Daily Archives: January 19, 2015

Public schools

There’s been some discussion in the comments section about what’s happened to California’s public school system and I thought this post by Glenn Reynolds speaks to that well. 

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty.

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

….  But the WaPo has missed the big story — it’s not that so many students are poor, it’s that the non-poor students, and parents, are exiting the public schools. More attention to that phenomenon, and why it’s happening, would be useful.

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Update from John

John and Marcus Cannon - John's the smaller guy, on the right

John and Marcus Cannon – John’s the smaller guy, on the right

Ahoy, my friends. In the immortal words of Steve McQueen, “Hey you bastards, I’m still here.”

What are we on, installment 8? It’s been a while. The thickening haze of “chemo fog” has begun to impede my literary habits. Also, I was a bit frisky in my physical escapades and somehow pulled a muscle. Did you know the walls of your intestines are muscles? Mmmmboy was that a long and sleepless couple of weeks.

I have thus far made it through eight bouts of treatment. Let me tell you: good times. I have shown what the doctors call “mixed results”. Some tumors have grown larger, some have disappeared. They say I’m showing “high tolerance” of the treatment, which means that despite perpetual heartburn, the bleeding gums, the night sweats and the barfs, chemo isn’t killing me outright. So that’s nice. I’ll finish up these last four treatments and see where I’m at come February. If the doctors had their druthers, I would take a few weeks rest and then start this bologna all over again, so on and so forth until I inevitably perish. I guess that’s one way to go about it.

I’m not really sold on that approach. The chemo doesn’t seem to have an impressive effect on the cancer. It continuously degrades my body’s immune system. It costs tens of thousands of dollars. It feels like hell. Is that really how I want to live the rest of my life, to be saturating my body with toxic chemicals, playing medical whack-a-mole with the symptoms and chasing a mountain of side-effects with still more pills?

Obviously, I’m not a doctor. This is my first time having cancer, so I may well indeed be full of bad ideas. But poison doesn’t feel like medicine. And it certainly fails to address the source of my cancer. The doctors know it won’t cure me. They sadly shake their heads and say, “it’s the best we can do.”

Well I ain’t buying it. I don’t think flooding my veins with toxins is what my body wants. I feel this disease stems more from an imbalance between the mind, body and spirit. (Sorry if that sounds too new age for you. Go get some cancer and we’ll talk.) Strange as this may sound, it doesn’t feel like an evil entity. It doesn’t seem some invading army hell-bent on my demise. This cancer is a growth of my own body, spurred on by an internal upheaval of my own design. The common and constant vernacular of violence (“Kick its ass! Smash it!”) is so pervasive, but doesn’t seem to serve anyone well. I get the idea of the fighting spirit, but should I wish this violence upon my own body? Is that worth the constant angst that roils my mind? Why focus on illness instead of health?

Following that line of thought, maybe the “point” of this whole ordeal isn’t to survive. That’s not a surrender, that’s not giving up. However, an important part of facing this situation is accepting that death may be the end result. It may be completely out of my control, and that’s okay. Right now my focus is on enjoying every moment I have with you fools. It brings me such sincere joy to be out on the streets of Portland, Maine and in the company of such incredible people. The live music in this town might cure me alone. To all fantastic folks out west, I’ll see you soon. I want as much good to come from this ridiculous situation as possible. To impart even a fraction of the magic that I feel for being alive right now would be enough.

This existence is a whirlwind carnival, but the obvious and important fact is that we’re all in it together. We are all on this grassy little marble hurtling through the depths of space in spite of all odds against us. We live these quick, high-wheeling lives bound up inside the balloons of our bodies, flown from an unseen string the other end of which may or may not be held by a magnanimous all-knowing eternal soul. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. But if I was, my order would be to take care of one another. And to travel.

Speaking of which, I’ll probably be making some impulsive decisions come February. Some of you will freak out. Just be cool.

We cool? Cool.


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If you’ve been whupped 45-7, it seems a bit silly to whine about the ball



Patriots “under investigation” after Colts complain that they used balls with too-little air. Former quarterback Boomer Esiason explained this morning that, when he was playing, the NFL insisted that all balls used in a game be brand new, from-the-box, and thus were slippery and hard to throw. He, and every other quarterback of his era, including stars like Joe Montana and Troy Aikman, complained bitterly about it, but only when Peyton Manning came along did the NFL finally cave in and join other professional sports – baseball, for instance, always uses scuffed, broken-in balls, hockey uses frozen pucks to reduce their bounciness –  and allow each team to use their own pre-conditioned balls. Only balls used for kicking are new, and that’s because the kickers prefer the hardness.

The patriots could have tossed a deflated rubber raft around last night and they’d still have creamed the Colts.

While I personally am not much of a Patriots fan (I usually base my allegiance to a team for any particular game on who’s got the better looking uniform), my son John is, and he’s had a great time this fall teaching his sister Sarah about the game, and converting her to a fan.   Plus, of course, the team was so kind to John last December, giving him a tour of the stadium, arranging a meet-up with cancer survivor Marcus Cannon, and providing fantastic seats for a game, how could I possibly not like them? So I’ll be up in Maine in two weeks, cheering them on with John and Sarah and even Pal Nancy – John may have to explain the game to both Nancy and me, but hey, as long as there’re chicken wings….


