Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Booknote: Reading Oprah

Title: Reading Oprah: How Oprah's Book Club Changed the Way America Reads
Author: Cecilia Konchar Farr
Publication Information: New York: SUNY Press, 2005
ISBN: 0-7914-6258-7
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Reading and books
Pages: 164, including appendixes and index

This book is a fast read, but only because after a while it gets repetitive, and you can pretty much skim your way to the end. If you like Oprah, this is definitely a book you will want to read. If on the other hand, you do not care for Oprah, then the author's lavish praises of Oprah's genius at creating a book club will get tiresome. On the positive side, the author gives Oprah credit for getting a lot of women to read. Yes, women. The readers of the club are pretty much the women who watch the show. Oprah gets credit for getting them not only to read, but to read good literature. Well, good literature if you keep in mind that the books on her list are the books that Oprah chose, and that they are not without their flaws, which the author points out, but usually in the context of her students mentioning such and her pretty much saying they are not savvy enough to know. Readers should also keep in mind that the author teaches a course on Oprah Books. Additionally, the book mostly focuses on the first form of the Book Club. As readers may know, Oprah took a hiatus, then came back with a new version emphasizing classics of literature.

On the positive, Oprah is given credit by the author for getting the women of her club to read critically. Oprah is portrayed as this teacher who manages to get women to read these complex works of literature. By literature, we mean contemporary literary fiction. There is no room here for any genre fiction, which right away alienates readers like me who read things like science fiction and can argue it can be of as much if not better quality than things on Oprah's list. However, that would be a different discussion. By reading critically, the author means talking about the books and looking both at the issues a book presents as well as the book as art and craft. Also, Oprah is shown as making a smart move by having Toni Morrison as her mentor when it came to teaching about literature. The author does see what Oprah did with the club as a form of teaching. I think that may be open to debate, but I am a male reader, which pretty much leaves me out of the target demographic. Also, between the passages about the club, the author provides discussions on the history of the novel and on book clubs, which I found interesting and learned a thing or two. The book also discusses briefly how the book publishing world works. It is worthy to note that Oprah does not make any money from her book list or recommendations. The publishers are the ones who reap a lot of benefit when a book that would sell only a few thousand copies can suddenly have a run in the hundreds of thousands of copies.

On the negative side, the author points out that these books were Oprah's choices. In other words, the books she likes to read. Very often, this translates to books about women who usually face some problem or issue and then overcome it. The author shows how the chosen books often echo aspects of Oprah's own life and of her show. For instace, she cites D.T. Max, a writer for the New York Times who wrote about the club. He said that fans "are looking for her [Oprah] in the books she gives them to read" (qtd. in 64-65). She goes on to ask if the question is whether Oprah and the books she chooses are nothing more than the latest form of the Horatio Alger stories, only this time for women. I think many readers will answer yes. There are other issues. For instance, the author tells how the book discussions in the studio seemed to usually be stacked with readers who faced a certain issue, for example divorcees or victims of domestic abuse. This often meant that the actual book discussion was shorter as the issue of the day took precedence. This is seen as a reflection of the show itself. However, the author seems to ignore these and other criticisms, or at least minimize them. This passage is a good example of what I mean:

"Sure, Oprah's status as a celebrity leads viewers to dwell on her rags-to-riches story. Sure, her ratings numbers demand confession and easy affirmation, and her format requires a carefully organized and coherent one-hour program. And sure, her commitment to self-improvement leades her to overemphasize this aspect of novels. But despite it all, Winfrey does good work with the Book Club, work professional educators and critics have failed to do on a scale anywhere near this one" (72).

It did strike me a bit condescending, maybe because I was a teacher and taught literature at one point. I don't think I was a total failure, and I don't think many teachers out there are failures either because they have smaller audiences and the more restricted classroom space. I do note that the author does not include herself in this, after all, she teaches a course on this. What I am trying to say is that I get the impression she dimisses the objections too easily. It is true that Oprah has done some positive things with the Book Club, but dismissing the criticism because of those good things is just an easy way out. I know by typing this I will probably incur the wrath of some fan who may read this, but I am not too worried in that area. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the points of praise get repetitive after a while, so halfway through the book, you pretty much know what the rest will be. I think this could have been done as an extended paper or presentation.

Additionally, for readers wondering what the deal was with Jonathan Franzen, winner of the National Book Award and author of The Corrections, when Oprah chose his book for the Book Club, it is explained here. Pretty much it boils down to the author felt uncomfortable, and Oprah withdrew the invitation so as not to make him uncomfortable. He made some remarks about some of Oprah's other book choices, which were not exactly nice; he saw them as "light" to put it mildly. The media ran with it.

Overall, I think that fans will love this book, and detractors will likely see the negatives more without seeing the positive. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that as a reader, the types of books on Oprah's list are not what I read in terms of my preferences. I have only read two authors on her list. One was Toni Morrison; I read Beloved for a class in graduate school, and I actually like some of Toni Morrison's work, heavy as it can be. The other was Isabel Allende (not "Isabelle" like Professor Farr seems to think. Either she does not know how to spell the author's name or her proofreader did not catch it. Actually, this book has quite a few typos like that. Robert Ludlum's name is also mispelled as Ludlam. I found such little carelessness distracting when reading). I read Daughter of Fortune, which was an Oprah pick, but I did so before it became a pick; I have been reading Allende for years, thanks to my mother who is a big fan. Allende writes beautifully. In terms of what do I read, in brief, I read in genres, science fiction being both a personal and an academic interest, and a lot of nonfiction. Down the road, I am planning on posting my reader profile, a reader's advisory exercise, but for now, this will have to do. For readers more interested in what I read, I have written a reflection here and there. Here is one about librarian reading. Overall, I recommend the book, but with some reservations. Public librarians who do a lot of reader's advisory and likely have to be very familiar with Oprah's list may want to read this book. For academic study, this book probably needs to be balanced with other works, such as Kathleen Rooney's Reading with Oprah: The Book that Changed America. I have not read that book yet, but our library ordered along with Farr's book. If I read it, I will post a note as well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Experimenting with

(Cross-posted from The Gypsy Librarian)

Readers can note that I have placed a small link to my page on the side column under links. There is not many things yet, but it seems to be slowly growing. At the moment, I am trying out as a way to back up bookmarks I have on my computer. It seems to be ok so far. I have not gone about trying the other social things yet, but we'll see. In the meantime, it seems it can certainly work as a good reference tool of things I want to keep track of.

Plagiarism, you need more than technology to counter it

Through the Kept-Up Librarian, a link to a small article from the BBC News about plagiarism and software. The article reports on the work of Professor Jean Underwood of Nottingham Trent University. The professor argues that parents and teachers have to show students what constitutes plagiarism. Technology is not the solution to every problem. True, there are some tools out there to help detect plagiarism, but there are also a ton of tools to help students plagiarize, including paper mills where papers can be be bought. Professor Underwood also points out the problem of parents who do the work for their children. This is something commonly faced by public school teachers: over-eager parents. Some do the work for their kids thinking there is nothing wrong with giving Susie a little extra help; others actually do it knowing it is wrong but not caring, which makes me wonder what kind of message does that send a child? Back when I was a student, plagiarizing in any form was seen as stealing. Period. This was non-negotiable. You got caught, and you got a failing a grade along with the shame that you got caught. I guess things are not so black and white these days when it comes to cheating and plagiarism.

This article made me think a little because recently I put together a little guide on plagiarism resources for students. While it was something on my mind, I will admit it was not on the top of my to do list. However, some events moved it to the top of my list. Basically, the faculty were requesting something to "send their students to so they could learn about plagiarism." No need to go into the details; the basic idea was to have something the teachers could put in their syllabi and thus cover the topic. An optimist would say this was wonderful, that the faculty are attempting to address the problem. The pessimist would see it as the faculty just covering themselves, as having something to link to so when anything happens, they can say, "you had the information." I fall a little towards the pessimistic side, maybe because I have seen faculty once too often simply want a magic bullet, something that will simply detect plagiarism anytime by typing something somewhere. And I am not saying this necessarily as a librarian, but as a former composition teacher (high school and college).

Confronting plagiarism, or any other form of cheating, is not a pleasant experience. Having to make sure to put together the proof before confronting a student, then the confrontation, and then letting the consequences take course are all parts any teacher would soon rather avoid. And I will tell you why. Because plagiarism and cheating are a breach of trust. As a teacher, you want to see the best in your students, and when a student pulls one of these stunts, that image is shattered. It does not matter whether they cheated out of stress, without knowing, or with all intentions to deceive. You never will see that student in the same light again even if they make up the work and start over. There is no magic bullet. It takes education at all levels--parents, teachers, and administrators--to make sure students learn what is appropriate and what is not. You can give all the information in the world, but if it is not discussed in the class, if it is not modeled, the students will not learn. This has to be a collaborative effort. The composition teachers have to address it. The librarians can help in this area by reinforcing what the teachers do and by making sure that the best information on practices is available. This can take the form of guides, workshops, online tutorials, instructional sessions, visits to the classroom, etc. This should not include for the teachers to expect the librarians to do plagiarism hunts for them. In a way, that is passing the buck in my estimation. I will not deny a small sense of bias because when I was a teacher, I was expected to gather the evidence myself. I was not expecting someone else to do it for me, and I don't think others should. However, that is my philosophy. As a teacher, you are responsible for your own students. The librarian, and also the writing center on a campus, can serve to reinforce and enhance what is taught in the classroom.

The point of the article is that technology is not the only solution. Just like educators can come up with ways to use technology to detect plagiarism, the students who want to cheat will find new ways to cheat. It's pretty much a continuing war, so the best way to counter it is through education. Give the students the tools to learn. In making a small guide in collaboration with colleagues and providing it fo faculty to put on their syllabi, I have provided a tool. The library can also educate and provide tools for faculty in order to address the issue. Librarians in positions like mine who teach can discuss these issues, provide some modeling in the classrooms, and show examples of what could be plagiarism and/or cheating. Librarians can be a substantial resource for faculty, not just in composition, but in any class that requires writing. They can be a resource for their students as well as for the faculty themselves. Our role as information experts and as educators means that we are often up-to-date on best practices and know where to find the best information and how to make sure it is good information. But it should be a collaborative effort with the welfare and learning of the students in mind. It should not be a matter of simply adding something to the curriculum in order to cover a requirement or in the hopes that the problem will somehow go away because a tutorial was made available or a guide was provided in a link as part of the syllabus. This is an active process where teachers, librarians, tutors and others come to together to educate the students. In the end, my intention was not to rant. However, I do think this is important enough that to expect for a simple technological solution is to do it a disservice. In the meantime, I will do my best to continue reaching out to students and teachers in these and other topics.

For a little further reading on this topic, Steven Bell, writing for the ACRLog, also picked up on the article and writes some observations in his post "Stopping Plagiarism Takes More than Software." Much of what he said goes along with my feelings on the topic, but in a way, I think he was much more diplomatic than I could be. A couple of points he makes are worth highlighting:
  • "Developing more creative assignments that avoid repetition, that require the use of local or locally unique resources, that call for a series of drafts, and that have higher expectations for research methods and content can all make plagiarism more difficult. But, these methods require more front-end development and greater effort from faculty. It’s certainly easier to require the same term paper assignment year in and year out, and then let a piece of software catch those who weren’t clever enough to mask their plagiarism."
    • I am going to take a risk here and say I tend to have a low opinion of teachers who simply allow themselves to give the same paper assignment every year. Yes, I know it is easy to assign the same essay every year, but you open yourself to things like plagiarism if you do. Teaching is not about complacency.
  • "Academic librarians have certainly been doing their part to combat plagiarism on their campuses. Through workshops, creative digital learning materials, and efforts to promote sensible research, we are on the frontlines of helping faculty to help our students to avoid plagiarism. But if the researcher has correctly determined that plagiarism, like many problem behaviors, must be confronted early on by parents and teachers, then we may need to realize combatting plagiarism will be an ongoing challenge."
    • I think this says it well. Librarians can and do their part, but it comes down to the teachers to do their part as well instead of expecting technology, which really savvy students can likely thwart, to do the work.
I will say I had a bit of difficulty deciding on whether to post this or not. I probably sounded a bit harsh, and I am not apologizing for that. I think some things need to be said. What I am hoping is that more people in academia will pick up on the article and carry on the conversation. I am hoping librarians will continue to be on the frontlines as Steven Bell suggests, and I am hoping that teachers will do their part as well. And I am hoping we can all work together in educating the young people who will some day be the leaders of tomorrow.

