Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Alistair Cooke on American TV, 1951

I guess I meant to say "Alistair Cooke, from 1951, speaking of American TV in those days":

Alistair Cooke might be best known to Americans as the longtime host of Masterpiece Theatre, on PBS. In England, he was a radio journalist for over sixty years.

When he died in 2004, BBC News began re-running his earlier talks. What was once news is now fascinating history.

Letter from America, Early days of Television. Alistair describes the TV programmes that were available in 1950s America. This Letter was originally heard on the BBC Home Service in January, 1951, and rebroadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Friday, 9 April, 2004.

You can read it or hear it (audio link just to the right, on that page), or both.

The description of the weather program is especially interesting, for such things having been new and also for the size of the U.S. to be so exotic to listeners in the U.K.

Here's a quote from the section about the possible effects on children:
I know what's educational but I don't think that's necessarily the same thing as what is good or bad.

There are links to others of the shows there. Thank you, Schuyler Waynforth, for this item.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Roller coasters and that

Where is this?

It was one of several aerial photos here at Crooked Brains.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Name that Tune: Michael Finnigan, Ten Little Indians

There once was a man named Michael Finnigan
He grew whiskers on his chinnigan
The wind came along and blew them in again
Poor old Michael Finnigan, begin again.

What is that tune!?

It's the same tune at the start of "Way Down Yonder in the Paw-Paw Patch" which I realize many people won't know (and which has a fancier fourth line, musically).

And Raffi sings "Bumpin' up and down in my little red wagon" to that tune with an ending kind of like Michael Finnigan's, without the endless repeats.

And "one little, two little, three little Indians" which isn't politically correct (and has yet a different little end tune).

Some fiddler or concertina player might know the generic tune-name, or older songs with that tune. I might know older songs but it's so common it's in my little-kid brain, not my adult musician brain, like the tune to the ABCs and Twinkle, twinkle little star, which many people don't realize are the same tune for years (and some will realize it when they read this). Baa baa black sheep.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunshine and Small Words

I'm interested in lyrics and poems that use all "original English" words--Germanic/Anglo-Saxon words. Without looking deeply into this, it seems to be one. On one pass, I think maybe "pay" and "turn" are from French, but they're from French a thousand years ago, so that's not bad.

Similarly small-word songs are here:

"The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball."

and many more

Sunshine go away today
I don't feel much like dancin'
Some man's gone he's tried to run my life
He don't know what he's askin'
When he tells me I better get in line
I can't hear what he's sayin'
When I grow up, I'm gonna make it mine
These ain't dues I been payin'

How much does it cost
I'll buy it
The time is all we've lost
I'll try it
If he can't even run his own life
I'll be damned if he'll run mine

Sunshine, go away today
I don't feel much like dancin'
Some man's gone he's tried to run my life
He don't know what he's askin'
Working starts to make me wonder where
Fruits of what I do are goin'
When he says in love and war all is fair
He's got cards he ain't showin'

How much does it cost
I'll buy it
The time is all we've lost
I'll try it
If he can't even run his own life
I'll be damned if he'll run mine

Sunshine, come on back another day
I promise you I'll be singin'
This old world, she's gonna turn around
Brand new bells will be ringin'

Saturday, October 4, 2008

hand pumps, siphons, water containers

One image I have in my head of how this kind of parenting works is like a hand pump. Some of you might never have used a hand pump on a well, but if it's been sitting a while or the well is deep you might pump this big long handle down and up several times, and nothing happens, but finally you hear the water and then it floods out, more water than you needed. Then the next pump can be controlled because there's water in the pipe already, and it takes just the lightest touch.

Or similarly, siphoning liquid with a short hose, where the beginning is scary and creepy and doesn't seem at all like it would work, but once it's flowing, you don't have to do anything except make sure the end of the hose is below the level of the weight of the water or whatever it is.

Learning and growth are like a limitless reservoir, but we have factors in our culture that limit our access or control or faith that it could even work, or our feeling of ownership of knowledge of growth and learning. Experts. Timetables and charts.

Just in case it would help anyone else to think of it as the flow of water but siphons and hand pumps are unfamiliar, here are some pictures (and they're just interesting anyway):

The one on the left is from Bison Pumps (in Maine). It's a modern version of the cast iron pumps I knew from the mid-20th century (center photo). On the right is a pump from Finland. They're manufacturing pumps in Ghana and Tanzania too.

This one is very interesting, and leads on to another connection: The water container is plastic, but it's a traditional pottery design. In the U.S. we have plastic water buckets, but they're a traditional metal bucket design. (Thanks to Hema Bharadwaj for the link to photos of the non-plastic water containers in use in India.)

added in March 2009, another photo of those water jugs from India. Click it to go to its source (other photos of India):

Thinking about this, though, our current plastic gallon "milk jugs" are based on pottery or glass bottles, only made squarish so they can be packed in safely and tightly for transport. Here's a combo, then: older pump on a forest service site, and people filling up modern "milk jugs" (in New Mexico or Colorado, early 21st century):

Siphoning used to be common for moving gasoline. Gross. I've seen my dad do it many times. In the 70's when gasoline prices went up, people would steal gasoline from cars. Before that, I never saw a locking gas cap. They sold metal springs (like a funnel of coiled wire) to mount inside gas tanks so a siphon hose couldn't be inserted, too.

I never thought of siphoning gasoline again until this week. We have a conversion van we've used for out of town trips. I went with Keith to Costco, the least expensive gasoline in town, and we put $102 worth of gasoline in there. Then a few days later, it wouldn't start and it's in the shop. I'm thinking "We need to get that gasoline back out of there!"

If we were to decide to do that, though, I would try to rig something with the shop vac. (Ah... there are all kinds of hand-squeeze and small-pump plastic siphons for doing this now.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fairy Tales

I've always really liked fairy tales, and when I found out there were psychologists and philosophers who saw serious depth and history in them, I was thrilled.

The topic came up on the AlwaysLearning list, and this and that was said, some of which is worth putting here for further thought and discovery.

I'm grateful to those in that discussion who had the time and knowledge to find these quotes:

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.
If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

~Albert Einstein~ Scientist (1879-1955)

More Quotes Tomorrow I'm going to bed soon.

Some of the most commonly available fairy tales are

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Hansel and Gretel
Red Riding Hood

Many of them exist in several versions, and the main collections were in Germany and France. Some are related to traditional ballads.

Some stories are generally considered "fairy tales" but they're not of that traditional, passed-down-from folklore genre. The Little Mermaid is a literary story. Hans Christian Andersen wrote short stories, he didn't collect folklore.

I was going to explain more, but I found this and it's pretty good for anyone who cares about the technicalities and terminology:


Here's another recent article on fairy tales.

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/09/21/fear_of_fairy_tales/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed6, in the Boston Globe. Fear of fairy tales, by Joanna Weiss
September 21, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Natural Learning--The UnSchool

This is where the word "unschooling" came from:

At YouTube it says this is from the 80's and while it might still have been on in those days, it was first on in the early to mid 1970's. There really were glasses like that available, too!

John Holt said that's where he got the idea. And for years people have said, "There was this 7-Up commercial...." but there it is!

