The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago, according to new federal figures demonstrating the staying power of reforms even amid economic turbulence.
The drop results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place.
The average length of stay in foster care has been reduced by more than 10 percent since 2002, according to the report. The mean stay is now 23.7 months.
Of the children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 52 percent were boys. Twenty-one percent were Hispanic, 27 percent black and 41 percent white; 104,236 of them were available for adoption.
Source: The Washington Post – Number of children in foster care drops for 6th straight year, to 400,000, despite hard times
A poisonous spider is aggressively colonizing Southern California.
Now, take a deep breath: The spread of brown widows could actually be good thing.
Newly released research suggests nonnative brown widows are pushing out more dangerous (and native) western black widows. Most of the time, brown widows have a bite similar to that of common household spiders, producing only a red mark and slight pain, according to the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside.
“The most common thing, anecdotally, that homeowners are saying is, ‘I used to have 3 or 4 black widows and now I have 10 to 15 brown widows,’” said Richard Vetter, a retired researcher at UC Riverside and lead author of a recent study about the interaction between the arachnids.
Learn more: U-T San Diego – Brown widows crawl across SoCal sprawl
A recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, based on data from 2008, shows a few interesting changes.
- African-americans are catching up in terms of long life, though still behind.
- Both white men and women increased their average life expectancy by 0.9 years.
- African-american men increased theirs by 2 years and women by 1.8 years.
See the graph below.
The strange thing for me (a white male), in that 5 year period my own life expectancy rose nearly a year. If that continues, doing a little math, I can expect to live for 85-87 years (on average). That’s pretty cool.
Eight percent of adult Internet users said they log on to Twitter every day, up from the 4% who said the same last year, according to the Pew Research Center, which conducted the survey.
That number was even higher for young adults. One in five Internet users ages 18 to 24 are using the website each day, and nearly one-third of all users that age are on Twitter.
Another interesting fact from the survey is African Americans use Twitter twice as much as other ethnic groups. More than a quarter, 28%, of black Internet users are on Twitter as opposed to Hispanic, 12%, and white Internet users, 14%.
Black Americans are consistently the second-highest US consumers of mobile data services by ethnic demographic. And, they are highly active on the Internet and on their mobile devices, watching video, networking with their social connections, and making purchases, according to [pdf] Nielsen’s latest Cross-Platform Report.
Nielsen examined the media habits of the digital black consumer in the US
In some key online activities, black Americans track far higher than the average.
via Marketing Charts
Percent who used the following (and their rank among demographics):
- Text Messaging – 79% (1st)
- Mobile Internet – 58% (1st)
- Email – 48% – (2nd)
- Picture Downloads – 30% (2nd)
- Mobile Video – 20% (3rd)
- Music Downloads – 18% (2nd)
For a look at the future of digital museums, check out the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory’s new digital archive composed of thousands of scanned documents from the African leader’s life.
With the help of a $1.25 million grant from Google, the center digitized thousands of documents and images that illustrate the life and times of South Africa’s first black president. But instead of scanning them and dumping them online for scholars to peruse, the center, with Google’s support, created a virtual museum experience — highlighting certain pieces from the archives, putting them in the context of Mandela’s life and then enabling a visitor to the site to go deeper if they’d like.
The exhibit is organized by different phases of Mandela’s life, such as “Early Life,” “Prison Years,” “Presidential Years” and “Retirement.” As you move through the different sections, you’ll find the earliest known photograph of Mandela, scans of the desk calendars where he scribbled notes during his 27 years in prison, and handwritten notes he sent his daughters — including one written shortly after the arrest of their mother.
via L.A. Times
“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say:
“You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please.
Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep. When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?
When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.
If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you. And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.
When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”
// From – Spring in the Air
Note that it says the Queen prefers:
- 29% – blue
- 13% – floral
- 11% – cream or green
- 10% – pink or purple
- 4% – red, orange, or yellow
- 2% – black
- 1% – checkered or beige
And, some close-ups.
An interesting story from the New York Times shows how current president of Harvey Mudd College, Maria Klawe, turned her school into a computer science powerhouse for women.
She started her work in 2006, amidst a big downturn in female computer science graduates. “As recently as 1985, 37 percent of graduates in the field were women; by 2005 it was down to 22 percent, and sinking.”
Harvey Mudd was even worse with graduates in the single digits. This year that rate is nearly 40% and here’s how it happened:
In 2005, the year before Dr. Klawe arrived, a group of faculty members embarked on a full makeover of the introductory computer science course, a requirement at Mudd.
Known as CS 5, the course focused on hard-core programming, appealing to a particular kind of student — young men, already seasoned programmers, who dominated the class. This only reinforced the women’s sense that computer science was for geeky know-it-alls.
To reduce the intimidation factor, the course was divided into two sections — “gold,” for those with no prior experience, and “black” for everyone else. Java, a notoriously opaque programming language, was replaced by a more accessible language called Python. And the focus of the course changed to computational approaches to solving problems across science.
“We realized that we needed to show students computer science is not all about programming,” said Ran Libeskind-Hadas, chairman of the department. “It has intellectual depth and connections to other disciplines.”
Dr. Klawe supported the cause wholeheartedly, and provided money from the college for every female freshman to travel to the annual Grace Hopper conference, named after a pioneering programmer. The conference, where freshmen are surrounded by female role models, has inspired many a first-year “Mudder” to explore computer science more seriously.
via NY Times
About 37 million people tuned in to the Academy Awards last year, and a great deal rides on the show’s outcome…Yet the roster of all 5,765 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a closely guarded secret.
The organization does not publish a membership list.
A Los Angeles Times study found that academy voters are markedly less diverse than the moviegoing public…Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%.
Oscar voters have a median age of 62. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.
Some members see it simply as a mirror of hiring patterns in Hollywood, while others say it reflects the group’s mission to recognize achievement rather than promote diversity. Many said the academy should be much more representative.
Caucasians currently make up 90% or more of every academy branch except actors, whose roster is 88% white. The academy’s executive branch is 98% white, as is its writers branch.
Men compose more than 90% of five branches. Of the academy’s 43-member board of governors, six are women; public relations executive Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the sole person of color.
“I don’t see any reason why the academy should represent the entire American population. That’s what the People’s Choice Awards are for,” said (former president of the Academy) Frank Pierson, who still serves on the board of governors. “We represent the professional filmmakers, and if that doesn’t reflect the general population, so be it.”
The 2011 (Oscar) ceremony was staged without a single black male presenter.