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Monday, October 31, 2011

What do World Population Shifts Mean for the Future?

The Sun had a chart on Sunday that compared where the world population lived in 1950 as compared to 2010. During that time the world's population doubled but dramatically changed where the world's population lived. The dramatic shifts were in the percentage increases in the population in Africa and Asia.  In 1950 Africa had 230 million people and in 2010 they had 1 billion.  Asia in 1950 had 1.4 billion and in 2010 they had 4.2 billion.  Europe had the smallest increase in this time frame from 547 million to 738 million. North America doubled in population but South America passed it in total population.

The other population change during this period was with the movement of people from the country to cities. Again this was most pronounced in Africa and Asia.  In 1950 the largest cities in the world were New York, Tokyo and London.  In 2010 the largest cities were Tokyo, New Delhi and Sao Paulo.  New York is now 6th. Seven of the largest cities are now in Asia. Since the industrial growth generally occurs in cities and the increase in pollution is generally associated with industrial growth how will the world control global warming?  Will it be a losing battle?

What does the future hold for population grow?  The population of China has been slowing as its "one child" policy is now over 20 years old.  The population of India continues to grow rapidly and it may not be too far in the future that it passes China as the world's most populated country.  Europe seems likely to continue to have slow grow as many European countries already are at zero growth or below.  In North America only Mexico shows much population growth.  In the United States the growth of the Hispanic population will generate much of our future population growth. With the lack of birth control in Africa and South America they will likely continue to outpace the other parts of the world in population growth.

One factor to watch in regards to future population growth  is how advancements in the education of women throughout the world impacts population growth.  It is widely know that one impact of women being educated is that they choose to have smaller families. One factor for this difference is that the more education a woman has the later she is likely to marry.  Another is that the frequency of the use of birth control being directly related to educational levels of women.  This even holds true in the United States with more women going to college and beyond and the trend for marrying at a later age. Average family size in the United States has shrunk from 4.6 members a hundred years ago to 2.4 members today.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes

I have blogged on the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore before and want to mention about an exhibit they have now until the end of the year.  This is what there website says about the exhibit:

LOST for centuries. FOUND by the Walters Art Museum. Discover how an international team of experts resurrected the hidden manuscript of the ancient world's greatest thinker, Archimedes of Syracuse. Exhibition runs Oct.16-Jan.1.
In Jerusalem in 1229 AD the greatest works of the Greek mathematician Archimedes were erased and overwritten with a prayer book by a priest called Johannes Myronas. In the year 2000 a project was begun by a team of experts at the Walters Art Museum to read these erased texts. By the time they had finished, the team that worked on the book had recovered Archimedes' secrets, rewritten the history of mathematics and discovered entirely new texts from the ancient world. This exhibition will tell that famous story. It will recount the history of the book, detail the patient conservation, explain the cutting-edge imaging and highlight the discoveries of the dogged and determined scholars who finally read what had been obliterated.
The exhibition Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes will conclude with two galleries that ask "What will we discover next?" In six interactive learning stations, conservation staff will present artworks from the Walters' collection to illustrate the very real questions that start the process of learning and discovery through research. For example, you will be invited to consider why a Kentucky Long rifle is associated with a pastoral 19th-century drawing by Rosa Bonheur, to explore what Ethiopian painting and manuscript illustration have to do with colorful minerals on display, and to ponder how silver preservation could be revolutionized by recent advances in nanotechnology.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Best Chili Recipe in the World- Really!

OK so I over-hyped the chili in the title of this blog but it is a favorite in our house.  With the cold weather this week and maybe our first snow of the season I always start to think of making chili.  Somehow warm weather is not the time for chili.  So as I drain the outside water faucets and pull up my dead tomato plants (did anyone get many tomatoes this year??) I plan to make my first batch of chili of the season.

 Like everything else in our family the different tastes and food choices have begun to make food like chili more complicated.  Sometimes we end up with "add your own ingredients" and "make it as spicy as you want." I leave out the meat for my vegan kids and don't put to much spice into it for my wife.  Those get added by other members of the family after they put their portions in their bowls.

Ingredients including the secret ingredient that makes it great:
For the meat I like the pulled pork from Kolby's Smokehouse in the shopping strip off Johns Hopkins Road
Tomato base of San Marzano tomatoes found in cans in most grocery stores.  I buy the big can at Costco.
Sauted sliced portobello mushrooms
Finely chopped red peppers
Finely chopped large sweet onion
One can of beef broth
One cup of Don Pepino ground tomatoes or pizza sauce
Chili beans
Half cup of green salsa
1/2 cup red wine (more if you like a stronger wine taste) or grape juice for non drinkers
Secret ingredient----Sazon Goya Coriander and Annatto.  This is found in the Mexican aisle at Shoppers or Weis.  Without this it isn't the same chili.  Found about this seasoning from a student intern that stayed with us from Puerto Rico.

You can see I didn't give many quantities with the ingredients. Chili is one of those dishes that you make by taste.  Chop the onion, red peppers and portobello mushrooms and saute them in a pan with some butter. Then add the pulled pork and add the Sazon seasoning to taste. The box I buy comes with packets of seasoning.  I usually use 2 packets but again this is to your taste.  You can add more if you like later.

In a blender or food processor blend tomatoes till it is liquid.  Add the cup Don Pepino ground tomato sauce (found at Sam's Club) or pizza sauce to thicken the liquid.   Pour into a large pot with the wine, beef broth, sauteed vegetables, chili beans, green salsa and pulled pork.  Cook on a medium setting until it comes to a slow boil then reduce heat to a low setting and cook until the liquid is less watery and thicker.  Depending on the amount of liquid you used it can be from 45 minutes to 75 minutes.  Taste again and add a little more Sazon seasoning if the seasoning taste is not distinct enough. I know this recipe takes quite a bit of shopping (and cooking) to get all the ingredients that I mentioned and but you can substitute some similar ingredients to the ones I mentioned.
I like some good crusty bread with the chili.  Is that snow I see?

