Weekly Meanderings, 19 March 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.18.06 PMO yes, on reading chairs — Lindsey M. Roberts:

[That’s my reading chair.]

A living room without a reading chair is like a spa bathroom without a big tub. Something is missing.

Add a cozy reading corner, though, and the room starts to get friendly. “Comfortable furniture will make you want to stay in the room, and any room that makes me want to actually spend time in there is a winner for me,” says Emily Henderson, an L.A.-based stylist and author of “Styled.” There are thousands of chair options out there and so many factors to consider — height, width, material, color — so we asked for professional advice from Henderson and Nicole Lanteri, a D.C. interior decorator.

Henderson says the most important thing is comfort, “as you will be sitting in it for long periods of time.”

That doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. “My husband likes to sit upright and have a pretty firm chair, [whereas] I’d rather curl up in a chair with a blanket to read,” Lanteri says.

Once you find your match, you’ll want a spot for your feet (Lanteri suggests a small leather pouf) and adequate lighting. Look for a floor lamp with a height of 50 to 60 inches, ideally with a dimmer and without glare.

You can set up a pair of chairs in a family room, or one off by itself in an otherwise forlorn corner of the house. Just try not to overstyle your reading nook with too many accessories, Henderson says. “I keep it simple with either a small lumbar pillow — for those extra-late nights of reading — or a thin decorative throw to add some texture.”

Blair King is right:

Parents, you must advocate for your kids but you must also support your child’s teacher

A lot of parents have been taught that it is their job to advocate for their kids. That is absolutely true. But remember, advocating for your child should not take away from your responsibility to support your child’s teacher. Supporting your child’s teacher means listening to them and acknowledging what they say about your child because, believe it or not, your child may behave differently out of your presence than they do in it.

Many parents also seem to miss the fact that teachers are professionals. Just because everyone has gone to school does not mean everyone is an expert in teaching. When you contradict or question your child’s teacher in front of your child, you are telling your child that the teacher’s authority is not to be respected.

When a teacher tells you about something, don’t turn to your child and ask if what their teacher is saying is true. You may think you are involving your child in the discussion, but what you have actually done is to question that teacher’s reliability to their face. Think of it from the teacher’s perspective. You have essentially told them that you won’t believe what they just told you until your child confirms it.

Daniela Loose:

Use the following five steps to help students to get organized and they might become more engaged in their homework, and in cleaning out their own backpack. If not, at least they can no longer use the “I can’t find it, I probably left it at school” excuse we all know so well.

  1. Check your kids’ backpacks once a week. I picked Fridays for my own kids, but any day will work. We started as early as fourth grade, but don’t worry, you won’t have to organize backpacks forever. If you start early, they’ll develop the skills and habits to manage on their own.
  2. Ignore protests. Your kids will object; they’ll claim that they need every single piece of paper in the backpack. I’ve seen students cling to their papers as if they were life rafts from the Titanic. Stay firm and make sure you involve them in the process. They’ll enjoy it in a few minutes, tossing and sorting with abandon.
  3. Recycle everything that is obsolete. I’m no Marie Kondo, but a certain amount of ruthlessness is required to make a dent in the endless cycle of handouts. This is a tricky stage. Your kids might not be sure what they still need and worry about throwing away something important. Check the date on top of the paper, if it’s more than a month old, they don’t need it anymore. Work that has been completed and graded should never be returned to the backpack. You may keep some of the finished work in your home, but beware: papers will try to take over your house unless you show them who’s in charge. Save a couple of pieces of stellar work and toss the rest. Remember this, and teach your kids: OLD STUFF DOES NOT RETURN TO THE BACKPACK.
  4. Sort by subject. I don’t care whether students use folders, binders or something else, but separating papers according to subject makes it easier to locate work both at home and in class especially for middle and high school students. Ask your kids what they would like to do. They’ll be on board and feel liberated by the entire process.
  5. Keep it up. Unless tidying the backpack becomes a habit, you’ll soon have the same mess on your hands. Luckily, keeping it up requires less time and your children will be more skilled at identifying what they can keep or toss. If you get a good start, you can step back in a while and let them manage on their own.

Many students find doing homework easier and much less time consuming after they have tidied their backpack.

Carl Trueman’s perceptions aren’t surpassed:

In part, I suspect this is because [history] is often badly taught. For my generation, too many of us experienced it as a mere concatenation of names and dates, trotted out in a dusty monotone by a teacher who really wanted to be an actuary but failed the personality test. It was tedious but not a problem. For this generation, however history is so awash in angry tales of the oppression of this or that micro-identity that it has become little more than present-day politics pursued through the idiom of the past tense. As Philip Rieff memorably expressed it in Fellow Teachers:

But, for Americans, all pasts are embarrassments, beyond recall except as tactical instruments of scarcely concealed rancor against present or imagined inferiorities.

Sadly, what was true of Rieff’s America in the early 1970s has become a general characteristic of the West in general. History is now useful on college campuses primarily as a means for bestowing much-sought-after vicarious victimhood on a generation that knows little or nothing of what it actually means to be a real victim of anything beyond over-indulgent parenting and a society that knows not what it means to be an adult.

