Yesterday’s Thoughts

The Power of Vulnerability

Brene Brown on the Power of Vulnerability

A Physicist Turns the City Into an Equation

Jane Jacobs meets biology and physics!A Physicist Turns the City Into an Equation.

Cool. Check. Scary. Check.

This robot from USC moves amazingly. That it is funded by DARPA makes me think twice about what it might be used for.

Visiting the San Francisco of 1850.

Chris Carlsson has a lovely post on SF Streets Blog called Walking Through the San. It is the first of what promises to be a series on the history of San Francisco Transit History.

I was very moved to contemplate the San Francisco Peninsula in the earliest days of European occupation and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

Update: You can join Chris Carlsson on a bicycle tour of San Francisco on April 24, from Noon to 4 pm.

Discover lost freeways, ghosts of train routes, and a vivid account of how San Franciscans moved around this peninsula through time. Hear about the violent strikes that shaped public transit, the graft and corruption that conquered the Outside Lands. It’s a social, historical and critical 4-hour tour through the city’s transportation past and present.

Details here.

Words to Live By

Stumbling Through Mediocrity

Walking Down Hill

When walking down hill, my natural response is to lean backwards, to brace myself from falling.

Often it is better to lean forward. Leaning forward places your body weight on your entire foot and the pressure on your foot causes it to make better contact with the ground. This means that you are less likely to slip than if you lean backward which puts your weight on your heel, or the rear edge of your shoe, and is more subject to slippage.

This is a great advantage of trekking poles. The poles allow you to be much more forward, making better contact with the ground. In addition, the poles really do support a weight distribution that is in front of your foot. If your feet slip downhill, they slip toward your center.

Edward Hall

Edward Hall died a few weeks ago. His obituary was in the Times today.

I first learned of his work with non-verbal communication in the early seventies, but returned to it in a visceral way in the early nineties. I read The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time and it worked its way into my dreams. I dreamt that I was interacting with the people around me without words. I was actively interacting with them in the distance we stood apart and the way we move forward and away from each other. We interacted in the sounds that we made. I had one particularly powerful dream where I imagined myself observing the rhythms of people’s walk and motion and playing music that incorporated the rhythm of each person that walked into the room into the rhythm of everyone else already in the room.

Edward Hall’s work was the intellectual bridge that enabled me to walk out of my brain and into my body.

Standardized Tests and National Security

One of James Fallows’ readers comments on teaching to students in China and their obsession with the standardized test (gaokao) that will determine their future.

The only thing that matters is the test, and doing well on the test is a matter of memorizing a number of decontextualized facts. The worst affect by far of the exam system is that it creates a distorted and poverty stricken idea of what education is and how to engage in it. These students hunger for real engagement, real knowledge, real education, but they don’t know what it is or how to look for it.

The thing that bothers me more than anything else, though, is that the educational system in the U.S. is being pushed down the same road. The increasing emphasis on standardized testing, something which teachers almost universally deplore, is leading to the Sinification of American education. If things continue in the direction they are going, the U.S. will soon have a system that is just as rigid and anti-creative as China. From having taught in both places, I think the U.S. is already well on its way.

From that point, my mind can go a hundred directions.

For some reason, today, it went to national security. Our educational system has already failed us, with catastrophic consequences for national security. Somehow we were presented with a pastiche of fact about Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction, and threats to our national security and neither average Americans, nor elite-educated Americans, were able to shift fact from fiction in any significant numbers.

How many facts does one have to memorize in order to develop the discernment to note that the “facts” one is being presented, have no basis in fact? Or perhaps more correctly, how many “facts” does one have to memorize in order to lose the discernment that those facts have no basis in fact?

Hypercritical

Knowing is half the battle. Hypercritical – Ars Technica.

So I’m halfway there!

HATCHfest names George Baxter a Groundbreaker!

Evan was named a fashion groundbreaker at Hatch Asheville.

My Boy

Evan wearing his winning designs

Here’s is the site. HATCHfest.