Thursday, June 20, 2013

the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth...,

guardian | If you want an alternative way to think about Google+, you could start with Horace Dediu's wonderful metaphor comparing what Google does to catching fish:
Google tries to make a business succeed through having a huge amount of _flow_ in terms of data, traffic, queries and information that is indexed. So think about this idea of them tapping into a vast stream. The more volume that is flowing through the system the more revenue they generate.
As so given this very rough analogy I try to sharpen it up by saying: imagine it more as a river. And even more than a river, as a watershed, a river basin. Perhaps a giant basin the size of a continent. The business is, let's say, capturing fish at the mouth of the biggest river, before it exits into the ocean at its delta.
And so your job (as Google) is to catch fish mostly at one point. It's the most efficient way to catch fish because you have the most flow of water at that point and building nets is not trivial.
If you use that metaphor, then Google+ puts radio tags on all the fish. It's so much easier to know where they're going. (Ignore for a moment that you're the fish. It only gets in the way.)

The question really is, now you know that, are you comfortable with it? Personally I always found the choice at the heart of The Matrix a puzzling one. The choices seemed to be: you can know that the world you live in is a blasted, awful place with a dire climate, or you can live in what seems like a fairly comfortable world (as long as you don't mess with the agents, of course).

To be honest, I always wondered whether the people whose "lives" (computer-generated or no) were upended by Neo, the hacker hero of the film, really liked having that choice made for them.

Anyhow, that's what Google+ is about. Discussing it as if it were a social network which needs activity in the way that Facebook and Twitter do misses the point. It really doesn't matter if you never use it, never fill out your profile, never fill a circle, never get added to anyone's circle. What matters to Google is that you're signed in, in order that it can form its matrix of knowledge about you.

So now that you know: red pill or blue pill? Sign in or sign out?

top lives off the yield of the bottom...,

NYTimes | Here’s one sign the global elite is starting to get worried that capitalism isn’t working for the Western middle class. At the TED Global gathering in Scotland’s elegant capital city this week, much of the spotlight was on what’s going wrong with the 21st-century economy.

That matters because the TED conferences (TED stands for technology, entertainment and design, and is a not-for-profit global conference organization) are one of the obligatory stops on the itinerary of any self-regarding plutocrat, and in the past that constituency has often preferred its vision of the economic future served sunny-side up. 

The gloom started with former Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece. In a remarkably candid and introspective talk, Mr. Papandreou offered a mea culpa for his own mistakes and those of the European political elite. He admitted that hardship had been imposed on people who were “in the main, not to blame for the crisis” and accused the European establishment of uncritically, and at great cost, clinging to “the orthodoxy of austerity.” 

Small Greece, he argued, had been made the scapegoat for a larger political and economic failure. As Mr. Papandreou mockingly put it, Europe chose to point the finger at “those profligate, idle, ouzo-swilling, Zorba-dancing Greeks.” Instead of addressing the harder, underlying issues, the impulse was to say: “They are the problem! Punish them!” 

Mr. Papandreou is a son of privilege — both his father and grandfather were prime ministers of Greece — but, in a sign of the times, he inveighed against “plutocrats hiding their assets in tax havens” and “powerful lobbies protecting the powerful few.” His comments made an impact partly because he was so open in declaring his own shortcomings. Nor did he shy away from how angry a lot of people are about them.
“It’s no wonder many political leaders, and I don’t exclude myself, have lost the trust of our people,” Mr. Papandreou said, in the most affecting passage of his talk. “When riot police have to protect parliaments, a scene that is increasingly common around the world, there is something wrong with our democracies.”

killer-ape "progressives" faking it till they make it tickle me - same story - international, worldwide....,

NYTimes | “We are a civilized nation, a nation that is going through an excellent phase, and we have got everything prepared to receive adequately the honor to organize an excellent World Cup,” Ricardo Teixeira, then the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, said at the time.

Since then, the sentiment surrounding Brazil’s preparations for the World Cup, and much else overseen by the government, has shifted. Mr. Teixeira himself resigned last year, under a cloud of corruption allegations, and while the Brazilian government says it is spending about $12 billion on preparing for the World Cup, most of the stadiums are over budget, according to the government’s own audits court.

The sheen that once clung to the Workers Party has also been tarnished by a vast vote-buying scheme called the mensalão, or big monthly allowance, in a nod to the regular payments some lawmakers received. The scandal resulted in the recent conviction of several of high-ranking officials, including a party president and a chief of staff for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was a popular Brazilian president.

“There’s been a democratic explosion on the streets,” said Marcos Nobre, a professor at the University of Campinas. “The Workers Party thinks it represents all of the progressive elements in the country, but they’ve been power now for a decade. They’ve done a lot, but they’re now the establishment.”

