Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bright Line Eating

Every now and then, I come across a book, a person, an organization, a web site, an approach that seems promising.  Yesterday, Amazon had "Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin and Free" by Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD.  The Kindle edition is $1.99.


I figure it makes sense to pay attention and expend some energy on the subject of eating and food.  I noticed that coffee and chocolate continued to serve Lynn's 90 year old parents well.  Many other pleasures were dimmed but not foods they liked.  Ever since my high school wrestling days, I have been interested in foods, body weight, strength and vitality.  In college, my first research paper was about nutrition.  


The first good thing I found in Dr.Thompson's book was her take on weight loss today and her personal history.  As a teen, she found the answer: drugs!  Uh, no, not a good answer whatsoever.  She had her ups and downs in the early years of her life, emotionally and with her body and weight.  Thompson covers the history of food around the world and the increasing overweight problem around the world.  Her web site Bright Line Eating https://brightlineeating.com/ gives the stats of the success she has had herself with having and keeping the right body weight and with helping thousands of others.


Midway down the page above she has a short video that gives an outline of her approach.  She has four emphases:

  • No added sugar

  • No flour

  • Meals of an appropriate number per day and on time only

  • One plate or weighing the food


She says the term "bright line" came from law practice: the idea of a clear-cut line that leaves no doubt where it is and what it means.


Her web site also offers a short quiz to sort people as to their vulnerability to food addiction.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Follow up on starting a Bob or Favorites list now

I personally am not attracted to recording every book I have read.  For me, there is too much variation between one book and another.  I retain personal permission to stop at any point with any book.  Also, to resume or repeat reading at any point in any book at any time. It is my reading after all and my time and my life.


When I finished "My Life with Bob" on Kindle yesterday, I got an immediate invitation to comment on the book on a Kindle page.  I also got an email from "Goodreads" asking if I wanted to rate the book and giving me comments others had made on the book.  I found that distasteful, intrusive and way premature. I immediately unsubscribed from that business!


I might take a month to feel out what I got from a book, where I have grown from it, where I have been hurt by it, where and what I disagree with, what I want to look into further and follow up on.  Mind you, all of that is temporary and I know it is.  Two years from now, I may find I have gone over and over what the book said, or failed to say, or said provocatively.  On the other hand, it is very likely that I will have totally forgotten about the book.   


I did teach a good course that reviewed the books read by the students at any time in their lives.  Naturally the question arose: What books had I read?  Where was my list?  I have a long list but it was books that I thought would be of interest to teachers, perhaps enriching their thinking, their lives and their teaching.  Here is a link to the list I used in my classes:

https://sites.google.com/site/kirbyvariety/reading-list-1983


That list is pretty old so the books on it are pretty old.  Of course, the Bible is pretty old and so is "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876), depending on what you mean by "old".  With books, old can be ok, good even.  However, what was available in 1983 is not what was available later.  So, I made a second list:

https://sites.google.com/site/kirbyvariety/recent-reading-2011


You may or may not find it useful to look over those lists or to make your own.

Starting B.O.B. later

I continue being surprised by how good the book by Pamela Paul is.  The book's title is a bit long and awkward: "My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Tracks Books, Plot Ensues".  In conversations with friends, I refer to the book as Life with Bob.  The author never uses periods but she is writing about B.O.B., a Book of Books, a list of books she has read.  


She really covers many angles related to reading: different types of books, with whole chapters on catching a minute here and there to read, being urged by Dad to read this but not wanting to, urging one's daughter to read what was so great, so very GREAT when you were her age, many angles and experiences with one's mind, feelings and books.  Most people have not kept such a list and for me, doing so would be something of a chore.


I think you can have fun with thinking about your reading even if you haven't kept such a list.  The most fun class I taught was "Personal Reading for Professional Development", a graduate class for experienced, licensed teachers.  I knew I could take a book like "Rapid Viz" by Hanks and Belliston and concentrate on applying the ideas of the book to the various kinds of teaching the students normally did.  But that would be another, rather typical focused approach.  It would be yet another time when the instructor said to the students they needed this book, book X.


