Tuesday, November 6, 2007
It is expected the strike will last as long as nine months. If so, popular television shows will run out of scripts. With movie productions running two years out, a stockpile of scripts exist for the time being. But for shows that depend on writers to crank out material daily or weekly, or even sets, without the writers at work, the stakes are high.
Among shows shut down are CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” “Rules of the Engagement,” “The Adventures of the Old Christine," “Two and a Half Men,” and Fox’s “Til’ Death.” Fox’s “Lost,” “24,” and Prison Break” continue production, but a prolonged strike means a shorter spring season. Standing in picket lines this past Monday were Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, creators of “Lost,” and Greg Berlanti of “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Brothers and Sisters.” In Hollywood, actors refused to cross picket lines, delaying productions. Most prime-time shows have at least six shows filmed, but the number of scripts ready to go into production varies, and a long strike means a shortened spring season for favorite prime-time shows.
For late-night viewers, the pickings will be slim, if at all. Hosts like David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, and Jimmy Kimmel need their scriptwriters. Jay Leno, in a show of support said of the writers “…without them I am not funny. I am dead man.” Day-time soaps like “The Young and Restless” face a real crisis; without a continuous script, viewers have no reason to tune in.
In today’s climate of changing media, the negotiations are not easy. The movie and television industry faces a new era of technologies that threatens the livelihood of screenwriters who don’t see the profits of their labors.
Although celebrities like Tina Fey, the creator of “30 Rock,” are on strike, not all strikers, enjoy celebrity status, and many live in obscurity as working-class folks supporting a family. As the working class, they suffer at the hands of corporate greed.
What are your thoughts on screenwriters’ strike? How should profits from downloadable and DVD sales affect screenwriters? What have you heard about the strike?
Saturday, October 27, 2007
That did not stop an execution on Sept. 25, 2007, in Texas, of Michael Richard, held since 1986 on murder and sexual assault charges. If a computer problem had not delayed an electronic communication, Richard might be alive today.
Richard's lawyers sent a message that was delayed 20 minutes, thus arriving at the state court in Austin after its official closing at 5 pm. The message was a request for an appeal for the case to go the US Supreme Court.
This past Wednesday, Oct. 25th, the 13,000-member National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed a complaint against the presiding judge in the case, Sharon Keller, and 150 Texan lawyers filed additional complaints.
Ironically, Richard's execution transpired on the same day the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a Kentucky case requesting suspension of lethal injection based on the “cruel and unusual punishment" clause. Richard’s life hung on 20-minute computer delay compounded by the fact electronic communications were yet to be considered a legitimate means to file an appeal. Since his execution, electronic communications have been ruled permissible.
The source for information in this post is a New York Times article, on 10/25/07. Photos of Judge Keller and Michael Richard are credited to Bena Grothe/American Statesman, and appeared in the Times accompanying its story.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Two of our Supreme Court Justices, John Roberts, Jr. and Samuel Alito, Jr., contend that laws in other countries should not affect our constitutional law. Yet, in 2005, we were influenced by other countries when we banned the death penalty for those under the age of 18.
The human rights organization Equal Justice Initiative, situated in Montgomery, Alabama, wants the United States to review its policy on not paroling young lifers. Yet, victims’ rights advocates argue that the offenders' crimes were so horrific that we are all at risk if they are set free.
In most cases in the US today where the young are serving life sentences the crime was murder and the offender was tried as an adult.
Do you believe life in prison without parole is justifiable for those who commit violent murders as children or young adults?
Information from this post was obtained from Adam Liptak’s column that appears in The New York Times. See the 10/16/07 edition of the paper for the story. The photo, by Richard Patterson, appeared in The New York Times October 3, 2005, and is of Rebecca Falcon, a lifer, convicted of murder, when she was 15.
Monday, October 8, 2007
"Hallo 3" with an M-rating, for mature audiences only, is now shown at churches behind parents' backs. Pastors and minister alike rationalize that once the youth show up for the violent games, they’ll stick around for the sermon.
If the young people cannot legally buy the videos on their own, what are church leaders doing making them available? "Hallo 3" is already on track to become the Number 1 selling video game of all times, according to Microsoft, its producers. Already hundreds of churches across the country have joined the bandwagon, luring youth.
The popularity of Hallo nights has led ministers and pastor to rent extra video players. Will R-rated movies at the Sunday service be the next bait? Given the mounting pressure to attract the young to the congregation, are violent videos like "Hallo 3" the answer?
Monday, October 1, 2007
Advocates for a ban on showing scenes of smoking in movies believe the action will abate teen smoking. Universal Studios is ready to go ahead, Time Warner is interested, and Disney Production already has a policy. Yet, other studios, like Dreamworks, claim the ban distorts reality.
