The shape and size of this site may change, but its orientation never will.  This will always be a place where good things take root.
You know the expression, If you haven’t got something nice to say…Well that’s kind of the idea behind this site.  I don’t enjoy getting bad  news, and I certainly don’t like  delivering it to someone else.   So if you have a complaint, there are plenty of sites that invite you to air your grievance.  Not here.  Here, there’s only room for kudos.  
There will be a star system, only four and five: kudos and special kudos. These reflect the totally subjective impression of one person.  These impressions are shared only for entertainment value and in no way warranty, guarantee or insure that anyone else will have the same experience.

These kudos are personal and are shared without endorsement or suggestion of safety, value or usefulness.

Kudos To…

The Fresh Air Fund***** 

Amish farms

Amish farms, Lancaster, PA July 2011 Photo by PookieFugglestein Public Domain

Since 1877 the Fresh Air Fund has reached out to children and offered them respite from the concrete playgrounds of city neighborhoods.  Today the Fund continues its work and broadens its mission.  It no longer confines itself to offering a couple of weeks of fresh air to urban kids, but also offer tutoring and mentoring.

The Fresh Air Fund has expanded its mission in another way.  The children of Irish and Italian immigrants have been replaced by immigrant children from other parts of the world.  The Fund has stepped up outreach to these new groups in order to insure that services reach those who need them.

Kudos to the Fresh Air Fund, which has been making a contribution to families for almost 150 years.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity 

Einstein’s Formula
Picture in the Public Domain on Wikimedia Commons

While physicists continue to explore the implications of Einstein’s insight, no one can deny that his formula changed the course of history and the way science views the universe.  So, Kudos to Einstein and the Theory of Relativity.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights*****

A 1949 Image of Eleanor Roosevelt holding an English language copy of the Declaration From Wikimedia Commons in the Public Domain


There are people who see sovereignty compromised by the existence of this document.  I am not one of them.  I  believe the Declaration is a hard-won dividend of two savage world wars.

No-Kill Animal Shelter

Two dogs rescued from the waters of Hurricane Frances. Picture Taken at the no-kill shelter, All Creatures Great and Small in North Carolina Picture snapped by Lief Skoogfors. In the Public Domain on Wikimedia Commons

All Creatures Great and Small in North Carolina

I understand the rationale for killing animals that are homeless–but I just can’t wrap my mind around it.  The no-kill movement is the only ethical way to approach rescue of homeless animals. Kudos to that.  Many of the animals who are trapped and put to death would really rather be left in their homeless state than be deprived of life.  Trap them, indeed, and neuter them.  Find them homes or shelter them.  Of course, if they are suffering–that is, if they have a dreadful disease or injury which is causing them to suffer–then euthanasia might be an option.

Carter Center’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program 

Guinea Worm Larvae, Photo by Dr. Mae Melvin of the CDC From Wikimedia Commons, in the Public Domain

The Guinea worm is a dreadful scourge that has been endemic to certain parts of the world for a very long time. The Carter Center estimates that when it began its Guinea worm eradication program in 1986, there were approximately 3.5 million cases worldwide.  Today the Center estimates the number of cases to be somewhere around 500.The Guinea worm larvae are ingested when water contaminated with water fleas is ingested. The water fleas do not survive the digestive process but worm larvae do. The larvae mature and breed within the host. After about a year, an adult female, pregnant with hundreds of thousands of eggs, migrates to the skin, causes a blister to form and eventually bursts through.  The emerging worm can be as long as 2 – 3 feet. As the adult exits the blister it discharges eggs into the environment–this often is the community water supply. Thus is the groundwork laid for the cycle of Guinea worm infection to continue.  Kudos to That.Check out the Carter Center website for more information about this soon-to-be eradicated parasitic disease.

Project Gutenberg

Image from The African, 1789 Gustavus Vassa, a former slave who writes of his experiences
Available on Project GutenbergI’ve said it elsewhere on this website: I love the Internet.  The free flow of information enriches all of humanity.  It is never in the interest of an oligarch or tyrant that people be educated and aware.  Tyranny is strengthened by fear,  and fear is bred most successfully in an environment of ignorance.

Project Gutenberg
offers resources that otherwise would not be available to the average person.  Even people with free library service–and this is hardly everyone–are constrained by the taste and politics of the librarian, and also by the physical limits of a brick and mortar building.  Project Gutenberg exploits the opportunity offered by the Internet; this is one kind of exploitation I heartily endorse.


