Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why We Need More Lobbyists

How many times have you clicked a box to add your name to one of those “Make the world a better place. Sign our petition now” email links? Congratulations. You are a lobbyist. Have you ever accepted one whose purpose was to eliminate lobbyists? Congratulations. You are confused.

It’s become fashionable to gripe about lobbying and lobbyists as somehow evil, corrupt, and “un-American”. Trolls and pundits want to storm the castle with torches and pitchforks, demanding their obliteration. Actually, there is nothing more American than a good, old-fashioned lobbyist. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tales Exaggerate Congressional Pay and Pensions

As long as I can remember, there has been a vague general rumbling that members of Congress collect exorbitant salaries and outrageous pensions and other benefits. The rumblings have changed form over the years, from idle gossip to organized viral email campaigns, but the substance remains. Despite efforts to spread the truth, many Americans still contend that members of Congress take home truckloads of money, don’t participate in Social Security, and get full pay for their lifetimes after serving only a single term in Congress. Sorry, folks, it just isn’t true.

Read More …

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What is the Constitution Anyway?

Our schools don’t teach this stuff.

The U.S. Constitution has been in the news more in recent years than at any time that I can remember. Many Republicans have been throwing temper tantrums about the Constitution. They screech and whine and holler that they just love it eversomuch, but they’re usually wrong about what it says.

Schools used to teach “Civics”, which concerns the rules by which our governments are organized and how they operate. Then the schools stopped teaching civics for a while; it just wasn’t fashionable. Now, some schools teach it and some don’t. When they do teach it, they do it very poorly. And today, America has two generations of citizens who have no idea how our own government works. But that doesn’t stop them all from hollering at each other.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, the U.S. Constitution, and American Ignorance

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. American teachers tell us that we created the holiday to give thanks for the Pilgrims’ relatively safe completion of their first year in the New World. There were some offerings of thanks in that regard, but official Thanksgiving celebrations made only sporadic appearances in history until Congress declared a national holiday to honor the Civil War dead, wounded, and families in 1863.

But the first federal Thanksgiving Day Proclamation wasn’t about Pilgrims, or a difficult winter, or a civil war. It was about government. In 1789 Congress asked President George Washington to proclaim a day of thanks for the United States Constitution. The Constitution was about sixteen months old when Washington issued his proclamation on October 3, 1789. America celebrated its first Thanksgiving Day as a nation on November 26.
Read More …

Monday, October 10, 2011

Obama to Visit Pittsburgh for American Jobs Act

I'll be covering President Obama's event at IBEW Local 5, Pittsburgh, for his American Jobs Act tomorrow in South Side. Watch my column for the story.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

TV’s Latest Trend Offends All of Us

Women worked hard to build our “place” in the world. We made progress, until now. Mad Men, Pan Am, and The Playboy Club drag us backward to the juvenile behaviors of their period. This junk was bad enough 50 years ago. It’s worse now. Teach your children.

Read More …

Monday, October 3, 2011

Voter Registration Deadline is Tuesday, October 11

Local elections don’t carry nearly as much drama as federal and state contests, but are no less important. Be sure you’re registered to vote by October 11. Learn where and how here.

Read More …

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pittsburgh Unity Fair Offers Help for All Working Families

Unemployment is a community problem. Are you out of work, facing a lay-off, or under-employed? Do you know someone who is? The Pennsylvania Wants to Work! Resource, Jobs and Unity Fair can connect you with information, help, and support.

Read More . . . . http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8874419/pittsburgh_unity_fair_offers_help_for.html?cat=31

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

President Obama’s American Jobs Act

Congress is now sitting on President Obama’s American Jobs Act. It emphasizes infrastructure improvements and tax cuts. Given the politics, it will not move quickly. Congress just isn’t interested because it affects your life, not theirs.

Read More … http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8689657/president_obamas_american_jobs_act.html?cat=3

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weekly News Roundup September 9

Check out these interesting articles on kids and technology!

 Back-to-school advice for parents of special needs kids (mommyish.com)

 The top 10 most influential kid bloggers (babble.com)

 Pittsburgh's A+ Schools program seeks volunteers for confidential teacher talks (post-gazette.com)

 Father and son curated blog "The Kid Should See This" shares off-the-grid videos to educate and entertain children (thekidshouldseethis.com)

  The top 5 real-life skills students need to be taught today (edweek.org)

 LeapFrog creates its own "iPad" (usatoday.com)

 Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF goes digital with online costume party (marketwatch.com)


For more information,visit the Spark blog!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Republicans Want to Steal Your Vote

Lyndon Johnson said voting is: "…the basic right without which all others are meaningless.” He signed the Voting Rights Act as president in 1965. Today, the Republican Party and other Koch brothers’ stooges want to strip you of your right to vote.

Read More … http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8374989/republicans_want_to_steal_your_vote.html

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Join Your Friends and Neighbors in the Labor Day Parade

Monday September 5, Labor Day parade, downtown. Gather 8:30. Parade 10:00. Unions honor all workers-union and nonunion-especially now when corporate and political thugs attack U.S. workers like never before. Watch Out America! They’re Coming For You Next.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekly News Roundup August 26

Check out these interesting articles on kids and technology!

