The Silence of LA

Don’t be afraid

by baldilocks

When it’s over, it will be great.

I will miss the quietness, however.

My residential street runs parallel to a nearby busy boulevard and it makes a great short-cut to avoid heavy traffic

But there are no speedbumps on my street and, as a result, drivers fly down it on their way to and from work. There are lots of near misses, if the amount of horn-honking is any indication.  And I’m not a little surprised that there hasn’t been any trading of lead-encased propellants in the five years that I’ve lived here. This is Los Angeles, after all.

However, other than the speeders, my very racially integrated neighborhood is quite peaceful and the near shutdown of the city due to COVID-19 has given it surrealism. It’s almost like living in the country.

No one is in a rush to go to work because so few are even allowed to go. The schools and colleges are shut down.

It’s certain, however, that much work and education is being conducted via digital means and when the shutdown ends, it will be interesting to see how these things will be transformed by the revelation that more stuff gets done when employees and students stay home.

Back to my nearly traffic-free street: I mentioned on Twitter that I had prayed for a long time that drivers would stop speeding down my street and in the last few days it has happened! Of course, I didn’t pray that it would come from a citywide quarantine, but I do know that God is a multitasker. Also, it is far from the first time that He has answered a prayer of mine in a way that I didn’t expect.

The moral of the story is obvious: be careful what you pray for.

However, I will continue to pray for the physical, financial, and spiritual healing of our country. And I’ll wager that it will shock the world in how it comes to pass.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Higher ed: Not ready for prime time

By Christopher Harper

As most colleges and universities cancel in-person classes, many of these institutions are woefully unprepared to teach students online.

When a started teaching online in 2005, I had more than two months of training, and I still had questions. In the current transition, teachers are being asked to get ready, without significant help, in a week or less.

I’ve watched some of the training videos from my university and from national organizations, which are utter torture from bad audio to inane content.

I wanted to learn how to teach online. Many professors professors consider the teaching method as inferior. One colleague sent around a post that tried to convince people to fail in the changeover to online classes because it would give the administration more leverage to force people to do it in the future.

Since I have taught online courses for many years, I have often told my colleagues that the data don’t back up the contention that in-person classes are better.

The real problem is ego. Many professors have a captive audience classroom environment as the master or mistress of the universe, doling out precious bits of knowledge to the students.

It’s not surprising that a survey by Inside Higher Ed found that many professors think online classes do not meet the requirements for a successful learning experience.

Forty-four percent of those surveyed said they taught a course better than anyone else could do so online. Thirty-eight percent said it was possible that both experiences could be equal. Eighteen percent had no opinion.

The survey also found that the more prestigious the school, the greater the ego from its professors.

“The ratios change significantly by subgroup of faculty members. Community college instructors, for instance, are more likely to agree than disagree that online learning can achieve equivalent outcomes in the classes they teach by a 53 to 31 percent margin, while the ratio for private college baccalaureate professors is 15 percent agree to 72 percent disagree,” the survey found. See https://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/professors-slow-steady-acceptance-online-learning-survey

Ironically, those who have taught online classes found the experience made them better teachers.

“When those instructors were asked how their online experience has most improved their teaching skills, 75 percent said they think more critically about ways to engage students with content,” the report found.

What’s interesting about the research is that colleges and universities often talk the talk of technology but often do not reward those who use it. That’s because most of the people making the decisions are former faculty members rather than professional managers.

Less than a quarter of those surveyed said their institutions reward teachers who do online courses in tenure and promotion cases. Also, those who teach online don’t make any more money.

Students generally applaud the availability of online courses because they provide greater flexibility in scheduling a balance between class and work. Also, students said the availability of online material makes it easier to study for exams. Although online platforms offer the ability to collaborate with other students, surveys find that individuals prefer to do such work in a face-to-face environment.

Although college administrators debate whether online courses cost less, I am convinced they do. The problem is that higher education still has to allocate funds for the administrative maze that colleges have created in recent years. As a result, it’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Whatever the case, a grand experiment is about to commence. I hope it ends well even though most colleges and universities aren’t prepared for the experiment.

No 2nd Amendment No Return to Zimbabwe

Apparently the nation of Zimbabwe twenty years after deciding all those horrible white farmers HAD to go has decided that the country needs white privilege again:

Two decades after President Robert Mugabe wrecked Zimbabwe’s economy by urging black subsistence farmers to violently force white commercial farmers and their workers off their land, his successor has thrown in the towel.

Note the phrasing here. This was apparently a war on white privilege and from that phraseology good and right have lost

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has proposed settling all outstanding claims against it by farmers by offering them land.

“The object of the regulations is to provide for the disposal of land to persons entitled to compensation,” Land Minister Perence Shiri said in regulations published in the Government Gazette Friday.

Or to rephrase we will now give white farmers who worked hard to produce the country’s food supply for generations the right to do so again.

The seizures that began in 2000 were ratified by the government, which said they were needed to redress colonial imbalances. A vibrant agricultural industry that exported tobacco and roses and grew most of the food the nation needed collapsed. Periodic food shortages ensued, inflation became the world’s highest and the manufacturing industry was decimated. What was one of Africa’s richest countries became one of its poorest.

Or as Don Suber who linked this story alluded to, despite Mike Bloomberg’s opinion to the contrary there is a lot more to farming than digging a hole and dropping in a seed.

Now while this is the right move on the part of the government if I was a white farmer I’d think long and hard before I returned.

I know the prospect of returning to one’s family farm and the useful life one enjoyed in the past is tempting the question must be asked: What’s to stop the next demagogue who comes along from doing the very same thing again in 2 years, five years and ten years?

Furthermore what’s to stop local people who had been indicted to violence in the past against you from repeating this process on their own, particularly where in western universities the idea that being white is the worst sin a person can commit?

It it was me I’d not subject my family and myself to that risk until and unless a robust 2nd Amendment was passed to the country constitution and powerful stand your ground laws allowing people to defend themselves and their land without fear of government retaliation were in place and even then I’d still think twice.

cue Mr. Scott