COUSINS

Published June 21, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Horseshoe crab hanging on my wall

tunes up louder our past’s recall.

Someone found you on the beach

and brought you within my reach.

I gutted you but you were dead,

ahead of me, let it be said.

Now you hang in one oh seven

pausing on your way to heaven?

You’re bereft of life as I will be

when my old heart gives out on me.

But now I hang you in my hall,

a dreg from life’s own carryall,

and strong reminder of our past–

cousins, joining hands at last.

8-26-19

EUREKA

Published June 20, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Diana Ravitch today on her blog reported on an incredible study at Stanford University which brings to mind the concept of a course not only to be taken by students, but also by candidates running for office, members of Congress, and yes, all adults too:

We live in an age when politicians, advertisers, and others develop and distribute fake news to sell their wares. It’s more important than ever for people to have the digital skills to check the accuracy of what they see online.

A recent study conducted by Stanford University researchers reached a sobering conclusion. Most students don’t know how to fact-check what they see online.

The University published the following survey of the results:

A new national study by Stanford researchers showing a woeful inability by high schoolers to detect fake news on the internet suggests an urgent need for schools to integrate new tools and curriculum into classrooms that boost students’ digital skills, the study’s authors say.

In the largest such study undertaken, researchers from Stanford Graduate School of Education devised a challenge for 3,446 American high school students who had been carefully selected to match the demographic makeup of the American population.

Rather than conduct a standard survey, in which students would self-report their media habits and skills, the research team came up with a series of live internet tasks. The results, published online this week in the journal Educational Researcher, highlight what the researchers say is an urgent need to better prepare students for the realities of a world filled with a continual flow of misleading information.

“This study is not an indictment of the students—they did what they’ve been taught to do—but the study should be troubling to anyone who cares about the future of democracy,” said Joel Breakstone, director of the Stanford History Education Group and the study’s lead author. “We have to train students to be better consumers of information.”

In one of the study’s tasks, students were shown an anonymously produced video that circulated on Facebook in 2016 claiming to show ballot stuffing during Democratic primary elections and asked to use Internet-enabled computers to determine whether it provided strong evidence of voter fraud.

Students tried, mostly in vain, to discover the truth. Despite access to the internet’s powerful search capabilities, just three of the study’s more than three thousand participants — less than one tenth of one percent – were able to divine the true source of the video, which actually featured footage of voter fraud in Russia.

In another task, students were asked to vet a website proclaiming to “disseminate factual reports” about climate change. Ninety-six percent failed to discover the publisher’s ties to the fossil fuel industry. Overall, the researchers found that students were too easily swayed by relatively weak indicators of credibility—a website’s appearance, the characteristics of its domain name, the site’s “About” page, or the sheer quantity of information available on a website, irrespective of the quality of that information.

“Regardless of the test, most students fared poorly, and some fared more poorly than others,” said Sam Wineburg, the Margaret Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford, who co-authored the paper. “It presents a concerning picture of American students’ ability to figure out who produced a given story, what their biases might have been, and whether the information is reliable. More troubling still is how easy it is for agents of disinformation to produce misleading—or even deliberately false stories—that carry the sheen of truth. Coupled with the instantaneous and global reach of today’s social media, it does not bode well for the future of information integrity.”

The researchers suggested potential remedies that might right the ship, including teaching students strategies based on what professional fact checkers do–strategies that have been shown in experiments to improve students’ digital savvy.

“It would be great if all students knew how to take advantage of the full web and had complete command of advanced skills like Boolean operators, but that’s a lot to ask,” Wineburg said. “If you want to teach kids to drive a car, first you have to teach them to stop at red lights and not cross double lines, before learning how a catalytic converter works. As the study shows, a lot of these kids aren’t stopping at red yet.”

It is possible to develop students’ digital literacy skills, Wineburg said. Given the risk to our democracy, it will be critical for schools to integrate these skills into all subjects, from history to math, and at every grade level.

“The kids can do it,” Wineburg said. “We must help get them there.”

The study was funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

I BIT

Published June 19, 2021 by Nan Mykel

The first thing on my mind when I woke up this morning was, IS JILL doing some kind of experiment to see how easy it is to start a conspiracy theory? She gave no source, and surely the dialogue is too excruciatingly snide and awful. So I took the article down, for now. I know it’s easy to believe conspiracy theories–I had my own about 9/11 and JFK’s assassination. Not saying it’s a conspiracy theory, just so unspeakable until the source appears. Perhaps Jill will say more?

