Entries from blogs tagged with “Citizen Journalism Academy”
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
It seems, at least to me, that my last name is unusual. A Google search of my name does not find a single other "David Klamet". I suppose that can be useful, sometimes. I've never had any trouble getting the username I wanted when registering for email addresses or on web forums.Maybe I'm just sensitive about it. The show that plagued my childhood, The Beverly Hillbillies, was about the Clampett family (if you're fortunate enough to not know or remember it) that ran for nine painful years during my childhood. During that time, my name was almost always mispronounced. For years after there was an invisible "p" in my name that I couldn't see, but people would still pronounce. Were there really that many professors at KU who were influenced by the show and used that pronunciation?For me, though, the name "Klamet" has a stolid, earthy tone and images of tilled fields and fall harvests come to mind. My father's father was a farmer. I imagine that his ancestors back in Germany were farmers, too. He raised seven daughters and two sons in the old farmhouse my father grew up in and that I spent many Christmas Days in. I cannot help but imagine their life in rural Leavenworth county. My father's mother died when he was young. The children attended Dafer school, a one room schoolhouse not far from my father's farm, where I grew up. I once overheard my father tell of his resentment that Charley, his older brother, got to use the tractor to plow, while he had to use the mules. I can imagine him walking behind the mules, resentfully watching his brother across the field on the tractor. Recently, at the funeral of the father of a high school friend, I happened to meet several elderly ladies who new my father and his brother. I overheard one of them as she talked about how she new them both and used to dance with my uncle, and what a good dancer Charley had been. He died when I was very young in an auto accident with his oldest daughter, their truck was hit by a train as they drove into town one evening. How and why is a mystery.My father died many years ago. He did not farm full time, but every season a crop was planted and there were always cows in the pasture. The farming tradition did not end with him, but it did not continue through me. The thought of my being a farmer would make my brother laugh out loud.Fate has played a strange yet subtle joke on the Klamet family. Of all the brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, grandchildren and cousins, the future of the Klamet name passes only through me--the one who had the least interest in the only life they all knew. My father's brother had only girls, as did my brother. My three sons are the only ones who will carry on the name.I often see that name now, printed in programs for high school music concerts and soccer games. Among the long list of names in small print, my sons' names seem to stand out as though they were printed in bold. Out on the stage or on the field I see my sons, but in my mind I see my father behind those mules.
This is how our spur of the moment road trip through small towns of the Flint Hills materialized. My husband said, "How about:" and I said, "Let's go." That's it. It only takes an hour from idea to heading up the lane in our camper van. These kinds of trips happen other times of the year, but never before at Christmas. We are ready to leave by 6:00 pm. Armed with Marci Penner's Kansas Guidebook for Explorers, a list of the best Chicken-fried Steaks in Kansas from the Kansas Explorers Club, and a map, we plan to find good rural Kansas food and Christmas decorations.Overbrook is a progressive small town only 11 miles south of our rural home. It does not surprise us their decorations are nice. Normally, we stop at Conrad's for their special, but there are more towns to visit. So, from there we head west on Hwy 56. We consider the restaurant at Four Corners because the parking lot is packed, a good sign in small town Kansas. Alas, it is not on the Best Chicken Fried List it so we head on, past The Trop for those who know.Scranton's lighted snowflakes are very beautiful for the size of their main street. No tarrying, it is on to Burlingame and Santa Fe Cafe, which is on the List. Decorated for the season and housed in an obviously historical storefront, the Santa Fe Cafe is busy. Local families laugh and visit while waiting for their orders. Even though pan-fried steaks are a prerequisite, ours are deep-fried. No matter, the homemade gravy and real mashed potatoes make up for it. Full with enough leftovers for breakfast, one last look at Burlingame's lights and we are off.Continuing on the old Santa Fe Trail route, Hwy 56, we visit Osage City, Admire and Bushong. Community spirit is still strong in small towns because they all manage nice decorations. Council Grove did not disappoint. As we slowly drive main street it seems the lights outlining the buildings and the decorated storefronts have a charm befitting the historic town. We take a little extra time to drive back through before taking off south on Hwy 177 toward our destination of Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. As we turn on the street leading up to the town square in Cottonwood Falls, the sight of the historic courthouse completely outlined in white lights was breathtaking. Businesses on each side of the street are festive but not over done to take away from the beautiful building. We stop right on the street to take it all in.
