Thursday, November 03, 2011
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
I walked two miles today and weighed in at 123,55 kg, I feel really good about that. I will keep it up!
Monday, October 31, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
I keep thinking about the stuffwe’ve been discussing, and I think I’m beginning to understandwhat’s going on. I will try to lay out my ideas with language thatI hope will appear as apolitical as possible. Here goes.
Throughout all the national back andforth about “taxing rich,” and having them “pay their fairshare,” some facts have emerged that I think are incontrovertible byanyone on either side. The wages, and therefore disposable income, of themiddle class and below have remained stagnant or are declining. The wagesand disposable income of people at the top have increased. Here’sthe data from the Census Bureau on share of aggregate US income between 1967 and 2009:
Bottom quintile—down 18%
Second quintile—down 26%
Middle quintile—down 18%
Fourth quintile—down 4%
Top quintile—up 15%
Top 5%--up 26%
Understand that I’m not makingjudgments here. The right would say that the big earners should have morewealth, and the left would say it’s unfair. I’m not making ajudgment either way.
What I see here, however, does explain tome the lack of demand in the economy. The overall economy is driven bythe purchases of individuals and households. All households in the firstfour quintiles have experienced a decline in wealth over the last 42 years. This means that for the vast majority of things bought and sold in themacro economy, there is less disposable wealth to spend on them. Yes,there are probably more yachts, and luxury automobiles and second and thirdhomes being sold to the top quintile, but those, in aggregate, make up but asmall portion of the big economy. They’re niche markets you mightsay.
I remember, in a discussion with my son,saying that I don’t think many people in business have the vision ofHenry Ford. Henry Ford dramatically raised his workers’ wages and broughtdown the wrath of his fellow businessmen when he instituted the “fivedollar day,” but replied that he knew that if his employees made a betterwage, more of them would buy his cars, and they obviously did.
The engine that drives the economy is thatbottom 80%, who buy groceries, and IPads, and flat screen TVs, and cars, andclothing and all the rest. When it has less money to spend, the economystagnates. Many conservatives are fond of comparing the overall economyto a household budget, pointing out the wrongheadedness of spending more thanyou take in. Well, this bottom 80% have household budgets that have beentaking in less each year. So they’re doing the natural and rightthing. They’re adjusting spending to match income.
So it’s not just an issue of jobsand hiring, although those things are clearly very important. It’sthat the people who drive the economy have less gas in the tank to drive itwith than they ever had, and so demand begins to dry up. I think that youcan cut taxes to zero on the supplier side, and get rid of every regulationthat costs them money, and it won’t change the fundamental fact that thebuyers of what those suppliers supply simply have less money to spend.
The people in the top quintile have donea marvelous job of maximizing their earnings. But, to the degree thattheir earnings require that the bottom four quintiles have the income to helpthem earn more money things are trending toward the precarious. This iswhat I see in our economy right now. The drivers of the economy areslowly being marginalized, and it was their ability to buy all the crazyvariety of products and services that built the economy in the first place.
Understand that I am no preaching“class warfare” here, but merely observing the facts. Thereis less disposable money out there to buy things, and this to me is the core ofthe problem. Now, I don’t have a solution. But I do believethat unless we do something—and believe me, I don’t know what thatsomething is—to get to a state where the buyers can buy, the economy willremain stagnant. This is why I feel that what Eric Cantor is suggestingwon’t work. In fact, one might suggest that, rather than this beinga new solution, it is something we have already been doing for the last 40years or so. Our taxes on everyone are at the lowest level in 50 years,yet that reduced tax load does not appear to be making the buyers able to buymore. And even if it should somehow lead to hiring as Cantor claims (andwhich I, as you know, don’t believe), it is highly unlikely to increasewages overall and rectify our bottom 80% problem.
I am fearful that we have perhaps killedthe goose that laid the golden egg—the vast American middle class whogrew the economy. As I said, I don’t know what we should, or evencould, do at this point. There’s no way we’re going to justhand the bottom 80 money to spend. But I am convinced that getting thebottom 80 back to the level of wealth that they had just a few decades ago iswhat will change things for the better. Leaving this as it is, in thispolitical climate, is a recipe for economic disaster.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
I have been a technologist (hate the term) at two American high schools and lost my job over advocating these ideas (some people say I am an attack dog:))in a very strenuous way. Traditional teachers have asked me if they do anything right. They have not always liked my answers.
