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Entries from blogs tagged with “The Arts”

See the Space Station

It should appear as a fast moving bright star rising in the NW. It should climb to as high as 45 degrees above the horizon before setting in the east.There should be another opportunity just before 6PM on Saturday evening.Here is a NASA site where you can look to see when the Station will be passing overhead at a time when it is visible (dawn or dusk). Click the "Input" tab and enter your zip code, then click "Next Sighting". This applet requires Java be installed, so if you see nothing, that is probably why.It is easy to see. With binoculars, you might be able to see it as more than a bright white dot.

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So Much to See

Next: So Much to See #2

I propose that if we took the time to look more closely at all the things around us each day, we would be the richer for it. So here is what I propose to do:I cropped a picture I took to show a small and hopefully not easily recognizable portion.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out what or where it is. At regular intervals, probably once a day, I'll expand what the image shows or provide a hint, until someone correctly identifies it. If it is a foolish idea, I'll be flamed in comments--if indeed there are any at all. It is just a silly little idea, anyway. I hope you'll spend a little more time each day paying attention to the many interesting things around you.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2007/Dec/20/101-117a.JPG

If you spend much time driving (or taking the T) around Lawrence you will surely be able to see this. Here is the next image:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2007/Dec/21/101-117b.JPG

One more, if you still aren't sure:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2007/Dec/22/101-117d.JPG

Not much of a surprise, but here is the complete image:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2007/Dec/23/101-117img.JPG
And here is a short history of the Castle Tea Room.

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The Best and the Worst—Music 2007

http://www.lawrence.com/blogs/sludge/2007/dec/10/topalbums2007/After reading this blog on lawrence.com, I outlined my picks for the top ten of 2007 with a comment. Of course, I was not satisfied with this, and felt that it was necessary for me to further explore the year in music. My top twenty albums, honorable mentions, and bottom five albums for 2007 are as follows: (NOTE: THIS LIST IS NOT IN THE RIGHT ORDER. INSTEAD, IT SHOULD BE READ BACKWARDS. FOR INSTANCE, CASSADAGA SHOULD BE NUMBER 20, NOT NUMBER 1. WHAT IS LISTED AS NUMBER 2 SHOULD REALLY BE NUMBER 19, AND SO ON. I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED, BUT I CANNOT CHANGE IT.)20. Bright Eyes--Cassadaga | Why, you might ask, am I including this on my top 20 list? True, many were quick to bash Cassadaga for its country-esque vibe, something that until now, is unheard of on a Bright Eyes record. However, like most everything he does, Conor Oberst makes it work, and work quite well. Good examples of this are "Four Winds" and "Soul Singer in a Session Band."19. Battles--Mirrored | The avant-garde instrumental rock on this album takes a bit getting used to, but songs like "Tiji" and "Atlas" help smooth the ride. If you want something differnet, this is the album to check out. It could very well be the future of music.18. Great Nothern--Trading Twilight for Daylight | This album was on sale at the iTunes store for $7.99, and I liked the song "Home," so I decided to check it out, and was not disappointed. Great Northern combines duet-style vocals with electric and synth sounds to create this indie pop gem.17. Sara Bareilles--Little Voice | What's not to like about this album? It's creative, it's fresh, and "Love Song" is taking the airwaves by storm. Don't be fooled by the popularity; it's good.16. Lily Allen--Alright, Still | Lawrencians were up in arms when Allen canceled her show at Liberty Hall, as they should've been. Alright, Still is full of hooks and features the smash hit "Smile." Do you need anything else?15. Ben Lee--Ripe | Ben Lee first made his first big splash when "Catch My Disease" came out in early 2005. The rest of that album, Awake is the New Sleep, is much less memorable, however. Ripe is the perfect ending; the one Awake never had. 14. Amy Winehouse--Back to Black | English soul girl Amy Winehouse certainly has a lot of problems, but she knows how to make music. Does anyone know if she ever did go to rehab?13. Bruce Springsteen--Magic | The E Street Band seems to bring something to Springsteen's albums that is not there when they aren't. Magic, like the Rising, featured the E Street Band. And Magic, like The Rising, is a great album.12. M.I.A.--Kala | M.I.A. is not your Avril Lavigne, Hannah Montana, or Rihanna. She never will be. No, her music is much more interesting and insightful. Kala is rhythmic and beat-laden, but it is a record we all should listen to and appreciate.11. Band of Horses--Cease to Begin | The haunting guitar riff of "Is There a Ghost" and Ben Bridwell's wail of "I could sleeeeeeep" is the perfect beginning to Band of Horses' second album, Cease to Begin. That's not all, though. "Ode to LRC" and "Detlef Schrempf" complement it nicely.10. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals--Lifeline | Soul, folk, and blues all come into play on Lifeline, yet another gorgeous record by Ben Harper and his gang. From the catchy, country soul chorus of "Fool for a Lonesome Train" to the instrumental beauty of "Paris Sunrise #7," BHTIC make it happen.9. Spoon--Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga | On Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, you will find Spoon's classic wiry rock, but you'll also find a touch here and there of soul and blues. This strategy may not work well for most bands, but it doesn't feel the least bit out of place on this album. See "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb."8. Feist--The Reminder | It would seem unethical and irresponsible to not include this album in a list of the year's best albums. Most know this albm only for the infectious hook of "1234" and its respective video. But songs like "My Moon My Man" finish it off.7. Iron & Wine--The Shepherd's Dog | Sam Beam has come a long way from his whispery bedroom folk days and seems to now have gotten into traditional indie rock and 70s rock. That said, The Shepherd's Dog exhibits a wide variety of music ranging from Beam's past ("Carousel") and his more recent work ("Boy with a Coin").6. Modest Mouse--We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank | Modest Mouse has never made a true dud of an album. Ever. That includes this album, which is one of their best. From the "Float On"--esque to songs that sound like Bloc Party's "Kreuzberg," this is definitely NOT a dud.5. Radiohead--In Rainbows | Unless you've been living in a cave these past few months or just don't pay attention to the news, you'll probably know that Radiohead recently offered this entire album as a pick-your-own-price download over the Internet. Maybe this wasn't the smartest move, because giving out music this good just seems wrong.4. Kanye West--Graduation | There hasn't been a rap album this good since, well...Kanye's last album. "Stronger" is the best rap song in the last seven years, and has there ever been a true rap album with a hook as cool as on "Good Life"? Hip hop may not be dead yet, but if it weren't for this guy, I dunno...3. Arcade Fire--Neon Bible | Was there a sound that spoke for the entire year in music better than the chilling organs that open "Intervention"? No way, Jose. "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" isn't too bad either, especially when Win Butler cries, "Nothing lasts forever, that's the way it's gonna be / There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea."2. Wilco--Sky Blue Sky | Pitchfork is usually one of my favorite places to read record reviews, but a 5.2 out of 10 for this album? Seriously. From Tweedy's opening words of optimism (Maybe the sun will shine today / The clouds will blow away / Maybe we won't feel so afraid) to the plain awesomeness of "What Light," listening to this record didn't really leave me with a 5.2 feeling. Try about 4.3 points more.Drumroll, please...1. The Shins--Wincing the Night Away | This album is nearly perfect; there are no bad tracks, and everything works. One could argue that Wincing is much more mainstream than Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow, but it works well for James Mercer and his posse. "Australia" and "Phantom Limb" are more poppish, but amazing tracks all the same. The finale, "A Comet Appears," is so strikingly beautiful that no words in my vocabulary will suffice. Wow.HONORABLE MENTIONSFionn Regan--The End of HistoryMatt Nathanson--Some Mad HopeLCD Soundsystem--Sound of SilverFoo Fighters--Echoes, Silence, Patience, GraceThe White Stripes--Icky ThumpPeter Bjorn and John--Writer's BlockBOTTOM FIVEArctic Monkeys--Flourescent Adolescent (Sorry!)The Killers--Sawdust (I love them, but this album was BORING)Bjork--Volta (I just don't get it.)50 Cent--Curtis (Ugh.)The worst album of 2007:Soulja Boy Tell 'Em--Souljaboytellem.com Oh. My. God (Awful).

