Archive for the 'Cake' Category

One Thousand

Monday, November 18th, 2013

This is Post #1000 on Shakespeare Teacher.

And there was much rejoicing throughout the land!

I shudder to think of myself doing anything one thousand times, but the evidence is right before us. Looking at my category links, about one third of the thousand posts are Thursday Morning Riddles. Roughly another third are about Shakespeare, and about a third of those are Shakespeare Anagrams. I have over 100 posts about education, and 48 of them are explicitly about Teaching Shakespeare. So if you were wondering how much of Shakespeare Teacher is actually about teaching Shakespeare, the answer is almost five percent of it.

The milestone comes at a good time because I had an unusually high amount of traffic over the past few days. It seems as though the Shakespeare Autocorrect post went viral on Facebook again. I couldn’t really track the progress, because I was at Macbeth, but the site got 320 hits on Friday, and that’s a new one-day record. Also, someone on a Reddit message board put up a link to this old post, and that brought in a lot of new visitors over the weekend.

Interestingly enough, a Hebrew-language site linked to my univocalic Hamlet lipogram. I don’t read Hebrew, but I know enough to recognize the linked text says “Hamlet” and that the article seems to be about constrained writing pieces. And impressively, most of the article itself seems to have been written without any vowels at all!

That’s a Hebrew joke, thrown in for free in honor of the thousandth post. Are we still having fun? Put me down for another thousand.

Shakespeare Follow-Up: Age of the Earth

Friday, October 11th, 2013

When, in As You Like It, Orlando threatens to die of unrequited love, the disguised Rosalind has some words of wisdom for him:

The poor world is almost six thousand years old, and in all this time there was not any man died in his own person, videlicet, in a love-cause.

Whether or not one could actually die from love will be beyond the scope of this Shakespeare Follow-Up. But we do want to examine how close is Rosalind’s estimate of the age of the planet to what we believe today.

Almost 6,000 years was a good guess for Shakespeare’s day. But today, scientists believe the Earth is over 4,500,000,000 years old, give or take. How can we account for such a breathtaking discrepancy?

Early estimates for the age of the planet were based on Biblical scripture. God created Earth “in the beginning” which puts its origin on the first day of creation. Adam was born on the 5th day, and then the begetting began. Genesis actually goes into quite a bit of detail about how old each begetter was when he begat, so a literal interpretation and little bit of arithmetic was all that was necessary to trace how much time passed since the first day of creation and pinpoint the age of the earth.

Dating creation at 4000 BC was a popular estimate during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Shortly after Shakespeare’s death, Bishop James Ussher published a chronology that placed the creation of the universe on Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC. Hey, someone has a birthday coming up!


But how many candles?

Still, nature was rife with clues that were ready for us when we were ready for them. As early as the 17th century, Nicolas Steno noticed the questions raised by fossil evidence and rock stratification, and other naturalist scientists would find reason to revise the Earth’s age gradually upwards.

In 1862, Lord Kelvin (before he was Lord Kelvin) used the cooling rate of the Earth to place its age at around 98 million years. That’s not quite there yet, but Lord Kelvin was getting warmer!

In the 20th century, scientists began measuring the decay of radioactive isotopes for dating objects that are very old. This is called “radiometric dating” or “radioactive dating,” but I’m only going to call it radiometric dating because I already have something that I call radioactive dating. Radiometric dating puts a rock native to Quebec, the Acasta Gneiss, at over 4 billion years old, and certain zircons found in Western Australia turn out to be over 4.4 billion years old. Based on non-terrestrial evidence, scientists put the age of the solar system at around 4.567 billion years, meaning the Earth can’t be any older than that. This gives us a window between 4.4 and 4.567 billion years to place our best guess.

Although science is long past the time of an Earth whose age could be measured in the thousands, the general public is not as unified. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 46% of Americans believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” Now, there is a difference between the age of the Earth and the age of the human being, but there is a lot of scientific evidence that humans have been around a lot longer than 10,000 years. Suffice it to say that the first homo sapiens are believed to have evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

But whether, in all this time, there was any man who died in a love-cause, I leave as a question for the reader.

Question of the Week

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

So, today was my birthday.

People always seem to want to know how you spent your birthday. Frankly, it’s just another day to me, so it doesn’t bother me that I spent much of it preparing for a workshop tomorrow.

The workshop is going to be on the Danielson Framework for Teaching, a 22-component system for evaluating teacher effectiveness. Last year, New York City was using three of these components, and we all had to learn them inside out. This year, we’ll be using all 22, and everyone is scrambling to catch up.

Over the next two days, my job will be to train all of the teachers in one high school on the extremely comprehensive criteria on which they will be judged.

I did some trainings on the Framework over the summer. Teachers approach it with skepticism, as experience has taught them to be cautious of new initiatives. Added to this is the reasonable perception that the system can often be hostile to teachers. But once we actually delved into the measures, the teachers generally agreed that they are fair, assuming the evaluations are implemented fairly.

