Thursday, January 30, 2003

Here's something interesting I received from the periodic email sent out by Sustainable St. Louis:

Ever wondered how much "nature" your lifestyle requires? You're about to
find out.

This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water
you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15
easy questions you'll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what
other people use and to what is available on this planet.


My score was 12, about 1/2 that of the average US resident. Still, that means if everyone lived like I do, we'd need 2.7 planets.

Looks like I have some work to do.
Lately I've been looking at houses - I'm planning to sell the tiny house I own in South St. Louis's Marine Villa neighborhood, hopefully to somebody who will do a little better job of actually rehabbing it. My carpentry and general construction skills are quite limited, like my motor skills.

My plan is to buy a two-family "flat", as we call duplexes in the local vernacular, and rent out part of it, living in the other unit. Seems feasible, especially if the rent payment I get is more than the mortgage payment.

In this process, I've noticed a few things:

-Many of the local financial institutions have their mortgage division offices in St. Louis County or other suburban locations. So it's tough if you don't own a car, to be able to get access to capital to buy a house in the City of St. Louis.

- Urban insurance agents seem to focus on marketing car insurance, much more than suburban agents, who seem interested in homeowners insurance as much as car insurance. That's not always true for either group of course - but I guess that reflects the higher percentage of renters in urban locations.

- There sure are a lot of properties available throughout the City. However, they ain't always in real great shape.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

This week, I understand St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay's official slate of candidates for the St Louis School Board was announced.

I don't know who they are though, and can't find an article nor a mayoral press release about it.

I have heard the slate includes former Mayor Vince Schoemehl, now CEO of Grand Center Inc., and Bob Archibald, head of the Missouri Historical Society. Also Ron Jackson, who I believe is the husband of former school board president Hattie Jackson.

According to Jo Mannies' column in the St Louis Post-Dispatch, current board member Amy Hilgemann is backing a 4-member slate consisting of Yolanda Brown, Mark Harrington, Peter Downs and Antonio French.

Mr. French is a controversial character, publisher of the Public Defender indie newspaper, which has not appeared for a few months, despite his taking subscriptions. I've never met him, but on the StLouisT e-mail list, he is the source of often challenging debate.

Another candidate I know of is John Kintree, who has been active in promoting community-based technology efforts for many years, including as a volunteer in the St. Louis Public Schools.

On the Missouri School Boards Association website there is a pamphlet for school board candidate training. It lists the qualifications for school board membership. Bizarrely, St. Louis School Board members' qualifications are different from those in the rest of the state.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Haven't posted in a couple days.

One interesting thing to happen lately is St Louis Public Schools Superintendent Cleveland Hammonds announced his retirement.

(Unfortunately the SLPS web site is down and has been for weeks, inexplicably, so I can't link to any info about him on the web. And of course if I tried to link to anything on the St Louis Post Dispatch web site, the link would be broken within 24 hrs - you'd get a "Lotus Notes" exception since they move articles pretty quickly into the fee-charged archives.

And they even, with the latest redesign, got rid of the last seven days' free archives. Aaack!

Enough complaining about the P-D. How about Danforth Foundation? Instead of spending the big $$ they certainly made from the sale of Ralston Purina to Nestle on investing in neighborhoods and downtown St. Louis, two of their current focuses, they decided the big bucks should go to biotech research.

$100 million, to be precise. And this is not even for basic research at WashU, or UMSL. No, this is for research into commercial applications of biotech - or, as they call it in the positive-spin world, "plant and life sciences".

This seems foolish - believing that the BioBelt will drive the St. Louis economy for the next 20 years. Why not invest in IT instead? At least, there's not likely to be a backlash against computers and the Internet in Europe, yuppie America, or the agricultural developing world. However, all three of these communities are resisting biotech foods.

Just something to ponder. So, how much further down the wrong path can the St Louis region go?

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how it is this big tax cut will stimulate the economy.

Meanwhile, I see war in Iraq is imminent - but I pray not in North Korea.

Here in St. Louis, the former St. Louis Economic Conversion Project -
now known as the Peace Economy Project - has unveiled its new website.

Check out

Peace and love

"I'm from the Lou' and I'm proud" - Nelly & the St Lunatics, "Country Grammar" from Country Grammar
Today most of my time at work focused on trying to update the Census tract profiles on the City of St. Louis Community Information Network web site.

Hopefully I'll get it done by the end of the week. It's juicy stuff, sort of - levels of education, household income and unemployment, which are often used as proxies for race and class distinctions.

Today was a big day in the world of elections and nominations in the US:

Eddie Murray and Gary Carter were elected for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY.

Dennis Hastert was reelected and sworn in as Speaker of the House.

Bill Frist, the only medical doctor in the US Senate, was elected Senate majority leader.

Both of course are Republicans.

On the Democrat side, Senator Tom Daschle announced he will not run for President.

Meanwhile Dick Gephardt is still running for President - but not for his long-held 3rd Congressional District seat in St. Louis, MO.

Who might run, I wonder?

State Senator Steve Stoll of Jefferson County
City of St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay
City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce?

Interesting times in the political world, to be sure.

Also, Grammy award nominees were announced. Album of the Year nominees include:

St. Louis's own Nelly

Canadian teen rocker Avril Lavigne

The jazzy Norah Jones

Obviously I'm sending my love to Nelly...

You can even vote for Nelly on the American Music Awards web site - the "Fan's Choice Award" will be given to the winner of the poll on the awards show January 13th.

That's all for now.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Why is it so hard to get people interested in IT related public policy?

At the GlobalCN Congress in Montreal in October '02, which I attended, there was considerable discussion on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

The WSIS will, I predict, be manipulated by the multinational corporations, and their cohorts in Washington, to make the Internet a less free place over the next five years.

What can we do about it?

There is a fascinating web site called TakingITGlobal which provides a forum for youth from across the world to discuss all kinds of issues. One of its initiatives is a youth caucus for the WSIS.

Check it out.
HI! - this is the start of my blog.

My name is Joe Frank and I live in the City of St. Louis, Missouri USA.

Hopefully I will find time to post interesting stuff here soon.

For now, let me just link you to this very scary speech by President George W. Bush
from Friday, made at Fort Hood in Texas:

President Rallies Troops at Fort Hood

Yes, he did just say the 1st Calvary and 4th Infantry divisions of the US Army are "The key ingredients to the home of America's hammer."

And yes, the audience response was: "Hooah!"