Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Belated Happy Birthday,

The Library of Babel
- Jorge Luis Borges

    By this art you may contemplate the variations of the 23 letters...
    The Anatomy of Melancholy, part 2, sect. II, mem. IV

The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable. Twenty shelves, five long shelves per side, cover all the sides except two; their height, which is the distance from floor to ceiling, scarcely exceeds that of a normal bookcase. One of the free sides leads to a narrow hallway which opens onto another gallery, identical to the first and to all the rest. To the left and right of the hallway there are two very small closets. In the first, one may sleep standing up; in the other, satisfy one's fecal necessities. Also through here passes a spiral stairway, which sinks abysmally and soars upwards to remote distances. In the hallway there is a mirror which faithfully duplicates all appearances. Men usually infer from this mirror that the Library is not infinite (if it were, why this illusory duplication?); I prefer to dream that its polished surfaces represent and promise the infinite ... Light is provided by some spherical fruit which bear the name of lamps. There are two, transversally placed, in each hexagon. The light they emit is insufficient, incessant.

Like all men of the Library, I have traveled in my youth; I have wandered in search of a book, perhaps the catalogue of catalogues; now that my eyes can hardly decipher what I write, I am preparing to die just a few leagues from the hexagon in which I was born. Once I am dead, there will be no lack of pious hands to throw me over the railing; my grave will be the fathomless air; my body will sink endlessly and decay and dissolve in the wind generated by the fall, which is infinite. I say that the Library is unending. The idealists argue that the hexagonal rooms are a necessary from of absolute space or, at least, of our intuition of space. They reason that a triangular or pentagonal room is inconceivable. (The mystics claim that their ecstasy reveals to them a circular chamber containing a great circular book, whose spine is continuous and which follows the complete circle of the walls; but their testimony is suspect; their words, obscure. This cyclical book is God.) Let it suffice now for me to repeat the classic dictum: The Library is a sphere whose exact center is any one of its hexagons and whose circumference is inaccessible.

There are five shelves for each of the hexagon's walls; each shelf contains thirty-five books of uniform format; each book is of four hundred and ten pages; each page, of forty lines, each line, of some eighty letters which are black in color. There are also letters on the spine of each book; these letters do not indicate or prefigure what the pages will say. I know that this incoherence at one time seemed mysterious. Before summarizing the solution (whose discovery, in spite of its tragic projections, is perhaps the capital fact in history) I wish to recall a few axioms.

First: The Library exists ab aeterno. This truth, whose immediate corollary is the future eternity of the world, cannot be placed in doubt by any reasonable mind. Man, the imperfect librarian, may be the product of chance or of malevolent demiurgi; the universe, with its elegant endowment of shelves, of enigmatical volumes, of inexhaustible stairways for the traveler and latrines for the seated librarian, can only be the work of a god. To perceive the distance between the divine and the human, it is enough to compare these crude wavering symbols which my fallible hand scrawls on the cover of a book, with the organic letters inside: punctual, delicate, perfectly black, inimitably symmetrical.

READ ON . . .

Monday, August 29, 2011


      by Carl Sandburg

Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths

      by Philip James Bailey

open used multicolored cans of paint and brushes sitting on painted abstract canvas

We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest:
Lives in one hour more than in years do some
Whose fat blood sleeps as it slips along their veins.
Life's but a means unto an end; that end,
Beginning, mean, and end to all things—God.
The dead have all the glory of the world.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hey, LOOK . . . . . . . a Flag!

close up on u.s.flag

With all the fighting about the 1st amendment (freedom of religion, speech, & press) and the 2nd amendment (right to bear arms),

We seem to have forgotten about the 4th amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

We also might want to remember the 9th amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

And the 10th amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

9 & 10 kind of go together.

In fact, most of what I see in the news today makes me think that we need to go back and read what our Constitution actually saysespecially our politicians.

Many patriotic people would be surprised.

If anyone is interested, here are links to: 

the BILL of RIGHTS (that's Amendments 1-10),
and AMENDMENTS 11-27.

