Bob Wills Reunion, April 28, 2007

March 31, 2007

Turkey, Texas, again hosts the annual Bob Wills reunion on the last Saturday of April — April 28, in 2007.  National Geographic Video features a short introduction to Turkey, with heavy Bob Wills overtones.

Turkey’s website is down for maintenance as I write this, but it may be a good place to check for more details.   Bob Wills

Texas “million-air” songwriters

March 31, 2007

One of the large copyright license clearance organizations for music performances, Broadcast Music, Incorporated, (better known simply as BMI), keeps track of how many times a song is performed on radio. When a song passes a million performances, it is said to be a “million-air” tune.

Texas music license plateAccording to the governor’s Texas Music Office, a million plays of most popular tunes is equal to 50,000 broadcast hours, or about 5.7 years of continuous play.

Texas songwriters have quite a few tunes in that category, and a surprising number of them of recent vintage. More below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Last call for Texas history carnival, Fiesta de Tejas!

March 31, 2007

Today’s the last day to nominate your post, or another’s post, for the inaugural (and we hope not last) Fiesta de Tejas! blog carnival of Texas history and other things Texan.

Texas relief map from geology.comSend the good stuff! You can send it through the Blog Carnival entry site for Fiesta de Tejas! (which is a good idea, since it saves copies), found here, or send it to me directly at edarrell AT sbcglobal DOT net.

Map image: Texas relief map from

Carnivals! Education, liberals . . .

March 30, 2007

Ecole des Beaux-Arts

. . . what’s the difference?

The Education Wonks host Education Carnival 112.

Lots of carnivalia at Framed: Discourse & Democracy, with Carnival of the Liberals #35.

And, while we’re at it, one of my favorite blogs hosts the 57th Skeptic’s Circle, at Aardvarchaeology. It’s well worth a browse. Brain learning, how do we tell what’s accurate, etc.

Photo: Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris

Intelligent design: Cromulence achieved

March 29, 2007

Editorial writer Rod Dreher of The Dallas Morning News reacted to the news that scientists at Southern Methodist University are protesting a conference on intelligent design in biology, scheduled to be held at the university April 13-14, with an opinion piece that calls for a defense of free speech, and compares the adherence of intelligent design to the adherence of Marxism at SMU

In other words, Dreher defends intelligent design as having finally achieved a high degree of cromulence:

What snots these academics be.

One might be foolish to disagree. Intelligent design is cromulent. The conference will embiggen the intellectual life of the university, regardless the shadow it casts across the light of reason.


Quote to think by: Timothy J. Campbell and the Constitution

March 29, 2007

What’s the Constitution between friends?

–Timothy J. Campbell (1840-1904), Attributed, circa 1885

A little more below the fold? Certainly. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from the Sub Terrain: Basketball class

March 27, 2007

Notes from the Sub Terrain is an occasional — okay, spasmodic — set of observations from a certified teacher working as a substitute.

Basketball class

The assignment said “upper level, basic biology.” But upon arriving at the school the Sub learned the teacher to be replaced was one of the basketball coaches. The school’s team had won in the state playoffs the previous night, and the coach was assigned to scout the next week’s opposition in a game on the other end of the state. Cool.

Oh — except for this: The first hour was basketball, in the gym. The Sub wasn’t dressed for it, the Sub doesn’t play much basketball, let alone coach it. Worse, the assignment had said nothing about a first hour – the bell had just rung, and The Sub was late. What room? “Green Gym.”

Where is the Green Gym? the Sub asked. “I have no clue,” the substitute coordinator said. There are several gyms, but they are not in exactly the same place. “I think it’s near the arena.”

Trudging to the attendance office, the Sub got crude directions. Only 10 minutes late so far.

Found the Green Gym. 22 students were dutifully engaged in four different games of basketball. Notes from the coach said the students should play “pick-up” games for the period.

As the Sub walked into the gym, two students from the full-court games broke off and ran over, volunteering to help with attendance, so no roll would need to be called. There were no absences. Attendance took a couple of minutes, and the students went back to their games.

Every few minutes one of the teams in one of the games would hit 21, or some other magic number, and the game would end. When two or more games ended, the students designated different teams and went at it again. After about 20 minutes someone yelled something about getting enough water, and the students took breaks individually to get a drink.

The Sub recognized many of the kids. They were, many of them, troublemakers in other classes. Here they made no trouble. Disputes about fouls were settled quickly and amicably, and the games went go on. Good shots, or good defensive plays got vocal approval from all quarters. Hot dogging got jeers: “Just play!”

