community Service means Business!

26 January 2008

to be or not.

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
-- "Maxims for Revolutionists: Reason", Man and Superman. 1903

...society, with all its prisons and bayonets and whips and ostracisms and starvations, is powerless in the face of the Anarchist who is prepared to sacrifice his own life in the battle with it. Our natural safety from the cheap and devastating explosives which every Russian student can make, and every Russian grenadier has learnt to handle in Manchuria, lies in the fact that brave and resolute men, when they are rascals, will not risk their skins for the good of humanity, and, when they are sympathetic enough to care for humanity, abhor murder, and never commit it until their consciences are outraged beyond endurance. The remedy is, then, simply not to outrage their consciences.
-- Preface, Major Barbara. 1905

...George Bernard Shaw

Angry Red Planet - Solve the Mystery!
(this is an excellent and safe on-line 'game' for all..jim)
is one of a series of online science mysteries created for Access Excellence, a national science and health education program.
Through Access Excellence, high school biology and life sciences teachers gain access to colleagues, scientists, and critical sources
of new scientific information via the World Wide Web...MORE

Factoids Archive


Two-thirds of cancer deaths can be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices. The American Cancer Society suggests seven choices:

Cut out tobacco
Hold the fat
Opt for high-fiber fruits, vegetables and grains.
Intake of alcohol: only in moderation.
Call your doctor for regular checkups
Exercise every day
Safeguard your skin from the sun.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society

Find Your Passion
There’s a big myth in our culture: that passion can only be spontaneous. You either love your job or you don’t. You either enjoy exercising or hate it. You are interested in reading books or you find them boring. That passion can’t be forced or created.
I disagree. Passion can be created. Even for things you don’t currently enjoy.
By tweaking the activities and pursuits you engage in, you can find a passion for anything. All it takes is a bit of patience and an open mind.
The benefit is that you end up loving the things you have to do anyways. Exercising, learning, studying, working and almost any pursuit can be made into a passion. And if you know how to do it, existing passions can be turned from mildly interesting to exciting. The skill of finding your passion is like turning up the dial for the amount of color you experience in life.Here are some ways to find your passion:...MORE

At Elite Prep Schools, College-Size Endowments - New York Times
At Elite Prep Schools, College-Size Endowments - New York Times

Published: January 26, 2008

When Curtis Thomas, a 14-year-old from a poor family living in St. Rose, La., arrived here two years ago to attend Phillips Exeter Academy, he brought little more than a pair of jeans and two shirts. That would hardly do at a 227-year-old prep school where ties are still required for boys in class.

So Curtis’s history teacher, armed with Exeter funds, took him shopping for a new wardrobe.

That outlay was just a tiny fraction of what Exeter spends on its students. With its small classes, computers for students receiving financial aid, lavish sports facilities and more, Exeter devotes an average of $63,500 annually to house and educate each of its 1,000 students. That is far more than the Thomas family could ever afford and well above even the $36,500 in tuition, room and board Exeter charges those paying full price...MORE

25 January 2008

A message from Skitch

Created with Skitch from plasq -

New Black Man: Saggin' on the Down Low?

The Bryant Park Project
October 26, 2007

A new campaign by the city of Dallas targets the hip-hop style of wearing your pants low enough that your boxers are showin — and part of your posterior, too.

The campaign has a signature song, "Pull Your Pants Up," by Dooney Da' Priest, that links so-called saggin' with being gay. 
After the BPP blogged NPR's original report on the public service announcement, listeners objected to lyrics they consider homophobic...MORE

village voice > news > Nat Hentoff: Is Obama's Constitution Strong Enough? by Nat Hentoff,hentoff,78935,6.html

Is Obama's Constitution Strong Enough?
by Nat Hentoff
January 22nd, 2008 6:21 PM

He stirs the crowds, but when will he tell them about their lost liberties? ...MORE

24 January 2008

Veto of Children’s Health Plan Stands - New York Times

Veto of Children's Health Plan Stands


Published: January 23, 2008
WASHINGTON — Democrats cited the nation's economic problems as a reason to expand a popular health insurance program for children on Wednesday, but their effort failed as the House sustained President Bush's veto of a bill to provide coverage to nearly four million more uninsured children.

The vote for the bill was 260 to 152. Supporters were 15 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the measure over the president's objections....More

23 January 2008

A House Divided: Investment or Shelter?

A House Divided: Investment or Shelter?
Published:    January 23, 2008
Author:    Nicolas P. Retsinas

Dictionaries are not static. Some words go unused for so long that lexicographers dub them archaic. Definitions also gravitate to that catch-bin.

The plummeting housing market has forced a reevaluation, not just of the financial value of a home, but of its meaning. Once just a place for a family to live and take root, the home in recent times has been elevated to Investment Opportunity, a place where you stayed for awhile, made a lot of money, then moved on to the next home-investment.

Is the definition of home about to change once again?

Family sanctuary

When immigrants crowded into this country, they yearned for shelter, a sanctuary in a new land. That shelter could be a tenement, a farmstead, a ramshackle cottage. For families, home had a connotation of safety and stability.

