Open Education Ticket to Future French Opens

31 05 2010

It’s the French Open as well as Memorial Day, and I’m a tennis fan, former local league player until my knee blew out. So I’ve connected tennis and other sports before, to “school” and unschooling.
For example:

” . . .did you know tennis used to be played by monks using human flesh as their rackets??

Google racket history and you’ll see. . . tennis power of story and how
tennis and school/church treat individuals as interchangeable parts, to
ill effect
. . .

Versatility isn’t a talent, but a desire to extend ability.

Where did Nadal find this spirit of court innovation?
Not at an American academy. Nadal’s parents resisted that siren’s song. He stayed close to home… far from the Nick Bollettieri-style compounds in Florida.

Instead, Nadal grew up with dimension, was raised a chameleon… Nadal applied his eagerness to learn and adjust as he decoded the subtleties of grass during Wimbledon.

Such court awareness isn’t a virtue of American tennis academies. And the forehand factories are not the answer to the country’s talent deficit. . . The numbing baseline games, the one-dimensional plans, the mechanical style, these characteristics will only send Americans down the rankings. Nuance has to be a part of the U.S.T.A. program at the Evert Academy if it is to succeed at producing players as resourceful as they are robotic. . .

Intelligence isn’t manufactured, but nurtured. . .
Welcome to the Federer Era, in which there is little room for shallow, superficial tennis. ”

School is to sports . . . shallow, superficial and inadequate to the challenges ahead. And Big Corporations are in charge of it all, on or off the courts, in or out of school:

Why on earth would the corporate sponsor know more than the WTA CEO about tennis? Say, who’s running the women’s tennis tour anyway? I have to admit Read the rest of this entry »

Personal Privilege: Our Family Photo from Theatre Gala

30 05 2010

The Ross Family — Favorite Daughter now 20, Young Son 14, Mom and Dad old enough to remember the 1950s — at the 20th anniversary gala of award-winning regional community musical company, Theatre A La Carte, last weekend at FSU’s University Center Club. Don’t we have handsome offspring??

(You can’t see it in the photo but despite my love for this theatrical family based in Tallahassee, as a loyal Gator I have my back to the spectacular window wall overlooking the football field — every photo tells many stories. 😉 )

Young Son’s Epic Status This Morning

29 05 2010

My guys were out early to a fencing tournament so I was noodling around and noticed the Facebook status Young Son posted before he left the house (you’ll recall he’s been reading the unabridged 1450-page Les Miserables, in the wee hours instead of sleeping.)

And so the 6 month expedition ends. Javert lies in the seine, valjean in the ground, thenardier is in new York selling slaves, the revolutionaries are dead, Marius and cossette are married, fantine and the bishop died a long while ago. Gavroche is also dead.

The Dismal Taste of High-Yield Corporate School: Shakespearian Tragedy

29 05 2010

What’s in a name? Substitute “kid” for “tomato” and “school” for “plant” — you get the idea. Substitute individual creativity for “sugar” and “flavor” and other nutrients given short shrift by factory farm schooling in service of corporate-backed political controls.

Sacrificing Flavor

The pressure for high-yield plants is responsible for the dismal taste of the supermarket tomato. Harry Klee, a plant biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, says it’s a simple matter of economics.

. . .”The grower is paid for size and yield — and flavor is irrelevant, unfortunately,” Klee says.

In fact, the yield is so great for some tomato varieties that the plant can’t keep up. Because the plants have been bred to produce so many fruits, they can’t produce enough sugars and other nutrients.

“And so what happens is you start to dilute out all of the good flavor compounds, and you get a fruit that you bite into it and it largely tastes like water,” Klee says.
“Because that’s mostly what it is.”

That which we still call a tomato wouldn’t smell or taste as sweet after we’ve diluted its flavors and aromas, dumbed it down and bred out all its delights. That which we still call an education suffers more yet from its name . . .

I don’t care for tomatoes myself but I love the fruit of another kind of vine. That’s another good play on the same school tragedy: Read the rest of this entry »

Snook Animals We’ve Known and Loved

28 05 2010

UPDATE: How could I forget Snook’s Boston Terrier for Memorial Day??

. . .If we took a close look at dominionists including the homophobic and misogynistic . . . would THEIR humanity measure up to Alex the parrot and Washoe the chimp? Maybe they’re worried it might not, and that explains why they fight so hard against any such changes or letting anyone but them and their beliefs in on the thinking and defining?

