Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some Solutions

I wrote earlier that I think the best way to stop outsourcing is to unionize the Chinese.

So now we need a pushback on the voter restriction efforts of the retropublicans. My solution there is equally simple.

Start by making the reception of any government subsidy due in November only available after they vote in November at the voting booth.

In its full implementation, any receipt of any government assistance requires voting. Implementation left to those who screw up most everything else.

So all the wrong people (from the repubs viewpoint) would be voting. The result might very well be my desire for a mild anarchy.

Dave

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get in Front of the Inevitable

I have now rationed my TV time. The political cable shows just regurgitate the same fodder hour by hour, show by show. It is of no value. The reason to support a candidate is reduced to the smallest and ugliest of sound bites.

Who would vote for the "most conservative" candidate? I mean, really? Isn't the conservative mission to preserve what was and resist change? How can that be of any value in a world of change? The conservatives are using the digital media and that was not here to which the world conservatives want to return.

I have long ago given up resistance as a plan of attack. I believe that one must get "in front of the inevitable". If something is going to take place, why fight it? Shouldn't we just try to shape it?

I saw that online education was inevitable in 1994. I jumped on board and started developing online courses for my own teaching and to offer quality courses to others. It was a success.

As much as the powerful interests in government and the corporate world want to ignore the inevitable move to alternative energy, it cannot be stopped. Eventually, we will be "forced" to face the issue.

Also, inevitable is the need to educate those who have no resources. I would love to spend more money on the uneducated and less on the privileged. Why should be offer educational monies to those who have the financial ability to go to private school?

The government should fund only what it needs. If we need engineers and scientists then we should fund "public" institutions to provide the best of the best. Let the rich go to the private schools with no funding from the government.

As a musician I am willing to say that the government should not fund musicians, historians, psychologists, visual artists, etc. They will find their education in the private sector. Let the government fund what we need. (My fellow artists will be sending me hate mail.) If the private sector runs out of artists, they will start a training program focused on their needs just like the government should do now.

So let's "get in front of the inevitable". Let's stop messing around. In 1958 the government was behind when Sputnik was launched by the Soviets. The educational changes limited the arts to the degree we had the 60's. This was one of those pendulum swings in the extreme. We need an education think tank to help make the moves less radical.

Do you want to be part of this think tank?

Don Megill

Friday, December 09, 2011

Response of a political junkie

Grrrrrrr...... I find I am now paying too much attention to all of this. Whenever a life or death event passes it so often proves to be of little consequence in the long run. When I was young and busy like most of Americans and only casually aware of the traumas going on in politics I might have been in a healthier relationship to all of this. But for some reason now it seems that it is imperative that more folk know what is going on as they constantly lose economic leverage with a gamed political (driven by economic forces) system. I think I am finally understanding what it took to bring out the guillotines. Suddenly a mass awakening of what has been going on. You can boil a live frog if you raise the temperature slowing enough. But.. there just might be one that sees what is going on and decides to do something about it. OCCUPY SOMETHING SOMEWHERE!

Dave

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ethics and Music Education

I am taking a course right now through Boston University for my Masters in Music Education. The course I'm taking is Foundations of Music Education: History and Philosophy. For some reason, I preferred the Foundations of Music Education: Psychology and Sociology course I previously took. Oh well, that's besides the point.

For my course, this week we're addressing ethics in music education. Quite an interesting topic, I do have to say. I'm about half way through the reading for the week.

Friday evening I have to take part in a live online debate with other classmates. As part of this debate, I have to argue AGAINST the following statement:

"Music educators have a professional and ethic obligation to teach for social justice, including teaching for equal treatment based on class, race, gender, and sexuality. Teaching music is not enough."

This is going to be a difficult assignment as I personally AGREE with this statement.

As this group is comprised of other arts educators, what are your thoughts?

Kristin

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Confounded spelling

I have an admission. 

I am forgetting how to spell. Seriously. I think it is a real problem.  I write (pen to paper) so seldom that I have lost my ability to correct my own spelling.   I am dependent on spell check and that wonderfully informative dotted red line that appears to alert me of my spelling foibles.

Interesting also that i know how to spell foible but just yesterday had the darndest time spelling "editing".  Here are my retrospective attempts.  edditing, editting, edditting.  Yes, I went through them all before I finally typed editing and that damn red line finally disappeared.  There is another one disappeared. I am so irritated by double consonants. I expect them to be everywhere they aren't and forget them everywhere they should be. 

