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Entries from blogs tagged with “Community news”

The Moment of Truth - Fox’s new show

The Fox channel had its debut showing of "The Moment of Truth" Weds. evening following American Idol.

The show works something like this: pick a contestant and ask them fifty personal questions behind the scenes to get to know them and their vices and flaws.

Next, hook them up to a lie detector test in front of an audience, their spouse, their friends, and even their employer. Then comes the fun part as the contestant is asked the first six questions, which answered truthfully puts 10,000 dollars in their pocket.

It isn't as easy as it sounds, however, because some of the questions are down right demented! Some random questions from last night's show were

:"Are you addicted to gambling?"

"Are you currently a member of the hair club for men?"

"As a personal trainer, have you touched a female client more than was required of you?"

"Have you used the internet to flirt with other women?"

"Have you stolen a peek at another man's privates during a shower?"

"Have you had a sexual fantasy during mass?"

"Have you gone through a co-workers belongings without their knowledge?"

"Have you delayed having children because you don't think your spouse is your lifelong partner?"

The friends/spouse/employers have one out - they can push a large button that is centered between them (one time only) if they do not want to hear the person answer the question that was asked. The problem with that is it will be replaced with another question and the other question just might be worse then the first.

After the initial six questions, that can earn the contestant 10,000 if answered correctly, the next five questions, if answered truthfully, can get the contestant up to the 25,000 dollar mark. The higher you go, the harder and more revealing the question. Answer all 21 questions truthfully and you have $500,000 in your pocket. You may not have a job to go back to, your wife, husband, and friends have probably abandoned you, but you decide how important money really is in your life.

This show is destined to be a hit - audiences love to see people squirm in the hot seat, see their lives (and their friends and families lives) destroyed right in front of them - and the contestant most probably will end up leaving with nothing.

This reminded me of the games we played as teenagers: truth or dare and twenty questions.

Would you risk it all and tell the truth for $500,000?

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Juno and the ‘A’ word

Juno is one of the latest movies to portray a young girl who gets pregnant and in a matter of minutes goes from considering abortion to deciding on adoption. Ellen Goodman in a recent column about these films considers the message they send to 13 year old girls.Actually Juno's decision is rare. According to the Children's Bureau (a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services) less than 1% of children born to never married women are relinquished for adoption. According to Planned Parenthood more than half of teen pregnancies result in birth so most young women keep the child. Many of these mothers become school dropouts and live in poverty. That is another story.Juno's decision to find an adoption family while not rare is unusual. There are between 118,000 and 127,000 adoptions per year in this country. Nobody keeps good statistics on Juno's type of adoptions but it is considerably less than the 500,000 that are through state child welfare agencies. In Kansas the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services reports that there were 715 adoptions during the last fiscal year. I am not sure that is our share of the national total.When Juno meets the potential adoptive parents she flippantly asks why they don't go to China where it is easy to adopt. I wouldn't give away her line which is very funny. Adoptions from other countries represent about 15% of the total. Many of these are from China. As an adoptive father I wish that they were more frequent. The Urban League in a report on foster care and adoptions states that there are 100,000 children in foster care awaiting adoption. In Kansas, SRS reports that there were 853 children awaiting adoption at the end of the last fiscal year.Juno's search for adoptive parents is at least haphazard and amounts to looking through the classified section of a local free paper. The prospective parents look wonderful. Both parents are good looking and their home suggests that they have plenty of income. As the story develops flaws are hinted at that become real but again I wouldn't spoil that for those who have yet to see the movie. Did she pick the right parents? That is a question that looms large over the field of adoption. There have been two recent articles in the Journal World that represent two contrasting adoptive families. A January 14 article reported on a Haysville couple who adopted a girl and the father sexually assaulted her. A January 20 article reported that a Lawrence native was appointed an appellate judge who has a passion for children, has been a foster parent and has adopted 3 children.In the Haysville tragedy SRS apparently did all that they could to find a safe home for the child. They conducted a more complete investigation than Juno but failed. The truth is that there is little anyone can do to predict the outcome of an adoptive placement. Background checks for abuse or criminal behavior are helpful but far from foolproof. It is simply not possible to predict the outcome of a decision to approve a family for adoption. Fortunately the Haysville adoptive outcome is rare. Adoptive families work out as well as other types of families. If you haven't seen Juno, go before it leaves town. Talk to your 13 year old daughters. Support adoption.