E-readers: technology that works for developing countries (readwriteweb.com)

What do today's tech-savvy kids need to be taught about computers? (theatlantic.com)

Missouri teachers protest 'Facebook Law' meant to protect students from sexual predators (abcnews.go.com)

Comcast to offer $10 internet service to disadvantaged students (mashable.com)

Open University research says there's no such thing as a 'digital native' (agent4change.net)

5 ways to use Twitter in the classroom (hp.com)

"20th Century Students" video highlights the changing face of education (schooltube.com)


For the latest updates on kids and technology, check out the Spark blog!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 4C’s Help Children Go Above and Beyond

We've all heard of the the 3R's-- Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. The 3R's are easy to name because they're traditionally thought of as the fundamental areas of elementary learning. Try to name the 4C's, and you might have more trouble. Yet incorporating these skills: Communication, Collaboration, Critical thinking and Creativity, into elementary education might just be the key to creating students who can flourish in the 21st Century.


Head over to the Spark blog, to watch the short animated film Above and Beyond. Produced through a partnership with P21 and FableVision, Above and Beyond tells the story of what can happen with the 3R's and 4C's are integrated into one holistic approach to education.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Why Congress Can’t Get Anything Done

And What You Can Do About It

America needs serious adults, working together, to solve our problems. Most members of Congress care more about pleasing their big bucks corporate campaign donors than in doing the job that we hired them to do. Corporations don’t vote. Real people vote.

Read More … http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8314961/why_congress_cant_get_anything_done.html?cat=9

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who Should Provide Social Services?

Who would gut social services just when we need them the most? During the debt “negotiations”, republithugs demanded social service cuts. President Neville Chamberlain appeased them AGAIN. Should government or private agencies provide those services?

Read More …  http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8300253/who_should_provide_social_services.html?cat=48

Weekly News Roundup August 5th

Check out these interesting articles on kids and technology!

7 obscure children’s books by authors of grown-up literature (brainpickings.org)

McDonalds recruits Mom bloggers to smooth over healthy Happy Meal rollout (cnn.com)

Toys R Us to carry Kindle (reuters.com)

16 Must-have apps for a healthy pregnancy (parents.com)

Cell phone use doesn't alter kids' cancer risk: study (reuters.com)

Nintendo says 3DS is not for kids (mnn.com)

Social media game aims to end extremism (bbc.co.uk)



For more news on kids and technology, visit the Spark blog!


Friday, August 5, 2011

yes-it's ME

i'm still around. anyway, just wanted you all to know that. i've been writing my regular blog and working on my poems plus been doing a weekly opinion column at  worldwidehippies.com 

still crazy after all these years!

oh, and i had my very 1st. bison burger for lunch today-nothing ventured-nothing gained and i am a brave little burgh woman- it rocked- terrific! went to burgatory at the water works. 1st. time there too!

celebrating the steelers getting ready to PLAY!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


‎"Corporations making lots of profit does not equal 'jobs', it turns out. It just equals...'lots of corporate profit'."

~Rachel Maddow

Skype game gets kids excited about geography

For teachers looking to inject some excitement into their geography lesson, Skype might be the answer. Silvia Tolisano recently created a game she calls "Mystery Skype Call" that uses the video conferencing tool and some critical thinking to teach students geography in a new and exciting way. The game is like a high-tech version of 20 questions that pits two classrooms from across the country against each other in a race to pin-point each other's destinations.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Children’s Book for iPad Teaches Acceptance

At first glance, Pop It seems no different from the many other interactive children's books "popping up" on the market for the iPad. But give the screen a shake and you'll begin to see the bigger picture.

The book features a child going through normal daily activities with his parents. By shaking the iPad, these parents can be changed from a homosexual couple, to a lesbian couple, to a heterosexual couple.
“It’s a metaphor for shaking from one perspective to another,” said artist and author Raghava KK in an interview with Mashable. “The relationship between parent and child does not change if they have two moms, two dads. I’m challenging the concept of family.”

Raghava hopes to use the concept to teach children to be open-minded about a variety of issues, including racial and ethnic biases. Eventually, he would like the project to be open-source and to allow users to create interpretations that address different biases that they deal with in their everyday lives.

Continue reading this story on the Spark blog...


Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekly News Roundup July 29th

Check out these interesting articles on kids and technology!

--- Slideshow presents the evolution of kid's computers (computerworlduk.com)

--- 5 reasons why the iPad was made to keep parents sane (cnn.com)

--- 10-year-old releases iPhone game with help from Make-a-Wish (geekwire.com)

--- The Netflix of baby clothes (plumgear.com)

--- Survey proves kids would rather be outside (guardian.co.uk)

--- Justin Bieber says, 'Don't text and drive' (mnn.com)

Read more news on kids and technology on the Spark blog...


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brentwood Officials Are Still Covering Up Police Crimes

Brentwood cops are out of control. Borough council lets them get away with it. Terroristic threats, harassment, intimidation, and conspiracy when they think there are no witnesses. Brentwood needs to control its cops before someone gets killed.  AGAIN.

