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Saturday, February 26, 2011

I was watching "Flip this House," in fact I watched an hour and a half's worth. Something that was readily apparent was this: Pretty much half the skilled labor was Hispanic. No matter where in the country they were, It was pretty much the same.

The scenario was this: More well to do, (or job secure folks) are being told that real estate is a great investment and they need to get in on it while home prices are really low. Realtors, lenders and opportunists drive the bus. "Here's a chance to make money in a down market," is what your told. That may be true, but if you don't pay attention, if your not smart, you may lose it too. And who is helping to drive this market w/ a supply of reasonably priced labor? Hispanics. What would speculators and lenders do with out these guys. They are helping the middle class (what's left of it that still has cash ore credit) to buy in a distressed market and get labor (skilled and other wise) So... immigrants supply the labor, lenders supply cash, the remnants of the middle class who can afford it are investing in low priced homes already churned once before. It's sooooo American, It's about market forces, cheap labor and opportunism. If you've been blind to that, then your blind to the forces that run this country... I suggest you get over it (the immigration thing) and start doing what they are doing. Get yer buds together, start a business. Make your opportunities. Find a niche and work it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The truth IS out there!

I was reading a post online a few night ago regarding the "Huffington Post." Apparently it has become a power house in "must read," online blogs. There was how ever a problem.
It seems that one individual had issue with the HP and the fact that it has become the home for many "New Age," pundits. Much of what they discuss is based on spiritual practices up by pseudo sciences with newly minted fanciful names.
The HP has been accused of having no voice of it's own, so to speak. Well, maybe that's what this is about. People expect it to be a "news," type organization, when its really just a big fancy blog.
Some day there will be groups that actually report news on line. In fact there are now, but they tend to be local groups. For now validation is the tough thing. How will you validate what a person writes and what the character of the individual is? I think it may actually be easier than we think. It will be fun to see how this all works out. We need other ways to get information... So keep blogging!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Why I can't find a place to sit in down town Topeka!

It's four in the morning. I've been reading information on line about city development. I can see all the wonderful ideas stretched out before me like so many lanes of highway dwindling in the distance to no where.

For as many years as I can remember we have discussed, cussed and bemoaned the fate of out fair city and why it, "no can move!"

I recently attended one of those meetings at which a lot of well meaning and really nice people met to talk, (some more) about what the future down town Topeka ought to look like when the our own, "I have a Dream," for downtown Topeka finally comes to pass.

What was disturbing was the kindness and in some sense complete trust some people seemed to show in the responsible and benevolent guidance that is often proffered up by the powers that be here in the capital city.

For so many years the residents of Topeka's other "not so spiffy," neighborhoods have been subjected to the realities of belonging to the underclass that comes with being part of a city with no sense of unity. Unfortunately that underclass, as it is in so many small towns is most all of us who earn less (and can't afford a country club membership) than the required minimum.

As much as I like my little town and many of the kind, generous people who live in it, I find I still feel that there is a class division that has existed here since I can remember and still does. It's as though there is still a "landed gentry," type of aristocracy here in Topeka. Unfortunately, many of those same class members do not have the grace, goodness or even the common sense to know what things really give a city it's heart and soul. Money, (there's that word,) seems to be the prime motivator for a good deal of those people.

From the dirty days of Urban Renewal, (Negro Removal,) as Mom called it,
to current plans to revitalize this or that, there's still no transparency and not much compassion. But we do have a healthy appreciation for what makes, "Dis ole world go roun!" Cash Money!

Tales of property taken by force and fraud still circulate in the African American community. Certain business people casting a dark shadow over minority business's and lands. "Your going to sell me this property, or there could be a fire," I hear tell was heard by more then one minority business owner not too long before the "Negro Removal," government programs began to buy up land in the bottoms for that new super highway that cut right through the heart of "Mud Town." You can guess what folks lived there! Oh, did I forget to mention that I later heard tell of three other alternate routes for said highway, (one being an existing right of way already owned by the city) that were little discussed or considered. Of course we understand back in those dark days, minorities were not really people. Hell, Native Americans were considered little more than ignorant children, fit for little more that to be shipped off to "Indian schools," in the hopes that they might learn enough of the White Mans ways to at least fend for them selves and not be a burden on "God Fearing," white folks. It must have been grand to be a part of that exclusive class who helped to lay waste to our tiny town and a nation.

