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E-mail backlog
buzzed, B&W
Since I've got nothing else to do, I'm going through the back log of stuff I've emailed myself to look at later . . .

Crazy statistics about children - if I was motivated I might go through their data and compare among races. For example, there is a black child arrested every minute, while the same figure for non-Hispanic, white children is every 29 seconds - which should lead to lots of questions: once you factor in the number of kids, is this proportionate? (In other words, are their half as many blacks as whites?) If not, what other factors are leading to the differences in arrest rates? Could be useful data for those working with diverse populations, though the fact that it's national data makes it near useless for those of us doing local community stuff. Still, some interesting data . . .

Interesting essay about cultural identity. The essay is written by a Korean-American who was adopted and raised in New Orleans. It's similar to many of the pieces in Yell-Oh Girls! (I still haven't finished it Kelly - but maybe now that I'm a gimp I'll get around to it), with the author describing how she tried to be Americanized, and not be Asian. She goes from the bayou to USC, where she finds other Asians, stops feeling like an outsider. and starts embracing her Asian background. Her closing is pretty strong:
When I think back throughout the years, there are things my parents could have done differently. They could have enrolled me in Korean language classes; they could have exposed me to Korean culture, such as dance, music, and art. One thing, though, they could not have taught me was to accept and embrace my Korean heritage. Only I could do that myself. I'm glad I realized that, and I'm glad that I did it. I am a much happier, more well-rounded person because of it.
I think I've always been proud of my Korean heritage, but I grew up exposed to a lot of the culture: Korean church, language school, traditional holiday celebrations, traditional food/meals, large Korean family gatherings, etc. Still, definitely something that people of non-American descent have to deal with all the time as we're mixed into the melting pot.

I finally got around to trying this face matching thing that was going around a while ago. I used this picture, and it said I'm a 71% match for Leonardo DiCaprio. Using this photo, I was a 71% match for Matthew Lillard, then 67% for Cuba Gooding Jr, and 66% for Matthew Perry. I'm sort of impressed by the ability of the algorithm to detect faces, but the matching doesn't appear to be done by actual facial features, but rather trends. The DiCaprio match seems to be the result of my smile in the first picture, while the other matches seem to be due to my glasses.

Tony, I saved these on Flickr just for you. Images were created using the free Paint.NET, which is pretty decent for minor image manipulation (though graphic stuff is sort of a pain with a touchpad).

Another cautionary tale about blogging and professionalism. Initial follow-up is here. Important points are that this was a students personal blog on personal time, where he writes a little about his social life and vents about some of his classmates and profs, and he gets suspended for it. Seems like post of the commentary sides with the student, saying that Marquette was out of line for expelling him. There are tons of entries about this, including Marquette faculty attacking the administration, Marquette's statement and the results of the student's appeal, as the media picked up on it and it ran it's course. While the end result is still pretty flaky - the suspension was overturned and he gets his scholarship back, but he has to seek counseling for "behavioral issues," 100 hours of community service, and a public apology to his class - all for some comments, no different that stuff he probably told his friends in the lounge while they were studying or out at the bar.

Of course, this is why some people tend to be cautious about what they post . . .

EdWeek had a nice article on a school in the Miami area doing an event called the Great American Teach-In (registration required). A pretty neat event, where professionals from the community got to teach for a few hours, while they got sponsored to do so. Apparently it raised around $10,000, but the greater benefit is that community members get to see what teaching is about - the accountant detailed in the story now knows first hand what a teacher has to do, and can share his experience with others. From the article: "Efforts for teacher quality won’t be successful unless we make the community smarter about it." A lawyer says after his experience "Did you know this is really hard to do?"

The accountant's account is interesting in that he got to teach an International Baccalaureate advanced business class, and says "Yeah, I may be a natural, but teaching requires more than that; it’s more than being comfortable in front of a crowd." He goes on to say "I felt like what I did today was so hard. If I had my way there'd be very high standards to do it." He also says that teachers should receive higher pay, and if it had been a higher paid field, he may have gone in to teaching.

This is a perfect example of building stakeholder buy-in, one of the key steps we stress at work for our community building model - to create change, you have to have people who believe in it, it can't be you versus the world.

Considering my first VISTA year was spent on after-school computer labs, I've read a decent amount about technology in education. This article is a nice summary of the history - when I get motivated I may look for the other two parts in the series. Still, it's absolutely correct in that technology in education requires paradigm shifts and that teachers have to be good with tech (yet another demand for teachers!)

And lastly, there's this article about risk aversion at work, and how big companies fail miserably sometimes because everyone is trying to cover their ass. Something painfully apparent in both my professional life as a state government employee, but also in much of my work in the non-profit sector. I tend to be a bit of a maverick, pushing for decentralized information flow, letting everyone know everything, using technology, etc.

A perfect example would be recently one of the organizations I'm on the board for was (and still is) setting up a way to give out a free trip. The president sends an email out with a registration form to the board, asking for feedback. I respond, saying I can get it online so we don't have to deal with crazy email attachments and things, and that looking over the form, I'm not sure what criteria we're going to use to select who gets to go, and express some concern over this as the form might make it appear that we're looking for one thing, when really we're looking for something else, which I don't think is fair to applicants. Anyway, no response from the president, or the board, so I go ahead and create a mock-up of the online registration, and send it out to the board. No one responds, but then I get a panicked phone call while I'm in DC on how we have to get this moving, but apparently the guy didn't look at my e-mails. It's just painful. Part of it is the reluctance to change, but the guy also seems to want centralized control (he ended up sending out the applications using an attached Word document, asking that applications be submitted to him). This bugs me since he said he'd pare down the entries, and forward on finalists to the board. While he may not be on a power trip, it definitely appears that way to me. The lack of communication among our board is also a critical issue we need to address.

Anyway, I'm off to Miller's to shoot some pool . . .


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