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Sunday, Nov 11 2012 11:00 PM

HITS & MISSES: Our nation still sees things in black and white

By The Bakersfield Californian

MISS: Electing (and now re-electing) the nation's first black president unfortunately hasn't helped scale back racism in the country. A recent Associated Press poll found the proportion of Americans expressing some anti-black attitudes rose to 56 percent this year from 49 percent in 2008. A number of examples surfaced in the news following last week's elections. Students at the University of Mississippi protesting Obama's re-election yelled out racial slurs; a study found hate speech on Twitter mostly originated from the South. And a Turlock woman was fired from her job and reported to the Secret Service for posting a comment on Facebook about the President that used a racial slur and referred to assassination. Here's hoping the next four years instill more racial civility in America.

MISS: Celebrities behaving badly

Several celebrities upset over Obama's re-election took to Twitter last week in a shocking display of intolerance and immaturity.

Donald Trump's tweets included:

* "This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!"

* "The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy"

* "He lost the popular vote by a lot (sic) and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!" (It was later deleted.)

Meanwhile, Ted Nugent tweeted his disgust with the electorate: "Goodluk America u just voted for economic & spiritual suicide. Soulless fools."

HIT: Data geek is star of elections

Nate Silver, who correctly predicted the winner of the presidential election for the second time last week using polling data and computer algorithms, is one of the biggest winners in this year's election. Silver was derided leading up to the elections for his bold predictions of an Obama victory. At one point, detractors even questioned his sexuality. But he was vindicated on election night, when results showed he accurately predicted the winner in all 50 states. It's not often a math nerd gets this kind of celebrity attention. But then again, Silver isn't your average geek.

HIT: Beyond customer service

It's the kind of thing you only see in movies. A local Trader Joe's store clerk was presented with $5,000 by the family of a customer he'd befriended at the store over the years and who recently passed away. Bryan Kelly and the customer, Virginia, saw each other once a week at the store, where Kelly passed out samples. Over 12 years, the weekly interaction became a friendship that included brief but meaningful conversations about art, theater and opera. The two even began to exchange Christmas gifts. The heartwarming story is inspiring.

HIT: Pretty public ashtrays

Downtown Bakersfield will soon be graced with 72 artistically styled cigarette receptacles thanks to the work of Keep Bakersfield Beautiful and the Downtown Business Association. The receptacles were purchased with grants and decorated by local artists. They are free to businesses that want them but must be emptied regularly and maintained.

Cigarette butts are one of the most prevalent and visible forms of litter. Kudos to these two community groups and the local artists who took part in making them.

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