About jerry474

Creative Director, Producer, Digital Publisher, and Child Literacy Advocate.

The Pope on Panhandling: Give Without Worry

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New Yorkers, if not city dwellers everywhere, might acknowledge a debt to Pope Francis this week. He has offered a concrete, permanently useful prescription for dealing with panhandlers.

It’s this: Give them the money, and don’t worry about it.

The pope’s advice, from an interview with a Milan magazine published just before the beginning of Lent, is startlingly simple. It’sscripturally sound, yet possibly confounding, even subversive.

Living in the city — especially in metropolises where homelessness is an unsolved, unending crisis — means that at some point in your day, or week, a person seeming (or claiming) to be homeless, or suffering with a disability, will ask you for help.

You probably already have a panhandler policy.

You keep walking, or not. You give, or not. Loose coins, a dollar, or just a shake of the head. Your rule may be blanket, or case-by-case.

If it’s case by case, that means you have your own on-the-spot, individualized benefits program, with a bit of means-testing, mental health and character assessment, and criminal-background check — to the extent that any of this is possible from a second or two of looking someone up and down.

Francis’ solution eliminates that effort. But it is by no means effortless.

Speaking to the magazine Scarp de’ Tenis, which means Tennis Shoes, a monthly for and about the homeless and marginalized, the pope said that giving something to someone in need is “always right.” (We’re helped here by the translation in an article from Catholic News Service.)

But what if someone uses the money for, say, a glass of wine? (A perfectly Milanese question.) His answer: If “a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life, that’s O.K. Instead, ask yourself, what do youdo on the sly? What ‘happiness’ do you seek in secret?” Another way to look at it, he said, is to recognize how you are the “luckier” one, with a home, a spouse and children, and then ask why your responsibility to help should be pushed onto someone else.

Then he posed a greater challenge. He said the way of giving is as important as the gift. You should not simply drop a bill into a cup and walk away. You must stop, look the person in the eyes, and touch his or her hands.

The reason is to preserve dignity, to see another person not as a pathology or a social condition, but as a human, with a life whose value is equal to your own. This message runs through Francis’ preaching and writings, which always seem to turn on the practical and personal, often citing the people he met and served as a parish priest in Argentina.

His teaching on divorced and remarried Catholics has infuriated some conservative critics who accuse him, unfairly, of elevating compassion over doctrine. His recent statements on refugees and immigrants are the global version of his panhandler remarks — a rebuke aimed directly at the rich nations of Europe and at the United States.

America is in the middle of a raging argument over poor outcasts. The president speaks of building walls and repelling foreigners. That toxic mind-set can be opposed in Washington, but it can also be confronted on the sidewalk. You don’t know what that guy will do with your dollar. Maybe you’d disapprove of what he does. Maybe compassion is the right call.

The four K–12 education tech trends emerging in 2017.

Meghan Bogardus Cortez outlined her top four K-12 education trends for 2017. Meghan is an associate editor with EdTech: Focus on K–12. She enjoys following all the ways technology is constantly changing our world.

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K–12 Google Chromebook sales surpassing 51 percent. President Obama declaring that computer science is for all. An explosion of augmented reality and virtual reality. In 2016, teachers, administrators and students truly were on the front lines of incredible tech innovation.

The good news is that all of this new technology didn’t deter educators from dabbling and experimenting with it. For example, last year teachers said they were more comfortable using technology than ever before. Twenty-four percent of teachers surveyed by Education Week even said they considered themselves to be “risk takers” in terms of tech use.

Here are four education technology issues that took center stage in 2016 and are sure to be trending in 2017:

1. Creating Future-Ready Networks for Future-Ready Students

Preparing students for the tech-based workforce proved to be an ongoing impetus for the future of K–12 education. However, this requires an influx of technology, such as the massive one-to-one Chromebook deployment for example.

A robust infrastructure — including strong wireless networks — is a requirement for supporting and sustaining any updates to education technology. Building a strong, scalable network is the first step to establishing a future-ready school. But schools should always be ready to change both their thinking and their networks for whatever the future brings.

Conversations schools are having now can not only impact the ‘now,’ but also are part of the future.