What if we step back for reading and consciously pause, to consider what we have read?  I don't expect to be able to remember all the books any more than I can remember all the meals or for that matter all the breaths.  But I didn't cook all the meals and there were so many indistinguishable breaths.  I carried all the books here and there, I held the books in my hand, even the Kindle books.  I turned the pages.  I passed tests on them. What of them remains in my mind?


So, the students turned to listing books they could remember reading.  The usual format was author's name and title.  With modern software, it is easy to copy the list and play with it if desired.  It is surely easy to alphabetize the list by name and/or title. However, I urged the students to simply list the books as they came to mind.  At first, it is common to feel that you know you have read, did read, many books but what were they?  Then, as your memory unfolds a little and associations rise, you can remember "Woman Wanted" and "Skinwalker" and other goodies.


Preserve the original order, even if you play with a copy.  It may be fun.  Use a spreadsheet or other software that will enable quick, easy copying and quick easy alphabetization.  You can add labels in another column and compare category sizes: more bodice rippers or more murders?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What should we learn? What should we know?

Yesterday's blog title included the words "body and mind".  I had been planning to write some about the 'wisdom of the body and the mind', a subject I have heard of but don't know much about.  It is possible that the process of maturing naturally opens our bodies and our minds to certain types of wisdom, such as more patience with ourselves and others.  I suppose one can think of aging and maturation as very similar things.


The philosophy group asked me to prepare a theme for a discussion.  I wrote up this page https://sites.google.com/site/kirbyvariety/phil-discussion-5-19-17


As it says, about the time I began thinking about a good theme, a friend mentioned starting an online high school.  I imagine that if you looked at all the approaches currently being used for a curriculum, you would see a wide variety.  At the same time, it seems to me that we have little evidence of what pays off as content in the K-12 years of school.  Many educators have proposed projects of both individual and group goals that may allow students to gain multiple kinds of knowledge and skills while working.  The book "Summerhill" describes this sort of learning approach well as does the movie "A Town Torn Apart."


We can all remember learning subjects or skills that we know were difficult and demanding to learn but have not been of conscious use since.  The 1938 book "The Saber Tooth Curriculum" depicts detailed lessons in saber tooth tiger hunting despite the fact the cats are extinct.


One answer is "know everything", keep learning all your life.  Another is "Google it and go to the library for what you can't find".  The book "Too Big to Know" is about the current internet and the knowledge that is strewn all over it.  There is too much to know.


An old argument, more than a century, continues between those who feel careful training for a particular job is the answer while the other side maintains that a "liberal" education in the basics, with maybe a major and minor thrown it will be more helpful, especially as particular jobs get out of date and/or taken by robots.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday morning with body and mind


Saturday often turns out to be the time of the week that I am most behind in writing.  I like to send out a post around 6:30 each morning, one written the afternoon before.  Sometimes a given post has inspired quite a lot of thought and frequently one or more Google searches.  But Friday is often a day of special events and Saturday morning rolls around, as this one has, without a post being written.  

I get more email stuff than I read, almost of of it writing that I have requested.  The email that comes with a given person's name attached is a small portion, 25% or less, of what comes in.  The New Yorker, the Wharton School of Finance, Google News, the Pew Foundation, the Brookings Institution, Stevens Point Journal - they and more have multiple writers that produce well-written statements, messages and articles regularly.  There is a ton of good stuff but often I am simply not in the mood to read it or I am concentrating on something else.  Most of what I skip or delete, I can recover if it suddenly turns out that I need it or want it.

Most Fridays I meet with a few retired professor friends to discuss one or more philosophical questions or issues, often having to do with religion.  I did that yesterday.  I am trying to get through Pamela Paul's "My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues" while continuing to get some exercise in.  We both enjoy some streamed cable television in the evenings and that takes an hour or so.  So, as for many other people, there is a great deal going on.  