Hmm, so museum should show off its own stuff now and then

Through the Cranky Professor, a link to an article out of the Washington Post for Sunday November 27, 2005 (usual caveats about duration apply). The idea is that some museums now are beginning to give precedence to the items that they actually own. If any readers have recently been to a museum, they may have noticed the constant presence of travelling exhibits and basically materials from other places that the local museum brings in. I have been to such exhibits myself: a few years ago I went to the Star Wars one in Chicago, and recently the Lord of the Rings here in Houston. These are usually interesting and extremely popular (read crowded), and the local museum uses them as a way to increase revenue. However, this means people often forget about the stuff the museum already owns. The professor writes, "just think - no loans to arrange, no special insurance, no last-minute research on unknown pieces (well, assuming we've done our research as we go along)." It does sound like a good idea. I am not saying we should do away with special exhibits, just that some balance may be desirable.

Monday, November 28, 2005

What I was thankful for. . .

The main thing I was thankful for was family. I had the chance to be with my parents, my brother and his wife, my nephew, and my brother-in-law (my sister-in-law's brother) along with my spouse and daughter. Also, my brother's compadre (his son's godfather) and spouse were there as well. Though my parents and brother don't live that far (in Fort Worth, Texas), it does feel distant from Houston, so any chance we get to go up there is highly cherished. The nice thing about celebrating Thanksgiving in a Puerto Rican household is the food because in addition to things like turkey, we have all sorts of other dishes. For instance, instead of ham, we make a nice pork loin ("pernil," for the Spanish speakers). We also had some arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), and homemade tembleque (a type of coconut custard) for dessert. This year we had a fried turkey; my brother-in-law brought a deep fryer for the occassion. I must say it was good eating. We told jokes and stories; we laughed; we had fun; we had music. The spirit of the season was in the air. We just left Houston behind and had a great time.

My brother has a new house, and his family is expecting a new baby, due in May. He is desperately hoping for a little boy, while my mom and most the women are praying for a girl. He figures, or so my mother thinks, that he is worried he would have to actually behave decently if he has a girl. Go figure. Either way, the new family member will be welcomed and loved I am sure. So, I am thankful for that.

I am thankful that my family survived the first year down in Houston. The job has gone well, even though it had its moments (and still does), but overall, it has been and continues to be a good experience. My wife is doing well in her work, and our daughter has adjusted well to school, and she is involved in Girl Scouts as well. The part I am sure she is thankful for is the weather. I mean, it is great there are days in November you can still wear summer clothes, or so she thinks. During this year, we added to members to our family: Autumn and Isis, two kittens who are very curious, and are pretty much happy as they try to point out who really owns the apartment. I think we are reaching a happy medium.

As my father said during our prayer back home, we are thankful for our health, and we hope we will have good health in the coming year.

I am thankful for small wonders. For the fact my daughter reminds me of such small wonders. Innocence can be a wonderful thing. I am also thankful for the small wonders that some of my students show me at work. I am thankful for the opportunities to learn and grow. And I am thankful because in some small way, I have the chance to make the world a bit better than I found it.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and this past holiday was an opportunity to reflect on that and to look towards the year ahead. Now, I am not terribly religious (ok, I am almost a heathen if readers need to know), but I consider myself to be spiritual. So, in the words of one of my old scout leaders, I pray, "in the manner most convenient to each," that we will all have good health in the next year and that we can all be together one more year.

Booknote: Teachers Have It Easy

Title: Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers
Authors: Daniel Moulthrop, Nínive Clements Calegari, and Dave Eggers
Publication Information: New York: New Press, 2005
ISBN: 1-56584-955-8
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Education
Pages: 355, including notes
Similar book: Brian Crosby's The $100,000 Teacher. I have read this book (before I started blogging). Crosby does not pull punches, and he is very strong on the concept of accountability. His arguments are compelling and well-made for teachers being paid as any other professional.

* * *

Teachers Have It Easy is one of the most engaging and infuriating books I have read in a while. No, I am not furious at the authors. I am furious at the revelations of how the teachers of America are treated so poorly (to put it politely). Read this book and find out why many teachers hold down second jobs. Read the story of the brilliant teacher, loved by the school and his students, who left to sell real estate. He did not leave because he disliked teaching. On the contrary, he loves teaching, but he could not afford to stay in teaching. This book shows the shameful way in which teachers are treated.

In the introduction, the authors debunk seven myths about teachers and their pay. For example, the ever popular "teachers get the summers off." As a former public school teacher, I know this is far from the truth. However, I will let the authors speak on the topic. When it comes to summers:

  • "In order to maintain their credentials or move up the salary schedule, 23 percent of teachers must attend classes during the summer, an expense for which they are reimbursed meagerly, if at all."
  • "As much as 42 percent of teachers teach summer school or work a different, non-teaching job."
  • "Much harder to track are the hours teachers spend writing and revising curriculum for the upcoming year" (7).
The first four chapters allow the teachers to tell their stories. After that, the authors look at what truly makes effective teaching. Chapter 7 is a very insightful. Entitled "A Day in the Life," the chapter is set up as a table, hour by hour, comparing a teacher's typical day with that of a pharmaceutical sales representative. For his day, the sales representative would get $391.30; the teacher would be paid $256.00. Let's just say the chapter makes an excellent illustration of the authors' arguments.

The authors also analyze why teachers leave the profession. At the end of the book, they look at some reforms that have worked. To balance, they also explain why other short term popular reforms, like hiring teachers from places like the Phillipines to fill shortages, are doomed to fail. The chapter on reforms can actually be scanned because the authors provide a good three page summary at the end. So, for readers more interested in the basic mechanics of the programs rather than the drama behind the implementation of the reforms, the summary is good enough.

