Blog Archives

It’s Veterans Day…

I’ll be clear, here. I am not a veteran of our armed forces. When my eligibility would have occurred I got a 1 Y on my physical and was never allowed in (I was also married with a child and in college at the time.)

What I do remember every Veterans Day, however, is my Uncle Butch (Marine Sgt. Irving B. Tchakirides, my father’s younger brother), who died on his third tour of duty in Viet Nam… a victim of American fire as it happens. Many times I have gone to DC to see his name on the Viet Nam Wall and to remember how much I liked him, along with my other uncles, as a child.

So I wish a Best Veterans Day to the memory of my Uncle Butch and hope that someday we won’t have to think about losing our young men in wars we never should have been in.

 

Fluent Magazine is NOW AVAILABLE!

Take a look at Fluent Magazine, the on-line Arts, Culture and Events magazine for the Eastern Panhandle area.

Yours truly is one of the Associate Editors on it, having written reviews of the CATF season and an article on CATF Director Ed Herendeen.

What’s more there are articles on art, poetry, fiction and much more. And you can subscribe for free!

I hope you’ll take a look at it.

How do we deal with American illiteracy?

Perhaps you are disturbed, as I am, that there are large numbers of Americans appearing in this political season who cannot interpret either the needs of the nation or the words of various experts in how to fill those needs. It is very apparent in the repetition by average Americans of things they hear from sources like Fox News, or even CNN and MSNBC, without evaluating whether they are true.

This has a lot to do with literacy, defined by ProLiteracy.org as “the ability to read, write, compute, and use technology at a level that enables an individual to reach his or her full potential as a parent, employee, and community member.” The statistics?

  • 63 million adults — 29 percent of the country’s adult population —over age 16 don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level.
  • An additional 30 million 14 percent of the country’s adult population — can only read at a fifth grade level or lower.
  • Forty-three percent of adults with the lowest literacy rates in the United States live in poverty.
  • The United States ranks fifth on adult literacy skills when compared to other industrialized nations.
  • In the U.S., 63 million adults — 29 percent of the country’s adult population —over age 16 don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level.
  • An additional 30 million 14 percent of the country’s adult population — can only read at a fifth grade level or lower.
  • Forty-three percent of adults with the lowest literacy rates in the United States live in poverty.
  • The United States ranks fifth on adult literacy skills when compared to other industrialized nations.
  • Adult low literacy can be connected to almost every socio-economic issue in the United States.
  • Low health literacy costs between $106 billion and $236 billion each year in the U.S.
  • Seventy-seven million Americans have only a 2-in-3 chance of correctly reading an over-the-counter drug label or understanding their child’s vaccination chart.
  • Low literacy’s effects cost the U.S. $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.

Got the idea? How do you think the result of these statistics show up during the election season? Take a look:

This is not something that can be corrected in the short term… mores the pity. It requires long-term support of education and the increased employment of teachers. It mandates aiming the majority of our youth to college education as opposed to the military. It means encouraging reading and writing on continuing upgraded levels.

It also requires a massive reduction in the influence of current television programming, something that is the least likely to happen anytime soon.

 

 

Something is wrong with Alphainventions.com…

…and I can’t get in to post my blog updates. I have been trying to get hold of Cheru with no luck.

If you rely on Alphainventions to get info on my newest posts, let me recommend you try Kadency or BlogSurfer where I also post updates.

 

UPDATE

As of 6PM this evening, Alphainventions.com is active again after 48 hours of being offline for reasons I can’t begin to fathom. Welcome back, Cheru.

As a “Kind Atheist” being preferred by any God is a gift I do not require, nor would I open it if received.
However, “Hateful Christians” are in the same category to me as “Hateful Muslims” or “Hateful Jews” or even “Hateful Atheists.” Being hateful is one of the reasons this whole world has been steadily going to pot.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

Actual photo, from the Rose City Park United Methodist Church, in Portland, Oregon.

The sign got a mention in Larry Bingham’s column in The Oregonian, and he says it’s making more headlines.

The Rose City Park United Methodist Church minister’s recent sign, which says “God Prefers Kind Atheists over Hateful Christians” is making headlines all over the place.

My colleague, Religion Writer Nancy Haught, cites it in her story on the shifting terminology between “religion” and “Christian.” And The Christian Post also has a story.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kathy Paxton-Williams.

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Stanley Kunitz remembered…

I was the Director of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown (MA) in the late 70s, and one of the great men and women I worked for there was Center co-founder Stanley Kunitz.

The Pulitzer Prize winning poet, who died in 2006 at age 101, kept working as he got older. His last published poem was called “Touch Me”  and was written in 2005. As I was looking around the web, I found him doing a live reading at age 100 and felt so good hearing him again.