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Heath Ledger… Another Loss For My Generation

Let's face it, there aren't that many young actors in film these days that are genuinely good at their craft. So, it hurts to lose one of them.The 70's had DeNiro, Pacino, Nicholson... but what about our generation's leading men? Sure, there are some interesting guys out there like Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, but they're a little soft. Can you really imagine either of them carrying a film like "Five Easy Pieces?"Heath Ledger was more than just a pretty face. The depth and subtlety he displayed in "Brokeback Mountain" was powerful stuff. His emotion was not felt just in dialogue but in his strong silence as well. I think he could have had one of those careers like Johnny Depp; balancing roles between thoughtful dramas and blockbusters while leaving a trail of memorable characters in his wake. Was it the Joker role that did it to him? The drugs? Depression? Who's to say? It's just another senseless death in an industry that could use more true talent like his. Guess we'll just have to give that "Five Easy Pieces" remake to Ryan Gosling.

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The Ever Elusive Honest Answer

Dear Honest Answer,Where have you been lately? Don't you know it's election year and I'd like to see more of you? Okay, I understand why you've been a bit reclusive. When you come out of hiding, you tend to get criticized. But really, aren't you being a bit thin skinned?Sure, I saw the presidential debate in Las Vegas when the democratic candidates were asked what their greatest weaknesses were. And, yes, it was because of you that Senator Obama was criticized when he said he wasn't good with paperwork, as if that somehow made him an ineffective leader. But that doesn't mean you're not wanted. I would have liked you to stick around for the other two candidates' replies, no matter how amusing the responses were without you. I have to wonder what the point of asking questions is if we don't want you to be there. In college, I went on a job interview at a bookstore and was asked if I saw myself having a career as a bookseller. Of course I knew it was in my best interest to say yes, but then you came around, Honest Answer. Needless to say, I didn't get the job. (Okay, so the moment didn't have the same poignancy as when Martin Donovan turned down the television repair job in the Hal Hartley film "Truth," but at least I walked out of there with some self respect). Certainly, there are ways to spin answers to questions without having to lie. Obama could have said that he cared too much or I could have waxed poetic about my love of literature being an integral part of my longterm ambitions. But ultimately, what's the point?If we are going to send you an invitation, Honest Answer, we should welcome you to the party. Sure, you can be a little hard to deal with at times, but without you we wouldn't know what to believe.

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We Don’t Have to Like It!

I started this with the idea of mentioning the production of "Mere Mortals" by the the E.M.U. Theatre, a fund-raiser to support the EMU and Ecumenical Christian Ministries. Before I go farther, I hope you consider supporting both the EMU and the ECM.And the title "We Don't Have to Like it" is NOT about the production. It's about other things. But if you just want to support the EMU and ECM, you can stop right here, go to the link, find out when and where it is, and just go.Anyway, if you're still with me.....as I did a little searching so that I could write something without appearing as clueless as I actually am, I found a few things. One of them was the link in the first paragraph.......and that got me to thinking....and that usually means trouble.I've heard a lot of the same stuff you've heard about the Oread Inn development and I realize that I don't really know that much about it. Or the neighborhood. Or the economic benefits to Lawrence. Or maybe a whole lot more...Even if I did know more, I don't believe everything I read or hear.There are, however, a couple of things I do know. I've been through that area and I sort of know what it's like. I just kind of like it. From what I can tell the E.C.M. does more good than harm. Maybe a lot more... But it seems to me to be a benefit to the community.The other thing I know is I just don't like the idea of an eight story building there. Even if it is a modern, attractive building. Especially if it's a hotel that will probably cost more than I'll ever be willing to spend to stay there. No, I just don't like it. And I don't think I "have" to like it. And I don't think I need to know any more about it to not like it.If someone were to tell me that I don't know enough, that it will help care for sick and hungry children, then I would admit that I'm wrong and I don't know enough.But I don't think that is the case. So I think I know enough. And I am not for it. And it will take someone with a lot of important reasons for me to change my mind.Now...I don't really like to be "against" things, my personal philosophy is to be "for" things. So I could say that I'm "for" the E.C.M. or "for" preserving that community. But, in this case, I have to be honest with myself and just admit that I'm against the Oread Inn development.Oh, I realize it will probably be built. And it may even end up getting the land where the E.C.M is now. Twenty years from now it may well be a landmark of our community.Maybe I won't even mind it so much then, if I'm around.But I don't like it now. And I don't have to, and the reasons I have are good enough. I hear you asking, "What's the point of all this?" I know you are, because that's what my wife asked me.It's not that I'm against the Oread Inn (although I am).It is that we can't understand everything. Even I can't and my mom says I'm the smartest guy in the world. So I'm suggesting that we do the best we can and that we try to be fair and unbiased while trying not to oversimplify things.In the end, though, I don't want to feel bad because I can't understand everything about everything. I don't think you should either.And even though I have limitations, my opinion is still important. It might even be valid. But regardless, it is still all right to express it.

