March 30, 2006

Protesting America at American schools

Quite a few bloggers have been following the protests in California related to the enforcement of immigration laws and border security. Euphoric Reality has a much-updated thread on the Los Angeles high school students who have been walking out of the classroom to fly the flag of Mexico high - above the US flag, in fact, which has apparently been flown upside-down in more than one school. Right On can't figure out why schools can't seem to stop students from leaving in protest nor figure out ways to discipline them. And Captain Ed minces no words:

...by flying American flags upside-down under the Mexican flag, [these students are] showing a loyalty to Mexico that overrides their loyalty to the US. And then they have the temerity to demand that we allow them to live here without following our laws governing entry into the US as well as continue to provide government services to them.
Posted by kswygert at 11:31 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

Paying for the cute

If you, like me, are addicted to CuteOverload, be sure to hit their tip jar - apparently their server's getting overloaded from all the readers! A great thing for any blogger to experience, but expensive nonetheless.

This photo, and caption, made me laugh much louder than I should be considering that I'm at work and am supposed to be writing an article.

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A return to edublogging

Brash edublogger Mr. Babylon ("Stories from the inside. Shitty High School, Bronx, New York. All names have been changed to protect my ass.") cries during great movie scenes and almost inspires one student to stomp another. Glad to see he's back and blogging.

Posted by kswygert at 12:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

A new edublogger arrives

A new edublog is on the scene - The Chalkboard. It's hosted by the New York Charter Schools Association, and according to Eduwonk, the blogger is Joe Williams, author of a recent book on public education. I expect he'll have quite a few interesting things to say.

Posted by kswygert at 11:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 20, 2005

A confession by any other name...

You know, I'm all for teenagers having blogs and online journals, even when they're using their freedom of speech to criticize their schools, or say things that school administrators might not like.

But dude, if you're going to exercise your constitutionally-protected freedom of speech online, you'd best be able to deal with the legal consequences:

Blake Ranking was a Eustis High School senior and still aching from a horrible crash three days earlier when he posted those words on blurty.com, a site for Web logs.

"It was me who caused it. I turned the wheel. I turned the wheel that sent us off the road, into the concrete drain . . .," he wrote as his best friend, Jason Coker, 17, lay in a coma at Orlando Regional Medical Center. "How can I be fine when everyone else is so messed up?" Coker never awoke from the crash Oct. 3, 2004. He died Jan. 11.

Although Ranking later retracted his words -- deleting them from the blog and penning an explanation -- they came back to haunt him, forcing him Monday to plead guilty to DUI manslaughter.

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December 19, 2005

Reform K-12 is back from the void

After months of inactivity from teacher and edublogger Chett (which he claims are NOT due to drunken, wasted hours lying on the beach in Key West, but I have my doubts), Reform K-12 is now active again. Stop by and drop him a line.

Posted by kswygert at 12:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2005

A review of Our School

I've just finished reading Joanne Jacobs' Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea, and The School That Beat the Odds (Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2005). Joanne (who also hosts the book's site here) should require no introduction to Devoted Readers of N2P; those of you who have been here since the beginning know that I consider her my blogmother (the part about her grandfather inventing Whoppers candy; that, you may not know). Without her trailblazing edublog, her thoughtful advice, and her generous and helpful nature, Number 2 Pencil would have never existed.

So on to her tale, four years in the making (in more than one sense of the phrase)...

The book details the efforts of two San Jose teachers, Greg Lippman and Jennifer Andaluz, who were struck by, and devoted to, an absolutely crazy idea. Specifically, that it would be possible to create a charter school that was so innovative, tough, supportive and phenomenal that poverty-stricken and shortchanged students from bad neighborhoods who graduated from that school could and would receive a guarantee that they'd be qualified for a four-year college or university.

Their craziness can be quantified. It hardly seems possible for the odds to have been any more against these two. You want statistics? Joanne's got them, right in the first chapter, and they are ugly: "Hispanic and black students in the twelfth grade read and compute at the same levels as white students in the eighth grade." "Among native-born Californians ages 25 to 29, 13 percent of Hispanics...and 62 percent of Asians have a college degree." "Of every 100 Hispanic students entering kindergarten...fewer than 10 obtain a bachelor's degree."

