Is Your Pussyhat Keeping Someone Warm?

Photo by Joeff Davis from Pittsburgh City Paper.  Click photo to read the article

Photo by Joeff Davis from Pittsburgh City Paper. Click photo to read the article “Pittsburghers pledge to continue fighting after women’s march.”

In photographs of last Saturday’s women’s marches in Washington, D.C., and around the United States, many pink hats are visible, most of them with ears, indicating solidarity with the Pussyhat Project that was so popular it caused shortages of pink yarn in some parts of the country.  It’s obvious that many thousands of pink pussyhats now exist.

Why haven’t I seen any of them this week?

I live in the East End of Pittsburgh.  This is a very liberal area where support for equal rights is seen as a good thing by the general public; it’s highly unlikely that someone would be harassed for wearing a feminist symbol in public around here.

The weather has been warm for January but damp.  I do see people wearing knitted hats.  I haven’t yet seen a pink hat with ears, not even one.  Where did they all go?

If you have a pussyhat, wear it as your warm hat for the rest of the winter!  Let it remind you and everyone else that this protest was not just a one-day thing but that we need to stand up for equal rights for everybody every day!

If you have a pussyhat that you are not going to wear again, for whatever reason–please give it to someone who needs a warm hat or to an organization like a homeless shelter that will put that hat on a cold head.  A warm hat can keep a person alive on a cold night.

Don’t let that knitting go to waste!  Share the warmth and keep America great!

How to Save the Earth from Donald Trump and the Republican Congressional Majority

I was devastated by last Tuesday’s election results.  There are many reasons I object to Donald Trump (like his racist lies about crime) and many reasons I hoped for a Democratic majority in Congress, but what I’m writing about here is our environment.  Even if you voted Republican, you may not want to live in a polluted wasteland that’s getting hotter every decade, so while this government is advancing the parts of its agenda that won your vote, you’ll want to take action to keep Earth habitable. What can we do?

First, it is not too late to stop Trump from taking office!  It’s possible for the Electoral College to vote for the winner of the popular vote (Hillary Clinton) so that she becomes President instead.  This probably won’t happen, but it’s worthwhile to speak up if you support the idea.  (A more realistic goal is to abolish the Electoral College before the next election.  How is it fair that a Wyoming resident’s vote counts 4 times as much as a Texas resident’s vote?!?  We the people should get one vote each!  Here’s more about what’s wrong with the Electoral College, and here’s what we wrote about it before the 2000 election disaster.)  We’d still have the Republicans in Congress, but they can do less harm with a Democratic President.

Next, start now stuffing Trump’s suggestion box with pleas for environmental protection!  Especially, oppose his absurd goal of abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency–it will be bad enough if he appoints someone blatantly anti-environment to head the EPA, but if he manages to get rid of it entirely, we’ll really be at the mercy of big polluters as our state governments scrabble to protect us (or don’t even try, as is likely in some states).  This action plan for slowing global warming includes many good ideas to advocate.  Will Trump’s administration really heed the input of ordinary Americans?  The fact that they’re asking for it means it’s worth a try.

Also, start now making contributions to organizations that lobby for the environment and/or sue polluters.  My favorites are Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund and Union of Concerned Scientists.  It’s easiest to set up a monthly donation (put it on the credit card whose rewards scheme is most useful to you!) so that you donate consistently and kind of painlessly; this also minimizes the nagging emails you’ll get, and I’ve found that environmental organizations are better than other charities at reducing paper mail when you ask them.  Think you can’t afford to donate?  Look for changes you can make to save money and the environment, and put aside the difference.  Another option is to make something environmentally friendly that you can sell (for example, root cuttings from your plants and pot them in repurposed containers that you decorate) and donate the profits.

As issues come up affecting the environment, contact your senator and congressional representative encouraging them to vote for a clean and healthy world.  Phone calls may be more effective than email or paper letters, but if you aren’t able to call during office hours, emailing is better than doing nothing–staffers often count the pro and con emails received about an issue, even if they don’t have time to read each one in full.

Vote with your purchases.  The main reason Republicans in general oppose environmental regulations is not that they want all living things to be poisoned and fried to a crisp, but that they want businesses to make as much money as possible.  One thing that is giving me hope is that during the George W. Bush administration, 2001-2009, despite the anti-environmental attitude and actions of the President and Congress, ordinary citizens’ interest in being more “green” surged, making environmentally friendly options far more available than they had been.  Trend analysts pay a lot of attention to this kind of thing, and businesses respond.  That’s why they took the genetically-modified organisms out of Cheerios and Grape-nuts, for example.  Consumer pressure works!  Do your best to show corporate America that we want less packaging, fewer harmful chemicals, more organic and vegetarian foods, more reusable products, more renewable energy, more fuel-efficient engines, more public transit, and so forth.