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So Much to See #4

Previous: So Much to See #3
Next: So Much to See #5

Here is this week's first picture. It might be anywhere (in Lawrence). It might be anything. Guess if you think you know it.No hints this time, in a day or so I'll add an ever so slightly larger image.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/20/DSC_0728a.JPG

OK, here is a slightly bigger picture.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/21/DSC_0728b.JPG

Obviously the first small image wasn't hard enough. Here is a still larger one.
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/22/DSC_0728c.JPG

Come on. I know you can't wait. Here is an even larger portion of the picture. Only one more to go.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/23/DSC_0728d.JPG

And the complete picture, of Hobbs field:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/23/DSC_0728.JPG

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Hearse in a roundabout

In a hearse, there goes the dearly departed,stuck in a roundabout;round and round he goes;where he'll stop,nobody knows;hell or heaven, will have to wait;because Lawrence thinks it has traffic "woes;"slow that final funerial route.

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Hearse in a roundabout

In a hearse, there goes the dearly departed,stuck in a roundabout;round and round he goes;where he'll stop,nobody knows;hell or heaven, will have to wait;because Lawrence thinks it has traffic "woes;"slow that final funerial route.

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Do Computers Suck?

Do computers make you more productive, or do you spend so much time struggling that sometimes you wonder if they are worth the trouble?Do you have a questions about computers or the internet and how they work? Post your questions and I'll try to answer some in future posts.

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“Charlie Wilson’s War” - To Intervene or Not Intervene: That is the Question

The film "Charlie Wilson's War" has all the wit of the West Wing but instead of some vague international crisis, the subject here is America's involvement in Afghanistan during the Cold War. And the answers are much more complex than an hour of prime time would allow. Granted, it was the first movie I'd seen in an actual theatre in months (when you have a 3 and a 1 year old, babysitting can be hard to come by), but I loved this movie. You get to see Tom Hanks actually having fun with his performance rather than just vying for an Oscar, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is at his smarmy cynical best and Julia Roberts uses a safety pin to brush her eyelashes. What can be better than that?Well, actually, it's the questions that the film raises that really stayed with me. Namely, what exactly is the responsibility of the United States in world affairs? Should we get involved in the conflicts between other countries for either humanitarian reasons or to stop a perceived threat? Or should we keep to our own turf and use our money to assist in domestic issues like homelessness and poverty?When I hear Ron Paul debate about foreign policy, it makes a lot of sense. He talks about the ridiculousness of borrowing from Peter to give weapons to Paul. And oftentimes, as happened in Afghanistan, people rise up against the superpower that trained them and this leads to terrorism on our soil. I compare this to my own life and wonder if it's realistic to live in a bubble. Like the country, I too am facing a deficit (sure in my case, it's due to student loans and film production, but you get the idea). And yes, it's hard sometimes to justify giving money to others when my own family is in need. But still, I do it. Even if I don't have money to spare, it is hard to not think of those who are worse off than myself. But, to keep things in perspective, I donate just a modest amount, while we gave Afghanistan one billion dollars: and now there's Al-Qaida to deal with.Like I said, difficult questions. See the movie. Think about it. Maybe you will have some answers.

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Public service academy?

Does the United States need a "public service academy" -- a professional training ground, if you will, for bureaucrats, much the same way we do for military officers at West Point and Annapolis?I sincerely hope not:

