Archive for August, 2011

Full Text of Steve Jobs’ Resignation Letter

It can be found here.

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Preparing for a Hurricane

This site from FEMA offers much solid advice. And if anyone should know about hurricanes, it is the folks from Louisiana; therefore this site from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness should also be consulted. Updated information on Sandy is available from the National Hurricane Center. Having lived through too many natural and manmade disasters both here and abroad, we would like to add some tips that people might not think of nor are they listed in most preparedness publications: when electricity goes out in an area, that means gas stations cannot pump gas, so fill up a couple of days ahead of time; without electricity, ATMs will not work, nor will debit/credit cards at stores, so have cash available; without electricity, procuring medicines from a pharmacy will prove difficult, therefore make sure you have enough on hand to get through the aftermath of a major storm; charge your phones and other devices; make sure you have fresh batteries and a portable radio; purchase some paper plates and plastic utensils; purchase a manual can opener; buy some bags of ice ahead of time to preserve your food; you might want to invest in a charcoal grill (and of course lighter fluid, charcoal and matches) to be used outdoors if power fails;  before the storm hits, find the manual override for your automatic garage door; and remember the rule of thumb is you need a gallon of water per day per person for the bare necessities, and don’t forget your pets; and filling up your bathtub with water ain’t a bad idea either. And don’t wait until the last minute! Basic information on hurricanes is here. Long-range planning should be considered: stand-by generators; portable generators or batteries; portable submersible sump pumps; in-ground pumps; adequate number of hoses; wet vacs, to name a few options.

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Earthquakes Past and Present

New Jersey is not immune to earthquakes as can be seen in this article from the Earthquake Information Bulletin; more information on this topic is here. For those who want to look for past as well as contemporary occurrences, please visit Earthquake Search from the US Geological Survey; depending on the region of the world you are interested in, the data go back thousands of years. The USGS also maintains the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) comprised of 7000 monitoring stations around the country. In addition, go to its publications warehouse (use the “advanced search” option to limit to online publications) to view hundreds of titles on this subject.  Infoplease carries dozens of entries on earthquakes as does encyclopedia.com while HowStuffWorks has a very informative presentation on earthquakes. The largest earthquake ever to hit this country was in fact a series of  major quakes extending over several months – the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811-1812. Emanating from New Madrid, Missouri, these quakes were so powerful that church bells rang in Boston and the Mississippi River temporarily reversed its flow. A great site for eyewitness accounts and well as newspaper reporting is found at the Center for Earthquake Research and Information. There’s certainly a “Whole lotta shakin’ goin’  on.”

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Live Coverage of Events in Libya

Both the BBC and Reuters are providing real-time reportage and streaming video on what is occurring in Libya.

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2012 Presidential Candidates’ Biographies and Calendars

Although the presidential election is over a year away, potential and announced candidates have already appeared. This site from Project Vote Smart lists the candidates along with their biographies, key votes, speeches, ratings, and campaign finances. To keep up with their daily perambulations, go to the 2012 Daybook Calendar from Politico that is searchable by date, state, and candidate. And do not forget Reuters’ Factbox: Key dates in the U.S. presidential race, and C-SPAN’s Road to the White House should also be consulted for its video coverage of the candidates.

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Country Reports on Terrorism 2010

This just released annual report from the Department of State is a rather comprehensive look at terrorism throught the world.  Individual countries as well as geographic regions are scrutinized. In addition, a list of foreign terrorist organizations along with “state sponsors of terrorism” are included.

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Fact Checking New Jersey Politics

When former Governor Kean stated that he built the last nuclear plant in the country, is that true? Is it true when State Senator (and former governor) Richard Codey says that one in five families in New Jersey has a loved one with a mental illness? How much of what political figures say should we accept as true? If you are in doubt, go to PolitiFact New Jersey where statements are examined and given a rating on the Truth-O-Meter. Each statement is researched and the sources are listed, many of them linked. As election time nears in New Jersey, this site will be an important one to discern truth from half-truth or lies. You can also visit the main PolitiFact page which deals with the national stage – is that place busy! Also visit the Washington Post’s Fact Checker for additional national scrutiny.

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New Jersey Is Leaving Behind The No Child Left Behind Act

At an August 8 White House press briefing, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan labeled the NCLB thusly: “It is far too punitive. It is far too prescriptive. It led to a dumbing down of standards. It led to a narrowing of the curriculum.” He then proposed a waiver system whereby states may opt out the the testing involved in NCLB and institute their own rigorous standards. New Jersey, according to its NCLB State Report 2010, has 651 schools in need of improvement and almost every student subgroup has failed to attain “proficient” status in the areas tested. Acting Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf has written that: “…we are actively considering a waiver on the basis of these refinements.” A dated but informative review of NCLB is available from Education Week and please check out their very comprehensive and current No Child Left Behind section. And do not forget the New York Times’ special topic report either. We would be remiss if we did not mention the following  important reviews: Thomas Dee and Ben Jacob. “The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Students, Teachers, and Schools,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (Fall 2010): 149-207; and the just-released Michael Hout and Stuart Elliott, eds.  Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education. (National Academies Press, 2011. For more New Jersey-centric reports on this “slow-motion train wreck,” please read: NJ Spotlight, The Bergen Record, and  The Press of Atlantic City.

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Text of the Standard and Poor’s Downgrade of U.S. Credit

For those who wish to see the full report, you can find it here.

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How Do You Like Living in New Jersey?

The Garden State’s Quality of Life survey reveals some interesting factoids. Based on over 100 questions, this instrument contains a great deal of information: 63% of those surveyed feel New Jersey is a good to excellent place to live; 73% rate their hometowns positively. Other extrapolated reports from this survey include: New Jersey’s Quality of Life by County (where the statewide average  is +21, Morris County comes in the highest at +42 and Cumberland rates a +5); Garden State Quality of Life Varies by Race /Ethnicity (in which blacks rate the quality of  life at +3, Hispanics at +21, whites at +26, and Asians at +29); and Wealthier New Jerseyans Credit Hometowns Not State for Better Quality of Life (not surprisingly, the more you make, the better you feel). There is much relevatory data in all these reports broken down along socioeconomic lines. News articles are available in: The Star-Ledger, Cherry Hill Courier Post, Asbury Park Press, The Bergen Record, and Vineland Daily Journal.

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Online State Encyclopedias – Louisiana

KnowLA: The Encyclopedia of Lousiana History, Culture and Community is another finely produced, NEH-sponsored state reference work. Containing peer-reviewed, linked articles, KnowLA can be searched by broad categories, regions, time periods, and by keyword browsing. Articles are supplemented with suggested readings, interviews, documentaries, music, related entries, and with writings from the Louisiana Cultural Vista Magazine. This is the 18th online state encyclopedia we have found.

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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Bibliography

This bibliography lists peer-reviewed journal articles, reports, commentaries, and book chapters;  the vast majority have links to the full text. This is a preliminary version and will be updated as new writings are made available.

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Twitter Directory for Congress

We are always told to write, email, or phone your Senator or Representative to let them know where we stand on issues. You can also tweet them as well. While not everyone is listed here as of yet, a great number are; for New Jersey, you can follow the exploits of both Senators and five Representatives. Another social media directory is at govtwit.com which also has a listing of additional governmental social media sites.

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Economic Crisis – August 2011 Update

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