The economic growth that once propelled Brazil’s global ambitions has slowed considerably, and inflation, a scourge for decades until the mid-1990s, has re-emerged as a worry for many Brazilians.

puts me in mind of the Hon.Bro.Preznit's neoliberal crackdown on the occupy movement...,

NYDailyNews |  As Brazilian taxpayers decry the high cost of low-quality services, riot police are apparently cracking down on protestors so harshly that bystanders might be in harm's way.

A dreadful image of a riot officer blasting pepper spray into a young, unarmed woman's face in Rio de Janeiro went viral Tuesday morning.

But that lady was simply standing on a deserted street corner Monday about 11:20 p.m. — no demonstrations in sight.

The picture, snapped by photographer Victor Caivano, does not include the officer's face. He stands with his back to the camera, an impersonal symbol of authority.

The women's scrunched-up grimace, on the other hand, is clearly visible — pummeled with an incapacitating aerosol blast.

Her green dress and tote bag are a far cry from the officer's tactical vest and bag of weapons.

Caivano told New Yorkmagazine that three riot officers asked the woman to leave the desolate street corner but that she either refused or questioned their order. She reportedly claimed that she was not doing anything wrong.
Then, without second guessing himself, the officer raised the canister and doused her with a pain-, temporary-blindness- and tear-inducing liquid.

 She stumbled backward screaming and cursing until she was detained. When they shuffled her into a police van, the non-demonstration of one was supposedly disbanded.

Rio de Janeiro reeked of tear gas by the end of the day after about 100,000 protestors marched through the city. Another march is scheduled for Thursday.

That night, tens of thousands of Brazilians also gathered on the streets of the São Paulo, the nation's largest city, to air their grievances. They spoke against how much money Brazilians give their government.

They said it is riddled with corruption and provides pitiable public services.

More than 50,000 people gathered outside the city's main cathedral. The demonstrations were mostly peaceful but small groups did fight with police and break into stores.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

american political science: a generational divide over education delivery models

Prof. Joyce M. | I saw the video. Is this the new bright shiny object obscuring a real problem with promises of a magic fix? It disparages textbooks and lectures. I see this as the rote learning model that has been pushed by Rupert Murdock(wants to make money from it), the Walmart family and Bill Gates. Teaching children to have short attention spans has no long term benefit. These programs teach to a test that they help to create. You learn to write well by reading. No textbooks, huh? This is a photo of a "flipped classroom" and this is a photo of a Harvard University classroom Rote learning does not foster creativity, independent thought or increased attention spans. Textbooks and lectures are still widely in use at our universities. Good luck passing the AP and CLEP with that type of education. & http://apcentral.collegeboard....

ENu | I think the film has pretty much got the idea. In my opinion education in the U.S. is a huge fail. On one side you have kids who simply dgaf(don't give a f___) and on the other you have kids killing themselves trying to "learn." Unfortunately, neither side is benefitting or actually learning or being educated and there doesn't seem to be a middle ground. Things are just going to continue spiraling with incompetence increasing.

What's truly sad is that the kids who work hard and try to actually understand are being beaten out by those who are good at guessing - because everything seems to be based on tests. The trick is no longer to understand what you're learning in high school and at some colleges, it's simply to regurgitate facts. I was honestly shocked the first time I wrote a paper at _______ and my teacher didn't like it because it didn't incorporate my opinion. Shoot, I didn't even know if I knew how to have my own opinion in an academic setting. And in biology, when they asked for extrapolations on tests, you could almost see the steam coming out of people's heads trying to figure out what to do with those! It became more of a guessing game than an understanding challenge, and less than 2% of the class had a clue as to what was going on.

If the education system were improved and students were actually given the chance to learn and understand, the opportunities would be endless. I don't know what it'll take to get us there, but something must be done ASAP.

CNu | ENu is my 19 year old daughter. She weighed in on the topic with me last night with the trailer video for the documentary Race to Nowhere. A product/result of exceptional heredity, parental investment, the finest private/independent education available in the midwest, and matriculating at one of the highly selective colleges and universities that still matters - I was delighted to receive the benefit of her opinion on this topic. Education is fundamental. It's a subject we ponder at great length and hopefully at some depth hereabouts. We have a significant divergence of opinion wrt prospective remedies. Frankly, however, I'm at a complete loss to understand what a credible and objective criticism of flipped classrooms looks like. Mebbe I'll hear one before everything is said and done, but I'm not holding my breath.

american political science: schooling ourselves in an unequal america

NYTimes | Averages can be misleading. The familiar, one-dimensional story told about American education is that it was once the best system in the world but that now it’s headed down the drain, with piles of money thrown down after it.