Friday, October 28, 2011

You want to see an example of how "Choose Civility" fits Howard County

I saw a picture that Dennis Lane posted this week on his blog "Tale of Two Cities" and I couldn't help to laugh at the photo and one of the comments posted on the blog post.  It got me thinking in these terms.
New York-- Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Oakland
Occupy Columbia....Median Strip??
I guess it is our version of suburban radicalism where the danger is not from the police but from traffic!
This week we saw two Republican candidates try to cover up saying something that wasn't well thought out as just being their attempt to joke.  First Rick Perry tried to play up to the "birthers" with his comment about not being certain of the President's birth certificate and then Herman Cain made a comment about electrifying the border fence.  When the media played these comments and the reaction to each turned negative both candidates tried to play off their foolish comments as an attempt to be humorous.  Sorry guys it only works when you say that right after the initial comment and not two days later.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Marriage Equality--Is this the year?

Last year's disappointment over the failure of the marriage equality bill to permit gay marriage was tempered by Gov. O'Malley indicating that he will advocate for the bill this session as one of his priority pieces of legislation.  Maryland has a progressive population and has always seemed to be fertile ground for this type of legislation.  The Governor seems to have been encouraged by the positive reaction that New York Gov. Cuomo received after pushing for this legislation in that state.

We seem to have moved past the debate as to why civil unions are not sufficient to grant equal status to gay unions.  Most laws and regulations stipulate marriage and not civil unions.  Even with last year's ruling by the Maryland Attorney General that gay marriages performed in other states would be recognized in Maryland there are many situations where gay marriages are not on an equal footing in Maryland.  Areas outside the jurisdiction of the Attorney General and state government are in a gray area. One example is that private employers may not offer health insurance coverage to same sex partners.

If the legislation is passed this year it will certainly be challenged by opponents through the referendum process.  So most likely the referendum would go to a vote in November of next year in the Presidential election voting.  This would be one of the most hard fought political battles we have seen in Maryland in a long time.  You can be sure that a great deal of outside money would be coming into the State on both sides and Maryland may gain some national attention that we don't usually receive as a dependable blue state.

Like many issues that have different rulings in different states the issue of gay marriage will ultimately be a decision before the United States Supreme Court.  The California referendum that overturned that state's gay marriage ruling is now before a federal court and will be a major test for gay marriage when it ultimately ends up before the US Supreme Court. Given the political nature of the present Court's rulings, seen in the Court's ruling in Bush v. Gore in 2000, the possibility is very real that the Court's conservative majority would not look favorably on gay marriage.  This is true even though Justice Thomas' wife Ginny is a vocal activist against gay marriage and the ethical position he should take is to recluse himself in this case.

The issue of gay marriage is getting most of the attention today with gay organizations but the biggest hurdle that works against gay rights today is the federal Defense of Marriage Act or more commonly known at DOMA.  This regressive legislation was signed into law back in the 1990's by Bill Clinton when he thought that he could gain conservative votes for his other legislative priorities.  He sacrificed the rights of gays to gain political support.  I am sure it is not something he is proud of today.  Because of this legislation federal benefits can only be received by heterosexual couples.  Just as Don't Ask/ Don't Tell was ended, the DOMA legislation will be overturned at some point in the future---it just may not be quick.  The acceptance of gay marriage by persons under 35 will make it just a matter of time.  As has been quoted by many people "The arc of the moral universe is long but bends in the direction of justice."

I attended the Columbia Foundation Dinner last night and wanted to give a "shout out" to Tom Coale who was recognized at the dinner for the work that he does in Howard County. In addition to being a blogger with HoCo Rising and a co-host of the podcast "I Can Fix That" Tom serves on the boards of the Columbia Association and VOICES for Children.  And I know he has a day job too!  Tom, the son of Skip Coale, is one of those second generation community activists that make this community such a wonderful place to live and raise a family.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is Gender always fixed at birth?

Transgender rights are a component of the advocacy efforts for groups supporting gay rights.  Discrimination against transgender people can be more blatant and aggressive. The recent incident here in Maryland where a trans woman was attacked at a McDonald's shows that violence against this population is happening right in our back yard.

It is important to realize that gender identity and sexual identity are not the same thing.  Gender identity is an internal sense of who we are. Sexual identity is about who we are attracted to. Interestingly a person’s gender identity is often understood by that person at a very early age, even if that identity conflicts with the child’s assigned sex at birth.  It is not uncommon to have a 3- or 4-year old try to tell a parent that they feel they were born with the wrong body. As one parent told me her, 4-year old child (who was assigned male at birth) said that there was mix-up in the mommy’s tummy and that he was supposed to be a girl.  Whereas sexual identity is something that develops at a later age, much closer to puberty.

When it comes to being transgender or gender variant, we give girls a lot more room than we do boys. Girls in our society are permitted to be “tomboys” and athletic, whereas boys are labeled “sissies” if they show signs of not being masculine enough. Women can show affection to each other in ways that men are not allowed.  Men are more likely to be homophobic than women.

The concept of transgender first came to widespread public attention with Christine Jorgensen back in the 1950’s, when she was the first publicly known American recipient of a “sex change.”  In the late 1970’s Rene Richards, a transgender woman, caused controversy in the tennis circuit when she was interested in playing in women’s tennis tournaments. Today a great deal of attention has been given to Chaz Bono, the transgender son of Sonny and Cher, and a recent participant on Dancing with the Stars.

