Headline Doubletake

I don’t care how it ends, this is a headline you never expect to read—Pope Lashes Out At . . . .

Here are some other improbables.

• Kim Jong-il Apologizes For . . .

• Armstrongs’ Teammates Report He Stubbornly Resisted PEDs

• Mugabe Apologizes For. . .

• Third Cloudless Day in Seattle Area

• Hugo Chavez to Privatize . . .

• Obama Breaks 80

• BP CEO Will Sell Yacht and Give Proceeds to Gulf Residents

• Congress Reaches Consensus On Tax and Spending Bill

• Young Hollywood Star To Enter Seminary

• Tiger Woods Desperately Wants on 2010 Ryder Cup Team

Random Acts of Kindness

Example one. In February, I wrote about a fellow passenger rescuing L and me from a stranded Amtrak train in Portland.

Example two, also in February, admittedly more subtle, but still a kind, selfless gesture that was also greatly appreciated. A short simple phone call from a colleague across campus during an especially difficult work experience.

Example three, Wednesday, June 23rd, Mount Rainier National Park. Three maniac cycling friends and I have climbed from just inside the Nisqually Gate to the top of Paradise, past a partially melted Reflection Lake, then through Steven’s Canyon, Box Canyon, and back. The maniacs extended it to Ohanapecosh and back, so I was climbing solo, trying to ride each mile in about six minutes.

My two bottles of gatorade were still in the freezer where I set them during breakfast to get cold (note to self—ride checklist). A friend lent me a bottle, and I had some electrolyte pills, but there was no water after topping off at the Visitor’s Center. So there I was with about 8 ounces and 8 relentless miles of climbing left. Not a good ratio.

An angel disguised as a shirtless 23 year old pulled up next to me in a purple Buick with New Jersey plates. “How YOU doin’ on water?” “Not so good actually.” “I’m going to pull over.” No where to pull over, he stops in the road, jumps out, grabs a gallon jug of water from his back seat and tops me off. “You didn’t look so good.” Well hell I thought, I didn’t feel so good. “Man, I really appreciate it, you’ve got good kharma today.” “Training for anything?” “Ah, no, not really.” I should have got his picture, although as an angel, he may not have been visible. I kept giving him a thumbs up while he was taking pictures along side the road, in one case while standing on top of his hood. Pictures like these.

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Guns and Bombs

From the Wall Street Journal, 6/21/10. World governments are spending more on guns and bombs than ever. Global military expenditures in 2009 topped $1.53 trillion—2.7% of global GDP, up 6% in real terms from 2008 and 49% since 2000. The U.S. spent $661 billion—4.3% of GDP, accounting for 43% of the world total. China followed with an estimated $100 billion—2% of GDP and 217% more than 2000.

Just under 5% of the world’s pop and 43% of the world’s military expenditures.

And the China stat of recent days. Every six hours China exports more than it did in all of 1978 (Marginal Revolution-blog).

Weekend Notes

U.S. OPEN

• I was off Friday and spent some of the day prepping for 17′s Graduation Open House and some fantasizing about being at Pebble Beach. As great as the visuals were, listening to Chris Berman do the U.S. Open is excruciating. I’m sure he’d be a fun guy to play poker or watch football with, but he obviously did not grow up playing golf. I can take “We’re all just Dustin’ in the Wind Johnson” but I can’t take the “He shot a 9″ and “That’s the second snowman there of the day!” and the “back, back, back” urging of a short putt. No one shoots anything on an individual hole. One MAKES a nine. And pros occasionally make eights, not snowmen. This is a MAJOR, not the Bristol Municipal Club Championship. Listening to Dick Vitale is soothing by comparison.

• Also on Friday, very interesting ruling involving Paul Casey’s chip on 14. Brutal uphill chip with zero margin of error. Casey hits it a tad chubby and in frustration hits/repairs the divot a few times. In the ensuing ten-fifteen seconds, the ball backs all the way off the green, eventually to almost the exact spot. Viewers alert the rules officials that Casey has improved his lie. Penalty? Rules officials huddle with Casey after the round, review the particulars of the two shots, and ask him whether he hit/repaired the divot in order to improve his lie in case the ball returned to the exact same spot. Based upon his body language they didn’t think so, and so they weren’t surprised when Casey confirmed that. There really was no way Casey could have known the ball would return to exact same spot. The rule is it’s a penalty if there’s intent is to improve one’s lie. I hereby declare that before wives rip husbands and daughters ban fathers from speaking in public that they adjust for intent.

