Archive for February, 2009

Detroit II: Comerica Park

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment


Last weekend Gail and I were in the Detroit area, as I mentioned in a brief post a few days ago. At the top of the post was a picture of Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers baseball team. As I explained near the end of the post, we drove by it last Sunday afternoon after lunch in Greektown. The photo was taken from the Tigers’ website. I’m following up in this post so I can include two photos that Gail took as we drove by. Several inches of snow fell Saturday afternoon, with a tiny bit more falling overnight, the result of which can be seen in the photos.

Comerica Park opened for the 2000 baseball season, replacing famed Tiger Stadium, which itself opened on April 12, 1912, the very same day as Fenway Park. As part of our drive around Detroit last Sunday, we also drove by what’s left of Tiger Stadium, at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. We were fortunate to see a game there before it was too late. On our way to New York for Father’s Day in 1999, Tiger Stadium’s last season, we arranged to stop first in Detroit and took in a game at the end of an exciting day, which also included visits to the Motown Historical Museum and the Detroit Institute of Arts. The next day we drove to Dearborn to visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. (Greenfield Village is an amazing place. Do you want to see the Wright Brothers’ cycle shop? Don’t go to Dayton, Ohio. Go to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Do you want to see Thomas Edison’s workshop? Don’t go to Menlo Park, New Jersey. Go to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. That’s where they are. And the presidential limo President Kennedy was in when he was assassinated? That’s there too, next door in the Henry Ford Museum.) That night we drove over the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario for dinner.

Last weekend’s trip was less exciting. Greenfield Village closes in winter. The Tigers were just starting spring training in Lakeland, Florida. But we did see Comerica Park. I’ll close with another photo of it that Gail took.


Categories: Sports, Travel

Quote of the Day

February 24, 2009 Leave a comment


We all know that teachers don’t get no respect, in certain quarters anyway. Those who dis them make silly statements about their short workdays, their free summers, and so on. (I’m talking about K-12 teachers, not us university teachers.) It was refreshing to hear a stunning statement of praise for them today.

Our Dean of Education arranged a meeting for this afternoon at which some science education experts in her College and one science education non-expert (me) could talk to Lee Hartwell about some of the efforts going on at the university. Lee has been a member of the UW faculty since 1968, joined the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“The Hutch”) in 1996, and has been its president and director since 1997. He is also a recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. He has become interested in science education and how we are preparing science teachers. Hence the meeting, at which we had a fabulous discussion for over an hour and a half. Early in the conversation, Lee provided the promised quote:

It’s more demanding to be a classroom teacher than to be a scientist.

How about that? No one disagreed.

Categories: Education, Science

Downfall of Grammar

February 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Perhaps you are familiar with the web craze of recent months in which English subtitles are put on a particular scene from the 2004 German-Austrian film Downfall (nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar). The movie is about Hitler’s final days and the scene has Hitler exploding in anger at his staff. You can read more about the craze, for instance, here.

Above is one example that was featured in a post by Mark Liberman at the Language Log blog today. At issue is the phony grammar rule that one can’t end a sentence with a preposition. You can read more about the rule and previous discussions of it in Liberman’s post and its references. But first, enjoy the video.

Categories: Culture, Film, Language

Detroit Trip

February 24, 2009 Leave a comment


I’m still here. I didn’t get around to blogging over the weekend because Gail and I headed out of town Friday morning and got back very late Sunday night, and I’ve been catching up on other business since our return. We spent the weekend in Detroit. Why? Well, that’s a story for another time. Several of our adventures would be worthy of posts. But not now. Let me just do the briefest of restaurant roundups.

We got to our hotel, the Dearborn Hyatt, after 9:00 PM Friday night, so we stayed in and ate in the hotel restaurant, Giulio. And Saturday, in the midst of the snow that fell all afternoon, we had lunch at Al-Ameer, a Lebanese and Middle-Eastern restaurant that a Dearborn native who was eating in Giulio Friday night recommended as the authentic Arab-American restaurant in Dearborn. (Dearborn is about 30% Arab-American, home to the Arab American National Museum.) Sunday we had lunch in Detroit’s Greektown, at Olympia Restaurant. I can recommend it highly if you want to dine while Greek music blasts through most of the restaurant but a TV tuned to ESPN hangs above the tables in the non-smoking section with bowling on high volume to be heard over the music. Makes for great conversation. Opa! (The waiter shouted this whenever he set on fire some dish that a couple of different tables ordered.)

Just a few blocks north of the Olympia Restaurant is Ford Field, the Detroit Lions football stadium, which we drove by after lunch. Not too interesting from the outside. But immediately west is Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers field, which is interesting. The whole western side has assorted gigantic tiger sculptures, such as the one above.

Gail, Joel, and I took a trip to Detroit just before Father’s Day in 1999 so we could see a baseball game Tiger Stadium in its final year of service. We never got back to see the Tigers play at Comerica. Now that we got a look at Comerica, we’re eager to return.

More on Detroit in a future post.