For what all it may count, all those who for so long yearned and ached to belong to that group of those "Oh so fortunate," few, twas' still an elusive dream. Those who ran the city, owned the shops and business's and generally determined the course that many lives beyond their purview must take left it to others as they passed on, (and passed the torch,) to those whose world view was like their own, impeccable and wrapped tight with the flag and privilege .

So here we find ourselves today, looking to make our lives a little more palatable. with the help of a new downtown facade and some more money to be spent on studies and reports. As usual, those with the money, the control and the thirst, (and might I add the ability to smell money like a dog smells rotted meat,) are still in there plugging away to make sure that their part of the American Dream remains intact and sacrosanct. The inviolable truth of power, wealth and hubris, this has been the legacy of our city fathers to us.

So, when your cruising down Wanamaker Boulevard cursing the traffic and wondering how the hell your going to get home in time to feed the kids and milk the cat after that 15 minute drive from what was once the west side of the city, take heart. Those people who gave you the Expo Centre, the new air hub at Forbes, the congested horror that is the Wanamaker corridor and the wondrous splendor of Lake Sherwood, never to be annexed because of a sweet heart deal with the Kansas Legislature, I understand. It's because we are all good citizens and we believe in those who govern out city and reach for our wallets when no one is looking. We understand that what they do is for our own good. After all, black, Hispanic or just plain ole' white folk, it's like the song says, "God bless the child that's got his own," and a good deal of yours too. Or as I heard some one say once as I rode off into the sunset, "We're all some one's nigger. Or maybe he was just referring to my horse, (he's named after that one "Roy," what's his name rode.) Who knows...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Google: all of a sudden I want to visit Topeka

Well, this is really silly and wonderful. It's almost as though you can feel the spirit of Glenda the good Witch fooling around some where in the background!

Stillwater Gazette > Opinion > Columns > Hovland: The power of Google: all of a sudden I want to visit Topeka

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Topeka Coffee Party, (my private manifesto.)

We are working on a Coffee Party situation here. I know that there are many arguments (for and against) for this type of seemingly partisan politics. I for one feel the need to participate on some level.It has always been my experience that to be a good citizen one needs to stay informed and abreast of the times, not only the current topical aspects, but the historical overview of what has transpired in the past.

Learning is not a part time occupation, but a life long one. Attempting to understand the working of human nature and government are considered by some to be beyond the realm of comprehension. I believe that this attitude can be dangerous, It is much to easy to persuade those who know little of the working of government and people that the view of the elite and powerful is the correct one. So, I say this if you have no desire to learn and be aware of what is done both to and for us, then we deserve the leadership (and problems) we get. I for one will attempt to do what I can within the knowledge I have and the beliefs I hold to increase the betterment of those who I share this planet with. Those who would abuse the the idea of a reasonably decent life for all are my foes.

Help us to do what I feel in my heart and head to be right and help our community and planet. Coffee Party may be a reaction to something else, but it is a step in the right direction of dialogue and betterment for all of us.

We meet every two weeks. Next meeting, Blackbirds Cafe on the 19th. of April unless otherwise noted.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Attention and the Digital Age

Technology, what a Blast!
I'm looking at and drooling over all the new technology out there. It's amazing. The one thing that still is bothering me is this and it's not what you might think.

The kids Seem to embrace it and enjoy it, but my questions is are we utilizing it to teach kids in a manner that makes sense. Many districts race to make use of new technology, but so often they are being advised by people and companies that have profit in mind. OK, I'm not exactly anti-capitalism or anti-business, but if were being driven and advised by forces that need to report a quarterly profit, what's really going on here?

