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June 02, 2011

This article is called "10 Fantasy Sagas That Are Wronger Than Twilight" but really it's just about weird sex

10 Fantasy Sagas That Are Wronger Than Twilight - io9
2) Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton Narcissus in Chains is widely cited as being the moment the Anita Blake series took a turn for the seriously messed up and weird. Anita has returned to her friends and lovers (mostly lovers) after some time away. One of her boy-toys has gone completely off the deep-end and is killing people. A were-leopard has proposed to her. Her were-wolf boyfriend gets angry at her. And her vampire boyfriend has infected her with a new form of vampirism which lets her feed off people's lust, but she has to have sex ALL THE TIME or she will DIE. (Did we mention she's a necromancer/vampire/were-everything?) At one point, she has group sex with three guys, and then spends ages debating whether it was actually sex. Also, when she's first seized with the vampire lust power ("ardeur"), she takes advantage of a guy who's incapable of saying no, and she muses, "If someone can't tell you no, it's rape, or something close to it." Later, she's basically raped in the shower by a man who then becomes her boyfriend — although in the paperback version, Hamilton rewrote the scene to make it more ambiguously consensual. Hamilton wrote a blistering response to the "negative fans" who criticized the weird turn her books had taken, saying, "The arduer is a pain in my, and Anita's butt, too. But I believe in my world."

June 01, 2011

America needs to treat its teachers better

Do you want better schools? Give teachers more support, and more freedom. Is the U.S. doing teacher reform all wrong? - Ezra Klein - The Washington Post
But what if the United States is doing teacher reform all wrong? That’s the suggestion of a new report from the National Center on Education and the Economy, a think tank funded mostly by large corporations and their affiliated foundations. The report takes a close look at how the countries that are kicking our academic butts — Finland, China and Canada — recruit, prepare and evaluate teachers. What it finds are policy agendas vastly different from our own, in which prospective educators are expected to spend a long time preparing for the classroom and are then given significant autonomy in how to teach, with many fewer incentives and punishments tied to standardized tests. Finland, for example, requires all teachers to hold a master’s degree in education and at least an undergraduate major in a subject such as math, science or literature. Finnish teacher-education programs also include significant course work in pedagogy — exactly the sort of instruction former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein recently claimed was useless. All teacher candidates must write a research-based master’s dissertation on an issue in education policy or teaching practice, and will then spend a full year as a student teacher reporting to an experienced mentor. Shanghai takes a somewhat different approach; its teacher candidates take 90 percent of their college courses in the subject they will teach, and are expected to complete the same undergraduate programs as students who will go on to receive PhDs in math or the sciences. As in Finland, however, a new teacher in Shanghai will spend the first year of his employment under the supervision of a mentor teacher, who is relieved of some of her own classroom duties to spend more time training the newbie. You can see how these international examples cut against the grain of U.S. education reform. Our approach has largely borrowed the Teach for America model. First, we attempt to bring more elite college graduates into the teaching profession by decreasing the credentialing necessary to become a teacher: no student-teaching year or education degree required, just a few weeks of summertime training are supposed to suffice. Then we expect teachers to spend much of their time preparing children for standardized tests, whose results, in turn, will be used to judge teachers’ competency.

May 27, 2011

Recommended Listening: "The Speed of Dreams" by Will Ludwigsen

EP260: The Speed of Dreams : Escape Pod This is...

May 26, 2011

Submitted for your consideration: Worst lecture ever, or *best* lecture ever?

How (not) to communicate new scientific information: a memoir of...

May 18, 2011

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Periodic Table of Storytelling by *ComputerSherpa on deviantART

May 14, 2011

The 100 Best Pieces of Journalism from 2010

This is a fantastic list full of must-read stories. Nearly 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism - Atlantic Mobile