From DIY U by Anya Kamenetz
Technology upsets the traditional hierarchies and catagories of education. It can put the learner at the center of the educational process. Increasingly this means students will decide what they want to learn; when,where,and with whom; and they will learn by doing.
I have always worked in independent schools where the ideas expressed above are particularly threatening and ill received due to the control and selectivity these school exercise. Maybe the present paradigm's time has past. I will leave you to the videos.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
When I was considering this digital world for the first time, one of the most influential books (yes print book!) I read was Don Tapscott's Growing Up Digital(1998). It changed everything for me a teacher and began the journey that I am still on. Tapscott has written several other books, including, The Digital Economy(1996), Blueprint to The Digital Economy(1998),>Digital Capital(2000), Wikinomics(2006), and Macrowikinomics(2010). They make for a facinating body of work which I found to be right on the money. They also support a video he just posted on YouTube which I have embedded here.
Let me know what you think.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, July 03, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
A song from Flogging Molly's new album in his honor...
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
What is good learning? That may be a subjective question. But it’s likely that many educators would give answers that fall in the same ballpark…~~
…students collaborating and discussing ideas, possible solutions…
…project-based learning, designed around real world contexts…
…connecting with other students around the world, on topics of study…
…immersing students in a learning experience that allows them to grapple with a problem,
gaining higher-order thinking skills from pursuing the solution…
To many educators, these notions are music to their ears. Would it seem terribly strange then to hear that students indeed are doing these things regularly outside of their classrooms? While Timmy or Susie may not be running home from school saying, “What fun, deeply-engaging learning experience can we do today?”, they are engagingwith new technologies that provide them with the same opportunities. Every day, many students are spending countless hours immersed in popular technologies—such as Facebook or MySpace, World of Warcraft,or Sim City—which at first glance may seem like a waste of time, and brain cells. But these genres of technologies—Social Networking, Digital Gaming, and Simulations—deserve a second, deeper, look at what’s actually going on.
The Instructional Power of Digital Games, Social Networking, Simulations and How Teachers Can Leverage Them
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I regularly read a blog called TeachPaperless. Yesterday, there was a post in Teachpaperless entitled "I Don't Want More Professional Development. It began:
We don't need more "professional" development. We need social development. Or at least we need to recognize it and recognize that the ultimate outcomes we often desire from the best of professional development are actually an outcome of social development. We need a development of human capacity, not an adherence to the rules of our established profession. We need to build our relationships for the purpose of furthering our humanity, not furthering our careers
Reading that entry caused me to write a comment on Teachpaperless which I have revised into the blog entry below. Enjoy.
I am not sure how many of the readers here have ever been on Second Life. If you have, you may have noticed what your avatar does when you log off...the avatars body goes limp and their head dips to the right and their chin rests on their shoulder.
Well so many teachers seem to be in a Teacher Second Life while reading this blog. When we leave here and go to school our personas do exactly what a second life avatar does---we go limp and turn our heads away from the reality around us.
And the reason we do it, we are afraid of losing our jobs. And it is a founded fear. If you do not go to sleep and say the same things in faculty meetings, professional development or training sessions, in the faculty room, in meetings with principal, or out on the playground or in the lunch room, that you espouse here, you very well may get fired. School is about control. This blog is about liberation! We all talk liberation but are we willing to walk liberation?
Every revolution has it casualties. If you really want a revolution it may be you. It has been me.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
[Version I: Just the Manifesto]
My Open Educator Manifesto
‘We’ educate future citizens of the world
Teaching is my professional practice
I Share by default
I am Open, Transparent, Collaborative, and Social
My students own their own: (Learning)
• learning process
• learning environment
• learning products
• learning assessment
My students belong to learning networks
Every student deserves customized learning
• Student voice
• Student choice
Every educator deserves customized learning
I have high expectations
I Care, Share, and Dare
I am a role model
I am the change I want to see in Education!
