Tag Archives: teaching. musings

The Future Is Still…

30 Mar

Image result for plastic in the ocean

PLASTICS! PLASTICS! PLASTICS!

A new report published by researchers based in the Netherlands using a fleet of boats and aircraft to scan the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” found an astonishing build-up of plastic waste even more massive than previously reported. They found a total of 80,000 tonnes of buoyant plastic that is now bigger than France, Germany and Spain combined… and it’s growing rapidly!
In addition they found that this “plastic dump” located between Hawaii and California, now contains around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, including Microplastics, which are tiny fragments of plastic smaller than 50mm in size which can enter the food chain when swallowed by fish. The pollutants they contain become more concentrated as they work their way up through the food web, all the way to top level predators such as sharks, seals and polar bears.

The Ocean Cleanup project, which carried out the study, says eight million tonnes of plastics enter the oceans every year, much of which has accumulated in five giant garbage patches around the planet.

And in another recent study 259 water bottles from 11 brands sold across nine countries, including the United States, were tested and found that 93% contained micro-plastic contamination. The research, found an average of 10.4 plastic particles per liter of water, which is twice the amount of contamination found in tap water. So…if you are drinking water that you are buying in plastic bottles because you believe it is safer or purer than your tap water from the faucet in your home…you’re wrong!

Unless of course, you are trying to get more vitamin-P into your diet!

But it gets worse! (How is that possible?) because researchers who tested tap water from around the world found that more than 80% of the samples contained microscopic-sized plastic fibers and the contamination is particularly high in the United States, where 94% of faucet water is affected, including in samples from the U.S. Capitol and the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency…of all places!

So now you can go back to your plastic bottles (that didn’t take long) I guess because in the USA it’s 94 tap-93 bottle and this is one score where more is not better…unless you live in India and/or Lebanon where the highest rates of tap water contamination were found.

And how did we get into this plastic mess in the first place? It was cheaper of course than glass which was so passe anyway and heavier to carry and didn’t make that fun crinkly sound when you were all finished and glass had to always be saved and recycled…which by the way we do now with plastics.

Ah well, on the bright side (?) in the not so distant future we won’t have to use up more of the Earth’s space by burying one another after we have passed. We can just dump our dearly departed and mostly plastic loved ones into the trash bin…and have them recycled too!

And Perhaps in a thousands or two more years aliens will fly by our lonely orb and wonder how a plastic planet with a non-plastic moon found its way into the middle of our solar system…a cheap trinket in an otherwise priceless universe?

 

Did You Get Your Money?

8 Mar

Image result for tax reform

There is a commercial being run on television here in the New York metropolitan area featuring a young mother explaining to the camera that now that she has received her 2,000 dollar increase in her pay check and a $1,000 bonus from the company she works for… as direct results of the recent Republican tax reform, life in America is so much easier because she and her family can now afford to buy so many more of the things that they need.

Has this happened to you? Are you earning 3,000 dollars more than you were 3 months ago? The commercial says that this is the average increase in middle class workers pay throughout the country.

I have received about 32 dollars more in my monthly pay or around 380 dollars over the course of this coming year…and of course since I have not filled out my 2018 tax return, because that will not be due until another year from now, I have no way of knowing whether I will receive more in tax savings or will have to pay it all back (and more?) because of the deductions I am going to lose because of the new tax plan.

So are we all getting richer or am I the only unlucky tax payer in America?

I would love to hear about your good fortunes! Thanks!

Racism 101:

5 Jan

Racism 101: Are Hispanics: The New Race?

One day in class a young African American student raised his hand and asked a question.

“Mr. Picone, I just don’t understand it. Why are white people afraid of me?”

“What do you mean?” I said.

“Wherever I go, whenever I see a white person or they see me, they always look scared and afraid. I don’t get it. What did I do?”

One of the things that can make being a teacher so difficult is that we don’t always have the answers to questions that students ask, even though we want to have those answers. It’s been over 30 years now and I still don’t have the answer to that students question…and I still wish I did.

Teachers know that when it comes to life, there is always more to learn and perhaps one of the most confusing and complicated problems in the public schools involves learning what to do about the complicated problem of racial inequality and injustice that is still plaguing our society today…and yes, it still is a plague on our society.

And just when you think that the question of racism in the public schools couldn’t get more complicated a new race comes to town! Now the question is are Hispanics white or black?… and who cares? Are racists simply people who believe in races? After all what does the division of people into “races” really mean? Aren’t people just people after all? Your nose belongs where mine does, right in the middle of my face! Eyes, heart, liver, lungs, legs toes, you name it and we’ve all got one…same number of bones and muscles too and all in the same places on our bodies and all interchangeable! Even our blood! In fact the only thing that really separates us is our blood type and the only thing that can really identify us, one from the other, is our DNA. Isn’t everything else really all just about looks? What races would exist in a land where no one had eyes?

What we have learned in the public schools is that when young children first go to a school with a culturally diverse population they may first notice that there are different skin colors and different faces but as they interact they quickly understand that kids are kids. Pre school and kindergarten teachers know this also. There’s no “race” of children who know how to share or play fair or smile or make friends better than any other children. They all have to learn the basics of how to interact and get along with one another, just like everyone else.

So my question is: with all that children need to learn and with all that adults need to teach, then why do we still insist on teaching them about races and differences when we should be concentrating on our sameness and shared needs and shared interests? Over my 33 years in teaching I have had many Hispanic students tell me that they don’t consider themselves “white” because their white friends aren’t being profiled and asked for identification papers and threatened with deportation, and they don’t consider themselves “black” because their black friends aren’t being profiled ID’d and threatened with deportation and they don’t consider themselves Asians because (you can see where I’m going, right?)

So, do we have a new race?

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