Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

* Attenborough's Hope

Unexpectedly Optimistic

Just when I want to throw the towel in and give up; just when I think global warming and cyber armageddon are inevitable disasters; Sir David Attenborough comes along with a three part series on PBS's  "Nature" summing up his 60-year career as a naturalist film maker, and holds out some hope.

Attenborough expected the Blue Whale to become extinct, but man-made treaties saved it; Attenborough expected Diane Fossey's gorillas to become extinct, but man-made preserves (some of which he himself created) saved them; Attenborough expected humankind's reckless greed to overwhelm the world, but the NASA space program's photos of earth gave people a vision of the planet as fragile, and efforts to reverse global warming have begun to gather strength.

At the end of the three-hour series  which begins with the 26-year-old Attenborough indifferently eating turtle eggs for breakfast, an act which appalls Attenborough today, we see  Attenborough seated alone on a  jungle hillside, musing about the glimmers of hope he has found in his lifetime when humans, unexpectedly,  decided to do the right thing.  

His final words to us at age  87, seated amid the jungle fauna, are a hope that humankind might continue to do the right things.
Suddenly, the camera, apparently on a helicopter, zooms out, and Attenborough's white hair and khaki pants become specks of hope on the mountainous  jungle incline.

I used to tell my classes, for the 25-years I was an English teacher, that my own guidance counselor told me I was "not college material," and I went on to get several college degrees anyway.

I continued, "It is adults' duty to open doors for young people, not to close them.  For all I know, one of you sitting in this class will invent a hydrogen-powered engine which will solve global warming; or find a cure for AIDS.
 Life is a mystery and a gift.  You live in the richest nation in the world, whose citizens invented the electric light bulb, the assembly-line for making automobiles, and the computer chip.  Be brave.  Be optimistic."

Or as David Attenborough says:  Be hopeful  humankind will do the right thing. 

* Shumlin Knows?

Friday, February 8, 2013

* Terminal Tower Indeed?

Cleveland's Terminal Tower

The late Jimmy Hoffa

The very late Richard III

Cementing History 

My friend and occasional contributor to The Anti-Yale, Ron Richo, is amused by recent news of a famous British monarch:  "Funny that they found the remains of a king who died 528 years ago but they can't find Jimmy Hoffa," he writes with a sly smile.

The brash labor leader disappeared  almost forty years ago in July, 1975,  and is rumored to have been dumped into the wet cement of the Renaissance Center (now the General Motors Building)  as it was being constructed in Detroit, Michigan.

This "cement shoes" mafia scenario reminds me of my own introduction to Cleveland, Ohio forty-two years ago when I, as an East Coaster, dared to go to grad school in a quiet mid-western Ohio town called Kent, soon to become famous for its own violent mysteries, associated with student protest.

My new Ohio friends introduced me to a bit of Cleveland folklore about the famous Cleveland Terminal Tower, built from 1920-1934.

It is said that during one of the cement "pours" which raised the Tower to its height of 52 stories, a workman fell into the cement.

The pour was so important and its interruption would be so expensive, that the foreman declared 
the worker dead and his retrieval impossible,so that the Terminal Tower suddenly  became his terminal destination as well as his permanent embalming.

I was never able to think of Cleveland after hearing that story without thinking of that poor workman and his poor family.

I suppose one could could say he had a tomb larger than a pharaoh's, a monument greater than any president's or king's.

History is full of such monumental rationalizations I'm afraid.

Monday, February 4, 2013

* This Is All Mine (revised 2/5/13)


Ed Koch was 88 years old, twenty years older than my age, when he died a few days ago.  A trailer for the documentary "Koch" features his voice in the background as a plane glides over a New York brilliantly lit up in the night sky, a voice joking, "This belongs to me."

In a way it does.  

Memory is the greatest bank in our world , and Koch's memories of New York are as much his "belongings"  as the very city itself those memories mirror.  

"Mirror is the wrong word. The city is a lens through which Koch sees what become his memories.

I feel the same way about my own heritage as I grow older:  New Haven and Yale belong to me  in a way they can be nobody else's; they are a constantly self- adjusting lens through which I see the world.

Creating The Anti-Yale blog and posting on The Yale Daily News are both ways of  sharing with others what  belongs to me:  The almost seven decade Yale/New Haven  vantage point through which I see the world.

One other thing.  

Koch's hubris in saying "This belongs to me " is no hubris at all. 

Consciousness is the greatest real-estate agent in the world.  Every moment we are conscious we "purchase" what we see, hear, feel, touch, taste, and smell, a purchase which will appreciate in the bank of our memory in ways we can only guess with passage of time.

This is indeed all mine: This glorious thing called consciousness.

What a gift.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

* Digital Diva Rhee Regiments Education While Guru Gates Measures It

The Deluded Digital Merchants Who Would  Regiment the Human Spirit in Order to Measure It

Bill Gates and Michele Rhee believe everything can be measured. 

This is a convenient financial fantasy for a man who invented  digital devices which in fact have as their digital DNA the attempt to measure everything.

Self-appointed  mother of the educational regiment, Michele Rhee, former chancellor of Washington D.C.'s school system, can be seen  in the video clip below establishing her credentials with 156 school principals in her reign of digital delusion, as she fires a principal on national television.  

Nothing sadistic there, mind you.

I recently sent the following letter  to my former school superintendent, principal, and the assistant superintendent (after watching their January 24th School Board meeting on local access television), expressing my concern about invoking as an authority the wealthiest foundation in the world which regularly  injects the merchant mentality into educational decisions.

