best when viewed in low light


Damn sexy cycling

Saturday March 26th was the Red Hook Crit (#4).

It wasn't at all what I thought - no potholes, cobblestones, or police - but it was the first time I've ever actually seen a race in person.

I mean, I thought I was going to race for like the past eight months and I hadn't even seen it in action! Preeeposterous.

I can't stress this enough: Now that I have seen it in action, I CAN'T WAIT TO RACE!

And, really, like I've been saying all along: frak road racing, it takes too long...


criterium of the short, cornering track
criterium of the fast-breathing, shoulder-to-shoulder brutality
criterium of crashes, scraped skin and vomiting

I have found my cycling nirvana. Training starts now.


next year!

[point well made, Dave]


Hello Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc - I Need a Dollar from LRG on Vimeo.

OMG...Loving you is killing me, too!


Jeremy Morlock: this doesn't feel right

I know I'm supposed to see this guy and be shocked and revolted by what he's done.

But I'm not.

It's politically incorrect to say so, but I actually just feel bad for him. Not because he has to suffer the consequences of his actions - that is appropriate, and it's being handled in a legal way - but because his actions were the logical consequence of his situation.

Most people aren't going to be put in a set of circumstances like the US Army in Afghanistan and become methodical killers. But that's who we've trained him (and his cohort) to be!

And then we send him to Afghanistan, where - from all military accounts - he is under constant threat of death or dismemberment , he can't speak the language (and even if he did, it wouldn't necessarily clarify the complex local politics), he can't parse the mixed emotional and cultural realities of the people that he's supposedly there to protect, and all that training, all that dehumanizing of the enemy, all the frustration and futility and the deaths of his friends, and the distance from a country that doesn't act like it cares about his welfare...

I just look at that situation and think to myself... Man! I sure would want to kill someone with the massively powerful weapons I'm strapped to at all times! Because at least then, I could feel like there's a fraking point to all this.

This isn't an excuse, or a rationalization. And I think he should be put on trial, along with his compatriots in this debacle, and I think he absolutely should go to jail.

But I also think he needs extremely close psychological supervision. And he needs at least one person to believe that he can come back to society in one piece. A whole human being.

And even better, WE THE PEOPLE need to take a moment and reassess exactly what it is we've asked our soldiers to do for the past ten years. Because they're coming home. And for those that have managed to handle an impossible situation and NOT go on a crazy killing spree...THEY need to come back with honor and unflagging respect from the ones who didn't have to go.

SPOM: Appalachian Trail Video

Funny when Mom is on the crest of the internet wave.

Of course, I saw this posted on Twitter yesterday, but still cool a whole 24 hours later.

Green Tunnel from Kevin Gallagher on Vimeo.


Media Lab's Badass Logo

Identity is a fluid, multilateral, manipulated and manufactured thing [things ?] these days.

About time nerdesigners figured out how to encapsulate that - the only way you CAN encapsulate something moving: with math!

The only component of the MIT Media Lab's new logo algorithm that I don't love is this: They went and hired outside designers [alums, but still] to build it. If they're really as brilliant as they think they are, why wasn't this built by a crowd-source controlled robot Picasso? And the winning design selected by Twitter followers? With a built-in repetition-preventer, so that each individual Media Lab student, staff or faculty member literally can't use the same logo as any other?

Y'all are slackin


Been dancing to this for a while now...

[As you can see]

We have nothing without smart kids

March 12, 2011

Pay Teachers More

From the debates in Wisconsin and elsewhere about public sector unions, you might get the impression that we’re going bust because teachers are overpaid.

That’s a pernicious fallacy. A basic educational challenge is not that teachers are raking it in, but that they are underpaid. If we want to compete with other countries, and chip away at poverty across America, then we need to pay teachers more so as to attract better people into the profession.

Until a few decades ago, employment discrimination perversely strengthened our teaching force. Brilliant women became elementary school teachers, because better jobs weren’t open to them. It was profoundly unfair, but the discrimination did benefit America’s children.

These days, brilliant women become surgeons and investment bankers — and 47 percent of America’s kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers come from the bottom one-third of their college classes (as measured by SAT scores). The figure is from a study by McKinsey & Company, “Closing the Talent Gap.”

Changes in relative pay have reinforced the problem. In 1970, in New York City, a newly minted teacher at a public school earned about $2,000 less in salary than a starting lawyer at a prominent law firm. These days the lawyer takes home, including bonus, $115,000 more than the teacher, the McKinsey study found.

We all understand intuitively the difference a great teacher makes. I think of Juanita Trantina, who left my fifth-grade class intoxicated with excitement for learning and fascinated by the current events she spoke about. You probably have a Miss Trantina in your own past.

One Los Angeles study found that having a teacher from the 25 percent most effective group of teachers for four years in a row would be enough to eliminate the black-white achievement gap.

Recent scholarship suggests that good teachers, even kindergarten teachers, increase their students’ earnings many years later. Eric A. Hanushek of Stanford University found that an excellent teacher (one a standard deviation better than average, or better than 84 percent of teachers) raises each student’s lifetime earnings by $20,000. If there are 20 students in the class, that is an extra $400,000 generated, compared with a teacher who is merely average.

A teacher better than 93 percent of other teachers would add $640,000 to lifetime pay of a class of 20, the study found.

Look, I’m not a fan of teachers’ unions. They used their clout to gain job security more than pay, thus making the field safe for low achievers. Teaching work rules are often inflexible, benefits are generous relative to salaries, and it is difficult or impossible to dismiss teachers who are ineffective.

But none of this means that teachers are overpaid. And if governments nibble away at pensions and reduce job security, then they must pay more in wages to stay even.

Moreover, part of compensation is public esteem. When governors mock teachers as lazy, avaricious incompetents, they demean the profession and make it harder to attract the best and brightest. We should be elevating teachers, not throwing darts at them.

Consider three other countries renowned for their educational performance: Singapore, South Korea and Finland. In each country, teachers are drawn from the top third of their cohort, are hugely respected and are paid well (although that’s less true in Finland). In South Korea and Singapore, teachers on average earn more than lawyers and engineers, the McKinsey study found.

“We’re not going to get better teachers unless we pay them more,” notes Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust, an education reform organization. Likewise, Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform says, “We’re the first people to say, throw them $100,000, throw them whatever it takes.”

Both Ms. Wilkins and Ms. Allen add in the next breath that pay should be for performance, with more rigorous evaluation. That makes sense to me.

Starting teacher pay, which now averages $39,000, would have to rise to $65,000 to fill most new teaching positions in high-needs schools with graduates from the top third of their classes, the McKinsey study found. That would be a bargain.

Indeed, it makes sense to cut corners elsewhere to boost teacher salaries. Research suggests that students would benefit from a tradeoff of better teachers but worse teacher-student ratios. Thus there are growing calls for a Japanese model of larger classes, but with outstanding, respected, well-paid teachers.

Teaching is unusual among the professions in that it pays poorly but has strong union protections and lockstep wage increases. It’s a factory model of compensation, and critics are right to fault it. But the bottom line is that we should pay teachers more, not less — and that politicians who falsely lambaste teachers as greedy are simply making it more difficult to attract the kind of above-average teachers our above-average children deserve.

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.


Problem-Solved: Bikeable Bag(s)

Thanks to caffeine, an imposing deadline, and a really weird night of not enough sleep, I'm having a most productive problem-solving kind of day.

I love those!

I solved a client's layout problem.

AND THEN, even more importantly, I solved my very own bag problem!

The challenge:
Big enough to carry 1 laptop, bikram gear (= 1 sports bra, 1 stretch pant, 1 sm box qtips, 1 shammy), 1 water bottle, 1 pair of bike shoes*, 1 compact shopping bag*
Small enough to carry 1 phone, 1 book, 1 wallet, 1 water bottle, 1 camera*
Minimum water resistance
Straps long enough to criss-cross chest while cycling
Stylish, but unassuming and unencumbered

So, all this time I've been thinking: Where is the one universal bag that can do all this without having a bunch of extra space and/or weight? Where is my magical expanding bag? Where is my Mary Poppins carpet bag?!

