Category: Education

Book # 21 in 2018: “Making Sense” by David Crystal

Posted June 19th, 2018
Book # 21 in 2018: “Making Sense” by David Crystal

Books that explore language, grammar and writing are my guilty pleasure. I consider the injunctions presented as I am absorbed by the text, trying to figure out if the writers are following their own instructions. I also hope that I will learning something from them I can use in my own efforts. It has also…

Books # 16 & 17 in 2018: Memoirs by Daughters Who Survived—Tara Westover and Jeanette Walls

Posted May 10th, 2018
Books # 16 & 17 in 2018: Memoirs by Daughters Who Survived—Tara Westover and Jeanette Walls

Violence, incest, abuse of every stripe: such horrors fill both narratives by these relatively young writers. In the words too are moving reflections on salvation: the selfless love and sacrifice of siblings, the insight and enduring patience of peers and educators; serendipity and luck. Then there is hope, the force that did not escape Pandora’s…

Book #8 in 2018: “Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve” by Ben Blatt

Posted February 26th, 2018
Book #8 in 2018: “Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve” by Ben Blatt

May I have a moment to whinge before I applaud? This book is about good writing and the writer demonstrates two bad habits that happen to drive me mad. Blatt splits infinitives and he seems not to grasp the difference between “fewer” and “less.” Now I know that it is fine to boldly go wherever one…

Book #5 in 2018: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

Posted February 4th, 2018
Book #5 in 2018: A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

My sister used to drive me crazy—well she still does in many ways—for her interactions with her daughters. One of the worst things was her flat assertion about her younger daughter’s problems with math. “She can’t do math,” Sister said. “She get’s it from me.” Then a few years ago we were at lunch with…

Book #3 in 2018: “How To Bake π” by Eugenia Cheng

Posted January 14th, 2018
Book #3 in 2018: “How To Bake π” by Eugenia Cheng

How To Bake π: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics, by Eugenia Cheng. (Basic Books, 2015) is a disappointment. Cheng is, I am sure, a fine mathematician and probably an excellent teacher, but she needs help writing, especially the help of a copyeditor. The jacket cover features lavish praise from five professors of…

DISCARDED

Posted July 2nd, 2017
DISCARDED

In the course of making some point or other, I asked the high-school age students in my summer workshop what their favorite books were. Any book, I said, it could even be a picture book you read with your parents. Not one of the eight mentioned a book. Finally, a lad allowed as how a…

The Naples Jaunt 4: Mining and Minding the Past     

Posted March 5th, 2017
The Naples Jaunt 4: Mining and Minding the Past     

Ruins. Antiquities. The bones of the dead. Italy is a place where one culture layers on another, razing, reusing, raising new structures for new orders. Italy has commoditized her archaeological past since long before she was unified as a nation in 1860. Romans collected and copied works of Greek art. Greek, Roman, Egyptian relics were…

Listen and Follow Directions

Posted March 13th, 2016
Listen and Follow Directions

The most common comment on any report card I received in elementary school was, “Ellen would do well if she would just learn to follow directions.” Teachers stopped saying that as I got older but only because the grading system was about the mark and not about any insight into my approach to learning and…

The Mouth That Would Be President, Take 2

Posted March 7th, 2016
The Mouth That Would Be President, Take 2

It was August 13, 2015, exactly six months and twenty-one days ago as I write this, that I published my anxiety about the campaign of Donald J. Trump for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America. I was told not to worry, that he was a farce, that his campaign would…

La Jolla 3: Why can’t the writers…learn…to…think?

Posted January 27th, 2016
La Jolla 3: Why can’t the writers…learn…to…think?

Professor Henry Higgins—or the voice of Rex Harrison—is stuck in my brain. It is not so much that I lament English ill-organized and -enunciated in ordinary communications. It is more a matter of abuse heaped on words and syntax by whoever is writing those damned labels for modern art. This is not a new whine…