When my kids were little, I was torn about public schooling. I believed in unschooling and other, more radical, kinds of educational models. I half-seriously considered trying to start an alternative school that would have an emergent curriculum, if not entirely self-directed and that would be project-oriented, with students doing Work — real work — that would benefit the community. I envisioned having multi-age student groups create public service announcements, running political/publicity campaigns, organizing public events, etc, as a means to explore not just reading, writing, and 'rithmatic, but social issues, communication, and analytics.
At the same time, as a good liberal, I wanted desperately to support public schools. I mostly didn't believe in the factory model of education even then. But I did believe in the idea of the public schools as a shared experience — one of the few that remains — that binds our society together. And when we moved to the neighborhood by Marks Meadow School, the only small, neighborhood school left in Amherst, I was satisfied that it was a good decision for my boys. Although, watching them over the years — and watching what has happened to education generally — was very disquieting. The vilification of the teaching profession, driven first and foremost by the testing regime and standardization of the curriculum, has devastated public education.
It was painful to read this interesting and thoughtful essay about a parent who's child decided first to opt out of standardized testing. But then decided to opt back in, out of a sense of loyalty to the school. The school feels compelled to walk a line between doing what they believe is right for the children's education and engaging in duplicitous exercises: the school
offers extra credit points for attending CST prep sessions; that the school promotes a ‘CST Spirit Week’ with games and prizes; and that claims are made in school communication that imply the children should subscribe to the belief that high API scores offer the school a competitive advantage to other public schools
The author argues passionately that he is "a strong supporter and ally of the school". But how much longer than one feel that way? Some people are just giving up. But not everyone.
Some people are digging in for a fight. Barbara Madeloni came to public education just as things were getting bad: when she started working in teacher preparation she found herself on the front lines of the battle to privatize public education. When she encouraged her students to resist, her contract was not renewed. Now she's running for president of the Mass Teachers Association. The election takes place at the MTA Annual Meeting in Boston. I'll be there.
Antaŭ kelkaj jaroj, mi strebis konvinki la estraron de Esperanto-USA ke la praktiko kaŝi sian novaĵleteron kie nur pagantoj povas legi ĝin estis malbona ideo. Por allogi novajn legantojn, oni devas montri vivantan vizaĝon al la mondo, en kiu oni povas vidi ke aferoj okazas nun. Artikoloj aperu kiam ili estas freŝaj kaj oni povas dividi kaj disvastigi ilin por allogi intereson kaj novajn legantojn. (Mi diris same pri Esperanto-revuo, ekz en la artikolo UEA devas eliri el sia morta spiralo.) Mi ne suckesis konvinki la estraron de E-USA. Mi tial interesiĝis kiam mi trovis Gazetaraj Lecionoj de Novlanĉito Matter: Pagaj muroj malfaciligas kreskon de legantaro.
Johnson diris ke La pagomuro malgrandigis la videblecon de Matter sur la reto -- kaj tiel la kapablon allogi novajn legantojn -- ĉar malmultaj retfontoj volis alligi aŭ retflui enhavon kiu restos ŝlosita malantaŭ pagomuro. Kiel li priskribis ĝin: "Montriĝas ke la aliaj retfontoj -- de grandaj ĵurnalismaj entreprenoj ĝis unuopaj spertaj blogistoj, kaj ĉiuj en la mezo -- tre malmulte volas priverki, retflui, aŭ eĉ ligi al pagomurita enhavo." [...] la pagomuro malkapabiligis ke Matter estu parto de la konversacio -- kaj faris ke ĝi restis "for de la ritmo de la reto".
Mi notas flanke ke por lanĉi Matter oni sukcesis allogi $140,000 de donacoj. Oni ja pretas subteni novajn entreprenojn kiuj proponas trafan vizion de kien iras la estonteco. Domaĝe ke, ĝis nun, ni ne vidas tion por Esperantujo.
I've never really cared about parades one way or the other. There are a lot of aspects of US culture that I don't get. Topping the list are probably parades, spectator sports, racing, and lager. In Amherst, the Fourth of July parade has been a source of intense controversy between those who see it as a community celebration and those who see it as jingoistic militarism. My main goal with respect to parades, like the Holyoke St. Patrick's day parade, is simply to track them closely enough to remember to not try to drive anywhere within 30 miles of them.
This year, the UMass Marching Band is participating in the Macy's Day Parade, so the twitter stream of @UMassAmherst and @KSubbaswamy are full of references to the parade. So I'm reflecting on the parade more than usual. I like the marching band, although I rarely see them (since I don't pay any attention to the spectator sporting events where they typically perform).
