbox over the in-box?

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The Old Windmill

A little over a hundred years ago, if you'd been driving...your horse and buggy...down 9th street out by Emery Rd, you might have seen something like this.

I found two links with information about the windmill, both articles are from the Journal World:

The picture was used in this article from earlier this year about the print room at the Spencer Museum of Art.

Back in 2004, there was this article about Lawrence landmarks.

Does anyone remember the Windmill apartments that used to be in that area? Now I know where the name came from.
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Anatomy of an Ice Storm

It is Monday evening and a major ice storm forecast looms. My backup front wheel drive 1987 model car is ready for my ninety mile route. With studded snow tires in front, it is better than four-wheel drive on ice.Tuesday morning it is raining steadily. The temperature lingers at freezing. I am not sure I have seen an ice storm begin with so much water run off. By noon it is running over the low water bridge on Deer Creek. Slowly the temperature drops and ice begins to accumulate on trees, fences and electrical wires. Trees bend more and more under the weight. Lines must be going down as the radio reports lost electricity.Low night temperatures and a thick coating of ice give way Wednesday morning to limbs, mainly Elm, lying under trees. Several times I hear a sharp crack and see a limb go down. Hardy cedar tree limbs simply bend to make a tent of ice forming a house underneath for rabbits and quail. Pines bend but hold. Oaks with leaves still attached have an extra burden. I saw one large branch loose the battle. With pastures frozen over, cattle stand at gates waiting for a bale of last summer's hay. Geese honk as they follow the Wakarusa Valley. Are they thinking of turning south? I would not blame them.I had company on the roads. Douglas County, Clinton and Kanwaka townships are busy blading and throwing sand. I wonder if they have been out all night as many roads and all bridges and steep hills are treated. A rancher with a big bale heads for the pasture. Along with me, brown, yellow and white delivery trucks bring holiday orders. It seems everyone else smartly stays home.Thursday dawns beautiful. There is no other word to describe the ice covered world under a clear sky and sunshine. Branches encased in ice radiated like stars or prism-like spectrum of colors. Ice on metal mailboxes melts from the inside out. A drive under a tree results in a barrage of ice falling like rain. Squirrels and turkeys, run about excited to feel the warmth on their backs. As the sun warms, steam rises. Birds, especially finches and sparrows fluttered in cedar branches. Hawks use warm updrafts from the melted fields to soar low looking for prey. Cattle spread out over the same fields grazing contently.Three days, the ice storm is history. In our area, most have electricity. Trees survive although some still bend as ice clings on northern exposures.What's next? Snow.

December 2007
Click on picture for pictures of the ice storm.
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Righting the baseball ship

