CommComm posted on October 3, 2012 06:15

I read with interest how Stanford is going hook, line and sinker into flipping their classrooms. The very first sentence reveals a belief in such a forward-looking system that, by it's very design, is meant to become revolutionary in nature. They're completely buying into the new learning jumbalaya of using class time for more rigorous and engaging activities than lectures. Case you didn't know, lectures are now passé. Lectures are no longer tres chic, they're tres snore. No, that's not a hint of cynicism. There are many who may snicker at all the shiny new educational mental toys, but I wouldn't be one.

Like many sideline observers, we're curious how it all plays out. We, the almost-maybe-possibly-converted-but-still-as-yet-unconverted, are wondering if all this flipping is about better learning or a better learning lifestyle, that happens to involve learning. As the article mentions, there is a call to "show me the data," but it's still too early for data. However, we're all well aware of the success of Khan Academy and Khan boasts a nearly Roman gladiatorial spectacle of videos, online talks and a "knowledge map" that's completely to die for. And do they EVER have a following. Egad---but they sure enough do indeed.

Maybe, as flipped clasrooms begin to take a foothold, those are the only real numbers and data we'll need to look at. It forces us to ask ourselves: are we facing a completely new educational paradigm that's real and irrefutably genuine? Or, are the practitioners only passing along some sweet syrupy drug to assist the ailing cosmology of faltering academia. The Italian Playwright Pirandello says, "Right you are, if you think you are". Sometimes invention and hubris walk in the same footsteps. Not a bad thing. Fresh ideas and directions are rarely polite. They never ask permission. Right now it appears----we roll with the new.  

Alonzo LaMont

CommComm posted on December 1, 2010 05:03

Again, I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the Welch Photo Contest. We had some very passionate picture-takers, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. I was quite touched by the response and the genuine enthusiasm folks expressed over their pictures. Here's a look-see at the runners-uppers photos, along with our winning snapshot.

Jacqueline Woodruff's "Reflection" and "Sunmaid Girls" cast a wonderful spell over us, and after meeting Jacqueline it's no wonder. She lives an adventuresome life that goes between her home in Florida and working full-time in Mt. Washington, and getting out and about taking pictures everywhere (she sent me one when she was out at Conowingo Dam). Jacqueline is an avid photographer, and is preparing to take a "serious" (this ain't no point n' click seminar) class in photography. In the short time we met, I discovered she loves country music (just came back from a Carrie Underwood soirree), traveling and Alonzo's personal favorite----bicycling! How bout that.  


Shelly Choo's "Most Exotic Locale" made everyone give a collective "awwwwwwwww"......and her "Happiest Shot" made me want to get out and jump into that sun-kissed early morning water. Well somebody had all that sunrise to themselves.  


Quynh Tran was a pure hoot with her "Best Shameless Self-Promotion," especially considering she was a bit shy about letting me take her picture for the blog. She didn't agree to have it taken, but we both laughed about it----that's how it goes. Her "Best Inside Welch" shot made a typical Welch carrel look like some digital hobbit's playground....


Thomas Hartung's "Best Baltimore" shot resembled an overdose in german expressionism (please don't ask how little---I mean how MUCH I know about german expressionism)....

And his "Best Inclusion of an Animal (in a humane manner)" ---titled "If I was real, this would taste sooooooo good"  was a riot. Thomas, an opening act in Vegas has your name on it.



 Teraneh Zarififar's "Most Extreme" shot looked like somebody was doing stunt work in Hollywood...



 And her "Best Laptop shot" had a mouthful of preciousness...till you realized she was playing some kinda video game---hey, who needs a cure for the common cold, I've got 15,000 points! Just kidding Teraneh, I know you and Dashil Jhaveri are hard at work in the lab. (They must be to get to travel so much, I think I'll contact them instead of tripadvisor)

Dashil's "Highest Elevation" and "Furthest Away" shots contrasted quite nicely with his other I'm-having-the-time-of-my-life contributions.


I don't know if anyone could have more fun taking pictures than Teraneh and Dashil. And it showed.