Read More … http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8269573/brentwood_officials_are_still_covering.html?cat=17

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back to School Shopping - Putting Last Year's Backpacks to Good Use

The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project has an interesting idea as your family launches into back-to-school shopping this month and next.

They are collecting gently used backpacks, both for children and adults, which will be distributed to food pantries so families can more easily carry their groceries home. These along with the tote bags also distributed also provide the family with reusable bags for other purposes (including school if that's appropriate).

The project collaborates with a dozen local organizations including Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, East End Food Co-Op, Construction Junction and more to collect excess new and gently used tote bags for redistribution to the region's food pantries. The project has nearly a dozen permanent drop-off spots and partners with varius groups and companies to organize tote bag drives.

So why kids' backpacks?

I remember being a child and walking with my mum to the grocery store to pick up items. She didn't drive, so we walked. My Dad drove us for the big shopping on payday, but he worked. A lot. So it was often my young brother and I helping for those "in-between" trips.

We hated it. The walk was about a mile each way. My mother kept a brisk pace, a tight list and was typically not given to buying us a treat (this was the 70s and 80s and we were a steelworking family on a budget). And we had to carry stuff. This was in the era of paper bags so you couldn't drape it from your wrist. It was a bag in each arm and keep up the pace. The worst was our ongoing battle over who had to carry the gallon jug of 2% milk. It was cold, uncomfortable and usually wet from condensation. Ugggg.

Equally ugggg would have been letting my Mum carry everything herself. Not that she gave us that option, but still I knew it wasn't fun for her to do this. Now I do want to mention that my parents did utilize food pantries when my Dad was laid off. But they never took us. I am sure it was a matter of pride.

Then there was the unload from the "big" grocery shopping trips on payday. Usually, we had to go along to help (again, ugggg). But we definitely needed to be front and center to unload and put away 18 thousand bags of groceries (at least it seemed that way). I would have gladly abdicated that job, but my Mum's theory was that if wanted to eat, we had to participate.

No one used reusable bags in those days. At least, not in the Mon Valley.

I digress to my lifelong aversion to the gallon jug of 2% milk to put our next request into context ...

You can see where an adult sized backpack can help an adult sized family member transport grocery items very efficiently. We want to have bags on hand to help the kid sized family members be able to help should that be necessary/desired.

And, frankly, it is a very practical use for the leftover bags. I don't like the idea of anyone, much less a child, having to struggle with a thin plastic bag filled with whatever item they are responsible to transport.

Make it more impactful for your kids. Explain the reason you are donating the bags and offer them a chance to donate grocery items that might fit into the backpack. For example, if a PTA filled bags with 18 ounce jars of peanut butter, canned fruit and any type of juice ... perfect! You can take your children along to the drop-off spot to contribute the items directly. Or we can work with you to set up an informal drive and make arrangements for the kids to see the Food Bank if you prefer.

We anticipate collecting our 1500th reusable bag by Saturday. That translates into 750 households served, 4500 disposable bags kept out of use and an unknown amount of pantry money freed up to spend on food instead of bags.

You can help us push onward. For more information about the project, including a complete list of drop-off spots please visit http://www.tote4pgh.org/

Monday, July 25, 2011

Girls Take Top Prize at Google Science Fair

Although women make up nearly half of the world population, their presence in the sciences constitutes a vastly smaller percentage. Today, only twelve percent of engineers are female. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM for short) are all fields in which women are under-represented. This is precisely why this year’s Google Science Fair results are so exciting–all three top prizes were awarded to women.

The winning projects put the classic baking soda volcano to shame. Lauren Hodge, winner of the 13-14 age group, tested a variety of marinades and their effects on the carcinogens typically found in grilled chicken. Her findings showed that lemon juice and brown sugar sharply decreased carcinogen levels, while soy sauce actually increased them.

Naomi Shah, winner of the 15-16 age group, performed a study of 103 adult subjects where she was able to link the increase in two environmental pollutants to decreased lung function and asthma symptoms.

The grand prize was awarded to the winner of the 17-18 age group,Shree Bose of Fort Worth, Texas. Bose’s project focused on the chemotherapy drug cisplatin that is commonly taken by women with ovarian cancer. Bose discovered a protein known as AMPK that, when paired with the drug, stops cancer cells from becoming resistant to its effects. Bose shared her feelings in an interview with ABC:

“That perception that women can’t compete in science has been ingrained in this field for so long. It just shows that our world is changing and women are stepping forward in science, and I’m excited to be a small part of that.”

Read more on the Spark blog...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weekly News Roundup July 22

Check out these interesting articles on kids and technology!

Parents will enjoy these iPhone and iPad apps (Parents.com)

Mom’s Facebook Community Helps Diagnose Her Ailing Son (Mommyish.com)

New regulations for food, beverage advertising toward children (Healthkey.com)

Using touch screens and apps to treat autism (mercurynews.com)

The Internet Is Making Your Kids Think Differently, Not Less (Mommyish.com)

Teaching Angry Birds In School (neatorama.com)

Infographic Shows Top and Bottom States for Science Education (livescience.com)

For the latest on kids and technology, visit the Spark blog!