Friday, August 26, 2011

There was a time I resolved never to repeat a poem. But I've changed my mind, so Enjoy.

      by Bruce Weigl

I didn't know I was grateful
            for such late-autumn
                        bent-up cornfields

yellow in the after-harvest
             sun before the
                        cold plow turns it all over

into never.
            I didn't know
                        I would enter this music

that translates the world
             back into dirt fields
                         that have always called to me

as if I were a thing
              come from the dirt,
                          like a tuber,

or like a needful boy. End
             Lonely days, I believe. End the exiled
                           and unraveling strangeness.

golden corn field after harvest with bent and broken stalks

from: The Unraveling Strangeness. Copyright 2003.

Each President Does it EVERY YEAR. Maybe One Day it Will Stick.

Obama declares August 26 

This year is the 91st anniversary of the Constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Did you know that there is a "HOBO (ETHICAL) CODE"? Looks like something we ought to consider for nationwide adoption!

Depression era photo of two hobos walking down railroad tracks

It was created by Tourist Union #63 during its 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis Missouri, and was voted upon as a concrete set of laws to govern the Nation-wide Hobo Body.

  1. Decide your own life, don't let another person run or rule you.
  2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  3. Don't take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
  4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
  5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals' treatment of other hobos.
  7. When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
  8. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
  9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
  10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
  11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
  12. Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
  13. Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
  14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  15. Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
  16. If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts!

Ox Cart Man

      by Donald Hall

In October of the year,
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,
counting the seed, counting
the cellar's portion out,
and bags the rest on the cart's floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey
in combs, linen, leather
tanned from deerhide,
and vinegar in a barrel
hoped by hand at the forge's fire.

He walks by his ox's head, ten days
to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes,
and the bag that carried potatoes,
flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose
feathers, yarn.

old black and white photo of a man standing next to a large ox cart wheel

When the cart is empty he sells the cart.
When the cart is sold he sells the ox,
harness and yoke, and walks
home, his pockets heavy
with the year's coin for salt and taxes,

and at home by fire's light in November cold
stitches new harness
for next year's ox in the barn,
and carves the yoke, and saws planks
building the cart again.

from: White Apples and the Taste of Stone. Copyright 2006.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.

- Grover Cleveland, U.S. President, 1905.


Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment.


by Jane Taylor

I saw an old cottage of clay,
   And only of mud was the floor;
It was all falling into decay,
   And the snow drifted in at the door.

Yet there a poor family dwelt,
   In a hovel so dismal and rude;
And though gnawing hunger they felt,
   They had not a morsel of food.

The children were crying for bread,
   And to their poor mother they’d run;
‘Oh, give us some breakfast,’ they said,
   Alas! their poor mother had none.

She viewed them with looks of despair,
   She said (and I’m sure it was true),
‘’Tis not for myself that I care,
   But, my poor little children, for you.’

O then, let the wealthy and gay
   But see such a hovel as this,
That in a poor cottage of clay
   They may know what true misery is.
And what I may have to bestow
   I never will squander away,
While many poor people I know
   Around me are wretched as they.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, "Ah!"

 --Joseph Campbel 

I Am!

by John Clare 

(His Weblog, I kid you not)

I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes—
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What a Wonderful Metaphor This Makes

[A]ll trees in dry interior Douglas-fir forests are interconnected, with the largest, oldest trees serving as hubs, much like the hub of a spoked wheel, where younger trees establish within the mycorrhizal network of the old trees. Through careful experimentation, recent graduate Francois Teste determined that survival of these establishing trees was greatly enhanced when they were linked into the network of the old trees.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


In the Soviet Union capitalism conquered communism. In the U.S. it conquered democracy.

- Fran Leibowitz

Take a Moment, Stop, and Smell the Flowers

five daisies against green grass

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is There Such Thing as OPEN-MINDEDNESS?

outline of head in profile with concentric rainbow colors

Chris Mooney says the facts are often irrelevant, since political beliefs are rooted in emotions.

In My Ramblings

 around the interwebs I often run across fun and
interesting things, and today was no exception.

Girls Can't What? is a site for those still making up their minds about what they want to be when they grow up. 

If I ever grew up, I would find this site very encouraging. 

cartoon of a girl dressed as a fire fighter and says girls can't what?

The picture will take you there. 
Look around. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Layers

   by Stanley Kunitz
deep forest with dense trees and ubdergrowth
I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.  

from The Collected Poems. Copyright 1978. 


