Brightline, FECR at risk for missing safety deadline, Federal Railroad Administration says

Brightline, FECR at risk for missing safety deadline, Federal Railroad Administration says

LISA BROADT/TCPALM WochitBrightline and Florida East Coast Railway are "at risk" for not meeting deadlines for installing important safety upgrades — known as positive train control — according to the Federal Railroad Administration.As of the last quarter of 2017 — the most recently available report — only a fraction of the systems needed for positive train control had been installed by Florida East Coast Railway, which is responsible for implementing PTC for its freight trains and for Brightline's passenger service.PTC is a set of safety improvements that helps prevent derailments caused by speeding and train-to-train collisions, according to the railroad administration.On the Florida East Coast tracks, train-to-train collisions are of particular concern because 32 Brightline passenger trains daily are to share the corridor with up to 24 Florida East Coast freight trains, which are powered by liquefied natural gas and could soon transport the highly combustible, hazardous material as well.More: LNG, Brightline to share Florida East Coast Railway, could endanger public, CARE FL saysTwo years ago, when Florida East Coast submitted a plan to the railroad administration for PTC implementation, it promised to have the safety measures in place by the time Brightline began service in early 2018.But in an April 24 letter to FEC, the Federal Railroad Administration expressed doubts that Florida East Coast will have PTC in place by the end of this year, the federal deadline."The purpose of this letter is to express FRA's concerns regarding Florida East Coast Railway's progress towards fully implementing a PTC system, with fewer than nine months remaining until the statutory deadline, and to stress the urgency of timely compliance with this critical rail-safety mandate," Ronald Batory, FRA administrator, wrote to Nate Asplund, Florida East Coast Railway president."FRA considers safety, and the expeditious implementation of PTC technology, to be of paramount importance," Batory said in the letter.A spokesman for Florida East Coast Railway could not be reached for comment.In an email late last year, a Brightline spokeswoman said PTC "will be in place between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2018, and will be operational along the entire 235-mile route when the extension to Orlando opens." More: Brightline's private-activity bonds in peril, but Phase 2 construction nearingFlorida East Coast at the end of 2017 reported that none of 69 trains had received PTC upgrades, no PTC track improvements had been completed and only 24 of 347 employees had received PTC training, according to its 2017 fourth-quarter report.Forty-one railroads, including Florida East Coast, must implement PTC by Dec. Fifteen of the 41 railroads have met that criteria; Florida East Coast is 64 percent of the way there, putting it in the bottom third, according to federal records.Hardware installation is only one initial phase in implementing PTC, according to the railroad administration.More: Grupo Mexico to buy Florida East Coast Railway for $2.1 billionBrightline began limited service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale on Jan.

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WATCH: Chad Morris explains how his Arkansas offense plans to execute the run-pass-option

WATCH: Chad Morris explains how his Arkansas offense plans to execute the run-pass-option

Based on his successful track record of offensive coaching, it will be a sight to behold for fans eager to see points put up on the board.During a recent ESPN video segment, Morris caught up with college football analyst Tom Luginbill to help explain his offense to Arkansas fans. Luginbill asked the Razorback coach to explain his version of the RPO, or run-pass-option offense.Before getting to that point on the field, however, Morris explained that his quarterbacks must first be able to identify defensive coverages to see where the advantages exist for the offense. If the defensive backs are playing conservatively and are backed off, his quarterback and receivers must be on the same page to read it and react in real time.“The first thing (the QB) does is identifying the front,” Morris explains in the video. “He sees it’s an under front, he checks his yes/no (the coverage of the cornerbacks). So he’s going no. I check it, I peek it now my eyes go to my (front seven defensive) box play.”If the defensive backs are playing up tight against the Razorback receivers, the Arkansas quarterbacks will know to take advantage of the numbers up front and check to a run.

