“The big hand is on the 12, and the little hand . . . “

It seems our digital era is causing yet another casualty. It has long been a rite of passage for young children; the moment they first begin to grasp how to tell the time as their parents patiently explain the significance of the “big hand” and the “little hand”. But the ubiquity of mobile phones and tablets, with their digital 24-hour clock, is threatening to make the art of telling the time from a traditional timepiece redundant. So much so that a school in Scotland has found that pupils as old as 13 are unable to tell the time from the ‘analogue’

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Can Airsoft and BB gun training translate to real firearms? You bet they can!

A few years ago, I recommended the use of BB and/or Airsoft handguns as an ultra-low-cost training resource, to improve skill with a real handgun.  I repeated that advice a couple of days ago in a new article.  After that came out, I was challenged by a few shooters who insisted that “playing with a toy” could not possibly translate to usable shooting skills with a real firearm, and that I was “sucking this out of my thumb”. I’m never going to persuade everyone:  but to those willing to watch with an open mind, here’s about as much proof as you’ll ever

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A grammatical relationship?

Stephan Pastis offers some grammatical advice to start the dating new year in the right fashion.  (Click the image to be taken to a full-size version at the comic’s Web page.) I can hear my old middle-school English teacher chuckling fiendishly at that one . . . Peter

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Bureaucrats don’t like non-compliant, rebellious serfs

The Foundation for Economic Education highlights how bureaucrats weaponize the child protection system against parents wanting to protect their children from increasingly dysfunctional schools. Schooling is adept at rooting out individuality and enforcing compliance. In his book, Understanding Power, Noam Chomsky writes: “In fact, the whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on—because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.” This filtering process begins very early in a child’s schooling as conformity is rewarded and divergence

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In memoriam: Harold Bloom

An academic legend has left us.  Prof. Harold Bloom died earlier this month.  The New York Times offers a lengthy obituary. Professor Bloom was frequently called the most notorious literary critic in America. From a vaunted perch at Yale, he flew in the face of almost every trend in the literary criticism of his day. Chiefly he argued for the literary superiority of the Western giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka — all of them white and male, his own critics pointed out — over writers favored by what he called “the School of Resentment,” by which he meant multiculturalists, feminists,

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Languages may be maddening, but they may help to keep you sane

It seems that being able to speak multiple languages, and/or being able to express oneself well, may help to prevent dementia. Researchers from the University of Waterloo recently conducted a study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, to explore the association between multilingualism and dementia risk. To do so, they examined 325 Roman Catholic nuns who were members of the Sisters of Notre Dame in the United States. They gathered the data from the Nun Study, which assesses the sisters and their brain health. After reviewing the material, they found 6% of the nuns who spoke four or more languages

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Heh

Stephan Pastis’ cartoon yesterday made me laugh out loud.  (Click the image to go to a larger version at the Pearls Before Swine Web page.) Somehow I don’t think my elementary school English teacher would have let me get away with that!  Miss de Smit was an old tartar, who wasn’t afraid to use corporal punishment when necessary (and yes, that was legal back then, which may shock modern sensibilities).  Nevertheless, her methods must have worked, because we all graduated from her class with a pretty clear idea about English grammar, vocabulary and usage. Peter

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So why are they still charging fees?

It seems some American universities and university systems can only be described as “stinking rich“. There are 195 countries in the world, and over half of them are poorer than Harvard University. The Ivy League institution’s 2018 endowment was $38.3 billion, according to Stacker. This amount exceeds the wealth of any of more than half of the 195 countries around the world. . . . Campus Reform reached out to Harvard for a breakdown of funding allocation and to see what the school thought of the college vs. countries statistic, but received no comment in time for publication. With a

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Liberal arts degrees still have a place – but only if they’re “real” degrees

I was struck by this article at CNBC, not only for its positive points, but for what it misses.  It’s a case of “close, but no cigar“. By investing in liberal arts graduates, we gain people with human-centered skills who can approach problems in entirely new ways, contributing to out-of-the-box thinking in a digital age. Liberal arts graduates bring a depth and breadth of knowledge from across the humanities and social sciences that complement the hard skills of engineers and data scientists. And in a world that increasingly interacts with technology in every facet of daily life, it’s increasingly important that technology

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“Social and emotional learning” – but by whose standards?

Over at Mad Genius Club this morning, I consider proposals to “establish social and emotional learning as a priority in education”.  I find them rather frightening, to put it mildly.  Here’s an excerpt from that article. My problem is this.  It looks very much as if CASEL is trying to “homogenize” our youth, teaching them the One True Way to deal with life issues, and inculcating a standard set of responses that ignore individuality and “program” them to deal with life, the universe and everything according to whatever approach is politically correct at the moment.  (Read more about it at their

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