MovableType upgraded

2005/09/08 at 08:29

I just upgraded MovableType (the software I use to maintain this blog) to the latest version, 3.2. I had been leaving comments and trackbacks turned off on my posts, due to spam. Now, I’m going to turn them on with new posts, since the new version of MovableType offers several options for catching spam messages and pings.
Feel free to comment away!

Living paycheck to paycheck

2005/09/06 at 16:24

This Washington Post article gives some insight into why many poor people didn’t evacuate New Orleans before hurricane Katrina hit.
In particular, this comment caught my eye:

“It’s hard to just get up and go when you don’t have anything,” Jermaine said. “Besides, everything we know is in New Orleans.”

Many years ago, Katie was a semester-long substitute teacher in a high school special ed class. Many of her students were bussed from the poorer parts of Austin. After spring break, she asked her students where they had gone. She was shocked to learn that not only had most of them not gone anywhere, but that many of her students had never been outside Austin.
Guess I should add that to John Scalzi’s ‘Being Poor’ list: Being poor is never having been outside your hometown.

Waiting by Frank M. Robinson

2005/09/06 at 12:49

I just completed the unabridged audio edition of Waiting by Frank M. Robinson. This thriller explores an interesting premise, but the execution is lacking. The motivations and thought processes of the characters are particularly inconsistent: the protagonist completely misses some obvious connections, yet makes other connections long before they are clear. But, as a thriller, I guess it fulfilled its most basic function: I was eager to get to the end to see how everthing was resolved, even though I was not too thrilled about getting through to the end.
Oh, and an additional minor annoyance: the reader of the audio book frequently emphasized what I thought was the wrong word in the sentence.

Is dyslexia a convenient myth?

2005/09/06 at 11:28

This show’s thesis:

In the programme, which looks at the causes and treatment of poor reading, at least three academics call into question the value of separating those with difficulty in reading into dyslexics and “ordinary poor readers”, when the treatment is the same for both groups.
Experts say many children are being diagnosed with the condition to save embarrassment over their reading skills and in order to get extra help at school.

This show interests me, not because I believe that dyslexia is a myth–I have no opinion in the matter–but because I have little doubt that the diagnosis is sometimes used for exactly the reason given above.
Too bad this show is airing in Great Britian, not in the US.

At our best

2005/09/05 at 08:50

I respect people who say that they are spiritual but not part of an organized religion. For me, however, personal spirituality is only half the picture. The other half is being in community with people who are also struggling to better themselves and who help me remember that I’m a small part of a large and complex universe.
It’s times like this–the aftermath of hurricane Katrina–when I’m proudest to be a member of a faith community. Yesterday, like most United Methodist congregations in the U.S. (or even, possibly, world-wide), our congregation took a special offering for hurricane relief. Our pastor related the relief efforts of other area United Methodist congregations and how we can participate in them. And another local church, St. Mary’s Baptist Church, has become the organizing point for hurricane refugees in our community. With the participation of other local congregations, we will do our best to support the refugees among us.
All of this made me realize how many people have given more of themselves because of the connectedness to others that they experience in their community of faith. And I’m proud to be a part of such connectedness and self-sacrifice.

Unintended blessings

2005/09/05 at 08:34

This morning, my cousin Shannon in California called. She and her husband are thinking about opening their home to hurricane Katrina refugees. She had found my blog, read my posts about hurricane Katrina and called to ask me if I knew how they could go about finding someone to stay with them.
I have only seen Shannon once in our adult lives–at my grandfather’s funeral–but it was so cool that my blog brought us together, and for such a good cause.

Being Poor

2005/09/03 at 21:36

Wow. Just go read it.

Think Globally, Act Locally

2005/09/03 at 20:29

Rafe Colburn’s mother tells of relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina refugees in Orange, Texas. Also, make sure to read her update in the comments.

Who could have known?

2005/09/03 at 13:44

From Maureen Dowd, regarding President Bush:

Why does this self-styled “can do” president always lapse into such lame “who could have known?” excuses.
Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs.
Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.’s prewar reports.
Who on earth could have known that New Orleans’s sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy’s uneasy fishbowl.

Katrina refugees

2005/09/02 at 14:59

The news is all over the people who got stranded (or chose to stay) in New Orleans, but let’s not forget that they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
There are tens (or hundreds) of thousands of others who did get out before the hurricane hit. In the best of situations, these people are displaced from their homes and jobs for weeks to come. In the worst case scenario, their homes and/or jobs are gone for good. They have nothing but the clothes on their backs, and they won’t be going home for a long time if at all.
In Pflugerville, St. Mary’s Baptist Church is dealing with seventeen refugee families, and Katie is helping our church and the greater Pflugerville community to get involved in aiding them.
One of my coworkers said that the parents of one of the children on his son’s soccer team had 12 displaced relatives show up on their doorstep.
And those are just the stories I’ve heard about directly.
Imagine if a bunch of your relatives showed up on your doorstep and needed a place to live and other aid for weeks or months: you wouldn’t want to turn them away. At the same time, you’d be hard pressed to serve their needs yourself.
By all means, give to the Red Cross and other charities, but also see how you can help directly in your own community. With the devastation that this storm has caused, I’m sure you can find refugees in pretty much every community in the US.
Update: Katie heard from a neighbor who works in the middle school that a family in our subdivision had twelve displaced relatives show up on their door. This weekend, we’re going to try to get ahold of the family, make sure they’re aware of relief efforts that are already starting up via St. Mary’s Baptist Church, see what their needs are, and do what we can to get them help.