Best of History Websites

A Portrait of Ghengis Khan by an Anonymous Court Painter On Wikimedia Commons in the Public Domain

Are you a history junkie? Or do you just love poking around websites and looking for information.  If that sounds like you, then this site will be a delightful find.  Designed for tech teachers as a history resource, The Best of History Websites is a  collaborative effort of U. S. and U.K. educators.  There are so many rich avenues to explore from this one information portal that I cannot summarize them here.  Kudos to that. Explore history–discover the world.  Check this site out if you count yourself among the incurably curious. 

Charity Navigator

A Neighborhood in Haiti Photo shot by Alsandro Creative Commons Share Alike on Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes it’s hard to separate the sheep from the wolves; when it comes to assessing the integrity of charitable organization, Charity Navigator  is a good place to start.  The Navigator provides a user-friendly search box in which you can enter the name of a specific charity or just a category.  If you enter a category, a list of appropriate charities will appear.  Each charity on the list will have a 0 metric which shows spending priorities, financial transparency and agency mission. 

Sometimes I’ll do a search for a certain charity on the Navigator and get no result.  That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the charity–just that the Navigator hasn’t evaluated it.  I like the Navigator because money is always in short supply and when I decide to donate I’d like to be sure I get the best return on my investment. For example, if I want to find an organization that is dedicated to helping the Haitian people, I go to the Navigator, put in the word “Haiti”.  I find an organization call Hands Together, which gets a top, four star rating.  When I look at the metrics, I see that from a total operating budget of $4,323,898 the CEO of Hands Together gets a salary of $131,118. I think that’s reasonable.  About 88% of the organization’s  budget is spent directly on agency programs.  I think that’s also pretty reasonable. So, if I were donating to a charity that operates in Haiti, Hands Together would be a prime candidate.

First Book

Two Children in Laos who are delighting in a book, the “first book” for one of them Photo by Blue Plover Creative commons License on Wikimedia Commons

First Book spends 97% of its budget on program activities (according to Charity Navigator).  The organization’s mission is to promote literacy in under-served communities.  What more can I say that would recommend this organization?Kudos to First Book.

Feeding America

In September of 2013 The US Department of Agriculture issue a report entitled, Household Food Security in the Untied States in 2012.  According to this report, 14.5 percent of American households were without a secure supply of food for at least part of the year.  Additionally, 5.7 percent of Americans suffered something called very low food security.  However these numbers are interpreted, one thing seems certain: a lot of people are going hungry in the U.S.  In the same month that the USDA’s report was issued, the U. S. House of Representatives voted to cut appropriations for food subsidies.  Which means organizations like Feeding American become an essential part of the country’s social safety net.
Right now, I’m not looking at the politics of hunger; I’m thinking about the hungry.  Which means I’m grateful to Feeding America for providing food to those who do not have enough to eat. I say Kudos to Feeding America and to every other organization that dedicates itself to reducing hunger in America–or anywhere else in the world.

A Soup Kitchen, 1910 (in Russia?) By Russian Photographer Karl Bulla From Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

In 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention for Elimination of All Discrimination against Women. In  1981 the Convention was given the status of Treaty.  What the Convention does is establish an international Bill of Rights for women, and sets forth a program by which countries may guarantee those rights to women.  By 1989 nearly 100 member nations of the United Nations had joined in signing the Convention.  A Map showing the countries that have become party to the treaty as of 2013 can be found at the following site: UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.
Besides being a principle of basic human rights, equality for women achieves a number of other very real goals.  Women with economic equality lift families through participation in the work force.  Women who are literate increase the educational aspirations and achievement of children and thus influence the productivity of generations of both genders.Below is a collage of pictures women who are actively engaged in jobs that some think of as traditionally limited to men.  These women are demonstrating the reality of economic opportunity and by doing so are contributing to their communities and their families.Kudos to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Women at work, from the left:

A doctor in Pakistan treats a female patient(DFID – UK Department for International Development) A factory worker in England operates heavy machinery(Copied and digitised from special feature:: Sister Susies of 1940 are on the job, Courier Mail, Saturday 10 August, 1940 p.6) An agent in the U. S. inspects meat seized by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (work of U. S. Government employee, public domain)Doctors Without Borders

MSF/Doctors Without Borders*****

Every time I read about war, or an outbreak of disease, I read about doctors who are working in these high risk areas.  Very often the doctors have been sent by a remarkable organization called Doctors Without Borders–in some parts of the world the charity is known as Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF).  Where do these doctors get their courage, I wonder.  What kind of dedication to the principles of their profession do they have that they put their personal safety at risk.In 1999, MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.The doctors who volunteer with MSF are truly heroes.  In September of this year a young MSF physician, Dr. Muhammad Abyad, was killed in Syria.  It seems a paltry thing to say Kudos to Dr. Abyad.  I will instead say praise to this man whose life was lost in the most worthy of causes.

