3 December 2006

How to Teach a Class

1. Think about your students in relation to the material.  Design a set of activities that will take them from where they are to a working knowledge of the subject.  Plan in detail what you will tell them, what you will ask of them, and how they will progress during the hour.

2.  Enter the classroom and abandon your plan.  Improvise a lesson plan in response to your students in the moment.  

– Josh Mitteldorf

2 December 2006

“The first step is to accept yourself in your totality, in spite of all your traditions, which have driven the whole of humanity insane. Once you have accepted yourself as you are, the fear of intimacy will disappear. You cannot lose respect, you cannot lose your greatness, you cannot lose your ego. You cannot lose your piousness, you cannot lose your saintliness – you have dropped all that yourself. You are just like a small child, utterly innocent. You can open yourself because inside, you are not filled with ugly repressions which have become perversions. You can say everything that you feel authentically and sincerely. And if you are ready to be intimate, you will encourage the other person also to be intimate. Your openness will help the other person also to be open to you. Your unpretentious simplicity will allow the other also to enjoy simplicity, innocence, trust, love, openness.”

~ Osho 

1 December 2006

“Ask Americans whether they want to spend taxpayer money to educate girls abrod, and 80 percent say yes. Do they want to give food and medical assistance in poor countries? Eighty four percent do. Prevent and treat AIDS? That’s 79 percent.

“But ask them whether they favor foreign aid, and only a bare majority does...

“When pollsters ask people in the United States to guess how much their government spends on foreign aid, the median response is 25 percent of the federal budget – and Americans think that it should be 10 percent. The real number is less than 1 percent. And only a tiny percentage of that goes to fight poverty.” 

Tina Rosenberg thinks that the world’s poverty is not as vast or intractable problem as it has been portrayed.  In fact, she cites eight programs that are working now to help people living in desperate conditions to find sustainable ways to improve their lots. 

NYTimes Op-ed

30 November 2006

Master of beauty, craftsman of the snowflake,
inimitable contriver...

Whatever your end may be, accept my amazement.
May I stand until death forever at attention
for any your least instruction or enlightenment.
I even feel sure you will assist me again, Master of insight & beauty.

from the first of Eleven Addresses to the Lord, by John Berryman

29 November 2006

“Show a two-year-old child a key, a shoe, a cup, a book or any of hundreds of other objects, and they can reliably name its class - even when they have never before seen something that looks exactly like that particular key, shoe, cup or book. Our computers and robots still cannot do this task with any reliability. We have been working on this problem for a while. Forty years ago the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology appointed an undergraduate to solve it over the summer. He failed, and I failed on the same problem in my 1981 PhD.

“In the next 50 years we can solve the generic object recognition problem. We are no longer limited by lack of computer power, but we are limited by a natural risk aversion to a problem on which many people have foundered in the past few decades. If enough people spend enough time working on it, taking ideas that we are getting from psychophysics and brain imaging, I am confident we will come up with at least partial solutions. When we do, the possibilities for robots working with people will open up immensely.”

Rodney Brooks
from a New Scientist forum on the next 50 years in science

28 November 2006

    Introduction to Songs of Experience

Hear the voice of the Bard,
Who present, past, and future, sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walk’d among the ancient trees;

Calling the lapsèd soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!

‘O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass!
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumbrous mass.

‘Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day.’

~ William Blake, born this day in 1757


27 November 2006

“And we could beat the odds, if we finally gave up our addiction to getting even and got odd instead. It stands to reason. If each of us used our unique oddness to improve the odds for everyone, there would be no need for getting even.”

~ Swami Beyondananda