Natural disasters in 19**

    * 19** Murray River flood
    * Hudsonville-Standale Tornado of April 19**

People who died on August 19 (various years)

    * 1980 - Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank
    * 1979 - Dorsey Burnette, American singer
    * 1977 - Groucho Marx, American comedian and actor
    * 1936 - Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, Spanish author
    * 1889 - Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, French writer
    * 1883 - Jeremiah S. Black, American statesman
    * 1819 - James Watt, Scottish inventor
    * 1753 - Balthasar Neumann, German architect
    * 1662 - Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher
    * 1580 - Andrea Palladio, Italian architect
    * 1493 - Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
    * 1297 - Saint Louis of Toulouse, French Catholic bishop
    * 1284 - Alphonso, Earl of Chester, son of Edward I of England
    * 1245 - Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence
    * 1186 - Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany
    * 14 - Augustus, Roman Emperor (b. 63 BC)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Living

   by Nazim Hikmet
translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing 

CG forest where trees have faces


Living is no laughing matter:
	you must live with great seriousness
		like a squirrel, for example--
   I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
		I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
	you must take it seriously,
	so much so and to such a degree
   that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
                                            your back to the wall,
   or else in a laboratory
	in your white coat and safety glasses,
	you can die for people--
   even for people whose faces you've never seen,
   even though you know living
	is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
I mean, you must take living so seriously
   that even at seventy, for example, you'll plant olive trees--
   and not for your children, either,
   but because although you fear death you don't believe it,
   because living, I mean, weighs heavier.

Let's say we're seriously ill, need surgery--
which is to say we might not get up
			from the white table.
Even though it's impossible not to feel sad
			about going a little too soon,
we'll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we'll look out the window to see if it's raining,
or still wait anxiously
		for the latest newscast. . . 
Let's say we're at the front--
	for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
	we might fall on our face, dead.
We'll know this with a curious anger,
        but we'll still worry ourselves to death
        about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let's say we're in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say,
                        before the iron doors will open.
We'll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind--
                                I  mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
        we must live as if we will never die.

This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
               and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet--
	  I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even 
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
	  in pitch-black space . . . 
You must grieve for this right now
--you have to feel this sorrow now--
for the world must be loved this much
                               if you're going to say "I lived". . .

from: Poems of Nazim Hikmet. 
Copyright 1994.
Photo Source.

Myths Of The Criminal Justice System: Part 3

Radley Balko completes his look at legal myths.

Myth 8: Sex offenders are more likely to reoffend than other criminals.

There's no set of crimes more plagued by misconceptions and hysteria than sex crimes.

[P]eople have landed on sex offender lists for exposing themselves in public (remember the "streaking" craze in the 1970s?), public urination, or having sex at age 17 with someone who is 15. In Texas, children as young as 10 can be put on the sex offender list.
In some states, you can land on the sex offender list for crimes that have nothing to do with sex.

Because they're usually passed out of anger and passion rather than after careful contemplation, sex offender laws often make little sense. 

Myth 9: Seeing is believing. Eyewitness testimony is a reliable way of solving crimes.

. . . participants were shown grainy video footage of a real case in which a man shot and killed a security guard while robbing a convenience store. They were then given five pictures, and told that the culprit was included in the photo set -- except that he wasn't. Yet every one of the participants still claimed they could positively identify the culprit in one of the photos.

More troubling, when the researchers positively reinforced one group's selection of the culprit, that group became more confident in their identification. Half said they were now “certain” of their identification. Those participants also said they would be more willing to testify against the suspect. They were more likely to describe the hazy security footage as “clear." . . .

Myth #10: Wrongful convictions are tragic, but they're inevitable in an imperfect system. We at least take care of the wrongly convicted once we realize there has been a mistake.

With some notable and laudable exceptions, prosecutors often find it difficult to let go of a conviction -- even once it's clear that they got the wrong man.

Currently in Texas, where there's strong evidence that the state has already executed an innocent man, public officials from the local prosecutor all the way up to the governor are fighting to prevent death row inmate Hank Skinner from testing DNA from his case that could prove his innocence (or clearly establish his guilt). . . .