Another component of getting students ready for the future is making sure they are using tech as they might in the real world. GK thinks this is a huge reason to create a ubiquitous network. However, this can also be done with a shifting of the curriculum.

With Common Core Standards requiring that students employ technology and use devices with tremendous computing power, K–12 schools are getting even closer to recreating the working environments of the real world.

2. Embracing Computer Science Education for All Students

President Obama began 2016 by declaring computer science education to be a huge priority for U.S. schools looking to prepare students for the digital economy.

“In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by … offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one,” the president said in his 2016 State of the Union address.

This program began as a means to address the lack of diversity in many tech fields.

Less than 10 percent of computer scientists are African-American or Hispanic, and only 18 percent of women major in computer science at colleges and universities, the National Science Foundation reveals.

Some educators have embraced computational thinking — thinking like a computer and using concepts of computer science to solve problems — with and without technology in order to demystify the topic for the youngest of students. Tech tools like the Minecraft: Education Edition have also given students the benefit of learning engineering skills through play.

The concept of computational thinking was also embraced by The College Board when they created AP Computer Science Principles, a high school course designed make the topic accessible for more students than ever before. The course, which launched last fall, experienced the largest AP course launch ever, with over 25,000 students participating.

3. The Power of Personalized Learning Through Tech

Technology has also allowed more teachers to provide a personalized learning experience for their students, something that New Media Consortium identified as a growing factor in embracing ed tech.

GK’s Jigsaw virtual learning platform is similar the the one used at Arlington Public Schools in suburban Washington, D.C., The platform offers the ability to collect data and get live feedback from students and teachers has fueled more engagement because students are able to choose how they learn.

The platform is the perfect tool to allow each student to take charge of his or her learning experience. Additionally, more accountability has provided better learning outcomes. Technology allows teachers to be in multiple places at a time.

4. The Virtual Future of Immersive Education

Thanks to the explosion in popularity of Pokémon Go last summer, augmented reality and virtual reality have been huge buzzwords in the education world this year.

A survey found that an overwhelming 85 percent of teachers think VR is beneficial for their classrooms, but only 2 percent are currently using it. Inroads are being made as more tools come out — and make VR application a real possibility. GK is creating its first VR music book and curriculum this year.

Farewell to America Idol.

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“American Idol” kicked off its final season this year and for many viewers it will not be missed. It’s really easy to make fun of “Idol.” No one knows the recent winners and the last few years the show has had incredibly low ratings.

But lost in all the derogatory comments is the fact that “Idol” is the last singing competition to truly celebrate amateur musical performers. I think this is one of the only positive outcomes of the reality TV explosion.

Today TV is filled with people showing off beginner talents, from cooking to landscaping, flipping houses to socialites pulling out each others weaves on the streets of Atlanta. Even in an era of YouTube sensations making it big, nothing compares with a real, live talent show. There is something magical about someone being plucked from obscurity with the chance to be an actual rock star.

Sure, unassuming contestants appear on shows like NBC’s hit “The Voice”  yet those programs recruit skilled singers to audition, so you already know the competitors are talented. Originally, this was a way to avoid the awkward, terrible tryouts that made “Idol” famous. I believe the contest is a lot less interesting when a potential winner has already landed a record deal.

The best “Idol” success stories have all been about normal, everyday people with real homespun backstories.

Stories like Carrie Underwood, the college senior who had never been on a plane. Kellie Pickler, the waitress on roller skates. Jennifer Hudson, the cruise ship singer. Clay Aiken, the special education teacher. and of course Kelly Clarkson, trying to be a singer while working odd jobs.

At at the end of the day, “Idol” is still the only show where your average person can simply get in line at a local open audition and have a genuine shot at making it to the big leagues.

One reason “Idol” endured for so long is because it banked heavily on its “anyone can be a star!” premise. No matter how cynical I have become working on the fringe of the music business the potential “rags-to-riches” story is an still an alluring concept for me.

As a marketing man I find even the business model of American Idol sheer genius. The show was the brain child of producer and creator Simon Fuller . I met Simon in Tokyo before season 1 when he was looking to agencies like mine for sponsorship. He knew then he had a great concept.