Get ready for 2018!  Check out your representatives’ environmental scorecards, and if they’re not doing their jobs protecting Earth, get ready to throw the bums out and elect someone greener!  Every representative in the House and 1/3 of the Senate will be up for re-election in 2018.

What else can we do?  Did I miss anything?

I’m still appalled by the election results, but doing what I can to work toward making the world a better place works for me!  Just in case I sound too chirpy here, let me add: I’ve been working on this for a long time.  Not only did I slog onward in my ever-greener lifestyle throughout the George W. Bush administration, but I was dodging excess packaging and picking up recyclables and line-drying laundry during the first George Bush administration and on through the Clinton years.  It isn’t always easy, but I’m truly speaking from experience when I tell you that trying to do the right thing has always been worth it.

America is SAFER now than it used to be.

I worked with crime data for 17 years, and occasionally someone would say, “Gosh, that must make you so worried about your safety!”  No.  It didn’t.  It had exactly the opposite effect.  There are four patterns I saw, over and over again, that made me feel safer:

  1. Crime rates in Pittsburgh and in the United States overall were already declining when I started working for the Pittsburgh Youth Study in 1998 and have continued to decline or remained stable ever since.
  2. Most crimes (especially sexual assaults and homicide) occur between people who know one another; they are not random attacks by strangers.
  3. Homicide and shooting victims are disproportionately black and male.  I am white and female.
  4. Every map of crimes in Pittsburgh shows that I live near the middle of a large low-crime area.

I could write a lot about what I’ve learned and how it’s influenced my sense of personal safety, but at this moment in American history I need to focus on helping you understand how safe you are and who’s trying to mislead you.

Monday’s presidential debate included repeated ranting from Donald Trump about the number of murders and shootings in Chicago during the Obama administration, implying that Chicago has become more dangerous and that this is Obama’s fault.  Trump would like you to believe that America is a very dangerous place and only he can save you from hordes of dark-skinned killers.

U.S. Violent Crime Rate 1960-2014

Graph from factcheck.org based on FBI data. Click graph for full article.

“Almost four thousand” is an overstatement of the 3,624 homicides in Chicago since Obama’s inauguration, but 3,624 is still a lot of people, and as Hillary Clinton said, “One murder is too many.” Yes. But the fact is that murder is far less common in Chicago, and in the United States overall, than it was 15 years ago–and that was a big decrease from 20-25 years ago. If presidents are responsible for violent crimes that occur during their administrations, then by golly, George Bush Senior was the worst president ever!

And before anybody gets on my case about Bush-bashing, notice that George W. Bush was the president who presided over an enormous drop in violent crime.  Funny how Trump doesn’t mention that–because it would ruin his argument that crime is high and it’s Obama’s fault.

Homicides in Chicago also have declined during the 21st century so far, but the pattern there is even more striking: There was a big drop from 2002 to 2004, and since then Chicago’s homicide rate has never again gotten nearly as high as it was in 2003!

Homicides in Chicago, 2000-2015.

Chicago Tribune graph reprinted by the Los Angeles Times. Click graph for full article.

Now, of course, just because murders are less common now than they used to be doesn’t mean we’re all perfectly safe.  Homicide is still the leading cause of death for black males ages 15-34, and although many of those victims were involved in gangs or drug dealing or carrying guns (all of which increase a person’s chances of getting killed), many were not–every year, some innocent, law-abiding black men are killed because they are mistaken for someone else, because they happen to live in or be visiting an area that is “rival territory” for a gang, or because police or gun-toting citizens don’t give them a chance to explain themselves.  Only 13% of the United States population is African-American, yet 44% of homicide victims in the United States are African-American; only 49% of the United States population is male, yet 70% of homicide victims in the United States are male.  (My calculations are based on data from 2013, from this Census table and this FBI table.)

Every murder is a tragedy, and the prevalence of homicide among young black men is a horror that we must do our very best to control.  My concern is that Trump’s rhetoric makes it sound like America is getting more dangerous by the minute and like dark-skinned people are out to kill you no matter who you are, and this really isn’t the case.  83% of white murder victims are killed by other white peopleThose of us who are lucky enough to be white people living in safe neighborhoods should be concerned about the plight of black people in dangerous neighborhoods out of love and compassion, not out of fear for our own safety.  African-Americans face more risks than they should, but even they are safer now than they were 25 years ago.  Cities across the United States have made real progress in reducing crime, and it hasn’t been done by yelling, “Law and order!” like Donald Trump.

