Friday, March 24, 2006

The Everyday Economist

The Everyday Economist: "Iraq Documents
March 23rd, 2006 by Josh

I am surprised that I have not seen more stories — especially in the blogosphere — about the newly surfaced Iraqi documents.

ABC News reports on a document that gives credence to those who believed there was a connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Additionally, blogger Ray Robison’s own reporting and translation has produced a document that details the plans for a WMD scrub.

These documents may very well become the most important story about the war in 2006.

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard reports:

SADDAM HUSSEIN’S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq. An eight-page fax dated June 6, 2001, and sent from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, provides an update on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and indicates that the Iraqi regime was providing the group with money to purchase weapons. The Iraqi regime suspended its support–temporarily, it seems–after high-profile kidnappings, including of Americans, focused international attention on the terrorist group.

Video can be found here."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

spring break

This spring break has not been an exciting one - mainly catching up since there is quite a bit of travel to professional meetings once we return from spring break. Sabbatical is formal and so that is a good thing.

I've caught up with the hard part - grading. Now I need to finish the rest of the planning for my foreign policy class -how best to emphasize more recent Middle Eastern events in only a few weeks is obviously a challenge.

I usually finish seeing student teachers before spring break but still have two to see - block schedules and testing and video units made things a bit more challenging this year. Plus all the extra meetings on campus that seem to have creeped into my schedule.

Am looking forward to the travel although I never thought I'd be going to DC twice in the same month for 5-6 days each time. Hopefully April weather is good and at least one fo those weeks hits cherry blossom time.

Did some work in Kansas City on Monday and Tuesday and head out for fun tomorrow afternoon and evening with a friend - shopping and fancy food!

Thought I was getting sick early this week but the antibiotic seems to be working - along with the self-imposed additional rest. I knew I needed the antiobiotic when I slept 11 hours one night after not having taken anything. I'm usually closer to a 7-hour sleepr. But obviously my body needed it. I'm getting older and wiser - after all, I'm getting old enough my body will make me listen to it or I'll pay a heavier price than I did in my teens and twenties :-)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Daily Grind: She'll be in my class someday...

The Daily Grind: She'll be in my class someday...: "She'll be in my class someday...

While driving home from gettin my hair cut, I stopped to put gas in my car. As I waited to turn on to the main road, I observed a young girl in the backseat of a car point to balloons that flew above a sign advertising an open house down the street. The car was stopped at a red light.
The driver, the mother I assume, openned her door, hopped out, grabbed the balloons, and hopped back in just in time to catch the light as it turned green.

With the WASL (our state mandated test) starting on Monday, I thought about the lessons we learn that will never be found on a test. That child learned many lessons today. Stealing is okay as a long as nobody gets hurt. If YOU really want something, someone will give it to you. Her mother will do whatever she is asked. And, everything in life is easy.

These lessons will translate to her life in school. She will walk into my classroom as a ninth grader and, having forgotten her pencil, take one off my desk, forgetting to give it back at the end of class. She will forget to turn in a major assignment, and then five weeks later, at the end of the quarter, expect that I let her turn it in--for full credit. If I don't accept it, she will, on her lunch break the next period, use her cell-phone to call her mom, who will immediately call me demanding I treat her daughter with respect. And when I still don't budge, she will cry to her counselor that I am retaliating against her, treating her unfairly, and she feels intimidated in my class, therfore needing to switch to another teacher.

With such lessons available at home, or in public, what serious use is an exam to test the student's ability to think for themselves, analyze and solve problems, communicate in words their thoughts, or any other unecessary and stupid thing?"

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Via new kid:

my personality

Boston Legal

A friend has me hooked on this show.

Boston Legal

A friend has me hooked on this show.

Monday, March 13, 2006

"Intellectual Backwaters"

Confessions of a Community College Dean: Shards, or, Life in a Northern Town: "Shards, or, Life in a Northern Town
I grew up in a backwater city, the kind of place where it’s always cloudy and cold and everybody is short and wide and the economy peaked a few generations ago. It’s one of those black holes of humanity from which not even hope can escape. The kind of place where the high school kids with ambition set their primary ambition as moving.

If you didn’t grow up in a place like that, it’s hard to convey what it’s like. As a kid, of course, you really don’t notice. But as you move into your teen years and the world gets bigger than your street, you start to notice that all the really interesting stuff happens in other places. Travel is difficult, since your city isn’t really on the way anywhere. The good bands don’t come; going to a concert is a many-hour drive. The ‘celebrities’ from your town, D-listers anywhere else, get an embarrassing amount of local coverage. Anything that’s happening is happening somewhere else."