NO FUN!

Published June 16, 2021 by Nan Mykel

As if the rampant pandemic weren’t  enough, there’s information afoot that “only one thing is certain: The universe will end.”  (It doesn’t mention heaven).

The astrophysicist Katie Mack’s The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) writes,  as reported in The New York Review of Books July 1, 2021, “Only one thing is certain: the universe will end.  It simply cannot remain unchanged forever. The universe has been expanding since its birth about 13.8 billion years ago. As its composition has changed from being dominated by radiation for the first 30,000 years of its existence to being dominated by matter and then by dark energy (for the past 4 billion years),  the expansion rate has also changed. Further transitions will determine the universe’s ultimate fate.  This is a challenging question that several large teams  of cosmologists are probing with observational surveys and experiments.”

Another review in the same article is of Frank Wilczek’s Fundamentals, containing two main sections, “What There Is,”  and “Beginnings and Ends.”  The review, All Things Great and Small, by Priamvada Natarajan, also discusses Katia Moskvitch’s new book, Neutron Stars: The Quest to understand the Zombies of the Universe.

We are reminded not to worry, life on Earth [or Earth itself?] won’t be around by that time.  Still, couldn’t our inhabitants quit squabbling and instead  love, support and enjoy while the eternal now  lingers here?

The accumulation of money, power, manipulation and ego just doesn’t hack it.

JUST SURFACED…

Published June 13, 2021 by Nan Mykel

While re-organizing “archives” I came across a partial letter I had written to friends and family in 1981, typed on my daughter’s manual typewriter in her dorm room at Oberlin College: “I’ve been pretending to be a student again…went to daughter’s classes all day–Poetry, Biology and Religion….You may note that I’m writing before my sense of humor returns, so bear with me. My daughter is now wearing a different earring in each ear. She trades off with Joe, a friend of hers, who wears a single earring in his single pierced ear. (Actually, he has 2 ears, just one is pierced)….I spent some time today in Mudd Learning Center, the Library. (I wondered earlier what daughter meant when she said she’d been sitting in mud).

“They have a photography exhibit (or ‘photo-documentary’) entitled Stories of the Skin, delineating tattoo parlors and the people who frequent them [well, back then, anyway]. Quote from one habituee: ‘When I got my first tattoo my grandma said to me, If you have a tattoo and you commit a felony they’ll be able to identify you. And I said to grandma, I’m not going to commit a crime, my daddy’s a policeman. And then she says, Well, what if you want to go out into high society? and I said, Grandma, I am high society.

“I’ve even been writing graffiti on the bathroom stalls here. (The college wisely provides computer print-out paper on the walls to encourage creative expression, and Oberlinites are creative all right, at least the visitors to the second from the right stall in the basement of Mudd Learning Center: ‘There’s an old saying a tattoo artist once told me. One tattoo means you’re trying to express yourself, two tattoos means you hate your parents, and 3 or more means you’re crazy.’

“Graffiti from the stall, to give you a “feel” for what the day to day matriculation at Oberlin is like, at least in 1983:

Life is like…

  • a bowl of cheerios
  • the ultimate paradox: the search for the universally infinite through the personally finite (analogy: universe vs. atoms)–neither of which is ever attainable
  • a magazine. How much does it cost? $2.00. I haven’t got $2.00. Well, that’s life
  • paradise when you’re making love, etc.
  • a load of cow shit on a hot humid summer day
  • the feeling you get after you haven’t slept in 4 days, haven’t showered in 5, and have existed on cigarettes and coffee and the whole time you haven’tt brushed your teeth because you have only $5 and you have to have cigs and coffee
  • a cereal. How much does it cost? $1.50. I haven’t got $1.50. Well, that’s life…q

“Julia, a co-worker of mine at Meigs, is mad at her dentist. He let her leave the office the other day with white gunk mixed with blood all over her face, and she went shopping around town for a couple of hours before spying herself in a mirror. She said she’s only non-assertive with dentists and hair dressers.