Saturday, April 02, 2011
The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late. -Joseph Stiglitz Vanity Fair
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I am a gamer. Playing games is an intregal part of who I am. Playing games is a good thing. I can remember sitting on Paul Filbert's front porch in the summer time and playing Avalon Hill war games or Rummy Royale. I can remember playing chess in Hankie Pauley's kitchen on Friday nights with the glorius wooden chess he brought back from his trip to Mexico. I can remember the giant Risk tournaments we played over entire weekends. Joey Chachulski usually won them. I can remember designing lionel railroad empires in Jeffery Pyzinski's basement or creating rockets out empty CO2 cartridges and launching them filled with matchheads for solid fuel and soldered on sheet metal wings for guidance. Kermit Avenue had the best young Diplomacy players in Buffalo, New York I am sure! Our imaginations raced with new ideas and expanding horizons all of the time. We were not stressed, we did not feel depressed at all. We empowered ourselves.
Games are good for us. They empower us. A recent book by Dr. Jane McGonagal, Reality is Broken , has opened my mind to all types of new ideas, particularly the new science of happiness and the concepts of flow and fiero. Games produce flow and fiero. It makes for great reading and spurs ideas.
Couple Reality is Broken with Johann Huzinga's brilliant Homo Ludens and you will gain new insight into human nature.
Video games also may help us to cope with the crazy world that speeds up every day and infuses us with great anxiety and depression. A research study from the East Carolina University cited the following statistics about human beings in this world we live in from the National Institute of Mental Health:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States an estimated 20.9 million American adults (9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 or older) suffers from a mood disorder, and more than two thirds of those (14.8 million U.S. adults) are cases of major depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people aged 15 to 44. Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders, and approximately 40 million American adults (about 18 percent of all U.S. adults) have an anxiety disorder.
The study then when on to explore what effect playing video games has on subjects such as those refereneced above. Playing games like Bejeweled, Bookworm, and Peegle from Popcap games significantly reduced depression, stress and anxiety levels in the study groups. All of these games are free by the way and blocked by most school web
filters. I play all of these games and am particularly drawn to them after particularly stressful days at work or when I am feeling overwhelmed by my task and to-do lists. The results of the study are quite startling and deserve to be studied and applied in our schools.Video Games Can Reduce Depression And Anxiety - Study
should be read by every teacher in America.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Acclaimed historian of colonial America, Jack P. Green, has called the South “a negative example of what America had to overcome before it could finally realize its true self.” For two centuries, the struggle to 'integrate' the South into a more 'progressive' and 'mainstream' American narrative has flummoxed scholars, politicians, and cultural theorists of all shades. The South still tends to confound those who are not a part of it. Dan Rasmussen’s new book American Uprising perhaps adds another strut to Greene’s argument by providing a glimpse into the complex, and problematic, relationships among slaves, landholders, merchants, politicians, soldiers, privateers, and rogues of every shade and political allegiance in the steamy swamplands of Louisiana during the early years of the American Republic. The story Dan tells is ostensibly about a little-known, but substantial slave revolt in 1811 that occurred on the Andry Plantation located on Louisiana's German Coast forty miles north of New Orleans. The insurrection that marched on New Orleans that year may have included up to five hundred slaves (actual numbers are disputed), but broke up fifteen miles from the city when it came up against a smaller, but better armed, force of planter militia. While the enduring impact of this particular uprising remains debatable, Rasmussen’s narrative provides the fodder for a much deeper story about the ‘Americanization’ of the Deep South.
Rasmussen possesses a knack for conjuring up the sights, sounds, colors, and flavors of early 19th-century New Orleans and placing his readers at the side of his protagonists, both planter and slave. The slave experience takes center stage here as Rasmussen attempts to piece together the world inhabited by the West Africans Kook and Quamana, the primary organizers of the uprising. From their arrival in the port of New Orleans in 1806 with some 1500 other slaves to their executions following the failed uprising, Kook and Quamana are contextualized into the history of the region. Dan displays real skill and art in making sense of a complex story. While the actions of Kook and Quamana and the slave perspective generally remain central to the story -- the rich broth that is essential to any good gumbo to use an apt analogy -- Rasmussen transcends the narrative event of 1811 by analyzing the big picture as much as the actions of a few men.
