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Kitties in the Christmas Stocking: Local Author Connie Corcoran Wilson Releases a New Children's Book for the Holidays PDF Print E-mail
Literature
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 21 November 2011 06:00

Connie Corcoran Wilson with granddaughters Ava and Elise WilsonSome grandmas, during the holiday season, will give toys as presents. Others will give clothes.

Connie Corcoran Wilson, though, is giving her granddaughters a book ... that she wrote and published herself.

“It’s my Christmas gift to the girls,” says Wilson of her new children’s book Christmas Cats in Silly Hats, the second self-published work by the much-published local author. “I wrote it for them, and thought it would be a nice present.

“Of course,” she says with a laugh, “marketing-wise, I didn’t think it would be such a dumb thing, either. You might not rush out to buy it in July, but in December ... !”

 
“Go Back to China”: Bo Caldwell, November 30 at St. Ambrose University’s Rogalski Center PDF Print E-mail
Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 17 November 2011 14:34

Bo CaldwellGiven that her November 30 lecture at St. Ambrose University is titled “Finding Faith & Fiction in China,” it seems odd that author Bo Caldwell has never actually been to the country.

Once you know her story, though, the title of the lecture (being presented as part of the school’s academic-year-long China Project) makes more sense. Caldwell might not have found faith and fiction in the physical China, but she did in a China that has disappeared – the place where her grandparents and uncle lived and worked in the first half of the 20th Century.

“I was writing about a China that was long ago,” Caldwell explained in an interview last month. “And the country and the city of Shanghai have changed so dramatically. ... I didn’t feel like it would help me that much to go there.”

She added that “China has a connection in a home-like way. That’s where my grandparents spent much of their lives. It’s where my mom and her siblings grew up. Chinese things when I was a kid felt like home in a weird way.”

The Distant Land of My Father was published in 2001 and follows the outline of her uncle’s life in Shanghai – how he lost his wealth and almost his life during a tumultuous time. Last year’s City of Tranquil Light is based on the experiences of her missionary grandparents in China.

That makes clear how Caldwell found fiction in China. But faith was a function of breast cancer and its treatment, both of which changed the nature of the book that would become City of Tranquil Light.

 
911 Whitewash? Leaders Say the Transition to Consolidated Emergency Dispatch in Scott County Has Gone Well. It Should Have Gone Better. PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 10 November 2011 11:00

(This is the first of two articles on the Scott Emergency Communications Center. This piece focuses on implementation problems with emergency-response consolidation. The second part will deal with the price tag and to what extent taxpayers have gotten what they were promised.)

Let’s start with the metaphors.

We’re roughly six months into the transition to a consolidated Scott County emergency-dispatch and -records system, said Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin on October 6. “This is the part of the movie where ... the anxiety is. Then there’s the resolution at the end, and there’s a happy ending. We’re at that point where we’re going to be focusing on what the issues are.”

“In a crawl/walk/run category, we stood up and got wobbly,” said Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn, also on October 6. “But we’re still standing. But we’re not walking yet. But we’re pretty much not crawling, either. So we’re working our way forward, and we hope to get to running. And I think we’re going to get to running; we’re not there yet.”

The Scott Emergency Communications Center (SECC) brings under one roof – at 1100 East 46th Street in Davenport – what had been four dispatching centers, serving Scott County’s 12 municipal and county law-enforcement agencies, 16 fire departments, and five ambulance services.

All those agencies are now using the same radio system, and law-enforcement agencies are also using a single record-keeping system – both of which allow for improved interdepartmental communication. Agencies went live with the system from early April through early May.

Still to come – probably early next year – is the consolidation of each organization’s dispatchers into a single dispatching entity, and the separation of call-taking and dispatching functions. The latter of those is expected to shave 30 seconds off the time it takes to dispatch emergency responders.

And late next year, Medic EMS will decide whether to fold its dispatching operations into SECC or just continue to have its dispatchers working out of the SECC building.

By the standards of local government, the project is complicated. “It takes a good solid year to iron out” issues and difficulties, said SECC Director Brian Hitchcock, who previously oversaw consolidations in Ashland County, Wisconsin, and McHenry County, Illinois. “Every one of those has issues and bugs that have to be worked out. ... We all wish it could happen overnight.” He noted that every consolidation takes a different amount of time to work through, but that the one-year estimate runs through next April.

The consolidation – recommended by a 2006 study and put into motion by a December 2007 intergovernmental agreement – is also expensive, with capital costs of roughly $28 million. The building itself cost $7.31 million. New portable radios for all agencies cost almost $7 million, purchased without a formal bidding process. Installing a “central electronics bank and associated communications gear into and around the 911 center” cost more than $1.6 million, Hitchcock said. And the dispatching and record-keeping software that has been so problematic cost $2.7 million.

 
(Don't) Talk to the Animals: Comedian Tim Bedore, October 28 at the Establishment Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Comedy
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 07:58

Tim Bedore“A guy once sent me this story,” begins comedian Tim Bedore. “He had a great muscle car from the ’60s, and he had it all waxed and polished to this beautiful shine, and he had it parked under a tree. And this squirrel started dropping nuts onto his hood, over and over again.

“He finally moved the car underneath a different tree, because he wanted to keep the car in the shade and not ruin his perfect wax job. But after he did, the squirrel jumped over to the other tree, and started dropping nuts on the hood. It could’ve dropped them anywhere, but it had to drop them onto the hood of his car. It was a purposeful thing.

“Now, biologists could probably come up with some explanation for this. It liked the sound. Or it thought the car was an enemy. Or,” Bedore suggests, “it just wanted to piss off a human. I mean, why not just go to the simpler explanation?”

 
The Top Censored Stories of 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Media
Written by Project Censored   
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 05:40

Project Censored annually publishes its list of the year’s top “censored” stories. “We define modern censorship as the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in our mass-media outlets,” its Web site states. “On a daily basis, censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story – or piece of a news story – based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth. Such manipulation can take the form of political pressure (from government officials and powerful individuals), economic pressure (from advertisers and funders), and legal pressure (the threat of lawsuits from deep-pocket individuals, corporations, and institutions).”

Put differently, these 25 stories represent the most important news that Project Censored felt was under-reported over the past year.

Censored 2012: Sourcebook for the Media Revolution, by Mickey Huff and Project Censored with an introduction by Dr. Peter Phillips, is available (along with more detailed media analysis and sources for these summaries) at ProjectCensored.org. The book is published by Seven Stories Press.

(1) More U.S. Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat

In 2010, for the second year in a row, more U.S. soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). “If you ... know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know,” General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, “because we don’t know.” Suicide is a tragic but predictable human reaction to being asked to kill – and watch your friends be killed.

 
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