Steroids, human growth hormones, cheating. Confirming what many suspected or already knew, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Mitchell explained yesterday that performance-enhancing substances are a significant problem in Major League Baseball.The most important thing to emerge is, as Senator Mitchell noted, how does baseball look to the future? Senator Mitchell made recommendations to the league and the players union as to how they may be better able to reduce or eliminate banned substances from the game. But the investigation missed an opportunity to make real change.Establishing a department of investigations, cooperating with law enforcement, turning over testing to an independent agency with real authority, better publicity of the rules, logging packages and better education and awareness are the core of the panel's suggestion of how to reduce the use of performance enhancing substances.Give me a break.Are there any players who don't know the rules? Are there players who won't have steroids shipped to their homes now instead of the stadium? Was the league obstructing investigations by law enforcement officials (pretty sure that is a crime in itself)? The recommendations are more likely to produce the reaction "wow, I can't believe these policies weren't already in place, are the surprised everyone was breaking the rules?" than produce any meaningful change in the game.Problems with steroids happened with the full knowledge and tolerance of all parties. The players were writing checks for crying out loud. The only way any sane person would write a check for something genuinely against the rules or illegal is if they fear no retribution.Some say the league permitted this to happen because baseball needed help to recover from the strike in 1994. Home runs are exciting and put fans in the seats. Others say it emerged as the superstars neared the end of their careers and needed an extra boost to break records or reach milestones. Regardless, the game has been severely damaged and requires dramatic measures to clean up its act.Rather than slap everyone on the wrist and implement policies that should have been in place years ago because they are the bare minimum of what should be in place, the following measures should also be enacted:1. Bud Selig should be required to resign. He was in charge, he either let this happen or he didn't have the ability to detect the problem. Neither possibility is a good one for the commissioner. He's out.2. Any players caught using performance enhancing substances (including those named in the report) shall be banned from membership in the Hall of Fame. Sorry guys, if you are not good enough for the Hall without steroids, you're not good enough for the Hall with them. More specifically, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be made to be definitive examples and warnings to all future players. Both were clearly qualified for the Hall of Fame without these substances. Both could be argued as two of the best of all time. Clemens may even be the best pitcher ever to play the game. Not any more. It is painful to realize and accept that neither should be considered for Cooperstown, but it will do wonders in cleaning up the game.3. Any records established by players associated with performance enhancing substances will be disqualified. Cheaters do not and cannot win (also true for Mr. Bonds who still lacks a World Series ring). Make notations next to the empty spots for any records explaining that the player who won the award or set the record was caught cheating and the award was rescinded/record reversed to the previous holder.4. First time offenses will be punishable by a two year suspension.Baseball is the national pastime. Steroids diminish the quality and integrity of the game, they should have no place in the game. Let's not make it more difficult to use performance enhancing substances, let's make it impossible to find a rationale to use them. These four additions should make a world of difference in cleaning up the game, much more than the "I can't believe these policies weren't already in place" recommendations by the panel.

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A Move’s a foot…

There is a movement underway to goad the presidential candidates into a debate on science policy. Given that so many of our issues today involve science, it is only fair that the voters get to hear candidate's views on science and science priorities. Visit the Science debate 2008 web site for more information and about how you can get involved.www.sciencedebate2008.com

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Mr. Moats

This summer there was a notice in the LJWorld online that a memorial service would be planned for Byron Moats and his wife, Nancy. Mr. Moats and his wife were killed in a car accident. Mr. Moats had only recently retired from a long and successful teaching career. When I heard the news of their deaths, I thought that the name Byron Moats sounded familiar. When I read that he had recently retired from Oak Park High School everything fell into place. Oak Park High School is in Kansas City, Mo., near Gladstone.I graduated from Oak Park High School in 1978. My K-12 school experience was rather chaotic and dysfunctional. I went to seven schools in two states. When it was time to graduate, I was short by either a quarter or half a credit. School officials let me go through the graduation ceremony with the rest of my class, but I had to take a class that summer to make up that credit shortfall. That's when I met Mr. Moats.As might be expected, I was not terribly happy to be stuck in a summer class when I was supposed to be done with school altogether. I thought it was a "pud" class with ridiculously easy work. But Mr. Moats made that class fun. I think he realized how awkward it might be for me to be there and he seemed to go out of his way to make me feel comfortable. At some point, he and I discussed the end of the class. I told him that I was sure that on the last day of class I would be presented with my high school diploma amid much fanfare. Mr. Moats told me that actually my diploma would be mailed to me. I was horribly disappointed and it showed. Mr. Moats took action.Unbeknownst to me, but known to all of my classmates, Mr. Moats arranged for me to receive my diploma on the last day of class. On the final day of class he asked me to go to the office with him. He didn't tell me why. I thought there was probably some paperwork that needed to be done. But instead, Mr. Moats had arranged for the school principal, assistant principal and a few other school officials to present my diploma to me with much pomp and circumstance. They presented the diploma to me, shook my hand and then clapped for me as if I had just won the Nobel Prize. I was thrilled and thanked Mr. Moats for making that happen. I couldn't believe he had gone to so much trouble for me. But that's the kind of person that he was. I don't know if Mr. Moats would have remembered me. But even though it has been nearly 30 years since I graduated from high school, I remember him and am deeply saddened that he is gone from this world. I wish that I could have told him that even with my inauspicious K-12 career, I managed to go to college eventually and currently hold a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration. I would have been proud for him to know that. Mine is just one story. I imagine there are many others from people who were touched by his kindness. The world is a lesser place without you, Mr. Moats, but many of us are much better people because you touched our lives. No doubt, heaven has a special place for you. Rest in Peace.

