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Wed May 13, 2015 at 10:33 PM PDT

A MUST-READ from Mark Bittman

by teacherken

titled No Justice, No ... Anything.

As expect, he starts by writing about food, about talking about food.

But as he makes clear, even as he returns to food again and again, the real issues are poverty and inequality and injustice.

As he notes early in the column

Without economic justice there is no nutritional literacy, there is no good eating, there is no health.
And ultimately the result is murder by a thousand cuts.

You should read the whole column.

It is 1.30 in the morning, and I just had to help my wife with a dead car battery after working late, so I am not that coherent.  Rather than try to analyze the piece in greater detail, I will push fair use and give you Bittman's final four grafs, and then urge you to yes, read the whole thing, and also, pass it on.

Not long ago African-Americans were enslaved; until recently they were lynched. Isolated racist murders still occur, but they are no longer sanctioned or tolerated, and we’re seeing the vestiges of that as both national and local attention is paid to violence by the police against black people.

But oppression and inequality are violence in another form. When people are undereducated, impoverished, malnourished, un- or under-employed, or underpaid and working three jobs, their lives are diminished, as are their opportunities. As are the opportunities of their children.

This is unjust and intolerable. The bad news is that we should be ashamed of ourselves: As long as these things are true, this is not the country we say it is or the country we want it to be.

The good news is that it’s fixable, not by “market forces” but by policies that fund equal education, good-paying jobs, and a good food, health and well-being program for all Americans.


is certainly a tradition we can well trace back to the Adams family, with the 2nd and 6th Presidents, to the Harrisons, with two presidents separated by a generation, and of course to the Bushes with two Presidents, and possibly a third.

I was thinking about this phenomenon, and without having to do any research came up with this:

Kathleen Sebelius - father Rep. John Gilligan
Nancy Pelosi - father Mayor and Rep.  Tommy D’Allessandro
Patrick Kennedy - father Bobby Kennedy, Uncle Ted Kennedy - Grandfather Joe Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy Towndsend -  same
Rep. Joe Kennedy II - same
Joe Kennedy III - son of Joe Kennedy II, and thus 4th generation
Andrew Cuomo - father Governor Mario Cuomo
Mark Prior - father Sen. David Prior
George W Bush & Jeb Bush - father Pres. George H. W. Bush, grandfather Sen. Prescott Bush - and note, George P. Bush, elected in TX, is now the 4th generation
John Dingell - father Rep. John Dingell Sr.
Mitt Romney - father Gov. George Romney
Jay Rockefellar - nephew of Govs Nelson and Winthrop Rockefellar
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito - daugher of Gov. Arch Moore
Former Rep Alan Mollohan - son of Rep Robert Mollohan
Former Rep. Dan Boren - son of former Senator David Boren
Robin Carnahan - daughter of Mel and of Jean
Rep. Russ Carnahan - the same
Connie Mack IV - son of Connie Mack III  - and if you go back several generations you will find more politicians in the family tree

There are of course many more

In New York there was Hamilton Fish after Hamilton Fish. Going back to the early years of the Republic.

Howard Baker had both of his parents serve in Congress, and of course he married another Senator.

Rep. Susan Molinaro was the daughter of a politician and married another Congressman

And I have not even begun to examine all the examples of spouses who were both in politics, sometimes with the wife appointed to fill the seat of a deceased husband, or running

The thing is, we may not officially be an aristocracy, but far too often people get elected because they have a well-known name.

We may be less egalitarian and non-aristocratic than we think, eh?

Add more examples (there are hundreds) in the comments if you like.



Fri May 08, 2015 at 03:25 AM PDT

..the America of our youth . . . .

by teacherken

Among the complaints I have read among the various bloviations on the right is that the young people growing up today will have no knowledge of the America of our youth.

I turn 69 two weeks from tomorrow.

I have a couple of reactions to that kind of statement.

First, if they have teachers like me they WILL have knowledge of what America was like when I was young.

And they should be damn glad that they are not living in times like those, for the most part.

Let me explain.

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The first two steps toward uplifting young black men are simple: Stop killing them and stop locking them in prison for nonviolent offenses.
That is the first sentence of this powerful Washington Post column by Eugene Robinson for Tuesday's paper, whose title I borrowed for this post.

As is usually the case, it is extremely well-written and to the point.

"Broken windows" policing, as it is also known, is often justified by a rationale that aggressive policing in minority communities is appropriate because that it is where the crime is.  Robinson notes that they might well point at Freddie' Gray's history of drug arrests and the fact that he ran, because if he had nothing to hide he should simply have stood there.

But this argument overlooks a universal phenomenon: We find things where we look for them.

