Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 356

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Congratulations to blogger, author, and long-time visitor here, Carrie Rubin, on the release of her latest book (The Bone Curse). Click here for the Amazon link.

This Sunday is Eastern for Western Christianity. That also means the handbells will be involved with music on multiple occasions. This Joyful Eastertide is our featured song. For those listening, 1) we will be without the trumpets, and 2) you will easily hear the difference between playing handbells and chimes as we switch from one to the other several times during the piece. Click here to listen.

Cincinnatians treat Opening Day (for baseball) as a festive holiday event. Major League Baseball (MLB) is starting the season earlier than normal, and this year, it happens to be in front of Easter weekend – which conflicts with the businesses that sponsor the Opening Day parade. In other words, the first game and the parade will not be on the same day. Thanks you MLB.

I’m a life-love Cincinnati Reds fan. Given the teams lack of success over the past 25 years, apathy would be a good word to describe my outlook for the season. I wish them well. I will root for them. I will remain loyal – but I don’t expect much.

Sears is a struggling company. How can the Sears Board of Directors in good conscience give their CEO are bonus ?

Do you remember the term tattletails? Even though I haven’t heard in many years, this local editorial focused on the term while relating it to various local and national events. I think this is a worthy read. 

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A few days ago I received a one-side survey for supporting President Trump and Republican Party. Filling it out was worth the time and stamp. In the extra comments box I wondered why the committee would keep sending me these surveys – especially considering my answers and other comments.

I like this question asked by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press: (I paraphrase) Which event will have greater impact six months from now: the gun control rallies or Stormy Daniels?

Because the extremes have a way of digging in, I still find it difficult to believe that America can have a true discussion about gun control. Then again, surprises can happen.

As a whole, I believe most Americans strongly dislike negative campaigns. However, this statement on Politico caught him attention. In preparing to go toe-to-toe with Trump, Democrats will have to take some sparring practice, and not all the punches are going to land. But to insist that candidates shouldn’t treat the campaign like a schoolyard brawl is to deny the reality that one of the candidates is going to make sure that it is one.

The US Supreme Court has their hands full with dealing with gerrymandering.

Thank you Stephen Colbert for continuing to make me laugh as a way of dealing with the current White House occupant and his administration.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a timeline for 20 years of Netflix.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man assumed celebrity sighting would do much for his career
Classically trained actor can talk on cue
Dead medieval woman gave birth to baby in coffin
Handwriting expert confirms killer used cursive
Man calls trust fund his savings

Interesting Reads
Resilient life in an Indian coastal town
Is the Democratic Big-Tent shrinking?
Science and social media
World maps with literal names for countries
Censoring in Egypt
Places on Earth that seem to be from another world

To send you into the weekend (and as move toward their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), here’s another Moody Blues classic. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On BLINK Murals

Cincinnati is blessed that ArtWorks has added over 120 murals throughout the city – many of which are downtown. Along comes BLINK, which adds murals 10 murals to the collection by artists from Belgium, Brazil, England, Lithuania, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Peru, Spain, and the United States. Enjoy the ones I saw.

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We didn’t see all the murals that evening, but here’s a glimpse.

 

To see all the murals, click to visit the BLINK page on murals. 

To see other posts about BLINK, click here.

To see past posts featuring Cincinnati’s ArtWorks murals, click here.

For those who enjoy murals and street art, I encourage you to visit the one who got me interested in this topic –Resa @ Graffiti Lux & Murals.

On a Beach Walk: No. 18

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I recall my first exposure to statistics in college. To me, interesting stuff – but something that takes time to comprehend its usefulness. In those days (1974-75) classes emphasized was on calculations using complex formulas by hand in a world without calculators. One of pencil, paper, a slide rule, and the occasional abacus.

The professor made one particular statement that stuck with me (so I paraphrase) – “In the not-too-distant future, computers will do all the calculations and statistics classes will concentrate on their meaning.”

I believe those Texas Instrument calculators arrived in the late 70s-early 80s. I recall having high school students who were enthusiastically proud of having one of those calculators. I would channel my statistics professor by encouraging those students to keep their cherished calculators forever so they could show their kids an example of archaic.

As I look across the water, I see today’s world as a vast sea of data and statistics. So many numbers that are ripe for picking. As a colleague used to say in our discussions, “Take a stance – any stance – and then go get the numbers to support it because they are available.”

But today’s world is going beyond even that statement. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a data-driven tool designed to scrutinize and apply large amounts of data in order to establish trends that will lead to faster and better decisions.

AI gets the most out of data. Today we marvel at Alexia’s existence, but that is a simpler application than what AI is doing in health care, manufacturing, research, and throughout business.

Dr. Fyffe was the statistic professor who made that statement. I don’t know if he envisioned the coming of AI that day, but that’s where we’ve come and where society is going. Oh what will we see in our daily lives just 10 years from today?

Although I remain an optimist for a positive future, one can find many reasons to have a negative view of tomorrow. Time will deliver the answer – it always does because it always has – but for this place in time – today – walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 355

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“My week” is about to end. My Week? Yep – this is the week my wife went cruising with a group of ladies. They have a great time. Besides, she won’t miss the cold and snow! Meanwhile, I danced a lot!

After holding such high hopes for two local college basketball teams, the world crashed on Cincinnati last Sunday when both teams losing after having double-digit leads with ten minutes to go. That day may be the worst single day in Cincinnati sports history.

CBS News created a wonderful series called Note to Self – a reflection by famous people writing a letter to a younger version of themselves. Here’s the official website. Many are also on YouTube, so they are worth searching and taking a few minutes to listen. The book version is coming soon.

Given my interest in the relationship between science and theology, my wife urged me to read Dan Brown’s latest book – Origins – which I am now doing. It is interesting … and long.

Here’s a great video that celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. It’s worth the few minutes.

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Talk and policies favoring US isolation and protectionism while trying to be cognizant of a resurgent Russia, a continual growing China, and numerous global hotspots has lessened (and will continue to lessen) the US standing in the world.

Does anyone remember the day of the talk of the Tillerson-Mattis-Kelly pact of if one of them goes, they all go? Well, one week ago Mr. Tillerson lost his job as Secretary of State, but the other two are still in their respective positions. So much for that rumor.

Trumpians like to complain that the Mueller investigation will delegitimize the election. Nope – to me, President Trump won fair and square. However, the investigation is necessary on other grounds.

I recently described (to a friend) the 2016 Presidential Election as the Democrats missing a layup. Because I foresee Democrats gaining in the 2018 midterms, that also sets them up for missing another layup in 2020.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists benefits of being a risk-taker.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Dozens of other countries that interfered in 2016 election annoyed Russia getting all the credit
Swans in committed relationship barely even arch necks into heart shape anymore
World’s oldest message in bottle found on Australian beach
Kinky couple has mirror in bathroom
Only 40% of mice have welcome mat, doorway leading into tiny house inside wall

Interesting Reads
A cliff special to geology
Heredity beyond genes
The numbers and gun violence
Seven explorers who vanished
Studying drawings of scientists by kids
Europe’s last pagan nation
(Interactive & article) Global migration since 1990
A view of miracles and science

To send you into the weekend (and as work toward Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), here’s one of my favorite Moody Blues songs that you may not know. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Day of a Teacher

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I stopped at the grocery store on the way home where the clerk said to me that I looked tired and must have had a tough day. After I smiled and affirmed her observations, she encouraged me to relax this evening. While nodding, I said to myself, “Who is she kidding?”

The 6:30 AM-to- PM part of the day at the high school was interesting.

  • I arrive at 6:30 AM for the final preparations of the day.
  • 7:25 AM – Homeroom starts and it’s too short to do scheduling justice.
  • Three classes (85 minutes each) had lab activities, which had various issues.
  • The fourth class had a Performance Objective Assessment (POA), a required district assessment.
  • During my conference period I had a parent conference on the phone, then went to the Special Ed. room to work with students.
  • After the last class, I knew 16 students would be retaking a different POA, but little did I know there was still more to come.

It’s 2:30 PM.

  • Most students arrived for the retakes – so getting them started is the priority.
  • Another student wanted to discuss grades. She saw the time wasn’t right and was willing to talk some other time – I was thankful.
  • A second student graciously waited as we had to shift from one make-up item to another, and then I finally started 20 minutes of tutoring.