Basically, the antismoking lobbies want cigarettes out of films rated G, PG, or PG-13. The Simpson Movie released this summer showed enough cigarette smoking to garner a “Black Lung” rating from scenesmoking.org.
One study found a connection between cigarette smoking in movies and adolescent addiction to tobacco. Another study claimed this link was strongest when a predisposition to smoking already existed.
Is Hollywood going too far in banning cigarette smoking scenes? What about a ban on junk food? Where do we draw the line? What's your view?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Brockovich claims ExxonMobil carried out a coverup of the spill and could have cleaned it up years ago. Last week, a federal report uncovered the spill, one of the largest in the country. The report found that as much as 30 million gallons might have spilled. The famous Exxon Valdez oil spill back in 189 was 11 million gallons. The report further noted that the leaking toxic vapors might well be leaking into homes, harming people further.
Since 2005, Brockovich has traveled to Brooklyn twice to meet with affected residents. So far, 415 plaintiffs have signed on with one law firm and another 300 have signed with another firm to fight ExxonMobil. Sufferers are facing respiratory problems, asthma, and chronic headaches, in addition to the kidney issues. A cancer cluster also has residents worried, and Brockovich plans to be back this month to continue conversations with residents.
ExxonMobil has admitted just recently that the spill exists but claims several companies are responsible and the problem dates back more than 140 years. Putting blame on others, the company, though, has started some clean up efforts. Like Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), ExxonMobil also claims the spill does not pose risks. The company retorts the plume is 30 feet below ground and "does not represent health concerns and hazards." Brockovich says time will tell if this the truth, but in the meantime, the company faces four major lawsuits. "They are going to have to do the right thing. This is a big spill," Brockovich claims.
So, we see that Brockovich's efforts as a crusader continue. Learning more about the multitude of cases Brockovich has fought on, what is your evolving impressions of this woman?
Information for this blog comes from the New York Daily News, Sept. 19, 2007. The photo is also from the Daily News and shows Erin meeting with local Greenpoint residents.
Among the charities that Fenney has given to are ones that are fighting for human rights, environmental clean up, peace, and educating the poor. In 2003, he participated in a protest march against the invasion of Iraq in defense of world peace. He has given generously to end the strife in Northern Ireland.
Feeney’s charitable foundation has made contributions to AIDS clinics in South Africa, to educating children in Vietnam, for wastewater treatment in Vietnam, for plastic surgery for children with facial deformities in the Philippines, and to cancer research foundations and groups that get home health care workers into the homes of the needy and poor. He has given more than $1 billion to improve schools in Ireland.
One of his daughters, Leslie Feeney Baily, recalls when a teenager, she ran up an astronomical long-distance phone bill calling friends in Europe. To teach her a lesson about wasting money, her father disconnected the phone and posted a map of local phone booths (back in the days when those were still around). Feeney always understood the value of money and never squandered it, a principle he instilled in his five children at a young age. Today, his children have followed in his footsteps, living modestly and giving graciously.
What would you do with a billion dollars? Would you contribute to charities and live humbly? Would you advocate for causes you believe in? If so, what would they be?
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Across the Universe, inspired by Beatles' songs, King of California (a quasi One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, starring Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood), The Jane Austen Book Club, and Mr. Woodcock (with Billy Bob Thornton, Sean William Scott, and Susan Sarandon) promise lighter fare. The Darjeerling Limited, in the spirit of Little Miss Sunshine and Sideways, is the black sheep contender in the Academy Award's Best Movie category.
The full line-up films include the Academy Awards nominees in top categories: directing, acting, and screenplay. As Hollywood gears up for the awards seasons, the run of films is worth the trip to the movie theater.
So, get out there, see the flicks, and post your comments. (No spoilers, please!)
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Imagine the heroine, a fifth-grader Becky Botsford from Planet Literacy, metamorphosing into her alter-ego, WordGirl, and flying to the rescue donning her red-cape and flinging words at her enemies. Her monkey friend, Captain HuggyFace, sure to appeal to the young set, accompanies her on escapades challenging evil counterparts, tongue-tied Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy and word-mangling Butcher. Words like "preposterous" and "cumbersome" flummox them, baffling and distracting them, while she wins another conquest.
The show is aimed at children 4 to 9 years in age. The actors voicing the characters come from improv comedy and shows like Saturday Night Live. Chris Parnell of SNL does the voice of the narrator, Jeffrey Tambor of Arrested Development does Mr. Big, and Fred Stoller of Everybody Loves Raymond voices for the Sandwich-Making Guy. The program's goal is to be upbeat while reinforcing vocabulary in comic scenarios in the standard cartoon-format that appeals to both tikes and children midway through the elementary grades.