I haven't mentioned my excellent son-in-law's birthday (You should be so lucky as to have such a guy in your family!), the particular theme of yesterday's philosophy group, the endlessly hot issue of national American politics, Lynn's horrible accident with her contribution to the food for the Gallery Q reception, and several other topics that you really need to know about.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A putty knife of one's own

There is that famous set of talks delivered to women college students in Britain in 1928 by Virginia Woolf called "A Room of One's Own".  I consider my wife a modern woman and more, but I was still surprised when she said,"I want a putty knife of my own."  


We have a putty knife and I rarely use it.  I have never used it with putty but we generally keep it in my tool box but sometimes elsewhere.  "Why do you want a putty knife? I asked, thinking ours was too little or too big or too ugly or something.  "'So I will know where mine is", she answered.


She is getting into slab building.  It seems to be a grownup version of what we did in art class: roll the clay out into a flat sheet and make what you want of it.  She wants to make bigger, flashier things.  Enough with pots and bowls and dishes.  


She is also getting into textures.  For instance, get a plastic "knit" bag of oranges, dump the fruit and press the bag into clay.  Makes a nice pattern.  Same thing with rug backing or some jewelry.  It is art, Buddy, and art is everywhere.


"A Room of One's Own" is a bookstore in Madison, WI, home of strong liberal thought.  The talks and subsequent print (available free to whoever looks it up in Google in a PDF download) was aimed at getting rid of the idea that boys should be educated but not girls.  I think boys need an education but all of us, the whole society, the whole civilization needs girls to be educated.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Softly

I had never heard of "soft close".  Have you?  It is a type of hinge for a kitchen cabinet door.  If you have soft close hinges, the doors will slowly and gently close unless they are opened very widely.  Widely open, they stay open but left on something of an angle, the doors will slowly (and at first, eerily) close.  Seeing several cabinet doors closing on their own is a sight to behold.


I am reminded of a moment in the play "No Time for Sergeants" when an over-zealous private tried to dress up the latrine by installing a lever so that a row of toilet seats could be made to rise in unison to "salute" the incoming inspecting officer.


I had never paid much attention to cabinet doors in the kitchen or bathroom.  If you imagine your kitchen with all the doors gone, you understand how much the doors add to an appearance of quiet, clean order.  Our doors are getting older and recently, some of the most used ones failed to close properly or to hang right.  Gaping, sagging doors spoil the appearance of the kitchen, too.


I like to close the cabinet doors when I finish putting things in or out.  I am surprised at how persistent my hands are at trying to close the doors immediately instead of letting the soft close hinge do its work.  Like the bigger, older door closers on screen and storm doors, the soft close works on an air chamber, slowly letting air out to close.


Now, I have to pay attention to which doors I am using.  Some of our other cabinets throughout the house have the older hinges and need to be closed, softly please, all the way by hand.  Yes, it's old fashioned but I can still do it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bobbing thru

Once in a while, I get a book that is really good.  Such as "Life with Bob: Heroine Keeps Track of Books, Plot Ensues" by Pamela Paul.  Paul is the editor of the New York Review of Books and editor of all book coverage in the New York Times.  


You probably know that one version of a basic education is "readin', riting' and 'rithmetic."  Reading comes first and reading can fill your life and your mind.  So, by the time you reach 40 years old, you have done plenty of reading if you are the typical, modern, literate person.  In school, including grad school, we often pick some books that we think will add to your life and understanding of yourself and the world.  We tell the student to read the books and write about them.  Ten years later, a person might not be able to remember if they went to grad school, much less what books they were supposed to read there.


