Thursday, August 31, 2006

Glass Half Full

Keeping it Positive

Click here for an introduction to Positive Psychology

Positive Quotes

The difference between can and cannot are only three letters. Three letters that determine your life's direction.

Being positive or negative are habits of thoughts that have a very strong influence on life.

Positive and negative are directions. Which direction do you choose?

Positive thinking is expecting, talking and visualizing with certainty what you want to achieve, as an accomplished fact.

Riches, mediocrity and poverty begin in the mind.

Reality is the mirror of your thoughts. Choose well what you put in front of the mirror.

The mind is the decisive factor in your life, but who decides for the mind?

A positive attitude brings strength, energy and initiative.

To think negatively is like taking a weakening drug.

For more positive quotes click here

A huge portion of the school reform debate in America-explicitly and implicitly—is framed around the success and failure of African-American children in school. The test-score "achievement gap" between white and black students, especially, is a driving and divisive issue. Yet the voices of prominent African-American intellectuals have been conspicuously left out of the debate about black children.

Young, Gifted, and Black sets out to reframe the terms of that debate. The authors argue that understanding how children experience the struggle of being black in America is essential to improving how schools serve them. click here for more information

Developing and Nurturing Excellence in Adolescent African American Males

The best chance of breaking these negative social and educational trends for adolescent African American males lies within the school environment and will require innovative strategies if the trend is to be reversed. Many educators, community leaders, and even some school systems believe that enrichment initiatives geared toward the special needs of young African-American males could reverse the present trend towards failure within the educational system as well as society (Johnson, 1990; Ascher, 1991). Depending on the racial break down of the student population, these enrichment initiatives over the past decade have resulted in significant changes to the curriculum and school mission or in the addition of special after school programs.

Click here for the article

African American Population

For the negative attention that African Americans recieve the numbers are embarrassing but for their contributions the numbers reflect a impressive people

The following gives the African American population in the U.S. over time, based on U.S. Census figures. (Numbers from years 1920 to 2000 are based on U.S. Census figures as given by the Time Almanac of 2005, p 377)

Year Number Percentage of total population
1790 757,208 19.3% (highest historic percentage)
1800 1,002,037 18.9%
1810 1,377,808 19.0%
1820 1,771,656 18.4%
1830 2,328,642 18.1%
1840 2,873,648 16.8%
1850 3,638,808 15.7%
1860 4,441,830 14.1%
1870 4,880,009 12.7%
1880 6,580,793 13.1%
1890 7,488,788 11.9%
1900 8,833,994 11.6%
1910 9,827,763 10.7%
1920 10.5 million 9.9%
1930 11.9 million 9.7% (lowest historic percentage)
1940 12.9 million 9.8%
1950 15.0 million 10.0%
1960 18.9 million 10.5%
1970 22.6 million 11.1%
1980 26.5 million 11.7%
1990 30.0 million 12.1%
2000 36.6 million 12.3%

Source wikipedia

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Waldo Found

Fighting Censorship: Guidelines for Libraries

After learning that an adult graphic novel was removed from the shelves of a California public library because it was deemed inappropriate for children, three national organizations are teamed up to create guidelines for librarians on handling the increasing number of graphic novels aimed at an adult audience. The National Coalition Against Censorship has joined with the American Library Association and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to create these guidelines.

Read the whole article here

Give Up! (at least for the moment)
In his latest Podcast (lucky 13) Young Adult Novelest Arthur Slade enourages would be writers not to be afraid to give up and start over or to change the direction of thier story
to hear his podcast click here

Manga for the Masses
In the latest Publishers Weekly interview Stuart Levy the CEO of Tokyopop discusses the impact of manga on the American comics market.
Click here

Waldo Found


SAN DIEGO — The Continuum continues its series of interview with the voice cast of Kids’ WB!’s Legion of Super-Heroes with Shawn Harrison, who plays Timber Wolf. You may remember Shawn as Waldo Renaldo Faldo on the long running comedy Family Matters.

The Continuum: Describe your take on your character.

Harrison: My character is Timber Wolf. And for those of you who don’t know, I have a lot of wolf-like characteristics. My father experimented on me and sort of created this ultimate machine that I ended up being.

The Continuum: You have an episode basically devoted to you?

Harrison: It’s all about the discovery of who I am and how I am introduced to the Legionnaires. And then I become part of the Legion.

The Continuum: What’s your approach to his voice?

Harrison: Whenever, I do a character, I look at the graphics first and try to visualize what I think that person sounds like. And then I’ll start to play with certain timbres and tones in my voice to try to effect the voice. With him, I knew I wanted to go with something very understated and very dark – and sort of mysterious.

The Continuum: Are you enjoying the character?

Harrison: It’s a lot of fun. This is the first animated show that I’ve ever done, so this was a whole new world for me. I remember going to auditions and I was really nervous. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the position where you think you’re going to be found to be a fraud, but that’s how I felt at auditions. “They’re going to find out I really don’t know how to do this. Oh God, oh God…”

The Continuum: Those voice recording sessions can be a lot of work.

Harrison: Right. It’s hard, but it’s also fun because we all record at the same time. We have a lot of banter going on and cracking jokes and stuff like that. So it’s fun.

The Continuum: Do you prepare for the sessions?

Harrison: You work on your material before your session. Mentally, you know what place you have to be in.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mirror Ugly

One of the greatest challenges facing our communities is the refusal to discuss what the real problems are. In his NYTimes article Bob Herbert starts that conversation

Published: August 24, 2006

I was browsing at a newsstand in Manhattan recently when I came across a magazine called Felon. It was the “Stop Snitchin’ ” issue, and the first letter to the editor began: “Yo, wassup Felon!”

Bob Herbert.

Herbert's Heroes

Another letter was from “your nigga John-Jay,” who was kind enough to write: “To my bitches, I love ya’ll.”

Later I came across a magazine called F.E.D.S., which professes to be about “convicted criminals—street thugs—music—fashion—film—etc.” The headline “Stop Snitching” was emblazoned on the cover. “Hundreds of kilos of coke,” said another headline, “over a dozen murders,” and “no one flipped.”

What we have here are symptoms of a depressing cultural illness, frequently fatal, that has spread unchecked through much of black America.

The people who are laid low by this illness don’t snitch on criminals, seldom marry, frequently abandon their children, refer to themselves in the vilest terms (niggers, whores, etc.), spend extraordinary amounts of time kicking back in correctional institutions, and generally wallow in the deepest depths of degradation their irresponsible selves can find.

In his new book, “Enough,” which is about the vacuum of leadership and the feverish array of problems that are undermining black Americans, Juan Williams gives us a glimpse of the issue of snitching that has become an obsession with gang members, drug dealers and other predatory lowlifes — not to mention the editors of magazines aimed at the felonious mainstream.

“In October 2002,” he writes, “the living hell caused by crime in the black community burst into flames in Baltimore. A black mother of five testified against a Northeast Baltimore drug dealer. The next day her row house was fire-bombed. She managed to put out the flames that time. Two weeks later, at 2 a.m. as the family slept, the house was set on fire again. This time the drug dealer broke open the front door and took care in splashing gasoline on the lone staircase that provided exit for people asleep in the second- and third-floor bedrooms.

“Angela Dawson, the 36-year-old mother, and her five children, aged 9 to 14, burned to death. Her husband, Carnell, 43, jumped from a second-story window. He had burns over most of his body and died a few days later.”

If white people were doing to black people what black people are doing to black people, there would be rioting from coast to coast. As Mr. Williams writes, “Something terrible has happened.”

When was it that the proud tradition of Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. DuBois, Harriet Tubman and Mary McLeod Bethune, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington, Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall, gave way to glossy felon magazines and a shameful silence in the face of nationally organized stop-snitching campaigns?

In an interview, Mr. Williams said: “There are so many things that we know are indicators of a crisis within the community. When you look at the high dropout rate, especially among our boys. Or the out-of-wedlock birthrate, which is really alarming. Or the high rate of incarceration.

“When you hear boys saying it’s a ‘rite of passage’ to go to jail, or the thing that is so controversial but has been going on for a while — kids telling other kids that if they’re trying to do well in school they’re trying to ‘act better than me,’ or ‘trying to act white’ — all of these are indications of a culture of failure. These are things that undermine a child or an individual who is trying to do better for himself or herself. These are things that drag you down.”

Enough, in Mr. Williams’s view, is enough. His book is a cry for a new generation of African-American leadership at all levels to fill the vacuum left by those who, for whatever reasons, abandoned the tradition of struggle, hard-won pride and self-determination. That absence of leadership has led to an onslaught of crippling, self-destructive behavior.

Mr. Williams does not deny for a moment the continued debilitating effects of racism. But racism is not taking the same toll it took a half-century ago. It is up to blacks themselves to embrace the current opportunities for academic achievement and professional advancement, to build the strong families that allow youngsters to flourish, and to create a cultural environment that turns its back on crime, ignorance and self-abasement.

More blacks are leading successful lives now than ever before. But too many, especially among the young, are caught in a crucible of failure and degradation. This needs to change. Enough is enough.

The Cultural Crisis in Black America

(5 Letters)

Published: August 28, 2006

To the Editor:

Re “A Triumph of Felons and Failure,” by Bob Herbert (column, Aug. 24): Mr. Herbert’s description of the new book “Enough,” by Juan Williams, is excellent. It is about “the vacuum of leadership and the feverish array of problems that are undermining black Americans,” and it is timely and exceedingly important.

We are all in the midst of a “cultural illness” that is “frequently fatal.” To call it a “culture of failure” among our youth is sadly apt. It is a culture of swagger and insecurity. It is a culture that seems to promote a complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a man or a woman.

There are many individuals who work bravely and brilliantly and lovingly each day to remedy this situation and they are surely our greatest heroes. But we have needed courageous and honest and visible leadership for a very long time now.

Connie Ban
Princeton, N.J., Aug. 24, 2006

To the Editor:

Bob Herbert tells the heart-wrenching story of a woman whose family was killed as payback for testimony against a Baltimore drug dealer in 2002. He advocates a cultural shift in a swath of urban, black America, saying “it is up to blacks themselves” to “create a cultural environment that turns its back on crime.”

Unfortunately, it will be difficult for such change to occur until we rethink our disastrously failed drug war. Under the current policy of prohibition, there is an enormous economic incentive for people to turn to dealing drugs.

Just as happened during the era of alcohol prohibition, dealers arm themselves and form powerful gangs that infest every corner of our society. Without prohibition, those dealers would be out of business.

Sam Ehrlichman
Ithaca, N.Y., Aug. 25, 2006

To the Editor:

It took a lot of courage for Bob Herbert to write about black street culture in these days of restrictive political correctness.

I taught in a district that was predominantly African-American for 22 years. I was determined to foster literacy in our public schools, and I became a reading specialist. What was very disheartening was the predominance of street culture and how it dominated the attitude of too many black children and their parents.

Most of the remedial kids I worked with in predominantly black neighborhoods did not value book learning, and neither did their parents. The reading at home required as part of the program was rarely done. Most of these children did learn to read, but they may never catch up to peers whose parents started reading to them in infancy and later made sure that there was homework time.

Yes, values make more of a difference than money. My parents didn’t get past the sixth grade but they valued books and an education and I am so grateful to them.

Janet Robinson
Mahopac, N.Y., Aug. 24, 2006

To the Editor:

Our media producers cater to thugs, and our government hierarchies let petty urban warlords terrorize and rule. Let a race of men arise, yes, but the responsibility belongs to those producers and leaders who could start something.

It is not an absence of “African-American leadership.” It is a complex array of national-state-regional-municipal problems that political leaders (and business leaders) refuse to confront.

