Archive for June 10, 2008

Southwest Florida Woman Bitten by Coyote

ESTERO, Fla. — A woman was bitten by a coyote in the latest of an increasing number of encounters with the wild animals in southwest Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission saids Deborah Berry was treated for a bite on her right calf Sunday night. She’s getting rabies shots as a precaution.

Berry said she was walking her Dachshund on a leash when the coyote appeared, grabbed the dog and tried to run away. She struggled with the animal to get the dog away. The Dachshund, named Ellie, survived and is recovering.

Authorities said it was the latest in a handful of attacks on small dogs by coyotes, which may be roaming to find food for their young.

Dog owners are now being encouraged to carry sticks or clubs on their walks.

Source: News4Jax

A 50 lb. coyote can seriously injure/kill a person, particularly a small one. Just sayin’.

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Farmers Who Plant–Or Replant–After June 20 May see Yields Halved

A costly deadline looms for many growers in the Midwest, as every day of waiting for the weather to cooperate to plant corn and soybeans reduces potential yields.

Illinois growers who plant corn or soybeans near the end of June can expect a 50 percent reduction in crop yield, according to a University of Illinois agriculture expert.

The US Department of Agriculture reports that corn and soybean growers in several Midwestern states are behind schedule on their planting. A cooler and wetter-than-average spring has left Illinois and Indiana furthest behind on planted corn and soybeans. Several other states are lagging behind their normal planting schedules, but by a lesser margin.

In Illinois, 95 percent of the corn is planted and 88 percent has emerged, but less than half of that is reported to be in good or excellent condition. Fully 14 percent of the acres planted are in poor or very poor condition, with another 38 percent reported as “fair.” Those acres in poor or very poor condition may have to be replanted.

In Illinois, the corn was only seven inches high as of June 9, compared to an average 17 inches by this time in recent years.

“This has been a bad spring by most measures,” said Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger. “We keep seeing forecasts that look favorable and then that doesn’t happen. The chance of having above-average yields has diminished greatly.”

Cool temperatures and the third wettest January-April since 1895 in Illinois have led to delays that are undercutting potential yields. Nafziger’s analysis of previous years’ corn planting data in Illinois determined that “we can expect 50 percent of the maximum yield when planting is done around June 15 to 20.”

Those growing soybeans in southern Illinois may get 50 percent of their maximum yield if they plant no later than June 25 to 30, he said.

Some growers – in southern Illinois especially – will have to replant as wet conditions have caused some seed to rot.

Despite the poor conditions, Nafziger finds it encouraging that 95 percent of Illinois corn acres have already been planted. While some acres will have to be replanted, high temperatures should help boost the growth rate of what has survived so far, he said.

Soybeans are further behind. Only 66 percent of the soybean crop was in the ground as of June 9 in Illinois, compared to an average 92 percent planted by this time in recent years.

Most growers will not get the yields they expected, but high prices for their crops – and crop insurance – should see them through, Nafziger said.

“Even with high costs, the yield needed to cover costs is relatively low when corn is more than $6 a bushel,” he said. “But we’re looking at some real disappointment at having so much income potential not realized this year due to weather-related crop problems.”

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The stormy weather this week probably hasn’t helped much.

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FCAT Scores are IN!

From Jacksonville.com: Scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test are up state-wide and in Northeast Florida, according to information released this morning.

Students at almost every grade level earned higher marks than the previous year’s class in reading, science and math. The tests were given in the spring.

Locally, scores improved for high school freshmen and sophomores, especially in reading. In Clay County, ninth graders reading at or above grade level jumped to 55 percent this year from 45 percent in 2007. In Duval, 41 percent of ninth graders scored at or above grade level in reading, up from 37 percent last year. Here and state-wide, fifth graders performed poorly when compared with previous classes.

I’ll post about the scores for Nassau county later in the afternoon.