By LindaKBy then it is 10:00 pm but Cottonwood Fall's Emma Chase Cafe is still rocking. We slip in a corner table and enjoy the bluegrass music. As people drifted home, the musicians soon outnumber the audience. Obviously, the jean and overall clad participants are having fun. The Emma Chase is winding down and so are we. We scout around for a spot to boondock for the night. Saturday morning finds us in a parking lot near downtown Cottonwood Falls. We enjoy our leftover chicken fried steak and coffee for breakfast and take off. I want to see the sunrise over the Flint Hills. We continued south on Hwy 57, part of the Flint Hills Scenic Byway. The sun is just peeking over the horizon as we stop at an overlook. Flint Hills as far as we can see with cattle still grazing despite the time of year makes this scene a quiet, inspirational moment. We continue south still enjoying the beautiful rolling hills, impressive barns and rock fences. Matfield Green is a tiny town, but earned an entrance to the turnpike.In no time, we are in Wichita and the outdoor/sporting store located in downtown near the convention center. We spend several hours shopping and turned toward home. We again exit at Matfield Green exit on the KTA because nearby is the Cassody Cafe in the town by the same name. The Cafe is on the Best Chicken Fried Steak list and we are hungry. Unfortunately, the menu said Thursdays only for the steak. We settle for their buffet of fried chicken and homemade beef and noodles with four-star gravy. The Cassody Cafe is a destination for motorcycle riders in the summer. From the pictures posted by the register, it appears the city doubles its size on weekends.As we once again stop at the tollbooth at Matfield Green, the lady recognizes it is our third time through. We laughingly tell her, Merry Christmas and head for home.
Took my almost-five-year-old to his first Advent service last night. Actually, it was Simon's first church service, period. I wanted him to understand at least a little of what he heard, so on the way, I told him the basics of the Christmas story. I started with the parts I thought would be most interesting to a child: How Jesus was born in a stable to parents Mary and Joseph, and how shepherds got a message from an angel that something special had happened, followed a bright star, and found the baby Jesus.My husband and I are not religious, at least not as the term is usually used, but I've given a little thought to how and when to explain mainstream religious beliefs and stories to our two young sons. A child who isn't familiar with, say, the Christmas story or the notion of heaven will be at a loss at times, to say the least. (Last night, it struck me how big this cultural disadvantage might be when Simon asked "Is Jesus a boy or a girl?")After the service, we talked more about the Christmas story--including the belief that Jesus is the son of God--and I found myself fielding questions like "How can Jesus be the son of God if his parents are Mary and Joseph?" and "How can God still be alive if Jesus was born such a long time ago?" and "Is God a man or a woman?" Now I was the one at a loss! More than once I answered, "That's a great question" and "Well, the story goes like this:" and "Many people believe that:." I've talked to Simon about God before, usually referring to the "Animal Maker" or the "Great Spirit." I want him to have some notion of a powerful, good, divine spirit who takes an interest in our universe. I also want him to understand that there are different and beautiful faith traditions around the world. I'm not comfortable presenting typical Sunday School stories as if they're facts. And I sensed last night that Simon would take what I said as fact. That means I have a lot of power, at this point in Simon's life, to shape his beliefs about religion and the divine. I want to use this power wisely, so I've got a lot more thinking to do.I'd like to hear from others who've struggled with this. If your family doesn't have obvious faith traditions and beliefs to pass down, what role do religion and spirituality play in your family life? How and when have you presented religion and spirituality to your children? Are there any faith groups in town you recommend?
Biology is messy. We can't put organisms into neat little boxes and as it turns out, while we think of ourselves as being individual organisms, the truth is a bit more complex. According to an online article from Scientific American, "Humans Carry More Bacterial Cells than Human Ones" , we are probably best thought of as walking petri dishes because of the number and diversity of bacteria that live inside of us. According to the article, scientists used to think that these bacteria were commensals, that is organisms living in or on a member of a different species with out harming or providing much benefit to the "host". But new research reveals that these bacteria interact with us in complex ways and and often significantly benefit us. For instance many of these bacteria appear to help us process our food and help regulate certain aspects of our immune system. So there is a real sense that you and I are really communities of organisms. Now I wonder if the dreaded toe fungus some of us have also benefits us in some way.