I could go on and on about crime prevention, too, but I’ll stick to telling you a little about what I learned from my own work on the book Young Homicide Offenders and Victims: Risk Factors, Prediction, and Prevention from Childhood.  I did all of the data processing and some preliminary analyses for this book, and I am a co-author of two chapters.  In this book, we studied the 37 convicted killers and the 39 homicide victims who were among the young men we had been interviewing since they were in elementary school, and we determined what predicted who would kill and who would be killed.  These are the nine factors measured when they were in elementary school that predicted which boys were more than twice as likely as the average boy to grow up to kill someone, in order of statistical significance with the best predictor first:

  1. One or both of his biological parents did not live with him.
  2. He lived in a high-crime neighborhood.
  3. His family qualified for welfare benefits.
  4. His mother was younger than 20 when her first child was born.
  5. He was old for his grade at the beginning of the study–either he started school late, or he was left back.
  6. His mother (or the female adult most responsible for him) was not employed outside the home.
  7. His parents and/or teachers agreed with the statement, “He doesn’t seem to feel guilty after doing things he shouldn’t.”
  8. The adult most responsible for him reported that his biological father had ever had “behavior problems.”  (This one bugs me because it is so vague and open to bias on the part of the person reporting, but the fact that it was a strong predictor indicates that it was measuring something important.)
  9. His family had low socioeconomic status–calculated from the current or most recent job and the highest education completed by the adults in the home.

Think about those things when you think about how to prevent murder.  There are so many things we as a society can do to support families so they can raise good kids and to help kids when they first show signs of trouble–instead of waiting until they hurt someone and then throwing them in jail.

Gun control is a factor, too, and a major issue in the current election.  I agree with both candidates that we need to do more to get guns out of the hands of convicted criminals who aren’t allowed to carry guns.  My opinion, informed by what I’ve seen in crime research, is that the way to do this is to control guns much more tightly, more like we do cars: Carrying, using, or owning a gun should require a license, and to get a license you should have to demonstrate that you know how to use a gun safely and you understand the laws.  Each gun should be registered with the state and that registration updated annually.  These policies would help to reduce illegal selling and borrowing of guns.  It’s also my opinion that we should have fewer guns in the United States and work away from the idea that we “need” guns so much, but those are cultural and psychological shifts, not changes in laws.

I’ve learned a lot about crime.  It’s made me feel safer.  Donald Trump wants to talk about a few carefully selected facts as if they prove that we’re in grave danger and only he can help us.  I hope that looking at facts about the bigger picture helps you to understand how twisted his views are.

It works for me!

5 Must-See Environmental Documentaries

This is a guest post by Maria Ramos. Maria is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.

Without positive human intervention, global climate change could lead to horrific catastrophes, uninhabitable regions, mass immigration, and global societal reconstruction. A large portion of human activity that has damaged the environment is a result of ignorance and apathy, but fortunately that is easy to reverse if enough people become more educated and environmentally conscious! Below are some incredible documentaries aimed at increasing environmental awareness about one of the most pressing issues of our times.

Chasing Ice (2012)

This film strives to document the direct effect of global climate change on the large volume of ice located on our polar regions. Read more of this post

Elsewhere on Earth

This photograph, which was in Sunday’s newspaper, is the image I’m keeping in my mind this Good Friday.

A Syrian Kurdish boy sits on a destroyed tank Friday in the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab. Photo by Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images.

That is a place on this very same planet where I am sitting comfortably in my office.  That is a boy who is growing up in the very same time as my son Nicholas, who is visiting me at work (it’s his spring break from school) and looking forward to a pizza lunch.  Odds are nobody’s going to shoot at us as we walk down the street, and there won’t be any rubble.  The trees here are preparing to open sweet new green leaves.

It is only by luck that we live here and not there.

What is it like to go out to play in that wasted landscape, to find an interesting big thing to climb on that happens to be a recently-disabled killing machine?  I am grateful that I don’t know, but I think sometimes I need to make myself think about it.  I need to think about this one boy, to will him strength and courage to be a better person than many around him.