Stuart Filler
Birmingham, Mich., Aug. 24, 2006

To the Editor:

Bob Herbert echoes a familiar call for a “new generation of African-American leadership.” While I understand the motivation, I disagree with the conclusion.

Must leaders and role models necessarily be drawn strictly on the basis of race? Cannot a Hindu woman or a person of Middle Eastern descent or even a white man act as a leader of a generation of disenfranchised youth? In other words, can the vacuum of leadership not be filled from the rich and diverse fabric of American society and beyond?

Until this insular notion that African-Americans — or any other group, for that matter — can be led only by people of a particular race, class or religion is overcome, the problems that Mr. Herbert seeks to address will continue to persist. I say indeed, enough is enough.

Kevin P. McNeil
New York, Aug. 25, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Some things Creative

Trust your instincts

The evidence seems to be that the conscious mind isn't much use in making hard decision
Libet's experiments suggested that our brain makes up its mind long (in neurobiological terms) before we become aware of any conscious intention to act. Consciousness seems to be a mere bystander with just an illusion of control. Where does this leave free will or personal responsibility

Randy Thom, C.A.S. suggest

1. Learn your craft thoroughly, reading everything you can about the traditions and conventions of the craft, as well as experiments on the modern cutting edge.

2. Begin each project with few assumptions about the methods you will use. Let the needs of the project, most of which you won't know until after you've gotten your feet wet, determine your approach.

3. Experiment as early and as often and as inexpensively as possible. Make lots of mistakes when mistakes are cheap.

click here for the whole article

The Second Mind

In this excerpt, from the Introduction to "Blink," Malcolm Gladwell describes the part of the brain that runs our rapid decision-making system

click here for the whole article

Knowing what to Want

Timothy D Wilson, the author of .Strangers to ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious stresses that If we don't know ourselves--our potentials, feelings, or motives--it is most often, Wilson tells us, because we have developed a plausible story about ourselves that is out of touch with our adaptive unconscious. Citing evidence that too much introspection can actually do damage, Wilson makes the case for better ways of discovering our unconscious selves. but he also published a paper on knowing what to want

click here for the whole article

Friday, August 25, 2006

Legends (Luis J. Rodriguez)

This week I highlight the career of Luis J. Rodriguez, in a nutshell Always Running should be in the class of every middle school and the home of every male teen, read on

Running Things

Luis J. Rodriguez has emerged as one of the leading Chicano writers in the country with ten nationally published books in memoir, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, and poetry. Luis’ poetry has won a Poetry Center Book Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Literary Award, and “Foreword” magazine’s Silver Book Award, among others. His two children’s books have won a Patterson Young Adult Book Award, two “Skipping Stones” Honor Award, and a Parent’s Choice Book Award, among others. A novel, Music of the Mill, was published in the spring of 2005 by Rayo/HarperCollins; a poetry collection, My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems, 1989-2004, came out in the fall of 2005 from Curbstone Press/Rattle Edition.

Luis is best known for the 1993 memoir of gang life, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. An international best seller—with more than 20 printings, around 250,000 copies sold—the memoir also garnered a Carl Sandburg Literary Award, a Chicago Sun-Times Book Award, and was designated a New York Times Notable Book. Written as a cautionary tale for Luis’ then 15-year-old son Ramiro—who had joined a Chicago gang—the memoir is popular among youth and teachers. Despite this, the American Library Association in 1999 called Always Running one of the 100 most censored books in the United States. Efforts to remove his books from public school libraries and reading lists have occurred in Illinois, Michigan, Texas, and more recently in California, where the battles were quite heated. Yet for all the controversy, Luis has gained the respect of the literary community. check out his interview below

Books/Recordings Published

Poems Across the Pavement (1989 Tia Chucha Press, Chicago); The Concrete River (1991 Curbstone Press, Willimantic, CT); Trochemoche (1998 Curbstone Press); My Name’s Not Rodriguez, a CD of original music and poems (2002 Dos Manos/Rock A Mole Music); numbered hand-made art books Seven and Two Women/Dos Mujeres (2005 C&C Press); My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems 1989-2004 (2005 Curbstone Press/Rattle Edition).

Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (1993 Curbstone Press; 1994 paperback Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster; new 10-year edition, 2005 Touchstone Books); Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times (2001 Seven Stories Press)

Children's Books
Children’s Books: America is Her Name (1998 Curbstone Press); It Doesn’t Have to be This Way: A Barrio Story (1999 Children’s Book Press); Si, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! (Essay and Poem) (2002 Cinco Puntos Press)

Fiction: The Republic of East LA: Stories (2002 Rayo/HarperCollins); Music of the Mill (Novel, 2005 Rayo/HarperCollins)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Wire & the Line

"It's not about blaming kids. They will survive. They will learn. It's just a question of where"
Ed Burns
The Wire

The Wire's season four will follow four kids, who are composites of children from Burns' teaching days.

"In the inner city you have classes set up on the stoop and on the corner," Burns says. "The stoop kid is the kid who's been reared in a way that he's protected. And the corner kid lacks the parenting, so he's free to go hang out on the corner. There's no such thing as a pure corner kid or stoop kid at the age of fourteen, so we wanted to place our four along the continuum. And then, in terms of storytelling, you want to flip 'em."

Adds Burns: "When you watch The Wire, don't begin to think you've seen the worst of what's going on with these kids. What's going on here is a crime against humanity."
The Wire airs Sunday September 10th @ HBO

Crossing the Line
Just as portrayals of gritty street life may work in one medium, it can prove problematic for another. Hip hop is guilty of constantly blending myth & reality of gangstas and their overtly sexualized women, to the degree that many believe there is a larger demand for it than really exist. Truth be told there is a growing backlash to raps negativity One comic book artist and writer learned that lesson the hard way.
Last week saw the release of issue #8 of Mario Gully’s Ant. No big deal, you say?