UPDATE:

Percentage of students at or above grade level in reading in district (Nassau)/state:

Third grade: 85/72

Fourth grade: 79/70

Fifth grade: 79/67

Sixth grade: 75/63

Seventh grade: 73/65

Eight grade: 60/53

Ninth grade: 49/46

Tenth grade: 45/38

Percent of students passing 10th grade reading FCAT district (Nassau)/state: 67/57

Percentage of students working at or above grade level in mathematics in district (Nassau)/state:

Third grade: 85/76

Fourth grade: 76/71

Fifth grade: 73/61

Sixth grade: 69/53

Seventh grade: 68/61

Eight grade: 73/67

Ninth grade: 70/65

Tenth grade: 75/69

Percentage of students passing 10th grade mathematics FCAT district (Nassau)/state: 86/81.

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Are We Doing a Disservice By Attempting to Send Everybody to College?

I think so. This has been the subject in the faculty lunchroom more than once. Some people are just not going to be able to succeed in college. Some people cannot succeed in completing high school work.

America, ever-idealistic, seems wary of the vocational-education track. We are not comfortable limiting anyone’s options. Telling someone that college is not for him seems harsh and classist and British, as though we were sentencing him to a life in the coal mines. I sympathize with this stance; I subscribe to the American ideal. Unfortunately, it is with me and my red pen that that ideal crashes and burns.

Sending everyone under the sun to college is a noble initiative. Academia is all for it, naturally. Industry is all for it; some companies even help with tuition costs. Government is all for it; the truly needy have lots of opportunities for financial aid. The media applauds it—try to imagine someone speaking out against the idea. To oppose such a scheme of inclusion would be positively churlish. But one piece of the puzzle hasn’t been figured into the equation, to use the sort of phrase I encounter in the papers submitted by my English 101 students. The zeitgeist of academic possibility is a great inverted pyramid, and its rather sharp point is poking, uncomfortably, a spot just about midway between my shoulder blades.

For I, who teach these low-level, must-pass, no-multiple-choice-test classes, am the one who ultimately delivers the news to those unfit for college: that they lack the most-basic skills and have no sense of the volume of work required; that they are in some cases barely literate; that they are so bereft of schemata, so dispossessed of contexts in which to place newly acquired knowledge, that every bit of information simply raises more questions. They are not ready for high school, some of them, much less for college.

I am the man who has to lower the hammer.

Source:

I would wish for more schools to have a strong vocational track. Unfortunately, schools have to keep the core classes and eliminate the teachers and/or equipment for things like the auto repair course that used to be offered in the local high school. Agriculture and forestry have been eliminated. When I was in high school, there were electronics classes where we built radios. No more.

Perhaps other states are doing better for their non-college-track students. I certainly hope so. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if we had strong vocational classes in addition to college prep classes, perhaps the dropout rate would be lower as the students would be taking classes that they perceived as having some (economic) value to them. We’re telling a lot of kids (and adults) that they need to go to college that cannot possibly succeed in college, and that is a waste of resources and talent when people are set up for failure.

It may also explain some of the strange degree programs that we’ve seen at the universities, snorted, and thought “good luck making a living with THAT degree”.

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Fired Salesman Accidentally Firebombs Himself

DULUTH, GA (AP) — A former employee of an AM radio station in Duluth faces arson and other charges after police said he tried to set the business on fire with a firebomb. But authorities said the plan backfired when the molotov cocktail they believed he was carrying exploded and set him on fire.

The incident happened Monday afternoon at Korean Media Group. Police described 51-year-old Hong Chae as a disgruntled ex-salesman who had recently been fired. He was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center, where was treated and released. A station employee also suffered minor burns when he tried to stop Chae.

The incendiary device caused minor damage to the building.

Source: First Coast News

There’s a Korean Media Group in Duluth, Georgia? I did not know that. Anyway, how embarrassing is it when you get fired, you’re going to make a big statement by burning the company down, and all you manage to do is burn yourself? Almost makes it look like the firing was justified.

Seriously, whatever happened to getting fired, going to work for a rival of the company, and then working so hard that your old company goes out of business? There’s no such thing as guaranteed employment. Deal with it.

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