Moderate Moment | Moderate Moms

Archive for September, 2013

Click here for headlines

Colorado floods claim 6 lives; 700 still missing  /

Kerry says he is confident deal with Russia will remove Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons again; promises to use force if not

The Future of News?

Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Lays Out His Plan For The Future Of Media

Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams has an ambitious new plan: to shift our daily reading habits away from consuming incremental news bites and towards engaging with enlightened ideas curated by an intelligent algorithm. Ordinarily, such a goal would seem utopian, were it not for the fact that Williams is among a handful of Internet pioneers who have disrupted the media industry multiple times.

Before Twitter terraformed the landscape of news distribution, Williams’s first smash hit, Blogger, became the branded namesake for an upstart generation of amateur writers to challenge the established players

Most importantly, Medium, his new platform for publishing mostly long-form content, has quickly garnered popularity — and infamy. In only a few months, its most popular contributions are making front-page headlines and snagging millions of views. In our Silicon Valley bubble, its contributors semi-regularly spark industry wide-conversations among the Internet elite.

“The site from Twitter’s co-founders is one year old, and still mysterious,” wrote The Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal recently, in one of many stories attempting to understand the Internet multi-millionaire’s enigmatic new project.

Now, for the first time since Williams launched the beta of Medium last year at our own TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Williams is ready to talk.

News “Crap” Vs. A Book

Williams is taking aim squarely at the news industry’s most embarrassing vulnerability: the incessant need to trump up mundane happenings in order to habituate readers into needing news like a daily drug fix.

“News in general doesn’t matter most of the time, and most people would be far better off if they spent their time consuming less news and more ideas that have more lasting import,” he tells me during our interview inside a temporary Market Street office space that’s housing Medium, until the top two floors are ready for his growing team. “Even if it’s fiction, it’s probably better most of the time.”

It’s true. The daily news cycle doesn’t always do its job at enlightening American democracy. In the aptly titled research paper, “Does the Media Matter”, a team of economists found that getting a randomized group of citizens to read the Washington Post did nothing for “political knowledge, stated opinions, or turnout in post-election survey and voter data.”

News, alone, is evidently insufficient to make us a more informed society.

Instead, Williams argues, citizens should re-calibrate their ravenous appetite for information towards more awe-inspiring content. “Published written ideas and stories are life-changing,” he gushes, recalling his early childhood fascination with books as the motivation to take on the media establishment. The Internet “was freeing that up, that excitement about knowledge that’s inside of books–multiplied and freed and unlocked for the world; and, the world would be better in every way.”

In Williams’s grand vision, the public reads for enlightenment; news takes a backseat directly in proportion to how often it leaves us more informed and inspired.

In addition to better content, the news itself might be better written by industry professionals. Climate deniers from conservative outlets, he argues, are a prime example of how the media has failed in its obligation to inform the public. During an extended rant on global warming during our conversation, he didn’t complete the explanation on why industry-professionals-as-writers would solve the problem. But, it’s easy to imagine that if nearly all climate scientists believe in man-made global warming, it would be difficult for media outlets to find a credible writer to claim otherwise.

The elephant in the room was that Williams was not-so-subtly attacking me and my colleagues, especially considering he had claimed that “the state of tech blogs is atrocious — its utter crap.” I asked him to explain what he meant, trying not to sound offended.

Diplomatically clarifying his words, he responded: “Part of the reason a lot of tech blogs are bad is the people writing them don’t really understand what they’re writing about. And so I want to change our definition of professional writing. At least expand it.”

Clearly taking a position on the long-standing debate between journalists and industry insiders, Williams says that the kinds of weekend columns TechCrunch runs from noted businesspeople “are absolutely more valuable” than some of the daily news written by reporters with little business experience.

However, Williams was clear: “please don’t set this up as Evan thinks tech blogs are crap and therefore is fixing them with Medium. People are going to publish crap on Medium.”

Williams was referring to a number of infamous Medium posts that were brazenly elitist and spread misinformation. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Shih’s “10 Things I Hate About You: San Francisco Edition,” was widely criticized for, among other things, perpetuating Silicon Valley’s abject misogyny and callousness toward the homeless. In another embarrasing moment, Medium contributor Michele Catalano wrongly implied that nefarious government spies seized her computer after she searched Google for “backpacks” and “pressure cookers” . Both posts were later modified or taken down. Though the missteps spawned a series of thoughtful counter-posts on Medium and a handful of media outlets, Williams didn’t try to spin the reactions a win.

