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August 19, 2013

Small town librarian starts meanspirited feud with 9-year-old boy

The boy consistently wins the summer reading challenge by, well, reading more than everyone else. The librarian, who clearly has escaped into our dimension from a YA novel, has decided that effort and following the rules are no way to win contests and has decided to make this kid's life hell. Librarian suggests turning the page on longtime reading club winner
HUDSON FALLS — Tyler Weaver calls himself “the king of the reading club” at Hudson Falls Public Library. But now it seems Hudson Falls Public Library Director Marie Gandron wants to end his reign and have him dethroned. The 9-year-old boy, who will be starting fifth grade next month, won the six-week-long “Dig into Reading” event by completing 63 books from June 24 to Aug. 3, averaging more than 10 a week. He has consistently been the top reader since kindergarten, devouring a total of 373 books over the five contests, according to his mother, Katie. . . . Everybody, it seems, but Gandron, who was surprised to learn Katie notified a Post-Star reporter about her son being a longtime winner. During a phone call Tuesday to Gandron, the library director said Tyler “hogs” the contest every year and he should “step aside.” “Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,” Gandron said. Gandron further told the reporter she planned to change the rules of the contest so that instead of giving prizes to the children who read the most books, she would draw names out of a hat and declare winners that way. She said she can’t now because Katie has come forward to the newspaper. Gandron said she has an “attitude” about the contest because several years ago a little girl came in claiming she had read more than 200 books. Her mother backed her up, but it was discovered the girl was lying. “That’s when we stopped (taking a child’s and parent’s word) because she wasn’t (reading the books),” Gandron said. Gandron said the rules require each child to read books suitable to his or her grade level or higher. When the book is returned to the library, the child pulls a random slip of paper out of a jar and a library aide poses questions to verify whether he actually knows the content. Queries include identifying the child’s favorite character or asking the reader what part of the book he would change and why. Gandron said “as far as (she) knows” Tyler has fulfilled the requirements because he was able to answer everything related to the stories. His prizes, in separate years, included an atlas, T-shirt, water bottle and certificates of achievement. “They’re really not any grand things. I think he just likes to be the top reader,” Katie said. . . .

August 13, 2013

Gas pipeline explodes near Pawnee

Natural Gas Pipeline Causes Cornfield To Explode In Western Illinois | ThinkProgress
A little after 11 p.m. local time in the western Illinois town of Erie, residents heard a massive blast and then saw flames shooting 300 feet into the air, visible for 20 miles. A cornfield had just exploded. Underneath the cornfield, a natural gas pipeline carrying gas byproducts ethane and propane had somehow ruptured, caught fire, and exploded, sending gouts of smoke into the air. Around 80 families within a one-mile radius of the blast were initially evacuated, though by Tuesday morning, all but two had returned to their homes. This eyewitness video of the fire following the blast reported that air traffic controllers in Kansas City, Missouri heard from overflying aircraft that they could see this fire in Pawnee, Illinois — more than 160 miles from Erie.

August 09, 2013

AT&T Got Werner Herzog to Make a Driver's Ed Film about Texting-while-Driving

*Whoa.* Werner Herzog is exactly the right human to do...

August 03, 2013

Abandoned Walmart is Now America’s Largest Library

Abandoned Walmart is Now America’s Largest Library | WebUrbanist

July 31, 2013

Noam Chomsky and a "Journalist" Walk into a Bar . . .

I continue to write a monthly column for the Ann...

July 19, 2013

Ditching abstinence education drops the teen birth rate by 60%

It turns out that if you teach teens how to use birth control, they don't get as pregnant. Thanks To Better Sex Ed, California's Teen Birth Rate Has Plummeted By 60 Percent | ThinkProgress
California’s teen birth rate has plummeted to the lowest level that it’s been in the past 20 years, according to new data from the state’s health department. The state’s rate now stands at 28 births for every 1,000 teenage girls — a 60 percent drop since 1991, when the rate peaked at 70.9 births for every 1,000 girls. Public health experts directly attribute this success to state laws that require California’s public schools to offer comprehensive sex ed classes with scientifically accurate information about birth control. State officials also credited family planning programs that provide community-based resources to teens. “We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.