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Breaking news from 2009

21 Vista

21 Vista Dr

The former Trump place at 21 Vista Drive is for sale. News coverage today about this property being for sale for $54 million. In fact, it spent the year 2009-2010 listed at $50 million,without success, and has been on the market at this price since last October. The market for waterfront property is certainly stronger today than it was then, so perhaps the sellers will get what they’re asking, but it would be nice if our local paper could distinguish between genuine news and press releases, at least occasionally.


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Here’s a surprise: Hollywood hates “American Sniper”

american sniper“Glorifies a psychopath who shot brown people”.  “They’re cowards, not heroes” Mr. Michael More intones, “and invaders R worse.”

The overwhelming success of the film must be driving them absolutely nuts out there.


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This doesn’t sound promising for Greenwich real estate

He stepped out for a minute

He stepped out for a minute

Wall Street cut 50,000 jobs last year.

Although some analysts were left stunned by the financial and job cuts, others believe there were a number of warning signs in advance, the New York Post reported.

These include lower trading and commodities revenues, currency risks and the lower trending of long-term interest rates, In the fourth quarter, thousands of bank employees were fired.

During 2014, a total of 20,000 workers lost their jobs at Brian Moynihan’s Bank of America, while a further 10,000 were cut at Michael Corbat’s Citigroup, formed from two companies in 1998.

….  Mr Mayo went so far as to say bank revenues appear to be the weakest in eight decades – and are only likely to worsen given the current economic climate.

‘I think there have been heavy potential and paper losses at this point,’ agreed Tim Quast, president of market analytics company, ModernIR, blaming the losses on plunging oil prices.

He added: ‘Clearly, nobody bet properly on oil. Nobody thought it was going to be below 50 a barrel.’

Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan have also seen declines in bond activity.



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Darwinism at work

Baby killers: Lim Carey and Jenny McCarthy lead the stupid brigade

Baby killers: Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy lead the stupid brigade

Study: childhood vaccinations lowest among the very poor and (in California) the most “educated”.

Five areas scattered across Northern California yielded the highest rates of undervaccination, including the East Bay, Sonoma and Napa, eastern Sacramento and northern San Francisco to southern Marin County. About 18 percent of children in those areas weren’t fully vaccinated at age 3, compared with 11 percent in nearby regions. In Vallejo, 23 percent of the children weren’t up-to-date on their shots.

The results weren’t consistent across socioeconomic and demographic groups. Partial immunization was seen more often in poor neighborhoods and in those where graduate degrees were most common. Asians, Hispanics and those in families with higher incomes were more likely to be fully immunized. Cost shouldn’t have been a problem in the study since everyone had insurance and Kaiser fully covers vaccinations, Lieu said.


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If a smart guy like Jim Rogers and a moron like myself can figure it out, what’s that say about the currency traders who got clobbered last week?

Oh, if only I'd chosen a brain, instead of a Rolex!

Oh, if only I’d chosen a brain, instead of a Rolex!

Jim Rogers: I warned you that the Swiss Central Bank’s protective scheme would end badly.

[T]he bank’s currency manipulation will turn out to be disastrous. One of two things is going to happen.

In the first scenario, the market will continue to buy Swiss francs, which means that the Swiss National Bank will just have to keep printing and printing and printing, and that will of course debase the currency.

… But people will stop rushing to put their money into a country where the value of the currency is deliberately being driven down….[I]f you debase the franc, eventually nobody will want it. You will have eroded its value, not simply as a medium of exchange, but also a monetary refuge. The money will move to Singapore or Hong Kong, and the Swiss finance industry will wither up and disappear.

The alternative scenario is what happened in July 2010, the last time the Swiss tried to weaken their currency. They did so by buying up foreign currencies to hold against the franc-selling the franc to keep the price down. But the market just kept buying the francs, and the Swiss central bank, after quadrupling its foreign currency holdings, abandoned the effort. At that point, when the bank stopped selling it, the Swiss franc rose in value, all the currencies the Swiss had bought (and were now holding) declined in value, and the country lost $21 billion. In the end, the market had more money than the bank, and market forces inevitably prevailed.

It happens.


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I’m not particularly sympathetic

We demand hot baths!

We demand hot baths!

British woman who joined ISIS now wants to return; not because she dislikes their practice of beheading, rape and torture, but because there’s a lack of hot water and indoor plumbing.

Shakil fled to Syria, to join ISIS militants, in secret after telling her family she was going on holiday to Spain.

However, she changed her mind about staying in the stronghold after a few days and desperately tried to flee.

She told The Sun: ‘I hated it. I tried to escape within a few days of getting there. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.

‘Life is so hard there. There’s no hot water, no electricity for hours on end, none of the comforts we are used to in Britain.

Boo hoo.


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Well gee, he let them score once

Gimme a chance!

Gimme a chance!

High school basketball coach suspended after his team beats opponent 162-2.

I’m not in favor of the so-called “mercy rule” for high school sports, but this guy does seem to have rubbed it in.


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