So I got to thinking about voters in chicken suits and wondered how many other animals have factored into our human thinking about ourselves here. Below is a surprisingly long and varied list of animal posts and discussion, that in connecting us to their nature may help us learn about our own:

While We’re Debating Who Deserves Humanity . . .:
How we think of and treat animals — caused by our needs and changes more than theirs — teaches us more about ourselves than them, just as robot theologian Anne Foerst teaches and preaches.

Her philosophy is that everything really is all about us. . .



Baboon, parrot, chimp as service animals

Sheep and their herd mentality

Katherine Harris on Horses

Schrodinger’s Cat

Ceiling Cat

Stray cats and dogs, Animal Farm, pigs

Pythons and a dead grizzly bear

What’s Up at PussyCat’s? (parrot, rabbit, tiger and haddock in discussion)

Rabbits, poodles and implied death of animals as empathy test

Monkey-Man god of business

Guinea Pig Wooed for TV

Guinea Pig part one

Guinea Pig part two

Large dogs in small apartments

Sheepdogs, pigs in a blanket

Dog days for first daughters

Fly and cat-killing, animal dissection as school science

Mama and baby deer

Pups at play, kitty strollers and a spotted hound surfing





Insect (boats)

If you can find more, post in comments!

All Plucked Up: Playing Chicken at the Polls

28 05 2010

More for Thinking Citizens to peck to pieces and squawk about, in the public dress code wars. How shall we apply what we’re learning about controlling message clothing in public places for FEMA volunteers and band students, about t-shirts and purity rings and serious hats, to um, chicken costumes?

Re: free speech in how we dress and which authorities can rightfully regulate what we choose to wear where.

“There is no statute prohibiting dress that includes costumes,” wrote Erin Neff, the group’s executive director. . . one chicken-dressed man went in to vote, and came out with an “I voted” sticker stuck on his feathers.

. . .State law prohibits signs, distribution of literature, or wearing campaign buttons, clothing or insignia in support of or against a political party, candidate or ballot question at or near polling [s]ites. Violations are a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,000 fine.

But another provision says the law is not intended to prevent a person from voting “solely” for wearing political insigne that cannot be reasonably removed or covered. In such cases, the statute says election workers should take “such action as is necessary” to allow them to vote “as expediently as possible” before showing them to the exit.

Only Actual Public Education, Intelligence Can Save Us Now

27 05 2010

Education is Power of Story and our school stories just suck. I offer today a study in contrasts as my argument that public education (not necessarily public school but education of the public, by the public, for the public) matters more than ever to every single one of us as individuals, even those of us who don’t have kids in school or have no children at all.

Below are two individuals from whom we can learn many lessons, if we do our homework and then choose wisely between them.

Which of these two education “exhibits” would you bank on to help turn things around in this third millennium since Christian doctrine captured the minds of men — not just choosing for your own children but for your community, our country, our collective consciousness as human beings facing evermore complex global challenges?

Martin Gardner died the other day. He was the first science-math intellectual (other than those writing fiction like Asimov or Lewis Carroll, I mean) I discovered and read on my own as a puzzle-enamoured young teen, back in the mid-twentieth century.

In an age when science claims to be all-encompassing and skepticism seems corrosive to faith, Gardner was a breath of fresh air. He could “out-skeptic” the harshest of the New Atheists and yet his imagination was so much more robust that he could intuit a world beyond science.

. . .Martin Gardner possessed a unique combination of literary breadth, rigorous logic, mathematical intuition, and lively, engaging writing.

I never met Gardner, but I know him well — and so do the students who take my freshman honors seminar at Eastern Nazarene College, “Contemporary Questions.” Like many great writers, Gardner has put his soul in print, allowing us to peek in and see what a true genius thinks about the great questions of life — free will, God, immortality, evil, prayer, politics, markets.

. . . Gardner was genuinely skeptical about paranormal claims that went against science but, paradoxically, he affirmed and celebrated a world that went beyond science. . .
Gardner’s essays in The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener are a tour de force of mature, honest thinking expressed in golden and often witty prose. In fact, Gardner’s wit is enough to justify reading him. . .

