Well, once again, we've fallen behind in posting updates. I guess that's what you get with an all-volunteer site like this. Life and work sometimes get in the way of our conversation. I've been working on some seriously complicated things at work that have totally drained me to the point where I've not felt much like working on the blog.
I've also got to say that the political climate right now is just depressing to listen to. I'm almost scared to log onto Facebook lately, for fear of what stupid posts I'll see from people with conspiracy theories, hate, and vitriol for our elected leaders and politicians. There are a lot of assertions and very few facts, which apparently is just how America likes it, since that is what works at the ballot box. I'm only 41, but the partisan divide is about as bad as I've ever seen it. I won't fall into the mental laziness of blaming "all politicians" though. It's clear to me that the Republican party and its elected leaders and candidates are so beholden to the Tea Party that they are no longer working on finding any common ground to solve our country's problems. Everything with them has to be hard-right, with no room for compromise. Their opinions are not worthy of respect, because they are not even based on facts anymore. Don't get me wrong, I think there are plenty of good people out there who call themselves Republicans, or are genuinely conservative, and there is room to agree or disagree on their mainstream opinions. But these bunch of radicals who have taken over are just beyond hope. They really make me sad for the state of education and the virtue of critical thinking in this country. Anyhow, that's enough of my rant. Here are some news stories:
Denton County released the results of the aerial mosquito spraying, saying that it killed 56% of mosquitoes, and 60% of the species most responsible for carrying West Nile virus. It's a good reduction, but falls short of what had been predicted by the vendor. I also have my doubts about the representativeness of the sampling, and whether we have control numbers to compare to so that we can deduce that the spraying decreased numbers more than nature would have. The real number of mosquitoes killed could be quite a bit higher, or quite a bit lower. Anecdotally, I'll say that I've seen a lot more lately around my place. I was out the other night, and was getting eaten up, despite having 2 applications of Off! spray.
The website 270towin.com has tools to predict the Presidential election. They've got a neat simulator tool that uses the latest polls from each state to generate probabilities and show scenarios. I've run this simulation numerous times, and out of a dozen times, Obama wins 11, and Romney wins 1.
"Where the West Begins" is a bronze sculpture exhibit showing at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater, starting September 28th, and going through November 3rd.
Uncertainty? Not so certain anymore. I have a hard time wrapping my head around this, but I'll have to adapt, because that's how science rolls. What you accept as fact, and take on faith may change as scientists learn more. It suits nobody to stand on faith or ideology when it comes to nature's laws.
Children of immigrants outperform children with native roots, when their school conditions and socio-economic status is the same, says a study from Johns Hopkins researchers. Hispanics and Asians had comparable results.
Acclaimed international pianist Nikita Fitenko returns to Lewisville in September for two performances of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major. In addition to the Beethoven, the Symphony, under the baton of Maestro Adron Ming, opens its 29th season with audience-favorite Symphony No. 4 "Italian" by Felix Mendelssohn.
Fitenko’s playing has been called “magnificent” by Fanfare Music Review, and International Piano Magazine says his “dazzling playing has to be heard to be believed!”. This marks the native Russian's fourth appearance with the orchestra, following previous successes with works by Rachmaninoff and Beethoven. Fitenko, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, is co-director of the Washington International Piano Festival. He records for Altarus Records, along with his wife Katerina Zaitseva, who hails from Moscow. The two met while in college in Dallas.
The concerts take place at the MCL Grand in Old Town Lewisville on Friday, September 21, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. There is plenty of parking around the Grand; most is on the City Hall side of the arts complex.
Tickets can be booked online at www.lewisvillesymphony.org and are $25 on Friday and $20 on Sunday. The Symphony provides a special $5 discount for seniors (60+). Student tickets are $10. Information is available at 972.874.9087
Created by S.B. 1557, an act of the Texas Legislature, the consortium's purpose is to "inform the governor, legislature, and commissioner concerning methods for transforming public schools in this state by improving student learning through the development of innovative, next-generation learning standards and assessment and accountability systems." Participants can ask the Texas Education Agency to waive some state regulations if needed to accomplish the goals.
The consortium will make recommendations in four key areas: - Digital Learning (including electronic textbooks and online courses) - Learning standards (what students must master to be successful) - Multiple assessments (testing, and other ways of measuring what students are learning) - Local control
Lewisville ISD was already in the midst of a transformation, begun in 2011 as a Strategic Design. LISD's strategic design stated six broad goals, four of which directly addressed the main tasks of the consortium, giving Lewisville a head start in its application to be a part of the consortium.
The schools chosen for the consortium represent the diversity of the state, as well as a variety of district sizes and types. Districts submitted an application and went through a rigorous selection process to become part of the consortium. To be eligible to participate, a district or charter must have:
1. Received either national, statewide, or regional public acknowledgement for district-wide or campus-wide excellence in academic performance or innovative practice;
2. Supplied proof of compliance with TEA audit requirements; and
3. Met performance ratings requirements– Only districts and campuses that have received Academically Acceptable, Recognized, or Exemplary ratings and open enrollment charter schools that are rated Exemplary in the 2010-2011 state accountability system are eligible.
Remember that time the Tea Party Republicans in Congress almost forced the United States to default on its debt obligations by refusing to raise the debt ceiling? Remember how the government's inability to, well, govern drove Standard & Poor's to downgrade our credit rating for the first time ever? Good times.
The grownups—President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—ended the Tea Party tantrum by promising the Tea Party that they'd get a chance to blow up the world later. By kicking the can down the field for 12 months, the Tea Party caucus gained incredible leverage. If it didn't get what it wanted, automatic cuts to defense and entitlements would go into effect, and the Bush tax cuts would expire automatically. The Congressional Budget Office says doing this will push our economy off a "fiscal cliff" and cause another recession.
On Thursday, Congress came back to make a decision: Either they could vote to postpone the decision until after the elections when we all don't hate each other quite so much, or the Tea Party could once again play Russian Roulette by holding a gun to our heads. After the fit they threw a year ago, you'd think the Tea Partiers would have seized this opportunity to get everything they wanted.
Residents in Flower Mound will now be able to raise chickens in their yards, as the Town Council has passed a new ordinance up to four hens in a residential lot up to one acre. Residents on properties larger than one acre can have an unspecified number of hens and roosters. The ordinance passed 3-2, but as backyard chicken advocate Mark Glover of Flower Mound explained, "All wanted to allow them, but two wanted more definition on chicken coops, and wanted to table it." Council Members Jean Levenick and Kendra Stephenson voted to table the ordinance.
The ordinance passed tonight, as written would have allowed up to three poultry on lots under an acre, banning roosters for those properties, due to their noisy crowing. Most of the chicken advocates pushed for an increase in that number, and the Town Council compromised to allow four.
Flower Mound resident John Fierke, whose family had chickens in their small backyard prior to a visit from the Town last year ordering them removed, spoke in favor of the new ordinance at tonight's meeting. Fierke's daughter Samantha had been heartbroken when they had to part with their hens, which had become a part of their family. Glover thinks Fierke's situation was not uncommon. "There are more illegal chickens in Flower Mound and Lewisville than you would believe. It has been 'Don't ask, don't tell' for awhile," said Glover.
Backyard chicken advocates like the birds for a variety of reasons, such as insect control, egg-laying, and sheer entertainment, as the birds can be fun to watch.
"I'm tremendously pleased that after more than a year of effort, what seemed to be an issue only important to our family, has proved successful. We're so glad to know that there are many others in our community that support the idea of backyard chickens," said Fierke.