Headbands and hairbows

UPDATE: The first time I posted it, apparently the last half of the post got eaten, I’ll try and recreate the general gist.

So, Kim and I went to this awesome fundraiser last night for the Tammy Lynn Center a fantastic local organization that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities.  At their annual Toast to the Triangle, all the area’s finest restaurants set up small tables in a giant ballroom at NCSU and give samples of their food.  Kim and I are no foodies, and $100/person is a lot, but we were special guests this year as each year they do family portraits of a dozen of their clients and families.  For the 2nd time, we were chosen.  (I’ll try and scan in a copy of our photo for another post).  Anyway, a great opportunity to go out and leave the boys with a sitter (Kim’s not about to leave Sarah with a babysitter yet).  So, we dressed Sarah all up and I carried her throughout the even in the Baby Bjorn.  I’m so not a fan of headbands/hairbows for bald baby girls (Greene babies are all very slow on the uptake when it comes to air– though it’s proven worth the wait), but I realize how the world works, so I relented to Kim and Evan’s request for Sarah to wear a headband.  Evan was so excited.  Not surprisingly, Sarah was a huge hit at the event.  And she certainly was damn cute.  I’m pretty sure though, that 1) she got more attention that an equally cute boy would have, and 2) the headband helped draw attention to her.  I guess that’s not so bad, she is awfully cute.  Kim’s analogy that carrying Sarah around was like being a rock star was not too far off.

Teacher Pay redux

Frequent commenter and blog favorite John F. (when I set those posts to publish at 6am, I know that at least one person will be up to read them that early) and I had a brief little email exchange about his comment on teacher pay and how come some Scandivian countries have lower pay, but much better education.  I think John’s email sums it up so well, that he gave me permission to make it a post:

Again, totally agree, poverty IS the source of the problem. And it would seem our individualistic culture blinds us from that reality. The Partnership for Children is continually pushing the quality of early childhood care and education through program standards and improving teacher education but we don’t even come close to comparing with countries like Finland. Their student-to-teacher ratio is far lower (like less than half) and their teachers have more education (like masters level). In North Carolina, Republicans are considering eliminating Smart Start & More at Four. Even Democrats have had substantial cuts to these initiatives in their recent budgets. Meanwhile kids in Finland enter kindergarten at 7, have near universal quality child care, and are whooping our butts in a host of social and economic categories. Differences aside, despite the economy I don’t think they would ever consider cutting teachers or programs, especially those that serve at-risk populations. Proposing to do so is the epitome of short-sighted and clearly illustrative that we just don’t understand the true source of the perception of our under-performing K-12 system. “It’s the poverty, stupid.”

I think that could some up a lot about this country.  Meanwhile, Republicans go on blithely cutting programs for underprivileged kids as if that won’t have any negative impact on our nation’s future.  Talk about losing the future.

Are Corporations people to?

Nice video about the role of corporations in society and the distorting effects of the Citizens United decision.  It was a little needlessly liberal for me (people who favor conservative policy outcomes should also be concerned about too much corporate influence), but still, good stuff:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Photo of the day

Okay, wrong on me to pick on Mrs. Newt Gingrich, but I was really struck by this photo accompanying the Slate article about making the transition from mistress to political wife.

Does she not look absolutely possessed in this photo?


Chart of the Day (Teacher Pay)

Nice post from Jon Cohn looking at US teacher pay in an international context.  Short version, as you’d probably guess, not so good.  Here’s the key charts:

There’s absolutely no doubt that this clear lack of emphasis we as a society place on our teachers means that the quality of our teachers is not as good as it otherwise would be.  Once again, I’ll go back to Gladwell’s article on the matter.  If we want better teachers we need to pay them and treat them as highly-skilled professionals.

The Dangers of Boxer shorts

Should we have Army Privates giving away documents to Wikileaks?  No.  Let’s get that out of the way.  Should we be abusing any US military prisoners simply because we don’t like their crime– especially under the guise of doing it for their protection.  Hell no!  We had more than enough of this crap under the Bush administration.  It’s thus especially frustrating and saddening to see it go on now on Obama’s watch.  From yesterday’s Post:

Military jailers are forcing Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old soldier accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.org, to strip naked in his cell at night and sleep without clothing, a requirement his lawyer says was imposed after Manning made a “sarcastic quip” about his confinement.

For most of the past eight months, Manning has been required to sleep wearing only boxer shorts, because of his status as a detainee under “prevention of injury watch,” said 1st Lt. Brian Villiard, a spokesman for the military detention facility, or “brig,” in Quantico. Beginning Wednesday night, the facility commander ordered that Manning turn over his boxers, too.

“The intention is not to cause any sort of humiliation or embarrassment,” Villiard said. “The intention is to ensure the safety and security of the detainee and make sure he is able to stand trial.”

Villiard said he could not explain how Manning might harm himself if he were allowed to keep his underwear, citing rules to protect detainees’ privacy. All he could say was that “circumstances warranted” the measure, which was ordered by the brig commander, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Barnes. The requirement will remain in effect until a review next week, he said.

But Manning’s attorney, David E. Coombs, said he believed the order was “punitive” under the “guise of being concerned” about Manning’s welfare.

In a blog post Saturday, Coombs gave this account of how the boxers were taken away: On Wednesday, Manning was told he would continue to be kept under the restrictions of prevention of injury watch, that there was nothing he could do to change his maximum-custody status and that the brig commander considered him at risk of self-harm. Manning then said that the restrictions were “absurd” and that if he wanted to harm himself using an item of clothing, he could do so “with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops.”

Are there worse things we can do than make a prisoner sleep naked?  Of course.  But in no way does that make the clear, intentional humiliation and degradation of a prisoner right.  It is especially wrong to pretend to be doing it for the protection of this prisoner.  The article also makes clear that all this is actually happening against the advice of actual mental health professionals.  This is really just disgusting.  Somebody at that brig (Denise Barnes?) should be out of a job for being a pathetic, petty tyrant.

Short and simple from Mark Kleiman:

Yes, yes, PFCs don’t get to decide to release a bunch of classified material. Manning has probably earned himself a prison cell. And I can understand the desire to pressure him into implicating Julian Assange.

All of that said: This is a total disgrace. It shouldn’t be happening in this country. You can’t be unaware of this, Mr. President. Silence gives consent.

True dat.

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