Archive for April, 2010

Quality of the Air You Breathe

How’s the air quality in Hudson County? How about an F? At least that is what the American Lung Association’s 2010 State of the Air reports. (In fact, the entire state of New Jersey rates an F while North Dakota merits an A.)You can find the worst cities as well as the best cities with regards to the level of air pollution. Eight of the top ten smoggiest cities are located in California; the New York area comes in at sixteen. Spare the air!

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Foreign Language Speakers in the U.S.

Did you, gentle reader, know that Poughkeepsie, N.Y. contains the second-largest group of Yiddish speakers in this country? Or that Minneapolis contains the largest concentration of Hmong speakers? These data and others are found in Language Use in the United States: 2007 from the Census Bureau. This information used to be collected with the decennial census, but now it is garnered via the annual American Community Survey. Accompanied by charts (which are a little difficult to read for those who have color-blindness) and statistics, this report delves into the rapidly expanding foreign language presence in this country. Not only are concentrations pinpointed, but one can also ascertain the dispersal of foreign language speakers; i.e., the older the foreign language is to this country, the more dispersed among the population it is. German, French, and the Scandanavian languages, which were here before there was a United States, span the country and are not concentrated in limited areas.(p.11)

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Disparities in Health Care

This report – 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report – states quite unequivocally that “Many disparities are not disppearing.”(5) The following 300 pages are filled with graphs and statistics highlighting the poor care being given to the Asian, AI/AN(American Indian/Alaska Native), Black, Hispanic and Disabled populations. These disturbing numbers are reinforced by the just released NCHS Data Brief – Hypertension, High Serum Total Cholesterol, and Diabetes: Racial and Ethnic Prevalence Differences in U.S. Adults, 1999-2006. Please read Who Is at Greatest Risk for Receiving Poor-Quality Health Care? (New England Journal of Medicine); Relationship Between the Quality of Care and Racial Disparities in Medicare Health Plans (JAMA); Delays in Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment by Racial/Ethnic Group (Archives of Internal Medicine); Measuring Trends in Mental Health Care Disparities, 2000-2004 (Psychiatric Services); and Measuring Trends in Racial/Ethnic Health Care Disparities (Medical Care Research and Review).

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2010 NEA Almanac of Higher Education

This annual volume has chapters on faculty salaries(with an enlightening comparison between salaries secured through collective bargaining and those not), women professors, labor negotiations and arbitration, among others. Volumes back to 1996 can also be accessed.

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40th Anniversary of Earth Day

“Earth Day can–and it must–lend a new urgency and a new support to solving the problems that still threaten to tear the fabric of this society….Environment is all of America and its problems. It is rats in the ghetto. It is a hungry child in a land of affluence. It is housing that is not worthy of the name….” So spoke then-Senator Gaylord Nelson, the passionate founder of Earth Day, on April 22, 1970. Earth Day has evolved over time from teach-ins to “going green.” However, concern for the environment and its conservation are not  20th century phenomena. The Library of Congress has some excellent resources that provide needed background information: Documentary Chronology of Selected Events in the Development of the American Conservation Movement, 1847-1920 (with links to original sources); and The Evolution of the American Conservation Movement, 1850-1920 (containing historical full text documents). John Burroughs, a native New Yorker, was one of the country’s most influential nature writers. He befriended both John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt and spent time hiking and camping with them.  His writings can be found here and here. Other names not to be ignored include John Muir, a Scot immigrant who became our most ardent conservationist and helped found the Sierra Club; many of his writings are available online. Muir was the head of a group called the Preservationists who wanted the land left pristine; he was opposed by the Conservationists led by Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Service, who believed in managed use of our natural resources. Their divergent views came to a head during the Hetch Hetchy Dam controversy, a landmark event in conservation history. This occurred during the Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. Among other accolades bestowed on him, he is considered our first environmentally-minded chief executive. Some of his writings are available online. An excellent bibliography – Conservation, Preservation, and Environmental Activism: A Survey of the Historical Literature – should be perused.

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2010 New Jersey School Board/Budget Elections Results

Most of  Hudson County‘s  results are here; btw,  Jersey City’s school budget was approved. Other counties’ results, including Essex, are here and here. An interactive map of northern New Jersey counties has the election results along with a narrative for each school district.

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NASA Satellite Photos of the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano

The whole series of rather amazing photos are here. Click on each image for additional narrative information, hyperlinks,  and references.

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