Election |Political Rants by Judy @ 1:05 PM
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During the 2002-2003 school year, there were 16 school-associated violent deaths of students in the United States. This included 3 shootings, 6 suicides, 2 murder-suicides, 4 stabbings and 1 “other.” Granted that this is 16 too many, it still translates into less than one violent death per 1,000,000 students enrolled, or 0.0001%. Kids ages 5 to 19 are at least 70 times more likely to be murdered away from school than in school. I’m not trying to discount these deaths. If it were my kid I’d be devastated, and my heart goes out to the families and friends of those that died. But the fact remains that I probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than of having my kid die from violent crime at school.

Hudson, Mass., population 18,000 or so, is a quiet, predominantly white, relatively affluent community about 30 miles from Boston. Hudson bills itself as an, “unpretentious community with a strong sense of tradition, a tolerance for differences and a willingness to embrace change.” There are about 3025 students enrolled in Hudson’s 6 public and 3 private schools. The city-data.com crime index for this period is low — 66.9 vs. the US average of 330.6. In 2002, there were 255 total reported crimes in Hudson, of which 3 were assaults. There were no murders in Hudson, in school or out, in 2002. Zero. Nil. Goose egg. Nor were there any in 2001.

What does the second paragraph have to do with the first? This from an AP news article on Yahoo:

Election Booths in Schools Draw Concern

Tue Sep 28,10:23 AM ET Elections – AP

HUDSON, Mass. – Dozens of parents have signed a petition asking town officials to remove election booths from schools out of concern for terrorism.

Say what?!? Parents in Hudson are that afraid that terrorists are going to strike the small schools in their sleepy little town? Why?

Sally Morgan cited the potential for terrorists to try to disrupt the Nov. 2 presidential election, as well as the school hostage crisis in Russia earlier this month in a petition sent to the town’s Board of Selectmen.

Ah! I get it! Half a world away in the midst of a brutal, decade-long revolution, a school hostage crisis ended in a bloody battle between Chechen freedom fighters and Russian commandos. That’s sure to be repeated in Hudson! And because Dubya wants us to be afraid, in the vain hope that fright will (1)encourage us to vote for him and (2) keep the focus away from the real issues.

Somehow I think that Sally’s logic may be a little flawed. But Sally isn’t alone:

The petition, signed by 125 parents, asks town officials to move polling places to more secure locations such as the town library, fire stations and churches.

Is a church or library really more secure than a school? That makes me wonder a bit about Hudson’s priorities. Let’s keep our books and altars secure. Damn the kids! ???

Selectman Joseph J. Durant argued that pulling the election booths would rob students of an opportunity to see how democracy works. He also denied a threat to children exists.

“I think when fear and insecurity is introduced into Americans’ everyday lives in something as simple and fundamental as this, it is a sad state of affairs,” he said.

I have to agree with Durant on this. We should not be living in fear. We should not be teaching our children to live in fear. There isn’t a bogeyman behind every bush. There isn’t a terrorist stalking every school. Chances are very small that we will be blown up at our polling places as we vote. Chances are vanishingly small that doing so would interrupt the election enough to change the outcome. The citizens of Hudson are pretty darn safe.

Morgan has also taken her concerns to the town’s School Committee, which has reviewed voting day security at the schools.

Maybe that will calm Sally down a bit. If not, I have a lottery ticket to sell her.

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British entrepreneur Richard Branson plans to launch the world’s first passenger service to space in 2007. His zero-g flights will be offered for a mere $198,600 (more or less, depending on the exchange rate). He’s teaming up with Paul Allen to build five capsules for the flights.

The flights will climb to about 130 kilometers, roughly six times higher than regular commercial planes, and include four minutes of weightlessness, views of the horizon from 1,200 miles away and possibly a gin and tonic if granted a liquor license.

That’s a pretty short flight for the price, I think. But perhaps the gin & tonic makes it worthwhile. Do you get to keep the glass? Does it have to be gin? I’d much prefer a vodka martini — straight up with a twist, please, and shaken, not stirred.

Branson said he planned to use the proceeds from the first well-heeled customers to bring prices down in the next few years to make space travel affordable to the regular tourist.

“The orbital hotel will happen,” he said.

Virgin expects 3,000 customers in the first five years.

But, will the orbital hotel be starstarstarstarstar ?? If I’m paying upwards of $200k just for the flight up there, I expect turn-down service, at the very least!

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:20 AM
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Mt. St. Helens is rockin’ & rollin’ again. A couple of days ago there were clusters of small quakes. Yesterday there were clusters of larger quakes. The scientists studying the mountain are not sure what exactly is happening, as this does not appear to be a “normal” pattern. It might be that St. Helens has a bellyache, with gas moving around in the crater. Or it could be magma rising. Since there’s an increased chance of explosions in the crater, the moutain is closed to hikers.

Barb’s son has been on the PCT all summer. Last I heard he was up in Washington somewhere, trying to get done by the end of September. I hope he’s past St. Helens.

I remember the 1980 eruption very well, oh yes I do. Especially the June 12th eruption, that blew ash all over my wedding (June 14th).

We really should have taken that as an omen. Oh yes, we should have. 😛

Miscellaneous Musing |Techie Talk by Judy @ 9:16 PM
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I’ve made two new skins for Persistent Illusion: A very plain black & white one that should load very fast for dial-up, and a bright one that should also load fairly fast as I’ve kept the graphics to a minimum. I removed the styles that weren’t mine, as both were having CSS problems. I think everything works OK now.

Friday I had my hair trimmed and colored. The curl semi-behaves itself now and the majority of the gray roots are hidden away. I love the way that Carla does my color. It ends up looking very natural. I told her this time to “think red,” so she added in a few extra red strands. It makes me feel like I’m back in my 20’s, when I actually had auburn hair, before the red departed and left me with blah-brown in my 30’s.

Saturday I had an awesome hair day, so I went to a movie. “The Forgotten“. I give it The twist was given away about 1/3 through the movie, and it was downhill from there.

Miscellaneous Musing |On The Road by Judy @ 9:10 AM
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I finally got the vacation pictures up on Mommymonster. (shameless plug for my other home site) Just look under the bottom leaf and follow the photo menu to Vacations -> Disneyland 2004.

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The Americal Library Association’s Banned Book Week starts on 09/25. This week emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

Celebrate your freedom to read by reading a book from the Independent Booksellers Book Sense Picks of 10 recommended banned books for 2004, the Top 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2003, or the Top 100 Challenged Books of 1990-1999.

I’m happy to note that I’ve read 5 of the 10 Book Sense Picks, 5 of the Top 10 of 2003 and a goodly number of the Top 100. Now I just have to read my way through the rest!

In honor of Banned Book Week, I’m having the Listen/Read/Watch section rotate through the Book Sense Picks and the Top 10 of 2003.



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