Coming to terms with your true gender identity, when it differs from your birth gender, comes in stages.  The first stage is a social transition. They will begin to dress differently and change appearance to fit their internal  image of their correct gender. Second stage is to use hormone therapy to change their physical appearance. First, they block the hormones of their birth gender; then take the hormones (either estrogen or testosterone) that align with their identified gender. The third stage and is to have surgery to change their body. This is the most dramatic change and one that not all transgender individuals can access.  Insurance coverage for this expensive surgery can be problematic. And some trans people chose not to have surgery.

Sadly and tragically, transgender people suffer from a very high rate of suicide. Some studies indicate that up to 50% of transgender teens have attempted suicide. The rejection of family and society is a major psychological hurdle for many transgender individuals. As happened in the past with homosexuality, the mental health community is slowly coming to the realization that gender identity is not a mental disorder.  As usual the professionals coming to this realization are the social workers and pediatricians.  The psychiatrists and psychologists are slower to make this adjustment.

In Howard County, the school system has been very open and supportive of transgender children and has partnered with PFLAG to train school psychologists.  The Howard County Council is aiming to make gender identity a protected class from discrimination. PFLAG sponsors a support group for parents of trans and gender variant children. For more information, go to

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

For Many Older Children in Foster Care Adoption by a Gay Parent is their only Adoption Option

The pool of adoptive parents has always been thin for older youth in foster care.  One group that has been more open to adoption of older foster youth has been gay couples.  Their options to raise a family has been  limited in the past because of the bias of adoption agencies to place young children with gay individuals.  Many agencies have given priority to legally married couples which prevents gay couples in most states from  adopting younger children.

 A recent report in the LA Times highlighted the increased  gay adoption:

The number of gays and lesbians adopting children has nearly tripled in the last decade despite discriminatory rules in many states, according to an analysis of recent population trends.

"It's a stratospheric increase. It's like going from zero to 60," said Miami attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who has coordinated more than 100 adoptions for gay and lesbian families in the last year. "I think many really dreamed of doing this but it wasn't something they ever thought would become a reality."

About 21,740 same-sex couples had adopted children in 2009, up from 6,477 in 2000, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. About 32,571 adopted children were living with same-sex couples in 2009, up from 8,310 in 2000. The figures are an analysis of newly released Census Bureau estimates.

Several states specifically prohibit same-sex couples from adopting jointly, while others have a patchwork of discriminatory policies that make it difficult for gays and lesbians to adopt either as individuals or as couples. But some states have eased restrictions on gay families.

Florida stopped enforcing its ban on gay adoptions last year after a decision by a state appeals court that the 3-decade-old law is unconstitutional. The
American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law, among the strictest in the country, on behalf of Martin Gill and his male partner, who adopted two young brothers from foster care.

In the past, adoption was often an option only for wealthy gay families who could afford to adopt internationally or to pay a surrogate. Allowing gay couples to adopt from foster care, where healthcare and college is paid for, opens it up to more people, experts said. The study estimates about 50% of adoptive gay families adopt children from foster care.

Earlier this year, the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected a voter-approved initiative that barred gay couples and other unmarried people living together from serving as adoptive or foster parents

Virginia allows married couples and single people to adopt or become foster parents, regardless of sexual orientation, but bars unmarried couples — gay or straight — from doing so. Earlier this month, hundreds of residents weighed in on proposed regulations that would allow state-licensed groups to turn down prospective adoptive and foster parents because of their sexual orientation.

According to the Adoption Institute, at least 60% of U.S. adoption agencies surveyed accept applications from non-heterosexual parents. Nearly 40% of agencies have knowingly placed children with gay families. About half the agencies surveyed reported a desire for staff training to work with such clients.

But some adoption agencies have bucked the rules, saying it's unfair to force them to go against their religious beliefs by coordinating adoptions for gay families.

Catholic Charities refused to recognize Illinois' new civil unions law and allow gay couples and others living together outside marriage to be foster or adoptive parents. The state tried to end its multimillion-dollar contracts, but a judge temporarily allowed Catholic Charities to work with the state.

"If one agency doesn't serve you and you're gay, then another agency will," said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Adoption Institute. "You don't need 100% agency participation. The bottom line is, if you're gay or lesbian in America and you want to adopt, you can."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Howard County PFLAG---Advocating for the Civil Rights Issue of our Time

The issue that seems to unite social conservatives the most these days is their opposition to gay marriage and equality. Listening to the Republican debates seems like listening to social agendas that fit more into early 20th century than early 21st century. It is amazing that the arguments against gay marriage have been used to oppose other civil rights issues. Believe it or not back in the early 20th century one argument against giving women the right to vote was that it would cause marital discourse between husbands and wives and lead to divorce. Of course in the mid 20th century the opposition to interracial marriage sounds so familiar with the arguments being made today based mostly on religious belief.  Take a quiz just to see how similar the arguments are.

In Howard County PLAG is the voice for equal rights from heterosexual allies. As information from Collette Roberts the founder of Howard County's PFLAG states:

Our PFLAG Columbia/Howard County chapter began in January 1995. In response to interest expressed by the Unitarian Congregation to form a welcoming committee, a few of us decided it would be appropriate to form a separate organization which would encompass the greater community. We  placed a small advertisement in a local newspaper announcing the formation of a support group for parents of gay and lesbian children, along with an open invitation to the gay and lesbian community. Over 30 people attended that first meeting, and we then invited the PFLAG regional director to help us organize into a formal chapter. Attendance at our meetings now averages 50 people or more, including parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and a large contingent from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community in Howard County and well beyond. We stress safety and confidentiality at each meeting. We are a volunteer chapter, and rely totally on membership dues and donations from monthly meeting attendees. Our meetings cover a wide range of events- from panel discussions, films, guest speakers, all and any issues that are important and relevant to our members and guests. After the main topic, the Rainbow Youth Alliance meets in a separate room, new parents are given the option of meeting with other new parents, and the rest of the group engages in a time of support in which we either share our personal stories of our journey towards understanding GLBT issues or continue a discussion of the meeting topic.