Categories: Travel

In Praise of Librarians

February 16, 2009 Leave a comment


Today’s New York Times has a great front-page feature article by Motoko Rich on school libraries, starring Stephanie Rosalia, the librarian at P.S. 225 in the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn. The good news is that she is doing fabulous work. The bad news is that school librarians are among the first to go in budget cuts.

Ms. Rosalia sounds like a gem. My favorite line from her is, “We are teaching them how to think. But sometimes the Board of Ed seems to want them to learn how to fill in little bubbles.”

The article opens with an example of the kind of teaching (yes, teaching) that Ms. Rosalia does:
Read more…

Categories: Books, Culture, Education, Music

An Evening with Mindi Abair

February 15, 2009 Leave a comment


If it weren’t for the photo above, you might well wonder, “Who is Mindi Abair?” But the photo gives away that whatever else she is, she’s a saxophonist. And so she is. You might also wonder why we spent an evening with her. Well, not just the three of us — Mindi, Gail, and me. We shared Mindi and her band with a few hundred others last night at her Valentine’s Day performance at Seattle’s Jazz Alley.

Here’s how we ended up there.
Read more…

Categories: Music, Restaurants

Religion and Free Speech

February 15, 2009 Leave a comment


Mark Liberman at Language Log had a post yesterday that brought to my attention a recent article in The Independent by British writer and journalist Johann Hari and some of the developments since the article was published. I now bring Hari’s article to your attention, as well as a follow-up piece.

Hari’s initial article is titled “Why should I respect these oppressive religions?” and subtitled “Whenever a religious belief is criticised, its adherents say they’re victims of ‘prejudice’.” It’s worth reading. Here is the opening passage:
Read more…

Categories: Culture, Politics, Religion

We’re All Economists Now

February 15, 2009 Leave a comment


I don’t hear Dr. Science on NPR anymore, but years ago I always enjoyed the regular broadcasts of Ask Dr. Science, courtesy of Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre. And I never got tired of the two essential taglines: “He knows more than you do!” and “He has a Master’s Degree — in Science!”

I was reminded of Dr. Science yesterday when I read the NYT op-ed piece on the economy by Paul Ryan, the Republican representative of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. Congressman Ryan opens with the warning that “Congress has made a terrible mistake.” Evidently, Congress overlooked the “more dangerous consequences” of the stimulus bill, which is likely to produce a return to the high inflation and unemployment — stagflation — of the 1970s. Ryan further warns that ” individual earning power will evaporate, and our standard of living will decline.” (Hadn’t that been going on throughout the Bush presidency, except for a fortunate few?)

I got a little curious about Congressman Ryan’s background, so I went to the biography at his website, where I was relieved to learn that he earned a Bachelor’s in economics and political science at Miami University. Evidently he knows more than we do. He has a Bachelor’s Degree — in Economics!

And let’s not forget the US Senate’s good fortune that one of the noted macro-economists of our time, Susan Collins, resides there. I am eager to see the full details of her analysis that any stimulus package costing $800 billion or more would lead to ruin, but $787 billion is just right.

I once thought that the television show West Wing went a little overboard in silliness in having its fictional president, Josiah Bartlet, hold a Nobel Prize in economics. Now I realize I was wrong. Congress is full of economists of such stature. We’re lucky.

Categories: Politics

An Essay Triptych

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment
Annunciation Triptych

Annunciation Triptych

Wednesday afternoon, during one of my periodic breaks from work to check the latest on the blogs, I learned from the New Yorker’s Rick Hertzberg of a fantastic essay by Zadie Smith in the latest issue of the competition, The New York Review of Books. He didn’t pull his punches, leading with “Please, I beg you: drop whatever you’re doing and read “Speaking In Tongues,” Zadie Smith’s brilliant meditation on Barack Obama.” Well, I sure was tempted, but you know, as many articles as I read now on my computer screen, it’s not the place where I want to read great writing. I decided to wait until the print issue arrived at home. And to my delight, it had already arrived. I just had to go home to find it.

Once I got home, I had to decide about the relative urgency of getting dinner organized, doing more blog catch-up, making more progress on grading the week’s course assignment, and dropping it all to read Zadie. Since Zadie’s piece comes in three convenient sections, I made the inane decision to read a section at a time, squeezing the rest of my life in between. I wouldn’t take this as evidence that I can no longer read more than a page or two at a sitting. I still can. Really. But not at the moment that I get home from school. There are too many other things to catch up on.

How great was Zadie Smith’s essay? You know how it is when someone tells you something is great. I knew she hadn’t just come down from Mt. Sinai with a third tablet, but I was ready for it. Instead, what I got was absolutely first rate. I’ll join Hertzberg in saying you should read her piece. Read his blog commentary on it too. Here’s a sample from the essay:
Read more…

Categories: Culture, Geography, Politics


February 10, 2009 1 comment


Stump, the 10-year-old Sussex Spaniel, was judged best of the Sporting Group earlier this evening at the Westminster Kennel Club 133rd Annual Dog Show, then judged Best in Show. A worthy champion. A wildly popular choice. A great back story. (Best in group also in 2004, fell mysteriously ill early in 2005, near death, saved by staff at Texas A&M, returned to health, back in competition, oldest best-in-show winner in history.) What more is there to say?

Categories: Animals, Sports