A panel of public policy experts on Wednesday debated whether establishing a bricks-and-mortar undergraduate academy would be the solution to the federal government's looming workforce challenges.At a forum sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, panelists expressed support for or suggested alternatives to creating a U.S. Public Service Academy, on par with the nation's military academies, to inject prestige into federal service and highlight the importance of government work.Panelists noted that the government faces myriad personnel challenges over the next decade as 60 percent of the federal workforce and 90 percent of senior executives become eligible to retire. Chris Myers Asch, one of the architects of the academy proposal, noted that establishing a national academy would create a cadre of talented individuals to help fill the void and make federal service a more noble career path."George Washington expected a national university to be a useful instrument in the shaping of patriotic citizens and of able civil servants," Asch said. "The academy will help reinvigorate our sense of public service and help revitalize the work of our public sector."Legislation that would establish a national public service academy was introduced in both chambers of Congress in March by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Chris Shays, R-Conn. It has since acquired 16 Senate co-sponsors and 87 in the House. Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee also has expressed support for the effort.
This Time piece represents the hopes and dreams of such a plan. It contains a naivete that is, frankly, stunning. You can read the ten-point plan there; make sure that you read it all. One of the people interviewed herein, Chris Myers Asch, wrote an article in the June 6, 2006 Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) that essentially outlines the plan.It begins from what I think is a false premise: that George Washington, speaking in what would be the very first State of the Union address, wanted to establish a "national university" for public service. Here's what he said:
Nor am I less persuaded that you will agree with me in opinion that there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours it is proportionably essential.To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways - by convincing those who are intrusted with the public administration that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness - cherishing the first, avoiding the last - and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.Whether this desirable object will be best promoted by affording aids to seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a national university, or by any other expedients will be well worthy of a place in the deliberations of the legislature.
He also wrote in his own last will and testament on July 9, 1799:
That as it has always been a source of serious regret with me, to see the youth of these United States sent to foreign Countries for the purpose of Education, often before their minds were formed, or they had imbibed any adequate ideas of the happiness of their own; contracting, too frequently, not only habits of dissipation & extravagence, but principles unfriendly to Republican Governmt and to the true & genuine liberties of Mankind; which, thereafter are rarely overcome. For these reasons, it has been my ardent wish to see a plan devised on a liberal scale, which would have a tendency to sprd systemactic ideas through all parts of this rising Empire, thereby to do away local attachments and State prejudices, as far as the nature of things would, or indeed ought to admit, from our National Councils. Looking anxiously forward to the accomplishment of so desirable an object as this is (in my estimation) my mind has not been able to contemplate any plan more likely to effect the measure than the establishment of a UNIVERSITY in a central part of the United States, to which the youth of fortune and talents from all parts thereof might be sent for the completion of their Education in all the branches of polite literature; in arts and Sciences, in acquiring knowledge in the principles of Politics & good Government; and (as a matter of infinite Importance in my judgment) by associating with each other, and forming friendships in Juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from those local prejudices & habitual jealousies which have just been mentioned; and which, when carried to excess, are never failing sources of disquietude to the Public mind, and pregnant of mischievous consequences to this Country: Under these impressions, so fully dilated,
And this from his eighth State of the Union:
The assembly to which I address myself is too enlightened not to be fully sensible how much a flourishing state of the arts and sciences contributes to national prosperity and reputation.True it is that our country, much to its honor, contains many seminaries of learning highly repeatable and useful; but the funds upon which they rest are too narrow to command the ablest professors in the different departments of liberal knowledge for the institution contemplated, though they would be excellent auxiliaries.Amongst the motives to such an institution, the assimilation of the principles, opinions, and manners of our country-men by the common education of a portion of our youth from every quarter well deserves attention. The more homogenous our citizens can be made in these particulars the greater will be our prospect of permanent union; and a primary object of such a national institution should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic what species of knowledge can be equally important and what duty more pressing on its legislature than to patronize a plan for communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?
You could interpret the phrase "science of government" using today's parlance as "bureaucracy" -- mostly because that's what we're used to. However, when I compare this with whatever else Washington said or wrote on the topic, I believe that what Washington meant was "politics", or what we would call today "political science". Furthermore, I believe that Washington's general objective was what we know today as a public university -- of which there are hundreds. Washington believed that an educated populace was necessary to a free state and sought to bring a more educated populace about -- plain and simple. I cannot imagine that a "public service academy" as conceived in the Time piece I linked would have appealed to Washington at all. The whole point of the American enterprise was that the people in it were free to be what they wish to be. ((Well, not everybody right off the bat.)) I realize that Asch and the authors of the Time piece are not advocating compulsory service -- but I also cannot imagine the Founders having conceived of a government apparatus so huge and broad that we had to crank out a hundred thousand people a year -- which is what the plan above does advocate -- to support it.Perhaps a more efficient -- and more salubrious to the cause of liberty, to which the Founders were devoted above all others -- solution would be this: rather than have government ask more of its citizens in order to support its weight and enforce its Byzantine laws, we should encourage ourselves to ask less of government and avail ourselves of the freedoms for which Washington fought to seek our own path.
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So Much to See #3