When large numbers of GLBT teens and young people began attending the meetings, and we decided to form a separate group for them:  the Rainbow Youth Alliance.  Our chapter was the first in the county to sponsor a “gay prom”. It was hugely successful and included press coverage statewide. We often advertise our chapter in the High School newspapers in Howard County. With our support, there are currently six gay-straight alliances in our high schools, and our goal is to have one in every school. The group discusses coming out issues, school situations and general teen concerns. They occasionally have guest speakers, ranging from Health Department personnel to authors. Field trips are taken to both Baltimore and Washington DC to visit places of interest. The RYA group meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month with well-screened talented and dedicated adult facilitators. For the first time our chapter will be awarding a scholarship to a deserving RYA student, and hope to continue this as a yearly event.

In addition to our general monthly meetings, new parents with a child or family member recently out are invited to meet separately with a parent facilitator every third Monday of the month to help them feel comfortable discussing their concerns. Our hotline receives many requests for information from parents, students, and spouses. We send out many brochures and pamphlets, and direct callers to the right resource/support group as needed. When a few people expressed interest in being more politically active, we formed an Advocacy committee which now has ten members representing various political districts.  We join with Equality Maryland and our larger membership each year to lobby our delegates. The advocacy committee meets every fourth Monday of the month.

To encourage camaraderie, we hold an annual family picnic. It is often the highlight at the end of the summer, with our families, gay and straight and transgender, enjoying a relaxing and fun filled afternoon. Many local politicians and school board members attend and get to know us personally in this relaxed atmosphere.

Our mission includes outreach for education and advocacy, and this aspect of our
organization is continually growing.  We staff tables at numerous community events from the Arts Festival to the local Government Diversity day. We continue to work closely with local and state politicians to achieve equal civil rights for our GLBT family members and friends.

We worked with the County Executive to obtain domestic partner benefits (dpb) for county employees, and also achieved our goal of dpb for the county school employees, and the community college employees. We have given the principals and guidance counselors in all high schools in Howard County packets of information on how to work with GLBT students and faculty, as well as with students who have GLBT parents.  We have spoken to pupil personnel workers and led workshops for the school system on how to have safe schools. Our steering committee members attend student services meetings sanctioned by the Board of Education  and are participants on the Equity Council (advisors to the school superintendent). PFLAG Columbia/Howard County also has a representative on the county Hate-Bias Impact panel.

We as a chapter work hard at dispelling negative myths and communicating the truth about our friends and loved ones, and will continue to serve until the GLBT community is totally equal and accepted in this society. Please see our website and learn what educational, advocacy, support and fun events we are engaged in!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

International Market to Replace Safeway in Long Reach

The Sun yesterday had a story about the replacement of the Safeway in the Long Reach Village Center with an International Market.  This is something that has been discussed in the blogosphere as a model that should be tried.  Some village centers have been struggling with the traditional model.   American Realty should be commended for this effort.  I know I will make the store a regular stop and the Caribbean restaurant is one that I look forward to trying.  I hope other ethnic restaurants follow.

I enjoyed the Capitol Steps at this past week's 50+ Expo. If you ever get a chance to see them they are great.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Best Thing about having a foreign born population----Ethnic Eateries

 Today is I want to identify some ethnic eateries highlighted in HowChow, Howard County's food blog and someplace you should always read if you want to know about food in Howard County.  I am going to recommend some ethnic places to try that have been reviewed and that I have tried.

Bon Appetit Bakery.  Don't let the name fool you.  Try the bean filled donuts.
Shin Chon in Ellicott City

House of India  Always go for the lunch buffet
Mango Grove and Mirchi Wok.  Old location torn down but will open in the shopping center with Riverside Cafe soon.  My favorite place for their lunch buffet.   I never leave hungry

Sorettis in Burtonsville.  This is really different food.  Most is on the spicy side.

Cuba de Ayer.   Good Cuban Sandwich and fun place.  A little hard to find in Burtonsville near Sorettis.

El Azteca in Clarksville
El Hidalgo in Elkridge
R&R in Shell gas station on Route 1.  You know this is REAL Mexican food at this take out place when you are the only non-Mexican there.

Red Pearl for the weekend dim sum

Pho Dat Trahn  I like the Vietnamese cuisine better than Chinese.  Much lighter food.

Bangkok Delight  Any curry dish

Sushi Sono.  Anything!!!

Ethnic Markets
Lily's Market  Mexican
Blog with many markets listed

Finally if all this has made you hungry you can check out the blog I did on the Korean merchants along Route 40.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How Does a County Service like the Library Address our Multilingual Population?

Like most community organizations today our County library is attempting to have available materials to distribute that foreign born residents request.  The challenge today is with the new medias developing all the time how do you use your limited and sometimes diminishing revenue to have materials in each media form.  Remember when libraries were just printed books, magazines and newspapers? Now we have CD's, DVD's, audio books and digital books.  Add on the need for materials for special populations such as the blind, deaf and foreign born populations and you begin to see the fuller extent of the challenge in providing the needs of a diverse community. We all know that the Howard County Library has one of the highest book borrowing rates per capita in the Country.

With the foreign born population that may not walk into the Library and be able communicate their needs or find materials in the language they can read the Library has to rely on other sources to identify the materials and methods to provide these materials.  Like many other organizations the Library partners with the Howard County School System's International Student and Family Services Office, Howard Community College's English Learning Center and organizations like FIRN (Foreign Information and Referral Network) to identify the different foreign born residents in the County and what their interests might be.  Some of these resources are online like the online resource at the University of Maryland that identifies childrens books in many languages that can be read online.
 One way the Library has attempted to serve the foreign born population is their Project Literacy program.  According to their website,

"Howard County Library System's Project Literacy, a highly successful adult education initiative, is made possible by grant funding from the Maryland State Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Library instructors and volunteer tutors have taught 6,500 adults since 1987. Representing 33 countries, the students learn basic math, reading and writing skills through free, one-on-one tutoring and class sessions. One hundred forty-eight students have received their high school diplomas, and 122 have become U.S. citizens."

