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    Yonkers, NY, is the 4th largest municipality (by population) in New York state. It's nickname is The City of Vision. Believe it or not, Yonkers was once the birthplace of the elevator, synthetic plastic, and the first golf course in these United States.

     Recently, that vision has dimmed, and Yonkers is at risk of being the birthplace of something far less uplifting than the elevator.

      A few weeks ago, our mayor presented a city budget that cuts $42million from Yonkers public schools, while every other municipal division (police, fire, sanitation, mayor/council offices) remained intact. One consequence has been the decision of the superintendent to pinkslip more than 700 teachers and support staff (school psychologists, teachers' aides, bus monitors) due to the elimination of prekindergarten and reduction of kindergarten to half-day status. The Yonkers Public Schools (YPS) are also cutting high school sports and extracurricular programs, and would cut art and music, but those were already eliminated in the last few years, and there's nothing there left to cut.

     I, along with a growing group of parents in Yonkers, have been active in speaking at rallies, city council open hearings, calling state representatives and city council members, and writing letters to local newspapers. It seems the more information we gain, the more convoluted and confused the situation appears to be...

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Not too long ago, I learned from reading Malcolm Gladwell about the importance of a Canadian boy's birthdate to his likely success as an adolescent and even professional hockey player. This morning, I'm back because I've recently learned a completely different, yet compelling, reason why some hockey teams bring home the stainless Stanleys and others don't. And, as hockey season officially kicked off recently, it felt like a timely topic.
Oh yes, and, as with the Malcolm piece, there may be some political implications to be drawn from this particular insight as well.

Please join me for the Jen Ratio of Hockey below the fold.

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BPI-MF-Logo Once upon a time there was a DKos account user named "Kula." Kula wrote witty, informed, insightful, wide-ranging reviews of overnight news events and random things that caught the eye of Kula. These diaries were called Morning Reaction[s].

Then, came NCrissieB, a witty, informed, insightful, and wide-ranging writer who kept the legacy of Kula alive by extending the series through Morning Feature[s] and the Blogistan Polytechnic Institute (click here for more details).

I make no claim to wit, insight, or a wide-range. Unless we count the one in my kitchen. It isn't very wide, but it's wider than some. I do, however, fancy me some information. And I've acquired a lot this week.

Please join me for the collection of things learned this past week, and more importantly, please add your own in the comments that follow...

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Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and so many animated classic feature films that to list them here would exceed intro word-count limits, was also an accomplished futurist. His Epcot* was the largest construction project on Earth at the time it was built. Disney thought he was building a utopian community of 20,000 residents, an example of ideal living for the future. After his death, his company disagreed, and built 141 acres of parking lots instead.

However, his film versions of Snow White, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast all deal with themes and narratives that Jung might call archetypal, and I will call predictive of the Tea Party. It may just be that I've been spending too much time with my 3 year old, or Disney saw something that plays itself out over, and over again (at least in my mind).

Plus, some things I learned this week..

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Hmmmm... 10-02-2010 or 10-30-2010? I'll probably need to do laundry that month, and wash my hair, so I may only be able to squeeze in one multi-day trip to another city that will cost me some money.

Which one?

I'll spare you the mystery.


But, why would I even need to think about it? Why has the announcement of the Rally to Restore Sanity even attracted any attention at all?

Is it because, as Brian Wilson has said, "He's a necessary branch of government?"

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I nearly lost my temper this week. One would think I'd have learned by now to divorce my emotional reactions from the crazy-tea-party emails that are designed to inflame them. But, it remains a challenge, I have to admit. In this case, John Stossel, stop signs, and the Amer. w/ Disabilities Act was a provoking mix of stimuli.

Then, while moving bags and boxes (it seems as though the stuff in the old apt. has sex and multiplies overnight) I managed to catch an NPR program I've never heard before, Speaking of Faith.  It made me smile. It helped me to remember that there are places where people go to have reasoned, grounded discussions of important matters.

And that's when I decided to give it my own shout-out right here. Or, rather, below the fold...

