Macroeducation http://www.macroeducation.org Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:52:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 The End of Night http://www.macroeducation.org/the-end-of-night/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-end-of-night http://www.macroeducation.org/the-end-of-night/#respond Mon, 22 Dec 2014 04:04:08 +0000 http://www.macroeducation.org/?p=1185 The End of Night from Hachette Book Group.

Paul Bogard’s The End of Night is one of those genre-bending books that nearly defies categorization. While Amazon places it in the Science & Math category, it . . . → Read More: The End of Night]]> Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

A book about much more than just light pollution.
The End of Night - Book Cover

The End of Night from Hachette Book Group.

Paul Bogard’s The End of Night is one of those genre-bending books that nearly defies categorization. While Amazon places it in the Science & Math category, it could be found in an astronomy, nature, ecology, culture or even a travel memoirs section at a bookstore. The book tells the story of the author’s travels around the globe in search of truly dark sky. He’s looking for the kind of sky you remember from that camping trip as a kid, or from that trip to a small island when the sky was so clear you could see the swirl of the Milky Way. The author wonders what our increasingly fading view of the night is doing to us.

The book’s structure is unique in that it follows the 9-to-1 Bortle scale of measuring dark skies. The first chapter of the book is numbered 9 (for the brightest spot on Earth – a bright city such as Las Vegas) and the final chapter is numbered 1 (for a truly dark sky in some remote location far removed from city lights). The book is about much more than just the state of the night sky. While he does interview a few professional and amateur astronomers, this is not really an astronomy book at all.

Along his travels, the author meets a wide range of people who explain how our dependence on light has completely warped our way of doing things. From custodians who work the night shift to doctors who study cancer, Bogard meets all kinds of people and travels down a number of avenues you would not expect. He joins a lamplighter in Paris, a lighting designer from Algeria and a ranger who gives full moon hike tours in Bryce Canyon National Park. The author’s voice is humble and easy to follow, weaving an enjoyable path through the story of light and what it means to experience darkness. The book is both a work of literature and a book of information. At times it invokes the beauty and wonder of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, while at others it will explain which wavelength of light best slows the release of melatonin in our bodies. And if nothing else, it will make you question why those parking lots on the side of the freeway have giant flood lights on all night long.

The only complaint I’d have about this wonderful book is that once you read it, you can’t stop seeing instances of useless and wasteful light all over the place.

The End of Night currently has 4.5 stars on Amazon based on 61 Reviews.

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Chris Hadfield at the Orpheum in Vancouver http://www.macroeducation.org/chris-hadfield-orpheum-vancouver/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chris-hadfield-orpheum-vancouver http://www.macroeducation.org/chris-hadfield-orpheum-vancouver/#respond Wed, 05 Mar 2014 07:36:35 +0000 http://www.macroeducation.org/?p=1170 Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was in Vancouver tonight at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre to sing, talk, and share stories, pictures and videos of his early life, his successful launches into space and his missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He looked extremely natural and genuine on the stage, and answered questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. . . . → Read More: Chris Hadfield at the Orpheum in Vancouver]]> 480px-Chris_Hadfield_2011Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was in Vancouver tonight at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre to sing, talk, and share stories, pictures and videos of his early life, his successful launches into space and his missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He looked extremely natural and genuine on the stage, and answered questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. He had a number of great quotes ranging from the profound to the inspirational, sprinkled with his signature dash of humour and humility. Hopefully I haven’t butchered his words too badly here, in this short collection of some of his most memorable words:

On inspiration for children, after showing a photo of his childhood in which he was sitting in a Quaker Oats box:

“Give your child a box. Give them more than just times tables. Give them a dream. Give them something to dream about that’s beyond impossible. Give them inspiration.” 

On the Great Lakes, as seen from space:

“When you see them (from the ISS) in their real perspective, they’re shallow and small. To see the world in proper perspective is at the soul of the International Space Station.”

On our precarious place on Earth, and how we treat it:

“We live on a little thin skin, like the cold skin on the top of a pot of porridge, with the Earth’s molten center below us, and the poisonous vastness of space above us. We’re in a tiny bubble between space and earth, and we still treat our surroundings the way we do. We’re the most arrogant goldfish in the universe.”

On a young girl who is transfixed and inspired by a video from the ISS:

“What opportunities does she see in her life?”