"Last year, volunteers and teachers provided 11,000 hours of tutoring to 405 students -- 109 students in the tutorial component and 296 students in the ESL track."

Finally I want to  mention a program that the Library started in 2005 with a grant called Cultural Connections.  This program is described on their website as,

"Begun with grant money from the Maryland State Department of Education, Cultural Connections was initiated in 2005 by Howard County Library System to address and enhance the educational needs of Howard County’s diverse multicultural population. Library staff and ethnic liaisons work with the community by distributing a survey and running a series of discussions focusing on the following five components:
  • Classes and events for all ages
  • Library building/signage
  • Library catalog
  • Materials including books, music, movies, magazines, newspapers, and electronic databases
  • Cultural awareness training for staff
The collected information is then analyzed and a service plan for each ethnic group is written and implemented.

Library Staff Working with Cultural Connections

Each Howard County Library System branch has a designated Cultural Connections representative. In addition InterpreTALK , a telephonic interpreting service linking non-English speakers with skilled interpreters, is available at all branches. 


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Read what Albert Einstein, Sergey Brin and Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa have in Common

 The following is from the Thomas Friedman’s new book “They Used To Be Us”

“If you were told that the following were attending a dinner honoring an organization what organization would it be?

Linda Zhou, Alice Wei Zhao, Lori Ying, Angela Yu-Yun Yeung, Lynnelle Lin Ye, Kevin Young Xu, Benjamen Chang Sun, Jane Yoon-hae Suh, Katheryn Cheng Shi, Sunanda Sharma, Sarine Gayaneh Shahmirian, Arjun Ranganath Puranik, Raman Venkat Nelakanti, Akhil Mathew, Paul Masih Das, David Chienyun Liu, Elisa Bisi Lin, Yifan Li, Lanair Amaad Lett, Ruoyi Jiang, Otana Agape Jakpor, Peter Danming Hu, Yale Wang Fan, Yuval Yaacov Calev, Leverit Alpoge, John Vincenzo Capodilupo, and Namrata Anand.”

“Sorry, wrong, it was not a dinner of the China-India Friendship Association. Give up? All these honorees were American high school stu­dents. They were the vast majority of the forty finalists in the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search, which, through a national contest, identifies and honors the top math and science high school students in America, based on their solutions to scientific problems.”

"…… immigrants are critical to our long-term economic health. Although they represent just 12% of the U.S. population, they have started 52% of Silicon Valley's tech compa­nies and contributed to more than 25% of U.S. global patents. They make up 24% of science and engineering workers with bachelor's de­grees and 47% of those with Ph.D.s."

The vitality of the United States is shown by the fact that almost 40% of the Nobel Prize winners (270) have come from the United States.  Many winners were recent immigrants to our country.  This country has always been a haven for intellectuals and scientist who have face persecution in their native country.  Albert Einstein and Werner Von Braun are only the most famous of these famous scientists.

Sergey Brin one of the founders of  Google (and a University of Maryland Alum) is a more recent example of a foreign born immigrant that has made his mark in this country.

Finally the story of Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa who was once a young man who entered the United States as an illegal immigrant from Mexico and today is a world famous surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore shows that those motivated to better themselves in this country bring this country a drive that has brought us our richness.  From a story that was shown on WBAL TV:
Quinones-Hinojosa, known as Dr. Q at work, now uses his hands on patients where the slightest movement can separate life from death -- the same hands that separating weeds from dirt not long ago.
I do look at them sometimes, and I realize these are the same hands who now touch people's lives and brains. Nothing has really changed," he said.
“Dr. Q's story bends the definition of possible. It's one that took him from the fence to the fields, from community college to the University of California at Berkeley and from Harvard medical school to Johns Hopkins Hospital.”

"I had hopes. I had dreams," he said.

As a child in Mexico, cruel poverty was his family's reward for hard work. As a teenager, he said he found his father in tears.

"I found him crying because he just couldn't provide. And I promised myself that I would do everything within my power to make sure that I provided for not just my parents and my siblings, but for my future family," he said.

That commitment led Dr. Q to the fields of California's San Joachin Valley.
"I just knew that if you keep working hard, things are going to turn around. I just had no doubt in myself," he said.

Dr. Q said he slept in a trailer at night, but by day he kept pushing at every opportunity.
"Someone gave me an opportunity to drive a tractor. It just took me minutes to pick it up. Then (there was) an opportunity to drive the cotton picker and it took me minutes to pick it up," he said.

Now, Dr. Q splits his time between surgery and his research lab. He said he believes he can find the cure for brain cancer -- a challenge the medical establishment has all but given up on.”

Those who would take the risk to leave their country and endure the challenges in a new country for new opportunities are the kind of people who have built this country in the past and will continue to build this country in the future. Immigrants renew the vitality of this country (and Howard County) with each new immigrant migration no matter from which region of the world they come.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So where is Myanmar and how is it relevant to Howard County??

In 1989, the military government in Burma officially changed the English translations of many colonial-era names, including the name of the country to "Myanmar".  This is a country of 50 million people, over 90% Buddhist, 8 ethnic groups,135 tribes and 163rd out of 193 in per capita income in the world according to the International Monetary Fund (Haiti is 167 for comparison purposes). The military government has an agenda to have Burmese the only language spoken, Burman the only recognized race and Buddhism the only recognized religion.  The persecution of all other groups has created a significant refugee population that has fled the country to Malaysia.  The Christian part of this refugee population, from the section of the country called Chin, has been granted asylum in the United States and that leads us to Howard County.  

