Life, Media, Politics

Protecting Your Data in The United States of Secrets

Tonight’s FRONTLINE presentation is the definition of must-see broadcast journalism. (Watch it  online here.) Everything we do via the Internet is collected by the NSA in the name of national security. Not only does this raise questions of violating the Fourth Amendment, but the NSA hasn’t collected one bit of data responsible for stopping any recent terrorist activity in the USA.

Not one.

How can we protect our data? Check out this FRONTLINE podcast with two privacy experts:


Life, Politics, Pop Culture

Mandela, Music, and the Education of a College Radio DJ

To begin, my knowledge of South Africa, apartheid, or Nelson Mandela was never formed by Toto. (Really, CBS?)

In 1980, I bought Peter Gabriel’s third album (the “Melt” cover) for the low, low price of $3.99 at Believe in Music. “Games Without Frontiers” caught my ear on WLAV, and I memorized the rest of the album lyrics after repeated plays on my portable stereo system. The final track, “Biko”, with its stark chords and African choral background piqued my interest. Who was this Biko?

Fast forward five years to my senior year at Eastern Kentucky University, home of the Colonels and fledgling campus radio station, WDMC. A 12″ mix of something called “Sun City” reached my music director desk. Great, another all-star fund raiser, I thought. We’d already worn out the grooves of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and USA for Africa’s “We Are the World”. Good songs, good causes, helped thousands of people.

But “Sun City” was different. What began as a research project by Little Steven Van Zandt became an unforgettable seven minutes of jazz, rock, rap, and pop. “Sun City” raised awareness not only of apartheid, but of the Reagan Administration’s role to stop economic sanctions against South Africa.

This song changed my way of thinking about the political power of music. As Little Steven mentioned in an interview with NPR’s Here and Now, “Not only does art transcend politics, art is politics.”

Today, as we remember the life of Madiba, and celebrate Human Rights Day, it’s important to remember these songs of social protest.

Where are the voices of protest today?

Education, Life

More Common Stories from an Uncommon Corps

This week’s musings from the best job in the world:

  • My runaway student has returned. No chance of passing this trimester, but at least he’s safe and sound.
  • One student presented me with a “Hump Day” t-shirt: “I saw it, and I knew you’d like it!” I do. And I’ll wear it tomorrow.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and increases the likelihood of Saturday School. I’ve never had so many miss school so often as I have this year.
  • One of my college students showed up this week in tears. She’s missed class the week before because her appendix burst. Afraid she’d lose credit, she forced herself to class just days after surgery. That wasn’t all, she told me. They had to remove her ovaries as well. When my students face problems like this, having them write a problem-solution essay isn’t all that important.

But today, just when the Teaching Gods knew I’d been contemplating a career change, this email arrived:


It was a delight this past week to see (our daughter’s) face as she waltzed into the house bearing the certificate for November Student of the Month.  She was so pleased to have gotten the recognition amid so many great students and caring kids.

Thank you from my wife and I for your role in our daughter’s life and for the professional attentiveness in not only appropriately challenging her academically, but also for respecting her abilities as a caring and honorable young woman.  You took a step forward in nominating her and I respect the faith and judgement which you entrusted to her.  Thank you.

Extending our support to you again as an example, leader and teacher in the trenches every day.  You are valued and to be encouraged by these simple words as well as our frequent prayers.

Teachers will tell you they don’t teach for the money. We don’t. It’s for moments like this. Just a little validation.

Life, Media, Pop Culture

57 (give or take a couple hundred) Channels and Nothin’ On

Bruce Springsteen was right when he penned “57 Channels and Nothin’ On” a couple decades ago. Fast forward 20+ years, and we have hundreds of channels to choose from, whether we watch them via cable, streaming, or DVR. More choices, right? Better for the consumer, yes?

Not so fast. Ninety percent of what we read, watch, or listen to is provided by a whopping SIX corporations. Check it out.

media consolidation