If police concentrate their patrols in a certain area and assume every young man they see is a potential or probable criminal, they will conduct more searches — and make more arrests. Which means a high percentage of young men in that neighborhood will have police records. Which, in turn, provides a statistical justification for continued hyper-aggressive police ­tactics.

Please keep reading.
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Mon May 04, 2015 at 02:04 AM PDT

Race, Class and Neglect

by teacherken

is the title of this column by Paul Krugman in today's New York Times.  It starts with the notion that we still have a problem with race, as exemplified by what happened with Freddie Gray and the resulting disturbances in Baltimore.

But Krugman is, after all, an economist, and in his second paragraph he tells us

And the riots in Baltimore, destructive as they are, have served at least one useful purpose: drawing attention to the grotesque inequalities that poison the lives of too many Americans.
He follows that by pointing out that "debilitating poverty" and the concomitant "alienation from society" are from from being unique to Black communities:  
In fact, much though by no means all of the horror one sees in Baltimore and many other places is really about class, about the devastating effects of extreme and rising inequality.
Referring to the data (about which I have postged) showing the relationship of life expectancy in Black Baltimore neighborhoods to Third World Countries, he notes that a similar disparity can be seen in rising death rates among lower class Whites:  
Most notably, mortality among white women has increased sharply since the 1990s, with the rise surely concentrated among the poor and poorly educated; life expectancy among less educated whites has been falling at rates reminiscent of the collapse of life expectancy in post-Communist Russia.
Please keep reading.
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I thank MsSpentyouth for the Facebook post that made me aware of it.

As far as i could tell it had not yet been shared here.

Watch and then respond in the comments.

Follow this link to the Facebook post where I saw the video.  The video will play immediately.



Sun May 03, 2015 at 05:03 PM PDT

Another update on Felicity

by teacherken

Our now three-legged cat came home just before Noon yesterday.  We have her in a downstairs room.  After several times when she hid behind bookcases where we could not reach her, I emptied the bookcases enough to be able to move them flat against the wall so she could not get behind them.  She could in theory be under the bed such that one person could not get her, but with both of us we can get her when we need to medicate her.

There is a cabinet in the bathroom where we have put towels and that is her hiding place.

After almost 36 hours since she came home, it is clear that she is NOT trying to lick the incision, so we have largely taken off the Elizabethan collar because when it is on it is difficult for her to eat or drink.

She rests a lot.  She has begun to eat and drink some.  We still medicate her several times a day.  She is getting back to normal - the indication of that is that she hisses at me - although she does not scratch me when I pick her up.  She will cuddle with both of us, and with our oldest cat LionEl Tiger.  

The financial strain has turned out to be less than expected.  The bills came in almost $1100 less than expected, and we have a refund coming.  Further, the first two payments were made before we realized that since I as her co-owner am a senior citizen, we should have been receiving a 10% discount, and that will add several hundred dollars to the refund.

While things are still somewhat tight, we now expect to get through this period without major financial stress, although we were willing to bear it if necessary.

While we appreciate all the suggestions about various forms of fundraising, we have assets that could be used, albeit it at a penalty.  We feel that such methods of fundraising are better aimed at those who do not have such assets.  

We would have been embarrassed to be receiving even small contributions from generous people whose financial condition is more tenuous than is our own.

It is not that we are unwilling to accept generosity from others, please do not misunderstand.

And I appreciate the suggestion that anything we might have received in excess of what we needed to pay these bills could have gone to set up funding for people with no other alternative than perhaps to put down their animals.

We appreciate the love and generosity that was offered.  That is sufficient for us now.

Now I have to refocus myself towards obtaining a teaching job for next year.  I will interview for a possibly fantastic opportunity at 10 AM on Friday.  Wish me well.



Sun May 03, 2015 at 07:02 AM PDT

"Freddie Gray Never Had a Chance"

by teacherken

is the title of this short piece by Eugene Robinson in the Post Partisan section of the Washington Post.

Robinson reminds us that the entire incident reeks of racial bias.

Gray was on a street corner.   Not  a crime.

He made eye contact with the police.  Not a crime.

He ran from the police.  Not a crime.

But he was a young African-American man in a depressed inner-city neighborhood, so he enjoyed a presumption of guilt, not of innocence. He never had a chance.
The police pursued him, caught him, and searched him.

The knife he had was legal under Maryland law, at which point he should have been released.  He was not.

Then Robinson offers two paragraphs, which puts this all in the appropriate context:

Police officers exercise discretion every day. They don’t stop everyone they see walking in the street, selling loose cigarettes, driving with a broken tail light or loitering on a “high-crime” corner. They make choices. Far too often, they choose to assume that black men must be guilty of something – and look for reasons to arrest them.

