maintaining a multilingual environment if we move back to the US

One of the things I appreciate about expatriate life is its cultural exposure, especially in a city like Phnom Penh. The kids are exposed to so many languages on any given day. Contrast this with my early years back home. I only realized after many years in the system that a multilingual upbringing wasn't normal in the US (I went to school in Spanish Harlem). I'm the only one in my family who knew just two languages. That was bad enough - I certainly didn't want my kids limited to English. So we put our little boy in a French immersion program. His teacher is a creative, gentle Frenchwoman. He's been in her class  just four weeks and already he's counting, singing and carrying on conversations in French. Their absorptive capacity at this … [Read more...]

a story from hummingbird banding in Louisiana

  I came across a banding blog post that brought back memories. Hubby and I banded hummingbirds in Louisiana years ago, to help our friends Olga and Walter at their (bird-friendly!) property. A lot of early mornings were spent at our friends' house, just sitting by the pond or by the side of the house to watch birds. Over the many decades that they owned the property their love of birds drove the property's design. It was overgrown to begin with, but every year they cleared and planted the varieties that were the most attractive to birds. By the time we met them and visited this bird paradise, hundreds of winged creatures already called their place home. You can sit on their property on any given day and spot a huge variety of … [Read more...]

Colbert “testifies” before Congress – in character

Stephen Colbert (a comedian!) testifies (satirically!) under oath before the US congressional subcommittee hearing, on the plight of migrant farm workers and the immigration reform. Via The Hill: "I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican, I want it picked by an American," Colbert said, appearing to parrot statements made in the past by Republicans. But then he continued, "And sliced by a Guatemalan and served by a Venezuelan, in a spa, where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian." Is anyone else shocked by this? ...anyone? I swear my buddy Bill Tucker and all the bloggers writing this up is pulling my leg. But it looks like a real C-SPAN coverage... RT @alexlobov on twitter, who is perpetually tuned in to the broad scope of news around … [Read more...]

on immigration and the global brain race

As aptly put by the Daily Kos: There goes the neighborhood! Increasing militarisation in the US (for the oil spill, the Mexican border, to quell waves of violent crime); the Arizona immigration law; then undocumented youths are marching on the Hill demanding their rights... The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World posits just one of the major reasons why smart immigration policy is needed: ...the competition for academic talent has gone global, with universities all over the world chasing the brightest students. Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge are now competing with the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Indian Institutes of Technology, and even the King … [Read more...]

Oil Spill Politics and the US Energy Policy

...and the political posturing and spinning begins. The majority of primaries and gubernatorial races are still ahead of us. See the schedule here for each state: For one, I'm disappointed with the administration's slow response to this crisis. I'm surprised that Obama issued a statement last Friday still supporting the expansion of offshore oil and gas production in US waters, but I agree. I'm not surprised there was not a chorus of Democrats jumping on this statement. Here's a nice technical blow-by-blow of the Deepwater Horizon explosion by one of the workers on the rig: Welcome to the World of Deep-water Risk As I've said before, this accident is Mother Nature's wake-up call to everyone. Deep-water … [Read more...]

triangulating information

Nobody has the time for lengthy research into every aspect of an issue. We all rely on public representatives in politics, in the media, whose job it is to delve into the gritty details and summarise the pertinent points for us. I usually do this by reading opposing views on a topic. But headlines are increasingly hijacked by rabid partisan politics and monied interests (especially given the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning corporate spending limits). The news is like an entertainment industry anymore (eg talk show radio). It's insidiously not limited to their viewership, diverting the national attention and precious energy away from constructive dialogue, which the country so badly needs. Being outside the country probably makes … [Read more...]

Employment recession

Quoted from Silicon Alley Insider, the chart above by Calculated Risk... ... shows the decline in jobs as a percentage of the work force at the peak. To date in this recession, we've lost more than 8 million jobs.  The decline as a percentage of the workforce is the worst since the Great Depression, matching the sharp but short drop in 1948, as the war machine wound down. Equally important, the duration of these job losses, as well as the lack of a sharp recovery (at least so far), suggests that the problem will be with us for a long while.  We're now 24 months into this decline, and we're still at the bottom.  By this point in most previous recessions, we had already recovered all of the lost jobs. Wow. … [Read more...]

a magazine “for people who give a damn”

Above is a great series of videos from the YouTube GOOD channel. This one was taped last year, and is quite timely for starting this year's holiday season. I love data visualisation blogs. There are so many infographics published every day, and these data scientists critique the transparency and fairness of the data, as well as the presentation of the message. One of the blogs I came across is GOOD, which is a quarterly US general-interest magazine founded in 2006 with a focus on social issues, politics, and sustainable living. Check out their website. It's chock full of questions and features to stimulate dialogue and collaboration for solving some of the world's biggest problems. Billed in its first release as a "free press for the … [Read more...]