March 2011 archive

The Fix We’re in For: Bridges and our Infrastructure

Yesterday I put up a post about a report that was to be released today, the report is now public and it isn’t a pretty picture as noted by those who put it together.

And this report is only on the Bridges around this Country and broken down by States.

This is well known by many, especially us who work in the construction industry and understand what is built needs constant maintenance, even our military understands that with preventive maintenance programs

This has been ignored for way too long. With tens of thousands of construction workers laid off or on spotty contract jobs wondering what’s next. Thousand of contractors scrapping the bottom trying to inject projects. Engineers and architects, along with other construction white collar personal doing likewise, out of work or just hanging on.

Here’s the report:  

How Naomi Klein can help save the world

What follows is an email I sent to Naomi Klein, today, requesting permission to freely reproduce “The Shock Doctrine”. In a nutshell, teachers could distribute a serialized version to students after school, from the the comfort of a public sidewalk where they have First Amendment rights. They would do this, hopefully, not just out of concern for their own livelihoods, but for a broader concern for stimulating deep reform in the US.


A School in a Quandary

By RICHARD WEIZEL, The New York Times

Published: September 01, 1996

Going to Stratfield, it was thought by many, was a way to prepare one’s child for the Ivy League.

That was all before a cheating scandal at Stratfield was revealed in April by the school superintendent, Carol Harrington.

On both exams there were significantly higher erasure rates than at other schools, and on both tests 89 percent of erasures at Stratfield had been changed to correct answers.

“At first nobody at the school, actually no one in the school system, wanted to believe that this had happened, particularly at such a wonderful and prestigious school that has received so much positive attention in recent years,” said Ms. Harrington, who was harshly criticized at the time by Stratfield School parents for revealing the news to the media before the school year’s ending, and before they had been informed.

“There was a lot of denial and people wanted to blame the messenger, but now I think most people accept that there was tampering and want to get to the bottom of it,” said Ms. Harrington.

(A)fter carefully reviewing the test results, which had up to five times the number of erasures of the other schools’ exams, officials at Houghlin-Miflin, the parent company of the Iowa Test, concluded otherwise, saying their review “clearly and conclusively indicate tampering.”

And when Stratfield’s third graders were retested in March, as requested by the school board, they fell below two other town schools. On the first test, the school’s third graders scored higher than 89 percent of students nationwide on vocabulary and reading comprehension. But on the monitored retests, their scores dropped to 80 percent on vocabulary and 79 percent for reading.

The school’s 512 pupils, 22 teachers and its long-beloved but now beleaguered principal started a new school year last week amid several investigations, in addition to one already completed by the forensic expert Dr. Henry C. Lee, who most recently gained prominence for his work on the O. J. Simpson case.

Dr. Lee’s findings, which were released in early July, did not resolve the mystery. He concluded only that there was no evidence of chemical erasures and that the erasures were made by one or more persons. He also concluded that some of the tests had different patterns of pencil strokes and others had more consistent style patterns.

What was in fact happening you see is that teachers and administrators go through test sheets to ‘clean up erroneous marks that might effect proper scoring’.

And at Stratfield Elementary School in Fairfield Connecticut, one of the highest rated and most prestigeous in the United States, at the behest of and under the direction of their Principal- Roger Previs, these people were changing student answers so the school would itself test higher.

Now in my Connecticut School District we called cribbing answers from a cheat sheet, well…


So what do you call what Fenty, Duncan, Obama, Third Way “Democrat”, Charter School loving Michelle Rhee did?

Test Gains at Michelle Rhee’s Favorite School Possibly Fabricated

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Monday March 28, 2011 8:00 am

This doesn’t fully prove a case of fraud at the Noyes School: as Kevin Drum noted, perhaps students at Noyes were taught to look over their answers before completing the test. But he adds, “the pattern here sure seems to follow a pattern we’ve seen in other school districts that have reported startling test gains and later had to recant them for one reason or another.”

I think it’s important that this is part of Michelle Rhee’s legacy, while I’m not necessarily holding her responsible. She put a premium on success at DC schools, and that pressure can lead to some dastardly things. Moreover, if the Noyes School is found to have cheated on standardized tests, it invalidates a lot of the results Rhee held up as a model in how to best teach students.

And I will point out that this is exactly the excuse offered by Roger Previs and proven false by Dr. Henry Lee.

Correcting your own answers as a test strategy doesn’t result in conclusive findings by forensic handwriting analysts that erasures and new answers were made by two different people.  Has something changed since I took the SAT and you’re now allowed to pass your paper to your neighbor because you have writer’s cramp and carpal tunnel?

Barry “Suck-Up” Obama’s New Daddy

Will you be my daddy
“Will you be my daddy?”

General Electric, where the chairman of Obama’s “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness” Jeffrey Immelt is CEO, PAID ZERO TAXES ON ITS $14.5 BILLION PROFIT last year, and now they want a $3.2 billion tax rebate!