Finally, "Only 12 percent of Hispanic students and 14 percent of blacks who start ninth grade will graduate in four years with the course work and grades required for admission to California's public four-year universities."

And here Lippman and Andaluz were promising that 100% would be prepared? This magic could be worked by two young (yes, I feel old) firebrands? Jennifer Andaluz was a 27-year-old teacher who'd worked as a waitress to pay for college, while 30-year-old Greg Lippman went to Princeton and ended up with Andaluz at Gunderson High School, where teachers spent time hashing out mission statements while the students who needed the most help were barely noticed.

They quit their jobs, set up office in a Starbucks, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and grants, got the charter granted by the local school board, hired teachers sight unseen from as far away as NYC, and set up classrooms across two donated sets of rooms (a church and the Y) that were 8 blocks apart. They barely got the weeds pulled from out front of the church building before Downtown College Prep opened on August 30, 2000. The first freshmen class was 83% Hispanic. Half the students were not fluent in English; most students were reading at the sixth-grade level.

Were Lippman and Andaluz nuts?

If so, the world needs more of that brand of insanity. Joanne's book follows the first four years in the development of DCP along with the first incoming freshman class (she was there not only as an observer and reporter, but also tutored along the way). Did the school keep its promise? I won't keep you in suspense (the book provides enough of that when the DCP staff realizes just how unskilled their incoming freshmen are). Every student who graduated in the first class of DCP was not only qualified for, but accepted to, a four-year school.

How did they do it?

"Progressive" educators should not read further unless smelling salts are at hand. Enough "protofascism" (one critic's words) exists in DCP's academic and disciplinary policies to make a touchy-feely educator faint dead away. There is no pretense of the students being at the same level of the teachers, and no condescending sugarcoating of the intensity of the work. Homework is assigned in every class, every day. Students who are still learning English aren't immune from academic probation. English students who haven't done their homework must march "the walk of shame" to update their homework charts in the front of the classrooms. No 11th-grader earns promotion to their senior year without having the GPA and test scores indicating they're eligible for Cal State (for which scholarship funds were raised).

Hoodies are confiscated; rough language is cause for a discipline referral; any student caught with drugs or alcohol is expelled (three strikes applies only in baseball - at DCP, only two referrals are necessary for a disciplinary meeting). One girl gets pregnant her first year; she is allowed to return, but is not allowed to bring the baby on campus for other girls to fuss over, and never mind free daycare. One teacher proudly displays a card, written by a student, that says, "Our teacher makes us suffer." In another classroom hangs an old WWI poster, aflame with images of crashed warplanes: "Consider the Possible Consequences If You Are Careless In Your Work."

Their policy on standardized tests? You have to ask?

Unlike many educators, Lippman and Andaluz spend no time complaining about standardized tests. They know they will be judged on measurable results by their sponsor, San Jose Unified, and by their donors. DCP started behind but it catching up...DCP jumped to a 731 on California's Academic Performance index (API) in 2005, exceeding the state average for high schools; compared to high school with similar demographcs, DCP is rated a perfect 10...

Passing the state graduation exam is not a hurdle for DCP students, who beat the state average. DCP's class of 2006 had the second highest pass rate in San Jose Unified.

It should also come as no surprise to you that mixed in with these high standard and tough sanctions were a tremendous amount of love, acceptance, and determination from Andaluz, Lippman, and every other staff member at DCP. Teachers scored the incessant homework, hiked between buildings with students, called parents when students were late or rowdy, and adhered to the same fashion and behavior standards as their charges.

Everyone, teachers and students alike, learned to turn disadvantages into possibilities for triumph. One ninth-grader's classroom misreading of the line, "ride the carousel" as "ride the carrot salad" inspired the unofficial school motto. "Riding the carrot salad" meant struggling through the unknown and conquering the seemingly-impossible. Another student made the school's bright orange "Loaner" shirt his personal, stylish trademark. When there were too many students and teachers to fit on the shuttle bus between campuses, the entire assembly walked the distance - making sure to pass the San Jose State campus on the way.