HI Tom, Joe, and Julia;

I just watched this week's  School Board meeting on CATV8 and I want to enthusiastically support Julia's insight that Teacher Leaders should never be put in the position of evaluating other teachers because it immediately taints the Teacher Leaders'  authority as role models when they are perceived as judges by their colleagues.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as beneficent a philanthropy as it is, has a very definite agenda. which consistently elevates the use of technology in the evaluation process.  

NOTE: A lawyer might call such a technology-validating  agenda a self-interested bias, if one's "Foundation" received its funds from the profits earned from the sale of technology devices and software.

I recall Bill Gates last year advocating that class sizes in America should be INCREASED in order to reduce the cost of education.  That is only one of his many ideas which is grounded not as much in educational research  as in the utilitarianism of a business mentality.

Videotaping teachers for evaluations is another such idea which he and Mrs. Gates  advocate. 

I wonder if the School Board would like to be evaluated based on the CATV videotapes of its procedures, especially when the coke machine is rattling away in the background  and half of the Board's deliberations are lost in the sound?

Likewise with classroom videotapes: Coughing, chairs scraping on the floor,  books being opened and closed and pulled out of book-bags and from under desks, phones ringing, announcements coming over the P.A., hallway noise, noise from the next classroom: All of these distractions intrude on a videotape in a more dramatic way than they do the actual classroom and therefore compromise the videotape as an instrument of evaluation in the eyes and ears of an evaluator.

In addition some teachers are natural hams and love the camera (I'm one of them).  Others are terrified of the camera and clam up.

I think it might be prudent to take the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's educational ideas with a grain of salt, rather than be wowed by its status as the wealthiest Foundation in the world.

I hesitate to sign my name here with my academic background and years of teaching in the District, since the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has further concluded,  in the report cited in your meeting tonight,  that holding a master's degree  or having twenty years' teaching experience may not be related in any significant way to being an effective teacher.

Inverting that logic, I fear I must have been in jeopardy of being a very poor teacher indeed with three master's degrees and quarter century of teaching experience. 

I have no agenda in writing this letter,  since I am retired and completely out of the loop of this latest unfolding educational trend. 

I simply urge caution.  And I praise Julia for her extremely important insight about the need for Teacher Leaders to remain neutral.



Paul D. Keane
(HHS  1988-2012)
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

* Yale Sized Fun: The "Largest Private Clubhouse in the World."

The Yale Club


·        The Anti-Yale:                     
If for no other reason, the Yale Club should be a literary landmark because it is where the impoverished Wall Street fledgling, and narrator of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carroway, takes his dinner.

Eighty years later Yale has become an assembly-line for Wall Street fledglings, I gather.


Club of New York fights for landmark status

The historic Yale Club of New York is the largest private clubhouse in the world 

Photo by Grace Patuwo.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The Yale Club of New York may be the next landmark to line east Midtown’s skyline.
Last fall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a rezoning outline that would allow for the construction of taller skyscrapers in New York’s East Side, specifically the area from 39th Street to 57th Street, where activity is centered around Grand Central Terminal. The New York Times reported in December 2012 that Bloomberg’s desired “upzoning,” which involves demolishing old architecture to make room for new buildings, threatens the preservation of some of the neighborhood’s historic mainstays. While the public process of certifying the rezoning proposal is not set to be completed until March, two conservation groups — the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Municipal Arts Society — have submitted landmark designation requests to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in the hopes of protecting buildings that could be torn down, including the Yale Club.
“We’re trying to think about an alternate vision for 21st century east Midtown,” said Ronda Wist, vice president of preservation and government relations at the Municipal Arts Society. “That involves taking into consideration planning and preservation issues.”
Among the buildings in the rezoning area, the group’s proposals cited 17, the Yale Club included, that “convey historic, architectural and cultural significance.” The list also names hotels such as The Lexington and the Marriot East Side, as well as the Center for Fiction, which was formerly the 1820s-era Mercantile Library.
Among the region’s 587 buildings — of which 32 are already designated landmarks — the Yale Club is one of 38 that have been demarcated as “soft sites,” structures vulnerable to replacement because of new construction. Wist said that due to the club’s large lot size and central location, it fulfills the city’s criteria for development.
“Designed by James Gamble Rogers 1889, the Yale Club is one of only eight buildings remaining from Grand Central’s original Terminal City district,” Wise noted. “That’s significant.”
Andrea Goldwyn, director of public policy at the Landmarks Conservancy, said the building drew the group’s attention because it is a “fine example of neo-classical style that hearkens back to the City Beautiful Movement [in North American architecture].”
In the Landmark Conservancy’s testimony to the New York City Planning Commission, Goldwyn cited Rogers as a prominent architect. Responsible for creating Yale’s trademark gothic revival style, he also designed Sterling Memorial Library, Harkness Tower and the original eight residential colleges.
Wist said she has no estimate for how long the commission will take to process the Municipal Art Society’s proposal. While the Planning Commission’s website states that the review process typically lasts 20 to 30 working days, Director of Communications Elisabeth de Bourbon said there is no set timeline for decisions on proposals related to the rezoning study. De Bourbon declined to comment on the status of the application, adding that the commission has yet to decide whether to consider the 17 buildings individually or as a group.
Founded in 1897, the Yale Club of New York moved to its current location on 30 West 44th St. in 1915 following an increase in membership.
Clarification: Jan. 30 
Due to an editing error, a previous headline for this article mistakenly suggested that the Yale Club has been slated for demolition.