All this is preface to the fact that I noticed when a news report talked about how the famous Macy's Day Parade balloons might be grounded due to the weather. The report mentioned how in the past crosswinds had driven balloons into light poles, killing and maiming parade spectators. (There's another good reason to stay far away from the parade. Along with the reminder of the Republican sell-off of the strategic helium reserve.)
What really struck me, however, was that all of the balloons were representations of corporate properties: Toothless, SpongeBob, Hello Kitty, etc. Now, I suppose there's nowhere you should be less surprised to see crass commercialism than a parade sponsored-by/named-after a department store. But there's still something creepy about how American culture is dominated by icons that are trademarked proprietary images of corporations. I propose that only public domain characters should be allowed in parade floats, from now on.
And with that, I'll put on my asbestos suit and enjoy the rest of my Thanksgiving -- giving thanks that I'm not standing on a street corner somewhere watching giant inflatable corporate trademarks floating over my head or knocking streetlights over on me. Or that I'm not even trying to drive anywhere.
Mi ricevis hodiaŭ mian ekzempleron de Beletra Almanako N-ro 18. Oni elektis mian hajbunon Spuroj sub Franc-Reĝa Ponto kaj mi ĝojis vidi ĝin presite.
Mi komencis foliumi la aliajn artikolojn kaj notis artikolon de Kalle Kniivila. Mi komencis legi, sed tuj notis tajperaron. Mi sendis epoŝton al Istvan Ertl:
Mi volis averti ke mi trovis tajperaron en la unua piednoto de la artikolo de Kalle (sur paĝo 89): ŝajne estu "Aperos", ĉu ne?
Istvan tuj respondis por kontraŭi:
Fakte, ne - la teksto efektive *aperis* unue ĉe
kniivila.net/2013/songoj-pri-pli-bona-epoko, la 7an de marto 20013
Pardonu, sed la jaro 20013 ankoraŭ ne okazis, do devas esti "Aperos".
I used Twitter for several years, preferring it to Facebook because Twitter was different. But recently Twitter decided to start inserting image previews into the timeline. You can turn off this "feature" in cell-phone clients, but not in the web-browser. For me, this makes using Twitter in the browser to be not worth doing.
When Twitter first began, they promoted their service as an open API and a bunch of people rushed in to collaborate. There were several good clients and a bunch of affiliated services. (I particularly liked the Mac client "Nambu".) But then Twitter began to pull back. They gradually placed such onerous restrictions that all of the good clients, including Nambu, were killed off.
For me the value proposition of Twitter was high enough that even when my preferred client died, I transitioned to the web-based client to keep using it. I also used the client application on my iPhone and Android device. But I spend most of my computing time at a computer -- not using a phone. That means, I now end up checking Twitter only once or twice a day.
When I only check Twitter once or twice a day, it loses a lot of the immediacy it had for me. I don't know how often I checked twitter before, but I suspect it was closer to every hour or two. When you do that, there are a manageable number of tweets to check. When you only check in the morning and evening, there are way too many to read at one sitting.
Unfortunately, without Twitter, I'm now left without any social media outlet I find tolerable. Neither Facebook nor Google Plus are any better. It's a dilemma. But not a very serious one, I'll grant you.
I occasionally order pizzas from Dominos. Mainly, I'm lazy and the online ordering stuff at Dominos works better than anyone else around here. I feel guilty, but there you go.
In any case, when you order a pizza from Dominos, there's a little animation that comes up afterwards in a "pizza tracker" that supposedly shows a progress bar of your pizza from order to delivery. The steps are "Order Placed", "Prep", "Baking", "Quality Check", and "Delivery". Normally, the order moves almost instantly from "Order Placed" to "Prep".
Along with the progress bar, there is a little animated character "Pete the Pizzamaker" who goes through various motions while he makes your pizza, adds the topings, puts it in the oven, gets it out, and checks it. Normally, he's busy all the time.
But today, the store must be really busy. Or maybe Noscript is interfering with him. The bar hasn't moved off "Order Placed". One assumes that they're really busy working on other people's pizzas. But not Pete. Pete's just standing there. Blinking at me. I'm like "Dude! Start making my pizza already, you lazy SOB!" But he just stands there. Blinking. Pete the Lazy Pizzamaker.
