Friday, April 18, 2008

Reading isn't really fundamental...

...not like a few hours in Iraq is...

Reading Is Fundamental is a program that was founded in 1966 to prepare and motivate "children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most."

The program has requested $26 million to keep the program going in 2009.


Remind me how many minutes that pays for in Iraq?

Being that the current administration hasn't read a book since W. took the Curious George series personally, they must not understand the mistake they're making in their proposed 2009 budget in which
all funding for RIF has been cut. They must not understand the value - the importance - the necessity - of reading, especially for kids, especially for the underserved kids who have so much going against them.

I don't have to tell you that reading lets us explore the world, even when our families barely (or don't) have enough money to keep the electricity on, much less travel. I don't have to tell you that reading can inspire kids to learn, can help foster creativity, can help us understand one another. But we do need to tell them.

Write to your elected representatives here. This administration has spent the last seven years chipping away at America's ability to be an intellectual power. Don't let them take this too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Food and mouth disease research near CAFOs

Our genius government is making moves to relocate an animal disease research facility from its current home on an isolated island (i.e. not near livestock) to the mainland (i.e. near livestock). Even more exciting for us North Carolinians, Butner is among the places being considered.

Apparently, they were not deterred by a government simulation, "Crimson Sky," that ended in riots when a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak necessitated the killing of tens of millions of farm animals.

There's so much wrong with this scenario... but to me, it all boils down to yet one more reason to be very thoughtful about the food I eat. Would a family farm in Butner be any less likely to have to kill their entire heard should viruses sneak out of the lab? Of course not - those animals would have to be destroyed too. But we're talking about the difference between a small, isolated herd and the thousands of animals that are crammed together in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operation); there, unsanitary, crowded conditions allow disease to roll through the population before the first cow to be infected notices the sniffles. This is why conventional meat is pumped with antibiotics, folks. Outbreaks in CAFOs would cripple our food systems enough to lead to the aforementioned riots.

As a side note, when I was in 5th grade, there was talk about building a nuclear power plant in North Carolina. My teacher, Mark Moore, read us Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a book in which a Japanese girl attempts to harness the good luck of a thousand origami cranes before the leftover radiation from Hiroshima kills her. Our class made cranes and Mr. Moore mailed them and a copy of the book to the powers that be in protest.

Anyone up for some folding?

Day of Silence

On April 25, students across the country will take part in a Day of Silence to protest the bullying, harassment, and sadly, violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

Is there anything worth saying that isn't obvious? Our school must be safe for all students. We cannot allow our children to form hateful, prejudicial habits like bullying. Most of all, we have to finally stop placing value judgments on traits that are beyond a person's control - in that way, sexuality is no different than ethnicity.

I hope you'll encourage the students in your life to participate.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Iraq spending v. kids and homeless vets

From Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) via The Huffington Post:
For one day's spending in Iraq, we could provide access to health care for 2.6 million Americans for a year. For one day's spending in Iraq, we could give 48,000 homeless veterans housing for a year."
And later:
...the conservatives who refused to spend $50 billion dollars over five years to provide health care for needy children don't think twice about spending that amount for five months of war in Iraq."
He concludes:
Clearly, we are faced with a question of priorities. We can pour money down a destructive suction tube, for a war that is creating more enemies than it can destroy, in pursuit of impossible goals. Or we can invest in our priorities here at home, while showing a new face to the world, one characterized by respect for human rights, diplomacy, and the rule of law. To me, the choice could not possibly be any clearer."


Read Conyers' whole post here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Poem for mourning

I cut this out of the paper a few weeks ago, and thought of sending it to a woman who recently lost her husband. She had recited a poem at his funeral, a mournful poem that he gave her to hold onto until he died. He had no idea she would have need of it so soon.

I still haven't mailed it, though. Instead, I'll post it here and send warm, healing thoughts her way...

Spare Parts

We barge out of the womb
with two of them: eyes, ears,

arms, hands, legs, feet.
Only one heart. Not a good

plan. God should know we
need at least a dozen,

a baker's dozen of hearts.
They break like Easter eggs

hidden in the grass,
stepped on and smashed.

My own heart is patched,
bandaged, taped, barely

the same shape it once was
when it beat fast for you.

- Trish Dugger

A quote for bad days

There was a section right in the middle when we sat through the night and I went into a bit of a meltdown. But as I've come to appreciate, melting down is what goldsmiths do to refine dirty gold.

- Alistair Appleton, Do Buddhists Watch Telly?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Six-Word Memoir

Six-Word Memoir book preview from SMITHmag on Vimeo.

Mine: Loving myself isn't so hard afterall.

What's yours?