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1 to 10 of 16 columns

1. driven to distraction
what the democrats need to be thinking about right now
general - discussion

As I write this, most Americans (and every pundit on the TV) is focused on the vice presidential debate. I'm going to watch it, but I've got some other stuff stuck in my craw. First, I think Karl Rove should be congratulated for doing such a fine job lowering expectations for Sarah Palin. Even Dan Quayle -- who we pretty much all thought was clueless -- was subjected to higher expectations than Gov. Palin. Not since Gen. Stockwell has anyone been expected to do so badly. And...
2. an ode to bacon
originally published in the carrboro free press
general - appreciation

I didn’t realize how bad my bacon habit had become until a few weeks ago. There we were dining in the lovely Salish Lodge restaurant, perched over Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle. Everyone in the place was transfixed by the view of the falls, the Cascades and the river. Me? I couldn’t take my eyes of the plate full of rashers on the vacant table next to ours. The folks seated next to us had ordered the delectable side and – get this! -- never laid a finger on it. I reckoned they had plan...
3. the politics of lipstick
sen. obama has called gov. palin a pig? are you serious?!
news - discussion
9.26.08 : feature column!

Kids, kids. Let’s just settle down. Sen. Obama has called Gov. Palin a pig? Are you serious?! Look, the senator has been trundling out that line since well before the governor told her little joke about pit bulls and hockey moms. Plus, the lipstick on a pig line is older than dirt. It’s been circulating since long before anyone even knew what a hockey mom was. Is the McCain-Palin camp so insecure that they honestly feel it’s necessary to demand an apology for a perceived slight that wasn’t?...
4. professional reform
a path to better policy in education
general - improvement
10.29.07 : feature column!

steve peha and i worked on this together For all the controversy surrounding education these days, most people agree that our schools continue to need significant improvement. This isn’t to say we haven’t been working on the problem. But after years of reform, we’re still unclear about whether our current approach is producing the results we require. This doesn’t mean current reforms should be abandoned. Testing and standards have an important role to play. But it’s time to look beyond these ...
5. fixing education from the ground up
why literacy and logic are the keys to improving science & math competitiveness
general - discussion
5.19.06 : feature column!

Ever since the President mentioned our lack of excellence in science, math and engineering in his State of the Union address, everybody has been hollering about the need for improved instruction in these areas. But I think we’re missing the point. Certainly, not enough students are excelling in science and math. And far too few of our young people are pursuing careers in these areas (America’s share of the world’s science and math doctorates is expected to fall by 15 percent in the next four ye...
6. the cock-eyed reality of modern math instruction
a modest proposal for teaching real-life math
general - discussion

I was intrigued by the headline “It's Not Every Day Your Life Depends on the Answer to a Math Problem”. I was skeptical because I think our lives OFTEN depend on the answers to math problems. But as I read, I realized the story was about using real-life situations to teach math. Great, I thought. I hoped the story would be about helping our nation’s school kids discover and solve meaningful math problems that crop up in their every day lives. You know, like how much money I need for a week o...
7. sweeping
writing - sample

Ola Mae had a death grip on the broom handle as she swept the porch. She pretended the broomstick was Rupert’s neck and she enjoyed feeling it so firm in her powerful grip. She knew if it were really Rupert’s neck between her hands, she’d feel his throat straining against the pressure. Her daddy’d told her that -- the time he’d nigh ‘bout strangled her mama in a drunken rage. “Thank god yo’ Uncle Elijah came when he did,” her daddy’d said. “Or yo’ mama’d be dead.” Ola Mae sighed, then swept a...
8. the english assignment
that ate the american econony
writing - general
11.30.05 : feature column!

If you want to know why so many of the college grads you’re hiring can’t write worth a darn, look no further than today’s most popular English assignment: the Five-Paragraph Essay (5-PE). Many educators I talk to believe this form is the key to getting their students into college and off to a successful career. And no amount of real-world evidence to the contrary can dissuade them. In the 5-PE, or Sandwich Essay, the argument is made three times: in the opening paragraph, in the body, and again...
9. re-jiggering reality
the value of getting bitch-slapped by the gods
general - lifestyle

Every once in awhile something happens that shakes my world view, as Ignatius J. Reilly would say. To wit: My friend Gibson died in a freak accident. I hydroplaned, crossed the median and barely missed being hit head on by a tractor trailer. My friend Chris was almost lost to his crack addiction. My car was broken into by a homeless person who stole NOT the warm Hudson Bay blanket or the clothes from my backseat, but the $3.42 in change from the cup holder. My friend Kevin committed suicide. I ...
10. the last list
writing - sample

The Last List Margot Carmichael Lester A guitar pick emblazoned with the JazzFest logo Several photos, black & white and color A table full of dead soldiers A strand of Spanish moss plucked from her hair Ticket stubs, torn just so Directions to Howie’s scrawled on the back of an envelope Her car keys, abandoned A voodoo shrine cursing those who flaked Red candle wax dripped and drabbed A cell phone, face broken Todd’s sunglasses, the original pair A dry-cleaning chit A martini glass crowned ...


re: professional reform

Keep raising the bar. This can be so much more than a pop culture site if we just keep pushing the dialogue.

re: fixing education from the ground up

Exxcelent critical thinking!

re: the english assignment


re: another friday night in hollywood


I remember when "gang-bang" meant 7 or more people having sex together.

A nice snapshot for us tired, simple folk who have the highmindness (or is it cowardice) to stay away from the sequins and the silicone.

re: another friday night in hollywood

great snapshot of hollywood. it reminds me so much of home, it was worth spending two minutes away from internet porn...

re: another friday night in hollywood

Wonderfully written. Vivid. True.

re: unfolding

Quite a counterpoint to your last poem.

But now I've got The Beatles' "She's Leaving" stuck in my head.

re: unfolding

I read this at a time in my life where I connect with the person banging his fists. Right time, right reader. Thanks.

re: the headboard nodded yes

Awesome. Like I was there. Or at least, longed to be.

re: the headboard nodded yes

Oh, I so like this.

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