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Listening to Heart-Speech

Sometimes our hearts tell us things.

When we lived in town we had a neighbor who would put her hand up to the right side of her face, like a blinder, whenever she left her house. One day I asked her why. She pointed to the new buildings in the ravine at the end of our street. "Those houses--I can't bear to see them," she said. "My children used to play there. It was all woods. We had picnics--"

Her voice broke, and she didn't finish her sentence.

But her meaning was clear:

We bond with landscape just as we do with people, and the breaking of those bonds hurts just as much.

But growth is the one thing our modern capitalist society cannot do without. When housing-starts fall off, the economy is in trouble. When people stop buying consumer items, the economy is in trouble. Expansion, constant expansion, is what we need. Therefore, we are trained to suppress stabs of grief such as my neighbor felt. "Well, that's progress," we are supposed to say, resignedly, when a highway, shopping mall, or subdivision replaces the greenspace we had loved.

But our hearts keep talking.

Enter writers, whose job it is to hear heart-speech and then express it through their own creations.

TOPEKA, Kan. - In response to yesterday's posting on the efforts by the telecom industry in Kansas to undo the Kan-ed program, I received the following statement from Bradley S. Williams, M.S., CIO & Executive Director of Kan-ed. It outlines well the programs and services provided by Kan-ed to the people of Kansas:

I am reaching out to you directly today because Cox Communications (Wichita), who is a Kan-ed Authorized Provider, has elected to lobby against Kan-ed members and their funding. Cox Communications has asked House Speaker Mike O'Neal (R-Hutchinson) to introduce House Bill 2390 to eliminate Kan-ed effective July 1, 2011. The Speaker of the House indicated yesterday he is supportive of the bill and we also know that Representative Joe McLeland (R-Wichita), is also pushing to dismantle Kan-ed as he has done every year since Kan-ed inception.

If Cox and the Speaker are successful with HB 2390, then all Kan-ed connections and services will go away. That includes all network and video connections, Renovo Video scheduler, licenses, and servers, MCU, (homework Kansas), Empowered Desktop and LS test builder, EMResource (hospitals ER database) and E-rate support just to name a few... all gone.

student-laptop.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, on March 14th, at the request of the Speaker of the House Mike O'Neal (R-Hutchinson), the chair of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee, Marc Rhodes (R-Newton), introduced HB 2390 that would abolish Kan-Ed and transfer all remaining assets to the state's general fund effective July 1 of this year. Internet access would continued to be administered by the Kansas Universal Service Fund, that is overseen by the Kansas Corporation Commission, but other services provide by Kan-Ed would expire.

Kan-Ed was created by the Kansas Legislature in 2001 and administered through the Kansas Board of Regents. The purpose of the program is to expand the collaboration capabilities of Kan-Ed's member institutions: K-12 schools, higher education, libraries and hospitals through the use of technology.

As such, it provides services including hospital ER databases, provides libraries, schools and hospitals with affordable and high-speed Internet connectivity, the ELMeR videoconferencing network, research databases (including all K-12 databases and Heritage Quest), Kan-Ed Live Tutor (Homework Kansas), and more.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The June 10th edition of Community Bridge, Manhattan's alternative to talk radio, featured the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Kansas Free Press, in a follow-up to our 2009 show about the online newspaper. Now in its eighth month of activity with over 70 writers, the Kansas Free Press provides Kansans with an alternative to the mainstream media.

She talks about how the Kansas Free Press has grown, what some future plans include, how people can support the newspaper, the mainstream media in Kansas, and the role Net Neutrality plays in allowing the Kansas Free Press to survive and reach its public.

Just click the arrow below to begin playing audio of the radio program:

(Or, download and save the original MP3 file)

MANHATTAN, Kan. - "A dedicated group of people are starting a new radio station that serves the public interest." Now there's a headline we get to read about everyday in the for-profit media. NOT! But that very thing is happening here.

2007 logo
In 2005 and 2007, a group of Manhattanites, community members and K-State students, attended the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis and Memphis sponsored by Free Press. Free Press is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media. Free Press uses education, organizing and advocacy to promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, quality journalism, and universal access to communications.

With the framework and knowledge gained at the conferences, local citizens began to question what the local Manhattan media was providing them in terms of content and diversity of opinion. What they found was a media landscape in which the major issues of the day were reduced to sound bites and celebrity trivia was pushed as meaningful content.

Google Becomes Topeka

HOBOKEN, N.J. - Google users from across the United States today were surprised to see that the premier search engine and world changer has changed its name to Topeka. This is a sight that should not be missed. Who knows how long it will last? But it must be seen to be believed. Log on right now to and check it out. To find out more about the background of this stranger-than-sci fi event, see

Unhappily for loyal Topekans, the name change did not extend globally. In Mexico the page says, "Dia de tontos" or day of stupid people.

Open Government in Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. - I spent an hour last week on a conference call organized by the Sunlight Foundation about open government in Kansas. The Sunlight Foundation is an organization whose self-proclaimed mission is to use "cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable." It was really encouraging to see the interest in open government, but there's lots to be done.

We have some counties (20 according to the Sunshine Review) that don't even have websites, much less accessible data about their governments. You can't make claims of openness when you're not even presenting basic information about yourself online.

SALINA, Kan. - The State of Kansas currently has legislation pending related to distracted driving. The legislation (Kansas House Bill 2132) would prohibit text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Specifically, drivers in Kansas would be prohibited from sending, reading or writing a "text message by means of an electronic wireless communications device."

On any given day last year, an estimated 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone who used a hand-held cell phone at some point during their drive, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A recent study in the journal Human Factors has found that texting while driving is riskier than talking on a cell phone or with other passengers while driving.

SALINA, Kan. - When a Virginia Tech student disappeared at a Metallica concert in Charlottesville last fall, her friends and family turned to social media to find her. A few months later, when a Utah woman went missing, supporters launched what some claimed was the most extensive use of online technology in a missing-person search, enlisting close to 40,000 Facebook and Twitter members in three days. Thus far, neither campaign has led to the two missing women.

Nevertheless, said Claudette Artwick, associate professor of journalism and mass communications at Washington and Lee University, another way to assess the success or failure of these efforts is by looking at the media coverage they generate.

In the pre-social-media days, the goal was to get a missing person's photo on television and in the newspaper. Social media now allow friends and family to put that photo in front of millions and millions of eyes with or without the help of traditional media.

SALINA, Kan. - Facebook apparently doesn't interfere with the sleep that students get. How much sleep college students get each night is not affected by how much time they spend using social media, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire.

"The study indicates that using social media is hardly what keeps students up at night," said UNH adjunct professor Chuck Martin, whose marketing research class conducted the study.

The study found that the most popular online network was Facebook, with 97 percent of all university students actively using the social media platform. LinkedIn was the least used, with 10 percent of students actively using it.

"Using Facebook, and to a lesser degree YouTube, blogs or Twitter, do not appear to have any impact on how much or how little students sleep," Martin explained.

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