Typewriter of the moment: Flannery O’Connor

December 18, 2007

Flannery O'Connor's typewriter at her farm Andalusia, near Milledgeville, GA - NY Times photo

Photo by Susana Raab for The New York Times; caption: “The writer Flannery O’Connor’s desk and typewriter in her bedroom at Andalusia, her farm near Milledgeville, Ga. She was a master of the Southern Gothic.”

From the Travel section article of the New York Times, February 4, 2007, by Lawrence Downes:

I was met at the door by Craig R. Amason, the executive director of the Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation, the nonprofit organization set up to sustain her memory and preserve her home. When the affable Mr. Amason, the foundation’s sole employee, is not showing pilgrims around, he is raising money to fix up the place, a project that is a few million dollars short of its goal. The foundation urgently wants to restore the house and outbuildings to postcard-perfection, to insure its survival. Last year the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation placed Andalusia on its list of most endangered places in the state.

For now, the 21-acre property is in a captivating state of decay.

There is no slow buildup on this tour; the final destination is the first doorway on your left: O’Connor’s bedroom and study, converted from a sitting room because she couldn’t climb the stairs. Mr. Amason stood back, politely granting me silence as I gathered my thoughts and drank in every detail.

This is where O’Connor wrote, for three hours every day. Her bed had a faded blue-and-white coverlet. The blue drapes, in a 1950’s pattern, were dingy, and the paint was flaking off the walls. There was a portable typewriter, a hi-fi with classical LPs, a few bookcases. Leaning against an armoire were the aluminum crutches that O’Connor used, with her rashy swollen legs and crumbling bones, to get from bedroom to kitchen to porch.

There are few opportunities for so intimate and unguarded a glimpse into the private life of a great American writer. Mr. Amason told me that visitors sometimes wept on the bedroom threshold.

Texas’ face should be creationism red

December 18, 2007

P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula has a couple of posts that shed light on part of the recent creationism eruptions in Texas.

The ICR affair is quite astounding: ICR plans to grant degrees in how to violate the Constitution as an educator, and they’re asking Texas to approve it. So far, the approval is on a fast track.

What’s next? Perhaps one of the A&M campuses could start a program on marijuana farming; approval would come from the State of Texas on the basis that all the agricultural stuff is top notch — great course in fertilizing, fantastic stuff on grow lights, wonderful course on marketing agricultural products through ad hoc distribution channels, or through viral marketing.

Okay, that sounds crazy. Now tell me, what’s different about a creationism course? It only violates a different law.

This fight is just warming up. Texas Citizens for Science is in the thick of it. You should be writing to your legislators and to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board:

Third, we need to write to Dr. Raymund A. Paredes, the Commissioner of the THECB to express our disgust at how this process has been handled so far, and to object to granting ICR the Certification it desires. The address is:

Dr. Raymund A. Paredes, Commissioner
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
P.O. Box 12788
Austin, TX 78711-2788

One more chapter in the War on Science, the War on Education — one more time to stand firm for reason against stupidity.

Other resources:

More carnival: “Educational technology” is not oxymoronic

December 18, 2007

Here’s a new blog carnival you may find useful: The Educational Technology Carnival. The 6th running of that particular midway is posted at Global Citizenship in a Virtual World.

Which rather reminds me that I’ve added to my list of things I want in a technological adapted classroom: Movie lighting. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been in a different classroom, and discovered that when the projector goes on, the lights must come down in order to see the image — and then discovered that when the lights go down, there’s not enough light to see to take notes, or to see for anything else.

I was filling in for a teacher who uses a lot of video (“Great!” I thought). Students picked up on the problem right away. “Another sleep lab today?” they asked.

But I digress.

I have fought in four districts to get filters off on sites that discuss evolution for biology students. In one district, it was easier to put filters on the creationism sites, IT told me, than get the filters off the sites that discussed the material the students needed. I discovered my own district now blocks this blog, which makes it difficult to refer students to specific material, at least from school. (Time to change districts?) So the discussion on who filters, and why, caught my eye. I’m not sure there is a good result.

This edition of the carnival also points to Rebecca Wallace-Segall’s Wall Street Journal opposite-editorial page piece on student competition in intellectual areas, a hot topic for me right now as I contemplate the Federal Reserve Board’s competition for economics students, the Fed Challenge.

So as you ponder why your school doesn’t give you lighting to view your projected material, why you don’t have adequate audio reproduction, where are you going to get a projector to show the PowerPoint presentation during 4th block, why can’t anyone make a non-boring, really dynamic PowerPoint, and whether your computer lab kids are downloading racy music videos to spike your bandwidth clogging problems, think that on your lunch hour you can take a look at blog carnival that at least empathizes — if it’s not blocked in your school.

%d bloggers like this: