search engine blues

Whoever figures out how to set up a search engine that removes all of the cheesy businesses who’ve figured out how to monopolize the search results will be the next millionaire.

If I’m searching for information on how to set up an old train, I want some train enthusiasts who spend their lives thinking about it. I do not want the first forty suggestions to be businesses trying to sell me things.

quote from 1968

It is absolutely crucial to understand that society cannot continue to write reports accurately describing the failure of the educational institutions vis-a-vis black people without taking into account the impact those truths will have on black Americans. There comes a point when it is no longer possible to recognize institutional failure and then merely propose stepped up measures to overcome those failures — especially when the proposals come from the same kinds of people who administered for so long the prsent unacceptable and dysfunctional policies and system.

Charles Hamilton, “Race and Education: A Search for Legitimacy,” HER, 38,4. (Fall 1968), p.671.

Encountered in W. Rich, Black Mayors and School Politics, 215-216.

cleaning up

Cleaning up — relatives coming — and found my notebook from my year of student teaching. Taped on it were three items:

1. Doonesbury: Passages of Parenthood
the day he’s born
the first day of school
the day he finally leaves home
the day he moves back.

2. An Overboard cartoon that begins “think they had any trouble finding replacements ?” and ends with a picture of two gorillas staring off into the midst.

3. A brilliant bill watterson cartoon featuring the following monologue:

I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! Want to see my book report?

“the dynamics of interbeing and monological imperatives in Dick and Jane: A study in psychic transrelational gender modes.”

Academia here I come!

4. A Philadelphia Ranger Corps sticker, a “Die yuppie scum sticker”, a Walt Mink sticker, and a political sticker reading “A heartbeat away…Quayle or gore? Elect Clinton President.”

A town

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”


Neil Gaiman, American Gods, (NY: William Morrow, 2001), 198.

Annoying phrases

Love this article. For once, the comments are almost as good as the essay. I’m just surprised that there aren’t more references to the painful ways people refer to the past:

1. that’s history now.
2. back in the day.
3. way back in the day.
4. in olden times.
5. In times gone by

(I’ll think of more as the day goes on)

Track and what’s important

I liked this article a lot; I love the idea that a small, liberal arts college can have a coach who creates a program where “…with about 500 men at Haverford, Tom has to get 1 percent of the male student body to be among the country’s best 50 runners. That’s insane.”

For teachers, though, I’ll use these comments as a starting point for a discussion:

“I was one of those far from exceptional high school runners who arrived at Haverford and was swept along by the program and Tom’s teachings,” said J. B. Haglund, who as a senior in 2001-2 won the Division III championship in cross-country, 5,000 and 10,000 meters. “I remember one day seeing Marcus O’Sullivan on the track doing a Tom workout, and I remember that Tom spent as much time working with the slowest kid on our team that day as he did with Marcus.

“Whoever you are, if you want to come and work hard, Tom has time for you. He says this over and over: ‘The team is only as strong as the commitment of the least-accomplished person on the team.’ ”

My friend and neighbor on closing library branches

The full letter is here.

Favorite paragraphs:

Since she learned to walk, my daughter and I have regularly taken outings together to the Kingsessing Branch of the Free Library. I cherish my memories of intimate walks as we hold hands walking Westward, often commenting on the late afternoon sun as it approached the horizon. We share information about our days, remember the stories contained in the books the we are returning and talk about the type of books we’d like to find at the library. Always, my three year old daughter has her own library card grasped in the hand that is not holding mine.

If our local library branch is to close, there is no doubt in my mind that her access to books will be limited as a result. We will not constantly have new titles to choose from when we sit down to read on rainy weekend afternoons or before bedtime because there is no way that we will be able to travel as frequently to the next closest branch which is more than fifteen blocks away. Even with a financial crisis in our city, there is no reason that my daughter should be denied local, easy access to all that libraries offer. This is a future that contradicts my own experience of growing up as a library patron and saddens me as I think about all of the young kids and adults who eagerly enter libraries across the city searching for knowledge, inspiration, and sanctuary.

As a high school teacher, I am acutely aware of the fact that many of my students have very complicated lives and work very hard to complete the complex assignments and projects that are part of my classes. Teaching in this city, I have always felt comfortable with the belief that all of my students have adequate access to technology and information because none of them live very far from a branch library. If branches are to close this will all change and I imagine numerous situations where it will legitimately not be possible for these teenagers to be able to make it to a public library during open hours. For the first time in my teaching career, some of my students will have legitimate excuses as to why they couldn’t complete the research for a project or get a book that I recommended to them.