And here's Emilee Flynn's "Most Creative shot" ("Walk like an Egyptian") that ran off with the backpack and goodies.


I want to thank all our judges, for their patience. Also, let's give a great big hand to Victoria Goode who helped steer the Photo Contest ship, and threw in some extra special Informationist wisdom just for good measure. And finally to Nancy Roderer, who allowed us to have a little fun and go a little off-course from our daily routines here at Welch. 

Alonzo LaMont 



Posted in: Arts & Culture , Baltimore Community  Tags:
CommComm posted on November 12, 2010 17:59

Dashil Jhaveri and Teraneh Zarififar are quite the joyful couple, and why wouldn't they after being part of our runners-up Photo Contest winners. They made time out of their hectic schedule to mosey on over to Welch for me to snap a shot. Both expressed how much fun it was to submit their pictures, and wouldn't mind if we had the Contest AGAIN next year. Dashil mentioned how they and their friends sometimes get together and take pictures of everyone jumping---that's right---just jumping (no doubt for joy)! 



Alonzo LaMont

CommComm posted on November 12, 2010 17:51

Welch Photo Contest winner Emilee Flynn looking smart with her brand new backpack (and also nalgene bottle and a few other goodies). Emilee was a gem to meet me outside the Daily Grind in the BRB on a sunny afternoon. Excited to win the contest, she was all all-glow to receive her new stuff. I was going to keep the backpack for myself, but that wouldn't be nice.  


Alonzo LaMont

CommComm posted on September 24, 2010 17:52


Thought I'd send along this along. The kids are finally back at school. Things have settled down. Why not take a moment and ENJOY SOME GRAPE! Especially since it's sponsored by our very own Johns Hopkins.

CommComm posted on June 15, 2010 00:30

This is a fabulous place to see Shakespeare. It's outside, you can sit back and enjoy a little vino and the trees and the darkness become a special character. Just a summertime suggestion, sez I.

Baltimore Shakespeare Festival - Home.mht (2.39 mb)


Alonzo LaMont


CommComm posted on June 7, 2010 00:16

Sorry for the inconvenience to one and all, the link was badddddddddd. But VOILA! I cutted. And I pasted. And I clicked my heels like Dorothy hoping to get back to OZ. And magically......we now have "The 10 Most Disturbing Scientific Discoveries" magically appear. BEHOLD.


Science can be glorious; it can bring clarity to a chaotic world. But big scientific discoveries are by nature counterintuitive and sometimes shocking. Here are ten of the biggest threats to our peace of mind.

1. The Earth is not the center of the universe.

We’ve had more than 400 years to get used to the idea, but it’s still a little unsettling. Anyone can plainly see that the Sun and stars rise in the east, sweep across the sky and set in the west; the Earth feels stable and stationary. When Copernicus proposed that the Earth and other planets instead orbit the Sun,

… his contemporaries found his massive logical leap “patently absurd,” says Owen Gingerich of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “It would take several generations to sink in. Very few scholars saw it as a real description of the universe.”

Galileo got more grief for the idea than Copernicus did. He used a telescope to provide evidence for the heliocentric theory, and some of his contemporaries were so disturbed by what the new invention revealed—craters on a supposedly perfectly spherical moon, other moons circling Jupiter—that they refused to look through the device. More dangerous than defying common sense, though, was Galileo’s defiance of the Catholic Church. Scripture said that the Sun revolved around the Earth, and the Holy Office of the Inquisition found Galileo guilty of heresy for saying otherwise.

2. The microbes are gaining on us.

Antibiotics and vaccines have saved millions of lives; without these wonders of modern medicine, many of us would have died in childhood of polio, mumps or smallpox. But some microbes are evolving faster than we can find ways to fight them.

The influenza virus mutates so quickly that last year’s vaccination is usually ineffective against this year’s bug. Hospitals are infested with antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus bacteria that can turn a small cut into a limb- or life-threatening infection. And new diseases keep jumping from animals to humans—ebola from apes, SARS from masked palm civets, hantavirus from rodents, bird flu from birds, swine flu from swine. Even tuberculosis, the disease that killed Frederic Chopin and Henry David Thoreau, is making a comeback, in part because some strains of the bacterium have developed multi-drug resistance. Even in the 21st century, it’s quite possible to die of consumption.