But that is with the help of a computer.  When I hand write I am absolutely hopeless. This is particularly embarrassing when writing on the board in my classes.  I realized that being a visual learner (spatial more than verbal), I have come to rely on the typed appearance of a word to know if its spelling is correct.  For instance when I type embarased I realize that the 'shape' of the word is wrong, too short. And therefore, I recall that it should be embarrassed.  It looks right from a design perspective.  But, I have so long ago given up hand writing on a daily (large scale) level that I can't remember how the design of my hand written words look. 

Also, the rhythm of a word.  Hand writing slows me down to the point that I can't imagine there being THAT many letters in a given word. it just takes TOO LONG to get it down on the paper.  Commencement, for instance, when written long hand fills up half a line! I have trained my brain out of spelling.  Instead I use the physical, spatial and rhythmic memory of typing, which I can't seem to recreate with a pen in my hand. 

I don't want to think I need to practice my spelling just to write a hand written note off the cuff.  But it seems, I do. Or, I could just give up on hand writing all together because using my smart phone to look up words mid-sentence just sucks. And, I won't do it.


Sigh. 

PS If address is spelled with two d's, then I think "addmission" should as well.   Just sayin'.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Remedies

Just a couple of recommendations:

To bring jobs back home why don't we work to unionize the Chinese and Indian workers (eastern)

An investment opportunity -- buy into guillotines (The French might have survived if they could have just keep secret how rich they really were)--Occupy the World

It just isn't that difficult.

Dave

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

An Artificially Intelligent Music World -- Installment #1

I'm just completing the book Swarm and have had a major deja vu. In the 1990s I had many lunches with a visual artist/programmer/friend designing an artificially intelligent evolving world that would generate art of any medium. I didn't realize I was designing my own swarm.

This will be the first installment of a description of this art world in hopes that I might trigger an interest in others to further shape the world or even join a programming effort. I have pages of code which I can willing jettison if an even better vision should emerge.

This installment deals with the most immediate similarity with the swarm. The world is inhabited by single objects (vis a vis amoebi) that share possibilities but each with their own genetic capabilities granted them at birth. These objects (we called them units) can aggregate to amplify or extend genetic strengths and weaknesses.

This aggregation takes place within a universe with natural laws and a god working to its own extinction (the designers). As the neural net of clustered objects grows in complexity with clusters of objects some survive and others don't. I had fun writing the birth class (Java talk for an action object) but got depressed writing the death class. Designing a reward or demerit system for the world is still in progress. As objects aggregated they were meant to resonate artistic output that could be attached to art media.

Above the universe sit a pantheon of inert gods (or managers) that oversee the implementation of natural laws to guide the evolution of new aggregate artistic cultures.

Our hope was to be able to watch art worlds evolve to see if they gained their own sense of intelligence. We did not plan to ever evaluate them, only watch and listen. We expected to be able to initiate hundreds of art worlds simultaneously to play that evolutionary roulette game to see if art more intelligent than our own might emerge, art that might carry an affective weight of its own. It is probably naive to think that a human affect might be created, probably more likely a software affect.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hire a friend, grass roots employment

So here is the link:

Hire a friend for a day

Let me know if you would participate in a day to hire. If it were big enough we could put millions of folk to work for at least one day. Who needs congress??

Dave

This is a test to see if I can post a poll

I am thinking about polling for those who might like to create a "hire your friend for a day" as a small contribution to the employment problem. I need a poll to sense the interest.

Here is a link to a poll as a trial:

Are polls good?

Dave

Monday, August 08, 2011

Unschooling

I am a part-time cloth diaperer, I compost, I heat my home with a pellet stove and I mow my lawn with a reel mower. I am part of the growing group of parents who are trying to teach our children how to create less of a carbon footprint, consume less and respect the earth more. I am actually in a mom’s group called “Mindful Parenting,” in which members discuss where they got the latest natural wood toy or how little TV they let their children watch.

One trend common among these types of families is homeschooling. Many of my very close friends here in Connecticut are homeschooling their children, not for religious reasons, but because they don’t want their children in the public schools, cannot afford to send them to private school, or simple think they can do a better job of educating their children than the community at large. The most common way to homeschool among these parents is a method called “unschooling,” which has no curriculum and allows the child to learn as they go through life, choosing what interests them at different times. Here is a typical day at the home of my friend Renee's house, who homeschools her son Bobby:

They wake up and have breakfast. Bobby (Renee's 4 year old son) watches some cartoons. They attend a playgroup. They have lunch. Bobby asks why worms shrivel up and die on the pavement. Renee segues into a 30 minute “Well, let’s learn about worms” segment in which they look things up on the internet or in books and go looking for worms outside. Bobby gets bored and starts playing basketball. They play in the yard until dinnertime. They have dinner then play with John, who is home from work and then it’s bedtime.

