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Montebello E-News

 April 26, 2007 

 Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization. 
Oscar Wilde
Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer,

1854 – 1900



In This Issue

1. Time, Time, Time (A Guide for Students)

2.     Walks outside the Box, Part 2

3.     Announcements

4.     Fun Fact

5.     The Flashback Quarterback on Democratizing Democracy

6.     About Montebello E-News and “My Montebello” 


 Online Community Lesson

Time, Time, Time (A Guide for Students)

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time,
for that is the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founders of the United States, author, political theorist, politician, printer, scientist, inventor, civic activist, and diplomat, 1706 - 1790

In this issue of Montebello E-News, there is an announcement by NetAid,, about its Global Citizen Corps, “a national network of high school student leaders working to educate and mobilize their peers in efforts to end global poverty.”  Last week there was an announcement by Youth Venture,, about “Tu Voz My Venture”.  Along with the race to college, our students are offered so many opportunities for extracurricular activities.  We are not short on variety;  however, we are short on time. 

So let us ask the question:  given that time is scarce, how best should our students use it?  With regard to curriculum, we have touched upon this question in “Do We Dare Tread upon Taboo Territory?” in the February 22, 2007, E-News.  Now we look at extracurricular activities. 

Sports, band, school clubs.  Then there are organizations which make offers from the outside.  There are family businesses.  And then there are the tactlessly tacked flyers by businesses looking for cheap labor.  How does a student use her or his scarce time? 

Let us look at a list of criteria for an extracurricular activity.  I have assigned points to each criterion.  How many points would you assign each of these criteria according to the usefulness to a student in his or her adult life and to the community in which he will live as an adult? 

·        earn college money by operating a social venture, three points;

·        teach others, including family, to help themselves, three points;

·        meet people and learn of and from their experiences, three points;

·        learn to think outside the box, three points;

·        learn a skill useful in adult life, two points;

·        exercise the body, two points;

·        exercise the mind, two points;

·        better prepare for college, one point;

·        build one’s résumé for college, one point. 

Now, we would look at activities:  band, sports, academic decathlon, school clubs, NetAid, Youth Venture, and so on.  Using the criteria, we would add up the points for each activity.  The more points for an activity, the better use of a student’s scarce time if she chose that activity. 

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to with “Lesson answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization. 

1.  How can we tell that a student’s time is scarce?

(a) He or she is late to events or meetings.

(b) She has to pass up an excellent activity.

(c) His grades are not as high as they used to be. 

2. What is a good way to decide among extracurricular activities?

(a) find out what a student’s good friends are doing.

(b) create criteria, assign each criterion points, and then see which criteria apply to different activities. 



Walks outside the Box, Part 2

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish literary critic, playwright and essayist,
1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950 

“Walks outside the Box” is about finding solutions when others shrug their shoulder, despair or offer palliatives.  In part 1, we looked at the constraints upon our decision-making which affected the solutions which we conceived.  We asked what better solution might we conceive to prevent mass killings if we took a walk outside the box, that is, if we thought without encumbrance by those constraints. 

          It was both interesting and sickening to hear all that went wrong and led to the killings at Virginia Tech.  Yet, the facts were not surprising, as we had explored in past essays circumstances in our lives which led to bad decisions.  What stuck in my mind was the reference to university students as “kids”, this contrasted with the right of these “kids” to have their personal information kept private, even from their parents.  (We should take note of research which asserts that the part of the brain which reasons matures in females at about age twenty-four, in males about age twenty-nine.)  Also, I recall watching an interview with a student who was a member of the Virginia Tech Gun Club;  the student said that, if he had been permitted to carry a gun, he would have intervened.  Finally, there was a statement that, had Federal law been enforced, the killer would not have been able to purchase a gun.  (I see a parallel to the incident preceding the World Trade episode, when an FBI agent’s report about terrorists was not forwarded by somebody in the chain of command:  somebody’s commission or omission had a lethal consequence.) 

          As for a solution to prevent mass killings, what might be done?  I find it disheartening that I have not heard a discussion about priorities and values, as was mentioned in part 1 of this essay.  Because of that, we conceive only limited solutions. For example, California Lieutenant John Garamendi said last week that cellular-telephone companies could enable campus police to alert students, even when cell phones were turned off.  That certainly would be worth discussing, but, as with the failure to enforce Federal law, students would be dependent on others to make decisions about their, the students’, lives.  Even with good intentions, others would make mistakes.  Yes, security should be improved in such a way, but it would be a flagrant mistake for students to depend on that security.  The most important and incontrovertible lesson from the Virginia Tech killings was that the students should look to themselves for protection. 

          What could students do?  Carrying guns on a campus would be repugnant and frightening to most people.  Perhaps making classroom doors more secure, just as is being done with cockpit doors?  But that would not help if the killer were already in the classroom.  And even if the killer were kept in the hallway, there is no assurance that he would not shoot through the wall or break the door with a barrage of bullets.  Let us walk outside the box and consider:  what could students do to incapacitate a killer without increasing danger to themselves?  (Notice that I did not say “creating danger”, as the students would already be in danger.)  A baseball to the head could incapacitate a killer;  yes, each student could carry a baseball in her backpack, but randomly throwing baseballs at a killer from a short distance could be effective only if coordinated and only if the “pitchers” had strength and good aim.   

