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U.S. Army/Public Domain

In our time, kids have gotten used to the idea of sharing classrooms with kids with disabilities; children in wheelchairs are not segregated from the student population like they once were. 

But there's still room for all students to understand what life is like with a disability of some kind. 

That's why the Medford School District is running an "Ability Awareness Campaign" through the end of February. 

Fourth graders will get to experience short periods without sight or without speech, or with some other disability. 

Basic Books

Take a piece of the whole and examine it, and you can understand the whole.  That's the basic principle behind reductionism. 

And economist/social scientist John H. Miller is having none of it. 

Miller chucks the idea of micro-analysis in favor of a macro view, in A Crude Look at the Whole

And he says studying systems all at once can lead to understanding some keys to life on earth, including climate change, ecosystems, and financial collapses. 

Oregon Action

College got more expensive, and real wages stayed flat over the last few decades.  Even people who flunked economics know that means students pay more for higher education, and borrow more to pay tuition. 

Oregon Action and The Alliance for a Just Society surveyed students at Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College for the report "Sentenced to Debt: The Hidden Costs of Unaffordable Education." 

The issue of how to make college affordable tops our shout-out list on this VENTSday.  If college-level education is seen as necessary to so many jobs, how do we make it affordable to more people? 

Answer our survey to get the ball rolling, and join us on VENTSday to hear the responses or put your two cents in there. 

Our OTHER topic this week: Why Iowa and New Hampshire?  Are there better states to start the process of winnowing presidential candidates?

Oxford University Press

It's not the stethoscope, it's the ears.  Doctors have a lot to listen to when a patient arrives complaining about a health matter. 

But the patient's story tops the list. 

Medical schools stress the importance of taking a patient history and keeping the story straight, a process underscored in the book Listening For What Matters


Oregon legislative sessions are meant to be short and tame affairs in even-numbered years.  These are not the sessions that set budget priorities. 

But there's pressure on the current legislative session to produce laws to help minorities and low-income people, and the threat of ballot measures if the legislature does not produce on issues like minimum wage hikes. 

Fair Shot for Oregon has a list of items--including wages--it would like the legislature to address. 


It might be okay to paint the town red, but we probably don't want to paint the planet pink. 

Not that it's truly possible, but such a thing is imagined in a children's book about climate change. 

The author imagines a world in which carbon dioxide is visible... and pink. 

Now you get the idea. 

Reader's Digest Publishing

Alzheimer's Disease or any other form of dementia is a big deal.  But it's entirely possible that small choices we make now can help us avoid dementia. 

M.D. Ken Kosik lines up the choices in his book Outsmarting Alzheimer's, in which he lays out the terms that make up the acronym SMARTS. 

By choices made in meals, entertainment, and exercise, Dr. Kosik says you truly can strengthen your defense against dementia. 

Public Domain/Wikimedia

We get waves of stories about immigration, and the stories of children arriving in the United States from Central America, unattended, was several waves ago, in 2014. 

Which gives us a chance for some perspective on how those stories were portrayed in the media. 

University of Oregon journalism doctoral candidate Ricardo Valencia examined the coverage of the child immigrants in four American newspapers, taking note of the differences in sources, some Latino and some not. 


The newer buildings at Oregon public universities tend to be LEED-certified for "green-ness," and campuses have been known to use things like compostable flatware in food services. 

Those are just a few of the efforts to address sustainability in higher education, the focus of a whole conference later this week in Eugene. 

Lane Community College President Mary Spilde is host and a speaker for the conference. 

Simon & Schuster

Many people wanted to contribute to society in the days after the 9/11 terror attacks. 

Kevin Hazzard decided to take an EMT course in saving lives.  The course wasn't enough. 

He plunged full-time into working on an ambulance, in some of the toughest parts of Atlanta. 

His book A Thousand Naked Strangers relates the frequently grim and occasionally funny parts of the job. 


Oregon's even-numbered-year legislative sessions are supposed to be short "housekeeping" sessions. 

But the list of proposed legislation just grows and grows, and now includes the Healthy Climate Bill that climate activists want to see passed. 

The bill is similar to the cap-and-trade program passed by the California Legislature in AB32 several years ago, a program voters opted to keep in a repeal vote. 

Marc Shuelper/Wikimedia

The hits just keep on coming to seals and sea lions and their relatives on the West Coast. 

The El Niño effect made feedings tough for pinnipeds, and strandings of malnourished pups kept workers busy all year at the Marine Mammal Center in the Bay Area. 

Then the massive algae bloom in the ocean, with its domoic acid, also hurt marine mammals. 

Atria Books

Once upon a time, you got a job, someone showed you to your desk, and you got to work... for YEARS. 

The days of people sticking 25 or even five years at one job appear to be behind us, largely because of economic forces. 

Award-winning journalist Farai Chideya noticed examples of the trend over and over while reporting other projects. 

So she turned her attention squarely to the world of work in her book The Episodic Career.  As the title suggests, it's about navigating the new work place(s), in which moving on to the next job happens more often. 


Oregonians who have worked in sheltered workshops will now be able to move into mainstream jobs. 

The settlement of a court case against the state under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will undo the decades-long system of separate, and unequal, job sites for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Disability Rights Oregon was a party to the lawsuit in federal court. 

The heyday of street theater ended decades ago.  But Patrick "Stoney" Burke's performances did not. 

Burke exercises his first amendment rights, sort of like a personal trainer exercises a client.  He's been relentless in his mission to question the doings of the rich and powerful, often with great humor. 

It got him arrested, more than once.  From Eugene to Berkeley to the Republican National Convention, he's stayed busy. 

Oh, the stories he could tell... and does, in Weapon: Mouth, his book. 

Basic Books

Breasts and their owners and users have been hot topics in recent years. 

Medical authorities and advocates have spent years urging women to breastfeed their babies, with a long list of benefits supporting their efforts. 

Who could turn a probing eye toward motherhood and mother's milk?  Courtney Jung, for one, in her book Lactivism

Jung is a political scientist and a mother who breastfed her children; she took note of the passionate arguments in favor of the practice.  Which, she says, can be persuasively challenged. 

Daniel Maleck Lewy/Wikimedia

Report after report on the economy and incomes shows a widening between rich and poor in the United States. 

There are always people who insist that SOME inequality is a good thing, a potential motivator for people with lower incomes to work hard enough to get higher incomes. 

One of the offerings from the Conversation Project of Oregon Humanities is a session called "How Much Inequality Is Acceptable?" 

Writer/storyteller/professor Julia Hammond from Portland is the session leader. 

Mark Buckawicki/Wikimedia

Here we go: the actual voting for presidential candidates begins Monday (Feb. 1) with the Iowa Caucuses.  If you could vote today (sorry, our primaries are May in Oregon, June in California), what would motivate you?

NPR stations across the country are taking part in a Coordinated Political Conversation. 

So in this week's VENTSday, we want to know what your concerns are, the ones you want candidates to address. 

Penguin Books

All-electric cars are getting increasingly popular, but they still have their limits.  If you wanted to drive non-stop from Medford to Portland, your all-electric car would run out of juice before you hit Portland city limits. 

So what's needed is the NEXT generation of lithium-ion battery... the battery that would hold enough power for a whole day's driving. 

Journalist and energy writer Steve LeVine witnessed the quest for that next generation, a process he shares in his book The Powerhouse.