Refugee resettlement organizations in Baltimore look at where in the Baltimore region these refugees can be resettled. Once a resettled refugee group identifies housing and employment in a community later arriving refugees have a support system in place to make the transition to a community.  In Howard County the support system has been created by churches established by resettled Chin pastors.  There are now 3 churches with over 400 members serving the Chin population in Howard County. There are now 137 refugees from Myanmar in the Howard Community College English Language Center.

As we today see the political unrest in Africa and the Middle East and the potential for refugees from that region in the future we might see an increasing internationalization of Howard County in ways that Jim Rouse would have never envisioned when he created a community that embraced diversity.  Globalization is connecting us in ways never thought of 50 years ago.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Howard County Educational System’s Response to Large Number of Foreign Born Students

Howard County is fortunate that many of the foreign born residents of the County come from a good educational background in their native countries. The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) and the Howard Community College (HCC) have had to develop resources to address the needs of a growing foreign-born population.  For HCPSS this has meant to establish an Office of International Student and Family Services.  This Office has translation services, family support, liaisons, a leadership program and an outreach office.  Not surprisingly the Asian and Hispanic populations have been the source of much of this growth.  While the Hispanic population speaks a common language the Asian population speaks a very wide range of languages and dialects.

For HCC the services provided are through their English as a Second Language (ESL) program and their English Language Center. The Center has worked with students speaking 54 different languages. Half of the students coming into the Center have a college degree from their native country. The Center has two levels of instruction.  The first is the Community Education program with 725 students and is the level for students with poorer English language skills.  The instruction in these classes is free. The next level is the Intensive classes and has 650 students.  This level is for students with greater language skills and is an intermediate to advanced level of instruction. The last level is the program provided by the English Department as the Academic ESL instruction, which has 340 students and is designed to prepare students to take the regular classes at HCC.  The countries with the highest percentage of students are Korea and El Salvador.  Closely following El Salvador is Myanmar.  If you don’t recognize the name it is the country more commonly known as Burma.  The harsh dictatorship in that country has created a refugee population that has been migrating through Thailand to Malaysia to the United States.  I will write more on this population’s presence in Howard County tomorrow.

While the educational system has developed the resources to address the needs of this population the question is how have the other institutions in the County been able to respond?  That is a question I will also be addressing in a future blog.

Even if you don't agree with Herman Cain's politics you can't help but enjoy his rendition of John Lennon's Imagine.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Is Howard County a magnet for the foreign born population?

I have written before about how the population of Howard County is rapidly changing with a growing population of foreign-born residents.  The Korean stores along Route 40 and the ethnic food markets becoming common sights everywhere in the County.  The diversity of ethnic restaurants gives most of us little reason to go to Washington or Baltimore to taste ethnic foods.

The 2010 Census bares this reality out in the percentages of racial and ethnic categories.
The white/non Hispanic population declined from 2000-2010 from 53.4% to 42.9%.  The African American percentage dropped from 37.1% to 35.8%.  The Asian population increased from 4.4% to 5.7% and the Hispanic population increased from 4.8% to 11.5%.  Added to this reality is that the Asian and Hispanic populations tend to be younger with school age children. Tomorrow I will highlight what this means for the Howard County School System and the Howard Community College.

So why are newly arrived immigrants attracted to Howard County?  First and foremost is the County’s educational system.  Many of the immigrants arriving in Howard County have professional backgrounds and a good educational system for their children is paramount.  Secondly, Howard County is perceived as a “welcoming” community that embraces diversity.  This unfortunately is not the norm as we see with a number of states now enacting laws to discourage an immigrant population settling in their state.  Arizona and Mississippi being only the latest examples of this.  The values that Jim Rouse instilled in the development of Columbia still resonate in our community.  A walk though the Columbia Mall or any shopping area in our community and you will clearly see the diversity of our population.

I wanted to take the new few days to explore this change in the face of our County and give everyone a better picture of how this change will impact our community.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

LBJ was right

          Watching the Republican debates and listening to the candidates it made me think about something that Lyndon Johnson supposedly said after he signed the Civil Rights Bill in 1964.  He said that he had just given the South to the Republican Party.  The joining of the former Democrats from the South with the already existing Goldwater conservative Republicans has given us the Republican Party of today. The Republican Party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt no longer exists.  The use of fear and intolerance seems to define the Party today. In 1968 when Mitt Romney’s father ran for the Republican nomination for President  his religion was not an issue.  We thought that JFK had put the candidate's religion away as an issue.  So have we progressed over the past five decades when a significant number of voters indicate they could never vote for a Mormon?

      It is hard to remember that the Republican Party was a fairly diverse party in the 60’s and early 70’s.  It had elected officials that ranged from conservative to liberal.  Remember liberal Republicans?  They really did exist at one time.  Here in Maryland we had a liberal Republican senator for almost 20 years, Charles Mathias.  He was joined in the Senate by fellow liberal senators like Jacob Javits from New York, Charles Percy from Illinois, Mark Hatfield from Oregon, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts and Lowell Weicker from Connecticut. It is sad to see what today has replaced these statesmen in the Republican Party. The Republican Party once had elected officials interested in governing.

Ipad baby is a sign of our times and the future of media

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Some Like it Hot!

There are many ways to divide the world.  One of my favorites it to divide the world into those that like hot and spicy food and those that think it is stupid to ruin good food with hot sauce.  I happen to be someone that loves hot and spicy food and my wife thinks that pepper makes food too spicy.  I have always assumed this was because she grew up in the Midwest which has to have the blandest food anywhere in the country.  Must be because that region of the country was settled by the Germans, Swiss and other Scandinavian countries.  The colder the climate of a country the blander the food.  You always have to go to a country with warm weather to get spicy food.

