Sunday, February 28, 2010

Important: Corporadoes trying to steal your ownership rights in the stuff you buy

Yikes. Anyone who has an opportunity to boycott AutoCAD should grab it with both hands.

Something actually worth worrying about while you forget about dark-skinned photographers

CHICAGO - JULY 08:  A sign advertises space fo...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Salem is right in the cross-hairs on this -- the bursting of the commercial real-estate bubble that is going to make our residential real-estate bubble collapse seem like a day in the park.
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Racist nonsense from the home of the formerly brave

Salem water mapSalem's water supply -- obviously this photographer should be waterboarded. Image by Jason McHuff via Flickr

Or, why the FBI is too busy to pay attention to a call from the Christmas (Would-Be) Bomber's own Dad to warn us that he was up to no good.
The FBI said Saturday that agents are trying to learn the identities of nine men who were photographed taking pictures photographs of Detroit Dam on Feb. 14.

FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said the Portland office received photographs that were taken by a worker at the dam.

The worker thought that men photographing the dam appeared suspicious, and the worker's photographs of the men were turned over to local authorities before they were handed over to the FBI, according to a story originally published in the Albany Democrat-Herald.

The Democrat-Herald described the men as being of "Middle Eastern" descent.
Here's a news flash the Democrat-Herald and the Stateman-Journal might want to consider:

Taking photos of dams, power lines, airports, schools, bridges, tall buildings, courthouses, tall buildings, sewer plants, or government buildings is NOT ILLEGAL! Even if you "look" Middle Eastern!

In fact, in America, if it's visible from a public place where you have a right to be

And you don't have to give your camera to some rent-a-cop or delete them because a cop tells you to. Newspapers, in fact, back when they were more than mouthpieces for government officials, often used to rely on this important idea to fight back against the occasional small-time fascist who snagged a government job and liked to pretend that doing so gave him the power to tell the rest of us what to do, never mind that annoying "constitution" thing.

UPDATE: Where photophobia + the usual hysterias lead:

Father stopped from taking picture of his son, 4, on children's train ride 'in case he was a paedophile

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To all Salemites with children or grandchildren

Read and heed. Or be damned by your progeny.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Be there, aloha

Art of Game Design

Games are probably the best instructional media there is -- naturally, they are mostly ignored or actively opposed by most "educators." In the years to come, we're going to need to totally redesign our system of edumacation, and recognizing the central role of games, especially when designed by the learners themselves, would be a good step toward making the change go well.

Games are not just "how-to-make-fun" -- games are the art of using a fun or absorbing activity as a way to teach skills and provide insights.
The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses
Jesse Schell
2008, 512 pages

Sample excerpts:

We must be absolutely clear on this point before we can proceed. The game is not the experience. The game enables the experience, but it is not the experience. This is a hard concept for some people to grasp.


Lens #1: The Lens of Essential Experience

To use this lens, you stop thinking about your game and start thinking about the experience of the player. Ask yourself these questions:

* What experience do I want the player to have?
* What is essential to that experience?
* How can my game capture that essence?

If there is a big difference between the experience you want to create and the one you are actually creating, your game needs to change: You need to clearly state the essential experience you desire, and find as many ways as possible to instill this essence into your game.


Let's review the list of game qualities we have picked out of these various definitions:

Q1. Games are entered willfully.
Q2. Games have goals.
Q3. Games have conflict.
Q4. Games have rules.
Q5. Games can be won and lost.
Q6. Games are interactive.
Q7. Games have challenge.
Q8. Games can create their own internal value.
Q9. Games engage players.
Q10. Games are closed, formal systems.


The thing that really seems to bother people about calling puzzles games is that they are not replayable. Once you figure out the best strategy, you can solve the puzzle every time, and it is no longer fun. Games are not usually this way. Most games have enough dynamic elements that each time you play you are confronted again with a new set of problems to solve. Sometimes this is because you have an intelligent human opponent (checkers, chess, backgammon, etc.), and sometimes it is because the game is able to generate lots of different challenges for you, either through ever-advancing goals (setting a new high score record) or
through some kind of rich challenge-generation mechanism (solitaire, Rubik's Cube, Tetris, etc.)