It’s 3:00 PM. As the tutored student left, a Special Ed student entered to retake a POA. I decided to test him orally; and I determined he was deficient. Learning is very difficult for him and I would like to continue oral evaluations with him. I tried remediation and found some helpful websites for him to do in the classroom for about fifteen minutes while I continued multi-tasking.

It’s 3:15 PM. Another struggling student appears – the one who appeared earlier then left. She was very patient with the hectic after-school period. I’m sure school isn’t easy for her, but her academic laziness compounds the problem.

It’s 3:25 PM. A parent appears at the door for a surprise meeting. I excused myself from the student to meet with the parent. I addressed her questions, and she kept it short because she saw I was working with a student.

It’s 4:30 PM. The tutoring session is over; and I think it went well. I’m alone in the room, so I prepare to finish a few tasks before leaving for home.

It’s 4:35 PM. A student who made-up a POA earlier (and the son of the walk-up parent) wanted to go over the POA to see how he did. Good news – he did well. He’s been improving yet doesn’t yet “show” the grades to please his parents. We talked as I tried to give him some insight in school success.

It’s 4:45 PM. Has the last student finally gone? I think so … but it’s time to check the phone messages to see who called. I imagine some parents because it is “Interim Reports Day.” Yep … two parents. I returned the first message as it seemed to be more pressing. Fortunately, it was a positive conversation.

It’s 4:55 PM – Time to check my email. Yikes! – an unpleasant note from Special Ed. Good timing! … and to think that working with them and their students has been a source of personal pride on all counts. I’ve even received commendations for that work.

It’s 5:00 PM. I’m tired … time to go home – but I have to stop at the grocery store for a few items. I recorded the after-school events.

It’s almost 8:00 PM (but I’m home). I had dinner and did the dishes. I haven’t read the paper nor watch the news. Fortunately through dinner, I did get a chance to talk to my wife.

I still have those 16 papers to grade so those student can get their updates tomorrow in order to cushion the mid-term report damage. Who knows how many other papers are overdue. Plus, I wonder what I will be doing in class tomorrow – and classroom readiness is another personal pride. I don’t feel ready … all along I keep thinking about the Kroger clerk’s suggestion.

This account was a real day – maybe not a typical day – but very real – actually a modified account of a reflection that I wrote (and kept) as one of the assignments required by our building administration.

Teacher is a difficult but rewarding career. It’s the joys of movies as October Sky and Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s the wide-range of emotions from Dead Poets Society and Stand & Deliver. Teaching is also similar to a Rocky movie of being resilient from being a punching bag and getting knocked day.

Yes – this was 18 years ago – and to think the pressure on teachers today is much greater than then. I wonder – How many teachers today will reach full retirement?

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On Beach Walk No. 17

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The vast waters keeps serving as a metaphor for knowledge. If the water represents the sea of knowledge – all that is known – am I standing on the shore of ignorance? Oh yes – the importance of lifelong learner.

My mind keeps thinking about knowledge and learning. Einstein stated, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Passing a toy sand bucket reminds me that everyone enters a learning situation caring knowledge in 3 buckets – 3 buckets that involve filling and emptying – 3 buckets of knowledge – what they know, what they think the know (but don’t), and what they don’t know.

A good learning situation reinforces what the learner knows while adding to the didn’t know bucket. But, a just-as-important situation lies in the middle bucket – the information one thinks they know but don’t. This information serves as the foundation of misconceptions and illogical conclusions. This is the information that only the learner can declare as “incorrect”, then replace it with new correct information.

For instance, how accurate is one’s conclusion if the person starts with an incorrect assumption as the first or early domino in their logic? How willing is that person going to listen to a correct explanation? How willing is that person to admit they are wrong?

I think about the ways one can justify blood in our veins is blue. We see the blue beneath our skin. We see the red and blue diagrams of blood circulation in diagrams. If a person believes blood is blue, they will do whatever they can to justify their incorrect position by assuming the instantaneous color change when venous blood from a cut contacts the air.

The refreshing water rekindles a situation I experienced at a conference many years ago. The presenter made a point that I processed as, “Oh, that’s what it means – so I’ve been doing a good job of doing it wrong for 12 years.” Yes, that moment was a professional game changer for me. A moment that set the need for learning something new and changing past behaviors.