I love the internet.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Eye contact and ancient instinctive behaviors

In a discussion on the Always Learning list I came to a pocket of ideas too big for that list. It might be to big for this blog, but at least it can sit here and collect clues and links over the years. Bob Collier wrote the first part. He has an evergrowing set of links and commentary with some really great stuff, and I'll put that link and the link to the discussion from which this came below. Bob:
It's interesting that maintaining eye contact is so often promoted as the 'right' way to interact with another person. It clearly in my experience doesn't produce rapport as effectively as interacting in whatever way the other person is comfortable with even if that means no eye contact at all.
I imagine there is something subtle going on as to primacy, something instinctive and inavoidable. Our culture has taught us (and our grandparents for a thousand years or more) that instinct is bad--ignore it. Strive to overcome it. Work through faith in juju, or logic as laid out by philosophers, or doing what your relatives tell you. Always let your culture be your guide—unlike that crazy Jiminy Cricket talking about thinking for yourself, only he WAS talking "conscience" and not instinct. Conscience is the collection of rules and messages and warnings we carry around to hold our problems up to (if we're lucky). Fetal alcohol syndrome can prevent that from happening. Some people harden early and have emotional scars where they should've been building a conscience. So if "make eye contact" become part of our conscience—one of the things on the checklist to do to be a right and good person—that's not bad. If "be sensitive to others" follows pretty quickly, we'll probably all survive. I can be sensitive to others who would prefer less eye contact. They could be sensitive to me by at least looking at my ear or my hair a few times so I don't feel totally ignored. If that's harder for them than my part is for me I'm sorry, but the whole culture can't sway to accommodate people with problems making eye contact or shaking hands. If gaze is part of the animal behavior we've been called on to ignore (but we can't, really, we can just be ashamed of it or accept it), then there's something to it that words and wishes can't take away. If I can make contact and someone else can't, then I'm alpha in that second, or I'm being challenging. It's the way bullies intimidate people. It's the way CEOs get ignored. It's why some adults let their mothers push them around.
It was my mention of handshakes that caused me to want to leave it alone or make it bigger. So for people who come by here, what do you think about eye contact? What have you been told, or read? What about cultures where people bow? Isn't gaze part of the formality there too, so it's taught? There will surely be more written in that topic here (starting with July 12). Bob Collier's site is WAS http://www.parental-intelligence.com/ I've amended this link to a 2008 wayback-machine save. There's a lot of reading available, but the current site (in 2022) is someone else's, and different. Bob's work earlier helped a lot of people.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dragonflies and Snake Doctors

In my yard this morning I have some little bugs that move like dragonflies but they're maybe half an inch long, if that, and if they're colorful it's not apparent. They look like one little straight piece of bug with a blur of wings around it.

When I was little, in Texas, we lived by Benbrook lake. There were lots of snake doctors everywhere. Then we moved to northern New Mexico, where there weren't any around our house or the river. Later I learned the word "dragonfly," probably out of a book.

Are all snake doctors dragonflies? And why are there ANY "snake doctors"?
What are those bugs in my yard?

If readers send me photos of any such flying creatures from their own yards and what they're called where you live, I'd be glad to put them in here. Or if you've blogged about them, please leave a blogpost link!

I know I could google, but I didn't know how far the term "snake doctor" goes and I figure some people have never heard it.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Churches of Book Worship, and other fantastic realities

A while back I brought pictures and a link to some REAL libraries, dreamscapes from the real world.

These appear to be similarly wonderful, only if you take a charge card or a sack of cash, they'll let you take a bunch of books home! Most Interesting Bookstores of the World

That site on which that bookstore collection resides is crookedbrains.net, and when you get there you will see a list of other topics such as chromed bikes, monowheels (those are somewhat related, as range goes), creativity with marbles, homemade submarine, alternate uses for containers... (I keep trying to make a list but I get all involved in another page.)

And there are links to other sites that will make it seem like no time passed at all until you realize you're hungry and need the bathroom and haven't turned the water off in your yard and... (ooops. brb)

There's an example of something I wasted spent several moments on and it's kinda sickmaking (once you click and go to its animated mama), but there's worse there for sure.

So back to uplifting...

Some artistic recycling of computer parts:

There's plenty of exploring to provide connections to last you a while! Thinking sticks. You'll never forget all of it (though you might forget some).

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mystery Art

Identify this if you can.

A clue, and a link to more photos (and a link to the answer, in the words of the artist): Mystery Art #3

If you're feeling sad that you might've missed Mystery Art numbers 1 and 2, here. I did the first two, but not this third one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Numerals and Counting

At Always Learning some people talked about having had a pattern on numerals on which they did calculations in school because teachers wouldn't let them count on their fingers, and there was a request to bring that here. Can anyone who had a personal system like that describe it?

There was also discussion there of the history of numerals. An earlier post on this blog dealt with ancient counting (aloud, names of numbers: Score! and counting sheep in prehistoric languages) but now the question is about writing numbers down.

A link was brought to this explanation. Some of us were skeptical, and someone's looking into it:

Fun With Numbers (and an illustration from that page):

Pam Sorooshian found this: http://nostalgia.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_numerals/Talk

Google will turn up tons of cool stories. Here are portals to a few:

If you have any theories or favorite stories on numerals, or sites about their history, or personal stories, please deposit those below!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Food, History, Fun!

Connecting food to history, art, music, geography and all that good stuff.

If you don't understand The Great Depression very well, here's an aid:

Follow the links—every page is wonderful.

This one is about the art of the paintings of Jello.

That Jello tour of The Great Depression is from The Gallery of Regrettable Food

Click the airplane for Sunbeam Bread's 1949 pro-bread propaganda pamphlet aimed at children, and some 21st century commentary by James Lilek. I advise you not to read it while you're eating bread or drinking any liquid.

Below is the creation of an unschooled girl named Hannah who was free to watch TV. She saw a cooking show and created this meal. I'm glad to have the photos and her mom's account! Click the photos to read.

Songs about food and about candy

But what really started me on this post was the books post before this. I had a link to a site with cakes made to look like medieval books, and it was on a quiet, still little page here. I'll leave the quote I started the post off with, and when/if I find where those photos went, I'll bring them. My cake-as-sacrifice link is still good, though.
I have a page on cake, and worshipful ceremonies related to cakes,
and this page on cakes made to look like medieval books ties those two together!

Friday, April 18, 2008

REAL libraries, and crows with coins

Keith, my husband, sent me this link: Red-Hot and Filthy Library Smut. Yeah, baby. For lovers of books or Europe or the Middle Ages or any two of those, these photos are HOT. Holy cow. I want to be there, I want to DO that.


Not being able to poke around the libraries, I poked around the blog, and found Crows and Coins, photo-commentary (with captions upon commentary) of crows with coins, and what they must (or might possibly, but probably not) be thinking!


And that's all commentary on this:

The Goal

The goal of this project is to create a device that will autonomously train crows. So far we've trained captive crows to deposit dropped coins they find on the ground in exchange for peanuts. The next step is to see how quickly we can get wild crows to learn the system, and then how quickly they can learn it from each other.

Once we've got system down for teaching coin collection we'll move to seeing how flexibly they can learn *other* tasks, like collecting garbage, sorting through discarded electronics, or maybe even search and rescue. The crows continue to amaze us with their abilities, so who knows?

In the meantime, the idea of mutually beneficial synanthropy is gaining ground. That's the concept that we can have mutually beneficial relationships with animals adapted to human ecologies. We're doing some consulting with companies that have animal-related problems to find animal-related solutions - instead of just bombing, shooting, or poisoning them.

Comments on comments on connections on connections!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New Way to Walk

Here's a little article on The Pointer Sisters and their connection with Sesame Street. I had always thought that "New Way to Walk" must be a direct parody of a Pointer Sisters' song, but I guess it's just a style parody. I started wondering...

Years later Destiny's Child performed it with muppets:

1993 version between those, made of clips from guest stars from the year or so before. (I remember when they did a similar thing with "Put Down the Duckie.") According to the Sesame Street Wiki *, this clip includes Savion Glover (famous before he was a regular on Sesame Street), Bill Irwin (Mr. Noodle, who played the uncle at Thanksgiving in "Across the Universe"), David shiner, Maya Angelou, Garth Brooks, Ruth Buzzi, Michael Chang, John Goodman, Kevin Kline, Cheech Marin, The Neville Brothers, Rosie O'Donnell and Sally Jesse Raphael.

