WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Open Friday / Weekend Forum

So which stories / issues / topics grab your attention this weekend?

The City of Wilmington again receives a negative score in a national magazine:

Readers of Conde' Nast TRAVELER ranked Wilmington # 8 on the list of "Unfriendliest Cities" in the United States; # 17 on the list of "Unfriendliest Cities" in the world.

Of course, last year, PARENTING magazine ranked Wilmington as America's Most Dangerous City.

Wilmington has its problems, but that bad?

(I do find it interesting that folks from our region who visit Midwestern cities often remark on the friendliness of the people they encounter!)



Authorities in Maryland concede Maryland gun-dealers released more than two dozen firearms to people barred from owning guns due to their criminal records -- a consequence of the state's INABILITY to keep up with background checks. (Baltimore Sun)



Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson hosts a fundraiser this Friday for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. This fundraiser is ostensibly for Christie's gubernatorial re-election campaign in New Jersey, but one doubts Adelson is thinking about something so parochial; he's looking ahead to the 2016 Presidential election. Adelson is thought to have contributed more money to an election in 2012 than anyone else in history. (Adelson basically kept former House Speaker Newt Gingrich afloat in 2012, before switching to Mitt Romney.)

Adelson is seen as staunchy pro-Israel and pro-Likud. I'm not aware that Christie - as a governor - has said very much about Israel (although he did visit Israel last year). But of course, Christie DID have his dust-up with more libertarian, isolationist Senator Rand Paul. Christie's muscular defense of surveillance & U.S. national security may have gotten Adelson's attention.



Indeed, this is a week where the conventional Republican establishment - including neoconservatives - pushed back strongly against Rand Paul and other isolationist libertarians. Not just the usual suspects - Senators John McCain & Lindsey Graham and Representative Peter King - pushing back, but younger, rising stars: Senators Marco Rubio & Kelly Ayotte, for example.



NATIONAL JOURNAL's Jill Lawrence offers a column on a question I've been thinking about for a couple of weeks:
"What if John Kerry Outperforms Hillary Clinton as America's Top Diplomat?"



The State Department announced it's closing several U.S. diplomatic missions around the world this Sunday because of a security threat. CBS News correspondent David Martin reports U.S. intelligence detected signs of an alQaeda plot against U.S. diplomatic posts around the Middle-East and other Muslim countries.


New Quinnipiac polling: A majority of Americans favor "stand-your-ground" laws, but people are sharply divided along racial lines. President Obama's public approval numbers remain in negative territory: 46% approving; 48% disapproving. Technically, the President got two extra approval points from the previous poll; but the same rate of disapproval.

Still better than public attitudes about Congress: Respondents gave Republicans a 73% disapproval rating; the Dems, 61%.


Edward Snowden - granted at least temporary asylum in Russia - is already getting jobs offers and calls from Russian girls, according to Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian senator and Snowden's self-appointed lawyer.



Posted at 8:21am on August 2, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

billsmith
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 8:31am
Surprised you missed this in The Daily Mail. People here like to complain that schools have gone downhill since they were in school. Actually, they went downhill long before anybody posting here was in school.

The following is a test given 8th graders 101 years ago. This was from a then-rural county in Kentucky and at the time 8th grade was as far as most people went in school, but I bet nobody here would pass. No calculators allowed. Feel free to substitute Delaware and NCC in the political questions.
_______________________
Were children smarter a century ago? Test for eighth graders in Kentucky dated 1912 ignites debate over kids' intelligence today

A general examination to test eighth grade students in Kentucky's Bullitt County school system in 1912 has stumped some adults and ignited a debate over the intelligence of children today.

The arithmetic, geography, civil government, physiology, grammar and history questions range from 'What is a personal pronoun?' to 'Who first discovered Lawrence River?' and 'Define Cerebrum'.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2381482/Were-children-smarter-century-ago-Test-eighth-graders-Kentucky-dated-1912-ignites-debate-kids-intelligence-today.html#ixzz2aoXZxPi1
_____________________________________

Allan Loudell
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 8:36am
Yes, I did see that...

Welcome back!

billsmith
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 8:39am
The right-wing media like Fox and The Moonie Times have been attacking a new book called "Zealot," which attempts to present an historic study of Jesus and the context and times in which he lived. Why? Because the historian is a Muslim, so the wing-nut media are doing their usual character assassination in the spirit of Christian hate an bigotry.

For a "fair and balanced" presentation, check out the following. The book and these interviews offer some thoughtful insights.
_______________
'Zealot' Tells The Story Of Jesus The Man, Not The Messiah
http://www.npr.org/2013/07/14/200844275/zealot-tells-the-story-of-jesus-the-man-not-the-messiah

Christ In Context: 'Zealot' Explores The Life Of Jesus
http://www.npr.org/2013/07/15/198040928/christ-in-context-zealot-explores-the-life-of-jesus
____________________________________________
Remember Fox's stated purpose is to "stir up the crazies."


