Monday, April 30, 2007

First Communion
Yesterday Regan received her first communion. Her proud aunts & uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. all gathered to wish her well and celebrate as she marked this first milestone in moral and intellectual development. We only had two young ones, so things went fast. I had a moment to think upon stories.

Above many things, this is a rite of storytelling. In the readings, we heard a tale 2000 years old, --in many ways older--of grouchy old we-don't-need-to-change elders who have no interest in allowing their group to evolve. Paul and Barnabas, as young leaders have done for ages, say, to their tribe: 'Fine. We offered. You refuse. We'll find a new group."

Later, Father spoke directly to the children, telling a story even older. The story could be of any time, of children and a father, presents and a tree. It could be in any language or any culture (where there are trees, anyway). It reminded me that one of the oldest stories in our culture--passing four thousand years-- is the tale of the Garden of Eden and the Forbidden Tree.

This day celebrated the girls, it gives them a first experience of being publicly acknowledged. Acknowledged not for individual exceptionalism, but for growing in an exceptional community. That alone is a gift too many people don't get. But it also marks our commitment to continue to pass on the stories of those who came before...and the realization that community will continue long after our encounter with troubles and joys is long gone.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Guided By iPod: iPod Tour Guide
Just in time for a nice weekend excursion,...visit your favorite museum via your iPod.
This was one of the apps that excited our imaginagtion way back when we started the project. A visit to Gettysburg (Go. Really....Go.) has the entire family mesmerized as we listened to the CD re-enacting those 3 fateful days. COmplete with cannon fire and everything, the story plays out as you drive about the battlefield. Just amazing.

Similarly, we went to the Toledo Art museum. The magic audio tour there had my brother-in-law just mesmerized. He who was reluctant to go was the last one to frag out.

So, naturally, your iPod should bring these stories to you. iTunes Museum Room is growing, and already includes the Met, MOMA, SFMOMA, Hirschorn, Smithsonian, Versaiiles, San Diego Zoo, and more!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pritzker Military Library
This one comes to us from blogger Captain Chaz (Long Live Military History). He notes that the Pritzker Military Library has long been a great resource for those in the Chicago area, and is becoming a great resource for those on the web. I guess we're in a podcast theme lately. These may be a bit steep for many users, but you might still take a look. They include interviews with Medal of Honor winners: PML Podcasts on the Web or PML Podcasts at iTunes

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Open Culture (
Here too is a great site. A compendium of things cultural in the classic sense. The directory of audiobooks and podcasts is probably the most useful. A blog keeps you up to date. There is a section for Open Culture: History, not huge but growing. Much of the content comes from old favorites like Librivox.

There's also coverage of the culture, politics, and technology of open sourcing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Quarterbacks, Faith, Family, Football, Coach Kehris
(Dept. of Forgotten Drafts - 3/2/07)
Last night's banquet featured Mount Union head coach Larry Kehris, nine-time National Championship winner, 148-2 in 15 seasons, and eight-time NCAA Coach of the Year.

Look at that again: Nine national championships. His 21 year win rate is .920--the best in college history; his winning streaks are the two longest (55 games, 54 games). This is an astounding accomplishment.

Naturally, the huge, huge question is: how? One championship takes skill, determination and luck. Two take skill, determination, and luck squared. But NINE? And this isn't Tiger Woods nine. Coach Kehris fields a different set of individuals each season. What can be done that consistently?

First, Coach looks like an academic Jim Tressel. His glasses dangle from a granny-chain around his neck. His voice is soft. You might mistake him for the finance professor. Here's what he says:
1) "I work with the quarterbacks. They control the game, so I work with them. " OK, that makes sense. Not sure what he whispers in their ear, but it must work.
2) "We practice faith, family, football. In that order.

"It happens all the time. In the spring, or early summer, a kid comes up and says, ' sister wants to get married Oct. 5. It's the big game with ___.' Young ladies do that. Here's what we tell the players: 'Go To The Wedding. This isn't rocket science. You have one or two sisters. Hopefully they get married once. Go. Have fun.'"

We live 30 miles from Massillon High, 70 from Heinz Field, 145 from The Horseshoe. We've seen a few dedicated and victorious football programs. I can't tell you why Coach Kehres loves winning so much. But you can now see why his players love winning--because they love him as he loves them.

Go forth. Take care of those on your team. +

Monday, April 23, 2007

Making History - The Calm and the Storm
It's been three years since we first told you or f Muzzy Lane Software, the company that wants to bring real action/education software to schools and homes everywhere.

This month the released their flagship product, Making History-The Calm and the Storm. CBS News has a video on use of the game in classrooms. The site has some beautiful screenshots, including:Can't say I have my copy yet. Maybe when we're not doing accounting and systems repair for others, trying to learn RAILS, fighting bureaucrats for parks, etc. Meanwhile, I hope many of you get to try it. This is the sort of thing that looks to make computers actually worthwhile and fun.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The History Blog
Old bloggers never die; they just leave an unfinished story lying around for us to stumble upon and wonder, "Whither went the author?' This one was pretty; as I write it hadn't been updated in ten months.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

LibriVox � O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
Need some audio? gives you mp3's etc. all in the public domain!

