Thursday, January 25, 2007

VA as compared to other states

From ConnectRichmond: REPORT OF THE WEEK. The 2007 report Virginia Compared to the Other States National Rankings, includes data on income, unemployment, salary of school teachers and more:

Virginia is doing well in lots of areas, including having the top Bond ratings.

Delaware (my home state) kicked butt in a ton of other areas as well. They also have the second largest foreign-born population growth. Odd.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Starbucks in the Forbidden City

I was just reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about a web crusade started by one Chinese blogger, to remove the Starbucks that sits in China's Forbidden City. I am trying to find a link to the article, but the WSJ doesn't allow free reading online, and this article is from Jan 19th. It's times like this where I miss being a college student and having free access to all those great search engines like Lexis Nexis. Let me see what I can find for you.

The point was, it was interesting that one person's personal opinion became a national agenda.

Tony Ip, the China general manager of WPP Group PLC's G2 Relationship Marketing (that title is long and unnecessary here) said, "When bloggers get a chance to talk to the CEO of Starbucks, they will want to show their power. Then an individual consumer's point of view can become a public agenda."

That last sentence there is really striking. That's incredibly empowering and scary at the same time. The article notes that China is a country with the second most Internet users, after the US. I didn't know that. How startling. The author of the blog said, "Blogging is giving ordinary grassroots Chinese people a chance to express themselves." Which is true. But if bloggers are getting up in arms about a coffee shop, imagine the power they might have if they actually put it to a better use, like for some social justice issues. And they are young bloggers (The Chinese man was 29), so perhaps the hope for generation next to care about issues like globalization and consumerism still exist. The blogger says he is a regular Starbucks customer and his goal was not to drum up anti-American sentiment:
"This became an issue because Starbucks is a symbol of Western popular culture," he says. "The question is, how do we absorb and embrace the Western world without losing our own identity. This is an issue that everybody is thinking about. I just happened to write about it."

What do you all think about this?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

student documentary films at UR on Wed

Related social justice event for any interested:

The Civic Engagement House of the University of Richmond invites you to attend a free screening of four student documentary films on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Brown Alley Room of Weinstein Hall. The films to be shown are:
- Cross Over Ministries: Improving Health Care in the Latino Community
- Homelessness: It Could Be You
- Not Just Sticks and Bricks: Affordable Housing in Richmond
- Youth, Violence and Gangs

Please join us to learn more about these important social issues and show your support for the student filmmakers. A brief reception will follow the screenings at 8:30 p.m. For directions or parking information please email

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

now you get taunted just for being male

SAN FRANCISCO - Members of an all-male singing group from Yale University say they were taunted with anti-gay slurs, attacked and beaten after singing "The Star Stangled Banner" at a New Year's Eve party in San Francisco.

So now they're gay just beccause they're in an all-male singing group? Jeez. Or they just targeted the ones that "looked" gay? And in SAN FRANCISCO, for crying out loud.
Police said they arrived and found about 20 people fighting in the street. They interviewed some of the participants but let them go after taking their names.

WHAT!? No one was arrested? Taken in for questioning for a HATE CRIME? What the hell?

Minimum wage

House passes the minimum wage increase... From

Tackling a top priority, House Democrats pushed a $2.10 an hour increase in the federal minimum wage toward passage Wednesday, calling it only a partial restoration of purchasing power for America's lowest-paid workers.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said passing the boost "is simply a matter of doing what's right, what's just, and what's fair. If the minimum wage had been adjusted with the cost of living on an annual basis since 1968, a minimum wage worker would not be making $5.15, not be making $7.25, would be making $9.05," he said.

While I think this is great, I do worry about repercussions from businesses, what with the now higher payroll costs. This also will be bad for my job, bc the companies we work with pay our students minimum wage, with a 50 cent increase each summer (3). It's a lot easier to sell a 16 year old to a company at $5.15/hour. I'm pretty sure the raise will make it harder for us to find business sponsors for internships. Drat.

I also don't understand why this has to be such a partisan thing. Bush is supportive, which surprises me. I can see how big business is going to freak and say, AGHH, it's expensive, etc, but better paid workers mean a better economy, less strain on gov't programs, more stable households, and all sorts of good things, that aren't partisan. I really hate that concept. Partisan. It's become a dirty word. To be behind things that your party supports. It has taken to being considered a synonym for divisive. Let's look up the meaning, shall we?...

par·ti·san –noun
an adherent or supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, esp. a person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance.

Synonyms 1. See follower. 3. biased, prejudiced.

Wow, that's interesting. I had the definition in my mind not to really mean that. I was thinking it meant just an adherent to a cause, which it does say, but the definition also emphasizes the "biased" part. Hrm.