An-Astronauts-Guide-to-Life-on-Earth book coverWhat does the next sixty to seventy years of space science have to offer us? If seeing Hadfield in the ISS is her “man on the moon moment” what will that girl’s grandchildren see in the next half century of space exploration?

Here’s to Chris Hadfield and the next generation of young people who have been inspired by his words, photos, videos, and positive attitude. On that note, I had to respect the fact that not once did Col. Hadfield pitch his book (An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth) to his audience, so here I am pitching it for him. I seriously think we need a few more kids, adults, and policy makers alike to read it, heed his words, and get interested in what science can do for us. If nothing else, appreciating the vastness of space and the fragility of Earth gives us a crucial sense of perspective, and that never hurt anybody.

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An ode to Pulp Fiction Books, and used book stores in general http://www.macroeducation.org/ode-pulp-fiction-books-book-stores-general/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ode-pulp-fiction-books-book-stores-general http://www.macroeducation.org/ode-pulp-fiction-books-book-stores-general/#respond Sun, 23 Feb 2014 18:35:33 +0000 http://www.macroeducation.org/?p=1152  

One thing I’ve always loved about Pulp Fiction Books on Main Street is the two sets of shelves that flank the front door. Each cubby hole houses two books — one facing the window, the other turned to the store. The selection of books on display seems to change pretty frequently, and often lures . . . → Read More: An ode to Pulp Fiction Books, and used book stores in general]]>  

pulp fiction windowOne thing I’ve always loved about Pulp Fiction Books on Main Street is the two sets of shelves that flank the front door. Each cubby hole houses two books — one facing the window, the other turned to the store. The selection of books on display seems to change pretty frequently, and often lures me in for a browse.

Pulp Fiction is well organized, with diverse offerings of both new and used books. There’s a sense of regular turnover in the used book shelves, and an attention to quality that only allows for a certain caliber of book in a specific range of genres to be placed upon the shelves. The “Books We Never Take” section on their website might come across as elitist, but hey, the store’s on the smaller side and shelf space is limited. I am thankful they are picky about what they put on their shelves, and thankful for the people of the neighborhood who contribute to the used book selection. After all, a used bookstore is only as good as what its customers read, isn’t it?

If you can’t find what you want on the shelves, the friendly staff at Pulp Fiction will also order books for you, with prices that are usually better than or at least the same as what you’d find on amazon.ca. They’ve even found me books that Amazon doesn’t have in stock, or are out of print. And who would you rather support? — a  local, independent bookstore or a Seattle-based megacompany that sells everything under the sun, including Kindles, groceries, and even web space. If you’re living in or visiting Vancouver, love books, and haven’t been to Pulp Fiction yet, what are you waiting for? There are now three locations, so go take a look. Pulp Fiction Books, like any great used book store, is easy to get lost in  and who knows what you might find in the shelves?

Speaking of bookshelves, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile has recently been added to mine. (Yes, that’s a link to… Amazon — they’re great curators!) Nassim Taleb, the essayist, statistician, and former-trader-turned-philosopher (of Black Swan fame), convincingly argues on multiple occasions that books are not going anywhere anytime soon. Because the technology of the book is so robust, the experience of reading a five-hundred-year-old copy is not much different from reading a modern one. In many walks of life, things have not changed as much as we think they have, and Taleb writes that he “would expect the future to be populated with wall-to-wall bookshelves”. Great used book stores like Pulp Fiction, Powell’s (Portland), and Elliot Bay Book Company (Seattle) are still going strong, providing us with a medium for serendipitous discoveries (an experience their digital counterparts have yet to replicate) and continuously standing testament to the longevity of the printed book.

 

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Calvin and Hobbes at school http://www.macroeducation.org/calvin-hobbes-school/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=calvin-hobbes-school http://www.macroeducation.org/calvin-hobbes-school/#respond Sun, 09 Feb 2014 22:19:34 +0000 http://www.macroeducation.org/?p=1139 A collection of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips to use in the classroom

Calvin has never enjoyed much about school: the bullying, the homework, and perhaps his least favourite of all, the tests. He certainly is creative though, and comes up with some gems for answers.

 

And speaking of trick questions, perhaps . . . → Read More: Calvin and Hobbes at school]]> A collection of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips to use in the classroom

Calvin has never enjoyed much about school: the bullying, the homework, and perhaps his least favourite of all, the tests. He certainly is creative though, and comes up with some gems for answers.