Some teachers have earned many grad credits and read many books. Those same students have years of experience teaching their subjects.  So, I wanted to take some time with them and use it to ask them to think back over the books they have read and see what they feel is a summation of their reading experience.  I wrote about teaching a review of one's reading here: http://fearfunandfiloz.blogspot.com/2016/10/my-favorite-book-and-other-winners.html


Pamela Paul kept Bob, her book of books, a list of what she read.  In our class, we thought back over what we had read, starting with The Pokey Little Puppy and The Story of Ferdinand the Bull all the way to Multivariate Statistical Analysis.  After a few days of remembering, and rooting around in old books and notes, we thought of a few more.  Often, looking over somebody else's list, we remembered that we too had read Forever Amber or Peyton Place.


I recommend Paul's book.  It is a great way to stir up memories of childhood reading, teen reading, and all the reading since.  It is also a way to live as a sister to 7 siblings, all boys, in a house with limited funds, to go to college as a wannabee writer, as a visiting college student in a French household - a chance to meet an interesting person and rather quickly live through another life.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Uplifting!

According to the calendar, we are past the midpoint of spring but according to the gardening data, we have not reached the high level of safety for avoiding frosts.  The trees and bushes are cautious.  Most are at least into early leaf but it is early in the season for plants.


File_000.jpeg


I took this picture on Saturday.  I expected the riding mower to disturb the petals nicely scattered across the ground and it did.  Small fruit trees in full blossom make me think of brides and weddings. Of course, the trees and other plants have their own sense of what to do when.  It is still two weeks before the traditional summer begins for many resorts and parks, "Memorial Day to Labor Day".

Monday, May 15, 2017

"Frexit" shows human powers

"The Invisible History of the Human Race", "The 10,000 Year Explosion" and "A Troublesome Inheritance" are three books that got me interested in what I learned to call "prehistory".  Whether it is "pre" or continuous history, it is fun to learn about what our ancestors did, how they lived, and how they managed to advance in the ways they did.  Frans de Waal in "Our Inner Ape" states his opinion that the main force for humans (N= 7.5 Billion) instead of chimps (N=40,000) was monogamy.  I don't know enough about either human or chimp sexual relations but it may well be so. Evidently, the practice of monogamy increases our awareness of who is related to us in ways that chimps lose track of more quickly that we tend to.


When we think of human powers, the first idea that comes up is often "intelligence", whatever that is.  "The 10,000 Year Explosion" says that the last 10,000 years saw the beginnings of both agriculture and writing.  But what has gotten to be a headline with me is "language" and its cousin, "communication".  Vocabulary, or what words I can say or write that have meaning for you and vice versa, is a big factor in what we can communicate to each other.


I noticed that the word "Frexit" seems to have become intelligible to people over there and over here without much difficulty.  It is based on the word Brexit, which I just learned was derived from Grexit, a noun referring to the question of whether Greece would leave the European Union.  I am not familiar with the debates, the forces, the position, the demands made back and forth over Greek finances, nor the British proposal to leave the European Union.  Still, when I see the word "Frexit", I know it refers to the French leaving the European Union.


The book "What Hath God Wrought" explains the recurrent battles, arguments and threats to break apart the US federation.  As soon as some arrangement or some ego gets bruised, the idea can occur to somebody to by God leave the encumbering arrangement.  


I think the word Frexit being so quickly constructed and so easily used is an example of humankind showing its ability to make use of sights and sounds to convey ideas and feelings.  I try to stay aware of the need for food, air, water and other material things that we physical creatures need but it is amazing how much we can do with our shared and interconnected minds.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

A good day to think of our own mothers, too

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

I have gone to quite a few retirements lately

I like to say that beginning retirement is the beginning of being independently wealthy.  It can be, but that idea depends on having enough money to be retired without working.  I said that to one retiree recently and got the answer that the couple might be entering poverty.


I guess that people may get jobs, part-time or full-time, after reaching retirement age.  I read a statement by Peter Drucker, the management specialist, that estimated 65 was too young a retirement age for society to survive.  He thought more people would have to work until 70 and that was before the steady decline in the birthrate that the US is experiencing.  