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Genome writing project aims to rally scientists around virus-proofing cells

Genome writing project aims to rally scientists around virus-proofing cells

More broadly, the project might help researchers move beyond editing tools such as CRISPR, which typically tweak DNA at a few specific locations, and toward more widespread redesign of genomes, says Farren Isaacs, a bioengineer at Yale University and a member of the GP-write scientific executive board that selected the project. He envisions future efforts to “rewrite genomes … to impart entirely new function into [an] organism,” such as the ability to thrive only in the tightly controlled environment of a biocontainment lab. Virus-proofing the genetic code Making cells impervious to viruses will require “recoding”—changing the three-letter DNA sequences, known as codons, that encode the amino acid building blocks of proteins. And by eliminating certain codons altogether, researchers can safely get rid of some of the cellular machinery used to translate those codons into proteins—machinery that viruses also depend on to decode their own genes when they hijack the cell and try to replicate. But to swap out codons that are densely packed into a certain part of the genome—or, further in the future, to insert entirely new sets of genes—researchers will have to design and ferry in larger stretches of lab-synthesized DNA. And both labs are now working on removing additional E. coli codons. “It worked in E. coli, and I would expect it to work in human cells also,” Waldminghaus says of the recoding idea. “It’s not amazingly new scientific insight … but I still think it’s worthwhile.” Practical questions remain It’s not yet clear how this community-wide project would be executed. Boeke, who would like to prioritize the human and mouse genomes for recoding, expects to gather feedback and gauge the interest of potential collaborators at today’s meeting. If the new project is modeled on the ongoing yeast genome project, known as Sc2.0, groups that opt in would come up with funding for their share and divide up the work by chromosomes. (“I think there may be a lot of competition for the smaller chromosomes,” Boeke says.) Boeke anticipates other challenges that Sc2.0 didn’t face. The yeast project has involved “a relatively small team that worked really well together,” he says. “I don’t necessarily anticipate it’s going to be as straightforward with this much larger, more diverse group.” GP-write counts nearly 200 scientists among its participants, some of whom have self-organized into nine “working groups” to tackle topics from technology and infrastructure development to the ethical, legal, and social implications of the project. Intellectual property considerations might also complicate the project. “There’s just generally a lot of IP [intellectual property] around synthetic biology and synthetic genomics,” Boeke says, “and the payoff in humans might be much higher than in yeast.” Isaacs notes that Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge all hold patents related to recoding. Ahead of a meeting today in Boston, GP-write’s leadership announced a plan to organize its international group of collaborators around a “community-wide project”: engineering cells to resist viral infection. GP-write’s original proposal to design and assemble an entire human genome from scratch seems to have receded from view since the project’s rocky launch, when a private meeting of its founders sparked accusations of secrecy and speculations about labmade humans. A proposal published weeks later in Science described GP-write as a decadelong effort to reduce by more than 1000-fold the cost of engineering and testing large genomes consisting of hundreds of millions of DNA letters. The narrower project announced today—redesigning the genomes of cells from humans and other species to make them “ultrasafe”—represents “a theme that could run through all of GP-write,” says geneticist Jef Boeke of New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, who leads the project along with Harvard University geneticist George Church, lawyer Nancy Kelley of Nancy J Kelley + Associates in New York City, and biotechnology catalyst Andrew Hessel of the San Francisco, California–based software company Autodesk Research. For now, GP-write and the nonprofit Center of Excellence for Engineering Biology set up to manage it aren’t offering researchers any funding to make the new project happen. (“We’re organizing ourselves to be able to tell a story for a foundation or philanthropic investor or governmental funder,” Kelley says.) But if the goal of ultrasafe cells leads to a more formal collaboration among synthetic biology labs worldwide—like the nearly completed synthetic yeast genome project that Boeke leads—it could have practical payoffs.