For 70 minutes the games rolled quickly. Then, without prompting, one of the students rolled out a ball cart, put a couple of balls away and headed to the locker room. Within three minutes all the balls were on the cart, the cart went into a closet, the lights were turned out and the gymnasium was empty.

The Sub wants to know why all classes can’t be that way, with the students doing the work, willingly and happily, without complaint, without prompting or prodding, and finishing and cleaning up on time.

The Sub noted that most of the students did not shower, but instead masked themselves in clouds of Axe body spray, which the Sub thought unhygienic.

The Sub said he later learned that the class was the junior varsity basketball team, mostly. He said the discipline they showed was impressive.

The varsity team won their next playoff game, and headed to the state tournament. The Sub said that if they are as disciplined in the big things as the junior varsity players are in little things on the basketball floor, they will win the state championship.

How can we restructure other classes to get the benefits of student self-discipline? the Sub wonders. Why don’t the students make the connection that discipline makes them champions in one area, and strive for similar discipline in other areas?

Why don’t the teachers, coaches and administrators make the same connection?

Olio/Olla podrida/Mulligan stew/Stone soup

March 26, 2007

Here are some of the posts I’ve been thinking about over the past couple of days:

Iraq and VietnamWritings by Hudson has been reading about LBJ and Vietnam.  Santayana’s ghost appreciates the exercise.

Camels in the Outback, camels in the dogfood:  Would you believe a million camels are feral in the Australian Outback?  And now, with a drought, it’s a problem.  The Coffee House alerts us.

What if everybody in your organization came to you for help? The Drawing Room tells us why you’d be wise to work for such a thing.

U.S. soldiers protest the warNo, not the current war — African American soldiers protest the Filipino conflict.  Forgotten soldiers, forgotten war — you’d do well to reacquaint yourself with this chapter of U.S. history at Vox ex Machina.

Leaks about the incident that got us into the warNo, not yet the Iraq war (see how you jump to conclusions?).  POTUS reflects on LBJ and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and the leaks and lack of intelligence that may have gotten us into a quagmire.

Earthquakes in Tornado Alley:  Tennessee Guy points to an article that wonders about the New Madrid Fault, and whether it is tensing up for “the Big One” to shake West Tennessee (and the rest of the Midwest), or it is going to sleep for a millennium.

Science and racismA collection of Darwin’s writings that touch on race and slavery, for your bookmark file.

Cool school librariesWe’re not talking about air conditioning.

Quote of the moment: Fillmore on sunshine in government, clarity in laws

March 25, 2007

Statue of Fillmore at Buffalo, NY, City Hall

Statue of Millard Fillmore at the City Hall in Buffalo, New York.

From Millard Fillmore’s second State of the Union speech, December 2, 1851:

The public statutes of the United States have now been accumulating for more than sixty years, and, interspersed with private acts, are scattered through numerous volumes, and, from the cost of the whole, have become almost inaccessible to the great mass of the community. They also exhibit much of the incongruity and imperfection of hasty legislation. As it seems to be generally conceded that there is no “common law” of the United States to supply the defects of their legislation, it is most important that that legislation should be as perfect as possible, defining every power intended to be conferred, every crime intended to be made punishable, and prescribing the punishment to be inflicted. In addition to some particular cases spoken of more at length, the whole criminal code is now lamentably defective. Some offenses are imperfectly described and others are entirely omitted, so that flagrant crimes may be committed with impunity. The scale of punishment is not in all cases graduated according to the degree and nature of the offense, and is often rendered more unequal by the different modes of imprisonment or penitentiary confinement in the different States.

Many laws of a permanent character have been introduced into appropriation bills, and it is often difficult to determine whether the particular clause expires with the temporary act of which it is a part or continues in force. It has also frequently happened that enactments and provisions of law have been introduced into bills with the title or general subject of which they have little or no connection or relation. In this mode of legislation so many enactments have been heaped upon each other, and often with but little consideration, that in many instances it is difficult to search out and determine what is the law.

The Government of the United States is emphatically a government of written laws. The statutes should therefore, as far as practicable, not only be made accessible to all, but be expressed in language so plain and simple as to be understood by all and arranged in such method as to give perspicuity to every subject. Many of the States have revised their public acts with great and manifest benefit, and I recommend that provision be made by law for the appointment of a commission to revise the public statutes of the United States, arranging them in order, supplying deficiencies, correcting incongruities, simplifying their language, and reporting them to Congress for its action.

Gauntlet down: Georgia challenges Texas (carnival-wise, that is)

March 25, 2007

At Georgia on my Mind, elementaryhistoryteacher took my challenge to Texans as a challenge to historians in Georgia, too — “Battle of the State Blogs.” Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to inspire with a locker-room speech.

