Category Archives: Uncategorized

TCS: Bicycle Day – Only Moving Does It Have a Soul

Flowers For Socrates

.Good Morning!


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.


She who succeeds in gaining the mastery
of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.

– Susan B. Anthony

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making your writing authoritative – a citation revision strategy


Readers expect academic writers to know what they are talking about. We meet that expectation by grounding our writing in good scholarship – and making it sound authoritative.

Authoritative. You can see the words author and authority contained within authoritative – and this is no accident as the threesome have the same origins. An authority is a knowledgeable person or source whose word is trustworthy, reliable, dependable, valid, sound, well-founded. An author is the one who writes confidently about what they know.

You may also see in this family of words the verb to authorise, to recognise expertise in some way. And of course the adjective authoritarian, and this points to the ways in which authors can overstep the mark – they dictate to readers rather than gently lead. I don’t want to digress into wordplay here, but it is helpful to see that an authoritative writer leads and guides…

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Steven Singer: Diversity is the Most Important Reason to Save Public Schools

Diane Ravitch's blog

Steven Singer, a teacher in Pennsylvania, explains what is most important to him in public education:

Diversity is the Most Important Reason to Save Public Schools

Public schools are under attack.

So what else is new?

It’s been so since the first moment the institution was suggested in this country  by revolutionaries like Thomas Jefferson:

“Education is here placed among the articles of public care… a public institution can alone supply those sciences…”

And John Adams:

“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it.”

But as the founders saw public education as primarily a means of securing democracy by creating informed citizens able to intelligently vote, that is only one of its many benefits today.

Compared to its main alternatives – charter, voucher, and private schools – public schools are more fiscally responsible, democratically controlled and…

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Silver soldering by Beth McDonough (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

Nathalie sunrise reflection silver seaSilver soldering
by Beth McDonough

File to sharp brightness on both sides,
then butt each seam hard at its twin.
Exert gentle pressure to make ends meet,
slick a flux brushful all the way down.
Stipple a little on a snipped-off strip,
real silver solder at the meet of the cut.
Bind it up in thin iron wires. Not that tight.

Build mini-firebrick homes in the forge,
set a nest of those same skinny wires.
All so unlike tin soldering…iron and glob;
this whole job must be warmed
to a dulled just-red, with a tad more
torch play of flame, now
roar it up the wait of the join.

There’s a moment of bubbling up borax,
strange colours and stinks.
However often you’ve done this, you think
what if this time nothing floods?
But it does. A glisten turns silvering river,
mercurial, healing. The job stopped,
tongs ready…and quench.


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Space City!

1960s: Days of Rage

Space City! was an underground newspaper published in Houston, Texas from June 5, 1969 to August 3, 1972. The founders were Students for a Democratic Society veterans and former members of the staff of the Austin, Texas, underground newspaper, The Rag, one of the earliest and most influential of the Sixties underground papers. The original editorial collective was composed of Thorne Dreyer, who had been the founding “funnel” of The Rag in 1966; Victoria Smith, a former reporter for the St. Paul Dispatch; community organizers Cam Duncan and Sue Mithun Duncan; and radical journalists Dennis Fitzgerald and Judy Gitlin Fitzgerald. Dreyer, a Houston native, and Smith had worked together at Liberation News Service (LNS) in New York before coming to Houston to help found Space City!. Other staffers included Bill Narum as Art Director, cartoonist Kerry Fitzgerald (later known as Kerry Awn), and noted…

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A Poem for Animal Crackers Day

Flowers For Socrates

Animal Crackers Day celebrates these ever-popular treats. Animal crackers first came to the United States in the late 1800s when the U.S. imported animal-shaped cookies from England. In 1902, animal crackers officially became known as Barnum’s Animals and evoked the familiar circus train theme of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Later that year, Nabisco designed the now-familiar box with a string for the Christmas season to hang from the Christmas tree. They were a big hit in 1902 and still are today.

Christopher Morely (1890-1957) prolific American journalist, novelist, poet, and essayist. He also produced stage productions and gave college lectures. Known for his novels, Kitty Foyle, Parnassus on Wheels, and The Haunted Bookshop, as well as his poetry collections The Old Mandarin, and On Vimy Ridge, and his essay collection, Off the Deep End. He suffered a series of strokes in 1951, and died at age 66 in 1957.

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How to build a woodpile by Jane Baston (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

wood-336547_1920How to build a woodpile
by Jane Baston

Take up your tools —
bucksaw, maul, splitting wedge.

Use wood seasoned and dry —
lapped birch splits, riven white oak.

Choose your pattern —
shaker round, beehive, cone.

Place on level ground —
each cord stacked and ricked.

Avoid over-regularity —
uniformity causes inward collapse.

Beware water from above and below –
rot, decay, decomposition.

Encourage the flow of air —
face prevailing winds, bark up.

Let the occupants be —
Earwigs, pillbugs, beetles do no harm.

Even the brown recluse spider prefers to scuttle off
than give its lethal bite.

Originally published in Lunar Poetry 9 (June 2016).

PHOTO: Woodpile in the Woods by Pixabay, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Some years ago, faced with my first delivery of wood, I needed to build a woodpile. The details of construction were fascinating and gave rise to a poem…

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What I Said About NCLB and Standardized Testing a Decade Ago

Diane Ravitch's blog

In 2011, I was interviewed by Terri Gross on “Fresh Air,” her NPR program. When my book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. When it was published, there was quite a lot of speculation about why I changed my views. Apparently, no one ever has a change of mind or heart. I have been consistent over the years in admitting that I was wrong when I supported charter schools, testing, and accountability. It was really hard for some people to accept the plain statement, “I was wrong.”

On the 10th anniversary of this interview, I post it now (I didn’t have a blog in 2011).

The book became a national bestseller, a first for me. (My next book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement, was also a national bestseller).

I had a wonderful appearance on

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How to teach remotely during a pandemic by Jennifer Hernandez (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

Norval Morisseau 1How to teach remotely during a pandemic
(an acrostic poem )
by Jennifer Hernandez

Put on lipstick before you start the meet.
Ask students to mute their mics and sign into the chat.
Never assume that random family members aren’t listening to your every word.
Dogs, cats, and younger siblings are welcome visitors to the virtual classroom
except when barking, meowing or screaming while the
mic’s unmuted.
I used to be an old-school teacher, but
Coronavirus has
taught me a thing or two.
Elkin. Aron. Sebastian. Theresa. Jamela.
Axel. Juan Diego. Alina. Arina. Olu.
Chromebooks connect us, let us
hear voices, laughter. Let us see images & when
I’m lucky – even faces.
Newly vaccinated, I am both anxious and apprehensive to
greet students in person for the first time in nearly a year.

PAINTING:Teaching by Norval Morrisseau (XX Century).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Teaching online has meant learning…

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Advice for New Starts by Penny Blackburn (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

tree-of-life morrisseau
Advice for New Starts
by Penny Blackburn

Firstly, make sure
you have sufficient time,
have not left your new start
until it is too late.

Take your broom — old or new,
it makes no difference.
Sweep away the ashes
from last years’ burnings.

On bare concrete, lay
whatever will be required —
world maps or Spanish grammars,
coloured silks and tacking pins.

Read through any instructions
carefully, at least twice.
Place these securely under a stone
or the fresh wind will take them for itself.

Enlist the help of neighbours if needed.
Leave clear instructions,
emergency contact details,
if necessary a will.

PAINTING: Tree of Life by Norval Morrisseau (XX Century).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written during a workshop on “new starts.” I wanted to share the idea that a new start can feel very orderly but can actually become something that takes us right out…

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