The program's creator, Dorothea Gillim, envisions parents sitting to watch the show with their children and reinforcing the vocabulary lessons. The show originates from a curriculum explained in Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction, a book authored by two University of Pittsburgh researchers. Its premise is that vocabulary is the linchpin to literacy.
Scholastic, the media mega-star in children's literacy, has plans underway for a book series complementing the show. WordGirl's producers have also explored options like sending a new word a day to children via the Internet or cell phones.
For a preview of the show's companion websites, check out: http://pbskids.org/wordgirl/ , http://www.scholastic.com/wordgirl/, http://www.pbs.org/parents/tvprograms/program-wordgirl.html
View this YouTube Jim Lehrer interview with WordGirl, , or this YouTube preview for the show to be broadcast in mid-September: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLw3ExL18r8
What creative ideas do you have for promoting literacy among young children? Do you agree vocabulary is the linchpin to literacy? Do you think we are facing a literacy crisis in the US? Do you believe a program like WordGirl will bolster children's verbal skills?
Saturday, September 1, 2007
A New Wave is crime film about a Hartford insurance worker turned bank robber by night. The director-writer of the film, Jason Carvey, and the producer, Bruce Seymour, are Connecticut natives. The film stars Andrew Keegan and John Krasinski (of The Office). Lacey Chabert of Mean Girls plays the lead female role. William Sadler (who you will see in Shawshank Redemption playing the role of the mean-spirited prison guard) is one of the bigger names in the film.
Carvey wrote the script in 2004 while working in the insurance industry. The movie is a mix of drama and comedy. Post-production took three years, with the director and editor working weekends to complete the project. Not a big budget film, it has its flaws, which the critics have already identified. Still, watch the film to catch the shots of familiar Connecticut locales.
The film is out in DVD this week and will be on video on demand soon, with a television release planned. Although you won't pay big bucks to watch the movie, its producers went into debt making it and hope to make a profit. They remain frustrated by bootleg copies downloadable off the Internet but intrigued the film has even generated that kind of response. Will the Internet, though, threaten the careers of filmmakers just starting out?
With Connecticut granting a 30 percent tax credit to film companies, Hollywood producers are finding the state an attractive place to work. Just this summer, Steven Spielberg shot the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series in New Haven. Starring Harrison Ford, Uma Thurman, and Leonardo DiCaprio, gawkers filled the streets. Familiar New Haven storefronts were torn down and turned into film sets. Locals and tourists from afar flocked to downtown New Haven to see the Indiana Jones movie in the making and catch a glimpse of Ford decked out for his classic role. This is not to say DiCarpio and Thurman did not draw crowds. Thanks to police security, onlookers did not see much, but area restaurants reported brisk business. The film is due out May 2008.
Have you seen a film shot on location? Do you know anyone who played a part in a movie or television production? If so, what did the person say of the experience? Do you plan to see the next Indiana Jones movie when it is released? How do you feel about the practice of bootlegging movies off the Internet?
Photos obtained from Internet Movie Database
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Texas law allows the execution of accomplices in capital felony cases. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, granted the reprieve and accepted a parole board's recommendation for Foster to face life in prison. Perry recommended the Texas law for accomplices be re-examined. Mauriceo Brown, the gunman in the case, was executed last year.
The mother of the victim, who was a 25-year old law student at the time, viewed Foster’s reprieve as a relief. Norma Hood, the student's mother, commented: “I’m filled with peace. I will mourn my son till I die, but I’m not forced any more to relive his death.” For more information on the story, see the front page story in The New York Times, August 30, 2007.
The photo shows Foster with his girlfriend, Nicole Johnson, and their daughter, Nydesha, during a 2001 visit to Texas death row. The photo was provided courtesy of Foster's family and appeared in The Austin Chronicle, Feb. 11, 2005.
Despite Governor Perry's willingness to dismiss the death penalty in the Foster case, in May of this year, he approved a law for the use of the death penalty for second-time offenders who rape children under the age of 14 years.
What is your position on the Foster reprieve? What about the death sentence for second time offenders in rape cases involving young children? Do you think this law is fair? Should Foster's death sentence have been overturned?
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Boasting of his past feats as a boxer, Jackson’s character, known in the film as The Champ, is beat to a pulp by a bunch of street thuds. A journalist (played by Josh Harnett), also down on his luck, covets a front-page story, and befriends The Champ, taking him to a match. The Champ gives the journalist, Erik, an insider’s run-down on the match, leading to the front-page story that jumpstarts his career.