Specifically, that the player puts their mind inside the game world, but that game world really only exists in the mind of the player? This magical situation, which is at the heart of all we care about, is made possible by the game interface, which is where player and game come together. Interface is the infinitely thin membrane that separates white/yang/player and black/yin/game. When the interface fails, the delicate flame of experience that rises from the player/game interaction is suddenly snuffed out. For this reason, it is crucial for us to understand how our game interface works, and to make it as robust, as powerful, and as invisible as we can.


Experiences without feedback are frustrating and confusing. At many crosswalks in the United States, pedestrians can push a button that will make the DON'T WALK sign change to a WALK sign so they can cross the street safely. But it can't change right away, since that would cause traffic accidents. So the poor pedestrian often has to wait up to a minute to see whether pressing the button had any effect. As a result, you see all kinds of strange button-pressing behavior: some people push the button and hold it for several seconds, others push it several times in a row, just to be safe. And the whole experience is accompanied by a sense of uncertainty -- pedestrians can often be seen nervously studying the lights and DON'T WALK sign to see if it is going to change, because they might not have pushed the button correctly.

What a delight it was to visit the United Kingdom, and find that in some areas the crosswalk buttons give immediate feedback in the form of an illuminated WAIT sign that comes on when the button has been pushed, and turns off when the WALK period has ended (Figure 13.9)! The addition of some simple feedback turned an experience where a pedestrian feels frustrated into one where they can feel confident and in control.


For all the grand dreams of interactive storytelling, there are two methods that dominate the world of game design. The first and most dominant in videogames is commonly called the "string of pearls " or sometimes the "rivers and lakes " method. It is called this because it can be visually represented like this:

The idea is that a completely non-interactive story (the string) is presented in the form of text, a slideshow, or an animated sequence and then the player is given a period of free movement and control (the pearl) with a fixed goal in mind. When
the goal is achieved, the player travels down the string via another non-interactive sequence, to the next pearl, etc. In other words, cut scene, game level, cut scene, game level...

Many people criticize this method as "not really being interactive, " but players sure do enjoy it.


If 10 choices sounds kind of short, and you want to have 20 opportunities for three choices from the beginning to the end of the story, that means you'll need to write 5,230,176,601 outcomes. These large numbers make any kind of meaningful branching storytelling impossible in our short life spans. And sadly, the main way that most interactive storytellers deal with this perplexing plethora of plotlines is to start fusing outcomes together -- something like:


Problem #3: Multiple Endings Disappoint

One thing that interactive storytellers like to fantasize about is how wonderful it is that a story can have multiple endings. After all, this means the player will be able to play again and again with a different experience every time! And like many fantasies,
the reality tends to disappoint. Many games have experimented with having multiple endings to their game story. Almost universally, the player ends up thinking two things when they encounter their first ending in one of these.

1. "Is this the real ending? "
2. "Do I have to play this whole thing again to see another ending?"

There are exceptions, of course. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic featured a novel type of player choice -- did they want to play the game on the "light side " or "dark side " of the force -- that is, with good or evil goals? Depending on which of the paths you choose, you have different adventures, different quests, and ultimately a different ending. It can be argued that this isn't really a case of two different endings on the same story, but two completely different stories -- so different that they are each equally valid.


Problem #4: Not Enough Verbs

The things that videogame characters spend their time doing are very different than the things that characters in movies and books spend their time doing:

Videogame Verbs: run, shoot, jump, climb, throw, cast, punch, fly
Movie Verbs: talk, ask, negotiate, convince, argue, shout, plead, complain

Videogame characters are severely limited in their ability to do anything that requires something to happen above the neck. Most of what happens in stories is communication, and at the present time, videogames just can't support that. Game
designer Chris Swain has suggested that when technology advances to the point that players can have an intelligent, spoken conversation with computer-controlled game characters, it will have an effect similar to the introduction of talking pictures.
Suddenly, a medium that was mostly considered an amusing novelty will quickly become the dominant form of cultural storytelling. Until then, however, the lack of usable verbs in videogames significantly hampers our ability to use games as a storytelling medium.


As the character tries to overcome the obstacles, interesting conflicts tend to arise, particularly when another character has a conflicting goal. This simple pattern leads to very interesting stories because it means the character has to engage in problem-solving (which we find very interesting), because conflicts lead to unpredictable results, in other words, surprises (which we find very interesting), and because the bigger the obstacle, the bigger the potential for dramatic change (which we find very interesting).

Are these ingredients just as useful when creating videogame stories? Absolutely
and maybe even more so.