Why is it that when we Americans try to 'fix' things, we insist on going to extremes? We're never satisfied with a Bandaid or surgery and stitches. Oh no, not us radical reformers. We won't be satisfied until we've performed a complete lobotomy, leaving common sense in the litter to be swept off the operating room floor.My son was recently prescribed an outrageously expensive medication. The doctor suggested I contact the insurance company to obtain pre-approval of coverage before filling the prescription. After maneuvering through the customary and annoying robotic 'prompts' I finally was connected to a human (I use the term loosely here). This 'person'proceeded to tell me that not only could he not give me (the child's mother) pre approval, he could not discuss any matter regarding my son with me (the child's mother) because it would be a violation of HIPA privacy policies (the kids are listed under their father's coverage and my coverage is separate but with the same company). Their father was out of town and not available, but hey, with his written approval, I, my son's mother, could become an 'authorized representative,' in a mere 7-10 business days. Three business days if we have a fax machine! No worries that my son was due to take the medication in 4 hours. Could I provide a blood sample? Maybe contribute some DNA? A copy of his birth certificate? Anything at all to prove he was flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood? What exactly would it take to prove my legitimacy as his mother, legal guardian, primary caregiver in my fight against shirts with all the power over his medical well-being?! Surely if they only checked their records they would find me listed as such. And no worries that I was simply trying to confirm if I would be charged $2,000 for the medication or simply the $100 deductible:just a minor question concerning a little chump change, right? The irony in all of this is they would ask no questions at all when I'm purchasing the medication, no identification necessary to hand over drugs for me to give him. But ask a question? How dare I! Hooooooooooray for HIPA.Now, no one questioned privacy rights when I followed the ambulance or slept in his hospital room. No one cared that our names were on two different insurance cards when I authorized his surgery. No one even asked for ID when nurses explained follow up medical procedures when he was discharged to my care. And it's only a wild hunch on my part, but I bet no one will care whether or not I'm an 'authorized representative' when they send me the bill.I know I'll sleep better knowing prying eyes can't peep into my medical files, but is there a limit to the lunacy?Anyone out there ever try to get your college student's grades? That's the equivalent of privacy treason! Attempting offenders are scolded before being sent to remain-in-the-dark purgatory. No matter that parents are the ones paying the tuition, purchasing the books and putting out the cash for room, board and expenses. Who do we possibly think we are to want to know if our kids are earning the grades to keep them in school? We should be ashamed of ourselves. Right.Swing pendulum, swing.Efforts to right wrongs are commendable. But a heavily-weighted, tethered ball careening from one extreme to the other can be a dangerous thing. Balance and common sense can be the casualties leveled in the process.Am I the only one scratching my head?
Governor's Child Abuse Task Force-Pt. 2I will briefly comment on each of the recommendations of the Task Force. This can become very long and technical. I will try to avoid that. This is why I will only undertake one recommendation at a time. This is not an easy task and I welcome comments that help clarify the issues or question my observations. See the first post for background. Recommendation 1. An ombudsman position and an independent board, separate from SRS, should be created. Observations:1). Policy formation by committee. This recommendation is a good example. Beware of sentences that contain 'and'. They frequently contain too much. In this case it is my opinion that both an ombudsman and a board are too much. 2.) An ombudsman is not a good idea. On the surface it sounds good to have an independent person who can investigate complaints. In reality this person or office would be overwhelmed by the number of complaints and the complexity of most situations. In the 2007 state fiscal year SRS received 53,048 reports of concern regarding children. Nearly every one of these is contested by someone. One full-time person (the recommendation) could not possibly respond to the demand. In the Wichita case, Governor Sebelius had her chief legal counsel investigate. I don't know how much time it took him but I bet he wasn't finished in an hour or two. If only 10% of the 53,000 cases requested an investigation, the ombudsman would have no more than 4 hours available per case (2,000 hours divided by 5,000.). If you question the 10%, just read the comments about SRS that accompany any published child abuse case. Child welfare is contentious. That is one of the reasons that we have judges involved in making child abuse and neglect decisions. 3.) An independent review board could be a good idea but not necessarily. The Task Force report includes several tasks for which this review board would be responsible. The task list is a good one. These tasks also require considerable child welfare expertise. One way to implement this recommendation would be to create an independent research center to do the work. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy is an excellent example. It was created in 1982 by the state legislature and is governed by a board that represents the legislature, governor and public universities. It does practical, non-partisan research at legislative direction. As a consumer of some of its research, I can say that they do excellent work. Check them out at http://www.wsipp.wa.gov. Will the Kansas legislature be willing to fund such a center? I doubt it. It is expensive. So a political compromise would likely be a review board without the expertise or funding to do the work. Not a pretty picture.4.) My recommendation. I recommended to the board that the state legislature require SRS to report annually on the effectiveness of its CPS operations. I think that this squarely places the responsibility for oversight where it belongs in the legislature and places the work where it should be - SRS. SRS can do the job and currently collects much of the data. CPS can be thought of as a series of decisions. For example, the decision to accept a phone call as a report; the decision to have a report investigated; the decision that a report really is child abuse or neglect; etc. It is now widely accepted that you can judge the effectiveness of a CPS system through data on each decision point. While this recommendation is not as strong as the creation of a Washington Institute for Public Policy capability in Kansas, it is better than an understaffed independent review board. Disclaimer: I do not make these critical comments because I am disappointed that the Task Force did not take my recommendations verbatim. I have been involved in public policy efforts too long for that type of attitude. I am quite pleased that they took my input seriously and included many of my ideas.