Previous: So Much to See #2
Next: So Much to See #4

Where is it? What is it?This is visible from one of the main streets of town (as defined by me).Each day or so I'll add a larger image or hint.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/14/DSC_0725a.JPGHints:
1. Not on the west side of town.
2. Slightly larger image
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/16/DSC_0725ab.JPGAnd the answer is:
East Heights Early Childhood and Family Center (formerly East Heights Elementary)
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/17/DSC_0725.JPG

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The New Highway 59 is Coming to Town, or Maybe NOT?

A month or so ago, I happened to notice the highway construction for the new 59 highway the path for utility lines south of Lawrence. Recently, I drove around the area east of "old" 59 between N650 and N1100 Rd. Based on my travels, I did this ROUGH map of what the path into town appears to be. Note that this map only shows the highway starting from N600/650 Rd (1.5 miles east of Zarco south of town).Well, it appears this is actually the path for utility lines into town. Well, it was fun creating the map and taking the pictures. I recently posted on the subject of making mistakes and tolerance. In light of that, this is an interesting turn of events.
View Larger Map
The blue balloon is near where E1450 connects to N600/650. This following image shows the road north (towards Lawrence).
The yellow balloon marks where the highway crosses N800 Rd. The image below looks north towards town.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/12/DSC_0685a.JPGThe red balloon identifies where the highway crosses N1000 Rd (Wells Overlook Rd). The next image looks north.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/12/DSC_0691b.JPGAnd finally, this image looks the other way, back south across Wells Overlook Rd.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/12/DSC_0694a.JPG
The road continues on past N1100 Rd, but sorry, no pictures yet.

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Race In The Race

In the last few days, past copies of The Ron Paul Newsletter revealed ethnically biased political rants and the Clintons made comments that many find disrespectful toward African Americans. But do these incidents represent real evidence of racial bigotry, or are they trumped up allegations intended to sway voters as the focus turns on the South Carolina primary?Personally, I think it's pretty hard to let Ron Paul off the hook for the racial biases in his newsletter. He denies writing the inflammatory passages in question, but is it believable that he had no knowledge of their contents? Some of the statements about whites fearing blacks were so extreme I have a hard time believing he did not get a reaction from the readers. The only way a readership would not react to comments like these would be if they were in agreement with these sentiments. Then, you have to wonder, who are his readers?The Clintons have been under fire for Bill's use of the term "fairy tale" in regards to Barack Obama, and Hillary's statement that "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done." In Bill's defense, when you look at the context of the "fairy tale" analogy, it seems clear he meant it to refer to Obama's stance on the war, not his rise up to becoming presidential candidate.Now, Hillary's statement, on the other hand, can't be dismissed so easily. Overshadowing MLK's heroic actions by giving the credit to Johnson seems pretty condescending. Isn't she basically saying the black man had the dream, but it took the white man to get it done? And perhaps even more disturbing than Hillary's remarks are the comments made by Clinton supporter, NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, that you just can't "shuck and jive" your way through a press conference. So, they made some insensitive comments, does that mean they're racists? Who knows. I just think it is only fair to expect the future president of our country to have an intrinsic respect for the cultures and ethnicities he or she is representing. Maybe someday the word "race" in an election will only refer to the competitive nature of democracy and ethnic biases won't be an inevitable part of presidential discourse.

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The Power of One Word

One WordI don't know Kelly Tilghman except that she is a sports broadcaster and she is friends with Tiger Woods.During coverage last week, she inadvertently used the word "lynch" when jokingly suggesting that the only way other players could beat him was by removing him from the competition. It was unfortunate, and she apologized to the audience and to Tiger. Tiger released a statement that he understood that there was no ill intent.But that was not enough. Al Sharpton has called for her dismissal. The Golf Channel, who initially supported her, has suspended her for two weeks and her future is unclear.People make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are careless and intolerable. Sometimes the consequences are serious and we should do something about it. That is the case here.The mistake, however, is being made by those who are looking for publicity at the expense of others. Racism still exists in this country, but this episode is not really about that problem.The problem is that there are some who spread fear to increase their own power and influence. The fear that they spread makes me concerned that I might say something that people construe differently than I'd intended. It happened to her. It could happen to me and, no matter what your color or religion, it might even happen to you. That is the fear that I am left with. And to be honest, the thought that speaking out against this will cause me to be labeled a racist leaves me just a touch nervous.There are a lot of words that bring back memories of troubled times. One single word can have tremendous consequences.Sometimes, when people make mistakes, we should consider one word as our response:Tolerance.