Well, it was if you’re a retailer thinking it was appropriate for all ages, or a kid reading it for the first time.

While Ant’s been labeled as a pure T&A book by critics and non-fans alike, the series has never been this… exposed.

“Issue #8 was the first book that profanity and nudity was ever in Ant in this manner,” creator Mario Gully told Newsarama. “I am not against swearing in my book but in this issue, it was clearly excessive. Also, there is a stripper scene that was a little rough. This, combined with the fact retailers weren't forewarned… upset many fans and distributors. I have received e-mails and much criticisms. Distributors whom I respect mentioned that the issue was offensive and a shock to unexpecting fans. Unlike so many others Mario is taking full responsibilty for his actions and vows to clean up his act. When he does I'll be first in line for his book.
To read the whole interview click here

Wheres Wally
Wally Amos Presents Chip & Cookie: No More Chocolate Chips!
The first adventure for our stars. Aunt Della has regular chocolate chip cookie parties for the children of Raspberry Swirl. But for some mysterious reason Sultan Semi Sweet has stopped sending chocolate chips. Aunt Della will soon run out. She can’t disappoint the children. As Aunt Della wonders what to do she pulls out her needle and thread and sews the cutest little dolls in the form of chocolate chip cookies
To hear Famous Amos read an excerpt from his book click here

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Wynn-ing Formula

"Schoolhouses do not teach themselves piles of brick and mortar and machinery do not send out men. It is strengthened by long study and thought, that breathes the real breath of life into boys and girls andmakes them human."
— W.E.B.

Mychal Wynn's The Empowering African-African Males workbook contains over 50 activities and discussion questions that reinforce the concepts, ideas, and strategies outlined within each of the Chapters in the book: Mission, Vision, Climate & Culture, Curriculum & Content, Instruction, and Assessment.

Activities include: Developing your mission, vision, and core values; constructing a "Web of Protection"; understanding student demographics; creating cooperative groups; Team Charter; creating a classroom code of conduct; understanding "The Dozens"; and helping students to set goals and develop college-bound dreams.

Click here to read an excerpt from the workbook

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

47 and Counting

"I lived as a slave on the Corinthian Plantation my whole life up to the time that Tall John ran out of the back woods..."

This is Mosley's first novel for young adults, but there's plenty in 47 for a grown-up to ponder. Set on a cotton plantation in the South in 1832, it is the first person narrative of "47", a 14-year old slave, brand new to the fields, as he's just gotten big enough to work (slaves don't receive names, only numbers). The up-close look at the institution from this particular perspective is a revelation. Using his hero as an instrument, Mosley describes the physical, psychological and emotional effects the "lifestyle" has on those in its clutches, and who have known nothing else. He does it in simple, stark, powerful words. The reader sees the deep and lasting effect of being raised from birth in a society that is convinced you are inferior, is in your face about it, and has engineered an entire society based on the fact.

click here to read an excerpt

Monday, August 21, 2006

Angry & Truthful

There is a major fear that grips African American youth that fear is that nobody cares, nothing substantiated that fear like watching the Katrina victims in New Orleans, then to watch those victims be tossed aside like yesterday news. Spike Lee brings Katrina and those fears back to the forefront with this New York Interview about his documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts check out the interview here

Acts I and II premiere Monday, August 21 at 9pm (ET/PT), followed by Acts III and IV on Tuesday, August 22 at 9pm. All four acts will be seen Tuesday, Aug. 29 (8:00 p.m.-midnight), the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Cool Site

Check out Code Z highlights black artists and other visual creatives from around the world who push boundaries and push buttons

Multi-Tasking for Bird Watchers

Your choice, tape this interview while watching When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, or tape the documentary while listening to interview. Bird, Bop, Black Art and Beyond organizer Duane Deterville will appear on KPFA 94.1 FM as a guest on Greg Bridges’ Transitions on Traditions show. He may be joined by symposium participants Arthur Monroe and Robert Carmack. Please listen in.

tonite 9:00 p.m. PST click here to go to

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sneeky (Not Cheeky) Bastards

I try to keep my blog on track, but whenever I get info on hidden cellphone fees, I figure folks like me want to know

HAVE YOU TAKEN A good look at your cellphone bill lately? You just might be getting hit with some wacky fees that can really add up over time.

Case in point: Cingular Wireless will soon start charging customers for not carrying around a hip new phone. Starting in September, customers will pay $4.99 per month for using older TDMA and analog cellphones as the company phases out that technology and replaces it with GSM. In other words, not being cool could cost you an extra $60 a year. (This affects 8% of their customers — about 4.7 million subscribers.)

Also See
Ditching Your Cell Contract

Fact is, no matter which provider you use, you'll encounter plenty of miscellaneous taxes, fees and surcharges. "Cellphone companies are almost as creative as credit-card companies at finding new ways to charge people," says Beth McConnell, director for the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocate. From 2002 to 2004, consumers paid more than $2.5 billion in early-termination fees alone. They also can add 20% or more to your monthly bill, according to Consumer Reports.

Many charges — including activation fees and termination fees — are well advertised, but others require some digging through the fine print to unearth. Here are four sneaky cellphone fees to watch out for:

New Handset Fees
So you finally decide to pull the trigger and get that RAZR handset. Be prepared to pay a fee for your switch — in addition to whatever you pay for the phone. "It's under the auspices of upgrading your account information," says McConnell. The good news? This is one charge you may be able to get removed with a quick call to customer service.

Service Provider Charge
Cingular $18
Sprint/Nextel $36 (if customer is receiving a discount on a new — as opposed to secondhand — phone)
T-Mobile No charge.
Verizon No charge.
Verizon No charge.
Data from cellphone companies.

Premium Content Fees
"One of the remaining cases is tonight's lucky case." When consumers hear that pitch on the popular game show "Deal or No Deal," they can send a text message with their guess — Case 1? Or maybe case 6? — for a chance to win $10,000.