Banks did not lend with 30-year amortizing mortgages, but with 5-year loans and a balloon payment at the term's end. A family needed to amass a 50 percent down payment; few Americans could. So homeownership was neither a plausible individual aspiration nor a policy prescription. The word home had no investment connotations.

The ultrarich owned mansions, but home does not describe those sumptuous resting places on peripatetic journeys: People summered in Newport, wintered in Manhattan, or toured Europe, moor-less, for years. If you had asked an Edith Wharton matron where home was, she would have asked what you meant.

Home as anchor

When the federal government introduced long-term mortgages, people could finally afford to buy their domiciles. The definition of home shifted. A home became an anchor, a stake in the community. Veterans from World War II seized upon the FHA and VA mortgages to sink roots into the middle class; one hallmark of middle-class success was owning a home. The Levittowns and their ilk sprung up. For a machinist at an automobile plant, the American dream was to own a 3-bedroom expandable Cape Cod cottage.

The anchor was construed as just that—an anchor. The home was more a place to live than the linchpin of an investment strategy. Economists praised homeownership as "forced savings": People might eventually pay off their 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, celebrating with neighbors at mortgage-burning parties.

Owners hoped to be upwardly mobile, to get promotions, to find higher-paying jobs. But the house itself was not the catalyst for the increase in wealth. People did move—the starter house (a term now listed as archaic) came first. After a new child, or a promotion, some fortunate families moved to larger homes, often in better neighborhoods. Others expanded a dormer or converted a breezeway. But most home-owning families stayed put, expecting to age in their homes.

This experience was not unique to America. In most of the world, homeownership still carries that expectation of rootedness. Home also represented an asset, but an asset that was illiquid and that was not expected to reap mega-returns. Indeed, many homeowners, coping with repairs, renovations, and taxes, saw their homes as money-pits.

Home as investment

Over the past decade, home became an exciting investment, more a place to buy and sell than to live in. Americans who lacked the prescience to pick up shares in Google or Amazon could buy a house, thereby netting double-digit returns on their investment. People who bought homes expected to sell them at a huge profit. Some owners converted their homes into ATM machines, borrowing against ever-rising equity.

Mortgage products evolved to let everybody, even people with shaky credit and no savings, sign on the dotted line. Some people made their living by buying and selling homes. "Flipper" entered the lexicon. Home might or might not be where the heart is—but home was clearly where the money was.

But 2007 reminded us that this economic juggernaut carries risk. Investors know that the price of all assets rise and fall. In much of the country, home prices are falling.

Soon the dictionary, under home, may shelve "investment" as archaic, reflecting a period of inflated values, easy credit, and wild expectations of profit. The standard usage definition will hark back to the older one: an anchor in a community where a family can live, work, and play.

Future generations may wonder why Americans for a brief stint redefined home into an ultra-profitable financial investment. That frenzy made many people wealthy, but left many others adrift.

About the author
Nicolas P. Retsinas is a lecturer of business administration at Harvard Business School and director of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

CALL FOR PAPERS: THE HUMAN CONDITION SERIES: 2nd Annual International Multidisciplinary Conference: May 2-3, 2008, Laurentian University @ Georgian College, Ontario, Canada,

2nd Annual International Multidisciplinary Conference on:
TERROR,May 2-3, 2008,
Laurentian University @ Georgian College, Ontario, Canada,

Please send a 250-300 word abstract or proposal as an email attachment (MS Word Format) to


For more details about the conference go to: or

Description of the Series and Conference Theme


"Terror becomes total when it becomes independent of all opposition:
It rules supreme when nobody any longer stands in its way."
-Hannah Arendt

This conference is part of a larger series of ongoing, international, multidisciplinary conferences--run under the banner of The Human Condition Series--that brings together people from a variety of disciplines to assess a singular topic from artistic, cinematic, literary, ethical, social, political, philosophical, psychological and religious perspectives. We encourage you to share innovative ideas and new ways of thinking and acting. Proposals will be considered on any related theme and we especially welcome papers, reports, works-in-progress, workshops and sessions. This year's theme is Terror.

The concept of Terror is often found safely hidden and un-thought in diverse cultural, philosophical, and religious traditions and ways of life. One can see these safe havens extending from the divine mythologies of religious experience to the seemingly opposed rationalized life of contemporary high-tech societies. With respect to religious experience, it is clear that we have to seriously reconsider the dynamics of organized religion in the face of rising religious fundamentalisms and terrorist activity.

But terror in the highly rationalized world of technological societies can also impose its existing logic as a way of maintaining the order of things. We give it various positive names that conceal its potency and negative effects. At precise moments in history, terror's potency has appeared in benign terms such as "child welfare," "residential schools," the "founding nation," the "developed world," the "hysterical woman," the "mentally ill," the "social and sexual deviant," the "immigrant problem," the "disposable income," and the "democratic liberation of other peoples."

It is the absurd rationalizations of these terms in the face of concrete realities that covers over terror's effects and keeps it intact. This conference will investigate what role Terror has in maintaining the contemporary condition of humanity--and what hope there is of envisioning a condition in which Terror is natural and organic rather than strategic and imposed.


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