The truth is that there are two very different education stories in America. The children of the wealthiest 10 percent or so do receive some of the best education in the world, and the quality keeps getting better. For most everyone else, this is not the case. America’s average standing in global education rankings has tumbled not because everyone is falling, but because of the country’s deep, still-widening achievement gap between socioeconomic groups.

And while America does spend plenty on education, it funnels a disproportionate share into educating wealthier students, worsening that gap. The majority of other advanced countries do things differently, at least at the K-12 level, tilting resources in favor of poorer students.

Historically, the role of the federal government, which takes a back seat to the states in education, has been to try to close achievement gaps, but they have continued to widen. Several changes in federal education policy under President Obama have actually increased the flow of scarce federal dollars toward those students who need it less, reinforcing inequities and further weakening overall educational performance. Reversing America’s slide in international education rankings will require turning that record on its head.

America’s relative fall in educational attainment is striking in several dimensions. American baby boomers ages 55 to 64 rank first in their age group in high school completion and third in college completion after Israel and Canada. But jump ahead 30 years to millennials ages 25 to 34, and the United States slips to 10th in high school completion and 13th in college completion. America is one of only a handful of countries whose work force today has no more years of schooling than those who are retiring do.

On international tests, American students consistently score in the middle of the pack among advanced countries, but America underperforms most on two measures — preschool enrollment and college on-time completion. Nearly all 4-year-olds in Japan, France, Britain and Germany are enrolled in preschool, compared with 69 percent in the United States. And although the United States is relatively good at getting high school graduates into college, it is horrible at getting them to graduate on time with a college degree. With more than half of those who start college failing to earn a degree, the United States has the highest college dropout rate in the developed world.

On average, money is not the problem. Given the country’s relative wealth, per-pupil spending on elementary and high school is roughly on track with other advanced countries. At the college level, the United States spends lavishly, far more than any other country.

The problem is that the United States is not spending its education dollars effectively. At every point along the education track, from preschool to college, resources are skewed to wealthier students.

trusted partners don't compete, they just cheat?

bloomberg | Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.

These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency. The role of private companies has come under intense scrutiny since his disclosure this month that the NSA is collecting millions of U.S. residents’ telephone records and the computer communications of foreigners from Google Inc (GOOG). and other Internet companies under court order.

Many of these same Internet and telecommunications companies voluntarily provide U.S. intelligence organizations with additional data, such as equipment specifications, that don’t involve private communications of their customers, the four people said.

Makers of hardware and software, banks, Internet security providers, satellite telecommunications companies and many other companies also participate in the government programs. In some cases, the information gathered may be used not just to defend the nation but to help infiltrate computers of its adversaries.

Along with the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency (0112917D), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and branches of the U.S. military have agreements with such companies to gather data that might seem innocuous but could be highly useful in the hands of U.S. intelligence or cyber warfare units, according to the people, who have either worked for the government or are in companies that have these accords.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

evolution and culture

ubc | Humans are not just group living social animals. They are also cultural animals. Humans, more than any other species, have the special capacity to preserve behavioral modifications and inventions initiated by group members, by transmitting them horizontally across group members, and vertically across generations (Boyd & Richerson, 1985; Cavalli-Sforza & Feldman, 1981; Heyes & Galef, 1996; Sperber, 1990, 1996; Tomasello, Kruger, & Ratner, 1993).

For example, once a new and useful food gathering technique is discovered by some individuals, humans have the capacity to preserve , and possibly improve upon, the new skill through social, rather than biological transmission.  Many theorists have suggested that the cognitive and behavioral capacities that make human culture possible - complex communication skills, social learning mechanisms, identification with a social group, biased processing of information that favors ingroup members and prestigious individuals - evolved because of the adaptive benefits that they offered to individuals (Boyd & Richerson, 1985; Henrich & Boyd, 1998; Henrich & Gil-White, 2001; Richerson & Boyd, 2005; Tomasello et al., 1993).

Individual survival and reproduction were facilitated by participation within certain kinds of coordinated group activity where behavioral changes could be retained and perpetuated within the group. Thus, it is likely that psychological mechanisms promoting these sorts of coordinated group actions evolved in humans (Richerson & Boyd, 2005). Several chapters in this book (Brewer & Caporael, this volume; Van Vugt & Van Lange, this volume) review many of these specific arguments, and so we will not belabor them here. The summary point is simply this: There are very likely specific evolved psychological mechanisms within social groups for the emergence of the sort of coordinated group activity that is minimally necessary for human culture to exist.

Human cultures are more than just well-coordinated social groups; they are well-coordinated social groups in which the individuals share massive amounts of common goals, desires, values, beliefs and other forms of knowledge.  Cultures are defined not just by the fact that individuals within those cultures share many kinds of knowledge, but also by the specific kinds of knowledge that they find important to share. Cultures consist of specific prohibitions and taboos, specific moral "rights" and "wrongs," specific supernatural beliefs, specific themes in literature and art, and so on.

Although cross-cultural research often draws attention to the differences between cultures (e.g., different supernatural agents appear in different religious traditions), this body of literature also reveals striking similarities in the basic contours of any culture (e.g., most if not all religions revolve around one or more supernatural agents that share striking cognitive similarities across cultures).  Indeed, thorough reviews of the ethnographic record have revealed hundreds of universal patterns and norms across the full spectrum of human cultures (Brown, 1991).  What accounts for the similarities underlying different belief systems?  One set of answers is provided by evolutionary analyses of human cognition and social behavior.

21st century instruction..., making learning fun, interesting, and effective

wikipedia | Flip teaching (or flipped classroom) is a form of blended learning in which students watch lectures online and work on problem sets with other students in class. This approach allows teachers to spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is also known as backwards classroom, reverse instruction, flipping the classroom and reverse teaching.[1][2]

The traditional pattern of teaching has been to assign students to read textbooks and work on problem sets outside school, while listening to lectures and taking test in class. In flip teaching, the students first study the topic by themselves, typically using video lessons prepared by the teacher[3][4] or third parties such as the Khan Academy. Classroom time is for the students to apply the knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work.[5][6][7] The teacher tutors the students when they become stuck, rather than imparting the initial lesson. Complementary techniques include[8] differentiated instruction and project-based learning.[9]
Students who have no access to computers or the internet outside school cannot participate in flipped classes.[9]

jaw-jacking, navel-gazing, oxygen-thieves - wrangling over the quality of oranges....,

NYTimes | There is a great progressive tradition in American thought that urges us not to look for the aims of education beyond education itself. Teaching and learning should not be conceived as merely instrumental affairs; the goal of education is rather to awaken individuals’ capacities for independent thought. Or, in the words of the great progressivist John Dewey, the goal of education “is to enable individuals to continue their education.”

This vision of the educational enterprise is a noble one. It doesn’t follow, however, that it is always clear how to make use of its insights. If we are to apply progressive ideals appropriately to a given discipline, we need to equip ourselves with a good understanding of what thinking in that discipline is like. This is often a surprisingly difficult task. For a vivid illustration of the challenges, we can turn to raging debates about K-12 mathematics education that get referred to as the “math wars” and that seem particularly pertinent now that most of the United States is making a transition to Common Core State Standards in mathematics.

At stake in the math wars is the value of a “reform” strategy for teaching math that, over the past 25 years, has taken American schools by storm. Today the emphasis of most math instruction is on — to use the new lingo — numerical reasoning. This is in contrast with a more traditional focus on understanding and mastery of the most efficient mathematical algorithms.

Monday, June 17, 2013

c'mon naomi....,

facebook | I am updating my post from Friday ( that raised questions — just questions, which citizens in a functioning democracy should always be expecting to raise at all times about everything — in this case, about some aspects of Snowden’s presentation that I find worth further inquiry. Please remember that these are questions not assertions. Sources in the whistleblower community have confirmed that the more serious of my questions — which relate to the odd absence of US counsel at Snowden’s side, given that the laws he will be accused of violating, if he is charged, are US laws — does bear further investigation.

On the bigger picture, I do find a great deal of media/blog discussion about serious questions such as those I raised, question that relate to querying some sources of news stories, and their potential relationship to intelligence agencies or to other agendas that may not coincide with the overt narrative, to be extraordinarily ill-informed and naive.

There is no bright line that separates ‘real events’ from the world of intelligence, surveillance, and potential intervention in outcomes. There is not ‘reality’ and ‘spy novels’ any more, with no interpenetration. On the contrary — the surveillance/security world and ‘the real world’ are bring more closely knit all the time, and both reporters and commentators need to lose their naivete about this interpenetration.

There is no longer a bright line between ‘us’, transparent reality in which everything is as it appears, and ‘them’ — the spooks, the shadow side, what used to be the material of John le Carre novels.

The security state and its apparatus is a now a massive part of our economy; billions and billions of dollars — the number is not transparent — are transmitted via DHS, the NSA and other entities into the hiring of vast numbers of people whose job is to do what they do while not appearing to do what they do, in terms of surveillance and other forms of domestic scrutiny of dissent; other billions are funnelled into the technology that indeed watches everything we do and say. Some of the jobs go to people inside the NSA — but more and more of these tasks are being done by people contracted to engage in security or surveiilance-related tasks, in mainstream corporate America.

