Deep Layers of Meaning Lurk in Talk Like a Pirate Day

19 09 2007

A noodly cock of the snook to Deacon Daryl. 🙂
Besides its obvious religious importance to Pastafarians, let’s call the 2007 celebration of this holy day educational, too:



“A piratical romp through the alphabet with all that implies. . .

Actually, we’re not sure this should be read by children – but their parents will love it. Children should only be given this book by their drunken uncles and wild aunts who don’t want the little darlings to grow up to be insufferable prigs!”

NYT Opens Up Online Environment, Starting Today

19 09 2007

Dear TimesSelect Subscriber,

We are ending TimesSelect, effective today.The Times’s Op-Ed and news columns are now available free of charge, along with Times File and News Tracker. In addition, The New York Times online Archive is now free back to 1987 for all of our readers.Why the change?

Since we launched TimesSelect, the Web has evolved into an increasingly open environment. Readers find more news in a greater number of places and interact with it in more meaningful ways. This decision enhances the free flow of New York Times reporting and analysis around the world. It will enable everyone, everywhere to read our news and opinion – as well as to share it, link to it and comment on it. . .

The tagline I saw there this morning: “Now everyone is entitled to our opinions!”

I included some education tags on this post because I think the public’s right to know is the understood foundation of both freedom of the press and compulsory schooling.
One is free from government; the other IS government.
I want to think about this some more. . .

FavD Writes Again: Don’t know much about history, or spelling, or Judaism

18 09 2007

If you’re a dimwit or a dullard, do try to stay out of Favorite Daughter’s way . . . 🙂

It Sure Looked Like Chicken Pox . . .

18 09 2007

and so we had an off-balance weekend, knowing not to emergency-call the pediatrician, but not quite knowing what TO do and feeling there ought to be something or other.

I decided it must be chicken pox, mostly so I could hold back the discomfort of not knowing. Young Son and FavD were both vaccinated against chicken pox years ago, but it seems there’s a one in ten chance of getting a mild case, anyway. I figured if that’s what it was, oh well, nothing much to do or not do. My coping strategy.
But by Monday morning it was changing fast, more poxy-looking in some places, clearing up already in others. Palms of his hands the scariest. We were smuggled in the secret back door of the pediatrician’s office, so as not to alarm or potentially infect innocent townsfolk.

[I thought snarkily to myself, townsfolk evidently not so concerned when Young Son was the innocent being infected by the unknown and contagious! I know, I know — those culprits, if ideed there were culprits, didn’t know they didn’t know, but we did. . . ]

We were held in a somewhat tense isolation area until, under the practiced eye of a childhood disease vet and father of five himself, we knew more clearly what we did not know. Relief mixed with renewed anxiety at the same time. Not chicken pox, but what was it? Dunno. A specialist was found and alerted, agreed to work us in for an exam early this morning — dermatology, thank goodness, not some exotic quarantined federal CDC facility! 🙂

This morning the poxy proxies were different again but not exactly better, so we went in. Young Son has improbably had his first biopsy now, and I had to call the piano tuner to tell him we’d be late.

I think — do not know — that even in my ignorance both sensitive, complex expressive instruments are gonna be fine. But how? I don’t know, it’s a mystery.

“Helping the Sense of the Homeschool Conversation”

16 09 2007

At Valerie’s official HEM blog — which it seems, won’t suffer gladly anything from Snook, Nance and/or JJ, so I won’t even try to link it — is a Sept. 14 post titled, “Fluidity of Language: What Is Homeschooling?”

[UPDATE Monday morning. An improbable “change of state” — Valerie, dunno how (if?) you did it, but the interface is working for me now. May this bode well for “the conversation” at large! Here’s the link.]

There I saw a sentence that I’d love to hear Steven Pinker analyze:

“Politically correct insistence that ‘homeschooling’ includes anything-goes ’cafeteria-schooling’ may feel inclusively warm and fuzzy, but it sure doesn’t help the sense of the conversation.”

“Inclusively warm and fuzzy” PC insistence? Insistence on political correctness seems all hot and harsh to me, prickly, uncomfortable even in its own skin much less anyone else’s, certainly not warm and fuzzy and better suited to school than homeschool rhetoric– witness Tiny Cat Pants! — and seriously, is there any politically correct insistence of any sort, that helps the sense of ANY conversation?

Political correctness feels to me like a sense and conversation stopper, a sort of meaning bleach, like a caustic cleaning product one should lock away from children for their own protection rather than scour their learning with — Sense Scrubber, Mr. Mean? 🙂

Just labeling someone’s thoughts AS political correctness is, too. For example, it’s no less “true” to pronounce:

“Politically correct insistence that ‘homeschooling’ cannot include anything-goes kitchen-schooling at home, may feel staunchly cool and self-righteous, but it sure doesn’t help the sense of the conversation.”

The structure of both statements is exactly the same, to the same rhetorical effect — division rather than reconciliation, polarizing the discussion with false dichotomy and then labeling the opposing side as “political correctness” rather than thoughtful meta-perception. Oh, and all while slipping in an adjective to derogate the other side’s ability to think at all. (Fuzzy, or self-righteous? Take your pick.)

Neither statement helps provide Pinker’s clear “window into human thought” on the “is-ness of homeschooling” in my view. Is that the goal now, to actually help the sense of the conversation? Cool! Fuzzy! (But who among homeschoolers online will decide what’s helpful, especially if we’re not speaking to one another, oh dear, back to the same conundrum . . .) Read the rest of this entry »

The Waning of I.Q. Makes Room for Arts (and Individual) Again

14 09 2007

Op-Ed Columnist
TimesSelect “The Waning of I.Q.”
Published: September 14, 2007

. . .The cultural consequence is that judging intelligence is less like measuring horsepower in an engine and more like watching ballet. Speed and strength are part of intelligence, and these things can be measured numerically, but the essence of the activity is found in the rhythm and grace and personality — traits that are the products of an idiosyncratic blend of emotions, experiences, motivations and inheritances.

. . .Recent brain research, rather than reducing everything to electrical impulses and quantifiable pulses, actually enhances our appreciation of human complexity and richness.

While psychometrics offered the false allure of objective fact, the new science brings us back into contact with literature, history and the humanities, and, ultimately, to the uniqueness of the individual.

NPR: Do Your Kids Need More of You, or Less?

13 09 2007

(They should’ve also interviewed that NYT blogger mom about her idea to cancel parent involvement unless there’s enough for the whole class . . .)

But on a happier and unschooly note — most parents didn’t hear this in the middle of a weekday, with their wonderful children as close by yet completely into their own pursuits, as mine were. What a luxury — and one less thing to worry about! 🙂

Do Your Kids Need More of You, or Less?
Talk of the Nation, One common worry for parents is whether they are paying too much, or too little, attention to their children. “Ask Amy” columnist Amy Dickinson gives advice on how parents can create the right balance in the relationship between parent and child.

Amy Dickinson, syndicated “Ask Amy” columnist for the Chicago Tribune

Laurence Steinberg, professor of psychology at Temple University and author of the book The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting


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