from Daily Mail:
I am a Greene fan, and I've seen both film versions and had wanted to read account of a a careless and naive American in Vietnam in the late 1950s as seen by a jaded British reporter. It is a great book, beautifully crafted and unsentimental, and the politics are right on and immensely relevant today. A strong recommendation for all.
I had high hopes from this collection of transcripts from Cooke's long-running BBC radio program, and the early years were quite interesting and fun to read. He seemed to be able to perceive American culture accurately and without prejudice in the 40s and 50s. Over time, however, Cooke's liberal conservatism became old-man conservatism, and the post-1980 essays seem to be out of touch and self-aggrandizing. I didn't actually finish these -- I skimmed the 90s and 00s looking for obituary reminiscences, which are interesting at least.
from The Smart Set:
There is a really interesting book to be written on how the Internet and technology is changing our way of thinking, but so far we either have foolish optimism — like Steven Johnson's assertion in Everything Bad Is Good for You that video games and sitcoms are actually making us smarter, supported with vague "neurological" and "cerebral" terms and the lack of a definition of what Johnson means by "smarter" — or the aforementioned doom and gloom. Maggie Jackson is so hysterical in the introduction to her book Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age that it's difficult to take anything in the following chapters seriously. That "Coming Dark Age" is not in the subtitle for nothing — Jackson really does believe that our wired world is going to cause a great collapse of civilization.
When someone asked her about her advice to writers, she said: "Spend some time living before you start writing. What I find to be very bad advice is the snappy little sentence, 'Write what you know.' It is the most tiresome and stupid advice that could possibly be given. If we write simply about what we know we never grow. We don't develop any facility for languages, or an interest in others, or a desire to travel and explore and face experience head-on. We just coil tighter and tighter into our boring little selves. What one should write about is what interests one."
It's really easy to get in the habit of seeing a new shiny piece of technology and just assume that we can dump it into an educational setting and !voila! miracles will happen. Yet, we also know that the field of dreams is merely that, a dream. Dumping laptops into a classroom does no good if a teacher doesn't know how to leverage the technology for educational purposes. Building virtual worlds serves no educational purpose without curricula that connects a lesson plan with the affordances of the technology. Without educators, technology in the classroom is useless.
Yet, when we introduce technology in an educational setting, we often mistakenly assume that students will embrace the technology in the same way that we do. This never works out and can cause unexpected strife.
Bless you, poets.org. Here's a taste:
In Carl Sandburg's poem "In a Breath," the speaker escapes into the cool of a movie house only to find a film playing out the hunt and death of a shark. The speaker recounts the jarring moment through description: "Its mouthful of teeth, each tooth a dagger itself, set row on row, glistens when the shuddering, yawning cadaver is hauled up by the brothers of the swimmer." The poet, who lived and wrote in a time before people could watch sharks on television, conveys as film itself might what complicated emotions come with witnessing one of the earth's most mysterious predators.
This little pocket-sized generator runs the kinetics of the robot outside on sunny days, or inside under a 50-watt halogen lamp. The parts go together to form six different shapes of robot: a car, a puppy, an airboat, a plane, a windmill, and another plane that flies around a pole. No screws are involved in the assembly, so it should go pretty fast. And when you get tired of one configuration, just reassemble it into another shape! I’d like to see the puppy walk most of all. I think the cats would really enjoy that.
The 6 in 1 Solar Robot Kit is £12.99 in the UK...
from The Smart Set:
This round-headed man's ubiquitous presence on the visual landscape belies his very particular origin. He was born in the 1920s to Austrian philosopher and social scientist Otto Neurath. A member of the collection of philosophers known as the Vienna Group, Neurath helped develop the theory of logical positivism, a marriage of rationalism and empiricism, of knowledge gained through reason and that gained through experience. For Neurath, the inconsistencies and changing nature of verbal language made it a poor medium for the transmission of knowledge; he sought instead a uniform visual communication system that relied on observation and experience. Working largely with Gernd Arntz — a socialist German artist who depicted the working class in abstract, woodcut figures — Neurath created the International System of Typographic Picture Education, or Isotype, and through it the classic silhouette figure.