Internet Detritus #4

Thesis Statements?

Seuss Titles
Makes for an interesting project for any kind of book and maybe an introduction to the concept of a theme/thesis statement.
via It’s Okay to be Smart

Staying Pure

via Boing Boing

I’ve posted on the Google Translation idea before but this video adds a decent introductory element (although I’m not sure kids today are familiar with the Fresh Prince).

Can you create a sentence that isn’t corrupted by the Google Translation torture test? Who can create the longest sentence that remains pure? The most complex? When do things break down? Why?

It might be fun to take the quotes of different authors and see what stays true and what ends up muddled. Then you breakdown why. Endless fun.

Added to the Podcasts

New to me, via Boing Boing

Subscribe here (iTunes link).

Words we ought to have in English

8. Tartle (Scots)
The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember.

via The Week and a number of other people.

I’d like to see what words kids would come up with that we need. It’d be a fun way to discuss when we need one word vs many. I’m also betting they’d come up with needed words that already exist in English.

Plant Cell

Compare to your textbook’s plant cell image- via Fresh Protons

Classroom Posters

Compare to Garfield or your typical “no whining” poster.

via Fresh Protons

via Shorpy


If the gentle reader noticed it looks kind of like a cruise missile, they were onto something. That’s exactly what it is, a cruise missile. Typically launched from a Betty bomber, though submarine and cave launched versions were also planned. It only had enough fuel to fly for 20 miles or so, so it had to be launched pretty close to its target. And yes, it had a pilot. This was World War Two, electronically guided missiles were still a dream, if a cruise missile was going to hit any thing smaller than a city, it had to be piloted. Yes, this bad boy was the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) purpose-built suicide plane. It had a 2,000 lb high explosive warhead, and could fly at over 400 mph (650 kph) in level flight or over 650 mph (1,000 kph) in a dive. This was considerably faster than the fighters of the day, and made them almost unstoppable if they got into a final approach. And yes, this was built by Japan in the last years of World War Two. It’s a kamikaze plane.

via Doug’s Dark World

This is one of those historical photos that begs for a good series of questions to tempt students down the path that the author went through above. It links up a lot of different aspects of the war and technology at that time as well.

Virginia Uniform Performance Standards Breakdown

If that’s not a sexy title, I don’t know what is.

If you aren’t a teacher in VA it’s likely you should stop reading now.

Others may have done this already, but I decided to breakdown the new VA Teacher Standards because I’m helping to look at integrating our multiple rubrics into this framework and hopefully consolidating the various lenses through which we define good instruction.

You can see my current work below. I wanted to clarify the statements and really see what they said. I think it led to some semi-interesting discoveries.


5 of the 7 standards are stated so that the action has a result. You perform action X to get result Y. Professional Knowledge used the phrase “by providing” instead of “to provide.” Additionally, Student Academic Progress uses “results in” in lieu of “to achieve” or something similar. I’m not sure if that matters. They could be restated in the breakdowns but, at least for now, I feel the need to stick as close to the original wording as possible.

Only 1 standard appears to vary from the format where all of the initial statements match the end goal(s). Professionalism is the one that feels like it breaks the pattern. The action “maintains a commitment to professional ethics” doesn’t seem to match well with “to enhance student learning” and it appears to me that the “professional growth” phrase is the one exclusively tied to enhancing student growth.

The other sheets will eventually be populated with references to our internal teacher evaluation rubric, our 21st century instruction rubric, and our teacher incentive fund rubric.

Jealous? I thought you would be.

Internet Detritus #3

This certainly won’t be a daily thing but I figured I’d keep rolling while I had some momentum.

Scumbag Congress

This was a meme created by one of Henrico County’s high school students for an English assignment with the ever awesome Mrs. Berry.

Writing Prompts

Also left behind were a bucket of live crabs, a pantomime horse, a winning EuroMillions ticket, a £50,000 Rolex watch, and a set of four Power Rangers costumes.
A pilot’s training manual, a spare car wheel, the keys to a Bugatti, and a stamp album worth £250,000 were also uncovered, as were a Persian Chinchilla kitten, a food processor, a set of false teeth, a collection of 200 masks depicting the Queen, and a diamond encrusted iPhone.

All were items left in UK hotel rooms. I’d challenge students with some of the odder selections and ask them to describe the character and write the scenario that led up to leaving that particular item behind. Various games could be played by limiting words, switching character descriptions between students prior to writing the scenario etc.