Today, Phil and I were trying to use Maps.app. I had posted a picture and Phil observed that the exif data was still attached and used the viewer in Preview.app to look at where it was taken on the map. Then he asked where my office was, so I tried to get a way to grab a latlong that I could easily provide to show him. I dropped a pin, but then discovered that the pin doesn't give you the latlong. In fact, there doesn't appear to be any way to get a latlong. It has a bunch of mechanisms for "sharing", but all of them are services: you can share "via email", but it doesn't work with Thunderbird: you have to use Mail.app. You can share via Twitter or Facebook or a variety of other ways. But why not give you a location or URL that could be easily shared with any service. By obfuscating the internals, Apple can favor the services it likes while disadvantaging the ones it doesn't like. Many users don't notice, because the dominant services are represented. But its another step toward turning technology into an opaque service where people are consumers, rather than participants.
Kalle Kniivilä petis kelkajn homojn verki mallonge pri la unuaj cent tagoj de la nova estraro de UEA por aperonta artikolo, sed ne ricevis sufiĉe da respondoj por artikolo. Jen tio, kion mi verkis:
En fora usono, ni aŭdas onidirojn pri la nova estraro de UEA, sed mankas ajnajn konkretajn indikojn pri ties agado. Estis onidire elekto de nova redaktoro de Esperanto-revuo, sed ĝis nun neniu indiko pri kion novan li alportos. Laŭdire estos nova retejo ankaŭ, sed mi ankoraŭ vidas neniun ŝanĝon.
Mi legis eseon de Mark Fettes en la Balta Ondo kiu levis pli da demandoj ol ĝi klarigis. Tute ne estis klare al mi kion li celas ke la esperantistaro fakte faru. Kion mi faru? Mi demandadis al mi tion fojon post fojo dum mi legis. Li diris ke oni devas "motivi la homojn fari la necesan investon de tempo, mono kaj energio por kapabliĝi." Ĉu mi devas motivi? Aŭ investi? Investi tempon? Investi monon? Mi ne scias kion mi faru per tiu alineo. Kaj pri la kvar agadkampoj? Ŝajnas ke UEA aliĝas nun al la KKKK -- ion brazilanoj bone komprenas.
Baldaŭ mi esperas ke UEA, kunekun siaj aligitaj landaj asocioj, klarigos mallonge kaj unuvoĉe kion ili celas fari kiu meritas kaj la partoprenon kaj la subtenon de la esperantistaro. Kial oni membriĝu? Kiel oni aliĝu al la celoj kaj laboro de la Esperanto-movado? Kio estos la laboro de UEA kaj kiel oni rekte subtenu tiun laboron? Ju pli longe ni parolu nebule pri "motivi investon", des pli longe ĝis oni fakte ion faros.
Finfine, kiam UEA havos klaran, trafan mesaĝon, mi konsilas ke necesos celi ne nur la membraron: nepros celi la tutan esperantistaron kaj iel atingi ilin. La plejmulto de esperanto-parolantoj ne estas membroj de UEA. La artikolo ĉe la Balta Ondo estis bona komenco, sed ĝis nun mankas klara strategio kiel atingi la ne-membrojn.
Vendrede, post longega semajno, mi volis amuziĝi do mi decidis fari kelkajn pliajn Esperantajn memojn (jen la unuajn).
Per la unua, mi celis Facebook kaj la malprofundajn amikiĝojn kiujn ĝi produktas.
Mi afiŝis ĉe Facebook kaj kelkaj homoj tuj ekŝatis ĝin.
Tiam mi celis la elreviĝon de kelkaj en la Esperanto-movado.
Mi ankaŭ afiŝis ĉe Facebook kaj eĉ pli da homoj ekŝatis ĝin.
Post unudu kokteloj, mi faris trian kiu celas la junulojn kiuj lasas ke la Esperanto-movado forbruliĝu. Ho ve. Iom pli akra ol mi antaŭsupozis. Tiun mi decidis ne afiŝi ĉe Facebook.
Two things that I forgot to mention in my previous article about services that are hard to value and quantify are among the most important: biodiversity and the services of a functioning ecology. This is a huge problem with capitalism that looks like it may well ultimately result in the extinction of people.
Most, if not all, organisms biologically treat the world as an unlimited resource. If you put bacteria in a petri-dish, they consume all the resources until their own wasteproducts and lack of resources result in the collapse of population.
People have treated the earth much the same way: throughout history, there is example after example of people writing about a biological resource as boundless or limitless (forests, buffalo, passenger pigeon, cod, etc, etc, etc) and then the surprised shock when it turns out that the limits, being exceeded, result in a collapse.
