7 April 2018 | 6:48 pm

This should still be a good place to record ideas. Sometimes when I'm looking for something I remember writing, I run across other things I've forgotten about but still enjoy.

I've been watching and enjoying Finding Forrester. I like Sean Connery. And I like stories about smart, decent people. And I like stories wherein the smart decent people win.
A unique relationship develops between an eccentric, reclusive novelist and a young, amazingly gifted scholar-athlete. After the novelist discovers that the young athlete is also an excellent writer and secretly takes him on as his protégé, they develop an unlikely friendship.
That blurb omits several important details. The "reclusive novelist" is an alum of the exclusive prep school that Jamal, the young "scholar-athlete" is attending. And, as the name suggests, Jamal is black.

Trading Bubbles
7 March 2017 | 1:44 pm

I remember when Facebook was all about friends and games. Not that long ago, really. My wall in early 2010 was all about Farmville 'til March when I learned how to post pictures. Then while friends were posting pictures of their meals and their grandchildren, I was posting pictures of garden flowers. 

Somewhere along the way, the newsfeed started including "sponsored content," then clickbait. Now apparently it's all about Big Data. Facebook's Algorithm vs. Democracy. Facebook's model seems to be to cram down your throat more and more of what you seem to like. 

The Guardian experimentally created stereotypically liberal and conservative Facebook newsfeeds and asked ten people (five liberals and five conservatives) to use the feed opposite to their own perspective during the month leading up to the 2016 election. The article describing the experiment appeared on November 16, 2016. I was interested in how they characterized liberal and conservative.
We created two Facebook accounts from scratch. “Rusty Smith”, our right-wing avatar, liked a variety of conservative news sources, organizations, and personalities, from the Wall Street Journal and The Hoover Institution to Breitbart News and Bill O’Reilly. “Natasha Smith”, our left-wing persona, preferred The New York Times, Mother Jones, Democracy Now and Think Progress. Rusty liked Tim Tebow and the NRA. Natasha liked Colin Kaepernick and 350.org.
Okay. I read NYT daily and Mother Jones occasionally. Not Democracy Now or Think Progress. Their coverage is hopelessly limited to Trump politics. 350.org is too much preaching to the choir and not enough science. I had to Google Colin Kaepernick but I see how that could suggest a liberal leaning. Let me add that I watch or read lots of C-SPAN, PBS and (gulp) Scientific American.

But the conservative sites... Wall Street Journal is okay. Breitbart and Bill O'Reilly, nope. Hoover Institution was new to me, clearly conservative but interesting. I heard William Kristol on C-SPAN this morning, so I added The Weekly Standard to the conservative list.

So, I guess what Facebook doesn't seem to know about me is that I care more about diversity and good writing that progressive vs. conservative.

I Am From
5 January 2017 | 8:18 pm

A few days ago The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC included an interview with Steve Zeitlin, executive director of City Lore and author of The Poetry of Everyday Life: Storytelling and the Art of Awareness. He talked about a writing exercise he uses in the Cooper's Union writing class he teaches.

Zeitlin's use of the exercise was inspired by George Ella Lyon's poem, Where I'm From. The idea has been used so much that Googling "I am from" yields many lovely poems and nearly as many templates and lesson plans to guide student writers.

I've been writing a poem. I think this is an exercise that could be done every day with different results.


I am from the mountains. And the woods.
Solitude, silence and song.
Secrecy and stubbornness.
Ideas and imagination.
I am from the piano
and the sweet, fragrant  Weigelia in June.
I am from pine pitch
And the dirt road with the wooden bridge over the brook.



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