Overall, the book is highly recommended for anyone interested in education and teachers. In fact, this book should be required reading for any student or career changer considering a career in teaching public schools. The result may be that more people may choose not to go into teaching, but in my humble opinion, that may actually be a good thing. Maybe the nation needs a substantial drain of good people who can teach before people finally put their money where their mouth is. And if the argument of paying well for various reasons such as getting a better education for children and decent treatment of teachers do not convince readers, the authors also consider the economic consequences of not paying to have the best teachers possible and simply allowing the best and brightest to choose other careers. The authors do not say that better pay and better teachers are the panacea, but they demonstrate in a well-rounded argument that "spending money to find, keep, and support the best teachers is simply the most effective investment they can make in the future of their children, their communities, and their country" (287).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Facts about Thanksgiving from the Census Bureau

(Cross posted at The Gypsy Librarian)

In preparation for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, readers can go over to Census Bureau's Facts for Features page. This one contains various fun facts and figures about the holiday. For example:

"13.7 pounds
The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2003 and, if tradition be true, a hearty helping of it was devoured at Thanksgiving time. On the other hand, per capita sweet potato consumption was 4.7 pounds. (From the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006)"

I wish readers a safe travel if they are travelling and a happy holiday with family and loved ones. I will be travelling tomorrow early to be with family upstate and will be offline until the weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hmm, here is an idea: wait until the stars line up favorably

From the Eclectic Librarian, a nice idea for when you are about to snap at someone who pesters you, or when you have had enough of classes, or better yet, when you just about had it with the rudeness of some patrons. Just follow the lead of Thailand's Prime Minister, who has vowed not to speak anymore until next year because Mercury is not in a favorable position at the moment. The story itself comes from The Guardian for November 21, 2005. Actually this reminds me of a faculty member in a foreign languages department I used to work at. He was very much into astrology, and while he never took a vow of silence, he certainly worried over doing certain things on certain days if the stars were not right. I am sure he could explain to me exactly why Mercury would not be in a favorable position for the Prime Minister. I remember him because once in a while he would come "check up" on me. He knew I was a Capricorn (probably came up in casual conversation), so once in a while he would tell me to be careful of such and such on a given day. Now, before readers crack up laughing (some readers), he was very sincere, and I am sure his concern was genuine. I guess what I am trying to say was that he was moved to make sure we were ok. Hey, I need all the help I can get.

What Jedi or Sith Am I?

Being a Star Wars fan (classic being my preference), I could not resist taking this test. In a way, the result made sense because it had some questions about teaching, and for a teacher, those are a dead giveaway. Anyhow, if you are so inclined, go try it out. This was my result:


You scored 69% wisdom, 55% aggression, 67% power, and 62% morality!

One of the most powerful Jedi of all time, you possess the best of all
worlds. Your wisdom is vast and unquestioned, and you use it for good.
You are an amazingly powerful and skilled fighter, and only use
aggressiveness for battle, and only battle when necessary. Lastly, your
sense of morality is without peer. You always do what is right, and
know that the dark side is hollow and unnatural.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 41% on wisdom
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 64% on aggression
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 63% on power
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 35% on morality

Link: The Famous Jedi or Sith Test written by SarumantheMad on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Monday, November 21, 2005

Broadband Trends in the Latino Community: A Report

Through Docuticker, a link to a report from the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI). The report (in PDF), entitled "Trends and Impact of Broadband in the Latino Community," discusses how broadband has become a standard and how the Latino community has been eager to adopt it. However, it is not as easy as that given issues of inequality in terms of income and education. Some findings and statements from the report which seem interesting:

  • "These studies suggest that Hispanics who are online tend to be savvy users with high bandwidth needs (7)."
  • "Hispanics are more likely to download entertainment content and communicate via chat and IM than Internet users in general" (7-8).
  • "Conversely, Hispanics are much less likely to use the Internet as a news or media source. This may be due in part to a lack of Hispanic-oriented content. According to TRPI studies, Hispanics would spend more time online if there was more content geared to their needs, meaning online content that was culturally-specific, community-relevant and language appropriate" (8).
    • By the way, I do question this somewhat since based on experience, younger Latinos often prefer things in English language, specially if they have been raised in the United States. It does not mean they do not want things that are specific to the culture, but it does mean that often they prefer English as their language. See the next item.
  • "Non-English speaking Hispanics, who are also more likely to be less affluent, recent immigrants, and/or living in rural areas--all factors predicting lower Internet usage rates--represent an untapped market for broadband services" (8, emphasis in original).
  • "The affordability question regarding telecommunications services and devices is complex. Latino households have lower incidence of PC ownership (53.6%) than non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans, yet Latino households have higher incidence of cellular usage (76.3%) than do non-Hispanic white households" (10).
    • The report comments that Latinos will use services that make sense to them. Right now, using a cellphone is something that makes sense for staying in touch with family and business. Add to it a calling card, and calling distant relatives is easy. What this shows is that to an extent the Internet is not as relevant to them; it is not meeting their needs. Also, affordability may be an issue, especially monthly access fees. However, if they can afford cellular, it is evidence that they can likely afford the broadband (see findings above on Internet usage).
The report includes various tables and charts to support the findings. It reaches the following conclusion, which provides a good summary of the report:

"A variety of factors will need to be addressed in order to further deploy broadband services within the Hispanic community: lower prices, applications geared toward Hispanic youth and Hispanic businesses, greater accessibility to broadband service, more Spanish, bilingual and culturally-relevant online content, and continuing to drive home the value of computers and the Internet to Hispanics who are not yet online along with training and e-literacy programs" (17).

Now, in case some readers are wondering why this issue is significant, maybe a look at some of the Census figures of the Hispanic community in the U.S. will put this report in context. This link leads to the minority links section of the Census site. From there, readers can choose various reports. For a quick summary, the page that the Census created for Hispanic Heritage Month provides some quick facts.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Who reads what newspapers?

From the Eclectic Librarian, a little piece of humor on who reads what newspaper:

  1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
  2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
  3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
  4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
  5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country -- if they weren't on a freeway, or playing beach ball, or at a Botox appointment or an audition -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
  6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
  7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
  8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
  9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
  10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.
  11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

How cheesy is this? Yes, it's a quiz

Apparently, quite a few librarians take online little quizzes to amuse themselves in slow times. Here is another one. Being that I am a fan of cheese and can never have enough of the stuff, I could not resist. I got the link from Louise at Librarian's Rant. Here are my results:

You are blue cheese!
Grandfather Blue Cheese

You are a soft, crumbly white blue-streaked cheese. You are very cool and mellow. You are very knowledgeable and wise and people come to you for advice and help.