big dick slithers out of the undisclosed location to grumble nonsense out the side of his neck...,

zerohedge | Over the weekend, Dick Cheney emerged from his lair, and staunchly defended the NSA surveillance programs that started under his tenure as Vice President, telling Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that the programs could have stopped 9/11 had they been in effect. More to the point, Cheney shared his view of Edward Snowden, whom he accused of being a traitor and went so far as hinting that he could be a spy for China. "I'm suspicious because he went to China. That's not a place where you would ordinarily want to go if you are interested in freedom, liberty and so forth," Cheney said, adding: "It raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did this." The last statement finally generated an official response from China whose Foreign Ministry on Monday, which had been silent for the past week over all issues surrounding the whistleblower, denying Edward Snowden was a Chinese spy and said the United States should give the world an explanation regarding its international internet surveillance programme.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

american political science: social/cultural problems may still be politically and economically intractable

nih | The gap between Whites and Blacks in levels of violence has animated a prolonged and controversial debate in public health and the social sciences. Our study reveals that over 60% of this gap is explained by immigration status, marriage, length of residence, verbal/reading ability, impulsivity, and neighborhood context. If we focus on odds ratios rather than raw coefficients, 70% of the gap is explained. Of all factors, neighborhood context was the most important source of the gap reduction and constitutional differences the least important.

We acknowledge the harsh and often justified criticism that tests of intelligence have endured, but we would emphasize 2 facts from our findings. First, measured verbal/reading ability, along with impulsivity/hyperactivity, predicted violence, in keeping with a long line of prior research. Second, however, neither factor accounted for much in the way of racial or ethnic disparities in violence. Whatever the ultimate validity of the constitutional difference argument, the main conclusion is that its efficacy as an explainer of race and violence is weak.

Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that Blacks are segregated by neighborhood and thus differentially exposed to key risk and protective factors, an essential ingredient to understanding the Black–White disparity in violence. The race-related neighborhood features predicting violence are percentage professional/managerial workers, moral/legal cynicism, and the concentration of immigration. We found no systematic evidence that neighborhood- or individual-level predictors of violence interacted with race/ ethnicity. The relationships we observed thus appeared to be generally robust across racial/ ethnic groups. We also found no significant racial or ethnic disparities in trajectories of change in violence.
Similar to the arguments made by William Julius Wilson in The Truly Disadvantaged,these results imply that generic interventions to improve neighborhood conditions may reduce the racial gap in violence. Policies such as housing vouchers to aid the poor in securing residence in middle-class neighborhoods may achieve the most effective results in bringing down the long-standing racial disparities in violence. Policies to increase home ownership and hence stability of residence may also reduce disparities (see model 3, Table 2 [triangle]).

Family social conditions matter as well. Our data show that parents being married, but not family configuration per se, is a salient factor predicting both the lower probability of violence and a significant reduction in the Black–White gap in violence. The tendency in past debates on Black families has been either to pathologize female-headed households as a singular risk factor or to emphasize the presence of extended kin as a protective factor. Yet neither factor predicts violence in our data. Rather, being reared in married-parent households is the distinguishing factor for children, supporting recent work on the social influence of marriage and calls for renewed attention to the labor-market contexts that support stable marriages among the poor.

Although the original gap in violence between Whites and Latinos was smaller than that between Whites and Blacks, our analysis nonetheless explained the entire gap in violence between Whites and Latino ethnic groups. The lower rate of violence among Mexican Americans compared with Whites was explained by a combination of married parents, living in a neighborhood with a high concentration of immigrants, and individual immigrant status. The contextual effect of concentrated immigration was robust, holding up even after a host of factors, including the immigrant status of the person, were taken into account.

The limitations of our study raise issues for future research. Perhaps most important is the need to replicate the results in cities other than Chicago. The mechanisms explaining the apparent benefits to those living in areas of concentrated immigration need to be further addressed, and we look to future research to examine Black–White differences in rates of violence that remain unexplained. As with any nonexperimental research, it is also possible we left out key risk factors correlated with race or ethnicity. Still, to overturn our results any such factors would have to be correlated with neighborhood characteristics and uncorrelated with the dozen-plus individual and family background measures, an unlikely scenario. Even controlling for the criminality of parents did not diminish the effects of neighborhood characteristics. Finally, it is possible that family characteristics associated with violence, such as marital status, were themselves affected by neighborhood residence. If so, our analysis would mostly likely have underestimated the association between neighborhood conditions and violence.

We conclude that the large racial/ethnic disparities in violence found in American cities are not immutable. Indeed, they are largely social in nature and therefore amenable to change.

american political science: little ethiopia

bbcnews | As many as 250,000 Ethiopians live in and around Washington DC, more than in any urban area outside of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa itself.

There are so many restaurants, shops and businesses catering to Ethiopians that the community has its own 1,000-page telephone book.

The country's civil war, which ultimately led to independence for Eritrea, caused tens of thousands of Ethiopians to seek asylum in the US during the 1990s. Many of those who came to America as Ethiopians are now Eritrean. 

