Come and Take It: the Sparta Connection

Texas_Flag_Come_and_Take_ItIts  impossible to live in Texas without having heard about the Battle of Gonzales.  What many may not know is this battle’s Classical connection.

First a refresher for those who may have forgotten.  The Battle of Gonzales was a minor skirmish fought in 1835 between a detachment of cavalry from the Mexican Army and band of Texians from the city of Gonzales which lies about 70 miles east of San Antonio and 70 miles south of Austin. And yes “Texians” is spelled correctly.  Texian (with an i) refers to citizens of Texas before it became a part of the United States, more specifically to people who supported Texas independence.

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America’s Epicurean Side

epicurusIf I said America had an Epicurean side to it, most people would either blink their eyes and fuddle their brows in a vain attempt to understand what I said or let out a collective sigh or a sarcastic exhalation. But I am serious.  American has an Epicurean side.  And by Epicurean I do not mean the easily lampooned version of Epicureanism which amounts to perpetual and severe over-indulgence.  The correct term for that is hedonism.  Rather, I mean Epicurean philosophy can be seen as a unifying principle behind several key and seemingly disparate aspects of American society.

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TED Talks and the Death of the College Lecture

Lecture_hallFor the last 10-20 years, people have been prophesying the death of the college lecture.  The caricature of the typical college lecture course has become iconic in the college movies of the last 30 years: large, boring, droning, easily skip-able.  To counter this perception, colleges typically market their small class sizes and the discussion basis of their courses. Great Books programs and schools have sprung up all over the place claiming the text as teacher and trying to produce an education simply by reading and discussing.  Such a method, it is argued, is how education was intended…and where it is headed again.  But before we sound its death knell and throw it overboard, I think it is worth saying that the lecture is not dead.  And what proves it: TED talks.  Continue reading

Gauging Your Online Importance

social mediaSocial media is one big junior high dance: Everyone alternating between being shy and outlandish, all in the desperate hope of getting notice.  And like the junior high dance, you slowly realize that a lot of people are looking to get noticed, but they aren’t noticing others.  They are trying to be heard but no one is listening to each other.  The myriad social media possibilities give us more ways than ever to broadcast ourselves.  We, like SETI, beam ourselves into a cold dark universe hoping for a response.  But how do we know if anyone is listening?  How can you tell if you are a big deal?  To help those looking for an answer to this questions, I have developed the following equations which I hope will help one gauge and clarify one’s place in the great chain of online being.
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