It may seem like harmless fun, but it isn't cheap. On top of the fees you'll pay to your cellphone provider for sending a text, many shows charge a so-called premium content fee, says Edgar Dworsky, editor of Mouse Print, a consumer advocacy site. The fee could be per message (celebrity gossip show "The Insider" charges 49 cents; "Deal or No Deal," 99 cents) or per month (fans of reality show "Big Brother" cough up $5.99 to subscribe). Avoiding these fees is simple: Read the fine print before you whip out your phone.

Data Storage Fees
You've got your mom, your boss, your dentist and pretty much everyone who matters to you on speed dial. The thought of losing all those important numbers — as well as any appointments or messages in your phone — is nothing short of horrifying. Lose or break your phone, and you're lost. But paying for a cellphone backup service is a pricey alternative to the 'ol paper Rolodex. Back-up plans from Sprint and Verizon are $2 a month, while Cingular charges $5.

To sidestep these fees, consider Yahoo Mobile Services' Contact Back-Up. It works with SyncML-compatible phones from Cingular and T-Mobile. The service is free; however, you'll pay a small fee (about 25 cents per 25 contacts transferred) for the data transfer if you don't subscribe to your provider's data plan. (For more on picking a data plan, see our column Which Data Plan Is Right for You?)

Roaming Fees
Thought roaming fees went the way of the dinosaur once national calling plans were set in place? Think again. "Nationwide doesn't necessarily mean nationwide," warns McConnell. You'll still pay roaming if you're in an area where your provider doesn't have many, or any, service towers. Consumers in Crescent City, Calif., for example, are always roaming if they opt for service with T-Mobile. Depending on your provider and your plan, roaming fees could be as high as $1.95 to $2.95 per minute.

Most phones let you control your ability to roam, so check your menu for "roam modes." Set your phone to "network only" to prevent roaming. Sprint/Nextel also offers a call guard feature, which keeps your phone ready for incoming or outgoing calls, but warns you when roaming charges will apply.

Never 4 Get They Love Music

A major challenge with engaging adolescent males is getting them to participate in discussion
Start the conversation with the topic of music and see if they're vocal chords working
I caught Damion Marley and Ben Harper last night and we clearly had a lot to talk about after

Damion Jr Gong Marley

Ben Harper

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hero's (J. Torres)

A former elementary school teacher, J. Torres was born in Manila but left for Canada when he was 4. After completing his B.A. in Communications Studies with a Diploma in Elementary Education from McGill University in Montreal. He began his comic book writing career in 1995, with the publication of 'Copybook Tales' by SLG Publishing. Other past credits include the creator-owned series 'Siren' and 'Monster Fighters Inc.' for Image Comics; 'Alison Dare', 'Jason & the Argobots', and 'Sidekicks' for Oni Press; as well as freelance work on 'Rugrats' and 'Nickelodeon Magazine' for Nickelodeon; 'Black Panther', 'X-Men Unlimited' and 'X-Men: Ronin' for Marvel Comics. His most recent works include 'Days Like This' for Oni Press and 'Sparta' for NBM Publishing. He currently lives in Toronto, and has an insightful column available on Comic Book Resources titled 'Open Your Mouth.'s.
Click here for the full interview with Torres
Click here for TEEN TITANS GO! interview

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Be all that you can Bee

There aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe the excellence of Akeelah and the Bee. Superbly written and directed by Doug Atchison, an inspirational drama, Akeelah and the Bee is the story of Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), a precocious eleven-year-old girl from south Los Angeles with a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother Tanya (Angela Bassett), Akeelah enters various spelling contests, for which she is tutored by the forthright Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne); her principal Mr. Welch (Curtis Armstrong) and the proud residents of her neighborhood. Akeelah’s aptitude earns her an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and in turn unites her neighborhood who witness the courage and inspiration of one amazing little girl. 2 words: Buy it!

Be Different
Come on Apple we expect more from you than this

"Thanks be to God"
Check out AfroGeeks review of Deogratias,(which means thanks be to God) a Tale of Rwanda
Read his review at Here

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Schools, not Boys, are the Problem

William A. Draves President of the Learning Resources Network (LERN), an international education association with 4,000 members in 16 countries. makes a compelling argument that boys are being punished by educational systems inability to address new technology and the real world of work. He can be found at

Teen crime is down to a 30 year record low. Teen pregnancy is down. School violence is at an all time low. Teen drunken driving is down. Teen employment is up. Teen driving fatalities are down. Television viewing is down. Reading is up. Yet everyone knows boys are behaving poorly.

The primary battleground is in the nation’s schools. Boys win hands-down on demerits and detention. Worse, boys are now subject to more verbal punishment than ever before. "Today the girls all were well behaved, and will get suckers," a middle school teacher announced in class recently. "The boys will get the broken suckers." "Everyone knows boys don’t behave," she reported at another time, reflecting a widely held view among educators and adults in general.

Our schools are failing to help boys learn, and blaming the boys.

The reason there is a war on against boys is that boys are into the Internet and technology. The Internet terrifies most teachers, and some boys know more about the Internet than do many educators. Boys also exhibit those accompanying attributes which go with a future dominated by the Internet, like taking risks, being entrepreneurial, and being individualistic.

On the other hand, what is bad behavior for boys in school is good behavior for young men in the workplace. The very same behaviors for which they are punished in school, boys are rewarded for when they enter the workforce. This is because taking risks, being entrepreneurial, being individualistic are all behaviors that lead to success in the workforce today.

Today’s schools, in contrast, were meant to prepare youth for the factory and the office, where conformity, teamwork and ‘being normal’ are valued. So today’s schools are bent on conformity, discipline, and other behavior totally unrelated to learning and academic achievement. The Wisconsin Public Schools, arguably one of the best in the nation, currently has a statewide advertising campaign where it proudly boasts of its ban on hats in school.(10) Wearing a hat, they claim, deters learning. By contrast, young men are often allowed to wear hats in the work setting, particularly in technology companies. A recent New Yorker cartoon, for example, has a young worker with a T-shirt and a baseball cap turned backwards telling an older worker dressed in a suit that he will need to change his dress code in order to remain at the company.