The BBC's William Marquez visited an area of Washington known to some as Little Ethiopia to hear how this community is both protecting its African heritage and embracing modern America.

rio carnival's winning samba school's homage to the black woman

The Samba School Imperio da Tijuca was this year's champion of the Rio Carnival. They paid homage to the Black Woman by presenting her as muse and inspiration to their native Brazil and the world.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

american political science: worth reading for the summary history of the urban origins of 2nd/3rd line inheritors of the civil rights movement

scribd | Kansas City andhow it is prototypical of most American cities that struggle with race, class, finance, and power issues.  Tom Pendergast is in the political boss hall of fame, corrupting everything from Kansas City's cityhall to the reputation of Harry Truman. In 1940, the Kansas City business community had had enough and rallied to change hire a new city manager and end the Pendergast machine. They hired L. P. Cookingham to lead the city out of corruption and into the enlightened era of reformed citymanagement. Cookingham distinguished himself as the American “dean” of city managers, so recognized by the American Society of Public Administration in an annual award to honor hisachievements. While this is the commonly told timeline of change and political milestones inKCMO, it is not the most pivotal.

Another civic leader, J.C. Nichols, had a much greater impact on setting into motion the traditionsthat would bring Kansas City to its “Judas” moment. J.C. Nichols founded the Urban Land Institute, which provides an annual award in his honor to recognize his achievements in the field of urbandevelopment. Nichols developed the first auto-centered shopping center in the U.S., The CountryClub Plaza, which sits today as the epitome of New Urbanism. He was the developer responsible for  platting the most successful residential real estate project in the city – the series of subdivisions to the south of the Plaza that redefined the nation's approach to housing segregation. J.C. Nicholscreated the racial covenant deed restriction to market his properties and convinced the national realestate community, including the FHA, to do the same. The impact on his hometown, Kansas City,remains to this day. Not only did it seal the fate of African-American mobility in that city, it alsodemonstrated the political power that can be harbored by the business community. Such power has been chronicled by political scholars from coast to coast. That political forebearance acted as athumb on the neck of the black community until its first black mayor, now U.S. Congressman,Emanuel Cleaver II was elected to the city's top post in 1991. Yet the divisions remain in the socialmores of Kansas City, blocking the advancement of the school district, the economy, investment, thehousing market, and on and on. It's quite a legacy for Mr. Nichols.

Kansas City remains a largely segregated city in 2010 even though racial covenants were outlawedin 1948 by the U.S. Supreme Court and equal housing became the law of the land in 1968. Today,Kansas City can be seen in stark terms courtesy of the 2000 census depicting African-Americans – clearly showing the racial divide in the city along Troost Avenue.

Since 1970, the school district board has gone through 26 different superintendents. That is not a typo – 26 superintendents in the last 40 years. Why has there been such a revolving door of staff leadership? In part, it stems from the difficult task of bothmanaging and educating a declining urban school district. Every major city in the country hassuffered the same decline in performance, revenues, and hardships dealing with an increasingly poor and ill-prepared student body. Kansas City's urban school district is no different. But the parade of superintendents in the KCMSD also is borne of the struggle to balance white vs. black power, eastvs. west dominance for control of the district and its direction, and the demand for a black ladder tothe middle class through district jobs, business contracts, and prestige. In a district that washandicapped by racial covenants that were arranged by the white business leadership, it should not be surprising that there is a zero level of trust by a segment of the black community of the intentionsof “reformers” and superintendents that seek to overhaul the district. Long fought-for gains by black leadership, parents, community residents, churches, and businesses resulted in an insulated power structure on the eastside. Just as the white leadership of Hyde Park are circling their wagons againstcrime and decline today, a segment of the black leadership on the eastside long ago circled their wagons to preserve a bastion of dignity and upward mobility. But as the old adage goes...power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

During the Civil Rights Era, Freedom, Inc. was created by eastside leaders as the political club tochampion and advocate for African-Americans in Kansas City. For many years it was the “go-to” political hub for Democratic party leaders who needed minority voters to turn out in elections. Butmore than a political lackey, Freedom, Inc. served to screen candidates, groom candidates, andadvocate for public policy and tax referendums. As minority leadership expanded on the eastside, sotoo did the number of politically minded clubs and organizations. Black ministers joined together asthe Concerned Clergy. Human Rights advocates organized as the East 23rd Street PAC and the AdHoc Group Against Crime. Vestiges of Model Cities' programs became Swope Community Builders,led by the Swope Medical group leader Frank Ellis, and the Mazuma Credit Union. Today the primary groups of black political leadership are Freedom, Inc., Concerned Clergy, Black Agenda Group, Baptist Minister's Union, Methodist Minister's Union, Urban Summit (of black electedofficials), Black United Front, and the esoteric Eggs and Enlightenment. Add to this a number of CDCs, neighborhood groups, unions, anti-gang groups, nonprofits, and redevelopment projects suchas the 18th and Vine Jazz Redevelopment District, the Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball museum, and you have a broad spectrum of leadership and access points within the black community. No longer is there a single voice or a go-to group with whom the white community cannegotiate. Instead, there is need for real engagement, dialogue, and interaction in order to createcommunity consensus, partnerships, and progress. For those, black or white, that expect to find or have absolute power, this new dynamic is vexing.