I used to visit with him as he worked on his beloved garden in P-Town. We’d talk about flowers and poets and just about anything. Stanley could always maintain a stimulating conversation.

Just imaging an artist of Kunitz’s stature maintaining his literary power right up to the end of his life gives me a great deal of optimism that we can all maintain our creativity in the face of an anti-creative world.

Here it is:

Thanks for the memory, Stanley.

Starting the third week of moving and we’re still not done…

So help me, moving again is going to take more will than I think I have. We’re still hauling boxes and artwork and clothes and other stuff from 322 Starkey’s to the new house and it is an ongoing exhaustion creator.

To top it off it is raining this weekend and our helper students have football practice for much of it. When this is all done I’m going to sleep for two days straight and then get on with my life.

This morning on my radio show I was stumped for the first time on a play challenge, but, in general it went pretty well. Except, of course, that we weren’t on the internet due to a problem with the provider that the station is having. I’m sorry my regular out-of-town listeners couldn’t tune in today.

The Daily Scoop: Better-educated Republicans doubt climate change; believe Obama’s Muslim

I’m really impressed by the concept “smart idiots effect” which turns up later in the article (when Mashed Potato Bulletin switches over to Salon.) I had always thought that educated Republicans were reachable about Climate Change, but now I find it questionable. What do you think?

Mashed Potato Bulletin

I can still remember when I first realized how naïve I was in thinking—hoping—that laying out the “facts” would suffice to change politicized minds, and especially Republicanones. It was a typically wonkish, liberal revelation: One based on statistics and data. Only this time, the data were showing, rather awkwardly, that people ignore data and evidence—and often, knowledge and education only make the problem worse.

Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming.. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.
Read more…

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Peter Corum’s Plan for Morgan’s Grove Market…

Peter Corum

It was more than a free lunch at the Bavarian Inn today… It was Peter Corum and his team announcing the exciting plans for the Morgans Grove Market area that he started up last summer. This time the goal is to create an Agriculture/Arts/Community campus that will serve many interests locally and do it year round.

Peter called this a “Charette,” which Webster’s defines as:

a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions.

Represented were the architectural firm he has been consulting, various arts and

Participants speaking

humanities “businesses,” agriculture folks, local development people, etc. My wife represented Sustainable Shepherdstown.

Over the course of about two hours just about everyone in the room spoke, made suggestions, pointed out various organizational needs and, in general, gave Peter hands down support on the project.

A really good range of attendees

Now we’ll have to see what comes next with the local and county government, the state and

all the other committees which will get in the way (sort of like the solar LLC discussion we had the other night at Town Hall.)

Well… we support Peter and Under The LobsterScope will keep an eye on this project and report good or bad news to you.

Lunch, btw, was great.

Republicans Plan to Shutter NEA and NEH

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, Galleria d...

Da Vinci didn't have Republicans to contend with.

This is a disturbing piece for all of us in the arts that was published this week by Stage Directions Magazine. I listened to the President last night inspiring us to be first in science and math and engineering… of course he said nothing about our being first in the arts which provides millions of jobs at minimal cost for highly talented people. They may not be creating new automobiles or filling our food plants with dangerous chemistry (like Monsanto), but they create the world view in which our scientists and mathematicians can function.

Once the engineer and the artist were in the same shell… think about Leonardo Da Vinci. Today the arts are considered an easy victim by Republicans out to destroy the things that make life good over the things that make life dangerous.

Back to the article in Stage Directions. Here’s part of it, but please go in and read it all:

clipped from www.stage-directions.com
Mike Boehm, reporting on the L.A. Times Culture Monster arts blog, says that 165 GOP members in the House of Representatives announced a budget-cutting plan on Thursday, Jan 20, that calls for “the elimination of the nation’s two leading makers of government arts grants: the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Also on the chopping block is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
Boehm does a good job of laying out the history of the Republicans vendetta against arts funding, and its fallout: 

“The arts and humanities endowments each get $167.5 million a year; the broadcasting agency, which supports public radio and television, gets $445 million.

“The NEA last had to fight for its survival in 1995, when Republicans gained control of the House and Senate and sought to get rid of the endowment. It had outraged some conservatives with grants that in certain highly publicized cases had supported performances or exhibitions they deemed offensive.

“While the NEA survived, It took a 39% budget cut and saw the elimination of nearly all grants to individual artists.”

None of this is a done deal, of course. Presumably some of the 242 Republican and 193 Democrats representatives in Congress support the arts, and advocacy groups for the arts are out there, too.

Full article here


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