Friday, September 23, 2011

vIA jmg: Dark Shadows: The Movie

My sister and I were forbidden to watch Dark Shadows after she began waking the house with screams of "No, Barnabas, NO!" Her nightmares continued, however, because we simply took to watching our favorite soap opera at a neighbor's house. The coming movie remake stars Johnny Depp (as Barnabas), Michelle Pfeiffer, and Helena Bonham Carter. Below is a short snippet of the series' opening theme, which scared the shit out of eight year-old me.

REposted FROM Joe

Via JMG: GOP Debates Recap

Three major GOP debates so far and what have we seen?

CHEERS for the death penalty.
CHEERS for letting people die without insurance.
BOOS for active duty gay soldiers.

All the blah-blah-blah from the candidates - almost ignored. It's the audience reactions that keep garnering the press. It's the unbridled gleeful hatred of the Tea Party that keeps earning all those cable news video clips.
reposted from Joe

Via JMG via NASA's Astronomy Photo Of The Day:

Via NASA's Astronomy Photo Of The Day

TAP e Aeroporto Internacional de São Paulo - uma homenagem cosmopolita

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vua JMG: Global Death Graph

In 2008 non-communicable ailments such as cancer and heart disease accounted for 63% of the world's 56 million deaths. That rising figure is attributed to increasing longevity and prosperity in non-First World nations. (Via - Andrew Sullivan)

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Rick Perry Is A Communist

See how he doesn't even bother to put his hand on his heart during the national anthem? Remember all the screaming in 2007 when our current Commie-In-Chief did the same thing? Washington Monthly asks:
"Will the picture of the Republican candidates lead to widespread questions about Perry’s patriotism? Will be it be shown, over and over again, on cable news? Will the Texas governor be asked for an explanation? Or is there some quality about Perry and Obama that makes the former’s patriotism beyond reproach and the latter’s suspect?"

reposted from Joe

Via Senator Bernie Sanders: Why Republicans hate Social Security

Republicans hate Social Security because it has been an extraordinary success and has done exactly what it was designed to do. It is the most successful government program in our nation's history and is enormously popular.

When Social Security was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, that number is 10 percent -- still too high, but a testament to the success of Social Security.

Republicans have spent years demonizing Social Security and spreading lies about its sustainability. They want to scare Americans and build support for making drastic cuts to the program or privatizing it entirely. Their long-term goal is to end Social Security as we know it, and convert it into a private account system which will enable Wall Street to make hundreds of billions in profits.

The truth is that, today, according to the Social Security Administration, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 25 years.

Further, because it is funded by the payroll tax and not the U.S. Treasury, Social Security has not contributed one nickel to our deficit.

Now -- in a prolonged recession that has decimated the poor and middle class and pushed more Americans into poverty than at any point in modern history -- we need to strengthen Social Security. That's why I, along with nine co-sponsors, have introduced the "Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act." This legislation would lift the Social Security Payroll tax cap on all income over $250,000 a year, would require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share into the Social Security Trust Fund, and would extend the program for the next 75 years.

Join me now as a citizen co-sponsor of the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act.
For 76 years, through good times and bad, Social Security has paid out every benefit owed to every eligible American. The most effective way to strengthen Social Security for the next 76 years is to scrap the payroll tax cap for those earning $250,000 a year or more.

Right now, someone who earns $106,800 pays the same amount of money into Social Security as billionaires like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. That is because today, all income above $106,800 is exempt from the Social Security tax. As a result, 94% of Americans pay Social Security tax on all of their income, but the wealthiest 6% do not.

That makes no sense.

The "Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act" will ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security without cutting benefits, raising the retirement age or raising taxes on the middle class.

Join me and Democracy for America in fighting to strengthen Social Security -- Sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act.

Social Security is keeping tens of millions of seniors out of poverty today. I can think of no more important issue facing our country today than making sure that Social Security remains strong for generations to come.

Thank you.


Senator Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator from Vermont

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Via JMG: "Peace Is Hard" President Obama UN Speech To The General Assembly pt.3

AMAZING: "No country should deny people their rights, the freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere." - JMG

Via JMG: Manhattan Mini-Storage Vs. Crazy Eyes

Manhattan Mini-Storage's ads have long been famously bitchy. (One chestnut said, "New York City has six professional sports teams. Plus the Mets.") But advertising critic Copyranter doesn't like this latest attempt.

reposted from Joe

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Via Los Angeles Times (via J Becker): Moving beyond 'blame the teacher'

From The Los Angeles Times, Friday, September 16, 2011. See,0,
2592824.story .
Moving beyond 'blame the teacher'

The problem with schools isn't teachers; it's a management system that pushes them aside.

By Saul Rubinstein, Charles Heckscher and Paul Adler
Most of the current efforts to improve public education begin with the flawed assumption that the basic problem is teacher performance. This "blame the teacher" attitude has led to an emphasis on standardized tests, narrow teacher evaluation criteria, merit pay, erosion of tenure, privatization, vouchers and charter schools. The primary goal of these measures has been greater teacher accountability - as if the weaknesses of public education were due to an invasion of our classrooms by uncaring and incompetent teachers. That is the premise of the documentary, "Waiting for Superman," and of the attacks on teachers and their unions by politicians across the country.