You’re probably thinking, “not too shabby for a 4 year old” and it’s not. He learned about worms. That’s awesome. But what happens when he is 11 years old and wants to learn about other things? What happens when he doesn’t think his mom is cool and doesn’t want to listen to her and she doesn’t know how to teach advanced algebra anyway? Her answer might be something like, “Who uses advanced algebra?” In the same breath she will say something like, “If he is really interested in it as a teenager then he can attend a community college class to learn about it.”

Hmmm…

I believe that children need structure. One of the by products of unschooling is that children learn that they can do whatever they want whenever they want. Children guiding their own education is like an untrained German Shepherd guiding a blind person. They may stumble across many interesting things to learn, but they will lack a general knowledge base that our society has deemed important.

The biggest reason people give to not homeschool is that the children are not “socialized.” My friends have a field day gunning down this concern. However, I think it is a legitimate one. Yes, my friends take their children to the museum and parks and dance classes. However, the friends that their children play with are the ones the mother chooses. Our playgroup of friends is made up entirely of middle class white families. If the children were at school they would have a classroom full of ethnic, poor, rich, disabled, smart, and not-so-smart children at their disposal and no hovering mother to help guide their decisions. These children have no sense of independence from their mothers and the mothers have no sense of independence from their children, which seems to be what the mothers want, but in turn limits the children. Who among them is going to become a brilliant geneticist or even discover their passion when all they really know is what their mother has presented them? Who among them will discover the love of Shakespeare or Mozart or the French language or biochemistry if they are not first forced to discover it? I am a firm believer in the old adage “You can’t break the rules until you learn them first.” These children seem to be given cart blanche as far as their education goes. They are breaking all the rules before they learn them and most often, they don’t even know the rules exist. What if your child doesn’t like to read? I do not like to read. I would have read maybe three books my entire high school career if I had not been forced to read in my English classes. Instead I read Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Twain, Bronte, Atwood - so many amazing authors that I now appreciate and even like and I am a better person for it.

I understand that parents want their children to love learning, but this is just not the reality for most people. For many people it takes seeing others passionate about a subject to inspire them to want to learn more. It takes teachers and teachers open doors.

Perhaps I am against unschooling because I come from a family of amazing teachers. Or perhaps it’s because I have a very stubborn daughter who sasses me but acts like an angel at school. Teachers can get Evelyn to do many things I cannot. All I know is that unschooling is like gambling on our children’s futures. It’s an experiment. These children will either end up becoming successful performance artists, plumbers (which wouldn’t be bad) or will end up living with their parents for the rest of their lives floating around and doing whatever they want. I wonder if, as adults, they will say "I believe in un-working."

The whole thing just goes against my fundamental views of what education is, what it can offer a child and my role in it as an educator. I’d like to end this with a list of the 10 most inspiring teachers I had up through high school. These are people whose passion for their subject matter made me briefly think I might want to go into their field. They presented options to me I would never have thought possible had I been homeschooled (sorry Mom). And I would never have met them if not for school. (Interestingly, I now realize none of these teachers taught my two favorite subjects – math and music.)

Ms. Thayer-Bacon (elementary)

Ms. Taylor (science)

Mrs. Turner (English/history)

Mr. Williamson (English)

Herr Livingston (German)

Mrs. Cates (history)

Mrs. Hermanson (history)

Mr. Roswell (history)

Mrs. Guerra (P.E.)

Mrs. Kelly-Gillen (Biology)

Ten amazing people who made all the bad teachers I had over the years worth it.

Despite the fact that overpopulation has made many of us want to segregate and seek out our own "kind" to the exclusion of others who think differently, I think it is important for us to force ourselves to be around society at large, and school is a perfect microcosm of our world in which our children can grow and learn. Children need to be among a community of intellectuals who inspire them. They need to be led by adults who are not their mother. They need the freedom to discover passions. They need school.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Losing a Friend

Went to a memorial service today. Gordon Baker. The family was there to celebrate this wonderful life. I had not been in this community for more than 20 years. I knew a fraction of those there. I did know the major participants.

What a feeling to be the next generation to "go". The entire audience was above 50 but the range still seemed extreme. There were those who did not recognize me (funny how I did not recognize my own aging process.)