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If Christmas lights are out, what’s in?

In our home, the fake greenery interwoven with little twinkly lights around windows often stay in place until Valentines Day. The bright, cherry lights of the Holidays leave a void when finally packed away. I like the ambiance of the low lighting.Feeling our home looks like a tacky restaurant, I sought a another solution for brightening the long winter evenings. I found it in timers-those little gadgets that automatically turn lights off and on at certain times. Like the ones used on my twinkly lights.Because of our home's layout, the kitchen area is not cozy. It is large, open and has seating at one end where we read. I plugged the three lamps in that area into my Christmas light timers. Now they come on around 5:30 pm and go off at ll:00 pm. What a wonderful welcome. Stumbling in with all my gear after work, I found the three lamps casting their glow. The chairs and soft lights beckoned a cup of hot tea and a minute to relax. Just what the doctor ordered after a cold, dreary day.Tonight, I finally removed the rest of the Christmas decorations.The timers will remain until the longer days of spring.

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Kansas financial supports for grandparents and other relative caregivers

In response to my last post on grandparents raising their grandchildren a comment was made that SRS pays the grandparents as they would anyone else.We, the citizens of Kansas through SRS, do not assist all grandparents equally. This gets very technical and there are many different types of assistance but I will briefly identify the major types of available financial help. The information below is the latest that I have and may not be current.There are at least 4 different ways that grandparents can obtain financial assistance for raising grandchildren. Each has different rules and reimbursement rates. Then there are those grandparents who may be struggling financially and are asked to assume care of a grandchild but not told of available financial assistance. But that is another story.Grandparents raising grandchildren can obtain financial assistance through:1.Temporary Assistance for Families (TAF) typically provides assistance of about $175 month and medical insurance through Medicaid. The last data I had was that about 500 grandparents in Kansas are receiving this assistance.2.Grandparent caregivers have access to adoption assistance as any other family who adopts through the state child welfare system. Yes, when asked, many grandparents are ready and willing to adopt their grandchildren. SRS reports that nearly 200 children per year are adopted by relatives. We can assume that most of these are grandparents. Not all of these receive financial help.There is a maximum of $400 per month allowed for subsidized adoption. There are also provisions for up to $1000 per child for one time purchases for such items as bedroom furniture, special equipment for handicaps, home modifications, lifts for vans, or respite care. There is an additional $2000 for non-recurring adoption expenses. SSI eligible children may receive up to $500 per month. If the child is eligible for Home and Community Based Services the adoption subsidize maximum is $500 per month plus a $200 special needs payment. 3.Subsidized permanent guardianship - In 1999 the Kansas Legislature allocated $1,000,000 of TAF funds to subsidize permanent guardianship. The maximum subsidy is $225 per month, which supplements child only TAF benefits including a medical card, if the child qualifies for child only TAF. The allocated amount was never used. In recent years about $170,000 of these funds were expended. SRS reports nearly 200 children per year receiving this type of assistance.4.Grandparents are eligible to be licensed foster parents and receive the same reimbursement as any other licensed foster parent. That is about $550 per month. All of this is very complicated and it is unreasonable to expect grandparents who simply want to step up and help the family understand all of this. Certainly we can design a less complex system that provides needed help and honors those grandparents willing to help raise the next generation.

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Darnell Jackson’s Grandmother