New Way to Walk

Music by Joe Raposo
Lyrics by Mark Saltzman

I was feeling low, I was kinda blue
But that's all gone since I got something new

I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
And my new walk suits me fine

I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
And it makes my spirit shine

It's a little bit of strut and a lot of smooth
And a little bit of bouncing fine
My chin is up, my feet don't stall
When I walk my walk, I walk real tall

I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
And it shows how good I feel

This little piggy went to the market
This little piggy stayed home
This little piggy got a whole new walk
And look at these pig feet take me home

I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
And it shows I've got some sense

I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
(Walk, walk)
I got a new way to walk
And I walk with confidence

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Russian Nesting Dolls

We had nesting Santa dolls for years, and just this year I burned the chipped up unbroken few left. The wood had dried and cracked. They were inexpensive, though, from a cheap catalog that sells bulk imports.

There was a Flight of the Conchords mention of Russian dolls. And so with it already in my head, I came across a page called History of Russian nesting dolls. The translation is rough and interesting, and here are a few quotes:

"In 1918 the unique Museum of Russian and Foreign Toys was opened in Sergiev Posad. The first Russian matryoshka by S. Maliutin is a part of its exhibition."

The life and death of nesting dolls: "Private making of matryoshkas and production of other hand crafted things was forbidden in the USSR – craftsmen had to work at the factories where was no possibility neither to earn enough money for their labor (rates were quite low as at other state enterprises) nor to show their art abilities (goods had to be simple enough for mass production)."
Present time

Now Semionovo matryoshka has not the best time. The complex economic situation in Russia mirrors at these crafts too: it's harder to buy raw materials, fuel and electricity became more expensive. In these condition it hard to create something new, people instead of wage in money get just ready goods: matryoshkas, wooden spoons, wooden tableware. It press people to leave a factory and to work separately at home. Maybe it is hard in the beginning but in such conditions can be born new ideas, types, goods - there are more to room for creative activity.

We sincerely hope that Semionovo matryoshka will blossom soon and will expose us new unusual things. (From Russian-crafts.com.)

I didn't know the Soviet Union forbade home crafts. Way to kill a culture.

Above, 1970's stop-action animation from Sesame Street.
Below, Flight of the Conchords use Russian Dolls in a philosophical analogy.

For sale on e-Bay 4/6:

Added July 2008:

Some images I had above, before, quit working, so I've brought a google link to more Nesting Dolls than you could ever look at. Some are pretty funny these days!

Russian Nesting Doll image search, Google

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Photography: What about it?

What are your thoughts about photographs? How have they changed life, or how has life changed them?
At your house, what's the difference between the oldest photos you own and the newest?
What are photos good for? Bad for?

"Welcome to the Mirror Image Gallery, the place on internet for all interested in photos and history."

I like that the description said "photos and history," because photos become history. The buildings and cars behind people in documentaries become records. The surroundings of movies shot on location become history. New Orleans shows in Easy Rider is a distorted but 1960s way, and in A Love Song for Bobby Long, one neighborhood is shown in a very casual, leisurely way. It might not be there anymore, but with the passage of time it wouldn't be there any more in the way it was during the filming anyway.

"Is it a picture or a painting?" "There is recent speculation that 17th century artist Johannes Vermeer used a precurser to the camera, the Camera Obscura, to create his incredibly detailed paintings. The result is an interesting blurring between artistic and scientific mediums...." (blog post with responses and many links)

Mirrors in images, and mirror images

Miraculous Photographs

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don't Believe Everything you Hear...

I have a page called Myths too many parents believe. Someone wrote and asked me to add my opinion on why they were myths on the last four there (about writing, bedtime/jobs, self-regulation having to be taught, and not swimming right after eating), so while working on that I figured I might as well branch out and get some assistance!