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Every Day Should Be A Snow Day

When I was younger I dreamed of snow days. Random days in the middle of a busy school week where I could sleep in, drink hot chocolate and see all the wonderful television I missed each day when I ventured off to school. I remember dancing at the site of the first snowflake and watching the evening news praying that our superintendent would be nice enough to give us the day off. What I didn't know was that along with thousands of school children, teachers were also eagerly watching the news and waiting. In my mind teachers loved school so much that they hated weekends and breaks. They sat at home depressed that there were no students to take tests or copy words onto a sheet of paper. They were lost without students who they forced to read a book they didn't want to and they missed being unable reprimand anyone for talking when they weren't supposed to. Boy, was I wrong. Now that I work at a school where I force students to read books and tell them to be quiet when they walk in the halls, I know that teachers look forward to the weekends more than anyone and that they started praying for snow days in mid-September. Because there I was Sunday night smiling at the weather forcast for freezing rain on Monday night. And there I was waiting for Lawrence Public Schools to appear under the closings on the evening news. When they did finally call off school I did a little dance and turned off my alarm. It's not that my job is terrible and unrewarding and I believe that most teachers love their students and only want what's best for them. But every once in awhile it's nice to have a day off where you can sleep in, watch bad TV and pretend you are a kid again.

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The Christmas Card

It's a beautiful, fragile world out there this morning. I nearly fell flat on my back as I stepped out in the dark to fetch the paper. It lay about halfway down the incline of our driveway, so, not wanting to break any vital bones with half my family out of town this week, I practically crawled the rest of the way on all fours while the rain pelted me.Even so, I couldn't help admiring the way all the trees down the block look like they're outlined in crystal. It seems somehow appropraite this time of year.Yesterday evening, my sister-in-law called to say my nephew's Christmas program had been postponed again because of the icy weather. I was afraid he'd be terribly disappointed after he's so looked forward to it. It's so hard to wait when you're six years old! But no, she said. He's okay as long as they do eventually have it.And so we're all safe inside . Yesterday, I addressed envelopes until my hand ached, and today I'll probably do thirty more...A Christmas CardTossed into the postman's sack Along with catalogues and bills,He'll carry me from block to blockOr wind along the country hills.Across two thousand miles, I'll come,To where the winter's warm and dry,Or maybe simply down the street, Delivered while the snowflakes fly.A piece of light from every star Is carried to you here in me,A very simple gift that can'tBe wrapped beneath your Christmas tree.A note of joy from every songThat I've heard sung this time of year,The smell of cinnamon and cloves, I have it all gathered up hereInto just another Christmas card To wish a Merry Christmas where you are.

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A Big Day in Boston!

If you are a Boston single, as of today you have a new option to find a mate. A company called scientificmatch.com has a new wrinkle in the match making game-matchmaking based on DNA analysis. The idea is to find a mate based on the compatibility of the genes related to characteristics of the immune system. The company's website claims:

"When you share chemistry with someone:

  • 1. You love their natural body odor. They smell "sexier" than other people.
  • 2. You have a more satisfying sex life.
  • 3. If you're a woman, you have more orgasms.
  • 4. There's significantly less cheating in your relationships than if your DNA isn't matched properly.
  • 5. As a couple, you're more fertile.
  • 6. Your children have a better chance of being healthy."
And there is peer reviewed science to back up at least some of these claims individually, much of which is cited on the company web site. In fact, I talk about some of this literature in my classes. But it is quite a leap from the basic scientific literature to the claim that DNA analysis can make for better matchmaking. Testing that hypothesis would seem would seem to require a whole other layer of analysis which doesn't appear to have been done. Also the site is a bit vague about how the genetic testing is done and what genes are examined.I must remain very skeptical for now. By the way, a one year membership costs $1,995.95. So if this system is an improvement over the old fashioned way of finding a mate-is that improvement great enough to make the cost worth it? This is especially true since the company makes the case that odor is an important part of compatibility. Maybe the company's owner ought to consider making little scratch and sniff tabs with arm pit odor that clients can give to each other. But perhaps that is not as sexy as DNA analysis.The web site suggests that the company is planning on expanding to other cities, so have a look and let me know what you think.
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Governor’s Child Abuse Task Force-Final Part

