community Service means Business!
3 April 2010
- On the American continent, only Costa Rica, Venezuela, Chile and Uruguay are visible.
- The entire continents of Africa and Asia have disappeared beneath the waves – the latter with the notable exception of Israel.
- Europe is the main no-spanking continent, with the practice outlawed both in schools and by parents in Spain and Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, the Scandinavian quintet (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland), Ukraine, and a remarkably large Balkan delegation: Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. Bonus: Cyprus (it’s unclear whether this is only the internationally recognised Greek half of the island, or includes the Turkish north).
- Adrift in the South Pacific, beyond a sunken Australia, New Zealand looks even more forlorn than usual.
(1) among adults; children are almost universally against. Two presidential opinions weighing in on the matter: “Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!” (Theodore Roosevelt); ”You do not lead by hitting people over the head-that’s assault, not leadership.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
(2) corporal punishment in schools is illegal in almost all European countries (and almost never practised in the few remaining others). In the US and Australia, it is illegal in some states, but remains legal (if generally rather rare) in others. It is also illegal in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, but also in less ‘liberal’ regimes such as North Korea and China. It remains legal in large parts of Africa and Asia.
(3) submersion as a method of dramatising cartographic information is a popular, if controversial method. Previous examples posted in this blog include Wallonie-sur-Mer (#176) and Palestine’s Island Paradise (#270).
The chances of a high school student eventually becoming first violin for the Boston Philharmonic: one in a million.
The chances of a high school student eventually playing basketball in the NBA? About the same.
In fact, the chances of someone growing up and getting a job precisely like yours, whatever it is, are similarly slim. (Head of development at an ad agency, director of admissions for a great college... you get the idea). Every good gig is a long shot, but in the end, a lot of talented people get good gigs. The odds of being happy and productive and well compensated aren't one in a million at all, because there are many good gigs down the road. The odds are only slim if you pick precisely one job.
Here's the lesson: the ardent or insane pursuit of a particular goal is a good idea if the steps you take along the way also prep you for other outcomes, each almost as good (or better). If pushing through the Dip and bending the market to your will and shipping on time and doing important and scary work are all things you need to develop along the way, then it doesn't really matter so much if you don't make the goal you set out to reach.
On the other hand, if you live a life of privation and spend serious time and money on a dead end path with only one outcome, you've described a path likely to leave you broken and bitter. Does spending your teenage years (and your twenties) in a room practicing the violin teach you anything about being a violin teacher or a concert promoter or some other job associated with music? If your happiness depends on your draft pick or a single audition, that's giving way too much power to someone else.
1 April 2010
Shelter closure sends 200 homeless back to the streets
Future options weighed as winter shelter closes
By Craig Gustafson, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 9:47 p.m.
Johnny Villar headed back out as the city of San Diego's winter shelter for the homeless closed Wednesday. Since it opened Nov. 25, more than 800 people were given shelter for various lengths of time, according to Bob McElroy of the Alpha Project for the homeless.
Hans Steinmetz said goodbye to Alpha Project staff member Melisha Fisher yesterday morning before leaving the city’s temporary winter shelter in downtown San Diego’s East Village. Steinmetz plans to return to Germany.
More than 200 homeless people reverted to the streets Wednesday night after the city closed its temporary winter shelter earlier in the day. MORE
30 March 2010
This weekend I participated in the "Reclaim and Revitalize South Side Park" event. Lots of trash was collected and many trees were saved from the grasp of strangling vines. In addition to neighborhood members, we were lucky enough to have about 100 volunteers from Carnegie Mellon University helping out in the park crusade.At the wrap-up, the students volunteered what they learned from the experience of getting out into the city park. One young woman popped up this doozie: "From cleaning up blankets and mattresses, I learned where homeless people actually sleep."I personally view it as a failure of her upbringing that this was the first time she was exposed to some of America's underbelly, our unfortunate members of society who are too often swept under the rug and ignored.However, maybe I had a harsh upbringing. Do you know where the homeless people sleep in your neighborhood? If you open your eyes, you see signs of homelessness throughout Pittsburgh (and most cities in the country) from the beggars in the streets to the blankets and newspapers hidden in various cubbyholes and parks. That knowledge is just as valuable as any class you can take at Carnegie Mellon.If you want a first-hand experience of how homeless people sleep, check out the annual "Sleep-in For the Homeless" where dozens of people camp out on the steps of the City-County Building downtown with nothing but a sleeping bag to raise awareness of and funds for Allegheny County's homeless population. As of January 2009, Allegheny County counted 1,418 homeless "residents." 17% of them had been in the military service. 14% were victims of domestic violence. 18% of them reported serious mental illnesses. 23% of them were children.Raising awareness and funds is the only way these numbers will decrease.
It may seem like a tiny shift, but it’s enough to change thousands of lives. Wisconsin lawmakers are seeking to reverse a 1996 law that dropped the age of criminal responsibility by one year, from 18 to 17.
Since that law passed in 1996, 17-year-olds in the state have been tried and sentenced in adult court, and sent to adult prisons. Wisconsin is one of 13 states that automatically tosses 17-year-olds into the adult system. Looking back, one legislator says “it was a huge mistake, and I think everybody realizes that."
Not everybody, though. One paper, the Northwestern, points out that the bill may not move in this session, and says that might be a good thing.
According to the paper, supporters of the bill "rely on an emotional argument rather than presenting any quantifiable data on the long-term detriment to 17-year-olds who go through adult court." Nor, it says, do they "acknowledge how treating 17-year-olds as adults can be a deterrent to crime."
But the paper may have missed this report from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and this one from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. It shows that 17-year-olds are usually charged with minor crimes, and their recidivism rate in 2002 was an order of magnitude higher than both younger teenagers and adults. Something clearly isn't working here.
Since adolescents develop at their own pace, it’s difficult to draw a line at the 17th or 18th birthday and say folks older than that are more responsible for their actions. Even under the change, however, 17-year-olds would be eligible for adult court, it just wouldn't be automatic. Age limits are like mandatory minimums -- it’s important that we don’t set a policy that locks judges and juries into handing down outsized punishments.
Most 17-year-olds sent to adult prison in Wisconsin are there for possession of marijuana, or a high school fight, or having sex with a partner one or two years younger -- and judges, policy advocates and juvenile justice reforms say reversing the law could have a big impact. The bill is a smart policy change that would show that the state is willing to admit mistakes in its criminal justice system -- a move toward individual handling of cases is almost always the right way to go.
And while any change probably wouldn’t be retroactive, there’s a chance that a prisoner convicted at 17 could lean on a new law on appeal or in requesting parole.
Juvenile courts and detention facilities, when run properly, can actually make a big difference in kids' lives -- offering much-needed education and services and helping young people put mistakes behind them as they begin build their adult lives. Wisconsin lawmakers are on the right track with this proposal, and we'll keep an eye on it as it moves forward.
Photo Credit: Horia Varlan
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