Darnell is receiving a lot of press due to the start of a stellar senior year on the basketball court. Part of this press is being reminded of how important his grandmother was to him and her sad death.Being part of a much older generation I had fewer grandparents and was only somewhat close to a grandmother who took care of me for a short time when my mother was hospitalized.Grandmothers may be more important today that ever before. The US Census reports that 32,582 Kansas children were living with a grandparent in 2006. For 21,278 of these children their grandparents are responsible for them. That is Census speak for they are raising their grandchildren.There are a host of reasons that children are being raised by their grandparents and the Census Bureau does not list them. Situations that I have been aware of include poverty, parental drug abuse and incarceration. These grandparents are providing a wonderful service for their children, grandchildren and the state regardless of the reason. The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) is the parent for many children needing an alternative home. During the last fiscal year SRS reports that there were 10,025 children in out of home placement. This is less than half as many children as the grandparents in Kansas are taking care of. SRS also places about 25% of children with relatives and it is likely that many of these relatives are grandparents. As taxpayers we pay for the care of the children in SRS custody. That is another reason to be grateful to those grandparents who have accepted the responsibility to raise their grandchildren. As anyone who has raised children knows it is not always easy juggling child care, jobs and other responsibilities and these grandparents face the same challenges. The more than 21,000 Kansas children in grandparent households were cared for by 19,000 grandparents. Most are relatively young with 17,000 between the ages of 30 and 59 and 13,000 are in the labor force. In other words these are grandparents with lots of other responsibilities and they still took on the task of taking care of the next generation of their family.If you know of a grandparent raising a child, thank her or him.

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The Age Divide: Obama For the Young, Hillary for the Old(er)?

Sure it's a generalization, but I am just looking for a reason behind Obama's loss in New Hampshire. Technically, it was not that much of a loss if you look at the number of delegates, but after the polls put Obama around 12 points in the lead, I think Hillary's victory took everyone by surprise. Looking into the demographics of who voted for which candidates shows some interesting dynamics. More than half of the registered voters in New Hampshire are over 50, so that puts Clinton's win in perspective. She does particularly well with the over 62 folks, while Obama scored 61% of the voters between 18-24. So for the Obama campaign to remain competitive, at this point they should either focus on getting the young people to "rock the vote" or try to woo the older demographic (or heck, why not do both- aren't they putting Wii's in retirement homes these days?).The good news is that enthusiasm is spreading out there for this election and more people than ever are turning out to vote. Both Obama and Republican candidate Ron Paul have strong online support to reach the youth, but the question is, will that be enough?

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A Special Brand of Teacher

This past Sunday I couldn't stop smiling. The skip in my step was all because I ran into an old teacher of mine.My mother and older sister and I were in Target, considering the possible merits of a certain electrostatic duster (of all things), when from the end of the aisle I heard my name, my sister saying, "Yes, that's Sarah."I turned and saw--was it? No. Yes! That familiar walk made me certain--my eighth grade history teacher, Mr. Binns. I had to confess that I almost didn't know him for just a second, though I wasn't sure why."I got old!" Mr. Binns said.No, Mr. Binns, you didn't get old. Years have passed, but you didn't get old. Retirement must agree with you. Substituting when you want to must agree with you. And I don't doubt that you are a popular substitute.After all, I couldn't help thinking for the rest of the day about that very first day of the 8th grade. I remember so clearly that hot, late-summer morning, the second-story classroom, my desk in the front row center, and you, Mr. Binns, acting out a scene of Washington crossing the Delaware.Okay. Maybe the performance didn't win any Oscars, but it made an impression on me, more than any other actor could hope to do. Something stirred awake inside me. I remember thinking, "Hey, I'm going to love history!"And I did. Maybe I wasn't always as good at it as I wanted to be. Goodness knows I didn't get all the answers right. It takes a special brand of teacher to make a student feel smart, like all the world was just waiting for me to come knocking at the door.Remember the Civil War board game I made for that unit's project? You set aside a whole day when the entire class played that game, and in spite of its kinks ( I think poor Richie Nichols spent the whole time in "game jail") you told me I should send it in to Parker Brothers. Well, I know they wouldn't have been clamoring for it. Even if they had, A Change of History (as I named it) wouldn't have flown off the toy store shelves, and I still wouldn't be swimming in royalties. However, your compliment (and the grade, by the way!) was worth more than royalties. I thought of it for years, every time I saw the old red Macy's box that I kept that silly game in.(I hung onto the game for another reason, too. For my birthday present that year, my sister Amy helped me color inthe whole back of that board!)I still love history. I crammed in as much of it as I could in high school. My book shelves are crowded with many history books of one sort or another: Civil War, Lawrence history, biographies, geneology, etc. I wanted a copy of Theodore Roosevelt's autobiography for Christmas, and it's on my shelf now, waiting to be savored.As President Reagan said in his Farewell Address, "If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are."So you gave me quite a gift in your classroom. I know who I am and where I come from, and I intend to pass it along.By the way, Mr. Binns, Sunday afternoon it finally hit me why it took me even a split second to recognize you. No, you didn't get old. It was the glasses. Just the glasses. I'd never seen you in them before.

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