Governor's Child Abuse Task Force-Final RecommendationsRecommendations:3. The initial review and response to all intakes must include clear policies and procedures for social workers to follow.4. The improvement of the investigative and interview stage of child abuse and neglect cases is needed by requiring specific investigative and interview skills for all Child Protective Services (CPS) social workers and by developing and enhancing accredited Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) and Multidisciplinary Teams (MDT).5. Regular and on-going training must be mandated for all SRS staff who work in child protective services.These are the final recommendations of the Governor's Task Force. I don't think that there is any debate on recommendations 3 and 5. Training and revised policies and procedures almost always follow unfortunate results and revisiting what is done in these areas is always a good idea.Recommendation 4 deserves some comment and clarification. Special expertise is needed to determine what is being said. I think that this is a 3 part recommendation.1)Police or social workers? One of the ongoing debates in child protective services is whether social workers are the best people to be investigating child abuse or neglect. A bad result of an investigation frequently is followed with a recommendation to have police take over CPS. Police do have special expertise in investigating if a crime has been committed. However, not all child abuse or neglect situations are crimes. For example, judging when neglect requires state intervention is not an investigation of a crime. In addition, a previous post mentioned the large percentage of reports that are investigated where the report is for the non-abuse neglect situation of a child being without proper control. I think that few police would welcome the added responsibility of responding to these concerns. There is evidence that a joint investigation of child abuse situations by police and social workers is effective. Cross, Finkelhor & Ormrod (2005) found, among other things, that police involvement may promote CPS effectiveness and should be coordinated in every community. A close working relationship between CPS and the police is an essential ingredient in the community's response to child abuse and neglect. The police and social workers who testified at the Task Force meetings agreed with this assessment.There is another aspect to the collaboration between police and CPS staff. It is not uncommon for social workers to be asked to investigate a very dangerous situation. CPS staff are sometimes asked to neighborhoods or housing units that few of us would venture near. These staff need and deserve all of the protections available.2)Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs). Another part of this recommendation is developing and enhancing multidisciplinary teams. MDTs bring the professionals together that are needed to determine what needs to be done in a particular situation. Child abuse and neglect situations are frequently very complex. For example, a CPS worker might be confronted with a mother neglecting her children and diagnosed as developmental delayed and mentally ill. She may also be alcohol or drug dependent. Expecting a CPS worker or a police officer to have expertise in all of these areas is unrealistic. Professionals for substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and mental health are also needed. Jones, Cross, Walsh & Simone (2005) conclude that MDTs can improve investigation and case outcomes. This was widely agreed to by those people who testified at the Task Force meetings who had experience with MDTs. Every community should have MDTs as part of their child abuse and neglect response.3)Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC). Developing and enhancing CACs is the third part of this Task Force recommendation. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center (CCRC), Child Advocacy Centers are non-profit agencies designed to coordinate multidisciplinary investigations of child abuse in a child-friendly environment. CACs were begun in response to the complexity of investigations of child sexual abuse. Victims of sexual abuse can easily experience additional trauma by repeated interviews of their experiences. Police, county attorneys, social workers all need the information but they don't all need to interview the victim. In addition, if the interview is not done well, the trauma can be exasperated.Children's Advocacy Centers can be effective in coordinating investigations, conducting forensic interviews and referring children for mental health services. One of the interesting aspects of this recommendation is that it was part of Governor Sebelius' original charge to the Task Force. In the press release announcing the appointment of the Task Force (March 8, 2007), she proposed the creation of child advocacy centers and devoted $1 million in her budget to begin establishing them around the state. Several CACs already existed so this is really an expansion.I do think that it is curious that Governor Sebelius proposed this solution before the Task Force had an opportunity to access the problem. So of course the Task Force complied. Please understand I have nothing against children's advocacy centers. I just think that the solution should have come from the committee. In addition, the problem in the Wichita case was not sexual abuse for which CACs were designed and have demonstrated expertise. Given the range of recommendations in the Task Force Report and the state legislature's propensity to avoid spending money it is going to be difficult to fund all of the Task Force recommendations. Calling for funding of an expensive solution to a different problem than what was the situation in Wichita may not be the best solution.Stay tuned to see what happens in the next legislative session.

