Thursday, November 3, 2011

Notes - 11/4/11

1. "Mama Lucy", was not able to find quality education for her children in Northern Tanzania - and had to send them to a boarding school is neighboring Kenya . She decided that she didn't want any other Tanzanian mother to have to send their children away to school.
Mama Lucy and my wife Judy
The public education system in Tanzania was over burdened and underfunded and did not prepare students for the transition from instruction in Swahili to English that occurred as students went on to secondary school. When she was able to collect enough financial support to start her school in Arusha, she was recognized as an model grass roots organization leader, and she came to the attention of a young American couple ( Stacy and Sanjay ) who specialize in providing marketing support.
Classroom in Mama Lucy's school
With their internet skills they have been able to establish a wide reaching fund-raising campaign - and Mama Lucy's school has been able to expand - adding classrooms for grades 1-6 education, a school library building, a dormitory and kitchen.
Students gathered together in school courtyard
Now she is expanding to provide high school education as well - building a high school one grade at a time each year as funds become available. Mama is currently in the US on a fund raising venture. We became friends with her while we were in Arusha, summer of 2010. We had taken suit cases filled with books for her library.
School garden which grows vegetables for the school lunch program

This last week, we were able to have dinner with Mama Lucy, Stacy, Sanjay, and two visiting Tanzanian students. It was so interesting to learn of the progress she has made and the plans for the future. She is truly a remarkable person!

School Library - Mama Lucy's school

Mama Lucy thinks of her school as an ongoing miracle as she sees each new phase emerge. It has made life changing opportunities available for her students - and it has all come about because of small contributions from many people around the world.

Students learn computer skills in Mama Lucy's school

2. Seeing Mama Lucy made me think how marvelous we human being are - imagine how many faces each of us can recognize on sight. Stored within the neurons of our brains we can store image recognition - (How do you store image recognition in the electrochemical activity of neurons?!)

Face 1: My sister in law "Susan"

Have you ever had the experience of being in a distant location,seeing a face, and instantly recognizing this person even if you met them for only a short time years ago, then quickly reconstructing name,relationship, and details about this person...How many people do you suppose you recognize on sight - Several thousands? Perhaps more...

Face 2 and 3: My Son and Daughter in Law: "Peter and Marila"

To test the concept - go to a high school reunion - where you haven't seen the people for 30 - 40 - 50 years...

Face 5: My nephew : "CAB" - "Conroe"

Astonishing that memory of faces have been lurking in our neurons all these years without any conscious recollection of these folks...and yet one glance and you say "Jim" "Alice" ... "good to see you".

Faces 6 and 7: My nephews wife "Brenna" and my niece "Tracy"

I have heard it said that one reason older people sometimes have trouble remembering faces - is that we have so many faces to keep straight - its like a computer that has many files to examine.

Faces 8 and 9 ; My wife "Judy" and son "Andrew"

Besides, how many people named Mike or Mary do you know? It takes a lot of neural processing to come up with the correct name... But then again this might be a "cop out" for just plain forgetting. One thing for sure memory can be a "slippery fish" - one minute you can not recall - and then when you are no longer trying, the memory will come back completely. Go figure...

Something is badly out of kilter here

3. It's very difficult to estimate large crowds - Some say "a few thousands", some say over 10,000 people gathered Wednesday in a central Oakland California plaza to express frustration. Each person came for their own reason. Each person there had to first struggle with him or herself to make the decision to put their body in that crowd. Some came to express frustration with banks that were unresponsive to foreclosures of their homes. Some were outraged with insurance companies that were more bent on collecting money than in providing necessary medical care.

San Francisco Financial District

Some were college graduates starting life with massive debts that would require many years to repay. There were men and women, young and seniors, all the different ethics groups of the SF Bay area, their were teachers outraged at the lack of funding for California schools, Longshoremen and dock workers concerned for “big business” policies that would block union organizing, their were seniors who had lost their savings during the Wall street fiasco after they were told investments were safe when the companies knew otherwise.

San Francisco Water Front District

There were a few bent on promoting their personal agenda and some who just wanted to sew the seeds of disruption. A prime focus of the "Occupy" movement is to ensure that the rallies remain peaceful - large crowds of protesters were chanting “ Peaceful demonstration” “ This is a peaceful demonstration”. I feel frustrated when I see the press tar the demonstrators all with the same brush – the motivation of the individuals was way to complex to do that. It is an insult to the serious Americans involved who were there because they care deeply! They were exercising their right to peaceful assembly and redress of grievance against a system that has failed to be responsive to their legitimate concerns. I am concerned when I see a general strike harm small businesses that have no part in causing the problem - I think this is misdirected action. I still prefer taking more direct action like moving your money out of a big bank and placing it in a local credit union. That is specific and sends a real message.

I did not attend the march – but I have talked to several who were there (students, teachers, friends)… through the day they listened to speeches, had street theater presentations, heard music, and gathered at various points in the Oakland financial area… Everything proceeded in an orderly manner until late in the evening, when a small group of trouble makers unrelated to the "Occupy Movement" started damaging property –and when the police responded they fought back against the police… and arrests were justifiably made. The next day groups of the Occupy movement were back on the street to paint over graffiti, to aid in the clean up, and to help repair damage caused by the trouble makers. They didn't pay small businesses that had their business stopped for the day or pay for broken windows...

San Francisco residential area

4. I imagine you have heard the story that Whirlpool is the latest American company ready to move their operation off shore. About 1000 jobs will be lost. It is true! Giving large corporations tax cuts does not support job creation here. In past years, Whirlpool has paid a lower tax rate than average citizens and the profits of their company have gone to shareholders rather than to create jobs. Now they take their profits and establish an offshore factory! Their products will be shipped back to the US for us to buy and produce more profit for their pockets. For more on cooperate taxes and big businesses dont miss this article:

"Thirty major US corporations paid no federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010"

"Thirty large and profitable Fortune 500 corporations paid no federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010, according to a new study Thursday on corporate loopholes. In fact, the 30 companies enjoyed a negative effective income tax rate over the three-year period, even as they earned pre-tax profits of $160 billion, according to two think tanks, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. A negative tax rate represents a tax benefit like a credit, not necessarily direct funds from the government."
And the Republicans want to reward these folks with lower taxes still?