It's true that of the 102 freshman accepted the first year, only 54 graduated in four years, with two more expected to graduate the next year; the remainder transferred, moved, or were expelled. But San Jose Unified's average four-year graduation rate for Hispanic students in 1999 was only 55%, and SJU wasn't guaranteeing the results that DCP not only promised, but delivered.

The book is more than an inspiring tale of two dedicated teachers (and a raft of other crazy people devoted to the same ideals) who worked magic on their students, some of whom were entering high school with elementary-school level reading and math skills. It’s also a phenomenal and concise summary of the charter school movement in the United States. There's even a handy "How To Start A Charter School" chapter in the back. And believe me, after reading this book, you'll want to do so. I hope this book's true purpose is to convince truly progressive education reformers to reject the current system and strike out with new charter schools, because that's what it's sure to cause.

Oh, and the student whose English was so poor that he read the "carrot salad" line so wrong? After taking AP and honors classes, he was headed to Cal State Monterey Bay after graduation.

Posted by kswygert at 08:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 05, 2005

Joanne's book has arrived!

Recieved in the mail today: A copy of Joanne Jacobs' Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea, and the School That Beat the Odds. I had hoped to have a review up by today, but Wednesday is more likely.

Posted by kswygert at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2005

Buy Our School Day

Joanne Jacobs' new book is finally available for preorder! It ships November 24, and it looks fascinating:

Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds (Palgrave Macmillan) tells the story of a San Jose charter school that prepares students who are “failing but not in jail” for four-year colleges.

It really is an inspiring story. The average Downtown College Prep
student comes from a Mexican immigrant family and enters ninth grade
reading at a fifth grade level; 100 percent of graduates have been
accepted at four-year colleges and 97 percent are on track to earn a
bachelor's degree. DCP now scores well above the state average on
the Academic Performance Index, ranking in the top third compared to
all high schools, including affluent suburban schools. DCP follows
what I call the work-your-butt-off philosophy of education. Its
leaders analyze what's not working, adapt quickly and waste no time
on esteem inflation or excuses.

Joanne has asked edubloggers to spread the word, and see if we can't make book sales soar on November 10th (rank as of 6:45 am EST is 6807). Don't miss the raves by such luminaries as Jay Mathews and Abigail Thernstrom as well.

Posted by kswygert at 06:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 16, 2005

The clueless, and those who teach them

Blogger Tall, Dark, and Mysterious has far, far more patience than I. Her description of the hurdles required to get EI benefits in British Columbia is painful just to read, never mind actually deal with. And if the folks on the 1-800 "help" lines weren't clueless enough, TD&M has her students to remind her that while some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others merely gargle:

The student I’m tutoring, explaining why he didn’t do the last five questions of the homework, each of which defined a new term, and then required students to investigate how it applied to a few given functions: "These questions seem like they should have been in the lesson, not the homework. It seems like they’re trying to teach me something new."
Posted by kswygert at 08:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 09, 2005

There's a new blog on the loose

Newsbusters.org - "Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias."

RatherBiased.com, Matthew Sheffield and Greg Sheffield, to launch the NewsBusters blog to provide immediate exposure of liberal media bias, insightful analysis, constructive criticism and timely corrections to news media reporting.

Taking advantage of the MRC's thorough and ongoing tracking of liberal media bias, including a wealth of documentation and an archive of newscast video dating back 18 years, we aim to have NewsBusters play a leading role in blog media criticism by becoming the clearinghouse for all evidence of liberal media bias by joining to this formidable information store the contributions of already-established netizens as well as those who want to join in the web revolution.

They've asked me to participate. Certainly, there's evidence of biased educational reporting out there, and I'll probably cross-post over there if I fisk a reporter whose opposition to NCLB seems to depend more on Bush Derangement Syndrome than legitimate educational theory.

Posted by kswygert at 05:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 26, 2005

Hey, where are the edublogs?

Forbes.com has a new Best of the Web directory up. While they should be commended for creating a Blog directory, they completely ignore the category of edublogs. Given that their Education section has a link to homeschooling sites, this seems an odd omission; certainly parents who homeschool are an impressive presence on the blogging front.

Videogames blogs get a mention, but we don't? Sheesh!

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.

