The Curious Autodidact

May 27, 2010

Throwback Thursday: Nicest Gift You Can Leave Those “left behind”

Filed under: end of life,helpful hints,money saving ideas,nonprofit — Honilima @ 1:31 am


Although we live in a death denying culture one of the nicest things that you can do is to complete this paperwork called PUTTING YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER that details your wishes upon death. Produced by the People’s Memorial Association, the oldest continually running funeral cooperative in the country, this details your most personal end of life wishes and details that your survivors will appreciate knowing. Please if you find this form helpful please take time to send them a small donation to keep their organization providing this information.

Years back a close friend of ours died. I had nagged my friends all to sign up with the local nonprofit funeral cooperative and what did we find? A filled out forms telling us what he hadn’t been able to tell us himself, his final wishes. We were obviously suffering a great loss but this forethought and consideration was such a gift to receive.

Funeral Consumer’s Alliance is a national organization that is a watch dog group over the funeral industry and their website has lots of helpful end of life information too. They keep a hawk’s eye on the ways the ever more corporate funeral world takes advantage of grieving families and works to support the various funeral cooperatives around the country many of which are run by dedicated volunteers.


May 14, 2010

Books about Prison, new and old

Filed under: book related,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 9:04 pm

America’s prison population has grown exponentially in the past forty years. According to the bureau of prison statistics data as of 2007 there were 2.3 million people behind bars in federal and local prisons.

Piper Kerman’s book Orange is the New Black has garnered quite a bit of attention, a Smith College grad she wound up slithering into the world of drug trafficking. She was incarcerated for thirteen months, almost ten years after her involvement. Her book gives well-written look inside a prison experience, in a medium security facility in New York. Her experience is no picnic but she spends quite a bit of time describing the women she served with rather than dwell on her own frustrations. Ms. Kerman appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and although the comments on their website are sort of sour grapes it is an interesting read. Here’s a link to her piece that appeared in the New York Times Magazine called Prison Day One.

She said there aren’t many books about women in prison and she is right although it is worth looking for Jean Harris‘s book They Always Call Us Ladies: Stories From Prison, (that is out of print) at the library.

Ted Conover is a brilliant journalist and author whose nonfiction work you may or may not be familiar. With the exception of his newest book Routes of Man I have read all of his other books through the years and enjoyed them all. His book Newjack details his stint working on the “inside” as a correctional officer at Sing Sing. If you want a taste of his work you can hear him on The Moth Podcast performing, without notes, his work “All Prisoners Lie.

Here are more facts that you’d likely want to know about our country’s prison industrial complex (one of my hot-button issues).

The Growing Corrections System
• The number of inmates in state and federal prisons has increased nearly seven-fold from less than 200,000 in 1970 to 1,518,535 by midyear 2007. An additional 780,581 are held in local jails, for a total of 2.3 million.
• Between 2000 and 2006, the state prison population increased by an average annual rate of 1.7%, the federal population by 5.3%, and jail population by 3.6%
• As of 2007, 1 of every 131 Americans was incarcerated in prison or jail.
• The number of persons on probation and parole has been growing dramatically along with institutional populations. There are now 7.3 million Americans incarcerated or on probation or parole, an increase of more than 290 percent since 1980.
• One in ten (10.4%) black males aged 25-29 was in prison or jail in 2007 as were 1 in 28 (3.6%) Hispanic males and 1 in 59 (1.7%) white males in the same age group.
• Nationally, 69 females per 100,000 women are serving a sentence in prison; 957 males per 100,000 men are in prison.
• The 2007 United States’ rate of incarceration of 762 inmates per 100,000 population is the highest reported rate in the world, well ahead of the Russian rate of 635 per 100,000.
Who is in our Prisons and Jails?
• 93% of prison inmates are male, 7% female.
• As of 2007, there were 208,300 women in state and federal prison or local jail.
• 40% of persons in prison or jail in 2006 were black and 20% were Hispanic.
• 62% of jail inmates in 2006 were unconvicted and awaiting trial, compared to 51% in 1990.
• 82% of those sentenced to state prisons in 2004 were convicted of non-violent crimes, including 34% for drug offenses, and 29% for property offenses.
• 1 in 4 jail inmates in 2002 was in jail for a drug offense, compared to 1 in 10 in 1983; drug offenders constituted 20% of state prison inmates and 55% of federal prison inmates in 2001.
• Black males have a 32% chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives; Hispanic males have a 17% chance; white males have a 6% chance.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

May 1, 2010

Gloria Steinem: Still Working for Change

Filed under: media related,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 3:26 am

Ms. Steinem taken decades ago

Gloria Steinem stopped by the KUOW studios on her way to a speaking gig for the YWCA in Seattle and her chat with his Steve Sher is worth listening to. Somehow this 76 year old woman keeps on ticking and continues to inspire women to work for change. When the school teacher called in to say that most of her students thought that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) had passed I was gnashing my teeth. Gloria may you have an even longer life and good health so you may continue to inspire us to keep up the good fight, for change in the way society values women’s lives, and women’s work. Bravo!

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