Schools and teachers fear technology, do not have a sufficient understanding of the Internet, and do not employ the web in their teaching. A recent National Center for Education Statistics report on what teachers feel most trained for is discipline (80% report feel adequately prepared). At the bottom of the list is the employment of technology, where only about 20% of teachers feel adequately prepared.

Indeed, teachers and schools are usually far behind their own male students in terms of technology.

And the situation is further complicated by the fact that schools and teachers often refuse to learn from their technically skilled students, thus furthering the rift and suggesting to boys that school is no longer relevant for their present and future.

Both boys and girls perceive teachers as favoring girls over boys, according to The Metropolitan Life Survey of The American Teacher, 1997 (11).

- Both girls (57%) and boys (64%) say the teacher pays more attention to girls.
-Girls who raise their hands see themselves as getting called on "often," by greater margins (72% vs. 66%), than boys.
- More boys than girls (31% vs. 19%) feel that it is "mostly true" that teachers do not listen to what they have to say.
- Boys demand more attention in class than girls, according to the majority (61%) of teachers.
- And teachers (47%) say that girls asked for more help after class.
Chart of Teachers' feelings of preparedness
A study by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that teachers themselves report being most prepared for discipline, and least prepared for using technology in the classroom

When given a computer, however, so-called bad boys immediately turn into good behavior role models. On a recent school day, a LERN staff member observed boys in the computer lab so well behaved that there was no teacher in the room, nor one needed.

Boys are leading the technology revolution, the new economy, the Internet Age, and the workforce of the 21st century. But before they get there, they are being roundly punished.

Until our educational system is redesigned for the needs of the 21st century, the war against boys will continue. to read the whole article click here

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Harris & Butler Learning from the Best

E Lyn Harris's talks about his second passion teaching

The late Octavia Butler shares the pain of bliss

Monday, August 14, 2006

Serious About Success

As I've pointed out the boy literacy crisis is a concern in most industrialized societies (as Sir Ken Robinson pointed out, because all of their methods are practically identical.

Australia has taken on the literacy issues of boys head on with the Success for Boys Professional Learning Programme

In 2005 James Cook University and Curriculum Corporation were engaged to design the Success for Boys Professional Learning Programme and supervise its implementation and quality in a wide range of schools across Australia on behalf of DEST.

The programme development team are led by Professor

Nola Alloway, whose internationally recognised credentials and expertise are in boys’ education, especially in literacy. Professor Alloway’s previous work includes the highly regarded publication Boys, Literacy and Schooling:

Expanding the

Repertoires of Practice

(available at

The Success for Boys Professional Learning Programme draws together a range of national and international research into boys’ education, including the Australian Government’s successful Boys’ Education Lighthouse Schools programme, and the large scale British Raising Boys’ Achievement initiative.

The programme can be tailored to local school contexts and will give schools a strong foundation for achieving successful outcomes for their boys. It consists of five modules which focus on key intervention areas highlighted by teachers and researchers as significant for boys:

· A Core Module that provides teachers with a theoretical framework for working with boys, and an action learning plan that underpins four additional modules;

· Boys and Literacy: a module that aims to promote effective literacy teaching and assessment for boys;

· Mentoring for Success: a module that focuses on giving boys opportunities to benefit from positive mentoring relationships and access to positive male role models from within and beyond the school;

· Boys and ICTs: a module that focuses on using information and communication technology (ICT) to improve boys’ engagement and learning outcomes;

· Indigenous Boys’ Transitions: a module that focuses on the important area of Indigenous boys’ transitions from primary to secondary school; and

· A Leaders’ Guide that provides assistance in how to deliver the programme within a school.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

All in the Head

Research probes sex-based brain differences
Story by:

There are major differences in the way men and women think, as any married couple will tell you. The question is why, and where do these divergent processes come from?

New research suggests many of the clues lie deep in the brain, in subtle but pervasive differences in the way men's and women's brains are structured.

Sandra Witelson, McMaster University
Twenty-five years ago Dr. Sandra Witelson of McMaster University began studying sex-based differences in the brain. Then it was unfashionable -- now it's hot science.

"We called the brain a sex organ, which was not a frequently-used phrase at the time, and that's essentially what we're finding," she said.

Witelson's latest research shows that women have more densely-packed cells in the frontal lobe, the region responsible for judgement, personality and reasoning.

Women are also better at detecting emotions on faces, and researchers in Philadelphia are trying to find out why. They designed a study where men and women looked at faces on a screen, and then had to say how the person was feeling.

"Our main finding from this study in men and women so far is that it's a lot less work for women," said Professor Ruben Gurs with the University of Pennsylvania. "It's not such a big deal for them to tell how a person is feeling, whereas the male brains are sweating a lot more in trying to figure it out."
Women are better than men at detecting emotions on faces,
A man's brain is filled with more fluid and fat ... and that seems to speed communication throughout the brain. Women's brains meanwhile, have larger structures that control aggression.

The regions in men's brains that deal with emotion and physical action are closely packed, while women's emotional regions are more closely connected to the parts of the brain that deal with language.

"That part of the emotional brain is so close to the language part of the brain, they (women) have an easier time talking about what they feel," said Gurs. "Most men if you ask them to talk about their feelings they will say, what is there to talk about?"

Studying the differences in men's and women's brains can aid in treating aging brain diseases such as stroke or Alzheimer's
There are however dangers in interpreting the burgeoning science of brain sex.

"First of all we should not make the leap that one is better than the other," said Witelson.

Instead, she says it is important to understand the differences, and to celebrate them.

The reason for this research is partly curiosity and partly a search for understanding of brain diseases, like Alzheimer's and stroke. When the brain gets injured or sick, men and women react differently. Women recover much faster from difficulties brought on by a stroke, for example.