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UT-Knoxville Faculty Senate votes to censure actions by DiPietro, UT system leadership

UT-Knoxville Faculty Senate votes to censure actions by DiPietro, UT system leadership

Monday afternoon the faculty senate at the University of Tennessee Knoxville overwhelmingly voted to censure actions by University of Tennessee System President Joe DiPietro.The vote came days after DiPietro stripped Beverly Davenport of her chancellor position.The resolution lists several instances where DiPietro's actions have "undermined the stability, reputation and mission of UTK." After over and hour of discussion, the resolution pass 72-17 with one abstention.A second resolution to show no confidence in DiPietro failed.RELATED | DiPietro discusses "unpleasant decision" to demote UTK chancellor Beverly Davenport"Any vote from a faculty senate, even no confident of censure is essentially symbolic," faculty senate president-elect Misty Anderson said. "It has no binding legal teeth. A motion to postpone the vote failed.Senators in support of the resolution say it comes after a series of events and decisions that they believe are not in the best interest of the university's future.

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Baking soda might stave off inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases, research finds

Baking soda might stave off inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases, research finds

Though baking soda is often solely thought of as an important ingredient for making the perfect banana loaf, it has recently become a buzzy wellness and beauty ingredient akin to the multitasking turmeric. The report, published in The Journal of Immunology, found that when a sample of healthy medical students and rats ingested a mixture of baking soda and water, the substance alerted the stomach to make more acid for digestion and prevented the organ from misinterpreting food as a harmful intruder, thereby thwarting the signal that would mount an immune response, AKA inflammation. Drinking baking soda with water lessened inflammation and inflammatory responses in the kidneys, the spleen, and the peripheral blood, the study found. The authors of the study explain in an press release that the lessening of inflammation and inflammatory responses happened throughout the body. “We saw it in the kidneys, we saw it in the spleen, now we see it in the peripheral blood,” says study co-author and renal physiologist Paul O’Connor, PhD. One important caveat to the study is that the human subjects were healthy rather than diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, even though the purpose of the study was to discover whether baking soda might help in the latter situation.

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KC mayor responds to letter from top donor calling for plan to reduce city’s crime

KC mayor responds to letter from top donor calling for plan to reduce city’s crime

“I’m frustrated that political constipation at the state and federal levels have resulted in gun laws that may work just fine in rural Missouri, but facilitate senseless deaths on the streets of Kansas City, just like the brazen murder of Johnathon Porter Tuesday,” James wrote. “Perhaps you would like to join me at our next KC No Violence Alliance (NoVA) Call-In,” James said in the letter. “We’ll be scheduling the next one shortly, and I will send you the details.

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Michigan legislators vote despite conflicts of interest