Posted by kswygert at 06:59 PM | Comments (34) | TrackBack

April 20, 2005

A carnival in spring

Life outside the blogosphere is a little rough for me right now, and I totally forgot to submit anything to this week's Carnival of Education. You, on the other hand, should head on over there immediately and check it out. It just keeps getting better.

Posted by kswygert at 05:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2005

An inspiring story

The Education Wonks note that Amazon has a photo of Joanne Jacob's upcoming book, due out in December of this year.

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We all knew it would be good, but it looks good, too.

Posted by kswygert at 09:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Teaching disabled kids

The EdWonks pointed me towards a new blog, MentorMatters, created by a special education teacher. Check her out for a different perspective on the classroom experience.

Posted by kswygert at 09:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2005

Why blogs should be encouraged in schools

From Baldilocks comes an emerging new perception of the benefits of blogging (via Instapundit):

I was kind of thrilled to find out that I could research and write a 600-word paper in three hours. Blogging is like weightlifting for bloviators.

Sisu runs with this idea:

Here's a thought. Journalism schools* -- and other writing programs -- should have students maintain a blog as part of their training in good writing (probably some already do). As our best English teachers always said, the way to become a good writer is to read good writing and write, write, write...

Let me run with it even more. The quality of writing skills produced by our K-12 public school system is obviously a concern, and the recent essay additions to both the SAT and ACT are reflections of that. Surely I wasn't the only one who noticed that some criticisms about the new SAT writing section were of the type, "How could we possibly expect students who are college-bound to write a concise essay in only 25 minutes?"

I got news for those critics - even if we grant them the argument that college-bound students shouldn't be expected to do this (and I don't), I bet that if those students were blogging, they'd be able to get a decent essay up in that time, perhaps in even less time if the topic was hot and they wanted to be the first one out with it. Oh sure, I bet the younger the blogger, the more likely you'd see "creative" grammar, spelling, punctuation, debate styles, etc going unchecked on the page. But when it comes right down to it, that blogger would still be learning the power of the written word for communication, even if they do spell their name "cRi$tOpHeR." With reader feedback, they'd be learning how to improve their communication too, once they realized that they'd misstated or misspelled or mis-conveyed something one time too often.

I will admit that I am one of the more optimistic folks when it comes to youngsters and blogging. I do have one more argument for why kids in school should blog, though, that has nothing to do with learning to write, and everything to do with understanding the rights granted to them by the First Amendment. The cases that you see in the news where schoolchildren are punished for thoughts written online and off (of which this and this and this and this are only a few examples) are horrifying.

Bloggers write what they know. Students in our public school system know their public school system, and they should be perfectly free to write positively or negatively about their experiences (should they lie about those experiences, well, it's never too early for aspiring writers to learn about U.S. libel laws, either). If schools really want to get more students interested in writing, they can start by reminding them of their First Amendment rights, and stop implementing zero-tolerance rules that snare every diarist and blogger who's had a bad day.

Update: From Mike M. comes this tale of a student who got in trouble for telling the truth online:

It all began when [Central High School student Eliazar] Velasquez, who is 17, set out to photograph [Principal Elaine] Almagno taking a smoke on school property. State law says no one can smoke within 25 feet of a school building. A friend tipped him off about her favorite spot -- in the parking lot. Armed with a digital camera, Velasquez caught her smoking beside an open door on March 7, around 4 p.m...A few days later, he posted the pictures on his Web site, centralscoop.tripod.com...

"This is a principal we're talking about. She is a leader. And here we caught her smoking on school grounds; breaking the law. . . . We feel that Ms. Almagno is not suited to be principal of Central High School. Don't take my word for it. I have pictures!"

Last Friday, Velasquez was called to the principal's office. He says Almagno began grilling him: "Tell me, who helped you design the Web site?" Velasquez said Almagno called in the school police officer, then searched his book bag. There, she found the fliers, which said, "Wanna see Mrs. Almagno take part in some illegal activities? Wanna see her breaking the law on school property? Go to centralscoop.tripod.com"...

That same day, Harold Metts, the assistant principal and also a Democratic state representative, told Velasquez he was suspended.

Um, Almagno was the one breaking the law here, right? Is it against the law to take photographs on school property? Is it against the law for a 17-year-old to have a website? Is it against the law to publish non-pornographic photos on that website?

It's not against the law to be a pest, and Velasquez seems to have a talent for it:

In a letter to Velasquez's parents, Metts wrote that the teenager was being punished for harassing and slandering the principal and the dean of students, John Hunt. Velasquez had taken a memo written by Hunt, circled a couple of grammatical errors, then posted copies of the memo around the school.

So let me get this straight. Almagno can break state law with impunity, and the dean of students doesn't know the difference between "they're" and "their" - yet Velasquez and his website are somehow the problem? Do you think any student would have the guts to post anything remotely negative about Central High School on a personal website now, after what's happened here?

And let's not even get into the paranoia and condescension that would lead a high school principal to insist that a 17-year-old isn't capable of building a website on his own.

Now for some good news. In the comments, journalist Linda Seebach describes how her son Peter benefited greatly from Usenet in middle school. Now he's a professional writer with his own blog; here he talks about the importance of learning to write quickly and automatically.

Posted by kswygert at 12:54 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

N2P is all about content

The blogosphere is having a great time dissecting this NYTimes article about how left-wing blogs are desperately trying to get their message heard in the mainstream media:

...a group of bloggers is trying to use old-fashioned telephone conference calls to share their ideas with newspaper and television journalists. The bloggers, who describe themselves as liberal or progressive, say the conference calls are intended to counter what they regard as the much stronger influence of conservative pundits online. Bob Fertik, president of Democrats.com, the host of the two calls so far, views them as a step toward getting their reports out to mainstream news organizations.

Not surprisingly, the conservative blogs feel they have greater influence because they focus more on facts and debunkings than on conspiracy theories:

Asked what lessons liberal and progressive bloggers could learn from the experience of FreeRepublic, Mr. Taylor replied that while "I'm loath to give them advice," they might have to outgrow the conspiracy-theory stage of blogging to produce reports that are credible and relevant to a wider audience.

"In the old days of FreeRepublic," he said, "we had all kinds of black helicopters" and speculation about the effect of the Y2K problem. After the world did not end on Jan. 1, 2000, he said, "We tried to be more realistic."

I must say that this has been my experience too. Wizbang says it well:

At the end of the day it comes down to content. If the lefty blogs were on the right side of the facts, the media would find them. Rather than trying to manipulate the media thru conference calls, why don't the liberal bloggers just get on their blogs and find something impressive to say?

But Noooo... Rather than compete in the arena of ideas, they want a "media subsidy" to "level the playing field."

They want affirmative action for boring bloggers.

I'm very happy to have a blog that readers come to for statistics lessons and fiskings of hysterical anti-testing rants. That's much more useful content than a blog where the main topic is, say, how President Bush is evil and wants to keep every minority child from graduating high school.

Posted by kswygert at 11:21 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 17, 2005

What blogs do

Great op-ed about blogging from Peggy Noonan:

The blogosphere isn't some mindless eruption of wild opinion. That isn't their power. This is their power:

1. They use the tools of journalists (computer, keyboard, a spirit of inquiry, a willingness to ask the question) and of the Internet (Google, LexisNexis) to look for and find facts that have been overlooked, ignored or hidden. They look for the telling quote, the ignored statistic, the data that have been submerged. What they are looking for is information that is true. When they get it they post it and include it in the debate. This is a public service.

2. Bloggers, unlike reporters at elite newspapers and magazines, are independent operators. They are not, and do not have to be, governed by mainstream thinking...

3. Bloggers have an institutional advantage in terms of technology and form. They can post immediately...

4. Bloggers are also selling the smartest take on a story. They're selling an original insight, a new area of inquiry...

5. And they're doing it free.

Guess now would be a bad time to mention the Amazon tip jar, eh?

Posted by kswygert at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What makes a teacher?

At News, the Universe, and Everything, blogger Quincy is trying to round up ideas for "What is a teacher?" The goal is to compare what he hears from you vs. the ed-school image of what a teacher should be. The project was spurred by a frightening post over at the Instructionist about the growing possibility that political ideologies will be part of teacher assessments.

Go there and comment now.

Posted by kswygert at 11:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 08, 2005

New blog

Devoted Reader and prolific commenter Adrian has started a blog. The first post is about the 2005 DOE budget, in which Adrian describes himself as "a libertarian temporarily resigned to the fact that eliminating the DoE wholesale isn’t an option." No wonder he was always posting here.