MSF feeding center in Maradi, Niger during the 2005 famine
Author, J. Bavier, Voice of America
Wikimedia Commons, public domain

NonHuman Rights Project*****

New habits are hard to establish, especially new habits of thought.  It often doesn’t feel right to be contrary, to oppose the authorities of custom and consensus.  But every advance in history has required just such an adjustment of attitude.  In the age of slavery, the movement to free individuals seemed revolutionary.  In a time when children were viewed as possessions, the effort to bestow civil rights on minors  seemed subversive.  And yet, we see today an agreement among enlightened people that these changes in perspective were essential to social progress.  A similar adjustment in attitude toward animals is currently evolving and the NonHuman Rights Project is doing its part to see that the adjustment moves at a steady pace.

On its website, the NonHuman Rights Project explains its mission:  ..to change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty…”.  The work of this organization reflects a growing body of evidence in the scientific community that different species of animals possess varying degrees of sentience.  This sentience distinguishes animals  from things, such as desks and doors, which are indisputably objects that can be owned and manipulated.Any reasonable person would agree that an animal is intrinsically different from an artifact, and yet the law treats animals and artifacts the same, in many ways.The NonHuman Rights Project seeks a change in legal status for animals that reflects what progress in science–and evolution in morality–demand.  Animals are not “things’.  They are living feeling creatures who may not  be human but who share with human beings the right to bodily integrity and bodily liberty.

A group protesting animal experimentation in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain Photo by El Pantera Under attribution share-alike license on Wikimedia Commons

The Center for Public Integrity*****

A 1908 picture of coal miners in a West. Virginia mine Author: Lewis Wickes Hine In the Public Domain, Work of U. S. government employee

I don’t know when this organization first came to my attention, but since it has I have found it to be an invaluable resource for responsible, well-researched information.  The article that caught my eye today was one about  meting out punishment to students in the San Francisco School district. It seems that although African American students make up only 8% of the school population they comprise about 50% of its suspensions.  Many studies have shown a correlation between school drop out rates and suspension; therefore the apparent racial imbalance in suspensions has long-term implications. Another issue that has been explored in depth by The Center for Public Integrity is the lack of legal and medical resources available to coal miners with Black Lung Disease.  In a multi-part series, the Center looks at a nexus of industry, high-priced lawyers and reputable medical  professionals that has effectively denied Black Lung patients and their families compensation.

I believe that reliable information is the grease that keeps a democracy working.  Only an informed electorate can act in its best interest.  This is why, in my book,  an organization like The Center for Public Integrity receives the highest grade for civic service.
Kudos to the Center for Public Integrity

The eclipse of 1919 proved Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity was correct From the Book Rabindranath Tagore

Rhythm Prism Publishing


A small company taking the Indie route, Rhythm Prism is trying something new in education: standards without rote learning.  The spirit of the times in education seems to be moving away from understanding the world.  The social studies curriculum in many schools has shrunk.  Science, technology, business: all essential to understanding and the negotiating the world.  But without an understanding of how these things came to be and the context in which they exist, they can be tools that do not serve a better good but merely serve a purpose.Rhythm Prism Publishing offers a selection of material that informs in the context of a world view.  It opens a window on the past and thus offers a perspective on the future.  These books have value for the young readers who are its target audience.Kudos to Rhythm Prism Publishing.
Index to pages
Art: Sofonisba Anguissola, Mathew Brady, Peter Bruegel the Elder, Karl Bulla,Walker Evans, Zhou Fang, Vincent van Gogh, El Greco, Lewis Wickes Hine, Dorothea Lange,Odon Lechner,Claude MonetBlog: Airbus, Annenberg Foundation, Arctic 30, Susan Boyle’s Autism, Arline Bronzaft, Ban on Stop and Frisk, John Bilotti, Chimps in Retirement, James Davis, Bronx Defenders, Baba Lawal Ja’faar, Electric Car Coalition, Earthlings, Girls Court, Montserrat Garibay, Kirsten Gillibrand, Haratins of Mauritania, Hawaii and Same Sex Marriage, Patricia Ann Kettles, Kumi Naido, Leo Grillo, Leona Lewis, Navajo’s Ban Horse Slaughter, Monarch Watch, Mt. Sinai Surgeons Treat Holli the Gorilla, Ntozake ShangeDr. Thomas Rees, Obama’s Green Initiative, Voters of New Jersey, Phineas the Dog, Joachin Phoenix, Solana, Zephyr Teachout, Tim Walsh, Owain Yeoman, Minimum Wage Referendum, TaterTot, Vera Institute, Craig Steven Wilder,  Pope FrancisBooks:
Fiction: 1984, Broken Prey, Burmese Days, Darkness at Noon, Disgrace, Far from the Madding Crowd, Heart of Darkness, Hunger, Journal of the Plague Year, Lorna Doone, The Golden Pot, The Idiot, Therese Raquin, Vanity Fair, Ward No. 6, We Have Always Lived in a Castle