3. There have been mass extinctions in the past, and we’re probably in one now.

Paleontologists have identified five points in Earth’s history when, for whatever reason (asteroid impact, volcanic eruptions and atmospheric changes are the main suspects), mass extinctions eliminated many or most species.

The concept of extinction took a while to sink in. Thomas Jefferson saw mastodon bones from Kentucky, for example, and concluded that the giant animals must still be living somewhere in the interior of the continent. He asked Lewis and Clark to keep an eye out for them.

Today, according to many biologists, we’re in the midst of a sixth great extinction. Mastodons may have been some of the earliest victims. As humans moved from continent to continent, large animals that had thrived for millions of years began to disappear—mastodons in North America, giant kangaroos in Australia, dwarf elephants in Europe. Whatever the cause of this early wave of extinctions, humans are driving modern extinctions by hunting, destroying habitat, introducing invasive species and inadvertently spreading disease.

Read more:

See full size image

4. Things that taste good are bad for you.

In 1948, the Framingham Heart Study enrolled more than 5,000 residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, to participate in a long-term study of risk factors for heart disease. (Very long term—the study is now enrolling the grandchildren of the original volunteers.) It and subsequent ambitious and painstaking epidemiological studies have shown that one’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain kinds of cancer and other health problems increases in a dose-dependent manner upon exposure to delicious food. Steak, salty French fries, eggs Benedict, triple-fudge brownies with whipped cream—turns out they’re killers. Sure, some tasty things are healthy—blueberries, snow peas, nuts and maybe even (oh, please) red wine. But on balance, human taste preferences evolved during times of scarcity, when it made sense for our hunter-gatherer ancestors to gorge on as much salt and fat and sugar as possible. In the age of Hostess pies and sedentary lifestyles, those cravings aren’t so adaptive.

5. E=mc²

Einstein’s famous equation is certainly one of the most brilliant and beautiful scientific discoveries—but it’s also one of the most disturbing. The power explained by the equation really rests in the c², or the speed of light (186,282 miles per second) times itself, which equals 34,700,983,524. When that’s your multiplier, you don’t need much mass—a smidgen of plutonium is plenty—to create enough energy to destroy a city.

6. Your mind is not your own.

Freud might have been wrong in the details, but one of his main ideas—that a lot of our behaviors and beliefs and emotions are driven by factors we are unaware of—turns out to be correct. If you’re in a happy, optimistic, ambitious mood, check the weather. Sunny days make people happier and more helpful. In a taste test, you’re likely to have a strong preference for the first sample you taste—even if all of the samples are identical. The more often you see a person or an object, the more you’ll like it. Mating decisions are based partly on smell. Our cognitive failings are legion: we take a few anecdotes and make incorrect generalizations, we misinterpret information to support our preconceptions, and we’re easily distracted or swayed by irrelevant details. And what we think of as memories are merely stories we tell ourselves anew each time we recall an event. That’s true even for flashbulb memories, the ones that feel as though they’ve been burned into the brain:

Like millions of people, [neuroscientist Karim] Nader has vivid and emotional memories of the September 11, 2001, attacks and their aftermath. But as an expert on memory, and, in particular, on the malleability of memory, he knows better than to fully trust his recollections… As clear and detailed as these memories feel, psychologists find they are surprisingly inaccurate.

7. We’re all apes.

It’s kind of deflating, isn’t it? Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection can be inspiring: perhaps you’re awed by the vastness of geologic time or marvel at the variety of Earth’s creatures. The ability to appreciate and understand nature is just the sort of thing that is supposed to make us special, but instead it allowed us to realize that we’re merely a recent variation on the primate body plan. We may have a greater capacity for abstract thought than chimps do, but we’re weaker than gorillas, less agile in the treetops than orangutans and more ill-tempered than bonobos.