Erik soon discovers that The Champ is a once-famous boxer, believed to be long deceased. In resurrecting The Champ, Erik also aims to resurrect his own life of a broken marriage (his wife, played by Kathryn Morris, of Cold Case fame)
Directed by Rod Lurie, who hails from Greenwich, Connecticut, the film continues to move his career beyond television as the director of the series Commander in Chief and Line of Fire. He directed the 2000 film The Contender, starring Gary Oldman (of Harry Potter fame), Joan Allan, Jeff Bridges and Christian Slater.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
To date, of the 45,000 people attempting to sue Merck, none has received compensation. In the meantime, the lawyers defending the company have profited. Merck has spent over one billion dollars in legal fees.The company has refused reaching settlements, believing doing so will acknowledge culprability in victims' suffering. The stock of the company has soared, and Merck remains one the most lucrative pharmeutical company in the US.
Monday, August 20, 2007
The Journal of Pediatrics claims that for every hour spent watching a DVD, there is parallel decline in cognitive development. A comparison between babies watching educational DVDs like Baby Einstein found that those who watched the programs fell behind peers who spent time engaged in age-appropriate literature activities, for instance, being read to by a parent. Apparently, if you believe this finding, young children learn better hearing their own parents say words than a stranger, no matter what the words are.
Heavy television viewing by young children has also been associated with attention deficit disorder and behavioral delays later in life, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics. The Academy recommends children under age two not watch any television. So, as for yourself, did you watch television at a young age? If so, do you believe it impaired your cognitive and behavioral development?
In a study using the Communicative Development Inventory (CDI), a test used to determine the linguistic development of infants, it was found eight-month olds easily recognize the words mommy, daddy, bye, peekaboo, bottle, no, and hi. If the research findings on language decline are accurate, an eight-month old who has learned only these seven words should not know any of them after viewing television for one hour. Does this seem plausible? Do you see a problem with research studies jumping to conclusions?
The Kaiser Foundation claims that 68% of infants under age two “watch television on any given day.” By age sixteen months, the average baby should recognize 170 words on the CDI list according to researchers. But if the statistics reported by the Kaiser Foundation and CDI researchers are both correct, the average child from age eight to sixteen months will have watched 240 hours of television and dropped 1,440 words from its vocabulary. Yet, how many16-month olds know 1,440 words!
Much of the information in this posting is based on this Baron blog post.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Three of the chemicals used in nail salons have been associated with cancer. These are toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phtalate. In Springfield, MA, a hospital found that nail salon workers suffered from miscarriages as well as from rashes, fungal infections, and asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has noted that salon workers are not only exposed to toxic chemicals, but work long hours and might be of childbearing age and bring children into the workplace.
What can you do to help out? Begin by researching the topic, and by learning what companies like OPI, one of the largest producers of nail salon products, is doing. In Springfield, MA., a community group received a $100,000 grant from the EPA to improve ventilation systems in salons. What ideas do you have to help workers in salons protect their physical and mental health as well of that of their children? And, remember it takes far less concentration of chemicals to harm children than it does adults!
Credits: Picture from Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
A manicure at Happy Beauty Salon in Carle Place, on Long Island.
Information from STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: August 19, 2007m The New York Times, At Nail Salons, Beauty Treatments Can Have a Distinctly Unglamorous Side
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
When the History Department faculty asked students why they used Wikipedia, they claimed their high school teachers condoned the practice. As a result of a series of incidents in which students used inaccurate information found in Wikipedia, the department enacted the ban.
The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, has publicly stated that students should not cite Wikipedia, or any other general encyclopedia, including Encyclopedia Britainnica. One objection to Wikipedia is the collaborative nature by which articles are composed and the lack of credentials of the authors. As a wiki, just about anyone can enter and edit an entry.
To teach students how to create wikis, some college professors have students author articles for Wikipedia. At Oberlin College, students edited Wikipedia entries for a Middle East and an Ancient Rome course. At Columbia University, graduate students created a bibliograpy project on Japan critiquing library references, newspaper articles, and books, posting the project on Wikipedia.
Whereas professors find fault with citing Wikipedia as a reference, they do not hestitate to have their students author on the site, claiming the practice helps develop consice writing skills. Students posting to the site claim their ability to author and edit entried on the site has contributed to their ambivalence about the veracity of information found on the site. Although steps are taken to monitor submissions, vandalism of the site occurs. The error regarding the Shimabara Rebellion persisted on the site even following publicity about the error.
