Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘think tanks and ngo’s

CuriousGeorgeReading

The list keeps growing, but I just keep finding books out there that sound interesting. In addition, I think the lists from Signature Reads I am sharing below will be of timely interest to some readers.

Items about books I want to read:

  • Let’s open this post with something different. The curator of the Museum of Sex has written a book about her work and career there. If I ever make my way to New York City, the Museum of Sex is on my list of places I would love to visit. Anyhow, the book is titled, appropriately enough, Sex in the Museum. The book is due for publication on April of 2016.
  • On a different topic, I recently featured this article from Yes! Magazine on world hunger and how hunger statistics are often underestimated at The Itinerant Librarian. It was part of my series on “Signs the Economy is Bad.” The article also features a book on the topic that may be of interest. The book is World Hunger: 10 Myths.
  • I also featured this article from TruthDig on my other blog (same post as above) about how Americans are rushing to leave the poor behind. The article mentions the book Disciplining the Poor, which may provide some insight into why Americans are embracing such fuckery. They probably forget that, for many of them, “there but for (the deity of choice), go I.”
  • Not really a “book” in the traditional sense, but I think this report from Human Rights Watch deserves to be read and shared more as it deals with a topic very few outside the poor and the legal system that exploits them thinks about. The report is “Rubber Stamp Justice: US Courts, Debt Buying Corporations, and the Poor.” You can read it online or download the report as a PDF. I learned about this via Common Dreams.
  • After reading Skocpol’s book on the Tea Party (my review of the book and my additional reading notes on it), I figured I had enough of those people. However, the Texas Tribune recently had an analysis for Texas Democrats (gee, there is such a thing? could have fooled me) that mentions two books on Texas politics. At any rate, the books give either the Democrat analysis (what they ought to do if they ever get their act together) and the Republican view (how they went on to get power, only to then screw up the state in the process, though they do not see their regressive policies that way). The books are Turning Texas Blue by Mary Beth Rogers and Red State: An Insider’s Story of How the GOP Came to Dominate Texas Politics by Wayne Thorburn. By the way, while searching WorldCat to get the links for the books, I noticed that some libraries in Kentucky have the GOP book, but they do not have the Democrat book (yet as of this writing. While the book is newer, other libraries already have it, so yes, I am detecting a slight bias).
  • Continuing the thread of GOP and the Tea Party for one more book, there is a new book out on Tea Party women. Skocpol already discusses the topic quite a bit in her book, so I am a bit skeptical this newer book will say anything I have not read already. However, in the interest of getting to know the enemy, I am adding this one to my reading list. The book is Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Activists, and the Changing Face of the American Right. It was discussed in Ms. magazine. As of this writing, the book was still forthcoming.
  • A look at Detroit in terms of its ruin and how it has become, to be honest, a destination for ruin porn. The book is Beautiful Terrible Ruins, and it was reviewed at Inside Higher Ed.
  • For some of us, this may be a trip down memory lane. Here is a book dedicated to Disney attractions poster art. Yes, the teaser art is a valuable art collectible for some people, and there is a book about it. The book is Poster Art of the Disney Parks, and it was reviewed at Wink Books.
  • Also reviewed at Wink Books, if you have a fascination with skulls, then The Mammoth Book of Skulls may be for you.
  • I’ve always wanted to read some of the old Ian Fleming books about James Bond in light of the movies. Guys Lit Wire review Live and Let Die. On a side note, this is the Bond book I’ve seen many credit with sparking their interest in Tarot cards due to one of the characters who is a fortune teller. In fact, replicas of that deck were made (the original deck has been auctioned at least once), and today you can get it as the Tarot of the Witches deck. The deck has remained popular even as many by now do not know of its association with the film. Personally, if I can get a deck for my collection, I’d be happy.
  • Bookgasm provides a positive review of the latest (as of this post) volume in the series Best American Comics 2015.
  • Blogcritics reviews a Cuban science fiction novel that is getting translated into English. The book is A Legend of the Future. Personally, I tend to prefer reading materials originally in Spanish in the original, so here is the Spanish edition, Una leyenda del futuro.
  • SF Signal had a book trailer for Joe Hill’s The Fireman. Hill has been on my TBR for a while now, and as a horror writer, his works would fit in my horror reading challenge that I am doing this year. On a side note, a few people have told me I should try A Heart-Shaped Box, so I probably should move that up in my reading list.
  • Drinkhacker has a review of a simple guide to learning about and tasting bourbon. The book is Bourbon Curious.
  • Alison Tyler is an erotica editor whose books I have enjoyed before. I thought I had this in my TBR shelf, but it seems I did not, so adding it now. The book is Nine to Five Fantasies, and it was reviewed at BDSM Book Reviews.

