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September 03, 2011

It's time we treated teachers better

In Honor of Teachers - NYTimes.com
. . . A March report by the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that one of the differences between the United States and countries with high-performing school systems was: “The teaching profession in the U.S. does not have the same high status as it once did, nor does it compare with the status teachers enjoy in the world’s best-performing economies.” The report highlights two examples of this diminished status: • “According to a 2005 National Education Association report, nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years teaching; they cite poor working conditions and low pay as the chief reason.” • “High school teachers in the U.S. work longer hours (approximately 50 hours, according to the N.E.A.), and yet the U.S. devotes a far lower proportion than the average O.E.C.D. country does to teacher salaries.” Take Wisconsin, for instance, where a new law stripped teachers of collective bargaining rights and forced them to pay more for benefits. According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, “about twice as many public schoolteachers decided to hang it up in the first half of this year as in each of the past two full years.” . . .

September 02, 2011

From scroll to codex to e-book

This is a fun history of books. The Mechanic Muse — From Scroll to Screen - NYTimes.com
Something very important and very weird is happening to the book right now: It’s shedding its papery corpus and transmigrating into a bodiless digital form, right before our eyes. We’re witnessing the bibliographical equivalent of the rapture. If anything we may be lowballing the weirdness of it all. The last time a change of this magnitude occurred was circa 1450, when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type. But if you go back further there’s a more helpful precedent for what’s going on. Starting in the first century A.D., Western readers discarded the scroll in favor of the codex — the bound book as we know it today. In the classical world, the scroll was the book format of choice and the state of the art in information technology. Essentially it was a long, rolled-up piece of paper or parchment. To read a scroll you gradually unrolled it, exposing a bit of the text at a time; when you were done you had to roll it back up the right way, not unlike that other obsolete medium, the VHS tape. English is still littered with words left over from the scroll age. The first page of a scroll, which listed information about where it was made, was called the “protocol.” The reason books are sometimes called volumes is that the root of “volume” is volvere, to roll: to read a scroll, you revolved it. . . .

September 01, 2011

Bill Watterson Writes, Illustrates, Shreds New 'Calvin And Hobbes' Strip Each Morning Out Of Spite

Bill Watterson Writes, Illustrates, Shreds New 'Calvin And Hobbes' Strip Each Morning Out Of Spite
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH—Despite not having published a new comic strip since December 1995, cartoonist Bill Watterson has reportedly taken the time every day since to write, pencil, hand-ink, and, out of spite, destroy a new installment of Calvin And Hobbes. "Wow, this might be one of the best yet," Watterson said as he completed his 5,689th strip of the past 16 years and then immediately fed it into a paper shredder. "I bet my millions of fans would really love this whole new direction for Spaceman Spiff. Oh, well, fuck them." According to sources, Watterson also spends a portion of his time calling comic strip syndicates to discuss publishing new material, only to abruptly announce, "Actually, that's never gonna happen," and hang up the phone.