You know you’re getting old when…

A sure sign you’re  getting old is when you’re excited about the band playing at the local 4th of July celebration.  Most of the time I have no idea who the main act is or it’s a country artist that I have zero interest in, but this year the Gin Blossoms are performing.  To be fair when New Miserable Experience came out when I was in junior high so I’m really not that old.

The Gin Blossoms were a departure from the gritty Seattle grunge sound at the time.  They are more light alternative pop with dark themes often mixed in with the pop melodies written by their troubled guitarist, Doug Hopkins.  While recording New Miserable Experience, Hopkins’ alcoholism got so bad the band was forced to replace him.  Hopkins later committed suicide while the song he wrote, “Hey Jealousy,” was climbing the charts.  “Found Out About You” was another hit single for the band written by Hopkins.

The band had more hit singles with “Til I hear It From You” on the Empire Records soundtrack and “Follow You Down” on the follow up album, Congratulations I’m Sorry, but they eventually broke up in 1997. Singer, Robin Wilson, and drummer, Phillip Rhodes, started another band, Gas Giants.  By the time they released their album, From Beyond the Back Burner, in 1999, I was working in radio.  We played the only single from the album, “Quitter,” and the band came to town for a concert.  But because of confusion between the label, the venue, and the radio station it turned out to be quite the cluster.  Okay, maybe I’m being a bit diplomatic about it. The station really had nothing to do with it. The band showed up unannounced thinking arrangements had been made such as, you know, hotel rooms and a venue to play. They hadn’t. Wilson wasn’t happy and let people know it, not that I could blame him.  I was frustrated by it all and didn’t bother going to the show.

The Gin Blossoms reunited and released albums in 2006 and 2010 with another new album rumored to be released soon.  Still, it’s those early songs that have become staples of the 90’s and remain relevant today.  I’ll have to check out the newer albums, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them live on the 4th.

Image result for gin blossoms

New Foo’s!

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard some new music from the Fighters of Foo.  Sonic Highways came out in 2014 followed by the St. Cecilia EP in 2015.  Dave and Taylor debuted a new acoustic song, “The Sky is a Neighborhood” a couple of weeks ago at a benefit show.  And now “Run.”  The vocals remind me a bit of “Weenie Beenie” from the first album mixed with the melodies the band has come to be known for.

Also known for their wacky videos, this one is no exception.  It was even directed by Dave.

Paris Climate Accord

According to a Washington Post article, “The U.S. is the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter and would otherwise have accounted for 21 percent of the total emissions reductions achieved by the accord through 2030.”  If Trump pulls the US from the Paris agreement, other countries are likely to withdraw as well worsening the warming of the planet.  The agreement has been signed by over 190 countries and was backed by global fossil fuel companies like Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, and BP.

And yet here we are, being teased about the fate of our planet like it’s the next episode of the Apprentice.

I will be announcing my decision on Paris Accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Garden. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2017

There are already more jobs in clean energy than there are in coal and yet the President continues to try and save a dying industry.  The climate skepticism and shortsightedness of Steve Bannon, Scott Pruitt, and the President will leave the US without a seat at the international table while continuing to destroy the planet.

Mother Jones shared this video from filmmaker Ian Cheney.  “In just over 12 minutes, he explores the scale of the challenge facing humanity: scientific and technical, the emotional, psychological, and political. Cheney doesn’t pretend to offer answers or specific solutions; he only seeks to shine a light into the fog, to look for shapes and patterns, and ultimately to explore the many reasons why the problem of climate change is so difficult for humanity to even fathom, much less come together to solve.”

Lithium Top 100

While on vacation, I heard the Lithium channel on Sirius XM counting down the top 100 Alternative and Grunge songs of the 90’s.  But as my wife pointed out, “isn’t that what they always play anyway, but now it’s in order?”  Well, yeah, but…okay I see your point.

As we closed in on the top 10, she asked me who I thought number 1 would be.  Obviously it would be Nirvana’s “Teen Spirit.”  It’s always number one.  But then there it was at number 5?!?  Okay, so it must be a Pearl Jam song since we already heard Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins in the top 10.  Nope, “Alive” landed at number 3.  The Nirvana MTV Unplugged cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” came in at number 2.  What is happening?!?!?!  We reached the number one song of the list and I was thoroughly confused.  The number one alternative and grunge song of the 90’s according to the Lithium channel was “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Foo’s and “Everlong” is a great song, but the number 1 song of the 90’s Alternative and Grunge era?   No.