 

Lists and bibliographies:

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The National Council for Teacher Quality released today a study entitled "Ed School Essentials: Evaluating the Fundamentals of Teacher Training Programs in Texas" The study focuses on the state of Texas, and it looked at 67 undergraduate programs judging them by 25 standards that concentrate on the design of the teacher education programs. In other words, they are looking at what goes into the programs in order to produce good teachers. Texas overall did not fare well. You can read the full report online as well as look over various summaries and analytical tools in order to make sense of the data. Schools of education often question the NCTQ and its methods, so you can even see how schools commented (if they chose to do so) and then how the NCTQ answered those responses as well. An interesting feature, which may be of interest to parents and prospective students is the Texas Ed. School Consumer's Guide. You can browse the list of undergraduate institutions to see how they did in a specific criterion, say standards for elementary teacher preparation, or you can search for a specific school. I ran a search for UT Tyler, which is where I am currently employed to see how our school of education did. Let's just say that the results are mixed, and that the administration did choose not to comment on the study (noted in the document). You can go to the site and look up any of the 67 schools in Texas they studied.

Overall, it seems Texas prefers to simply lean back on the fact that the TEA (Texas Education Agency) approves of their programs, or that they have NCATE approval (an accreditation agency for teacher education programs, which you can debate whether some of their standards are as strict or not. NCTQ would argue that in some cases, the NCATE standards are not as stringent as could be), so therefore a reviewer like NCTQ does not really matter. Overall, looking through the documents does give a good look at how teachers are prepared in Texas, what is failing, and what needs work.

Personally, I do find interesting that this report is not getting any press coverage or mention in any local media. I kind of wonder how our local professors would respond to it, if they even would choose to acknowledge it. I also find it interesting because this report comes in the heels of all the hoopla over the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) rewriting of school and textbook curricula that is blatantly partisan and misinformed. You can get a little background on the SBOE and social studies standards from the Texas Freedom Network here. Even historians are concerned about this (via Houston Chronicle; This is just one example. Just run a Google news search, or on the search engine of your choice. Texas meddling with educational standards is pretty much becoming a national joke). So, one has to wonder. Water and dumb down the school curriculum, and then we get a study revealing that teacher education in the state could be weak. If that does not concern folks who have an interest in giving their children a solid and substantial education that will enable those children to be productive, educated, and informed members of society, I am not sure what will.

A hat tip to Inside Higher Ed

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I may use some of these links as part of a short post later in my library's blog. For now, I am parking them here for reference purposes. As always, if any reader out there finds them helpful, feel free to explore. This list is in no particular order.

  • From the Reason Foundation, a "Taxpayer's Guide to the Stimulus." According to the site, the guide "breaks down each section of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to explain just how all that money is being spent, who is spending it, and what the whole stimulus means in layman's terms." The site does feature a section on how to read the guide and then links related to the act's provisions. They also provide links to other outside sources. 
  • ProPublica has a complete website on "Eye on the Stimulus" where they are "tracking the stimulus from bill to building, and we're organizing citizens nationwide to watchdog local stimulus projects." The site also features a very good FAQ for the federal Recovery.gov website. They also feature a Recovery Tracker database where you can see what is going to your county, or you can just click on your state to see contracts and spending at the state level. They have added items to the database that may not have been reported to the federal government (the fed does not require all recipients to report to Recovery.gov). 
  • Recovery.gov is "is the U.S. government's official website providing easy access to data related to Recovery Act Spending and allows for reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse."This is the place to start to learn about the economic stimulus efforts. The site contains a lot information.
  • The Columbia Journalism Review has put together "Bailout, Stimulus–Your Essential Guide." From the site, "in a specially commissioned study, The Audit [the CJR section that covers business journalism] here takes a look at online resources tracking the bailout and stimulus money, from government web sites to independently run operations. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s pretty good. No need to thank us. It’s what we do." This is a very good and accessible overview.
  • And if you want to know some of the people and enterprises that should be held accountable, the Center for Public Integrity has compiled "Who's Behind the Financial Meltdown? The Top 25 Subprime Lenders and their Wall Street Backers." This investigation is worth reading. 
  • And for a little bit of serious humor, which I would not include on the library post I am pondering, gives a Campus Squeeze Douchebag Report on the Big 3, that is, the CEOs of the big American auto companies, who also took stimulus money and became even more infamous when they were asked about their private jets during Congressional hearings. 

     

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