Currently, we're seeing the effect most prominently with respect to global climate change. But its not the only one: we're losing species after species in an unprecendented loss (in human time scales) of biodiversity. We know that ecology is a complex web of interactions where a small loss (like of a "keystone predator") can result in the loss of an entire ecosystem.
The effect is well known: it's the "tragedy of the commons". If one or two people monetize the environment, they get rich -- at everyone else's expense. But when everyone tries to do it, it causes the system to collapse and everyone is impoverished.
We're running countless huge, uncontrolled experiments with our own environment -- because it's more profitable to those who already have money to do it that way -- but with no ability to measure the actual potential costs, because they're displaced in time and are generalized to be imposed on everyone, there are no brakes on the train.
It worked for us (Western civilization) because we were the first to monetize the commons. But now that India, China, Brazil, and the rest of the world want to do it, the risks are becoming more apparent. Well -- that's not really true. Ecologists have known about the risks all along, but the plutocracy was willing to overlook the risks for their own enrichment. Many are still willing to overlook them to get a little richer in the short run.
Students often describe these as "problems facing the earth" or that "we need to protect the earth". Of course, the earth will be just fine. Human civilization, on the other hand, is much more delicate. As we've seen, it doesn't really take much for it to collapse.
La xkcd laste estis amuza, sed donis al mi ideon.
Fakte, ĝi donis al mi kelkajn ideojn.
La eblecoj pri Esperanto estas senfinaj, fakte.
You get what you pay for. And conversely, you don't get what you don't pay for. Over the past 30 years, our society has increasingly moved toward management and resource allocation systems that set up measures and use those to evaluate people and processes. The result has been to reduce the service offered to only those activities aligned with the measures. As measures increase -- and those resistant to the agenda, who pull down the scores, are driven out -- there is much celebration and slapping of backs. But something is being lost.
It's often hard to identify what was lost -- precisely because it was something that wasn't being measured. But I think that, over the next generation, we're going to discover how much poorer our environment is because of all of these resources or amenities that we used to take for granted but which now are gone, simply because they're hard to quantify and measure.
We're seeing this in the teaching profession, where teaching is being treated, not as an empowered person building a culture of learning among students, but instead as a functionary monitoring low-status workers and being rewarded for "keeping them on task". It doesn't matter whether test-scores go up: we're destroying the teaching profession and graduating a generation of students who have never learned to take responsibility for their own learning.
One example, I've seen talked about, which falls into this category is "loyalty". Charlie Stross wrote eloquently how in building a cadre of professionals, the government used to manage explicitly to help maintain loyalty, but that the next generation of spy kids has been treated much more as disposable contractors -- and that Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are the beginnings of that decisionmaking coming home to roost.
Another example is the appalling architecture in public spaces. James Howard Kunstler has written extensively how zoning and cost cutting have led many buildings to expose blank walls and created soul-sucking areas all around themselves because, from a purely cost/rule driven standpoint, there's no reward for creating an enriching public sphere.
I feel personally invested in the issue because of the kind of work I do. I've often seen myself as a catalyst in my roles supporting faculty and students: the work I do often doesn't have a direct product, but it enables others to be productive. This is another example of the kind of work that can get overlooked or feel unrewarded, because it isn't something that gets directly measured. I remember a chairman who, after he took over, looked at me and said, "What do you do, anyway?" That was rather chilling. Luckily there were a number of faculty around the department who were willing to explain to him how important I was to their ability to do their work. But it's something I worry about.
A counterveiling trend has sprung up, toward local and artisanal poducts and labor. Given how robots are replacing human labor, though, unless robots can be programming to buy artisanal, it may be a losing proposition.
Last weekend, I travelled by myself to Silver Bay for the Aŭtuna Renkontiĝo. In the past, Lucy usually went with me, but she's decided she doesn't want to travel so far -- at least not for Esperanto things. So I went by myself. I decided to stay in the Junulara Dometo (in spite of not being so juna). It was a pleasant experience. I particularly enjoyed the experience of being among a community of people engaged in meaningful activity, even if it was just preparing and sharing meals. I really enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the place.
The week, in spite of being short, was especially busy getting ready for the opening of a new exhibit for the collections celebrating William S. Clark. We had visitors coming in from Japan to see the exhibit and several of us worked at a fever pitch to pull it all together. My part was to arrange the technology to "take over" the projector that usually shows the "Molecular Playground" and instead have it offer a presentation of slides about William Clark and Hokkaido University. It got tied up with two similar projects that Geosciences wanted to do. There was a lot of back-and-forth trying to negotiate some payment for Tom to build the ones for Geosciences and help me.