american political science: the architect of white flight and suburban sprawl

wikipedia | Jesse Clyde Nichols (August 23, 1880 - February 16, 1950), better known as J. C. Nichols, was a prominent developer of commercial and residential real estate in Kansas City. He was born in Olathe, Kansas, attended the University of Kansas and Harvard University. His developments include the Country Club Plaza, the first suburban shopping center in the United States and the Country Club District, the largest contiguous master-planned community in the United States.

He called his method "planning for permanence," for his objective was to "develop whole residential neighborhoods that would attract an element of people who desired a better way of life, a nicer place to live and would be willing to work in order to keep it better." Nichols invented the percentage lease, where rents are based on tenants' gross receipts. The percentage lease is now a standard practice in commercial leasing across the United States. Nichols was prominent in Kansas City civic life, being involved in the creation of the Liberty Memorial, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Midwest Research Institute, as well as the development of Kansas City University, now the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His philosophies about city planning greatly influenced other developments in the United States, including Beverly Hills and the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, as well as Shaker Heights, Ohio. Modern outdoor shopping centers, now common in the United States, share a common ancestor in the Country Club Plaza, which opened in Kansas City in 1923. The Urban Land Institute's J. C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development[1] is named for him. Moreover, the New Urbanists, developers who design to combat suburban sprawl, look to the Country Club District as a model for modern developments.

J.C. Nichols relied on restrictive covenants to control the uses of the lands in the neighborhoods he developed. Most of the covenants restricted the lands to residential uses, and contained other features such as setback and free space requirements. However, homes in the Country Club District were restricted with covenants that prohibited African Americans and Jews from owning or occupying the homes, unless they were servants. Nichols did not invent the practice, but he used it to effectively bar ethnic minorities from living in his properties during the first half of the century. His restrictive covenant model was later adopted by the federal government to help implement similar policies in other regions of the United States. Ultimately, the 1948 Supreme Court decision Shelley v. Kraemer made such covenants unenforceable. Nevertheless, covenants remained on the deeds to properties developed by J.C. Nichols for decades after the Supreme Court decision because of the practical difficulty of changing them. (The deed restrictions in most neighborhoods renew automatically every twenty to twenty-five years unless a majority of the homeowners agree to change them with notarized votes.) In 2005, Missouri passed a law allowing the governing bodies of homeowner's associations to delete restrictive covenants from deed restrictions without a vote of the members. To this day, the Country Club District is predominantly white, and it is among the wealthiest, most sought-after neighborhoods in the United States, and has still been plagued with numerous accusations of racial profiling against minorities by police and security officers in the area.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Prof. Joyce M: Advanced Seminar on American Political Science

When I was a boy, my parents took me to an address given at Century II auditorium by the late great New York congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. I remember that lecture because the Hon.Sis.Congresswoman was a riveting, direct, and powerful voice - competent and wise in a way that hasn't been observed on the American political scene for quite some time. I haven't heard her kind of intelligent, wise, and compassionate political discourse in a very long time, until lately that is.....,

I have been reading the DOJ website for years and have a different perspective. It is true that President Obama has deported more people than any prior president and audited more businesses. But, in Texas, that meant jobs for black people that were previously held by illegal aliens.

When you deport nearly 400,000 a year, some jobs are going to open up. When you send the employers to jail and levy fines--they get the message. Most of the positive changes have come through the Justice Department as congress is not willing to cooperate. &

The financial collapse was caused mostly by mortgage fraud. For many years there were warnings that over 60% of mortgages were for investment property. In the past, investors bought property for cash at auctions, rehabbed them and put them up for sale or rent. Because government housing vouchers allowed the residents getting them to live anywhere that passed inspection--people got the idea of taking out mortgages on homes (sometimes in bulk) and paying the mortgages with money from the government. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Mixed in the neighborhood with the working poor who just wanted a decent home, were the thuggies. The thuggies who often find shelter with lonely desperate women, trashed the homes and ran others from the neighborhoods. Other people lied on their loan applications, hoping to make money as real estate prices rose. Still others committed deliberate fraud with the help of apraisers and mortgage brokers. Then those investment were sold. And the banks were caught with a lot of bad debt. Most people don't realize that AIG insured those gambles. Even people who didn't own the investments could insure them. Everybody panicked on the way down.

