A collection of things I have read this week, and some tools for tech and/or learning new stuff, especially languages. Your first comment is checked, after that you are free to comment.

Golden Week is over, and the follow-up meant a week chock full of work. The most remarkable thing was observing teachers. For the vast majority, flying colors. I even learned a couple of new techniques. I made it a point to talk to the teachers after observation to get their take on it, and make a few comments. I have discovered that my positive comments work a lot better, most already knew what they wanted to improve on. But there was one teacher in whose class I felt in a time warp. Monotone lecture style with powerpoint, students sitting the back of the class scribbling notes (when they weren’t updating their calendars). Absolutely no interaction. I was flabbergasted. I felt like it was 1999.

I am liking the Baffler, an online magazine, more and more. This one is about white male privilege, and rule by tantrum. Another look at why the Cavanaugh confirmation hearings were business as usual, not something out of the ordinary. Teenage Pricks. (Baffler)

One of my favorite thinkers is Marilynne Robinson. In her (longish) essay she writes about economics, and humanism, and why most people live on subsistence wages. She quotes George, a 19th century economist who argues that the value of labor should be connected to the value of the things produced. Capital just sees labor as an impediment to creating more capital.

“Why, in spite of increase in productive power, do wages tend to a minimum which will give but a bare living?”

She works in Marx, George, Beecher and other older commentaries (curiously, not Piketty), along with social Darwinism and de-skilling. She takes a long hard look at where our society is going as we automate. Is Poverty Necessary? (Harpers)

It’s time to break up Facebook. Also, do you have a problem with anger? Here is how to take care of it.

Jake Adelstein takes a look at the dark underbelly of the new Reiwa Era.

Emily Short talks about classical literature and how it has influenced the ways she creates games. One of special note isn’t really a game, but different ways to translate four lines of Homer’s Odyssey. A real insight into the translation process. She also has an article in WireFrame magazine about her new translation adventure game Ancient Astronauts. Bonus content is a tutorial for Twine, the interactive fiction text engine. This is the one I will be teaching in my new Global Liberal Arts class (love those vague names, I can do pretty much anything.) Also, a view on the place of storytelling in game development. Also, how Dungeons and Dragons helps build a better learner.

Kottke loves maps. Here he points us to a video (9 min) on how New York developed. Amazing to see how slow it was at first, then in the mid-1800s, boom!

Back to conference going this year. Planning for EuroCALL in Belgium at the end of August. Went to a very nice presentation yesterday on life-long-learning at Gakushuin U. (Missed ExciteELT today.) But Thursday, I am going to a presentation at the Venture Cafe for innovators on Digital Transformation. A whole new crowd will have to bring my meishi.

Well, poo. Even moderate drinking is probably bad for you. But then, wine used to be prescribed for illnesses. What is one to think? Here is one for the critical thinking pile. Eat more rice to lose weight. Really? Also, Wolves are more friendly and altruistic than dogs.

Apple has easily accessible books on how to use photos, drawings and videos (and more) in their Everyone Can Create series. So if you are a maker, and use Apple products, these may be a help. They are free.

Most of us probably give too much homework. Min of Edu here in Japan suggest 45 mins of HW for 1 credit (besides the 90-min class). I am making a concerted effort to pare that down. Here is a tool to estimate. I double it for my students who are still learning the language.

A look at language learning apps and what they can and can’t do.

There is a special part of your brain designed for Pokemon. You just have to plug it in at the right time. Kind of like language learning. Also, some unusual “games” (more like experiences) of Angela He. Sorry to say that Letters-a written game will not be available until 2020. Can’t wait.

I am stoked to use Edji for collaborative reading in my class. Easier to use than Hypothes.is, I will let you know how it shakes out. Both these tools let a group of people highlight and comment on a common article or webpage.