“People are going to publish crap on Medium…. And guess what? There’s crap on Twitter. There’s crap on blogs. There’s crap on the Internet. And if we try to keep crap off the Internet, the Internet wouldn’t be important,” he argues, with a noticeable defensiveness in his voice that belies his leaned-back posture. “The system’s working if there’s great stuff that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day and/or gets more attention than it would otherwise.”

Okay then, so what’s Williams’s solution for putting a spotlight on the good stuff?

A Simple Medium To Attract Every Good Idea

“Everyone has a story or insight that is worth repeating and they just don’t have the venue to get it heard,” adds former Editor Evan Hansen, a senior editor at Medium, charged with building out its tech, science, and business coverage. Medium sees itself as a hybrid between professional outlets like The New York Times and the unwashed blogger free-for-all of The Huffington Post (which is owned by TechCrunch parent company, Aol). Instead, Medium wants to be the platform for everyone’s one truly viral idea.

Health startup entrepreneur Nick Crocker probably never thought his simple post about a walk through the junk food aisles at his local grocery store would snag over 1 million(!) views. Crocker’s rather elegantly crafted “The World Is Fucking Insane” is a photo-heavy, first-person journey though grocery aisles lined with monster stacks of chemically altered sugary foods on his way to pick up some milk. Its visual simplicity evidently expressed the public’s latent frustration for America’s health crisis in a way that other statistics-packed medical news did not.

In another example, Aron Solomon put a national spotlight on smartphone taxi app, Uber, after it unintentionally instituted surge pricing during Toronto’s massive summer storm. A few news outlets covered the embarrassing incident, but nothing else went viral like the voice of an innocent bystander outraged at the negligent price gouging in his hair-raising post, “The Don’t Be An Asshole Rule.”

Most importantly, both of these posts were composed in the heat of the moment. At Medium, there’s no need to register a website,  sift through a mountain of design options, and re-organize your schedule for the habit of blogging. You just write. “If it’s on a whim, that whim is killed the moment you’re forced to find a unique sub domain and find a template,” explains Williams.

The sheer simplicity of Medium’s writing platform is garnering accolades from respected writers and designers. Medium is “the best composition experience on the web, hands-down” wrote early Facebook designer Julie Zhuo, in a Medium post about Medium (so meta). “You see exactly what your post is going to look like. There is no translation, no guess-work, no typey-typey into some fat text area and wondering whether it’ll do ‘s and ‘s and :) ‘s correctly.”

New York Times tech columnist Nick Bilton also gives Medium a thumps up. “I really like Medium — it’s one of the rare instances where the technology is truly in the background,” he writes to me in an email. “I’d love to be able to replace WordPress with Medium on my personal site.” Fortunately for WordPress, Medium has no plans to become a separate blogging platform — but, it might become home to the occasional industry muse who doesn’t want to hassle with setting up a blog.

Still, Medium isn’t betting that viral posts from one-hit wonders are a sustainable foundation. It has allocated a sizable budget to pay for professional magazine-style exposes. Most recently, it bankrolled a massive 10,000 word, movie-worthy script about a 62-year-old commando whose tantalizing life has included a mission to recover $3 million in gold bullion in the Peruvian mines. “Mercenary” was edited by the same acclaimed author whose 2007 Wired piece about freeing Iranian hostages eventually became the Academy Award-winning fictionalized re-enactment, Argo. Over the next 18 months, the partnering studio, Epic, promises five more edge-of-your-seat stories.

War correspondent, David Axe, is also bringing some heavy long-form explainers about creepy military tech to the pages of Medium. Despite Medium’s implied reluctance against professional writers, it’s clearly willing to invest in public Internet journalism.

“I always felt you couldn’t live without the big expensive scoops as a serious brand in media,” explains Hansen. “If you pursue the low end all the time then the advertisers want nothing to do with you. People with money and affluent readers and people with positions in the areas that you cover of authority and influence don’t read you. You become kind of like, you’re nothing.”

Hansen maintains that Medium is still experimenting. Wherever its ends up, Medium evidently wants to be the home of any bold, viral idea — and it’s willing to run a financial and engineering bulldozer over any barrier to writing.

Yet, even if writers are willing to come to Medium , how will readers find them at a still-obscure publisher?

A Pandora For Substantive Reads, Pageviews Be Damned

Traditional news editors stake their reputations on having an intuition for what drives eyeballs to their sites. Editors don’t, however, know whether readers leave more informed.

Williams thinks Medium has an answer: an intelligent algorithm that suggests stories, primarily based on how long users spend reading certain articles (which he’s discussing publicly for the first time). Like Pandora did for music discovery, Medium’s new intelligent curator aims to improve the ol’ human-powered system of manually scrolling through the Internet and asking others what to read.


In the algorithm itself, Medium prioritizes time spent on an article, rather than simple page views. “Time spent is not actually a value in itself, but in a world where people have infinite choices, it’s a pretty good measure if people are getting value,” explains Williams.

In fairness to news editors, we do know how much time readers spend on an article: We know that less than 60 percent will read more than half of an article, and a significant slice won’t read anything at all. “I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you,” joked tech columnist Farhad Manjoo, in a cathartic post for Slate that was aptly titled “You Won’t Finish This Article: Why People Online Don’t Read To The End.”

This is a histogram showing how far people scroll through Slate

But, because advertisers pay for page views, the incentive is to fish for clicks, no matter how much we try to feature other kinds of higher-quality content.

For example, after Miley Cyrus’ infamous burlesque dance in front of the MTV’s Video Music Awards’ impressionable tween audience, The Onion brilliantly lambasted CNN’s decision to make a burlesque show front-page news.

“So, you may ask, why was this morning’s top story, a spot usually given to the most important foreign or domestic news of the day, headlined “Miley Cyrus Did What???” and accompanied by the subhead “Twerks, stuns at VMAs”?,” wrote The Onion, in a parody OpEd by CNN’s managing editor.

“The answer is pretty simple. It was an attempt to get you to click on so that we could drive up our web traffic, which in turn would allow us to increase our advertising revenue. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, about that story that related to the important news of the day, the chronicling of significant human events, or the idea that journalism itself can be a force for positive change in the world.”

(Another gem of an Internet response was a Tumblr of Miley Cyrus twerking on things that matter.)

I think most of us in the news industry would love if our audience only cared about deeply substantive stories, but expensive content with relatively few page views doesn’t pay the bills. So, what’s Medium’s plan to make money without advertising?

“Web People” And Financial Stability

The short answer is that no one really knows. “Well, it’s got to be sustainable at some level. So I think revenue is in the model,” says Hansen, with a casual attitude that indicates just how little focus Medium is currently devoting to the issue of monetization.

One option is selling eBooks off of its cinematic scripts. A portion of the readers may be willing to pay for the convenience of a Kindle version of “Mercenary,” for instance. But, traffic has to be outstanding for that kind of venture to make money. Pageviews to Mercenary have been okay. “It hasn’t blown the lid off,” admits Hansen, in reference to other Medium pieces that snagged a few million pageviews.

Other monetization options include licensing its technology, and revenue sharing with established media brands that want to post stories on and from Medium (Mother Jones has placed some stories on Medium, while Gawker has wholesale reblogged popular Medium posts on their own site).

Though Medium doesn’t have a solid business plan yet, there is a method to the madness of thinking about product first and money second (or third). Williams has a fascinating way of grouping business types in Silicon Valley between those who successfully managed companies through the dot-com bust (“Web People”) and those who packed up their empty bags and left (“Dot-com People”).

He explains that Web People “loved the web. We loved what was possible and we loved the creativity and we were in it to create; we weren’t in it to make money.”

So, when the bubble burst, Web People stayed — some ultimately making the (very) profitable products we all use today. “The Web People are more sustainable because they kept going. Because they’re driven to create, they’re attracted to the web because of its creative potential. They weren’t scared away when it seemed like it wasn’t an instant path to riches.” he explains, “They were persistent.”

An Optimistic Bet That Keeps Williams Persistent

“I think more people would be in a better place if more people shared their ideas,” says Williams. Seen this way, Medium is just the next logical step in Williams’ three-product cycle to inject better ideas into the world. Blogger helped open the doors for pajama bloggers to compete with the media moguls. A few years later, Twitter gave the power of broadcast distribution to everyone who had 140 characters to share.

Now, to complete the circuit, Medium wants to make viral information more substantive — the hope in the Pandora’s box of communication. “It’s also an optimistic stance to say that we can build a system where good things can shine and get attention. And there’s an audience for ideas and stories that appeal to more than just the most base desires of human beings.”