But the attempted elimination of history as being of positive importance in the present is not restricted to the pseudo-sophisticates of the New Left academy and their self-absorbed spawn. A whole arsenal of aspects of modern culture militates against it. An economy built upon a commercial philosophy which creates desires and then offers to satisfy them is inevitably forward-looking and creative in a manner which weakens ties to history. Mass produced architecture, the automobile, the importance of science and technology to the imagination, and high population mobility all mean that those traditional markers of memory—distinct places and enduring possessions tied to particular times and events—are greatly weakened. And when memory is weakened or destroyed, eventually concern for history follows in its wake.

Pigeon backpacks, by Karin Brulliard:

Air pollution caused by diesel vehicles in London is bad — so bad that it isblamed for 9,500 premature deaths a year and has prompted Britain’s Supreme Court to order the government to make a plan for cleaning up the skies.

Now what is commonly seen as another scourge of the city, the pigeon, is helping in the fight against smog. On Monday, 10 birds outfitted in miniature backpacks carrying pollution sensors and GPS trackers took to the air, and they started tweeting — via beak, perhaps, but definitely via Twitter — their devices’ readings of nitrogen dioxide and ozone. Londoners who tweet at the Pigeon Air Patrol’s Twitter handle, @PigeonAir, are getting responses from the birds about air pollution in their area, and a live map of the pigeons’ location can be viewed online.

Rebecca Klein:

When Dorothy Counts-Scoggins showed up for her first day of high school almost 60 years ago, she didn’t even make it into the building before she was spat on, targeted with thrown trash and told to “go back to Africa.”

She was 15 years old that day in 1957 and the first black student to attend Harding High, a previously all-white school in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Her only friend stopped making eye contact in the hallway before the week was out. A group of boys surrounded her in the cafeteria and spat in her food. Other students threw a sharp object at her head once while she was facing her locker. Police officials told her worried parents they could not guarantee her safety.

“I did not feel I was being protected in any way within the confines of the school because there were adults there and they did nothing,” Counts-Scoggins said. “Teachers ignored me as if I was not even in the classroom. If I raised my hand, I wasn’t acknowledged.”

She left Harding High after four days, but Counts-Scoggins never stopped fighting for desegregation. Today, at age 73, she is at the forefront of a debate about whether recently re-segregated Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools should integrate classrooms along socioeconomic lines.

Taryn Finley:

Anaya Lee Willabus, 9, launched her writing career and made history at the same time when she published her first book The Day Mohan Found His Confidence.

Willabus published the book in May 2015 when she was only 8 years old, making her the youngest person in the United States to publish a chapter book.

In an interview with PIX11, she said that what she accomplished felt amazing. “It’s just so inspirational, not only for me but for younger kids and that’s good.”

The novel follows a young boy named Mohan as he overcomes challenges at home and school but he ultimately learns he can do anything with the help and support of family and friends.

Willabus’ parents praised her for her self-motivation. Since she began reading at the age of 2, the Brooklyn-native has read all of the books in her family’s library which her mom said consisted of more than 300 books. A few of her favorite titles include I Am Malala, Dreams from My Father and Fire from the Rock.

Lindsey Bever:

An IHOP waiter claiming to be a “modern day Robin Hood” has been charged with giving away more than $3,000 in beverages to customers in New York.

William Powell, 27, was arrested earlier this month and charged with larceny, petit larceny and possession of stolen property for handing out free coffee, tea and soda to customers at an IHOP restaurant in Brooklyn, according to court documents.

“I am a modern day Robin Hood; I am not stealing,” Powell said, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kings County in Brooklyn. “I am serving the ones in need. I take from the rich and give to the poor.

“What’s the big deal? I’ve been doing this since I started here.”

Mike Plunkett:

Researchers estimate that 42 million Americans consider themselves runners or joggers. Of those, about 18 million are millennials. They grew up familiar with the appeal of running and have fully embraced the sport as a lifestyle phenomenon. Add in their relationship to technology and their strong sense of community, and they are a force the running industry must reckon with.

But what does running and competing mean to them? A new study tried to figure that out.

The Millennial Running Study, released in February and sponsored by Running USA and RacePartner with research by Achieve, surveyed 15,631 people born between 1980 and 2000 who have finished a race, asking about their motivations for running.

The primary reason is clear: Millennials run for their health. Amy Thayer, the study’s lead researcher, said that’s a key finding because this generation struggles with obesity. To counter that threat, millennials run — to lose weight and get in shape.

“Running is the most economical way [for millennials] to get the most bang for their buck,” Thayer said. “From there, the motivation was to continue on to do more so that it has become a lifestyle.”

Le Hamburger:

In the heart of what might be the most celebrated cuisine in the world, a curious thing is happening: people are clamoring for an unglamorous American food. “Le hamburger,” as it’s called in France, has bombarded restaurants in the country otherwise known for much fancier food, becoming one of the most popular dishes. The love is such that three quarters of all food establishments now sell at least one hamburger, and 80 percent of those say it’s their best-selling item, according to a recent study.

(The Pink Panther, suffice it to say, would know better than to botch the word today.)

But France’s hamburger fixation is hardly unique. Rather, it’s emblematic of what has proved to be a common affair.

Just ask those who live in Australia, where people ingest nearly three times as many hamburgers per capita as they do in France (albeit with strange things on top). Or the British, who, let’s face it, have pretty questionable taste in food, but still appreciate hamburgers more. Even the Russians appreciate them at least as much.

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