Allan Loudell
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 8:46am
Al Mascitti has discussed this extensively during his show, of course, blasting Fox...

billsmith
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 11:40am
So, how did you do on the test? I know nobody here passed the arithmetic portion, but I bet even government and geography were stumpers.

Re: Fox. I recommend the following...
"An Atheist in the FOXhole." By Joe Muto
http://dlc.lib.de.us/client/default/search/detailnonmodal/ent:$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f1651$002fSD_ILS:1651114/one?qu=An+atheist+in+the+FOXhole
Read Fox "stirs up the crazies."

Allan Loudell
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 11:52am
I'll have to review the questions some time. Been way too busy this week!

Just looked at a few: I'd be stumped by many of the discoverers and settlers; I'd do better on the latter questions.

Of course, this does introduce the debate over rote memorization vs. understanding the greater conceptual points, as you yourself have discussed previously with regard to the real underlying causes of the Civil War!

Allan Loudell

Dunmore
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 2:58pm
Interesting questions on the quiz: Some of the arithmetic questions are pretty hard to do in your head. If you have a pencil and paper, they are pretty easy.

I don't understand some of the grammar ones. What is "Degrees of Comparison"? Unless it is, "good, better, best" or something like that. I don't know what they mean by "parse" either. It used to mean separate out from the rest.


billsmith
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 5:07pm
Dunmore: "Parse all the words in the following sentence: Helen's parents love her."
"Parse" when I was in school, meant to identify all the elements in a text, usually a sentence.
"Helen's (proper noun, possessive, used as an adjective) parents (noun, plural, subjective case)" is the subject. "Love" is the verb (third person plural, present tense). "Her" (pronoun, objective case) is the object of the verb.

You got degrees of comparison.

Allan Loudell: In the comments section on this story, many people did bring up the issue of memorization versus critical thinking. Memorization has fallen out of fashion, although many occupations and professions do require one immediately and accurately to recall points of information. If you go to the doctor and recite your symptoms, you expect he or she will be able to associate those symptoms with the correct disease and to recall the proper treatment (specific drugs, side effects and interactions with other drugs). Yes, it's possible now to go online and look up things, but how much confidence would you have in a doc who had to check his tablet every time you asked a question? The most valuable thing rote learning teaches is the ability to remember things.

On the math side, if you make a store purchase and the computer running to point of sale terminal (aka cash register) is down, ever notice how lost more recent school attendees get when they have to make change?

The basic question is how come the educational system could prepare students to function in society in eight years more successfully than the system does now in 16?

Allan Loudell
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 7:29pm
Obviously, you'd want a mix of memorization of specific facts AND comprehension of broader concepts, and the ability to think critically.

(Societies such as China's still emphasize rote memorization. That probably feeds into all the Chinese middle-class parents who insist on their kids learning how to play piano, or violin, etc. But that kind of society is also more regimented, less likely to challenge the status-quo.)

Sure, I guess all of us above a certain age can only shake our heads when we see young people unable to add or subtract, unable to make change.

To your final question -- why an educational system could prepare students (within eight years) to function more ably in society, than the system now does in 16 -- I offer the following theories:

* Education many years ago was hardly universal; some young people didn't stay in school very long. (Of course, we know socio-economic background is a major predictor of student success.)

* Fewer distractions (then): Obviously, mass media and now, new media, all compete for students' attention.

* Diminished attention spans: I would argue our now accelerated culture - and even some of the fast-moving children's shows on public TV - have contributed to the problem.

* The contemporary notion that everything must be entertaining.

* Discussed before in this blog: The popular notion of education as nerdy, "white", etc.

* Discussed before in this blog: Sports rules. Selecting the next basketball coach is a big deal.

* Americans' desire for a quick fix: When the Soviets put up the first orbiting satellite, we had another one of our great national debates over U.S. education. Many school systems abruptly adjusted to the "new math", for example. Some teachers weren't prepared to teach it. For some students at the time, it was "Mickey Mouse"; I had enjoyed math until that point.

* Constant ideological battles over curriculum, goals, etc., which leads to (excuse me) "half-assed" introductions of courses and materials. (You didn't have those battles with the ole' one-room schoolhouse... except for perhaps, over teaching evolution!)

Allan Loudell

billsmith
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 7:49pm
Allen Loudell: I know these are the commonly offered reasons for the state of US education but they seem more like excuses.

It's interesting that this exam comes from what was then a rural county South of Louisville (near Fort Knox). Probably mostly one-room school houses. I have to wonder if so-called "critical thinking" is necessary or appropriate for elementary and grammar school students. Clearly, this curriculum stressed basic skills (what we know call math and verbal) and basic information any competent person should know.

College prep programs were also far more demanding than high school curricula today. Here is Harvard's admission exam from 1869. Note incoming students were required to demonstrate fluency in Latin and Classical Greek (as well as familiarity with works in those languages), and a knowledge of advanced math.
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&ved=0CD0QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgraphics8.nytimes.com%2Fpackages%2Fpdf%2Feducation%2Fharvardexam.pdf&ei=n0P8Uc7mNZOw4AO_8oHoAg&usg=AFQjCNF-xtWFrojaN3Dj2Y3U50rv_C5vEw&sig2=WzBXyTJKSLbtixLU9ec4rQ&bvm=bv.50165853,d.dmg

You don't mention the "dumbing down" of the school system and emphasis on making sure nobody "fails" and feels bad about themselves. Education targets the lowest common denominator. And all children are above average.