Or, in essence, Medium’s biggest bet is, “people will read long things — they’ll read a lot.” And that there’s a business in this.


 Fish Tacos


Basic Fish Tacos

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: | Makes: 3 to 4 servings


Fish tacos can be filled with either fried fish (not healthy!) or grilled fish (healthy!). Here’s the healthy version, with a citrus marinade and tangy cabbage slaw.

To see this recipe with illustrated steps, check out The Basics: How to Make Grilled Fish Tacos.

This recipe was also featured as part of our Healthy Cooking photo gallery.

Watch Lisa Lavery of the CHOW Test Kitchen make these delicious fish tacos in an episode from our Easiest Way video series.

  • 1 pound firm white fish, such as tilapia, snapper, cod, mahi mahi, or catfish
  • 2 medium limes, halved
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for oiling the grill grates
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 small head of green or red cabbage (about 14 ounces), cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 to 8 soft (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)
  • Guacamole, for garnish (optional)
  • Salsa, for garnish (optional)
  • Sour cream, for garnish (optional)
  • Hot sauce, for garnish (optional)
  1. Place the fish in a baking dish and squeeze a lime half over it. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt and pepper and turn the fish in the marinade until evenly coated. Refrigerate and let marinate at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the slaw and warm the tortillas.
  2. Combine the cabbage, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl and squeeze a lime half over it. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary; set aside.
  3. Warm the tortillas by heating a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tortilla at a time, flipping to warm both sides, about 5 minutes total. Wrap the warm tortillas in a clean dishcloth and set aside while you prepare the fish.
  4. Brush the grates of a grill pan or outdoor grill with oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on the grill.
  5. Cook without moving until the underside of the fish has grill marks and is white and opaque on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip and grill the other side until white and opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes more. (It’s OK if it breaks apart while you’re flipping.) Transfer the fish to a plate.
  6. Taste the slaw again and season as needed with more lime juice. Slice the remaining lime halves into wedges and serve with the tacos. To construct a taco, break up some of the cooked fish, place it in a warm tortilla, and top it with slaw and any optional garnishes.

Reducing Prejudice in Kids / NPR

To Reduce Prejudice, Try Sharing Passions And Cultures


Sharing passions can help erase ethnic prejudice. No word if that includes a passion for NCAA basketball.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

People can become less prejudiced, but it’s not entirely clear how we make the journey from hatred to acceptance.

Something as simple as a shared passion for The Catcher in the Rye can help, researchers say. So does getting an inside look at the other person’s culture, even if only for a few minutes.

Researchers at Stanford University set up an experiment where a Caucasian or Asian student met a Latina student. Unbeknownst to the Caucasians and Asians, the Latina student was part of the research team. She had been given detailed information about the other student’s interests gathered weeks before. And the info was quite specific about that person’s passions, like a rare documentary or a particular song, not just general things like, “Oh, I like Harry Potter.”

Other studies have found that even sharing a birth date is enough to make people feel positive about someone, and that was the case here, too. The students who shared a passion felt more socially connected than those who didn’t have a shared interest.

Simple enough. But what the researchers really wanted to find out is if learning about a person’s culture and actively participating in it would affect ethnic prejudice. “Culture tends to be so rich,” says Tiffany Brannon, a postdoctoral student in psychology at Stanford who led the study. “It’s a source of meaning, self-motivation and pride.”


Would coming up with a new idea for a video for Camila make you less prejudiced about Latinos?

To find out, the researchers asked 58 of the students to work with their new Latina friend to design a new music video for a pop song. The students were given a choice between a Canadian rock band and a Mexican band, Camila. They all chose Camila.

Some students were told the group was popular in Portugal and given information about Portuguese culture, like dance moves, while others learned about aspects of Mexican culture, like the fact that the band’s music was used in a telenovela. The students who were socially connected to the Latina student and learned about Mexican culture reported less anti-Latino prejudice after the experiment, even though the video project only took 15 minutes.

But wait, there’s more! The researchers then repeated this experiment with another 58 students, the only difference being they were told that they had to use the band Camila. That didn’t go over so well. The students who were given the chance to choose the band were less prejudiced after the experiment. They were also more enthusiastic about Mexican culture.

“Sometimes when people come up with multicultural activities in the classroom or in the workplace, it does feel forced,” Brannon told Shots. “I’m doing this because I have to, rather than it’s something that I’m interested in.”