Here is the complete list:

Rank
Song
Artist/Band
100 Praise You Fatboy Slim
99 Scar Tissue Red Hot Chili Peppers
98 My Own Worst Enemy Lit
97 Cherub Rock Smashing Pumpkins
96 Tomorrow Silverchair
95 Learn To Fly Foo Fighters
94 In The Meantime Spacehog
93 Hey Jealousy Gin Blossoms
92 Big Empty Stone Temple Pilots
91 Closing Time Semisonic
90 Glycerine Bush
89 The Distance Cake
88 Daughter Pearl Jam
87 The Beautiful People Marilyn Manson
86 Stupid Girl Garbage
85 Otherside Red Hot Chili Peppers
84 Good Better Than Ezra
83 What’s The Frequency Kenneth? R.E.M.
82 Champagne Supernova Oasis
81 Burden In My Hand Soundgarden
80 Just A Girl No Doubt
79 In Bloom Nirvana
78 Backwater Meat Puppets
77 Brain Stew/Jaded Green Day
76 Loser Beck
75 Undone-The Sweater Song Weezer
74 I Alone Live
73 I’ll Stick Around Foo Fighters
72 Hey Man Nice Shot Filter
71 Guerrilla Radio Rage Against The Machine
70 Song 2 Blur
69 Comedown Bush
68 Flagpole Sitta Harvey Danger
67 Plush Stone Temple Pilots
66 What Would You Say Dave Matthews Band
65 1979 Smashing Pumpkins
64 Black Pearl Jam
63 Jane Says (Live) Jane’s Addiction
62 Give It Away Red Hot Chili Peppers
61 Would? Alice In Chains
60 Epic Faith No More
59 Monkey Wrench Foo Fighters
58 Low Cracker
57 Heart Shaped Box Nirvana
56 You Oughta Know Alanis Morissette
55 Man On The Moon R.E.M.
54 Buddy Holly Weezer
53 Peaches Presidents Of The United States Of America
52 Basket Case Green Day
51 Don’t Look Back In Anger Oasis
50 Fell On Black Days Soundgarden
49 Machinehead Bush
48 What I Got Sublime
47 Sabotage Beastie Boys
46 Tonight Tonight Smashing Pumpkins
45 Come Out And Play Offspring
44 Californication Red Hot Chili Peppers
43 Even Flow Pearl Jam
42 Semi-Charmed Life Third Eye Blind
41 Heaven Beside You Alice In Chains
40 Santa Monica Everclear
39 Lightning Crashes Live
38 Down 311
37 My Hero Foo Fighters
36 Possum Kingdom Toadies
35 Come As You Are Nirvana
34 Hunger Strike Temple Of The Dog
33 Interstate Love Song Stone Temple Pilots
32 Longview Green Day
31 Bittersweet Symphony The Verve
30 Killing In The Name Rage Against The Machine
29 Losing My Religion R.E.M.
28 Santeria Sublime
27 Everything Zen Bush
26 Spoonman Soundgarden
25 Rooster Alice In Chains
24 Creep Radiohead
23 Bullet With Butterfly Wings Smashing Pumpkins
22 No Rain Blind Melon
21 Lithium Nirvana
20 Self-Esteem Offspring
19 Creep Stone Temple Pilots
18 Been Caught Stealing Jane’s Addiction
17 Say It Ain’t So Weezer
16 All Over You Live
15 Wonderwall Oasis
14 When I Come Around Green Day
13 Jeremy Pearl Jam
12 Bulls On Parade Rage Against The Machine
11 Where It’s At Beck
10 Man In The Box Alice In Chains
9 Closer Nine Inch Nails
8 Under The Bridge Red Hot Chili Peppers
7 Black Hole Sun Soundgarden
6 Today Smashing Pumpkins
5 Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana
4 Vasoline Stone Temple Pilots
3 Alive Pearl Jam
2 The Man Who Sold The World (Unplugged) Nirvana
1 Everlong Foo Fighters

 

The core artists of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, STP, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Bush, and Foo Fighters make up 47 songs on the list.  However, three of the five songs from RHCP come from the Californication album, which was released in the summer of ’99 barely qualifying for this list.  Is it a good album?  Absolutely, but not so much that three of the songs should outweigh other 90’s artists left off this list.  Where’s Candlebox, Seven Mary Three, Soul Asylum, or even Collective Soul?  I about drove off the road when I heard Harvey Danger made the list, but there’s no Butthole Surfers or the Cranberries.