I was looking at a bank stock, when my husband bought me my weekly copy of Barrons.(before Murdock) Their roundtable said GET OUT OF THE STOCK MARKET! I told my husband, but he hesitated until he saw the losses on his 401K statement. I found 14 stocks that didn't lose money and paid their dividends during the meltdown. I also took a chance on corporate debt at Barron's advice. But, after a while, my hubbie got nervous and asked me to cash out. I saw Apple at $6.00 a share and was just getting ready to push the buy button with an option to continue to buy at that price when my husband told me he didn't want to lose $600.00. In the intervening time, I realized that you could actually make money during bad times if you don't have a lot of money to invest. And I still have the stock I bought at $0.16 a share which is today at $3.87 a share. So what is my point? My point is...instead of bemoaning Wall Street--learn how to work it to your advantage. I can trade for $4.95 a trade and $0.65 a contract + $4.95 for options. I have bought my daughter money on investing and given her money to save for the day she starts to trade for herself. The lie continues to circulate that no one was prosecuted in the mortgage mess. It doesn't bother me that the President went to Columbia and Harvard or that he was a professor. I heard a union for the workers who make auto parts that whenever they had a complaint about Chinese imports breaking trade or intellectual property laws, the Whitehouse was on their side.

A lot of what ailes black America is the negative attitude of many of our sisters as they feel that they are "outsiders". Many have felt angry at being part of what they see as a permanent hated subculture that they can't escape. What has been the result--they allow themselves to be used and abused and Amen every immoral thing a black man does. Now, I see them proud and starting to fight back.

Presidents come and presidents go, but whatever one might think of the President and he is the President of the United States with Congress making the rules....he and his wife have instilled pride in many of our people who didn't have it before. Although some people may not like it, he has shown many people of foreign origin that black people in this country, do count and are not the hated permanent underclass the media led everyone to believe.

finger hovering over the reset button...,

shtf | Something is wrong. Very, very wrong.

Our economy is, as it has been for many years, on the brink of collapse. They may not have announced it officially just yet, but recent data suggest that we are most certainly in another recession (we may never have actually gotten out of the first one). While official statistics indicate there is very mild economic growth, the fact is that the growth is coming from monetary expansion driven by the Fed. As more money is slammed into the system prices rise, forcing consumers to pay more for everything from food to stocks. This, in the eyes of the government is growth. In reality, however 55% of America’s wealth has been vaporized in the last five years, a quarter of American households are on food stamps, and consumers are tapped out.

In the middle east, things are heating up, with Russia having deployed their Pacific Fleet to the region, and the US putting boots on the ground in Syria as recently as this week.

On the political front, we have the President of the United States, his administration and his subordinates at domestic intelligence agencies, the IRS, the Pentagon and the Justice Department embroiled in scandals and activities that have even their most ardent supporters questioning what is really going on behind closed doors.
Yes, something is wrong. But no one is talking – at least not in an official capacity.

Thus, we are left to connect the dots ourselves with the help of various sources made available through alternative media.

We certainly can’t expect government officials to openly admit that some very bad things have happened, are happening and will likely happen in the future. But there are those inside the halls of our most hallowed and respected institutions that risk their lives to get information out so that we can be prepared for what may well be coming down the pike.

We can downplay anonymous sources and pretend like this is all made up, or, we can simply look around and see what’s going on in the world and put two-and-two together.

technology is destroying jobs (psst.., and there's no plan for supporting/sustaining unprofitable consumers)

technologyreview | Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. ­Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.

That robots, automation, and software can replace people might seem obvious to anyone who’s worked in automotive manufacturing or as a travel agent. But Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s claim is more troubling and controversial. They believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States. And, they suspect, something similar is happening in other technologically advanced countries.

Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence, according to Brynjolfsson, is a chart that only an economist could love. In economics, productivity—the amount of economic value created for a given unit of input, such as an hour of labor—is a crucial indicator of growth and wealth creation. It is a measure of progress. On the chart Brynjolfsson likes to show, separate lines represent productivity and total employment in the United States. For years after World War II, the two lines closely tracked each other, with increases in jobs corresponding to increases in productivity. The pattern is clear: as businesses generated more value from their workers, the country as a whole became richer, which fueled more economic activity and created even more jobs. Then, beginning in 2000, the lines diverge; productivity continues to rise robustly, but employment suddenly wilts. By 2011, a significant gap appears between the two lines, showing economic growth with no parallel increase in job creation. Brynjolfsson and McAfee call it the “great decoupling.” And Brynjolfsson says he is confident that technology is behind both the healthy growth in productivity and the weak growth in jobs.