I'm going to list a few things that have changed in my lifetime or not so long ago, or "truths" that turn out not to be true, and I invite you to add others. Google away, if you want to. Directions for making a clickable link in a comment field are in the sidebar, but if that's confusing to you just leave the URL and I'll come and enliven a link for you. Comments can be as long and as frequent as you want. Have fun!

Don't Believe Everything you Hear... from doctors.

"Nursing mothers have to drink lots of milk so they can make milk." Cows don't drink milk. People don't need to drink milk to create milk. It's nuts. Most adult humans are lactose intolerant anyway, but it hasn't kept schools and hospitals from giving milk out like crazy, and sometimes insisting that it be finished off.

"Four out of five doctors prefer Camels." (Magazine ads in the 1960's, which also explained how soothing to the throat smoking was, and helpful to the nerves.)

Dr. Dio Lewis, a prominent late-19th Century doctor, was sure that the northern U.S. created strong, wise men. The Carolinas had a climate that emasculated the settlers, and Southern California caused deterioration, loss of learning and of interest in ideas, and people who live in southern climates fall into gossiping. The exact quote is here.

Don't Believe Everything you Hear... from teachers.
"Your permanent record will follow you forever."
When I went to teach in the school district I had attended for ten years, I asked to see my permanent record. It was legal to make the request, and if it was going to follow me everywhere, why couldn't it be produced for a few minutes for a school employee to see? Uh.... "They're in storage and it would take a while to find it." I was like 22 years old and it had already quit following me!? I just laughed; I didn't press it. I'm just as glad not to know what insipid things were in there. The principal had written on my teacher review that I had "a good rapore with students."

"Brush your teeth up and down," which was replaced in a few years by "Brush down on the top teeth, and up on the bottom teeth," which was replaced within about a year by "Make the toothbrush go in circles." That might could go under don't believe everything you hear from doctors, but I learned it from teachers in health classes, telling us what the dental profession had learned to be crucial, tooth-saving Truth.

A friend of ours is an EMT and says mouth-to-mouth resusitation is not considered a good thing now. Lots of us who had red-cross cards over the years were told otherwise. Advice has changed on treatment of burns and on tourniquets, too. I put that under teachers instead of doctors because I learned first aid in school at in Girl Scouts. Here's one article on the changing stance, and many more can be found with a web search.

Don't Believe Everything you Hear... from parents.

"If you stick your tongue out your face will freeze like that."

Existing collection about parenting: "If I let him, he would..."

"Masturbation will [do various specific and unfounded things to] you." [Because of masturbation, "People would lose flesh, they would get weak, they would cough, and they would end up with tuberculosis, which of course he called consumption. " Read more about that here, including the original purpose of Kellogg's cornflakes. Eeyew. (And this, too, could've gone under the doctors' list but most people heard it from their parents and this might help explain why.)

"If kids play with guns they'll become violent." SandraDodd.com/peace/guns

Some of the best links and examples left in comments below might be added above. Expect the main entry to change, is what I mean to say. —Sandra

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Drapetomania, School Refusal and Hikikomori

I learned a lot of things in one day, and got up this morning to read something I was just too tired to finish reading last night.

When I read I don't mutter, so when I gasped aloud I knew I had read something worth quoting somewhere, to someone:
The hikikomori studied and interviewed for Zielenziger's book were not autistic, but bright intelligent people who have discovered independent thinking and a sense of self that the current Japanese environment cannot accommodate.

I'll get to links and references in a minute. An unschooling mom (Meghan, in California) sent me a copy of a movie, a faux documentary, that was on TV I don't get. I didn't watch it when I first got it, but yesterday I watched This is Spinal Tap and started thinking about the value of documentary-for-fun. So I pulled out that tape of "The Confederate States of America." It's a fake documentary done by a fake British Broadcasting system with a fake Canadian historian adding lots of commentary. It's all part of the one big fiction. There are commercials, because it's done as a TV documentary that breaks for commercials, but the commercials are part of the false over-all.