The name "Dangerous Ideas" comes from a book titled "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" by the philosopher Daniel Dennett. Dennett's thesis is that the concept of natural selection is a sort of universal acid eating away at our traditional intellectual disciplines well beyond its traditional application as an evolutionary mechanism.Science in general is dangerous to traditional ways of viewing the universe. It transforms us. It breaks down boundaries between traditional areas of thought. It challenges our comfortable preconceptions about reality. And it forces us to think in rational and empirical ways that are foreign to emotional and often irrational way that we process information about the world.I use dangerous here in a positive sense. For me science is a liberating force. It doesn't do away with a sense of wonder, a sense of poetry or wonder. But science does not worship mystery but replaces it with a sense of awe at the quirky creativeness of the universe. This blog will focus on science. I will try to stay away from politics and religion...there are plenty of other blogs that do that including my companion blog at The Force that ThroughSometimes I will cross post entries with "The Force" But that blog tends to be much more explicitly poetic, political and philosophical than what I am planning for this space. Also since biology is my thing, expect a bias toward biology and related areas.
Governor's Child Abuse Task ForceThe report is in. I will get to that later. Governor Sebelius created the Child Protective Services Task Force in July in response to a tragic case in Wichita. Two young girls were reported as suspected victims of abuse and the response was botched by Child Protective Services (CPS) of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. The Task Force report includes 5 recommendations. I will comment on each of the recommendations but first a disclaimer and some observations. I am a tried and true citizen participant. That means I get involved by attending meetings and talking to those who represent us at the city, county, state and national level. I had a particular interest in the Child Protective Services Task Force because I have devoted over 30 years to research and writing about public child welfare that includes CPS in Kansas and Illinois. Observations1) I really wanted to be a member of the Task Force. I lobbied hard to be a member and failed. When the membership of the Task Force was announced, and I was not included, I called Chairman Tim Emert and asked to be included in notifications of meetings. He was gracious and I attend all of the meetings. I was allowed to ask questions and make comments and at one point was asked for my recommendations. I presented my observations and recommendations and I thought that they were well received. 2) The tyranny of the anecdote. Joe Loftus, an Illinois colleague, suggests that child welfare is too frequently the victim of bad policy that follows a news report of a bad outcome (the anecdote). The challenge presented by the Wichita case is determining if the situation involving the two young girls was common or unusual. The next task is examining policy and procedures to see what can be done to improve practice. This is an extremely difficult task given one case.3) Policy formation by committee. The Task Force members included a range of child welfare expertise from those who knew very little to those with years of experience. Judge Jean Shepherd, for example, has many years hearing Child In Need of Care cases (those involving, among other things, abuse and neglect) and is widely recognized as being an excellent child welfare judge. But how do you educate 14 diverse people on the complex issues involved in CPS and create a consensus on recommendations in six meetings that not all members can regularly attend? With great difficulty.4) The Task Force worked hard. Given the constraints it is my observation that the Task Force did a good job. They listened, asked good questions, they thoughtfully deliberated.So what about the recommendations? That's next.Can't wait? Read the report at http://www.governor.ks.gov/documents/071129-FinalCPSreport.pdf
We've all heard or read about the sad story of El Dorado teen Emily Sander, who was found dead east of that town, after a series of bizarre circumstances.The Deciders have decided, and the narrative of her life has been written.This is AP copy which ran in the J-World:> Her fans knew her only as an Internet porn star named Zoey Zane.> But in this hamlet, Emily Sander's friends saw her as a vivacious teenager who worked hard days as a secretary at an electric company and went to night school to study business management. She dreamed one day of opening a piercing studio and becoming a movie director.This AP copy "More AP copy"), by the same reporter, appeared in the Chicago Tribune, among other places (complete with "pornstar" in the URL). The opening line:> The search for a missing college student who led a secret life as an Internet porn performer turned into a homicide case after her body was apparently found.Same reporter, different AP copy, first line:> A missing Kansas college student believed to be the victim of foul play apparently led a double life as an Internet porn star by the name of Zoey Zane.