I’m guessing that the Danielson Framework will be a very important part of my life between now and my next birthday, so I should say a few words about it. The 22 components are organized in four domains:

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation
Domain 2: The Classroom Environment
Domain 3: Instruction
Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

New York City is using the ratings based on the Framework as a portion of overall teacher evaluation, and Domains 2 and 3 will be 75% of that portion.

As an interesting side note, I was in Pennsylvania visiting my sister last week, and I happened to be there on the day that the kids were assigned their teachers. Parents were texting and calling each other like mad trying to determine who got what teacher and how the classes would be made up.

Out of curiosity, I asked my sister what parents look for when they decide what teachers they want their children to have. She listed a number of qualities that mainly fall into Domain 2. I asked her if parents in her community care about how much test scores improved for the class the teacher had the previous year. They couldn’t care less.

So that’s not a scientific study, but it is an enlightening data point. As we head back to school, I’d love to turn the question over to the Shakespeare teacher community.

When you send your own children back to school, what do you look for in a teacher?

Shakespeare Song Parody: Gristle

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

This is the tenth of a series of pop-music parodies for Shakespeare fans.

Bon Appetit!

Gristle
sung to the tune of “Whistle”

(With apologies to Flo Rida and the faint of heart…)

Did you get some gristle, maybe, gristle maybe?
Let me know.
I used a different kind of meat that seemed more apropos.
You just grind the bones to powder and you cook it slow.
Did you get some gristle maybe, gristle maybe?
Let me know.

I heard you like sweet pies,
But I bet you’d like meat pies;
And so now take a look,
I’m dressed like a cook,
To invite you to eat pies.

You are, my gracious lord, welcome.
And, dread queen, you too are welcome.
Ye war-like Goths sure are welcome.
Lucius and all, you are welcome.

Hope you won’t complain;
Have some more champagne;
Have one more helping.
Every bite you savor
Carries a distinctively curious flavor,
But the truth is really much graver…

Did you get some gristle, maybe, gristle maybe?
Let me know.
I used a different kind of meat that seemed more apropos.
You just grind the bones to powder and you cook it slow.
Did you get some gristle maybe, gristle maybe?
Let me know.

Gristle, maybe? Gristle, maybe?
Gristle, maybe? Gristle, maybe?

You just grind the bones whole,
Then mix with blood in a bowl.
Make sure the paste is rolled.
Use a spatula to fold.
With just one hand to hold,
The dish is best served cold.

The vilest Vandal can’t hold a candle
To these two villains, so much more than I could handle.
So I baked them into pies from corona to sandal,
‘Cause you never want to mess with Titus Andro.
I fed them to their momma, and that’s the scandal.

So amusing, so if you get some gristle, it’s confusing,
When you see now how the pies are simply oozing
With the special kind of meat that I’ve been using.

Did you get some gristle, maybe, gristle maybe?
Let me know.
I used a different kind of meat that seemed more apropos.
You just grind the bones to powder and you cook it slow.
Did you get some gristle maybe, gristle maybe?
Let me know.

Gristle, maybe? Gristle, maybe?
Gristle, maybe? Gristle, maybe?

I killed your sons; you consumed them,
In the meat pies that entombed them.
You ate your kin; that’s so trippy.
Let’s call it a family, family, family recipie.
So, dread queen, now you know – oh oh oh.
It’s like that Sweeney Todd show – oh oh.

Did you get some gristle, maybe, gristle maybe?
Let me know.
I used a different kind of meat that seemed more apropos.
You just grind the bones to powder and you cook it slow.
Did you get some gristle maybe, gristle maybe?
Let me know.

Some Context

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Taking quotes out of context is a peculiar breed of dishonesty. It carries a sense of credibility, as the person actually said the words, but that only makes the lie more powerful when the meaning isn’t preserved. Lately, we’ve seen a number of instances of a particularly virulent strain of the practice, one in which the out-of-context quote conveniently fits an existing narrative about the speaker. The liar is comforted that his lie is meant to convey a deeper truth.

For example, a while back, Mitt Romney offered the statement “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” Now, anyone watching the original speech in context understood that he was talking about his preference to retain the ability to change health insurance companies. But because the left had already characterized him as someone who had built his fortune destroying jobs, it became very easy to shorten the quote to “I like being able to fire people,” or simply “I like… to fire people.” It doesn’t really feel like lying if we believe it to be an accurate portrayal of how he really feels deep down, right?

So when Barack Obama uttered the now-famous sentence “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” Republicans didn’t care that he was referring to roads and bridges. They knew that he really believed in his heart that business owners didn’t deserve credit for their own success, so taking him out of context seemed to be fair game. In a way, it felt even more honest than leaving the quote in context. They went so far as to base their entire convention around the misleading reference, shouting back at their fictionalized idea of the president’s intentions with righteous fervor. By the end of the convention, the imaginary Barack Obama seemed so real that Clint Eastwood even tried to have a conversation with it.