More great food for thought from Dean Dad. Here's my comment (#22 on his list): I have usually been told (primarily by northerners) that my time in larger metro areas primarily in the southern US were "intellectual backwaters" for professional women. It's interesting to see this take on the northern 'backwaters' - on top of the contrast of what it's like to live in cities like NYC and actually survive and thrive.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Great day with teachers

We had a great TAH seminar today with Dr. Stephen Whitfield about the Culture of the Cold War. Teachers were really responsive and were also genuinely excited to hear about our Summer 2007 plans that include two weeks with Gilder Lehrman including a week in Boston. None of them have been there before so it will be great for all of us!

Tomorrow, I'm off to Kansas City to travel to Chicago to research at the National Archives there as well as visit Pullman and the Hull House and to hear a great speaker at the Newberry Library. Should be fun and educational all at the same time. I'm also meeting with a colleague about a book project to add the icing to the cake.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Academic, Heal Thyself - New York Times

Academic, Heal Thyself - New York Times: "Over the last three decades of trendy poststructuralism and postmodernism, American humanities professors fell under the sway of a ruthless guild mentality. Corruption and cronyism became systemic, spread by the ostentatious conference circuit and the new humanities centers of the 1980's. Harvard did not begin that blight but became an extreme example of it. Amid the ruins of the Summers presidency, there is a tremendous opportunity for recovery and renewal of the humanities. Which way will Harvard go?"

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tightly Wound

Tightly Wound: "Tuition costs keep rising at a higher rate than salaries. We've got kids coming out of school with more debt load than I have with a mortgage and a family. It seems pretty natural for folks to start questioning the value of college education, and to start paying attention to what, exactly, these tenured 'untouchables' are doing in their classrooms.

Academics should be worried, and not about David Horowitz, because it seems to me that--fair or not--we're heading toward a place where 'learning for its own sake,' no longer justifies the expense, and the consequences will be dire indeed--and not just for the academics."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Chronicle Chronicles

The February 17 Chronicle just arrived in my mailbox . . . . There were two interesting articles - one on the digital project about American author Herman Melville. It's from the University of Virginia Press and can be found here and allows the reader to follow Melville through the drafting and editing of that text. It points to how the web can allow the reader to follow more than one linear track - if they choose to do so.

The article, "Leaving the Village," discusses how professors need to worry about writing for a wider audience and addresses the continuing challenges facing academic publishing - an industry which can no longer serve as the promotion machine for universities. It will be interesting to see the changes in the traditional view to this view even in the next ten years.

Grammatical Speed Traps - The Daily Grind

The Daily Grind: "After reading the premiere post on apostrophe use, I recalled a recent lesson on grammar that I gave to my 9th graders. It went something like this:

'In college, I worked at a hotel. I had to travel on the 405 highway to get to work. The speed limit is 60. I had difficulty following that speed limit at all times. But, I did know that there were three areas that I absolutely needed to obey the rules. If I didn't, a speed trap would get me.
More than once, I forgot to adjust to the traps and wound up with a ticket. The use of grammar is much the same.'
I then asked, 'When do you get away with not following grammatical rules?'
Many students knew that text messaging, instant messaging, and e-mail between friends provides them with the opportunity to not follow the rules.
'No one is checking up on you when you text message, so, yes, you can get away with it. But does that reality change the existing rule? No. Just like when I was speeding, I was breaking the rules. There are grammatical speed traps on a regular basis. You have to know where those traps are. The WASL is a main one. Homework assignments--essays, tests, and other formal assignments require you to follow the rules. That is why it is important that you know the rules. '
I hope that they understood, and will follow my advice. It will pay off in a couple of weeks when they reach that big speed trap of the WASL."

Late Drops - The Cranky Professor

The Cranky Professor: "He says colleges that allow students to drop courses with no penalty long after an initial sampling period, or allow students to repeat no-credit remedial courses, are creating conditions that raise the likelihood that those students will not graduate. They are also are depriving other students of a chance to fill those seats"

The Cranky Professor's post points to a problem at our university - students can drop into the 11th week - it's part of our "family environment". However, it challenges the push for instructors to be challenging since students who don't like their grade can drop the course instead of learning how to stick with something and finish it. There is a pattern among students who consistently drop and this article points to the fact that we're not really doing them any favors. But I can imagine the squawking if students weren't allowed to drop this late - it's traditional after all. We also don't take into account all the work done in teaching and grading by the professors who can't drop students earlier for not doing the work - only for not coming to class and usually these students come just enough to plead not to be dropped for financial aid, etc. And this isn't even consider the costs to taxpayers of keeping that student in the class (thus, in most cases, keeping someone else out, as the article points out) It's nice to have your own perceptions occasionally backed up by research.

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