Archive for July, 2012

Mister Rogers and Bob Ross Remixes

PBS Digital Studios has done very respectful remixes of these two venerated television icons. Both videos captute the essence of the messages these men conveyed. It is nice to see them again, this time in a modern guise. Just as relevant as the first time around.

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Federal Spending on Children, 1960-2011

This important report from the Urban Institute – Kids’ Share 2012– examines trends in federal expenditures as they pertain to children. Included are numerous tables and charts, many having as the stating year 1960; such arrangements allow for an historical analysis of the federal government’s commitment to children, from education to health to social security payments. Looking beyond 2011, the report states: “In 2012, federal funding on children is projected to decline significantly. State funding is uncertain, but with states still recovering from the recession, it will be challenging for them to fill the gap caused by the drop in federal funding. As a result, there may be cutbacks in services.”(5) This is an important report, culling data from a wide variety of sources/programs (over one hundred) and presenting them in a coherent, easily understood fashion. It shows how the federal government’s priorities for children have shifted over the years, and what was a large program in the 1960s is not so now. A bonus section deals with state/local spending on children, but the figures only go back to 2007.(24+)

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NJCU Rated Fiscally Sound by Two Outside Sources

Fitch Ratings has given the University’s bonds an ‘A’ rating stating in part that: “This satisfactory financial performance is impressive given the fluctuations in support from the State of New Jersey (GO bonds rated ‘AA-‘ with a Stable Outlook by Fitch) and the university board’s desire to keep tuition affordable.” And another report – The Financially Sustainable University – is accompanied by an interactive graph that shows that NJCU is “financially sound.” ( To find NJCU in relation to other colleges, click on the 7% box in the bottom row. This graph is based on results from almost 1700 colleges.)

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How New Jersey’s Pension System Acts Against Younger Workers

In this report – Are Pension Reforms Helping States Attract and Retain the Best Workers? from the Urban Institute’s Program on Retirement Policy– the authors chose New Jersey’s PERS because: “New Jersey’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) illustrates how unevenly pension benefits grow over an employee’s career and tend to distort recruitment and retention.”(2) The report goes on to show how younger workers are essentially paying for the chronic underfunding of the system, and that their retirement benefits, if they stay long enough to earn them, will be drastically different from their older counterparts.(8+) This short but valuable document is supplemented with numerous charts and references. Another recently published finding also highlights New Jersey’s fiscal difficulties: the Report of the State Budget Crisis Task  Force concentrates on six states, including New Jersey: “They account for more than a third of the nation’s population and almost 40 cents of every dollar spent by state and local governments. All six states face major threats to their ability to provide basic services to the public, invest for the future, and care for the needy at a cost taxpayers will support.”(6) This report and its supporting documentation is well worth a read.

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New Jersey Natives in the 2012 Summer Olympics

There are nineteen athletes from the Garden State in this summer’s games. Information includes their sport, hometown, and a brief profile. Additional biographical details are available at this USOC site.

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Facts and Figures About the 2012 Summer Olympics in London

This 28-page booklet from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Game (LOCOG) contains a plethora of facts and figures about the Olympics and the run up to it.

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100th Birthday of Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)

Prolific songwriter, poet and letter writer, Woody Guthrie is enshrined in the pantheon of American folksingers, and his thirst for social justice has inspired countless others.  His “This Land is Your Land is considered by many our second national anthem. A good biography of him is found here; his daughter Nora’s recollections of him are here. An 1940 interview with Guthrie can be heard here. Lyrics to hundreds of songs are also available. You can also read some of his letters at this Library of Congress site – Woody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song: Correspondence, 1940-1950, along with a timeline and thematic essay.  YouTube has a goodly number of videos either featuring his music, or others discussing/performing his works. A great informative site is at Times Topics – Woody Guthrie; it can be complemented by this NPR section on Guthrie.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

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