One focus group I witnessed was trying to determine where the average mom drew the line about what videogames were "too violent " for their kids. Virtua Fighter was okay, said the moms, Mortal Kombat was not. The difference? Blood. It wasn't the actions that were involved in the games that bothered them (both games are mostly about kicking your opponent in the face), but rather the graphic bloodshed in Mortal Kombat that is completely absent in Virtua Fighter. They seemed to feel that without bloodshed, it was just a game -- just imaginary. But the blood made the game creepily real, and to the moms in the interviews, a game that rewarded bloodshed felt perverse and dangerous.

Friday, February 26, 2010

sam smith's pocket paradigms on war and peace


Sam Smith

War is the joint exercise of things we were trained not to do as children.

War is doing things overseas that we would go to prison for at home.

Anyone can start a war. Starting a peace is really hard. Therefore it is much harder to be a peace expert than a war expert.

The media treats war as just another professional sport.

War has rules, which means that we can change the rules.

Murder, rape and slavery still exist. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have banned them. The same is true of war.

Telling a country we won't negotiate with it until it does what you want is like saying you won't play a game unless you are allowed to win.

There is no evidence that supporting war, or telling presidents to do so, improves your testosterone level, so Ivy League professors are better advised to stick to tennis.

There is one way to deal with guerilla warfare and that is to resolve the problems that allow it to thrive. The trick is to undermine the violence of the most bitter by dealing honestly with the problems and complaints of the most rational.

Of course, there can be peace with so-called terrorist organizations; it's just a matter of whether one waits the better part of a century, as the British did in Northern Ireland, or whether you start talking and negotiating now.

Three thousand people is, of course, far too many to die for any reason. But it is also far too weak an argument for the end of democracy.

Peace is a state of reciprocity, of trust, of empirically based confidence that no one is about to do you in. It exists not because of intrinsic goodness or rampant naivete but because of a common, implicit understanding that that it works for everyone.

Implicit in the "what about their violence?" argument is the idea that what we do wrong is excusable because it has been matched by the other side. Of course, the other side sees it the same way so you end up with a perfect stalemate of violence. When I raised a similar argument as a kid, my mother's response was, "If Johnny were to jump off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff, too?" I never could come up with good answer to that and so eventually had to concede that somebody else's stupidity was not a good excuse for my own.

From the moment we commence a moral intervention we become a part of the story, and part of the good and evil. We are no longer the innocent bystander but a full participant whose acts will either help or make things worse. Our intentions become irrelevant; they are overwhelmed by the character of our response to them. The morality of the disease is supplanted by the morality of the cure. In fact, every moral act in the face of mental or physical injury carries twin responsibilities: to mend the injury and to avoid replacing it with another

One of the reasons America is in so much trouble is because it happily makes all sorts of compromises in order to get along with large dictatorships such as Russia and China, but thinks it can handle smaller operations like Hamas, North Korea, and Iran by simple obstinacy and belligerence. In other words, it is happy to talk with big terrorists, but not little ones. In fact, most of these small entities - and those who lead them - suffer from extreme inferiority complexes. By threatening war, imposing massive embargos and so forth, America merely feeds the sense of persecution and encourages the least rational reaction. A more sensible approach would be to constantly negotiate with these leaders and edge them towards reasonable participation in world affairs.

Imagine if we had told Israel and Palestine a few years ago that if they would just make nice we would give them enough money to equal Israel's GDP for one year and Palestine's for three. Take the time off, go to the Riviera or the Catskills, forget about productivity, and just party on thanks to the American taxpayer. Or if Israel and Palestine wanted to be really sensible, they could have invested in their countries' future instead. Think how much safer we would be today. . . But where would such a large sum of money come from? Well, all we would have had to have done was to cancel the invasion of Iraq and used the money as a carrot rather than as a bludgeon. For that is just what it has cost us so far. (2007)

The people who built castles and walled cities and moats are all dead now and their efforts at security seem puny and ultimately futile as we visit their unintended monuments to the vanity of human presumption. Like the castle-dwellers behind the moat, we are now spending huge sums to put ourselves inside a prison of our own making. It is unlikely to provide either security for our bodies nor solace for our souls, for we are simply attacking ourselves before others get a chance.

Empires and cultures are not permanent and while thinking about the possibility that ours is collapsing may seem a dismal exercise it is far less so than enduring the dangerous frustrations and failures involved in having one's contrary myth constantly butt up against reality - like a boozer who insists he is not drunk attempting to drive home. Instead of defending the non-existent, we could turn our energies instead towards devising a new and saner reality.

