Wednesday, July 07, 2010

New Paltz, land of surprising attitudes

I don't want this to come off as a critical post, because the person I'm referencing here is one of the most decent individuals around town.

Here's the basics of the exchange at one of the outside tables at The Bakery in New Paltz:

"You still homeschool?"

"Yes," he said.

"Then I have something you should check out. It's this internet site that..."

"Why would I want my kid on the internet?"

Now that either implies a very high prudential judgment (the internet is "a vast wasteland") or someone who thinks that the internet equals pornography. One does not, for instance, look behind the door unless one has stood there oneself, perhaps.

But the internet is not a vast wasteland and there's no reason to believe it equals pornography. With that out of the way, this is what I was trying to get across to this fine person about homeschooling:
The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere.
This is about the real beginning of a real revolution in education on the internet. My message is do not ignore it. The Khan Academy is right here. It's free. Salman Khan isn't charging you anything. He's an M.I.T. graduate who gave up a lucrative career and is on a mission to teach the way he wished he had been taught.

This is a solution to education that many homeschooling parents in New Paltz, and parents who have thought about homeschooling, have been looking for. This is good. It is good.

Monday, July 05, 2010

New Paltz makes a stirring cameo appearance in 'Corpse in Armor'

Both New Paltz the small town and SUNY New Paltz make important cameo appearances in my book Corpse in Armor, the counterterrorism thriller.

It's actually more than mere cameo appearances, as several breathtaking scenes go down in New Paltz. Some local friends who have read 'Corpse' have noted how they had a good laugh at the way town and campus are portrayed.

You can get a copy of Corpse in Armor here, from Amazon. But don't go looking for the New Paltz scenes (which would require a couple weeks of on location shooting if the book is made into a movie). Start from the beginning and read it straight through. You won't be able to put it down, anyway.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Summer Reading

Look, I’m going to recommend one book and one book only for your summer reading, and it’s my book.

Corpse in Armor is the title and you can get it here from Amazon.

It is a counterterrorism thriller. It eerily predicted the Russian spy ring that has just been caught, right down to one of the spies being the daughter of a former high-ranking KGB officer. I don’t want to give too much away, but it goes way beyond that revelation.

I need to sell a whole hell of a lot of copies of this book and I need to sell them now. So if you’ve hesitated to get a copy, by all means stop hesitating.

And I need your word-of-mouth help, too. The sales so far have been linear. The book is getting around, but slowly. If you have read it and have really liked it, then please tell people about it.

I don’t know if it’s a “you’ve got to read this book” kind of book. That’s for every reader to decide. But if it hits with that sort of impact, then please let your friends and neighbors know.

To my friends who have lent a hand so far, I can’t thank you all enough. This novel, which I’ve tried to make an accessible and compelling reading experience, something hard to put down, creates a parallel fictional world that shifts the reader’s perspective to allow fresh light on the question of what terrorism is, what America is, and where the forces at play come from.

In fact, in the most timely sense, it answers the question “What happened to the KGB?” That’s right in the headlines this week.

It also answers the question, “What is the connection between the far Left and Islamic terrorism?”

And it describes the highest-priority dangers that we face, and shows the spirit of America in the face of those dangers.

I need to get it from a linear sales situation to a geometric sales situation. And that can only really happen via word of mouth.

Help me get it around.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nah, could never happen in New York and certainly never in New Paltz

The Beholden State: How public-sector unions broke California:
The unions’ political triumphs have molded a California in which government workers thrive at the expense of a struggling private sector. The state’s public school teachers are the highest-paid in the nation. Its prison guards can easily earn six-figure salaries. State workers routinely retire at 55 with pensions higher than their base pay for most of their working life. Meanwhile, what was once the most prosperous state now suffers from an unemployment rate far steeper than the nation’s and a flood of firms and jobs escaping high taxes and stifling regulations. This toxic combination—high public-sector employee costs and sagging economic fortunes—has produced recurring budget crises in Sacramento and in virtually every municipality in the state.

Hit the link because you do not want to miss the political cartoon by Sean Delonas just a paragraph down in the story.

The one man revolution in education

This is the best, most brilliant, straightforward attempt I've seen to use the internet to educate.

The Khan Academy.

As far as I know, there is nothing like it.

And at its heart is an elegant simplicity. Note also the absence of educrat jargon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"The American Golfer"

That's the title of New Paltz writer Anthony Robinson's new novel.

It will be out through Amazon in about ten days. But it can be ordered now directly from the publisher.

I've ordered my copy.

And here's the novel's facebook page.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Are journalists generally smart enough to cover the news?

My answer is "No, not by a long shot."

There are some great ones, but most seem not to know enough to put the simplest stories together without using more ideological glue than facts. And even in the relative absence of ideology, there is often a lack of basic rigor in handling the facts.

For instance, I don't think that I've ever seen a single good news article in any of the local papers on something as important as school budgets. There's no digging, so there's no perspective and no context. It's all just "he said, she said."

But to be honest, it's not just the local papers. The New York Times has become about as objective as The Daily Worker. It's crap, up to and including its Pulitzer Prize winners.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Uh oh, New Paltz School District hires another consultant

I love the consultant thing. It's the CYA dream come true. But it's the bureaucratic newspeak that announces the hiring that really caught my attention:
“What they have proposed that they will be doing is to complete the state Education Department’s building survey and five-year plan,” she said. “But we asked them to do a more in-depth study so that we have a serious needs assessment of all of our facilities, fields, the whole footprint of the school district. We also asked them to engage the community and every stakeholder group in order to have a clear understanding of the vision, expectations and hopes in regards to facilities use and the culture of the community.”
In-depth studies, serious needs assessments, whole footprints, engaging the community, engaging every stakeholder group, the vision, the expectations, the hopes, the culture of the community.

And, of course, there is nothing like the phrase "five-year plan." I think of Stalin chewing on his pencil, adding a collective farm here, deleting a kulak there.

I hear the engine of another Rolls Royce turning over in the parking lot. The starting point, classically, is the State Education Department. That's like watching the shells being loaded into the shotgun. "But we asked them to do...more" is the new platinum calculator being lifted out of its box. And the "stakeholder groups," well, they never tire of spending other people's money.

This is going to be drinks, dinner, the opera, limo, more drinks, after hours club -- just my modest guess that it will be a $30 million night on the town.

They never give up. Ever. Never ever.

With the usual apologies to the metaphor police.