Today I am thinking of this picture and of these words sung by Phil Collins:

This is the world we live in,
And these are the hands we’re given.
Use them, and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

One Brave Girl

This article from The New York Times was reprinted in my local newspaper.  In Afghanistan, a mullah who raped a 10-year-old girl in the mosque was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Most Americans would agree that anybody who rapes a child is a horrific criminal for whom 20 years is a light sentence, would be especially disgusted by such behavior from a religious leader, and would rally around the girl as an innocent victim.

This girl’s family considered murdering her to protect the family honor.  This girl has been raised in a culture in which that is traditional.

But when the mullah spoke in his own defense and claimed she had seduced him, the girl stopped sobbing and pulled aside her veil enough to speak directly to him. “Hey liar, hey liar,” she said. “God hate you, you are dirt, you are dirt, you are a vampire.”

Can you imagine the courage that took?

I used to be a Girl Scout leader.  When one of my girls was ten, her dad took her to an all-ages concert in a bar, where, she said, “a man, or maybe like a really old teenager, like in college” leaned over her saying she was pretty and asking for her phone number.  She did not know what to do.  Her father grabbed the guy by the collar and said, “Hey, leave my daughter alone!  She’s only TEN! YEARS! OLD!  Idiot.”  That is the kind of treatment men who hit on preteen girls deserve, and men who rape preteen girls…  Dirt.  Vampires.  It breaks my heart that this girl had to speak up for herself, but I am so very glad that she did.

This girl’s courage, and the courage of all those who are helping to bring the rapist to justice, will help to make Afghanistan a safer place for girls and women, who have been treated so badly for so long. That’s something that is working in our world. Visit Works-for-Me Wednesday to read about many other things that are working.

But why should your tax status be based on your sex life?

Last week, the United States Supreme Court decided that federal laws that apply to married people apply to same-sex couples who are married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.  As a liberal person who supports equal rights, I’m supposed to rejoice in this great victory for equality and diversity.

In a way, I am glad.  Making certain federal benefits available only to people whose permanent monogamous sexual partner is of the opposite sex was unfair to people who feel sexual attraction only to their own sex and therefore could never enter into a heterosexual marriage except in a half-hearted or deceptive kind of way.  If marriage is linked to government benefits, those benefits should be available to all people who choose a married relationship.

If.

What bothers me about this court decision and nearly all the discussion of the issue in the past few years is that very few people ever seem to consider that If or to consider what it really means.  This decision does not “make the benefits of marriage available to everybody,” as I’ve heard many people exclaim happily.  Read more…

Could you feed your family on a food-stamp budget?

Food on Fridays linkupIn her Ash Wednesday sermon, my pastor mentioned someone’s suggestion to fast for Lent by eating only what you can purchase with the amount of money allocated by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“food stamps”) to needy families–approximately $4 per person per day.  The suggestion had been to do this for just one week, not for the full 40 days of Lent, implying that just one week would be enough to show you how very meager that amount is and how difficult it is to be adequately fed while spending so little.

Hmmm.  Well, three years ago I read this blog about a couple who ate on a food-stamp budget for Lent.  I remembered that they found it was not as difficult as expected.  Even at the outset, the author explained “What we’re going to do, and why it’s not so humble.”  Their budget was $6 per person per day, and she already knew that wasn’t much less than their normal grocery spending.  They ate pretty well.  BUT!  They were aware that they were coming into this experiment from a privileged position (jobs that allow them time and energy to cook from scratch, easy access to a variety of stores, a full range of kitchen appliances, a pantry already stocked with basics like spices, knowledge of cooking and budgeting) and that the exceptions they were allowing themselves (occasional restaurant meals, wine not included in food budget) would make it easier.

Of course, upon hearing this fast idea again, my data manager’s brain immediately began crunching numbers to estimate how much money per person per day my own family has been spending on groceries.  When I read the above blog, I had just begun tracking our grocery spending for a full year, and since concluding that experiment I hadn’t thought to compare it to a food-stamp budget.  Now I will: In 2010, my family of 3 people spent a total of $3,850.85 on groceries, which works out to $3.52 per person per day.  The current maximum SNAP benefit in our state for a family of 3 is $526 per month, which works out to $5.76 per person per day.  Food prices have gone up since 2010, but not that much.

Gee, those needy families are just rolling in benefits, huh?  Well, no, wait a minute! Read more…

Living on the Flip Side

The sky is so blue today.  The sun is so bright, the leaves are still green, and the birds are singing.  It’s a beautiful day, just like the eleventh of this month eleven years ago.