A high point of week was my class where Dr. Alexander Suvorov presented briefly on terrestrial molluscs and then went into the field with us to collect some. I had picked out a spot that I thought would be good and it was: we found a bunch of examples to take back to the lab. We got to do all the pieces: collecting, looking at them under dissecting scopes, identifying them, and collecting some imagery. With the collections staff being so busy building the exhibit, I hadn't managed to get everything together ahead of time, so I had to go back the next day with alcohol to preserve everything. And today made up some labels. It looks like what will work best is to start building a reference collection: the students should be able to use the examples we have so far to recognize things we've seen and set aside things we haven't to get additional help from Sasha. It was a tremendous high to have everything come together so well.
Last night, we had a reception for the guests visiting from Japan. I was able to attend briefly -- just long enough to give each of the visitors a copy of one of my books of haiku. When I mentioned haiku, one of them expressed great surprise and interest. They seemed appreciative and I hope they enjoy them.
I had to run from the reception because the Annual Meeting of Amherst Media was happening later. I joined the board of Amherst Media over the summer. At the Annual Meeting, we needed to elect new board members and hand out an award. The Jean Haggery Award for Community Engagement was given to Josh Wolfsun and the Student News directors including Charlie. I got to see him stand up and receive a plaque and stand with the others to reflect on and be recognized for their accomplishments. I was very pleased to see something he'd worked so hard for receive the recognition it deserved.
Much of yesterday and today, I spent organizing my Annual Faculty Review -- a particularly odious task. I had a huge number of things to list this year, which made it somewhat less unpleasant than usual. Drupal Camp, Interim Director of the IT Program, the ICT Summit, Hack for Western Mass, the Summer Institute for Scientific Teaching, the Learning Spaces Collaboratory. It was a busy year last year. It was a relief to get it turned in on time.
This evening, Lucy and I watched the Cardinals take the pennant. I'm not much of a baseball fan, but I enjoy watching the games with Lucy. And the game tonight was a real treat: they scored 9 runs while holding the Dodgers scoreless. It was almost enough to make you feel sorry for the Dodgers. Almost.
Tomorrow, I have another road trip, but this time with friends. I'll meet Buzz, Julian, Phil, and Annie for a trip up to Vermont to look for Heady Topper. We were crushed to see that the brewery is sold out for the weekend, but as Buzz points out, there is plenty of other craft beer in Vermont worth exploring. And other places that may have Heady Topper for sale.
Dum la pasintaj kelkaj tagoj mi verkis du hajkojn kiujn mi tre ŝatas. Eble ili ne estas la plej bonaj hajkoj en la historio de hajko-verkado, sed ili trafas tion kion mi celas.
En tiu, mi celas la matenon en kiu oni finfine decidas porti la puloveron kiu restis en skatolo dum la somero kun la tineopilketoj. Tiu estas preciza momento kaj, per sperto kaj sento, mi kaptas ĝin.
Ĉifoje, mi komencis kun la konstato ke la nuboj tre rapide moviĝas kaj ke la homaro, konstatinte ke baldaŭ estos ŝtormo, ankaŭ rapidas.
Mi legas lastatempe la libron de Blyth pri la historio de hajko kaj li havas similan priskribron pri ĉiu hajko kiun li elektis por la libro. Mi kredas ke tiu helpas min pli klare konstati kion mi celas per miaj hajkoj. Ofte, mi ne scias precize, sed foje, mi tre klare komprenas precize kion mi volas diri. Kaj foje, mi havas la konstaton ke mi trafas precize tion.
This morning I read this essay about a former Rand Paul supporter who, once he had lead poisoning, suddenly had a change of heart about Obamacare. Phil wondered why it is that these people seem to need some personal experience: to have a friend or family member get sick -- or get sick themselves -- before they realize the importance of health insurance. But I know why.
They really believe Ayn Rand. They believe they got everything solely due to their hard work. People who don't have it all are just parasites. Who are they going to listen to? A parasite? If you disagree with them, you're a parasite. And if you're a Randian, you believe like they do.
I don't mind the rich enjoying their ill-gotten gains very much. Oh, it rankles a little. But what really offends me is their need to try to tilt the table ever more in their favor. It isn't enough to win the game -- they want all the pieces. Seeing scumbags like the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson or Dick Cheney who trample all over the poor simply adds insult to injury -- even injury to injury.
They fail to recognize that hard work isn't enough. Luck plays a huge role. Luck. And privilege. Or both. Anyone who doesn't see another person, whether king or beggar, and say, "There but for the grace of God go I" has missed out on a key insight of life.