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One of the most pervasive legends that still haunts archeologists is that of Atlantis. Several possible sites have actually been found, but none proven. In this case, it is actually the portion of human history swallowed up by the rising seas in what is now the English Channel. Still, for a history buff, fascinating stuff. In fact, this was alluded to in Rutherford’s book “Sarum”.
Our two-party political system has been getting worse for several elections. The question today is: Who is the worst possible person to be the president, so that I can vote for the other one? Many Americans feel they are trapped, hating those options, but not wanting to ‘waste’ their vote. But so often I hear the silly choice: “I just won’t vote.” Isn’t that an absolute waste of your vote?
Personally, I would rather make a positive vote, that is, for a person I would actually like to see elected rather than truly ‘waste’ my vote because it was negative. While Trump has the potential to be the American Hitler, Clinton is a known quantity of back-room politics as usual.
At this point, Gary Johnson is on the ballot on all 50 states, and Jill Stein is getting close to those numbers, while currently eligible as a write-in. While I am attaching an article about Johnson, I am also attaching the official site where Stein states her views. I am voting for one of them, and, if you hate the majority options, hope you will investigate these viable alternatives and vote for one of them.
If nothing else, a strong showing for a third-party candidate will send a loud message that we will no longer let the major parties force some horrendous candidate down our throats. I think that will make it a positive vote.
Long time readers of this blog may recall I have written numerous articles (see “education”) about the decline and eventual fall of the public education system in this country. Here is one of the tens of thousands of excellent articles I have read on the subject. Nearly all of the articles lamenting this trend are written by teachers; in the meanwhile, the politicians and private industry moguls who control the system just keep smiling all the way to the bank.
This article sounds like when I went back to the Oakland (CA) School District to apply for a job. I was told there was this scripted curriculum, so I asked how I could accommodate individual learning styles and promote interest. I was told, “Well, that’s difficult.” Needless to say, I said thanks, but I’ll go elsewhere.
That is one of the biggest differences between high performing schools and low performing schools. None of the high performing schools I’ve taught at limit what additional materials the teacher can introduce, nor discourage personal teaching styles designed to appeal to individual students.
I read “War and Peace” a few centuries ago (it seems), but I had no idea Tolstoy wrote essays on pacifism and philosophy that greatly influenced Ghandi and King, Jr.! Always interesting to learn more about great writers. Thanks to Abbie Lu for blogging this.
(Click on the link, then on the ensuing link for her blog.)
“We can know only that we know nothing.”
Source: Tribute to Tolstoy
I’m not a great fan of ‘formulaic writing’, but this is a very good analysis of the basic structure of all fiction.
The following article is an extremely interesting comparison between ISIS and the NRA. Whether you are pro or con on this issue, I invite you to read at least until you encounter this statement: “In the end, however, the body count tells the story.”
May you live long and prosper.
“Guns don’t kill, people kill”, and other imbecilic arguments against gun control. I have written all of these, but the one this author ignores is that I, personally, do not fear terrorists or professional criminals. I fear the average whacko in America who can get one–or a dozen–of the millions of assault rifles on the street and kill dozens of people (maybe me or my family) in a cinema, a school, or a nightclub.
This article, from the Indiana Writers’ Conference, was near and dear to my heart! I tried to use the same techniques, especially humor and research to make certain the science was accurate, in my YA novel “Miranda’s Magic”. I think it’s great that other writers are using fiction to promote an understanding and love of science in children.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
by Hardarshan S. Valia
From my nascent days of schooling in the small town of Chindwara, India, I’ve marveled at the colorful canvas of rocks displaying flow of highly colored minerals. I was lucky enough to follow my passion of the Earth’s history through schooling into my work place at Inland Steel (now Arcelor Mittal) R&D Laboratories, East Chicago, Indiana. My professional life was dedicated to studying carbon usage in the steel industry. There, I studied with amazement the magical formation of colorful carbon forms during the coal-to-coke carbonization process. To an untrained eye, coal and coke are dirty-looking materials. But looking under an optical microscope, seeing how the organic entities in coal melt into nematic liquid crystals that come closer and seem to talk to each other as they coalesce into a beautiful entity called coke, one falls in love with nature’s wonder. It is this intoxicating interaction with science that I wanted to share with others.