Michigan legislators vote despite conflicts of interest

Darwin Booher of Evart initially abstained from voting on a 2015 bill that proposed a $12,000 raise for circuit court judges, writing that it “could be perceived as providing a benefit to an individual to whom I am personally related” — his daughter, 49th Circuit Judge Kimberly Booher.But a year later, the senator did vote on the raises when a House version came back to the Senate. In the case of state legislators, who frequently hold down other jobs when not in session, the forms typically require the annual filings to include a lawmaker’s employers, occupation or job title and additional income or business associations.In Michigan, though, the only official window the public has into conflicts of interest is when legislators raise their hands to disclose them.From 2009 through 2017, the Michigan House voted on more than 10,000 bills, according to legislative journals that record formal actions and roll call votes. Ananich, a former teacher and now the Senate minority leader, wrote in a statement that he abstained from voting on the bill out of an abundance of caution.He later consulted with the caucus legal counsel who advised him this was not a conflict of interest, Ananich said.“At the time, there were 80,000 teachers in Michigan, including thousands in my district, who needed their representative to speak up for them on this issue,” Ananich said. “I have long supported increasing transparency in the Michigan Legislature. I have signed on to personal financial disclosure legislation and have offered up my own finances to the press in the past.”Three other House members at the time also abstained from voting on the same bill the first time around and later voted, legislative journals show. Two of those senators voted anyway, according to the center’s analysis of legislative journals, though neither has faced disciplinary action.Booher, who ultimately voted on his daughter’s raise, did not return calls for comment, nor did his daughter.The other senator, Republican Mike Nofs of Battle Creek, accounted for five of the seven self-disclosures the Center for Public Integrity identified in the Senate. He voted on a 2011 bill he said could directly affect his retirement.But, Nofs said, the multiple times he voted on it were procedural votes that affected when the prospective law would take effect, not whether it would pass. “It has nothing to do with voting on the substance of the bill,” he told the center.The Michigan Constitution requires two-thirds of the members of each chamber to approve a bill for it to go into effect immediately after the governor signs it. If the vote fails to win that much support, the bill goes into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session.Over on the House side, Democratic Rep. In 2017, his first year in office, the attorney and business owner from Grand Rapids abstained from voting on all four conflicts of interest that he disclosed.But he said if legislators don’t choose to come forward, there is no way for the public to know if any of the 110 members in the House or the 38 state senators in Michigan are voting on laws that would benefit them.“I am voting on how the government spends its money and that gives me a massive opportunity for self enrichment all the time,” LaGrand said.Conflicted interestsNot all Michigan legislators disclose their conflicts when they should. In December, the Center for Public Integrity and The Associated Press published “Conflicted Interests,” an investigation that analyzed the disclosure reports from 6,933 lawmakers nationwide and found numerous examples of state lawmakers around the country who have introduced and supported legislation that directly and indirectly helped their own businesses, their employers or their personal finances.In nearly every state, legislators can abstain or ask to be recused from voting on legislation if they have a conflict — and many states require them to step aside for votes, if not discussion, on the bills. Steve Bieda introduced a bill in January 2017 that would require elected officials to file yearly financial disclosures but the bill has not gained much traction.LaGrand, who supports the concept of adding a disclosure requirement, explained that lawmakers often rely on staffers to identify conflicts and flag them for their bosses because of the sheer volume of bills. But if Michigan required lawmakers to file financial disclosures every year, these conflicts of interests would be more obvious.“The more we can shed light on this, and the more we can get money out of politics, the better our democracy is going to be,” LaGrand said.“If I don’t want to be honest about my finances, I shouldn’t run for office.”The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative media organization in Washington, D.C. And not a single senator has been reprimanded under the rule in at least a decade, according to the Senate majority leader’s spokeswoman Amber McCann.The House gives representatives the option of using a conflict as a reason to abstain yet does not prevent the officials from voting.But a new state bill introduced this session would make voting on such conflicts of interest a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and as much as four years in prison, which would make Michigan stricter than some states.“Legislators should be held to the highest standard, and be fully transparent about financial matters and their motivations,” wrote Democratic Rep. Scott Dianda of Calumet after introducing the measure in March. “Michiganders want to know that the legislators they send to be their voice at the state Capitol are not using their position to enrich themselves or their family members.”But Dianda’s bill — and another measure that seeks more disclosures of legislators’ personal financial ties — may not win enough support to pass. Other officials and watchdogs in Michigan say the measure falls short in fixing the transparency and accountability issues contaminating the Great Lake State’s Legislature.“Right now it’s on the lawmakers to police themselves,” said Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, an independent organization that chronicles the role of money in state politics.“Currently we have no idea what sources of outside income lawmakers have or what major investments they have or what organization they may be affiliated with outside of their legislative duties,” he added.Honor systemMichigan scored an F in the Center for Public Integrity’s 2015 State Integrity Investigation, done in partnership with Global Integrity, and ranked worst in the country in the comprehensive assessment of state government accountability and transparency.Part of the reason Michigan fared so poorly: It is one of two states that doesn’t require lawmakers to file financial disclosures that detail the ties that could lead to conflicts of interest.(In Idaho, the other state lacking disclosures, lawmakers shot down legislation in January to require them.)Such reports are commonly required for elected officials from U.S.