We see distressing parallels between this approach to quality in education and the approaches that failed so badly in U.S. manufacturing. Recall the reaction of domestic manufacturers in the 1970s as Japanese competitors began to take market share: Many managers and an army of experts blamed American workers. They denounced workers' "blue-collar blues," lackadaisical attitudes and union job protections as the chief impediments to higher quality, productivity and competitiveness.

It took nearly two decades for manufacturers to realize that this diagnosis was deeply flawed and that the recommendations that flowed from it were leading U.S. industry further into decline. Recall the success of Japanese-run auto transplants operating in this country during the 1980s: They reached world-class quality levels with a U.S. workforce, in some cases a unionized workforce, while domestic auto companies continued to blame American workers and saw their quality levels stagnate.

Noticing the discrepancy, a growing number of manufacturers turned to the teachings of the quality guru W. Edwards Deming. Deming argued that U.S. industry's failure was not in its workers but in the system they labored under. He taught that pushing workers to work harder in a poorly designed system cannot improve outcomes. U.S. firms were being outcompeted because they relied on an outdated management system in which decisions were all top-down, tasks were narrowly specialized and workers were told to leave their brains at the factory door. To fix quality, manufacturers needed to fix these systems, and to do that, they needed to involve workers in that effort. Do those two things, and American workers were willing and able to achieve world-class levels of performance.

Much of the current wave of school reform is informed by the same management myths that almost destroyed U.S. manufacturing. Instead of seeing teachers as key contributors to system improvement efforts, reformers are focused on making teachers more replaceable. Instead of involving teachers and their unions in collaborative reform, they are being pushed aside as impediments to top-down decision-making. Instead of bringing teachers together to help each other become more effective professionals, district administrators are resorting to simplistic quantified individual performance measures. In reality, schools are collaborative, not individual, enterprises, so teaching quality and school performance depend above all on whether the institutional systems support teachers' efforts.

There are, thankfully, some examples of education reform that have moved beyond the blame-the-teacher view. A 2010 study by researchers at Rutgers University unpacked the lessons of six cases - from across the country, urban and rural, large and small - in which teachers, unions and administrators have worked together in their school districts to improve student performance. One case, the ABC Unified School District, about 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles, created a partnership between the administration and the ABC Federation of Teachers that goes back more than 10 years.

In this partnership, teachers, union representatives and administrators have developed rigorous peer assistance, mentoring and evaluation systems that have raised the level of teaching quality. They have worked together on recruiting, compensation and retaining high-quality teachers and administrators. The district has collaborated with teachers on planning, curriculum design and improving instructional practices. They have brought teachers together in teams to integrate student learning across disciplines and evaluate student progress. They have expanded opportunities for parent involvement.

Performance results have been outstanding. Although 25% of students are English-language learners and about 46% get free or reduced-price lunches, over the last decade the district has performed well above the state average on California's Academic Performance Index, with strong growth in these scores of about 10% per year. The district's graduation rate is 89.1%, while the statewide rate is 74.4%.

Another example is the Plattsburgh City School District in upstate New York, where the Plattsburgh Teachers' Assn. participates in, and sometimes leads, committees that oversee textbook selection, professional development, teacher evaluation, mentoring and peer coaching, curriculum development, long-range planning for the use of information technology and analysis of student test scores and performance. Since 1977, the union has been an integral part of the search and hiring process of teachers and administrators, including the superintendent. Here, 52% of students receive free or reduced-price lunches, yet student performance exceeds the averages for proficiency across the state in language arts, math and science. The Plattsburgh high school graduation rate improved from 72% in 2004 to 88% last year; the statewide average was 73.4%.

These cases and many others like them were highlighted in February at the U.S. Department of Education's conference on "Advancing Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration," and in October at the "National Conference on Collaborative School Reform," organized by the American Federation of Teachers working with Rutgers University, Cornell University and MIT. These districts offer proven models consistent with the best practices of U.S. industry.

As school begins, we would do well to remember Deming's lesson: In education as in industry, progress toward quality will require collaboration among administrators, teachers and their unions.
PHOTO SIDEBAR:  The documentary "Waiting for "Superman" questioned this country's public education system. (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
Saul Rubinstein and Charles Heckscher are professors at Rutgers University and co-directors of the Center for Organizational Learning and Transformation; Paul Adler is a professor at the Marshall School of Business at USC. The Rutgers study referred to is available at

Quote of the Day:

“It is wrong that in the United States of America a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million."

Anybody who says we can't change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out.”

President Obama

Monday, September 19, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - 5 Minutes of Slow Motion Video - September 17

Via JMG: 24 Types Of Libertarians

Embiggen or view here. (Via JMG reader Mimi)

reposted from Joe

Charter for Compassion

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
Copyright 2011 by Daniel C. Orey All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.