"If we can understand how healthy brains work and how they differ between the genders we can understand why those differences occur when brains get sick," said Witelson.

Legends: Morrie Turner

Morris Turner was born on December 11, 1923 in Oakland, California but prefers going by the name Morrie. He attended Cole Elementary and McClymonds High Schools in Oakland and graduated from Berkeley High School in June of 1942.

Turner had had no formal art training and sought the advice and encouragement of other professional cartoonists. When he began questioning why there were no minorities in cartoons, his mentor, Charles Schultz of Peanuts fame, suggested he create one.

Turner initially thought to create a solely black version of Peanuts. He came up with Dinky Fellas, which was initially produced for the black-owned-and-operated newspaper, The Chicago Defender. Turning introspective, Turner admits: "I used to complain about comics being all white, then I saw that mine was all black." So he integrated Dinky Fellas to create Wee Pals.

The Wee Pals era began in 1964 at The Oakland Tribune, The Philadelphia Bulletin, and The Los Angeles Times. At its zenith, Wee Pals was syndicated in a hundred newspapers nationwide, and in 1972 had its own animated TV series on KGO, Kid Power. Today it still runs in forty publications across the country. Throughout its long life, the strip's thrust has remained the same -- it touches on "whatever is going on in the world," Turner says. At the same time, he comments on and profiles African Americans notable for their contributions to society. On Turner's desk are piles of clippings on athletes, entertainers, and actors, including one on media mogul Russell Simmons. What's that all about? "It's not that I'm a fan of the music," he explains. "I think he's important." It's just that simple -- Turner has always prioritized what he thinks is important for society. "Because we need to know," he stresses. "And I want kids to know too." When asked his opinion of Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks, he cleverly replies, "Boondocks is hip-hop and Wee Pals is cool jazz." Classic.

On Sundays an additional panel is included called Soul Corner detailing the life of a famous person belonging to
an ethnic minority.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Filipino Comic Artist & More

I came across this

The 6th Annual
East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention
Friday, May 18 - Saturday, May 19, 2007

Temple University's Main Campus,
Philadelphia, PA
To get on the mailing list and more information email:

Which led to this

An extensive list of Black comic artis and writers can be found at the Mueseum of blacksuperhero click here to go to the site click here to see the links page

Which led to this

An extensive list of Filipino comic artis and writers can be found at click here to see the list

So I decided I should add this

the Lambiek Comiclopedia, an illustrated compendium of thousands of international comic artists click here to see the links page


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sex the duh! Factor

This article again speaks to the power of music and the need to redirect hip hop into a tool for learning

Study: Sexual Lyrics Prompt Teens to Have Sex

Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.
Whether it's hip-hop, rap, pop or rock, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.
Songs depicting men as "sex-driven studs," women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.
Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

Click here to read the full article

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lazy or Confused?

What's Happening to Boys?
Young Women These Days Are Driven -- but Guys Lack Direction

By Leonard Sax
Friday, March 31, 2006; A19

The romantic comedy "Failure to Launch," which opened as the No. 1 movie in the nation this month, has substantially exceeded pre-launch predictions, taking in more than $64 million in its first three weeks.

Matthew McConaughey plays a young man who is affable, intelligent, good-looking -- and completely unmotivated. He's still living at home and seems to have no ambitions beyond playing video games, hanging out with his buddies (two young men who are also still living with their parents) and having sex. In desperation, his parents hire a professional motivation consultant, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, who pretends to fall in love with McConaughey's character in the hope that a romantic relationship will motivate him to move out of his parents' home and get a life.

The movie has received mixed reviews, though The Post's Stephen Hunter praised it as "the best comedy since I don't know when." But putting aside the movie's artistic merits or lack thereof, I was struck by how well its central idea resonates with what I'm seeing in my office with greater and greater frequency. Justin goes off to college for a year or two, wastes thousands of dollars of his parents' money, then gets bored and comes home to take up residence in his old room, the same bedroom where he lived when he was in high school. Now he's working 16 hours a week at Kinko's or part time at Starbucks.

His parents are pulling their hair out. "For God's sake, Justin, you're 26 years old. You're not in school. You don't have a career. You don't even have a girlfriend. What's the plan? When are you going to get a life?"

"What's the problem?" Justin asks. "I haven't gotten arrested for anything, I haven't asked you guys for money. Why can't you just chill?"

This phenomenon cuts across all demographics. You'll find it in families both rich and poor; black, white, Asian and Hispanic; urban, suburban and rural. According to the Census Bureau, fully one-third of young men ages 22 to 34 are still living at home with their parents -- a roughly 100 percent increase in the past 20 years. No such change has occurred with regard to young women. Why?

My friend and colleague Judy Kleinfeld, a professor at the University of Alaska, has spent many years studying this growing phenomenon. She points out that many young women are living at home nowadays as well. But those young women usually have a definite plan. They're working toward a college degree, or they're saving money to open their own business. And when you come back three or four years later, you'll find that in most cases those young women have achieved their goal, or something like it. They've earned that degree. They've opened their business.

But not the boys. "The girls are driven; the boys have no direction," is the way Kleinfeld summarizes her findings. Kleinfeld is organizing a national Boys Project, with a board composed of leading researchers and writers such as Sandra Stotsky, Michael Thompson and Richard Whitmire, to figure out what's going wrong with boys. The project is only a few weeks old, it has called no news conferences and its Web site ( ) has just been launched.

So far we've just been asking one another the question: What's happening to boys? We've batted around lots of ideas. Maybe the problem has to do with the way the school curriculum has changed. Maybe it has to do with environmental toxins that affect boys differently than girls (not as crazy an idea as it sounds). Maybe it has to do with changes in the workforce, with fewer blue-collar jobs and more emphasis on the service industry. Maybe it's some combination of all of the above, or other factors we haven't yet identified.