WORLD CUP

• After reading the comments about my “it’s poor form to complain about officiating” post, I’ve changed my mind. Merty’s comment in particular reminded me of the NBA/FBI/Tim Donaghy fiasco. I’m sure there’s far more $ coursing through World Cup matches than NBA games. Maybe the Malian ref who blew the call at the end of US/Slovenia is cut from Donaghy cloth. So here’s my revised axiom. Whenever athletes are amateurs, it’s poor form to complain about officiating. The corollary is “The younger the athletes, the poorer the form.”

SCHOOLING

• I understand it’s sociocultural/historical roots, but I’m still amazed at how prevalent individualism is in our schools especially when future success will inevitably hinge on interpersonal intelligence. The OHS awards assembly and graduation (where the same award winners were feted a second time) reminded me of that. Why is it that teamwork and groups are only emphasized in extracurricular activities? Our success in solving pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges hinge mostly on team/group work. Sarason’s concept of the “regularities of schooling” comes to mind. A “regularity of schooling” is some feature of teaching and learning that we no longer question, it’s just accepted as the natural order. For example, we always assign grades to each individual student and we only award individual student achievement. This also calls to mind Sarason’s “ocean storm” metaphor in the Predictable Failure of Education Reform. Lots of wind, waves, tumult on the surface during an ocean storm, but no change in water chemistry, temperature, etc, on the ocean floor. The ocean floor is the teacher-student relationship. How would teaching and learning change if we tempered our individualism and focused at least some of our assessment efforts on small group academic achievement?

• During his grad speech, the OHS principal honored the top ten students. A slide of the students flashed above. He said, “good job girls” with no sense of irony or urgency. I’m in the middle of a related article in the most recent Atlantic magazine titled “The End of Men”. Highly recommended.

• Byrnes Postulate (be sure to credit me). The more meaningful the curricular objective and related classroom activity, the more difficult to assess the associated student learning. Granted seems obvious, but I suggest that postulate informs more of what’s wrong with the “standards movement” than is first apparent.

WORLD POLITICS

• Heard an interview with the author of this book. He persuasively argued that no single nation can singlehandedly solve the immigration challenge. Made perfect sense, but it doesn’t seem as if anyone is acknowledging that. In fact, it’s true of most global issues today, but there are at least two serious impediments to thinking more globally and acting more in concert with other people in other nations to address pressing global issues like global poverty, environmental crises, and terrorism/war. First, the U.N. has a lot of negative baggage associated with it and there are wonderful NGOs, but few truly global alternatives. And secondly, no country/region (in the case of the EU) really wants to be take the lead in compromising their relative sovereignty.

FITNESS MALISE

• It’s 12:56p Sunday, we’re on the cusp of the summer equinox, and I’m sitting at my desk in half a cycling kit, staring at a cold, wet, dark gray landscape with 57 miles on the odometer for the week. Pathetic. I started down the street at 9:50a only to turn around when it started to rain. Mother Nature is testing all cyclists’ mental health this June. Look for some to start snapping. I was supposed to be Lance’s domestique on Mount Saint Helens today and then opted for a 10a club ride. Now I’ve performed the rare “double wuss”. My problem is I have nothing I HAVE to train for, not a single event on the calendar. I don’t even think I’ll do our local Oly triathlon in September. I’m 280th on the RAMROD waiting list. This is a desperate cry for help. Someone tell me what event should I do next and why? To add insult to injury, 14 informed me that if I had stayed in bed, her sister and her would have made me a “Dad’s Day” breakfast.

World Cup Notes

• I’m a casual football fan who shamelessly jumps on the World Cup bandwagon every four years. I am not a connoisseur, but after watching it in slow motion a few times, that disallowed goal at the end of U.S. v Slovenia was a terrible, terrible call. But the one thing I dislike more than missed calls, is people who complain about poor officiating. I didn’t see the first 67 minutes. There may have been blown calls that benefited the U.S. Human error is part of the game, deal with it. So, terrible call and points off for me for dwelling on it.