Do you believe schools should ban Wikipedia as a source students cite in papers?
Information for this posting was gathered from a The New York Times, Feb. 21, 2007, article, found on p. B8, entitled "A History Department Bans Citing Wikipedia As a Research Source," author by Noam Cohen.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Follow this link to learn more: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2007/01/substitute_teacher_faces_jail.html One summary offered: "A 40-year-old former substitute teacher from Connecticut is facing prison time following her conviction for endangering students by exposing them to pornographic material displayed on a classroom computer. The graphic images were pop-up ads generated by spyware already present on the computer prior to the teacher's arrival."
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
(Acknowledgement: The New York Times, 2/7/07, Joseph Berger’s Education column, “Federal Law Drains Resources for the Gifted,” bylined, West Hartford, CT. See page B9; Joe’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Keep up to date on literacy and other issues related to the language arts curriculum by reading this blog and sending in comments.
To read more about the survey, go to this EdNews story:
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Most podcasts run from 30 to 60 minutes. If you have the gift of gab, podcasting might be your salvation. Think of audio-taping all of your lessons. But, is podcasting easy to do? To podcast, audio taping software and a microphone are a must; and, listeners need an audio player, i.e., a MP3 or an iPod to download files. So, with that in mind, does podcasting fit into your future? Listen to some educational podcasts, and ponder the possibilities.
Learning-hand-in education site explains the phenomenon in education at:
Thinking of creating your own podcast? Read this step-by-step guide: http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-11293_7-6246557-1.html?tag=bnav
Here is another beginner’s guide to podcasting: http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/beginners-guide-to-podcast-creation/
“All the World’s a Podcast" clarifies what a podcast is and isn’t: http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/beginners-guide-to-podcast-creation/
BBC article on podcasting explains what it is and why it is profitable:
More to come on podcasting in another blog--stay tuned.
For the young, the power to vent and reach out to others makes blogging attractive. It goes beyond the power of cell phones and instant messaging, but demands more of the speaker. Keeping up a blog is work!
To hear what young bloggers say about the pros of blogging, read this January 8, 2007 Hartford Courant article. http://www.courant.com/technology/hc-sundaywebdiaries.artjan28,0,7329014.story?coll=hc-headlines-technology
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
For language arts lessons ideas for grades 5-6, look into The Teacher's Desk at http://www.teachersdesk.org. CyberGuides, http://www.sdcoe.k12.us/score.cyberguide.html, offers web-based units on literature. Guides contain a teacher and student section, a task for students to do, a list of related websites, and an evaluative rubric.
For math, check the SCORES Mathematics Lessons site at http://score.kings.k12.ca.us. The site follows National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards. MathStories at http://www.mathstories.com/ offers math word problems classified by grade level and topic. The site requires a subscription, but check the site for general information about what is available. An all-time favorite in the math area is Math Forum Internet Mathematics Library at http://mathforum.org/library/resource_types/lesson_plans.
If you are looking for sites that provide access to Web Quests, as well as a range of other instructional materials, take a look at TeAch-nology.com at http://www.teach-nology.com/.
Some sites related to the social studies curriculum include Archiving Early America at http://www.earlyamerica.org for primary sources. Shotgun's Home of the Civil War at http://www.civilwarhome.com will appeal to Civil War buffs, and provides a wealth of information for teachers who address this topic in the curriculum. For information in the Revolutionary War, try WPI Military Science at http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/Depts/MilSci/BTSI
In the science area, for information on the 7-12 grade levels, look into CEEE GirlTECH Lesson Plans at http://teachtech.rice.edu/Lessons/index.html. SCORE Science at http://scorescience.humbolt.k12.ca.us/ offers lessons and activities by grade level, K-12. One recommended example is on Newton's Laws. For amusing science site, try I Can Do That! at http://www.eurekascience.com/ICanDoThat/. Rock Hound at http://www.fi.edu/fellows/payton/rocks/index2.html, as the title suggests, focuses on rocks. The parent site, Franklin Institute Online Wired@School, http://fi.edu/fellows/ offers a variety of science lessons. Newton's Apples at http://tpt.org/newtons is another site with an array of science lessons and is stems from the television show of the same name.
AskERIC Lesson Plans at http://www.askeric.org/cgi-bin/lesson.cig/Science/Biology offers a collection of biology lesson plans, and the parent site at just AskERIC is an old-time favorite.
These collection of sites are compiled by Vicki Sharp in Computers Education for Teachers (5th ed.).
If any of the links do not work, email me at email@example.com, and I will get back to you with updates. If you find any of these sites useful, please post a comment with your reactions.
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