Places like Harvard and Oxford - and their after-school programs such as the Washington think tanks - teach the few how to control the many and it is impossible to do this without various forms of abuse ranging from sophism to corporate control systems to napalm. It is no accident that a large number of advocates of war - in government and the media - are the products of elite educations where they were taught both the inevitability of their hegemony and the tools with which to enforce it. It will, therefore, be some time before places such as Harvard and the Council on Foreign Relations are seen for what they are: the White Citizens Councils of state violence.

Castro, in his early days, spoke at the UN. But the hotels of New York refused him space. The result: Malcolm X found him a hotel in Harlem and a key early step was taken in the alienation of a man who, with just a little respect and effort, might not have tormented every American president since by refusing to die or fade away. Respect is important because it is a door wide enough for peace to enter. We need to try it more often.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Awesome dissent

Shepard Fairey in London: Big Brother Is Watch...Image by World of Good via Flickr

(h/t Sam Smith, Progressive Review):
From a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dissent

CHIEF JUDGE ALEX KOZINSKI - This is an extraordinary case: Our court approves, without blinking, a police sweep of a person's home without a warrant, without probable cause, without reasonable suspicion and without exigency-in other words, with nothing at all to support the entry except the curiosity police always have about what they might find if they go rummaging around a suspect's home. Once inside, the police managed to turn up a gun "in plain view"-stuck between two cushions of the living room couch-and we reward them by upholding the search.

Did I mention that this was an entry into somebody's home, the place where the protections of the Fourth Amendment are supposedly at their zenith?. . .

The opinion misapplies Supreme Court precedent, conflicts with our own case law and is contrary to the great weight of authority in the other circuits. It is also the only case I know of, in any jurisdiction covered by the Fourth Amendment, where invasion of the home has been approved based on no showing whatsoever. Nada. Gar nichts. Rien du tout. Bupkes.

Whatever may have been left of the Fourth Amendment after [United States v. Black] is now gone. The evisceration of this crucial constitutional protector of the sanctity and privacy of what Americans consider their castles is pretty much complete. Welcome to the fish bowl.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And then on Friday . . .


Our film "The Chicken Revolution" has been selected to be part of the Mid-Valley Film Festival!

This feature-length documentary is about Salem 's efforts to join the Urban Chicken Movement and will be featured in this year's film festival at Northern Lights Theatre Pub on Friday, February 26th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Find out why chickens are so popular and listen to what people who raise chickens in the city have to say about their experiences. You will also see a variety of backyard coops included in both the Portland and Eugene coop tours, and snippets from city council meetings where a chicken ordinance is vigorously debated.

Come and watch our film on the big screen in a theatre filled with people who like chickens. Immediately following the show, some of the folks who participated in the making of the film will be available to answer questions. This is your chance to meet fellow chicken advocates and talk with the people you saw in the movie.

Current members of Salem 's city council and candidates in the upcoming election will also be invited. Let's show them how many residents like chickens -- in a venue that's a lot more fun than City Hall and where we are not limited to 3-minute speeches.

The movie cost just $3 to get in and food and beverages can also be ordered.

Below is information about the theatre:
http://northernligh tstheatrepub. com/ - 3893 Commercial St. SE , Salem .

The theatre is located south of Madrona and just north of Browning between and behind Shuck's and Guadalajara restaurant, across the street from Espresso Road and Fast Lane Coffee.

Please come and join us!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Don't forget, Thursday night, 2/25

Thursday, February 25, 2010, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Straub Environmental Lecture Series: Dr. Michael Skinner

Environment and Disease: The Ghosts in Your Genes

Loucks Auditorium, Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty Street SE, Salem
Dr. Michael Skinner of Washington State University will provide a general overview of endocrine disruptors. He will talk about how his research has shown that environmental factors change the expression of our DNA - but don’t change the underlying DNA sequences - and how these lasting effects can be passed on from generation to generation.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Newspaper stenographer shows why newspapers are collapsing

Verifying DictationPhoto title: "Verifying dictation." Image by mpujals via Flickr

A story in today's Salem SJ that was meant to give readers a glimpse into how newspapers decide "What is news?" has succeeded far beyond its likely intentions by inadvertently pointing out that, for the corporate-owned press, the critical factor -- the thing that separates a tip from a potential crank and a 'real story' is whether or not the stenographer ... er, reporter ... can find an official source to say something:

The Statesman Journal's interest in Portland General Electric's digital "smart meters" started with a tip from a reader, who blamed a higher-than-expected electric bill on PGE's new, high-tech meters.