And in January, Barry “Suck-Up” Obama praised Immelt as a business leader who “understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.”

What it takes, evidently, is shifting profit and jobs abroad: Only one out of three GE workers is now based in the U.S., and almost two-thirds of the company’s profit is sheltered in its foreign operations.

Japan to scrap stricken nuclear reactors…

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) made the announcement three weeks after failing to bring reactors 1 – 4 under control. Locals would be consulted on reactors 5 and 6, which were shut down safely.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

A Better Way to Serve Eggs


If you avoid eggs because you think they’re bad for you, you should reconsider. It was never clear that dietary cholesterol had a significant impact on heart health; saturated fat in the diet is thought to be a bigger culprit (how big is also a matter of dispute these days). The government’s new dietary guidelines acknowledge as much, advising that eating an egg every day will not affect blood cholesterol or cardiovascular health.

Onion and Thyme Frittata

Frittata With Grated Zucchini, Goat Cheese and Dill

Ricotta and Spinach Frittata With Mint

Carrot and Leek Frittata With Tarragon

Spinach and Red Pepper Frittata

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

Do the common thing in an uncommon way.

–Booker T. Washington


“I say that with absolutely no conviction.”

Real estate agent Steve Thoele is “curious” about the continuing decline in housing prices:

“You do kind of wonder where the bottom is,” said Mr. Thoele. “Sellers know in the back of their mind that their home is worth less than at the peak, but they’re still a little surprised when you tell them their $400,000 house is now worth $300,000.”

I kind of wonder, too.  Uh-huh.  If only there were data on home prices spanning back, say, a hundred years or so, that might indicate a somewhat stable historical mean house price.  Oh, wait a minizzle…what’s this?


This graph of the Case-Shiller index over the past hunnert-twenty years, or so, (last updated to 2010) shows that homes began outrageously over-shooting their historical value starting in about 1996-97.  The plot thickens.  It was a dark and stormy night.  A shot rang out!  Where could that housing bottom (and those weapons of mass destruction) possibly be?

Late Night Karaoke


Scientists find waves are getting bigger

A China Syndrome?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette


The term “China Syndrome” refers to a possible result of a catastrophic meltdown of a nuclear reactor. Also called a loss of coolant accident, the scenario begins when something causes the coolant level in a reactor vessel to drop, uncovering part-or all-of the fuel element assemblies. Even if the nuclear chain reaction has been stopped through use of control rods or other devices, the fuel continues to produce significant residual heat for a number of days due to further decay of fission products. If not properly cooled, the fuel assemblies may soften and melt, falling to the bottom of the reactor vessel. There, without neutron-absorbing control rods to prevent it, nuclear fission could resume but, in the absence of a neutron moderator, might not. Regardless, without adequate cooling, the temperature of the molten fuel could increase to the point where it melts through the structures containing it. Although many feel the radioactive slag would stop at or before the the underlying soil, such a series of events could release radioactive material into the atmosphere and ground, potentially causing damage to the local environment’s plant and animal life.

Some have less than seriously called this- ‘burning a hole all the way to China’ hence the name, but in fact it would probably go no farther than the mantle which is already kind of molten and radioactive or at worst the core of the Earth which is considerably molten and radioactive.  Even in the absence of drag the Second Law of Thermodynamics would mitigate against it fully overcoming the force of Gravity and emerging on the other side, though you might want to buy some thick soled boots to be sure.

Of course they’re quite serious about that “release radioactive material into the atmosphere and ground, potentially causing damage to the local environment’s plant and animal life” thing.

Compare the above description with this-

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

Ian Sample, science correspondent,

Tuesday 29 March 2011 16.53 BST

Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel – but ‘no danger of Chernobyl-style catastrophe’

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel “lower head” of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Lahey said.

“The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell,” Lahey said. “I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards.”

And about that radiation thing-

Radiation from Japan found in Concord snow

By DAVID BROOKS, Staff Writer, Nashua Telegraph

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Radiation from the Japanese nuclear power plant leak has been found in snow in Concord at levels roughly similar to that found last week in Massachusetts rainwater – a level that officials say is 25 times below the level of concern even if found in water that people drink.

(h/t John Aravosis @ Americablog)

from firefly-dreaming 29.3.11

Essays Featured Tuesday the 29th of March:

Late Night Karaoke looks Behind Blue Eyes, mishima DJs

Six Brilliant Articles! from Six Different Places!! on Six Different Topics!!!

                Six Days a Week!!!    at Six in the Morning!!!!

In Tuesday Open Thoughts puzzled ponders on too many house-guests & introverts  

TheMomCat highlights the fact that Federal Medical Marijuana Policy Needs Clarity


In Book Nook, a bi-weekly series, Xanthe gives a review of Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell

Afternoon music from Timbuk3: The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time!

Tonight #94

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