Blue cheese is a white cheese with blue veins and a sometimes crumbly interior. This cheese usually has tangy, piquant, spicy and peppery flavor. Use in salad dressings with cream cheese for spreads. [Texture: hard, semi-soft ]

I am not sure about the crumbly part though, not to mention that image looks a bit decrepit. Other than that, not too bad on the result. You can find the quiz itself here.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Great American Smokeout.

I don't often get on my soapbox, but today I will. Please, if you smoke, consider this day as an opportunity to at least consider quitting. I know, some of you may say it's your choice, or it's your body, or no one should tell me what to do. But there are people out there who love you or who mean a lot to you who would like to see you alive for a bit longer. The Great American Smokeout traditionally takes place on the third Thursday of November, right before Thanksgiving. For information on the day and on quitting smoking, here are some sites:

A small page from the CDC


From the American Cancer Society (this one has a lot of interactive stuff, so may load slow for some people I think).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Literacy in three languages.

From the Boston Globe, a story, posted on October 30, 2005, about an immigrant from Mexico who hoped her son would be able to quickly pick up English. The story, entitled "Signs of Literacy," reports that the problem was she found out her son was severely deaf. However, thanks to a program between Northern Essex Community College and Gallaudet University, her son can now learn his literacy skills. This program "gives parents tips on how they can introduce literacy to their deaf children using children's books. Each month, the school hosts classes that help parents with sign language, show them ways to improve students' reading skills, and provide a chance for deaf children and deaf adults to interact with one another." This unique program is provided in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language. This free program has been in place for two years, and it involves the whole family.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Article Note: On GLBT Scholarship

Citation for the Article:

Gross, Larry. " The Past and the Future of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies." Journal of Communication 55.3 (September 2005): 508-528.

I read the article in print.

The article outlines and discusses the emergence and status of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) Studies within the scope of Communication Studies. The article begins with a historical overview of the GLBT movement, outlining how it emerged politically and how it adopted political organizing based on ethnic/minority identity. Gross goes on to show how the GLBT movement went on to have an impact in academia.

In academia, Gross writes that "lesbian and gay caucuses began to emerge within many academic disciplines, with particularly strong presence in languages and literature, sociology, psychology, and history" (511). Gross goes on to explain that much of the impact in academia came from outside academia through various history projects and international conferences. Also, publishing venues became available in the form of presses and journals, such as the Journal of Homosexuality that was established in 1974. The article then goes on to tell how academic organizations in Communication Studies established specific GLBT groups and caucuses.

From there, the article discusses the debates and battles over defining an identity. Two major camps are defined. First, the essentialists believe that "homosexuals are a category of humanity existing in all cultures and throughout history. Writing in this tradition tends to celebrate the tracing of a continuous, if often hidden, thread that unites contemporary lesbian women and gay men with their counterparts across time and space" (514). Second, the constructionists believe in a sociological constructionist view. They argue that "homosexuality is not a transhistorical phenomenon that takes on differing form and coloration under varying local conditions" (514). Gross points out that there are different degrees or shades of the constructivist argument. From there, challenges, questions, and new ideas emerged such as the use of the term "queer", the Queer Nation, queer theory, lesbian feminism, race and class issues. Then came bisexuality where "women and men who are attracted to members of both sexes claimed an independently valid identity" (516) and the transgendered, "united by their rejection of the gendered expectations imposed on them by society based on their physical, especially genital, characteristics at birth" (516).

Next, the article looks at how society represents the GLBT community, especially in the media. Activists fought to counter the invisibility that society placed on them. This fight became crucial with the advent of the AIDS epidemic. Also, organizations like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) emerged. This leads to today where GLBT people are more present in the culture, though in restricted ways. For instance, it must be noted that "in recent times the most prominent topics for journalistic attention to gay people, leaving aside the AIDS epidemic, have been the exclusion of gay people from service in the military, from the institution of civil marriage, and from the Boy Scouts" (519). The article also notes the increased presence of the GLBT in television, exemplified in shows like Queer as Folk and The L Word. For scholars, this raises questions: celebrating the increased visibility or questioning the how of that visibility and its motives. Also, "the question of who should be able to depict what, for which audiences, and in what contexts of production and reception is one that GLBT scholars are confroting with more frequency, precisely as these images proliferate" (520-521).

The article concludes by providing a discussion of some of the questions anc challenges scholars will be facing in the future. For instance, looking at the coming out process for young people. Another question seems to be the role of the Internet. The article demonstrates there is still much work to be done. For an excellent overview of this field of study, this article is recommended. It includes a good bibliography that can provide a list for further reading.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Facts about Veteran's Day

(Cross posted from The Gypsy Librarian)

The Census Bureau has put together a small page of facts about veterans and the celebration of Veteran's Day. For instance, "1.1 million veterans are Hispanic." I am sure that includes my uncle who served in the Korean Conflict and my other uncle who did two tours during the Vietnam Conflict. To them and to the many more like them, thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Now, if I were a mythological god. . .

Now this result I think is very cool. Initially I was thinking I would turn out to get some erudite bookworm sort of deity, but hey, does not get cooler than this in my view. Actually, in many ways, it is pretty accurate. Coyote is a performer, and I can be quite the performer (just ask those that come to my classes). Anyways, got it also from Mark Lindner's blog, . . .the thoughts are broken. . ., but no match this time. Again, want to try something entertaining for a few minutes and let the imagination roam? Go for it. These were then my results:


Indeed, you are 66% erudite, 87% sensual, 41% martial, and 66% saturnine.

Coyote was an important being to several Native American
tribes. He was one of those tricksters that are found in several world
mythologies, in fact very close in temperament and deed to Loki of the Norse pantheon.

