Month: March 2010

Flooding in Providence

Thus far we’ve gotten 7.2 inches of rain and it hasn’t stopped yet. Did get a brief respite this afternoon but we’re getting more rain this evening.

The first indication that something isn’t quite right:

Atwells Ave Flooding
Atwells Ave Flooding

You can see the section of Atwells Ave, right next to the fire station, that the river is overflowing. Now keep in mind this river runs about 3+ feet below grade level almost all the times so this means there is about a 4 foot swell.

In this shot you can see the river in the left hand background.

Parking Lot
Parking Lot

Here is where Eagle St. connects to Valley St. There’s a reason they call it Valley St btw.

Eagle St
Eagle St

They’ve already declared state of emergencies in most counties in RI including Providence. They’re saying this is a flood you get once every hundred years.

And now I’m hearing this is a 500 year flood. Interesting.

Here’s the DOT map of flooding:

DOT Flood Map
DOT Flood Map

Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a walk over to the barrier and get pix there.

Great Frank Rich Op-Ed in the NYT

Click here and read the Op-Ed. It summarizes what I’ve said ever since Obama became a candidate for President.

Short summary – all of the Tea Party, or as I like to call them Tea Bagger rage is rooted in racism. Even though Obama is half white they’ll still apply the old one drop rule. I dare say that if you know about what genetic scientists have been doing, we ALL have at least ‘one drop’. I’m talking about the likelihood that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa.

And here is what I’ve always said ever since Obama became a candidate for the presidency.

If you really want to bring out the racists, the misogynists, homophobes and general bigots against the disable and the poor, run a disabled, black lesbian. You cover all of it in one swoop.

An interesting Saturday Morning

So early (9AM) this morning I got a tour of the West Broadway School and the Asa Messer School.

It was sponsored by the WSPEC, WBNA and NOMADS (Ok, lets break em’ down: West Side Public Education committee, West Broadway Neighborhood Association, and I cannot for the life of me decipher or remember what NOMADS means!).

Apparently the Providence School Department is looking to shuffle things up and re-open the West Broadway school on Bainbridge Ave. in the city. So we went to brainstorm about what we want to see in schools.

One woman was adamantly opposed to splitting k-2 and 3-5 between two buildings that are one half mile apart The reason being, she has siblings that are only two grades apart, on in 1st the other in 3rd. But here is my point, the schools (West Broadway and Asa Messer) are only about .4 miles apart. A healthy adult can walk that in < 10 minutes, a child maybe 12-15 minutes.

I don't buy her arguments. I also heard that West Broadway was closed due to egress issues. The main reason, because younger kids move a little bit slower they didn't want them trampled by the older kids. My experience going to a K-8 Catholic school says you had regular fire drills and you showed kids how to evacuate the building in orderly fashion.

Another thing that came out was maximum class sizes. The number of students per classroom suggested by groups was 14 to 18. Right now the range is 20 to 26, hence my astonishment because in the Catholic schools they really pack em' in at 40 kids to a classroom. .

A couple of the groups brought up better math and science curricula. But as I alluded t in another post reading is a big problem. I even brought that up with the newest member of the Providence School Board who I believe is Kathleen Crain.

It was noted by several people that attendance at this forum was for the most part white people. Not only very white but older. I often wonder why it is we don't see the people in our community at these things.

Other pols in attendance, city councilman and candidate for mayor John Lombardi, Rep. Steven Costantino (D District 8 – Federal Hill, Broadway), Rep. Anastasia Williams (D District 9 – Western end of the city toward upper south side).
and Sen. Paul Jabour (D District 5, downtown, Federal Hill, Olneyville) and if I missed anyone my apologies.

Some interesting things came out of the brainstorm. Greater use of technology, an outdoor garden space (You can do it indoors too!) and more arts and music programs were suggested. We've gotten far away from that in the quest to make the test these days. And there really isn't any room to hire and art or music teacher. It's sad but it's the reality of education in the 21st century.

Tech: Maybe a class action against Apple?

I’m considering starting a class action against Apple under ADA statutes.