Idol was beyond a craze or a fad it was an extremely successful business model that specialized in market interactivity.

The formula for this business model was simple, imagine a product, create an audience for the product, make the audience feel responsible for the product, and have the audience create the product. It puts on new spin on the adage, “If they build it they will come.”

The American Idol formula eliminated much of the risk normally associated with putting new products on the market. When Kelly Clarkson won the first contest the show’s audience had, through the process of voting for her over a several month period, already found the star they wanted and decided on the appropriate style to match.

When her first single appeared shortly after she was elected, those fans were more than happy to make it a number one title because, after all, they had helped create it.

It’s not hard to invest in something that you were a part of all along. One season 95 million voters had a hand in the selection of David Cook basically assuring his first album would be a double platinum seller. And forgetting about the record sales imagine the ad dollars earned with that size of an audience, Coca-Cola, Ford and Apple iTunes, not to mention the voting process was a boon to the relatively new phone feature from AT&T know as texting!

Idol changed TV and the recording business forever and I will miss it.

Top 8 reasons why you should seriously consider dating a British girl.

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If you have always had a passion for meeting women of different cultures and nationalities, you may have wondered whether your fantasy date is a sexy Spanish senorita, an enchanting Thai girl, or even a sultry Ukrainian woman.  I suggest perhaps that you really must consider adding a proper British girl to the mix.

I only know a handful of British girls but after meeting a very lovely Brit named Beatrice recently I composed a list of my top 8 reasons why I think you should seriously consider dating a British girl.

First and foremost they have style.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With world famous designers such as Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and Paul Smith Brits have got a style all their own. They always dress to impress and take influence from famous fashionistas such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and the latest royal trendsetter; Kate Middleton. 

They know how to dress whether it’s for a ball, the races, or a glamorous cocktail party, take a Brit with you and she will definitely know how to stand out from the crowd.

They’ve got class.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having grown up with royalty all of their lives, one thing instilled in these girls from a young age is class. They are ladylike, they have good table etiquette, they are certainly well mannered and respectable. On top of this, they can speak to anyone and will cope well in any social situation. I dropped my new friend in the middle of a party of strangers and before the end of the evening she knew something about everyone there and they knew something about her.

They have great taste in music.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                            They come from the country that produced The Beatles,The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Adele, and Coldplay – so it’s a given that their musical taste will be right on the money.

They have a great sense of humor.
                                                                                                                                                                        Britain is the land of Monty Python, Mr Bean, and The Office – dating English girls is not for those of us who don’t love to laugh, because you know she won’t take herself too seriously. They grew up watching comedy legends and they are known for their wit, their love of sarcasm, and their great sense of humor. If you want to have a fun time, you can be sure to have a good laugh with them.

They are very polite.
                                                                                                                                                                            Brits are generally very aware of others and incredibly polite. If she accidentally bumps into someone, she’ll say sorry without even thinking about it, it’s second nature. She will never forget to say “thank you” or “excuse me” and if forming an orderly queue (that is forming a “line” here in good old USA) was an Olympic sport, Britain would win gold! Rather than pushing past people, she will naturally stand in a line in any given situation – whether it’s at a bus stop, in a shop, or at an airport.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      These manners are something they have learned from a young age. They don’t like to “make a scene” so you’ll rarely see her complaining or showing herself up in public, she would rather stay quiet or say something very politely/indirectly yet succinctly to avoid embarrassment.

They are sweet, shy, and genuine.
                                                                                                                                                                            Brits are naturally reserved – she may not reveal everything and wear her heart on her sleeve the moment she meets you, but that’s all part of her charm. She guards her feelings like a family secret, and you can be sure that when she says something personal, she meant it. Even if it takes her a while longer to open up to you than other girls, you can be sure that if she says she likes you, it’s the real deal with a Brit. She rarely puts on an act or behaves falsely. Brits are as genuine as they come and you can trust what they say.

Britain is home to some serious beauties.
                                                                                                                                                                            The Spice Girls may have been your first crush, but it doesn’t stop there – the UK is home to Keira Knightly, Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz, Kate Beckinsale, Kate Moss, Elizabeth Hurley, and many more drop-dead gorgeous ladies. Who knows, your fantasy woman may be hiding in the UK?