> Nude photos of 18-year-old Emily Sander appeared on a Zoey Zane Web site before she vanished, and investigators are looking into whether her modeling had anything to do with her disappearance last Friday.Each of these stories also appeared on the Topeka Capital-Journal's Web site.AP copy, Wichita Eagle:> The mother of a pregnant teenager on the run with the suspect in the death of an El Dorado college student is pleading for her daughter to call home and let her know she is OK.> In a statement e-mailed today to the Associated Press, Sandy Martens wrote that she would like to tell her daughter: "i miss you with all my heart... many people are praying for your return because they miss you... including your friends in others towns that you know... i love you and i miss that budha belly... and i want to feel my grandchild kick again... i love you victoria.. unconditional."> Authorities are looking for her daughter, Victoria, and believe she is still with suspect Israel Mireles, 24. He was seen on Nov. 23 leaving a bar with Emily Sander, the Butler Community College student who led a secret life as an Internet porn model. Her body was found Thursday.This story by the Eagle's own staff does not use the phrase. But every single AP story (most if not all by the same writer, Roxana Hegeman) uses some variant of the phrase "porn star". So does this story posted on the KMBC-TV Web site.Porn star? Really? Is that a fair characterization?I've been sitting on these thoughts for a post on my home blog for several days, which left me time to seek out -- with a considerable amount of trepidation and handwringing on my part -- the material in question. I'd have to say that, if what I've seen is an accurate characterization of the complete oeuvre, what she did does not rise to the level of "porn star". It says to me "naive girl who posed for nude photos, made bad decisions, and got mixed up in something not in her best interest who later was victimized by what appears to be a serial predator", but I guess that doesn't fit as well in a lede.The distinction between some naked pictures and "porn" may be a distinction without a difference to most people, but not to many -- especially not to those who knew her best.If nothing else, it illustrates the power of the media, concentrated in a single journalist, to sum up a human life and create history -- not to mention "moving product". I thought it was a grossly unfair characterization, but what do I know?I just hope the extra "product" moved as a result of working the word "porn" in was worth it.UPDATE: I read this again, and I realized that it could be reasonably inferred from what I've written here that I'm against the very mention of Emily Sander's "other job". I'm not. It's part of the story, and at the time it wasn't known whether the crime wasn't related to her Internet activities. Perhaps that information might have helped solve her murder. There's no way to know in advance whether it would have helped or not. The way it was characterized was not for any of those reasons, however.
Theatre folk are notoriously superstitious. Never say "good luck" -- say "break a leg." No whistling backstage, no practicing curtain call until opening night. And, under no circumstances whatsoever, never ever ever mention the name of 'that Scottish play' in the theater -- just ask one of my former students who scoffed at our superstitions. He learned.
One of my favorite superstitions is that of the ghost light. One light left burning on stage so that the theater is never completely dark -- supposedly so no ghosts come to haunt the stage. I love the image of that one light on a bare stage. A bare stage is nothing but pine boards and brick walls to some, but to me it holds a universe of possibilities, a place where dreams come to light.
I love the theater, the space itself. I joke with my students that a person who is afraid of heights and afraid of the dark should never work in a theater, so I'm not quite sure what I'm doing there!
But I love the theatre. And when it came time to decide what my teaching certification should be, I thought about how much I love theatre despite the fact that I never had a dedicated or qualified theatre teacher all throughout my junior high and high school years. And so, it became my professional goal to provide my students with the kind of theatre education and opportunities I wish I had been granted.
I spend a lot of time in the dark -- as a director watching a rehearsal, as an audience member watching a performance, as a performer waiting in the wings. But I also think that in some ways our community is also 'in the dark' -- unless you have a child or friend in the public schools, I don't think you are really aware of the outstanding talent and programs our students participate in.
So my goal with this blog is to shed some light -- "a little...illumination" to quote The Phantom of the Opera -- on what we do in arts education in our community. To keep that ghost light burning so that our theaters are never completely dark.