Shaving My Head

I'm Bald!A few months ago I sent out letters challenging people that if we could raise $2,000 by June 15 I’d shave my head. As of today we’ve raised $3,935. So I’m bald.

A total of 38 families donated to the effort (some ear-marked their funds for the shaving of my facial hair). So on the eve of my 29th birthday I’m now balder than my dad.

A big thanks to everyone who supported us, including the many who donated outside the baldness campaign and those who have supported us in the many non-financial ways, which is just as important (if not more so).

You can also check out photos of the entire process. Or just watch the video.

Historic Poverty Data and Race

Historic Poverty Data 1959-2006After I wrote this I was wondering about race and poverty. I made the comment that if you’re black you’re more likely to be poor and I wondered what data backed that up. So I found historical poverty tables from the U.S. census, ranging from 1959-2006. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

In 2006:

  • 12.3% of all people were below the poverty line.
  • 10.3% of whites were below the poverty line.
  • 24.2% of blacks were below the poverty line.

Continue reading Historic Poverty Data and Race

What’s Race Got to do with Test Scores?

A new batch of Minnesota test scores were released this week. Overall it sounds like good news with 75% passing the new test. But it gets interesting as the media starts talking about the various demographics (PDF). I was listening to NPR and they started talking about the various numbers, pointing out that 82% of white students passed, while every other ethnic group saw lower numbers (Black: 41%, Hispanic: 48%, Asian: 63%, American Indian: 55%).

What does race have to do with test scores? The gap between whites and other races is startling. My initial thought was that race has nothing to do with the results, that it’s more likely socio-economic factors. Meaning if you’re black and failed the test, you weren’t more likely to fail because you were black, but because blacks are more likely to be socio-economically disadvantaged, i.e., live in poor areas and attend poor schools. It’s generational poverty. But as I’m looking into it, it seems the black-white test score gap exists regardless of socio-economic factors.

Which is kind of disturbing. What’s causing that gap? Is it institutional racism? Is it more overt racism? I don’t know. My quick Google search and 20 minutes of reading is hardly enough to even begin making me look stupid, never mind coming close to any answers.

Mississippi Town Holds First Integregated Prom

Segregation ended more than 50 years ago but a Mississippi town just held its first integrated prom. Charleston, Miss. has held separate, privately funded proms for black students and white students. Going back to 1997 actor Morgan Freeman, who lives in Charleston, has offered to pay for an integrated prom. This year school officials finally took him up on the offer.

The prom went off without incident and the school is planning to do it again next year. It’s a major step forward even though “some white parents wouldn’t let their kids go, and some insisted on holding a private prom for their kids.”

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never lived in the South and don’t really understand it, but—what?! This is kind of insane. I’m glad to see some forward progress, but taking until 2008 to hold your first interracial prom? Wow. And a bigger wow that some parents wouldn’t let their kids go.

For anyone who doesn’t think racism is still firmly entrenched in society, there you go. (And it’s worth pointing out that I’m not saying racism is only in the South. It’s just more obvious in the South. A black woman once said she’s rather live in the South where you know who hates you, as opposed to the North where people act nice to hide the fact that they hate you.) (link via jonforeman)

Repeal Big Oil Subsidies

With gas over $4 per gallon and big oil companies raking in record profits, why are politicians pitching complicated ideas like a windfall profits tax? Wouldn’t it be easier to just repeal the billions of dollars in oil subsidies?

I’m not very up on any of this which is why I’m asking the question. But it just seems silly to me that American consumers are whining about paying $4.09 per gallon at the pump, politicians are wringing their hands about gas prices and coming up with silly ideas like a gas tax holiday—yet all the while we’re shoveling billions of dollars worth of subsidies directly into the pockets of oil companies.

St. Paul Sculptural Complex is Torn Down

The Late St. Paul Sculptural Complex by George SugarmanA sculpture by George Sugarman that has graced a downtown St. Paul corner since 1971 is being torn down. A potential million-dollar masterpiece, “St. Paul Sculptural Complex” was left out when the building was sold and is being removed and shipped to Austin, Texas for restoration and reinstallation.

And if you want to say goodbye, you better hurry. The 44-piece sculpture is at least halfway down as of tonight.

“This is just wrong, so wrong,” Public Art St. Paul founder Christine Podas Larson told the Star Tribune. Her organization raised $20,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to save the sculpture. (link via Across the Great Divide)

10,000 Flickr Photos

So this weekend my Flickr account surged past the 10,000 photo mark. Yes, I’m addicted. Currently I have a total of 10,098 photos that have been viewed 127,872 times.

  • 4,018 of those photos feature my daughter.
  • 1,880 feature art.
  • 1,133 feature my wife.
  • 914 feature me.
  • The most popular all time picture is The Wife Who Needed Spanking, which isn’t technically a picture (it’s a scan of an old newspaper and proof that the Internet is full of sickos—then again, I posted it).
  • The photo with the most comments (6, I don’t get many comments) is also not a photo, it’s a scan of a newsletter. After that it’s a tie for 1970s in-laws and the reviled Spruce Tree Building.
  • 1,476 of my photos have never been viewed (at least “viewed” as Flickr counts it).

Yay for online photos.

$2 Million Stairway

Stairs to the BluffI recently heard that the stairway on Wabasha Street that climbs the bluffs on St. Paul’s West Side was being torn down. The stairway, built in 1916 and known as the Green Stariway, suffered damage when a massive limestone rock fell 80 feet from the top of the bluff and slammed into the stairway. Due to structural damage the stairway was closed and removed.

It’s sad to see such an iconic and convenient stairway go.

It’s the latest addition to the “crumbling infrastructure” line politicians are pitching right now (6 bridges in Minnesota are closed or restricted right now). But what’s funny is that city engineers have been requesting funding to replace the bridge for 20 years. Annual maintenance on the stairway has cost $16,000 per year and in 2007 approximately $60,000 was spend for maintenance rehabilitation. There’s currently a funding request being considered to rebuild the stairway for $2 million.

Those are some pricey stairs.

Twitter, Plurk, Bless You

I’ve been using the mini-blog/messaging app Twitter a lot lately. You could say I’m addicted. I’ve also noticed that while Twitter has had problems in the past few weeks, lots of folks are checking out competitors like Plurk. I’m not a super-techie so maybe I’m missing this, but I want to know when someone is going to come up with a non-exclusive standard for the thing we do that I call Twittering.

Meaning, a bunch of years ago was one of the main blogging tools in town, but they weren’t the only one in town. You could still blog without them and read blogs without them. The medium triumphed, not necessarily the Blogger brand (and I imagine a lot of the usability of the blog brand has to do with RSS, yet another standard).

I want to see the same thing happen with Twitter. I want the medium to triumph, not just Twitter or Plurk or whoever. I don’t have time to reinvest in a new platform every so many months and it seems stupid to spread users of this medium across multiple platforms. I should be able to get messages from all my friends regardless of their system (hmm, kind of like cell phones). I’m not sure when, if or how that’s going to happen, but I hope it does.

Rapture Notification System

I saw this mentioned earlier this week but didn’t pay any attention to it until I saw the url:

For $40 per year you can join a rapture notification system that will notify your heathen friends and family that Jesus has returned and taken you back to heaven with him and those punk sinners have a second chance:

We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the “Rapture” of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.

Wow. I know Christians are wacky, but come on. All that’s missing is the Timothy LaHaye endorsement, maybe a free copy of Left Behind when you sign up.

My favorite part is that the whole thing is triggered when their team members fail to log in. I can just see the rapture false alarms that will cause untold panic (and laughter). Or perhaps “This is a test of the emergency rapture system…”

(link via wide_awake)