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ESPN video highlight

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3147433&categoryId=2564308&n8pe6c=3

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The X files

December 08, 2007Former Lawrence resident, Xavier Omon, continues to rewrite the D2 football records books as Northwest Missouri State downs Grand Valley State 34-16 in semi-final game.I hate the cold. I'm such a pansy I've considered moving to Florida to avoid another Midwest winter. However, I sat in 17 degree freezing rain Saturday evening to watch as my favorite football player helped his Northwest Missouri State Bearcats become eligible for their third consecutive Division 2 national championship and I never felt warmer. I've written an article previously about former Lawrence resident, Xavier Omon's bid to set a new NCAA rushing record by gaining over 1500 yards in four straight years at Northwest Missouri State. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/nov/10/bearcat_brink_ncaa_record/?sportsOmon's team hosted the Grand Valley State Lakers Saturday night in Maryville, Mo. An estimated crowd of 7296 braved the elements to root for their Bearcats who had fallen to their Grand Valley Lakers counterparts the past two years in the D2 national championship game in Florence, Alabama by a combined total of seven points. As Bearcat coach Mel Tjeersdsma states, ""I'm glad number 2 [Omon] plays for us and not anyone else. We had tremendous effort on both sides of the ball tonight".The excitement at the nationally televised semifinal match was palpable in the frigid Maryville, Mo air. The task to upset the Lakers would not be easy. Grand Valley had won 40 straight games, their last loss coming at the hands of North Dakota in 2004.The game was hard fought from the coin toss Saturday night. Grand Valley scored first and took a 13-10 lead into half-time. The second half clearly belonged to Omon and the rest of the Bearcats. The Bearcats scored 24 points in the second half while holding their opponents to six points. Omon finished the game with 292 total rushing yards and 11 yards receiving. He has now rushed for over 7000 yards in his four years at Northwest Missouri State. Omon scored four touchdowns on the night with the longest being a 98 yard run after Grand Valley State punt pinned Northwest Missouri State down at their own two yard line. Here's a link to an ESPN video highlight of Omon's run, which made one of th Top Ten Plays of the Day on that network's Sportscenter show.http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3147433&categoryId=2564308&n8pe6c=3After the goalposts came down at the Mel Tjeesdsma field in Maryville, elated fans stormed the field as the D2 semifinal championship award was handed down. Omon and his mother, Delorise Omon, embraced at midfield as tears of joy streamed down their faces. As has been customary, Omon shook hands and posed for pictures with many loyal Bearcat fans. As it also customary, Omon gave the credit for his prowess on the field to the offensive line. The stingy defense also held Grand Valley to only 16 points for the game while snagging a game changing interception in the second half.The Bearcats head to Florence, Alabama to take on the other semi-final champions, Valdosta State, who beat California (PA) 28-24 in a game earlier that day.

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A Lesson in Time

I emailed my daughter for her permission to post this video. I thought it unfair that she did not know she was being taped. As a matter of fact, I did not realize the background conversation when I made this little poor quality video of our youngest grandson discovering the Christmas tree. When I previewed it, I decided both were worth preserving. Thank you Kim for letting me post this even though you think you sound a bit edgy. Considering it was dinner time and everyone was tired and hungry, it is a delightful conversation to overhear.

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On With the Show!

