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Can a high-tech thermostat save money and energy?

By Roddy Scheer 

and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

 

 

Spending $200 or more to replace that older, still functioning thermostat with a new whiz-bang “smart” variety might seem like a waste of money, but it can be one of the best small investments a homeowner can make, given the potential for energy and cost savings down the line. The coolest of the bunch of new smart thermostats, the Nest, was created by former Apple employees who had been instrumental in designing the original iPod and iPhone years earlier. This simple looking round thermostat is reminiscent of old-school thermostats that one would manually adjust by turning the temperature dial. But the auto-awake feature that turns on the bright blue digital display when someone walks nearby gives the Nest away as an ultra-modern piece of high-tech gadgetry. The Nest’s software “learns” the habits in a given space by logging when inhabitants tend to be home and awake and noting when they tend to turn up or down the heat — and then sets a heating/cooling schedule accordingly. Continue Reading →

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Black History Month: now more than ever

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Marc H. Morial

Guest Commentator

 

“There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honoring our struggle and ancestors by remembering.” — Lonnie Bunch, founding director, National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

Ever since the 2009 election of Barack Obama as America’s first Black president and the 100th anniversary of the National Urban League in 2010, the perennial debate about the need for Black History Month has intensified. Some have questioned the need for a special month to recognize the many unknown and unsung achievements of African Americans. With Obama as president, the logic goes, we have now achieved Dr. King’s dream of a non-racial America where everyone is judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. I wish it were so. Continue Reading →

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In a chilly Super Bowl XLVIII, it’s Seahawks vs. Broncos

HONOLULU — The first-ever non-conference Pro Bowl number 34 in Hawaii was won by Team Rice 22-21 in the lowest scoring Pro Bowl since 2006 when defense took center stage. The game was played in a steady rain in 70-degree temperatures. Because of the rain, there were eight turnovers, six interceptions and nine sacks. Players had a tough time getting a grip on the ball. The game was a turnover fest, but it was one of the most competitive Pro Bowls in recent years. Continue Reading →

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Former professional takes “a massive leap of faith” into music career

 

 

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

A Michael Jackson cover makes the United Kingdom top ten hits charts.  A music video of the song was aired on a cable music channel.  The song helped the artist that did the cover earn Grammy best artist consideration. Kenya McGuire Johnson left her career several years ago as an educator, clinical instructor and higher education administrator and took “a massive leap of faith.”  Now Kenya, the jazz/R&B singer — who uses only her first name professionally — is now working on her third CD. The young musician recently spoke with the MSR by phone from her Chicago home. “I did a lot of music growing up” in Denver, Colorado, including being active in choirs, and jazz bands, recalls Kenya, who has been singing since the age of eight. While in college, she was a member of the Howard University Gospel Choir. Continue Reading →

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A conversation with veteran actress Yolanda Ross

 

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

Third in a multi-part series

 

Yolanda Ross made her lead screen debut in Stranger Inside, a 2001 HBO feature film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She made her stage debut seven years later as a member of New York’s Labyrinth Theater Company. Since then, the actress have appeared in a dozen films, and her television roles that has reached double figures as well, including five episodes of HBO’s Treme. She also had a couple of roles specifically written for her, such as a part in David Mamet’s The Unit. “I was shocked, thrilled, and thankful — I was really amazed,” said Ross in a recent MSR phone interview. Continue Reading →

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Nets’ Anderson hoping for a turnaround

 

 

 

While local media types flew to a former Minnesota Timberwolves player in town, asking him once again what it’s like to play against his former team, this reporter opted instead to hang around a native Minneapolis player’s locker. Alan Anderson played his prep ball here, his college ball at Michigan State, and now is in his fifth NBA season with New Jersey. “I’m blessed,” admitted the 6’-6” guard/forward after his 11-point effort in a bad loss to the host Wolves. Anderson signed as a free agent with the Nets in July after one year in Toronto. He logged his “basketball years” in China, Russia, Croatia, Israel and Spain as well as in the NBA Development League. Continue Reading →

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Web series addresses stereotypes about African Americans

 

 

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

Angela Tucker two years ago pitched her series idea on challenging racial stereotypes of Blacks. The third season of Black Folk Don’t premiered December 2 on BlackPublicMedia.org, the National Black Programming Coalition (NBPC) website. “Season three is going to spark conversations in homes and offices around the country as well as online,” predicts Black Public Media Digital Media Director Nonso Christian Ugbode. “People take sides and even question the audacity of the assertions that are raised in the show.”

A writer, director and producer, Tucker wrote on her blog a couple of years ago that she prefer “[regular Black] people that had original points of views and were articulate” rather using “being Black” experts. “At first, we were going to reach out to people via social networks… Continue Reading →

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Free Angela provides a brilliant, invaluable look into America’s history

 

Movie Review

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

It is sad to see how complacent we Black people have grown since the 1960s. The bourgeoisie blithely transitioned from a populace who once vowed “We Will Overcome” to a generation whose abiding principle now is “I have overcome.” You’d scarcely believe there was a time when Black America was determined to revolt against entrenched, institutionalized racism by, as Malcolm X said, any means necessary. This country’s rulers realized back then that the bill had come due. Too many African Americans were longer shuffling along, head bowed, yassuhing and no ma’aming. Too many had their shoulders squared, braced to put their feet in the nation’s behind. Continue Reading →

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Entrepreneur creates dentures with special appeal to people of color

Entrepreneur creates dentures with special appeal to people of color
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

In this week’s segment of our multi-part series on Black business, we take a look at a profession that is on the decline among African Americans. According to the American Dental Association diversity data, the number of Black dentists has been declining since the mid-1990s. As a result, both locally and nationally dental technician Randy Jackson is among a rare breed these days. Before the 1960s, dentists did all the work. During that time technician training in dental colleges and vocational schools was created, says Jackson, who attended vocational school for dental technicians after he served in Vietnam in 1975. Continue Reading →

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An interview with jazz veteran Billy Cobham

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

According to www.whosampled.com, Billy Cobham’s music has been sampled over 40 times, including two signature songs “Red Baron” (sampled eight times) and “Heather” (sampled 15 times) first released during the 1970s. A founding member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1971, Cobham co-founded his own fusion group in 1969, and then was invited to play on four cuts on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew. At age 69, he’s still as strong as ever: Cobham’s current Spectrum 40 tour swings through Minneapolis on October 1 for a one-night stop at the downtown Dakota Jazz Club. “It will be a real pleasure to perform there,” he said during a recent phone interview with the MSR.

On his website, www.billycobham.com, it says that the Panama native, who grew up in New York, got his “first paying gig” when he was only eight years old, then later joined a local drum and bugle corps and attended New York’s famed High School of Music and Art — where he studied music theory and drum technique. “I started on the road in [19]63,” recalls Cobham, who later played in the U.S. Army Band as a percussionist during his three years of military service in the mid-1960s. Continue Reading →

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