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Time to TAKE a STAND!

button reads make tea not war

Myths Of The Criminal Justice System: Part 2

Radley Balko continues his look a legal misconceptions.

Myth 4: We have appeals courts to check and verify jury verdicts.

Appeals courts review claims that a defendant wasn't afforded his rights under the U.S. Constitution, or the constitution of a particular state. They also review claims that the prosecution or judge did not follow the proper rules of criminal procedure and decide whether those lapses resulted in in an unfair trial. But they almost never second-guess a guilty verdict by reconsidering the evidence.

Myth 5: Due to their position, law enforcement officials are held to a higher standard of conduct than regular citizens.

A strong argument can be made that they're actually held to a lower standard.

Myth 6: Dangerous criminals frequently escape punishment by "getting off on a technicality."

A regular viewer of Bill O'Reilly or Nancy Grace could be forgiven for thinking our criminal courts are heavily stacked in favor of child molesters, drug dealers and cold-blooded killers. In truth, the conviction rate for federal prosecutors is 90-95 percent. For state prosecutors it varies by jurisdiction, but convictions rates generally fall between 60 and 85 percent.

Myth 7: No one confesses to a crime he didn't commit.

False confessions are more common than one might think.

According to the Innocence Project, about one in four convictions that have been overturned by DNA testing involved defendants who at one point had actually confessed to the crime for which they were later exonerated.
Minors and the mentally disabled are especially prone to false confessions, but anyone under considerable duress or who has endured an unusually long or harsh interrogation can be susceptible. Rob Warden and Steven A. Drizin point out in the book "True Stories of False Confessions," an anthology of reports of 48 people who confessed to felonies they didn't commit, the confession often puts a halt to the investigation, even when the confessions "aren't corroborated or don't fit the facts of the alleged crimes."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Myths Of The Criminal Justice System: Part 1

Radley Balko looks at double jeopardy, enhanced sentencing and ignorance of the law. You'll be surprised at what he finds. Here's a taste, click on the link for the complete article.

Myth 1: You Can't Be Tried More Than Once For The Same Crime

There are some exceptions.

Myth 2: The Government Can't Punish You For A Crime Without First Convicting You

Under federal sentencing law, once a defendant has been convicted of any federal crime, when determining a sentence, the judge can consider other crimes he or she may have committed. That includes crimes for which the defendant has never been charged and even crimes for which he or she has been acquitted.

Myth 3: Ignorance Of The Law Is No Defense

Every introductory criminal justice class teaches this one. 
This particular "myth" is mostly true.
But there is one exception to this rule: If you work for the government, particularly in law enforcement, you can be forgiven for not knowing the law.
Prosecutors have absolute immunity from lawsuits related to the decisions they make about whether or not to charge someone with a crime, even when they are clearly wrong about the law.
Police officers and most other government employees don't enjoy the broad absolute immunity afforded to prosecutors and judges, but they do have what's known as "qualified immunity:"

Monday, August 15, 2011

DO Animals Have Feelings?

As someone who has lived with animals all her life,
(no, not wolves)
I would have to say that the answer to that
question is a resounding yes!

"The onus of proof to show otherwise should be on those who deny that animals have these capacities," says scholar and animal advocate Jonathan Balcombe, author of The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure

In the book, published in May by the University of California Press, Balcombe surveys a new generation of studies into animal feelings, especially animal pleasure. Accompanying the scholarship are photographs of animals seeming to enjoy themselves: hippos and flying foxes, zebrafish and sharks, parrots and polar bears, a whole animal kingdom of pleasure. 

- from a Brandon Keim Interview with Jonathan Balcombe

Image: Jonathan Lhoir

Konrad Lorenz, a Nobel Prize-winning zoologist who studied geese "was convinced, not by any repeated scientific study, but by anecdotes based on living among geese for decades, that they fell in love with each other,"

"We know that many geese do mate for life, and have a single partner. Evolution should guarantee that they have strong bonds."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bravery in the Face of Political Extremism

The biology department at Sam Houston State University makes a clear statement about evolution:

cross section of dna strand  looks like stained glass window against black background
We unequivocally support evolutionary theory, which has gained unwavering support by scientists who acknowledge that scientific validity comes only as a result of hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and replication by others. It is this respect for the scientific method and scholastic integrity that has convinced the scientific community that evolutionary theory and the work of Charles Darwin are one of the most important of our time.

