December 2007


Victoria Jaramillo, 40, holding her 3-month-old daughter, Frida, at Santa Martha Acatitla, a women’s prison in Mexico City. (Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times)

My mom is in prison and has been for more than years. I have thought a lot about what it would be like if she had never been arrested and how different my life would be if she was out and if she was still my guardian. (My life is WAY WAY better now! I wish she could be in a hospital or a drug rehab, but not here in my house.)

But until I read the article below, I never thought of what it would be like to be in prison with her. (I don’t even like going for an hour to visit.)  The kids in the article are a lot younger than I was when my mom was arrested, and the prison they’re talking about is in Mexico and not in the U.S., but still it has me thinking.

Behind prison bars, toddlers serve time with mom

By James C. Mckinley Jr. MEXICO CITY:
Beyond the high concrete walls and menacing guard towers of the Santa Martha Acatitla prison, past the barbed wire, past the iron gates, past the armed guards in black commando garb, sits a nursery school with brightly painted walls, piles of toys and a jungle gym.

Fifty-three children under the age of 6 live inside the prison with their mothers, who are serving sentences for crimes from drug dealing to kidnapping to homicide. Mothers dressed in prison blue, many with tattoos, carry babies on their hips around the exercise yard. Others lead toddlers and kindergartners by the hand, play with them in the dust or bounce them on their knees on prison benches.

On the one hand, maybe these moms learn to be better parents than my mother was, and maybe there’s less abuse when there are guards and other people around. Also, I am glad the children there have toys to play with and a nursery school. On the other hand, they don’t have any freedom. What an experience!


This is at

Thirteen Remarkable Uses for No-Stick Cooking Spray.

By ChrisjobNo-stick cooking spray reduces calories, sticking, and scrubbing. Apparently, it can also ease at least thirteen other areas of your life.

  1. Reduce grime and bulidup on your vehicle wheels
  2. Brighten and shine your automobiles grill, and prevent bugs from sticking
  3. Lubricate your keys to open a stuck lock
  4. Prevent your mailbox from freezing
  5. Stop wax from sticking to candlesticks
  6. Remove soap scum
  7. Spray a putty knife before scraping to ease clean up
  8. Stop a squeeky door hinge
  9. Lube a problematic bike chain
  10. Speed up drying of nail polish with a quick spray
  11. Keep grass from sticking to lawnmower blades
  12. Prevent sticking when shoveling and blowing snow
  13. Ease cleanup on your box grater when shredding cheese

Cassie’s avatarAre you the same person online as you are in the real physical world?

I was once accused online of being an old man who goes into chat rooms naked pretending to be a teenage girl. Ew! Can’t imagine anyone who meets me in person accusing me of that, but it makes me wonder.

Who are the real people behind the names at the blogs where I read and comment? Are they lying about who they are? Their gender? Their age? How would you know? Leave aside the pervs and the creeps, and wonder why people are so different? Probably they don’t like who they are. Are there other reasons?

I am more upbeat and more outgoing online than I am in person. Also more athletic. But I am still me. Are you?

Then again, I meet a lot of “real” people who are much more like avatars than human beings. High school can be like that but so can churches and synagogues. In HS, you understand that we’re all still becoming who we will grow up to be, and so it’s OK to try on new interests and new styles. But new personalities? No thank you!

But there are also a lot of adults, way past 20 or 25 adults, who act more like internet avatars than actual humans. I know someone who calls the Stepford Wives. They’re pretty scary, and sometimes it hurts to find out who the human being underneath actually is.

In 2008 I want to become a little more like my online avatar, and I want her to become a little more like me.

Corporations can be very good for a country because they employ people, create things, sell things, and provide services. But there can be problems when corporations have too much influence over government and when they refuse to negotiate with unions or use union workers. John Edwards is the democratic candidate who is talking the most about corporate greed and the problems that it can cause. Here’s part of an article from Huffington Post that explains what he said in Iowa on Friday.

While Edwards has consistently campaigned on an economically populist program, his speech today in Dubuque was marked by a noticeable ratcheting up and radicalization of his critique of corporate wealth and power.

“Why on earth would we expect the corporate powers and their lobbyists, who make billions by selling out the middle-class, to just give up their power because we ask them nicely?” Edwards asked. He made no mention of rivals Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in today’s speech; in the past, he has slammed Clinton for being too indebted to powerful Washington lobbies.

Edwards is in the midst of a final 38-county push to win next Thursday’s Iowa caucuses. Even his own supporters will concede that taking Iowa is a do-or-die must for a campaign running third in national polls, but in a virtual dead heat in the Hawkeye State with rivals Clinton and Obama.