In the program and one of its commercials, they talked about a disease called "drapetomania," and I looked it up, figuring Wikipedia might say it was created for that documentary. No, it was, in the 19th century, a real, medical "mental illness." Drapetomania caused slaves to flee captivity.

So I thought I would look up "school refusal," which I thought would lead to a Japanese term and phenomenon. A few years ago, I spent some time with a Japanese unschooling mom who translated some of my writing (and prefers anonymity) and she said that in Japan they lock kids up in mental hospitals for "school refusal." But it turns out School Refusal was a European disease that spread to the U.S. Somewhere in there as I read, though, I came upon "Hikikomori," which can cause school refusal in Japan.

I'm just pointing out the tip of an iceberg. I don't intend to examine, map or calculate the size and weight of this iceberg. The fact that it exists is plenty for me.

During the slave period in the U.S., it was considered a mental illness to want to escape. Today, 150 years later, there are diseases to describe school children who wish they weren't required by the government to be in school, and it's a disease not to want to leave your house to go out and mingle with the culture at large.

If you don't want to read any more, I don't blame you.
If you do want to read more, I'll make it easy:

C.S.A. the Movie
School Refusal in Children and Adolescents, in The American Family Physician.
School Refusal on wikipedia, which led me to their entry on Hikikomori
which led to
Japan's nervous breakdown, by Michael Zielenziger, excerpts from his book Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created its own Lost Generation. One quote:
Unable to work, attend school, or interact with outsiders, they cannot latch onto the well-oiled conveyor belt that carries young boys from preschool through college, then deposits them directly into the workplace-a system that makes Japan seem orderly and purposeful to outsiders, even as it has begun to break down.
Unschoolers, I hope it will lead you to spend extra time with your children today, in peace and joy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Score! and counting sheep in prehistoric languages

This first is a quote from the e-mail calendar I get, which is Page-a-Day's "Schott's Almanac" calendar.

In addition to inducing somnolence, sheep are counted by shepherds to audit their flocks. Traditionally, special counting terms were used which varied across Britain and within regions. Below is one of the many (now archaic) versions:

Isle of Man Sheep

20 sheep are a ‘score

Other thoughts on this, and other lists:



I will now take as an example one of the new sets of the score, which still " holds " with some of the old shepherds of Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Sheep

1. Yan. 

2. Tan.

3. Tethera.

4. Pethera. 

5. Pimp.

6. Sethera.

7. Lethera. 

8. Hovera. 

9. Covera. 

10. Dik.

11. Yan-a-dik. 

12. Tan-a-dik. 

13. Tethera-dik. 

14. Pethera-dik. 

15. Bumpit.

16. Yan-a-bumpit. 

17. Tan-a-bumpit. 

18. Tethera-bumpit. 

19. Pethera-bumpit. 

20. Figgit (sic, ?Jiggit).

Now this is Sandra again. I've heard often that "eeny, meenie, miney, mo" is from some forgotten counting system of ancient days. Why not? Makes sense.

But reading at the link above, there was mention of those numbers being used also by older women to count their rows of knitting and to amuse children. Because of that I propose an idea (and if anyone knows of documentation that I'm right, woohoo!): I think the "counting sheep" tradition is probably from this, and further I'm going to venture to guess that there was a tune or chanting rhythm that went with that counting and that parents or grandparents "counted sheep" until a child fell asleep, like a lullabye, and that children could do it too.

Counting sheep with regular numbers seems goofy, and few people know much about sheep anyway. But in sheep-raising areas, with traditional counting schemes, starting over every time you get to 20, it could be very lulling and comforting (and boring, and possibly musical).

As to "score," it's known that there were accounting sticks, "tally sticks," and I'm figuring "score" was to make a mark (representing 20) with a knife, or a rock on a stick, or another stick on the stick.... a literal score: a shallow cut.