Non Fiction
A Mask for Every Face, Awakenings, Cocteau, Contempt of Court, Irrational Man, Kagero Nikki, Maupassant: A Lion in the Path, Mother Courage and her Children, Mussolini, Night, Reflecting, Stalin, Tales from the Old Oak Table, The Grotesque in Art and Literature, The Most Famous Man in America, There is a Special Place

Dance: Amazing Flamenco, Balanchine’s Nutcracker, Baryshnikov Push Comes to Shove, Gregory Hines, Hines/Briggs/Sandman/Sims/Slyde, Jimmy Slyde, Jimmy Slyde II, Kamel Battle, Meda and Kamel, Miss Twist Demo, Nicholas Brothers, Rhythm Prism Promo, White Nights, Baryshnikov and Hines
Health: DermNet, Discovery Medicine, Hindawi Journals, Johns Hopkins, Johns Hopkins Lupus Center, Lupus UK, Mayo Clinic, NAMI, NIH, Project C.U..R,E., Spondylitis Association, SUN1, The Lupie Bin, Thesearethefacesoflupus.com

Movies: 21 Grams, Apocalypse Now, ApocalyptoBeetlejuice, Citizen Kane, East of Eden, Marathon Man, Moonstruck, O Brother Where Art Thou, Platoon, Raising Arizona, Robocop, 
Searching for Sugarman. Taxi Driver, The Blues Brothers, The Dear Hunter, The Godfather, The Dancer Upstairs, The Godfather II, The Hustler, The Mission, The Parallax View, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Music: Bill Withers, Billie Holiday, Dave Brubeck, Ellla Fitzgerald, Jelly Roll Morton, John Lee Hooker, Judy Collins, Chick Corea, Lena Horne, Muddy Waters, Roy Orbison,The Animals, The Doors, Tina Turner,
Tito Puente
Opinion Anglo Boer War, Counterpunch, Gizmos Freeware, Il Siciliano’s Website, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health, 
Moby-Almost Home, National Park Service, No Place for Rumors, Public Citizen, South African History Online, The Raw Story, The Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony, Webstatsdomain, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Zero Hedge
Science: Environmental Sciences Europe, Featured Topic on Discover, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, MIT OPENCOURSEWARE, NASA Science/Astrophysics,    Nova Beta, Paleontology Portal, Science, Scientific American, Science Daily, Science.gc.ca, USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, Wikisky SportsAccu-stats, AZBilliards, Baseballtrivia, Cardplayer, ESPN, Highstakes.db, Inside Pool, Pocketfives, Pokernews, Pokerpages, Pokerstarstv, Pokerworks, Pro-Football Reference, The Action Report, Thebike, Twoplustwo, Worldpokertour

Cadiz, Calais to Dover Ferry, Chateau de Vincennes, Colorado Springs, Innere Stadt, Vienna, 
Lake Louis, Museum of Natural History (NY), Old Westbury Gardens, O.Orkin Insect Zoo, Ottawa, Oxford MS, Red Rock Canyon, Reims Cathedral, Seville, Trier, Ulm

TV: Arrested Development, Breaking Bad, Deadwood, Game of Thrones, Hatfields and McCoys, HomelandMalcolm in the Middle, Rome, The Honeymooners, The Sopranos, The Twilight Zone, The Walking Dead