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Top 7 Ways to Become a Better Digital Marketer

Top 7 Ways to Become a Better Digital Marketer

With the digital marketing industry exploding and competition as fierce as ever, it’s important to be on top of your game.Whether you’re just starting your career or looking to improve your skillset several years in, here are the top seven ways to become a better digital marketing expert:1. Take Online CoursesYou work online, so why not learn online as well?There are countless resources out there, most of them completely free, where you can learn new skills, discover advanced techniques, and broaden your digital marketing horizons.Not only will these courses and certifications help with the resume, they’ll also help you better accomplish tasks in your daily work life.A great starting point is Google Academy for Ads, where you can get training on everything from Google AdWords and Analytics to the principles of mobile site design and digital sales.I started this training back when it was the Google Engage Program, and the resources have only grown from there.To learn more about SEO, take courses with the SEMrush Academy, or dip your toes into inbound marketing with HubSpot Academy – both free options.Ready to learn code? Be a Content CreatorThere is no better way to improve your digital marketing skills than to create.Writing and talking about digital marketing will help you refine your own concepts and values, and you’re sure to do research that will expose you to new ideas as well.Maintain a personal blog or write articles for your company, if the opportunity is available.Host or guest on a digital marketing podcast.Do video, whether it’s something as simple as Facebook Live when you have something to say.Post on social media and engage with others.Host or participate in a webinar.You don’t need to re-invent the wheel, just stay active and keep your mind open.Also look for the opportunity to repurpose, expand, or condense content.  If you write an in-depth guide, use the same concepts in an infographic or talk about them in your next vlog.5. This made a huge difference for the charity, as they had few resources and no expertise in the fields of paid advertising digital marketing.At the same time, it exposed me to another side of paid advertising and gave me the know-how to be able to recommend this amazing program to clients. I can’t count the number of times I have helped a person or business with a small favor, only to land a big client due to the connection down the road.6. As your role or company grows, there tends to be less available time for experiments and fun projects.One of my most successful experiments was when I did a live SEO case study and maintained a public journal throughout the process.One day when I was browsing on Flippa I noticed the site FreeSEOReport.com had sold for over $100,000. Sites like Codecademy have good free courses, with paid portions for more in-depth training.There are always paid sites (e.g., Udemy, Lynda) with hundreds of courses where you can learn everything from graphic design to project management.The best digital marketers are sponges, absorbing any and all training available.Whether it relates directly to your job or is tangential, don’t turn away an opportunity to learn.2. The live case study ended up being a pivotal moment in my career as it gave me exposure internationally within the digital marketing community.The thing I’ve always disliked about SEO is many experts try to claim it’s some “secret” or “magic” offering.  I strongly believe in process and transparency.Anyone who is patient and follows a (very long) series of steps can get results.The live case study reinforced these values by showing the exact steps needed and the results generated without any fluff.This was an experiment that I conducted for myself and I learned a lot from the process of live journaling, built relationships with followers, and used the experience and knowledge I gained to further my career and grow my business.There are many ways you can experiment, whether it’s simple A/B testing of copy, to launching a fun site where you can experiment to your heart’s content because there is nothing on the line.The real thrill is that the principles you learn in the gimmick experiment could be applied to your work for a multi-national client, once the hypothesis is proven.7. There are many traits that will help you gain experience in a meaningful way.As a digital marketer, you will find success if you are:Dynamic.Open-minded.Inquisitive.Relentless.Resilient.Eliminate “I can’t” from your vocabulary.Refuse to stay in the comfort zone.Embrace challenges as opportunities and be a problem-solver.Challenge yourself to learn something new every day.No matter how insignificant it may seem, when you reflect back these small accomplishments translate into meaningful skill development.ConclusionNobody enters the workforce as an expert digital marketer.Today’s industry leaders all started somewhere. They’ve risen to the top of their profession by embracing these principles and dedicating themselves to personal growth and evolution.You can embark on the same journey.Study and learn in your own time. Speak at Events/ConferencesSpeaking at events is one of the best ways to gain confidence and show your skills and experience in an interactive format.Early in my career I attended a local SEMPO conference and was approached to see if I would be interested in speaking at their next event. This was exciting but scary as it would be my first major speaking gig, never mind in front of a group of experienced marketers.In speaking at this one event, I had the opportunity to network with local marketers and learn from their experience.As a young entrepreneur, this was crucial as I was trying to soak up all the knowledge I could and learn from the successes (and mistakes) of others.It was a thrilling but intimidating experience. Your first presentation doesn’t have to be in front of a crowd of experts.Perhaps try doing a workshop with small business owners, doing a guest lecture with a small class of students, or just chat with people looking for introductory concepts in digital marketing.Looking to get your foot in the door?