Charles Darwin started life as a creationist and only gradually came to realize the significance of the variation he observed in his travels aboard the Beagle. For the past 151 years, since On the Origin of Species was published, people have been arguing over evolution. Our ape ancestry conflicts with every culture’s creation myth and isn’t particularly intuitive, but everything we’ve learned since then—in biology, geology, genetics, paleontology, even chemistry and physics—supports his great insight.

8. Cultures throughout history and around the world have engaged in ritual human sacrifice.

Say you’re about to die and are packing some supplies for the afterlife. What to take? A couple of coins for the ferryman? Some flowers, maybe, or mementos of your loved ones? If you were an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, you’d have your servants slaughtered and buried adjacent to your tomb. Concubines were sacrificed in China to be eternal companions; certain Indian sects required human sacrifices. The Aztecs slaughtered tens of thousands of people to inaugurate the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan; after sacred Mayan ballgames, the losing team was sometimes sacrificed.

It’s hard to tell fact from fiction when it comes to this particularly gruesome custom. Ritual sacrifice is described in the Bible, Greek mythology and the Norse sagas, and the Romans accused many of the people they conquered of engaging in ritual sacrifice, but the evidence was thin. A recent accumulation of archaeological findings from around the world shows that it was surprisingly common for people to ritually kill—and sometimes eat—other people.

9. We’ve already changed the climate for the rest of this century.

The mechanics of climate change aren’t that complex: we burn fossil fuels; a byproduct of that burning is carbon dioxide; it enters the atmosphere and traps heat, warming the surface of the planet. The consequences are already apparent: glaciers are melting faster than ever, flowers are blooming earlier (just ask Henry David Thoreau), and plants and animals are moving to more extreme latitudes and altitudes to keep cool.

Even more disturbing is the fact that carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. We have just begun to see the effects of human-induced climate change, and the predictions for what’s to come range from dire to catastrophic.

10. The universe is made of stuff we can barely begin to imagine.

Everything you probably think of when you think of the universe—planets, stars, galaxies, black holes, dust—makes up just 4 percent of whatever is out there. The rest comes in two flavors of “dark,” or unknown stuff: dark matter, at 23 percent of the universe, and dark energy, at a whopping 73 percent:

Scientists have some ideas about what dark matter might be—exotic and still hypothetical particles—but they have hardly a clue about dark energy. … University of Chicago cosmologist Michael S. Turner ranks dark energy as “the most profound mystery in all of science.”

The effort to solve it has mobilized a generation of astronomers in a rethinking of physics and cosmology to rival and perhaps surpass the revolution Galileo inaugurated on an autumn evening in Padua. … [Dark energy] has inspired us to ask, as if for the first time: What is this cosmos we call home?

But astronomers do know that, thanks to these dark parts, the universe is expanding. And not only expanding, but expanding faster and faster. Ultimately, everything in the universe will drift farther and farther apart until the universe is uniformly cold and desolate. The world will end in a whimper.

CommComm posted on May 21, 2010 18:48

Just about every summer David Bell and I end up talking about the a concert in the Sculpture garden at the BMA. There's nothing like jazz under the stars. The atmosphere is tres chic. The music never disappoints, and the audience is always appreciative, as are the musicians. (But I won't use the word "vibe" since it seems that "vibe" winds up in alot of descriptions about music venues or musicians---you get no vibe from me). Best place to go for music in the city. Unless you know a better one?

BMA Jazz.htm (16.36 kb)

CommComm posted on May 14, 2010 20:25

Summer WILL arrive (eventually!) and maybe this weekend you should stop by Patapsco State Park. I've been there a few times, and all that Nature can get all up in ya. I love it.

CommComm posted on May 6, 2010 23:58


Plant lover? Tree lover? If you haven't been to Cylburn you're missing one of the city's little hideaways. (I feel like I'm walking through a Jane Austen movie). And  their official market day is this coming Saturday. It'll be a little less hectic than the Flowermart, but the flowers may be more addictive. They practically sing your name out, like unadopted pets giving you 'the look'. Take me home! Pleeeeeeeeze. 


Cylburn Arboretum Asscoiation.mht (136.45 kb)

Search Blog


Month List