Eternally scavenging for food, he represents the most basic instincts,
but in other narratives, he is also the father of the Indian people and
a potent conductor of spiritual forces in the form of sacred dreams. In
the �Myth of the Stars and the Moon� he is shown as a wise counsellor

There are more stories about him than stars in the sky. For
example, did you hear the one about the �Spying Moon�? It seems that
someone had pinched the moon, and Coyote offered to stand in as
replacement. Everyone agreed that he made a fine moon, but from his
elevated position Coyote could see everything that was going on. Being
of an irritating disposition, he couldn't resist blowing the whistle on
friends and enemies alike. "Hey, look what Badger is doing behind his

Pretty soon everyone was sick of his snooping and voted him out of the
sky. But nothing can keep Coyote down for long. Being an old show-off,
he loves to impress the girls by juggling his eyeballs. One day he
threw one so high it got stuck in the sky and became the star Arcturus.
So even now he's keeping an eye on us all.

The Fifteen Gods

These are the 15 categories of this test. If you score above average in �

�all or none of the four variables: Dagda. �
Erudite: Thoth. �
Sensual: Frey. �
Martial: Mars. �
Saturnine: Mictlantecuhtli. �

Erudite & Sensual: Amun. �
Erudite & Martial: Odin. �
Erudite & Saturnine: Anubis. �
Sensual & Martial: Zeus. �
Sensual & Saturnine: Cernunnos. �
Martial & Saturnine: Loki. �

Erudite, Sensual & Martial: Lug. �
Erudite, Sensual & Saturnine: Coyote. �
Erudite, Martial & Saturnine: Hades. �
Sensual, Martial & Saturnine: Pan.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 11% on erudite
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 68% on sensual
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 9% on martial
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 63% on saturnine

Link: The Mythological God Test written by Nitsuki on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

I am a unicorn, well, if I was a mythological beast.

Through Mark Lindner's blog, . . .the thoughts are broken. . ., a link to a little fun quiz to see what mythological beast you might be. What are the odds we actually got a match? He did score a bit higher on the malevolence, but not by much. Anyways, if you are looking for a way to kill a minute or two, it works. Here are then my results:


You scored 40% Esotericism, 14% Power, and 30% Malevolence!

The unicorn is a legendary animal. It is usually portrayed as a
slender, white horse with a spiraling horn on its forehead, although
its appearance and behavior differs, depending on the location. In the
west it was usually considered wild and untamable, while in the Orient
it was peaceful, meek and thought to be the bringer of good luck. There
it is usually depicted as a goat-like creature, with cloven hooves and
a beard. In Japan it is called Kirin, and in China Ki-lin.
The word "unicorn" is based on the Hebrew word re'em ("horned animal"),
in early versions of the Old Testament translated as "monokeros",
meaning "one horn", which became "unicorn" in English. The creature is
possibly based on the rhinoceros or the narwhal, a marine creature with
one horn.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on Esotericism
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 5% on Power
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 44% on Malevolence

Link: The Mythological Profile Test written by LacedWithASmile on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Should cafes and other restaurants be "kid-free"?

While reading Salon, I came across this little piece about a restaurant in Chicago trying to address the issue of kids not behaving in restaurants. I read through the piece, and then I read some of the letters that readers submitted to Salon in response. While there were one or two parents ready to defend their right to take their kids anywhere no matter the behavior, for the most part, people were very much in favor of measures to restrict kids from certain places. As a parent, I will say that I agree. Adults should be able to have a good enjoyable dinner or cup of coffee without having to worry about some misbehaved kid ruining their experience. My wife and I have known that you simply do not take a young child to certain places. That is a given. When I was growing up, we were taken out of church if we were starting to misbehave (I grew up Catholic). I will add that my father had such "powers of persuasion" when he took us out of the service for acting up, that we would not dream of doing it again any time soon. These were rare instances; my sibblings and I quickly learned our lesson. As for restaurants, my parents had what I would have to label as a positive philosophy.

For one, they knew they needed their own quality time. I think adults need this regardless of whether they have kids or not. Those with kids probably need it more. So, we were often left with our grandmother. She was nice, and we were safe, and my parents got to recharge their batteries. When it came time for us to go out as a family, my parents sort of worked their way up so to speak. The idea was for us to learn how to behave in public places and how to have good manners. This would begin at home where we would eat at the table together. Then we would go to the family places, yes, the ones with the coloring menus. At those places, we were expected to behave, but I am sure my parents knew we would act up somewhat. I don't recall going to the places with the linen on the tables until I was pretty much older. I don't recall many times we had to be taken out, maybe once or twice. Here is how they did it. They made sure we knew how to behave before they took us to the nicer places, so by the time we went, we would be well behaved. Now folks, this takes time and work. Time and work seem to be two things that so-called parents today do not seem willing to invest when it comes to their own children. My parents, and it is only now as an adult that I can look back, put a lot of effort so their boys would be well behaved in public and knew their manners. And we were lucky. My parents were by no means wealthy, yet they took us to various places, including some high class restaurants. They believed that their children should be exposed to as many experiences as possible. Was it perfect? No, we kids had our moments, but we knew that if we acted up there would be consequences. Misbehaving in such a setting was not acceptable behavior, and my parents were not really of the "ignore them and let them do what they want" school. They dealt with it, but over time, they had to deal less and could enjoy more. The kids learned.

This leads me to today where I have a child of my own. She is nine now. Now, when you have a small baby in a carrier, as long as the baby is asleep or fairly quiet, that is a piece of cake. It's when the crying gets loud that you have a problem, and of course, the little child does not know better. So, what do you do? As a parent, you try to minimize the disruption. If it means you pick up your baby and step outside for a while, you do that. If it means you have to leave and come back later, you do that. When I was growing up, my parents did not expect that others would have to tolerate any misbehavior from their kids. I don't expect other people to tolerate our kid misbehaving either. As she grew up, we gradually began to take her to other places. You start with the places that are most kid friendly, and you then begin to work your way up. Does that mean you as a parent get to eat at places that are not haute cuisine? Yes it does. It's what you signed up for the moment you became a parent. It's part of being a responsible adult, and it is part of being considerate to others, especially since they are not the ones who have to deal with your kids. That's your job as a parent. It's our job as a parent to deal with our kid and teach her to be responsible and well behaved. No one said it was easy, but it can be done.

My wife and I are often puzzled why many parents think that everyone else should tolerate when someone's kids misbehave, disrupt, destroy things in stores, or otherwise wreak havoc? We cannot help but wonder who the heck raised those parents so poorly that they did not learn how to raise their own kids. We are amazed at the selfishness displayed by some so-called parents of taking their kids to places where they should not be on the "I am entitled to enjoy myself" philosophy. The answer to that is simple: no, you are not. Once you have a child, you lose that little philosophy because your kid comes first. Add to that, your rights end where everyone else's begin. Just like you have a right to enjoy yourself, we have a right to do so as well without your brat ruining it for the rest of us. Does that mean you never go out again? No, it means you get a good babysitter until the time when the kids can fend for themselves. For a while, there was a time we did not go out. Eventually, we found good babysitting, and we can have our adult quality time. It takes some sacrifice and some responsibility, traits that good parents should display. At least, those were the traits my parents displayed and passed down to me.

So, yes, restaurant and cafe owners should be able to restrict children if that is the sort of business they are promoting. If it is an adult cafe where I expect to drink my java in peace with other adults, then it should be kept so. Parents, you either get a babysitter, or go someplace else. This does not mean we hate kids; it does not mean we are child-o-phobic or anti family. Many of the adults at such places have kids of their own, so leveling the guilt trip of being anti children will not work. It means such a place is an adult space, and we would appreciate it if you respected it. After all, you would not appreciate it if someone else took their brats on to your place and let them climb all over your dinner table and break your furniture. This is common courtesy. This is something that you should have thought about before you made the choice to have children. Yes, kids put a crimp on an adult social life. That is a given. Only a fool, or an inconsiderate selfish person, tries to deny it. Good parents just go with it since we know it won't last forever. So parents, teach your children to behave and have good manners. The effort will pay off in the long run. And maybe, once in a blue moon, someone in a restaurant may come up to you and say, "you have such a well behaved kid." I would rather hear that, which my wife and I have heard once or twice. And no, our kid was not born perfect. She has her moments, but we knew when she was born that it would take effort and patience (lots of it) to get her to where she is now, and more importantly, to where she will someday be able to fend for herself.

Just some food for thought. And by the way, yes, I think if a kid is disrupting a place, a manager or business owner has a right to ask those people to leave. Sure, it is possible the one parent with the misbehaving brat may threaten to take their business elsewhere, but I will be blunt: for that manager in an adult place, he is more worried about the business he will lose from the other adults if he fails to deal with the situation. Harsh? Maybe, but when I take the time to get a sitter for my daughter to go to a place that is ostensibly for adults, I expect it to be that way. As someone said in one of the letters to the article, if you can't play nice, don't be surprised when you are asked to leave and told you can't play. Again, to me, that is just common courtesy. I learned that for everything there is a time and a place. So, act accordingly.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Article Note: "College Graduates Aren't Ready for the Real World"

I am trying out a new format on the titles and providing citations up front when I do article reviews and responses. I am hoping this will add some consistency; we'll see if it works. I will note also, as I usually do if I read it in print, online, or from a database. For this article, The Chronicle Review is that supplement found in The Chronicle of Higher Education. I read this particular article through Lexis-Nexis Academic.

Citation for the article:

Levine, Mel. "College Graduates Aren't Ready for the Real World." The Chronicle Review February 18, 2005: 11.

This article caught my eye as a former high school teacher and as a former adjunct faculty member. The headline itself led me to nod in agreement, so I will say up front that I was predisposed to agree with the author since I knew from experience that college students, a very large segment of them, are nowhere ready to tackle the real world.

Professor Levine argues that colleges are facing what he calls a pandemic of worklife unreadiness. Basically, for various reasons that he outlines, students are not able nor ready to handle the challenges of the workplace after they graduate from college. The article makes some good points, but it also raises some questions.

Levine writes:

"I heard repeteadly from employers that their current crop of novice employees appear unable to delay gratification and think long term. They have trouble starting at the bottom rung of a career ladder and handling the unexacting detail, the grunt work, and the political setbacks they have to bear."

Levine argues that this has to do with various factors. For one, it happens in youth when kids lack good role models other than other kids. Actually, it is not that they lack role models. The real problem "kids today don't know or take an interest in grown-ups, apart from their parents, their teachers, and entertainers." This is in contrast to previous times when kids did look at adults more closely according to Levine. This leads to kids worrying more about social status and peer perceptions. I would tend to agree with this, but the cynic in me also has a question. Given the poor economic climate, where many jobs are being outsourced and where the message from those employers seems to be squeeze as much from the workers for as little as possible, can these future employees really be blamed for not being able to think long term? Why would they have any incentive to think long term when the employers themselves are pretty much thinking short term and quick path to the profits? And no, we are not saying here that companies should not be making a profit. That is all good and fine, but some decent treatment of the workers who help make that profit should go along with that. I actually suggest that kids are more aware of their surroundings than we are willing to give them credit for. Sure, they may not read newspapers (for readers, the blogosphere is full of articles decrying the death of newspapers, just run a search on your favorite blog search tool). However, kids can be very aware, even if they often do not show it. True, they could learn more about being patient, delaying gratification a little, and thinking long term, but the places that claim to want such skills rarely display them themselves. I am sure a lot of the kids ask, "why should I wait when you did not?"

Levine also writes:

"Other students were the golden girls and boys of their high schools--popular, attractive, athletic, and sometimes scholarly insofar as they were talented test takers. Yet many never had to engage in active analytic thinking, brainstorming, creative activity, or the defense of their opinions. In quite a few instances, their parents settled all their disputes with teachers, guided (or did) their homework, and filled out their college applications. As a result, such students may have trouble charting and navigating their own course in college and beyond."

I can only say that I actually taught a few of those in my high school days. Challenging them, which I did at every chance I got, was not easy. Ask them to defend an opinion, and they think you are insulting their mother because to them "an opinion is something you have, so no need to defend it." Teaching them to be informed and to think about their views was not ingrained into them, but I tried. I can say I taught some of those that Levine describes because I had my share of parents who would try to settle their disputes with me on behalf of their kids. And guess what, very often the principal would support the parents even in the cases where the teacher was right. So in that regard, Levine pretty much hit the nail on the head. However, I will rush to clarify that these few golden boys and girls were few, even though they tend to stand out. I also had some excellent students who made teaching a pleasure and a rewarding experience. Levine argues that these cases are increasing. From my time as a college adjunct, I get the gut feeling it may be so. I do wonder if it depends on the type of college.

