September 2021

Things I Heard This Week

Feeding the BirdsI teach in a district that’s had some struggles in recent years. We’re majority-minority and 100% of my kids are “free and reduced lunch” (mostly “free”). Add in eighteen months of not having real school and the fact that most of the schools feeding into mine are already under state “control” (an ironic term by any measure), and it’s easy to grow discouraged. There aren’t always those “breakthrough” moments you count on to stay motivated - personally or academically. 

All the more reason to build a few monuments to the encouraging or amusing episodes which do occur from time to time. Here are three from this past week.

The "Fallon Treaties" (Part Two)

The British had for years flirted with the idea of building a canal right through Central America to allow their massive navy easier access from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Over time, the U.S. started thinking maybe that actually wasn’t such a bad idea – although they, of course, assumed American merchants and military vessels as the primary beneficiaries. Neither side was ready to push ahead with such an ambitious project, but each began worrying that perhaps the other would – perhaps cutting them out in the process.

In the meantime, they at least agreed on the most natural location of such a venture. The geography, the political dynamics, even the catchy name once completed:

The “Nicaragua Canal.”

The "Fallon Treaties" (Part One)

Several years ago, talk show host Jimmy Fallon did a wonderful bit with planted audience members in which they argued about which historical treaties were the coolest. The humor was built on the relative obscurity and banality of the treaties being discussed contrasted with the passion shown by the faux audience members. In other words, it was engaging because the subject matter was presumed to be so boring that no one could possibly care about it that much – and yet, they did.

Sound familiar?