Like any allegation, the reader's tip had to be handled with care. Many tips are too flimsy to generate a story, the basic premise and facts are wrong, or they are someone's opinion.

A call to the Oregon Public Utility Commission confirmed that the state agency had taken similar ratepayer complaints about PGE's smart meters.

The number of complaints wasn't large. What made the issue worth a story was the PUC's decision to take a closer look at smart meters and run tests comparing them to the old-style mechanical meters.
In other words, unless the PUC is interested, the newspaper isn't interested.

That perfectly sums up the collapsed state of newspapers today, institutions that once prided themselves on taking nothing on faith now running stories that prove, in their own words, that "reporting" now consists of little more than calling a government official for comment.

If you ever wondered, to take just one of millions of possible examples, how the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sectors were able to inflate colossal bubbles and plunder the world's largest economy without triggering the "watchdogs in the press," now you should understand.

The government at all levels includes a healthy number of people whose primary purpose is to advance the interests of the industry whence they came and plan to return to -- these are the people who answer the calls from the intrepid stenographers of the Fourth Estate and who dutifully parrot the industry line on every matter, thus waving the "reporters" off any stories that industry would prefer not be covered.

UPDATE: an excerpt with a link to this post was removed from the SJ's online comments to the original piece.
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March 6: "Our Broken Immigration System: a Civil Conversation"

Our Broken Immigration System:
a Forum to Share Perspectives in a Civil Conversation

Saturday, March 6, 8:30 a.m. –12:30 p.m.
First Congregational United Church of Christ,
700 Marion Street NE, Salem, Oregon (corner of Marion and Cottage Streets)
1st Cong. Office Contact: 503-363-3660

Come join in as we learn and discuss demographic, economic, educational and legal aspects of immigration reform.

Kevin Finney, Forum Moderator
Public Policy Director, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

  • Bob Bussell, Director of the Labor Education &Research Center, U. of Oregon
  • Kurt Muntz and Barbara Ghio, Immigration Attorneys, Salem
  • Rebecca Ralston, Bilingual Classroom Teacher, Central Unified School District

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dump your bank -- join a credit union

Bank of America security giving me the finger ...The banks' attitude captured on film. Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

In addition to hyper reckless behavior that makes blind, drunk guy behind the wheel of a Camaro at 80 mph look sober and responsible, banks are some of the absolute worst miscreants in terms of anti-consumer lobbying. Their racket is so profitable that they think loan sharking is for small-timers, and they intend to keep it that way, with hidden fees, usurious interest rates, and constant lobbying and buying of politicians to grease it all.

In Oregon, the Oregon Banking Association was one of the big givers to the campaigns to defeat Measures 66 & 67 -- apparently the banks are so blinded by greed that they think nothing of campaigning to destroy the social services network.

All good reasons to dump your bank and switch to a credit union, where you're an owner, not a serf.
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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Legislature appears to have lost its mind

Groveling before the rich for having dared to pass Measures 66 & 67 apparently, somebody has come up with an absolutely absurd proposal: a big old tax break for the golden parachute set. If the Lege wants to do anything for rich guys getting out of a business, they should do something to encourage the kind of transfer that Bob of Bob's Red Mill engineered for his company, selling it into an employee-stock-ownership plan (ESOP). But the turkey below is --- or should be --- a dead letter.
No Tax Breaks for Golden Parachutes

Tell Chairwoman Burdick to oppose giving another tax break to well-off CEOs.

I can't believe it.

The Oregon House of Representatives just passed a bill that would make "golden parachute" severance packages tax-free up to $500,000 if the applicant agrees to put that money into an Oregon business. This would allow well-healed CEOs to get a tax break of up to $54,000!

However, few working families will be able to save even one penny on their taxes. A recent survey found that 68% of workers did not receive any severance package when laid off.

Right now this special tax break is being quickly pushed through the Oregon Senate Revenue Committee. Proponents of the bill argue that this legislation will help generate jobs by encouraging business growth. It is a well-intentioned idea, but no different from the failed, trickle-down policies of the Bush administration.

