Ah, the WordPress blog snow is back

November 30, 2010

No, your vision isn’t deteriorating faster than you thought.  If you pause on a post here for a few seconds, snowflakes may begin to fall.

It’s a December, holidays sort of thing.  A few complaints, but I like it.

Whiskey and Cigar Day, 2010: Mark Twain and Winston Churchill

November 30, 2010

Mark Twain, afloat

November 30 is the birthday of Mark Twain (1835), and Winston Churchill (1874).

Twain had a comment on the Texas Education Agency and State Board of Education:

In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.

– Following the Equator; Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar

The Nobel literature committees were slow; Twain did not win a Nobel in Literature; he died in 1910. Churchill did win, in 1953.

Both men were aficionados of good whiskey and good cigars. Both men suffered from depression in old age.

Both men made a living writing, early in their careers as newspaper correspondents. One waged wars of a kind the other campaigned against. Both were sustained by their hope for the human race, against overwhelming evidence that such hope was sadly misplaced.


Both endured fantastic failures that would have killed other people, and both rebounded.

Each possessed a great facility with words, and wit, and frequently said or wrote things that people like to remember and repeat again.

Both of them rank near the top of the list of people to whom almost any quote will be attributed if the quote is witty and the speaker can’t remember, or doesn’t know, who actually said it.

Both men are worth study.  And wouldn’t you really love to have had them over to dinner?

Twain, on prisons versus education:

Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” – Speech, November 23, 1900

Churchill on the evil men and nations do:

“No One Would Do Such Things”

“So now the Admiralty wireless whispers through the ether to the tall masts of ships, and captains pace their decks absorbed in thought. It is nothing. It is less than nothing. It is too foolish, too fantastic to be thought of in the twentieth century. Or is it fire and murder leaping out of the darkness at our throats, torpedoes ripping the bellies of half-awakened ships, a sunrise on a vanished naval supremacy, and an island well-guarded hitherto, at last defenceless? No, it is nothing. No one would do such things. Civilization has climbed above such perils. The interdependence of nations in trade and traffic, the sense of public law, the Hague Convention, Liberal principles, the Labour Party, high finance, Christian charity, common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible. Are you quite sure? It would be a pity to be wrong. Such a mistake could only be made once—once for all.”

—1923, recalling the possibility of war between France and Germany after the Agadir Crisis of 1911, in The World Crisis,vol. 1, 1911-1914, pp. 48-49.

Image of Twain aboard ship – origin unknown. Image of Winston S. Churchill, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1941, copyright 1941 by Time Magazine.

More on Mark Twain

More on Winston Churchill

Orson Welles, with Dick Cavett, on Churchill, his wit, humor and grace (tip of the old scrub brush to the Churchill Centre):

Yeah, mostly this is an encore post from past years.

Norton Security: Customer service fail

November 29, 2010

For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to get approval for a license I already paid for to work on my laptop.  Probably a dozen times I’ve gotten a message that I’ve been “updated,” or “approved,” or somesuch, but each morning when I boot up I get the nastygram from Norton that my “trial” security period is ended — or now, that I’m wholly unprotected.

Never mind that this is the 6th license I’ve bought from Norton in two years for two different computers.

Skroom.  Norton security is worthless if it doesn’t work after you’ve paid them several times.  Off to shop for something else.

And, just try to contact them.  E-mails go unanswered for weeks.  Phone calls are disconnected after 15 minutes of waiting, in the middle of some explanation for why you should be happy to be waiting.

Once upon a time I found Norton to be responsive and very useful.  Now Norton is merely the subject of great frustration.


Fort Worth area teachers: Amon Carter Museum workshop on art from the Gilded Age

November 29, 2010

From the Amon Carter Museum education department (in Fort Worth):

During the Gilded Age, the U.S. economy boomed, the population soared, and Americans flourished. Well, not all Americans; for some this time was not prosperous. During an educator workshop on December 9, [2010] explore both sides of this period using paintings and sculpture from the Amon Carter’s collection.  [Send a note of interest to: education@cartermuseum.org.]

Eastman Johnson, Bo-Peep (Amon Carter Museum)

Eastman Johnson (1824–1906), Bo-Peep, 1872, oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, 1980.

Or just sign up:

Thursday, December 9, 2010 – 5:00pm – 7:00pm

The Gilded (or Not-So-Gilded) Age

Educator Workshop: $12 for museum members and $15 for nonmembers

During the Gilded Age (late 1800s to the early 1900s), the U.S. economy boomed, the population soared, and Americans prospered. Well, not all Americans; for some this time in American history was not prosperous. Explore both sides of this period using paintings and sculpture from the Amon Carter’s collection. This workshop is most appropriate for educators of all grade levels teaching English, language arts, social studies, U.S. history, and visual art, although others may benefit. Refreshments are provided from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

Download registration form

BBC News – Malaria ‘cannot be eradicated’

November 29, 2010

BBC report: Experts say control, not eradication of malaria (short advertisement precedes news video):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

BBC News – Malaria ‘cannot be eradicated’, posted with vodpod

More, and resources:

Lancet map, showing nations where  malaria eradication may be possible, and those where control may be the best solution

Map from The Lancet, accompanying article: "Malaria is caused by five species of a parasite that can be carried from human to human by mosquitoes. Over the last 150 years, the portion of the world where malaria is still endemic has shrunk, but the disease is still endemic in 99 countries. However 32 of these countries, most of them on the edges of the endemic zone, are attempting to eradicate the disease, while the rest are trying to reduce infections and deaths though control measures."

Protest signs with high qualifications

November 28, 2010

From John Stewart’s march for rational discussion, came this sign:

Protest sign:  Evidence based change, after peer review

Protest sign from John Stewart's D.C. rally: Evidence based change, after peer review

That would take more than three cups of tea, certainly.

One of dozens of witty signs from that rally.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kenny, near Beijing.

NJ Gov. Christie applauds video/cyber assault on special education teacher

November 28, 2010

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Teachers, they hate you out there — some people do, at least.  Who?  Republicans.  The War on Education is getting pretty serious, now with Republican operatives using techniques of public shaming made famous in Moscow in the 1920s and in Mao’s China in the 1970s.  Consider this:

  1. Sleazeball political hack James O’Keefe, R-Sodom,  tried to get a New Jersey special education teacher drunk, to hit on her, to get her to dish on her colleagues.
  2. Not just any teacher — a special ed teacher commended by President Clinton for risking her life to save the lives of her students.
  3. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) then applauded the resulting video, saying it indicates a problem with teachers.  (Christie has his own anger management issues, it appears.)

Godwin’s law prevents us from making the obvious comparisons.

James O'Keefe, hired thug

James O'Keefe, undercover political hoaxster -- teachers, if you see this man and he asks you about education, call the police and your education association that provides your liability insurance, and do not talk to O'Keefe.

Details at The New Republic.

It’s Republicans Gone Wild, with all the depth of analysis and moral backbone such a title implies.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ed Brayton at Dispatches on the Culture Wars.

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