Nestled on the gritty Illinois border, Dubuque has been hit hard by the collapse in American manufacturing jobs and offers itself as a perfect venue for Edwards’ message of economic fairness. The local Flexsteel plant has lost about two-thirds of its 800 jobs over the past decade. Paper maker Georgia Pacific, another big employer in town, has also been hit hard by job exports.

“Iowa has lost twice as many jobs to unfair trade deals than it’s won in the so-called technological revolution,” Edwards adviser Dave “Mudcat” Saunders told the HuffPost before today’s event started. “What kind of revolution is that?” Saunders said Edwards would stay on his message of opposing “unchecked greed” and that it was a theme that resonated deeply throughout the state.


Merry Christmas if that’s your kind of thing to celebrate.  If not, just look at the cute animals that do.

cat in a santa hat

puppy in christmas stocking

humbug cat

puppy reindeer

This is a great game that helps teach vocabulary and also raises money for giving rice to hungry people. I’ll be ready for the SAT’s in no time!

Click here to play.

So, the new research on sex education shows that if y’all bother to teach us the real facts of sex education, we tend to be more responsible about sex and even to wait longer before we start.  So, of course the right wingers prefer not to teach us and just hope we do what they think is right.  Smart?  NO!  But it lets them bury their head in the sand so more teens can get sexually transmitted diseases and become pregnant.

This is what CarpetbaggerReport says about it:

Abstinence-only fails, sex ed doesn’t

The WaPo reported the other day that at least 14 states have “either notified the federal government that they will no longer be requesting [sex education] funds or are not expected to apply,” because the Bush administration mandates abstinence-only lessons in public schools receiving the funding.

“We’re concerned about this,” said Stan Koutstaal of the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program. “My greatest concern about states dropping out is that these are valuable services and programs. It’s the youths in these states who are missing out.”

Actually, that’s backwards. The youths are better off with actual sex-ed.

Teenagers who have had formal sex education are far more likely to put off having sex, contradicting earlier studies on the effectiveness of such programs, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

They found teenage boys who had sex education in school were 71 percent less likely to have intercourse before age 15, and teen girls who had sex education were 59 percent less likely to have sex before age 15.

Sex education also increased the likelihood that teen boys would use contraceptives the first time they had sex, according to the study by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“Sex education seems to be working,” Trisha Mueller, an epidemiologist with the CDC who led the study, said in a statement. “It seems to be especially effective for populations that are usually at high risk.”

Whaddaya know; giving young people reliable, accurate information about sexual health leads to safer, more responsible behavior. Who would have guessed?

And on the flip side, we have the Bush administration’s approach.

Programs that focus exclusively on abstinence have not been shown to affect teenager sexual behavior, although they are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a study released by a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce teen pregnancies.

“At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners” among teenagers, the study concluded. […]

The study found that while abstinence-only efforts appear to have little positive impact, more comprehensive sex education programs were having “positive outcomes” including teenagers “delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use.”

“Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavior effect,” said the report.

Bush has routinely talked, in other contexts, about funding “what works.” If only he meant it.

What age is old enough to have sex? When are we old enough to have babies? Is statutory rape a fair law? Is a 9th grade girl with a 19-year-old boyfriend different from two high school seniors, one at 17 and one 19? What about kids who come from countries where lots of people get married and have kids at 15 or 16?

I have 2 friends that have had babies in HS. One is 16 now and already has two kids and the other is 17. The 16-yr-old lives with her 22-yr-old boyfriend and the 17-yr-old is living with her mom and her sister and the baby. They’re both Christian (one is Catholic), and neither one is married. My friend who has two kids will probably drop out of school — she hardly comes now.

I don’t know if my friends chose to keep their babies instead of have an abortion or put the baby for adoption because they are Christian or if that is just what they chose. Being Christian didn’t stop them from having sex. And what passes for sex education in Texas did not keep them from having sex, but it may have kept them from using condoms.

Are these the kind of conversations America will have now that Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant? Or will it all be about celebrity?

What is the “responsibility” that Nickelodeon is praising her for? Is that about her not having an abortion? Because getting pregnant at 16 is not very responsible.

Britney Spears’ baby sister is pregnant

Another Spears baby is reportedly on the way – and it’s not Britney’s.

Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old star of Nickelodeon’s “Zoey 101” and kid sister of Britney, told OK! magazine that she is pregnant and that the father is her boyfriend, Casey Aldridge.

“It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected,” said Spears, who is 12 weeks along.