Lithium host, Hardy, had this to say about compiling the list:

Narrowing down a decade’s worth of music to a list of 100 was a great deal easier than one would think. It only required two teams of experts, working 1,700 miles apart. The first team consisted of 9 of the world’s top alternative and grunge music experts locked in a conference room in the former Kmart World Headquarters in Troy, MI.  These musicologists needed only 3 weeks to compile a list of songs they felt deserving of being on the Lithium Top 100.

But in what order?  That’s where the second team began their work, in a laboratory built nearly a quarter mile beneath the surface of a nondescript patch of New Mexico desert. There, 17 rogue scientists used math, Bunsen burners and a particle accelerator to determine what song was truly number 1, and which one was 2.  And 3.  And so on.

So, enjoy! And give a silent nod to the brave men and women who gave so much to give you the definitive, undeniable and absolute Lithium Top 100 Countdown. Unless you don’t agree with the list, in which case, blame Twitter and Facebook.

At best this is an arbitrary list (what list isn’t?) designed to get people like me that grew up with this music to talk about what they left out and how I would rearrange the entire thing.  Well played, Lithium.

 

Waino es bueno

What an incredible story from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.  There are no doubt similar stories of players helping players across all the teams, but I’m partial towards the Cardinals.  This makes me an even bigger fan of Wainwright’s.

 

JUPITER, Fla. • Cardinals lefty Ryan Sherriff has not had the photo on his driver’s license changed since he was 16 years old, and he adores it still because “it is probably the ugliest picture known to man.” So when a team employee came to him Wednesday and asked repeatedly for it, he immediately became suspicious.

There had to be a prank afoot.

He spent most of the game waiting for the picture from his license to pop up on the scoreboard, or to appear somewhere else that would get a laugh.

“I’m just hanging out, didn’t know anything,” Sherriff said. “Everyone was asking me, ‘What is going on? Did you get drug-tested or something? Are you getting traded or something?’ I started putting things together.”

Someone needed the license because they had realized he didn’t.

And Adam Wainwright wanted to correct that.

Every day this spring, Sherriff has made the 10- to 15-minute walk from the condo he’s renting to the ballpark. He then walks back after workouts. Unless he needs groceries. Then he walks the 10 minutes, 15 minutes in the other direction to go get groceries. On his walk early Wednesday morning, a teammate noticed Sherriff and realized that, yes, he had seen the same person making the same walk the previous two days. Each time he saw Sherriff he was further away from the ballpark, so his condo had to be a hike. So, Wainwright asked.

“Do you walk here every morning?”

“Yeah, every morning I walk,” Sherriff said.

“How do you go and get food and stuff?”

“I walk. I walk everywhere.”

“Do you want a bike?” Wainwright asked.

“No, thank you. I appreciate it.”

“Do you want a car?”

“No, thank you. I appreciate it.”

Sherriff, 26, is in major-league spring training as a non-roster invitee and trying to establish himself on the depth chart for a midseason callup if a reliever is needed. He declined an invite to pitch for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic in order to spend more time in big-league camp and further establish himself. The lefty went 7-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 49 appearances for Class AAA Memphis last season, and that was good enough to earn an invitation to the Arizona Fall League. Sherriff (pronounced like the law enforcement official) did well enough there, but not enough to earn a spot on the 40-man roster.

The Cardinals’ depth on the left side of the bullpen is depleted. Tyler Lyons (knee) will face hitters for the first time next week. Marco Gonzales (elbow) is weeks away from doing the same. Dean Kiekhefer and Tim Cooney were snatched off waivers by Seattle and Cleveland, respectively. The Cardinals healthiest, highest-rated lefty is Austin Gomber, and he’s likely ticketed for Class AA Springfield’s rotation. Sherriff offers an option should the bullpen need a lefty.

And, now, he’ll no longer have to walk to work.

Why a team employee needed his license was never explained until later in the day, when Sherriff’s phone rang. It was, he said, from a St. Louis area code. One of the clubbies was calling to tell him a Nissan Altima rental car had been delivered for him at the ballpark, all expenses paid.