I would have expected to hear from Mike From Delaware by now. Maybe after all his criticism of today's students, he does not want to admit he could not pass a test given his grandparents in the 8th grade - that he is a product of an already dumbed-down and flawed school system.

mrpizza
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 8:41pm
The decline in the school system can be attributed to one single cause: Murray vs. Curlett

mrpizza
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 9:33pm
Ed Snowden better be careful about them Russian girls. He still has a wife back in Hawaii.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Aug 2, 2013 10:53pm
Billsmith: Welcome back.

I finally had a few minutes to look at the test. Quite interesting. I'd need a paper and pencil for the math problems, but should be able to do most of them [not knowing what the size {width/length/height} of a cord of wood makes doing that math problem a bit of a problem, but those kids would know that info].

I remember diagramming sentences, always hated it. Question #7 to diagram wouldn't be allowed to be used in public schools today [The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.]

Granted some of the history and geography questions [if not covered in the class I'd not know].

Its difficult to remember what I knew in the 8th grade vs what I know today. That was a long time ago, but that test shows even kids in Kentucky were learning something in their schools [they could read their diploma when they graduated 8th grade vs many of our kids today who go an extra 4 years to complete the 12th grade and can not read their diploma.

mrpizza
Sun, Aug 4, 2013 1:19pm
VIDEO: The truth about the great depression, part 2:

http://www.dickmorris.com/the-new-deal-part-i-relief-but-no-recovery-dick-morris-tv-history-video/

mrpizza
Sun, Aug 4, 2013 3:10pm
billsmith: Unfortunately, our last chat was lost in the WDEL website crash, but I wish to respond to your most recent comment to me. I mentioned how Occupy Wall Street protesters do their poop in public parks and you retorted that dogs also do the same. Are you implying that OWS protesters are dogs? I consider dogs to be a few notches above them. Actually, I find OWS protesters to be more comparable to pigs.

Dunmore
Sun, Aug 4, 2013 5:01pm
On a different topic, very interesting article in the New York Times today about the cost of surgery in the US v. the rest of the world. A man had a hip replaced in Belgium for about $14,000, v. $65,000 here in the US. He had an old sports injury so the condition was pre-existing according to his health provider, and they refused to pay.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/health/for-medical-tourists-simple-math.html?hp&_r=0

kavips
Sun, Aug 4, 2013 5:22pm
Just curious Mr. Pizza. What do you know about "them" Russian Girls?

mrpizza
Sun, Aug 4, 2013 7:36pm
Kavips: Having traveled to Eastern Europe 10 times, I've met quite a number of folks, female ones included. If Ed the Snowman is "getting calls" from Russian girls, there are likely ulterior motives involved. They generally perceive American men as a ticket to the west, or at the very least a cash cow. Now understand that like everywhere else the women I'm speaking of are a small percentage of the population. Slavic people are generally hospitable and generous with what little bit they have (they serve the best potatoes on the planet!), but I suspect the women who are calling Mr. Snowden are up to no good.

mrpizza
Sun, Aug 4, 2013 9:15pm
I think Ed Snowden may unwittingly be the lead role in his own James Bond movie.

kavips
Sun, Aug 4, 2013 11:00pm
The embassy closings are too close to all the NSA shenanigans. The proximity alone forces one to first think this is only a drill to make Americans say,... "see it is ok if the NSA knows everything I do because they prevented an attack on and embassy."

Sorry. But the track record is in place for this administration's acquiescence towards unnecessary secrecy. For example: The NSA lost a huge court battle, and was found to be acting unconstitutionally by the Secret FISA Court. The Obama administration is keeping this judgment secret, even though the secret court said, secretly, that it should be public and produced to all America. Even Congress has been denied the secret decision from the secret court, keeping this judgment secret about how the secretive NSA violated your and my rights...

So when a threat-warning comes out to keep the Sunday talk shows clear of this discussion, one has to be skeptical.

kavips
Sun, Aug 4, 2013 11:15pm
And if anyone is interested, the EFF which is sort of a Consumer Reports type organization keeping watch on our privacy and suing the Federal Gov. to protect them, just rated internet carriers on how well they have your back if they get summoned by the Feds... As a public service all should check out their current carriers. You might want to make some changes. Why would you pay your hard earned cash to someone who won't protect your privacy?

https://www.eff.org/wp/who-has-your-back-2013

kavips
Mon, Aug 5, 2013 1:01am
That was the wrong link. There was a link on that page I gave you that opens the PDF document. Here is that link... go to the end of the document first and see the graphic displaying how all the providers stacked up.

https://www.eff.org/sites/default/files/who-has-your-back-2013-report-20130513.pdf


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