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What is Fascism? And, what is fascism? Are they the same thing? Even the basics about this once seemingly simple to define political philosophy now appear to be flipped upside down?

Fascism is on the extreme left of the political spectrum. True or False.

Fascism is on the extreme right of the political spectrum. True or False.

Turns out, it may just depend on who you ask.

I'm asking you. Feel free to click on your answer in the poll.

Until then, however, a guided tour through the week's emails, websites, and podcasts where your intrepid diarist discovers fascism is more complicated than he once thought.

Or, is it?


Fascism: left-wing philosophy, or right-wing philosophy?

74%40 votes
11%6 votes
9%5 votes
5%3 votes

| 54 votes | Vote | Results

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Lightning never strikes the same place twice. After it strikes (the first time), the place is no longer the same.

I've found this to be the case with my trip home to Ohio this week. You can go back, but you can't really go home. Overall, it's been a great trip, I've seen old friends, spent time with near and far family members, visited old haunts and explored new ones (Main Street Grill in North Canton shout-out! Best Salmon filet I've had in a long time).

But, some things just felt different this week. Well, more different than they have in the past. And then I realized, "Hey...The language is different." Or, if not the language, the discourse. And the code words...

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Let's say you have a child. A child who could be entering kindergarten in a week or two. A big day, that. 1st day in kindergarten. Lots of thoughts of growing up, of your little child's first steps to a legitimate independence from you.

But, let's also say that you have a few other thoughts on your mind about these kindergarten steps. Thoughts informed by Malcolm Gladwell's latest bestseller Outliers, and the Canadian hockey teams he describes in its pages.

Based on those thoughts, should you hold your child back a year, start kindergarten 12 months from now? If that sounds like a ridiculous question, I invite you to read on to see why some parents are not only taking that question seriously, but answering it with a decisive and strategic, "Yes!"

Also, some news bits, some funny bits, and an update on traveling to Ohio, all this and more, after the fold...

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I once had a student come to me and ask me what he had to do to get an A in my class.

"I'll do anything!" he said.

So I said, "Okay, run through that wall over there, and when you're done, run through this wall here."

Well, he tried. He bounced off each wall in a mock effort to do whatever had to be done to get an A.

So I said, "Well. Now I have to give you an F."

"Why?" he asked incredulously.

"Because the first lesson in the humanities is not to do stupid things just because someone in authority tells you to do them."

Many of us, children, adults, and some who fit neither category clearly, will soon be going back to school if we haven't already. This diary, therefore, is a collection of thoughts on the American theme of going back to school.

And, as always, BPI's policy is open enrollment. If you've learned something this week, you are invited to share it in a comment. Please do. We all benefit when we learn from each other.

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Good morning all. Something deeply important to me, today. For the time and cost to you of a quick email message, or a phone call, you too can help encourage an elected official to provide real and innovative support for American public school students (and have something for next Monday's MF Activist roll call!).

But, first, what's this all about?

HR 4223
Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act of 2009
A bill to support evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programming.

I would like to see this one pass. And I'm asking you to take a brief moment of your time to help me see that it does.

This is a chance to make real progress for real students.

I make my case after the fold.

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Tue Aug 03, 2010 at 04:38 AM PDT

Morning Feature (TWLTW): Link List

by Caractacus


I'm a sucker for those top-ten lists in magazines and websites that advertise themselves as the best of whatever category they're purporting to arbitrarily miniaturize to 10 items, and then proceed to place those in some ranked order of goodness, yumminess, or importance.

I just finished one, as a matter of fact, on the best 10 places to live in Westchester County, NY. (We're thinking of moving next month to get Lil' C. into a better pre-k next year, but that's yet another top 10 list to consider...).

In any case, I've accumulated a lot of websites in the past few months, and a few iPod Touch apps, as well. I've been doing a lot of web-based research which has spawned a lot of web-based procrastination clicking of links. And, some of them have led to my learning something!

So, I'm sharing some of them this morning.

Please share yours in the comments!

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