12 May 2013
in film, movies, Review, society
Quiet, thoughtful, and touching, Monsieur Lazhar tells the story of a substitute teacher from Algeria who takes over a grade school class whose teacher committed suicide. The title character came to Montreal as a refugee and his immigration status is precarious.
I soon got pulled into this film in a way that’s rare when I watch a Hollywood film. It’s less predictable or high octane. The characters seemed very real, especially the children whose dialog was authentic. Too often child actors are given absurd lines only someone over 30 would come up with.
Monsieur Lazhar reminded me of The Class, a.k.a.Entre les Murs, another film set in a school, which was well worth watching.
28 Apr 2013
in architecture, art, Blogging Challenge, Chicago, China, culture, Europe, museum, photos, society, Weekly Photo Challenge
Tags: African art, church, Knight, postaday2013, postaweek2013, suit of armor
New Orleans Church
Chinese Painting, Shandong Provincial Museum
At the Art Institute of Chicago
At the Chicago Cultural Center
Art Institute Chicago
Here’s how it works:
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08 Nov 2012
in musing, opinion, society, YouTube find
Tags: active God, aloof God, eyes on a billboard, God, Great Gatsby, John Greene, liberal arts education, math majors, mathematicians, Problem of pain, suffering, T. J. Eckleburg, The Great Gatsby, Vlog Brothers
As I was searching for information on The Great Gatsby, I ran across this Vlog Brothers video. Quite interesting, though too rapid fire for my students.
05 Nov 2012
in society, YouTube find
Tags: animated, introversion, personality
Brought to you by Powder Milk Biscuits, that gives shy persons the strength to do what needs to be done. I love the illustrations — and the concepts.
30 Jul 2012
Tags: Advance Fee Fraud, Better Business Bureau, Confidence trick, consumerism, Fraud
I think I’ve unearthed a scam in our area. This afternoon I got a call from the sentry that the Clean Environment Air Duct man was here. Well, I was the only one home and no one had organized an estimate. I called both of my parents and neither was available. I sent the estimator packing as no one authorized or would authorize this service.
He left a card with a big green recycling symbol, no address and no name. He wrote his cell phone number and an illegible name on the card. (Is it Tom or John? Clearly it could be either.)
Just now this guy called back saying that he was here and the homeowners had set up an appointment. Wrong. Neither of my parents set up the appointment and he got a bit aggressive before my mother ended the call. I’m wondering if this is just a scam.
A friend told me that her parents got duped by a traveling fix it guy who noticed their roof had hale damage. Really? How do you notice that from street level? Unfortunately, her parents believed him and paid him a tidy sum and it’s not clear that this guy did any more than bang his hammer on their roof a bit.
Just a couple minutes ago the scam artist, John/Tom at 847-630-5560 of “Clean Environment” Air Duct Specialists called back saying he should have apologized. I agreed, told him we were in the midst of dinner and no interest in any estimates. I wonder who gave them my parents’ information. Could it have been the air conditioning repair people from last month? Could it have been an online source?
30 Jul 2012
in society, words
Canadian Olympian Medallists honoured (Photo credit: VancityAllie)
You won’t believe it’s a real word, but it’s in the Oxford English Dictionary.
This week’s word is Olympianly. It doesn’t roll off the tongue and I suppose represents a wide range of conduct.
Pronunciation: Brit. /əˈlɪmpɪənli/, U.S. /əˈlɪmpiənli/, /oʊˈlɪmpiənli/
Forms: also with lower-case initial.
Etymology: < Olympian adj.1 + -ly suffix2.
In an Olympian manner; loftily, condescendingly.
- 1871 Echo 21 June 1/1 The Times..a little too Olympianly,..intimates that Mr. Gladstone’s argument for the Bill ‘perishes on analysis’.
- 1949 Listener 17 Nov. 860/2 Augustus John..has always been olympianly remote, a psychological factor which I think the critic should remember.
- 1975 F. Exley Pages from Cold Island ix. 151 It was..a trumpeting command issued from Wilson’s Olympianly pedantic heights.
- 1999 D. F. Wallace Brief Interviews with Hideous Men 148 Note..that its not like it’s any kind of Olympianly high aesthetic standards that have caused you to toss out 63% of the original octet.
21 Jul 2012
in art, Chicago, culture, society
Tags: Bean, marriage, Millennium Park, proposal, Relationships
Taped to the sidewalk
Can you read it?
How ’bout now?
I went downtown to Millennium Park this morning for a photography workshop. We met at the Cloud Gate, more commonly known as “The Bean” and saw this marriage proposal. We couldn’t see Alyssa’s boyfriend.
I wonder how she answered.
26 Jun 2012
in essay, society
Tags: Avoid Confirmation Bias Before, Bad Astronomer, Confirmation bias, Controversy, Critical thinking, Phil Plait, Vaccine controversy
Phil Plait (Bad Astronomer) (Photo credit: Genevieve719)
I think I’ll have my students read this article next semester. In this information age it’s much needed.
Every day, we’re confronted with claims that others present as fact. Some are easily debunked, some are clearly true, and some are particularly difficult to get to the bottom of. So how do you determine if a controversial statement is scientifically true? It can be tricky, but it’s not too difficult to get to the truth.
Every internet user has developed a healthy dose of skepticism that keeps us from being duped by things that don’t pass the smell test, but it’s not enough to just think something might not be true. What if you think the statement might be true and you want to learn more? What if you want to respond to the assertion or engage in conversation but you don’t know enough to do so?
We sat down with experts Dr. Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer, and David McRaney of You Are Not So Smart to figure out a working approach to discovering the truth of any statement, from obvious hoaxes (think Nigerian prince emails) to more difficult topics (think vaccine “controversies”.)
First, Learn to Avoid Confirmation Bias
Before we get into what you should do when confronted with a statement you’re curious about, the first thing you have to strip yourself of is confirmation bias. Says Dr. Plait:
The biggest problem is one of confirmation bias: finding an answer you already believe. If someone has a question about a belief or opinion—say, that vaccines are dangerous—then when they look it up online they’ll tend to be biased toward sites that have information they already agree with! This is a well-known effect, and is one reason some things, like anti-vaccination beliefs, are strong even in well-educated communities. The people are smart enough to look up and understand what they read, but perhaps not experienced enough in critical thinking to evaluate what they’re reading without bias.
So how do you beat back confirmation bias? “Even with experience, it’s incredibly tough to do,” Dr. Plait explained. First, be aware that confirmation bias exists, shake yourself of your natural tendency to draw a conclusion before you’ve researched a topic, and be open to information that falls on either side of a statement. Don’t just demand someone else present studies that support their assertion—go looking for them yourself
17 May 2012
in China, commerce, expat life, society, travel
Tags: Beijing, China, consumer protection, corruption, Taxicab, taxis, Transportation, travel, Vehicle registration plate
Next time maybe he will use the meter
Today I learned that my complaint against the black taxis, who refused to give my friends and I a ride using their meters, has resulted in some success. A Chinese friend helped me file official complaints a few weeks ago. I’ve just learned that one of the drivers was fired on May 3rd and another was fined.
So although as a foreigner who often feels that the system is beyond her and that some people are just bad, there’s no reason to despair. Sometimes justice is served. Perhaps in a small way I’ve helped taxi users in Beijing.
I urge anyone who’s having such problems to take a photo of the offending cab’s license plate and driver. Then report the matter to the police as Ling did or to the cab company.