The researchers tested participants’ attitudes six months later, as part of a survey on a variety of issues. The students who had been socially connected with the Latina student and were involved in Mexican culture continued to express enthusiasm for learning more. The resultswere reported in the journal Psychological Science.

“We’d like to get some evidence on how this would work in a real-world setting,” Brannon says. “Does becoming involved in another group’s culture reduce prejudice in the real world?” She’s also looking into whether the experience is positive for the person who’s the ethnic minority, too.

This $1,000 stroller has NYC parents in a frenzy

This $1,000 stroller has NYC parents in a frenzy

By Caroline Iggulden

September 9, 2013 | 10:15pm


Forget standing on line for the new iPhone, limited-edition handbag, or even a Cronut.

The latest must-have for stylish Manhattan moms is a new, pimped-out status stroller called the Buffalo.

The new set of wheels from trendy brand Bugaboo, whose celebrity fans include Gwyneth Paltrow, Gwen Stefani and Victoria Beckham, is set to take over New York’s streets in the coming months.

Self-confessed “stroller junkies” have been clamoring to get their hands on Bugaboo’s new release since it was launched in Europe earlier this year, with hype building on Internet forums and mommy blogs.

So it is no surprise fans flocked to Upper West Side store Albee Baby, which received an early delivery of the Buffalo over the weekend — and The Post was the first to take the eagerly awaited über-stroller for a spin.

Like the baby version of a high-end SUV, Bugaboo’s new “all-terrain” model boasts tough tires promising as smooth a ride off-road as on New York’s bumpy sidewalks.

However, the eye-watering $1,129 price tag may be enough to stop some parents in their tracks.

New features, such as an extendable sun canopy and massive shopping basket — perfect for Manhattan mommies — improve on Bugaboo’s current iconic model, the Chameleon.

Upper West Side mom-to-be lawyer Lynn Bayard, 44, was quick to snap up a Buffalo for her daughter, due to be born next month.

“I was going to buy the Chameleon but didn’t want to make a decision until I had seen the new Buffalo, so I came in as soon as I heard it had arrived to test it out,” says Bayard. “I like the tires, and the ride seems really smooth . . . I already bought the smaller Bugaboo Bee for traveling with a hot-pink canopy, and am going to get this one to match.”

Six months pregnant myself and new to Manhattan, I knew I couldn’t dawdle in checking out this hot launch for my own imminent arrival if I wanted to be in with the baby group “in-set.”

Bugaboos are often described as “the Rolls-Royce of strollers,” so it is no surprise the tech specs on the Buffalo read like a luxury car brochure. (Even Aston Martin has gotten into the stroller market with the release of the $3,000 limited-edition Silver Cross Surf, which makes the Buffalo seem like a bargain.)

I find myself mesmerized by the jargon boasting of “swivel wheels” and “foam-filled tires,” conjuring images of me cruising through the city with one hand effortlessly pushing my contented infant, the other carrying a cappuccino.

The chunky tires and suspension apparently mean I can snake my way through sand and snow with ease should I suddenly decide on an impromptu move to the Sahara or a late entry into the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Buffalo might handle well halfway up the side of a mountain, but how about on the bumpy terrain of the Meatpacking District? Negotiating those cobblestones is surely at the top of every expectant mom’s list of worries.

No need to fret: Albee Baby helpfully set up an assault course outside its store mimicking everything from a cobbled West Village street to the grass and wood chips of a Central Park playground.

To be fair, the Buffalo laughed in the face of all these challenges.

But it is no coincidence that many of the new features of the Buffalo will feel strangely familiar to moms-in- the-know. It seems Bugaboo may have taken some, ahem, “inspiration” from a rival American firm.

Recently, there has been chatter that Bugaboo’s crown might be slipping as homegrown company UPPAbaby edged into first place in New York’s urban environment.

Many parents shunned the Chameleon in favor of UPPAbaby’s Vista model. Like the Chameleon, the Vista offers babies a great ride, a bassinet for use with newborns and a seat that easily reverses so your precious cargo can face toward you or toward the street.

But many moms felt the Vista had the edge over the Chameleon because of the child’s higher seating position, which allows the stroller to be pulled up easily to cafe tables. They also loved the huge, UVprotective sun canopy, generous shopping basket and — crucially — the fact that at $729.99, it was more than $200 cheaper than the Chameleon and came with more free accessories.