Now, a video has surfaced which has raised some questions about what Mitt Romney meant when he said that it’s not his job to worry about the 47% of Americans that don’t pay federal income taxes:

Well, there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement and government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49 … I mean, he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax; 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. He’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center, that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon, in some cases, emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what he looks like.

He was talking about his job as a candidate, not as a future president. So a response of “Well, Barack Obama is president to ALL of the people” is an unfair non-sequitur. All he’s saying is that it would be a waste of his time to court the votes of the non-taxpayer, because to do so would require getting them to vote against their own entitlements, thus taking responsibility and caring for their lives.

In fact, a President Romney would indeed convince the 47% to take personal responsibility and care for their lives by helpfully removing the safety net, their dependence on which has caused them so much detriment. You’re welcome. Added to which, we are to believe that a Romney presidency will lead to an immediate American Renaissance in military strength, traditional family values, and economic prosperity for all Americans rich and poor alike. The statement just doesn’t make any sense, from Romney’s point of view, if he’s talking about himself as president.

Now, I have to admit that there’s a part of me that is a bit amused by Romney’s complaint that he’s being taken out of context. Sorry, Mitt. You built that.

But I actually think it’s important to look at what he said in context, because that in itself is disturbing enough without having to distort it. And yes, the 47% does include soldiers and seniors, but I am willing to give Governor Romney the benefit of the doubt and say that he probably wasn’t talking about them. I want to focus on what he really meant, not what we want him to have meant.

If you look at what he is saying and who he is saying it to, you can see that he is painting a very broad picture of people who pay no federal income taxes as lazy freeloaders – not just the people who receive government aid, but also people who simply pay no taxes because they don’t earn enough to tax. That would be the poor, many of whom do harder work every day than Mitt Romney or I could even imagine. Now, these people never asked for a government handout; they just benefit from a tax code that doesn’t take food off of their table. Like everyone else, they’ll pay the lowest rate possible and certainly won’t volunteer to pay more. If anyone can appreciate that, it should be Mitt Romney.

When a man who owns a car elevator bemoans at a $50,000-a-plate dinner how the working class believes that they are entitled to food, we really have to consider what that means for us as a nation. Marie Antoinette, at least, offered cake.

100,000

Friday, September 21st, 2012

This blog has just reached 100,000 hits! We haven’t done this in a while, but it’s time for the cake and SiteMeter counter!

The 100,000th hit came in at 7:27am on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 from an undisclosed location. I do know that the milestone visitor found the site via a Google search in Turkish and came in through the Shakespeare Lipogram page. I doubt the lipograms maintain their univocalic purity in Turkish, but all are welcome here.

At this point in time, there are 859 posts (including this one) in 70 categories and 2,572 comments. A recent screenshot of the blog’s Technorati Authority is chronicled below.

Thanks to all of the fans of the riddles, parodies, puzzles, and anagrams. Thanks to the Shakespeare lovers and Shakespeare teachers. Thanks to the Googlebot and people looking for living descendants of Henry VIII. Today, you all have been counted. Onward and upward!

UPDATE: A celebratory anagram.

60,000

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

We just reached 60,000 hits. Huzzah!

The 60,000th hit came in from the UK on January 19th, 2011 at 7:42pm. The visitor followed a link from The Bard Blog.

At this point in time, the blog’s Technorati authority is 123, ranking 27,873.

Once again, many thanks to all who have visited, and continue to visit. And with the increased traffic to the site lately, can 70,000 be far behind?

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

I’m the list of top songs that have charted the best;
From a bottle of malt, the amount you ingest;
I’m the third point in tennis; the winks in a rest;
And a hint is below if you haven’t yet guessed.

What am I?

* * * * *


UPDATE: Riddle solved by Asher. See comments for answer.

50,000 Hits and Counting

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately, but we just reached 50,000 hits, and so what better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to break out our favorite cake? (I didn’t get a shot of the SiteMeter counter.)

The 50,000th hit came in from Palm Bay, Florida on June 27th at 9:41pm. The visitor followed a link from this page to get here.

At this point in time, the blog’s Technorati authority is 104.

Once again, many thanks to all who have visited, and continue to visit. I can’t really say I’ve earned the last 10,000 hits, but hopefully the milestone will inspire me to return to daily posting.

3 Years and 40,000 Hits Later…

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

This blog just reached 40,000 hits, the week after celebrating its third birthday. It’s time for the cake and SiteMeter counter!

The 40,000th hit came in at 4:47pm on Thursday, January 7, 2010, via a Google search for “Totus Mundus Agit Histrionem,” the Latin translation of “All the world’s a stage.” As if to prove the point, the hit came in from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.

At this point in time, the blog’s Technorati Authority is 112. There are 636 posts (including this one) and 1,904 comments.

Once again, many thanks to all who have visited, and continue to visit.

Fans of this blog may also appreciate a link I found via the Shakespeare Geek. It’s a script of The Big Lebowski as it might have been written by Shakespeare. It’s extremely well done, and should be greatly enjoyed by fans of both the film and the playwright. It’s very appropriately called The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski.

Enjoy!