In Ayn Rand's humorless apocalyptic novel "Atlas Shrugged," the central characters ask: What would happen if someone turned off the motor that drives the world? We may be living in such a time, a time when the motor that drives the world is running down or stuck in neutral -- but only for boys.

Leonard Sax, a family physician and psychologist in Montgomery County, is the author of "Boys Adrift: What's Really Behind the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys," to be published next year. He will take questions at noon today at

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Never 4-Get They Love Cars

Have a group of teens watch this brief, highly stylized video that explores the dynamic fine art and design collaborations between hot rod designer Chip Foose, Ford GT designer Camilo Pardo, and metal fabricator and designer Michael Chetcuti then tell me that young males are not interested in anything that involves reading or math

Friday, August 04, 2006

Kinectic Hope

Several decades ago, the American philosopher John Dewy pondered the best ways to combine what children learned in school with what they experienced in their lives, in other words, how to make education meaningful to them. Since Dewey’s time, Renate Caine, Geoffrey Caine, and other researchers in the filed of brain-based learning had found that since the brain searches for patterns and connections, and since understanding is enhanced when a lesson is presented in many different ways, an interdisciplinary curriculum helps to improve children’s academic achievement

Teaching to appeal to multiple intelligences is something we have all heard quite a bit about. But when students sit quietly at their desks, how many parts of the brain are stimulated? click here to read the whole article

Fast forward:
Jeff Han a research scientist for New York University's Media Research Lab. demonstrates—for the first time publicly—his intuitive, "interface-free," touch-driven computer screen, which can be manipulated intuitively with the fingertips, and responds to varying levels of pressure. Click here to see what the not so distant future holds

Bottom line if boys are Kinectic learners, and touch-driven technology is the future then the educational system got some catching up to do.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Authors Before You Write Word One

Advice for authors

I found this gem of a blog over at Seth Gordon's blog

It happened again. There I was, meeting with someone who I thought had nothing to do with books or publishing, and it turns out his new book just came out.

With more than 75,000 books published every year (not counting ebooks or blogs), the odds are actually pretty good that you've either written a book, are writing a book or want to write one.

Hence this short list:

  1. Lower your expectations. The happiest authors are the ones that don't expect much.
  2. The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you'll need later.
  3. Pay for an eidtor editor. Not just to fix the typos, but to actually make your ramblings into something that people will choose to read. I found someone I like working with at the EFA. One of the things traditional publishers used to do is provide really insightful, even brilliant editors (people like Fred Hills and Megan Casey), but alas, that doesn't happen very often. And hiring your own editor means you'll value the process more.
  4. Understand that a non-fiction book is a souvenir, just a vessel for the ideas themselves. You don't want the ideas to get stuck in the book... you want them to spread. Which means that you shouldn't hoard the idea! The more you give away, the better you will do.
  5. Don't try to sell your book to everyone. First, consider this: " 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school." Then, consider the fact that among people even willing to buy a book, yours is just a tiny little needle in a very big haystack. Far better to obsess about a little subset of the market--that subset that you have permission to talk with, that subset where you have credibility, and most important, that subset where people just can't live without your book.
  6. Resist with all your might the temptation to hire a publicist to get you on Oprah. First, you won't get on Oprah (if you do, drop me a note and I'll mention you as the exception). Second, it's expensive. You're way better off spending the time and money to do #5 instead, going after the little micromarkets. There are some very talented publicists out there (thanks, Allison), but in general, see #1.
  7. Think really hard before you spend a year trying to please one person in New York to get your book published by a 'real' publisher. You give up a lot of time. You give up a lot of the upside. You give up control over what your book reads like and feels like and how it's promoted. Of course, a contract from Knopf and a seat on Jon Stewart's couch are great things, but so is being the Queen of England. That doesn't mean it's going to happen to you. Far more likely is that you discover how to efficiently publish (either electronically or using POD or a small run press) a brilliant book that spreads like wildfire among a select group of people.
  8. Your cover matters. Way more than you think. If it didn't, you wouldn't need a book... you could just email people the text.
  9. If you have a 'real' publisher (#7), it's worth investing in a few things to help them do a better job for you. Like pre-editing the book before you submit it. Like putting the right to work on the cover with them in the contract. And most of all, getting the ability to buy hundreds of books at cost that you can use as samples and promotional pieces.
  10. In case you skipped it, please check #2 again. That's the most important one, by far.
  11. Blurbs are overrated, imho.
  12. Blog mentions, on the other hand, matter a lot.
  13. If you've got the patience, bookstore signings and talking to book clubs by phone are the two lowest-paid but most guaranteed to work methods you have for promoting a really really good book. If you do it 200 times a year, it will pay.
  14. Consider the free PDF alternative. Some have gotten millions of downloads. No hassles, no time wasted, no trying to make a living on it. All the joy, in other words, without debating whether you should quit your day job (you shouldn't!)
  15. If you want to reach people who don't normally buy books, show up in places where people who don't usually buy books are. Media places, virtual places and real places too.
  16. Most books that sell by the truckload sell by the caseload. In other words, sell to organizations that buy on behalf of their members/employees.
  17. Publishing a book is not the same as printing a book. Publishing is about marketing and sales and distribution and risk. If you don't want to be in that business, don't! Printing a book is trivially easy. Don't let anyone tell you it's not. You'll find plenty of printers who can match the look and feel of the bestselling book of your choice for just a few dollars a copy. That's not the hard part.
  18. Bookstores, in general, are run by absolutely terrific people. Bookstores, in general, are really lousy businesses. They are often where books go to die. While some readers will discover your book in a store, it's way more likely they will discover the book before they get to the store, and the store is just there hoping to have the right book for the right person at the time she wants it. If the match isn't made, no sale.
  19. Writing a book is a tremendous experience. It pays off intellectually. It clarifies your thinking. It builds credibility. It is a living engine of marketing and idea spreading, working every day to deliver your message with authority. You should write one.