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The Numbers Game: A New Book Laments the Human Infatuation With Metrics

The Numbers Game: A New Book Laments the Human Infatuation With Metrics

Revolutionary France, passionate to overthrow the old world of kings and their whims, posited a world informed by Enlightenment-style rationality. Much good may have resulted from our transformation of the world, but we have also come to a new phase of logical lunacy, argues Jerry Z. Muller, a professor of history at the Catholic University of America. His new book, “The Tyranny of Metrics,” is an impassioned essay on the unintended, and often disastrous, consequences of fealty to numbers over experience-based personal judgement. And in time, we created the idea of “scientific management” — the standard measurement of worker behaviors first championed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911. When one looks at rises in national GDP over the past several centuries, the most striking increase happens not with industrialization alone but with the rise of managed bureaucracies. This effort to make death correlate to loss of a will to fight led to an escalation of U.S. violence, along with cynical “book cooking,” like counting water buffalo and peasants among the dead of the Viet Cong. There was also the Soviet Union’s dedication to the agricultural and industrial goals of various five-year plans (including projects like a five-year plan to dominate chess), no matter what the human cost. Muller touches on McNamara, then delves into a series of newer metric misadventures: hospitals gaming admissions to juice their numbers, police mischaracterizing crimes so they’ll look good in the data, billions in misallocated foreign aid, and the 2008 global financial crisis. In nearly every case, bad data was treated as a form of truth, and manipulated by its collectors to suit a poorly conceived data-based rewards system imposed from afar. This phenomenon of assuming that “data” in any form is a type of higher truth has been around for some time. Maybe it is a result of the undeniable success of the hard sciences in the modern world; the data of the lab have cured disease and taken us to the moon, while too many people, poets, and philosophers continue to spin their wheels. We have seen the boom in mathematical logic in the philosophy market, or the rise (and stumble) of econometrics in what used to be termed the “moral philosophy” of economics. In the Notre Dame Cathedral, the statue of the Virgin Mary was replaced with a Goddess of Reason. Elsewhere, a craze for STEM education has raised the certainties of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics over the perhaps more soul-growing studies of literature or religion. We speak admiringly of people and organizations being “data driven,” and yearn for “outcomes-based” lives carried out in “transparency.” We praise the tough love of “radical truth” and “complete honesty” in our relationships. The good people of the Enlightenment, a Voltaire or a Samuel Johnson, could never dream of a society that thought artifice was unnecessary for civil conduct. His introduction describes his increasing irritation as the chair of his department at a private university, forced to supply statistical information on student performance and faculty behavior that took up lots of time, but “added no useful insights to our previous measuring instrument, namely grades.” If one were looking for an abused metric in modern American higher education, where it is statistically harder to find a C (average performance, thus supposedly most common) than an A (outstanding and rare performance), it would be hard to beat the “insight” of grades. Elsewhere, Muller depends too much on anecdotes, like a British fund manager who stopped awarding bonuses to executives in an effort against short-termism, or two British policemen who criticized the way their colleagues ranked and reported crimes. U.S. officials cynically cooked the books during the Vietnam War, counting water buffalo and peasants among the dead of the Viet Cong. Conversely, the most valuable part of the book is a 10-step checklist at the end to help people decide whether and how to use metrics. Measurement may be modern, but Muller has identified a timeless problem: the desire to impose on our chaotic reality a grid — the start of some kind of certainty — and the way the world proves this a folly. T.S. Eliot was no eminent technologist, but the poet is better than any computer guru in describing our dilemma of metrics, and the passion for false certainty: Most fatefully, several hundred local systems of measurement across France were replaced with the meter, a standard based in part on an erroneous estimation of Earth’s arc. Established in 1799 and followed by other standardized measures, a system that grew from an abstract attachment to reason truly revolutionized the world.