“Waino got me a rental car,” Sherriff explained. “I freaked out a little bit. I started crying. I called my mom, and she started crying. Really, I’ve never had that experience. No one has ever done something so nice for me before.”

Wainwright considered it a chance to pass on past gestures. When he was a young player, Wainwright came into the clubhouse with the same collared shirts several days in row. Mark Mulder, a teammate at the time, left a box of brand new shirts for him at his locker.

“That’s the kind of thing that happened to me when I was younger,” Wainwright said. “Many many many things like that happened to me. You just kind of pass that stuff on.”

Sherriff wanted to repay the generosity.

With his new Altima nearby, the lefty called up Wainwright’s Twitter page and read the righthander’s bio. In it, “@UncleCharlie50” professes a love for Chick-Fil-A, sweet tea, and barbecue sauce. Sherriff decided he would get a gift bag, a Thank You card, and sign a baseball for Wainwright. He signed his name on the sweet spot, adding a heart on the end of it. Everything else he had to get from outside the clubhouse. He purchased for Wainwright three of his favorite things: a $20 gift card to Chick-Fil-A, a jug of sweet iced tea, and barbecue sauce*.

* UPDATE: Sherriff meant to get BBQ sauce but, he explained in the thank you, accidentally bought A1 steak sauce. “Made it even better,” Wainwright said.

Those gifts weren’t all available within walking distance.

That’s OK. Now Sherriff had a ride.

News Push Notifications

I stumbled on this article while checking out the website, medium.  With all the talk of “fake news” lately I thought this was a fascinating exploration of how the popular news outlets handle push notifications on mobile devices. Can you believe 52% of people that receive mobile news alerts don’t click through to read the story?  The author points out that, “media have an ethical responsibility to recognize the influence these updates have and to deliver them in a contextualized and unbiased manner.”

I Subscribed To Push Notifications From 12 News Outlets For 3 Months — Here’s What I Learned

News orgs need to more carefully consider their influence when sending updates

 

 

What’s a Charter School?

My sister works at a charter school and I’ve never even quite understood what that meant.  With the recent controversy over Betsy DeVos as the Education Secretary and the question of how public funds are used for education, NPR published this article today that provides a better understanding of charter schools.

Just What IS A Charter School, Anyway?

Thousands of teachers rallied in New York City’s Foley Square last October to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio take action on charter school growth.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

We’re all familiar with the term “hidden in plain sight.” Well, there may be no better way to describe the nation’s 6,900 charter schools.

These publicly-funded, privately-run schools have been around since the first one opened in St. Paul, Minn., in 1992. Today, they enroll about 3.1 million students in 43 states, so you’d think Americans should know quite a bit about them by now. But you’d be wrong.

“Most Americans misunderstand charter schools,” was the finding of the 2014 PDK/Gallup poll on public attitudes toward education. The survey found broad support for charters, but also revealed that 48 percent of Americans didn’t know charter schools were public. Fifty-seven percent thought they charged tuition. And nearly half thought charters were allowed to teach religion.

Now that the Trump administration has made school choice a cornerstone of its education policy, we thought it would be worth exploring how charter schools work, who runs them, how they’re funded and whether they work better than the traditional public schools they’re often competing against.

We asked three charter experts to help us out with a survey course. Welcome to Charter Schools 101, your professors are:

Ted Kolderie, a former journalist and senior fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He helped create the nation’s first charter law in 1991 and helped 25 states design their own.

Greg Richmond, president and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. NACSA represents people and organizations that approve and oversee charter schools in 43 states.

Nina Rees, head of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, an advocacy group that lobbies on behalf of charter schools.

What do we mean by “charter” school?

Kolderie: The term “charter” really refers to the decision by states to turn public education into a two-sector system. One is a traditional school district, centrally managed. The other, charter schools, are independent, not owned by a central school board. Both are public, but they’re organized in radically different ways.

People have to understand, chartering laws don’t create schools. It is enabling legislation that sets up a process for people to create schools. The charter sector was supposed to encourage innovation — pedagogical laboratories that would push new ways to teach, even if it was disruptive.

The charter sector [operates on] limited contracts. Their renewal is subject to performance. Charters are authorized by [groups] defined in state law. In New Jersey and Massachusetts, for example, the state is the only authorizer. Some states have created separate boards that authorize charters. Authorizers are usually non-profits and include universities but in most cases, local school boards authorize charter schools.

