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» 2008 » August

Monthly ArchiveAugust 2008

Commentary 31 Aug 2008 07:33 pm

It’s all chemistry

Technology can be a double-edged sword in education. Mostly, the proliferation of computers and software in schools has lead to increased proficiency and more learning opportunities. Occasionally, however, technology implemented for its own sake leads to frustration and decreased learning.

I was considering this today as I watched my wife struggle with an online program that accompanies a
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Commentary 29 Aug 2008 06:03 am

College tours: What you don’t want to see

Here is my print column from Aug. 28.

Searching for the right college or university is like looking for the perfect used car.

I say “used” because colleges, like “pre-owned automobiles,” have had many previous owners, some stretching back to medieval times when presidents ordered deans to lower drawbridges and allowed young squires and ladies safe passage across moats to attend Heraldry 101, Jousting for Dummies, and Feminist Studies in Falconry.

In both used cars and colleges, you’re looking for the perfect “fit” — how it looks (does my kid like it?), how
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Books 26 Aug 2008 08:52 pm

Small assassin


A teaching colleague and friend came across an extra copy of The Stories of Ray Bradbury at a used book sale this summer. Knowing that I drool over Bradbury’s work and that I was missing this particular collection — which I check out of the Rodman Library at least once a year — he gave me the copy. It is like Christmas in August, with 100 of the master fantasist’s best stories bundled under one cover.

My schedule is a little hectic to dive into too much free reading, but I couldn’t resist revisiting one of my particular favorites, “Small Assassin.” Readers who know Bradbury only from his wistful sci-fi and fantasy may be
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Commentary 25 Aug 2008 10:35 pm

What kind of learner are you?

Every year, I have my freshman classes take a short inventory test to determine how they learn best. Some people are primarily visual learners, some auditory learners, and some kinesthetic-tactile. This last means they learn by touching and doing.

Most instruction in school is auditory; the teacher tells the class what to do. But most learners are visual; they absorb information best when they see it. The poor kinesthetic-tactile learners are really hung out to dry; teachers don’t often plan enough lessons that allow for movement around the room
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Commentary 24 Aug 2008 12:38 pm

End of the Internet

Jan Harold Brunvand, author of the Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, has a page on his Web site that is especially appropriate in our Internet-drive age. Check it out.

Unfortunately, the page has changed since the last time I visited, and it now includes links, something that undercuts the author’s argument. Still, on this beautiful Sunday, which signals the end of summer for many students and teachers heading back to class tomorrow, we should follow Brunvand’s advice and get outside. That’s where I’m heading. See you there.

Commentary 23 Aug 2008 07:54 am

Studdy yer grammer, kids

Approximately twenty boxes of grammar books I saw recently had this stamped on the side. 


Commentary & Family life 22 Aug 2008 04:17 pm

Throwing out an unwelcome visitor

Here is my print column from Aug. 21. Again, regular blog readers received a preview in an earlier entry

I had an unwelcome visitor this summer. It didn’t come calling at the door, but crawling on my body.

For about three weeks, I had a spot on the back of my leg, behind my knee, which itched like mad. I tried hard not to scratch, but it was like putting a junkie in a room with a bunch of white powder and telling him not to snort. Wasn’t happening.
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Books & Comic books 21 Aug 2008 09:47 pm

The EC Archives: Crime SuspensStories


I’ve loved EC Comics ever since I discovered three reprint issues back in middle school. They were much different — and better — than what passed for horror anthologies in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but having gone belly up in the 1950s, they were hard to come by.

Sometime in the ’90s, various companies began to reprint the books, first as standalone issues and later in double-sized editions that combined one horror issue with one sci-fi title. I bought as many as I could get my
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Books 20 Aug 2008 09:54 pm

What dreams may come


I’m a complete sucker for the little digest versions of Complete Idiot’s Guides sold at checkout counters. If I’m waiting in line for more than 30 seconds, I’m scanning the aisles for these impulse buys. Recently, I added The Complete Idiot’s Guide Dream Dictionary to my cart. It’s the best entertainment around for three bucks.

The digest has a dream dictionary and a dream interpretation checklist. The dictionary has entries on virtually everything you might ever see in the Land of Nod, including buses (it matters if you’re driving or
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Comic books 19 Aug 2008 06:09 am

Hound of the Bats-kervilles

 Ace, the Bat-Hound, originally appeared in 1955 in the pages of Batman #92. He was one of the wackier Bat-concepts, but an obvious one, nonetheless. Kids were the primary Batman readers, kids love dogs, ergo Batman should have a dog.
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