Indeed, Dan is at his best when his focus widens and he places the events surrounding the Andry Plantation in the wider context of American-Caribbean history. He writes convincingly of a new nation flexing its muscle for the first time, eschewing established channels of European diplomacy, and successfully flaunting international law, using God’s law instead to justify its self-serving actions in Florida and Louisiana. One example is Fulwar Skipwith’s cunning and illegal seizure of Baton Rouge and the killing of the Spanish garrison, an action that cleared the path for the United States to assume control, by presidential proclamation, of West Florida. Rasmussen is supremely aware of the multiplicity of historical ingredients in his narrative of the 1811 uprising. He writes of French, Spanish, Haitian, Creek, Miccosukee, Akan, and Asante -- all bound in complex economic interdependency, all rubbing shoulders with the newly dubbed Americans in the cosmopolitan port of New Orleans, all providing meaty chunks to the spicy broth carefully laid down with the stories of Kook, Quamana, and Andry.
Rasmussen ultimately raises the thorny question of what is ‘authentic history’ when he attempts to make something of the fact that no one has made much of the slave revolt on the Andy Plantation. "Why," asks Rasmussen, "has no one ever bothered to tell the story of the enslaved men who lost their lives fighting for their own freedom?" A pertinent question, though not entirely accurate (Howard Zinn is notably absent in Rasmussen's bibliography). In his discussion of the limited historiography on the 1811 uprising, Rasmussen uses some emotionally-packed words to malign (rightly so) not only prior scholarship, but to cast aspersions upon the 'uglier' side of the American story, that problematic part of our narrative that, pace Green, we had to overcome in order to realize our true self: Communist, Marxist, academia, White, Jewish, Nazi, racist, rebel and Confederate are all dredged up here. Such words, however, serve various masters in the broader narrative of America and form a political minefield that often inhibits serious historical dialogue.
"The South proxies for a variety of national pathologies," insists Thomas Schaller, professor of political science and author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South (Simon Schuster, 2008), and Southern history and modern politics rarely disengage easily. Dan Rasmussen deftly weaves a tale of something that is not so much the historical ‘winning’ of the Deep South as it is the absorption of it into the debate about who we are as a nation. "This is a story about American expansion and the foundations of American authority," states Rasmussen, as he rightly challenges us to "reckon with the politics of the enslaved." However, it appears uncertain at best that, as Rasmussen asserts, a cover up of the Andry uprising has been perpetuated for two centuries by bigoted, white, Southern elites for political ends, or that racist historians "conflated the idea of law with the idea of white supremacy." It is perhaps convenient to use the event to help exorcise those uncomfortable demons in the American psyche, but we would do well to avoid mixing contemporary polemics with history (if such a thing is possible). There persists an enduring perception in this country that the South is defined more by culture than geography, that Alabama or Louisiana (both voted for McCain in 2008), for example, are somehow more southern than Virginia (voted for O'Bama), that what is southern will forever be tied to its lard and greens cookery, to an attachment to evangelical religion, to an anti-scientific outlook, to militant and xenophobic patriotism, and ultimately to the 'peculiar institution' of slavery. As a nation, we are still trying to come to terms collectively with the issues of slavery, race, and immigration and what it ultimately means to be an American. Rasmussen gets it right: The events surrounding Andry Plantation in 1811 constitute something more than merely a Southern story, they make up rather an American one.
In the end, Dan tells a darn good story and is especially deft at showing the complex interplay of ethnicity, economics and politics in the Deep South in the early 19th century. Rasmussen succeeds in making his reader think twice about received traditions and historical identity, the mark of a good book and good historian indeed. Jacob Levenson of Columbia University has observed that for many Americans outside the region, the South will remain forever frozen in time as scenes from Birmingham and Selma are constantly re-hashed on PBS. Northerners, Levenson believes, seem "to treasure those black-and-white memories because they serve as symbols for what we'd like to think we're not." Rasmussen's new book adds to the debate about what we are. By bringing men such as Kook and Quamana to the forefront of his narrative, Dan ultimately reinforces the motto E pulribus unum!
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
I have become very disturbed by the general assault that is being mounted against unions in the United States in the name of good government and sound financial management. Unions are being blamed for everything that is wrong with our schools, our muncipalities, and the country in general. Being a United Steel Worker while I went to college and for a few years after I returned from the U.S. Navy and went to graduate school made me believe in labor unions and the power of organization that makes the American Dream possible. To that idea I offer you this song by Pete Seeger