The Vista also became a favorite because of its “one-piece fold” and easy-to-maneuver reclining mechanism.

So guess what, folks? The Buffalo can fold in one piece, and its seat can be reclined with one hand. And it appears Bugaboo has enjoyed a growth spurt and is now even taller than the Vista.

It seems with the Buffalo, Bugaboo isn’t taking the challenge from UPPAbaby lying down, matching the Vista feature for feature.

But all the new bells and whistles make the Buffalo a fairly hefty beast. The Chameleon was always lighter to lift when folded than the Vista, but now the Buffalo is heavier than both of them. (On the plus side, you could cancel your gym membership to help pay for it and still have toned arms.)

And options add to the stroller’s already huge price tag.

“Bugaboo strollers aren’t cheap,” says full-time mom Seagal Hagege, 38, who owns the brand’s Donkey model and was road-testing the Buffalo with daughter Sadie, 2.

“With all the accessories and gimmicks I have bought to add to mine — like seat insert and parasol — I probably push about $3,000 worth of stroller. I should get insurance!”

But what do kids think? Dr. Ginger Friedman took her 18-monthold son, Simeon, for a spin in the Buffalo, and the stroller seemed to receive his seal of approval.

“He seems very comfortable,” says Friedman. “I like how it pushes and how high the handlebar comes up.”

But the mom of one says she isn’t about to swap her UPPAbaby Vista for a Buffalo anytime soon. “This is nice, but it is even more expensive than the Chameleon. I have been really happy with the Vista; it is a great stroller. The price point is a lot more attractive to a lot of parents, too.”

Dutch firm Bugaboo launched in the US in 2003 and quickly became the go-to brand for well-heeled parents after its iconic Frog stroller featured in an episode of “Sex and the City,” pushed by Miranda.

Gwyneth Paltrow was a devotee of the Bugaboo, the most ubiquitous stroller among A-listers, and gifted one to Beyoncé when she had Blue Ivy. Yet Sarah Jessica Parker has always favored the Vista, along with Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon.

And Kate Middleton — who recently got a Chameleon for Prince George — will no doubt be devastated to read of the release of the Buffalo, as the heir to the British throne is now riding in a carriage soon to be surpassed by a hotter stroller.

While family-run business Albee Baby is one of the first Manhattan shops to stock the Buffalo, many larger retailers aren’t expecting deliveries until as late as January.

Store stroller expert Issie Santiago reckons the Buffalo is set to explode as the latest phenomenon in nursery gear.

“Once people start seeing this on the street, they are going to go crazy for it,” says Santiago. “I have already had customers calling and asking when we will have it.”

The Buffalo might cost the equivalent of a small secondhand family car, and struggle to fit easily into the trunk of one when folded, but that won’t deter Bugaboo devotees desperate to snap them up.

Missouri Makes National Headlines … Again!

The political forces dominating our country are building and colliding here in the way that two of this state’s great rivers, the Missouri and the Mississippi, do around the Confluence. Both parties are eyeing Missouri for their political conventions. The Democrats are looking at St. Louis while the Republicans are considering Kansas City. How beautiful would it be if we had both? And what a remarkable opportunity it would give Missouri to show a new face and new brand of politics to the rest of the country? That of a true Moderate.  Maybe we could get together in Plano? Which is technically the middle of the country? 

I just finished reading about the “cataclysmic showdown” tomorrow’s veto session in the State Capitol is expected to bring. And read with mild amusement a sidebar about the “characters” who would be deciding the fate of many important bills. The top Republican is gunning for a record breaking override of the Democratic Governor’s vetoes. You can almost here them shout, “Four!” as they huddle, eager to fight. With all due respect, it is political theatre at its finest in this state right now.  If you’re me, and you want to reach out to people who don’t necessarily follow political minitua day in and day out, it’s a great time to ask them to lean in and learn more about the goings on here. 

One of the most contentious issues is whether massive corporate tax cuts lead to economic growth.  I believe they do. But the issue is complicated (opponents would say corrupted) by the fact that those tax cuts have been tied to school funding and the State is holding back hundreds of millions in education funds in case the tax cuts pass.  The reasonable Republican, Sen. Eric Schmitt of Glendale, is so reasonable, I’m worried no one is hearing about his bill, House Bill 253. It would cut corporate and personal taxes but stagger the cuts over time. 

