Month: August 2009

Total 12 Posts

The More Things Change

Journalism is probably the slowest-moving, most tradition-bound profession in America. It refuses to budge until it is shoved into the future by some irresistible external force.


“Those guys on the plane,” said [Brit] Hume, “claim that they’re trying to be objective. They shouldn’t try to be objective, they should try to be honest. And they’re not being honest. Their so-called objectivity is just a guise for superficiality. They report what one candidate said, then they go and report what the other candidate said with equal credibility. They never get around to finding out if the guy is telling the truth. They just pass the speeches along without trying to confirm the substance of what the candidates are saying. What they pass off as objectivity is just a mindless kind of neutrality.”

Timothy Crouse, Boys on the Bus, 1972, which, if your pocket calculator is out of reach, is almost four decades ago.

A Second Note On Modern Photography

I use my point-and-shoot less and less for still photography and my FlipCam more and more. I realize that with the Flip I’m losing hundreds of thousands of pixels and a much better sensor but I’m also picking up a) portability and, most crucially here, b) a couple dozen more frames per second. Technological advances will eventually close the gap in quality but technological advances are useless to close the gap between the photographer I am and the photographer I want to be.

Check this out. Give a photography student less than a second of video. Twelve frames, maybe.

At what point is the composition balanced?

At what point does the gorilla become the subject?

I have found this kind of deconstruction to be a) essential to my growth as a photographer and b) impossible to achieve using a point-and-shoot camera (or any camera) with a shutter refresh rate of more than a second. That kind of lag has you comparing apples to oranges.

One Note On Modern Photography

I closed out the summer with a rafting trip on the American river. I took one of these disposable jobs along and had three recurring thoughts:

  1. “Waitaminit, there’s no image preview?”
  2. “Waitaminit, there’s only 24 shots?”
  3. “Waitaminit, I’m supposed to wind this thing?”

How am I supposed to explain any of this to my children?

[image source]


Sam Shah puts out the call for three new-school-year resolutions. Alison Blank, second-year math teacher and blogger to keep an eye on, drops a list:

I will take just a few minutes to review lessons after I’ve taught them, and learn from my mistakes.

I have found “learning from my mistakes” to be exceptionally easy in the minutes and hours immediately following un lesson de suck, while the stripes are still fresh, ragged, and raw. It’s another matter entirely to learn from those mistakes a full year later, as you’re about to confuse transformation with translation all over again.

Which is one point in favor of slideware. It’s simple to leave yourself notes on top of the offending slides, notes which you’ll encounter the next year, notes which (for me) were often profane and excoriating but always always appreciated.

Todd Seal takes a different route to his new year, vowing a set of anti-resolutions, what he won’t do this year:

Collect writing and then ignore it for a month. Expect study questions answered every night. Give daily reading check quizzes worth tons of points. Skip grading blogs on a Saturday morning. Wait until April to institute a classroom after-school writing lab. Circle every single grammatical error on a given page.

It’s an awesome exercise and every bit as valuable as a set of positive resolutions.

One more word while I’m on Todd: I’m pretty sure this is his thirteenth year teaching. He’s well above my blogroll’s median level of experience but he comes at his teaching and, especially, his writing about his teaching like he’s fresh out of an induction program.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s one thing for Alison or Sam or I to write a post of resolutions. That kind of regret and self-recrimination basically spills out of eager, new teachers. But I would urge anyone looking to turn this job into a career to keep an eye on Todd, how’s he’s stayed hungry long after his peers have fattened themselves up.