Thinking Fast and Slow

  In Science I teach that Earth has been around for a long time, and in Ancient Civilizations I teach that humanity has been around for a long time. Monday I’m taking the latter class out to the football field to recreate this video, that they might see which has existed longer:     Well, […]

Kick in the Head

  The most embarrassing failure in U.S. Soccer history was consummated on Tuesday night in a near-empty stadium in the Caribbean tropics, culminating in a soul-crushing 2-1 defeat to a last-place opponent in which the U.S. men’s national team had only needed a win or a tie to qualify for World Cup 2018. – Sports […]

Ill Communication

  I get ill all the time, but no one wants to hear about that. – Paul Theroux   I was in Dick’s Sporting Goods recently and found myself laughing in the aisle. Twin 2, who has begun to suspect her father is unusual, asked what was so funny. “They’re playing a silly song,” I […]

School Daze

    That penultimate sentence is my new favorite. I had just spent five years in graduate school, a statement that may mean nothing to people who never served such a stretch; it is the explanation, nonetheless. I’m not sure I can give you the remotest idea of what graduate school is like. Nobody ever […]

Académie Française

  Effective teachers motivate their students not only to learn, but to want to learn. A best practice comes from language instruction in the French Foreign Legion. Here’s how one platoon commander encourages his recruits: “You will learn French fast because I am not your mother.” And then how do you create a culture of […]

The National Anthem

  1. Who’s on First? Last week it was fractions, and I spent some time trying to explain how “equivalent” differs in meaning from “equal.” We used currencies and first names as examples. Then we got into national anthems. I’ll spare you the transcript, but there were several iterations of: Mr. Sipe: Yes, but what’s […]

New York City Cops

  I lived in New York City for six years, three of them in Manhattan, not too far from the Police Academy. You’d see cadets wait at nearby intersections for the walk signal. Apparently they have to do that. I remember thinking if anything in that town could be considered authentically bizarre behavior, it’d be waiting dutifully to […]


  I’m reading the second volume of The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, a graphic novel trilogy by Riad Sattouf. The first one, which is excellent, is out in English; I’m muddling through the second, which is excellent, under the power of my four-cylinder French. These frames are uncanny in their depiction of a typical day […]