This past week on our beach trip to Rehoboth I was able to visit my favorite hot sauce store called Peppers.  This place is a "candy store" for someone like me. You can order anything they have through the mail.  The most interesting thing about hot sauces is the names.  Most are a variation of something like "Burn your A** Sauce" or "Alien Anal - Probe Xtra-Terestial Hot Sauce" or something else mildly obscene. I even found one that was an "Elvis Hot Sauce."  Is there anything that you can't put Elvis' name on? My recommendations are:
1) Hot Raspberry Thunder Sauce
2) Melinda's Mango Coconut Sauce
3) Baron's Banana Ketchup 

 I was disappointed that they didn't have the banana hot sauce that I love with scrambled eggs.  Sounds weird but it gives eggs the best taste you can imagine.  I will leave you with a great hot sauce dip recipe that you just don't think of the calories. Buffalo chicken dip
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (10 ounce) can chicken, drained (or equivalent rotisserie or freshly-cooked, chopped chicken)
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 3/4 cup red hot sauce
  • shredded cheddar cheese, you decide how much
  • crackers or good bread to dip


  1. Beat cream cheese, ranch dressing, and red hot sauce.
  2. Fold in shredded chicken.
  3. Spread mixture into pie plate sprayed with Pam.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  5. Add cheddar to top and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Frank Kameny: The Martin Luther King of the Gay Rights Movement Dies

As I have blogged before I feel that the gay rights movement is the civil rights movement of our time.  We unfortunately see that the acceptance of gay marriage and service in the military having to follow the same difficult path that interracial marriage and military service followed 50 and 60 years ago with African Americans.  I know that some people might be offended at linking Martin Luther King and Frank Kameny but they each represented a person who stood up to injustice at a time before there was an organized movement that brought attention to a cause that lead to breaking down the walls of prejudice.  On Wednesday Frank Kameny died still unknown to most of the general public.
Wikipedia gives this description of his early activism,
“ Franklin Edward "Frank" Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) was "one of the most significant figures" in the American gay rights movement. In 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his homosexuality, leading him to begin "a Herculean struggle with the American establishment" that would "spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s. Kameny protested his firing by the U.S. Civil Service Commission due to his homosexuality, and argued this case to the United States Supreme Court in 1961. Although the court denied his petition, it is notable as the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation.

In August 1961, Kameny and Jack Nichols co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, an organization that pressed aggressively for gay and lesbian civil rights. In 1963 the group was the subject of Congressional hearings initiated by Congressman John Dowdy over its right to solicit funds.
Kameny is credited with bringing an aggressive new tone to the gay civil rights struggle. Kameny and the Mattachine Society of Washington pressed for fair and equal treatment of gay employees in the federal government by fighting security clearance denials, employment restrictions and dismissals, and working with other groups to press for equality for gay citizens. In 1968, Kameny, inspired by Stokely Carmichael's creation of the phrase "Black is Beautiful", created the slogan "Gay is Good" for the gay civil rights movement.

Kameny and Nichols launched some of the earliest public protests by gays and lesbians with a picket line at the White House on April 17, 1965.  In coalition with New York's Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, the picketing expanded to target the United Nations, the Pentagon, the United States Civil Service Commission, and to Philadelphia's Independence Hall for what became known as the Annual Reminder for gay rights.”

Fortunately Frank lived to attend the ceremony this year when the President signed the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Importance of Branding

I have blogged on the Choose Civility campaign that the Howard County Library has promoted for the past couple of years but today I want to use it as an example of how to brand an organization.  The Library has successfully promote themselves as the "go to" source for any discussion or activity that involves civility through the use of bumper stickers.  Can you imagine a group doing anything on civility and not engaging the Library?  Of course the Library has the advantage of having many residents visiting the libraries to be a source of distribution of the bumper magnets.  For the Library bumper magnets being given away works for them in this branding effort.  So how would you brand an organization that doesn't have the "foot traffic" of the Library?  First just as some background to the concept of branding I want to quote Laura Lake on the topic, 

"The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:
  • Delivers the message clearly
  • Confirms your credibility
  • Connects your target prospects emotionally
  • Motivates the buyer
  • Concretes User Loyalty
To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot."
 You want your  organization to be seen as the "go to" source for a service or product.

Branding begins with the name of your organization.  Does it still "fit" what your organization is today or what it wants to be in the future?  This was the case with one Howard County organization years ago when the Developmental Services Group (DSG) recognized that they had outgrown the name and spent a great deal of time and effort in their re-branding to Humanim. Some information from the Blake Project described the name branding this way:
"Brand naming, whether it be corporate, organizational or product names may seem simple, however it is anything but. Generally, for a final brand name that makes it through all of the evaluation hurdles and is accepted by the client, hundreds, if not thousands of names were explored. So, what makes naming so difficult? First, the proliferation of brands in the market. Second, with the advent of the Internet, a brand must compete not just within a small geography, but throughout the global market. Which leads to the next point, the URL needs to be available. And one wants to own “.com,” not “.net,” “.info,” or some other equally obscure URL suffix. And one should not add “company,” “llc,” or other unexpected modifiers to the end of the name. The name should be:
  • Easy to pronounce
  • Easy to spell
  • Not used by any other brand, but especially competitors in the same categories and markets
  • Short
  • Easy to recall
  • Not have unintended or negative meanings, including in other languages/cultures
  • Broad enough to outlive a product category or a business owner
  • Easy to trademark (and still available to trademark)
  • Available as a “.com” or “.org” or .edu” URL, depending on the type of brand
It is also desirable for the brand name to communicate the brand’s unique value proposition if possible. (This is a tall order, so many brands should be happy to rely on the tagline to do that.)"