I am finding effective to highlight parts from the article and then comment on them, so here is another quote from the article:

"The most common learning disorder among undergraduates is incomplete comprehension. Affected students have difficulty understanding concepts, terminology, issues and procedures."

This has to do with the fact many successful students in high school used rote memory to succeed. This explains why I had one or two occasional angry students in high school because I often used methods other than those requiring rote memorization. Students need to be challenged, questioned, and probed in order to learn and thrive. It is something sorely missing in the age of standardized tests and teach to the test approaches.

Another quote that follows the one above:

"Some college students are abysmally disorganized and have serious trouble managing materials and time, prioritizing, and handling activities with multiple components that must be integrated--like writing a term paper, applying to graduate schools or prospective employers, and preparing for a final examination."

Disorganization was a problem, and I think it is something that continues into college by what I see. I find some students very organized, but I find a very large segment that barely know how to take notes. I don't have to be in a classroom. Very often just watching them from the Information Desk while they sit on a computer to do research spreading their little mess (and it is literally at times a mess of papers) provides more than enough evidence. Even when students are given guidelines to write a paper with steps will often not follow them, which is when I see them coming to my desk in a panic because they need sources for the paper due in a few days. Some are more extreme than others. In some cases, a good amount of hand holding will help these students. In others, like Levine points out, they are vulnerable to dropping out.

Levine also argues that faculty need to change. They need to learn how to teach and know the latest on pedagogy and best practices in education. I know personally that having a teaching degree was very helpful when I made the move into higher education. I had, and still have, an edge on the other professors who may be experts in their subject areas, but it does not mean they know how to teach it. As an Instruction Librarian, I devote a part of my continuing education and keeping up to reading and learning about teaching topics and issues. This takes work, and a lot of faculty may not feel the need to do this. Some may just feel like they have the letters after their name, so no one should be telling them how to run their classrooms. They stagnate, and if I have learned one thing as a librarian and as an educator, is that you cannot afford to stagnate. You have to keep on learning. You can't teach if you do not know how. The little adage about those who can. . .yadda yadda was pretty much said by someone who never had to teach a class. Levine makes this argument on the topic of faculty:

"They should receive formal training in the latest research about brain development and the learning processes that occur during late adolescence--including such key areas as higher-language functioning, frontal-lobe performance (like planning, pacing, and self-monitoring), nonverbal thought processes, memory use, and selective attention."

Sure, some professors may get a single class on teaching methods in their subject during graduate school. If I had to depend on the one class they exposed me to in graduate school for teaching of English, I would have been lost. The solid foundation I got in teacher training is what has made the difference to me. I was up to date when I came to graduate school and then to teach undergraduates, and I can now continue educating myself. Since I taught high school, it has been helpful because undergraduates are not too far removed from that experience.

There are two more ideas that Levine presented that I found interesting. One may apply to library schools, and the other is just wishful thinking. The first:

"What's more, colleges should offer opportunities for scholarly research into the cognitive abilities, political strategies, and skills needed for career fulfillment in various fields. The study of success and failure should be thought of as a topic worthy of rigorous investigation at all higher-education institutions."

This made me think that we should probably be doing this in library school. On a very practical level, for instance, what I learned about some of the political strategies came from a librarian who was very generous in mentoring me during the job search. She taught me to read between the lines on some of the job ads for example, to know for instance which one was more an internal job that had to be advertised but the school really had no intention of hiring an outsider. Little details in language and the types of skills they ask and the combination of the skills usually give away these types of jobs that basically say "we already have someone in mind, but our rules require us to advertise the position." This is just one example. But overall, there are a lot of things to learn about how the dynamics of working in a library operate. I think what Levine suggests is something we should consider in our profession as well, especially in educating those coming after us. I am sure some bloggers in the biblioblogosphere have touched on this in bits and pieces, but the challenge is to formalize it and give it some structure. For me at the moment, that little quote gives me some ideas for a later post.

The second quote then:

"Finally, every college should also strive to promulgate a campus intellectual life that can hold its own against social, sexual, and athletics virtuosity. Varsity debating teams should receive vigorous alumni support and status, as should literary magazines, guest lectureships, concerts, and art exhibitions. Undergraduate institutions reveal themselves by what gets tacked up on campus bulletin boards--which often are notices of keg parties, fraternity and sorority rush events, and intramural schedules. Colleges can work to change that culture."

Professor Levine, that is a very nice idea, but I think it is not going to become a reality anytime soon. In the large schools, one just has to look at the sports programs to see where the priorities are at. Also, money talks quite loudly when it comes to collegiate sports. I am not going to argue against Professor Levine because I agree with his idea. Sadly, I have seen enough to know that colleges may talk about wanting to change that culture, but in the end, they will not. And it is not just colleges. High schools go through this as well. All one has to do is look at the wealthier districts spending millions of dollars on football facilities while letting other educational facilities die out due to neglect. I read a book a while back that shows what happens when a sport overtakes the rest of a school and a community. Readers can read my post on that book here. I also taught in a high school where the sports were the priority.

The article is worth reading and pondering over. At times, it seems to be too pessimistic in terms of the students and their chances when leaving college. However, if it gets educators and others to do at least a little to give students a better chance in the real world, it is worth it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What kind of postmodernist am I? Yea Baby, Bring it On!

On the one hand, I am not much for postmodernism. On the other hand, I was once an English major, and theory was a large part of that lifestyle. So actually the result does make sense because I did have to eat journal articles for breakfast (and lunch, and dinner, all passed under the door like some monk in a cell. Of course no one knew the fun I had in said cell, hehe); I still eat a few journal articles. I did not quite live for theory back then, but I think I did pretty well back then. I am sure my old theory professor would be proud. All that, and the girl is kind of cute. Anyways, why not try it for yourself? I got the link to the quiz from Mark at . . .the thoughts are broken. . .

theory slut
You are a Theory Slut. The true elite of the
postmodernists, you collect avant-garde
Indonesian hiphop compilations and eat journal
articles for breakfast. You positively live
for theory. It really doesn't matter what
kind, as long as the words are big and the
paragraph breaks few and far between.

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
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