No doubt a score or more of anthro- archeo- and historologists have all thought of these things, but it was fun to think of them myself, based on the randomish trivia I ordered up and the hundred-year-old account I googled up to go with it.

Tally stick images, some fancy ones and some plainer ones (photos are links):

And simple everyday tally sticks used to be marked like this sometimes:

Here's one for noting gold exchange: The marks were made on a whole stick, and then the stick was split so each in the transaction had a copy.

No image, but an article here talks about cricket scores being kept on tally sticks in the late 19th century.

Some sheep-counting sticks:
(you might need to click on the tally link there)
"In the Lake district the shepherds may still be heard counting sheep with the following words, some of which are like Welsh numbers: "Yan, Tan, Tethera, Methera, Pimp, Sethera, Lehtera, Hovera, Dovera, Dick, Yan-a-Dik, Tan-a-Dick, Tethera-a-Dick, Methera-a-Dick, Bumfit, Yan-a-Bumfit,Tethera-a-Bumfit, Methera-a-Bumfit, Giggot."

Sunday, January 20, 2008


This can go serious or silly or both, but I want to look at "Culture"—what it is and how people deal with it. Subcultures. Foreign cultures. Predominant Western cultural expectations.

What do anthropologists say is involved in culture?

How does a person learn the expectations of a subculture?

What does this have to do with yogurt and pearls?

Talk amongst yourselves here in public.

In finding the images and links, I did find that the motto of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is “By culture and merit.” I'm curious. Click the toga-thing for more on fraternity and sorority culture.

AHA!! I was waiting for someone to write something like this:
I know there are a lot of teens out there that don't want to interact with their parents, because they can't have an honest relationship with them. I believe our culture encourages the great divide between kids and their parents mainly by encouraging an authoritarian parenting/family style which pervades every segment of society. By this I mean, the schools, the workplace and social situations.
I think a lot of homeschoolers, especially unschoolers, have a culture unto themselves. It's a culture of mutual respect, communication, understanding, and cooperation. Sadly, I believe there are many, many kids out there who never get a chance to experience this culture in their lives and they will go on perpetuating the division between the ages.

The emphasis was added. The writing is by Meghan Anderson-Coates on the Always Learning list.

We're discussing this article
http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/ptech/01/23/technological.turfwar.ap/index.html which says kids don't want adults on MySpace of Facebook. That's here for those who are on Always Learning or might want to join to read the archives.

I let posts through from a guy running a wilderness camp who's pushing their encouragement of a culture of children. Here was his explanation, but nobody got back to him about it yet, I don't think. I've been merrily distracted with lots of fun stuff, myself.
By "children's culture" I mean a group of children with their own
culture. This happens wherever there are groups of children - they
have their own games, language, conflict-resolution techniques, ect.
We are intentionally trying to foster this, and the difference
between saying "we just want more kids" is that we know it's what
our children need. In school and in sports they are clustered into
peer groups where they learn they need to compete for
attention/acceptance. But humans weren't evolved to learn this way.
In the small clans where we evolved our natural learning styles
children would spend their days with those older and younger than
them, following in the example of the older and providing a bridge
for the younger.

What about the kids just being a part of the real culture? But I think at that camp even the adults don't want to be a part of regular culture. They're making their own too, but for some reason not all-in-one with the kids. teachingdrum.org

Saturday, January 5, 2008


A request for topic from Deb Cunefare: walls (because I've "run into" many recently)

What kinds of walls? Between fields? Of houses? Hadrian and China? Metaphorical or figurative? Fabled?

If this is making you think of songs about walls, go and play!
Also there are links from those four photos there, to the wall in York, Great Wall of China, stone walls in Ireland and a recycled concrete wall in Albuquerque.

The Great Wall of Target

Live links from comments (you can see commentary and intros below).


(that address was outdated but I think I have the link working anyway)



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