Friday, May 3, 2024

may
Photo by Rahul Pandit on Unsplash

Greetings Starfighters,

The enemy is at the gates, things have fallen apart. The center does not hold…

Yes, I’m being dramatic. The climax of Derby Week is here in Kentucky with the running of the Kentucky Oaks today and the 150th Kentucky Derby tomorrow. I’ll avoid downtown Louisville this weekend at all costs to leave the visitors to their frivolities and watch as they leave behind the memories of too many mint juleps and not enough gambling wins to make the journey worthwhile.

Also, I have some guidelines on how to prepare the best mint julep for your Derby parties. Pour a shot of bourbon, neat or on ice, however you prefer. Take all the other julep ingredients and throw them in the trash. Enjoy your bourbon.

Seriously. Mint juleps are gross. And I like mint.

I’m more focused on Star Wars Day and Free Comic Book Day. The universe conspired to have both events fall on the same day as the Derby, leaving alternative entertainment plans and celebrations for those not so enamored with seeing horses who’ve had too many beatings carry jockeys around an oval for two minutes, running so hard that they nearly die. Of course, if they get injured while running, the likelihood they will die increases. Sometimes, they euthanize the horse right on the track.

We’re going to catch The Phantom Menace in the theater today, and I’m taking my kiddo to our local comic shop on Saturday to grab a free comic (and pick up a copy of Space Ghost #1 if they have any left!).

But, I’ll still sit down for a few minutes, catch the Louisville Cardinal Marching Band play “My Old Kentucky Home” before the Derby, and sing along with a tear in my eye. As much as I don’t care for the Derby, there are some traditions I’ll happily participate in this weekend.

Quote of the Day

"Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as “good” and other sorts as “bad,” is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with." (Stephen King, On Writing)

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as “good” and other sorts as “bad,” is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with.” (Stephen King, On Writing)

The core of what our dark leader, Stephen King, is getting at here is to become good at writing—or anything, really—you have to get past your own doubts and fears and just do it. Nothing gets done until something is done, and nothing changes until something changes.

To put it in scientific terms, “an object at rest tends to stay at rest, an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force.

The outside force is you, or maybe your will. Regardless, until you do something, your fears will always win. They’re not going to go away (it’d be nice, but they won’t), so you may as well make peace with them and let them know who’s really in charge.

Musical Interlude

I love Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Love it. There’s something about the layers of rolling chords, the dynamic range from almost a whisper to a swelling roar. For me, it’s a perfect piece of music and sounds equally brilliant whether a master pianist delivers a solo or the full orchestra carries the musical load. Here’s a great interpretation (with great acoustics) to brighten your day.

Long Read of the Day

If you’ve ever wondered exactly why your favorite (or least favorite) celebrity gets to write a book, there’s a reason. The publishing industry mainly focuses on celebrity books and repeat bestsellers to make money. Most books sell very few copies, with only a small percentage achieving high sales numbers. Big advances for books don’t guarantee high sales, and backlist books contribute significantly to publishers’ revenues.

Elle Griffin explores the events of the failed Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster merger detailed in the book The Trial and reveals some of the nasty bits about the publishing industry.

Video of the Day

I’m double-dipping here with another music video—god, why did MTV ever stop playing them—but this is excellent and I’m going to force all of you to appreciate classical music before I’m done (Mayhap not, but I’m still gonna try.)

Evan Goldfine has an excellent newsletter on listening to Bach, and yesterday, he released a “beginner’s guide” that provides several entry points for your Bach journey. Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile are personal favorites, so seeing them mentioned along with bassist Edgar Meyer was a treat. Here they are playing a rendition of Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major from their 2017 ‘Bach Trios’ release.

Final Thoughts

Enjoy the weekend, gang. Make time for coffee, reading, and maybe some pizza. And spend time with those you love because they’re all we’ve got when it all ends. The rest is just bonus points.



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

woman riding a bicycle

Greetings Starfighters,

I’m sorting through my feelings about kids, social media, smartphones in schools, and dopamine. There’s quite a growing roar online about the time kids spend on social media and the number of notifications they get during the school day. Of course, leading the charge is Jonathan Haidt, who wants you to take away your kid’s phone.

I haven’t read his book yet and likely won’t for some time, but if we’re worried about notifications on phones (you can turn them off, and we can teach kids, and ourselves, responsible usage) and how much time kids are spending on social media and phones, we have more work to do than to take the phones away.

Bans don’t work, and the kids just model what they see adults doing. Also, I remember a time when the old folks said that kids shouldn’t spend all their time playing video games (also getting dopamine hits) or watching TV, and there’s an awful lot of us that turned out just fine.

Quote of the Day

reality is broken quote

“The research proves what gamers already know: within the limits of our own endurance, we would rather work hard than be entertained.” (Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken)

Musical Interlude

Yo-Yo Ma has traveled to several national parks, performing in beautiful environments. He performed inside Mammoth Cave last year (I’m still bummed I didn’t get to see the concert), and on Earth Day 2024, he performed in Alaska.

Long Read of the Day

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the pivotal “A Nation At Risk” report, an event that shaped educational discourse in the United States for decades. In a thought-provoking partnership, The 74 has joined forces with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution to launch the “A Nation At Risk +40” research initiative. This collaborative project delves into the wide-ranging impacts of forty years of educational reforms through a series of expert analyses, offering a critical look at how far we have come and the areas where we falter.

Despite the urgent tone of the original 1983 report, which revolutionized educational standards and accountability, it notably omitted discussions on the crucial aspects of funding and budgeting. Here is a chapter from the new research on school finance and education funding priorities.

Final Thoughts

It’s Derby Week here in Kentucky, and I can’t help but wonder what state our public schools would be in if our state leaders were as concerned with education as they are with a horse race.



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!