Posted by kswygert at 09:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 30, 2005

Growing up in the blogosphere

First catblogging, then babyblogging makes the big time:

The world's most thankless occupation, parenthood, has never inspired so much copy. For the generation that begat reality television it seems that there is not a tale from the crib (no matter how mundane or scatological) that is unworthy of narration. Approximately 8,500 people are writing Web logs about their children, said David L. Sifry, the chief executive of Technorati, a San Francisco company that tracks Web logs. That's more than twice as many baby blogs as last year...

With a new blog popping up every 4.7 seconds, according to Technorati, it is no surprise that there would be parent blogs, along with those for dating, politics and office life. But what makes them interesting is the way that blogging about parenthood seems to have become part of parenthood itself...

The anxiety and uncertainty so commonly expressed in the baby blogs definitely make for good reading. ("He likes cars and tutus with equal passion," Melissa Summers writes of her 2-year-old, Max, on Suburbanbliss.net. "I think he might be gay.") But it also shines a spotlight on a generation of parents ever more in need of validation, an insecurity that doesn't necessarily serve the cause.

What the blogs show is that "parents today are focused on taking their children's emotional, social and academic temperature every four or five seconds," said Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee." "It deprives us of having a long view of development. Kids do fine. The paradox is that the way to have them not do fine is to worry about them too much."

Maybe that is so. But perhaps all the online venting and hand-wringing is actually helping the bloggers become better parents and better human beings...

I confess that, despite the fact that many of my Devoted Readers are parents, I haven't read many baby blogs, save for those run by bloggers whose children are an integral yet peripheral element (like James Lileks). Except for a two-year stretch of being married with stepchildren when I was in my 20's, I have no parenting experience that could result in useful advice for others. And my life - which revolves around 12-hour-workdays, my fiance, psychometrics, music, cats, eyeshadow, black velvet clothing, Court TV, and chatting on the phone - probably doesn't have much in common with those who are minutely detailing early-morning feedings and first steps.

But I say the baby blogging is a great thing. There's no better feeling than realizing that others out there are in the same (frustrated, overworked, sleep-deprived) boat as you, and I agree entirely that sharing experiences through blogging will be extremely helpful to parents.

(Via Wizbang.)

Posted by kswygert at 10:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

A new blog

N2P Devoted Reader Darren has a new blog, Right On the Left Coast. Some of his initial posts include letters that he has written to the NEA and the California Teachers Association (he's a math teacher in Sacramento, CA).

Welcome to the blogosphere, Darren!

Posted by kswygert at 06:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 11, 2005

Keeping up with the readers

Whenever someone emails me to tell me my comments aren't working, or that I got something wrong, or that one of my links is dead/evil/requires registration, or that (God forbid) that my page isn't loading, I feel a strange sense of guilt and bewilderment, like I've become responsible for something that is not only surreal but somewhat beyond my control, letting people down today who I didn't know existed yesterday. Today, James Lileks sums up this bewildered-blogger sensation perfectly:

I am sorry I linked to a page that tried to run some Active X voodoo last week; I had no idea. I can’t say “get a Mac!” or “get Firefox!” because many of you are at work, and in the thrall to IT guys who have job security patching the shambling undead gibbering monsters belched out by Microsoft. I apologize. I did get one letter that was signed “former daily reader,” which made me weary beyond belief. I understand, but jeez. This is an odd hobby. It’s like having a train set, a gigantic train set in the basement, and in the morning you not only find a derailment you find people streaming out of the tiny houses yelling at you.

Posted by kswygert at 09:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 09, 2005

Happy New Year

Yes, I'm finally back. Not as exciting news as the Brad-and-Jen split, I know, but hopefully I still have some readers out there. Archives have been moved closer to the bottom of the page, in case any of you can't find the list of them.