Gordon Baker was a great man. We miss his fairness and compassion.

It was a great celebration. There were those that seemed unchanged (but older).

Although attempted, I was not able to recreate the bonds that were once there. Sad. It became an event of remembrance.

I guess this is the next stage. Losing a spouse, sister or brother will be difficult to the extreme. This experience is just a reminder of this.

The wonderful plus is that those that I will eventually lose -- or they lose -- have given great value already.

Hurray for the continuance of what we have and vision.

Don

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Condominium Hopping

We flew up to Spokane and spent the night near the airport. Can't remember what it looked like -- that spectacular. Next, our friends from next door picked us up and we drove to Seaside Oregon. We were on the 7th floor looking out over the pool to a huge sandy beach. Did you know that this is where Lewis and Clark ran out of land? There is a statue of them at the beach looking forlorn-- S__t! no more land.

On the way to Seaside, we stopped at two beautiful waterfalls. We stumbled onto a Vista House at the top of a bluff overlooking the Columbia river. Unreal. The Vista House was surprising. Google it.

At Seaside, we went to a strange historical column (164+ steps to the top -- inside). You could buy a little wooden plane to throw off. So much for pollution in Oregon.

We next moved down to Klamath Falls (no falls in Klamath) to a condo on a golf course called Running Y. The most interesting thing was Crater Lake. Been there before but this time the water was so smooth that it looked like a mirror. We could not tell where the land ended and the water began. Unbelievable. The next day a guy fell down 300 ft. because he went over the barrier and slipped on the snow. So much for stupid.

The birds we saw up close were inspiring. Osprey, hawks, egrets, vultures, and a ton of small birds. They flew right over our patio (we were on the 3rd floor).

We next drove to SF -- always a culture shock. We moved from wide open country to an unbelievably dense human condition. We have a condo on Powell. The cable cars stop just outside our window. We have a room on the corner -- we sit at a round window seat looking up and down three streets.

It is amazing how so many people can be so close and so many of them seem barely functional. The poor, the predators, the well dressed standing on the street sipping white wine, a young boy in Walgreens looking to be picked up, and so many individuals walking with their heads in the wind -- it just goes on and on.

We leave tomorrow to visit my elderly in-laws for lunch and then home.

I can't wait to see my garden.

Don

Friday, July 01, 2011

It's July

Happy New Month.

This is the birthday of my oldest daughter -- always an enlightening perspective. She is on the East coast and should really be out of sight, out of mind. However, the world of technology has made this less than a reality. When I was her age, it cost so much to make a long distance call we just didn't. Now with universal phone accounts and the amazing reality of iChat, we are in contact minutes, no hours a day. I remember how much a single picture cost -- to buy film and develop it and then send it by mail if we could afford a copy.

We now try to make time to see all the media sent to us each day from all of the extended family. I do not have a FaceBook account but my wife does and just sitting down to her computer can consume an enormous amount of time before she can pull herself away from all the content thrown at her.

It is so difficult to not be aware of a child's every activity -- especially when they are sick or can't sleep or want a new toy or a sweet.

It is amazing how food is the common denominator for establishing a happy child.

A good time? or an Invasion?

Don

Friday, February 04, 2011

Service

Business model for Education -- A pipe dream

My entire career the boards of administration (mostly successful business persons) have been convinced that there is a business model for mass education.

They have never been successful but they continue to preach the possibility.

The difference between service in business and service in education is that there is no control over the top line (gross income, funding, endowments) in education -- regardless of the quality of service, the income to the school or district remained the same -- political.

Therefore the bottom line becomes the argument. "What has been delivered for the money available?" And what is left. In business, if expenses can be cut (people being the most expensive) the bottom line (profits) can improve without an increase in top line. In education political will determines the amount of money given to the top line. There is no profit motive because it is all gone when the service has been rendered.

Two premises must be defined:
1. When there are profits to be made then the business world is the most efficient.
2. When there are not profits to be made the business world fails.

If you have gone to a 5 star hotel, then you understand how effective the business world is when delivering services. The obvious observation is that there are no poor people there. They poor have no money to spend and therefore deserve no service (and it is great service).

So who delivers services that do not generate income? The government. The business world insists that if we had better civil servants (teachers, firemen, etc.) then schools would excel and be more successful. The problem is that the top line does not increase with greater service. If the government (business?) does not give more for better service (measured by whom?) than more cannot be paid to the "better employers". Then, the result is that civil servants will produce what they feel is necessary. Being fired for less sounds like a threat. To ask these workers to motivate is laughable. And believe me, motivation from the working class is short lived and shallow.