The bottom line is that only the learner can replace the incorrect information in their belief system. Only the learner can learn and unlearn. Not the teacher, not the trainer, not the expert – only the learner can do that.

I look across the water and down the beach at the horizons, which causes me to think of other metaphors. Is the horizon a learning boundary? Is the horizon a new level of knowledge? Does the horizon represent the distinction between the known and unknown? I’ll save the horizon for another day – another walk – because I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Opinions in the Shorts: No. 354

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It’s good to return to my little corner of the world with various tidbits, thoughts, and commentary. I sadly report that I didn’t write as much as I hoped during my blog break.

Love this factoid: Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death, then died on Einstein’s birthday (which also happened to be Pi Day). A toast to Dr. Hawking’s contribution.

March Madness of college basketball is officially underway. Cincinnati is proud to support two teams in the top eight seeds. Two teams located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart and ranked in the top 6 ,  Interesting that both teams start in Nashville. Meanwhile, besides the two local teams, I’ll be rooting for ABK – Anybody But Kentucky.

The tournament committee got many selections correct, but excluding worthy teams at the expense of selecting teams that we .50o or worse in their conference is pathetic.

We recently saw a play about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a musical pioneer who influenced greats as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, and more. She wheeled her guitar as she sung a blend of blues, gospel, and a forerunner to rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct her next month.

 

John Tyler, the 10th US President, occupied the White House 1841-1845. Amazingly, his grandson is still alive! Here’s the head-scratching story.

While south for 6 weeks, we danced very little because ballroom wasn’t readily available. Although we are back in cold weather, the good news is we have returned to the dance floor – but rusty. Being away from handbells for 6 weeks creates uncertainty when returning to rehearsal. Both dancing and playing handbells will improve with time and repetition.

A few editions ago I mentioned about I would be dancing a bolero at an upcoming studio event. Unfortunately, my partner and I have respectfully withdrawn.

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Although the quote isn’t by Gloria Steinem, the viral message of gun purchases following similar procedures a woman seeking an abortion in some states is an interesting thought.

This statement in Politico about the success of the National Rifle Association (NRA): It’s not the money. It’s because the NRA has built a movement that has convinced its followers that gun ownership is a way of life, central to one’s freedom and safety, that must be defended on a daily basis.

As Democrats have been loudly complaining about gerrymandering, I have to throw in some bits. 1) Gerrymandering has been around a long time. 2) Democrats do it, too. 3) The use of data and sophisticated software by both parties heightens the problem. Therefore, the time for finding a different way is now.

This week the House Intelligence Committee (and prime example of an oxymoron) concluded its investigation by stating no collusion existed between the Trump campaign. I give them as much credence as I would a Democratic-led committee finding collusion. I patiently await the results by the independent investigation led by Robert Mueller – therefore will accept this findings.

In my response to a poll about tariffs by my representative, I reminded him that I was against tariffs regardless of the president’s party affiliation – then asked him if he would react the same way if a Democratic president proclaimed the tariffs.

Personally, I wish many Republicans would give the party to the President Trump, his minions, and the uber-conservatives – thus walk away. At the same time I wish many Democrats would give the party to the uber-liberals, thus walk away. Too bad they lack the guts to do that.

Not that many years ago Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was a darling of Republican conservatives. Since withdrawing from the 2016 Republican Presidential primaries, I haven’t heard “boo” from the man – until earlier this week. It seems Gov. Walker is taking a more conciliatory tone and voicing a concern about his party’s direction. (Click here for the article.)

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic about the pros and cons of open relationships.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Roomba claims another pet gerbil
Beer aisle scanned for something asshole friend won’t mock
New evidence reveals Ancient Greeks immediately regretted inventing theater
Perverted measles virus exposes itself to playground full of children
Barbaric fifth grader gouges paper onto binder ring without so much as hole punch
FDA cancels bacon recall after finding U.S. population already ate it all

Interesting Reads
Bots and misinformation
France and the age of consent
Defining death
Nature on an island abandoned by humans
Life from microbes
The Smithsonian looks at daylight savings time
(Images) Winter Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony

I know I featured this song not long ago, but it fits. Along with my return from Blog Break, April 14th also approaches – the day their long-delayed induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.