No, no, I did not run like Archimedes shouting, “Eureka!” because the coal-to-coke carbonization phenomenon had been observed for years, but I started to go to nearby schools to help children see the beauty of earth materials that I saw and continue to see. My work travels had taken me to many parts of the world where I would take every opportunity to amass my collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils. Like a folk storyteller, armed with my earth wares and wealth of stories, I would sing the Song of Earth and tell stories of Earth’s Evolution to children who, in my biased opinion, loved it very much. After the end of class, they were allowed to handle the specimens and make their own observations. Those years of telling tales finally ended up in my taking on a project of writing a book where my protagonist describes the evolution of life through various geologic times.
There are four points I consider in writing for children to make Geology/Earth Science attractive to them.
1) Make it scientifically correct.
Stories/films are frequently endowed with creative licenses; the brain evolves and knowledge-hungry children are able to sort out facts from fiction. This means, yes, there is a role for Science Fiction for children in an effort to ignite the “What If” moment. However, misconception should not be created when writing science genre for children. Presentation of scientific facts must be based on what we currently understand as valid science. In my story, some characters are fantastical but the science of Earth’s history is accurate.
2) Show large scale geologic phenomenon in simple form.
To show that Mountains are formed when rocks are folded or uplifted, I show them an actual slab of Marble from China where a layer of Iron-rich brown/black mineral is folded into mini-mountains amidst the backdrop of white marble.
3) Connect the unknown to the known
To show that two organisms probably evolved from a common ancestor, I show them a large rock slab that contains two straight shelled Orthoceras and three coiled shelled Ammonite fossil types of Cephalopod fossils from the Atlas Mountain Range of Southern Morocco (See Figure 2).
The fossils are from the Devonian age (359-416 million years ago). I connect them to the current relatives of Cephalopod as follows:
4) Anthropomorphism and humor are effective techniques
To make it interesting in my story, I portray how my protagonist is drowning due to turbulence in the ocean and is rescued by a cephalopod who grabs the protagonist and provides shelter in its chamber. To give interest to my fossil character, I make them talk and exhibit all ranges of anthropomorphism.
Here is a scene in my story when the protagonist first meets a Mastodon before the start of the ice age.
“Sunny, why do you carry that trunk?” I wanted to know.
“I was the Sheppard for the Pigsty family. I used my trunk as a rope to encircle smaller pigsty.” He spoke as a stand-up comedian with a serious look on his face.
“Come on, that’s not the real reason.” I knew that he was kidding around.
“I was a circus acrobat. I used my trunk to swing from the high rope,” he said seriously.
“Oh, really!” I wanted to tease him. “Show us your great swings on this tree!” I pointed to a large tree trunk before me.
“That tree won’t take my weight. I need a big tree.” He knew fully well there was no tree in sight that would support his weight.
“Come on! I need to know now. Why do you carry that trunk?” I was getting impatient.
“O.K., O.K., Small Doodle!” That is the name he used for me whenever he showed affection. Then he continued, “A big body needs big hands, a big mouth, and a big stomach so our noses and upper lips became elongated, resembling a hand-like feature, allowing us to pick up food from the ground or pluck leaves from the trees.” He said the entire thing in one breath.
“Very interesting!” I exclaimed. His explanation made perfect sense. I marveled at nature’s evolutionary processes.
This approach is how I disseminate the beauty and the science of Earth through story telling and writing to those well on their passageway from childhood to adulthood.
Hardarshan S. Valia has published stories, essays, and poems in magazines such as: Huffington Post, NWI Times, Urthona, Hub, Bitterroot, Iron & Steel Technology, Sikhnet, Sikhchic, and Sikh Review. A story entitled “India…ana” will be published in a book entitled “Undeniably Indiana” by Indiana University Press in August 2016. During his tenure as Staff Scientist at Inland Steel (now Arcelor Mittal) R&D Laboratories, East Chicago, he contributed mostly to science journals and science books. He is married and has two children. He is a member of Indiana Writers’ Consortium, Magic Hour Writers Group, Write on Hoosiers and SCBWI.
This is a wonderful blog about a fantastic writer! My daughter grew up on Beatrix Potter. With Dr. Seuss another great children’s writer, she is the best.
“I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood,
tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense.”
Beautiful words by a beautiful soul!
Helen Beatrix Potter
A whimsical and brilliant
writer and artist.
Born today July 28th in 1866.
Known mostly for her charming sweet
children’s books staring such famous characters as; Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten, and of course the timeless Peter Rabbit.
However she was more than just an enchanting
author and incredible artist. She was also a natural scientist and conservationist, and she dedicated much of herself to the passion of plants and animals.
What an astonishing women!
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