In short, we acknowledge that "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (Dobzhansky 1973).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sound Familiar?

White rat playing guitar

Plunk two little rats together and it’s almost impossible to stop them whooping it up. 

White rat playing clarinet

White rat playing saxophone

But thwart a young rat’s zeal for play (by rearing it alone or with drugged companions that won’t play) and you create an adult that loses its cool in social situations. When things start getting edgy, play-deprived rats either succumb to rat-rage or scarper, quaking, to a corner.

White rat at tiny computer

And the lack of play is responsible, because if you let an isolated rat fool around for just one hour daily, it turns into a normal chilled dude.


Don The Dragon's Birthday
- Shel Silverstein

Here he comes across the lake.
He’s comin’ for
his birthday cake.
Sing “Happy Birthday,
Dragon Don,”
And watch him blow
the candles … on.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Great Story, A Great Idea

The Reading Streak

When Alice Ozma was in 4th grade, she and her father decided to see if he could read aloud to her for 100 consecutive nights. On the hundreth night, they shared pancakes to celebrate, but it soon became evident that neither wanted to let go of their storytelling ritual. So they decided to continue what they called "The Streak." Alice's father read aloud to her every night without fail until the day she left for college.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.

- Jimmy Carter,

One Person's NIGHTMARE is Another Person's DREAM

Monday, August 8, 2011


People do not believe lies because they have to but because they want to.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Blogging: In the Beginning . . .

UPDATE: Pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with in just six days. Going to take tomorrow off. Feel free to check out what I’ve done so far. Suggestions and criticism (constructive, please!) more than welcome. God out.


All About the Benjamins

 An online project called Make Your Franklin calls on artists and designers to put their own creative stamp on the $100 bill.

one hundred dollar bill with a picture of captain America in place of Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bruce Who?

"You know that things will not always be easy in your relationship ...
you will occasionally find yourself stumbling on your path together
unsure of what lies ahead."

3 tier wedding cake with zombie wedding party

Friday, August 5, 2011

Haven't You ALWAYS Wondered?


serious looking white bearded man with a yellow flowered tea cosy on his head 

Never trust a man who, when left alone with a tea cosy, doesn’t try it on! 

– Bill Connolly

Thursday, August 4, 2011


It is very amusing to listen to some people of my acquaintance who not only own summer homes but transcontinental jets going on about greed and how greed is ruining our country.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011



I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself — my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity — all come from how I was parented and taught.
And none of these qualities that I’ve just mentioned — none of these qualities that I prize so deeply, that have brought me so much joy, that have brought me so much professional success — none of these qualities that make me who I am ... can be tested.

*  *  *

Clearly the correct balance to be struck between freedom for teachers and external accountability is a tough one. We don't know how to apply the correct incentives. Which is why the answer can only be testing - testing the tests - which brings me to New York Mayor Bloomberg's use of RCTs to test out 2 promising education initiatives in the city - conditional cash transfers and cash incentives for teachers. 
Both programs cost $50 million each. Neither worked, and so both schemes were promptly scrapped. Bloomberg deserves a medal (the Tim Harford award for experiments in social policy?).  
He just saved $50 million a year (or $100 million, if both schemes were to be run concurrently), on a program that makes plenty of intuitive sense, but that without proper testing could have gone on for years, with nobody knowing that it wasn't having any effect at all. 
How many other pieces of the education system are doing nothing?

*  *  *

from New York's MAYOR BLOOMBERG:

I think those things we should be more proud of -- the fact that we have the courage to sit there and say we thought it was a good idea, didn't work and we're stopping it. We're not going to waste the public's money.
*  *  *

Education is not the filling of a pail,
but the lighting of a fire.
 *  *  *

To the extent that we are all educated and informed, we will be more equipped to deal with the gut issues that tend to divide us.

Project DYSLEXIE . . .

PROJECT DYSLEXIE by Christian Boer.

Did You Hear the One About . . .

comic sans walks into a bar and the bartender says we don't serve your type here

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
— Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America.

I Know JUST How He Feels!

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Happy Birthday

         - Ted Kooser

This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.

from: Delights and Shadows. Copyright 2004.