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R.I.P.

Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex, 53.

Virtually Speaking Susie

On tonight’s show, Will Bunch, Charlie Pierce and Molly Ivors will slug it out in my music trivia quiz, 9pm EST. Click here to listen!

Call in with comments or questions at 646-200-3440.

Community

Not that I’d endorse such illegal methods, of course, but this is how one small town in Mississippi kept Fred Phelps from ruining the funeral of an Afghanistan veteran:

A couple of days before, one of them (Westboro protestors) ran his mouth at a Brandon gas station and got his arse waxed. Police were called and the beaten man could not give much of a description of who beat him. When they canvassed the station and spoke to the large crowd that had gathered around, no one seemed to remember anything about what had happened.

Rankin County handled this thing perfectly. There were many things that were put into place that most will never know about and at great expense to the county.

Most of the morons never made it out of their hotel parking lot. It seems that certain Rankin county pickup trucks were parked directly behind any car that had Kansas plates in the hotel parking lot and the drivers mysteriously disappeared until after the funeral was over. Police were called but their wrecker service was running behind and it was going to be a few hours before they could tow the trucks so the Kansas plated cars could get out.

A few made it to the funeral but were ushered away to be questioned about a crime they might have possibly been involved in. Turns out, after a few hours of questioning, that they were not involved and they were allowed to go on about their business.

R.I.P.

Phoebe Snow, 60.

School reform

Yeah, it’s really done wonders to change crony capitalism in Philadelphia!

Cartoonist for hire

Ted Rall auctions himself off on eBay!

The limits of reform

I didn’t have such high hopes for Joe Nocera, the columnist who replaced Bob Herbert, but this column is promising:

Meanwhile, other forces are pushing him in another direction. His mother, who works nights and barely has time to see her son, comes across as indifferent to his schooling. Though she manages to move the family back to Brooklyn, the move means that Saquan has an hour-and-a-half commute to M.S. 223. As his grades and attendance slip, Dodd offers to tutor him. To no avail: He finally decides it isn’t worth the effort, and transfers to a school in Brooklyn.

The point is obvious, or at least it should be: Good teaching alone can’t overcome the many obstacles Saquan faces when he is not in school. Nor is he unusual. Mahler recounts how M.S. 223 gives away goodie bags to lure parents to parent association meetings, yet barely a dozen show up. He reports that during the summer, some students fall back a full year in reading comprehension — because they don’t read at home.

Going back to the famous Coleman report in the 1960s, social scientists have contended — and unquestionably proved — that students’ socioeconomic backgrounds vastly outweigh what goes on in the school as factors in determining how much they learn. Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute lists dozens of reasons why this is so, from the more frequent illness and stress poor students suffer, to the fact that they don’t hear the large vocabularies that middle-class children hear at home.
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He’s at it again

I’m not linking to David Brooks, but here’s the relevant quote:

“…as baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves and impose horrendous costs on future generations.”

I figured someone would take him out in the comments, and several people did:

Re: …baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves at horrendous cost to the next generation. Seriously.

What generation has put as much money into the federal government coffers…paying for our parents’ retirement…including all the mothers who never worked and contributed no dollars to Social Security…and when our parents lived years beyond our grandparents’ lifespans, who paid for all the costs that their Social Security checks would not cover? What generation has put more of their own dollars into the educational system than boomers…graduating ourselves in record numbers and our children as well, with no help from the federal government because we made “too much” as middle and upper/middle-class wage earners to qualify for any financial considerations.

We didn’t even have the benefit of tax-free health care accounts or educational savings accounts to help us with the double-burden of sending our kids to college while caring for aging parents. There are 2 generations that owe us big time…and this is from the mouth of a liberal Democrat, so I can’t imagine how Republicans feel!

In the Reagan 80s, our generation got hit with a huge jump in payroll taxes that was supposed to keep Social Security and Medicare secure. See how well that worked out? Here’s another:
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Netroots Nation 2011

I only go to NN when someone else is picking up the tab, but fortunately, I’ll be there this year. (It’s in Minneapolis.) I have to say, if you can afford it, it’s well worth the trip. You get to meet a lot of your favorite bloggers, but more important, you get to meet and talk with activists from all over the country, who are more than happy to share their strategies.

If you’ve been feeling like you want to get involved but you’re not sure where to start, this is a great place to begin. (Plus, you know, fun!) Check out Adam Bonin’s Daily Kos post today:

During the conference, there are scores of blogger-generated panel discussions bringing together grassroots activists with leaders and experts in their fields. Simultaneously, it’s a social conference — putting faces to names you’ve only seen only, an annual reunion of this large and dispersed community taking place at parties, in the exhibit hall and hotel lobby, all over the place.  We’ve had pub quizzes and karaoke contests, batting practice at PNC Park and raucous concerts, dance parties and a Teamsters-led barbecue.  It is fun.

This year, Russ Feingold will be our Thursday night keynote speaker, and we’ll be rolling out more big names in the next few weeks.  (Yes, Sen. Franken will be back.)  What we need is you.

If you’ve never been before, well, we’ve all been first-time participants. Don’t be afraid. We take care of first-timers and lurkers, and within your first hour in the Twin Cities you will find your friends. As always, we’ll hold regional and affinity caucuses to make sure you find the communities where your friends are. And you should strongly consider helping Netroots for the Troops, a group of dedicated volunteers we’re honored to have with us who dedicate their time towards fundraising for, and at our conference packing hundreds of care packages for our armed forces around the globe.

It has been my honor for the past three years to serve as Chairman of the Netroots Nation Board of Directors, and to help guide our full-time staff to delivering for you an incredible experience. We will not let you down.

If you’ve joined us before, now is the time to sign up to join us in the Twin Cities in June. If you’ve never been, what’s stopping you?

Please register today, and book your hotel, and we’ll see you in Minneapolis June 16-19. If you have any questions, ask away.

More progress

With the help of my friend, I emptied my storage unit yesterday.

I have this other friend who insists that the very fact of my having a storage unit means I’m a hoarder. I’m not.

“Hoarders always say that,” he says sagely. “You’re in denial.”

Arggh. No, I’m not. Here’s what was in the (mostly empty) unit:

  • One small space heater. (The kind of thing you don’t need — until you do.)
  • One tub of miscellaneous Christmas crap. (I like Christmas.)
  • One empty guitar shipping box. (It was all moldy, I tossed it.)
  • One small cooler. (Handy for day trips, it has a shoulder strap.)
  • Legs to my electric piano. (Tossed them. I use a keyboard stand.)
  • One bicycle.
  • That’s it.

    So the drugs are working, because I’ve been wanting to clean that unit out for at least six months. The mental sticking point was the bike which, because it has a big basket attached, is a real pain in the ass to wrangle into the back of an SUV. (My back is now killing me, but hey.)

    I’m getting dangerously close to the point where I won’t have anything else hanging over my head and I’ll just have to start writing. Hmm.

    Oh, wait. I can start playing the guitar again instead! Whew, that was close.

    By the way? Added bonus to getting organized: I now have all my song lyrics in one place. This is no small thing, since I can’t perform without them.

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