Tell Senate Revenue Chair Burdick and her fellow Senators to oppose the "Tax Break for Golden Parachutes Act" today!

While being promoted as a "jobs bill" this new tax break does not require the recipient to create even one job! Oregon has far more effective tools to get unemployed Oregonians working again than another costly tax break for the rich.2

We applaud our legislators for trying to bring back jobs to Oregon, but we should not create more harm than good by repeating the mistakes of the past.


Noah Heller
Tax Fairness Oregon

1. "Half of Workers Who Were Laid Off in the Last Three Months Have Found New Jobs, Reveals Latest CareerBuilder Survey," CareerBuilder, August 5, 2009

2. The Building Opportunities for Oregon Small Business Today Fund (BOOST Fund) gives grants of $2,500 to employers per new full-time job established and offers loans of up to $150,000 for businesses.

Saturday, February 20 -- Seed Sharing!

Saved seedImage by Satrina0 via Flickr


This is a short turn-around, however we are beginning to ramp up the garden season and have lot of resources to share. This Saturday, from 2-4pm, a few of us are gathering here at MPFS to network and share seeds. It will be our first, but definitely not our last attempt to get together to share resources. If you are interested in connecting with the gardens program, whether by volunteering, leading a project, teaching kids about gardening or just connecting to grow food and have fun, please contact me. The season for gardening is here.

Please check out the new MPFS website to learn about the programs we are creating to put an end to hunger in Marion and Polk Counties. Click HERE to enter the new Food Share website.

Thank you!

Jordan Blake
Sustainable Community Gardens

Mobil: 503.798.0457
Phone: 503.581.3855 x 329
Mail: 1660 Salem Industrial Drive NE, Salem OR 97301

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seen around

"The trouble with internet quotes is that you can never be sure they're accurate.
-- Abraham Lincoln.

Calling all Salem-area career seekers/changers

five on the fieldNot sure of where this is, but it could easily be Eastern Oregon. Image by aja via Flickr

Chemeketa Community College has some important news you should definitely know about:

Chemeketa is offering students a way to transfer many of your Chemeketa classes in the electronics program into a Renewable Energy Technology degree program at Columbia Gorge Community College, a very forward-looking program up there in The Dalles.

The Chemeketa website is too lame to have included this important information which appears in their Spring 2010 catalog, but you can get more information tomorrow or any day by contacting Gene Moore at Chemeketa at or by calling him at 503.399.6506.

So if you're a stalled-out young person in Salem who's wondering how in hell you get started on a meaningful career when there don't even seem to be many shit jobs around, or if you're an older person who's trying to find a new career that won't disappear or be outsourced to China or India, this would be a very, very good program to look into and to consider very carefully. Get with a Chemeketa counselor and ask about financial aid -- especially if you are a veteran trying to find a new career.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Cross your fingers for KMUZ grant application!

Salem very much needs a nonprofit community radio station, and the good people behind KMUZ (note much-improved new logo!) are trying to ride to the rescue. Cross your fingers (or cross your fingers and get involved to help too) for their grant application to defray construction costs!

KMUZ-FM, the proposed Salem-area community radio station, has submitted a federal grant request as part of its effort to get the station on the air at 88.5 FM.
Thirty-four community groups or individuals, including Salem Art Association, A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village and the League of Women Voters, endorsed the request.

If successful, KMUZ would receive a grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Public Telecommunications Facilities Program for $93,000. KMUZ is among hundreds of radio and television stations applying for the grant program. About 50 percent of applicants will succeed; they will be notified in October.

The station has also applied for matching grants from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund and the city of Salem; and it is submitting requests to the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Collins Foundation and the Meyer Memorial trust, among others.

The station needs about $200,000 for construction alone, said Jeanine Renne, the grant writer. It also will need to pay rent and utilities.

The station hopes to be on the air by August 2011, serving an area ranging from Albany north to Keizer, and Stayton west to Dallas. The transmitter tower will be in Turner, with a broadcast studio at the Historic Grand Theatre building in downtown Salem.

The station would feature community-generated programming including music, civic events and politics.

Significant for Salem re: Census

TN State Prison 28TN state prison. Image by Exothermic via Flickr

One of the worst aspects of the War on Americans that is labeled (for PR purposes) as a war on drugs is that it has led to a huge population shift from cities to prisons that are located in (generally) pretty rural areas, where the prisoners are counted as residents for census purposes despite their being unable (in almost every state) to vote.

Thus, a vicious circle of insane drug laws and prison expansion turn into a mutually reinforcing dynamic, where communities that stand to benefit by imprisoning young men from urban areas keep electing politicians who demand ever more draconian sentencing schemes and criminalize even more aspects of life. Prosecutors try to amp up the cycle at every turn, becoming the true kings of the criminal justice system and turning judges into errand boys and bystanders who have no discretion while prosecutors are totally without accountability or balancing incentives.

To add insult to injury, most federal aid programs rely on census data, so in addition to causing over-representation of rural areas where prisons are housed, it diverts federal aid to those communities that is needed even more in the cities where the prisoners come from.

LWV reports that a good first step has been made at the federal level that might help with this problem:
New option for the states on inmates in the Census
The Census Bureau has agreed to release information on prisoner populations to states before they are set to redraw their legislative districts. This would give the states an option in deciding how they count prisoners. Census director Robert Groves made the decision after weeks of discussion with Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., and with public interest and black groups. They called it an important first step toward shifting federal resources and representation back to urban communities, where they believe the aid is needed the most. To read the complete AP article, click here.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wise words

Making the Best of Our Situation Now

Most of us think our situation 10, 20 or 50 years from now will not be as good as today, in one or more ways--less oil, reduced wealth in general, and the possibility of many other negative changes as well--loss of electricity; rapid population decline; and perhaps climate change.

My question is, "How can we keep ourselves from feeling discouraged, even though we strongly suspect our future situation will not be as good as today?" Below the fold, I give a few ideas.

1. Count your blessings.

No matter how badly things are going, there are always some things that are going well. I have heard that some Jewish people give thanks for each body part that is working in their prayers each day. We can be thankful for the sunshine, and fresh air, and the birds flying by. We can be thankful for our friends and family members. If we focus on the good, it leaves less room for our mind to dwell on the not-so-good.

2. Spend time with family and friends.

Anything seems worse, if you are going through it alone. Surround yourself with loved ones.

3. Learn some cheerful, uplifting songs.

If you sing regularly, you will often find songs running through your mind. Joint a singing group, or attend church or temple and learn some hymns or other music. I am sure there is music you can download from the Internet too, and CDs you can buy. In some cultures, dancing is important, too.

4. Keep yourself busy.

Even if you don't have a job, find something worthwhile to do--studying something worthwhile, or helping someone in more need than yourself, or planting a garden, or attending a community planning meeting.

5. Take care of your health.

If you don't feel well, everything will seem much worse. To me, the big part of taking care of your health is proper diet, exercise, and avoiding substances which are harmful to your health. Getting proper dental care is probably helpful as well. Visiting health care providers may be necessary at times as well.

6. Focus as much as possible on the here and now.

What happened yesterday, even if it is the loss of a family member, is past. We have less control over the future than we would like. But we do have at least some control over the here and now, and there are always likely to be at least a few things that are going right. Focus on those things. Leave worrying about what you should have done, or what might happen in the future, to someone else.

7. Join a church or other religious group.

I am sure joining a religious group is not for everyone, but some may find it helpful. There are multiple benefits--a network of friends, some hope for help in facing current difficulties, and the possibility of hope for the future. Even if you don't believe in any possibility of an afterlife, you may find enough worthwhile in a church to justify joining. (I do recommend staying away from fundamentalist groups of any religion, however. Stick with more liberal groups that don't take their scriptures too literally.)

8. Get your priorities straight.

If your first priority is amassing great wealth, you are likely to be disappointed. If your first priority is advancing in your company, there is a good chance this may not happen--you may get laid off instead. Try to find appropriate alternative priorities--for example, helping those less fortunate than yourself, or working on a way to make the future for yourself or your community better.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Great post on why No Child is such a crock

The idea behind NCLB is that teachers are interchangeable production units and that students are just widgets that need to be have so much time on the bench from each production unit before passing the widget over to the testing bench where we determine whether the production unit needs realignment or even total replacement (because the widgets are totally indifferent to which production unit they are manipulated by).

This story is a poignant explanation of the reality -- which is of course 180 out from the doctrine exemplified by No Child Left Behind and the idiots who imposed it and who continue to back it.

Best bet: AC Gilbert Soiree

Discover the Wonder

Friday, February 19, 5:30 pm

Join us for an elegant evening at the Grand Ballroom in downtown Salem with our second annual dinner and auction. Meet Martin Morris, founder of A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village, who will be the event's guest speaker. Catering is provided by Willaby's. Enjoy a silent auction of interesting and unique items, fabulous food, an assorted wine bar, entertainment and fantastic company! Top that all off with the chance to support the wonderful work of A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village, and you definitely have a winning combination. Please call 503-371-3631 for reservations. Tickets: $50 per person. Presenting sponsors: Foresters and Drs. Sornson, Stevens, Berzins, Tibolt and East.

Bravo! The best flip-art animation EVER

Hmm, not displaying right -- double click to go to actual YouTube page for best results.

Friday, February 12, 2010

LEEDing us into a Brave New World

A blog-post from The Chronicle of Higher Education was forwarded to you by: 
Message from the sender: About how Yale renovated buildings with showers for bicycle commuters but the showers are locked.
Two Yale buildings have showers for bike commuters, which helped the projects earn LEED certification, but bike commuters had never been given access to them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Post-carbon snow-shovel for the heart-attack-prone set

Happily, one rarely needs a snow shovel in Salem, but many of our friends do elsewhere --- this seems like the snow shovel to have for the post-peak-oil blizzards. (Recall that climate change doesn't mean uniform warming -- it means more extreme weather in both directions thanks to the disrupted climate stability.) Hat tip to "Cool Tools" for the pointer quoted below.

Sno Wovel

As a Montrealer who has shoveled more snow than you can shake a very big stick at, I was intrigued when I first came across a video of this wheeled shovel in action. I live in the suburbs south of Montreal, on a street where there's a popular bus route; the snow plow can pass my house several times a day during heavy snow falls, repeatedly depositing a compacted mound of snow in my driveway entrance.

I bought a Wovel, and what was once a dreaded exercise in futility has now become a looked forward to workout! Thanks to the Wovel's design, all the snow's weight gets transferred to my arms and legs. The fulcrum at the center of the big wheel effectively allows the Wovel to do the heavy lifting for me. After becoming proficient in its use, I was able to master the natural seesaw action and launch the snow surprisingly high. Now, after a season and a half of use, I can consistently build snow banks up to five feet high. It's like having my own little nonnmotorized bulldozer.

I've been using mine to shovel my walk/driveway as well as my neighbor's for more than a year, and I’ve been beating the crap out of the thing. It won't quit. It’s made from a thick-gauge steel and is covered by a lifetime warranty. What was once about an hour of back-breaking work has been cut down to about 20 minutes, which makes this purchase one of the best expenditures I have ever made.

-- Billy Zavos

The Sno Wovel Wheeled Snow Shovel

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Structured Solutions II

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another vital film in Salem, thanks to SPFS

A Sea Change

A Sea Change documents how the pH balance of the oceans has changed dramatically since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution: a 30% increase in acidification. With near unanimity, scientists now agree that the burning of fossil fuels is fundamentally reshaping ocean chemistry. Experts predict that over the next century, steady increases in carbon dioxide emissions and the continued rise in the acidity of the oceans will cause most of the world's fisheries to experience a total bottom-up collapse--a state that could last for millions of years.

A Sea Change broadens the discussion about the dramatic changes we are seeing in the chemistry of the oceans, and conveys the urgent threat those changes pose to our survival, while surveying the steps we can take to reduce the severity of climate change. The film's protagonist Sven Huseby asks how will he explain to his oldest grandchild, Elias, what is happening to the oceans and their eco-systems. It is both a personal journey and a scientifically rigorous, sometimes humorous, unflinchingly honest look at reality. It offers positive examples of new technologies and effective changes in human behavior that we all must choose before the oceans are lost.

Guest Speakers:
Burke Hales, Associate Professor in the College of Oceanic and
Atmospheric Sciences at OSU.
George Waldbusser, Assistant Professor in the College of Oceanic and
Atmospheric Sciences at OSU

Films website:
Grand Prize, Feature Documentary, FICA International Environmental Film
Festival, Goias, Brazil
Best Coastal Film, Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Festival
Best Nordic Country Documentary, Polar Film Festival, Finland
Green Docs Award, Kosovo International Documentary Film Festival
San Francisco International Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Blue Ocean Film Festival
Woods Hole Film Festival
Bioneers Moving Image Film Festival
Southern Appalachian International Film Festival

For more information about the event: 503-588-8713 or 503-779-5288