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Conflict Resolution: I Hope Words Work for Our Sons

Conflict Resolution: I Hope Words Work for Our Sons

Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad freeTeaching kids to solve conflicts by talking it out is great, but what happens when words don’t work? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free“I’ll get you,” she warns, as Charlie Brown tries to hide behind a tree.“I’ll get you, Charlie Brown!” she says, waving her fist as they run across an open stretch of lawn. “I’ll get you!”“I’ll knock your block off!” she threatens as they round the corner of a house. “I’ll …”Charlie Brown stops running, faces Violet, and raises his hands.“Wait a minute!” he says. “Hold everything!”Charlie Brown holds forth.“We can’t carry on like this! POW!Violet pops Charlie Brown with a swift left jab, sending him spinning head over heels and leaving him in a disoriented heap. He was beginning to make sense!”___________________When my much larger, very angry fourth-grade classmate came at me with his left fist raised in that restroom, I thought of that 1963 Peanuts strip. Like Charlie Brown, there was no escape for me. Like Charlie Brown, I probably had provoked the attack by saying the wrong thing to the wrong kid. Unlike Charlie Brown, I wasn’t going to end up lying flat on my back in a disoriented heap.Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad freeI had talked my way into this, and I was going to talk my way out of it. So what if it hadn’t worked for Charlie Brown? Carter Gaddis hopes for the best.—This kid in my class chased me across the playground with hate in his eyes. This would be different.I raised my hands and said, “Wait!”He lowered his fist.I began to hold forth.I told him there were too many problems in the world for us to be fighting at school. We, as children, had to make peace now, or …OOF!He jabbed me lightly in the stomach – right in the breadbasket. I crumpled in a disoriented heap on the cold, ceramic floor and tried to catch my breath. I wasn’t sure which was worse – the anguish of being unable to defend myself against the punch, or the frustration of knowing that my words had fallen on deaf ears.As was often the case after such childhood confrontations, I was friends with that kid again by the end of the day. He wasn’t a bad kid, and the violence – while never excusable – was not as destructive as it could have been.I remember he came up to me and quietly said: “I’m sorry I hit you. About the hostages and kids or something?”I thought he was making fun of me, so I told him it was nothing. I do know that he and I never fought again, and even became good friends until I moved across town to another school.Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free_________________Our sons are in elementary school, a few years shy of fourth grade. As sweet and kind-hearted and well-liked as they are by their classmates, they are bound to find themselves in tight situations, just as I did, just as everyone does eventually.How will they handle it? We’ve given them a set of guidelines to follow for conflict resolution, and we’ve had talks with them about how to handle a bully – and how not to become one. Yet, when the adrenaline begins to flow and the threats begin to fly, what will they do?If the circumstance doesn’t allow them to give their adversary a mysterious smile, turn around, and just walk away, I hope they talk. I hope they, unlike fourth-grade me or Charlie Brown, are able to find the words to defuse the situation. I hope they don’t end up in a disoriented heap on the ground, hurt and humiliated, wheezing and scared. I hope that with all my heart.I also hope, still, that it might be possible to curb violence with words, and that our sons will become masters of that art.What if they don’t? Most kids in my fourth-grade class were heavier than me. I compensated with a precociously well-honed sense of the absurd, an abnormally caustic wit for a 10-year-old, and decent foot speed.In other words, I was a real smartass. I don’t know if I want to even consider it. It’s part of my job as a father to know the answer, though. Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad freeThere might come a time when a confrontation is simply unavoidable. This time, with this kid, I have no memory of what triggered the anger.I remember that he chased me off the playground, into the school building, down the hall, and into the boys’ restroom. He was one of the few classmates who could match me step for step in an all-out sprint, so adrenaline and desperation compelled me to hide in a stall.It was too late. I braced myself against the porcelain sink and raised my pencil-thin arms in meager defense.Then I thought of Peanuts.___________________I thought of the Sunday strip that begins with Charlie Brown desperately running away from Violet.“It’s no use running,” she yells at the back of Charlie Brown’s huge bald head.Don’t like ads?

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