Another key issue is whether Missouri should pass a gun nullification law. Missouri’s ducking of federal laws is a reflection of Missouri’s political personality that fascinates me. Generally, I do believe in states’ rights and that so many of the issues weighing us down on the national stage are best left up to the states. But is there a point, where we need to compromise to forge ahead?

The nullification law is especially timely because of the cataclysmic failure to pass a Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Nullification would basically allow Missouri to opt out of following all federal gun laws. Curiously, not even the NRA is fighting for it.  A reasonable Democrat (who used to be a Republican), Attorney General Chris Koster, is distancing his office, saying it could hurt law enforcement efforts and even put Missouri out of the loop on federal anti-terrorism efforts. And even worse, create gun loopholes that criminals could exploit. 

Stay tuned for lots of tweets from the State Capitol Wednesday.  National politics is playing out on our doorstep. And a front row seat is as close as your cell phone or laptop! 

Click here for headlines

Syria accepts proposal to turn chemical weapons over to Russia. France brings resolution to UN.

Click here for headlines

Immigration: From bi-partisan approval in the Senate to the back burner in just 3 months

Most States lack Disaster Evacuation Plan for Kids / Andrew Miga AP


Eight years after Hurricane Katrina, most states still don’t require four basic safety plans to protect children in school and child care from disasters, aid group Save the Children said in a report released Wednesday.

The group faulted 28 states and the District of Columbia for failing to require the emergency safety plans for schools and child care providers that were recommended by a national commission in the wake of Katrina. The lack of such plans could endanger children’s lives and make it harder for them to be reunited with their families, the study said.

The states were: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

“Every workday, 68 million children are separated from their parents,” Carolyn Miles, Save the Children’s president and CEO, said in a statement with the group’s annual disaster report card. “We owe it to these children to protect them before the next disaster strikes.”

After Katrina exposed problems in the nation’s disaster preparedness, the presidentially appointed National Commission on Children and Disaster issued final recommendations in 2010 .calling on the states to require K-12 schools to have comprehensive disaster preparedness plans and child care centers to have disaster plans for evacuation, family reunification and special needs students.

Idaho, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan do not require any of the four recommended plans, the study found, while D.C. and the remaining states each require one or more of them.

The number of states meeting all four standards has increased from four to 22 since 2008, the report said. The group praised New Jersey, Tennessee, Nebraska and Utah for taking steps over the past year to meet all four standards.

Save the Children said it found gaps in emergency preparedness during a year when school shootings devastated Newtown, Conn., Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc along the East Coast and tornadoes ravaged Oklahoma.

Miles said such disasters “should be a wake-up call, but too many states won’t budge.”

A spokeswoman for the National Governors Association declined comment on the report, referring questions to the various states.


The Pioneer Woman cooks Roast Chicken

Once again, I’m printing a recipe because I love the name of the site it comes from.


1 whole Chicken, Rinsed And Patted Dry 3/4 cups Butter, Softened 3 whole Lemons 4 sprigs Rosemary Salt And Pepper, to taste

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection bake. If you’re using a standard oven, you can do 425.) Zest two of the lemons. Strip the leaves off of one of the rosemary sprigs and chop it up finely. In a bowl, combine softened butter, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and lay the patted-dry chicken on the foil, breast side up. Use your fingers to smear the butter mixture all over the chicken, under the skin, and inside the cavity. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice of one lemon all over the chicken. Place the six lemon halves (if they’ll fit!) and the three remaining rosemary leaves into the cavity of the bird. Place the chicken into the oven and roast it for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until done. Skin should be deep golden brown and juices should be sizzling. Carve/cut up to your heart’s content and dig in! cken, Rinsed And Patted Dry 3/4 cups Butter, Softened 3 whole Lemons 4 sprigs Rosemary Salt And Pepper, to taste Preparation Instructions Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection bake. If you’re using a standard oven, you can do 425.) Zest two of the lemons. Strip the leaves off of one of the rosemary sprigs and chop it up finely. In a bowl, combine softened butter, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and lay the patted-dry chicken on the foil, breast side up. Use your fingers to smear the butter mixture all over the chicken, under the skin, and inside the cavity. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice of one lemon all over the chicken. Place the six lemon halves (if they’ll fit!) and the three remaining rosemary leaves into the cavity of the bird. Place the chicken into the oven and roast it for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until done. Skin should be deep golden brown and juices should be sizzling. Carve/cut up to your heart’s content and dig in!