Apologies for Server Problems, We’ve Hired a Security Guard

Apparently some gremlins got into the server and mucked up the mySQL database that drives WordPress’s content. So, apologies to those of you who visited the site between midnight and 5pm EST and saw a big, white blank in the middle of each post. Thanks for the e-mails that let me know trouble was brewing – or had brewed and spilled over.

The gremlins have been expunged and all should be well from here on out. I’ve hired Pia, a crafty little Burmese, to keep a watchful eye on the machines.


Memorial Day: Flowers, BBQ, Veterans and Lawn Darts

Memorial Day trumps all as my favorite holiday, partly because I enjoy all aspects of it, but mostly because of its significance. Rather than post my own thoughts on Memorial Day, I’d like to direct everyone to Peter Collier’s piece in OpinionJournal entitled “America’s Honor” [hat tip to Arma Virumque, constant purveyors of worthwhile content, for pointing us to it]. Collier’s must-read piece sums up the need for us to re-center the meaning of Memorial Day; his treatment of those “honored strangers” is deeply moving.

I am proud to spend my Memorial Day taking advantage of the freedom others earned for me [as opposed to ignoring the Day as a few schools do]. So, I’d like to offer a few highlights from my day because, well, I really am that proud of the freedom.

  • A chicken barbecue at the Hartwick, NY American Legion Post. The food, always memorable, is second only to the stories. The remarkable thing is that there’s always a new one, each and every year; few times are better-spent than hearing the Hartwick boys talk about The Fabulous Fifties in a rural town with one stop sign at the four corners. When a story starts with, “Remember when we poured all that gunpowder in a can, gathered around and bent over it and threw matches at it?” Needless to say, the powder exploded when one of the bolder types stuck a lit match into it. Though they “almost killed every boy in Hartwick,” they somehow escaped disfigurement.
  • Planting flowers. The most moving part of the weekend is planting flowers on the graves of friends, family and veterans – their lives, full of sacrifice, command respect and demonstrations of honor. It’s a fading tradition that saddens me with each passing year, as I see fewer and fewer displays. This is due partly to so many natives leaving the area and, consequently, the graves of family behind, but I sense that fewer locals engage in the celebration. If you aren’t familiar with the process, check out my decoration of the headstone of PFC George Deakin, my Great Aunt’s husband and veteran of both World Wars, who resides in the Hartwick Cemetary:

    Matthew K. Tabor : Headstone, PFC George Deakin

  • The small family gathering at which we play horseshoes and Jarts. No, not the safe Nerf lawn darts, because we all know that safety and fun vary inversely. We have several sets of those decades-old kidkillers that weigh more than they ought [if you're a novice to the game, just imagine bocce with big, sharply-pointed darts]. I apologize on behalf of the generation of kids who used lawndarts irresponsibly and ruined the fun for all who came after, including subjecting millions of kids to that most horrible phrase, “It’s all fun and games until someone pokes their eye out.” Instead of images of summer fun, we’ve got to put up with warnings like the one below. We still play often, and I encourage you to do the same. : jarts, lawn darts

  • Later on I’ll watch some of the classic movies on AMC and the other stations that choose to run themed programming on Memorial Day. The Day isn’t complete without George C. Scott’s masterful portrayal of our greatest General.

Hopefully your Memorial Day is as good as mine – just make sure to recognize the significance of the Day that underlies the hot dogs, family and frivolity. Be sure to thank our living veterans, current military personnel and those who work to support them. And please, take a few minutes to honor our dead, even if it’s just a moment of personal silence. That means you, too, John Edwards, who I imagine will be called a “lowlife son of a bitch” by Patton somewhere in the afterlife.

I Can Help People With All Things College, But I’m Not This Good

Sorry, but I can’t help you get a year at Stanford – housing included – for free. Especially if you aren’t a student there. Or weren’t ever accepted. Or maybe didn’t even apply.

Azia Kim was like any other Stanford freshman. She graduated from one of California’s most competitive high schools last June, moved into the dorms during New Student Orientation, talked about upcoming tests and spent her free time with friends.

The only problem is that Azia Kim was never a Stanford student.

Kim, an 18-year-old from Orange County who graduated from Fullerton’s Troy High School, lived in Kimball throughout fall and winter quarter. She lived in Okada, the Asian-American theme dorm, until Monday night, when University staff finally caught onto her ruse.

I can only imagine the backlash Stanford is going to face over the potential for security threats.

Read the whole article from the Stanford Daily, it’ll make your jaw drop. And Frank Abagnale, eat your heart out.

The Meaning of ‘Public’ in ‘Public Education’

Weapons of Math Destruction is at it again. Agree or not, you can’t help but laugh.

Weapons of Math Destruction

Highlights From the 120th Carnival of Education

Daily Mail : Fingers Indicate Test Performance

I Thought a Think hosts the 120th Carnival of Education this week. This edition of the variety show runs the gamut from teaching to policy with a few surprises.

This week’s All-Star team:

  • The Science Goddess feels sadness for the members of the local teachers union.
  • Educator on the Edge has a gripe of her own – her union seems not to understand that doing what is best for the kids is the most important thing in education.
  • CaliforniaTeacherGuy has the right attitude.
  • It took a while, but now we can see Right Wing Nation’s analysis of the New Math.
  • Who?!?
  • AimlessMiss dissects John Edwards’ “College for Everyone” plan. Really, it isn’t a very good plan – I’m glad someone has taken the time to go through it, because the “college for everyone” soundbyte is so misleading and politickingly-sweet that it just might give you a cavity.
  • Online Degrees Today offends with an extremely simplistic analysis of how to choose a grad school, though writing anything else might hurt their business [This is the Carnival of Education All-Star selection equivalent of David Eckstein, 2006].

You can read the entire Carnival at I Thought a Think, including my submission about Valley Central’s bribe campaign in last week’s budget/board votes.

A note about next week’s Carnival, which heads back to the Wonks:

Next week the Midway returns home to The Education Wonks; Submissions to Carnival #121 should be sent no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern) on Tuesday, May 15th to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. You can also use the ever-handy submission form here.

If you’re interested in some other good stuff [not just education], you can see the best of what I’ve read this week by checking out my

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