The data I have seen indicates that most people have inadequate savings or other plans for retirement.  To me, the main question is what does a person want to do if not work?  I can certainly understand if "work" means a job or a life that is not satisfactory.  Maybe for some people, an advanced age might be a time when retraining or further education could open doors to a new sort of occupation.  My experience is that few people who have worked their entire adult lives have much of a sense of what life without a job will be like.  "What are you going to do with yourself?" is not a small question and it is not a laughing matter.  


The most common answer I have heard is 'travel'.  Often, travel out of the US is seen as attractive and I can understand that it is something people want, especially if they haven't tried it.  However, there is a limit to the thrill and the danger and discomfort and expense can be a turnoff.


I haven't applied for any jobs and I imagine I am too old for serious consideration for many openings.  But I am tempted to try financial work or more teaching or some data analysis or computing, especially on a part-time basis.

Friday, May 12, 2017

why two copies?

My friend wondered if the 2nd copy of today's blog would include pictures of his face and mine, two handsome older men.  But this morning's original message was held up by a glitch.  I did get a message saying the original would be sent when possible.  I checked later and didn't see it so I sent a 2nd copy.  Then, the glitch must have been corrected and bingo!  Two copies.

Bill

Beautiful old men

I often see older men and women that I think are strikingly good-looking. You may have heard of the Japanese art Wabi-Sabi

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#newwindow=1&q=wabi+sabi

in which "imperfect" things and old, used things and weathered things are treasured, as I think they should be. I can see all sorts of beauty and wisdom in older women but women specialize in personal beauty and attractiveness.  Old men are often beautiful, too.  See below.  It takes decades of living to produce these faces.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Get it?

Teachers know about memorizing.  What day of the year is the anniversary of Dwight David Eisenhower's birth?  President Ike was born on Oct. 14, in the year 1890.  But a student who only speaks Greek could learn to say "Oct. 14" without having the slightest idea of what he is saying or what it means to a typical American speaker of English.  


In a sense, memorization can be almost the opposite of genuine understanding.  Some school and knowledge traditions have over-emphasized the value of verbatim repetition of a fact or principle.  The verification of deeper understanding is difficult. What your mother and your daughter understand about "proper dress" might be quite different and it could possibly take a long conversation between the two to lay out what each understands and how they differ.


When I look up "understand", I get these meanings and synonyms:

perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or speaker).

"he didn't understand a word I said"

  • perceive the significance, explanation, or cause of (something).

  • "i'm not sure I understood much about the situation in the region"

  • synonyms:

  • comprehend, grasp, take in, see, apprehend, follow, make sense of, fathom; More

  • unravel, decipher, interpret;

  • Informal figure out, work out, make head(s) or tail(s) of, get one's head around, get the drift of, catch on to, get;

  • Informal twig

  • "he couldn't understand anything we said"

  • be sympathetically or knowledgeably aware of the character or nature of.

  • "Picasso understood color"

    • synonyms:

  • appreciate, recognize, realize, acknowledge, know, be aware of, be conscious of; More

  • Informal be wise to;

  • Formal be cognizant of

  • "she understood how hard he'd worked"

  • interpret or view (something) in a particular way.

  • "as the term is usually understood, legislation refers to regulations and directives"

  • 2.

    infer something from information received (often used as a polite formula in conversation).

    "I understand you're at art school"

    regard (a missing word, phrase, or idea) as present; supply mentally.

    ""present company excepted" is always understood when sweeping generalizations are being made"

    assume to be the case; take for granted.

    "he liked to play the field—that was understood"

    synonyms:believe, gather, take it, hear (tell), notice, see, learn;


    It is difficult to explore the understanding in another person's head.  The best way I know is to ask the person to explain their understanding, using several different sets of words to paraphrase a definition.  


