3 million US students don’t have access to internet at home

❝ With no computer or internet at home, Raegan Byrd’s homework assignments present a nightly challenge: How much can she get done using just her smartphone?

On the tiny screen, she switches between web pages for research projects, losing track of tabs whenever friends send messages. She uses her thumbs to tap out school papers, but when glitches keep her from submitting assignments electronically, she writes them out by hand…

❝ She is among nearly 3 million students around the country who face struggles keeping up with their studies because they must make do without home internet. In classrooms, access to laptops and the internet is nearly universal. But at home, the cost of internet service and gaps in its availability create obstacles in urban areas and rural communities alike.

Please, don’t waste time patting yourself on the back because you did homework BITD by hand before the Internet existed, blah, blah, blah. I’m older than probably 99% of folks on the Web nowadays and I wouldn’t go back to what was available when I was a high school senior in 1954/55 on a bet.

I’ve been online for 36 years and I wouldn’t go back to all the previous means for information search and retrieval for any reason. Books are great, TV and film helps, any number of sources perform well – when available. And with decent broadband access, available means more information is ready to access than you can dream of. For a school age child, nowadays, the Web is the best choice there is.

Then you have to deal with all the reasons it isn’t available for lots of folks, lots of schoolchildren. Starting with cost.

Comeback of the Century


Best Example

❝ In the digital age, the printed book has experienced more than its share of obituaries. Among the most dismissive was one from Steve Jobs, who said in 2008, “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”

True, nearly one in four adults in this country has not read a book in the last year. But the book — with a spine, a unique scent, crisp pages and a typeface that may date to Shakespeare’s day — is back. Defying all death notices, sales of printed books continue to rise to new highs, as do the number of independent stores stocked with these voices between covers, even as sales of electronic versions are declining.

❝ Nearly three times as many Americans read a book of history in 2017 as watched the first episode of the final season of “Game of Thrones.” The share of young adults who read poetry in that year more than doubled from five years earlier. A typical rage tweet by President Trump, misspelled and grammatically sad, may get him 100,000 “likes.” Compare that with the 28 million Americans who read a book of verse in the first year of Trump’s presidency, the highest share of the population in 15 years.

❝ So, even with a president who is a historic, borderline literate and would fail a sixth-grade reading comprehension test, something wonderful and unexpected is happening in the language arts. When the dominant culture goes low, the saviors of our senses go high.

RTFA. Short, to the point, illustrative.

I have personal feelings about the subversive reappearance and growth of documentary film, as well. I think this growth parallels the growth in books. Personally, I’m tired to death of all the Murphy Brown wannabes who think the only thing called news is in the “magazine format”. The same topics, of course, on every other magazine format “news” show the whole damned day.

I think some of us really miss learning stuff.

Over 34,000 cases of measles in last two months in Eastern Europe

❝ More than 34,000 people across Europe caught measles in the first two months of 2019, with the vast majority of cases in Ukraine, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday as it urged authorities to ensure vulnerable people get vaccinated.

❝ The death toll among 34,300 cases reported across 42 countries in the WHO’s European region reached 13, with the virus killing people in Ukraine – which is suffering a measles epidemic – as well as in Romania and Albania. The risk is that outbreaks may continue to spread, the WHO warned.

❝ Measles is a highly contagious disease that can kill and cause blindness, deafness or brain damage. It can be prevented with two doses of an effective vaccine, but – in part due to pockets of unvaccinated people – it is currently spreading in outbreaks in many parts of the world including in the United States, the Philippines and Thailand…

There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles, and vaccination is the only way to prevent it, the WHO said. Most cases are in unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people.

And if the anti-vaxxers get their political way, we will return to the days of my childhood. Every spring my fellow students would gather in the schoolyard first warm day – look around to see who died or was unable to resume school from one or another disease.

And then we waited for polio in the summer.

Image of muscles and milk ducts goes viral


I think this image is even more beautiful [click to enlarge]

A Twitter user shared an image of these flower-like muscles. The milk-making glands are divided into segments and the narrow tubes – or ducts – carry the milk from each segment to the nipple…

The image went viral in a matter of days and has more than 130,000 likes and counting.

❝ However, it was the act of breastfeeding that broke the ice. Some people managed to see the natural beauty within the flower-like ducts.

Which was exactly my reaction. Not certain what are the reasons for some to be upset about this. This is part of how women evolved. It ain’t porn, folks.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Barcelona has a plan to take back streets from cars

❝ What I found was more fascinating than anything I could have imagined: not just an urban plan, but a vision for a different way of living in the 21st century, one that steps back from many of the mistakes of the auto-besotted 20th century, refocusing on health and community. It is a bigger and more ambitious city plan than anything being discussed in America and, more important, a plan that is actually being implemented, with a few solid pilot projects behind it, a list of lessons learned, and a half-dozen new projects in the works.

❝ There’s no guarantee Barcelona can follow through on its outsized aspirations; it faces the same political cross-currents and commercial pressures of any other big city. (Municipal elections on May 26 will provide a crucial test for the plan.)

But it is also, by virtue of its history, character, and circumstances, uniquely well positioned to push back the tide of cars. Other cities seeking to reduce pollution, prepare for climate change, and restore a sense of community have much to learn, not only from what Barcelona has done so far, but also from what it’s able to do next.

We’re pretty settled into our family-built hacienda in a small community just outside of Santa Fe. But, for many reasons, I should note that Barcelona is one of those world-class cities truly worth considering for someone who prefers the spirit of urban living – in a city willing to lead the way into the future.