Via The Telegraph by way of Neatorama

Money Laundering

It turned out the detergent wasn’t ­being used as an ingredient in some new recipe for getting high, but instead to buy drugs themselves. Tide bottles have become ad hoc street currency, with a 150-ounce bottle going for either $5 cash or $10 worth of weed or crack cocaine. On certain corners, the detergent has earned a new nickname: “Liquid gold.” The Tide people would never sanction that tag line, of course. But this unlikely black market would not have formed if they weren’t so
good at pushing their product.

via NY Mag but begging to be led into with the idea of the rai stone rings, dog teeth, or any other odd currency. Once your students are convinced we wouldn’t use any odd form of currency you can move on to detergent.1


Old Conrad lived through it all. When he was a kid America was just a motley collection of hardscrabble British colonies. By the time he was an old man the United States was 75 years old and a rapidly emerging world power. The industrial revolution was in full swing, and other great events had occurred during his times: The French Revolution, the War of 1812, the Napoleonic wars, the year without a summer. He lived during the invention of the telegraph and the railroad and the steamboat, such things undreamed of in Conrad’s bucolic youth. And he lived to see the beginning of the age of photography.

via Doug’s Darkworld

This guy lived forever but I’d like to play around with the idea of the most change in the shortest amount of time. Students pick any start date (maybe location as well) they want and rationalize their choice based on the changes that occur during the time period they define. Make it easier and define the time period- most change in 1 year, 10 years, 20 years . . .There’s probably some fun to be had trying to create an equation that would quantify change- similar to the “too many people in the party” equation.

Gilded Lilies

Does analysis add to or detract from the appreciation of beauty? Defend your position.
Via Mental Floss


Via Spin via Collapse Board

Name That Menace

Screen Shot 2013-01-08 at 10.19.29 AM

…is far more destructive, directly or indirectly, to human life and property than any wild beast or venomous serpent. It approporiates nearly everything that man eats, and drinks many of his beverages. It follows him with its baleful influence from the cradle to the grave. It destroys his poultry and molests his domesticated animals. It has been known to attack and mutilate infants, sleepers, the sick, aged and infirm. It is the forerunner of famine, pestilence and death. It carries the germs of disease. It infects man’s ships and habitations with the dreaded plague; sets fire to his dwellings and ships, and ceases its ravages only when the house burns of the ship sinks. As if not satisfied with pursuing him through life, it follows him in death, desecrating and mutilating his mortal remains.

. . . and clearly this guy really, really disliked rats. I can’t recall how I got here (the scanned book is linked below) but there’s a lot of English fun in this passage. I’d like to lead with this and have students guess the culprit. Then I’d like them to truthfully describe fairly common things as if they were the scourge of humanity.

Via Rats and Rat Riddance

Other Things of Interest

Pykrete – sawdust reinforced ice that can stop bullets. 14% sawdust, 86% water by weight- fun variables to play with in terms of determining strength.

1 I keep envisioning huge bright orange stacks of Tide on a street corner. This seems like such an unwieldy form of currency.

Internet Detritus

Travel Time/Time Travel

One of those essential things history students (and teachers) need to keep coming back to. – via Flowing Data (which is good) via MNN (which I don’t like) who supposedly got the information from the 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States which you can find here (although I haven’t found these maps yet).


I never understood quite what was going on with hedges despite the fact that they’ve come up repeatedly in history courses and in literature. I just assumed they were dense rows of bushes. Now I know differently. Such a simple and effective way to build a fence.

Din Minimum

N0 = the critical number of guests above which each speaker will try overcome the background noise by raising his voice
K = the average number of guests in each conversational group
a = the average sound absorption coefficient of the room
V = the room’s volume
h = a properly weighted mean free path of a ray of sound
d0 = the conventional minimum distance between speakers
Sm = the minimum signal-to-noise ratio for the listeners

This equation is supposed to determine “How many guests can attend a cocktail party before it becomes too noisy for conversation?” It would be fun to mess around with equation based answers to other odd questions (validity mattering less than logical thought). It’d be fun to make equations like this for characters in books.

  • When does a hug become uncomfortable? (variables may include heat, attire, relationship to hugger, witnesses etc.)
  • How bad can food taste before I stop eating it? (variables may include time since last meal, relationship to the cook, etc.)

See the whole thing at Futility Closet

Just Interesting

Tommy Edison, a blind man, has an Instagram account and here is a video of him explaining how he uses it. There’s something really interesting about pictures taken entirely without the ability to see.

Google Search at the next level via Tony Hirst’s Delicious links. This is actually pretty good and worth looking at even if you’re good at Google.

Internet Detritus

Techno Terror

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 11.00.54 PM
McSweeny’s is full of English goodness. “When A Stranger Emails” makes for a nice “ruin-the-story-with-technology” project. So many stories/movies/poems could be ruined by technology. For instance, take W.C. Williams’ This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Replace it with –

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 11.18.39 PM

Created with

Words Matter – Calling All Chubbies

There is plenty more proof that word choice matters over at Retronaut.


