December 2008 Archives

I’ve finally found the time to read Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker essay on predicting success in quarterbacks and teachers. He follows football talent spotter Dan Shonka as he scouts college athletes for professional football teams. Shonka admits that it’s something of a crapshoot: This is the quarterback problem. There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they’ll do once they’re hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that? In recent years, a number of fields have begun to wrestle with this ...

Sometimes the right thing happens for all the wrong reasons. This may be the last Christmas that little girls get Bratz dolls from Santa. Judge Steven Larson has ruled that Bratz dolls must be removed from the market. If you have problems with Barbie, you haven’t seen anything yet. Statuesque Barbie, in the style of a 1950’s fashion illustration, has measurements that would make a Miss Universe contestant weep, is more than 50% leg, and has a tiny little pinhead. Back in the day, feminists worried that she would give our daughters an unrealistic body image. Unrealistic body ...

During this annual season of teacher mugs and homemade fudge, I got and gave my possibly best Christmas teacher present ever. A couple of Sunday evenings ago I was busy multi-tasking (cooking supper and grading papers) when the phone rang. Mine was probably a less than completely gracious “Hello?” “Is this my little Susie?” said the voice on the other end of the line. I may be 58 years old, but I recognized that voice immediately. It was Mrs. Burnett, my sixth grade teacher. It has been four decades since I graduated from John Tyler High School. We formed a ...


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