Rees: A local school district does not tell charters when to open or close their doors, what kind of curriculum to use, what company to contract for food or paper. Charters have the freedom to hire teachers without a union contract.

What does an authorizer do?

Richmond: They receive and evaluate proposals then decide if a charter school should come into existence. If a charter is approved, the authorizer monitors the school’s performance. Typically, five years later, the school’s charter comes up for review and the authorizer decides if the school should stay open. None of the 43 states with charter school laws permit an authorizer to be a for-profit entity.

Can teachers open a charter school? Wasn’t that the idea when the concept was first seriously considered in the 1980s?

Kolderie: Yes. The first charter opened in East St. Paul, Minn. It was started by a workers’ cooperative organized by teachers. Minnesota may be the only state where a teachers union can authorize charter schools.

But a charter school can be for-profit right? Fifteen percent of the nation’s 6,900 charters are for-profit.

Richmond: A charter school can hire a for-profit company to manage its school. Only one out of six charters in the U.S. are run to make money. In Michigan, 80 percent are for profit, more than any other state. Some states, like New York, prohibit charters from contracting with a for-profit management company.

Are charters funded the same way traditional public schools are, with a mix of local, state and federal dollars?

Richmond: In a couple of states, charters don’t get local money. But, in most cases, these [three funding sources] are common. Private donors are less common but also important.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools says charters get less money. Is that true?

Rees: On average, charters receive 30 percent less per pupil, per year compared to traditional public schools. That gap is due in large part to the fact that charters don’t have access to the same funding streams [like school construction bonds] that traditional school systems have to build schools.

Transportation is another issue. [Charters] draw students from all over but we have to provide our own transportation, or parents rely on public transportation, because school districts do not make their buses available to charter schools.

Ted Kolderie, do you agree that charters get 30 percent less money?

Kolderie: Yeah, I’ve heard that figure. Its cited often by charter advocates. But the method and level of financing charter schools varies widely state to state, from “pretty good” to awfully weak.

Do charters get the same amount of federal aid from IDEA, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, and Title I, which targets low income students?

Rees: Technically yes. But its hard to track how the money is distributed. If a charter operates under a school district, the funding gets opaque.

Richmond: Each state has its own laws and regulations for distributing that money to districts and individual schools.

The only federal money that I know of that flows directly to charter schools is “start-up” money from the U.S. Education Department to help charter schools open. That began under president Bill Clinton.

What kind of kids enroll in charter schools and do charters take all comers like traditional public schools?

Rees: Charter schools have to accept all students. If they get more than they have slots for, the school has to conduct a lottery.

Kolderie: Traditional district schools don’t take everybody. Superintendents talk as if they do, but they only have to take the children of families who can afford to live in their district. There are all kinds of charters enrolling all kinds of kids. The strongest support for charters has been among parents who had never gone beyond a high school education. That’s where the strongest preference remains.

Aren’t charter schools often accused of “creaming,” not taking kids with special needs?

Rees: Charters cannot pick the students they want. They have to accept kids with disabilities and ELLs, English language learners. Right now, charter schools are tilted to serve low-income kids. Over 50 percent [of students in charter schools] are from black and Latino households, mostly in inner cities.

Kolderie: The charter sector is still a public system. It has to be free, open. No tuition, no teaching religion, no picking and choosing kids.

Are states consistent in how they evaluate charter schools and are they held to the same performance standards as traditional public schools?

Richmond: In general, they’re evaluated based on test scores, graduation rates, finances — the same as traditional public schools. But there’s great inconsistency state-to-state in how well that’s done. We need better oversight of charters. Charter supporters don’t want a lot of oversight. The good news is that we know what good oversight looks like in terms of balancing autonomy with accountability.

Who is responsible for making sure “bad” charters are shut down? And how much time do they have to show they’re doing well?

Rees: Charters, on average get 3-5 years to ramp up. Research indicates that charter schools that start out strong continue to do well and those that start weak do not get better over time. A failing school should be closed immediately or turned over to another charter school operator.

Kolderie: When a charter school is not doing well, if the authorizer fails to act, the state has to step in. Most closures are due to financial reasons and poor management.

What about online charters, or “cyber schools”?

Richmond: Cyber schools have not done a good job for most kids. Many studies have evaluated their performance and I have yet to find one that’s shown they’re good. … Taxpayers are paying an enormous amount of money to those operators and kids are being shortchanged.