Some of you may remember that there have been issues raised over such low tech items as text books. Who makes the decisions, how are they made and who really benefits from the placement of said text books. Issues have ranged from the content of the books to kickback scenarios and more. Often groups of people for one reason or the other have dictated the content more or less based on beliefs and values. I'm not going to argue that here. The problem is we have no goal, vision or plan at a national level as to what dictates a really worthwhile text. If this is the case regarding low tech items such as a text book, what is going on in the technology arena.

Many if not most schools don't have the staff or the monies to hire qualified technology consultants. Most don't really have good in house planning to deal with it. I will take this moment to say that the more schools with better educated and involved parents are a plus when setting up technology goals. Often times these parents are professionals, some who work in a technology related environment. They can be great resources as to setting a good path towards useful tech programs.

Speaking of technology, on wonders why schools don't form relationships with other schools who have tech programs that work well. It's not like a web cam, a projector and a great group "face to face," meeting isn't easy to arrange these days. With the expertise available on the web, it seems foolish to not take advantage of the people out there who would love to reach out and help if asked. Open source software developers have always embodied the desire to help out any one who is interested in the open source community. Why don't educators reach out and ask/search for good examples of technology programs that are working and embody goals that are real and well thought out. Reinventing the wheel is too much work and foolish to boot, unless of course you are part of a sales group, IT team or someone else with vested interests in keeping your job and feathering your nest.

One other thing. Many of our schools are still teaching subjects that do not take advantage of the technology to make education something students can embrace. We live in a world that s literally being reduced to bytes of information. Attentions spans are being reduced in the general population because the world is presenting it's self in smaller and smaller samples for them. How do we deal with the compression of information when we are used to one hour or one and half hour schedules for a class. Is there a more effective way to present information? If the average adult has an attention span of 20 to 40 minutes, is there a way to utilize that to make information more accessible? Lots of questions and some of the best minds on the planet are engaged in searching for answers.

Technology is still only a tool, a tool that can help us to bring dreams, concepts and successful paradigms to or students and the world around them. It will only work if we decide to work smart and look towards a future with a successful integration between the human interface and the technology that is washing over us in ever faster waves. Search for the answers and partner up with people who have the intentions and goals with our kids in mind. Software vendors, corporations and equipment sales people are not the solution. If you have a stake (and it's profit) in mind for your involvement with technology education, then you may be part of the problem, not the solution. We still have some of the worlds best minds. We need to turn to them for a little input on making technology accessible and keep in mind your doing this for your kids. Don't let people with profit as the agenda sway your common sense. Oh yeah, keep current w/ research on educational technology.
Below are some site that are useful to me:

I like these sites, but there are lots others. Look around, learn something, it's fun!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I want you!

I'm listening to the Beatles. Listening to "I want you," and thinking about it, or maybe feeling it. I forget from time to time how much of the Beatles was about raw emotions, life and love. How many of you have had that kind of a day, or hour or week. "I want you so bad, it's driving me mad.'

Aren't we supposed to grow out of that as we age. does it still happen to you. Are you still in love with some one, desperately. Spouse, friend, ex, lover etc. wheres your desire, what do you desire. Passion and desire for what ever is a movable feast. It's the motivation we use to set our engines revving to accomplish something. With out these fiery smoldering underpinnings we'd be nothing. we'd be shadow people gliding through life with little or no attachment to it.

Ever notice how we adore and idolize those few who push the envelope, who really go for it. The hero's, the explores, the people who take the risks. Were in love w/ poets, thieves, scallywag's, musicians, serial killers and the like. We claim to hate them and yet were fascinated. Any one who lives outside the norm, pushing the envelope, revealing the mysteries of life. Altering conciousness where ever they go.

Kerouac, Manson, Armstrong, Earhart and all the others. pushing, striving for God knows what. scaring the shit out of all of us as we watch with bated breath, wondering why they do it. wishing we could do it too. So, I want you, or some thing. So bad it's driving me mad. Life with out Passion is like breasts with out nipples. Salt with out pepper, cats with out hair and chicken with out the KFC. (Did i say that?) Christ that barista is gorgeous! Where's my crash helmet?