Their accents.
                                                                                                                                                                            I’ve saved the best for last, I’ll admit it, I can’t resist Beatrice’s accent! Whether it’s the way she says your name,  “lovely” or “cup of tea” – I am happily entertained with all of her British idiosyncrasies. In fact I like her accent so much I want Beatrice to record a “proper” answering machine message for my iPhone.

If you are lucky, you may even learn some British slang. So if you’ve ever wondered what a girl meant when she said you were a “damp squib” or says what you just told her was, “a complete load of tosh” – everything will make sense if you date a British girl.

With style, elegance, and a cheeky sense of humor; British girls have a great deal to offer.

Does Google watch us every cyber second of the day?

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Did you know when you use Gmail, Google’s email service, the company scans the content of your emails and the email addresses of your correspondents?  Google’s Gmail system also scans your incoming emails, even the ones coming from Yahoo and Hotmail.

If you feel safe because you’ve deleted emails you regretted sending, think again. Google never erases its own copies, even copies of the drafts you decided not to send – even copies of incomplete messages you didn’t save as drafts. And then there are those Google servers, which route the emails of thousands of companies that apparently don’t mind running the risk that their emails will be scanned. So whether you use Gmail itself, write to someone who uses Gmail, or, in many cases, simply email, Google’s gotcha.

Is all this tracking legal? Here is what a Google executive might say: “We are protected by our Terms of Service agreement, which in turn incorporates our Privacy Policy – legally binding contracts that are easy to access on our website.

Yes, we realize that almost no one has ever read these documents, but, hey, no one ever reads their mortgage documents or credit card contracts either, and they’re certainly valid. Our agreement states that when you use any of our products or services – even if you’re not aware you are using them – you agree to let us track you. It’s that simple.”

In other words – silly us – we give Google permission to track us simply by engaging in activities (the great “free’ email account) that allowed it to track us.

The terms of service agreement also says that the information you give the company “and those we work with” (who’s that, exactly?) can be used for almost any purpose. And the privacy policy states that Google can share your dossier with just about any individual or agency based on the company’s “good faith belief” that doing so is required by law or, incredibly, that doing so will “protect…the rights, property or safety of Google.”

What do you guys think? Are we watched every cyber second of the day?

“Nanakorobi yaoki”- when life knocks you down, get back up.

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The “Daruma” doll has been highly valued in Japan through the ages as lucky charms that fulfill people’s wishes. The beginnings of the Daruma are said to be an imitation of the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma, in a Zazen seated meditation position. Bodhidharma was born in India, he later became a priest; the 28th generation to take over from the teachings of Buddha, and then he traveled to China.

Despite the many difficulties he encountered there, the indomitable spirit of Bodhidharma persisted. This captured the hearts of the people, and during heavy floods a devotee carved a statue of Bodhidharma, which is currently enshrined at the temple of Shorinzan Darumaji. After the temple opened, to provide relief for farmers hit by famine, the high priest allowed the farmers, as a side job, to make papier mache Daruma (imitations of Bodhidharma) and sell them at festivals, where they quickly caused a sensation.

The passed on prayer used nowadays of “make a wish to a Daruma and if you endeavor it will be fulfilled”, is derived from silk farmers praying for “silkworms to make good cocoons” whilst filling one eye with ink, and when this prayer is fulfilled the remaining eye is filled in with ink.  In Japanese the term “get up” is used to refer to the opening up of old silkworn shells, you are praying to the Daruma who stands for the Japanese proverb of

These days, Daruma are made in varous regions of Japan but the vast majority of papier-mache Daruma are made in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, location of Shorinzan Darumaji Temple, as well as the surrounding area, and are known as “Takasaki Daruma”.

There are many theories as to why the Daruma are painted red, but it actually derives from the clothing of Bodhidharma. Red also appears to be the color that was used for charms in ancient times. In modern day, apart from red, many other colors of Daruma have appeared, such as white, yellow and green. Not only do they also vary in size, there is also a white version used for weddings, and there are also ones where you can write on the torso.