Are you an actor, needing practice and/or publicity? Grab a book or poem and pitch in. If you're an amateur, why this tells the rest of us how hard this voice bit is. Consider O Captain, My Captain. 13 versions are posted here. I tried 5-6. None really grabbed me as expressing the emotion which the words on print convey. I have no idea what Walt Whitman sounded like, but I have seen photos and descriptions of the shock and sadness of Lincoln's death. Capturing that in voice is hard.
So, apparently the way to get noticed is to create a blog, write for a week, and then switch to marketing mode to push yourself higher and higher in the buzz sphere. Well, we started year five of blogging last month, so what the heck, let's try technorati.
Here is their magic link, ipso presso, pshaah!! Work your pr magic: Technorati Profile

Saturday, April 14, 2007

12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of The Byzantine Empire RSS
This wonderful podcast was prepared by a high school history teacher at a small private school in New York. Just shows what a little passion, time when you can spare it, and the wonders of technology 2007 can bring. We love Mr. (yes its Mr., not Dr., yea!) Brownworth just for his opening page of introduction:
I've always found both of these ways of telling History distinctly and extremely uninteresting.
Earlier releases made this one of the seminal podcasts which made skeptics sit up and take notice that podcasting could be more than the music or opinion of the day. I can hardly wait for a long roadtrip to take more in.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

O'Reilly School of Technology
This interesting announcement came up yesterday. For those of us long used to getting our larnin' from a handful of publisher brands, to see that brand put on a school certainly perks some curiosity. We'll leave it to you to dig any deeper. The best news is, if you go for a certificate, you'll join me in being a Fighting Illini!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Revolutionary Battle Tactics

Here's one that illustrates well much that's right about online, sound-and-animation learning, and much that's wrong with industrialized education. There is sound here! Both a narrator and sound effects. Its simple: light enough bitwise that a dial-up user might well use it, and light enough content-wise that it won't overwhelm most students from go. And the graphics are simple but clear.

Then there's the bad part: the script is classic dry-as-dirt text-book-ese. Nothing to make you want to care about the subject, no rhetorical devices to peak your curiosity in event the mildest manner. Clauses of the sort that killed history education in schools in the first place. Active verbs? We don't need no stinkin' active verbs!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Kongregate: Play Free Online Games & Upload Your Own
This site comes from our notes at SXSW. 'Twas introduced there as aiming to be "YouTube for Games" or somesuch. Perhaps you will find some cool ideas for telling histories!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Church History Internet Archive
Happy Easter! Today a podcast on church history. This one is delivered as a set of sermons at the Denton Bible Church, and that means two things: one, it is somewhat preachy, and occasionally anti-Catholic. It also means however, that a professional speaker is at the mic. We don't hear that in many history podcasts; too many are created in a basement office by hermits scholars with voices barely audible.

iTunes has another early Christian history podcast from the North Phoenix Baptist Church.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Jamestown Adventure History Globe
This one's a bit old now, but it gives us a chance to talk about a really exciting event! The 400th anniversary of the settling of the US is just 4 weeks away!!

To learn more about the events of our big 400th, visit If you plan to go, plan for traffic--its a peninsula, don't ya know.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Selling Software - How vendors manipulate research and cheat students Oppenheimer | Education Next
The Flickering MindOppenheimer |
A new article and older book and website by author Todd Oppenheimer all take on the value of educational software. We certainly don't disagree with the overall conclusion, but the word "cheat" seems overly dramatic too.

Oppenheimer seems to get whats wrong with education, yet he confuses that with what's wrong (and right) with educational software. Indeed, its not clear he gets communications technology at all. His website makes no attempt to engage others; his "blog" has all of one entry, posted in October, 2003. The more I read here, the more the term "Luddite" (and maybe "anti-business") seems to pop into mind.

Yet here is someone on our side of the cultural/intellectual divide. Oppenheimer likely would have been at home at December's "The Narrowing K12 Curriculum" event. He may or may not agree with the majority there on particular content, but one suspects he'd definitely support more humanities of some sort. He hangs out at The Grotto, a collaborative for the Storytelling Arts.

If you're among those people who still talk of "computer literacy", "technology training" in schools, or the "digital divide" between rich and poor, these resources are for you. Definitely worth a visit.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

YouTube - Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us
We'll stick with YouTube again today, as this video on Web 2.0 is just cool. Not overly educational, but eye-catching all the same. Plus, you can look at several related videos, including a tutorial that compares web 1 and web 2 sites.

Monday, April 02, 2007

MNF-Iraq on YouTube
It's no secret that if there's an Ernie Pyle in the current war, he's not getting past any editor in NY/D.C. Those latter worthies pretty much limit the view of the war here in Ohio to Katie Couric reading the day's body count and partisan talking heads in D.C. debating the brilliant foreign policy analysts of Hollywood. PBS' talks with John Byrnes are about the only chance Joe Public gets to hear about the situation on the ground--about the war the historians will write about when the dust finally settles. is hardly what you'd want in independent war coverage, but in this climate it at least provides a glimpse into daily operations. And now they've set up on YouTube, as a place for soldiers and others to post combat and war related film. It's just up and running, but maybe cool things will happen.

Raiders of the Thundering Herd offers one example of what videographers might take off with. The video montage from USMC combat correspondent CPL Jan Bender come with no narration, but a soundtrack more in keeping with many of the soldiers' mental soundtrack. I hope it and follow on videos will inspire some great films and interactives.