Somewhat unrelated conversation I had on IM with a friend:

me: is anyone else annoyed at newspapers and online news' sites' attempts to include "technology" in their articles by putting video links to everything?
friend: u dont like the video?
me: I don't want to watch a video. i want to read about it. it's faster to read. and when i'm at work, i can't watch the video usually anyway
friend: some ppl dont like to read
me: i'm usually subject to a commercial first too
friend: because they cant!
me: dumbing down of america

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Al Gore as President on SNL

This is kind of on topic, related to the Global Warming and all the talk of Al Gore, but how could I have missed this hillarious opening of Al Gore hosting SNL and pretending to be President and speaking of the state of the nation?

He's really quite good on the show.

Monday, January 08, 2007

global warming

I just noticed this post from The Richmond Democrat today about the movie "The Inconvenient Truth", which I have not yet seen, but coincidentally saw previews for on a DVD I rented this weekend, which made me want to go out and rent it. RD says about the movie: Gore has framed the debate and from this point forward experts on both sides will be working to support or refute Gore's thesis.

I liked that in the previews for the movie, Al Gore says, "This is not a political issue" which I completely agree on. We all have to live on this Earth. All of us should care what happens to it, in our lifetimes or later.

This is also relevant given all the coverage given to global warming this weekend with the 60 and 70 degree weather. It seemed like every channel I turned on was discussing this (and I did watch a fair bit of the Weather Channel). The consensus seems to be that one or two warm days or months are not enough to cry global warming, but the fact is, is that the Earth's core temperature has been rising steadily for a long time, especially in the last 50 years or so (or longer?). I feel another "End of the World" movie coming up based on global warming. I'm surprised we haven't had a "Deadly Hurricane" or "Tsunami" movie, but I suppose it's too soon after them to do that yet. Remember all the fuss when "World Trade Center" came out? That was also one of the previews of the movie I rented, and now I want to see it.

One of RD's commenters noted:
The Sunday Supper Club will be having a public viewing of this film in the very near future. See their
Though it appears that group is based out of Fauquier County, VA (I'm not even sure where that is).

They also have a page of links of other organizations dedicated to peace and justice. Will need to go check those out soon.

Friday, January 05, 2007

middle schools

The condition of our country's middle schools continues to amaze, startle, disgust, and worry me. This article from the NYTimes Magazine mentions the problems with middle schools.

For Raechelle Ellison, 11, transition was marked by tears, nightly pleadings to her mother that she did not want to return and the composition of poetry with verses like, “Life in despair/I don’t really care.”
“Being in middle school is just like a bird being kicked out of its nest by its mother,” Raechelle mused in the cafeteria one recent morning.

A friend from college is doing Teach for America in a middle school in Houston, TX and hearing his stories of classes full of failing students, no students on task, arrests, and death threats make my mouth fall open most of the time. I don't know how teachers stay motivated in that environment, especially the inexperienced TFA ones. Based on what I've heard from 2 people I know who've done TFA, it seems the program is only discouraging young, motivated people from becoming permanent teachers by scaring them away with these poor schools, as opposed to the opposite, which is the intent. More thoughts to come on TFA later... I'll have to get my friend to chime in on that.

Only 2

Massachusetts swears in their first black Governor. Only the second one in the country.
L. Douglas Wilder was of course, the first, of VA.
He was even there :

Wilder, the shoe-in favorite for the new Richmond "strong mayor", now rapidly falling from pedestal with his strong opinions and sweeping actions.

Why do you think there have been only 2? That seems embarrasing and disappointing. This is also evidence I use when I tell people that I don't think Americans are ready for a woman president. I'd love for it to happen, but I don't think they're ready. I think they will choose a minority first (ala, Santos from The West Wing?). Colin Powell has been in the spotlight for quite some time now, and there's Barack Obama, currently serving as the "celebrity" favorite (I don't think he's even that good looking).

Favorite quotes

I wanted to share some of my favorite, topic-related quotes here. Feel free to comment or add your own.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for enough good men to do nothing. "
- Edmund Burke
(definitely relevant to the idea of this blog..I think I might add it to the title)

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)
(a quote I live by in my professional life)

"To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
— e e cummings, poet, artist, playwright and novelist (1894-1962)

"I've got all the money I'll ever need, if I die by four o'clock."
-- Henny Youngman
(related to our continued pattern of living beyond our needs)

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
— Count Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist (1828-1910)
(ah, so true)

First Blog Entry

Welcome to the first entry in my social justice blog! I started this after having a debate about "the issues" with someone I was dating at the time. He didn't really know much or understand where I was coming from on the things that I am passionate about (see user profile).

I also noticed that the students I work with (high school) and even college students (including my classmates when I was a student) don't seem to talk about these types of issues. Social justice. Race/class/gender/orientation. Poverty. Oppression. Rich/Poor Gap. Education access. Feminism. Equality. What do those things mean to them? They (we) are supposed to be Generation Next--the ones who'll be in charge next of the world. Why aren't we engaged in discussions about these issues? Why are only students permitted access to these types of debates?

Being post college, there are few venues to discuss this (other than online, I suppose).

Please join/follow my blog with your insights and comments. I want us to start talking.