“Oh yes, I just remembered a bad thing that happened: When my mother and I went to Atlanta we accidentally locked Blackie the cat in the house. By the time Marvin, the next door neighbor, noticed him at the window and let him out, it was WHEW! (Still is, to some extent). Ralph told me about using vinegar, but I didn’t write the mixture proportions down, not knowing I would be needing them within hours…”

Thr Grandeur of Age

Published June 13, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Thanks to Dr. Horty Rex for mind-blower post which reads:

Which made me wonder about him, and to save you time have looked him up, but too much pro and con to cover for you at some wide-ranging Google posts. Thanks to Dr. Rex, without whom I would never have known about him…

tarongazooVerified

Photo by Taronga Zoo on April 29, 2014.
  • tarongazooVerifiedSmall, bigger, biggest! 🐢

    Taronga Western Plains Zoo has continued its Galapagos Tortoise breeding success, welcoming two new hatchlings! The hatchlings will take 20-25 years to reach their full size and may live up to 150 years!

    Our photo shows the tiny pair next to…..Taronga Zoo (@tarongazoo) • Instagram photos and videos
  • tarongazooVerifiedSmall, bigger, biggest! 🐢

    Taronga Western Plains Zoo has continued its Galapagos Tortoise breeding success, welcoming two new hatchlings! The hatchlings will take 20-25 years to reach their full size and may live up to 150 years!

    Our photo shows the tiny pair next to…..

Topic for a Poem

Published June 10, 2021 by Nan Mykel

That’s the hardest part of it since

I insist my muse do the work,

not me. At least most of it. 

So I wait and listen, feel and

free associate and recall my

dreams and surrender to the past.

We have lived it together, she

and me. Sitting on the train tracks,

waiting.  The train is running late.

Ho ho, that wasn’t fun was it!

Lighten up, Mu!

(For https://dversepoet.com)

IF THOUGHTS WERE WORDS

Published June 10, 2021 by Nan Mykel
Oh no. Here she comes again. I wonder if she eats babies. I thought the holly bush would be protection enough, How awkward not to carry a weapon. Just my voice. I felt like a genius when I selected the holly bush. She ignores me. Guess that’s better than murder. I never guessed I could yell so loud! Good. She’s going inside, through with beheading petunias. Now back to my babies.

HONESTLY…

Published June 9, 2021 by Nan Mykel

KEITH ON TRUTH – Reblog

The lies are like a loose string in a woven fabric

Posted on 11

“Always tell the truth as you don’t have to remember as much,” said a voicemail greeting from an old friend. His greeting spoke volumes to me when I first heard it. He would alter his greeting at work on a daily basis offering adages or life lessons and this remains my favorite lesson of his.

To me, it is an important lesson as when people do not tell the truth, not only do they have to remember more stories, the lies are like loose strings in a woven fabric. They will eventually begin to unravel. This is especially true when people in leadership positions lie. Their lies are so visible, others have to adjoin their lies with the so-called leader’s. That leaves greater exposure as there are now more strings to unravel.

It truly saddens me how the truth has become more of a commodity these days. Politicians feel they can get away with exaggerations or even bald-faced lies. The know pseudo-news outlets that support their tribe or party will cover for them. To be frank, when someone knowingly covers for a lie, that is also lying.

All politicians lie, but by far the worst of the lot is the former president. But, that is truly not news, as an attorney who worked for him for years before he was elected said the former president “lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” Similar quotes can be found by more than a few people who worked for him over the years and in the White House.

Yet, too many believe this person. He did not win the election – he lost. It was not stolen from him – he lost. He lost because he got seven million fewer votes. He has been unable to prove election fraud losing well over sixty court cases, while winning one. That is a pretty miserable investment of money to pay attorneys for so little return. Some funders actually want their money back as they felt the former president cheated them by insinuating there was fraud.

Yet, these lies led to people dying on January 6 when he invited, incited and pointed protestors at the Capitol. Lies about the seriousness of COVID-19 led to more than deaths than needed and some people still believe it was all exaggerated or a hoax because of such. And, those folks who are still covering for those lies – such as in Texas where it was recently ruled illegal to use the Vaccine passports, reveal a how screwed up this former president has made things.

The truth matters. People rely on politicians to tell them the truth. We need to believe them, but when a president, governor or senator lies, it devalues our country. Being a sycophant to an untruthful person does not bode well for one’s reputation. And, these sycophants know they are lying, which bothers me as much as the lying itself.

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