          This leads us to consider other tools which could be used to incapacitate.  Yes, the killer might be killed, but in such a situation there should be no hesitation by students to act quickly.  If the killer died, that would be an unavoidable consequence of the killer’s action.  What could several, if not all, students in a classroom have with them which could stun, choke, numb or blind a killer?  A modified paintball gun?  A modified police bean-bag gun?  A miniature shotput? 

          I am not offering a solution here, but I hope to stimulate a conversation which would lead to a more effective solution than what is now being publicly discussed.  (By the way, no assertion is made than any solution would be one hundred percent effective.)  Importantly, in walking outside the box, we must be willing to unshackle ourselves from the constraints which confound our attempts at effective solutions.



 FOR EVERYONE.  “Salsa Dancing with Natividad”, Saturday, May 5, 2007, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., Montebello Regional Library, 1550 West Beverly Boulevard, (323) 722 – 6551. 

FOR YOUTH AND THEIR TEACHERS.   “We are excited to announce that the application for the 2007-2008 NetAid Global Citizen Corps is now open through May 15, 2007.  The Global Citizen Corps is a national network of high school student leaders working to educate and mobilize their peers in efforts to end global poverty. Throughout the year, Global Citizen Corps Leaders form a virtual community through an exciting Online Action Center.”   Students may apply at  For more information on the NetAid Global Citizen Corps visit the website  “Thank you for helping empower a new generation of globally-minded youth.”  Natalie Wooller, Coordinator for Youth Outreach and Engagement, and the NetAid Team 

FOR BUSINESSPEOPLE AND YOUTH.  “Best Buy Announces Consumer Electronics Recycling Grant Program”, RFP Bulletin, Foundation Center, April 21, 2007.  Deadline: rolling.  Best Buy Co.,, has unveiled a consumer electronics recycling grant program to help increase recycling opportunities available in communities across the United States.  The program will provide two streams of grants: the first will provide support for events hosted by 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations; the second will support events hosted by other organizations in cities and townships across the country (e.g., cities, counties, public-private partnerships).  Grant applications are available online at the Best Buy Web site.  

FOR MOTORISTS.  “There is good news to report about construction progress in the past year on the new six-lane bridge spanning the Rio Hondo Channel at Beverly Boulevard.  Construction of the southern portion of the bridge—two lanes and a sidewalk—is complete and open to traffic. …The project is on schedule and should be completed at the end of October, 2007. …  For further information, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works at 626.458.3900.”  Excerpted from a letter from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, March 27, 2007. 

FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS, COMMUNITY LEADERS, AND CIVIL SERVANTS.  “While almost all Americans believe it is important to encourage youth to volunteer their time, fewer than half give any hours themselves, with many citing a lack of time, a new study says.  And of those who responded to the survey, sponsored by McDonald's, slightly more than half say they would rather spend their discretionary time reading, watching TV or visiting in-laws than volunteering their time.  Currently, 45 percent of Americans volunteer, the study says, with more than four in 10 of those who give their time saying they are driven by a personal connection to a nonprofit, and slightly fewer citing involvement in their communities. …”  “View of Volunteering Doesn’t Match Action”, Philanthropy Journal, April 23, 2007



Fun Fact

Don't panic!  Our sun has enough energy to burn yet another five billion years.


The Flashback Quarterback on Democratizing Democracy


In the community lesson “Can Nature Learn from Art?”, the “axiom” was stated, namely, the more far-reaching a decision, the more people who should be involved in reaching the decision.  We are not the only ones who think that way:


“Campaign for Elected UN Assembly Lunched”

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor, The Independent, April 23, 2007


Some 541 politicians, academics and business leaders from Europe and around the world have signed an appeal for the creation of a UN parliamentary assembly to overcome the "democratic deficit" in global affairs and give citizens a bigger voice.


One of the main objectives of the campaigners - including Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop; Arthur C Clarke, author of 2001: Space Odyssey, four Nobel Prize winners and 377 MPs from 70 countries - is to provide a global citizens' platform to bring about change on issues such as global warming. The campaign, which is launched today and has a secretariat based in Germany, will be rolled out across the world in the next three weeks. …


And we have suggested, in the essay “Is Everyone ‘LOCO’?”, that communities have more autonomy:


[A British commission identified in its country] a ‘democratic malaise’ which is not just manifested in the recent downturn in general elections. Apart from a decline in party membership the Commission found that there was a ‘well-ingrained popular view across the country that our political institutions and their politicians are failing, untrustworthy, and disconnected from the great mass of the British people.’…

6. There should be an unambiguous process of decentralisation of powers from central to local government. …

8. Local government should have enhanced powers to raise taxes and administer its own finances. …  From “Power to the People”, February 27, 2006


About Montebello E-News and “My Montebello”

To learn about this newsletter, Montebello E-News, and the accompanying, growing Web site, “My Montebello”, visit  Also, you will find instructions and contact information for submitting announcements for publication in this newsletter.


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   HOME  | "E-News" | Life's Problems  | "Montebello Oil" | Open Suggestion | Public Documents | Setting an Example | Young Thinkers | Project Instructions
                        Issues           and Solutions             Activities                    Box