Finally you want to brand the one aspect of your organization that you want everyone to think of when they think of your organization.  It is a quality of your organization as much as tied directly to the services that you provide.  An example of this is Apple corporation.  Apple chose to brand themselves as "the cool company" or "the cutting edge company."  That brand image stayed relevant as they move from just being a computer company (IMac) to a musical device company (IPod) to a music store (ITunes) to a phone company (IPhone) to a totally new product like the Ipad to a offline software and data storage company (ICloud). Notice the branding use of the "I" in all the new company products? It may have started out to mean internet but with the new products it came to stand for "I" as in personal products.

Any suggestions for re-branding HoCo Connect?

There was another example of re-branding in this recent article in Explore Howard County that was also mentioned in HowChow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Help make Columbia the next town profiled by Maryland Public Television

 I have never asked readers of this blog to take action on something until today.  Yesterday I attended a Listen Post hosted by Maryland Public Television in Ellicott City.  This is MPT effort to learn more about the issues that impact communities in Maryland.  During the discussions the program that MPT does called "Our Town" came up and they have done profiles of Hagerstown and Chestertown.  As they describe on their website,
"The 'Our Town' series is a collection of documentaries showcasing different towns across the great state of Maryland, from the Eastern shore to the Western mountains. But with a twist. Unlike a lot a historical documentaries seen on television, the "Our Town" series explores different Maryland communities through the eyes (and camera lenses) of the members of these communities. MPT has solicited the involvement of a wide variety of the community's populace, from the mayor to the bartender, from the high school student to the chief of police, new residents, old residents, any and all residents." When I asked how a town got selected the response was that we could comment to MPT asking that our community be profiled in "Our Town." The staff from MPT seemed interested in profiling Columbia. So I am asking all of you to comment to MPT asking that Columbia be profiled next.  Post this blog on you Facebook page and ask your friends to also comment to MPT.  This is something that all of our efforts can make happen. Email your request to

Final reminder
Join Columbia Archives for Communication: Then & Now on October 12
Event will feature local media voices in a discussion of communications in today’s world

Communication methods have changed dramatically in the last 50 years, but the need to communicate is basic and constant. As part of its celebration for American Archives Month, the Columbia Archives will host a discussion with local voices in print and online media on tonight Wednesday October 12 at 7 p.m. at CA Headquarters. David Greisman, Columbia Flier/Howard County Times; Lisa Kawata, freelance feature writer; Lisa Rossi, Columbia Patch; and Duane St. Clair, HoCo Connect; will discuss the challenges, opportunities and importance of context in getting out the news in today’s world of instant messaging and sound bites. Archives have traditionally been a source for journalists to give context and perspective to current events, for as George Santayana said, “the one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.”
When Jim Rouse posed the question in 1963 about how to communicate to the community, The Rouse Company answered with a carefully constructed marketing plan and innovative ideas including cable connections to every home. An exhibit of marketing materials, national media coverage, correspondence and local newspapers will highlight the ways The Rouse Company communicated the idea and reality of Columbia initially and how the responsibility for communication shifted to the local press and others in the community. The exhibit at the Columbia Archives is open to the public and will be up October 10 through December 30.
Columbia Archives preserves the history of Columbia and the career of James Rouse. It is a public research facility and offers outreach programs to make the material accessible. It is open to visitors on a daily basis Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit, e-mail or call 410-715-3103.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Columbia Archives: Telling Columbia's Story

I have made references to my trips to the Columbia Archives to research information for a number of my blogs on Columbia.  Today I want to give a little more background to this amazing Columbia asset. According to it's website,

" In 1982, long-time Columbia resident Rebecca Orlinsky organized a display of clippings and other ephemera for the Columbia Forum Day of Work.  Enthusiasm for the exhibit led to a petition to form an archives to chronicle the history of the then 15-year-old community. A year later the Museum and Archives of the History of Columbia, MD, aka Columbia Archives, was incorporated and Orlinsky and Ruth McCullough began working as volunteers on a daily basis.    Donations of materials from those involved in the planning and development of Columbia, as well as residents and others who helped shape the city, began to pour in."

"In 1992 Columbia Archives became part of the Columbia Association, the property owner’s organization that serves as the unincorporated community’s quasi-government.  The collection and the activities grew considerably.  In 1996, Columbia Archives received the papers of James Rouse, doubling the size of our holdings and increasing the significance of the collection."

Ever wonder about the origins of all the street names in Columbia? The Archives has published a book called "Oh, you must live in Columbia: The origins of place names in Columbia, Maryland."

Now through the end of December the Achives is exhibiting materials that show how Jim Rouse proposed "to communicate to the community, The Rouse Company answered with a carefully constructed marketing plan and innovative ideas including cable connections to every home. The exhibit of marketing materials, national media coverage, correspondence and local newspapers will highlight the ways The Rouse Company communicated the idea and reality of Columbia initially and how the responsibility for communication shifted to the local press and others in the community." Communication methods have changed dramatically in the last 50 years, but the need to communicate is basic and constant. As part of its celebration for American Archives Month, the Columbia Archives will host a discussion with local voices in print and online media on Wednesday, October 12 at 7 p.m. at CA Headquarters. David Greisman, Columbia Flier/Howard County Times; Lisa Kawata, freelance feature writer; Lisa Rossi, Columbia Patch; and Duane St. Clair, HoCo Connect; will discuss the challenges, opportunities and importance of context in getting out the news in today’s world of instant messaging and sound bites.

Ever what to do on a rainy Autumn day?  How about going to the Columbia Archives and browsing through some of the history of our town?  

Columbia Archives is located on the ground floor of the American City Building, 10227 Wincopin Circle, Columbia 21044. We are in Columbia Town Center, off Little Patuxent Parkway, across from the Columbia Mall and is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


When I moved to Columbia in the 1970's I started noticing prints around the town by Wes Yamaka.  Hear him tell his story about how Columbia impacted him.