    You can see the problem: I understand if I perceive the intended meaning.  Heck, much of the time, I don't know just what I intend to convey when I say something.  I have a general idea but when I hear what you say you think I mean, I have to call a halt and try again.  When I said, "Let's have lunch", I didn't mean you should prepare a meal and I didn't mean we should wine and dine at a fancy place.  I meant "Let's grab a burger."  Get it?


    Wednesday, May 10, 2017

    Fwd: A weird buddy film about meditation

    It is not weird.  Harris and Goldstein are both valuable and helpful.  Harris's book "10% Happier" and all the Goldstein books and sources can enrich your life and ability to think about yourself, your life and your existence.  I was tickled and intrigued to find that there is an app called 10% Happier and I enrolled in notifications about materials aimed at helping improve one's meditation.  This is a good one and it is short.  I wrote a short reaction of my own and posted it here:

    From: Team from 10% Happier <team@10-happier.intercom-mail.com>
    Date: Tue, May 9, 2017 at 9:02 AM
    Subject: A weird buddy film about meditation




    Now, for part two of the weirdest buddy film since Schwarzenegger and DeVito did that movie where they played twins... a preview from another course in the 10% Happier App, 'Pro Tips with JG'. 

    Watch for free: The Wandering Mind

    Dan Harris and Joseph Goldstein are back together, and Joseph tackles some of the most common questions from beginning meditators, and then shares a bunch of useful tools and tips he's learned after nearly five decades of meditating. These strategies will take your meditation game to the next level.

    For this and more, you can subscribe in the 10% Happier app.

    Unsubscribe from our emails
    intercom

    Tuesday, May 9, 2017

    Art, hobby or marketing?

    Art, hobby or marketing?  I am already overweight so I don't need more food.  I drink enough water and coffee and alcohol and my car runs well.  My roof is in good shape and the furnace is fine.  I have taken trips recently and I get good tv programming every night.  What do I need money for?  


    Yet, if I am not awake and aware, I can slide into capitalistic activities.  Ending workday teaching and online teaching left me with more time.  One way to try to stay alert to how I pass the time and what events come along is to write something each day.  If I write intelligently and maybe humorously, the writing might be of interest to others.  These days, it is easy and inexpensive to publish writing so I blog.  


    I like Google and my experience using their programs.  I don't have any doubts that Gmail and Search and Blogger and Drive and Docs and Sheets and Form and Slides and Photos and Voice and News and Translate are terrific and my current way of living owes plenty to them and their parent companies.  In addition to Google, there are many ways to write and publish, not even counting the traditional way of contacting a book publisher or publishers of magazines or newspapers.

    https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#newwindow=1&q=how+can+I+write+a+blog


    Whether you are a writer, blogger or potter like my wife, there are many ways to sell your productions.  It can be seductive to "measure" performance, as with Google Blogger's pageview statistics.  So far today, Google reports 166 viewers of my blog in Russia, 15 in France and 1 in India.  Since there are well over a billion Indians and another billion Chinese, I have a long way to go to attract more Indian and Chinese readers.  But the thing is I am not trying to attract them or anybody else.  I want to continue to write to examine my daily life (inside my head and outside).  


    Lynn makes bowls and ceramics:

    IMG_0150.JPG


    She likes to.  But her wares take up room and she also likes the compliment and the lift she gets when someone buys her creations.  Both of us could begin concentrating on getting more audience or more sales.  We could develop "metrics', measures that we strive to increase: more sales, more viewers.  She could turn from the playful exploration of pottery possibilities to watching sales and planning more attractive products to sell more.


    There is a steady possibility of switching from fun to money and people in a position to stay with fun and exploration are relatively few.

    Monday, May 8, 2017

    Sights and symbols

    Because I read and think, I believe it is good for me to try at times throughout the day to concentrate on what is happening where I am.  What do I see?  What do I hear?


