Monday, August 29, 2016

no more homework

As many schools start their year this week, one in Holyoke, Massachusetts, is doing away with an educational staple: homework.
Like other schools in the district, the day at the Kelly School, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade, will be two hours longer next year. But then students are done.
Principal Jackie Glasheen says research is mixed on the benefits of homework and students will get more out of extra time with teachers than trying to do assignments at home.
Or, how about reinstituting the honorable decision implied by the letter, "F?"

Or, asking why, when shit flows downhill in the classroom, it seems invariably to leave the teachers gasping for air?

lightning kills 323 reindeer

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- More than 300 wild reindeer have been killed by lighting in central Norway.
The Norwegian Environment Agency has released eerie images showing a jumble of reindeer carcasses scattered across a small area on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. The agency says 323 animals were killed, including 70 calves, in the lightning storm Friday.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

La Bohème

Ran across the following bit of "La Bohème" and, despite the French subtitles and my not actually knowing the story being laid out, still, since I can close my eyes and let my bones melt like butter, here it is:

the exception/rule, rule/exception

Thinking about schooling yesterday, it occurred to me that almost every parent's premise is "my child is special." Perhaps it is woven into the DNA. It is, or may be, the rule: The rule being, my child is the exception.

Currently on the political stage, Donald Trump is the exception ... or anyway he is sometimes portrayed that way. But I think that Donald Trump may be more interesting not because he is the exception but because he is the rule... and that tar brush comes up and slaps me in the face.

The rule and the exception.

Funny the effects that occur when the word "exception" is substituted for the word "rule."

And vice-versa.

"Does Knowledge Matter..."

"... in the Age of Google?"

Article in The Guardian. The comments are interesting.

seeds of the future

Passed along in email:
A Russian team discovered a seed cache of Silene stenophylla, a flowering plant native to Siberia, that had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel near the banks of the Kolyma River (map). Radiocarbon dating confirmed that the seeds were 32,000 years old.
The mature and immature seeds, which had been entirely encased in ice, were unearthed from 124 feet (38 meters) below the permafrost, surrounded by layers that included mammoth, bison, and woolly rhinoceros bones.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

charter schools courtesy of John Oliver

Yes, it's biased as hell ... and from where I sit, that is precisely what the facts warrant. Public funds are used to prop up private enterprise on the basis that the quality of public education -- so often mired in sluggishness and parental unwillingness/inability -- will improve.

Yes, it's got facets. Yes, it's intricate. And yes public schools certainly could use some innovation and uplift. But because Charter Schools trim already-stretched public resources based on promises that seem to have little foundation in overarching proof, it really is time to suggest that the emperor's new clothes, where they exist at all, are tattered at best.

It's hard not to say, "C'mon, guys: If you want an easy pay day, plug into the Pentagon budget and stop giving our kids an equal ignorance-ation." Not least among the galling aspects of it all is the touchy-feely, yuppy-drippy, caramel lingo of the guys and gals in nice clothes who give TED talks and fuck others without a backward glance.

As I say, it's not an easy listen, but it is worth listening to.


Some say that love
Brings things together.
But I'd say love
Blows things apart.

Think "smithereens" and
You'll get my drift.
Love blows things apart:
Endlessly, minutely, hugely.

After such an uncoupling of all things
What else could there be?
A coming-together
Can have my vote.

Coming together
Only this time
There is no


Friday, August 26, 2016

Bob Hope and Jimmy Cagney

Ran into this again today.

Back in the day when actors learned many abilities and did not lean so much on stand-ins, there were skill sets like tap dancing ... as here with Jimmy Cagney and Bob Hope, two men whose careers generally took them away from the dance floor:

a little crazy company

Based on some non-specific emails, I gather some fellow plans to take me up on an offer for a cup of coffee this Sunday. He wrote to ask about the zendo. I told him its days were mostly in the rear-view mirror but if he wanted to stop by for coffee, that would be pleasant.


I once read a slim book called "The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment" by Thaddeus Golas. It was an easy read, accessible both by language and length. All I can remember reom its pages (and that only approximately) is, "When you learn to love hell, you will be in heaven." Short 'n' sweet, right?

At about the same time I read that, I was also reading books that were positively viscous with the twinkling facets and disciplines of Buddhism. They were the mirror image of short 'n' sweet. No matter: I gobbled the one; I gobbled the other. Which had more effect, I haven't got a clue.

Funny how the gathering and collating and ingesting and digesting of spiritual writings can be useful and simultaneously have about the usefulness of a fart in a wind storm.

Either way -- short, long, bright as a penny or dulled as old copper -- still, what counts is what anyone is willing to do about it. No criticism, just fact: Put up or shut up. Get it right; get it wrong -- put up or shut up.

I guess people get together as much as anything in spiritual endeavor to prove to themselves that they are not starkers ... or, if they are, at least they have company.