LL motherfraking BEAN! THAT'S where!

So, this is what I got (because this magical, stylish, comfortable, lightweight leather, expanding/compacting bag does not exist)!

Ok, NOW I'm working...


Laugh, it's a nuclear explosion

According to @anthonyjeselnik: "Look on the bright side, Japan. You're just ten years away from an awesome monster movie franchise.

[Don't know about you, but when I can't do anything and people are dying, I gotta laugh at it. How else to endure the pain?]


Spam Magnet

By far the strangest spam I've ever received:

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It all comes down to physical force

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This is an absolute embarrassment.

I am humiliated that this behavior is supposedly legitimized by the "Republican" party, of which I am a not-very-proud member at the moment.

Maddow's hyperbole is, of course, as lamely sensationalist here as it is on Fox News, but her horror and revulsion is totally appropriate: If Republicans are so unwilling to negotiate using political means that they must resort to physical force, they become a domestic insurgency. This is Hizbollah behavior, Republicans. And it's unacceptable.

Especially for a party that supposedly believes in limiting the intrusion of the government in the lives of private individuals.


Jam that news all night, baby

R Les a Paris

New radical republicanism

When it really comes down to it, the Tea Party movement is just what it sounds like: a bunch of catty ladies and surly gentlemen sitting around and bitching about how things aren't how they'd like them to be. Maybe even sometimes over tea.

It's clear that these are universal sentiments, regardless of how different the content of those preferences might be.

I might, for example, be a strong proponent of a parenting stipend paid to an individual guardian who chooses to forego paid labor to stay home and provide primary care to children.

I might, however, believe that care payments or tax subsidies from the government to any individual - regardless of age, occupation, mental or physical ability, public service record, etc - is a perversion of social policy and undermines the country's productivity.

Either way, I'm unhappy.

But since it is irrevocably clear that the Tea Party movement is a fanatical traditionalism burying its' collective head, ostrich-like, in the ground and pretending not to see the inevitable march towards the future, they need a foil.

And with that, I'd like to introduce the Coffee Clatch movement. And, of course, this is just what IT sounds like: young, urban intellectuals and social progressives sitting around bitching about how things aren't how they'd like them to be. Always over coffee or a marijuana cigarette.

Now, how do we get this on CNN?


Don't say it out loud, Becca!

So...due to the flu I only made it through 18 days of my 30 day bikram yoga challenge.

The last week of January or so, my friend Becca suggested we do this challenge some time, and I said, "Great! Let's start Friday!" And we did.

Fifteen days into it, I got flattened by this year's flu, and basically didn't get out of bed for ten days. When I finally went back to bikram, I spent that day sitting and savasing,
then a second day doing as many poses as I could (which topped out at like, 10 of the 26),
and then a third day where I did at least one of each of the poses, but which was SO empowering and unexpected and blissful that it was the best day yet!

I cried in the closing savasana.

Cycling season has started - officially, races begin this weekend - and I barely care anymore. I mean, I said I would do it and I want to do it, but I've been toying around with continuing bikram and I feel incredibly torn.

And secretly, I've been thinking that maybe if I practiced consistently for a couple years, I could actually become a yoga teacher.

And then Becca has to go and say that out loud!

I mean, it's all well and good to have these secret fantasies of other lives that I could maybe live if I went crazy or something. And as long as it stays in my head, it's safe. It's just a fantasy. And I have tons of those.

But then someone - sometimes it's even me - goes and says it out loud and then I feel like I have to do it!


You can't really get too much more badass

[That's Tricia. Hot sweaty pink domina of BYLES.]

So I guess the real question is: How, in practical reality, would I go about doing this?

In the past...