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Over Easy – the Pope, Pot, and Muddy Waters

7:55 am in Uncategorized by KrisAinTX

Good morning everyone. It’s expected to reach high 70s to low 80s today in Central Texas, so I’ll be joining you all in shorts and a tee-shirt. Jealous?

Here are your  links -BentoXVI-30-10052007

Education

Caving to steady pressure from parents and school administrators, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams granted a one-year “pause” on a rule that would count STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) test scores as 15% of 9th and 10th graders overall grade. Lawmakers are expected to water down or eliminate the rule when they meet in January of next year. Any blow to standardized testing = win.

Esquire’s Charles P Pierce opines that education reform, and not immigration or social issues, is the next target of the GOP.

Ontario teachers’ unions are poised to walk out next week in protest of Bill 115, which gives the government the power to “impose wage agreements, cut the number of teachers’ sick days and block strikes or lockouts”. This has prompted Laurel Broten, a liberal politician and Education Minister for the Province, to blame union leadership. The Canadian Rahm Emanuel, anybody?

Activism

Peter Dreier at Huffington Post – 50 Young Progressive Activists Who Are Changing America. I didn’t make the list. He must not be familiar with my work.

There is mounting pressure on Universities, from their own students, to divest from fossil fuel companies. 350.org is organizing the campaign. 72% of Harvard students recently voted for their school to divest. The University essentially told them to shut up.

Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist, spent 3 years living with hackers. Cool interview with her from Wired. (Yes, I believe that most hackers are activists. Hacktivists.)

Grab Bag

Former Microsoft Exec to Launch High-End Pot Business. Capitalism and legal pot! Let’s see how this works out.

For anyone who cares (or cares to troll him… *winky face*), the Pope is now on Twitter.

Everyone should listen to this, just because Muddy Waters was so damn cool.

See you in the comments!

Over Easy – An Introduction

7:09 am in Uncategorized by KrisAinTX

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our brand new daily feature Over Easy.

Hungry For Some Over Easy Links & Chat?

As many of you know, we recently lost a dear and valued friend, activist, inspiration, and front page contributor here at the Lake. Richard de Berry, aka Southern Dragon, was many things. A wonderful friend. A staunch defender of his fellows. A strong and just activist. A thinker. A gentle and good soul. He has been commemorated well here by others, and I have no wish to elicit further tears and sorrow, so I’ll move along.

I bring up Richard only to segue into an explanation of our new project. Richard was responsible each day, Monday through Friday, for the Lakeside Diner, a collection of newsworthy links and a meeting place for many of us online denizens to gather and start the day. Since Richard’s passing we have surely missed him, but have also missed the space that he provided us to come together and be as one before going out into the world to face the day. I feel this space is a part of Richard’s legacy, and I wish to continue it.

In the spirit of togetherness and community that FDL has fostered in us, I and others came together yesterday and came up with a plan. A new space, similar to the Lakeside Diner, for us to meet and share links, break bread, and be merry. Through our conversation this concept emerged: Over Easy.

Without further ado, your regular contributors will be: Myself, msmolly, demi, Ruth Calvo, and BoxTurtle. Others have offered their services, and will surely be worked into a rotation as we iron out the details.

We will cover a variety of topics, all of us with a particular specialty or theme. Posts will include links to relevant articles, videos, etc., and an invitation for open discussion. Off topic is safe, and even encouraged. Posts will go up Monday through Friday at 9am Eastern, 6am Pacific.

Please bear with us as we pilot this new ship out of the harbor and into open seas and calm water. It’s our maiden voyage, so there will surely be some hiccups along the way.

I’m going to focus on local activism and education. I like the grassroots stuff and the teach-our-kids stuff, so that will be my cup of tea. Here is your first batch of links (please pardon the lack of content. Short notice, work in the real world, my dog ate my links, insert other generic excuses here):

  • An on-the-ground report from Staten Island by Joanne Stocker, Kenneth Lipp, and Dustin Slaughter. These fearless activists, of Team Occupy Your Mom fame, spent 3 days in Staten Island in the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
  • Austin School District cancels UT play about same-sex penguin parents.
  • Op-ed from The LA Times about for-profit universities preying on Veterans. The exploitation of the GI Bill to turn a profit is infuriating.

I’ll close as a better man than me always did – Namaste. Never. Give. Up.

Photo by jeffreyw under a Creative Commons license on Flickr.

Hippos United – Save Our Schools

4:10 pm in Uncategorized by KrisAinTX

A year and a half ago my wife and I decided to leave the urban sprawl of the San Francisco Bay Area. It had become so hard for a young family to make a life there. I have two daughters, now 10 and 6, and we wanted to find a place that would afford us better opportunity for security and stability.

A hippo statue covered with dragonfly designs, in Hutto Texas.

One of many Hutto Hippos (Photo: Diane Turner / Flickr).

We moved to the charming city of Hutto, TX a year ago. Hutto is a small town of about 17,000 people located just north-northeast of Austin. We settled into a rented house in a subdivision full of young couples raising children, started making friends, and began our new life. We gladly donned the moniker of Hippo.

Now, we get some funny looks from folks outside Hutto about that, so let me explain:

In 1915 a circus train stopped here in Hutto to take on passengers, mail, water and coal. While circus workers were tending to their animals a hippopotamus escaped from a railcar and lumbered over to Cottonwood Creek, near the rail line. The locals looked on and laughed while circus workers made multiple unsuccessful attempts to corral the hippo back to the train. A report was sent out by the Depot Agent to the local communities along the rail line in either direction: ‘STOP TRAINS, HIPPO LOOSE IN HUTTO’. The hippo was eventually prodded out of the muddy creek and back into the railcar and departed Hutto for good. It never left our hearts and minds, though.  Soon after, the hippo became the official mascot of the Hutto School, and its image began showing up on school communications in 1923.

There are hippos everywhere you look in town, from business signage to statues on lawns and in front of businesses. Hutto’s citizens are all Hippos. Our children are Hippos. Being a Hippo is a proud tradition. Right now Hippos need help.

From the beginning of the 2010 school year through the end of the 2012 school year the Hutto Independent School District (HISD) has cut a total of $4.3 million* from their maintenance and operations budget. This was prompted by State reductions in the public education budget. All department and campus budgets suffered a 10% cut. Veteran’s Hill Elementary was closed permanently, resulting in the loss of 70 jobs.  Through these actions and reductions in energy consumption Hutto will be able to end the 2011-2012 school year (ends August 31st) with a very, very small budget surplus.

The cuts aren’t over, though. The coming 2012-2013 school year will be subjected to another round of funding cuts from the state, as well as continued growth of the student population. An anticipated $1.2 million budget shortfall demanded action from our School Board.

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