Weekend Assorted Links

1. Nothing Says Midwest Like a Well-Dressed Porch Goose. Long live regional differences.

2. The people behind ESPN W, the “women’s version” of ESPN, got it going on. This story, “Scout Bassett’s incredible journey from an orphanage in China to the Paralympic Stage“, is typical of their inspiring reporting. At minimum, check the vid near the bottom of the story. Go Bruins.

3. “I’m a Developer. I Won’t Teach My Kids to Code, and Neither Should You.”

“Coding is not the new literacy.”

Thesis, learning coding syntax, by itself, is woefully insufficient. Excellent argument with serious pedagogical implications for Ms. Zema, other middle school math teachers, parents, everyone really.

4. World Geography quiz. The ten fastest growing cities are all projected to be in. . . ?

5. A silver lining to the market sell-off? Trump advisers fear 2020 nightmare: a recession. Granted, poor form to even suggest that a recession would be a positive development, but what if that is what it takes to exile him to his golf courses?

6. This is important “sports” journalism.

 

Months in Olympia, Washington Ranked

Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight, inspired me with this tweet:

Months in New York City, ranked:

  1. October
  2. September
  3. November
  4. June
  5. May
  6. December
  7. April
  8. July
  9. March
  10. January
  11. August
  12. February

His ranking, I’m sure, is the result of data science. Mine, on the other hand, is based on gut instinct mixed with hours of sunlight, lake temperatures, and optimal (sunny/dry) cycling conditions.

Months in Olympia, WA, ranked:

  1. July
  2. August
  3. June
  4. May
  5. September
  6. April
  7. March
  8. October
  9. November
  10. February
  11. December
  12. January

I will put Olympia’s June-August up against anywhere. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia would be a worthy rival if it weren’t for the afternoon showers.

Sigh, there’s no turning back now, we’re in the long dark night of winter.

 

Weekend Assorted Links

1. Australia gone mad. My steer is bigger than yours. Dig picture #4     .

2. Believe it or not. Flannel shirt, made in America. I’ve never seen a more positive response to any article in the New York Times ever.

3. Why are students ditching the history major? Short answer, low perceived ROI. This conclusion is promising, but too vague.

“We really have to adapt and change what we’re doing and how we teach. And that’s going to come naturally. It can’t not happen.”

4. With a nod towards history, How Did ISIS Really Emerge?

5. The Good Wife rightly complains that I don’t communicate what I want for Xmas. Just one of my endearing qualities. Sometimes though, I drop hints about pressing needs.

Decline and Fall of The U.S. Empire

Back when typewriters dotted the earth, I read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but I can’t remember, when did they realize the end was near? Probably between the bottom of the eighth and the top of the ninth. Can’t remember whether they played baseball either.

I’m not sure what inning we’re in, but if Dayton, Ohio is our frame of reference, a few pitchers and catchers are stirring in the bullpen.

Recently, in the deep recesses of my pea brain, I’ve been outlining a course that explores our nation’s decline. This intellectual exercise was prompted by an incredibly tight and excellent 55 minute long ProPublica/Frontline documentary that I highly recommend on Dayton, Ohio titled, “Left Behind America”.

Other likely resources include:

One question we will consider is how does our country improve the life prospects of young impoverished boys and girls in Dayton, Ohio; Janesville, Wisconsin; and Troy, New York, especially when addiction and mental illness are so common in their families?

We’ll also ask whether the challenges are best understood through the lens of psychology and concepts such as “internal locus of control” or sociology with its emphasis on systemic impediments to upward mobility like institutional racism, the loss of manufacturing jobs and the associated dismantling of labor unions, and educational inequities. Related to that, we’ll debate what roles local, state, and/or our federal government should play in providing Dayton’s youngest residents more equal opportunities in life.

We’ll also read two books that broaden our frame of reference to include rural America:

And given the President’s incessant demonizing of immigrants, I need your help finding materials, beyond the segment in Left Behind, that examine the important role immigrants are playing in reviving places like Dayton. Or any other materials that offer hope if not practical solutions.

Who is in? What other literary, artistic, non-fiction, and/or multimedia resources should we consider and what other ideas do you have for strengthening our course?

Three Paths Diverge in the Woods

I know a lot about communication as it relates to interpersonal conflict. Problem is, I don’t always apply it. Which begs the question, what good does head knowledge do if it doesn’t make its way to the heart?

Case in point, last SatRun. Most every Saturday morning you can find a few of my ideologically diverse friends and me running 10 miles up, down, and around Olympia, WA. I’m the guy with the dorky calf sleeves.

While running, we share eventful stories from the work week, debate political hot potatoes, talk sports, and tell family stories*. The only thing all of us agree on is how fortunate our wives are to be married to us.

Last Saturday, I blew it. Despite just blogging about the futility of imposing one’s views on others, I entered into an unwinnable argument about the relative merits of our last president versus our current one. No argument is winnable when one or both participants’ contrasting viewpoints are based almost exclusively on emotion. No amount of reasoning; no matter how dispassionate, empirical, and persuasive; is any match for strongly held emotions. I forgot that I cannot alter my friend’s fundamentally negative feelings towards our previous president, just as there’s nothing he can say that will assuage my negative feelings towards our current one.

And so the “exchange” spiraled downwards so much so that one teammate purposely gapped us. The two us ended up much, much more irritated, than enlightened, about our differences.

So the first path in the interpersonal conflict woods, emotion-laden arguing, is not recommended. The second path, curiosity-based conversations, is a much preferred alternative.

Had I demonstrated just a touch of interpersonal intelligence, I would’ve asked questions to try to better understand my friend’s warped political perspective. Among others, WHY do you feel that way? Had I done that, two positive things may have resulted. First, he probably would have moderated his most outlandish claims, thus lowering the temperature of the entire convo. When agitated, it’s human nature to assert things much more intensely than necessary. In those situations, we in essence, surrender to negative emotions. Second, had I listened patiently enough; eventually, he probably would’ve asked me some questions in a similar effort to better understand me.

If I had gone full Socrates and focused on understanding my friend’s thinking, I probably would’ve kept my emotions in check. Meaning it could’ve ended up being a worthwhile conversation instead of the pointless argument paralleling the one playing out nightly on opposing cable news stations.

The third path in the interpersonal conflict woods is knowing the limits of one’s capacity for curiosity-based conversation. For example, I cannot practice curiosity-based conversation with anyone who looks passively at the continuous stream of mass shootings in the U.S., and repeatedly concludes, “We’d be better off if more “good people” had guns.” Just. Can’t. Go. There. Of course, there’s nothing requiring me to.

How much time do you spend on the three paths? Depending upon how centered I am, I see-saw between pointless arguing and enriching, curiosity-based conversations. A tiny fraction of the time, I opt out altogether. I hope to eliminate pointless arguing from my life by continuing to learn from my mistakes and living a long, long time.

Before next Saturday’s 10-miler, I commit to not just warming up my bod, but also my heart.

*or they bully the guy on sabbatical, the one with the humble blog