Imagine what would happen if police cruised the nation’s wealthiest suburbs, looking for excuses to arrest people. Imagine the outrage if officers regularly patrolled golf courses, taking middle-aged white men into custody for illegally betting on the outcome of a match. Imagine how people would react if such a trumped-up arrest ended in the death of the person being arbitrarily detained.

Carry it further.  Imagine March Madness if all the people participating in brackets for money were to be arrested for illegal gambling.  Or every Sunday with pools for the NFL games.

Or consider just last night, where at the intersection of Penn and North in a Black section of Baltimore curfew violators were immediately arrested and people were pepper-sprayed and press were penned up, whereas in white Hampden three separate warnings to disperse were given, with police even saying they did not want to handcuff people.

Robinson's final sentence is absolutely on target:  

But the “Black Lives Matter” campaign should continue – until they actually do.
The question is whether that day will ever truly come, or is the historic stain of racism as a part of America going to continue indefinitely?
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.
Those are the concluding words to Non-Violence as Compliance, a powerful piece at The Atlantic by Ta=Nehisi Coates, who tells us
I grew up across the street from Mondawmin Mall, where today's riots began. My mother was raised in the same housing project, Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray was killed. Everyone I knew who lived in that world regarded the police not with admiration and respect but with fear and caution.

One note -  Coates wrote before the announcement by the States Attorney of the arrest.  Thus he has Freddie Gray in possession of an illegal switchblade.  The knife found by the police was not a switchblade, but rather a legal flip-knife that was closed and clipped inside his pocket.  Once that determination was made there was no grounds for Gray's arrest under Maryland law.

Read the Coates piece.  It is pointed.  It provides context for why someone like Freddie Gray might well run from a policeman, an action that is NOT grounds for arrest unless the police are attempting to place him under arrest for other charges, a point made forcefully to me yesterday by a member of a police department in a jurisdiction in the Baltimore metro area.


If you want some context to the recent events in Baltimore, read the piece linked below.  

Let me note as one who has taught just outside Baltimore for the past two years (first in Glen Burnie and now in Catonsville) that while the current unemployment rate in Baltimore is 8% that among African_American men 18-35 it is 30%

The piece contains a map of the Baltimore area with a loop showing population changes that is also quite illuminating.

Note that the loss of jobs for working class people has a great deal to do with the increasing inequity in a city like Baltimore

Here's the link.  


Fri May 01, 2015 at 02:31 PM PDT

an update on Felicity

by teacherken

Yesterday, in this posting, I explained about our youngest (at 12 years 7 months) rescued cat, her cancer, and her forthcoming leg amputation because of a tumor that encircled the leg.

She had to be hydrated and get her temperature down, but that went well and she did not need a transfusion before the surgery, and based on the reporting from the surgeon, probably will not now afterward.

She did very well, she is recovering, and tentatively we will bring her home midday tomorrow.  She will have to be kept in a confined space for about 10-14 days, so we will probably close her in a downstairs room that still has carpeting - there is some concern about her being on a slicker surface (such as hardwood) until she adjusts to being only three-legged.  Our oldest cat, LionEl, with whom she is very close, will be confined with her, and the third cat, Elsa, who can be a bit of a handful, only allowed to mix when we are around.

Felicity will also need oral medications several times a day, but these are liquids which are much easier to administer.

We thank you all for your support and your concern.



and all your previously decided priorities get tossed out.

Earlier this month my wife discovered a growth on the right rear leg of one of our three remaining rescued cats, Felicity, the shyest. She and her now deceased sister were feral, and probably quite inbred - and unusual, in being orange females.  Both had health problems over the decade plus since they joined us.  Both had had to have radiation therapy for hyperthyroidism.  Her sister, Angelica, developed kidney cancer and we had to say goodbye to here.

We took Felicity in to see our long-time (since 1982) vet Steve Rogers.  He was pretty sure it was a cancer, but arranged for some testing.  When the results came back we went to see him.  We were referred to a very good veterinary oncologist at the Hope Center in Vienna, which has cancer, surgery, etc., and a 24 hour emergency service that we have had to use on more than one occasion, last rushing there with Cielito, who was laboring from an undiagnosed congenital heart disease that took his life before I could drive the five miles.

A week ago yesterday we had our first visit with the oncologist, Dr. Beck, some preliminary testing was done, and on the basis of that we arranged to bring Felicity back this past Monday, leaving her all day, having kept her from food from the midnight before.  More tests and a biopsy were done.  We knew there was a cancer, we did not know what kind, we did not know if it had spread beyond the tumor which totally encircled her leg.

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