Thursday night around 9 pm, a significant portion of the city lost electrical power, including Lawrence High School where the opening night of "Lend Me a Tenor" was just twenty minutes from curtain call. So what do you do when you are performing a show and the electricity goes out? You perform by flashlight, of course!The adage is "the show must go on" and that's exactly what happened. Without hesitation, Director Charles Goolsby told his cast "Don't leave the stage, just keep going," while he and Assistant Director Ceri Goulter stood at the front edge of the stage wielding flashlights as spotlights. Luckily, most of the action toward the end of the second act involves only two people on stage at a time, so the lighting demands were simple. I went to see this hilarious show Friday afternoon. While I was commiserating with Charlie over his memorable opening night, I thought back upon some of my own memorable openings. I can laugh at them now, but at the time they were sometimes horrifying and sometimes merely disappointing.Like the time about eight years ago I had a high school actor on drywall stilts playing the Uncle Sam character in the parade scene of "State Fair." Despite weeks of carefully choreographed rehearsals, someone put a bench in the wrong place at the wrong time backstage and Uncle Sam tripped over it in the blackout for the scene change. When the lights came up, I saw Uncle Sam all nine feet in height sprawled on the floor with his head too close to a platform. He wasn't moving. I rushed backstage with my principal and head custodian to find several girls in hysterics. "He's dead!" they cried. "Don't be ridiculous!" I snapped. Then we grabbed his stilted feet and dragged him off stage during the next transition. When I asked why he didn't move or give a sign he was okay, he explained he thought he would be less conspicuous and the scene would look better if he stayed as flat as possible. "After all," he said, "the scene must go on."Just a couple of years ago, I had a student discover why it is that we never say "Macbeth" backstage. He scoffed at the tradition, being new to theatre, and would go around backstage saying it just to prove the more serious Thespians wrong. We were performing a double bill of one-act adaptations: "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Much Ado About Nothing." Opening day, he came down with a serious case of some stomach virus. He tried to stay at school rule is you have to be in attendance at least half a day to perform but I could see he wasn't going to make it. I suddenly questioned my practice of working without understudies. So, opening night the role of the Prince in Much Ado was played by one of the lead actors from Earnest, script in hand. He was so natural that you'd never know he had never rehearsed the show and had only watched one rehearsal.Good thing the costume fit, because the show had to go on. The Prince was disappointed, but was well enough to perform the second night of the show. I'll have to save my most potentially disastrous show for another entry. But if you want to know why the arts are essential to the future of our youth, consider the lesson they learn in these seemingly hopeless situations. You want creative problem solvers in your workforce? Hire those who've been in theatre they know how to make magic from a possible disaster.

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Now this is really cool.

Today, Gyroduck commenting on a Journal World article, Drawing on God posted a link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPepr...) from You Tube explaining a really puzzling aspect of quantum mechanics. Hop on over to view the video. Also read Gyroduck's comment linking the observations discussed in the video to prayer. Is Gyroduck right to make this connection?

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Synthetic Life

One of the hottest areas of biology today is synthetic biology. Synthetic biologists are not content to take a gene from one species and insert it into the genetic material of another species.Instead, synthetic biologists are attempting to build a set of standard building blocks often by synthesizing DNA from scratch. The idea is to have a set of modules that can be plugged together to make the biological equivalent of electrical devices.So just as an electrical engineer designs new circuits by plugging together standard parts on a breadboard, the synthetic biologist attempts to create custom organisms by inserting these biological circuits into cells.The field has progressed to the point where there is an annual student competition at MIT dedicated to designing custom devices called iGEM which stands for InternationalGenetically Engineered Machine Competition. The winners of the 2007 competition have just been announced and they include teams that developed applications of synthetic biology to medicine, environmental sensing, energy and information processing.For example a team from Alberta Canada developed a synthetic set of genes involved in the production of butanol, an organic compound that could serve as a fuel alternative to ethanol.A team from University of Missouri at Rolla, the Missouri Miners developed a biological breathalyser and a biological timer.Synthetic biology is in its infancy and the power of this technology is rapidly increasing, much like the power of computers, so that soon synthetic biologists may be able to construct synthetic organisms entirely from scratch!Readers, how is this dangerous in a positive sense? How about the risks?LinksSyntheticbiology.orgSynthetic Life, Scientific American 2004

iGem2007Missouri Miners

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Governor’s Child Abuse Task Force-Part 3

Recommendation #2. One toll free number should be used to report child abuse and neglect and skilled and trained staff should take the call.Now this is a recommendation with which I totally agree. Currently SRS maintains 7 call centers to receive reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. There are six Regional Protection Report Centers and the Kansas Protection Report Center (PRC). The PRC operates 24 hours a day seven days a week while the regional centers do not. This probably grew out of history where child welfare was originally part of county welfare offices. Over the years for a variety of reasons including reorganizations of SRS these responsibilities morphed and merged into our current arrangement. It is time to consolidate once more. The major argument against a single statewide hot-line is that local people have professional relationships and know community situations that make a local response more efficient and effective. In some communities social workers know the police officers and the county attorney very well and can call on them for nearly instant help in protecting a child. For example, a school social worker might suspect that a child is a victim of abuse, call a social worker in the local SRS office who might call a police officer and they would jointly investigate the situation within a few minutes or hours.A part of this argument is that a single statewide child abuse reporting hot-line is distant from the community, wouldn't know the key actors and may delay an effective response. For example, the school social worker in the previous example might think twice about calling an anonymous statewide phone number even though she/he is a mandated reporter.On the surface this argument has merit. Investigations are local. It is local police that aid the investigation. It is the county attorney that normally files the petition to find the child a "child in need of care". However, during the Governor's Protective Services Task Force meetings it was clear that the 7 call centers did not all operate in the same manner. This is a problem. If the person answering the phone whether it is local or regional, doesn't get the right information and make the right decision, a child's life may be endangered. This may be what occurred in the case of the two girls in Wichita. It is, in part, a matter of quality control. When the safety of a child is at stake it is important to get all the necessary information, check all relevant files such as the child abuse registry and Kansas Bureau of Investigation offender registry and make a correct decision. It is difficult to assure that this occurs for all calls in 7 call centers.Consistency is also important because a child abuse or neglect investigation brings the power of the state into private family matters. I don't think that we want a situation where an investigation of suspected child abuse would occur in one part of Kansas while that same situation would not start an investigation in another. With the technology available in 2007 there is no reason why a single statewide child abuse and neglect hot-line could not operate as efficiently as a local system. When a decision is made to investigate a case, staff can instantaneous call, email, text message or use whatever communication channels are available to notify local SRS social workers and police so that the investigation can begin. Of course if it is midnight the SRS social worker would not be on duty and the response would have to wait. But that is another problem.

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Robert Hawkins of Omaha

Robert Hawkins killed himself and eight other people in an Omaha mall. Another fact is that he spent time in treatment centers, group homes and foster care. For some people the headline says it all and that is all that they need to know about Robert. Foster care equals trouble. What does this say about Robert or foster care?Robert was certainly troubled and trouble for the community. From news reports we do not know all the details of his life. We do know that he could relate to some people in a non-dangerous way. Debra Maruca-Kovac took Robert into her home when he was homeless. At some point he had a girl friend. There was more to Robert than foster care. Placing a child in foster care is used by the community for protecting children from abuse or neglect. It is also used when we don't know how to help a parent respond to troublesome behavior.SRS reports that "83.8% of assigned reports involve the non-abuse neglect presenting situations without proper control." http://www.srskansas.org/CFS/datareports08.htmlThis means that when people call to report that a child is suspected of being a victim of child abuse or neglect they are more often reporting a child exhibiting behavior that is difficult to manage. Some of these children are placed into foster care. The assumption seems to be that parents are at fault and providing better parenting will change the child's behavior. I am certain that this is sometime true.It didn't work for Robert and it doesn't work for many others. Our ideas that parenting is responsible for a child's behavior is not always accurate. Many children have mental disorders that we don't recognize soon enough and for which our response is inadequate. That seems to be Robert's situation.We ask our child abuse and neglect agencies to also be our child mental health response and it doesn't always work. In Kansas we require our foster care agencies to be fiscally liable for some results for foster children. Our mental health centers are under no similar obligation. This is true in most states. "Shooter was in group homes, foster care" says little about Robert. It may say a lot about foster care and even more about children's mental health services that aren't even mentioned.

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