One of Pretend Pimp James O’Keefe‘s co-conspirators pleading guilty and being sentenced yesterday, was “a former assistant director of a program at Trinity Washington University that taught students about careers in intelligence. . . part of a national effort following the Sept. 11 attacks to interest students at liberal arts colleges in careers as spies. He was also active in the conservative newspaper and other organizations at George Washington University.”

So — during the war-driven Bush administration, federal education dollars went to this private southern protestant university ( “private” except over 80% of all students get financial aid to learn whatever they’re being taught there) to pay an extremely young extremist to administer a U.S. spy recruitment program? Read the rest of this entry »

Texas Goes Completely Nuts

22 05 2010

Or it is just formalized.

I have to run but here’s a place to discuss the latest until JJ can get her rant on. 🙂


More T-Shirt Controversy, This Time Among Adults Not Acting Like It

20 05 2010

A conservative Christian mom who’s been active in our state for many years in homeschool politics and done much good work, posted this on her Facebook page today, saying she was a little offended that the women couldn’t express their faith on t-shirts while volunteering for FEMA and that “everyone gets a voice but us”:

FEMA Apologizes After Volunteers Asked to Remove Faith Based T-Shirts for Video

I pointed out that according to the story she’d linked, the offending photographer had been officially apologized for by his agency’s top official Craig Fugate, and then promptly fired, all for having offended the two women volunteers with his request. I asked how getting someone fired for inadvertent offense, particularly in this economy, furthered the faith-based values at issue.

Her reply was that she didn’t know he was fired, but what he’d attempted was censorship pure and simple. So c’est la vie, let him eat cake, if he can afford it on his unemployment check? Faith-based loving your neighbor, yeah boy, we need some more selfless volunteer service like that, to make America a better place!

The thought flashed into my head that Corrie Ten Boom’s sister took the bible quite literally and would not lie even to the Nazis searching for Jews hidden under her kitchen table. She told them right where to look. It wouldn’t have been my choice but it makes sense within her belief system, that’s all I’m sayin’ . . .

So here is my next response:

What I can’t wrap my mind or heart around, is the idea that when Christians are offended by not being able to express who they are in the context of FEMA, it’s a firing offense for the man who so offends them — but in another branch of the federal government, the opposite is a firing offense. Express who you are and YOU get fired. [Don’t ask don’t tell, of course]

Christians are on one side and then the other, not consistently against offense OR censorship.

Never mind nice Christian ladies on Facebook talking among themselves as they certainly are free to do, but what about the Republican Baptist US Congressman sworn to uphold the Constitution and quoted in the story?

“I shared with him that we just didn’t want to have a situation where the government would take the position that volunteers from churches had to be something different from what they were . . .”

What does he really stand for, and is that stand more faithful to modern American legal principles or barbaric ancient middle-eastern mythologies?

What do y’all think about this one?

If a Fact Falls in the Forest and No One Hears It . . .

17 05 2010

Do scientists “believe” or do they “know?”
Is evolution a “theory” or a “law?”
Should scientists take such cultural communication questions seriously?

See Training Scientists to Be Better Communicators, Chronicle of Higher Education, excerpted from a new book by Dennis Meredith, Explaining Research: How to Reach Key Audiences to Advance Your Work (Oxford University Press, 2010):

Science suffers from its lack of a culture of explanation.

Scientists and engineers tend to communicate poorly in public controversies because—compared with, say, doctors and lawyers—their professions have not valued explanation. Their career advancement doesn’t depend on having lay-level explanatory skills. To progress professionally, scientists really need only to explain their work technically to other scientists—their colleagues, department heads, and granting agencies. But imagine what would happen to a doctor who couldn’t explain diseases to patients, or a lawyer who couldn’t explain the law to clients and juries. Their careers would be over.

Science Can Answer Moral Questions: Sam Harris at TED

12 05 2010

“Identity More Fluid” as Schooled Kids “Come Together in New Ways”

12 05 2010

What do you think, hope or horror?

Teenagers today have a dramatically different perspective on race and ethnicity than their parents did. Their views are driven by pop culture, by their moment in history and by virtue of having grown up in culturally diverse schools. . .

“It’s not to say that racism has gone away or disappeared,” said Milagros Peña, a sociology professor at the University of Florida. “It’s that kids have different ideas about race and diversity, and are coming together in new ways.”

. . .“Identity is a lot more fluid for this generation,” [Harvard doctoral student Anthony] Jack said.