links for 2009-06-04

  • "While visiting schools in a variety of districts, I began to notice something that puzzled me. Some of these schools, particularly those with large numbers of poor and minority children, are working against daunting â some would say unreasonable â expectations for improvement in test scores. In more affluent schools, those pressures are much less evident. Yet the kinds of instructional problems that surface in both types of schools are strikingly similar."
  • "Four writers who have never before read Infinite Jest will do so for the duration of Infinite Summer. And each will be posting here weekly, not only to report on their thoughts and progress, but also to promote and facilitate discussion. "
  • "Letâs put aside the fact that maybe it isnât a virtue for the âleader of the free worldâ to have lots of spare time to read two books a week, and also take Karl Rove at his word (ha ha) that Bush actually read that amount of books.

    Reading isnât a horse race â itâs not just about how fast you read a book, itâs about how well you understand and retain the information youâve read. "

  • "How much did a condom cost in 1944? What did the package look like? Where could one be bought? Were there machines in the toilets (we called them toilets) of bars, as there were in the late 1950s? I was writing a novel about the U.S. home front in World War II (Four Freedoms, just out), and I needed to know. Why not just skip the detail, and say, "He bought a condom" or "He produced a condom"? Because the small details of common life give actuality, aliveness, and thickness to a historical story in the same way they do to a present-day story. The difference is you have to go find the details of the past; you can't just draw on experience. "
  • Ex-particle physicists make the worst biologists.
  • "When President James F. Barker took over the South Carolina institution in 2001, he vowed in his initial interview to move Clemson into the top 20 (a distinction that many research universities covet, but few can achieve, given that most of those already in the top 20 aren't eager to relinquish their spots). Although many people on the campus were skeptical, Clemson has pursued the goal almost single-mindedly, seeking to "affect -- I'm hesitating to use the word 'manipulate,' " Watt said -- "every possible indicator to the greatest extent possible." She added: "It is the thing around which almost everything revolves for the presidentâs office.""

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