 

And speaking of trick questions, perhaps he relies on Susie Derkins just a little bit too much:


On the uselessness of memorizing dates:

 

On the ever-quoted buzzphrase, 21st century learning:

(Calvin was clearly ahead of his time.)

 

You have to appreciate Calvin’s honesty. How many of us (teachers and students alike) can identify with this?

Calvin and Math

Like many students, Calvin has never been confident with numbers. He’s often forced to ask Susie Derkins for answers in class, and makes full use of his surprisingly math-literate tiger, Hobbes, for homework help. I’ve shown some of these C & H strips before a lesson as a way to try to illustrate the somewhat arbitrary nature of mathematics.

Be careful with this one. Some students can really run with the math atheist idea:

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I think Hobbes is on to something. Vector addition perhaps? A+ for effort and ingenuity, that’s for sure!

And lastly, who knew that tigers had developed the ability to understand and work with imaginary numbers?

 

If you liked these strips, you’d definitely like The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. It is perhaps the best place to start reading Calvin and Hobbes, as author Bill Watterson offers anecdotal tidbits throughout the book, explaining the origins of characters, story lines, and in some cases, the political or philosophical messages he was trying to convey. I posted a review of the book yesterday. And then if you’re really serious about Calvin and Hobbes, you could check out The Complete Calvin and Hobbes Box Set as well. Thanks for reading!

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The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book – Review http://www.macroeducation.org/calvin-hobbes-tenth-anniversary-book-review/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=calvin-hobbes-tenth-anniversary-book-review http://www.macroeducation.org/calvin-hobbes-tenth-anniversary-book-review/#respond Sat, 08 Feb 2014 07:36:30 +0000 http://www.macroeducation.org/?p=1119 Recently I was asked by someone what book I would bring with me if I was going to be stuck on an island for eternity. I thought about it for a long while before deciding on The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. I had toyed with the . . . → Read More: The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book – Review]]> The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

Recently I was asked by someone what book I would bring with me if I was going to be stuck on an island for eternity. I thought about it for a long while before deciding on The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. I had toyed with the idea of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything (the Illustrated Edition, of course!), Carl Sagan’s Cosmos or perhaps a big 900 page novel, like Shantaram.

Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary BookBut I thought about the book that I’d gotten the most replay value out of, and was drawn back to Calvin and Hobbes. The comic strips starring the overly articulate 6 year-old Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes offered more than your typical Sunday morning strip. Reading Calvin and Hobbes as an adult is so much different than it was as an elementary school student, and it’s quite amazing that author Bill Waterson was able to write to both 7 year-olds and adults alike. He accomplished for Sunday morning comics what Pixar would later do in the movie industry. As I’ve aged, I’ve re-read many of the Calvin and Hobbes treasuries and find myself amazed at the messages and jokes Waterson packs into his three panel strips. This is not your ordinary 6 year-old boy, and this is not just any old stuffed tiger. These characters have depth, and the range of their conversations and antics knows no bounds. The dialgoues between Calvin and Hobbes often delve into the philosophical, and offer us a Fight Club-esque glimpse into the world of a child with an incredibly brilliant and active imagination.

The Tenth Anniversary book is a particularly good one to read, as it offers retrospective descriptions of various characters, stories, and particular strips. Short offerings from Watterson peppered throughout the book explain where his characters came from, the writing process, the troubles he had with newspapers, his thoughts on advertising, comic books as high art, and much, much more. If you have never read Calvin and Hobbes, this is a good a place as any to start. I can’t recommend this book enough.

And seeing as I’m writing this on macroeducation.org, here is one of my favourite strips from Calvin about school. (There are more here.)

In university teacher education, at professional development seminars, in staff meetings, on Twitter, and in the media, we can’t seem to escape the buzzphrase 21st century learning. Here’s Calvin demanding opportunity in the classroom:

(Calvin was clearly ahead of his time.)

 

Now seriously, go buy this book. You will read it, your kids will read it, and then you’ll both want to read it again and eventually, you’ll end up buying The Complete Calvin and Hobbes Box Set as well. This was Fight Club for kids, ten years before before Pahalniuk; it had the mixture of adult and child humor of Toy Story long before Pixar; it is a timeless classic that deserves to be read again and again.

And for you teachers, students, and parents wondering…”What does this have to do with education?”

Calvin spends a good part of his day at school, and there are many education-themed comics to use in the classroom. A collection of some of them can be found here: Calvin at school.

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