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Lawrence, The Way It Was

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

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

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

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Sit and Wait

Sometimes you sit and waitThere is nothing you can doWhen everything seems to be going wellthe other shoe dropsLeaves you wonderingIs it really worth it?You feel failure and despairDon't know where to turn or what to doYou feel the will leave through your fingertipsThe tears flow down your faceIs it really worth it....to fail?Everyone dies after allthere is no where to reach toNo one to pull you upIf you have used all your strength Do you just let go? Fall like a petal from a wilted flower...hit the ground and get swept away......join the petals that have left before you...reunite in the eternal garden......

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A good place to start

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

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The Old Windmill

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

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

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

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

Does anyone remember the Windmill apartments that used to be in that area? Now I know where the name came from.
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Like a Broken Vase

All it took was the thought of something that will never beRemembering that love rarely comes alongAnd when it does it usually doesn't lastThat one moment, one ache in my heartTo take me back to JulyBack to the moment I answered the phoneHeard the hesitation in his voice"Hey Claire, have you talked to mom yet?"I hadn't he would soon realizeHe had to be the one to tell me"Pete shot himself last night, he's dead"Not a day goes by that I don't feel the emptinessThere is something that is missing in my lifeThere is a void that no one can fillNothing will ever heal that painThose that leave me behind, don't leave a voidBecause the void was already thereI am broken, unable to move onI am vase that cannot be filledFor it is crackedA dream that goes unfulfilledBecause I never wakeI am the rose that never blooms Because of the late spring frostI am the wounded horse That must be laid downI will never be whole againThe pain continues to comeIn waves it flows through my bodyLike my body has been hit by a volt of lighteningI fall limp after tears have run til' they run no moreMy body is exhaustedI fear lossI fear Saturday calls from himI miss the laughterThe jokes about "Lak MiSing"This American Life will never be the sameThe life I live will never be the same

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A Move’s a foot…

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

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Mr. Moats

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

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Cooties

This is hilarious.

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A Big Day in Boston!

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

"When you share chemistry with someone:

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

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

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On With the Show!

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

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Now this is really cool.

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

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Synthetic Life

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

iGem2007Missouri Miners

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Governor’s Child Abuse Task Force-Part 3

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

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Robert Hawkins of Omaha

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

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The Name I Am

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.

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Walking Petri Dishes?

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.

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