It may take us a couple of months to get up to speed, of course, but this is the state that produced Molly Ivins, John Henry Faulk, J. Frank Dobie, Kent Biffle, and Dwight Eisenhower — not to mention Stevie Ray Vaughn.

C’mon Texans! Send in your blog entries: Fiesta de Tejas! Shooting to publish on April 2, no foolin’.

Easy submission form here, at the Blog Carnival.

Practice history, then teach it

March 25, 2007

Practice makes perfect, the adage says.

Teachers who practice analysis of primary documents can better translate the study of primary documents to their classrooms, according to an article I found through the American History Association‘s online version of Perspectives magazine.

One of my concerns for teachers of social studies — economics, history and geography — is that “in-service” training most often revolves around issues not unique, and sometimes not germane, to social studies disciplines. District-sponsored courses generally involved new or different methods to do paperwork, sometimes new programs hoped to spur overall performance by students on tests. In Irving ISD, Texas, social studies coordinator Sherry Perkins frequently provided sessions specific to social studies issues, and they were wonderful even when they didn’t pertain directly to the courses we taught (someone who teaches economics only, for example, may not have a lot of use for history exercises on presidential elections; but such exercises may provide ideas for others more directly related to economics).

Courses that immerse teachers in the subject matter tend to provide big benefits in the classroom. Many teachers do not have majors in the areas they teach, even after certification as “highly qualified” under new federal guidelines. Consequently, there are areas of history, or economics, or geography, where teachers are not much better informed than the students. Think of when you have had to give a presentation on a topic — you tread lightly in those areas where your expertise is least.

Investigators Kelly Schrum of George Mason University, Eleanor Green of the Fauquier County (Virginia) Public Schools, and Sarah Whelan of the Loudon County (Virginia) Public Schools, found that teachers often used too many original sources in lessons, after attending summer training sessions in the sources.   Read the rest of this entry »

Quote stumbled upon: Clarence Day, on descendants of apes

March 24, 2007

Clarence Day, from NNDB

What fairy story, what tale from the Arabian Nights of the jinns, is a hundredth part as wonderful as this true fairy story of simians! It is so much more heartening, too, than the tales we invent. A universe capable of giving birth to many such accidents is — blind or not — a good world to live in, a promising universe. . . . We once thought we lived on God’s footstool; it may be a throne.

Clarence Day (1874-1935), This Simian World (1920), XIX

More from that chapter, below the fold

Read the rest of this entry »

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy 2.6

March 24, 2007

We’d better hope it’s a tongue-in-cheek title, but the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy 2.6 is up at Ken Goldstein’s Random Thoughts, Notes, and Incidents. It’s a short one — it would appear democracy’s decline is overstated.

And, how do they come up with the “2.6” count?

This Day in Mythstory

March 24, 2007

This site will challenge your hoax detectors — just enough facts to ring true, enough humor to make the parodies appealing and likely to be repeated as fact.  This Day in Mythstory is written by Chris Regan, a humor writer formerly with “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

When the professionals hoax up history, at least they do it in good faith.

(This site is probably funnier if you know which parts are accurate, and which are not.  Basically, the historical events cited are real, though the reasons given are suspect.  Each of these pieces might make a good warm-up to get students discussing what is accurate, and what is humor.)

Lenten Carnivals?

March 23, 2007

Euclid, from the School of Athens (Holy See)

Mardi Gras marks the end of merriment for Christians who spend Lent thinking about atoning for past sins, in preparation for Easter. Mardi Gras ends with the arrival of Ash Wednesday. So, why are we talking carnivals?

Learning carnivals can be as onerous as Lent, right?

We hope not, actually. Yes, it’s Lent, but weblog carnivals continue, and those carnivals are to our advantage, entertainment and betterment.

The Education Wonks host the 111th Carnival of Education. One post in that carnival deserves special mention: Friends of complains that education reform simply is not happening, but it’s not because we don’t know what to do. We know how to improve schools and educational outcomes, Dave argues, and first on his list is “high quality teachers and staff.”

It’s a marvelous summary of education reform studies over the past 40 years. And almost sidles into the real problems: We lack the will to pay the money to get the job done. You may disagree with my conclusion, but I challenge you to pick anything other than a nit in Dave’s post, and I challenge you to identify a better, quicker, and cheaper solution.

And, let me take this moment to plug the upcoming carnival of Texas history and all things Texas, Fiesta de Tejas! If you blog for history, or for Texas, please pass the plug along to your readers, and invite them to submit entries. We publish on April 2.

Image:  Euclid, from “The School of Athens”

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