Topic >> education

Stop multitasking and watch this video! I said STOP!

education, technology, video No Comments »

MultitaskingNo seriously, it’s worth your time. An episode of Frontline called the Digital Nation aired last night exploring how the internet and related technologies have touched our lives, for the both good and ill. The segment on multitasking in the 8 minute clip below is particularly telling. Not because the conclusions reached aren’t obvious, but because it so succinctly describes the state most of us find ourselves in when we are “connected.” Watch:

The entire episode is 90 minutes definitely worth the time and can be watched at

California school district removes dictionary over “oral sex”

education, news No Comments »

dictionaryoralsexRemind me again why we live in California?

Menifee School District in southern California has decided to yank Merriam Webster’s 10th edition from all library shelves after a fifth grader’s mom complained that it contained the term “oral sex.” From the Press Enterprise:

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the “sexually graphic” entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.

“It’s just not age appropriate,” said Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.

“It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” Cadmus said. She explained that other dictionary entries defining human anatomy would probably not be cause for alarm.

Wow. Who knew the dictionary was such a treasure trove of filth? I’ll have to remember that the next time I play Scrabble (NSFW).

Anti-gay professor spares NYU, decides to stay home

activism, education, lgbt No Comments »

Dr. Li-Ann ThioDr. Li-ann Thio, an anti-gay professor from the National University of Singapore, has decided not to accept an invitation to teach at NYU this fall, citing lack of enrollment in her classes and a hostile atmosphere. Many among the faculty and student body expressed outrage with the invitation over anti-gay remarks made by Dr. Thio while serving in the Singapore Parliament in 2007. Dean Richard L. Revesz, Law Dean at NYU, released a statement in response to Dr. Thio’s withdrawal.

I am writing to let you know that Professor Li-ann Thio informed me today that she is canceling her Fall visit to NYU Law School as a Global Visiting Professor as a result of the controversy surrounding her views regarding homosexuality and gay rights. She explained that she was disappointed by what she called the atmosphere of hostility by some members of our community towards her views and by the low enrollments in her classes. The Law School will therefore cancel the course on Human Rights in Asia and the seminar on Constitutionalism in Asia, which she had been scheduled to teach.

In the last few weeks, a number of members of our community wrote to Professor Thio indicating their objection to her appointment as a visiting professor. She considers some of these messages to be offensive. In turn, she replied to them in a manner that many member of our community—myself included—consider offensive and hurtful. These exchanges have been circulated on various blogs. Members of our community have questioned whether Professor Thio’s statements create an unwelcoming atmosphere, one in which students in her classes would have been unable to participate effectively in the learning experience. Determination of where that point is on the continuum of free speech is a difficult, case-by-case judgment based upon context, history of the relationship, and many other factors. But it would be an extraordinary measure, almost never taken by universities in the United States, to cancel a course on the basis of e-mail exchanges between a faculty member and members of the student body. To do so would eviscerate the concept of academic freedom and chill student-faculty debate.

The letter in full attempts to absolve the NYU of any responsibility, citing the invitation was extended under  standard academic practices, while at the same time remaining  sympathetic to those who were offended by her views. It’s a difficult to line to straddle, and it’s unclear how the faculty, student body and community will receive it.

40 years ago today, 3 brave souls hitched a ride to the moon…

education, science, technology, video 1 Comment »

Apollo 11 Crew

Warning… veering off topic…

On a humid July morning 40 years ago today, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin climbed aboard the most dangerous vehicle man had ever built, on a voyage to the moon.

I was two and half years old. I remember that day, or at least have convinced myself that I remember it, sitting in front of an old black and white television watching a streak of light hurtle towards the stars.

Like most boys growing up, I was fascinated by all things space and dinosaurs. While interest in the Jurassic and Cretaceous eventually faded, the love of space and space travel, did not. Astronomy books, science-fiction novels, movies, I couldn’t get enough. I was a certified space geek.

When I went off to college I decided to study aerospace engineering, with the dream of working one day for NASA or JPL, but soon realized I had little of the prerequisite discipline necessary for that field of study, ie the math. And there was a lot of it. So I switched to Journalism, which had only slightly more math than English. But my interest in all things space never waned.

Barely a year into my studies I watched in horror as the shuttle Challenger exploded into a million pieces across the Atlantic. I attended no class that day, not even the Astronomy elective I was taking. I remember President Reagan’s moving tribute later that same evening: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God…”

Earth from the MoonThere have certainly been other triumphs and disasters since, but for me, none quite so much like the day humankind took their first steps on the moon.

In honor of 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, the JFK Library and Museum explores the mission in extraordinary detail at The site tracks the mission in realtime as it happened, creating a thoroughly immersive and cool experience. Be sure to check it out.

There are also some beautiful, and some rarely seen photographs from before, during and after the mission at The Big Picture: Remembering Apollo 11.

Looking back over these past 4 decades as a man in his early 40s, I had hoped by now we would have at least planted a flag, any flag, in the red sands of Mars. But unfortunately, no. In fact it’s been 37 years since we last walked the on the face of the moon. And now, as I approach middle age, it seems unlikely that either will happen, or happen again, in my lifetime.

But I am a space geek. And I am hopeful.

Video of that memorable launch and landing below.