The reason, I have hearing problems. I love my Motorola S9’s because it gets the sound right to the eardrum but I’m miffed that Apple doesn’t support the track select or microphone in the 2G iPod Touch running the iPhone OS 3.1.3. With the recent introduction of Line-2 (A cheap, $15 a month solution for voice telephony when in range of Wifi) I’d like to use the earphones I paid for in that fashion. And since I have hearing problems, the use of the S9’s is pretty much required.

So what say you all? We really need to knock Apple’s “We do no wrong” attitude to the curb.

Education: RI shouts that 4th and 8th graders are proficient in reading*

*But the reality is far from what they would have you believe is the truth.

If you wish you can go the NEAP site and drill down for your state.

I’m going to focus on 8th grade students in Rhode Island since that is where I live. The reason I care about this is that when I get older these are the people that are going to be in charge and if they can’t read, I don’t think we’re going to be very well off since if you can’t read and understand what it is you’re reading, you will not be able to tell when for example corporations write legislation that benefits said corporations and not the people.

So first let us look at the overall RI scores for reading as opposed to National. RI is the lighter shade of blue on the graph:

RI Overall 8th Grade Reading compared to National
RI Overall 8th Grade Reading compared to National

Statistically speaking RI pretty much matches the national standards for 8th grade reading. The rates are abysmal btw. In other words a little less that 2/3’s of 8th graders on a national and RI level cannot read at even a basic level.

Where it gets more interesting is when you break RI down by racial categories, Black, Hispanic and White. A disturbing trend emerges.

RI Breakdown for Black 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for Black 8th Grade Students

How is it that 50%, or HALF of Black students are below basic reading skill levels in the 8th grade? This makes no sense whatsoever, ostensibly students speak English as their first language so how is it they’re failing at such high levels? Could it possibly be economic in nature, you bet your sweet ass that it probably is.

But more astonishing, look at the scores for Hispanic students.

RI Breakdown for Hispanic 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for Hispanic 8th Grade Students

They’re roughly the same as for Black students. Except some Hispanic students have the language barrier to break through. But even they’ve made some progress, a 9 point difference from 2007 to 2009, more interesting it the 5 point jump in at or above proficient.

If you want my opinion ESL is a joke. They give a child 3 years of ESL and expect them to be fluent in the language. I had three years of high school Spanish and I’m nowhere near fluent though getting better since I started studying Italian.

To expect that a kid is going to be fluent in 3 years is ludicrous.

And just for reference, here are the scores for white kids:

RI Breakdown for White 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for White 8th Grade Students

A bit over a quarter of white kids can’t read at a basic level. This goes to economic issues. So long as we have such a wide gap in income, we’ll have poorly educated children.

It’s almost as if this is by design. Imagine if all groups were above the 50% mark for proficient. It would be a very different world. And RI needs to tone down the accolades for itself. They’re doing a mediocre job at best.

Tech: Tame Firefox Memory Usage

There used to be a memory fix for older versions of Firefox 2 but when 3 came around the folks at Mozilla felt confident it’d be better at memory management. They were wrong. It did stuttering wonders to iTunes because Firefox and iTunes are the two biggest memory users.

Well, now there’s Memory Fox. It’s reduced my Firefox memory usage from over 200MB down to 100MB. It just flushes the memory on a constant basis that way the turds that Firefox leaves don’t accumulate and cause your system to do stuttering wonders.

TMI #229 – The Spring Edition

1. With warm weather on the horizon, what outdoor activity are you most looking forward to?

Not having to bundle up like Nanook of the fucking North to go for a walk.

2. Ever found any strange items while Spring cleaning? If so, what?

The odd bit of electronic devices. But other than that nothing truly unusual. But let me warn you, you have never experience pain until you’ve stepped on a 40 pin IC laying pins up and you’ve got nothing but socks on your feet. Ouch!

3. Daylight savings time was this month…what were you doing when you lost an hour?

Surfing the web.

4. What are some weird home remedies that you have tried to cure allergies or seasonal colds?

I’m a great believer in better living through chemistry so I’ll stick to the OTC medications.

5. If you could change the tune of the ice cream truck to any song, which would you change it to and why?

Shake Your Rump to the Funk by the Bar-Kays.

Or maybe Shake Your Groove Thing by Peaches and Herb

But then how about this:

Bonus (optional): What’s your craziest Spring Break memory? Explain.

Never did the spring break thing.