I remember walking home after my office closed early on September 11, 2001, thinking how impossibly wrong it felt that something so horrible could happen on such a nice day.  I am one of the lucky people who easily survived the terrorist attacks and didn’t know anyone who was directly affected.  But of course we were all emotionally affected, and for me the moment when it really became a day of horror was when I saw (replayed on television) the sickeningly rapid, thundering, smoldering collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

And I thought, Oh, no, no, no–WE ARE ON THE RED SIDE OF THE CARD!!! Read more…

What’s inside your smartphone?

Let me begin by saying that, although I do not own a smartphone or any kind of cellphone, I do own an iPad, and I know it contains many of the same components as an iPhone.  Let me say also that I am not attacking Apple Computer in particular; the article to which I’m linking depicts an iPhone and focuses on details of that particular product, but other brands of smartphone contain these same things, and other companies may be even less responsible in obtaining them.  I have preferred Apple products to other computers ever since I first started using computers in 1977, and I love my iPad, but there are some important facts we high-tech users all need to face.

The Scary Truth About Your iPhone is an interactive graphic in which you can click on app icons to read about the ingredients and labor practices that make an iPhone.  Follow up by reading this article about gold mining in Congo.  Look at the pictures.  Did you know that right now, here in the fabulous world of 2012 when an encyclopedia and telephone and typewriter and camera and calculator and jukebox and newspaper and worldwide shopping catalog all can be packed into a sleek little pocket-sized device, right now on this same planet there are people who spend their days pounding rocks with an iron bar, mixing the dust with water and mercury, and heating it in a pot over a fire to refine gold?  That’s where gold comes from: Poor people working hard with no protection from toxic fumes to eke out tiny amounts of precious metal they can sell to buy food.  Smartphones also contain rare earth elements, whose mining produces radioactive waste that is rarely handled responsibly.

So, does that mean we shouldn’t have smartphones or computers? Read more…

Mama, what happened on September 11?

If you haven’t heard this question from your child yet, you’re likely to hear it any day now.  As the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks approaches, I’m seeing and hearing more commemoration than in the past eight years.

My son asked about September 11 two years ago when the newspaper vending box showed a solemn, patriotic event and he wanted to know what that was about.  The simple answer is, “Every year on September 11, we remember people who died when our country was attacked.”  That would be enough information for some young children.  As with any sensitive topic, the best approach is to answer only the question the child is really asking.  I am sharing the full “story” I told to Nicholas (who was only 4 years 8 months old but was already a very detail-oriented, tell-me-the-whole-story type of person!) as an example of what you might need to explain to a child, but be careful of heaping them with too many details.  In particular, think about whether your child is really asking, “Exactly what happened?” or, “Why did it happen?” Read more…

Our Neighborhood Public School Works for Us!

Today is my son’s last day of kindergarten!  This has been his first year in public school, and we are very pleased with our neighborhood public school, Pittsburgh Colfax.  It’s a great example of how an urban school can thrive when faculty encourage parent involvement.  On “Take Your Special Person to School Day” last month, I spent a whole day immersed in the experience of being one of the 700+ Colfax kids and never once felt like just another brick in the wall.  Sure, there are some systems in place to keep everybody organized, but none of it is harsh or disrespectful.

Daniel and I always planned to send our child to public school.  We feel strongly that public schools are important.  Every child deserves to learn both academic and social skills.  That includes our child.  We believe that our public schools, supported by our tax dollars (and 1% of the money I spend on my Target Visa card), are good enough for our child.  Read more…

An Eagle Landing on the MOON!!!

Sometimes a fact that’s been right in front of me all my life nonetheless fails to penetrate my consciousness.  This particular fact may be one of which all my readers are already aware.  In fact, you may think it’s quite unremarkable.  But it just now came to my attention, and I am flabbergasted, so I just have to tell you:

American dollar coins from the 1970s, whether they bear the head of Dwight D. Eisenhower or Susan B. Anthony, on the reverse side depict an eagle landing on the moon.

I think I had noticed the eagle before.  If you’d asked me what was on the other side of Susan B., I might even have been able to tell you it was an eagle, an elegantly outstretched and feathery eagle, landing on something.

But I never before noticed that it is landing on the MOON!!! The landscape has those distinctive craters.  That disc up in the sky bears the outlines of the Americas, so that’s Earth up there.  The eagle is bringing an olive branch to the moon.  How peaceful.

Yet totally disturbing and confusing!  An eagle?  On the moon?  Without even a helmet?  What?!  And isn’t it a dove bringing an olive branch that is a sign of peace?

