The Lost Boys and the Last Days off Wiffleball

Boys come to my house in the middle of the night. I call them boys. They’re in their mid-twenties. They were boys when I met them, and boys they remain.

They come in my bedroom at 2:00 A.M. exhorting Da to get up and play with them. Sometimes I do when I don’t need to be up early. They consume everything consumable that they don’t have to cook. When they leave it’s as if a swarm of locusts has passed through, empty husks strewn everywhere.

But to understand about the lost boys and why I call them such, you first need to know about:

THE LAST DAYS OF WIFFLEBALL:
A LOVE STORY

Continue reading The Lost Boys and the Last Days off Wiffleball

Is Latin America Really Cheaper than the U.S.?

Every now and then, people ask me if Latin America is really all that much cheaper than living in the States. Or friends make comments about how I must be able to live like a king when I´m in Latin America. This is something I have briefly discussed in a previous post – Why I Like Latin America.

It is kind of a cliché idea that many gringos have – a dream of vacationing or retiring in a Latin paradise where the beer is cold and cheap. Well, that part is certainly true. The beer is cheaper… But the gringo dream encompasses much more than merely cheap beer – the gringo imagines a world where he can live a life of peace, relaxation and luxury. Continue reading Is Latin America Really Cheaper than the U.S.?

How School Reform Changed the Good Teachers

SEE! That white boy is pointing at AFRICA!

I want you to think back on your high school experiences. Try to remember the good teachers. The teachers who didn’t just teach you but inspired you or gave you perspective or honed your skills. Recall which lessons you remember well and which ones you don’t (I, for example, completely forgot that I had read Macbeth in the 10th grade and still know nothing about the play but I remember much of Julius Cesar from that same year [I should also point out that most teachers don’t have time anymore for 2 Shakespeare plays]).

I want to challenge you. Your favorite teacher, the ones you remember most fondly and who had a big impact on your life, are NOT good teachers anymore.

I firmly believe you would not recognize the courses or activities of your favorite teachers if you could retake them today. But does this make them bad teachers? The alternative is for them to lose their jobs by not meeting the Standards. The alternative is for them to spend their own money from a shrinking paycheck. They have to put in more hours at school for remediation and for giving students extra time on assignments that previous years students’ would have easily completed.

I think that for two reasons: either they had to substantially alter their curriculum or they left the profession. Schools are not the same as they were when you were in high school. If you graduated before 2004, you didn’t have to take NCLB tests like the Georgia High School Graduation Test. If you graduated before 2004, your teachers didn’t have to alter their curriculum to meet the Georgia Professional Standards. If you graduated before 2006, your school didn’t have much data to see if it passed AYP. In other words, the school systems didn’t demand two dozen (or more) days of test preparation from their schools. If you graduated before 2008, your teachers were still getting a 1% annual raise. Since then, the school systems have stopped the “step” increases and decreased teacher pay through furloughs all while hours worked have gone up. Continue reading How School Reform Changed the Good Teachers

How To Travel

A more woolly version of me about to suck marrow out of some cow knees with my students

This is the second post written to promote the Meet, Plan, Go! conference in New Orleans where I’ll be speaking on October 18th. The first post gives my case for why you should travel.

These are just my travel preferences. I can’t pretend that my preferences are objectively better.

I’ve enjoyed traveling the most when I’ve been established in one place for while. I’ve had a reason to be there besides just wanting to travel, like work or study. Working or studying gave me an automatic connection to the people working or studying with me. Being there longer gave me an opportunity to make friends the people who live there. It gave me time to appreciate the subtler aspects of the lifestyle and pick up more of the language. Continue reading How To Travel

Why Travel

Teaching a Chinese schoolkid who’s boss

This post is written to promote the Meet, Plan, Go! conference in New Orleans where I’ll be speaking on October 18th.

Everyday, we carry with us innumerable assumptions. It took us a lifetime to weave this web of assumptions. This web supports every aspect of our lives. It defines how we view the people around us. It defines what is and isn’t appropriate to say. It defines how we should look and what we should buy. It defines how and where we live. It defines how we look at ourselves in relation to the world and our sense of cosmic significance (or lack thereof).

These assumptions tell us, “You can’t get around without a car!”  “You are very important.”  “You can’t let your kids run around naked in the street!”  “You live in the best country in the world.”  “You can’t eat that animal!” Continue reading Why Travel

#OccupyWallSt and the Dilemma of Protest

I went to New York last Sunday for Finovate, but there was something else I wanted to see while I was there. Last Saturday, a few thousand individuals indignant with our current political state attended a US Day of Rage. Their slogan was “One Citizen, One Vote, One Dollar”. The message is that only citizens, not corporations, should have a say in the political process, and citizens should have their campaign contributions limited to a dollar so that everyone has the means for equal representation. The idea was built off of a call from the magazine AdBusters to “Occupy Wall Street” because of the financial industry’s privileged political status and its implications on our economy and society. By the time I got there Sunday, numbers had dissipated to a few hundred who intended to stay indefinitely. Continue reading #OccupyWallSt and the Dilemma of Protest

Technology Holding Businesses Accountable

I went to Finovate in New York City with Rebirth Financial this past week. It was a great experience for me and the company. The networking, information, advice, and press were all extremely valuable. I wrote about the event from our company’s perspective on the company blog.

There were two other companies presenting at Finovate with technology that really made me excited. Both are ways to prevent businesses from trying to pull a fast one on people who don’t know any better. I see these ideas as a way to make markets function better by removing information asymmetries that favor businesses at the expense of customers and investors. Continue reading Technology Holding Businesses Accountable

Why Greece Should Default: Its Time to Start Over

Earlier, I claimed that despite the grave consequences, Greece should default. Default would not be pretty for Greece or the rest of the world, but I firmly believe it is better than the alternative.

The international consequences of a Greek default would have a significant impact on Greece itself. When Europe’s banking system starts to collapse, its difficult to imagine many people taking trips to Santorini. It’s export markets will suffer. The conditions would not allow Greece to quickly return to prosperity. Continue reading Why Greece Should Default: Its Time to Start Over