    A major purpose for these blog posts is to consider my experiences.  They don't have to be experiences outside my mind.  I can include ideas, ruminations and other thoughts but being a book guy, an idea guy, a language guy, I want to pay at least some attention to the world around me: cooking, shopping, visiting, housekeeping types of things.  I know about the retina story, the facts that my head and eyes take a moment to process sights and sounds, that by the time I realize I see you, hear the song, taste the food, it is already a processed experience about something a little bit past.  But for the typical day, what I see and hear and taste is close enough to actual physical naive reality. Especially so for a guy who can slip back into his head quickly and comfortably.


    I try to ask myself what has been happening.  I look at scenes in my mind and make a note of each theme.  What surprised me today was the relative  speeds of memory and association.  Yesterday, I cut the grass for the first time this year.  When I try, I can think of what I did and what I experienced but I have to work at it.  But, a theme or idea can take off much faster that I collect recalled memories of actual experience.


    File_000.jpeg


    An idea "takes off" by association with other ideas.  Today's idea for this post is the relative speed with which associations spring up with further associations and connections spring from those, filling the mental space with both pictures and words.  Professors and other thinkers practice stimulating associations and using them to lead off to new lines of thought.  Besides, maybe older people can associate quickly and comfortably, having used their heads for a long time.

    Sunday, May 7, 2017

    Went to the School of Education banquet

    I hadn't been in 10 years.  The last time I went, I hadn't been retired for very long. I attended college to become a teacher and I taught the fifth grade for four years.  On my way to get a master's degree, I entered a PhD program in educational research, statistics and testing.  I taught in the School of Education for 37 years.


    Nationally, we are entering a period of big data and artificial intelligence, probably to be applied throughout society.  I had long thought that teachers and school administrators would benefit from having plenty of data on students and good analysis of that data.  From what I have heard of artificial intelligence, I can imagine that the right applications of it in schools could be very helpful.  


    When you think about what is needed for a good education for an American child/teen/young adult, it helps very much to think of what teachers call "individualization". That boils down to paying attention to the particular strengths, weaknesses and background of each student.  However, many students have wonderful educational experiences with teachers who don't know them very well.  When we think of good education, we almost always think about learning: what did the student learn?  How deeply, thoroughly did the student learn?  These sorts of questions lead us to think that learning the material is what school is about, what the student should do.  


    Yet, it is well-known that much of what we learned and passed tests on in school is not used in later life.  Much of the material is never called upon or brought to mind, much less applied.  There is ample evidence that schooling matters a great deal so why it matters and just what about matters is something of a mystery.  Asking what is the best education compares to asking what is the best marriage or the best occupation.  A major intellectual stumbling block to answering such questions definitively is that we only live once.  We only go through our learning years once and none of us is a duplicate of anyone else.  We have established that child abuse, deep poverty, bullying, poor nutrition damage students and lead to inferior results.  But it does appear that the range of supportive, helpful possibilities is very broad.

    Saturday, May 6, 2017

    Gold from air

    We watch the tv show Bones so we are used to seeing putrified, rotting corpses, with snakes and bugs crawling in and out of the eyes and such.  The show is based on the books and experiences of Kathy Reichs, a real-life forensic anthropologist. That is the type of person who examines bones and other body parts to find cause of death and pin down when, how and by whose hand someone died.  The show features some innocents finding a decayed body.  We have learned that the expected thing to do when you come across a corpse is to begin screaming at the top of your lungs.  We haven't put that into practice but we doubt such behavior will be of much help to us or the deceased.


    You may have read that scientists recently extracted human DNA from the soil in a cave where people lived at various times for millennia.  Among people who work on human remains and try to put together a picture of our ancestors and how and where they lived, this is a very big deal.  Until now, real honest-to-God bones were the thing.  Skin and organs deteriorate or get eaten but bones can last and last.  So, extracting DNA from bones was developed.  


    A scientist was quoted as saying that extracting DNA from soil was like finding that gold can be extracted from the air.

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