New Year's Rez's, in no particular order:

1. Blog more consistently.
2. Lose 25 pounds.
3. Learn to at least fake enthusiasm when yet another co-worker stops by to request the impossible, with a side order of the merely difficult, due yesterday.
4. Learn to actually provide the impossible/difficult combo for my co-workers. Must always remember to ask them if they want to supersize it.
5. Eat less chocolate.
6. Drink less beer.
7. Exercise more.
8. Save money for the wedding.
9. Force detente among the fiance and the two cats, and make all three of them move over at night so I regain at least half my pillow and one-third of the queen-sized bed.

2, 5, and 6, are compatible, but 5 and 6 are completely at odds with 3. 7 and 1 are diametrically opposed. 5 is, in fact, impossible. Achieving 6 will also help with 8, but buying the good food necessary for 2 will keep me from reaching the 8 goal. 9 will be attainable only through brute force and will probably result in hurt feelings and hisses, but the sleep it provides is imperative for 4.

So which ones should I really focus on? Nothing like starting the New Year off with a little brain-teaser.

Also, this poll, if correct, is absolutely astounding. But, thankfully, not surprising.

Posted by kswygert at 12:47 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 08, 2004

The littlest Republican

Republican Voices is a new wesbite with some nifty graphics and a nice design. There's an editor's blog, a chatroom, and more (including a "Hate Mail" link, the hottest thing for right-wing blogs). Its mission? Read what its founder and editor, Emil Levitin, has to say:

I decided to make this website when I saw this, www.presidentmoron.com (take a few seconds looking at the upside down flag on this liberal website). I took this image as personally offensive to me. Being a proud patriot, I could not believe how Americans can offend Americans. I realized that a new type of culture had formed in the United States which is called liberalism...

I decided that I want to show the country what liberalism really is through my columns. Everything is possible, through heavy research of liberal books, websites etc. Everything can be found and I feel a responsibility to reveal all of this to America and stop liberalism from spreading.

If Levitin's grammar and phrasing seems a bit off, well, that's to be expected, considering he's only 11 years old. Or so he says, and so we think. Given that reporters believe it's hot news when 10-year-olds publicly oppose testing, will Master Levitin, if he's really only 11, garner some fawning newspaper coverage as well?

Yeah, right.

Posted by kswygert at 03:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 07, 2004

Another misconception of what "bias" means

Just had to point out this sneering quote that Michelle Malkin found, buried in a WaPo article about bloggers being allowed in the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this year:

...neither party has ever allowed bloggers to cover one of its presidential conventions firsthand -- and the decision seems to promise a clash of two very different cultures. The conventions have become carefully staged productions intended, primarily, to reintroduce the parties' nominees to the general public. Independent blogs -- especially those focusing on politics -- are far more freewheeling, their authors mixing fact with opinion and under no obligation to be either fair or accurate.

Pardon me while I gag. No, political bloggers - who almost always link to source articles so that readers can check the material for themselves - are not obligated to be accurate. No, political bloggers - who almost always identify their leanings very clearly on the very front page, if not in the actual titles of their blogs - are not obligated to be fair. I think what galls this reporter is that such bloggers often are accurate, and if not, publicly fact-checked. What's more, "fairness" isn't an issue because such bloggers rarely claim, as many newspaper falsely do, to be "unbiased" and "balanced" about issues. The suggestion that journalists who cover the conventions would have no biases is absurd, but unlike bloggers, they're unlikely to be honest about it.

I just had to comment on this, if for no reason other than a former friend of mine was appalled to find out that I was blogging my opinions about psychometrics. He was furious that I wasn't providing balance on my blog; I wasn't allowing people who disagreed with me equal time on a blog that I alone fund and slave over. How dare I not allow these people their "free speech."

I couldn't figure out what his deal was, until I realized that he had been so brainwashed into believing that the only acceptable method was of reporting anything is in an "unbiased" fashion that he can't deal with honestly-opinionated reporting. I think he truly believes, as does this WaPo reporter, that it is wrong for someone who is informed about a topic to take a stance, and quote material (research, data, events) in an effort to convince readers to support that particular mindset - to mix fact with opinion, as the horrified reporter said.

In the mind of this former friend, my blog should never present anything except a "balanced" view on testing, and the idea that I support tests, and testing, and will roundly criticize anyone who bashes tests in a clueless fashion, is, to him, "biased" rather than, well, having an informed opinion and allowing other people to know that.

As I said, a former friend.

Posted by kswygert at 06:09 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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