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Month: August, 2010

Roger Ebert on Food – Still Cooking – NYTimes.com

by Scott Smith

“A downstate Illinois boy loves the Steak ’n Shake as a Puerto Rican loves rice and beans, an Egyptian loves falafel, a Brit loves banger and mash, an Indian loves tikki ki chaat, a Swede loves herring, a Finn loves reindeer jerky, and a Canadian loves bran muffins,” he wrote. “These matters do not involve taste. They involve a deep-seated conviction that a food is absolutely right, and always has been, and always will be.”

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Sal Khan: Bill Gates’ favorite teacher – Aug. 24, 2010

by Scott Smith

In the summer of 2004, while still living in Boston, Khan learned that his seventh-grader cousin, Nadia, in New Orleans was having trouble in math class converting kilograms. He agreed to remotely tutor her. Using Yahoo Doodle software as a shared notepad, as well as a telephone, Nadia thrived — so much so that Khan started working with her brothers, Ali and Arman. Word spread to other relatives and friends. Khan wrote JavaScript problem generators to keep up a supply of practice exercises. But between their soccer practices, his job, and multiple time zones, scheduling became impossible. “I started to record videos on YouTube for them to watch at their own pace,” Khan recalls. Other users tuned in, and the blueprint for Khan Academy was created.

Security Crackdown in Bahrain Hints of End to Reforms – NYTimes.com

by Scott Smith

The government said this week that it would no longer tolerate unrest among the Shiite majority, who make up about two-thirds of the population but are barred from many government jobs and face a chronic housing shortage.

Detainees can be held in secret for 15 days under Bahrain’s anti-terrorism statutes, which are applied to people who criticize the government or take part in riots and tire burnings.

Those convicted of compromising national security or slandering the nation can be deprived of health care and other state services, the government said.

“The reform project leaves no excuse or justification, whatsoever, to illegally express opinions that harm the nation,” Deputy Prime Minister Ali bin Khalifa al-Khalifa said.

Kerry Trueman: The Myth of the Rabid Locavore

by Robinson

Stephen Budiansky, self-proclaimed “liberal curmudgeon,” has stuffed together another flimsy, flammable straw man out of boilerplate anti-locavore rhetoric on the New York Times op-ed page, with the patronizing title Math Lessons For Locavores.

Nice rebuttal to an anti-local food op-ed.

Hospice medical care for dying patients : The New Yorker

by Scott Smith

She was unmarried and without children. So I sat with her sisters in the I.C.U. family room to talk about whether we should proceed with the amputation and the tracheotomy. “Is she dying?” one of the sisters asked me. I didn’t know how to answer the question. I wasn’t even sure what the word “dying” meant anymore. In the past few decades, medical science has rendered obsolete centuries of experience, tradition, and language about our mortality, and created a new difficulty for mankind: how to die.

No More Ducks

by Scott Smith

I took care of our last two ducks today. It was brutal. It was the right thing for the farm. It was the farmer thing to do. If we’ve learned one thing in the last five years it is to be farmers. When we aren’t bad things happen.

The billionaire Koch brothers’ war against Obama : The New Yorker

by Scott Smith

In a statement, Koch Industries said that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admiring article about him in New York, protested that the “radical press” had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

Richard Russo turns to nonfiction to tangle with the legacy of his hometown – Times Union

by Scott Smith

Yes, I know, most of his novels are set in Gloversville-like stand-ins such as Empire Falls in “Empire Falls,” Thomaston in “Bridge of Sighs” or Bath in “Nobody’s Fool.” But in an essay titled “High and Dry” in the current issue of the literary journal Granta, Russo removes the veil of fiction to share a very personal and emotional account of the city and his family.

My hands are too big for the teats

by Scott Smith

Our goat visit video:

Liberal Arts Courses are Blooming Abroad – Newsweek

by Scott Smith

And innovative approaches to education are also hampered by ingrained Confucian attitudes to teaching—respect for authority, hierarchy and rote learning. Zhao Zhongjian, director of the Center for Global Education at East China Normal University, says teachers need to “foster 21st-century talents.” That means understanding that creative arts are no longer a frivolous luxury, but essential to achieving a competitive edge.