Okay, okay, I get it: America, represented here by our mascot bird, landed on the moon (“The eagle has landed,” and all), and that’s a proud achievement to put on our coin, but we didn’t take over the moon for ourselves but just to show what humankind can do but not in an aggressive way, so, like, “We come in peace!”  Okay, I see.

But still.  An eagle landing on the moon.  Did those government LSD experiments involve the coin designers, too?

This Crowded World

Today is the entertaining tips edition of Works-for-Me Wednesday, but I don’t feel very well equipped to give advice on entertaining since we don’t have guests nearly as often as I’d like; I’m one of the people who needs to read the host’s article “Entertaining Even When You’re Reluctant” and possibly the book she mentioned, since its Commandment 7 really speaks to me!  I expect that many of this week’s WFMW posts will be about how to entertain beautifully in your home and the wonderful virtue of hospitality, and I certainly agree that this is an important thing and look forward to picking up some tips.  (Actually, a quick glance at the links shows me that a lot of people chose to write about other topics despite the theme.  Oh well, those are probably good tips, too!)

But the idea of hospitality has connected with something else I’ve been thinking about recently, so I’m going to write about hospitality as treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way outside our homes, and about how sharing public space has reduced the amount of private space I feel I truly need. Read more…

Why aren’t we married?

Three years ago, Daniel and I were interviewed by Redbook magazine for an article called “The Changing Shape of the American Family” which profiled several different family structures.  The Alternatives to Marriage Project referred the reporter to us as an example of a stable couple raising a child without being married.  The final article [which, in its online archived version, has a photo of another family next to the text about us!] used only brief and paraphrased excerpts from what we’d said in two phone conversations and a lengthy e-mail interview.  So, in case anyone is wondering why we aren’t married, here’s how we explained it in lots of detail! Read more…

Explaining the G-20 Protests to a Preschooler

It’s been one week since Pittsburgh hosted the G-20 economic summit.  The demonstrations against it and the police reactions to those demonstrations were a lot milder than they have been at previous summits in other cities, but there was some violent conflict and questionable conduct on both sides–check out the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or Pittsburgh City Paper for detailed coverage.

My son is 4 years 9 months old.  Upon hearing that he went to school and I went to work last Thursday–when violent clashes came within blocks of his school and my office–several people have asked me how I explained the situation to Nicholas.  It really wasn’t difficult! Read more…

Vending Box News

This is originally a tip from Daniel, but it works for me, too!

We still subscribe to our local newspaper, the actual paper kind, because I like to read it while eating and I don’t like to eat at the computer at home (since my lunch at work, and in fact my whole day at work, is typically in front of the computer). However, because I read nearly all of the newspaper, we have a Sunday-only subscription and it typically takes me until at least Tuesday to read the whole thing. Buying only one newspaper a week is thrifty and good for the environment.

The only problem is, sometimes important developments in the news happen in the middle of the week. I listen to a radio station that plays the NPR headline news several times a day, but it doesn’t include local news.

Daniel pointed out to me, several years ago, that in the walkable urban neighborhoods where we live and work, newspaper vending boxes are plentiful. Without buying a paper, you can see all the headlines on the top half of the front page and, if you like, crouch down and read the first part of an article. Read more…

Fist to Five: A way to reach agreement

My Girl Scouts and I recently learned a new method for assessing group opinions so we can work toward consensus.  It looked useful in the book (it’s included in the Agent of Change Journey program) but it wasn’t until we tried it that I learned how amazingly well it works for me! Read more…

Thirty Reasons Why Women Should Have the Vote

In the late 1970s, my mother was advocating ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and one of her organizations decided to make the editorial below part of the program they presented to other women’s groups.  It is adapted from an editorial in a suffragist newspaper published in Garnett, Kansas, in the era when women were fighting for the right to vote.  I guess the idea was to remind women of how far they’d come in the past century, commemorate the struggles of our foremothers, and be amusingly quaint.

They chose me to read this aloud because, at four years old, I was able to read these words (after some coaching on pronunciation and meaning) but still little enough to be cute and to fit into the old-fashioned dress and sunbonnet another woman in the group had made for her daughter several years earlier, and I wasn’t in full-day school so was available for these weekday events.  I don’t know how many times I presented it, but it must have been at least a dozen.  It was good practice in public speaking, and I learned a lot of history and vocabulary from my mother’s explanations of this text. Read more…

What’s wrong with these Earth policemen?!

Pittsburgh police killed Nang Nguyen because he was waving a meat cleaver.  Okay, he should not have been doing that, but did they really have to shoot him dead on the sidewalk?  Consider the details of this story: Read more…