So there are two categories of service.

1. Service that can make you rich.
2. Service that is given by the government to those who cannot pay.

Mass education is only profitable at the post secondary level where schools can convince parents and teachers that their product is better than what the government can provide. Again, if you have the money you can take advantage of these schools (if it really is an advantage).

There is one thing all business world individuals agree upon.
If you can't make money while serving, then discontinue the service. Here again is the reason for government feeding the top line.

It is more than understandable that those in government want to cut "entitlements" because they are the non economically producing segment of our population. So they are labelled "free loaders", "lazy", etc. so that they can be labeled as not having value worth supporting. In this way, the poor can be written off as not deserving any support from the business community.

So in politics, the business types (congress) want to cut entitlements because those that are served "have no money".

Solution: the middle class and poor need more money to oil the machine. How do they get money? The cards are stacked against them. It is time to re-distribute the wealth in some manner. The wealth has been moving to the top for too many years. If the poor get too poor and see the wealth at the top -- Egypt

The only arm of the poor and middle class against the powerful elite is to unite and force wealth into the middle class. Unions?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dave's Thesaurus of Common Tennis Phenomena

Gentlemen's Alley - Down the center between two non aggressive players

Rope-a-Dope -- A net ball that runs a significant distance along the top of the net

Star Trek Ball -- A ball that veers off of a mishit to a point just over the net only inches from the outside line. A ball that goes where not other ball has gone before

Zenith Ball -- A ball that reaches its zenith exactly at the point it crosses the net so its entire path appears to be below the net and has no chance of going over the net

Drop Shit -- A drop shot into the net

Adrenalin Slam -- An overhead that hits the bottom of the net

Thwack -- Rimmed overhead

Thunk -- Rimmed volley

3rd serve -- The serve that follows a let second serve

Slow Ball Force Field -- A ball from a mishit dink that is so slow it can be swung at at least two times (unsuccessfully).

Close Call -- Couldn't be any more out and still be in.

Don King Ball -- A tennis ball that gets fuzzier rather than smoother during play

Score Lapse -- When old men or artists play tennis

Sheep Event (Herding Event) -- When an errant player begins to switch sides on an even score and all the other players follow suit

Switch Event -- When players switch during a point and tries to serve to the wrong side

Naval Jewelry (aka Naval Destroyer) -- An overhead slam to your opponents midsection

Whiff -- self explanatory

Tennis Dance -- The behavior of the one player who never hits the ball during an extended point--contributing only footwork

Unforced Winner (sometimes called simply Forced Winner) -- an accidental winning return of a shot that overpowers a player

Faux Pro -- A shot made by a weekender that only a top 10 player can make intentionally

Wiener -- A winner turns into a wiener when followed by a winning faux pro.

Dinkage -- a rally collapsing to weaker and weaker dinks until it finally ends in a slow ball force field (see above definition)

None for All -- when two balls are coming at you and you try for both but get neither

Yours Alley -- that lane down the center where each player yields to the other

Mine Alley -- that lane down the center where each player tries for the return, often hitting one another's racquet. This has a high danger quotient.

Kivorkian -- You are down 0-40 and you double fault

Net Enhancement -- A winner created by clipping the net

Rosary Tennis -- Where you pray the opponent's shot is long rather than playing the shot.

Swamp Shot -- A shot that goes Bayou.

Walk the Pitcher -- When you double fault early in a game.

Over Belly -- When an overhead, hit by the wind, falls short and results in a slam into the bottom of the net.

Gimp Get -- When a player with a bum hip and two knees races to get a drop shot and rims it for a winner.

Oh-Look-A-Squirrel-Canine-Instinct -- When a player takes their eye off the ball to look at the net person on the other side. Obviously this results in an error.

Mother Lucker -- Enough said.

OCD service advantage -- Before serving go to net and move the center strap off center. The greater the diagonal the greater the stress,

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

How many have you hired?

Now that we have the new tax breaks for the rich I have tried to ask everyone who have received this break "How many people have you hired?" It looks like they only have money; they do not have any intent on hiring someone.

I would love to have a million dollars a year -- I would love to hire someone at 50K a year to just make good things happen.

I hope all these wealthy congressmen decline the Federal health care program that we Americans give them. They certainly don't want the poor to have any health care.

Government needs to take some of the wealth back and give it to the middle class and poor who will spend it and fertilize the economy.

Don