After going to a doctor, she said, “I took two weeks to myself where I didn’t tell anybody.”

She broke the news to her mother, Lynne, just before Thanksgiving, the magazine reported.

“She was very upset,” Spears said, “because it wasn’t what she expected at all. A week after, she had time to cope with it and became very supportive.”

Lynne Spears, already grandmother to Britney’s two young sons, told the magazine: “I didn’t believe it, because Jamie Lynn’s always been so conscientious. She’s never late for her curfew. I was in shock. I mean, this is my 16-year-old baby.”

Jamie Lynn plans to raise the baby in her home state of Louisiana – “so it can have a normal family life,” she says.

Nickelodeon released a statement, saying in part: “We respect Jamie Lynn’s decision to take responsibility in this sensitive and personal situation.”

Good for these parents and these students!  I know that I have gone to all great schools, much better than a lot of them in Texas.  You should be able to get a great education even if you are poor, and I hope these families win their lawsuit.

Suit seeks to stop HISD’s $805 million bond sale

By ERICKA MELLON Houston Chronicle

A group of students and parents have filed a federal lawsuit against
the Houston school district, alleging persistent discrimination against
poor and minority children and asking a judge to stop the sale of bonds
for new school construction.

The parents, joined by several black politicians and ministers who
opposed the school district’s November bond election, announced this
morning that they filed the lawsuit late Friday.

“As a parent, I believe Dr. King once said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a
threat to justice everywhere,'” said Ann Tillis, one of the parents who
filed the lawsuit. “And so today I come to serve notice to HISD that no
longer will my child, or any child in HISD, be treated with such
educational injustice.”

Houston Independent School District officials said the lawsuit is “without merit.”

“As we would with any legal action, we take this filing seriously,”
the district’s lawyer, Elneita Hutchins-Taylor, said in a written
statement. “However, this lawsuit is without merit and we will move
right away to have it dismissed so that we can get on with the business
of building schools for children.”

Voters narrowly approved HISD’s $805 million bond package last month.

Now, I would NEVER wear these but if I was on the borderline of passing science and needed a bribe gift for my teacher …. hmmmm ….. maybe. Who else would wear them?

table of elements socks

image from Oh Gizmo!

Governor Perry in IowaWhy is it that the newspaper quotes politicians or any people without fact checking or making them justify their opinions. If Governor Perry wrote sentences like the following on a paper in my history class, he’d get a 50 for failing to provide any evidence at all for his opinions. But the Austin-American Statesman quotes things he said at a party and acts like he’s making sense.

Perry predicted too that if Democrats prevail next year, the war on terrorism will return to U.S. soil.

No evidence offered.

Then this:

And although Giuliani would keep up the war on terrorism, Perry said, “if we elect the Democrats across the board, the war on terror is not going away. It’s just going to have to happen here. And I want the war, and I want the conflict, to be over there in their country. I want to stop it over there before they get back over here.”

First of all — Mr. Governor Good Hair, which is “their country”? Saudi Arabia (like 15 of the 19 9-11 terrorists)? Iran? Iraq? Syria? Mexico?

Second of all — Dear Editor, why do you print the governor’s comments without some commentary about how outrageous they are?

Finally, who cares about the governor’s opinions about terrorism anyway?

I had family stuff this weekend and I am still working on too many school projects.  No time for politics till the 19th or 20th.  So, instead, cute animal photos:

worried kitty in box

baby polar bear secrets

kitty is too small vegan cat does not want mouse

I am not sure when the Texas primary is, but it’s really clear that we have NO CHOICES AT ALL. Look at this!

So far in Texas, it’s John Edwards or nobody

By AMAN BATHEJASo far, Texas primary voters will have two choices for president on March 4: John Edwards and none of the above.

The former senator from North Carolina is the only candidate to have filed as a candidate for president in Texas.

The filing period for next year’s primary began Monday. It ends Jan. 2.

A few more Democrats and Republicans are certain to file for president in the coming days.

More than 30 local incumbents are also up for re-election next year.

Several incumbents, including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, State Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth, and state Reps. Paula Pierson, D-Arlington, and Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, have attracted challengers.

Office Incumbent Who’s filed
President George W. Bush (R) cannot run for re-election. John Edwards(D)
U.S. Senator John Cornyn(R) Rick Noriega (D); Larry Kilgore (R)
U.S. Representative, District 6 Joe Barton(R) Barton
U.S. Representative, District 12

Please note that exam week us coming up and I have two projects to finish as well, so a lt less writing until Dec 20.