If you’re a history teacher, you probably want to check out the beautiful images from Here’s the larger original. It would actually make for a pretty good writing prompt as well.

And even more randomly

7 people who hated Pride and Prejudice – help your students realize they aren’t alone. Analyze the critiques. Write your own. Write critiques of other books by other authors.

Colder than absolute zero “Oddly, another way to look at these negative temperatures is to consider them hotter than infinity, researchers added.” – That’s pretty close to either Monty Python or poetry.

And in an attempt to deal with my lack of patience I plan to either tattoo TTT on my arm or at least put up a poster. Since it’s a Scandanavian grook by physicist Piet Hein, I won’t have to use a cute kitten image for the background.

Put up in a place
where it’s easy to see
the cryptic admonishment
When you feel how depressingly
slowly you climb,
it’s well to remember that
Things Take Time.

Pop Culture Omnibus

Once again, I harvest the fruits of the Internet sea and bring them to you free of charge and without the need for a publishing house.

Ominous Summaries

I love this although I wonder how funny/interesting this would be at any sort of scale.
Via Criggo by way of Neatorama (Criggo is added to the probationary RSS feed- quick read posts and some potential for English.)

Clear Blood, Vanadium, & Good Eating


P. chilensis has two siphons that connect the animal to the surrounding ocean through its tunicin – one for exhaling and one for inhaling. It eats by inhaling the water and filtering out the edible microalgae using a moving layer of mucus in its enlarged pharynx, or branchial sac, before exhaling the water back out the other siphon. The pharynx is connected to the animal’s digestive tract, which basically acts like a mouth.

Their blood is clear and, strangely, can accumulte extremely high qualities of a mysterious and rare element called vanadium. The concentration of vanadium in the blood of P. chilensis and other tunicates can be up to 10 million times that of the surrounding seawater. Just why and how these creatures are able to accumulate vanadium in such huge quantities remains unknown.

-Quote and photo from Scientific American

I have no idea no idea what I’d use this for but I find it fascinating. I wonder if you could genetically engineer something like this to concentrate gold instead of vanadium and besides I really want to try eating some.

Via WTF pictures and then on to Wikipedia and Scientific American

Just Call Me Tom 2003942

This strange, possibly tongue in cheek, exchange in the Times from 1941 would be a nice addition to Rand’s Anthem. I find the whole structure of the communication to be fairly interesting.


Among the minor reforms that are coming would not the suppression of ‘Esquire’ in general and business correspondence be welcomed? It is a relic of mid-Victorian snobbery, and has little or nothing to commend it. I believe the United Kingdom is the only part of the Empire that uses it.

Yours truly,

Loughlan Pendred


How right Mr Loughlan Pendred is in denouncing the use of this word as ‘a relic of mid-Victorian snobbery’ and in demanding its ‘suppression’! But why does he not go further? Is not our all too frequent utterance or inscription of the word ‘Mr’ an equally gross survival from an era which men of good will can hardly mention without embarrassment and shame? I do hope Pendred will go further.

Your obedient servant,

Max Beerbohm


Beerbohm’s suggestion that the prefix ‘Mr’ should be abolished does not go far enough. We are still left with our surnames, and this is undemocratic. I demand that we should all be called by the same name, as plain a one as possible. If this should render difficult the filling up of forms, a number could be attached to each — or rather the same — name.

Yours faithfully,

Osbert Sitwell

via – Futility Closet

Safety First

Ortiz, who was a principal himself for years, said he’s never had a parent complain. “Would you have wanted me to permit wholesale running during recess?” Ortiz asked. “Or would you want me to make sure your kid is safe?”

Intentionally overly simplified via the quote but it makes me sad nonetheless.
via – The LA Times

Wicked Smart

Although you have to say it like a bad actor playing someone from Boston, I like the idea behind this.

Wicked intelligence would be organic and mimic the qualities of nature. It would branch and flow, lie still like a mountain and then blossom forth in an explosion of exuberant growth. It would be cyclic and seasonal, waxing and waning with the rhythms of habitat.

Wicked intelligence would not reside in the experience of isolated individuals. Rather, it would be intrinsically social. The diversity inherent in teams and mixed groups is vital to finding wicked solutions. Likewise, wicked intelligence is conversational, both explicitly and implicitly. It is always engaged in dialogue with diverse stakeholders and philosophies.

Naturally, wicked intelligence would be creative, playful and innovative. It reaches beyond conventional, single-plane approaches and prefers lateral movement and multi-plane solutions. It is curious about novel recombinations, especially those that cross traditional categories and disciplines. It relishes humor and is tolerant of risk, ambiguity and insecurity. It is willing to live in the midst of messy uncertainty without impulsively reaching for quick “solutions. In this process, aesthetics are vital.

Via – Exuberant Animal