Outside In

Get ready for an amazing IMAX film!

Stephen Van Vuuren is a self-described musician, photographer, ubergeek and filmmaker whose diverse background includes growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa and Knoxville, Tennessee. Like most filmmaker’s, Van Vuuren has a current film project, but the movie he wants to make is a bit unique. He wants to personally take hundreds of thousands of still photographs from NASA‘s Cassini-Huygens Mission and turn them into an animated IMAX film. The film called Outside In has been profiled previously, but a recent posting about Van Vuuren and his movie on io9.com has giving his project new life since his video with scenes from the movie have gone viral. More on Geek.com

The Great Gatsby Curve

The Great Gatsby is one of those stories everyone can relate to in some way.  These economic and cultural times offer up even more correlations and connections than in past decades.

“The Great Gatsby,” is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and now a movie (again) that highlights the inequality and class distinctions in America during the Roaring 20s.

PNG file - Great Gatsby Curve
It is hard to look at these figures and not be concerned that rising inequality is jeopardizing our tradition of equality of opportunity. The fortunes of one’s parents seem to matter increasingly in American society.

The Great Gatsby Curve was introduced in a speech last year (Jan 2012) by Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. It illustrates the connection between concentration of wealth in one generation and the ability of those in the next generation to move up the economic ladder compared to their parents. Krueger’s speech

The curve shows that children from poor families are less likely to improve their economic status as adults in countries where income inequality was higher – meaning wealth was concentrated in fewer hands – around the time those children were growing up.

So why does this matter for the United States? The U.S. has had a sharp rise in inequality since the 1980s. In fact, on the eve of the Great Recession, income inequality in the U.S. was as sharp as it had been at any period since the time of “The Great Gatsby.”

It is hard to look at these figures and not be concerned that rising inequality is jeopardizing our tradition of equality of opportunity. The fortunes of one’s parents seem to matter increasingly in American society.  Whitehouse.gov Article

Waiting for Superman


Why is our society so obsessed about “broken schools?”  Is is a surprise that we have troubled young people when we have so many “broken homes?”  The US divorce rate is one of the highest in the world: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_div_rat-people-divorce-rate


My point is, families are letting the schools down.  The family isn’t sending kids to school prepared to learn.  Many students come to school with little or no manners and have to learn social skills that should probably be learned at home.  Many students also come to school hungry and tired, and are victims of abuse and violence.  These students are difficult to teach, but public  schools in the United States do what they can, with amazing results.    These students (and their families) facing challenges are often intimidated and threatened by the school system  and are probably not even aware of charter school options and will not benefit from charter schools.  In fact, since many of the better students do choose to leave their schools and attend charter schools, the students left behind lose their peer tutors and the overall quality of their education suffers even more.

It is a shame that people with little or no experience teaching in public schools, seem to know how to fix those very schools which, in many cases, they didn’t even attend.   Bill Gates attended a private high school, then dropped out of Harvard.  This is our public education savior?  Davis Guggenheim is free to express his opinion, and he seems to dislike teachers and unions.    He admits that he drives past three public schools to take his child to a charter school, and he says “it haunts me.”  I guess it doesn’t haunt him enough to help out his local public school.

Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of DC Public Schools say she “knows” students are getting a crappy education?  Get rid of her negative thinking, find somebody positive with energy.  Someone who can talk parents and families into fulfilling their obligations and raising their children with the support they need.

A common theme to improve public school performance seems to be to fire bad teachers and break unions.  I believe this is backwards and negative thinking, looking at the glass as half-empty.  Instead, let’s screen and hire great teachers.  Teaching is difficult to evaluate and measure.  Many of the evaluators are administrators, who were not great teachers and wanted out of the classroom.  Many great teachers just “have it.”   The current system takes new and beginning teachers and focuses on staff development in the early years.  For a teacher who doesn’t “have it,” this could be a waste of time.  Bad teachers should have never been hired in the first place.  Bad administrators hired them.  From this point on, let’s hire only the best.

Whatever we do, let’s all look in the mirror.  Are parents sending their children to school prepared?  Are they supporting their schools?  It all starts at home!

We see all this money pledged to reform schools.  Make smaller learning communities, buy more supplies, better curriculum.  If we focused some of this on parents doing a better job at home, the change would be dramatic.  If each family spent one hour per day/night on schoolwork with their children, test scores and performance would surge.  Bill Gates could stop worrying about teacher pensions.

Here is school reform;  HOME REFORM.  FAMILY SUPPORT.  Let’s be obsessed with “broken homes!”

Auld Lang Syne

James Taylor at Christmas

Give it a whirl, Auld Lang Syne, James Taylor’s version, one of the best I’ve heard.  I watched him sing it on TV a couple years ago, when I was in San Diego on New Years and it was 80 degrees.    It is worth hearing each New Year.  Happy 2009 Everyone!


Christmas Movies

Here are some movies to see over the break (looks like some real crap in this list) http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1868288_1868293,00.html

And here are the 10 Worst Christmas Movies, according to Time.com; http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1868368_1868214,00.html

My personal favorite title being, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians