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Obama’s Facebook Feed, Glenn Beck’s Decline, Teens Down on Sex, Subversive Seuss: The Live Wire

| March 4, 2011

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Murder of a Repo Man

From the St. Augustine Record: “The 1000 residential block of State Road 16 was quiet Thursday after the deadly events of Wednesday night, when one man was killed, another sent to the hospital and a third taken to the St. Johns County jail — all over a $400 overdue bill. Neighbors say that Jesse Elrode Ramirez, 51, who’s lived in a small home at 1040 S.R. 16 with his wife for more than two years, is violent. Violent enough to shoot at two men from a local repossession company that came to his home Wednesday evening to tow away his truck over a $400 payment, said Sgt. Chuck Mulligan, spokesman for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Ramirez’s next door neighbor, who is deaf, said she saw him step outside his house with a handgun and shoot at two men standing near a tow truck. […] Wilfred Rivera, 48, and Delbert Charles Power Jr., 31, both of Jacksonville, were shot as they tried to tow away Ramirez’s car. Rivera was pronounced dead at the scene while Power was airlifted to Shands Jacksonville. […] The two men worked for Atco//Bennett Recoveries LLC, which is based in Jacksonville. ATCO/Bennett Recoveries owner Jeanne Bennett said Rivera spent 20 minutes that afternoon on the telephone with the finance company and debtor and was told Ramirez owed $400, according to The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. […] Ramirez, an unemployed cook, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder, said Kevin Kelshaw, media relations officer for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. […] He has no other criminal record in St. Johns County. The investigation is ongoing, and additional gun-related charges are pending, Kelshaw said.” The full story.

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  • Robert Smoley, a former mayor of North Bay Village, sentenced for online pharmaceutical drug sales

Obama’s Facebook Feed

Slate’s Christopher Beam and Chris Wilson have been running a terrific little feature of late. Obama on Facebook. Here’s a sample. And see the complete feed.


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Tribute to Jigme Norbu & Walk for Tibet Florida Completion

From the Walk for Tibet Blog: “AlterThe Walk for Tibet Florida held a bitter-sweet celebration on completion of 300 miles walked from St. Augustine to West Palm Beach February 14-26, 2011. The Final Mile walked from the downtown West Palm Beach Green Market square, and being greeted my Mayor Lois Frankel, to the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens for the Memorial Tribute to Jigme Norbu and Walk Completion Ceremony was laced with emotion for the 50-plus walkers and young skateboarders who joined in.
What a lovely environment at the Gardens- serene, beautiful and filled with love of the nearly 100 people who attended to pay tribute to Jigme and the higher values for which he ultimately gave his life: World Peace, Human Rights, Tibetan Independence & Freedom for All peoples. Thank you Cynthia Palmieri, Director and keeper of the flame that is Ann Norton’s legacy…and to all volunteers and local establishments who gave so unstintingly of their talents, time & resources to make this event so memorable. Present to share their musical gifts were LeRoy Wright- drummer, Henry Lepler-toning & crystal bowls, Jamie Defrates with his song Winterhawk. Donna Kim-Brand invited all present to Come ALIVE in their own unique ways to make our world a better place: where
A=Align with your values & higher purpose
L= be Laser Focused
I= be bold in your Imagination of what is possible
V= be a human lightning rod of Vibrational Resonace &
E= Engage with Energy & your Expertise”

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Maturity and Military Deployments

Sara Small, from Army Strong Stories: “Deployment. That one word that so many soldiers fear and look forward to all at the same time. There is the group that has had at least one if not multiple deployments to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, the ones who have deployed elsewhere like Desert Storm, Somalia, Kuwait, even North Africa. And then there are the rest of us, a suprisingly large number of soldiers who have not been deployed at all, anywhere, with about 2 or 3 years of service, PFCs and SPCs looking to make our way into the ranks of the deployed. Yes, I said our, for I too have not been deployed before. That is, until now. Let’s face it, we all joined the military knowing that there was a strong possibility that at some point we would go. […] Maturity. Many soldiers joined at the age of 18, fresh out of high school, or in their early 20s when they finally got motivated to want to do something with their lives. If you came into the Army an immature teenager, the drill sergeants were real quick to fix whatever the issue was. However, it becomes easy to go to your unit, especially Guard and Reserves, and revert right back to the irresponsible drinking, partying, blowing off school or jobs or whatever. Then you get your orders to deploy and life comes crashing down around you. At least for some. Maturity and Deployment. Two things in life that have to go hand in hand whether you realize it or not. […] Take that 18 year old soldier fresh out of AIT on his first deployment and put him (or her) in a situation where they are responsible for up to 50 detainees at a time, making sure that every one of them goes to their appointments, eats, drinks, showers, everything that we would do in the US at a correctional facility. You can not be an immature teenager more concerned with what video games are coming out or what movie is playing at the theater like you can be back home. In the shadow of Abu Ghraib, nothing is off the table. You must always do the right thing, not only because it is instilled in the Army values, but because at the end of the day, all detainees are still human beings and shall be treated as such. […] Deployment and maturity isn’t something to be feared, it is to be embraced with open arms, for it can teach you life skills that you just can’t get anywhere else. The full post.

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Teens Down On Sex

From Creative Loafing: “A study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that despite what you may think, fewer young people ages 15 to 24 are having sex than a decade ago. Respondents who claimed they’ve never had oral, vaginal or anal sex increased from 22 percent in 2002 to nearly 28 percent. Specifically, 27 percent of young men and 29 percent of young women reported having had no sexual contact.” From AP: “”It’s not even on my radar,” said 17-year-old Abbey King of Hinsdale, Ill., a competitive swimmer who starts her day at 5 a.m. and falls into bed at 10:30 p.m. after swimming, school, weight lifting, running, more swimming, homework and a volunteer gig working with service dogs for the disabled. The study, released Thursday, is based on interviews of about 5,300 young people, ages 15 to 24. It shows the proportion in that age group who said they’d never had oral, vaginal or anal sex rose in the past decade from 22 percent to about 28 percent. The findings are sure to surprise some parents who see skin and lust in the media and worry that sex is rampant. […] There are other surveys of sexual behavior, but this is considered the largest and most reliable. […] Health scientist Anjani Chandra of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described the decline in sex as small but significant. She declined to speculate on the reasons. It’s difficult to look for a trend earlier than 2002 because previous surveys did not gather as much detail about various types of sex, she added. However, data over the years on vaginal intercourse among never-married adolescents shows a steady decline since 1988. That seems to be in sync with other CDC studies showing an overall drop in teen pregnancy.”

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Condom Fumblings: Who Uses Them

Condom use by age and gender, based on percentage of past ten acts of vaginal intercourse. From the Centers for Disease Control:

Click on the image for larger view.

How to Put On a Condom:

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Guardian Music Weekly: Where Are the Protest Songs?

From the Guardian: “As a new book about the history of protest songs is released, we look at the past, present and future of the genre. Why isn’t Chris Martin protesting against the cuts in song? We find that despite arguments that protest songs are still being written, modern examples tend to be less explicit. Dorian Lynskey talks to Alexis Petridis about his new book 33 Revolutions Per Minute, which tells the history of protest music through 33 tracks. We also hear from the Agitator’s Derek Meins, who supports contemporary protest groups such as UK Uncut and the university occupations with his music; and singer Hannah Peel covers the Doors anti-Vietnam war song Unknown Soldier. Plus: Michael Hann joins Dorian and Alexis to profile the story behind tracks by Ramones, Machine and Nina Simone. Listen to the full show.

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Woody Guthrie. Click on the image for larger view.

Misinformation Is as Close As Your Inbox

From Miller-McCune: “A newly published study of Internet usage and political knowledge assuages one set of fears but raises another. R. Kelly Garrett of the Ohio State University School of Communication reports obtaining information from websites and blogs does not make people more likely to believe false rumors about prominent political figures. However, those inaccurate, often malicious reports are spreading — and gaining unwarranted credibility — through the medium of e-mail. Compared to those mentioned on websites, “rumors e-mailed to friends and family are more likely believed and shared with others,” Garrett writes in the journal Human Communications Research. […] In other words, if you read online that President Obama is a Muslim, it probably won’t have much of an impact. But if you receive the same misinformation in an e-mail from a trusted pal, there’s a better chance you’ll take it seriously. […] Garrett found both exposure to, and belief in, the false rumors was generally low. Those who used the Internet for political information were more likely to have heard or read them. But they were also more likely to have come across a rebuttal, making the net effect of this exposure on belief very small. […] However, politically minded e-mail contact between individuals did promote beliefs in false rumors, in part because the recipients were unlikely to also receive contradictory communications. […] Whatever their faults, professional journalists have the ability and inclination to check out stories for their veracity — even those they might like to be true. If we increasingly get political information from e-mail correspondents and Facebook friends who can’t or won’t distinguish truth from fiction, we’re all in trouble. Spread the word.” The full story.

The United States of Gore Vidal

From 1994, in two parts. Part 1:

Part 2:

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Dr. Seus, Subversive

Again from Miller-McCune: “A radical departure from the Dick-and-Jane reading primers of their day, The Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Seuss classics remain remarkably fresh reads. […] But however enticing the rhymes or evocative the droopy-faced drawings, the key to Dr. Seuss’ longevity is the way his tales resonate with their intended audience. In an insightful 1995 analysis in the journal Children’s Literature, Tim Wolf of Middle Tennessee State University points out a recurring theme in his books: the desperate need “to win the approval of a rejecting parent.” On the first page of Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, 1937′s And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, a father sternly tells his son: “Stop telling such outlandish tales. Stop turning minnows into whales.” […] Consider the 1960 classic Green Eggs and Ham. In Wolf’s interpretation, the unconventionally colored breakfast symbolizes a precious gift the child is trying to give his grumpy parent — a reminder of the importance of creativity and play. When the beaten-down adult finally submits to his child’s wishes and eats the oddly hued food, he experiences “a return to lost bliss.” There are fewer lines around his eyes and mouth, so he looks younger, more energetic — and more emotionally available. The child saves the parent from despair and reclaims him as a loving caregiver. That’s a hero myth most every youngster can relate to — or at least fantasize about. There was never any question about Dr. Seuss’ politics. Geisel drew editorial cartoons for a left-leaning newspaper during World War II, and several of his children’s books are allegories, tackling such social issues as prejudice (Horton Hears a Who), environmental degradation (The Lorax) and the Cold War nuclear arms race (The Butter Battle Book). Nevertheless, some conservative thinkers have claimed him as one of their own, at least to a degree. […] But the real political message of the books concerns family dynamics. Writing in 2002, Henry Jenkins, director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, asserts that Seuss “reflects a larger current in American progressivism during this period, which saw the home and family as the birthplace of a more democratic culture.” In the 1950s, the patriarchal, because-I-said-so approach to child rearing was being replaced (at least among the educated) with a different style of interaction, in which parents set boundaries for their kids, but also let them explore and experiment. Dr. Spock explained the theories; Dr. Seuss brought them to life. […] Capitalism’s dark side is the theme of his 1971 book The Lorax, which grew out of the ecology movement of the previous decade. It focuses on the Once-ler, an enterprising but morally blind businessman who chops down a forest of Truffula Trees in order to make Thneeds, a vaguely defined but highly desirable consumer product.” The full story.

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Glenn Beck’s Decline

Muting of the loudmouth

James Downie in The New Republic: “ix months ago, Glenn Beck held his “Restoring Honor” rally on the National Mall, drawing a crowd of about 100,000. Newspapers and magazines featured the rally on front pages around the country. The next month, The New York Times Magazine devoted a cover story to him. “In record time,” the piece observed, “Beck has traveled the loop of curiosity to ratings bonanza to self-parody to sage.” Just six months later, however, Beck seems to have traveled somewhere else entirely. His ratings and reputation are in steep decline: His show has lost more than one million viewers over the course of the past year, falling from an average of 2.9 million in January 2010 to 1.8 million in January 2011. He now ranks fifth among Fox’s six weekday talk hosts, trailing lesser-known personalities like Shepard Smith and Bret Baier. Beck’s three-hour radio show has been dropped in several major cities, including New York and Philadelphia, and has seen a ratings decline in most other markets. […] Beck’s commercial viability also seems to have suffered. His viewership among 25- to 54-year-olds, a prized advertising demographic, declined by almost one-half in 2010. […] His most recent non-fiction book, Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure, was his first book in eight years not to reach number one on The New York Times best-seller list. Meanwhile, as a group, prominent conservatives have seemed more willing to speak out against Beck recently. […] In recent months, it seems, Beck’s theories became so outlandish that even conservatives—both viewers and media personalities—were having a hard time stomaching them. Now, each new idea appears to be costing Beck both eyeballs and credibility. “At some point,” says [Eric] Boehlert [of Media Matters], “it doesn’t add up any more.” The full story.

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