• Why do women always feel sorry for whomever is behind? After the second tying U.S. goal. “Oh no, it looks like the Slovenian fans are crying.” Note to self: teach daughters that whenever you have your foot on your opponent’s throat apply PRESSURE.

• Notice the coaches down jackets? Nice that there’s somewhere colder than Olympia, WA. Of course it is late Autumn in South Africa. It hasn’t reached 75 in this area yet this year. The previous “latest 75 degree” date was June 9th. The high temp on the 10 day forecast. . . 68. High 50′s this weekend. Apparently, summer has been cancelled. Is Rush Limbaugh right, is global warming a crock?

• Why do people complain about things they can’t change? Like the weather.

Ominous Clouds on the Horizon

1) Obama’s statement last week about studying BP’s liability not as a topic in a university seminar, but to figure out “whose ass to kick.” Red flashing lights. Somewhere in the West Wing a small group of 30-something Ph.D’s with expertise in focus group research is handling him. Their sole focus is getting him re-elected. He couldn’t have sounded less authentic or genuine if he tried. Save the faux swagger for the pickup game or 19th hole.

2) Also last week (on Tavis Smiley’s NPR show), Cornel West’s excoriating criticism of Obama’s handling of the B.P. oil crisis, his temerity in the face of Wall Street, and his neglect of the poor.

No Sense of Urgency

Friday, June 10th, 11:30a.m. Sitting up high in the stands in the Olympia High gymnasium. Awards assembly. Surrounded by fellow parents of seniors. Make contact with fourteen on the other side of the gym and hold my iPad up and taunt her with it which she and her friends find entertaining. This early adopting stuff is kinda fun, but it would be awfully embarrassing if an administrator confiscated it.

But I digress. 11:50a.m. and we’ve gone from 165 students with a 3.5 gpa to 80 with something higher to the top 20 gpaers.

Nineteen young women.

Why aren’t parents, educators, ordinary citizens of all types more concerned with the growing gender gap in academic achievement?

Where’s the urgency?

iPad Review

In the Steve Ballmer-desk-top computers will continue to thrive v. Steve Jobs-desk-tops will become like a truck that you use sporadically for a few specific tasks, I’m putting ALL my money on Jobs.

And I will be in the vanguard. I have been blown away by my Pad and am frustrated I haven’t had more time to set it up and learn the ins and outs. Two things are conspiring against Pad-time, a heavy June teaching schedule and a light fourteen year old.

Just how great a handheld computer is it? Eventually women will find an alternative word for their feminine product. At the store, “Do you have any pads?” “Wi-fi or 3G?” The first night I went to bed at 10 p.m. and by 6 a.m. the next morning five new apps appeared out of thin air including the bible and an especially riveting one where you poke plastic bubble wrap. The highlight so far has been showing fourteen how to lock it in either horizontal or vertical mode.

Let’s get my least favorite feature out of the way so I can return to positive product pimping. The homepage photograph is a beautiful coastline at dusk with white wisps across the sky, remnants of shooting stars maybe? The problem is they look exactly like ruinous scratches. They still give me heart palpitations six days later. Don’t know that I’ll ever get used to them.

As every other reviewer has explained, typing on the screen keyboard is okay for a few sentences at a time. I bought a separate keyboard and mouse so that I can go long on it. Lack of printing is an issue, but no doubt a temporary one.

Here’s one way it’s changed my life already. Yes, that was tongue in check. My wife is of the anti-television persuasion. I wear the pants in the family nearly all the time (I should confirm that with her), but I have not mustered the courage to defy her “no television in the bedroom” edict. With this bad boy, I mean pad boy, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Case in point, the other night I surreptitiously watched an episode of Scrubs on ABC’s app. I know what you’re thinking. Let’s just say it will be ON if she even suggests a “no Pad in the bedroom” policy.

Admittedly, this may be the most incomplete, least technical, least insightful, least helpful iPad review written to this point. But how many of those other fanboys can do this?

Palming the Pad