Exhaust

This is not a rant because I haven't got enough energy for that. I'm working from a state of exhaustion, which is the genesis of the title.

 photo IMG_0040_zps84f07477.jpgOver Thanksgiving Debbie and I drove over 1000 miles to North Carolina and back to visit my daughter and her husband and their two children (Rachel (to  photo IMG_0036_zpsef6fedf4.jpgthe left), who is 2 and mighty large for her age, and Zack (to the right, with his father), who just turned two months old). I'll sprinkle some photos taken during the visit in during my screed...which was generated by commentary left in a recent diary posted at Voices on the Square and Tuesday evening's diary at Daily Kos.

Upon arriving back home, I was faced with the last week of classes before Finals Week. So on Wednesday I gave exams in all of my classes, which I spent all day Wednesday and Thursday grading so that I could return them today. It turned out that I was able to avoid the all-nighter that was a distinct possibility, but the stress generated still made for less than restful sleep.

That's a major reason why I do not have something different prepared for this evening.

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A point about test scores, human versatility, and climate change

This diary entry is for parents, teachers, students, and anyone involved with America's public school systems. When reading Diane Ravitch's short post of December 3rd in Huffington Post I saw this stunning short paragraph criticizing our national education system's obsession with test scores:

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Nelson Mandela: A Great Leader Dies


Nelson Mandela was the greatest leader of our age. He died today at 95 of a lung infection connected to the tuberculosis he contracted while serving 27 years as a political prisoner. All South Africans, and everyone around the world who admires his heroic adherence to his principles and his extraordinary decision to embrace and forgive his former oppressors, is in deep mourning over his loss.

~ Forbes: Nelson Mandela: A Great Leader Dies ~

There was, of course, a time when Forbes would not have been so effusive in their praise, and that was the time when Nelson Mandela forged his moral authority.

More reflections below the fold

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Brits Consider "Terrorism" Charges against Guardian Staff

British police are examining whether Guardian newspaper staff should be investigated for terrorism offences over their handling of data leaked by Edward Snowden, Britain's senior counter-terrorism officer said on Tuesday.The disclosure came after Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, summoned to give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry, was accused by lawmakers of helping terrorists by making top secret information public and

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Slate: The Presidential Turkey Pardon Insults the Real People Who Deserve to Be Pardoned


Caramel and Popcorn are the lucky gobblers set to be pardoned this year, but I'd like to propose a new Thanksgiving tradition for the White House: Instead of (or perhaps in addition to) pardoning turkeys, the president could pardon real people. The rate at which the Obama administration pardons semiflightless birds is only a little worse than his administration's track record for pardoning human beings. Obama has pardoned two birds every year since 2009, compared with zero people in 2009, nine in 2010, 13 in 2011, and zero in 2012, out of 1,372 total applicants. The administration has granted one commutation of sentence out of 5,371 total applications.

The full article at Slate

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Gender Prison: That Bathroom Thing

It's name is the Student Success and Opportunity Act, but it is also known also known as AB 1266. And its opponents call it "the bathroom bill."

The law prohibits exclusion of transgender students from sex-segregated programs. Those include sports teams and physical education classes.

The organized opposition to the bill call themselves "Privacy for All Students." The group has a logo, which consists of an apple surrounding the stereotypical silhouettes of a man and a woman one would encounter on restroom doors…separated by a vertical line. The major players in Privacy for All Students are the Pacific Justice Institute and the National Organization for Marriage.

The opposition claims that they are not opposed to transgender students, but rather are concerned that boys will claim to be transgender in order to be able to use the girls restroom in order to spy on the girls. Because, you know, there is nothing sexier than someone eliminating waste from their body.

Even if we disregarded the fact that one can't simply start using the facilities of a different gender on a whim, nobody has found an instance of a boy pretending to be transgender for any reason other than to humiliate or deride transgender kids.

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Morning Reads: Living Wage Movement Spreading Like Wildfire

This in from Bill Moyers & Company's Morning Reads for 2 December, 2013:

Growing movement –> Following Black Friday protests last week, fast food workers seeking $15 per hour will stage one-day strikes in 100 cities this Thursday. Stephen Greenhouse reports for the NYT. ALSO: RJ Eskow writes at Campaign for America’s Future that the fight for a living wage may be creating a broader social movement. AND: Goldy reports for The Stranger that Seattle will be ground zero in the fight for $15 per hour this year, either through the legislature or at the ballot box. AND: U of M economist Arindrajit Dube on why it makes good economic sense to raise the wage floor.

That's all ~ nothing below the fold but room to comment

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Sunday Train: 'the successful communities are going to be the ones who get rail.'

In covering the upcoming vote on the planned North Metro Rail line in Denver, the Denver Post writes:

People and circumstances over the years have tried to change the gritty image of Commerce City. There have been high-end homes on its eastern border and a world-class soccer and concert stadium not far from the city's oil refineries, and even an attempt to wipe the city's industrial name off of the map and replace it with the more low-key moniker of Derby. But it may be a stop on the Regional Transportation District's North Metro Rail Line that brings some shine to the center of the city.

They quote the Commerce City Mayor:

"I'm very optimistic about the commercial opportunities that come with transit-oriented development," said Commerce City Mayor Sean Ford. "Once rail comes, we can develop around it, and I think it will be highly beneficial."

... as well as the Adams County Commissioner and Chairman of the North Area Transportation Alliance:

"In our world, the successful communities are going to be the ones who get rail," said Adams County Commissioner Erik Hansen

And on Tuesday night, the Metro North line was approved, for a 2014 start and 2018 completion, when it had been previously set back to 2044 (an oddly exact date that clearly meant, "not now, but maybe later"):

A spontaneous offer from Graham Contracting in February stepped up the plans for the North Metro line after the company teamed with three other private developers and gave the Regional Transportation District's board of directors a viable, ambitious construction plan, said RTD spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas.

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